Romans 5


In this chapter we have the results of the revelation of the righteousness of

God, as affecting:


  • the consciousness and hopes of believers;
  • the position of mankind before God.



As to the Consciousness of Individual Believers (vs. 1-11)


1  Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our

Lord Jesus Christ.”  Instead of  e]comen echomenwe are having - of the

Textus Receptus, an overwhelming preponderance of authority, including uncials,

versions, and Fathers, supports e]cwmen echomen - let us have. If this be the true

reading, the expression must be intended as hortatory, meaning, apparently,

“Let us appreciate and realize our peace with God which we have in being

justified by faith.” But hortation here does not appear in keeping with what

follows, in which the results of our being justified by faith are described in

terms clearly, corresponding with the idea of our having peace with God.

The passage as a whole is not hortatory, but descriptive, and “we have

peace comes in naturally as an initiatory statement of what is afterwards

carried out. This being the case, it is a question whether an exception may

not be allowed in this case to the usually sound rule of bowing to decided

preponderance of authority with respect to readings. That e]cwmen was an

early and widely accepted reading there can be no doubt; but still it may

not have been the original one, the other appearing more probable.

Scrivener is of opinion that “the itacism of w for o, so familiar to all

collators of Greek manuscripts, crept into some very early copy, from

which it was propagated among our most venerable codices, even those

from which the earliest versions were made.”


There has been laid, in the preceding chapters, a firm foundation for the

doctrines, promises, and precepts recorded here. The apostle has depicted

human sin, misery, and helplessness; has shown how impossible it is that

man should be justified by the works of the Law, and that his sole hope lies

in the free mercy of God; and has set forth Christ Jesus crucified and raised

as the ground upon which Divine favor is extended to the penitent and

believing, justifying this method of procedure as in harmony with the

universal administration of the Divine government. If we take, with the

Revised Version, the verbs in these verses as in the imperative mood, they

then contain a summons to all true Christians to appropriate the spiritual

privileges secured to them by the Author of eternal salvation.






  • What is it? Justification; a state of acceptance with God, who, for

Christ’s sake, regards and treats the believer in Jesus as righteous, and not

as guilty. Until the conscience is assured of Divine favor and forgiveness

there is no solid peace.


  • Who secures it? Jesus Christ. Although Paul has already shown this at

length, he refers again in both these verses to the Redeemer, to whom we

owe justification, and all the blessings which follow in its train. It is

through Him that we “have had our introduction into this grace.”


  • How is it obtained? By faith. Christ has done all that is necessary, on

His part, to secure our salvation. But there is needed something upon

our part. We have to receive upon the Divine terms, as a free gift, the

greatest of all blessings. It is a spiritual act and attitude and exercise,

indispensable to the new life.


  • By what title is it held? By that of grace; it is gratuitous. This is for our

advantage; for no question is raised as to our fitness. The only question is

as to God’s faithfulness; and this is not only pledged, but absolutely sure.



PRIVILEGE, “We have,” says the apostle,” (or rather, ‘let us have’) peace

with God.”


  • This is the peace of submission. The sinner is at enmity with God. In

becoming a Christian, he lays down the weapons of rebellion, and ceases

from his opposition to rightful authority It is a complete reversal of his

former attitude.


  • This is also the peace of reconciliation. Concord is established. Divine

rule is cordially accepted, Divine principles acknowledged, Divine

precepts obeyed. The Christian takes God’s will for his will; and this

is true peace.


  • It is, further, the peace of confidence. Nations are sometimes on the

footing, with respect to one another, of an armed truce. Very different is

the relation between the God of peace and His reconciled, obedient

subjects; for they can rest in the assured enjoyment of His favor.

Therefore theirs is a peace which passeth understanding, (Philippians

4:7) and a peace which is never to be violated.



THE FUTURE. “Let us rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”


  • Observe what it is we are encouraged to hope for. The expression is one

which, in the nature of things, we cannot now fully comprehend. God’s

glory is essentially moral and spiritual. Yet we are assured that Christians

shall be changed into the same image, from glory to glory; that the Divine

glory shall, in due time, be revealed in, or rather unto, us. It is A

WONDERFUL PROSPECT compared with which all human and

terrestrial hopes are pale and dim.


  • To cherish such a hope occasions present joy. Even though our

circumstances are distinguished by much that might naturally depress

and dishearten us, even in suffering, weakness, or persecution, such

a prospect as is here unfolded may well animate our hearts and sustain

our courage.  And as the realization of this hope grows nearer and nearer,

it behoves the Christian to cherish this rejoicing more and more fondly

and happily. Peace here, and glory hereafter, such is the Christian’s

privilege! What more can he desire? What, comparable with this, can

this world impart or proffer?


Let those who are without peace here, and without hope for the hereafter,

consider whether there is any way to these blessings save that here propounded –

the way of justification through faith in Christ.


2   “By whom also we have” (rather, have had — ejsch>kamen eschaekamen -

we have had - referring to the past time of conversion and baptism, but with the idea

of continuance expressed by the perfect) the (or, our) “access by faith” -  (the

words, “by faith,” which are not required, are absent from many manuscripts)

into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice” - (properly, glory - kaucw>meqa

kauchometha -  the same word as in the following verse, and most usually so rendered

elsewhere, though sometimes by “boast.” Our translators seem in this verse to have

departed from their usual rendering because of the substantive “glory,” in a different

sense, which follows) “in hope of the glory of God.”   Prosagwgh< - prosagogae

(translated “access”) above, occurs in the same sense in Ephesians 2:18 and 3:12; in

both cases, as here, with the article, so as to denote some well-known access or

approach. It means the access to the holy God, which had been barred by sin, but

which has been opened to us through CHRIST! (Hebrews 10:19). It is a question

whether eijv th<n ca>rin eis taen charininto this grace - is properly taken

(as in the Authorized Version) in immediate connection with prosagwgh<n (access)

as denoting that into which we have our access. In Ephesians 2:18 the word is

followed by the more suitable preposition pro<v – pros – toward - the phrase being,

access to the Father;” and this may be understood here, the sense being, “We have

through Christ our access (to the Father) unto (ie. so as to result in) the state of

 grace and acceptance in which we now stand.” As to “the glory of God,” see

above on ch.3:23. Here our hoped-for future participation in the Divine glory is

more  distinctly intimated by the words, ejp ejlpi>diep elpidiin hope, on

expectation.  This last phrase bears the same sense as in I Corinthians 9:10, and

probably in ch. 4:18. It does not mean that hope is that wherein we glory, but that,

being in a state of hope, we glory.


Jesus Christ is the gate of entrance unto this grace.  He is “the door of the

sheep(John 10:9).  His work of mercy and righteousness has availed to procure

free entry into Paradise.  The inquiry at the gate is, “Dost thou believe on the

 Son of God?”  HEis the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE!  (John 14:6)


3  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations (or, our tribulations) also:

knowing that tribulation worketh patience;  4  And patience, experience;

and experience, hope:  5  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the

love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is

given to us.”  God is educating us; but in and through all, and above all,

God loves us! Let us hold fast to this blessed fact. The peace, the joy, the hope, that

come of faith might be supposed unable to stand against the facts of this present life,

in which, to those first believers, only peculiar tribulations might seem to follow from

their faith. Not so, says the apostle; nay, their very tribulations tend to confirm our

hope, and so even in them we also glory. For we perceive how they serve for our

probation now: they test our endurance; and proved endurance increases hope. And

this hope does not shame us in the end, as being baseless and without fulfillment; for

our inward experience of the love of God assures us of the contrary, and

keeps it ever alive. The word dokimh< - dokimaeexperience - Authorized

Version) means properly “proof,” and is so translated elsewhere. The idea is that

tribulations test, and endurance under them proves, the genuineness of

faith; and approved faithfulness strengthens hope (Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13,

“He that endureth (uJpomei>navhupomeinas  -  corresponding to uJpomonh<n

- hupomonaenpatience - here) to the end, the same shall be saved.”)  By

the love of God” is meant rather God’s love to us than ours to God. What follows

in explanation requires this sense. Of course, it kindles answering love in ourselves

(“We love God, because He first loved us” – I John 4:19); but the idea here

is that of God’s own love, the sense of which we experience, flooding our

hearts with itself through the gift of the Holy Spirit. It may be observed

that, though assurance of the fulfillment of our hope is here made to rest on

inward feeling, yet this is legitimately convincing to those who do so feel.

