Haldane on Romans

Romans 1:1

EXPOSITION OF THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

BY ROBERT HALDANE

FOREWORD

It is with particular pleasure that I recommend this commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

I do so for many reasons.

First and foremost is the fact that I have derived such profit and pleasure from it myself. I always find it very difficult to decide as to which is the better commentary on this Epistle, whether that of Charles Hogde or this by Haldane. While Hodge excels in accurate scholarship, there is greater warmth of spirit and more practical application in Haldane. In any case, both stand supreme as commentaries on this mighty Epistle.

However, that which gives an unusual and particularly endearing value to this commentary is the history that lies behind it. In 1816 Robert Haldane, being about fifty years of age, went to Switzerland and to Geneva. There, to all outward appearances as if by accident, he came into contact with a number of students who were studying for the ministry. They were all blind to spiritual truth but felt much attracted to Haldane and to what he said. He arranged, therefore, that they should come regularly twice a week to the rooms where he was staying and there he took them through and expounded to them Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. One by one they were converted, and their conversion led to a true Revival of religion, not only in Switzerland, but also in France. They included such men as Merle D’Aubigne the writer of the classic “History of the Reformation,” Frederic Monod who became the chief founder of the Free Churches in France, Bonifas who became a theologian of great ability, Louis Gaussen the author of “Theopneustia,” a book on the inspiration of the Scriptures and Cesar Malan. There were also others who were greatly used of God in the revival. It was at the request of such men that Robert Haldane decided to put into print what he had been telling them. Hence this volume. And one cannot read it without being conscious of the preacher as well as the expositor.

What a distinguished French minister Dr. Reuben Saillens says of what became known as “Haldane’s Revival” can be applied with equal truth to this commentary: “The three main characteristics of Haldane’s Revival, as it has sometimes been called, were these: (1) it gave a prominent emphasis to the necessity of a personal knowledge and experience of grace; (2) it maintained the absolute authority and Divine inspiration of the Bible; (3) was a return to Calvinistic doctrine against Pelagianism and Arminianism. Haldane was an orthodox of the first water, but his orthodoxy was blended with love and life.”

God grant that it may produce that same “love and life” in all who read it.

D. M. LLOYD-JONES March 1958

PREFACE

ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Every page of the sacred volume is stamped with the impress of Deity, and contains an inexhaustible treasure of wisdom, and knowledge, and consolation. Some portions of the word of God, like some parts of the material creation, may be more important than others. But all have their proper place, all proclaim the character of their glorious Author, and all ought to be earnestly and reverentially studied. Whatever be their subject, whether it relates to the history of individuals or of nations, whether it contains the words of precept or exhortation, or whether it teaches by example, all is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. But while every part of the word of God demands the most serious attention it is not to be doubted that certain portions of the sacred volume call for more frequent and deeper meditation. In the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms contains a summary of all Scripture, and an abridgment of its most important instructions and sweetest consolations. In the New Testament, the Epistle to the Romans is entitled to peculiar regard. It is the part of Scripture which contains a detailed and systematic exhibition of the doctrines of Christianity. The great truths which are embodied and inculcated in every other part of the Bible, are here brought together in a condensed and comprehensive form. More especially, the glorious doctrine of justification by faith is clearly unfounded and exhibited in the strongest light.

The Epistle to the Romans has always attracted the peculiar notice of those whose study has been directed to the interpretation of Scripture. To the this portion of the Divine record, all who look for salvation by grace have constantly appealed, and here they have a rich mine of evidence, alike solid and inexhaustible No considerable difference of interpretation has ever been given of its contents by those who have renounced their own wisdom, and determined to follow implicitly the obvious meaning of the word of God. This Epistle has been equally an object of attention to those who admit the authority of Scripture, but follow their own wisdom in forming their system of religious doctrine. Salvation by grace and salvation by works are so incompatible with each other, that it might well be supposed no attempt would ever be made to bring them into harmony.

Still the attempt has been made. Human wisdom cannot receive the doctrine of the Epistle to the Romans, and men professing Christianity cannot deny it to be a part of Scripture. What, then, is to be done? A compromise is proclaimed between the wisdom of man and the revelation of God. All the ingenuity of Mr. Locke, one of the most acute and subtle metaphysicians that ever appeared, has been exerted to bring the doctrine of Paul into accordance with human science. Like him, many others have labored to give a view of this Epistle that may reconcile human merit with divine grace.

Nothing is more manifest than the direct opposition between the doctrine of inspiration, as unfolded in the Epistle to the Romans, with respect to the state and prospects of mankind, and the doctrine of this world’s philosophy. Paul contemplates all men in their natural state as ruined by sin, and utterly unable to restore themselves to the Divine favor.

Philosophers, on the contrary, survey the aspect of society with real or affected complacency. They perceive, indeed, that imperfection and suffering prevail to a considerable extent; but they discover a vast preponderance of happiness and virtue. They cannot deny that man is of a mixed character; but this is necessary, in order that his virtue may be his own, and that, in passing onwards to the summit of moral excellence, his strength of principle may be more illustriously displayed, and his happiness promoted by his progress in virtue, as well as by his advancement in knowledge . Nor is this remarkable difference altogether confined to philosophy. Even many professors and expounders of Christianity cannot entirely accord with the Apostle Paul in his representations of human nature. Man, it seems to them, is not so completely lost but that he may do something to regain the Divine favor; and if a sacrifice were necessary for the expiation of sin, its blessing must be equally bestowed on all mankind.

The doctrine of justification, in particular, so far transcends the powers of our discovery, that men are ever attempting to set it aside, or to mold it into accordance with their own preconceived notions. How wonderful is the contrast between the justification of which this Apostle treats, and the justification which critical ingenuity has often extorted from his Epistles!

While Paul speaks of the believer as possessing a righteousness perfectly commensurate to all the demands of the law, and standing at the bar of God spotless and blameless, human wisdom has contrived to exhibit his doctrine as representing salvation to be the result of a happy combination of mercy and merit.

The doctrine of salvation by faith without works has ever appeared to the wise of this world not only as a scheme insufficient to secure the interests of morality, but as one which disparages the Divine authority. Yet its good effects are fully demonstrated in every age; and while nothing but the doctrine of salvation by grace has ever produced good works, this doctrine has never failed of its designed object. In all the ways of God there is a characteristic wisdom, which stamps them with the impress of divinity.

There is here a harmony and consistency in things the most different in appearance; while the intended result is invariably produced, although in a way which to man would appear most unlikely to secure success.

The mind of every man is by nature disaffected to the doctrine of this Epistle; but it is only in proportion to the audacity of his unbelief that any one will directly avow his opposition. While some, by the wildest suppositions, will boldly set aside whatever it declares that opposes their own preconceived opinions, others will receive its statements only with the reserve of certain necessary modifications. Thus, in the deviations from truth in the exposition of its doctrines, we discover various shades of the same unhallowed disregard for the Divine testimony.

The spirit of speculation and of novelty which is now abroad, loudly calls upon Christians to give earnest heed to the truths inculcated in the Epistle to the Romans. There is hardly any doctrine which has not been of late years exposed to the corruptions and perversions of men who profess to be believers of Divine revelation. Many, altogether destitute of the Spirit of God and the semblance of true religion, have nevertheless chosen the word of God and its solemn and awfully momentous truths as the arena upon which to exercise their learning and display their ingenuity. In consequence of the Scriptures being written in the dead languages, there is doubtless scope for the diligent employment of critical research. But if it were inquired how much additional light has been thrown upon the sacred volume by the refinements of modern critics, it would be found to bear a very small proportion to the evil influence of unsanctified learning applied to the holy doctrines of revelation. It has become common, even among Christians to speak of the critical interpretation of Scripture as requiring little or nothing more than mere scholarship; and many seem to suppose that the office of a critical and that of a doctrinal interpreter are so widely different, that a man may be a safe and useful critic who has no relish for the grand truths of the Bible. There cannot be a more lamentable delusion, or one more calculated to desecrate the character and obscure the majesty of the word of God. To suppose that a man may rightly interpret the Scriptures, while he is ignorant of the truths of the Gospel, or disaffected to some of its grand fundamental doctrines, — to imagine that this can be to him a useful or even an innocent occupations — is to regard these Scriptures as the production of ordinary men, treating of subjects of ordinary importance, instead of containing, as they do, the Message of the Most High God, revealing life or death to every soul to whom they come.

If the Scriptures have not testified in vain that the carnal mind is enmity against God; if we are bound to believe that there is no middle state between the Christian and the unbeliever; can we wonder at the manner in which they have been perverted, not only by the ignorance, but by the inveterate prejudices, of men from whom the Gospel is hid? Is it reasonable — is it agreeable to the dictates of common sense — to believe that the critical interpretations of such men are not tinged with their own darkened and hostile views of the Divine character and the Divine revelation? And yet such is the opinion entertained of the labors of some of the most unenlightened commentators, that their works have obtained a celebrity altogether unaccountable on any principle of Christian wisdom.

Christians ought to be particularly on their guard against tampering in any degree with the word of God. We should never forget that, when we are explaining any expression of Scripture, we are treating of what are the very words of the Holy Ghost, as much as if they had been spoken to us by a voice from heaven. The profane rashness of many critics is much emboldened by the circumstance that men have been employed as the instruments of the Almighty in communicating His revelation. A sort of modified inspiration only is granted to the Scriptures, and they are often treated as the words merely of those who were employed as the penmen.

When God is thus kept out of sight, little ceremony is used with the words of the Apostles. That profound reverence and awe with which the Scriptures ought to be read and handled, are in many instances too little exemplified. The poor man’s Bible is the word of God, in which he has no suspicion that there is anything but perfection. The Bible of the profoundly erudite scholar is often a book that is not so necessary to instruct him, as one that needs his hand for alteration, or amendment, or confirmation. Learning may be usefully employed; but if learning ever forgets that it must sit at the feet of Jesus, it will be a curse instead of a blessing. It will raise clouds and darkness, instead of communicating light to the world.

The evil of studying the Scriptures, and commenting upon them with as little reverence as a scholar might comment upon the plays of Aristophanes or Terence, has extended itself much farther than might be supposed. This is the spirit in which the Gerrean Neologians have written; and indeed it is to be feared that, as the Neologian form of infidelity originated from this profane method of criticizing the Scriptures, so the same cause may produce the same effect in this country. Certain it is that works have been republished or translated here, which are very little calculated to uphold the ancient faith of the Church of Christ, or to advance the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.

From present appearances, there is every reason to fear that Britain will be inundated with German Neology. The tide has strongly set in, and unless the Christian public be upon their guard, the whole country will be brought under its influence. It is a solemn thing to be instrumental in ushering into more extended notoriety publications that have a tendency to lower the character of the Holy Scriptures, to introduce doubt and confusion into the minds of those who are weak in the faith, and to embolden others who seek an apology for casting away the fetters of education and authority, and desire to launch out into the ocean of wild and dangerous speculation. While some appearances in Germany of a return to the Scripture doctrine of salvation by Jesus Christ should be gladly hailed by every Christian, yet it must be admitted that those who in that country seem to have made the greatest advances in the knowledge of the Gospel, are still far from being entitled to be pointed out as guides to the Christians of Great Britain. Their modifications of Divine truth are manifestly under the influence of a criticism too nearly allied to Neology.

There is great danger that in the admiration of German criticism a tincture may be received from continental errors. It would be far preferable if learned Christians at home would pursue truth in a diligent examination of its own sources, rather than spend their time in retailing the criticisms of German scholars. ‘Their criticisms,’ it is observed by Dr. Carson, ‘are arbitrary, forced, and in the highest degree fantastical. Their learning is boundless, yet their criticism is mere trash. The vast extent of their literary acquirements has overawed British theologians, and given an importance to arguments that are self-evidently false.’

In these days of boasted liberality, it may appear captious to oppose with zeal the errors of men who have acquired a name in the Christian world.

The mantle of charity, it will be said, ought to be thrown over mistakes that have resulted from a free and impartial investigation of truth, and if not wholly overlooked, they should be noticed with a slight expression of disapprobation. Such, however, was not the conduct of the Apostle Paul.

He spared neither churches nor individual when the doctrines they maintained turned to the subversion of the Gospel and the zeal with which he resisted their errors was not inferior to that with which he encountered the open enemies of Christianity. He affirms that the doctrine introduced into the Galatian churches is another Gospel, and twice pronounces a curse against all by whom it was promulgated. Instead of complimenting the authors of this corruption of the Gospel as only abusing in a slight degree the liberty of free examination, he decides that they should be cut off as troublers of the churches. Let not Christians be more courteous in expressing their views of the guilt and danger of corrupting the Gospel, than faithful and compassionate to the people of Christ who may be injured by false doctrine. It is highly sinful to bandy compliments at the expense of truth.

The awful responsibility of being accessory to the propagation of error is strongly expressed by the Apostle John. ‘If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed; for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds.’ If the imputation of Adam’s sin and of Christ’s righteousness be doctrines contained in the word of God; commentaries that labor to expel them from that word must be grossly pestiferous books, which no Christian ought to recommend, but which, on the contrary, to the utmost of his power, it is his duty to oppose.

A very dangerous misrepresentation of some of the great doctrines of the Epistle to the Romans has lately come before the public, in a commentary on that Epistle from the pen of Professor Moses Stuart of America. As that work has obtained an extensive circulation in this country, — as it has been strongly recommended, and is likely to produce a considerable effect, — it has appeared proper to make frequent references to his glaring perversions of its important contents. On the same principle, various remarks are introduced on the well-known heterodox commentary of Dr. Macknight; I have also alluded occasionally to the heretical sentiments contained in that of Professor Tholuck, lately published.

In the following exposition, I have availed myself of all the assistance I could obtain, from whatever quarter. Especially I have made use of everything that appeared to be most valuable in the commentary of Claude, which terminates at the beginning of Ro 3:21. I have also had the advantage of the assistance of Dr. Carson, whose profound knowledge of the original language and well-known critical discernment peculiarly qualify him for rendering effectual aid in such a work. As it is my object to make this exposition as useful as possible to all descriptions of readers, I have not always confined myself simply to an explanation of the text, but have occasionally extended, at some length, remarks on such subjects as seemed to demand particular attention, either on account of their own importance, or of mistaken opinions entertained concerning them. As to those which required a fuller discussion than could be conveniently introduced, I have referred to my work on the Evidence and Authority of Divine Revelation.

By studying the Epistle to the Romans, an exact and comprehensive knowledge of the distinguishing doctrines of grace, in their various bearings and connections, may, by the blessing of God, be obtained. Here they appear in all their native force and clearness, unalloyed with the wisdom of man. The human mind is ever prone to soften the strong features of Divine truth, and to bring them more into accordance with its own wishes and preconceived notions. Those lowering and debasing modifications of the doctrines of Scripture, by which, in some popular works, it is endeavored to reconcile error with orthodoxy, are imposing only in theory, and may be easily detected by a close and unprejudiced examination of the language of this Epistle.

INTRODUCTION

THE Epistle to the Romans was written by the Apostle Paul from Corinth, the capital of Achaia, after his second journey to that celebrated city for the purpose of collecting the pecuniary aid destined for the church at Jerusalem. This appears from the Ro 15, where he says that he was going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. ‘For,’ he adds, ‘it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.’ The Epistle appears to have been carried to Rome by Phebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea, which was the port of Corinth; and we learn from Ac 19 and Ac 20, and from different parts of the two Epistles to the Corinthians, that, after having remained about three years at Ephesus, Paul purposed to pass through Macedonia and Achaia, to receive the contributions of the Corinthians, and afterwards proceed to Jerusalem.

As to the period when this Epistle was written, it is certain that it was at a time previous to Paul’s arrival at Rome. On this account, he begins by declaring to the disciples there that he had a great desire to see them, and to preach to them the Gospel; that he had often purposed this, but had hitherto always been prevented. This statement he repeats in Ro 15. It appears to be earlier in date than the Epistles to the Ephesians and Philippians, and those to the Hebrews and Philemon, and the Second to Timothy; for all of these were written during the Apostle’s first or second imprisonment at Rome, but later than the two Epistles to the Corinthians. It is generally supposed that it was written in the year 57 of the Christian era, about twenty-four years after the resurrection of our Lord.

Notwithstanding that this Epistle was written after some of the rest, it has been placed first in order among them on account of its excellence, and the abundance and sublimity of its contents. It contains, indeed, an abridgment of all that is taught in the Christian religion It treats of the revelation of God in the works of nature and in the heart of man, and exhibits the necessity and the strictness of the last judgment. It teaches the Doctrine of the fall, and corruption of the whole human race, of which it discovers the source and it’s greatness. It points out the true and right use of the law, and why God gave it to the Israelites; and also shows the variety of the temporal advantages over other men which the law conferred on them, and which they so criminally abused. It treats of the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ, of justification, of sanctification, of free will and grace, of salvation and condemnation, of election and of reprobation, of the perseverance and assurance of the salvation believers in the midst of their severest temptations, of the necessity of inflictions, and of the admirable consolations under them — of the calling of the Gentiles, of the rejection of the Jews and of their final restoration to the communion of God. Paul afterwards lays down the principal rules of Christian morality, containing all that we owe God, to ourselves, our neighbors, and to our brethren in Christ, and declares the manner in which we should act in our particular employments; uniformly accompanying his precepts with just and reasonable motives to enforce their practice. The form, too, of this Epistle is not less admirable than its matter. Its reasoning is powerful and conclusive; the style condensed, lively, and energetic; the arrangement orderly and clear, strikingly exhibiting the leading doctrines as the main branches from which depend all the graces and virtues of the Christian life.

The whole is pervaded by a strain of the most exalted piety, true holiness, ardent zeal, and fervent charity.

This Epistle, like the greater part of those written by Paul, is divided into two general parts, — the first of which contains the doctrine, and extends to the beginning of Ro 12; and the second, which relates to practice, goes on to the conclusion. The first is to instruct the spirit, and the other to direct the heart; the one teaches what we are to believe, the other what we are to practice. In the first part he discusses chiefly the two great questions which at the beginning of the Gospel were agitated between the Jews and the Christians, namely, that of justification before God, and that of the calling of the Gentiles. For as, on the one hand, the Gospel held forth a method of justification very different from that of the law, the Jews could not relish a doctrine which appeared to them novel, and was contrary to their prejudices; and as, on the other hand, they found themselves in possession of the covenant of God, to the exclusion of other nations, they could not endure that the Apostles should call the Gentiles to the knowledge of the true God, and to the hope of His salvation, nor that it should be supposed that the Jews had lost their exclusive pre-eminence over the nations. The principal object, then, of the Apostle was to combat these two prejudices. He directs his attention to the former in the first nine chapters, and treats of the other in the tenth and eleventh.

As to what regards the second portion of the Epistle, Paul first enjoins general precepts for the conduct of believers, afterwards in regard to civil life, and finally with regard to church communion.

In the first five chapters, the great doctrine of justification by faith, of which they exclusively treat, is more fully discussed than in any other part of Scripture. The design of the Apostle is to establish two things: the one is, that there being only two ways of justification before God, namely, that of works, which the law proposes, and that of grace by Jesus Christ, which the Gospel reveals, — the first is entirely shut against men, and, in order to their being saved, there remains only the last. The other thing that he designs to establish is, that justification by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, respects indifferently all men, both Jews and Gentiles, and that it abolishes the distinction which the law had made between them. To arrive at this, he first proves that the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, are subject if the judgment of God; but that, being all sinners and guilty, neither the one nor the other can escape condemnation by their works. He humbles them both. He sets before the Gentiles the blind ignorance and unrighteousness both of themselves and of their philosophers, of whom they boasted; and he teaches humility to the Jews, by showing that they were chargeable with similar vices. He undermines in both the pride of self-merit, and teaches all to build their hopes on Jesus Christ alone; proving that their salvation can neither emanate from their philosophy nor from their law, but from the grace of Christ Jesus.

InRo 1, the Apostle commences by directing our attention to the person of the Son of God in His incarnation in time, and His Divine nature from eternity, as the great subject of that Gospel which he was commissioned to proclaim. After a most striking introduction, every way calculated to arrest the attention and conciliate the affection of those whom he addressed, he briefly announces the grand truth, which he intends afterwards to establish, that ‘the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,’ because in it is revealed ‘THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD.’ Unless such a righteousness had been provided, all men must have suffered the punishment due to sin, seeing God hath denounced His high displeasure against all ‘ ungodliness and unrighteousness .’ These are the great truths which the Apostle immediately proceeds to unfold. And as they stand connected with every part of that salvation which God has prepared, he is led to exhibit a most animating and consolatory view of the whole plan of mercy, which proclaims ‘glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men’.

The first point which the Apostle establishes, is the ruined condition of men, who, being entirely divested of righteousness, are by nature all under sin. The charge of ‘ungodliness,’ and of consequent ‘unrighteousness,’ he proves first against the Gentiles. They had departed from the worship of God, although in the works of the visible creation they had sufficient notification of His power and Godhead. In their conduct they had violated the law written in their hearts, and had sinned in opposition to what they knew to be right, and to the testimony of their conscience in its favor. All of them, therefore, laws under the sentence of condemnation, which will be pronounced upon the workers of iniquity in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men. In Ro 2, a similar charge of transgression and guilt is established against the Jews, not withstanding the superior advantage of a written revelation with which they had been favored.

Having proved in Ro 1 and Ro 2, by an appeal to undeniable facts, that the Gentiles and the Jews were both guilty before God, in Ro 3, after obviating some objections regarding the Jews, Paul takes both Jews and Gentiles together, and exhibits a fearful picture, drawn from the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures, of the universal guilt and depravity of all mankind, showing that ‘there is none righteous, no, not one,’ and that all are depraved, wicked, and alienated from God. He thus establishes it as an undeniable truth, that every man in his natural state lies under the just condemnation of God, as a rebel against Him, in all the three ways in which He had been pleased to reveal Himself, whether by the works of creation, the work of the law written on the heart, or by the revelation of grace. From these premises he then draws the obvious and inevitable conclusion, that by obedience to law no man living shall be justified; that so far from justifying, the law proves every one to be guilty and under condemnation. The way is thus prepared for the grand display of the grace and mercy of God announced in the Gospel, by which men are saved consistently with the honor of the law. What the law could not do, not from any deficiency in itself, but owing to the depravity of man, God has fully accomplished. Man has no righteousness of his own which he can plead, but God has provided a righteousness for him. This righteousness, infinitely superior to that which he originally possessed, is provided solely by grace, and received solely by faith. It is placed to the account of the believer for his justification, without the smallest respect either to his previous or subsequent obedience. Yet so far from being contrary to the justice of God, this method of justification, ‘freely by His grace,’ strikingly illustrates His justice, and vindicates all His dealings to men. So far from making the law void, it establishes it in all its honor and authority. This way of salvation equally applies to all, both Jews and Gentiles — men of every nation and every character; ‘there is no difference,’ for all, without exception, are sinners.

The Apostle, in Ro 4, dwells on the faith through which the righteousness of God is received, and, in obviating certain objections, further confirms and illustrates his doctrine, by showing that Abraham himself, the progenitor of the Jews, was justified not by works but by faith, and that in this way he was the father of all believers, the pattern and the type of the justification of both Jews and Gentiles. And in order to complete the view of the great subject of his discussion, Paul considers, in Ro 5, two principal effects of justification by Jesus Christ, namely, peace with God and assurance of salvation, not withstanding the troubles and afflictions to which believers are exposed. And because Jesus Christ is the Author of this Divine reconciliation, he compares Him with Adam, who was the source of condemnation, concluding with a striking account of the entrance of sin and of righteousness, both of which he had been exhibiting. He next shows the reason why, between Adam and Jesus Christ, God caused the law of Moses to intervene, by means of which the extent of the evil of sin, and the efficiency of the remedy brought in by righteousness, were both fully exhibited, to the glory of the grace of God.

These five chapters disclose a consistent scheme in the Divine conduct, and exhibit a plan of reconciling sinners to God, that never could have been discovered by the human understanding. It is the perfection of wisdom, yet in all its features it is opposed to the wisdom of this world. 1.

As the doctrine of the justification of sinners by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, without regard to their works, which manifests, in all their extent, the guilt, the depravity, and the helplessness of man, in order to magnify grace in his pardon, might be charged with leading to licentiousness, Paul does not fail to state this objection; and solidly to refute it. This he does in the sixth and seventh chapters, in which he proves that, so far from setting aside the necessity of obedience to God, the doctrine of justification stands indissolubly connected with the very foundation of holiness and obedience. This foundation is union with the Redeemer, through that faith by which the believer is justified. On the contrary, the law operates, by its restraints, to stimulate and call into action the corruptions of the human heart, while at the same time it condemns all who are under its dominion. But, through their union with Christ, believers are delivered from the law; and, being under grace, which produces love, they are enabled to bring forth fruit acceptable to God. The law, however, is in itself holy, and just, and good. As such, it is employed by the Spirit of God to convince His people of sin, to teach them the value of the remedy provided in the Gospel, and to lead them to cleave unto the Lord, from a sense of the remaining corruption of their hearts. This corruption, as the Apostle shows, by a striking description of his own experience, will continue to exert its power in believers so long as they are in the body.

As a general conclusion from all that had gone before, the believer’s entire freedom from condemnation through union with his glorious Head, and his consequent sanctification, are both asserted in Ro 8, neither of which effects could have been accomplished by the law. The opposite results of death to the carnal mind, which actuated man in his natural state, and of life to the spiritual mind, which he receives in his renovation, are clearly pointed out; and as the love of God had been shown in Ro 5 to be so peculiarly transcendent, from the consideration that Christ died for men, not as friends and worthy objects, but as ‘without strength,’ ‘ungodly,’ ‘sinners,’ ‘enemies,’ so here the natural state of those on whom such unspeakable blessings are bestowed is described as ‘enmity against God.’ The effects of the inhabitation of the Holy Spirit in those who are regenerated are next disclosed, together with the glorious privileges which it secures. Amidst present sufferings, the highest consolations are presented to the children of God, while their original source and final issue are pointed out.

The contemplation of such ineffable blessings as he had just been describing, reminds the Apostle of the mournful state of the generality of his countrymen, who, though distinguished in the highest degree by their external privileges, still, as he himself had once done, rejected the Messiah.

And as the doctrine he had been inculcating seemed to set aside the promises which God had made to the Jewish people, and to take from them the Divine covenant under which they had been placed, Paul states that objection, and obviates it, in Ro 9, — showing that, on the one hand, the promises of spiritual blessings regarded only believers, who are the real Israelites, the true seed of Abraham; and, on the other, that faith itself being an effect of grace, God bestows it according to His sovereign will, so that the difference between believers and unbelievers is a consequence of His free election, of which the sole cause is His good pleasure, which He exercises both in regard to the Jews and the Gentiles.

Nothing, then, had frustrated the purpose of God; and His word had taken effect so far as He had appointed. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is here fully discussed; and that very objection which is daily made, ‘why doth He yet find fault,’ is stated, and for ever put down. Instead of national election, the great subject in this chapter is national rejection, and the personal election of a small remnant, without which the whole nation of Israel would have been destroyed; so devoid of reason is the objection usually made to the doctrine of election, that it is a cruel doctrine. In the end of Ro 9, the Apostle is led to the consideration of the fatal error of the great body of the Jews, who sought justification by works and not by faith. Mistaking the intent and the end of their law, they stumbled at this doctrine, which is the common stumbling-stone to unregenerate men.

In Ro 10, Paul resumes the same subject, and by new proofs, drawn from the Old Testament, shows that the righteousness of God, which the Jews, going about to establish their own righteousness for their justification, rejected, is received solely by faith in Jesus Christ, and that the Gospel regards the Gentiles as well as the Jews; and if rejected by the Jews, it is not surprising, since this had been predicted by the prophets.

The Jews thus excluded themselves from salvation, not discerning the true character of the Messiah of Israel as the end of the law, and the Author of righteousness, to every believer And yet, when they reflected on the declaration of Moses, that to obtain life by the law, the perfect obedience which it demands must in every case be yielded, they might have been convinced that on this ground they could not be justified; on the contrary, by the law they were universally condemned. The Apostle also exhibits the freeness of salvation through the Redeemer, and the certainty that all who accept it shall be saved. And since faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, the necessity of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles is inferred and asserted. The result corresponded with the prediction. The righteousness which is by faith was received by the Gentiles, although they had not been inquiring for it; while the Jews, who followed after the law of righteousness, had not attained to righteousness.

The mercies of God, as illustrated by the revelation of the righteousness which is received by faith, was the grand subject which had occupied Paul in the preceding part of this Epistle. He had announced at the beginning that he was ‘not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; because it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth — to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.’ This great truth he had undertaken to demonstrate, and he had done so with and the authority and force of inspiration, by exhibiting, on the one hand, the state and character of man; and, on the other, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.

In the prosecution of this subject, the Apostle had shown that the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; and, by arguments the most irresistible, and evidence that could not be gainsaid, he had brought in both Jews and Gentiles as guilty and condemned sinners, justly obnoxious to the vengeance of Heaven. Had the Almighty been pleased to abandon the apostate race of Adam, as He did the angels, to perish in their sins, none could have impeached His justice, or arraigned the rigor of the Divine procedure. But in the unsearchable riches of the mercies of God, He was pleased to bring near a righteousness, by which His violated law should be magnified, and a multitude whom no man can number rescued from destruction. This righteousness is revealed in the Gospel, — a righteousness worthy of the source from which it flows, — a righteousness which shall for ever abase the pride of the creature, and bring glory to God in the highest. The mercies of God are thus dispensed in such a way as to cut off all ground for boasting on the part of those who are justified. They are, on the contrary, calculated to exalt the Divine sovereignty, and to humble those in the dust who are saved before Him who worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will, and, without giving any account of His matters, either justifies or condemns the guilty according to His supreme pleasure.

In Ro 11, the Apostle finishes his argument, and in a manner concludes his subject. He here resumes the doctrine of the personal election of a remnant of Israel, of which he had spoken in Ro 9, and affirms, in the most express terms, that it is wholly of grace, which consequently excludes as its cause every idea of work, or of merit, on the part of man. He shows that the unbelief of the Jews has not been universal, God having still reserved some of them by His gratuitous election, while as a nation He has allowed them to fall; and that this fall has been appointed, in the wise providence of God, to open the way for the calling of the Gentiles. But in order that the Gentiles may not triumph over that outcast nation, Paul predicts that God will one day raise it up again, and recall the whole of it to communion with Himself. He vindicates God’s dealings both towards Jews and Gentiles, showing that, since all were guilty and justly condemned, God was acting on a plan by which, both in the choice and partial rejection, as well as in the final restoration of the Jews, the Divine glory would be manifested, while in the result, the sovereign mercies of Jehovah would shine forth conspicuous in all His dealings toward the children of men. A most consolatory view is accordingly given of the present tendency and final issue of the dispensations of God, in bringing in the fullness of the Gentiles, and in the general salvation of Israel. And thus, also, by the annunciation of the reception which the Gospel should meet with from the Jews, first in Rejecting it for a long period, and afterwards in embracing it, the doctrine of the sovereignty of Him who hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, and hardeneth whom He will, is further displayed and established. Lost in admiration of the majesty of God, as discovered in the Gospel, the Apostle prostrates himself before his Maker, while, in language of adoring wonder, he summons all whom he addresses to unite in ascribing glory to Him who is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the Almighty.

From this point, Paul turns to survey the practical results which naturally flow from the doctrine he had been illustrating. He was addressing those who were at Rome, ‘beloved of God, called saints;’ and by the remembrance of those mercies of which, whether Jews or Gentiles, they were the monuments, he beseeches them to present their bodies a living sacrifice to God, whose glory is the first and the last end of creation. In thus demanding the entire surrender or sacrifice of their bodies, he enforces the duty by designating it their reasonable service. Nothing can be more agreeable to the dictates of right reason, than to spend and be spent in the service of that  God, whose glory is transcendent, whose power is infinite, whose justice is inviolable, and whose tender mercies are over all His works. On this firm foundation the Apostle establishes the various duties to which men are called, as associated with each other in society, whether in the ordinary relations of life, or as subjects of civil government, or as members of the Church of Christ. The morality here inculcated is the purest and most exalted. It presents nothing of that incongruous medley which is discernible in the schemes of philosophy. It exhibits no traces of confusion or disorder. It places everything on its right basis, and in its proper place. It equally enjoins our duty towards God and our duty towards man; and in this it differs from all human systems, which uniformly exclude the former, or keep it in the background. It shows how doctrine and practice are inseparably connected — how the one is the motive, the source, or the principle — how the other is the effect; and how both are so united, that such as is the first, so will be the last. According to our views of the character of God, so will be our conduct. The corruption of morals, which degraded and destroyed the heathen world, was the natural result of what infidels have designated ‘their elegant mythology.’

The abominable character of the heathen gods and goddesses were at once the transcript and the provocatives of the abominations of their worshippers. But wherever the true God has been known, wherever the character of Jehovah has been proclaimed, there a new standard of morals has been erected; and even those by whom His salvation is rejected are induced to counterfeit the virtues to which they do not attain. True Christianity and sound morals are indissolubly linked together; and just in proportion as men are estranged from the knowledge and service of God, so shall we find their actions stained with the corruptions of sin.

Where in all the boasted moral systems of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Epictetus, Seneca, or the rest of the Greek and Roman philosophers, shall be found anything comparable to the purity and beauty of the virtues enjoined by Paul in the closing chapters of this Epistle? Even modern writers on Ethics, when departing from the only pure standard of virtue, discover the grossest ignorance and inconsistency.

But Paul, writing without any of the aids of human wisdom, draws his precepts from the fountain of heavenly truth, and inculcates on the disciples of Jesus a code of duties, which, if habitually practiced by mankind, would change the world from what it is a scene of strife, jealousy, and division — and make it what it was before the entrance of sin, a paradise fit for the Lord to visit, and for man to dwell in.

  Ro 1:1-15 

  

THIS chapter consists of three parts. In the first fifteen verses, which form 

a general preface to the whole Epistle, Paul, after announcing his office and 

commission, declares the majesty and power of Him by whom he was 

appointed, who is at once the Author and Subject of the Gospel. He then 

characterizes those to whom he writes, and states his longing desire to 

visit them, for the purpose of confirming their faith. The second part of 

the chapter, comprising only Ro 1:16-17, embraces the 

substance of the grand truths which were about to be discussed. In the 

remainder of the chapter, the Apostle, at once entering on the doctrine 

thus briefly but strikingly asserted, shows that the Gentiles were 

immersed in corruption and guilt and consequently subjected to 

condemnation. 

  

Ro 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.

  

Conformably to the practice of antiquity, Paul commences his Epistle by

prefixing his name, title, and designation. He had, as was usual among his

countrymen, two names: by the first, as a Jew, he was known in his own

land; by the second, among the Gentiles. Formerly his name was SAUL,

but after the occurrence related of him, Ac 13:9, he was called PAUL.

Paul was of unmingled Jewish descent, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, born at

Tarsus in Cilicia, but educated at Jerusalem; a Pharisee by profession, and

distinguished among the disciples of Gamaliel, one of the most celebrated

teachers of his age and nation. Before his conversion, he was an ardent and

bigoted supporter of the traditions of his fathers, violently opposed to the

humbling doctrines of Christianity, and a cruel persecutor of the Church.

From the period of his miraculous conversion — from the hour when

Jesus met him on the road to Damascus — down to the moment when he

sealed his testimony with his blood, his eventful life was devoted to the

promulgation of the faith which once he destroyed. Throughout the whole

of his long and arduous course, he experienced a continual alternation of

trials and graces, of afflictions and benedictions; always borne down by

the hand of man, always sustained by the hand of God. The multiplied

persecutions he endured, furnish a remarkable example of that just

retribution which even believers seldom fail to experience in this world.

When scourged in the synagogues of the Jews — when persecuted from

city to city, or suffering from cold and hunger in the dungeons of Nero —

with what feelings must he have remembered the time when, ‘breathing out

threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord,’ he ‘banished

them oft in every synagogue,’ and, ‘being exceedingly mad against them,

persecuted them even unto strange cities;’ or, when he was stoned at

Lystra, and cast out of the city as dead, how must he have reflected on the

prominent part he bore in the stoning of Stephen?

  

A servant of Jesus Paul, who once verily thought that he ought to do

many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, now subscribes

himself His servant — literally, slave. This is an expression both of

humility and of dignity — of humility, to signify that he was not his own,

but belonged to Jesus Christ; of dignity, to show that he was accounted

worthy to be His minister, as Moses and Joshua are called the servants of

God. It the first sense, it is an appellation common to believers, all of

whom are the slaves, or exclusive property of Jesus Christ, who has

purchased them for Himself by the right of redemption, and retains them

by the power of His word and Holy Spirit. In the second view, it denotes

that Jesus Christ had honored Paul by employing him in His Church, and

making use of his services in extending the interests of His kingdom. He

assumes this title to distinguish himself from the ministers or servants of

men, and in order to command respect for his instructions, since he writes

in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ.

Called to be an Apostle, or a called Apostle. — Paul adds this second title

to explain more particularly the first, and to show the rank to which he

had been raised, and the employment with which he was entrusted. He

was called to it by Jesus Christ Himself; for no man could bestow the

office of an Apostle, or receive it from the hand of man, like the other

offices in the church. Called, too, not merely externally as Judas, but

internally and efficaciously; and called with a vocation which conferred on

him all the qualities necessary to discharge the duties of the office he was

appointed to; for the Divine calling is in this respect different from that

which is merely human, inasmuch as the latter supposes those qualities to

exist in the person called, while the former actually confers them. The

state of Paul before his calling, and that in which his calling placed him,

were directly opposite to each other.

The office to which Paul was called was that of an Apostle, which signifies

one that is sent by another. The word in the original is sometimes

translated messenger, but is specially appropriated in Scripture to those

who were sent forth by Jesus Christ to preach His Gospel to the ends of

the earth; and this appellation was given to the twelve by Himself,  

Lu 6:13, and has, as to them, a more specific signification than that of being

sent, or being messengers. This office was the highest in the church,

distinct from all others, in which, both from its nature and authority, the

manner of its appointment, and the qualifications necessary for its

discharge, those on whom it was conferred could have no successors. The

whole system of the man of sin is built on the false assumption that he

occupies the place of one of the Apostles. On this ground he usurps a

claim to infallibility, as well as the power of working miracles, and in so

far he is more consistent than others who, classing themselves with those

first ministers of the word, advance no such pretensions.

As the Apostles were appointed to be the witnesses of the Lord, it was

indispensably necessary that they should have seen Him after His

resurrection. The keys of the kingdom of heaven were committed to them

exclusively. They were to promulgate its laws, which bind in heaven and

on earth, proclaiming that word by which all men shall be judged at the last

day. When Jesus Christ said to them, ‘As My Father hath sent Me, even

so send I you,’ He pledged Himself for the truth of their doctrine; just as

when the voice from the excellent glory proclaimed, ‘This is My beloved

Son, hear Him,’ the Father set His seal to whatever His Son taught. In

preaching the Divine word, though not in their personal conduct, the

Apostles were fully inspired; and the Holy Scriptures, as indicted or

sanctioned by them, are not the words of man, but the words of the Holy

Ghost. The most awful anathema is accordingly annexed to the prohibition

either to add to or take from the sacred record. Thus the Lord, who had

appointed the Apostles not to a ministry limited or attached to a

particular flock, but to one which extended generally through all places, to

preach the Gospel in all the world, and to regulate the churches, endowed

them with an infallible Spirit which led them into all truth. They were also

invested with the gift of working miracles on every necessary occasion,

and of exclusively communicating that gift to others by the laying on of

their hands. From all this it followed that they were perfectly qualified to

preach the everlasting Gospel, and possessed full authority in the churches

to deliver to them those immutable and permanent laws to which

thenceforth to the end of time they were to be subject. The names of the

twelve Apostles of the Lamb are accordingly inscribed in the twelve

foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem; and all His people are built

upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself

being the chief cornerstone.

Every qualification of an Apostle centered in Paul, as he shows in various

places. He had seen the Lord after His resurrection, 1Co 9:1.

He had received his commission directly from Jesus Christ and God the

Father, Ga 1:1. He possessed the signs of an Apostle,  2Co 12:12. He had received the knowledge of the Gospel, not through any man, or by any external means, but by the, revelation of Jesus

Christ, Ga 1:11-12; and although he was as one born out of due

time, yet, by the grace vouchsafed to him, he labored more abundantly

than all the rest. When he here designates himself a called Apostle, he

seems to refer to the insinuations of his enemies, who, from his not having

been appointed during the ministry of our Lord, considered him as inferior

to the other Apostles. The object of nearly the whole of the Second

Epistle to the Corinthians is to establish his apostolic authority; in the

third chapter especially, he exhibits the superiority of the ministration

committed to the Apostles, over that entrusted to Moses. Thus the

designation of servant, the first of the titles here assumed, denotes his

general character; the second, of Apostle, his particular office; and the term

Apostle being placed at the beginning of this Epistle, impresses the stamp

of Divine authority on all that it contains.

Separated unto the Gospel of God This may regard either God’s eternal

purpose concerning Paul, or His pre-ordination of him to be a preacher of

the Gospel, to which he was separated from his mother’s womb, as it was

said to Jer 1:5, ‘Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and

before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified these and I ordained

thee a prophet unto the nations;’ or rather it refers to the time when God

revealed His Son in him, that he might preach Him along the heathen,

Ga 1:16. The term separated, here used, appears to allude to his

having been a Pharisee before his conversion, which signifies one separated

or set apart. Now, however, he was separated in a far different manner; for

then it was by human pride, now it was by Divine grace. Formerly he was

set apart to uphold the inventions and traditions of men, but now to

preach the Gospel of God.

The Gospel of God to which Paul was separated, signifies the glad tidings

of salvation which God has proclaimed. It is the supernatural revelation

which He has given, distinguished from the revelation of the works of

nature. It denotes that revelation of mercy and salvation, which excels in

glory, as distinguished from the law, which was the revelation of

condemnation. It is the Gospel of God, inasmuch as God is its author, its

interpreter, its subject: its author, as He has purposed it in His eternal

decrees; its interpreter, as He Himself hath — declared it to men; its

subject, because in the Gospel His sovereign perfections and purposes

towards men are manifested. For the same reasons it is also called the

Gospel of the grace of God, the Gospel of peace, the Gospel of the

kingdom, the Gospel of salvation, the everlasting Gospel, the glorious

Gospel of the blessed God. This Gospel is the glad tidings from God of

the accomplishment of the promise of salvation that had been made to

Adam. That promise had been typically represented by the institution of

sacrifice, and transmitted by oral tradition. It had been solemnly

proclaimed by Enoch and by Noah before the flood; it had been more

particularly announced to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; by Moses, it

was exhibited in those typical representations contained in the law, which

had a shadow of good things to come. Its fulfillment was the spirit and

object of the whole prophetic testimony, in the predictions concerning a

new covenant, and in all that was foretold respecting the advent of the

Messiah.

EXPOSITION OF THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS

BY ROBERT HALDANE

FOREWORD

It is with particular pleasure that I recommend this commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

I do so for many reasons.

First and foremost is the fact that I have derived such profit and pleasure from it myself. I always find it very difficult to decide as to which is the better commentary on this Epistle, whether that of Charles Hogde or this by Haldane. While Hodge excels in accurate scholarship, there is greater warmth of spirit and more practical application in Haldane. In any case, both stand supreme as commentaries on this mighty Epistle.

However, that which gives an unusual and particularly endearing value to this commentary is the history that lies behind it. In 1816 Robert Haldane, being about fifty years of age, went to Switzerland and to Geneva. There, to all outward appearances as if by accident, he came into contact with a number of students who were studying for the ministry. They were all blind to spiritual truth but felt much attracted to Haldane and to what he said. He arranged, therefore, that they should come regularly twice a week to the rooms where he was staying and there he took them through and expounded to them Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. One by one they were converted, and their conversion led to a true Revival of religion, not only in Switzerland, but also in France. They included such men as Merle D’Aubigne the writer of the classic “History of the Reformation,” Frederic Monod who became the chief founder of the Free Churches in France, Bonifas who became a theologian of great ability, Louis Gaussen the author of “Theopneustia,” a book on the inspiration of the Scriptures and Cesar Malan. There were also others who were greatly used of God in the revival. It was at the request of such men that Robert Haldane decided to put into print what he had been telling them. Hence this volume. And one cannot read it without being conscious of the preacher as well as the expositor.

What a distinguished French minister Dr. Reuben Saillens says of what became known as “Haldane’s Revival” can be applied with equal truth to this commentary: “The three main characteristics of Haldane’s Revival, as it has sometimes been called, were these: (1) it gave a prominent emphasis to the necessity of a personal knowledge and experience of grace; (2) it maintained the absolute authority and Divine inspiration of the Bible; (3) was a return to Calvinistic doctrine against Pelagianism and Arminianism. Haldane was an orthodox of the first water, but his orthodoxy was blended with love and life.”

God grant that it may produce that same “love and life” in all who read it.

D. M.LLOYD-JONES March 1958

PREFACE

ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God. Every page of the sacred volume is stamped with the impress of Deity, and contains an inexhaustible treasure of wisdom, and knowledge, and consolation. Some portions of the word of God, like some parts of the material creation, may be more important than others. But all have their proper place, all proclaim the character of their glorious Author, and all ought to be earnestly and reverentially studied. Whatever be their subject, whether it relates to the history of individuals or of nations, whether it contains the words of precept or exhortation, or whether it teaches by example, all is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. But while every part of the word of God demands the most serious attention it is not to be doubted that certain portions of the sacred volume call for more frequent and deeper meditation. In the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms contains a summary of all Scripture, and an abridgment of its most important instructions and sweetest consolations. In the New Testament, the Epistle to the Romans is entitled to peculiar regard. It is the part of Scripture which contains a detailed and systematic exhibition of the doctrines of Christianity. The great truths which are embodied and inculcated in every other part of the Bible, are here brought together in a condensed and comprehensive form. More especially, the glorious doctrine of justification by faith is clearly unfounded and exhibited in the strongest light.

The Epistle to the Romans has always attracted the peculiar notice of those whose study has been directed to the interpretation of Scripture. To the this portion of the Divine record, all who look for salvation by grace have constantly appealed, and here they have a rich mine of evidence, alike solid and inexhaustible No considerable difference of interpretation has ever been given of its contents by those who have renounced their own wisdom, and determined to follow implicitly the obvious meaning of the word of God. This Epistle has been equally an object of attention to those who admit the authority of Scripture, but follow their own wisdom in forming their system of religious doctrine. Salvation by grace and salvation by works are so incompatible with each other, that it might well be supposed no attempt would ever be made to bring them into harmony.

Still the attempt has been made. Human wisdom cannot receive the doctrine of the Epistle to the Romans, and men professing Christianity cannot deny it to be a part of Scripture. What, then, is to be done? A compromise is proclaimed between the wisdom of man and the revelation of God. All the ingenuity of Mr. Locke, one of the most acute and subtle metaphysicians that ever appeared, has been exerted to bring the doctrine of Paul into accordance with human science. Like him, many others have labored to give a view of this Epistle that may reconcile human merit with divine grace.

Nothing is more manifest than the direct opposition between the doctrine of inspiration, as unfolded in the Epistle to the Romans, with respect to the state and prospects of mankind, and the doctrine of this world’s philosophy. Paul contemplates all men in their natural state as ruined by sin, and utterly unable to restore themselves to the Divine favor.

Philosophers, on the contrary, survey the aspect of society with real or affected complacency. They perceive, indeed, that imperfection and suffering prevail to a considerable extent; but they discover a vast preponderance of happiness and virtue. They cannot deny that man is of a mixed character; but this is necessary, in order that his virtue may be his own, and that, in passing onwards to the summit of moral excellence, his strength of principle may be more illustriously displayed, and his happiness promoted by his progress in virtue, as well as by his advancement in knowledge . Nor is this remarkable difference altogether confined to philosophy. Even many professors and expounders of Christianity cannot entirely accord with the Apostle Paul in his representations of human nature. Man, it seems to them, is not so completely lost but that he may do something to regain the Divine favor; and if a sacrifice were necessary for the expiation of sin, its blessing must be equally bestowed on all mankind.

The doctrine of justification, in particular, so far transcends the powers of our discovery, that men are ever attempting to set it aside, or to mold it into accordance with their own preconceived notions. How wonderful is the contrast between the justification of which this Apostle treats, and the justification which critical ingenuity has often extorted from his Epistles!

While Paul speaks of the believer as possessing a righteousness perfectly commensurate to all the demands of the law, and standing at the bar of God spotless and blameless, human wisdom has contrived to exhibit his doctrine as representing salvation to be the result of a happy combination of mercy and merit.

The doctrine of salvation by faith without works has ever appeared to the wise of this world not only as a scheme insufficient to secure the interests of morality, but as one which disparages the Divine authority. Yet its good effects are fully demonstrated in every age; and while nothing but the doctrine of salvation by grace has ever produced good works, this doctrine has never failed of its designed object. In all the ways of God there is a characteristic wisdom, which stamps them with the impress of divinity.

There is here a harmony and consistency in things the most different in appearance; while the intended result is invariably produced, although in a way which to man would appear most unlikely to secure success.

The mind of every man is by nature disaffected to the doctrine of this Epistle; but it is only in proportion to the audacity of his unbelief that any one will directly avow his opposition. While some, by the wildest suppositions, will boldly set aside whatever it declares that opposes their own preconceived opinions, others will receive its statements only with the reserve of certain necessary modifications. Thus, in the deviations from truth in the exposition of its doctrines, we discover various shades of the same unhallowed disregard for the Divine testimony.

The spirit of speculation and of novelty which is now abroad, loudly calls upon Christians to give earnest heed to the truths inculcated in the Epistle to the Romans. There is hardly any doctrine which has not been of late years exposed to the corruptions and perversions of men who profess to be believers of Divine revelation. Many, altogether destitute of the Spirit of God and the semblance of true religion, have nevertheless chosen the word of God and its solemn and awfully momentous truths as the arena upon which to exercise their learning and display their ingenuity. In consequence of the Scriptures being written in the dead languages, there is doubtless scope for the diligent employment of critical research. But if it were inquired how much additional light has been thrown upon the sacred volume by the refinements of modern critics, it would be found to bear a very small proportion to the evil influence of unsanctified learning applied to the holy doctrines of revelation. It has become common, even among Christians to speak of the critical interpretation of Scripture as requiring little or nothing more than mere scholarship; and many seem to suppose that the office of a critical and that of a doctrinal interpreter are so widely different, that a man may be a safe and useful critic who has no relish for the grand truths of the Bible. There cannot be a more lamentable delusion, or one more calculated to desecrate the character and obscure the majesty of the word of God. To suppose that a man may rightly interpret the Scriptures, while he is ignorant of the truths of the Gospel, or disaffected to some of its grand fundamental doctrines, — to imagine that this can be to him a useful or even an innocent occupations — is to regard these Scriptures as the production of ordinary men, treating of subjects of ordinary importance, instead of containing, as they do, the Message of the Most High God, revealing life or death to every soul to whom they come.

If the Scriptures have not testified in vain that the carnal mind is enmity against God; if we are bound to believe that there is no middle state between the Christian and the unbeliever; can we wonder at the manner in which they have been perverted, not only by the ignorance, but by the inveterate prejudices, of men from whom the Gospel is hid? Is it reasonable — is it agreeable to the dictates of common sense — to believe that the critical interpretations of such men are not tinged with their own darkened and hostile views of the Divine character and the Divine revelation? And yet such is the opinion entertained of the labors of some of the most unenlightened commentators, that their works have obtained a celebrity altogether unaccountable on any principle of Christian wisdom.

Christians ought to be particularly on their guard against tampering in any degree with the word of God. We should never forget that, when we are explaining any expression of Scripture, we are treating of what are the very words of the Holy Ghost, as much as if they had been spoken to us by a voice from heaven. The profane rashness of many critics is much emboldened by the circumstance that men have been employed as the instruments of the Almighty in communicating His revelation. A sort of modified inspiration only is granted to the Scriptures, and they are often treated as the words merely of those who were employed as the penmen.

When God is thus kept out of sight, little ceremony is used with the words of the Apostles. That profound reverence and awe with which the Scriptures ought to be read and handled, are in many instances too little exemplified. The poor man’s Bible is the word of God, in which he has no suspicion that there is anything but perfection. The Bible of the profoundly erudite scholar is often a book that is not so necessary to instruct him, as one that needs his hand for alteration, or amendment, or confirmation. Learning may be usefully employed; but if learning ever forgets that it must sit at the feet of Jesus, it will be a curse instead of a blessing. It will raise clouds and darkness, instead of communicating light to the world.

The evil of studying the Scriptures, and commenting upon them with as little reverence as a scholar might comment upon the plays of Aristophanes or Terence, has extended itself much farther than might be supposed. This is the spirit in which the Gerrean Neologians have written; and indeed it is to be feared that, as the Neologian form of infidelity originated from this profane method of criticizing the Scriptures, so the same cause may produce the same effect in this country. Certain it is that works have been republished or translated here, which are very little calculated to uphold the ancient faith of the Church of Christ, or to advance the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.

From present appearances, there is every reason to fear that Britain will be inundated with German Neology. The tide has strongly set in, and unless the Christian public be upon their guard, the whole country will be brought under its influence. It is a solemn thing to be instrumental in ushering into more extended notoriety publications that have a tendency to lower the character of the Holy Scriptures, to introduce doubt and confusion into the minds of those who are weak in the faith, and to embolden others who seek an apology for casting away the fetters of education and authority, and desire to launch out into the ocean of wild and dangerous speculation. While some appearances in Germany of a return to the Scripture doctrine of salvation by Jesus Christ should be gladly hailed by every Christian, yet it must be admitted that those who in that country seem to have made the greatest advances in the knowledge of the Gospel, are still far from being entitled to be pointed out as guides to the Christians of Great Britain. Their modifications of Divine truth are manifestly under the influence of a criticism too nearly allied to Neology.

There is great danger that in the admiration of German criticism a tincture may be received from continental errors. It would be far preferable if learned Christians at home would pursue truth in a diligent examination of its own sources, rather than spend their time in retailing the criticisms of German scholars. ‘Their criticisms,’ it is observed by Dr. Carson, ‘are arbitrary, forced, and in the highest degree fantastical. Their learning is boundless, yet their criticism is mere trash. The vast extent of their literary acquirements has overawed British theologians, and given an importance to arguments that are self-evidently false.’

In these days of boasted liberality, it may appear captious to oppose with zeal the errors of men who have acquired a name in the Christian world.

The mantle of charity, it will be said, ought to be thrown over mistakes that have resulted from a free and impartial investigation of truth, and if not wholly overlooked, they should be noticed with a slight expression of disapprobation. Such, however, was not the conduct of the Apostle Paul.

He spared neither churches nor individual when the doctrines they maintained turned to the subversion of the Gospel and the zeal with which he resisted their errors was not inferior to that with which he encountered the open enemies of Christianity. He affirms that the doctrine introduced into the Galatian churches is another Gospel, and twice pronounces a curse against all by whom it was promulgated. Instead of complimenting the authors of this corruption of the Gospel as only abusing in a slight degree the liberty of free examination, he decides that they should be cut off as troublers of the churches. Let not Christians be more courteous in expressing their views of the guilt and danger of corrupting the Gospel, than faithful and compassionate to the people of Christ who may be injured by false doctrine. It is highly sinful to bandy compliments at the expense of truth.

The awful responsibility of being accessory to the propagation of error is strongly expressed by the Apostle John. ‘If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed; for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds.’ If the imputation of Adam’s sin and of Christ’s righteousness be doctrines contained in the word of God; commentaries that labor to expel them from that word must be grossly pestiferous books, which no Christian ought to recommend, but which, on the contrary, to the utmost of his power, it is his duty to oppose.

A very dangerous misrepresentation of some of the great doctrines of the Epistle to the Romans has lately come before the public, in a commentary on that Epistle from the pen of Professor Moses Stuart of America. As that work has obtained an extensive circulation in this country, — as it has been strongly recommended, and is likely to produce a considerable effect, — it has appeared proper to make frequent references to his glaring perversions of its important contents. On the same principle, various remarks are introduced on the well-known heterodox commentary of Dr. Macknight; I have also alluded occasionally to the heretical sentiments contained in that of Professor Tholuck, lately published.

In the following exposition, I have availed myself of all the assistance I could obtain, from whatever quarter. Especially I have made use of everything that appeared to be most valuable in the commentary of Claude, which terminates at the beginning of the twenty-first verse of the third chapter. I have also had the advantage of the assistance of Dr. Carson, whose profound knowledge of the original language and well-known critical discernment peculiarly qualify him for rendering effectual aid in such a work. As it is my object to make this exposition as useful as possible to all descriptions of readers, I have not always confined myself simply to an explanation of the text, but have occasionally extended, at some length, remarks on such subjects as seemed to demand particular attention, either on account of their own importance, or of mistaken opinions entertained concerning them. As to those which required a fuller discussion than could be conveniently introduced, I have referred to my work on the Evidence and Authority of Divine Revelation.

By studying the Epistle to the Romans, an exact and comprehensive knowledge of the distinguishing doctrines of grace, in their various bearings and connections, may, by the blessing of God, be obtained. Here they appear in all their native force and clearness, unalloyed with the wisdom of man. The human mind is ever prone to soften the strong features of Divine truth, and to bring them more into accordance with its own wishes and preconceived notions. Those lowering and debasing modifications of the doctrines of Scripture, by which, in some popular works, it is endeavored to reconcile error with orthodoxy, are imposing only in theory, and may be easily detected by a close and unprejudiced examination of the language of this Epistle.

INTRODUCTION

THE Epistle to the Romans was written by the Apostle Paul from Corinth, the capital of Achaia, after his second journey to that celebrated city for the purpose of collecting the pecuniary aid destined for the church at Jerusalem. This appears from the fifteenth chapter, where he says that he was going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. ‘For,’ he adds, ‘it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.’ The Epistle appears to have been carried to Rome by Phebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea, which was the port of Corinth; and we learn from the nineteenth and twentieth chapters of the Acts, and from different parts of the two Epistles to the Corinthians, that, after having remained about three years at Ephesus, Paul purposed to pass through Macedonia and Achaia, to receive the contributions of the Corinthians, and afterwards proceed to Jerusalem.

As to the period when this Epistle was written, it is certain that it was at a time previous to Paul’s arrival at Rome. On this account, he begins by declaring to the disciples there that he had a great desire to see them, and to preach to them the Gospel; that he had often purposed this, but had hitherto always been prevented. This statement he repeats in the fifteenth chapter. It appears to be earlier in date than the Epistles to the Ephesians and Philippians, and those to the Hebrews and Philemon, and the Second to Timothy; for all of these were written during the Apostle’s first or second imprisonment at Rome, but later than the two Epistles to the Corinthians. It is generally supposed that it was written in the year 57 of the Christian era, about twenty-four years after the resurrection of our Lord.

Notwithstanding that this Epistle was written after some of the rest, it has been placed first in order among them on account of its excellence, and the abundance and sublimity of its contents. It contains, indeed, an abridgment of all that is taught in the Christian religion It treats of the revelation of God in the works of nature and in the heart of man, and exhibits the necessity and the strictness of the last judgment. It teaches the Doctrine of the fall, and corruption of the whole human race, of which it discovers the source and it’s greatness. It points out the true and right use of the law, and why God gave it to the Israelites; and also shows the variety of the temporal advantages over other men which the law conferred on them, and which they so criminally abused. It treats of the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ, of justification, of sanctification, of free will and grace, of salvation and condemnation, of election and of reprobation, of the perseverance and assurance of the salvation believers in the midst of their severest temptations, of the necessity of inflictions, and of the admirable consolations under them — of the calling of the Gentiles, of the rejection of the Jews and of their final restoration to the communion of God. Paul afterwards lays down the principal rules of Christian morality, containing all that we owe God, to ourselves, our neighbors, and to our brethren in Christ, and declares the manner in which we should act in our particular employments; uniformly accompanying his precepts with just and reasonable motives to enforce their practice. The form, too, of this Epistle is not less admirable than its matter. Its reasoning is powerful and conclusive; the style condensed, lively, and energetic; the arrangement orderly and clear, strikingly exhibiting the leading doctrines as the main branches from which depend all the graces and virtues of the Christian life.

The whole is pervaded by a strain of the most exalted piety, true holiness, ardent zeal, and fervent charity.

This Epistle, like the greater part of those written by Paul, is divided into two general parts, — the first of which contains the doctrine, and extends to the beginning of the twelfth chapter; and the second, which relates to practice, goes on to the conclusion. The first is to instruct the spirit, and the other to direct the heart; the one teaches what we are to believe, the other what we are to practice. In the first part he discusses chiefly the two great questions which at the beginning of the Gospel were agitated between the Jews and the Christians, namely, that of justification before God, and that of the calling of the Gentiles. For as, on the one hand, the Gospel held forth a method of justification very different from that of the law, the Jews could not relish a doctrine which appeared to them novel, and was contrary to their prejudices; and as, on the other hand, they found themselves in possession of the covenant of God, to the exclusion of other nations, they could not endure that the Apostles should call the Gentiles to the knowledge of the true God, and to the hope of His salvation, nor that it should be supposed that the Jews had lost their exclusive pre-eminence over the nations. The principal object, then, of the Apostle was to combat these two prejudices. He directs his attention to the former in the first nine chapters, and treats of the other in the tenth and eleventh.

As to what regards the second portion of the Epistle, Paul first enjoins general precepts for the conduct of believers, afterwards in regard to civil life, and finally with regard to church communion.

In the first five chapters, the great doctrine of justification by faith, of which they exclusively treat, is more fully discussed than in any other part of Scripture. The design of the Apostle is to establish two things: the one is, that there being only two ways of justification before God, namely, that of works, which the law proposes, and that of grace by Jesus Christ, which the Gospel reveals, — the first is entirely shut against men, and, in order to their being saved, there remains only the last. The other thing that he designs to establish is, that justification by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, respects indifferently all men, both Jews and Gentiles, and that it abolishes the distinction which the law had made between them. To arrive at this, he first proves that the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, are subject if the judgment of God; but that, being all sinners and guilty, neither the one nor the other can escape condemnation by their works. He humbles them both. He sets before the Gentiles the blind ignorance and unrighteousness both of themselves and of their philosophers, of whom they boasted; and he teaches humility to the Jews, by showing that they were chargeable with similar vices. He undermines in both the pride of self-merit, and teaches all to build their hopes on Jesus Christ alone; proving that their salvation can neither emanate from their philosophy nor from their law, but from the grace of Christ Jesus.

In the first chapter, the Apostle commences by directing our attention to the person of the Son of God in His incarnation in time, and His Divine nature from eternity, as the great subject of that Gospel which he was commissioned to proclaim. After a most striking introduction, every way calculated to arrest the attention and conciliate the affection of those whom he addressed, he briefly announces the grand truth, which he intends afterwards to establish, that ‘the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,’ because in it is revealed ‘THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD.’ Unless such a righteousness had been provided, all men must have suffered the punishment due to sin, seeing God hath denounced His high displeasure against all ‘ ungodliness and unrighteousness .’ These are the great truths which the Apostle immediately proceeds to unfold. And as they stand connected with every part of that salvation which God has prepared, he is led to exhibit a most animating and consolatory view of the whole plan of mercy, which proclaims ‘glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men’.

The first point which the Apostle establishes, is the ruined condition of men, who, being entirely divested of righteousness, are by nature all under sin. The charge of ‘ungodliness,’ and of consequent ‘unrighteousness,’ he proves first against the Gentiles. They had departed from the worship of God, although in the works of the visible creation they had sufficient notification of His power and Godhead. In their conduct they had violated the law written in their hearts, and had sinned in opposition to what they knew to be right, and to the testimony of their conscience in its favor. All of them, therefore, laws under the sentence of condemnation, which will be pronounced upon the workers of iniquity in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men. In the second chapter, a similar charge of transgression and guilt is established against the Jews, not withstanding the superior advantage of a written revelation with which they had been favored.

Having proved in the first two chapters, by an appeal to undeniable facts, that the Gentiles and the Jews were both guilty before God, in the third chapter, after obviating some objections regarding the Jews, Paul takes both Jews and Gentiles together, and exhibits a fearful picture, drawn from the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures, of the universal guilt and depravity of all mankind, showing that ‘there is none righteous, no, not one,’ and that all are depraved, wicked, and alienated from God. He thus establishes it as an undeniable truth, that every man in his natural state lies under the just condemnation of God, as a rebel against Him, in all the three ways in which He had been pleased to reveal Himself, whether by the works of creation, the work of the law written on the heart, or by the revelation of grace. From these premises he then draws the obvious and inevitable conclusion, that by obedience to law no man living shall be justified; that so far from justifying, the law proves every one to be guilty and under condemnation. The way is thus prepared for the grand display of the grace and mercy of God announced in the Gospel, by which men are saved consistently with the honor of the law. What the law could not do, not from any deficiency in itself, but owing to the depravity of man, God has fully accomplished. Man has no righteousness of his own which he can plead, but God has provided a righteousness for him. This righteousness, infinitely superior to that which he originally possessed, is provided solely by grace, and received solely by faith. It is placed to the account of the believer for his justification, without the smallest respect either to his previous or subsequent obedience. Yet so far from being contrary to the justice of God, this method of justification, ‘freely by His grace,’ strikingly illustrates His justice, and vindicates all His dealings to men. So far from making the law void, it establishes it in all its honor and authority. This way of salvation equally applies to all, both Jews and Gentiles — men of every nation and every character; ‘there is no difference,’ for all, without exception, are sinners.

The Apostle, in the fourth chapter, dwells on the faith through which the righteousness of God is received, and, in obviating certain objections, further confirms and illustrates his doctrine, by showing that Abraham himself, the progenitor of the Jews, was justified not by works but by faith, and that in this way he was the father of all believers, the pattern and the type of the justification of both Jews and Gentiles. And in order to complete the view of the great subject of his discussion, Paul considers, in the fifth chapter, two principal effects of justification by Jesus Christ, namely, peace with God and assurance of salvation, not withstanding the troubles and afflictions to which believers are exposed. And because Jesus Christ is the Author of this Divine reconciliation, he compares Him with Adam, who was the source of condemnation, concluding with a striking account of the entrance of sin and of righteousness, both of which he had been exhibiting. He next shows the reason why, between Adam and Jesus Christ, God caused the law of Moses to intervene, by means of which the extent of the evil of sin, and the efficiency of the remedy brought in by righteousness, were both fully exhibited, to the glory of the grace of God.

These five chapters disclose a consistent scheme in the Divine conduct, and exhibit a plan of reconciling sinners to God, that never could have been discovered by the human understanding. It is the perfection of wisdom, yet in all its features it is opposed to the wisdom of this world. f1

As the doctrine of the justification of sinners by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, without regard to their works, which manifests, in all their extent, the guilt, the depravity, and the helplessness of man, in order to magnify grace in his pardon, might be charged with leading to licentiousness, Paul does not fail to state this objection; and solidly to refute it. This he does in the sixth and seventh chapters, in which he proves that, so far from setting aside the necessity of obedience to God, the doctrine of justification stands indissolubly connected with the very foundation of holiness and obedience. This foundation is union with the Redeemer, through that faith by which the believer is justified. On the contrary, the law operates, by its restraints, to stimulate and call into action the corruptions of the human heart, while at the same time it condemns all who are under its dominion. But, through their union with Christ, believers are delivered from the law; and, being under grace, which produces love, they are enabled to bring forth fruit acceptable to God. The law, however, is in itself holy, and just, and good. As such, it is employed by the Spirit of God to convince His people of sin, to teach them the value of the remedy provided in the Gospel, and to lead them to cleave unto the Lord, from a sense of the remaining corruption of their hearts. This corruption, as the Apostle shows, by a striking description of his own experience, will continue to exert its power in believers so long as they are in the body.

As a general conclusion from all that had gone before, the believer’s entire freedom from condemnation through union with his glorious Head, and his consequent sanctification, are both asserted in the eighth chapter, neither of which effects could have been accomplished by the law. The opposite results of death to the carnal mind, which actuated man in his natural state, and of life to the spiritual mind, which he receives in his renovation, are clearly pointed out; and as the love of God had been shown in the fifth chapter to be so peculiarly transcendent, from the consideration that Christ died for men, not as friends and worthy objects, but as ‘without strength,’ ‘ungodly,’ ‘sinners,’ ‘enemies,’ so here the natural state of those on whom such unspeakable blessings are bestowed is described as ‘enmity against God.’ The effects of the inhabitation of the Holy Spirit in those who are regenerated are next disclosed, together with the glorious privileges which it secures. Amidst present sufferings, the highest consolations are presented to the children of God, while their original source and final issue are pointed out.

The contemplation of such ineffable blessings as he had just been describing, reminds the Apostle of the mournful state of the generality of his countrymen, who, though distinguished in the highest degree by their external privileges, still, as he himself had once done, rejected the Messiah.

And as the doctrine he had been inculcating seemed to set aside the promises which God had made to the Jewish people, and to take from them the Divine covenant under which they had been placed, Paul states that objection, and obviates it, in the ninth chapter, — showing that, on the one hand, the promises of spiritual blessings regarded only believers, who are the real Israelites, the true seed of Abraham; and, on the other, that faith itself being an effect of grace, God bestows it according to His sovereign will, so that the difference between believers and unbelievers is a consequence of His free election, of which the sole cause is His good pleasure, which He exercises both in regard to the Jews and the Gentiles.

Nothing, then, had frustrated the purpose of God; and His word had taken effect so far as He had appointed. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is here fully discussed; and that very objection which is daily made, ‘why doth He yet find fault,’ is stated, and for ever put down. Instead of national election, the great subject in this chapter is national rejection, and the personal election of a small remnant, without which the whole nation of Israel would have been destroyed; so devoid of reason is the objection usually made to the doctrine of election, that it is a cruel doctrine. In the end of the ninth chapter, the Apostle is led to the consideration of the fatal error of the great body of the Jews, who sought justification by works and not by faith. Mistaking the intent and the end of their law, they stumbled at this doctrine, which is the common stumbling-stone to unregenerate men.

In the tenth chapter, Paul resumes the same subject, and by new proofs, drawn from the Old Testament, shows that the righteousness of God, which the Jews, going about to establish their own righteousness for their justification, rejected, is received solely by faith in Jesus Christ, and that the Gospel regards the Gentiles as well as the Jews; and if rejected by the Jews, it is not surprising, since this had been predicted by the prophets.

The Jews thus excluded themselves from salvation, not discerning the true character of the Messiah of Israel as the end of the law, and the Author of righteousness, to every believer And yet, when they reflected on the declaration of Moses, that to obtain life by the law, the perfect obedience which it demands must in every case be yielded, they might have been convinced that on this ground they could not be justified; on the contrary, by the law they were universally condemned. The Apostle also exhibits the freeness of salvation through the Redeemer, and the certainty that all who accept it shall be saved. And since faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, the necessity of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles is inferred and asserted. The result corresponded with the prediction. The righteousness which is by faith was received by the Gentiles, although they had not been inquiring for it; while the Jews, who followed after the law of righteousness, had not attained to righteousness.

The mercies of God, as illustrated by the revelation of the righteousness which is received by faith, was the grand subject which had occupied Paul in the preceding part of this Epistle. He had announced at the beginning that he was ‘not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; because it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth — to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.’ This great truth he had undertaken to demonstrate, and he had done so with and the authority and force of inspiration, by exhibiting, on the one hand, the state and character of man; and, on the other, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God.

In the prosecution of this subject, the Apostle had shown that the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; and, by arguments the most irresistible, and evidence that could not be gainsaid, he had brought in both Jews and Gentiles as guilty and condemned sinners, justly obnoxious to the vengeance of Heaven. Had the Almighty been pleased to abandon the apostate race of Adam, as He did the angels, to perish in their sins, none could have impeached His justice, or arraigned the rigor of the Divine procedure. But in the unsearchable riches of the mercies of God, He was pleased to bring near a righteousness, by which His violated law should be magnified, and a multitude whom no man can number rescued from destruction. This righteousness is revealed in the Gospel, — a righteousness worthy of the source from which it flows, — a righteousness which shall for ever abase the pride of the creature, and bring glory to God in the highest. The mercies of God are thus dispensed in such a way as to cut off all ground for boasting on the part of those who are justified. They are, on the contrary, calculated to exalt the Divine sovereignty, and to humble those in the dust who are saved before Him who worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will, and, without giving any account of His matters, either justifies or condemns the guilty according to His supreme pleasure.

In the eleventh chapter, the Apostle finishes his argument, and in a manner concludes his subject. He here resumes the doctrine of the personal election of a remnant of Israel, of which he had spoken in the ninth chapter, and affirms, in the most express terms, that it is wholly of grace, which consequently excludes as its cause every idea of work, or of merit, on the part of man. He shows that the unbelief of the Jews has not been universal, God having still reserved some of them by His gratuitous election, while as a nation He has allowed them to fall; and that this fall has been appointed, in the wise providence of God, to open the way for the calling of the Gentiles. But in order that the Gentiles may not triumph over that outcast nation, Paul predicts that God will one day raise it up again, and recall the whole of it to communion with Himself. He vindicates God’s dealings both towards Jews and Gentiles, showing that, since all were guilty and justly condemned, God was acting on a plan by which, both in the choice and partial rejection, as well as in the final restoration of the Jews, the Divine glory would be manifested, while in the result, the sovereign mercies of Jehovah would shine forth conspicuous in all His dealings toward the children of men. A most consolatory view is accordingly given of the present tendency and final issue of the dispensations of God, in bringing in the fullness of the Gentiles, and in the general salvation of Israel. And thus, also, by the annunciation of the reception which the Gospel should meet with from the Jews, first in Rejecting it for a long period, and afterwards in embracing it, the doctrine of the sovereignty of Him who hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, and hardeneth whom He will, is further displayed and established. Lost in admiration of the majesty of God, as discovered in the Gospel, the Apostle prostrates himself before his Maker, while, in language of adoring wonder, he summons all whom he addresses to unite in ascribing glory to Him who is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the Almighty.

