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  ἔχομενechomenwe are having - of the

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

versions, and Fathers, supports ἔχωμενechomen - 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 ω 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.”

 

2   By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand,

and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  By whom also we have (rather, have

hadἐδχήκαμενeschaekamen - 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 - καυχώμεθα 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.

Προσαγωγὴ - 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 εἰς τὴν χάριν eis taen charininto this

grace - is properly taken (as in the Authorized Version) in immediate connection

with προσαγωγὴνprosagogaenaccess as denoting that into which we have our

access.  In Ephesians 2:18 the word is followed by the more suitable preposition πρὸς

 prostoward - 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, ἐπ ἐλπίδιep elpidi

in 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.

 

 

 

                                    Christian Privilege (vs. 1-2)

 

 

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.

 

·         WE HAVE HERE A STATEMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN’S POSITION.

 

Ø      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.

 

Ø      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.”

 

Ø      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.

 

Ø      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.

 

·         WE HAVE HERE A REPRESENTATION OF THE CHRISTIAN’S

      PRESENT PRIVILEGE. “We have,” says the apostle,” (or rather, ‘let

us have’) peace with God.”

 

Ø      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.

 

Ø      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.

 

Ø      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.

 

·         WE HAVE HERE A REVELATION OF THE CHRISTIAN’S HOPE FOR

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

 

Ø      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.

 

Ø      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?

 

 

 

                                    The Christian Privilege (vs. 1-2)

 

Justification by faith being assumed as now established, the Christian’s

consequent attitude towards God and hope in Him are next set forth.

Salvation is but begun; and the process? the goal? May there not be failure

by the way, and catastrophe at last? The apostle, in the first half of this

chapter, sets forth THE GROUNDS OF CHRISTIAN ASSURANCE.

In these two verses he exhorts to peace and joyful hope.

 

·         PEACE. Even the justified Christian may be diffident, and may

sometimes regard God with dread. Many causes may contribute to this —

constitutional diffidence; ill health; partial and imperfect views of religious

truth; intense self-consciousness; failure to realize the ideal. Paul knew it,

allowed for it, prescribed for it. “Let us have peace.”

 

Ø      The nature of peace toward God.

 

o       A quiet mind in view of God’s new relation to us in Christ.

o       A calm assurance of God’s help in all our growth and fight with

sin.

o       A confidence that all our relations to the world shall be rightly

      ordered by Him.

 

Ø      The grounds of peace toward God. “Through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

o       We have found favor through Him (v. 2).

o       We live through Him.

o       We and our interests are controlled and governed by Him.

      So, then, peace in all things toward God, by reason of the great

mediation between God and men.

 

·         GLORYING. It is much to have peace; a quiet heart; freedom from all

fear of evil. But it is better to have joy; an eager heart; the exultant

anticipation of all good. This joy is ours — a hope of the glory of God.

 

Ø      The hope of glory. Called God’s glory. Because He, the Perfect One, is

perfectly blessed. And as we approximate towards His holiness, we shall

approximate towards His happiness. He is enswathed in light; He is

leading us into light. “The glory of God.” More than imagination can

conceive or heart desire, He is preparing for them that love Him.

(John 14:1-3; I Corinthians 2:9)

 

Ø      The joy of the hope. The brightness already irradiates us; the new life

bounds in our veins. What vigor and hopefulness this lends to the doing

of duties now! We are the heirs of a boundless future. What power

to ignore the imperfectness and despair of life! Despair? with such a

hope? “Let us rejoice!”  Are we justified? Then it is our privilege to

have peace and joy. What God has done, is doing for us. It is our duty

also; for then what may we do for God!

 

 

 

                                    Justification and Its Consequences (vs. 1-2)

 

Here side by side are the most solemn, the most terrible, and the most glorious certitudes

of our religion. There is a God. With that God we are not naturally at peace. Enmity

toward God means sin; and the wages of sin is death. But how to make peace with Him?

Blessed be His Name, Christ has died that we might live. “God was in Christ,

reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.”

(II Corinthians 5:19)  Emnity and deaththe results of sin, to which all are

condemned; for all have sinned.  Reconciliation and life — the results of the obedience

and death of Christ.  These verses put before us how this wondrous transformation may

be effected: 

 

Ø      how, being dead, we may be made alive;

Ø      how, being enemies of God, we may be reconciled and have peace

      with Him.

 

·         THE NATURE OF JUSTIFICATION. The words in the original mean,

“being reckoned [or, ‘held’] as just.” We do not make ourselves just.

Neither by this act are we made just, made perfect in holiness. That is the

object of sanctification, and is not completed until we have put off this

mortal. If we should say that when we are justified we are made perfectly

righteous, that would be the same thing as saying that no Christian

commits sin — a doctrine contrary to the Word of God and to the

experience of individuals. Paul complained that the evil he would not, that

he did.  (ch. 7)  No; justification neither implies that we make ourselves just,

nor, on the other hand, that we are made just. It implies that we are reckoned

just in God’s sight so far as regards the penalty of the Law. He declares

that the Law is satisfied in regard to us. Manifestly, THIS IS THE GRACE

OF GOD!   How could we satisfy the Law? “By the deeds of the Law shall no

flesh be justified.” (ch. 3:20)  “In thy sight,” exclaims David, “shall no man

living be justified.”  (Psalm 143:2)  IT IS BY GRACE “ALONE!” We can now

point to the cross and say, “He died for me!” Christ’s own words are, “As

Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be

lifted up, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal

life.”   (John 3:14)  This is the exact parallel of justification by faith. Just as the

simple act of turning the faint and weary eyelids toward that brazen serpent

restored the dying Hebrews in the wilderness (I highly recommend:

           

            Spurgeon Sermon – NUMBER 1500, OR LIFTING UP THE BRAZEN SERPENT

 

# 6 – this website – CY – 2020)  so it is still possible for all of us,

even for such as are most dead in trespasses and sins, to look with the eye of

faith toward Calvary and say, “Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that

died.”  (ch. 8:34)  And by that death he paid our debt. “He was delivered

for our offences.”  (ch. 4:25)  THIS IS JUSTIFICATION.   Instead of being

debtors to do the whole Law, we plead its fulfilment by OUR SUBSTITUTE,

 accepted by God, while we become at the same time the servants of

righteousness. The Law has been fulfilled by a perfect righteousness, and the

penalty of a broken Law can no longer be inflicted upon those who

appropriate that righteousness as theirs. Thus JUSTIFICATION IS

THE FREE GRACE OF GOD shown in A COMPLETE PARDON of

ALL OUR SIN!   We:

 

Ø      are reconciled to God by the death of His Son; we

Ø      have received the Spirit of adoption, and,

Ø       are made heirs of eternal life.

 

All this justification secures for us in its very nature.

 

·         THE MEANS OR INSTRUMENT OF JUSTIFICATION. In plain and

unequivocal language we are here told that by faith we must be justified in

order to have peace with God. This is the grand central truth of the New

Testament. If it be removed, what message does the gospel bring? “If

righteousness come by the Law,” says Paul, “then Christ is dead in

vain” (Galatians 2:21). Christ’s whole life of doing and suffering, and

His awful death, would be a cruel superfluity — the more cruel because

superfluous, if by any other means fallen man could procure acceptance in

God’s sight. Paul cautions the Romans against any other way of

justification. “A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law”

(ch. 3:28). And when the Galatians showed a tendency to depart

from this doctrine, under the influence of Judaizing teachers, in the

strongest terms the apostle censures them: “I marvel that ye are so soon

removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another

gospel” (Galatians 1:6). He addresses them as foolish; accuses them of

returning to the beggarly elements; and says he is afraid lest he has

bestowed upon them labor in vain. The theory of justification by works,

therefore, is not one on which nothing has been said, or which has been left

doubtful. It is distinctly condemned by the apostle as inconsistent with and

prejudicial to the spirit of Christianity. When Nicodemus, a ruler of the

Jews, a self- righteous Pharisee, came to Jesus by night, how did the great

Master feed this hungry soul? Did he tell him to go and do some work of

merit? No. THE WAY, AND THE ONLY WAY, TO ETERNAL LIFE

which Jesus pointed out to him was FAITH. If good works were of any avail,

here was a man whose training had abundantly fitted him for doing good works.

But from the Saviour Himself he was to learn that he, a master in Israel, knew

not the way into the kingdom of God. Yet are there not many professing

Christians who rest their hope of an entrance into that kingdom upon their own

righteousness? Are there not many the language of whose heart is, “I have

kept all the commandments from my youth up; I have lived a pure life; I

have been regular in attendance on the ordinances of God; I have no fear”?

