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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 Paul, a slave of Christ
Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God,
which he promised previously through his prophets
in the holy scriptures,
3 the gospel about his Son, descended from David
according to the flesh,
but established as Son of God in power
according to the spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus
Christ our Lord.
4 Through him we have received the grace of
apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name,
among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to
belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be
holy. 5 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the
Lord Jesus Christ.
First, I give thanks 6 to my
God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is heralded
throughout the world.
God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit
in proclaiming the gospel of his Son, that I remember you constantly,
7 always asking in my prayers that somehow by
God's will I may at last find my way clear to come to you.
For I long to see you, that I may share with
you some spiritual gift so that you may be strengthened,
that is, that you and I may be mutually
encouraged by one another's faith, yours and mine.
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, 8
that I often planned to come to you, though I was prevented until now, that I
might harvest some fruit among you, too, as among the rest of the Gentiles.
To Greeks 9 and non-Greeks
alike, to the wise and the ignorant, I am under obligation;
that is why I am eager to preach the gospel
also to you in Rome.
10 For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the
power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and
For in it is revealed the righteousness of God
from faith to faith; 11 as it is written, "The one who
is righteous by faith will live."
12 The wrath 13 of God 14
is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of
those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
For what can be known about God is evident to
them, because God made it evident to them.
Ever since the creation of the world, his
invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be
understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse;
for although they knew God they did not accord
him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their
reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.
While claiming to be wise, they became fools
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for
the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or
Therefore, God handed them over to impurity
through the lusts of their hearts 15 for the mutual
degradation of their bodies.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and
revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed
Therefore, God handed them over to degrading
passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural,
and the males likewise gave up natural
relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful
things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge
God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper.
They are filled with every form of wickedness,
evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite.
They are gossips
and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are
insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious
toward their parents.
They are senseless, faithless, heartless,
Although they know the just decree of God that
all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give
approval to those who practice them.
1 [1-7] In Paul's letters the
greeting or praescriptio follows a standard form, though with variations. It is
based upon the common Greco-Roman epistolary practice, but with the addition of
Semitic and specifically Christian elements. The three basic components are:
name of sender; name of addressee; greeting. In identifying himself, Paul often
adds phrases to describe his apostolic mission; this element is more developed
in Romans than in any other letter. Elsewhere he associates co-workers with
himself in the greeting: Sosthenes (1 Cor), Timothy (2 Cor; Phil; Phl) Silvanus
(1 Thes - 2 Thes). The standard secular greeting was the infinitive chairein,
"greetings." Paul uses instead the similar-sounding charis,
"grace," together with the Semitic greeting salom (Greek eirene),
"peace." These gifts, foreshadowed in God's dealings with Israel (see
⇒ Numbers 6:24-26), have been poured out abundantly
in Christ, and Paul wishes them to his readers. In Romans the Pauline
praescriptio is expanded and expressed in a formal tone; it emphasizes Paul's
office as apostle to the Gentiles. ⇒ Romans 1:3-4
stress the gospel or kerygma, ⇒ Romans 1:2 the
fulfillment of God's promise, and ⇒ Romans 1:1,
5 Paul's office. On his call, see
⇒ Gal 1:15-16; ⇒ 1 Cor
9:1; ⇒ 15:8-10; ⇒ Acts
9:1-22; ⇒ 22:3-16;
2  Slave of Christ Jesus: Paul
applies the term slave to himself in order to express his undivided allegiance
to the Lord of the church, the Master of all, including slaves and masters.
"No one can serve (i.e., be a slave to) two masters," said Jesus
(⇒ Matthew 6:24). It is this aspect of the
slave-master relationship rather than its degrading implications that Paul
emphasizes when he discusses Christian commitment.
3 [3-4] Paul here cites an early
confession that proclaims Jesus' sonship as messianic descendant of David (cf
⇒ Matthew 22:42; ⇒ 2 Tim
2:8; ⇒ Rev 22:16) and as Son of God by
the resurrection. As "life-giving spirit" (⇒ 1 Cor
15:45), Jesus Christ is able to communicate the Spirit to those who
believe in him.
4  Paul recalls his apostolic
office, implying that the Romans know something of his history. The obedience
of faith: as Paul will show at length in chs 6-8 and 12-15, faith in God's
justifying action in Jesus Christ relates one to God's gift of the new life
that is made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and
the activity of the holy Spirit (see especially ⇒ Romans
5  Called to be holy: Paul often
refers to Christians as "the holy ones" or "the saints."
The Israelite community was called a "holy assembly" because they had
been separated for the worship and service of the Lord (see ⇒ Lev
11:44; ⇒ 23:1-44). The Christian community
regarded its members as sanctified by baptism (⇒ Romans
6:22; ⇒ 15:16; ⇒ 1 Cor
6:11; ⇒ Eph 5:26-27). Christians are
called to holiness (⇒ 1 Cor 1:2;
⇒ 1 Thes 4:7), that is, they are called to make
their lives conform to the gift they have already received.
