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Vv. 1, 2. “ Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have obtained access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and triumph in the hope of the glory of God. ”
The meaning of Rom 5:1 is as follows: “Since, then, we have obtained by means of faith our sentence of justification from God, we find ourselves transferred relatively to Him into a state of peace, which henceforth displaces in our minds the fear of wrath.”
The form of expression: εἰρήνην ἔχειν πρός , is common in classic Greek (see Meyer). But must we not read, with the great majority of Mjj. and Vss., the subjunctive ἔχωμεν , let us have, instead of ἔχομεν , we have, we possess? This reading is adopted by Hofm., Gess, Volkm.; it makes this Rom 5:1 an exhortation. But how happens it that immediately afterward the didactic tone recommences and continues uniformly to the end of the piece, without any resuming of the exhortation? This reading certainly arises from a mistaken correction, which owes its origin to the erroneous idea which has been formed of the piece (see above). Perhaps, also, it is due to the fact that a liturgical reading began with this verse. No exegete has been able to account satisfactorily for this imperative suddenly occurring in the midst of a didactic development.
The words: through our Lord Jesus Christ, are explained by commentators, and even by Meyer, as referring to the work of expiation previously described. We cannot admit this view, for the following reasons: 1. The work of expiation is cited in Rom 5:2 as a benefit wholly distinct from that to which Rom 5:1 refers; δἰ οὖ καί , by whom also, are the words in the beginning of Romans 5:2. It is therefore impossible, without useless repetition, to explain the two expressions, through our Lord, Romans 5:1, and by whom also, Romans 5:2, in reference to the same mediation. Now the mediation of Rom 5:2 is undoubtedly that which Jesus effected by the atonement. That of Rom 5:1 must therefore refer to another work. 2. The mediation of which Rom 5:2 speaks is mentioned as an accomplished fact, the verb being in the perfect: ἐσχήκαμεν , we have obtained, while the present, ἔχομεν , we have, refers to a present and permanent taking in possession. 3. If the clause: through our Lord Jesus Christ, referred to the work of expiation, it would probably be joined to the participle δικαιωθέντες , having been justified, rather than to the verb we possess. The mistake of exegesis arises from the fact that there has not been recognized in this verse the theme, and, so to speak, the title of the whole piece (on to Rom 5:11 ), a piece which refers not to the act of justification, but to the present and future of the justified. When he says: we have peace with God, the apostle means: we can henceforth regard God with entire serenity, not only as to the past, but also in view of the future, and even of the judgment; for this is the thought with which he closes the exposition about to follow we have in Christ, besides the mediation of His death, by which we have already been justified ( δικαιωθέντες ), that of His life, by which we shall be maintained in this state of salvation; comp. Romans 5:9-10, which are the authentic explanation of the clause: through our Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1. In this way Romans 5:2, which refers to the atonement, ceases to have the effect of a repetition.
Schott says to the same purpose: “As it is to the person of Christ that we owed access into grace ( Rom 5:2 ), it is the same person of Christ which assures us of the perfecting of salvation ( Rom 5:1 ).”
Second section. 3:21-5:11. Justification by Faith Acquired for the Whole World.
In this section, which forms the counterpart of the preceding, three principal ideas are developed.
1. The historical fact by which justification by faith is acquired for the world, Romans 3:21-26.
2. The harmony of this mode of justification with the revelation of the Old Testament, Rom 3:27 to Romans 4:25.
3. The certainty of justification, not for the present only, but for all the future, embracing the last judgment, Romans 5:1-11.
Thus the sentence of condemnation is effaced by that of absolution.
FUNDAMENTAL PART. 1:18-5:21.
THE principal subdivision of this part is indicated by the somewhat amplified repetition of Romans 1:17, which we shall find Romans 3:21-22. There we again meet with the phrase righteousness of God; the verb was manifested evidently corresponds to the word is revealed; and the two secondary clauses: by faith of Jesus Christ, and: unto and upon all them that believe, are the development of the phrase from faith to faith. It follows from this parallel that the apostle did not mean immediately to study this great truth of justification by faith; but he felt the need of preparing the way for this exposition by laying bare in human life the reasons for this so extraordinary and apparently abnormal mode of salvation. Such, indeed, is the subject of the first section, Rom 1:18 to Romans 3:20: If the gospel reveals the righteousness of God, it is because there is another revelation, that of the wrath of God, and because this latter, unless mankind be destined to perish, requires the former.
Vv. 2. Paul here reminds us that the Jesus who henceforth makes our salvation sure ( by his life), is no other Mediator than the Jesus who has already purchased our justification ( by his death). Thus is explained the δἰ οὖ καί , “by whom also. ” The blessing of reconciliation by His death, explained above, was the foundation of the new grace he had in view throughout the whole piece. Comp. a similar return to a past development intended to serve as the starting-point of a new one, Romans 3:23. Before passing to the new grace he is concerned to recall the former, to impress the conviction that we owe all, absolutely all, to this Jesus only. The perfect ἐσχήκαμεν expresses an act of taking possession already past, though the possession continues. The term προσαγωγή , which we have translated by the word access, sometimes signifies the act of bringing or introducing; it may, for example, designate the manoeuvre by which engines of war are brought close to the walls of a besieged city (comp. Meyer). It might be understood in this sense: “by whom we have obtained introduction into this grace. ” But the word has also sometimes an intransitive meaning: the right of entering, access. The other substantives compounded from the same verb have often an analogous meaning; thus ἀναγωγή , setting out to sea; περιαγωγή , circular motion. And certainly this intransitive meaning is preferable here. The first would be suitable if the matter in question were introduction to an individual, a sovereign for example; but with an impersonal regimen, such as grace, the meaning of access to is more natural. It is in this sense also that the word is taken Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12, if we are not mistaken. The words τῇ πίστει , by faith, are wanting in the Vat. and the Greco-Latins. If they are authentic, they simply remind us of the part previously ascribed to faith in justification. But it is improper, with some commentators, to make the clause: to this grace, dependent on it. Such a form of speech: πίστις εἰς χάριν , would be without example in the New Testament. The words: to this grace, complete the notion of access to: “At the time when we believed ( τῇ πίστει ) we had access to this grace in which we are now established.” The perfect ἑστηκα signifies: I have been placed in this state, and I am in it. This word, which has the meaning of a present, recalls us to the ἔχομεν , we have henceforth, of Romans 5:1, and forms the transition to the following idea: “and (in this state) we glory.” This last proposition ( Rom 5:2 ) might be made dependent on the relative pronoun in which. The meaning would be: “this grace in which we henceforth stand and glory.” But this construction is somewhat awkward. Rom 5:2 being already a sort of parenthesis, in the form of an incidental proposition, it is unnatural to prolong the appendix still further. We therefore connect the words: and we triumph, with the principal idea of Romans 5:1: we have peace. It is a climax: “not only do we no longer dread any evil at the hand of God, but we have even when we think of Him the joyful hope of all blessing.” It is the feeling of security raised to the anticipated joy of triumph. These last words confirm our explanation of the ἔχομεν , “we have henceforth,” Romans 5:1. For they express more obviously still the conviction of the justified man in relation to his future. In reality, the object of this triumphant conviction is the certain hope of glory. The phrase: the glory of God, denotes the glorious state which God Himself possesses, and into which He will admit the faithful; see on Romans 3:23. The καυχασθαι , to triumph, is the blessed conviction and energetic (but humble, 1Co 1:31 ) profession of assurance in God. But some one will ask the apostle: And what of the tribulations of life? Do you count them nothing? Do they not threaten to make you lower your tone? Not at all; for they will only serve to feed and revive the hope which is the ground of this glorying. This reply is contained and justified in the following verses.
Vv. 3, 4. “ And not only so, but we triumph on account of tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh constancy; and approval; and hope. ” This passage being, strictly speaking, the answer to an unexpressed objection, it is natural that it should recur (end of Rom 5:4-5 ) to the idea of hope. The participle καυχώμενοι , and even triumphing, which is found in B C, would correspond very well with the digressive character evidently belonging to these verses. But it is probable that this form has been borrowed from that of Romans 5:11.
The phrase we triumph, literally translated, would be: in afflictions. But this translation would not render the idea of the text in our language [French]. It would express the circumstances in the midst of which the believer triumphs, while the Greek phrase denotes the object itself of which he boasts; comp. 1 Corinthians 1:31: “to triumph in the Lord,” for: on account of the possession of the Lord; 2 Corinthians 12:9: “to triumph in his weaknesses,” for: to extract triumph from his very weaknesses. Thus Paul means here: to make his afflictions themselves a reason of triumph. This strange thought is explained by what follows; for the climax which is about to be traced proves that it is tribulations that make hope break forth in all its vigor. Now it is this feeling which is the ground for καυχᾶσθαι ( to glory). The words knowing that introduce the logical exposition of the process whereby affliction becomes transformed in the believer into hope. First, affliction gives rise to constancy, ὑπομονήν . This Greek word, coming from ὑπό and μένειν , literally: to bear up under (a burden, blows, etc.), might be translated by endurance. From want of this word [in French] we say constancy.
Ver. 4. Endurance in its turn worketh approval, δοκιμήν . This is the state of a force or virtue which has withstood trials. This force, issuing victorious from the conflict, is undoubtedly the faith of the Christian, the worth of which he has now proved by experience. It is a weapon of which henceforth he knows the value. The word δόκιμος frequently denotes in the same sense the proved Christian, the man who has shown what he is, comp. Romans 14:18, and the opposite, 1 Corinthians 10:27. We find in the New Testament two sayings that are analogous, though slightly different: James 1:3, where the neuter substantive δοκίμιον denotes, not like δοκιμή here, the state of the thing proved, but the means of proof, tribulation itself; and 1 Peter 1:7, where the same substantive δοκίμιον seems to us to denote that which in the faith of the believer has held good in suffering, has shown itself real and effective, the gold which has come forth purified from the furnace.
When, finally, the believer has thus experienced the divine force with which faith fills him in the midst of suffering, he feels his hope rise. Nothing which can happen him in the future any longer affrights him. The prospect of glory opens up to him nearer and more brilliant. How many Christians have declared that they never knew the gladness of faith, or lively hope, till they gained it by means of tribulation! With this word hope the apostle has returned to the end of Romans 5:2; and as there are deceitful hopes, he adds that the one of which he speaks ( the hope of glory, Rom 5:2 ) runs no risk of being falsified by the event.
Vv. 5. “ Now hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which was given unto us. ”
This verse is the central saying of the entire passage. On the one hand, it is directly connected with the two first verses: “We no longer feel any fear; nay, rather, we triumph in the hope of glory, a hope which is rendered brighter even by sufferings.” On the other hand, this verse contains all that follows. This hope will not be falsified in the end by the event; this is what the second part of the passage proceeds to prove ( Rom 5:6-11 ).
The word make ashamed refers to the non-realization of the hope when the hour of glory has struck. The present maketh not ashamed is the present of the idea. This falsification, inflicted on the hopes of faith by facts, and the possibility of which is denied by the apostle, is not that with which the truth of materialism would confound them. This idea is foreign to the mind of Paul. The matter in question in the context is the terrible position of the justified man who in the day of judgment should find himself suddenly face to face with unappeased wrath. Paul declares such a supposition impossible. Why? Because the source of his hope is the revelation of God Himself which he has received, of the love of which he is the object. The reawakening of wrath against him is therefore an inadmissible fact.
The love of God cannot denote here our love for God, as Hofmann would have it. It is true this critic thoroughly recognizes the imperfections always attaching to our love. But he thinks that Paul is here looking at the believer's love to his God only as a mark of our renewal by the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, this meaning must be rejected; first, on account of the choice of the verb ἐκκέχυται , is shed abroad (see below); next, because the following verses ( Rom 5:6-8 ), joined by for to Rom 5:5 develop the idea of God's love to us, not that of our love to God; finally, because the syllogism finished in Rom 5:9-10 would want its basis (its minor) if the fact of God's love to us had not been established in the preceding context. The love of God is therefore the love with which God loves us. The verb translated by is shed abroad, literally signifies: to be poured out of. Paul means: out of the heart of God, where this love has its source, into ours. The perfect used here signifies that there was a time when this effusion took place, and that since then it has not been withdrawn. It is this meaning of the perfect which explains the use of the preposition of rest, ἐν ( in, without the idea of motion), instead of εἰς ( into, with motion). This preposition refers to the whole state which has resulted from the effusion. There was an act of revelation in the heart of believers, the fruit of which is the permanent impression of the love which God has for them. The medium of this transfusion of the divine love into their heart was the Holy Spirit. We see, 1 Corinthians 2:10-12, that this Divine Being, after having sounded the depths of God, reveals them to the man to whom he imparts himself. Thereby we become privy to what is passing in God, in particular, to the feeling which he cherishes toward us, just as we should be to a feeling which we might ourselves cherish toward another. In general, the work of the Spirit consists in breaking down the barrier between beings, and placing them in a common luminous atmosphere, in which each hears the heart of his neighbor beat as if it were his own. And this is the relation which the Spirit establishes not only between man and man, but between man and God Himself; comp. John 14:19-20. The aorist participle δοθέντος , which was given to us, reminds us of two things: the time when this heaven was opened to the believer, and the objective and perfectly real character of this inward revelation. It was not a case of exalted feeling or excited imagination; it was God who imparted himself; comp. John 14:21; John 14:23.
The transition from Rom 5:5-6 seems to me to be one of the points on which exegesis has left most to be desired. Commentators confine themselves in general to saying that Rom 5:6 gives the external proof, the proof from fact, of that divine love shed abroad in our hearts, and that the proof is the sacrifice of Christ, Romans 5:6-8. But this inorganic juxtaposition of the internal proof, Romans 5:5, and the external proof, Romans 5:6, is not satisfactory; and this explanation does not correspond to the use of the particle for, which implies a much more intimate relation of ideas. The object is to prove that this hope of glory, whose source is the inward revelation of the love of God, will not be falsified by the event in the hour of judgment. For this end, what does the apostle do? He does not merely allege an external fact already past; he penetrates to the essence of that internal revelation of which he has just been speaking in Romans 5:5. He analyzes, so to speak, its contents, and transforming this ineffable feeling into a rigorous syllogism, he deduces from it the following argument, which is that of the Spirit Himself in the heart of the believer: God loved thee when thou wast yet a sinner, giving thee a proof of love such as men do not give to one another, even when they respect and admire one another the most, and when the devotion of love is carried among them to its sublimest height ( Rom 5:6-8 ). Such is the minor, the divine love already manifested in the fact of redemption. The understood major is to this effect: Now the love which one has testified to his enemies does not belie itself when these have become better than enemies, friends. The conclusion is expressly stated, Romans 5:9-10: If, then, God testified to thee, to thee when yet an enemy, a love beyond all comparison, how shouldst thou, once justified and reconciled, have to fear falling back again under wrath? It is obvious that to the end of the passage, from Romans 5:6, the whole forms one consecutive reasoning, and this reasoning is joined by for to Romans 5:5, because it serves only to expound in a logical form the language which the Holy Spirit holds to the heart of the believer, and by which He sustains his hope, even through earthly tribulations.
Vv. 6-8. “ For when we were yet weak in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For hardly for a righteous man will one die:for peradventure for goodness some would even dare to die. But God establisheth His own love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ”
The for might be rendered by in fact. The inward revelation of divine love, whereby the Holy Spirit certifies to the believer that his hope of glory shall not be deceived, is now to be set in full light. The authenticity of this for is sufficiently attested (1) By the reading of the Alex., Byz.: ἔτι γάρ ; (2) By that of the Greco-Latin: εἰς τί γάρ ; (3) By that of the Vat. itself, which reads εἴγε ; for this γ seems to be a remnant of the primitive γάρ . The reading of the Alex. and Byz. MSS., which put the ἔτι , yet, at the head of the sentence, is likewise authentic. For, to the weight of the authorities there is added the decisive importance of this little word, in which there is concentrated the whole force of the following verses: “God testified His love to us when we were yet in a state which rendered us wholly unworthy of it....! The Greco-Latin reading: εἰς τί γάρ , for what end? is a corruption of this not understood ἔτι . A question relative to the end of divine love would be out of place in this argument, where it is not the end, but the particular character of the love which is in question. It is wholly different with the reading of the Vat.: εἴγε , if at least, which perfectly suits the meaning of the passage, whether the if be made dependent on the proposition: hope maketh not ashamed, Rom 5:5 and to this the at least points or whether it be taken as the beginning of the following argument: “If Christ died...with much stronger reason...( Rom 5:9 ).” This construction, adopted by Ewald, is excellent; only it obliges us to make Romans 5:7-8 a parenthesis, which is complicated and unnecessary, since the reading ἔτι , yet, gives in a simpler form exactly the same sense: “When we were yet without strength, Christ died...; with much stronger reason...ver. 9.” Rom 5:6 describes the miserable condition in which we were at the time when divine love was extended to us. We were weak, ἀσθενεῖς . The word often means sick ( 1Co 11:30 ). Here it expresses total incapacity for good, the want of all moral life, such as is healthy and fruitful in good works. It was certainly not a state fitted to win for us the sympathy of divine holiness. On the contrary, the spectacle of a race plunged in such shameful impotence was disgusting to it. Seven Mjj. read after ἀσθενῶν the word ἔτι , yet (five of them read it previously in the beginning of the verse). If this somewhat strange reading be admitted, the comma need not be placed where Tischendorf puts it (8th edition), after this ἔτι , to connect it with what precedes, but before, to join it to the following word: κατὰ καιρόν , yet in time. What led Tischendorf to this construction was, that he mistakenly connected the first ἔτι , in the opening of the verse, with the verb: Christ died. Neither the sense nor grammar is favorable to this connection. But, on the other hand, if the second ἔτι were joined to κατὰ καιρόν , yet in time, there would be too marked an emphasis on an idea in the passage which is purely secondary. We conclude, therefore, that the second ἔτι should be rejected from the text. It is, as Meyer thinks, a mistaken repetition arising from the fact that this little word did not appear suitable in the beginning of the passage, especially if a liturgical lesson commenced with Romans 5:6. So copyists have first transposed it after the ἀσθενῶν , then doubled it by combining the two readings.
