Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Therefore - οὖν oun Since we are thus justified, or as a consequence of being justified, we have peace.
We - That is, all who are justified. The apostle is evidently speaking of true Christians.
"And the work of righteousness shall be peace,
And the effect of righteousness.
Quietness and assurance forever:"
This is called peace, because,
(2) the state of a sinner's mind is far from peace. He is often agitated, alarmed, trembling. He feels that he is alienated from God. For,
"The wicked are like the troubled sea.
For it never can be at rest;
Whose waters cast up mire and dirt."
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
We have access - See the note at John 14:6, "I am the way," etc. Doddridge renders it, "by whom we have been introduced," etc. It means, "by whom we have the privilege of obtaining the favor of God which we enjoy when we are justified." The word rendered "access" occurs but in two other places in the New Testament, Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12. By Jesus Christ the way is opened for us to obtain the favor of God.
By faith - By means of faith, Romans 1:17.
Into this grace - Into this favor of reconciliation with God.
Wherein we stand - In which we now are in consequence of being justified.
And rejoice - Religion is often represented as producing joy, Isaiah 12:3; Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 52:9; Isaiah 61:3, Isaiah 61:7; Isaiah 65:14, Isaiah 65:18; John 16:22, John 16:24; Acts 13:52; Romans 14:17; Galatians 5:22; 1 Peter 1:8. The sources or steps of this joy are these:
(1) We are justified, or regarded by God as righteous.
(2) we are admitted into his favor, and abide there.
(3) we have the prospect of still higher and richer blessings in the fulness of his glory when we are admitted to heaven.
In hope - In the earnest desire and expectation of obtaining that glory. Hope is a complex emotion made up of a desire for an object; and an expectation of obtaining it. Where either of these is lacking, there is not hope. Where they are mingled in improper proportions, there is not peace. But where the desire of obtaining an object is attended with an expectation of obtaining it, in proportion to that desire, there exists that peaceful, happy state of mind which we denominate hope And the apostle here implies that the Christian has an earnest desire for that glory; and that he has a confident expectation of obtaining it. The result of that he immediately states to be, that we are by it sustained in our afflictions.
The glory of God - The glory that God will bestow on us. The word "glory" usually means splendor, magnificence, honor; and the apostle here refers to that honor and dignity which will be conferred on the redeemed when they are raised up to the full honors of redemption; when they shall triumph in the completion of the work: and be freed from sin, and pain, and tears, and permitted to participate in the full splendors that shall encompass the throne of God in the heavens; see the note at Luke 2:9; compare Revelation 21:22-24; Revelation 22:5; Isaiah 60:19-20.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And not only so - We not only rejoice in times of prosperity, and of health. Paul proceeds to show that this plan is not less adapted to produce support in trials.
But we glory - The word used here is the same that is in Romans 5:2, translated, "we rejoice" καυχώμεθα kauchōmetha. It should have been so rendered here. The meaning is, that we rejoice not only in hope; not only in the direct results of justification, in the immediate effect which religion itself produces; but we carry our joy and triumph even into the midst of trials. In accordance with this, our Saviour directed his followers to rejoice in persecutions, Matthew 5:11-12. Compare James 1:2, James 1:12.
In tribulations - In afflictions. The word used here refers to all kinds of trials which people are called to endure; though it is possible that Paul referred particularly to the various persecutions and trials which they were called to endure as Christians.
Knowing - Being assured of this. Paul's assurance might have arisen from reasoning on the nature of religion, and its tendency to produce comfort; or it is more probable that he was speaking here the language of his own experience. He had found it to be so. This was written near the close of his life, and it states the personal experience of a man who endured, perhaps, as much as anyone ever did, in attempting to spread the gospel; and far more than commonly falls to the lot of mankind. Yet he, like all other Christians, could leave his deliberate testimony to the fact that Christianity was sufficient to sustain the soul in its severest trials; see 2 Corinthians 1:3-6; 2 Corinthians 11:24-29; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
Worketh - Produces; the effect of afflictions on the minds of Christians is to make them patient. Sinners are irritated and troubled by them; they complain, and become more and more obstinate and rebellious. They have no sources of consolation; they deem God a hard master; and they become fretful and rebellions just in proportion to the depth and continuance of their trials. But in the mind of a Christian, who regards his Father's hand in it; who sees that he deserves no mercy; who has confidence in the wisdom and goodness of God; who feels that it is necessary for his own good to be afflicted; and who experiences its happy, subduing, and mild effect in restraining his sinful passions, and in weaning him from the world the effect is to produce patience. Accordingly, it will usually be found that those Christians who are longest and most severely afflicted are the most patient. Year after year of suffering produces increased peace and calmness of soul; and at the end of his course the Christian is more willing to be afflicted, and bears his afflictions more calmly, than at the beginning. He who on earth was most afflicted was the most patient of all sufferers; and not less patient when he was "led as a lamb to the slaughter," than when he experienced the first trial in his great work.
Patience - "A calm temper, which suffers evils without murmuring or discontent" (Webster).
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And patience, experience - Patient endurance of trial produces experience. The word rendered "experience" (δοκιμήν dokimēn) means trial, testing, or that thorough examination by which we ascertain the quality or nature of a thing, as when we test a metal by fire, or in any other way, to ascertain that it is genuine. It also means approbations, or the result of such a trial; the being approved, and accepted as the effect of a trying process. The meaning is, that long afflictions borne patiently show a Christian what he is; they test his religion, and prove that it is genuine. Afflictions are often sent for this purpose, and patience in the midst of them shows that the religion which can sustain them is from God.
And experience, hope - The result of such long trial is to produce hope. They show that religion is genuine; that it is from God; and not only so, but they direct the mind onward to another world; and sustain the soul by the prospect of a glorious immortality there. The various steps and stages of the benefits of afflictions are thus beautifully delineated by the apostle in a manner which accords with the experience of all the children of God.
