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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Romans 5

 

 

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Verse 1

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

The First great head of his subject-the proof and illustration of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith-being now concluded, the apostle here enters on the Second great division, the fruits of justification. These are of two kinds-those of Privilege and those of Life. The former of these is the subject of the present section, the latter of the two following chapters, while in the eighth chapter both are resumed and sublimely treated together. Of the Privileges of the Justified, four are enumerated and dwelt on in this section-First: Peace with God (Romans 5:1-2).

Therefore being ('having been') justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. There is another reading of this verse for which the external evidence is so strong, that, until lately, we thought ourselves bound to regard it as the true one. It differs only by a single letter from that of the Received Text; but it converts the indicative into the subjunctive mood, or the declaratory form of the statement - "we have peace" - into the hortatory form, "let us have peace." [In favour of echomen (Greek #2192), of the Received Text, we have only B** (about eighth century) FG, and several cursives, the Peshito Syriac, and one or two Greek fathers; but for echoomen (Greek #2192) we have 'Aleph (') A B*C D K L, and about 30 cursives; 4 copies of the Old Latin and the Vulgate ("habeamus"); the Memphitic, the Philox. Syriac, and the AEthiopic; Chrysostom, Augustine, and other Greek and Latin fathers].

Should we be obliged to regard this very strong evidence as decisive (as do Scholz, Fritzsche, Tregelles, and Green), it would still bring out the same sense as the Received Text, though not so directly. For since, if required to have peace with God, we must be entitled to have it, the hortatory form of the statement-`Let us have peace with God'-amounts just to this, that as peace with God is the native consequence of a justified state, believers should realize it, or have the joyful consciousness of it as their own. Nor let it be said (as Olshausen, Alford, and Philippi, do) that it is incongruous to bid us have what it is God's prerogative to bestow; for we are elsewhere exhorted to "have grace" (Hebrews 12:28), which surely is not less the pure gift of God than the peace which flows from justification. But though the sense, according to both readings, is substantially the same, there are three internal evidences in favour of the Received Text-or the indicative form of the statement ("we have peace") - to which, on mature reflection, we feel constrained to yield.

(1) The sense is beyond question indicative or declaratory throughout all this section, specifying as matter of fact the various privileges of the justified believer; and if so, it certainly is more natural that the first one should be put in the indicative mood, "we have peace," than subjunctively-`let us have peace'-while all the others are specified as matter of fact in the indicative form.

(2) The testimony of the fathers in favour of the subjunctive form is of very little weight, and is fitted rather to create a suspicion against it, from their known tendency to give an ethical and hortatory form to simple doctrinal statements. Chrysostom, for example, though one of the most accurate of the Greek expositors, entirely misses the sense of this verse, not only throwing it into the hortatory form, but regarding it as an exhortation to cease from sinning. His words are, 'Let us have peace with God-that is, let us no longer sin' [ toutesti (Greek #5123) meeketi (Greek #3371) hamartanomen (Greek #264)]; and Origen, Theodoret, and other Greek fathers go equally far astray in interpreting this verse. But above all

(3) The interchange of the long "o" and the short "o" - which is the whole difference between the two readings in the present case, and is technically called itacism-is so common in ancient Greek manuscripts that the question whether more of them have the one form than the other ought not of itself to decide the question in which form the word came from the apostle himself. And as this is the one ground on which the subjunctive reading has any claim to be received, it ought to give way before the very strong internal evidence in favour of the indicative or declaratory form of the statement, (Accordingly, Lachmann and Tischendorf abide by the Received Text, of which DeWette, Meyer, Philippi, and Alford approve.)

The next thing is to fix the precise sense of the words, "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" [ pros (Greek #4314) ton (Greek #3588) Theon (Greek #2316) - the preposition denoting 'ethical relation' (Donaldson, 486), as in Acts 2:47; Acts 24:16]. Calvin and others take this peace to mean 'peace of conscience,' or that tranquility of soul which springs from a sense of our reconciliation to God. But this is rather a consequence of the peace here meant than the peace itself. "Peace with God" here is clearly God's being at peace with us, or the cessation of His wrath, the removal of His righteous displeasure against us because of sin now put away "through our Lord Jesus Christ" (so Melville, Alford, Philippi, Hodge). It is true that the knowledge that God is now at peace with us cannot but quell all guilty fears and tranquillize the conscience; but the great truth here expressed is that the justified believer is no longer the object of God's displeasure. The knowledge of this blessed truth must ever be beyond the reach of those who rest their hopes of acceptance, whether more or less, on their own imperfect conformity to the laws of God.


Verse 2

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

By whom also we have access , [ teen (Greek #3588) prosagoogeen (Greek #4318) escheekamen (Greek #2192)]. Our translators, following the Vulgate and Luther, have gone wrong here. The true sense, as given by Beza, is, 'By whom we have had the access,' or 'our access.'

By faith into this grace wherein we stand. [Tischendorf omits tee (Greek #3588) pistei (Greek #4102), and Lachmann and Tregelles bracket them, on the authority of B D E (apparently) F G, tour copies of the Old Latin, and later witnesses. But they are sufficiently attested, we think, by 'Aleph (') A (which has en (Greek #1722) tee (Greek #3588) pistei (Greek #4102)), and many cursives, the Vulgate ('fide,' 'in fide,' 'per fidem,' in different copies), the Syriac, the AEthiopic, and many Greek and Latin fathers. That the words might more easily slide out of the genuine text, as superfluous, than creep in as an interpolation, will surely be admitted.] The question here is, Have we in this clause a second privilege of the justified (as Beza, Tholuck, and others think), or only a thought suggested by the first one? The latter we regard (with Meyer, Philippi, Mehring, Hodge) as the right answer; and in that case the whole statement may be thus conveyed, 'Not only do we owe to our Lord Jesus Christ this first and greatest blessing of a justified state - "peace with God" - but to Him we are indebted even for our "access into this grace" of gratuitous justifications, "wherein we stand," and which is the ground of that peace.' We must not (with Tholuck) press the word "access," or 'introduction,' so far as to suppose that it alludes to the usage in Eastern courts of strangers being conducted into the king's presence by an official Introducer [ prosagoogeus (Greek #4318)], Jesus Christ acting this part for us with God (as in Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12 - the only other places in the New Testament where that word is used). The word signifies access or approach to any object-whether a thing, a state, or a person, though more commonly the last. What is meant here is the permanent 'standing' of a justified state, which we owe (says the apostle) to "our Lord Jesus Christ."

Second: Exultant hope of the glory of God

And [we] rejoice in hope of the glory of God. The word here rendered "rejoice" [ kauchoometha (Greek #2744)] properly denotes that swell of emotion which leads to loud speaking-either in the way of 'vaunting'-`bragging'-without any warrantable ground-or of legitimate 'exultation' or 'triumph.' This last is the thing here intended; and as the same word is thrice used in this section, it had been better if it had been rendered by the same English word, instead of three different ones - "rejoice" (Romans 5:2), "glory" (Romans 5:3), and "joy" (Romans 5:11). The meaning is, that as our gratuitous justification gives to us who believe present peace with God, so it secures our future glory, the assured prospect of which begets as triumphant a spirit as if it were a present possession. (See more on "hope," Romans 5:4). Third: Triumph in Tribulation (Romans 5:3)


Verse 3

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

And not only [so] but we glory in tribulations also - not, surely, for their own sake, for as such they are "not joyous but grievous;" but

Knowing that tribulation worketh patience. To 'work' anything, in the sense of 'producing' it, is a favourite Pauline word-used by Peter but once, and by James only twice, but by Paul 21 times, 11 of which are in this Epistle. The "patience" which tribulation worketh is the quiet endurance of what we cannot but wish removed, whether it be the withholding of promised good (as Romans 8:25), or the continued experience of positive ill (as here). There is, indeed, a patience of unrenewed nature which has something noble in it, though in many cases it is the offspring of pride, if not of something lower. Men have been known to endure every form of privation, torture, and death, without a murmur, and without even visible emotion, merely because they deemed it unworthy of them to sink under unavoidable ill. But this proud, stoical hardihood has nothing in common with the grace of patience-which is either the meek endurance of ill, because it is of God (Job 1:21-22; Job 2:10), or the calm waiting for promised good until His time to dispense it comes (Hebrews 10:36); in the full persuasion that such trials are divinely appointed, are the needed discipline of God's children, are but for a definite period, and are not sent without abundant promises of "songs in the night." If such be the "patience" which "tribulation worketh," no wonder it is added.