From this point, Paul turns to survey the practical results which naturally flow from the doctrine he had been illustrating. He was addressing those who were at Rome, ‘beloved of God, called saints;’ and by the remembrance of those mercies of which, whether Jews or Gentiles, they were the monuments, he beseeches them to present their bodies a living sacrifice to God, whose glory is the first and the last end of creation. In thus demanding the entire surrender or sacrifice of their bodies, he enforces the duty by designating it their reasonable service. Nothing can be more agreeable to the dictates of right reason, than to spend and be spent in the service of that  God, whose glory is transcendent, whose power is infinite, whose justice is inviolable, and whose tender mercies are over all His works. On this firm foundation the Apostle establishes the various duties to which men are called, as associated with each other in society, whether in the ordinary relations of life, or as subjects of civil government, or as members of the Church of Christ. The morality here inculcated is the purest and most exalted. It presents nothing of that incongruous medley which is discernible in the schemes of philosophy. It exhibits no traces of confusion or disorder. It places everything on its right basis, and in its proper place. It equally enjoins our duty towards God and our duty towards man; and in this it differs from all human systems, which uniformly exclude the former, or keep it in the background. It shows how doctrine and practice are inseparably connected — how the one is the motive, the source, or the principle — how the other is the effect; and how both are so united, that such as is the first, so will be the last. According to our views of the character of God, so will be our conduct. The corruption of morals, which degraded and destroyed the heathen world, was the natural result of what infidels have designated ‘their elegant mythology.’

The abominable character of the heathen gods and goddesses were at once the transcript and the provocatives of the abominations of their worshippers. But wherever the true God has been known, wherever the character of Jehovah has been proclaimed, there a new standard of morals has been erected; and even those by whom His salvation is rejected are induced to counterfeit the virtues to which they do not attain. True Christianity and sound morals are indissolubly linked together; and just in proportion as men are estranged from the knowledge and service of God, so shall we find their actions stained with the corruptions of sin.

Where in all the boasted moral systems of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Epictetus, Seneca, or the rest of the Greek and Roman philosophers, shall be found anything comparable to the purity and beauty of the virtues enjoined by Paul in the closing chapters of this Epistle? Even modern writers on Ethics, when departing from the only pure standard of virtue, discover the grossest ignorance and inconsistency.

But Paul, writing without any of the aids of human wisdom, draws his precepts from the fountain of heavenly truth, and inculcates on the disciples of Jesus a code of duties, which, if habitually practiced by mankind, would change the world from what it is a scene of strife, jealousy, and division — and make it what it was before the entrance of sin, a paradise fit for the Lord to visit, and for man to dwell in.

 

1. The former editions of this Exposition were published in three separate volumes of which the first volume included these five chapters.

Romans 1:2

Which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.

By declaring that the Gospel had been before promised, Paul tacitly repels the accusation that it was a novel doctrine. At the same time, he states its Divine origin as a reason why nothing new is to be admitted in religion. He further shows in what respect the Old and New Testaments differ -- not as containing two religions essentially dissimilar, but as exhibiting the same grand truth -- predicted, prefigured, and fulfilled. The Old Testament is the promise of the New, and the New the accomplishment of the Old. The Gospel had been promised by all the prophecies which foretold a new covenant, -- by those which predicted the coming of the Messiah, -- by all the observances, under the law, that contained in themselves the promise of the things they prefigured, -- by the whole of the legal economy, that preceded the Gospel, in which was displayed the strictness of Divine justice, which in itself would have been a ministration only of condemnation, had it not been accompanied by all the revelations of grace and mercy, which were in substance and embryo the Gospel itself, and consequently foretold and prepared the way for a more perfect development.

By His Prophets. -- Paul here also repels another accusation of the Jews, namely, that the Apostles were opposed to Moses and the Prophets; and intimates their complete agreement. He thus endeavors to secure attention and submission to his doctrine, by removing the prejudices entertained against it, and by showing that none could reject it without rejecting the Prophets. In addition to this, he establishes the authority of the Prophets by intimating that it was God Himself who spoke by them, and consequently that their words must be received as a revelation from heaven.

In the Holy Scriptures. -- Here he establishes the inspiration of the Scriptures, by pronouncing them holy, and asserting that it was God Himself who spoke in them; and shows whence we are now to take the true word of God and of His Prophets, -- not from oral tradition, which must be uncertain and fluctuating, but from the written word, which is certain and permanent. He teaches that we ought always to resort to the Scriptures; for that, in religion, whatever they do not contain is really novel, although it may have passed current for ages; while all that is found there is really ancient, although it may have been lost sight of for a long period.

Romans 1:3

Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which has made of the seed of David according to the flesh. 2..

The Gospel of God concerns His Son. The whole of it is comprised in the knowledge of Jesus Christ; so that whoever departs one step from Him, departs from the Gospel. For as Jesus Christ is the Divine image of the Father, He is set before us as the real object of our faith. It is of Him that the Gospel of God, promised by the Prophets, treats; so that He is not simply a legislator or interpreter of the Divine will, like Moses, and the Prophets, and the Apostles. Had the law and the Gospel been given by others than Moses and the Apostles, the essential characteristics of these two economies would have remained the same. But it is altogether different respecting Jesus Christ, who is exclusively the Alpha and Omega of the Gospel, its proper object, its beginning and its end. For it is He who founded it in His blood, and who has communicated to it all its virtue. On this account He Himself says, ‘I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.’ He is the Son of God, His own Son, the Only-begotten of the Father; which proves that He is truly and exclusively His Son, of the same nature, and equal with the Father, and not figuratively, or in a secondary sense, as angels or men, as Israel or believers. Jesus Christ. — He was called Jesus, the Greek name of the Hebrew Joshua, signifying Jehovah that saveth; and so called by the angel before He was born. ‘Thou shalt call His name JESUS; for He shall save His people from their sins,’ Mt 1:21. The title Christ — that is, Messiah, or ‘Anointed’ 3., — being so often added in designation of His office, at length came into use as a part of His name. Our Lord. — This follows from His being the Son of God. The word translated Lord, comprehends the different names or titles which the Hebrews gave to God, but most usually corresponds with that of Jehovah. Where it is used as the name of God, it designates essentially the three persons of the Godhead; but it is also applied to any one of the Divine persons. In the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles, it generally refers to Christ; and in these Divine writings this appellation is applied to Him in innumerable instances. He is called ‘the Lord of glory;’ ‘the Lord both of the dead and living;’ ‘the Lord of all.’ The name Jesus refers to His saving His people; the designation Christ , to His being anointed for that purpose; and that of Lord, to His sovereign authority.

On whatever subject Paul treats, he constantly introduces the mystery of Christ. In writing to the Corinthians, he says, ‘I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ This is a declaration that the doctrine concerning Christ is the whole of religion; in which all besides is comprehended. In delivering his instructions to the saints at Corinth respecting the incestuous person he points out to them Jesus Christ as the Lamb that was sacrificed. If his subject respects the promises he has made, or the engagements he has entered into, he draws our attention to the promises of God, which are all yea and amen in Christ Jesus. When he treats of the precepts to be obeyed, he regards them as connected with the knowledge of Christ. All duties are considered in relation to Him, as the only Savior from whom we can derive power to fulfill them, the only altar on which they can be accepted, that model according to which they are to be performed, and the motive by which those who perform them are to be actuated. He is the head that gives life to the members, the root which renders the branches fruitful. Believers are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Jesus Christ is the end and object of their obedience, in order that the name of the Father may be glorified in the Son, and that the name of the Son may be glorified in them. Accordingly, the Scriptures speak of the commencement and the continuation of the life of believers as being derived from Christ; of their being planted together with Him; buried and risen with Him; walking in Him; living and dying with Him. The principal motives to holiness, in general, or to any particular duty, are drawn from some special view of the work of redemption, fitted to excite to the fulfillment of such obligations. The love of God in Christ is set before us, in a multitude of passages, as the most powerful motive we can have to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind. When we are exhorted to look not to our own things only, but also to those of others, it is because we ought to have the same mind in us that was in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, humbled Himself to do such wonderful things for us. The duty of almsgiving is enforced by the consideration that He who was rich for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich. Forbearance to weak brethren has for its motive the death of Christ for them. If we are exhorted to forgive the offenses of others, it is because God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven us.

The reciprocal duties of husband and wife are enforced by the consideration of the love of Christ, and the relation in which He stands to His Church. The motive to chastity is, that we are members of Christ’s body, and temples of the Holy Ghost. In one word, the various exhortations to the particular duties of a holy life, and the motives which correspond to each of them, are all taken from different views of one grand and important object, the mystery of redemption. He ‘His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness.’ ‘Ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.’ Having referred to Jesus Christ under the title of the Son of God, the Apostle immediately subjoins a declaration concerning His person as God and man. Which was made of the seed of David. — The wisdom of God was displayed in the whole of the dispensation that related to the Messiah, who, in His human nature, was, conformably to many express predictions, to descend from David king of Israel 4.. He was born of a virgin of the family of David; and the first promise, containing His earliest name, the seed of the woman, indicated that He was in this supernatural manner to come into the world; as also that He was to be equally related to Jews and to Gentiles. To Abraham it was afterwards promised, that the Messiah should spring from him. ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.’ But as this promise was still very general, it was next limited to the tribe of Judah. ‘The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come.’ And to David the Lord had sworn, ‘Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.’ Thus, as the period of His birth approached, the promises concerning Him were more particular and more restricted. The wisdom of God was pleased in this manner to designate the family in which the Messiah, as to His human nature, was to be born, that it might be one of the characteristics which should distinguish and make Him known, as well as to confound the unbelief of those who should reject Him, and deny His advent. For, if He has not yet come, it was to no purpose that the prophets foretold that He should descend from a certain family, since all the genealogies of the Jews are now lost. It must therefore be admitted either that these predictions, thus restricted, were given in vain, or that the Messiah must have appeared while the distinction of Jewish families still subsisted, and the royal house of David could still be recognized. This declaration of the Apostle was calculated to have great weight with all, both Jews and Gentiles, who reverenced the Old Testament Scriptures, in convincing them that Jesus Christ was indeed the Messiah, the hope of Israel.

God has also seen it good to exhibit, in the birth of Jesus Christ, that union of majesty and dignity on the one hand, and weakness and abasement on the other, which reigns through the whole of His economy on earth. For what family had there been in the world more glorious than that of David, the great king of Israel, most honored and beloved of God, both as a prophet and a king? And what family was more reduced or obscure when Jesus Christ was born? This is the reason why He is represented by the prophet Isaiah as the rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch growing out of his roots, which marks a family reduced, as if nothing more remained but the roots, which scarcely appeared above ground. And by the same prophet it is also said, ‘He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground.’ According to the flesh. — The prophets had abundantly testified that the Messiah was to be truly man, as well as truly God, which was necessary in order to accomplish the purpose of His advent. ‘Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death.’ The Apostle John declares that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This expression could not be employed respecting any mere man, as no one who was only a man could come except in the flesh. Since, then, Jesus Christ might have come in some other manner, these words affirm His humanity, while at the same time they prove His pre-existence.


2. In the original, the words, ‘Jesus Christ our Lord,' stand at the conclusion of Ro 1:4, and the words between them and ‘concerning His Son’ may be read as a parenthesis; but the sense remains the same.

3. Oil was the instituted emblem of the grace of the Holy Spirit which was given to the Lord Jesus Christ without measure; and anointing oil was the outward visible sign of the Spirit’s inward and spiritual graces.

We meet with the institution, Ex 30:22, to the end. The holy ointment was to be used in consecrating the tabernacle and all its vessels, and in setting apart certain persons for some great offices. It was unlawful to use it upon any other occasion; whosoever did so was to be cut off from the people. This consecrating unction was used on the tabernacle, which was a type of the body of Christ, and on all the vessels of the tabernacle to show that Christ and everything respecting Him, was under the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit; and it was used to set apart the prophets, the priests, and the kings, because He was to sustain these offices.

4. In regard of His Divine subsistence, Jesus Christ was begotten, not made; in regard of His manhood, He was not begotten, but made of the seed of David, Joh 1:14; Ga 4:4.

Romans 1:4

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

Declared to be the Son of God. — The word here translated ‘declared,’ imports, according to the sense of the original as well as the connection, defined or proved. The term properly signifies, to point out, or to limit, as when bounds are set to a field to regulate its measurement. Jesus Christ was made or became the Son of David; but He did not become, but was declared, defined, or demonstrated to be the Son of God. That Jesus Christ is not called in this place the Son of God with reference to His incarnation or resurrection merely, is evident from the fact that His nature as the Son of God is here distinguished from His descent from David. This expression, the Son of God, definitely imports Deity, as applied to Jesus Christ. It as properly denotes participation of the Divine nature, as the contrasted expression, Son of Man, denotes participation of the human nature. As Jesus Christ is called the Son of Man in the proper sense to assert His humanity, so, when in contrast with this He is called the Son of God, the phrase must be understood in its proper sense as asserting His Deity. The words, indeed, are capable of a figurative application, of which there are many examples in Scripture. But one part of the contrast is not to be taken as literal, and the other as figurative; and if the fact of a phrase being capable of figurative acceptation incapacitates it from expressing its proper meaning, or renders its meaning inexplicably uncertain, no word or phrase could ever be definite. A word or phrase is never to be taken in a figurative sense, where its proper sense is suitable; for language would be unintelligible if it might be arbitrarily explained away as figurative. This appellation, Son of God , was indeed frequently ascribed to pious men; but if this circumstance disqualified the phrase from bearings a literal and definite meaning, there is not a word or phrase in language that is capable of a definite meaning in its proper signification.

The Apostle John says, ‘But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,’ by which he means to say who Christ is. Paul, after his conversion, ‘preached Christ in the synagogues.’ And what did he preach concerning Him? — ’That He was the Son of God.’

The great burden of Paul’s doctrine was, to prove that Jesus is the Son of God. That term, then, must definitely import His Divine nature. It is not only used definitely, but as expressing the most important article in the Christian faith; it is used as an epitome of the whole creed. When the eunuch desired to be baptized, ‘Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And He answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ The belief, then, of the import of this term is the substance of Christianity. Faith in Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, overcometh the world. ‘Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that JESUS is the Son of God?’ In the confession of Peter, Mt 16:16, this phrase is employed as an epitome of the Christian faith. To the question, ‘Whom say ye that I am?’ Peter replies, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ We have here the very essence of Christianity. It is asked, Who is Christ? The reply, then, must answer this question; it must inform us who Christ is, both as to His person, His office, and nature. Thou art the Christ, is the answer to the question, so far as it respects His person and office; Thou art the Son of the living God, is the answer as to His nature. The parable in which the king makes a marriage for his son, speaks the same doctrine, Mt 22:2. Christ is there represented to be the Son of God, in the same sense in which a royal heir is the son of the king his father. If, then, the king’s son partake of the nature of his father, so must Jesus Christ, the Son of God, partake of the nature of His Father; if the king’s son be a son in the perfect sense of the term, and not a son figuratively, in like manner the Son of God is God’s Son in the proper sense.

The question put to the Pharisees by Jesus, Mt 22:42, proves that the phrase Son of God means son ship by nature. ‘What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He?’ This question evidently refers to proper, not figurative son ship. When we ask whose son such a person is, it is palpably evident that we mean real, not figurative son ship. Though the question might have reference to our Lord’s human nature, and the inquiry relate to His father after the flesh, as the Pharisees understood, still it clearly denotes the natural relation; but that Christ did not intend it exclusively of His father as to the flesh, is evident from His next question: ‘If David, then, call Him Lord, how is He his Son?’ Jesus Christ could not mean to deny that He was the Son of David; but He intimates that, though He was the Son of David as to the flesh, He must be the Son of God in the same sense in which He was David’s Son. He asks, Who is the father of the Messiah ? and from something affirmed of Him, intimates that there is a sense in which He is not David’s Son. The answer He received was true, but not full; the supply of the deficiency is ‘the Son of God’ The question, then, and the proper answer, imports that Jesus was the Son of God in the literal sense of the words. Besides, David could not call Him Lord as to His human nature; nor was He David’s Lord in any sense but that in which He was God.

The condemnation, also, of unbelievers rests on the foundation of the Savior’s dignity as the Son of God. ‘ He that believeth not is condemned already; because he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten son of God.’ They are condemned not merely for rejecting His message, but for not believing in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. Faith, then, respects not His doctrine only, but Himself, especially as exhibited in His doctrine. Such son ship implies Deity.

In this Epistle, (Ro 8), Paul argues that God will deny nothing to those for whom He has given His Son. But this argument would be ill founded, if Jesus be only figuratively His Son. ‘He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ This supposes that the gift of Christ is greater than the gift of all other things besides, and that in such a disproportion as to bear no comparison. If so, can He be anything else than truly Divine? Had He been the highest of created beings, it would not follow as a self-evident consequence that such a gift of Him implied the gift of all things else.

The epithets attached to this phrase, Son of God, show it to import proper son ship. Jesus is called God’s own Son, — the beloved — the well beloved Son, — the begotten — the only-begotten Son of God. This son ship, then is a son ship not only in a more eminent degree, but in a sense in which it is not true of any other in the lowest degree. God has other sons, but He has no other son in the sense in which Jesus is His Son.

He has no other son who enjoys the community of His nature. Therefore this Son is called His begotten, or His only-begotten Son. A begotten son is a son by nature; and Jesus must be designedly so designated, to distinguish His natural son ship from that which is figurative. The phrase is rendered still more definite by the addition of the word only. Jesus is the ONLY-begotten Son, because He is the only Son of God in the proper sense of the term. Other sons are figuratively sons, but He is the begotten Son, and the only-begotten Son.

The phrase own Son imports the truth of the son ship by another term, and is therefore an additional source of evidence. Own Son is a son by nature, in opposition to the son of another, to a son by law, and to all figurative sons. Christ, then, is God’s own Son, because He is His Son by nature, because He is not His Son by adoption in the view of the law, and because He is His Son in opposition to figurative son ships.

That the words, I and my Father are one , Joh 10:30, mean unity of nature, and not unity of design, is clear from our Lord’s account of the charge of the Jews: they charged Him with blasphemy for calling Himself the Son of God. ‘Say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?’

Now the words used were not, I am the Son of God. The words I and My Father are one must therefore be the same in import as I am the Son of God; but if the expression, I and My Father are one, is the same in import as, I am the Son of God, the former cannot mean, I am one in design with My Father. Jesus, in Joh 10:36, represents the Jews as charging Him with blasphemy, not for saying that He was God, but for saying that He was the Son of God. This incontrovertibly proves that the Jews understood the phrase, Son of God, as importing Deity. The phrase is blasphemous when applied to a mere creature in no other sense than as importing Deity.5. That the Lord Jesus Christ, in his eternal equality with the Father, and not merely as God manifested in the flesh, is called the Son of God, flows directly from the fact that, wherever the first person of the adorable Trinity is personally distinguished in Scripture, it is under the title, the co-relative title, of the Father. And what is the objection to this doctrine of our Lord’s eternal son ship? It is simply that it differs from all our ordinary notions of the filial relation, to represent the Son as co-eternal with the Father; or that begotten must necessarily mean ‘derived,’ and that to grant derivation is to surrender Deity. In regard to the last form of the objection, it is only necessary to remark, that the doctrine of Scripture is not to be held chargeable with the vain and unprofitable speculations about derived personality, on which some of its upholders have adventured. And in regard to the first, it is not difficult to see that it is destitute of force, except on the impious assumption that we are not bound to receive any declaration about the Divine nature, about the deepest mysteries which are veiled from our reason, and revealed only to our faith, unless we can fully comprehend it. To demand that the distinction of persons in the undivided essence of the Godhead, and the mode of their eternal subsistence, shall be made plain to us; or to repugn against the doctrine of the eternal filiations of the Son of God, because it overpasses the boundaries of our notions of son ship, — what is this but the very summit of unthinking arrogance?

What is it but to say that we will make our own narrow minds the measure of all things, — that we will accept nothing from pure respect to the authority of God, — that we will give the Faithful One only the credit which we allow to a suspected witness, receiving His evidence where it harmonizes with our own apprehensions, — and that, while to our feeble minds every insect is a mystery, there must be no arcana in the nature of Him who dwelleth in the light that is inaccessible? With power. — Some explain the meaning of this to be, that by His resurrection Jesus Christ was powerfully declared to be the Son of God.

But He was not merely powerfully declared — which would intimate the high degree of the evidence — but, according to the Apostle, He was absolutely declared to be the Son of God. Some, again, suppose that He was declared to be the Son of God by the power of the Father who raised Him up. If this had been intended, it would not, it appears, have simply been said, with power, but by the power and glory of the Father, as in Ro 6:4, and 2Co 13:4. The expression, with power, is to be construed with that of the Son of God which immediately precedes it, not with the word declared, and signifies invested with power. All power was inherent in Him, as ‘God blessed for ever;’ but it was given to Him as Mediator, as He Himself declares, Mt 28:18; Joh 17:2, and clearly manifested by His resurrection. He then appeared possessed of eternal, sovereign, and universal power, and that in opposition to the semblance of weakness in which He had appeared on earth. The dignity of His person having remained for some time concealed under the veil of weakness, His resurrection gloriously displayed His ineffable power, as the Conqueror of death, and by His power also evinced His dignity as the Son of God.

The power which was given to our Lord when He rose from the dead, was eminently displayed by His sending out the Holy Spirit, when He returned to the Father. Before His resurrection, if only the veil of infirmity with which, in His birth, he had been covered, was contemplated, He appeared merely as a man. But after His resurrection, if we turn our eyes to His sending forth the Holy Spirit, we behold Him as the Son of God invested with all power. For He who thus sends forth this glorious Spirit must be possessed of sovereign and infinite power, and consequently must be the Son of God. The Holy Spirit, too, whom Jesus Christ communicates, marks His divinity by other characters besides that of power, namely, by that of holiness, by that of majesty, by that of eternity, and that of infinity, proving that He only who bestows the Holy Spirit can be the eternal God, sovereignty holy, and sovereignly glorious.

The Apostle has, however, chosen the characteristic of power for two reasons — the one is to oppose it to the flesh, denoting weakness; and the other, because He has overcome the world, which is an act of ineffable power. To destroy the empire of Satan, to subdue the hearts of men, to change the face of the universe, displays a power which is truly Divine. According to the Spirit of Holiness. — There are various interpretations of these terms, but the proper antithesis can only be preserved by referring them to Christ’s Divine nature. If the words are capable of this application, we need not hesitate to adopt it in this place; and though the phrase is unusual, there can be no doubt that it is capable of this meaning.

It is equally unusual in whatever sense it may be applied. This circumstance, then, cannot prevent it from referring to the Deity of Jesus Christ, in direct contrast to His humanity. Spirit of Holiness may be used here rather than the phrase Holy Spirit, because the latter is usually assigned to the third person of the Trinity. Though the exact expression does not occur elsewhere in the Scriptures, other passages corroborate this meaning, as ‘the Lord (that is, Christ) is that Spirit,’ 2Co 3:17.

He is called ‘a quickening Spirit,’ 1Co 15:45, which character belonged to Him in a particular manner after His resurrection, when He appeared as the spiritual Head of His Church, communicating spirit and life to all His members. The unusual expression, Spirit of Holiness, appears, then, here to denote His Deity, in contrast with His humanity, characterizing Him as God, who is a Spirit essentially holy.

In the verse before us, connected with the preceding, we see that it is upon the foundation of the union of the Divine and human natures, in the person of the Messiah, that Paul proceeds to establish all the great and important truths which he sets forth in this Epistle. In another passage, he afterwards explicitly asserts this union: ‘Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came who is over all, God blessed for ever.  Amen.’ Ro 9:5.

In the same manner Matthew commences his Gospel. He traces the genealogy of the human nature of Jesus Christ, and afterwards declares His Divine nature, Mt 1:18,21,23. Mark begins by proclaiming Him to be the Son of God. ‘As it is written in the Prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord (of Jehovah), make His paths (for our God) straight,’ Isa 40:3; Mal 3:1. Luke introduces his Gospel by asserting His Divine nature.

In speaking of the coming of John the Baptist, he says, ‘And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God; and he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias;’ and then he declares His genealogy according to His human nature, Lu 1:16, and Lu 3:23. John commences his Gospel by saying, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;’ and afterwards, ‘The Word was made flesh,’ Joh 1:1-14. Nearly in the same terms he commences and closes his first Epistle. The leading truth which the Apostles taught when they preached to the Jews at Jerusalem was, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah promised, who had been crucified, and who was raised from the dead, and exalted to the right hand of the Father; and the same great truth was declared to Cornelius, when the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles. The foundation of all that the Apostle advances in the Epistle to the Hebrews, respecting the superiority of the new over the old covenant, is established upon the union of the Divine and human natures of Jesus Christ. Having announced that He is the Son of God, he determines the import of that title, by quoting a passage which ascribes to Him the name, the throne, the kingdom, the righteousness, and the eternity of God. ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.’ The Apostle Peter begins his first Epistle by referring to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and his second, by designating Him as ‘our God and Savior.’ And as in the last prophetical book of the Old Testament the Messiah is called Jehovah, so the prophetical book which terminates the New Testament opens with announcing Him to be ‘Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,’ and closes in a similar manner, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last,’ which signifies the self-existent eternal Jehovah.6. By the resurrection from the dead. — His resurrection defined or determined Jesus Christ to be the person spoken of by the Prophets as the Son of God, and was the authentic and solemn judgment of God pronouncing Him to be His Son. As it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee, Acts. In Scripture, things are often said to be done when they are publicly declared and manifested. Then the Son of God was raised from the dead, His eternal dignity, which was before concealed, was brought to light. His Divine power, being infinite and unchangeable, could receive no augmentation of dignity or majesty. But, having chosen to appear among men enveloped as in a cloud of sufferings and apparent weakness, His glorification consisted in His emerging from that cloud, leaving the veil of infirmities in the tomb, without any of them adhering to Him, when, as the sun breaks forth in his splendor, He was gloriously manifested as the Son of God.

By His resurrection, God proclaimed to the universe that Christ was His only-begotten Son. The Apostle having in the foregoing verse called Jesus Christ the Son of God, here adds that He was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. His resurrection, then, did not constitute Him the Son of God; it only evinced that He was truly so. Jesus Christ had declared Himself to be the Son of God; and on this account the Jews charged Him with blasphemy, and asserted that He was a deceiver.

By His resurrection, the clear manifestation of the character He had assumed, gloriously and for ever terminated the controversy which had been maintained during the whole of His ministry on earth. In raising Him from the dead, God decided the contest. He declared Him to be His Son, and showed that He had accepted His death in satisfaction for the sins of His people, and consequently that He had suffered not for Himself, but for them, which none could have done but the Son of God. On this great fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul rests the truth of the Christian religion, without which the testimony of the Apostles would be false, and the faith of God’s people vain. ‘But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.’ His resurrection is a sure pledge that they who sleep in Jesus, God at His second appearance will bring with Him. As He triumphed in His resurrection over all His enemies, so His people shall arise to victory and blessedness. Then they shall know the power of the resurrection of Jesus, the grandeur of that event, and their interest in it through eternity.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ proved His son ship, because He had claimed that character during His life, and had appealed in proof of it to His rising from the dead, Joh 2:19. Had this testimony been untrue, it could not have taken place. And it not only proved His own eternal power and Godhead, but also manifested His oneness and union in all the perfections and distinguishing characters which constitute Godhead, in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost, each of these glorious persons concurring in that act, as we learn from other Scriptures.

Professor Stuart, in his Commentary, asks in this place, ‘How could the resurrection declare, in any special manner that Christ was the Son of God? Was not Lazarus raised from the dead? Were not others raised from the dead by Christ, by the Apostles, by Elijah, and by the bones of Elisha? And yet was their resurrection proof that they were the sons of God? God did indeed prepare the way for universal dominion to be given to Christ by raising Him from the dead. To the like purpose is the Apostle’s assertion in Ac 17:31. But how an event common to Him, to Lazarus, and to many others, could of itself demonstrate Him to be the Son of God, en dunamei — remains yet to be shown.’ This is feeble reasoning. It shows that Mr. Stuart is entirely mistaken as to the manner in which the resurrection of Christ bears testimony to His character. Jesus Christ came into the world professing to be the Son of God, and was put to death for that profession. His resurrection, then, was God’s seal to the truth of this claim. In itself, it did not testify whether He was God or only man, but it fully established the truth of everything He taught; and as He taught His own Godhead, His resurrection is proof of His Deity. But how could it ever be supposed that the resurrection of Lazarus would prove as much for him as for Christ? Lazarus did not, before his death, profess to be the Son of God, and Mediator. He never predicted his resurrection as an event which was to decide the justice of his pretensions; and had he done so, he would not have been raised to confirm a falsehood. Professor Stuart’s argument concludes as strongly against the proof of son ship, in any sense, from the resurrection of Christ, as against proper son ship. The mere fact of being raised from the dead is not evidence of being even a good man. But in whatever sense Jesus is the Son of God, His resurrection is here stated by the Apostle to be the grand proof.

Before His departure, Jesus Christ told His disciples that when the Comforter came He should convince the world ‘of righteousness, because,’ said He, ‘I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more.’ In raising Him from the dead, and receiving Him up into glory, God declared that the everlasting righteousness which the Messiah came to ‘bring in’ was accomplished. His honorable reception by His Father who sent Him, furnished the most complete proof that He had faithfully fulfilled the purposes of His mission. ‘For if,’ says Archbishop Usher, ‘He had broken prison and made an escape, the payment of the debt which, as our surety, He took upon Himself, being not yet satisfied, He should have been seen here again; Heaven would not have held Him more than Paradise did Adam, after He had fallen into God’s debt.’ To the same purpose says Bates, ‘If He had remained in the grave, it had been reasonable to believe Him an ordinary person, and that His death had been the punishment of His presumption; but His resurrection was the most illustrious and convincing evidence that He was what He declared Himself to be. For it is not conceivable thatGod should put forth an almighty power to raise Him, and thereby authorize His resurrection, if by robbery He had assumed that glorious title of the Son of God. If, indeed, a single sin which had been “laid on Him” had been left unexpiated, He must have remained for ever in the grave: death would in that case have detained Him as its prisoner; for the wages of sin is death.’

By His incarnation, Jesus Christ received in His human nature the fullness of His Spirit; but He received it covered with the veil of His flesh. By His death He merited the Spirit to sanctify His people; but still this was only a right which He had acquired, without its execution. By His resurrection He entered into the full exercise of this right; He received the full dispensation of the Spirit, to communicate it to them; and it was then He was declared to be the Son of God with power.


5. In Dr. Carson’s triumphant Reply to Dr. Drummond’s Arian Essay on the Doctrine of the Trinity, published in Dublin, containing a masterly exposition of Joh 10:30-39, the above subject is fully discussed.

He closes a long dissertation on the import of the term, ‘the Son of God,’ by saying, ‘If I have not shown that it definitely expresses Deity, as applied to Jesus Christ, I would despair of proving that the name of Jesus Christ is in the Bible.’

6. The name Jehovah, derived from a root which signifies to be, is expressive of the most perfect and independent existence. It represents God as the Author of all being. Where the word LORD is printed in the Old Testament in capitals, in the original it is Jehovah.

Romans 1:5

By Whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name.

One of the first acts of the power of Jesus Christ, after His resurrection, was to bestow His Spirit and His grace on those who were chosen by Him, to qualify them to be His witnesses and the heralds of His Gospel.

Paul was among that number, although appointed at a later period than the rest. We have received — He here speaks of himself in the plural number.

He does not appear to use this style that he may include the other Apostles: what is true of him will, however, as to everything essential, apply to all the others. He distinguishes these two things, Grace and Apostleship. The first, which he had experienced in his conversion, and in every subsequent part of his course, he had received from Jesus Christ; and by Him also he was appointed to the office of an Apostle, to the discharge of which that grace was indispensably necessary. To the obedience of faith. — Paul, as an Apostle, was commissioned to preach the Gospel in order to the obedience of faith. Some understand this of the obedience which faith produces; but the usual import of the expression, as well as the connection in this place, determines it to apply to the belief of the Gospel. Obedience is no doubt an effect produced by that belief; but the office of an Apostle was, in the first place, to persuade men to believe the Gospel. This is the grand object, which includes the other. The Gospel reforms those who believe it; but it would be presenting an imperfect view of the subject to say that it was given to reform the world. It was given that men might believe and be saved. The obedience, then, here referred to, signifies submission to the doctrine of the Gospel.

This is quite in accordance with those passages in which the expression is elsewhere found, as in Ac 6:7; Ro 6:17; 16:26; Ga 3:1; 2Th 1:8; 1Pe 1:22; and in Ro 10:3; where the Israelites are charged with not submitting to the righteousness of God; and especially in the 16th verse of that chapter it is said, ‘But they have not all obeyed the Gospel; for Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?’ This is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ,1Jo 3:23.

The object, then, of faith, is not only a promise, but a promise accompanied with a command to accept it. For since it is God who promises, His majesty and authority accompany His promise. In respect to the promise, that which on our part corresponds to it is called faith; but in regard to the commandment which enjoins us to receive the promise, the act on our part is obedience. On this account, unbelief is rebellion against God. Faith, on the other hand, is an act of submission, or the surrender of ourselves to God, contrary to the natural opposition of our minds, in order that He may possess and conduct us, and make us whatever He pleases.

When, therefore, that opposition is overcome by the weapons with which the Apostles were armed, namely, the word of truth, our submission is called the obedience of faith. ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.’ The obedience of faith which His people render to Jesus Christ is an adoration which supposes His Deity; for when reason entirely submits and is swallowed up in His authority, it is a real adoration. ‘Faith,’ says Calvin on this passage, ‘is adorned with the title of obedience, because the Lord calls us by His Gospel, and by faith we answer when He calls us; as, on the contrary, unbelief is the height of all rebellion against God.’ Among all nations. — Paul here assigns the reason why he preaches to Gentiles, namely, that it is the destination of his office or apostleship, and not solely his own choice, Ga 2:7. In past ages, God had suffered all nations, with the exception of the Jews, to walk in their own ways, although He had not left Himself without witness in the works of creation and providence. Both in the universal deluge, and also upon other occasions, He had manifested His wrath on account of sin, and His determination to punish it. But after the establishment of the nation of Israel in Canaan, after the institution of His public worship among them, and after He had given to them His written revelation, He did not generally interpose His authority in a visible manner to turn the nations from the ways they had chosen. Although, therefore, the times of this ignorance God winked at, He now commanded all men to repent. For ‘thus it is written,’ that when Christ suffered and rose from the dead, ‘repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations,’ Lu 24:47. And accordingly Paul closes this Epistle by declaring that it was by the commandment of the everlasting God that the mystery, which had been kept secret from ages and generations, should be made known to all nations, in order to the obedience of faith. This was in conformity to the commission given by the Lord Himself to His eleven Apostles, to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature; and likewise to the particular command afterwards received by Paul respecting the Gentiles, ‘To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.’ Thus the Gospel of the uncircumcision was in a special manner committed to Paul, to which in the verse before us he refers. For His name. — The Gospel is preached among all nations for the obedience of faith, but paramount to this is the glory of the name of Jesus Christ. The name, the glory, and the authority of God have the same signification. The world was created for God’s glory, and His glory is the chief end of the restoration of sinners. The acts of His goodness to His people are declared to be done for His own name’s sake; and for the same end His judgments also are executed on sinners, for His own name, Ro 9:17. Men are very unwilling to admit that God should have any end with respect to them greater than their happiness. But His own glory is everywhere in the Scriptures represented as the chief end of man’s existence, and of the existence of all things. It is in the name of Jesus that His people are taught to pray; and we are baptized into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, as into one name. This affords unanswerable proof of the divinity of Christ. Paul was a chosen vessel to bear His name before the Gentiles, Ac 9:15. This verse concludes the general introduction to the Epistle; the easy transition to the particular address should not pass unnoticed.

Romans 1:6

Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ.

Those to whom Paul wrote, were included among the nations to whom his commission extended. He mentions this, that it might not appear strange that he addresses them for the purpose of instructing them, but that, on the contrary, they should receive what he wrote with due confidence and respect. He was unknown to them by sight; he was far distant from them.

They might say, What interest had he in them? He assures them that his apostleship regarded and comprehended them, and that he did nothing beyond his calling when he desired to increase their knowledge, and confirm their faith. They were the called of Jesus Christ. Thus he had a double right, and was laid under a double obligation to address them, both as belonging to the nations to whom his commission extended, and also as having already become obedient to the faith. The apostolic commission consisted of two parts: first, to make disciples, and then to teach them to observe all things that Jesus had commanded. Thus Paul had a measure that reached even to those to whom he now wrote, as he had to the Church at Corinth, 2Co 10:13. Of Jesus Christ. — Not only called to Jesus, but called by Him; for He is not only that glorious person to whom we ought to go, but who Himself says, Come unto Me. The believers at Rome were called both with an external calling by the Gospel, and also with an internal calling by the Holy Spirit. Both these callings are ascribed to the Father, and also, as in this passage, to Jesus Christ, because the Son, as Mediator, is the minister of the Father, and executes all things for Him. As the high Priest of His people, He has done for them all that is required for establishing the New Covenant; but as the Prophet and King of His Church, He converts them and leads them to the Father. This expression, the called of Jesus Christ, imports that they belonged to Him, as in Isa 48:12, ‘Israel, my called,’ that is, who are mine by the right of calling.

Romans 1:7

to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called, saints: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

To all. — The Apostle here addresses all the saints at Rome without distinction, whether they were Jews or Gentiles, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, bond or free. He does not distinguish the pastors from the people, but addresses himself to them all in common — what he writes being equally intended for their common instruction and edification. He addresses them by three designations, Beloved of God, Called, Saints.

They were saints because they were called, and they were called because they were beloved of God. Their character as saints, then, was not the cause, but the effect, of their being beloved of God. Beloved of God. — In opposition to the rest of mankind, whom God hath left in unbelief and the corruption of the world. Here, then, is the electing love of God placed first in order. It is that love wherewith He loved them when they were dead in sins, Eph 2:5. It is the greatest love that God can show to man, being everlasting love, which originates with Himself. It is purely gratuitous, and does not spring from the foresight of anything worthy in those who are its objects; but, on the contrary, goes before all that is good in the creature, and brings with it infinite blessings.

It has for its primary object Jesus Christ, the beloved of the Father; and those whom He beholds in Christ, although in themselves children of wrath, are beloved for His sake. This love is unvarying from eternity and through eternity, although God’s dealings towards His people may vary, as it is declared in the 99th Psalm, ‘Thou takest vengeance On their inventions.’ He may thus be displeased with them, as it is said, ‘The thing that David did displeased the Lord,’ but His love to them remains the same, like the love of a father to a child, even when he chastens him for his disobedience. Called. — The first outward effect of election, or of the love of God to His people, is His calling them, not merely by the word, which is common to many, but by the Holy Spirit, which is limited to few, Mt 22:14. ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee,’ Jer 31:3. The election, then, of believers is to be traced through their calling, 2Pe 1:10, and their calling to the everlasting love of God. Saints. — The end of the Divine calling is to convert sinners into saints or holy persons. Their sanctification is not an eternal or figurative consecration, as that of Israel was, but a real consecration by which they are made to give themselves to God. It arises from union with Jesus Christ, which is the source of the sanctification of His people; and it consists in internal purity of heart, for God purifies the heart by faith. It supposes a real change of heart and disposition, a new creation, for ‘if any man be in Christ he is a new creature.’ ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’ They were not then saints by natural birth, nor did they make themselves saints either in whole or in part; but they were made so altogether by sovereign grace resulting from sovereign love. All believers are saints, and in one sense all of them are equally sanctified. They are equally separated or consecrated to God, and equally justified, but they are not all equally holy. The work of sanctification in them is progressive. There are babes, and young men, and fathers in Christ. Some are weak in faith, and some are strong; but none of them are yet perfect, neither have they attained to that measure of holiness at which it is their duty constantly to aim, Php 3:12.

They are therefore to forget those things which are behind, and to reach forth unto those things which are before, and are commanded to ‘grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’ ‘The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.’ ‘Certainly, according to Paul,’ says Calvin on this place, ‘the praise of our salvation does not depend upon our own power, but is derived entirely from the fountain of God’s love to us. What other cause but His own goodness can, moreover, be assigned for His love? On this also depends His calling, by which, in His own time, He seals the adoption in those who were first gratuitously chosen by Him. From these premises the conclusion follows, that none truly associate themselves with the faithful who do not place a certain degree of confidence in the Lord’s kindness to them: although undeserving and wretched sinners, being called by His goodness, they aspire to holiness. For He hath not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness.’ Grace to you, and peace.— In this way the Apostles usually commence their Epistles to the churches. In those addressed to individuals, mercy is generally added to grace and peace. Grace is uniformly placed first in order, because it is the source whence peace and all the blessings of salvation flow. Grace is the free unmerited favor of God to sinners in the plan of salvation. Grace and peace are joined together, because they are separable. God communicates all blessings to those to whom He gives grace, and to none besides; for whatever does not proceed from grace is not a blessing. It is to the praise of His grace that God exercises mercy, and brings those who were His enemies into a state of peace with Him. Grace differs from mercy, as it regards the unworthiness, while mercy regards the sufferings, of its objects.

Grace or favor is spoken of in Scripture in three points of view: either as the unmerited favor of God towards men, as existing in himself; or as manifested in the Gospel which is called the Gospel of the grace of God; or in its operation in men. Every part of redemption proceeds on the footing of grace. It originates in the grace of God, and flows, in its first manifestations and in all its after acts, from the same unceasing fountain, in calling, adopting, regenerating justifying, sanctifying, strengthening, confirming grace, — in one word, it is all of grace. On this account Peter calls God the God of all grace, which teaches that God is in Himself towards His people grace — grace in His very nature, — that He knows what each of them needs, and lays it up for them, and communicates it to them. The whole of the salvation of man, from the counsels of God from eternity, is planned and executed to ‘the praise of the glory of His grace,’ Eph 1:6; ‘who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,’ 2Ti 1:9.

In the operation of grace in the soul, men are not simply passive, nor can it be said that God does a part and they do the rest; but God produces all, and they act all. God is the sole author and source of their acts, but they themselves properly are the agents. In some respects they are wholly passive, and in others wholly active. In the Scriptures, the same things are spoken of as coming from God, and as coming from men. It is said that God purifies the hearts of believers, Ac 15:9, and that they purify themselves, 1Jo 3:3. They are commanded to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God who worketh in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure, Php 2:12. It is not the Holy Spirit, but themselves, by virtue of His power, who love God and their neighbor, who fear the Lord, who confide in Him, and trust in His promises. Paul designates as fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. The origin of them all is the Holy Spirit — it is from Him they are derived; but in their exercise or development they properly belong to believers. If any one falsely infers from the doctrine of grace that there remains nothing for man to do, because it is the grace of God that leads him to act, he understands neither what he says, nor whereof he affirms. He might with the same reason conclude that, as God is the Author of our existence, of our souls, and of all our faculties, therefore we can neither think, nor reason, nor love. Grace is in our hearts a living principle, implanted by God, and at His sovereign disposal. To exercise this principle, is as much our duty as to preserve our life and health; and as the care which these require demand attention and certain acts of the will, in the same manner the exercise of grace in the soul supposes corresponding dispositions and acts. But it is not thus with grace as manifested, which is an object of choice, received or rejected, according as grace has operated in us or not. In this manner, grace, as the principle of renovation, by the sole operation of the Holy Spirit, stands in opposition to every notion of independent power in man, by which it might be supposed he could regenerate himself; while, on the other hand, considered in its exercise, it supposes the efforts of man. Peace includes everything that belongs to the idea of tranquility in its largest extent. But the foundation of all must be peace with God. Without this, the Christian can have no peace, though he should be on good terms with all mankind; but, possessing this, God will either give him peace with his enemies, or He will give him peace along with their enmity. The Christian may not only have peace, but joy, in the midst of persecution and external affliction. Peace with God is the substance of happiness, because without it there can be no happiness, and with it there is happiness, whatever else is wanting. This salutation, grace to you and peace, may be considered either as a prayer or a benediction. In the latter sense, it bears the character of apostolic authority. From God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. — God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Father of all who are in Him. Paul here speaks of God as both his Father and the Father of all those whom he addressed, and so constituting one family, whether Jews or Gentiles. God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, are the source of all grace and peace, and can alone communicate these blessings, which are the gracious effects that flow from the covenant of love and favor of the Triune Jehovah. Here again we see an incontrovertible proof of the deity of Jesus Christ; for, if He were not God, He could not without impiety be thus joined with, or invoked along with, the Father to impart blessings, of which God alone is the author.

Romans 1:8

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

First, I thank my God. — This is a first in order, as if Paul had said, I commence my Epistle by giving thanks to God. It proceeds from that feeling of piety which ought to pervade all our actions; at the same time he bestows on those whom he addresses the praise which they deserved. It is also a first in importance, as if he said, Above all, I render thanks to God for you. He shows that their state was a matter of great joy to him, arising both from his zeal for the glory of God, and from the interest he took in those whom he addressed. My God. — Paul calls God his God, indicating a lively and ardent feeling of love to Him, of confidence in Him, and of liberty of access, which includes a persuasion that his thanksgivings will be agreeable to God. It is also a confession of his duty, and of the obligations he is under to render thanks to God, because He is his God. It is, besides, an intimation of his own character, as walking in communion with God. This is an example of the working of the Spirit of adoption, and of a believer taking to himself, in particular, the blessing of having God for his God, and of being a partaker of all the blessings of the New Covenant, flowing from that most gracious declaration, ‘I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Of such appropriation there are numerous instances recorded in the Book of Psalms. ‘I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower,’ Ps 18:1.

Job says, ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth.’ ‘I live,’ says Paul, by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. ’ Such language it is the privilege of every believer to use, and he will do so in proportion as the love of God is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto him. The Christian can thus address God as his own God, and often he should do so even in his public declarations. This displeases the world, because it condemns the world. They affect to consider it as presumption, but it is only a proper expression of our belief of God’s testimony with regard to His Son. Studiously to avoid such expressions on proper occasions, is not to show humility, but to be ashamed of the truth.

Paul thanked God, through Jesus Christ, who is our Great High Priest, and presents the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar before the throne.

It is through Him alone that all our worship and all our works in the service of God are acceptable. Thus, not only must our petitions ascend to the Father through the Son, but our thanksgivings also, according to the precept, ‘By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the faith of our lips, giving thanks to His name,’ Heb 13:1,5. We can have no intercourse with God, but through the one Mediator between God and man, Joh 14:6; and except through Him, we are not permitted even to return thanksgivings to God.

Paul thanks God for all to whom he writes. He had addressed them all as saints, making no exception. It is to such exclusively that the apostolic Epistles are written, whether as churches or individuals, — as being all united to Christ, children of God, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, — who should first suffer and afterwards reign with Him. In the first churches, in which everything was regulated by the Apostles according to the will of God, there may have been hypocrites or self-deceivers; but as far as man could judge, they were all believers; or is any among them appeared not to be such, the churches were told it was to their shame. If any were discovered who had crept in unawares, or were convicted of unbecoming conduct, or who had a form of godliness, but denied its power, from such they were commanded to turn away. They were not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers; wherefore it is said, ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate.’ It was in the confidence that they obeyed such commands, that the Apostles addressed them all, as in the passage before us, as the children of God. In the same manner, in writing to the church at Philippi, Paul, after thanking God for their fellowship in the Gospel, and declaring that he was confident that He who had begun a good work in them would perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ, adds, ‘Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace.’

This mode of address runs through the whole of the apostolic Epistles.

The Apostles generally commence their Epistles with the most encouraging views of the present state and future prospects of those to whom they write, and on these considerations are founded the succeeding exhortations. They first remind those who are addressed of the rich grace of God towards them in Jesus Christ, and the spiritual blessings of which they are made partakers, for their strong consolation, and then they exhort them to a holy conversation becoming such privileges. Of this we have a striking example in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, which, although Paul had so many faults to reprehend in them, he commences by declaring that they were sanctified in Christ Jesus — that he thanked God always for the grace given unto them by Jesus Christ, who would also confirm them to the end, that they might be blameless in the day of His coming, reminding them that God was faithful, by whom they were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The number of times, no fewer than ten, in which, in the first ten verses of that Epistle, Paul introduces the name of Jesus Christ, should be remarked.

In these Epistles we find no exhortations to unbelievers. This ought to be particularly observed, as being a key to them, without which they cannot be understood. This is no reason, however, for supposing that exhortations to believe the Gospel ought not to be addressed to those who are still in unbelief. The Gospel is to be preached to every creature, and all should be enjoined, first to believe it, and then to do all that God requires.

In the Book of Acts, when the Apostles preached to the unconverted, their subject was repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. But in the Epistles, where they address believers, they also admonish and exhort them to the practice of every duty. There is no exhortation to the performance of any duty which does not imply that it is to be performed in faith. ‘Without faith it is impossible to please God.’

Believers are taught to regulate all their conduct according to the great things which the Gospel reveals, which are freely given to them of God; to be imitators of God, and to live not to themselves but to Him, as being not their own, but bought with a price, and therefore bound to glorify God in their bodies and in their spirits, which are His. Their obedience, as described in the Scriptures, is as much distinguished by its motives and its foundation from the morality of the unbelieving world, as it is elevated above it in its nature and effects. It is in all respects a life of faith, subject to the authority of God, and is practiced under the influence and direction of motives inculcated in the Gospel, of which the light of nature gives no knowledge. Those who have not this faith regard it as a barren speculation; but they who possess it know that it is the sole and powerful source of all their works that are acceptable to God, which are opposed to ‘dead works,’ Heb 9:14 ; and that no works are really good, however excellent they may appear, and however much esteemed among men, or useful in society, which do not proceed from faith. That your faith is spoken of — It is not the piety of the saints at Rome, but their faith, that is here noticed. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord; but it is faith in Christ that is the distinguishing mark of the Christian. Paul thanks God that the faith of those to whom he writes was spoken of. He thus acknowledges God as the author of the Gospel, not only on account of His causing it to be preached to them, but because He had actually given them grace to believe; for if God is thanked for the distinguished faith of Christians, then not only their faith is His gift, but also its measure and advancement. That faith is the gift of God, is a truth frequently declared, as in Mt 16:17; Lu 17:5; Ac 11:21; 13:48; 16:14; Ro 12:3; Php 1:29. This is also acknowledged in all the thanksgivings of the Apostles for those to whom they write, and is according to the whole of the doctrine of the Scriptures.

It is from God that every good and every perfect gift descendeth, and a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. For ‘all things,’ therefore, we are commanded to give thanks. Paul thanks God for his own prayers, 2Ti 1:3. Here, as in other places, Paul commences with thanksgiving, thus reminding us that every blessing is from the kindness of God. If we should observe this in blessings of small importance, we ought to do it much more with respect to faith, which is neither an ordinary nor a common blessing of God. Throughout the whole world. — That is to say, throughout the whole Roman empire, of which Rome being the capital, all that took place there was circulated throughout the whole civilized world. Their faith was proclaimed by the voice of all believers, who alone could form a proper opinion regarding it; for the reference is evidently to their approbation.

Unbelievers, who hated both the people of God and their faith, could give no proper testimony concerning it. The commendation of the servants of God was all that the Apostle valued. Thus the faith of the believers whom God had assembled at Rome was held up as an example; and the Apostle here declares, not only for their encouragement, but also to excite them more and more to the performance of their duty, that the eyes of all the servants of God throughout the world were upon them. He says, their faith was spoken of, not that he rests in this circumstance, or that he wishes them to rest in their reputation, as if he would flatter them.

Reputation in itself is nothing. If it be unmerited, it only convinces the conscience of imposture; and when it is real, it is not our chief joy. Paul regards it with reference to the believers at Rome, as a mark of the reality of their faith; and it is on this reality that he grounds his thanksgiving. It was a reason for thanksgiving that they were thus letting their light shine before men, and so glorifying their Father in heaven. The glory of all that is good in His people belongs to God, and all comes through Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:9

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers.

God is my witness. — This is substantially an oath; and refutes the erroneous and mischievous notion of some who maintain, from a misapprehension of what is said by our Lord and the Apostle James, that all oaths are unlawful. Paul’s affection for those to whom he wrote was such, that, in making his appeal to God, he desires to expose it to His judgment in respect to its truth and sincerity. Whom I serve with my spirit. — All the service of God is of this kind; but it is here expressed for the sake of energy, and to distinguish the true servants of God, who serve in the Gospel with their heart in the work, from hirelings, whose labors are formal and only external. It expresses the sincerity and ardor of the service that Paul rendered to God, as if he had said, with all his heart and all the faculties of his soul. It also imports the nature of the service in which he was employed, namely, a spiritual service, in opposition to the service of the priests and Levites in the tabernacle, which was in a great measure a bodily service. On this account he adds, in the Gospel of His Son; that is to say, in the ministry of the Gospel in which he labored for the unfolding of the Divine mysteries to make them known. Thus Paul shows, from the character of his ministry, that his obedience was not in pretense only, but in sincerity. Without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers — Some place these last words, ‘always in my prayers,’ in the beginning of the next verse, as in the Vulgate and the French versions; but the difference is not material. This is a striking proof of the frequency of Paul’s prayers, in which he interceded for those whom he was addressing — ’without ceasing’ — ’always.’ In like manner, in writing to the Philippians, he says, ‘Always, in every prayer of mine for you all, making request with joy.’

We thus learn the duty of Christians to pray for one another, and that those who believe the Gospel are as much bound to pray for its success, and the prosperity of the churches, as to labor in the work. Both prayer and labor ought to go together. To pray without laboring is to mock God: to labor without prayer is to rob God of His glory. Until these are conjoined, the Gospel will not be extensively successful. From many other parts of Paul’s writings, we learn how assiduous he was in the duty of prayer, which he so earnestly inculcates on all believers. ‘In everything giving thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you,’ 1Th 5:18. ‘Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God,’ Php 4:6. How precious is the promise connected with this admonition! ‘And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’

But since all events are fixed, even from eternity, in the counsels and wisdom of God, of what avail, it may be said, are these prayers? Can they change His eternal counsels, and the settled order of events? Certainly not.

But God commands us to pray, and even the prayers of His people are included in His decrees; and what God has resolved to do, He often gives to their prayers. Instead, then, of being vain, they are among the means through which God executes His decrees. If, indeed, all things happened by a blind chance, or a fatal necessity, prayers in that case could be of no moral efficacy, and of no use; but since they are regulated by the direction of Divine wisdom, prayers have a place in the order of events. After many gracious promises, it is added, Eze 36:37, ‘Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.’

In this verse Paul shows his zeal for God and his love for believers, which ought never to be separated. We should love our brethren because we love God. These two things corresponded in Paul to the two favors he had received, which he marked in Ro 1:5, namely, ‘Grace and Apostleship.’ ‘God, as if he said, ‘has given me grace, and on my part I serve Him with my spirit; He has given me Apostleship, and I have you continually in remembrance.’

Romans 1:10

Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, to come unto you.

Making request. — Paul’s affection for those to whom he wrote impelled him, not once or twice with a passing wish, but at all times, to desire to be present with them, notwithstanding the inconveniences of so long and perilous journey. He asks of God that by some means now at length he might be permitted to visit them. Thus Christian love searches out new objects on which to exercise itself, and extends itself even to those who are personally unknown. I might have a prosperous journey, by the will of God. — This teaches us that God, by His providence, regulates all that takes place. There is nothing with which Christians should be more habitually impressed, than that God is the disposer of all events. They should look to His will in the smallest concerns of life, as well as in affairs of the greatest moment. Even a prosperous journey is from the Lord. In this way they glorify God by acknowledging His providence in all things, and have the greatest confidence and happiness in walking before Him. Here we also learn that, while the will of God concerning any event is not ascertained, we have liberty to desire and pray for what we wish, provided our prayers and desires are conformed to His holiness. But will our prayers be agreeable to God if they be contrary to His decrees? Yes, provided they be offered in submission to Him, and not opposed to any known command; for it is the revealed, and not the secret will of God that must be the rule of our prayers. We also learn in this place, that since all events depend on the will of God, we ought to acquiesce in them, however contrary they may be to our wishes; and likewise, that in those things in which the will of God is not apparent, we should always accompany our prayers and our desires with this condition, if it be pleasing to God, and be ready to renounce our desires as soon as they appear not to be conformed to His will. ‘O how sweet a thing,’ as one has well observed, ‘were it for us to learn to make our burdens light, by framing our hearts to the burden, and making our Lord’s will a law!’

Romans 1:11

For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established.

Paul greatly desired to see the believers at Rome, to impart to them some spiritual gift. The opinion of Augustine, that this means the love of one’s neighbor, in which he supposes the church at Rome was deficient, has no foundation. It was not a new degree of the Spirit of sanctification that he desired to communicate, for this Paul had it not in his power to bestow, 1Co 3:6. He appears to refer to some of the extraordinary gifts conferred by the Apostles, by which they might be more established in their most holy faith.

Romans 1:12

That is, that I may be comforted together with you, by the mutual faith both of you and me.

That is . — This does not mean that what follows is intended as an explanation of what he had just said, for to those whom Paul addressed it must have been sufficiently clear; but is a modification of it respecting his purpose, lest he should appear to consider them as not well instructed or established in their faith. For although he always acted faithfully, no one, as is evident from his writings, was ever more cautious to avoid unnecessary offense. He therefore joins himself with those to whom he wrote, and refers to the advantage which he also expected reciprocally to derive from them. It is no valid objection to understanding it to be a miraculous gift which he desired to communicate, that he hoped for mutual advantage and comfort with those whom he was about to visit. This comfort or confirmation which he looked for, was not from a spiritual gift to be bestowed by them, but would be the effect of their confirmation, by the gift they received through him. The gift, too, bestowed by him, would be a new proof of the power of God in him, and of His approbation in enabling him to exert such power. He would be comforted and strengthened in witnessing their faith in respect to his own labors in his ministry, by seeing the kingdom of God advancing more and more, and with respect to his numerous afflictions to which he was on all hands subjected, and also in contrasting the coldness and weakness of many of which he often complains, when he observed the increasing power of Divine grace in the saints at Rome. On the other hand, they would derive from Paul’s presence the greatest consolation from his instructions in the mysteries of salvation, from his exhortations, which must contribute much to their edification, as well as from his example, his counsels, and his prayers. It is thus the duty of Christians to confirm each other in the faith; and their mutual intercourse makes known the faith that each possesses.

They see that their experience answers as face answers to face in a glass; and by beholding the strength of faith in their brethren, Christians are edified and confirmed.

Romans 1:13

Now, I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you (but was let hitherto), that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

Paul’s zeal and affection for those to whom he wrote, were not of recent origin; they had long been cherished in his heart. Of this he did not wish them to be ignorant. It is of importance that believers should know the love entertained for them by the servants of God. It is a testimony of the love of God Himself. Paul wished to see some fruit of his ministry among them. This was his great desire everywhere in the service of Christ. ‘I have chosen you and ordained you,’ said Jesus to His Apostles, ‘that ye should go and bring forth fruit;’ and Paul ardently longed to see the fulfillment of this gracious promise among those to whom he wrote, for believers were his joy and crown. As among other Gentiles. — The apostleship of Paul had not been unfruitful, Ro 15:17. He had traveled through a great part of Syria, of Asia, and of Greece, and everywhere he had either been the means of converting sinners or edifying believers. This was a source of much joy to him; but after so many labors, he did not wish for repose. He desired to go to Rome to obtain fruit there also. He had been let, or hindered, hitherto.

Our desires are always pleasing to God when their object is to promote His glory; but sometimes He does not see good to give them effect. It was good that it was in David’s heart, although he was not permitted, to build the house of God. The times and the ways of God’s providence are often unknown to us, and therefore our desires and designs in His service ought always to be cherished in submission to His Divine wisdom. Paul had been hindered till now from going to Rome . This may have happened in different ways, and through what are called second causes. It may have been occasioned by the services he found it indispensable to perform in other churches before leaving them; or it may have arisen from the machinations of Satan, the God of this world, exciting disturbances and opposition in these churches, 1Th 2:18; or he may have been prevented by the Spirit of God, Ac 16:7. His being hindered, by whatever means, from going to Rome, when he intended it, shows that the Apostles were sometimes thwarted in their purposes, and were not always under the guidance of Divine inspiration in their plans. This, however, has nothing to do with the subject of their inspiration as it respects the Scriptures, or as it regards their doctrine. Thou who raise any objection to the inspiration of the Scriptures, from the disappointments or misconduct of the Apostles, confound things that entirely and essentially differ.

Romans 1:14

I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, both to the wise and to the unwise.

Paul was their debtor, not by any right that either Greeks or Barbarians had acquired over him, but by the destination which God had given to his ministry towards them. He does not, however, hesitate to recognize the debt or obligation, because, when God called him to their service, he was in effect their servant, as he says in another place, ‘Ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.’ The foundation of this duty was not in those whom he desired to serve, but in God, and the force of this obligation was so much the stronger as it was Divine; it was a law imposed by sovereign authority, and consequently an inviolable law. With regard to Paul, it included, on the one hand, all the duties of the apostolic office, and, on the other, the dangers and persecutions to which that office exposed him, without even excepting martyrdom, when he should be called to that last trial. All this is similar to what every Christian owes in the service of God, as far as his abilities, of whatever kind they are, and his opportunities, extend.

As the Greeks — under which term all civilized nations were included — were the source of the arts and sciences, of knowledge and civilization, it might be said that the Apostle should attach himself solely to them, and that he owed nothing to the Barbarians. On the contrary, it might be alleged that he was debtor only to the Barbarians, as the Greeks were already so enlightened. But in whatever way these distinctions were viewed, he declares that both the one and the other were equal to him: he was debtor to them all, — to the Greeks, because their light was only the darkness of error or of idle speculation — to the Barbarians, for he ought to have compassion on their ignorance. He was debtor to the wise, that is to say, the philosophers, as they were called among the Greeks; and to the unwise, or those who made no profession of philosophy. He knew that both stood equally in need of the Gospel, and that for them all it was equally adapted. This is the case with the learned and the unlearned, who are both altogether ignorant of the way of salvation, till it be revealed to them by the Gospel, to which everything, by the command of God, the wisdom as well as the folly of the world, — in one word, all things besides, — must yield subjection.

Romans 1:15

So, as much as in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

Paul was always zealous to do his duty; at the same time, he always acknowledged his dependence on God. This is an example which Christians ought to imitate on all occasions, never to deviate from the path of duty, but to leave events in the hands of God. The contrary of this is generally the case. Christians are often more anxious and perplexed about their success, than with respect to their duty. They forget what regards themselves, and wish to meddle with what does not belong to them but to God. To you also. — He does not inquire or decide whether they ought to be reckoned among the Barbarians or the Greeks, the wise or unwise; he was ready to preach the Gospel to them all.

Here terminates the preface to the Epistle. The first five verses include the general introduction, the last ten embrace the particular address to those to whom it is written. The introduction contains the name, the character, and the office of the writer; his vindication of the Gospel against the cavils of the Jews, proving that it was not a novel doctrine, and that the Apostles were not opposed to the Prophets. It authenticates the whole of the Jewish canon, and attests its inspiration. It undermines the errors of the Jews respecting tradition, and directs them to the Scriptures alone. It next announces the Messiah as the subject of the Gospel, — His glorious person as God and man, His birth and resurrection, His abasement and exaltation, and His almighty power. It finally asserts the communication of grace to the Apostle, his appointment to the office he sustained, the purpose for which it was conferred, along with a commission, of which he states the grounds, to all the nations under heaven. Where else shall be found so much matter compressed in so little space? where so much brevity connected with so much fullness?

In the latter part, in which Paul addresses those to whom his Epistle was directed, he introduces many things well calculated to rivet their attention and engage their affections, while at the same time he conveys very grave and salutary instructions. What must have been the feelings of the Roman converts, when they saw the intense interest with which they were regarded by this great Apostle; when they considered the grandeur and value of the Gospel, to which he was about to call their attention in his Epistle; and when they were cheered by the hope of shortly seeing in the midst of them one whose heart glowed with such love to God, and such benevolence to them! All this must have tended to produce a reciprocal regard and reverential feeling towards the Apostle, an ardent desire to profit by his instructions, together with much gratitude to God, and many prayers to hasten his voyage to come among them. Paul did arrive at Rome, but, in the providence of God, in a very different manner, and in circumstances very different, from what he appears to have expected when he prayed for ‘a prosperous journey.’ He went there a prisoner in bonds, was shipwrecked on his voyage, and kept in confinement after his arrival.

But although he was bound, the word of God was not bound; and all fell out, in the adorable providence of God, for the furtherance of the Gospel.

The circumstances, however, in which he was placed were not in the meantime joyous, but grievous. Yet now that he stands before the throne, now that he has received the crown of righteousness, and is numbered among the spirits of just men made perfect, what regret can he experience that, during the few and evil days he spent on earth, he was conducted to Rome through persecutions, imprisonments, storms, and shipwreck, an outcast among men, but approved and accepted of God?

Romans 1:16

CHAPTER 1.

PART 2.

Ro 1:16-32.

HAVING concluded his prefatory address, the Apostle now announces, in brief but comprehensive terms, the grand subject which occupies the first five chapters of this Epistle, namely, the doctrine of justification by faith.

Ro 1:16. — For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

I am not ashamed . — Paul here follows up what he had just said of his readiness to preach the Gospel at Rome, by declaring that he was not ashamed of it. This would also convey a caution to those whom he addressed against giving way to a strong temptation to which they were exposed, and which was no doubt a means of deterring many from embracing the Gospel, to whom it was preached. He knew from personal experience the opposition which the Gospel everywhere encountered. By the Pagans it was branded as Atheism; and by the Jews it was abhorred as subverting the law and tending to licentiousness; while both Jews and Gentiles united in denouncing the Christians as disturbers of the public peace, who, in their pride and presumption, separated themselves from the rest of mankind. Besides, a crucified Savior was to the one a stumbling-block, and to the other foolishness. This doctrine was everywhere spoken against; and the Christian fortitude of the Apostle, in acting on the avowal he here makes, was as truly manifested in the calmness with which he viewed the disdain of the philosophers, the contempt of the proud, and the ridicule of the multitude, as in the steadfast resolution with which, for the name of the Lord Jesus, he confronted personal danger, and even death itself. His courage was not more conspicuous when he was ready ‘not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem,’ than when he was enabled to enter Athens or Rome without being moved by the prospect of all that scorn and derision which in these great cities awaited him.

But the grand reason which induced the Apostle to declare at the outset of this Epistle that he was not ashamed of the Gospel, is a reason which applies to every age as well as to that in which Christ was first preached.

His declaration implies that, while in reality there is no just cause to be ashamed of the Gospel, there is in it something which is not acceptable, and that it is generally hated and despised among men. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him. They run counter to his most fondly-cherished notions of independence; they abase in the dust all the pride of his self-reliance, and, stripping him of every ground of boasting, and demanding implicit submission, they awaken all the enmity of the carnal mind. Even they who have tasted of the grace of God, are liable to experience, and often to yield to, the deeply-rooted and sinful feeling of being ashamed of the things of God. So prevalent is this even among Christians the most advanced, that Paul deemed it necessary to warn Timothy respecting it, whose faithfulness he so highly celebrates. ‘Be not that therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.’ In connection with this, he makes the same avowal for himself as in the passage before us, declaring at the same time the strong ground on which he rested, and was enabled to resist this temptation. Whereunto, he says, ‘I am appointed a preacher, and an Apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.’ At ‘the same time he commends Onesiphorus for not being ashamed of his chain, 2Ti 1:8,12,16. And He who knew what is in man, solemnly and repeatedly guarded His disciples against this criminal shame, enforcing His admonitions by the most awful sanction. ‘For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of His holy angels.’

That system, in which there is nothing of ‘foolishness’ in the eyes of this world’s wisdom, cannot be the Gospel of which Paul deemed it necessary to affirm that he was not ashamed. No other religion is so offensive to the pride of man; no other system awakens shame in the breasts of its votaries; and yet every false doctrine has in it more or less of what is positively absurd, irrational, and disgraceful. It is also observable that the more the Gospel is corrupted, and the more its peculiar features are obscured by error, the less do we observe of the shame it is calculated to produce. It is, in fact, the fear of opposition and contempt that often leads to the corruption of the Gospel. But this peculiarity affords a strong proof of the truth of the Apostle’s doctrine. Had he not been convinced of its truth, would it not have been madness to invent a forgery in a form which excites the natural prejudices of mankind! Why should he forge a doctrine which he was aware would be hateful to the world? In this declaration Paul may also have had reference to the false mysteries of the Pagans, which they carefully concealed, because they contained many things that were infamous, and of which they were justly ashamed. When the Apostle says he is not ashamed of the Gospel, it further implies that he gloried in it, as he says, Ga 6:14, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ;’ and thus he endeavors to enhance, in the eyes of those to whom he wrote, the value and excellence of the Gospel, in order more fully to arrest their attention before he entered on his subject. The Gospel of Christ. — A little before he had called it ‘the Gospel of God;’ he now designates it the Gospel of Christ, who is not only its author, but also its essential subject. The Gospel is therefore called the preaching of Jesus Christ, and of the unreachable riches of Christ. This Gospel, then, which Paul was ready to preach, and of which he was not ashamed, was the Gospel of God concerning His Son. The term Gospel, which signifies glad tidings, is taken from Isa 52:7, and Isa 61:1, where the Messiah is introduced as saying, ‘The Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings.’

For it is the power of God unto salvation. — Here the Apostle gives the reason why he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. The Gospel is the great and admirable mystery, which from the beginning of the world had been hid in God, into which the angels desire to look, whereby His manifold wisdom is made known unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places. It is the efficacious means by which God saves men from sin and misery, and bestows on them eternal life, — the instrument by which He triumphs in their hearts, and destroys in them the dominion of Satan. The Gospel, which is the word of God, is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. By it, as the word of truth, men are begotten by the will of God, Jas 1:18; 1Pe 1:23; and through the faith of the Gospel they are kept by His power unto salvation, 1Pe 1:5. The exceeding greatness of the power of God exerted in the Gospel toward those who believe, is compared to His mighty power which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand, Eph 1:19. Thus, while the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, to those who are saved it is the power of God.

The Gospel is power in the hand of God, as opposed to our natural impotence and utter inability to obtain salvation by anything we can do, Ro 5:6; and also in opposition to the law, which cannot save, being ‘weak through the flesh,’ Ro 8:3. It has been observed that the article the, before power, is not in the original. The article, however, is not necessary. The Apostle does not mean power as an attribute, for the Gospel is no attribute of God. It is power, as it is the means which God employs to accomplish a certain end. When it is said, the Gospel is God’s power unto salvation, all other means of salvation are excluded. To every one that believeth. — This power of God unto salvation is applied through faith, without which God will neither justify nor save any man, because it is the appointed means of His people’s union with Jesus Christ. Faith accepts the promise of God. Faith embraces the satisfaction and merit of Jesus Christ, which are the foundation of salvation; and neither that satisfaction nor that merit would be imputed, were it not rendered ours by faith. Finally, by faith we give ourselves to Jesus Christ, in order that He may possess and conduct us for ever When God justifies, He gives grace; but it is always in maintaining the rights of His majesty, in making us submit to His law and to the direction of His holiness, that Jesus Christ may reign in our hearts. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one, without any distinction of age, sex, or condition — of birth or of country, — without excepting any one, provided he be a believer in Christ. The expression, ‘every one,’ respects the extent of the call of the Gospel, in opposition to that of the law, which was addressed to the single family of Abraham. To the Jew first, and also to the Greek. — This distinction includes all nations; for the Jews were accustomed to comprehend under the name of Greek all the rest of the world, as opposed to their own nation. The Greeks, from the establishment of the Macedonian empire, were better known to the Jews than any other people, not only on account of their power, but likewise of their knowledge and civilization. Paul frequently avails himself of this distinction. To the Jew first. — From the days of Abraham, their great progenitor, the Jews had been highly distinguished from all the rest of the world by their many and great privileges. It was their high distinction that of them Christ came, ‘who is over all, God blessed for ever’ They were thus, as His kinsmen, the royal family of the human race, in this respect higher than all others, and they inherited Emmanuel’s land. While, therefore, the evangelical covenant, and consequently justification and salvation, equally regarded all believers, the Jews held the first rank, as the ancient people of God, while the other nations were strangers from the covenants of promise. The preaching of the Gospel was to be addressed to them first, and, at the beginning, to them alone, Mt 10:6; for, during the abode of Jesus Christ upon earth, He was the minister only of the circumcision, Ro 15:8. ‘I am not sent,’ He says, ‘but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel;’ and He commanded that repentance and remission of Sins should be preached in His name among all nations, ‘beginning at Jerusalem,’ Ac 3:26; 14:26. Thus, while Jews and Gentiles were united in the participation of the Gospel, the Jews were not deprived of their rank, since they were the first called.

