Romans

1:8-15

Introduction, 1:1-15

ii] Thanksgiving and personal explanation

Argument

Paul continues his letter with a thanksgiving, speaking of his desire to visit Rome in order to fulfill his apostolic commission to the Gentiles.

 
Issues

i] Context: See 1:1-7.

 

ii] Background: See 1:1-7. The Nomist heresy: Although Paul did not establish the Roman church, he does see himself as the apostle to the Gentiles and knows well that Rome is the center of the world (note Luke's perspective in Acts - the movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth - in reality, the center of the world = Rome). Paul may not have any personal knowledge of the Roman church, but he knows well that throughout the Gentile world his gospel has been maligned by the judaizers, members of the circumcision group, and that Rome, as with his own mission churches, has, as a consequence, suffered from the heresy of nomism.

Nomism is the heresy that law-obedience ["works of the law" - obedience to the law of Moses] is essential to restrain sin and shape holiness [sanctify] for the maintenance of right-standing before God [covenant compliance] and thus the appropriation of God's promised blessings [the promised blessings of the Abrahamic covenant = life = the gift of the holy Spirit, etc.]. Paul calls the nomist heretics in Rome "the weak", cf. 14:1-15:13.

It is likely that the heresy of nomism entered the Christian church through converted Pharisees who become members of the Jerusalem church. They would have been core members of the circumcision party. The Pharisees were infected by the heresy of nomism in that they knew that their standing as a Jew rested on divine grace, but that remaining true to that standing rested on obedience to the Law (ie., they were not technically legalists). Jesus constantly tried to expose the flaw in their thinking by revealing the idealistic demands of the Law. Although they were proficient at tithing mint and cumin, they were unable to obey the weightier matters of the Law and so needed to find another way to retain their standing as children of God and so appropriate the promised blessing of the covenant. The answer lay with divine mercy, the way of grace through faith.

Paul, serving as the exegete of Jesus, argues for a gospel that rests on the grace of God such that the full appropriation of the covenant promises is through faith (Christ's faithfulness and our faith response) apart from works of the law:

FAITH = RIGHTEOUSNESS = BLESSINGS = WORKS.

The nomists / judaizers / pietists / members of the circumcision party argue that:

FAITH = RIGHTEOUSNESS + WORKS = BLESSINGS.

In short, the nomists believed that law-obedience both restrains sin and progresses holiness for the appropriation of the promised Abrahamic blessings, which, for a believer, entails the fullness of life in Christ. These nomistic believers certainly understood that their salvation rested on the person and work of Christ appropriated by faith, although their notion of justification was probably limited to forgiveness. When it came to the appropriation of the promised blessings of the covenant, attention to the law of Moses was essential. For Paul, justification, being set right before God, of itself facilitates the totality of God's promised blessings.

 

iii] Structure: This passage, serving as an opening thanksgiving prayer, presents in four parts:

A thanksgiving for the Roman church, v8;

Constant prayer for Paul's intended visit, v9-10;

The purpose of Paul's intended visit, v11-13;

Paul's sense of obligation, v14-15.

 

iv] Interpretation:

As is typical of Paul's letters (except Galatians) he includes a thanksgiving to God for the life of the believers he is writing to, v8. Paul then reveals that the Roman believers are particularly in his prayers, v9-10, and that he desires to visit with them and both minister to them and be ministered to, v11-13. In v14-15 Paul outlines his missionary agenda as it relates to the Roman believers.

