I. Salutation


The salutation of this epistle is longer than that of any other of the Pauline epistles. The reason may reside in the fact that the apostle had not founded nor had he yet visited the church at Rome (cf. 1:10, 11, 13; 15:22). We may not overlook, however, the strongly polemic character of this epistle. Another salutation, that of the epistle to the Galatians, is likewise of considerable length and it is apparent that the polemic of this epistle prescribed the contents of the salutation. It is highly probable that both considerations, the fact that he was unknown by face to the church at Rome and the necessity of setting forth at the outset the subject matter of the gospel so as to set the points for the polemic that is to follow, dictated the character and contents of this salutation.

v. 1, 2 In most of his epistles Paul begins with the appeal to his apostolic office (1 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1). But in this instance (cf. Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:1) he begins by identifying himself as "A servant of Jesus Christ". The reading Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, though supported by B and a fourth century fragment of Rom. 1:1-7, can scarcely be adopted against the testimony in favour of the reading followed in the version. It is not to be supposed that his purpose in doing this was to place himself at the outset in the same category as those to whom he is writing (cf. 1 Cor. 7:22; Eph. 6:6; 1 Pet. 2:16). Paul was preeminently humble and called himself "less than the least of all saints" (Eph. 3:8). But the purpose of calling himself "a servant of Jesus Christ" is to avow at the outset the completeness of his commission by and commitment to Christ Jesus as Lord. He was not undertaking to write this epistle at his own charges; he is the servant of Christ. It is from the Old Testament that we are to derive the significance of this title "servant". Abraham (cf. Gen. 26:24; Ps. 105:6, 42), Moses (cf. Numb. 12:7, 8; Deut. 34:5; Josh. 1:1, 2, 7; Ps. 105:26), David (cf. 2 Sam. 7:5, 8; Isa. 37:35), Isaiah (cf. Isa. 20:3), the prophets (cf. Amos 3:7; Zech. 1:6) were the servants of the Lord. This high conception of dependence upon and commitment to the Lord the apostle here applies to his service of the Lord Jesus Christ and indicates that he has no hesitation in placing Christ Jesus in the position of "the Lord" in the Old Testament. It also shows the view of Christ credited to his Roman readers; he is commending himself to them as the servant of Christ Jesus.

Paul's identification of himself as an apostle in this salutation, as in all others except Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon, indicates the importance which Paul attached to his apostolic office. For an expanded study of the term ἀπόστολος cf. the article by Karl Heinrich Rengtstorf in Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament ed. Kittel and the English translation of the same by J. R. Coates under the title Apostleship (London, 1952). On occasion, when circumstances required it, he vigorously defended his apostleship (cf. 1 Cor. 9:1, 2; 2 Cor. 12:11-13; Gal. 1:1, 15-17). This consciousness of commission and authority as inherent in the apostolic office reflects the unique position occupied by the apostolate in the institution of Christ (cf. Matt. 16:17-19; 19:28; Luke 22:29, 30; John 16:12-14; 20:21-23; Acts 1:2-8, 15-26; Eph. 2:20). It is for this reason that apostolic teaching and preaching are invested with the authority of Christ and of the Holy Spirit.

There were certain qualifications indispensable for an apostle (cf. John 15:16, 27; Acts 1:21; 2:32; 3:15; 10:39-41; 26:16, 17; 1 Cor. 9:1, 2; 15:8; 2 Cor. 12:11-13; Gal. 1:1, 12). It is to the pivotal qualification that Paul refers in this instance when he says "called to be an apostle" (cf. 1 Cor. 1:1). Call and apostleship go together; it is by call that he became an apostle. And the call is the effectual appointment by which he was invested with the apostolic functions. It is the consciousness of authority derived from this appointment that alone explains and warrants the authority with which the apostle spoke and wrote (cf. 1 Cor. 5:4, 5; 7:8, 12, 17, 40; 14:37, 38; 2 Thess. 3:10, 12, 14).