Such was the language of the rich young man; and Jesus said to him, “One

thing thou lackest.”  (Mark 10:21)  We must guard, too, against the notion that,

if we believe, our faith is the ground on which we are justified. It is hard,

indeed, to see how such a notion could arise, in the face of all that the

Scriptures teach against justification by works. For to make faith the

ground of our justification — the propter quod (for this reason), to use a legal

phrase — is to put faith in the position of a meritorious work. And that such has

no efficacy for justification has been abundantly shown. Faith is merely the

means or instrument by which we lay hold on the justifying righteousness

of Christ. Suppose a man owed you a sum of money, and that, in the days

when imprisonment for debt was legal, he had been imprisoned till the debt

should be paid. Another man comes and pays the debt. You give him a

receipt, and he takes that to the prisoner, who is by it set free. How absurd

it would be for any one to say that it was this debtor’s act of taking the

receipt that cancelled his obligation! Precisely similar is it to say that the

act by which we take hold of the great atonement is that which gives us

acceptance with God. We are justified by means of our faith, and not

because of it. But without that act of believing, the atonement is not ours,

peace with God is not ours. By faith we lay hold of justification; by faith

we take hold of the promises — promises for the life that now is, and the

promise of a better and unending life in the many mansions of the Father’s

house. “We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and

rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (v. 2).

 

·         THE EFFECT OF JUSTIFICATION. “Being justified by faith, we

have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This peace with God

has a twofold aspect. It concerns God’s relation to us and our relation to

God.

 

Ø      Peace with God as it affects God’s relation to us. At first God was at

peace with man, until man sinned and thus became at enmity with God.

And while God hates sin and must reward it, he willeth not the death of the

sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wicked way and live. All

through the ages, God, like a loving Father, has been seeking to bring back

the wanderers, to reconcile His erring children to Himself. At last He sent

His own Son. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and

sent his Son to be the Propitiation for our sins.” If that Propitiation has any

meaning at all, it is that God’s attitude toward those who accept it is one of

peace. “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and

have believed that I came out from God” (John 16:27). Thus faith is the

means by which WE TAKE HOLD OF CHRIST, our Substitute, our

Reconciliation. And therefore, being clothed upon with His righteousness,

we are received into the adoption of children. Being justified, we are

restored to that blissful state of sonship toward God which made Eden the

untroubled garden in which the Father came and walked at eventide. Once

more God walks with us. He will be to us a Father, and we are to Him as

His children. What a gift this is that, weak and sinful though we are, yet we

can think of God with calm assurance, BEING RECONCILED TO HIM BY

THE DEATH OF HIS SON! 

 

Ø      Peace with God as it concerns our relation to God.

 

o        Peace with God means peace in our own conscience. What a troubler

of our peace conscience is! In the silent watches of the night its voice

 is loud. The darkness dims not its light; nor is its voice hushed by the

din of business or the jovial clamor of revelry. But he who is justified

by faith has peace of conscience within. The great ocean will not wash

away the guilt of sin. But “the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son,

cleanseth us from all sin.”  (I John 1:7)

 

o        Peace with God means peace amid care and sorrow. Many trials of

body and of mind may afflict us. But if we are justified by faith, then

we have peace with God, and we know that, though no chastisement

seemeth to be joyous, yet these our “light afflictions, which are but

for a moment, are working for us a far more exceeding and eternal

weight of glory.”  (II Corinthians 4:17)

 

“Well roars the storm to those that hear

A deeper voice across the storm.”

 

            To those who rest their faith in Christ when in trouble, He will appear

as He did to His disciples on the sea, and they will hear through the

gloom a voice calling to them, “It is I: be not afraid!”  (John 6:20)

 

o        Peace with God means peace and security from the assaults of

temptation and sin. The peace of God, which passeth all

understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through

Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). It is a bulwark of defense round

about those who are justified by faith. To them it is given to be

strengthened with all might according to His glorious power.

They have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.

Such is the effect of being justified by faith. “Although my house

be not so with God, yet hath he made with me an everlasting

covenant, ordered in all things and sure” (2 Samuel 23:5 – this

is the proverbial “Sure Mercies to David!” – CY - 2020).

Here and now:

 

§         peace and fellowship with God;

§         access into grace and strength;

§         no fear of evil in the dark valley; and

§         afterward an abundant entrance into the presence of

      the King.

 

 

 

                                      A State of Privilege (v. 2)

 

It seems as if the apostle was delighted to turn from demonstrations of the

credibility of the gospel plan to consider the happiness of those who had

embraced it and were realizing its privileges. His pen glows as he exhorts

himself and his readers to taste the full comforts of the condition of

reconciliation towards God. When our right to the estate is challenged, we

may spend time in examining the title-deeds and verifying our claims; but in

general it is healthier and more satisfactory to settle down calmly on the

property and reap the benefit of its treasures. Let us confidently enter the

dwelling which Divine love has secured us, and not always stay justifying

the scheme of its foundation and architecture.

 

·         THE PALACE INTO WHICH WE ARE ADMITTED. It is a house of

grace where the favour of God is enjoyed, and which is furnished from the

stores of Divine goodness. He saw the needs of His creatures, pitied their

forlorn wretchedness, would shelter them from the storm, and lavish on

them proofs of kindness. Peace reigns there, a sense of blissful security.

Every article of furniture, every picture on the walls, every robe worn,

every meal provided, speaks of Divine mercy, of a changed attitude

towards those received within the sacred precincts. It is a permanent

home, which we enter to go out no more for ever. Grace alters not, is not

fickle; therefore “we stand” (abide) therein without fear of one day losing

our situation from the arbitrariness of the Master.

 

·         THE GATE OF ENTRANCE. “Through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He is

the Door of the sheep,” a living Way to the holiest of all. He is our

introduction (“access”) to the court of the King. His work of mercy and

righteousness has availed to procure free entry into the inheritance. The

cherubim and flaming sword no longer bar the way to the Paradise of God

(Genesis 3:24).  Man’s own moral power availed naught to force a way

into the temple. He could make no breach in the walls of governmental justice.

 

·         THE ONLY PASSPORT REQUIRED. “By faith” we enter into this

state of grace. The inquiry at the gate is, “Dost thou believe on the Son of

God?” To trust in Christ is to feel the longing for a renewed heart, for

Divine forgiveness, and to recognize in Him “the Way, the Truth, and the

Life.”   (John 14:6)  Skepticism may keep men at a distance, unbelief may turn

the back upon the mansion, timid doubt may remain gazing wistfully at the

portico, but the believer is impelled to march humbly yet fearlessly through

the appointed entrance into the halls of light and song.

 

·         THE JOY OF THE INMATES. They are filled with exultation

because of their present condition; they are already encompassed with so

many marks of Divine favor. They are constantly finding new beauties in

the construction of the rooms, and new evidences of Divine skill,

forethought, and love. But they know that this is but the foretaste of

further bliss; they triumph in the expectation of coming glory. They have

the promise and many a sign of a fuller revealing of the character and

purpose of God. He comes nearer to His guests, till at last the veil of sense

shall be removed, and every occupant of the palace be enwrapped in the

radiance of His throne. All the dust of the journey to the home, every

vestige of defilement, vanishes from the pilgrims crowned with the

brightness of God’s heavenly presence.

 

 

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.

 

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?”  HE is 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 δοκιμὴ - 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 (to ὑπομείνας hupomeinas  -  corresponding to ὑπομονὴν

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.    start here and figure out

 

 

                       

                        Blessed Fruit Off a Bitter Tree (vs. 3-5)

 

The letters of Paul abound in strange and striking paradoxes. In another

place he speaks of himself “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet

making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”

(II Corinthians 6:10)  Here he speaks of the Christian as “glorying in tribulation.”

He has been speaking of the effects of justification by faith, and ends by saying,

“We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (v. 2). Our joy, however, is not

confined to the future. True, there are cares and sorrows in this present

life. But it does not therefore follow that we are to postpone all joy until

we reach the spirit-land. “No!” says the apostle, boldly; “we glory even in

our tribulations.” The sorrows are there, ‘tis true, but the light of the cross

of Jesus transforms them with a glory all its own, even as the sunshine

makes a rainbow of the shower. “Now no chastening for the present

seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the

peaceable fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby.”

(Hebrews 12:11)  Tribulation is a bitter tree, but look at the fruits which it is

capable of yielding. “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation

worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.”

 

·         THE BITTER TREE. It is hardly necessary to speak of the bitterness of

tribulation. “The heart knoweth its own bitterness.” (Proverbs 14:10)  We all

know something of what sorrow means, and how bitter it is.

 

Ø      There is the bitterness of bereavement. What agony of spirit when one

who has been the light of your eyes, the joy and comfort of your home, is

taken from you! What bitterness of sorrow is to be compared with the grief

of parents for their children? How heart-rending is grief like David’s, when

he went up to the chamber over the gate, and as he went his sorrow

overcame him, and he cried aloud, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son

Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

(II Samuel 18:33)  And so, when the Bible wants to picture grief of the

intensest kind, it speaks of mourning as one mourneth for his only son,

and being in bitterness as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn

(Zechariah 12:10).  Parents who want to avoid the greatest of all grief,

mourning over a child of whom they have HAVE NO HOPE FOR

ALL ETERNITY, should lose no opportunity of leading their children

to the Saviour.