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 - That is, this hope will not disappoint, or deceive. When we hope for an object which we do not obtain, we are conscious of disappointment; perhaps sometimes of a feeling of shame. But the apostle says that the Christian hope is such that it will be fulfilled; it will not disappoint; what we hope for we shall certainly obtain; see Philippians 1:20. The expression used here is probably taken from Psalm 22:4-5;
Our fathers trusted in thee;
They trusted; and thou didst deliver them.
They cried unto thee,
And were delivered;
They trusted in thee,
And were not confounded (ashamed).
Because the love of God - Love toward God. There is produced an abundant, an overflowing love to God.
Is shed abroad - Is diffused; is poured out; is abundantly produced ἐκκέχυται ekkechutai. This word is properly applied to water, or to any other liquid that is poured out, or diffused. It is used also to denote imparting, or communicating freely or abundantly, and is thus expressive of the influence of the Holy Spirit poured down, or abundantly imparted to people; Acts 10:45. Here it means that love toward God is copiously or abundantly given to a Christian; his heart is conscious of high and abundant love to God, and by this he is sustained in his afflictions.
By the Holy Ghost - It is produced by the influence of the Holy Spirit. All Christian graces are traced to his influence; Galatians 5:22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy," etc.
Which is given unto us - Which Spirit is given or imparted to us. The Holy Spirit is thus represented as dwelling in the hearts of believers; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16. In all these places it is meant that Christians are under his sanctifying influence; that he produces in their hearts the Christian graces; and fills their minds with peace, and love, and joy.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For when ... - This opens a new view of the subject, or it is a new argument to show that our hope will not make ashamed, or will not disappoint us. The first argument he had stated in the previous verse, that the Holy Spirit was given to us. The next, which he now states, is, that God had given the most ample proof that he would save us by giving his Son when we were sinners; and that he who had done so much for us when we were enemies, would not now fail us when we are his friends; Romans 5:6-10. He has performed the more difficult part of the work by reconciling us when we were enemies; and he will not now forsake us, but will carry forward and complete what he has begun.
We were yet without strength - The word used here ἀσθενῶν asthenōn is usually applied to those who are sick and feeble, deprived of strength by disease; Matthew 25:38; Luke 10:9; Acts 4:9; Acts 5:15. But it is also used in a moral sense, to denote inability or feebleness with regard to any undertaking or duty. Here it means that we were without strength "in regard to the case which the apostle was considering;" that is, we had no power to devise a scheme of justification, to make an atonement, or to put away the wrath of God, etc. While all hope of man's being saved by any plan of his own was thus taken away; while he was thus lying exposed to divine justice, and dependent on the mere mercy of God; God provided a plan which met the case, and secured his salvation. The remark of the apostle here has reference only to the condition of the race before an atonement is made. It does not pertain to the question whether man has strength to repent and to believe after an atonement is made, which is a very different inquiry.
In due time - Margin "According to the time" κατὰ καιρὸν kata kairon. In a timely manner; at the proper time; Galatians 4:4, "But when the fulness of time was come," etc. This may mean,
(1) That it was a fit or proper time. All experiments had failed to save people. For four thousand years the trial had been made under the Law among the Jews: and by the aid of the most enlightened reason in Greece and Rome; and still it was in vain. No scheme had been devised to meet the maladies of the world, and to save people from death. It was then time that a better plan should be presented to people.
(3) it was a most favorable time for the spread of the gospel. The world was expecting such an event; was at peace; and was subjected mainly to the Roman power; and furnished facilities never before experienced for introducing the gospel rapidly into every land; see the notes at Matthew 2:1-2.
For the ungodly - Those who do not worship God. It here means sinners in general, and does not differ materially from what is meant by the word translated "without strength;" see the note at Romans 4:5.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
For scarcely ... - The design of this verse and the following is, to illustrate the great love of God by comparing it with what man was willing to do. "It is an unusual occurrence, an event which is all that we can hope for from the highest human benevolence and the purest friendship, that one would be willing to die for a good man. There are none who would be willing to die for a man who was seeking to do us injury, to calumniate our character, to destroy our happiness or our property. But Christ was willing to die for bitter foes."
Scarcely - With difficulty. It is an event which cannot be expected to occur often. There would scarcely be found an instance in which it would happen.
A righteous man - A just man; a man distinguished simply for integrity of conduct; one who has no remarkable claims for amiableness of character, for benevolence, or for personal friendship. Much as we may admire such a man, and applaud him, yet he has not the characteristics which would appeal to our hearts to induce us to lay down our lives for him. Accordingly, it is not known that any instance has occurred where for such a man one would be willing to die.
For a righteous man - That is, in his place, or in his stead. A man would scarcely lay down his own life to save that of a righteous man.
Will one die - Would one be will. ing to die.
Yet peradventure - Perhaps; implying that this was an event which might be expected to occur.
For a good man - That is, not merely a man who is coldly just; but a man whose characteristic is that of kindness, amiableness, tenderness. It is evident that the case of such a man would be much more likely to appeal to our feelings, than that of one who is merely a man of integrity. Such a man is susceptible of tender friendship; and probably the apostle intended to refer to such a case - a case where we would be willing to expose life for a kind, tender, faithful friend.
Some would even dare to die - Some would have courage to give his life. Instances of this kind, though not many, have occurred. The affecting case of Damon and Pythias is one. Damon had been condemned to death by the tyrant Dionysius of Sicily, and obtained leave to go and settle his domestic affairs on promise of returning at a stated hour to the place of execution. Pythias pledged himself to undergo the punishment if Damon should not return in time, and deliver himself into the hands of the tyrant. Damon returned at the appointed moment, just as the sentence was about to be executed on Pythias; and Dionysius was so struck with the fidelity of the two friends, that he remitted their punishment, and entreated them to permit him to share their friendship; (Val. Max. 4. 7.) This case stands almost alone. Our Saviour says that it is the highest expression of love among people. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends;" John 15:13. The friendship of David and Jonathan seems also to have been of this character, that one would have been willing to lay down his life for the other.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
But God commendeth ... - God has exhibited or showed his love in this unusual and remarkable manner.
