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A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans online

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present time simply) r'jdr) denotes the present or near future in
relation to the process by which it has been reached, and with
a certain suggestion of surprise or relief that it has been reached so
soon as it has. So here v'f^i; = ' now, after all this waiting ' : ttot*
makes the moment more indefinite. On ^§7 see Baumlein, Griech.
Pariikeln, p. 138 ff.

euoSwOrjaofiai. The word has usually dropped the idea of 6h6s
and means ' to be prospered ' in any way (e. g. i Cor. xvi. 2 5 rt
av (vo8i>Tai, where it is used of profits gained in trade; similarly in
LXX and 7es/. XII. Patr. Jud. i. Gad 7) ; and so here Mey. Gif.
RV., &c. It does not, however, follow that because a metaphor is
often dropped, it may not be recalled where it is directly suggested
by the context. We are thus tempted to render with the earlier
English Versions and Vulg. prosperum iter habeam (' I lave
a spedi wey ' Wic).


iv Tw d(Xrjix,aTi Toi) 0eov. St. Paul has a special reason for
laying stress on the fact that all his movements are in the hands
of God. He has a strong sense of the risks which he incurs in
going up to Jerusalem (Rom. xv. 30 f ), and he is very doubtful
whether anything that he intends will be accomplished (Hort,
Jio>?i. and Eph. p. 42 ff.).

f\6e7v : probably for Zare i\Ouv (Burton, § 371 c).

11. emiroSci : e7n- marks the direction of the desire, * to you-
ward ' ; thus by laying stress on the personal object of the verb it
rather strengthens its emotional character.

XapicTfta Tr^'eufiaTiKoc. St. Paul has in his mind the kind of gifts
— partly what we should call natural and partly transcending tlie
ordinary workings of nature — described in i Cor. xii-xiv ; Rom.
xii. 6 ff. Some, probably most, of these gifts he possessed in an
eminent degree himself (i Cor. xiv. 18), and he was assured that
when he came to Rome he would be able to give the Christians
there the fullest benefit of them (Rom. xv. 29 olda 8e on epxaptevos

npos Vfias iv ivKripa)p.aTi. (vXoyias Xpiarov tXevcropai^. His was COn-

spicuously a case which came under the description of John vii. 38
' He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his
belly shall flow rivers of living water,' i. e. the believer in Christ
should himself become a centre and abounding source of spiritual
influence and blessing to others.

«is TO o-njpixS-fivai : (Is to with Infin. expressing purpose 'is employed
with special frequency by Paul, but occurs also in Heb. i Pet. and Jas.'
(Burton, § 409).

12. crup,TrapaKXT]0T]t'ai : the subject is ept, which, from the crw in
a-vfinapoKX. and fv vplv, is treated in the latter part of the sentence as
equivalent to repels. We note of course the delicacy with which the
Apostle suddenly checks himself in the expression of his desire to
impart from his ou-n fulness to the Roman Christians : he will not
assume any airs of superiority, but meets them frankly upon their
own level : if he has anything to confer upon them they in turn
will confer an equivalent upon him.

13. ou 6«X(>> : ovK otofiai (D*) G, tMH arbitrar d e g Ambrstr. ; an instance
of Western paraphrase.

o-xS, ' I may get.'

14. "eXXtjcti Tfi Kol Pap|3d[pois: a resolution mto its parts of n-orra
TO. e'Bi^r], according to (i) divisions of language, (ii) degrees of culture.

