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

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Some recent Germans (Holsten, Weiss, Lips.) take the dat. as
daiivus cotnmodi, ^for hope were we saved.' But this is less
natural. To obtain this sense we should have to personify Hope
more strongly than the context will bear. Besides Hope is an
attribute or characteristic of the Christian life, but not its end.

cXttIs 8e pXe-n-ofAeVr] : eXTri? here = ' the thing hoped for,' just as
/cri(74f = ' the thing created ' ; a very common usage.

8 Yap pXfTTti, Tis cXiriJci; This terse reading is found only in B 47 marg.,

which adds ro TraXatbv ovrcus €X" • it is adopted by RV. Uxi, W H. text.
Text. Recept. has [t yap ^\iiret tis] ti Kat [eATr/^ei], of which ri alone is
found in Western authorities (D F G, Vulg. Pesh. a/.), and nai alone in
N*47*. Both RV. and \VH. give a place in the margin to ri leai iKiri^u
and Ti KOI viro/iiv(t [inroiiivfi with N* A 47 marg.].

25. The point of these two verses is that the attitude of hope,
so distinctive of the Christian, implies that there is more in store
for him than anything that is his already.

81' uTTO)j,oi'T]s : constancy and fortitude under persecution, &c.,
pointing back to the ' sufferings' of ver. 18 (of. on ii. 7 ; v. 4; and
for the use of 8to ii. 27).



T^e Renovation of Nature.

We have already quoted illustrations of St. Paul's language from
some of the Jewish writings which are nearest to his own in point
of time. They are only samples of the great mass of Jewish
literature. To all of it this idea of a renovation of Nature, the
creation of new heavens and a new earth is common, as part of the
Messianic expectation which was fulfilled unawares to many of
those by whom it was entertained. The days of the ]\Iessiah were
to be the 'seasons of refreshing,' the 'times of restoration of all
things,' which were to come from the face of the Lord (Acts iii. 19,
21). The expectation had its roots in the O. T., especially in
those chapters of the Second Part of Isaiah in which the approach-
ing Return from Captivity opens up to the prophet such splendid
visions for the future. The one section Is. Ixv. 17-25 might well



VIII. 18-25.J LIFE IN THE SPIRIT an

be held to warrant most of the statements in the Apocrypha and
Talmud.

The idea of the ' new heavens and new earth ' is based directly
upon Is. Ixv. 17, and is found clearly stated in the Book of Enoch,
xlv. 4 f. ' I will transform the heaven and make it an eternal
blessing and light. And I will transform the earth and make it
a blessing and cause Mine elect ones to dwell upon it' (where see
Charles' note). There is also an application of Ps. cxiv. 4, with
an added feature which illustrates exactly St. Paul's a-noKokv^ii rcov
vlwp ruv Q(ov: 'In those days will the mountains leap like rams
and the hills will skip like lambs satisfied with milk, and they will
all become angels in heaven. Their faces will be lighted up
with joy, because in those days the Elect One has appeared, and the
earth will rejoice and the righteous will dwell upon it, and the elect
will go to and fro upon it' {Enoch li. 4 f ). We have given
parallels enough from 4 Ezra and the Apocalypse of Baruch, and
there is much in the Talmud to the same effect (cf Weber, Altsyn.
Theol. p. 380 ff. ; Schiirer, Neutesi. Zeilgesch. ii. 453 ff., 458 f ;
Edersheim, Li/e and Times, &c. ii. 438).

