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The Apostle having clearly stated, and fully proved the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of faith, proceeds to observe the comfortable fruits and effects of this great blessing, known and enjoyed by the believer; as also the source and spring of it, the love of God, which appears in the death of Christ, in the room and stead of his people, which is the foundation on which it stands; and likewise gives an illustration of this benefit, by comparing the two heads, Adam and Christ, together. The first fruit and effect of justification, as a benefit perceived and enjoyed by faith, is peace with God through Christ, ( Romans 5:1). The next is access through the Mediator to the throne of grace, where justified ones stand with a holy boldness and confidence, and the third is a cheerful hope of eternal glory, ( Romans 5:2), yea, such not only have joy in the hope of what is to come, but glory even in present afflictions; which prevents an objection that might be made to the above mentioned fruits and effects of justification, taken from the tribulations which saints are exercised with: and what occasions glorying even in these, is the sanctified use, or happy produce of afflictions, these being the means of exercising and increasing patience; by means of which a larger experience of divine things is gained; and through that, hope is confirmed, and all influenced by a plenteous discovery of the love of God to the soul, by the Spirit, ( Romans 5:4,5), an instance of which love is given, ( Romans 5:6), in Christ's dying for men; which love is enhanced by the character and condition of the persons for whom Christ died, being ungodly, and without strength; and by the time of it, being due time: then follows a further illustration of this love, by comparing it with what instances of love are to be found among men, ( Romans 5:7), by which it appears to be unparalleled; since scarcely for a righteous man, peradventure for a good man, one would die, yet no man dies for the ungodly, as Christ did: hence as his, so his Father's love is highly commended, by giving him up to death for persons while in such a state and condition, and under such a character, ( Romans 5:8), and justification now springing from this love, and being founded on the death of Christ, hence follow a security from wrath to come, ( Romans 5:9), a certainty of salvation, ( Romans 5:10), which is strongly argued from the different characters those Christ died for bear, before and after reconciliation, and from the death to the life of Christ, ( Romans 5:10), and also a rejoicing and glorying: in God through Christ, full expiation being made by his blood for sin, and this received by faith, ( Romans 5:11), and then the apostle proceeds to compare the two heads, Adam and Christ, together; the design of which is to show the largeness and freeness of the love and grace of God; how righteousness for justification comes by Christ; and how the persons, before described as sinners and ungodly, came to be in such a condition; and that is through the sin of the first man, in whom they all were, and in whom they all sinned and died, ( Romans 5:12), wherefore there must be a law before the law of Moses, or there could have been no sin, ( Romans 5:13), but that sin was in being, and was reckoned and imputed to the posterity of Adam, is clear from this single instance, death's power even over infants, from the times of Adam to Moses, ( Romans 5:14) who therefore must be a public head, representing all his posterity; so that they were involved in the guilt of his sin, which brought death upon them; and in this he was a type of Christ, as is asserted in the same verse; that so as Adam was but one, and by one sin of his conveyed death to all his seed; so Christ, the Mediator, is but one, and by his one obedience conveys righteousness and, life to all his seed: and yet in some things there is a dissimilitude; sin and death, through the first man, are conveyed in a natural way to his offspring, but righteousness and life from Christ in a way of grace, ( Romans 5:15), It was one offence of Adam's, which brought condemnation and death upon all his posterity; but the righteousness of Christ is not only a justification of his seed from that one offence, but from all others, ( Romans 5:16), the one is unto death, the other unto life; and greater is the efficacy in the one to quicken, than in the other to kill, ( Romans 5:17), where a repetition is made of what is said in ( Romans 5:15), with an explanation, and the similitude between the two heads is clearly expressed, ( Romans 5:18), where condemnation on account of the sin of Adam, and justification through the righteousness of Christ, are opposed to each other; and both as extending to the whole of their several respective offspring, condemnation through Adam's offence to all his natural seed, and justification of life through Christ's righteousness to all his spiritual seed; which is still more fitly and clearly expressed in ( Romans 5:19), where the way and manner in which the one become sinners, and the other righteous, is plainly directed to; that it is, by the imputation of Adam's disobedience to the one, and by the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the other: in ( Romans 5:20), an objection is obviated, which might be formed thus; if justification is by the grace of God, and through the obedience and righteousness of Christ, then the law is of no use; what purpose does that serve? what occasion was there for its entrance? The apostle replies, that though justification is not by it, yet a good end is answered by its entrance; for hereby sin is more known to be what it is, both original and actual; and the grace of God appears more abundant in justification from it, and in the pardon of it; and this grace is further illustrated in ( Romans 5:21), by comparing sin and grace together, and the different effects of their empire over the sons of men; the one reigning unto death, the other reigning through righteousness to eternal life by Christ.
Ver. 1. Therefore being justified by faith , etc..] Not that faith is at the first of our justification; for that is a sentence which passed in the mind of God from all eternity, and which passed on Christ, and on all the elect considered in him, when he rose from the dead; (see Romans 4:25); nor is it the chief, or has it the chief place in justification; it is not the efficient cause of it, it is God that justifies, and not faith; it is not the moving cause of it, that is the free grace of God; it is not the matter of it, that is the righteousness of Christ: we are not justified by faith, either as God's work in us, for, as such, it is a part of sanctification; nor as our work or act, as exercised by us, for then we should be justified by works, by something of our own, and have whereof to glory; but we are justified by faith objectively and relatively, as that relates to the object Christ, and his righteousness; or as it is a means of our knowledge, and perception of our justification by Christ's righteousness, and of our enjoying the comfort of it; and so we come to have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . The apostle having set the doctrine of justification in a clear light, and fully proved that it is not by the works of men, but by the righteousness of God; and having mentioned the several causes of it, proceeds to consider its effects, among which, peace with God stands in the first place; and is so called, to distinguish it from peace with men, which persons, though justified by faith in Christ's righteousness, may not have; but are sure, having a sense of this, to find peace with God, even with him against whom they have sinned, whose law they have transgressed, and whose justice they have affronted; reconciliation for sin being made, and a justifying righteousness brought in, and this imputed and applied to them, they have that “peace of God”, that tranquillity and serenity of mind, the same with “peace with God” here, “which passes all understanding”, ( Philippians 4:7); and is better experienced than expressed: and this is all through our Lord Jesus Christ; it springs from his atoning sacrifice, and precious blood, by which he has made peace; and is communicated through the imputation of his righteousness, and the application of his blood; and is only felt and enjoyed in a way of believing, by looking to him as the Lord our righteousness.