15. TO KOT ejxe. It is perhaps best, with Gif. Va. Mou., to take
TO Kar (fis as subject, ■npoBvp.ov as predicate : so g Vulg. quod in me
promtum est. In that case tA kut ipe will = * I, so far as it rests
with me,' i.e. 'under God' — L'homme propose, Dieu dispose) cf. iv
TO) i9fXi7/ian Tov Oeov above. Differently Orig.-lat. (Rufinus) who

aa EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [l. 16, 17.

makes tA kot' ifii adverbial, quod in me est promtus sum. : so too
d e Ambrstr. The objection to this is that St. Paul would have
written irp66vft6s flfii. Mey. Lips, and others take t6 kot e/xe npodv-
fMuv together as subject of [eord'] fvayyfXia-aadui, ' hence the eager-
ness on my part (is) to preach.' In Eph. vi. 21 ; Phil. i. la ; CoL
iv. 7 TO kut' f/xt = • my affairs.*


I. 16, 17. T/iaf message^ humble as it may seem, casts
a new light on the righteousness of God: for it tells how
His righteousness flows forth and embraces man, when it is
met by Faith^ or loyal adhesion to Christ.

*• Even there, in the imperial city itself, I am not ashamed of my
message, repellent and humiliating as some of its features may
seem. For it is a mighty agency, set in motion by God Himself,
and sweeping on with it towards the haven of Messianic security
every believer — first in order of precedence the Jew, and after him
the Gentile. " Do you ask how this agency works and in what it
consists ? It is a revelation of the righteousness of God, manifested
in a new method by which righteousness is acquired by man, —
a method, the secret of which is Faith, or ardent loyalty to Jesus
as Messiah and Lord ; which Faith is every day both widening its
circles and deepening its hold. It was such an attitude as this
which the prophet Habakkuk meant when, in view of the desolating
Chaldaean invasion, he wrote : ' The righteous man shall save his
life by his faith, or loyalty to Jehovah, while his proud oppressors

16. cTraiaxoi'ojiai. St. Paul was well aware that his Gospel was
' unto Jews a stumbling-block and unto Gentiles foolishness '
(i Cor. i. 23). How could it be otherwise, as Chrysostom says, he
was about to preach of One who 'passed for the son of a carpenter,
brought up in Judaea, in the house of a poor woman . . . and who
died like a criminal in tlie company of robbers? ' It hardly needed
the contrast of imperial Rome toempliasize this. On the attraction
which Rome had for St. Paul see the Introduction, § i ; also Hicks
in Studia Biblica, iv. 11.

We have an instance here of a corruption coming into the Greek text
through the Latin : tva'ax. l-nX t\ia'j~fi\iov G, trubesco super evangelium g.


confttndor de evangelio Aug. The Latin renderings need not imply any
various reading. The barbarism in G, which it will be remembered has an
interlinear version, arose from the attempt to find a Greek equivalent for
every word in the Latin. This is only mentioned as a clear case of a kind of
corruption which doubtless operated elsewhere, as notably in Cod. Bezae.
It is to be observed, however, that readings of this kind are necessarily quite

Soi'ajjiis is the word properly used of the manifestations of Divine
power. Strictly indeed hvva^ii^ is the inherent attribute or faculty,
ivipyeia is the attribute or faculty in operation. But the two words
are- closely allied to each other and hvvanis is so often used for
exerted power, especially Divine superhuman power, that it practi-
cally covers evepyna. St. Paul might quite well have written
ivipyeia here, but the choice of Swa/^ir throws the stress rather more
on the source than on the process. The word dvvafus in a context
like this is one of those to which modern associations seem to give
a greater fulness and vividness of meaning. We shall not do wrong
if we think of the Gospel as a ' force ' in the same kind of sense as
that in which science has revealed to us the great ' forces ' of nature.
It is a principle operating on a vast and continually enlarging scale,
and taking effect in a countless number of individuals. This con-
ception only differs from the scientific conception of a force like
' heat' or ' electricity ' in that whereas the man of science is too apt
to abstract his conception of force from its origin, St. Paul con-
ceives of it as essentially a mode of personal activity ; the Gospel
has all God's Omnipotence behind it. As such it is before all
things a real force, not a sham force like so many which the
Apostle saw around him; its true nature might be misunderstood,
but that did not make it any less powerful : 6 Xi'iyos yap 6 tov crravpov

