1. Paul--(See on
a servant of Jesus Christ--The word here rendered "servant" means
"bond-servant," or one subject to the will and wholly at the disposal of
another. In this sense it is applied to the disciples of Christ at large
as in the Old Testament to all the people of God
But as, in addition to this, the prophets and kings of Israel were
officially "the servants of the Lord"
title), the apostles call themselves, in the same official sense, "the
servants of Christ" (as here, and
expressing such absolute subjection and devotion to the Lord Jesus as
they would never have yielded to a mere creature. (See on
Joh 5:22, 23).
called to be an apostle--when first he "saw the Lord"; the
indispensable qualification for apostleship. (See on
separated unto the--preaching of the
gospel--neither so late as when "the Holy Ghost said,
Separate me Barnabas and Saul"
nor so early as when "separated from his mother's womb" (see on
He was called at one and the same time to the faith and the apostleship
of God--that is, the Gospel of which God is the glorious Author. (So
1Th 2:2, 8, 9;
2. Which he had promised afore . . . in the holy
scriptures--Though the Roman Church was Gentile by nation (see on
yet as it consisted mostly of proselytes to the Jewish faith (see on
to this Epistle), they are here reminded that in embracing Christ they
had not cast off, but only the more profoundly yielded themselves to,
Moses and the prophets
(Ac 13:32, 33).
3, 4. Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord--the grand burden of
this "Gospel of God."
made of the seed of David--as, according to "the holy
scriptures," He behooved to be. (See on
according to the flesh--that is, in His human nature (compare
implying, of course, that He had another nature, of which the
apostle immediately proceeds to speak.
4. And declared--literally, "marked off," "defined," "determined,"
that is, "shown," or "proved."
to be the Son of God--Observe how studiously the language
changes here. He "was MADE [says the
apostle] of the seed of David, according to the flesh"
but He was not made, He was only "declared [or proved]
to BE the Son of God." So
Joh 1:1, 14,
"In the beginning WAS the Word . . .
and the Word was MADE flesh"; and
"Unto us a Child is BORN, unto us a Son
is GIVEN." Thus the Sonship of Christ is in no
proper sense a born relationship to the Father, as some,
otherwise sound divines, conceive of it. By His birth in the flesh,
that Sonship, which was essential and uncreated, merely effloresced
into palpable manifestation. (See on
Ac 13:32, 33).
with power--This may either be connected with "declared," and then the
meaning will be "powerfully declared" [LUTHER,
ALFORD, &c.]; or (as in our version, and as we think rightly) with "the
Son of God," and then the sense is, "declared to be the Son of God" in
possession of that "power" which belonged to Him as the only-begotten of
the Father, no longer shrouded as in the days of His flesh, but "by His
resurrection from the dead" gloriously displayed and henceforth to be
for ever exerted in this nature of ours [Vulgate,
according to the spirit of holiness--If "according to the flesh" means
here, "in His human nature," this uncommon expression must mean "in His
other nature," which we have seen to be that "of the Son of God"--an
eternal, uncreated nature. This is here styled the "spirit," as an
impalpable and immaterial nature
and "the spirit of holiness," probably in absolute contrast with
that "likeness, of sinful flesh" which He assumed. One is apt to wonder
that if this be the meaning, it was not expressed more simply. But if
the apostle had said "He was declared to be the Son of God according to
the Holy Spirit," the reader would have thought he meant "the
Holy Ghost"; and it seems to have been just to avoid this
misapprehension that he used the rare expression, "the spirit of
5. By whom--as the ordained channel.
we have received grace--the whole "grace that bringeth salvation"
and apostleship--for the publication of that "grace," and the
organization of as many as receive it into churches of visible
discipleship. (We prefer thus taking them as two distinct things, and
not, with some good interpreters, as one--"the grace of apostleship").
for obedience to the faith--rather, "for the obedience of faith"--that
is, in order to men's yielding themselves to the belief of God's saving
message, which is the highest of all obedience.
for his name--that He might be glorified.
6. Among whom are ye also--that is, along with others; for the apostle
ascribes nothing special to the Church of Rome (compare
the called--(See on
of Christ Jesus--that is, either called "by Him"
or the called "belonging to Him"; "Christ's called ones."
Perhaps this latter sense is best supported, but one hardly knows which
7. beloved of God--(Compare
Grace, &c.--(See on
and peace--the peace which Christ made through the blood of His cross
and which reflects into the believing bosom "the peace of God which
passeth all understanding"
from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ--"Nothing speaks more
decisively for the divinity of Christ than these juxtapositions of
Christ with the eternal God, which run through the whole language of
Scripture, and the derivation of purely divine influences from Him also.
