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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Romans 5

 

 

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Verse 1

1. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This verse assumes the hortatory form, urging us up, in view of the wonderful simplicity and feasibility of justification by faith, that we all avail ourselves of the glorious privilege to enjoy perfect peace and reconciliation with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. If Abraham and his contemporaries in a moonlight dispensation could have such a victory through anticipatory faith, apprehending the promises and appropriating the vicarious atonement, how infinitely brighter should be the victory of our faith, walking in the cloudless light of the glorious Son of righteousness, who is already risen on the world with healing in His wings, flooding the whole earth with the transcendent effulgence of the historic incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension!


Verse 2

SANCTIFICATION

2. “Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and let us rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” The pronoun “this” is emphatic in this verse, indicative of progress in the school of faith reaching terra firma, i. e., establishing grace where we hold our ground, no longer retrogressing nor wavering through unbelief, doubt having been eliminated and faith moving forward with the tread of a giant. Consequently we are again exhorted, not simply as in the preceding verse to have peace with God, but to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” as we have now climbed so high up the Delectable Mountains as to enjoy a conspicuous and inspiring view of the Celestial City, if we will look through the telescope of doubtless faith. The hortatory phase of these beautiful climaxes in the three first verses of this chapter does not appear in E. V., which has the indicative mood of these verbs, the original being in the subjunctive. The fact is, Paul is here leading us on and upward, beginning with clear Abrahamic justification by faith alone, and moving on into the richer and more glorious experience of entire sanctification, followed by the climacteric establishing graces of the Holy Spirit.


Verse 3

3. “And not only so, but let us indeed glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh out endurance.” Tribulation is from the Latin tribulum which means the flail with which the farmer in olden time thrashed. Hence the pertinency of this reference to Satan beating us over the head, back, and limbs like the farmer beating out his wheat. We are exhorted to rejoice in all this because God will overrule it to our good, making it an exceedingly valuable means of grace in perfecting our susceptibility of enduring all the hardships, rebuffs, disappointments, troubles and trials which the enemy can bring against us, thus developing a most invaluable qualification for the immeasurable responsibility awaiting us in boundless eternity.


Verse 4

4. “And endurance, approval,” i. e., this indefatigable endurance of all the abuses and persecutions which Satan can possibly turn on us is the very thing to work out the divine approval of our hardihood, fidelity, loyalty and heroism — a most profitable curriculum in the school of Christ. “And approval hope,” i. e., this divine approval of our endurance in all the troubles, trials and persecutions amid this vile God-forgetting and Satan- ridden world, is the great salient confirmation of our heavenly hope, actually working it out and making it a glorious eternal verity.


Verse 5

5. “But hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who has been given unto us.” Here is a beautiful reference to the gift of the Holy Ghost to the disciples on the day of Pentecost, when the Son of God poured Him out on them from heaven, gloriously sanctifying and filling them with the blessed Holy Spirit, inundating them with perfect love casting out all fear and shame. “Shed abroad” in E. V. is wrong, the translators following the Latin, which in this passage has diffusa, whereas it should be effusa. “Shed abroad” is only an incorrect translation of the Greek ekkechutai from ek, “out,” and cheoo, “pour,” simply meaning to pour out; but it is illusory, involving the idea that the love is already in the heart, and is merely diffused abroad, which might consist with philia, human love, which is indigenous in fallen humanity, and utterly graceless, being simply carnal affection peculiar to the unregenerate, not only in this world but, as we see in the case of Dives, in the world to come, who even in the flames of hell loved his brethren so that he wanted to send them a missionary to save their souls. The word here is agape, divine love, which is the nature of God (1 John 4), and imparted to us by the Holy Ghost in regeneration, making us “partakers of the divine nature.” The reference in this passage is really to the sanctified experience, because it speaks of the “Holy Ghost having been given unto us,” which is none other than the Pentecostal experience here beautifully described in Romans 5:2-5.


