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

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in the exercise of functions of teaching, or one who exhorteth in
exhortation, one who giveth with singleness of purpose, one who
zealously provides, one who showeth mercy cheerfully.' (2) Accord-
ing to the second interpretation we must translate 'having gifts
which vary according to the grace given us, — be it prophecy let us
use it in proportion to the faith given us, be it ministry let us use it
in ministry,' &c.

That the latter (which is that of Mey. Go. Va. Gif ) is preferable
is shown by the difficulty of keeping up the former interpretation
to the end ; few commentators have the hardihood to carry it
on as far as ver. 8 ; nor is it really easier in ver, 7, where the
additions eV rfj diuKovla are very otiose if they merely qualify exovres
understood. In spite therefore of the somewhat harsh ellipse, the
second construction must be adopted throughout.

6. Kara ry]v dLvaKoyiav ttjs iriCTTews {sc. -n po^r)T(va)fi(v). The
meaning of nlaTfcos here is suggested by that in ver. 3. A man's
gifts depend upon the measure of faith allotted to him by God,
and so he must use and exercise these gifts in proportion to the
faith that is in him. If he be aotppcau and his mind is enlightened
by the Holy Sj)irit, he will judge rightly his capacity and power ; i^,
on the other hand, his mind be carnal, he will try to distinguish
himself vain-gloriously and disturb the peace of the community.

Liddon, with most of the Latin Fathers and many later com-
mentators, takes TTUTTfcos objectively : ' The majestic proportion of
the (objecive) Faith is before him, and, keeping his eye on it, he
avoids private crotchets and wild fanaticisms, which exaggerate
the relative importance of particular truths to the neglect of others.*


But this interpretation is inconsistent with the meaning he has
himself given to Ttums in ver. 3, and gives a sense to ava\oyiav
which it will not bear ; the difficulty being concealed by the ambi-
guity of the word ' proportion ' in English.

7. SiaKoi/iaK, ' if we have the gift of ministry, let us use it in
ministering to the community, and not attempt ambitiously to
prophesy or exhort.' SiaKovla was used either generally of all
Christian ministrations (so Rom. xi. 13; i Cor. xii. 5; Eph. iv.
12, &c.) or specially of the administration of alms and attendance
to" bodily wants (i Cor. xvi. 15; 2 Cor. viii. 4, &c.). Here the
opposition to npo^r^Tda, BiSaaKoKia, TrapaKKfjais seems to demand the
more confined sense.

6 SiSdcjKCDi'. St. Paul here substitutes a personal phrase because
ex«ty Si^aa-KoXiav would mean, not to impart, but to receive instruction.

8. 6 fieraSiSou's : the man who gives alms of his own substance
is to do it in singleness of purpose and not with mixed motives,
with the thought of ostentation or reward. With 6 fitraSiSovs, the
man who gives of his own, while 6 fitaSiSovs is the man who dis-
tributes other persons' gifts, comp. Tes/. XII. Patr. Iss. 7 -navrX

dirXoTTjs. The meaning of this word is illustrated best by Test.
XII. Fair. Issachar, or 7r«pt d7rXoV»;rof. Issachar is represented as
the husbandman, who lived simply and honestly on his land. 'And
my father blessed me, seeing that I walk in simplicity {anXoTrii).
And I was not inquisitive in my actions, nor wicked and envious
towards my neighbour. I did not speak evil of any one, nor attack
a man's life, but I walked with a single eye (iv 6.n\6Tr)Ti. o<pda\pa)v).
. . . To every poor and every afflicted man I provided the good
things of the earth, in simplicity {anXoTTjs) of heart. . . . The simple
man (o dn-XoOs) doth not desire gold, doth not ravish his neighbour,
doth not care for all kinds of dainty meats, doth not wish for
diversity of clothing, doth not promise himself (ovx vwoypacpei) length
of days, he receiveth only the will of God ... he walkeUi in up-
rightness of life, and beholdeth all things in simplicity (drrXoT/yTt).'
Issachar is the honourable, hardworking, straightforward farmer ;
open-handed and open-hearted, giving out of compassion and in
singleness of purpose, not from ambition.