Verse 4

And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

And patience [worketh] experience , [ dokimeen (Greek #1382)] - rather 'proof,' as the same word is rendered in 2 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 13:3; Philippians 2:22 - that is, experimental evidence that we have 'believed through grace' [Vulgate and Calvin, 'probatio'].

And experience (or 'proof') hope - "of the glory of God." Thus have we hope in two distinct ways, and at two successive stages of the Christian life-First, Immediately on believing, along with the sense of "peace with God" (Romans 5:1); Next, After the reality of this faith has been 'proved,' particularly by the patient endurance of trials sent to test it. We first get it by looking away from ourselves to the Lamb of God; next, by looking into or upon ourselves as transformed by that "looking unto Jesus." In the one case, the mind acts (as they say) objectively; in the other, subjectively. The one is (in the language of some divines) the assurance of faith; the other, the assurance of sense. The next six verses, instead of going on to some new fruit of justification, are but one lengthened and noble illustration of the solid character of this "hope of the glory of God."


Verse 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.

And hope maketh not ashamed - putteth not to shame, as empty hopes do, or, is not of a character to disappoint those in whose bosoms it springs up as the proper consequence of perceived justification (cf. Romans 9:33; Romans 10:11).

Because the love of God , [ hee (Greek #3588) agapee (Greek #26) tou (Greek #3588) Theou (Greek #2316).] - not our love to God (as Theodoret, Augustine, and of moderns, as Webster and Wilkinson, view it), but God's love to us, as is clear from Romans 5:8, and, indeed, from the whole strain of these six verses. So it is understood by nearly every good interpreter.

Is shed abroad , [ ekkechutai (Greek #1632)] - or 'poured out;' a lively and familiar figure for a 'rich' or 'copious communication' (see the same word in Mark 2:22, of wine; and of the Holy Spirit, in Acts 2:17; Acts 2:33; Acts 10:45; Titus 3:6).

In our hearts - which are, as it were, bedewed with it,

By the Holy Spirit, which is ('was') given unto us - given either at the great Pentecostal effusion, viewed as the formal donation of the Spirit to the Church of God for all time, or on each one's own accession to Christ (John 7:38-39). It should be observed that here we have the first mention in this Epistle of the Holy Spirit, whose work in believers is so fully treated in chapter 8. The argument of the apostle is to the following effect: 'That assured hope of glory which the perception of our justification begets will never disappoint us; for how can it, when we feel our hearts, by the Holy Spirit given unto us, drenched in sweet, all-subduing sensations of God's wondrous love to us in Christ Jesus!' This leads the apostle to expatiate on the amazing character of that love.


Verse 6

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. [ Eti (Greek #2089) gar (Greek #1063) Christos (Greek #5547) ontoon (Greek #5607) heemoon (Greek #2257) asthenoon (Greek #772) kata (Greek #2596) kairon (Greek #2540) huper (Greek #5228) aseboon (Greek #765) apethanen (Greek #599)]. The unusual separation here of eti (Greek #2089) from asthenoon (Greek #772), to which it belongs (as in Romans 5:8, eti (Greek #2089) hamartooloon (Greek #268)), seems to have perplexed the transcribers of manuscripts, occasioning various readings; none of which, however, are sufficiently supported to deserve notice here-except the repetition of eti (Greek #2089) before kata (Greek #2596) kairon (Greek #2540), which Lachmann and Tregelles adopt, on the weighty external testimony of 'Aleph (') A B C D* F G, two cursives, four copies of the Old Latin (but not the Vulgate, as Tischendorf incorrectly says), both the Syriac versions, the Memphitic, and several fathers.

But this second eti (Greek #2089), which perplexes the sense, is rightly rejected by Tischendorf as a transcriber's addition, suggested by the unusual separation of the first one from its proper adjective. Nor is this separation so very unusual; it occurs not only in other places of the New Testament, but in Achilles Tatius, Euripides, and Plato.-See Fritzsche and Meyer, also Winer, 61. 4. The worst explanation is that of Tholuck, who thinks that 'Paul, having forgotten the eti (Greek #2089) at the commencement, may have put down the second by an oversight'-which Fritzsche justly pronounces 'ridiculous.' Three notable properties of God's love to us in Christ are here specified-answering the questions, For whom? In what circumstances? and When? FIRST, For whom? "Christ (replies the apostle) died for the ungodly." In the preceding chapter the apostle, with the view of expressing in the most emphatic and unmistakeable form the absolutely gratuitous character of our justification, had said that God "justifieth the ungodly" (Romans 4:5).

Here, to convey, in the strongest terms, the absolutely unmerited character of God's love to us in the gift of His Son, He says that "Christ died for the ungodly" - for those whose character and state were repugnant to His nature and offensive to the eyes of His glory. The preposition here rendered "for" [ huper (Greek #5228)] - does not mean 'instead,' or 'in the place of' [which is anti (Greek #473)], but simply 'for the benefit of.' How Christ's death benefits us, therefore, must be determined, not by the use of this word, but by the nature of the case, and the context in each place where the word is used. In the case of Christ's death-which is expressly called by our Lord Himself (Matthew 20:28), "a Ransom in the place of many" [ anti (Greek #473) polloon (Greek #4183)], and a Propitiatory Sacrifice (Romans 3:25) - there can be no doubt that the substitutionary character of it is meant to be understood, and consequently, that in the nature of the thing, though not in the precise meaning of the words, the one preposition [ huper (Greek #5228)] involves, in a great many passages (such as 2 Corinthians 5:15; 2 Corinthians 5:20-21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 3:18), the idea of the other [ anti (Greek #473)].

Indeed, the best classical writers (as Euripides, Plato, Demosthenes) use the one preposition freely in the sense of the other, wherever the idea of both is implied. SECOND, In what circumstances? "When we were without strength" (replies the apostle). But in what sense? Not (we think) in the sense of impotence to obey the law of God (according to most critics) - that is not the point here-but impotence do what he says God sent His Son accomplish, namely, to "Justify" us (Romans 5:9), or "reconcile us to God" (Romans 5:10). The meaning here, then, of our being "without strength," is, that we were in a state of passive helplessness to deliver ourselves out of our perishing condition as sinners-`helpless [in our sins],' as Conybeare expresses it. THIRD, When was this done? "In due time," is the reply [ kata (Greek #2596) kairon (Greek #2540)] - rather, 'at the [appointed] season; 'when the necessity for it was affectingly brought to light (1 Corinthians 1:21), and when the august preparations for it were all completed (Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 9:26). On the first of these three properties of God's love us, in the gift of His Son, the apostle now proceeds to enlarge.


Verse 7

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

For scarcely for a righteous man, [ huper (G5228) dikaiou (G1342)] will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die , [ huper (Greek #5228) gar (Greek #1063) tou (Greek #3588) agathou (Greek #18) tacha (Greek #5029) tis (Greek #5100) kai (Greek #2532) tolma (Greek #5111) apothanein (Greek #599)] - 'for, for the good man one perhaps does dare to die.' On the precise sense of this verse there has been much and (as we think) needless diversity of opinion. Everything depends on the sense in which the words "righteous" and "good" are to be taken. Luther and Erasmus, taking them in a neuter sense-not of persons, but of abstract qualities-make the apostle to mean, 'Scarcely will one die for that which is right and good.' But this is at variance with the whole strain of the passage; and the notion of dying for an abstract idea is entirely foreign (as Jowett well observes) to the language both of the New Testament and of the age in which it was written.

