Paul shows the Romans his Divine call to the apostleship, and for what end he was thus called, (vv. 1-6). His salutation to the Church at Rome, and his commendation of their faith, (vv. 7, 8). His earnest desire to see them, that he might impart to them some spiritual gifts, (vv. 9-15). His description of the Gospel of Christ, (vv. 16, 17). The crimes and profligacy of the Gentile world, which called aloud for the judgments of God, (vv. 18-32).
The epistle contains three grand divisions.
I. The PREFACE, (vv. 1-17).
II. The TRACTATION, or setting forth of the main subject, including two sections:
A. What relates to doctrine.
The dogmatic part is included in the first eleven chapters, the grand object of which is to show that eternal salvation cannot be procured by any observance of the Jewish law, and can be hoped for only on the Christian scheme; for by the works of the law no man can be justified; but what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God has accomplished by sending his Son into the world, who, becoming an offering for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.
B. What relates to the necessity and importance of the virtues and duties of the Christian life.
C. This part commences with 12:1:
“I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service, etc.;” and extends to 15:14.
III. The PERORATION or EPILOGUE which contains Paul’s apology for writing;
A. His commendation of his apostolic office; his promise to visit them;
B. His request of an interest in their prayers;
C. His commendations of certain persons, and his salutations to others.
These points are contained in the succeeding parts of the epistle, from 5:14 to 16:24. The 25th, 26th, and 27th verses (16:25-27) of this chapter evidently belong to another part of the epistle, and should come in, as they do in a vast majority of the best MSS., after 14:23.
For every thing necessary to a general knowledge of the epistle itself, see the preceding preface. The inscriptions to this epistle are various in the different MSS. and versions. The following are the principal:—To the Romans—The Epistle of Paul to the Romans—The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans—The Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Romans.