As in many other matters, so especially in religion, it is internal consciousness that

carries the strongest conviction with it, and induces certitude.


Patience means really the capacity for enduring. If we speak of a patient man, we

may mean one who can endure delay, and we say that he can wait

patiently; or we may mean one who can endure suffering, and we speak of

him as suffering patiently. The connection, then, between suffering and

patience it is easy to see. It is by suffering that one learns how to suffer,

that is, to be patient. And if we go into practical experience, we are pretty

certain to find that the most patient Christian is the one who has suffered

most. He was not always thus. Perhaps at first he was like the rough

unpolished block of marble in the Connemara marble works at Galway in Ireland.

He was disposed to resist the hand that was dealing with him in chastening. But

the suffering came. It was repeated over and over again, like the incessant process

of rubbing to which that rough-looking block is subjected. But by-and-by he came

out of the suffering with the edges rubbed off his temper and the rebelliousness taken

out of his spirit, even as the marble comes smooth and shining from the hard process

through which it has to pass. Such is the use of suffering, to purify, to

brighten the character, and produce patience in the soul. Indeed, the word

tribulation conveys this same idea. It is derived from the Latin word

tribulum, the threshing-instrument whereby the Roman husbandman separated

the corn from the husks. That process was described as tribulatio. So it is in the

spiritual world. Suffering and sorrow cleanse away the chaff — the pride, the

selfishness, the disobedience — which is to be found more or less in all our natures.

Let us think more of the result of the suffering than of the suffering itself, more of the

patience it will develop than of the chaff which it will take away, and then we too

shall learn, with Paul, to “glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation

 worketh patience.  “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present

time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be

revealed in us.”  (ch. 8:18)


The third blessed fruit off this bitter tree is hope. “And experience,

hope.” The proof which we have received of God’s goodness under past

trials leads us to hope for still greater revelations of His goodness yet to

come. The proof we have had of His wise and gracious purpose in purifying

us by trial and suffering leads us to hope that “He who hath begun a good

work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6).

So the Christian is ever looking forward. When he bears the cross, he is looking

forward to the crown. When he is suffering for his Master’s sake, he is looking

forward to the time when he shall reign with Him in glory. This subject of

tribulation and its fruit might fittingly be closed with some lines written by

a young lady in Nova Scotia, who was an invalid for many years.


“My life is a wearisome journey;

    I am sick of the dust and the heat

The rays of the sun beat upon me;

    The briars are wounding my feet;

But the city to which I am going

    Will more than my trials repay;

All the toils of the road will seem nothing

    When I get to the end of the way.


“There are so many hills to climb upward,

    I often am longing for rest;

But He who appoints me my pathway

   Knows just what is needful and best.

I know in His Word He has promised

    That my strength shall be as my day;

And the toils of the road will seem nothing

    When I get to the end of the way.


“He loves me too well to forsake me,

    Or give me one trial too much:

All His people have dearly been purchased,

    And Satan can never claim such.

By-and-by I shall see Him and praise Him

    In the city of unending day;

And the toils of the road will seem nothing

    When I get to the end of the way.


“Though now I am footsore and weary,

    I shall rest when I’m safely at home;

I know I’ll receive a glad welcome,

    For the Saviour Himself has said, ‘Come:

So when I am weary in body,

    And sinking in spirit, I say,

All the toils of the road will seem nothing

    When I get to the end of the way.


“Cooling fountains are there for the thirsty;

    There are cordials for those who are faint;

There are robes that are whiter and purer

    Than any that fancy can paint.

Then I’ll try to press hopefully onward,

                Thinking often through each weary day,

The toils of the road will seem nothing

    When I get to the end of the way



Christian Discipline (vs. 3-5)


Christianity is a religion intended both for heaven and for earth. It does not

lose sight of the present when gazing into the future, visible to it alone.

Beginning with our relation to God, it establishes thereupon our relation to

men. It unfolds morality in the act of revealing the spiritual and Divine. It

represents heaven, not merely as a compensation for the miseries of time

and earth, but as a state attained by the training and the education which, in

the order of Divine providence, time and earth are primarily intended to

provide for men.



TRIBULATION. That human existence is characterized by trouble and

sorrow is a trite but indisputable truth. There is no person who has ever

lived to whom all things have happened as he would have wished. And

with most persons life has been, in many respects, a long contradiction of

their natural tastes and preferences. Whether in body or in mind, in

circumstances or in relationships, in associations or employment, by

bereavement or defections, all men are, and have ever been, in some way

or other afflicted. This condition of our earthly pilgrimage is to many an

occasion of annoyance, irritation, murmuring, rebellion. Others, of a

more reasonable habit of mind, submit, with a certain stolidity, to what

they regard as inevitable evil. But true religion teaches a better way of

accepting our lot. We are taught to expect tribulation, and we are not

taught to regard piety as exempting from the common discipline. “Count

it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you” (I Peter 4:12).  Our

great Leader passed through worse tribulation than any of His followers;

though He did not merit any of His sorrows, whilst we deserve more than

all of ours. He has also given us to understand what shall be our experience.

“In the world,” said He, “ye shall have tribulation:  but be of good cheer;

I have overcome theworld (John 16:33) There is no discharge from this

war.  The Jews, indeed, often expected prosperity as a reward of piety; and

a great English writer has said, “Prosperity was the blessing of the old

covenant, adversity of the new.” The cup is passed round in the household

of God, and every member of that household must drink of it. Those

specially afflicted may be reminded that, though it is no relief to them to

learn that others suffer, it is an indication of Divine providence that the

universal fact is a law intended to work purposes in harmony with the

nature and character of the holy and benevolent Lawgiver.




pleasure in showing the reasonableness of religious belief. He might have

stood upon the authority of his inspiration, and have required his readers to

accept tribulation as certain to benefit such of them as were true Christians.

But he chose rather to show them how the discipline of Divine wisdom

promotes the highest welfare of the faithful. There is a ladder, by the

several steps of which the follower of Christ mounts from earthly trial to

heavenly joy. The foot of the ladder may be upon the cold soil of earth,

but its top reaches to the clouds. Let us bear in mind, however, that it is

not a natural and necessary result of tribulation, that the afflicted should

profit by it. It depends upon the light in which the sufferer views it, the

spirit in which he accepts it, whether affliction is or is not a discipline of

good. There is a saying “Adversity will make one bitter or better.” 

Troubles drive us to the Appointed Refuge - It must be a fellowship

with Christ to be serviceable to so high an end; and the teaching must be

that of the Spirit of God. Consider the steps of the process:


Ø      “Tribulation, worketh patience. This assertion would be contested

by many, who are made impatient by this experience. Those who see

much of their fellow-creatures know that there are many cases in

which affliction produces fretfulness and moroseness, which grow

as the affliction is protracted. Yet in how many instances is this

teaching of the text verified!  The naturally impetuous, hasty, willful

spirit is humbled, subdued, and curbed. In suffering, or in a position

where it is necessary to contend with unreasonable men, or amidst

many disappointments, there may be acquired a habit of self-

command and self-restraint, which may both tend to personal

happiness and may naturally increase influence over others. By

patiencehere is to be understood something more than passive,

quiet suffering; endurance and constancy are intended. The

patient man is not he who lies down discouraged under difficulties,

but the man who holds on his way with cheerful resolution and

perseverance. Christian! you are called to patient continuance in

well-doing.  (Galatians 6:9)


Ø      Patience worketh experience; or, as in the Revised Version,

probation, or, as in the ‘Speaker’s Commentary,’ approval. The man

who endures affliction is put to the proof, is tested. And this is a

true and scriptural view of temptation. “Blessed is the man that

 endureth temptation: for when he hath been approved, he

shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to

them that love Him” (James 1:12).  The sword is bent to the

utmost to prove the temper of the steel; the gun is heavily charged

to prove the strength and soundness of the metal; the precious ore

is cast into the furnace to separate the gold from the dross; the

wheat is threshed that the flail may, by the literal “tribulation,”

prove that there is grain as well as straw. So the good man is

placed by a wise Providence in circumstances which bring out

what there is in him, which give him occasion to call upon the

Lord for help and guidance and deliverance. So far from calamity

being a sign of God’s displeasure, let the afflicted be reminded,

for their consolation, that Scripture represents human trouble in a

very different light. “Whom he loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth

every son whom He receiveth.” Call to mind the experience

of the saints of old. Daniel is an example of a man who was tried and

proved, and who was shown by his afflictions and persecutions to be

a true and faithful servant of Jehovah. Paul himself led a life of labor,

hardship, suffering, harassment, and sorrow; but by Divine grace he

was thereby made strong for service, quick to sympathize. The story

of every good man’s life, if truly told, will teach the same lesson.