 
1:8

Paul continues his introduction, seeking to establish a personal link with the Roman believers, v8-15: i] Paul gives thanks for the believers in Rome, v8.

prwton adv. "first" - As there is no "second", possibly "from the very outset", Morris. "I want to begin by saying", Barclay.

men "-" - Used here for emphasis.

eucaristw pres. "I thank" - Not the usual "we thank", since Paul is getting personal at this point. The present tense is durative.

tw/ qew/ (oV) dat. "[my] God" - the God [of me]. Dative of direct object after the verb "to give thanks." An uncommon relational reference to the divine; a very bold statement for a Jew. The genitive mou, "of me / my", is relational.

dia + gen. "through [Jesus Christ]" - Expressing agency; "through, by means of." "Christ is, in a sense, the Mediator of the thanksgiving", O'Brien.

peri + gen. "for [all of you]" - Reference / respect, "concerning all of you", or advantage / representation, "on your behalf."

oJti "because" - that. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul gives thanks for the Roman believers.

hJ pistiV (iV ewV) "[your] faith" - the faith [of you]. "Faith" in what sense? Possibly "the faith as you hold it", Barrett, but better "faith" as that which defines a Christian. What is being reported is the presence of believers in Rome, cf. Cranfield. As already noted, this "faith", which defines a believer, is used by Paul with two linked ideas, the relative stress of each idea being determined by the context. There is the "faith" (belief, dependence, reliance, firmness) of the believer, and there is the "faith of Christ" (Christ's faithful submission to the will of God on the cross). So, the faith/faithfulness of Christ saves us, which faith/faithfulness we appropriate by faith. See Romans 3:22 where Paul breaks "faith" up into its two separate parts: the righteous reign of God, his putting all things right, is by means of pistewV Ihsou Cristou "the faith of Christ" to all touV pisteuontaV "those who have faith / who believe".

kataggelletai (kataggellw) pres. "is being reported" - is being proclaimed, announced. The present tense is durative, expressing an ongoing report of the impact of Christian ministry in Rome. "Your faith is renowned over all the world", Cassirer.

en + dat. "[all] over [the world]" - in [all the world]. Local, expressing sphere,. The phrase is a "pardonable hyperbole", Hunter.

 
v9

ii] Paul reveals the content of his prayer on behalf of the believers in Rome, namely his intended visit, constantly bringing them before the Lord, v9-10. In the Gk. as in the NIV, this and the next verse forms one sentence. It makes better sense if we break the two verses into two sentences, eg. "I call on God (..... parenthesis ......) as my witness, that I never stop praying for you. My unceasing prayer is this: that, somehow, God will .....", Junkins.

gar "-" - for. Here introducing an explanation of Paul's thanksgiving for the Roman believers, even a clarification. "Indeed, God is my witness - he to whom I render spiritual service by preaching the gospel of his Son - that I make mention of you unceasingly, ...." Cassirer.

martuV mou estin oJ qeoV "God ......... is my witness" - my God is witness. The position of martuV, "witness", is emphatic by position. Virtually an oath declaring that what Paul is about to say is true beyond measure. With an unverifiable inward motivation Paul will often call on God as his witness.

w|/ dat. pro. "whom" - The dative is probably adverbial, modal, expressing manner.

latreuw pres. "I serve" - I worship. Sometimes translated as "worship (adoration)", but this word refers to service, the service a slave gives to a master, or of the Levities to God. Here Paul is referring to his service of gospel ministry for God.

en + dat. "with [my whole heart] / in [spirit of me]" - in [the spirit of me]. Probably instrumental, expressing means; "by / with my spirit", ESV. Paul serves God with the totality of his being, his psyche +. See Cranfield for a full set of options for the meaning of pneumati, "S/spirit"The God whom I serve with every fibre of my being", Barclay.

en + dat. "in [preaching the gospel]" - in [the important news, gospel]. Here possibly instrumental, "by preaching the gospel", or local, "in the message/gospel", ie. "in my association with the gospel. The word "gospel" simply means "important message." "Preaching" is certainly in mind, but the totality of gospel ministry should be included. "In the gospel", Bruce.

tou uiJou (oV) gen. "of his Son" - The genitive may be treated as adjectival, possessive, in that the message belongs to the Son, or ablative, source / origin, in that the message emanates from the Son, or adverbial, reference / respect, in that the message concerns the Son.

wJV "how" - Virtually introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what God is able to give witness to, "God is my witness that I constantly remember you in my prayers", cf. ESV.

