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Perhaps some readers will not think it superfluous, if I give a short draught of St. Paul's management of himself here, for allaying the sourness of the Jews against the Gentiles, and their offence at the Gospel, for allowing any of them place among the people of God, under the Messias.
After he had declared that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, to those who believe, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile, and that the way of this salvation is revealed to be by the righteousness of God, which is by faith; he tells them, that the wrath of God is also now revealed against all atheism, polytheism, idolatry, and vice whatsoever, of men holding the truth in unrighteousness, because they might come to the knowledge of the true God, by the visible works of the creation; so that the Gentiles were without excuse, for turning from the true God to idolatry, and the worship of false gods, whereby their hearts were darkened, so that they were without God in the world. Wherefore, God gave them
up to vile affections, and all manner of vices, in which state, though, by the light of nature, they know what was right, yet understanding not that such things were worthy of death, they not only do them themselves, but, abstaining from censure, live fairly and in fellowship with those that do them. Whereupon he tells the Jews that thev are more inexcusable than the heathen, in that they judge, abhor, and have in aversion the Gentiles, for what they themselves do with greater provocation. Their censure and judgment in the case is unjust and wrong; but the judgment of God is always right and just, which will certainly overtake those who judge others for the same things they do themselves, and do not consider that God's forbearance to them ought to bring them to repentance. For God will render to every one according to his deeds: to those that in meekness and patience continue in well-doing, everlasting life; but to those who are censorious, proud, and contentious, and will not obey the Gospel, condemnation and wrath at the day of judgment, whether they be Jews or Gentiles; for God puts no difference between them. Thou, that art a Jew, boastest that God is thy God; that he has enlightened thee by the law that he himself gave thee from heaven, and hath, by that immediate revelation, taught thee what things are excellent, and tend to life, and what are evil, and have death annexed to them. If, therefore, thou transgressest, dost not thou more dishonour God and provoke him, than a poor heathen, that knows not God, nor that the things he doth deserve death, which is their reward? Shall not he, if, by the light of nature, he do what is conformable to the revealed law of God, judge thee, who hast received that law from God by revelation, and breakest it? Shall not this, rather than circumcision, make him an Israelite ? For he is not a Jew, i. e. one of God's people, who is one outwardly, by circumcision of the flesh ; but he that is one inwardly, by the circumcision of the heart.
16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power
of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth ; to the Jew first,
and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith :
as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, against all ungodliness
and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.
PARAPHRASE. 16 For I am not ashamed to preach the Gospel of Christ, even
at Rome itself, that mistress of the world : for, whatever it may be thought of there“, by that vain and haughty people, it is that wherein God exerts himself, and shows his powerb,
for the salvation of those who believe, of the Jews in the 17 first place, and also of the Gentiles. For therein is the
righteousness", which is of the free grace of God, through
Jesus Christ, revealed to be wholly by faith, as it is written, 18 The just shall live by faith. And it is no more than need, that
the Gospel, wherein the righteousness of God, by faith in Jesus Christ, is revealed, should be preached to you Gentiles, since the wrath of God is now revealed from heaven, hy
NOTES. 16 a Vid. ver. 22, and 1 Cor. i. 21.
