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the good, who have made this epistle their particular study. At the same time that this object has been kept in view, and the reference to the Sabbath-school teacher, and the Bible-class, has given character to the work, still it is hoped that the expositions are of such a nature as not to be uninteresting to Christians of every age and of every class. He accomplishes a service of no little moment in the cause of the church of God, and of truth, who contributes in any degree to explain the profound argument, the thorough doctrinal discussion, the elevated views, and the vigorous, manly, and masterly reasonings of the Epistle to the Romans.
of the defects of this work, even for the purpose contemplated, no one will probably be more deeply sensible than the author. Of the time and labour necessary to prepare even such brief Notes as these, few persons, probably, are aware. This work has been prepared amidst the cares and toils of a most responsible pastoral charge. My brethren in the ministry, so far as they may have occasion to consult these Notes, will know how to appreciate the cares and anxieties amidst which they have been prepared. They will be indulgent to the faults of the book; they will not censure harshly what is well-meant for the rising generation; they will be the patrons of every purpose, however humble, to do good.
It remains only to add, that free use has been made of all the helps within the reach of the author. The language of other writers has not been adopted without particular acknowledgment, but their ideas have been freely used where they were thought to express the sense of the text. In particular, aid has been sought and obtained from the following works: the Critici Sacri, CalVIN'S COMMENTARY ON THE ROMANS, DODDRIDGE, MACKNIGHT, and ROSENMULLER; and the commentaries of THOLUCK and FLATTso far as an imperfect knowledge of the German language could render their aid available. A considerable portion was written before Professor Stuart's Commentary appeared. In the remaining portion, important aid has been freely derived from that work. The aim of this work is substantially the same as that of the “Notes on the Gospels,” and on the Acts of the Apostles; and the earnest wish and prayer of the author is, that it
be among many means of establishing the truth, and of promoting its advancement and ultimate triumph in the world.
Philadelphia, June 14, 1834.
EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS.
This Epistle has been, with great uniformity, attributed to the apostle Paul, and received as a part of the sacred canon. It has never in the church been called in question as a genuine, an inspired book, except by three of the ancient sects deemed heretical—the Ebionites, the Encratites, and Cerinthians. But they did not deny that it was written by the apostle Paul. They rejected it because they could not make its doctrines harmonize with their views of other parts of the Scriptures. Their rejecting it, therefore, does not militate against its genuineness. That is a question to be settled historically, like the genuineness of any other ancient writing. On this point the testimony of antiquity is uniform. The proof on this subject may be seen at length in Lardner's works. The internal evidence that this was written by Paul is stated in a most ingenious and masterly manner by Dr. Paley in his Horæ Paulinæ.
It is agreed by all, that this epistle was written in Greek. Though addressed to a people whose language was the Latin, yet this epistle to them, like those to other churches, was in Greek. On this point also, there is no debate.—The reasons why this language was chosen were probably the following. (1.) The epistle was designed doubtless to be read by other churches as well as the Roman. Comp. Col. iv. 16. Yet the Greek language, being generally known and spoken, was more adapted to this design than the Latin. (2.) The Greek language was then understood at Rome, and extensively spoken. It was a part of polite education to learn it. The Roman youth were taught it; and it was the fashion of the times to study it, even so much so as to make it matter of complaint that the Latin was neglected for it by the Roman youth. Thus Cicero (Pro. Arch.) says, The Greek language is spoken in almost all nations ; the Latin is confined to our comparatively narrow borders. Tacitus (Orator 29) says, An infant born now is committed to a Greek nurse. Juvenal (vi. 185) speaks of its being considered as an indispensable part of polite education, to be acquainted with the Greek. (3.) It is not impossible that the Jews at Rome, who constituted a separate colony, were better acquainted with the Greek than the Latin. They had a Greek, but no Latin translation of the Scriptures, and it is very possible that they used the language in which they were accustomed to read their Scriptures, and which was extensively spoken by their brethren throughout the world. (4.) The apostle was himself probably more familiar with the Greek, than the Latin. He was a native of Cilicia, where the Greek was doubtless spoken, and he not unfrequently quotes the Greek poets in his addresses and epistles. Acts xxi. 37; xvii. 28. Titus i. 12. 1 Cor. xv. 33.
This epistle is placed first among Paul's epistles, not because it was the first written, but because of the length and importance of the epistle itself, and
the importance of the church in the imperial city. It has uniformly had this place in the sacred canon, though there is reason to believe that the Epistle to the Galatians, the first to the Corinthians, and perhaps the two to the Thessalonians were written before this. Of the time when it was written, there can be little doubt. About the year 52 or 54 the Emperor Claudius banished all Jews from Rome. In Acts xviii, 2, we have an account of the first acquaintance of Paul with Aquila and Priscilla, who had departed from Rome in consequence of that decree. This acquaintance was formed in Corinth ; and we are told that Paul abode with them, and worked at the same occupation. Acts xviii. 3. In Romans xvi. 3, 4, he directs the church to greet Priscilla and Aquila, who had for his life laid down their own necks. This service which they rendered him must have been therefore after the decree of Claudius; and of course the epistle must have been written after the year 52.