adialeiptwV adv. "constantly" - without ceasing. "Prayer as a conscious, continuous state of mind", Richard. "Without intermission", Morris.

uJmwn gen. pro. "[I remember] you" - [I make mention] of you. The genitive is verbal, objective; "about you."

 
v10

epi + gen. "in" - [always] at, on. Temporal use of the preposition; "at the time / on the occasion of", Zerwick.

twn proseucwn (h) gen. "[my] prayers" - the prayers [of me]. The genitive is verbal, subjective, "the prayers I offer", or adjectival, possessive.

pantote adv. "at all times" - always. "I always make mention of you in my prayers", Moffatt.

deomenoV (deomai) pres. pas. part. "and I pray" - asking, requesting, praying. The participle is adverbial, possibly modal, or instrumental, expressing means, even temporal, "while I pray", Longenecker. ; Paul unceasingly makes mention of his readers in his prayers by always asking that ....

ei + ind. "that" - if [perhaps]. Introducing a 1st class conditional clause where the condition is assumed to come true, which then as a whole serves as a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of Paul's prayer namely, that he may be able to visit Rome so that both he and the Romans "may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith."; "that = if somehow (pwV "perhaps" somewhat undermines the certainty of the clause, but is counted by hdh "already" and pote "at one time" = "now at last"), as is the case, by God's will to come to you, then now at last I will make may way to you" = "I constantly pray that at long last it may be God's will that a way should open up for me to visit you", Barclay.

hdh pote "now at last" - already at one time. Indicating an end of something. "Expressing the feeling that there has been enough time of waiting", Cranfield; "at long last", Barclay.

en + dat. "by [God's will]" - in [the will of God]. Instrumental, expressing means. Probably best reworked as a paraphrases; "I pray that God will make it possible for me to visit you if he wants me to", TH.

euodwqhsomai (erodow) fut. pas. "the way may be opened for me" - I will be led along the way, caused to prosper. "Be sped along my way", Moffatt, so "be granted the opportunity of visiting you", Cassirer.

elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "to come [to you]" - The infinitive is best taken as epexegetic explaining the hoped for content of God's will in the matter of the visit, namely, "that I come to you", but adverbial, result is possible.

 
v11

iii] Paul now explains why he wants to visit with the Roman believers, v11-13. Paul writes this letter to prepare for his visit to Rome in order that he might encourage their faith, attain "a harvest among" them, and "preach the gospel to you who are at Rome" (ie. communicate to them Paul's understanding of the gospel).

gar "-" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul prays that he might visit Rome, namely, "for I long to see you", Barclay.

epipoqw (eippoqew) pres. "I long" - I greatly desire. The prefix establishes the direction of the desire, "to you-ward", Sandy and Headlam. "Ardent desire", Jewett.

idein (eidon) aor. inf. "to see [you]" - The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of "desire greatly", but also with a cognitive verb such as "to greatly desire" the infinitive may be classified as introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what is desired. The object of the infinitive is uJmaV, "you".

iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Forming a purpose clause, "in order that", or hypothetical result, "so that .....", as NIV.

metadw (metadidwmi) aor. subj. "I may impart" - I may share, distribute, impart.

uJmin dat. pro. "to you" - Dative of indirect object, "to you" / interest, advantage, "for you / your benefit."

ti .... carisma .... pneumatikon "some spiritual gift" - certain ... gift [to you] spiritual, pertaining to the spirit. The adjective pneumatikon is unnecessary and so its presence is emphatic, so Dunn. The sense is unclear; impart something spiritual, eg. a gift, blessing??? Verse 12 may serve to clarify somewhat, so "encouragement", obviously by Paul's gospel ministry. Since Paul does not specify the "gift", a general sense is best, a "spiritual charisma [that] offers enrichment and consolidation for the faith", Jewett. So Morris: "the term is used here in the more general sense of anything that builds up the spiritual life."

eiV to + inf. "to" - to, into. This construction usually expresses purpose, "in order to ..." The subject of the infinitive is the accusative uJmaV, "you".

