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Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible
I am debtor - This does not mean that they had conferred any favor on him, which bound him to make this return, but that he was under obligation to preach the gospel to all to whom it was possible. This obligation arose from the favor that God had shown him in appointing him to this work. He was specially chosen as a vessel to bear the gospel to the Gentiles Act_9:15; Rom_11:13, and he did not feel that he had discharged the obligation until he had made the gospel known as far as possible among all the nations of the earth.
To the Greeks - This term properly denotes "those who dwelt in Greece." But as the Greeks were the most polished people of antiquity, the term came to be synonymous with the polished, the refined, the wise, as opposed to barbarians. In this place it doubtless means the same as "the wise," and includes the Romans also, as it cannot be supposed that Paul would designate the Romans as barbarians. Besides, the Romans claimed an origin from Greece, and Dionysius Halicarnassus (book i.) shows that the Italian and Roman people were of Greek descent.
Barbarians - All who were not included under the general name of Greeks. Thus, Ammonius says that "all who were not Greeks were barbarians." This term "barbarian," Barbaros, properly denotes one who speaks a foreign language, a foreigner, and the Greeks applied it to all who did not use their tongue; compare 1Co_14:11, "I shall be unto him that speaketh, a barbarian, etc. that is, I shall speak a language which he cannot understand. The word did not, therefore, of necessity denote any rusticity of manners, or any lack of refinement.
To the wise - To those who esteemed themselves to be wise, or who boasted of their wisdom. The term is synonymous with "the Greeks," who prided themselves much in their wisdom. 1Co_1:22, "the Greeks seek after wisdom;" compare 1Co_1:19; 1Co_3:18-19; 1Co_4:10; 2Co_11:19.
Unwise - Those who were regarded as the ignorant and unpolished part of mankind. The expression is equivalent to ours, 'to the learned and the unlearned.' It was an evidence of the proper spirit to be willing to preach the gospel to either. The gospel claims to have power to instruct all mankind, and they who are called to preach it, should be able to instruct those who esteem themselves to be wise, and who are endowed with science, learning, and talent; and they should be willing to labor to enlighten the most obscure, ignorant, and degraded portions of the race.
This is the true spirit of the Christian ministry.
So, as much as in me is - As far as opportunity may be offered, and according to my ability.
I am ready ... - I am prepared to preach among you, and to show the power of the gospel, even in the splendid metropolis of the world. He was not deterred by any fear; nor was he indifferent to their welfare; but he was under the direction of God. and as far as he gave him opportunity, he was ready to make known to them the gospel, as he had done at Antioch, Ephesus, Athens, and Corinth.
This closes the introduction or preface to the Epistle. Having shown his deep interest in their welfare, he proceeds in the next verse to state to them the great doctrines of that gospel which he was desirous of proclaiming to them.