« ÎnapoiContinuați »
all its imperfections, however, I indulge the hope that it may not be an utterly useless labor; but that it may contribute somewhat to a more full appreciation of the important truths unfolded in this Epistle. With such hope I commend it to all lovers of truth, and especially to that branch of the Christian Church with which I have been officially and so pleasantly connected during more than a third part of a century. LUCIUS R. PAIGE.
CAMBRIDGE, May, 1857.
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.
CONCERNING the authorship of this Epistle there is no difference of opinion among Christians. It is universally ascribed to Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles. There is a like general agreement that the Epistle was written at Corinth, during Paul's visit of three months at that city, noticed in Acts xx. 3, about A. D. 57, and that it was written in the Greek language. Although the Latin was the mother tongue of the Romans, yet historians assert that the Greek was understood and spoken at Rome when this Epistle was written. Moreover, it was designed for the use of many who were not natives of Rome, and to whom the Greek language was more familiar than the Latin, as it also was to the writer.
The church at Rome, as is manifest from the Epistle itself, was composed of Jews and Gentiles. Both classes had brought into the church some of the peculiar doctrines which they had believed before their conversion to Christianity. Hence arose differences between them, in regard both to faith and duty. And it may be remarked, that most of the errors which at any time have prevailed in the Christian church had their origin either in Gentile philosophy or in Jewish law; -a law which the gospel abrogated, and a philosophy which it branded as foolishness.
To induce his Roman brethren to cast aside these differences, and to unite in the simple faith of the gospel, and in the observance of its precepts, the Apostle unfolds and illustrates the whole Christian system of faith and duty. A brief synopsis of that system, as herein developed, may not improperly precede a more particular examination in detail. After a salutation, ch. i. 1—7, and an expression of his wish to visit Rome, ver. 8-15, the Apostle announces his theme, namely, the necessity and the nature of that salvation which is revealed in the gospel. The sinfulness of mankind is assumed, as an undeniable fact. It is then declared that the Gentiles, guided by the light of nature, had utterly failed to attain deliverance from sin, chap. i. 16—32 ; and that the Jews had been equally unsuccessful, though aided by a reveale i law, chap. ii. 1—iii. 20. Throughout this exposition of human inability to attain full deliverance from sinfulness, the fact is constantly and distinct kept in sight, that the uniform and certain consequence of sin is misery, bot to Jew and Gentile. Hence appears the importance of deliverance, as well a
INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.
the necessity of a higher power to accomplish it. That power, he alleges, is divine grace, manifested in Jesus Christ, and made efficacious in its influence on the human heart through the medium of faith, chap. iii. 21-iv. 25. Divine grace is as universal as sin in extent, and more powerful in operation; because it overcomes and utterly destroys both sin and all its painful consequences, chap. v. This display of grace, however, affords no encouragement to a continuance in transgression; because sin always occasions misery while it endures, and because gratitude and obedience are the natural result of a firm faith in divine grace, chap. vi. The utter inefficacy of law, and the indispensable necessity and entire sufficiency of grace, in saving men from sin, are exhibited in chap. vii., viii. In accomplishing the work of salvation, God pursues his own method; unfolding his purpose to such persons, and in such degrees, as is consistent with the due execution of the whole design. He injures none, although, temporarily, some enjoy greater privileges than others; because the ultimate highest good is secured, not only of the moral universe in general, but of each individual in particular, chap. ix., x., xi. Hence, men are exhorted to devote themselves wholly to the service of such a gracious Ruler, and to obey all his precepts, chap. xii., xiii.; and especially are the Jewish and Gentile brethren exhorted to live in peace, as servants of the same Master; remembering that the same Lord Jesus Christ who came for the glory of Israel was also and equally commissioned to bestow light and salvation on the Gentiles. The Jews are therefore exhorted to strive for enlargement of faith; and the Gentiles to look with forbearance on the remaining prejudices and weaknesses of the Jews, chap. xiv., xv. The Epistle closes with salutations, a benediction, and a doxology, chap. xvi.
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.
PAUL, a servant of Jesus Christ,
1. Paul. Agreeably to an ancient custom, the apostle places his name at the commencement of his epistle, instead of subscribing it at the end. same form of address frequently occurs in the Old Testament. See Ezra i. 2; vii. 12; Dan. iv. 1. Even at the present time, it is used in cases of peculiar importance and solemnity; as in royal charters or proclamations, and in official communications from one branch of the Christian church to another. The original Hebrew name of this apostle was Saul; which, after his conversion, he exchanged for the Roman name Paulus, or, in its English form, Paul. See note on Acts xiii. 9. As he was in a peculiar manner an apostle to the Gentiles, it was fitting that he should use his Gentile rather than his Hebrew name, in his epistles to them; and such was his uniform practice. T A servant. The word here rendered servant indicates a person subject to the authority of another. It implies a master, to whom service is due. Hence it is sometimes used to express the condition of slavery, or servile bondage. It is applied also to royal courtiers, and officers of state, who are proud to be styled servants or slaves of the king. The prophets are styled the servants of God. Deut. xxxiv. 5; Jer. xxv. 4; Amos iii. 7. In like manner, the apostles are called, in the New Testament, servants of Christ. John xiii. 16; xv. 20. Our Loid acknowledged a more holy and tender relationship between himself and is disciples than that which is expressed by the words master and servant. Hle called them friends. John xv. 15. Yet they almost uniformly speak of themselves as servants; thus acknowledging the authority of their Master, and their subjection to his holy law.
