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rejected Messias, whom he sent to them to be their King and Deliverer, but was received by but a very small number of them, which remnant was received into the kingdom of Christ, and so continued to be his people, with the converted Gentiles, who altogether made now the church and people of God.
4. That the Jewish nation had no reason to complain of any unrighteousness in God, or hardship from him, in their being cast off for their unbelief, since they had been warned of it, and they might find it threatened in their ancient prophets. Besides, the raising or depressing of any nation is the prerogative of God's sovereignty. Preservation in the land, that God has given them, being not the right of any one race of men, above another. And God might, when he thought fit, reject the nation of the Jews, by the same sovereignty whereby he at first chose the posterity of Jacob to be his people, passing by other nations, even such as descended from Abraham and Isaac : but yet he tells them, that at last they shall be restored again.
Besides the assurance he labours to give the Romans, that they are, by faith in Jesus Christ, the people of God, without circumcision, or other observances of the Jews, whatever they may say, (which is the main drift of this epistle,) it is further remarkable, that this epistle being writ to a church of Gentiles, in the metropolis of the Roman empire, but not planted by St. Paul himself, he, as apostle of the Gentiles, out of care that they should rightly understand the Gospel, has woven into his discourse the chief doctrines of it, and given them a comprehensive view of God's dealing with mankind, from first to last, in reference to eternal life. The principal heads whereof are these:
That, by Adam's transgression, sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death reigned over all men, from Adam to Moses.
That, by Moses, God gave the children of Israel (who were his people, i. e. owned him for their God, and kept themselves free from the idolatry and revolt of the heathen world) a law, which if they obeyed, they should have life
thereby, i. e. attain to immortal life, which had been Iost by Adam's transgression.
That though this law, which was righteous, just, and good, were ordained to life, yet, not being able to give strength to perform what it could not but require, it failed, by reason of the weakness of human nature, to help men to life. So, that, though the Israelites had statutes, which if a man did, he should live in them; yet they all transgressed, and attained not to righteousness and life, by the deeds of the law.
That, therefore, there was no way to life left to those under the law, but by the righteousness of faith in Jesus Christ, by which faith alone they were that seed of Abraham, to whom the blessing was promised.
This was the state of the Israelites.
As to the Gentile world, he tells them,
That, though God made himself known to them, by legible characters of his being and power, visible in the works of the creation, yet they glorified him not, nor were thankful to him; they did not own nor worship the one, only, true, invisible God, the Creator of all things, but revolted from him, to gods set up by themselves, in their own vain imaginations, and worshipped stock and stones, the corruptible images of corrupible things.
That, they having cast off their allegiance to him, their proper Lord, and revolted to other gods, God therefore, cast them off, and gave them up to vile affections, and to the conduct of their own darkened hearts, which led them into all sorts of vices.
That both Jews and Gentiles, being thus all under sin, and coming short of the glory of God, God, by sending his Son Jesus Christ, shows himself to be the God both of the Jews and Gentiles, since he justifieth the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith, so that all that believe are freely justified by his grace.
That though justification unto eternal life be only by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, yet we are, to the utmost of our power, sincerely to endeavour after righteousness, and from our hearts obey the precepts of the
Gospel, whereby we become the servants of God; for his servant we are whom we obey, whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness.
These are but some of the more general and comprehensive heads of the Christian doctrine, to be found in this epistle. The design of a Synopsis will not permit me to descend more minutely to particulars. But this let me say, that he, that would have an enlarged view of true Christianity, will do well to study this epistle.
Several exhortations, suited to the state that the Christians of Rome were then in, make up the latter part of the epistle.
This epistle was writ from Corinth, the year of our Lord, according to the common account, 57, the third year of Nero, a little after the Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
CHAPTER I. 1—15.
INTRODUCTION, with his profession of a desire to see them.
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God,
2 (Which he had promised afore, by his prophets, in the Holy Scriptures), 3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David, according to the flesh;
4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, sepa2 rated to the preaching of the Gospel of God (which he had
heretofore promised, by his prophets, in the Holy Scriptures) 3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; (who according
to the flesh, i. e. as to the body, which he took in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, his mother, was of the posterity and lineage 4 of David; According to the spirit of holiness, i. e. as to that more pure and spiritual part, which in him over-ruled all, and kept even his frail flesh holy and spotless from the least taint of sin, and was of another extraction, with most mighty power, declared to be the Son of God, by his resurrection from the
1 "Called." The manner of his being called, see Acts ix. 1—22. Separated, vid. Acts xiii. 2.
3" Of David," and so would have been registered of the house and lineage of David, as both his mother and reputed father were, if there had been another tax in his days. Vid. Luke ii. 4. Matth. xiii. 55.
4 d❝ According to the spirit of holiness," is here manifestly opposed to, “according to the flesh," in the foregoing verse, and so must mean that more pure and spiritual part in him, which, by divine extraction, he had immediately from God: unless this be so understood, the antithesis is lost.
See paraphrase, chap. viii. 3.
Ev duvaus, with power: he that will read in the original what St. Paul says, Eph. i. 19, 20, of the power, which God exerted, in raising Christ from the dead, will hardly avoid thinking that he there sees St. Paul labouring for words to express the greatness of it.
"Declared" does not exactly answer the word in the original, nor is it, perhaps, easy to find a word in English, that perfectly answers poderos in the
5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name;
6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ.)
7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit, in the Gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; 10 Making request (if by any means now at length I might have a prosper
ous journey, by the will of God) to come unto you.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established;
5 dead; By whom I received favour, and the office of an apostle, for the bringing of the Gentiles every where, to the 6 obedience of faith, which I preach in his name; of which number, i. e. Gentiles, that I am sent to preach to, are ye 7 who are already called 1, and become Christians.) To all the beloved of God, and called to be saints, who are in Rome, favour and peace be to you from God our Father, and the 8 Lord Jesus Christ. In the first place, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken 9 of throughout the whole world. For For God is my witness,
whom I serve with the whole bent of my mind, in preaching the Gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I constantly make 10 mention of you in my prayers. Requesting (if it be God's will, that I may now at length, if possible, have a good op11 portunity) to come unto you. For I long to see you, that
I may communicate to you some spiritual gift, for your esta
sense the apostle uses here; open signifies properly to bound, terminate, or circumscribe; by which termination the figure of things sensible is made, and they are known to be of this, or that race, and are distinguished from others. Thus St. Paul takes Christ's resurrection from the dead, and his entering into immortality, to be the most eminent and characteristical mark, whereby Christ is certainly known, and as it were determined to be the Son of God.
6 To take the thread of St. Paul's words here right, all from the word Lord in the middle of ver. 3, to the beginning of this 7th, must be read as a parenthesis.
6 and 7" Called of Jesus Christ; called to be saints; beloved of God;" are but different expressions for professors of Christianity.
11 Spiritual gift." If any one desire to know more particularly the spiritual gifts, he may read 1 Cor. xii.