His love - His kind feeling; his beneficence; his willingness to submit to sacrifice to do good to others.
While we were yet sinners - And of course his enemies. In this, his love surpasses all that has ever been manifested among people.
Christ died for us - In our stead; to save us from death. He took our place; and by dying himself on the cross, saved us from dying eternally in hell.
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Much more, then - It is much more reasonable to expect it. There are fewer obstacles in the way. If, when we were enemies, he overcame all that was in the way of our salvation; much more have we reason to expect that he will afford us protection now that we are his friends. This is one ground of the hope expressed in Romans 5:5.
Being now justified - Pardoned; accepted as his friends.
By his blood - By his death; Note, Romans 3:25. The fact that we are purchased by his blood, and sanctified by it, renders us sacred in the eye of God; bestows a value on us proportionate to the worth of the price of our redemption; and is a pledge that he will keep what has been so dearly bought.
Saved from wrath - From hell; from the punishment due to sin; Note, Romans 2:8.
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 - The idea in this verse is simply a repetition and enlargement of that in Romans 5:9. The apostle dwells on the thought, and places it in a new light, furnishing thus a strong confirmation of his position.
When we were enemies - The work was undertaken while we were enemies. From being enemies we were changed to friends by that work. Thus, it was commenced by God; its foundation was laid while we were still hostile to it; it evinced, therefore, a determined purpose on the part of God to perform it; and he has thus given a pledge that it shall be perfected.
We were reconciled - Note, Matthew 5:24. We are brought to an agreement; to a state of friendship and union. We became his friends, laid aside our opposition, and embraced him as our friend and portion. To effect this is the great design of the plan of salvation; 2 Corinthians 5:1-20; Colossians 1:21; Ephesians 2:16. It means that there were obstacles existing on both sides to a reconciliation; and that these have been removed by the death of Christ; and that a union has thus been effected. This has been done in removing the obstacles on the part of God - by maintaining the honor of his Law; showing his hatred of sin; upholding his justice, and maintaining his truth, at the same time that he pardons; Note, Romans 3:26. And on the part of man, by removing his unwillingness to be reconciled; by subduing, changing, and sanctifying his heart; by overcoming his hatred of God, and of his Law; and bringing him into submission to the government of God. So that the Christian is in fact reconciled to God; he is his friend; he is pleased with his Law, his character, and his plan of salvation. And all this has been accomplished by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus as an offering in our place.
Much more - It is much more to be expected; there are still stronger and more striking considerations to show it.
By his life - We were reconciled by his death. Death may include possibly his low, humble, and suffering condition. Death has the appearance of great feebleness; the death of Christ had the appearance of the defeat of his plans. His enemies triumphed and rejoiced over him on the cross, and in the tomb. Yet the effect of this feeble, low, and humiliating state was to reconcile us to God. If in this state, when humble, despised, dying, dead, he had power to accomplish so great a work as to reconcile us to God, how much more may we expect that he will be able to keep us now that he is a living, exalted, and triumphant Redeemer. If his fainting powers in dying were such as to reconcile us, how much more shall his full, vigorous powers as an exalted Redeemer, be sufficient to keep and save us. This argument is but an expansion of what the Saviour himself said; John 14:19, "Because I live, ye shall live also."
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 - The apostle states another effect of justification.
We also joy in God - In Romans 5:2, he had said that we rejoice in tribulations, and in hope of the glory of God. But he here adds that we rejoice in God himself; in his existence; his attributes; his justice, holiness, mercy, truth, love. The Christian rejoices that God is such a being as he is; and glories that the universe is under his administration. The sinner is opposed to him; he finds no pleasure in him; he fears or hates him; and deems him unqualified for universal empire. But it is one characteristic of true piety, one evidence that we are truly reconciled to God, that we rejoice in him as he is; and find pleasure in the contemplation of his perfections as they are revealed in the Scriptures.
Through our Lord ... - By the mediation of our Lord Jesus, who has revealed the true character of God, and by whom we have been reconciled to him.
The atonement - Margin, or reconciliation. This is the only instance in which our translators have used the word "atonement" in the New Testament. The word frequently occurs in the Old, Exodus 29:33, Exodus 29:36-37; Exodus 30:10, Exodus 30:15-16, etc. As it is now used by us, it commonly means the ransom, or the sacrifice by means of which reconciliation is effected between God and man. But in this place it has a different sense. It means the reconciliation itself between God and man; not the means by which reconciliation is effected. It denotes not that. we have received a ransom, or an offering by which reconciliation might be effected; but that in fact we have become reconciled through him. This was the ancient meaning of the English word atonement - at one ment - being at one, or reconciled.
- He seeks to make atonement.
Between the duke of Glo'ster and your brothers.
The Greek word which denotes the expiatory offering by which a reconciliation is effected, is different from the one here; see the note at Romans 3:25. The word used here καταλλαγὴ katallagē is never used to denote such an offering, but denotes the reconciliation itself.
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:
Romans 5:12-21 has been usually regarded as the most difficult part of the New Testament. It is not the design of these notes to enter into a minute criticism of contested points like this. They who wish to see a full discussion of the passage, may find it in the professedly critical commentaries; and especially in the commentaries of Tholuck and of Professor Stuart on the Romans. The meaning of the passage in its general bearing is not difficult; and probably the whole passage would have been found far less difficult if it had not been attached to a philosophical theory on the subject of man's sin, and if a strenuous and indefatigable effort had not been made to prove that it teaches what it was never designed to teach. The plain and obvious design of the passage is this, to show one of the benefits of the doctrine of justification by faith. The apostle had shown,
(1) That that doctrine produced peace, Romans 5:1.
(2) That it produces joy in the prospect of future glory, Romans 5:2.
(3) That it sustained the soul in afflictions;
(a) by the regular tendency of afflictions under the gospel, Romans 5:3-4; and,
(b) by the fact that the Holy Spirit was imparted to the believer.
