VINCENT'S WORD STUDIES
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Robertson's Word Pictures in the NT - Greek NT
Superscription (vers. 1, 2). Dr. Morison observes that the superscription is peerless for its wealth of theological idea.
Others find in the name an expression of humility, according to Paul's declaration that he was "the least of the apostles" (1 Cor. xv. 9). Others, an allusion to his diminutive stature; and others again think that he assumed the name out of compliment to Sergius Paulus, the deputy of Cyprus. Dean Howson, while rejecting this explanation, remarks: "We cannot believe it accidental that the words 'who is also called Paul,' occur at this particular point of the inspired narrative. The heathen name rises to the surface at the moment when St. Paul visibly enters on his office as the apostle of the heathen. The Roman name is stereotyped at the moment when he converts the Roman governor."
A servant (doulov). Lit., bond-servant or slave. Paul applies the term to himself, Gal. i. 10; Philip. i. 1; Tit. i. 1; and frequently to express the relation of believers to Christ. The word involves the ideas of belonging to a master, and of service as a slave. The former is emphasized in Paul's use of the term, since Christian service, in his view, has no element of servility, but is the expression of love and of free choice. From this stand-point the idea of service coheres with those of freedom and of sonship. Compare 1 Cor. vii. 22; Gal. iv. 7; Eph. vi. 6; Philemon 16.
On the other hand, believers belong to Christ by purchase (1 Corinthians vi. 20; 1 Pet. i. 18; Eph. i. 7), and own Him as absolute Master. It is a question whether the word contains any reference to official position. In favor of this it may be said that when employed in connection with the names of individuals, it is always applied to those who have some special work as teachers or ministers, and that most of such instances occur in the opening salutations of the apostolic letters. The meaning, in any case, must not be limited to the official sense.
Called to be an apostle (klhtov apostolov). As the previous phrase describes generally Paul's relation to Christ, this expression indicates it specifically. "Called to be an apostle" (A.V. and Rev.), signifies called to the office of an apostle. 13 Yet, as Dr. Morison observes, there is an ambiguity in the rendering, since he who is simply called to be an apostle may have his apostleship as yet only in the future. The Greek indicates that the writer was actually in the apostolate - a called apostle. Godet, "an apostle by way of call."
Separated unto the gospel of God (ajfwrismenov eijv eujaggelion Qeou). Characterizing the preceding phrase more precisely: definitely separated from the rest of mankind. Compare Gal. i. 15, and "chosen vessel," Acts ix. 15. The verb means "to mark off (apo) from others by a boundary (orov)." It is used of the final separation of the righteous from the wicked (Matt. xiii. 49; xxv. 32); of the separation of the disciples from the world (Luke vi. 22); and of the setting apart of apostles to special functions (Acts xiii. 2). Gospel is an exception to the almost invariable usage, in being without the article (compare Apoc. xiv. 6); since Paul considers the Gospel rather as to its quality - good news from God - than as the definite proclamation of Jesus Christ as a Savior. The defining elements are added subsequently in vers. 3, 4. Not the preaching of the Gospel, but; the message itself is meant. For Gospel, see on superscription of Matthew.
Prophets. Not limited to the prophets proper, but including all who, in the Old Testament, have prophesied the Gospel - Moses, David, etc. Compare Heb. i. 1.
In the holy scriptures (en grafaiv agiaiv). Or, more strictly, in holy writings. The scriptures would require the article. See on John v. 47; ii. 22. Here again the absence of the article denotes the qualitative character of the phrase - books which are holy as conveying God's revelations. On agiov holy, see on Acts xxvi. 10. This is the only passage in which it is applied to scriptures.
With power (en dunamei). Lit., in power. Construe with was declared. He was declared or instated mightily; in a striking, triumphant manner, through His resurrection.
Spirit of holiness. In contrast with according to the flesh. The reference is not to the Holy Spirit, who is nowhere designated by this phrase, but to the spirit of Christ as the seat of the divine nature belonging to His person. As God is spirit, the divine nature of Christ is spirit, and its characteristic quality is holiness.
Resurrection from the dead (anastasewv nekrwn). Wrong, since this would require the preposition ejk from. Rev., correctly, of the dead Though this resurrection is here represented as actually realized in one individual only, the phrase, as everywhere in the New Testament, signifies the resurrection of the dead absolutely and generically - of all the dead, as exemplified, included, and involved in the resurrection of Christ. See on Philip. iii. 11
For obedience to the faith (eiv upakohn pistewv). Rev., unto obedience of faith. Unto marks the object of the grace and apostleship: in order to bring about. Obedience of faith is the obedience which characterizes and proceeds from faith.