sthricqhnai (sthrizw) aor. inf. pas. "make [you] strong" - to establish, strengthen, support, make firm. "Strong" in what sense? Again, a general spiritual strengthening is in mind. "A personal visit will enable them mutually to be enriched, though Paul himself will need to be with them to determine their needs", Dumbrell, obv. spiritual needs which will be met by gospel instruction for their up-building / strengthening.

 
v12

touto de estin "that is" - this is. A very Pauline construction serving to introduce an explanation, "that is to say"; "I mean", Zerwick, although the presence of the conjunction "but/and" may indicate "a certain modification and progress" in the argument, Godet.

sumparaklhqhnai (sumparakalew) aor. pas. inf. "that you and I may be mutually encouraged" - to be encouraged together. The iJna + inf. construction of v11 is repeated, with iJna assumed, so forming a purpose clause, "in order that ...." Here taking the sense: "an inner strengthening of mind and spirit imparted by God", Black. The prefix sum indicates that Paul has in mind mutual encouragement, although the "with you" may put the stress on Paul's encouragement seeing he is the one who is going to be with them. None-the-less, it is more likely that the opposite is the case and that Paul is just being gracious. Paul has elsewhere stated that he is not into building on another's ministry, cf. 15:20. "What seems to have been in his mind is laying bare his gospel before them so that the clarifications in positions, theirs and his, which he will make in the letter, may be discussed and difficulties resolved before he sets out for Spain", Dumbrell.

en uJmin "-" - in you. The preposition en is possibly temporal, "while / when I am with you", or instrumental, "by meeting with you", Moffatt, or local, space, "among you", so Cranfield.

dia + gen. "by" - through, by means of [the faith in one another]. Instrumental; "by means of each other's faith."

uJmwn te kai emou "each others" - yours both and mine. A rather awkward phrase carrying the sense "each through the faith of the other", Morris. "In other words, that when I am with you we may receive mutual encouragement by one another's faith, yours and mine", Cassirer.

pistewV (iV ewV) "faith" - See v8.

 
v13

de "-" - but, and. Probably contrastive, "but I do not want ...", or transitional, introducing a step in the argument, in which case v13-15 should be taken together, "now I don't want you ..."

ou qelw "I do not want" - I do not wish [you]. Variant, unlikely, ouk oiomai, "I do not suppose", implies that the church was aware of his movements, cf. Metzger. "I want you to know brothers", Barclay.

agnoein (agnoew) aor. inf. "to be unaware" - to be ignorant [brothers]. The infinitive is usually classified as complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "want", although since qelw, "I want, will", is a cognitive verb, the infinitive may be taken to introduce a dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul does not want, namely, that his readers be unaware. Best stated positively; "I should like you to know", Zerwick.

oJti "that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul does not want his readers to be unaware of.

proeqemhn (protiqhmi) aor. "I planned" - I purposed, planned, intended, meant to [often]. A strong word implying a determined intention to visit the Roman church, not just wishful thinking, and this "often", ie. a longtime intention. The temporal adverb pollakiV , "often, frequently", is emphatic by position.

elqein (ercomai) aor. inf. "to come [to you]" - Again the infinitive, following a cognitive verb, may be classified as complementary, completing the sense of "purposed", or introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul planned.

kai "but" - and. Here as an adversative.

ekwluqhn (kwluw) aor. pas. "have been prevented from doing so" - I have been hindered. We do not know what has prevented Paul from undertaking this visit.

acri + gen. "until [now]" - up to, until [the present]. Temporal; of time up to a point. Does Paul think he is now free to make the visit? The genitive article, tou with the adverb "now, present" serves as a nominalizer. The phrase is idiomatic, as translated by the NIV.

iJna + subj. "in order that" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose.

scw (ecw) aor. subj. "I might have" - I may have [also some fruit among you]. "That I might achieve some results", Zerwick.