 

Ø      There is the bitterness of bodily suffering. Sleepless nights and weary

days of tossing on a bed of sickness — how they tend to take the sunshine

out of life! And then there are those trifling ailments, bodily infirmities, for

which, perhaps, you get little sympathy, but which keep your body

constantly feeble and your mind constantly depressed. It needs a Divine

power to bear a life of constant pain. No human strength could stand it

unaided without giving way to irritation or despondency. Even the Saviour

of the world tasted how bitter is the cup of bodily suffering.

 

Ø      There is the bitterness of disappointment. Some cherished possession is

taken away from you, some valuable property is lost, your earthly means of

support take to themselves wings and flee away, some object on which you

had set your heart is snatched away out of your reach, or some friend

whom you had implicitly trusted suddenly proves treacherous and

unfaithful. The feeling of disappointment which such circumstances

produce was in Esau’s mind when he came in to receive his father’s

blessing, and found that Jacob his brother had heartlessly supplanted him.

“When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and

exceeding bitter cry.” (Genesis 27:34)  Life’s disappointments — how

much we all know about this kind of bitterness! Yes; tribulation is indeed

a bitter tree.

 

·         ITS BLESSED FRUIT. Paul knew what he was talking about when he

came to the subject of tribulation. (see II Corinthians 11:24-27)  He knew

what persecution was. He knew what bodily suffering was. Five times he

received thirty-nine stripes.  Three times he was beaten with rods. Once he was

stoned. Three times he suffered shipwreck. He had been “in weariness and

painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness.”

He knew what danger was. He had been “in perils of waters, in perils of robbers,

in perils by his own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city,

in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false

brethren.” He knew what disappointment was. Like his Master, he too was

forsaken in his hour of need by those who made profession of being his

friends. He tells us that at his first appearance before Caesar no man stood

with him. (II Timothy 4:16)  But whatever his trials had been when he wrote

this, or whatever trials may yet be in store for him, he looks upon them all

with a calm and peaceful, nay, with an exultant mind. “We glory in

tribulations also.” (v. 3)  He knew what blessed fruit could be plucked

off that bitter tree.

 

 

Ø      First of all, there was patience. “Tribulation worketh patience.”

      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:

 

o        to purify,

o        to brighten the character, and

o        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:

 

o        the pride,

o        the selfishness,

o        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)

 

 

Ø      The second blessed fruit off this bitter tree is experience. “Tribulation

worketh patience; and patience, experience.” The word here translated

“experience’’ really means in the original “proof,” or “trial,” or “testing.”

In the Revised Version it is translated “probation.” This does not, perhaps,

quite express the full meaning either; but the point is that the apostle had

something more in his mind than what we ordinarily mean by the word

“experience.” His idea probably was that tribulation and our patience under

it give proof or confirmation of two things.

 

o        They afford. us proof of the character of God:

 

§         His faithfulness in fulfilling His promises,

§         his love in sustaining us, and

§         his power in giving us the victory over trial and suffering.

 

o        And they afford us proof of our own character also:

 

§         proof that we are the sons of God,

§         proof that we have been justified by faith.

 

Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” (Hebrews 12:6)  And then there is

the precious promise, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation [or, ‘trial’]:

for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath

promised to them that love Him.” (James 1:12)  In such ways does God

confirm us by suffering, and by our own patience under it. So He confirms

our faith in Him, and confirms our own Christian character. This is another

blessed fruit off the bitter tree of tribulation.

 

 

 

Ø      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

 

“We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

and patience, experience; and experience, hope.” (vs. 3-4)

 

 

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.

 

  • THIS EARTHLY LIFE IS HERE DEPICTED AS A SCENE OF

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.

 

  • THE PROCESS IS HERE DESCRIBED BY WHICH

TRIBULATION PROVES BENEFICIAL. The Apostle Paul took

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

“patience” here 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

FAITHFUL AND UNCHANGING GOD!   “Hope thou in God!”

(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.

 

  • WE ARE HERE REMINDED OF THE DUTY AND PRIVILEGE

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.”                   

 

 

 

                        Tribulation Made Subsidiary to Hope (vs. 3-5)     

 

Trouble is usually considered antagonistic to joy. A ready objection might

occur, therefore, to the apostle’s declaration of Christian rejoicing. How

was this possible, seeing the many hardships to which the profession of

Christianity exposed its votaries? The text refutes such an objection.

 

·         THE CHRISTIAN FACTORY. Tribulation is God’s method of

disciplining His people.  (I had a friend hand me a note with the following

on it as I was getting ready to leave on my  pm bus route for Christmas, 1996:

           

                        “Adversity is God’s own tool,

                        to shape the man by chipping

 away the fool!”

 

CY – 2020)  Sin having entered the world, bringing sorrow in its train,

the very afflictions of life are forced by Divine grace to contribute to

the improvement of those who undergo it religiously. This was evident in

Old Testament times, but is still more visible under the dispensation of the

Spirit, where chief stress is laid upon graces of character. The faith of the

Christian is the material on which the machinery of trouble operates,

spinning out of it the thread of patience. In the school of trouble are the

meaning and the mercy of pain learned; only those who have experienced

opposition have been taught true resignation to God’s will, content not to

hurry events or to quarrel with them, but confidently to await His time and

issue. With the threads of patience is woven the cloth of probation. He

who continues steadfast in the will of God proves for himself the truth of

the promises, the accuracy of the Divine forecasts, and the success of the

Divine methods. The long succession of days and nights produces its glad

harvest, when the fruits of patience attest that not in vain did the sower

sow. And the mill of God’s training ceases not its work, till out of

probation is constructed the beautiful garment of hope, in which the

Christian is gloriously arrayed. What can he do who has tested the

faithfulness of God, but entertain unshaken confidence respecting all that

yet awaits him? The evolution of grace is seen to produce ever better

results as time passes, and the sure expectation is begotten of a grandeur of

glory casting all past experience into the shade. Thus the apostle has

returned to and demonstrated his previous statement.

 

Ø      Observe that tribulation is not in itself the object of rejoicing. The

machinery seems often hard and cruel apart from its aim. Only when we

look through the things seen to the unseen and eternal can we welcome

trouble as working out a weight of glory (II Corinthians 4:18), and it

loses its fearsome aspect.

 

Ø      Then tribulation must have the Christian spirit to work upon, or its

results may be disastrous. Not every substance will pass unharmed

through the wheels and rollers, the spindles and shuttles. It may be

torn in the process, or reduced to pulp. Trouble does not necessarily

improve the worldly minded. Instead of softening, it may harden the

heart; the man may become peevish and morose, soured by

disappointment.

 

Ø      And the Christian may dread the allurement of prosperity more than the

endurance of hardship. The chilling blast causes the traveler to wrap his

cloak the closer around him; it is the heat which leads to throwing off his

garment. Troubles drive us to THE APPOINTED REFUGE; in our joys

we are like Hannibal’s soldiers at Cannae, relaxing the bonds of vigilance

and soberness. Times of persecution have often proved an invigorating,

bracing season to the Church. Perhaps the hope of future glory appears

more lustrous and enviable when in contrast with present danger.

 

·         THE VALUE OF THE PRODUCT. Hope is cheerful, like the light

wherewith God decks Himself and adorns the landscape. Hope is the eye of

the soul; its clearness and brightness tell of good health. But the point on

which the apostle here insists is the reliable character of Christian hope. It

is a robe of which the wearer will never have cause to be ashamed. It suits

the wearer. There has been an inward preparation for the outward

adornment. God’s love has been diffused through his breast. Assured that

he is a beloved child, the anticipation of bliss and perfection is an

appropriate vesture for his peaceful, happy spirit. The man excluded from

the wedding-feast because of an unsuitable dress showed thereby that his

heart was not right; pride or obstinacy had rejected the garment freely

offered. The workmanship of the robe displays the same gracious design

that has filled the heart already with assurances of reconciling, redeeming

love. The Spirit showing to the believer the things of Christ reveals the

character and purpose of God, and the hope of glory is recognized as

corresponding in every particular to this experience of the wondrous love

of God. It is a durable garment, not flimsy in texture, looking well for a

season, then suddenly giving way. The hope of many is like a palace of ice,

glittering, but yielding to the rays of increasing light, or like a torch

extinguished by the wind of death. But this hope, amid every change of

circumstance, shall subsist in undecaying, yea, growing, splendor.

 

 

 

                                    God’s Love in the Heart (v. 5)

 

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. They are enlightened by the Holy Spirit, who brings before them in

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. 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.” Observe:

 

·         THE GIFT IMPARTED. “The love of God.” This is probably not our

love to God, but His love to us, which indeed ever, when recognized and

felt, kindles the flame of affection within the breast of the Christian.

 

Ø      This love is properly part of the Divine nature and character. So

distinctive is this gracious attribute of the Supreme Father, that we are told

that “God is love.” How different a representation of the Deity from those

current among the unenlightened idolaters! How fitted to comfort and

encourage the people of the Lord!

 

Ø      This love is regarded by Christians as especially revealed in Christ Jesus.