I Cor. i. 18 ; cf. i Cor. ii. 4, iv. 20; i Thess. i. 5.

eis (Jwm\[tLo.v. The fundamental idea contained in aarr^pia is the
removal of dangers menacing to life and the consequent placing
of life in conditions favourable to free and healthy expansion.
Hence, as we might expect, there is a natural progression corre-
sponding to the growth in the conception of life and of the dangers
by which it is threatened, (i) In the earlier books of the O. T.
0-0)7-. is simply deliverance from physical peril (Jud. xv. 18; i Sam.
xi. 9j 13, &c.). (ii) But the word has more and more a tendency
to be appropriated to the great deliverances of the nation (e. g. Ex.
xiv. 13, XV. 2, the Passage of the Red Sea; Is. xlv. 17, xlvi. 13, Hi.
10, &c., the Return from Exile), (iii) Thus by a natural transition
it is associated with the Messianic deliverance ; and that both (a) in
the lower forms of the Jewish Messianic expectation {Ps. Sol. x.
9; xii. 7; cf. Test. XII. Fair. Sym. 7; Jud. 22; Benj. 9, 10 [the form
used in all these passages is (TU)Ti]piov^ ; Luke i. 69, 71, 77), and (/3)
in the higher form of the Christian hope (Acts iv. 22; xiii. 26, &c.).


In this latter sense a-MTripia covers the whole range of the Messianic
deliverance, both in its negative aspect as a rescuing from the
Wrath under which the whole world is lying (ver. i8 ff.) and in its
positive aspect as the imparting of 'eternal life ' (Mark x. 30 ll ;
John iii. 15, 16, &c.). Both these sides are already combined in
the earliest extant Epistle {on ovk fSfro fjnas 6 eeor ds opyTjv, «XX' tls

nepmoirjaiv auiTijpias 8ia tuv Kvpiov rjfiav Irjauv X/Jtoroi", tov anodavSvTos
vrrtp Tjpodv, iva fire yp]]yopa}p.e» t'lrt Kaf'evSw/xei' apa avv ainu ^tjaapev

I Thess. v. 9, 10).

irpwToi': om. BGg, Tert. adv. Marc. Lachmann Treg. WH.
bracket, because of the combination of B with Western authorities ;
but they do no more than bracket because in Epp. Paul. B has a
slight Western element, to which this particular reading may be-
long. In that case it would rest entirely upon Western authority.
Marcion appears to have omitted TrpwTov as well as the quotation
from Habakkuk, and it is possible that the omission in this small
group of Western MSS. may be due to his influence.

For the precedence assigned to the Jew comp. Rom. iii. i, ix. i ff.,
xi. 16 fF., XV. 9; also Matt. xv. 24; Jo. iv. 22 ; Acts xiii. 46. Ttie
point is important in view of Baur and his followers who exaggerate
the opposition of St. Paul to the Jews. He defends himself and
his converts from their attacks; but he fully concedes the priority of
their claim and he is most anxious to conciliate them (Rom. xv. 31 ;
cf. ix. I ff., X. I ff.; XV. 8, &c.: see also Introduction § 4).

17. SiKaiocruk'Tj 0eou. For some time past it has seemed to
be almost an accepted exegetical tradition that the ' righteous-
ness of God ' means here ' a righteousness of which God is the
author and man the recipient,' a righteousness not so much ' 0/
God' as '/rom God,' i.e. a state or condition of righteousness
bestowed by God upon man. But quite recently two protests
have been raised against this view, both English and both, as
it happens, associated with the University of Durham, one by
Dr. Barmby in the Pulpit Cornmentary on Romans, and the other
by Dr. A. Robertson in The TJiinker for Nov. 1893 *; comp. also a
concise note by Dr. T. K.Abbott adloc. There can be little doubt
that the protest is justified ; not so much that the current view is
wrong as that it is partial and incomplete.