"Separated unto the gospel of God" is parallel to "called to be an apostle". The separation here spoken of does not refer to the predestination of Paul to the office, as in Galatians 1:15, but to the effectual dedication that occurred in the actual call to apostleship and indicates what is entailed in the call. No language could be more eloquent of the decisive action of God and of the completeness of Paul's resulting commitment to the gospel. All bonds of interest and attachment alien or extraneous to the promotion of the gospel have been cut asunder and he is set apart by the investment of all his interests and ambitions in the cause of the gospel. It is, of course, implied that the gospel as a message is to be proclaimed and, if we were to understand the "gospel" as the actual proclamation, dedication to this proclamation would be an intelligible and worthy conception. However, the word "gospel" is not used in the sense of the act of proclaiming; it is the message proclaimed. And this is stated to be "the gospel of God" (cf. Mark 1:14). Perhaps the thought could be more aptly expressed in English by saying, "separated unto God's gospel". The stress falls upon the divine origin and character of the gospel. It is a message of glad tidings from God, and it never loses its divinity, for it ever continues to be God's message of salvation to lost men.

In verse 2 Paul shows his jealousy for the unity and continuity of the gospel dispensation with the Old Testament. The gospel unto which he had been separated is not a message which broke de novo upon the world with the appearing of Christ and the ministry of the apostles. It was that which God "promised afore through his prophets in holy scriptures". It was characteristic of the Lord himself in the days of his flesh to appeal to the Old Testament and particularly significant in this connection is Luke 24:25-32, 44-47. The apostles followed the same pattern. In this epistle we shall find that a very considerable part of Paul's argument in support of his major thesis is drawn from the Old Testament. Here at the outset, when he is about to enunciate the subject matter of the gospel unto which he has been separated as a called apostle, he is careful to remind his readers that the revelation of the gospel has its roots in extant "holy scriptures".

When Paul says "promised afore" he does not mean to suggest that the disclosures given of old pertained exclusively to that which would be fulfilled and become effective in the fulness of time. This supposition would be inconsistent with what we shall find later on, especially in chapter 4. The gospel was efficacious for those who received it in the form of promise. Nevertheless, the promise feature of the Old Testament revelation must be fully appreciated and it is upon the distinction between promise and fulfilment that the accent falls in this instance. Extant Scriptures contained the gospel in promise; the subject matter with which the apostle is going to deal is the gospel in fulfilment of that promise.

It would not be feasible to limit the term "prophets" in this verse to those who were more restrictively and officially prophets. All who wrote of Christ are construed as prophets (cf. Luke 24:27; Acts 2:30). In this verse also it is probably more accurate to render the last clause as "in holy scriptures" rather than "in the holy scriptures". The quality of Scripture as "holy" is emphasized and the Scriptures are distinguished from all other writings by their character as holy. The stress also falls upon the fact that the promises exist as such only in the Scriptures. There are therefore two conclusions respecting the apostle's estimate of Scripture. (1) There was for Paul a body of writings possessed of unique quality and authority, distinguished from all other writings by their sacredness—they were truly sacrosanct. (2) He did not distinguish between the promise of which the prophets were the mediaries, on the one hand, and the holy Scriptures, on the other. It is in holy Scriptures that the promise is embodied. God gave promise of the gospel through his prophets; but it is in the Scriptures that this promise is given—the inscripturated Word is the word of promise. It ought to be apparent how here, as later on (cf. especially 3:2), Paul's conception of the relation which God's revelatory Word sustains to Scripture differs radically from that of the dialectical theology. It is significant that Karl Barth in his The Epistle to the Romans passes over these statements of the apostle without assessing the conception of Holy Scripture implicit in them.