Nations (eqnesin). Or Gentiles. Not geographically, contrasting the inhabitants of the world, Jew and Gentile, with the Jews strictly so called, dwelling in Palestine, but Gentiles distinctively, for whom Paul's apostleship was specially instituted. See on Luke ii. 32, and compare on 1 Peter ii. 9.
Called to be saints (klhtoiv agioiv). Or, saints by way of call. See on called to be an apostle, ver. 1. It is asserted that they are what they are called. The term agioi saints is applied to Christians in three senses in the New Testament. 1, As members of a visible and local community (Acts ix. 32, 41; xxvi. 10); 2, as members of a spiritual community (1 Corinthians i. 2; Col. iii. 12); 3, as individually holy (Eph. i. 18; Colossians i. 12; Apoc. xiii. 10).
Through Jesus Christ. As the medium of his thanksgiving: "As one who is present to his grateful thoughts; in so far, namely, as that for which he thanks God is vividly perceived and felt by him to have been brought about through Christ." Compare vii. 25; Col. iii. 17; Eph. v. 20. In penitence and in thanksgiving alike, Jesus Christ is the one mediator through whom we have access to God.
For you all (peri pantwn umwn). The preposition means rather concerning, about.
Is proclaimed (kataggelletai). The different compounds of the simple verb ajggellw to announce, are interesting. The simple verb occurs only at John xx. 18. 15 Anaggellein is to report with the additional idea of bringing tidings up to or back to the person receiving them. So John v. 15. The impotent man brought back information to the Jews. Compare Mark v. 14. So Christ will send the Comforter, and He will bring back to the disciples tidings of things to come. John xvi. 13-15. See Acts xiv. 27; 2 Corinthians vii. 7; 1 Pet. i. 12.
Apaggellein is to announce with a reference to the source from (apo) which the message comes So Matt. ii. 8; Acts xii. 14. Compare Luke vii. 22; viii. 34, Acts v. 22.
Kataggellein is to proclaim with authority, as commissioned to spread the tidings throughout, down among those that hear them, with the included idea of celebrating or commending. So here. Compare Acts xvi. 21; xvii. 3. Thus in ajnaggellein the recipient of the news is contemplated; in ajpaggellein the source; in kataggellein the relation of the bearer and hearer of the message. The first is found mostly in John, Mark, and Acts; the second in the Synoptists and Acts; the third only. in the Acts and Paul.
Throughout the whole world. Hyperbolical, but according with the position of the metropolitan church. Compare 1 Thess. i. 8.
To the end ye may be established (eiv to sthricqhnai umav). Not that I may establish you. The modest use of the passive leaves out of view Paul's personal part. For established, see on Luke xxii. 32; 1 Pet. v. 10. The word shows that he had in view their christian character no less than their instruction in doctrine.
Have some fruit (tina karpon scw). the phrase, compare ch. vi. 22. A metaphorical statement of what is stated literally in ver. 11. Not equivalent to bear fruit, but to gather as a harvest. Compare John iv. 36; Philip. i. 22; Col. i. 6. Fruit is a favorite metaphor with Paul. He uses it in both a good and a bad sense. See Rom. vii. 4, 5; vi. 22; Gal. v. 22.
Greeks - Barbarians. Gentiles without distinction. Paul takes the conventional Greek division of all mankind into Greeks and non-Greeks. See on Acts vi. 1. The question whether he includes the Romans among the Greeks or the Barbarians, is irrelevant.
The Gospel. Omit of Christ.
Power (dunamiv). Not merely a powerful means in God's hands, but in itself a divine energy.
First. Not principally, nor in preference to the Greek; but first in point of time. Compare John iv. 22; Rom. iii. 1; ix. 1; Matt. xv. 24.
In the Greek classics there appears an eternal, divine, unwritten principle of right, dwelling in the human consciousness, shaping both the physical and the moral ordering of the world, and personified as Themis (Qemiv). This word is used as a common noun in the phrase qemiv ejsti it is right (fundamentally and eternally), like the Latin fas est. Thus Homer, of Penelope mourning for Ulysses, qemiv ejsti gunaikov it is the sacred obligation of the wife (founded in her natural relation to her husband, ordained of heaven) to mourn ("Odyssey," 14, 130). So Antigone appeals to the unwritten law against the barbarity of refusing burial to her brother.
"Nor did I deem thy edicts strong enough, That thou, a mortal man, shouldst overpass The unwritten laws of God that know not change." SOPHOCLES, "Antigone," 453-455.
See, also, "Odyssey," 14, 91; Aristophanes, "Clouds," 140; "Antigone," 880.
