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Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, 6including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

7 To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Prayer of Thanksgiving

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. 9For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, 10asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. 11For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. 14I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish 15—hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

The Power of the Gospel

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”

The Guilt of Humankind

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

8. I first 2828     “It does not mean here the first in point of importance, but first in the order of time.” — Stuart. The same author thinks that men here has its corresponding δε in Romans 1:13, Οὐ θέλω δέ ὑμᾶς, etc., — Ed indeed, etc. Here the beginning commences, altogether adapted to the occasion, as he seasonably prepares them for receiving instruction by reasons connected with himself as well as with them. What he states respecting them is, the celebrity of their faith; for he intimates that they being honored with the public approbation of the churches, could not reject an Apostle of the Lord, without disappointing the good opinion entertained of them by all; and such a thing would have been extremely uncourteous and in a manner bordering on perfidy. As then this testimony justly induced the Apostle, by affording him an assurance of their obedience, to undertake, according to his office, to teach and instruct the Romans; so it held them bound not to despise his authority. With regard to himself, he disposes them to a teachable spirit by testifying his love towards them: and there is nothing more effectual in gaining credit to an adviser, than the impression that he is cordially anxious to consult our wellbeing.

The first thing worthy of remark is, that he so commends their faith, 2929     “Faith is put here for the whole religion, and means the same as your piety. Faith is one of the principal things of religion, one of its first requirements, and hence it signifies religion itself.” — Barnes. It is indeed the principal thing, the very basis of religion. Hebrews 11:6. — Ed. that he implies that it had been received from God. We are here taught that faith is God’s gift; for thanksgiving is an acknowledgment of a benefit. He who gives thanks to God for faith, confesses that it comes from him. And since we find that the Apostle ever begins his congratulations with thanksgiving, let us know that we are hereby reminded, that all our blessings are God’s free gifts. It is also needful to become accustomed to such forms of speaking, that we may be led more fully to rouse ourselves in the duty of acknowledging God as the giver of all our blessings, and to stir up others to join us in the same acknowledgment. If it be right to do this in little things, how much more with regard to faith; Which is neither a small nor an indiscriminate (promiscua) gift of God. We have here besides an example, that thanks ought to be given through Christ, according to the Apostle’s command in Hebrews 13:15; inasmuch as in his name we seek and obtain mercy from the Father. — I observe in the last place, that he calls him his God. This is the faithful’s special privilege, and on them alone God bestows this honor. There is indeed implied in this a mutual relationship, which is expressed in this promise,

“I will be to them a God;
they shall be to me a people.” (Jeremiah 30:22.)

I prefer at the same time to confine this to the character which Paul sustained, as an attestation of his obedience to the end in the work of preaching the gospel. So Hezekiah called God the God of Isaiah, when he desired him to give him the testimony of a true and faithful Prophet. (Isaiah 37:4.) So also he is called in an especial manner the God of Daniel. (Daniel 6:20.)

Through the whole world. The eulogy of faithful men was to Paul equal to that of the whole world, with regard to the faith of the Romans; for the unbelieving, who deemed it detestable, could not have given an impartial or a correct testimony respecting it. We then understood that it was by the mouths of the faithful that the faith of the Romans was proclaimed through the whole world; and that they were alone able to judge rightly of it, and to pronounce a correct opinion. That this small and despised handful of men were unknown as to their character to the ungodly, even at Rome, was a circumstance he regarded as nothing; for Paul made no account of their judgment.

9. For God is my witness, etc. He proves his love by its effects; for had he not greatly loved them, he would not have so anxiously commended them to the Lord, and especially he would not have so ardently desired to promote their welfare by his own labors. His anxiety then and his ardent desire were certain evidences of his love; for had they not sprung from it, they would never have existed. And as he knew it to be necessary for establishing confidence in his preaching, that the Romans should be fully persuaded of his sincerity, he added an oath — a needful remedy, whenever a declaration, which ought to be received as true and indubitable vacillates through uncertainty. For since an oath is nothing else but an appeal to God as to the truth of what we declare, most foolish is it to deny that the Apostle used here an oath. He did not notwithstanding transgress the prohibition of Christ.

It hence appears that it was not Christ’s design (as the superstitious Anabaptists dream) to abolish oaths altogether, but on the contrary to call attention to the due observance of the law; and the law, allowing an oath, only condemns perjury and needless swearing. If then we would use an oath aright, let us imitate the seriousness and the reverent manner exhibited by the Apostles; and that you may understand what it is, know that God is so called as a witness, that he is also appealed to as an avenger, in case we deceive; which Paul expresses elsewhere in these words,

“God is a witness to my soul.” (2 Corinthians 1:23.) 3030     The passage in Matthew 5:33-37, has been often wholly misunderstood. That oaths in common conversation are alone prohibited, is quite evident from what the passage itself contains. In solemn oaths there was no swearing by “heaven,” or by “God’s throne,” or by “the earth,” or by “Jerusalem,” or by “the head.” such forms were only used in conversation, as similar ones are still used: and these kinds of swearing are alone condemned by our Savior. — Ed.