It is not surprising to find the poeiry of the prophetic writings
hardened into fact by Jewish literalism; but it is strange when the
products of this mode of interpretation are attributed to our Lord
Himself on authority no less ancient than that of Papias of Hiera-
polis, professedly drawing from the tradition of St. John. Yet
Irenaeus [Adv. Haer. V. xxxiii. 3) quotes in such terms the follow-
ing: ' The days will come, in which vines shall grow, each having
ten thousand shoots and on each shoot ten thousand brandies, and
on each branch again ten thousand twigs, and on each twig ten
thousand clusters, and on each cluster ten thousand grapes, and
each grape when pressed shall yield five and twenty measures of
wine . . . Likewise also a grain of wheat shall produce ten thousand
heads, and every head shall have ten thousand grains, and every
grain ten pounds of fine flour, bright and clean ; and the other
fruits, seeds and the grass shall produce in similar proportions, and
all the animals using these fruits which are products of the soil,
shall become in their turn peaceable and harmonious.' It happens
that this saying, or at least part of it, is actually extant in Apoc.
Bar. xxix. 5 (cf. Orac. Sibyll. iii. 620-623, 744 ff.), so that it
clearly comes from some Jewish source. In view of an instance
like this it seems possible that even in the N. T. our Lord's words
may have been defined in a sense which was not exactly that
originally intended owing to the current expectation which the dis-
ciples largely shared.

And yet on the whole, even if this expectation was by the Jews
to some extent literalized and materialized, some of its essential
features were preserved. Corresponding to the new abode pre-



il2 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [VIII. 26, 27

pared for it there was to be a renewed humanity: and that not
only in a phy ical sense based on Is. xxxv. 5 f. (' Then the eyes of
the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be un-
stopped,' &c.), but also in a moral sense ; the root of evil was to be
plucked out of the hearts of men and a new heart was to be im-
planted in them : the Spirit of God was to rest upon them (Weber,
Altsyn. Theol. p. 382). There was to be no unrighteousness in
their midsi, for they were all to be holy {Ps. Sol. xvii. 28 f., 36,
&c.). The Messiah was to rule over the nations, but not merely by
force ; Israel was to be a true light to the Gentiles (Schiirer. op. t it.
p. 456).

If we compare these Jewish beliefs with what we find here in the
Epistle to the Romans there are two ways in which the superiority
of the Apostle is most striking, (i) There runs through his words
an intense sympathy with nature in and for itself. He is one of
those (like St. Francis of Assisi) to whom it is given to read as it
were the thoughts of plants and animals. He seems to lay his ear
to the earth and the confused murmur which he hears has a meaning
for him : it is creation's yearning for that happier state intended for
it and of which it has been defrauded. (2) The main idea is not,
as it is so apt to be with the Rabbinical writers, the mere glorifica-
tion of Israel. By them the Gentiles are differently treated.
Sometimes it is their boast that the Holy Land will be reserved
exclusively for Israel : ' the sojourner and the stranger shall dwell
with them no more' {Ps. Sol. xvii. 31). The only place for the
Gentiles is ' to serve him beneath the yoke ' {ibid. ver. 32). The
vision of the Gentiles streaming to Jerusalem as a centre of religion
is exceptional, as it must be confessed that it is also in O. T.
Prophecy. On the other hand, with St. Paul the movement is
truly cosmic. The ' sons of God ' are not selected for their own
sakes alone, but their redemption means the redemption of a world
of being besides themselves.



THE ASSISTANCE OP THE SPIRIT.

VIII. 26, 27. Meanwhile the Holy Spirit itself assists in
our prayers.

*• Nor are we alone in our struggles. The Holy Spirit sup-
ports our helplessness. Left to ourselves we do not know what
prayers to offer or how to offer them. But in those inarticulate
groans which rise from the depths of our being, we recognize the
voice of none other than the Holy Spirit. He makes intercesbion ;



VIII. 28.] LIFE IN THE SPIRIT 213

and His intercession is sure to be answered. " For God Who
searches the inmost recesses of the heart can interpret His own
Spiiit's meaning. He knows that His own Will regulates Its
petitions, and that they are offered for men dedicated to His service.

26. 6<TauT(i)s. As we groan, so also does the Holy Spirit groan
with us, putting a meaning into our aspirations which they would
not have of themselves. All alike converges upon that * Divine
event, to which the whole creation moves.' This view of the
connexion (Go., Weiss, Lips.), which weaves in this verse with
the broad course of the Apostle's argument, seems on the whole
better than that which attaches it more closely to the words im-
mediately preceding, ' as hope sustains us so also does the Spirit
sustain us ' (Mey, Oltr. Gif. Va. Mou.).

