Therefore, just as one trespass brought condemnation for all men, so also one act of righteousness brought justification and life for all men.
I. THE HISTORICAL ANTITHESIS.
1. One trespass unto condemnation - the condemnation that is marked by death.
2. One act of righteousness (i.e. one decree of righteousness) unto justification - the justification that brings life.
II. THE MORAL ANTITHESIS.
1. One man's disobedience making the many sinners: it being imputed to them for sin. The sinfulness of perverted will also bound up in the same sad heritage.
2. One Man's obedience - obedience "unto death" (Philippians 2:8) - making the many righteous: it being imputed to them for righteousness. The power of a holy will also involved in the restored heritage. We see here the immense importance of moral acts; the immense influence also of moral factors. Never to be repeated on such a scale: but not on a lesser scale? "If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it" - T.F.L.
Therefore as by the offence of one Judgment came upon all men to condemnation.I. ITS CAUSE. Sin.
II. ITS MISERIES.
III. ITS CURE.
2. Freely offered.
3. Through the righteousness of Christ.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)I. IN THEIR ORIGIN.
1. The one originates in sin.
2. The other in the righteousness of Christ.
II. IN THEIR EVIDENCES.
1. The one is distinguished by disobedience.
2. The other by the obedience of faith.
III. IN THEIR RELATION TO THE LAW.
1. The law exposes sin, and increases condemnation.
2. Grace removes both yet magnifies the law.
IV. IN THEIR RESULTS.
1. Condemnation brings death temporal, eternal.
2. Grace confers a new life on earth and a glorious and blissful life in the world to come.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)1. One of the chief glories of Christianity is this — it is the religion of facts. These facts are few, extraordinary, and eternal and universal in their aspects.
2. In the context we have two classes of facts.(1) Dark melancholy facts.(a) Sin is in the world; it has quenched its lights, destroyed its liberties, embittered its enjoyments. History, observation and our own consciousness convince us of this.(b) Death is in the world. It has reigned from Adam to this day. Individuals, families, nations, the world are dying. Every sepulchre, funeral, illness, pulse, reminds us that the dust is to be our home.(c) Both sin and death have entered the world by the same man, Adam. The origin of evil is a deep mystery, but its introduction to our world is a historical fact clearly stated in the Bible. God made Adam the father, the priest of the world, but Adam ruined it and himself. Adam was the original sinner, and we his children sin and die.(2) Bright and animating facts.(a) Grace is in the world. "Grace hath abounded." God was under no obligation to show or continue grace to this world. He might withdraw it; that would leave man a demon in character, who would soon kindle around himself the fires of an universal hell. Grace alone keeps the world from becoming the victim of its own transgression.(b) There is a higher, nobler life than this. "Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life." Eternal life means freedom from sin, which is the destroyer of the innocence, happiness and utility of man; freedom from the penalties of violated law; and freedom from annihilation, It means an existence without sin, misery, or end.(c) This grace and eternal life flow to man through the same channel, "Christ Jesus the Lord."
3. The apostle states these great truths —(1) To convince Jews and Gentiles that both were equally indebted to Christ for salvation. The Gentile had the law written on his conscience, and the Jew had the law outwardly written, and both transgressed, so that both needed a Saviour.(2) To set forth the nature and number of benefits derived through the mediation of Christ.
I. THE EXISTENCE OF THE HUMAN RACE RESTS ON THE MEDIATION OF JESUS.
1. "The Lord commanded the man, saying,...of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." A phrase which must have meant either absolute annihilation or the dissolution of soul and body, and the consequent punishment of both in hell. But Adam did sin. Was his existence quenched? Was he driven to hell? No. Was he spared on the ground of rectitude? No; for if justice could have spared him for one hour, it could have spared him forever. But he was spared; and as he could not have been spared on the ground of justice, he must have been spared on the ground of grace, and if on the ground of grace, then it was through the mediation of Christ, for grace reigns only through Him.
2. A new system was introduced, and Adam's forfeited being was spared, and his species was to be multiplied because the Second Adam had been appointed to be the Great Head and Saviour of the human kind. But if our very existence is an effect of the great mediatorial scheme, all the means, comforts, and hopes of our existence are also effects of the same scheme. In Him all things consist.
3. Under the government of the Son of Man the human race has already grown into extraordinary numerical greatness, and is to continue to augment in strength, moral and physical excellence, grandeur and happiness, for perhaps millions of years to come. It is natural to think so, if we consider the honour which God has already bestowed on our nature, by raising it to union with Himself; that four thousand years were occupied in preparations for the advent; the extensive provisions that have been made for the future accommodation of our race in another world; that the agency of the Church is in its infancy; that the sciences and arts, matter and mind, have hardly yet presented their first oblations to Christianity.
