The happy effects of justification through faith in the righteousness of Christ. (1-5) That we are reconciled by his blood. (6-11) The fall of Adam brought all mankind into sin and death. (12-14) The grace of God, through the righteousness of Christ, has more power to bring salvation, than Adam's sin had to bring misery, (15-19) as grace did superabound. (20,21)
Verses 1-5 A blessed change takes place in the sinner's state, when he becomes a true believer, whatever he has been. Being justified by faith he has peace with God. The holy, righteous God, cannot be at peace with a sinner, while under the guilt of sin. Justification takes away the guilt, and so makes way for peace. This is through our Lord Jesus Christ; through him as the great Peace-maker, the Mediator between God and man. The saints' happy state is a state of grace. Into this grace we are brought, which teaches that we were not born in this state. We could not have got into it of ourselves, but we are led into it, as pardoned offenders. Therein we stand, a posture that denotes perseverance; we stand firm and safe, upheld by the power of God. And those who have hope for the glory of God hereafter, have enough to rejoice in now. Tribulation worketh patience, not in and of itself, but the powerful grace of God working in and with the tribulation. Patient sufferers have most of the Divine consolations, which abound as afflictions abound. It works needful experience of ourselves. This hope will not disappoint, because it is sealed with the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of love. It is the gracious work of the blessed Spirit to shed abroad the love of God in the hearts of all the saints. A right sense of God's love to us, will make us not ashamed, either of our hope, or of our sufferings for him.
Verses 6-11 Christ died for sinners; not only such as were useless, but such as were guilty and hateful; such that their everlasting destruction would be to the glory of God's justice. Christ died to save us, not in our sins, but from our sins; and we were yet sinners when he died for us. Nay, the carnal mind is not only an enemy to God, but enmity itself, chap. (Roamns 8:7, Colossians 1:21 ) . But God designed to deliver from sin, and to work a great change. While the sinful state continues, God loathes the sinner, and the sinner loathes God, ( Zechariah 11:8 ) . And that for such as these Christ should die, is a mystery; no other such an instance of love is known, so that it may well be the employment of eternity to adore and wonder at it. Again; what idea had the apostle when he supposed the case of some one dying for a righteous man? And yet he only put it as a thing that might be. Was it not the undergoing this suffering, that the person intended to be benefitted might be released therefrom? But from what are believers in Christ released by his death? Not from bodily death; for that they all do and must endure. The evil, from which the deliverance could be effected only in this astonishing manner, must be more dreadful than natural death. There is no evil, to which the argument can be applied, except that which the apostle actually affirms, sin, and wrath, the punishment of sin, determined by the unerring justice of God. And if, by Divine grace, they were thus brought to repent, and to believe in Christ, and thus were justified by the price of his bloodshedding, and by faith in that atonement, much more through Him who died for them and rose again, would they be kept from falling under the power of sin and Satan, or departing finally from him. The living Lord of all, will complete the purpose of his dying love, by saving all true believers to the uttermost. Having such a pledge of salvation in the love of God through Christ, the apostle declared that believers not only rejoiced in the hope of heaven, and even in their tribulations for Christ's sake, but they gloried in God also, as their unchangeable Friend and all-sufficient Portion, through Christ only.
Verses 12-14 The design of what follows is plain. It is to exalt our views respecting the blessings Christ has procured for us, by comparing them with the evil which followed upon the fall of our first father; and by showing that these blessings not only extend to the removal of these evils, but far beyond. Adam sinning, his nature became guilty and corrupted, and so came to his children. Thus in him all have sinned. And death is by sin; for death is the wages of sin. Then entered all that misery which is the due desert of sin; temporal, spiritual, eternal death. If Adam had not sinned, he had not died; but a sentence of death was passed, as upon a criminal; it passed through all men, as an infectious disease that none escape. In proof of our union with Adam, and our part in his first transgression, observe, that sin prevailed in the world, for many ages before the giving of the law by Moses. And death reigned in that long time, not only over adults who wilfully sinned, but also over multitudes of infants, which shows that they had fallen in Adam under condemnation, and that the sin of Adam extended to all his posterity. He was a figure or type of Him that was to come as Surety of a new covenant, for all who are related to Him.
