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Bible Commentaries
Romans 5

Clarke's CommentaryClarke Commentary

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Verse 1


The effects of justification by faith, peace with God, 1.

The joyous hope of eternal glory, 2.

Glorying in tribulations, 3.

And gaining thereby patience, experience, and hope, 4.

And having the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy

Spirit, 5.

The state of the world when Christ died for it, 6-10.

Jesus Christ is an atonement, 11.

Sin and death entered into the world by Adam's transgression,

and all became guilty before God, 12-14.

God's grace in sending Christ into the world to save fallen man,


The law is brought in to show the exceeding sinfulness of sin,


The grace of Christ is to be as extensive in its influences and

reign, as sin has been in its enslaving and destructive nature,



Is the former chapter, the apostle, having proved that the believing Gentiles are justified in the same way with Abraham, and are, in fact, his seed, included with him in the promise and covenant; he judged this a proper place, as the Jews built all their glorying upon the Abrahamic covenant, to produce some of the chief of those privileges and blessings in which the Christian Gentile can glory, in consequence of his justification by faith. And he produces three particulars which, above all others, were adapted to this purpose.

1. The hope of eternal life, in which the law, wherein the Jew gloried, Romans 2:17, was defective, Romans 5:2.

2. The persecutions and sufferings to which Christians were exposed, Romans 5:3; Romans 5:4, and on account of which the Jews were greatly prejudiced against the Christian profession: but he shows that these had a happy tendency to establish the heart in the hope of the Gospel.

3. An interest in God, as our GOD and FATHER-a privilege upon which the Jews valued themselves highly above all nations, Romans 5:11.

These three are the singular privileges belonging to the Gospel state, wherein true Christians may glory, as really belonging to them, and greatly redounding, if duly understood and improved, to their honour and benefit.

Verse Romans 5:1. Therefore being justified by faith — The apostle takes it for granted that he has proved that justification is by faith, and that the Gentiles have an equal title with the Jews to salvation by faith. And now he proceeds to show the effects produced in the hearts of the believing Gentiles by this doctrine. We are justified-have all our sins pardoned by faith, as the instrumental cause; for, being sinners, we have no works of righteousness that we can plead.

We have peace with God — Before, while sinners, we were in a state of enmity with God, which was sufficiently proved by our rebellion against his authority, and our transgression of his laws; but now, being reconciled, we have peace with God. Before, while under a sense of the guilt of sin, we had nothing but terror and dismay in our own consciences; now, having our sin forgiven, we have peace in our hearts, feeling that all our guilt is taken away. Peace is generally the first-fruits of our justification.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ — His passion and death being the sole cause of our reconciliation to God.

Verse 2

Verse Romans 5:2. By whom also — We are not only indebted to our Lord Jesus Christ for the free and full pardon which we have received, but our continuance in a justified state depends upon his gracious influence in our hearts, and his intercession before the throne of God.

We have access — προσαγωγην εσχηκαμεν, We have received this access. It was only through Christ that we could at first approach God; and it is only through him that the privilege is continued to us. And this access to God, or introduction to the Divine presence, is to be considered as a lasting privilege. We are not brought to God for the purpose of an interview, but to remain with him; to be his household; and, by faith, to behold his face, and walk in the light of his countenance.

Into this grace — This state of favour and acceptance.

Wherein we stand — Having firm footing, and a just title through the blood of the Lamb to the full salvation of God.

And rejoice — Have solid happiness, from the evidence we have of our acceptance with Him.

In hope of the glory of God. — Having our sins remitted, and our souls adopted into the heavenly family, we are become heirs; for if children, then heirs, Galatians 4:7; and that glory of God is now become our endless inheritance. While the Jews boast of their external privileges-that they have the temple of God among them; that their priests have an entrance to God as their representatives, carrying before the mercy-seat the blood of their offered victims; we exult in being introduced by Jesus Christ to the Divine presence; his blood having been shed and sprinkled for this purpose; and thus we have, spiritually and essentially, all that these Jewish rites, &c., signified. We are in the peace of God, and we are happy in the enjoyment of that peace, and have a blessed foretaste of eternal glory. Thus we have heaven upon earth, and the ineffable glories of God in prospect.

Verse 3

Verse Romans 5:3. And not only so — We are not only happy from being in this state of communion with our God, and the prospect of being eternally with him;

But we glory in tribulations also — All the sufferings we endure for the testimony of our Lord are so sanctified to us by his grace, that they become powerful instruments of increasing our happiness.

Tribulation worketh patience — υπομονην, Endurance under trials, without sustaining loss or deterioration. It is a metaphor taken from refining metals. We do not speak thus from any sudden raptures, or extraordinary sensations we may have of spiritual joy: for we find that the tribulations through which we pass are the means of exercising and increasing our patience, our meek forbearance of injuries received, or persecutions experienced, on account of the Gospel.

Verse 4

Verse Romans 5:4. And patience, experience — δοκιμεν, Full proof, by trial, of the truth of our religion, the solidity of our Christian state, and the faithfulness of our God. In such cases we have the opportunity of putting our religion to the test; and, by every such test, it receives the deeper sterling stamp. The apostle uses here also a metaphor taken from the purifying, refining, and testing of silver and gold.

Experience, hope — For we thus calculate, that he who has supported us in the past will support us in those which may yet come; and as we have received so much spiritual profiting by means of the sufferings through which we have already passed, we may profit equally by those which are yet to come: and this hope prevents us from dreading coming trials; we receive them as means of grace, and find that all things work together for good to them that love God.

Verse 5

Verse Romans 5:5. And hope maketh not ashamed — A hope that is not rationally founded will have its expectation cut off; and then shame and confusion will be the portion of its possessor. But our hope is of a different kind; it is founded on the goodness and truth of God; and our religious experience shows us that we have not misapplied it; nor exercised it on wrong or improper objects.

Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts — We have the most solid and convincing testimony of God's love to us, by that measure of it which he has communicated to our hearts. There, εκκεχυται, it is poured out, and diffused abroad; filling, quickening, and invigorating all our powers and faculties. This love is the spring of all our actions; it is the motive of our obedience; the principle through which we love God, we love him because he first loved us; and we love him with a love worthy of himself, because it springs from him: it is his own; and every flame that rises from this pure and vigorous fire must be pleasing in his sight: it consumes what is unholy; refines every passion and appetite; sublimes the whole, and assimilates all to itself. And we know that this is the love of God; it differs widely from all that is earthly and sensual. The Holy Ghost comes with it; by his energy it is diffused and pervades every part; and by his light we discover what it is, and know the state of grace in which we stand. Thus we are furnished to every good word and work; have produced in us the mind that was in Christ; are enabled to obey the pure law of our God in its spiritual sense, by loving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbour, any and every soul of man, as ourselves. This is, or ought to be, the common experience of every genuine believer; but, in addition to this, the primitive Christians had, sometimes, the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. These were then needful; and were they needful now, they would be again communicated.

Verse 6

Verse Romans 5:6. For when we were yet without strength — The apostle, having pointed out the glorious state of the believing Gentiles, takes occasion to contrast this with their former state; and the means by which they were redeemed from it. Their former state he points out in four particulars; which may be applied to men in general.

I. They were ασθενεις, without strength; in a weak, dying state: neither able to resist sin, nor do any good: utterly devoid of power to extricate themselves from the misery of their situation.

II. They were ασεβεις, ungodly; without either the worship or knowledge of the true God; they had not God in them; and, consequently, were not partakers of the Divine nature: Satan lived in, ruled, and enslaved their hearts.

III. They were αμαρτωλοι, sinners, Romans 5:8, aiming at happiness, but constantly missing the mark, which is the ideal meaning of the Hebrew חטא chata, and the Greek αμαρτανω. See this explained, Genesis 13:13. And in missing the mark, they deviated from the right way; walked in the wrong way; trespassed in thus deviating; and, by breaking the commandments of God, not only missed the mark of felicity, but exposed themselves to everlasting misery.

IV. They were εχθροι enemies, Romans 5:10, from εχθος, hatred, enmity, persons who hated God and holiness; and acted in continual hostility to both. What a gradation is here!

1. In our fall from God, our first apparent state is, that we are without strength; have lost our principle of spiritual power, by having lost the image of God, righteousness and true holiness, in which we were created.

2. We are ungodly, having lost our strength to do good; we have also lost all power to worship God aright. The mind which was made for God is no longer his residence.

3. We are sinners; feeling we have lost our centre of rest, and our happiness, we go about seeking rest, but find none: what we have lost in losing God, we seek in earthly things; and thus are continually missing the mark, and multiplying transgressions against our Maker.

4. We are enemies; sin, indulged, increases in strength; evil acts engender fixed and rooted habits; the mind, every where poisoned with sin, increases in averseness from good; and mere aversion produces enmity; and enmity, acts of hostility, fell cruelty, c.: so that the enemy of God hates his Maker and his service is cruel to his fellow creatures; "a foe to God, was ne'er true friend to man;" and even torments his own soul! Though every man brings into the world the seeds of all these evils, yet it is only by growing up in him that they acquire their perfection-nemo repente fuit turpissimus-no man becomes a profligate at once; he arrives at it by slow degrees; and the speed he makes is proportioned to his circumstances, means of gratifying sinful passions, evil education, bad company, c., c. These make a great diversity in the moral states of men: all have the same seeds of evil-nemo sine vitiis nascitur-all come defiled into the world but all have not the same opportunities of cultivating these seeds. Besides, as God's Spirit is continually convincing the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and the ministers of God are seconding its influence with their pious exhortations, as the Bible is in almost every house, and is less or more heard or read by almost every person, these evil seeds are receiving continual blasts and checks, so that, in many cases, they have not a vigorous growth. These causes make the principal moral differences that we find among men though in evil propensities they are all radically the same.

That all the preceding characters are applied by some learned men to the Gentiles, exclusively as such, I am well aware; and that they may be all applied to them in a national point of view, there can be little doubt. But there are too many correspondences between the state of the modern Gentiles and that of the ancient Gentiles, to justify the propriety of applying the whole as fully to the former as to the latter. Indeed, the four particulars already explained point out the natural and practical state of every human being, previously to his regeneration by the grace and Spirit of God.

In due time Christ died for the ungodly. — This due or proper time will appear in the following particulars:-

1. Christ was manifested in the flesh when the world needed him most.

2. When the powers of the human mind had been cultivated to the utmost both in Greece and Rome, and had made every possible effort, but all in vain, to find out some efficient scheme of happiness.

3. When the Jews were in the lowest state of corruption, and had the greatest need of the promised deliverer.

4. When the fulness of the time came, foretold by the prophets.

5. When both Jews and Gentiles, the one from their jealousy, the other from their learning, were best qualified to detect imposture and to ascertain fact.

6. In a word, Christ came when his advent was most likely to promote its great object-glory to God in the highest, and peace and good will among men. And the success that attended the preaching of Christ and his apostles, together with the wide and rapid spread of the Gospel, all prove that it was the due time, κατα καιρον, the proper season; and that Divine wisdom was justified in fixing upon that time in preference to all others.