4. Christ is to be honoured here more than He has yet been. It was on earth He was born, died, first published His salvation, qualified Himself for His mediatorial crown. Here, also, He is to be acknowledged as the Lord of all. The mediation of Christ is the basis of human existence, and the means of restoration to light, purity and glory.
II. THE MEDIATORY AGENCY OF JESUS CHRIST PROCURES IMMORTALITY FOR MAN.
1. Man's existence is not limited to this narrow, dark sphere. Our immortality and the knowledge of it are the gifts of Christ. His existence in the invisible world is the greatest proof we have of its reality. His resurrection and ascension are the most convincing arguments for a future world. He lives. We shall live.
2. It is true that an endless existence will be a curse to the wicked; but let not the author of immortality be blamed for that. Remember —(1) Existence is a blessing; history and consciousness prove that.(2) Nothing can render existence a curse but sin. It is not in the power of any creature. The Creator Himself will not render a perfectly holy being unhappy.(3) Christ is now able and willing to take away sin from us. Yes, He is willing, and if you are so too, your existence is safe forever.
III. THE MEDIATION OF CHRIST HAS FURNISHED US WITH A SYSTEM OF MEANS TO PREPARE US FOR A HAPPY IMMORTALITY. "Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." Here is the essence of the gospel. This is —
1. A system of grace. The doctrine of human merit is at once unphilosophical and unscriptural. Man's salvation is all of grace. Its origination, discovery, application, and perfection in heaven is grace. Let us trust and triumph in gospel grace.
2. A system of righteousness also. It justifies man before God, and justifies God in doing so before His own intelligent universe. Here, then, is a scheme that is just to all. It injures none; it benefits the universe.Conclusion: From the whole we may infer —
1. That Christianity is infinitely superior to natural religion. It reveals more, and its revelations are warm, loving, transforming.
2. Christ is the most extraordinary and interesting Being in the universe. How vast His sphere! How benevolent His agency! How Divine His character! In all things He has the preeminence.
3. Let us rejoice in Christianity while parting with friends in death. Christ lives, they live. We shall also live.
I. THE LOSS TO ALL MEN THROUGH ADAM.
1. There is no principle more widely conceded than that of representation. Our national, municipal, and social arrangements, are all more or less representative. We honour the son of a good man, not merely for his own excellence, but also for the sake of his father. We suspect the son of a bad man, even although we know no evil of him personally. No one imagines that there is any injustice in this. Those who suffer by it are pitied, but their misfortune is recognised to be the natural consequence of their connection with those whom they represent. On the other hand we never grudge to others any advantage which they may gain by it.
2. Now this principle is everywhere recognised in the Bible. We read that the "Lord our God is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children," etc. We see the descendants of Canaan punished for their progenitors' offence; the Edomites excluded from their birthright because their father Esau had despised it; how the wives and children of Achan and those of Dathan and Abiram were destroyed because of the sin of their relatives. We find Jesus Himself declaring that vengeance was about to descend upon the children of those who slew the prophets. And when we read the story of the siege of Jerusalem, that awful record seems to demand no less an explanation than that "all the righteous blood shed upon the earth" was exacted at the hands of that generation. "His blood be upon us and upon our children"; and in the story of the Jews through eighteen centuries, who can fail to perceive the cleaving of the curse?
3. The loss which has come to all men through the trespass of Adam is an instance of this great law of representation. Adam was the head of our race. He could neither stand nor fall alone. That which we see upon a small scale when the fortunes of a family depend upon the conduct of some member, or when the history of a nation is determined by some one statesman's decision — that took place upon the vastest scale when Adam was placed upon his probation in Eden. What was the tragic issue we all know. The head of the family gambled away his fair inheritance, bequeathing only to us the bitter entail of his corruption and death. The forbidden fruit turned out to be a deadly poison, and the pale infection has spread through all the race. Adam had been created in the likeness of God. But when Adam begat a child (Genesis 5:3), it was in the image of a depraved and fallen man. The perversity which appears in early childhood, the proneness to error even of the wisest and most virtuous, the callous indifference to the will of Heaven which characterises the majority, the common selfishness and the black list of daily crimes are witnesses of the curse that broods over the nations. Moreover, there is in the conscience of every one of us the knowledge that we have our own sad share in the inheritance of the fall.