v. 3, 4 These two verses inform us of that with which the promise had been concerned. But since that which had been promised is the gospel of God we must infer that these verses also define for us the subject matter of the gospel unto which the apostle had been separated; the gospel is concerned with the Son of God. When we read: "concerning his Son", it is necessary to determine that to which this title refers as it applies to him who is identified at the end of the passage as "Jesus Christ our Lord" (vs. 4). There are good reasons for thinking that in this instance the title refers to a relation which the Son sustains to the Father antecedently to and independently of his manifestation in the flesh. (1) Paul entertained the highest conception of Christ in his divine identity and eternal preexistence (cf. 9:5; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:19; 2:9). The title "Son" he regarded as applicable to Christ in his eternal preexistence and as defining his eternal relation to the Father (8:3, 32; Gal. 4:4). (2) Since this is the first occasion in which the title is used in this epistle, we should expect the highest connotation to be attached to it. Furthermore, the connection in which the title is used is one that would demand no lower connotation than that which is apparent in 8:3, 32; the apostle is stating that with which the gospel as the theme of the epistle is concerned. (3) The most natural interpretation of verse 3 is that the title "Son" is not to be construed as one predicated of him in virtue of the process defined in the succeeding clauses but rather identifies him as the person who became the subject of this process and is therefore identified as the Son in the historical event of the incarnation. For these reasons we conclude that Jesus is here identified by that title which expresses his eternal relation to the Father and that when the subject matter of the gospel is defined as that which pertains to the eternal Son of God the apostle at the threshold of the epistle is commending the gospel by showing that it is concerned with him who has no lower station than that of equality with the Father. The subject matter of the gospel is the person who is on the highest plane of reality. Paul had already indicated his unreserved dedication to the service of Christ Jesus (vs. 1) and to the apostolic office. In this title "Son" is the explanation why this service demands nothing less than unreserved dedication to the gospel; it is not only God's gospel but its subject matter is God's eternal Son.

The clauses which follow obviously comprise a series of parallels and contrasts. "Born" (vs. 3) corresponds to "declared" (vs. 4); "according to the flesh" (vs. 3) corresponds to "according to the Spirit of holiness" (vs. 4); "of the seed of David" (vs. 3) appears to correspond to "by the resurrection from the dead" (vs. 4.) While the correspondences, parallels, and implied contrasts cannot be overlooked, yet we may also lay overstress upon them so as to reach an artificial result.

In the history of interpretation this parallelism has been most frequently interpreted as referring to the differing aspects of or elements in the constitution of the person of the Saviour. Sometimes the distinguished aspects have been thought to be within the human nature of Christ, the physical contrasted with the spiritual. Cf. Heinrich A. W. Meyer: Über den Brief des Paulus an die Römer (Göttingen, 1872) ad Rom. 1:4. "This πνεῦμα ἁγιωσ. is, in contradistinction to the σάρξ, the other side of the being of the Son of God on earth; and, just as the σάρξ was the outward element perceptible by the senses, so is the πνεῦμα the inward mental element, the substratum of His νοῦς (1 Cor. 2:16), the principle and power of His INNER life, the intellectual and moral 'Ego' which receives the communication of the divine—in short, the ἔσω ἄνθρωπος of Christ" (E. T., Edinburgh, 1876, I, p. 46). See also William Sanday and Arthur C. Headlam: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (New York, 1926) ad Rom. 1:3, 4: "κατὰ σάρκα... κατὰ πνεῦμα are opposed to each other, not as 'human' to 'divine,' but as 'body' to 'spirit,' both of which in Christ are human, though the Holiness which is the abiding property of His Spirit is something more than human" (p. 7). By others the distinguished aspects have been regarded as the two distinct natures in the person of Christ, the human and the divine, "flesh" designating the former and "Son of God... according to the Spirit of holiness" the latter. It cannot, of course, be doubted that "born of the seed of David according to the flesh" has reference to the incarnation of the Son of God and therefore to that which he became in respect of his human nature. But it is not at all apparent that the other expression "Son of God... according to the Spirit of holiness" has in view simply the other aspect of our Lord's person, namely, that which he is as divine in contrast with the human. There are good reasons for thinking that this type of interpretation whereby it is thought that reference is made to the distinguished aspects of our Lord's human nature or of our Lord's divine-human person is not the line to be followed but that the distinction drawn is that between "two successive stages" of the historical process of which the Son of God became the subject. I am indebted to Geerhardus Vos for opening up this perspective in the interpretation of the passage. See his "The Eschatological Aspect of the Pauline Conception of the Spirit" in Biblical and Theological Studies (New York, 1912), pp. 228-230. His words are: "The reference is not to two coexisting sides in the constitution of the Saviour, but to two successive stages in his life: there was first a γενέσθαι κατὰ σάρκα, then a ὁρισθῆναι κατὰ πνεῦμα. The two prepositional phrases have adverbial force: they describe the mode of the process, yet so as to throw emphasis rather on the result than on the initial act: Christ came into being as to his sarkic existence, and he was introduced by ὁρισμός into his pneumatic existence. The ὁρίζειν is not an abstract determination, but an effectual appointment; Paul obviously avoids the repetition of γενομένου not for rhetorical reasons only, but because it might have suggested, even before the reading of the whole sentence could correct it, the misunderstanding that at the resurrection the divine sonship of Christ as such first originated, whereas the Apostle merely meant to affirm this late temporal origin of the divine sonship ἐν δυνάμει, the sonship as such reaching back into the state of preexistence. By the twofold κατά the mode of each state of existence is contrasted, by the twofold ἐκ the origin of each. Thus the existence κατὰ σάρκα originated 'from the seed of David', the existence κατὰ πνεῦμα originated 'out of resurrection from the dead'" (p. 229). This exegesis of Rom. 1:3, 4 is reproduced in Vos's The Pauline Eschatology (Princeton, 1930), pp. 155 f. n. This view is in thorough agreement with the apostle's purpose in defining the subject matter of the gospel. The reasons for adopting this interpretation will become apparent as we proceed with the exposition.