Whom I serve with my spirit, etc. It is usual with profane men, who trifle with God, to pretend his name, no less boldly than presumptuously; but the Apostle here speaks of his own piety, in order to gain credit; and those, in whom the fear of God and reverence for his name prevail, will dread to swear falsely. At the same time, he sets his own spirit in opposition to the outward mask of religion; for as many falsely pretend to be the worshippers of God, and outwardly appear to be so, he testifies that he, from the heart served, God. 3131     “Sincerè et verè — sincerely and truly,” Wolfius, “not merely externally, but cordially,” Hodge. It may be also that he alluded to the ancient ceremonies, in which alone the Jews thought the worship of God consisted. He then intimates, that though he retained not observance of these, he was yet a sincere worshipper of God, according to what he says in Philippians 3:3,

“We are the true circumcision, who in spirit serve God,
and glory not in the flesh.”

He then glories that he served God with sincere devotion of heart, which is true religion and approved worship.

But it was expedient, as I have said, in order that his oath might attain more credit, that Paul should declare his piety towards God; for perjury is a sport to the ungodly, while the pious dread it more than a thousand deaths; inasmuch as it cannot be, but that where there is a real fear of God, there must be also a reverence for his name. It is then the same thing, as though Paul had said, that he knew how much sacredness and sincerity belonged to an oath, and that he did not rashly appeal to God as a witness, as the profane are wont to do. And thus, by his own example, he teaches us, that whenever we swear, we ought to give such evidence of piety, that the name of God, which we use in our declarations, may retain its sacredness. And further, he gives a proof, even by his own ministry, that he worshipped not God feignedly; for it was the fullest evidence, that he was a man devoted to God’s glory, when he denied himself, and hesitated not to undergo all the hardships of reproach, poverty, and hatred, and even the peril of death, in advancing the kingdom of God. 3232     ἐν τῶ εὐαγγελίω τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ “by the preaching of the gospel, etc.” Stuart. “In predicando evangelio — in preaching the gospel,” Beza. “I serve God, not in teaching legal rites, but a much more celestial doctrine,” Grotius

Some take this clause, as though Paul intended to recommend that worship which he said he rendered to God, on this account, — because it corresponded with what the gospel prescribes. It is indeed certain that spiritual worship is enjoined on us in the gospel; but the former interpretation is far the most suitable, — that he devoted his service to God in preaching the gospel. He, however, makes at the same time a difference between himself and hypocrites, who have something else in view rather than to serve God; for ambition, or some such thing, influences most men; and it is far from being the case, that all engage cordially and faithfully in this office. The meaning is, that Paul performed sincerely the office of teaching; for what he says of his own devotion he applies to this subject.

But we hence gather a profitable doctrine; for it ought to add no little encouragement to the ministers of the gospel, when they hear that, in preaching the gospel, they render an acceptable and a valuable service to God. What, indeed, is there to prevent them from regarding it an excellent service, when they know that their labor is pleasing to God, and is approved by him? Moreover, he calls it the gospel of the Son of God; for Christ is in it made known, who has been appointed by the Father for this end, — that he, being glorified, should also glorify the Father.

That continually, etc. He still further sets forth the ardor of his love by his very constancy in praying for them. It was, indeed, a strong evidence, when he poured forth no prayers to the Lord without making mention of them. That the meaning may be clearer, I render παντοτε, “always;” as though it was said, “In all my prayers,” or, “whenever I address God in prayer, I join a mention of you.” 3333     The order of the words, as arranged by Calvin, is better than that of our version; he connects “always in my prayers,” or, “in all my prayers,” with “requesting.” The simpler rendering would be as follows: —
   9. My witness indeed is God, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that I unceasingly make mention of you, always requesting in my prayers,

   10. That by some means now at length I may, through the will of God, have a free course to come to you.

   “In the gospel,” may either mean “according to the gospel,” or, “in preaching the gospel.” Hodge prefers the first. The particle ει clearly means “that” in this connection. That it is used in this sense in the New Testament there can be no doubt; see Acts 26:8, 23; Hebrews 7:15
Now he speaks not of every kind of calling on God, but of those prayers to which the saints, being at liberty, and laying aside all cares, apply their whole attention to the work; for he might have often expressed suddenly this or that wish, when the Romans did not come into his mind; but whenever he had previously intended, and, as it were, prepared himself to offer up prayers to God, among others he remembered them. He then speaks peculiarly of those prayers, for which the saints deliberately prepare themselves; as we find to have been the case with our Lord himself, who, for this purpose, sought retirement. He at the same time intimates how frequently, or rather, how unceasingly he was engaged in such prayers, since he says that he prayed continually.