O'0i'ai'TiXajij3di'6Tai : avTiKafi^avtadai ^ * to take hold of at the
side {avTi), so as to support ' ; and this sense is further strength-
ened by the idea of association contained in crw-. The same
compound occurs in LXX of Ps. Lxxxviii [Ixxxix], 22, and in
Luke X. 40.

TTj dadefEia : decisively attested for rais aaQevelais. On the way in
which we are taking the verse the reference will be to the vague-
ness and defectiveness of our prayers; on the other view to our
weakness under suffering implied in bC vnofxovris. But as vnofiovri
suggests rather a certain amount of victorious resistance, this appli-
cation of dadtpeia seems less appropriate.

rh Yotp Ti irpoo-cu^cofxeOa. The art. makes the whole clause object
of oiSa/xfj'. Gif. notes that this construction is characteristic of
St. Paul and St. Luke (in the latter ten times ; in the former Rom.
xiii. 9; Gal. v. 14; Eph. iv. 9; i Thess. iv. i). W wpoa-ev^. is
strictly rather, ' What we ought to pray ' than ' what we ought to
pray for,' i. e. ' how we are to word our prayers,' not ' what we are
to choose as the objects of prayer.' But as the object determines
the nature of the prayer, in the end the meanmg is much the
same.

Ka9o Set. It is perhaps a refinement to take this as = ' accord-
ing to, in proportion to, our need ' (Mey.-W. Gif.) ; which brings out
the proper force of Kado (cf. Baruch i. 6 v. 1.) at the cost of putting
a sense upon Sfi which is not found elsewhere in the N. T., where
it always denotes obligation or objective necessity. Those of the
Fathers who show how they took it make Kado 8el = riva rponov
Sfi npo(Tev$., which also answers well to koto e(6v in the next
verse.

uirtpiVTuyxdvti : ivrvyxavut means originally ' to fall in with,' and
hence 'to accost with entreaty,' and so simply 'to entreat'; in this
sense it is not uncommon and occurs twice in this Epistle (viii. 34 ;
?i. a). The verse contains a statement which the unready of



214 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [\II1. 26 20.

speech may well lay to heart, that all prayer need not be formu-
lated, but that the most inarticulate desires (springing from a right
motive) may have a shape and a value given to them beyond
anything that is present and definable to the consciousness. This
verse and the next go to show that St. Paul regarded the action of
the Holy Spirit as personal, and as distinct from the action of the
Father. The language of the Creeds aims at taking account of
these expressions, which agree fully with the triple formula of
2 Cor. xiii. 14; Matt, xxviii. 19. Oltr. however makes t6 nvivfia in
both verses = ' the human spirit,' against the natural sense of
infpfVTvyxavfi and vnip ayiuv, which place the object of intercession
outside the Spirit itself, and against Kara Qeov, which would be by
no means always true of the human spirit.

virfpfVTvyxdvd is decisively attested (N*ABDFG &c.). Text. Recept.
has the easier ivrvyxo-yu mlp ■^fiuiv.

27. oTi. Are we to translate this 'because' (Weiss Go. Gif. Va.)
or 'that' (]\Iey. Oltr. Lips. Mou.)? Probably the latter; for if we
take ort as assigning a reason for utSe tI t6 (jipovr/fxa, the reason would
not be adequate: God would still 'know' the mind, or intention,
of the Spirit even if we could conceive it as not Kara eedi/ and
not vnep aylcov. It seems best therefore to make on describe the
nature of the Spirit's intercession.

Kara Qeov =: kuto to BeXrjpa tov Qeoxi: of. 2 Cor. vii. 9— II,

The Jews had a strong belief in the value of the intercessory prayer of
their great saints, such as Moses {Ass. Mays. xi. 11, 17; xii. 6), Jeremiah
{Apoc. Bar. ii. 2) : cf. Weber, p. 2S7 ff. But they have nothing like the
teaching of these verses



THE ASCENDINQ PEOCESS OF SALVATION.

VIII. 28-30. With what a chain of Providential care
does God accompany the cotirse of His chosen ! In eternity,
the plan laid and their part in it foreseen ; in time, first
their call, then their acquittal^ and finally their reception
into glory.