(1) "Born of the seed of David." Whether we render thus or, more literally, "made of the seed of David" (cf. also Gal. 4:4), the clause points to an historical beginning. The subject of this beginning, it should be carefully noted, is the person who had just been identified in his divine and eternal preexistence as the Son of God; it is the Son of God, viewed in his intradivine identity as the Son, who is said to have been born of the seed of David. Hence, even in verse 3, the Saviour is not viewed merely as human, though it is the assumption of human nature that is reflected on when he is said to have been born. Jealousy for the eternal sonship of Christ does not eclipse the apostle's jealousy for the historical beginning of which the Son was the subject, and neither does the emphasis upon the historical in any way prejudice the reality of the eternal sonship. Here we have unmistakable emphasis upon the coexisting aspects of our Lord's person as the incarnate Son, and of particular significance is the fact that this emphasis is already clearly enunciated in verse 3 before ever we come to the contrast expressed in verse 4.

In specifying "the seed of David" there is indicated the added interest of establishing our Lord's genealogy from David. The apostle had a view to Old Testament prophecy and to its vindication in the fulfilment of its promises.

(2) "According to the flesh." In the usage of the New Testament, when applied to Christ, the denotation cannot be other than human nature in its entirety (cf. John 1:14: Rom. 9:5; Eph. 2:14; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 5:7; 10:20; 1 Pet. 3:18; 4:1; 1 John 4:1; 2 John 7). In this respect I am compelled to reject the interpretation of those who find in κατὰ σάρκα a reference simply to the bodily aspect of our Lord's human nature and I agree with those who regard it as designating human nature in its completeness, though I diverge from these same interpreters when they maintain that κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης refers to our Lord's divine nature as contrasted with the human. There may be particular emphasis upon the physical and sensuous, as is apparent in some of these instances cited. But it is not possible in the light of the evidence provided by such usage to regard a contrast as instituted between what was physical and what was non-physical. Hence the thought reflected upon in verse 3 is that which the Son of God became in respect of human nature—he was born of the seed of David. (3) "Who was declared to be the Son of God with power." The word rendered "declared" is the word which elsewhere in the New Testament means to "determine", "appoint", "ordain" (Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; 10:42; 11:29; 17:26, 31; Heb. 4:7). In none of these instances does it mean to "declare". It might be possible to derive the meaning "declare" from its use in the sense of "mark out" or "mark out the boundaries". In this way Christ could be said to be marked out as the Son of God. Frequently in the LXX ὅρια means boundaries or borders and the same use appears in the New Testament (cf. Matt. 2:16; 4:13; 8:34; 15:22, 39; 19:1; Mark 5:17; 7:24, 31; 10:1; Acts 13:50). ὁρίζν is used in the LXX in the sense of marking out or defining the boundaries (cf. Numb. 34:6: Joshua 13:27; 15:12; 18:20; 23:4). But this process of thought by which to arrive at the meaning "declared" is unnecessary and has little to commend it. There is neither need nor warrant to resort to any other rendering than that provided by the other New Testament instances, namely, that Jesus was "appointed" or "constituted" Son of God with power and points therefore to an investiture which had an historical beginning parallel to the historical