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Bible Commentaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

Romans 5

Verse 1


The blessed State of a justified Soul. The Subject traced back to the Fall of Adam yet more fully, to shew, that Justification can only he by Christ.

Verses 1-5

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

The Apostle opens this chapter, with shewing some of the immediate blessings arising out of a justified state before God in Christ. Having in the preceding chapters most fully and compleatly established the doctrine, and answered every objection, he begins this Chapter with stating the blessedness of it. First, He speaks of peace with God. Secondly, An access to the throne. Thirdly, A rejoicing in the hope and assurance of glory. Fourthly, The sanctified use of all afflictions. And, Fifthly, the enjoyment of the love of God, the influences of the Holy Ghost, and communion in all the blessed effects of Christ's grace.

I beg the Reader to observe the difference between the righteousness of God in Christ, which is the sole cause of justification and faith, which is the effect of that righteousness, and by which it is en - joyed. A sinner is not justified by his faith, for, if so, in that case it would be the work of faith; and what difference would there then be, whether the work of faith, or the deeds of the law, became either in part, or the whole, the cause of his justification? The Apostle, in one of the preceding chapters, hath clearly stated the difference between the righteousness of God which justifieth, and the faith of the believer, who by faith enjoys that justification. The righteousness of God (saith he,) which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe, Romans 3:22 . It is the righteousness of God which justifies. And this is unto all, and upon all; not their act, but the Lord's; not their merit, but the Lord's grace. It is revealed from faith to faith, Romans 1:17 , not procured by faith, for faith comes from it, and is not the cause of it. For faith itself, as an act of our's, goes no further towards our justification than any other grace. And faith, as well as every other grace, is received wholly from Christ, and can constitute no part, no, not an atom, in justification; for this is solely in and by Christ,

I have thought it proper to state this doctrine in the clearest manner possible, to guard against any mistake which might arise either here or elsewhere, when the doctrine of justification by faith is the subject. The Apostle did not mean to say, that our justification is by our faith, for he had in the very concluding verse of the former chapter declared, that Christ was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Hence the act had already past. And the therefore with which he begins this Chapter, is the immediate consequence of it. And some indeed read the verse in this way: Therefore being justified through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we have, peace with God.

Pause, Reader! and contemplate the boundless mercy! We have peace with God! peace in the blood of the cross. We who were enemies to God by wicked works, hath he now reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present us holy, and unblameable, and unreprovable in his sight, Colossians 1:20-22 . Oh! the blessedness of a justified state in Christ! Oh! the comfort, when by faith in Christ the soul enjoys it! And we have access also by Christ's justification to the throne of grace. We are said to stand in this grace before the Lord. For by our adoption character, we have the privilege of children, whereby we cry Abba, Father. An holy boldness, a familiarity at the heavenly court, as those who are well known there, and well beloved there, in Christ. Reader! do you know the blessedness of this state, and are you in the daily habit of using it? Oh! Sir! it is a blessed, yea, a very blessed way of maintaining fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, when by virtue of a conscious justified state in Christ, we go often to court, and feel ourselves there as children at home, when in their father's house. And ought it not to be so with every child of God? Hath not Jesus opened this new and living way by his blood? And doth he not dwell in the midst of the throne, to keep it open by his intercession? Oh! then! if you know the Lord, if you are in a justified state in Christ, let us make use of our high privilege. Let us (saith the Psalmist) enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations, Psalms 100:4-5 .

But we must not stop here. Paul saith also, that we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. This is a third blessed effect springing out of a justified state before God in Christ. And I beg the Reader to consider the vast importance of this high privilege. Paul himself elsewhere calls it blessed. Speaking to Titus, he saith, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ , Titus 2:13 . But it could not be blessed if it was not sure. If any guilt remained on the conscience, fear would damp the hope. Hence the justification here described by the Apostle, is considered by him as full, perfect, and complete. We have peace with God. We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand. And in consequence we rejoice in hope of the glory of God, that glory which shall be revealed. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory. See those scriptures, Leviticus 16:21 ; Isaiah 53:6 ; Romans 8:0 ; Dan 9:24 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:10 .