The Lord does not willingly afflict; there is a purpose in tribulation;

it is trial which brings out and confirms all Christian virtue.


Ø      Probation worketh hope.” Here we seem to be getting out of the

shadow into the sunshine. “Hope” is a pleasant, cheery word. Who

has not known, in seasons of adversity and in moods of depression,

what it is to be comforted by the sight of the rainbow which spans

the cloud? The “strength-inspiring aid” of hope has often made the

feeble mighty.  Hebrews 6:19 tells us “Which hope we have as an

anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth

into that within the veil.”  Now, of all men, the Christian has most

ground for hope. His expectation of direction, guardianship, and

happiness rest, not upon the whisperings of fond imagination, or

the promises of fallible fellow-men, but upon the word of a


(Psalm 42:5,11) -  is the counsel religion offers to the downcast and

the sad. Such hope as is based upon the Divine character, as is

directed towards objects guaranteed by Divine assurances, is indeed

an anchor unto the soul.” Trial may be a bitter medicine; but it

works a wondrous, and sometimes a speedy and a perfect,

cure for spiritual ills. Probation may seem a harsh, unkindly soil;

but the crop of hope it bears proves its adaptation and fertility.

There have been persons who in prosperity have known little of

the brightness of the Christian’s hope, who have then been slow

to look upwards to the sunlit hills, but whom adversity has

benignly taught to turn their eyes away from things seen and

temporal to things unseen and eternal (II Corinthians 5:18).  Hope

may be despised by the worldly-wise and sensual; but it is a

Christian grace in which the Lord of our life takes pleasure, and

by which He urges the travelers onwards upon the road which

leads to the blessed vision of Himself.


Ø      Hope maketh not ashamed. A common expression in Scripture.

Men often cherish expectations which are never fulfilled, and these

so disappointed are said to be put to shame; they have built on a

sandy foundation, and in the storm of trial the edifice they have

reared is swept away, and, as they gaze upon the wreck and ruin,

they are overwhelmed with shame. But those who have hoped in

the Lord, and trusted in His Word, shall never be ashamed or

confounded, WORLD WITHOUT END!  The apostle may be

understood to say, Hope worketh realization. Not that

the hope fulfils itself; but that God, in His wisdom and love, fulfils

it. We are all, in many respects, in the position of those that hope —

that hope in the Lord. We are pilgrims, and we look for a city

(Hebrews 11:10).  We are warriors, and we look for victory. We are

laborers, and we look for rest. We are afflicted, and we look for

relief and release. We are on earth, and we look for

heaven. “If we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience

wait for it” (ch. 8:25).  The best and purest hopes of the follower

of Jesus, those which He inspires and warrants, those which respect

Himself, shall all be realized. We shall see our Saviour “AS HE IS!

(I John 3:2)  We shall be “LIKE HIM” (Ibid.) -We shall “serve

Him day and night in His temple” (Revelation 7:15).We shall be

ever with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:17),  Such hopes as these

will not unfit us for the common duties of life; they will assist us to

discharge those duties with diligence and cheerfulness. Yet,

being sons, we are heirs; and the blessedness of inheritance casts

the radiant light of heaven upon our earthly lot.



OF REJOICING. In the previous verse the apostle has summoned us to

rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” This seems natural enough; but it

does sound strangely to hear him add here, “Let us also rejoice in our

tribulations”! This is paradoxical, against all ordinary notions of what is

fitting. Yet it is just. If we have followed the steps of that process of

discipline here described by Paul, we must see that it is reasonable

enough that he should admonish us to rejoice in those experiences of

human life which Divine providence so wisely and graciously overrules

for our spiritual and eternal good. Paul himself exemplified his own lesson.

When he and Silas were in prison at Philippi, with their feet in the stocks,

at midnight they sang praises to God, and the prisoners heard them (Acts

16:25).  When imprisoned in Rome, he could write, “Rejoice in the Lord

alway: again I will say, Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) - We may rejoice in

tribulation, because it is the appointment of our heavenly Father. Our joy

should be in our Father’s will; for He will support and sustain under the

burden which He has imposed. We may rejoice in tribulation, because we

are Christ’s people, and we share His lot when we suffer with and for Him.

Insomuch,” says Peter, “as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings,

rejoice; that at the revelation of His glory also ye may rejoice with

exceeding joy” (I Peter 4:13).  “If we suffer with him, we shall

also reign with him” (II Timothy 2:12).  We may rejoice in tribulation also,

because we are assured that the patient and submissive shall, by the help of

God’s Spirit, reap the harvest of spiritual profit and eternal life.

“I reckon,” says the apostle, “that the sufferings of this present life are

not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in

[or, ‘unto’] us.”


The tribulations of life are common to all. But the profit of tribulation is for those only

who receive Divine discipline in submission, and with faith in a Father’s wisdom and

love. Sad is the position of those who have to endure the trials of life without

the support of God’s love, or the prospect of eternal glory!


The process of spiritual discipline which the apostle has described is not a process

natural to men, but one supernatural and special to the sincere Christian. The

tribulations of this life do not work the good of all who are visited by them; on

the contrary, many are hardened by the trials which are sent to humble and soften

and improve. But they profit by earthly discipline who cordially receive the gospel

of Christ, and whose spiritual nature is brought under the influence of the cross.

For to such God is a loving Father, and all things that happen to them are regarded

as appointed by Him (ch. 8:28). They are enlightened by the Holy Spirit, who

brings before them in their troubles the prospect of the future, inspiring hopes which

Divine faithfulness shall surely realize, “because the love of God hath been shed

abroad in their hearts.”


The verses that come next set forth the grounds of our sense of God’s

exceeding love to us.


6  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the

ungodly.  Who, then, are the objects of the love of God? Just those very men and

women of whom it is said that “there is none righteous, no, not one” (ch. 3:10).

The apostle describes us as being in a state of helplessness.   7  For scarcely

for a righteous man will one die: yet (literally, for) peradventure for a good

man some would even dare to die. The general purport of v. 7 is obvious, viz.

to show how Christ’s death for the ungodly transcends all human  instances

 of self-sacrifice for others. But the exact import of the language used is not

equally plain. That of the first clause, indeed, and its connection with what

precedes, presents no difficulty. The meaning is that Christ’s dying for the

ungodly is a proof of love beyond what is common among men. The second

clause seems to be added as a concession of what some men may perhaps sometimes

be capable of. It is introduced by a second ga<r gar – for - (this being the reading of

all the manuscripts), which may be meant as exceptive, the “yet” of the Authorized

Version, or though, may give its meaning. Or it may be connected with mo>liv

molis - thus: “Scarcely, I say, for there may possibly be cases,” etc. But what is the

distinction between dikai>ou dikaioujust man -  in the first clause and tou~

ajgaqou~ - tou agathouthe good man - in the second? Some interpreters say

that there is none, the intention being simply to express the possibility of human

self-sacrifice for one that is good or righteous in some rare cases. But the change

of the word, which would, according to this view, be purposeless, and still more

the insertion of the article before ajgaqou~, forbids this interpretation. One view is

that tou~ ajgaqou~ is neuter, meaning that, though for a righteous individual one

can hardly be found to be willing to die, yet for the cause of good, for what a man

regards as the highest good, or pro bone publico (it might be), such self-sacrifice

may be possible; This view is tenable, though against it is the fact that death in

behalf of persons is being spoken of all along. The remaining and most commonly

accepted view is that by “the good man” (the article pointing him out generally as

a well-known type of character) is meant the beneficent — one who inspires

attachment and devotion — as opposed to one who is merely just.  Possibly the

term oJ ajgaqo<v would have a well-understood meaning to the readers of the

Epistle, which is not equally obvious to us.