The word is used by St. Paul alone in the N. T., and was
specially suited to describe the generous unselfish character of
Christian almsgiving; and hence occurs in one or two places
almost with the signification of liberality, 2 Cor. ix. ir, 13; just as
' liberality ' in English has come to have a secondary meaning, and
biKoiocrvvT] in Hellenistic Greek (Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek,
p. 49). Such specialization is particularly natural in the East,
where large-hearted generosity is a popular virtue, and where such
words as ' good ' may be used simply to mean munificent.


6 irpoToT(£)i€i'os, the man that presides, or governs in any position,
whether ecclesiastical or other. The word is used of ecclesiastical
officials, I Thess. v. 12 ; i Tim. v. 17 ; Just. Mart. Apol. i. 67 ; and
of a man ruling his family (i Tim. iii. 4, 5, 12), and need not be
any furiher defined. Zeal and energy are the natural gifts required
of any ruler.

h cXewi'. ' Let any man or woman who performs deeds of mercy
in the church, do so brightly and cheerfully.' The value of bright-
ness in performing acts of kindness has become proverbial, Ecclus.

XXXii. (XXXV.) 1 1 iv ndarj 86aei IXdpaa-ov ro rrpocnoTTou <tov: Prov. xxii. 8
avdpa iXapov Koi dorrjv evXoyd 6 Oeos (qUOted 2 Cor. ix. 7); but jUSt aS

singleminded sincerity became an eminendy Christian virtue, so
cheerfulness in all the paths of life, a cheerfulness which springs
from a warm heart, and a pure conscience and a serene mind set
on something above this world, was a special characteristic of the
early Christian (Acts ii. 46; v. 41; Phil. i. 4, 18; ii. 18, &c.;
I Thess. V. 16).

Spiritual Gifts,

The word xapia^ (which is almost purely Pauline) is used of
those special endowments which come to every Christian as the
result of God's free favour (xap") to men and of the consequent
gift of faith. In Rom. v. 15, vi. 13, indeed, it has a wider signifi-
cation, meaning the free gift on the part of God to man of forgive-
ness of sins and eternal life, but elsewhere it appears always to be
used for those personal endowments which are the gifts of the
Spirit. In this connexion it is not confined to special or con-
spicuous endowments or to special offices. There are, indeed,
TO ;^api(T/iaTa to. pelCova (i Cor. xii. 31), which are those apparently
most beneficial to the community; but in the same Epistle the word
is also used of the individual fitness for the married or the un-
married state (i Cor. vii. 7); and in Rom. i. 13 it is used of the
spiritual advantage which an Apostle might confer on the com-
munity. So again, xnp''^Ma'"« include miraculous powers, but no
distinction is made between them and non-miraculous gifts. In
the passage before us there is the same combination of very
widely differing gifts; the Apostle gives specimens (if we may
express it so) of various Christian endowments; it is probable
that some of them were generally if not always the function of
peisons specially set apart for the purpose (although not perhaps
necessarily holding ecclesiastical office), others would not be con-
fined to any one office, and many might be possessed by the same
person. St. Paul's meaning is : By natural endowments, strengthened
with the gifts of the Spirit, you have various powers and capacities :
in the use of these it is above all necessary for the good of the


community that you should show a wise and prudent judgement,
not attempting offices or work for which you are not fitted, nor
marring your gifts by exercising them in a wrong spirit.

This being the meaning of xopi^frp-nra and St. Paul's purpose in
this chapter, interpretations of it, as of the similar passage (chap,
xii) in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, which have attempted
to connect spiritual gifts more closely with the Christian ministry
are unfounded. These are of two characters. One, that of
Neander, maintains that in the original Church there were no
ecclesiastical officers at all but only xcp^frfiara, and that as spiritual
gifts died out, regularly appointed officers took the place of those
who possessed them. The other finds, or attempts to find, an
ecclesiastical office for each gift of the Spirit mentioned in this
chapter and the parallel passage of the Corinthians, or at any rate
argues that there must have been irpo^i'Jrat, SiSuo-KaXot &c., existing
as church officers in the Corinthian and Roman communities.
Neither of these is a correct deduction from the passages under
consideration. In dealing with the xaplo-nara St. Paul is discussing
a series of questions only partially connected with the Christian
ministry. Every church officer would, we may presume, be con-
sidered to have x^p'-^l^^^'^'^ which would fit him for the fulfilment of
such an office; but most, if not all, Christians would also have xf^p'^"'-
/lara. The two qucstions therefore are on different planes which
partially intersect, and deductions from these chapters made in
any direction as to the form of the Christian organization are
invalid, although they show the spiritual endowments which those
prominent in the community could possess.