Verse 6

6. “For we being yet without strength, yet in due time Christ died for us:


Verse 7

7. “For scarcely will one die for a righteous man: for in behalf of a good man one even dares to die:


Verse 8

8. “And God commendeth his love toward us because we being yet sinners, Christ died for us.” A good man, in the primary sense, is one who never sinned. Hence in this original sense it applies to Christ only. In case of the rich young man who called Him good master,” and to whom He responded, “Why callest thou me good? for there is none good but one, and that is God,” many persons erroneously think that our Savior refused to be called good, referring to this passage as an argument against the possibility of entire sanctification in this life. They utterly misapprehend the whole matter. Our Savior did not refuse to be called good, but simply turned the young man’s appellation, “calling him good master,” into a confession of His divinity: “You call me good, and such I am. Now as there is none good but God, do you not see that you have recognized my divinity, calling me God?” While in this primary sense no fallen beings are good, yet there is a gracious possibility for us all to be righteous and holy, from the fact that a righteous man is simply a pardoned sinner, and a holy man a purified sinner. The case was an extreme one. If a good man were on the earth, such would be his glory and majesty that some one might die for him, while it is scarcely Probable that any one would die for a righteous man, i. e., a pardoned sinner; but Jesus even died not only for people utterly destitute of any resources or commendation, but even His enemies.


Verse 9

9. “Then how much more now, being justified in his blood, shall we be saved from wrath through him.


Verse 10

10. “For if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, being reconciled, should we be saved by his life.


Verse 11

11. “And not only so, but rejoicing in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation.” Salvation is double. Since Satan captured the whole world in view of adding it to hell, our normal place under the law is condemnation and hell. Christ does a double work. He negatively saves us from hell by paying our penalty, and thus blockading hell with His crucified body. This is glorious, but not enough. We also need a positive salvation to prepare us for heaven. Hence, we preach the crucified, i. e., the dead Christ, to the sinner, his atoning substitute who pays his debt, blockades hell, and keeps him out. Hence, the sinner is justified by the dead Christ, who takes his place under the law. “Then if we are reconciled by his death” — there is justification by the crucified Christ — “how much more shall we be saved by his life?” Here comes in the glorious, positive side of the redemptive scheme, including regeneration and sanctification, the mighty works of the living Christ through the Holy Ghost. The a fortiori argument occurs here (9-21),

evolved in a series of climaxes, set forth in the repetitions of the adverb “much more,” contrasting Adam the First with Adam the Second, the former being the ruin and the latter the redemption.


Verse 12

12. “Therefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death came upon all men, in that all sinned.” Not “have sinned” as E. V., which would involve personal responsibility, condemning the infants; but “sinned,” the imperfect tense, does not involve personality, but simply implies that all sinned seminally in Adam when he fell, as all were in him, the only one created, including all humanity in all ages.


Verse 13-14

13, 14. “For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed, there being no law; but death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the type of him who is to come.” Here is an allusion to the infants, idiots and heathens who did not sin after the manner of Adam, i. e., break a known law; yet they all died physically, thus paying the penalty and showing to all the world their guilt in a sense, i. e., corroborating the above conclusion that all sinned seminally in Adam. How was Adam the type of Christ? Only representatively. Both Adam and Christ represent the entire human race. This is so fortunate for us. We all failed in Adam; but we all have a second chance in Christ; otherwise we must have gone like the fallen angels

(Judges 1:6) to abide in adamantine chains and penal fires forever.


Verse 15

15. “Not as the offense so is also the free gift; for if by the offense of one many died, much more the grace of God and the gift in the grace of the one man Jesus Christ abounded unto the many.” We have here the Greek phrase “the many,” in both cases used in a superlative sense. The simple meaning is, all died in Adam and all live in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22), i. e., all died seminally in Adam and all live personally in Christ. When?

“Except every one be born from above (not again) he can not see the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).

Here we see the absolute necessity of the new life on the part of every human being who shall enter God’s kingdom. “He tasted death for every one” (Hebrews 2:9), not “every man” as E. V. Christ not only certifies that all infants are in the kingdom, but holds them up as paragon members (Matthew 18). The prodigal son was born in his Father’s house, i. e., in the kingdom of God. Hence all are born there, as humanity is uniform.

