Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ROMANS - Chapter 1

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Romans 1

Supplemental Commentary:

Introduction  1, 1-17

1, 1-7:  Greeting.    1.  Servant of Jesus Christ: as the agents of God in the Old Testament were termed "servants of God" (Ps. 17, 1; Amos 3, 7).  Called to be an apostle: the details of St. Paul's vocation may be read in Acts 9, 1 ff.  The gospel of God: either the content of the revealed message, or the work of propagating it by preaching.  In v.16 it means the whole economy of Redemption, the body of revealed truth.  God is its author.    2.  The prophets: not only the works of the writing prophets, but all the Old Testament Scriptures.

The mention of the Son occasions a digression, not uncommon in Paul's letters, which reaches to v.6.    3.  As regards His human nature, the Son was of the offspring of David.    4.  Cf. note to text.  The holiness of his spirit: more probably designates the divine nature; nowhere in Scripture is the expression used of the Holy Spirit.  Cf. 1 Tim. 3, 16; 1 Pet. 3, 18.  Resurrection from the dead: either the moment from which His glorification began, or the chief proof of His divinity.  Jesus Christ: in apposition to His Son in v.3.    5.  To bring about obedience, etc.: the Gentile world was in a special way the field of Paul's mission.  Cf. Acts 9, 15; Gal. 2, 7.  The object of his mission was his name's sake, i.e., that He might be acknowledged by the Gentiles as Son of God and the Savior of the mankind.    6.  To be Jesus Christ's: the call is from the Father, and is to membership in Christ's Mystical Body; cf. Rom. 8, 30; 1 Cor. 1, 9; Gal. 1, 15.    7.  God's beloved: the reason of their call.  Saints: through grace they become partakers of the divine life; they are made holy by incorporation in Christ's Mystical Body.

1, 8-12:  Commendation.  Paul does not say that the Romans' faith is above that of the other churches, but that it is noteworthy.    9.  In my spirit: with his whole heart and soul.    11.  Spiritual grace: any gift proceeding from the Holy Spirit.    12.  A modest clarification of his meaning.

1, 13-15:  Why He Wishes to Visit Them.    13.  The hindrance to his visiting Rome is explained in 15, 20-25 as preoccupation in other missionary fields.  Results: the making of new converts.    14.  To Greeks and to foreigners: the distinction is between those imbued with Graeco-Roman culture and those devoid of it.

1, 16-17:  Theme of the Epistle.    16.  In the eyes of the Gentiles the gospel was considered foolishness (1 Cor. 1, 23); hence Paul declares he is not ashamed of it, asserting its true worth.  Power of God: divine in origin, it cannot be impeded by men.  Unto salvation: its aim is the liberation of mankind from sin and eternal death, and their introduction to grace and eternal life.  To everyone who believes: it is available to all on the condition of faith.  To the Jew first: in virtue of the Messianic promises, the Jews were given the first opportunity of hearing the gospel message.  This subject is enlarged upon in 9-11.  It was St. Paul's practice in each city to go first to the Jews.  Cf. Acts 13, 15.46; 28, 17.    17.  The justice of God: that holiness which has God for its author, and is imparted to all who believe in Jesus Christ as their redeemer; that vital principle by which man lives the supernatural life of grace.  It is in contrast with the justice which is from the Mosaic Law (Phil. 3, 7-9; Rom. 10, 3).  This is the main thesis of 1-8.  From faith to faith: i.e., faith increasing in intensity.  This faith is an internal assent to the truths revealed; it is made active by love (Gal. 5, 6); it results in union with Christ (Gal. 2, 20; 2 Cor. 13, 5; Eph. 3, 17).

1, 18 -- 11, 36

1.  Humanity without Christ  1, 18 -- 3, 20

1, 18-23:  The Pagans Adore Idols.    18.  The wrath of God: God's vindictive justice in punishing sin.  While this is ultimately reserved for the Last Judgment, it is visited upon men even in this life, hence it is revealed.  Hold back the truth of God: wickedness is a force opposed to truth which, if unrestrained, would expand in justice.    19.  What may be known of God: God's existence and something of His nature may be known by the light of natural reason.    20.  The evidence which created things offer in proof of the existence of God, and in manifestation of His attributes, is such as to leave the man of normal understanding without excuse.  Cf. Wisd. 13, 1 ff.

