Text in red are my additions.
In this magnificent prologue the Apostle fixes the attention of his
readers at Rome upon his own claim to be listened to by them, as an
apostle of Christ. We shall find that in the verses that succeed, 8-17,
he continues to press the same subject on them, on the ground of his
care and solicitude for their spiritual welfare. In the remainder of
the chapter he enters upon the task he has principally set himself in
this Epistle, to prove that Justification is of faith, not of the law,
natural or positive; and turning first to the Gentiles, convicts them of
systematic and flagrant disobedience to the known laws of God.
Romans 1:1. Paul, servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated to the Gospel of God.
Paul. The Apostle’s Hebrew name was Saul. He may
have had two names given him in circumcision, and this is the opinion of
Origen, Saint Anselm, and Saint Thomas. Or his name may have been
changed to Paul in the same way that that of Simon was changed to
Cephas, or Peter: this is the opinion of Saint Chrysostom. Or else he
took the name Paul from his first convert of distinction, Sergius
Paulus, the proconsul of Cyprus; which is the view of Saint Jerome,
followed by Baronius (see Acts13:12). Or lastly, he may have assumed
the name Paul, which means little, out of humility, being small of
stature, and considering himself the least (Eph 3:8), which is the
opinion of Saint Augustine. At any rate it is certain that he is called
Paul from the date of his mission to Cyprus with Saint Barnabas, and
takes this name in all his Epistles.
The opinions concerning the name of Paul have a long history,
right up into modern times. The fact is, however, that no reason is
given for the change of name: “Acts simply says, ‘Saul, who is also called Paul,’ and that is all there is to it” (Stanley B. Marrow, PAUL, HIS LETTERS AND HIS THEOLOGY pg 7).
Servant of Jesus Christ. There are several modes of
servitude to God, says St Chrysostom: by creation, by faith, by
institute (office) of life; and St Paul was God’s servant in all three.
The Greek word “servant,” as well as the Latin one, means literally
Concerning St John Chrysostom, here is what he wrote: “Paul,
a servant of Jesus Christ.” Why did God change his name, and call him
Paul who was Saul? It was, that he might not even in this respect come
short of the Apostles, but that that preëminence which the chief of the
Disciples had, he might also acquire (Mc 3,16); and have whereon to
ground a closer union with them. And he calls himself, the servant of
Christ, yet not merely this; for there be many sorts of servitude. One
owing to the Creation, according to which it says, “for all are Thy
servants” (Ps 119,91); and according to which it says, “Nebuchadnezzar,
My servant” (Jr 25,9), for the work is the servant of Him which made it.
Another kind is that from the faith, of which it saith, “But God be
thanked that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from a pure
heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you: being then
made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Rm
6,17-18). Another is that from civil subjection (toliteia”), after which
it saith, “Moses my servant is dead” (Jos 1,2); and indeed all the Jews
were servants, but Moses in a special way as shining most brightly in
the community. Since then, in all the forms of the marvellous servitude,
Paul was a servant, this he puts in the room of the greatest title of
dignity, saying, “a servant of Jesus Christ.”
The title “servant” has its origins in the Old Testament, wherein
we find numerous individuals, especially prophets or those chosen for a
special mission, referred to as such (2 Sam 24:10; Amos 3:7; Jer
25:4). The title was also used of the people of Israel in general,
especially in relation to worship, the service of God. St Paul is using
the word here in reference to his mission, a mission he also sees in
priestly terms (Rom 15:15-21), for the sake of making a priestly people
Called to be an Apostle. The Greek word kletos
called, is an adjective, not a participle. It means an Apostle by
vocation, or the call of Christ, not by his own intrusion into the
office, or any human appointment. The same adjective occurs in verses 6
and 7, and has in both cases an analogous meaning: saints y God’s
St Paul often emphasizes the gratuitous nature of his office.
This is usually done in response to opponents who were apparently
claiming Paul had no right to the ministry and had taken it upon
himself, without Divine warrant (see Gal 1:1, 11-17). At other times St
Paul refers to its gratuitous nature to highlight God’s mercy (1 Tim 1:12-17).