A comparison of the two passages, 1 Cor. xii. and Rom. xii. 3-8,
is interesting on other grounds. St. Paul in the Corinthian Epistle
is dealing with a definite series of difficulties arising from the
special endowments and irregularities of that church. He treats
the whole subject very fully, and, as was necessary, condemns
definite disorders. In the Roman Epistle he is evidently writing
with the former Epistle in his mind : he uses the same simile : he
concludes equall}' with a list of forms of xap^'J'P-"'^'^ — shorter, indeed,
but representative ; but there is no sign of that directness which
would arise from dealing with special circumstances. The letter is
written with the experience of Corinth fresh in the writer's mind,
but without any immediate purpose. He is laying down directions
based on his experience ; but instead of a number of different
details, he sums up all that he has to say in one general moral
principle : Prudence and self-restraint in proportion to the gift of
faith. Just as the doctrinal portions of the Epistle are written with
the memory of past controversies still fresh, discussing and laying
down in a broad spirit positions which liad been gained in the
course pf those controversies, so we shall find that in the practical


portion St. Paul is laying down broad and statesmanlike positions
which are the result of past experience and deal with circumstances
which may arise in any community.


XII. 9-21. The general principles of your life should he
a love which is perfectly sincere, depth of moral feelings
cotisideration for others, zeal, fervour, devoutness, hopefulness,
fortitude under persecutions, prayer fulness, eagerness to help
your fellow- Christians by sharing what you possess with
them and by the ready exercise of hospitality.

Bless, do not curse, your persecutors. Sympathize with
others. Be united in feeling, not ambitious but modest in
your aims. Be not self-opinionated or revengefid. Do
nothing to offend the world. Leave vengeance to God.
Good for evil is the best requital.

9. T dydrnfj, cf. xiii. 8. The Apostle comes back from direc-
tions which only apply to individuals to the general direction to
Christian Charity, which will solve all previous difficulties. Euthym.-

Zig. fiiScia'Kw;' yap ircos h.v to. flpt]fiiva KaTopdadtlrj, inTjyaye rfjv firjTepa
navTcov TovTa>v, Xeyo) 5i) rrjv fts aWrjXovs dydnrjv. The Sequence of

ideas is exactly similar to that in i Cor. xii, xiii, and obviously
suggested by it. In the section that follows {9-21), aydrr/j is the
ruling thought, but the Apostle does not allow himself to be con-
fined an.d pours forth directions as to the moral and spiritual life
which crowd into his mind.

dcuTTOKpiTos. Wisd. V. 18; xviii. 16; 2 Cor. vi. 6 (dydnTj);
I Tim. i. 5 and 2 Tim. i. 5 (Trt'o-Tts) ; Jas. iii. 17 (17 "wuiBa' o-o0«i) ;
I Pet. i. 22 (^tAaS€/\</)ia). It is significant that the word is not
used in profane writers except once in the adverbial form, and
that by ^larcus Aurelius (viii. 5).

dTroCTTuyouj'Tes : sc. eVrf as effrco above, and cf. I Pet. ii. 18 ; iii. i.
An alternative construction is to suppose an anacoluthon, as if
dyuTrare duviroKplTas had been read aoove; cf. 2 Cor. i. 7. The
word expresses a strong feeling of horror; the dno- by farther
emphasizing the idea of separation gives an intensive force, which
is heightened by contrast with KoWupfvoi.

TO TToi'Tjpoi' . . . Tu dyaOu. The characteristic of true genuine
love is to attach oneself to the good in a man, while detesting the
evil in him. There cannot be love for what is evil, but whoever
has love in him can see the good that there is in all.