beginning mentioned in verse 3. It might appear that this encounters an insuperable objection; Jesus was not appointed Son of God; as we found, he is conceived to be the eternal Son, and this sonship had no historical beginning. But this objection has validity only as we overlook the force of the expression "with power". Notwithstanding the weight of exegetical opinion in favour of construing ἐν δυνάμει with ὁρισθέντος rather than with υἱοῦ Θεοῦ (cf., e.g., Meyer, Sanday and Headlam, Henry Alford, F. Godet), there appears to be no compelling reason for this construction. 2 Cor. 13:4, appealed to by Sanday and Headlam as decisive, does not present a close enough parallel to determine the question. Since ἐν δυνάμει stands so closely with υἱοῦ Θεοῦ and since the construction adopted fits admirably with the exegesis as a whole, there is no good reason for adopting the other view (cf., for support, Philippi: op. cit., ad loc.; Vos: op. cit.; J. Gresham Machen: The Virgin Birth of Christ, New York, 1930, p. 261; R. C. H. Lenski: The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, Columbus, 1936, ad loc.; J. P. Lange: The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, E. T., New York, 1915, ad loc.; and, most recently, C. K. Barrett: A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, New York, 1957, ad loc.). It must be said, however, that even if construed with ὁρισθέντος this does not rule out the interpretation given above of the verse as a whole. For, in that event, the emphasis would fall upon the power exercised in Jesus' instatement in this new phase of his lordship rather than upon the power possessed and exercised by Jesus as the Son of God in his resurrection status and glory. To emphasize the power exercised and demonstrated in the resurrection and in the investiture which followed is likewise consonant with that new phase upon which Jesus entered when, as the Son of God become man, he was exalted to the right hand of power. The apostle does not say that Jesus was appointed "Son of God" but "Son of God in power". This addition makes all the difference. Furthermore, we may not forget that already in verse 3 the Son of God is now viewed not simply as the eternal Son but as the eternal Son incarnate, the eternal Son subject to the historical conditions introduced by his being born of the seed of David. Hence the action with which verse 4 is concerned is one that has respect to the Son of God incarnate, and it is not only proper but altogether reasonable to regard it as another phase of the historical process which provides the subject matter of the gospel. The apostle is dealing with some particular event in the history of the Son of God incarnate by which he was instated in a position of sovereignty and invested with power, an event which in respect of investiture with power surpassed everything that could previously be ascribed to him in his incarnate state. What this event was and in what the investiture consisted will forthwith appear. And even if we associate the expression "in power" with the verb "appointed" rather than with the title "Son of God", this does not raise an insuperable obstacle to the interpretation in question. The apostle could still say that he was appointed Son of God with express allusion to the new phase of lordship and glory upon which Jesus as the incarnate Son entered by the resurrection without in the least implying that he then began to be the Son of God. The statement would be analogous to that of Peter, that by the resurrection God made Jesus "both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Peter cannot be understood to mean that then for the first time Jesus became Lord and Christ. He is referring to the new phase of his messianic lordship.