The preaching of the Gospel to the Jews first, served various important ends. It fulfilled Old Testament prophecies, as Isa 2:3. It manifested the compassion of the Lord Jesus for those who shed His blood, to whom, after His resurrection, He commanded His Gospel to be first proclaimed.

It showed that it was to be preached to the chief of sinners, and proved the sovereign efficacy of His atonement in expatiating the guilt even of His murderers. It was fit, too, that the Gospel should be begun to be preached where the great transactions took place on which it was founded and established; and this furnished an example of the way in which it is the will of the Lord that His Gospel should be propagated by His disciples, beginning in their own houses and their own country.

Romans 1:17

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

The righteousness of God. — This phrase may, according to circumstances, mean either the personal attribute of God, or, as in this place, the righteousness which God has provided, which He has effected, and which He imputes for justification to all His elect. It is through this righteousness, revealed in the Gospel, that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Paul reverts to its manifestation, Ro 3:21, where the signification of this most important expression will be fully considered. At present it is sufficient to remark that the grand object of the Apostle is to show that man, having lost his own righteousness, and thereby fallen under condemnation, God has provided for him a righteousness — the complete fulfillment of the law in all its threatenings and all its precepts — by which, being placed to his account through faith, he is acquitted from guilt, freed from condemnation, and entitled to the reward of eternal life. Is revealed — This expression regards the assertion in the second verse of this chapter, that the Gospel had formerly been promised by the Prophets. The righteousness of God must be contemplated at three periods: first, at the period when God purposed it; second, at the period when He promised it; and third, at the period when He revealed it. He purposed it in His eternal decrees, He promised it after the fall, and now it is actually revealed in the Gospel. Paul does not say that it began only under the Gospel to display its efficacy, or that it was not known under the Mosaic dispensation; on the contrary, he was about to show that the Prophet Habakkuk had referred to it, and in the fourth chapter he proves that Abraham was justified by the imputation of this same righteousness; but he here declares that its full and perfect revelation was made by the Gospel, in which it is testified that at length it has been ‘brought in,’ as had been promised, Da 9:24. Looking forward to the revelation of this righteousness, the Prophet Isaiah, (Isa 56:1), writes, ‘Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice; for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.’ The Prophet thus announced in his time that it was near to be revealed, and the Apostle affirms that it is now revealed. From faith to faith. — Various interpretations have been given of this phrase, although there appears to be little difficulty in ascertaining its meaning. Some explain it as signifying from the faith of the Old Testament to the faith of the New; some, from one degree of faith to another; some, from the faith of the Jew to the faith of the Gentile; and others, altogether of faith . The expression is evidently elliptical; and in order to understand it, it is necessary to observe that the literal rendering is not ‘from faith to faith,’ but ‘by faith to faith.’ The same words in the original are thus translated in the same verse: ‘The just shall live by faith.’ The meaning, then, is, the righteousness which is by faith, namely, which is received by faith, is revealed to faith, or in order to be believed. This is entirely constant with what the Apostle says in Ro 3:22, where he reverts to the subject, and announces that the righteousness of God, which is by, or through, faith of Jesus Christ, is unto all and upon all them that believe.

There is then no difficulty in this expression, especially since the meaning is placed beyond dispute in this passage, where the same truth is fully expressed. As it is written. — Here is a reference to the Old Testament Scriptures, as attesting what had just been affirmed, thus proving the correspondence between the Old Testament and the New, as was also shown in the second verse of this chapter, and teaching us to rest our faith on the testimony of the Scriptures, in whatever part of them it is found. The just shall live by faith, or rather, following the order of the words in the original, be just, or the righteous, by faith shall live. The doctrine, however, is substantially the same in whatsoever of these ways the phrase is rendered, and the meaning is, they who are righteous by faith, that is, by having the righteousness of God which is received by faith imputed to them, shall live. Paul repeats the same declaration in two other places, namely, in Ga 3:11, where he proves that men cannot be justified by the law, and also in Heb 10:38, where he is exhorting those to whom he writes to continue firm in the faith; and immediately afterwards, explaining the meaning of that expression, he shows at large, in the following chapter, that men were saved by faith before, as well as after, the coming of the Messiah. In both cases the eye of faith was steadfastly fixed on the same glorious object. Before His advent, faith rested on that event, considered in the promise. After the coming of the Messiah, faith rejoices in the accomplishment of the promise. Thus it is only by faith in the testimony of God, as receiving His righteousness wrought by the Messiah, that man can be just or righteous in His sight. The passage itself is quoted from the prophecies of Habakkuk, and is generally supposed to relate, in its primary sense, to the deliverance from the Babylonish captivity, which was a type of the deliverance obtained by the Gospel. Through faith in the Divine promises the first was obtained, and the second in like manner is obtained through faith. But in whatever sense the Prophet used these words, the Apostle , speaking by the same Spirit, assigns to them their just and legitimate extension. They are true in respect to an earthly and temporal deliverance, and are equally true in respect to a spiritual deliverance.

Many, however, understand such quotations, where the Apostle says it is written , as mere accommodation, not implying prediction of the thing to which they are applied. This is a most unwarrantable and baneful method of handling the word of God. It is in this light that Professors Tholuck and Stuart, in their Commentaries on this Epistle , often view this form of expression. But, on the contrary, it is always used as introducing what is represented as a fulfillment of prediction, or an interpretation of its meaning. If Neologians are to be held guilty for explaining the miracles of Christ on natural principles, are they less criminal who explain, as mere accommodation of Scripture language, what is quoted by an Apostle as a fulfillment of prophecy? Several quotations from the Old Testament in this Epistle are explained by both these authors on the above Neological principle. Professor Stuart, on this passage, says, ‘It is not necessary to suppose, in all cases of this nature , that the writer who makes such an appeal regards the passage which he quotes as prediction. Plainly this is not always the case with the writers of the New Testament, as nearly all commentators now concede.’ Professor Tholuck remarks that ‘the pious Jew loved to use Bible phrases in speaking of the things of common life , as this seemed to connect, in a manner, his personal observations and the events of his own history with those of holy writ.’ He adds, that the Talmud contains numerous quotations introduced by such forms, ‘without,’ he continues, ‘there being understood any real fulfillment of the text in the fact which is spoken of. This practice was also followed by the Apostles.7.’ The subject of quotation by accommodation is one of such paramount importance, involving so deeply the honor of the Holy Scriptures, and at the same time is so lightly thought of by many, that it challenges the most serious attention.

Nothing can be more dishonorable to the character of Divine revelation, and injurious to the edification of believers, than this method of explaining the quotations in the New Testament from the Old, not as predictions or interpretations, but as mere illustrations by way of accommodation. In this way many of the prophecies referred to in the Epistles are thrust aside from their proper application, and Christians are taught that they do not prove the very things the Apostles adduced them to establish.

The great temptation to this manner of understanding them, is the fact that such prophecies generally, as they lie in the Old Testament, are obviously applied to temporal events, whereas, in the New, they are applied to the affairs of Christ and His kingdom. But this is a difficulty to none who understand the nature of the Old Testament dispensation, while the supposition that it is a difficulty, argues an astonishing want of attention to both covenants. Not only the ceremonies, but the personages, facts, and whole history of the Jewish people, have a letter and a spirit, without the knowledge of which they cannot be understood either in their true sense, or in a sense at all worthy of God. That the Old Testament predictions, then, should primarily refer to temporal events in the Jewish history, and in a secondary but more important view, to the Messiah and the Gospel, is quite in accordance with what is taught us everywhere by the New Testament.8. Instead of creating a difficulty, this peculiarity is entirely consistent with the prominent features of Christianity, and calls for fresh admiration of the Divine wisdom. It is one of those characteristics which prove the Bible to be God’s own book; and, as usual, men’s attempts to mend it only serve to mar its beauty and obscure its evidence. In Ga 3:10, it is asserted that ‘as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.’ Why are they affirmed to be under the curse?

Because it is written, ‘ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ The phrase it is written is used here to connect an inference or conclusion with the premises on which it is founded. The assertion, that all who are of the works of the law are under the curse, is founded on the thing said to be written. The phrase, then, is indicative of true fulfillment or interpretation of meaning.

In like manner, what is spoken of, Mt 13:14, and Joh 12:39-40, is, in Ro 11:8, introduced with the phrase ‘it is written.’ By the same phrase also is introduced, Ga 4:27, the reference to the prophecy of Isa 54:1. This must be prediction, because there does not appear to be any reference to a subordinate event in the Jewish history. It is an immediate prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles.

We learn from Ga 4:21-26, that even the history of Abraham’s family was typical, and the recorded facts of ancient times are explained as predictions of Gospel times. ‘Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?’ In what respect could they hear the law on the point referred to? In the events that took place in Abraham’s house. These facts are represented as a part of the law, and the spiritual truth at the proper interpretation.

Not only is the phrase ‘it is written’ always applied to indicate prediction or interpretation, but it was so understood and applied in our Lord’s time.

When the priests and scribes were asked where Christ should be born, they answered, in Bethlehem, for thus it is written , Mt 2:5. This phrase, then, they employed to indicate true fulfillment of prediction.

This very reference to Habakkuk is explained, Ga 3:11, as prediction. It is asserted in the beginning of the verse, that no man can be justified by the law, because it is written by the Prophet. Here the impossibility of justification by the law is founded on the prophecy quoted. But if this prophecy related only to a temporal event in the Jewish history, the fact being so written would not bear out the conclusion. That the prophecy there refers to the justification of sinners before God, as its true and most important meaning, is the necessary sense of the passage. So little foundation have the above-named writers for their bold perversions of the word of God on their, point. Their doctrine respecting it manifests great ignorance of Scripture.

The passage in Mt 2:15, has been supposed by some to be utterly incapable of interpretation, in the sense of real fulfillment, as prediction. ‘Out of Egypt have I called My Son.’ The prophecy there referred to is found in Ho 11:1, and evidently refers to the calling of the Israelites out of Egypt. How then can it be the fulfillment of the prophecy according to the application in the Evangelist? Nothing is more easy than the solution of this supposed insuperable difficulty. The words of the Prophet have, in the primary or literal sense, a reference to the historical event — the calling of the Israelites, as nationally the typical Son of God, out of the land of Egypt; and, in the secondary or spiritual sense, couched under the figure, they refer to the calling of the true Son of God out of Egypt, where He had gone to sojourn in order to accomplish this prediction. The Son of God is, in Isa 49:3, expressly addressed under the name of Israel. It argues the highest presumption, and even blasphemy, to explain this quotation on the principle of accommodation, when the Evangelist says ‘that it might be fulfilled,’ and thus intimates that this event was one predetermined in the counsels of Eternity . Is mere accommodation fulfillment in any sense? How must infidels sneer at such violent efforts to explain away a difficulty, which is, after all, imaginary.

The language here used by the Evangelist establishes beyond all contradiction the double reference of many of the prophecies of the Old Testament.

Some commentators refer to Ac 28:25, as an example of a passage which the Apostle quotes as prediction, when it is not prediction. This Scripture is supposed to have reference to the Jews, as neglecting all warnings till they were finally carried into captivity. It may have such a reference. But this is not so certain as that it has the secondary reference to the state of the Jews with respect to the rejection of the Gospel.

Instead, then, of being received as applied to the latter by way of accommodation, or as illustrative of the same principle, there is no absolute certainty of a primary reference; but there can be no doubt that it predicts the unbelief and hardness of heart manifested by the Jews in the time of our Lord, and afterwards. This is irresistibly evident from Mt 13:14. Here it is expressly said to be a fulfilling of the prophecy, that ‘in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith,’ etc. The unbelief of the Jews is here, in express words, stated as the fulfillment of this same prophecy. Is it not wonderful blindness, is it not the most profane temerity, to explain as mere accommodation what the Holy Spirit asserts to be a real fulfillment? The same prophecy is referred to in John’s Gospel as fulfilled in the Jews of our Lord’s time, (Joh 12:39), ‘Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again.’

What can more strongly express prediction? Belief was impossible, because of the prediction. They were the words of God, and, therefore, must be fulfilled. As this is a subject of so much importance, demanding the serious attention of all who tremble at the word of God , and one which is so frequently, I may say so generally, misrepresented, I shall further repeat the following remarks respecting it, from my Book of Evidences, vol. 1: p. 450, third edition, on the Old Testament prophecies: — ‘It is not as setting aside the literal application of such passages, that the Apostles quote them in their spiritual import; nor in the way of accommodation, as is often erroneously asserted: but in their ultimate and most extensive significations. Nothing has been more mischievous, more audacious, and more dishonorable to the character of revelation, than the doctrine that represents the New Testament writers as quoting the Old Testament prophecies by way of accommodation. It is based on the supposed difficulty or impossibility of explaining the agreement in the literal accomplishment. To this it may be replied, that satisfactory solutions of the cases of difficulty have been given. But though no satisfactory solution were given, the supposition would be inadmissible. It contradicts most explicitly the Spirit of God, and must be rejected, let the solution be what it may. The New Testament writers, in quoting the Old Testament prophecies , quote them as being fulfilled in the event which is related. If it is not truly fulfilled, the assertion of fulfillment is false. The fulfillment by accommodation is no fulfillment in any real sense of the word. This interpretation, then, cannot be admitted, as being palpably contradictory to the language of inspiration. To quote the Old Testament prophecies in this way, could not, in any respect, serve the purpose of the writers of the New Testament. What confirmation to their doctrine could they find from the language of a prophecy that did not really refer to the subject to which they applied it, but was merely capable of some fanciful accommodation? It is ascribing to these writers, or rather to the Spirit of God, a puerility of which every writer of sound judgment would be ashamed. The application of the language of inspiration by way of accommodation, is a theory that has sometimes found patrons among a certain class of writers; but a due respect for the inspired writings will ever reject it with abhorrence. It is an idle parade of ingenuity, even when it coincides in its explanations with the truths of the Scriptures; but to call such an accommodation of Scripture language a fulfillment, is completely absurd. There is nothing in Scripture to warrant such a mode of explanation.’ ‘To say,’ observes Mr. Bell, on the Covenants, ‘that these Scriptures had no relation to these events, what is this but to give the inspired penman the lie? The question is not what the Old Testament writers intended in such and such sayings, but what the Spirit which was in them did signify.

The Prophets might often not know the full extent of their own prophecy, but certainly the Spirit, by which they spake, always did. The Spirit in the Old Testament writers was the same who inspired those of the New, 2Co 4:13; therefore, when the latter quote the words of the former as predictive of, and fulfilled in, certain events, the Holy Spirit is pointing out what He Himself intended. And who dare say but that He may point out more fully under the New Testament what He intended in the Old, than ever could have entered into the heart of man? 1Co 2:9-10. Surely the only wise God must be allowed to know the full sense of His own words. When the Evangelists or Apostles tell us that such and such Scriptures were fulfilled in such events, they do not give a new sense to these Scriptures which they never had before, but only show what before was latent with us. To say that any of their quotations from the Old Testament are mere allusions, or only used by way of accommodation to their purpose, beyond the true sense of the words and the intention of the Holy Ghost, effectually cuts the sinews of their argumentation, and, of course, destroys the proofs they adduce,’ p. 56. The misunderstanding, or rather denial on this point, of the plain import of Scripture, in representing the New Testament writers as quoting from the Old Testament in the way of accommodation, appears to originate, so far as concerns Professors Tholuck and Stuart, in their want of acquaintance with the nature of the inspiration of the Bible . Were this not the case, they could not have ventured to take such liberties with the Scriptures as appear in their Commentaries. 9. The declaration in Ro 1:16-17, that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek, because therein is the righteousness of God revealed, serves as the text or ground of the whole of the subsequent disquisition in this and the following nine chapters.


7. In the Presbyterian Review, No. 30: p. 237, it is observed, ‘This idea of quotation by accommodation is as old as the time of Aarias Montanus;’ and, after remarking that in the above passage it is visited with merited castigation, the reviewer adds, ‘Professor Tholuck’s authority, indeed, in any matter in which the honor of inspiration is involved, is not very high; so at least we think all who have escaped the chilling influence of Socinianism must acknowledge respecting any writer, who in one place tells us that "Paul probably used certain words, without attaching to them any definite idea" (p. 156); in another, suggests the supposition that the Apostle "had forgotten what ought to have followed" (p. 157); and, in the present verse, informs us that, with the view of better adapting the declaration of the Prophet to his subject, he gave a "violent construction to the translation of the Septuagint;" and whatever Tholuck’s authority may be, Stuart’s is no greater; for water cannot rise higher than its source; and on this subject of accommodation, with the exception of the very obnoxious sentiment which we have just cited, the American critic is no more than the copyist of the German."

8. See the author’s book On the Evidences, etc., on the primary and secondary senses of prophecy, and its division into three branches, vol. 1: p. 445, 3rd edition.

9. On the subject of Inspiration see the author’s work on The Authenticity and Inspiration of the Holy Scripture and Dr. Carson’s unanswered and unanswerable treatise on The Theories of Inspiration by the Rev. Daniel Wilson (now Bishop of Calcutta), the Rev. Dr. Pye Smith, and the Rev. Dr. Dick, proved to be erroneous, and his Refutation of Dr. Henderson’s Doctrine on Divine Inspiration, with a Critical Discussion, on 2Ti 3:16.

Romans 1:18

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.

Here commences the third division of this chapter; where the Apostle enters into the discussion, to prove that all men being under the just condemnation of God, there remains for them no way of justification but that by grace, which the Gospel holds out through Jesus Christ.

Mr. Stuart understands this verse and the 17th as coordinate, and as supplying — each of them severally — a reason of the statement that Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel; but the subsequent discussion shows the utter inapplicability of verse 18th to the Gospel, inasmuch as the Apostle develops, at great length, the truth that the, wrath of God is declared against those to whom no explicit revelation has been given. It is connected by the particle for with the preceding verse, and constitutes an argument in favor of the statement, that nowhere, except in the Gospel is the righteousness of God revealed for the justification of sinners, and marks the necessity, for this purpose, of that revelation. This argument is evolved at great length, and the exposition of it does not terminate till the 20th verse of the third chapter. In this long section of the Epistle, a foundation is laid for the doctrine of grace in the announcement of the doctrine of wrath: all men are concluded under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe — that it might be shown, beyond question, that if men are to be justified, it cannot be by a righteousness of their own, but by the righteousness provided by God, and revealed in the Gospel The Apostle begins here by proving that the Gentiles were all guilty, and all subjected to the just judgment of God. The wrath of God is revealed. — The declaration of the wrath of God is a fit preparation for the announcement of grace, — not only because wrath necessarily precedes grace in the order of nature, but because, to dispose men to resort to grace, they must be affected with the dread of wrath and a sense of their danger. The wrath of God denotes His vengeance, by ascribing, as is usual in Scripture, the passions of men to God. It implies no emotion in God, but has reference to the judgment and feeling of the sinner who is punished. It is the universal voice of nature, and is also revealed in the consciences of men. It was revealed when the sentence of death was first pronounced, the earth cursed, and man driven out of the earthly paradise, and afterwards by such examples of punishment as those of the deluge, and the destruction of the Cities of the Plain by fire from heaven, but especially by the reign of death throughout the world. It was proclaimed in the curse of the law on every transgression, and was intimated in the institution of sacrifice, and in all the services of the Mosaic dispensation. In the eighth chapter of this Epistle, the Apostle calls the attention of believers to the fact that the whole creation has become subject to vanity, and groaneth and travaileth together in pain. The same creation which declares that there is a God, and publishes His glory, also proves that He is the enemy of sin and the avenger of the crimes of men. So that this revelation of wrath is universal throughout the world, and none can plead ignorance of it. But, above all, the wrath of God was revealed from heaven when the Son of God came down to manifest the Divine character, and when that wrath was displayed in His sufferings and death, in a manner more awful than by all the tokens God had before given of His displeasure against sin. Besides this, the future and eternal punishment of the wicked is now declared in terms more solemn and explicit than formerly. Under the new dispensation, there are two revelations given from heaven, one of wrath, the other of grace. Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. — Here the Apostle proceeds to describe the awful state of the Gentiles, living under the revelation of nature, but destitute of the knowledge of the grace of God revealed in the Gospel. He begins with accusing the whole heathen world, first of ungodliness, and next of unrighteousness. He proves that, so far from rendering to their Creator the love and obedience of a grateful heart, they trampled on His authority, and strove to rob Him of His glory.

Failing, then, in their duty towards God, and having plunged into the depths of all ungodliness, it was no wonder that their dealings with their fellowmen were characterized by all unrighteousness. The word all denotes two things: the one is, that the wrath of God extends to the entire mass of ungodliness and unrighteousness, which reigns among men, without excepting the least part; the other is, that ungodliness and unrighteousness had arrived at their height, and reigned among the Gentiles with such undisturbed supremacy, that there remained no soundness among them.

The first charge brought under the head of ungodliness, is that of holding the truth in unrighteousness. The expression, the truth, when it stands unconnected in the New Testament, generally denotes the Gospel. Here, however, it is evidently limited to the truth concerning God, which, by the works of creation, and the remains of the law of conscience, and partly from tradition, was notified to the heathens. The word ‘hold, ’ in the original, signifies to hold fast a thing supposed to be valuable, as well as to withhold, as it is rendered 2Th 2:6, and to restrain or suppress. The latter is the meaning here. The heathens did not hold fast the truth, but they suppressed or restrained what they knew about God.

The expression signifies they retained it as in a prison, under the weight and oppression of their iniquities.

But besides this general accusation, the Apostle appears particularly to have had reference to the chief men among the Pagans, whom they called philosophers, and who professed themselves wise. The declaration that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, attacked directly the principle which they universally held to be true, namely, that God could not be angry with any man. Almost all of them believed the truth of the Divine unity, which they communicated to those who were initiated into their mysteries. But all of them, at the same time, held it as a maxim, and enjoined it as a precept on their disciples, that nothing should be changed in the popular worship of their country, to which, without a single exception, they conformed, although it consisted of the most absurd and wicked idolatrous rites, in honor of a multitude of gods of the most odious and abominable character. Thus they not only resisted and constantly acted in opposition to the force of the truth in their own minds, but also suppressed what they knew of it, and prevented it from being told to the people.

Romans 1:19

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

The Apostle here assigns the reason of what he had just affirmed respecting the Gentiles as suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, namely, that which may be known of God, God hath manifested to them.

They might have said, they did not suppress the truth in unrighteousness, for God had not declared it to them as He had done to the Jews. He had, however, sufficiently displayed, in the works of creation, His almighty power, wisdom, and goodness, and other of His Divine attributes, so as to render them without excuse in their ungodliness and unrighteousness. That which may be known of God, — that is to say, not absolutely, for that surpasses the capacity of the creature. — God is incomprehensible even by angels, and it is by Himself alone that He can be fully and perfectly comprehended; the finite never can comprehend the infinite, Job 11:7. Nor do the words before us mean all that can be known of Him by a supernatural revelation, as the mystery of redemption, that of the Trinity, and various other doctrines; for it is only the Spirit of God who has manifested these things by His word. It is on this account that David says, ‘He showeth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation; and as for His judgments, they have not known them,’ Ps 147:19. But what may be known of God by the works of creation, He has not concealed from men. Is manifest in them, or rather, to them. — This respects the clearness of the evidence of the object in itself, for it is not an obscure or ambiguous revelation; it is a manifestation which renders the thing certain. It is made to them; for the Apostle is referring here only to the external object, as appears by the following verse, and not to the actual knowledge which men had of it, of which he does not speak till the 21st verse. For God hath showed it unto them. — He has presented it before their eyes. They all see it, though they do not draw the proper conclusion from it. In like manner He has shown Himself to the world in His Son Jesus Christ. ‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.’ Yet many saw Him who did not recognize the Father in Him. These words, ‘hath showed it unto them,’ teach us that in the works of creation God has manifested Himself to men to be glorified by them; and that, in preserving the world after sin had entered, He has set before their eyes those great and wonderful works in which He is represented; and they further show that there is no one who can manifest God to man except Himself, and consequently that all we know of Him must be founded on His own revelation, and not on the authority of any creature.

Romans 1:20

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

Invisible things of Him — God is invisible in Himself, for He is a Spirit, elevated beyond the reach of all our senses. Being a Spirit, He is exempted from all composition of parts, so that when the Apostle here ascribes to Him ‘invisible things’ in the plural, it must not be imagined that there is not in God a perfect unity. It is only intended to mark the different attributes of Deity, which, although one in principle, are yet distinguished in their objects, so that we conceive of them as if they were many. From the creation of the world are clearly seen. — By the works of creation, and from those of a general providence, God can be fully recognized as the Creator of heaven and earth, and thence His natural attributes may be inferred. For that which is invisible in itself has, as it were, taken a form or body to render itself visible, and visible in a manner so clear that it is easy to discover it. This visibility of the invisible perfections of God, which began at the creation, has continued ever since, and proves that the Apostle here includes with the works of creation those of providence, in the government of the universe. Both in the one and the other, the Divine perfections very admirably appear. Being understood by the things that are made. — The works of creation and providence are so many signs or marks, which elevate us to the contemplation of the perfections of Him who made them, and that so directly, that in a manner these works, and these perfections of their Author, are as only one and the same thing. Here the Apostle tacitly refutes the opinion of some of the philosophers respecting the eternity of the world; he establishes the fact of its creation, and at the same time teaches, contrary to the Atheists, that, from the sole contemplation of the world, there are sufficient proofs of the existence of God. Finally, by referring to the works of creation, he indicates the idea that ought to be formed of God, contrary to the false and chimerical notions of the wisest heathens respecting Him. Even His eternal power and Godhead. — The Apostle here only specifies God’s eternal power and Godhead, marking His eternal power as the first object which discovers itself in the works of creation, and in the government of the world; and afterwards denoting, by His Godhead, the other attributes essential to Him as Creator. His power is seen to be eternal, because it is such as could neither begin to exist, nor to be communicated. Its present exertion proves its eternal existence. Such power, it is evident, could have neither a beginning nor an end. In the contemplation of the heavens and the earth, every one must be convinced that the power which called them into existence is eternal. Godhead. — This does not refer to all the Divine attributes, for they are not all manifested in the works of creation. It refers to those which manifest God’s deity. The heavens and the earth prove the deity of their Author. In the revelation of the word, the grand truth is the deity of Christ; in the light of nature, the grand truth is the deity of the Creator. By His power may be understood all the attributes called relative, such as those of Creator, Preserver, Judge, Lawgiver, and others that relate to creatures; and by His Godhead, those that are absolute, such as His majesty, His infinity, His immortality. So that they are without excuse . — The words in the original may either refer to the end intended, or to the actual result — either to those circumstances being designed to leave men without excuse, or to the fact that they are without excuse. The latter is the interpretation adopted by our translators, and appears to be the true meaning. It cannot be said that God manifested Himself in His works, in order to leave men without excuse. This was the result, not the grand end. The revelation of God by the light of nature the heathens neglected or misunderstood, and therefore are justly liable to condemnation. Will not then the world, now under the light of the supernatural revelation of grace, be much more inexcusable? If the perverters of the doctrine taught by the works of creation were without excuse, will God sustain the excuses now made for the corrupters of the doctrine of the Bible?

When the heathens had nothing else than the manifestation of the Divine perfections in the works of creation and providence, there was enough to render them inexcusable, since it was their duty to make a good use of them, and the only cause of their not doing so was their perversity. From this, however, it must not be inferred, that since the entrance of sin, the subsistence of the world, and the providence which governs it, sufficiently furnish man, who is a sinner, with the knowledge of God, and the means of glorifying Him in order to salvation. The Apostle here speaks only of the revelation of the natural attributes of God, which make Him indeed the sovereign good to man in innocence, but the sovereign evil to man when guilty. The purpose of God to show mercy is not revealed but by the Spirit of God, who alone searcheth the deep things of God,  1Co 2:10. In order to this revelation, it was necessary that the Holy Spirit should have animated the Prophets and Apostles. It is therefore to be particularly observed that, while, in the next chapter, where the Apostle proceeds to prove that the Jews are also without excuse, he urges that the forbearance, and long-suffering, and goodness of God, in the revelation of grace, led them to repentance, he says nothing similar respecting the heathens. He does not assert that God, in His revelation to them, called them to repentance, or that He held out to them the hope of salvation, but affirms that revelation renders them inexcusable. This clearly shows that in the whole of the dispensation to the heathen, there was no revelation of mercy, and no accompanying Spirit of grace, as there had been to the Jews. The manifestations made by God of Himself in the works of creation, together with what is declared concerning the conduct of His providence, Ac 14:17; and what is again said in Ro 2:14-15, respecting the law written in the heart, comprise the whole of the revelation made to the heathen, after they had lost sight of the original promise to Adam of a deliverer, and the preaching of the righteousness of God by Noah; but in these ways God had never left Himself without a witness. The works of creation and providence spoke to them from without, and the law written in their heart from within. In conjunction, they declared the being and sovereign authority of God, and man’s accountableness to his Creator. This placed all men under a positive obligation of obedience to God. But His law, thus made known, admits not of forgiveness when transgressed, and could not be the cause of justification, but of condemnation. The whole, therefore, of that revelation of God’s power and Godhead, of which the Apostle speaks in this discourse, he regards as the foundation of the just condemnation of men, in order afterwards to infer from it the necessity of the revelation of grace. It must not be supposed, then, that he regards it as containing in itself a revelation of grace in any manner whatever, for this is an idea opposed to the whole train of his reflections. But how, then, it may be said, are men rendered inexcusable? They are inexcusable, because their natural corruption is thus discovered; for they are convicted of being sinners, and consequently alienated from communion with God, and subjected to condemnation, which is thus shown to be just.

Romans 1:21

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Knew God . — Besides the manifestation of God in the works of creation, the heathens had still some internal lights, some principles and natural notions, which are spoken of, Ro 2:12,15, from which they had, in a measure, the knowledge of the existence and authority of God. There may be here, besides, a reference to the knowledge of God which He communicated in the first promise after the fall, and again after the flood, but which, not liking to retain God in their knowledge, and being ‘haters of God,’ mankind had lost. Elsewhere, Paul says that the Gentiles were without God in the world, Eph 2:12; yet here he says they knew God. On this it may be observed, that they had very confused ideas of the Godhead, but that they further corrupted them by an almost infinite number of errors. Respecting their general notions of deity, these represented the true God; but respecting their erroneous notions, these only represented the phantoms of their imagination. In this way they knew God, yet nevertheless they were without God. They knew his existence and some of His perfections; but they had so entirely bewildered their minds, and added so many errors to the truth, that they were in reality living without God. They might be said to know God when they confessed Him as the Creator of the world, and had some conception of His unity, wisdom, and power. The Apostle may particularly refer to the wise men among the heathen, but the same truth applies to all. They all knew more than they practiced, and the most ignorant might have discovered God in His works, had not enmity against Him remained in their hearts. But when Paul says, Eph 2:12, that they were without God, he has respect to their worship and their practice. For all their superstitions were exclusively those of impiety, which could only serve to alienate them from the love and the communion of the true God.

They were therefore, in reality, without God in the world, inasmuch as they set up devils, whom, under the name of gods, they served with the most abominable rites. They glorified Him not as God. — Paul here marks what ought to be the true and just knowledge of God, namely, that knowledge which leads men to serve and worship Him in a manner agreeable to His sovereign will, and worthy of His holy character. To glorify God signifies to acknowledge and worship Him with ascriptions of praise, because of His glorious attributes.

Now the heathens, though in their speculations they might speak of God in a certain way consistent with some of His attributes, as His unity, spirituality, power, wisdom, and goodness, yet never reduced this to practice. The objects of their professed worship were either the works of God, or idols. To these they gave the glory that belonged to God; to these they felt and expressed gratitude for the blessings which God bestowed on them. God left them not without a witness of His existence and goodness, in that He gave them rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons; but the glory for these things, and for all other blessings, they rendered to the objects of their false worship. It appears also that the Apostle had in view the fact, that the philosophers in their schools entertained some proper ideas of God, but in their worship conformed to the popular errors. Men often justify their neglect of God by alleging that He has no need of their service, and that it cannot be profitable to Him; but we here see that He is to be glorified for His perfections, and thanked for His blessings. Neither were thankful. — We should constantly remember that God is the source of all that we are, and of all that we possess. In Him we live, and move, and have our being. From this it follows that He ought to be our last end. Consequently, one of the principal parts of our worship is to acknowledge our dependence, and to magnify Him in all things by consecrating ourselves to His service. The opposite of this is what is meant by the expression, ‘neither were thankful;’ and this is what the heathens were not, for they ascribed one part of what they possessed to the stars, another part to fortune, and another to their own wisdom. But became vain in their imaginations, or rather in their reasoning’s, that is, speculations. — Paul calls all their philosophy reasoning’s, because they related to words and notions, divested of use or efficacy. Some apply this expression, ‘became vain in their reasoning’s,’ to the attempts of the heathen philosophers to explore, in a physical sense, the things which the poets ascribed to the gods. Dr. Macknight supposes that the object of the wise men was to show that the religion of the vulgar, though untrue, was the fittest for them. Many explanations, equally fanciful, have been given of these words. The language itself, in connection with the writings of the wise men to whom the Apostle refers, leaves no good reason to doubt that he speaks of those speculations of the Grecian philosophers in which they have manifested the most profound subtlety and the most extravagant folly. Their reasoning’s diverged very far from that truth which they might have discovered by the contemplation of the works of creation; and, besides, produced nothing for the glory of God, in which they ought to have issued. In fact, all their reasoning’s were to no purpose, so far as regarded their sanctification, or the peace of their conscience. The whole of what the Apostle here says aptly describes, and will equally apply to, vain speculations of modern times. It suits not only modern schools of philosophy, but also some of theology; not only the vain interpretations of Neologians, but of all who explain away the distinguishing doctrines of revelation. Without being carried away with the learning and research of such persons, every one who loves the Scriptures and the souls of men, should lift up his voice against such degradations of the oracles of God. Their foolish heart was darkened. — ’Imprudent heart,’ as Dr. Macknight translates this, comes not up to the amount of the phrase. It designates the heart, or understanding, as void of spiritual discernment and wisdom — unintelligent in Divine things, though subtle and perspicacious as to the things of the world. Their speculations, instead of leading them to the truth, or nearer to God, were the means of darkening their minds, and blinding them still more than they were naturally. The Apostle here marks two evils: the one, that they were destitute of the knowledge of the truth; and the other, that they were filled with error, for here their darkness does not simply signify ignorance, but a knowledge false and depraved. These two things are joined together.

Romans 1:22

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

It appears that, by the term wise, the Apostle intended to point out the philosophers, — that is to say, in general, those who were most esteemed for their knowledge, like those among the Greeks who were celebrated by the titles either of men wise or philosophers. To the two evils remarked in the foregoing verse, of their foolishness and their darkness, Paul here adds a third — that with all this they believed themselves to be wise. This is the greatest unhappiness of man, not only not to feel his malady, but to extract matter of pride from what ought to be his shame. What they esteemed their wisdom was truly their folly. All their knowledge, for which they valued themselves, was of no avail in promoting virtue or happiness. Their superstitions were in themselves absurd; and instead of worshipping God, they actually insulted Him in their professed religious observances. How wonderfully was all this exhibited in the sages of Greece and Rome, who rushed headlong into the boundless extravagances of skepticism, doubting or denying what was evident to common sense!

How strikingly is this also verified in many modern philosophers!

So far were the heathen philosophers from wisdom, that they made no approach towards the discovery of the true character either of the justice or mercy of God; while with respect to the harmony of these attributes, in relation to man, they had not the remotest conception. The idea of a plan to save sinners which, instead of violating the law of God, and lowering His character as the moral governor of the world, magnifies the law and makes it honorable, giving full satisfaction to His justice, and, commensurate with His holiness, is as far beyond the conception of man, as to create the world was beyond his power. It is an idea that could not have suggested itself to any finite intellect.

Want of knowledge of the justice of God gave occasion to the manifestation of human ignorance. All the ancient philosophers considered that consummate virtue and happiness were attainable by man’s own efforts; and some of them carried this to such an extravagant pitch, that they taught that the wise man’s virtue and happiness were independent of God. Such was the insanity of their wisdom, that they boasted that their wise man had in some respect the advantage of Jupiter himself, because his virtue was not only independent, or his own property, but was voluntary, whereas that of the divinity was necessary. Their wise man could maintain his happiness, not only independent of man and in the midst of external evils, but also in defiance of God Himself: No power, either human or divine, could deprive the sage of his virtue or happiness. How well does all this prove and illustrate the declaration of the Apostle, that professing themselves to be wise, they became fools!

Romans 1:23

And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

Here Paul produces a proof of the excess of the folly of those who professed themselves to be wise. Their ideas of God were embodied in images of men, and even of birds and beasts, and the meanest reptiles. Changed the glory of the incorruptible God, — that is, the ideas of His spirituality; His immateriality, His infinity, His eternity, and His majesty, which are His glory, and distinguish Him from all creatures. All these are included in the term incorruptible; and as the Apostle supposes them to be needful to the right conception of God, he teaches that these are all debased and destroyed in the mind of man when the Creator is represented under human or other bodily resemblances; for these lead to conceptions of God as material, circumscribed, and corruptible, and cause men to attribute to Him the meanness of the creature, thus eclipsing His glory, and changing it into ignominy. The glory of God, then, refers to His attributes, which distinguish Him from the idols which the heathens worshipped. In Ro 1:25 it is called the truth of God, because it essentially belongs to the Divine character. Both expressions embrace the same attributes, but under different aspects. In the one expression, these attributes are considered as constituting the Divine glory; in the other, as essential to His being, and distinguishing Him from the false gods of the heathen.

It is impossible to conceive of anything more deplorably absurd, further removed from every semblance of wisdom, or more degrading in itself and dishonoring to God, than the idolatrous worship of the heathens; yet among them it was universal. The debasing images to which the Apostle here refers, were worshipped and feared by the whole body of the people, and not even one among all their philosophers, orators, magistrates, sages, statesmen, or poets, had discernment sufficient to detect the enormity of this wickedness, or honesty enough to reclaim against it. On the contrary, every one of them conformed to what the Apostle Peter calls ‘abominable idolatries.’

It is to no purpose to say that the heathens did not believe that their images which they set up, were gods, but only resemblances; for the Apostle condemns them under the character of resemblances or likenesses.

Nor is it to any purpose to affirm that those resemblances were only aids to assist the weakness of the human mind; for he also shows that those pretended aids were hurtful and not beneficial because they corrupted the holy and reverential notions we ought to entertain of the Deity. Neither does it avail to say that they did not serve their images as God, but that the adoration they rendered was to God, since the medium itself derogates from His glory. Nor will it do to profess that by those images they did not intend to express the essence, but only the perfections or attributes of God, and that they were rather emblems than images. The heathens said all this, and the Roman Catholics now say the same; but they are not on this account the less condemned by the Apostle.

Romans 1:24

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.

Wherefore God also gave them up. — The impurities into which the Gentiles were plunged, sprung from their own corrupt hearts. We must therefore distinguish between their abandonment by God, and the awful effects of that abandonment. The abandonment proceeded from Divine justice, but the effect from the corruption of man, in which God had no part. The abandonment is a negative act of God, or rather a negation of acting, of which God is absolutely master, since, being under no obligation to confer grace on any man, He is free to withhold it as He sees good; so that in this withholding there is no injustice: But besides this, it is a negation of acting which men have deserved by their previous sins, and consequently it proceeds from His justice, and is in this view to be considered as a punishment. Sin is indeed the consequence of this abandonment, but the only cause of it is human perversity. God’s giving them up, then, does not signify any positive act, but denotes His not holding them in check by those restraints by means of which He usually maintains a certain degree of order and appearance of moral rectitude among sinners. God did not, however, totally withdraw those restraints, by which His providence rules the world in the midst of its corruption; for if He had done so, it would have been impossible that society could have subsisted, or the succession of generations continued. God, for these ends, still preserved among them some common rectitude, and certain bonds of humanity. But in other respects, so far as concerned the impurities to which the Apostle here refers, He released His restraints on the fury of their passions, as a corresponding punishment for their idolatries. Thus was His justice manifested in giving up those who had dishonored Him to dishonor themselves, in a manner the most degrading and revolting.

Romans 1:25

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever, Amen.

By changing the truth of God, referring to the attributes essential to His being is here meant the changing of the just and legitimate notions which ought to be formed of Him, not only in contemplation, but chiefly in practice. The lie in the same way principally refers to practice, not consisting only in speculative errors, but in perversity of action in superstitions and idolatries. The heathens changed the truth of God, that is, the true idea of God exhibited in the works of creation, into the false representations made of Him in their superstition idolatries. Thus departing from the true God, and receiving false gods in His stead, they worshipped the creature more, or rather, than the creator They pretended, indeed, that they did not forsake the Creator, while they served numerous divinities. They acknowledged that these were inferior to the sovereign God, whom they called the Father of gods and men. But whenever religious worship is offered to the creature in any manner whatever, it is forsaking God , whose will it is, not only that His creatures should serve Him, but that they should serve Him alone, on which account He calls Himself a jealous God. The idolatry of the Pagans was in reality, according to the view here given by the Apostle, a total abandonment of the worship of God. Who is blessed for ever, Amen. — This expression is here used by the Apostle for the purpose of inflicting a greater stigma on idolatry, denoting that we ought to honor and adore God alone, and are not permitted to take away from Him even the smallest ray of His glory. It is an expression that was almost in perpetual use among the Jews, and is still frequently found in their writings when they speak of God. It denotes that we should never speak of God but with profound respect, and that this respect ought to be accompanied with praise and thanksgiving. In particular, it condemns idolatry, and signifies that God alone is worthy to be eternally served and adored. The word ‘Amen’ is here not only an affirmation, or an approval; it is also an aspiration of pious feeling, and a token of regard for the honor of God.

Romans 1:26

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.

See Haldane: Ro 1:27

Romans 1:27

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

The Apostle having awfully depicted the magnitude of Pagan wickedness, and having shown that their ungodliness in abandoning the worship of the true God was the reason why they had been abandoned to their lusts, here descends into particulars, for the purpose of showing to what horrible excesses God had permitted them to proceed. This was necessary, to prove how odious in the sight of God is the crime of idolatry. Its recompense was this fearful abandonment. It was also necessary, in order to give a just idea of human corruption, as evinced in its monstrous enormities when allowed to take its course, and also in order to exhibit to believers a living proof of the depth of the evil from which God had delivered them; and, finally, to prove the falsity of the Pagan religion since, so far from preventing such excesses, it even incited and conducted men to their commission. Receiving in themselves that recompense. — As the impiety of the Pagans respecting God reached even to madness, it was also just that God should permit their corruption to recoil upon themselves, and proceed also to madness. It was just that they who had done what they could to cover the Godhead with reproaches, should likewise cover themselves with infamy, and thus receive a proportionate and retributive recompense.

Romans 1:28

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.

The Apostle shows here how justly the Pagan idolaters were abandoned since they had so far departed from the right knowledge of God. In Ro 1:18 he had declared that the wrath of God was revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. He had now conclusively established the first charge of ungodliness against the Gentiles, adding to it their consequent abandonment to the vilest affections; he next proceeds to demonstrate their unrighteousness.

And as they did not like, 10.This is not quite literal, yet it seems the best phrase that can be used to convey the spirit of the original. The word is the Greek signifies to prove or approve. They did not approve of retaining God in their knowledge. But this cannot mean that their approbation respected their conscience, dark as it was. They did not approve, because, as the common translation well expresses it, they did not like. There is no just ground to conclude, with Dr. Macknight, that there is here a reference to the magistrates and lawgivers, who did not approve of giving the knowledge of God to the people. It applies to them all; neither the lawgivers, nor the people, liked to hold in remembrance a God of holiness and justice. To retain God in their knowledge. — The common translation has here substantially given the spirit of the original, and is better than ‘holding God with acknowledgment,’ as rendered by Dr. Macknight. The heathens are thus said to have known God, but, knowing Him, they did not wish to retain that knowledge. This is a crime in the sight of God which subjects men to the most awful judgments of His justice; for it is on this account that the Apostle adds, that God also gave them up to a reprobate mind.

This pointedly refers to the word applied to them, as not approving the retaining of the knowledge of God. It denotes a mind judicially blinded, so as not to discern the difference between things distinguished even by the light of nature. Thus the dark eclipse of their understanding concerning Divine things, which they had despised and rejected, had been followed by another general eclipse respecting things human, to which they had applied themselves, and in this consisted the proportion which God observed in their punishment. They did not act according to right reason and judgment towards God, — this is their crime; they did not act according to it among themselves in society, — this was the effect of the abandonment of God, and became their punishment. This passage clearly shows that all that remains of moral uprightness among men is from God, who restrains and sets bounds to the force of their perversity. Not convenient. — This is a very just and literal translation, according to the meaning of the word convenient in an early stage of the history of our language; but it does not, at present, give the exact idea. The original word signifies what is suitable to the nature of man as a rational and moral being.

To do things not convenient, is a figurative expression denoting the doing of things directly contrary and opposite, namely, to the light of reason, the reflections of prudence, and the dictates of conscience.


10. The words, not to approve, are frequently used in the sense of not liking. It is often said that a person does not approve of, i.e. does not like, a person.

Romans 1:29

Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers.

Being filled. — This signifies that the vices here exposed were not tempered with virtues, but were alone and uncontrolled, occupying the mind and heart even to overflowing. Unrighteousness. — When this word in the original is taken in a limited sense, it signifies injustice. It is often used for iniquity in general, as in the 18th verse. Some understand it here in the latter sense, as a general word which includes all the different particulars that follow. There is no reason, however, why we should not understand it as one species of the evils which are here enumerated, and confine it to its specific meaning, viz. injustice. This was the public crime of the Romans, who built their empire on usurpation and rapine. Fornication. — Cicero speaks of fornication as unblameable, as a thing universally allowed and practiced, which he had never heard was condemned, either in ancient or modern times. Here it includes all the violations of the seventh commandment, and is not to be confined to the distinctive idea which the term bears in our language. Wickedness. — This refers to the general inclination to evil that reigned among the heathens, and made them practice and take pleasure in vicious and unprofitable actions. Covetousness. — The original word strictly signifies taking the advantage, overreaching in a bargain, having more than what is just in any transaction with our neighbor. Of this, covetousness is the motive. This was universal among rich and poor, and was the spring of all their actions. Maliciousness denotes a disposition to injury and revenge. Full of envy. — Tacitus remarks that this was the usual vice of the villages, towns, and cities. Murder was familiar to them, especially with respect to their slaves, whom they caused to be put to death for the slightest offenses. Debate, strife about words for vainglory, and not truth. Deceit was common to them all, and exemplified in their conduct and conversation, as is said, Ro 3:13. Malignity. — Though the word in the original, when resolved into its component parts, literally signifies bad custom or disposition, yet it generally signifies something more specific, and is with sufficient propriety rendered malignity, which is a desire to hurt others without any other reason than that of doing evil to them, and finding pleasure in their sufferings. The definition of the term, as quoted from Aristotle by Dr.

Macknight, seems true rather as a specification than as a definition. It ‘is a disposition,’ he says, ‘to take everything in the worst sense.’ No doubt malevolence is inclined to this, but this is only one mode of discovering itself. Whisperers. — Dr. Macknight errs in saying that the original word signifies ‘those who secretly speak evil of persons when they are present.’

The word does not import that the speaker whispers lest the person against whom he speaks, being present, should hear. The person spoken against may as well be absent. It refers to that sort of evil speaking which is communicated in secret , and not spoken in society. It is called whispering, not from the tone of the voice, but from the secrecy. It is common to speak of a thing being whispered, not from being communicated in a low voice, but from being privately spoken to individuals. It refers to sowing divisions. It is one of the most frequent and injurious methods of calumny, because, on the one hand, the whisperer escapes conviction of falsehood, and, on the other, the accused has no means of repelling the secret calumny.

Romans 1:30

Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.

Backbiters. — The original word is here improperly translated backbiters.

Dr. Macknight equally misses the meaning of this term, which he translates ‘revilers,’ distinguishing it from whisperers, or ‘persons who speak evil of others to their face,’ giving them opprobrious language and bad names. The word indeed includes such persons; but it applies to evil speaking in general, — to those, in short, who take a pleasure in scandalizing their neighbors, without any reference to the presence or absence of those who are spoken against; and it by no means designates, as he says, the giving of ‘opprobrious language and bad names.’ Such persons are included in it, but not designated by it. Whisperers or tattlers are evil-speakers, without any peculiar distinction. Our translators have erred in rendering it backbiters. As Dr. Macknight has no authority to limit the word to what is spoken face to face, it is equally unwarrantable to confine it to what is spoken in the absence of those who are spoken against. The word translated ‘whisperers’ refers, according to Mr. Tholuck, to a secret , and the word translated ‘backbiters,’ to an open slander. Secrecy is undoubtedly the characteristic of the first word, but the last is not distinguished from it by contrast, as implying publicity; on the contrary, the former class is included in the latter, though here specifically marked.

Besides, though the communication of both the classes referred to may usually be slander, yet it appears that the signification is more extensive.

Whisperers, as speakers of evil, may be guilty when they speak nothing but truth. Mr. Stuart has here followed Mr. Tholuck. The former he makes a slander in secret, the latter a slander in public. It is not necessary that all such persons should be slanderers, and the evil-speaking of the latter may be in private as well as in public. Haters of God. — There is no occasion, with Mr. Tholuck, to seek a reference here to ‘those heathens mentioned by Cyprian, who, whenever a calamity befell them, used to cast the blame of it upon God, and denied a providence.’ Nor is it necessary to suppose, with him, that the propriety of the charge is to be found in the fact that superstition begets a hatred of the gods. The charge is applicable to the whole heathen world, who hated God, and therefore did not like to keep Him in remembrance. This was manifest throughout the world in the early introduction of Polytheism and idolatry. No other cause can be assigned for the nations losing the knowledge of the true God. They did not like to retain Him in their knowledge. Had men loved God, He would have been known to them in all ages and all countries. Did not mankind receive a sufficient lesson from the flood? Yet such was their natural enmity to God, that they were not restrained even by that awful manifestation of Divine displeasure at forgetfulness of the Almighty. Although no one will acknowledge this charge to be applicable to himself, yet it is one which the Spirit of God, looking deeply into human nature, and penetrating the various disguises it assumes, brings home to all men in their natural state. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God.’ They hate His holiness, His justice, His sovereignty, and even His mercy in the way in which it is vouchsafed. The charge here advanced by the Apostle against the heathens was remarkably verified, when Christianity, on its first appearance among them, was so violently opposed by the philosophers and the whole body of the people, rich and poor, learned and unlearned. This melancholy fact is written in the history of the persecutions of the early Christians in characters of blood. 11. Despiteful. — This term does not express the meaning of the original.

Archbishop Newcome translates it injurious; but though this is one of the ideas contained in the word, it is essentially deficient. It signifies injury accompanied with contumely; insolence, implying insult. It always implies contempt, and usually reproach. Often, treatment violent and insulting.

Mr. Stuart translates it ‘reproachful,’ i.e., he says, ‘lacerating others by slanderous, abusive, passionate declarations.’ But this does not come up to the meaning of the original. All this might be done without affecting to despise its object, or in any point of view to assume superiority over him, an idea always implied in the original word. Besides, the reproachful words may not be slanderous. Mr. Tholuck makes it pride towards a fellow-creature; but this designation is not sufficiently peculiar. A proud man may not insult others. This vice aims at attaching disgrace to its object; even in the injuries it commits on the body, it designs chiefly to wound the mind . It well applies to hootings, hissings, and peltings of a mob, in which, even when the most dignified persons are the objects of attack, there is some mixture of contempt. Proud. — This word translates the original correctly, as it refers to the feeling generally, and not to any particular mode of it, which is implied in arrogance, insolence, haughtiness, to persons puffed up with a high opinion of themselves, and regarding others with contempt, as if they were unworthy of any intercourse with them. Boasters. — The term in the original designates ostentatious persons in general; but as these usually affect more than belongs to them, it generally applies to persons who extend their pretensions to consideration beyond their just claims. Inventors of evil things. — Dr. Macknight translates this inventors of unlawful pleasures, and no doubt such inventions are referred to, but there is no reason to restrict it to the invention of pleasures when there are many other evil inventions. In such a case it is proper to give the expression the utmost latitude it will admit, as including all evils. Disobedient to parents. — Obedience to parents is here considered as a duty taught by the light of nature, the breach of which condemns the heathens, who had not the fifth commandment written in words. It is a part of the law originally inscribed on the heart, the traces of which are still to be found in the natural love of children to their parents. When the heathens, then, disregarded this duty, they departed from the original constitution of their nature, and disregarded the voice of God in their hearts.


11. Hatred to God, and not dislike to mysteries, is remarkably verified in infidels. Hatred to God is the origin of Arianism and Socinianism. It is hatred to the sovereignty of God that influences the Arminian. Hatred to God manifests itself by an almost universal neglect of His laws.

Romans 1:31

Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.

Without understanding. — This well expresses the original; for although the persons so described were not destitute of understanding as to the things of this world, but as to these might be the most intelligent and enlightened, yet, in a moral sense, or as respects the things of God, they were unintelligent and stupid. This agrees with the usual signification of the word, and it perfectly coincides with universal experience. All men are by nature undiscerning as to the things of God , and to this there never was an exception. Dr. Macknight entirely misses the meaning, when he explains it as signifying persons who are ‘imprudent in the management of affairs.’ The translation of Mr. Stuart, ‘inconsiderate’ is equally erroneous. Covenant-breakers. — This is a correct translation, if covenant is understood to apply to every agreement or bargain referring to the common business of life, as well as solemn all important contracts between nations and individuals. Without natural attention. — There is no occasion to seek for some particular reference in this, which has evidently its verification in many different things. Dr. Macknight supposes that the Apostle has the Stoics in his eye. Beza, and after him Mr. Stuart, supposes that it refer to the exposure of children. Mr. Tholuck, with more propriety, extends the term to filial and parental love . But still the reference is broader; still there are more varieties comprehended in the term. Why limit to one thing what applies to many? Even though one class should be peculiarly prominent in the reference, to confine it to this robs it of its force. Implacable. — The word in the original signifies as we persons who will not enter into league, as persons who, having entered into league, perfidiously break it. In the former sense it signifies implacable, and designates those who are peculiarly savage. In the latter sense it refers to those who violate the most sacred engagements, entered into with all the solemnities of oaths and religious rites. Our translation affixes to it the first sense. But in this sense it applies to none but the rudest and most uncivilized nations, and was not generally exemplified in the Roman empire. It appears that it should rather be understood in the latter sense, as designating the common practice of nations in every age, who, without hesitation, violate treaties and break oaths sanctioned by every solemn obligation. The word above rendered covenant -breakers, designates the violators of any engagement. The word employed here signifies the breaker of solemn engagements, ratified with all the solemnities of oaths and religious ceremonies. Unmerciful. — There is no reason, like Dr. Macknight, to confine this to those who are unmerciful to the poor. Such, no doubt, are included; but it extends to all who are without compassion. Persons need our compassion who are not in want; they may be suffering in many ways. It applies to those who do not feel for the distresses of others, whatever may be the cause of their distresses; and to those who inflict these distresses it peculiarly applies.

Romans 1:32

Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Knowing the judgment of God. — Sentence or ordinance of God. This the heathens knew, from the work of the law written in their hearts. Although they had almost entirely stifled in themselves the dictates of conscience, it did not cease, in some measure, to remonstrate against the unworthiness of their conduct, and to threaten the wrath of God, which their sins deserved.

They recognized it by some remains they had of right notions of the Godhead, and by which they still understood that God was judge of the world; and this was confirmed to them by examples of Divine vengeance which sometimes passed before their eyes. They knew it even by the false ideas of the superstition in which they were plunged, which required them to seek for expiations. That they knew it in a measure is evident by their laws, which awarded punishments to some of those vices of which they were guilty. Worthy of death. — It is difficult to determine with certainty whether death is here to be understood literally or figuratively. Mr. Stuart considers it as decided that it cannot mean literal death, because it cannot be supposed that the heathens judged everything condemned by the Apostle to deserve capital punishment. He understands it in its figurative sense, as referring to future punishment. But an equal difficulty meets him here. Did the heathens know that God had determined to punish the things thus specified with death, according to its figurative import — everlasting punishment? He does not take the word, then, in this sense to its full amount, but as meaning punishment, misery, suffering. But this is a sense which the word never bears. If it refer to future punishment, it must apply to that punishment in its full sense. That the heathens judged many of the sins here enumerated worthy of death, is clear from their ordaining death as their punishment. And the Apostle does not assert that they judged them all worthy of death, but that they judged the doers of such things worthy of death. It seems quite enough, then, that those things, for the commission of which they ordained death, were such as he mentions. In this sense Archbishop Newcome understands the word, ‘For they themselves,’ he says, ‘punished some of their vices with death.’ Not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. — This is added to mark the depth of their corruption. For when men are not entirely abandoned to sin, although they allow of it in their own circumstances and practice, yet they condemn it in their general notions, and in the practice of others, because then it is not connected with their own interest and self-love. But when human corruption has arrived at its height, men not only commit sins, but approve of them in those who commit them. While this was strictly applicable to the whole body of the people, it was chargeable in the highest degree on the leaders and philosophers, who, having more light than the others, treated in their schools some of those things as crimes of which they were not only guilty themselves, but the commission of which they encouraged by their connivance, especially in the abominable rites practiced in the worship of their gods.

By these conclusive proofs Paul substantiates his charge, in Ro 1:18, against the whole Gentile world, first of ungodliness, and then of unrighteousness as its consequence, against which the wrath of God is revealed. It should also be observed that as, in another place, Tit 2:12, he divides Christian holiness into three parts, namely, sobriety, righteousness, and godliness, in the same way, in this chapter, he classes Pagan depravity under three heads. The first is their ungodliness, namely, that they have not glorified God — that they have changed His glory into images made like to corruptible creatures — that they have changed His truth into a lie, which is opposed to godliness. The second is intemperance. God had delivered them up to uncleanness and vile affections, which are opposed to sobriety. The third is unrighteousness, and all the other vices noted in the last verses, which are opposed to righteousness.

It is impossible to add anything to the view here given of the reign of corruption among the heathens; even the most celebrated and civilized, which is fully attested by their own historians. Nothing can be more horrible than this representation of their state; and as the picture is drawn by the Spirit of God, who is acquainted not only with the outward actions, but with the secret motives of men, no Christian can suppose that it is exaggerated. The Apostle, then, had good reason to conclude in the sequel, that justification by works is impossible, and that in no other way can it be obtained but by grace. From the whole, we see how terrible to his posterity have been the consequences of the sin of the first man; and, on the other hand, how glorious in the plan of redemption is the grace of God by His Son.

Romans 2:1

CHAPTER 2

Ro 2

In the preceding chapter, the Apostle had described the state of the idolatrous Pagans, whom he had proved to be under the just condemnation of God. He now passes to that of the Jews, who, while they rejected the righteousness of God, to which the law and the prophets bore witness, looked for salvation from their relation to Abraham, from their exclusive privileges as a nation, and from their observance of the law. In this and the two following chapters, Paul combats these deeply-rooted prejudices, and is thus furnished with an opportunity of clearly unfolding the doctrine of the Gospel, and of proving that it alone is the power of God unto salvation. In the first part of this chapter, to the 24th verse (Ro 2:1-24) he shows that the just judgment of God must be the same against the Jews as against the Gentiles, since the Jews are equally sinners. In the second part, from the beginning of Ro 2:25 to the end, he proves that the external advantages which the Jews had enjoyed, were insufficient to ward off this judgment. From his language at the commencement of this chapter, in respect to that judgment which the Jews were accustomed to pass on the other nations, and to which he reverts in the 17th verse, it is evident that through the whole of it he is addressing the Jews, and not referring, as many suppose, to the heathen philosophers or magistrates It was not the Apostle’s object to convince them in particular that they were sinners.

Besides, neither the philosophers nor magistrates, nor any of the heathens, occupied themselves in judging others respecting their religious worship and ceremonies. Such observances, as well as their moral effects on those by whom they were practiced, appeared to the sages of Greece and Rome a matter of perfect indifference. The Jews, on the contrary, had learned from their law, to judge, to condemn, and to abhor all other religions; to keep themselves at the greatest distance from those who profess them; and to regard all idolaters as under the wrath of God. The man, then, who judges others — to whom, by a figure of speech, Paul addresses his discourse in the first verse — is the same to whom he continues to speak in the rest of the chapter, and whom he names in Ro 2:17, ‘Behold, thou art called a Jew.’

Ro 2:1. — Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

Therefore. — This particle introduces a conclusion, not from anything in the preceding chapter, but to establish a truth from what follows. The Apostle had proved the guilt of the Gentiles, who, since they had a revelation vouchsafed to them in the works of God, though they did not possess His word, were inexcusable. The Jews, who had His word, yet practiced the same things for which the former were condemned, must therefore also be inexcusable. In the sequel, he specifies and unfolds the charge thus generally preferred. O Man. — This is a manner of address betokening his earnestness, which Paul frequently employs, as in the ninth chapter of this Epistle. Whosoever thou art that judgest. — The Apostle here refers to the judgment which the Jews passed on the Gentiles. It is generally explained as if he was finding fault with those whom he addressed, and declaring they were inexcusable, because they judged others. But this is erroneous.

What he censures, is not their judging, but their doing the same things with those whom they condemned. The character of the Jews, which distinguished them from the Gentiles, was that they judged others. God had conferred on them this distinction, when He manifested His covenant to them, to the exclusion of all the other nations of the world. This character of judging, then, can belong only to the Jews, who, according to a principle of their religion, condemned the other nations of the earth, and regarded them as strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. In this manner the Jews were seated as on a tribunal, from which they pronounced judgment on all other men. Paul, then, had good reason for apostrophizing the Jew as thou that judgest. But as there were also distinctions among the Jews themselves, and as the priests, the scribes, and chiefly the Pharisees, were regarded as more holy than others, he says, whosoever thou art, — thus not excepting even one of them. Thou art inexcusable. — Paul intended to bring in all men guilty before God, as appears by what he says in Ro 3:19, ‘that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.’ He had already proved the inexcusableness of the Gentiles, and he here proceeds to do the same respecting the Jews, whom he addresses directly, and not in a manner only implying that he refers to them, as is supposed by Professors Tholuck and Stuart. Mr. Stuart, especially, endeavors to show that in the first part of this chapter Paul does not proceed at once to address the Jews , ‘but first,’ he says, ‘prepares the way, by illustrating and enforcing the general proposition, that all who have acknowledge of what is right, and approve of it, but yet sin against it, are guilty.’ This view of the passage is equally erroneous with that of those who suppose that the Apostle is addressing the philosophers and magistrates . Both these interpretations lead away from the true meaning of the several parts of the chapter, through the whole of which the address to the Jew is direct and exclusive. The Apostle’s object was to conduct men to the grace of the Gospel, and so to be justified in the way of pardon and acquaintance. Now, in order to this, their conviction of sin and of their ruined condition was absolutely necessary, since they never would have recourse to mercy, if they did not feel compelled to confess themselves condemned. It is with this view that he here proceeds to strip the Jews, as he had done the Gentiles, of all excuse.

For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself — Wherein, that is, in the thing in which thou condemnest another, thou condemnest thyself. Dr. Macknight translates it whilst. But though the words in the original thus translated often in certain situations bear this signification, here this cannot be the case. When there is nothing in the context to fix the reference, the most general substantive must be chosen. There is nothing in the context to suggest the idea of time, and thing is a more general idea. It is indeed true that the self-condemnation of the Jew is contemporaneous with his condemnation of the Gentile. But it is so, because this is implied in the very thing that is alleged, and the thing alleged is more important than the time in which it occurs. Nothing, then, is gained by thus deviating from the common version. The translation, because that, which is suggested by Professors Tholuck and Stuart as a possible meaning, is also to be rejected. To suggest a great variety of possible meanings has the worst tendency; instead of serving the truth, it essentially injures it.

Besides, as has been remarked, the cause of the condemnation of the Jew was not his judging the Gentiles: the cause of his condemnation was his doing the things which he condemned.

The reasoning of the Apostle is clear and convincing. It consists of three particulars, on which the Jew had nothing to object, namely, — 1st , Thou judgest another; 2nd , Thou doest the same things; 3rd , Thou condemnest thyself; consequently thou art without excuse. Thou judgest another. — That is to say, Thou holdest the Gentiles to be criminal and guilty before God; thou regardest them as people whom God has abandoned to themselves, and who, therefore, being plunged in vice and sin of all kinds, are the objects of His just vengeance. This is what the Jew could not deny. Thou doest the same things. — This the Apostle was to prove in the sequel. Thou condemnest thyself: — The consequence is unavoidable; for the same evidence that convicts the Gentiles in the judgment of the Jew, must, if found in him, also bring him in guilty.

Romans 2:2

But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

Paul proceeds here to preclude a thought that might present itself, and to stifle it as it were, before its birth. It might be suggested that the judgment of God — that is, the sentence of condemnation with respect to transgressors — is not uniform; that He condemns some and acquits others, as it pleases Him; and therefore, although the Jew does the same things as the Gentile, it does not follow that he will be held equally culpable, — God having extended indulgence to the one, which He has not vouchsafed to the other. The Jew, then, does not hold himself guilty when he condemns the Gentile, although he does the same things. This is the odious and perverse imagination which the Apostle here repels. We are sure, or more literally, we know. Who knows? ‘Koppe,’ says Mr.

Tholuck, ‘deems that there is here an allusion to the Jews, who boasted that they alone possessed the true knowledge.’ But this is palpably erroneous, because the Jews in general did not believe the thing asserted to be known. The Apostle’s object is to correct their error. Mr. Tholuck himself is still farther astray when he understands it of ‘those apprehensions of a Divine judgment which are spread among all mankind, to which the Apostle had alluded, Ro 1:32.’ It was the Apostle himself, and those taught by the same Spirit, who knew with unfaltering assurance the thing referred to. The judgment of God, — that is, sentence of condemnation, — not, as Dr. Macknight says, the curse of the law of Moses. The law of Moses and its curse are different from the sentence which God pronounces according to them. According to truth, against them which commit such things. — Not truly . This would qualify the assertion that the judgment of God is against such persons, which, as a general truth, neither the Jew nor the Gentile is supposed to question. In this sense, truly would express the same as really. Nor does it signify according to truth, as synonymous with justice, as Mr. Tholuck supposes.

About the justice of the thing there is no question. If the Gentile is justly condemned for every breach of the law written on the heart, the justice of the condemnation of the transgressing Jew could not be a question. Nor, with Mr. Stuart, is it to be understood as meaning, agreeably to the real state of things, — that is, according to the real character of the person judged. This is doubtless a truth, but not the truth asserted in this passage.

This meaning applies to the judgment that examines and distinguishes between the righteous and the wicked. But the judgment here spoken of, is the sentence of condemnation with respect to transgressors. Nor, with Dr. Macknight, are we to understand this phrase as signifying, ‘according to the true meaning of God’s covenant with the fathers of the Jewish nation.’

This is not expressed in the text, nor is it suggested by the context.

The real import of this phrase will be ascertained in considering the chief error of the Jews about this matter. While they admitted that God’s law, in general, condemns all its transgressors, yet they hoped that, as the children of Abraham, God would in their case relax the vigor of His requirements. What the Apostle asserts, then, is designed to explode this error. If God should sentence Gentiles to condemnation for transgression of the work of the law written in the heart, and pass a different sentence on Jews transgressing the law of Moses, His judgment or sentence would not be according to truth. If some transgressors escaped, while others were punished, the truth of the threat or penalty was destroyed. The truth of God in His threatening, or in the penalty of the breach of His law, is not affected by the deliverance of those saved by the Gospel. The penalty and the precept are fulfilled in Jesus Christ the surety. While God pardons, He by no means clears the guilty. His people are absolved, because they are righteous; they have fulfilled the law, and suffered its penalty, in the death and obedience of Jesus Christ, with whom they are one. The object of the Apostle, then, was to undeceive the Jew in their vain hope of escape, while they knew themselves to be transgressors. And it equally applies to nominal Christians. It is the most prevalent ground of hope among false professors of Christianity, that God will not be so strict with them as His general threatening declares, because of their relation to Him as His professed people.

Romans 2:3

And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Thinkest thou. — This question evidently implies that the Jews did think they would escape, while they committed the very sins for which they believed the heathens would be condemned. This affords a key to the meaning of the foregoing phrase, according to truth, which implies the contrary of this, namely, that all will be punished according to the truth of the threatening or penalty. Escape. — This expression imports three things: first, that the Jew could not avoid being judged; second, that he could not avoid being condemned; and third, that he could not prevent the execution of the sentence that God will pronounce. We may decline the jurisdiction of men, or even, when condemned by them, escape from their hands, and elude the execution of their sentence; but all must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ; all must be judged according to their works; and all who are not written in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire.

We may here observe how prone men are to abuse, to their own destruction, those external advantages which God bestows on them. God had separated the Jews from the Gentiles, to manifest Himself unto them; and, by doing so, He had exalted them above the rest of the world, to whom He had not vouchsafed the same favor. The proper and legitimate use of this superiority would have been to distinguish themselves from the Gentiles by a holy life. But instead of this, owing to a fatal confidence which they placed in this advantage, they committed the same sins as the Gentiles, and plunged into the same excesses. By this means, what they considered as an advantage became a snare to them; for wherein they judged others, they condemned themselves. We may likewise remark how much self-love blinds and betrays men into false judgments. When all the question was respecting the Gentiles, the Jews judged correctly, and conformably to Divine justice; but when the question is respecting themselves, although they were equal in guilt, they would not admit that they were equally the subjects of condemnation.

Romans 2:4

Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Goodness. — This is the best translation of the word. Mr. Tholuck says that it signifies love in general. But the idea expressed is more general than love. An object of goodness may be very unworthy of being an object of love. A distinction must be made between goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering. Goodness imports the benefits which God hath bestowed on the Jews. Forbearance denotes God’s bearing with them, without immediately executing vengeance — His delaying to punish them. It signifies the toleration which He had exercised towards them after extending to them His goodness; so that this term implies their ingratitude after having received the benefits which God had bestowed, notwithstanding which He had continued the course of His goodness.

Long-suffering signifies the extent of that forbearance during many ages, denoting a degree of patience still unexhausted. Their sins were not immediately visited with the Divine displeasure, as would be the case in the government of men. The term goodness respects their first calling, which was purely gratuitous, De 7:7. Forbearance respects what had passed after their calling, when, on different occasions, the people having offended God, He had, notwithstanding, restrained His wrath, and had not consumed them. It is this that David celebrates in Ps 103:10, and Ps 106. Long-suffering adds something more to forbearance; for it respects a long course of ingratitude and sins on the part of that people, and imports an extreme degree of patience on the part of God, — a patience which many ages, and a vast accumulation of offenses, had not exhausted. The Apostle calls all this the riches of His goodness, and long-suffering, and forbearance, to mark the greatness of their extent, their value and abundance, and to excite admiration in beholding a God all-powerful, who has no need of any of His creatures, and is infinitely exalted above them, striving for so long a period with an unrighteous, ungrateful, rebellious, and stiff-necked people, but striving with them by His goodness and patience. This language is also introduced to correct the false judgments of men on this patience of God; for they are apt, on this account, to imagine that there is no God. If, say they, God existed, He would not endure the wicked. They suppose that God does not exercise His providence in the government of the world, since He does not immediately punish their sins. To repress these impious thoughts, the Apostle holds forth this manner of God’s procedure as the riches of goodness and patience, in order that the impunity which it appears that sinners enjoy, might not be attributed to any wrong principle. Or despisest thou. — God’s goodness is despised when it is not improved as a means to lead men to repentance, but, on the contrary, serves to harden them, from the supposition thatGod entirely overlooks their sin.

The Jews despised that goodness; for the greatest contempt that could be shown to it was to shut the ear against its voice, and to continue in sin.

This is acting as if it were imagined that the justice which lingers in its execution has no existence, and that it consists solely in empty threats.

The interrogations of the Apostle in this and the preceding verse add much force to his discourse. Thinkest thou, says he, that thou canst avoid the judgment of God? By this he marks the erroneousness and folly of such a thought. Despisest thou the riches of His goodness? This is added to indicate the greatness of the crime. Not knowing. — There is no necessity, with Professors Tholuck and Stuart, to translate this ‘not acknowledging.’ The thing itself the Jews did not know, and the bulk of those called Christians are equally ignorant of it.

The whole of the Old Testament was sufficiently clear on this point, but the Jews excluded the light it furnished. They did so by the presumptuous opinion they entertained of their own external righteousness, in which they made the essence of holiness to consist, imagining that by it they would obtain acceptance with God. They likewise did so by the confidence they placed in the promises that God had made to Abraham and his posterity, flattering themselves with the vain thought that these promises acquired for them a right of impunity in their sins. And, finally, they did so by the gross error into which they had fallen, that the sacrifices and other legal expiations were sufficient to procure the pardon of their sins. By reason of these delusive prejudices they remained in their state of corruption, and did not penetrate farther into the design of God, who, by lavishing on them so much goodness, loudly called them to repentance. Leadeth thee to repentance. — It has been already remarked that the Apostle said nothing like this when speaking in the first chapter respecting the Gentiles. He did not ascribe to God either goodness, or forbearance, or long-suffering in regard to them. He did not say that God invited, or called, or led them to repentance. This shows, as has also been observed, that in the dispensation of providence which regarded them, there was no revelation of mercy. But if there was none for the Gentiles, it was otherwise with the Jews. The Old Testament contained in substance all the promises of the Gospel, as well as the temporal covenant which God had made with the Jews, which was a figure and type of the spiritual covenant made in Christ; and even all the rigors of the law indirectly conducted the Jews to the grace of God, and consequently called them to repentance. This call was all along accompanied among some of them by the spirit of sanctification, as appears by the example of the prophets and others. But with respect to the greater number, it remained unaccompanied with that spirit, and consequently continued to be merely an external calling, without any saving effect. The Apostle, in the following verse, declares that the Jews by their impenitence drew down upon themselves the just anger of God. From this it evidently follows that God externally calls many to whom He has not purposed to give the grace of conversion.

