Paul is probably writing from Corinth during those three months which he spent in Greece (Ac 20:2f) just before sailing east. He mentions three places which he is intending to visit: Jerusalem (15:25ff), Rome (1:11ff; 15:23ff), and Spain (15:20, 24, 28). His most obvious purposes in writing were related to these three destinations. Paul thought of Rome, between Jerusalem and Spain, as a place of refreshment after Jerusalem and preparation for Spain. Jerusalem represented his commitment to the welfare of Israel and Spain that to the Gentile mission. Paul's visit to Jerusalem was with the purpose of taking with him the collection from the Greek churches for the poverty stricken Christians in Judea. This was more than an act of kindness; it was a symbol of Jewish-Gentile solidarity in the body of Christ, and a symbol of Gentiles sharing with Jews their material blessings, having first shared in their spiritual blessings (15:27). Paul was apprehensive. Many Jewish Christians regarded him with deep suspicion. Some condemned him for disloyalty to his Jewish heritage. For such Jewish Christians, to accept the offering which Paul was taking to Jerusalem would be tantamount to endorsing his liberal policy on matters of circumcision and law-observance. Paul requests prayer from Rome's mixed Jewish-Gentile Christian community.

Spain was part of the western frontier of the Roman Empire. Paul had evangelized the four provinces of Galatia, Asia, Macedonia and Achaia and set his sights on where Christ was not known. In writing to Rome he is inviting their fellowship and assistance (15:24) perhaps meaning their encouragement, financial support and prayers. As Antioch had been base camp in the East Mediterranean mission so Rome was intended to be base of operations in the Western Mediterranean.

The church at Rome possibly came into being through Jewish Christians who had returned home from Jerusalem after Pentecost (Ac 2:10). If Paul's policy was not to build on another's foundation, we can only guess that Rome was not regarded as any one person's territory. Or perhaps as the specially appointed apostle to the Gentiles Paul considered it appropriate for himself to minister in the metropolis of the Gentile world (1:11ff), albeit on a passing visit (15:24, 28). Paul writes to prepare them for his visit, to establish his apostolic credentials before church members who were not known to him. In doing so he also addresses his readers' concerns and responds to criticism. He asks three things for himself: prayer that the service in Jerusalem would be accepted, help on his way to Spain, and a welcome during his stopover in Rome. This was Paul's situation. The situation of the Roman Christians can be marked out in the following way. The church in Rome was a mixed community with a Gentile majority. There was considerable conflict between the Jews and Gentiles which was not so much to do with race and culture as to do with different convictions about the status of God's covenant and law, and so about salvation. Perhaps the 'disturbances' made by the Jews in Rome 'at the instigation of Chrestus' (Christ), mentioned by Suetonius (Life of Claudius, c.AD 120, 25.4), and which led to their expulsion from Rome in AD 49 by the Emperor Claudius (Ac 18:2), were due to conflicts between Jewish and Gentile Christians. The theological issue beneath the tensions between Jews and Gentiles in Rome could be related to the weak and strong divisions (chapters 14-15). The Jewish Christians were proud of their favoured status, and the Gentile Christians of their freedom, so that Paul saw the need to humble them both and make peace between opponents. He had himself had a foot in both camps (cf. 9:3 and 11:13) and so was well placed to be an agent of reconciliation. In this ministry Paul develops two paramount themes: the justification of guilty sinners irrespective of status or works; and the redefinition of the people of God, no longer according to descent, circumcision or culture, but according to faith. The single most important theme of Romans is the equality of Jews and Gentiles.

1 1Paul [Paulos]

The letter-writing convention in the ancient world was to reverse the order of address so that the writer addressed himself first and the correspondent next. Paul follows this convention but with an extended description of himself, in relation to the gospel. Perhaps Paul did not found the church in Rome, nor has he visited it, so feels the need to establish his credentials as an apostle. According to tradition, Paul was an ugly little guy with beetle brows, bandy legs, a bald pate, a hooked nose, bad eyesight, and no great rhetorical gifts (The Acts of Paul and Thecla). Cf. 2 Cor 10:10; Gal 4:13f.

, a servant [doulos]

'Slave'. For examples of the self-description of 'slave' or 'servant' of Yahweh in the OT, see Ps 116:16; Is 43:1,10.

of Jesus Christ [christou; Heb. Messiah], called to be an apostle [klētos apostolos]

Jesus himself chose this word as his designation of the Twelve and Paul claimed to have been added to their number (e.g., Gal 1:1). The qualifications of the apostles were that they were directly and personally called and commissioned by Jesus, that they were eye-witnesses of the historical Jesus, importantly of his resurrection (Ac 1:21-26; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:8f), and that they were sent out by him to preach with his authority. The NT apostle resembled both the OT prophet, who was 'called' and 'sent' by YHWH to speak in his name, and the shaliach of rabbinic Judaism, who was a delegate or representative with legal powers to act on behalf of his principal.

, set apart [aphōrizō]

Has the same root meaning as pharisaios, 'Pharisee', cf. Phil 3:5.

for the Good News [euangelion]

The OT background to this is found in the LXX of Isaiah 40-66 where this noun or its cognate verb euangelizomai is used of the proclamation of Zion's impending release from exile

of God, 2which he promised before through his prophets in the holy Scriptures [graphais; Heb. Tanakh], 3concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4who was declared [horizō]

Does not really or usually mean 'declare'. It is properly rendered 'appoint', or 'marked out', as in Ac 10:42; 17:31. The translation must not imply that the resurrection made a difference to Jesus' appointment as the Son of God for this he always has been.

to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord [kyriou]

Some have thought that the these verses here (4 and 5) are fragments of an early creed on account of the carefully constructed parallelism. The Christ and Lord references would have had significance for Jewish and Gentile Christians respectively.

, 5through whom we received grace [charin]

The Greek greeting was Chaire, which literally means 'Rejoice!'. The Jew said Shalōm which was sometimes amplified to 'Mercy and peace' (as in 2 Baruch 78:2). Paul takes over the amplified form, but in place of 'mercy' he habitually uses 'grace'.

and apostleship [apostolēn], for obedience of faith [pisteōs] among all the nations [ethnesin]

In the following clause Paul indicates that the Christians in Rome were predominantly Gentile.

, for his name's sake; 6among whom you are also called [klētoi] to belong to Jesus Christ; 7to all who are in Rome [Rōmē]

Rome was the eternal city which had given peace to the world. Rome was the fount of law, the centre of civilization, the Mecca of poets and orators and artists and simultaneously a home of every kind of idolatrous worship. Rome was the symbol of imperial pride and power. People spoke of it with awe. Everybody hoped to visit Rome at least once in their lifetime, just to look and stare and wonder.

Compared to the beautiful and well-planned cities of the Greek world, Rome appeared a backward and ramshackle place. Rome was a city of hills and deep valleys, attics teetering over the streets, cramped back-alleys, but it was a free city. Its climate was temperate, there were hills that could be easily defended; a river which led to the sea; springs and fresh breezes. However the Tiber was prone to violent flooding, and the valleys of Rome were rife with malaria.

The streets of Rome had never had any kind of planning imposed upon them. That would have taken a design-minded despot, and Roman magistrates rarely had more than a single year in office at a time. As a result, the city had grown chaotically, at the whim of unmanageable impulses and needs. Stray off one of Rome's two grand thoroughfares, the via Sacra and the via Nova, and a visitor would soon be adding to the hopeless congestion. A contractor, hot and sweaty might be maneuvering mules and porters, stone and timber might dangle on the rope of a giant crane, funeral mourners might jostle with well-made carts, mad dogs might slope about. Even citizens found their city confusing. The only way to negotiate it was to memorise notable landmarks: a fig-tree, a market's colonnade, a temple large enough to loom above the maze of narrow streets. As Rome was a devout city, temples abounded. The Romans' reverence for the past meant that ancient structures were hardly ever demolished, not even when the open spaces in which they might once have stood had long since vanished under brick. Temples loomed over slums or meat markets, they sheltered veiled statues whose very identities might have been forgotten, and yet no one ever thought to demolish them.

Shanty-towns stretched along the great trunk-roads. The dead were sheltered here as well, and the necropolises that stretched towards the coast and the south, along the great Appian Way, were notorious for muggers and cut-rate whores. But not every tomb had been left to crumble. As the traveler approached Rome's gates he might occasionally find the stench from the city ameliorated by myrrh or cassia, perfumes borne to him on the breeze from a cypress-shaded tomb. Such a moment, the sense of communion with the past, was a common one in Rome.

, beloved [agapētois] of God, called to be saints [klētois agiois]

'Saints' or 'holy people' was a regular OT designation of Israel. Now Gentile Christians in Rome were called 'saints'. The absence of any reference to church here may point to the fact of the Christians meeting in several house groups.

: Grace [charis] to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 8First, I thank [eucharisteō] my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, that your faith [pistis] is proclaimed throughout the whole world [kosmō]. 9For God is my witness, whom I serve [latreuō] in my spirit [pneumati] in the Good News [euangelizō] of his Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers, 10requesting, if by any means now at last I may be prospered by the will [thelēmati] of God to come to you. 11For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift [charisma], to the end that you may be established [stērichthēnai]; 12that is, that I with you may be encouraged [symparakaeomai] in you, each of us by the other's faith [pisteōs], both yours and mine. 13Now I don't desire to have you unaware [agnoein], brothers [adelphoi], that I often planned to come to you, and was hindered [kōlyō] so far, that I might have some fruit [karpon]

The thought behind this picture is of a gathering of fruit, not of bearing it.

among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles [ethnesin]. 14I am debtor [opheilō]

Should properly be translated, 'I am (a) debtor' (AV) in the sense of being entrusted with something of great worth.

both to Greeks [Hellēsin] and to foreigners [barbarois]

Lit. 'barbarians'. Barbaroi probably imitated the unintelligible sound of foreign languages.

, both to the wise [sophois] and to the foolish. 15So, as much as is in me, I am eager to preach the Good News [euangelizō] to you also who are in Rome. 16For I am not ashamed of the Good News [euangelion]

In Paul's exposé of the depravity of Gentile society there are parallels with the Genesis account of the fall of Adam and with the Hellenistic Jewish polemic against pagan idolatry in the book of Wisdom, especially chapters 13-14.

of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation [sōtērian] for everyone who believes [pisteuō]; for the Jew first, and also for the Greek [Hellēni]. 17For in it is revealed God's righteousness [dikaiosynē] from faith to faith [ek pisteōs eis pistin]. As it is written, "But the righteous [dikaios] shall live [zēsetai] by faith [pisteōs]." 18For the wrath [orgē] of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness [asebeian] and unrighteousness [adikian] of men, who suppress [katechō] the truth in unrighteousness [akikia], 19because that which is known of God is revealed [phaneroō] in them, for God revealed [phaneroō] it to them. 20For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world [kosmou] are clearly seen [noeō kathoraō]

Lit, 'being understood are perceived', where the former verb refers to intelligence and the latter to physical sight.

, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting [aidios]

Found elsewhere only in Jude 6 could mean everlasting to distinguish it from the commoner aiōnios, 'eternal'.

power [dynamis] and divinity [theotēs]

Only NT instance of theiotēs, 'divinity', 'divine nature'.

; that they may be without excuse. 21Because, knowing God, they didn't glorify him as God, neither gave thanks [eucharisteō], but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened. 22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23and traded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things. 24Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonoured among themselves, 25who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen [Amēn]. 26For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions [pathē atimias]. For their women changed the natural [physikēn]

According to nature means according to God's intentions. Physis means God's created order.

function into that which is against nature [para physin]

The opposition of 'natural' and 'unnatural' was frequently used as a way of distinguishing between heterosexual and homosexual behaviour. Differentiating between sexual orientation and sexual practice is a modern concept.

. 27Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function [physicēn chrēsin]

There is no hint in the text here that Paul is only thinking of pederasty as if that was the only form of male homosexuality in the Greco-Roman world.

of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves [autōn en eautois] the due penalty of their error. 28Even as they refused to have God in their knowledge [epignōsei], God gave them up to a reprobate [adokimon]

"Counterfeit"; lit. 'unapproving'. There is a play on words between worthwhile and depraved. A translation which captures this might be, 'since they did not see fit to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to an unfit mind'.

mind, to do those things which are not fitting [ta mē kathēkonta]

Technical term of Stoic philosophy, 'kathēkonta' denoting actions that were 'fitting'. A similar expression is used in Eph 5:4, of things 'which are not fitting' (ha ouk anēken).

; 29being filled [plēroō] with all unrighteousness [adikia]

Catalogues of vices were not uncommon in those days and have been found in Stoic, Jewish and early Christian literature. Even here is Paul's list of twenty-one vices, the picture is not as dark as that painted by the most distinguished Greek and Latin authors. Paul was not making anything up.

, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, malice; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil habits, secret slanderers, 30backbiters, hateful to God, insolent [hybristēs]

One who behaves with humiliating and unconscionable arrogance to those who are not powerful enough to retaliate.

, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection [astorgous], unforgiving, unmerciful; 32who, knowing the ordinance [dikaiōma] of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also approve [syneudokeō] of those who practice them.

2 1Therefore you are without excuse, O man, whoever you are who judge [krinō]

Paul now imagines an interlocutor who represents the position against which he argues in the well established tradition of the Greek philosophical 'diatribe'. Perhaps the kind of person that Paul has in mind is a follower of the moral leader Seneca, a contemporary of Paul, a Stoic moralist and tutor of Nero. He exalted the great moral virtues, exposed hypocrisy, preached the equality of all humans, acknowledged the pervasive character of evil, ridiculed vulgar idolatry and believed in daily self-examination.