(4) "According to the Spirit of holiness." Difficulties encompass every interpretation of this expression because it occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Since it is parallel to "according to the flesh" in verse 3 and since the latter refers to the human nature of our Lord, it has been supposed that the term in question must have in view the divine nature. This does not follow. There are other contrasts which are relevant to the apostle's theme in these verses, and we are not shut up to this alternative. The expression "according to the Spirit of holiness" stands in the closest relation to "by the resurrection from the dead". The latter, it must not be forgotten, concerns Christ's human nature—only in respect of his human nature was he raised from the dead. This correlation with the resurrection from the dead, moreover, provides the clearest indication of the direction in which we are to seek the meaning of the expression in question. Just as "according to the flesh" in verse 3 defines the phase which came to be through being born of the seed of David, so "according to the Spirit of holiness" characterizes the phase which came to be through the resurrection. And when we ask what that new phase was upon which the Son of God entered by his resurrection, there is copious New Testament allusion and elucidation (cf. Acts 2:36; Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Pet. 3:21, 22). By his resurrection and ascension the Son of God incarnate entered upon a new phase of sovereignty and was endowed with new power correspondent with and unto the exercise of the mediatorial lordship which he executes as head over all things to his body, the church. It is in this same resurrection context and with allusion to Christ's resurrection endowment that the apostle says, "The last Adam was made life-giving Spirit" (1 Cor. 15:45). And it is to this that he refers elsewhere when he says, "The Lord is the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:17). "Lord" in this instance, as frequently in Paul, is the Lord Christ. The only conclusion is that Christ is now by reason of the resurrection so endowed with and in control of the Holy Spirit that, without any confusion of the distinct persons, Christ is identified with the Spirit and is called "the Lord of the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18). Thus, when we come back to the expression "according to the Spirit of holiness", our inference is that it refers to that stage of pneumatic endowment upon which Jesus entered through his resurrection. The text, furthermore, expressly relates "Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness" with "the resurrection from the dead" and the appointment can be none other than that which came to be by the resurrection. The thought of verse 4 would then be that the lordship in which he was instated by the resurrection is one ail-pervasively conditioned by pneumatic powers. The relative weakness of his pre-resurrection state, reflected on in verse 3, is contrasted with the triumphant power exhibited in his post-resurrection lordship. What is contrasted is not a phase in which Jesus is not the Son of God and another in which he is. He is the incarnate Son of God in both states, humiliation and exaltation, and to regard him as the Son of God in both states belongs to the essence of Paul's gospel as the gospel of God. But the pre-resurrection and post-resurrection states are compared and contrasted, and the contrast hinges on the investiture with power by which the latter is characterized.

The significance of historical progression in the messianic achievements of our Lord and of progressive realization of messianic investiture is hereby evinced. What signalizes this progression is the resurrection from the dead. Everything antecedent in the incarnate life of our Lord moves toward the resurrection and everything subsequent rests upon it and is conditioned by it. This is the subject matter of the gospel of God and it is that with which prophetic promise was engaged. The apostle clinches and fixes all the points of his summation of the gospel by the combination of titles with which, at the conclusion of verse 4, he identifies the person who is himself the gospel, "Jesus Christ our Lord". Each name has its own peculiar associations and significance. "Jesus" fixes his historical identity and expresses his saviourhood. "Christ" points to his official work as the anointed. "Lord" indicates the lordship to which he is exalted at the right hand of the Father in virtue of which he exercises all authority in heaven and in earth. The historical and the official, commitment and achievement, humiliation and exaltation are all signalized in the series of titles by which the Son of God is hereby designated.

v. 5 The mediation of Christ is something upon which the apostle will reflect again and again throughout this epistle. Here we find it for the first time. Christ is the person through whom the grace and apostleship received have been mediated. In using the plural "we received" it is not likely that he is referring to other apostles as well as to himself. Still less may we suppose that he is including other companions in labour, such as Timothy and Silvanus (cf. Phil. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1). These could not have been regarded as having received apostleship. The plural "we" could have been used as the "plural of category" when the apostle refers simply to himself. He lays stress upon his apostleship to the Gentiles in this context, and this singularity would appear to be required at this point. "Grace and apostleship" could mean the grace of apostleship. It is more likely, however, that "grace" is here the more general unmerited favour of God. The apostle was never forgetful of the grace and mercy by which he had been saved and called into the fellowship of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10; Gal. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:13-16; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 3:5-7). The grace exemplified in salvation was not, however, in Paul's case to be conceived of apart from the apostolic office to which he had been separated. They were not separated in Paul's conversion experience on the road to Damascus (cf. Acts 26:12-18), a fact reflected on in his epistles (cf. 15:15, 16; Gal. 1:15, 16; 1 Tim. 1:12-16). This is an adequate reason why both the generic and the specific should be so closely conjoined in this instance (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10). There are several expositors including, for example, Calvin and Philippi who regard "grace" in this instance as the grace of apostleship and therefore as more specific. It is true that χάρις is quite frequently used by the apostle in the sense of a particular gift, the grace given for the exercise of a particular function or office (cf. 12:6; 1 Cor. 3:10; 2 Cor. 1:15; 8:6, 7, 19; Gal. 2:9; Eph. 3:8; 4:7; see also 1 Cor. 16:3 and possibly Rom. 15:15; 2 Cor. 8:1). The closest parallel in construction to "grace and apostleship" here would be 2 Cor. 8:4 where Paul speaks of "the grace and the fellowship of the ministry which is unto the saints". Even though "grace" here is to be taken most likely, if not certainly, in the specific sense, yet it is to be distinguished from "the fellowship" and may not suitably be construed as the grace of the fellowship in ministering to the saints.