It also follows that it cannot be said that when God thus externally calls persons on whom it is not His purpose to bestow grace, His object is only to render them inexcusable. For if that were the case, the Apostle would not have spoken of the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, — terms which would not be applicable, if, by such a call, it was intended merely to render men inexcusable.

Romans 2:5

But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.

The Apostle here intimates that the contempt which the Jews had evinced of the Divine calling could not remain unpunished. Thy hardness. — This is a figurative expression, and strongly expresses the natural obduracy and insensibility of their hearts with respect to God, as impenetrable by the strongest external force. Nothing but the power of the Spirit of God can overcome it. It is the term which Moses often employs to express the obstinacy of Pharaoh. He also employs it to mark the corruption of the Israelites; and, in general, the Prophets use it to signify the inflexible perversity of sinners. It is in this sense that Ezekiel attributes to man a heart of stone, — a heart which does not feel, and which nothing in man himself can soften. These passages, and many similar ones, denote an inclination to wickedness so strong and so rooted, that it has entire possession of the man and of all the powers of the soul, without his being able to undeceive himself, and to turn to God. It is this also which is marked by the expression impenitent heart; for it does not refer merely to the act of impenitence, and to the heart being in that state at present, but to the fact of its being so enslaved to sin, that it never would or could repent. Dr. Macknight, while he admits that the word literally signifies ‘cannot repent,’ most erroneously adds, ‘here it signifies, which does not repent.’ The greatness of this obduracy was made manifest by the number and force of the external invitations which God had employed to lead the Jews to repentance, and which the Apostle calls His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering; for these invitations refer to the frequent and earnest exhortations of His word, His temporal favors, the afflictions and the chastisements He had sent, and all His other dispensations towards the Jewish people, respecting which it is said, ‘What could have been done more to My vineyard that I have not done in it?’ Isa 5:4; and again, ‘I have spread out My hands all the day unto a rebellious people,’ Isa 65:2. When men remain inflexible under such calls, it is the indication of an awful obduracy, of a heart steeled and shut up in impenitence. Such was the state of the Jews. This passage is explicit in opposition to all who suppose that God employs nothing for men’s conversion but the efficacy of His word, accompanied with other circumstances calculated to make an impression on their minds. Without the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit, these will always prove ineffectual. Thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath. — This is a strong expression, and a beautiful figure. It proves that sins will be punished according to their accumulation. A man is rich according to his treasures. The wicked will be punished according to the number and aggravation of their sins. Dr.

Macknight makes the whole beauty and energy of the expression to evaporate, when he explains it as comprehending the thing referred to by an Hebraistic extension of meaning. There are two treasures, which Paul opposes to each other, — that of goodness, of forbearance, and long-suffering, — and that of wrath; and the one may be compared to the other. The one provides and amasses blessings for the creature, the other punishments; the one invites to heaven, the other precipitates to hell; the one looks on sin to pardon it on repentance, the other regards obstinate continuance to punish it, and avenge favors that are despised. God alone prepares the first, but man himself the second; and on this account the Apostle says, ‘Thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath.’ He had just before ascribed to the Jew a hard and impenitent heart, — expressions which, as we have seen, signify an entire and settled inclination to evil, a corruption which nothing in man can overcome. He adds, that by this means he treasures up wrath. This is very far, then, from countenancing the opinion of those who say that if men were absolutely and entirely unable to convert themselves, they would be excusable, and that God could not justly require of them repentance. Such is not the doctrine of the Apostle Paul, which, on the contrary, teaches that the more a man is hardened in crime, the more he becomes an object of Divine justice and wrath. The reason is, that this want of power has its seat in the will itself, and in the heart, and that it consists in an extreme degree of wickedness and perversity, for which there can be no excuse. Against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. — That is, the day of the last judgment, which is called the day of wrath, because then the wrath of God will display itself upon the wicked without measure. Till that day the judgments of heavenly justice remain, as it were, concealed and covered under the veil of Divine patience; and till then the sins of men are treasured up as in a heap, and punishment is awaiting them. But on that day, the coming of which is plainly declared in the Scriptures, but which will then be actually revealed, a deluge of wrath will descend upon the wicked. It is called the day of the righteous judgment of God, namely, of the display of His strict justice; for judgment will then be laid to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place. It will therefore be the day of the execution of the justice of God; for it is in its execution that it will be fully made manifest.

When the Apostle speaks here of the day of wrath, and of God’s righteous judgment, he refers to the judgment of those who are under the law. There is no judgment of God which is not according to strict justice; there is none that is a judgment of mercy. Mercy and justice are irreconcilable except in Christ, in whom mercy is exercised consistently with justice. There is no judgment that admits repentance and amendment of life as satisfactory to justice. Repentance and amendment are not admitted to stand in the room of righteousness. It is a truth to which there is no exception, either with respect to God or man, that righteous judgment admits no mercy. The acquittal of the believer in that day will be as just as the condemnation of the sinner. It will be the day in which God, by Jesus Christ, will judge the world in righteousness, according to the strict rules of justice, Ac 17:31, in which none will be acquitted except those whom the Lord, in His representation of the judgment, calls the ‘righteous,’ Mt 25:37-46; and He calls them righteous because they are really so in Christ Jesus. But the judgment to which the Apostle here refers, which he characterizes as the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, is that of the execution of unmingled wrath upon the wicked. He is not speaking of believers who are in Christ, but of those who are under the law, before which nothing but perfect and personal conformity to all its demands can subsist; ‘for as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ All the sins of such persons will be punished, but especially those of obstinacy and contempt which shall have been shown towards the goodness and patience of God; for what the Apostle is here aiming at, is to convince the Jews that it is to that judgment those will be remitted who reject the grace manifested to them.

Romans 2:6

Who will render to every man according to his deeds.

God, as the sovereign judge of men, receives from them their good and evil actions. These He takes from their hands, so to speak, such as they are, and places them to their account, whether they are to His glory or dishonor. Sinners do not calculate upon this righteous procedure. They commit sin without thinking of God, and without considering that He remembers all their actions. There is, however, an invisible hand which is treasuring up all that a man thinks all that he says, and all that he does; not the least part is lost; all is laid up in the treasury of justice. Then, after God has thus received all, He will also restore all, — He will cause to descend again upon men what they have made to ascend to Him. To every man. — The judgment will be particular to every individual; every one will have to answer for himself This judgment of those who are under the law will not receive either an imputation of good or of bad works of one to another, as the judgment of those who are under grace receives for them the merits of Jesus Christ; but every one of the former shall answer for his own proper works. According to his deeds. — That is to say, either according to his righteousness, if any were found in himself righteous, which will not be the case, for all men are sinners, but it will be according to the judgment to require righteousness, — or it will be according to his sins, — in one word, according as every one shall be found either righteous or unrighteous. This signifies also that there will be a diversity of punishment, according to the number or greatness of the sins of each individual, not only as to the nature, but also the degree, of their works, good or bad; for the punishment of all will not be equal, Mt 11:22,24; Lu 12:47-48. There will not, however, as the Pharisees imagined, and as many nominal Christians suppose, be two accounts for each person, the one of his good works, the other of his sins, — the judgment being favorable or unfavorable to him according as the one or the other predominates; for there will be no balancing of this sort.12. ‘According to his deeds,’ means that, in the judgment, God will have no regard either to descent or to birth, either to the dignity or quality of the person, — or whether he were Jew or Gentile, as to the privileges he enjoyed, or any such thing, which might counteract justice, or turn it from its course; but that it will regard solely the works of each individual, and that their deeds will comprehend everything that is either obedience or disobedience to the law of God. The judgment of the great day will be to all men according to their works. The works of those who shall be condemned will be the evidence that they are wicked. The works of believers will not be appealed to as the cause of their acquittal, but as the evidence of their union with Christ, on account of which they will be pronounced righteous, for in them the law has been fulfilled in their Divine surety.


12. This most erroneous sentiment, in direct opposition to the word of God, is maintained by Dr. Macknight. See his note on Ro 4:3 afterwards quoted.

Romans 2:7

To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.

Patient continuance in well-doing. — This well expresses the sense of the original. It signifies perseverance in something arduous. It is not mere continuance, but continuance in doing or suffering something that tries patience. The word is used to signify perseverance, patience, endurance, — a perseverance with resistance to all that opposes, namely, to all temptations, all snares, all persecutions, and, in general, to all that could discourage or divert from it, in however small a degree. It is not meant that any man can produce such a perseverance in good works, for there is only one, Jesus Christ, who can glory in having wrought out a perfect righteousness. He alone is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. But here the Apostle only declares what the Divine judgment will demand according to the law, to which the Jews were adhering for justification before God, and rejecting that righteousness which He has provided in the Gospel. He marks what the law will require for the justification of man, in order to conclude from it, as he does in the sequel, that none can be justified in this way, because are guilty. This shows how ignorantly the Church of Rome seeks to draw from this passage a proof of the merit of works, and of justification by works, since it teaches a doctrine the very contrary; for all that the Apostle says in this chapter is intended to show the necessity of another mode of justification than that of the law, namely, by grace, which the Gospel sets before us through faith in Jesus Christ, according to which God pardons sins, as the Apostle afterwards shows in the third chapter. To pretend, then, to establish justification by works, and the merit of works, by what is said here, is directly to oppose the meaning and reasoning of the Apostle. Seek for glory, and honor, and immortality. — Glory signifies a state brilliant and illustrious, and honor the approbation and praise of God, which, with immortality, designate the blessings of eternal life. These God would, without doubt, confer in consequence of perseverance in good works, but which cannot be obtained by the law. Here we see a condemnation of that opinion which teaches that a man should have no motive in what he does in the service of God but the love of God. The love of God, indeed, must be the predominant motive, and without it no action is morally good. But it is not the only motive. The Scriptures everywhere address men’s hopes and fears, and avail themselves of every motive that has a tendency to influence the human heart. The principles of human nature have God for their author, and are all originally right. Sin has given them a wrong direction. Of the expressions, glory and honor, Dr.

Macknight gives the following explanations: — ’Glory is the good fame which commonly attends virtuous actions, but honor is the respect paid to the virtuous person himself by those who have intercourse with him.’

According to this interpretation, those who are seeking for immortality and eternal life are seeking for the favor and respect of men! Eternal life. — The Apostle does not say that God will render salvation, but ‘eternal life.’ The truth declared in this verse, and in those that follow, is the same as that exhibited by our Lord when the rich young man asked Him, ‘What good thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ His reply was, ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,’ Mt 19:16; and when the lawyer, tempting Him, said, ‘Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? ‘Jesus answered, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself,’ Lu 10:25. The verse before us, then, which declares that eternal life shall be awarded to those who seek it by patient continuance in well-doing, and who, according to Ro 2:10, work good, both of which announce the full demand of the law, are of the same import with Ro 2:13, which affirms that the doers of the law shall be justified. In all these verses the Apostle is referring to the law, and not, as it is generally understood, to the Gospel. It would have been obviously calculated to mislead the Jews, with whom Paul was reasoning, to set before them in this place personal obedience as the way to eternal life, which, in connection with what he had said on repentance, would tend directly to lead them to mistake his meaning on that subject. But besides this, if these verses refer to the Gospel, they break in upon and disturb the whole train of his reasoning, from Ro 1:18 to Ro 3:20, where he arrives at his conclusion, that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God. Paul was afterwards to declare the way of justification, as he does, Ro 3:21,26, immediately after he drew the above conclusion; but till then, his object was to exhibit, both to Jews and Gentiles, the impossibility of obtaining justification by any works of their own, and, by convincing them of this, to lead them to the grace of the Gospel. In conversing with the late Mr. Robert Hall at Leicester, respecting the Epistle to the Romans, he remarked to me that this passage had always greatly perplexed him, as it seemed to be not only aside from, but even opposed to what appeared, from the whole context, to be the drift of the Apostle; and I believe that every one who supposes that the Apostle is here referring to the Gospel will experience a similar difficulty.

I know that the view here given of these verses is contrary to that of almost all the English commentaries on this Epistle. I have consulted a great number of them, besides those of Calvin, and Beza, and Maretz, and the Dutch annotations, and that of Quesnel, all of which, with one voice, explain Ro 2:7 and Ro 2:10 as referring to the Gospel.

The only exception that I am aware of among the English commentaries is that of Mr. Fry, who, in his exposition of the 16th verse, remarks as follows: — ’He (the Apostle) introduces this statement of the certainty of a judgment to come, of the universal guilt and inevitable condemnation of mankind in the course of justice, in order to show the universal necessity of a Savior, and of that righteousness which was of God by faith. And it seems altogether extraordinary that some expositors should concede the above account of the last judgment to include a description of the Redeemer’s bestowing the reward of the inheritance upon His people, and that of such the Apostle speaks when he says, “To them that, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek glory, honor, and immortality, eternal life;” “Glory, honor, and peace, to every one that doeth good.” For most assuredly this is not the language of the righteousness of faith, but the exact manner of speaking which the Apostle ascribes to the righteousness of the law. To the same purpose Mr. Marshall, in his work on The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, 14th edit., p. 94, observes, ‘They grossly pervert these words of Paul, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, eternal life,” where they will have Paul to be declaring the terms of the Gospel, when he is evidently declaring the terms of the law, to prove that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, and that no flesh can be justified by the works of the law, as appeareth by the tenor of the following discourse.’

I have noticed that from this passage the Church of Rome endeavors to establish the merit of works, and of justification by means of works.

Accordingly, Quesnel, a Roman Catholic, in expounding the 6th verse, exclaims, ‘Merites veritables; necessite des bonnes oeuvres. Ce sont nos actions bonnes ou mauvaises qui rendent doux ou severe le jugement de Dieu!’ ‘Real merits; necessity of good works. They are our good or bad actions which render the judgment of God mild or severe!’ And indeed, were the usual interpretation of this and the three following verses the just one, it must be confessed that this Romanist would have some ground for his triumph. But if we take the words in their plain and obvious import, and understand the Apostle in this place as announcing the terms of the law, in order to prove to the Jews the necessity of having recourse to grace, and of yielding to the goodness and forbearance of God, leading them to repentance, while he assures them that ‘not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified,’ then the whole train of his discourse is clear and consistent. On the other supposition, it appears confused and self contradictory, and calculated not merely to perplex, but positively to mislead, and to strengthen the prejudices of those who were going about to establish their own righteousness. For in whatever way these expressions may with certain explanations and qualifications be interpreted in an evangelical sense, yet unquestionably, as taken by themselves, and especially in the connection in which they stand in this place, they present the same meaning as is announced in Ro 2:13, where the Apostle declares that the doers of the law shall be justified.

Romans 2:8

But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath.

Paul here describes the wicked by three characteristics. Their first characteristic is, that they are contentious; that is, rebellious, and murmurers against the Divine laws, quarrelers with God, and indicating their natural enmity against God by disapproving of His government or authority. The second is, rebels against the truth; that is to say, in revolt and at open war against what is true and right concerning God and His will as made known to them, and as opposed to unrighteousness, which God abhors. The third is, obedient to unrighteousness; that is, revolting against what is good, and becoming slaves to what is evil. Here a striking contrast is indicated between that contentious spirit which disobeys the truth, and yet obeys unrighteousness. The one denotes an extraordinary haughtiness, and an exceeding boldness; and the other, extreme meanness and servility of soul. They who do not choose to serve God as their legitimate sovereign, become the slaves of a master who is both a tyrant and usurper. Indignation and wrath. — These two terms united, mark the greatness of the wrath of God, proportioned to the dignity of the sovereign Judge of the world, to the authority of those eternal laws which have been violated, to the majesty of the legislator by whom they have been promulgated, to the favors which sinners have received from Him, and proportioned also to the unworthiness and meanness of the creature compared with God.

Although, when human passions are ascribed to God, we must not suppose that He is affected as we are, yet the expressions employed here show that God will certainly punish the wicked. The Scriptures represent God in the character of a just judge, as well as of a merciful father. The flattering doctrine which insinuates the hope of the final universal happiness of transgressors, both of devils and men, is altogether without countenance from Scripture. The word of God contains the most awful denunciations of the Divine wrath. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Yet some writers lead sinners to hope that the character of God will secure them from punishment.

Romans 2:9

Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.

Tribulation and anguish. — These two terms denote the punishment, as the indignation and wrath designate the principle on which the condemnation proceeds. They also designate the greatness of the punishment. Upon every soul of man. — This universality is intended to point to the vain expectations of the Jews, that they would be exempt from that punishment, and assists in determining the import of the phrase ‘according to truth’ in Ro 2:2, meaning what is just. It signifies, too, the whole man, for it must not be imagined that the wicked do not also suffer in their body. Jesus Christ says expressly that they shall come forth unto the resurrection of damnation. This refutes the opinion of Socinian heretics and others, who insist that the punishment of the wicked will consist in an entire annihilation both of body and soul. The terms ‘tribulation and anguish’ signify a pain of sensation, and consequently suppose the subsistence of the subject. That doeth evil. — The word in the original designates evil workers, as persons who practice wickedness habitually. The connection of punishment with sin is according to the order of Divine justice; for it is just that those who have offended infinite Majesty should receive the retribution of their wickedness. It is likewise according to the denunciation of the law, whether it is viewed as given externally by the word, or as engraved internally in the conscience of every man, for it threatens punishment to transgressors. Of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile (literally Greek). — In this place, ‘the Jew first’ must mean the Jew principally, and implies that the Jew is more accountable than the Gentile, and will be punished according to his superior light; for as the Jew will have received more than the Gentile, he will also be held more culpable before the Divine tribunal, and will consequently be more severely punished. His privileges will aggravate his culpability, and increase his punishment. ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities,’ Am 3:2; Mt 11:22; Lu 12:47. But although the judgment will begin with the Jew, and on him be more heavily executed, it will not terminate with him, but will be also extended to the Gentile, who will be found guilty, though not with the same aggravation.

Romans 2:10

But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.

Glory, honor, and peace. — Glory, as has already been observed, refers to the state of blessedness to which those who shall inherit eternal life will be admitted; honor, to the praise and approbation of God, to which is here added peace. Peace is a state of confirmed joy and prosperity. As added to glory and honor, it may appear feeble as a climax, but in reality it has all the value that is here ascribed to it. No blessing can be enjoyed without it.

What would glory and honor be without peace? What would they be if there was a possibility of falling from the high dignity, or of being afterwards miserable? To every man that worketh good. — Happiness, by the established order of things, is here asserted to be the inseparable consequence of righteousness, so that virtue should never be unfruitful; and he who had performed what is his duty, if any such could be found, should enjoy rest and satisfaction. This is also according to the declaration of the Divine law; for if, on the one hand, it threatens transgressors, on the other, it promises good to those who observe it. ‘The man that doeth them shall live in them,’ Ga 3:12. Since, then, no righteous man could be disappointed of the fruit of his righteousness, it may, in consequence, be asked if any creature who had performed his duty exactly would merit anything from God? To this it is replied, that the infinite majesty of God, which admits of no proportion between Himself and the creature, absolutely excludes all idea of merit. For God can never be laid under any obligation to His creature; and the creature, who is nothing in comparison of Him, and who, besides, has nothing but what God has given him, can never acquire any claim on his Creator. Whenever God makes a covenant with man, and promises anything, that promise, indeed, engages God on His part, on the ground of His truth and faithfulness ; but it does not so engage Him as to give us any claim of merit upon Him. ‘Who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?’ Romans. Thus, in whatever manner we view it, there can be before God no merit in men; whence it follows that happiness would not be conferred as a matter of right on a man who should be found innocent. It must be said, however, that it would be given by a right of judgment, by which the order and proportion of things is preserved, the majesty of the law of God maintained, and the Divine promises accomplished. But, in awarding life and salvation to him who has the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, God is both faithful and just, on account of the infinite merit of His Son. To the Jew first, and also to the Greek. — When glory and honor are promised to the Jew first, it implies that he had walked according to his superior advantages, and of course would be rewarded in proportion; while the Gentile, in his degree, would not be excluded.

Romans 2:11

For there is no respect of persons with God.

Whatever difference of order there may be between the Jew and the Gentile, that difference does not change the foundation and substance of the judgment. To have respect to the appearance of persons, or to accept of persons, is the vice of an iniquitous judge, who in some way violates justice; but the Divine judgment cannot commit such a fault. Besides, we must never lose sight of the train of the Apostle’s reasoning. His design is to show that the Jews, being, as they really are, sinners equally with the Gentiles, are involved with them in the same condemnation. This is what he proves by the nature of the Divine judgment, which is according to truth, that is, which is perfectly just, Ro 2:2; which renders to every man according to his deeds, Ro 2:6; and which has no respect of persons, Ro 2:11; and consequently it will be equal to the Jew and the Gentile, so that neither the one nor the other can defend himself against its sentence.

The declaration that God has no respect of persons is frequently quoted as militating against the doctrine of election; but it has no bearing on the subject. It relates to men’s character, and God’s judgment according to character. Every man will be judged according to his works. This, however, does not say that God may not choose some eternally to life, and give them faith, and create them unto good works, according to which, as evidences that they belong to Christ, they shall be judged. God’s sovereign love to the elect is manifested in a way that not only shows Him to be just in their justification, but also true to His declaration with respect to the future judgment. The assertion of the Apostle in this place is a truth of great importance, not only with respect to the Jews, but also with respect to the professors of Christianity, many of whom fancy that there is a sort of favoritism in the judgment of God, that will overlook in some what is in others accounted condemnatory.

Romans 2:12

For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.

Here Paul explains the equality of the judgment, both with respect to the Gentiles and the Jews. Without law, that is, a written law; for none are without law, as the Apostle immediately afterwards shows. The Gentiles had not received the written law; they had, however, sinned, and they shall perish — that is to say, be condemned — without that law. The Jews had receded the written law; they had also sinned, they will be judged — that is to say condemned — by that law; for in the next verse Paul declares that only the doers of the law shall be justified; and consequently, as condemnation stands opposed to justification, they who are not doers of it will be condemned. In one word, the Divine justice will only regard the sins of men; and wherever these are found, it will condemn the sinner. The Gentiles shall perish without law. They will perish, though they are not to be judged by the written law. It is alleged by some, that although the Apostle’s language shows that all the Gentiles are guilty before God, yet it does not imply that they will be condemned; for that they may he guilty, yet be saved by mercy through Jesus Christ. But the language of the Apostle entirely precludes the possibility of such a supposition. It is not said that they who have sinned without law are guilty without law, but that they shall ‘perish without law.’ The language, then, does not merely assert their guilt, but clearly asserts their condemnation. They shall perish.

No criticism can make this expression consistent with the salvation of the Gentiles who know not God. They will be condemned by the work of the law written in their hearts. Many are inclined to think that the condemnation of the heathen is peculiarly hard; but it is equally just, and not more severe, than the punishment of those who have sinned against revelation. They will not be Judged by the light which they had not, nor punished so severely as they who resisted that light.

Romans 2:13

(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

This verse, with the two following, forms a parenthesis between Ro 2:12-16, explanatory of the two propositions contained in Ro 2:12. Some also include Ro 2:11 and Ro 2:12 in the parenthesis. If this mode of punctuation were adopted , Ro 2:13-14, and Ro 2:15 would be a parenthesis within a parenthesis; but for this there is no occasion, as Ro 2:11 and Ro 2:12 connect with the Ro 2:10, and also with Ro 2:16. For not the hearers of the law. — Against what the Apostle had just said concerning the equality of the judgment, two objections might be urged, — the one in favor of the Gentiles, the other in favor of the Jews. The first is, that since God has not given His law to the Gentiles, there can be no place for their condemnation, — for how can they be condemned as transgressors if they have not received a law? The second objection, which is contrary to the first, supposes that the Jews ought to be more leniently treated, since God, who has given them His law, has, by doing so, declared in their favor, and made them His people: He will therefore, without doubt, have a regard for them which He has not for the others, whom he has abandoned. The Apostle obviates both these objections in this and the two following verses, and thus defends his position respecting the equality of the judgment. As for the last of them, which he answers first in Ro 2:13, he says that it is not sufficient for justification before God to have received the law, and simply to be hearers of it; but that it must be observed and reduced to practice. This is an incontestable truth. For the law has not been given as a matter of curiosity or contemplation as a philosophical science, but to be obeyed; and the greatest outrage against the law and the Legislator, is to hear it and not to take heed to practice it.

It will be in vain, therefore, for the Jew to say, I am a hearer of the law, I attend on its services, I belong to the covenant of God, who has given me His testimonies. On all these accounts, being a transgressor, as he is, he must be condemned. The presence of the article before the word law in both the clauses of this verse, which is wanting in the preceding verse, shows that the reference is here to the Jews under the written law. The doers of the law shall be justified. — By this we must understand an exact obedience to the law to be intended, which can defend itself against that declaration, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ For it is not the same with the judgment of the law as with that of grace. The Gospel indeed requires of us a perfect obedience to its commands, yet it not only provides for believers’ pardon of the sins committed before their calling, but of those also which they afterwards commit. But the judgment of the law admits of no indulgence to those who are under it; it demands a full and perfect personal observance of all its requirements — a patient continuance in well-doing, without the least deviation, or the smallest speck of sin; and when it does not find this state of perfection, condemns the man. But did not the law itself contain expiations for sin? and consequently, shall not the judgment which will be passed according to the law, be accompanied with grace and indulgence through the benefit of these expiations? The legal expiations had no virtue in themselves; but inasmuch as they were figures of the expiation made by Jesus Christ, they directed men to His sacrifice. But as they belonged to the temporal or carnal covenant, they neither expiated nor could expiate any but typical sins, that is to say, uncleanness of the flesh, Heb 9:13, which were not real sins, but only external pollutions. Thus, as far as regarded the legal sacrifices, all real sins remained on the conscience, Heb 10:1, for from these the law did not in the smallest degree discharge; whence it follows that the judgment, according to the law, to those who are under it, will be a strict judgment according to law, which pardons nothing. The word justified occurs here for the first time in this Epistle, and being introduced in connection with the general judgment, means being declared just or righteous by a judicial sentence.

Romans 2:14

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

For. — This is the proper translation of the Greek particle, and not therefore according to Dr. Macknight, who entirely misunderstands both the meaning of the passage itself, and the connection in which it stands, and founds upon it a doctrine opposed to all that is contained on the subject, both in the Old Testament and the New. This verse has no connection with, or dependence whatever on, the foregoing, as is generally supposed, but connects with the first clause of Ro 2:12, which it explains.

Together with the following verse, it supplies the answer to the objection that might be made to what is contained in the beginning of that verse, namely, that God cannot justly condemn the Gentiles, since He has not given them a law. To this the Apostle here replies, that though they have not an external and written law, as that which God gave to the Israelites, they have, however, the law of the conscience, which is sufficient to establish the justice of their condemnation. This is the meaning of that proposition, having not a law, are a law unto themselves; and of that other, which show the work of the law written in their hearts; by which he also establishes the justice of what he had said in Ro 2:12, that as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law. He proves it in two ways: 1st , Because they do naturally the things that the law requires, which shows that they have a law in themselves, since they sometimes act according to its rule; 2nd , He proves it by their not being devoid of a conscience, since, according to its decisions, they accuse or excuse one another. This evidently shows that they have a law, the work of which is written in their hearts, by which they discern the difference between right and wrong — what is just, and what is unjust.

They who have not a law, — that is, an externally written law, — do by nature the things contained in the law. It could not be the Apostle’s intention to assert that the heathens in general, or that any one of them, kept the law written in the heart, when the contrary had been proved in the preceding chapter; but they did certain things, though imperfectly, commanded by the law, which proved that they had, by their original constitution, a discernment of the difference between right and wrong.

They did nothing, however, in the manner which the law required, that is, from the only motive that makes an action good, namely, a spirit of obedience, and of love to God. God governs the world in this way. He rules the actions of men and beasts by the instincts and affections which He has implanted in them. Every good action that men perform by nature, they do by their constitution, not from respect to the authority of God.

That the Pagans do many things that, as to the outward act, are agreeable to the law of God, is obviously true, and should not be denied. That they do anything acceptable to God is not true, and is not here asserted.

Romans 2:15

Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.

The work of the law. — We have here a distinction between the law itself, and the work of the law. The work of the law is the thing that the law doeth, — that is, what it teaches about actions, as good or bad. This work, or business, or office of the law, is to teach what is right or wrong. This, in some measure, is taught by the light of nature in the heart of every man.

There remains, then, in all men, to a certain degree, a discernment of what the law requires, designated here the ‘work’ of the law; the performance or neglect of which is followed by the approbation or disapprobation of the conscience. It has no relation to the authority of the lawgiver, as the principle of the law itself; but solely to the distinction between actions, as right or wrong in themselves, and the hope of escaping future punishment, or of obtaining future reward. The love and the reverential fear of God, which are the true principles of obedience, have been effaced from the mind; but a degree of knowledge of His justice, and the consciousness that the violations of His law deserve and will be followed by punishment, have been retained. Written in their hearts. — This is an allusion to the law written by the finger of God upon tables of stone, and afterwards recorded in the Scriptures. The great principles of this law were communicated to man in his creation, and much of it remains with him in his fallen state. This natural light of the understanding is called the law written in the heart, because it is imprinted on the mind by the Author of creation, and is God’s work as much as the writing on the tables of stone. Conscience witnessing together, — together with the law written in the heart. But it may be asked, Are not these two things the same? They are not. They are different principles. Light, or knowledge of duty, is one thing, and conscience is another. Knowledge shows what is right, — the conscience approves of it, and condemns the contrary. We might suppose a being to have the knowledge of duty, without the principle that approves of it, and blames the transgression. Their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing between one another. — Not alternately, nor in turn. Their reasoning’s (not thoughts) between one another, condemning, or else defending. What is the object of their condemnation or defense? Not themselves, but one another; that is, those between whom the reasoning’s take place. The reference evidently is to the fact that, in all places, in all ages, men are continually, in their mutual intercourse, blaming or excusing human conduct. This supposes a standard of reference, — a knowledge of right and wrong. No man could accuse and condemn another, if there were not some standard of right and wrong; and no man could defend an action without a similar standard. This is obviously the meaning of the Apostle. To these ideas of right and wrong are naturally joined the idea of God, who is the sovereign Judge of the world, and that of rewards and punishments, which will follow either good or bad actions. These ideas do not fail to present themselves to the sinner, and inspire fear and inquietude. But as, on the other hand, self-love and corruption reign in the heart, these come to his support, and strive, by vain reasonings, to defend or to extenuate the sin. The Gentiles, then, however depraved, lost, and abandoned, and however destitute of the aid of the written law, are, notwithstanding, a law to themselves, having the law written in their hearts. They have still sufficient light to discern between good and evil, virtue and vice, honesty and dishonesty; and their conscience enables them sufficiently to make that distinction, whether before committing sin, or in the commission of it, or after they have committed it. Besides this, remorse on account of their crimes reminds them that there is a God, a Judge before whom they must appear to render account to Him of their actions. They are, then, a law to themselves; they have the work of the law written in their hearts.

That the knowledge of the revealed law of God has not been preserved in every nation, is, however, entirely to be attributed to human depravity; and if it was restored to one nation for the benefit of others, it must be ascribed to the goodness of God. The law of God, and the revelation respecting the Messiah, had been delivered to all men after the flood by Noah, who was a preacher of the everlasting righteousness, 2Pe 2:5, which was to be brought in, to answer the demands of that law. But all the nations of the earth had lost the remembrance of it, not liking to retain God in their knowledge. God again discovered it to the Jews in that written revelation with which they were favored. If it he asked, Why was the law vouchsafed in this manner to that nation and not also to the Gentiles? Paul explains this mystery, ch. 11: It is sufficient then to say that God has willed to make known, by this abandonment, how great and dreadful was the fall of the human race, and by that means one day to magnify the glory of the grace which He purposed to bestow on men by Jesus Christ. He willed to leave a great part of men a prey to Satan, to show how great is His abhorrence of sin, and how great was the wrath which our disobedience had kindled against the world. But why did He not also abandon the Jews? Because He chose to leave some ray of hope in the world, and it pleased Him to lay the foundation of redemption by His Son.

But why was the greater part abandoned? Because then was the time of Divine wrath and justices and sin must be allowed to abound that grace might super abound. Why, in fine, choose the nation of the Jews rather than any other nation? Because, without any further reason, it was the sovereign good pleasure of God.

Romans 2:16

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

This verse is to be construed in connection with the 12th, to the contents of which the three intermediate verses had given, in a parenthesis, the explanatory answers. In the day when God shall judge. — It is here assumed by the Apostle that God is the Judge of the world. This is a truth which nature and right reason teach. Since intelligent creatures are capable of obedience to law, it necessarily follows that they have a judge, for the law would be null and void if it were left as a dead letter, without a judge to put it in execution. And as there is a law common to the whole human race, it must also be admitted that there is a common Judge. Now this Judge of all can only be God, for it is only God who possesses all the qualifications for such an office. The Apostle likewise assumes that there will be a day when God will hold this judgment. This is also a truth conformable to right reason, for there must be a fired time for rendering public the decrees of justice, otherwise it would not be duly honored, since its honor consists in being recognized to be what it is before all creatures.

If, then, there were only individual judgments, either in this life or at death, justice would not be manifested as it ought to be. Hence it follows that there must be a public and solemn day in which God will execute judgment before the assembled universe. Besides, the Apostle here intimates that there will be an end to the duration of the world, and the succession of generations; for if there be a day appointed for a universal judgment, it follows that all men must there appear. And if such be the case, their number must also be determined, while, without a single exception, the time of their calling and of their life must terminate, so that the succession of generations must come to an end. The secrets of men. — It is not here meant that God will judge only their secrets, so that their public and known actions should pass without being judged; for there is nothing that God does not judge. But it is intended to show with what exactness the judgment will proceed, since it takes account of things the most secret and the most concealed. It will not resemble the judgment of men, which cannot fathom the hearts and thoughts. God will not only take cognizance of external, but also of internal actions, and will discover even the inmost thoughts of men. All actions, then, whether open or secret, will come into judgment; but secrets or hidden things are here said to be judged, because they are reached by no other judgment. If men can conceal their evil deeds, they are safe from human judgment. Not so with respect to the Judge at the great day. The most secret sins will then be manifested and punished. By Jesus Christ. — God will carry into effect that judgment by Jesus Christ. ‘He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained,’ Ac 17:31. Jesus Christ will conduct the judgment, not only as it respects believers, but also the wicked. If the secrets of men are to be brought into judgment, and if Jesus Christ is to be the Judge, He must be the Searcher of hearts, Ac 1:24; Re 2:23. He must then be truly God.

In the economy of Jesus Christ there are two extreme degrees, one of abasement, the other of exaltation. The lowest degree of His abasement was His death and burial. The opposite degree of His exaltation will be the last judgment. In the former He received the sentence which condemned Him, and which included in His condemnation the absolution of His people. In the latter He will pronounce the condemnation or absolution of all creatures. In the one, covered over with reproaches, and pierced with the arrows ofDivine justice, He was exposed on the cross as a spectacle to the whole city of Jerusalem, when He cried, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ In the other, arrayed in glory and majesty, He will appear before the whole universe, in the glory of His Father, who commands all the angels to worship Him. According to my Gospel. — Paul calls the Gospel his Gospel, not that he is the author of it, for it is solely from God; but to say that of it he is the minister and herald, — that it is the Gospel which he preached. The Gospel, in a large sense, includes everything revealed by Jesus Christ. The Judgment then shall take place according to the declarations therein contained.

Romans 2:17

Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God.

Here commences the second part of this chapter, where Paul purposes to show that all the external advantages of the Jews over the Gentiles were unavailing for their protection from the just condemnation of God. In the first place, he enumerates all their privileges, on account of which the Jews could exalt themselves above the Gentiles. Afterwards he lays it to their charge that, notwithstanding all these privileges, they were sinners, equally guilty as others. Finally, he shows that, being sinners, as they all were, their advantages would avail them nothing, and would only aggravate their condemnation. Behold, thou art called a Jew. — The Apostle here continues his discourse to the same persons whom, from the commencement of the chapter, he had addressed, and now calls on the Jew by name. In this verse, and the three following, Paul classes the advantages of the Jews under six particulars: 1. Their bearing the name of Jew. 2. Having received the Law. 3. Having the true God as their God. 4. Knowing His will. 5. Discerning what is evil. 6. Their ability to teach and guide other men.

As to the first of these, the name Jew embraces three significations: — confession, praise, and thanksgiving; and by these three things that people was distinguished from all other nations. The Jew alone had been chosen as the confessor of God, while all the rest of the world had abjured His service. The Jew alone was appointed to celebrate His praises, while by others He was blasphemed. The Jew alone was appointed to render thanksgiving to God for multiplied benefits received, while others were passed by. In that name, then, in which the Jews gloried, and which distinguished them from all other nations, and implied all the privileges they enjoyed, they possessed already a signal advantage over the Gentiles. 13. Dr. Macknight and Mr. Stuart prefer surnamed to called; but the name was not exactly what is called a surname. It was the name of a whole people. The word called, or denominated, is more appropriate, for it answers both to their name as a people and to their religion, both of which are comprised in the name Jew. And restest in the law — That is to say, thou hast no occasion to study any other wisdom or philosophy than the law. It is thy wisdom and thy understanding, De 4:6. The term restest signifies two things: the one, that the labor was spared the Jews of employing many years and great endeavors, and traveling to distant countries, as was the case with other nations, in acquiring some knowledge and certain rules of direction.

The law which God had given them rendered this unnecessary, and furnished abundantly all that was required for the regulation of their conduct. The other idea which this term conveys is, that they had an entire confidence in the law as a heavenly and Divine rule which could not mislead them, while the Gentiles could have no reliance on their deceitful philosophy. And makest thy boast of God — Namely, in having Him for their God, and being His people, while the Gentiles, having only false gods, were ‘without God in the world,’ Eph 2:12. The Jews had the true God, the Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, the Lord who had performed glorious miracles in their favor, who had even spoken to them from the midst of fire, for the Author of their calling, for their Deliverer, for their Legislator, for the Founder of their government, and for their King and Protector. His earthly palace was in the midst of them; He had regulated their worship, and caused them to hear His voice. The other nations possessed nothing similar. They had therefore great reason to glory in Him, and on this account David said that in God was his strength and his refuge, Ps 18; 62:7, and Ps 144.


13. The name of Jew was in use before the return from the captivity, for we find it in Jer 32. It appears, then, that it took its rise even from the time of the separation of the ten tribes, for the ten tribes retained that of Israel, and the others that of Judah, the country was called Judea, Ps 76, and the language Jewish, 2Ki 18:26, and Isa 36:11-13; and afterwards the inhabitants Jews, for this name is also found in Da 3:8.

Romans 2:18

And knowest His will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law.

And knowest His will. — That is, what is agreeable to Him, what He requires them to do, what He commands, what He prohibits, what He approves, and what He rewards. The term knowest signifies not a confused knowledge, such as the Gentiles had by the revelation of nature, but a distinct knowledge by the revelation of the word, which the Gentiles did not possess. ‘He showeth His word unto Jacob, His statutes and His judgments unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for His judgments, they have not known them,’ Ps 147:19-20. At the same time, the Apostle does not mean to say that the Jews had a practical knowledge of the will of God, for he immediately accuses them of the contrary. And approvest things that are excellent. — This is the fifth advantage, which follows from the preceding. They knew the will of God, and, knowing that will, they consequently knew what was contrary to it; that is to say, those things which God does not approve, and which He condemns. For the declaration of what God approves includes, in the way of opposition and negation, those things which He does not approve.

From this we learn the perfection of the written law, in opposition to unwritten traditions; for nothing more is needed in order to know the will of God, and to discern what contradicts it. Being instructed out of the law. — This refers to the two preceding articles — to the knowledge of the will of God, and to the discernment of the things that are contrary to it. From their infancy the Jews were instructed in the law.

Romans 2:19

And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,

This is the sixth advantage, depending on those preceding. The law not only instructed the Jews for themselves, but also for others, and in this they held that they enjoyed a great superiority over the other nations. A guide to the blind. — The Gentiles are here called blind, for with all the lights of their philosophy, of their laws and their arts, they were after all blind, since, with the exception of those of true religion, which they did not possess, there is no true saving light in the world. A light of them which are in darkness. — The Rabbis called themselves the light of the world, to which our Lord appears to refer when He gives this title to His Apostles.

Romans 2:20

An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.

An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes. — These titles explain clearly what the others indicate in metaphorical terms, and further exalt the privileges of the Jews. Here we may remark that, although to the Gentiles God had given abundance of temporal good things, all this was still as nothing in comparison of the blessings vouchsafed to the Jews. Which hast the form of knowledge, and of the truth in the law. — This does not signify semblance in contradistinction to substance, for it was the thing of which the Jews boasted. It means the representation or exhibition of truth and summary of knowledge which was contained in the law. The meaning is the same as when we speak of a body of divinity. The Jews considered that they had a body of truth and knowledge in the law. In these expressions, then, truth and knowledge are represented as embodied in a visible form. The Jews had that form in the law, that is to say, the law was to them a form and model, whence they were to take all the true notions of God, of His religion, and of the duty of man, and a rule to which they ought to be referred. In general, from all these advantages which God had so liberally bestowed on the Jews, we may collect that His goodness had been great in not entirely abandoning the human race, but in having still lighted up for it, in a corner of the earth, the lamp of His law, to serve as His witness. His wisdom has not been less conspicuous in having thus prepared the way for the mission of His Son, and the establishment of His Gospel throughout the whole world. For the law was a schoolmaster until the coming of Christ. We also learn that when God does not accompany His external favors with the internal grace of His Holy Spirit, the depravity of man is such, that, instead of turning to God, he multiplies his transgressions, as the Apostle immediately proceeds to show by the example of the Jews. We see, too, how aggravated was their ingratitude in the midst of such distinguished benefits.

Romans 2:21

Thou, therefore, which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

This and the two following verses are in the Vulgate without interrogation, but the ancient interpreters read them with the interrogation. The meaning, in either case, remains the same. After having exalted the advantages of the Jews above the Gentiles with as much force as they could have done themselves, Paul unveils their hypocrisy, and exhibits the vices which were concealed under so fair an exterior He afterwards confirms the whole of his charges by the testimony of Scripture. In this manner he establishes more fully what he had said in the beginning of the chapter, that they condemned themselves, and that they could not hope to escape the just judgment of God, but were accumulating a treasure of wrath. Teachest thou not thyself. — This implies that the Jews did not practice the precepts of their law. It implies that they were practically ignorant of it. Preachest, or proclaimest. — There is no reason to suppose, with Dr. Macknight, that the learned Jews are here the persons addressed. The whole of the Jews are addressed as one person. What is said applies to them as a body, and does not exclusively relate to the scribes and teachers. Should not steal. — The sins here specified were evidently such as were practiced among the Jews. They are not merely supposed cases, or specifications for illustration. It is taken for granted that, as a body, the sins mentioned were very generally chargeable on them. Would the Apostle, addressing the Jews as one man, have asked why they were guilty of such a sin, if they were not very generally guilty of it? Mr. Tholuck, then, has no ground to suppose the contrary.

Romans 2:22

Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?

Oppression of the poor, and adultery, are the crimes with which the Jews were chiefly charged by our Lord. Abhorrest idols. — The Jews now generally abhorred the idolatry to which in the former ages of their history they were so prone, even in its grossest forms. The word in the original signifies to abominate, alluding to things most disagreeable to the senses.

This is according to God’s account of the sin of idolatry. According to human standards of morality, idolatry appears a very innocent thing, or at least not very sinful; but in Scripture it is classed among the works of the flesh, Ga 5:20, and is called ‘abominable,’ 1Pe 4:3. It robs God of His glory, transferring it to the creature. Commit sacrilege. — The word here used literally applies to the robbery of temples, for which the Jews and many opportunities, as well as of appropriating to themselves what was devoted to religion, as is complained of, Ne 13:10; and of robbing God in tithes and offerings, Mal 3:8; also of violating and profaning things sacred.

Romans 2:23

Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law, dishonorest thou God?

The Jews gloried in the law as their great national distinction, yet they were egregiously guilty of breaking it, which was highly inconsistent and dishonorable to God, not merely ‘as God was the author of the law,’ which is the explanation of Mr. Stuart, but because they professed to be God’s people and to glory in His law. In any other light, the breach of the law by the Gentiles, when they knew it to be God’s law, would have been equally dishonorable to God. But God is dishonored by the transgressions of His people, in a manner in which He is not dishonored by the same transgressions in the wicked, who make no profession of being His. It is a great aggravation of the sins of God’s people, if they are the occasion of bringing reproach on His religion. The world is ready to throw the blame on that religion which He has given them; and it is for this that the Apostle, in the following verse, reproaches the Jews in regard to the heathen. Sinners also are thus emboldened to sin with the hope of impunity, and opposers make it a handle to impede the progress of Divine truth.

It appears that in the above three verses the Apostle alludes to what is said, Ps 50:16-21. ‘But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare My statutes, or that thou shouldst take My covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest My words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son. These things hast thou done, and I kept hence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I was reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.’ On this it may be remarked, that the 50th Psalm predicts the change which God was to make in His covenant at the coming of the Messiah, and likewise His rejection of His ancient people. As to the change of the covenant, it was declared that the sacrifices of the law were not acceptable to Him, and that henceforth He will not require from men any other than those of praises, thanksgivings, and prayers, which are the only acceptable worship.

Respecting the rejection of His ancient people, God reproaches them with their crimes, and more especially with hypocrisy, which are precisely the charges made against them in this place by the Apostle. The conclusion from the whole is, that the pretended justification of the Jews by the external advantages of the law was a vain pretense; and that, as they had so vilely abused the law of which they boasted, according to the prediction of the Psalmist, it must follow that the accusation now brought against them was established.

The Apostle, in these verses, exhibits the most lively image of hypocrisy.

Was there ever a more beautiful veil than that under which the Jew presents himself? He is a man of confession, of praise, of thanksgiving; a man whose trust is in the law, whose boast is of God, who knows His will, who approves of things that are excellent; a man who calls himself a conductor of the blind, a light of those who are in darkness, an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of babes; a man who directs others, who preaches against theft, against adultery, against idolatry; and, to sum up the whole, a man who glories in the commandments of the Lord. Who would not say that this is an angel arrayed in human form — a star detached from the firmament and brought nearer to enlighten the earth? But observe what is concealed under this mask. It is a man who is himself untaught; it is a thief, an adulterer, a sacrilegious person, — in one word, a wicked man, who continually dishonors God by the transgression of His law. Is it possible to imagine a contrast more monstrous than between these fair appearances and this awful reality?

Doubtless Paul might have presented a greater assemblage of particular vices prevalent among the Jews, for there were few to which that nation was not addicted. But he deems it sufficient to generalize them all under these charges, — that they did not teach themselves that they dishonored God by their transgressions of the law; and of these vices he has only particularized three, namely, theft, adultery, and sacrilege: and this for two reasons, — first, because it was of these three that God had showed the greatest abhorrence in His law; and, secondly, because these three sins, in spite of all their professions to the contrary, were usual and common among the Jews. There was no people on earth more avaricious and self-interested than they. It is only necessary to read the narrations of their prophets and historians, to be convinced how much they were addicted to robbery, to usury, and to injustice. They were no less obnoxious to the charge of fornication and adultery, as appears from the many charges preferred against them in the writings of the Prophets. They converted the offerings to the purposes of their avarice, they profaned the holy places by vile and criminal actions; and as the Lord Himself, after Jeremiah, upbraided them they turned God’s house of prayer into a den of thieves.

These three capital vices, which the Apostle stigmatizes in the Jews, like those which he had preferred against the Gentiles, stand opposed, on the one hand, to the three principal virtue which he elsewhere enumerates as comprehending the whole system of sanctity, namely, to live soberly, righteously, and godly; and, on the other hand, they are conformable to the three odious vices which he had noted among the Gentiles, namely, ungodliness, intemperance, unrighteousness. For theft includes, in general, every notion of unrighteousness; adultery includes that of intemperance; and the guilt of sacrilege, that of ungodliness. Hence it is easy to conclude that, whatever advantages the Jews possessed above the Gentiles, they were, notwithstanding, in the same condition before the tribunal of God, — like them unrighteous, like them intemperate, like them ungodly, and, consequently, like them subjected to the same condemnation.

Romans 2:24

For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.

The charge alleged here against the Jews, is not that they themselves blasphemed the name of God as some understand it, but that they gave occasion to the heathen to blaspheme. The Apostle is not charging the Jews with speaking evil of God, or with one particular sin, but with the breach of their law in general. He here confirms what he had just said to this purpose in the foregoing verse, by the authority of Scripture. Many suppose that he refers to a passage of Isa 52:5, where the Prophet says, ‘And my name continually every day is blasphemed.’ But there the Prophet does not charge the Jews as having, by their bad conduct, occasioned the injury which the name of God received. He ascribes it, on the contrary, to the Assyrians, by whom they had been subjected. In the passage before us, the reference is to Eze 36:17-20, where it is evident that the Jews, by the greatness and the number of their sins, had given occasion to the Gentiles to insult and blaspheme the holy name of God, which is precisely the meaning of the Apostle.

The Gentiles, as the Prophet there relates, seized on two pretexts to insult the name of God, — the one drawn from the afflictions which the sins of His people had brought upon them, and the other from the contemplation of the sins themselves. According to the first, they accused the God of Israel of weakness and want of power, since He had not saved His people from so miserable a dispersion. According to the second, they imputed to the religion and the God of the Israelites all the crimes which they saw that people commit, as if it had been by the influence of God Himself that they were committed. It is on account of these two arrogant and malignant accusations that God reproaches His people for having profaned His name among the nations; and adds (not for the sake of His people, who had rendered themselves altogether unworthy, but for that of His own name) two promises opposed to those two accusations, — the one of deliverance, the other of sanctification: — ’For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you unto your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean,’ Eze 36:24-25. I will deliver you, in order to repel their insult on Me, in accusing Me of want of power. I will cleanse you, in order to vindicate Myself from the accusation of being the author of your crimes.

God had no need of either of these ways of justifying Himself. He had shown, on numerous occasions, the irresistible power of His arm in favor of the Israelites; and the sanctity of His law was self-evident. Yet He promises to do these things for His own glory, inasmuch as the Gentiles and His people had dishonored His name.

No accusation against the Jews could be more forcible than that which, in the verse before us, was preferred from the testimony of their own Scriptures. It proved that not only were they chargeable before God with their own sins, but that they were likewise chargeable with the sins which the Gentiles committed in blaspheming His name. This showed clearly that they were no more prepared to sustain the judgment of the strict justice of God than were the Gentiles, whom they were as ready to condemn as the Apostle himself was.

Romans 2:25

For circumcisions verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

Paul here pursues the Jew into his last retreat, in which he imagined himself most secure. He presses him on the subject of circumcision, which the Jews viewed as their stronghold — that rite even more ancient than Moses, and by which they were distinguished from the other nations. The sum of this, and the following verses to the end of the chapter, is, that the Jews being such as the Apostle had represented them, all their advantages, including circumcision, could only enhance their condemnation before the tribunal of God, and that, on the contrary, if the Gentiles, who have not received the law, observed its precepts, they would be justified without circumcision. Two things are here to be observed, namely, what is asserted of the Jews and Gentiles, and the proof that follows. The assertions are, that circumcision serves only as a ground of condemnation to transgressors of the law; and, on the other hand, that the want of it would be no detriment to those who fulfilled the law. The proof is, that before God the true Jew and the true circumcision consist not in external qualities, but in internal and real holiness. The reason why circumcision was not included in the enumeration before given of the advantages of the Jews is, that in itself it is not an advantage, but only a sign of other advantages; and it is mentioned here, because, in the character of a sign, it includes them: to name circumcision then, is to refer to them all. In this verse the Apostle does not speak of circumcision according to its real and most important signification as he does in the two concluding verses, but in that view in which the Jews themselves considered it, as the initiatory and distinctive rite of their religion, without the observance of which they believed they could not be saved. Circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law. — It is not meant that circumcision will come into the account before the tribunal of God, as the fulfilling of the law, but that it would be an aid and motive to the observance of the law, and viewed in the light of an obligation to keep the law; if the Jew had kept it, he could refer to his circumcision as an obligation which he had fulfilled. Circumcision may be viewed in two lights, either as given to Abraham, or as enjoined by Moses. 1. It was the token of the covenant that Abraham should be the father of the promised Savior, and, moreover, a seal or pledge of the introduction and reality of the righteousness imputed to him through faith, while uncircumcised, in order that he might be the father of all believers, whether circumcised or not, to whom that righteousness should also be imputed. 2. Circumcision, as enjoined by Moses, was a part of his law, Joh 7:22-23. In the first view, it was connected with all the privileges of Israel, Php 3:4-5; in the second, it was a part of the law, whose righteousness is described, Ro 10:5. A. The Jews entirely mistook the object of the law, Ro 5:20; Ga 3:19, which shut up all under sin, Ga 3:22, by cursing every one who continued not in all things written in the book of the law to do them; and in this view, as a part of the law of Moses, circumcision could only profit those who kept the whole law. But instead of this, the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles, through the wickedness of the Jews, and hence their having the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law would only aggravate their condemnation. When, therefore, the Apostle says, if thou keep the law, he supposes a case, not implying that it was ever verified; but if it should exist, the result would be what is stated. If, on the other hand, the Jew was a breaker of the law, his circumcision was made uncircumcision, Jer 9:26; it would be of no more avail than if he had not received it, and would give him no advantage over the uncircumcised Gentile. This declaration is similar to the way in which our Lord answers the rich young man. If the law is perfectly kept, eternal life will be the reward, as the Apostle had also said in Ro 2:7 and Ro 2:10; but if there be any breach of it, circumcision is of no value for salvation.


A. It is in this second view of circumcision being a part of the law, that the Apostle tells the Galatians that if they were circumcised, they were debtors to do the whole law. They had professed to receive Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth; but their want of confidence in Christ’s righteousness, in which they professed to rest, was evident by their adding to it the observance of circumcision. ‘Thus they returned to the law, and were debtors to fulfill it,’ Ga 5:3-4. The righteousness of the law and Christ’s righteousness cannot, even in the least degree, be united.

Romans 2:26

Therefore, if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

The Apostle does not mean to affirm that an uncircumcised Gentile can fulfill the righteousness of the law, nor does he here retract what he had said in the first chapter respecting the corruption and guilt of the Gentiles, but he supposes a case in regard to them like that concerning the Jews in the preceding verse. This hypothetical mode of reasoning is common with Paul, of which we have an example in this same chapter, where he says that the doers of the law shall be justified; of whom, however, in the conclusion of his argument, Ro 3:19, he affirms that none can be found.

The supposition, then, as to the obedience of the Gentile, though in itself impossible, is made in order to prove that, before the judgment seat of God, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision enters at all into consideration for justification or condemnation. If an uncircumcised Gentile kept the law, his uncircumcision would avail as much as the circumcision of the Jew. The reason of this is, that the judgment of God regards only the observance or the violation of the law, and not extraneous advantages or disadvantages, and, as is said above, with God there is no respect of persons. In reality, then, the Jews and Gentiles were on a level as to the impossibility of salvation by the law; in confirmation of which truth, the inquiry here introduced is for the conviction of the Jew on this important point. But what is true upon a supposition never realized, is actually true with respect to all who believe in Jesus. In Him they have this righteousness which the law demands, and without circumcision have salvation. Dr. Macknight egregiously errs when he supposes that the law here referred to is the law of faith, which heathens may keep and be saved: this is a complication of errors.

Romans 2:27

And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

Paul continues in this verse to reason on the same supposition as in the one preceding, and draws from it another consequence, which is, that if the Gentile who is uncircumcised fulfilled the law, he would not only be justified, notwithstanding his uncircumcision, but would judge and condemn the circumcised Jew who did not fulfill it. The reason of this conclusion is, that in the comparison between the one and the other, the case of the circumcised transgressor would appear much worse, because of the superior advantages he enjoyed. In the same way it is said, Mt 12:41, that the Ninevites shall condemn the Jews. The uncircumcision which is by nature. — That is to say, the Gentiles in their natural uncircumcised state, in opposition to the Jews, who had been distinguished and set apart by a particular calling of God. Dr. Macknight commits great violence when he joins the words ‘by nature’ with the words ‘fulfill the law,’ as if it implied that some Gentiles did fulfill the law by the light of nature. Who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law. — Dr. Macknight affirms that the common translation here ‘is not sense.’ But it contains a very important meaning. The Jews transgressed the law by means of their covenant and circumcision being misunderstood by them. This fact is notoriously true: they were hardened in their sin from a false confidence in their relation to God. Instead of being led to the Savior by the law, according to its true end, they transgressed it, through their views of the letter of the law and of circumcision; of both of which, especially of circumcision, they made a savior. The fulfilling of the law and its transgression are here to be taken in their fullest import, namely, for an entire and complete fulfillment, and for the slightest transgression of the law; for the Apostle is speaking of the strict judgment of justice by the law, before which nothing can subsist but a perfect and uninterrupted fulfillment of all the commandments of God. But it may be asked how the uncircumcised Gentiles could fulfill the law which they had never received.

They could not indeed fulfill it as written on tables of stone and in the books of Moses, for it had never been given to them in that way; but as the work of the law, or the doctrine it teaches, was written in their hearts, it was their bounded duty to obey it. From this it is evident that in all this discussion respecting the condemnation of both Gentiles and Jews, the Apostle understands by the law, not the ceremonial law, as some imagine, but the moral law; for it is the work of it only which the Gentiles have by nature written in their hearts. Besides, it is clear that he speaks here of that same law of which he says the Jews were transgressors when they stole, committed adultery, and were guilty of sacrilege.

Romans 2:28

Ro 2:28. — For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Ro 2:29. — But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

The Apostle now passes to what is reality, not supposition, and gives here the proof of what he had affirmed, namely, that circumcision effects nothing for transgressors of the law, except to cause their deeper condemnation, and that the want of circumcision would be no loss to those who should have fulfilled the law. The reason of this is, that when the Jew shall appear before the tribunal of God, to be there judged, and when he shall produce his title as a Jew, as possessing it by birth, and his circumcision, as having received it as a sign of the covenant of God, God will not be satisfied with such appearances, but will demand of him what is essential and real. Now the essence and reality of things do not consist in names or in eternal signs; and when nothing more is produced, God will not consider a man who possesses them as a true Jew, nor his circumcision as true circumcision. He is only a Jew in shadow and appearance, and his is only a figurative circumcision void of its truth. But he is a Jew, who is one inwardly; that is to say, that in judging, God will only acknowledge as a true Jew, and a true confessor of His name, him who has the reality, — namely, him who is indeed holy and righteous, and who shall have fulfilled the law; for it is in this fulfillment that confession, and praise, and giving of thanks consist, which are the things signified by the name Jew. It is thus we are to understand the contrast which Paul makes between ‘outwardly’ and ‘inwardly.’ What is outward is the name, what is inward is the thing itself represented by the name. And circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter. — It is essential to keep in view that here, and in all that precedes, from the beginning of the 18th verse of the first chapter, Paul is referring not to the Gospel, but exclusively to the law , and clearing the ground for the establishment of his conclusion in the following chapter, verses 19th and 20th, concerning the universal guilt of mankind, and the consequent impossibility of their being justified by the law. The whole is intended to prepare the way for the demonstration of the grand truth announced, Ro 1:17, and resumed, Ro 3:21, of the revelation of a righteousness adequate to the demands of the law, and provided for all who believe.

From a misapprehension in this respect, very erroneous explanations have been given by many of this verse and the context, as well as of Ro 2:7-9, and Ro 2:10, representing these passages as referring to the Gospel, and not exclusively to the law . This introduces confusion into the whole train of the Apostle’s reasoning, and their explanations are entirely at variance with his meaning and object. And circumcision . — This passage is often considered as parallel to that in the Epistle to the Colossians, (Col 2:11). ‘In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.’ But the purpose of the Apostle in the one place and the other is altogether different. Many passages, in different connections, which are similar in their expressions, are not so at all in their meanings. For the illustration of this, it is necessary to remember that the Apostle, as has just been observed, is here referring solely to the law, and likewise that circumcision in one view respected the legal covenant, of which it was a ceremonial obligation, and in another, the evangelical covenant, of which it was a type.

In the character of a ceremonial obligation of the legal covenant, it represented the entire and perfect fulfilling of the law, which consisted not merely in external holiness, but in perfect purity of soul; and in this sense it represented what no man possessed, but which every man must have in order to be justified by the law. In the character of a type, it represented regeneration and evangelical holiness, which consists in repentance and amendment of life by the Spirit of Christ, and in that sense shadowed forth what really takes place in those who believe in Jesus Christ. In Col 2:11, the Apostle views it in this last aspect; for he means to say that what the Jew had in type and figure under the law, the believer has in reality and truth under the Gospel.

But in the passage before us Paul views it in its first aspect; for he is treating of the judgment of strict justice by the law, which admits of no repentance or amendment of life. The meaning, then, here is, that if the Jew will satisfy himself with bringing before the judgment of the law what is only external and merely a ceremonial observance, without his possessing that perfect righteousness which this observance denotes, and which the Judge will demand, it will serve for no purpose but his condemnation. That of the heart in the spirit. — That is to say, what penetrates to the bottom of the soul; in one word, that which is real and effective. The term spirit does not here mean the Holy Spirit, nor has it a mystical or evangelical signification; but it signifies what is internal, solid, and real, in opposition to that which was ceremonial and figurative. And not in the letter. — Not that which takes place only in the flesh, according to the literal commandment, and in all the prescribed forms. In one word, it is to the spiritual circumcision that the Apostle refers, which is real in the heart and spirit. Whose praise is not of men, but of God. — Here Paul alludes to the name of Jew, which signifies praise, which may be taken either in an active sense, as signifying praising, or in a passive sense, as praised.

Moses has taken it in this second meaning; when relating the blessing of Jacob, he says, ‘Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise.’ The Apostle here takes it in the same way; but he does not mean that this praise is of men, but of God. The meaning is, that in order to be a true Jew, it is not sufficient to possess external advantages, which attract human praise, but it is necessary to be in a condition to obtain the praise of God.

The object of the whole of this chapter is to show that the Jews are sinners, violators of the law as well as the Gentiles, and consequently that they cannot be justified before God by their works; but that, on the contrary, however superior their advantages are to those of the Gentiles, they can only expect from His strict justice, condemnation. The Jews esteemed it the highest honor to belong to their nation, and they gloried over all other nations. An uncircumcised person was by them regarded with abhorrence. They did not look to character, but to circumcision or uncircumcision. Nothing, then, could be more cogent, or more calculated to arrest the attention of the Jews, than this argument respecting the name in which they gloried, and circumcision, their distinguishing national rite, with which Paul here follows up what he had said concerning the demands of the law, and of their outward transgressions of its precepts. He had dwelt, in the preceding part of this chapter, on their more glaring and atrocious outward violations of the law, as theft, adultery, and sacrilege, by which they openly dishonored God. Now he enters into the recesses of the heart, of which, even if their outward conduct had been blameless, and the subject of the praise of men, its want of inward conformity to that law, which was manifest in the sight of God, could not obtain his praise.

Romans 2:29

See Haldane: Ro 2:28

Romans 3:1

CHAPTER 3.

PART 1.

Ro 3:1-20.

THIS chapter consists of three parts. The first part extends to the 8th verse (Ro 3:1-8) inclusively, and is designed to answer and remove some objections to the doctrine previously advanced by the Apostle. In the second part, from Ro 3:9-20, it is proved, by the testimonies of various scriptures, that the Jews, as well as the Gentiles, are involved in sin and guilt, and consequently that none can be justified by the law. The third part commences at Ro 3:21, where the Apostle reverts to the declaration, Ro 1:17, with which his discussion commenced, and exhibits the true and only way of justification for all men, by the righteousness of God imputed through faith in Jesus Christ.

Ro 3:1What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?

If the preceding doctrine be true, it may be asked, What advantage hath the Jew over the Gentile; and what profit is there in circumcision, if it does not save from sin? If, on the contrary, the Jews, on account of their superior privileges, will be held more culpable before the tribunal of Divine justice, as the Apostle had just shown, it appears obviously improper to allege that God has favored them more than the Gentiles. This objection it was necessary to obviate, not only because it is specious, but because it is important, and might, in regard to the Jews, arrest the course of the Gospel. It is specious; for if, in truth, the advantages of the Jews, so far from justifying them, contribute nothing to cause the balance of Divine judgment to preponderate in their favor — if their advantages rather enhance their condemnation — does it not appear that they are not only useless, but positively pernicious? In these advantages, then, it is impossible to repose confidence. But the objection is also important; for it would be difficult to imagine that all God had done for the Jews — His care of them so peculiar, and His love of them so great, — in short, all the privileges which Moses exalts so highly — were lavished on them in vain, or turned to their disadvantage. The previous statement of the Apostle might then be injurious to the doctrine of the Gospel, by rendering him more odious in the eyes of his countrymen, and therefore he had good reasons for fully encountering and answering this objection. In a similar way, it is still asked by carnal professors of Christianity, Of what use is obedience to the law of God or the observance of His ordinances, if they do not save the soul, or contribute somewhat to this end?

Romans 3:2

Much every way; chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

Paul here repels the foregoing objection as false and unfounded. Although the privileges of the Jews cannot come into consideration for their justification before the judgment-seat of God, it does not follow that they were as nothing, or of no advantage; on the contrary, they were marks of the peculiar care of God for that people, while He had, as it were, abandoned all the other nations. They were as aids, too, which God had given to deliver them from the impiety and depravity of the Gentiles; and, by the accompanying influences of His Spirit, they were made effectual to the salvation of many of them. Finally, the revelation made to the Jews contained not only figures and shadows of the Gospel, but also preparations for the new covenant. God had bestowed nothing similar on the Gentiles: the advantage, then, of the Jews was great. Much every way. — This does not mean, in every sense; for the Apostle does not retract what he had said in the preceding chapter, namely, that their advantages were of no avail for justification to the Jews continuing to be sinners, — for, on the contrary, in that case they only enhanced their condemnation; but this expression signifies that their advantages were very great, and very considerable. Chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. — The original denotes primarily , which is not a priority of order, but a priority in dignity and advantage; that is to say, that of all the advantages God had vouchsafed to them, the most estimable and most excellent was that of having entrusted to them His oracles. The word here used for oracles signifies the responses or answers given by an oracle; and when the Scriptures are so designated, it implies that they are altogether, in word, as well as in sense, the communications of God. By these oracles we must understand, in general, all the Scriptures of the Old Testament, especially as they regarded the Messiah; and, in particular, the prophecies which predicted His advent. They were oracles, inasmuch as they were the words from the mouth of God Himself, in opposition to the revelation of nature, which was common to Jews and Gentiles; and they were promises in respect to their matter, because they contained the great promise of sending Jesus Christ into the world. God had entrusted these oracles to the Jews, who had been constituted their guardians and depositories till the time of their fulfillment, when they were to be communicated to all, Isa 2:3; and through them possessed the high character of the witnesses of God, Isa 43:10; 44:8, even till the time of their execution, when they were commanded to be communicated to the whole world, according to what Isa 2:3, had said, — ’For out of Sin shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. These oracles had not, however, been entrusted to the Jews simply as good things for the benefit of others, but also for their own advantage, that they might themselves make use of them; for in the oracles the Messiah — who was to be born among them, and among them to accomplish the work of redemption — was declared to be the proper object of their confidence, and through them they had the means of becoming acquainted with the way of salvation.

But why were these oracles given so long before the coming of the Messiah? It was for three principal reasons: — First , To serve as a testimony that, notwithstanding man’s apostasy, God had not abandoned the earth, but had always reserved for Himself a people; and it was by these great and Divine promises that He had preserved His elect in all ages.

Secondly, These oracles were to characterize and designate the Messiah when He should come, in order that He might be known and distinguished; for they pointed Him out in such a manner that He could be certainly recognized when He appeared. On this account Philip said to Nathaniel, Joh 1:45, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and the Prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph’ Thirdly , They were to serve as a proof of the Divine origin of the Christian religion; for the admirable correspondence between the Old Testament and the New is a clear and palpable demonstration of its divinity. It is, moreover, to be observed that this favor of having been constituted the depositories of the sacred oracles was peculiar to the Jews, and one in which the Gentiles did not at all participate. This is what the Apostle here expressly teaches, since he considers it as an illustrious distinction conferred upon his nation, a pre-eminence over all the kingdoms of the world.

But why, again, does the Apostle account the possession of these oracles their greatest advantage? Might not other privileges have been considered as equal, or even preferable, such as the glorious miracles which God had wrought for the deliverance of the Israelites; His causing them to pass through the Red Sea, in the face of all the pride and power of their haughty oppressor; His guiding them through the sandy desert by a pillar of fire by night, and of cloud by day; His causing them to hear His voice out of the fire, when He descended in awful majesty upon Sinai; or, finally, His giving them His law, written with His own finger, on tables of stone? It is replied, the promises respecting the Messiah, and His coming to redeem men, were much greater than all the others. Apart from these, all the other advantages would not only have been useless, but fatal to the Jews; for, being sinners, they could only have served to overwhelm them with despair, in discovering, on the one hand, their corruption, unmitigated by the kindness of Jehovah, and, on the other, the avenging justice of God. In these circumstances, they would have been left under the awful impossibility of finding any expiation for their sins. If, then, God had not added the promises concerning the Messiah, all the rest would have been death to them, and therefore the oracles which contained these promises were the first and chief of their privileges.

Romans 3:3

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

This is not the objection of a Jew, but, as it might readily occur, is supposed by the Apostle. It is not ‘But what,’ as Dr. Macknight translates the first words, it is ‘For that.’ The Apostle answers the objection in stating it. ‘For what if some have not believed;’ that is, ‘the unbelief of some is no objection to my doctrine.’ ‘Will their unbelief destroy the faithfulness of God?’ This repels, and does not, as Dr. Macknight understands it, assert the supposition. The meaning is, that the unbelief of the Jews did not make void God’s faithfulness with respect to the covenant with Abraham. Though the mass of his descendants were unbelievers at this time, yet many of them, both then, as the Apostle asserts, Ro 11:2, and at all other times, were saved in virtue of that covenant. Paul, then, here anticipates and meets an objection which might be urged against his assertion of the pre-eminence of the Jews over the Gentiles, testified by the fact that to them God had confided His oracles.

The objection is this, that since they had not believed in the Messiah, whom these oracles promised, this advantage must not only be reckoned of little value, but, on the contrary, prejudicial.

In reply to this objection, the Apostle, in the first place, intimates that their unbelief had not been universal, which is tacitly understood in his only attributing unbelief to some; for when it is said that some have not believed, it is plainly intimated that some have believed. It does not, indeed, appear that it would have been worthy of the Divine wisdom to have given to one nation, in preference to all others, so excellent and glorious an economy as that of the Old Testament, to have chosen them above all others of His free love and good pleasure, and to have revealed to them the mysteries respecting the Messiah, while, at the same time, none of them should have responded to all this by a true faith. There is too much glory and too much majesty in the person of Jesus Christ, and in His work of redemption, to allow it to be supposed that He should be revealed only externally by the word, without profit to some, Isa 55:10-11.

In all ages, before as well as since the coming of the Messiah, although in a different measure, the Gospel has been the ministration of the Spirit. It was fitting, then, that the ancient promises, which were in substance the Gospel, should be accompanied with a measure of that Divine Spirit who imprints them in the hearts of men, and that, as the Spirit was to be poured out on all flesh, the nation of the Jews should not be absolutely deprived of this blessing. This was the first answer, namely, that unbelief had not been so general, but that many had profited by the Divine oracles; and consequently, in respect to them at least, the advantage to the Jews had been great. But the Apostle goes farther; for, in the second place, he admits that many had fallen in incredulity, but denies that their incredulity impeached the faithfulness of God. Here it may be asked whether the Apostle refers to the Jews under the legal economy who did not believe the Scriptures, or to those only who, at the appearing of the Messiah, rejected the Gospel? The reference, it may be answered, is both to the one and the other.

But it may be said, How could unbelief respecting these oracles be ascribed to the Jews, when they had only rejected the person of Jesus Christ? For they did not doubt the truth of the oracles; on the contrary, they expected with confidence their accomplishment; they only denied that Jesus was the predicted Messiah. It is replied, that to reject, as they did, the person of Jesus Christ, was the same as if they had formally rejected the oracles themselves, since all that was contained in them could only unite and be accomplished in His person. The Jews, therefore, in reality rejected the oracles; and so much the more was their guilt aggravated, inasmuch as it was their prejudices, and their carnal and unauthorized anticipations of a temporal Messiah, which caused their rejection of Jesus Christ. Thus it was a real disbelief of the oracles themselves; for all who reject the true meaning of the Scriptures, and attach to them another sense, do in reality disbelieve them, and set up in their stead a phantom of their own imagination, even while they profess to believe the truth of what the Scriptures contain. The Apostle, then, had good reason to attribute unbelief to the Jews respecting the oracles, but he denies that their unbelief can make void the faith, or rather destroy the faithfulness, of God.