. For in that which you judge [krinō] another, you condemn [katakrinō] yourself. For you who judge [krinō] practice the same things. 2We know that the judgment [krima] of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3Do you think this, O man who judges [krinō] those who practice such things, and do the same, that you will escape the judgment [krima] of God? 4Or do you despise [kataphroneō] the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance [metanoian]? 5But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart [ametanoēton kardian] you are treasuring up [thēsaurizō]

Would normally refer to storing up precious treasure.

for yourself wrath [orgēn] in the day of wrath [hemera orgēs], revelation, and of the righteous judgment [dikaiokrisias] of God; 6who "will pay back to everyone according to their works:" 7to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory, honour, and incorruptibility, eternal life [zōēn]; 8but to those who are self-seeking [eritheia]

Derived from erithos, 'hireling'. Its meaning tended to be assimilated to that of eris, 'strife' ('faction', 'contention'). The term was used by Aristotle of 'a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means'.

, and don't obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness [adikia], will be wrath [orgē] and indignation, 9oppression [thilpsis] and anguish [stenochōria], on every soul of man who works evil, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek [Hellēnos]. 10But glory, honour, and peace go to every man who works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek [Hellēni]. 11For there is no partiality with God. 12For as many as have sinned without law [anomōs; Heb. Torah] will also perish [apollymi] without the law [anomōs]. As many as have sinned under the law will be judged [krinō] by the law. 13For it isn't the hearers of the law who are righteous [dikaioi] before God, but the doers of the law will be justified [dikaioō] 14(for when Gentiles [ethnē] who don't have the law do by nature [physei] the things of the law, these, not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience [syneidēsis]

A word not current in classical Greek but belonging to the vernacular; it attained literary status only a short time before the beginning of the Christian era. It meant 'consciousness of right or wrong doing', but Paul uses it (and perhaps he was the first to do so) in the sense of an independent witness within, which examines and passes judgement on one's conduct.

testifying with [symmartyreō] them, and their thoughts among themselves accusing or else excusing them) 16in the day when God will judge [krinō] the secrets [krypta] of men, according to my Good News [euangelion], by Jesus Christ. 17Indeed you bear the name of a Jew, and rest on the law, and glory [kauchaomai]

Paul anticipates Jewish objections to what he has written which could run along such lines as these: 'You can't treat us as if we were no different from Gentile outsiders?' 'Haven't we been given the law and circumcision?' 'Have you overlooked the fact that these three privileges (covenant, circumcision and law) are tokens of the greatest privilege of all - being chosen by God to be his special people?' 'Don't these blessings immunize us from God's judgement?'.

in God, 18and know his will [thelēma], and approve the things that are excellent [diapheronta]

Means primarily 'things that differ' and then also 'things that differ from others by surpassing them'. The same phrase appears in Phil 1:10.

, being instructed out of the law, 19and are confident that you yourself are a guide of the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of babies, having in the law the form of knowledge and of the truth. 21You therefore who teach another, don't you teach yourself? You who preach [kērussō] that a man shouldn't steal, do you steal? 22You who say a man shouldn't commit adultery. Do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples [hierosylia]

Reckoned a most heinous crime; in Ac 19:37 Paul and his associates are declared to be not guilty of it in relation to the temple of Artemis at Ephesus. Robbing temples may refer to the misappropriation of funds intended for the temple, since Josephus tells the story of just such a scandal (Josephus, 18:81f), but Paul is more likely to be thinking of pagan temples. Jews recoiled from idolatry in horror. They would not dream of going anywhere near an idol temple - except for the purpose of robbery. A contemporary of Paul's, Rabbi Jochanan ben Zakkai, lamented in his day the increase of murder, adultery, sexual vice, corruption in businesses and the courts, bitter sectarian strife, and other evils.

? 23You who glory [kauchaomai] in the law, through your disobedience of the law do you dishonour God? 24For "the name of God is blasphemed [blasphēmeō] among the Gentiles [ethnesin] because of you," just as it is written. 25For circumcision [peritomē]

The Jews had an almost superstitious confidence in the saving power of their circumcision expressed in rabbinic epigrams which read, for example, 'Circumcised men do not descend into Gehenna,' and 'Circumcision will deliver Israel from Gehenna'. In Mishnah Sanhedrin it is stated that, 'all Israelites have a share in the world to come'. But cf. Jesus' teaching in Mt 21:28ff and John the Baptist before him (Mt 3:7f); also Paul, (Gal 5:3).

indeed profits [ōpheleō], if you are a doer of the law, but if you are a transgressor of the law, your circumcision [peritomē] has become uncircumcision [akrobystia]. 26If therefore the uncircumcised keep the ordinances of the law, won't his uncircumcision be accounted as circumcision? 27Won't the uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfills the law, judge [krinō] you, who with the letter [grammatos] and circumcision are a transgressor of the law [parabatēn nomou]? 28For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly [phanerō]

'In the open' or 'visibly'.

, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh [en sarki]; 29but he is a Jew who is one inwardly [kryptō], and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter [grammati]; whose praise is not from men, but from God.

3 1Then what advantage does the Jew [Ioudaiou]

Here Paul develops the diatribe genre. His imaginary opponent need not be thought of as fictitious, however, since Paul had encountered plenty of Jewish objections to the gospel in his evangelism in the synagogues. Perhaps he is reconstructing real-life arguments which the Jews had flung at him. Or perhaps here Paul the Pharisee and Paul the Christian are in debate with each other, as in Phil 3.

have? Or what is the profit of circumcision? 2Much in every way! Because first of all, they were entrusted [pisteuō] with the oracles [logia] of God. 3For what if some were without faith [hēpistēsan]? Will their lack of faith [apistia] nullify [katargeō] the faithfulness [pistin]

The word play in verses 2 and 3 around the root word for faith could be put as follows: 'If some to whom God's promises were entrusted did not respond to them in trust, will their lack of trust destroy God's trustworthiness?'

of God? 4May it never be [mē genoito]

A violent riposte.

! Yes, let God be found true, but every man a liar. As it is written, "That you might be justified [dikaioō] in your words,and might prevail when you come into judgment [krinō]." 5But if our unrighteousness [adikia] commends the righteousness [dikaiosynēn] of God, what will we say? Is God unrighteous [adikos] who inflicts wrath [orgēn]? I speak like men do. 6May it never be [mē genoito]! For then how will God judge [krinō] the world [kosmon]? 7For if the truth of God through my lie abounded [perisseuō] to his glory, why am I also still judged [krinō] as a sinner? 8Why not (as we are slanderously reported [blasphēmeō], and as some affirm that we say), "Let us do evil [kaka], that good may come?" Those who say so are justly [endikon] condemned [krima]. 9What then? Are we better than they? No, in no way. For we previously warned both Jews and Greeks [Hellēnas], that they are all under sin. 10As it is written, "There is no one righteous [dikaios]; no, not one. 11There is no one who understands [syniēmi]. There is no one who seeks after God. 12They have all turned aside. They have together become unprofitable. There is no one who does good, no, not, so much as one." 13"Their throat is an open tomb. With their tongues they have used deceit." "The poison of vipers is under their lips;" 14"whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness." 15"Their feet are swift to shed blood. 16Destruction and misery are in their ways. 17The way of peace, they haven't known." 18"There is no fear [phobos] of God before their eyes." 19Now we know that whatever things the law [nomos]

i.e., the OT in general.

says, it speaks to those who are under the law [en tō nomō]

Lit. 'within the law'.

, that every mouth may be closed [phragē]

These words evoke the picture of the accused who, given opportunity to speak in defense, is dumbfounded because of the weight of evidence which has been brought against him.

, and all the world [kosmos] may be brought under the judgment of God. 20Because by the works of the law [nomou]

There is debate as to whether works of the law would include not only cultural-ceremonial (rules about circumcision, Sabbath observance, dietary regulations and ritual purity), but also moral (obeying God's commandments). The traditional understanding of 'works of the law' was taken to refer to acts of righteousness and philanthropy that were regarded as earning merit before God. Certainly Paul is opposed to Jewish exclusivism, especially the notion that the Jews' favoured status automatically exempted them from judgment. In any case, salvation by works of the law also tended to bolster pride and privilege; salvation by faith abolished them.

, no flesh [pasa sarx] will be justified [dikaioō] in his sight. For through the law comes the knowledge [epignōsis] of sin. 21But now apart from the law, a righteousness [dikaiosynē] of God has been revealed [phaneroō], being testified [martureō] by the law and the prophets; 22even the righteousness [dikaiosynē] of God through faith [pisteōs] in Jesus Christ to all and on all those who believe [pisteuō]. For there is no distinction, 23for all have sinned, and fall short [hustereō] of the glory [doxa]

Could mean God's approval or praise, which all have forfeited (cf. Jn 12:43) but probably refers to his image or glory in which all were made (cf. 1 Cor 11:7) but which all fail to live up to.

of God; 24being justified [dikaioō]

A legal term borrowed from the law court.

freely [dōrean]

As a gift, gratuitously.

by his grace [chariti] through the redemption [apolytrōsis]

A commercial term borrowed from the marketplace. The redemption or ransom is the buying of a slave out of bondage in order to set him free. In LXX this word and its cognates are frequently used of redemption by one who is under a special obligation because of kinship or some comparable relation to the person redeemed, e.g., Lv 25:47-49. So it referred to the buying back of slaves whose freedom was purchased by ransom money. It was also used metaphorically of the people of Israel who were 'redeemed' from captivity first in Egypt (Ex 15:13) then in Babylon (Is 43:1), cf. Mk 10:45.

that is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God set forth [protithēmi]

'Set forth' or 'display publicly'.

to be an atoning [hilastērion]

The commonest LXX usage is as the equivalent of Hebrew kappōreth (the place where sins are atoned for, or blotted out). There are twenty references in the Pentateuch referring to the golden slab or 'mercy seat' which covered the ark in the holy of holies, and five references in Ezekiel 43:14, 17, 20 which refer to the 'ledge' round the altar of burnt-offering in Ezekiel's temple. The form hilastērion is related to the verb hilaskomai, which in pagan Greek means 'placate' or 'make gracious', but in LXX takes on the meaning of Hebrew kipper ('make atonement') and cognate words, among which is included kappōreth ('mercy-seat'). It is used in connection with the mercy-seat in LXX and in Heb 9:5. However, Jesus was not being compared to a piece of temple furniture by Paul and neither is he simultaneously the victim whose blood was shed and sprinkled and the place where the sprinkling took place. In secular Greek the verb hilaskomai means 'placate' (a god or human). Its object in LXX is not God but sin. It is not to 'propitiate' God but to 'expiate' sin, i.e., to remove guilt or remove defilement, to have the action of a 'disinfectant'. The context here seems to point towards a reference to propitiation though the Christian doctrine of propitiation is totally different from pagan or animistic superstitions. Pagans would say that propitiation was necessary because the gods are bad-tempered, subject to moods and fits, and capricious. The Christian would say that propitiation was necessary because God's holy wrath rests on evil. Pagans believe that since we have offended the gods, we must appease them. The Christian says that we cannot placate the righteous anger of God. Pagans say that to appease the gods we have to bride them with sweets, vegetable offerings, animals and even human sacrifices. The OT and Christian view of propitiation differs in that God himself has made provision for atonement.

sacrifice, through faith [pisteōs] in his blood, for a demonstration [endeiknymai] of his righteousness [dikaiosynēs] through the passing over of prior sins, in God's forbearance; 26to demonstrate [endeiknymai] his righteousness [dikaiosynēs] at this present time; that he might himself be just [dikaioō], and the justifier [dikaion] of him who has faith [pisteōs] in Jesus. 27Where then is the boasting [kauchēsis]

The Jews were immensely proud of their privileged status as the chosen people of God. They imagined that they were heaven's protected favourites (cf. 2:17, 23). But external privileges were not the only object of Jewish boasting, since Jews were also proud of their personal righteousness. Paul bracketed his Jewish inheritance with his individual attainment as that which he put his confidence in until his boasting in Jesus replaced his self-confidence (cf. Phil 3:3ff). Boastfulness was not limited to the Jews either (1:30), for it is the language of fallen self-centredness.

? It is excluded. By what manner of law [nomou]? Of works [ergōn]? No, but by a law of faith [nomou pisteōs]. 28We maintain therefore that a man is justified by faith [dikaioō pistei] apart from the works of the law [ergōn nomou]. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Isn't he the God of Gentiles [ethnōn] also? Yes, of Gentiles [ethnōn] also, 30since indeed there is one God who will justify [dikaioō] the circumcised by faith [pisteōs], and the uncircumcised [akrobystian] through faith [pisteōs]. 31Do we then nullify [katargeō] the law [nomon]

The Mosaic legislation, i.e., the Pentateuch. Sometimes, however, because the word torah was derived from the verb 'to instruct', they extended its meaning to embrace the whole of OT Scripture, conceived as divine instruction.

through faith [pisteōs]? May it never be [mē genoito]! No, we establish [histēmi] the law.

4 1What then will we say that Abraham, our forefather, has found according to the flesh [kata sarka]

'According to the flesh', omitted in NIV. Abraham was Israel's most illustrious patriarch and he is supplemented by David, Israel's most illustrious king, cf. Mt 1:1. There seem to have been two reasons for the choice of Abraham. The first is that he was the founding father of Israel (cf. Is 51:1f) and favoured recipient of God's covenant and promises (e.g., Gn 12:1ff; 15:1ff; 17:1ff). The second reason is that Abraham was held in the highest esteem by the Rabbis as the epitome of righteousness and even the special 'friend' of God (2 Ch 20:7; Is 41:8; Jas 2:23). They took it for granted that he had been justified by works of righteousness (cf. Jubilees 23:10, 'Abraham was perfect in all his dealings with the Lord'). They quoted the Scriptures in which God promised to bless Abraham because he had obeyed him (Gn 22:15ff; 26:2ff), without observing that these verses referred to Abraham's life of obedience after his justification. They even quoted Ge 15:6 in such a way as to represent Abraham's faith as being meritorious, cf. 1 Macc 2:52.