And, Reader, do not overlook that other blessed property arising from a justified state, I mean the sanctified use of all afflictions. A child of God, when by faith he is brought into the knowledge of his adoption, receives all his exercises with a different aspect from men of the world. For afflictions of what kind soever they be, passing through the covenant, come out with an altered property, like waters of the earth, which, by running over certain minerals, take with them qualities of healing. No afflictions, nor chastenings, for the present are joyous, but grievous; yet, sanctified by grace, they afterwards yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby, Hebrews 12:11 . But it is a character which belongs to none but God's children justified in Christ, not simply to bear tribulations, but to glory in them. And this forms a blessed fruit of a justified state. God the Holy Ghost, in his gracious office-work, directs the heart into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ, 2 Thessalonians 3:5 .

Verses 6-11

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (11) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

The Apostle here enters upon another sweet view of divine love, as instanced in the great work of redemption. The act itself not only astonishingly great and unexampled, but the time when it was shewn enhancing the mercy. Not simply when we were without anything to recommend, but when we had everything to render us odious in God's sight. Not merely undeserving, but ill and hell-deserving creatures. And the thing itself stands on record without parallel. For although in the common circumstances of life, it might perhaps here and there be found that some few of the more noble and generous of mankind would venture their life as a substitute for another, where friendship or the love of applause might prompt to it, yet for a righteous man, that is, one that simply doth what is right between man and man, and no more, such instances would be rarely found. But what tends to magnify the riches of grace, and render the case of the death of Christ so illustrious and unexampled, is, the consideration that it was done for a set of men who were sinners, and at a time when it the midst of their sins against Him who died for them ? It was thus God commended his love, and endeared to us his mercy. There is a double manifestation of this love, both in the Father's giving his dear Son, and Christ offering himself as a sacrifice for the sins of his people.

And the Apostle dwells upon it, by setting it forth under a variety of views. The gift of God; the death of Christ; the justification by his blood; the reconciliation and peace; the joy in God through Christ, by whom, and in whom, we have received the atonement. And God the Holy Ghost hath most blessedly caused his servant thus to represent it, in order that the Church might have the higher apprehension of the unspeakable mercy. Indeed, language fails to afford any adequate representation. Had some generous prince pardoned his rebellious subjects, on their returning to their allegiance: Had he purchased their freedom, with an immense sum, when they were in slavery; Had he taken them into his favor, and brought them near himself; These would have been gracious acts in manifesting his munificence and liberality. But what should we have said, had this prince done, as Christ, the prince of the kings of the earth hath done, given himself a ransom for them, died for them, shed his blood for them, washed them from their sins in his own blood, and made them kings and priests unto God and his Father? What shall we call this? And yet it is in this manner God commendeth (that is, bids the Church to take notice and accept of,) his love towards us! Reader! let you and I learn always to accept the Father's gift, and Jesus's grace, in this most sweet and precious way. God thus commendeth his love towards us!

Verses 12-21

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (13) (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (15) But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (16) And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. (17) For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) (18) Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (19) For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (20) Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Apostle having thus raised up the subject to the highest pitch of excellency, in shewing the blessed state of the soul, in being freely, fully, everlastingly justified in, and by, Christ; having received the atonement in the heart, and conscience; being fully applied, and made effectual by the Holy Ghost; and living upon it, having access daily, hourly, to the throne b y it; and constantly from it, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God; goes on now, directed and led by the blessed Spirit, to trace back the wonderful subject even to the very fall of man, which involved our whole nature in one mass of ruin, and which none but Christ could deliver from. And the Apostle, in various ways, and by various statements, draws a parallel, between the Adam - nature of our fallen state, and the grace - union in Christ; to shew, (and which he hath done in a very blessed manner,) that as Adam, and Christ, are the two Covenant heads of each family, the relationship brings with it an union interest, and concern, in all that belonged to each, in this Covenant-character. I very earnestly entreat the Reader, to attend with great diligence to the statement the Apostle hath made. May He who taught Paul, teach both Writer and Reader of this Poor Man's Commentary. For, surely, the Apostle's mind was most blessedly led out in the contemplation, when God the Holy Ghost guided his heart and pen to send this sweet scripture to the Church.

The Apostle begins this part of the subject, in drawing the parallel of the two Adams, so called in scripture, (1 Corinthians 15:45 .) in order to represent them, as covenant heads of their people. By the sin of the first Adam, the whole race were equally involved in the guilt and punishment due to original corruption, although they had no hand in actual transgression. In like manner, by the righteousness of the second Adam, the whole Church became interested, although they bore no part in the vast work, either by personal holiness in themselves, or by obedience to the law of God.