Verses 15-19 Through one man's offence, all mankind are exposed to eternal condemnation. But the grace and mercy of God, and the free gift of righteousness and salvation, are through Jesus Christ, as man: yet the Lord from heaven has brought the multitude of believers into a more safe and exalted state than that from which they fell in Adam. This free gift did not place them anew in a state of trial, but fixed them in a state of justification, as Adam would have been placed, had he stood. Notwithstanding the differences, there is a striking similarity. As by the offence of one, sin and death prevailed to the condemnation of all men, so by the righteousness of one, grace prevailed to the justification of all related to Christ by faith. Through the grace of God, the gift by grace has abounded to many through Christ; yet multitudes choose to remain under the dominion of sin and death, rather than to apply for the blessings of the reign of grace. But Christ will in nowise cast out any who are willing to come to him.
Verses 20-21 By Christ and his righteousness, we have more and greater privileges than we lost by the offence of Adam. The moral law showed that many thoughts, tempers, words, and actions, were sinful, thus transgressions were multiplied. Not making sin to abound the more, but discovering the sinfulness of it, even as the letting in a clearer light into a room, discovers the dust and filth which were there before, but were not seen. The sin of Adam, and the effect of corruption in us, are the abounding of that offence which appeared on the entrance of the law. And the terrors of the law make gospel comforts the more sweet. Thus God the Holy Spirit has, by the blessed apostle, delivered to us a most important truth, full of consolation, suited to our need as sinners. Whatever one may have above another, every man is a sinner against God, stands condemned by the law, and needs pardon. A righteousness that is to justify cannot be made up of a mixture of sin and holiness. There can be no title to an eternal reward without a pure and spotless righteousness: let us look for it, even to the righteousness of Christ.
Romans 5:1-11 . THE BLESSED EFFECTS OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
The proof of this doctrine being now concluded, the apostle comes here to treat of its fruits, reserving the full consideration of this topic to another stage of the argument ( Romans 8:1-39 ).
1. Therefore being--"having been."
justified by faith, we have peace with God, &c.--If we are to be guided by manuscript authority, the true reading here, beyond doubt, is, "Let us have peace"; a reading, however, which most reject, because they think it unnatural to exhort men to have what it belongs to God to give, because the apostle is not here giving exhortations, but stating matters of fact. But as it seems hazardous to set aside the decisive testimony of manuscripts, as to what the apostle did write, in favor of what we merely think he ought to have written, let us pause and ask--If it be the privilege of the justified to "have peace with God," why might not the apostle begin his enumeration of the fruits of justification by calling on believers to "realize" this peace as belonged to them, or cherish the joyful consciousness of it as their own? And if this is what he has done, it would not be necessary to continue in the same style, and the other fruits of justification might be set down, simply as matters of fact. This "peace" is first a change in God's relation to us; and next, as the consequence of this, a change on our part towards Him. God, on the one hand, has "reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ" ( 2 Corinthians 5:18 ); and we, on the other hand, setting our seal to this, "are reconciled to God" ( 2 Corinthians 5:20 ). The "propitiation" is the meeting-place; there the controversy on both sides terminates in an honorable and eternal "peace."
2. By whom also we have--"have had"
access by faith into this grace--favor with God.
wherein we stand--that is "To that same faith which first gave us 'peace with God' we owe our introduction into that permanent standing in the favor of God which the justified enjoy." As it is difficult to distinguish this from the peace first mentioned, we regard it as merely an additional phase of the same [MEYER, PHILIPPI, MEHRING], rather than something new [BEZA, THOLUCK, HODGE].
and rejoice--"glory," "boast," "triumph"--"rejoice" is not strong enough.
in hope of the glory of God--On "hope,"
3, 4. we glory in tribulation also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience--Patience is the quiet endurance of what we cannot but wish removed, whether it be the withholding of promised good ( Romans 8:25 ), or the continued experience of positive ill (as here). There is indeed a patience of unrenewed nature, which has something noble in it, though in many cases the offspring of pride, if not of something lower. Men have been known to endure every form of privation, torture, and death, without a murmur and without even visible emotion, merely because they deemed it unworthy of them to sink under unavoidable ill. But this proud, stoical hardihood has nothing in common with the grace of patience--which is either the meek endurance of ill because it is of God ( Job 1:21 Job 1:22 , 2:10 ), or the calm waiting for promised good till His time to dispense it come ( Hebrews 10:36 ); in the full persuasion that such trials are divinely appointed, are the needed discipline of God's children, are but for a definite period, and are not sent without abundant promises of "songs in the night." If such be the "patience" which "tribulation worketh," no wonder that
4. patience worketh experience--rather, "proof," as the same word is rendered in 2 Corinthians 2:9 , 13:3 , Philippians 2:22 ; that is, experimental evidence that we have "believed through grace."
