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The Epistle to the Romans (New International Commentary on the New Testament) Hardcover – 1 Jan 1959


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  • Hardcover: 694 pages
  • Publisher: William B Eerdmans Publishing Co; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 Jan 1959)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802825060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802825063
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 3.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,023,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The salutation of this epistle is longer than that of any other of the Pauline epistles. Read the first page
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on 14 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
this is a truly excellent resource, offering a verse by verse breakdown of a profound polemic. This is one to avoid if you do not hold to reformed doctrine and the highest view of the Truine God and His full and sovereign work of redemption and salvation through Christ...this will thrill your hearts
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Amazon.com: 11 reviews
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
A Classic 17 Aug 2005
By Kathy F. Cannata - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Murray's work on Romans may not match the pastoral brilliance of John Stott, or be as up to date in scholarship as Douglas Moo (which replaced this volume in the wonderful NICNT series), but it is a must have. There have been hundreds of commentaries written on Romans over the past few centuries, but Murray's has joined the small cluster at the top of the 'classics' list (with Charles Hodge and Martin Luther, and the less orthodox Barth). All future commentaries will continue to reference Murray, as the standout work of its kind for the mid-20th century.

In addition to its usefulness for preachers and seminary students, it is also a nice window into the kind of teaching that was coming out of Westminster Seminary in a golden period of productivity when that school was THE leading Reformed school of the English speaking world.
41 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Still the Standard Reformed Romans 21 Dec 1999
By James Doerfel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
John Murray is an important figure in the Presbyterian and Reformed faith in the 20th century. His commentary on Romans is thorough and insightful, building on the heritage which he inherited from the great Reformed thinkers from Luther and Calvin to B. B. Warfield and Geerhardus Vos, the latter under whom he studied at Princeton. Murray shows particular sensitivity to the Old Testament background of Paul's epistle to the Romans and Paul's consciousness of his place in the history of salvation, a history which to Paul culminated in the person and death/resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Dr. Murray's admirable treatment of Paul's doctrine of the Spirit may only be surpassed by his successor at Westminster Theological Seminary, Dr. Richard B. Gaffin (and by his professor at Princeton, Dr. Geerhardus Vos). Murray's work is scholarly but not so that it would be inaccessible to the intermediate student. Murray does interact with his contemporaries; but could have taken it a litter further. The only criticism against Murray's Romans is his treatment of chps. 9-11 where he fails to break out of the dogmatic mould, and thus fails to capture the movement of the epistle from the anteclimax at the end of chp. 8 to the climax at the end of chp. 11. Overall, however, Murray's is a helpful and insightful commentary, a must for students and pastors.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
God's Offer Of Free Grace 27 Jun 2008
By Jacques Schoeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
'God's righteousness revealed in the gospel is the provision of His grace to meet the exigency of His wrath. And nothing discloses its glory and efficacy more than this.' p xxiv

"...being justified [Gk: dikaiosune] freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:24

Murray stated the importance of the doctrine of justification in unequivocal terms: 'It is perhaps not irrelevant to observe that this is the first time in this epistle that Paul uses this verb directly and positively in reference to what is the leading theme of this epistle.' In support of free grace, Murray calculated its staggering implication: 'As we have found already, the fact of universal sinfulness bears directly upon the other fact that there is no discrimination among believers - they all are beneficiaries of the righteousness of God.' 1:115 The indiscriminate preaching of the gospel to all, regardless of creed, color or condition, underlies our need to understand the free offer of grace by, firstly, putting forth the sufficiency of Christ to save us from our sins, and, secondly, by teaching that God is willing to save all those He efficaciously calls - regardless of merit. 'There is no discrimination arising from race or culture and there is no obstacle arising from the degradations of sin. Wherever there is faith, there the omnipotence of God is operative unto salvation. This is a law with no exception.' 1:28

To add weight to his already convincing exegetical argument, Murray honed in on the two catalytic terms Paul used: "freely" [Gk: dorean] and "by His grace" [Gk: autos charis]: 'Merit of any kind on the part of man, when brought into relation to justification, contradicts the first article of the Pauline doctrine and therefore his gospel.' The sovereign will of God's good pleasure invites us only to try harder to come to grips with Paul's true meaning: Paul said that it is God's goodness [Gk: chrestotes] that leads us to repentance (2:4). Because we are powerless to effect salvation's actualization in and of ourselves, we have no choice but to accept that God, having promised eternal life, is able to make good on His promise: 'No element in Paul's doctrine of justification is more central than this - God's justifying act is not constrained to any extent or degree by anything that we are or do which could be esteemed as predisposing God to this act.' 1:116