Died for the ungodly — υπερ ασεβων απεθανε, He died INSTEAD of the ungodly, see also Romans 5:8; so Luke 22:19. The body of Christ, το υπερ υμων διδομενον, which is given FOR you; i.e. the life that is laid down in your STEAD. In this way the preposition υπερ, is used by the best Greek writers.

Verse 7

Verse Romans 5:7. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die — The Jews divide men, as to their moral character, into four classes:

1. First class, Those who say, "what is mine, is my own; and what is thine, is thy own." These may be considered the just, who render to every man his due; or rather, they who neither give nor take.

2. The second class is made up of those who say, "what is mine, is thine; and what is thine, is mine." These are they who accommodate each other, who borrow and lend.

3. The third class is composed of those who say, "What is mine, is thine; and what is thine, let it be thine." These are the pious, or good, who give up all for the benefit of their neighbour.

4. The fourth class are those who say, "What is mine, is mine; and what is thine, shall be mine." These are the impious, who take all, and give nothing. Now, for one of the first class, who would die? There is nothing amiable in his life or conduct that would so endear him to any man, as to induce him to risk his life to save such a person.

Peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. — This is for one of the third class, who gives all he has for the good of others. This is the truly benevolent man, whose life is devoted to the public good: for such a person, peradventure, some who have had their lives perhaps preserved by his bounty, would even dare to die: but such cases may be considered merely as possible: they exist, it is true, in romance; and we find a few rare instances of friends exposing themselves to death for their friends. See the case of Jonathan and David; Damon and Pythias, Val. Max. lib. iv. c, 7; Nisus and Euryalus, Virgil. And our Lord says, John 15:13: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This is the utmost we can expect among men.

Verse 8

Verse Romans 5:8. But God commendeth his love, c.] συνιστησι: God hath set this act of infinite mercy in the most conspicuous light, so as to recommend it to the notice and admiration of all.

While we were yet sinners — We were neither righteous nor good but impious and wicked. See the preceding verse, and Romans 5:6; Romans 5:6.

Verse 9

Verse Romans 5:9. Much more then, being now justified — If Jesus Christ, in his endless comparison towards us gave his life for ours, while we were yet enemies; being now justified by his blood - by his death on the cross, and thus reconciled to God, we shall be saved from wrath - from punishment for past transgression, through him - by what he has thus suffered for us.

Verse 10

Verse Romans 5:10. For if, when we were enemies — See under Romans 5:6.

We were reconciled — The enmity existing before rendered the reconciliation necessary. In every human heart there is a measure of enmity to holiness, and, consequently to the author of it. Men seldom suspect this; for one property of sin is to blind the understanding, so that men do not know their own state.

We shall be saved by his life.

1. For, as he died for our sins, so he rose again for our justification; and his resurrection to life, is the grand proof that he has accomplished whatever he had purposed in reference to the salvation of man.

2. This may be also understood of his life of intercession: for it is written. He ever LIVETH to make INTERCESSION for us, Hebrews 7:25. Through this life of intercession at the right hand of God we are spared and blessed.

3. And it will not be amiss to consider that, as our salvation implies the renovation of our nature, and our being restored to the image of God, so, σωθησομεθα εν τη ζωναυτου, may be rendered: we shall be saved IN his life; for, I suppose, it is pretty generally agreed, that the life of God in the soul of man is essential to its salvation.

4. The example also of the life of Christ is a means of salvation. He hath left us an example that we should follow his steps: and he that followeth him, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of LIFE, John 8:12.

Verse 11

Verse Romans 5:11. We also joy (καυχωμενοι, we exult, or glory) in God, c.] We now feel that God is reconciled to us, and we are reconciled to him: the enmity is removed from our souls and He, for Christ's sake, through whom we have received the atonement, καταλλαγην, the reconciliation, has remitted the wrath, the punishment which we deserved: and now, through this reconciliation, we expect an eternal glory.

It was certainly improper to translate καταλλαγη here by atonement, instead of reconciliation; as καταλλασσω signifies to reconcile, and is so rendered by our translators in all the places where it occurs. It does not mean the atonement here, as we generally understand that word, viz. the sacrificial death of Christ; but rather the effect of that atonement, the removal of the enmity, and by this, the change of our condition and state; from κατα, intensive, and αλλασσω to change; the thorough change of our state from enmity to friendship. God is reconciled to us, and we are reconciled to him by the death of his Son; and thus there is a glorious change from enmity to friendship; and we can exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received this reconciliation. Though boasting is forbidden to a Jew, because his is a false confidence, yet boasting is enjoined to a Christian, to one reconciled to God; for, his boasting is only in that reconciliation, and the endless mercy by which it is procured. So he that glorieth (boasteth) must glory in the Lord.

Verse 12

Verse Romans 5:12. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world — From this verse, to the conclusion of the chapter, the apostle produces a strong argument to prove that, as all mankind stood in need of the grace of God in Christ to redeem them from their sins, so this grace has been afforded equally to all, both Jews and Gentiles.

Dr. Taylor has given the following analysis of the apostle's mode of argumentation. The argument stands thus:-"The consequences of Christ's obedience extend as far as the consequences of Adam's disobedience. The consequences of Adam's disobedience extend to all mankind; and therefore, so do the consequences of Christ's obedience. Now, if the Jews will not allow the Gentiles any interest in Abraham, as not being naturally descended from him, yet they must own that the Gentiles are the descendants of Adam, as well as themselves; and being all equally involved in the consequences of his sin, from which" (as far as the death of the body is concerned) "they shall all equally be released at the resurrection, through the free gift of God, therefore they could not deny the Gentiles a share in all the other blessings included in the same gift."

This argument, besides proving the main point, goes to show:

1. That the grace of God in the Gospel abounds beyond, or very far exceeds, the mere reversing of the sufferings brought upon mankind by Adam's one offence; as it bestows a vast surplusage of blessings which have no relation to that offence, but to the many offences which mankind have committed, and to the exuberance of the Divine grace.