hope--"of the glory of God," as prepared for us. Thus have we hope in two distinct ways, and at two successive stages of the Christian life: first, immediately on believing, along with the sense of peace and abiding access to God ( Romans 5:1 ); next, after the reality of this faith has been "proved," particularly by the patient endurance of trials sent to test it. We first get it by looking away from ourselves to the Lamb of God; next by looking into or upon ourselves as transformed by that "looking unto Jesus." In the one case, the mind acts (as they say) objectively; in the other, subjectively. The one is (as divines say) the assurance of faith; the other, the assurance of sense.
5. And hope maketh not ashamed--putteth not to shame, as empty hopes do.
became the love of God--that is, not "our love to God," as the Romish and some Protestant expositors (following some of the Fathers) represent it; but clearly "God's love to us"--as most expositors agree.
is shed abroad--literally, "poured forth," that is, copiously diffused (compare John 7:38 , Titus 3:6 ).
by the Holy Ghost which is--rather, "was."
given unto us--that is, at the great Pentecostal effusion, which is viewed as the formal donation of the Spirit to the Church of God, for all time and for each believer. (The Holy Ghost is here first introduced in this Epistle.) It is as if the apostle had said, "And how can this hope of glory, which as believers we cherish, put us to shame, when we feel God Himself, by His Spirit given to us, drenching our hearts in sweet, all-subduing sensations of His wondrous love to us in Christ Jesus?" This leads the apostle to expatiate on the amazing character of that love.
6-8. For when we were yet without strength--that is, powerless to deliver ourselves, and so ready to perish.
in due time--at the appointed season.
Christ died for the ungodly--Three signal properties of God's love are here given: First, "Christ died for the ungodly," whose character, so far from meriting any interposition in their behalf, was altogether repulsive to the eye of God; second, He did this "when they were without strength"--with nothing between them and perdition but that self-originating divine compassion; third, He did this "at the due time," when it was most fitting that it should take place (compare Galatians 4:4 ), The two former of these properties the apostle now proceeds to illustrate.
7. For scarcely for a righteous man--a man of simply unexceptionable character.
will one--"any one"
die: yet peradventure for a good man--a man who, besides being unexceptionable, is distinguished for goodness, a benefactor to society.
even dare to die--"Scarce an instance occurs of self-sacrifice for one merely upright; though for one who makes himself a blessing to society there may be found an example of such noble surrender of life" (So BENGEL, OLSHAUSEN, THOLUCK, ALFORD, PHILIPPI). (To make the "righteous" and the "good" man here to mean the same person, and the whole sense to be that "though rare, the case may occur, of one making a sacrifice of life for a worthy character" [as CALVIN, BEZA, FRITZSCHE, JOWETT], is extremely flat.)
8. But God commendeth--"setteth off," "displayeth"--in glorious contrast with all that men will do for each other.
his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners--that is, in a state not of positive "goodness," nor even of negative "righteousness," but on the contrary, "sinners," a state which His soul hateth.
Christ died for us--Now comes the overpowering inference, emphatically redoubled.
9, 10. Much more then, being--"having been"
now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being now--"having now been"
reconciled, we shall be saved by his life--that is "If that part of the Saviour's work which cost Him His blood, and which had to be wrought for persons incapable of the least sympathy either with His love or His labors in their behalf--even our 'justification,' our 'reconciliation'--is already completed; how much more will He do all that remains to be done, since He has it to do, not by death agonies any more, but in untroubled 'life,' and no longer for enemies, but for friends--from whom, at every stage of it, He receives the grateful response of redeemed and adoring souls?" To be "saved from wrath through Him," denotes here the whole work of Christ towards believers, from the moment of justification, when the wrath of God is turned away from them, till the Judge on the great white throne shall discharge that wrath upon them that "obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ"; and that work may all be summed up in "keeping them from falling, and presenting them faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" ( Jude 1:24 ): thus are they "saved from wrath through Him."