"...for while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." Romans 5:6

Because contemporary evangelicalism assumes that "Christ died for the ungodly" means that He died for everybody's sins, Murray placed much greater emphasis on the redemptive-historical outworking of the actions here considered. Firstly, the "while we" considers God's love as expressed to believers in their condition before the cross: 'It is an antecedent love because it is the love presupposed in the death of Christ for them while they were still in misery and sin.' p 167 The atonement is efficacious only for the ungodly who come to faith in Christ - not for all of humanity. Secondly, "at the right time" constituted for Murray the time appointed by God: 'it was the proper and fitting time, because it was the time of our helplessness. The time of man's extremity was the time for God's efficacious work...the time upon which all other times converge and in which God's purpose of the ages reaches its fulfillment.' Ibid Thirdly, Christ's redemptive death "for the ungodly" was not the general act of complacency that God has for all His creatures, but the special act of benevolence toward His elect wherein He provides for their specific need of redemption. That "Christ died for the ungodly" is the mystery of divine love revealed, that the infinitely Holy should love the altogether unholy (Charles Hodge). Murray qualified this salvific love as 'a love efficient to a saving purpose because the death of Christ is on behalf of the ungodly and therefore to the end of securing the high destiny which the context has in view.' Ibid The atonement is a limited love, constrained by nothing but God's gratuitous love for elect sinners.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A SOLIDLY “REFORMED” COMMENTARY ON THE MOST COMPLEX EPISTLE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT 30 July 2014
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
John Murray ( 1898-1975) was a Scottish-born Calvinist theologian who taught at Princeton Seminary and helped found Westminster Theological Seminary, where he taught Systematic Theology for thirty years until his retirement in 1966. His Collected Writings of John Murray: 4 vol. set are available. He also wrote the commentary Epistle to the Romans.

He wrote in the Introduction to this commentary (the first half of which was first published in 1959), “Readers of the epistle may sometimes wonder about the relevance of chapters IX-XI. They seem to disturb the unity and logical sequence of the argument… But this factor must not be overlooked. Paul was a Jew… who had converted from that same perversity which at the time of Paul’s writing characterized Jewry as a whole… The extent to which the grand theme of the epistle is concerned with the characteristic sin of Jewry… which he directly charges… in Rom 2:17-29, makes it inevitable … that Paul should give expression to the burning desire of this heart for the salvation of his brethren.” (V1, pg. xiv-xv)

He comments on 1:18-21, “the truth is regarded as asserting itself within the men concerned but that they hold it down or suppress it… Undoubtedly there is a witness of the truth welling up from within which men suppress by their unrighteousness… the apostle is dealing with the truth derived from the observable handiwork of God in the work of creation. The notion of ‘holding back’ is well suited to express the reaction which men by their unrighteousness offer to the truth thus manifested… they hinder the truth because there is a manifestation of the truth to them, and the truth manifested to them is described as ‘that which is known of God.’” (V1, pg. 36-37) He adds, “the design of God in giving so open and manifest a disclosure of his eternal power and divinity in his visible handiwork is that all men might be without excuse…Besides… we cannot eliminate from the all-inclusive ordination and providence of God the design which is presupposed in the actual result.” (V1, pg. 40)

He observes, “In chapter 4 Paul proceeds to prove from the Scripture of the Old Testament the pivotal element of the doctrine which he had unfolded in the preceding chapter. It cannot be doubted that the cardinal interest of the apostle in the argument which he had presented is the antithesis between justification by works and justification by faith..” (Pg. 127) He adds, “In appealing to this text [Gen 15:6] it should be apparent that Paul is basing his argument mainly upon the fact that it is the FAITH of Abraham that is in the foreground.” (V1, pg. 129-130) He continues, “The antithesis is therefore between the idea of compensation and that of grace… The antithesis is not simply between the worker and the non-worker but between the worker and the person who does not work BUT BELIEVES.” (V1, pg. 132) [I must point out that Murray refrains from a detailed discussion of James 2:17-22 in his commentary, which he mentions only in passing, and only in the second volume.]

He comments on 5:12 [“through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death”], “That sin entered through one man is an integral element of the comparison or parallel upon which is to be built Paul’s doctrine of justification.” (V1, pg. 181) He adds, “If Paul meant that death passed upon all because all men were guilty of actual transgression, this is the way he would have said it… Is this what the apostle meant? Pelagians say so. There are conclusive objections to this view… It is not historically true. Not all die because they actually and voluntarily sin. Infants die and they do not voluntarily sin… The most conclusive refutation of the view in question is the explicit and repeated affirmations … to the effect that condemnation and death reign over all because of the ONE SIN of the ONE MAN Adam.” (V1, pg. 182-183) He concludes, “we must reject the supposition that when Paul says, ‘in that all sinned’ he means the actual voluntary sins of all men.” (V1, pg. 184) He says of 7:18-20 [“it is not more I that do it…”], “Here the apostle identifies his ego, his person, with that determinate which is in agreement with the law of God, and he appears to dissociate his own self from the sin committed... and places the responsibility for the sin committed upon the indwelling sin… no longer does HE commit the sin but rather the sin that dwells in him---the reason is that what he does HE does not will.” (V1, pg. 263-264)

