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Bible Commentaries
Romans 5

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-21

Romans 5:1 . Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God. Faith in the atonement removes the guilt of sin, and makes us heirs of all the promised righteousness of God; the prodigals are brought home to their Father’s house with joy. Justification is never alone; all the graces follow in clusters, with privileges of the highest order. The apostle, still keeping the jews in his eye, seems to ask the grand question; What need then for christians so justified and ennobled to be circumcised, and keep the ceremonial law? They have peace which surpasses knowledge. Philippians 4:7.

Romans 5:3 . We glory in tribulations also, as did Habakkuk the prophet, who would rejoice though the figtree did not blossom, and though the army of the Chaldeans devoured the land. Our Saviour also commands us to rejoice in suffering for righteousness sake, knowing that great will be our reward in heaven. Matthew 5:12. To glory in the cross is the highest state of divine attainments. The exercises of faith strengthen us in all the active and passive graces of the Holy Spirit. Patience worketh experience, and experience hope, for he who has delivered us in six troubles, will also deliver us in the seventh.

Romans 5:5 . Because the love of God is shed abroad in our heart; the inestimable love of God in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ. Then it is not a mere warmth of the passions and affections, not a mere philosophical flame; it is the love which gave the Son to die for us, as in the eighth verse. “God commendeth his love towards us,” brightened and enhanced by this act of unmerited grace and mercy, that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly.” It is a divine emanation, streaming down into the soul of the believer. It is the Sun of righteousness, the Lord of glory shining into the heart, and healing all the desolations of winter. It revives the torpid to heavenly life, as languid nature is revived by the solar rays. It converts men into angels, as one of the fathers has said; it makes sinners the children of God, the brothers of Christ, and heirs together with him.

In this precious text, the expressions claim a full attention.

(1) The grace itself, the love of God.

(2) Its manifestation. It is shed abroad in the dark dungeon of the heart, restoring the desecrated ruin, again to become the temple of the living God.

(3) The agent, it is shed abroad in our hearts “by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.”

Hence follow the joyful songs so often sung by the saints. Psalms 40:2; Psalms 103:3-5. Isaiah 12:1-3. Avaunt then, ye Jortins, ye Sternes, who sneer at “hearing a voice, and having converse with God;” who mock at the in- comings, the out-goings, and in-dwellings of the holy and blessed Spirit. Your poor dry philosophy is not like David’s lovingkindness of God, which is better than life. The soul of the prophet was satisfied as with marrow and fatness, when he remembered the Lord on his bed, and meditated on his statutes in the night watches. Psalms 63:3; Psalms 63:5. It is,

What nothing earthly gives, or can destroy,

The soul’s calm sunshine, and the heart-felt joy. POPE.

Romans 5:7 . For a good man some would even dare to die. Clio is represented in battle as taking the blow aimed at the head of Alexander the great, when he stopped Xerxes’s whole army at the pass of Thermopylæ. Leonides died bravely for his country. But who would die merely for a saint? Much less, who would die for an enemy? Oh the unutterable love of God to fallen man.

Romans 5:12 . By one man sin entered into the world. In Tirinus, the learned jesuit, I find a luminous note on original sin, a note sanctioned by ancient councils of the church. After comprising sin and death, and all other punishments under one head, the sin of Adam, he adds, Sed per ipsum in reliquos omnes homines, ejus filios, pertransit; non sola imitatione (as the Pelagians contend) sed vera propagatione; nam peccante Adamo, qui omnium parens et princeps erat, in eo omnes simul pecaverunt, quia omnium voluntates et consensus erant collocate in voluntate unius Adami, ut fusè docent scholastici, et ss. patres, tam Græci tam Latini. That is, the sin of Adam is transmitted through him into the whole human kind. Being his children, they do not sin by imitation alone, as the Pelagians contend, but by real propagation; for Adam sinning, who was the parent and prince or all, in him all sinned together, because all their wills and consent were collocated in the one will of Adam, as divines and the holy fathers, both Greek and Latin, teach at large.