The words: in due time, at the right moment, may contain an allusion to the eternal plan, Romans 3:25: “at the hour fixed beforehand by divine wisdom.” Or they express the idea of the suitability of this time in relation to the state of mankind, either because having now made full trial of their misery, they might be disposed to accept with faith the salvation of God; or because it was the last hour, when, the time of forbearance having reached its limit ( Rom 3:26 ), God, if He did not pardon, must judge. This last meaning seems to us, from Romans 3:25-26, to be the one which best corresponds to the mind of the apostle.
The incapacity of mankind for good, their moral sickness, arose from their separation from God, from their voluntary revolt against Him. This is what the apostle brings out in the words: for ungodly ones, which indicate the positive side of human perversity. Their malady inspires disgust; their ungodliness attracts wrath. And it was when we were yet plunged in this repulsive state of impotence and ungodliness that the greatest proof of love was given us, in that Christ died for us. The preposition ὑπέρ , for, can only signify: in behalf of. It neither implies nor excludes the idea of substitution ( in the room of); it refers to the end, not at all to the mode of the work of redemption.
To shed light on the wholly exceptional character of the love testified to mankind in this death of Christ, the apostle compares the action of God in this case with the noblest and rarest proofs of devotion presented by the history of our race; and he bids us measure the distance which still separates those acts of heroism from the sacrifice of God, Romans 5:7-8.
In Rom 5:7 he supposes two cases in the relations of man to man, the one so extraordinary that it is hardly ( μόλις , hardly) conceivable, the other difficult indeed to imagine, but yet supposable ( τάχα , peradventure). The relation between those two examples has been variously understood. According to the old Greek commentators, Calv., Beza, Fritzs., Mey., Oltram., etc., the relation is that of complete identity; the expression: ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ , for the man who is good, in the second proposition, designating no essentially different character from the ὑπὲρ δικαίου , for a righteous man, in the first. The second proposition on this view is simply the justification of that remnant of possibility which was implied in the word hardly in the first: “hardly will one die for a just man; I say, hardly; for after all I do not absolutely deny that for such a man of probity one might be found willing to sacrifice his life.” But if such were really the apostle's meaning, why substitute in the second proposition for the word δικαίου , the just man, the term ἀγαθοῦ , the good man (or goodness)? Why prefix the article to the latter, which did not stand before the former: a just... the good (or goodness)? Why put the word ἀγαθοῦ first in the proposition obviously indicating the purpose to establish an antithesis between the two ideas: the good man (or goodness), and a just man? Why, finally, in the second proposition add the word καί , even, which establishes a gradation, and consequently a difference between the two examples quoted? We are aware of the reason that has led so many commentators to this explanation, which is inconsistent with all the details of the text. It is the difficulty of pointing out a satisfactory distinction between the two words δικαίου , righteous, and ἀγαθοῦ , good. According to Olshausen, the first denotes the man who does no evil to any one; the second, the man who does positive good, that is to say, more than men have a right to exact from him. According to De Wette, the one is the simply just man, the other the man who, to justice, adds nobleness. According to Hodge, the one is the man who does everything the law demands, and whose character commands respect; the other, the man whose conduct is directed by love, and inspires love. According to Ewald, the just man is he who is acknowledged innocent in regard to some specific charge; the good man, one who is irreproachable in all respects. Philippi thinks that the righteous one is the honest man, and the good, the generous and amiable man who does good to those about him, in his family, his city, his country, in a word, the pater patriae. Tholuck, finally, arrives at a clearer and more precise distinction, by giving, like many other commentators, to ἀγαθός , good, the meaning of a beneficent man, first, and then by derivation, that of benefactor. In this latter case the article the is explained by saying that the person meant is the benefactor of the man who devotes himself to death, or rather, according to Tholuck himself, by the rhetorical use of the article ὁ , the, in the sense of our phrase: the man of virtue, the philanthropist. This latter explanation of the article might be applied also to the other meanings. But, despite the enormous erudition displayed by the defenders of these various distinctions to justify them from classic writers, all that is gained by most of them is to father a subtlety on the apostle; and all that is gained by the last, the only one which presents a clear contrast between the two terms, is to make him say what he has not said. To express, indeed, this idea of benefactor, he had in Greek the hallowed terms ἀγαθοποιός or εὐεργέτης . Why not use them? Besides, the addition of the article finds no natural explanation in any of these senses. Reuss has even resolutely sacrificed it in his translation: “one may dare to die for a man of virtue.” Jerome, and after him Erasmus, Luther, Melanchthon, have taken the two terms, the just and the good, in the neuter sense: justice, goodness. But as to the former, this meaning would have absolutely demanded the article; the meaning of ὑπὲρ δικαίου can be nothing else than: for a just man.
This last explanation, however, brings us within reach of the solution. Nothing in fact prevents us from applying Jerome's idea to the second of the two terms, and taking ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ in the sense of: for goodness (and not for the good man). This is the explanation which Rückert in particular has defended, and which Hofmann has finally adopted. Not that we understand, with the former, the good, in the sense of the useful. The idea of the whole passage would be falsified if there were introduced into it a notion foreign to the purely moral domain. The good here, in opposition to ἀσεβεῖς , the ungodly, Romans 5:6, and ἁμαρτωλοί , sinners, Romans 5:8, can only signify a holy cause; for example, the fulfilment of a sacred duty to which one sacrifices his life, like Antigone; or the defence of the law to which one remains faithful even unto death, like the martyrs in the time of the Maccabees; or the deliverance of our country for which so many men have sacrificed themselves, even among the heathen; or the good of humanity in general, which has inspired so many deeds of heroic devotion. It is in this way that Julius Müller, in his Christl. Lehre v. d. Sünde, ends by returning to the masculine meaning of τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ , applying the adjective to Him who is good par excellence, to God: “For a righteous man one will hardly die; but, for God, yes, peradventure such a thing will occur.” This meaning would be excellent, and the contrast striking: “Hardly will men die for God, the perfectly good, and God puts Christ to death for men the ungodly!” Nevertheless, we believe that if the apostle had thought of God personally, he would have designated Him more clearly. In any case, this last sense would coincide with that of Rückert, since God is the good in the absolute sense of the word.
The reading of the Peshito ὑπὲρ ἀδίκων , for unrighteous men, in the first proposition, gives a very simple meaning, only too simple, and one which completely enervates the force of the contrast to the terms ungodly, and sinners, in Romans 5:6; Romans 5:8. It is condemned, besides, by all the documents. Τολμᾶν , to dare, to have courage for; hence, to resolve to. Καί : it is a case which is also supposable. See, then, how far, in some exceedingly rare cases, the devotion of man in its sublimest manifestations can rise. To sacrifice his life for one whose honorable character inspires respect; hardly! to sacrifice yourself on the altar of a cause whose grandeur and holiness have possessed you; perhaps also ( καί )! And now for the contrast between these supreme acts of human, devotion and God's conduct toward us.
Vv. 8. The δέ , but, indicates this contrast. What man hardly does for what is most worthy of admiration and love, God has done for that which merited only His indignation and abhorrence. On the verb συνιστάναι , see on Romans 3:5; here it is the act whereby God establishes beyond question the reality of His love. The apostle says τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἀγάπην : His own love, or the love that is peculiar to Him. The expression contrasts God's manner of loving with ours. God cannot look above Him to devote Himself, as we may, to a being of more worth than Himself. His love turns to that which is beneath Him ( Isa 57:15 ), and takes even the character of sacrifice in behalf of that which is altogether unworthy of Him. ῞Οτι , in that, is here the fact by which God has proved His peculiar way of loving.
In the word ἁμαρτωλός , sinner, the termination ωλος signifies abundance. It was by this term the Jews habitually designated the Gentiles, Galatians 2:15. The ἔτι , yet, implies this idea: that there was not yet in humanity the least progress toward the good which would have been fitted to merit for it such a love; it was yet plunged in evil ( Eph 2:1-7 ).
The words: Christ died for us, in such a context, imply the close relation of essence which unites Christ and God, in the judgment of the apostle. With man sacrificing himself, Paul compares God sacrificing Christ. This parallel has no meaning except as the sacrifice of Christ is to God the sacrifice of Himself. Otherwise the sacrifice of God would be inferior to that of man, whereas it must be infinitely exalted above it.
Finally, it should be observed how Paul places the subject Θεός , God, at the end of the principal proposition, to bring it beside the word ἁμαρτωλῶν , sinners, and so brings out the contrast between our defilement and the delicate sensibility of divine holiness.
In Rom 5:6-8 the minor premiss of the syllogism has been explained: God loved us when wicked, loved us as we ourselves do not love what is most excellent. Here properly the major should stand: Now, when one has done the most for his enemies, he does not refuse the least to his friends. But Paul passes directly to the conclusion, introducing into it at the same time the idea of the major. Reuss says, in passing from Romans 5:8-9: “Finally, hope is also founded on a third consideration.” The apostle does not compose in so loose a style.
Vv. 9, 10. “ Much rather then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much rather, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. ”
The οὖν , then, concludes from the proof of love already received to the proof of love to be hoped for. The πολλῷ μᾶλλον is certainly taken here in the logical sense: much more certainly, and not: much more abundantly.
Meyer is right in saying that the conclusion proceeds not from the least to the most, but from the most to the least. The work already finished is summed up in the words: being now justified by His blood. The word now contrasts the present state of justification, on the one hand, with the former state of condemnation (the: yet sinners of Rom 5:8 ); and, on the other, with the state of future salvation ( we shall be saved). The state in which we now are is greatly more inconsistent with final wrath than that from which we have already been rescued.
But what is that wrath from which we have yet to be delivered? That spoken of by Paul, Romans 2:5-6, in the words: “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” the day when “God will render to every one according to his deeds;” comp. 1Th 1:10 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:8. Our Lord speaks, Luke 12:47-48, of the punishment in store for the servant who knew the will of his master and did it not: he shall be beaten with many stripes. “To whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.” A ground this for serious vigilance on the part of the justified man, but not of fear. Paul explains why: there is in Christ more than the expiation (the blood) by which He has introduced us into the state of justification; there is His living person, now glorified, and consequently able to interpose in new ways in behalf of the justified, and to bring to a successful end the work of salvation so well begun in them. Such is the meaning of the words: “we shall be saved through Him ( δἰ αὐτοῦ ).” Comp. Romans 8:34: “Who died, yea rather, that is risen again; who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us;” Galatians 2:20: “I live, yet not I, but Christ in me;” Hebrews 7:25: “Ever living to make intercession for us;” John 14:19: “Because I live, ye shall live also.” Paul here explains himself clearly regarding the double mediation indicated ( Rom 5:1-2 ) by means of the two διά , through: “ through our Lord...( Rom 5:1 ), through whom also...( Rom 5:2 ).” The one expressed in Rom 5:1 was that which was implied here in the words through Him: we are delivered from all fear through Him (as to our future). The other, expressed in Romans 5:2 (“ through whom also we have obtained access”...), was that of His blood, through which we have been justified, delivered from condemnation (as to the past). It is obvious how profoundly the apostle's work is weighed, and that we were not mistaken in alleging that in the words: “We have peace with God,” he had his eyes already turned to the future, the final salvation.
Vv. 10 is, strictly speaking, only a stronger repetition of the argument of Romans 5:9. Paul makes the reasoning more evident 1. By adding the term enemies, which renders the a fortiori character of the proof more striking; 2. By substituting for justified ( Rom 5:9 ) the term reconciled, which corresponds better with the word enemies; 3. By describing the death of Christ as that of the Son of God, which presents its value more impressively; 4. By explaining the indefinite term: through him ( Rom 5:9 ), by the more precise expression: by his life.
The for is explained by the new force which the argument derives from these various changes. It is our en effet (in fact); comp. the relation between Romans 5:3; Rom 5:5 in John 3:0
Three stages are indicated: enemies, reconciled, saved. Divine love, which has brought us from the first to the second, will yet more certainly bring us from the second to the third.
The terms: weak, ungodly, sinners (Romans 5:6; Rom 5:8 ), are here summed up in the word enemies. Does this word denote man's enmity to God, or that of God to man? Hating God ( Dei osores), or hated of God ( Deo odiosi)? The first notion would evidently be insufficient in the context. The enmity must above all belong to Him to whom wrath is attributed; and the blood of Christ, through which we have been justified, did not flow in the first place to work a change in our dispositions Godward, but to bring about a change in God's conduct toward us. Otherwise this bloody death would have to be called a demonstration of love, and not of righteousness ( Rom 3:25 ). Here, besides, the saying Rom 11:28 should be compared, where the term enemy of God is contrasted with the title beloved of God; the first therefore signifies: one not loved, or hated of God; comp. Ephesians 2:3: “by nature children of wrath. ” We must obviously remove from this notion of divine enmity every impure admixture, every egoistic element, and take this hatred in the sense in which Jesus speaks of His disciple hating his father, mother, wife, children, and his own life, Luke 14:26. This hatred is holy; for it is related only to what is truly hateful to ourselves and others, evil, and what is fitted to lead to it. But yet it is not enough to say, with many commentators, that what God hates in the sinner is the sin and not the person. For, as is rightly observed by Oltramare (who on this account rejects the passive sense of the word enemies, which we defend), it is precisely hatred against the sinners, and not against the sin, which meets us in the expression enemies of God, if it be taken in the sense: hated of God. The truth is, as it appears to me, that God first of all hates sin in the sinner, and that the sinner becomes at the same time the object of this holy hatred in proportion as he voluntarily identifies himself with sin, and makes it the principle of his personal life. Undoubtedly, so long as this development remains unfinished, the sinner is still the object of divine compassion, inasmuch as God continues to regard him as His creature destined for good. But the co-existence of these two opposite sentiments, of which, Romans 11:28, we have a very striking particular example, can only belong to a state of transition. The close of the development in good or evil once reached, only one of the two sentiments can continue (see on Rom 1:18 ). While maintaining as fundamental the notion of divine enmity in the term enemies of God, we do not think it inadmissible to attach to it as a corollary that of man's enmity to God. Our heart refuses to embrace the being who refuses to embrace us. It is in this double sense that the word enemy is taken in common language. It implies a reciprocity; comp. the expression ἐν ἔχθρᾳ ὄντες , used of Pilate and Herod ( Luk 23:12 ).
A somewhat analogous question arises as to the meaning of the expression κατηλλάγημεν τῷ Θεῶ , we were reconciled to God. The words may signify two things: either that man gives up the enmity which had animated him against God, or that God gives up His enmity to man. Taken in themselves, the two meanings are grammatically possible. The words 1Co 7:11 present a case in which the reconciled person becomes so by giving up his own enmity (“if the woman depart, let her remain unmarried, or, be reconciled to her husband”); 1Sa 29:4 and Mat 5:24 offer two examples of the opposite sense. In the first of these passages, the chiefs of the Philistines, suspecting the intentions of David, who asks permission to join them in fighting against Saul, say to their king: “Wherewith should he reconcile himself ( διαλλαγήσεται , LXX.) to his master ( τῷ κυρίῳ αὐτοῦ ), if not with the heads of our men?” In the second, Jesus exhorts the man who would bring his offering to the altar, and who remembers that his brother has something against him, to go and first be reconciled to him. In both cases it is evident that the enmity, and consequently the giving up of the enmity, are ascribed to the man with whom the reconciliation has to take place (Saul, and the neighbor who thinks himself offended). In our passage the true meaning does not seem to us doubtful. The word being reconciled reproducing the being justified of Romans 5:9, it follows from this parallelism that it is God, and not man, who gives up His enmity. In the same way as by justification God effaces all condemnation, so by reconciliation He ceases from His wrath. This meaning results also from that of the word ἐχθρός , enemy, which we have just established, as well as of the term wrath, Romans 5:9. If it is God who is hostile and provoked, it is in Him first of all that the act of reconciliation must take place. This view is confirmed by the main passage, Romans 3:25. If it was man who had to be brought first to abandon his hostility, the reconciling act would consist, as we have just said in speaking of the word enemy, in a manifestation of love, not of righteousness. Finally, as Hodge observes, to make these words signify that it is we who in the reconciliation lay down our enmity to God, is to put it in contradiction to the spirit of the whole passage. For the apostle's object is to exhibit the greatness of the love testified by God to unworthy beings, in order to conclude therefrom to the love which will be testified to them by the same God in the future. The whole argument thus rests on God's love to man, and not on man's to God. On the other side it is true, as Oltramare remarks, that the expression to be reconciled is nowhere applied to God. It is only said, 2 Corinthians 5:19: “that He reconciled the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” How explain this fact? Certainly the sacred writers felt that it is impossible to compare the manner in which God becomes reconciled to men, with the manner in which one man becomes reconciled to another. It was God Himself who began by doing everything to establish His righteousness and secure the majesty of His position, that He might then be able to pardon. Here there was a mode of action which does not enter into human processes of reconciliation; and hence the apostles, in speaking of God, have avoided the ordinary expression.
