Introduction to Romans Chapter 1
This chapter contains the inscription of the epistle, and salutation, the preface to it, and the grand proposition of justification by faith, so much enlarged on afterwards; and that this could not be by the law of nature, and the works of it among the Gentiles, is demonstrated by a detail of their horrible wickedness, impiety, and unrighteousness. In the inscription an account is given of the author of the epistle, who is described in Romans 1:1 by his name Paul: by his relation to Christ, a servant of his; and by his office, an apostle, whose business and concern were with the Gospel; to which he was separated. This Gospel is commended from the author of it, who is God himself; and from the antiquity of it, Romans 1:2, being as ancient as the writings of the prophets; and from the subject of it, being the Lord Jesus Christ; who is described by his relation to God, his Son, by his dominion over the saints, their Lord, by both his natures, human and divine; his human nature, as being of the seed of David, his divine nature, being the Son of God, Romans 1:4, which is declared by the power he is possessed of, by the Spirit of holiness that is in him, by his resurrection from the dead, and by the apostles receiving from him grace to fit them for their office, and by the office itself: the end of which was to make some among all nations obedient to him, Romans 1:5, among whom were the saints at Rome, who were called by him, and after his name, Romans 1:6, which introduces the account of the persons to whom this epistle is written, who are described, Romans 1:7, by the place of their abode, Rome; by their interest in the love of God; and by the effect, fruit, and evidence of it, their effectual calling; and then follows the apostle's usual salutation, as in all his epistles, in which he wishes grace and peace for them, from God the Father, and from Christ. The preface begins Romans 1:8, in which are a thanksgiving to God, through Christ, for all the saints at Rome, particularly on account of their faith, for which they were everywhere so famous; an appeal to God, Romans 1:9, for the truth of his incessant prayers for them, and particularly, Romans 1:10, that this was a request he made, that if it was the will of God, he might have a speedy and prosperous journey to, them; an expression of strong affection to them, and of his great desire to see them, Romans 1:11, his end in which was partly for their sakes, to communicate spiritual things to them for their establishment, and partly for his own comfort, and the increase of the mutual faith of both, Romans 1:12, also a vindication of himself, Romans 1:13, showing, that it was not any fault of his, or any neglect of them by him, that he had not been with them as yet, but some things hindered him, in the execution of his purpose to come to them; to which he was moved, partly by the hope of having fruit among them, as among others, and partly through the obligation that lay upon him by virtue of his office, to preach the Gospel to all sorts of men, Romans 1:14, he expresses his willingness and readiness to preach the Gospel to them at Rome, as soon as an opportunity would offer, Romans 1:15, which was his work and office, what he delighted in, was closely attached to, and by no means ashamed of, Romans 1:16, partly because of the nature of it, it was the Gospel, good news and true: and partly because of the author and subject of it, Christ; as also because of the efficacy of it in the salvation of Jews and Gentiles; and likewise because of a principal doctrine revealed in it, Romans 1:17, the doctrine of justification by faith, in the righteousness of Christ, confirmed and illustrated by a passage out of Habakkuk 2:4, and which he particularly mentions, because he intended to dwell upon it in this epistle: and in order to show that the Gentiles could not be justified in the sight of God by their obedience to the law, and the light of nature, he observes, that they were the objects of the wrath of God, Romans 1:18, and that very justly, because they sinned knowingly; they had some knowledge of the truth, but they would not profess it: and that they had such knowledge of it, he proves from the author of it, God, who showed it to them, Romans 1:19, and from the means of it, by which they must, and did arrive to some degree of it, namely, the works of creation, Romans 1:20. The apostle goes on to expose the ingratitude of them, the vanity of their minds, the pride and folly of their hearts, Romans 1:21, the gross idolatry they were guilty of, Romans 1:23, for which idolatry they were given up to their own hearts' lusts, to commit the foulest and most scandalous iniquities, even to commit sodomitical practices, and unnatural lusts, both men and women, Romans 1:24. And so far were they from having a righteousness to justify them before God, that they were titled with all unrighteousness; and a large list of the vilest sins, being committed by them, is given; and a catalogue of the worst of sinners, as among them, Romans 1:29. All which are aggravated by their knowledge of the will of God, through the light of nature, that these things were contrary to it, and were deserving of death; and yet they both did them, and were delighted with those that committed them also: the inference which he leaves to be deduced from hence, and which may easily be deduced, is, that therefore there can be no justification of such persons in the sight of God by their own works.