Again, Meyer (observing that the article, which is wanting before "righteous," placed before "good') understand the former clause of a righteous man, but takes the latter clause in a neuter sense, of that which is good. But besides that this is unnatural, it is liable to the same objection as before, of making the apostle speak of dying for an idea. Finally, Calvin, Beza, Fritzsche, etc., take both words as used synonymously-in this sense: 'To die even for a worthy character is a thing scarcely known among men, though such a case perhaps may occur.' But if this is what the apostle meant, it could surely have been expressed less baldly than by repeating the same thing in two successive clauses; not to say that the idea itself seems somewhat flat. It remains, then, that with the majority of good interpreters we take the sense to be as in our own version, as far the simplest and most natural. In this case, "a righteous man" is one simply of unexceptionable character, while "the good man" (emphatically so called) is one who, besides being unexceptionable, is distinguished for goodness, a benefactor to society. This distinction is familiar in classic literature; and as it cannot but have existed in fact among the Jews, there is no need to search for any definite expressions of it in the Old Testament. It only remains to notice the repetition of the "for" at the beginning of both clauses, which is to be explained thus: 'For scarcely is an instance to be found among men of one dying even for a righteous character; [I say, scarcely] for in behalf of a benefactor to society one does, perhaps, meet with such a case.' (So Bengel, Olshausen, Tholuck, Alford, Philippi, Hodge.) Beyond this, then, men's love for men, even in the rarest cases, will not go. Behold, now, the contrast between this and God's love to us in the gift of His Son.


Verse 8

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

But God commendeth , [ sunisteesin (Greek #4921)] - 'setteth forth,' 'displayeth' (see the same word in Romans 3:5; Romans 16:1; 2 Corinthians 3:1),

His (own) love toward us, [ tou (G3588) heautou (G1438) agapeen (G26)] in that, while we were - far from being positively "good," or even negatively "righteous," while we were

Yet (or 'still') sinners - a state which His soul hateth,

Christ died for us. This is not exactly how we should have expected the argument to run. 'Men (he had been saying) will hardly die for men even when "righteous," though for one emphatically "good" one might be found doing so in some rare case; but God commendeth His love to us in that, while we were yet sinners'-what? 'He Himself died for us' would seem the natural conclusion of the argument. But as this would hardly have been congruous, he puts it thus, "God commendeth His love to us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Who can fail to see what a light this throws upon the Person of Christ? Had the apostle regarded Christ as a mere creature, however exalted-had he held Him to be in no proper sense of the essence of the Godhead-the comparison he has drawn between what men will do for one another and what God has done for us in Christ, is surely a halting one. For thus it would run: 'Hardly will any man die even for the best of men; but God so loved us that an exalted creature died for us.' Now what force is there in this? But if Christ is so of the essence of the Godhead as to be God manifested in the flesh, sent of God to give His life a Ransom for many-if He is so of the essence of the Godhead, that in all that He was and all that He did God was in Him of a truth, then His dying for us was as really a Personal sacrifice on the part of God as the glorious perfection of His nature will permit us to conceive and express. This makes the parallel a strict one, and the contrast sublime. Now comes the overpowering contrast, emphatically redoubled.


Verse 9

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Much more then, being ('having been') now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.


Verse 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.

For if, when we were enemies , [ echthroi (Greek #2190) ontes (Greek #5607)] - not in the active sense of the word, as meaning 'persons cherishing enmity toward God' (so Grotius), but obviously in the passive sense, 'objects of God's enmity,' or 'righteous hatred,' in respect of our sinful character, as all the best interpreters agree (as Calvin, Fritzsche, Meyer, DeWette, Alford, Hedge);

We were reconciled to God - here also not in the active sense, of a restoration of our good feeling toward God, but obviously of His toward us. [See Fritzsche on dialassein and katallassein, notes, pp. 276-280.]

By the death of his Son, much more, being ('having been') reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Here let the reader observe that the whole Mediatorial work of Christ is divided into two grand stages-the one already completed on earth, the other now in course of completion in heaven. The first of these is called "Justification by His blood," in the one verse, and in the other, "Reconciliation to God by the death of His Son:" the second is called "Salvation from wrath through Him," in the one verse, and in the other "Salvation by His life." What the one of these imports is plain enough; but the other - "Salvation from wrath through Him" - may require a word of explanation. It denotes here the whole work of Christ toward believers, from the moment of justification, when the wrath of God is turned away from them, until the Judge on the great white Throne shall discharge that wrath upon them that "obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and that work may all be summed up in "keeping them from falling, and presenting them faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy (Jude 1:24): thus are they "saved from wrath through Him." Now the apostle's argument is, that if the one has been already done, much more may we assure ourselves that the other will be done. The ground of this argument (a majore ad minus) is the irresistible fact that the thing which has been done was at once inconceivably difficult and repulsive, whereas what has to be done is in all respects the reverse. For our "justification" cost Him "His blood," and He has already shed it-our "reconciliation to God" was the reconciliation of 'enemies,' and by the death of His Son; yet even this has been gone through and completed; whereas our "salvation from wrath through Him," as it costs Him no suffering, so it is for friends, whom it is sweet to serve. Thus, the whole statement amounts to this: 'If that part of the Saviour's work which cost Him His blood, and which had to be done for persons incapable of the least sympathy either with His love or His labours in their behalf-even our "justification," our "reconciliation" - is already completed; how much more will He do all that remains to be done, since He has it to do, not by death-agonies anymore, but in troubled "life," and no longer for enemies, but for friends-from whom, at every stage of it, He receives the grateful response of redeemed and adoring souls!'

With one other privilege of the justified the apostle closes this section.

Fourth: Triumph in God Himself (Romans 5:11)


Verse 11

And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

And not only so, but we also joy , [ kauchoomenoi (Greek #2744), scil., esmen (Greek #2070). So most good interpreters. Alford and Green retain the participial idea, as continuing katallagentes (Greek #2644) of Romans 5:10; but this is unnatural].

In God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement , [ teen (Greek #3588) katallageen (Greek #2643)] - more strictly (as in the margin), 'the reconciliation.' So the same word, as a verb, is properly rendered in Romans 5:10, and the noun itself is so rendered in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19. In fact, the earlier meaning of the English word "atonement" (as Trench shows) was 'the reconciliation of two estranged parties'-that is, bringing them to be again 'at-one;' whereas now, "atonement" means that which constitute the procuring cause of reconciliation. The three preceding fruits of justification were all of kindred nature-benefits to ourselves, calling for gratitude; this fourth and last one may be termed a purely disinterested one. Our first feeling toward God, after we have obtained peace with Him, is that of clinging gratitude for so costly a salvation; but no sooner have we learned to cry, Abba, Father, under the sweet sense of reconciliation, than 'gloriation' in Him takes the place of dread of Him, and now He appears to us "altogether lovely!"

Remarks:

(1) How gloriously does the Gospel evince its divine origin, by its laying the foundations of the Christian life in the restoration of the sinner to a righteous standing, and consequent peace with God, gratuitously bestowed on him through faith in the Lord Jesus, instead of leaving him vainly to strive after and struggle into it by his own efforts at obedience. (2) As only believers possess the true secret of patience under trials, so when trials divinely sent afford them the opportunity of evidencing the reality and strength of their faith by the grace of patience under them, though in themselves "not joyous, but grievous" (Hebrews 12:17), they may well "count it all joy when they fall into them, knowing that the trying of their faith worketh patience" (James 1:2-3).

(3) Hope, in the New Testament sense of the term, is not a lower degree of faith or assurance (as many now say, 'I hope for heaven, but am not sure of it'), but invariably means 'the confident expectation of future good.' It presupposes faith; and what faith assures us will be ours, hope accordingly expects. In the nourishment of this hope, the soul's look outward to Christ for the ground of it, and inward upon ourselves for evidence of its reality, must act and re-act upon each other.

(4) It is the proper office of the Holy Spirit to beget in the soul the full conviction and joyful sense of the love of God in Christ Jesus to sinners of mankind, and to ourselves in particular; and where this exists, it carries with it such an assurance of final salvation as cannot deceive.

(5) The death of Christ for sinners and enemies, as an act of self-sacrificing love for others, stands out absolutely unique and alone. It admits of illustration, indeed, from the annals of self-sacrifice for country, kindred, friend, among men; but every such comparison is at the same time a contrast, and acts only as a foil to set off the peerless character of the love of God to men in the death of His Son.

(6) Though the justification of believers is sometimes ascribed to the "blood" of Christ (as in Romans 5:9), and sometimes to His "obedience" (as in Romans 5:19), or-combining both into one-to His "righteousness" (as in Romans 5:18); the same thing is everywhere meant-namely, the vicarious mediatorial work of Christ, considered as one whole. It is true that the expiatory element of that work lay in His blood-His death. But still, when any one feature of that work is specified, it will always be found that this is owing merely to some point in the argument suggesting the mention of that feature, and not to any intrinsic efficacy toward justification in that, to the exclusion of the other parts of Christ's mediatorial work.