If for the word blood Rom 5:10 substitutes death, which is more general, it is in order to call up better the Passion scene as a whole. The words: of His Son, exhibit the immensity of the sacrifice made for enemies! Conclusion: If God (humanly speaking) did not shrink from the painful sacrifice of His Son in behalf of His enemies, how should He refuse to beings, henceforth received into favor, a communication of life which involves nothing save what is ineffably sweet for Himself and for those who receive it! Thus is proved the certainty of final salvation (salvation in the day of wrath), toward which everything pointed from the first words: we have peace.
The clause ἐν τῇ ζωῇ αὐτοῦ , by His life, must not be regarded as indicating the object of the being saved (introduced into His life). The ἐν , in, can only have the instrumental sense, like that of the ἐν τῷ αἵματι , in His blood, Romans 5:9; saved through His life, from which ours is henceforth drawn; comp. Romans 8:2: “The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” In fact, justification is not the whole of salvation; it is the entrance on it. If sin continued to reign as before, wrath would reappear at the close. For “without holiness no man shall see the Lord,” Hebrews 12:14. But the mediation of the life completes that of the blood, and makes sure of holiness, and thereby of final salvation. Comp. chaps. 6-8, intended to develop the thought which is here merely enunciated in connection with the grace of justification. The expression be saved therefore denotes salvation in the full sense of the word the final sentence which, along with justification, assumes the restoration of holiness. A sick man is not saved when the trespass which has given rise to his malady has been pardoned; he must also be cured. There are therefore, as we have elsewhere shown, a sentence of initial grace justification, in the ordinary sense of the word founded solely on faith; and a sentence of final grace, which takes account not only of faith, but also of the fruits of faith. The first is the fruit of Christ's death; the second flows from participation in His life. For both of these graces faith is and remains, of course, the permanent condition of personal appropriation. If this is not expressly mentioned in our passage, it is because it refers solely to believers already justified ( Rom 5:1 ).
We cannot help remarking here, with Olshausen, how entirely at variance with the view of the apostle is the Catholic doctrine, which is shared by so many Protestants of our day, and which bases justification on the new life awakened in man by faith. In the eyes of St. Paul, justification is entirely independent of sanctification, and precedes it; it rests only on faith in the death of Christ. Sanctification flows from the life of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.
At the end of Romans 5:2, Paul had passed from the absence of fear (“ we have peace,” Rom 5:1 ) to the positive hope of glory, in which already we triumph. This same gradation is reproduced here from the passage from Rom 5:10 to Romans 5:11, after which the theme contained in the first two verses will be exhausted, and the proposition: “hope maketh not ashamed” ( Rom 5:5 ), fully demonstrated.
Vv. 11. “ And not only [so], but even glorying in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation. ”
The general gradation from Rom 5:10 to Rom 5:11 is well explained by Philippi: “Salvation is not merely negative: deliverance from wrath; we hope for better: participation in glory.” It was by this idea of triumphant entrance into glory that the apostle behooved to crown this whole exposition of justification. For then it is that it will become complete and final.
The construction presents a difficulty. What are we to make of the participle καυχώμενοι , glorying, which does not rest on any finite verb? The ancients and several moderns (Thol., Philip., Rück., Fritzs., Hodge) regard it as the equivalent of a finite verb, understanding ἐσμέν , we are glorying, for we glory. This is the meaning indicated by the reading of L and of the ancient Versions. In this case, we must understand another finite verb after not only, which can be no other than the: we shall be saved, of Romans 5:10. The meaning is: “and not only shall we be saved, but we glory in God even now over this assured salvation.” The logical progress is from the future to the present. It has been objected that it is impossible to make a simple participle a finite verb, at least in prose, (for poetry furnishes numerous examples of such license). But how otherwise are we to explain 2Co 7:5 ? The real difficulty is to resolve the disagreement between the future we shall be saved and the present we glory. It seems that if the gradation in the mind of the apostle really bore on the matter of time, the νῦν , now, which occurs in the following proposition, should have been placed in this: “not only shall we be saved, but we are so certain of it that now already we triumph in God.” If Paul has not expressed himself so, it is because this was not his meaning. A second construction is adopted by Meyer, Hofmann, and others: it consists in supplying after not only, not: the verb σωθησόμεθα , we shall be saved, but the participle καταλλαγέντες , being reconciled, so that this participle as well as the καυχώμενοι , glorying, rest both of them on the we shall be saved of Romans 5:10: “We shall be saved, and that not only as reconciled, but also as glorying. ” The gradation in this case is not from the future to the present, but from the joy of reconciliation to that of triumph. The objection to this construction is this: The participle being reconciled, in Romans 5:10, is not a simple qualification of we shall be saved; it is a participle of argumentation, as is well said by Oltramare (see also Philippi). It cannot therefore be made logically parallel with the participle glorying. What is to be done if we will not return to the first construction? It only remains, as it seems to me, to derive from the verb σωθησόμεθα , we shall be saved, the idea of salvation, by supplying the participle σωζόμενοι , saved, after not only, and to refer this participle, as well as the following καυχώμενοι , glorying, to the time of final salvation: “Much more certainly shall we be saved ( Rom 5:10 ), and that not only as saved, but as glorying in God. ” The meaning is almost the same as in the preceding construction, but more precise: “And when this hour of salvation shall come, it will not be as men barely saved, like those rescued from shipwreck or a deserved death, that we shall cross the threshold of eternal salvation: it will be in the triumphant attitude of men whom the Son of God has crowned with His own holiness and renewed in His glorious image, and whom the Father has marked with the seal of His adoption, Romans 8:15; Romans 8:29.” It may be objected, no doubt, that by referring this participle glorying to the final hour, we depart from the meaning of the same verb in Romans 5:2, which contains the theme of the whole passage. But Paul, on reaching the close of this development, may easily substitute for the present glorying in hope, the song of triumph at the moment of entrance into glory.
To glory in God was the privilege of which the Jews boasted in virtue of their monotheistic revelation ( Rom 2:17 ). St. Paul here applies this expression to the sanctified Christian who has not only nothing to fear from God, but who as His child is also His heir ( Rom 8:17 ).
Yet he takes care in the same breath to cast down all that might be opposed to humility in this hope of future triumph, by adding: through our Lord Jesus Christ. Even in the possession of perfect holiness and on the threshold of glory, it will be impossible for the Christian to forget that it is to Christ he owes all his eternal triumph as well as his past reconciliation, which was its condition. The last words: by whom we have now received the reconciliation, might be taken to remind the believer in what a sad state he was found, and by what painful means he needed to be rescued from it. The word now would then contrast his present with his past state. But this meaning is not the most natural after the preceding context. In closing, Paul rather contrasts the present with the future state: “through whom ye have now already received the reconciliation,” that first pledge of the deliverance to come, He who acquired for us the first of these favors by His sufferings, even that which is the condition of all the others, will not fail to carry the work to its completion, if we remain attached to Him by persevering faith. This: by whom we have received, is the parallel of the by whom also of Romans 5:2, as the through our Lord Jesus Christ, which precedes, is the parallel of the same words in Romans 5:1. The cycle is closed. It is now demonstrated by this summary argument, that justification by faith includes the resources necessary to assure us of the final justification that spoken of Rom 2:13 and even of final triumph, and that, consequently, the grace of justification is complete.
After thus expounding in a first section ( Rom 1:18 to Rom 3:20 ) universal condemnation, in a second section ( Rom 3:21 to Rom 5:11 ) universal justification, there remains nothing more for the apostle to do than to compare these two vast dispensations by bringing together their two points of departure. Such is the subject of the third section, which closes this fundamental part.
Hofmann thinks that, after describing divine wrath in the section Rom 1:17 to Romans 3:4, the apostle from Rom 3:5 to Rom 4:25 contrasts with it the state of justification which Christians enjoy without cause of boasting; this teaching is entirely in keeping with monotheism, strengthens moral life instead of weakening it ( Rom 3:31 ), and is not at all invalidated by the case of Abraham. The conclusion is drawn Romans 5:1-11, namely, to lead believers to enjoy this blessed state fearlessly and full of hope. This construction breaks down before the following facts: Rom 3:5 cannot begin a new section; Rom 3:9 cannot be a question of the Christian conscience; Rom 3:31 does not refer to the moral fulfilling of the law: Abraham's case cannot have so slight a bearing as that which Hofmann is obliged to ascribe to it; Rom 5:1 is not an exhortation in the form of a conclusion.
The construction of Volkmar is wholly different. According to him, the exposition of justification by faith, begun Romans 3:9, closes at Romans 3:30. Here begins the confirmation of this mode of justification by the Old Testament. It goes from Rom 3:31 to Romans 8:36. And, first, confirmation by the book of the law, chap. 4 (the text of Genesis relating to Abraham); then, confirmation by the law itself, the biblical narrative of the condemnation of all in Adam, which corresponds to the doctrine of the justification of all in Christ, Romans 5:1-21; finally, confirmation by the harmony of the moral consequences of justification with the essence of the law, vi.-viii. But, independently of the false sense given to Rom 3:31 as a general title of iv.-viii., how are we to place the piece Rom 5:1-11 in one and the same subdivision with the parallel between Adam and Jesus Christ, and how are we to see in this last piece only a confirmation of justification by faith, by means of the narrative of the fall in the Old Testament? Finally, this distinction between the book of the law, the law and the moral essence of the law, is certainly foreign to the mind of the apostle. Holsten rightly says: “It is unnecessary to prove that these thoughts and this order belong to Volkmar, not to Paul.” Our construction approaches much nearer to that which Holsten himself has just published ( Jahrb. für protest. Theol. 1879, Nos. 1 and 2). The essential difference begins only with the following piece regarding Adam and Christ. This passage, while stating the result of the preceding part, belongs nevertheless, according to Holsten, to the following part, chap. 6-8, of which it is in his view the foundation.
Without failing to perceive a certain transitional character in this passage, we must regard it mainly as a conclusion. Thus it is regarded also by Lipsius in his recent work on the Epistle to the Romans ( Protestanten-Bibel).
Vv. 12 describes the entrance of death into the world. The emphasis is on the words: by one man. Adam is here characterized not merely as the first of sinners, but as the one who laid human life open to the power of sin. If Paul does not speak of Eve, as in 2 Corinthians 11:3, et al., it is because the fall of the race was not necessarily bound up with that of the woman. Adam alone was the true representative of mankind still included in him at that time.
The term sin should be taken here in its greatest generality. The apostle is not speaking specially of sin either as a tendency or an act, either as an individual act or as a collective fact; but of the principle of revolt whereby the human will rises against the divine in all its different forms and manifestations. Holsten sees in sin an objective power controlling human existence even in Adam. But from the Bible standpoint sin exists only in the will. It has no place in objective existence and outside the will of the creature. Julius Müller reaches a result almost the same by starting from an opposite point of view; according to him, the will of individual men has been corrupted by a free transgression previously to their earthly existence. On both of these views the apostle should have said: sin appeared with or in the first man; but not: sin entered by him. The word entered indicates the introduction of a principle till then external to the world, and the word by throws back the responsibility of the event on him who, as it were, pierced the dike through which the irruption took place; comp. the term disobedience, Romans 5:19.
The word κόσμος , the world, evidently denotes here, as in John 3:16, et al., only the domain of human existence. Paul certainly holds, with Scripture, the previous existence of evil in a superhuman sphere.
Assuredly no subsequent transgression is comparable to this. It created a state of things here below which subsequent sins only served to confirm. If the question is asked, how a being created good could perpetrate such an act, we answer that a decision like this does not necessarily suppose the existence of evil in its author. There is in moral life not only a conflict between good and evil, but also between good and good, lower good and higher good. The act of eating the fruit of the tree on which the prohibition rested, was not at all illegitimate in itself. It became guilty only through the prohibition. Man therefore found himself placed and such was the necessary condition of the moral development through which he had to pass between the inclination to eat, an inclination innocent in itself, but intended to be sacrificed, and the positively good divine order. At the instigation of an already existing power of revolt, man drew from the depths of his liberty a decision whereby he adhered to the inclination rather than to the divine will, and thus created in his whole race, still identified with his person, the permanent proclivity to prefer inclination to obligation. As all the race would have perished with him if he had perished, it was all seized in him with the spirit of revolt to which in that hour he had adhered. We are nowhere told, however, that his descendants are individually responsible for this diseased tendency. It is in proportion as each individual voluntarily resigns himself to it that he becomes personally responsible for it.
But was it compatible with divine perfection to let this succession of generations, stained with an original vice, come into the world? God certainly might have annihilated the perverted race in its head, and replaced it by a new one; but this would have been to confess Himself vanquished by the adversary. He might, on the contrary, accept it such as sin had made it, and leave it to develop in the natural way, holding it in His power to recover it; and this would be to gain a victory on the field of battle where He seemed to have been conquered. Conscience says to which of these two courses God must give the preference, and Scripture teaches us which He has in in reality preferred.
But the point which Paul has in view in this declaration is not the origin of sin, but that of death. And hence he passes immediately, understanding the same verb as before, to the second fact: and death by sin. It would have been wholly different had he meant to begin here to treat the subject of sanctification; he would in that case have at least stopped for a moment at this grave fact of the introduction of sin. If sin is not mentioned by him except by way of transition to death, this is because he is still on the subject of justification, the corresponding fact to which is condemnation, that is to say, death. Death is the monument of a divine condemnation, which has fallen on mankind.
The term death is used by Scripture in three senses 1. Physical death, or the separation of soul and body; in consequence of this separation from its life principle, the body is given over to dissolution. 2. Spiritual death, or the separation of the soul from God; in consequence of this separation from its principle of life, the soul becomes corrupt in its lusts ( Eph 4:22 ). 3. Eternal death, or the second death; this is in the human being the consummation of his separation from God by the separation of the soul from the spirit, the soul's faculty for the divine. The soul and body then deprived of this superior principle, the native element of the soul, become the prey of the worm which dieth not ( Mar 9:43-48 ). Of these three meanings, the last does not suit this passage; for the second death does not begin till the judgment. The second is equally inapplicable, because the idea of death would then be compounded with that of sin, which is distinguished from it in this very passage. There remains, therefore, only the first meaning. It is confirmed, besides, by the obvious allusion to the narrative of Genesis (Romans 2:17, Rom 3:19 ), as well as by the explanation contained in the following verses (13 and 14), where the word death is evidently taken in its strict sense. We should add, however, that death, even when taken simply as physical death, always implies an abnormal state in relation to God, a state which, if it continues and develops, cannot fail to draw after it fatal consequences to man.
What, according to the apostle's view, is the relation between sin and death contained in the preposition διά , by, which he uses a second time? It might be said that death is simply the natural consequence of sin, since, God being the source of moral and physical life, once the bond is broken between Him and man, man must die. But in Rom 5:16 the apostle makes death the consequence of sin through a positive sentence, which proves that if we have to do here with a natural consequence, it is one which is also willed. It is true, two objections may be urged against this opinion, which makes death a consequence of sin. The first is what Paul himself says, 1 Corinthians 15:42, that our earthly body is sown in corruption, weakness, and dishonor, and that because it is psychical. A little further on, 1 Corinthians 15:47, alluding to Genesis 3:19, he adds that the first man is of the earth, earthy, which seems to make the dissolution of his body a natural consequence of his nature. The second objection is this: Long before the creation of man, the existence of death is proved in the domain of animal life. Now the body of man belongs to the great sum total of animal organization, of which he is the crown; and therefore the law of death must already have extended to man, independently of sin. Paul's words in the Epistle to the Corinthians, as well as those of Genesis, the sense of which he reproduces, prove beyond doubt the natural possibility of death, but not its necessity. If man had remained united to God, his body, naturally subject to dissolution, might have been gloriously transformed, without passing through death and dissolution. The notion of the tree of life, as usually explained, means nothing else. This privilege of an immediate transformation will belong to the believers who shall be alive at the time of our Lord's return ( 1Co 15:51-52 ); and it was probably this kind of transformation that was on the point of taking effect in the person of the Lord Himself at the time of His transfiguration. This privilege, intended for holy men, was withdrawn from guilty man; such was the sentence which gave him over to dissolution. It is stated in the words: “Thou art dust (that is to say, thou canst die), and to dust shalt thou return (that is to say, thou shalt in fact die).” The reign of death over the animals likewise proves only this: that it was in the natural condition of man to terminate in dissolution. Remaining on the level of animalism by the preference given by him to inclination over moral obligation, man continued subject to this law. But had he risen by an act of moral liberty above the animal, he would not have had to share its lot (see also on Rom 8:19-22 ).