Ver. 2. By whom also we have access by faith , etc..] The access here spoken of is not to the blessing of justification; for though that is a grace which we have access to by Christ, and come at the knowledge of by faith, and enjoy the comfort of through it; and is a grace in which persons stand, and from which they shall never fall, and lays a solid foundation for rejoicing in hope of eternal glory; yet this sense would make the apostle guilty of a great tautology; and besides, he is not speaking of that blessing itself, but of its effects; and here of one distinct from “peace with God”, before mentioned, as the word also manifestly shows: nor does it design any other blessing of grace, as pardon, adoption, sanctification, etc.. and an access thereunto; not unto the free grace, favour, and good will of God, the source of all blessings; but to the throne of grace, which may be called that grace , because of its name, for God, as the God of all grace, sits upon it; it is an high favour to be admitted to it; it is grace persons come thither for, and which they may expect to find there: and in , or “at” which we stand ; which denotes boldness, courage, and intrepidity, and a freedom from a servile fear and bashful spirit, and a continued constant attendance at it; all which is consistent with reverence, humility, and submission to the will of God. Now access to the throne of grace, and standing at that, are “by” Christ. There is no access to God in our own name and righteousness, and upon the foot of our own works. Christ is the only way of access to God, and acceptance with him; he is the Mediator between God and us; he introduces into his Father's presence, gives audience at his throne, and renders both persons and services acceptable unto him: and this access is also “by faith”; and that both in God the Father, as our covenant God and Father; in faith of interest in his love and favour; believing his power and faithfulness, his fulness and sufficiency, and that he is a God hearing and answering prayer: and also in the Lord Jesus Christ; in his person for acceptance; in his righteousness for justification; in his blood for pardon; and in his fulness for every supply: and such as have access to the throne of grace by faith in Christ, being comfortably persuaded of their justification before God, through his righteousness imputed to them, can and do rejoice in hope of the glory of God ; which is another effect of justification by faith: by the “glory of God”; which is another effect of justification by faith: by the “glory of God”, is not meant the essential glory of God; nor that which we ought to seek in all that we are concerned, and which we are to ascribe unto him on the account of his perfections and works; but that everlasting glory and happiness which he has prepared for his people, has promised to them, and has called them to by Christ, and will bestow upon them; of which he has given them a good hope through grace; and in the hope and believing views of which they can, and do rejoice, even amidst a variety of afflictions and tribulations in this world. The Vulgate Latin version reads, “in hope of the glory of the children of God”; eternal glory being proper to them.
Ver. 3. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also , etc..] The tribulations of the saints are many and various, through the hatred of the world, the temptations of Satan, their own corruptions; and are the will of their heavenly Father; what Christ has foretold, and they expect; and here particularly design such as are for Christ's sake, which being supported under, and carried through, they glory in: not that these are desirable in themselves, and to the flesh; but they glory in them as they are for Christ's sake, and in a good cause; as they are trials of grace, and of use for the exercise of it: and as they are in the exercise of grace, amidst these tribulations, and are comforted under them, and are helped to have regard to the heavenly glory. The ground of which glorying is, that these afflictions are the means of promoting patience, experience, and hope: knowing this, that tribulation worketh patience ; patience is a grace, of which God is the author; it is one of the fruits of the Spirit; the word of God is the means of its being first implanted; and afflictions are the means of promoting it, when they are sanctified; otherwise they produce impatience, murmurings, and repinings; there is great need of patience under them; and, by divine grace, they are the matter and occasion of exercising, and so of increasing it.
Ver. 4. And patience experience , etc..] As tribulations tend to exercise and increase patience, so patience being exercised and increased, enlarges the saints' stock and fund of experience; of the love and grace of God communicated to them at such seasons; of his faithfulness in fulfilling his promises; of his power in supporting them; and of their own frailty and weakness; and so are taught humility, thankfulness, and resignation to the will of God: and experience, hope ; hope is a gift of God's grace, and is implanted in regeneration, but abounds, increases, and becomes more strong and lively by experience of the love, grace, mercy, power, and faithfulness of God.
Ver. 5. And hope maketh not ashamed , etc..] As a vain hope does, things not answering to expectation, it deceives, and is lost; but the grace of hope is of such a nature, as that it never fails deceives, or disappoints: it neither makes ashamed, nor have persons that have any reason to be ashamed of it; neither of the grace itself, which is a good one; nor of the ground and foundation of it, the person and righteousness of Christ; nor of the object of it, eternal glory: because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us . By “the love of God” is meant, not that love by which we love God, for hope does not depend upon, nor is it supported by our love and obedience to God; but the love of God to us, of which some instances are given in the following verses: us is said “to be shed abroad in our hearts”; which denotes the plenty and abundance of it, and the full and comfortable sensation which believers have of it: “by the Holy Spirit”: who leads into, and makes application of it: “and is given to us”: for that purpose, as the applier of all grace, the Comforter, and the earnest of heaven. Now the love which the Spirit sheds abroad in the heart, is the source and spring, both of justification itself, which is owing to the free grace of God, and of all the effects of it, as peace with God, access to the throne of grace, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, the usefulness of afflictions, and the stability of hope, and is here alleged as the reason of all.