8  But God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet

sinners, Christ died for us.”   The emphatic “His own” is lost sight of in the

Authorized Version. It is not in contrast to our love to God, but expressive of the

thought that the love of God Himself towards men was displayed in the death of

Christ. This is important for our true conception of the light in which the mysterious

doctrine of the atonement is regarded in Holy Scripture. It is not (as represented by

some schools of theologians) that the Son, considered apart from the Father, offered

Himself to appease His wrath but rather that the Divine love itself purposed from

eternity and provided the atonement, all the Persons of the holy and undivided

Trinity concurring to effect it (Romans 3:24; 8:32; Ephesians 2:4; II Thessalonians

2:16: John 3:16; I John 4:10, et al.). If it be asked how this Divine love, displayed in the

atonement, and therefore previous to it, is consistent with what is elsewhere so

continually said of the Divine wrath, we answer that the ideas are not irreconcilable.

The wrath expresses God’s necessary antagonism to sin, and the retribution due to it,

inseparable from a true conception of the Divine righteousness; and as long as men

are under the dominion of sin they are of necessity involved in it: But this is not

inconsistent with ever-abiding Divine love towards the persons of sinners, or

with an eternal purpose to redeem them. It may be added here that the passage

before us intimates our Lord’s essential Deity; for His sacrifice of Himself is

spoken of as the display of God’s own love. 


The realization of the love of God in the Christian consciousness is the crowning

Christian evidence; and it is the work of God Himself by His Spirit.  “By

this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to

another.”  (John 13:35)


9  Much more then, being now justified by (literally, in) His blood, we shall be

saved from the wrath through Him.  10 For if, when we were enemies, we

were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being

reconciled, we shall be saved by (literally, in) His life.”  In these verses, the

second being an amplification of the first, our relations to God are set forth, as

before, by the analogy of such as may subsist between man and man. Men do not

usually die for their enemies, but they do seek the good of their friends. If, then,

God’s great love reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son when

we were still His enemies, what assurance may we not now feel, being no longer

at enmity, of being saved from the wrath (th~v ojrgh~v taes orgaesthe

wrath or indignation -  v. 9) to which, as sinners and enemies, we were exposed!

There is also a significance (v.10) in the words “death” and “life.” Christ’s death

was for atonement, and in it we are conceived as having died with Him to our

former state of alienation from God. His resurrection was the inauguration

of a new life to God, in which with Him we live (ch. 6:3-11). The words

enemies - ajcqroi<  - achthroi - and “reconciled” (katalla>ghmen

katallagaemen;   katallage>ntev katallagentes) invite attention. Does the

former word imply mutual enmity, or only that we were God’s enemies? We may

answer that, though we cannot attribute enmity in its proper human sense to God,

or properly speak of Him as under any circumstances the enemy of man, yet the

expression might perhaps be used with regard to Him in the way of accommodation

to human ideas, as are anger, jealousy, and the like. There seems, however, to be

no necessity for this conception here, the idea being rather that of man’s alienation

 from God, and from peace with Him, through sin; as in Colossians 1:21, “And you,

 that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works.”

With regard to “reconciled,” it may be first observed that, however orthodox and

capable of a true sense it may be to speak of God being reconciled to man

through Christ (as in Art. 2, “to reconcile His Father to us”), the expression

is not scriptural. It is always man who is said to be reconciled to God; and

it is God who, in Christ, reconciles the world unto Himself (II Corinthians

5:19; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20-21).  Still, more is evidently implied than

that God reconciles men to Himself by changing their hearts and converting them

from sin by the manifestation of His love in Christ. The reconciliation is spoken

of as effected once for all for all mankind in the atonement, independently of, and

previously to, the conversion of believers. Faith only appropriates, and obedience

testifies, the appropriation of an accomplished reconciliation available for all

mankind. That such is the view in the passage before us is distinctly evident

from all that follows after v.12.


If you have ever tried to love your enemies, those who have done you an injury,

you know how hard it is. But God loved His enemies — those who had broken

His Law and rejected His invitations — God loved them so much that He gave

 His own Son to die for their salvation (John 3:16), in order that He might bring

those who were His enemies to dwell for ever with Himself. What a description it is

of the objects of God’s love! “Without strength;” “ungodly;” “sinners;”

 enemies.”   In Ephesians 2:12, Paul includes those “without Christ, …aliens

…strangers…having no hope, and without God in the world!”  Surely this

ought to be enough to commend the love of God to us. Surely, then, there is hope

for the guiltiest. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,

that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

(I Timothy 1:15)   


“In peace let me resign my breath,

    And thy salvation see;

My sins deserve eternal death,

    But Jesus died for me.”


God’s love did not exhaust itself in profession. It showed itself in  action. It showed

itself in the greatest sacrifice which the world has ever seen.  That was a genuine

love. How it must have grieved the Father to think of His own holy, innocent Son,

being buffeted and scourged and crucified by the hands of wicked men,

in the frenzy of their passion and hatred! What a sacrifice to make for our sakes,

when God gave up His own Son to the death for us all! Herein is the proof

of the reality of God’s love. Herein is its commendation to us.


“Love so amazing, so Divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.”


Look at the results God’s love produces in human hearts. “Hope maketh not

 ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the

Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (v. 5). “And not only so, but we also

joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received

the atonement” (v. 11). What confidence it produces, what holy calm, what peace,

what hope, what joy for time and for eternity, when we know that God loves us!

Oh! there is no power like it to sustain the human heart. Temptations lose their power

to drag us down, when that love, GOD’S LOVE,  is bound around us like a lifebuoy.




Reconciliation and Salvation (vs. 9-10)


God’s love to man has its expression and proof in the gift of Christ. In

what way does this gift enrich and bless those for whom it is intended? The

apostle answers this question in these two verses. By Christ’s death his

people are reconciled to Him, and by Christ’s life they are saved.




Ø      These are described here, in one verse as justification, and in the

other as reconciliation. The first term implies that there takes place,

in the case of those who believe, a “reversal” of the sentence of

condemnation. Those who were guilty before God are accepted;

those who were judged by law are now received into favor. The

second term implies that a state of enmity has been replaced by a

state of friendship and concord. Those who were in arms against

God, and towards whom a righteous Ruler could not turn a look of

complacency, are now pardoned, submissive, obedient, and at peace

with Heaven. It is the same change presented in different lights.


Ø      By what means is this state of privilege secured for the people of the

Lord? The means are described in one verse as the blood, in the

other as the death, of Christ. The same thing is intended by the

two expressions, the shedding of blood being equivalent to the

 taking of life. The language evidently points back to those sacrifices

which were, by Divine appointment, offered under the old covenant.

Jesus, the Mediator, was both the Victim and the Priest; He offered

Himself to the Father for us. “Without shedding of blood is no

 Remission” of sin (Hebrews 9:22); a great principle this in

the government of God; pardon and salvation are secured through

suffering and sacrifice and devotion. The blood is the emblem of the

life (Leviticus 17:11), and consequently the blood-shedding is

emblematical, in the case of our Lord, of His willing surrender of

Himself, His life, with a view to redeem a sinful and guilty race.




Ø      What have they to look forward to? The answer of the text is

salvation.  Justification is an act of God; salvation seems to be a

process, to be commenced here and perfected hereafter. “Now is

salvation nearer to you than when you first believed” (ch.13:11).

There are many ills, trials, temptations, from which Christians have

yet to be delivered; and only when beyond this world can their salvation

(however now perfectly assured) be regarded as actually accomplished.


