Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Called to be an apostle, or a called apostle. That is, not only having the name of an apostle, but having his call to this high function, and his mission from God. — Separated unto the gospel of God. He means that he was separated from others, and appointed by the Holy Ghost to preach the gospel, as we read Acts xiii. 2. when the Holy Ghost to those of the Church at Antioch, said, Separate me Saul and Barnabas, for the work unto which I have taken them. (Witham)
Ver. 2. Which he had promised before, &c. That is, God before, in the Scriptures, promised the blessings, which are now come by the preaching of the gospel, and that they should come by his Son. (Witham)
Ver. 3. Who was made to him of the seed of David, according to the flesh. The sense is, that God promised, that he who was his true and only Son from eternity, should also become his son, as man; that the same son should be man, as well as God, when the word was made flesh, or when that divine person should be united to our human nature. Thus the same person, who was his only begotten Son from eternity, being made man, and of the seed of David, by his incarnation, was still his Son, both as God, and also as man. (Witham) — The Greek text has not the particle ei, (to him) but only tou genomenou ek spermatos David. But St. Irenęus, (lib. iii. chap. 18.) St. Ambrose, St. Jerome read, Qui factus est ei. And also St. Augustine in his unfinished exposition of the epistle to the Romans; though before in his book against Faustus, (lib. xi. chap. 14.) he reads it otherwise. (Calmet)
Ver. 4. Who was predestined the Son of God. The learned bishop of Meaux, Bossuet, in his second Pastoral Instruction, in which he condemned the French translation of Mons. Simon, (p. 127.) takes notice, that according to St. Paul, and the constant doctrine of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, Christ as man, or the human nature of Christ united to his divine person, was predestinated without any precedent merits, by a free and liberal predestination of God’s goodness. (Witham) — Christ, as man, was predestinated to be the Son of God; and declared to be so (as the apostle here signifies) first by power, that is, by his working stupendous miracles; secondly, by the spirit of sanctification, that is, by his infinite sanctity; thirdly, by his resurrection, or raising himself from the dead. (Challoner)
Ver. 5. By whom, i.e. by this same Jesus Christ, God and man, we, I and the rest of the apostles, have received this grace and apostleship, this mission and commission from him, of preaching his gospel, and teaching his doctrine. — For obedience to the faith in all nations; that is, to bring all nations to the obedience and profession of his new law and doctrine. (Witham)
Ver. 6. Among whom are you also the called of Jesus. That is, you also are a part of those, who by his mercy, are called to this faith and belief in him. All beginning from those words in the third verse, who was made to him, &c. till the end of the sixth verse, are to be taken as within a parenthesis, which is not unusual in the style of St. Paul. Then he goes on after this long parenthesis. (Witham)
Ver. 7. To all that are at Rome…called to be saints. That is, who not only are named saints, but who by such a call from God, are to be sanctified by his grace, and to become holy, or saints. (Witham)
Ver. 8. In the whole world. That is, to all, or almost all the Roman empire. (Witham)
Ver. 9. God is my witness. I call God to witness. It is an oath. (Witham)
Ver. 14. I am a debtor. That is, I am bound to preach the word of God to all. (Witham) — By Greeks, in this place, are understood the Romans also, and by Barbarians, all other people who were neither Greeks nor Romans. The Greeks called all barbarians, who did not speak the Greek language, even the Latins themselves. But after the Romans became masters of the world, they were excepted, through policy, from the number of barbarians, and particularly after they began to cultivate the science of the Greeks.
Gręcia victa ferum victorem cepit, et artes
Intulit agresti Latio.
— St. Paul says, that he is a debtor both to Greeks and barbarians, to the wise, the philosophers, those who pass for sages amongst the pagans, and to the simple, ignorant, unlettered class of mankind: not that he had received any thing at their hands, but because it was his duty, in quality of apostle, to address himself to the whole world, and preach to the great and to the small, to the learned and the unlearned. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. St. Paul was even anxious to go and deliver the word to the Romans. Hence Mat. Polus, in his reflections on this verse, puts the following words into the mouth of the Apostle: Lucifuga non sum: ostendi id Antiochię, Athenis, Ephesi et Corinthi: paratus sum & in illa splendidissima urbe Roma ostendere.