10. Requesting, if by any means, etc. As it is not probable that we from the heart study his benefit, whom we are not ready to assist by our labors, he now adds, after having said that he was anxious for their welfare, that he showed by another proof his love to them, as before God, even by requesting that he might be able to advance their interest. That you may, therefore, perceive the full meaning, read the words as though the word also were inserted, requesting also, if by any means, etc. By saying, A prosperous journey by the will of God he shows, not only that he looked to the Lord’s favor for success in his journey, but that he deemed his journey prosperous, if it was approved by the Lord. According to this model ought all our wishes to be formed.

11. For I greatly desire to see you He might, indeed, while absent, have confirmed their faith by his doctrine; but as advice is better taken from one present, he had a desire to be with them. But he explains what his object was, and shows that he wished to undertake the toil of a journey, not for his own, but for their advantage. — Spiritual gifts 3434     The words, τι χάρισμα πνευματικὸν, some spiritual gift, or benefit, seem to be of general import. Some, such as Chalmers and Haldane, have supposed that a miraculous power is intended, which the Apostles alone conveyed, such as the power of speaking with tongues: but most Commentators agree in the view here given. The phrase is not found in any other place: χάρισμα, in the plural number, is used to designate miraculous powers. 1 Corinthians 12:9; and τὰ πνευματικά mean the same, 1 Corinthians 14:1. But here, no doubt, the expression includes any gift or benefit, whether miraculous or ordinary, which the Apostle might have been made the means of conveying. — Ed. he calls those which he possessed, being either those of doctrine, or of exhortation, or of prophesy which he knew had come to him through God’s favor. He has here strikingly pointed out the use of gifts by the word, imparting: for different gifts are distributed to each individual, that all may in kindness mutually assist one another, and transfer to others what each one possesses. See Romans 12:3; and 1 Corinthians 12:11

To confirm you, etc. He modifies what he had said of imparting, lest he should seem to regard them such as were yet to be instructed in the first elements of religion, as though they were not hitherto rightly taught in Christ. He then says, that he wished so to lend his aid to them, that they who had for the most part made a proficiency, might be further assisted: for a confirmation is what we all want, until Christ be fully formed in us. (Ephesians 4:13.)

12. Being not satisfied with this modest statement, he qualifies it, and shows, that he did not so occupy the place of a teacher, but that he wished to learn also from them; as though he said, “I desire so to confirm you according to the measure of grace conferred on me, that your example may also add courage (alacritatem — alacrity) to my faith, and that we may thus mutually benefit one another.”

See to what degree of modesty his pious heart submitted itself, so that he disdained not to seek confirmation from unexperienced beginners: nor did he speak dissemblingly, for there is no one so void of gifts in the Church of Christ, who is not able to contribute something to our benefit: but we are hindered by our envy and by our pride from gathering such fruit from one another. Such is our high-mindedness, such is the inebriety produced by vain reputation, that despising and disregarding others, every one thinks that he possesses what is abundantly sufficient for himself. I prefer to read with Bucer, exhortation (exhortationem — encouragement) rather than consolatim; for it agrees better with the former part. 3535     The verb is συμπαρακληθὢναι, which Grotius connects with επιποθῶ in the preceding verse; and adds, “He softens what he had said, by showing, that he would not only bring some joy to them, but they also to him.” “Ut percipiam consolationem — that I may receive consolation,” Piscator; — “Ut unà recreemur — that we may be together refreshed,” Castelio. “Ad communem exhortationem percipiendam — in order to receive common exhortation,” Beza; “Ut gaudium et voluptatem ex vobis precipiam — that I may receive joy and pleasure from you;” vel, “Ut mutuo solatio invicem nos erigamus atque firmemus — that by mutual comfort we may console and strengthen one another,” Schleusner
   The verb with the prefix, συμ, is only found here; but the verb παρακαλέω frequently occurs, and its common meaning is, to beseech, to exhort to encourage, and by these means to comfort.

   With regard to this passage, Professor Stuart says, “I have rendered the word, comfort, only because I cannot find any English word which will convey the full sense of the original.”

   “The word rendered to comfort,” says Professor Hodge, “means to invite, to exhort, to instruct, to console, etc. Which of these senses is to be preferred here, it is not easy to decide. Most probably the Apostle intended to use the word in a wide sense, as expressing the idea, that he might be excited, encouraged, and comforted by his intercourse with his Christian brethren.” — The two verses may be thus rendered: —

   11. For I desire much to see you, that I may impart to you spiritual

   12. benefit, so that you may be strengthened: this also is what I desire, to be encouraged together with you, through the faith which is in both, even in you and in me.