The ' righteousness of God ' is a great and comprehensive idea
which embraces in its range both God and man ; and in this
fundamental passage of the Epistle neither side must be lost sight
of (i) In proof that the righteousness intended here is primarily
'the righteousness of God Himself it may be urged: (i) that this
is consistently the sense of the righteousness of God in the Old
Testament and more particularly in passages closely resembling the
present, such as Ps. xcviii. [xcvii.] 2, ' The Lord hath made

• The point is, however, beginning to attract some attention in Germany.


known His salvation : Flis righteousness hath He revealed (aTrf^fi-
\v^ev) in the sight of the nations,' which contains the three key-
words of the verse before us ; (ii) that elsewhere in the Episile
StK. eeoi; = ' the righteousness of God Himself (several ot the
passages, e.g. iii. 21, 22, x. 3, have the same ambiguity as the
text, but iii. 5, 25, 26 are quite clear) ; (iii) that the marked
antithesis anoKoKv-nnTM yap opyf] Qiov in ver. 18 compared with
SiKaioarwij yap Qeov aVo/cuAvTrreTai in ver. 1 7 requires that the gen.
Qeov shall be taken in the same sense in both places. These are
arguments too strong to be resisted.

"(2) But at the same time those which go to prove that StK. Gfov is
a gift of righteousness bestowed upon man are hardly less con-
vincing, (i) The righteousness in question is described as being
revealed «k TrtWfws ds Trianv ; and in the parallel passage iii. 22 it is

qualified as 8ik. Qeov Sta nlcrTeun 'ij^rroG XpirrToii ds Trairas tovs TTiarevov-

ras, where its relation to the human recipient is quite unmistak-
able, (ii) This relation is further confirmed by the quotation from
Habakkuk where the epithet BIkqios is applied not to God but to
man. Observe the logical connexion of the two clauses, ^iKuioa-vvr)

yap Qeov diroKaXvTrTerai . . . Kadcos yey pa jrrat, 'O df dlKaios eK nlaTewi

(fjatrai. (iii) Lastly, in the parallel Phil. iii. 9 the thought of the
Apostle is made quite explicit : fifi e')(oov iprjv SiKaioa-vvt]!' t!]v (k vo^ov,

akya TTjv hin n'i(TTfU)i Xpiarov, rrjv eK Qeoii biKaiocrvvrjv inX rrj TTiVrei. The

insertion of the preposition eK transfers the righteousness from
God to man, or we may say traces the process of extension by
which it passes from its source to its object.

For (3) the very cogency of the arguments on both sides is
enough to show that the two views which we have set over against
each other are not mutually exclusive but rather inclusive. The
righieousness of which the Apostle is speaking not only proceeds
from God but is the righteousness of God Himself: it is this, how-
ever, not as inherent in the Divine Essence but as going forth and
embracing the personalities of men. It is righteousness active and
energizing; the righteousness of the Divine Will as it were pro-
jected and enclosing a.nd gathering into itself hurs^sji ■^ilJa. St. Paul
fixes this sense upon it in another of the great key-verses of the

Epistle, ch. iii. 26 els t6 elvai avTov ^Uaiov Kai SiKaiovvTa tov in niaTeus

'Irjaov. The second half of this clause is in no way opposed to the
first, but follows from it by natural and inevitable sequence : God
attributes righteousness to the believer because He is Himself
righteous. The whole scheme of things by which Pie gathers to
Himself a righteous people is the direct and spontaneous expression
of His own inherent righteousness : a necessity of His own Nature
impels Him to make them like Himself. The story how He has
done so is the burden of the ' Gospel.' For a fuller development.
of the idea contained in * the righteousness of God' see below.