11. And not only so, but we also joy--rather, "glory."
in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by--"through"
whom we have now received the atonement--rather, "the reconciliation" (Margin), as the same word is rendered in Romans 5:10 and in 2 Corinthians 5:18 2 Corinthians 5:19 . (In fact, the earlier meaning of the English word "atonement" was "the reconciliation of two estranged parties") [TRENCH]. The foregoing effects of justification were all benefits to ourselves, calling for gratitude; this last may be termed a purely disinterested one. Our first feeling towards God, after we have found peace with Him. is that of clinging gratitude for so costly a salvation; but no sooner have we learned to cry, Abba, Father, under the sweet sense of reconciliation, than "gloriation" in Him takes the place of dread of Him, and now He appears to us "altogether lovely!"
On this section, Note, (1) How gloriously does the Gospel evince its divine origin by basing all acceptable obedience on "peace with God," laying the foundations of this peace in a righteous "justification" of the sinner "through our Lord Jesus Christ," and making this the entrance to a permanent standing in the divine favor, and a triumphant expectation of future glory! ( Romans 5:1 Romans 5:2 ). Other peace, worthy of the name, there is none; and as those who are strangers to it rise not to the enjoyment of such high fellowship with God, so they have neither any taste for it nor desire after it. (2) As only believers possess the true secret of patience under trials, so, although "not joyous but grievous" in themselves ( Hebrews 12:17 ), when trials divinely sent afford them the opportunity of evidencing their faith by the grace of patience under them, they should "count it all joy" ( Romans 5:3 Romans 5:4 ; and see James 1:2 James 1:3 ). (3) "Hope," in the New Testament sense of the term, is not a lower degree of faith or assurance (as many now say, I hope for heaven, but am not sure of it); but invariably means "the confident expectation of future good." It presupposes faith; and what faith assures us will be ours, hope accordingly expects. In the nourishment of this hope, the soul's look outward to Christ for the ground of it, and inward upon ourselves for evidence of its reality, must act and react upon each other ( Romans 5:2 and Romans 5:4 compared). (4) It is the proper office of the Holy Ghost to beget in the soul the full conviction and joyful consciousness of the love of God in Christ Jesus to sinners of mankind, and to ourselves in particular; and where this exists, it carries with it such an assurance of final salvation as cannot deceive ( Romans 5:5 ). (5) The justification of sinful men is not in virtue of their amendment, but of "the blood of God's Son"; and while this is expressly affirmed in Romans 5:9 , our reconciliation to God by the "death of His Son," affirmed in Romans 5:10 , is but a variety of the same statement. In both, the blessing meant is the restoration of the sinner to a righteous standing in the sight of God; and in both, the meritorious ground of this, which is intended to be conveyed, is the expiatory sacrifice of God's Son. (6) Gratitude to God for redeeming love, if it could exist without delight in God Himself, would be a selfish and worthless feeling; but when the one rises into the other--the transporting sense of eternal "reconciliation" passing into "gloriation in God" Himself--then the lower is sanctified and sustained by the higher, and each feeling is perfective of the other ( Romans 5:11 ).
Romans 5:12-21 . COMPARISON AND CONTRAST BETWEEN ADAM AND CHRIST IN THEIR RELATION TO THE HUMAN FAMILY.
(This profound and most weighty section has occasioned an immense deal of critical and theological discussion, in which every point, and almost every clause, has been contested. We can here but set down what appears to us to be the only tenable view of it as a whole and of its successive clauses, with some slight indication of the grounds of our judgment).
12. Wherefore--that is, Things being so; referring back to the whole preceding argument.
as by one man--Adam.
sin--considered here in its guilt, criminality, penal desert.
entered into the world, and death by sin--as the penalty of sin.
and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned--rather, "all sinned," that is, in that one man's first sin. Thus death reaches every individual of the human family, as the penalty due to himself. (So, in substance, BENGEL, HODGE, PHILIPPI). Here we should have expected the apostle to finish his sentence, in some such way as this: "Even so, by one man righteousness has entered into the world, and life by righteousness." But, instead of this, we have a digression, extending to five verses, to illustrate the important statement of Romans 5:12 ; and it is only at Romans 5:18 that the comparison is resumed and finished.