In this Epistle, whilst the inspired apostle sets forth the Christ as

revealing the righteousness of God, He also exhibits the Divine love as

more conspicuously revealed in “the unspeakable Gift” (II Corinthians

9:15) than by any other means.  In this representation, indeed, all the

apostles are agreed. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He

loved us, and sent His Son to be the Propitiation for our sins.” (I John

4:10)  In this language John teaches the same precious lesson. There

was love in the advent, love in the ministry, love in the death, love in

the ascension, of our Saviour; and there is love in His intercession and

His reign.

Ø      This love becomes, by Divine grace, the possession of the true believers

in Christ. It is not merely something to be admired for its unparalleled

moral splendor and beauty and excellence. It is to be appropriated and

held and enjoyed. This leads us to consider:

 

·         THE NATURE THAT IS FILLED BY THIS LOVE. It is “shed

abroad in our hearts.If we believe in the love of a fellow-creature, and

return that love, there is in such experience something more than belief;

there is strong and joyful feeling. The heart is the home of love. And love

constitutes the riches of the heart. It is so, not only in the mutual relations

of human beings, but in the relation between the soul and God. No doubt,

mystics and sentimentalists, monks and nuns, saints in their ecstasies and

revivalists in their fervor, have often used language extravagant, sickly,

and sentimental concerning the love of God in the heart. But

unquestionably the danger with ordinary English Christians lies in the

tendency towards the opposite extreme. We are in no great danger from

sentimental raptures. But we are in danger of regarding religion too much

as an affair of belief and of duty. Love is not, indeed, to begin and end in

the heart; it is to become a motive to action, a principle of endurance, an

inspiration to cheerfulness and content. But that it may be all this, it must

first be a feeling, a hallowed, spiritual emotion. The heart must contemplate

the peerless love of God revealed in Christ, and must rejoice in the

revelation. This love must be the most welcome theme of meditation, and

must be present in the soul, not only in prosperity and happiness, but in the

season of trial and distress. A natural question arises — How can this come

to pass? How can a nature, prone to sin and selfishness, come to take such

pleasure in the pure love of a benevolent and merciful God? To answer this

inquiry, we must observe:

 

·         THE AGENCY BY WHICH THE GIFT IS BESTOWED. “By the

Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” That the Holy Spirit should have

access to our hearts is what we might reasonably expect should be the case.

“The Spirit witnesseth with our spirits.”  (ch. 8:16)  This Divine agency of

illumination and quickening and renewal ever accompanies the truths of the

gospel, and accounts for their exercising an influence so great over human

hearts. It would be dishonoring to God were we to claim for ourselves the

natural and moral power to appropriate or even to appreciate Divine love.

It is all of grace. For observe “the Holy Ghost is given unto us.” This does

not mean that the effusion of the Holy Spirit is capricious and arbitrary. On

the contrary, laws — though they may not be understood by us — explain

all the Divine action; and there is reason, even in the impartation of

spiritual influences and the communication of celestial love. But it must be

plainly understood that we have no just, legal claim upon God for His

Spirit. We may use the means He has appointed. We may ask the Father for

His choicest Gift. We may make ready a dwelling-place for the Heavenly

Guest. We may await the promise of the Father. Yet, when given, the Holy

Spirit is given freely, and of sovereign clemency and favor. Let us bear in

mind our daily need of the enjoyment of the Divine love in order to our

happiness, and in order to the efficiency and acceptableness of our service.

And let our sense of need lead us to daily supplications for that Divine and

spiritual influence that can make real and sweet to us the love of God in

Christ, that we may feel its constraining power, and may learn to live, not

unto ourselves, BUI UNTO THE LORD!

 

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 Joy of Tribulation (vs. 3-5)

 

Paul has taught us that peace, nay glorying, may be ours, though this be a

world of trial. He now teaches that we may glory in the very trials

themselves. And this teaching he enforces by a chain of arguments. In other

words, he taught in the previous verses that we are conquerors; now he

teaches that we are “more than conquerors.”

 

·         TRIBULATION WORKETH PATIENCE. No character can be truly

formed without the opportunity of endurance; we must learn to resist.

Tribulation affords this opportunity; it calls us to resist.

 

·         PATIENCE. WORKETH PROBATION. Or, as the word means

literally, “triedness.” We must be as the genuine metal, which rings true.

This can only be, in the case of character, as we have become true.

 

·         PROBATION WORKETH HOPE. Trials works hope in a double

sense: the tested strength we have warrants confidence; and past triumphs

are pledges of future. So a veteran soldier, by reason of victories that he

has won, and because he is a veteran, looks forward to future victory.

 

·         HOPE PUTTETH NOT TO SHAME. The hope of victories to come

is merged in the great hope of the crowning victory (Revelation 2:10) the

standing approved in God’s presence at last. But shall this be? Are we not

most unfit for such a presence? And may we not, therefore, when we confront

Him at last, confront His wrath? So would our hopes belie themselves, and by

them we should be put to shame! Nay, but this cannot be. For is not all the

spiritual education, upon which partly we build our hope, an education of God?

Does not He mercifully suffer tribulation to befall us, that we may endure?

and that, enduring, we may be approved? and that, being approved, we

may have hope? THIS HOPE IS OF HIM!   But, beyond all this, does not He

Himself now assure us of His love? Is it not shown to us by the Spirit, which

searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God?  (I Corinthians 2:10)  Nay,

is it not transfused through all our nature, “shed abroad” by the Spirit given

to us?  (v. 5)  Yes, truly, all our consciousness pulsates with the assurance of

the tender mercy of our God; all the voices of our experience say to us,

“God loves you.” And can such a hope be put to shame? Never, while God’s

Word lasts! God is educating us; but in and through all, and above all,

GOD LOVES US!  Let us hold fast to this blessed fact. While yielding to the

discipline, let us at the same time hold His hand, and be strong in His mighty

 love.

 

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 γὰρgar – 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 μόλις

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

distinction between δικαίουdikaioujust man -  in the first clause and τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ

- 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 ἀγαθοῦ, forbids this interpretation. One view is

that τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ 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 ἀγαθὸς 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)

 

 

 

                                    The Great Love (vs. 6-8)

 

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. But an historical fact is used by the Spirit of God as the

instrumentality of His work of love; and it is because we believe in the fact

that we realize THE LOVE WHICH GIVES US SUCH A BLESSED LIFE! 

Yes, “God commendeth His love toward us;” and the great fact of commendation is

this, “Christ died for us.”

 

·         THE LOVE. We may never forget that it was because God loved us we

were saved. The originating impulse to salvation was in Him. Wrath and

love were mingled, but the love strove so to act that the wrath should be

put away. The claims of righteousness on account of sins that were past

were strong; but what if, by a supreme self-sacrifice, He Himself should

meet those claims? Even so it was; thus God’s love worketh all in all.

 

·         THE SELF-SACRIFICE. Some object to the doctrine of a vicarious

atonement, that to punish the innocent for the guilty is not just. But here

we behold GOD HIMSELF stooping to death for man! And may not love

make such a sacrifice? Nay, this is the only sacrifice which true love can make —

to sacrifice itself. “God commendeth His own love toward us, in that Christ

died for us.” The son of a father, dearer than self: Abraham; William Tell.

But such illustrations utterly fail; for God’s Son is indissolubly One with

Him — the Communication of Himself.

 

·         THE SACRIFICE FOR SINNERS. Such love the great prototype of

all self-sacrificing human love. There may be the sacrifice of husband for

wife, of mother for child. But this, in a sense, is self for self; God’s was

God for man. There may be more disinterested sacrifice: subject for

monarch, friend for friend. Yes, there may be self-sacrifice even unto death

“for a righteous man,” “for the good man” — there may be:

“peradventure” “scarcely.” (v. 7)  But God’s love — for the weak, for the

ungodly, for sinners! For such as were averse from Himself, transgressing

the laws of holiness, impotent to attempt or desire the good — FOR SUCH

HE DIED!   A love which not merely pitied the victims of weakness, but gave

itself for those who were most repulsive in their love of sin, most

unblushing in their hate of God: herein is love indeed! And such was HIS

LOVE TO US, IN CHRIST!   

 

Our faith in him, then, must be a faith which shall never let go its hold,

which shall trust unto the uttermost. Also, our love must be a reflex of His.

Even for those who are most distasteful in their sin, a redeeming love must

be felt and shown.

 

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 (τῆς ὀργῆςtaes 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

ἐχθροὶ  - echthroi - enemies   and καταλλάγημεν katallagaemenwe were

conciliated;  καταλλαγέντεςkatallagentesbeing conciliated 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

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

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

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.

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.

 

  • THE PRIVILEGES OF CHRIST’S PEOPLE IN THE PRESENT,

 

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.

 

  • THE PROSPECTS OF CHRIST’S PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE.

 

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)

 

Notice THE ARGUMENT FROM THE GREATER TO THE LESS.   It is the

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)

 

 

 

 

                                    The Certainty of Salvation (vs. 9-10)

 

The doctrine of justification by faith may be said to be hinted at in the first

chapter, implied in the second, distinctly proclaimed in the third, proved

scriptural in the fourth, and openly exulted in in this present chapter. Its

consequences are now being emphasized by the apostle.