6 Vid. Eph. i. 19. c“ First." The Jews had the first offers of the Gospel, and were always considered as those, who were first regarded in it. Vid. Luke xxiv. 47. Matth. x. 6,
and xv. 24. Acts xiij. 46, and xvii. 2. 17 d Arxouosúvn D800, “the righteousness of God,” called so, because it is a righteous
ness of his contrivance, and his bestowing. It is God that justifieth, chap. iii. 21-24, 26, 30, and viii. 33. Of which St. Paul speaks thus, Phil. iii. 9, “ Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” e“ From faith to faith." The design of St. Paul here being to show, that neither Jews nor Gentiles could, by works, attain to righteousness, i. e. such a perfect and complete obedience, whereby they could be justified, which he calls, “their own righteousness," ch. X. 3. He here tells them, that in the Gospel the righteousness of God, i. e. the righteousness, of which he is the author, and which he accepts, in the way of his own appointment, is revealed from faith to faith, i, e. to be all through, from one end to the other, founded in faith. If this be not the sense of this phrase here, it will be hard to make the following words, as it is written, The just shall live by faith, cohere: but thus they have an easy and natural connexion, viz, whoever are justified either before, without, or under the law of Moses, or under the Gospel, are justified, not by works, but by faith alone. Vid. Gal. iii. 11, which clears this interpretation. The same figure of speaking St. Paul uses in other places, to the same purpose ; ch. vi. 19, “ Servants to iniquity unto iniquity;" i. e. wholly to iniquity; 2 Cor. iii. 18,
“From glory to glory," i. e. wholly glorious. 18 f« Now revealed.” Vid. Acts xvii. 30, 31, “God now commandeth all men, every where, to repent, because he hath appointed a day, in which he will judge VOL, VIII.
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for
God hath showed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are
clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal
power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse : 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God,
Jesus Christ, against all ungodliness & and unrighteousness
of men", who live not up to the light that God has given 19 themBecause God, in a clear manifestation of himself
amongst them, has laid before them, ever since the creation of 20 the world, his divine nature and eternal power; So that what
is to be known, of his invisible being, might be clearly discovered and understood from the visible beauty, order, and operations, observable in the constitution and parts of the universe, by all those that would cast their regards, and apply their
mindsk that way; insomuch that they are utterly without ex21 cuse: For that, when the Deity was so plainly discovered to
them, yet they glorified him not, as was suitable to the excellency of his divine nature : nor did they, with due thankful
NOTES. beat the world in righteousness, by the man whom he hath ordained." These
words of St. Paul to the Atheniaus, give light to these here to the Romans. A life again after death, and a day of judgment, wherein men should be all brought to receive sentence, according to what they had done, and be punished for their wisdeeds, was what was before upknown, and was brought to light by the revelation of the Gospel from heaven, 2 Tim. i. 10. Matth. xiii. 40, &c. Luke xiii. 27, and Rom. ii. 5, he calls the day of judgment the day of wrath, consonant to his saying here, the wrath of God is revealed. s'Acélsidr, "ungodliness," seems to comprehend the atheism, polytheism, and idolatry of the heathen world, as ádıxlar, “unrighteousness," their other miscarriages and vicious lives, according to which they are distinctly threatened by St. Paul, in the following verses. The same appropriation of these words, I think, may be observed in other parts of this epistle. b“Of men,” i. e. of all men, or as in the xviith of Acts, before cited, “all men, every where," i. e. all men of all nations : before it was only to the children of Israel, that obedience and transgression were declared and proposed, as ternis of life and death. i “Who hold the truth in unrighteousness," i. e. who are not wholly without the truth, but yet do not follow what they have of it, but live contrary to that truth they do know, or neglect to know what they might. This is evident from the next words, and for the same reason of God's wrath, given, chap. ii. 8, in
these words, “ who do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness." 20 \ St. Paul says, yoghueva xabopātai, if they are minded, they are seen : the invisible
things of God lie within the reach and discovery of men's reason and understand. ings, but yet they must exercise their faculties and employ their minds about them.