From the origin of sin, and of death by sin, the apostle passes to a third idea: the diffusion of death. Once entered among mankind, death took hold of all the beings composing the race. The two prepositions εἰς ( into) and διά ( through) in the two verbs εἰσῆλθεν and διῆλθεν , indicate exactly this connection between entrance and propagation. As poison once swallowed penetrates to all parts of the body, so it happened in Adam, in whom the whole race was virtually contained; in him the tendency to dissolution victoriously asserted itself over all the individuals that were to come, so that every one of them was born dying. The word οὕτως , so, may be explained in three ways: either it repeats, as Dietzsch, Hofm. think, the notion: by one man: “death, after having entered by one, spread in the same manner (by this one).” Or, as is held by Meyer and Philippi, this so alludes to the relation of cause and effect, which has just been pointed out between sin and death: “and so, by reason of this connection between sin and death, death passed on all,” which assumes as a premiss the understood idea that sin also extended to all. Or, finally, is it not more natural to explain the word so by the connection between the two verbs? “And once entered, it gained by its very entrance the power of passing on all.” The threshold crossed, the enemy could strike immediately all the inmates of the house. What mode would have presented the opposite of that characterized by the so, if death had reached each man individually by a door which he himself had opened? The all is expressly emphasized in contrast to one, because in this contrast between one and all there is concentrated the idea of the whole passage. The Greco-Latin MSS. here omit ὁ θάνατος , death. In this case we must either take the verb διῆλθεν in an impersonal sense: “and so it (this connection between sin and death) happened to all;” or, what would be preferable, take the whole following proposition as the subject: “and so there passed on all, that in consequence of which, or in virtue of which, all have sinned.” Both of these constructions are obviously forced. It is probable that the omission of ὁ θάνατος has arisen, as van Hengel well suggests, from the fact that the whole of the verse was connected with sin; the words: and death by sin, being consequently regarded merely as incidental or parenthetical, and so there was given as a subject to διῆλθε , ἡ ἁμαρτία , sin, of the first proposition.
But why does Paul add the last words: ἐφ᾿ ᾧ πάντες ἥμαρτον , which we have translated by: for that all have sinned? They seem to contradict the idea expressed in the first part of the verse, and to ascribe the death of each man not to the sin of Adam, but to his own. The numerous explanations which have been given of these words may, it seems to us, be reduced to three principal heads; they amount in fact to one or other of these three ideas 1. The death of individual men results wholly from their own sins. 2. The death of individual men results partly from Adam's sin and partly from their own sins. 3. The death of all individual men arises solely from Adam's sin.
Let us begin with the study of the form ἐφ᾿ ᾧ . In the New Testament it is found in the local sense ( Luk 5:25 ); in the moral sense, it is applied either to the object: ἐφ᾿ ᾧ πάρει , “ with what object art thou here?” or to the determining cause of the action or feeling; so without doubt 2 Corinthians 5:4: ἐφ᾿ ᾧ οὐ θέλομεν ἐκδύσασθαι , for that we would not be unclothed, but clothed upon;” probably also Philippians 3:12: ἐφ᾿ ᾦ καὶ κατελήφθην , “I seek to apprehend, because that also I have been apprehended;” perhaps also Philippians 4:10: ἐφ᾿ ᾧ καὶ ἐφρονεῖτε , “(I say so), because that ye also thought;” but this ἐφ᾿ ᾧ may also be understood as a pronoun connected with what precedes: “as regards what concerns me, with which ye were also occupied.” It is easy to see, in fact, that the phrase may have two different meanings, according as we take it as pronominal or conjunctive. In the former case, it bears on what precedes: on account of, or in view of which, that is to say, of the idea just expressed ( propterea). In the second, it bears on what follows: because, or in view of the fact that, that is to say, of the idea just about to be enunciated ( propterea quod). The difference is analogous to that of διό and διότι . We shall have need, as will appear, of all these meanings in the study of the following phrase.
The first explanation is that which makes the apostle explain the death of all by the individual sin of all. This is the meaning adopted by Calvin, Melanchthon, and several others, particularly by Reuss. The latter expresses himself thus: “No question here of the imputation of Adam's sin or hereditary sin; these are scholastic theses. All have been visited with the same punishment as Adam, therefore they must all have merited it like him.” The idea would thus be that all men die in consequence of their individual sins. There are three reasons which render this explanation impossible 1. The καὶ οὕτως , and so, evidently signifies that each individual dies in consequence of the entrance of sin, and therefore of death, into this world by one Man 1:2 . This idea would be in contradiction to the very aim of the whole passage, which is to make the death of all rest on Adam, even as the righteousness of all rests on Christ. 3. The death of infants would be inexplicable on this interpretation; for they have certainly not brought death on themselves by their individual sins. Calvin, Tholuck, and others on this account apply the ἥμαρτον , have sinned, not to particular acts, but to the evil disposition: have become sinners, which might be said also of infants who have died without actual sins. But the verb ἁμαρτάνειν cannot have this meaning. It always denotes sin as an act, not as a state. Paul would have said: ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἐγενήθησαν , or, as in Romans 5:19: ἁμαρτωλοὶ κατεστάθησαν . Mangold alleges that Paul did not take account of infants when he expressed himself thus, and that he meant only to speak of mankind, so far as they really sin. But Paul is not explaining the death of this or that individual; he is explaining the fact of death in itself. If there are examples of death, and that in great number, which do not come under the explanation he gives, it is not enough to say that he does not take account of them; his explanation must be declared insufficient.
A second class of commentators seek to modify the preceding and evidently inadmissible explanation; they give a restricted or determinate sense to ἐφ᾿ ᾧ , making it signify: seeing that besides, or on this condition that, or in so far as; so Julius Müller, Rothe, Ewald. The object of all these attempts is to get at this idea: that the diffusion of death in the world, in consequence of Adam's sin, took place only on a certain condition, and on account of a subsidiary cause, the particular sins committed by each man. There is on this view a personal act of appropriation in the matter of death, as there is one, namely faith, in the matter of salvation. But such a meaning of ἐφ᾿ ᾧ cannot be demonstrated; it would have required ἐφ᾿ ὅσον , or some other phrase. Then this meaning is opposed to Romans 5:16, which directly contrasts condemnation as a thing which has come by one, with the gift of grace as applying to the sins of the many. Besides, would it be possible for Paul to seek to establish no logical relation between these two causes, the one principal, the other secondary, and to content himself with putting them in juxtaposition, notwithstanding their apparent contradiction?
The third class of interpretations may be divided into two groups 1. Those which take ἐφ᾿ ᾧ as a relative pronoun. So Hofmann, who makes θάνατος ( death, in the physical and moral sense) the antecedent, and gives to ἐπί and ἐφ᾿ ᾧ the temporal sense: “during the existence, or in the presence of which (death) all have sinned” that is to say, that when all individual men sinned, the reign of death was already established here below, which proves clearly that it was so not in consequence of our particular sins, but on account of Adam's sin. Dietzsch interprets almost in the same way as Hofmann, only he sets aside the temporal meaning of ἐπί , to substitute for it the notion of the condition on which, or the state of things in which, the fact takes place. The same relation of the ἐφ᾿ ᾧ to θάνατος is followed by Gess, except that he understands the word θάνατος of spiritual death, sin: “Upon all (spiritual) death has come, on the ground of which all individual men have consequently committed sin.” We omit other less comprehensible shades. But why have recourse to this form of expression ἐφ᾿ ᾧ , which has usually a quite different sense in Paul, and not say simply, if such was his meaning, that death here below preceded individual sins, and consequently is not their effect? Besides, the fact itself, here ascribed to the apostle, is not strictly true. For the first death on the earth, that of Abel, was certainly preceded by a multitude of particular sins. In Gess's explanation the idea is much simpler: “In Adam death came upon all, moral corruption, as a consequence of which all since have sinned individually.” But this idea lies without the context; for Paul, as we have seen, is not treating here of the origin of sin, but of the origin of death, and of death taken in the physical sense. Death appears here as the visible proof of the invisible judgment which hangs over mankind. Romans 5:13-14, as well as 15 and 17, leave no doubt on this head. In this way it would seem to us simpler to give to ἐφ᾿ ᾧ the neuter sense: on which, in consequence of which, all have sinned. Only this meaning of ἐφ᾿ ᾧ would be, we fear, without precedent. 2. The second mode of interpretation in this third class takes the ἐφ᾿ ᾧ as a conjunctive phrase: for that, and connects it with the idea following: all have sinned. How sinned? Through this one man who introduced sin. So Bengel: quia omnes, ADAMO PECCANTE peccaverunt. It must be allowed that the thought of the δἰ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπον , by one man, which begins the verse, so controls the mind of the apostle that he does not count it necessary expressly to repeat it. This meaning is in harmony with the best established use of the ἐφ᾿ ᾧ in the New Testament (see above) and in the classics (see Meyer). And the idea expressed in this proposition thus understood, appears again without doubt in the first part of Romans 5:15: “through the offence of one many be dead;” and in that of Romans 5:17: “by one man's offence death reigned by one; ” comp. 1 Corinthians 15:22: “as in Adam all die. ” No doubt it is objected that the essential idea in this case: “ in Adam,” is omitted; but we think we have accounted for the omission. And we find, as Bengel has already remarked, a somewhat similar ellipsis in the analogous though not parallel passage, 2 Corinthians 5:15: “If one died for all, then all died;” understand: in him.
True, the question is asked, if it is possible that the eternal lot of a free and intelligent person should be made dependent on an act in which he has taken no part with will and conscience. Assuredly not; but there is no question here about the eternal lot of individuals. Paul is speaking here above all of physical death. Nothing of all that passes in the domain in which we have Adam for our father can be decisive for our eternal lot. The solidarity of individuals with the head of the first humanity does not extend beyond the domain of natural life. What belongs to the higher life of man, his spiritual and eternal existence, is not a matter of species, but of the individual.
The Vulgate has admitted an interpretation of this passage, set in circulation by Origen and spread by Augustine, which, in a way grammatically false, yet comes to the same result as ours. ᾿Εφ᾿ ᾧ is taken in the sense of ἐν ᾧ : “ in whom ” (Adam). But ἐπί cannot have the meaning of ἐν , and even if ᾧ were a relative pronoun here, it would neither refer to Adam, who has not been named, nor to one man, from which it is separated by so many intermediate propositions.
The most impenetrable mystery in the life of nature is the relation between the individual and the species. Now to this domain belongs the problem raised by the words: “ for that (in this one man) all have sinned. ” Adam received the unique mission to represent the whole species concentrated in a single individual. Such a phenomenon cannot be repeated, at least in the domain of nature. The relation of each of us to that man, the incarnation of the species itself, has nothing in common with the relation which we have to sustain to any other man. In the revelation of salvation given to the apostle this mysterious connection was assumed, but not explained. For it belongs to a sphere on which the revealing ray does not fall. And therefore it is that in the two following verses the apostle thinks it necessary to demonstrate the reality of the fact which he had just announced: the death of all through the sin of one. We shall see that the meaning of these two verses comes out only when we approach them with the explanation just given of the last words of Romans 5:12; this will be the best proof of its truth.
Twelfth Passage (5:12-21). The Universality of Salvation in Christ proved by the Universality of Death in Adam.
Justification by faith had just been expounded; the historical foundation on which it rested, its harmony with the Israelitish revelation, the certainty of its enduring to the end all these points had been illustrated; and the major part of the theme, Romans 3:21-22, was thus developed. One idea remains still, and that the most important of all, which was expressed in the theme in the striking words: εἰς πάντας καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας , for all and upon all who believe. Universalism was the peculiar character of Paul's gospel; justification by faith, the subject of exposition thus far, was its necessary condition. To omit expressly developing this decisive feature would have been to leave the fruit ungathered after laboriously cultivating the tree. The apostle could not commit such a mistake. He performs this final task in the last piece, the very peculiar nature of which suffices to demonstrate its importance.
Commentators have understood the idea and object of the passage in various ways. According to Baur and his school, as well as several other commentators, the apostle has in view the Jewish-Christianity reigning in the Roman Church. He wishes at once to refute and gain it, either by expounding a conception of history in which the law finds no more place (Baur), or by proving that salvation, like condemnation, depends in no degree on the conduct of individuals and their works, but solely on an objective standard, on the unconditional and absolute appointment of God (Holsten). But this piece does not answer exactly either to the one or other of these two views. The observation made in Rom 5:20 on the secondary part played by the law, cannot express the intention of the entire piece. This remark, rendered indispensable in this universal survey by the important place filled by the Mosaic law in the religious history of mankind, is thrown out too much by the way to allow of its concentrating upon itself the interest of so vast an exposition. The other view, that of the absolute determinism which Holsten ascribes to St. Paul, would no doubt serve to cut by the roots the system of justification by works; but it would be one of those remedies which destroy the suffering by killing the sufferer. For determinism excludes human merit only by suppressing moral liberty and responsibility. It is not so that Paul proceeds. In any case, it is easy to see that the apostle's direct aim in this piece is not to exclude legal righteousness; he has done with this idea. It is the universality of the Christian salvation which he wishes to demonstrate. Ewald, Dietzsch, and Gess rightly advance the striking difference which there is between the argument of the Epistle to the Galatians and the teaching of the Epistle to the Romans. In the former, where Paul is attacking Jewish-Christianity, his argument starts from the theocratic history, from Abraham; in the latter, which expounds the relation of the gospel to human nature, Jewish and Gentile, the argument starts from general history, from Adam, the father of all mankind. From the very beginning of the Epistle the point of view is universal (Gentiles, chap. 1; Jews, chap. 2).
Very many commentators hold the opinion that the apostle's purpose is to ascend to the source of the two currents, whether of condemnation and death, or of justification and life, which sway the life of mankind; or, as Dietzsch puts it, to the very powers which determine present facts, the lot of individuals. The practical aim of this investigation would thus be that indicated by Chrysostom in the words: “As the best physicians turn their whole attention to find out the root of maladies, and thus reach the very source of the evil, so it is that Paul acts.” Every reader would thus be invited by the passage to break the bond of oneness (solidarity) which naturally unites him to the head of lost humanity, and to contract by faith the new bond whereby he can have fellowship with the head of justified humanity. This view is the most widely spread, and we do not conceal from ourselves the measure of truth which it contains. But two difficulties arrest us when we attempt to make this idea the key to the whole passage. It is perfectly obvious from Rom 5:12 that the apostle is rather concerned with the origin of death than with that of sin, and that he mentions the latter only to reach the former. It is also to the fact of death that he returns most frequently in the course of this piece, comp. Romans 5:15-18; Romans 5:21. Would it be so if his direct aim were to ascend to sin, the source of evil? Then we find him nowhere insisting on the gravity of sin and on the necessity of faith for salvation. No exhortation to the reader to form a personal union with the new Adam reveals this directly practical intention which is ascribed to him, especially by Hofmann and Th. Schott. We are therefore forced to conclude that we are not yet on the right track.
Rothe starts from the idea that the first part of chap. 5 has already begun the exposition of sanctification as the fruit of justification by faith, an exposition which continues in chap. 6 The passage from Rom 5:12-21 would thus be a simple episode intended to prove that as men became sinners in common by the sin of one, so they can only become saints in common that is to say, in Christ. The piece would thus treat of the moral assimilation, either of corruption or holiness, by individual men. Such is also the opinion of Lange and Schaff, who make chap. Rom 5:12 begin the part of the Epistle relating to moral regeneration by the appropriation of the holy life of the new Adam (vi.-viii.). There is certainly mention of sanctification in the passage, Romans 5:1-11; we grant this to Rothe (comp. Romans 5:9-10: by Him; by His life), but, as we have seen, only in relation to final justification, which rests on the continuance of the action of the living Christ in the justified soul. As to the subject of sanctification thus announced beforehand, it is not actually treated till chap. 6. The relations to 6-8 are no doubt real and profound. Lange proves them perfectly. But it is exaggerating their scope to make them a reason for detaching the passage Rom 5:12-21 from the preceding context, in order to make it the preface to the doctrine of sanctification. The dominant ideas in the passage are not those of sin and of the new life; they are only, as we shall see, those of condemnation and justification, which had been the subject of the whole preceding part. This piece must therefore be regarded as its conclusion.
By the first term of the comparison (our common condemnation in Adam) this parallel certainly recalls the whole section of the ὀργή , wrath, Rom 1:18 to Romans 3:20, as by the second (common salvation in Christ) it recalls the subject of the second section, the righteousness of faith, Rom 3:21 to Romans 5:11. But this resemblance is far from exhausting the connection of this piece with all that precedes. The two terms of comparison, Adam and Christ, are not only put in juxtaposition with one another; they are put in logical connection, and it is in this living relation that the true idea of the piece is contained. With a boldness of thought which it is scarcely possible to imagine, Paul discovers, in the extension and power of the mysterious condemnation pronounced in Adam, the divine measure of the extension and power of the salvation bestowed in Christ, so that the very intensity of the effects of the fall becomes transformed, in his skilful hands, into an irresistible demonstration of the greatness of salvation. And this final piece is thus found to be at one and the same moment the counterpart of the first section (condemnation) and the crowning of the second (justification).
The following parallel falls, as it were, of itself into four distinct paragraphs:
1. Romans 5:12-14; Romans 5:12-14: the universal diffusion of death by the deed of one man.
2. Romans 5:15-17; Romans 5:15-17: the superiority of the factors acting in Christ's work over the corresponding factor in the work of Adam.
3. Romans 5:18-19; Romans 5:18-19: the certainty of equality in respect of extension and effect between the second work and the first.
4. Romans 5:20-21; Romans 5:20-21: the indication of the true part played by the law between these two universals of death and righteousness.