The purpose for which he received grace and apostleship is stated to be "unto obedience of faith among all the nations". "Obedience of faith" could mean "obedience to faith" (cf. Acts 6:7; 2 Cor. 10:5; 1 Pet. 1:22). If "faith" were understood in the objective sense of the object or content of faith, the truth believed, this would provide an admirably suitable interpretation and would be equivalent to saying "obedience to the gospel" (cf. 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8; 3:14). But it is difficult to suppose that "faith" is used here in the sense of the truth of the gospel. It is rather the subjective act of faith in response to the gospel. And though it is not impossible to think of obedience to faith as the commitment of oneself to what is involved in the act of faith, yet it is much more intelligible and suitable to take "faith" as in apposition to "obedience" and understand it as the obedience which consists in faith. Faith is regarded as an act of obedience, of commitment to the gospel of Christ. Hence the implications of this expression "obedience of faith" are far-reaching. For the faith which the apostleship was intended to promote was not an evanescent act of emotion but the commitment of wholehearted devotion to Christ and to the truth of his gospel. It is to such faith that all nations are called.

Whether "all the nations" is to be understood as comprising Jews and Gentiles or, more restrictively, only the Gentile nations is a question on which it is impossible to be decisive. The same difficulty appears in 16:26 and perhaps also in 15:18. Most frequently in Paul's letters "nations" is used of the Gentiles as distinguished from the Jews (cf. 2:14, 24; 3:29; 9:24, 30; 11:11; 11:25; 15:9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 27; 1 Cor. 1:23; 5:1). Paul is thinking here of his own apostleship and since he is the apostle of the Gentiles and glories in that fact (11:13; cf. Acts 26:17, 18; Gal. 1:16; 2:7-9) there is much more to be said in favour of the view that here the Gentile nations are in view. As the apostle of the Gentiles his office is directed specifically to the promotion of the faith of the gospel among the Gentile nations (cf. 1:13).

"For his name's sake." This should preferably be taken with the design stated in the preceding words—it is for Christ's sake that the obedience of faith is to be promoted. It is well to note the orientation provided by this addition. It is not the advantage of the nations that is paramount in the promotion of the gospel but the honour and glory of Christ. And the ambassador of Christ must have his own design in promoting the gospel oriented to this paramount concern—his subjective design must reflect God's own antecedent and objective design.

v. 6 The believers at Rome were examples of the fruit accruing from the promotion of the gospel—"among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ". The use of the word "called" in this connection is significant. Paul had previously drawn attention to the fact that it was by divine call that he had been invested with the apostolic office (vs. 1). Now we are advised that it was by the same kind of action that the believers at Rome were constituted the disciples of Christ. It is not probable that "called of Jesus Christ" indicates that Jesus Christ is conceived of as the author of the call. For uniformly God the Father is represented as the author (cf. 8:30; 11:29; 1 Cor. 1:9; 2 Tim. 1:9). They are the called of Jesus Christ in the sense of belonging to Christ inasmuch as they are called by the Father into the fellowship of his Son (1 Cor. 1:9).