? 2For if Abraham was justified [dikaioō] by works, he has something to boast [kauchaomai] about, but not toward God. 3For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed [pisteuō] God, and it was accounted [logizomai] to him for righteousness [dikaiosynēn]." 4Now to him who works, the reward is not counted [logizomai]

Means 'to credit', 'count' or 'reckon'. When used in a financial or commercial context, it signifies to put something to somebody's account, as when Paul wrote to Philemon about Onesimus (Phm 18). There are, however, two ways in which money can be credited. One is as wages (earned) and the second as a gift (unearned). The verb can be translated 'to impute' in which case the imagery is legal. Whether a financial or a legal context, both mean to 'reckon something as belonging to someone', but in one case this is money, and in the other innocence or guilt.

as grace [charin], but as debt [opheilēma]

'According to debt'.

. 5But to him who doesn't work, but believes [pisteuō] in him who justifies [dikaioō] the ungodly [asebē], his faith [pistis] is accounted [logizomai] for righteousness [dikaiosynēn]. 6Even as David also pronounces blessing [makarismon] on the man to whom God counts [logizomai] righteousness [dikaiosynēn] apart from works, 7"Blessed [makarioi] are they whose iniquities are forgiven,whose sins are covered. 8Blessed [makarios] is the man whom the Lord [kyrios; Heb. Adonai] will by no means charge [logizomai] with sin." 9Is this blessing [makarismos] then pronounced on the circumcised [peritomēn], or on the uncircumcised [akrobystian] also? For we say that faith [pistis] was accounted [logizomai] to Abraham for righteousness [dikaiosynēn]. 10How then was it counted [logizomai]

The Rabbis taught that Abraham submitted to circumcision first and so achieved righteousness. Paul stresses that he was already justified when he was circumcised. His justification is recorded in Ge 15 and his circumcision in Ge 17, and at least fourteen years (even twenty-nine years according to the Rabbis) separated the two events. Abraham's circumcision, though not the ground of his justification, was nonetheless its sign and seal.

? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 11He received the sign [sēmeion] of circumcision [peritomēs], a seal [sphragida] of the righteousness [dikaiosynēs] of the faith [pisteōs] which he had while he was in uncircumcision [akrobystia], that he might be the father of all those who believe [pisteuontōn], though they be in uncircumcision [akrobystias], that righteousness [diaiosynēn] might also be accounted [logizomai] to them. 12The father of circumcision [peritomēs] to those who not only are of the circumcision [peritomēs], but who also walk [stoicheō] in the steps of that faith [pisteōs] of our father Abraham, which he had in uncircumcision [akrobystia]. 13For the promise to Abraham and to his seed [spermati] that he should be heir of the world [kosmou]

In the Genesis text Abraham was promised Canaan (Gn 13:12,14,17 but cf. Gn 12:3; 18:18; 22:18). This promised multiplication of Abraham's descendants led the Rabbis to the conclusion that God would 'cause them to inherit from sea to sea, and from the River unto the utmost part of the earth' (Ecclus. 44:21. See also Jubilees 17:3; 22:14).

wasn't through the law, but through the righteousness [dikaiosynēs] of faith [pistis]. 14For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith [pistis] is made void, and the promise is made of no effect [katargeō]

Lit. 'has been destroyed' or 'rendered ineffective'.

. 15For the law works wrath, for where there is no law, neither is there disobedience [parabasis]

Here, as in 5:13 ('sin is not counted where there is no law'), Paul appears to be enunciating a current legal maxim (like the Roman maxim, 'nulla poena sine lege').

. 16For this cause it is of faith [pisteōs], that it may be according to grace [charin], to the end that the promise may be sure [bebaioō] to all the seed [spermati], not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith [pisteōs] of Abraham, who is the father [pantōn] of us all. 17As it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations [ethnōn]." This is in the presence of him whom he believed [pisteuō]: God, who gives life [zōopoieō] to the dead [nekrous], and calls the things that are not, as though they were. 18Who in hope believed [pisteuō] against hope, to the end that he might become a father of many nations [ethnōn], according to that which had been spoken, "So will your seed [sperma] be." 19Without being weakened in faith [pistei], he didn't consider his own body, already having been worn out [nekroō], (he being about a hundred years old), and the deadness [nekrōsin] of Sarah's womb. 20Yet, looking to the promise of God, he didn't waver [diakrinō]

Or be 'at odds with himself'.

through unbelief [apistia], but grew strong [endynamoō] through faith [pistei], giving glory to God, 21and being fully assured [plērophoreō] that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22Therefore it also was "reckoned [logizomai] to him for righteousness [dikaiosynēn]." 23Now it was not written that it was accounted [logizomai] to him for his sake alone, 24but for our sake also, to whom it will be accounted [logizomai], who believe [pisteuō] in him who raised Jesus, our Lord, from the dead, 25who was delivered up [paradidōmi]

'Delivered up' occurs twice in the LXX version of Is 53 - verses 6 and 12. Cf. 8:32.

for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification [dikaiōsin].

5 1Being therefore justified [dikaioō] by faith [pisteōs], we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; 2through whom we also have our access [prosagōgēn]

Occurs in NT only here and in Eph 2:18 and 3:12. 'Introduction' instead of access here would acknowledge that entry is not by our own initiative but our reliance upon someone to bring us in. The Greek has a slight formality about it and the imagery could be either be of a person being brought into God's sanctuary to worship or into a king's audience chamber to be presented to him.

by faith [pistei] into this grace [charin] in which we stand [histēmi]. We rejoice [kauchaomai] in hope of the glory of God. 3Not only this, but we also rejoice [kauchaomai] in our sufferings [thlipsesin]

Lit. 'pressures' referring in particular to the opposition and persecution of a hostile world. [Thlipsis] was almost a technical term for the suffering which God's people must expect in the last days before the end, cf. Jn 16:33; Ac 14:22.

, knowing that suffering works [katergazomai] perseverance [hypomonēn]; 4and perseverance [hypomonē], proven character [dokimēn]

The quality of a person who has been tested and has passed the test, the veteran as opposed to the raw recruit.

; and proven character [dokimē], hope: 5and hope doesn't disappoint [kataischynō] us, because God's love [agapē] has been poured out [ekcheō]

A metaphor is painted here of a cloudburst on a parched countryside.

into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6For while we were yet weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous [dikaiou] man. Yet perhaps for a righteous [agathou] person someone would even dare to die. 8But God commends [synistemi]

Or 'proves'. For a citizen of Rome, there could be no more unspeakable humiliation than to owe one's life to the favour of another. Cf. Mt 27:54, Lk 23:47.

his own love [agapēn] toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, being now justified [dikaioō] by his blood, we will be saved [sōzō] from God's wrath [orgēs] through him. 10For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved [sōzō] by his life [zōē]. 11Not only so, but we also rejoice [kauchaomai] in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. 12Therefore, as sin entered [eiserchomai] into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to [dierchomai]


all men, because all sinned [pantes hēmarton]

Cf. 3:23. For the use of Adam in the contemporary literature of Judaism, see e.g., 2 Esdras 4:30; 7:118.

. 13For until the law, sin was in the world [kosmō]; but sin is not charged [ellogeō] when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned [basileuō]

As a king rules; to exercise authority.

from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren't like Adam's disobedience, who is a foreshadowing [typos] of him who was to come. 15But the free gift [charisma] isn't like the trespass [paraptōmati]


. For if by the trespass of the one the many [polloi]

In Greek writing polloi is 'exclusive', referring to the many or the majority as opposed to all, whereas in Hebrew and Jewish Greek literature polloi is 'inclusive', meaning 'the many who cannot be counted', 'the great multitude', 'all'.

died, much more did the grace [charis] of God, and the gift [dōrea] by the grace [chariti] of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound [perisseuō] to the many. 16The gift [dōrēma] is not as through one who sinned: for the judgment [krima] came by one to condemnation [katakrima], but the free gift [krima] came of many trespasses to justification [dikaiōma]. 17For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned [basileuō] through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance [perisseian] of grace [charitos] and of the gift [dōreas] of righteousness [dikaiosynēs] reign [basileuō] in life [zōē] through the one, Jesus Christ. 18So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned [katakrima]; even so through one act of righteousness [dikaiōmatos]

Dikaiōma is used in a variety of senses - 'justification' in verse 16, 'decree' in 1:32 (cf. 'precept' in 2:26); 'just requirement' in 8:4.

, all men were justified [dikaiōsin]

Or acquittal. Paul might have repeated dikaiōma used at the end of 5:16 but the use of this word earlier in 5:18 in the sense of 'righteous act' may have moved him to use dikaiōsis here instead.

to life [zōēs]. 19For as through the one man's disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one, many will be made righteous [dikaioi]

Since this was a favourite self-description of devout Jews, Paul may be applying it to 'the many' to reinforce his point that those acquitted will include Gentiles as well.

. 20The law came in besides [paeiserchomai]

Lit. 'came in beside'. Used in Gal 2:4 of the 'false brethren' who 'slipped in' or 'infiltrated' as spies into the apostolic company.

, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace [charis] abounded more exceedingly [hypereperisseusen]

The superlative 'to abound' is not enough for Paul so he doubles it. Whether he is picturing the ample provision of the harvest, or the abundance of rain, or a river bursting its banks, Paul uses the description of Christ's work.

; 21that as sin reigned [basileuō] in death, even so grace [charis] might reign [basileuō] through righteousness [dikaiosynēs] to eternal life [zōēn] through Jesus Christ our Lord.

6 1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace [charis] may abound? 2May it never be [mē genoito]! We who died to sin, how could we live [zaō] in it any longer? 3Or don't you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk [peripateō] in newness of life [zōēs]. 5For if we have become united [symphytoi] with him in the likeness [homoiōma]

Lit. 'with him in the likeness of his death'.

of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection [anastaseōs]; 6knowing this, that our old man [palaios] was crucified with him, that the body of sin [hamartias]

Not the 'sinful body' (RSV), implying that the human body is contaminated or corrupt, as was taught by the Gnostic philosophers.

might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage [douleuein] to sin. 7For he who has died has been freed from [dikaioō]

The tense here means 'has been justified'. There is slight evidence that dikaioō could mean to 'make free or pure'. But if this were the case Paul could have used the term eleutheroō, as in vv18 and 22. In the fifteen occurrences of dikaioō in Romans and in the twenty-five times in the NT, dikaioō always means to 'justify'.

sin. 8But if we died with Christ, we believe [pisteuō] that we will also live with [syzaō] him; 9knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no more has dominion over him! 10For the death that he died, he died to sin one time [ephapax]

This adverb is often applied to Christ's atoning death in the NT; e.g., He 7:27; 9:12,26,28; 10:10; 1 Pe 3:18.

; but the life that he lives [zaō], he lives [zaō] to God. 11Thus consider [logizomai] yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive [zōntas] to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12Therefore don't let sin reign [basileuō] in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13Neither present your members [melē]

Likely to be various limbs or organs (eyes and ears, hands and feet), although probably including our human faculties or capacities.

to sin as instruments [hopla]

A general word for tools, implements or instruments of any kind, though some think sin is personified here as a military commander to whom it would be possible to offer our organs and faculties as 'weapons', cf. 13:12; 2 Cor 6:7; 10:4.

of unrighteousness [adikias], but present [paristēmi] yourselves to God, as alive [zōntas] from the dead, and your members as instruments [hopla] of righteousness [dikaiosynēs] to God. 14For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace [charin]. 15What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but under grace [charin]? May it never be [mē genoito]! 16Don't you know that to whom you present [paristēmi] yourselves as servants [doulous]

There was such a thing as voluntary slavery for people in dire poverty who could offer themselves as slaves to someone in order to be fed and housed. Not all Roman slaves were captured in war or bought in the marketplace. Paul's point is that those who thus offered themselves invariably had their offer accepted. They could not hand themselves over to a slave-master and at the same time hold on to their freedom.

to obedience, his servants [douloi] you are whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness [dikaiosynēn]? 17But thanks [charis] be to God, that, whereas you were bondservants [douloi] of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching [didachēs]

Elsewhere called 'the tradition(s)' - 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thes 2:14; 3:6 - the noun paradosis being from the same root as the verb 'commit' or 'deliver' (paradidōmi).

whereunto you were delivered [paradidōmi]

The regular word for handing on a tradition.

. 18Being made free from sin, you became bondservants [douloō] of righteousness [dikaiosynē]. 19I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh [sarkos], for as you presented [paristēmi] your members as servants [doula] to uncleanness and to wickedness upon wickedness [anomia eis tēn anomian]

Lit. 'lawlessness unto lawlessness'.

, even so now present [paristēmi] your members as servants [doula] to righteousness [dikaiosynē] for sanctification [hagiasmon]. 20For when you were servants [douloi] of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness [dikaiosynē]. 21What fruit [karpon]

Lit. 'fruit'.

then did you have at that time in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22But now, being made free from sin, and having become servants [douloō] of God, you have your fruit [karpon] of sanctification, and the result of eternal life [zōēn]. 23For the wages [opsōnia]

Normally refers to ration (money) paid to a soldier but in this context possibly the pocket money allowed to slaves.

of sin is death, but the free gift [charisma] of God is eternal life [zōē] in Christ Jesus our Lord.