By the faithfulness of God some understand the constancy and faithfulness of His love to the Jews; and they suppose that the meaning is, that while the Jews have at present fallen into unbelief, God will not, however, fail to recall them, as is fully taught in the eleventh chapter. But the question here is not respecting the recall of the Jews, or the constancy of God’s love to them, but respecting their condemnation before His tribunal of strict justice, which they attempted to elude by producing these advantages, and in maintaining that if these advantages only led to their condemnation, as the Apostle had said, it was not in sincerity that God had conferred them. ‘This objection alone the Apostle here refutes. The term, then, faith of God, signifies His sincerity or faithfulness, according to which He had given to the Jews these oracles; and the Apostle’s meaning is, that the incredulity of the Jews did not impeach that sincerity and faithfulness, whence it followed that it drew down on them a more just condemnation, as he had shown in the preceding chapter.

Romans 3:4

God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, that Thou mightest be justified in Thy sayings, and mightest overcome when Thou art judged.

God forbid. — Literally, let it not be, or far be it, a denial frequently made by the Apostle in the same way in this Epistle. It intimates two things, namely, the rejecting of that which the objection would infer, not only as what is false, but even impious; for it is an affront to God to make His faithfulness dependent on the depravity of man, and His favor on our corruption. Though the privileges of the Jew, and the good which God had done for him, terminated only in his condemnation, by reason of his unbelief, it would be derogatory to the Almighty to question His faithfulness, because of the fault of the unprincipled objects of these privileges. The Apostle also wished to clear his doctrine from this calumny, that God was unfaithful in His promises, and insincere in His proceedings. Let God be true, but every man a liar. — The calling of men, inasmuch as it is of God, is faithful and sincere; but the fact that it produces a result contrary to its nature and tendency, is to he attributed to man, who is always deceitful and vain. If the Jews had not been corrupted by their perversity, their calling would have issued in salvation; if it has turned to their condemnation, this is to be attributed to their own unbelief.

We must therefore always distinguish between what comes from God and what proceeds from man: that which is from God is good, and right, and true; that which is from man is evil, and false, and deceitful. Mr. Tholuck grievously errs in his Neological supposition, that this inspired Apostle ‘utters, in the warmth of his discourse, the wish that all mankind might prove covenant-breakers, as this would only tend to glorify God the more, by being the occasion of manifesting how great is His fidelity.’ This would be a bad wish; it would be desiring evil that good might come. It is not a wish. Paul states a truth. God in every instance is to be believed, although this should imply that every man on earth is to be condemned as a liar. As it is written, That thou mightest be justified in Thy sayings, and mightest overcome when Thou art judged. — This passage may be taken either in a passive signification, when Thou shalt be judged, or in an active signification, when Thou shalt judge. In this latter sense, according to the translation in Ps 51:4, the meaning will be clear, if we have recourse to the history referred to in the 2Sa 12:7,11, where it is said that Nathan was sent from God to David. In that address, God assumed two characters, the one, of the party complaining and accusing David as an ungrateful man, who had abused the favors he had received, and who had offended his benefactor; the other, of the judge who pronounces in his own cause, according to his own accusation. It is to this David answers, in Ps 51:4: — ’ Against thee, Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight, that Thou mightest be justified when thou speakest.’ As if he had said, Thou hast good cause to decide against me; I have offended Thee; I am ungrateful; Thou hast reason to complain and to accuse me; Thou hast truth and justice in the words which Thy prophet has spoken from Thee. He adds, that Thou mightest be clear when Thou judgest; that is to say, as my accuser Thou wilt obtain the victory over me, before Thy tribunal, when Thou pronouncest Thy sentence. In one word, it signifies that whether in regard to the found of that sentence or its form, David had nothing to allege against the judgment which God had pronounced in His own cause, and that he fully acknowledged the truth and justice of God. Hence it clearly follow that when God pleads against us, and sets before us His goodness to us, and, on the other hand, the evil return we have made, it is always found that God is sincere and true towards us, but that we have been deceivers and unbelieving in regard to Him, and therefore that our condemnation is just.

This is precisely what the Apostle proposed to conclude against the Jews.

God had extended to them His favors, and they had requited them only by their sins, and by a base incredulity. When, therefore, He shall bring them to answer before His judgment-seat, God will decide that He had been sincere in respect to them, and that they, on the contrary, had been wicked, whence will follow their awful but just condemnation. Paul could not have adduced anything more to the purpose than the example and words of David on a subject altogether similar, nor more solidly have replied to the objection supposed.

The answer of the Apostle will lead to the same conclusion, if the passive sense be taken, Thou shalt be judged. Though so eminent a servant of God, David had been permitted to fall into his foul transgressions, that God might be justified in the declarations of His word, which assert that all men are evil, guilty and polluted by nature, and that in themselves there is no difference. Had all the eminent saints whose lives are recorded in Scripture, been preserved blameless, the world would have supposed that such men were an exception to the character given of man in the word of God. They would have concluded that human nature is better than it is. But when Abraham and Jacob, David and Solomon, and Peter and many others, were permitted to manifest what is in human nature, God’s word is justified in its description of man. God ‘overcomes when He is judged;’ that is, such examples as that of the fall of David prove that man is what God declares him to be. Wicked men are not afraid to bring God to their bar, and impeach His veracity, by denying that man is as bad as He declares. But by such examples God is justified. The passive sense, then, of the word ‘judge’ is a good and appropriate meaning; and the phrase acquitting, or clearing, or overcoming may be applicable, not to the person who judges God, but to God who is judged. This meaning is also entirely to the Apostle’s purpose. Let all men be accounted liars, rather than impugn the veracity of God, because, in reality, all men are in themselves such.

Whenever, then, the Divine testimony is contradicted by human testimony, let man be accounted a liar.

Romans 3:5

But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)

Out of the answer to the question in the first verse of this chapter, another objection might arise, which is here supposed. It is such as a Jew would make, but is proposed by the Apostle classing himself with the Jews, as is intimated when he says, I speak as a man, just as any writer is in the habit of stating objections in order to obviate them. The objection is this: if, then, it be so that the righteousness of God, — that righteousness which is revealed in the Gospel, Ro 1:17, by the imputation of which men are justified, — if that righteousness which God has provided is more illustriously manifested by our sin, showing how suitable and efficacious it is to us as sinners, shall it not be said that God is unjust in punishing the sin that has this effect? What shall we say? or what answer can be made to such an objection? Is God, or rather, is not God unjust, who in this case taketh vengeance? This is a sort of insult against the doctrine of the Gospel, as if the objection was so strong and well founded that no reply could be made to it. I speak as a man. — That is to say, in the way that the impiety of men, and their want of reverence for God, leads them to speak. The above was, in effect, a manner of reasoning common among the Jews and other enemies of the Gospel. It is, indeed, such language as is often heard, that if such doctrines as those of election and special grace be true, men are not to be blamed who reject the Gospel.

Romans 3:6

God forbid; for then how shall God judge the world?

Far be it. — Paul thus at once rejects such a consequence, and so perverse a manner of reasoning, as altogether inadmissible, and proceeds to answer it by showing to what it would lead, if admitted. For then how shall God judge the world? — If the objection were well founded, it would entirely divest God of the character of judge of the world. The reason of this is manifest, for there is no sin that any man can commit which does not exalt some perfection of God, in the way of contrast. If, then, it be concluded that because unrighteousness in man illustrates the righteousness of God, God is unrighteous when He taketh vengeance, it must be further said, that there is no sin that God can justly punish; whence it follows that God can no longer be judge of the world. But this would subvert all order and all religion. The objection, then, is such that, were it admitted, all the religion in the world would at once be annihilated. For those sins, for which men will be everlastingly punished, will no doubt be made to manifest God’s glory. Such is the force of the Apostle’s reply.

Romans 3:7

For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto His glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?

This verse is generally supposed to contain the objection here reiterated, which was before stated in Ro 3:5. It would appear strange, however, that the Apostle should in this manner repeat an objection — in a way, too, in which it is not strengthened — which he had effectually removed, and that after proposing it a second time he should add nothing to his preceding reply, further than denouncing it. It is not, then, a repetition of the same objection, but a second way in which Paul replies to what had been advanced in Ro 3:5. In the preceding verse he had, in his usual brief but energetic manner, first repudiated the consequence alleged in Ro 3:5, and had next replied to it by a particular reference, which proved that it was inadmissible. Here, by the word for, he introduces another consideration, and proceeds to set aside the objection, by exposing the inconsistency of those by whom it was preferred. The expression κἀγώ  (I also), shows that Paul speaks here in his own person, and not in that of an opponent, for otherwise he would not have said, I also, which marks an application to a particular individual. His reply, then, here to the objection is this: If, according to those by whom it is supposed and brought forward, it would be unrighteous in God to punish any action which redounds to His own glory, Paul would in like manner say that if his lie — his false doctrine, as his adversaries stigmatized it — commended the truth of God, they, according to their own principle, were unjust, because on this account they persecuted him as a sinner. In this manner he makes their objection reach upon those by whom it was advanced, and refutes them by referring to their own conduct towards him, so that they could have nothing to reply. For it could not be denied that the doctrine which Paul taught respecting the justification of sinners solely by the righteousness of God, whether true or false, ascribed all the glory of their salvation to God.

Romans 3:8

And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil that good may come; whose damnation is just.

This is the third thing which the Apostle advances against the objection of his adversaries, and is in substance, that they established as a good and just principle what they ascribed to him as a crime, namely, that men might do evil that good may come. They calumniously imputed to Paul and his fellow-laborers this impious maxim, in order to render them odious, while it was they themselves who maintained it. For if, according to them, God was unrighteous in punishing the unrighteousness of men when their unrighteousness redounded to His glory, it followed that the Apostles might without blame do evil, provided that out of it good should arise. Their own objection, then, proved them guilty of maintaining that same hateful doctrine which they so falsely laid to his charge. As we slanderously reported. — Here Paul satisfies himself with stigmatizing as a slanderous imputation this vile calumny, from which the doctrine he taught was altogether clear. Whose damnation is just. — This indignant manner of cutting short the matter by simply affirming the righteous condemnation of his adversaries, was the more proper, not only as they were calumniators, but also because the principle of doing evil that good might come, was avowed by them in extenuation of sin and unbelief.

It was fitting, then, that an expression of abhorrence, containing a solemn denunciation of the vengeance of God, on account of such a complication of perversity and falsehood, should for ever close the subject. On these verses we may observe, that men often adduce specious reasoning’s to contradict the decisions of the Divine word; but Christians ought upon every subject implicitly to credit the testimony of God, though many subtle and plausible objections should present themselves, which they are unable to answer.

Romans 3:9

What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jew and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.

Here commences the second part of the chapter, in which, having proposed and replied to the above objections to his doctrine, Paul now resumes the thread of his discourse. In the two preceding chapters he had asserted the guilt of the Gentiles and of the Jews separately; in what follows he takes them together, and proves by express testimonies from Scripture that all men are sinners, and that there is none righteous, no, not one. In this manner he follows up and completes his argument to support the conclusion at which he is about to arrive in Ro 3:20, which all along he had in view, namely, that by works of law no man can be justified, and with the purpose of fully unfolding, in Ro 3:21-23, and Ro 3:24, the means that God has provided for our justification, which he had briefly announced, Ro 1:17. In the verse before us he shows that, although he has admitted that the advantages of the Jews over the Gentiles are great, it must not thence be concluded that the Jews are better than they. When he says ‘are we better,’ he classes himself with the Jews, to whom he was evidently referring; but when, in the last clause of the verse, he employs the same term ‘we,’ he evidently speaks in his own person, although, as in some other places, in the plural number. What then? are we better than they? — The common translation here is juster than Mr. Stuart’s, which is, ‘have we any preference?’ The Jews had a preference. The Apostle allows that they had many advantages, and that they had a preference over the Gentiles; but he denies that they were better. Not at all. — By no means. This is a strong denial of what is the subject of the question. Then he gives the reason of the denial, namely, that he had before proved both Jews and Gentiles that they are all under sin. All not only signifies that there were sinners among both Jews and Gentiles, for the Jews did not deny this; on this point there was no difference between them and the Apostle; but he includes them all singly, without one exception. It is in this sense of universality that what he has hitherto said, both of Jews and Gentiles, must be taken. Of all that multitude of men there was not found one who had not wandered from the right way. One alone, Jesus Christ, was without sin, and it is on this account that the Scriptures call Him the ‘Just or Righteous One,’ to distinguish Him by this singular character from the rest of men. Under sin . — That is to say, guilty; for it is in relation to the tribunal of Divine justice that the Apostle here considers sin, in the same way as he says, Ga 3:22, ‘The Scripture hath concluded (shut up) all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.’ That it is in this sense we must understand the expression under sin and not, as Roman Catholic commentators explain it, as under the dominion of sin, evidently appears, — 1st , Because in this discussion, to be under sin is opposed to being under grace. Now, to be under grace, Ro 6:14-15, signifies to be in a state of justification before God, our sins being pardoned. To be under sin, then, signifies to be guilty in the eye of justice. 2nd , It is in reference to the tribunal of Divine justice, and in the view of condemnation, that Paul has all along been considering sin, both in respect to Jews and Gentiles. To be under sin, then, can only signify to be guilty, since he here repeats in summary all that he had before advanced. Finally, he explains his meaning clearly when he says, in Ro 3:19, ‘that every mouth may be stopped, and all theworld may become guilty before God.’

Romans 3:10

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.

After having proceeded in his discussion, appealing to the natural sentiments of conscience and undeniable fact, Paul now employs the authority of Scripture, and alleges several passages drawn from the books of the Old Testament, written at different times, more clearly to establish the universal guilt both ofJews and Gentiles, in order that he might prove them all under condemnation before the tribunal of God. There is none righteous. — This passage may be regarded as the leading proposition, the truth of which the Apostle is about to establish by the following quotations. None could be more appropriate or better adapted to his purpose, which was to show that every man is in himself entirely divested of righteousness. There is none righteous, no, not one. Not one possessed of a righteousness that can meet the demands of God’s holy law. The words in this verse, and those contained in Ro 3:11 and Ro 3:12, are taken from Ps 14: and Ps 53, which are the same as to the sense, although they do not follow the exact expressions. But does it seem proper that Paul should draw a consequence in relation to all, from what David has only said of the wicked of his time? The answer is, That the terms which David employs are too strong not to contemplate the universal sinfulness of the human race. ‘The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside; they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.’ This notifies universal depravity, so that, according to the Prophet, the application is just. It is not that David denies that God had sanctified some men by His Spirit; for, on the contrary, in the same Psalm, he speaks of the afflicted, of whom God is the refuge; but the intention is to say that, in their natural condition, without the grace of regeneration, which God vouchsafes only to His people, who are a small number, the whole human race is in a state of universal guilt and condemnation. This is also what is meant by Paul, and it is the use, as is clear from the context, that he designed to make of this passage of David, according to which none are excepted in such a way as that, if God examined them by their obedience to the law, they could stand before Him; and, besides this, whatever holiness is found in any man, it is not by the efficacy of the law, but by that of the Gospel, and if they are now sanctified, they were formerly under sin as well as others; so that it remains a truth, that all who are under the law, to which the Apostle is exclusively referring, are under sin that is, guilty before God. Through the whole of this discussion, it is to be observed that the Apostle makes no reference to the doctrine of sanctification. It is to the law exclusively that he refers, and here, without qualification, he asserts it as a universal truth that there is none righteous — not one who possesses righteousness, that is, in perfect conformity to the law; and his sole object is to prove the necessity of receiving the righteousness of God in order to be delivered from condemnation. The passage, then, here adduced by Paul, is strictly applicable to his design.

Dr. Macknight supposes that this expression, ‘There is none righteous,’ applies to the Jewish common people, and is an Eastern expression, which means that comparatively very few are excepted. There is not the shadow of ground for such a supposition. It is evident that both the passages quoted, and the Apostle’s argument, require that every individual of the human race be included. And on what pretense can it be restricted to ‘the Jewish common people’? Whether were they or their leaders the objects of the severest reprehensions of our Lord during His ministry? Did not Jesus pronounce the heaviest woes on the scribes and Pharisees? Mt 23:15. Did He not tell the chief priests and elders that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before them? Mt 21:31.

Mr. Stuart also supposes that the charge is not unlimited, and justifies this by alleging that the believing Jews must be excepted. But it is clear that the believing Jews are not excepted. For though they are now delivered, yet they were by nature under sin as well as others; and that all men are so, is what Paul is teaching, without having the smallest reference to the Gospel or its effects. In this manner Dr. Macknight and Mr. Stuart, entirely mistaking the meaning of the Apostle and the whole drift of his argument, remove the foundation of the proofs he adduces that all men are sinners.

Mr. Stuart also appears to limit the charges to the Jews, and in support of this refers to Ro 3:9 and Ro 3:19. Ro 3:9 speaks of both Jews and Gentiles; and the purpose of Ro 3:19 evidently is to prove that the Jews are not excepted; while Ro 3:20 clearly shows that the whole race of mankind are included, it being the general conclusion which the Apostle draws from all he had said, from Ro 1:18, respecting both Jews and Gentiles, of whom he affirms in Ro 3:9 that they were all under sin. And is it not strictly true, in the fullest import of the term, that there is none righteous in himself, no, not one? Is not righteousness the fulfilling of the law? ‘And do not the Scriptures testify and everywhere show that ‘there is no man that sinneth not’? 1Ki 8:46. ‘Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?’ Pr 20:9. ‘For there is not a just man upon earth; that doeth good and sinneth not,’ Ec 7:20. And the Apostle James, including himself as well as his brethren to whom he wrote, declares, ‘In many things we all offend’. B. Like Mr. Stuart, Taylor of Norwich in his Commentary, supposes that in this and the following verses to the 19th, the Apostle means no universality at all, but only the far greater part, and that they refer to bodies of people, of Jews and Gentiles in a collective sense, and not to particular persons. To this President Edwards, in his treatise On Original Sin , p. 245, replies, ‘If the words which the Apostle uses do not most fully and determinably signify a universality, no words ever used in the Bible are sufficient to do it. I might challenge any man to produce any one paragraph in the Scripture, from the beginning to the end, where there is such a repetition and accumulation of terms, so strongly and emphatically, and carefully, to express the most perfect and absolute universality, or any place to be compared to it. What instance is there in the scripture, or indeed any other writing, when the meaning is only the much greater part, where this meaning is signified in such a manner by repeating such expressions, They are all — they are all — they are all — together one — all the world, joined to multiplied negative terms, to show the universality to be without exception, saying, There is no flesh — there is none — there is none — there is none — there is none four times over, besides the addition of no, not one — no, not one, once and again! When the Apostle says, ‘That every mouth may be stopped, must we suppose that he speaks only of those two great collective bodies, figuratively ascribing to each of them a mouth, and means that those two mouths are stopped?’ Again, p. 241, ‘Here the thing which I would prove, viz., that mankind, in their first state, before they are interested in the benefits of Christ redemption, are universally wicked , is declared with the utmost possible fullness and precision. So that, if here this matter be not set forth plainly, expressly, and fully, it must be because no words can do it; and it is not in the power of language , or any manner of terms or phrases, however contrived and heaped one upon another, determinably to signify any such thing.’


B. ‘Here a question,’ it is observed in the Presbyterian Review, ‘arises, which materially affects the interpretation of the next two verses, -- "whether Paul continues to devote himself to the inculcation of the Jews only, or of all mankind." It is natural, of course, to refer the quotations from the Old Testament to the sentiment which is nearest them, that all, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under sin; and it is right to do so, unless some strong reason can be shown to the contrary. Mr. Stuart imagines he has discovered such a reason, in the aged fact that "in the Old Testament, in the connection in which they stand, some of the passages have not an unlimited signification." But this argument, if of any weight at all, proves a great deal too much. For, if their original meaning was so specific as not to comprehend all the world, it was likewise so specific as not to comprehend all the Jews. On Mr. Stuart’s supposition, most of them refer primarily to the "impious part of the Jewish nation." Would, then, those who made their boast of God submit to be marked as of this fraternity? No, not one of them would identify himself with the impious; and the arrows which the Apostle designed to pierce their hearts, would prove either pointless or misdirected. If, therefore, we must restrict the signification of these verses, according to our previous views of their force in the passages whence they have been transplanted, let us do so consistently, and affirm at once that the Apostle, wishing to bring home guilt to the Jewish people (for we go on Mr. Stuart’s own supposition), adduced authorities which bear only upon part of them, and were of no efficacy for the conviction of the whole. But if this is too appalling for our acceptance, let us renounce the argument which involves it; let us learn from Paul himself the object of his own citations, connect them (as is most natural) with the nearest context, and understand them as expressive of the most perfect and absolute universality.’

Romans 3:11

There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Paul here applies equally to Jews and Gentiles that which he charges upon the Gentiles, Eph 4:18, ‘Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them because of the blindness (or hardness) of their hearts.’ This is true of every individual of the human race naturally. ‘The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him.’ In the parable of the sower, the radical distinction between those who finally reject, and those who receive the word and bring forth fruit, is, that they who were fruitful ‘understood’ the word, while the others understood it not, Mt 13:19-23, and the new man, he who is born again, is said to be renewed in knowledge, after the image of Him that created him. The assertion, then, in this passage, requires no limitation with respect to those who are now believers, for they were originally like others. All men are naturally ignorant of God, and by neglecting the one thing needful, show no understanding. They act more irrationally than the beasts. Now that seeketh after God. — To seek God is an expression frequently used in Scripture to denote the acts of religion and piety. It supposes the need all men have to go out of themselves to seek elsewhere their support, their life, and happiness, and the distance at which naturally we are from God, and God from us, — we by our perversity, and He by His just wrath. It teaches how great is the blindness of those who seek anything else but God, in order to be happy, since true wisdom consists in seeking God for this, for He alone is the sovereign good to man. It also teaches us that during the whole course of our life God proposes Himself as the object that men are to seek, Isa 55:6, for the present is the time of His calling them, and if they do not find Him, it is owing to their perversity, which causes them to flee from Him, or to seek Him in a wrong way. To seek God is, in general, to answer to all His relative perfections; that is to say, to respect and adore His sovereign majesty, to instruct ourselves in His word as the primary truth, to obey His commandments as the commandments of the sovereign Legislator of men, to have recourse to Him by prayer as the origin of all things. In particular, it is to have recourse to His mercy by repentance; it is to place our confidence in Him; it is to ask for his Holy Spirit to support us, and to implore His protection and blessing; and all this through Him who is the way to the Father, and who declares that no man cometh to the Father but by Him.

Romans 3:12

They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Sin is a wandering or departure from the right way; that is to say, out of the way of duty and obligation, out of the way of the means which conduct to felicity. These are the ways open before the eyes of men to walk in them; he who turns from there wanders out of the way. The Prophet here teaches what is the nature of sin; he also shows us what are its consequences; for as the man who loses his way cannot have any rest in his mind, nor any security, it is the same with the sinner; and as a wanderer cannot restore himself to the right way without the help of a guide, in the same manner the sinner cannot restore himself, if the Holy Spirit comes not to his aid. They are together become unprofitable. — They have become corrupted, or have rendered themselves useless; for everything that is corrupted loses its use. They are become unfit for that for which God made them; unprofitable to God, to themselves, and to their neighbor. There is none that doeth good, no, not one — not one who cometh up to the requirements of the law of God. This is the same as is said above, there is none righteous, and both the Prophet and the Apostle make use of this repetition to enhance the greatness and the extent of human corruption.

Romans 3:13

Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips.

What the Apostle had said in the preceding verses was general; he now descends to something more particular, both respecting words and actions, and in this manner follows up his assertion, that there is none that doeth good, by showing that all men are engaged in doing evil. As to their words, he marks in this and the following verse, all the organs of speech, the throat, the tongue, the lips, the mouth. All this tends to aggravate the depravity of which he speaks. The first part of this verse is taken from Ps 5:9, and the last from Ps 140:3. Open sepulcher. — This figure graphically portrays the filthy conversation of the wicked. Nothing can be more abominable to the senses than an open sepulcher, where a dead body beginning to putrefy steams forth its tainted exhalations. What proceeds out of their mouth is infected and putrid; and as the exhalation from a sepulcher proves the corruption within, so it is with the corrupt conversation of sinners. With their tongues they have used deceit — used them to deceive their neighbor, or they have flattered with the tongue, and this flattery is joined with the intention to deceive. This also characterizes in a striking manner the way in which men employ speech to deceive each other, in bargains, and in everything in which their interest is concerned. The poison of asps is under their lips. — This denotes the mortal poison, such as that of vipers or asps, that lies concealed under the lips, and is emitted in poisoned words. As these venomous creatures kill with their poisonous sting, so slanderers and evil-minded persons destroy the characters of their neighbors. ‘Death and life,’ it is said in the Book of Proverbs, ‘are in the power of the tongue.’

Romans 3:14

Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.

This is taken from Ps 10:7. Paul describes in this and the foregoing verse the four principal vices of the tongue, — filthy and infected discourse; deceitful flatteries; subtle and piercing evil-speaking; finally, outrageous and open malediction. This last relates to the extraordinary propensity of men to utter imprecations against one another, proceeding from their being hateful and hating one another. Bitterness applies to the bitterness of spirit to which men give vent by bitter words. All deceit and fraud is bitter in the end, — that is to say, desolating and afflicting. ‘They bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words.’ ‘Their teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword,’ Ps 64:3; 57:4. ‘The tongue,’ says the Apostle James, ‘is set on fire of hell.’

Romans 3:15

Their feet are swift to shed blood.

After having spoken of men’s sinfulness, as shown by their words, the Apostle comes to that of actions, which he describes in this and the two following verses. This passage is taken from Isa 59:7, and from Pr 1:16, which describe the general sinfulness of men; the injustice and violence committed among them, and how ready they are to shed blood when not restrained either by the consideration of the good of society, or by fear of the laws. Every page of history attests the truth of this awful charge.

Romans 3:16

Destruction and misery are in their ways.

This declaration, taken also from Isa 59:7, must be understood in an active sense, — that is to say, men labor to destroy and to ruin one another; proceeding in their perverse ways, they cause destruction and misery.

Romans 3:17

And the way of peace have they not known.

They have not known peace to follow and approve of it; and are not acquainted with its ways, in which they do not walk in order to procure the good of their neighbor, — for peace imports prosperity, or the way to maintain concord and friendship. Such is a just description of man’s ferocity, which fills the world with animosities, quarrels, hatred in the private connections of families and neighborhoods; and with revolutions, and wars, and murders, among nations. The most savage animals do not destroy so many of their own species to appease their hunger, as man destroys of his fellows; to satiate his ambition, his revenge, or cupidity.

Romans 3:18

There is no fear of God before their eyes.

This is taken from Ps 36:1. After having followed up the general charge, that there is ‘none righteous, no, not one,’ by producing the preceding awful descriptions of human depravity, and having begun with the declaration of man’s want of understanding and his alienation from God, the Apostle here refers to the primary source of all these evils, with which he sums them up. There is ‘no fear of God before their eyes.’ They have not that reverential fear of Him which is the beginning of wisdom, which is connected with departing from evil, and honoring and obeying Him, and is often spoken of in Scripture as the sum of all practical religion; on the contrary, they are regardless of His majesty and authority, His precepts and His threatenings. It is astonishing that men, while they acknowledge that there is a God, should act without any fear of His displeasure. Yet this is their character. They fear a worm of the dust like themselves, but disregard the Most-High, Isa 51:12,18. They are more afraid of man than of God — of his anger, his contempt, or ridicule.

The fear of man prevents them from doing many things from which they are not restrained by the fear of God. That God will put His fear in the hearts of His people, is one of the distinguishing promises of the new covenant, which shows that proof to this it is not found there.

The Apostle could have collected a much greater number of passages from the law and the Prophets to prove what he intended, for there is nothing more frequent in the Old Testament than the reproaches of God against the Israelites, and all men, on account of their abandoning themselves to sin; but these form a very complete description of the reign of sin among men. The first of them, Ro 3:10, prefers the general charge of unrighteousness; the second, Ro 3:11-12, marks the internal character or disorders of the heart; the third, Ro 3:13-14, those of the words; the fourth, Ro 3:15-17, those of the actions; and the last, Ro 3:18, declares the cause of the whole. In the first and second, we see the greatness of the corruption, and its universality: its greatness, in the extinction of all righteousness, of all wisdom, of all religion, of all rectitude, of all that is proper, and, in one word, of all that is good; its universality, in that it has seized upon the whole man, without leaving anything that is sound or entire. In the third, we observe the four vices of the tongue, which have been already pointed out, — namely corrupt conversation, flattery and deceit, envenomed slander, outrageous malediction. In the fourth, justice violated in what is most sacred — the life of man; charity subverted, in doing the evil which it prohibits; and that which is most fundamental and most necessary — peace — destroyed. And in the last, what is most essential entirely cast off, which is the fear of God. In this manner, having commenced his enumeration of the evils to which men are addicted, by pointing out their want of understanding and desire to seek Gods the Apostle terminates his description by exposing the source from whence they all show, which is, that men are destitute of the fear of God; His fear is not before their eyes to restrain them from evil. They love not His character, not rendering to it that veneration which is due; they respect not His authority. Such is the state of human nature while the heart is unchanged. From all this a faint idea may be formed of what will be the future state of those who shall perish, from whom the Gospel has been hid, — of those whose minds the God of this world has blinded, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them. Then the various restraints which in this life operate so powerfully, so extensively, and so constantly, will be taken off, and the natural depravity of fallen man will burst forth in all its unbridled and horrible wickedness.

Romans 3:19

Now we know that whatsoever thing the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

The article is in this verse prefixed to the term law, while it is wanting in the following verse. This shows that here the reference is to the legal dispensation, and applies in the first clause specially to theJews; while, in the law clause, the expression ‘all the world,’ and, in the following verse, the term ‘law,’ without the article, refers to all mankind.

Paul here anticipates two general answers which might be made to those passages which he had just quoted, to convict the Jews, as well as all other men, of sin. First, that they are applicable not to the Jews but to the Gentiles, and that, therefore, it is improper to employ them against the Jews. Second, that even if they referred to the Jews they could only be applied to some wicked persons among them, and not to the whole nation; so that what he intended to prove could not thence be concluded, namely, that no man can be justified before God by the law. In opposition to these two objections, he says, that when the law speaks, it speaks to those who are under it, — to the Jews therefore; and that it does so in order that the mouths of all, without distinction, may be stopped. If God should try the Jews according to the law, they could not stand before His strict justice, as David said, ‘If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand?’ Ps 130:3. And, in addition to this, whatever there was of piety and holiness in some it was not by the efficacy of the law, but by that of the Gospel — not by the spirit of bondage, but by the spirit of adoption; so that it remains true that all those who are under the law are under sin. That, or in order that. — This must be taken in three senses. 1st , The law brought against the Jews those accusations and reproaches of which Paul had produced a specimen in the passages quoted, in order that every mouth may be stopped; this is the end which the law proposed. 2nd , This was also the object of God, when He gave the law, for He purposed to make manifest the iniquity of man, and the rights of justice, Romans 5:20. 3rd , It was likewise the result of the legal economy. Every mouth may be stopped. — This expression should be carefully remarked. For if a man had fulfilled the law, he would have something to allege before the Divine tribunal, to answer to the demands of justice; but when convicted as a sinner, he can only be silent — he can have nothing to answer to the accusations against him; he must remain convicted. This silence, then, is a silence of confession, of astonishment, and of conviction. This is what is elsewhere expressed by confusion of face. ‘O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee; but unto us, confusion of faces,’ Da 9:7. And all the world. — That is to say, both Jews and Gentiles. The first clause of this verse, though specially applicable to the Jews, proves that since they, who enjoyed such peculiar privileges, were chargeable with those things of which the law accused them, the rest of mankind, whom the Apostle here includes under the term ‘all the world,’ must also be under the same condemnation. The law of nature, written on their consciences, sufficiently convicts the Gentile’s; and as to the Jews who try to stifle the conviction of their consciences by abusing the advantages of the law, that law itself, while it accuses, convicts then; also. This expression, then, must include the whole human race. It applies to all men, of every age and every nation. None of all the children of Adam are excepted. Words cannot more clearly include, in one general condemnation, the whole human race. Who can be excepted? Not the Gentiles, since they have all been destitute of the knowledge of the true God. Not the Jews, for them the law itself accuses. Not believers, for they are only such through their acknowledgment of their sins, since grace is the remedy to which they have resorted to be freed from condemnation. All the world, then, signifies all men universally. May become guilty. — That is, be compelled to acknowledge themselves guilty. The term guilty signifies subject to condemnation, and respects the Divine judgment. It denotes the state of a man justly charged with a crime, and is used both in the sense of legal responsibility and of blame worthiness. This manifestly proves that in all this discussion the Apostle considers sin in relation to the condemnation which it deserves. Before God — When the question respects appearing before men, people find many ways of escape, either by concealing their actions, by disguising facts, or by disputing what is right. And even when men pass in review before themselves, self-love finds excuses, and various shifts are resorted to, and false reasoning, which deceive. But nothing of this sort can have place before God. For although the Jews flattered themselves in the confidence of their own righteousness, and on this point all men try to deceive themselves, it will be entirely different in the day when they shall appear before the tribunal of God; for then there will be no more illusions of conscience, no more excuses, no way to escape condemnation. His knowledge is infinite, His hand is omnipotent, His justice is incorruptible, and from Him nothing can be concealed. Before Him, therefore, every mouth will be stopped, and all the world must confess themselves guilty.

Romans 3:20

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

This is the final conclusion drawn from the whole of the preceding discussion, beginning at Ro 1:18. The Apostle had shown that both the Gentiles and the Jews are under sin; that is, they have brought down upon themselves the just condemnation of God. He had proved the same thing in the preceding verse, according to the scriptures before quoted. Therefore. — The conclusion, then, from the whole, as containing in this verse, is evident. By the deeds of the law, or, as in the original, of law. — The reference here is to every law that God has given to man, whether expressed in words, or imprinted in the heart. It is that law which the Gentiles have transgressed, which they have naturally inscribed in their hearts. It is that law which the Jews have violated, when they committed theft, adulteries, and sacrileges, and which convicted them of impiety, of evil-speaking, of calumny, of murder, of injustice. In one word, it is that law which shuts the mouth of the whole world, as had been said in the preceding verse, and brings in all men guilty before God. The deeds, or works of law. — When it is said, by works of law no flesh shall be justified, it is not meant that the law, whether natural or written, was not capable of justifying. Neither is it meant that the righteousness thus resulting from man’s fulfillment of all its demands would not be a true righteousness, but that no man being able to plead this fulfillment of the law before the tribunal of God — that perfect obedience which it requires — no man can receive by the law a sentence pronouncing him to be righteous. To say that the works of the law, if performed, are not good and acceptable, and would not form a true righteousness, would contradict what had been affirmed in the preceding chapter, Ro 2:13, that the doers of the law shall be justified. The Apostle, then, does not propose here to show either the want of power of the law in itself, or of the insufficiency of its works for justification, but solely to prove that no man fulfills the law, that both Gentiles and Jews are under sin, and that all the world is guilty before God. No flesh — This reference appears to be to Ps 143 David there says, ‘no man living.’ Paul says, ‘no flesh.’ The one is a term which marks a certain dignity, the other denotes meanness. The one imports that whatever excellence there might be supposed to be in man, he could not be justified beforeGod; and the other, that being only flesh, — that is to say, corruption and weakness, — he ought not to pretend to justification by himself. Thus, on whatever side man regards himself, he is far from being able to stand before the strict judgment of God. Shall be justified in His sight. — The meaning of the term justified, as used by the Apostle in the whole of this discussion, is evident by the different expressions in this verse. It appears by the therefore, with which the verse begins, that it is a conclusion which the Apostle draws from the whole of the foregoing discussion. Now, all this discussion has been intended to show that neither Gentiles nor Jews could elude the condemnation of the Divine judgment. The conclusion, then, that no flesh shall be justified in the sight of God by the works of law, can only signify that no man can be regarded as righteous, or obtain by means of his works a favorable sentence from Divine justice. It is in this sense that David has taken the term justify in Ps 143, to which the Apostle had reference, Enter not unto judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. The terms in His sight testify the same thing, for they accommodate themselves to the idea of a tribunal before which men must appear to be judged. It is the same with regard to the other terms, by the deeds of law; for if we understand a justification of judgment, the sense is plain: no one can plead before the tribunal of God a perfect and complete fulfillment of the law, such as strict and exact justice demands; no one, therefore, can in that way obtain justification. In justifying men, God does all, and men receiving justification, contribute nothing towards it. This is in opposition to the justification proposed by the law by means of obedience, in which way a man would be justified by his own righteousness, and not by the righteousness which God has provided and bestows. For by law is the knowledge of sin. — Paul does not here intend simply to say that the law makes known in general the nature of sin, inasmuch as it discovers what is acceptable or displeasing to God, what He commands, and what He forbids; but he means to affirm that the law convicts men of being sinners. For his words refer to what he had just before said in the preceding verse, that all that the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God, which marks a conviction of sin. But how, it may be said, does the law give that knowledge or that conviction of sin? It does so in two ways. By the application of its commandments, and its prohibitions in the present state in which man is placed, for it excites and awakens the conscience, and gives birth to accusing thoughts. This is common both to the written law and the law of nature. It does this, secondly, by the declaration of punishments and rewards which it sets before its transgressors and observers, and as it excites the conscience, and gives rise to fear and agitation, thus bringing before the eyes of men the dreadful evil of sin. This also is alike common to the law of nature and the written law.

Here it is important to remark that God, having purposed to establish but one way of justification for all men, has permitted, in His providence, that all should be guilty. For if there had been any excepted, there would have been two different methods of justification, and consequently two true religions, and two true churches, and believers would not have had that oneness of communion which grace produces. It was necessary, then, that all should become guilty. The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe, Ga 3:22; Ro 11:32.

Romans 3:21

Ro 3:21-31 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

At the opening of his discussion, Ro 1:16-17, Paul had announced that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, because therein is the righteousness of God revealed. He had said that the righteous by faith shall live, intimating that there is no other way of obtaining life. In proof of this, he had declared that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, and had shown at large that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin, and that, therefore, by obedience to law no flesh shall be justified. He now proceeds to speak more particularly of the righteousness of God provided for man’s justification, describing the manner in which it is conferred, and the character of those by whom it is received. To this subject, therefore, he here reverts.

Ro 3:21. -- But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.

Now, -- that is to say, under the preaching of the Gospel -- in the period of the revelation of the Messiah; for it denotes the time present, in opposition to that time when God appeared not to take notice of the state of the Gentile nations as it is said, Ac 17:30, ‘The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.’ And also in opposition to the legal economy respecting the Jews, as again it is said, Joh 1:17, ‘The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.’ This is what the Scriptures call ‘ the fullness of times,’ Eph 1:10; Ga 4:4. ‘The last days,’ Isa 2:2; Heb 1:2; Ac 2:17; 1Jo 2:18. ‘The acceptable year of the Lord,’ Isa 61:2. ‘Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,’ 2Co 6:2. The day of the Savior that Abraham saw, Joh 8:56. The righteousness of God. -- This is one of the most important expressions in the Scriptures. It frequently occurs both in the Old Testament and the New; it stands connected with the argument of the whole of the first five chapters of this Epistle, and signifies that fulfillment of the law which God has provided, by the imputation of which sinners are saved. Although perfectly clear in itself, its meaning has been involved in much obscurity by the learned labors of some who know not the truth, and by the perversions of others by whom it has been greatly corrupted.

By many it has been misunderstood, and has in general been very slightly noticed even by those whose views on the subject are correct and scriptural. To consider its real signification is the more necessary, as it does not appear always to receive that attention from Christians which its importance demands. When the question is put, why is the Gospel the power of God unto salvation? how few give the clear and unfaltering answer of the Apostle, Because therein is THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD revealed. Before attending to the true import of this phrase, it is proper to advert to some of the significations erroneously attached to it. Of these I shall select only a few examples from many that might be furnished.

Origin understood by this righteousness God’s attribute of justice, while Chrysostom explained it as Divine clemency.

According to Dr. Campbell of Aberdeen, the righteousness of God consists in man’s conformity to the declared will of God. In his note on Mt 6:33, he says, ‘The righteousness of God, in our idiom, can mean only the justice or moral rectitude of the Divine nature, which it were absurd in us to seek, it being, as all God’s attributes are, inseparable from His essence. But in the Hebrew idiom, that righteousness, which consists in a conformity to the declared will of God, is called His righteousness. In this way the phrase is used by Paul, Ro 3:21-22; 10:3, where the righteousness of God is opposed by the Apostle to that of the unconverted Jews; and their own righteousness, which he tells us they went about to establish, does not appear to signify their personal righteousness, any more than the righteousness of God signifies His personal righteousness. The word righteousness, as I conceive, denotes there what we should call a system of morality or righteousness, which he denominates their own, because fabricated by themselves, founded partly on the letter of the law, partly on tradition, and consisting mostly in ceremonies and mere externals. ‘This creature of their own imaginations they had cherished, to the neglect of that purer scheme of morality which was truly of God, which they might have learned even formerly from the law and the Prophets, properly understood, but now more explicitly from the doctrine of Christ.’

Such is the explanation by this learned critic of that leading phrase, ‘the righteousness of God,’ according to which, the reason why the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, is, because therein a pure schemes of morality is revealed. Were this explanation just, so far from being the reason why the Gospel should be the means of salvation to sinners, it would be the cause of their universal and hopeless condemnation.

Dr. Macknight supposes that the righteousness of God signifies a righteousness belonging to faith itself, and not the righteousness conveyed and received by faith. ‘Righteousness by faith,’ he says, on Ro 3:22, ‘is called the righteousness of God, -- 1st , Because God hath enjoined faith as the righteousness which He will count to sinners, and hath declared that He will accept and reward it as righteousness; 2nd , Because it stands in opposition to the righteousness of men, which consists in a sinless obedience to the law of God.’ Thus, while Dr. Macknight differs from Dr. Campbell in the meaning of the expression, the righteousness of God, he so far coincides with him in his radical error as to suppose that it does not signify the righteousness which God provides for the salvation of sinners, but the righteousness which He requires them to perform. The explanations of both of these writers are destructive of the Scripture doctrine of justification, opposed to the justice of God, subversive of the plan of salvation, and render the whole train of the Apostle’s reasoning, from Ro 1:16 to the end of the fifth chapter, inconclusive and self contradictory.

Archbishop Newcombe, whose translations are so much eulogized by Socinians, together with many who have followed him, translates this phrase, ‘God’s method of justification.’ What the Apostle has declared in precise terms, is thus converted into a general and indefinite annunciation, pointing to a different sense. In the Socinian version, as might be anticipated, it is also translated, ‘God’s method of justification.’ ‘The righteousness of God’ cannot mean God’s method of justification nor the justification which God bestows, because the word translated righteousness does not signify justification. Righteousness and justification are two things quite different. God’s righteousness is revealed in the Gospel, just as God Himself is said to be revealed. To reveal God is not to reveal a method of God’s acting, and to reveal God’s righteousness is not to reveal a method of God’s making sinners righteous, but to reveal the righteousness itself. This righteousness is also said to be of God by faith, that is, sinners become partakers of it by faith. The righteousness of God, then, is not a method of justification, but the thing itself which God has provided, and which He confers through faith. Nor can the expression, ‘the righteousness of God,’ in the tenth chapter, signify God’s method of justification. It is true the Jews were ignorant of God’s method of justification, but that is not the thing which is there asserted. They were ignorant of the righteousness which God had provided for the guilty, and, in consequence, went about to establish their own righteousness. What is there meant by God’s righteousness, is seen by the contrast. It is opposed to their own righteousness. Now, it was not a method of justification that the Jews went about to establish, but it was their own righteousness which they endeavored to establish -- a righteousness in which they trusted, of their own working. If so, the righteousness of God contrasted with this must be, not a method of justification, but the righteousness which God confers on His people through faith. To establish a man’s righteousness is not to establish a method with respect to this, but to establish the thing itself.

To say that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, because that in it is revealed a divine method of justification, or the justification which God bestows, leaves the great question which immediately presents itself utterly without an answer. It gives no light to the reader as to what the Gospel reveals. It is only in general a Divine scheme of justification. But the language itself, Ro 1:17, leaves no such uncertainty. It shows that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, because it reveals God’s righteousness, -- that righteousness which fulfills the demands of His law, which His justice will accept, and which is upon all them that believe.

Mr. Tholuck explains the phrase, the righteousness of God, thus: -- ’The Gospel makes known a way to that perfect fulfillment of the law which is required by God.’ What is the meaning of this exposition? It does not give the true meaning, and may have a most erroneous import. The best that can be said for it is, that it is so dark, and vague, and equivocal, that it may elude condemnation on the principle of its not having any one definite meaning. It is more ambiguous than the answer of an oracle that has only two meanings, for it may have several. Does it mean that the Gospel reveals a way by which man may himself fulfill the law, so as to be perfectly righteous? If Mr. Tholuck does not mean this, the expression might mean it. Does it mean that the law is not yet fulfilled, but that the Gospel reveals a way in which it may be fulfilled? This is the most obvious sense. Does it mean that the Gospel reveals a way in which men perfectly fulfill the law by faith? This is evidently false, even according to Mr. Tholuck’s sentiments; for though faith were, as held forth by him, ‘the most excellent of virtues,’ he could not admit that it fulfills the law.

After this dark and vague account of the term righteousness we need not wonder at that most erroneous meaning which he affixes to it in Ro 4:3. X. Mr. Stuart, in his translation of the Epistle, renders this phrase, in Ro 1:17, and Ro 3:21, ‘The justification which is of God,’ and in His explanation of it, the justification which God bestows, or the justification of which God is the author.’ He observes that this ‘is a phrase among the most important which the New Testament contains, and fundamental in the right interpretation of the Epistle before us.’ This is true; and the effect of his misunderstanding the proper signification of the original word in these passages, and rendering it justification instead of righteousness , appears most prominently in several of his subsequent interpretations especially as shall afterwards be pointed out in the beginning of the fourth chapter, where, like Mr. Tholuck, he entirely misrepresents the doctrine of justification. His translation he endeavors to defend at some length; but none of his allegations support his conclusion.

The proper meaning of the original word in Ro 1:17, and Ro 3:21, which he makes justification, is righteousness; and this meaning will apply in the other passages where it is found. In the New Testament it occurs ninety-two times, and, in the common version, is uniformly rendered righteousness. It occurs thirty-six times in the Epistle to the Romans, in which Mr. Stuart has sixteen times translated it righteousness. But he appears to have been led to adopt the translation he has given in the above verses from the supposed necessity of the case; and, indeed, this was necessary for Mr. Stuart, who not only denies expressly the imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity, but also the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers. This should put Christians on their guard against a translation founded on the denial that Christ’s righteousness is placed to their account for salvation, a doctrine which Dr. Macknight most ignorantly maintains is not to be found in the Bible.

Mr. Stuart observes that there are three expressions, viz., dikaiosu>nh, dikai>wma , and dikai>wsiv , all employed occasionally in the very same sense, viz., that of justification, i.e., acquittal, pardon, freeing from condemnation, accepting and treating as righteous.’ There may be situations in which the one might supply the place of the other, but they have a clear characteristic difference. ‘The difference appears to be this: dikaiosu>nh , the original word in the verse before us, is not justification; it signifies justice or righteousness in the abstract; that is, the quality of righteousness. It signifies also complete conformity or obedience to the law; for if there be any breach of the law, there is no righteousness.

Dikai>wma , as distinguished from this, signifies an act of righteousness, or some righteous deed. It is accordingly used for the ordinances of God, because they are His righteous appointments, and perhaps because they typically refer to the true ‘righteousness of God.’ In a few places it may be an equivalent to dikaiosu>nh. Dikai>wsiv, is neither the one nor the other of the above. It is the act of being justified by this righteousness when on trial. Obedience to law is a different thing from being cleared, or acquitted, or justified, when tried by law. A man is justified on the ground of righteousness. There is the same difference between dikaiosu>n , and dikai>wsiv, that there is in English between righteousness and justification.

In support of his explanation of the phrase, ‘the righteousness of God,’ namely, that it is the justification which God bestows, Mr. Stuart, in the following observations, shows a wonderful misapprehension of the doctrine of those who oppose the view of it which he adopts. On verse he says, ‘What that dikaiosu>nh de< qeou~ (righteousness of God) is, which is cwri>v no>mou (without law), the Apostle next proceeds explicitly to develop. Dikaiosu>nh de... jIhsou~ Cristou~ , the justification which is of God by faith in Jesus Christ. This explanation makes it clear as the noonday sun that dikaiosu>nh qeou~ (righteousness of God), in this connection, does not mean righteousness, or the love of justice, as an attribute of God. For in what possible sense can it be said that God’s righteousness or justice (as an essential attribute) is by faith in Christ?

Does He possess or exercise this attribute, or reveal it, by faith in Christ?

The answer is so plain; that it cannot be mistaken,’ p. 157. Why does Mr. Stuart labor to prove that the phrase in question cannot here mean the justice of God, or a Divine attribute? Does any man suppose that it has here such a sense? We do not understand it of a Divine attribute, but of conformity to law by a Divine work. This righteousness is God’s righteousness, not because it is an attribute of His nature, but because it is the righteousness which God has provided and effected for His people, through the obedience unto death of His own Son. The word dikaiosu>nh , indeed, always signifies righteousness; but it may mean either a personal attribute, or conformity to law. Does not Mr. Stuart himself afterwards explain the phrase in this latter sense? Why, then, does he take it for granted that if it does not signify justification, as he makes it here, it must signify a personal attribute of God? In ch. 4:3, 6, and elsewhere, he admits that the word dikaiosu>nh (righteousness) cannot signify justification, but must be understood as denoting righteousness. ‘To say,’ he observes (p. 177), ‘was counted for justification would make no tolerable sense.’ But nothing can be more obvious than that the Apostle is in Ro 4 treating of the same thing of which he is treating in this chapter, from Ro 3:21. In all this connection he is still speaking of this dikaiosu>nh (righteousness) in the same view. Having here spoken of God’s righteousness, he goes on to show that it was through this very righteousness that Abraham was justified The justification of Abraham, instead of being an exception to what he had been teaching, as if it had been on the ground of Abraham’s own obedience to law, is appealed to by the Apostle as a proof, as well as an illustration and example, of justification by God’s righteousness received by faith.

It makes nothing in favor of Mr. Stuart that there may be instances in which the word dikaiosu>nh (righteousness) may be interpreted by the word justification, so as to make sense. There is no signification that may not be ascribed to any word upon this principle. A word may make sense in a passage, when it is explained in a meaning directly the opposite of its true meaning. This principle the reader may see fully established in the writings of Dr. Carson. Several instances have been alleged from the Septuagint, in which it is asserted that dikaiosu>nh (has the meaning of goodness, etc.; but there is no instance there in which the word may not have its true meaning, and it is only ignorance of the import of the phrase, ‘righteousness of God,’ that has induced writers to give the term a different meaning. For instance, nothing at first sight appears more to countenance the idea that dikaiosu>nh (righteousness) expresses mercy than Ps 51:14. How could David speak of righteousness, if God would deliver him from blood-guiltiness? He might well speak of goodness or compassion, but would not righteousness in God prevent him from being acquitted? Not so. The righteousness of God was what David looked to, -- the same righteousness that is more clearly revealed by Paul in this Epistle. And well might David speak of that righteousness, when by it he was cleared from all the guilt of his enormous wickedness.

The word rendered ‘righteousness,’ Ro 1:17, and in the verse before us, signifies both justice and righteousness; that is to say, conformity to the law. But while both of these expressions denote this conformity, there is an essential difference between them. Justice imports conformity to the law in executing its sentence; righteousness, conformity in obeying its precepts, and this is the meaning of the word here. If these ideas be interchanged or confounded, as they often are, the whole scope of the Apostle’s reasoning will be misunderstood.

In various parts of Scripture this phrase, ‘the righteousness of God,’ signifies either that holiness and rectitude of character which is the attribute of God, or that distributive justice by which He maintains the authority of His law; but where it refers to man’s salvation, and is not merely a personal attribute of Deity, it signifies, as in the passage before us, ver. 21, that fulfillment of the law, or perfect conformity to it in all its demands, which, consistently with His justice, God has appointed and provided for the salvation of sinners. This implies that the infinite justice of His character requires what is provided, and also that it is approved and accepted; for if it be God’s righteousness, it must be required, and must be accepted by the justice of God. The righteousness of God, which is received by faith, denotes something that becomes the property of the believer. It cannot, then, be here the Divine attribute of justice, but the Divine work which God has wrought through His Son. This, therefore, determines the phrase in this place as referring immediately not to the Divine attribute, but to the Divine work. The former never can become ours. This also is decisive against explaining the phrase as signifying a Divine method of justification. The righteousness of God is contrasted with the righteousness of man; and as Israel’s own righteousness, which they went about to establish, was the righteousness of their works, not their method of justification, so God’s righteousness, as opposed to this, Ro 10:3, must be a righteousness wrought by Jehovah. As in 2Co 5:21, the imputation of sin to Christ is contrasted with our becoming the righteousness of God in Him, the latter cannot be a method of justification, but must intimate our becoming perfectly righteous by possessing Christ’s righteousness, which is provided by God for us, and is perfectly commensurate with the Divine justice.

No explanation of the expression, ‘the righteousness of God,’ will at once suit the phrase and the situation in which it is found in the passage before us, but that which makes it that righteousness, or obedience to the law, both in its penalty and requirements, which has been yielded to it by our Lord Jesus Christ. This is indeed the righteousness of God, for it has been provided by God, and from first to last has been effected by His Son Jesus Christ, who is the mighty God and the Father of eternity. Everything that draws it off from this signification tends to darken the Scriptures, to cloud the apprehension of the truth in the children of God, and to corrupt the simplicity that is in Christ. To that righteousness is the eye of the believer ever to be directed; on that righteousness must he rest; on that righteousness must he live; on that righteousness must he die; in that righteousness must he appear before the judgment-seat; in that righteousness must he stand for ever in the presence of a righteous God. ‘I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God: for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness,’ Isa 61:10.

The righteousness of God provided for the salvation of sinners, like that salvation itself, differs essentially from all other righteousness that ever was or can ever be performed. It differs entirely from the righteousness of men and angels in itsAUTHOR, for it is the righteousness not of creatures but of the Creator. ‘I the Lord have created it,Isa 45:8. It is a Divine and infinitely perfect righteousness, wrought out by Jehovah Himself, which in the salvation of man preserves all His attributes inviolate. It is the righteousness of God, as of the Godhead, without respect to distinction of personality, and strictly so in that sense in which the world is the work of God. The Father created it by the Son, in the same way as by the Son He created the world: and if the Father effected this righteousness because His Son effected it, then His Son must be one with Himself. Peter, in his Second Epistle, (2Pe 1:1), according to the literal rendering of the passage, calls this righteousness the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ‘Simon Peter, a servant and an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us, in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.’ Most of the places in which the righteousness of God is spoken of, refer to it as the righteousness of the Fatherly as in 2Co 5:21, where the Father is distinguished from the Son; but in this passage of Peter it is explicitly declared to be the righteousness of the Son, where He is expressly called God. As it would be a palpable contradiction to assert that the work of creation could be executed by any creature, for He that built all things must be God, so the righteousness of God could not be ascribed to Jesus Christ unless He had been in the beginning, ‘God,’ ‘with God,’ and ‘over all, God blessed for ever.’

It was dueling His incarnation that the Son of God wrought out this righteousness. Before He came into the world, He was not a member or subject of the kingdom of heaven, -- He was its Head. He then acted in the form of God, -- that is to say, as the Creator and Sovereign of the world, -- but afterwards in the form of a servant. Before that period He was perfectly holy, but that holiness could not be called obedience. It might rather be said that the law was conformed to Him, than that He was conformed to the law. His holiness was exercised in making the law, and by it governing the world. But in His latter condition it was that law by which He Himself was governed. His righteousness or obedience, then, was that of infinitely the most glorious person that could be subjected to the law. It was the righteousness of Emmanuel, God with us; and this obedience of the Son of God in our nature conferred more honor on the law than the obedience of all intelligent creatures. He gave to every commandment of the law, and to every duty it enjoined, more honor that it had received of dishonor from all the transgressors that have been in the world. When others obey the law, they derive from that obedience honor to themselves; but on the occasion now referred to, it was the law that was honored by the obedience of its Sovereign. ‘The Lord,’ says the Prophet, ‘is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honorable,’ Isa 42:21.

The obedience of Jesus Christ magnified the law, because it was rendered by Divine appointment. He was chosen of God, and anointed for this end.

He was Jehovah, whom Jehovah sent. ‘Lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith Jehovah; and thou shalt know that Jehovah of Hosts hath sent Me unto thee,’ Zec 2:10-11. And when it is considered that the most astonishing work of God which can be conceived is the incarnation of His Son, and His sojourning in the world, and that these wonders were performed in order to magnify the law, it necessarily follows that it is impossible to entertain too exalted an idea of the regard which God has for the character of His holy law. In its AUTHOR, then, this righteousness is immeasurably distinguished from any other righteousness.

And not Only does it differ in itsAUTHOR it differs also in its NATURE, in its EXTENT, in its DURATION, and in its INFLUENCE, from all other righteousness that ever was or ever can be performed.

In its NATURE this righteousness is twofold, fulfilling both the precept of the law and its penalty. This, by any creature the most exalted, is absolutely impossible. The fulfillment of the law, in its precepts, is all that could be required of creatures in their original sinless condition. Such was at the beginning the state of all the angels, and of the first man. But the state of the Second Man, the Lord from heaven, when He came into the world, was essentially different. Christ was made under the law, but it was a BROKEN LAW; and consequently He was made under its curse. This is not only implied when it is said, He was ‘made of a woman,’ who was a transgressor, but it is also expressly asserted that He was ‘made a curse for us,’ Ga 3:13. Justice therefore required that He should fulfill not only the precept, but also the penalty of the law, -- all that it threatens, as well as all that it commands.

A mere creature may obey the precept of the law, or suffer the penalty it denounces, but he cannot do both. If he be a transgressor, he may be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord; and God, whose vengeance he is suffering, being to him an object of unmingled hatred and abhorrence, there can be no place for his repentance, his love, or obedience. But Jesus Christ was capable at the same moment of suffering at the hand of God and of obeying the precept to love God. This was made manifest during the whole period of His incarnation, as well as by the memorable words which He uttered on the cross, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ We are here taught that the prediction by the Prophet, ‘Awake, O sword, against the man that is My fellow,’ was at that moment receiving its accomplishment. The sword of Divine justice, according to the prophetic declarations contained in Ps 22, was then piercing His inmost soul, but still He addressed God as His God.

From this it is evident that, while suffering under the full weight of His Father’s wrath against the sins of His people, which He had taken upon Him, all the feedings both of love and confidence also expressed in the same Psalm were at that moment in full exercise. His righteousness, therefore, or conformity to the law, was at once a conformity in two respects, which could not have been exemplified but by Himself throughout the whole universe.

By the sufferings of Jesus Christ, the execution of the law was complete; while no punishment which creatures could suffer can be thus designated.

The law was fully executed when all the threatenings it contained were carried into effect. Those who are consigned to everlasting punishment will never be able to say, as our blessed Lord said on the cross, ‘It is finished.’

It is He only who could put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself By enduring the threatened punishment, He fully satisfied justice. In token of having received a full discharge, He came forth from the grave; and when He shall appear the second time, it shall be without sin, -- the sin which He had taken upon Him, and all its effects, being for ever done away.

This fulfillment of the law, in its penalty, by the Son of God, is an end which cannot otherwise than through eternity be attained by the punishment of mere creatures. Sin, as committed against God, is an infinite evil, and request an infinite punishment, which cannot be borne in any limited time by those who are not capable of suffering punishment in an infinite degree. But the sufferings, as well as the obedience, in time, of Him who is infinite, are equivalent to the eternal obedience and sufferings of those who are finite.

The doctrine that sin is an infinite evil, and requires an infinite punishment, is objected to by the Socinians. They say that if each sin we commit merits eternal death -- in other words, an infinite punishment -- and since there are almost an infinite number of sins committed by men, then it must be said that they merit an almost infinite number of punishments, and consequently that they cannot be expiated but by a like number of infinite satisfactions. It is replied, that the infinite value of the death of the Redeemer equals an infinite number of infinite punishments.

For such is the nature of infinitude, that it admits of no degrees; it knows nothing of more or less; it cannot be measured; it cannot be augmented; so that ten thousand infinities are still only one infinite. And if Jesus Christ had suffered death as many times as the number of the sins of the redeemed, His satisfaction would not have been greater or more complete than by the one death which He suffered.

The death of the Son of God serves to magnify the law, by demonstrating the certainty of that eternal punishment, which, if broken, it denounces as its penalty. There are no limits to eternity; but when the Son of God bore what was equivalent to the eternal punishment of those who had sinned, He furnished a visible demonstration of the eternal punishment of sin.

But if nothing beyond the suffering of the penalty of the law had taken place, men would only have been released from the punishment due to sin.

If they were to obtain the reward of obedience, its precepts must also be obeyed; and this was accomplished to the utmost by Jesus Christ. Every command it enjoins, as well as every prohibition it contains, were in all respects fully honored by Him. In this manner, and by His sufferings, He fulfilled all righteousness The righteousness, therefore, of our God and Savior Jesus Christ is infinitely glorious. It is the righteousness of the Lawgiver; and, being in its character twofold, it differs entirely in its\parNATURE from all other righteousness, and is of an order infinitely higher than ever was or can be exemplified by any or all of the orders of intelligent creatures.

This righteousness differs also from all other righteousness in its EXTENT.

Every creature is bound for himself to all that obedience to his Creator of which he is capable. He is under the obligation to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his strength, and beyond this he cannot advance. It is evident, therefore, that he can have no superabounding righteousness to be placed in the way of merit to the account of another.

And, besides this, if he has sinned, he is bound to suffer for himself the whole penalty annexed to disobedience, no part of which, consequently, can be borne by him to satisfy for the transgression of others. He is not in possession of a life at his own disposal to lay down for them; and if he had laid it down, it being in that case forfeited for ever, he could not take it again. But the obedience of Jesus Christ, who is Himself infinite, as well as the punishment He suffered, being in themselves of infinite value, are capable of being transferred in their effects without any diminution in their respective values. His life, too, was His own; and as He suffered voluntarily, His obedience and sufferings, which were infinitely meritorious, might, with the most perfect regard to justice, be imputed to as many of those of whose nature He partook, as to the Supreme Ruler shall seem good.

This righteousness likewise differs from all other righteousness in its\parDURATION. The righteousness of Adam or of angels could only be available while it continued to be performed. The law was binding on them in every instant of their existence. The moment, therefore, in which they transgressed, the advantages derived from all their previous obedience ceased. But the righteousness of God, brought in by His Son, is an ‘everlasting righteousness,’ Da 9:24. It was performed within a limited period of time, but in its effects it can never terminate. ‘Lift up your eyes to heaven, and look upon the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished -- My righteousness shall before ever,’ Isa 51:6,8. ‘Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,’ Ps 119:142. ‘By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,’ Heb 10:14. ‘By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption,’ Heb 9:12. In respect to its duration, then, this righteousness reaches back to the period of man’s fall, and forward through the endless ages of eternity.

The paramountINFLUENCE of this righteousness is also gloriously conspicuous. It is the sole ground of the reconciliation of sinners with God, and their justification before Him, and also of intercession with Him before the throne. ‘If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,1Jo 2:1. It is the price paid for those new heavens and that new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness; for that kingdom prepared for those who are clothed with righteousness -- a kingdom commensurate with the dignity of Him for whom it was provided. The paradise in which Adam was placed at his creation was a paradise on earth. It might be corrupted, it might be defiled, and it might fade away, all of which accordingly took place. But the paradise which, in virtue of the righteousness of God, is provided, and to the hope of which, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, His people are begotten, is an inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven. This righteousness, then, is the ransom by which men are delivered from going down to the pit of everlasting destruction, and the price of heavenly and eternal glory. It is the fine linen, clean and white, in which the bride, the Lamb’s wife, shall be arrayed, ‘for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.’ Man was made lower than the angels, but this righteousness exalts him above them. The redeemed people of God stand nearest to the throne, while the angels stand ‘round about’ them. They enter heaven clothed with a righteousness infinitely better than that which angels possess, or in which Adam was created.

The idea which some entertain, that the loss incurred by the fall is only compensated by what is obtained through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, is so far from being just, that the super abounding of the gain is unspeakable and immense. By the disobedience of the first Adam, the righteousness with which he was originally invested was lost for himself and all his posterity, and the sin which he had committed was laid to their charge. By the obedience of the second Adam, not only the guilt of that one offense is removed, but pardon also is procured for all the personal transgressions of the children of God; while the righteousness, infinitely glorious, which He wrought, is placed to their account. By the entrance of sin and death, the inheritance on earth was forfeited. By the gift of the everlasting righteousness, their title to eternal glory in heaven is secured. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Ro 5:16-17.

The evidence of the truth of Christianity might be rested on this one point --THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD provided for the salvation of sinners.

How could such an idea as that of a vicarious everlasting righteousness, to meet all the demands of a BROKEN LAW, have ever entered into the conception of men and angels? If it could have suggested itself to the highest created intelligence, and had the question been asked of all the host of heaven standing around the throne of God, ‘on His right hand and His left,’ Who shall work this righteousness? what answer could have been given? what expedient for its accomplishment could have been proposed by one or all of them together? All must have stood silent before their Maker. As no one in heaven, nor on earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book with the seven seals, neither to look thereon, -- which was a subject of such bitter lamentation to the beloved disciple, -- so no one, neither man nor angel, nor all the elect angels together, could have wrought the righteousness necessary for the justification of a sinner.

He alone who is Emmanuel, God with us, who alone could open that book and loose the seals thereof, could ‘bring in this everlasting righteousness,’ of which it may be truly said that eye had not seen it, nor ear heard it, neither had it entered into the heart of man, till God revealed it by His Spirit. Without law. -- This righteousness is ‘the righteousness of God,’ and altogether independent of any obedience of man to law, more or less. As the righteousness of God is the perfect fulfillment which the law demands, it is evidently impossible that any other righteousness or obedience can be added to it or mixed with it. On the cross, Jesus Christ said, It is finished, -- that is, it is perfected. To exhibit this PERFECTION, this fulfillment of the law, this grand consummation, is the great object of the Apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 6:1. And Christ, it is said, Ro 10:4, is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. In each of these passages the word used for ‘perfection,’24. or ‘end,’ is, in the original, the same as the word ‘finished,’ used on the cross. And those persons are described as ignorant of God’s righteousness who go about to establish their own righteousness, and have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. ‘Without law,’ then, signifies, not without perfect obedience, but without any regard whatever to the obedience of man to the law. The obedience which the believer is enabled to render to the law has no part in his justification, nor could it justify, being always imperfect. The Apostle had, in the foregoing verse, affirmed that by his obedience to the law no man could be justified. He establishes the same truth in Ro 3:28, and in the fifth verse (Ro 4:5) of the fourth chapter, in a manner so explicit, as to place his meaning beyond all question. In the same sense he declares, Ga 3:21, that ‘if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.’ And again, he affirms, Ga 2:21, ‘If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.’ It is needless here to dispute, as many do, about what law the Apostle alludes to, whether moral or ceremonial. It is to the law of God, whether written or unwritten, -- whatever is sanctioned by His authority, whether ceremonial or moral, -- all of which have been fulfilled by the righteousness of God, Mt 3:15.

The righteousness of God is now manifested, -- that is, clearly discovered, or made fully evident. It was darkly revealed in the shadows of the law, and more clearly in the writings of the Prophets; but now it is revealed in its accomplishment. It was manifested in the life and death of Jesus Christ, and was, by His resurrection from the dead, openly declared on the part of God. By Him, who was God manifest in the flesh, it was wrought out while He was on earth. He fulfilled all righteousness; not one jot of the law, either in its precepts or threatenings, passed from it; but all was accomplished; and of this righteousness the Holy Spirit, when He came, was to convince the world, Joh 16:8.

This righteousness is manifested in the doctrine of the Apostles. Besides being introduced so frequently in this Epistle to the Romans, it is often referred to and exhibited in the other apostolical Epistles. To the Apostles was committed the ministration of the new dispensation characterized as the ‘ministration of righteousness,’ 2Co 3:9. By that dispensation, and not by the law, righteousness is come, Ga 2:21.

In writing to the Philippians, Paul calls it ‘the righteousness which is of God by faith, ’ and contrasts it with his own righteousness, which is of the law, Php 3:9. Peter addresses his Second Epistle to those who had obtained precious faith in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, 2Pe 1:1. In one word, besides expressly naming it in many places under the designation of righteousness, the grand theme of the writings of the Apostles, as well as of their preaching, was the obedience and sufferings even unto death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Him they declared to be ‘the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth; ‘while they exposed the error of such as went about to establish their own righteousness, and did not submit themselves to the righteousness of God.

Being witnessed by the law. -- In the first part of this verse, ‘without law,’ where the article is wanting, signifies law indefinitely, -- whatever has been delivered to man by God as His law, and in whatever way; but here, with the article, it refers to the five books of Moses, thus distinguished from the writings of the Prophets, according to the usual division of the Old Testament Scriptures, and adopted by our Lord, Lu 24:44. This righteousness was obscurely testified in the first promise respecting the bruising of the serpent’s head. It was expressly named in the declaration of the manner of Abraham’s justification, where it is recorded that he believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness, Ge 15:6; as also in the covenant which God made with him, of which the sign -- that is, circumcision -- was a seal or pledge of the righteousness which is by faith; and when it was promised that the blessing of Abraham, which is this righteousness, was to come on all nations; Ge 12:3. It was intimated in the writings of Moses, in every declaration of the forgiveness of sin, and every call to repentance.

All the declarations of mercy that are to be found in the law of Moses belong to the Gospel. They are all founded on the Messiah and His righteousness, and are made in consequence of God’s purpose to send His Son in the fullness of time into the world, and of the first promise respecting the seed of the woman.

The righteousness of God was witnessed not only in all the declarations of mercy and calls to repentance, but also by the whole economy of the law of which Moses was the mediator. Abraham was chosen, his posterity collected into a nation, and a country appropriated to them, that from the midst of them, according to His promise, God might raise up a Prophet, who, like unto Moses, was to be a Lawgiver and Mediator, to whom, turning from Moses, they should listen so soon as He appeared, De 18:15,19. The law of everlasting obligation was given to that nation, and renewed after it had been broken by them, and then solemnly deposited in the ark of the testimony, in token that it should be preserved entire, and in due time fulfilled by him of whom the ark was a type.

The sacrifices offered by the patriarchs, and the whole of the ceremonial law in all its typical ordinances and observances, bear their direct though shadowy testimony to the righteousness of God, of which Noah was alike a preacher and an heir, 2Pe 2:5; Heb 11:7.

The righteousness of God was witnessed by the Prophets. Of their testimonies to it the following are a few examples from the Psalms: -- ’Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; and my tongue shall sing aloud of Thy righteousness.’ Ps 51:14. ‘My mouth shall show forth Thy righteousness and Thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only. Thy righteousness, also, O God, is very high. My tongue also shall talk of Thy righteousness all the day long,’ Ps 71:15-16,19,24. ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Righteousness shall go before Him, and shall set us in the way of His steps,’ Ps 85:10,13. ‘In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day; and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted,’ Ps 89:16. ‘Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,’ Ps 119:142. ‘They shall abundantly utter the memory of Thy great goodness, and shall sing of Thy righteousness,’ Ps 145:7.

The righteousness of the Messiah, as connected with salvation, is the constant theme of the Prophets, especially of Isaiah. ‘The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honorable,’ Isa 42:21. ‘Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it,’ Isa 45:8. The heavens were to drop down this righteousness, and the skies were to pour it down, while men’s hearts, barren like the earth without rain, were to be opened to receive it by faith, having no part in doing anything to procure the gift. ‘Surely, shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength: In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory,’ Isa 45:24-25. ‘I bring near My righteousness; it shall not be far off, and My salvation shall not tarry; and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel My glory,’ Isa 46:13. ‘My righteousness is near; My salvation is gone forth -- My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished. Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness,Isa 51:5,7. ‘By His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many,’ Isa 61:11. ‘This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord,’ Isa 54:17. ‘Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be revealed,’ Isa 56:1. ‘For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations,’ Isa 61:11. ‘For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth And the Gentiles shall see Thy righteousness, and all kings Thy glory,’ Isa 62:1-2. ‘Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is His name whereby He shall be called, JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,’ Jer 23:5. ‘Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteous,Da 9:24. ‘It is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you,’ Ho 10:12. ‘But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings,’ Mal 4:2. To Balaam, who beheld the Savior at a distance, He appeared as a star; ‘ There shall come a Star out of Jacob,’ Nu 24:17; while to Malachi, the last of the Prophets, on His nearer approach, He appeared as the sun.