6  In Greco-Roman letters, the
greeting was customarily followed by a prayer. The Pauline letters usually
include this element (except Gal and 1 Tim, 2 Tim) expressed in Christian
thanksgiving formulas and usually stating the principal theme of the letter. In
2 Cor the thanksgiving becomes a blessing, and in Eph it is preceded by a
lengthy blessing. Sometimes the thanksgiving is blended into the body of the
letter, especially in 1 Thes. In Romans it is stated briefly.
7 [10-12] Paul lays the groundwork
for his more detailed statement in ⇒ Romans
15:22-24 about his projected visit to Rome.
8  Brothers is idiomatic for all
Paul's "kin in Christ," all those who believe in the gospel; it
includes women as well as men (cf ⇒ Romans 4:3).
9  Greeks and non-Greeks:
literally, "Greeks and barbarians." As a result of Alexander's
conquests, Greek became the standard international language of the
Mediterranean world. Greeks in Paul's statement therefore means people who know
Greek or who have been influenced by Greek culture. Non-Greeks were people
whose cultures remained substantially unaffected by Greek influences. Greeks
called such people "barbarians" (cf ⇒ Acts
28:2), meaning people whose speech was foreign. Roman citizens would
scarcely classify themselves as such, and Nero, who was reigning when Paul
wrote this letter, prided himself on his admiration for Greek culture. Under
obligation: Paul will expand on the theme of obligation in
⇒ Romans 13:8; ⇒ 15:1,
10 [16-17] The principal theme of the
letter is salvation through faith. I am not ashamed of the gospel: Paul is not
ashamed to proclaim the gospel, despite the criticism that Jews and Gentiles
leveled against the proclamation of the crucified savior; cf
⇒ 1 Cor 1:23-24. Paul affirms, however, that it is
precisely through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus that God's saving
will and power become manifest. Jew first (cf ⇒ Romans
2:9-10) means that Jews especially, in view of the example of Abraham
(Romans 4), ought to be the leaders in the response of faith.
11  In it is revealed the
righteousness of God from faith to faith: the gospel centers in Jesus Christ,
in whom God's saving presence and righteousness in history have been made
known. Faith is affirmation of the basic purpose and meaning of the Old
Testament as proclamation of divine promise (⇒ Romans
1:2; ⇒ 4:13) and exposure of the inability
of humanity to effect its salvation even through covenant law. Faith is the
gift of the holy Spirit and denotes acceptance of salvation as God's
righteousness, that is, God's gift of a renewed relationship in forgiveness and
power for a new life. Faith is response to God's total claim on people and
their destiny. The one who is righteous by faith will live: see the note on
⇒ Habakkuk 2:4.
[⇒ 1:18-⇒ 3:20] Paul aims
to show that all humanity is in a desperate plight and requires God's special
intervention if it is to be saved.
13 [18-32] In this passage Paul uses
themes and rhetoric common in Jewish-Hellenistic mission proclamation (cf
⇒ Wisdom 13:1-⇒ 14:31)
to indict especially the non-Jewish world. The close association of idolatry
and immorality is basic, but the generalization needs in all fairness to be
balanced against the fact that non-Jewish Christian society on many levels
displayed moral attitudes and performance whose quality would challenge much of
contemporary Christian culture. Romans themselves expressed abhorrence over
devotion accorded to animals in Egypt. Paul's main point is that the wrath of
God does not await the end of the world but goes into action at each present moment
in humanity's history when misdirected piety serves as a facade for
14  The wrath of God: God's
reaction to human sinfulness, an Old Testament phrase that expresses the
irreconcilable opposition between God and evil (see ⇒ Isaiah
9:11, ⇒ 16,
⇒ 18, ⇒ 20;
⇒ 10:4; ⇒ 30:27). It is
not contrary to God's universal love for his creatures, but condemns Israel's
turning aside from the covenant obligations. Hosea depicts Yahweh as suffering
intensely at the thought of having to punish Israel (⇒ Hosea
11:8-9). God's wrath was to be poured forth especially on the
"Day of Yahweh" and thus took on an eschatological connotation (see
⇒ Zephaniah 1:15).
15  In order to expose the depth
of humanity's rebellion against the Creator, God handed them over to impurity through
the lusts of their hearts. Instead of curbing people's evil interests, God
abandoned them to self-indulgence, thereby removing the facade of apparent
conformity to the divine will. Subsequently Paul will show that the Mosaic law
produces the same effect; cf ⇒ Romans 5:20;
⇒ 7:13-24. The divine judgment expressed here is
related to the theme of hardness of heart described in
⇒ Romans 9:17-18.
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