Separated. Has reference to the words of Christ in Acts 9:15, and 13:2. Here the meaning has the sense of “appoint”, as in Galatians 1:15. The
three terms, servant, called, separated to the Gospel, are perhaps
insisted upon to counteract some unfavorable rumors which may have been
prevalent at Rome regarding the purity of the Pauline doctrine. But
they are also the inalienable marks of the true Bishop of the Church of
God in all times. He is to teach the Gospel of God, not human
inventions. He must have a divine call, not a merely human one. And he
must live, labor, suffer, die, if necessary, in the service of God and
The Gospel of God. The Good News of Salvation
in Christ Jesus. The Good News is the announcement of the coming Reign
of God (Mk 1:14); which is brought near in the death and resurrection of
Christ, who now reigns in power and who, through the Church, is
bringing the Reign and the Gospel to fulfillment (Matt 28:18-20).
Romans 1:2. Which He had promised in former times by His prophets, in the Holy Scriptures.
Which He promised. God’s Gospel is no novelty. It was announced and expected from the beginning of the world…St
Paul sees the OT Scripture as being oriented towards the eschatological
age in which we know live (see Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 9:10). It is for this
reason that the OT Scripture can only be understood in the light of the
Gospel (2 Cor 3:7-4:7; 2 Tim 3:15 ).
Romans 1:3. Concerning His Son, who was made to him of the seed of David according to the flesh.
Who was made to him. Who in time was made man, and born of the Virgin Mary, of the race of David. The
Greek word ginomai is also used for the birth of Christ in Galatians
4:4. St Paul's application of this word in Christological contexts perhaps implys Christ’s pre-existence.
Rom 1:4. Who was predestined the Son of God in virtue according to
the Spirit of Sanctification from the resurrection of the dead, our Lord
Jesus Christ: (RSV Translation of this verse- and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,)
Who was predestined the Son of God. This phrase
has a long and complex interpretive history which cannot be gone into
here. Most modern scholars, rightly in my opinion, reject the Vulgate
translation being used here. The RSV reads: “and
designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by
his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord…” The
full significance of Jesus being the Son of God and Messiah could not
be adequately known until after his resurrection and the giving of the
Spirit, when the prophecies of Scripture could be seen as fulfilled.
Rom 1:5. Through whom we have received grace and Apostolate for the obedience of faith in all the nations for his name,
Through whom we have received grace and Apostolate. Sanctification
gratuitously given of God’s mercy: all free and supernatural gifts; and
the Apostolate, to be exercised in Christ’s name and by his authority
among all nations. Clearly the author of these comments sees a
twofold reference here. More likely, “gace and Apostolate” means “the
grace of apostleship,” thus building upon the references to himself as
servant, called, and separated in vs 1.
For the obedience of faith. St Chrysostom: He does not say, to be brought into question and debate, or to be loudly canvassed: but obeyed. We
are not sent to put forward syllogisms and arguments; but to deliver
that which is committed to our trust. What God has pronounced and
affirmed, men are not to criticize or cavil at, but to listen receive.
The spirit of faith is the spirit of obedience. Not a simple and
natural operation of the mind, or exercise of reason, but the submission
and adhesion of the will of man by the help of grace, to the word of
God. Concerning the obedience of faith, see here. See also 2 Cor 10:1-6.
Rom 1:6. Among whom are you also, the called of Jesus Christ:
Among whom you also. Among the other nations of the
earth, to whom our mission extends universally, are you also, Romans,
and to you therefore I write, who are the called of Jesus Christ. This word (called) is more than once repeated, for the faithful to understand that they are Christians by the grace of God.
Rom 1:7. To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints,
grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace. Grace, to unite them to God; peace
to untie them to one another. The two words are repeatedly joined in
this manner in St Paul’s Epistles. This form of salutation was given y
Christ to his Apostles, (Luke 10:5). The two words together imply the fullness of covenant blessing.
Called to be saints. Sanctity is the end of your
vocation. Observe here the grandeur of the Christian Vocation. The
Christian belongs to Christ. He is “the dalled of Jesus Christ;” and he
is “beloved of God.” And he is a “saint,” being sanctified by Baptism.
6 years ago