13, 14. For until the law sin was in the world--that is during all the period from Adam "until the law" of Moses was given, God continued to treat men as sinners.
but sin is not imputed where there is no law--"There must therefore have been a law during that period, because sin was then imputed"; as is now to be shown.
14. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression--But who are they?--a much contested question. Infants (say some), who being guiltless of actual sin, may be said not to have sinned in the way that Adam did [AUGUSTINE, BEZA, HODGE]. But why should infants be specially connected with the period "from Adam to Moses," since they die alike in every period? And if the apostle meant to express here the death of infants, why has he done it so enigmatically? Besides, the death of infants is comprehended in the universal mortality on account of the first sin, so emphatically expressed in Romans 5:12 ; what need then to specify it here? and why, if not necessary, should we presume it to be meant here, unless the language unmistakably point to it--which it certainly does not? The meaning then must be, that "death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those that had not, like Adam, transgressed against a positive commandment, threatening death to the disobedient." (So most interpreters). In this case, the particle "even," instead of specifying one particular class of those who lived "from Adam to Moses" (as the other interpretation supposes), merely explains what it was that made the case of those who died from Adam to Moses worthy of special notice--namely, that "though unlike Adam and all since Moses, those who lived between the two had no positive threatening of death for transgression, nevertheless, death reigned even over them."
who is the figure--or, "a type."
of him that was to come--Christ. "This clause is inserted on the first mention of the name "Adam," the one man of whom he is speaking, to recall the purpose for which he is treating of him, as the figure of Christ" [ALFORD]. The point of analogy intended here is plainly the public character which both sustained, neither of the two being regarded in the divine procedure towards men as mere individual men, but both alike as representative men. (Some take the proper supplement here to be "Him [that is] to come"; understanding the apostle to speak from his own time, and to refer to Christ's second coming [FRITZSCHE, DE WETTE, ALFORD]. But this is unnatural, since the analogy of the second Adam to the first has been in full development ever since "God exalted Him to be a Prince and a Saviour," and it will only remain to be consummated at His second coming. The simple meaning is, as nearly all interpreters agree, that Adam is a type of Him who was to come after him in the same public character, and so to be "the second Adam").
15. But--"Yet," "Howbeit."
not as the offence--"trespass."
so also is the free gift--or "the gracious gift," "the gift of grace." The two cases present points of contrast as well as resemblance.
For if, &c.--rather, "For if through the offense of the one the many died (that is, in that one man's first sin), much more did the grace of God, and the free gift by grace, even that of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many." By "the many" is meant the mass of mankind represented respectively by Adam and Christ, as opposed, not to few, but to "the one" who represented them. By "the free gift" is meant (as in Romans 5:17 ) the glorious gift of justifying righteousness; this is expressly distinguished from "the grace of God," as the effect from the cause; and both are said to "abound" towards us in Christ--in what sense will appear in Romans 5:16 Romans 5:17 . And the "much more," of the one case than the other, does not mean that we get much more of good by Christ than of evil by Adam (for it is not a case of quantity at all); but that we have much more reason to expect, or it is much more agreeable to our ideas of God, that the many should be benefited by the merit of one, than that they should suffer for the sin of one; and if the latter has happened, much more may we assure ourselves of the former [PHILIPPI, HODGE].
16. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift--"Another point of contrast may be mentioned."
for the judgment--"sentence."
was by one--rather, "was of one," meaning not "one man," but, as appears from the next clause, "one offense."
to condemnation, but the free gift--"gift of grace."
is of many offences unto justification--a glorious point of contrast. "The condemnation by Adam was for one sin; but the justification by Christ is an absolution not only from the guilt of that first offense, mysteriously attaching to every individual of the race, but from the countless offenses it, to which, as a germ lodged in the bosom of every child of Adam, it unfolds itself in his life." This is the meaning of "grace abounding towards us in the abundance of the gift of righteousness." It is a grace not only rich in its character, but rich in detail; it is a "righteousness" not only rich in a complete justification of the guilty, condemned sinner; but rich in the amplitude of the ground which it covers, leaving no one sin of any of the justified uncancelled, but making him, though loaded with the guilt of myriads of offenses, "the righteousness of God in Christ."