Ø      From what do Christians expect to be saved? From wrath; by which

is to be understood the displeasure and indignation which the righteous

Ruler cannot but feel against sin and sinners, and which will be manifested

in the future punishment of the ungodly, impenitent, and unbelieving.


Ø      By what means do Christians hope to be saved from wrath? By Christ’s

life. His death is represented as the means of present acceptance, His

life as the means of future salvation. By Christ’s life is to be understood

His life after His crucifixion and entombment — the life which now is

and will be for ever. The connection between our Saviour’s heavenly

life and our salvation is unmistakable and binding. His resurrection was

the assurance that His mediation was accepted. His ascension and life

above are the condition of His sympathetic intercession and His

mediatorial reign (ch. 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).  His presence on the throne

of heaven is the pledge of our immortal fellowship with Him.

“Because I live, ye shall live also.”  (John 14:19)



greatest marvel of the universe, the central mystery of revelation, that GOD IN

CHRIST, converted  foes and rebels into friends and subjects. “And

without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:  God was manifest

in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the

Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up to glory  (I Timothy 3:16).

 If we can receive this, we need have no hesitation in receiving the supplementary

doctrine that God will eternally save those whom He has graciously justified.

If enemies are reconciled, surely friends shall be saved!  (v. 8)


11   “And not only so, but we also glory in God through our Lord

Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement  (reconciliation). 

We not only have an assured hope; we also glory already in our restoration

to peace with God; our mental state is an exultant one even now. A tacit

reference may be supposed to ch. 3:27 and 4:2, where all human glorying was said

to be shut out. Yes, this remains true — in ourselves we cannot glory; but in God,

who has reconciled us, we can and do.






Joy in God (v. 11)


Men cherish the most diverse, varied feelings towards God. Some are

haters of God, regarding Him as their enemy. Others are indifferent to God,

utterly forgetting Him, acting as though He were not. Others, again, have so

far a just apprehension of God that they fear Him, standing in awe of His

righteous authority. And there are those who love God and rejoice in Him.

These last are they who appreciate the privileges which have been prepared

for the true believers in Christ, the true people of God.


  • Observe THE ELEMENT OF SPIRITUAL JOY. It is joy in God. In

God, as their Father, their all-sufficient and eternal Portion. In God, as

faithful to His promises, as gracious and benevolent, as wise to guide and

strong to keep and save. This is the daily exclamation of the Christian, “I

will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God

for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath

covered me with the robe of righteousness.”  (Isaiah 61:10)


  • There is mentioned THE CAUSE FOR JOY.


Ø      This is to be found in reconciliation. There is no joy in hostility or

estrangement; but, when those who have been alienated are brought

into harmony, peace brings gladness to the souls of reunited friends.

Remembering what momentous issues depend upon our friendship

with our Creator and Judge, we may well regard our reconciliation

with Him as matter for gladness and glorying.


Ø      But this reconciliation takes effect when it is received. God provides it;

man accepts it. Man’s acceptance does not procure, but it

appropriates, the blessing. Alas! men may live in a dispensation of

peace, of reconciliation, but may know nothing by experience of this

joy,  for want of receptive faith.


  • The text reminds us of THE BRINGER OF SPIRITUAL JOY. It is

through our Lord Jesus Christ” that we have received the reconciliation.

The Mediator between God and man (I Timothy 2:5-6) secures to us this

greatest of boons, and, with it, all other good things that can truly enrich

and bless us. In the context the apostle magnifies the grace of Christ. We

are summoned to recognize in Him the means through which true joy

becomes possible to us, and becomes our possession and inheritance.


  • It is well to think of THE FRUITS AND EFFECTS OF JOY IN GOD.


Ø      Joy is strength for service. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

(Nehemiah 8:10)


Ø      Joy is comfort in outward afflictions and tribulation. “We rejoice, glory,

in tribulation also.” It is the Christian only who can say this.


Ø      Joy is attractive to others. The happiness of the Christian often produces

a most beneficial impression upon those who remark it, and who ask for

an explanation of the fact.  (I Peter 3:15)


Ø      Joy is an anticipation of heaven. For we are assured that the faithful

servant shall be welcomed into “the joy of his Lord”.



From consideration of the blessed effects on believers of faith in the reconciliation

through Christ, the apostle now passes to the effects of that reconciliation as the

 position of the whole human race before God. His drift is that the reconciliation

corresponds to the original transgression; both proceeded from one, and both include

all mankind in their results; as the one introduced sin into the world, and, as its

consequence, death, so the other introduced righteousness, and, as its

consequence, life. It may be observed that in ch. 1 also he has in one sense traced sin

backward through the past ages, so as to show how all mankind had come to be under

condemnation for it. But the subject was regarded from a different point of view, the

purpose of the argument being also different. There he was addressing the heathen world,

his purpose being to convince the whole of it of sin, on the score of obvious culpability;

and, suitably to this design, his argument is based, not on Scripture, but on observation

of the facts of human nature and human history. It did not fall within his scope to trace

the evil to its original cause. But here, having shown Jew and Gentile to be on the same

footing with respect to sin, and having entered (at ch.3:21) on the doctrinal portion of his

Epistle, he goes to Scripture for the origin of the evil, and finds it there attributed to

Adam’s original transgression, which implicated the human race as an organic whole.

This is the scriptural solution of the mystery, which he here gives, not only as accounting

for things being as they are, but also, in connection with the stage of the argument at

which he has now arrived, as explaining the necessity and the purpose of the

 atonement for the whole guilty race, effected by the second Adam, Jesus Christ!


12  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.”  To this sentence,

introduced by w[sperhospereven as - there is no apodosis (the main clause

of a conditional sentence). One has been sought in the course of what follows, and

by some found in v.18. But v. 18 is a recapitulation rather than resumption of the

argument, and is, further, too far removed to be intended as a formal apodosis. It is

not really necessary to find one. The natural one to the first clause of the sentence

would have been, “So through One righteousness entered into the world, and life

through righteousness;” and such may be supposed to have been in the writer’s mind.

But, after his manner, he goes off to enlarge on the idea expressed in the second

clause, and never formally completes his sentence. A similar anacoluthon (a shift in

an unfinished sentence from one syntactic construction to another) is found  in

I Timothy 1:3. Sin is here, as elsewhere, regarded as a power antagonistic to God,

which has been introduced into the world of man, working and manifesting itself in

concrete human sin (v. 21; ch. 6:12,14; 7:8-9,17). Its ultimate origin is not explained.

Scripture offers no solution of the old insoluble problem, po>qen to< kako<n  - pothen

to kakonsource of evil -  its existence at all under the sway of the Omnipotent

Goodness in which we believe is one of the deep mysteries that have ever baffled

human reason. All that is here touched on is its entrance into the world of man, the

word eijsh~lqen eisaeltheninto came – translated here entered -  implying that

it already existed beyond this mundane sphere. The reference is, of course, to Genesis

3 as the scriptural account of the beginning of sin in our own world. It is there attributed

to “the serpent,” whom we regard as a symbol of some mysterious power of evil,

external to man, to which primeval man, in the exercise of his prerogative of

 free-will, succumbed, and so let sin in.  Through sin entered also death as its

consequence; which (primarily at least) must mean here physical death, this being

all that is denoted in Genesis (compare ch. 3:19 with 2:17), and necessary to be

understood in what follows in the chapter before us (see v. 14). But here a difficulty

presents itself to modern thought. Are we to understand that man was originally

 so constituted as not to die? — that even his bodily organization was

immortal,  and would have continued so but for the fatal taint of sin? We

find it difficult at the present day to conceive this, however bound we may

feel to submit our reason to revelation in a matter so remote, so unknown,

and so mysterious as the beginning of human life on the earth, in whatever

aspect viewed, and indeed of all conscious life, must ever be. But Paul

himself, in another place, speaks of “the first man” having been, even on his

first creation, “of the earth, earthy” (I Corinthians 15:45, 47), with a

body, like ours, of “flesh and blood,” in its own nature corruptible (Ibid. v.50).