4. There is something painful in this view of life. To be born under the condemnation of God, who can bear to think of it? As Paul points out in this very chapter, death, the wages of sin, comes even upon those "who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression"; i.e., the sentence comes upon those who have not personally incurred it. Torturing pains and untimely death are allotted to our little babes, and to those who, by reason of disease or imperfection of brain, are at no period of their lives responsible. God forbid that because of this we should challenge the Divine justice. If I suffer wrong today because of the crime or folly of some ancestor, the wrong be upon the head of the offender, not upon the law! Yet if this were the whole truth we might, indeed, be perplexed and broken-hearted. But, thank God, there is a counterbalancing fact, viz. —
II. THE GAIN TO ALL MEN THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. By His righteous act there is an issue unto all men towards acquittal resulting in life. We have in this new fact a new operation of the representative principle. It pleased God to make His Divine Son a Second Great Head of the human race, that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 11:3). As our Representative He paid the penalty of our sins. "He bare our sins in His own body on the tree." As our Representative He fulfilled all righteousness, "that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." From the first Adam a poison passed into the lives of all men. From the Second an antidote passed into the lives of all men. The statements have respect not to a portion of the race, not to an elect few, but to all men.
1. We owe to Christ the very fact of our existence. The warning to Adam respecting the forbidden fruit was, "In the day thou cutest thereof thou shalt surely die." Had the sentence been speedily executed, then, in the deepest of all senses, we should all have died in Adam, for we should never have been born. What was it that arrested the course of the law? Not justice, surely; but grace (John 1:17). It was because of the obedience of Christ, foreseen and mercifully taken into account, that Adam was spared, and that our birth into this world became possible.
2. All men owe much more than this. When we come to inspect human nature, we find there that which cannot be accounted for by our descent from the fallen Adam. Those who have had to deal with abandoned women declare that beneath all their degradation they have discovered something left of womanhood and modesty. Those who have moved freely among the vilest men of the land, have found in the deepest heart of the blackest reprobates something of good. In every man, side by side with a corruption whose issue is unto condemnation, there exists, also, a pure influence, whose issue, could it but prevail, is unto justification of life. Whence comes this influence? Is it a part of our heritage from the first Adam? We cannot believe it. Can a clean thing come out of an unclean? Do men gather grapes on thorns, or figs on thistles? Whatever of generosity, of purity, is found in any human heart; whatever gracious disposition, or kindly motive, or noble inspiration; whatever is sweet and child-like in the young; whatever is modest, and gentle, and winsome in woman; whatever is brave, and loyal, and faithful in man is some portion of that heritage of good which has come to us from Christ, the federal Head and redeeming Representative of our race. Conclusion: We are here today, losers and gainers by this principle of representation. The first Adam and the second are in every one of us. We have inherited from both. We have inherited a sinful and corrupt nature. We have inherited also a better nature. We stand now upon our own personal probation. We are summoned now to make our choice between the "natural man" that is in us, and the "Spiritual Man" that is in us. The issue is for eternity, and "why will ye die?" Choose not that forbidden fruit, whose bitter end is death, or at the last the just God must needs ratify your choice, and you will perish in the second death. Choose rather to live. Let that life which was bestowed for Christ's sake be used in Christ's service.
(W. J. Woods, B. A.)1. Some points of importance are lost in the authorised rendering. "The offence of one" is, in the original, "one offence," or "one trespass," as in Matthew 6:14. The word properly expresses a fall by the side of the path of duty. "The righteousness of one" is, in the same way, in the original, "one act of righteousness." The whole redeeming work of Christ is here, then, summed up into a single act of righteousness. The next verse explains the expression by introducing the equivalent word obedience, and if further explanation were needed, St. Paul himself gives it in Philippians 2:8. "Obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the Cross"; not a death by itself as a single isolated deed, but as a crown of life — the self-sacrifice begun in incarnation, continued through the earthly life, and consummated on Calvary. Through this one act of righteousness the free gift through the grace of Jesus (ver. 15), "bringeth all men unto the justification of life," i.e., bringing with it the absolution which has life in it, the free forgiveness which gives that unity with God which is the eternal life of the soul. This is the first change of rendering.
2. The next is perhaps yet more important. The fourfold omission in ver 19 (A.V) of the definite article is a very serious loss. St. Paul did not write Greek at random. In ver. 16 he omits the article, for there his purpose was to contrast the singleness of the sin which brought condemnation to the multitudes with the sins which elicited and evoked compassion; but in vers. 15, 17 and 19 the particular one man who brought sin and death is designedly set in contrast with the particular one man who brought in grace and life. The other pair of omissions in this verse is equally serious. Many were made sinners, many were made righteous, is a culpable gloss upon St. Paul's language. St. Paul was not afraid to say judgment came upon all men; the free gift came upon all to justification of life; nor that the many were made sinners and the many were made righteous; the all in the one verse and the many in the other are equivalent terms. St. Paul's object was to show the universality of redemption. Christ, by His one sacrifice made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Although they will not come, He yet speaks in that universal "whosoever will." The gracious work of Christ in redeeming is co-extensive with the disastrous work of Adam in ruining — "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." As through the disobedience of one man, the many — the universe of humanity — were made or placed on the footing of sinners, even so through the obedience of the One shall the many be constituted as righteous.
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