2. To show how justly the Divine grace is founded on the obedience of Christ, in correspondence to the dispensation Adam was under, and to the consequences of his disobedience: if this disobedience involved all mankind in death, it is proper that the obedience of Christ should be the cause not only of reversing that death to all mankind, but also of other blessings which God should see fit (through him) to bestow on the world.

3. It serves to explain, and set in a clear view, the difference between the law and grace. It was the law which, for Adam's one transgression, subjected him and his posterity, as included in him when he transgressed, to death, without hopes of a revival. It is grace which restores all men to life at the resurrection; and, over and above that, has provided a gracious dispensation for the pardon of their sins; for reducing them to obedience; for guarding them against temptations; supplying them with strength and comfort; and for advancing them to eternal life. This would give the attentive Jew a just notion of the law which himself was under, and under which he was desirous of bringing the Gentiles.

The order in which the apostle handles this argument is this:-

1. He affirms that death passed upon all men by Adam's one transgression, Romans 5:12.

2. He proves this, Romans 5:13; Romans 5:14:

3. He affirms there is a correspondence between Adam and Christ; or between the παραπτωμα, offence, and the χαρισμα, free gift, Romans 5:14.

4. This correspondence, so far as the two opposite parts answer to each other, is justly expressed, Romans 5:18; Romans 5:19; and there we have the main or fundamental position of the apostle's argument, in relation to the point which he has been arguing from the beginning of the epistle, namely, the extensiveness of the grace of the Gospel, that it actually reaches to ALL MEN, and is not confined to the Jews.

5. But, before he laid down this position, it was necessary that he should show that the correspondence between Adam and Christ, or between the offence and the gift, is not to be confined strictly to the bounds specified in the position, as if the gift reached no farther than the consequences of the offence; when in reality it extends vastly beyond them, Romans 5:15-17.

6. Having settled these points, as previously necessary to clear his fundamental position, and fit to his argument, he then lays down that position in a diversified manner of speech, Romans 5:18; Romans 5:19, just as in 1 Corinthians 15:20, 1 Corinthians 15:21, and leaves us to conclude, from the premises laid down, Romans 5:15-17, that the gift and the grace in its utmost extent, is as free to all mankind who are willing to accept of it, as this particular instance, the resurrection from the dead. They shall all be raised from the dead hereafter; they may all be quickened by the Spirit here.

7. Having thus shown the extensiveness of the Divine grace, in opposition to the dire effects of the law under which Adam was; that the Jews might not overlook what he intended they should particularly observe, he puts them in mind that the law given to Adam, transgress and die, was introduced into the Jewish constitution by the ministry of Moses; and for this end, that the offence, with the penalty of death annexed to it, might abound, Romans 5:20. But, to illustrate tho Divine grace by setting it in contrast to the law, he immediately adds: where sin, subjecting to death, hath abounded, grace hath much more abounded; that is, in blessings bestowed; it has stretched far beyond both Adam's transgression, and the transgressions under the law of Moses, Romans 5:20; Romans 5:21, and see the note on the first of these verses.

Upon this argument the learned doctor makes the following general remarks:-

"I. As to the order of time: the apostle carries his arguments backwards from the time when Christ came into the world (Romans 1:17; to Romans 4:0.) to the time when the covenant was made with Abraham, (Romans 4:0.,) to the time when the judgment to condemnation, pronounced upon Adam, came upon all men, Romans 5:12, to the end. And thus he gives us a view of the principal dispensations from the beginning of the world.

"II. In this last case, as well as in the two former, he uses law or forensic terms; judgment to condemnation, justification, justify, made sinners, made righteous. And therefore, as he considers both Jews and Gentiles at the coming of Christ, and Abraham when the covenant was made with him, so he considers Adam, and all men, as standing in the court before the tribunal of God. And this was the clearest and concisest way of representing his arguments." Notes, p. 283.

Sin entered into the world — There was neither sin nor death before the offence of Adam; after that there were both. Adam's transgression was therefore the cause of both.

And death by sinNatural evil is evidently the effect of moral evil; if man had never sinned, he had never suffered. Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return, was never spoken till after Adam had eaten the forbidden fruit.

Death passed upon all men — Hence we see that all human beings partook in the consequences of Adam's sin. He propagated his like; and, with the rudiments of his own nature, propagated those of his moral likeness.

For that all have sinned — All are born with a sinful nature; and the seeds of this evil soon vegetate, and bring forth corresponding fruits. There has never been one instance of an immaculate human soul since the fall of Adam. Every man sins, and sins too after the similitude of Adam's transgression. Adam endeavoured to be independent of God; all his offspring act in the same way: hence prayer is little used, because prayer is the language of dependence; and this is inconsistent with every emotion of original sin. When these degenerate children of degenerate parents are detected in their sins, they act just as their parents did; each excuses himself, and lays the blame on another. What hast thou done?-The woman whom THOU gavest me, to be with me; SHE gave me, and I did eat. What hast THOU done? -The SERPENT beguiled me, and I did eat. Thus, it is extremely difficult to find a person who ingenuously acknowledges his own transgressions.

Genesis 3:6; Genesis 3:6, &c., where the doctrine of original sin is particularly considered.

Verse 13

Verse Romans 5:13. For until the law sin was in the world — As death reigned from Adam to Moses, so also did sin. Now, as there was no written law from Adam to that given to Moses, the death that prevailed could not be the breach of that law; for sin, so as to be punished with temporal death, is not imputed where there is no law, which shows the penalty of sin to be death. Therefore, men are not subjected to death for their own personal transgressions, but for the sin of Adam; as, through his transgression, all come into the world with the seeds of death and corruption in their own nature, superadded to their moral depravity. All are sinful-all are mortal-and all must die.