X. Not only has Mr. Tholuck failed in giving any distinct explanation of the term ‘the righteousness of God,’ he has, besides, entirely mistaken the meanest of that other great leading expression, Ro 6:2, ‘dead to sin.’ The former of these terms is laid as the foundation of the doctrine of justification, the latter of that of sanctification . After such interpretations as Mr. Tholuck has given of these declarations which form the groundwork of the grand subjects of discussion in this Epistle, is it surprising that he should so often mistake the meaning of the Apostle, and the train of his argument, or in points of high importance directly contradict him? What has been affirmed of the Commentary of Professor Stuart on this Epistle, applies with equal truth to that of Professor Tholuck. ‘The technicalities of his discussions are a very inadequate compensation for the errors he has broached; and the truth he has elicited may be put in a nutshell. The useful illustrations in his work on the Romans bear no proportion to his pernicious errors.’

24. The import of this word perfection (Heb 6:1), which is the leading expression in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the key to the whole of it, Mr. Stuart has entirely misunderstood in his Commentary on that Epistle, as he has misunderstood the meaning of the phrase, the righteousness of God, the leading expression in this Epistle to the Romans. For the signification of the word perfection, which so often occurs in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and is also misunderstood by the other commentators, I refer to my Evidences, vol. 1: p. 438, third edition.

Romans 3:22

Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe, for there is no difference. 

This righteousness of God, to which the law and the Prophets render their testimony, and which is now manifested in the Gospel, whereby man is justified, is not imputed to him on account of any work of his own in obedience to the law, but is received, as the Apostle had already declared in Ro 1:17, by faith alone. Faith is no part of that righteousness; but it is through faith that it is received, and becomes available for salvation. Faith is the belief of the Divine testimony concerning that righteousness, and trust in Him who is its Author. Faith perceives and acknowledges the excellency and suitableness of God’s righteousness, and cordially embraces it. ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen;’ because, though we do not yet possess what God has promised, and do not yet see it accomplished in ourselves, we see it accomplished in Jesus Christ, in whom what we hope for really exists. In respect to the promises not yet fulfilled, believers are now in the same situation as the fathers were of old respecting the unaccomplished promises in their day. Like them, they see these promises afar off, are persuaded of them, and embrace them. Believers thus flee to Christ and His righteousness as the refuge set before them in the Gospel.

By faith they receive Him as their surety, and place their trust in Him, as representing them on the cross, in His death, and in His resurrection.

Before we can have a right to anything in Christ, we must be one with Him; we must be joined with Him as our head, being dead to the law and married to Him; and as this union is accomplished through faith, His righteousness, which we receive, and which becomes ours in this way, is therefore called the righteousness which is by faith of Jesus Christ, Ro 3:22; the righteousness of faith, Ro 4:11,13; and the righteousness which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith, Php 3:9. It is called the righteousness of faith, because faith is the only instrument which God is pleased to employ in applying His righteousness. It is not called the righteousness of any other grace but of faith; we never read of the righteousness of repentance, of humility, of meekness, or of charity. These are of great price in the sight of God, but they have no office in justifying a sinner. This belongs solely to faith; for to him that worketh not, but believeth, is righteousness imputed; and faith is the gift of God.

This righteousness is unto all. -- It is set before all, and proclaimed to all, according to the commandment of our blessed Lord, -- ’ Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.’ Upon all, is connected with the words that follow, viz., them that believe. While it is proclaimed to all men, it is actually upon believers. It is not put into them, as their sanctification is brought in the soul by the Holy Spirit; but it is placed upon them as a robe: -- ’He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness,Isa 61:10. It is the white raiment given by Jesus Christ to them who hear His voice, that they may be clothed, and that the shame of their nakedness may not appear, Re 3:18. It is the fine linen, clean and white, with which the bride, the Lamb’s wife, is arrayed; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints, Re 19:8. Thus Jesus Christ is made of God, to them that are in Him, righteousness, Corinthians 1:30. Righteousness. -- ’ This, doubtless, is meant,’ says Archbishop Leighton, in his sermon on 1Co 1:30, ‘of the righteousness by which we are justified before God; and He is made this to us, applied by faith: his righteousness becomes ours. That exchange made, our sins are laid over upon Him, and His obedience put upon us. This, the great glad tidings, that we are made righteous by Christ: It is not a righteousness wrought by us, but given to us, and put upon us. This, carnal reason cannot apprehend, and, being proud, therefore rejects and argues against it, and says, how can this thing be? But faith closes with it, and rejoices in it; without either doing or suffering, the sinner is acquitted and justified, and stands as guiltless of breach, yea, as having fulfilled the whole law. And happy they that thus fasten upon this righteousness -- they may lift up their faces with gladness and boldness before God: whereas the most industrious self-saving justiciary, though in other men’s eyes, and his own, possibly, for the present, he makes a glistering show, yet when he shall come to be examined of God, and tried according to the law, he shall be covered with shame, and confounded in his folly and guiltiness. But faith triumphs over self-unworthiness, and sin, and death, and the law; shrouding the soul under the mantle of Jesus Christ; and there it is safe.

All accusations fall off, having nowhere to fasten, unless some blemish could be found in that righteousness in which faith hath wrapt itself. This is the very spring of solid peace, and fills the soul with peace and joy. But still men would have something within themselves to make out the matter, as if this robe needed any such piecing, and not finding what they desire, thence disquiet and unsettlement of mind arise! True it is that faith purifies the heart and works holiness, and all graces flow from it: But in this work of justifying the sinner it is alone, and cannot admit of any mixture.’

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

The Apostle introduces this parenthesis to preclude the supposition that the receiving of the righteousness of God is not indispensably necessary to every individual of the human race in order to his salvation, and lest it should be imagined that there is any difference in the way in which, or on account of which, it is received. As there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles with respect to their character as sinners, so there is no difference with respect to them as to the receiving of God’s righteousness -- no difference either as to sin or salvation -- all of them are guilty, and salvation through faith is published to them all. ‘For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him,’ Ro 10:12. Before men receive this righteousness, they are all under the curse of the broken law, and in a state of condemnation. Whatever distinction there may be among them otherwise, whether moral in their conduct, good and useful members of society, discharging respectably and decently the external duties of that situation in which they are placed, or having a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, and going about to establish their own righteousness, -- or whether they be immoral in their lives, entirely abandoned to every vice, -- they all stand equally in need of this righteousness -- it is equally preached to them all -- it is in the same manner bestowed upon all who believe. The reason of this is, that all have sinned -- all, without one exception, as had been proved, are ‘under sin.’

The Apostle adds, as a consequence of this, that they have come short of the glory of God. They have come short, as in running a race, having now lost all strength ( Ro 5:6) and ability in themselves to glorify God, and attain to the possession and enjoyment of His glory. In the second chapter, the Apostle, in announcing the terms of the law, had declared that the way to obtain eternal life was in seeking for glory by patient continuance in well-doing, and that to those who work good, honor and peace would be awarded. In other words, ‘if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments; ‘but he had afterwards proved that in this way it was altogether unattainable, since by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified. In this place he more briefly repeats the same truth, that all men, without exception, being sinners, have come short of this glory, while he is pointing out the way in which, through the atonement of the Savior, and faith in that atonement, believers may now ‘rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’ All men, on the ground of their obedience to law, come short of glorifying God, for to glorify God is the whole of the law, -- even the second table is to be obeyed to glorify God, who requires it. If they come short of obeying the law, they have, as sinners, come short of that glory, and honor, and immortality, in His presence, which can only be obtained through the ‘salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory,’ 2Ti 2:10.

Romans 3:24

Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Justified. -- Justification stands opposed both to accusation and condemnation. ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?’ ‘Them whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth; not by infusing righteousness into them,’ as is well expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith, ‘but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous, -- not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience, to them as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.’ Or, according to Dr. Owen On Justification, ‘This imputation is an act of God, ex mera gratia , of His mere love and grace, whereby, on the consideration of the mediation of Christ, He makes an effectual grant and donation of a true, real, perfect righteousness -- even that of Christ Himself -- unto all that do believe, and accounting it as theirs, on His own gracious act, both absolves them from sin, and granteth them right and title unto eternal life.’

The Helvetic Confession of Faith, adopted by the church at Geneva in 1536, and by all the evangelical churches in Switzerland thirty years afterwards, explains justification as follows: -- ’The word, to justify, signifies, in the writings of the Apostle St. Paul, when he speaks of justification, to pardon sins, to absolve from guilt and punishment, to receive into grace, and to declare righteous. The righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to believers. -- Our Savior is then charged with the sins of the world, He has taken them away, He has satisfied Divine justice. It is, then, only on account of Jesus Christ, dead and risen, that God, pacified towards us, does not impute to us our sins, but that He imputes to us the righteousness of his Son, as if it were ours; so that thenceforward, we are not only cleansed from our sins, but, besides, clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and by it absolved from the punishment of sins, from death, or from condemnation, accounted righteous, and heirs of eternal life. Thus, to speak properly, it is God only who justifies us, and He justifies us solely for the sake of Jesus Christ, not imputing to us our sins, but imputing to us the righteousness of Christ.’

In the Homily of the Church of England, on ‘justification,’ it is said -- ’Justification is not the office of man, but of God; for man cannot make himself righteous by his own works, neither in part nor in whole; for that were the greatest arrogancy and presumption of man that Antichrist could set up against God, to affirm that a man might, by his own works, take away and purge his own sins, and so justify himself.

But justification is the office of God only, and is not a thing which we render unto Him, but which we receive of Him; not which we give to Him, but which we take of Him by His free mercy, and by the only merits of His most dearly beloved Son, our only Redeemer, Savior, and Justifier, Jesus Christ: So that the true understanding of this doctrine, we be justified freely by faith without works, or that we be justified by Christ only, is not that this our own act to believe in Christ, or this our faith in Christ which is within us doth justify us, and deserve our justification unto us (for that were to count ourselves to be justified by some act or virtue that is within ourselves), but the true understanding and meaning thereof is, that although we hear God’s word, and believe it, although we have faith, hope, charity, repentance, dread, and fear of God within us, do never so many works thereunto; yet we must renounce the merit of all our said virtues, of faith, hope, charity, and all other virtues, which we either have done, shall do, or can do, as things that must be far too weak, and insufficient, and imperfect; to deserve remission of our sins and our justification; and therefore we must trust only in God’s mercy, and that sacrifice which our High Priest and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God, once offered for us on the cross.’ Again, ‘This doctrine all old and ancient authors of Christ’s Church do approve. This doctrine adorneth and setteth forth the glory of Christ, and beateth down the glory of man; this whosoever denieth, is not to be accounted for a Christian man, nor for a setter forth of Christ’s glory, but for an adversary of Christ and His Gospel, and for a setter forth of man’s vain glory.’ The above quotations are not given in the way of authority, but as expressing the truth, and evincing the unanimity of believers of different communions on this all-important point. The sum of them is, that believers are absolved from condemnation, and entitled to eternal life, by the free and sovereign favor of God as its original first moving cause, without any desert in themselves, but solely in virtue of the righteousness of Christ, which includes an infinitely valuable price of redemption, a price that was paid for them by His obedience and sufferings to death.

There is no ‘condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.’ The moment a sinner is united to Him, the sentence of condemnation under which he formerly lay, is remitted, and a sentence of justification is pronounced by God. Justification, then, is at once complete -- in the imputation of a perfect righteousness, the actual pardon of all past sins, the virtual pardon of future sins, and the grant and title to the heavenly inheritance. The believer is found in Christ having the righteousness which is of God, Php 3:9. ‘Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness,Isa 45:24. He is complete in Christ, Col 2:10, who, by one offering, hath for ever perfected him, Heb 10:14.

In Him the law has been fulfilled, Ro 8:4; his sin has been made Christ’s, and the righteousness which God requireth by the law has been made his. ‘He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,’ 2Co 5:21.

On this passage Chrysostom remarks, ‘What word, what speech is this? what mind can comprehend or express it? For He saith, He made Him who was righteous to be made a sinner, that He might make sinners righteous.

Nor yet doth He say so neither, but that which is far more sublime and excellent. For He speaks not of an inclination or affection, but expresseth the quality itself. For He says not, He made him a sinner, but sin, that we might be made not merely righteous, but righteousness -- and that the righteousness of God.’CC. When we are here said to be made the righteousness of God in Him, the meaning is, that we are made righteous in such a degree as admits of no addition. We could not be more righteous if our whole nature and constitution were made up of this one attribute, and there were nothing in us or about us but righteousness.

After the Lord Jesus Christ condescended to take on Him our sins, it would not have been just for Him not to account for them; His responsibility for them was then the same as if He had Himself sinned. On this proceeded God’s treatment of Him in hiding His face from Him, till the debt was paid. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; that is, being cursed, as the Apostle explains it.

As the sins of Israel were all laid on the head of the scapegoat, so ‘the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ ‘How could He die,’ says Charnock, ‘if He was not a reputed sinner? Had He not first had a relation to our sin, He could not in justice have undergone our punishment. He must, in the order of justice, be supposed a sinner really, or by imputation. Really He was not; by imputation, then, He was.’ On the whole, believers are accounted and pronounced righteous by God; and if so accounted by Him, it is and must be true in fact that they are righteous, for righteousness is imputed to them; that is, it is placed to their account -- made over to them, because really theirs -- and, therefore, without the smallest deviation from truth or fact -- which is impossible in the great Judge -- he will, from His throne of judgment in the last day, pronounce them ‘righteous,Mt 25:37,46.

The plan of salvation through the righteousness of Jesus Christ is so deep and astonishing an instance of Divine wisdom, that while it is not at all perceived by the wisdom of the world, it even in some measure lies hid from those who are savingly enlightened by it. Many Christians are afraid to give the scriptural language on this subject the full extent of its meaning; and instead of representing themselves as being made righteous, perfectly righteous; by the righteousness of the Son of Gods they look on their justification as merely an accounting of them as righteous while they are not so in reality. They think that God mercifully looks on them in a light which is more favorable than the strictness of truth will warrant. But the Scriptures represent believers as truly righteous, possessing a righteousness fully answerable to all the demands of the law. By their union with Christ they are ‘dead to sin,’ and the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in them, Ro 8:4. They have paid its penalty and fulfilled its utmost demands, and are ‘made the righteousness of God in Him.’ God never accounts any one to be what he is not in reality; and as Christ righteousness is reckoned ours as well as Adam’s sin, believers ought to consider themselves as truly righteous in Christ as they are truly guilty in Adam. These two facts mutually reflect light on each other. Adam was the figure of Christ, and our sin in Adam is perfectly analogous to our righteousness in Christ, ‘For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,’ Ro 5:19. Freely by his grace. -- The expression is redoubled, to show that all is of God, and that nothing in this act of justification belongs to, or proceeds from man. It is perfectly gratuitous on the part of God, both as to the mode of conveyance and the motive on which it is vouchsafed. Nothing being required of man in order to his justification, in the way of price or satisfaction, and there being no prerequisite or preparatory dispositions to merit it at the hand of God, believers are therefore said to be justified by His grace, which excludes on their part both price and merit. And lest it should be imagined that grace does not proceed in its operation, as well as in the choice of its objects, consistently with its character of sovereign and unmerited goodness, the Apostle adds the word freely; that is, without cause or motive on the part of man. The word here rendered ‘freely’ is the same as that used by our Lord when He says, they hated Me without a cause, Joh 15:25. ‘Freely’ (gratuitously) ye have receded, freely give, Mt 10:8; 2Co 11:7; 2Th 3:8; ‘For naught’ (gratis), Re 21:6, and Re 22:17; or without price, as Isa 55:1. This term ‘freely’ in the most absolute manner excludes all consideration of anything in man as the cause or condition of his justification. The means by which it is received is faith; and, in the commencement of the next chapter, faith is placed in opposition to all works whatever, and in Ro 4:16 it is said, ‘Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.’ Faith is the constituted medium through which man receives ‘the gift of righteousness;’ because, as Paul there affirms, it interferes not with the gratuitous nature of the gift. It is impossible to express more strongly than in this place, that justification is bestowed without the smallest regard to anything done by man. It cannot be pretended that it comes in consequence of repentance, or anything good either existing or foreseen in him. God ‘justifieth the ungodly,’ Ro 4:5. It comes, then, solely by grace -- free, unmerited favor. ‘And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace,’ Ro 11:6. This is said respecting the election of believers to eternal life, and equally holds, according to the passage before us, in respect to their justification. Speaking of the advocates of human merit, ‘What can they say,’ observes Luther, in answer to Erasmus, ‘to the declaration of St. Paul? Being justified freely by His grace. Freely, what does that word mean? How are good endeavors and merit consistent with a gratuitous donation? Perhaps you do not insist on a merit of condignity, but only of congruity. Empty distinctions. How does Paul in one word confound in one mass all the assertors of every species and of every degree of merit?

All are justified freely, and without, the works of the law. He who affirms the justification of all men who are justified to be perfectly free and gratuitous, leaves no place for works, merits, or preparations of any kind -- no place for works either of condignity or congruity; and thus, at one blow, he demolishes both the Pelagians with their complete merits, and our sophists with their petty performances.’ Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. -- The great blessing of justification is described above as proceeding from the free grace of God, which is the fountain from whence flow pardon, righteousness, and salvation, excluding all works, whether before or after faith. Here it is referred to the meritorious price provided by God, and that is the redemption which is in Christ Jesus For though it comes freely to man, yet it is through the redemption or purchase of the Son of God.

The word redemption signifies a buying back, and necessarily supposes an alienation of what is redeemed. In general, it imports a deliverance effected by a price, and sometimes a deliverance by power. In this last sense it is said, ‘Now these are Thy servants, and Thy people, whom Thou hast redeemed by Thy great power,’ Ne 1:10. ‘I will redeem you with a stretched out arm,’ Ex 6:6; Ps 77:15. The resurrection of the body by an act of Divine power is called a redemption, Ps 49:15; Ro 8:23. But, more generally, redemption signifies, in Scripture, deliverance by price, as that of slaves, or prisoners, or persons condemned, when they are delivered from slavery, captivity, or death, by means of a ransom. The word is here used in this last acceptation. Man had rebelled against God, and incurred the just condemnation of His law; but God, by His free grace, and of infinite compassion, hath substituted His own Son in the place of the guilty, and transferred from them to Him the obligation of their punishment. He hath made Him to suffer and die for their sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring them to Himself. ‘His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree,’ 1Pe 3:18; 2:24. In this manner the Scriptures represent the blood or death of Jesus Christ as the ransom price. He came to give His life a ransom for many, Mt 20:28; 1Co 6:20. ‘Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ,’ 1Pe 1:18. ‘Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood,’ Re 5:9. ‘Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved; in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence,’ Eph 1:5-8; Col 1:14. If, then, we are accounted righteous before God, because redeemed with a price paid by another, we receive what is not in ourselves, or in any measure from ourselves.

In every place in Scripture where our redemption in Christ is mentioned, there is an allusion to the law of redemption among the Jews. This law is contained in Le 25, where we find regulations laid down for a twofold redemption, a redemption of persons and a redemption of possessions. The redemption of possessions or inheritances is regulated, Le 25:23-28, and that of persons, from Le 25:47-55. In both these cases, none had a right to redeem but either the person himself who had made the alienation, or some other that was near of kin to him. But none of Adam’s family ever was, or ever will be, able to redeem himself or others. ‘None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him; for the redemption of their soul is precious,’ Ps 49:7. It is too precious to be accomplished by such means; and had there been no other, it would have ‘ceased for ever.’ All mankind had been engaged in a warfare against God, and, as rebels, were condemned to death. Satan had taken the whole human race captive, and employed them in the drudgery of sin. From the sentence of death and the slavery of sin, it was impossible for any of them ever to have been set free, if Christ had not paid the ransom of His blood. But He, the Son of God, having from all eternity undertaken the work of redemption of those whom God gave Him, and being substituted by the everlasting covenant which God made with Him in their place, the right of redemption was vested in Him, by virtue of His covenant relation to them. And that nothing might be wanting either to constitute Him their legal kinsman-Redeemer, or to evidence Him to be so, He took on Him their nature, and in that nature paid their ransom to the last mite. Thus He performs the part of the Redeemer of His people, redeeming them from slavery and from death, and redeeming for them that inheritance which they had forfeited, and which they could not redeem for themselves. In some cases both these sorts of redemption were conjoined, and the person redeemed was espoused to him who redeemed her; and in this manner our Lord Jesus Christ has redeemed His Church. Having redeemed the heavenly inheritance for her, He has at the same time redeemed her from her state of bondage, and has betrothed her to Himself. ‘I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord,’ Ho 2:19-20.

The Socinian talks of redemption as an act merely of God’s power, and of Christ as offering His sacrifice by presenting Himself in heaven after His death. But this is not redemption. There is not only a price paid, but that price is expressly stated. ‘In whom we have redemption through His blood.’ His blood, then, is the price by which we have redemption, ‘even the forgiveness of sins,’ Col 1:14. The same thing that is redemption, is in another point of view forgiveness; yet these two things in human transactions are incompatible. Where there is forgiveness, there is no price or redemption; where there is redemption there is no forgiveness. But in the salvation of the Gospel there are both. There is a price; but as God Himself has paid the price, it is forgiveness with respect to man, as much as if there had been no price. How wonderful is the wisdom of God manifested in the Gospel! Grace and justice, mercy and punishment, are blended together in the most perfect harmony.

Many seem to think that nothing can be essentially wrong in the views of those who speak of gratuitous salvation. Yet this may be most explicitly confessed, and the distinguishing features of the Gospel overlooked or even denied. Arians do not deny a gratuitous salvation. They contend that salvation is gratuitous, and boast that they are the only persons who consistently hold this doctrine. Calvinists, they say, have not a God of mercy: He gives nothing without a price. Their God they boast, is a God of mercy; for He pardons without any ransom. Now the glory of the Gospel is, that grace reigns through righteousness. Salvation is of grace; but this grace comes to us in a way ofRIGHTEOUSNESS. It is grace to us; but it was brought about in such a way that all our debt was paid. This exhibits God as just, as well as merciful. Just; in requiring full compensation to justice; and merciful, because it was He, and not the sinner, who provided the ransom. He who is saved, is saved without an injury to justice. Salvation is in one point of view forgiveness, but in another it is redemption.

Still, however, it is urged, that though it is here said that God justifies man freely by His grace, yet, as a price has been paid for it, this takes away from the freeness of the gift. But He who pays the ransom is one and the same, as has just been observed, with Him who justifies; so that the freeness of the blessing on the part of God is not in the smallest degree diminished. This proves that the doctrine of a free justification, through an atonement, rests entirely on the doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ; on which also rests the transfer of His righteousness to the guilty; for, as has already been shown, no mere creature can have the least particle of merit to transfer to another. Every creature is bound for himself to fulfill the whole law. After doing all that is possible for him in the way of obedience, he must confess himself to be an unprofitable servant, Lu 17:10.

This redemption is in, or by, Christ Jesus. -- It is wholly in Him, and solely accomplished by Him. Through the period of His ministry on earth, His disciples who followed Him were not aware of the work He was accomplishing. During His agony in the garden they were asleep. When seized by His persecutors to be put to death, they all forsook Him and fled. ‘Behold,’ says He, ‘the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone.’ No one participated or bore any share with Him in that great work, which, according to His appeal to His Father, on which He founded the petitions He offered for Himself and His people, He alone had consummated: ‘I have gloried Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.’


CC. To explain Christ’s being made and in this passage, with Dr. Macknight, Mr. Stuart, and others, as signifying His being made a sin-offering, ought to be most strenuously rejected. It entirely perverts the meaning of the passage, which asserts the transference of the sin of the believer to Christ, and of Christ’s righteousness to the believers He submitted not only to be treated as a sin-offering, but to be made sin for His people. It takes away the contrast, and obscures one of the strongest expressions of the vicarious nature of Christ’s sufferings that is to be found in the Bible. In the same way, when it is said (Heb 9:28), He shall ‘appear the second time without sin unto salvation,’ the true meaning of the passage is lost by changing the phrase, ‘without sin,’ as in the common version, to ‘without a sin-offering,’ according to Dr. Macknight and Mr. Stuart. When Jesus Christ first appeared, He came covered over with the sin which was imputed to Him; but when He shall come the second time, not the smallest remainder of it shall be found either upon Him or His people.

Romans 3:25

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.

In the end of the preceding verse, the Apostle had said that believers are justified freely by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. This redemption he here further explains. God hath set forth His Son to be a propitiatory sacrifice to make satisfaction to His justice.

The expression, set forth, means to exhibit to public view -- to place before the eyes of men -- to manifest, -- according as it is said, ‘Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for you,’ 1Pe 1:20. To be a propitiation. -- Some understand this as meaning a propitiatory, signifying the mercy-seat, as the same word is translated, Heb 9:5; some as a propitiatory sacrifice, which is to be preferred. But it comes to the same thing, if, according to our translation, it be rendered propitiation, considering the word to be the adjective taken substantively. And this is countenanced by 1Jo 2:2, and 1Jo 4:10, though a different word is employed, but of the same derivation. By a propitiation is meant that which appeareth the wrath of God for sins and obtains His favor, as it is said, Heb 2:17, where the corresponding verb is used, to make reconciliation for (to propitiate) the sins of the people; and ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ He was thus pacified towards believers in Jesus Christ, and made favorable to them, the demands of His law and justice being satisfied, and every obstruction to the exercise of His mercy towards them removed. This propitiation of Christ was typified by the propitiatory sacrifices whose blood was shed, and by the mercy-seat, which was called the propitiatory, that illustrious type of Christ and His work, covering the ark in which the law to be fulfilled by Him was deposited, and on it, and before it, the blood of the sacrifices was sprinkled by the high priest. Through faith in His blood. -- This propitiation was made by blood, by which is to be understood all the sufferings of Christ, and, above all, His death, by which they were consummated. And this becomes a propitiation to us through faith in His blood, -- that is, when we believe that His death is a sacrifice which make atonement for us, and when we rest on it as a sufficient answer to all accusations against us of the law of God, which in the punishment of death it demanded for sin, for ‘without shedding of blood is no remission.’

The expression, ‘through faith in His blood,’ limits to believers the effect of this propitiation. 1.

God hath not only set forth His Son to be a propitiatory sacrifice, to be available through faith in His blood, but also hath done this to declare or manifest His righteousness. Righteousness. -- Some here translate this word faithfulness, or the righteousness of the character of God, or veracity; some goodness; some holiness; some pardoning mercy. But all are wrong, and such translations are opposed to the sense of the passage. It is righteousness, namely, the righteousness of God, on account of which the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, Ro 1:17, to which the Apostle had recurred in Ro 3:21-22, declaring that it is now manifested. ‘Righteousness’ in the above passages is the same as in the one before us, and in the following verse. In Ro 3:21-22, the expression employed is the ‘righteousness of God;’ and in this and the following verse, ‘His righteousness.’ Is it then to be supposed that, in repeating the same expression four times in the same breath, and with a view to establish the same truth, the Apostle used it in various senses, -- first, as that righteousness which fulfills the law which God has provided for sinners; and then as the faithfulness, or goodness, or holiness, or mercy, or justice of God, or the righteousness of His character? -- ideas entirely different from the former. That the meaning of the expression, ‘His righteousness,’ is the same in this and the following verse as that of the ‘righteousness of God’ in Ro 3:21-22, appears unquestionable, from the reason given in this Ro 3:25 verse for setting forth Jesus Christ to be a propitiation for sin. This, as is twice repeated, first here, and then in the following verse, was for the purpose of declaring or manifesting God’s righteousness. In Ro 3:21 it is asserted that the righteousness of God is now manifested; and in Ro 3:25 it is shown in what way it is now manifested, namely, by setting forth Christ as a propitiation for sin; and in the following verse the reason is given, namely, for what purpose it is now manifested. On the whole, then, notwithstanding that a different sense is generally affixed to it by commentators, it appears clear that the signification of the expression ‘righteousness’ is the same in each of these four verses, which stand in so close a connection. This signification being the same in all the above instances, and generally in the various other places in the Epistle, in which it so often occurs, entirely corresponds with the whole tenor of the Apostle’s discourse, which is to prove that a perfect righteousness is provided by God for man, who has lost his own righteousness, and on which he had so forcibly dwelt throughout Ro 1 and Ro 2 and down to Ro 3:21 before us. For the remission of sins that are past; -- rather, as to, or with regard to, the passing by of sins before committed. Jesus Christ hath been set forth by God to be a propitiatory sacrifice, by which He brought in ‘everlasting righteousness,’ and by which it is now publicly manifested. On account, then, of this righteousness, even before it was introduced, God pardoned or remitted the sins of His people under the Old Testament dispensation.

These, having received the promises, although their accomplishment was yet afar off, were persuaded of them and embraced them; thus exercising faith in the blood of that great propitiatory sacrifice which was typified by the legal sacrifices, and through this faith they received the remission of their sins. Through the forbearance of God. -- It was owing to God’s forbearance that He passed by the sins of His people before the death of Christ, till which time His law was not honored, and His justice had received no satisfaction. No sufficient atonement previous to that event was made for their sins, yet, through the forbearance of God, He did not immediately proceed to punish them, but had respect to the everlasting righteousness to be brought in, in the fullness of time, Da 9:24, by the propitiatory sacrifice of His Son, by which their sins were to be expiated. This verse beautifully indicates the ground on which Old Testament saints were admitted into heaven before the death of Christ.

The same truth is declared in the Epistle to the Heb 9:15, where the Apostle refers to the inefficacy of the legal sacrifices to take away sins, and speaks of the blood of Jesus, by which He entered into the holy place, and obtained eternal redemption for His people. ‘And for this cause He is the Mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called (literally the called) might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.’ All the people on whom the blood of the sacrifices was sprinkled, were sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, but those of them who were efficaciously called, and offered the sacrifices in faith of the promise of God, received a real remission of their sins. They were, like Noah, heirs of the righteousness which is by faith, and consequently partakers in its benefits. To the same purpose the Apostle speaks towards the end of that Epistle, of ‘the spirits of just men made perfect,Heb 12:23. They had entered heaven on the pledge of that righteousness which was afterwards to be wrought; but until that took place, their title to heavenly glory had not been completed or perfected. AA. Hence the declaration at the end of the eleventh chapter of that Epistle, ‘that they without us should not be made perfect,’ that is, without the introduction of that righteousness in the days of the Gospel, the ministration of which was committed to the Apostles, 2Co 3:3.


1. This passage makes clear the meaning of 1Jo 2:2: -- 'He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,' -- for all, the Jews and Gentiles, who have faith in His blood. In the end of that Epistle, 1Jo 5:19, the expression ‘the whole world’ is also used in a restricted sense, being distinguished from those who are ‘of God.’ ‘And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.’

AA. Mr. Stuart’s explanation is, ‘exalted to a state of final reward.’ This is not the truth here; declared. The other commentators equally mistake the meaning, explaining it to signify exalted to a state of holiness and felicity.

Romans 3:26

To declare, I say at this time His righteousness; that He might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

God hath at this time also set forth His Son as a propitiatory sacrifice, in order to make manifest His righteousness, on account of which now, under the Gospel dispensation, He remits the sins of His people. He was always just in forgiving sin, but now the ground on which He forgives it is manifested, which vindicates His justice in doing so. The word here rendered just, is variously translated by those who do not understand God’s plan of salvation. Some make it to signify benevolent, kind, merciful, etc.; but it has here its own proper meaning, which it never deserts. God is just; He acts according to strict justice, as becometh His character, while He justifies, accounts, and treats as perfectly righteous all who believe in Jesus, who are thus one with Him, and consequently have His righteousness imputed to them. In all this we see the accomplishment of that prediction, ‘Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase. Righteousness shall go before Him, and shall set us in the way of His steps,’ Ps 85:10.

From the last two verses we learn that, in the continuance of the legal dispensation, not with standing the sins of men, and also in the preservation of the nations, God had suspended the immediate effects of His justice. For if He had not acted in this manner, He would at once have put an end to that dispensation and to the economy of His providence with respect to the other nations in destroying both them and the people of Israel. During all that time which preceded the coming of His Son, He appeared to have forgotten the merited punishment of men’s sins, and all the world remained under the shadow of His forbearance. But when Jesus Christ came, God did two things: the first was to continue no longer an economy of patience, or of an apparent forgetfulness of sin, bat to bring in everlasting righteousness, by which He bestowed a true justification, which the law, whether written or natural, could not do, as it left men under guilt; but Jesus Christ has brought the true grace of God. The second thing which God has done, is to manifest, in the revelation of His righteousness, His avenging justice, by the shedding of the blood of His Son upon the cross. And thus he now appears to be just in Himself as the real avenger of sins, and, at the same time, the justifier of men, granting them a real remission of their sins by the imputation of His righteousness, which answers every demand of law and justice; whereas in the period of the forbearance of God, which continued to the time of Jesus Christ, God neither appeared just nor justifying. He did not appear just, for He suspended the effects of His justice. He did not appear the justifier, for He seemed only to suspend for a time the punishment of sins, and to leave men under the obligation of that punishment. But in the economy of Jesus Christ He manifests Himself both as just and as the justifier, for He displays the awful effects of His justice in the person of His Son in the work of propitiation, in the shedding of His blood; and, at the same time, He justifies His people, granting to them a true remission of their sins.

And when the greatness of Him by whom this expiation was made is considered, the glory of the Divine justice, as exhibited in His death, is elevated in the highest possible degree.

In the propitiation, then, of Jesus Christ, the justice of God in the salvation of sinners shines conspicuously. No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son hath in His own person revealed Him. Jesus Christ was set forth to display every attribute of Godhead. The wisdom and power of God are seen in the constitution and person of Christ and His work, incomparably more fully than in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Perfect justice, mercy, and love to sinners, are beheld nowhere else. Here God is revealed as infinite in mercy ; not so the God of man’s imagination, whose mercy is a mixture of injustice and weak compassion, and extends only to those who are supposed to deserve it. But in the incarnate God infinite mercy is extended to the chief of sinners. Here is pure mercy without merit on the part of man. And where do we find the perfection of Divine justice? Not in the God of man’s imagination, where justice is tempered with mercy, and limited in a thousand ways. Not even in the eternal punishment of the wicked shall we find justice so fully displayed as in the propitiation of Jesus Christ. He gave justice all it could demand, so that it is now shown to have secured the salvation of the redeemed in every age of the world as much as mercy itself. God is shown not only to be merciful to forgive, but He is faithful and just to forgive the sinner his sins. Justice, instead of being reduced to the necessity of taking a part from the bankrupt, has received full payment, and guarantees his deliverance. Even the chief of sinners are shown, in the propitiatory sacrifice of their Surety, to be perfectly worthy of Divine love, because they are not only perfectly innocent, but have the righteousness of God He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

Romans 3:27

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works?

Nay; but by the law of faith. Where is boasting then? -- That is, according to the doctrine which the Apostle, by the Spirit of God, is teaching. There is no ground for it, or for ascribing salvation in any part or degree to the works of men. This shows that salvation was appointed to come to the redeemed through faith, for the very purpose of excluding all pretenses to allege that human merit has any share in it. This applies to all works, moral as well as ceremonial. If ceremonial works only were here meant, as many contend, and if moral works have some influence in procuring salvation, or in justification, then the Apostle could not have asked this question. Boasting would not have been excluded.

Paul had declared the only way in which a man can be ‘just with God.’ He had proved that it is not by His own righteousness, which is of the law, but by that righteousness which is received by faith. This is clear from what had been advanced in the preceding verse, from which this is an inference. If, then -- as if he had said -- God had purposed that men should have any group of boasting, He would not have set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, that thereby a way might be opened for justifying sinners, so that His justice might suffer no prejudice.

But now He has taken this course; and therefore the only way of justification precludes all boasting. ‘Paul is not here,’ says Calvin, ‘disputing merely concerning ceremonies, or any external works, but comprehends all works of every kind and degree. Boasting is excluded without all doubt, since we can produce nothing of our own that merits the approbation or commendation of God.

And here he is not speaking of limitation or diminution of merit, since he does not allow the least particle of it. Thus, if boasting of works be removed by faith, so that it takes away from man all praise, while all power and glory are ascribed to God, it follows that no works whatever contribute to the attainment of righteousness.’ By what law is boasting excluded? -- It is not by that of works; for if works were admitted, in the smallest degree, to advance or aid man’s justification, he might in that proportion have ground of boasting. It is, then, by the law of faith; not by a law requiring faith, or as if the Gospel was a law, a new law, or, as it has been termed, a remedial or mitigated law; but the word law is here used in allusion to the law of works, according to a figure usual in the Scriptures. By the same figure Jesus says, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe in Him whom He hath sent.’

Here faith is called a work, for a similar reason. Faith in the righteousness of Christ is, by the appointment of God, the medium of a sinner’s justification, without any consideration of works. This way of justification clearly shows that a man has no righteousness of his own, and that he can obtain nothing by means of conformity to the law, which can have no place, since he must admit that he is a transgressor. It impels him to flee out of himself, and to lay hold of the righteousness of another, and so leaves no room for glorying or boasting in himself, or in his own performances more or less. His justification is solely by faith; and it is clear that to believe a testimony, and rely on what has been done by another, furnish no ground for boasting. ‘Therefore it is by faith, that it might be by grace.’ The whole plan of salvation proceeds on this principle, ‘that no flesh should glory in His presence,’ but ‘that, according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.’ No ingenuity can ever make elevation by human merit consistent with the passage before us.

Romans 3:28

Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Therefore we conclude. -- In Ro 3:20 the Apostle had arrived at the conclusion, from all he had said before, that by works of law no man shall be justified in the sight of God. He had next pointed out the way of justification by faith in the atonement; and here He comes to His second grand and final conclusion, as the sum of all He had taught in the preceding part of the Epistle. Justified by faith. -- Faith does not justify as an act of righteousness, but as the instrument by which we receive Christ and His righteousness. Believers are said to be justified by faith and of faith, and through faith, but never on account of faith. The declaration of James, that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only, is not in any respect opposed to the affirmation in the passage before us. The question with him is not how men may obtain righteousness for themselves in the presence of God, but how they are proved to be righteous; for he is refuting those who make a vain boast of having faith, when they have only what he calls a dead faith, -- that is, faith only in profession, which he illustrates by a man’s having the appearance of compassion without the reality, and by referring to the body without the spirit or breath. 2a.

Without the deeds of the law, literally without works of law, for here, as in Ro 3:31, the article is wanting. -- This does not signify, as Dr. Macknight understands it, that ‘perfect obedience’ to law is not necessary; it signifies that no degree of obedience to law is necessary. Good works are necessary for the believer, and are the things which accompany salvation, but they are not in any respect necessary to his justification. They have nothing to do with it. This passage asserts not merely that men are justified by faith without perfect obedience to any law, but without any obedience of their own. It may likewise be remarked, that believers will not be acquitted at the last day on account of their works, but will be judged according to their works. But God does not justify any according to their works, but freely by His grace; and not by works, or according to the works of righteousness which they have done, Tit 3:5.

2a. See on this subject the author’s work on Evidences, etc., vol. 2: p. 385, third edition.

Romans 3:29

Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles?  Yes, of the Gentiles also.

Rather, Is He the God of Jews only? Is He not also of Gentiles? The article before Jews and Gentiles, which is not in the original, makes the assertion respect Jews and Gentiles in general. In the sense of the passage, God is not the God either of the Jews or of the Gentiles in general; but He is the God of Jews and Gentiles indifferently, when they believe in His Son.

Romans 3:30

Seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

Seeing it is one God. -- This assigns the reason why God must be the God of Gentiles as well as of Jews. If He justifies both in the same way, He must be equally the God of both. In the previous part of the discussion, Paul had shown that by works of law no flesh shall be justified, proving it first respecting Gentiles, and afterwards respecting Jews. Now he affirms that God’s method of justifying man applies equally to Jews and Gentiles.

This confirms his doctrine respecting the ruin of all men by sin, and of there being only one way of recovery by the righteousness of God received through faith. To urge this was likewise of great importance, with a view to establish the kingdom of Christ in all the earth, Ro 10:11,13. Having thus reduced the whole human race to the same level, it follows that all distinction among them must be from God, and not from themselves, -- all standing on the same footing with respect to their works. There is but one God, and so but one way of becoming His people, which is by faith. By faith, and through faith. -- It is difficult to see why the prepositions here are varied. Similar variations, however, occur in other places, where there appears to be no difference of meaning, as in Ga 2:16, where justification, as applied to the same persons, is spoken of in the same sense, ‘knowing that a man is not justified by works of law, but through the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by the faith of Christ.’

Romans 3:31

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

From the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which the Apostle had been declaring, it might be supposed that the law of God was made void.

This consequence might be drawn from the conclusion that a man is justified by faith without any respect to his obedience to law. This the Apostle denies, and, on the contrary, asserts that by his doctrine the law is established. The article is here wanting before law, indicating that the reference is not to the legal dispensation, or to the books of Moses, as in the last clause of Ro 3:21, but to the general law of God, whether written or unwritten. Make void law. -- ’ Bring it to naught,’ as the same word in the original is rendered, 1Co 1:28; or ‘destroy,’ 1Co 6:13, and 1Co 15:26; ‘done away,’ 2Co 3:7-14; ‘abolished,’ Eph 2:15; 2Ti 1:10. Professors Tholuck and Stuart, not perceiving how the doctrine of the Apostle establishes the authority of the law, understand law in this place as signifying the Old Testament. This entirely destroys the meaning and use of the passage.

That the Old Testament teaches the same way of justification as that taught by the Apostles, is indeed a truth, an important truth, but not the truth here asserted. Mr. Stuart says, ‘How gratuitous justification can be said to confirm or establish the moral law (as this text has been often explained), it seems difficult to make out.’ There is not here the smallest difficulty. It is quite obvious in what way gratuitous justification by Christ establishes Law. Can there be any greater respect shown to the law, than that when God determines to save men from its curse, He makes His own Son sustain its curse in their stead, and fulfill for them all its demands? When a surety pays all that is due by a debtor, the debtor receives a gratuitous discharge: but has the debt, or the law that enforces the debt, been on that account made void? Here, as well as in so many other parts of his exposition of this Epistle, we discover the unhappy effect of this commentator’s misunderstanding the meaning of the expression at its commencement, the righteousness of God. That he should feel the difficulty he states above, is not surprising, for, according to the view he gives of justification, the law of God is completely made void.

Dr. Macknight explains establishing law to be making it ‘necessary in many respects.’ ‘The Gospel,’ he says, in his view and illustration of Ro 1:16-17, ‘teaches, that because all have sinned, and are incapable of perfect obedience, God hath appointed, for their salvation, a righteousness without law; that is, a righteousness which does not consist in perfect obedience to any law whatever, even the righteousness of faith,1. that being the only righteousness attainable by sinners; and at the same time declares that God will accept and reward that kind of righteousness through Christ, as if it were a perfect righteousness.’2. Accordingly, in this interpretation of Ro 3:21, he says: ‘But now, under the Gospel, a righteousness appointed by God, as the means of the justification of sinners, without perfect obedience to law of any kind, is made known.’ In this manner, mistaking, like Professors Tholuck and Stuart, although in a different way, the import of the expression, ‘the righteousness of God,’ he misunderstands the whole train of the Apostle’s reasoning, from the 17th verse of the first chapter to the end of the fifth chapter, as well as its object; in this discussion on justification, and by his explanation, altogether makes void the law. Instead of making it ‘necessary in many respects,’ Dr. Macknight, as well as Dr. Stuart and Mr. Tholuck, by representing it as satisfied with an imperfect obedience, which does not meet the demands of any law, either human or Divine, makes it void in every respect. Such is the entire consistency among themselves of the doctrines of Scripture, that whenever any one of them is misunderstood, it invariably leads to the misunderstanding of the rest.

Many commentators, with more or less clearness, refer to the doctrine of sanctification, either in whole or in part, the Apostle’s denial that he makes void the law. According to them, it is not made void for this reason, because it convinces men of sin, and does not release from personal obedience to its precepts. That the doctrine of justification, by the imputation of Christs righteousness, does not release believers from obedience to the law, is a most important truth, which Paul fully establishes in the sixth chapter of this Epistle. On the contrary, it lays them under additional obligations to obey it, by furnishing additional motives to the love of God. But since their sanctification is always in this life imperfect, were there nothing else to meet the demands of the law, it would be made void -- it would remain unfulfilled, both in its precept and penalty. In addition to this, the whole of the previous discussion regards the doctrine of justification, while not a word is said respecting sanctification. And it is evident that this verse is introduced to obviate an objection which might naturally present itself, namely, if man’s obedience, in order to his justification, be set aside, the law, which requires obedience, is made void.

But Paul appeals to his doctrine, and, according to his usual manner, strongly rejects such an inference. In the preceding verses, from the 20th, he had been announcing that the righteousness of God, which is the complete fulfillment of the law, is placed to the account of him who believes for his justification, whereby God, in thus justifying the sinner solely on the ground of a perfect obedience, shows Himself to be just. Do we then, he says, make void the law? This doctrine not only maintains the authority of the law of God, but also exhibits the fulfillment of all its demands. The connecting particle shows that Paul rests his proof on what had gone before, to which he appeals, and not on the ground of sanctification, to which he had been making no reference, and which, if he had referred to it, would not have borne out his assertion. ‘Think not,’ said our blessed Lord, ‘that I am come to destroy the law and the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.’ It is to this fulfillment -- to the righteousness of God, which in the context the Apostle had been illustrating, and which Jesus Christ brought in -- that he here appeals. Do we make law void when we conclude that a man is justified by faith without doing the works of law, since we show that through his faith he receives a perfect righteousness, by which, in all its demands and all its sanction, it is fulfilled? No; it is in this very way we establish it. In this glorious establishment of the law of God, Paul, in another place, exults, when he counts all things but loss for the excellency of Christ, and desires to be found in Him, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. While he thus tramples on his own righteousness, by which the law never could be established, he confidently appeals to the righteousness of God, now made his by faith. This is precisely in accordance with his conclusion in Ro 3:28, that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of law; and afterwards, at the termination of his mortal career, in the immediate prospect of death, he triumphs in the consideration that there is laid up for him a crown of righteous -- a crown, the reward of that perfect obedience by which the law is magnified and made honorable.


1. Here, as elsewhere, he misunderstands the meaning of the expression, the righteous of faith, imagining that it signifies the righteousness that belongs to faith, and not the righteousness which is received by faith.

2. ‘These inferences, indeed,’ he adds, ‘the Apostle hath not drawn in this part of his letter.’ The Apostle never could draw such inferences.

Romans 4:1

CHAPTER 4

Ro 4

This chapter beautifully connects with all that precedes it. In the first chapter the Apostle had announced that ‘the righteousness of God’ was revealed in the Gospel, which is on that account the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. He had shown at great length that this way of salvation was necessary for man, proving by an appeal to fact, and then to Scripture, that both Jews and Gentiles were guilty before God, and that, consequently, no one could be justified by his own obedience. He had afterwards reverted to this righteousness which God had provided in His Son. In this fourth chapter he strikingly illustrates these truths, by first obviating the objection that might be offered by the Jews respecting their great progenitor Abraham , whose character they held in such veneration. This would lead them to suppose that he must be an exception to the Apostle’sdoctrine, by furnishing an example of one justified by works. Having refuted this objection in the particular case of Abraham, and confirmed the truth of what he had advanced by the testimony of David, Paul makes use of the history of Abraham himself to prove what he had previously asserted, and to show that in the matter of justification before God there was no exception, and no difference between Jews and Gentiles.

The chapter consists of four parts. In the first, the Apostle, by referring, as has just been observed, to the history of Abraham and the authority of David, illustrates his doctrine of justification by faith. Nothing could be so well calculated to convince both Jewish and Gentile believers, especially the former, how vain is the expectation of those who look for justification by their own works. Abraham was a patriarch eminently holy, the head of the nation of Israel, the friend of God, the father of all who believe, in whose seed all the nations of the world were to be blessed. David was a man according to God’s own heart, the progenitor of the Messiah, His great personal type, and a chosen and anointed king of Israel. If, then, Abraham had not been justified by his works, but by the righteousness of God imputed to him through faith, and David, speaking by the Spirit of God, had declared that the only way in which a man can receive justification is by his sin being covered by the imputation of that righteousness, who could suppose that it was to be obtained by any other means? By these two references, the Apostle likewise shows that the way of justification was the same from the beginning, both under the old and the new dispensation. This he had before intimated, in saying that both the law and the Prophets bore witness to the righteousness of God, which is now manifested, and which is upon all them that believe.

In the other three parts of this chapter, Paul shows, first, that circumcision, to which the Jews ascribed so much efficacy, contributed nothing to Abraham’s justification, and that the righteousness imputed to him was bestowed before his circumcision, with the express intention of proving that righteousness should be imputed to all who believe though they be not circumcised. In the next place, he proves that the promise of the inheritance made to Abraham was not through obedience to law, but through that righteousness which is received by faith; and that the whole plan of justification was arranged in this manner, in order that the blessing conveyed through faith by the free favor of God might be made sure to all the seed of Abraham, — that is, to ‘the children of the promise,’ Ro 9:8, whether Jews or Gentiles. And, lastly Paul describes Abraham’s faith, and states the benefit resulting from its exhibition to believers, for whose sake chiefly his faith was recorded. It is particularly to be noticed that not a word is said respecting Abraham’s sanctification, although his whole history, after leaving his own country, furnishes so remarkable an example of a holy walk and conversation. All that is brought into view is his faith. It is thus shown that neither moral nor ceremonial, neither evangelical nor legal works, are of any account whatever in the act of justification, or contribute in any degree to procure that blessing. The whole of this chapter is particularly calculated to make a deep impression on the Jews; and no doubt the day is approaching, and probably near at hand, when they will read it with much interest, and derive from it signal benefit.

Ro 4:1What shall we then say that Abraham, our father as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

In the third chapter the Apostle had replied to the objections which might be offered to what he had before advanced respecting the Jews. First, it might be inquired if, as appeared from his doctrine, the Jew could not be saved by their distinguished privileges connected with the law, or by observing the rite of circumcision, what advantage did they possess over others, and what profit had they from circumcision? Second, on the supposition of their being transgressors, it was asked, if their sin was the means of condemning the righteousness of God, was it not unjust to punish them as sinners? Lastly, if all that had been said was true, what were they better than others? After obviating all these objections, and proving from the character of the Jews, and of all other men as delineated in the Scriptures, the impossibility of their justification by the works of law, Paul had exhibited the only way in which sinners could be justified before God, and had shown that it was effected in such a way that all boasting on the part of man is excluded. Another objection might now naturally present itself to theJews in connection with the case of Abraham, who had received the ordinance of circumcision from God Himself, and whose eminent piety they held in such veneration. It might be asked what, according to the Apostle’s doctrine, could be said regarding him: what had he found, or obtained? Did not he obtain justification in these ways? Such is the objection which the Apostle introduces in this and the following verse, and answers fully in both its parts. Abraham our father. — In the course of this chapter Abraham is again and again denominated, in a spiritual sense, the father of all believers; but in this place, in which the argument from his circumcision and holy character refers chiefly to the Jews, to whom much of what is said in the preceding chapter relates, it appears that he is here spoken of as the natural progenitor of the Jewish nation. The expression our is therefore to be considered as referring to the Jews, with whom, as being a Jew, the Apostle here classes himself, and not to believers generally, whether Jews or Gentiles, as in other verses of this chapter. That it is thus to be understood does not appear, however, from the expression pertaining to the, flesh, since it is not joined with that of father in the original. The order there is, ‘Abraham our father hath found as pertaining to the flesh.’ As pertaining to the flesh. — That is, by circumcision, of which the Apostle had spoken, ch. 2; or by any work or privilege, Php 3:4.

The expression, to the flesh, should rather be translated by the flesh, as the word here translated as pertaining to, is rendered, Ro 2:7, and in many other passages. Circumcision especially was the token of the covenant which contained all the promises that God had made to Abraham, saying, ‘My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.’ Could it be supposed that this rite, so solemnly enjoined and collected with such privileges, and his other good works, had no procuring influence in Abraham’sjustification? Such is the objection which it is supposed in this first verse would occur to the Jews, and is therefore stated by the Apostle, which he fully answers in the sequel.

Romans 4:2

For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

The term ‘works’ is here explanatory of the word flesh in the first verse, signifying any works, whether moral or ceremonial. If Abraham were justified on account of his works, as the Jews believed, it must be admitted that he had something to boast of, contrary to what the Apostle had just before declared, that all boasting on such grounds is excluded, whose doctrine, consequently, must be set aside. Than this, no objection that could be offered would appear to the Jews more forcible; it was therefore important to advert to it. Being, however, entirely groundless, the Apostle at once repels it, and replies to the question previously proposed, respecting circumcision, or any work or privilege, in that prompt and brief manner of which we see an example at the end of the 8th verse of the former chapter. He answers, But not before God. Abraham had no ground of boasting before God, not having been justified either by the observance of the rite of circumcision, or by any other work of obedience which he had performed; and this Paul fully proves in the sequel.

Romans 4:3

For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Having denied in the foregoing verse that Abraham was justified, or had any ground of boasting, either on account of his circumcision or his obedience, Paul next supports his denial by an appeal to Scripture, which was calculated to carry stronger conviction to the Jews than all things else he could have alleged. His proof is drawn from the historical records of the Old Testament, and thus he sets his seal to its complete verbal inspiration, quoting what is there recorded as the decision of God; yet some who profess to receive the Bible as the word of God, deny that portion of it to be inspired! His meaning, then, by the question, What saith the Scripture? is, that God Himself, by His own word, has decided this matter; for the fact is there declared that Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. This quotation is taken from Ge 15:6, where the promise to Abraham is recorded that his seed should be innumerable as the stars of heaven, being the renewal of the promise, Ge 12:2, when he was called out of his own country. It thus comprehended the truth announced to him at different times, that all the nations of the world should be blessed in his seed, that is, in the Messiah, Ga 3:16.

That promise referred to the one made to our first parents after the fall, in which was included the hope of redemption to be accomplished by the Deliverer of mankind, who was to spring from him, as God declared to Abraham. The above passage, then, according to Paul, proves that the righteousness of God is received by faith, and is an example of the testimony that is rendered to it by the law. It refutes the opinion of those who, misunderstanding the manner in which the Apostle James expresses himself, affirm that a man is first justified only by faith, but afterwards by works which flow from faith. And it was counted to him for righteousness, rather, unto righteousness. — It is not instead of righteousness, as this translation for righteousness has led many to suppose. By faith a man becomes truly righteous. Faith is the recipient of that righteousness by which we are justified. Unto righteousness is the literal rendering, as the same word in the original is so often translated in this discussion, as where it is said, Ro 1:16, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation; and Ro 3:22, even the righteousness of God which is unto all; and so in innumerable other places, but especially in a passage precisely parallel to the one before us, Ro 10:10, ‘For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.’ This is the signification of the phrase in the verse before us, which ought to have been translated in the same way. The expression ‘unto righteousness’ is elliptical, and signifies unto the receiving of righteousness. In the different French translations, the meaning of the original is properly expressed à justice;’ that is, to, or unto righteousness; and in the same way in the Vulgate, ‘ad justitiam,’ to righteousness; and in this meaning is fixed down definitely by the verses immediately succeeding, where the Apostle introduces a passage from the Psalm in illustration of the manner in which Abraham and his spiritual seed are justified.

That faith is not itself the justifying righteousness, is demonstrably evident from the phraseology of many passages that speak of faith and righteousness in the same place. ‘Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe.’ Here righteousness is supposed to be one thing, and faith to be another. Can language more expressly show that righteousness and faith are two different things, for two different purposes, though always found united in the same persons, and both equally necessary? Righteousness is what we want in order to justification; faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as testified in the Gospel, is the means through which we receive this righteousness.

Believing, then, is not the righteousness, but it is the means through which we become righteous. In like manner, in Ro 10:10, above quoted, the Apostle says, ‘For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.’

Here it is necessarily implied that faith is not righteousness, but that it in the means through which we receive righteousness. Nothing, then, can be a greater corruption of the truth than to represent faith itself as accepted instead of righteousness, or to be the righteousness that saves the sinner.

Faith is not righteousness. Righteousness is the fulfilling of the law.

This verse, connected with the following, proves, like Ro 3:28, that faith is opposed to works, and not considered as a work in the matter of justification. Yet many speak of the excellence of Abraham’s faith in such a way as to represent the patriarch to be saved by faith as a work — as the most excellent of all works. Mr. Tholuck advances many observations on this subject that are altogether unscriptural, discovering most erroneous views of theGospel. He quotes various passages from Philo, which he calls ‘beautiful,’ in which Philo extols faith as ‘the queen of virtues,’ ‘the price of every blessing;’ and adds, ‘and well is it said that faith was counted to him (Abraham) for righteousness.’ Here Philo exhibits faith as the righteousness by which Abraham was justified — the price of that blessing. Mr. Tholuck says, ‘ Dikaiosu>nh (righteousness) denotes here subjective holiness. God looked upon Abraham’s childlike submission as if it were real holiness, and attached value to it alone.’ A greater perversion of Scripture, or a sentiment more directly opposed to the meaning of the passage and to all the Apostle is proving in the context, and has been laboring to prove throughout the whole of his previous discussion from the 16th verse of the first chapter, as well as subversive of the grand doctrine of justification, cannot be imagined. If Abraham was justified by faith as a ‘ price, ’ or ‘as righteousness,’ — an expression which Mr. Tholuck employs again and again, — then he was justified by faith as a work, ‘as if it were real holiness,’ and God is thus represented as attaching a value to faith which does not belong to it! In opposition to such unscriptural and fallacious statements, which at once make void the law and the Gospel, we are here taught that Abraham was not justified by faith, either as a price, or as a virtue, or as if it were really righteousness, but as the appointed medium of receiving righteousness, even the righteousness of God. This fundamental error of Mr. Tholuck and Mr. Stuart, and long ago of Socinus, that faith, although it is really not righteousness, is reckoned by God as righteousness, is most dishonorable to the character of God, and derogatory to His holy law. That law, which is a transcript of His own unchangeable nature, can acknowledge nothing as its fulfillment but perfect conformity to all its requirements. Nor did the Gospel come to pour dishonor upon it by modifying its demands, or to substitute another law for it, making faith meritorious. And besides, the nature of faith will not admit of this, for it excludes boasting. It implies a fleeing out of one’s self, and our own performances, — it consists in looking to another as the bestower ofeternal salvation.

Dr. Macknight has a long note on this verse, which is also directly opposed to the Apostle’s doctrine of justification. ‘In judging Abraham,’ he says, ‘God will place on the one side of the account his duties, and on the other his performances . And on the side of his performances he will place his faith, and by mere favor will value it as equal to a complete performance of his duties, and reward him as if he were a righteous person.

But neither here, nor in Ga 3:6, is it said that Christ’s righteousness was counted to Abraham. In both passages the expression is, Abraham believed God, and it, viz., his believing God, was counted to him for righteousness. — Further, as it is nowhere said in Scripture that Christ’s righteousness was imputed to Abraham, so neither is it said anywhere that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to believers.’ These statements, affirming that God, in judging Abraham, will place on the one side of the account his duties, and on the other his performances, and by mere favor will value faith as equal to a complete performance of his duties, argue most deplorable ignorance of the whole plan of salvation. The assertion, that it is nowhere said in Scripture that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to believers, is directly contrary to fact. It is contradicted by the whole strain of Scripture relating to the subject, and expressly by the Apostle Peter, in his address to them that have obtained like precious faith with us, in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, 2Pe 1:1. (This is the literal rendering.) And also by the Prophet Jeremiah Jer 23:6, by whom Jesus Christ is called the Lord our righteousness. But by such groundless assertions does Dr. Macknight misrepresent the character of God, and labors to banish from the Bible the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, without which, consistently with the perfections of God and the demands of the law, there could be no salvation. He misunderstands, too, the meaning of the expression, for righteousness.

Romans 4:4

Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Some understand this as implying working perfectly — doing all that a man is bound to do. But this is contrary to the meaning: it applies to work of any kind, and excludes all working of every kind or degree. No reward can be said to be of grace that is given for work of any description. Abraham did not obtain righteousness by faith as a good disposition, or by counting that disposition above its value. Had Abraham been justified by faith as an act or disposition worthy of approbation, or by anything whatsoever that he had done, he would have been justified by works, and might have boasted.

Romans 4:5

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

But to him that worketh not. — This is entirely misunderstood by Dr. Macknight and Mr. Stuart, as if it meant, according to Dr. Macknight, ‘one who does not work all that he is bound to do;’ or according to Mr. Stuart, ‘the sinner who has not exhibited perfect obedience.’ It means, however, what it literally expresses, namely, that the person who is justified does not work at all for his justification. It is not that he does not perform all the works that he ought, but that for justification he does nothing. It is true that he works, but not for justification. Mr. Tholuck, who likewise misunderstands in this place the whole of the Apostle’s argument, seems to think that the case of Abraham is only an analogy, and not an example of justification by faith. But Abraham’s faith respected the Messiah, whose day he saw afar off, and by His righteousness he was justified. Justifieth the ungodly. — If the expression, ‘to him that worketh not,’ needed any explanation, this term — the ungodly — would place its meaning beyond all doubt. The term ungodly is applied throughout the Scriptures to wicked men, Ro 5:6; 1Ti 1:9; 1Pe 4:18; 2Pe 2:5; 3:7; Jude 4,15. Men are ungodly in themselves, though, as soon as they are justified, they cease to be ungodly. They are ungodly till they believe; but in the moment that they receive the gift of faith, they are thereby united to the Savior, and are instantly invested with the robe of righteousness, and also partake, according to the measure of their faith, of all those other graces that are received out of His fullness.

They then pass from death to life, — a transition in which there is no medium; they are turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; for till then, being without Christ, they are the children of the devil. They cannot at the same time be both dead and alive — under the power of God, and under the power of the devil; they must in every instant of their existence be either under the one or the other. In that moment, then, in which they believe, they are justified; and to justify, signifies not to treat men as if they were just or righteous, though they are not so, but because they are in truth righteous by imputation, really righteous, the law having been fulfilled in them, Ro 8:4. In this Professors Tholuck and Stuart most grossly err. To justify, with them, is not to acquit as being perfectly righteous, but to hold men to be righteous when they are not righteous. The expression, justifieth the ungodly, Dr.

Macknight says, ‘does not imply that Abraham was an ungodly person when he was justified; the Apostle’s meaning is, justifieth Him who had been ungodly.’ This is making, not explaining Scripture. It entirely sets aside the Apostle’s declaration.

It is much to be regretted that it should be necessary to introduce the name of Mr. Scott in connection with such writers as Macknight, Stuart, and Tholuck. As an expositor of Scripture, he deserves to be spoken of in terms very different from any of them; but an impartial regard for the interest of truth requires that his very erroneous remarks on the passage last referred to should not pass unnoticed. Mr. Scott’s note, in his Commentary on this expression, ‘justifieth the ungodly,’ is incorrect, and his ideas on the subject are confused, Contrary to the Apostle, he asserts that a man is not ‘absolutely ungodly at the time of his justification.’ It is true, as has been observed, that the moment a man is justified, he is godly; but the question is, if he be godly or ungodly in the moment which precedes his justification? If he be godly before, then the words of the Apostle are false; and the contrary, that God justifies the godly, would be true. But Mr. Scott’s views on this point are very erroneous, as appears from his remarks on Cornelius, in his note preceding the verse before us.

He says, ‘Even the proposition, Good works are the fruits of faith, and follow after faith, in Christ, though a general truth, may admit of some exception, in such cases as that of Cornelius.’ This contradicts the 12th and 13th articles of his church, to which he appears to refer; but what is of more consequence, his statement explicitly contradicts the whole tenor of the Holy Scriptures, and of the plan of redemption. The case of Cornelius forms no exception, nor does it contain even the shadow of an exception to the truth declared in the verse we are considering. Mr. Scott closes his note on Ac 10:1-2, by remarking, ‘Perhaps these observations may assist the reader in understanding this instructing chapter, which cannot easily be made to accord with the exactness of systematically writers on these subjects.’ Now there is not the smallest difficulty in showing that all which that chapter contains is in exact accordance with every other part of Scripture.

Mr. Scott, after some further remarks on the justification of the ungodly, says, ‘Nay, the justified believer, whatever his holiness or diligence may be, never works for this purpose, and he still comes before God as ungodly in this respect.’ This is incorrect. He always comes as a sinner; that is, as one who is daily, hourly, and every moment sinning. And when he comes so, he comes as he is; for this is truth. But he is not ungodly after he believes, which is a character belonging only to the enemies of God. The Christian, then, cannot in any respect come in such a character, for he cannot come in a character that is no longer his. There is an essential difference between coming togged as a sinner, and coming to Him as ungodly. ‘Abraham,’ Mr. Scott subjoins, ‘several years before, by faith obeyed the call and command of God, and therefore could not be, strictly speaking, altogether ungodly, when it was said, “He believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness;” so that the example of Abraham alone is a full and clear refutation of the construction by some put upon this text, that men are altogether and in every sense ungodly and unregenerate at the time when God justifies them, — a sentiment of most dangerous tendency.’ The assertion of the Apostle is, that God justifies the ungodly, which can have no other meaning than that men are ungodly in the moment that precedes their justification. It is truly astonishing that the example of Abraham should be referred to as a full and clear refutation of the plain and obvious construction of this assertion of the Apostle, which it never can be of dangerous tendency implicitly to believe. The danger lies in not receiving it, and in raising difficulties and objections which obscure and neutralize a declaration, the meaning of which is so clear and manifest. This must always have the effect, as in the case before us, of leading into most palpable error, inconsistency, and misrepresentation of the Divine testimony. If Abraham was godly before the time when it was recorded that he believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness, he was also a believer before that time, and justified before that time, although his justification was then first recorded. The limitations, therefore, ‘strictly speaking,’ and ‘altogether ungodly,’ which Mr. Scott introduces, are entirely misplaced. He was not ungodly at all.

To intimate, as Mr. Scott does, that Abraham was not a justified believer till the period when it is recorded that his faith was counted to him for righteousness, is to say that a man may exercise strong faith, and obey God, and walk in communion with Him, long before he is justified, which is to overturn the doctrine of justification. But no such confusion and discrepancies are to be found in the Scriptures. When, in the eleventh chapter of the Hebrews, the Apostle illustrates his declaration in the end of the tenth chapter, that the just shall live by faith, he affirms that ‘By faith, Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place, which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed.’ If, then, faith justifies, as the Apostle is there showing, Abraham was justified by faith when he ‘departed as the Lord had spoken to him,’ Ge 12:4, many years before the time of the declaration recorded in Ge 15:6. On the whole, there is not a spark of godliness in any man before he is united to Christ; and the moment he is united to Him, he is for ever justified.

In Ro 4:4 and Ro 4:5 before us, the distinction between receiving a reward for works, and receiving it through faith, is clearly established. In the first case, a man receives what is due to him as his wages; in the second, all comes in the way of favor. Here also faith and works are directly opposed to each other. To preserve the doctrine of these verses from abuse, it is only necessary to recollect that works are denied as having anything to do in justification, but that they are absolutely necessary in the life of the believers ‘Works,’ says Luther, ‘are not taken into consideration when the question respects justification. But true faith will no more fail to produce them than the sun can cease to give light. But it is not on account of works that God justifies us.’ ‘We offer nothing to God,’ says Calvin; ‘but we are prevented by His grace altogether free, without His having any respect to our works.’

Men are prone to magnify one part of the Divine counsel, by disparaging or denying another, which to their wisdom appears to stand in opposition to it. Some speak of faith in such a manner as to disparage works; others are so zealous for works as to disparage faith; while some, in order to honor both, confound them together. The Apostle Paul gives every truth its proper value and its proper place. In this Epistle he establishes the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and speaks not of the fruits of faith till the fifth chapter. But these fruits he shows to be the necessary result of that faith which justifies.

Romans 4:6

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.

As the blessing of the pardon of sin cannot be separated from our being viewed as perfectly righteous in the sight of God, Paul further confirms his doctrine by a reference to the <193201> 32nd Psalm, which gives the meaning of David’s words. In this manner one part of Scripture is employed to open and explain what is said in another part. Imputeth. — The same word in the original, which in Ro 4:3-5, is rendered counted or reckoned, is here rendered imputed. All of them bear the same meaning, of placing to the believer’s account the righteousness of Jesus Christ, called in Ro 5:19 His ‘obedience.’ ‘Here we see,’ says Calvin, ‘the mere cavil of those who limit the works of thelaw within ceremonial rites, since what before were denominated works of the law are now called works simply, and without an adjunct. The simple and unrestricted language occurring in this passage, which all readers must understand as applying indifferently to every kind of work, must for ever conclude the whole of this dispute.

For nothing is more inconsistent than to deprive ceremonies alone of the power of justifying, when Paul excludes works indefinitely.’

The expression ‘imputeth righteousness without works,’ is important, as it clearly ascertains that the phrase ‘for righteousness, literally unto righteousness, signifies unto the receiving of righteousness. It signifies receiving righteousness itself, not a substitute for righteousness, nor a thing of less value than righteousness, which is accounted or accepted as righteousness. In Dr. Macknight’s note, however, on verse 3rd, already quoted, where he is laboring to prove that faith is counted FOR righteousness, or, according to Mr. Stuart and Mr. Tholuck, AS righteousness, he affirms, as has been observed, that God values faith as equal to complete performance of duty, and that it is nowhere said in Scripture that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to believers. The verse before us contains no explicit refutation of these unscriptural statements, which subvert not only the whole of the apostle’s reasoning on the doctrine of justification, but the whole doctrine of salvation. The righteousness here said to be imputed is that righteousness to which Paul had all along been referring, even the righteousness of God on account of the revelation of which the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and which, as has been noticed above, is by the Apostle Peter called the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, in which believers have obtained precious faith. That the apostle refers in the verse before us to this righteousness which fulfills the law, is evident, if we look back to what he says in the 21st verse of the preceding chapter, and to what he continues to say respecting it onwards to this 6th verse, and to the effect he here ascribes to it . If any one can suppose that all this is insufficient to settle the question, I shall produce an argument which is unanswerable, and which all the ingenuity of man is unable to gainsay It must be the righteousness of God (or the righteousness of Christ, which is the same) that is here spoken of BECAUSE THERE IS NO OTHER RIGHTEOUSNESS ON EARTH.

To say with the above writers, that the God of truth values anything ‘as equal to the complete performance of duty,’ which is not so in reality, is to give a most unworthy, not to say a blasphemous, representation of His character. Far different are the following sentiments of Dr. Owen in his treatise On Justification. ‘ The sinner is not accepted as if he were righteous, but because in Christ Jesus he is so. The majesty of the law is not sacrificed; its requirements are fulfilled in their exceeding breadth; its penalty is endured in all its awfulness. And thus, from the meeting of mercy and loving-kindness with justice and judgment, there shines a most excellent glory, of which the full demonstration to men, and angels, and all the rational creatures of God, shall fill up the cycles of eternity.’

Mr. Stuart comes far short of the truth when he represents the Apostle as here confirming his doctrine by the case of David, as a second example or single instance. David is appealed to by Paul, not in respect to his own justification, but as to the doctrine which he taught with respect to this subject in one of his Psalm, where he speaks as he was moved by the Holy Ghost. He is here teaching how all are justified, who ever were, or ever shall be justified. It is, then, much more than a second example. It is the declaration of God himself, who spoke by the mouth of His servant David, Ac 4:25. The effect of Mr. Stuart’s misunderstanding the expression, ‘the righteousness of God,’ Ro 1:17, and Ro 3:21, and ascribing to it the signification of ‘the justification which God bestows,’ is, in his explanation of the verse before us, as in so many other places, abundantly evident. Although compelled here to attach to the original word its proper meaning of righteousness, instead of ‘justification,’ the vagueness of the meaning he had, as above, so erroneously ascribed to it, leaves an opening for explaining it to be a fictitious righteousness belonging to faith itself, instead of a real righteousness, namely, the righteousness of Christ received by faith. ‘Here,’ he says, ‘and elsewhere in this chapter, where the same phraseology occurs, it is evident that the word is not to be understood in the sense of justification, which is the most common meaning of it in our Epistle.’ So far from this being its most common meaning, it is not even once its meaning out of no fewer than thirty-six times in which it occurs in this Epistle.

Mr. Stuart’s views on the all-important subject of justification, are not only completely erroneous and unscriptural, but such as they are, he holds them in a manner so confused and indistinct, that he alternately asserts and contradicts what he has advanced. He one while speaks of faith as ‘not of itself such an act of obedience to the Divine law, as that it will supply the place of perfect obedience.’ ‘Nor has it,’ he adds, ‘any efficacy in itself, as a meritum ex condigno to save men; it is merely the instrument of union to Christ, in order that they may receive a gratuitous salvation,’ p. 176. At other times, he speaks as if faith were accepted at a rate much above its value, and that the justification of a sinner is gratuitous because of such acceptance. ‘Their faith,’ he says, ‘was gratuitously reckoned as equivalent to the dikaiosu>nh (righteousness) demanded by the law.’ Here faith itself is made the ground of justification, and taken at a value far above its intrinsic worth. But faith is in no point of view equivalent to the obedience the law requires. It is Christ’s obedience that is taken as an equivalent to an obedience to the law; and for the best of all reasons, because it is an equivalent. The value of faith is, that by the Divine appointment it is the medium of union with Christ. If it be true that faith is ‘merely’ an instrument of union to Christ, in order that we may receive a gratuitous salvation, as, in one of these passages, Mr. Stuart asserts, how is it that faith was gratuitously reckoned as equivalent to the righteousness demanded by the law? If faith be accepted as an equivalent to righteousness, then it cannot be merely the medium of connecting us with Christ. He observes, p. 177, ‘To say, was counted (namely, their faith) for justification, would make no tolerable sense; but to say, was counted as complete obedience, would be saying just what the Apostle means to say, viz., that the believer is gratuitously justified.’ And again, he affirms that faith ‘is counted as righteousness,’ p. 172. Here and in other places the imputation of Christ’s righteousness for the justification of a sinner is excluded by Mr. Stuart, as it is by Dr. Macknight. Mr. Stuart’s self-contradictions, contained in his Commentary, are noticed in the following terms in the American theological magazine, called The Biblical Repertory, of July 1833, where it is reviewed. ‘Respected sir, you admit what you deny, and deny what you admit, in such rapid succession, your readers are bewildered.’