Exegesis has been led more and more to the grouping which we have just indicated (see Dietzsch, and especially Hodge), though the idea of those four paragraphs and their logical relation are still very variously understood.
Vv. 13, 14. “ For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed if there is no law; and nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the resemblance of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come. ”
According to the first two interpretations of the preceding proposition, which lay down the sins committed by each individual as the sole or secondary cause of his death, the argument contained in Rom 5:13-14 would be this: “All die because they have all sinned; for even during the time which elapsed down to the giving of the law sin was in the world; now sin is undoubtedly not reckoned in the absence of law. Nevertheless, that did not prevent sin from reigning during all the interval between Adam and Moses, which proves certainly that it was nevertheless imputed in some measure. How could that be? Because of the law of nature written even in the heart of the Gentiles.” Such is De Wette's interpretation, also that of Lange and Reuss. In this sense the second proposition of Rom 5:13 must be taken as an objection made to Paul on which he raises himself. Then he would be made to answer in the sequel by confining himself to stating the very fact of the reign of death. But the explanation of death is the very point in question; how could the fact itself be given in proof? Then a simple δέ would not have sufficed to indicate such a shifting in the direction of the thought. The text rather produces the impression of a consecutive argument. Finally, at the close of such an argument, the apostle could not have left to be understood the solution which he himself gave of the problem, namely, the natural law written in the heart of the Gentiles. This idea, on which everything rested, was at once too essential and too unfamiliar to the minds of his readers to be passed over in silence as self-evident. It has been sought to meet these difficulties by giving to the word ἐλλογεῖν , to put to account, a purely subjective meaning, and so to make the proposition, Romans 5:13 b, a simple observation interjected by the way. Ambrose and Augustine, then Luther, Calvin, and Melanchthon, and in our days Rückert, Rothe, and J. Müller, do in fact apply the imputation expressed by ἐλλογεῖν not to the judgment of God, but to the reckoning which the sinner makes to himself of the trespass which he has committed: “Every one died for his own sin, for sin existed even before the law, though the sinners did not take account of it, nor esteem themselves guilty. But death, which nevertheless reigned, proved that God on His part imputed it to the sinner.” But this purely subjective signification of the term ἐλλογεῖν cannot be justified. It would require to be indicated in some way. How, besides, could Paul have affirmed in terms so general that the sinners between Adam and Moses did not impute their sins to themselves, after saying of the Gentiles, Romans 2:15, that “their thoughts mutually accuse or excuse one another,” and Romans 1:32, that these same Gentiles “knew the judgment of God, that those who do such things are worthy of death”? Finally, the idea that, notwithstanding this want of subjective imputation, the divine imputation continued ever in force, would have required to be more strongly emphasized in Romans 5:14. In general, all these modes of interpretation, according to which Paul is held to explain the death of individuals by their own sins, run counter to the object which he had before him in this whole passage, the parallel between the justification of all in one, and the condemnation of all in one.
Let us then resume our explanation of the end of Romans 5:12; and let us seek from this viewpoint to give account of Romans 5:13-14: “Death passed upon all, for that (in Adam) all sinned.” The course of the following argument at once becomes easy to understand: “ Sin was assuredly in the world at that time (and you might consequently say to me: it was for that reason men died); but I answer: sin is not imputed if there is no law (it could not therefore be the cause of the death with which every individual was visited); and yet death reigned even over those who had not like Adam violated a positive law. ” The conclusion is obvious: “Therefore all these individuals died, not for their own sin, but because of Adam's,” which had been affirmed in the close of Rom 5:12 and which was to be proved. We might in our own day argue in exactly the same manner to explain the death of the heathen or of infants: Since they are still without law, they die, not because they have sinned personally, but because they all sinned in Adam. It is clear also how the argument thus understood is in keeping with the object of this passage. All having been, as is proved by the death of all, condemned in Adam, all can likewise be really justified in Christ. Hofmann and Dietzsch, who have explained ἐφ᾿ ᾧ in the sense of: “on the ground of which (death) all have sinned,” are of course obliged to interpret Rom 5:13-14 differently from us, though to arrive at the same result. We think it useless to discuss their explanation, which falls to the ground of itself, with that which they give to the last words of Romans 5:12.
Having explained the argument as a whole, let us return to the details of the text itself. The for, at the beginning of Romans 5:13, bears not only on the proposition of which it forms part, but on the entire argument to the end of Romans 5:14.
The words ἄχρι νόμου , until the law, might signify, as the old commentators would have it: “as long as the law existed,” that is to say, from Moses to Jesus Christ. For ἄχρι may have the meaning of during. But Romans 5:14, which paraphrases the words thus: “from Adam to Moses,” excludes this meaning.
The absence of the article before νόμου , law, certainly does not prevent it here from denoting the Mosaic law; comp. Romans 5:14: until Moses. But it is not as Mosaic law, but as law strictly so called, that the Jewish law is here mentioned. And so the translation might well be: till a law, that is to say, a law of the same kind as the commandment which Adam violated. The absence of the article before ἁμαρτία , sin, has a similar effect; there was sin at that period among men. In the following proposition it is again sin as a category which is designated (being without article). If the substantive ἁμαρτία , sin, is repeated (instead of the pronoun), it is because, as Meyer says, we have here the statement of a general maxim.
The verb ἒλλογεῖν is not found elsewhere except in the Epistle to Philemon, Romans 5:18, where Paul asks this Christian to put to his account, his, Paul's, what Onesimus, whom he is recommending, may still owe to him. Between this term and λογίζειν , which he more frequently uses, the one shade of difference is that of the ἐν , in, which enters into the composition of ἐλλογεῖν : to inscribe in the account book. It is wholly arbitrary to apply this word to the subjective imputation of conscience. The parallel from the Epistle to Philemon shows clearly what its meaning is. But does the apostle then mean to teach the irresponsibility of sinners who, like the Gentiles, have not had a written law? No; for the whole book of Genesis, which describes the period between Adam and Moses, would protest against such an assertion. The matter in questior is an immediate and personal imputation, resting on a threatening like this: “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt die.” The infliction of the punishment of death in the sense of this divine saying necessarily supposes a positive law violated; it supposes in general a theocratic government set up. Only in such circumstances can the violator be brought to account to be immediately judged and subjected, either to capital punishment, or to the obligation of providing an expiatory act, such as sacrifice (taking the place of the punishment of death). Outside of such an organization there may be other great dispensations of a collective and disciplinary character, such as the deluge, the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the abandonment of the Gentiles to their own corruption (chap. 1). These historical dispensations are vast pedagogical measures taken in respect of the whole human race; they have not the character of judicial and individual sentences, like those which rest on some article of a code violated by an individual with full knowledge of the law; comp. the contrast between the ἀπολοῦνται , shall perish, and the κριθήσονται , shall be judged, Romans 2:12.
The subjective negative μή before ὄντος νόμου represents the fact as it exists in the mind of the author of the maxim.
Vv. 14. ᾿Αλλά : and nevertheless; a strongly emphasized contrast to the idea of non-imputation ( Rom 5:13 ).
The word reign denotes a power firmly established, resting on the immovable foundation of the divine sentence pronounced over the whole race. Death cannot denote more here than the loss of life in the ordinary sense of the word. There is no reference either to spiritual death (sin, Gess), or to the sufferings and infirmities of life (Hodge), but simply to the fact that between Adam and Moses men died though there was no law. This imputation of Adam's sin, as the cause of death to every individual man, would be absolutely incomprehensible and incompatible with the justice of God, if it passed beyond the domain of natural life marked off by the mysterious relation between the individual and the species. The sequel will show that as soon as we rise to the domain of spiritual life, the individual is no longer dependent on this solidarity of the species, but that he holds his eternal destiny in his own hands.
The words: “ also, or ( even) over them that had not sinned,” are taken by Meyer as referring to a part only of the men who lived between Adam and Moses, those, namely, who did not enjoy the positive revelations granted during this period, the Noachian commandments, for example, Genesis 9:1-17. Thus understood, Paul reminds us of the fact that the men of that time who were without those precepts were, as well as their contemporaries who enjoyed such light, subjected to death. But the whole passage, on the contrary, implies the absence of all positive law which could have been violated between Adam and Moses; consequently, the phrase: “ even over them who sinned not,” etc., embraces the whole human species from Adam to Moses without distinction; mankind during this interval are contrasted with Adam on the one hand, and with the people of Israel from Moses on the other. All these who were not under conditions of a capitally penal kind ( Rom 5:13 ) died nevertheless.
The words: “ after the resemblance of Adam's transgression,” are certainly not dependent, as the old Greek expositors thought, on the word reigned: “death reigned on the ground of a sin similar to that of Adam.” This sense leaves the words: even over them that sinned not, without any reasonable explanation. We must therefore bring this clause under καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς μὴ ἁμαρτήσαντας , in this sense: “ even over them that did not sin after the fashion of Adam's sin, ” that is to say, by transgressing as he did, a positive prohibition.
Hofmann insists on the strict meaning of the word which Paul uses, ὁμοίωμα , the object like (differing from ὁμοιότης , the resemblance), and, taking the genitive παραβάσεως as a subjective genitive, he explains: according to the form which was that of...or on the type presented by the transgression of...To render this shade into English, we must translate, not after the resemblance, but after the fashion of Adam's transgression.
From this whole argument it appeared that Adam had been the sole author of the reign of death, and herein precisely was he the counterpart of Him who was to come to be the sole principle of life here below. Thus it is easy to understand why the apostle, after explaining the origin of death, closes with these words, appropriately introducing the statement of the other member of the parallel: who is the type of the Adam that was to come. It is improper, with Bengel, to give to the participle μέλλοντος the neuter sense: of that which was to come (by regarding the masculine ὅς as a case of attraction from τύπος ). The word Adam, immediately preceding, more naturally leads us to make μέλλων a masculine. One might more easily, with Hofmann, regard this participle as a masculine substantive: Him who should come, in the sense in which the Messiah is called the ἐρχόμενος , the coming one. The meaning is not essentially different. If the Rabbinical sayings in which the Messiah is designated as the second or the last Adam were older than the seventh century of our era ( Targum of the Psalms), or the sixteenth ( Nevé schalom), it might be inferred from these passages that the description of the Messiah as the Adam to come was already received in the Jewish schools, and that the phrase of the apostle is a reference to this received notion. But it is quite possible that these sayings themselves were influenced by the texts of the New Testament. So Renan says positively: “In the Talmudic writings Adam ha-rischôn simply denotes the first man, Adam. Paul creates Ha-adam ha-aharôn by antithesis.” We must certainly set aside De Wette's idea, which applies the phrase: the future Adam, to Christ's final advent. The term μέλλων , future, is related to the time of the first Adam, not to the time when the apostle writes.
The word type denotes in Scripture language ( 1Co 10:11 ) an event, or a person realizing a law of the kingdom of God which will be realized afterward in a more complete and striking manner in a corresponding future event or person. Adam is the type of the Messiah, inasmuch as, to quote Ewald, “each of them draws after him all mankind,” so that “from what the one was to humanity we may infer what the other is to it” (Hofmann).
This proposition is a sort of provisional apodosis to the even as of Romans 5:12. It reminds the reader of the comparison which has been begun, and keeps the thought present to his mind till the comparison can be finished and grammatically completed by the true principal clause ( Rom 5:18 ).
A certain superiority of action is ascribed to Christ's work as compared with Adam's, in these three verses. What object does the apostle propose to gain by this demonstration? Why interrupt in this way the statement of the parity between the two works begun Rom 5:12 ? It has been thought that Paul is simply gratifying a want of his heart by displaying in the outset the infinite superiority of the second work over the first, that he may not compromise its dignity by abandoning himself without reserve to the idea of equality. But whatever overflow of feeling there may be in St. Paul, it is always regulated, as we have seen, by the demands of logic. We think, therefore, that these three verses, which are among the most difficult of the New Testament, will not be understood till we succeed in making them a necessary link in the argument.
It may be said that the sagacity of commentators has exhausted itself on this passage. While Morus holds that from Rom 5:15-19 the apostle merely repeats the same thing five times over in different words; while Rückert supposes that Paul himself was not quite sure of his own thoughts, Rothe and Meyer find in these verses traces of the most profound meditation and mathematical precision. Notwithstanding the favorable judgment of the latter, it must be confessed that the considerable variety of expositions proposed to explain the course and gradation of the thoughts seem still to justify to some extent the complaints of the former. Tholuck finds in Romans 5:15 a contrast of quantity between the two works, and in Romans 5:16-17 a contrast of quality (the contrast between right and grace). Ewald thinks that the contrast of Rom 5:15 bears on the thing itself (a sad effect and a happy effect this would be the quality), that of Rom 5:16 on the number and kind of the persons interested ( one sinner condemmed, thousands justified); then he passes on to Rom 5:17 with the simple remark: “to conclude,” and yet there is a for. Meyer and Holsten find in Rom 5:15 the contrast of effects ( death and the gift of grace), in Romans 5:16 a numerical contrast, as Ewald does, and in Rom 5:17 the seal put on the contrast of Rom 5:16 by the certainty of the future life. Dietzsch finds the gradation from Rom 5:15 to Rom 5:16 in the transition from the idea of grace to that of the re-establishment of holiness in pardoned believers; so he understands the δικαίωμα of Romans 5:16. Reuss sees in Rom 5:15 the contrast between just recompense and free grace (a contrast of quality), in Rom 5:16 that between a single sinner and a whole multitude of sinners (a contrast of quantity), and in Romans 5:17, finally, one as to the degree of certainty (a logical gradation). Hodge finds in Rom 5:15 the contrast between the more mysterious character of condemnation and the more intelligible character of pardon in Christ (a contrast evidently imported into the text), and in Rom 5:15 the idea of Christ's delivering us from a culpability greater still than that of Adam's sin that is to say, besides that of Adam, He takes away what we have added to it ourselves; finally, in Romans 5:17, he finds this gradation, that not only does Christ save us from death, but He introduces us into a state of positive and eternal felicity.
After all this, one needs a certain measure of courage to enter this double labyrinth, the study of the text and that of the exegetical interpretations.
We have seen that the apostle's argument aims at proving the parity between the two works. This is the idea of Romans 5:12 ( even as...death...upon all...), as well as of Rom 5:18 which completes it ( so...on all to justification of life). From this connection between Rom 5:12 and Rom 5:18 it follows that the development of the superiority of action belonging to Christ's work, Romans 5:15-17, must be a logical means of demonstrating the equality of extension and result, which forms the contents of the conclusion expressed in Romans 5:18-19. The relation between the first proposition of Rom 5:15 and the first of Rom 5:16 leads us to expect two contrasts, the first expounded in Romans 5:15, the second in Romans 5:16-17.
Vv. 15. “ But not as the offence, so is the act of grace. For if through the offence of one the many be dead, much rather the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto the many. ”
What the apostle here compares is not, as some have thought, the abundance of the effects, but rather the degree of extension belonging to the two works; for the emphasis is on the term the many, of the two sides of the parallel; and this degree of extension he measures very logically according to the degree of abundance in the factors a degree indicated on the one side by the subordinate clause of the first proposition: through the offence of one, on the other by the subject of the second: the grace of God, and the gift through this grace of one man. From the contrast between these factors it is easy to arrive at this conclusion: If from the first factor, so insignificant in a way the offence of one! there could go forth an action which spread over the whole multitude of mankind, will not the conclusion hold a fortiori that from the two factors acting on the opposite side, so powerful and rich as they are, there must result an action, the extension of which shall not be less than that of the first factor, and shall consequently also reach the whole of that multitude? Such is the general idea of this verse. It may be illustrated by a figure. If a very weak spring could inundate a whole meadow, would it not be safe to conclude that a much more abundant spring, if it spread over the same space of ground, would not fail to submerge it entirely?