Then when do we pass out of Adam into Christ? The moment soul and body united constitute personality, i. e., in the prenatal state, we are “born from above,” before we are born physically. The fall of Adam is seminal and the redemption of Christ personal. Hence all are fallen in Adam and redeemed in Christ. The death penalty of Adam’s transgression is physical, spiritual and eternal.


Verse 16

16. “And not as by the one that sinned is the free gift; for judgment is from one unto condemnation, and the free gift from many transgressions unto justification.” This verse confirms the fact the two Adams in their representative characters are parallel lines, running through time and all eternity. All we lost in Adam we gained in Christ and infinitely more, as Christ is infinitesimally greater than Adam.


Verse 17

17. “For if through the offense of one death reigned through one, how much more shall those receiving abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.” Through Adam the First death swept the world; through Adam the Second we not only have the full restitution, but an infinitely better state than before the Fall.


Verse 18

18. “Then as by the offense of one it was unto all men to condemnation, so indeed by the righteousness of one it was unto all men unto the justification of life.” This is perfectly clear on the universal ruin through Adam in the Fall, and the universal redemption through Christ in the Mediatorial Kingdom, the only trouble arising from the fact that we are all free and liable to sin and fall under condemnation at any time till our probation ends. The Adamic ruin is seminal; the redemption of Christ, personal.


Verse 19

19. “For as by the offense of one man the many were made sinners, so also by the obedience of one man the many shall be made righteous.” This verse clearly and unmistakably again affirms the parallelism of the two Adams, assuring us that what we lost in the one we gain in the other.


Verse 20

20. “The law came that sin may abound.” The law is perfectly pure and holy and could not have any affinity with sin. Yet when the law is disobeyed it awfully augments the guilt of sin. “But where sin did abound, there did grace much more abound.” Not only does Christ repair all the evil wrought by the Fall, but to those who are true to Him, He makes all things work together for good.” So all of our enemies are transformed into vehicles of blessing. This paragraph is replete with fundamental theology, setting forth the utter and universal ruin of the Fall and the complete, glorious and superabundant restitution of the redemptive scheme.


Verse 21

21. “And as sin reigned unto death, so may grace also reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In these Scriptures the doctrine of total depravity is established beyond the possibility of cavil. “Total” means entire. Depravity means a state in which we are deprived of something, i. e., life. Hence total depravity means deprivation of spiritual life. How we have it repeated here that all are dead in Adam, our federal head. When God calls a thing dead, there is no life in it. Hence the whole human race lost spiritual life in the Fall, and are all in Adam totally depraved. It is equally true that we all receive spiritual life in Christ, in both cases normally and independent of our will. As the Pall is universal, the redemption is equally so. Hence the gracious possibility for every soul to be saved in heaven. By the grace of Christ we are born in His kingdom, and only get out by sinning out, as in case of the prodigal son, who might, like his older brother, have stayed in the father’s house. Doubtless the bitterest anguish of the damned in hell will be the awful reminiscence, “The Son of God redeemed me, and purchased heaven for me. I went to hell like a fool, having no plausible excuse for my damnation!” Meanwhile devils will berate you and say, “If we had been redeemed like you, we would not be here, but shouting with the angels.” This horrific reminiscence of heaven and eternal glory purchased for them freely by the Son of God and available at their option, but foolishly and brutally rejected and depreciated, will hunt the damned with the black ghosts of inextinguishable memory through the flight of eternal ages. The Pauline climax of this “much-more” argument is simply transcendent. Here we have the two Adams representing the whole human race — the one in sin and death, the Other in life and holiness. Well does he give the infinite pre-eminence to the Latter. Why? The first Adam who brought sin into the world was only a man like myself; the second Adam, who proposes to take it out, is not only a man, but the Omnipotent God. Hence, well does he say, “Where sin did abound, there did grace much more abound.” While sin is great, grace is infinitely greater. What a grand inspiration to every sinner to escape from Adam, who has nothing but sin and ruin, to Christ, who has a superabundance of grace, glory and heaven forever.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Romans 5:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/romans-5.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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