17. For if by--"the"
one man's offence death reigned by one--"through the one."
much more shall they which receive--"the"
abundance of grace and of the gift of--justifying
righteousness . . . reign in life by one Jesus Christ--"through the one." We have here the two ideas of Romans 5:15 and Romans 5:16 sublimely combined into one, as if the subject had grown upon the apostle as he advanced in his comparison of the two cases. Here, for the first time in this section, he speaks of that LIFE which springs out of justification, in contrast with the death which springs from sin and follows condemnation. The proper idea of it therefore is, "Right to live"--"Righteous life"--life possessed and enjoyed with the good will, and in conformity with the eternal law, of "Him that sitteth on the Throne"; life therefore in its widest sense--life in the whole man and throughout the whole duration of human existence, the life of blissful and loving relationship to God in soul and body, for ever and ever. It is worthy of note, too, that while he says death "reigned over" us through Adam, he does not say Life "reigns over us" through Christ; lest he should seem to invest this new life with the very attribute of death--that of fell and malignant tyranny, of which we were the hapless victims. Nor does he say Life reigns in us, which would have been a scriptural enough idea; but, which is much more pregnant, "We shall reign in life." While freedom and might are implied in the figure of "reigning," "life" is represented as the glorious territory or atmosphere of that reign. And by recurring to the idea of Romans 5:16 , as to the "many offenses" whose complete pardon shows "the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness," the whole statement is to this effect: "If one man's one offense let loose against us the tyrant power of Death, to hold us as its victims in helpless bondage, 'much more,' when we stand forth enriched with God's 'abounding grace' and in the beauty of a complete absolution from countless offenses, shall we expatiate in a life divinely owned and legally secured, 'reigning' in exultant freedom and unchallenged might, through that other matchless 'One,' Jesus Christ!" (On the import of the future tense in this last clause,
18. Therefore--now at length resuming the unfinished comparison of Romans 5:12 , in order to give formally the concluding member of it, which had been done once and again substantially, in the intermediate verses.
as by the offence of one judgment came--or, more simply, "it came."
upon all men to condenmation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came--rather, "it came."
upon all men to justification of life--(So CALVIN, BENGEL, OLSHAUSEN, THOLUCK, HODGE, PHILIPPI). But better, as we judge: "As through one offense it [came] upon all men to condemnation; even so through one righteousness [it came] upon all men to justification of life"--(So BEZA, GROTIUS, FERME, MEYER, DE WETTE, ALFORD, Revised Version). In this case, the apostle, resuming the statement of Romans 5:12 , expresses it in a more concentrated and vivid form--suggested no doubt by the expression in Romans 5:16 , "through one offense," representing Christ's whole work, considered as the ground of our justification, as "ONE RIGHTEOUSNESS." (Some would render the peculiar word here employed, "one righteous act" [ALFORD, &c.]; understanding by it Christ's death as the one redeeming act which reversed the one undoing act of Adam. But this is to limit the apostle's idea too much; for as the same word is properly rendered "righteousness" in Romans 8:4 , where it means "the righteousness of the law as fulfilled by us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit," so here it denotes Christ's whole "obedience unto death," considered as the one meritorious ground of the reversal of the condemnation which came by Adam. But on this, and on the expression, "all men," "justification of life," is a vivid combination of two ideas already expatiated upon, meaning "justification entitling to and issuing in the rightful possession and enjoyment of life").
19. For, &c.--better, "For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so by the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous." On this great verse observe: First, By the "obedience" of Christ here is plainly not meant more than what divines call His active obedience, as distinguished from His sufferings and death; it is the entire work of Christ in its obediential character. Our Lord Himself represents even His death as His great act of obedience to the Father: "This commandment (that is, to lay down and resume His life) have I received of My Father" ( John 10:8 ). Second, The significant word twice rendered made, does not signify to work a change upon a person or thing, but to constitute or ordain, as will be seen from all the places where it is used. Here, accordingly, it is intended to express that judicial act which holds men, in virtue of their connection with Adam, as sinners; and, in connection with Christ, as righteous. Third, The change of tense from the past to the future--"as through Adam we were made sinners, so through Christ we shall be made righteous"--delightfully expresses the enduring character of the act, and of the economy to which such acts belong, in contrast with the for-ever-past ruin of believers in Adam. Romans 5:18 and the "many" of Romans 5:19 are the same party, though under a slightly different aspect. In the latter case, the contrast is between the one representative (Adam--Christ) and the many whom he represented; in the former case, it is between the one head (Adam--Christ) and the human race, affected for death and life respectively by the actings of that one. Only in this latter case it is the redeemed family of man that is alone in view; it is humanity as actually lost, but also as actually saved, as ruined and recovered. Such as refuse to fall in with the high purpose of God to constitute His Son a "second Adam," the Head of a new race, and as impenitent and unbelieving finally perish, have no place in this section of the Epistle, whose sole object is to show how God repairs in the second Adam the evil done by the first. (Thus the doctrine of universal restoration has no place here. Thus too the forced interpretation by which the "justification of all" is made to mean a justification merely in possibility and offer to all, and the "justification of the many" to mean the actual justification of as many as believe [ALFORD, &c.], is completely avoided. And thus the harshness of comparing a whole fallen family with a recovered part is got rid of. However true it be in fact that part of mankind is not saved, this is not the aspect in which the subject is here presented. It is totals that are compared and contrasted; and it is the same total in two successive conditions--namely, the human race as ruined in Adam and recovered in Christ).