 

·         THE APPEAL TO A FACT. The “if” of the tenth verse does not signify

doubt, but introduces the major premise of the proposition, and one which

is matter of instant acknowledgment. Translate it “since,” or “seeing that.”

 

Ø      The previous state, one of enmity against God. The human race as such

had revolted against its Sovereign. The apostle considers Christ’s work as

EFFECTED FOR ALL GENERATIONS!  the ancient saints profiting by

anticipatory faith, and subsequent believers being attracted by the plain

preaching of the cross. Modern experience attests the reality of this unnatural

condition, the hostility being evident in:

 

o        thought,

o        word and

o        deed.

 

What a BLIGHT must have fallen upon the creation, for the creatures to set

themselves against their Creator, the children against their Parent! The

remembrance of a God in heaven, instead of inspiring delight, is excluded as

far and as long as possible. Witness the exclamation of the woman by the

dying-bed of Falstaff, “Now I, to comfort him, bid him `a should not think

of God; I hoped there was no need to trouble himself with any such thoughts

yet.”

 

Ø      The change effected. Reconciliation means the bringing together in

happy agreement of parties formerly at variance. It matters not whether we

can definitely state the time and manner of our individual conversion,

provided we are conscious that there is now no estrangement, that we are

not “alienated in our mind” from the almighty Author of our being. Does

peace reign? Do we love and not dread God, desiring to serve Him as our

chief glory?

 

Ø      The instrument. The death of Christ is declared by the apostle to have

removed every barrier to man’s return to fellowship with God. We are

justified by His blood,” which allays the fears of conscience and inspires us

with new motives and desires. The law of condemnation was nailed to the

cross. Sinners recognize in the Father’s surrender of His beloved Son His

            intention and willingness to forgive the penitent.

 

·         THE ARGUMENT BASED THEREON.

 

Ø      If a dying Christ reconciled us, surely a living Redeemer will avert from

us Divine wrath. The contrast was great between the lifeless form taken

down by the disciples from the cross, and the risen Saviour declaring, “All

power is given unto me in heaven and earth.”  (Matthew 28:18)  And in

proportion did the disciples rise from chilling despair into a condition of

fearless triumph. The resurrection was the seal of the pleasure of God in

the obedience of His Son, and an ascension to honor could mean nothing

less than continued aid and blessing for those on whose behalf the Son

had  suffered.

 

Ø      If Christ endured the cross for the sake of His enemies, surely He will

now save His friends. By His death He transmuted foes into friends, and

friendship involves help in every time of need. The exalted Saviour places

His priestly resources at the disposal of His weak and tempted followers.

His perpetual intercession is a guarantee of their full, complete salvation.

“Having loved His own who were in the world, He loves them unto the

end.”  (John 13:1)

 

Ø      If Christ overcame the initial difficulty in salvation, no other obstacle

can arrest His redemptive career. It might well seem the crux of the

problem to bring man into the way of salvation; but once his feet are

guided into the way of peace, to sustain him therein is the joyful function of

Him who “ever lives to save.”   (Hebrews 7:25)  The bridging of the chasm

between sin and righteousness, love and holy indignation, having been

accomplished, none can doubt the ability of the Divine Architect to lead the

wayfarer across in safety. Our Shepherd trains and feeds His flock. The angel

with the golden censer perfumes and offers our prayers before the throne.

THE LIVING SAVIOUR is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John

14:6) of His people.

 

 

 

                                    The Assurance of Redemption (vs. 9-11)

 

 

 But what an argument of assurance is such a love! If the love itself works

hope, how does this assured love work an assured hope! It is an a fortiori

of the strongest kind.

 

·         THE RECONCILIATION.

 

Ø      We were enemies. God was opposed to us; we were opposed to God.

Something terribly real in this twofold opposition. We know its reality on

our side; conscience, nature, and revelation testify to its reality on God’s

side. The wrath of God.

 

Ø      Christ died for us. Justifying us by His blood, reconciling us to God

through His death. The great demonstration of righteousness; the Divine

concession to its claims. Also a great demonstration of love; the Divine

provision for its claims. (Before the world began – Revelation 13:8 –

CY – 2020)  Yes; GOD SACRIFICING HIMSELF for man.

 

Ø      We are reconciled. God’s love has free course now through Christ; our

love is won for God in Christ. So then peace, amity, mutual love;

identification in Christ! “Behold, what manner of love,” etc. (I John

            3:1).

 

·         THE REJOICING. A reversion to argument with which chapter

opened, and which is more or less maintained through all these verses. We

look forward and fear. Nay, says the apostle, look to the past; think how

great things God hath done for you; think of the conditions under which all

that deliverance was wrought. And now contrast: see conditions of present

salvation, and be glad as you look to the future, assured that your salvation

shall be unto the uttermost.

 

Ø      Not enemies, but friends. What we were! But He loved us then, laid

down His life for us then. What we are! how much more shall He save us

now! “Thou art mine!”

 

Ø      Not his death, but his life. Two sides of Christ’s saving work. Think of

the suffering and death: that did so much! Think of the exaltation and

life: how much shall not that do!

 

Ø      Not only reconciled, but rejoicing. The new-found love; the living

Friend.  Let us take this Divine “much more” (V. 9) into all our life.

The dark background of rebellion and death; the present love and life:

much more! The overcoming of the great evil once for all; the over-

coming of our temptations now: much more! The gift of the Son; and

now the gift of all grace through Him: much more! And so, “saved

from wrath through Him.”

 

 

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.

 

CHRIST HAS UNDONE WHAT SIN HAS DONE TO US!  WE WERE

PARALYZED BY SIN!

 

 

 

                                    The State of the Justified (vs. 1-11)

 

We saw in last chapter how Abraham was justified by faith alone, and how

his case really covers ours. The promise of blessing through a seed, which

Abraham believed so implicitly, has been fulfilled in Christ. We accordingly

behove in the faithful Promiser who raised up Jesus from the dead, and we

regard His death and resurrection as being a deliverance to death for our

offences, and a deliverance from death for our justification. Faith enables

us to draw the assurance of our justification from the resurrection of our

Saviour. But now we pass under the guidance of the apostle to the

consideration of the delightful state into which the justified come. And here

we notice:

 

·         THE ASSURANCE THAT WE ARE THE OBJECTS OF THE

DIVINE LOVE. (vs. 1-5.) By nature and by reason of our sin we are the

objects of God’s righteous wrath; but when we are enabled to believe in a

Saviour who died for us and rose again, we find ourselves passing out of

the condemned condition into an assurance of God’s love. And the apostle

here gives us the stages in the blessed process.

 

Ø      We pass into a state of peace with God. We prefer the indicative

(ἔχομενechomenwe are having) adopted in the Authorized

Version to the subjunctive (ἔχομενechomenwe are having -  as

seen in v. 1 above in exposition) adopted by the Revised Version

after Westcott and Hort. For the state of peace is not some uncertainty

into which we may come, but it is a state which results from

justification if it has really taken place. We cease from war, we are

no longer enemies, we have entered into a state of peace. The

believer, as he calmly meditates on the atoning work of Jesus Christ,

sees that he has been led thereby out of the storm into the calm, out of

war into peace. Enmity is over and peace is proclaimed.

 

Ø      We realize that Christ conducts us into a standing in grace. By His

gracious mediation we pass into a new relation to God; we realize that

we are justified, as believers, from all things from which we could not be

justified by the Law of Moses.  (Acts 13:39)  We can now stand before

God, and realize our pardon and acceptance in the Beloved.

 

Ø      We are enabled to rejoice in hope of God’s heavenly glory. For the

justified condition into which we have come through Christ is intended to

reach through the present life and issue in the glory of the life to come.

It is no mere temporary frame of mind, but a permanent state, into which

our Saviour has brought us.

 

Ø      We are enabled to profit by life’s tribulations. So much is this the case

that we are enabled to congratulate ourselves upon (καυχώμεθα

kauchomethawe are glorying in) our tribulations; for through

these we reach the power of patient endurance (ὑπομονὴν

hupomonaen - indurance), and through the power of patient endurance

we reach experience (δοκιμήνdokimaentestedness, which means

the result of the probation, as well as the “probation” itself, and

the former gives here, notwithstanding the Revisers, the better sense)

and through experience we reach hope — the hope of heavenly glory,

since as its earnest there is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost

a consciousness that we are the objects of the Divine love. The hope

can never be disappointed. We have a “present heaven” in our happy

assurance of God’s love. We have passed out of the gloom into the

gladness, and beyond us and awaiting us there lies the glory. Thus

our tribulations conduct us to assurances of Divine love such

as we could not otherwise enjoy.

 

·         THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE DIVINE LOVE. (vs. 6-10.)

The apostle, to confirm believers in the assurance of God’s love, proceeds

to exhibit its history.

 

Ø      And he shows its sovereign character. That is to say, it was when we

were without strength, when we were helpless and hopeless in our guilt,

that God gave love’s greatest proof in Christ dying for the ungodly.