(4) That this doctrine rendered it certain that we should be saved, because Christ had died for us, Romans 5:6; because this was the highest expression of love, Romans 5:7-8; and because if we had been reconciled when thus alienated, we should be saved now that we are the friends of God, Romans 5:9-10.
(5) That it led us to rejoice in God himself; produced joy in his presence, and in all his attributes.
He now proceeds to show the bearing on that great mass of evil which had been introduced into the world by sin, and to prove that the benefits of the atonement were far greater than the evils which had been introduced by the acknowledged effects of the sin of Adam. "The design is to exalt our views of the work of Christ, and of the plan of justification through him, by comparing them with the evil consequences of the sin of our first father, and by showing that the blessings in question not only extend to the removal of these evils, but far beyond this, so that the grace of the gospel has not only abounded, but superabounded." (Prof. Stuart.) In doing this, the apostle admits, as an undoubted and well-understood fact:
1. That sin came into the world by one man, and death as the consequence. Romans 5:12.
2. That death had passed on all; even on those who had not the light of revelation, and the express commands of God, Romans 5:13-14.
3. That Adam was the figure, the type of him that was to come; that there was some sort of analogy or resemblance between the results of his act and the results of the work of Christ. That analogy consisted in the fact that the effects of his doings did not terminate on himself, but extended to numberless other persons, and that it was thus with the work of Christ, Romans 5:14. But he shows,
4. That there were very material and important differences in the two cases. There was not a perfect parallelism. The effects of the work of Christ were far more than simply to counteract the evil introduced by the sin of Adam. The differences between the effect of his act and the work of Christ are these.
(1) The sin of Adam led to condemnation. The work of Christ has an opposite tendency, Romans 5:15.
(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
For until the law ... - This verse, with the following verses to the 17th, is usually regarded as a parenthesis. The Law here evidently means the Law given by Moses. "Until the commencement of that administration, or state of things under the law." To see the reason why he referred to this period between Adam and the Law, we should recall the design of the apostle, which is, to show the exceeding grace of God in the gospel, abounding, and superabounding, as a complete remedy for all the evils introduced by sin. For this purpose he introduces three leading conditions, or states, where people sinned, and where the effects of sin were seen; in regard to each and all of which the grace of the gospel superabounded. The first was that of Adam, with its attendant train of ills Romans 5:12, which ills were all met by the death of Christ, Romans 5:15-18. The second period or condition was that long interval in which men had only the light of nature, that period occurring between Adam and Moses. This was a fair representation of the condition of the world without revelation, and without law, Romans 5:13-14. Sin then reigned - reigned everywhere where there was no law. But the grace of the gospel abounded over the evils of this state of man. The third was under the Law, Romans 5:20. The Law entered, and sin was increased, and its evils abounded. But the gospel of Christ abounded even over this, and grace triumphantly reigned. So that the plan of justification met all the evils of sin, and was adapted to remove them; sin and its consequences as flowing from Adam; sin and its consequences when there was no written revelation; and sin and its consequences under the light and terrors of the Law.
Sin was in the world - People sinned. They did what was evil.
But sin is not imputed - Is not charged against people, or they are not held guilty of it where there is no law. This is a self-evident proposition, for sin is a violation of law; and if there is no law, there can be no wrong. Assuming this as a self-evident proposition, the connection is, that there must have been a law of some kind; a "law written on their hearts," since sin was in the world, and people could not be charged with sin, or treated as sinners, unless there was some law. The passage here states a great and important principle, that people will not be held to be guilty unless there is a law which binds them of which they are apprized, and which they voluntarily transgress; see the note at Romans 4:15. This verse, therefore, meets an objection that might be started from what had been said in Romans 4:15. The apostle had affirmed that "where no law is there is no transgression." He here stated that all were sinners. It might be objected, that as during this long period of time they had no law, they could not be stoners. To meet this, he says that people were then in fact sinners, and were treated as such, which showed that there must have been a 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 figure of him that was to come.
Nevertheless - Notwithstanding that sin is not imputed where there is no law, yet death reigned.
Death reigned - People died; they were under the dominion of death in its various melancholy influences. The expression "death reigned" is one that is very striking. It is a representation of death as a monarch; having dominion over all that period, and overall those generations. Under his dark and withering reign people sank down to the grave. We have a similar expression when we represent death as "the king of terrors." It is a striking and affecting personification, for.
(1) His reign is absolute. He strikes down whom he pleases, and when he pleases.
(2) there is no escape. All must bow to his sceptre, and be humbled beneath his hand,
(3) it is universal. Old and young alike are the subjects of his gloomy empire.
(4) It would be an eternal reign if itwere not for the gospel.
It would shed unmitigated woes upon the earth; and the silent tread of this terrific king would produce only desolation and tears forever.
From Adam to Moses - From the time when God gave one revealed law to Adam, to the time when another revealed Law was given to Moses. This was a period of 2500 years; no inconsiderable portion of the history of the world. Whether people were regarded and treated as sinners then, was a very material inquiry in the argument of the apostle. The fact that they died is alleged by him as full proof that they were sinners; and that sin had therefore scattered extensive and appalling woes among people.
Even over them - Over all those generations. The point or emphasis of the remark here is, that it reigned over those that had sinned under a different economy from that of Adam. This was what rendered it so remarkable; and which showed that the withering curse of sin had been felt in all dispensations, and in all times.
After the similitude ... - In the same way; in like manner. The expression "after the similitude" is an Hebraism, denoting in like manner, or as. The difference between their case and that of Adam was plainly that Adam had a revealed and positive law. They had not. They had only the law of nature, or of tradition. The giving of a law to Adam, and again to the world by Moses, were two great epochs between which no such event had occurred. The race wandered without revelation. The difference contemplated is not that Adam was an actual sinner, and that they had sinned only by imputation. For,
(1) The expression "to sin by imputation" is unintelligible, and conveys no idea.
(2) The apostle makes no such distinction, and conveys no such idea.
(3) His very object is different. It is to show that they were actual sinners; that they transgressed law; and the proof of this is that they died.