10. Tjj 4>iXa8eX<})ia, 'love of the brethren'; as contrasted with
dyairr), which is universal, cfiiKabe'K^iia represents affection for the
brethren; that is, for all members of the Christian community,

of. 2 Pet. i. 7. Euthym.-Zig. dSeXcPol iare Kara rrjv avrip 8ia tov
^airrla-fiaTOS dvayevvrjcriv Kat 8ia tovto dvdyKtjv e)(fTe (piXndeXcpias,

<f>i\6o-TopYoi : the proper term for strong family affection. Euthym.-
Zig. Tovreari depficos ku\ Sianvpcos (pi\ovvTfs. tTTiTaais yap (piXias 17
OTopyrj, Kai ttJs <TTopyr]s iravrcos av^rjais r/ (piKoaropyia,

Tp Tififi K.T.X. : cf. Phil. ii. 3 ' in lowliness of mind each account-
ing other better than himself.' The condition and the result of
true affection are that no one seeks his own honour or position, and
every one is willing to give honour to others. The word TrporjYou-
(jiefoi is somewhat difficult; naturally it would mean 'going before,'
* preceding,' and so it has been translated, (i) ' in matters of honour
preventing one another,' being the first to show honour : so Vulg.
invicem praevementes ; or (2) 'leading the way in honourable
actions': 'Love makes a man lead others by the example of
showing respect to worth or saintliness,' Liddon ; or (3) ' surpass-
ing one another*: 'There is nothing which makes friends so
much, as the earnest endeavour to overcome one's neighbour in
honouring him,' Chrys.

But all these translations are somewhat forced, and are difficult,
because TrporiydaBai in this sense never takes the accusative. It is,
in fact, as admissible to give the word a meaning which it has not
elsewhere, as a construction which is unparalleled. A comparison
therefore of I Thess. v. 13 ; Phil. ii. 3 suggests that St. Paul is
using the word in the quite possible, although otherwise unknown,
sense of fiyovpevoi vnepexovTas. So apparently RV. ( = AV.) 'in
honour preferring one another,' and Vaughan.

11. TT) CTTTouSfj |XT) 6Kvy]poi, 'in zcal not flagging'; the words
being used in a spiritual sense, as is shown by the following clauses.
Zeal in all our Christian duties will be the natural result of our
Christian love, and will in time foster it. On dKvrjpos cf. Matt. xxv.
26 : it is a word common in the LXX of Proverbs (vi. 6, &c.).

., Tw Tri'€u')jiaTi t,iovTes: cf. Acts xviii. 25, 'fervent in spirit'; that is
the human spirit instinct with and inspired by the Divine Spirit.
The spiritual life is the source of the Christian's love : ' And all
things will be easy from the Spirit and the love, while thou art
made to glow from both sides,' Chrys.

Tu Kupio) 8ouXeuovT€s. The source of Christian zeal is spiritual
-life, the regulating principle our service to Christ. It is not
neces^ary to find any very subtle connexion of thought between
these clauses, they came forth eagerly and irregularly from St.
Paul's mind. Kvplca may have been suggested by nvfifimi, just as
below dtwKetv in one sense suggests the same word in another


There is a very considerable balance of authority in favour of Kvptqi
(NABELP &c., Vulg. Syrr. Boh., Gr. Fathers) as aji^ainst «aipi (D F G,
Latin Fathers). Cf. Jer. Jip. 27 ad Marcellam : i/li legant spe gaudentes,
tempori servientes, nos legatnus domino servientes. 0:ig.-lat. ad loc, scio
autem in nonnullis Latinorum exemplis haheri tempori servientes; quod
non mihi videtur convinienter inserlum. The corruption may have arisen
from KO) Kpo3 being confused together, a confusion which would be easier
from reminiscences of such expressions as Eph. t. 16 k^a-^opa^ontvoi r6v

12. Ttj IXiTiSi x^^P"*^*?* See above on ver. 8. The Christian
hope is the cause of that Christian joy and cheerfulness of dis-
position which is the grace of Christian love: cf. i Cor. xiii. 7
* Love . . . hopeth all things.'

TT) 6Xiv(/ei iJTroneVon-es. Endurance in persecution is naturally
connected with the Christian's hope : cf. I Cor. xiii. 7 ' Love . . .
endureth all things.'