In Acts xviii. 19, we are told that he left Aquila and Priscilla at Ephesus. Paul made a journey through the neighbouring regions, and then returned to Ephesus. Acts xix. 1. Paul remained at Ephesus at least two years (Acts xix. 8, 9, 10), and while here probably wrote the first Epistle to the Corina thians. In that epistle (xvi. 19) he sends the salutation of Priscilla and Aquila, who were of course still at Ephesus. The Epistle to the Romans, therefore, in which he sends his salutation to Aquila and Priscilla, as being then at Rome, could not be written until they had left Ephesus and returned to Rome; that is, until three years at least after the decree of Claudius in 52
Still further. When Paul wrote this epistle, he was about to depart for Jerusalem to convey a collection which had been made for the poor saints there, by the churches in Macedonia and Achaia. Rom. xv. 25, 26. When he had done this, he intended to go to Rome. Rom. xv. 28.–Now, by looking at the Acts of the Apostles, we can determine when this occurred. At this time he sent Timotheus and Erastus before him into Macedonia, while he remained in Asia for a season. Acts xix. 22. After this (Acts xx. 1, 2), Paul himself went into Macedonia, passed through Greece, and remained about three months there. In this journey it is almost certain that he went to Corinth, the capital of Achaia, at which time it is supposed this epistle was written. From this place he set out for Jerusalem, where he was made a prisoner, and after remaining a prisoner two years (Acts xxiv. 27), he was sent to Rome about A. D. 60. Allowing for the time of his travelling and his imprisonment, it must have been about three years from the time that he purposed to go to Jerusalem ; that is, from the time that he finished the epistle (Rom. xv. 25—29) to the time when he reached Rome, and thus the epistle must have been written about A. D. 57.
It is clear also, that the epistle was written from Corinth. In ch. xvi. 1, Phebe, a member of the church at Cenchrea, is commended to the Romans. She probably had charge of the epistle, or accompanied those who had it. Cenchrea was the port of the city of Corinth, about seven or eight miles from the city. In ch. xvi. 23, Gaius is spoken of as the host of Paul, or he of whose hospitality Paul partook, but Gaius was baptized by Paul at Corinth, and Corinth was manifestly his place of residence. 1 Cor. i. 14. Erastus is also mentioned as the chamberlain of the city where the epistle was written ; but this Erastus is mentioned as having his abode at Corinth. 2 Tim. iv. 20. From all this it is manifest that the Epistle was written at Corinth, about the
Of the state of the church at Rome at that time it is not easy to form a precise opinion. From this epistle it is evident that it was composed of Jews and
gentiles; and that one design of writing to it was to reconcile their jarring opinions, particularly about the obligation of the Jewish law; the advantage of the Jew; and the way of justification. It is probable that the two parties in the church were endeavouring to defend each their peculiar opinions, and that the apostle took this opportunity and mode to state to his converted countrymen the great doctrines of Christianity, and the relation of the law of Moses to the Christian system. The epistle itself is full proof that the church to whom it was addressed was composed of Jews and gentiles. No small part of it is an argument expressly with the Jews, ch. ii. iii. iv. ix. x. xi. And no small part of the epistle also is designed to state the true doctrine about the character of the gentiles, and the way in which they could be justified before God.
At this time there was a large number of Jews at Rome. When Pompey the Great overran Judea, he sent a large number of Jews prisoners to Rome, to be sold as slaves. But it was not easy to control them. They persevered resolutely and obstinately in adhering to the rites of their nation ; in keeping the Sabbath, &c. So that the Romans chose at last to give them their freedom, and assigned them a place in the vicinity of the city across the Tiber. Here a town was built, which was principally inhabited by Jews. Josephus mentions that 4000 Jews were banished from Rome at one time to Sardinia, and that a still greater number were punished who were unwilling to become soldiers. Ant. xviii. ch. 3, § 5. Philo (Legat. ad Caium) says, that many of the Jews at Rome had obtained their freedom ; for, says he, being made captive in war, and brought into Italy, they were set at liberty by their masters, neither were they compelled to change the rites of their fathers. See also Josephus, Ant. xvii. ch. ii, $ 1. Suetonius' life of Tiberius, 36, and Notes on Acts vi. 9. From that large number of Jews, together with those converted from the gentiles, the church at Rome was collected, and it is easy to see that in that church there would be a great diversity of sentiment, and, no doubt, warm discussions about the authority of the Mosaic law.