21.  Did not glorify him as God: by rendering Him a service commensurate with His nature and with His claim upon them.  Vain . . . darkened: persistence in ungodliness led to failure in mind and heart in the things pertaining to God.    22 f.  They thus reached the supreme degree of folly manifest in their idolatry.

1, 24-32:  Punishment of Idolaters.  God has given them up: the terrible consequence of their error.  This is repeated three times, each time introducing a new degree of their fall and a new penalty.    24.  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie (as in v.23); and God gave them up to uncleanness.    25-27.  They served the creature rather than the creator; and God gave them up to shameful, unnatural lusts.    28.  They resolved against possessing the knowledge of God; and God gave them up to a reprobate sense.  Their moral sense, the judgment directing their moral acts, no longer discharged its function.    29-31.  The result was moral chaos, social disruption.    32.  A further definition of the reprobate sense: they lost view of the terrible sanction, and even applauded iniquity.

Confraternity Bible:

Greeting  1 Paul, the servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he had promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son who was born to him according to the flesh of the offspring of David; 4* who was foreordained Son of God by an act of power in keeping with the holiness of his spirit, by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received the grace of apostleship to bring about obedience of faith among all the nations for his name's sake; 6 among whom are you also called to be Jesus Christ's--- 7 to all God's beloved who are in Rome, called to be saints: grace be to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Commendation and Desire to Visit Them  8 First I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed all over the world.  9 For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you, 10 always imploring in my prayers that somehow I may at last by God's will come to you after a safe journey.  11 For I long to see you that I may impart some spiritual grace unto you to strengthen you, 12 that is, that among you I may be comforted together with you by that faith which is common to us both, yours and mine.

Why He Wishes to Visit Them  13 Now I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that I have often intended to come to see you (and have been hindered until now) that I may produce some results among you also, as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.  14 To Greeks and to foreigners, to learned and unlearned, I am debtor; 15 so, for my part, I am ready to preach the gospel to you also who are at Rome.

Theme of the Epistle  16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to Jew first and then to Greek.  17* For in it the justice of God is revealed, from faith unto faith, as it is written,
"He who is just lives by faith."
The Pagans Adore Idols  18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those men who in wickedness hold back the truth of God, 19 seeing that what may be known about God is manifest to them.  For God has manifested it to them.  20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen---his everlasting power also and divinity---being understood through the things that are made.  And so they are without excuse, 21 seeing that, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give thanks, but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless minds have been darkened.  22 For while professing to be wise, they have become fools, 23 and they have changed the glory of the incorruptible God for an image made like to corruptible man and to birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things.

Punishment of Idolaters  24* Therefore God has given them up in the lustful desires of their hearts to uncleanness, so that they dishonor their own bodies among themselves--- 25 they who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forever, amen.

26 For this cause God has given them up to shameful lusts; for their women have exchanged the natural use for that which is against nature, 27 and in like manner the men also, having abandoned the natural use of the woman, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men doing shameless things and receiving in themselves the fitting recompense of their perversity.  28 And as they have resolved against possessing the knowledge of God, God has given them up to a reprobate sense, so that they do what is not fitting; 29 being filled with all iniquity, malice, immorality, avarice, wickedness; being full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity; being whisperers, 30 detractors, hateful to God, irreverent, proud, haughty, plotters of evil; disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy.  32 Although they have known the ordinance of God, they have not understood that those who practice such things are deserving of death.  And not only do they do these things, but they applaud others doing them.


4: Foreordained: Jesus Christ was from all eternity the real Son of God according to His divine nature.  When He became man, the glory of this nature was hidden away from men in the human nature which He had assumed.

17: Hab. 2, 4.  The holiness and justice that God imparts to man, transforming him from a sinner into a son of God by adoption, and an heir to heaven.

24: God has given them up: as St. Thomas Aquinas says, not by impelling them to evil, but by deserting them.  He justly withdrew His grace from them in punishment of their idolatry, and being thus abandoned by God, men followed the bent of fallen nature, and fell into the degradation of unnatural vice.