The name of no man can be placed by the side of the Almighty. He only,
in whom the Word of the Father who is Himself God became flesh, may be
named beside Him; for men are commanded to honor Him even as they honor
8. your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world--This was quite
practicable through the frequent visits paid to the capital from all the
provinces; and the apostle, having an eye to the influence they would
exercise upon others, as well as their own blessedness, given thanks for
such faith to "his God through Jesus Christ," as being the source,
according to his theology of faith, as of all grace in men.
9. For God . . . whom I serve--the word denotes religious service.
with my spirit--from my inmost soul.
in the gospel of his Son--to which Paul's whole religious life and
official activity were consecrated.
is my witness, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my
prayers--so for the Ephesians
(Eph 1:15, 16);
so for the Philippians
(Php 1:3, 4);
so for the Colossians
(Col 1:3, 4);
so for the Thessalonians
(1Th 1:2, 3).
What catholic love, what all-absorbing spirituality, what impassioned
devotion to the glory of Christ among men!
10. Making request, if by any means now at length I may have a
prosperous journey by the will of God, to come to you--Though long
anxious to visit the capital, he met with a number of providential
and see on
insomuch that nearly a quarter of a century elapsed, after his
conversion, ere his desire was accomplished, and that only as "a
prisoner of Jesus Christ." Thus taught that his whole future was in the
hands of God, he makes it his continual prayer that at length the
obstacles to a happy and prosperous meeting might be removed.
11, 12. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual
gift--not any supernatural gift, as the next clause shows, and compare
to the end that ye may be established.
12. That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual
faith both of you and me--"Not wishing to "lord it over their faith,"
but rather to be a "helper of their joy," the apostle corrects his
former expressions: my desire is to instruct you and do you good, that
is, for us to instruct and do one another good: in giving I shall also
receive" [JOWETT]. "Nor is he insincere in so speaking, for there is
none so poor in the Church of Christ who may not impart to us something
of value: it is only our malignity and pride that hinder us from
gathering such fruit from every quarter" [CALVIN]. How "widely
different is the apostolic style from that of the court of Papal Rome!"
13. oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, but was let--hindered.
hitherto--chiefly by his desire to go first to places where Christ
was not known
that I might have some fruit--of my ministry
among you also, even as among other Gentiles--The GENTILE origin of the Church at Rome is here so
explicitly stated, that those who conclude, merely from the Jewish
strain of the argument, that they must have been mostly Israelites,
decide in opposition to the apostle himself. (But see on
to this Epistle.)
14, 15. I am debtor both to the Greeks--cultivated
and to the Barbarians--rude.
15. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you
that are at Rome also--He feels himself under an all-subduing
obligation to carry the gospel to all classes of mankind, as adapted to
and ordained equally for all
16. For I am not ashamed of the gospel--(The words, "of Christ,"
which follow here, are not found in the oldest and best manuscripts).
This language implies that it required some courage to bring to "the
mistress of the world" what "to the Jews was a stumbling-block and to
the Greeks foolishness"
But its inherent glory, as God's life-giving message to a dying world,
so filled his soul, that, like his blessed Master, he "despised the
for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that
believeth--Here and in
the apostle announces the great theme of his ensuing argument; SALVATION, the one overwhelming necessity of perishing
men; this revealed IN THE GOSPEL MESSAGE; and that
message so owned and honored of God as to carry, in the
proclamation of it, GOD'S OWN POWER TO SAVE EVERY SOUL
THAT EMBRACES IT, Greek and Barbarian, wise and unwise
17. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed--that is (as the
whole argument of the Epistle shows), GOD'S JUSTIFYING RIGHTEOUSNESS.
from faith to faith--a difficult clause. Most interpreters (judging
from the sense of such phrases elsewhere) take it to mean, "from one
degree of faith to another." But this agrees ill with the apostle's
design, which has nothing to do with the progressive stages of faith,
but solely with faith itself as the appointed way of receiving God's
"righteousness." We prefer, therefore, to understand it thus: "The
righteousness of God is in the gospel message, revealed (to be) from (or
'by') faith to (or 'for') faith," that is, "in order to be by faith
received." (So substantially, MELVILLE,
as it is written--
The just shall live by faith--This golden maxim of the Old
Testament is thrice quoted in the New Testament--here;
--showing that the gospel way of "LIFE BY FAITH,"
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