An Introduction to the New Testament

By Adolf Jülicher

PART ONE - Book I

Chapter 1 - Section 8

 

§ 8. The Epistle to the Romans

[Cf. H. A. W. Meyer, vol. iv., by B. Weiss, 1899; Hand-Commentar ii. 2 (Gal. Rom. Phil. by R. A. Lipsius, 1892); ʽInternat. Critical Commentary,ʼ by W. Sanday and A. Headlam. 1900; the special commentaries of E. Böhmer (1886) and of G. Volkmar (1875), both differing widely from the traditional form of exegesis; of F. Godet, translated into German by Wunderlich (1890, see p. 78) and of A. Schlatter (1894, see p. 68). Also E. Grafeʼs ʽÜber Veranlassung und Zweck des Römerbriefesʼ (1881), a lucid investigation of the introductory questions and review of the criticism hitherto devoted to it, and W. Mangoldʼs ʽDer Römerbrief und seine geschichtlichen Voraussetzungen,ʼ a vigorous defence of Baurʼs theory of the Jewish-Christian character of the Roman community; H. Lucht: ʽÜber die beiden letzten Capitel d. Römerbriefs,ʼ 1871 (an acute defence of Baurʼs theses touching chs. xv. and xvi, 25-27, and of the relative authenticity of xvi.1-23). E. Riggenbach, ʽDie Adresse des XVI Cap. des Römerbriefsʼ and ʽDie Textgesch. der Doxologie Rm. xvi. 25-27” in ʽNeues Jahrbuch für deutsche Theologie,ʼ 1892, 498-605, and cf. ibid. 1894, 350 ff. (a learned defence of its authenticity and integral connection with Romans).]

1. Apart from the introduction and conclusion, our Epistle falls clearly into two divisions—chaps. i—xi. being argumentative, and chaps. xii—xv. hortative. The first part— which might be termed an exposition of Paulʼs Gospel—is again divided between chaps. viii. and ix.; in the first half Paul defends his faith against the religious errors of Judaism, and in the second (ix.-xi.), against nationalist objections of the Jews. A lengthy composition, it is free from all signs of excitement, and is written with much care; and though, nevertheless, the writerʼs warmth of feeling again and again finds striking expression, the chain of thought is not thereby interrupted—and in any case Paul could not have described the way to righteousness and life. in the style of a catechism. It is well known how highly Luther valued this Epistle, and indeed it is the most important foundation for the study of Paulʼs Christianity, although for the history of his times it is not quite so valuable.

The address,1 with its unusually full description of the writerʼs qualifications, is followed by a thanksgiving, combined with an explanation of the motives which led Paul to open direct communication with his readers. He hopes before long to preach the Gospel to them also, and in i. 16 fol. lays down the principle that the Gospel is the revelation of the righteousness of God, and that for such revelation Faith is the Alpha and Omega. He then illustrates this thesis first negatively2 and then positively.3 (a) Negatively: before faith existed, and without faith now, there neither was nor is true righteousness—neither in the Pagan4 nor the Jewish5 world, which, certain though it was that God in his unalterable fidelity would some day fulfil the promises vouchsafed to Israel, could never attain to freedom from sin and punishment through the Law, but only to a knowledge of sin. (b) Positively: through the expiatory death of Jesus Christ, God, without relaxing aught of his justice, had established remission of sins and bestowed the gift of perfect righteousness on Gentiles as well as Jews, on the sole condition of faith.6 But this assertion was no contradiction of the Law. On the contrary, it was confirmed by the Law7  in the story of Abraham.8 Neither was it contradicted by our own experience, for no afflictions could rob us of the feeling of reconciliation, of peace with God and of hope in his glory.9 This alone made it possible to understand the ways of God in history; as sin and death had extended to all mankind from the one Adam, and were not conquered, but only accentuated, by the Law, so by the one Jesus Christ righteousness and life were now conveyed to all. A new epoch in the worldʼs history had opened, an epoch directly opposed to the last, and consequently having nothing, not even the Law, in common with it.10 Faith did not even require the Law as a supplement, for men were no longer to be in bondage to sin; the believer had died to sin by the act of baptism11; sanctification was the fundamental condition of eternal life.12 The Law had now no further claim upon us, since Christʼs death had released us from it.13