Ver. 6. For when we were yet without strength , etc..] The apostle having mentioned the love of God proceeds to give an instance, and which is a full proof and demonstration of it, which is, that in due time Christ died for the ungodly . That Christ died is certain; the death of Christ was foretold in prophecy, typified by the sacrifices of slain beasts, was spoken of by himself, both before and since his death; his enemies have never denied it; and this was the sum of the ministry of the apostles, and is the great article of faith: and that the death of Christ is a singular instance of the love of God, is evident by considering the person that died, the Son of God in human nature, his own, his only begotten Son, his beloved Son; the concern which God had in it, by willing, ordering, and appointing it, awaking the sword of justice against him, not sparing him, but delivering him up for us all; also the nature, kind, and manner of his death, and particularly the persons for whom he died, here described: he “died for the ungodly”; not for himself, he had no sins of his own to die for, nor did he want any happiness to procure; nor for angels, but for men; and these not holy, just, and good men, but ungodly; and not as a mere martyr, or only by way of example to them, and so for their good; but as the Syriac version reads it, a[yçr Plj , “in the room”, or “stead of the ungodly”, as their surety to make satisfaction for their sins. The Jews have a notion of the Messiah's being a substitute, and standing in the place and stead of sinners; and they say f69 , “that Aaron filled up the place of the first Adam, and was brought near in the room of him;” which is true of Christ, the antitype of Aaron. On those words, “I will give a man for thee”, ( Isaiah 43:4); the doctors say, “do not read Adam, but Edom; for when God removes the decree (or punishment) from a particular man, he provides for the attribute of justice in the room of the man that sinned, µwdam ab rja çya , “another man that comes from Edom”;” referring, as I think, to ( Isaiah 63:1). And this their character of ungodly shows, that not goodness in man, but love in God, was the moving cause of Christ's dying for them; and that the end of his dying was to atone for their ungodliness: and to illustrate the love of God the more towards them in this instance, they are said to be “without strength” at that time; being so enfeebled by sin, that they were not capable of fulfilling the law, of atoning for the transgressions of it, of redeeming themselves from slavery, of beginning and carrying on a work of holiness their hearts, nor indeed of doing one good thing. Add to all this, that Christ died for these persons in due time; in the most fit, proper, and convenient season to illustrate the love and grace of God; when man appeared both weak and wicked; when the weakness of the legal dispensation had been sufficiently evinced, and the wickedness of man, both among Jews and Gentiles, was at a very great height: or rather by “due time” is meant the “fulness of time”, ( Galatians 4:4 Ephesians 1:10); the time appointed in council by God, agreed to by Christ, and fixed in prophecy; before the departure of the sceptre from Judah, the destruction of the second temple, and at the close of Daniel's weeks.
Ver. 7. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die , etc..] The design of this, and the following verse, is to show that Christ's dying for ungodly persons is an instance of kindness that is matchless and unparalleled. By “a righteous man”, is not meant a truly gracious, holy man; nor one that is made righteous by the obedience of Christ; but one that is so in his own eyes, and in the esteem of others, being outwardly moral and righteous before men; who keeps to the letter of the law, and does, as he imagines, what that externally requires: such were the Pharisees among the Jews, who, though they were had in much outward esteem and veneration among the people, yet were rather feared than loved; and it would have been a difficult thing to have found a person that would cheerfully venture, and lay down his life for any of that complexion and cast: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die . By “a good man”, is not meant a man made so by the grace of God, and who is indeed truly and properly the only good man; but a liberal and beneficent man, who was very bountiful in his charitable distributions to the poor, and very liberal in contributing towards the charge of sacrifices, repairs of the temple, etc.. and did more this way than what the law obliged to. Now for such a man perhaps there might be some found so daring and hardy, as to venture and lay down their lives, when there was any danger of his, or any necessity for so doing; so great an interest such men had in the affections of the people. And so the Jews distinguish between qydx , “a righteous man”, and dysj , “a good man”. They say f72 , “there is a righteous man that is good, and there is a righteous man that is not good; but he that is good for heaven, and the creatures, i.e. for God and men, this is bwj qydx , “a righteous good man”; but he that is good to God, and evil to men, this is bwj wnyaç qydx , “a righteous man that is not good”.”
The whole body of the people of the Jews were divided into three sorts: take a short sentence out of their Talmud f73 , not to support the justness of the characters, but for the sake of this threefold division of the people: “three things are said concerning the paring of the nails, qydx , “a righteous man” buries them, dysj , “a good man” burns them, [çr , “a wicked man” casts them away.”
Now to this division of the people the apostle alludes; and there is in the words a beautiful gradation, scarcely for one of the µyqydx , “righteous men”, who does just what he is obliged to do by the law, and no more, will any die; perhaps it may be, that for one of µydysj , “the good men”, who are very liberal to the poor, and towards defraying all the expenses of the temple service, in which they exceed the strict demands of the law, some may be found willing to die; but who will die for the µy[çr , “the wicked and ungodly”, the profligate and abandoned part of the people? not one, but Christ died for the ungodly: wherefore if instances could be produced of men's dying either for righteous men, or good men, these would not come up to the instance of Christ's dying for men, who were neither righteous nor good.
Ver. 8. But God commendeth his love towards us , etc..] That is, he hath manifested it, which was before hid in his heart; he has given clear evidence of it, a full proof and demonstration of it; he has so confirmed it by this instance, that there is no room nor reason to doubt of it; he has illustrated and set it off with the greater lustre by this circumstance of it, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us . God's elect were sinners in Adam, in whom they were naturally and federally, as all mankind were; hence polluted and guilty; and so they are in their own persons whilst unregenerate: they are dead in sin, and live in it, commit it, are slaves unto it, and are under the power and dominion of it; and many of them are the chief and vilest of sinners; and such they were considered when Christ died for them: but are not God's people sinners after conversion? yes; but sin has not the dominion over them; their life is not a course of sinning, as before; and besides, they are openly justified and pardoned, as well as renewed, and sanctified, and live in newness of life; so that their characters now are taken, not from their worse, but better part. And that before conversion is particularly mentioned here, to illustrate the love of God to them, notwithstanding this their character and condition; and to show that the love of God to them was very early; it anteceded their conversion; it was before the death of Christ for them; yea, it was from everlasting: and also to express the freeness of it, and to make it appear, that it did not arise from any loveliness in them; or from any love in them to him; nor from any works of righteousness done by them, but from his own sovereign will and pleasure.