Verse 14

Verse Romans 5:14. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses — This supposes, as Dr. Taylor very properly observes:-

1. That sin was in the world from Adam to Moses.

2. That law was not in the world from Adam to Moses during the space of about 2500 years; for, after Adam's transgression, that law was abrogated; and, from that time, men were either under the general covenant of grace given to Adam or Noah, or under that which was specially made with Abraham.

3. That, therefore, the sins committed were not imputed unto them to death, for they did not sin after the similitude of Adam's transgression; that is, they did not, like him, transgress a law, or rule of action, to which death, as the penalty, was annexed. And yet-

4. Death reigned over mankind during the period between Adam and Moses; therefore men did not die for their own transgressions, but in consequence of Adam's one transgression.

Who is the figure of him that was to come. — Adam was the figure, τυπος, the type, pattern, or resemblance of him who was to come; i.e. of the Messiah. The correspondence between them appears in the following particulars:-

1. Through him, as its spring and fountain, sin became diffused through the world, so that every man comes into the world with sinful propensities: for by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, Romans 5:12. Through Christ, as its spring and fountain, righteousness becomes diffused through the earth; so that every man is made partaker of a principle of grace and truth; for he is the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world, John 1:9.

2. As in Adam all die; so in Christ shall all be made alive, 1 Corinthians 15:22. For, since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:21.

3. As in or through Adam guilt came upon all men, so, through Christ, the free gift comes upon all men unto justification of life, Romans 5:18. These alone seem to be the instances in which a similitude exists between Adam and Christ.

Verse 15

Verse Romans 5:15. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. — The same learned writer, quoted above, continues to observe:- "It is evident that the apostle, in this and the two following verses, is running a parallel, or making a comparison between the offence of Adam and its consequence; and the opposite gift of God and its consequences. And, in these three verses, he shows that the comparison will not hold good in all respects, because the free gift, χαρισμα, bestows blessings far beyond the consequences of the offence, and which, therefore, have no relation to it. And this was necessary, not only to prevent mistakes concerning the consequence of Adam's offence, and the extent of Gospel grace; but it was also necessary to the apostle's main design, which was not only to prove that the grace of the Gospel extends to all men, so far as it takes off the consequence of Adam's offence, [i.e. death, without the promise or probability of a resurrection,] but that it likewise extends to all men, with respect to the surplusage of blessings, in which it stretches far beyond the consequence of Adam's offence. For, the grace that takes off the consequence of Adam's offence, and the grace which abounds beyond it, are both included in the same χαρισμα, or free gift, which should be well observed; for in this, I conceive, lie the connection and sinews of the argument: the free gift, which stands opposed to Adam's offence, and which, I think, was bestowed immediately after the offence; Genesis 3:15: The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. This gift, I say, includes both the grace which exactly answers to the offence, and is that part of the grace which stretches far beyond it. And, if the one part of the gift be freely bestowed on all mankind, as the Jews allow, why not the other? especially, considering that the whole gift stands upon a reason and foundation in excellence and worth, vastly surpassing the malignity and demerit of the offence; and, consequently, capable of producing benefits vastly beyond the sufferings occasioned by the offence. This is the force of the apostle's argument; and therefore, supposing that in the 18th and l9th verses, Romans 5:18; Romans 5:19 literally understood, he compares the consequence of Adam's offence and Christ's obedience, only so far as the one is commensurate to the other, yet his reasoning, Romans 5:15-17, plainly shows that it is his meaning and intention that we should take into his conclusion the whole of the gift, so far as it can reach, to all mankind."

For if, through the offence of one, many be dead — That the οι πολλοι, the many of the apostle here means all mankind needs no proof to any but that person who finds himself qualified to deny that all men are mortal. And if the many, that is, all mankind, have died through the offence of one; certainly, the gift by grace, which abounds unto τουςπολλους, the many, by Christ Jesus, must have reference to every human being. If the consequences of Christ's incarnation and death extend only to a few, or a select number of mankind-which, though they may be considered many in themselves, are few in comparison of the whole human race-then the consequences of Adam's sin have extended only to a few, or to the same select number: and if only many, and not all have fallen, only that many had need of a Redeemer. For it is most evident that the same persons are referred to in both clauses of the verse. If the apostle had believed that the benefits of the death of Christ had extended only to a select number of mankind, he never could have used the language he has done here: though, in the first clause, he might have said, without any qualification of the term, Through the offence of one, MANY are dead; in the 2nd clause, to be consistent with the doctrine of particular redemption, he must have said, The grace of God, and the gift by grace, hath abounded unto SOME. As by the offence of one judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation; so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon SOME to justification, Romans 5:18. As, by one man's disobedience, MANY were made sinners; so, by the obedience of one, shall SOME be made righteous, Romans 5:19. As in Adam ALL die; so, in Christ, shall SOME be made alive, 1 Corinthians 15:22. But neither the doctrine nor the thing ever entered the soul of this divinely inspired man.

Hath abounded unto many. — That is, Christ Jesus died for every man; salvation is free for all; saving grace is tendered to every soul; and a measure of the Divine light is actually communicated to every heart, John 1:9. And, as the grace is offered, so it may be received; and hence the apostle says, Romans 5:17: They which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by Christ Jesus: and by receiving is undoubtedly meant not only the act of receiving, but retaining and improving the grace which they receive; and, as all may receive, so ALL may improve and retain the grace they do receive; and, consequently, ALL may be eternally saved. But of multitudes Christ still may say, They WILL not come unto me, that they might have life.