•'Yet another ground of confidence. The Christian knows that
all things (including his sufferings) can have but one result, and
that a good one, for those who love God and respond to the call
which in the pursuance of His purpose He addresses to them.
"^^ Think what a long perspective of Divine care and protection lies
before them I First, in eternity, God marked them for His own,
as special objects of His care and instruments of His purpose.



VIII. 28.] LIFE IN THE SPIRIT 215

Then, in the same eternity, He planned that they should share in
the glorified celestial being of the Incarnate Sori — in order that
He, as Eldest Born, might gather round Him a whole family of
the redeemed. '° Then in due course, to those for whom He had
in store this destiny He addressed the call to leave their worldly
lives and devote themselves to His service. And when they
obeyed that call He treated them as righteous men, with their
past no longer reckoned against them. And so accounted righteous
He lei them participate (partially now as they will do more com-
pletely hereafter) in His Divine perfection.

28. oiSafxei' 8^ passes on to another ground for looking con-
fidently to the future. The Christian's career viust have a good
ending, because at every step in it he is in the hands of God and is
carrying out the Divine purpose.

irdi'Ta auvepyei : a small but important group of authorities, A B,
Orig. 2/6 or 2/7 (cf. Boh. Sah. Aeth.), adds 6 eeo'j; and the inser-
tion lay so much less near at hand than the omission that it must
be allowed to have the greater appearance of origmaiity. Wiih
this reading awepyd must be taken transitively, 'causes all things
to work.'

The Bohairic Version, transTated literally and preserving the idioms, is * But
we know that those who love God, He habitually works with them in every
good thing, those whom He has called according to I i is purpose.' The Sahidic
Version (as edited by Atn^lineau in Zeitschrift fiir Aegypt. Spradie, 18S7)
Is in part defective but certainly repeats 0f6s : ' But we know that those v. ho
love God, God . . . them in every good thing,' &c. trom this we gather
that the Version of Upper Egypt inserted o 0eor, and that the Version of
Lower Egypt omitted it but interpreted avvepyu tranritively as if it were
present. It would almost seem as if there was an exegetical tradition which
took the word in this way. It is true that the extract from Origen's Com-
mentary in the Fhilocalia fed, Robinson, p. 226 ff.) not only distinctly and
repeatedly presents the common reading but also in one place (p. 229) clearly
has the common interpretation. But Chrysostom {ad loc.) argues at some
length as if he were taking cv (pyet transitively with 6 Qfus for subject.
Similarly Gennadius (in Cramers Catena), also Theodoret and Theodoius
Monachus (preserved in the Catena). It would perhaps be too much to
claim all these writers as witnesses to the reading awipyil o 0eos, but they
may point to a tradition which had its origin in that reading and survived it.
On the other hand it is possible that the reading may have grown out of I he
interpretation.

For the use of awtpyei there are two rather close parallels in Test. XII
Pair, ; Issach. 3 b QiO'i awepyu ttj dnAuTT^Ti fxov, and Gad 4 t^ yap irvtvua
rov niaovs . . . avvipyu rZ laiava Ic irdaiv eij QavaTov twv ui dpuirrcvv to di
Wfvfj-a TT]S d'yajTjjs iv ftaKpo9vfxi(} avvepyti ry v6iJ.q> tov &eoi tis aon-^plav
ar/Bpu/nuu.

Tois Kara irpoSecrti' kXtjtois ouctii'. With this clause St. Paul in-
troduces a string of what may be called the technical teims of hia



-216 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [VIII. 28.

theology, marking the succession of stages into which he divides
the normal course of a Christian life — all being considered not
from the side of human choice and volition, but from the side of
Divine care and ordering. This is summed up at the outset in the
phrase Knra npoftaiv, ihe comprehensive plan or design in accord-
ance with which God directs the destinies of men. There can be
no question that St. Paul fully recognizes the freedom of the human
will. The large part which exhortation plays in his letters is con-
clusive proof of this. But whatever the extent of human freedom
there must be behind it the Divine Sovereignty. It is the practice
of St. Paul to state alternately the one and the other without
attempting an exact delimitation between them. And what he has
not done we are not likely to succeed in doing. In the passage
before us the Divine Sovereignty is in view, not on its terrible but
on its gracious side. It is the proof how ' God worketh all things
for good to those who love Him.' We cannot insist too- strongly
upon this ; but when we leave the plain declarations of the Apostle
and begin to draw speculative inferences on the right hand or on
the left we may easily fall into cross currents which will render any
such inferences invalid. See further the note on Free- Will and
Predestination at the end of ch. xi.