Neither is the narrative of Genesis 3. inconsistent with this idea. For it seems to

imply that, but for his eating of the mystical “tree of life” (whatever may be meant

by it), the first man was in his own nature mortal, and that his liability to death

ensued on his being debarred from it (Genesis 3:22-24). It may be impossible for us

to understand or explain.  The following considerations, however, may perhaps help

us in some degree:


  • When we pay regard to man’s spiritual capabilities and aspirations,

even as he is now, death does seem to us an anomaly — a contradiction to

the ideal of his inner self.  (Ecclesiastes 3:11 teaches that God “hath set

the world (eternity) in their heart” – CY – 2011)  That a beast of the field

should die appears to us no such anomaly; for it has done all that it seems to

have been meant to do, or to be capable of doing: it has served as a link in

the continuance of its kind, not having been conscious, as far as we know,

of anything beyond its surroundings. But man (i.e. man as he is capable of

being, so as to represent the capacity of humanity) connects himself in his

inner self with eternity; his mind resents the idea of death, as an

unwelcome stoppage to its development and its yearnings. It goes on ever

maturing its power, enlarging its range, thirsting for higher knowledge,

entertaining affections that seem eternal; and then bodily decay and death

arrest its progress as it were in mid-career. Thus death, as it comes to us and

affects us now, seems to involve a contradiction between man’s inner

consciousness and the facts of his existence at present; it is shrunk from as

something that ought not to be. It is true that, when faith has once

grasped the idea of bodily death being but a transition to a better life,

the anomaly disappears:  It is Christ that has brought “life and

immortality to light” – (II Timothy 1:10) - but such is its aspect to the

natural man: and thus we can enter into the scriptural idea of death, as it

comes to us so inevitably now, being something NOT ORIGINALLY

MEANT FOR MAN though we may be unable to say how it would have

been with him had not sin entered.


  • Though physical death, obvious to men’s eyes, and not spiritual death

of the soul either in this world or in the world to come, is here evidently in

view (see v. 14), yet we must bear in mind the general idea associated

with the word “death” in the New Testament. It is sometimes used so as to

imply more than the mere parting of the soul from the body, including in

the conception of what it is all the woes and infirmities that flesh is heir to,

which are its precursors in the present state of things (I Corinthians 15:31;

II Corinthians 4:10, 12, 16; 6:9), being thus regarded also as the

visible sign before our eyes of man’s present alienation from the life that is

in God. Paul, then, in the passage before us, though alleging mere

natural death as sufficient evidence of sin, may be conceived as having in

his view Death armed as he has been with a peculiar sting to man through

all known time – “them through fear of death were all their lifetime

subject to bondage”  (Hebrews 2:15).The main point of his argument is

that the doom recorded in Genesis as having been pronounced on Adam

had obviously remained in force throughout the ages; and there is surely no

difficulty in assenting to the position that the dominion of death, as it has

been exercised since that doom, is evidence of its continuance, and

consequently of sin. “For that all sinned” (more correctly so than, as

]in the Authorized Version, “all have sinned”) seems to mean, not that

all since Adam in their own persons committed sin, but that all sinned in him –

were implicated in the sin of the progenitor (cf. v. 15; also I Corinthians 15:22,

in Adam all die;” and II Corinthians 5:14, where all are said to have died

to sin in the death of Christ). The doctrine of original, as distinct from actual,

sin, thus intimated, has been, as is well known, the subject of much controversy.

It does not fall within the proper scope of this Commentary to discuss the

theories of divines, but rather to set forth candidly what the language of the

portions of Scripture commented on in itself most obviously means, viewed

in the light afforded by general Scripture teaching. With respect to the passage

before us, it may suffice to say:


Ø      That more must be understood than the mere imputation of Adam’s

transgression to his descendants, irrespectively of any guilt of theirs.

This notion, which jars on our conception of Divine justice, is precluded

by the entire drift of the earlier chapters of this Epistle, which was the

actual culpability of mankind at large, and also by what follows here,

sin itself being spoken of — not the imputation of it only — as being in

the world after Adam, and universal too, as evidenced by the continued

reign of death. All men are said to have sinned in the sin of the first

transgressor, because sin was thus introduced, as a power in human

nature antagonistic to God, and because this “infection of nature” has

continued since.


Ø      We, like Adam, have the power to avoid sin.  it is expressly said (v. 14)

that death reigned over — in proof that sin infected — even those who had

not sinned after the similitude of his transgression.


Ø      We must guard against confusion between the idea of man’s natural

liability to condemnation on the ground of transmitted sinfulness, and

that of God’s actual dealing with him. It is nowhere said or implied that

the natural infection which they could not help will be visited on

individuals in the final judgment. All that is insisted on by Paul is that

man, in himself, as he is now, falls short of the glory of God, and cannot

put in a plea for acceptance on the ground of his own righteousness. But

he no less emphatically declares that “where sin abounded, grace did

much more abound.”



Additional Note on v. 12.


The significance of the words “life” and “death,” as used in Paul’s Epistles and

elsewhere, demands peculiar attention. They evidently bear a sense in many

places different from that of ordinary use; and this in accordance with our

Lord’s own recorded language, as, for instance, in His memorable words to

Martha,  I am the resurrection, and the life:  he that believeth in me, though

He were dead, yet shall he live:  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me

Shall never die.  Believest thou this?  (John 11:25-26). The following

considerations may aid our comprehension of what is meant. The

mysterious principle or potency of life, even in the common acceptation of

the term, varies not only in degree, but in kind; and the same living

organism may be at the same time alive with respect to its own mode of

vitality, and dead with respect to some higher one which vivifies others.

The plant, while alive with respect to its own kind of life, is dead to the

higher life of sentient beings. The brute beast, while alive with respect to

mere animal life, is dead, as it were, to the higher life of intelligent man. A

whole world of environing influences to which the mind of man responds,

so as to live in them, are to the brute as nothing; it may be said to be dead

to them (II Peter 2:12).  Now, Scripture teaches, and we believe, that there is

a spiritual sphere of things above and beyond this visible sphere, which man

is capable of apprehending, being influenced by, and living a still higher life

than his natural life therein. He is thus capable through the higher and diviner

part of his mysterious being, called by Paul his pneu~ma pneuma  - spirit –

(I Thessalonians 5:23, JUmw~n to< pneu~ma kai< hJ yuch< kai< to< sw~ma

Humon to  pneuma kai hae psuche kai to soma – your spirit, soul and

body), when in touch with the Divine pneu~ma (Spirit). For man to be in

vital correspondence with his spiritual environments is spiritual life; to be out

of correspondence with them is spiritual death. And so, as the plant is dead

to sentient life, though alive in its own life; or as the brute may be said to be

dead to the higher life of man, though alive in mere animal life; so man may

be dead as to spiritual life, though alive as to psychical life; and thus “dead

while he liveth” (I Corinthians 2:14, “The natural man (yuciko<v a]nqrwpov

- psuchikos anthropos) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they

are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are

spiritually discerned.” In other words, he is dead to them). Further, this

spiritual life, unlike the psychical life, is ever spoken of as eternal. For it

consists in intercommunion of man’s immortal part with the spiritual sphere

of things which is eternal. Nor does natural death interrupt it; for it is not

dependent for its continuance, as is psychical life, on environments from

which we are severed by the body’s death, but on such as are eternal. Thus,

too, we see how it is that eternal life is regarded, not as one that will have

its commencement after death, but as one to be enjoyed at present, and to

which we are to rise in Christ even now. This idea is notably expressed in

our Lord’s words above referred to: “I am the Resurrection, and the Life:

he that believeth in me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever

liveth and believeth in me shall never die”. Doubtless we are bidden to

look forward to a fullness and perfection of the eternal life, of which our

present enjoyment of it is but an earnest, in the sw~ma pneumatiko>n

 soma pneumatikonbody spiritual - (I Corinthians 15:44) in store for us

hereafter. “Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet manifested

 what we shall be,”  (I John 3:2) — but still this is regarded as but the

consummation of a life already begun. On the other hand, whatever penal

consequences of a state of spiritual death may be spoken of as in store

hereafter for the wicked, it is regarded as being itself but the continuance

of a state of death in which they are before they pass away (Revelation 22:11).