(4) It is utterly absurd to suppose that people from the time of Adam to Moses were sinners only by imputation. All history is against it; nor is there the slightest ground of plausibility in such a supposition.
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 not as the offence - This is the first point of contrast between the effect of the sin of Adam and of the work of Christ. The word "offence" means properly a fall, where we stumble over anything lying in our way It then means sin in general, or crime Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:35. Here it means the fall, or first sin of Adam. We use the word "fall" as applied to Adam, to denote his first offence, as being that act by which he fell from an elevated state of obedience and happiness into one of sin and condemnation.
So also - The gift is not in its nature and effects like the offence.
The free gift - The favor, benefit, or good bestowed gratuitously on us. It refers to the favors bestowed in the gospel by Christ. These are free, that is, without merit on our part, and bestowed on the undeserving.
For if ... - The apostle does not labor to prove that this is so. This is not the point of his argument, He assumes that as what was seen and known everywhere. His main point is to show that greater benefits have resulted from the work of the Messiah than evils from the fall of Adam.
Through the offence of one - By the fall of one. This simply concedes the fact that it is so. The apostle does not attempt an explanation of the mode or manner in which it happened. He neither says that it is by imputation, nor by inherent depravity, nor by imitation. Whichever of these modes may be the proper one of accounting for the fact, it is certain that the apostle states neither. His object was, not to explain the manner in which it was done, but to argue from the acknowledged existence of the fact. All that is certainly established from this passage is, that as a certain fact resulting from the transgression of Adam, "many" were "dead." This simple fact is all that can be proved from this passage. Whether it is to be explained by the doctrine of imputation, is to be a subject of inquiry independent of this passage. Nor have we a right to assume that this teaches the doctrine of the imputation of the sin of Adam to his posterity. For,
(1) The apostle says nothing of it.
(2) that doctrine is nothing but an effort to explain the manner of an event which the apostle Paul did not think it proper to attempt to explain.
(3) that doctrine is in fact no explanation.
It is introducing all additional difficulty. For to say that I am blameworthy, or ill-deserving for a sin in which I had no agency, is no explanation, but is involving me in an additional difficulty still more perplexing, to ascertain how such a doctrine can possibly be just. The way of wisdom would be, doubtless, to rest satisfied with the simple statement of a fact which the apostle has assumed, without attempting to explain it by a philosophical theory. Calvin accords with the above interpretation. "For we do not so perish by his (Adam's) crime, as if we were ourselves innocent; but Paul ascribes our ruin to him because his sin is the cause of our sin."
(This is not a fair quotation from Calvin. It leaves us to infer, that the Reformer affirmed, that Adam's sin is the cause of actual sin in us, on account of which last only we are condemned. Now under the twelfth verse Calvin says, "The inference is plain, that the apostle does not treat of actual sin, for if every person was the cause of his own guilt, why should Paul compare Adam with Christ?" If our author had not stopt short in his quotation, he would have found immediately subjoined, as an explanation: "I call that our sin, which is inbred, and with which we are born." Our being born with this sin is a proof of our guilt in Adam. But whatever opinion may he formed of Calvin's general views on this subject, nothing is more certain, than that he did not suppose the apostle treated of actual sin in these passages.
Notwithstanding of the efforts that are made to exclude the doctrine of imputation from this chapter, the full and varied manner in which the apostle expresses it, cannot be evaded. "Through the offence of one many be dead" - "the judgment was by one to condemnation" - "By one man's offence death reigned by one" - "By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation" - "By one man's disobedience, many were made sinners," etc.
It is vain to tell us, as our author does" under each of these clauses respectively, that the apostle simply states the fact, that the sin of Adam has involved the race in condemnation, without adverting to the manner; for Paul does more than state the fact. He intimates that we are involved in condemnation in a way that bears a certain analogy to the manner in which we become righteous. And on this last, he is, without doubt, sufficiently explicited See a former supplementary note.
In Romans 5:18-19 the apostle seems plainly to affirm the manner of the fact "as by the offence of one," etc., "Even so," etc. "As by one man's disobedience," etc., "so," etc. There is a resemblance in the manner of the two things compared. It we wish to know how guilt and condemnation come by Adam, we have only to inquire, how righteousness and justification come by Christ. "So," that is, in this way, not in like manner. It is not in a manner that has merely some likeness, but it is in the very same manner, for although there is a contrast in the things, the one being disobedience and the other obedience, yet there is a perfect identity in the manner. - Haldane.
It is somewhat remarkable, that while our author so frequently affirms, that the apostle states the fact only, he himself should throughout assume the manner. He will not allow the apostle to explain the manner, nor any one who has a different view of it from himself. Yet he tells us, it is not by imputation that we become involved in Adam's guilt; that people "sin in their own persons, and that therefore they die." This he affirms to be the apostle's meaning. And is this not an explanation of the manner. Are we not left to conclude, that from Adam we simply derive a corrupt nature, in consequence of which we sin personally, and therefore die?)
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 ... - This is the second point in which the effects of the work of Christ differ from the sin of Adam The first part Romans 5:15 was, that the evil consequences flowed from the sin of one man, Adam; and that the benefits flowed from the work of one man, Jesus Christ. The point in this verse is, that the evil consequences flowed from one crime, one act of guilt; but that the favors had respect to many acts of guilt. The effects of Adam's sin, whatever they were, pertained to the one sin; the effects of the work of Christ, to many sins.
By one that sinned - δι ̓ ἑνὸς ἁμαρτήσαντος di' henos hēmartēsantos. By means of one (man) sinning; evidently meaning by one offence, or by one act of sin. So the Vulgate, and many manuscripts. And the connection shows that this is the sense.
The gift - The benefits resulting from the work of Christ.
The judgment - The sentence; the declared penalty. The word expresses properly the sentence which is passed by a judge. Here it means the sentence which God passed, as a judge, on Adam for the one offence, involving himself and his posterity in ruin, Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:17-19.
Was by one - By one offence; or one act of sin.