Romans 5:14 . Death reigned from Adam to Moses, though no man had sinned as he sinned, being the fœderal head, and having no inward temptations to sin. But sin is not imputed where there is no law, which secures the salvation of infants, who have no law. Therefore death reigns for Adam’s sin, but is often hastened by our own sin.

Romans 5:15 . Not as the offence, so also is the free gift of righteousness. In every view, as Paul elsewhere says, the condition of man is bettered by the mediation of Christ. He has higher glory, a better paradise, and a more blessed hope than Adam lost. And, as sin and death came on all, the free gift comes with more abundant grace on every believer.

Romans 5:19 . By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners the family which cannot be counted. The contrast from the twelfth verse is a masterpiece of argumentation. The apostle keeps close to the grand chain of cause and consequence, that as sin, misery, and death have devolved alike on jew and gentile, it is the foulest injustice in the jews to deny the promised mercy of the covenant to the gentile world. The Father says to the Messiah, when deploring the obduration of the jews, “I will also give thee for a light to the gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6. The christian fathers in their books against the jews cite numerous prophecies to the same effect. This idea, that God is the God of the gentiles, as well as of the jews, is the key to the sense, and the apostle resumes it in full, in Romans 8:19. The leaves of the tree of life are all medicinal, for the healing of the nations. Revelation 22:2. Ezekiel 47:12.

Romans 5:20 . The law entered that the offence might abound. The law illustrates the plenitude of the obedience we owe to God, and by consequence demonstrates the shame, the baseness, and turpitude of sin, as reflected in that celestial mirror. There only can the real contrast between sin and holiness, love and hatred be seen.


After the long statement of justification, we come now to its fruits. These are as follow

(1) Peace with God. The sinner after trembling long under the thunders of Sinai, finds the smiles of a reconciled God to cheer his troubled mind. Christ having reconciled all things to himself, pours into the conscience of the justified a heavenly serenity which passeth all understanding. God having freely forgiven the sinner, he is, by a sort of pleasing reluctance, obliged to forgive himself. His darkness and guilt being removed, the heavens and the earth seem to look more gay, and he wishes all the world to taste with him the joys of remission.

(2) The justified soul has access by faith into all the grace and privileges of the new covenant, in which the christian stands. He is adopted into the heavenly family, he receives the Spirit in all his sanctifying comforts of grace, and he calls God his Father by a reaction of the same Spirit which calls him a son.

(3) From the arabon, the earnest, and firstfruits of the Spirit, he makes a transition to the happiness of heaven, and rejoices in hope of the glory of God. No man can form a better idea of the pleasures at God’s right hand, than he whose soul is unspeakably happy in the Lord.

(4) He who once was enraged at trials and evils, now glories in tribulation, because he believes that they come in the providence of God, and that they shall all work together for his good. This proves beyond all arguments that his conversion is genuine, for nature could never do this; it is the love of God shed abroad in his heart, which enables him to glory in the cross. This is the love and comfort already described. Isaiah 6:0. Luke 24:0. It is shed abroad in the heart, as the rays of the sun are diffused through the universe.

(5) Comfort and reflection produce assurance, which is another and the highest fruit of the Spirit. If Christ died for us when we were without strength, and if God in this way commended his love to us while we were yet sinners, what, being now actually reconciled, may we not expect from a Father’s love, and a Saviour’s intercession at his right hand? Oh, what the poor dark world lose, by living ignorant of the happiness of converting grace. They know nothing of the ejaculations and the hopes of a regenerate soul. These are the inferences and hopes so finely traced in the residue of this chapter. As sin and death entered by the first Adam, so now life and righteousness reign by the second, in the overtures of pardon and grace to all mankind. The sin abounding by the first transgression is infinitely more than counteracted by the abounding of grace through Jesus Christ, to whom be all the praise.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Romans 5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/romans-5.html. 1835.
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