Ik morews. This root-conception with St. Paul means in the
first instance simply the acceptance of Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah
and Son of God ; the affirmation of that primitive Christian Creed
which we have already had sketched in vv. 3, 4. It is the ' Yes' of
the soul when the central proposition of Christianity is presented to
it. We hardly need more than this one fact, thus barely stated, to
explain why it was that St. Paul attached such immense importance
to it. It is so characteristic of his habits of mind to go to the root
of things, that we cannot be surprised at his taking for the centre of
his system a principle which is only less prominent in other writers
because they are content, if we may say so, to take their section of
doctrine lower down the line and to rest in secondary causes instead
of tracing them up to primar)'. Two influences in particular seem
to have impelled the eager mind of St. Paul to his more penetrative
view. One was his own experience. He dated all his own spiri-
tual triumphs from the single moment of his vision on the road to
Damascus. Not that they were all actually won there, but they
were all potentially won. That was the moment at which he was
as a brand plucked from the burning : anything else that came to
him later followed in due sequence as the direct and inevitable out-
come of the change that was then wrought in him. It was then
that there flashed upon him the conviction that Jesus of Nazareth,
whom he had persecuted as a pretender and blasphemer, w-as really
exalted to the right hand of God, and really charged with infinite
gifts and blessings for men. The conviction then decisively won
sank into his soul, and became the master-key which he applied to
the solution of all problems and all struggles ever afterwards.

But St. Paul was a Jew, an ardent Jew, a Pharisee, who had
spent his whole life before his conversion in the study of the Old
Testament. And it was therefore natural to him, as soon as he
began to reflect on this experience of his that he should go back to
his Bible, and seek there for the interpretation of it. When he
did so two passages seemed to him to stand out above all others.
The words nia-ris, iTt(TTfvio are not very common in the LXX, but
they occurred in connexion with two events which were as much
turning-points in the history of Israel as the embracing of Chris-
tianity had been a turning-point for himself. The Jews were in
the habit of speculating about Abraham's faith, which was his
response to the promise made to him. The leading text which
dealt with this was Gen. xv. 6 : and there it was distinctly laid
down that this faith of Abraham's had consequences beyond itself:
another primary term was connected with it : ' Abraham believed
God and it (his belief) was reckoned unto him for righteousness.'
Again just before the beginning of the great Chaldaean or Baby-
lonian invasion, which was to take away their 'place and nation'
from the Jews but which was at the same lime to purify them in

I. 17.]


the furnace of affliction, the Prophet Hatakkuk had announced thai
one class of persons should be exempted on the ground of this
very quality, ' faith.' ' The just or righteous man shall live by
faith.' Here once more faith was brought into direct connexion
with righteousness. When therefore St. Paul began to interrogate
his own experience and to ask why it was that since his conversion,
i. e. since his acceptance of Jesus as Messiah and Lord, it had
become so much easier for him to do right than it had been before ;
and when he also brought into the account the conclusion, to which
the same conversion had led him, as to the significance of the Life
and Death of Jesus for the whole Church or body of believers ; what
could lie nearer at hand than that he should associate faith and
righteousness together, and associate them in the way of referring
all that made the condition of righteousness so much more possible
under Christianity than it had been under Judaism, objectively to
the work of the Messiah, and subjectively to the appropriation of
that work by the believer in the assent which he gave to the one
proposition which expressed its value ?

It will be seen that there is more than one element in this con-
ception which has to be kept distinct. As we advance further in
the Epistle, and more particularly when we come to the great
passage iii. 21-26, we shall become aware that St. Paul attached to
the Death of Christ what we may call a sacrificial efficacy. He
regarded it as summing up under the New Covenant all the func-
tions that the Mosaic Sacrifices had discharged under the Old. As
they had the effect, as far as anything outward could have the
effect, of placing the worshipper in a position of fitness for ap-
proach to God ; so once for all the sacrifice of Christ had placed
the Christian worshipper in this position. That was a fact objec-
tive and external to himself of which the Christian had the benefit
simply by being a Christian ; in other words by the sole act of
faith. If besides this he also found by experience that in following
with his eye in loyal obedience (like the author of Ps. cxxiii) his
Master Christ the restraint of selfishness and passion became far
easier for him than it had been, that was indeed a different matter ;
but that too was uldmately referable to the ?ame cause ; it loo
dated from the same moment, the moment of the acceptance of
Christ. And although in this case more might be said to be done
by the man himself, yet even there Christ was the true source of
strength and inspiration ; and the more reliance was placed on this
strength and inspiration the more effective it became ; so much sb
that St. Paul glories in his infirmities because they threw him back
upon Christ, so that when he was weak, then he became strong.