20, 21. Moreover the law--"The law, however." The Jew might say, If the whole purposes of God towards men center in Adam and Christ, where does "the law" come in, and what was the use of it? Answer: It
entered--But the word expresses an important idea besides "entering." It signifies, "entered incidentally," or "parenthetically." (In Galatians 2:4 the same word is rendered, "came in privily.") The meaning is, that the promulgation of the law at Sinai was no primary or essential feature of the divine plan, but it was "added" ( Galatians 3:19 ) for a subordinate purpose--the more fully to reveal the evil occasioned by Adam, and the need and glory of the remedy by Christ.
that the offence might abound--or, "be multiplied." But what offense? Throughout all this section "the offense" (four times repeated besides here) has one definite meaning, namely, "the one first offense of Adam"; and this, in our judgment, is its meaning here also: "All our multitudinous breaches of the law are nothing but that one first offense, lodged mysteriously in the bosom of every child of Adam as an offending principal, and multiplying itself into myriads of particular offenses in the life of each." What was one act of disobedience in the head has been converted into a vital and virulent principle of disobedience in all the members of the human family, whose every act of wilful rebellion proclaims itself the child of the original transgression.
But where sin abounded--or, "was multiplied."
grace did much more abound--rather, "did exceedingly abound," or "superabound." The comparison here is between the multiplication of one offense into countless transgressions, and such an overflow of grace as more than meets that appalling case.
21. That as sin--Observe, the word "offense" is no more used, as that had been sufficiently illustrated; but--what better befitted this comprehensive summation of the whole matter--the great general term sin.
hath reigned unto death--rather, "in death," triumphing and (as it were) revelling in that complete destruction of its victims.
even so might grace reign--In Romans 5:14 Romans 5:17 we had the reign of death over the guilty and condemned in Adam; here it is the reign of the mighty causes of these--of SIN which clothes Death a Sovereign with venomous power ( 1 Corinthians 15:56 ) and with awful authority ( Romans 6:23 ), and of GRACE, the grace which originated the scheme of salvation, the grace which "sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world," the grace which "made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin," the grace which "makes us to be the righteousness of God in Him," so that "we who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness do reign in life by One, Jesus Christ!"
through righteousness--not ours certainly ("the obedience of Christians," to use the wretched language of GROTIUS) nor yet exactly "justification" [STUART, HODGE]; but rather, "the (justifying) righteousness of Christ" [BEZA, ALFORD, and in substance, OLSHAUSEN, MEYER]; the same which in Romans 5:19 is called His "obedience," meaning His whole mediatorial work in the flesh. This is here represented as the righteous medium through which grace reaches its objects and attains all its ends, the stable throne from which Grace as a Sovereign dispenses its saving benefits to as many as are brought under its benign sway.
unto eternal life--which is salvation in its highest form and fullest development for ever.
by Jesus Christ our Lord--Thus, on that "Name which is above every name," the echoes of this hymn to the glory of "Grace" die away, and "Jesus is left alone."