Ver. 16. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one; that is, it brings powerful helps to all, both Gentiles and Jews, in order to their salvation. — To the Jew first, inasmuch as the gospel is to be first preached to the Jews. (Witham) — The promises of salvation were first made to the Jews. Jesus Christ preached to the Jews only, and forbad his disciples, during his life-time, to preach to any other nation. And after his resurrection, when they had full powers to preach every where, they did not turn to the Gentiles, till the Jews had refused to hear them. A miracle was necessary to determine St. Peter to communicate the gospel to the uncircumcised; and St. Paul, in every place, first addressed himself to the Jew, and then to the Gentile. The apostle here sweetly endeavours, in an indirect manner, to silence the presumption of the Romans, who seemed to raise themselves above the Jews, and believed they had merited the grace of vocation to the faith. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. For the justice of God. He does not here mean that justice, by which God is just in himself, but that justice, or sanctification, which he communicates to men, and by which they are justified and sanctified. — From faith to faith. That is, by faith, and an increase in faith, inasmuch as, by increasing in faith, we advance in virtues; as it is written, (Habacuc ii. 4.) the just man liveth by faith; including the love of God, hope, and other virtues. (Witham)
Ver. 18. For the wrath of God is revealed, &c. He begins to speak of the heathens, and of the wicked world, whose sins God punisheth from time to time with visible chastisements of plagues, famines, wars, &c. and that because they detain the truth of God in injustice, or in iniquity, that is, because they have not honoured God, even according to the knowledge which he has given them of him, especially their philosophers. (Witham)
Ver. 19-20. That which is known of God. Or may be easily known of God, is manifest in them. The light of reason demonstrates to them the existence of one God, the maker and preserver of all things. This is made known to them from the creation of the world, or from the creatures in the world: the Creator may be discovered by the creatures, and as St. Chrysostom here says, every Scythian, every barbarian, may come to the knowledge of God by the wonderful harmony of all things, which proclaims the existence of God louder than any trumpet: but having known him, they did not glorify him; they acted contrary to their knowledge, abandoning themselves to idolatry, and the vain worship of many gods, and to all manner of vices and abominations against the light of reason. (Witham)
Ver. 24. Wherefore God gave them up, &c. That is, as St. Chrysostom says, permitted them, in punishment of their wilful blindness, to fall into the foulest, most shameful, and unnatural sins of uncleanness here described. (Witham)
Ver. 26. God delivered them up. Not by being author of their sins, but by withdrawing his grace, and so permitting them, in punishment of their pride, to fall into those shameful sins. (Challoner)
Ver. 27. Receiving in themselves the recompense…due to their error. That is, were justly punished for their wilful blindness and error, by which they had worshipped and adored creatures, instead of the Creator, idols instead of the one true God. (Witham)
Ver. 29. Being filled with all iniquity. He passeth to many other sins and crimes of the heathens. (Witham)
Ver. 30. Hateful to God. The Greek may also signify, haters of God. (Witham) — theostugeis means either haters of God, or hated by God. (Menochius) — Disobedient to parents. The Greek literally signifies, Not listening to the advice of their parents; who rise up against them, and refuse to obey. (Calmet)
Ver. 31. Dissolute, rude in their manners, and behaviour. Some, from the Greek, understand breakers of their word; but this would be the same as without fidelity, which we find afterwards in the same verse. (Witham)
Ver. 32. This passage in the present Greek versions is rather different from the Vulgate: but the text of the Vulgate is conformable to the most ancient Greek manuscripts, of which some are more than twelve hundred years old. Oitines to dikaioma tou theou epignontes ouk enoesan oti oi ta toiauta prassontes axioi thanatou eisin, ou monon de oi poiountes auta, alla kai oi suneudokountes tois prassousin. See Var. Lect. Mill. in hunc locum et Prolegom. 41. 42.
 Ver. 1. Vocatus, kletos Apostolos. Also ver. 6. and 7. kletoi.
 Ver. 4. Qui prędestinatus est. St. Chrysostom, om. a. p. 7. Ed. Sau. ti oun estin oristhentos; deichthentos, apophanthentos.
 Ver. 20. St. Chrysostom, hom. ii. p. 20. tes panton armonias salpiggos, lamproteron booses.
 Ver. 24. to de paredoken, entautha eiasen esti.
 Ver. 30. Deo odibiles. theostugeis.
 Ver. 31. asunthetous. See 2 Timothy iii. 3. aspondous, sine fœdere.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
He commends the faith of the Romans, whom he longs to see. The philosophy of the heathens, being void of faith and humility, betrayed them into shameful sins.
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
2 Which he had promised before by his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
3 Concerning his Son, who was made to him of the seed of David, according to the flesh,
4 Who was predestinated the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of sanctification, by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead:
5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith, in all nations for his name,
6 Among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ:
7 To all that are at Rome, the beloved of God, called to be saints. Grace to you, and peace from God, our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First I give thanks to my God, through Jesus Christ, for you all, because your faith is spoken of in the whole world.
9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that, without ceasing, I make a commemoration of you
10 Always in my prayers: beseeching, if by any means I may at length have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, in coming to you.
11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual grace, to strengthen you:
12 That is to say, that I may be comforted together in you, by that which is common to us both, your faith and mine.
13 And I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that I have often purposed to come to you, (and have been hindered hitherto) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.
14 To the Greeks, and to the Barbarians, to the wise, and to the unwise, I am a debtor:
15 So (as much as is in me) I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are at Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and to the Greek.
17 For the justice of God is revealed therein from faith to faith: as it is written: *The just man liveth by faith.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, against all impiety and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice.
19 Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it to them.
20 For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made: his eternal power also and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.
21 *Because that, when they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, or give thanks: but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened:
22 For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
23 *And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God, into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things.
24 Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, *to uncleanness: to dishonour their own bodies among themselves.
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie: and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature.
27 And, in like manner the men also, leaving the natural use of the woman, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error.
28 And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge; God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient,
29 Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers,
30 Detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy.
32 Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they, who do such things, are worthy of death: and not only they who do them, but they also who consent to them that do them.
17: Habacuc ii. 4.; Galatians iii. 11.; Hebrews x. 38.
21: Ephesians iv. 17.
23: Psalm cv. 20.; Jeremias xi. 10.
24: Galatians v. 19.; Ephesians iv. 19. and v. 3.; Colossians iii. 5.; 1 Thessalonians ii. 3. and iv. 7.