In this verse before us,  the above view of what is often meant by “death”

ought to be kept before us. For, though the apostle seems evidently to be

speaking of the natural death that comes to all, he must be taken as regarding

it as but the symbol and evidence of the sway of that spiritual death to which

all men are now, in their fallen nature, LIABLE!


13  (For until Law (i.e. all through the time previous to the revelation of law) sin was

in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  14  Nevertheless

death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after

the similitude of Adam’s transgression. Though no>mov nomoslaw - where it

first occurs in v. 13, refers definitely, as appears from the context, to the Law of

Moses, yet it is without the article, as denoting the principle of law, of which the

Mosaic code was the embodiment; and it has therefore, in accordance with the rule

laid down in this translation, been rendered as above. The purport of these

two verses, connected by ga<r – gar – for -  with pa>ntev h{marton pantes

haemartonall sinned - of v. 12, is to prove that the primeval sin did really infect

and implicate the whole race of mankind. It might be supposed that those only

would be implicated who had themselves transgressed, as Adam did, a known

command; it being an acknowledged principle of Divine justice that only sin against law

of which the sinner is conscious is imputed to him for condemnation (ch.4:15; also

John 9:41). Nay, but the universal dominion of death, the doom of sin, over all alike,

whether or not they had themselves so sinned, was proof that sin was all along

dominant in the world, infecting all. The Mosaic Law is spoken of as the distinct

revelation of Divine Law to man; and therefore attention is first drawn to the fact

that before that revelation, no less than after it, death had reigned over all. But is it

thus implied that until the Law from Mount Sinai men had been without any kind

of law, for transgressing which they were responsible? Not so. That Law is indeed

regarded as the first definite enunciation of law under evident Divine sanction, after

which, to those that were under it, sin became indubitably and exceeding sinful;

but that men are conceived as having sinned previously against law of some kind,

appears from the phrase, kai< ejpi< tou<v - kai epi tous - even over those - who

had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” i.e. consciously against

a known command. This surely implies that some had so sinned; and thus the

essential point of the argument is that even over those who had not so

sinned (such as the unenlightened and invincibly ignorant, or persons dying

in infancy) death had equally reigned – “who is the figure of Him that was

to come.”  This is added so as to bring round the thought to the main subject

of the chapter, viz. the reconciliation of all mankind THROUGH

CHRIST,  to which the scriptural account of the condemnation of all mankind

through Adam had, at v. 12, been adduced as analogous. Who refers to Adam,

who has just been for the first time named; He that was to come is Christ,

who is called, in I Corinthians 15:45, “the last Adam.” Adam was a tu>pov

tupos -type of Christ in that both represented entire humanity; one as the

representative and author of fallen, the other of restored, humanity — the

transgression of the one and the obedience of the other alike affecting all

(see vs 18-19). But there is a difference between the two cases; and this

is pointed out in vs. 15-17, which follow.


15 “But not as the offence (trespass), 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. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is

the gift: for the judgment was by one (ejx eJno<v ek henosout of one)

to condemnation, but the free gift is of (ejk pollwn ek pollonout

of many) many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence

death reigned by one, much more they which receive the abundance of

grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” 

The purport of these verses is (while keeping up the view of condemnation and

justification being both derived to all from one) to show how the effects of the

 latter for good far transcend those of the former for evil. It is not easy,

however, to explain the apostle’s exact intention in the contrasts which he draws.

He seems to have written, after his manner, full of ideas which he did not

linger to arrange in clear form. In v. 15 the contrast between (para>ptwma

paraptomaoffence; trespass) and (ca>risma – charisma - free gift)

seems to be the leading idea.  The suggesting thought seems to be — If (as

has been shown) one man’s trespass had such far-reaching effects, much

more must the grace of God (displayed also in One) have no less

 far-reaching effects. God’s grace must be more powerful than man’s trespass.

And it is here asserted that it was so. The pollw~| ma~llon pollo mallon

 much more – is best taken (as it must be in v. 17) in a logical, not a

quantitative sense; i.e. as enforcing the conclusion, not as intensifying the verb

abounded.” So far the effects are not distinctly contrasted in respect to their

extent; all that is implied in this verse is that both reach to oiJ polloi< - oi

polloi - the many, i.e. the whole human race collectively; unless, indeed,

the verb ejperi>sseuse eperisseusenabounded; exceeds; super-

abounds - implies excess of effect.  It is to be observed that the phrase

oiJ polloi< does not here mean, as is usual in classical Greek, the greater part,

 but the multitude, mankind being regarded collectively. It depends, however,

on the writer’s mental horizon whether the phrase, taken by itself, is to be

understood as comprehending all. The consideration is of importance in the case

before us. On the one hand, it may be contended that, in the first clause of the

verse, “the many” must mean all, for that undoubtedly all died (v. 12, eijv pa>ntav

ajnqrw>pouv oJ qa>natov dih~lqeneis pantas anthropous ho thanatos diaelthen

on all men death passed upon, and that consequently all must be intended also in the

second clause. So also in v. 19, where it is said that di>kaioi katastaqh>sontai oiJ

polloi< - dikaioi katastathaesontai oi polloi – many be made righteous.   And it

may be said, further, that the drift of the whole argument requires the view of the effects

of the redemption being at least coextensive with the effects of the fall. But, on the

other hand, it is argued that Paul would not have used the phrase oiJ polloi< (the

many) in vs. 15 and 19 instead of pa>ntev (all) as in vs. 12 and 18, unless

he had intended some difference of meaning, and that he varied his

expression in order to avoid the necessary inference that all would be saved

in fact. Certainly he teaches that the redemption is available and intended

for all, as in v. 18 where it is said to be eijv pa>ntav ajnqrw>pouv, eijv

dikai>wsin - eis pantas anthropous eis dikaiosin[came] upon all

men to justification - and this, it may be said, is enough to satisfy the view of its

effects (i.e. in purpose and potentially) being coextensive with the effects

of the fall But it does not seem to follow that man’s resistance to grace

might not come in as a bar to the entire fulfillment of the Divine purpose;

and hence these passages cannot be pressed as conclusive for the doctrine

of universal final salvation. But in vs. 16-17 (to be taken together, v.16 being

introduced by kai< (And), so as to suggest a new idea, and v. 17 being connected

with it by ga<r (For) the extent to which grace thus abounded, so as to transcend

the effects of the original transgression, is distinctly set forth.  The thought of these

verses may, perhaps, be expressed otherwise, thus:


The one trespass of the one original transgressor did indeed render all

mankind liable to condemnation; but the free gift in Christ annulled the

effect, not only of that one trespass, but also of all subsequent trespasses of

mankind; an immense debt, accumulating through the ages of human

history, in addition to the original debt, was by that one free grant

obliterated. And further, while the original trespass introduced a temporary

reign of death, the free gift of righteousness introduced life, in which the

partakers of the gift themselves — triumphant over Death, who reigned

before — shall reign; and, as in v. 15 the idea was that God’s grace must

be more powerful than man’s sin, so here it is implied that life in Christ

must be more powerful than death in Adam. Life means here (as elsewhere

when the life in Christ is spoken of) more than the present life in the flesh

more than the life breathed into man when he first “became (ejge>neto

eijv) a living soul” (I Corinthians 15:45). It means the higher life

imparted by “the last Adam,” who “became a quickening Spirit”

(1 Corinthians 15:45); eternal life with God, in the life of Christ risen,

swallowing up mortality (II Corinthians 5:4; also John 11:25).  Thus the

free gift” not only reverses the far-reaching effects of the original

transgression, but even transcends what is intimated in Genesis as given

 to man in Paradise before his fall.


The next two vs (18-19), introduced by a]ra ou=n ara ountherefore as;

consequently then -  are a summing up of what has been already said or implied.