   Grotius observes, “ἐν ἀλλήλοις impropriè dixit pro in utrisque, in me et vobis. Dixit sic et Demosthenes, τα πρὸς ἀλλήλοις — Ed

13. I would not that you should be ignorant. What he has hitherto testified — that he continually requested of the Lord that he might visit them, might have appeared a vain thing, and could not have obtained credit, had he neglected to seize the occasion when offered: he therefore says, that the effort had not been wanting, but the opportunity; for he had been prevented from executing a purpose often formed.

We hence learn that the Lord frequently upsets the purposes of his saints, in order to humble them, and by such humiliation to teach them to regard his Providence, that they may rely on it; though the saints, who design nothing without the Lord’s will, cannot be said, strictly speaking, to be driven away from their purposes. It is indeed the presumption of impiety to pass by God, and without him to determine on things to come, as though they were in our own power; and this is what James sharply reprehends in James 4:13.

But he says that he was hindered: you must take this in no other sense, but that the Lord employed him in more urgent concerns, which he could not have neglected without loss to the Church. Thus the hinderances of the godly and of the unbelieving differ: the latter perceive only that they are hindered, when they are restrained by the strong hand of the Lord, so as not to be able to move; but the former are satisfied with an hinderance that arises from some approved reason; nor do they allow themselves to attempt any thing beyond their duty, or contrary to edification.

That I might obtain some fruit, etc. He no doubt speaks of that fruit, for the gathering of which the Lord sent his Apostles,

“I have chosen you, that ye may go and bring forth fruit,
and that your fruit may remain.” (John 15:16.)

Though he gathered it not for himself, but for the Lord, he yet calls it his own; for the godly have nothing more as their own than the work of promoting the glory of the Lord, with which is connected all their happiness. And he records what had happened to him with respect to other nations, that the Romans might entertain hope, that his coming to them would not be unprofitable, which so many nations had found to have been attended with so much benefit.

14. I am a debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, etc. Those whom he means by the Greeks and the Barbarians, he afterwards explains by adding, both to the wise and to the foolish; which words Erasmus has not rendered amiss by “learned and unlearned,” (eruditos et rudes,) but I prefer to retain the very words of Paul. He then takes an argument from his own office, and intimates that it ought not to be ascribed to his arrogance, that he thought himself in a manner capable of teaching the Romans, however much they excelled in learning and wisdom and in the knowledge of things, inasmuch as it had pleased the Lord to make him a debtor even to the wise. 3636     Chalmers paraphrases the text thus — “I am bound, or I am under obligation, laid upon me by the duties of my office, to preach both to Greeks and Barbarians, both to the wise and the unwise.”
   In modern phraseology, the words may be rendered, “Both to the civilized and to the uncivilized, both to the learned and to the unlearned, am I a debtor.” The two last terms are not exactly parallel to the two first, as many unlearned were among the Greeks, or the civilized, as well as among the Barbarians. — Ed.

Two things are to be here considered — that the gospel is by a heavenly mandate destined and offered to the wise, in order that the Lord may subject to himself all the wisdom of this world, and make all variety of talents, and every kind of science, and the loftiness of all arts, to give way to the simplicity of his doctrine; and what is more, they are to be reduced to the same rank with the unlearned, and to be made so meek, as to be able to bear those to be their fellow-disciples under their master, Christ, whom they would not have deigned before to take as their scholars; and then that the unlearned are by no means to be driven away from this school, nor are they to flee away from it through groundless fear; for if Paul was indebted to them, being a faithful debtor, he had doubtless discharged what he owed; and thus they will find here what they will be capable of enjoying. All teachers have also a rule here which they are to follow, and that is, modestly and kindly to accommodate themselves to the capacities of the ignorant and unlearned. Hence it will be, that they will be able, with more evenness of mind, to bear with many absurdities and almost innumerable things that may disgust them, by which they might otherwise be overcome. They are, however, to remember, that they are not so indebted to the foolish, as that they are to cherish their folly by immoderate indulgence.

15. I am therefore ready, 3737     τὸ κατ ἐμὲ πρόθυμον, literally, “As to me there is readiness;” or, according to StuartThere is a readiness so far as it respects me.” But, “I am ready,” or “I am prepared,” conveys the meaning sufficiently, without the other words, “As much as in me is.” By saying that he was prepared, he intimates that the event depended on another, even on God. — Ed. etc. He concludes what he had before said of his desire — that as he knew it to be his duty to spread the gospel among them, in order to gather fruit for the Lord, he was anxious to fulfill God’s calling, as far as he was allowed to do so by the Lord.

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