Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE

TO THE

ROMANS

REVISED VERSION WITH ANNOTATIONS

THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE

TO THE

ROMANS

PAUL, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, 1

Epistolary Introduction. i. 1-17.

While in its general character the Epistle is a treatise as well as a letter, yet the Introduction (i. 1-17) and the Conclusion (xv. 14—xvi. 27) are both epistolary in character, and deal with the personal relations of the writer and his readers. The Introduction falls into two parts, the apostolic salutation (i. 1−7) and personal explanations (8-17).

I. i. 1-7. The apostolic salutation.

In this passage Paul describes himself, his gospel, his Lord, and the persons whom he is addressing, and sends the appropriate Christian greeting. (1) He himself has received grace, has been called as an apostle, has been separated unto the gospel for the Gentiles, and has become a bond slave of Jesus Christ. (2) His gospel has been promised in prophecy, is concerned with the Son of God, and claims submissive acceptance. (3) His Lord was a descendant of David, was marked out as Divine by the Spirit of Holiness, was in a supernatural mode installed Son of God as a result of his resurrection, and is associated with the Father as the source of spiritual blessing. (4) His readers belong to Christ, are beloved of God, and are destined for holiness. (5) His salutation combines the Greek and the Hebrew greetings, but with the fuller meaning that Christian faith gives to both terms. This salutation is remarkable for its developed theology. The credentials of an apostle, the characteristics of the Christian Church, the relation of the old and the new religion, the divinity of Christ, the unity of Father and Son in the Godhead, are indicated.

1. Paul. This name was probably borne by the Apostle from his birth as well as his other name Saul, as Jews living abroad often had both a Greek or Latin and a Jewish name. Although the book of Acts calls him Saul until the visit to the proconsul

G

2 separated unto the gospel of God, which he promised 3 afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning

Sergius Paulus, at Paphos in Cyprus (Acts xiii. 9, 'Saul, who is also called Paul'); yet it is improbable that Paul adopted this as a new name in compliment to the proconsul. The beginning of his distinctive work as Apostle of the Gentiles was an appropriate occasion for the disuse of his Jewish and the adoption of his Gentile name.

servant: Gr. 'bondservant.' The English word 'servant' gives the sense correctly, as all the degrading associations of slavery are absent in this relation. The term expresses purchase by Christ (1 Cor. vi. 19, 20) and self-surrender by Paul (vi. 18, 19). } The O. T. applies the term to prophets (Amos iii. 7; Jer. vii. 25; Dan. ix. 6; Ezra ix. 11), in whose succession Paul thus puts himself; but the name of Christ without any explanation takes the place of the name of Jehovah.

called: as Abraham (Gen. xii. 1-3), Moses (Exod. iii, 10), Isaiah (vi. 8, 9), and Jeremiah (i. 4, 5).

apostle: lit. 'one sent,' is used in wider and narrower sense in N. T. in wider sense it includes personal disciples of Jesus, and witnesses of his resurrection, as Barnabas (Acts xiv. 14); in narrower sense it is applied only to the Twelve, and is claimed by Paul for himself as equal with and independent of the Twelve (Gal. ii. 1-10); for he had seen Jesus not only with the bodily eye (1 Cor. ix. 1) but also by spiritual vision (2 Cor. iii. 18, iv. 6), had received a Divine call (1 Cor. i. 1, 17; Gal. i. 1), had been confirmed in his vocation by success (1 Cor. ix. 2, xvi. 10), had shewn the signs of an apostle (2 Cor. xii. 12), had sealed his apostleship by his sufferings (Gal. vi. 17; 2 Cor. vi. 4-10), and had received his message from God (Gal. i. 11, 12). Not vanity or ambition, but devotion to, and zeal for, his gospel of free grace and Gentile liberty led Paul to contend so earnestly for the recognition of his apostleship.

separated: (1) in God's purpose (Gal. i. 15, 16), (2) at his conversion (Acts ix. 15), (3) by the appointment of the church at Antioch (Acts xiii. 2).

[ocr errors]

gospel of God. Probably Jesus so described his announcement of the arrival of the Messianic time as 'good news' (Matt. iv. 23; Mark i. 14, 15). Paul uses the term sixty times; sometimes his phrase is gospel of God,' and at others gospel of Christ'; but the connexion of the terms is better taken generally than as defining particularly God as the author or Christ as the content of good news.

[ocr errors]

2. promised. The times of Jesus were marked by eager expectancy, and the Christian preachers of the earliest days

his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared to be the son of God with 4

sought to commend the gospel as the fulfilment of prophecy or God's promise (Matt. v. 17; Luke iv. 21; Acts ii. 14, iii. 22, xxvi. 6; Rom. iv. 13, xv. 8).

prophets: used in wider sense for all the O. T. writers, as in Heb. i. I.

holy scriptures: probably the first known use of the phrase, although a collection of authoritative writings is already recognized in the Prologue to Ecclesiasticus about 130 B. C. The writings are called 'holy' because belonging to God in origin and contents. 3. was born: lit. became,' in contrast to what, as Son of God, he eternally is.

the seed of David. Matthew (i. 17, 21) and Luke (iii. 23) both trace the descent of Joseph from David. The Pharisees' answer to Jesus' question (Matt. xxii. 41-45) shews what the popular expectation was. Jesus himself suggests a difficulty about their answer, and does not base his claims on the fact of his Davidic descent, nor uses of himself the term 'son of David.' This fact is mentioned as part of Paul's gospel (2 Tim. ii. 8), and is appealed to as evidence in Peter's speech at Pentecost (Acts ii. 30). In the Revelation Christ is described as 'the root and the offspring of David' (xxii. 16). The mention of the fact here may be due to Paul's desire to conciliate, as far as he can, Jewish feeling (cf. ix. 5).

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

according to the flesh means either 'as regards the body' or in his human nature,' as we take the contrasted phrase according to the Spirit' to refer to the spiritual or the Divine nature of Jesus, without any intention of denying that he had a human spirit as well as body. Paul probably uses flesh' here as that which is characteristic of humanity, as distinguished from God as Spirit, to describe the manhood generally; for Paul cannot be regarded as limiting Christ's connexion with the human race to his body (for fuller treatment of the term flesh' see note on vii. 18).

[ocr errors]

4. declared: Gr. determined.' The Greek word means either designated' or ordained' (Acts x. 42, xvii. 31); but Paul's meaning cannot be decided by the sense of one term. As Paul taught the pre-existence of Christ as Divine (2 Cor. iv. 4, viii. 9; Col. i. 15-19), he cannot mean that Christ became Son of God at his resurrection; yet, as he regarded the Incarnation itself as an act of self-humiliation by Christ, so he represented the Resurrection as an exaltation of Christ by God (Phil. ii. 5-11). We must take the words rather in the second sense, but must understand, not an assumption of Divine nature at the Resurrec

« PreviousContinue »