18  Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men

to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one dij eJno<v dikaiw>matov

- di henos dikaiomatos – through the righteousness of One -  contrasted

with the preceding dij eJno<v paraptwmatov - di henos paraptomatosthrough

the offence of one ) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

i.e. conferring life. Here, as was observed under v. 15, the phrase used is eijv

pa>ntav ajnqrw>pouv eis pantas anthropousinto all humans -  not eijv tou<v

pollou<veis tous pollousin the many -  thus indisputably denoting universality

of effect, as of the para>ptwma paraptomaoffence; trespass) so also of

dikai>wma dikaiomajustification.   But there is no verb to make

clear the force of the preposition eijv. It may denote the result to which a

cause tends, without implying its inevitable accomplishment. Thus (ch. 7:10),

Eujre>qh moi hJ ejntolh< hJ eijv zwh<n, au[th eijv qa>natonheurethae moi hae

entolae hae eis zoaen hautae eis thanatonthe commandment which was

ordained to life I found to be unto death -   where the same preposition expresses

both the intended result of life and the actual result of death.


19  For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the

obedience of  one shall many be made righteous.” As to the significance of

oiJ polloi<, see under v. 15. The phrase, if taken as equivalent to pa>ntev pantes

all - would seem here to imply even more than in ver. 15; for there it was only said

that “the gift… abounded unto the many;” here an actual result is expressed by the

future, di>kaioi katastaqh>sontaidikaioi katastathaesontaimany made

righteous.   But even so the universality of final salvation need not necessarily follow.

The actual phrase is, “shall be constituted righteous,” and might only mean that

all will be put into the position of justified persons, capable as such of salvation, just

as all had, through the first transgression, been put into the position of sinners, liable

as such to condemnation; and the future tense might be taken to denote the

continuance, through all future ages, of the availing effect of the accomplished

atonement. Further, it may be remarked that if universal final salvation did seem to

follow from the passage before us, it would still have to be understood consistently

with the purport of  chapters 6, 7, and 8, which follow. In them the practical result

to the believer of his justification through Christ is treated; and renunciation of sin,

living after the Spirit,” is postulated as the condition for attaining the life eternal.

Hence, if the doctrine of “eternal hope” be sound (and who can fail to desire that it

should be so?), it must be to some unknown reconciliation beyond the

limits of the present life that we must look in the ease of those who have

not fulfilled the necessary conditions here. Thus, further, the doctrine

cannot legitimately be allowed to affect our view of our responsibilities

now. To us the only doctrine distinctly revealed on the subject of salvation

is that it is in this present life that we are to make our “calling and election

sure.” (II Peter 1:10)  Two ways are put before us — the way of life, and the way

of death; the one leading to zwh< aijw>niov zoae aionioslife eternal - the other

to ko>lasiv aijw>niovkolasis aiowioseternal punishment; torment.  In

vs. 6-10 (as elsewhere, see note on ch.3:25) it was through the DEATH, THE

BLOOD OF CHRIST,  that we were said to have been RECONCILED TO

GOD,  here it is through His obedience, opposed to the disobedience of

Adam. Though the doctrine of the atonement, in all its depth, is beyond our

comprehension now (see above on v. 9), yet it is important for us to

observe the various aspects in which it is presented to us in Scripture. Here

the idea suggested is that of Christ, as the Representative of humanity,

satisfying Divine righteousness by perfect obedience to the Divine will,

and thus offering to God for man what man had lost the power of offering

 (Psalm 40:7-10, “Lo, I come to fulfil thy will, O my God;” and Hebrews 9:14;

10:9, et seq.; also Philippians 2:8, “became obedient unto death, even the

death of the cross”).


The formula in these last two verses is: 


  • One act of trespass unto condemnation
  • One act of righteousness unto justification


While we are united to the first Adam by ordinary generation, we get

united to the second Adam by regeneration. The first union is involuntary;

we cannot determine who our parents shall be. But union to Christ

partakes of a voluntary character. When the Spirit is received and

regenerates us, He makes us willing in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3).

Freedom of the will has its place in the relation into which we enter towards

the second Adam. We may reject the union or close with it. Hence the whole

race is not necessarily embraced in Christ’s vicarious work, simply because the

whole race will not be. All will not come to Jesus that they may have life

(John 5:40).


20  Moreover  the Law entered (rather, came in besides), that

the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much

more abound (or, did abound exceedingly):  21  That as sin hath reigned unto

death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life

by (through) Jesus Christ our Lord. Here no>mov nomosLaw - (though

without the article; see under v. 13) refers to the Mosaic Law, the purpose of which

in the economy of redemption is thus intimated, so as to complete the view. It

was God’s purpose from the first that grace should in the end triumph over

sin; but in the mean time law came in (cf. prosete>qh prosetethaewas

added - in the cognate passage, Galatians 3:19). For what end? Not in itself to

accomplish the purpose, not to interfere with its accomplishment, but as

an intervening dispensation to prepare for its accomplishment, by

convincing of sin, and making it exceeding sinful, (A mirror if you please –

CY – 2011) and so establishing the need of, and exciting a craving for,

redemption. This intervening preparatory office of the Mosaic Law is set forth

more at length in Galatians 3:19-26; and the working of the principle of law to

this end in the human consciousness is analyzed in ch. 7. of this Epistle.


The super-abounding grace of the second Adam raises its recipients into an eternal

life in the favor and society of God. Thus is it that the representative principle

provides the most magnificent compensation for all that it entails through our first

parent’s fall. If we by faith are united to the second Adam, then we get the benefit of

His obedience; His endurance of the penalty we deserved is accepted as ours;

His perfect obedience to the requirements of the Divine Law is imputed to us; and

His gracious Spirit comes to abide within us. The result is that the grace so

abounds as to overmaster the sin and to raise us into that fellowship with God

which is life eternal. The second Adam thus more than redeems us from our

relation to the first Adam.



Grace Abounding (vs. 20-21)


This passage seems to trace the course of two mighty rivers. The one has

its source in the Law; the stream is sin and trespass. As it proceeds it is

distinguished by abundance (and is said to reign, to dominate the

landscape), and it flows at last into THE BLACK OCEAN OF DEATH!

 The other has its source in Divine grace; the stream is righteousness. And it

Becomes even more abundant than the other; it flows irresistibly, victoriously,

until it is lost in THE SEA OF LIFE ETERNAL!  There is a well-known

spot in Switzerland, where the Rhone, after issuing from the Lake of Geneva,

is joined by the turbid, tawny waters of the Arve, which, after flowing for some

distance side by side with the blue waters from the lake, speedily stain and spoil

them. The verses before us reverse this scene, for they represent the stream

of righteousness as overpowering and purifying the river of sin; where sin

abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly.


  • THE ABUNDANCE OF SIN. Sin, in the course of ages, multiplied,

abounded, exceeded, overflowed. We have many instances of this in the

early history of our race. The abundance of iniquity occasioned the Deluge.

The exceeding vileness of Sodom occasioned the overthrow of the cities of

the plain. The sins of Israel occasioned the Captivity. As for the Gentile

world, the apostle, at the opening of this Epistle, exhibits the crimes, vices,

and horrible sins of the nations in such an appalling manner that we do not

wonder at his denunciation of the wrath of God against those who do such

things. Yet, as Christians, we feel that there is nothing which so amazingly

displays the exceeding sinfulness of sin as the crucifixion and death of

our LORD JESUS CHRIST! The sin of humanity culminated when it brought

the holy Saviour to the cross. The greatness of the ransom paid proved the

awful nature of the captivity from which men could only at such a price be

delivered. In explaining the abundance of sin, it is necessary to refer to the

many and various forms which sin assumes; to the reproductive power with

which, as a principle of action, it is endowed; to its widespread dominion;

to its lengthened sway over mankind.


  • THE SUPERABUNDANCE OF GRACE. Mighty as is sin, the grace

of God is mightier still. It is as a breeze which overflows the pestilential

air of a city; as the tide of the ocean, which enters a vast harbor and

overflows and sweeps away accumulated pollutions. It’s victorious

superabundance must be explained by referring to its omnipotent AUTHOR

and BESTOWER, GOD; to its Divine channel, CHRIST THE

MEDIATOR; to its appointed means, THE GOSPEL, at once the wisdom

and the power of God (ch. 1:16); and to its Agent, THE HOLY SPIRIT

OF GOD!   If we look at sin alone, it appears invincible, beyond all human

power to deal with; but when we regard the Divine provision of grace, we

can understand how even sin may be vanquished and utterly overcome.



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