The term παράπτωμα , fall, offence, is not synonymous with παράβασις , transgression. It is applied, Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:1, to the sin of the Gentiles. It has something extenuating in its meaning; it is, as it were, a mere false step. Such is the active principle in the first case. On the other hand, it is the χάρισμα , the act of grace, whose contents Paul will state in the double subject of the principal proposition. Some commentators have taken this first proposition of Rom 5:15 interrogatively. But the construction of the sentence does not lead naturally to the idea of an interrogation. And what is still more strongly opposed to this explanation is, that the sentence so understood would express the development of an analogy, while the rest of the verse states a difference. The two parallel members present a common term: οἱ πολλοί , literally, the many. This term has often been ill understood, or badly rendered; so when Oltramare translates by the majority in the first proposition, and a greater number in the second, which gives rise to more than one kind of ambiguity. Ostervald translates: many, which is as far from being exact. By this form Paul denotes, just as much as he would have done by the pronoun all, the totality of the human race. This is proved by the article οἱ , the, which he prefixes for the very purpose of indicating the idea of a totality to πολλοί , many. Only this term many is chosen with the view of establishing the contrast to the one from whom the influence went forth. All would be opposed to some, and not to one. It would not be suitable here. Paul will return to it at Romans 5:18. He is dealing in Rom 5:15 with the possibility of the action of one on many. We have sought to render the meaning of this οἱ πολλοί , by translating: the many ( the multitude). An offence of one, says the apostle, sufficed to bring about the death of this multitude. This expression confirms the sense which we have given of the last clause of Romans 5:12; it is clearly through Adam's sin, and not through their own, that men die. This fact, established by the demonstration of Romans 5:13-14, serves as a point of support for the conclusion drawn in the following proposition. The term χάρισμα , act of grace, used in opening the verse, combined the two ideas which Paul now distinguishes: the grace of God and the gift by which it is manifested, Jesus Christ. Grace is the first source of salvation. The richness of this source, which is no other than the infinite love of God Himself, at once contrasts with the weakness of the opposite factor, the offence of one. But how much more striking is the contrast, when to the love of God we add the gift whereby this love is displayed! Comp. John 3:16. The substantive ἡ δωρεά , the gift, denotes not the thing given ( δώρημα , Rom 5:16 ), but the act of giving, which is more directly related to the idea of grace. Commentators differ as to the grammatical relation of ἐν χάριτι , in (or by) the grace of the one man. Meyer and others make these words depend on the verb ἐπερίσσευσεν : “The gift flowed over through the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. ” But the expression: the gift, can hardly remain without an explanatory clause. And the idea: through the grace, connected with the verb overflowed, weakens the meaning of the clause instead of strengthening it. For it diverts the thought from the essential word: unto the many. Meyer alleges that there must be in the second member a counterpart to the words: through the offence of one, in the first, and that this counterpart can only be found in these: through the grace of the one, Jesus Christ. He thus misses one of the greatest beauties of our verse
I mean the reversal of construction introduced by the apostle in passing from the subordinate to the principal proposition; there, the intransitive form: By...many are dead; here, the active form: the grace of God, and the gift...have abounded to the many. In the first case, there was a disagreeable accident involuntarily experienced: the many fell stricken with death; in the second, on the contrary, they are the objects of a double personal action put forth in their behalf. In reality, then, the counterpart of the expression: through the offence of one, is found in the second member, but as the subject, and no longer as a simple phrase. We shall again find a similar change of construction in Romans 5:17. Comp. also 2 Corinthians 3:9. The clause ἐν χάριτι is therefore the qualification of the word the gift: “ the gift consisting in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.” The love of God is a love which gives another love; it is the grace of a father giving the love of a brother. The absence of the article between δωρεά and ἐν χάριτι is explained by the intimate relation subsisting between these two substantives, which express, so to speak, a single notion. The idea of the grace of Christ is developed in all its richness, 2 Corinthians 8:9: “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” This relation of solidarity and fraternity between Christ and us is strongly brought out by the phrase: of the one man, ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου . Comp. the similar expressions, 1 Corinthians 15:21: “ By man ( δἰ ἀνθρώπου ) came death, and by man ( δἰ ἀνθρώπου ) the resurrection of the dead;” and 1 Timothy 2:5: “There is one Mediator... the man Christ Jesus.” The incarnation has had for its effect to raise the whole human race to the rank of His family. The adjective ἑνός , of one, is prefixed to contrast Christ, as well as Adam, with the many. And after these accumulated descriptions, all calculated to display the greatness of the gift of divine grace, there is at length pronounced the name which in the history of mankind is the only one that can figure side by side with that of Adam: Jesus Christ. Comp. John 1:17, where this name, long delayed, is proclaimed at last with special solemnity (in contrast to Moses); and John 17:3, where it is joined, as here, with the name of God, to describe the source of salvation and the supreme object of faith. What must have been the impression produced by the appearance of Jesus on His contemporaries, when, only twenty odd years after His death, He could be put with the avowal of the entire church for the apostle evidently reckons on the absolute assent of his readers on a parallel with the father of the first humanity! The clause εἰς τοὺς πολλούς is placed immediately before the verb, because it is on this idea that the emphasis rests. ᾿Επερίσσευσεν , abounded; it might be translated: overflowed. This verb properly denotes the outflow of a liquid lapping over a vessel more than filled. Christ is the vessel filled with grace, whence salvation overflows on the many. The aorist indicates an already accomplished fact; the subject, then, is not a future grace, but the work of justification expounded from Romans 3:21. If Adam's offence was sufficiently influential to tell in the form of death on the whole multitude of the race, much more should a grace like that of God, and a gift like that of Jesus, be capable of acting on the same circle of persons! The superiority of abundance in the factors of Christ's work thus establishes an a fortiori conclusion in the view of the apostle in favor of the equality of extent belonging to the two works here compared. Hence it follows that the πολλῷ μᾶλλον , much rather, should be understood in the logical sense: much more certainly, and not in the quantitative sense: much more abundantly (as is the opinion of Er., Calv., Rück., Rothe, Hofm., and Dietzs.). Chrysostom, Meyer, and Philippi have been led to the same view as ours. The apostle is not at all concerned to demonstrate that there is more grace in Christ than there was of death in Adam. What he wishes to prove is, that if a slight cause could bring sentence of death on all mankind, this same mankind will experience in its entirety the salutary effect of a much more powerful cause. The idea of superabundant quantity ( more richly) is not in πολλῷ μᾶλλον , as has been thought by so many interpreters, misled by the relation between this adverb and the verb ἐπερίσσευσε , abounded. It is merely indicated as a premiss of the argument in the double subject of the second proposition (the grace of God and the gift of Christ); at the most, a sort of involuntary indication of it may be seen in the meaning of the verb ἐπερίσσευσε , abounded. We have already seen the logical sense of πολλῷ μᾶλλον in Rom 5:9-10 of our chapter. It is found perhaps also in 2Co 3:7 ; 2 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 3:11.
The reasoning is extremely bold; it is as if one were to argue thus: Adam's offence has reached down to me, having had the power of subjecting me to death; how much more certainly will the grace of God and the grace of Christ combined have the power of reaching to me to save me!
A second difference is evidently announced in the first words of Romans 5:16; the end of Rom 5:16 is intended to expound it, and Rom 5:17 to demonstrate it.
Vv. 16. “ And the gift is not as by one that sinned:for the judgment is by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of the offences of many unto justification. ”
Most expositors hold with us that the apostle is here expounding a second contrast between Adam's work and Christ's; only it should be remarked that the form of Rom 5:16 is very different from that of Romans 5:15. We no longer find here the a fortiori argument there indicated by the πολλῷ μᾶλλον , much rather, while, strange to say, this same form of reasoning reappears in Romans 5:17, which is thus presented as a stronger reproduction of the argument of Romans 5:15. This difference between Romans 5:16; Romans 5:15, and this quite peculiar relation between Romans 5:17; Romans 5:15, prevent us from regarding Rom 5:16 as a second argument entirely parallel to that of Romans 5:15, so as then to make Rom 5:17 the conclusion of both. Hofmann is so well aware of this that he refuses to see in the first words of Rom 5:16 the announcement of a second contrast, and has connected them directly with the close of Romans 5:15. In fact, he uniformly supplies in the three propositions of Rom 5:16 the verb and the regimen: abounded unto many, of Romans 5:15: “And the gift did not abound unto the many, as in that case in which the imputation took place through one who had sinned; for judgment abounded from one to many in condemnation, and the gift of grace abounded from one to many in justification.” It is obvious how such an ellipsis thrice repeated burdens and embarrasses the course of the argument. What of truth there is in this view is that the gift mentioned in Rom 5:16 is no other than that referred to in the words of Romans 5:15: ἡ δωρεὰ ἐν χάριτι ..., the gift by grace of..., and that consequently the second contrast, Romans 5:16-17, should be regarded as serving to bring out a particular aspect of the general contrast pointed out in Romans 5:15. The καί , and, at the beginning of the verse is thus equivalent to a sort of nota-bene: “And mark well this circumstance”...An objection might be made to the πολλῷ μᾶλλον , much more certainly, of Romans 5:15. One might say: True, the factors acting on Christ's part (15b) are infinitely more abundant than the weak and solitary factor acting on Adam's part (15a); but, on the other hand, was not the work to be wrought on Christ's part much more considerable than that accomplished in Adam! If the source was richer, the void to be filled was deeper: In Adam a single actual sinner all the rest playing only an unconscious and purely passive part; in Christ, on the contrary, a multitude of sinners to be justified, equally conscious and responsible with the first, having all voluntarily added their own contingent of sins to the original transgression. Undoubtedly, answers the apostle; but in the matter of salvation the part of those interested is also quite different. In the one case they were passively and collectively subjected to the sentence of death; here, we have to do with beings who lay hold individually and personally of the sentence which justifies them. There, a single and solitary condemnation, which embraces them all through the deed of one; here, a justification, collective also, but appropriated by each individually, which is transformed into as many personal justifications as there are believing sinners, and which cannot fail to establish the kingdom of life more firmly still than the kingdom of death was founded on the condemnation of all in Adam. This antithesis established as a fact in Romans 5:16, is demonstrated in Rom 5:17 by an a fortiori argument, entirely similar to that of Romans 5:15.
Nothing more is to be understood in the first proposition than the verb γίνεται , comes about: “And the gift does not come about by one sinner” (as the condemnation had done). Some have supposed a more extensive ellipsis: “The gift did not come about by one ( as the condemnation had done), by one sinner.” But this ellipsis is unnecessary, and even impairs somewhat the meaning of the contrast, for the words: by one who sinned, depend directly on the verb: does not come about. The reading ἁμαρτήματος (“by one sin ”), though supported by the ancient versions, is a correction, the origin of which is easily understood; it is borrowed from the ἐκ πολλῶν παραπτωμάτων which follows, understood in the sense of: of many sins. The idea of one sin seemed to contrast better than the idea of one sinner with the expression thus understood. The contrast which Paul has now in view certainly demands the Received reading. With “ the offence of one,” Romans 5:15, he has contrasted the grace of God and of Jesus Christ in its double fulness. Now, with the one sinner, in the first case, he contrasts the multitude of sinners who are the objects of justification in the second. What a difference between the power of the spark which sets fire to the forest by lighting a withered branch, and the power of the instrument which extinguishes the conflagration at the moment when every tree is on fire, and makes them all live again!
The substantive δώρημα denotes the concrete gift, the blessing bestowed; here it is the gift of justification by Christ, as described Rom 3:21 to Romans 5:11.
The two propositions develop the contrast announced ( for). The term τὸ κρῖμα properly signifies: the judicial act, the sentence pronounced, in opposition to χάρισμα , the act of grace (in the second proposition).
The clause ἐξ ἑνός , of one, indicates the point of departure for this judicial act, the material on which it operated. This one is not neuter (one offence), but masculine, agreeably to the reading ἁμαρτήσαντος : the one who had committed the act of sin, and whose sin had become the object of judgment. It is on the word ἐξ ἑνός that the emphasis lies. Its counterpart in the second proposition is ἐκ πολλῶν παραπτωμάτων , which may be translated either by: of many sins, or by making πολλῶν a pronoun and a complement: of the sins of many. In the former case, each of those numerous offences must be regarded as the summary indication of the fall of a particular individual, in opposition to one sinner. But in the second the contrast is clearer: the plurality of individuals is exactly expressed by the pronoun πολλῶν , of many. Dietzsch denies that this last construction is possible. But it is found very probably in Luke 2:35 ( ἐκ πολλῶν καρδιῶν , of the hearts of many) and 2 Corinthians 1:11.
As the preposition ἐκ relates to the matter of the judgment, εἰς denotes the result in which it issues: “ to condemnation.” The reference is to the sentence of death pronounced on mankind because of one who had sinned; for this one contained in him the entire race.
The antithesis to this κἀτάκριμα , sentence of condemnation, appears in δικαίωμα , which must be translated by sentence of justification. This meaning arises from the contrast itself, as well as from the meaning of the words δικαιοῦν and δικαιοσύνη ( justify, righteousness) throughout this part of the Epistle, and with St. Paul generally. Only the question may be asked, whether the apostle has in view here the justification granted to the sinner at the very hour of his believing, or justification in the absolute sense, as it will be pronounced in the day of judgment ( Rom 2:13 ). Two reasons seem to us to decide in favor of the second alternative 1. The passage, Romans 5:1-11, in which the final sentence of acquittal is represented as the indispensable complement of the righteousness of faith, this becoming eternally valid only by means of the former. 2. Romans 5:17; Romans 5:17, which is connected by for with Romans 5:16, and the second part of which refers to the most distant future ( the reign in life). Hence we must conclude that the term δικαίωμα , sentence of justification, also embraces that supreme sentence of acquittal whereby we shall conclusively escape from wrath ( Rom 5:9-10 ). This parallel between Adam and Christ manifestly assumes the whole doctrine of justification from Romans 3:21, including the final passage on the justification to come, Romans 5:1-11. The absolute meaning which we here give to δικαίωμα , is thus in keeping with the position of the whole passage. Dietzsch is certainly mistaken in applying this word δικαίωμα to the sanctification of the sinner by the Holy Spirit. It is nevertheless true that if we extend the meaning of this term to the final justification, on entering upon glory, it involves the work of sanctification as finished (see on Rom 5:9-10 ). But this does not in the least modify the sense of the word itself ( a justificatory sentence), as appears from the meaning of the word δικαιοῦν and from the context (in contrast to κατάκριμα , a condemnatory sentence).
It is unnecessary to refute the divergent constructions proposed by Rothe and Dietzsch, according to which τὸ μέν and τὸ δέ are taken as the subjects of the two propositions having κρῖμα and χάρισμα either as predicates (Rothe), or in apposition (Dietzsch).
It has often been thought that the emphasis in this verse was on the idea of the contrast between the nature of the two results: condemnation and justification. It is not so. The real contrast indicated by the Greek construction is that between ἐξ ἑνός , one ( who sinned), and ἐκ πολλῶν παραπτωμάτων , the sins of many. There, by a judicial act, condemnation goes forth from one sinner; here, by the act of grace, from the offences of a multitude, there proceeds a justification.
We come now to the most difficult point of the whole passage: the relation of Rom 5:17 to what precedes, and the exposition of the verse itself.
Vv. 17. “ For if by the one man's offence death reigned by this one; much rather they who receive the superabundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by the one, Jesus Christ. ”
The for beginning this verse has been the torture of expositors, for it seems as if it should rather be therefore, since this verse appears to give the conclusion to be drawn from the difference indicated in Romans 5:16. Meyer seeks to get over the difficulty of the for by making it bear on the idea of δικαίωμα , Romans 5:16, and finding in the certainty of the future reign (end of Rom 5:17 ) the joyful confirmation of the grace of justification ( Rom 5:16 ); Philippi almost the same: “The justified shall reign in life ( Rom 5:17 ), which proves that they are really justified ( Rom 5:16 ).” But is it logical to argue from a future and hoped-for event to demonstrate the certainty of a present fact? Is not justification at least as certain as the future reign of the justified? Hofmann here alleges a forced turn in the dialectic. According to him, Rom 5:17 does not prove the fact alleged in Romans 5:16, but the reasoning of Rom 5:17 is intended to demonstrate that the second part of Romans 5:16 (from τὸ μὲν γὰρ ..., for the judgment..., to the end) has really proved the truth of the first ( καὶ οὐχ ὡς ..., and the gift did not come about as by...). The meaning he holds to be: “I have good reason to say that it is not so with the judgment...as with the gift of grace...; for if...( Rom 5:17 ).” Dietzsch rightly answers that the demonstration given in Rom 5:16 would be very weak if it needed to be propped with the complicated reasoning of Romans 5:17. Dietzsch himself, starting from his sense of δικαίωμα , the restoration of holiness, Romans 5:16, thus understands the argument: “This holiness will be really restored in believers; for, according to the divine promises, they are one day to enter into the kingdom of life ( Rom 5:17 ), which cannot take place without holiness.” Everything is erroneous in this explanation 1. The meaning of δικαίωμα ; 2. The intervention of the divine promises, of which there has been no mention in the context; 3. The idea of sanctification, which is out of place in this passage. Rothe has given up in despair the attempt to discover a logical connection between Romans 5:17; Romans 5:16. He has accordingly attempted to refer the for of Rom 5:17 to the argument of Romans 5:15, making Romans 5:16 a sort of parenthesis. There is something seductive about this solution. We have already seen in Rom 5:9-10 of this chapter, two verses which followed one another, both beginning with for, and the second of which was merely the repetition (reinforced with some new elements) of the first, and so its confirmation. It might therefore be supposed that it is the same in this case, only with the difference that Rom 5:16 would be inserted in order to enunciate those new elements which are to play a part in Romans 5:17. So it was that, following the path opened by Rothe, we long flattered ourselves that we had solved the difficulty. Yet we have been obliged to abandon this solution by the following considerations: 1. Can the for of Romans 5:17, after the insertion of a new contrast specially announced, Romans 5:16 a, and expounded, Romans 5:16 b, be purely and simply parallel to the for of Rom 5:15 ? 2. How happens it that in Rom 5:17 there is no further mention of the many, nor consequently of the extent of the two works, but solely of the equality of the effect produced (on the one side a reign of death, on the other a reign in life), and specially, that instead of the past ἐπερίσσευσεν ( Rom 5:15 ), we are all at once transported into the future by the words: they shall reign (end of Rom 5:17 )? Finally and we long held to this idea also the for of Rom 5:17 might be taken to refer to the affirmation (Romans 5:15 a, Romans 5:16 a) of the two differences: “ It is not with the offence as with the gift...(Romans 5:15 a);” “ the gift did not come about...(Romans 5:16 a).” But the second part of Rom 5:16 would thus be sacrificed; now it is too important to be only a parenthesis. We must therefore revert to the attempt of Meyer and Philippi, which consists in connecting the for with Romans 5:16; this is, besides, the only probable supposition; only we must seek to justify, better than they have done, the logical relation established by this for. And that does not seem to us impossible if what we have observed regarding the meaning of δικαίωμα , the sentence of justification, Romans 5:16, be borne in mind. The parallel between Christ and Adam strikes its roots into the whole previous doctrine regarding the righteousness of faith, Rom 3:21 to Romans 5:11; witness the wherefore ( Rom 5:12 ). Now Paul had demonstrated, Romans 5:1-11, that once justified by the death of Christ, all the more may we be certain of being saved and glorified by His life. It is this very idea which forms the basis of the second part of Romans 5:17, which thus contains the paraphrase of the term δικαίωμα , sentence of justification, at the end of Romans 5:16. The relation between Rom 5:16-17 is therefore as follows: Two facts are set forth in Rom 5:16 parallel to one another: one sinner, the object of the act of condemnation; a multitude of sinners, the objects of the act of justification. The reality of the first of these facts was demonstrated by Romans 5:12-14. It remained to demonstrate that of the second. This is the object to which Rom 5:17 is devoted. The mode of reasoning is as follows: The apostle starts (Romans 5:17 a) from the first fact as certain, and by means of it he infers (Romans 5:17 b) the still more certain reality of the second. Rom 5:17 has thus its logical place between the two propositions of Rom 5:16 to prove by the first the truth of the second. Not only so. But in reproducing Romans 5:16 a in the first proposition of Romans 5:17 a, he combines with Romans 5:16 a the contents of the first proposition of Romans 5:15 (15a); and in reproducing, in the conclusion Romans 5:17 b, the second proposition of Romans 5:16 (16b), he combines with it the contents of the second proposition of Romans 5:15 (15b), and that in order to give double force to the a fortiori reasoning whereby from the premiss he reaches the conclusion; in other words, Romans 5:16 a, supported by Romans 5:15 a, serves him as a premiss in Romans 5:17 a to reach the conclusion Romans 5:17 b, containing Romans 5:16 b combined with Romans 5:15 b by a double a fortiori. The meaning of this masterly logic, simpler than would have been thought possible, is as follows: If a weak cause, the single sin (15a) of one sinner (Romans 5:16 a), passively endured, could bring about the death of every man (Romans 5:17 a), much more certainly shall the more powerful cause (Romans 5:16 b), assimilated by each one personally (Romans 5:16 b), produce in him an effect not inferior to the effect produced by the first cause (Romans 5:17 b). If a weak deleterious cause passively endured by me has been able to produce my death, a life-giving cause much more powerful, which I actively appropriate to myself, will far more certainly give me life.