That the Law was good and divine, however, was not in any way to be denied; only, sold unto sin as we were by the flesh, in spite of the joy of the inward man in the Law of God, as in all else that was good, the Law had no power beyond that of showing us the full extent of our impotence and need.14 But now a new day had dawned; whoever was in Christ had passed the period of the flesh and the Law; he walked in the Spirit as a child of God, released from all bondage and fear and in the presence of an infinite felicity, in which the rest of creation should come to share.15

Paul then introduces his discussion of the nationalist objections of the Jews by admitting the fact that Israel, the chosen people, had held aloof from Christ.16 But the promise of God had only been given to the spiritual Israel,17 and Godʼs mercy might choose out the true children of Abraham freely wherever it would.18 Every potter has a right over his clay, to make out of it vessels unto honour or unto dishonour, as he wills. Nor ought the carnal Israel to complain that it did not form part of this chosen body, for in spite of all its zeal for the Law it had obstinately pursued the phantom of self-righteousness, and refused to listen to the clearest exhortations of the Scriptures to faith in Jesus Christ.19 To want of understanding was added active disobedience. But, thank God, not all the Israelites were hardened: a remnant there was which had been chosen out.20 And even the temporary casting out of the great majority of them had an educational purpose: Israel, or all that was left of it, would be saved at last, after all the Gentiles, and the broken branches of the olive-tree would be grafted in again.21

Then, with a skilful change of argument, the Apostle introduces his exhortation with the wish that his readers, having freed themselves from the old delusions, should render reasonable service to God—the service of the ʽgood, the acceptable, and the perfect.ʼ22 This idea is then illustrated by a number of short general precepts concerning true Christian behaviour both within the community and towards the world at large.23 Special stress is laid on the duty of subjection to ʽthe higher powers,ʼ24 after which everything is summed up in the commandment ʽLove thy neighbour as thyself,ʼ25 and the imminence of the Last Day dwelt upon as a motive for ʽwalking honestly.ʼ26 Then from xiv. 1 to xv. 18, he gives his advice upon a difficulty peculiar to the Roman community, showing that brotherly love would avoid the faults committed on both sides in the disputes between the ʽstrongʼ and the ʽweakʼ—eaters of meat and vegetarians. Then follow27 explanations of a personal kind on the subject of his plans of travel and of the part which Rome was to play in them. In vv. xvi. 1 and 2 he desires his readers to extend a warm welcome to a certain Phebe, a Christian of Cenchreae; the salutations that follow28 are interrupted between vv. 17 and 21 by a sharp warning against sowers of strife and false apostles, and with a solemn doxology the Epistle ends.

2. Verse i. 13 alone29 would be sufficient to induce us to assign the Epistle to the Romans to a late period of Paulʼs life. But in chap. xv.30 he says still more plainly that he had finished his work in the East from Jerusalem as far as Illyricum, and was now intending to set out via Rome for the conquest of Spain.31 He was at present on his way to Jerusalem in order to hand over there the results of the Collection made in Macedonia and Achaia.32 And since he could not very well have written an Epistle of this sort on board ship or at one of the stations on the journey, our thoughts naturally turn to Corinth as the place of composition, for it was there that Paul spent the last three months uninterruptedly before his journey.33 Besides, the recommendation of a woman of Cenchreae, the port of Corinth,34 would most naturally have proceeded from Corinth, while Gaius, the man who is mentioned in xvi. 23 as Paulʼs host, may be identical with his namesake of 1. Cor. i. 14. It was in the early part of 58— that is to say, about six months after the production of 2. Cor. —that Paul introduced himself by letter to the Romans.