On this side the influence of Christ upon the Christian life was
a continuous influence extending as long as life itself. But even
here the ciitical moment was the first, because it established the


relation. It was like magnetism which begins to act as soon as
the connexion is complete. Accordingly we find that stress is
constantly laid upon this first moment — the moment of being
'baptized into Christ' or 'putting on Christ,' although it is by no
means implied that the relation ceases where it began, and on the
contrary it is raiher a relation which should go on strengthening.
Here too the beginning is an act of faith, but the kind of faiih
which proceeds (k Tria-Tecos us nianv. We shall have the process
described more fully when we come to chapters vi-viii.

CK TTiCTTews ets TTiCTTii'. The analogy of Ps. Ixxxiii. 8 (Ixxxiv. 7)

fK 8vviifiea>s (Is 8vva^iv, and of 2 Cor. ii. 16 e< Sai'drov fh Bdvarov . . .

(K (uiTjs fls C<^r]v, seems to show that this phrase should be taken as
widely as possible. It is a mistake to limit it either to the deepen-
ing of faith in the individual or to its spread in the world at large
{ex fide predicanlium in fidem credentium Sedulius) : both are
included : the phrase means ' starting from a smaller quantity of
faith to produce a larger quantity,' at once intensively and ex-
tensively, in the individual and in society.

6 SiKaios €K iriaTews. Some take the whole of this phrase
together. ' The man whose righteousness is based on faith,' as if
the contrast (not expressed but implied) were between the man
whose righteousness is based on faith and one whose righteousness
is based on works. It is true that this is quite in harmony with
St. Paul's teaching as expressed more fully in Rom. iii. 22, 25;
Gal. ii. 16 : but it was certainly not the meaning of Habakkuk,
and if St. Paul had intended to emphasize the point here it lay
very near at hand to write 6 hi ex Triorewy h'lKaws, and so remove all
ambiguity. It is merely a question of emphasis, because in the
ordinary way of taking the verse it is implied that the ruling
motive of the man, the motive which gives value to his righteous-
ness and gains for him the Divine protection, is his faith.

A few authorities (C*, Vulg. codd. non opt. Hard., Orig.-lat. Hieron )
insert ytov (o h\ Sik. fiov tn viartajs, or o 5« 6ik. (h. maTfcus /jlov ^rjatrat) from
the LXX. Marcion, as we should expect, seems to have omitted not only
irpwTov but the quotation from Habakkuk; this would naturally follow
from his antipathy to everything Jewish, though he was not quite consistent
in cutting out all quotations from the O. T. He retains the same quotation
(not, however, as a quotation) in Gal. iii. 4, the context of which he is able
to turn against the Jews. For the best examination of Marcion's text see
Zahn, Gesch. d. A'eutest Kanons, ii. 515 ff.

* The zvord ^iKoioy and its cognates.

SCKaios, BiKaioavvT]. lu consideiing the meaning and application of these
terms it is important to place ourselves at the right jioint of view — at the
point of view, thai is. of St. Paul himself, a jew of the Jews, and not either
(ireek or mf(lint-\al or modern. Two main facts have to be borne in mind
in rcgaid to the h.^tory of the words diKaios and SiKatoavi'T]. The first is tiiat
although theie was a sense in which the Greek words covered the whole

I. 17.]

Online LibraryW. (William) SandayA critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans → online text (page 17 of 71)