Unto condemnation - Producing condemnation; or involving in condemnation. It is proved by this, that the effect of the sin of Adam was to involve the race in condemnation, or to secure this as a result that all mankind would be under the condemning sentence of the Law, and be transgressors. But in what way it would have this effect, the apostle does not state. He does not intimate that his sin would be imputed to them; or that they would be held to be personally guilty for it. He speaks of a broad, everywhere perceptible fact, that the effect of that sin had been somehow to overwhelm the race in condemnation. In what mode this was done is a fair subject of inquiry; but the apostle does not attempt to explain it.
The free gift - The unmerited favor, by the work of Christ.
Is of many offences - In relation to many sins. It differs thus from the condemnation. That had respect to one offence; this has respect to many crimes. Grace therefore abounds.
Unto justification - Note, Romans 3:24. The work of Christ is designed to have reference to many offences, so as to produce pardon or justification in regard to them all. But the apostle here does not intimate how this is done. He simply states the fact, without attempting in this place to explain it; and as we know that that work does not produce its effect to justify without some act on the part of the individual, are we not hence, led to conclude the same respecting the condemnation for the sin of Adam? As the work of Christ does not benefit the race unless it is embraced, so does not the reasoning of the apostle imply, that the deed of Adam does not involve in criminality and ill-desert unless there be some voluntary act on the part of each individual? However this may be, it is certain that the apostle has in neither case here explained the mode in which it is done. He has simply stated the fact, a fact which he did not seem to consider himself called on to explain. Neither has he affirmed that in the two cases the mode is the same. On the contrary, it is strongly implied that it is not the same, for the leading object here is to present, not an entire resemblance, but a strong contrast between the effects of the sin of Adam and the work of Christ.
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 - This verse contains the same idea as before presented, but in a varied form. It is condensing the whole subject, and presenting it in a single view.
By one man's offence - Or, by one offence. Margin. The reading of the text is the more correct. "If, under the administration of a just and merciful Being, it has occurred, that by the offence of one, death hath exerted so wide a dominion; we have reason much more to expect under that administration, that they who are brought under his plan of saving mercy shall be brought under a dispensation of life."
Death reigned - Note, Romans 5:14.
By one - By means of one man.
Much more - We have much more reason to expect it. It evidently accords much more with the administration of a Being of infinite goodness.
They which receive abundance of grace - The abundant favor; the mercy that shall counterbalance and surpass the evils introduced by the sin of Adam. That favor shall be more than sufficient to counterbalance all those evils. This is particularly true of the redeemed, of whom the apostle in this verse is speaking. The evils which they suffer in consequence of the sin of Adam bear no comparison with the mercies of eternal life that shall flow to them from the work of the Saviour.
The gift of righteousness - This stands opposed to the evils introduced by Adam. As the effect of his sin was to produce condemnation, so here the gift of righteousness refers to the opposite, to pardon, to justification, to acceptance with God. To show that people were thus justified by the gospel, was the leading design of the apostle; and the argument here is, that if by one man's sin, death reigned over those who were under condemnation in consequence of it, we have much more reason to suppose that they who are delivered from sin by the death of Christ, and accepted of God, shall reign with him in life.
Shall reign - The word "reign" is often applied to the condition of saints in heaven, 2 Timothy 2:12, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him;" Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6; Revelation 22:5. It means that they shall be exalted to a glorious state of happiness in heaven; that they shall be triumphant over all their enemies; shall gain an ultimate victory; and shall partake with the Captain of their salvation in the splendors of his dominion above, Revelation 3:21; Luke 22:30.
In life - This stands opposed to the death that reigned as the consequence of the sin of Adam. It denotes complete freedom from condemnation; from temporal death; from sickness, pain, and sin. It is the usual expression to denote the complete bliss of the saints in glory; Note, John 3:36.
By one, Jesus Christ - As the consequence of his work. The apostle here does not state the mode or manner in which this was done; nor does he say that it was perfectly parallel in the mode with the effects of the sin of Adam. He is comparing the results or consequences of the sin of the one and of the work of the other. There is a similarity in the consequences. The way in which the work of Christ had contributed to this he had stated in Romans 3:24, Romans 3:28.
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 - Wherefore (Ἄρα οὖν ara oun). This is properly a summing up, a recapitulation of what had been stated in the previous verses. The apostle resumes the statement or proposition made in Romans 5:12, and after the intermediate explanation in the parenthesis Romans 5:13-17, in this verse and the following, sums up the whole subject. The explanation, therefore, of the previous verses is designed to convey the real meaning of Romans 5:18-19.
As by the offence of one - Admitting this as an undisputed and everywhere apparent fact, a fact which no one can call in question.
Judgment came - This is not in the Greek, but it is evidently implied, and is stated in Romans 5:16. The meaning is, that all have been brought under the reign of death by one man.
Upon all men - The whole race. This explains what is meant by "the many" in Romans 5:15.
To condemnation - Romans 5:16.
Even so - In the manner explained in the previous verses. With the same certainty, and to the same extent. The apostle does not explain the mode in which it was done, but simply scares the fact.
By the righteousness of one - This stands opposed to the one offence of Adam, and must mean, therefore, the holiness, obedience, purity of the Redeemer. The sin of one man involved people in ruin; the obedience unto death of the other Philippians 2:8 restored them to the favor of God.
Came upon all men - (εἰς παντας ἀνθρώπους eis pantas anthrōpous. Was with reference to all people; had a bearing upon all people; was originally adapted to the race. As the sin of Adam was of such a nature in the relation in which he stood as to affect all the race, so the work of Christ in the relation in which he stood was adapted also to all the race. As the tendency of the one was to involve the race in condemnation, so the tendency of the other was to restore them to acceptance with God. There was an original applicability in the work of Christ to all people - a richness, a fulness of the atonement suited to meet the sins of the entire world, and restore the race to favor.