3. This date, however, is principally based upon verses whose authenticity is by no means undisputed. As early as the year 140, approximately, Marcion imagined himself to have discovered, on dogmatic grounds, numerous interpolations in the canonical text of Romans. Similar assertions on the part of modern critics possess in general no higher scientific value—though it is true that in vii. 25-viii. 1, for instance, the traditional text is really not tenable; but to prove this in detail belongs to the province of exegesis. But Baur and his school have rejected chaps. xv. and xvi. as an appendix added in the second century in the interests of reconciling the anti-Pauline party, and have at most recognised a few fragments of a genuine Pauline Epistle wrought into them.35 This theory, indeed, seems not to be without external evidence too, for Marcionʼs version of Romans broke off at xiv. 28, and in the West the Church itself seems to have possessed copies in which verse xiv. 23 was followed by the doxology36 alone. And if in the Greek manuscripts this last is sometimes placed after both chaps. xiv. and xvi., sometimes only after xiv. 23— but in such a way that chaps. xv. and xvi. would then follow on sometimes only after xvi. 83, and in some copies was entirely wanting, this variation would also bear witness to some uncertainty in the tradition from verse xiv. 28 onwards. These points of textual history would be best explained by supposing that the Epistle was circulated in two versions, the one reaching as far as xiv. 23, the other as far as xvi. 23 (or 24), and that the doxology was appended first to the shorter, where the want of a fitting ending would have been felt particularly keenly after xi. 36, and afterwards to the longer version as well. In my opinion, it is impossible to admit that it fits better between xiv. 23 and xv. 1 than after xvi. 28, though undoubtedly its transference thence to the end of the Epistle is easier to imagine than the converse. The discovery of a delicate inner connection between the doxology and the contents especially of xiv. 1-xv. 13 is probably a case of ʽthe wish is father to the thought.ʼ It is true that in spite of its numerous points of contact with Pauline phraseology (κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιόν μου is specifically Pauline), the doxology does almost sound as though it were the product of a later time—a time that loved a plenitude of liturgic formulae; its reference to the Father as the ʽeternalʼ and ʽonly wiseʼ God is without analogy in Paulʼs writings. Still, I should not definitely venture to assert its spuriousness as long as the spuriousness of the Epistle to the Ephesians is not placed beyond question.

Whoever does so venture, however, is by no means obliged to treat the remaining part of the two chapters in the same way. Verse xiv. 23 being an extremely awkward ending for a letter, it is in itself more likely that the shorter version of the Epistle, if it ever existed, should represent a mutilation— although hardly one caused by design—than that the longer should have arisen through the additions of a later hand. The salutations of xvi. 3-16 and 21-23 contain nothing that savours of fabrication; it is impossible to believe seriously that an Andronicus and a Junias should still in the second century have been reckoned among the Apostles,37 whereas this would have been quite in keeping with Pauline usage. The fact that they were Christians before him is accentuated by Paul as an additional motive for respecting them. But how improbable this from the pen of a later writer! Nor, above all, can anyone have had the smallest object in ascribing the recommendation of Phebe to Paul. Vv. xvi. 17-20 are certainly very surprising in their present place, but otherwise they bear the Pauline stamp both in form and matter. The best analogies for the abruptness of the condemnation are to be found in 2. Cor. x. fol. and in Philippians iii., while Romans vi. 17 affords a parallel for the application of the word ʽdoctrineʼ to the Gospel. In ver. 20 the end of the world is evidently expected in the immediate future.38 As to chap. xv., in the first place it follows admirably upon xiv. as far as verse 13; ʽthe strongʼ and ʽthe weakʼ of xv. refer to precisely the same persons as before, and the ʽcircumcisionʼ and the ʽGentilesʼ39 are only brought in to illustrate the principle that in ʽreceivingʼ each other, they, both the strong and the weak, were only following the example set them by Christ. And that Christ should in ver. 8 be called the ʽminister of the circumcisionʼ is not contrary to Paulʼs usage, but merely the recognition of an historical fact. Nor, in the second place, do vv. 14-88 show us a fictitious Paul, half submitting to the Jewish Christians; he surrenders none of his rights,40 but on the contrary refers to certain odious principles of his Judaistic adversaries,41 and the modesty of his tone towards the Romans42 arises from the fact that he could not there come forward, as in Corinth, as their ʽfatherʼ and ʽfounder.ʼ In ver. 16 he makes use of a metaphor from sacrificial worship, but to discover in the expressions necessary to it anything pointing to clericalism, to a heightened idea of the priestly character of the Church official, would mean a very perverted interpretation. The personal messages are all of them best suited to the situation in which Paul then was; how could a later writer have thought of making him plan a journey to Spain, and even ask something of God which was not granted him,43 or of putting a doubt into his mouth as to the reception of his collection-money at Jerusalem? Not a sentence of chap. xv. can be attributed to a forger, and the language is as characteristically Pauline as that of xvi. or vii.