It is interesting to notice how strongly, even thus early, persecu-
tion as a characterisiic of the Christian's life in th^ world had
impressed itself on St. Paul's phraseology : see i Thess. i. 6 ; iii.
3, 7 ; 2 Thess. i. 4, 6 ; 2 Cor, i. 4, &c. ; Rom. v. 3 ; viii. 35.

TTJ irpoCTeuxfj Trpoo-icapT£poun-es : Acts. i. 14; ii. 42; Col. iv. 2.
Persecution again naturally suggests prayer, for the strength of
prayer is specially needed in times of persecution.

13. xais xpetttis twk 6.yiiav Koirwi'oui'Tes- This verse contains two
special applications of the principle of love — sharing one's goods
with fellow-Christians in need, and exercising that hospitality
which was part of the bond which knit together the Christian com-
munity. With Koivavfiv in this sense cf. Phil. iv. 15; Rom. xv. 26;
e Cor. ix. 13; Heb. xiii. 16.

The variation rah fivtlais (D F G, MSS. known to Theod. Mops., Vulg.
cod. (am), Eus. Hist. Mart. Pal., ed. Cureton, p. i, Hil. Ambrstr. Aug.) is
interesting. In the translation of Origen we read : Usibus sanctorum com-
municantes. Memini in latinis exemplaribus magis haberi: memoriig
sanctorum comnmnicanles: venim nos nee cotisuetudinem iurbamus, nee
veritati praeindicamus, maxime cum utrumque conveniat aedificationi.
Nam usibus sanctorum honeste el decenter, non quasi stipem inaigentibus
praebere, sed censuni nostroruin cum ipsis quodamniodo habere communem , el
meminisse sanctorum sive in collectis solemnibus, sive pro eo, ut ex recorda-
lione eorum projiciavius, aplum el conveniens videtur. The variation must
have arisen at a time when the * holy ' were no longer the members of the
community and fellow-Christians, whose bodily wants required relieving,
but the 'saints' of the past, whose lives were commemorated. But this
custom arose as early as the middle of the second century: cf. Mart.
Polyc. xviii iv6a cli hxivarlv rjtuv avfayofxivon kv a.'yaXkiaaii Kal xapa nape^et
6 livptos intTf\fiv T^v ToC fiapTvpiov avTov fjnepav yevtOKiov, (U t« rf/v tuiv
vporjOKrjKuTtuv fnvfjfirjv Kal tSjv pteWSfrouv dcrHrjaiv re Kal iToi/xaaiav : and the
variations may, like other peculiarities of the western text, easily have arisen
•o soon. We cannot however lay any stress on the passage of Origen, as it
is probably due to Rufmus. See Bingham, An/, xiii. 9. 5. WH. suggest
that it was a clerical error arising from the confusion of xp and mn ia
• badly written papyrus MS.


4>iXo|ei'iaf, From the very beginning hospitality was recognizee'
as one of the most important of Christian duties (Heb. xiii. 2
I Tim. iii. 2 ; Tit. i. 8 ; i Pet. iv. 9 ; compare also Clem. Rom. § 1

TO fifyoKoir pares rrjs ({)iKo^evLas v/xlv ^f^of, § lO of Abraham 8ia nitXTti'
Ka\ (PiXo^fViav fdodrj avra vlos iv yrjpa : § 1 1 Bih (piKo^fvlav koi fiaeiSfiav
Acbr fawdr]'. § 12 8ia nicmv Koi (piKo^eviav fo-coOr] 'PaalB ij Tropvr] § 35).

On its significance in the early Church see Ramsay, T/ie Church
in the Roman Empire, pp. 288, 368. The Christians looked upon
themselves as a body of men scattered throughout the world, living
as aliens amongst strange people, and therefore bound together
as the members of a body, as the brethren of one family. The
practical realization of this idea would demand that whenever a
Christian went from one place to another he should find a home
among the Christians in each town he visited. We have a picture
of this intercommunion in the letters of Ignatius ; we can learn it
at an earlier period from the Second Epistle to the Corinthians
(2 Cor. iii. i; viii. 18, 23, 24). One necessary part of such inter-
communion would be the constant carrying out of the duties
of hospitality. It was the unity and strength which this inter-
course gave that formed one of the great forces which supported

14. euXoyeiTC Toiis StcSKorros. The use of the word StwKftv in one
sense seems to have suggested its use in another. The resem-
blance to Matt. v. 44 is very close : * But I say unto you, Love
your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you.' Emphasis
is added by the repetition of the maxim in a negative form. Cf.
James iii. 9.