TEXT. neither were thankful ; but became vain in their imaginations, and
their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image,
made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts,
and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts
of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves; 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served
the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause
unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature :
PARAPHRASE. ness, acknowledge him as the author of their being, and the giver of all the good they enjoyed : but, following the vain fancies of their own vain minds, set up to themselves fictitious
no-gods, and their foolish understandings were darkened : 22 Assuming to themselves the opinion and name of being wise, 23 they became fools ; And, quitting the incomprehensible
majesty and glory of the eternal, incorruptible Deity, set up to
themselves the images of corruptible men, birds, beasts, and 24 insects, as fit objects of their adoration and worship. Where
fore, they having forsaken God, he also left them to the lusts of their own hearts, and that uncleanness their darkened hearts
led them into, to dishonour their bodies among themselves : 25 Who so much debased themselves, as to change the true God,
who made them, for a lien of their own making, worshipping and serving the creature, and things even of a lower rank
than themselves, more than the Creator, who is God over all, 26 blessed for evermore. Amen. (For this cause God gave
them up to shameful and infamous lusts and passions : for even
NOTES. 21 ''Epałacúbricar en tors Badoyooucīs aütūr, “became vain in their imaginations,"
or reasonings. What it is to become vain, in the Scripture-language, one may see in these words, “and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen, and made to themselves molten images, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal,” 2 Kings xvii. 15, 16. And accordingly the forsaking of idolatry, and the worship of false gods, is called by St. Paul
" turning from vanity to the living God," Acts xiv. 15. 22 m ploxovtss divas opol, "professing themselves to be wise;" though the nations
of the heathen generally thought themselves wise, in the religion they embraced ; yet the apostle here, having all along in this and the following chapter used Greeks for Gentiles, he may be thought to have an eye to the Greeks, among whom the men of study and inquiry had assumed to themselves the name of copol,
wise. 25 * The false and fictitious gods of the heathen are rery fitly called, in the Scripture, “lies," Amos ii. 4. Jer. xvi, 19, 20.
TEXT. 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman,
burned in their lust one toward another ; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense
of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,
God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient ;
PARAPHRASE. their women did change their natural use, into that which is 27 against nature: And likewise their men, leaving also the
natural use of the women, burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men practising that which is shameful, and
receiving in themselves a fit reward of their error, i.e. idolatryo). 28 And P, as they did not search out 9 God, whom they had in the
world, so as to have him with a due acknowledgment of him, God gave them up to an unsearching and unjudicious mind, to do things incongruous, and not meet' to be done;
NOTES. 27 “ Error," so idolatry is called, 2 Pet. ii. 18. As they, against the light of
nature, debased and dishonoured God by their idolatry, it was a just and fit recompense they received, in being left to debase and dishonour themselves by un
natural lusts. 28 P“ And.” This copulative joins this verse to the 25th, so that the apostle will
be better understood, if all between be looked on as a parenthesis, this being a continuation of what he was there saying, or rather a repetition of it in short, which led him into the thread of his discourse. 9 Ουκ εδοκίμασαν, “ did not like," rather did not try, or search ; for the Greek word signifies to search, and find out by searching: so St. Paul often oses it, chap. ii. 18, and xii. 2, compared, and xiv. 22. Eph. v. 10. T'Ey énryrúbal, with acknowledgment. That the Gentiles were not wholly without the knowledge of God in the world, St. Paul tells us, in this very chapter, but they did not acknowledge him as they ought, ver. 21. They had God eixou ator, but ούκ εδοκίμασαν έχειν αυτόν εν επιγνώσει, did not so improve that knowledge, as to acknowledge or honour him as they ought. This verse seems, in other words, to express the same that is said ver. 21. * Eis áðóximov yoūv, “ to a reprobate mind," rather to an unsearching mind, in the sense of St. Paul, who often uses compounds and derivatives in the sense wherein, a little before, he used the primitive words, though a little varying from the precise Greek idiom : an example whereof we have, in this very word, ádóximos, 2 Cor. xiii. where having, ver. 3, used Soxopens for a proof of his mission by supernatural gifts, he uses å86xopos for one that was destitute of such proofs. So here he tells the Romans, that the Gentiles, not exercising their minds to search out the truth, and form their judgments right, God left them to an unsearching, unjudicious mind.
Nou explorantibus permisit mentem non exploratricem. "A discourse like this of St. Paul here, wherein idolatry is made the cause of the enormous crimes and profligate lives men run into, may be read Wisdom xiv. 11, &c.