On reviewing this golden section of our Epistle, the following additional remarks occur: (1) If this section does not teach that the whole race of Adam, standing in him as their federal head, "sinned in him and fell with him in his first transgression," we may despair of any intelligible exposition of it. The apostle, after saying that Adam's sin introduced death into the world, does not say "and so death passed upon all men for that Adam "sinned," but "for that all sinned." Thus, according to the teaching of the apostle, "the death of all is for the sin of all"; and as this cannot mean the personal sins of each individual, but some sin of which unconscious infants are guilty equally with adults, it can mean nothing but the one "first transgression" of their common head, regarded as the sin of each of his race, and punished, as such, with death. It is vain to start back from this imputation to all of the guilt of Adam's first sin, as wearing the appearance of injustice. For not only are all other theories liable to the same objection, in some other form--besides being inconsistent with the text--but the actual facts of human nature, which none dispute, and which cannot be explained away, involve essentially the same difficulties as the great principle on which the apostle here explains them. If we admit this principle, on the authority of our apostle, a flood of light is at once thrown upon certain features of the divine procedure, and certain portions of the divine oracles, which otherwise are involved in much darkness; and if the principle itself seem hard to digest, it is not harder than the existence of evil, which, as a fact, admits of no dispute, but, as a feature in the divine administration, admits of no explanation in the present state. (2) What is called original sin--or that depraved tendency to evil with which every child of Adam comes into the world--is not formally treated of in this section (and even in the seventh chapter, it is rather its nature and operation than its connection with the first sin which is handled). But indirectly, this section bears testimony to it; representing the one original offense, unlike every other, as having an enduring vitality in the bosom of every child of Adam, as a principle of disobedience, whose virulence has gotten it the familiar name of "original sin." (3) In what sense is the word "death" used throughout this section? Not certainly as mere temporal death, as Arminian commentators affirm. For as Christ came to undo what Adam did, which is all comprehended in the word "death," it would hence follow that Christ has merely dissolved the sentence by which soul and body are parted in death; in other words, merely procured the resurrection of the body. But the New Testament throughout teaches that the salvation of Christ is from a vastly more comprehensive "death" than that. But neither is death here used merely in the sense of penal evil, that is, "any evil inflicted in punishment of sin and for the support of law" [HODGE]. This is too indefinite, making death a mere figure of speech to denote "penal evil" in general--an idea foreign to the simplicity of Scripture--or at least making death, strictly so called, only one part of the thing meant b.y it, which ought not to be resorted to if a more simple and natural explanation can be found. By "death" then, in this section, we understand the sinner's destruction, in the only sense in which he is capable of it. Even temporal death is called "destruction" ( Deuteronomy 7:23 , 1 Samuel 5:11 , &c.), as extinguishing all that men regard as life. But a destruction extending to the soul as well as the body, and into the future world, is clearly expressed in Matthew 7:13 , 2 Thessalonians 1:9 , 2 Peter 3:16 , &c. This is the penal "death" of our section, and in this view of it we retain its proper sense. Life--as a state of enjoyment of the favor of God, of pure fellowship with Him, and voluntary subjection to Him--is a blighted thing from the moment that sin is found in the creature's skirts; in that sense, the threatening, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," was carried into immediate effect in the case of Adam when he fell; who was thenceforward "dead while he lived." Such are all his posterity from their birth. The separation of soul and body in temporal death carries the sinner's destruction" a stage farther; dissolving his connection with that world out of which he extracted a pleasurable, though unblest, existence, and ushering him into the presence of his Judge--first as a disembodied spirit, but ultimately in the body too, in an enduring condition--"to be punished (and this is the final state) with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." This final extinction in soul and body of all that constitutes life, but yet eternal consciousness of a blighted existence--this, in its amplest and most awful sense, is "DEATH"! Not that Adam understood all that. It is enough that he understood "the day" of his disobedience to be the terminating period of his blissful "life." In that simple idea was wrapt up all the rest. But that he should comprehend its details was not necessary. Nor is it necessary to suppose all that to be intended in every passage of Scripture where the word occurs. Enough that all we have described is in the bosom of the thing, and will be realized in as many as are not the happy subjects of the Reign of Grace. Beyond doubt, the whole of this is intended in such sublime and comprehensive passages as this: "God . . . gave His . . . Son that whosoever believeth in Him might not PERISH, but have everlasting LIFE" ( John 3:16 ). And should not the untold horrors of that "DEATH"--already "reigning over" all that are not in Christ, and hastening to its consummation--quicken our flight into "the second Adam," that having "received the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, we may reign in LIFE by the One, Jesus Christ?"