Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

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.

1

INTRODUCTION

TO THE

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 revealed law, chap. ii. 1— iii. 20. Throughout this exposition of human inability to attain full deliverance from sinfulness, the fact is constantly and distinctly kept in sight, that the uniform and certain consequence of sin is misery, both to Jew and Gentile. Hence appears the importauce of deliverance, as well as

[ocr errors]

VI

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.

CHAPTER I.

Paul

called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

2 (Which he had promised afore

a servant of Jesus Christ,

1. Paul. Agreeably to an ancient The condition indicated by the epithet custom, the apostle places his name at which the apostle here assumes may the commencement of his epistle, in- be high or low, honorable or dishonorstead of subscribing it at the end. The able. To be the servant of an equal is same form of address frequently occurs humiliating ; but it is by many acin the Old Testament. See Ezra i. 2; counted honorable to be the servant of vii. 12 ; Dan. iv. l. Even at the pres- a king, or of one in high official station. ent time, it is used in cases of peculiar To be the servant of God, the servant importance and solemnity ; as in royal of Christ, the servant of righteousness, charters or proclamations, and in oflicial is man's most dignified and happy concommunications from one branch of the dition ; while it is his deepest degrada. Christian church to another. The orig-tion, and most miserable estate, to be the inal Hebrew name of this apostle was servant of sin. Of Jesus Christ. The Saul ; wbich, after his conversion, he context indicates the apostle's intention, exchanged for the Roman name Paulus, not only to profess his subjection to the or, in its Eaglish form, Paul. See note authority of his Lord and Master, but on Acts xiii. 9. As he was in a peculiar also to assert his special appointment manner an apostle to the Gentiles, it by that Master to a particular office ;

was fitting that he should use his Gen- namely, the office of an apostle, a chosen I tile rather than his Hebrew naine, in messenger, who might speak with

his epistles to them ; and such was his authority, in his Master's name. uniform practice.

TA servant. The Called to be an apostle. Or, a called word here rendered servant indicates a apostle. The word here rendered called person subject to the authority of "sometimes has the sense merely of another. It implies a master, to whom invited, bidden. Matt. xx. 16; xxii. service is due. Hence it is sometimes 14. But, in the writings of Paul, it is used to express the condition of slavery, not used in the sense merely of invited, or servile bondage. It is applied also but always in the sense of efficient callto royal courtiers, and officers of state, ing, as we say ; that is, it means not who are proud to be styled servants or only that the person designated has slaves of the king. The prophets are been invited or selected, but that he has styled the servants of God. Deut. accepted the invitation. 1 Cor. i. 1, 2, xxxiv. 5 ; Jer. xxv. 4 ; Amos iii. 7. In 24,” &c. — Stuart. Our Lord, while he like manner, the apostles are called, in dwelt in the flesh, disclaimed teaching the New Testament, servants of Christ. and acting by his personal independent John xiii. 16 ; xv. 20. Our Lord av authority; he appealed to a greater knowledged a more holy and tonder than himself, whose right both tu inrelationsinip between himself and his struct and to govern could not be disdisciples than that which is expressed puted. John v. 19, 30 ; vi. 38, 39 ; by the words master and servant. TIevii. 16. In like manner, Paul bespeaks called them friends. John XV.

1. attention to his instructions, and asserts Yet they almost uniformly speak of his right to speak with authority, by themselves as servants ; thus acknow!- declaring himself to be a called or apedging the authority of their Naster, pointed apostle, divinely commissioned and their subjection to his holy law. by the great lead of the church.

(7)

by his prophets in the holy scrip-| tures,)

mass.

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. Sepa

2. Which he had promised afore, &c. rated. Designated, or set apart from The gospel or good news concerning the common

This expression our Lord Jesus Christ had been pro. was familiar to the Jews, of whom claimed by the prophets, long before he there were many at Rome, who were appeared on earth in a visible form, accustomed to speak of themselves as a The apostle here refers to that fact, peculiar people, separated or set apart parenthetically, to convince his Jewish from the mass of mankind. Some sup- brethren at Rome that he did not pose Paul to refer particularly to the renounce their sacred books; that the separation mentioned Acts xiii. 2; doctrine taught by him was not incon“the Holy Ghost said, Separate me sistent with previous revelations : but Barnabas and Saul," &c. But that that he taught the same truths in a separation appears to have been to a more distinct manner ; that wbat had particular part of apostolic duty, rather formerly been revealed in a shadowy than to the apostleship itself. More form, by types and figures, was now probably the reference is to that orig- made manifest, in the life, instructions, inal separation or designation to this miracles, death, and resurrection, of high oflice, which is indicated in Gal. i. the promised Messiah. The Jews all 15, 16. “ The meaning is, that God, believed that the prophets foretold the who foreknows all things, did set him advent of the Messiah.

The apostle apart, choose, select him for the work would convince them that Jesus was of the gospel, even from the earliest that personage. To the same effect, he period of his life. Gal. i. 15. So it is asserted, in presence of Agrippa, that said of Jeremiah that he was set apart, he was accused and brought to trial, on selected for the prophetic office even account of the hope cherished by the before he was formed in his mother's fathers; and that he taught “ none womb; by all which expressions is other things than those which the meant, that God knows all persons and prophets and Moses did say should events before they exist or take place, come.” Acts xxvi. 7, 22. The predicand that he has a definite object in view tions concerning the Messiah, and the which he intends to accomplish by blessings of his reign, are found from them.” Stuart. [Unto the gospel of the earliest period ; even in connection God. Ilis particular duty was to pro- with the first recorded human transclaim the gospel of God, and to defend gression, Gen. iii. 15. They became the truth against all gainsayers. As more and more distinct through the his Master came into the world to long line of prophets. To one of these “ bear witness unto the truth,” John the apostle refers with much emphasis, xviii: 37, so this chosen apostle was Gal. iii. 8, and points out the manner appointed to perform a like service, in of its fulfilment; and that these predichis name and behalf. Acts xxvi. 16. tions were good news to the Gentiles as “ The gospel is said to be God's, because well as to the Jews, he quotes prophetic it is good news from God ; than which testimony, ch. xv. 8—13. By his a greater commendation of the gospel prophets. From the earliest ages, God cannot be conceived." - Macknight. Gos- had communicated his will to mankind pel literally signifies good news. See by his prophets, “holy men of God, note on Mark i. 1. Its qualifications by who spake as they were moved by the the sacred writers serve to enforce its Holy Ghost.” 2 Pet. i. 21 ; Heb. i. l. literal ineaning, and to signalize it as The predictions thus uttered bad beer

« VorigeDoorgaan »