Ver. 9. Much more then being now justified by his blood , etc..] The apostle here argues from justification by Christ to salvation by him, there being a certain and inseparable connection between these two; whoever is justified shall be saved; and speaks of justification “as being now by his blood”. Justification in God's mind from eternity proceeded upon the suretyship engagements of Christ to be performed in time; the Old Testament saints were justified of God with a view to the blood of the Lamb which was to be shed; this blood was “now” shed, and an application of justification by it was “now” made to the persons spoken of; which is the reason of this way of speaking. The blood of Christ intends his death, as appears from the context, and shows it to be a violent death; death by the effusion of blood. There is an emphasis upon it, “his blood”; not the blood of bulls and goats, nor of a mere innocent creature, but of Christ the Son of God; which is therefore efficacious to all the purposes for which it was shed, and particularly justification. This being ascribed to it, shows the concern Christ had in it, his blood is here put for the whole matter of justification; the shedding of that being the finishing part of it; and that our justification before God proceeds upon the foot of a satisfaction made to the law and justice of God: hence such as are interested in it, shall be saved from wrath through him : not from wrath, as a corruption in their own hearts, which oftentimes breaks forth; nor as appearing among the people of God one towards another, which is sometimes very bitter; or as in their avowed enemies, the effects of which they often feel; nor from the wrath of devils, which is as the roaring of a lion; but from the wrath of God, from a sense and apprehension of it in their own consciences, which the law works; from which justification by the blood of Christ frees them; though under first awakenings they feel it, and sometimes, under afflictive dispensations of Providence, are ready to fear it: and also from the infliction of vindictive wrath or punishment for sin; for though they are as deserving of it as others, yet as they are not appointed to it, so they are entirely delivered from it, through Christ's sustaining it in their room and stead: wherefore they are secure from it both in this life, and in the world to come.
Ver. 10. For if when we were enemies , etc..] For the further illustration of the love of God expressed to sinners, by the death of his Son, the state and condition God's elect were in when Christ died for them is taken notice of; they “were enemies”; to God, to his being, perfections, purposes, and providences; to Christ, to his person, offices, grace, and righteousness; to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit, and his divine operations and influences; to the people of God, and to the Gospel and ordinances of Christ; which enmity is deeply rooted in their minds, is causeless, and undeserved, and is implacable, and irreconcileable without the power and grace of God; which grace of God is wonderfully displayed in the reconciliation of such persons, by the death of his Son . Reconciliation implies a former state of friendship, a breach of that friendship, and a making of it up again; which no ways contradicts the everlasting and unchangeable love of God to his people; for this is not a reconciliation of God to them, but of them to God: we were reconciled to God ; not God to us; and this reconciliation is for their sins, an atonement for them, rather than of their persons; which being done, their persons are reconciled, not to the love, grace, and mercy of God, or to his affections, in which they always had a share, but to the justice of God injured and offended by their sins; and so both justice and holiness on one side, and love, grace, and mercy on the other, are reconciled together, in the business of their salvation; which is brought about by the sufferings and death of Christ: this expresses the wonderful love of God, since this reconciliation arises purely from himself; the scheme of it is of his own contriving; he, whose justice was affronted, and whose law was broken, took the first step towards it, and conducted the whole affair; and which was effected at the expense of the blood and life of his own Son, and that for persons who were enemies to them both. In consequence of this, another reconciliation of them is made by the Spirit of God in regenerations, of which notice is taken in this passage: much more being reconciled : to God, as a sovereign God, in his decrees, in his providences, and in the method of salvation by his Son; to Christ, to the way of salvation by him, so as to submit both to his righteousness for justification, and to the sceptre of his kingdom, to be ruled and governed by it; to the Spirit, so as to be led by him, to walk after him, and to depend upon him for the carrying on, and finishing the good work of grace begun in them; to the people of God, so as to love them, and delight in their company; and to the Gospel and ordinances, so as highly to value them, long after them, and take pleasure in them. Now from both these reconciliations is inferred the sure and certain salvation of persons so reconciled: we shall be saved by his life ; by the life of Christ, and which designs not so much his life as God; or his living in the hearts of his people by faith; though neither of them are to be excluded; but his life, as man, and that not either his private or public life, as man here on earth, though this has an influence upon, and a concern in the business of salvation; but more especially here is meant the interceding life of Christ in heaven, where he lives, and ever lives to make intercession for his people, and to see the salvation he has obtained by his death applied unto them, and they put into the possession of it.
Ver. 11. And not only so, but we also joy in God , etc..] Something seems here to be understood, and which is to be supplied thus; not only we are saved by his life, and from wrath through him; not only are we reconciled to God by his Son, and Spirit; not only Christ has died for us while sinners and ungodly; not only do we glory in tribulations, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God: “but we also joy in God”; himself, as our covenant God and Father in Christ, as the God of all grace, peace, and salvation; in his perfections, as engaged on our side, and as glorified in our salvation; in the purposes of God, and his covenant transactions with his Son, as they are made known in the everlasting Gospel; in all his providential dispensations, which are mercy and truth; and in our being of him in Christ, and Christ's being made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; in all the blessings of grace we receive from him, the glory of which is his due; and in his sight and presence, and in the enjoyment of him. The means by which saints come at this joying and glorying in God, is through our Lord Jesus Christ ; not the light of nature, nor the law of Moses, nor any works of righteousness done by men, nor through angels or saints, but Christ, and him only; for it is only in and through him that God is their covenant God and Father; by him only have they the agreeable view of his glorious perfections; in him only all his purposes and promises have their fulfilment; it is by his hands, and through his blood, that all the blessings of grace are conveyed to them; their access to God is only by him; and by him they give the praise and glory of every mercy to him. And the ground of this joy is the expiation of sin by Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement ; atonement is not made, but received by us; which denotes the application of the atoning blood and sacrifice of Christ to the conscience, the Spirit's witness of interest in it, and the office of faith, as a recipient of it: it is not faith, nor anything else of the creature's, that makes the atonement, only Christ; but faith receives it from him, and by him; which, as it is the ground of present joying in God, so it is the foundation of hope of future glory: the word “now” refers to the Gospel dispensation. The poor Jews are at the utmost loss about atonement: sometimes they tell us it is by confession, repentance, and good works; sometimes by beneficence and hospitality f75 ; sometimes they say their captivity is their atonement f76 ; and, at other times, that death expiates all their sins f77 . Blessed be God for the atoning sacrifice of Christ!
