Contemporary scholarship remembers Charles Hodge more for his systematic theology than his biblical exposition. Nevertheless, his whole life was primarily devoted to the critical and systematic study of the Bible, and his entire theological method is eminently biblical. In fact, Charles Hodge taught in biblical studies for more than twenty years at Princeton Theological Seminary before he was transferred, reluctantly, to the theological department. Hodge’s theology is rooted in his exposition of scripture; not the philosophical schemes and cultural whims that informed the vast majority of theological reflection in the nineteenth century.
In his commentary on Romans, Hodge introduces the book by discussing the authorship, dating, and setting of the epistle. He also devotes attention to the nature of the original audience, with particular emphasis on the historical and theological context of the church in Rome and the role of Jews in the Roman Empire—fundamental issues which comprise the backdrop of Pauline theology.
The entire volume contains verse-by-verse commentary on each chapter of Romans. Hodge examines both the Greek text and his own English translation, which means that this commentary—like all the commentaries in this collection—are as useful to New Testament scholars as they are accessible to laypersons. He concludes his commentary on each chapter with a summary of the key doctrinal points and their relevance for exegesis and interpretation.
“Christ died for us the ungodly; and therein, as the apostle goes on to show, is the mysteriousness of the divine love revealed. That God should love the good, the righteous, the pure, the godly, is what we can understand; but that the infinitely Holy should love the unholy, and give his Son for their redemption, is the wonder of all wonders. ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.’ 1 John 4:10.” (Pages 212–213)
“Christians do not glory in suffering, as such, or for its own sake, but as the Bible teaches, 1. Because they consider it an honour to suffer for Christ. 2. Because they rejoice in being the occasion of manifesting his power in their support and deliverance; and, 3. Because suffering is made the means of their own sanctification and preparation for usefulness here, and for heaven hereafter. The last of these reasons is that to which the apostle refers in the context.” (Page 210)
“‘We shall not only be ultimately saved, but we now glory in God.’ The benefits of redemption are not all future. It is not only deliverance from future wrath, but the joy and glory of the present favour and love of God, that we owe to Jesus Christ.” (Page 219)
“A man may be subject to a power which, of himself, he cannot effectually resist; against which he may and does struggle, and from which he earnestly desires to be free; but which, notwithstanding all his efforts, still asserts its authority. This is precisely the bondage to sin of which every believer is conscious. He feels that there is a law in his members bringing him into subjection to the law of sin; that his distrust of God, his hardness of heart, his love of the world and of self, his pride, in short his indwelling sin, is a real power from which he longs to be free, against which he struggles, but from which he cannot emancipate himself.” (Pages 360–361)