7 1Or don't you know [agnoeō], brothers [adelphoi] (for I speak to men who know the law), that the law has dominion [kyrieuō]

Cf. Mk 10:42, 'lord it over'.

over a man for as long as he lives [zaō]? 2For the woman that has a husband is bound [deō] by law to the husband while he lives [zaō], but if the husband dies, she is discharged [katargeō]

This is a strong verb which can also mean to 'annul' or 'destroy'.

from the law of the husband. 3So then if, while the husband lives, she is joined to another man, she would be called an adulteress [moichalis]

Be publicly known as an adulteress (cf. Mk 10:12).

. But if the husband dies, she is free from [eleuthera] the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she is joined to another man. 4Therefore, my brothers [adelphoi], you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you would be joined to another, to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit [karpophoreō]

Although following a metaphor of marriage and in spite of God's original command to be 'fruitful' (Ge 1:28), other words for 'children' could have been used here. And previously in 6:21f 'fruit' has been used for 'outcome' or 'benefit'.

to God. 5For when we were in the flesh [sarki], the sinful passions which were through the law, worked in our members to bring forth fruit to death. 6But now we have been discharged [katechō] from the law, having died to that in which we were held [katargeō]; so that we serve [douleuein] in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter [grammatos]. 7What shall we say then? Is the law sin? May it never be [mē genoito]! However, I wouldn't have known [ginōskō]

From the early Greek Church Fathers onwards, many commentators have interpreted Paul's experiences as being not only autobiographical but also typical, representative either of human beings in general or of the Jewish people in particular. The options are that 'I' in this paragraph is Paul or Adam or Israel.

sin, except through the law. For I wouldn't have known coveting, unless the law had said, "You shall not covet." 8But sin, finding occasion [aphormēn]

'Opportunity' or 'occasion'. Used of a military base or base of operations for an expedition or the starting point for further advance.

through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of coveting [epithymian]

Internal desires, drives, lusts. It can be broadened to include every kind of forbidden desire.

. For apart from the law, sin is dead. 9I was alive apart from the law once, but when the commandment [entolēs]

At his bar mitzvah when aged thirteen, in which he became a 'son or the commandment' and assumed responsibility for his own behaviour.

came, sin revived, and I died. 10The commandment, which was for life, this I found to be for death; 11for sin, finding occasion through the commandment, deceived [exapataō]

Same verb in 2 Cor 11:3 ('the serpent deceived Eve') and 1 Tim 2:14 ('the woman was deceived'). But the simple verb apataō is used in the LXX of Ge 3:13.

me, and through it killed me. 12Therefore the law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and righteous [dikaia], and good. 13Did then that which is good become death to me? May it never be [mē genoito]! But sin, that it might be shown to be sin, by working death to me through that which is good; that through the commandment sin might become exceeding sinful. 14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly [sarkinos], sold under [pipraskō]

Lit. 'sold under sin'; 'the purchased slave of sin'. The verb was used of selling slaves (e.g., Mt 18:25).

sin. 15For I don't know what I am doing. For I don't practice what I desire to do; but what I hate, that I do. 16But if what I don't desire, that I do, I consent to the law that it is good [kalos]. 17So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me. 18For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh [sarki], dwells [oikeō] no good thing [agathon]. For desire is present with me, but I don't find it doing that which is good [kalon]. 19For the good [agathon] which I desire, I don't do; but the evil [kakon] which I don't desire, that I practice. 20But if what I don't desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in [oikeō] me. 21I find then the law, that, to me [Emoi]

'In me' or 'by me' is repeated in this sentence, drawing out the contrast between the opposing sides. A paraphrase might read, 'When in me there is a desire to do good, then by me evil is close at hand'.

, while I desire to do good [kalon], evil [kakon] is present. 22For I delight in God's law after the inward man [esō anthrōpon], 23but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind [nomō tou noos], and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver [rhuomai] me out of the body of this death [sōmatos tou thanatou]

Cicera, Philo, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius all describe the soul throughout the earthly life as burdened by, or shackled to, a dead body. This was a Roman punishment in which the body of a murdered person was chained to the murderer. The murderer was then released as a castaway to roam but without hope of help from anyone, for they would be deterred by fear of receiving the same punishment.

? 25I thank [charis] God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then with the mind [noi], I myself serve [douloō] God's law, but with the flesh [sarki], the sin's law.

8 1There is therefore now no condemnation [katakrima]

May not mean 'condemnation', but the punishment following sentence, i.e., penal servitude.

to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don't walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life [zōēs] in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. 3For what the law couldn't do, in that it was weak [astheneō] through the flesh [sarkos], God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh [sarkos]

This phrase was doubtless intended to combat false views of the incarnation. That is, the Son came neither 'in the likeness of flesh', only seeming to be human, as the Docetists taught, for his humanity was real (e.g., 1 Jn 4:2; 2 Jn 7); nor 'in sinful flesh', for his humanity was sinless (e.g., 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:26), but 'in the likeness of sinful flesh', because his humanity was both real and sinless simultaneously.

and for sin [peri hamartias]

Lit, 'concerning sin', generally meaning that he came 'for sin' or 'to deal with sin' without referring to how he did so. This was the usual LXX rendering of the Hebrew for 'sin-offering' in Heb 10:6,8 and 13:11. The sin offering was prescribed specially for the atoning of 'unwilling sins', to which Ro 7 specifically refers, v20.

, he condemned [katakrinō]

Here the condemnation and its execution are implied together, whereas in speaking about human judgment, there is normally a clear distinction between the two.

sin in the flesh [sarki]; 4that the ordinance [dikaiōma]

Lit. 'just requirement' (singular), referring to the commandments of the moral law viewed as a whole, which God wants to be 'fulfilled' (i.e., 'obeyed', nor 'satisfied' in his people.

of the law might be fulfilled [plēroō] in us, who walk [peripateō] not after the flesh [sarka], but after the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh [sarka]

Not only our flesh or our bodily instincts and appetites, but the whole of our humanness viewed as corrupt and unredeemed.

set their minds [phronousin] on the things of the flesh [tēs sarkos], but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6For the mind [phronēma] of the flesh [sarkos] is death, but the mind [phronēma] of the Spirit is life [zōē] and peace; 7because the mind of the flesh [phronēma tēs sarkos] is hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God's law, neither indeed can it be. 8Those who are in the flesh [sarki] can't please [areskō] God. 9But you are not in the flesh [sarki] but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in [oikeō] you. But if any man doesn't have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his. 10If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive [zōē] because of righteousness [dikaiosynēn]. 11But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in [oikeō] you, he who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life [zōopoieō]

Not that the spirit is somehow freed from the body as many as many Greeks supposed, but rather that the Spirit would give life to the body.

to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in [enoikeō] you. 12So then, brothers [adelphoi], we are debtors, not to the flesh [sarki], to live [zaō] after the flesh [sarka]. 13For if you live [zaō] after the flesh [sarka], you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death [thanatoō]

This verb normally means to 'kill someone or hand them over to be killed; it refers to the death sentence and its execution, cf. Gal 5:24.

the deeds of the body, you will live [zaō]. 14For as many as are led by [agō]

This verb has many shades of meaning but does not necessarily or normally imply the use of force, cf. Lk 4:1.

the Spirit of God, these are children [hyioi] of God. 15For you didn't receive the spirit of bondage [douloō] again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption [hyiothesias]

In the Roman world of the first century AD an adopted son was a son deliberately chosen by his adoptive father to perpetuate his name and inherit his estate; he was not in the least inferior in status to a naturally born son and might even enjoy the father's affection more fully and reproduce the father's character more worthily.

, by whom we cry [krazō]

Expresses a wide range of meanings from the loud, spontaneous, emotional outbursts to a liturgical acclamation in public worship or to a calling upon God in private devotion. It is used of the shouts of demons in Jesus' presence, hence 'cry out, scream, shriek'. Paul will be thinking of the spontaneous and joyous cry of a child as opposed to the dutiful and servile cry of a slave.

, "Abba [Abba]

Occurs elsewhere in Mk 14:36 and Gal 4:6.

! Father [ho patēr]

The preservation of Aramaic and Greek words for 'father' side by side have led commentators since Augustine to view as a symbol of the inclusion of Jews and Gentiles, cf. Mk 14:36; Gal 4:6. Compared with other prayers in ancient Judaism Jesus' use of this colloquial and familiar term of address to God was unique. Abba was a homely, everyday word. No Jew would have addressed God in this way. Jesus always did, with the one exception in his cry of dereliction from the cross.

!" 16The Spirit himself testifies with [symmartyreō] our spirit that we are children [tekna]

Tekna and hyioi are used interchangeably here. In Gal 3:23-4:7 Paul uses nēpioi (infants) to indicate the status of his readers when they were under the guardianship of the law. 'Children of God' and 'sons of God' are both translations for tekna in the Johannine writings but hyios is reserved for Christ as the Son of God.

No Roman become a citizen by right of birth. It was within the power of every father to reject a newborn child, to order unwanted sons, and especially daughters, to be exposed. Before a baby was even breastfed, his father would first have had to hold him aloft, signalling that the boy had been accepted as his own, and was therefore a Roman. Here Paul outlines a much higher view of sonship.

of God; 17and if children [tekna], then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs [klēronomoi] with Christ; if indeed we suffer with [sympaschomen]

The Holy Spirit confirms and endorses our own spirit's consciousness of God's fatherhood, satisfying the OT requirement of two witnesses to establish a testimony, e.g., Dt 19:15.

him, that we may also be glorified with him. 18For I consider that the sufferings [pathēmata] of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory [doxan] which will be revealed [apokalyptō] toward us. 19For the creation waits with eager expectation [apokaradokia]

Derived from kara, 'head'. It means to 'wait with the head raised, and the eye straining in expectation of that which is to come'. It depicts someone standing on their tiptoes and straining forwards in order to be able to see.

for the children of God to be revealed [apokalyptō]. 20For the creation was subjected to vanity [mataiotēti]

Means emptiness, futility, purposeless, impermanence. It is the word used by the writer of Ecclesiastes for 'vanities', Ec 1:2.

, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage [douleias] of decay [phthoras]

Not just that the universe is being run down but also that it is enslaved in an endless cycle of decline. The OT prophetic vision of the messianic age, especially the Psalms and Isaiah, depict the expectation of the renewal of nature, cf. Ps 102:25ff; Is 65:17ff; cf. 66:22; Is 35:1ff; cf. 32:15ff; Is 11:6ff; cf. 65:25; cf. palingenesia; Mt 19:28; apokatastasis; Ac 3:19, 21 and Paul here and in Eph 1:10; Col 1:20; also John in Rev 21:22; cf. 2 Pet 3:13; Heb 12:26f.

into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation [ktisis] groans [systenazō] and travails [synōdinō]

In Jewish apocalyptic literature Israel's current sufferings were frequently called 'the woes of the Messiah' or 'the birth pangs of the messianic age'. They were seen as the herald of the victorious arrival of the Messiah, cf. Mt 24:8; and Jn 16:20ff.

in pain together until now. 23Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits [aparchē]

i.e. the first instalment or initial down-payment. The firstfruits were the beginning of the harvest and the pledge that the full harvest would follow in due course. Perhaps in Paul's mind was the Feast of Weeks, which celebrated the reaping of the firstfruits, which actually was the same festival (Greek: Pentecost) on which the Spirit had been given. Elsewhere Paul has described this idea using a commercial metaphor, arrabōn, 'instalment, deposit, downpayment, pledge or earnest', which guaranteed the future settlement on a purchase, cf. 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14.

of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan [stenazō] within ourselves, waiting for adoption [hyiothesian], the redemption [apolutrōsin] of our body. 24For we were saved [sōzō] in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees? 25But if we hope for that which we don't see, we wait for it with patience [hypomonēs]

Steadfast endurance in trials. Cf. apekdechomai, 19, 23 and 25 which includes a hint at eagerness.

. 26In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses [astheneia], for we don't know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings [stenagmos] which can't be uttered [alalētos]


. 27He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spirit's mind [phronēma], because he makes intercession for the saints [agiōn] according to God. 28We know that all things work together for good [eis agathon] for those who love [agapōsin] God, to those who are called [kaleō] according to his purpose. 29For whom he foreknew [proginōskō], he also predestined [proorizō]

To decide upon beforehand, cf. Ac 4:28.

to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn [prōtotokon] among many brothers [adelphois]. 30Whom he predestined [proorizō], those he also called [kaleō]. Whom he called [kaleō], those he also justified [dikaioō]. Whom he justified [dikaioō], those he also glorified [doxazō]. 31What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who didn't spare [pheidomai]

Echoes Ge 22:12,15, where God says to Abraham, 'you have not withheld your son'.

his own Son, but delivered him up [paradidōmi] for us all, how would he not also with him freely give [charizomai] us all things? 33Who could bring a charge against God's chosen ones [eklektōn]? It is God who justifies [dikaiōn]. 34Who is he who condemns [katakrinōn]? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love [agapēs] of Christ? Could oppression [thlipsis], or anguish, or persecution [diōgmos]

Paul knew about sufferings, cf. 2 Cor 11:23ff. Perhaps the Roman Christians were having to endure similar trials. Some of them did a few years later, when they were burned as living torches for the sadistic entertainment of the Emperor Nero.

, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36Even as it is written, "For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted [logizomai] as sheep for the slaughter." 37No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors [hypernikōmen] through him who loved [agapaō] us. 38For I am persuaded [peithō], that neither death, nor life [zōē], nor angels, nor principalities [archai]

Elsewhere refers to evil principalities, e.g., Eph 6:12; Col 2:15.

, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth [hypsōma apo bathos]

Height and depth were technical terms in astrology, and later in Gnosticism. Many in the Hellenistic world believed that astrological powers controlled the destiny of humankind.

, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love [agapēs] of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

9 1I tell the truth in Christ. I am not lying [pseudomai], my conscience testifying with [symmarteureō] me in the Holy Spirit, 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing pain in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed [anathema]

Cf. Ex 32:32.

from Christ for my brothers' [adelphōn] sake, my relatives according to the flesh [sarka], 4who are Israelites; whose is the adoption [hyiothesia], the glory [doxa; Heb. Sh'khinah], the covenants [diathēkai], the giving of the law [nomothesia], the service [latreia], and the promises; 5of whom are the fathers, and from whom is Christ as concerning the flesh, who is over all, God, blessed forever. Amen [Amēn]

The absence of punctuation in the original manuscript has given rise to the question of whether these words refer to Christ or God the Father.

. 6But it is not as though the word of God has come to nothing [ekpiptō]

Lit. whether God's promise had 'fallen'.

. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel. 7Neither, because they are Abraham's seed, are they all children. But, "In Isaac will your seed [sperma] be called [kaleō]." 8That is, it is not the children of the flesh [sarkos] who are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted [logizomai] as a seed [sperma]. 9For this is a word of promise, "At the appointed time I will come, and Sarah will have a son." 10Not only so, but Rebecca also conceived by one, by our father Isaac. 11For being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election [eklogēn] might stand [menō], not of works, but of him who calls [kaleō], 12it was said to her, "The elder will serve [douloō] the younger." 13Even as it is written, "Jacob I loved [agapaō], but Esau I hated [miseō]

The antithesis can be understood as a Hebrew idiom for preference, cf. Lk 14:26, Mt 10:37.

." 14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness [adikia] with God? May it never be [mē genoito]! 15For he said to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I caused you to be raised up [exegeirō]

The Hebrew is literally 'I made you stand'. The LXX version of this passage renders 'you were preserved'.

, that I might show in you my power, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth [gē]." 18So then, he has mercy on whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires. 19You will say then to me, "Why does he still find fault? For who withstands his will [boulēmati]?" 20But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against [anapokrinomai] God? Will the thing formed ask him who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?" 21Or hasn't the potter [kerameus]

Cf. OT background to Paul's questions. The village potter at his wheel was a familiar figure in Israel, and his craft was used to illustrate important truths, e.g., Je 18:1ff (not in Paul's mind here); Is 29:16; Is 45:9 (the texts alluded to here).

a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel for honour, and another for dishonour? 22What if God, willing to show his wrath [orgēn], and to make his power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath [orgēs] made for destruction [apōleian], 23and that he might make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory, 24us, whom he also called [kaleō], not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles [ethnōn]? 25As he says also in Hosea, "I will call [kaleō] them 'my people,' which were not my people; and her 'beloved [ēgapēmenēn],' who was not beloved [ēgapēmenēn]." 26"It will be that in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people, 'There they will be called [kaleō]

The background to the Hosea texts was Hosea's marriage to his 'adulterous wife', Gomer, together with their three children whose names symbolized God's judgment on the unfaithful northern kingdom of Israel (Ho 1:6; 9; 2:23). God went on to promise that he would reverse the situation of rejection implicit in the children's names and these are the texts quoted here.

'children of the living God.'" 27Isaiah cries concerning Israel, "If the number of the children of Israel are as the sand of the sea, it is the remnant who will be saved [sōzō]

From the inclusion of the Gentiles Paul turns to the exclusion of the Jews, apart from a remnant. The historical background to the two Isaiah texts is again one of national apostasy in the eighth century BC, although it now relates to the southern kingdom of Judah. The 'sinful nation' has forsaken Yahweh and has been judged through an Assyrian invasion, so that the whole country lies desolate and only a few survivors are left (Is. 1:4ff). God goes on to promise, however, that Assyria will be punished for its arrogance, and that a believing remnant will return to the Lord (Is. 10:12ff). The name of Isaiah's son symbolized this promise (Is 7:3).

; 28for He will finish the work [logon] and cut it short in righteousness, because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth." 29As Isaiah has said before, "Unless the Lord of Armies [Sabaōth; Heb. 'Adonai-Tzva'ot']

Lord of Sabaoth ('hosts', 'armies'). See Jas 5:4.

had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, and would have been made like Gomorrah." 30What shall we say then? That the Gentiles [ethnē], who didn't follow after [diōkō] righteousness [dikaiosynēn], attained [katalambanō]

To 'lay hold' of it, almost with violence.

to righteousness [dikaiosynēs], even the righteousness [dikaiosynēn] which is of faith [pisteōs]; 31but Israel, following after a law of righteousness [diōkō nomon dikaiosynēs], didn't arrive at [phthanō]

Means to 'reach' or 'arrive at'.

the law of righteousness. 32Why? Because they didn't seek it by faith [pisteōs], but as it were by works of the law. They stumbled [proskoptō] over the stumbling stone [lithō tou proskommatos]

Cf. 1 Cor 1:23; Gal 5:11.

; 33even as it is written, "See [idou], I lay in Zion a stumbling stone [proskommatos] and a rock of offence [petran skandalou]; and no one who believes [pisteuōn] in him will be disappointed [kataischynō]

Lit. 'be ashamed'.


10 1Brothers [adelphoi], my heart's desire and my prayer to God is for Israel, that they may be saved [sōzō]. 2For I testify [martureō] about them that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3For being ignorant [agnoeō] of God's righteousness [dikaiosynēn], and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they didn't subject themselves to the righteousness [dikaiosynē] of God. 4For Christ is the fulfilment [telos]

Could mean goal or completion in the sense that the law pointed to Christ and that he fulfilled the law. Or it could mean 'end' in the sense of 'termination' or 'conclusion', indicating that Christ has abrogated the law. Paul must mean the latter.

of the law for righteousness [dikaiosynēn] to everyone who believes [pisteuō]. 5For Moses writes about the righteousness [dikaiosynēn] of the law, "The one who does them will live [zaō] by them." 6But the righteousness which is of faith [pisteōs] says this, "Don't say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' (that is, to bring Christ down); 7or, 'Who will descend into the abyss [abysson; Heb. Sh'ol]?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.)" 8But what does it say? "The word [rhēma] is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart;" that is, the word [rhēma] of faith [pisteōs], which we preach [kēryssō]: 9that if you will confess [homologeō] with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe [pisteuō] in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved [sōzō]. 10For with the heart, one believes [pisteuō] unto righteousness [dikaioō]; and with the mouth confession [homologeō] is made unto salvation [sōtērian]. 11For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes [pisteuō] in him will not be disappointed [kataischynō]." 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek [Hellēnos]; for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich to all who call [epikaleō] on him. 13For, "Whoever will call [epikaleō] on the name of the Lord will be saved [sōzō]." 14How then will they call [epikaleō] on him in whom they have not believed [pisteuō]

This is the only occasion in the letters of Paul on which he uses the term 'believe eis', the regular expression in John's writings for saving faith.

? How will they believe [pisteuō] in him whom they have not heard? How will they hear without a preacher [kēryssō]

To 'herald'. In an age before the mass media of communication, the herald was relied upon to transmit news through public proclamations in the city square or marketplace.

? 15And how will they preach [kēryxōsin] unless they are sent [apostellō]? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News [euaggeliō] of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things [euangelizō ta agatha]!" 16But they didn't all listen to the glad news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed [pisteuō] our report [akoē]?" 17So faith [pistis] comes by hearing [akoēs], and hearing [akoē] by the word [rhēmatos]

'Utterance' or 'preaching'.

of God. 18But I say, didn't they hear? Yes, most certainly, "Their sound [phthoggos]

Lit. 'voice'.

went out into all the earth [gēn], their words [rhēmata] to the ends of the world [oikoumenēs]." 19But I ask, didn't Israel know [ginōskō]? First Moses says, "I will provoke you to jealousy with that which is no nation, with a nation void of understanding [asynetō] I will make you angry." 20Isaiah is very bold, and says, "I was found by those who didn't seek me. I was revealed [emphanēs ginomai] to those who didn't ask for me." 21But as to Israel he says, "All day long I stretched out my hands to a disobedient [apeithounta] and contrary [antilegonta] people."

11 1I ask then, did God reject [apōtheomai] his people? May it never be! [Mē genoito] For I also am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God didn't reject his people, which he foreknew [proginōskō]. Or don't you know what the Scripture says about Elijah? How he pleads with God against Israel: 3"Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have broken down your altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life." 4But how does God answer [chrēmatismos]

Used of a divine response (cf. Mt 2:12, 22; Lk 2:26; Ac 10:22; Heb 8:5; 11:7; 12:25.

him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal [tē Baal]

The feminine form of the definite article precedes the masculine noun Baal. This may reflect a stage in the transmission of the text where the idolatrous name was marked for replacement by the feminine Hebrew noun 'shame'.

." 5Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant [leimma]

Found only here in the NT and in the LXX only in 2 Kings 19:4 referring to the Assyrian invasion in Hezekiah's day.

according to the election [eklogēn] of grace [charitos]. 6And if by grace [chariti], then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace [charis] is no longer grace [charis]. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. 7What then? That which Israel seeks for, that he didn't obtain, but the chosen ones [eklogē] obtained it, and the rest were hardened [pōroō]

'Make hard' or 'render insensitive'.

. 8According as it is written, "God gave them a spirit of stupor [katanyxis]

Lit. 'pricking' or 'stinging' and hence the numbness resulting from certain kinds of sting.

, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, to this very day." 9David says, "Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, a stumbling block [skandalon], and a retribution to them. 10Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see. Bow down their back always." 11I ask then, did they stumble [ptaiō] that they might fall? May it never be [mē genoito]! But by their fall salvation [sōtēria] has come to the Gentiles [ethnesin]

On no fewer than four separate and significant occasions Luke records in Acts how the Jew's rejection of the gospel led to its offer to and acceptance by Gentiles (first, Ac 13:46; second and third, 14:1; 18:6; 19:8f; fourth, 28:28; cf. Jesus' predictions in Mt 8:11f; 21:43.

, to provoke them to jealousy. 12Now if their fall is the riches [ploutos] of the world [kosmou], and their loss the riches of the Gentiles [ethnōn]; how much more their fullness [plērōma]? 13For I speak to you who are Gentiles [ethnesin]. Since then as I am an apostle [apostolos] to Gentiles [ethnōn], I glorify my ministry [diakonian]; 14if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh [sarka], and may save [sōzō] some of them. 15For if the rejection of them is the reconciling of the world [kosmou], what would their acceptance [proslēmpsis] be, but life [zōē]

In Jewish apocalyptic the restoration of Israel was usually associated with the resurrection of the dead, but if this is what Paul meant he could have used anastasis. Cf. 8:11.

from the dead? 16If the first fruit [aparchē] is holy, so is the lump. If the root is holy, so are the branches. 17But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive [agrielaios]

The olive, cultivated in groves or orchards throughout Palestine, was an accepted emblem of Israel, cf. Je 11:16; Ho 14:6, as was the vine, e.g., Ps 80:8ff. The process of grafting which Paul describes here is used to rejuvenate an olive tree which has stopped bearing fruit by grafting it with a shoot of the wild-olive, so that the sap of the tree invigorates the wild-olive and causes it to bear fruit. What is contrary to nature is not the grafting but the belonging. The shoot from the wild-olive is grafted into the cultivated olive to which it does not naturally belong.

, were grafted in among them, and became partaker with them of the root and of the richness of the olive tree; 18don't boast [katakauchaomai]

This was a necessary exhortation for, although the Jews in Rome were tolerated and protected by law from Gentile molestation, they suffered a great deal of Gentile ill-will and occasionally even outbreaks of violence. The Jews were a figure of amusement, contempt and hatred and became unpopular for resisting assimilation to Gentile culture and refusing to abandon or modify their practices.

over the branches. But if you boast, it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you. 19You will say then, "Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in." 20True; by their unbelief [apistia] they were broken off, and you stand [histēmi] by your faith [pistei]. Don't be conceited [hypsēla phronei], but fear [phobeō]; 21for if God didn't spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22See then the goodness [chrēstotēta] and severity of God. Toward those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness [chrēstotēti], if you continue [epimenō] in his goodness [chrēstotēti]; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23They also, if they don't continue [epimenō] in their unbelief [apistia], will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut out of that which is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? 25For I don't desire you to be ignorant [agnoeō], brothers [adelphoi], of this mystery [mystērion], so that you won't be wise [phroneō] in your own conceits [heautois]

Lit. 'in yourselves wise'.

, that a partial hardening [pōrōsis] has happened to Israel, until the fullness [plērōma]

Or full complement, as in v12.

of the Gentiles [ethnōn] has come in, 26and so all Israel will be saved [sōzō]. Even as it is written, "There will come out of Zion the Deliverer, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob. 27This is my covenant [diathēkē] to them, when I will take away their sins." 28Concerning the Good News [euangelion], they are enemies for your sake. But concerning the election [eklogēn], they are beloved [agapētoi] for the fathers' sake. 29For the gifts [charismata] and the calling [klēsis] of God are irrevocable. 30For as you in time past were disobedient [apeitheia] to God, but now have obtained mercy by their disobedience [apeitheia], 31even so these also have now been disobedient [apeitheia], that by the mercy shown to you they may also obtain mercy. 32For God has shut up [sygkleiō]

Disobedience is likened to a dungeon in which God has incarcerated all human beings, so that their escape is not possible unless God's mercy releases them.

all men [tous pantas]

Lit. 'the all', namely the two groups contrasted throughout the chapter, but especially in verses 28 and 31, the Jews and the Gentiles.

all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all [tous pantas]. 33Oh the depth of the riches [ploutou] both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable [anexeraunēta] are his judgments [krimata], and his ways past tracing out! 34"For who has known the mind [noun] of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor [symboulos]?" 35"Or who has first given to him, and it will be repaid to him again?" 36For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. To him be the glory [doxa] for ever! Amen [Amēn].