4. But even if everything in the Epistle down to xvi. 27 can be referred to Paul, it may yet not have formed part of the original Epistle to the Romans. Since 1829 the theory brought forward by David Schulz (in Breslau) that Rom. xvi. belonged to an epistle of Paul to the Ephesians has gained almost universal acceptance. The champions of this theory are, however, disagreed as to whether chap. xvi. represents a mere fragment of an epistle to the Ephesians, or one that is practically complete, whether it should begin at ver. 1 or only at ver. 8, and whether vv. 17-20 and 21-23 belong to it. It has even been proposed to assign chaps. ix.—xi. or xii.-xiv. to this Ephesian Epistle.

It is in any case improbable that Paul should have had so many intimate acquaintances in Rome as he appears from vv. 3-16 to have had among his readers. The names themselves tell us nothing—those in Latin afford no proof in favour of their ownersʼ Western extraction, those in Greek none against it. But is it in Rome that we are to look for Epaenetus,44 ʽthe first fruits of Asia,ʼ and for Prisca and Aquila,45 who according to 1. Corinthians46 were living in Ephesus? We should have to presuppose a sort of general migration of Paulʼs Eastern communities to Rome in order to render conceivable the presence there of so many of the Apostleʼs friends. And Rufus47 would seem to have taken his mother with him, and Nereus48 his sister. Then are we to suppose that Prisca and Aquila had immediately been able to found a house-community at Rome49 similar to that which they had collected at Ephesus50? The stress laid on the obligation of all Gentile churches to them in xvi. 4 seems indeed to fit Rom. xv. 16 and 27 very well, but the expression, which occurs nowhere else in Paulʼs writings, was chosen with delicate tact in order to accentuate their merit more sharply, since they were of Jewish extraction. Everything in this passage points to Ephesus, none of it to Rome. In writing to the strange Roman community Paul would certainly not have emphasised his own personal connections with those he was greeting so often,51 and on the same grounds I should also be inclined to ascribe vv. 1 and 2 to the Ephesian letter. Phoebe's services to Paul personally were scarcely adapted to impress the Romans; but the question as to whether it were more likely for a woman of Cenchreae to migrate to Ephesus than to Rome does not seem to me to be worth much argument. These two verses furnish us with a motive for the epistle—the address has of course disappeared, but probably nothing else; Paul grants Phoebe's request for a letter of recommendation to a place where his recommendation justly carried weight, and makes use of the opportunity to greet his old friends and to add a short but earnest warning to his readers52 against the disturbers of peace, the agitators with their flattering words. That such men would not neglect Ephesus when they had worked so successfully at Corinth, is self-evident, especially since Paul had been obliged to fly from that city. But there was no need for a systematic attack, since Paul was still sure of his community, nor would there have been room for one in so short a letter. Even its tone here diverges remarkably from that of the Epistle to the Romans—ver. 19, for instance, with its ʽyour obedience,ʼ ʽI would have you,ʼ does not suit the latter at all: and the place would be singularly inappropriate for so important an exhortation. The chief objection, however, lies in xvi. 17-20, for the other reasons are only of the ʽmore or less probableʼ rank. If Paul wrote these words to the Romans it would be necessary to construct a very different view of the community from that which is based on chapters i_xv. Simply for prudential reasons Paul would never have written so sharply to a community with which he was unacquainted; had he, then, entirely forgotten the intermediate τολμηρότερον ἔγραψα of xv. 15?