Ver. 12. Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world , etc..] The design of these words, and of the following, is to show how men came to be in the condition before described, as “ungodly”, ( Romans 5:6), “sinners”, ( Romans 5:8), and “enemies”, ( Romans 5:10); and to express the love of Christ in the redemption of them; and the largeness of God's grace to all sorts of men: the connection of them is with ( Romans 5:11), by which it appears that the saints have not only an expiation of sin by the blood of Christ, but a perfect righteousness, by which they are justified in the sight of God; and the manner how they came at it, or this becomes theirs, together with the necessity of their having such an one, are here declared: by the “one man” is meant Adam the first man, and parent of mankind, who is mentioned by name in ( Romans 5:14); sin which came by him designs a single sin, and not many, even the first sin of Adam, which goes by different names, as “sin” here, “transgression”, ( Romans 5:14), the “offence” or “fall”, ( Romans 5:15,17,18), “disobedience”, ( Romans 5:19), and whatever was the first step or motive to it, which led to it, whether pride, unbelief, or concupiscence, it was finished by eating the forbidden fruit; and is called sin emphatically, because it contained all sin in it, was attended with aggravating circumstances, and followed with dismal consequences. Hence may be learnt the origin of moral evil among men, which comes not from God, but man; of this it is said, that it “entered into the world”; not the world above, there sin entered by the devil; but the world below, and it first entered into paradise, and then passed through the whole world; it entered into men by the snares of Satan, and by him it enters into all the inhabitants of the world; into all men that descend from him by ordinary generation, and that so powerfully that there is no stopping of it. It has entered by him, not by imitation, for it has entered into such as never sinned after the similitude of his transgression, infants, or otherwise death could not have entered into them, and into such who never heard of it, as the Heathens; besides, sin entered as death did, which was not by imitation but imputation, for all men are reckoned dead in Adam, being accounted sinners in him; add to this, that in the same way Christ's righteousness comes upon us, which is by imputation, Adam's sin enters into us, or becomes ours; upon which death follows, and death by sin ; that is, death has entered into the world of men by sin, by the first sin of the first man; not only corporeal death, but a spiritual or moral one, man, in consequence of this, becoming “dead in sin”, deprived of righteousness, and averse, and impotent to all that is good; and also an eternal death, to which he is liable; for “the wages of sin is death”, ( Romans 6:23); even eternal death: all mankind are in a legal sense dead, the sentence of condemnation and death immediately passed on Adam as soon as he had sinned, and upon all his posterity; and so death passed upon all men ; the reason of which was, for that , or because “in him” all have sinned : all men were naturally and seminally in him; as he was the common parent of mankind, he had all human nature in him, and was also the covenant head, and representative of all his posterity; so that they were in him both naturally and federally, and so “sinned in him”; and fell with him by his first transgression into condemnation and death. The ancient Jews, and some of the modern ones, have said many things agreeably to the apostle's doctrine of original sin; they own the imputation of the guilt of Adam's sin to his posterity to condemnation and death; “through the sin of the first man (say they f78 ) tm hta , “thou art dead”; for he brought death into the world:” nothing is more frequently said by them than that Adam and Eve, through the evil counsel of the serpent, aml[ lklw ˆwl atwm wmyrg , “were the cause of death to themselves and to all the world” f79 ; and that through the eating of the fruit of the tree, a[ra yryyd lk atwm wbyyjta , “all the inhabitants of the earth became guilty of death” f80 : and that this was not merely a corporeal death, they gather from the doubling of the word in the threatening, “in dying thou shalt die”, ( Genesis 2:17) (margin); “this doubled death, say they f81 , without doubt is the punishment of their body by itself, hmx[ ynpb çpnlw , and also of the “soul by itself”.”
They speak of some righteous persons who died, not for any sin of their own, but purely on the account of Adam's sin; as Benjamin the son of Jacob, Amram the father of Moses, and Jesse the father of David, and Chileab the son of David f82 , to these may be added Joshua the son of Nun, and Zelophehad and Levi: the corruption and pollution of human nature through the sin of Adam is clearly expressed by them; “when Adam sinned, (say they f83 ,) he “drew upon him a defiled power, aml[ ynb lklw hyl byasw , “and defiled himself and all the people of the “world”.”
Again f84 , “this vitiosity which comes from the sin and infection of our first parents, has invaded both faculties of the rational soul, the understanding by which we apprehend, and the will by which we desire.”
This corruption of nature they call [rh rxy , “the evil imagination”, which, they say f85 , is planted in a man's heart at the time of his birth; and others say that it is in him before he is born: hence Philo the Jew says f87 , that sumfuev to amartanon esti , “to sin is connatural”, to every man that is born, even though a good man; and talks of suggeghnhnon koukon , “evil that is born with us”, and of suggeneiv khrev , “spots that are of necessity born with” every mortal man. And so his countrymen often speak of it as natural and inseparable to men; yea, they represent Adam as the root and head of mankind, in whom the whole world and all human nature sinned: descanting on those words, “as one that lieth upon the top of a mast”, ( Proverbs 23:34); “this (say they f91 ) is the first man who was µda ynb lkl çar , “an head to all the children of men”: for by means of wine death was inflicted on him, and he was the cause of bringing the sorrows of death into the world.”
And in another place, speaking of Adam, they say f92 , that “he was µlw[ lç hayrb rqy[ , “the root of the creation”, or “of the men of the world”; and death was inflicted upon him and on his seed, because he sinned one sin in eating of the tree.”
And it is observed, “that h[ydyh ah , the “He” demonstrative is not prefixed in Scripture to proper names, which yet is to the word “Adam”; the reason is, (say they f93 ,) because in Adam all his posterity are pointed at, and the whole human species designed.”
Again, they observe f94 , that “the end of man is to die, of which this is the reason, because µdah ˆym , “mankind” has sinned; that is, the nature of which he is composed, or in other words, Adam and Eve have sinned.”
