Romans 4:7
Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
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(7) Forgiven.—The stress is upon this word; “whose sins are not abolished, but forgiven; not annihilated, but covered up, removed from sight, hidden by the absolving grace of God.”

4:1-12 To meet the views of the Jews, the apostle first refers to the example of Abraham, in whom the Jews gloried as their most renowned forefather. However exalted in various respects, he had nothing to boast in the presence of God, being saved by grace, through faith, even as others. Without noticing the years which passed before his call, and the failures at times in his obedience, and even in his faith, it was expressly stated in Scripture that he believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, Ge 15:6. From this example it is observed, that if any man could work the full measure required by the law, the reward must be reckoned as a debt, which evidently was not the case even of Abraham, seeing faith was reckoned to him for righteousness. When believers are justified by faith, their faith being counted for righteousness, their faith does not justify them as a part, small or great, of their righteousness; but as the appointed means of uniting them to Him who has chosen as the name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness. Pardoned people are the only blessed people. It clearly appears from the Scripture, that Abraham was justified several years before his circumcision. It is, therefore, plain that this rite was not necessary in order to justification. It was a sign of the original corruption of human nature. And it was such a sign as was also an outward seal, appointed not only to confirm God's promises to him and to his seed, and their obligation to be the Lord's, but likewise to assure him of his being already a real partaker of the righteousness of faith. Thus Abraham was the spiritual forefather of all believers, who walked after the example of his obedient faith. The seal of the Holy Spirit in our sanctification, making us new creatures, is the inward evidence of the righteousness of faith.Blessed - Happy are they: they are highly favored; see the note at Matthew 5:3.

Whose sins are covered - Are concealed; or hidden from the view. On which God will no more look, and which he will no more remember. "By these words," says Calvin (in loco), "we are taught that justification with Paul is nothing else but pardon of sin." The word "cover" here has no reference to the atonement, but is expressive of hiding, or concealing that is, of forgiving sin.

7, 8. Saying, Blessed, &c.—(Ps 32:1, 2). David here sings in express terms only of "transgression forgiven, sin covered, iniquity not imputed"; but as the negative blessing necessarily includes the positive, the passage is strictly in point. This testimony is taken out of Psalm 32:1, and it is well enough accommodated to the occasion, for those two, to remit sin, and to impute righteousness, are inseparable. The one is put here figuratively for the other. They mistake, who take occasion from hence to make justification to consist only in remission of sin: the text will not bear it. The apostle’s design is, not hereby to declare the full nature of justification, which he had done before; but only to prove the freedom of it from any respect to works, in the instance of this principal and essential part of it. Remission of sin and the imputation of righteousness differ, as the cause and the effect. Remission of sin presupposeth imputation of righteousness; and he that hath his sins remitted, hath Christ’s righteousness first imputed, that so they may be remitted and forgiven to sinners.

Saying, blessed are they,.... These words are cited from Psalm 32:1, and contain the proof of the happiness of justified persons. In this citation the singular number is changed into the plural, to take in all sorts of men, Jews and Gentiles, and very agreeably to the sense of the original; for the word may be rendered "blessed are they", or, "O the blessednesses"; that is, of everyone of them,

whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered: such whom God justifies by imputing the righteousness of his Son to them, he removes their iniquities from them, which is meant by their being "forgiven", and that "as far as the east is from the west", Psalm 103:12; he casts them behind his back, Isaiah 38:17, and into the depths of the sea, Micah 7:19, so that they shall never be found more: such whom he clothes with the robe of righteousness, and garments of salvation, Isaiah 61:10, "their sins are covered"; from the eye of divine justice, and shall never be seen more, or be brought against them to their condemnation, and therefore must be happy persons. The (e) Jews tell us, that

"on the day of atonement Satan comes to accuse Israel, and he particularizes their sins, and the holy blessed God he particularizes their good works, and takes a pair of balances, and puts their sins against their good works, and weighs the one against the other; and when the two scales of the balances are alike, Satan goes to bring in other sins to overweigh; what does the holy blessed God do? he takes the sins out of the scale, and hides them , "under his purple garment"; and when Satan comes and finds no iniquity there, as it is said "the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none", Jeremiah 50:20; and when Satan sees this, he says before him, Lord of the world, "thou hast taken away the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin", Psalm 85:2. Selah.''

The purple garment they explain by , "his garment of mercy"; which is true of the mercy of God covering the sins of his people, through the purple blood of his Son; which is the purple covering of Christ, Sol 3:10, under which the saints go safe to glory, and by which blood their crimson and scarlet sins are blotted out, so as never to be seen more.

(e) Caphtor, fol. 59. 1, 2.

Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
7. Blessed, &c.] The Gr. is verbatim from LXX. It is worth remarking that the words (in the Psalm) following this quotation (“and in whose spirit is no guile”) are in full accord with its application here. The “guile” there is evidently “insincerity in coming as a penitent to God.” The “blessed” are they who are really forgiven—who have really sought forgiveness.

are forgiven] Gr. aorist; were forgiven. The probable reference is to the definite act, past and complete, of remission. So just below, were covered.

covered] The literal translation of the Hebrew word very often translated “atoned for.”

Romans 4:7. Ἀφέθησαν κτλ) So the LXX., Psalm 32:1. The synonymous words are, ἀφιέναι, ἐπικαλύπτειν, οὐ λογίζεσθαι, that sin committed may be accounted as not committed.

Romans 4:7Iniquities (ἀνομίαι)

Lit., lawlessnesses.

Are forgiven (ἀφέθησαν)

Lit., were forgiven. See on Matthew 6:12; see on James 5:15; see on 1 John 1:9. Also see on remission, Luke 3:3.

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