Vv. xvi. 1-20 can therefore be described with tolerable certainty as they stand, as a miniature epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. On the other hand, vv. 21-28 would suit an epistle to Rome just as well as one to Ephesus. The Epistle to the Romans has indeed an amply sufficient ending in verse xv. 33, but greetings like those of xvi. 21-23 may yet very well have followed it, and it even sounds as though Paul were now for the first time introducing the senders of these greetings to his readers, to whom they were personally unknown. And in an epistle to the Ephesians everyone would expect these three verses to come before ver. 16 rather than after ver. 20. But if we consider vv. 21-23 as the original ending of Romans, the short Ephesian epistle would then have been inserted into it, and that is a much more doubtful hypothesis than that of its being added to it. That this addition took place very early is easily conceivable if both Epistles were written at the same time, and perhaps by the hand of the same scribe (i.e.. the Corinthian Tertius53). At any rate, we should definitely place the letter of recommendation during Paulʼs last sojourn at Corinth because of vv. xvi. 1, and ver. 7 is no objection, for Paul had had ʽfellow-prisonersʼ not only at Rome and Caesarea, but also before,54 and the two here named had probably shared his imprisonment on the same occasion as that on which Aquila and Prisca had risked their necks for his life. Nor need it surprise us that six or eight months after the event Paul still had it vividly before his eyes. Again, there is no necessity to suppose that this epistle was the first that he had addressed to his Ephesian community since that sorrowful departure, so that we need not expect a passage of lamentation over those experiences or thanksgiving for his deliverance. These expressions had found utterance before, since Paul had some feeling for his community—but they have disappeared.

5. Having now determined the compass of the Epistle to the Romans, we may hope to forma clearer idea as to its object. In spite of the violent opposition of modern authorities, we must unhesitatingly assert that this, like the rest of Paulʼs Epistles, was written to, that is to say for, a single community—in this case that of Rome—and that it was intended for this one community and was meant to produce an effect upon it alone; not that it was an outline of Pauline faith and teaching for the world at large, accidentally clothed in the epistolary form which its author found so natural, and dedicated by a clever act of courtesy to the important community of the worldʼs capital. What Paul expresses in i. 11 as his long-cherished wish in making this approaching visit to Rome—namely, to impart some spiritual gift to the Roman Christians ʽto the end they might be establishedʼ—is also his object in the Epistle. It is thus that he begins to carry out a duty towards them that he had often keenly felt.55 He had acquainted himself with the internal affairs of the Roman community, and knew of the friction between the ʽstrongʼ and the ʽweak,ʼ56 and in spite of the phrases ʽlet us not therefore judge one another,ʼ ʽlet us follow after things which make for peace,ʼ57 it is not a section of his ethical system that he is here treating of, but a defect peculiar to the Roman community that he is striving to eliminate by ʽsome spiritual gift.58 Nor is it by chance that in an epistle to the Romans the exhortation to a loyal bearing towards the ʽhigher powersʼ59 should have been so earnest and so comprehensive, and even though we may not be able to prove in the rest of the Kpistle that Paulʼs apologetic and parenetic arguments were aimed especially at the Christians of Rome, yet in many passages of other Epistles proof of this sort is equally impossible. But the animation of the tone, the passages scattered through it beginning ʽbrethren,ʼ ʽbeloved,ʼ show that Paul had definite readers in his mind, and that he was not speaking in monologue. Nevertheless it is not to be understood by this that he possessed a clear and complete idea of the situation of the Roman Christians; naturally not more than occasional items of news would have reached his ears. Nor is it worth while to warn my readers against the childish pedantry of assuming that every word in such a work of doctrine as this, which explains many of the fundamental problems of religion in so thorough and systematic a way, was directed to the needs of Roman hearers alone; on the contrary, we must here test the writerʼs apparent allusions to the position and opinions of his readers with even greater care than in the case of the Epistles addressed to communities with which Paul was familiar.