v. 7 In verse 5, as has been noted, the apostle had in mind the promotion of the faith of the gospel among the Gentiles. In his salutation to the believers at Rome, The evidence in support of the reading ἐν Ῥώμῃ preponderates in favour of its retention. The same applies to vs. 15. however, he allows for no racial discrimination—all at Rome, whether Jews or Gentiles, are included. The particularization is defined not in terms of race but in terms of the differentiation which arises from God's grace. Those addressed are "beloved of God, called to be saints". In this instance he does not speak expressly of the church in Rome (cf. contra 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1). This does not mean that in Paul's esteem there was no church at Rome (cf. 12:5; 16:5); the omission of the term is merely a variation that appears in other epistles (cf. Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2). The characterization "beloved of God" Paul uses nowhere else in his salutations and only here does it occur in this precise form in the New Testament, though to the same effect is the form in Col. 3:12; 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13. The term "beloved" is a favourite one with the apostle to express the love that binds him to his brethren (cf. 12:19; 16:5, 8, 9, 12; 1 Cor. 4:14; 2 Cor. 7:1; 2 Tim. 1:2). "Beloved of God" points to the intimacy and tenderness of the love of God the Father, the embrace of his people in the bosom of his affection. It is the consciousness of this bond that binds the apostle to the saints at Rome. "Called to be saints" or "called as saints" places the emphasis upon the effectual character of the divine action by which believers became saints—it was by divine summons. They were effectually ushered into the status of saints. "Beloved of God" describes them in terms of the attitude of God to them. This is primary in the differentiation by which they are distinguished from others. "Called" describes them in terms of the determinate action of God by which his distinguishing love comes to effect. "Called to be saints" describes them in terms of the consecration which is the intent and effect of the effectual call. Though it is without doubt the idea of being set apart to God that is in the forefront in the word "saints", yet it is impossible to dissociate from the term the holiness of character which is the complement of such consecration. Believers are sanctified by the Spirit and, as will appear in the teaching of this epistle, the most characteristic feature of a believer is that he is holy in heart and manner of life.

The form of greeting adopted by the apostle is essentially Christian in character. "Grace" is, first of all, the disposition of favour on the part of God, but it would be arbitrary to exclude the concrete ways in which that disposition comes to expression in favour bestowed and enjoyed. The Pauline concept of "peace" cannot be understood except on the background of the alienation from God which sin has involved. Hence "peace" is the reconstituted favour with God based upon the reconciliation accomplished by Christ. The basic meaning is indicated in 5:1, 2. It is only as we appreciate the implications of alienation from God and the reality of the wrath which alienation evinces that we can understand the richness of the biblical notion of peace as enunciated here by the apostle. Peace means the establishment of a status of which confident and unrestrained access to the presence of God is the privilege. And peace with God cannot be dissociated from the peace of God which keeps the heart and mind in Christ Jesus (cf. Phil. 4:7). "Grace" and "peace", though necessarily distinguished, are nonetheless correlative in this salutation and sustain a close relation to each other even in respect of the concepts denoted. When taken in their mutual interdependence and relation we see the fulness of the blessing which the apostle invokes upon those addressed in his epistles (cf. 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:2; Col. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:2; Tit. 1:4; Phm. 3).

"From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." The following observations will indicate the rich import of this formula. (1) "God" is here the personal name of the first person of the trinity, the Father. This is characteristic of Paul's usage and will appear repeatedly throughout the epistle. This use of the title "God" must not be interpreted, however, as in any way subtracting full deity or Godhood from the other persons. "Lord" is frequently the personal name of Christ in distinction from the Father and the Spirit. But this in no way subtracts from the lordship or sovereignty of the other persons. These titles distinguish the persons from one another and as such they have great significance. But theologically they must not be construed as predicating Godhood only of the Father or lordship only of Christ. According to Paul's own testimony Christ is "God over all blessed for ever" (9:5) and in him dwells "the fulness of Godhood" (Col. 2:9). (2) It is the Father as distinguished from the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Father of believers. This is the uniform representation of the apostle. (3) The Father is not the Father of believers and of Christ conjointly. The uniqueness of Christ's sonship is jealously guarded. Christ is the Father's own Son and the distinctiveness of the relation is thereby intimated (cf. 8:3, 32). This is in accord with Jesus' own witness; never does he join with the disciples in addressing the Father as "our Father". And neither does he enjoin upon the disciples to approach the Father in the recognition of community with him in that relationship (cf. Matt. 5:45, 48; 6:9, 14; 7:11; Luke 6:36; 12:30; John 5:17, 18; 20:17). (4) The Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are conjointly the authors of the grace and peace which the apostle invokes. It is indicative of the dignity accorded to Christ that he should be represented as with the Father the source and giver of the characteristic blessings of redemption.