For when we were yet without strength
The apostle having mentioned the love of God proceeds to give an instance, and which is a full proof and demonstration of it, which is, that
in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
That Christ died is certain; the death of Christ was foretold in prophecy, typified by the sacrifices of slain beasts, was spoken of by himself, both before and since his death; his enemies have never denied it; and this was the sum of the ministry of the apostles, and is the great article of faith: and that the death of Christ is a singular instance of the love of God, is evident by considering the person that died, the Son of God in human nature, his own, his only begotten Son, his beloved Son; the concern which God had in it, by willing, ordering, and appointing it, awaking the sword of justice against him, not sparing him, but delivering him up for us all; also the nature, kind, and manner of his death, and particularly the persons for whom he died, here described: he "died for the ungodly"; not for himself, he had no sins of his own to die for, nor did he want any happiness to procure; nor for angels, but for men; and these not holy, just, and good men, but ungodly; and not as a mere martyr, or only by way of example to them, and so for their good; but as the Syriac version reads it, (aeyvr Plx) , "in the room", or "stead of the ungodly", as their surety to make satisfaction for their sins. The Jews have a notion of the Messiah's being a substitute, and standing in the place and stead of sinners; and they say F24,
``that Aaron filled up the place of the first Adam, and was brought near in the room of him;''which is true of Christ, the antitype of Aaron. On those words, "I will give a man for thee", ( Isaiah 43:4 ) ; the doctors F25 say,
``do not read Adam, but Edom; for when God removes the decree (or punishment) from a particular man, he provides for the attribute of justice in the room of the man that sinned, (Mwdam ab rxa vya) , "another man that comes from Edom";''referring, as I think, to ( Isaiah 63:1 ) . And this their character of ungodly shows, that not goodness in man, but love in God, was the moving cause of Christ's dying for them; and that the end of his dying was to atone for their ungodliness: and to illustrate the love of God the more towards them in this instance, they are said to be "without strength" at that time; being so enfeebled by sin, that they were not capable of fulfilling the law, of atoning for the transgressions of it, of redeeming themselves from slavery, of beginning and carrying on a work of holiness their hearts, nor indeed of doing one good thing. Add to all this, that Christ died for these persons in due time; in the most fit, proper, and convenient season to illustrate the love and grace of God; when man appeared both weak and wicked; when the weakness of the legal dispensation had been sufficiently evinced, and the wickedness of man, both among Jews and Gentiles, was at a very great height: or rather by "due time" is meant the "fulness of time", ( Galatians 4:4 ) ( Ephesians 1:10 ) ; the time appointed in council by God, agreed to by Christ, and fixed in prophecy; before the departure of the sceptre from Judah, the destruction of the second temple, and at the close of Daniel's weeks.
F24 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 96. 1. & 97. 4. & 98. 3.
F25 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 93. 4.