This doctrine the Apostle prosecutes through several verses. In the instance of Adam, he considers all his children implicated, in all that concerned him. And, as it is said of Levi, the descendant of Abraham, that he was in the loins of his father when Melchizedec met him, and blessed him: Hebrews 7:10 . So the whole race of mankind were in the loins of Adam, when he transgressed the commands of God, and were with him involved in the same condemnation. And equally to be considered must the whole Church be in Christ, being chosen in him before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4 . Hence that sweet promise: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring, Isaiah 44:3 . Reader! pause over this view of the subject, and remember, that it is scriptural. And, do not pass away from it, before that you have fully brought home the doctrine to the mind, under due conviction. You and I both, daily, prove our relationship to Adam, from the Adam - nature we carry about with us, in the common infirmities of that nature, and the remains of in-dwelling corruption. Have we similar testimonies, in our souls' experiences of our grace-union in Christ? It is a grand subject of enquiry. For as it is most certain, that neither of us could have been involved in the sin and condemnation of the first Adam, had we not sprung from him by generation: So, equally certain is it, that we have no interest in the righteousness and justification by the second Adam, even the Lord from heaven, unless we are his in regeneration. The transgression of Adam the sinner, would never have hurted you, or me, had we not been born from him, and his blood ran through our veins; neither will the righteousness of Christ the Savior benefit us, unless we are found new-born in Him, and his Holy Spirit formed in our hearts.

It is very blessed to follow the Apostle, through the several parts of this Chapter, wherein he hath stated the consequence of things, by virtue of the Church's oneness, and interest with Christ. He puts the subject, under various illustrations of it, and in a very beautiful manner goes over it again and again, as if he would have no child of God ignorant, on a point of so much importance. He describes the reign of death in Adam, and the reign of life in Christ, under their different heads; and shews the awful consequence of the former, and the blessed effects of the latter, as set forth in all the circumstances of mankind. Death (said he) reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, A period of two thousand five hundred years, when there was no written law, which by the transgressions of it, might have subjected to the penalty of death. And even on infants also, which never had committed, neither were in a capacity of committing, actual sin. A plain palpable proof of original sin, and death the sure consequence of it. He then argues, and with irresistible force of argument, that if such were the sure events which followed the original apostacy of our nature, in which thousands bore no part; ought not those blissful effects promised to the obedience and blood-shedding of Jesus be equally the privilege of his redeemed, to which they have none of them contributed? If so much evil followed the transgression of one sinner; must it not be equally right, that so much good should be the result from the righteousness of one Almighty Savior? And especially as both the person and sin of Adam, carry with them no proportion to the greatness and glory of the Person, and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The one a finite creature. The other Infinite. The offence of the one, in the time-state only of the Church. The righteousness of the other, everlasting. The sin of Adam of one, that is, of the earth, earthly. The holiness of Christ, the Lord from heaven, Reader! ponder well the subject; and see whether, under divine teaching, your conclusion from the whole, will not join issue with the Apostle's; that if such be the reign of sin unto death, arising from the apostacy of our Adam - nature; how much greater must be the reign of grace through righteousness, unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord!

Verse 21


Precious Lord Jesus! I would say, as I meditate on this sweet Chapter; what hath my God wrought for his Church and people? Here I behold the blessedness of a justified state! Peace with God; access to the throne, to the. mercy seat, to the pardon office of Jesus Christ; and a sure foundation for a daily, hourly rejoicing, in hope of the glory of God. And, have I this peace? Am I indeed justified freely, fully, everlastingly, in the Lord my righteousness? Hath Jesus made my peace in the blood of his cross? Is it God that justifieth me? And shall I not demand with Paul, and say: who is he that condemneth me? Oh! the blessedness of a justified state before God. There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the ; Spirit.

Praises to my God and Father, for all his Covenant-love from everlasting! Praises to my God and Savior, whose Suretyship righteousness hath done more for me in the recovery of my poor nature, in the Adam - fall ruin; than all the original and actual transgressions of the Church have done, to cast the redeemed down. And praises to my God the Holy Ghost, in causing this blessed Scripture to be given to the Church; and writing the blessed effects of it in my heart, and the hearts of his people. Oh! for grace, to be in the daily, hourly enjoyment of it, and to live in the constant unceasing dependence upon it. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.

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Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Romans 5". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.