He interprets 9:11-21: “‘the purpose of God according to election’ will have to be understood as the electing purpose that is determinative of and unto salvation and equivalent to that which we find elsewhere.” (V2, pg. 19) He continues, “the statement ‘Esau I hated’ is not satisfactorily interpreted as meaning simply ‘not loved’ or ‘loved less’ but in the sense that an attitude of positive disfavor is expressed thereby. Esau was not merely excluded from what Jacob enjoyed but was the object of a displeasure which love would have excluded and of which Jacob was not the object because he was loved… Thus the definitive actions denoted by ‘loved’ and ‘hated’ are represented as actuated not by any character differences in the two children but solely by the sovereign will of God…” (V2, pg. 23) He states, “In view of the sustained emphasis on the free, sovereign will of God we must recognize that this sovereignty is just as inviolate in the hardening as it is in showing mercy… the sovereignty of God is ultimate in both cases and as ultimate in the negative as in the positive.” (V2, pg.. 27) He asks rhetorically, “How can God blame us when we are the victims of his irresistible decree?... The answer is the appeal to the reverential silence which the majesty of God demands of us… we have an ultimate on which we may not interrogate him nor speak back when he has uttered his verdict. Why are WE to dispute his government?” (V2, pg. 31) He adds, “If God in the exercise of his sovereign right makes some vessels of wrath and others vessels of mercy what have we to say?” (V2, pg. 33)

About 10:9-10 [“if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”] he observes, “the accent falls upon believing in that heart that God raised him… We are not to regard confession and faith as having the same efficacy unto salvation. The contrast between mouth and heart needs to be observed. But we may not tone down the importance of confession with the mouth. Confession without faith would be vain… But likewise faith without confession would be shown to be spurious… In verse 10 the order is inverted; faith is mentioned first and then confession. This shows that verse 9 is not intended to announce the priority whether causal or logical.” (V2, pg. 55-56)

He says of 13:1-2 [“the powers that be are ordained of God”], “He is not now treating of government in the abstract nor entering into the question of the different forms of government. He is making categorical statements regarding the authorities in actual existence… The civil magistrate is not only the means decreed in God’s providence or the punishment of evildoers but God’s instituted, authorized, and prescribed instrument for the maintenance of order and the punishing of criminals who violate that order… At the same time… We cannot but believe that he would have endorsed and practised the word of Peter and other apostles: ‘We must obey God rather than men… Where there is conflict between the requirements of men and the commands of God, then the word of Peter must take effect… Paul does not deal with the questions that arise in connection with revolution… in this passage as a whole there are principles which bear upon the right or wrong of revolution. But these matters… are not introduced into this passage… The apostle is not writing an essay on casuistical theology but setting forth the cardinal principles …regulating the behaviour of Christians.’” (V2, pg. 148-150)

On 14:5-6 [“One man esteemeth one day above another”], he says, “Since this difference of conviction among believers is in the same category as the difference respecting the use of certain kinds of food, we must conclude that the observance of the days in question did not proceed from any continuing divine obligation. The person who esteems every day alike… is recognized by the apostle as rightfully entertaining this position. This could not be the case if the distinction of days were a matter of divine obligation… The injunction to be fully assured in one’s own mind refers not simply to the RIGHT of private judgment but to the DEMAND.” (V2, pg. 177-178) He says of Phoebe in 16:1, “It is highly probable that Phoebe was the bearer of the epistle to the church at Rome… It is common to give Phoebe the title of ‘deaconess’ and regard her as having performed an office in the church corresponding to that which belonged to men who exercised the office of deacon… there is neither need nor warrant to suppose that she occupied or exercised what amounted to an ecclesiastical office comparable to that of the diaconate. The services performed were similar to those devolving upon deacons. Their ministry is one of mercy to the poor, the sick, and the desolate… there is no more warrant to posit an OFFICE…” (V2, pg. 226)

This is solid, comprehensive and detailed commentary by a highly-respected Reformed theologian; it will be of great interest to anyone studying Romans.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A true classic 12 Sep 2013
By Doug Erlandson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
John Murray's "Romans" has rightly taken its place as one of the greatest all-time commentaries on Romans. Written by someone who devoted his teaching life to Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), it is perhaps the best of all commentaries on this epistle written from a Reformed perspective. I first studied Romans with Murray's commentary in hand more than 35 years ago as a new convert from agnosticism and found it to be a compelling and well-argued defense of Reformed soteriology.

Although written in a scholarly fashion with enough serious theological meat and exegetical and textual material to satisfy the scholar, at the same time the material is presented in a sufficiently accessible manner that even the theological novice (as I was when I first encountered it) can use and understand it. Over the years I have used this commentary extensively, for instance, when preparing a series of sermons on Romans and while compiling notes in preparation for teaching a Bible study.
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