1Paul, a loving and loyal servant # 1:1 The Greek word doulos signifies more than a servant; it is one who has chosen to serve a master out of love, bound with cords so strong that it could only be severed by death. of the Anointed One, # 1:1 “The Anointed One” is the best English translation of the Greek word Christou. Christ is not Jesus’ last name; it is a title for the Hebrew Messiah. Jesus. He called me to be his apostle # 1:1 Or “his called apostle.” Paul was a servant before he was an apostle. and set me apart # 1:1 Or “permanently separated.” There is an interesting wordplay here. The Aramaic word for “separated” is the root word for “Pharisee,” a separated one. Paul is saying that God is the one who separated him as uniquely God’s, as opposed to a self-righteous superiority. See also Gal. 1:15. with a mission to reveal God’s wonderful gospel. 7I write to all his beloved chosen ones in Rome, for you are also called as holy ones. # 1:1 This verse, although found in v. 7, has been placed here in Paul’s introduction for purposes of clarity. Verses 1–7 form the longest prescript in any ancient writing, including any of Paul’s letters. May his joyous grace and total well-being, flowing from our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, rest upon you.
2My commission is to preach the good news. Yet it is not entirely new, but the fulfillment of the hope promised to us through his prophets in the sacred Scriptures. # 1:2 This would include the types, shadows, and prophecies of the entire Old Testament. Paul quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures (the Tanakh) more than eighty times in Romans. 3For the gospel is all about God’s Son. As a man he descended from David’s royal lineage, # 1:3 Or “the seed of David.” Jesus was the “seed of the woman” in Gen. 3:15, the “seed of Abraham” in Gal. 3:16, and here in Rom. 1, the “seed of David.” See also Acts 13:16–41. 4but as the mighty Son of God he was raised from the dead and miraculously set apart # 1:4 Or “marked [appointed] as God’s Son immersed in power.” The Greek word for “set apart” comes from horizo, meaning “the horizon.” It means “to mark out the boundaries,” “to decree,” or “to define.” The horizon we move toward is Jesus! with a display of triumphant power supplied by the Spirit of Holiness. # 1:4 Or “the Holy Spirit.” And now Jesus is our Lord and our Messiah. 5Through him grace cascaded into us, empowering us with the gift of apostleship, # 1:5 Note that grace comes before service or ministry. This is likely a hendiadys: “We received the grace-gift of apostleship.” See also 1 Cor. 15:9–10; Eph. 4:7–13. so that we can win people from every nation into the obedience that comes from faith, # 1:5 The Greek text is ambiguous and can mean “the obedience to the faith” or “the obedience that springs from faith” or “the obedience that faith produces.” To obey the gospel is simply to believe it! to bring honor to his name. 6And you are among the chosen ones who are called to belong to Jesus, the Anointed One. # 1:6 Verse 7 has been merged into the text of verse 1 to enhance clarity.
Paul’s Desire to Visit Rome
8I give thanks to God for all of you, # 1:8 It was Paul’s constant habit to thank God for any grace he found within any believer. because the testimony of your faith is spreading throughout the world. 9And God knows that I pray for you continually and at all times. For I serve and worship him with my spirit in the gospel of his Son. # 1:9 The wonderful revelation of the gospel is a theme in Romans. It is God’s gospel (1:1), the gospel of his Son (1:9), and twice Paul calls it “my gospel” (2:16, 16:25).
10My desire and constant prayer is that I would succeed in coming to you, according to the plan and timing of God. # 1:10 Or “as God prospers me along the path of his will.” 11I yearn to come and be face-to-face with you and get to know you. For I long to impart to you # 1:11 Or “share with you.” some spiritual gift # 1:11 See also Rom. 15:29. that will empower you to stand strong in your faith. 12Now, this means that when we come together and are side by side, something wonderful will be released. We can expect to be co-encouraged and co-comforted by each other’s faith!
13So, my dear brothers and sisters, please don’t interpret my failure to visit you as indifference, because many times I’ve intended to come but have not been released # 1:13 Or “have been hindered” (due to missionary work). There is no implication that the devil hindered Paul from coming, but rather, the missionary work of ministering in Turkey (Asia Minor) hindered him. to do so up to now. For I long to enjoy a harvest of spiritual fruit # 1:13 This “fruit” would imply both converts and bringing the believers into maturity. among you, like I have experienced among the nations. 14Love obligates me to preach to everyone, to those who are among the elite and those who are among the outcasts, # 1:14 Or “to the Greek speakers and to the barbarians.” By implication, Paul is obligated by love to preach to the cultured Greek speakers and to those who are uncultured foreigners. to those who are wise and educated as well as to those who are foolish and unlearned. 15This is why I am so excited # 1:15 Or “To my very uttermost I am eager.” about coming to preach the wonderful message of Jesus # 1:15 Or “good news” (or “gospel”) or “message of goodness” (well-being). The gospel is good news for the lost, but it is also good news for the believer! Our striving to please God is over; now we rest in the full and complete salvation Jesus has freely given to us. to you in Rome!