12 1Therefore I urge [parakaleō] you, brothers [adelphoi], by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [sōmata]

Paul's Greek readers, brought up on Platonic thought, will have regarded the body as an embarrassing encumbrance. Their slogan was soma sēma estin ('the body is a tomb'), in which the human spirit was imprisoned and from which they longed for its escape.

a living [zōsan] sacrifice, holy, acceptable [euareston] to God, which is your spiritual [logikēn]

'Reasonable', 'intelligent' or 'rational'. Epictetus, the first-century Stoic philosopher used this word in an often quoted passage: 'If I were a nightingale, I would do what is proper to a nightingale, and if I were a swan, what is proper to a swan. In fact I am logikos (sc. a rational being), so I must praise God' (Discourses I.16.20f).

service [latreian]. 2Don't be conformed [syschēmatizō]

The word for 'form' in this verb is schēma, 'conform'.

to this world [aiōni]

Lit. 'this age'.

, but be transformed [metamorphoō]

Same verb for 'transfigured' (Mt 17:1-2 and Mark 9:2; cf. Mk 9:9). The only other place in the NT is 2 Cor 3:18. Its root for form is morphē, 'inward substance'. The two verbs containing a different word for 'form' were often used interchangeably.

by the renewing [anakainōsei] of your mind [noos], so that you may prove [dokimazein] what is the good [agathon], well-pleasing [euareston], and perfect [teleion] will [thelēma] of God. 3For I say, through the grace [charitos] that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably [sōphroneō], as God has apportioned to each person a measure [metron]

The question has been debated whether 'measure' refers to the instrument for measuring or the amount of something that is measured.

of faith [pisteōs]. 4For even as we have many members in one body, and all the members don't have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6Having gifts [charismata] differing according to the grace [charin] that was given to us, if prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith [pisteōs]; 7or service [diakonean]

A generic word for a wide variety of ministries. Cf. Ac 6:1ff where the ministry of the Word by the apostles and the ministry of tables by the seven are both called diakonia.

, let us give ourselves to service [diakoneō]; or he who teaches, to his teaching; 8or he who exhorts [parakalōn], to his exhorting [parakaleō]

This verb has a wide spectrum of meanings, from encouraging and exhorting to comforting, conciliating or consoling. It may be exercised through preaching, writing, or counselling.

: he who gives, let him do it with liberality; he who rules [proïstēmi]

'Takes the lead.' In NT usage normally refers to leadership in the home (e.g., 1 Tim 3:4f., 12) or in the church (e.g., 1 Thess 5:12; 1 Tim 5:17) but can also mean to 'care for' or 'give aid'.

, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness [hilarotēti]. 9Let love [agapē] be without hypocrisy [anypokritos]

Lit. 'without hypocrisy'. The hypokritēs was the play-actor.

. Abhor [apostygeō]

Only occurrence in NT. Expresses an aversion, abhorrence or loathing.

that which is evil [poneron]. Cling to [kollaō]

Sticking or bonding as if with glue.

that which is good [agathō]. 10In love of the brothers [philadelophia]

The love between brothers and sisters. Both philostorgoi and philadephia were applied originally to blood relationships in the human family.

be tenderly affectionate [philostorgoi]

Describes our natural affection for relatives, typically the love of a parent for their child.

one to another; in honour preferring one another; 11not lagging [oknēroi]

Lit. 'be lazy'; do not flag.

in diligence [spoudē]; fervent in spirit; serving [douloō] the Lord; 12rejoicing [chairō] in hope; enduring [hypomenō] in troubles [thlopsei]; continuing steadfastly [proskartereō] in prayer; 13contributing to [koinōneō]

Can mean to share in people's needs and sufferings, but also can mean to share out our resources with people in need. Koinōnokos means generous, cf. Ac 2:42ff.

the needs of the saints [agiōn]; given to [diōkō]


hospitality [philoxenian]

'Love of strangers'. Hospitality was especially important in those days, since inns were few and far between, and those that existed were often unsafe or unsavoury places. It was essential, therefore, for Christian people to open their homes to travellers, and in particular for local church leaders to do so (1 Tim 3:2; Tit 1:8). Origen commented: 'We are not just to receive the stranger when he comes to us, but actually to enquire after, and look carefully for, strangers, to pursue them (cf. diōkō) and search them out everywhere, lest perchance somewhere they may sit in the streets or lie without a roof over their heads' (Origen, Commentary on Romans).

. 14Bless [eulogeō] those who persecute [diōkō] you; bless [eulogeō], and don't curse. 15Rejoice [chairō] with those who rejoice [chairontōn]. Weep with those who weep. 16Be of the same mind one toward another [allēlous]

Lit., 'the same thing toward one another minding', 'think the same thing towards one another,' hence, 'in agreement,' 'of one mind'.

. Don't set your mind on high things [hypsēla phroneō], but associate with the humble. Don't be wise in your own conceits [phronimoi par' 'eautois]

Lit. 'Wise in yourselves'.

. 17Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honourable in the sight of all men. 18If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. 19Don't seek revenge yourselves, beloved [agapētoi], but give place to God's wrath [orgē]

The Greek does not specify whose wrath is in mind, leading some commentators to think that it was either the evildoer's or the injured party's. However the context makes it clear that the reference is to God's wrath, cf. 5:9.

. For it is written, "Vengeance [ekdikēsis]

'Punishment', cf. 19a.

belongs to me; I will repay [antapodidōmi], says the Lord." 20Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire [pyros]

Arguing from Ps 11:6; 140:10; cf. Esdras 16:53 some have taken coals here as a symbol of judgment. But the context (cf. v21) veers against this interpretation. Others suggest that burning coals are a metaphor of being rebuked by kindness. Or perhaps coals are a symbol of penitence. An ancient Egyptian ritual involved a penitent carrying burning coals on his head as evidence of the reality of his repentance.

on his head." 21Don't be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

13 1Let every soul [psychē] be in subjection [hypotassō] to the higher authorities [exousia]

There is discussion whether the 'governing authorities' are angelic powers, or human powers, or both. The plural of exousia is freely used by Paul to speak of angelic powers (cf. 8:38; Eph 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:10, 15). Compare 1 Cor 2:8; 'rulers (archontes) of this age' where Paul appears to have more than human agents in view. When Paul was writing there were no Christian authorities. The authorities were Roman or Jewish and unfriendly or hostile to the church. Paul inherited a long-standing tradition from the OT that Yahweh is sovereign over human kingdoms (e.g., Dn 4:17, 25, 32; Pr 8:15f). Suetonius (Life of Claudius 25.4) mentioned that 'constant disturbances' 'at the instigation of Chrestus' led the Emperor Claudius to order 'all the Jews to leave Rome' (Ac 18:2). Perhaps Paul is responding here to these disturbances. Perhaps the Roman Christians had regarded submission to Rome as incompatible with the lordship of Christ or their freedom in Christ, although this is merely speculative.

, for there is no authority except from God, and those who exist are ordained by God. 2Therefore he who resists [antitassō] the authority [exousia], withstands [antitassō] the ordinance of God [theou diatagē]; and those who withstand will receive to themselves judgment [krima]. 3For rulers are not a terror [phobos] to the good work [agathō], but to the evil [kakō]. Do you desire to have no fear [phoeomai] of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise [apainon]

From the fifth century BC to the second century AD there was a long-established tradition evidenced from inscriptions and literary sources that guaranteed benefactors public praise and appropriate rewards.

from the same, 4for he is a servant [diakonos] of God to you for good [agathon]. But if you do that which is evil [kakon], be afraid [phobeō], for he doesn't bear [phoreō] the sword [machairan]

Since this word occurs earlier in the letter to indicate death (8:35) and is used of execution (e.g., in Ac 12:2; Rev 13:10) Paul must mean it here as a symbol of capital punishment. The higher magistrates were in the habit of carrying the sword or having one placed before them as a sign of the power of life and death which they held in their hands.

in vain; for he is a servant [diakonos] of God, an avenger for wrath [orgēn] to him who does evil [kakon]. 5Therefore you need to be in subjection [hypotassō], not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience' sake. 6For this reason you also pay taxes [phorous]

'Tribute.' Taxation was widespread and varied in the ancient world, including a poll tax, land taxes, royalties on farm produce, and duty on imports and exports. Paul regarded this topic as coming under the rubric of the ministry of the state.

, for they are servants [leitourgoi]

See 15:16. This word in the NT and early Christian literature is used particularly of religious service and sometimes of priestly service, as in Heb 8:2. Compare v17, 'my work for God' (ta pros ton theon) with Heb 2:17, where the same phrase is rendered 'in the service of God' with special reference to Christ's high-priesthood. So although leitourgoi usually means 'priests' it can also mean 'public servants'.

of God's service, attending continually on this very thing [auto touto]

Lit. 'to this very thing'.

. 7Give [apodidōmi]

'Give back' as in 'render' to Caesar (Mk 12:17).

therefore to everyone what you owe: taxes to whom taxes are due; customs to whom customs; respect [phobon] to whom respect [phobon]; honour to whom honour. 8Owe no one anything, except to love [agapaō] one another; for he who loves [agapaō] his neighbour [eteron] has fulfilled [plēroō] the law. 9For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not give false testimony," "You shall not covet," and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love [agapaō] your neighbour as yourself." 10Love [agapē] doesn't harm [kakon] a neighbour. Love [agapē] therefore is the fulfilment [plērōma]

This word has a wide range of meanings and is translated 'full inclusion' in 11:12, 'full number' in 11:25, 'fullness' in 15:29.

of the law. 11Do this, knowing the time [kairos]

The existential moment of opportunity and decision.

, that it is already time [hōra] for you to awaken out of sleep, for salvation [sōtēria] is now nearer to us than when we first believed [piteuō]. 12The night is far gone [prokoptō]

Lit. 'is well advanced'.

, and the day is near. Let's therefore throw off [apotithēmi] the works of darkness, and let's put on the armour [hopla] of light. 13Let us walk [peripateō] properly, as in the day; not in revelling and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and lustful acts, and not in strife and jealousy. 14But put on [enduō]

A literary parallel to this use of 'put on' is quoted from Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Anitquities 11:5, where 'to put on Tarquin' means to play the part of Tarquin.

the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, for its lusts [sarkos].

14 1Now accept [proslambanō]

Paul's response to the weak is not to ignore or reproach them, nor even to correct them, but to receive them into fellowship. Proslambanō means more than accepting people in the sense of acquiescing in their existence or their right to belong; it means more than even receiving others into your home or circle of friends. It means to welcome them into your heart, implying the warmth and kindness of genuine love, cf. Phm 17; Ac 28:2; Jn 14:3.

one who is weak [asthenounta]

There are four suggestions as to the identity of the weak. Firstly, they were ex-idolaters, recently converted from paganism, the same group addressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 8. Their over-scrupulous conscience forbade them to eat meat which, before being sold by the local butcher, had been used in sacrifice to an idol. They feared that eating idol-meats (eidōlothyta) would compromise and contaminate them. Secondly, they were religious ascetics, a well documented group in antiquity whose ideas and practices could have infiltrated into the Roman church, leading them to abstain from meat and wine (14:21). Ascetic movements existed in paganism (e.g., the Pythagoreans) and in Judaism (e.g., the Essenes). Thirdly, they were legalists and struggled to grasp the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, not by vegetarianism, sabbatarianism, or teetotalism. However, compare Paul's rebuke of this group in Galatia (1:8f). Would he have been so mild towards those of a similar outlook in Rome? The fourth possible identification of the weak is that they were for the most part Jewish Christians, whose weakness consisted in their continuing conscientious commitment to Jewish regulations regarding diet and days. As for diet, they will have kept the OT food laws (cf. 14:14, 20). In addition, either they will have assured themselves that their meat was kosher (the animal having been slaughtered in the prescribed way) or, because of the difficulty of guaranteeing this, they may have abstained from meat altogether. As for special days, they will have observed both the Sabbath and the Jewish festivals. All this fits a Jewish Christian context. Paul defines the weak as immature, untaught, and actually mistaken.

in faith [pistei]

Here meaning conviction.

, but not for disputes [diakrinō]

Can mean discussions, debates, quarrels or judgments.

over opinions [dialogismōn]

Can mean opinions, scruples or the restless to-ing and fro-ing of conscience; 'reasonings'. The sixteenth-century Reformers called such things adiaphora, 'matters of indifference', whether (as here) they were customs and ceremonies, or secondary beliefs which are not part of the gospel or the creed.

. 2One man has faith [pisteuei] to eat all things, but he who is weak [asthenōn] eats only vegetables. 3Don't let him who eats despise [exoutheneō] him who doesn't eat. Don't let him who doesn't eat judge [krinetō] him who eats, for God has accepted [proselabeto] him. 4Who are you who judge [krinō] another's servant [oiketēn]

Household slave.