In any case Paul cannot have been ignorant of the elements of which the Christian community of Rome was composed, and this, then, we in our turn shall learn from the Epistle. Since its first effort is to remove the objections against Paulʼs Law-freed Gospel, it has been concluded in the face of the manifest proofs to the contrary that the community addressed was entirely or mainly Jewish-Christian, and biassed with the prejudices of Judaism. Paul speaks of his readers in i. 5 fol. and xi. 13 simply as Gentiles, and vv. i. 13-15 would have no meaning if the Christians of Rome consisted of Jews by birth, neither would xv. 14-16. The tone of feeling in which he announces his approaching journey to Jerusalem with the proceeds of the Collection60 does not sound to me like a bid for the sympathy of the Romans, whose attention is to be drawn thereby to the piety of Paulʼs attitude towards the primitive community of the Holy Land, but rather like a preparatory announcement of similar collections to be made in Rome. Otherwise there would be something unfitting in the twofold emphasis laid in xv. 27 upon the debt to the saints in Jerusalem which the Gentile Christians were bound to discharge. Again, it is scarcely possible that Paul would have written vv. vi. 16-21 to circumcised Christians. The Jew is only addressed in passages of animated contention against Judaistic doctrine,61 otherwise, especially in chaps. ix.—xi., the Israelites are spoken of in the third person, while phrases such as ʽAbraham, our forefather according to the fleshʼ62 and various others63 may be explained in the same way, or, like 1. Cor. x. 1, by the fact that Paul was treating the facts and ideas of his own inward experience as common Christian property.

Naturally it is not to be supposed that any of the larger communities of Paulʼs time were without some Jewish admixture, least of all that of Rome, which had arisen without any help from the Apostle of the Gentiles. And this is why Paul felt his position towards it so uncertain. It was an unknown quantity to him—a Gentile community indeed, and therefore belonging to his sphere of work, but not founded either by him or by any of his companions, and therefore64 outside his jurisdiction. The legend of its foundation by Peter has been abandoned, but nevertheless it must have been from Jerusalem that the Gospel was brought to Rome, although not by means of special emissaries, but through the silent channels of trade between the Holy Land and the Jewish community of the worldʼs capital. The first Christians of Rome are therefore sure to have been Jews, and in the strife between those who rejected Jesus and those who thought him the Messiah,—which led to the well-known Edict of the Emperor Claudius ʽJudaeos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantes Roma expulitʼ65—it was probably with the latter that proselytes sided more abundantly. These again won further converts to the new religion among Gentile circles, and it was precisely this Imperial edict expelling the Jews from Rome, which, besides bringing about a strong preponderance of the Gentile Christian element in the Messianic community—for solely because of his faith in the Messiah no Jew could escape the doom of banishment—probably resulted also in the final separation there between Jews and Christians, because this was to the interest of both.

Now, it would have been quite possible for Gentile Christians to have imposed upon themselves the observance of the entire Mosaic Law, as the Galatians had been prepared to do, and the Christians of Rome might have combined an extraction mainly Gentile with a disposition entirely or mainly Jewish. Nevertheless, the ʽstrongʼ of chap. xiv. fol., who confessedly form the majority, hold a faith which allows them to eat everything, and not meat alone, without distinction,66 and which observes no particular day, such as the Sabbath, more than any other67; hence they had placed themselves in a position of greater freedom towards the Law than any Proselytes, and constituted a Gentile Christian community emancipated from the Law and growing wild, so to speak, independently of Paul and certainly without his profound justifications for such an attitude. We must not even assert that the minority of ʽweakʼ brethren represented a Judaistic party. For they shrank altogether from eating meat and from drinking wine, a fact which points to the ascetic scrupulosity which was so common a feature of the times, rather than to Pharisaic strictness. At any rate, Paul did not look upon the weak brethren as representatives of that Judaism which declared the works of the Law necessary to salvation, for in that case he could not without compromising himself have met them so far as he does in xiv. 21 fol.; he treats them rather as Christians who, having begun their progress towards a complete freedom of belief, had attained to all but the highest step.