The Gospel of Power
16I refuse to be ashamed of the wonderful message of God’s liberating power unleashed in us through Christ! For I am thrilled to preach that everyone who believes is saved—the Jew first, # 1:16 Salvation comes to us through the Jewish people in our Lord Jesus Christ. The promised salvation message came historically to the Jew first, but by priority and privilege our obligation of love continues to bring the sweet message of Yeshua’s grace to our Jewish friends. and then people everywhere! 17This gospel unveils a continual revelation of God’s righteousness—a perfect righteousness given to us when we believe. And it moves us from receiving life through faith, to the power of living by faith. # 1:17 Ancient expositors taught that we move from what we once believed in to believing in God alone for righteousness. For the Jew it means moving from faith in Torah and doing well to a faith in the works of Yeshua, the Living Torah, who alone brings us into salvation’s power. For those in any religion, it means moving from an impotent faith into the explosive faith of the gospel of Christ. This is what the Scripture means when it says:
“We are right with God through life-giving faith!” # 1:17 Or “It is through faith that the righteous enter into life” (salvation). See Hab. 2:4.
God Reveals His Wrath
18For God in heaven unveils his holy anger # 1:18 Or “wrath.” God’s wrath is his action in punishing evil, a holy disapproval of all that is seen as wicked in the eyes of his holiness. In this first chapter, both righteousness and wrath are revealed. Righteousness is revealed in the gospel, but wrath is revealed as an activity God takes to uphold his glory. breaking forth against every form of sin, both toward ungodliness that lives in hearts and evil actions. For the wickedness of humanity deliberately smothers the truth and keeps people from acknowledging the truth about God. 19In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, # 1:19 Or “The knowability of God is manifest in them.” for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart. 20Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance, # 1:20 Implied by the immediate context and by the use of the conjunction because. This form of ellipsis needs to be supplied for the sake of clarity. because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities # 1:20 The Aramaic can be translated “his holy attributes.” of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived, # 1:20 Or “lies plainly before their eyes.” The literal Greek is “being intellectually apprehended by reflection.” for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. # 1:20 That is, what the eye sees becomes revelation to the conscience. See Ps. 19:1–4. So then, this leaves everyone without excuse.
21Throughout human history # 1:21 This phrase is implied by the use of the Greek aorist verb tense and is important for clarity as Paul continues to describe the brokenness of fallen humanity. the fingerprints of God were upon them, # 1:21 Or “They instinctively knew (there was a) God.” yet they refused to honor him as God or even be thankful for his kindness. Instead, they entertained corrupt and foolish thoughts about what God was like. # 1:21 Or “they became futile in their reasoning.” This left them with nothing but misguided hearts, steeped in moral darkness. 22Although claiming to be wise, they were in fact shallow fools. # 1:22 The Aramaic can be translated “they became insane.” 23For only a fool would trade the unfading splendor of the immortal God to worship the fading image of other humans, idols made to look like people, animals, birds, and even creeping reptiles!
24This is why God lifted off his restraining hand and let them have full expression of their sinful and shameful desires. They were given over to moral depravity, dishonoring their bodies by sexual perversion among themselves—25all because they traded the truth of God for a lie. # 1:25 An obvious metonymy, equating an idol with “a lie.” See 2 Thess. 2:11. They worshiped and served the things God made rather than the God who made all things—glory and praises to him forever and ever! Amen!
26-27For this reason God gave them over to their own disgraceful and vile passions. # 1:26–27 The Aramaic can be translated “disgraceful diseases.” Enflamed with lust for one another, men and women ignored the natural order and exchanged normal sexual relations for homosexuality. Women engaged in lesbian conduct, and men committed shameful acts with men, # 1:26–27 See Lev. 18:22. receiving in themselves the due penalty for their deviation. # 1:26–27 Some see an inference here to sexually transmitted diseases.
28And because they thought it was worthless to embrace the true knowledge of God, God gave them over # 1:28 This is the third time that it states, “God gave them over.” See vv. 24, 26–27, and here in v. 28. to a worthless mind-set, to break all rules of proper conduct. 29Their sinful lives became full of every kind of evil, # 1:29 There are twenty-two Greek nouns and adjectives used for evil listed in vv. 29–32. Injustice (selfishness), destructiveness, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, guile, hostility, slander (the hissing sound of a snake charmer), gossip, hateful to God, insolent, arrogant, disobedient to parents, without moral understanding, without faith, without natural affections, hostilities, without mercy. wicked schemes, # 1:29 The Aramaic and some Greek manuscripts have “immorality.” greed, # 1:29 Or “unrestrained selfishness.” and cruelty. Their hearts overflowed with jealous cravings, and with conflict and strife, which drove them into hateful arguments and murder. They are deceitful liars full of hostility. They are gossips 30who love to spread malicious slander. With inflated egos they hurl hateful insults at God, yet they are nothing more than arrogant boasters. They are rebels against their parents and totally immoral. 31They are senseless, faithless, # 1:31 Or “covenant-breakers.” ruthless, heartless, and completely merciless. # 1:31 The Aramaic can be translated “They have no stability in themselves, neither love, nor peace, nor compassion.” 32Although they are fully aware of God’s laws and proper order, and knowing that those who do all of these things deserve to die, yet they still go headlong into darkness, encouraging others to do the same and applauding them when they do!
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