Thus, in Romans 5:9-10, the apostle having occasion to dwell on what Christ did for men in the light of an incomparable self-sacrifice, naturally speaks of His "blood" as that which "justifies" us-His "death," as "reconciling" us to God. Whereas in Romans 5:18-19, his object being to contrast with the effects of Adam's transgression, in placing his seed in the condition of sinners, what Christ has done for us, he naturally fastens on the obediential character of Christ's work, saying, "even so by the obedience of One shall the many be made righteous." By overlooking this, some German divines of the Reformation-period attached undue importance to the passive sufferings and death of Christ, as constituting the whole meritorious ground of the believer's justification, while others were disposed to assign the same place to His active obedience. And we have in our own day, schools of theology of nearly the same character as these. The true corrective for all such narrow views of the work of Christ is to regard it in its entireness as God's gracious provision for our complete recovery out of our fallen condition, and only to dwell, as our apostle does, on its several features or stages, as the exigencies of our argument or discourse may call for it.

(7) Gratitude to God for redeeming love, if it could exist without delight in God Himself, would be a selfish and worthless feeling; but when the one rises into the other-the transporting sense of eternal "reconciliation" passing into 'gloriation in God' Himself-then the lower is sanctified and sustained by the higher, and each feeling is perfective of the other.

This profound and most weighty section has occasioned an immense deal of critical and theological discussion, in which every point, every clause, almost every word, has been contested. It will require, therefore, a pretty minute examination; and it may conduce to clearness of apprehension to state, in the form of a heading at the outset, the scope and import of each successive division of it. But before proceeding to the exposition in detail, the reader should observe the terms employed in this great section to express that deed of Adam, on the one hand, which has involved all his posterity in its penal consequences; and on the other hand, what we receive through Christ, the Second Adam. Four different terms are employed to express the one, and three to denote the other. The four terms, with reference to the Fall, are, First, "The sin" [ hamartia (Greek #266)] - Romans 5:12; Romans 5:20-21; Second, "The transgression" [ parabasis (Greek #3847)] - Romans 5:14; Third, "The offence," or rather 'trespass' [ paraptooma (Greek #3900)] - Romans 5:15 (twice), 16,18,20; Fourth, "The disobedience" [ parakoee (Greek #3876)] - Romans 5:19. The first word, "sin" - from the verb [ hamartanein (Greek #264)] 'to miss the mark,' and hence, 'to err,' or 'deviate'-is the most general, in Bible usage, and of far the most frequent occurrence; being used nearly 200 times, and in the Septuagint more than double that number.

Hence, as the most comprehensive term, it is both the first and the last used in this section; being selected (in Romans 5:12) to start the comparison, and again (in Romans 5:21) to wind it up. The second term, "transgression" (literally, 'going over' or 'beyond' the proper point, place, or path), and the third term, 'trespass'-from the verb [ parapiptein (Greek #3895)], 'to fall beside' or 'aside,' and hence, to 'deviate'-scarcely differ at all, as will be seen, in their shades of meaning; and here they are both obviously used for mere variety, to denote that one first 'deflection' or 'deviation' from rectitude in which all mankind have become involved. The fourth and only remaining term, "disobedience," needs no explanation-expressing clearly enough that feature of Adam's sin in the light of which the obediential character of Christ's righteousness is most brightly seen. The three equally expressive terms employed to denote what we owe to Christ are, First, What is here rendered "the free gift" [ charisma (Greek #5486)], or rather, 'the gift of grace' - Romans 5:15-16; Second, What is rendered 'the gift' [ hee (Greek #3588) doorea (Greek #1431)], but better rendered, 'the free gift' - Romans 5:15; Romans 5:17; and, Third, What is also rendered "the gift" [ to (Greek #3588) dooreema (Greek #1434)] - but better, 'the bestowal' or 'the boon' - Romans 5:16. These words speak for themselves, expressing the absolutely gratuitous character of the whole fruits of redemption by the Second Adam. We are now prepared to take the verses of this section in detail.

First: Adam's first sin was the sin, and procuring cause of the death, of all mankind (Romans 5:12)


Verse 12

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:

Wherefore , [ dia (Greek #1223) touto (Greek #5124)] - that is, 'Things being so;' so as they have been shown to be in the whole previous argument of this Epistle. To suppose (as most interpreters do) that the reference is merely to what immediately precedes, is not at all natural; for (as Fritzsche says) the immediate statements are quite incidental, whereas what follows is primary, fundamental, all-comprehensive-a grand summation of the whole state of our case, viewed as ruined on the one hand in Adam, and on the other as recovered in Christ.

As by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world , [ eis (Greek #1519) ton (Greek #3588) kosmon (Greek #2889) eiseelthen (Greek #1525). There is nothing emphatic in the repetition of the eis (Greek #1519) here; for verbs compounded with eis (Greek #1519), whenever followed by a noun, invariably repeat the preposition before the noun. In the New Testament this same word is used with a noun following it about 130 times, and never without the eis (Greek #1519) repeated]. By the word "sin" here many good interpreters understand 'the principle of sin,' or, in other words, 'human depravity;' others, 'the commission of sin,' or what is termed 'actual sin.' And certainly the word "entered" might seem to suggest something active. But what follows shows, we think, conclusively that in neither of these senses of the term does the apostle here use it. For when he adds,

And death by sin, it seems quite plain that he intends that sin which was the procuring cause of the death of all mankind; which certainly is neither the sinful principle inherited from Adam nor yet the actual sin of each individual. What, then, can this be but the first sin-otherwise called "the transgression," "the trespass," "the disobedience," throughout this section. But how could an act past and done be said to "enter into the world?" Not as an act, but as a state of guilt or criminality, attaching to the Whole human family-as what follows more fully expresses. (So in substance Bengel, Hodge, Philippi, Wordsworth.)

And so death passed upon, [ dieelthen (G1330), or, 'went through'] all men - pervaded or came to attach to the whole race. [The words ho (Greek #3588) thanatos (Greek #2288) are omitted before dieelthen (Greek #1330) by D E F G.; one cursive, some copies of the Old Latin, and one manuscript of the Vulgate; and several times by Augustine. On this certainly inferior evidence Tischendorf excludes it from his text. But the following authorities appear to us decisive in favour of retaining them: 'Aleph (') A B C K L, many cursives, the Vulgate (except God. Fuld.) - 'mors pertransiit'-and other versions, also most of the fathers, including Augustine himself. Lachmann and Tregelles retain it.]

For that - not 'in whom,' as several of the fathers-after the Old Latin and the Vulgate-with Beza and others understood the words [ ef' (Greek #1909) hoo (Greek #3739) = in quo] rather unnaturally, but as Calvin and all the best interpreters who take the words as our version does 'inasmuch as'

All have sinned , [ heemarton (Greek #264)] - 'all sinned;' that is, in that one first sin.

The reader will do well to pause here, and after reading the whole verse afresh, to consider how inadequately-we do not say the poor Pelagian explanation comes up to the language of it, namely, that Adam's bad example has infected all his posterity; but even that more respectable and far better supported interpretation of it, that the corrupt nature inherited from Adam drags all his posterity into sin. Let it be repeated, that the apostle is speaking only of that sin of which death is the righteous penalty; and consequently, when he adds, that "so death passed upon all men, for that all sinned," he can only mean, 'for that all are held to have themselves sinned in that first sin.' But how is this to be understood? Not certainly in the sense of some inexplicable oneness of personality (physical or otherwise) in Adam and all his race; for no one's sin can in any intelligible sense be the personal sin of any but himself.

All must be resolved into a divine arrangement, by which Adam was constituted in such sense the head and representative of his race that his sin and fall were held as theirs, and visited penally accordingly. Should the justice of this be questioned, it may be enough to reply that men do, in point of fact, suffer death and many other evils on account of Adam's sin-so, at least, all who believe in a Fall at all will admit-and this involves as much difficulty as the imputation of the guilt which procured it. But should the justice of both be disputed, the only consistent refuge will be found in a denial of all moral government of the world. The only satisfactory key to the manifold sufferings, moral impotence, and death of all mankind, will be found in a moral connection between Adam and his race. And when we find a corresponding arrangement for the recovery of men through a Second Adam-though we shall never be able to solve the mystery of such moral relations-the one will be found to throw such a steady and beautiful light upon the other, that we shall be forced, as we "look into these things," to exclaim, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (See Hodge's masterly statement on the words "all sinned.") One little word in this verse has given rise to so much troublesome discussion and diversity of interpretation-the word "as" [ hoosper (Greek #5618)] with which the verse starts ("Wherefore, as by one man," etc.) - that it will be necessary to advert to the different views taken of it before we can fix satisfactorily its precise import here. Is this then, meant to denote the first member of a comparison (what grammarians call a protasis)? If so, where is the second member (the apodosis, as grammarians say)?

(1) Some (as DeWette, and after him Conybeare) see none, and so regard this as no member of any comparison. Accordingly they translate the clause thus: 'Wherefore [it is] like as by one man,' etc. (so de Wette); or thus: 'This therefore is like the case when,' etc. (so Conybeare, who refers to the Greek of Matthew 25:14 for a parallel case). But it is fatal to this interpretation, that it makes the sin and death of mankind in Adam to be the apostle's principal topic in this section; whereas it is here introduced only to illustrate by contrast what we owe to Christ.

(2) Others, admitting that the "as" of this verse is the first member of a comparison, find the second in the sequel of this same verse; while some find it in the word "so" [ houtoos (Greek #3779)]; translating "even so" instead of "and so." But this makes bad Greek [because kai (Greek #2532) houtoos (Greek #3779) is not = houtoo (Greek #3779) kai (Greek #2532)]. Others (as Erasmus and Beza) find it in the word "and" ("and death by sin"), translating 'so death by sin.' But besides that this makes a very weak comparison, it compares the wrong parties-namely, Adam and his posterity-whereas it is Adam and Christ whom this section throughout compares and contrasts.

(3) Tholuck thinks that the apostle has announced a comparison with the word "as" in Romans 5:12, and has virtually completed it in the sequel; but that having started off, before doing so, to develop his first statement, he forgot the precise form in which he began it, and so completes it in substance rather than in form. This, however, is rather loosing the knot than cutting it. Yet Calvin's view comes to much the same thing in more guarded language. He finds the second member of the comparison in Romans 5:15; but as it certainly is not there in logical form, he thinks that the apostle, engaged with something far higher than verbal accuracy, fills up what he had at Romans 5:12 left incomplete, without regard to the precise form of the opening sentence.

(4) Others still, and these the majority of interpreters, find the second member of the comparison-begun in Romans 5:12 - no nearer than Romans 5:18-19, each of which begins with a resumption of the first member of the comparison, nearly as in Romans 5:12, and ends with a full and formal completion of it: "Therefore, as [ hoos (Greek #5613)] by the offence of one, etc., even so [ houtoo (Greek #3779) kai (Greek #2532)] by the righteousness of one," etc. - "For as [ hoosper (Greek #5618)] by one man's disobedience, etc., so [ houtoo (Greek #3779) kai (Greek #2532)] by the obedience of one," etc.

To us there appears to be no real difference between any of the views which recognize in Romans 5:12 only the first member of a comparison between Adam and Christ. All admit that the second member of the comparison, regarding Christ, is what the apostle's mind was full of; that all that the says in the development and illustration of the first, regarding Adam, is only introduced with the view of enhancing the second: and that this second, so far from being held in suspense or entirely postponed until the 18th verse, crops out in one form or other from the 15th verse-where, having mentioned Adam, the apostle adds, "who is the figure of Him that was to come" - onwards from verse to verse until, at Romans 5:18-19, it only culminates in a redoubled statement, which, for clearness and comprehensiveness, leaves nothing to be desired. If, then, it be granted on the one hand that the formal summation of the whole statement is reserved to the end, it surely need not be denied, on the other, that the apostle is less careful about the verbal balance of the two members of the comparison than about a distinct and vigorous expression of his meaning in regard to the two great Heads of the human family.

Having thus disposed of the points which have been raised on this opening verse, the remaining ones need not detain us so long.

Second: The reign of death from Adam to Moses proves the imputationof sin during all that period; and consequently the existence of a law, other than that of Moses, of which sin is the breach (Romans 5:13-14)


Verse 13

(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

For until the law , [ achri (Greek #891) nomou (Greek #3551)] - not 'until (the cessation) of the law,' or until the time of Christ; as Chrysostom and Augustine, with other fathers, and Erasmus, strangely understood the expression. Clearly, the meaning is, as expressed in Romans 5:14, "from Adam to Moses," or until the giving of the law,

Sin was in the world - the same "sin," obviously, as that meant in Romans 5:12; which we have seen is, not 'actual sin' (with Stewart and others), nor (with more and better interpreters) 'the principle of sin' inherited from Adam, but that sin whose penalty was death-the first sin, considered in its criminality, exposing all mankind penally to death.

But sin is not imputed when there is no law. This is nothing else than a general principle, identical with that expressed in Romans 4:15 - "where no law is, there is no transgression" - and much the same as in 1 John 3:4, "sin is the transgression of the law." It is surprising that so sagacious an interpreter as Calvin should have followed Luther here (as he himself has been followed by Beza, Tholuck, Stuart, etc.) in taking the 'imputation' of sin here to mean the sense or feeling of sin by men themselves. For this, besides putting an unwarranted sense on the word 'imputation,' confuses and obscures the apostle's statement, which plainly is, that God's treatment of men, from Adam to Moses, shows them to have been 'reckoned' sinners, and consequently violators of some divine law other than that of Moses. Alford, while admitting the proper sense of 'imputation' here, yet gives it a turn even worse than the above-making the meaning to be, 'sin is not fully imputed where there is no law.' The view we have given, as it is the simplest, so it is the only one, as we think, that suits the purposes of the apostle's argument; as will appear from what follows.


Verse 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.

Nevertheless - q.d., 'Yet, though according to this sound principle it might have been supposed that mankind, from Adam to Moses, being under no law expressly and outwardly revealed, could not be held liable to death as breakers of law-even then,' Death reigned , [ ebasileusen (Greek #936)] - that is, 'held unresisted and universal sway,'

From Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's trangression.

But who are they? Infants (say some) who, being guiltless of actual sin, yet subject to death, must be sinners in a very different sense from Adam. (So Origen, Augustine, Melancthon, Beza, Edwards, Haldane, and others. But why should Infants be specially connected with the period "from Adam to Moses," since they die alike in every period? And if the apostle meant to express here the death of infants, why has he done it so enigmatically? Besides, the death of infants is comprehended in the universal mortality, on account of the first sin, so emphatically expressed in Romans 5:12 : what need, then, to specify it here? and why, if not necessary, should we presume it to be meant here, unless the language unmistakeably point to it-which it certainly does not? The meaning, then, must be, that 'death reigned from Adam to Moses, oven over those that had not, like Adam, transgressed against a positive commandment, threatening death to the disobedient.' (So most interpreters.) In this case, the particle "even," instead of specifying one particular class of those who lived "from Adam to Moses" (as the other view supposes), merely explains what it was that made the ease of those who died from Adam to Moses worthy of special notice-namely, that 'though unlike Adam, and all since Moses, those who lived between the two had no positive threatening of death for transgression, "nevertheless, death reigned even over them."

Who is the figure, [ tupos (G5179)] (or 'type') of him [that was] to come , [ tou (Greek #3588) mellontos (Greek #3195)] - 'of the future one,' Christ. The phrase is taken in a neuter sense-`the type of that which was to be,' or 'of the then future state of things'-by Erasmus, Bengel, Green, etc. But the mention twice in this same verse of Adam by name, and the thoroughly Pauline idea of a "second Adam" (as Meyer remarks) puts it beyond reasonable doubt that our version gives the true sense of the phrase here - "Him that was to come." The clause itself is inserted (as Alford says) on the first mention of the name "Adam," as the one man of whom he is speaking, to recall the purpose for which he is treating of him-as the figure of Christ. The point of analogy intended here is plainly the public character which both sustained, neither of the two being regarded in the divine procedure toward mankind as mere individual men, but both alike as representative men. Some take the proper supplement here to be, 'Him [that is] to come,' understanding the apostle speak from his own time, and to refer to Christ's Second Coming. (So Fritzsche, DeWette, Alford.) But this is unnatural, since the whole analogy here contemplated between the Second Adam and the First has been in full development ever since "God exalted Him to be a Prince and a Saviour," and it will only remain to be consummated at His Second Coming. The simple meaning is-as nearly all interpreters agree-that Adam is a type of Him who was to come after him in the same public character, and so to be the Second Adam."

Third: The Cases of Adam and Christ Present Points of Contrast as well as of Resemblance (Romans 5:15-17)


Verse 15

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence 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.

But ('Howbeit') not as the offence, [ paraptooma (G3900), 'trespass,'] so also is the free gift , [ to (Greek #3588) charisma (Greek #5486)] - 'the gift of grace,' or 'gracious gift:' in other words, 'The two cases present points of contrast as well as resemblance.'

First point of contrast: If God permitted the sin of the one Head of humanity to blight the many, much more may we rest assured, that through the merit of the other Head the many will be blessed

For if through the offence 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. Pity it is that our translators omitted the articles in this verse, as they throw so much light on the precise parties and things contrasted. Literally the verse runs thus, 'For if through the trespass of the one the many died (in that one man's first sin), much more did the grace of God, and the free gift by grace [ hee (Greek #3588) charis (Greek #5485) tou (Greek #3588) Theou (Greek #2316) kai (Greek #2532) hee (Greek #3588) doorea (Greek #1431) en (Greek #1722) chariti (Greek #5485)], even that of the one man Jesus Christ [ tee (Greek #3588) tou (Greek #3588) henos (Greek #1520) anthroopou (Greek #444) Ieesou (Greek #2424) Christou (Greek #5547)], abound unto the many.' By 'the many,' in both members of this comparison, is meant the mass of mankind, represented respectively by Adam and Christ; and the opposition of these "many" is neither to few men, nor to all men, but to 'the one man' who represented them respectively. It is of great importance to the right understanding of the whole argument to observe this. By 'the gift of grace,' or "the free gift," is meant-as in. Romans 5:17 - the glorious gift of justifying righteousness. This is expressly distinguished from "the grace of God," from which that gift is here said to flow, as the effect from the cause; and both are said to "abound" toward us in Christ, in what sense will appear in the next two verses.

Finally, The "much more," of the one case than the other, does not mean that we get much more of good by Christ than of evil by Adam (for it is not a case of quantity at all), but that we have much more reason to expect-or it is much more agreeable to our ideas of God-that the many should be benefited by the merit of one, than that they should suffer for the sin of one; and if the latter happened, much more may we assure ourselves of the former. [Fritzsche and Meyer connect en (Greek #1722) chariti (Greek #5485), not with what goes before, but with what follows-thus, 'much more did the grace of God and the free gift abound through grace,' or 'richly abound;' but this is unnatural. It has been observed that by the use of the dative ( too (Greek #3588) tou (Greek #3588) henos (Greek #1520) paraptoomati (Greek #3900) - instead of dia (Greek #1223) with the genitive, the causal sin of Adam is conceived of as identified with the agent himself, and invested with a sort of living energy, taking deadly effect on all his race. Perhaps this is to press the grammatical form a little too far; but there can be no doubt that it expresses the very idea intended the apostle.]

Second Point of Contrast: The Condemnation Was for One Sin, but the Justification Covers many Offences


Verse 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 offences unto justification.

And not as [it was] by one that sinned. [Instead of di' (Greek #1223) henos (Greek #1520) hamarteesantos (Greek #264), Griesbach reads hamarteematos (Greek #265), but on inferior authority; it bears marks, as Fritzsche says, of being a correction of the received reading: it is rejected by Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Tregelles]

So [is the] gift , [ to (Greek #3588) dooreema (Greek #1434)] - 'the bestowal,' 'the boon.' This is but a varied expression of what was said at the opening of the preceding verse-q.d., 'Now for another point of contrast,' For the judgment was by one to condemnation. Our translators have rendered two different prepositions in this verse by the same word "by" - thus: 'And not as it was by one that sinned [ di' (Greek #1223) henos (Greek #1520)] ... for the judgment was by one to condemnation' [ ex (Greek #1537) henos (Greek #1520)]. From this we may infer that they understood both statements to refer to 'one person'-namely, Adam (as several of the fathers, Fritzsche, DeWette, Meyer, Alford, Philippi, Lange). But since the contrast in this verse is plainly not between the two persons at all-Adam and Christ-but between the one offence which brought condemnation and the "many offences" which are covered in justification, it seems to us quite clear that the true rendering of the verse-as the two different prepositions employed seem indeed to indicate-is as follows: 'And not as it was by one that sinned [ di' (Greek #1223) henos (Greek #1520)], so is the boon; for the judgment was of one [offence or 'trespass'] to condemnation [ ek (Greek #1537) henos (Greek #1520)], but,' etc. (So the majority of interpreters.) The "of" in this case denotes the criminal source or procuring cause of the condemnation of the human race to death.

But the free gift , [ to (Greek #3588) charisma (Greek #5486)] - 'the the gift of grace,' or 'the gracious gift.'

Is of many offences ('trespasses') unto justification , [ ek (Greek #1537) polloon (Greek #4183) hamarteematoon (Greek #265) eis (Greek #1519) dikaiooma (Greek #1345)]. This form of the word "justification" [ dikaiooma (Greek #1345)] signifies, 'what is ordained' or 'decreed,' the 'sentence pronounced;' thus differing from the more usual form [ dikaioosunee (Greek #1343)], which signifies the state, habit, or quality of him who is 'just' [ dikaios (Greek #1342)]. Here it is used in its strict sense, to denote the righteous acquittal pronounced upon those on whom the 'gift of grace' [ charisma (Greek #5486)] has been conferred. The expression 'of many trespasses'-evidently suggested by the foregoing one 'of one trespass'-presents the trespasses covered in justification in a special light, as in some sense the procuring cause of the glorious remedy; as if the cry of these countless offences had gone up to heaven, but instead of drawing down vengeance, had wakened the divine compassions, and given birth to the wondrous provision of grace in Christ Jesus. The whole statement, then, amounts to this: 'The condemnation by Adam was for one sin; but the justification by Christ is an absolution not only from the guilt of that flint offence, mysteriously attaching to every individual of the race, but from the countless offences into which, as a germ lodged in the bosom of every child of Adam, it unfolds itself in his life.' This is the meaning of what the next verse tells us of, 'grace abounding toward us in the abundance of the gift of righteousness.' It is a grace not only rich in its character, but rich in detail; a "righteousness" not only rich in a complete justification of the guilty, condemned sinner, but rich in the amplitude of the ground which it covers, leaving no one sin of any of the justified uncancelled, but making him, though loaded with the guilt of myriads of offences, "the righteousness of God in Christ!"


Verse 17

For if by one man's offence 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.)

For if by one man's offence. (This reading is preferable to Tischendorf's-`by one offence' [ en (Greek #1722) heni (Greek #1520) paraptoomati (Greek #3900)] - which is supported by A D E F G, two copies of the Old Latin, and no other authorities: whereas the received reading is supported by 'Aleph (') B C K L, many cursives, two copies of the Old Latin, the Vulgate-in unius delicto-both Syriac versions, and the Memphitic, and most of the fathers. Lachmann and Tregelles retain it, and most critics prefer it.) Death reigned by ('the') one; much more they which receive ('the') abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness - that is, 'justifying righteousness,'

Shall reign in life by one ('through the one'), Jesus Christ. We have here the two ideas of Romans 5:15-16 sublimely combined into one, as if the subject had grown upon the apostle as he advanced in his comparison of the two cases. Here, for the first time in this section, does he speak of that LIFE which springs out of justification, in contrast with the death which springs from sin and follows condemnation. The proper idea, therefore, of the word "life" here is, 'Right to live'-`Righteous life'-life possessed and enjoyed with the good will, and in conformity with the eternal law, of "Him that sitteth on the Throne;" life, therefore, in its widest sense-life in the whole man and throughout the whole duration of human existence, the life of blissful and loving relationship to God in soul and body forever and ever. It is worthy of note, too, that while he says death "reigned over" us through Adam, he does not say Life 'reigns over us' through Christ; lest he should seem to invest this new life with the very attribute of the death-that of fell and malignant tyranny-of which we were the hapless victims.