According, then, to these statements, righteousness, that is, the righteousness of Christ, which does indeed fulfill the demands of the law, is not imputed to the believer for justification — although this is explicitly asserted in the text, when it is said, ‘God imputeth righteousness,’ for on earth, as has been observed there is no other righteousness — while faith, which does not fulfill so much as one of its demands, is reckoned as equivalent to all its demands; and besides, righteousness is thus counted to a man as belonging to him, which ‘in reality does not belong to him.’ And this, we are told by Mr. Stuart, is ‘just what the Apostle means to say.’

Paul affirms that God is just when He justifies him that believeth. But, according to Mr. Stuart, in thus representing God as counting for a reality what is a mere figment, and counting ‘something’ to a man ‘which does not belong to him,’ not a trace of anything that has even the semblance of justice in a sinner’s justification is left. And on these grounds, salvation is asserted by him to be ‘gratuitous!’

Mr. Stuart considers that the mercy of God, for Christ’s sake, accepts believers as just, while they are not so in reality. This overturns the Gospel and the justice of the Divine character. It destroys both law and Gospel. If a man is not truly just, God cannot account him just, nor treat him as just. Why cannot Mr. Stuart see believers perfectly just in Jesus Christ, their head and substitute? But this is what might be expected from one who cannot see the human race guilty in Adam. It is quite natural, then, that he should not see believers righteous in Christ. According to Mr.

Stuart, God is not a just God in saving sinners, for He acquits as just those whom He knows to be unjust. He represents God as an unjust God in punishing the innocent, for He visits with suffering and death infants, who are supposed innocent of Adam’s sin.

According to the doctrine of the Apostle, when a sinner is justified, it is by the imputation of righteousness — not a fictitious, but a real righteousness. The believer, in his union with Christ, is viewed as perfectly righteous, because in truth he is so, for the righteousness of God is ‘upon him,’ Ro 3:22; Jehovah is his righteousness, Jer 23:6.

God is therefore just in justifying him; and in the day of judgment the Great Judge will pronounce him ‘righteous,’ Mt 25:37-46, and award to him ‘a crowd of righteousness,’ according to the strictest justice.

The gift of this righteousness, with the justification it brings along with it, is indeed perfectly gratuitous, and the manner of bestowing it is gratuitous — freely by grace; but ‘grace reigns through righteousness,’ Ro 5:21, — in that way which meets every demand of law and justice. This last is a most important declaration, with which the Apostle closes his discussion on the doctrine of justification; but important as it is, Mr.

Stuart has altogether mistaken its meaning, and misrepresented it in the same way as he has misrepresented the corresponding expression at the opening of this discussion, Ro 1:17. Had he understood it, he would not have perverted the Apostle’s reasoning as he has done, and propounded sentiments respecting the all-important doctrine of justification which annihilate the glory of that redemption in which righteousness and peace have kissed each other, — sentiments which compromise the justice, and dishonor the character of God. ‘Faith,’ says Mr. Bell, in his View of the Covenants , p. 226, ‘rests upon Christ alone It in effect excludes itself as a work in the matter of justification. It is not a thing upon which a sinner rests; it is his resting on the Surety. Therefore, that man who would bring in his faith as a part of his justifying righteousness before God, thereby proves that he has no faith in Jesus Christ. He comes as with a lie in his right hand; for such is the absurdity, that he trusts in the act of faith, not in its object, — i.e., he believes in his faith, not in Jesus Christ. Having taken Christ, as he pretends, he would have that very act whereby he received Him sustained at the Divine tribunal as his righteousness. Thus Christ is bid to stand at a distance, and the sinner’s own act is by himself bid to come near in the case of justification. This is nothing else but works under another name. It is not faith, for that necessarily establishes grace.’

Romans 4:7

Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

This verse, in connection with the preceding, shows that sins are not forgiven, except in a way in which righteousness is imputed. Anciently, the high priest was appointed to bless the people, Nu 6:24, as the type of Jesus Christ, who, as the Great High Priest, imparts a real blessedness. ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.’ In Him it was promised that all nations should be blessed. When about to ascend into heaven, He lifted up His hands and blessed His disciples; and at the last day He will, from the throne of His glory, pronounce all His people the blessed of His Father. On that day, and not till then, shall any of them be able fully to comprehend all that is implied in this term in the verse before us. Blessed are they. — ’ Blessed is he’ (the man), says David ‘whose transgression is forgiven.’ David speaks of one person, but Paul speaks of many. This alteration which the Apostle makes should not be overlooked.

The work of redemption being now finished, the Apostle is commissioned by the Holy Ghost, who dictated the words, thus to include for their encouragement the whole mystical body of Christ, — all that are His, whether Jews or Gentiles. Covered — This appears to be in allusion to the mercy-seat, which covered the law. Sins must be covered before they can be forgiven. There must be a way in which this is done according to justice. This way is by the blood of Christ; and he that is dead with Him is justified from sin, Ro 6:7. His sins are for ever covered, as being cast into the depths of the sea, Mic 7:19. They are blotted out with the, Savior’s blood. ‘I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins,’ Isa 43:25. He is saved from the guilt of sin immediately on his believing. The righteousness of the Savior being imputed to the sinner, none of his own unrighteousness can attach to him; the imputation of both cannot take place. There is a full remission of his past sins, and none which he shall afterwards commit shall be judicially laid to his charge, Ro 8:33. Being stripped of the filthy garments, and clothed with a change of raiment, Zec 3:4, as certain as God is unchangeable, it shall never be taken off him. ‘He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness,’ Isa 61:10. ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more,’ Jer 31:34. ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us, Ps 103:12. ‘Wearied at length,’ says Luther, ‘with your own righteousness, rejoice and confide in the righteousness of Christ. Learn, my dear brother, to know Christ, and Christ crucified, and learn to despair of thyself and to the Lord this song: — Lord Jesus! Thou art my righteousness, but I am Thy sin. Thou hast taken what belonged to me; Thou hast given me what was Thine. Thou becamest what Thou wert not in order that I was not myself.’

Romans 4:8

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Righteousness is imputed when sin is not imputed, for we here see that the man to whom sin is not imputed is blessed. As Jesus was accursed, Ga 3:13, when the sins of His people were imputed to Him, so they are blessed when His righteousness is imputed to them. Justification, or the judgment of God by which He renders us ‘blessed,’ consists of two acts, by one of which He pardons our sins, by the other He gives us the kingdom. This appears in the sequel of this chapter, where we see that the justification of Abraham includes the promise of making him heir of the world, Ro 4:13; and this truth the Apostle establishes not only in the person of Abraham, but also extends it to all the people of God, Ro 4:16. In Ro 8, where Paul joins together the Divine calling and justification, he also connects justification and glorification.

Afterwards he adds, ‘What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things’ The expression, God is for us, marks the effect of justification.

It is not said, God is not against us, as should be said if justification was only the pardon of sin; but God is for us, — which signifies that He not only pardons but blesses us, giving us a right to the kingdom. He not only delivers us from being children of wrath, but adopts us into His family, and makes us His own children. When He discharges us from the pains of the second death, He destines us to the glory of heaven. The words that follow, respecting the delivering up of His Son, and freely giving us all things, clearly import these two great acts of pardon and blessing. The same is also declared by the Prophet Mal 3:17, ‘And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son.’ Justification, then, corresponds to the righteousness of God, by the imputation of which it is received. By that righteousness the penalty of the law is fulfilled, which secures the pardon of sin, and also the precept on account of which the inheritance is awarded.

Romans 4:9

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

The Apostle having fully established the truth, that a man is justified by faith without works, now reverts to the allusion made to circumcision at the beginning of this chapter, in demanding what Abraham had obtained as pertaining to the flesh. He now shows, in the most decisive manner, that Abraham had not obtained justification by means of circumcision, since he was justified before he was circumcised. And, proceeding to prove what he had affirmed, Ro 3:30, that justification is not confined to the Jews, he asks if the blessedness he had spoken of comes only to those who are circumcised, or to the uncircumcised also. It was the more necessary to decide this question, because the Jews not only believed that justification depended, at least in part, on their works, but that the privileges of the people of God were inseparably connected with circumcision. In the sequel Paul shows that justification has no necessary connection with, or dependence on, circumcision. For we say. — This is not the language of an objector, as Mr. Stuart supposes; it is the position which the Apostle lays down for the purpose of establishing his conclusion. The fact that faith was counted to Abraham unto righteousness, is the groundwork on which he builds.

Romans 4:10

How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

How was it? or in what circumstances was righteousness counted to him? — This question, with the affirmation which follows, determines that Abraham’s justification by faith was previous to circumcision, and therefore circumcision could not be its cause. If righteousness was imputed to him before he was circumcised, then circumcision is not necessary to justification. It may come on Gentiles as well as on Jews. This is founded on the history of Abraham, recorded in the Old Testament, who was in a state of justification before Ishmael’s birth, many years antecedent to the appointment of circumcision.

Romans 4:11

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also . XX.

If, then, Abraham was justified in uncircumcision, for what purpose, it might be asked, was he circumcised? It is replied, that he received circumcision, which was appointed as a figure or sign of his paternity, literally with respect to a numerous seed, and spiritually of all believers. It intimated that He in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed, was to spring from Abraham. This blessedness is described by David as consisting, in the imputation of righteousness without works. But this was not all: circumcision was not only a sign, but a seal of that righteousness which was imputed to Abraham through faith while he was uncircumcised.

This does not mean, as is generally understood, that it was a seal of Abraham’s faith. This is not said. It is said that it was a seal of the ‘righteousness’ of the faith which he had; that is, a seal of that righteousness itself, namely, the righteousness of God, which he had received by his faith. It was a seal, assurance, or pledge that the righteousness , by the imputation of which, through his faith, he was justified, although not then in existence, should in its appointed period be brought in . Circumcision, then, being such a seal or pledge, and as the appointment of Abraham as the father of Christ, by whom this righteousness was to be introduced, included his being the father of the line from which Christ was to spring, it was to be affixed to his posterity, and not to cease to be so till the thing signified was accomplished. Here, it would appear, we learn the reason why this seal was to be affixed on the eighth day after birth. On the eighth day, the first day of the week, when Jesus, the seed of Abraham, arose from the dead, that righteousness, of which circumcision was a seal or pledge, was accomplished. In reference to this, and to the change respecting the Sabbath from the seventh to the eighth day, in consequence of His resurrection, when our Lord brought in the everlasting righteousness, and entered into His rest, the eighth day is in many ways distinguished throughout the Old Testament. That he might be the father , etc. — In order to his being the father. This, mark, then, was a sign of Abraham’s being the father of all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, to all of whom this righteousness was to be imputed. As it was a seal of the righteousness which he had received by the faith which he had in a state of uncircumcision, it implied that righteousness would be imputed to believers in the same state.


XX. Some read the first part of this verse ending with the words ‘yet being uncircumcised,’ as a parenthesis, connecting the remaining part of it with the verse preceding. For this there is no occasion.

Romans 4:12

And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had, being yet uncircumcised.

This implies that there is a sense in which Abraham is a father of some of his descendants, in which he is not a father to others. To those of them who walk in the steps of his faith, he is a spiritual father. While all Abraham’s children were circumcised, he was not equally the father of them all. It was only to such of them as had his faith that he was a father in what is spiritually represented by circumcision. As it is said, ‘They are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called; that is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed,’ Ro 9:6.

This is also established by our Lord Himself, who denied that the unbelieving Jews were the children of Abraham, Joh 8:39. He was, however, not only the father of his believing children, who were circumcised, but of all, in every nation, who walk in the steps of his faith.

Believing Gentiles are therefore said to be grafted, contrary to nature, into a good olive tree, Ro 11:24; and to be Abraham’s seed, Ga 3:29.

Romans 4:13

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the word, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Paul here continues to prove that the blessing of justification is received through faith, and not in any other way. Heir of the world — The promise to Abraham included three things, — 1. That the promised seed of the woman should descend from him; 2. That all nations should be blessed in that seed; 3. That, as a pledge of all this, he and his seed should inherit the land of Canaan. ‘And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.’ Canaan, however, was but an emblem of the heavenly country, of which last only Abraham could have an everlasting possession; for he was a stranger on the earth, and Canaan was to him ‘a strange country,’ Heb 11:9.

This he understood it to be, and accordingly to the former he looked forward as what was substantially promised, Heb 11:13,16. This was ‘that world,’ as it is designated by our Lord, Lu 20:35, — a possession so often called an inheritance, Heb 9:15; 1Pe 1:4, of which not only Abraham, but also his spiritual posterity, were constituted heirs. They were to inherit all things, Re 21:7; and although the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, yet all things are theirs, 1Co 3:21-23. Abraham, however, being the father or first heir according to that promise, he might properly, by way of distinction, be called ‘the heir,’ and on the same ground, the father of many nations, being the father of all God’s people; as is likewise promised in the covenant, which is so often referred to in this chapter.

The expression ‘heir’ has a manifest relation to the title of children, which is given to the people of God in their adoption. It is on this account that Paul joins them together, — ’If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ,’ Ro 8:17; by which he teaches that they have not only a right to the good things that God confers, but that they have right in virtue of their adoption, and not of their works. The birthright of a child, which gives him a right to the good things of his father, and distinguishes him from those who may gain them by their services, resembles the privilege conferred by the free and gratuitous adoption of God of His children. In conferring the right in this way, every pretension to merit is excluded; and as God, in the law, had rendered inheritances inalienable, such also is the inviolable stability of the inheritance which God confers. The grandeur of this inheritance is represented in Scripture by the appellations of a kingdom, Lu 12:32; of a crown, 2Ti 4:8; and of a throne, Re 3:21. Or to his seed — The covenant, in all its promises, and in its fullest extent, in reference to spiritual blessings, was established in Christ, who was emphatically and eminently Abraham’s seed, Ga 3:16; and in Him, with all His members, who are the spiritual seed of Abraham, of whom the natural seed were typical, as the land of Canaan was typical of the heavenly inheritance. The promise to the seed was, that all nations should be blessed in Him, and this promise was made to Abraham also, as it implied that the Messiah was to be Abraham’s seed. The promise to Christ included all the children that God had given Him, who are in Him, and one with Him. These are all ‘joint heirs with Jesus Christ,’ Ro 8:17.

Many are spoken of before Abraham as the children of God; but we do not read that the first promise respecting the seed, Ge 3, was repeated to any of them. Though, in the time of Enos, men began to call themselves by the name of the Lord; though Enoch walked with God; though Noah was an heir of the righteousness which is by faith; though Jehovah was the God of Shem — it is not said that the promise of the seed was renewed to them. But to Abraham it was expressly renewed; and hence we see the reason why he is so frequently alluded to in the New Testament, and spoken of as the father of believers. Through the law. — Literally through law without the article. The Apostle had shown above that the blessing of righteousness came upon Abraham before he was circumcised, and here he shows that the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not made to him on account of any works of law, but through the righteousness received by faith. In this way Paul follows out his argument in proof that justification and the blessings connected with it were not the consequence either of circumcision or of personal obedience, but were received through faith. But through the righteousness of faith. — The righteousness of faith is an elliptical expression, meaning the righteousness which is received by faith.

This is the only way in which the promise, in order to prove effectual, could be given. ‘If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law; but the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.’ It was therefore to receive its accomplishment only by virtue of, and through the communication of, the righteousness received by faith. This is that righteousness which was counted or imputed to Abraham, when, upon the promise being made to him of a numerous seed, he believed in the Lord, Ge 15:6. The inheritance comes solely in virtue of this righteousness to those who by it are ‘made righteous. ’ ‘They shall be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified,’ Isa 61:3. ‘Thy people shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever,’ Isa 60:21.

Romans 4:14

For if they which are of law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is there is no transgression.

When it is said, ‘If they which are of law,’ that is, who by obeying the law of God be heirs, the case is supposed, as in Ro 2:13,26-27, though not admitted, which would be contrary to the whole train of the Apostle’s argument. If, however, possession of the inheritance come by obedience to law, then the obtaining it by faith is set aside, and consequently, as by works of law no man can be justified, the promise is made of none effect.

This is entirely consistent with all the Apostle had said before respecting the manner in which the blessedness of Abraham had come upon him, solely by the imputation of righteousness received by faith, irrespective of any works of his. For the law worketh wrath. — It is indeed the nature of every law to afford opportunity of transgression. But this does not make it work wrath. It is law which is transgressed that works wrath. The Apostle had shown that by obedience to law no man can be justified, since all men are transgressors, and that the wrath of God is revealed against all unrighteousness; and this is what here he again declares. Such is the state of human nature, that the law of God, which all men transgress, so far from justifying them, can only work wrath, or punishment; for no law makes provision for the exercise of mercy, but requires perfect obedience to all its commands, and when this is not yielded, denounces wrath on every transgressor. For where no law is, there is no transgression. — This is the reason why the law works wrath. It gives occasion to transgress, and transgression brings wrath. And this, the Apostle asserts, is the nature of law in general. Where there is law, there is occasion or room for transgression. Where there is no law, there can be no breach of law. If a man could be placed in a situation without law, he would not be exposed to wrath as guilty; for as sin is the transgression of the law, so no transgression could be charged on him. This assertion, then, is equivalent to affirming that, considering the character of man, where law is there must be transgression, and only where there is no law there is no transgression, as it is said, Ro 5:13, ‘Sin is not imputed where there is no law.’ From all this it follows, that if the fulfillment of the promise was dependent on man’s obedience to the law, the obtaining of the inheritance by faith would be made void, and so the promise would become of no effect; thus the possibility of obtaining the inheritance would be destroyed altogether.

Romans 4:15

See Haldane: Ro 4:14

Romans 4:16

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed, not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,

Having affirmed, in the end of Ro 4:13, that the promise of the inheritance was not through obedience to law, but through the righteousness received by faith, and having in Ro 4:14 and Ro 4:15 shown that it would not be obtained through obedience to law, Paul here proceeds to state why faith was appointed to be the way through which it should be carried into effect. Therefore it is of faith, that is might be by grace. — Since, then, the promise of the inheritance, that is, of eternal salvation, could not be fulfilled through obedience to law, it was appointed that it should be fulfilled through faith, because in this way it is effected by grace. A reward must be reckoned either of grace, or of debt, on account of works performed; and these cannot be combined. For ‘if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace; but if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work,’ Ro 11:6. As the reward, then, could not be bestowed through the works of the law, of which every man is a transgressor, and which, therefore, could only work wrath to him, it must be conferred by grace through faith, which can in nowise be considered as meritorious, but is the gift of God, and simply receives His righteousness, opposed through the whole of this discussion to the works of man of every description. In this way, then, the promise is bestowed by grace. This accords with the whole plan of salvation, that regards man as a sinner, and according to which, as had been shown, Ro 3:27, boasting is excluded, and he is saved, not of works, but by grace through faith, Eph 2:8. In no other way, then, but through faith, could salvation have been by grace. Had it been bestowed in part or in whole as the reward of one good thought, it would not have been by grace.

Paul had before declared that they who have obtained the righteousness of God by faith are justified freely by His grace; and now he affirms that salvation is through faith, for this very purpose, that it might be by grace. To the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed. — The fulfillment of the promise to Abraham and to his seed not being grounded on obedience to law, which, in the case of every man, would have made it void, and as its fulfillment was determined by God, He has rested its accomplishment wholly on grace — His own gratuitous favor, which cannot be frustrated. Grace selects its objects, and its only motive is in God Himself The way, then, in which the promise was to be accomplished, depending on the sovereign will of God, who hath said, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ Isa 46:10, and whose gifts and calling are without repentance, was rendered secure, and the promise could not be made void by the unworthiness or mutability of man. Not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham. — The promise, then, was made sure by the grace of God, through faith, to all Abraham’s spiritual seed, not only to such as were ‘of the law,’ namely, his natural offspring under the legal dispensation, denominated in Ro 4:9 and Ro 4:12 the circumcision, but also to all of every nation who, though uncircumcised, possess his faith. To himself and to all of them it is accomplished through the righteousness of faith. Here it is worthy of observation, that none are supposed to be Abraham’s spiritual seed, or heirs as his seed, except believers, whether they ‘be his descendants or Gentiles. Who is the father of us all. — That is, the spiritual father both of Jewish and Gentile believers. He is equally in this sense the father of all believers. It is only by faith that he is the spiritual father of any.

Romans 4:17

(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before Him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations, — According to the Apostle’s interpretation of this promise, it imports a numerous spiritual offspring, as well as a numerous natural posterity. It is not by way of what is called accommodation that this is said; it is the real interpretation of the promise, whether Abraham himself understood it so or not. This interpretation of the Apostle is a key to all that is said on this subject. It shows that Abraham had a double seed, that the promise had a double meaning, and both are distinctly verified. Thus, each of the three promises made to Abraham had a double fulfillment: — Of a numerous posterity; of God being a God to his seed; and of the earthly and heavenly country. Before Him. — At that moment, when he stood in the presence of God whom he believed, Ge 17:4, he was made the father of all his natural and spiritual posterity; and though he was not then actually a father, yet, being so in the purpose of God, it was made as sure to him as if it had already taken place. God now willed it, and the result would follow as surely as creation followed His word. Quickeneth the dead. — Does this refer to the literal general fact of bringing the dead to life, or to Abraham’s body now dead, and Sarah’s incapacity of having children at her advanced age, or to the raising of Isaac had he been sacrificed? The first appears to be the meaning, and includes the others; and the belief of it is the ground on which the others rest. Faith in God’s power, as raising the dead, is a proper ground of believing any other work of power which God engages to perform, or which is necessary to be performed, in order to fulfill His word. If God raises the dead, why should Abraham look with distrust on his own body, or consider Sarah’s natural incapacity to bear children? Why should he doubt that God will fulfill His promise as to his numerous seed by Isaac, even though Isaac shall be slain? God could raise him from the dead. Calleth those things which be not as though they were. — This does not say that God calls into existence the things that exist not, as He calls into existence the things that are. But God speaks of the things that exist not, in the same way as He speaks of the things that exist; that is, He speaks of them as existing, though they do not then actually exist.

And this is the way He spoke of Abraham as the father of many nations. I have made thee. — God calls him now a father, though he was not actually a father of many nations, because, before God, or in God’s counsel, he was such a father.

Romans 4:18

Who against hope believed in hope,BB. that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

Against hope, or beyond hope. — The thing was utterly beyond all that could be expected according to natural principles. In hope, or upon hope; that is, he believed the thing that was an object of hope. He believed the promise. Belief respects anything that is testified, whether desirable or otherwise. But the thing testified to Abraham was an object of hope, therefore he is said beyond hope to believe in hope. That he might become. — This is explained by some as importing that Abraham believed that he should become, etc.; that is, his becoming the father of many nations was the object of his belief. Others explain it, that he believed the promise in order that he might become; that is, his faith was the means through which the promise was to be made good to him. Both of these are true, but the last appears to be most agreeable to the expression, and is the more important sense. He was made such a father through faith. Had he not believed the promise, he would not have been made such a father. According to that which was spoken. — This shows that Abraham’s expectation rested solely on the Divine promise. He had no ground to hope for so numerous a posterity, or any posterity at all, except on the warrant of the promise of God. This he received in its true and obvious meaning, and did not, like many, explain away, modify, or fritter it down into something less wonderful. He hoped for the very thing which the words of the promise intimated, and to the very utmost extent of the meaning of these words, So shall thy seed be.


BB. Some place the point after believed. Who against hope believed, in hope that he might become, etc. That is, he believed the thing that was an object of hope. He believed the promise, and hoped for its accomplishment.

Romans 4:19

And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb.

Not weak in faith. — This is a usual way of expressing the opposite, implying that his faith was peculiarly strong Faith is the substance of things hoped for, inasmuch as we believe that we shall in due time be put in possession of them. It is the evidence of things not seen, as thereby we are persuaded of the truth of all the unseen things declared in Scripture.

Faith thus makes future things present, and unseen things evident. He considered not his own body. — This is an example which ought ever to direct our faith. There are always obstacles and difficulties in the way of faith. We should give them no more weight than if they did not exist, reflecting that it is God who has to remove them. Nothing can be a difficulty in the way of the fulfillment of God’s own word. This ought to encourage us, not only with respect to ourselves, but with respect to the cause of God in the world. The government rests on the shoulders of Emmanuel. His own body now dead, etc. — Had Abraham looked on any natural means, he would have staggered; but he looked only to the power of Him who promised.

Romans 4:20

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.

He staggered not. — This well expresses the meaning, the word signifying to doubt or hesitate. Dr. Macknight’s translation is bad, — ’He did not dispute.’ He might have hesitated or doubted, though he did not dispute. At the promise, or with respect to the promise, Abraham was not staggered by the difficulties or seeming impossibilities that stood in the way, but believed the promise of God, and trusted that it would be fulfilled. He would not listen to the suggestions of carnal reasonings; they were all set aside; he rested entirely on the fidelity of the promise. And all are bound to imitate this; for the Apostle says that the history of Abraham’s faith stands on record in Scripture, not for his sake only, but for us also, that we, after his example, may be encouraged to believe in Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. But was strong in faith. — In the foregoing verse, Abraham is said not to have been weak in faith; here it is affirmed that he was strong in faith. This imports that there are degrees in faith, — a doctrine which some deny, but a doctrine which Scripture, in many places, most clearly establishes. Our Lord charges His disciples in general, and at another time Peter particularly, Mt 6:30; 14:31, as having little faith: they had faith; but, unlike to Abraham’s, it was deficient in strength. Our Lord, too, speaks of the comparatively strong faith of the centurion, Mt 8:10. He had not found so great faith in Israel. The Apostles, also, addressing Jesus, pray, ‘Lord, increase our faith,’ Lu 17:5. In the same manner, the Apostle Paul speaks of the ‘measure of faith,’ Ro 12:3, importing that believers were endowed with different degrees of this gift. With such a profusion of instruction as the Scriptures afford on this point, it is strange that the love of theory should induce any to assert that faith is equal in all Christians. Giving glory to God. — How did he give glory to God? By believing that He would do what He promised, although nothing less than almighty power could effect what was promised. This is an important thought, that we glorify God by ascribing to Him His attributes, and believing that He will act according to them, notwithstanding many present appearances to the contrary. But how often is the opposite of this exemplified among many who profess to have the faith of Abraham, who, when unable to trace Divine wisdom, are apt to hesitate in yielding submission to Divine authority. Nothing, however, to countenance this is found in Scripture. On the contrary, no human action is more applauded than that of Abraham offering up Isaac in obedience to the command of God, in which he certainly could not then discover either the reason or the wisdom from which it proceeded.

Without disregarding it for a moment, he yielded to the Divine authority.

He was strong in faith, giving glory to God; that is, he gave full credit for the propriety of what was enjoined, and a ready acknowledgment of that implicit submission which on his part was due.

Romans 4:21

And being fully persuaded that what He had promised He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Fully persuaded, or fully assured, being strongly convinced. — This is the explanation of the way in which he gave glory to God. We might suppose that every one who professes to believe in the attributes of God, would judge as Abraham did; yet experience shows the contrary. Even Christians do not act up to their principles on this point. The Israelites believed in God’s power and favor to them; but in time of trial they failed in giving Him glory by confiding in Him. In like manner, Christians, in their own individual cases, do not generally manifest that confidence in God which their principles would lead to expect. Also, that is, He was as able to perform as to promise. And therefore. — Because he believed God, notwithstanding all contrary appearances, his faith was imputed to him unto righteousness.

Romans 4:22

See Haldane: Ro 4:21

Romans 4:23

Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him.

This history of the way in which Abraham received righteousness is not recorded for his sake alone, or applicable to himself only, but is equally applicable to all believers. The Apostle here guards us against supposing that this method of justification was peculiar to Abraham, and teaches that it is the pattern of the justification of all who shall ever find acceptance with God. The first recorded testimony respecting the justification of any sinner, as has been already observed, is that of Abraham. Others had been justified from the fall down to his time; but it was reserved for him to possess the high privilege and distinction of being thus the first man singled out and constituted the progenitor of the Messiah. In him all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, and consequently he was to be the father of all believers, who are all the children of Christ, Heb 2:13, and the heir of that inheritance on earth that typified the inheritance in heaven, which belongs to Jesus Christ, who is ‘appointed heir of all things,’ with whom all believers are joint heirs. And in Abraham we see that, in the first declaration of the nature of justification, it is held out as being conferred by the imputation of righteousness through faith only.

This passage, then, which refers to what is written, as well as those preceding it in this chapter, it must again be remarked, exhibit the character of the historical parts of Scripture as all divinely inspired, and all divinely arranged, in the wisdom of God, to apply to events the most important in the future dispensation. Every fact and every circumstance which they announce, as well as the whole narrative, was ordered and dictated by Him, to whom all His works are known from the beginning of the world, Ac 15:18.

Romans 4:24

But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.

Righteousness shall be imputed to us, as well as to Abraham, if we have his faith. If we believe on Him that raised, etc. — Here God is characterized by the fact that He raised up Christ. This, then, is not a mere circumstance, but it is in this very character that our faith must view God.

To believe for salvation, we must believe not in God absolutely, but in God as the raiser up of Jesus Christ This faith in God, as raising up our Lord, must also include a right view of Him. It must imply a belief of the Gospel, not only as to the fact of a resurrection, but also as to the person and work of Christ.

Romans 4:25

Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification .

Delivered — The Father gave over the Son to death, delivering Him into the hands of wicked men. Here we must look to a higher tribunal than that of Pilate, who delivered Him into the hands of the Jews. He was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. When Herod, Pilate, and the Gentiles, with the people of Israel, were gathered together against Him, it was to do whatsoever God’s word and counsel had determined before to be done Ac 4:28. The crucifixion of Christ being the greatest of all crimes, was hateful and highly provoking in the sight of God; yet it was the will of God that it should take place, in order to bring to pass the greatest good. God decreed this event; He willed that it should come to pass, and ordered circumstances, in His providence, in such a way as gave men an opportunity to carry into effect their wicked intentions. In their sin God had no part; and His determination that the deed should be done, formed no excuse for its perpetrators, nor did it in any degree extenuate their wickedness, which the Scriptures charge upon them in the fullest manner. ‘Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain,’ Ac 2:23. This was an example of the same truth declared by Joseph to his brethren, ‘As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good,’ Ge 1:20 . For our offenses or on account of our offenses. — This shows the need of Christ’s death. It was not for an example, or for a witness merely, but for our offenses. Raised again for our justification. — That is, He was raised that He might enter the holy place not made with hands, and present His own blood, that we might be made righteous, through His death for us. As the death of Christ, according to the determinate counsel of a holy and righteous God, was a demonstration of the guilt of His people, so His resurrection was their acquittal from every charge.

It is of importance to distinguish the persons to whom the Apostle refers in this and the following verses, where he says, if we believe, and speaks of righteousness being imputed to us, and of our offenses, and our justification. In the beginning of the chapter he uses the expression, ‘Abraham our father;’ but there he is introducing an objection that might be offered by the Jews, and appears to speak of Abraham as his own and their progenitor. But when, in Ro 4:12, he says, ‘Our father Abraham,’ and, in Ro 4:16, ‘the father of us all,’ he applied these expressions not to the Jews, or the natural descendants of Abraham, but to himself and those to whom he is writing, that is, to believers, to all of whom, whether Jews or Gentiles, in every age, as walking in the same steps of Abraham’s faith, they are applicable. And of the same persons he here speaks in Ro 4:24 and Ro 4:25, for whose offenses Jesus was delivered, and for whose justification He was raised again. They are those whom the Father had given Him, Joh 6:37; 17:2; Heb 2:13; for the effect of His death was not to depend on the contingent will of man, but was fixed by the eternal purpose of God. They are those of whom it was promised to the Redeemer, that when He should make Himself an offering for sin, He should see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied, — those who are or shall be saved, and called with an holy calling, not according to their works, but according to God’s purpose and grace which was given them in Christ Jesus before the world began, 2Ti 1:9, — those who have the faith of God’s elect, who are brought by Him to the acknowledgment of the truth which is after godliness, who have the hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised from eternity to their Head and Surety, Tit 1:1-2. No one, then, is entitled to consider himself among the number of those to whom the Apostle’s words are here applicable, unless he has obtained precious faith in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Yet the expression, our Savior, is often used by persons who reject God’s testimony concerning Him, and consequently have neither part nor lot in His salvation.

Having substituted Himself in the place of sinners, Jesus Christ suffered in His own person the punishment of sin, conformably to that declaration, ‘In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’ He came forth from among the dead, in testimony that the threatening of God was accomplished, and as a pledge of the acceptance of His sacrifice, and that by His obedience unto death Divine justice was satisfied, the law honored and magnified, and eternal life awarded to those for whom He died, whose sins He had borne in His own body on the tree, 1Pe 2:24. He was quickened by the Spirit, 1Pe 3:18; by whom He was also justified, 1Ti 3:16, from every charge that could be alleged against Him as the Surety and Covenant-head of those whose iniquities He bore. The justification, therefore, of His people, which includes not only the pardon of their sins, but also their title to the eternal inheritance, was begun in His death, and perfected by His resurrection. He wrought their justification by His death, but its efficacy depended on His resurrection. By His death He paid their debt; in His resurrection He received their acquaintance. He arose to assure to them their right to eternal life, by fully discovering and establishing it in His own person, for all who are the members of His body.

Romans 5:1

CHAPTER 5


Ro 5

The Apostle describes in this chapter the blessed accompaniments, the security, and the foundation of justification. This last branch of the subject is interwoven with an account of the entrance of sin and death into the world; while a parallel is drawn between the first and the second Adam in their opposite tendencies and influences. By the first came sin, condemnation, and death; by the second, righteousness, justification, and life. From this comparison, occasion is taken to show why God had made the promulgation of the written law to intervene betwixt the author of condemnation and the author of justification. On the one hand, the extent, the evil, and the demerit of sin, and the obstructions raised up by law and justice to man’s recovery, were thus made fully manifest; while, on the other hand, the superabundant riches of Divine grace, in its complete ascendancy and victory over them in the way of righteousness, were displayed to the greatest advantage, and with the fullest effect.

Ro 5:1. — Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore. — This particle of inference draws its conclusion from the whole foregoing discussion concerning justification by faith, though it may have a more immediate reference to the nearest preceding context. The Apostle having fully proved that salvation is by grace, and that it is by faith, now shows the consequences of this doctrine. Justified by faith. — This expression is elliptical; faith must be understood as inclusive of its object. This is very usual in all cases where the thing elliptically expressed is frequently spoken of, and therefore sufficiently explained by the elliptical expression. It is not by faith, abstractly considered, that we are justified, nor even by faith in everything that God reveals. It is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Even this phrase itself, namely, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is still elliptical, and supposes the knowledge of what is to be believed with respect to Christ. It is not believing in His existence, but believing on Him as revealed in the Scriptures, in His person and work. In the same manner as we have the phrase, ‘justified by faith,’ we have the phrase, justified by the blood of Christ. As, in the former case, faith implies its object, so, in the latter, it is implied that we are justified by faith in the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ justifies by being the object of belief and of trust. We have peace with God. — This shows that all men, till they are justified, are at war with God, and that He is at war with them. But when they are justified by faith, the wrath of God, which abideth on those who believe not on His Son, Joh 3:36, is turned away, and they cease to be enemies to God. Thus peace, succeeding hostility, brings with it every blessing; for there is no middle place for the creature between the love and the wrath of God. This peace, then, arises from righteousness, — the imputation of the righteousness of God by which the believer is justified, — and is followed by a sense of peace obtained. While guilt remains in the conscience, enmity will also rankle in the heart; for so long as men look upon their sins as unpardoned, and on God as the avenger of their transgressions, they must regard Him as being to them a consuming fire. But when they view God in Christ reconciling them to Himself, not imputing their iniquities to them, peace, according to the measure of faith, is established in the conscience.

This never can be experienced by going about to establish our own righteousness. If any man have peace in his conscience, it must flow from Christ’s righteousness — it must be the effect of that righteousness which God has ‘created,’ Isa 45:8; and of which the Spirit, when He comes, brings with Him the conviction, Joh 16:8. Resting on this righteousness, the believer beholds God at peace with him, perfectly reconciled. The belief of this satisfies his conscience, which, being purged by blood, Heb 9:14, he is freed from guilty fears, and reconciled to God. Through this sense of the pardon of sin, and of friendship with God, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keeps his heart and mind through Christ Jesus. The maintenance of this peace, by preserving the conscience free from guilt by continual application to the blood of Christ, is the main point in the believer’s walk with God and the powerful spring of His obedience. In the New Testament God is frequently denominated ‘the God of peace.’ The Apostle prays that the Lord Himself may give His people peace by all means, and enjoins that the peace of God should rule in the hearts of believers, to which they are also called in one body, and that they should be thankful. Peace is the fruit of the Spirit; and the kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. — Peace comes through the death of Jesus Christ. The faith, therefore, by which it is obtained, must refer to Him who made peace through the blood of His cross. He alone, as the one Mediator, can make peace between God, who is holy, and man, who is sinful. God has established three covenants, or three ways of communication with man. The first was the covenant of nature; the second, the covenant of the law; the third, the covenant of the Gospel.

Under the first covenant, man, being in a state of innocence, needed no mediator. Under the second, there was a mediator simply of communication, and not of reconciliation, — a mediator as to the exterior, or a messenger who goes between two parties, a simple depository of words spoken on the one side of the other, without having any part in the interior or essence of the covenant, of which he was neither the founder nor the bond. Under the third covenant, Jesus Christ is a true mediator of reconciliation, who has produced a real peace between God and man, and is the founder of their mutual communion. ‘He is our peace.’ It is established by the new covenant in His hands, and is everlasting, being made through the blood of that everlasting covenant. ‘The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake,’ Isa 42:21. ‘The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever,’ Isa 32:17. This peace, then, is through Jesus Christ and His righteousness, which brings this quietness and assurance.

He is the King of righteousness and Prince of Peace. In parting from His disciples before His death, He said, ‘These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace;’ and this peace He bequeathed to them. ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.’ When He met them again after His resurrection, His first salutation to them was, ‘Peace be unto you.’

Romans 5:2

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Believers have access into grace as well as peace. — The one is distinguished from the other. In what, then, do they differ? Peace denotes a particular blessing; access into grace, or a state of favor, implies general blessings, among which peace and all other privileges are included. And as they are justified by means of faith, and have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, so likewise it is through Him that they enter into this state of grace; for it is through Him they have access by one Spirit unto the Father, by that new and living way which He hath consecrated for them through the veil; that is to say, His flesh. They have access to a mercy-seat, to which they are invited to come freely; and boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Jesus — boldness to come to the throne of grace, and enter into the holiest by His blood. And as it is by Him they enter into this state of grace, so by Him they stand in it, accepted before God, 1Pe 5:12; secured, according to His everlasting covenant, that they shall not be cast down; but that they are fixed in this state of perfect acceptance, conferred by sovereign grace, brought into it by unchangeable love, and kept in it by the power of a faithful God. ‘They shall be My people, and I will be their God.’ ‘I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me,’ Jer 32:38,40. And rejoice. — This is an additional blessing. The word here translated rejoice signifies to glory or exult, and is the same that in the following verse is rendered ‘to glory.’ It may designate not only the excess of joy possessed by the soul in the contemplation of the future inheritance, but the language of triumph expressing this joy, which is properly meant by glorying. The Christian should speak nothing boastingly, so far as concerns himself; but he has no reason to conceal his sense of his high destination as a son of God, and an heir of glory. In this he ought to result, in this he ought to glory, — and, in obedience to His Lord’s command, to rejoice, because his name is written in heaven. The hope of eternal salvation through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot but produce joy; for as there can be no true joy without such a hope, so it carries with it the very essence of joy. Joy springing from faith is called the joy of faith, Php 1:25, and is made a distinguishing characteristic of the Christian, Php 3:3. ‘Where Christ is truly seen,’ says Luther, On the Galatians, p. 85, ‘there must needs be full and perfect joy in the Lord, with peace of conscience, which most certainly thus thinketh: — Although I am a sinner, by the law, and under condemnation of the law, yet I despair not, I die not, because Christ liveth, who is both my righteousness and my everlasting life. In that righteousness and life I have no sin, no fear, no sting of conscience, no care of death. I am indeed a sinner, as touching this present life, and the righteousness thereof, as the child of Adam; where the law accuseth me, death reigneth over me, and at length would devour me. But I have another righteousness and life above this life, which is Christ, the Son of God, who knoweth no sin nor death, but righteousness and life eternal; by whom this, my body, being dead, and brought into dust, shall be raised up again, and delivered from the bondage of the law, and sin, and shall be sanctified together with the Spirit.’ In the hope of the glory of God — This form of expression will equally apply to the glory that God bestows on His people, and to His own glory.

The view and enjoyment of God’s glory is the hope of believers. It is the glory that shall be revealed in them when they shall he glorified together in Christ — when they shall behold the glory which the Father hath given to the Son, and which the Son gives to them, Joh 17:22-24. Thus faith relies on the truth of what God has promised, and hope expects the enjoyment of it. This hope is full of rejoicing, because everything it looks for depends on the truth and faithfulness of a covenant God. There can be no failure on His part, and consequently on the believer’s no disappointment.

Here it should be particularly observed, that before saying one word of the fruits Produced by the believer, the Apostle describes him as rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God. He represents him as drawing no motive of consolation but from a view of God in Christ, whom he has received as his Savior by faith; and this is the true source of his hope and joy. The disciples, after the day of Pentecost, as soon as they heard the word that Peter preached, gladly embraced it, and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. In the same way, when Christ was preached to them, the eunuch and the jailor rejoiced the moment they believed. This hope is indeed capable of confirmation; but if it has not its origin in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice alone, it is a false hope. As soon as a man believes the Gospel of Christ, he ought to imitate the faith of Abraham, and give glory to God, resting securely on the sure foundation which is the basis of the hope; and he never can acquire a different title to glory, than that of which he is in possession in the moment when he believes, although, as he grows in grace, he perceives it more distinctly. Paul, while he urges the brethren at Colosse to a higher degree of conformity, in many particulars, to the will of God, yet gives thanks to the Father, who had already made them meet for the inheritance of the saints in light, Col 1:12.

This was the state of the thief on the cross, and is so of every converted sinner, in the moment when he is united to Christ; for then he is justified by faith, and has peace with God. Christians are characterized as holding fast the beginning of their confidence, and the rejoicing of their hope, firm unto the end, Heb 3:6-15. The beginning of their confidence and hope of salvation rested wholly on the person and righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Surety of the new covenant. It is true that at the commencement of their new life, faith is often weak, and its object seen indistinctly. Love, and joy, and hope, cannot transcend the faith from which they flow. Hence the propriety of that prayer by all the disciples of Jesus, ‘Lord, increase our faith;’ hence also the necessity of using diligence in the work and labor of love, to the full assurance of hope unto the end, Heb 6:11.

Romans 5:3

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience.

Not only does the believer rejoice in hope of future glory, but he rejoices even in tribulations. This rejoicing, however, is not in tribulations considered in themselves, but in their effects. It is only the knowledge of the effects of afflictions, and of their being appointed by his heavenly Father, that enables the Christian to rejoice in them. Being in themselves an evil, and not joyous but grievous, they would not otherwise be a matter of rejoicing, but of sorrow. But viewed as proceeding from his heavenly Father’s love, Heb 12:6; Re 3:19, they are so far from depriving him of his joy, that they tend to increase it. The way to the cross was to his Savior the way to the crown, and he knows that through much tribulation he must enter into the kingdom of God, Ac 14:22.

The greatest tribulations are among those things that work together for his good. God comforts him in the midst of his sorrows, 2Co 1:4.

Tribulation, even death itself, which is numbered among his privileges, Corinthians 3:22, shall not separate him from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. The Apostle Peter addresses believers as greatly rejoicing in the hope of salvation, though now, if need be, they are in heaviness through manifold trials. Tribulation worketh or effecteth patience. — Christians should be well instructed on this point, and should have it continually in their eye: their happiness is greatly concerned in it. If they forget the end and tendency of afflictions, they will murmur like the Israelites. Patience is a habit of endurance; and Christian patience implies submission to the will of God.

Paul says here that affliction worketh patience, and Jas 1:3, says that the trying of faith worketh patience. This proves that the afflictions of a Christian are intended as a trial of his faith. What by the one Apostle is called tribulation, is by the other called trial of faith. The effect of affliction is patience, a grace which is so necessary, as we are all naturally impatient and unwilling to submit unreservedly to the dispensations of God. Patience gives occasion to the exercise of the graces of the Spirit, and of submission under afflictions to the will of God.

Romans 5:4

And patience, experience; and experience, hope.

Experience. — The Greek word translated experience signifies trial or proof. Here it means proof; for trial may detect a hypocrite as well as a manifest saint. But proof implies that the trial has proved the genuineness of the tried person, and also of the faithfulness and support of God, which will enable us to overcome every difficulty. And proof worketh hope.

That is, when the genuineness of our profession is manifested by being proved, our hope of enjoying the glory promised to the genuine people of God is confirmed. Hope is here introduced a second time. This should be carefully noticed. At first, as we have seen, it springs solely from a view of the mediation and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here; it acquires a new force, from the proof the believer has of the reality of his union with the Savior, by his being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ. Thus the ‘good hope through grace’ must be produced solely by faith, and confirmed, not produced, by the fruits of faith.

Romans 5:5

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.

Hope maketh not ashamed. — This may import, either that hope will not be disappointed, or that hope will not allow us to be ashamed of its object.

Various passages speak of the believer as not being put to shame in the day of retribution; and the expression here is generally interpreted to signify that hope will not be disappointed, but will receive the object of its anticipation. This is an important truth; yet the Apostle may rather be understood as speaking of the usual effect of hope as exemplified in the life of a Christian; and that it is not the future effect of hope in believers, but its present effect, as it is the present effect of the other particulars mentioned, to which he refers. Besides, the primary signification of the word in the original is, not to disappoint, but to shame, put to shame, or make ashamed. Paul here evidently speaks of hope as a general principle, which, in every instance, and on all subjects, has this effect ascribed to it.

It is its nature, with regard to everything which is its object, to destroy shame, and excite to an open avowal, and even glorying in it, though it may be a thing of which others may be ashamed, and which is ridiculed in the world. The experience of every Christian confirms this view. When is he inclined to be ashamed of the Gospel? Not when his hopes are high, his faith unwavering, and his impressions of future glory strong. It is when His hopes fade and grow weak. Just in proportion as his hope is strong, will he make an open and a bold profession of the truth. Here, then, by a well-known figure, the assertion before us appears to import that, so far from being ashamed, believers glory and exult. Hope causes Christians, instead of being ashamed of Christ and His word (which without hope they would be), to glory and proclaim their prospects before the world, Ga 6:14; 1Pe 1:6-8; 5:1; 1Jo 3:2. They glory in the cross of Christ through hope. This shows the great importance of keeping our hope unclouded. If we suffer it to flag or grow faint, we shall be ashamed of it before men, to which, from the enmity of the world against the Gospel, there is much temptation. Accordingly, our blessed Lord, who knew what was in man, has in the most solemn and awful manner warned His disciples against it; and the Apostle Peter enjoins on believers to add to their faith virtue — courage to profess it. Because. — This casual particle may be understood to intimate the reason why hope makes not ashamed, or to give an additional reason why Christians are not ashamed. Agreeably to the latter interpretation, hope is one reason, and then another is subjoined; and certainly the love of God is a strong reason to prevent us from being ashamed of the Gospel. Love of God — This phrase in itself is ambiguous, and, according to the connection or other circumstances, it may be understood, in its different occurrences, to refer either to God’s love to us, or to our love to God, — two things which are entirely distinct. God’s love to us is in Himself; but the love lie pours into our hearts may signify either a sense of His love to us, or, as Augustine explains it, our love to Him. The use of language admits of the first of these meanings, which appears to be the true one; and it is certain that it contributes more to our consolation to have our minds fixed upon God’s love to us, than upon our love to God; while our hope does not depend on our love to God, but on our sense of His love to us. The connection, too, leads us to understand the phrase in the sense of God’s love to us.1. It connects with what follows, where the Apostle proceeds to prove God’s love to His people from the wonderful manner in which, as is said in the 8th verse, He commendeth His love towards us in the way He has acted in the gift of His Son, notwithstanding our unworthiness and enmity against Him. In the same way it is said, Joh 3:16, ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ It coincides, too, with such declarations as, ‘In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.’ ‘We have known and believed the love of God to us,’ 1Jo 4:9,16. We cannot be beforehand with God in love, and we must perceive His love to make us love Him. The first feeling of love springs up in the heart from a view of His grace and mercy to us in Jesus Christ. His love to us is the foundation of our love to God; and it is a view of His love that not only produces, but maintains and increases, our love to Him. ‘Thy love is better than wine.’ Poured out. — This refers to the abundant measure of the sense of the love of God to us, which is communicated to His people, and poured into their hearts, through all the faculties of their souls, moving and captivating their affections. By the Holy Ghost. — It is the Holy Ghost who pours out into the heart of the believer a sense of the love of God to him, fully convincing him of it, and witnessing this love to his spirit, Ro 8:16. This sense of the love of God never exists in the human heart till communicated by the Holy Ghost. All men naturally hate God, Ro 8:7; and it is only when they have a view of His love thus given by the promised Comforter, and behold His love in the gift of His Son, that they repent and love God. Given unto us. — The gift of the Holy Ghost, in His operation in the heart in His sanctifying influences, was not confined to Apostles and Evangelists, but is enjoyed in common by all the saints, in all of whom the Holy Spirit dwells, and who are habitations of God through the Spirit, Corinthians 3:16; Eph 2:22; Ro 8:9. Here we see that everything in us that is good is the effect of the Spirit of God. Man possesses by nature no holy disposition. The lowest degree of true humility, and godly sorrow for sin, and a sense of the love of God, and consequently our love to God, are not to be found in any of the children of Adam till they are enlightened by the Spirit through the knowledge of the Gospel, nor can they be maintained for one moment in the soul without His sacred influence. Though sinners should hear ten thousand times of the love of God in the gift of His Son, they are never properly affected by it, till the Holy Spirit enters into their hearts, and till love to Him is produced by the truth through the Spirit. Here also we may see the distinct work of the Holy Spirit in the economy of redemption. Each of the persons of the Godhead sustains a peculiar office in the salvation of sinners, and it is the office of the Spirit to convert and sanctify those for whom Christ died.

What fullness and variety of instruction and consolation are contained in the first five verses of this chapter! The work of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is exhibited, all severally acting, as God alone can act, in the various parts of man’s salvation. The righteousness of God is imputed to the believer, who is therefore justified, and pronounced by the Judge of all the earth righteous. As righteous, he has peace with God, and free access to Him through Jesus Christ; and being thus introduced into the favor of God, he stands in a justified state, rejoicing in hope of future glory. Being justified, he is also sanctified, and enabled to glory even in present afflictions. He enjoys the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, through whose Divine influence the love of God is infused into his soul. Here, then, are the peace, the joy, the triumph of the Christian. Here are faith, hope, and love, the three regulators of the Christian’s life. Faith is the great and only means of obtaining every privilege, because it unites the soul to Christ, and receives all out of His fullness. Hope cheers the believer in his passage through this world, with the expectation of promised blessings to be accomplished in future glory, and is thus the anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, which holds it firm, and enables it to ride out all the storms and troubles of life. Love is the renewal of the image of God in the soul, and the true principle of obedience. ‘The end of the commandment is love, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.’

Faith is thus the root of the whole. Faith in the resurrection of Christ produces a good conscience, 1Pe 3:21; the conscience being discharged from guilt, the heart is purified; and from the heart when purified proceeds love. Thus faith purifies the heart, Ac 15:9; faith works by love, Ga 5:6. Faith overcomes the world,1Jo 5:4.


1. Some prefer explaining this expression, the love of God, as God’s love to us rather than our love to God, because, they observe, while our love is variable, and liable to fail, God’s love is unchangeable. But as our love to God is produced and maintained in us by the Holy Spirit, and is the effect of God’s love to us, it can no more fail than God’s love to us.

Romans 5:6

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

For. — This introduces the proof of the love of God to us, not a reason why the hope of the Christian will not disappoints him. Having spoken of the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, the Apostle here declares the evidence of this love. Though the Holy Ghost inspires our love to God, yet in doing so He shows us the grounds on which it rests, or the reasons why it should exist. In making us love God, He makes us perceive the grounds on which we ought to love Him. This also shows us another important fact, namely, that the Holy Spirit works in His people according to their constitution or the nature that He has given them; and, in endowing us with proper feelings and affections, He discovers to us the proper objects towards which they ought to be excited. The word of God through the Spirit, both in conversion and growth of grace, acts according to the original constitution that God has been pleased to bestow on the Christians. Without strength. — Christ died for us while we were unable to obey Him, and without ability to save ourselves. This weakness or inability is no doubt sinful; but it is our inability, not our guilt, that the Apostle here designates. When we were unable to keep the law of God, or do anything towards our deliverance from Divine wrath, Christ interposed, and died for those whom He came to redeem. In due time. — At the time appointed of the Father, Ga 4:2,4.

The fruits of the earth are gathered in their season; so in His season, that is, at the time appointed, Christ died for us, 1Ti 2:6. For the ungodly. — Christ died for us, considered as ungodly, and without His gift of Himself we must have for ever continued to be so. It was not then for those who were in some degree godly, or disposed in some measure to do the will of God, that Christ died. There are none of this character by nature. It is by faith in His death that any are made godly.

Romans 5:7

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

For. — This brings into view a fact that heightens and illustrates the love of God to sinners. A righteous or just man. — A just man is distinguished here from a good or benevolent man. They are quite distinct characters among men. A just man is approved — a benevolent man is loved.

Scarcely, however, would any one give his life for the former, yet perhaps some one might do so for the latter. Scarcely. — This furnishes the reason why the Apostle uses the word righteous or just, when he denies that any one would die in his stead, because he does not mean to make the denial universal. ‘Even.’ — This is designed to qualify the verb to die, not the verb to dare, though it stands immediately before it. It is not even dare, but dare even to die. This intimates that to die is a thing to which men are of all things most averse. It is the greatest trial of love, Joh 15:13. ‘Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid His life down for us,’ 1Jo 3:16.

Romans 5:8

But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

His love. — Here God’s love to us is distinguished in the original as His own love, which in this place takes away all ambiguity from the expression. Yet sinners. — This is literally true with respect to all who are saved since Christ’s death, and is substantially true of all who were saved before it. This may be said of Abel as well as of Paul. Christ died for him as a sinner. It was Christ’s death through which Abel was accepted. For us. — Not for us as including all men, but for those believers and himself whom the Apostle was addressing; and this equally applies to all believers, — to all who are or shall be in Christ. Christ’s death for us as sinners, in an astonishing manner, commends, manifests, or exhibits God’s love to us.

Romans 5:9

Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

If God’s love to us were such that Christ died for us when we were sinners, much more, when we are perfectly righteous through that death, He will save us from future punishment. The meaning of the expression much more in this verse, which is repeated in Ro 5:10,15, and Ro 5:17, is not at first sight obvious in these different occurrences, since the things, which are compared to what follows, are complete in themselves.

The sense appears to be, that in using these expressions, the Apostle, though inspired, reasons on the common principles that commend themselves to the mind of man. Having stated one thing, he proceeds to state another as still more clear to our perception. Justified by His blood. — This shows that when we are said to be justified by faith, faith includes its object, and imports that we are not saved by faith as a virtue. It shows also that Christ’s death was not that of a mere witness to the truth which He declared, but that it was for sin, and in order that we should be saved from wrath through Him. All men are by nature the children of wrath; and without the death of Christ, and faith in Him, we must have continued in that awful condition. ‘He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.’ Dr. Macknight’s explanation of this verse is as follows: — ’Much more then being now allowed to live under the new covenant, through the shedding of His blood, we shall be saved from future punishment through Him, if we behave well under that covenant.’ In his note he adds: — ’Here justified by His blood means, that, in the view of Christ’s shedding His blood, Adam and Eve were respited from death, and, being allowed to live, be and they were placed under a new covenant, by which they might regain immortality. This is what is called justification of life,Ro 5:18. And this explanation follows naturally from what he gives as the meaning of the foregoing verse: — ’His own love to man, God hath raised above all human love because we being still sinners, Christ died for us, to procure us a temporary life on earth, under a better covenant than the first.’ On such interpretations it is unnecessary to remark. They contain statements the most unscriptural and heretical, exhibiting most deplorable ignorance.22. He supposes, too, that it is here implied that some are said to be justified who are not saved from wrath.

But this is not the fact. Justification is spoken of as having taken place, and salvation as future, — not because any shall be punished who have been justified, but because the wrath spoken of is future. The salvation of the Christian from wrath is said to be future, in reference to the time of the general execution of wrath in the day of judgment. It is evidently implied in the expression, that they who are justified shall never be punished. This expression, justified by His blood, gives a most awful view of the infinite evil of sin, of the strict justice of God, and of His faithfulness in carrying into execution the first sentence, ‘In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.’ Without the shedding of His blood, and entering with it into the holy place, Christ could not have obtained eternal salvation for those who had sinned. On the other hand, what an astonishing view is thus presented of the love of God, who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for His people, and who with Him will freely give them all things.

The Divine wisdom is admirable in the manner in which the Scriptures are written. It is not without design that inspiration varies the phraseology respecting justification. Each variety is calculated to meet a different abuse of the doctrine. The human heart is so prone to self-righteousness, that the very doctrine of faith has been made to assume a legal sense. Faith is represented as a work; and the office assigned to it is not merely that of the medium of communicating righteousness, but it is made to stand itself for a certain value, either real or supposed. Had inspiration never varied the expressions, and always used the phrase justified by faith, though there would have been no real ground to conclude that faith is in itself the ground of justification, yet evidence to the contrary would not have been exhibited in the manner in which it is held forth by varying the diction.

Instead of ‘justified by faith,’ we here read justified by the blood of Christ.

This shows that when we are said to be justified by faith, it is not by faith as a work of the law, but by faith as a medium, — that is, faith in the blood of Christ. To the same purpose, also, is the expression in the following verse, reconciled to God by the death of His Son. On the other hand, there are some who, strongly impressed with the great evil of making faith a work, have plunged into a contrary extreme, and are unwilling to look at the subject in any light but that in which it is represented in the phrase, ‘justified by His blood,’ as if justification were independent of faith, or as if faith were merely an accidental or unimportant thing in justification. This also is a great error. Faith is as necessary in justification as the sacrifice of Christ itself, but necessary for a different purpose. The blood of Christ is the price that has value in itself. Faith, which unites the soul to Christ, is the necessary medium, through the Divine appointment.

Again, we have justified freely by grace, Ro 3:24.

Self-righteousness is fruitful in expedients. It is difficult to put it to silence. It will admit that justification is by faith in its own legal sense, and that it is through Christ’s blood, as a general price for the sins of all men; but it holds that every man must do something to entitle him to the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice. Here, then, the phrase justification by grace comes in to cut off every evasion.

Another variety of phraseology on this subject we have in the expression justified by Christ, Ga 2:17. This points to the ground of our justification, or our union with Christ. We are accounted perfectly righteous, having paid the debt of sin, and having fulfilled the whole law, by our union or oneness with Christ, as we were sinners by our natural connection with Adam. It is of immense importance to the satisfaction of the mind of the believer, constantly and steadfastly to consider himself as a member of Christ — as truly a part of Him. He rose for our justification.

When He was justified from the Sins which He took on Him by having suffered for them, and when He had fulfilled the law, we were justified in His justification. We are therefore said not merely to be pardoned, but to be justified, by Christ. We have suffered all the punishment due to our sins, and have kept every precept of the law, because He with whom we are one has done so. It is also worthy of remark that, while the Apostle speaks of being justified by Christ, he had in the preceding verse spoken of being justified by the faith of Christ. This shows that faith is the way in which our union with Christ is effected.


22. The Presbyterian Review, referring to Dr. Macknight, charges him with the most ‘audacious heterodoxy.’

Romans 5:10

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death by His Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Enemies. — It greatly enhances the love of God that He gave His Son for us while we were yet His enemies. Had we discovered any symptoms of willingness to obey Him, or any degree of love to Him, His love to us would not have been so astonishing. But it is in this light only that the proud heart of man is willing to view his obligations to redeeming love. He will not look upon himself as totally depraved and helpless. He desires to do something on his part to induce God to begin His work in him by His Spirit. But Christ died for His people when they were the enemies of God, and He calls them to the knowledge of Himself when they are His enemies.

Here, then, is the love of God. At the time when Christ died for us, we were not His friends, but His enemies. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God.’ Reconciled to God by the death of His Son. — The word rendered ‘reconciled,’ signifies to change the state of matters between persons at variance, by removing their grounds of difference. The Divine word and declarations, as well as the Divine persecutions, forbid us to imagine that God will clear the guilty. In order, then, to reconciliation with God, satisfaction must be made to His justice. What is meant here, is not our laying aside our enmity to God, but God’s laying aside His enmity to us, on account of the death of His Son. It is true that we lay aside our enmity to God when we see that He has laid aside His enmity to us, and never till then will we do so; but what is here meant is, that God is reconciled to us.

In Scripture this is spoken of as our being reconciled to God. We are reconciled to God, when He is pacified towards us through His Son, in whom we believe. This is quite agreeable to the use of the term in Scripture with respect to other cases, 1Sa 29:4; Mt 5:23-24. Socinians, however, maintain that reconciliation between God and man consists only in bending and pacifying the heart of man towards God, and not in averting His just anger. This error, arising from their denial of the satisfaction made by Jesus Christ, is refuted by the consideration that God pardons our sins: whence it follows that He was angry with us; and the redemption of Jesus Christ is declared to be made by a propitiatory sacrifice, which clearly proves that God was angry. To this the idea of a sacrifice necessarily leads; for a sacrifice is offered to pacify God towards men, and not to reconcile men to God. Aaron was commanded to make an atonement for the congregation, for there was wrath gone out from the Lord. ‘And be stood between the living and the dead, and the plague was stayed,’ Nu 16:46. God’s anger was thus turned away by making this atonement. In David’s time, by offering burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, the Lord was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel. By this it is clear that the primarily intention of such sacrifices, and consequently of the priest who offered them, immediately respected the reconciliation of God. The same is evident from the following passages: — ’Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of The people; Thou hast covered all their sin. Selah. Thou hast taken away all Thy wrath; Thou hast turned from the fierceness of Thine anger,’ Ps 85:2-3. ‘Though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortedst me,’ Isa 12:1. ‘I will establish My covenant with thee; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified (reconciled, Le 8:15; 16:20; 2Ch 29:24) toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God,’ Eze 16:63.

All men being sinners, are in themselves, while in unbelief, under the displeasure of God, who cannot look upon iniquity, Hab 1:13, and are by nature children of wrath, or of the judgment of God; but as viewed in Christ, and in relation to His death, the elect are the objects of God’s everlasting love, and this love in His good time takes effect. He sends His Son to be a propitiatory sacrifice for them, — thus making satisfaction to His justice, and removing every obstacle to His being reconciled. He unites them to the Son of His love; and in Him, clothed with His righteousness, they become the children of God, and then in themselves the proper objects of His love. The ministry committed to the Apostles is called the ministry of reconciliation. Men are besought to be reconciled to God from the consideration of His having made Him to be sin for His people who knew no sin. Here is a double reconciliation, namely, of God to men, and of men to God. The latter is urged from the consideration of the former, and this consideration is effectual for all for whom the reconciliation was made. The whole of this reconciliation is through the death of His Son. Thus does God call His people with a holy calling. He invites them to friendship with Himself, through an all-sufficient atonement; and they lay aside their enmity to Him when they see that God has laid aside His anger against them. They are reconciled to Him through the death of His Son.

What, in the preceding verse, is spoken of as the blood of Christ, is here spoken of as His death. These varied terms are useful to express the idea in such a manner that it cannot be innocently evaded. Christ’s blood was an atonement, as it was His death. This shows that no degree of suffering would have been sufficient as an atonement for our sins without the actual death of the sacrifice, according to the original sentence against man. Jesus Christ might have suffered all that He did suffer without a total extinction of life; but He must not only suffer, — He must also die. This phraseology, then, is calculated to meet the error of those Christians who, from a desire of magnifying the efficacy of the blood of Christ, have said that one drop of it would have been sufficient to save. Had one drop been sufficient, two drops would never have been shed. Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. — If we were reconciled by His death, much more clear is it that we shall be saved by His life. Some find a difficulty in this, as if it implied that the atonement and price of redemption were not complete at the death of Christ. But the Apostle is not speaking on that point. He is speaking of the security of the believer from any danger, by Christ as alive. The meaning is, we shall be saved by Him as existing alive, or as living, Heb 7:25. We need Christ raised from the dead to intercede for our daily transgressions, and to save us from wrath. The efficacy of the death and the intercession of Jesus Christ have the same objects and the same extent, Joh 17:9. He intercedes for all those for whom He died. ‘It is Christ that died, yea, rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us,’ Ro 8:34. For us, that is, for those whom the Apostle is addressing as beloved of God, and called,, and saints, Ro 1:7, and all that are such.

Two comparisons are made in this passage, one between the past and the present state of believers they were once the enemies, they are now the friends, of God. The other is between the past and the present condition of Christ: He was once dead, He is now alive. And the proposition that unites these two is, that reconciliation with God is entirely owing to the death of Christ as its meritorious cause. Since, then, the death of the Redeemer could produce so great an effect as the reconciliation to Himself of those who were the enemies of the Most High, what room can there be to doubt that the life of Christ is sufficient to accomplish what is less difficult; that is to say, to obtain the continuation of the Divine friendship and benevolence for those whose reconciliation has been already purchased at a price of such infinite cost? By the death which He suffered in their place, they are freed from condemnation, the rigor of the law having run its course, and received its execution by the punishment of their sins in Him; and thus they are saved from the effects of wrath. By His resurrection, His life, and His entrance into eternal glory, the reward reserved for His work as Mediator, they become partakers of that glory. ‘In My Fathers house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.’ ‘Because I live, ye shall live also.’ ‘Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which Thou hast given Me.’ Thus Jesus Christ, who was delivered for the offenses of His people, was raised again for their justification; and this unparalleled love of God, who has not spared His well-beloved Son, is the surest foundation for the absolute and unlimited confidence in Him of every man who, renouncing his own righteousness, submits to His righteousness. At the same time, the necessity of the shedding of blood infinitely precious, in order to the justification of believers, is the strongest proof of the infinite evil of sin, and of the infinite holiness and awful justice of God. It shows the extreme difficulty there was in reconciling God to man, as it could only be done by a satisfaction to His justice, which could not be accomplished but by the death of His only-begotten Son.

Romans 5:11

And not only so, but we also joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

This verse exhibits the last of those fruits which proceed from being brought into a state of justification. The first of them is peace with God, involving the communication and enjoyment of every blessing which the creature is capable of receiving; for if God be with us, who can be against us? and when this peace is known to be permanently established, immediately the cheering hope of future glory springs up in the mind. This hope, transporting the believer beyond this world, and looking forward to unbounded blessedness, enables him to bear up under those tribulations that are inseparable from his present state. In them, through not in themselves joyous but grievous, be even glories; and, experiencing their salutary effects, they confirm his hope of future and eternal enjoyment.

The Holy Ghost, too, sheds abroad the love of God in his heart; while his attention is directed to what God has done in giving for him His Son to the death, even while he was in the most determined state of hostility towards God. From the whole, the Apostle argues how much more it is evident that, being reconciled, he shall be saved from all the fearful effects of the wrath and displeasure of God against sin. The view of all of these unspeakable blessings conducts to that feeling of exultation and joy, with the declaration of which the enumeration is here terminated, of the effects which the knowledge of his justification in the sight of God, by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, produces in the heart of the believers Not only so. — That is, we shall not only escape the wrath to come, by the death of Christ, but attain to glory by His life. The measure of excess is future glory above mere exemption from misery. These two things are entirely distinct, and afford distinct grounds of thanksgiving. Joy in God. — The word here translated joy, is the same which in Ro 5:2 is rendered rejoice, and in Ro 5:3, glory. It was before declared that believers have peace with God, that they have access to Him, and that they rejoice in the hope of His glory. Now, the Apostle represents them as arrived at the fountain-head, looking through all the blessings conferred on them, and rejoicing, boasting, or glorying in God Himself as the source of them all.

The Christian’s joy is all in God. He exults in his prospects; but all are ascribed to God, and not to anything in Himself. God, even His own covenant-God, is the great and ultimate object of his joy. ‘My soul shall make her boast in the Lord.’ ‘O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.’ ‘I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.’ ‘The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, my portion for ever. I will go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy.’ The sentiment of the love of God, in so great a salvation, and of joy in Him, is more deeply impressed upon the believer, by considering the rock from which he has been hewn, and the hole of the pit from which he has been dug. In the above verses, the former situation of those who are saved is declared in the strongest language. They were WITHOUT STRENGTH, GODLY,SINNERS,UNDER WRATH,ENEMIES TO GOD. If such, then, was their original condition, what reason have they not only to rejoice in the hope of glory, but, above all, in the goodness and mercy of God, who has now reconciled them to Himself! Php 3:1; 4:4. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. — Joy in God, with all those unspeakable blessings above enumerated, are again and again declared to come by Him, through whom God manifests His loves and is reconciled to His people.

The name of Jesus Christ being here introduced so often, should be especially remarked. The Christian joys and glories in God only through Christ; without Christ, God could not be viewed as a friend. He must be an object of hatred. Our friendly relation to God is all through Christ. By whom we have now received the atonement, or reconciliation, according to the translation of the same word in the preceding verse. Atonement has been made through the death of Christ. The Apostle, and they whom he addressed, being believers, had received the atonement, which Christ has not only accomplished, but makes His people receive it. Among the various errors that have discovered themselves in modern times, few are more lamentable or dangerous than the views of the atonement that have been adopted by many. Instead of considering the atonement of Christ as a real compensation to the Divine justice for the sins of those who are saved, so that God may remain just, while He is merciful to the chief of sinners, many look on it as nothing but a mere exhibition of the displeasure of God against sin, intended for the honor and maintenance of His government of the universe. This altogether destroys the Gospel, and in reality leaves men exposed to the Divine justice.

It is alleged by those who represent the atonement as only a expedient, subservient to the interests of morality, that sins are called debts merely in a figurative sense. But nothing can be more clear than that the Scriptures, which speak of sin as a debt, speak quite literally. The word debt extends to everything that justly demands an equivalent. We are said to be bought with the blood of Christ, as the price paid for our sins, which certainly implies that the blood of Christ is that which has given an equivalent to the justice of God, and made an atonement for those who, according to justice, must otherwise have suffered the penalty of sin, which is death. In the remission, then, of the sins of those who have received the atonement, God is at once the just God and the Savior, which He could not be without this atonement.

In reference to the sacrifice of Christ, by which He made the atonement, it is said, ‘Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood,’ Re 5:9. ‘Without shedding of blood is no remission, for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul,’ Heb 9:22; Le 17:11. The blood is the life, De 12:23. It was the shedding, then, of the blood of Christ, which signifies His death, that procured this remission of sin. This was the ransom that God declared He had found, by which He saved His people from going down to destruction, Job 33:24. It was their redemption. Redemption signifies a purchasing back, and supposes an alienation of what is redeemed; and thus Christ redeemed them with His blood, which was the price He paid, and they are ‘His purchased possession.’ His blood was the ransom paid to the justice of God; without which it was impossible they should have been released from the bondage of Satan and the sentence of death. He died for the ungodly, who, being justified by His blood, shall be saved from wrath. The ransom, then, which Christ paid, was the price that Divine justice demanded; and, having made His soul an offering for sin, God has declared Himself ‘well pleased for His righteousness’ sake,’ He having ‘magnified the law, and made it honorable.’ It was necessary that He should yield obedience to its precepts, and suffer the penalty annexed to its violation.

The law condemned sinners to eternal death. In order, then, to redeem them, it behooved Him to suffer, and He did actually suffer, the full equivalent of that death by which He made atonement for sin, and through faith His people receive that atonement. His blood is put, by a usual figure of speech, for His death, in which His sufferings and His obedience terminated, and which was their consummation, containing a full answer to all the demands on His people, of law and justice. God, then, is now ‘faithful and just to forgive them their sins, and to cleanse them from all unrighteousness,’ 1Jo 1:9. Believers have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins, Eph 1:7; Col 1:14.

Ye are bought with a price, 1Co 7:20-23. ‘Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ,’ 1Pe 1:18.