? To his own lord he stands or falls. Yes, he will be made to stand, for God has power to make him stand. 5One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured [plērophoreō] in his own mind. 6He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks [eucharisteō]. He who doesn't eat, to the Lord he doesn't eat, and gives God thanks [eucharisteō]. 7For none of us lives to himself, and none dies to himself. 8For if we live, we live to the Lord. Or if we die, we die to the Lord. If therefore we live or die, we are the Lord's. 9For to this end Christ died, rose, and lived again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10But you, why do you judge [krinō] your brother [adelphon]? Or you again, why do you despise [exoutheneō] your brother [adelphon]? For we will all stand before the judgment seat [bēmati]

The bēma is the judgement seat or tribunal (see 2 Cor 5:10).

of Christ. 11For it is written, "'As I live,' says the Lord, 'to me every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess to God.'" 12So then each one of us will give account [logon] of himself to God. 13Therefore let's not judge [krinō] one another any more, but judge [krinate]

'Make this judgment.' This second use of the verb krinein creates a play on the word judgment.

this rather, that no man put a stumbling block [proskomma] in his brother's [adelphō] way, or an occasion for falling [skandalon]. 14I know, and am persuaded [oida kai peithō] in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean [koinon]


of itself; except that to him who considers [logizomai] anything to be unclean [koinon], to him it is unclean [koinon]. 15Yet if because of food your brother [adelphos] is grieved, you walk [peripateō] no longer in love [agapēn]. Don't destroy [apollymi]

Has a broad spectrum of senses which range from 'killing' to 'spoiling'. Here the opposite is to 'build up' (19f; 15:2).

with your food him for whom Christ died. 16Then don't let your good [agathon] be slandered [blasphēmeisthō], 17for the Kingdom of God [basileiaz tou theou] is not eating and drinking, but righteousness [dikaiosynē], peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18For he who serves [douloō] Christ in these things is acceptable [euarestos] to God and approved by men. 19So then, let us follow after [diōkō]

Lit. 'Let us them pursue'.

things which make for peace, and things by which we may build one another up [oikodomēs]. 20Don't overthrow [kataluō]

Means to 'tear down' or 'throw down', particularly in relation to buildings.

God's work for food's sake. All things indeed are clean [kithara]


, however it is evil [kakon] for that man who creates a stumbling block [proskoptō] by eating. 21It is good [kalos] to not eat meat, drink wine, nor do anything by which your brother [adelphos] stumbles [proskoptō], is offended [skandalizō], or is made weak. 22Do you have faith [pisteuō]? Have it to yourself before God. Happy [makarios] is he who doesn't judge [krinō] himself in that which he approves [dokimazō]. 23But he who doubts [diakrinō] is condemned [katakrinō] if he eats, because it isn't of faith [pisteōs]; and whatever is not of faith [pisteōs] is sin.

24Now to him who is able [dynamai] to establish [stērizō]

Almost a technical term for nurturing new converts and strengthening young churches (cf. e.g., Ac 14:21f; 15:41; 18:23; Ro 1:11; 1 Cor 1:8; 2 Cor 1:21; Col 2:7; 1 Thes 3:2, 13; 2 Thes 2:17; 3:7).

you according to [kata] my Good News [euangelion] and the preaching [kērygma] of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery [apokalyptō mystēriou] which has been kept secret through long ages, 25but now is revealed [phaneroō], and by the Scriptures of the prophets [graphōn prophētikōn]

The Hebrew Bible consisted of the 1) Law (Torah), 2) Prophets (Neviim), and 3) Holy Writings (Ketuvim).

, according to the commandment of the eternal God, is made known for obedience of faith [pisteuō] to all the nations [ethnē]; 26to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory [doxa] forever! Amen [Amēn]

MMS evidence suggests that two editions of Romans were in circulation, a longer and a shorter one. Origen wrote that Marcion, the second-century heretic, on account of his hostility to the OT and Judaism, was responsible for the shorter edition which omitted the last two chapters. Others suggest that both editions were authorized by Paul, one with and one without the list of greetings. However, the themes of the longer ending and the introduction to the letter interweave beautifully.


15 1Now we who are strong [dynatoi] ought to bear [bastazō]

Like the English verb 'bear', can mean either to 'endure' in the sense of 'tolerate', or to 'carry' and 'support'.

the weaknesses [asthenēmata] of the weak [adynatōn], and not to please [areskō] ourselves. 2Let each one of us please [areskō] his neighbour for that which is good [agathon], to be building him up [oikodomeō]. 3For even Christ didn't please [areskō] himself. But, as it is written, "The reproaches [oneidismoi] of those who reproached [oneidizō] you fell on me." 4For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that through patience [upomonēs] and through encouragement [paraklēseōs] of the Scriptures [graphōn] we might have hope. 5Now the God of patience [hypomonēs] and of encouragement [paraklēseōs] grant you to be of the same mind [auto phronein] one with another according to Christ Jesus, 6that with one accord [ homothymadon]


The Roman character had a strong streak of snobbery: effectively, citizens preferred to vote for families with strong brand recognition, electing son after father after grandfather to the great magistracies of state.

Divisions of class and status were deep rooted in the myths of the city's very origin. On the far side of Rome's southernmost valley stretched the Aventine Hill. This was where immigrants would end up. Facing the Aventine rose a second hill, the Palatine, the most exclusive of Rome's seven hills, above the valleys where the air was fresher and less pestilential. Incongruously on this hill of the city's elite stood a shepherd's hut made of reeds which were always replaced when they fell away, so the hut remained. This was the childhood home of Romulus, Rome's first king, and Remus, his twin. According to the legend, both brothers had wanted to found a city but could not agree where. Romulus stood on the Palatine, Remus on the Aventine and both waited for a sign from the gods. Romulus saw more vultures than Remus and made this his proof. Remus contested but was murdered by his brother when it came to settling the score by force. Evermore the Palatine stood for winning and the Aventine for losing. However the class system became ever more permeable over the years. Privileges of birth guaranteed nothing in Rome and at every social level the life of a citizen was a gruelling struggle to emulate - and, if possible, surpass - the achievements of his ancestors.

you may with one mouth [heni stomati] glorify [doxazō] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7Therefore accept [proslambanomai] one another, even as Christ also accepted [proselabeto] you, to the glory [doxan] of God. 8Now I say that Christ has been made a servant [diakonos]

Compare Mk 10:45, Lk 22:27.

of the circumcision [peritomēs] for the truth of God, that he might confirm the promises given to the fathers, 9and that the Gentiles [ethnē] might glorify [doxazō] God for his mercy. As it is written [graphō]

For each of the OT quotations Paul uses the LXX text, and he chooses one from the Law, one from the Prophets and two from the Writings, which are the three divisions of the Hebrew Bible.

, "Therefore will I give praise [exhomologeō] to you among the Gentiles [ethnesin], and sing to your name." 10Again he says, "Rejoice [euphrainō], you Gentiles [ethnē], with his people." 11Again, "Praise [aineō] the Lord, all you Gentiles [ethnē]! Let all the peoples praise [epaineō] him." 12Again, Isaiah says, "There will be the root of Jesse, he who arises to rule over the Gentiles [ethnōn]; in him the Gentiles [ethnē] will hope." 13Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [pisteuō], that you may abound [perisseuō] in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit. 14I myself am also persuaded [peithō] about you, my brothers [adelphoi], that you yourselves are full of goodness [agathōsynēs]

Goodness or kindness.

, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish others. 15But I write the more boldly to you in part, as reminding you, because of the grace [charin] that was given to me by God, 16that I should be a servant [leitourgos]

Cf. 13:6. In the NT the word always denotes religious service, and sometimes priestly service, as when Christ is described in Heb 8:2 as 'a minister (leitourgos) in the sanctuary and the true tent'. Compare also v17, 'my work for God' (ta pros ton theon) with Heb 2:17, where the same phrase is rendered 'in the service of God' with special reference to Christ's high-priesthood.

of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles [ethnōn], serving as a priest [hierourgeō]

Means to serve as a priest, hiereus, especially in relation to the temple sacrifices.

the Good News [euangelion] of God, that the offering up [prosphora]

This word continues the imagery of temple worship. The Gentiles were rigorously excluded from the temple in Jerusalem, and were on no account permitted to share in the offering of its sacrifices. Paul, a Diaspora Jew, views his missionary work as a priestly ministry in presenting Gentiles as 'an offering acceptable to God' in fulfillment of Is 66:20. Less than a year from now he may have recalled his priestly ministry to Gentiles when he was falsely accused of bringing one into the temple area (Ac 21:27f).

of the Gentiles [ethnōn] might be made acceptable [euprosdektos]

This word is used of sacrifices, e.g., 1 Pet 2:5.

, sanctified [hagiazō]

Used of consecrating sacrifices. This is the fifth word in this context which has priestly and sacrificial associations.

by the Holy Spirit. 17I have therefore my boasting [kauchaomai] in Christ Jesus in things pertaining to God. 18For I will not dare to speak of any things except those which Christ worked through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles [ethnōn], by word and deed, 19in the power of signs [sēmeiōn] and wonders, in the power of God's Spirit; so that from Jerusalem [Hierousalēm]

Although the first missionary journey was launched from Antioch (Ac 13:1f), the Christian mission itself began in Jerusalem (Lk 24:47; Ac 1:8; cf. Is 2:13) and after Paul's own conversion and commissioning he preached in Jerusalem (Ac 9:26f).

, and around [kyklō]

'In a circle' or 'circuit'. This is Paul's succinct and modest summary of ten years of strenuous apostolic labour, including his three heroic missionary journeys.

as far as to Illyricum [Illyrikou]

Situated on the western, Adriatic seaboard of Macedonia, it corresponds approximately to Albania and the southern part of former Yugoslavia today. Perhaps Paul was here in between his leaving Ephesus and his embarking for Jerusalem, a gap of around two years in the Acts narrative (20:1ff). While in Macedonia at that time he may well have walked west along the Egnatian Way from Thessalonica, at least to the borders of Illyricum.

, I have fully [plēroō]

Paul's strategy was to evangelise the populous and influential cities, plant churches there, and then leave to others the radiation of the gospel into the surrounding villages.

preached the Good News [euangelizō] of Christ; 20yes, making it my aim to preach the Good News [euangelizō], not where Christ was already named [onomazō], that I might not build on another's foundation. 21But, as it is written, "They will see, to whom no news of him came. They who haven't heard will understand [syniēmi]." 22Therefore also I was hindered these many times from coming to you, 23but now, no longer having any place in these regions, and having these many years a longing to come to you, 24whenever I journey to Spain [Spanian]

If he were to make all these journeys by ship, the first would be at least 800 miles, the second 1,500, and the third 700, making a minimum total of 3,000 miles, and many more if he were to travel some of the way by land rather than sea. Considering the uncertainties and hazards of ancient travel, Paul's travel plans are quite extraordinary.

, I will come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way [propempō]

This verb seems already to have become almost a technical Christian term for helping missionaries on their way. It often involved supplying them with provisions and money (cf. Tit 3:13; 3 Jn:6f), and sometimes providing them as well with an escort to accompany them at least part of the way (e.g., Ac 20:38; 21:5). It meant helping someone on their way with food, money, by arranging for companions or setting in place means of travel.

there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. 25But now, I say, I am going to Jerusalem, serving [diakonōn] the saints [agiois]. 26For it has been the good pleasure [eudokeō] of Macedonia [Makedonia] and Achaia [Achaia] to make a certain contribution [koinōnian]

Lit. a 'common share' in anything but here in contributing to Paul's collection. Paul saw great significance in the idea of this freewill offering project, as seen by the disproportionate amount of space which he devoted to it in his letters (Rom 15:25ff; 1 Cor 16:1ff; and specially 2 Cor 8-9), and partly from the passionate zeal with which he promoted it, and partly from his astonishing decision to add nearly 2,000 miles to his journey, in order to present the offering himself. Instead of sailing directly west from Corinth to Rome to Spain, he has made up his mind to travel first in entirely the wrong direction, that is, to go to Rome via Jerusalem!.

for the poor [ptōchoi]


Those living in Rome were acquainted with poverty. The city of Rome was endlessly being rebuilt, torn down and rebuilt again. Shanties sprouted like weeds from the rubble left by fires. Streets were always filling with market stalls or squatters' shacks. Apartment blocks, jerry-built and rickety, reached for the sky to create high-rise slums. Tenants were crammed into tiny, thin-walled rooms stacked six storeys or more until invariably the building would collapse, only to be rebuilt higher than before. The Latin for such apartments was insulae, 'islands'. These slums lacked the sewerage and piped water of which the Romans boasted.

The poor would not have the dignity of a tomb beside the Appian Way. Instead their carcasses would be tossed with all the other refuse into giant pits beyond the easternmost city gate, the Esquiline. Travellers approaching Rome by this route would see bones littering the sides of the road. It was a cursed and dreadful spot.

The suffering of the urban poor was all the more terrible because, by depriving them of the solaces of community, it denied them everything that made a Roman what he was. The loneliness of life on the top floor of an apartment block represented the antithesis of all that a citizen most prized. To be cut off from the rituals and rhythms of society was to sink to the level of a barbarian.