In further characterizing ' those who love God ' St. Paul na-
turally strikes the point at which their love became manifest by the
acceptance of the Divine Call. This call is one link in the chain
of Providential care which attends them : and it suggests the other
links which stretch far back into the past and far forward into the
future. By enumerating these the Apostle completes his proof
that the love of God never quits His chosen ones.

The enumeration follows the order of succession in time.

For TTpo^ecrts see on ch. ix. 1 1 17 kut iKXoyrjp 7rpo^€(Tts Tov ©eovj
which would prove, if proof were needed, that the purpose is that
of God and not of man (kot' olKelav irpoalpfa-iv Theoph. and the
Greek Fathers generally): comp. also Eph. i. ii; iii. 11; 2 Tim.
i. 9.

It was one of the misfortunes of Greek theology that it received a bias in
the Free-Will controversy from opposition to the Gnostics (cf. p. 269 inf.)
which it never afterwards lost, and which seriously prejudiced its exegesis
wherever this question was concerned. Thus in the present instance, the great
mass of ih • Greek commentators take Kara ■npudtaii' to mean ' in accordance
with the man's own ir/joaipfffis or free act of choice' (see the extracts in
Cramer's Catena 'e cod. Mon.ac' ; and add Theojih. Oecum. Euthym.-Zig.).
The two jiaitial exceptions are, as we might expect, Origen and Cyril ol
Alexandria, who however both show traces of the influences current in the
Eastern Church. Origen also seems inclined to take it ot the proposittim
bonum el bonam vol'.intaUm quam circa Dei cultum gerunt ; but he admits
the aheniative that it may refer to the purpose of God. If so, it refers to
this purpose as determined by Hi"; foreknowledge of the characters and
conduct of men. Cyril of Alexandria asks the question, Whose purpose is
intended ? and decide* that it would not be wrong to answer ri^v rt roi



VIII. 28, 29.] LIFE IN THE SPIRIT 217

K(KXrjK6T0i Ka\ rfjv lavTwv, He comes to this decision however rather on
dogmatic than on exegetical grounds.

It is equally a straining of the text when Angiistine distinguishes two kinds
of call, one sectindunt propositum, the call of the elect, and the other of tho-^e
who are not elect. Non cnim omnes vocati secundum propositum sunt
vocati: quoniam multi vocati, pauci electi. Ipsi ergo secundum propositum
vocati qui electi ante constitutioiiem mundi {Cant, duas Epist. I'elag. ii. lo.
§ 23, of. Cont. Julian, v. 6, § 14). In the idea of a double call, Augustine
seems to have been anticipated by Origen, who however, as we have seen,
gives a different sense to Kinb. npoBeaiv: omnes quidem vocati sunt, nontamen
omnes secundum propositum vocati sunt (ed. Loium. vii. 128).

icXtjTois : ' called,' implying that the call has been obeyed. The
(cX^o-is is not au salut (Oltr.), at least in the sense of final salva-
tion, but simply to become Christians: see on i. i.