This divine ordering requires that men should be shown or pointed to that which is according to it - a definite circle of duties and obligations which constitute right (dikh). 16 Thus what is dikaiov righteous, is properly the expression of the eternal Themis. While dikh and qemiv are not to be distinguished as human and divine, dikh has a more distinctively human, personal character, and comes into sharper definition. It introduces the distinction between absolute right and power. It imposes the recognition of a moral principle over against an absolutely constraining natural force. The conception of dikh is strongly moral. 17 Dikaiov is right; dikaiosunh is rightness as characterizing the entire being of man. There is a religious background to the pagan conception. In the Homeric poems morality stands in a relation, loose and undeveloped indeed, but none the less real, to religion. This appears in the use of the oath in compacts; in the fear of the wrath of heaven for omission of sacrifices; in regarding refusal of hospitality as an offense against Zeus, the patron of strangers and suppliants. Certain tribes which are fierce and uncivilized are nevertheless described as dikaioi righteous. "The characteristic stand-point of the Homeric ethics is that the spheres of law, of morals, and of religion are by no means separate, but lie side by side in undeveloped unity." (Nagelsbach).
In later Greek literature this conception advances, in some instances, far toward the christian ideal; as in the fourth book of Plato's "Laws," where he asserts that God holds in His hand the beginning, middle, and end of all things; that justice always follows Him, and punishes those who fall short of His laws. Those who would be dear to God must be like Him. Without holiness no man is accepted of God.
Nevertheless, however clearly the religious background and sanction of morality may be recognized, it is apparent that the basis of right is found, very largely, in established social usage. The word ethics points first to what is established by custom. While with Mr. Grote we must admit the peculiar emphasis on the individual in the Homeric poems, we cannot help observing a certain influence of social sentiment on morals. While there are cases like the suitors, Paris and Helen, where public opinion imposes no moral check, there are others where the force of public opinion is clearly visible, such as Penelope and Nausicaa. The Homeric view of homicide reveals no relation between moral sentiment and divine enactment. Murder is a breach of social law, a private and civil wrong, entailing no loss of character. Its penalty is a satisfaction to the feelings of friends, or a compensation for lost services.
Later, we find this social aspect of morality even more strongly emphasized. "The city becomes the central and paramount source of obligation. The great, impersonal authority called 'the Laws' stands out separately, both as guide and sanction, distinct from religious duty or private sympathy" (Grote). Socrates is charged with impiety because he does not believe in the gods of the state, and Socrates himself agrees that that man does right who obeys what the citizens have agreed should be done, and who refrains from what they forbid. 18 The social basis of righteousness also appears in the frequent contrast between dikh and bia, right and force. A violation of right is that which forces its way over the social sanction. The social conception of dikaiov is not lost, even when the idea is so apprehended as to border on the christian love of one's neighbor. There is a wrong toward the gods, but every wrong is not in itself such. The inner, personal relation to deity, the absolute and constraining appeal of divine character and law to conscience, the view of duty as one's right, and of personal right as something to be surrendered to the paramount claim of love - all these elements which distinguish the christian conception of righteousness - are thus in sharp contrast with a righteousness dictated by social claims which limit the individual desire or preference, but which leave untouched the tenacity of personal right, and place obligation behind legitimacy. 19 It is desirable that the classical usage of these terms should be understood, in order to throw into sharper relief the Biblical usage, according to which God is the absolute and final standard of right, and every wrong is a sin against God (Ps. li. 4). Each man stands in direct and primary relation to the holy God as He is by the law of His own nature. Righteousness is union with God in character. To the Greek mind of the legendary age such a conception is both strange and essentially impossible, since the Greek divinity is only the Greek man exaggerated in his virtues and vices alike. According to the christian ideal, righteousness is character, and the norm of character is likeness to God. This idea includes all the social aspects of right. Love and duty toward God involve love and duty to the neighbor. Here must be noted a peculiar usage of dikaiov righteous, and dikaiosunh righteousness, in the Septuagint. They are at times interchanged with ejlehmosunh mercy, and eleov kindness. The Hebrew chesed kindness, though usually rendered by eleov, is nine times translated by dikaiosunh righteousness, and once by dikaiov righteous. The Hebrew tsedakah, usually rendered by dikaiosunh, is nine times translated by ejlehmosunh mercy, and three times by eleov kindness. Compare the Heb. and Sept. at Deut. vi. 25; xxiv. 13 (15); Genesis xix. 19; xxiv. 27. This usage throws light on the reading dikaiosunhn, Rev., righteousness (kindness?), instead of ejlehmosunhn mercy, A.V., alms, Matt. vi. 1. Mr. Hatch ("Essays in Biblical Greek") says that the meaning kindness is so clear in this passage that scribes, who were unaware of its existence, altered the text. He also thinks that this meaning gives a better sense than any other to Matt. i. 19 "Joseph, being a kindly (dikaiov, A.V., just) man." 20
Dikaiosunh righteousness, is therefore that which fulfills the claims of dikh right. "It is the state commanded by God and standing the test of His judgment; the character and acts of a man approved of Him, in virtue of which the man corresponds with Him and His will as His ideal and standard" (Cremer).