called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
2 (Which he had promised afore
The condition indicated by the epithet which the apostle here assumes may be high or low, honorable or dishonorable. To be the servant of an equal is humiliating; but it is by many accounted honorable to be the servant of a king, or of one in high official station. To be the servant of God, the servant of Christ, the servant of righteousness, is man's most dignified and happy condition; while it is his deepest degrada tion, and most miserable estate, to be the servant of sin. ¶ Of Jesus Christ. The context indicates the apostle's intention, not only to profess his subjection to the authority of his Lord and Master, but also to assert his special appointment by that Master to a particular office; namely, the office of an apostle, a chosen messenger, who might speak with authority, in his Master's name. Called to be an apostle. Or, a called apostle. The word here rendered called "sometimes has the sense merely of invited, bidden. Matt. xx. 16; xxii. 14. But, in the writings of Paul, it is not used in the sense merely of invited, but always in the sense of efficient calling, as we say; that is, it means not only that the person designated has been invited or selected, but that he has accepted the invitation. 1 Cor. i. 1, 2, 24," &c. - Stuart. Our Lord, while he dwelt in the flesh, disclaimed teaching and acting by his personal independent authority; he appealed to a greater than himself, whose light both to instruct and to govern could not be disputed. John v. 19, 30; vi. 38, 39; vii. 16. In like manner, Paul bespeaks attention to his instructions, and asserts his right to speak with authority, by declaring himself to be a called or appointed apostle, divinely commissioned by the great Head of the church. (7)
by his prophets in the holy scrip- | tures,)
Apostle literally signifies one sent. See a most precious gift from God to men. note on Matt. x. 2. But among Chris- It is here called "the gospel of God;" tians this appellation is generally and in ver. 16, "the gospel of Christ." given only to the twelve, who were It is also denominated "the gospel of commissioned and sent out by our Lord, the grace of God," Acts xx. 24; "the during his personal ministry, and to glorious gospel of Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 4; Paul, who was specially called and "the gospel of peace," Eph. vi. 15; commissioned by the same Lord, after "the gospel of your salvation," Eph. his resurrection from the dead. Acts i. 13.
ix. 1-6, 15; xxvi. 15-18. [ Separated. Designated, or set apart from the common mass. This expression was familiar to the Jews, of whom there were many at Rome, who were accustomed to speak of themselves as a peculiar people, separated or set apart from the mass of mankind. Some suppose Paul to refer particularly to the separation mentioned Acts xiii. 2; "the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul," &c. But that separation appears to have been to a particular part of apostolic duty, rather than to the apostleship itself. More probably the reference is to that original separation or designation to this high office, which is indicated in Gal. i. 15, 16. "The meaning is, that God, who foreknows all things, did set him apart, choose, select him for the work of the gospel, even from the earliest period of his life. Gal. i. 15. So it is said of Jeremiah that he was set apart, selected for the prophetic office even before he was formed in his mother's womb; by all which expressions is meant, that God knows all persons and events before they exist or take place, and that he has a definite object in view which he intends to accomplish by them."- Stuart. Unto the gospel of God. His particular duty was to proclaim the gospel of God, and to defend the truth against all gainsayers. As his Master came into the world to "bear witness unto the truth," John xviii: 37, so this chosen apostle was appointed to perform a like service, in his name and behalf. Acts xxvi. 16. "The gospel is said to be God's, because it is good news from God; than which a greater commendation of the gospel cannot be conceived."-Macknight. Gospel literally signifies good news. See note on Mark i. 1. Its qualifications by the sacred writers serve to enforce its literal meaning, and to signalize it as
2. Which he had promised afore, &c. The gospel or good news concerning our Lord Jesus Christ had been pro claimed by the prophets, long before he appeared on earth in a visible form. The apostle here refers to that fact, parenthetically, to convince his Jewish brethren at Rome that he did not renounce their sacred books; that the doctrine taught by him was not inconsistent with previous revelations but that he taught the same truths in a more distinct manner; that what had formerly been revealed in a shadowy form, by types and figures, was now made manifest, in the life, instructions, miracles, death, and resurrection, of the promised Messiah. The Jews all believed that the prophets foretold the advent of the Messiah. The apostle would convince them that Jesus was that personage. To the same effect, he asserted, in presence of Agrippa, that he was accused and brought to trial, on account of the hope cherished by the fathers; and that he taught "none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come." Acts xxvi. 7, 22. The predic tions concerning the Messiah, and the blessings of his reign, are found from the earliest period; even in connection with the first recorded human transgression, Gen. iii. 15. They became more and more distinct through the long line of prophets. To one of these the apostle refers with much emphasis, Gal. iii. 8, and points out the manner of its fulfilment; and that these predictions were good news to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews, he quotes prophetic testimony, ch. xv. 8—13. T By his prophets. From the earliest ages, God had communicated his will to mankind by his prophets, "holy men of God, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 2 Pet. i. 21; Heb. i. 1. The predictions thus uttered had beer