It was, therefore, no reason in us, but SOLELY THE EXERCISE OF

GOD’S DIVINE LOVE which led to the death of Jesus for the ungodly.

 

Ø      The death of Jesus is the great demonstration of God’s love. Men have

occasionally sacrificed their lives for good men, never for a merely just

one; but God in Christ sacrificed His life for those who are yet sinners.

No mightier demonstration of Divine love can he imagined than this

dying of God’s Son for sinners. And it is well here to notice that as a

trinitarian transaction” (Each Person of the Godhead was involved

in it) God in Christ’s death exhibits “his own love” (Revised Version).

Through the unity of Father and Son in the Divine essence, the death

of Jesus is really the self-sacrifice of God. It is, therefore, THE MOST

MARVELOUS EXHIBITION OF ALL LOVES!

 

Ø      The resurrection-life of Jesus is the great guarantee of our salvation

from Divine wrath. Jesus died to secure our justification. We are justified

by His blood. In this God has reconciled us to Himself. The resurrection

of Jesus is accordingly the proof that God is satisfied with His own self-

sacrifice in Jesus Christ (see Isaiah 53:11 – “He shall see of the travail

of His soul , and shall be satisfied:”, and so His wrath is turned away

from us through the spectacle of a risen Saviour. “The highest form of

love,” says Shedd, “that, namely, of self-sacrifice, prompts the triune

God to satisfy His own justice, in the room and place of the sinner

who has incurred the penalty of justice. In THE WORK OF

VICARIOUS ATONEMENT,  God Himself is both the

offended and the propitiating party. This is taught in II Corinthians

5:18, ‘God hath reconciled us to himself;’ Colossians 1:20, ‘To

reconcile all things to Himself.’  God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, is

Judge, Priest, and Sacrifice, all in one Being. The common objections to

the doctrine of the propitiation of the Divine anger rest upon the unitarian

idea of the Deity. According to this view, which denies personal

distinctions in the essence, God, if propitiated, must be propitiated by

another being than God. Christ is merely a creature. The influence of the

atonement upon God is, therefore, a foreign influence from the sphere of

the finite. But, according to the trinitarian idea of the Supreme Being, it

is God who propitiates God. Both the origin and the influence of the

atonement are personal, and not foreign, to the Deity. The transaction is

wholly in the Divine Essence. The satisfaction of justice, or the

propitiation of anger (whichever terms be employed, and both are

employed in Scripture) is required by God, and made by God.”

It is a risen Saviour, living and reigning, who saves us from fear of

Divine wrath and assures us  of acceptance.

 

·         JOY THROUGH RECEIVING THE RECONCILIATION. (v. 11.)

Now, when we appreciate God’s wondrous love in providing a

reconciliation, then we receive it by faith, and find ourselves constrained to

rejoice in God who could so provide for us. Moreover, it is clear from the

term “received” (ἐλάβομενelabomenwe obtained) that the

reconciliation (καταλλαγὴνkatallagaen - conciliation) is not

something paid by the sinner, but something DIVINELY PROVIDED

which has to be accepted. It is an additional obligation imposed, not a

price paid. GOD IS SO REGAL as to “reconcile Himself,” and then ask

us to receive the benefit thereof. We ought to rejoice in such a God. Verily

His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways. (Isaiah 55:8)

The justified have every reason to be joyful in their King.

 

 

 

 

                                    Joy in God (v. 11)

 

Men cherish the most diverse, varied feelings towards God.

 

Ø      Some are haters of God, regarding Him as their enemy.

Ø      Others are indifferent to God, utterly forgetting Him,

      acting as though He were not.

Ø      Others, again, have so far a just apprehension of God that they

      fear Him, standing in awe of His righteous authority.

Ø      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.”

 

·         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 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 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.”

                        (Matthew 25:23)

 

 

                                                            vs. 12-21

 

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 ὥσπερhospereven 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, πόθεν τὸ κακὸν - 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 εἰσῆλθεν 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, Ὑμῶν τὸ πνεῦμα καὶψυχὴ καὶ τὸ σῶμα

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 (ψυχικὸς ἄνθρωπος

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 σῶμα πνευματικόν

 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 who is the figure of Him that was to

come.”  Though νόμος 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 γὰρ – gar – for -  with πάντες ημαρτον 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, καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς - 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 τύπος

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.

 

 

 

                                    The Reign of Death (vs. 12-14)

 

The summing up of this first division of the Epistle: CHRIST HAS UNDONE

WHAT SIN HAS DONE as regards our objective relation to God. In these three

verses — Sin through one WORKS DEATH TO ALL!

 

·         SIN WORRYING DEATH. “Death” a word with many meanings in

Scripture. Dissolution of complex nature; corruption of spiritual nature;

and final abandonment by God. Here the first. An objective punishment of

an objective transgression; a manifest sentence of condemnation. Hence

symbolic of condemnation itself, showing forth God’s wrath. May well lead

thoughts to death that must reign in the inner man, through the withdrawal

of God’s favor — a spiritual paralysis. Also might well be premonitory of

the total casting-off. Such, then, the triple death:

 

Ø      condemnation,

Ø      helplessness, and

Ø      the culmination of both in the hereafter.

 

And this the death which “entered into the worldthrough sin.

 

·         DEATH REIGNING OVER ALL. But this sin the sin of one. How,

then, the universal death? Look around — death, death, death! Yes, might

answer, because sin, sin, sin! True; but carry thought back to time anterior

to Law. Death still! And no sin then such as Adam’s was, such as yours is

so conscious, so deliberate. There was the presence and working of sin,

indeed, but the working was the spontaneous working of a corrupt nature.

No law, and therefore, strictly, no transgression. Argument might be

reinforced by similar consideration of heathen now, and infants: death

reigns! So, then, the death even of those who have the Law is not on

account of their individual transgressions of the Law, but must be traced to

the same cause as operates in the case of those who have “not sinned after

the likeness of Adam’s transgression.”  (v, 14)

 

·         THE SIN OF ONE THE SIN OF ALL. Therefore, if death be an

objective punishment for an objective offence, it can be for none other’s

than his offence who first transgressed God’s manifested will. And

therefore, if the condemnation be imputed to all, the sin was imputed to all.

Or, in other words, in him “all sinned” (v. 12). The marvelous solidarity

of all things — species, genus, world, system, universe. So in respect of

mankind, and the spiritual history of mankind: the act of one, the act of all.

So, then, all the rest are under a shadow — the shadow cast by Adam’s sin! All

bear a brand — the brand of his punishment! Where is the path from

darkness into light? Justification through Christ! Can this be coextensive in

its range with the results of sin? Is there a solidarity here also? Yes.’; for

Adam was “a figure of Him that was to come.” We have another Head, a

second Adam!

 

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.  16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is

the gift: for the judgment was by one (ἐξ ἑνὸς ek henosout of one)

to condemnation, but the free gift is of (ἐκ πολλῶν ek pollonout

of many) many offences unto justification. 17 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 (παράπτωμα

paraptomaoffence; trespass) and (χάρισμα – 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 πολλῷ μᾶλλον 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 οἱ πολλοὶ - oi

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

the verb ἐπερίσσευσεν eperisseusenabounded; exceeds; super-

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

οἱ πολλοὶ 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, , εἰς πάντας

ἀνθρώπουςθάνατος διῆλθενeis 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 δίκαιοι κατασταθήσονται οἱ

πολλοὶ - 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

οἱ πολλοὶ (the many) in vs. 15 and 19 instead of πάντες (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 εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους, εἰς δικαίωσιν

 eis pantas anthropous eis dikaiosin[came] upon allmen 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 καὶ (and), so as to suggest a new idea, and v. 17 being connected

with it by γὰρ (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 (ἐγένετο εἰς)

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 Abounding Life (vs. 15-17)

 

It is evident that all are condemned, because death reigns; and it is proved

that the condemnation of all is through the sin of one, because even where

no express law is, there is death. But we have hope in Christ. Is our hope

valid? Does the justification through Christ reach over as wide a range as

the condemnation through Adam? And is the consequent life to prevail

coextensively with the death? The argument here is to prove the certainty

of each coextension.

 

·         AN ABOUNDING GRACE.

 

Ø      The originating cause of the condemnation was the

 

o       severity of God;

o       working because of trespass — a trespass which was (literally)

      a fall through weakness;

o       and working, for one trespass, death to all.

 

Ø      The originating cause of the justification is the

 

o       grace of God;

o       working by a gift of grace — viz. Christ; and by the grace of

      this Christ — a love unto death;

o       and working because many trespasses call forth compassion.

      Surely, “not as the trespass, so also is the free gift.”

 

·         AN INDIVIDUAL APPROPRIATION OF THE ABOUNDING GRACE,

 

Ø      The participation in the sentence of condemnation was passive on the

part of the many, for the sin of one — the unchoosing heirs of a sad

inheritance.

 

Ø      The participation in the decree of life is active on the part of many, for

the sacrifice of the One — they “receive” the grace of righteousness,

laying hold of it by the voluntary activity of faith.  Infinite love is the

fount of our life; and Jesus Christ, a Man, is He in whom all fullness

dwells. The certainty is irrefragable. Do we make it ours? “As

many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons

                        of God, even them who believe upon His name.” (John 1:12).