We thus apprehend at the same time the relation between Rom 5:16-17 and Romans 5:15. Rom 5:15 relates to the two circles influenced; they must cover one another perfectly ( the many, of the two sides); for the more powerful cause cannot have extended less widely than the weaker. In Rom 5:16-17 the subject is the result obtained in every individual belonging to the many in the direction either of death or of life. The second of these effects (life) cannot be less real than the first (death), for it has been produced by a cause more powerful and individually appropriated. Romans 5:15: as many individuals; Romans 5:16-17: as much effect produced in each one. Let us now enter upon the detailed study of this verse, in which the apostle has succeeded in combining with the argument which he was following the full riches of the antithesis already contained in Romans 5:15-16.
In the first clause there is a difference of reading. Instead of: by one man's offence, some Greco-Latin copyists have written: by one offence, or again: by the one single offence. This reading, opposed to that of the two other families, and also of the Peshitto, can only be regarded as an erroneous correction. The idea of one (sinner) has been rejected, because it seemed to involve a repetition when taken with the immediately following words: by this one. But it has been overlooked that the terms: by one man's offence, are intended to reproduce the idea of the first proposition of Romans 5:15, as the words: by this one, reproduce the idea of the ἐξ ἑνός , of one, in the first proposition of Romans 5:16. These expressions have something extenuating about them: only one act, only one actor. The apostle means to contrast the weakness of these causes with the greatness of the result: a reign of death established in the world. We see a whole race of slaves with their heads passively bent, through the solitary deed of one, under the pitiless sceptre of death. The words: by one, are added as by an after-thought, in order to emphasize the passivity of the individuals subjected to this order of things. The apostle does not here mention, as in Romans 5:15, the many, in opposition to this one. He has not in view the extent of the reign of death, but the part played by the individuals in relation to this tragical situation. He sees them all as it were absorbed in the one being who has acted for all.
The expression: death reigned, denotes a firmly established order of things against which, for individuals, there is no possibility of resistance. Nothing more desperate in appearance than this great historical fact of the reign of death, and yet it is this very fact which becomes in the eyes of the apostle a principle of the most powerful encouragement and the most glorious hope. For this terrible reign of death, established on the weak foundation of a single sin and a single sinner, may serve as a measure to establish the greater certainty of the reign of life which will come to light among the justified by the freely accepted gift of God. Such is the idea of the second part of the verse. Instead of this impersonal multitude involved in the act, and thereby in the condemnation of a single sinner, Paul contemplates a plurality of distinct individuals appropriating to themselves, consciously and freely, the fulness of the gift of righteousness; and he asks himself, with a tone of triumph, whether a glorious reign of life will not spring up under similar conditions more certainly still than the sinister reign of death established itself on the weak foundation which he has just mentioned.
The salient expression in this second part of the verse is the οἱ λαμβάνοντες , they who receive (literally, the receivers or accepters). The verb λαμβάνειν may signify to take, to lay hold of, or again: to receive (more or less passively). As it here evidently denotes the act of faith, it expresses the idea of a taking in possession resting on a free acceptance (see on Rom 1:17 ). The form of the present participle is variously explained. According to Philippi, it denotes the continuousness of the acceptance of salvation by believers during the whole period of grace. Meyer and others take the present as referring to the epoch now in progress, as the intermediate station between the natural order of things and the future kingdom. But what have these two ideas to do with Paul's intention in the context? It seems to me that this present is rather that of moral condition relatively to the state which ought logically to arise from it. Whoever joins the number of those accepters, shall reign in life.
The definite article οἱ , the, presents all these accepters as distinct persons, individually capable of accepting or rejecting what must decide their lot. It is no longer that undistinguished mass which had disobeyed and perished in one. Here we meet again those πολλοί , the many sinners, mentioned in Romans 5:16, who, under the burden of their personal offences, have accepted for themselves the act of grace, and shall become individually the objects of the δικαίωμα , the sentence of justification. It is to be remarked that even in Rom 5:16 the article has ceased to be prefixed to the word πολλῶν ( many; not “ the many”), and that Paul does not even speak of πολλοί , many. The accepters are not the totality of men condemned to die; Paul does not even say that they are necessarily numerous. His thought here is arrested by each of them, whatever shall be their number. In this fact, taken by itself, of individual acceptance, on the side of grace there is a complete difference of position as compared with the passivity of the individuals on the opposite side. It is a first difference fitted to establish an a fortiori conclusion. But there is another fact, which combines with it the infinitely greater power of the cause, on the same side. The apostle had already remarked it in Romans 5:15: the grace of God, and the gift of Jesus Christ. It is easy to see the connection of the expressions used with those of 15b: And first: τὴν περισσείαν , the abundance, which reproduces the idea of the verb ἐπερίσσευσε , hath abounded; then τῆς χάριτος , of the grace, which goes back upon the double grace of God and of the one man Jesus Christ; finally, the term δωρεά , the gift, which appears in both verses. The complement τῆς δικαιοσύνης , of righteousness, is alone added here, because the subject in question is the gift accepted by faith and transformed into individual righteousness. The destination ( Rom 5:15 ) has become possession. Thus the thought of the apostle is clear: as the term οἱ λαμβάνοντες , the receivers, forms an antithesis to διὰ τοῦ ἑνός , by this one, so the expressions: the abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, form an antithesis to the: by the offence of one. Not only, then, is there on this side individual appropriation ( Rom 5:16 ), but this appropriation rests on a more powerful cause ( Rom 5:15 ).
Thus is seen the justice of the observation: that in this Rom 5:17 there are designedly combined to establish a double a fortiori, the two previously described contrasts: “If a weak objective cause, without personal appropriation on the part of those interested, has been able to establish a reign of death, with stronger reason should it be certain that a still more powerful objective cause, and one individually appropriated, will be capable of establishing a glorious reign of life.” Περισσεία : abundance, or more strictly superabundance, so that the superfluity flows over; χάριτος , of grace, applies at one and the same time, according to Romans 5:15, to the love of God and to that of Jesus Christ. The gift of righteousness is that justification objectively realized in Christ for the many (mankind), and apprehended by the faith of every receiver. When the empty vessel of the human heart has once become filled by faith with this fulness of grace and righteousness, the sinner is raised to the place of a king in life. This last expression also forms an antithesis to an analogous one in the first proposition: death reigned. But the apostle has too lively a conviction of spiritual realities to say here: life shall reign. Death reigns; it is a tyrant. But life does not reign; it has not subjects; it makes kings. Besides Paul transforms his construction, as he had already done with a similar intention in Romans 5:15. This change admirably suits the thought of the context. Instead of the sombre state of things which bears sway as a reign of death, it is here the individuals themselves who, after having personally appropriated righteousness, reign personally in the luminous domain of life. Comp. on this reign what Paul said, Romans 4:13, of the inheritance of the world; then the καυχώμενοι , glorying, Romans 5:11; finally, Romans 8:17.
The clause ἐν ζωῇ , in life, does not denote a period, as when we say: in eternal life. If the word life were taken in this sense, it would undoubtedly be defined by the article τῇ . The preposition ἐν must not be taken in the instrumental sense, as in Romans 5:10 ( by life). Contrasted as it is to this: reign of death, the expression denotes the mode or nature of the reign of believers. A new, holy, inexhaustible, and victorious vitality will pervade those receivers of righteousness, and make them so many kings. If the collective condemnation could make each of them a subject of death, the conclusion therefrom should be that their individual justification will make each of them a king in life.
The meaning of πολλῷ μᾶλλον , much more, is, as in Romans 5:15, purely logical: much more certainly. Unquestionably there is no doubt that there is a greater abundance of life in Christ than there was of death-power in Adam. But this is not what the apostle says here. He is not aiming to establish either a contrast of quality (between life and death) or a contrast of quantity ( more of life than of death). It is a higher degree of certainty which he enunciates and demonstrates. Justified, we shall reign still more certainly in Christ, than as condemned we are dead in Adam. Our future glory is more certain even than our death; for a more powerful cause, and one individually assimilated, will make us live still more certainly than the weak unappropriated cause could make us die.
There remains a last word which, put at the close of this rich and complicated period, has peculiar solemnity: by the one, Jesus Christ. Τοῦ ἑνός , the one, is a pronoun, and not an adjective: the only one, opposed to the other only one. The name Jesus Christ is in apposition: “by the one who is Jesus Christ.” These final words remind us that He has been the sole instrument of the divine love, and that if the receivers have a righteousness to appropriate, it is solely that which He has acquired for them.
Again, at this point ( Rom 5:15-16 ) the reasoning of the apostle is amazingly bold. It is as if a justified sinner dared to find in the very power of the miserable lust which dragged him into evil, the irrefragable proof of the power which will more certainly still be exercised over him by the grace of God and of Jesus Christ, to save him and raise him to the throne.
Let us sum up this passage, unique as it is of its kind.
Vv. 15 demonstrates the universal destination of justification in Christ. The argument runs thus: If a cause so weak as Adam's single offence could influence a circle so vast as that of the entire multitude of mankind, with greater reason must a far richer cause (the double grace of God and of Jesus Christ) extend its action over this same multitude.
It is the universalism of the gospel, the εἰς πάντας , for all..., of Romans 3:22, proved by the very universality of death.
Vv. 16 and 17 demonstrate the full reality and quickening efficacy of the personal application which every beliver makes of the justification obtained by Christ. Affirmed in Romans 5:16, this individual efficacy is proved in Romans 5:17: One single agent, serving as the instrument of a very weak cause, could bring about the death of so many individuals who had not personally taken part in his act. Consequently, and much more certainly, will each of those same individuals, by personally appropriating a force far superior in action to the preceding, become thereby a possessor of life.
Here is the individualism of the gospel, the ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας , upon all that believe, of Romans 3:22, fully established by the very fact of their individual death in Adam.
We have thus reached the complete demonstration of these two words πάντι and τῷ ( πιστεύοντι ), all and every (believer), which are the essential characteristics of Paul's gospel, according to Romans 1:16.
As the argument of Rom 5:12-14 was a necessary logical premiss to that of Romans 5:15-17, the latter was a no less indispensable premiss for the conclusion finally drawn by the apostle, Romans 5:18-19. In fact to be entitled to affirm, as he does in these two verses, the universality of justification in Christ as the counterpart of the universality of death in Adam, he must prove, first, that all men died in Adam and not through their own deed such are the contents of Romans 5:12-14; then, that from this universal and individual death in Adam there followed a fortiori the certainty of the universal destination, and of the individual application of justification in Christ such are the contents of Romans 5:15-17. It remains only to draw this conclusion: all (as to destination) and each (by faith) are justified in Christ ( Rom 5:18 ); this conclusion is at the same time the second and long-delayed part of the comparison begun in Romans 5:12. The apostle could not state it till he had logically acquired the right to do so.
Vv. 18, 19. “ So then as by one offence there was condemnation for all men; so also by one act of justification there was for all men justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience the many were constituted sinners; so by the obedience of one shall the many be constituted righteous. ”
The result on the side of righteousness is at least equal to that which history attests on the side of condemnation: the apostle could make this affirmation after the previous demonstration, and at length close the parallel opened at Romans 5:12.
The ἄρα , in consequence, introduces this declaration as a conclusion from the argument which precedes, and the οὐν , therefore, takes up the thread of the sentence broken since Romans 5:12. These two particles combined thus exhaust the logical connection of this verse with all that prepared for it.
The first proposition is the summary reproduction of Romans 5:12. The understood verb is ἀπέβη , issued, here taken in an impersonal sense ( there came about, res cessit, Mey.). Philippi takes ἕνος as a masculine pronoun: “by one's offence.” But in that case we must take the ἕνος of the second proposition in the same sense, which, as we shall see, is impossible.
The κατάκριμα , sentence of condemnation, denotes the condemnation to death which has overtaken mankind, the: “Thou art dust, and to dust shalt thou return.” There is no reference here to eternal condemnation (the ἀπώλεια ).
The particles οὕτω and καί , so and also, refer, the one to the moral analogy of the two facts, the other, simply to the repetition of the two similar facts. Many commentators apply the expression: by one act of righteousness, δἰ ἕνος δικαιώματος , to the holy life of Jesus, which was throughout, as it were, one great act of righteousness, or to His expiatory death, as the culminating point of that perfect life. The meaning of the Greek term, which Aristotle (Nicom. Rom 5:10 ) defines: ἐπανόρθωμα τοῦ ἀδικήματος , a reparation of injury, might suit either the one or the other of these senses. They are, however, both inadmissible for the following reasons: 1. It is not natural to depart from the meaning the word has in Romans 5:16; now there it forms (in a rigorously symmetrical proposition) the antithesis of κατάκριμα , sentence of condemnation; this positively determines its meaning: sentence of justification. 2. If this term be applied to the holy life or expiatory death of Jesus Christ, there arises a complete tautology with the second proposition of Romans 5:19, where ὑπακοή , obedience, has the very meaning which is here given to δικαίωμα . And yet the for, which connects the two verses, implies a logical gradation from the one to the other. 3. In Paul's terminology it is God and not Jesus Christ who is the justifier, Romans 8:33 ( Θεὸς ὁ δικαιῶν ). By ἓν δικαίωμα we must therefore understand a divine act. It is therefore the one collective sentence of justification, which in consequence of the death of Christ has been pronounced in favor of all sinners, of which, as we have seen, Romans 4:25, the resurrection of Jesus was at once the effect and proof. It is ever this same divine declaration which takes effect in the case of every sinner as he believes. If such is the meaning of the word δικαίωμα , the ἕνος is obviously an adjective and not a pronoun: “by one act of justification.”
The verb to be understood is neither in the present nor the future: there is, or there will be. For the matter in question is an accomplished fact. It is therefore the past: there was, as in the first member.
The sentence already passed is destined for all men with a view to their personal justification. It is this destination which is expressed by the εἰς δικαίωσιν ζωῆς , to justification of life, exactly like the εἰς πίστιν , Romans 1:17, and the εἰς πάντας ( for all), Romans 3:22. The apostle does not say that all shall be individually justified; but he declares that, in virtue of the one grand sentence which has been passed, all may be so, on condition of faith. The strongly active sense of the word δικαίωσις (the act of justifying) fits it peculiarly to denote the individual sentence by which the collective justification is applied to each believer.
The genitive ζωῆς is the genitive of effect: “the justification which produces life.” By this word life Paul here denotes above all spiritual life (Romans 6:4; Romans 6:11; Rom 6:23 ), the re-establishing of holiness; then, in the end, the restoration and glorification of the body itself ( Rom 8:11 ). The word thus hints beforehand the entire contents of the following part (chap. 6-8).