Unto justification of life - With reference to that justification which is connected with eternal life. That is, his work is adapted to produce acceptance with God, to the same extent as the crime of Adam has affected the race by involving them in sin and misery The apostle does not affirm that in fact as many will be affected by the one as by the other; but that it is suited to meet all the consequences of the fall; to be as wide-spread in its effects; and go be as salutary as that had been ruinous. This is all that the argument requires. Perhaps there could not be found a more striking declaration any where, that the work of Christ had an original applicability to all people; or that it is in its own nature suited to save all. The course of argument here leads inevitably to this; nor is it possible to avoid it without doing violence to the obvious and fair course of the discussion.
It does not prove that all will in fact be saved, but that the plan is suited to meet all the evils of the fall. A certain kind of medicine may have an original applicability to heal all persons under the same disease; and may be abundant and certain, and yet in fact be applied to few. The sun is suited to give light to all, yet many may be blind, or may voluntarily close their eyes. Water is adapted to the needs of all people, and the supply may be ample for the human family, yet in fact, from various causes, many may be deprived of it. So of the provisions of the plan of redemption. They are adapted to all; they are ample, and yet in fact, from causes which this is not the place to explain, the benefits, like those of medicine, water, science, etc. may never be enjoyed by all the race. Calvin concurs in this interpretation, and thus shows, that it is one which commends itself even to the most strenuous advocates of the system which is called by his name. He says, "He (the apostle) makes the grace common to all, because it is offered to all, not because it is in fact applied to all. For although Christ suffered for the sins or the whole world (nam etsi passus est Christus pro peccatis totius mundi), and it is offered to all without distinction (indifferenter), yet all do not embrace it." See Cal. Commentary on this place.
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
For ... - This verse is not a mere repetition of the former, but it is an explanation. By the former statements it might perhaps be inferred that people were condemned without any guilt or blame of theirs. The apostle in this verse guards against this, and affirms that they are in fact sinners. He affirms that those who are sinners are condemned, and that the sufferings brought in on account of the sin of Adam, are introduced because many were made sinners. Calvin says," Lest anyone should arrogate to himself innocence, (the apostle) adds, that each one is condemned because he is a sinner."
(The same objection which was stated against a previous quotation from Calvin applies here. The reformer does not mean that each is condemned because he is actually a sinner. He affirms that the ground of condemnation lies in something with which we are born, which belongs to us antecedent to actual transgression.)
By one man's disobedience - By means of the sin of Adam. This affirms simply the fact thai such a result followed from the sin of Adam. The word by διά dia is used in the Scriptures as it is in all books and in all languages. It may denote the efficient cause; the instrumental cause; the principal cause; the meritorious cause; or the chief occasion by which a thing occurred. (See Schleusner.) It does not express one mode, and one only, in which a thing is done; but that one thing is the result of another. When we say that a young man is ruined in his character by another, we do not express the mode, but the fact. When we say that thousands have been made infidels by the writings of Paine and Voltaire, we make no affirmation about the mode, but about the fact. In each of these, and in all other cases, we should deem it most inconclusive reasoning to attempt to determine the mode by the preposition by; and still more absurd if it were argued from the use of that preposition that the sins of the seducer were imputed to the young man; or the opinions of Paine and Voltaire imputed to infidels.
(What is here said of the various significations of διά dia is true. Yet it will not be denied, that in a multitude of instances it points to the real cause or ground of a thing. The sense is to be determined by the connection. "We have in this single passage no less than three cases, Romans 5:12, Romans 5:18-19, in which this preposition with the genitive indicates the ground or reason on account of which something is given or performed. All this is surely sufficient to prove that it may, in the case before us, express the ground why the sentence of condemnation has passed upon all men." To draw an illustration from the injury inflicted by Voltaire and Paine, will not serve the author's purpose, until he can prove, that they stand in a relation, to those whom they have injured, similar to what Adam bears to the human family. When we say that thousands have been ruined by Voltaire, it is true we can have no idea of imputation: yet we may fairly entertain such an idea when it is said, "all man. kind have been ruined by Adam.")
Many - Greek, The many, Romans 5:15. "Were made" (κατεσταθησαν katestathēsan). The verb used here, occurs in the New Testament in the following places: Matthew 24:45, Matthew 24:47; Matthew 25:21, Matthew 25:23; Luke 12:14, Luke 12:42, Luke 12:44; Acts 6:3; Acts 7:10, Acts 7:27, Acts 7:35; Acts 17:15; Romans 5:19; Titus 1:5; Hebrews 2:7; Hebrews 5:1; Hebrews 7:28; Hebrews 8:3; James 3:6; James 4:4; 2 Peter 1:8. It usually means to constitute, set, or appoint. In the New Testament it has two leading significations.
(2) It means to become, to be in fact, etc.; James 3:6, "so is the tongue among our members," etc.
That is, it becomes such; James 4:4, "The friendship of the world is enmity with God; it becomes such; it is in fact thus, and is thus to be regarded. The word is, in no instance, used to express the idea of imputing that to one which belongs to another. It here either means that this was by a constitution of divine appointment that they in fact became sinners, or simply declares that they were so in fact. There is not the slightest intimation that it was by imputation. The whole scope of the argument is, moreover, against this; for the object of the apostle is not to show that they were charged with the sin of another, but that they were in fact sinners themselves. If it means that they were condemned for his act, without any concurrence of their own will, then the correspondent part will be true, that all are constituted righteous in the same way; and thus the doctrine of universal salvation will be inevitable. But as none are constituted righteous who do not voluntarily avail themselves of the provisions of mercy, so it follows that those who are condemned, are not condemned for the sin of another without their own concurrence; nor unless they personally deserve it.
Sinners - Transgressors; those who deserve to be punished. It does not mean those who are condemned for the sin of another; but those who are violators of the Law of God. All who are condemned are sinners. They are not innocent persons condemned for the crime of another. People may be involved in the consequences of the sins of others without being to blame. The consequences of the crimes of a murderer, a drunkard, a pirate may pass over from them, and affect thousands, and overwhelm them in ruin. But this does not prove that they are blameworthy. In the divine administration none are regarded as guilty who are not guilty; none are condemned who do not deserve to be condemned. All who sink to hell are sinners.