Verse 16

Verse Romans 5:16. And not as it was by one that sinned — That is, the judicial act that followed Adam's sin (the sentence of death pronounced upon him, and his expulsion from paradise) took its rise from his one offence alone, and terminated in condemnation; but the free gift of God in Christ takes its rise also from the many offences which men, in a long course of life, have personally committed; and the object of this grace is to justify them freely, and bring them to eternal life.

Verse 17

Verse 17. Death reigned by one — Death is here personified, and is represented as reigning over the human race; and death, of course, reigns unto death; he is known as reigning, by the destruction of his subjects.

Shall reign in life — Those who receive, retain, and improve the abundant grace offered by Jesus Christ, shall be redeemed from the empire of death, and exalted to the throne of God, to live and reign with him ever, world without end. See Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:6; Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:10, Revelation 2:11; Revelation 3:21.

If we carefully compare Romans 5:15 with Romans 5:17, we shall find that there is a correspondence between περισσειαν, the abounding, Romans 5:17, and επερισευσε hath abounded, Romans 5:15; between της δωρεας της δικαιοσυνης, the gift of righteousness, i.e. justification, Romans 5:17, and η δωρεα εν χαριτι, the gift by grace, Romans 5:15; therefore, if we understand the abounding of grace, and the gift of justification, Romans 5:17, we shall understand the grace of God, and the gift by grace which hath abounded unto the many, Romans 5:15. But the abounding of grace, and the gift of justification, Romans 5:17, is that grace and gift which is RECEIVED by those who shall reign in eternal life. Reigning in life is the consequence of receiving the grace and gift. Therefore, receiving the grace is a necessary qualification on our part for reigning in life; and this necessarily implies our believing in Christ Jesus, as having died for our offences, receiving the grace so freely offered us; using the means in order to get more grace, and bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit. Receive must here have the same sense as in Matthew 13:20: He heareth the word, and anon with joy RECEIVETH it. John 1:12: But as many as RECEIVED him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God. John 3:11: Ye RECEIVE not our witness. - See also John 3:32, 3 John 1:5:43 : I am come in my Father's name, and ye RECEIVE me not. John 12:48: He that RECEIVETH not my words. John 13:20: He that receiveth whomsoever I send, RECEIVETH me. John 14:17: The Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot RECEIVE. John 17:8: I have given them the words which thou gavest me; and they have RECEIVED them. In all these passages it is evident that receiving and not receiving imply improving or not improving.

Verse 18

Verse 18. Therefore, as by the offence of one, c.] The Greek text of this verse is as follows:- Αρα ουν, ὡς δι' ἑνος παραπτωματος, εις παντας ανθρωπους εις κατακριμα· αυτω και ἑνος δικαιωματος, εις παντας ανθρωπους, εις δικαιωσιν ζωης; which literally rendered stands thus:-Therefore, as by one offence unto all men, unto condemnation; so likewise, by one righteousness unto all men, to justification of life. This is evidently an elliptical sentence, and its full meaning can be gathered only from the context. He who had no particular purpose to serve would, most probably, understand it, from the context, thus:- Therefore, as by one sin all men came into condemnation; so also by one righteous act all men came unto justification of life: which is more fully expressed in the following verse. Now, leaving all particular creeds out of the question, and taking in the scope of the apostle's reasoning in this and the preceding chapter, is not the sense evidently this? - Through the disobedience of Adam, a sentence of condemnation to death, without any promise or hope of a resurrection, passed upon all men; so, by the obedience of Christ unto death, this one grand righteous act, the sentence was so far reversed, that death shall not finally triumph, for all shall again be restored to life. Justice must have its due; and therefore all must die. The mercy of God, in Christ Jesus, shall have its due also; and therefore all shall be put into a salvable state here, and the whole human race shall be raised to life at the great day. Thus both justice and mercy are magnified; and neither is exalted at the expense of the other.

The apostle uses three remarkable words in these three verses:-

1. δικαιωμα, justification, Romans 5:16.

2. δικαιοσυνη, which we render righteousness, Romans 5:17; but is best rendered justification, as expressing that pardon and salvation offered to us in the Gospel: Romans 1:16; Romans 1:16.

3. δικαιωσις, which is also rendered justification, Romans 5:18.

The first word, δικαιωμα, is found in the following places: Luke 1:6; Romans 1:32; Romans 2:26; Romans 5:16, Romans 5:18; Romans 8:4; Hebrews 9:1, Hebrews 9:10; Revelation 15:4; Revelation 19:8; to which the reader may refer. δικαιωμα signifies, among the Greek writers, the sentence of a judge, acquitting the innocent, condemning and punishing the guilty; but in the New Testament it signifies whatever God has appointed or sanctioned as a law; and appears to answer to the Hebrew משפט יהוה mishpat Yehovah, the statute or judgment, of the Lord; It has evidently this sense in Luke 1:6: Walking in all the commandments and ORDINANCES, δικαιωμασι, of the Lord blameless; and it has the like meaning in the principal places referred to above; but in the verse in question it most evidently means absolution, or liberation, from punishment, as it is opposed to κατακριμα, condemnation, Romans 5:18. Romans 1:16; Romans 1:16; and see Schleusner in voce.

The second word, δικαιοσυνη, I have explained at large in Romans 1:16, already referred to.