The medium of this righteousness is faith. Faith is said to be counted or reckoned for righteousness; i.e., righteousness is ascribed to it or recognized in it. Rom. iv. 3, 6, 9, 22; Gal. iii. 6; Jas. ii. 23. In this verse the righteousness revealed in the Gospel is described as a righteousness of God. This does not mean righteousness as an attribute of God, as in ch. iii. 5; but righteousness as bestowed on man by God. The state of the justified man is due to God. The righteousness which becomes his is that which God declares to be righteousness and ascribes to him. Righteousness thus expresses the relation of being right into which God puts the man who believes. See further, on justified, ch. ii. 13. Is revealed (apokaluptetai). Emphasizing the peculiar sense in which "righteousness" is used here. Righteousness as an attribute of God was revealed before the Gospel. Righteousness in this sense is a matter of special revelation through the Gospel. The present tense describes the Gospel in its continuous proclamation: is being revealed.
From faith to faith (ek pistewv eiv pistin). Rev., by faith unto faith. According to the A.V. the idea is that of progress in faith itself; either from Old to New Testament faith, or, in the individual, from a lower to a higher degree of faith; and this idea, I think, must be held here, although it is true that it is introduced secondarily, since Paul is dealing principally with the truth that righteousness is by faith. We may rightly say that the revealed righteousness of God is unto faith, in the sense of with a view to produce faith; but we may also say that faith is a progressive principle; that the aim of God's justifying righteousness is life, and that the just lives by his faith (Gal. ii. 20), and enters into "more abundant" life with the development of his faith. Compare 2 Cor. ii. 16; iii. 18; iv. 17; Romans vi. 19; and the phrase, justification of life, Rom. v. 18.
THE BEGINNING OF THE DISCUSSION.
The wrath of God (orgh Qeou). Not punishment, but the personal emotion. See on John iii. 36.
Ungodliness and unrighteousness (asebeian kai adikian).
Irreligiousness and immorality. See on godliness, 2 Pet. i. 3; also 2 Peter ii. 13.
Hold (katecontwn). Not possess: compare ver. 21. Rev., correctly, hold down; i.e., hinder or i. Compare 2 Thessalonina ii. 6, 7; Luke iv. 42.
The truth. Divine truth generally, as apparent in all God's self-revelations.
In them. In their heart and conscience. The emphasis should be on in. Thus the apparent tautology - what is known is manifest - disappears.
Are clearly seen (kaqoratai). We have here an oxymoron, literally a pointedly foolish saying; a saying which is impressive or witty through sheer contradiction or paradox. Invisible things are clearly visible. See on Acts v. 41. Illustrations are sometimes furnished by single words, as glukupikrov bittersweet; qrasudeilov a bold coward. In English compare Shakespeare:
"Dove-feathered raven, fiend angelical; Beautiful tyrant, wolfish-ravening lamb."
"Glad of such luck, the luckless lucky maid."
Godhead (qeiothv). Rev., better, divinity. Godhead expresses deity (qeothv). qeiothv is godhood, not godhead. It signifies the sum-total of the divine attributes.
So that they are (eiv to einai). The A.V. expresses result; but the sense is rather purpose. The revelation of God's power and divinity is given, so that, if, after being enlightened, they fall into sin, they may be without defense.
Without excuse (anapologhtouv). See on answer, 1 Pet. iii. 15. Only here and ch. ii. 1.
Became vain (emataiwqhsan). Vain things (mataia) was the Jews' name for idols. Compare Acts iv. 15. Their ideas and conceptions of God had no intrinsic value corresponding with the truth. "The understanding was reduced to work in vacuo. It rendered itself in a way futile" (Godet). Imaginations (dialogismoiv). Rev., better, reasonings. See on Matthew xv. 19; Mark vii. 21; Jas. ii. 4.
Foolish (asunetov). See on sunetov prudent, Matt. xi. 67, and the kindred word sunesiv understanding, Mark xii. 33; Luke ii. 47. They did not combine the facts which were patent to their observation.
Heart (kardia). The heart is, first, the physical organ, the center of the circulation of the blood. Hence, the seat and center of physical life. In the former sense it does not occur in the New Testament. As denoting the vigor and sense of physical life, see Acts. xiv. 17; Jas. v. 5; Luke xxi. 34. It is used fifty-two times by Paul.
Never used like yuch, soul, to denote the individual subject of personal life, so that it can be exchanged with the personal pronoun (Acts ii. 43; iii. 23; Rom. xiii. 1); nor like pneuma spirit, to denote the divinely-given principle of life.
It is the central seat and organ of the personal life (yuch) of man regarded in and by himself. Hence it is commonly accompanied with the possessive pronouns, my, his, thy, etc.