Once more f95 “when he (Adam) sinned, ajj wlk µlw[h lk , “all the whole world sinned”, and his sin we bear;” and that “the whole congregation of Israel have need of atonement for the sin of the first Adam, for he was hd[h lkk bwçj , reckoned as the whole congregation;” which exactly tallies with the apostle's assertion in this text. (When this commentary was written, it was generally accepted that all the fossils in the rocks were laid down by Noah's world wide flood and that the universe was about 6000 years old. Since that time, science has postualated that life evolved over billions of years and that the fossils are a result of this evolutionary process. If you accept the Bible as your authority you cannot accept the theory of evolution in any form. Firstly, the biblical chronology restricts the age of the universe to about 6000 years. Secondly, in order to get fossils, animals must die. This verse tells us that sin, not evolution, is the cause of death. Death and suffering did not exist until after Adam sinned. Hence before Adam sinned, no animal died and it would be impossible for any fossils to form. Before the fall, all animals ate plants, not other animals ( Genesis 1:30). Paul tells us in ( Romans 8:20,21) that Adam's sin subjected all of creation to the curse, not just mankind. (See Gill on “ Romans 6:23”). See Gill (Editor's note) on “Exodus 20:11” . Editor) Ver. 13. For until the law, sin was in the world , etc..] This is a proof of sin's having entered into the world, by one man's transgression of the positive law of God, which forbid him the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; since it was in the world before the law of Moses was given: the sin of Adam and the guilt of that were in the world before, and came upon all men to condemnation; the general corruption of nature appeared before; and actual sins, and transgressions of all sorts were committed before; as by the immediate posterity of Adam, by the men of the old world, by the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, by the patriarchs and their posterity, by the Egyptians, Canaanites, and others.
They were all guilty of sin, corrupted by it, and under the dominion of it, except such as were released from it by the grace of God: now when sin is said to be until this time, the meaning is not that it existed and continued until the law of Moses took place, and then ceased; for that law did not, and could not take away sin, it rather increased it, at least it became more known by it; but that it was in being before it, and had influence and power over the sons of men, so as to subject them to death: but sin is not imputed when there is no law . This looks like an objection, that if there was no law before Moses's time, then there was no sin, nor could any action of man be known or accounted by them as sinful, or be imputed to them to condemnation; or rather it is a concession, allowing that where there is no law, sin is not imputed; but there was a law before that law of Moses, which law was transgressed, and the sin or transgression of it was imputed to men to condemnation and death, as appears from what follows.
Ver. 14. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses , etc..] Though the law of Moses was not yet given, death exerted itself, and extended its dominion over all the sons and daughters of Adam, during the interval between Adam and Moses; which clearly shows that sin was in the world, and that there must be a law in being, which that was a transgression of: death is represented as a king, as sin and Satan sometimes are; and indeed, death reigns by sin, and Satan both by sin and death; their empires rise, stand, and fall together. So Bildad calls death “the king of terrors”, ( Job 18:14); and a very formidable and powerful king he is; his dominion is very large, his power uncontrollable, and the dread of him very great, especially to Christless sinners. The Jews say f97 , that at the resurrection the world will be renewed, and will not be as at the first, when aml[b atwm jylçd , “death reigned in the world”; referring to the same period of time the apostle here does. The subjects of his government were not only adult persons, who had been guilty of many actual transgressions, but he reigned even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression . This does not exclude the dominion of death over such who had sinned after the likeness of Adam, but rather confirms its power over them; nor does it intend adult Gentiles, who did not sin in the same manner, nor against the same law, as Adam did; but it designs infants, not yet guilty of actual sin; and therefore since death reigns over them, who only holds and exercises his dominion by virtue of sin, it follows, that they must have original sin in them; the guilt of Adam's transgression must be imputed to them, and the corruption of nature, from him, derived unto them, or it could not reign over them. A child of a year old, the Jewish doctors say, has not tasted the taste of sin, that is, has not committed actual sin; and observe f99 , that young children die on account of the sins of their parents: but the true reason of their dying is here suggested by the apostle; which is the transgression of Adam: who is the figure of him that was to come ; meaning, either his posterity that were to come out of his loins, whose figure, type, and representative he was; or rather Christ, who is sometimes called o ercomenov , “he that was to come”; and the Arabic version reads the words thus, “who was a type of Adam that was expected”; that is, of Christ the second Adam, that was expected to come, according to the promise and prophecy: of him the first Adam was a type, in his human nature, in the formation and quality of it; as the first Adam was made by God of the virgin earth, the second Adam was born of a virgin; as the first, so the second Adam was pure, holy, upright, and wise; in his office, as Lord of the world, head of the woman, priest in his house, and prophet to his posterity; in his marriage with Eve, a figure of the church; but in nothing more clearly than in his being a covenant head to all his offspring: and this is what the apostle chiefly designs, since he runs the parallel between them on this account in the following verses; showing, that as the one conveyed sin and death to all his seed, so the other communicates righteousness and life to all that belong to him. So the Jews say f100 , that by Adam is intimated the righteous branch, the Messiah; and that jyçm dws awh µda dws , “the secret of Adam is the secret of the Messiah”.
