Romans: Intro and Chapter i.

December 30, 2010

Written in A.D. 58, the seventh of St. Paul’s fourteen epistles.  Placed first because of the preeminence of the church at Rome (Catharinus) and its exact and detailed treatment of many important doctrines, especially the fundamental doctrine of the grace of faith (Augustine, Theodoretus).

Two parts: Dogmatic (chapters i-xi), Pastoral (xii-xvi).

Question dealt with in the dogmatic part: The issue of grace and works of the law, namely, whether or not salvation is given to the Jews alone, on account of the merits of the works of the law.  St. Paul shows that both Gentiles (ch. i) and Jews (ch. 2) have sinned and need a Redeemer, Christ, by faith in whom all men may be justified and saved.

Chapter 1



1) Paul greets the Romans, expresses his wish to see them and preach to them.  2) v. 16, he teaches that the Gospel and faith of Christ are the power of God unto salvation for all believers.  3) v. 18, he teaches that all the Gentiles before Christ worshiped idols, although they recognized the existence of the one true God, and therefore fell into abominable wickedness.  Accordingly, all before Christ sinned and were subject to the wrath of God, and therefore all need the Gospel and the faith and grace of Christ the Redeemer.

4. Who – Christ as man (as God he always existed and so was not “predestinated”)

4. According to – Latin secundum taken for per, “through, by” (C’s paraphrase: “It was predestined and defined by God that the man Christ should be the Son of God, not in weakness and humility, as He appeared at the beginning in being born, living and dying, but in the power and glory of His resurrection – that is, by His rising from the dead, accomplished by the Spirit of sanctification).

5. C’s paraphrase: “by whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith by the spreading of the Gospel among all the nations for the glory of His name.”

8. through Jesus Christ – the mediator between God and men.

9. in my spirit – that is, not in the ceremonies of the Jews; cf. St. John iv. 23: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth.”

12. that I may be comforted – i.e. by strengthening the Roman Christians, v. 11.

14. I am a debtor – St. Paul is obliged to discharge the office he has received from God – cf. I. Cor. ix. 16, “for woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel.”

15. i.e. “I am extremely eager to preach the Gospel to you.”

16.  I am not ashamed of the Gospel, as are the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles, to whom the Cross is a foolishness and a scandal, I. Cor. i. 23.

17. the justice of God – the divine justice whereby God justifies us through Christ and saves us (St. Augustine).

17. from faith unto faith – a) passing from the Jewish faith to the Christian (St. Anselm); b) passing from the beginnings of faith to higher and more proficient faith, growing in holiness (Pererius et. al.).

17. The just man liveth by faith – quote from Habacuc ii. 4.  The just man, by believing, begins to live a spiritual life of reliance on God; by increasing his faith and hope he grows in holiness and the spiritual life, so that he becomes more and more pleasing to God.

18. For – transition: the Gospel is necessary for salvation because of the wrath of God against all ungodliness and injustice.

19. in them – i.e. in the wicked men of v. 18.  Answers possible objection: “How can the Gentiles have detained the truth of God in injustice, if they did not know it” – they should have known it and ought to have known it, because He manifested it unto them in his creation, see v. 20.

20. being understood by the things that are made – God is therefore able to be known, not from the terms themselves, as 1+2=3, but in the sense that one who considers creation will gather the existence of God the creator.  [C.f. the infallible definition of the First Vatican Council, 1870, Dei Filius, particularly ch. 2 “On revelation” and the first canon on revelation: “If anyone says that the one true God … cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, or by the natural light of human reason, let him be anathema.”]

21. became vain in their thoughts – worshipped idols (v. 23).

23. i.e. worshipped idols and in so doing worshipped demons with the worship due solely to God (latria).

24. unto uncleanness – the sins of fornication, adultery and sodomy.  See v. 27.

27. receiving in themselves the recompense – as the Gentiles perverted the order of nature by turning away from their creator to idolatry, so as a consequence they were permitted by God to pervert nature in the act of generation (St. Anselm).  Thus idolatry is the cause of lust (cf. Wisdom iv. 12); the punishment of infidelity, impiety and heresy is monstrous lusts, because without faith, there is no grace; and without God’s grace chastity is impossible.  Furthermore, infidelity and heresy arise from pride, and the punishment of pride is lust – if a man’s mind is subject to God (=humility), his passions will be subject to his will (=chastity); if it is not (=pride), they will not (=lust).

32. did not understand – that is, did not wish to understand.


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