[Table of Contents]|
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton|
Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans (1916)
DOCTRINAL: THE UNIVERSAL NEED OF
RIGHTEOUSNESS SATISFIED BY THE
GOSPEL, AS IS SHOWN BY THE MANIFOLD
RESULTS EMANATING FROM GOSPEL
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTIFICATION.
SALUTATION AND PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS.
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2 which he promised afore through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord 5 through whom we received grace and apostleship, unto obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name's sake; 6 among whom are ye also, called to be Jesus Christ's: 7 to all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [The apostle opens his Epistle with one of his characteristic sentences: long and intricate, yet wonderful in its condensation and comprehensiveness,  his style of expression being, as Tholuck says, "most aptly compared to a throng of waves, where, in ever loftier swell, one billow presses close upon the other." The opening here may be compared with that at Gal. 1:1-5. Taken without its qualifying clauses, the sentence runs thus: "Paul to all that are at Rome: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Comp. Acts 23:26.) This sentence the apostle enlarges by three series of statements which lead up to each other, and the items of which also introduce each other, thus forming a closely connected chain of thought. First, by statements about himself, which assert that he, Paul, is an apostle, separated from worldly occupations, and sent out to preach the gospel (Gal. 1:1; Acts 9:15; 22:14, 15); second, by statements about the gospel, viz.: that it had its source of origin in God, that it was no innovation, being promised long beforehand through the prophets in the Holy Scriptures (comp. Acts 26:22; see Mic. 4:2; Isa. 40:9; 52:7; Nah. 1:15); that it concerned God's Son; third, by statements about God's Son, viz.: that according to the flesh (i. e., as to his human or fleshly nature) he was born (in the weakness of a child), and thus came into being as a descendant of David (which was required by prophecy--Ps. 89:36; 132:11, 12; Jer. 23:5); that according to the spirit of purity or holiness (i. e., as to his spiritual or divine nature, which, though a Sonship, was birthless, and hence did not come into being, but existed from the beginning) he was pointed out, declared or demonstrated to be the Son of God with power; which power manifested itself by triumphing over death in his resurrection (Ps. 7:2; 16:10. comp. 2 Tim. 2:8; Acts 13:23, 30); and that the Son of God is Jesus Christ our Lord. Thus Paul's thought completes its circle, and comes back again to himself and his apostleship, and introduces the second series of statements, which are about himself and his apostleship in this gospel of the Son of God: First, that through this Jesus Christ our Lord he had received grace (i. e., forgiveness, reconciliation, salvation, and all the other blessings which the gospel bestows), and the apostleship of which he has spoken; and that the aim of  that apostleship, or the purpose for which he was sent, is (1) to produce among all nations, i. e., the Gentiles, that obedience to the will of God which results from faith, or belief, in Jesus Christ, and (2) to glorify or exalt the name of Jesus Christ by promoting this obedience, etc. (Acts 9:15); (the majesty, dignity and authority of the apostleship are emphasized by the Lordship of him who gave it, by the world-wide scope of it and the glorious purpose of it); second, that his apostleship embraced those to whom he wrote, since they were also Gentiles, who had been called into this faith which made them Christ's. And here the second series leads to the third, and Paul now addresses the Roman Christians, to whom he writes, and states that they are: (1) the object of God's love, and (2) called to that obedience of faith which separates from sin and makes holy. Thus, step by step, Paul explains as to what gospel he is an apostle, as to whom his gospel relates, from whom he received his apostleship, for what purpose he had received it, what right it gave him to indite this letter, and to whom the letter was addressed. So much for the paragraph as a whole. Looking over its items, we may remark that: the term "servant" employed by Paul applied to all Christians generally (1 Cor. 7:22; Eph. 6:6); but the apostles loved to appropriate it, as expressing their entire devotion to Christ and his people, and lack of all official pride (Jas. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:1; Jude 1; Rev. 1:1). The phrase "spirit of holiness" is equivalent to Holy Spirit. It serves to show that Jesus had the same divine nature as the Holy Spirit, yet does not confuse the two personalities, so as to lose our Lord's identity. The resurrection of our Lord differed from all other resurrections in several important respects, each of which aided to reveal his divinity: (1) The prophets announced it beforehand (Ps. 16:10, 11). (2) He himself announced it beforehand (Matt. 16:21). (3) The power which raised him was not external to him, but within him (John 2:19; 10:17, 18). (4) It was a representative and all-inclusive resurrection (1 Cor. 15:22). (5) It was not a temporary restoration, like the cases of Lazarus and others who returned once more to the grave, but an eternal triumph over death  (6:9; Rev. 1:18). (6) It was the firstfruits of a like immortality for all those who, being part of the mystical body of Christ, shall be raised with him at the last day (1 Cor. 15:23-26). Lard, in his comments on this paragraph, calls attention to the fact that faith and belief are absolutely synonymous, for the two words in our English Bible are represented by one single substantive in the Greek text, viz.: pistis, which is derived from the verb pisteuoo, which is uniformly translated "believe." An endless amount of theological discussion and mystical preaching would have been avoided if our translators had not given us two words where one would have sufficed. Having in his opening address shown