Cf. Gal 2:10 which has the same word as here. The designation in its Hebrew form survived among those Jewish Christians of later date who were known as Ebionites.

among the saints [agiōn] who are at Jerusalem. 27Yes, it has been their good pleasure [eudokeō], and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles [ethnē] have been made partakers [ koinōneō]

Christian inheritance from Judaism

The Christians took from Judaism the Pentateuch (including its morals and ethics), the prophets and the wisdom books, and far more of the Apocrypha then the Jews themselves were prepared to canonise. They took for liturgy, for even the Eucharist had Jewish roots. They took the notion of the Sabbath day and feast days, incense and burning lamps, Psalms, hymns and choral music, vestments and prayers, priests and martyrs, the reading of the sacred books and the institution of the synagogue ( transformed into the church). They took even the notion of clerical authority - which the Jews would soon modify - in the shape of the high priest whom the Christians turned into patriarchs and popes. There is nothing in the early Church, other than its Christology, which was not adumbrated in Judaism. Cf. also 3:2 and 9:5.

of their spiritual things [pneumatikois], they owe it to them also to serve [leitourgeō]

The contribution in 2 Cor 9:12 is called a leitourgia (service).

them in fleshly things [sarkikois]. 28When therefore I have accomplished this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will go on by way of you to Spain [Spanian]

Two years previously Paul told the Corinthians of his hopes to 'preach the gospel in the regions beyond you' (2 Cor 10:16), perhaps having his eyes on Spain. For centuries before Christ the seafaring Phoenicians from Tyre and Sidon had engaged in commerce with Spain, their 'ships of Tarshish' being perhaps so called because they plied trade with Tartessus (cf. 1 Ki 10:22). The Phoenicians also established colonies there. By the time of the Emperor Augustus the Empire had extended to the whole Iberian peninsula and was organized in three provinces, with many flourishing Roman colonies. Perhaps Paul envisaged going beyond Spain to the edges of the Empire, to Gaul, Germany, and even Britain. The only evidence that Paul ever reached and evangelized Spain is given in the statement by Clement of Rome in his first letter to the Corinthians (c.AD 96-97) about Paul's 'noble renown' as a herald of the gospel: 'To the whole world he taught righteousness, and reaching the limits of the West he bore his witness before rulers' (1 Clement 5:7). It may be that Paul was released from his confinement in Rome, in which the Acts leaves him, and that he resumed his missionary travels, including a visit to Spain, before being re-arrested, imprisoned and finally beheaded during the Neronian persecution.

. 29I know that, when I come to you, I will come in the fullness [plērōmati] of the blessing [eulogias]

Used of the Gentiles' contribution in 2 Cor 9:5.

of the Good News [euangeliou] of Christ. 30Now I beg [parakaleō] you, brothers [adelphoi], by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love [agapēs] of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 31that I may be delivered [rhuomai] from those who are disobedient [apeithountōn] in Judea, and that my service [diakonia] which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable [euprosdektos]

Paul realizes that it may be difficult for the Jewish Christian community to accept the offering, not in regard to it placing them in debt to the Gentile Christians, but in another way. In accepting the gift from Paul, Jewish Christian leaders would be seen to endorse Paul's gospel and his seeming disregard of Jewish law and traditions. Yet if his offering were to be rejected, this could cause the rift between Jewish and Gentile Christians to widen irrevocably. So asks prayer and longs that Jewish-Gentile solidarity in the body of Christ may be strengthened by the Jewish Christians' acceptance of its tangible symbol.

to the saints [agiois]; 32that I may come to you in joy through the will [thelēmatos]

What happened to Paul's three prayers? Concerning the offering, it is likely that it was accepted although Luke surprisingly does not tell us in the Acts narrative. This is in spite of the fact that he knew about it by accompanying Paul to Jerusalem and even mentioned the gift in connection with Paul's trial before Felix (Ac 24:17). Was Paul delivered from unbelievers in Jerusalem? No, in that he was arrested, tried and imprisoned, but yes, in that he was rescued from lynching on three occasions (Ac 21:30f; 22:22f; 23:10), once from flogging (Ac 22:25f) and once from an assassination attempt (Ac 23:12f). Paul's third prayer that he would reach Rome was answered, as Jesus promised (Ac 23:11), though not as he would have expected, for he arrived about three years later, as a prisoner, and after an almost fatal shipwreck.

of God, and together with you, find rest. 33Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen [Amēn].

16 1I commend [synistēmi] to you Phoebe [Phoibēn]

It seems likely that Phoebe was entrusted with the responsible task of carrying Paul's letter to its destination in Rome, although other business was apparently taking her to the city as well, perhaps commerce or quite possibly a law suit (cf. 1 Cor 6:1, where pragma (2) is used of a lawsuit). What she carried was to her a 'letter of commendation' introducing her to the Christians in Rome. Such letters were common in the ancient world, and necessary to protect people from charlatans (cf. NT references e.g., Ac 18:27; 2 Cor 3:1).

, our sister [adelphēn], who is a servant [diakonon]

Means 'minister', although an embryonic office of 'deacon' existed.

of the assembly [ekklēsias] that is at Cenchreae [Kegchreais]

This was Corinth's eastern port at the head of the Saronic Gulf.

, 2that you receive [prosdechomai] her in the Lord, in a way worthy of the saints [agiōn], and that you assist her in whatever matter she may need from you, for she herself also has been a helper [prostates]

'Patroness'. Prostatis is related to the participle pristamenos, 'he who gives aid' (12:8). It can mean 'patroness' or 'benefactress'. Phoebe was a woman of means, who had used her wealth to support the church and the apostle.

of many, and of my own self. 3Greet Prisca [Priskan]

The Roman Christians were diverse in race, rank and gender. Some bore typical slaves' names, others were freed people, and some had links with people of distinction. Paul sends greetings to twenty-six individuals, adding in most cases a personal reference. Nine of the twenty-six are women. Some have wondered how the apostle could know so many so well in a church he had never visited but travel was more frequent in those days than many realize. Aquila and Priscilla, both Jewish Christians, are a case in point. NT references to them tell us that Aquila came from Ponus on the southern shore of the Black Sea, that he and Priscilla lived in Italy until the Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome in AD 49, that they then moved to Corinth where Paul met them and stayed with them, and that they travelled with him to Ephesus, which is perhaps where they 'risked their lives' for him (v4). Probably after Claudius' death in AD 54 they returned to Rome, which is where they received Paul's greeting (cf. Ac 18:1f, 18, 26; 1 Cor 16:19). Perhaps a number of other Jewish and Jewish-Christian refugees from Rome met Paul during their exile and returned to Rome after Claudius' edict had been rescinded. In this verse and in three other NT verses Priscilla is named in front of her husband (Ac 18:18, 26; 2 Tim 4:19).

and Aquila [Akylan], my fellow workers [synergous] in Christ Jesus, 4who for my life, laid down their own necks; to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the assemblies [ekklēsiai] of the Gentiles [ethnōn]. 5Greet the assembly [ekklēsian] that is in their house [oikon]. Greet Epaenetus [Epaineton], my beloved [agapēton], who is the first fruits [aparchē] of Achaia [Asias] to Christ. 6Greet Mary, who laboured [kopiaō]

Implies strong exertion and is not applied to anyone else on the list besides four women (cf. verse 12).

much for us. 7Greet Andronicus [Andronikon] and Junias [Iounian]

Probably female since Iounian (the accusative of Junias) for a masculine name is unknown elsewhere. They are quite likely are Jewish married couple.

, my relatives [syngeneis]

Less likely to mean Paul's relatives than his 'kinsfolk', meaning 'those of his own race', or 'fellow countrymen', as in 9:3.

and my fellow prisoners, who are notable among the apostles [apostolois]

Or 'were outstanding missionaries'. Cf. use of the term apostle in 2 Cor 8:23; Phil 2:25; Ac 13:1ff; 14:4; cf. 1 Thess 2:6.

, who also were in Christ before me. 8Greet Amplias [Ampliaton]

The name is common in Roman inscriptions of the period, and has been found as the name belonging to members of the imperial household. A branch of the 'gens Aurelia' bore this cognomen. Christian members of this branch of the family are buried in the Cemetery of Comitilla on the Via Ardeatina, one of the oldest Christian burying-places in Rome, the beginnings of which go back to the end of the first century. One tomb in the cemetery, decorated with paintings in a very early style, bears the inscription AMPLIAT in uncials of the late first or early second century. Inscriptions indicate that Ampliatus was also a common name for slaves, as were the names Urbanus (9), Hermes (14), Philologus and Julia (15).

, my beloved [agapaō] in the Lord. 9Greet Urbanus [Ourbanon]

'Belonging to the urbs' or 'city' (i.e., Rome).

, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys [Stachyn]

Meaning 'ear' (of grain). Uncommon. One or two occurrences are in association with the imperial household.

, my beloved. 10Greet Apelles [Apellēs]

Common enough among the Jews of Rome for Horace to use it as a typical Jewish name: 'credat Iudaeus Apella' (Satire 1.5.100.).

, the approved [dokimazō] in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulys [tous ek tōn Aristoboulou]

Commentators consider it quite likely that Aristobulus was the grandson of Herod the Great and friend of the Emperor Claudius.

. 11Greet Herodion [Hrōdiōna], my kinsman [syngenē]. Greet them of the household of Narcissus [tous ek tōn Narkissou]

This could have been none other than the well-known, rich and powerful freedman who exercised great influence on Claudius. It is possible that Aristobulus and Narcissus were by now deceased but the households of these celebrities lived on, together with their Christian membership (cf. Phil 4:22, where reference to believers in the imperial household would refer to some of those listed here).

, who are in the Lord. 12Greet Tryphaena [Tryphainan] and Tryphosa [Tryphōsan]

Both names have Anatolian associations: Tryphaena appears in the apocryphal second-century Acts of Paul (chapters 27-43). They may have been twin sisters.

, who labour [kopiaō] in the Lord. Greet Persis [Persida]

Meaning Persion woman.

, the beloved [agapētēn], who laboured [polla kopiaō] much in the Lord. 13Greet Rufus [Rhouphon]

Means 'red', 'red-haired', a word of Italic rather than Latin origin. This may well have been the son of Simon of Cyrene, who carried Jesus' cross to Golgotha. Mark, whose gospel was written in or for Rome, is the only evangelist who mentions that Simon's sons were Alexander and Rufus, and he does it in such a way as to imply that they were already well known to his readers in Rome (Mk 15:21).

, the chosen [eklekton] in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14Greet Asyncritus [Asygkriton], Phlegon [Phlegonta], Hermes [Hermēn]

The name of the god of good luck and common as a slave-name.

, Patrobas [Patroban]

Abbrev. from Patrobius and the name of a wealthy freedman of Nero.

, Hermas [Herman]

Abbrev. from Hermagoras, Hermodorus or Hermogenes; a common name.

, and the brothers [adelphous] who are with them. 15Greet Philologus [Philologon] and Julia [Ioulian], Nereus [Nērea] and his sister [adelphēn]

Possibly Julia and Nereus' sister.

, and Olympas [Olympan]

Short for Olympiodorus.

, and Olympas, and all the saints [agious] who are with them. 16Greet one another with a holy kiss [philēmati]

The kiss was not only used among men as a token of friendship and homage to a superior, but in the synagogues was connected with divine worship. It not only showed love and equality but was used as a greeting and came to signify acceptance and an imparting of blessing. The apostles Paul and Peter both insisted on this greeting (1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Thess 5:26; 1 Pet 5:14), and the Church Fathers took it up. Justin Martyr wrote that 'on finishing the prayers we greet each other with a kiss' (Apology I.65), and Tertullian seems to have been the first to call it a 'kiss of peace' (On Prayer, 14).

. The assemblies [ekklēsiai] of Christ greet you. 17Now I beg [parakaleō] you, brothers [adelphoi], look out [skopeō] for those who are causing the divisions [dichostasias]

Included among the works of the flesh in Gal 5:20.

and occasions of stumbling [skandala], contrary to the doctrine [didachē] which you learned, and turn away from them. 18For those who are such don't serve [douloō] our Lord, Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and flattering speech, they deceive the hearts of the innocent [akokōn]. 19For your obedience has become known to all. I rejoice [chairō] therefore over you. But I desire to have you wise in that which is good [agathon], but innocent [akeraious] in that which is evil [kakon]. 20And the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace [charis] of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 21Timothy [Timotheos]

If anybody deserved to be called Paul's 'fellow-worker', that person was Timothy. For the last eight years Timothy had been Paul's constant travelling companion and had undertaken several special missions at Paul's request. The apostle led Timothy to faith in Christ and regarded him as his son in the faith, e.g., 1 Cor 4:17. He was now in Corinth, about to set sail for Jerusalem with the offering from the Greek churches (Ac 20:4).

, my fellow worker [synergos], greets you, as do Lucius [Loukios]

Although there is nothing to link Lucius with the 'Lucius of Cyrene' who was in Antioch with Paul ten years previously (Ac 13:1), it is tempting to identify him as Luke the evangelist, since we know that he was in Corinth at the time (cf. 'we' in Ac 20:5f).

, Jason [Iasōn]

Possibly Paul's Jewish landlord in Thessalonica (Ac 17:5f).

, and Sosipater [Sōsipatros]

Perhaps the Berean church's delegate to Jerusalem whose name was abbreviated to Sopater (Ac 20:4), for he too was in Corinth at the time.

, my relatives. 22I, Tertius [Tertios]

Paul's scribe writes his own greeting.

, who write the letter [epistolēn], greet you in the Lord. 23Gaius [Gaïos]

Although a common name, it is natural to identify this Gaïos with the Corinthian whom Paul had baptized (1 Cor 1:14). It has been suggested that his full Roman name was Gaius Titius Justus, owner of the large house next to the synagogue into which Paul had been welcomed after the Jews rejected his gospel (Ac 18:7). This would explain why Paul is his house guest again and why the church would meet in his home.

, my host and host of the whole assembly [ekklēsias], greets you. Erastus [Erastos], the treasurer of the city [oikonomos]

Perhaps 'clerk of works' rather than city treasurer. A responsible local government official. Perhaps he was the aedile, the magistrate in charge of public works, whose name is still clearly legible in a first-century Latin inscription on a marble pavement close to the ruins of old Corinth. Other NT references describe an Erastus who was one of Paul's itinerant helpers (Ac 19:22) and one who stayed in Corinth (2 Tim 4:20).

, greets you, as does Quartus [Kouartos], the brother [adelphos]. 24The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all! Amen [amēn].

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