2. Racial Values
Turning from the discussion of the personal to that
of the racial values of justification, the apostle dealt with them by a
series of remarkable contrasts, in a passage which is at once one of the
most sublime, most difficult, and most debatable in the New Testament.
Broadly stated, it consists of one great contrast,
that between Adam and Jesus, as to their race headship, and the results
produced by each. That one contrast falls into three sections: the
contrast between the trespass and the free gift; the contrast between
judgment and justification; the contrast between the reign of death and
the reign of grace. In each of these he made comparison between the two,
and indicated a disparity.
The whole argument is based upon the literal accuracy
of the account of the fall of man as it is found in Genesis, there being
no less than nine references thereto in so short a passage. Evidently,
unless that account be true, Paul's interpretation of the work of Jesus
is at fault. The accuracy of Genesis, and the accuracy of Romans, stand
or fall at the same moment.
The first contrast is between the trespass and the
free gift. The comparisons are those between the one man through whom
sin entered, and the one Man through Whom the gift of grace was
provided; the entry of sin through the one man, and the provision of the
gift through the one Man; the death sentence upon sin, and grace
abounding. The disparity is indicated by the phrase "much more," in
which the apostle shows that the free gift of righteousness was more
than adequate for the correction of the trespass.
The second contrast is between the issue of the
trespass and the free gift, and therefore between judgment and
justification. The comparison is between the judgment that followed the
sin of one, and the justification provided as the result of many
trespasses, but "through the One even Jesus Christ." The disparity is
again indicated by the phrase "much more"; and the super-abounding
victory of justification is remarkably indicated by the fact that
judgment means the reign of death over men, while justification means
the ability of men to reign in life.
The final contrast is between the reign of death and
the reign of grace. The comparisons are again between the one through
whom the trespass came, and the One through Whom the free gift came; the
sinners made by the one's disobedience, and the righteous made through
the obedience of the One; the reign of sin in death, and the reign of
grace through righteousness unto life. Again the disparity is marked by
the phrase "more exceedingly," revealing the fact that in grace
overwhelming provision is made for victory over sin.
Thus the three contrasts make the contrast between
Adam and Jesus most vivid. While the comparisons reveal this, the
disparity in each case makes it even more apparent. In the case of the
first, disobedience issued in sin, judgment, condemnation, death for the
race. In the case of the second, obedience issued in grace,
justification, righteousness, life for the race. These are co-extensive.
As far as the evil results of Adam's sin have spread, so far do the
benefits of the work of Jesus extend. From this conclusion there is no
possibility of escape. To read any smaller meaning into the statements
used in the one case than in the other, is not only unfair, it is
dishonest. If this great passage means anything, it clearly declares
that it is now possible for every human being to escape from the result
of the work of either by choosing relationship to the other. By faith in
Jesus, man can be set free from all the results of the disobedience of
Adam. By continuity in the disobedience of Adam man is excluded from the
values of the work of Jesus.