tina karpon "a harvest" - some kind of fruit. "Harvest" implies converts, but surely Paul has in mind the harvest of righteousness, a Christian community that rests wholly on Christ's atonement, apart from the law, and thus, as a consequence, a community that is able to present their bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, 12:1.

kai "-" - and. Here adjunctive; "that I may also have among you."

en + dat. "among [you" - in [you]. Here expressing association, "with you", but possibly space/sphere, "among you."

kaqwV "even as" - Comparative; "as, just as."

kai "-" - and. Adjunctive; "as also among the rest of the Gentiles."

loipoiV dat. adj. "[the] other [Gentiles]" - [among] the remaining, other, rest. This statement seems to indicate that the Roman church is primarily Gentile. This would be most likely, given that there had been a purge of Jews from Rome in earlier years. None-the-less, some Jewish believers are likely to be members, and the issue that Paul confronts in this letter, namely nomism, is very much a Jewish heresy which has infiltrated the church and infected some Gentile believers.

 
v14

iv] Paul speaks of his obligation, under God, to minister the gospel to the Gentiles, which indebtedness motivates him to minister the gospel in Rome, v14-15.

eimi ofeilethV (hV ou) "I am obligated" - I am a debtor. Presumably "I am obligated to preach the gospel to ..." (although this is not what Paul says), which is why Paul is keen to preach the gospel in Rome, cf. v15, so Morris, Moo ["his apostolic vocation to the Gentiles", Schreiner], not so Jewett. Paul's obligation stems from his calling as an apostle, particularly as apostle to the Gentiles, although in preaching it is always Jew first and then Gentile.

te kai "both ..... and" - A coordinating construction.

ellhsin .... barbaroiV dat. "[both] to Greeks and [non]-Greeks" - [both] to Greeks [and] to Foreigners. A dative of indirect object, the direct object, "to preach the gospel", is assumed; emphatic by position. Paul is probably drawing on the common designation of civilized and uncivilized, ie. Greco-Roman and Barbarian. Paul, as apostle to the Gentiles, is obligated to exercise his apostolic gospel ministry to the Gentiles, both Greco-Roman and Barbarian ("Jews and Barbarians", Dumbrell, is unlikely). He now looks forward to ministering to the center of the civilized world.

sofoiV te kai anahtoiV dat. "both to the wise and the foolish" - Dative of indirect object. "From the cultured to the savage."

 
v15

ouJtwV adv. "that is why" - thus / so. Possibly expressing manner, "in this manner", Jewett, but it may well be inferential here.

to kat eme proqumon "I am so eager" - as far as it depends on me [I am] eager. The Grammar is complex and prompts numerous translations. i] to kat eme may be the subject and proqumon the predicate, so "I, so far as it rests with me [under God], am eager". The infinitive euaggelisasqai "to preach the gospel" would be complementary, completing the sense of "am eager / willing / able", so Sandy and Headlam; ii] The whole phrase may function as the subject, "thus, the eagerness on my part", with the infinitive euaggelisasqai functioning as the predicate, "my eager desire", Cranfield; iii] to kat eme may be adverbial, limiting "am eager", with egw understood, "thus I, so far as it rests with me, am eager to preach ...", so Godet, Meyer, Jewett. iv] kata + acc. can serve as "a circumlocution for the possessive, or subjective genitive", being used in the NT to limit pronouns, cf. BDF, and this governing the articular infinitive to ....... euaggelisasqai in an accusative infinitive construction. "I am absolutely ready to preach the wonderful news", Junkins. Apart from the syntax, Paul's point is simple enough; "and that's why I can't wait to get to you in Rome, preaching this wonderful good news of God", Peterson.

kai "also" - [to preach] also [to you the ones in Rome]. Adjunctive; "also".

uJmin dat. "to you" - Dative of indirect object.

toiV dat. "who [are at Rome]" - the ones [in Rome]. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase "in Rome" into an attributive relative clause limiting "you", dative in agreement with "you"; "to you who are in Rome."

 

Romans Introduction.

 

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