Vv. 19. At the first glance this verse seems to be a mere useless repetition of the foregoing. Looking at it closely, we see that, as the γάρ , for, indicates, it is meant to state the moral cause which gives rise to the two facts put parallel to one another in Romans 5:18. In fact, Romans 5:19 a serves to explain 18a, and 19b to explain 18b. This logical relation accounts for two modifications, apparently accidental, which are introduced into the parallel expressions in Romans 5:19. For the simple ὡς , as, of Romans 5:18, there is substituted here ὥσπερ , which is more emphatic and precise, for precisely as. For the new contrast is meant to give the key to the preceding one. Then, for the antithesis of one offence, of one sentence of justification, to the notion of universality, ( all), Romans 5:18, there is substituted the antithesis between εἷς and οἱ πολλοί , one and the many. Why the reappearance of this expression used in Romans 5:15, but abandoned since Rom 5:16-17 ? It is because the apostle would here ascend from historical effects to moral causes or hidden principles. Two historical facts sway the life of mankind ( Rom 5:18 ): the condemnation which kills it, and the justification which quickens it. These two great facts rest on two individual moral acts: an act of disobedience, and an act of obedience. Now in both cases the extension to all of the effect produced can be explained only on one condition: the possibility, namely, of the action of one on many. This second antithesis: one and many, belongs therefore to the exposition of the cause ( Rom 5:19 ), as the first: one act and all, belong to the exposition of the historical fact ( Rom 5:18 ). Hence the reason why in Romans 5:15, where he had to do with the antithesis between the two causes, the apostle had dropped the pronoun πάντες , all, used in Romans 5:12, to apply the form εἷς and οἱ πολλοί , one and the many, and why he reverts to it here, where he is ascending from the effect to the cause. New proofs of the scrupulous care with which the apostle watched over the slightest details of his writings.
This word παρακοή , disobedience, denotes the moral act which provoked the sentence of condemnation (Romans 5:18 a). There had been in the case of Adam ἀκοή , hearing; a positive prohibition had sounded in his ears. But this prohibition had been for him as it were null and non-existent ( παρακοή ).
The verb κατεστάθησαν , which we have translated literally by were constituted, signifies, when it is applied to an office: to be established in it (Luke 12:14; Acts 7:10; Acts 7:27; and even Heb 5:1 ); but when it is applied, as here, to a moral state, the question arises whether it is to be taken in the sense of being regarded and treated as such, or being rendered such. The second meaning, if I am not mistaken, is the most common in classic Greek: τινὰ εἰς ἀπορίαν καθιστάναι , to put one into a state of embarrassment; κλαίοντα καταστῆσαί τινα , to make one weep, etc. In the two principal examples taken from the New Testament there is room for some hesitation; James 4:4: “Whosoever will be a friend of the world is made the enemy of God,” may signify: “ is proved, or is rendered the enemy”...The last sense is the more natural. In 2 Peter 1:8: “Such virtues will make you neither barren nor unfruitful,” the second meaning is the more probable. It is also the meaning which the context appears to me to demand here. The apostle is explaining the moral cause of the fact stated 18a. The meaning: to be regarded, or treated as..., will only yield a tautology with the fact to be explained. The real gradation from the one verse to the other is as follows: “They were treated as sinners (by the sentence of death) ( Rom 5:18 ); for they were really made sinners in Adam ( Rom 5:19 ).” The last words of Rom 5:12 already involved the same idea. “They all participated mysteriously in the offence ( ἐφ᾿ ᾧ πάντες ἥμαρτον );” the first fact whence there resulted the inclination to sin affirmed in our Romans 5:19. Moreover, the διά construed with the genitive ( by) would suffice to demonstrate the effective sense of the καθιστάναι , to constitute, in Romans 5:19. With the other sense, the διά with the accusative ( on account of) would have been more suitable.
With the disobedience of one there is contrasted the obedience of one. Some understand thereby the expiatory sacrifice of Jesus. But as in the Levitical cultus the victim required to be witbout blemish, so in the true expiatory sacrifice the victim required to be without sin. It is impossible, therefore, to isolate the death of Christ here from His holy life; and the term obedience embraces both; comp. Philippians 2:8.
If the word δίκαιοι , righteous, denoted here a moral state, like the ἁμαρτωλοί , sinners, in the first proposition, the same question would be raised here as to the meaning of καθίστασθαι . But if the word righteous is applied, as the sense of this whole part requires, to imputed righteousness, then the verb naturally takes the meaning of being constituted righteous, though there would be nothing to hinder us from translating it, as in the first member, by: being rendered righteous. For as the case in question is a state obtained in a declaratory way, being rendered amounts to the same thing as being constituted. The future: will be rendered, or constituted righteous, is referred by some to the successive justification of those sinners who during the present economy come to faith; by others, to the final declaration of the judgment day. In the passages 16b and 17b the apostle transported himself, as we have seen, to the close of the economy of probation. This connection decides in favor of the second meaning. The time in question is that described Romans 5:9-11. If, then, the idea of moral righteousness is not that of this word righteous, as Dietzsch and others will have it, the fact of sanctification is nevertheless involved in the supreme absolution to which the second part of this verse refers.
The expression: the many, or the multitude, cannot have the same extension in the second member as in the first. For it is not here as in Romans 5:15, where the question was only of the destination of righteousness. This passage refers, as is proved by the future: will be made righteous, to the effectual application. Now, nowhere does St. Paul teach universal salvation. There are even passages in his writings which seem expressly to exclude it; for example, 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Philippians 3:19. On the other hand, the pronoun the many cannot denote a simple plurality (the majority); for, as we have seen in Romans 5:15; Romans 5:19 a, the article οἱ , the, implies a totality. The totality must therefore be restricted to those whom, Romans 5:17, Paul called the accepters, οἱ λαμβάνοντες , and of whom he said: they shall reign in life. This future: shall reign, is in close connection with the future: will be made, in our verse; for the declaration of righteousness ( Rom 5:19 ) is the condition of reigning in life ( Rom 5:17 ).
We cannot hold, with the school of Baur, that this parallel between Adam and Christ was inspired by a polemical intention in opposition to a legal Jewish-Christianity. But it is nevertheless evident that in so vast a survey of the principal phases of the religious development of mankind, a place, however small, could not fail to be granted to the Mosaic institution. The part of the law is therefore briefly indicated Romans 5:20; Rom 5:21 is the general conclusion.
Vv. 20, 21. “ Now the law was added, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace superabounded more: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. ” Νόμος (the) law, undoubtedly denotes the Mosaic law; but as positive law in general (regard being had to the absence of the article), we might almost translate: a law.
The Jews attributed a particularly important part to this institution in the history of mankind; they claim to make it the means of education and salvation of the whole world ( Rom 2:17-20 ). Paul shows that it plays only a secondary part. It was added during the era of sin and death to prepare for the era of justification and life. It is from want of a more exactly corresponding term that we translate παρεισῆλθεν by was added. It should be: came alongside of. Compounded of the word εἰσέρχεσθαι , to enter, to appear on the stage ( Rom 5:12 ), and the preposition παρά , by the side of, it applies to an actor who does not occupy the front of the stage, and who appears there only to play an accessory part. It is a mistake, therefore, to ascribe to this verb the notion attached to it by the Vulgate, when it translates subintravit, came in, as it were stealthily, a meaning which, besides, is incompatible with the solemn promulgation of the law. Calvin finds in this verb the notion of an intermediate which took its place between Adam and Christ, and Chrysostom, that of a passing appearance. But παρά signifies neither between nor in passing. The true meaning of the word is: by the side of, and this is also the meaning which best suits the passage. The Mosaic economy was, as it were, a side economy, an institution parallel to the economy of sin; as Philippi says, “it is a particular economy by the side of the great general economy.” It might be compared to a canal flowing by the side of the river which feeds it.
And why this special economy? That the offence might abound. If, instead of the word παράπτωμα , offence, fall, the apostle had said παράβασις , transgression, the thought would be easily understood. For he has himself said ( Rom 4:15 ): “Where no law is, there is no transgression;” that is to say, in that case sin does not present itself as the violation of a positive command. The sense would consequently be this: The law was given to Israel that in this particular field of fallen humanity sin might take a graver and more pronounced character; that of transgression, and so manifest completely its malign nature; a process which should be the means of its cure. But this sense would require the use of the term παράβασις ( transgression). The term chosen: παράπτωμα , offence, has a wider meaning (see on Rom 5:15 ). The word, indeed, denotes every particular act of sin committed under the law or without the law. This meaning is, on the other hand, more restricted than that of the word ἁμαρτια , sin, which comprehends, besides, the external acts, the corrupt inward disposition. The apostle therefore did not mean to say that the law was given to increase sin itself. Not only would the word ἁμαρτία have been required in this sense, but this thought would also be incompatible with divine holiness. Neither do I think the expression can be explained exactly by the passage, Romans 7:10-13, which refers to the use made of the law by sin; while Paul is here speaking of its providential object. The meaning rather is: that the law by multiplying prescriptions also gives rise to much more frequent occasions of offence. Now, each of these particular offences requiring to be expiated either by a sacrifice or a penalty, human guilt is thus more clearly manifested, and condemnation (apart from the intervention of grace) better founded. Man does not thereby necessarily become worse than he was; he only shows what he is already. Yet, if we went no further, we should still fail to apprehend the full thought of the apostle. Throughout the whole of this passage (Romans 5:15; Rom 5:17-18 ) the term τὸ παράπτωμα , the offence, has a sort of technical meaning: the offence of Adam. Is it not natural to take the word here in this definite acceptation? The meaning is therefore as follows: By the law it has come about that the offence of the first man has multiplied, or in a sense reproduced itself among his descendants in a multitude of particular acts of sin, like a seed which reappears in a harvest of fruits like itself. Those acts of sin are the offences of many, spoken of in Romans 5:16, and which are the object of individual justification. And the end of the law in making the manifestation of sin abound in Israel in this concrete form was to prove the inward malady, and to pave the way for its cure. How? The sequel will explain.
In connection with what precedes, the οὗ ( δέ ) ( but) where, cannot have the general meaning of wherever..., as if the saying which follows were a maxim of universal application. The connection between the first and second part of the verse requires that the word where be taken in a strictly local and limited sense: where, that is to say, in the domain where the law has done its work, and made the offence abound in Israel. Against this view, Meyer urges the general character of the whole passage, and especially that of Romans 5:21, and, like Schott and many others, he refers the words: where..., to the whole world. This objection ignores the fact stated in Romans 5:21, that the experiment made in Israel was intended to profit the whole world. As to the temporal meaning given to the word where by Grotius, De Wette, etc., at the time when, it would suit the idea perhaps. But this use of οὗ is without example in the New Testament, and cannot even be demonstrated with certainty in the classics ( ἀφ᾿ οὗ is different). The sense is therefore that given by Abélard in the words: in eodem populo quo...
As the law gave more frequent occasion in Israel of proving individual guiltiness, by that very means it gave occasion to grace to manifest itself in a manner more abundant and extraordinary ( Rom 2:4 ). Among the manifestations of mercy referred to by these last words of our verse: grace superabounded, we cannot but suppose that the apostle places foremost the great expiatory act on which all the sins of Israel converged ( Heb 9:15 ). As in the expression: sin abounded, he naturally thinks of the greatest crime of the Jewish people, that in which was concentrated their whole spirit of revolt, the murder of their Messiah, their deicide, the catastrophe of their history; so in the following words there is presented to the rapt view of the apostle the advantage which divine mercy has taken of this crime, by making it immediately the instrument of salvation for Israel themselves and all mankind. The word where might thus receive a yet stricter application than that which we have been giving to it till now. Golgotha, that theatre where human sin displayed itself as nowhere else, was at the same time the place of the most extraordinary manifestation of divine grace. The term ὑπερεπερίσσευσε , superabounded over, is explained by Hofmann in the sense of: grace abounded beyond itself; it, as it were, surpassed itself. This meaning is far-fetched. It would be better to refer the ὑπέρ , over, to the sin which was, as it were, submerged under this flood of pardon. But if Paul had meant to state this relation, he would certainly have repeated the same verb as he had just used in speaking of sin. It seems most natural to me to take this ὑπέρ , over, as expressing the superlative of the verbal idea: Grace overflowed beyond all measure, to infinity. Philippi accurately observes that πλέον in πλεονάζειν is a comparative ( the more): while ὑπέρ (in ὑπερπερισσεύειν ) expresses not only a more, but a superlative of abundance.
Vv. 21. This verse declares the universal end of this divine dispensation which seemed at first to concern only Israel. Paul thus returns to the general idea of the entire passage. The that, as well as perhaps the ὑπέρ in the verb of the preceding sentence, implies that what was passing in Israel contemplated the establishment of a reign of grace capable of equalling and surpassing in mankind generally the reign of sin founded in Adam. This is what the legal dispensation could never effect. Far from bringing into the world the grace of justification, the law taken in itself made the offence and condemnation abound. The passage, Galatians 3:13-14, is also intended to point out the relation between the curse of the Jewish law, borne by the Messiah, and the gift of grace made to the Gentiles. This superabounding of pardon brought to bear on this superabounding of sin in the midst of the Jewish people, had therefore for its end ( ἵνα , that) to display grace in such a way as to assure its triumph over the reign of sin throughout the whole earth, and to replace one economy by another. ῞Ωσπερ , absolutely as. The work of grace must not remain, either in extent or efficacy, behind that of sin.
The words ἐν τῷ θανάτῳ , in death, remind us that the reign of sin is present; it manifests itself, wraps, as it were, and embodies itself in the palpable fact of death. The meaning: by death, would not give any clear idea. Far from sin reigning by death, it is death, on the contrary, which reigns by sin.
The antithesis to the words in death is distributed between the two terms: through righteousness, and to life. The first has no reference whatever, as one whole class of exegetes would have it, to moral righteousness; for in this case its meaning would trench upon that of the following term. The word denotes, as in this whole part, of which it contains the summary, the righteousness freely granted by God to faith. Hence the apostle says: “that grace may reign through righteousness.” It is in fact by free justification that grace establishes its reign.
The end of justification is life; εἰς , unto, is opposed to “ in death,” as the future is to the present. But this word eternal life does not refer merely to future glory. It comprehends the holiness which from this time forward should flow from the state of justification (comp. Romans 6:4; Romans 6:11; Rom 6:23 ). If the word through righteousness sums up the whole part of the Epistle now finished, the words: unto eternal life, are the theme of the whole part which is now to begin (vi-viii).
The last words: by Jesus Christ our Lord, are the final echo of the comparison which formed the subject of this passage. We understand the object of this piece: By the collective and individual fact of death in one, Paul meant to demonstrate the reality of universal and individual justification in one universal as to destination, individual through its application to each believer. And now so this last word seems to say
Adam has passed away; Christ alone remains.
Adam and Christ.
It is to be borne in mind, if we are not to ascribe to the apostle ideas which nothing in the doctrine of this passage justifies, that the consequences which he deduces from our solidarity with Adam belong to a wholly different sphere from those which flow, according to him, from our solidarity with Christ. We are bound to Adam by the fact of birth. Every man appears here below in some sort as a fraction of that first man in whom the entire species was personified. Adam, to use the expression of the jurist Stahl, is “ the substance of natural humanity;” and as the birth by which we emanate from him is a fact outside of consciousness, and independent of our personal will, all that passes in the domain of this natural existence can have no other than an educational, provisional, and temporary character. So, too, the death of which St. Paul speaks in this whole passage is, as we have seen, not eternal damnation, but death in the ordinary sense of the word. Sin itself, and the proclivity to evil which attached to us as children of Adam, as well as the individual faults which we may commit in this state, place us no doubt in a critical position, but are not yet the cause of final perdition. These facts only constitute that imperative need of salvation which is inherent in every human soul, and to anticipate which divine grace advances with love. But on reaching the threshold of this superior domain, we find ourselves face to face with a new and wholly different solidarity, which is offered to us in Christ. It is not contracted by a natural and unconscious bond, but by the free and deliberate act of faith. And it is here only, on the threshold of the domain of this new life, that the questions relative to the eternal lot of the individual are raised and decided. To use again the words of the writer whom we just quoted: “Christ is the divine idea of humanity;” He is this idea perfectly realized. The first humanity created in Adam, with the characteristic of freedom of choice, was only the outline of humanity as finally purposed by God, the characteristic of which, as of God Himself, is holiness. The man who by faith draws his righteousness and life from the new Head of humanity is gradually raised to His level, or, as St. Paul says, to His perfect stature; this is life eternal. But the man who refuses to contract this bond of solidarity with the second Adam, remains for that very reason in his corrupt nature: he becomes answerable for it because he has refused to exchange it for the new one which was offered him, while he is at the same time responsible for the voluntary transgressions added by him to that of his first father; and, corrupting himself more and more by his lusts, he moves onward through his own fault to eternal perdition, to the second death.
We have reached the close of the fundamental part of the treatise which forms the body of the Epistle. In the first section Paul had demonstrated universal condemnation. In the second, he had expounded universal justification obtained by Christ and offered to faith. The third section has furnished the demonstration of the fact of the condemnation of all in one, rendered indubitable by the reign of death, and proceeding, in the way of an a fortiori argument, to establish the fact of the justification of all in one. The question now arises, whether the mode of justification thus expounded and demonstrated can secure the moral renewal of mankind, and explain the theocratic history of which it is the consummation. Such is the subject of the two following parts.
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Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Romans 5". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter