The Epistle to the Romans

By David Brown

Chapter 7

 

CHAPTER V.-VIII.—THE FRUITS OF JUSTIFICATION.

1 Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God

2 through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice

3 in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh

4 patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope:

5 and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given

6 unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due

7 time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good

8 man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ

9 died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his

10 blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be

11 saved by his life: and not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

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

13 have sinned:—for until the law sin was in the world: but sin

14 is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the

15 figure of him that was to come. 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.

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

17 many offences unto justification. 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

18 life by one, Jesus Christ. 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

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

20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

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

THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE JUSTIFIED (CHAP. V. 1-11).

The first great head of his subject, the proof and illustration 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 standing and privilege. 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 in combination. The standing and privileges of the justified are embraced in four particulars, as follows:—

First: Peace with God (1, 2). 1. Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God1—that is, not 'We have ceased to be in hostility to God,' but 'God has ceased to be in judicial hostility to us'—is reconciled to us, is at peace with us, through Jesus Christ, as the foregoing argument makes quite plain. Nor is it that peace of conscience which springs from reconciliation to God, but the reconciliation itself which is here meant. 2. through whom also we have had our access into this grace wherein we stand. This is not a second blessing resulting from justification, but only a fuller statement of the whole condition of the justified believer. '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 justification, "wherein we stand," and which is the ground of that peace.' We must not 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, Jesus Christ acting this part for us with God (as in Eph. ii. 18, iii. 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] rejoice2 in the hope of the glory of God. The word here rendered "rejoice" 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. 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," ver. 4.)

Third: Triumph in tribulation (3). 3. And not only so, but we glory in our 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 twenty-one times, eleven 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 ch. viii. 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 i. 21, 22, ii. 10), or the calm waiting for promised good till His time to bestow it come (Heb. x. 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, 4. and patience worketh proof. So the word is rendered in 2 Cor. ii. 9, xiii. 3; Phil. ii. 22. It denotes either the process of testing, or the result of the process, as here—experimental evidence that we have "believed through grace." and proof, hope—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. 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 "(ver. 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 "our Lord Jesus Christ;" 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. "5. And hope putteth not to shame—as empty hopes always do; is not such as to disappoint those in whose bosoms it springs up as the proper consequence of perceived justification (see ch. ix. 33, x. 11). because the love of God—not our love to God, but God's love to us, as is clear from ver. 8, and, indeed, from the whole strain of these six verses, is shed abroad, literally, 'poured out;' a lively and familiar figure for a 'rich' or 'copious communication '(see the same word in Mark ii. 22, of wine; and of the Holy Spirit, in Acts ii. 17, 33, x. 45; Tit. iii. 6). in our hearts—which are thus, as it were, bedewed with it, by the Holy Ghost, which 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 more probably when each of us became Christ's (see John vii. 38, 39, where the one is viewed as involving the other). It should be observed that here we have the first mention in this Epistle of the Holy Ghost, whose work in believers is so fully treated in chapter viii. The argument of the apostle is to the following effect: 1 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 Ghost 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. 6. For while we were yet powerless—to please or reconcile ourselves to God, in due season—"when the fulness of the time was come" (Gal. iv. 4), Christ died for the ungodly.3 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" (ch. iv. 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" —(ox those whose character and state were repugnant to His nature and offensive to the eyes of His glory. The preposition here rendered "for" does not mean 1 instead,' or 'in the place of,' 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 styled by our Lord Himself (Matt. xx. 28), a "Ransom "in the stead of many, and a Propitiatory Sacrifice (ch. iii. 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 word, the one preposition involves, in a great many passages (such as 2 Cor. v. 15, 20, 21; Gal. iii. 13; 1 Pet. iii. 18), the idea of the other. 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 powerless" (replies the apostle). But in what sense? Not in the sense of impotence to obey the law of God, according to most critics—that is not the point here—but impotence to do what he says God sent His Son to accomplish, namely, to "justify "us (ver. 9), or "reconcile us to God "(ver. 10). The meaning here, then, of our being "powerless " is, that we were in a state of passive helplessness to deliver ourselves out of our perishing condition as sinners. THIRD, When was this done? "In due season "is the reply; when the necessity for it was affectingly brought to light (1 Cor. i. 21), and when the august preparations for it were all completed (Gal. iv. 4; Heb. i. 2, ix. 26). On the first of these three properties of God's love to us, in the gift of His Son, the apostle now proceeds to enlarge.

7. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: (I say 'scarcely') for peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die. To explain this of two qualities—dying for what is right and good (as Luther does) is most unnatural; and to take the 'righteous 'and 'good 'man to refer to the same thing—of dying for some worthy character (as Calvin and others do), is flat. The sense given in our A. V. is 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. 'I said "scarcely" for in behalf of a benefactor to society one does, perhaps, meet with such a case.' 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.

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. 8. But God commendeth—'setteth forth,' 'displayeth' (see the same word in ch. iii. 5, xvi. 1; 2 Cor. iii. 1), his own love towards us 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 one die for even 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 manifest 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. But in fact the death of 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.

Now comes the overpowering contrast, emphatically redoubled. 9. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from wrath through him. 10. For if, while we were enemies—not in the active sense, as persons 'cherishing enmity towards God,' but obviously in the passive sense, as 'objects of God's righteous displeasure and dislike, in respect of our sinful character,' we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled to God, 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 towards believers, from the moment of justification, when the wrath of God is turned away from them, till 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 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 ( majore ad minus) is the irresistible fact that the thing which has been done was at once inconceivably difficult and repellent, whereas what has to be done is in all respects the reverse. For our "justification" cost Him "His blood," but that has been already done; 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 so dear, and which had to be wrought for persons incapable of the least sympathy either with His love or His labours in their behalf—if this is already completed, how much more will He do all that remains to be done, since it has to be done, not by death - agonies any more, but in untroubled "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!'

Notes.—1. Though the justification of believers is sometimes ascribed to the "blood" of Christ (as in ver. 9), and sometimes to His "obedience" (as in ver. 19), or—combining both into one—to His "righteousness" (as in ver. 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 towards justification in that, to the exclusion of the other parts of Christ's mediatorial work. Thus, in vers. 9 and 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 vers. 18 and 19, his object being to contrast what Christ has done for us with the effects of Adam's transgression in placing his seed in the condition of sinners, he naturally fastens on the obediential character of Christ's work, saying, "even so by the obedience of the 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. 2. 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.

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

11. and not only so, but we also rejoice ('glory,' 'triumph')4 in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the 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 towards God, after obtaining 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 Himself takes the place of dread, and now He appears to us "altogether lovely!"

12-21. Comparison and contrast between Adam and Christ in their relation to the human family.

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 if we state, in the form of a heading, 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 on the one hand that deed of Adam which has involved all his posterity in its penal consequences; and, on the other hand, to express 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, used with reference to the Fall, are, First, "Therm"—vers. 12,20, 21; Second, "The transgression"—ver. 14; Third, "The offence" or rather 'trespass'—vers. 15 (twice), 16, 18, 20; Fourth, "The disobedience"—ver. 19. The first word, "sin"—from the verb ' 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 two hundred times, and in the LXX. 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 ver. 12) to start the comparison, and again (in ver. 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 'to fall beside' or 'aside,' and hence 'to deviate'—these 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, as it does, 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," or rather 'the gift of grace'—vers. 15, 16; Second, What is rendered 'the gift,' but better rendered, 'the free gift'—vers. 15, 17; and, Third, What is also rendered "the gift"—'the bestowal' or 'the boon'—ver. 16. These words speak for themselves, expressing the absolutely gratuitous character of the whole fruits of redemption by the Second Adam. \Ye are now prepared to take the verses of this section in detail.

First: Adam's first sin of all mankind, and the procuring cause of their death. 12. Wherefore, 'Things being so,' as they have been shewn 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 the immediately preceding 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 through one man (Adam) sin entered into the world. 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 shews 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 means 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, and so death passed unto all men—literally, 'went through,' or came to attach to the whole human race, for that all sinned—in that one first sin.

Note.—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, "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! "

One little word in this verse has given rise to so much troublesome discussion and diversity of interpretation—the word "as" 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 ere we can fix satisfactorily its precise import here. Is this, then, meant to denote the first member of a comparison? If so, where is the second member? (i) Some see no comparison here at all, and so translate 'Wherefore (it is) like as by one man,' etc. 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; "translating "even so "instead of "and so." But this makes bad Greek. Others find it in the word and ("and 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. Of other solutions we need only mention that of most interpreters, (3) that the second member of the comparison is to be found in vers. 18, 19; each of these verses beginning a resumption of the first member of the comparison, nearly as in ver. 12, and ending with a full and formal completion of it: 'Therefore, as by the offence of one,' etc., 'even so by the righteousness of one,' etc.—'For as by one man's disobedience,' etc., 'so by the obedience of one,' etc.

To us there appears to be no real difference between any of the views which recognise in ver. 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 he 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 till 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 vers. 18 and 19, it culminates in a redoubled statement, which, for clearness and comprehensiveness, leaves nothing to be desired. If, then, we grant 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 vigorous and reiterated 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 imputation of sin during all that period; and consequently the existence of a law, other than that of Moses, of which sin is the breach (13, 14). 13. For until (the giving of) the law sin was in the world—the same sin as that meant in ver. 12, whose penalty is death, as is obvious from what immediately follows, but sin is not imputed where there is no law (the same statement as in iv. 15, and see I John iii. 4). It is surprising that so sagacious an interpreter as Calvin should have followed Luther here (as he himself has been followed by many others) 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, shews them to have been 'reckoned 'sinners, and consequently violators of some Divine law other than that of Moses. 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. 14. Nevertheless—'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, held unresisted and universal sway, from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression.

But who are they? Infants (say some) who, being guiltless of actual sin, and yet subject to death, must be sinners in a very different sense from Adam. But why should infants be specially connected with the period •'from Adam to Moses," since infants 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 ver. 12: what need, then, to specify it here? and why 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, even over those that had not, like Adam, transgressed against a positive commandment, threatening death to the disobedient.' 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 case 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 periods had no positive threatening of death for transgression, nevertheless, death reigned even over them.' who is the figure of him that was to come—the Second Adam. This parenthetical clause is inserted here (as has been properly remarked) 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 is plainly the public character which both sustained, neither of the two being regarded in the Divine procedure towards 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 to speak from his own time, and to refer to Christ's Second Coming. 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, 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 (15-17). 15. But ('Howbeit') not as the trespass, so also is the free gift—' 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 by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the 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. By 'the many,' in both members of this comparison, is meant the mass of mankind, represented respectively by Adam and Christ j 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 ver. 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" towards 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 has happened, much more may we assure ourselves of the former. It has been observed that by the use of the Greek dative (instead of the usual form 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 by the apostle.

Second point of contrast: The condemnation was for one sin, hit the justification covers many offences. 16. And not as through one that sinned, so is the gift—' the bestowal,' 'the boon.' This is but a varied expression of what was said in the preceding verse, but it is simply to introduce another point of contrast, for the judgment came of one unto condemnation. The "of" here denotes the criminal source or procuring cause of the condemnation of the human race to death, but the free gift came of many trespasses unto justification. The form of the word here used is not the usual one for "justification" (or that which signifies the state, habit, or quality of him who is "just" or "righteous"), but that which signifies what is "ordained" or "decreed;" the 'sentence pronounced.' Accordingly, its sense here is 'the righteous acquittal' pronounced upon those on whom the 'gift of grace '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 peculiar 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 provisions 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 first 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 verse tells us of 'grace abounding towards 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 ore sin of any of the justified person uncancelled, but making him, though loaded with the guilt of myriads of offences, "the righteousness of God in Christ."

17. For if by the trespass of the one death reigned through the one; much more shall they who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, even Jesus Christ. We have here the two ideas of vers. 15 and 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 for ever 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 ofver. 16 as to the "many offences "whose complete pardon shews "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 on ver. 19 and ch. vi. 5.)

Fourth: To sum up all in one word—To TWO MEN Humanity owes its ruin and its recovery: condemnation to the one, justification to the other; death to the one, life to the other (18, 19). 18. So then—' The matter standing as we have thus at length shewn.' In this way the apostle here explicitly resumes the unfinished comparison of ver. 12, in order to give formally the concluding member of it, though this had been done once and again substantially in the intermediate verses. as through one trespass the judgment came (or simply 'it came ') unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness (the free gift came, or 'it came ') unto all men to justification of life—each "act" respectively resulted in this. There is not a little to be said for the sense given to this verse in our A.V.—referring the comparison or contrast to the two persons, Adam and Christ; and at one time we thought it the true sense. But beyond doubt, the only natural sense of the Greek is what we have now given (as in the R.V.) In this case, the whole righteousness wrought out mediatorially by Christ—His "obedience unto death"—is gathered up into "one" whole "act of righteousness," with the view of standing more directly over against the "one trespass" of Adam. 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.' 19. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners—'constituted' or 'held to be' sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many he made righteous. On this great verse observe, first, that by the "obedience" of Christ here is plainly meant more than what divines call 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 x. 18). Second, The significant word 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, for ever past, of believers in Adam. (See on ch. vi. 5.) Fourth, The "all men" of ver. 18, and the "many" of ver. 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 recognises) 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 shew 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) 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 got 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 purpose of God towards men centres 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 (20, 21). 20. The law entered—'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 plainly designed to he conveyed. 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 ver. 12; adding, 'Sin is older than the law.' In Gal. ii. 4 the same word is by our translators properly rendered, "came in privily." The meaning, then, here is, that the promulgation of the law of Sinai was no primary or essential feature of the Divine plan, but it was "added" (Gal. iii. 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 trespass—meaning, as throughout all this section, 'the one first transgression of Adam,' might abound—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. 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 shew 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 wilful rebellion proclaims itself the child of the original transgression.

But where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly. 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. 21. that as sin reigned. Observe here the marked change in the term employed to express the great original transgression. It is no longer '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, in death—not "unto death "as our A. V. after Beza. The word with which this section opened is here resumed. The true sense is 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 ver. 14 we had the reign of death of the fallen in Adam, and in ver. 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 Cor. xv. 56) and with awful authority (ch. vi. 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, nor yet exactly 'justification,' but rather, ' the justifying righteousness of Christ,' the same which in vcr. 19 is called His "obedience," meaning His whole mediatorial work in the flesh. Th! s 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 for ever, 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 notes.

Notes.—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 indubitable 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 shallow commentators affirm. For since 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 teaching of the New Testament throughout regarding the salvation of Christ reaches far beyond the resurrection of the body. At the same time, neither is the word "death "here to be taken (with Hodge) in the loose sense of 'penal evil,' or 'any evil inflicted for the punishment of sin and for the support of law.' This is far too indefinite, making "death" a mere figure of speech to denote 'penal evil' in general, an idea foreign to the simplicity of Scripture. By "death "here we are to understand the sinner's destruction—in the only sense in which he is capable of destruction. Even temporal death is called "destruction" (Deut. vii. 23; I Sam. v. 11, etc.)—as extinguishing all that men regard as life. But a further destruction—extending to the soul as well as the body, and reaching into the future world—is clearly indicated in such passages as Matt. vii. 13; 2 Thess. i. 9; 2 Pet. iii. 16. This is the penal "death" of our section; and only when viewed in this all-comprehensive sense does it retain its proper meaning. From the moment that sin is voluntarily cherished and chosen, and found in the sinner's skirts, "life"—in the favour of God, in fellowship with God, in voluntary and delighted subjection to God—is a blighted thing. In this sense the bitterness of that word, "In the day that thou eatest thou shalt surely die," was certainly experienced by Adam as soon as he fell, for he "fled from the presence of the Lord God" as soon as he "heard His voice in the garden." From thenceforward, as head of the human race, he was "dead while he lived." When, however, the sinner dies, the separation of soul and body which then takes place carries his "destruction" a stage further; dissolving his connection with all those scenes out of which he extracted a pleasurable but unblest existence, dragging him before his Judge, as a disembodied spirit first, but at length in the body too, to be "punished 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 "in its only worthy sense, but yet, eternal consciousness of a blighted existence—this, in its amplest and most awful sense, is "death." Not that Adam understood all that. Enough if he knew that "the day "of his disobedience was to be the close of his blissful "life." That he should understand all that was wrapt up in that single word "die," was not necessary. Nor need we suppose all that to be intended in every passage where the word "death "occurs. Enough that all this is in the bosom of the thing, and will be realized by as many as refuse to be subjects of the blessed Reign of Grace. Beyond all doubt, the whole of this is intended in such sublime and comprehensive passages as this one: "God. . . gave His Son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish but have everlasting life" (John iii. 16). And should not the untold horrors of such a "death"—already hanging overall who have not taken flight into 'the Second Adam,' hasten that momentous step; that so, having "received the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness," they also may "reign in life by the One, Jesus Christ"?

 

1) If we are to be guided by external evidence, there can be no doubt that we ought to read here (with the Revised Version), "Let us have peace with God." But (1) beyond all doubt the design of this whole section is declaratory, not hortatory—to state, as matter of fact, the blessings resulting to the believer from his justification; and as all the blessings next enumerated are put (as will appear) in the indicative or declaratory form, is it not most unnatural to suppose that the very first one is announced, not by saying, "We have peace with God," but by saying, "Let us have it "? May we not confidently appeal to every impartial student of the passage whether this can be supposed? (2) Those fathers of the Church who are quoted as authorities for the subjunctive or hortatory reading, only shew by their comments upon it how ill they understood what "peace" the apostle is here speaking of, and therefore how ill entitled they are to be heard on the subject. For example, Chrysostom says, "Let us have peace with God, that is, Let us no longer sin"! And to much the same effect Origen. (3) The difference between the two readings lies not even in a single letter, but in the short and the long forms of one and the same letter (o short and o long)—an interchange notoriously common with the scribes. On these three grounds we have no hesitation in adhering (with some of the most competent judges in such matters) to the received text and Authorised Version in this important clause.

2) With a consistency which in this case is to be regretted, the Revised Version throws this and the following clause out of the declaratory into the hortatory form—taking the Greek verb "rejoice" as a subjunctive, instead of (as every version and every commentary, so far as v/e know, does) the contracted form of the indicative mood. Everything here is plainly declaratory.

3) There is some confusion in the readings, with respect to the little word "yet" (twice inserted in the best mss.—at the beginning of the verse and again before "in due season "). But the sense is not affected.

4) Gr. 'rejoicing' or 'boasting;' the construction being broken, as if it were part of one continuous sentence running on from ver. 3, unless we are to supply the auxiliary "are," and read "we are exulting," etc.