The third word δικαιωσις, is used by the Greek writers, almost universally, to denote the punishment inflicted on a criminal, or the condemnatory sentence itself; but in the New Testament where it occurs only twice, (Romans 4:25, he was raised for our justification, δικαιωσιν; and Romans 5:18, unto justification of life, δικαιωσιν ζωης,) it evidently signifies the pardon and remission of sins; and seems to be nearly synonymous with δικαιωμα. Dr. Taylor thinks that "δικαιοσυνη is Gospel pardon and salvation, and has reference to God's mercy. δικαιωμα is our being set quite clear and right; or our being restored to sanctity, delivered from eternal death, and being brought to eternal life; and has reference to the power and guilt of sin. And δικαιωσις he thinks may mean no more than our being restored to life at the resurrection." Taking these in their order, there is:

First, pardon of sin.

Secondly, purification of heart, and preparation for glory.

Thirdly, the resurrection of the body, and its being made like to his glorious body, so as to become a fit tabernacle for the soul in a glorified state for ever and ever.

The same writer observes that, when the apostle speaks of forgiveness of sins simply, he insists on faith as the condition; but here, where he speaks of justification of life, he mentions no condition; and therefore he supposes justification of life, the phrase being understood in a forensic sense, to mean no more than the decree or judgment that determines the resurrection from the dead. This is a favourite point with the doctor, and he argues largely for it: see his notes.

Verse 19

Verse 19. For, as by one man's disobedience, &c.] The explanation of this verse has been anticipated in the foregoing.

Verse 20

Verse 20. The law entered that (ινα) the offence might abound. — After considering various opinions concerning the true meaning of this verse, (see under Romans 5:12,) I am induced to prefer my own, as being the most simple. By law I understand the Mosaic law. By entering in, παρεισηλθεν, or, rather, coming in privily, see Galatians 2:4, (the only place where it occurs besides,) I understand the temporary or limited use of that law, which was, as far as its rites and ceremonies are considered, confined to the Jewish people, and to them only till the Messiah should come; but considered as the moral law, or rule of conscience and life, it has in its spirit and power been slipped in-introduced into every conscience, that sin might abound-that the true nature, deformity, and extent of sin might appear; for by the law is the knowledge of sin: for how can the finer deviations from a straight line be ascertained, without the application of a known straight edge? Without this rule of right, sin can only be known in a sort of general way; the innumerable deviations from positive rectitude can only be known by the application of the righteous statutes of which the law is composed. And it was necessary that this law should be given, that the true nature of sin might be seen, and that men might be the better prepared to receive the Gospel; finding that this law worketh only wrath, i.e. denounces punishment, forasmuch as all have sinned. Now, it is wisely ordered of God, that wherever the Gospel goes there the law goes also; entering every where, that sin may be seen to abound, and that men may be led to despair of salvation in any other way or on any terms but those proposed in the Gospel of Christ. Thus the sinner becomes a true penitent, and is glad, seeing the curse of the law hanging over his soul, to flee for refuge to the hope set before him in the Gospel. On the meaning of ινα, in various places, see Chrysost. vol. iii. p. 241. See also Hammond on the word in his notes on the New Testament.

But where sin abounded — Whether in the world, or in the heart of the individual, being discovered by this most pure and righteous law, grace did much more abound: not only pardon for all that is past is offered by the Gospel, so that all the transgressions for which the soul is condemned to death by the law, are freely and fully forgiven; but also the Holy Spirit, in the abundance of his gifts and graces, is communicated, so as to prepare the receiver for an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Thus the grace of the Gospel not only redeems from death, and restores to life, but brings the soul into such a relationship with God, and into such a participation of eternal glory, as we have no authority to believe ever would have been the portion even of Adam himself, had he even eternally retained his innocence. Thus, where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound.

Verse 21

Verse 21. That as sin hath reigned unto death — As extensively, as deeply, as universally, as sin, whether implying the act of transgression or the impure principle from which the act proceeds, or both. Hath reigned, subjected the whole earth and all its inhabitants; the whole soul, and all its powers and faculties, unto death, temporal of the body, spiritual of the soul, and eternal of both; even so, as extensively, deeply, and universally might grace reign-filling the whole earth, and pervading, purifying, and refining the whole soul: through righteousness-through this doctrine of free salvation by the blood of the Lamb, and by the principle of holiness transfused through the soul by the Holy Ghost: unto eternal life-the proper object of an immortal spirit's hope, the only sphere where the human intellect can rest, and be happy in the place and state where God is; where he is seen AS HE IS; and where he can be enjoyed with out interruption in an eternal progression of knowledge and beatitude: by Jesus Christ our Lord-as the cause of our salvation, the means by which it is communicated, and the source whence it springs. Thus we find, that the salvation from sin here is as extensive and complete as the guilt and contamination of sin; death is conquered, hell disappointed, the devil confounded, and sin totally destroyed. Here is glorying: To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests to God and his Father, be glory and dominion, for ever and ever. Amen. Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth! Amen and Amen.

WHAT highly interesting and momentous truths does the preceding chapter bring to our view! No less than the doctrine of the fall of man from original righteousness; and the redemption of the world by the incarnation and death of Christ. On the subject of the FALL, though I have spoken much in the notes on Genesis, chap. Genesis 3:0, yet it may be necessary to make a few farther observations:-

1. That all mankind have fallen under the empire of death, through this original transgression, the apostle most positively asserts; and few men who profess to believe the Bible, pretend to dispute. This point is indeed ably stated, argued, and proved by Dr. Taylor, from whose observations the preceding notes are considerably enriched. But there is one point which I think not less evident, which he has not only not included in his argument, but, as far as it came in his way, has argued against it, viz. the degeneracy and moral corruption of the human soul. As no man can account for the death brought into the world but on the ground of this primitive transgression, so none can account for the moral evil that is in the world on any other ground. It is a fact, that every human being brings into the world with him the seeds of dissolution and mortality. Into this state we are fallen, according to Divine revelation, through the one offence of Adam. This fact is proved by the mortality of all men. It is not less a fact, that every man that is born into the world brings with him the seeds of moral evil; these he could not have derived from his Maker; for the most pure and holy God can make nothing impure, imperfect, or unholy. Into this state we are reduced, according to the Scripture, by the transgression of Adam; for by this one man sin entered into the world, as well as death.