Nor does he say Life reigns in us, which would have been a Scriptural enough idea; but, which is much more pregnant, "We shall reign in life." While freedom and might are implied in the figure of 'reigning,' 'life' is represented as the glorious territory or atmosphere of that reign. And by recurring to the idea of Romans 5:16 - as to the "many offences" whose complete pardon shows "the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness" - the whole statement amounts to this: 'If one man's one offence let loose against us the tyrant power of Death, to hold us as its victims in helpless bondage, "much more," when we stand forth enriched with God's "abounding grace," and in the beauty of a complete absolution from countless offences, shall we expatiate in a life divinely owned and legally secured, "reigning" in exultant freedom and unchallenged might, through that other matchless "One," Jesus Christ!' (On the import of the future tense in this last clause, see the notes at Romans 5:19 and Romans 6:5.)

Fourth: To sum up all in one word-Humanity owes its ruin and its recovery to TWO MEN: condemnation to the one, justification to the other; death to the one, life to the other (Romans 5:18-19)


Verse 18

Therefore as by the offence 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.

Therefore , [ ara (Greek #686) oun (Greek #3767)] - or, 'Now then;' the matter standing as we have thus at length shown [rebus ita comparatis: ara (Greek #686) has respect rather to the internal, oun (Greek #3767) more to the external cause (says Klotz ad Devar, quoted by Meyer)]. Thus the apostle explicitly resumes the unfinished comparison of Romans 5:12, in order to give formally the concluding member of it, which had been done once and again substantially in the intermediate verses.

As by the offence (or 'trespass') of one [judgment came] - or rather, 'it came,'

Upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness , [ dikaioomatos (Greek #1345)]

Of one [the free gift came] - rather, 'it came,' Upon all men unto justification [ dikaioosin (Greek #1347)] of life or, 'it resulted in' this.

But the marginal rendering of this verse is equally admissible: 'as by one trespass ... so by one righteousness' [ di' (Greek #1223) henos (Greek #1520) paraptoomatos (Greek #3900) ... di' (Greek #1223) henos (Greek #1520) dikaioomatos (Greek #1345)]. The argument in favour of this sense is the absence of the article in both clauses before "one," and the similar expression in Romans 5:16, "the judgment was of one [offence] to condemnation" - as we have explained that clause. Accordingly many interpreters pronounce for it (as Beza, Grotius, Ferme, Locke, DeWette, Meyer, Conybeare, Alford, Mehring, Webster and Wilkinson, the Revised Version, Jowett, Wordsworth, Green). But the objections to it are:

(1) That the comparison here is between the persons, not the acts-between the many's condemnation for the one's offence and the many's justification through the one's righteousness;

(2) That though "one righteousness" may fitly enough-perhaps even sublimely-express the oneness of Christ's whole work, or the divine acceptance of it [ dikaiooma (Greek #1345)] as the meritorious ground of justification, it is an expression nowhere else used, and scarcely in conformity with the strain of the reasoning in this section;

(3) That after the abundant recurrence of the word "one" in a masculine sense, to denote the persons respectively of Adam and Christ, the absence of the article in this case need not require us to take the word in a neuter sense, if otherwise times is ground to think that the reference is to Adam and Christ

In view of all this, though formerly inclined to the sense of 'one offence' and 'one righteousness,' we now rather prefer the sense of one own version (in favour of which are the Vulgate, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Bengel, Fritzsche, Tholuck, Philippi, Hodge, Lange). It may be added that some (as Alford, and the authors of the Revised Version) take the form here translated "righteousness" [ dikaiooma (Greek #1345) - here apparently suggested by the previous paraptooma (Greek #3900)] to mean 'one righteous act;' and Green renders it 'one achievement of righteousness.' But the idea of a 'decree' or 'sentence'-which this form certainly conveys-is sufficiently preserved if we understand "the righteousness of one" here to mean the whole work of Christ considered as judicially pronounced upon and divinely accepted.

Finally, the lofty expression "justification of life" is just a vivid combination of two distinct ideas already expatiated upon, and means 'justification entitling to, and issuing in, the rightful possession and enjoyment of life' [ eis (Greek #1519) dikaioosin (Greek #1347) zooees (Greek #2222) - the 'genitive of destination:' dikaioosis (Greek #1347) is here distinguished from dikaiooma (Greek #1345), as the act of justifying is from the result].


Verse 19

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

For as by [`the'] one man's disobedience [`the'] many were made , [ katestatheesan (Greek #2525)] - 'constituted? or 'held to be,' Sinners; so by the obedience of [`the'] one shall [`the'] many be made, [ katastatheesontai (G2525)] righteous , [ parakoee (Greek #3876) ... hupakoee (Greek #5218). The latter word doubtless here suggested the use of the former-here only in this section-to contrast with it.] On this great verse observe, first, that by the "obedience" of Christ here is plainly meant more than what divines calls His active obedience, as distinguished from His sufferings and death; it is the entire work of Christ in its obediential character. Our Lord Himself represents even His death as His great act of obedience to the Father: "This commandment (i:e., to lay down and resume His life) have I received of my Father" (John 10:18).

Second, The significant word [ kathisteemi (Greek #2525)] twice here rendered "made," does not signify to 'work a change upon' a person or thing, but to 'establish,' 'constitute,' or 'ordain,' as will be seen from all the places where it is used. Here, accordingly, it is intended to express that judicial act which holds men, in virtue of their connection with Adam, as sinners; and in connection with Christ, as righteous.

Third, The change of tense from the past to the future-`as through Adam we were made sinners, so through Christ we shall be made righteous'-delightfully expresses the enduring character of the act, and of the economy to which such acts belong, in contrast with the ruin, forever past, of believers in Adam. (See the note at Romans 6:5.)

Fourth, The "all men" of Romans 5:18, and the "many" of Romans 5:19, are the same party, though under a slightly different aspect. In the latter case the contrast is between the one representative (Adam-Christ) and the many whom he represented; in the former case, it is between the one head (Adam-Christ) and the race, affected for death and life respectively by the actings of that one. Only in this latter case (as Meyer here clearly recognizes) it is the redeemed family of man that is alone in view; it is Humanity as actually lost, but also as actually saved-as ruined and recovered. Such as refuse to fall in with the high purpose of God to constitute His Son a 'second Adam,' the Head of a new race-and so, as impenitent and unbelieving, finally perish-have no place in this section of the Epistle, whose sole object is to show how God repairs in the Second Adam the evil done by the First.

Thus the doctrine of universal restoration has no place here. Thus, too, the forced interpretation (of a great many expositors, as Alford) by which the 'justification of all' is made to mean a justification merely in possibility and offer to all, and the 'justification of the many' to mean the actual justification of as many as believe, is completely avoided. And thus, finally, the harshness of comparing a whole fallen family with a recovered part is gotten rid of. However true it be in fact that part of mankind are not saved, this is not the aspect in which the subject is here presented. It is totals that are compared and contrasted; and it is the same total in two successive conditions-namely, the human race as ruined in Adam and recovered in Christ.

Fifth: But if the whole purposes of God toward men center in Adam and Christ, where does the Law come in, and what was its use? It was given to reveal more fully the Ruin that came by the one and the Recovery brought in by the other (Romans 5:20-21)


Verse 20

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: Moreover the law entered , [ pareiseelthen (Greek #3922)] - 'entered incidentally' or 'parenthetically.' It is important 'to preserve this shade of meaning, which the compound word certainly conveys, and which-though not always intended to be pressed-was here, we think, plainly designed to be conveyed. Several of the Greek fathers advert to it; the Vulgate expresses it [subintravit]; and Calvin [intervenit]. Beza, whom our version has done ill here in following, sinks it [introiit]; but it is recognized by nearly every modern critic, from Erasmus downward. Bengel, with his usual acuteness, notices that this compound verb-`the law entered subordinately'-is designed as the antithesis to the simple one, "sin entered," in Romans 5:12; adding, 'Sin is older than the law.' In Galatians 2:4 the same word is by our translators properly rendered, "came in privily." The meaning, then, here is, that the promulgatior of the law at Sinai was no primary or essential feature of the divine plan, but it was "added" (Galatians 3:19) for a subordinate purpose-the more fully to reveal the evil occasioned by Adam, and the need and glory of the remedy by Christ.