But what, then, could have led the Apostle, who in chap. xiv. fol. warns his readers in the name of brotherly love against an exaggeration of the sense of freedom, to defend himself as far as chap. xi. of the same Epistle almost exclusively against a condemnation of his gospel which is only conceivable as coming from Jewish quarters? Must we not assign chaps. xii. fol. to a different epistle from chaps. i.—xi., since in the recipients of the two sections exactly opposite errors or faults seem to be pre-supposed? Can the ʽjudgesʼ of chap. ii. be identified with those of chap. xiv.? Or was the community addressed in i.—xi. really independent of the Law, while Paul was merely strengthening it against possible Judaistic attacks, by laying before it a careful exposition of the whole state of the case? Yet if on his migration to the West Paul only recalled the fact that the Judaistic propaganda had up to that time always followed on his track, and if he wished to prevent the possibility of its establishing itself in Rome too behind his back, why did he not prefer to prosecute this task of prevention personally and effectively, where, as in this case, there was no danger in delay? No, there is only one way of regarding the Epistle as a whole and as an actual letter, such as Paul knew how to write, and that is by supposing that Paul had some reason for setting at rest, before his arrival in Rome, certain prejudices which would have made his labours there fruitless or unsatisfactory, and that to this end he chose to make a calm and complete statement and justification of his attitude towards the Law and towards Judaism. We had better refrain from making guesses at the Judaistic partyʼs plan of campaign, which we simply do not know, and from speculating as to the arrangements it had made for procuring the Apostle of the Gentiles, whose latest plans must already have been known to it, the reception it desired for him in the capital of the West. Not a word in the first fifteen chapters of the Epistle points to any conspiracy of slanderers whose wiles Paul was trying to expose; he merely contends indirectly against the ideas entertained by the Romans concerning him and his Gospel, without troubling himself as to their origin,—for in the end it could only be a question of the one constant source. Thus the Christians of Rome were told that Paul spurned the Law of God,68 that his teaching said ʽLet us do evil, that good may come,ʼ69 and that he directly encouraged sin in the name of Grace.70 He aroused reproach and astonishment as a Jew now hostile to the Jews: an apostate who delighted in proclaiming the exclusion of his own people from salvation71; and the wild jubilation, it may be, of a few fanatical Gentile Christians72 over this final settlement with the accursed Israel, did but wound and alienate the Jewish Christian minority and the friends of peace still more.

Who was there, under these circumstances, to undertake the defence of Paul and his gospel, if there was so little knowledge of him among the Christians of Rome, such a want of understanding on both sides of the essence of his teaching? The question would indeed be beside the mark, if Romans xvi. were genuine, and a large number of Paulʼs personal adherents, including Aquila and Prisca, were settled in Rome; in that case we should practically be reduced to seeking the motive for the Epistle in the fact that these had advised him to disarm the suspicions of the majority in the city, by a judicious and conciliatory letter, before he himself appeared, since they had as yet fought these suspicions in vain. But not a trace of the anxiety which Paul must in that case be assumed to have felt is to be found in Romans; only in chap. ix. does he show some anger at the thought of the gross misunderstanding which the charge against him of lack of patriotism implied, but even there he soon recovers the tone of the teacher, the prophet, the rapt interpreter of the mysteries of God: the rôle of defendant he does not assume.