 

 

The next two vs (18-19), introduced by Ἄρα οὖν 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 the free gift came

upon all men unto justification of life.” Therefore as by the offence of one

judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness

of one δἰ ἑνὸς δικαιώματος - di henos dikaiomatosthrough the righteousness of One -  

contrasted with the preceding δἰ ἑνὸς παραπτωματος - di henos paraptomatos

through 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 εἰς πάντας

ἀνθρώπουςeis pantas anthropous into all humans -  not εἰς τοὺς πολλοὺς

eis tous pollousin the many -  thus indisputably denoting universality

of effect, as of the παράπτωμαparaptomaoffence; trespass) so also of

δικαίωμαdikaiomajustification.   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),

Αὐρέθη μοιἐντολὴεἰς ζωὴν, αὕτη εἰς θάνατονheurethae moi hae

entolae hae eis zoaen hautae eis thanaton – the 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

οἱ πολλοὶ, see under v. 15. The phrase, if taken as equivalent to πάντεςpantes

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, δίκαιοι κατασταθήσονταιdikaioi 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 ζωὴ αἰώνιοςzoae aionioslife eternal - the other

to κόλασις αἰώνιος.kolasis 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).

 

 

 

                        The Two Antitheses  (vs. 18-19)

 

The equal solidarity with Christ as with Adam is reaffirmed, from the implication

of vs. 12-14, in the strength of the arguments of vs. 15-17.  Affirmed in two

antitheses, the one pointing in either case more to historical events, the other to

moral causes.

 

·         THE HISTORICAL ANTITHESIS.

 

Ø      One trespass unto condemnation the condemnation that is marked

      by death.

 

Ø      One act of righteousness (i.e. one decree of righteousness) unto

justificationthe justification that brings life.

 

·         THE MORAL ANTITHESIS.

 

Ø      One man’s disobedience making the many sinners: it being imputed to

them for sin. The sinfulness of perverted will is also bound up in the same

sad heritage.

 

Ø      One Man’s obedience — obedience “unto death” (Philippians 2:8)

— making the many righteous: it being imputed to them for righteousness.

The power of a holy will also involved in the restored heritage.

We see here the immense importance of moral acts; the immense

influence also of moral factors. Never to be repeated on such a scale:

but not on a lesser scale? “If one member suffer, all the members suffer

with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it

            (I Corinthians 12:26)

 

 

 

                                    Ruin and Redemption (v. 19)

 

By itself the first clause expresses a fact of deepest gloom. It calls attention

to the prevalence of sin and death. The history of the world is traced in

darkest colors. We see the race from Adam till now marching to the

grave, with the taint of corruption upon all. We are confronted by that

profound mystery, the existence of moral evil, with its widespread, deep-seated

effects. The possibility of man made upright and free yielding to

temptation does not exhaust the explanation of the actual Fall. And when

the Scriptures point to the influence of an external agent, the serpent,

employed to bring about the downfall of the first pair, the pall of mystery is

not removed; its corner is lifted a little that we may see how our difficulties

relate to questionings concerning the origin and continuance of evil in

beings superior to man. This appears to be God’s mode of dealing with us.

Enough is said to allow faith a foothold, not enough to place the whole

territory at our disposal. Instead of unlocking the house of previous being

and inviting us to its darkened halls, to explore for ourselves the tragedy

with which our own world-tragedy is connected, the Scriptures point to a

Sun that has risen to shine upon our moral firmament, and bid us note its

blissful tendencies, kindling fresh life and beauty, arresting decay, reviving

hope, attesting the interest of the Almighty in His creatures, and showing

that the permission of evil is not to be ascribed to any lack of Divine love.

The subject of sin cannot be beneficially studied unless combined with the

antidote which the wisdom and affection of the Most High have provided.

Faith may waver as it contemplates the inroads made by sin upon the

intelligence and happiness of the human family, and faith must be

strengthened by meditation on the remedial work of Christ. Do you

wonder at the transmission of contagion from generation to generation, at

the long-drawn-out penalty of the race? and does the law seem inequitable

that lays many of the acts of the guilty as a burden on the shoulders of the

innocent? Then notice the operation of the same law in redemption, where

the Son of God sheds His blood to save sinners, and observe how from Him

is perpetuated the blessing of peace and godliness. Separate the two

hemispheres, and the mind becomes a prey to chilling doubts and

oppressive fears; unite them, and hope asserts its beneficent vivifying

power. Whilst we declare in amazement, “How unsearchable are His

judgments, and His ways past finding out!”  (ch. 11:33)  We can add,

“To whom be glory for ever;” (Galatians 1:5); “Just and true are thy ways,

thou King of saints.”  (Revelation 15:3)

 

 

·         THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE SIN OF ADAM AND THE

RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST. To disobey the particular prohibition

was:

 

Ø      to listen to the tempter, and

Ø      to substitute human will for the Divine.

 

Therein was contained the germ of the worst vices. To Jesus was assigned

the more difficult task of remaining holy amid a world of evil, and the

slightest deviation from rectitude had marred His perfect offering. Our sin is

disobedience, and we are righteous in proportion as we obey the dictates of

God from the heart. Disobedience, as Adam found, does not enlarge, but

restricts our liberty. Not knowledge, but obedience, saves the soul.

 

·         THE CONTRAST FURTHER SHOWN IN THE EFFECTS

WROUGHT BY EACH. The apostle assumes the truth of the story in

Genesis. He proves the universality of sin by a reference to the fact that ALL

HAVE DIED, showing that even the ancients prior to Moses must have

transgressed some law, and so incurred the penalty for disobedience. The

principle of heredity confirms the truth of the doctrine that our progenitors

have transmitted a vitiated nature to their descendants. Jesus, the second

Adam, is the Head of a new race, to whom He imparts a new birth, with its

issue sanctification. By the model of His flawless obedience, and by the

grace which flows into us from that spring of obedience, the curse is

removed from believers, and righteousness is imputed and imparted.

 

·         THE COMPARISON OF THE NUMBERS INFLUENCED. This

passage should enlarge our estimate of the kingdom of the saved. In each

case it is “the many” who are affected. The obedience of Christ is sufficient

as a meritorious cause to justify the whole world, though only those who

receive the Word” are consciously gladdened and sanctified thereby. No

man is condemned on account of Adam’s transgression; it is his own

disobedience to the written or innate law which determines his sentence.

The millions who have died in infancy are redeemed by Christ; multitudes

in the Jewish and heathen world were saved by virtue of His atonement,

though not explicitly revealed to them, and the Apostle John saw in heaven

a number beyond the arithmetic of earth to calculate.

 

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 νόμοςnomosLaw - (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 (compare προσετέθηprosetethaewas

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. 12-21)

 

Here the apostle contrasts the reign of sin with the reign of grace, and

shows that, while there is a point of similarity between them, there are

many points in which they differ, and in which grace is triumphant over sin.

All this is for the encouragement of the sinner, that he may be led from the

captivity of sin to hope and live under the influence of God’s mercy.

 

·         GRACE AND SIN BOTH CAME BY AN INDIVIDUAL PERSON. “By one

      man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (v. 12); “Through the offence

of one many died” (v. 15); “Death reigned by one” (v. 17); “By one

man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (v. 19). So also with the

reign of grace. “The grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one

Man, Jesus Christ” (v. 15); “They who receive abundance of grace and of

the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ” (v. 17);

“So by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous” (v 19).

Observe here the power of the individual for good or evil. Our acts are

widespread in their influences, perhaps eternal in their consequences.

None of us liveth to himself.”  (ch. 14:7)  Shall our life be a curse to those

around us, or a blessing? Shall we be among those whose aim and errand in

the world seem to be to do all the mischief or all the harm they can? Or shall

we be amongst those who try to follow in the footsteps of Him who “went about

every day doing good”?  (Acts 10:38)

 

·         THE INFLUENCE OF GRACE IS TRIUMPHANT OVER THE

INFLUENCE OF SIN.

 

Ø      Sin brought condemnation; grace triumphant brings pardon. “The

judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many

offences unto justification” (v. 16); “As by the offence of one judgment

came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of

One the free gift came upon all men to justification of life” (v. 18).

Grace and mercy triumph over the guilt of sin.

 

Ø      Sin brought sinfulness; grace brings righteousness. “As by one man’s

disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall

many be made righteous” (v. 19). One man’s sin imposed upon the race

an hereditary taint of sin. The depravity of human nature, as already

shown, is universal. “All have sinned.” (ch. 3:23)  But here, too, grace

can triumph. Grace can change the corrupt and unregenerate heart.

Grace reigns through righteousness God’s purpose in justification is

not merely that His people may be saved from sin’s guilt, but also that

they may be delivered from its power. As Paul elsewhere says,

“According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of

the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love”

(Ephesians 1:4). The experience of many a true child of God has shown

how grace can triumph over the hereditary sinfulness of human nature,

and over the special temptations to which some natures are exposed.