By the obedience of one - Of Christ. This stands opposed to the disobedience of Adam, and evidently includes the entire work of the Redeemer which has a bearing on the salvation of people; Philippians 2:8, "He ...became obedient unto death."
Shall many - Greek, The many; corresponding to the term in the former part of the verse, and evidently commensurate with it; for there is no reason for limiting it to a part in this member, any more than there is in the former.
Be made - The same Greek word as before be appointed, or become. The apostle has explained the mode in which this is done; Romans 1:17; Romans 3:24-26; Romans 4:1-5. That explanation is to limit the meaning here. No more are considered righteous than become so in that way. And as all do not become righteous thus, the passage cannot be adduced to prove the doctrine of universal salvation.
The following remarks may express the doctrines which are established by this much-contested and difficult passage.
(1) Adam was created holy; capable of obeying law; yet free to fall.
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Moreover - But. What is said in this verse and the following, seems designed to meet the Jew, who might pretend that the Law of Moses was intended to meet the evils of sin introduced by Adam, and therefore that the scheme defended by the apostle was unnecessary. He therefore shows them that the effect of the Law of Moses was to increase rather than to diminish the sins which had been introduced into the world. And if such was the fact, it could not be pled that it was adapted to overcome the acknowledged evils of the apostasy.
The law - The Mosaic laws and institutions. The word seems to be used here to denote all the laws which were given in the Old Testament.
Entered - This word usually means to enter secretly or surreptitiously. But it appears to be used here simply in the sense that the Law came in, or was given. It came in addition to, or it supervened the state before Moses, when people were living without a revelation.
That sin ... - The word "that" ἵνα hina in this place does not mean that it was the design of giving the Law that sin might abound or be increased, but that such was in fact the effect. It had this tendency, not to restrain or subdue sin, but to excite and increase it. That the word has this sense may be seen in the lexicons. The way in which the Law produces this effect is stated more fully by the apostle in Romans 7:7-11. The Law expresses the duty of man; it is spiritual and holy; it is opposed to the guilty passions and pleasures of the world; and it thus excites opposition, provokes to anger, and is the occasion by which sin is called into exercise, and shows itself in the heart. All law, where there is a disposition to do wrong, has this tendency. A command given to a child that is disposed to indulge his passions, only tends to excite anger and opposition. If the heart was holy, and there was a disposition to do right, law would have no such tendency. See this subject further illustrated in the notes at Romans 7:7-11.
The offence - The offence which had been introduced by Adam, that is, sin. Compare Romans 5:15.
Might abound - Might increase; that is, would be more apparent, more violent, more extensive. The introduction of the Mosaic Law, instead of diminishing the sins of people, only increases them.
But where sin abounded - Alike in all dispensations - before the Law, and under the Law. In all conditions of the human family before the gospel, it was the characteristic that sin was prevalent.
Grace - Favor; mercy.
Did much more abound - Superabounded. The word is used no where else in the New Testament, except in 2 Corinthians 7:4. It means that the pardoning mercy of the gospel greatly triumphed over sin, even over the sins of the Jews, though those sins were greatly aggravated by the light which they enjoyed under the advantages of divine revelation.
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 - Note, Romans 5:14.
Unto death - Producing or causing death.
Even so - In like manner, also. The provisions of redemption are in themselves ample to meet all the ruins of the fall.
Might grace reign - Might mercy be triumphant; see John 1:17, "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
Through righteousness - Through, or by means of, God's plan of justification; Note, Romans 1:17.
Unto eternal life - This stands opposed to "death" in the former part of the verse, and shows that there the apostle had reference to eternal death. The result of God's plan of justification shall be to produce eternal life. The triumphs of the gospel here celebrated cannot refer to the number of the subjects, for it has not actually freed all people from the dominion of sin. But the apostle refers to the fact that the gospel is able to overcome sin of the most malignant form, of the most aggravated character, of the longest duration. Sin in all dispensations and states of things can be thus overcome; and the gospel is more than sufficient to meet all the evils of the apostasy, and to raise up the race to heaven.
This chapter is a most precious portion of divine revelation. It brings into view the amazing evils which have resulted from the apostasy. The apostle does not attempt to deny or palliate those evils; he admits them fully; admits them in their deepest, widest, most melancholy extent; just as the physician admits the extent and ravages of the disease which he hopes to cure. At the same time, Christianity is not responsible for those evils. It did not introduce them. It finds them in existence, as a matter of sober and melancholy fact, pertaining to all the race. Christianity is no more answerable for the introduction and extent of sin, than the science of medicine is responsible for the introduction and extent of disease. Like that science, it finds a state of wide-spread evils in existence; and like that science, it is strictly a remedial system. And whether true or false, still the evils of sin exist, just as the evils of disease exist, whether the science of medicine be wellfounded or not.
Nor does it make any difference in the existence of these evils, whether Christianity be true or false. If the Bible could be proved to be an imposition, it would not prove that people are not sinners. If the whole work of Christ could be shown to be imposture, still it would annihilate no sin, nor would it prove that man has not fallen. The fact would still remain - a fact certainly quite as universal, and quite as melancholy, as it is under the admitted truth of the Christian revelation - and a fact which the infidel is just as much concerned to account for as is the Christian. Christianity proposes a remedy; and it is permitted to the Christian to rejoice that that remedy is ample to meet all the evils; that it is just suited to recover our alienated world; and that it is destined yet to raise the race up to life, and peace, and heaven. In the provisions of that scheme we may and should triumph; and on the same principle as we may rejoice in the triumph of medicine over disease, so may we triumph in the ascendancy of the Christian plan over all the evils of the fall And while Christians thus rejoice, the infidel, the deist, the pagan, and the scoffer shall contend with these evils which their systems cannot alleviate or remove, and sink under the chilly reign of sin and death; just as people pant, and struggle, and expire under the visitations of disease, because they will not apply the proper remedies of medicine, but choose rather to leave themselves to its unchecked ravages, or to use all the nostrums of quackery in a vain attempt to arrest evils which are coming upon them.