Ver. 15. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift , etc..] By “the offence”, or “fall”, as the word signifies, is meant the first sin of Adam; by which he offended God, and fell from that estate in which he was created, and all his posterity with him; and by the “free gift” is meant, the righteousness of Christ, which justifies from that, and all other offences: now, though there is a great likeness between Adam and Christ; both are men, the first Adam is called “the one man”, and so is the second Adam Jesus Christ; partly for the sake of the comparison between him and the first, and also to express the truth of his human nature; and because the Redeemer ought to be a man, though not a mere man; both are sole authors of what they convey to their respective offspring, Adam of sin, Christ of righteousness; both convey single things, Adam only one sin, not more, for when he had committed one sin, he broke the covenant made with him and his posterity, and so ceased in after acts to be a representative of them; Christ conveys his righteousness, or obedience to the law, without any additional works of righteousness of ours to complete it; and both convey what they do, “to all” their respective offspring: yet there is a dissimilitude between them, as to the manner of conveyance and the effects thereof; the offence or sin of Adam is conveyed in a natural way, or by natural generation, to all who descend from him in that manner; the righteousness of Christ is conveyed in a way of grace, to his spiritual seed: hence it is called, not only the “free gift”, but “the grace of God, and the gift by grace”, which is “by one man, Jesus Christ”; because of the grace of the Father, in fixing and settling the method of justification, by the righteousness of his Son; in sending him to work out one, that would be satisfying to law and justice; and in his gracious acceptation of it, on the behalf of his people, and the imputation of it to them; and because of the grace of the Son in becoming man, in being made under the law, yea, made sin and a curse, in order to bring in an everlasting righteousness; and because of the grace of the Spirit, in revealing and applying it, and working faith to receive it; for as the righteousness itself is a free grace gift, bestowed upon unworthy persons, so is faith likewise, by which it is laid hold on and embraced: and as there is a disagreement in the manner of conveying these things, so likewise in the effects they have upon the persons to whom they are conveyed; and the apostle argues from the influence and effect the one has, to the far greater and better influence and effect the other has: for if through the offence of one many be dead ; as all Adam's posterity are, not only subject to a corporeal death, but involved in a moral or spiritual, and liable to an eternal one, through the imputation of guilt, and the derivation of a corrupt nature from him: then much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many ; that is, the righteousness of Christ, in which the grace of God is so illustrious, is much more effectual to the giving of life to all his seed and offspring; not barely such a life as Adam had in innocence, and which he lost by the offence, but a spiritual and an eternal one; which sheds the exuberance of this grace, which secures and adjudges to a better life than what was lost by the fall.
Ver. 16. And not as [it was] by one that sinned, [so is] the gift , etc..] The apostle goes on with the dissimilitude between the effects of Adam's sin, and Christ's righteousness: for the judgment was by one to condemnation ; by “judgment” is meant, not the judgment of God, or the judiciary sentence pronounced by God on Adam and his posterity for sin; but the guilt of the one man's sin, which is imputed to all men to condemnation, on account of which the sentence of condemnation passed on all men; the law transgressed, became a ministration of condemnation to them: but the free gift is of many offences unto justification ; the righteousness of Christ, which stands opposed to the guilt of Adam's sin, being imputed to all his offspring, is to the justification of them; and that not only from the guilt of that particular offence, but from many other offences, even all their actual sins and transgressions, of every sort; which is another instance of the exuberance, or abounding of the grace of God, in the righteousness of Christ, not only over the sin of the one man, but also over the sins of many, even all the elect of God; for the last clause may be also thus rendered, “the free gift is of the offences of many, unto justification”.
Ver. 17. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one , etc..] It may be rendered, “by one offence death reigned by one”; for it was the single sin of Adam, the first sin that was committed by him, which gave death its reigning power over the sons of men: “Adam, say the Jewish doctors, transgressed, atyyrwad dj adwqp l[ , one commandment of the law,” and was the cause of death to himself, and to all the world. These words are a repetition, with a further explanation, of ( Romans 5:15); there it is said, “through the offence of one many be dead”; here “by one man's offence”, or “by one offence, death reigned by one”; in which death is represented as a mighty monarch, a powerful king; and designs not only corporeal death, which has mounted the throne by sin, and is supported in its dominion by an ordinance of heaven; but also a moral or spiritual death, which has seized on all mankind, and reigns in every power and faculty of the soul of man; and likewise an eternal one, which will have power over all those, who have no part in the first resurrection: in ( Romans 5:15), “the grace of God, and the gift by grace”, are said to “abound unto many”; here they are said to receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness : by abundance of grace is designed, either something distinct from the justifying righteousness of Christ; such as the abundant grace and mercy of God, in regeneration and conversion; the various graces of the Spirit then implanted; the many things then wrought in the heart; the large discoveries! of pardoning grace, and the abundance of the love of God shed abroad in the soul by the Spirit: or rather the same with “the gift of righteousness”, because of the large display of the grace of God in it; by which “righteousness” is meant, not righteousness or holiness infused into us; but the righteousness of Christ, which is a free grace gift, and is enjoyed in a way of receiving; which denotes the act of faith, and supposes giving; and hence there is no room for boasting, but great reason for thankfulness: now such persons who have received this abundant grace and free gift, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ ; in corporeal life, they are not now subject to death as a penal evil, as other persons are, and though they die this death, they will triumph over it in the resurrection morn, they will rise again to everlasting life; they reign now in spiritual life over sin, Satan, and the world; and they will reign in eternal life, they will sit on thrones, wear crowns, and possess a kingdom of glory for ever and ever; and all by and through one, Jesus Christ, and not on account of any works, or merits of theirs.
Ver. 18. Therefore as by the offence of one , etc..] Or by one offence, as before, the guilt of which is imputed to, and [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation ; which word is used in a legal sense, and intends condemnation to eternal death, as appears from the antithesis in the text; for if “justification of life”, means an adjudging to eternal life, as it certainly does, the judgment or guilt, which is unto condemnation, must design a condemnation to eternal death, the just wages of sin: and this sentence of condemnation comes upon all men, all the sons of Adam without exception, even upon the elect of God themselves; though it is not executed upon them, but on their surety, whereby they are delivered from it: even so by the righteousness of one, [the free gift] came upon all men to justification of life ; the righteousness of Christ being freely imputed without works, as it is to all the men that belong to the second Adam, to all his seed and offspring, is their justification of life, or what adjudges and entitles them to eternal life. The sentence of justification was conceived in the mind of God from eternity, when his elect were ordained unto eternal life, on the foot of his Son's righteousness; this passed on Christ at his resurrection from the dead, and on all his people as considered in him, when they, in consequence of it, were quickened together with him; and this passes upon the conscience of a sinner at believing, when he may, as he should, reckon himself alive unto God, and is what gives him a right and title to everlasting life and glory.
Ver. 19. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners , etc..] Agreeably to this the Jews say f102 , that “for the sin of the first man, all that are born of him, µy[çr wyhy , “become wicked”.”