2. The fact that all come into the world with sinful propensities is proved by another fact, that every man sins; that sin is his first work, and that no exception to this has ever been noticed, except in the human nature of Jesus Christ; and that exempt case is sufficiently accounted for from this circumstance, that it did not come in the common way of natural generation.

3. As like produces its like, if Adam became mortal and sinful, he could not communicate properties which he did not possess; and he must transmit those which constituted his natural and moral likeness: therefore all his posterity must resemble himself. Nothing less than a constant miraculous energy, presiding over the formation and development of every human body and soul, could prevent the seeds of natural and moral evil from being propagated. That these seeds are not produced in men by their own personal transgressions, is most positively asserted by the apostle in the preceding chapter; and that they exist before the human being is capable of actual transgression, or of the exercise of will and judgment, so as to prefer and determine, is evident to the most superficial observer:

1st, from the most marked evil propensities of children, long before reason can have any influence or control over passion; and,

2ndly, it is demonstrated by the death of millions in a state of infancy. It could not, therefore, be personal transgression that produced the evil propensities in the one case, nor death in the other.

4. While misery, death, and sin are in the world, we shall have incontrovertible proofs of the fall of man. Men may dispute against the doctrine of original sin; but such facts as the above will be a standing irrefragable argument against every thing that can be advanced against the doctrine itself.

5. The justice of permitting this general infection to become diffused has been strongly oppugned. "Why should the innocent suffer for the guilty?" As God made man to propagate his like on the earth, his transmitting the same kind of nature with which he was formed must be a necessary consequence of that propagation. He might, it is true, have cut off for ever the offending pair; but this, most evidently, did not comport with his creative designs. "But he might have rendered Adam incapable of sin." This does not appear. If he had been incapable of sinning, he would have been incapable of holiness; that is, he could not have been a free agent; or in other words he could not have been an intelligent or intellectual being; he must have been a mass of inert and unconscious matter. "But God might have cut them off and created a new race." He certainly might; and what would have been gained by this? Why, just nothing. The second creation, if of intelligent beings at all, must have been precisely similar to the first; and the circumstances in which these last were to be placed, must be exactly such as infinite wisdom saw to be the most proper for their predecessors, and consequently, the most proper for them. They also must have been in a state of probation; they also must have been placed under a law; this law must be guarded by penal sanctions; the possibility of transgression must be the same in the second case as in the first; and the lapse as probable, because as possible to this second race of human beings as it was to their predecessors. It was better, therefore, to let the same pair continue to fulfil the great end of their creation, by propagating their like upon the earth; and to introduce an antidote to the poison, and by a dispensation as strongly expressive of wisdom as of goodness, to make the ills of life, which were the consequences of their transgression, the means of correcting the evil, and through the wondrous economy of grace, sanctifying even these to the eternal good of the soul.

6. Had not God provided a Redeemer, he, no doubt, would have terminated the whole mortal story, by cutting off the original transgressors; for it would have been unjust to permit them to propagate their like in such circumstances, that their offspring must be unavoidably and eternally wretched.

God has therefore provided such a Saviour, the merit of whose passion and death should apply to every human being, and should infinitely transcend the demerit of the original transgression, and put every soul that received that grace (and ALL may) into a state of greater excellence and glory than that was, or could have been, from which Adam, by transgressing, fell.

7. The state of infants dying before they are capable of hearing the Gospel, and the state of heathens who have no opportunity of knowing how to escape from their corruption and misery, have been urged as cases of peculiar hardship. But, first, there is no evidence in the whole book of God that any child dies eternally for Adam's sin. Nothing of this kind is intimated in the Bible; and, as Jesus took upon him human nature, and condescended to be born of a woman in a state of perfect helpless infancy, he has, consequently, sanctified this state, and has said, without limitation or exception, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. We may justly infer, and all the justice as well as the mercy of the Godhead supports the inference, that all human beings, dying in an infant state, are regenerated by that grace of God which bringeth salvation to all men, Titus 2:11, and go infallibly to the kingdom of heaven. As to the Gentiles, their case is exceedingly clear. The apostle has determined this; see Romans 2:14; Romans 2:15, and the notes there. He who, in the course of his providence, has withheld from them the letter of his word, has not denied them the light and influence of his SPIRIT; and will judge them in the great day only according to the grace and means of moral improvement with which they have been favoured. No man will be finally damned because he was a Gentile, but because he has not made a proper use of the grace and advantages which God had given him. Thus we see that the Judge of all the earth has done right; and we may rest assured that he will eternally act in the same way.

8. The term FALL we use metaphorically, to signify degradation: literally, it signifies stumbling, so as to lose the centre of gravity, or the proper poise of our bodies, in consequence of which we are precipitated on the ground. The term seems to have been borrowed from the παραπτωμα of the apostle, Romans 5:15-18, which we translate offence, and which is more literally FALL, from παρα, intensive, and πιπτω, I fall; a grievous, dangerous, and ruinous fall, and is property applied to transgression and sin in general; as every act is a degradation of the soul, accompanied with hurt, and tending to destruction. The term, in this sense, is still in common use; the degradation of a man in power we term his fall; the impoverishment of a rich man ve express in the same way; and when a man of piety and probity is overcome by any act of sin, we say he is fallen; he has descended from his spiritual eminence, is degraded from his spiritual excellence, is impure in his soul, and becomes again exposed to the displeasure of his God.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Romans 5". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/romans-5.html. 1832.
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