15. YS".^^\v (i€tA YSxipfivtfsiv K.T.X. On the infinitive cf Winer,
§ xliii. 5 d, p. 397, E. T. But it seems more forcible and less
awkward to take it, as in Phil. iii. 16, as the infinitive used for
the emphatic imperative than to suppose a change of construc-
tion. 'But that requires more of a high Christian temper, to
rejoice with them that do rejoice, than to weep with them that
weep. For this nature itself fulfils perfectly : and there is none
so hardhearted as not to weep over him that is in calamity : but
the other requires a very noble soul, so as not only to keep from
envying, but even to feel pleasure with the person who is in
esteem. And this is why we placed it first. For there is nothing
that ties love so firmly as sharing both joy and pain one with
another,' Chrys. ad loc. Cf. Ecclus. vii. 34.

16. TO auTo . . . 4>poi'oijv'Tes, ' being harmonious in your relations
towards one another': cf. xv. 5; 2 Cor. xiii. 11; Phil. ii. 2; iv. 2.
The great hindrance to this would be having too high an estima-
tion of oneself: hence the Apostle goes on to condemn such

fiTj rd 6i|/rjX4 (|»poi'oo>'Tes cf. xi. 20 ; I Cor. xiii. 5 * Love vaunteth


not itself, is not puffed up/ shows how St. Paul is still carrying out

the leading idea of the passage.

Tots Taireii'ois : prob. neuter ; * allow yourself to be carried along
with, give yourself over to, humble tasks:' 'consentinge to meke
thingis,' Wic. The verb a-vvandyeiv means in the active 'to lead
along with one,' hence in the passive, ' to be carried away with,' as
by a flood which sweeps everything along with it (Lightfoot on
Gal. ii. 13; cf. 2 Pet. iii. 17), and hence 'to give oneself up to.'

The neuter seems best to suit the contrast with to. v-\^»jXa and
the meaning of the verb ; but elsewhere in the N. T. randvos is
always masculine, and so many take it here : ' make yourselves
equall to them of the lower sorte,' Tyn. Gov. Genev. ' Con-
sentinge to the humble,' Rhen. So Chrys. : ' That is, bring thyself
down to their humble condition, ride or walk with them ; do not be
humbled in mind only, but help them also, and stretch forth thy
hand to them.'

fiT] yiveaQi <j)p6ci|jioi irap' lauToTs : taken apparently from Prov. iii.
7 fxi) la-di (ppuvLnos Trapa a(avru>. Cf. Origen non potest veram sapien-
tiam Dei scire, qui suam stultitiam quasi sapientiam colit.

17. |XT)8ei/i KaKoi' dfTi KaKOu d-rroSiSoi'Tes. Another result of the
principle of love. Mat. v. 43, 44; i Thess. v. 15; i Pet. iii. 9 ;

1 Cor. xiii. 5, 6 'Love . . . taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth
not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth.'

irpoi'oou/iet'Oi Ka\a iviL-mov TrdfTUf dvGpuTrui' : cf. Prov. iii. 4 ;

2 Cor. iv. 2; viii. 21. 'As nothing causes offence so much as
offending men's prejudices, see that your conduct will commend
itself as honourable to men.' Euthym.-Zig, oh npos enidei^iv dWa

npbi 8ida(TKa\'iav, Koi wore pr]8(vi Sovvai Trp6cj)a(nu aicav8dXov. This

seems better than to lay all the emphasis on the ndpTav, as some
would do.

18. €1 8ocaT<5i', ' if it be possible, live peaceably with all men, at
any rate as far as concerns your part {t6 i^ vfiuv).' Over what others
will do you can have no control, and if they break the peace it is
not your fault. ' Love seeketh not its own ' (i Cor. xiii. 5).

Online LibraryW. (William) SandayA critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans → online text (page 58 of 71)