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Romans Commentary

Romans Commentary

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Published by glennpease

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Published by: glennpease on Sep 13, 2011
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BY THE REV. HADLEY C. G. MOULE, M. A., D. D.CHAPTER I.TIME, PLACE; AD OCCASIO.It is the month of February, in the year of Christ s8.* In a room in the house of Gaius,a wealthy Corinthian Christian, Paul the Apos-tle, having at his side his amanuensis Tertius,addresses himself to write to the converts of the mission at Rome.The great world meanwhile is rolling on itsway. It is the fourth year of ero; he is Con-sul the third time, with Valerius Messala for hiscolleague; Poppsea has lately caught the un-worthy Prince in the net of her bad influence.Domitius Corbulo has just resumed the war withParthia, and prepares to penetrate the high-lands of Armenia. Within a few weeks, in thefull spring, an Egyptian imposter is about to in-flame Jerusalem with his Messianic claim, tolead four thousand fanatics into the desert, andto return to the city with a host of thirtythousand men, only to be totally routed bythe legionaries of Felix. For himself, the Apos-tle is about to close his three months' stay atCorinth; he has heard of plots against his life,and will in prudence decline the more directroute from Cenchrea by sea, striking northwardfor Philippi, and thence over the .^gasan toTroas. Jerusalem he must visit, if possible, be-fore May is over, for he has by him the Greek collections to deliver to the poor converts of Jerusalem. Then, in the vista of his furthermovements, he sees Rome, and thinks with acertain apprehension, yet with longing hope,about life and witness there.A Greek Christian woman is about to visitthe City, Phoebe, a ministrant of the mission atCenchrea. He must commend her to the Ro-man brethren; and a deliberate Letter to themis suggested by this personal need.
His thoughts have long gravitated to the Cityof the World. ot many months before, atEphesus, when he had " purposed in the Spirit"to visit Jerusalem, he had said, with an em-phasis which his biographer remembered, " Imust also see Rome " (Acts xix. 21); " I must,"in the sense of a divine decree, which had writ-ten this journey down in the plan of his life.He was assured too, by circumstantial and per-haps by supernatural signs, that he had " nowno more place in these parts " (Rom. xv. 23) — that is, in the Eastern Roman world wherehitherto all his labour had been spent. TheLord, who in former days had shut Paul upto a track which led him through Asia Minorto the yEgsean, and across the Mgx3.r\ toEurope (Acts xvi.), now prepared to guide him,though by paths which His servant knew not,from Eastern Europe to Western, and beforeall things to the City. Amongst these provi-dential preparations was a growing occupationof the Apostle's thought with persons and in-terests in the Christian circle there. Here, aswe have seen, was Phoebe, about to take shipfor Italy. Yonder, in the great Capital, were* See Lewin, "Fasti Sacri," § 1854, etc.now resident again the beloved and faithfulAquila and Prisca, no longer excluded by theClaudian edict, and proving already, we mayfairly conclude, the central influence in themission, whose first days perhaps dated fromthe Pentecost itself, when Roman " strangers "(Acts ii. 10) saw and heard the wonders andthe message of that hour. At Rome also livedother believers personally known to Paul,drawn by unrecorded circumstances to theCentre of the world. " His well-beloved "Epaenetus was there; Mary, who had sometimestried hard to help him; Andronicus, and Junias,and Herodion, his relatives; Amplias andStachys, men very dear to him; Urbanus, whohad worked for Christ at his side; Rufus, nocommon Christian in his esteem, and Rufus'mother, who had once watched over Paul witha mother's love. All these rise before him as
he thinks of Phoebe, and her arrival, and thefaces and the hands which at his appeal wouldwelcome her in the Lord, under the holy free-masonry of primeval Christian fellowship.Besides, he has been hearing about the actualstate of that all-important mission. As " allroads led to Rome," so all roads led fromRome, and there were Christian travellerseverywhere (i. 8) who could tell him how theGospel fared among the metropolitan brethren.As he heard of them, so he prayed for them,"without ceasing" (i. 9), and made request toofor himself, now definitely and urgently, thathis way might be opened to visit them at last.To pray for others, if the prayer is prayerindeed, and based to some extent on knowl-edge, is a sure way to deepen our interest inthem, and our sympathetic insight into theirhearts and conditions. From the human side,nothing more than these tidings and theseprayers was needed to draw from St. Paul awritten message to be placed in Phoebe's care.From this same human side again, when heonce addressed himself to write, there were cir-cumstances of thought and action which wouldnaturally give direction to his message.He stood amidst circumstances most signifi-cant and suggestive in matters of Christiantruth. Quite recently his Judaist rivals had in-vaded the congregations of Galatia, and hadled the impulsive converts there to quit whatseemed their firm grasp on the truth of Justifi-cation by Faith only. To St. Paul this was nomere battle of abstract definitions, nor againwas it a matter of merely local importance. Thesuccess of the alien teachers m Galatia showedhim that the same specious mischiefs mightwin their way, more or less quickly, anywhere.And what would success mean? It would meanthe loss of the joy of the Lord, and the strengthof that joy, in the misguided Churches. Justi-fication by Faith meant nothing less than Christall in all, literally all in all, for sinful man's par-don and acceptance. It meant a profound sim-plicity of personal reliance altogether upon Himbefore the fiery holiness of eternal Law. It

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