That the offence ('the trespass') - meaning, as throughout all this section, 'the one first transgression of Adam,'

Might abound , [ pleonasee (Greek #4121)] - literally, 'might be more,' or 'be multiplied.' The immediate reference is not to the recognition and sense of sin by men themselves, although that is the natural result [for, as Philippi says, the apostle does not write hina (Greek #2443) pleonasee (Greek #4121) hee (Greek #3588) epignoosis (Greek #1922) tees (Greek #3588) hamartias (Greek #266)]. God intended, says the apostle, by the giving of the law to make it appear that the multiplied breaches of it which would certainly ensue were but the varied activity of that first transgression, and so to show what a fearful thing that first sin was-as not only "entering into the world," but becoming the active principle and constitutive character of the whole race. It is as if the apostle had said, 'All our multitudinous breaches of the law are nothing but that one first offence, lodged mysteriously in the bosom of every child of Adam as an offending principle, and multiplying itself into myriads of particular offences in the life of each.' What was one act of disobedience in the head has been converted into a vital and virulent principle of disobedience in all the members of the human family, whose every act of willful rebellion proclaims itself the child of the original transgression.

But where sin abounded ('was multiplied'), grace did much more abound , [ hupereperisseusen (Greek #5248)] - rather, 'did exceedingly abound,' or 'superabound.' The comparison here is between the multiplication of one offence into countless transgressions, and such an overflow of grace as more than meets that appalling case.


Verse 21

That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

That as sin hath reigned - `That as sin reigned' ebasileusen (Greek #936)]. Observe here the marked change in the term employed to express the great original transgression. It is no longer "the offence" or 'trespass'-that view of the matter has been sufficiently illustrated-but, as better befitted this comprehensive and sublime summation of the whole matter, the great general term SIN, with which this section opened, is here resumed.

Unto death. Our version has here followed Luther's and Beza's translation; though the words [ en (Greek #1722) too (Greek #3588) thanatoo (Greek #2288)] signify 'in death.' But even those who render the words thus rightly seem for the most part to understand it as meaning 'through death' (and so Calvin translates it), as opposed to the Grace which in the next clause is said to reign "through righteousness." But as the prepositions are not the same, so this makes quite a wrong antithesis, and brings out at the best a very dubious sentiment. The true sense seems clear on the face of the words-`that as Sin reached its uttermost end "in death," and thus revelled (so to speak) in the complete destruction of its victims,'

Even so might grace reign. In Romans 5:14 we had the reign of death of the fallen in Adam, and in Romans 5:17 the reign in life of the justified in Christ. Here we have the reign of the mighty causes of both these-of SIN, which clothes Death as a Sovereign with venomous power (1 Corinthians 15:56) and with awful authority (Romans 6:23), and of GRACE, the grace which originated the scheme of salvation, the grace which "sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world," the grace which "made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin," the grace which "makes us to be the righteousness of God in Him;" so that "we who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness do reign in life by One, Jesus Christ!"

Through righteousness - not ours certainly ('the obedience of Christians,' to use the wretched language of Grotius); nor yet exactly 'justification' (as Stuart, etc.), but rather, 'the justifying righteousness of Christ' (as Beza, Alford, Philippi, and, in substance, Olshausen, Meyer); the same which in Romans 5:19 is called His "obedience," meaning His whole mediatorial work in the flesh. This is here represented as the righteous medium through which Grace reaches its objects and attains all its ends, the stable throne from which Grace as a Sovereign dispenses its saving benefits to as many as are brought under its benign sway.

Unto eternal life - which is Salvation in its highest form and fullest development forever,

By Jesus Christ our Lord. Thus, on that "Name which is above every name" the echoes of this hymn to the glory of "Grace" die away, and "Jesus is left alone."

The profound and inestimable teaching of this golden section of our Epistle has been somewhat obscured, we fear, by the unusual quantity of nice verbal criticism which it seemed to require, and the necessity of distinguishing some theological ideas in it which are apt to be confounded. It may not be superfluous, therefore, to bring it out more fully by the following.

Remarks:

(1) If this section do not teach that the whole race of Adam, standing in him as their federal head, 'sinned in him and fell with him in his first transgression,' we may despair of any intelligible exposition of it. The apostle, after saying that Adam's sin introduced death into the world, does not say "and so death passed upon all men, for that" Adam "sinned," but "for that all sinned."

Thus, according to the teaching of the apostle, 'the death of all is for the sin of all;' and as this cannot mean the personal sins of each individual, but some sin with which unconscious infants are charged equally with adults, it can mean nothing but the one 'first transgression' of their common head, regarded as the sin of each of his race, and punished, as such, with death. It is vain to start back from this imputation to all of the guilt of Adam's first sin, as wearing the appearance of injustice. For not only are all other theories liable to the same objection in some other form-besides being inconsistent with the text-but the actual facts of human nature, which none dispute, and which cannot be explained away, involve essentially the same difficulties as the great principle on which the apostle here explains them. Whereas, if we admit this principle, on the authority of our apostle, a flood of light is at once thrown upon certain features of the divine procedure, and certain portions of the divine oracles, which otherwise are involved in much darkness; and if the principle itself seem hard to digest, it is not harder than the existence of evil, which as a fact admits of no dispute, but as a feature in the divine administration admits of no explanation in the present state.

(2) What is commonly called original sin-or that depraved tendency to evil with which every child of Adam comes into the world-is not formally treated of in this section; and even in the seventh chapter it is rather its nature and operations than its connection with the first sin which is handled. But indirectly, this section bears indubitably testimony to it, representing the one original offence-unlike every other-as having an enduring vitality in the bosom of every child of Adam, as a principle of disobedience, whose origin and virulence have gotten it the familiar name of 'original sin.'

(3) In what sense is the word "death" used throughout this section? Not certainly as mere temporal death, as Arminian and, in general, all shallow commentators affirm. For as Christ came to undo what Adam did-and that is all comprehended in the word "death" - it would hence follow that Christ has merely dissolved the sentence by which soul and body are parted in death; in other words, merely procured the resurrection of the body. But the New Testament throughout teaches that the Salvation of Christ is from a vastly more comprehensive "death" than that. Yet neither is death here used merely in the sense of penal evil-that is, 'any evil inflicted in punishment of sin and for the support of law' (according to Hodge). This seems to us a great deal too indefinite, making death a mere figure of speech to denote 'penal evil' in general-an idea foreign, as we think, to the simplicity of Scripture-or at least making death, strictly so called, only one part of the thing meant by it, which ought not to be resorted to if a more simple and natural explanation can be found.

By "death," then, in this section, we understand the sinner's destruction in the only sense in which he is capable of it. Even temporal death is called "destruction" (Deuteronomy 7:23; 1 Samuel 5:11, etc.), as extinguishing all that men regard as life. But a destruction extending to the soul as well as the body, and into the future world, is clearly expressed in such passages as Matthew 7:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Peter 3:16. This is the penal "death" of our section; and in this all-comprehensive view of it we retain its proper sense. Life-as a state of enjoyment of the favour of God, of pure fellowship with Him, and voluntary subjection to Him-is a blighted thing from the moment that sin is found in the creature's skirts: in that sense the threatening, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die," was carried into immediate effect in the case of Adam when he fell, who was thenceforward "dead while he lived." Such are all his posterity from their birth.

The separation of soul and body in temporal death carries the "sinner's destruction" a stage further; dissolving his connection with that world out of which he extracted a pleasurable, though unblest, existence, and ushering him into the presence of his Judge-first as a disembodied spirit, but ultimately in the body, too, in an enduring condition - "to be punished (and this is the final state) with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." This final extinction in soul and body of all that constitutes life, but yet eternal consciousness of a blighted existence-this, in its amplest and most awful sense, is "DEATH!" Not that Adam understood all that. It is enough that he understood "the day" of his disobedience to be the terminating period of his blissful "life." In that simple idea was wrapt up all the rest. That he should comprehend its details was not necessary. Nor is it necessary to suppose all that to be intended in every passage of Scripture where the word occurs. Enough that all we have described is in the bosom of the thing, and will be realized in as many as are not the happy subjects of the Reign of Grace. Beyond doubt, the whole of this is intended in such sublime and comprehensive passages as this: "God ... gave His ... Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not PERISH, but have everlasting LIFE" (John 3:16). And should not the untold horrors of that "DEATH" - already "reigning over" all that are not in Christ, and hastening to its consummation-quicken our flight into "the Second Adam," that having "received the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness we may reign in LIFE by the One, Jesus Christ"?

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Romans 5:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/romans-5.html. 1871-8.

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