 

Ø      Sin brought death; grace brings LIFE!  “That as sin hath reigned unto

death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal

life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (v. 21). IT IS SIN WHICH HAS CAST

THE GLOOM OVER THE DARK VALLEY!. “The sting of death is

sin.” (I Corinthians 15:56)  But Jesus has come to give us light.

“Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus

Christ” (ibid.  v. 57). Truly, if sin has abounded to the corruption and

despair and death of human nature, grace has much more abounded to

its regeneration and hope and everlasting life.

 

 

 

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 iSwitzerland, 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.

 

 

 

 

                                    The Economy of Law (vs. 20-21)

 

A return to the mention of the Mosaic Law, and its part in the great economy

of the world’s history. Its immediate, remoter, and ultimate effects.

 

·         IMMEDIATE EFFECT.

 

 

Ø      A side-economy: among one people, for disciplinary purposes.

 

Ø      “That the trespass might abound,” i.e. that men might be compelled to

the consciousness of that which wrought in them unconsciously. Working

thus two-foldly as:

 

o       revelation, and

o       repression.

 

In the latter way, obviously to the intensifying of the consciousness of sin,

as when a torrent is dammed. The former has an analogue in the growing

knowledge of the Christian life, and the increased arduousness of

Christian effort which is consequent upon it. So the moral law, the

ceremonial, the prophets, and John Baptist. The climax of its effect

towards sin in the crucifixion of Christ, in which man’s wickedness,

driven to desperation by the holy law of the life of Christ, showed

its utmost evil. Truly, “the Law came in, that the trespass might

abound.”  (v. 20)

 

·         REMOTER EFFECT. “Grace did abound more exceedingly.”

 

Ø      The very economy of law was an economy of mercy, in all its parts: so

the “This do, and live,” which in some sense was verified even to their

imperfect doings; and so the double significance of their sacrifices,

revealing indeed their guilt, but prophetic of expiation.

 

Ø      The climax of sin, wrought through the Law, was a climax of grace:

      the death of HIM WHO MUST DIE  to take away sin. “More

      exceedingly?” Ah, yes!

 

·         ULTIMATE EFFECT. Extension of effects, to all the world: and

they? A contrast once again.

 

Ø      “Sin reigned in death” — the dread sign of its sovereignty. Seen

everywhere — the dark sign-manual stamped on all the world.

 

Ø      “That even so might grace reign,” etc.

 

o       Grace. God’s favor shown in spite of sin.

 

o       Through righteousness. The favor being shown through Christ,

      and through the justification which is by Him. God’s favor

      at once the originating cause, and the realized effect, of the

      righteousness.”

 

o       Unto eternal life. The everlasting sign of the sovereignty of love,

      as contrasted with that death which was the sign of the sovereignty

of sin.  This, then, the paean which shall resound through all the

ages“Death is swallowed up in victory!” (I Corinthians 15:54)

Shall we have part in that immortal song?

 

 

 

                        Representative Responsibility (vs. 12-21)

 

In last section we saw the blessed state into which the justified believer

comes:

 

Ø      a state of peace,

Ø      of gracious acceptance,

Ø      of glorious hope,

Ø      of joy in God.

 

The apostle in the present section expounds the relation in which

mankind stands to the two great representatives, Adam and Christ. We

cannot do better than consider these two representatives in the order

named, and how they are related to the race.

 

·         THE FIRST ADAM AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE RACE. Now,

the apostle distinctly declares in this passage that death entered into our

world through one man’s sin. The one man in his sin must, therefore, have

been acting for the race; and it is for us to get a clear view of his

representative position. Now, the usual mistake made in this subject is in

supposing that representatives must be voluntarily selected by those they

represent. This is not always the case. A representative may occupy his

position of necessity. This was the case with our first parent. The human

race is not made up of a number of independent units, but of a series of

dependent generations. Consequently, as first parent, Adam was in the

very nature of the case representative of the race. “The unreasoning

flippancy,” says an able writer, “with which some object to their

responsibility for the act of Adam, because they had no part in choosing

him as their representative, shows singular want of thought and of

discriminating observation of the settled order of God’s providence. It is

evident that when God Himself directly institutes a social organization, He

always appoints, either by special act or by an invariable natural order, the

ruling and representative head… The unity of the human race is His own

immediate institution, and He appointed Adam its ancestor to be its

representative and federal head. And in this case also He rendered an

elective appointment by man impossible, by the constitution which brought

man into being in successive generations. Not having from the beginning

contemporaneous existence, consentaneous action was impossible. Their

unity, therefore, was made to depend upon a common head and upon his

representative action .... The constitution of nature and the course of

providence render it a matter of social justice that one generation shall bind

the succeeding, however remote, for good or evil. All legislation and all

government proceeds upon this principle, and cannot avoid it. The evil

entailed upon the race has come upon us by the selfsame principle, and its

repudiation is impossible without the violation of the moral order upon

which the stability of society depends. Our responsible relation to the first

sin of Adam in no way depends upon our consent to his appointment as

our covenant head, any more than our responsible relation to the national

debt of The United States is affected by the fact that it was contracted without

our personal consent, and before we were born.  It will be found also that

Adam’s parental authority carries with it the idea of kingship; he was in a

regal as well as representative position; he had dominion not only over the

creatures, but also over his own posterity. His acts were consequently of a

regal and representative character. Carrying these necessary principles with

us, we can see how his sin in eating the forbidden fruit was a

representative act. In this the race was represented, by it the race was

bound; he was acting in his representative capacity, and there is no good

gained by repudiating it. But, further, we can understand in some measure

how a sin like Adam’s affected his constitution, so that he became with his

wife tainted, and so transmitted the sin to succeeding generations. The

death of infants is the positive proof that the race has been treated as an

organic unity, and that the taint of sin has been transmitted by ordinary

generation. The whole subject of “heredity,” as now scientifically treated,

bears upon this relation of Adam to his posterity. It is evident that the

generations have been linked each to each. Representative responsibility

has been in operation from the first. Instead of quarrelling with the

arrangement, our duty is to recognize it, and to see how out of the same

principle we may receive blessing as a glorious set-off to the curse which

has been transmitted to us.

 

·         THE SECOND ADAM AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE

JUSTIFIED. We have seen how the first Adam was constituted the

representative of the race, and by his sin involved the whole race in

trespass and condemnation. Death passed unto all men, for that all in him

have sinned. But now the apostle shows us the glorious set-off to this

inheritance of guilt and death. God has given a new Representative to the

race, even Jesus Christ His Son. By His obedience the representative

principle is transmuted into an organ of grace instead of an organ of

condemnation. But let us carefully note the nature of the relation set up

between us and Christ. And here let us observe:

 

Ø      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).

 

Ø      Jesus proposes to quench the fire, not only of original sin, but also of

actual sin, in those who receive His grace. This is the apostolic idea in this

passage. The arrangement might have been to checkmate merely the

original sin; that is, to put the race upon as good a platform as our first

parent occupied before the Fall. Christ’s obedience might thus have been

the mere equivalent for Adam’s disobedience. But the free gift of

justification through Christ embraces our actual sins as well as our original

sin. Grace is thus seen to abound. All sin in which we have been involved

gets cancelled and put away through the obedience of our Representative.

And:

 

Ø      Jesus proposes not only to counteract the sin, but also to secure a reign

of grace unto eternal life. The 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:

 

o        His obedience;

o        His endurance of the penalty we deserved is accepted as ours;

o        His perfect obedience to the requirements of the Divine Law is

      imputed to us; and

o        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.

 

·         THE ADMINISTRATION OF GRACE THROUGH JESUS

CHRIST MAKES AMPLE COMPENSATION FOR ALL APPARENT

ANOMALIES IN THE PREVIOUS COVENANT. Now, one of the facts

referred to by the apostle in this passage is, on the admission of almost all

the commentators, the death of infants in consequence of their relation to

Adam. It may, of course, be said that these infants were in the loins of

Adam when he sinned, as Levi was in the loins of Abraham when he paid

tithes to Melchizedek. Still, the fate of infants would seem an anomaly in

the government of God if they are to receive no compensation through

relation to the second Adam. But if it is scriptural to believe that all infants

who die because of their relation to the first Adam inherit everlasting life

because of their relation to the second Adam, then all harshness disappears

and the anomaly is overborne. (Think of the tragedy and uselessness of

abortion on demand!  There is nothing good in abortion except that one

hundred percent of aborted children will be in heaven because of the work

of Christ but no way is it considered that abortion is in the category of “....

let us do evil that good many come” - ch. 3:8 – because the next four words

of the verse nail anything like this idea to the wall!  CY – 2020)  Now, this is,

as we believe, the proper doctrine. All who die in infancy are, through the

all-abounding grace of the second Adam, saved. We need have no fears for

them, wherever they have passed away. Their suffering unto death is a

cheap price to pay for exemption from the temptations of the present world

(with its liability to hell); and each of them in the glory will accept the

painful passage to it as, after all, a merciful arrangement, seeing that

glory lay beyond it.

 

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