The objects, then, of the Epistle to the Romans were: to announce Paulʼs approaching visit, to contradict certain natural but false suppositions as to the motive for this visit, and above all to prepare the ground for it skilfully and well. Paul wished to be received as brother and Apostle in the worldʼs capital—which he could ill do without as his base of operations for the conquest of the West—and not, as elsewhere, to find himself involved at the outset in vexatious wranglings. He set about his task in the right way: up to this time the Romans had judged him upon hearsay, but now they should learn what was the substance and the manner of his preaching, they should decide according to their Christian conscience whether what he offered them were ʽtidings great joyʼ or not, and whether they had been given a faithful or a false picture of him and of his fundamental ideas. They were not of those who clung to the Law on principle; they recognised as clearly as he the universality of salvation; and therefore Paul was confident that after reading his Epistle—even if they did not understand it all—they would no longer be able to deny him the possession of the Spirit, but that they must feel the plenteous influence therein of ʽspiritual gifts.ʼ And in truth Paul could not have acted with greater skill. This Epistle probably fulfilled its task better than any of his others, for here the whole man is revealed to us. In chaps. i—iv. we have the Rabbinical schoolman, in viii. and xi. the inspired poet, in xiii. and xiv. the sober, careful director of conduct, and in ix. the bold thinker who follows out to its logical conclusion the argument which makes all things begin and end in God. The Romans would not be able to disregard such a man or to lock their hearts against him, unless they had previously determined to make no terms with him whatever. A small knot of irreconcilables may even yet have remained, but the community proper looked up to Paul as their Apostle from the moment this Epistle reached them.

 

 

1) i, 1-7.

2) i, 18-iii. 20.

3) iii. 21-viii. 39.

4) i. 18-32,

5) ii. 1-iii. 20.

6) iii, 21-30.

7) iii. 31-iv, 25.

8) Gen. xv. 6.

9) v. 1-11.

10) v. 12-21,

11) vi. 1-14,

12) vi. 15-23.

13) vii. 1-6.

14) vii. 7-25,

15) viii. 1-39;

16) ix. 1-5.

17) ix. 6-13.

18) ix. 14-29.

19) ix, 30-x. 21.

20) xi. 1-10.

21) xi. 11-36.

22) xii. 1 and 2.

23) xii. 3-21.

24) xiii. 1-7.

25) xiii. 8-10.

26) 11-14,

27) xv. 14-33.

28) xvi. 3-23.

29) ʽAnd I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, and was hindered hithertoʼ; cf. Acts xix. 21.

30) Vv. 18-23.

31) xv. 24 and 28.

32) xv. 25 fol.

33) xx. 3.

34) xvi. 1.

35) E.g., xv. 30-33 and xvi. 1 and 2.

36) xvi. 25-27.

37) xvi. 7.

38) Cf. Lk. xviii. 8.

39) Ver. 7 fol.

40) Vv. 16-20.

41) Ver. 20.

42) Ver. 15.

43) Ver. 31.

44) Ver: 5.

45) Vv. 3 fol.

46) xvi. 19; and cf. 2. Tim. iv. 19.

47) Ver..13,

48) Ver. 16.

49) Ver. 5.

50) 1. Cori xvi. 19.

51) Vv. 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 13.

52) Vv. 17-20:

53) xvi. 22.

54) Cf. 2. Cor. xi. 23.

55) i.14 fol.

56) xiv. fol.

57) xiv. 13 and 19; cf. xv. 1 and 2.

58) xiv. 13, κρίνατε; 16, ὑμῶν τὸ ἀγαθόν κ.τ.λ.; xv. 5, 6, 7.

59) xiii. 1-7

60) xv. 25-28.

61) ii, 17.

62) iv. 1.

63) iv. 12, ix. 10, iii. 9, vii. 5 and 6.

64) Rom. xv. 20.

65) Cf. Acts xviii. 2.

66) xiv. 2.

67) xiv. 5.

68) iii. 31, vii. 7.

69) iii. 8.

70) vi. 1 and 15.

71) Chaps. ix.-xi.

72) xi. 13.