At what time, or by whom, the gospel was first preached at Rome has been a matter of controversy. The Roman catholic church have maintained that it was founded by Peter, and have thence drawn an argument for their high claims and infallibility. On this subject they make a confident appeal to some of the fathers. There is strong evidence to be derived from this epistle itself, and from the Acts, that Paul did not regard Peter as having any such primacy and ascendency in the Roman church as are claimed for him by the papists. (1.) In this whole epistle there is no mention of Peter at all. It is not suggested that he had been, or was then at Rome. If he had been, and the church had been founded by him, it is incredible that Paul did not make mention of that fact. This is the more striking, as it was done in other cases where churches had been founded by other men. See 1 Cor. i. 12, 13, 14, 15. Especially is Peter, or Cephas, mentioned repeatedly by the apostle Paul in his other epistles. 1 Cor. iii. 22 ; ix. 5; xv. 5. Gal. ii. 9 ; i. 18; č. 7, 8. 14. In these places Peter is mentioned in connexion with the churches at Corinth and Galatia, yet never there as appealing to his authority, but in regard to the latter, expressly calling it in question. Now, it is incredible that if Peter had been then at Rome, and had founded the church there, and was regarded as invested with any peculiar authority over it, that Paul should never once have even suggested his name. (2.) It is clear that Peter was not there when Paul wrote this epistle. If he had been, he could not have failed to have sent him a salutation, amid the numbers that he saluted in the xvith chapter. (3.) In the Acts of the Apostles there is no mention of Peter's having been at Rome, but the presumption from that nistory is almost conclusive that he had not been. In Acts xii. 3, 4, we have an
account of his having been imprisoned by Herod Agrippa near the close of his reign (comp. v. 23). This occurred about the third or fourth year of the reigni of Claudius, who began to reign A. D. 41. It is altogether improbable that he had been at Rome before this. Claudius had not reigned more than three years, and all the testimony that the fathers give is, that Peter came to Rome in his reign. (4.) Peter was at Jerusalem still in the ninth or tenth year of the reign of Claudius. Acts xv. 6, &c. Nor is there any mention made then of his having been at Rome. (5.) Paul went to Rome about A. D. 60. There is no mention made then of Peter's being with him, or being there. If he had been, it could hardly have failed of being recorded. Especially is this remarkable when Paul's meeting with the brethren is expressly mentioned (Acts xxviii. 14, 15), and when it is recorded that he met the Jews, and abode with them, and spent at Rome no less than two years. If Peter had been there, such a fact could not fail to have been recorded, or alluded to, either in the Acts or the Epistle to the Romans. (6.) The epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, to Philemon, and the second Epistle to Timothy (Lardner, vi. 235) were written from Rome during the residence of Paul as a prisoner; and the Epistle to the Hebrews probably also while he was still in Italy. In none of these epistles is there any hint that Peter was then, or had been, at Rome; a fact that cannot be accounted for if he was regarded as the founder of that church, and especially if he was then in that city. Yet in those epistles there are the salutations of a number to those churches. In particular, Epaphras, Luke the beloved physician (Col. iv. 12. 14), and the saints of the household of Cæsar are mentioned. Phil. iv. 22. In 2 Tim. iv. 11, Paul expressly affirms that Luke only was with him, a declaration utterly irreconcilable with the supposition that Peter was then at Rome. (7.) If Peter was ever at Rome, therefore, of which indeed there is no reason to doubt, he must have come there after Paul; at what time is unknown. That he was there cannot be doubted without calling in question the truth of all history.
When, or by whom, the gospel was preached first at Rome, it is not easy, perhaps not possible, to determine. In the account of the day of Pentecost, (Acts ii. 10) we find, among others, that there were present strangers of Rome, and it is not improbable that they carried back the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and became the founders of the Roman church. One design and effect of that miracle was doubtless to spread the knowledge of the Saviour among all nations. See Notes on Acts ii
. In the list of persons who are mentioned in Rom. xvi. it is not improbable that some of those early converts are included; and that Paul thus intended to show honour to their early conversion and zeal in the cause of Christianity. Thus, xvi. 7, he designates Andronicus and Junia his kinsmen and fellow-prisoners, who were distinguished among the apostles, and who had been converted before himself, i. e. before A. D. 34, at least eight years before it was ever pretended that Peter was at Rome. Other persons are mentioned also as distinguished, and it is not improbable that they were the early founders of the church at Rome, ch. xvi. 12, 13, &c.
That the church at Rome was founded early, is evident from the celebrity which it had acquired. At the time when Paul wrote this epistle (A. D. 57), their faith was spoken of throughout the world, ch. i. 8. The character of the church at Rome cannot be clearly ascertained. Yet it is clear that it was not made up merely of the lower classes of the community. In Phil. iv. 22, it appears that the gospel had made its way to the family of Cæsar, and that a part of his household had been converted to the Christian faith. Some of the fathers affirm that Nero in the beginning of his reign was favourably impressed in regard to Christianity; and it is possible that this might have been through