This is the sum of what is said in the foregoing verses, that as by Adam's sin all his posterity are made sinners, and so are brought under a sentence of condemnation; in like manner by the obedience of Christ, all his seed are made righteous, and come under a sentence of justification of life: the persons made sinners are said to be “many”, in opposition to the “one man”, by whose disobedience they became so, and because there is an exception of one, even Jesus Christ; and mean all the natural descendants of Adam, who are many, and are so called, to answer to the subjects of justification in the next clause: what they are made sinners by, is “the disobedience of one man, Adam”; and by the first and single disobedience of his, in eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, by which they “were made sinners”: the meaning of which is not, that they became sufferers for it, or subject to death on the account of it; the word used will not bear such a sense, but signifies men guilty of sin, and sometimes the worst and chief of sinners; besides, the apostle had expressed that before; add to this, that the sons of Adam could not be sufferers for his sin, or subject to death on account of it, if they were not made sinners by it, or involved in the guilt or it: and though the posterity of Adam are habitually sinners, that is, derive corrupt nature from Adam, yet this is not meant here; but that they are become guilty, through the imputation of his sin to them; for it is by the disobedience of another they are made sinners, which must be by the imputation of that disobedience to them; he sinned, and they sinned in him, when they had as yet no actual existence; which could be no other way, than by imputation, as he was reckoned and accounted their head and representative, and they reckoned and accounted in him, and so have sinned in him. This is also evident, from the sentence of condemnation and death passing upon all men for it; and even upon those, who had not actually sinned; to which may be added, that Adam's posterity are made sinners through his disobedience, in the same way as Christ's seed are made righteous by his obedience, which is by the imputation of it to them; so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous ; not by their own obedience; nor by their own obedience and Christ's together; but by his sole and single obedience to the law of God: and the persons made righteous by it are not all the posterity of Adam, and yet not a few of them; but “many”, even all the elect of God, and seed of Christ; these are all made righteous in the sight of God, are justified from all their sins, and entitled to eternal life and happiness.
Ver. 20. Moreover, the law entered , etc..] By “the law” is meant, not the law of nature, much less the law of sin; rather the ceremonial law, which came in over and above the moral law; it entered but for a time; by which sin abounded, and appeared very sinful; and through it the grace of God much more abounded, in the sacrifice of Christ prefigured by it: but the moral law, as it came by Moses, is here intended; which entered with great pomp and solemnity on Mount Sinai; and intervened, or came between Adam's sin and Christ's sacrifice; and also came in besides, or over and above the promise of life by Christ; and may moreover be said to enter into the conscience of a sinner, with the power and energy of the Spirit of God: and the end of its entrance is, that the offence might abound ; meaning either the sin of Adam, he had been speaking of under that name, that that itself, and the imputation of it to his posterity, and also the pollution of human nature by it, together with all the aggravating circumstances of it, might appear more manifest; or sin in general, any and all actual transgressions, which abound through the law's discovering the evil nature of them, and so taking away all excuse, or pretext of ignorance: by prohibiting them, whereby the corrupt nature of man becomes more eager after them; and by accusing, threatening, terrifying, and condemning, on account of them: one view of the apostle in this, doubtless, is to show, that there can be no justification by the law: but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound : sin has abounded in human nature, in all the individuals of it; and grace has superabounded in the same nature, being assumed by the Son of God, and united to him, who has appeared in it “full of grace and truth”, ( John 1:14): sin has abounded in all the powers and faculties of the soul, in the understanding, will, and affections, of an unregenerate man; but in regeneration, the grace of God much more abounds in the same powers and faculties, enlightening the understanding, subduing the will, and influencing the affections with love to divine things: sin abounded in the Gentile world, before the preaching of the Gospel in it; but afterwards grace did superabound in the conversion of multitudes in it from idols, to serve the living God; and where sin has abounded in particular persons to a very great height, grace has exceeded it, as in Manasseh, Mary Magdalene, Saul, and others.
Ver. 21. That as sin hath reigned unto death , etc..] This is another end of the law's entrance, or rather an illustration of the grace of God, by comparing the reigns of sin and grace together: sin has such a power over man in a state of nature, as amounts to a dominion; it has not only an enticing, ensnaring power, to draw into a compliance with it, and an obstructive power to hinder that which is good, and an operative one of that which is evil, and a captivating, enslaving one to the same; but it has a kingly, governing, and commanding power: its dominion is universal as to men, and with respect both to the members of the body, and faculties of the soul; it is supported by laws, which are its lusts; and has its voluntary subjects, to whom it gives wages; its reign is very cruel and tyrannical; it is “unto death” corporeal, moral, or spiritual, and eternal. The ancient Jews often represent sin in the same light; they frequently speak of jlwç [rh rxy , “the corruption of nature reigning” over men; and say f104 : that he is Ælm “a king” over the several members of the body, which answer to him at the word of command. “The old and foolish king” in ( Ecclesiastes 4:13), is commonly interpreted by them of sin; which they say is called “a king”, because he rules in the world, over the children of men, and because all hearken to him: it is a petition much used by them f106 , “let not the evil imagination or corruption of nature “rule” over me:” and on the other hand, they represent grace, or a principle of goodness, as a king, reigning over the corruption of nature; thus interpreting these words, “my son, fear thou the Lord and the king”, they ask f107 , “who is the king? the king (say they) bwj rxy Ælmh , is “the good imagination”, or principle of goodness, who reigns over the evil imagination, which is called a king.”
And in another place they say of a good man, that he bwj rxy Æylmh , “caused the good imagination to reign” over the evil one; with which in some measure agrees what follows: even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord ; by grace is meant, either grace as it is in the heart of God; which reigns or bears sway in man's salvation in all the parts of it, “through righteousness”; consistent with the justice of God, in a way in which that is glorified, through the redemption of Christ: it reigns “unto eternal life”; grace has promised, prepared it, and makes meet for it, and will introduce into it, and freely give it: it reigns “by Jesus Christ”; grace reigns by him, righteousness, or justice, is glorified by him, and eternal life is in him, through him, and by him: or grace as it is in the hearts of converted persons, is meant where it reigns, has the dominion, is the governing principle, and that in a way of righteousness and true holiness; and will reign until it is perfected in glory, or is crowned with eternal life; all which are by Jesus Christ, namely, grace, righteousness, and life.