29. oTi : certainly here 'because,' assigning a reason for "nav-ra
avvepyfl 6 Q(6s (Is dyadov, not * that ' (= c'esf que Oltr.).

oijs irpoeycu. The meaning of this phrase must be determined
by the Biblical use of the word ' know,' which is very marked and
clear : e. g. Ps. i. 6 ' The Lord knoweth (■yfyroio-Ket) the way of the
righteous'; cxliv [cxliii]. 3 'Lord, what is man that Thou lakesi
knowledge of him (ort iyj'dxrdrji avTw LXX) ? Or the son of man
that Thou makest account of him?' Hos. xiii. 5 'I did know
[(TToifxatvop) thee in the wilderness.' Am. iii. 2 ' You only have
I known {tyvuv) of all the families of the earth.' Watt. vii. 23
' Then will I profess unto them I never knew {eyva)i') you,' &c.
In all these places the word means ' to take note of,' ' to fix the
regard upon,' as a preliminary to selection for some especial pur-
pose. 'The compound rtpotyvu} only throws back this ' taking
note 'from the historic act in time to the eternal counsel whicii
it expresses and executes.

This interpretation (which is very similar to that of Godet and which
approaches, though it is not exactly identical with, that of a number of older
comitientators, who make npoiyvw — piaediligere, approhare) has the double
advantage of being strictly conformed to Biblical usage and of reading
nothing into the word which we are not sure is there. This latter objection
applies to most other ways of taking the passage: e.g. to OriL;en"s, when lie
makes the foreknowledge a foreknowledge of character and fitness, vpoava.-
Tcviffas ovv 6 ©cos rip n-PP-S) twi' iaoph wv, koI Karavoijaas potrqv tvv i(p' fj/xiv
TwvSe rivaiv fvl ixial^eiav Kat ip/xfiv (tti Tavrrjv perci Tr)v ponrjv k.t.K,
{Fhilocal. xxv. 2. p. 237, ed. Robinson ; the comment ad loc. is rather nearer
the mark, cognovisse suos dicitur, hoc est in dilectione habuisse sibiqiie
sociasse, but there too is added sciens quales essent). Cyril of Alexaiieiria
(and after him Meyer) supplies from what follows npoeyvuaOijoai' ws 'iaovrat
avixpopipoi T^s uKuvos Tov T'lov avTov, but this belongs properly only to
irpowpiae. Widest from the mark are those who, like Cahnn, look beyond
the immediate choice to final salvation: Dei autem praecognitio, cuius hie
Paulus meminit, non nitda est praescientia . . . sed adoptio qua Jiiios sios
a reprobis semper discrcvit. On the other hand. Gif. keeps clo-ely to the
context in explaining, '" Foreknew " as the individual objects of His purpose
{■upoQiais) and therefore foreknew as "them that love God."* The only
defect ia this seems to be that it does not sufficiently take account of the
O. T. and N. T. use of yi'yvdiaxu.



»l8 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [VIII. 29, 30

Kal irpotSpiac. The Apostle overleaps for the moment inter-
mediate steps and carries the believer onward to the final con-
summation of God's purpose in respect to him. This is exactly
defined as ' conformity to the image of His Son.'

<rufi|i(Jp<|)oos denotes inward and thorough and not merely super-
ficial likeness.

TT]s cUdi'os. As the Son is the image of the Father (a Cor. iv.
4 ; Col. i. 15), so the Christian is to reflect the image of His
Lord, passing through a gradual assimilation of mind and character
to an ultimate assimilation of His 86^a, the absorption of the
eplcndour of His presence.

€is TO et»'at auTOK iTpojTOTOKOi' iv ttoXXois d8e\<}>ois. As the final
cause of all things is the glory of God, so the final cause of the
Incarnation and of the effect of the Incarnation upon man is that
the Son may be surrounded by a multitude of the redeemed.
These He vouchsafes to call His * brethren.' They are a ' family,'
the entrance into which is through the Resurrection. As Christ
was the first to rise, He is the ' Eldest-born ' (TrpcorJTOKor eV twv

vfKpcov, iva yevriTM iv rrarriv nvros nparfvav Col. i. 1 8). This is

different from the 'first-born of all creation' (Col. i. 15). n-pwro-
roKos is a metaphorical expression ; the sense of which is determined
by the context; in Col. i. 15 it is relative to creation, here it is
relative to the state to which entrance is through the Resurrection
(see Lightfoot's note on the passage in Col.).

30. ous Se irpocipio-e k.t.X. Having taken his readers to the end
of the scale, the ^6^a in which the career of the Christian cul-
minates, the Apostle now goes back and resolves the latter part of



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