that he had an official right to write to the church at Rome, the apostle next reveals to them that he has an additional right to do so because of his interest in them and affection for them, which is manifested by his thanksgivings, prayers, etc.] 8 First [i. e., before I proceed to other matters, I wish you to know that], I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world. [Through the mediation of Christ (comp. Heb. 13:15; 1 Pet. 2:5; Col. 3:17; Eph. 5:20) Paul offers thanks on account of the Christians at Rome, because their faith had so openly and notoriously changed their lives from sin to righteousness that, wherever the apostle went, he found the churches in the whole Roman world, which then embraced western Asia, northern Africa and almost the whole of Europe, took notice of it. The apostle realized the incalculable good which would result from the proper enthronement of Christ in so important a center as Rome, and in view of its future effects on the world, its present influence over the church, its tendency to lighten and facilitate his own labors, and many like blessings and benefits, Paul thanks God that his enthronement had taken place in the loyal heart of those whom he addresses. He refers to the knowledge of believers, for the church was comparatively unknown to unbelievers, even in the city itself--Acts 28:22.] 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you, always in my  prayers 10 making request, if by any means now at length I may be prospered by the will of God to come unto you. [Since he could call no other witness as to the substance or contents of his secret prayers, he reverently appeals to God to verify his words, that he had continually remembered the Romans in his petitions, and had requested that, having been so long denied it, the privilege of visiting the church at Rome might now at last be granted to him. Paul's appeals to God to verify his words are quite common (2 Cor. 1:23; 11:31; Gal. 1:20, etc.). He describes God as one whom he serves not only outwardly but inwardly, publishing the gospel of his Son with hearty zeal, devotion and joy. He had traveled widely and constantly; his failure, therefore, to visit Rome might look like indifference, and his impending departure from Corinth, not toward Rome, which was now comparatively near, but in the opposite direction, might suggest that he was ashamed to appear or preach in the imperial city. The apostle replies to all this by simply stating, and asking God to verify the statement, that God had not yet prospered him in his plans or efforts to go to Rome.] 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 that is, that I with you may be comforted in you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine. [Paul here sets forth the reason why he so earnestly desired to visit the church at Rome; it was because he wished to enjoy the blessedness both of giving and receiving. Spiritual gifts are those wrought by the Holy Spirit, and of these Paul had two kinds to bestow: 1, extraordinary or miraculous, and 2, ordinary, or those pertaining to the Christian graces. No doubt he had the bestowal of both of these gifts in mind, for no apostle had yet visited the church to bestow the former, and, from the list of gifts recorded at 12: 6-8, it appears that that of prophecy was the only miraculous one they possessed; and the context, especially verse 12, indicates that the latter, or ordinary gifts, were also in his thoughts. Because their faiths were essentially the same, Paul here acknowledges the ability of all disciples, even the humblest, to comfort, i. e., to encourage  and help him by a strengthening of his faith; because their steadfastness would react on him. Gifts, whether of a miraculous nature, or merely graces, tended to establish or strengthen the church.] 13 And I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you (and was hindered hitherto), that I might have some fruit in you also, even as in the rest of the Gentiles. [He had desired to visit Rome that he might glorify Christ by making many converts in Rome (John 15:8, 16), just as he had in other Gentile cities. "That," says Meyer, "by which Paul had been hitherto hindered, may be seen at 15:22; consequently it was neither the devil (1 Thess. 2:18), nor the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6). Grotius aptly observes: "The great needs of the localities in which Christ was unknown constrained him." But the word at 15:22, and also at 1 Thess. 2:18, is egkoptoo, and the word here, and at Acts 16:6, is kooluoo, which, primarily, means to forbid, and implies the exercise of a superior will. The whole context here indicates that the divine will restrained Paul from going to Rome, and this in no way conflicts with the statement that the needs of the mission fields hindered him. God's will forbade, and the needs co-operated to restrain; just as in the instance in Acts, the Holy Spirit forbade to go any way save toward Europe, and the visionary cry from Europe drew onward. Two causes may conspire to produce one effect. Paul's entire will was subject to the will of Christ. As a free man he formed his plans and purposes, but he always altered them to suit the divine pleasure.] 14 I am debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians [foreigners, those who did not speak the Greek language], both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are in Rome. [Paul's knowledge of the good news, and his apostleship as to it, laid upon him the sacred obligation to tell it to all who had not heard it (1 Cor. 9:16-19). His commission as apostle to the Gentiles sent him to both Greeks and Barbarians, the two classes into which the Gentiles were divided; and left him no right to discriminate between tile cultured and the  ignorant. Moved by a desire to pay this debt, he was ready, so far as the direction of his affairs lay in his own power of choice, to preach to the Romans, who held no mean place among the Gentiles.] 
[Table of Contents]|
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton|
Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans (1916)
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