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continuously from the beginning onward, so that the attitude of the writer's mind may be discovered and the reader may place himself in the same position ; and thus the early portions may make the subsequent ones more intelligible. Passages separated from their connection and examined without reference to points which have been previously established, or without reference to the author's design and circumstances, are easily misunderstood and may even appear inexplicable ; while difficulties

may mounted, with a good degree of satisfaction, by one who reads in connection, and who discerns the relation of one part, or topic, to another.

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To aid the reader in observing the continuity of thought in the epistle, and the transitions to related thoughts, I have advised its being printed here, not according to the customary and arbitrary division into verses, but by paragraphs. For the convenience, however, of notes and of reference, the figures, which in ordinary editions designate the verses, are retained on the side of the page. I have also placed at the head of each chapter, a mention, in the form of an analysis, of the topics occupying its several paragraphs.

Those who are acquainted with my Notes on the Gospels, and on the Acts of the Apostles, will discover a general conformity in the present work to the design and principles of those volumes.

H. J. R.



The origin of the church in Rome is hid in obscurity. In the absence of all reliable historical information, we can readily believe that, soon after the events of the day of Pentecost, as related in the second chapter of the Acts, Christians would be found in the great capital of the Roman empire, which had so active a connection, both political and commercial, with all parts of the known world. Many of its citizens could not fail, in their journeys for business, to become acquainted with the gospel ; and some, doubtless, both Gentiles and Jews, became true converts, who would, on their return, seek to promote in their own city the religion of Christ. Various occasions would, also, lead to Rome, both for temporary and for stated residence, persons who had become Christians. Preachers of the gospel, too, doubtless found their way to the imperial city. Through these and similar concurring circumstances, a church was soon formed, consisting, like the other early churches, of converted Gentiles and Jews.


At the time of writing this epistle, Paul had not been at Rome, though he had for many years cherished the desire to visit the church there and to strengthen its interests. See 1: 10-13. 15: 22-24, 28, 29. The importance of this church, as situated in the capital of the world, and thus having a wide influence on Christian affairs, suffi


ciently accounts for this desire : but, besides, he was personally acquainted with not a few of its members, as appears from the 16th chapter, having met with them in his various journeys; some of them were his own relatives, 16: 7, 11; some of them had shared with him in labors and privations for the gospel's sake, 16 : 7,9; and from some he had received many attentions, 16: 6, 13. Having been thus far prevented from visiting them by the demand for his services in regions where the gospel had not yet been made known, 1: 13. 15: 22, he availed himself of a favorable opportunity for writing to them. He knew sufficiently the affairs of the church; by current report, doubtless, as to some things; as to others, we may well believe, by information from members with whom he had met in various places, and from preachers who were personally acquainted with its condition.



The epistle is a connected discourse. It presents and establishes the distinguishing doctrine of the gospel in reference to the salvation of men, particularly in view of the objections and difficulties which Jews would be likely to feel. The distinctive feature of the gospel is stated in 1: 17; namely, it discloses the righteousness which avails for men's acceptance with God, the righteousness which comes from faith. The statement there made is, so to speak, the main theme of discourse, in reference both to men’s present acceptance with God and their becoming prepared, through personal holiness, for heaven. The first eight chapters are devoted to this subject.

ANALYSIS OF THE FIRST EIGHT CHAPTERS. The apostle shows, in the first place, the need of salvation, in respect both to Gentiles and Jews, in consequence of the exposure

of all alike to divine wrath on account of sin, 1: 18 to 3: 20; and then, as all are sinners and none can be saved by virtue of their own deeds, he presents faith in the propitiatory death of Christ as required alike from all, and as that which will be accepted as righteousness and will avail for justification in the sight of God, 3: 21–30. As meeting the queries of a Jewish mind at this point, he affirms that this mode of justifying men does not invalidate the law as exhibited by Moses ; that, on the contrary, it establishes the law; and that the Old Testament

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presents essentially the same principle of acceptance with God, 3: 31 to 4 : 25.

The happy consequences of this justifying faith are next presented, 5: 1-11; and a contrast is drawn between Adam, through whom sin and death came, and Christ, through whom come righteousness and life, 5: 12–21.

The principle, that faith is put to a person's account as righteousness, illustrative as it is of the grace, or loving favor, of God, is next viewed in its relation to the holiness of a believer.

Faith in Christ, so far from allowing sin, makes its possessor dead to sin through his participation in the death of Christ, or through his union with Christ in respect to his death, 6: 1-14. The believer is no longer under the law, the requisitions of which prove an occasion of excitement to sin: he now serves God, having a new spirit towards him and standing in a new relation to him, 6 : 15 to 7: 1-6.

The apostle then portrays the influence of the divine law on the human soul, when a man is viewed aside from the gracious provision which faith in Christ secures. The law of God, though in itself holy and good, yet when brought into contact with the human soul, awakens a distressing sense of sinfulness and of criminal inability to obey it. Instead of securing obedience, the law, though it commends itself to the reason and conscience, as just and good, awakens and stimulates in the human soul sinful desires, and can produce only a sense of sinfulness and danger, 7:7–24. Deliverance from this misery can come only through Christ, 7: 25. Faith in Christ delivers from this bondage to sin ; because to the believer in Christ the Spirit of God imparts life; the believer is a child of God, enjoying his paternal treatment and the hope of partaking in the glory of Christ; a hope which is sure, having its foundation in the eternal purpose and unchanging love of God, 8: 1-39.


Since it is by faith in Christ, and not through the Mosaic law, that men can be accounted as righteous in the sight of God, the Jews, refusing to believe in him, are rejected. This inevitable result could not but be painful to the Christian Jews; and it needed explanation, as being apparently inconsistent with the promises of God. To relieve this difficulty and vindicate the divine conduct towards the nation, the apostle next takes up the subject of the Jews' rejection and devotes to it the 9th, 10th and 11th chapters.

ANALYSIS OF CHAPTERS 9, 10, 11. After avowing his grief at the sad condition of the Jews, 9: 1–5, the apostle repels the supposition that God had failed to fulfil his promise. God's promise remains true: in its fulfilment, however, he acts, not on the principle that any men have, or can acquire, a ground for claiming blessings from him, as though deserving them, but according to his own free designs and grace, 9: 6–29. The fault lay in the unbelief of the Jews themselves, 9 : 30. 10: 1–21.

Grounds for consolation are next presented : namely, it is only a part of the Jews that are rejected; their rejection has proved favorable, and will yet prove favorable to the Gentiles; their recovery is, also, to be expected, 11 : 1–32.


Then follows the hortatory part of the epistle, 12: 1 to 15: 13, containing exhortations adapted, in part, to all Christians, and specially appropriate, in part, to the Christians in Rome.

The remainder of the epistle, from 15: 14, is occupied with expressions of the apostle's kind feelings towards the Roman church, with salutations to numerous individuals, and with other kindred matter. The whole ends with an ascription of glory to God.


The epistle was written, probably, in the year 58 or 59, while the apostle was on his way to Jerusalem, 15: 25, with a contribution from the Gentile Christians in Macedonia and Achaia for the indigent among the Christians in Jerusalem.

From the commendation which it contains, 16: 1, of Phebe of Cenchrea, since this place was a sea-port of Corinth, and from the mention of Gaius, a member of the church in Corinth (1 Cor. 1 : 4), as the apostle's host, 16: 23, it is sufficiently clear that the epistle was sent from Corinth, and conveyed by Phebe.

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