Many who look on atonement as something real, yet overturn it by making it universal. This is an error which at once opposes the Scriptures, and could be of no service, even were it true. Where is the difference, as respects the Divine character, whether a man does not obtain pardon, from his sins not being atoned for by the blood of Christ, or because he has not been elected to eternal life? If Christ’s death pays the price of the sins of all men, all men must be saved. If His redemption be universal, then all are redeemed from the captivity of Satan and the guilt of sin, and delivered from wrath. For what can they be punished, if atonement has been made for their sins? If a man’s debts are paid, how can he afterwards be imprisoned for those debts? A just God cannot punish a second time for the same offense. If Christ has paid the debt of all sinners, there is nothing remaining to pay in the case of any man. Would it be just that any should be punished in hell for the sins for which Christ was punished on earth? If Christ bore the sins of all men in His own body on the tree, shall any man bear them a second time? Had the sins of all men been imputed to Christ, in that case His sacrifice did not answer its end. It left the greater part of them for whom it was offered under the curse of the broken law. But God, in appointing Christ to make atonement for sin, and Christ Himself, in undertaking to perform it, had in view from all eternity a certain select number of mankind, who were and still are known to God. For their salvation only was that atonement made, and for them it will be ultimately effectual. A Savior being provided for any of the lost children of Adam was an act of pure grace; and therefore the extent of this salvation depends solely on Him who worketh all things according to the counsel of His own evil.

As Christ prayed not, Joh 17:9, aa. so He died ‘not, for the world,’ but for those whom God had given Him out of the world. And all that the Father giveth Him shall come to Him. For those for whom He is the propitiation He is the Advocate, and for whom He died He makes intercession, and for no others. In Israel there were sacrifices accompanied with the burning of incense, but these were not for the world but for Israel.

The sin-offering, on the great day of atonement, was for Israel only. It was for Israel, whose sins were laid upon the scape-goat, that intercession was made; and when, after offering his sacrifice, the high priest came out from the holiest of all, it was Israel who received the blessing. Of whose redemption was the deliverance of Israel from Egypt a figure? For whose healing was the serpent lifted up in the wilderness? In one word, of whom was Israel a type? Not of all mankind, but only of the people of God. As, then, the high priest under the law offered sacrifice only for Israel, interceded only for then., and blessed them only, so Christ, the High Priest of our profession, has offered His sacrifice only for His people, for whom He intercedes on the ground of that sacrifice, and whom, in consequence of His sacrifice and intercession, He will at last come out of the heavenly sanctuary to bless, Mt 25:34; thus discharging for them, and for them only, the three functions of the priestly office. His sacrifice and intercession, then, which are inseparable, are of the same extent, and for all for whom He offered His sacrifice He presents His intercession, which is founded upon it. Could it be supposed that He never intercedes for those for whom He gave the highest proof of His love in laying down His life?

Did He bear in His own body on the tree the sins of those to whom at last He will profess, ‘I never knew you,’ and will leave them under the curse, saying, ‘Depart from Me, ye cursed,’ whose sins, as the Lamb of God, He had taken away, on account of which, notwithstanding, He will consign them to punishment everlasting? Far different is His language respecting those whom He calls His sheep, for whom He says He lays down His life.

Them He professes to know, and declares that they know Him. ‘I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine. As the Father knoweth Me, so know I the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life.’

Witsius, in his Economy of the Covenants, observes: — ’That fictitious satisfaction for the reprobate and those who perish is altogether a vain and useless thing. For whom does it profit? Not certainly God, who by no act can be rendered happier than He is. Not Christ Himself, who, as He never seeks them, so He never receives them, for His peculiar property, and neither is He enriched by possessing them, though supposed to have purchased them at a dear rate. Not believers, who, content with their portion in God and in Christ, and fully redeemed by Christ, enjoy a happiness in every respect complete. In fine, not those that perish, who are constrained to satisfy in their own persons for their sins, to the uttermost farthing. The blood of Christ, says Remigius, formerly Bishop of Lyons, is a great price; such a price can in no respect be in vain and ineffectual, but rather is filled with the superabundant advantage arising from those blessings for which it is paid. Nay, the satisfaction of Christ for the reprobate had not only been useless, but highly unworthy both of God and of Christ. Unworthy of the wisdom, goodness, and justice of God, to exact and receive satisfaction from His most beloved Son for those whom He neither gave nor wanted to give His Son, and whom He decreed to consign to everlasting confinement to suffer in their own persons, according to the demerit of their crimes. Unworthy of Christ, to give His blood a price of redemption for those whom He had not in charge to redeem.’ ‘In respect of its intrinsic worth,’ says Brown of Haddington, ‘as the obedience and sufferings of a Divine person, Christ’s satisfaction is sufficient for the ransom of all mankind, and, being fulfilled in human nature, is equally suited to all their necessities. But in respect of His and His Father’s intention, it was paid and accepted instead of the elect, and to purchase their eternal happiness. Christ died for those only for whom He undertook, as SURETY, in the covenant of grace, in order to obtain their eternal salvation.’ Brown of Wamphray, in his Arguments against Universal Redemption, says: — ’All that Christ died for must certainly be saved. But all men shall not be saved. Christ’s death was a redemption, and we are said to be redeemed thereby. And therefore all such as He laid down this redemption or redemption-money for, must of necessity be redeemed and saved; and consequently He did not die for all, seeing all are not redeemed and saved. That all such for whom this redemption-money was paid, and this ransom was given, must be saved, is clear, otherwise it were no redemption; a ransom given for captives doth say that these captives, in law and justice, ought to be set at liberty. Christ’s intercession is really a presenting unto God the oblation made. Therefore, says the Apostle, Heb 9:24, that Christ is entered into heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for us; and so, by appearing, He intercedeth, and His appearing in His own blood, whereby He obtained eternal redemption, Heb 9:12; and so His intercession must be for all for whom the oblation was made, and the eternal redemption was obtained.’

Many suppose that in preaching the Gospel it is necessary to tell every man that Christ died for him, and that if Christ did not actually atone for the sins of every individual, the Gospel cannot be preached at all. But this is very erroneous. The Gospel declares that Christ died for the guilty, and that the most guilty who believe it shall be saved. ‘It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,’ even the chief of sinners. The Gospel does not tell every individual to whom it is addressed, that Christ died for him, but that if he believes he shall be saved. This is a warrant to preach the Gospel unto all men; and it is only as he is a believer that it is known to any man that Christ died for him individually. To preach the Gospel then to every man, and call on every one to believe and be saved, is quite consistent, as it is a truth that whoever believes shall be saved. If the most guilty of the human race believe in Jesus, there is the most perfect certainty that he shall be saved. If any man is straitened in preaching the Gospel, and finds a difficulty in calling on all men to believe, except he can at the same time tell them that Christ died for every individual of the human race, he does not clearly understand what the Gospel is. It is the good news that Christ died for the most guilty that believe, not that He died for every individual, whether he believe or not. To the truth that every man shall be saved who believes, there is no exception. If there are any sins that will never be pardoned, they imply that the individuals guilty of them will never believe; for if they believe, they will be saved. Whatever, then, the sin against the Holy Ghost may be supposed to be, it implies final unbelief; and the best way to relieve those persons who may think they are guilty of this sin, is not to labor to make them understand what the sin against the Holy Ghost is, but to make them see that, if they now believe, they cannot have ever committed the unpardonable sin. To suppose that any believe who will not be saved, is to suppose a contradiction in the word of God.

The difficulty of those who feel themselves restrained in exhorting sinners to believe the Gospel, on the ground that the atonement of Christ was not made for all, is the same as that which is experienced by some who, believing the doctrine of election, suppose it inconsistent to exhort all indiscriminately to believe the Gospel, since it is certain that they who are not chosen to eternal life will never be saved. In this they err. The Gospel, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, is to be made known to all nations for the obedience of faith. It is certain, however, that they for whom Christ did not die, and who do not belong to the election of grace, will not believe. These are secret things which belong to God, to be revealed in their proper time. But the Gospel is the fan in Christ’s hand, who, by means of it, will thoroughly purge His adore, separating those who are His sheep from the rest of the world lying in the wicked one. He has therefore commanded it to be preached to all men; and by it those will be discovered for whom His atonement was made, and whom God hath chosen from the foundation of the world, and predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto Himself We are not, then, to inquire first, either for ourselves or others, for whom Christ died, and who are chosen to eternal life, before we determine to whom the Gospel is to be preached; but to preach it to all, with the assurance that whoever believes it shall receive the remission of sins. In believing it, we ascertain for ourselves that Christ bare our sins in His own body on the tree, and that God from the beginning hath chosen us to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.

The atonement of Christ is of infinite value; and the reason why all men are not saved by it, is not for want of its being of sufficient value, but because it was not made for all. In itself, it was sufficient to make atonement for the sins of all mankind, had it been so intended. His sacrifice could not have been sufficient for any, if it had not been sufficient for all.

An atonement of infinite value was necessary for every individual that shall be saved, and more could not be necessary for all the world. This intrinsic sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice was doubtless in view in the Divine appointment concerning it. God made provision of such a sacrifice as was not only sufficient effectually to take away the sins of all the elect, but also sufficient to be laid before all mankind, in the dispensation of the Gospel. In the Gospel it was to be declared to all men, that in their nature the Son of God had made an atonement of infinite value, and brought in everlasting righteousness, which shall be upon all that believe. This atonement, then, being all-sufficient in itself, is proclaimed to all who hear the Gospel. All are invited to rely upon it for pardon and acceptance, as freely and fully as if they knew that God designed it for them from all eternity; and all who thus rely upon it shall experience the blessing of its efficacy and infinite value. In the proclamation of the Gospel, no restriction is held forth respecting election or reprobation. No difference is announced between one sinner and another. Without any distinction the call is addressed, and a gracious welcome proclaimed, to all the children of Adam. ‘Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.’ And well might the Apostle say in his own name, and that of the believers whom he addresses in the passage before us, ‘We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.’ We come now to the second division of this chapter, from Ro 5:12-19.

Having spoken of justification by faith, and having called our attention to several points connected with it, the Apostle now speaks of it as it was as figuratively exhibited in the condemnation of the human race in Adam. He first directs attention to the one man by whom sin was brought into the world, and declares that death came by sin. This necessarily imports that death is the lot of all that sin, and of none but such as are sinners. If death entered because of sin, it could affect none who were not guilty. But the Apostle does not leave this to be inferred, although this inference is both necessary and obvious. He draws it himself. ‘So death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; ‘thus plainly asserting that all are sinners upon whom death passes. Every step in this process is natural and obvious. We may trace the very train in the Apostle’s mind. We may see the reason of every subjoined expression. Having said that all are sinners who die, it immediately occurs to him that to some this would appear strange; he proceeds, therefore, to show how all have sinned. This he does by observing that sin was in the world before the law of Moses, and that it had existed from Adam until the law was given. But this, as he observes, could not have been the case, had not law existed; ‘for sin is not imputed where there is no law.’ What, then, is the evidence that sin existed before the law of Moses? The evidence is, that death reigned. And what is the evidence that sin existed in infants? The evidence is, that death reigned over them. If death came upon man by sin, it could have no dominion over any of the human race who were not sinners. Adam is called the figure of Him that was to come; and this must not be confined to one or two particulars, but must extend to everything in which Christ’s seed are one with Him, as contrasted with everything in which Adam’s seed are one with him. If Christ’s seed are one with him in any characteristic point in which Adam’s seed are not one with him, then the ‘figure,’ or type, would fail. Having shown the similarity, the Apostle proceeds to show the dissimilarity, or the abounding of grace over what was lost in Adam . This he continues to the end of verse 19, summing up in the 18th and 19th verses what he had referred to in the 12th, from which he was led by the considerations above specified.

In proceeding to analyze what is taught in Ro 5:12-19, Mr. Stuart professes to feel great difficulty. Considering the lamentable manner in which he has perverted and misrepresented the whole passage, this is not at all surprising. In his Synopsis, he says, ‘As the consequences of Adam’s sin were extended to all men, so the consequences of Christ’s obedience (viz., unto death) are extended to all; i.e., Jesus and Gentiles, all come on an equal footing into the kingdom of Christ,’ p. 196. And again he says, that verses Ro 5:12-19 ‘are designed at once to confirm the statement made in Ro 3:23-30, and Ro 4:10-19; i.e., to confirm the sentiment that Gentiles as well as Jews may rejoice in the reconciliation effected by Christ; while, at the same time, the whole representation serves very much to enhance the greatness of the blessings which Christ has procured for sinners by the contrast in which these blessings are placed,’ p. 198. There is here no reference at all to the distinction between Jews and Gentiles. The design is evidently to show the likeness between the way in which righteousness and life came, and the way in which condemnation and death came, the former by Christ, the latter by Adam. He adds, ‘I cannot perceive the particular design of introducing such a contrast in this place, unless it be to show the propriety and justice of extending the blessings of reconciliation to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews, and to set off to the best advantage the greatness of these blessings.’ But the extension of these blessings to the Gentiles, however important a truth , and however much dwelt on in other places, has nothing to do in this place, or with this contrast. The contrast here introduced is the same, whether the blessings are supposed to be confined to theJews, or also extended to the Gentiles. The contrast is not between Jew and Gentile, but between Adam and Christ, between the way of condemnation and the way of justification. How does Mr. Stuart bring in the distinction between Jews and Gentiles? He might as well introduce it into the history of the creation. But the common view of the passage is quite in accordance with the preceding context. The difficulty he feels is a difficulty to reconcile it with his own unscriptural views of this part of the word of God.

The following observations of President Edwards on the connection of this passage, in reference to the Commentary of Dr. Taylor, are equally applicable to the difficulties experienced respecting it by Mr. Stuart: — ’No wonder, when the Apostle is treating so fully and largely of our restoration, righteousness, and life by Christ, that he is led by it to consider our fall, sin, death, and ruin by Adam; and to observe wherein these two opposite heads of mankind agree, and wherein they differ, in the manner of conveyance of opposite influences and communications from each. Thus, if this place be understood, as it is used to be understood by orthodox divines, the whole stands in a natural, easy, and clear connection with the preceding part of the chapter, and all the former part of the Epistle; and in a plain agreement with the express design of all that the Apostle had been saying; and also in connection with the words last before spoken, as introduced by the two immediately preceding verses where he is speaking of our justification, reconciliation, and salvation by Christ; which leads the Apostle directly to observe how, on the contrary, we have sin and death by Adam. Taking this discourse of the Apostle in its true and plain sense, there is no need of great extent of learning, or depth of criticism, to find out the connection; but if it be understood in Dr. Taylor’s sense, the plain scope and connection are wholly lost, and there was truly need of a skill in criticism, and art of discerning, beyond, or at least different from, that of former divines, and a faculty of seeing something afar off, which other men’s sight could not reach, in order to find out the connection.’ — Orig. Sin, p. 312. It would be well if those who will not receive the kingdom of God as little children, would employ their ‘skill in criticism, and art of discerning,’ on any other book than the Bible.


aa. It is objected that in these words the Lord refers specially to His Apostles; but He clearly excludes the world, which also He does afterwards, when He prays for none but for those who should believe in Him. ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word.’ The whole of this sublime prayer is exclusively offered up by the Lord, first for Himself, next for the Apostles and, lastly, for all believers; and for this purpose He says He received power over all flesh, that He might give eternal life to as many as the Father had given Him and all that the Father giveth Him shall come to Him, Joh 6:37. No fewer than eight times does He refer to those who were given to Him, for whom alone He prays that they might be with Him to behold His glory.

Romans 5:12

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.

The general object of the Apostle in this place it is not at all difficult to perceive. He had treated largely of the doctrine of justification by faith, evinced its necessity, shown its accordance with the Old Testament Scriptures, and unfolded some of the privileges of a justified state; and now he illustrates and displays the Gospel salvation, by contrasting it with the misery and ruin introduced by the fall, and manifesting, in the plan of mercy, a super abounding of grace over transgression, and thus, as has been already remarked, exhibits the foundation both of condemnation and of justification.

In the preceding verse, Paul had stated that he himself, and those to whom he wrote, had been brought into a state of reconciliation with God.

Reconciliation, as has been noticed, implies two things, — first, that the parties referred to had been in a state of alienation and hostility; and, secondly, that this hostility has ceased, and their discord been amicably terminated. Occasion is here given to the development and illustration of both these points, — first, the ground of the hostility and its effects, with which the Apostle commences in the verse before us; and next, the manner, with its consequences, in which this hostility has been terminated.

This last he unfolds in Ro 5:15 and following verses, to the end of the Ro 5:18, and then in Ro 5:19 sums up the whole discussion which properly follows from the declaration in Ro 5:11 of the reconciliation. Wherefore. — This introduces the conclusion which the Apostle draws in Ro 5:18, but which is for a few moments interrupted by the explanatory parenthesis interposed from Ro 5:13-17 inclusive. It connects with what goes before from the beginning of Ro 5:10, especially with the one preceding, in which it is declared that through our Lord Jesus Christ believers have now received the reconciliation. It also connects with what follows, as an inference drawn from what is still to be mentioned, of which we have several examples in the apostolic writings.

Wherefore, or for this reason, namely, that as by one man sin entered, so by one Man came righteousness. As introduces a comparison or contrast, of which, however, only one branch is here stated, as the Apostle is immediately led off into the explanatory parenthesis already noticed, which terminates with Ro 5:17. In Ro 5:18 he reverts to the comparison, not directly, however, but with reference to the intermediate verses and on account of the interruption, not only states it in substance, but repeats it in both its parts. By one man sin entered into the world. — Mr. Stuart interprets this as equivalent to sin commenced with one man. Sin did indeed commence with one man; but this is not the Apostle’s meaning. If ever sin commenced among the human race, it must have commenced by one. But the Apostle means to tell us not merely that sin commenced by one, but that it came upon all the world from one. This is the only point of view in which the sin of Adam causing death can be contrasted with the righteousness of Christ giving life. Death by sin: — If death came through sin, then all who die are sinners.

This proves, contrary to Mr. Stuart’s view, that infants are sinners in Adam. Death is the wages of sin. It is the dark badge of man’s alienation from God, the standing evidence that he is by nature separated from the Fountain of Life, and allied to corruption. If infants did not participate in the guilt of Adam’s sin, they would not experience death, disease, or misery, until they become themselves actual transgressors. ‘Who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?’ Job 4:7.

And so, that is, consequently, or in this manner, and not, as Mr. Stuart interprets it, in like manner. — This shows the consequence of what is said in the former clauses, namely, that death comes upon all because all have sinned, being participators in the one man’s offense. Death passed, literally passed through; that is, passed through from father to son. All men — that is, all of the human race, and not all merely who actually sin.

As a matter of fact, we see that death does pass upon all without exception. For that — or inasmuch as. Augustine, Beza, and others, translate this ‘in whom,’ and this interpretation most conclusively supports the doctrine of imputed sin.1. But the ordinary rendering, as adopted by our translators, as well as by Calvin and others, seems on the whole to be preferable; nor does the doctrine in question require for its support any other than the common translation. The meaning is, that death passes on all men because all men are sinners. Mr. Stuart makes this to refer to those who are actually sinners. But there is no warrant for this.

Besides, all have not actually sinned. And this would not serve his purpose, because, at all events, it is here implied that death comes on men on account of sin. Since, then, infants die, it proves that they are sinners If the assertion be, that death passes on adults because they are sinners, it may be asked why death, which is ‘the wages of sin,’ passes upon children, on the supposition that they are not sinners? And further, where is the likeness, if the expression ‘and so’ be interpreted in like manner? Is there any likeness between sin entering the world through one offense, and a man dying by his own actual sin? Is there not rather the strongest contrast? Still less would this illustrate the way of justification through Christ, which is the Apostle’s object in this place. It is quite obvious that the Apostle designs to assert that all die because all are sinners. All have sinned. — That is, all have really sinned, though not in their own persons. This does not mean, as some explain it, that infants become involved in the consequences of Adam’s sin without his guilt. Adam stood as the head, the forefather and representative of all his posterity They were all created in him; and in the guilt of his sin, as well as its consequence, they became partakers.2. These truths, that sin, death, and condemnation come upon all by one man, are clearly expressed in the following verses, Ro 5:15-19. Through the offense of one, many are dead. The judgment was by the one that sinned to condemnation. By one man’s offense death reigned by one. By the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation. By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners. Mr. Stuart labors to restrict the declaration in the first to an assertion of individual and actual transgression. If he could have succeeded,3. the doctrine of the sin of Adam being counted to us would have remained unshaken, because it no more depends only on this verse, than the doctrine of our Lord’s divinity solely upon those individual texts against which Socinians direct all the force of their unhallowed criticisms.

But the doctrine of imputed sin is evidently contained in the verse under consideration. Adam’s sin was as truly the sin of every one of his posterity, as if it had been personally committed by him. It is only in this way that all could be involved in its consequences. Besides, it is only in this light that it is illustrative of justification by Christ. Believers truly die with Christ, and pay the debt in Him by their union or oneness with Him.

It belongs not to us to inquire how these things can be. We receive them on the testimony of God. Secret things belong to the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and our children.


1. We may observe that eF’ w|= , which our translators have rendered ‘for that,’ has been by many, both of the fathers and of the moderns, rendered ‘in whom.’ Any one who wishes to see how much may be said for this meaning may consult Maresii Defensio Fidei Catholice, Dis. 2, sec. 6, p. 382, etc. It is not correct to say as Mr. Stuart does, that Augustine’s view of original sin was founded on this exegesis of eF’ w|= . That venerable writer took a much more enlarged view of the subject than such an insinuation suggests.

2. No man will allege that it is by a separate act of creative power that each of Adam’s descendants come into this world. They were in the loins of Adam when he was created, Heb 7:10.

3. If Ro 5:12, as Mr. Stuart would have it, means simply, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have actually sinned, then the other member of the comparison may be expressed (strongly, indeed, but on this principle amply) in the words of the Socinian Curcelloeus: -- ’So life passed upon all men who have been spiritually born again of Christ by faith, since they all, after their conversion, have kept the commands of God.’ But will Mr. Stuart accept this completion of the parallel? -- a completion by which Christ is dishonored, and the glory of justifying sinners (for that is the opposite of condemnation) is parceled out between the perfect righteousness of the Son of God, and the poor performances of those whom he came to save. In the words of Maresius, ‘Certainly that is the sin of all on account of which death passed through upon all Therefore Adam’s sin is the sin of all.’

Romans 5:13

For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed where there is no law.

This verse and the following are obviously interposed in vindication of the assertion that ‘all have sinned.’ It might be argued by opponents of the Gospel, that if there was no law, and therefore no transgression, anterior to Moses, the Apostle’s declaration would not hold good in respect to that long period which elapsed before the promulgation of the written commandments at Mount Sinai. In reply, Paul reasons backward from death to sin, and from sin to law. Admitting, in the last clause of the verse, that sin could not be imputed without law, he proves that sin was in the world by the undeniable fact that there was death; and if this proves that there was sin, then it inevitably follows that there must have been law: and thus he evinces the fallacy of the assumption on which the objection is founded. Death, he had shown, was, in all, the consequence of sin. But before the Mosaic law, as well as afterward, death reigned in the world universally, and with supreme dominion. Until the Law. — That is, from the entrance of sin and death by Adam until the law of Moses. It is hardly needful to remark that the use of the word ‘until’ does not imply a cessation of sin on the introduction of the Mosaic economy. Was, — that is, really was, or truly existed, — not, according to Dr. Macknight, ‘was counted,’ as if Adam’s posterity had his first sin counted to them, though it was not really theirs. It was their sin as truly as it was that of Adam, otherwise the justice of God would never have required that they should suffer for it. But it is not our business to try to account for this on principles level to the capacity of man, but to receive it as little children, on the authority of God. But sin is not imputed. — Many are greatly in error in the interpretation of this expression, understanding it as if before the giving of the law sin existed, but was not imputed; but if sin exists, it must be reckoned sin. It means that sin does not exist where there is no law. The conclusion, therefore, is, that as sin is not reckoned where there is no law, and as sin was reckoned, or as it existed, before the law of Moses, therefore there was law before the law of Moses. The passage may be thus paraphrased: — ’For sin existed among men from Adam to Moses, as well as afterwards. Yet there is no sin where there is no law. There were, then, both sin and law before the giving of the law of Moses.’ The law before Moses is that which God had promulgated, besides the law written in the heart, which makes all men accountable.

Romans 5:14

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.

Nevertheless, or but. — That is, though it is a truth that there is no sin where there is no law, and that where there is no law transgressed there is no death, yet we see that death reigned from Adam to Moses, as well as from Moses to the present time. The conclusion from this is self-evident, and therefore the Apostle leaves his readers to draw it, — namely, that the human race have always been under law, and have universally been transgressors. Even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. — Some suppose that the persons referred to are those who did not, like Adam, break a revealed or a positive law. But this is objected to on the following grounds: — 1st , There is no strong or striking difference, and therefore no contrast, between the different methods of promulgating a law. Whether a law is made known by being written on the heart or on tables, is to the persons to whom it comes a matter with which they have no concern.

A contrast might as well be made between those who know a law by reading it themselves, and those who hear it read, or between those who hear it immediately from the lawgiver, and those who hear it through the medium of others. 2nd , The reason of introducing the persons referred to by the word even, implies that they are such persons as apparently ought to be excluded from the reign of sin and death. This cannot designate those who in any way know the law. But it evidently applies to infants. No one will cordially receive this except the man who, like a little child, submits to the testimony of God. Indeed, no man can understand the grounds of this imputation, so as to be able perfectly to justify it on principles applicable to human life. It must always stand, not on our ability to see its justice, but on our belief that God speaks true, and that it is just, as the Judge of all the earth in all things does justly, whether we are able to see it or not. 3rd , The word even supposes that the persons referred to are but a portion of those generally included in the declaration of the preceding clauses. These cannot be such as received not a positive law, for all, from Adam to Moses, are such; but it will apply to infants. Death reigned from Adam to Moses, over all the human race, even over infants, who did not actually sin, but sinned in Adam. 4th , Who is the image, figure, or type. — This appears to have been suggested from the immediately preceding clause, and to imply that the persons referred to were sinners, or transgressors of law, just as the saved are righteous — the former sinners in Adam, although they had not actually sinned as he did, just as the others are righteous in Christ, although not actually righteous like Him. Those who are saved fulfill the law just as the others break the law, namely, in their great head or representative. But, 5th , Even if the persons here referred to were those who did not break a positive or a revealed law, yet it will come to the same thing. If the reign of death proves the reign of sin in such persons, must not the reign of death over infants equally prove the reign of sin? If the death of adults before the time of Moses was a proof of their being sinners, then of necessity the death of infants must prove the same thing. If death does not prove sin in infants, it cannot prove sin in any. If infants may die though they are not sinners, then may adults die without being sinners.

In alluding to the second and third reasons given above, it is observed in the Presbyterian Review , ‘Such reasons as the two which we have copied above from Mr. Haldane, no advocate of the other explanation, so far as we have observed, has ever attempted to touch. They are clear and unembarrassed, and the last of them, especially, possesses all the power of a reductio ad absurdum. It places in a strange light the somewhat inelegant and feeble iteration, to say the least, which Turretine and Stuart would ascribe to the Apostle, — nevertheless sin reigned where there was no law, even over those who sinned without a law. The general import of Ro 5:13 and Ro 5:14 is given with great precision and beauty by Cornelius à Lapide. “You will object, that where there is no law, there can be no sin. As the men, however, in the interval between Adam and Moses died, it is obvious that they must necessarily have been sinners. And in case you may perchance insinuate that this is merely a proof of their actual sins, and not of original guilt, I appeal to children, who, although they had not offended against any (positive) Divine law, were also, during that period, subject to death. If infants, then, are included in the Apostle’s declaration, we may infer from it directly the imputation to them of Adam’s sin, as they have no actual transgression of their own which could render them obnoxious to the threatened punishment; and indeed, whether they are directly included or not, the simple fact that they die cannot be set aside, nor can the inference be evaded, that they are sinners by imputation.” We are not ignorant that Mr. Stuart, in one of his Excursus, demurs to this conclusion, considering “temporal evils and death as discipline, probation, sui generis ,” p. 521. We started, we confess, to find so glaring a revival of the miserable sophistry of Taylor of Norwich, and felt disposed just to repeat the words “sui generis ,” and leave to his own power of refutation a sentiment which would have made even Heraclitus smile. But, seriously, if death is discipline, it is of the nature of chastisement; and is it the custom of a most tender parent to chastise a child that never offended him? Is it the practice of men who wish to be understood, to speak of mere discipline in such language as this, — “Cursed is the ground for thy sake;” — “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death?” Is it quite consistent to deny, under every variety of form, and with all possible intensity of asseveration, the moral agency of infants, and then to represent them as the subjects of a discipline from which, on this hypothesis, they can derive no benefit, or to resolve death, in one place, into a kind of sui generas probation, and in another to admit that the facts of the evils of this life turning to a good account in respect to those who love God, “does not show that they are not evils in themselves, nor that they are not a part of the curse?” In fine, does not the fantasy that death is a sort of discipline, go to overturn the doctrine of the Savior’s sacrifice? If death is discipline generally, how can you show that it was anything else in the case of Christ? Yet unless in His case it was punitive, the salvation of sinners must cease for ever, — it is not true that by His stripes we can be healed.’ Figure of Him that was to come. — Efforts are made by some to involve in uncertainty and obscurity a very clear subject, making it a matter of difficulty. What are the aspects in which this likeness consists? Mr. Stuart instances a number of particulars, in which he makes the likeness on the part of Christ to extend to certain benefits, which His death has conferred on all mankind . But this is neither contained in this place, nor in any other passage of Scripture. This fanciful and most unscriptural commentator wishes to evade the conclusion that Adam’s sin condemned all his posterity, and attempts to establish that it only indirectly led to that result. But it is evident, from the connection, that Adam must here be represented as a figure of Christ in that transgression which is spoken of, and in its consequences. His transgression, and the ruin it brought on all mankind, as being one with him, was a figure of the obedience to the law, and the suffering of the penalty, and the recovery from its condemnation, by our being one with Christ as our covenant-head.

The resemblance, on account of which Adam is regarded as the type of Christ, consists in this, that Adam communicated to those whom he represented what belonged to him, and that Christ also communicated to those whom He represents what belonged to Him. There is, however, a great dissimilarity between what the one and the other communicates By his disobedience Adam has communicated sin and death, and by His obedience Christ has communicated righteousness and life; and as Adam was the author of the natural life of his posterity, so Christ is the author of the spiritual life which His people now possess, and which they shall enjoy at their resurrection, so that, in accordance with these analogies, He is called the last Adam. If, then, the actual obedience of Christ is thus imputed to all those of whom He is the head, and is counted to them for their justification as their own obedience; in the same way, the actual sin of Adam, who is the type of Christ, is imputed to all those of whom he is the head, and is counted for their condemnation, as their own sin. In writing to those at Corinth, who were ‘sanctified in Christ Jesus,’ the Apostle says, ‘The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.’

The information which the Scriptures give us of the sin of the first man, show that it was a complete subversion of nature, and the establishment of the kingdom of Satan in the world; they also show us that the purpose of sending Jesus Christ into the world was to destroy the empire of Satan, sin, and death. ‘We read, says Mr. Bell On the Covenants ,’ of two Adams, 1Co 15:45-49. As the one is called the first man, the other is called the second, even the Lord from heaven. Now, as there were innumerable multitudes of men between the first man and Him, it is plain that He is called the second man for some very peculiar reason. And what else can that be, but because He is the representative and father of all His spiritual seed, as the first man was of all his natural seed? The one is the head, the federal head of the earthly men, the other of the heavenly. Since the one is called the second man, not because He was the second in the order of creation, but because He was the second public head, it follows that the other is called the first man not because he was first created, or in opposition to his descendants, but because he was the first public head in opposition to Christ the second. Thus the two Adams are the heads of the two covenants. The one the representative of all who are under the covenant of works, communicating his image unto them; the other the representative of all who are under the covenant of grace, and communicating His image unto them. By the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, and by the obedience of the other many shall be made righteous.’

Romans 5:15

But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense 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.

Not as the offense, so also is the free gift. — There is a likeness between the sin of Adam and the gift of righteousness by Christ. But, as in most instances with regard to types, the anti type surpasses the type; and while in some respects the type furnishes a likeness, in others it may be very dissimilar. The sin of Adam involved all his posterity in guilt and ruin, as they were all created in him as their head, and consequently in him are guilty by his disobedience. This was a shadow of the gift of righteousness by grace. All Christ’s seed were created in Him, Eph 2:10, and are righteous by His obedience. But while the one was a type of the other in this respect, there is a great dissimilarity both as to the degree of the evil and of the blessing. The evil brought death, but the blessing not only recovered from ruin, but abounded to unspeakable happiness. If through the offense of one many be dead, or died. — Here it is taken for granted that ‘the many’ who die, die through Adam’s offense. Infants, then, die through Adam’s offense, for they are a part of ‘the many.’ But we have before seen that death comes only by sin, — that is, none die who are not sinners, and there is no sin where there is no law, — consequently infants are sinners, and must be included in the law under which Adam sinned. If infants die by Adam’s offense, they must be guilty by Adam’s offense; for God does not visit with the punishment of sin where there is no sin. Grace of God, and gift by grace. — These differ, as the one is the spring and fountain of the other. The gift, namely, the gift of righteousness (Ro 5:17), is a gift which results purely from grace. Some explain this phrase as if by a figure one thing is made into two. But they are really two things. By one man, Jesus Christ. — The gift comes only by Jesus Christ. Without His atonement for sin, the gift could not have been made. Grace could not operate till justice was satisfied. Much more hath abounded unto many. — The greater abounding cannot possibly be with respect to the greater number of individuals benefited.

None are benefited by Christ but those who were ruined in Adam; and only a part of those who were ruined are benefited. In this respect, then, instead of an abounding, there is a shortcoming. The abounding is evidently in the gift extending, not only to the recovery of what Adam lost, but to blessings which Adam did not possess, and had no reason to expect. The redeemed are raised in the scale of being above all creatures, whereas they were created lower than the angels. Some are of opinion that the Apostle here rests the abounding of the gift on a supposition, which in the following verses he proves. Thus, as so much evil has come by Adam, it may well be supposed that much more good will come by Christ. But this is evidently mistaking the meaning altogether. The Apostle does not rest on supposition derived from the nature of the case; he asserts a fact.

He does not say that it may well be supposed that a greater good comes by Christ than the evil that came by Adam; but he says that the good that comes by Christ does more than repair the evil that came by Adam.

Romans 5:16

And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.

By one that sinned. — Many read by one sin; but the common reading is preferable. The meaning is, in the case of the one that sinned, namely, Adam, condemnation came by one offense; but the free gift of righteousness extends to many offenses, and to life eternal. This is another particular in which the gift exceeds the evil. It not only, as is stated in the last verse, confers more than Adam lost, but it pardons many sins; whereas condemnation came by one sin on the part of Adam. The gift by grace, then, not only procures to him who receives it the pardon of that one offense on account of which he fell under condemnation, but it brings to him the pardon of his many personal offenses, although these offenses deepen and aggravate the condemnation, and bear witness that he allows the deeds of his first father. Judgment, or sentence. — The original word here often itself signifies condemnation, or a condemning sentence; but as it here issues in condemnation, it must denote simply sentence, a judgment, without involving the nature of that sentence. Condemnation. — Here it is expressly asserted that condemnation has come by the one sin of the one man. If, then, all are condemned by that sin, all must be guilty by it, for the righteous Judge would not condemn the innocent. To say that any are condemned or punished for Adam’s sin, who are not guilty by it, is to accuse the righteous God of injustice. Can God impute to any man anything that is not true? If Adam’s sin is not ours as truly as it was Adam’s sin, could God impute it to us? Does God deal with men as sinners, while they are not truly such? If God deals with men as sinners on account of Adam’s sin, then it is self-evident that they are sinners on that account. The just God could not deal with men as sinners on any account which did not make them truly sinners. The assertion, however, that Adam’s sin is as truly ours as it was his, does not imply that it is his and ours in the same sense. It was his personally; it is ours because we were in him. Adam’s sin, then, is as truly ours as it was his sin, though not in the same way. By one. — Some make the substantive understood to be man.

But though this would be a truth, yet, from the nature of the sentence, it is evident that the substantive understood is not man, but sin; for it is opposed to the many offenses. It is, then, the one offense opposed to many offenses. Unto justification. — the free gift confers the pardon of the many offenses in such a way that the person becomes righteous; he is, of course, justified.

Romans 5:17

For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

By one man’s offense — rather, by the offense of the one man. The margin has ‘by one offense,’ for which there is no foundation. Death reigned. — It is here said that death reigned by the offense of the one man; consequently every one over whom death reigns is involved in that one offense of that one man. The empire of death, then, extends over infants and all men, on account of the one man. Instead of dying for their actual sins, death is to all men the penalty of the first sin. Reigned. — Those who die are here supposed to be the subjects of death, and death is considered as their king. If infants were not guilty in Adam, they could not be under the dominion of death. If they are not worthy of condemnation till they sin actually, they would not die till they sin actually. Much more. — Here the abounding of the gift over the evil is specified. Those redeemed by the death of Christ are not merely recovered from the fall, but made to reign through Jesus Christ, to which they had no title in Adam’s communion.

The saved are described as receiving abundance of grace, or the superabundance, — that is, the grace that abounds over the loss. This applies to all the redeemed. They all receive the superabundance of grace; they all receive more than was lost. They are also said to receive the super abounding of the gift of righteousness. This refers to the superior righteousness possessed by the redeemed, which is better than that which in innocence was possessed by Adam; for theirs is the righteousness of Christ, the righteousness of Him who is God. To this the righteousness of Adam and of angels cannot be compared. Shall reign in life. — Believers are to be kings as well as priests. All this they are to be through the one Jesus Christ; for as they were one with Adam in his fall, so they are one with Christ in His victory and triumph. If He be a king, they also are kings; for they are one with Him as they were one with Adam. They shall not be re-established in the terrestrial paradise in which man was first placed subject to the danger of falling, but shall be conducted to honor, and glory, and immortality, in the heavenly world, before the throne of God, without the smallest danger of ever losing that blessing. They shall eat of the tree of life, which, says Christ, ‘I will give’ them, not on earth, but in the midst of the paradise of God. Speaking of His sheep, in the character of a Shepherd, Jesus Christ Himself says, ‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’ ‘I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.’ ‘Your life is hid with Christ in God,’ Col 3:3. By all this we learn the excellence of that life in which believers shall reign, by whom it is conferred, its absolute security, and eternal duration.

Romans 5:18

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, or wherefore, then. — There are two words in the original: the one word signifies wherefore, the other signifies then, or consequently. It states the result of what was said. By the offense of one, or by one offense. — Both of these are equally true, but the latter appears to be the design of the Apostle, as the word one wants the article. There is nothing in the original corresponding to the terms judgment and free gift, but they are rightly supplied by an ellipsis from Ro 5:16. Condemnation. — Here it is expressly asserted that all men are condemned in the first offense. Infants, then, are included. If they are condemned, they cannot be innocent — they must be sinners; for condemnation would not have come upon them for a sin that is not theirs. The whole human race came under the condemnation of death in all its extent — spiritual, temporal, and eternal. Even so, — that is, in the same manner. By the righteousness of one, or rather, by one righteousness. Mr. Stuart prefers the former because of the antithesis, di ’ eJno>v dikaiw>atov , which, he says, ‘naturally cannot mean anything but the righteousness of one (not one righteousness). ’ But the phrase alluded to can very naturally and properly signify one righteousness, as the obedience of Christ is summed up in His act of obedience to death.

Righteousness here, Mr. Stuart renders obedience, holiness, righteousness.

But it is righteousness in its proper sense. By the one act of giving Himself for our sins, Christ brought in everlasting righteousness. The free gift came upon all men. — How did the free gift of the righteousness of God come upon all men, seeing all are not saved? Mr. Stuart explains it as signifying that righteousness is provided for all. But this is not the Apostle’s statement. The coming of the free gift upon all is contrasted with the coming of condemnation on all, and therefore it cannot mean that condemnation actually came upon all, while the free gift was only provided for all. Besides, it is added, unto justification of life. — This is the issue of the coming of the free gift. It ends in the justification of life. Upon all men. — The persons here referred to must be those, and those only, who are partakers of justification, and who shall be finally saved. What then? Are all men to be justified? No; but the ‘all men’ here said to be justified, are evidently the ‘all’ of every nation, tribe, and kindred, whether Jews or Gentiles, represented by Christ. All who have been one with Adam were involved in his condemnation, and all who are one with Christ shall be justified by His righteousness.

No violence is necessary in order to restrict the universality of the terms ‘all men’ as they appear in this verse. General expressions must ever be construed with reference to their connection, and the context sufficiently defines their meaning. There is here an obvious and specific reference to the two heads of the human race, the first and the second man; and the ‘all men,’ twice spoken of in this verse, are placed in contrast to each other, as denoting the two families into which the world is divided.1. The all men, then, must be limited to their respective heads. When this is understood, the meaning is alike clear and consistent, but without this all is dark and incongruous. If the ‘all men’ in the latter clause of the verse are made to apply to mankind without exception, then it follows that all men are justified, and all are made partakers of eternal life. But as this would contradict truth and Scripture, so the whole tenor of the Apostle’s argument proves that the interpretation already stated is the true one. On account of the offense of Adam, sentence of death was pronounced upon all whom he represented. On account of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, sentence of justification unto life was pronounced in favor of all whom He represented. ‘That the two multitudes,’ it is observed in the Presbyterian Review, ‘are co-extensive, that the point of the similitude is in some effect common to the whole human race, ’ Mr. Stuart infers, quite as a matter of course, from this 18th verse (Ro 5:18), “As by the offense 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.” And were we to confine our view to that verse, the inference might appear sufficiently probable. But we must attend to the scope of the whole section, and take care that we do not affix to one clause a signification which would make it a downright contradiction of another, of which the meaning is written as with a sunbeam. Now the sacred penman is throughout comparing Adam and Christ in their influence on two great bodies of human beings, and illustrating, by the comparison, the doctrine of justification. He states the likeness at first broadly, but lest his readers should be disposed to extend it too far , he accompanies it, in Ro 5:15-17, with some explanations and restrictions. In these verses, therefore, the two contrasted multitudes must be the same as those mentioned in the general statement of Ro 5:18 and Ro 5:19, unless we wish to make the Apostle guilty of the deception of changing his terms upon us in the course of his argument, and while he is developing a similarity between A and B, interposing some limitations which have no reference to the connection of these terms, but which bear upon the relative positions of A and C. Now the multitude mentioned in the latter member of the contrast, which Ro 5:15-17 express, is not the whole of mankind. It will not be pretended that all men obtain justification (Ro 5:16), or that all “shall reign in life through Jesus Christ” (Ro 5:17). In these verses the second member cannot be understood as comprising the entire human race; and as, confessedly, the phrase “all men” (see Joh 12:32; 2Co 3:2) may be used in a limited signification, there is no obvious reason why, in Ro 5:18, it must be so used.

There is just one objection to this exegesis which it is worth while to notice. Mr. Stuart thus states it: — “If we say that sentence of eternal perdition, in its highest sense, comes upon all men by the offense of Adam, and this without any act on their part, or even any voluntary concurrence in their present state and condition of existence, then, in order to make grace super abound over all this, how can we avoid the conclusion that justification, in its highest sense, comes upon all men without their concurrence?” It is always a great convenience to a reviewer when an author refutes himself. This is the case in the present instance. “In regard to the super abounding of the grace of the Gospel,” says Mr. Stuart in the very same page, “it must be noted, in order to avoid mistake, that I do not construe it as appertaining to the member of the subjects, but to the number of offenses forgiven by it.” Now, on this principle, our view of the diversity of the two multitudes does not abolish the superabundance of grace. To the elect, not merely the penal consequences of Adam’s sin are remitted, but those of all their own innumerable transgressions, and thus grace still maintains its due pre-eminence. ‘This objection vanishing so easily by a wave of the same wand which conjured it up, we are enabled fully to conclude, that although the whole of mankind are comprehended in the first number of the comparison, only the elect are included in the second; that the notion of placing extent of influence — the number of persons to whom the condemning or saving energy reaches — among the points of resemblance, obtains no countenance from Paul; and that the opinion resting upon it, that sentence of condemnation can be passed upon none except for actual transgression, has no foundation.’ 3.


1. This division was announced by God in pronouncing sentence on the serpent, ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed, Ge 3:15.

3. Here it may be observed, that if all men had been saved, it would have given countenance to the supposition that fallen men had some claim upon God, that there was some hardship connected with their being brought under condemnation, not by their individual transgression, but by that of Adam, and thus the riches of grace would have been tarnished.

Romans 5:19

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

For. — This assigns a reason for what the Apostle has said in the preceding verses. By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners. — Here it is expressly asserted that the many (not many; it includes all who were in Adam, that is all the human race) were made sinners by Adam’s disobedience. Mr. Stuart attempts to evade this, by supposing that they are led into sin by the occasion of Adam’s sin. This is a great perversion.

Adam’s disobedience is said not merely to be the occasion of leading his posterity into sin, but to have made them sinners. Mr. Stuart rests much on the absurdity of supposing that one man is punished for another’s offense. But, Adam’s offense is the offense of all his posterity. It made them sinners. That sin must be theirs by which they were made sinners. If there is any self-evident truth, this is one of the clearest. We must, like little children, receive God’s testimony upon this as well as every other subject. We must not rest our acquiescence in God’s testimony upon our ability to fathom the depth of His unsearchable counsels. Mr. Stuart makes Adam’s sin merely what he calls the instrumental or occasional cause. But with no propriety can Adam’s sin be called the instrument by which his posterity sinned. This is altogether absurd. And an occasional cause is no cause. Every person knows the difference between a cause and an occasion. Besides, to suppose that Christ’s own obedience is the real cause of our justification, and that Adam’s sin is only the occasion, not properly the cause, of our condemnation, is to destroy the contrast between Adam and Christ, on which the Apostle here insists. If Christ’s obedience is the ground of our justification, Adam’s disobedience must, by the contrast, be the ground of our condemnation. So by the obedience of one shall the many be made righteous. — Only a part of mankind are included in that covenant of which Christ is the surety. In consequence of Adam being the covenant-head of all mankind, all are involved in his condemnation; but Christ is not the head of all mankind, but of the Church, and to all but the Church He will say, ‘I never knew you.’ So, — that is, in this way, not in like manner. — It is not in a manner that has merely some likeness, but it is in the very same manner.

For although there is a contrast in the things, the one being disobedience, and the other obedience, yet there is a perfect identity in the manner. This is important, as by the turn given to the word translated so , Mr. Stuart perverts the passage. The many shall be constituted righteous. The many here applies to all in Christ. It is argued that the phrase, ‘the many,’ must be equally extensive in its application in both cases. So it is as to the respective representatives. The many, with reference to Adam, includes all his race. The many, with respect to Christ, implies all His seed. Again, if it is said that Adam’s posterity became sinners merely by the example, influence, or occasion of his sin, it may with equal propriety be said that Christ’s posterity became righteous by the example or occasion of His righteousness. This makes the Gospel altogether void.

The passage before us is of the highest importance. It forms a striking conclusion to all that goes before, from the beginning of Ro 5:12, and asserts, in plain terms, two grand truths, on which theGospel in all its parts proceeds, though by many they are strenuously opposed, and by others only partially admitted. In Ro 5:12, the Apostle had said that death passed upon all men , for that all have sinned. In Ro 5:13 and Ro 5:14, he had shown that to this there is no exception; and had further declared that Adam was the figure of Christ who was to come. In the following verses, to the end of Ro 5:17, he had asserted the opposite effects that follow from the sin of the one and the righteousness of the other. In Ro 5:18, he had given a summary of what he had said in the preceding verses. Condemnation, he had there affirmed, had come by the offense of one, and justification by the righteousness of one. But as it would not be readily admitted that either a curse or a blessing should come on men on account of the sin or righteousness of another, he here explicitly affirms this truth , which was indeed included in his preceding statements, but being of so great importance, it was proper that it should be declared in the plainest terms. It is grounded on the constituted unity of all men with their covenant-heads. By the disobedience of Adam, those who were one with him in the first creation were made sinners. In the same way, by the obedience of Jesus Christ, they who are one with Him in the new creation are made righteous. This verse (Ro 5:19) contains the explicit declaration of these two facts, and the appellations ‘sinners’ and ‘righteous’ must be understood in the full extent of these terms. Here, then, these two doctrines of the imputation of sin and of righteousness , which is taught throughout the whole of the Scriptures, is exhibited in a manner so clear, that, without opposing the obvious meaning of the words, they cannot be contested. It is impossible to conceive how men could be made sinners by the disobedience of Adam, or righteous by the obedience of Jesus Christ, in any degree whatever, if the truth of the doctrine of the imputation of the sin of the former, and of the righteousness of the latter, be not admitted.

In order to remove every pretext for the supposition that the sin of Adam is not asserted in this 19th verse (Ro 5:19) to be truly our sin, it is essential to observe that when it is here said that by one man’s disobedience many were made ‘sinners,’ there is no reference to the commission of sin, or to our proneness to it from our innate corruption. The reference is exclusively to its guilt. It was formerly shown, in the exposition of the third chapter, that it was in reference to the Divine tribunal, and respecting condemnation, that Paul had all along been considering sin both in regard to Jews and Gentiles, and that his assertion that they are under sin can only signify that they are guilty, since he there repeats in summary what he had before advanced. And he fully establishes this meaning when he afterwards says, in the 19th verse of that chapter, ‘that every mouth may be stopped, and all theworld may become guilty before God.’ Now these remarks equally apply to every part of his discussion, from the beginning of the Epistle to the end of this fifth chapter. In the whole course of it, all he says of the commission of sin is solely with a view to establish the guilt of those of whom he speaks, on account of which they are under condemnation, in order that, in contrast, he might exhibit that righteousness by which men, being justified, are freed from guilt and condemnation. In the same manner, it is evident from all the preceding context that by the term sinners in the verse before us, Paul does not mean that through the disobedience of one many were rendered depraved and addicted to the commission of sin, but that they become guilty of sin. In Ro 5:15 and Ro 5:17, he says that through the offense of one many are ‘dead,’ and that death reigned; and in Ro 5:16, that the judgment was by one to ‘condemnation;’ and this he repeats in Ro 5:18, where he says that as by the offense of one or by one offense judgment came upon all men to ‘condemnation,’ so by the righteousness of one, or by one righteousness, the free gift came upon all men unto ‘justification’ of life.

He is speaking, then, all along of sin only in reference to condemnation, and of righteousness only in reference to justification. In the same way, in this 19th verse (Ro 5:19), where he repeats or sums up all that he had asserted in the preceding verses, when he says that by the disobedience of one many were made ‘sinners,’ the reference is exclusively to the guilt of sin, which occasions condemnation. When, on the other hand, he says that by the obedience of one many were made righteous, the reference is exclusively to justification. And as it is evident that the expression righteousness has here no reference to inherent righteousness or sanctification, so the term sinners has no reference to the pollution, indwelling, or actual commission of sin, or the transmission of a corrupt nature; otherwise the contrast would be destroyed , and, without any notification, a new idea would be introduced entirely at variance with the whole of the previous discussion from the beginning of the Epistle, and of that in the immediate connection of this verse with its preceding context. It is then in the guilt of Adam’s sin that the Apostle here asserts we partake; and therefore that sin must be truly our sin, otherwise its guilt could not attach to us.

But although men are here expressly declared to be sinners by the disobedience of Adam, just as they are righteous by the obedience of Christ, this is rejected by multitudes, and by every man in his natural state, to whom the things of God are foolishness. If such an one attends to it at all, it must undergo certain modifications, which, changing its aspect, makes it altogether void. On the other hand, that men are righteous in the way here declared, though not so repulsive to the natural prepossessions of the human mind , meets also with much opposition. But why should there be such reluctance to receive these truths, which by every means possible are attempted to be avoided? To him that submits to them nothing can be more consolatory. He is compelled to acknowledge that he sinned in Adam, and fell under condemnation; but at the same time he is called to rejoice in the heart-cheering declaration, that the righteousness of Christ is his righteousness, because he has been ‘created in Christ Jesus,’ Eph 2:10, with whom he is one, Ga 3:28; and that, being thus righteous in Him, he shall reign with Him in life.

While, however, it is solely of the implication of Adam’s sin, and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, that the Apostle is treating, showing that by our oneness with these our respective covenant-heads the sin of the first and the righteousness of the last Adam are really ours, it is proper to remark that, though it is not touched upon in the verse before us, there is a further beautiful analogy between the effect of our union with the first man, who is of the earth earthy, and of our union with the second man, who is the Lord from heaven. We not only partake of the guilt of the personal sin of Adam, and consequently of condemnation, but also of a corrupt nature transmitted from him. In the same way we are partakers not only of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and consequently of justifications but also of sanctification, by a new nature derived from Him.

Mr. Stuart seems to understand that, according to the doctrine of imputation, sins are accounted to Adam’s race that are not their sins, or, in other words, that God accounts a thing to be fact which is not fact; just as he had before affirmed that faith is imputed as righteousness. But Adam’s sin is imputed to his posterity because it is their sin in reality, though we may not be able to see the way in which it is so. Indeed, we should not pretend to explain this? because it is to be believed on the foundation of the Divine testimony, and not on human speculation, or on our ability to account for it. 1. If God testifies that Adam’s first sin is also that of all his posterity, is He not to be credited? If there be no such Divine testimony, we do not plead for the doctrine. It is on the Divine testimony the doctrine must rest. 2. Mr. Stuart speaks of imputation in its strict sense, or in a rigid sense. This too much resembles an artifice designed to deceive the simple into the belief that he admits the doctrine , if not substantially, at least in some sense. This, however, is not the fact. He cannot admit imputation in any sense. He does not admit Adam’s sin to be our sin in the lowest degree. 3. If, in reality, he does admit imputation in the lowest degree, then it is not impossible in the highest. If it is essentially unjust, it cannot exist in the lowest degree. Why then does he speak in this uncandid manner? Does this language betoken a man writing under the full conviction that he is contending for the truth of God? He professes to determine this question by an appeal to the natural sentiments of men.

But if this tribunal is sufficient to decide this point, is it not equally of with respect to innumerable others, in which deists and heretics have made a like appeal? On this ground, may not a man say, I cannot admit the eternity of future punishment, for it is contrary to my natural sentiments; I cannot admit that a good Being is the Creator of the world, for He would not have permitted evil to enter it, had He been able to keep it out? He says, p. 233, ‘We never did, and never can, feel guilty of another’s act, which was done without any knowledge or concurrence of our own.’ But if God has testified that there is a sense in which that act is our own, shall we not be able to admit and feel it?

It altogether depends on the Divine testimony.

Now, such is the testimony of the verse before us in its obvious sense.

How this is, or in what sense this is the case, we may not be able to comprehend. This is no part of our business; this is no part of the Divine testimony. We are to believe God on His word, not from our capacity to understand the manner in which the thing testified is true. Mr. Stuart himself asserts, p. 235, that the sufferings of infants may conduce to their eternal good, yet he says, ‘in what way I pretend not to determine.’ And are we to determine in what way Adam’s sin is ours, before we admit the fact on the Divine testimony? He says, p. 233, ‘We may just as well say that we can appropriate to ourselves and make our own the righteousness of another, as his unrighteousness.’ Here he denies the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. If the Divine testimony assures us that by a Divine constitution we are made one with Christ, is not His righteousness ours? If it be declared that God ‘hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,’ shall we not believe it? In opposition to all such infidel reasonings, it is becoming in the believer to say, I fully acknowledge, and I humbly confess, on the testimony of my God, that I am guilty of Adam’s sin; but by the same testimony, and by the same Divine constitution, I believe that I am a partaker of God’s righteousness — the righteousness of my God and Savior Jesus Christ — of the free gift of that righteousness, which not only removes the guilt and all the fatal consequences of that first sin, but of the many offenses which I have myself committed. Regarding the difficulties that in both these respects present themselves, I hear my Savior say, ‘What is that to thee? follow thou Me.’ In the meantime, it is sufficient for me to know that the Judge of all the earth will do right. What I know not now, I shall know hereafter.

The summary argument commonly used against the imputation of Adam’s sin, namely, that it is ‘contrary to reason,’ proceeds on a mere assumption — an assumption as unwarrantable as that of the Socinian, who denies the Trinity in unity because it is above his comprehension. Most persons are in the habit of considering many things which they cannot fathom, and which they cannot relish, as being contrary to reason. But this is not just.

A thing may be very disagreeable, and far beyond the ken of human penetration, which is not contrary to reason. We are not entitled to pronounce anything contrary to reason which does not imply a contradiction. A contradiction cannot be true, but all other things may be true, and, on sufficient evidence, ought to be received as true. That Adam’s sin may, in a certain view, be our sin, and that Christ’s righteousness may, in a certain view, be our righteousness, no man is entitled to deny on the ground of self-evident truth. Whether it is true or not must depend on evidence. Now the testimony of God in the Scriptures leaves no doubt on the subject. Adam’s sin is our sin. Christ’s righteousness is the righteousness of all His people.

If it be contrary to reason to have the sin of Adam counted as our own, it is still worse to suppose that we suffer, as is generally admitted, for a sin which is not ours. If there is injustice in the one, there is much more injustice in the other. This surely is the language of reason, and, as such, has been insisted on by orthodox writers both of our own and of other countries. Of this I shall give the following examples: — ’If that sin of Adam,’ says Brown of Wamphray, in his Life of Justification Opened, p. 179, ‘If that sin of Adam be imputed in its curse and punishment, the sin itself must be imputed as to its guilt; else we must say that God curseth and punisheth the posterity that is no ways guilty, which to do suiteth not the justice of God, the righteous Governor of the world.’ ‘Certainly,’ says B. Pictet, in his Christian Theology, vol. 1: p. 368, ‘if the sin of Adam had not been imputed to his descendants, we could not give a reason why God has permitted that the corruption which was in Adam, the consequence of his first sin, should have passed to his posterity. That this reasoning may appear just, we must consider that the corruption which we bring from the womb of our mothers is a very great evil, for it is the source of all sins. To permit, then, that this corruption should pass from fathers to their children, is to inflict a punishment. But how is it that God should punish men, if they had not sinned, and if they were not guilty? Now it is certain that, when this corruption communicates itself from fathers to children, the children themselves have not sinned. It must then be the fact that the sin of Adam is imputed to them, and that God considers them as having part in the sin of their first father.’ ‘It cannot be explained, consistent with Divine justice,’ says Witsius in his Economy, vol. 1: p. 153, ‘how, without a crime, death should have passed upon Adam’s posterity. Prosper reasoned solidly and elegantly as follows: — “Unless, perhaps, it can be said that the punishment, and not the guilt, passed on the posterity of Adam; but to say this is in every respect false, for it is too impious to judge so of the justice of God, as if He would, contrary to His own law, condemn the innocent with the guilty.

The guilt, therefore, is evident where the punishment is so; and a partaking in punishment shows a partaking in guilt, — that human misery is not the appointment of the Creator, but the retribution of the Judge.”’If, therefore,’ continues Witsius, ‘through Adam all are obnoxious to punishment, all, too, must have sinned in Adam.’

A considerable part of the resistance to the imputation of Adam’s sin is owing to the ground on which the evidence of the fact is often rested. It is not simply placed on the authority of the testimony of God, but is attempted to be justified by human procedure. The difficulty that some persons feel on this subject, arises from the supposition that though thesin of the first man is charged upon his posterity, yet it is not theirs. But the Scriptures hold it forth as ours in as true a sense as it was Adam’s. We may be asked to explain how it can be ours, and here we may find ourselves at a loss for an answer. But we ought to consider that we are not obliged to give an answer on this point either to ourselves or others. We are to receive it on theDivine testimony, assured that what God declares must be true, however unable we may be to comprehend it. We ought not to perplex ourselves by endeavoring to ascertain the grounds of the Divine testimony on this subject. Our duty is to understand the import of what is testified, and to receive it on that authority — not to inquire into the justice of the constitution from which our guilt results. This is not revealed, and it is utterly beyond our province and beyond our depth. Did Abraham understand why he was commanded to offer up his son? No.

But he was strong in faith, and his faith in obeying in that instance is held forth in Scripture for our imitation. Like Abraham, let us give glory to God, by believing implicitly what we have no means of knowing to be true, but simply on the testimony of God.

The defenders of scriptural truth take wrong ground when they rest it on anything but the testimony of Scripture. It is highly dishonorable to God to refuse to submit to His decisions till we can demonstrate their justice.

Those who have endeavored to vindicate the Divine justice in accounting Adam’s sin to be ours, and to reconcile the mind of man to that procedure, have not only labored in vain, but actually injured the cause they meant to uphold. The connection according to which we suffer with our first father, is not such as is to be vindicated or illustrated by human transactions. The union of Adam and his posterity is a Divine constitution. The grounds of this constitution are not to be found in any of the justifiable transactions of men; and all attempts to make us submit by convincing us of its propriety, from what we are able to understand upon a comparison with the affairs of men, are only calculated to impose on credulity, and to produce unbelief. We receive it because God says it, not because we see it to be just. We know it to be just because it is part of the ways of the just God. But how it is just we may not be able to see. We receive it like little children who believe the testimony of their father, though they do not understand the grounds or reasons of the thing testified.

Nothing is more common than to vindicate the equity of our implication in the ruin of Adam’s fall, by alleging that had he stood, we should have been partakers in all his blessings. Had he stood, it is said, you would have reaped the benefit of his standing; is it not therefore just that you should also suffer the loss of his failure? Here the matter is rested, not on God’s testimony, but on our sense of justice in the affairs of men. To this it will be replied, that if the transaction is not entered into with our consent, there is no apparent equity in our being punished with the loss. Adam’s sin, then, we acknowledge to be ours, not because a similar thing would be just among men, but because God, the just God, testifies that it is so; and we know that the righteous God will do righteously. To submit in this way is rational; to submit on the ground of understanding the justice of the thing, is to pretend to understand what is incomprehensible, and to rest faith on a fallacy, namely, that the ground of the imputation of Adam’s sin is of the same nature with human transactions. The method of vindicating Divine truth here censured, has also the most unhappy tendency in encouraging Christians to think that they must always be able to give a reason for their believing God’s testimony, from their ability to comprehend the thing testified. It accustoms them to think that they should believe God, not simply on His testimony, but on seeing with their own eyes that the thing is true independently of His testimony. On the contrary, the Christian ought to be accustomed to submit to God’s testimony without question, and without reluctance, even in things the farthest beyond the reach of the human mind. ‘Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth,’ ought to be the motto of every Christian. Yet how few follow out to their full extent the plain statements of the word of God on these subjects; and while many utterly deny and abhor every representation of the imputation of sin and righteousness, others hide its genuine features by an attempt to enable men to understand the reasons of it, and to justify the Divine procedure. This is altogether improper. The ways of God are too deep for our feeble minds to fathom them, and it is impious as well as arrogant to make the attempt. Against nothing ought Christians to be more constantly and earnestly guarded, than the opinion that they ought to be able to comprehend and justify what they believe on the authority of God.

The true ground on which to vindicate it is the explicit testimony of God in the Scripture. This is so clear, that no man can set it aside, we need not say, without wresting the Scriptures, but, we may assert, without being conscious of violence of interpretation. Our defense of this doctrine, then, should ever be, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ This method of defense, which we are taught in this same Epistle , Ro 9:20, is not merely the only scriptural one, but it is the one that will have the greatest success. As long as a reason is alleged by the wisdom of man in support of the doctrine, so long, from the same source, an argument will be produced on the other side. But when the word of God is appealed to, and upon it all the stress of evidence rested, the Christian must submit. The writer knows from personal experience the effect of this method of teaching this doctrine. ‘You cannot comprehend,’ says Luther, ‘how a just God can condemn those who are born in sin, and cannot help themselves, but must, by a necessity of their natural constitution, continue in sin, and remain children of wrath. The answer is, God is incomprehensible throughout; and therefore His justice, as well as His other attributes, must be incomprehensible. It is on this very ground that St. Paul exclaims, “O the depth of the riches and the knowledge of God ! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” Now His judgments would not be past finding out, if we could always perceive them to be Just.

The imputation and consequences of Adam’s sin are well expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith, in which it is said, ‘These (our first parents) being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupt nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary generation.’ And again, ‘The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him and fell with him in the first transgression.... The sinfulness of that estate where into man fell consistent in the guilt of Adam’s first sin.’

Romans 5:20

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

The Apostle had now arrived at the conclusion of the discussion, commencing at Ro 1:17, in the course of which, after having briefly announced the remedy which God had provided for the salvation of man, he had proceeded to show the need there is for the application of this remedy by proving the sinful state of all, both Jews and Gentiles, whatever had been their various means of instruction . He had next fully exhibited that remedy for their deliverance, and also the manner in which it is applied. In the beginning of this fifth chapter he had unfolded the blessed effects that follow from its reception, in the experience of all believers, and had extolled the love of God in its appointment. Having next proved, from the universality of the reign of death, that the law and sin existed from the beginning, and so before the public promulgation of the law at Mount Sinai, he had taken occasion to point out the entrance both of sin and righteousness , and of the imputation first of the one and next of the other. And as it might now be asked, ‘Wherefore, then, serveth the law?’ Ga 3:19, if man’s personal obedience to it enters in no respect into his justification, it therefore formed a proper conclusion to the whole to recur, as in the verse before us to that law at which, in passing, Paul had glanced in Ga 3:13, and to show that it had been introduced in order that on the one hand the abounding of sin might be made manifest, and on the other the super abounding of grace, on both of which he had been insisting in proof of the reality and fatal effects of the former, and the necessity, the glory, and the blessedness of the latter. The law entered, ‘privily entered,’ says Dr. Macknight, referring to the law of nature, which, he says, privily entered after the fall of our first parents. But no new law entered after the fall. What is called the law of nature, is only the remains of the law written in creation on the heart of man. The law here is evidently the law of Moses, and the word in the original signifies that the law entered in addition to the law which Adam transgressed, and to the law written in the heart. This is the effect of para> in this place. That the offense might abound. — The word translated offense, here and in several of the verses above, literally signifies ‘fall,’ and is applied in these verses to the first sin of Adam. In Ro 5:16, however, in the plural, it refers to sins in general, and in some other places is rendered trespasses. In that before us it may refer particularly, as in those preceding, to the first sin, which, as the root and cause of all other sins, has abounded in its baneful effects, and, like a noxious plant, shot up and spread in all directions; so that, as God had testified before the flood, ‘the wickedness of man is great on the earth,’ Ge 6:5. This was fully discovered by the entrance of the law. The law then entered, not that sinners might be justified by it, for no law could give life to fallen man, Ga 3:21. Sinners, in order to be saved, must be redeemed from the curse of the law, and created again in Christ Jesus. But it entered that the offense might abound, and that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God, Ro 3:19; that we might learn that the righteous God loveth righteousness, that His law is exceeding broad, that it is spiritual, extending to all the imaginations of the thoughts, that He will not abate one jot or tittle of this perfect standard, which is a transcript of His character. The law is a perfect standard, by which men are taught to measure themselves, that they may see their guilt and condemnation, and be led to look to Him who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Some translate this clause, which is rendered, that the offense might abound, ‘so as the offense eventually abounds.’ This is not the Apostle’s meaning. They say that the intention of the law was not to make sin abound, but to restrain sin, and make fewer sins. If this was the intention of giving the law, the Lawgiver has been disappointed, for sins have been multiplied a thousand fold by the entrance of the law. This their view of the matter admits; for they acknowledge that this was the event, though not the intention. But if this was the event, it must also have been the intention of the Lawgiver, though not of the law. God cannot be disappointed of His intentions. But it is self-evidently clear that the intention of the promulgation of the law of Moses could not be to lessen the number of sins, when almost the whole ceremonial part of it makes things to be sin which were not sin before the giving of the law, and which are not sinful in their own nature. Besides, sin is greatly increased as to the guilt of the breach of the moral law, by the promulgation of the law of Moses. While the law of God is holy, and just, and good, it was evidently God’s intention, in the giving of it, that offenses might abound. In this way the wickedness of the human heart was manifested. It showed men that they were sinners. Had not the law been repeated in its extent and purity at Sinai, such was the darkness in men’s minds, that they would not have thought themselves transgressors of its precepts, or obnoxious to its curse; and not seeing themselves sinners, they would not have seen the necessity of a surety. The ‘commandment is a lamp, and the law is light,’ Pr 6:23. It discovers the real state of human nature, and manifests not only the evil and aggravation, but also the vast accumulation and extent, of the wickedness of man. The entrance, then, of the law between the author of condemnation and the author of justification, in order that sin might abound, was of the highest importance. ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’ The law did not put sin into the heart, but it was an instrument to display the depravity already existing in the heart. But vain man will be wise, and he will compel the word of God to submit to his own views It may be justly said that such displays of the deep things of God as are made in His word, are intended to manifest the blindness of the human mind, and the deep depravity of human nature. Where sin abounded grace did much more abound. — This was another effect of the entrance of the law, that as, by the clear light it imparts, sin would abound in all its extent and enormity, so grace might be exhibited as abounding above sin. The grace of God, dispensed from His throne, not only pardons the most numerous and most heinous sins, but also confers eternal life upon him who has sinned. It restores him to communion with God, which by transgression be had forfeited, re-establishing it not only in a far higher degree, but in a manner so permanent as never again to be interrupted. ‘When sin,’ says Calvin, ‘had held men plunged under its power, grace came to their relief. For Paul teaches us that the more sin is known, the grandeur and magnificence of grace is the more evident; and is poured out in so copious a manner as not only to overcome, but even to overwhelm the overflowing deluge of iniquity.’

Romans 5:21

That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

As sin hath reigned unto death. — Death here, and throughout this chapter, as well as in many other places, signifies not temporal death merely, but the whole punishment of sin, of which temporal death is perhaps the smallest part. Eternal misery is included in it, but the word ‘death’ does not literally denote eternal misery. This is called the ‘second death,’ and this expression gives us the key to understand the full extent of the meaning of the word. The punishment of hell is the second death, according to Scripture explanation, Re 20:14; 21:8, and therefore it is no fancy to understand future eternal punishment as included in the term. But though the expression includes this, it is not proved from the literal meaning of the word death. As death is the greatest of all temporal evils, it was not only a part of the punishment of the first sin, but it was the symbol of the second death. It is another proof that death includes the whole punishment of sin, that, in Ro 6:23, death is called the wages of sin. If death be the wages of sin, then death must include everything that is the wages or punishment of sin. But the Scriptures point out future misery, as well as temporal death, as the wages of sin. This proof is incontrovertible. The Scriptures show that the punishment of sin is eternal misery; if so, death includes eternal misery.

While this lays no stress on the necessary literal meaning of the word death, it comes to the same conclusion. Another proof that death here signifies the whole punishment of sin, and consequently that it includes eternal misery, is, that the gift of God is said to be ‘eternal life.’ Now life literally is as limited as death. Yet life here signifies not merely existence in a state of consciousness, but of happiness. Life, indeed, even without the word eternal, is in Scripture taken to signify all the happiness of the future state of the blessed. What objection, then, can there be to a like extended signification of the term death? That it includes spiritual death is beyond a question, as the Scriptures expressly use this term in this sense, Eph 2:1; Col 2:13. That they are all included in the threatening against the eating of the forbidden fruit, is most certain. It is no objection that it was not explained to Adam in this sense. If any part of Scripture explains it in this sense, it is sufficient. It may be said that it would be unjust to punish Adam in any extent that he did not understand as included in the threatening. He understood by it destruction, or at least we have no ground to say that he did not. Returning to the dust is not the explanation of the threatening, it being God’s appointment in connection with the promise of Christ. But it is perfectly sufficient that he knew the law that was given him. To make him guilty, there was no necessity for any threatening. Is not a child guilty when he breaks the command of a father, even though the command be unaccompanied with threatening?

With regard to Christ’s suffering for us, it was not necessary that He should suffer eternally. It answers all the ends of justice if He has suffered a perfect equivalent. That He has done so, we have the clear testimony of the Scriptures, and we have no need to show how He has done so by metaphysical explanations and calculations of our own. Even so might grace reign through righteousness. — Mr. Stuart having subverted, by his interpretations and reasonings, every idea of the imputation of sin, as he had formerly altogether set aside the imputation of righteousness, is only consistent in misrepresenting the meaning of this passage. As he has mistaken the import of the expression righteousness at the commencement of this discussion, so he also misunderstands it here.

His explanation is, that ‘grace might reign or have an influence widely extended, in the bestowment of justification or pardoning mercy.’ The passage informs us that grace reigns unto eternal life, which does indeed include the bestowment of justification. But it informs us of something more, and that of the last importance, which Mr. Stuart’s mistaking righteousness for justification leads him entirely to omit. Grace reigns\par THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS, even the righteousness of God, which fulfills His law, and satisfies His justice, and displays His holiness; whereas, did grace bestow a justification in such a way as Mr. Stuart describes, it would do so at the expense of law and justice, and dishonor the whole Divine administration. Unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. — This is that life of which Jesus Christ, who is risen from the dead, is the author, as the death here Spoken of is that which He came to destroy. The source of our natural life is Adam, but he is dead, and in his communion we all die. But a new source of life is provided in the second Adam, that He may deliver from death all that are in His communion. ‘The first Adam was made a living soul,’ that he might communicate natural life to those who had not received it. ‘The last Adam was made a quickening spirit,’ that He might impart spiritual life to those who had lost it. The first communicated an earthly and perishable life, the second a life that is celestial and immortal.

Jesus Christ is that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; and the Father hath given Him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to as many as He hath given Him. ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life.’ The termination, then, of the reign of death over those whom He represents, and the establishment of the reign of grace through the everlasting righteousness which He has brought in, are all by Jesus Christ.

He hath abolished death. By Him came grace and truth; He brought life and immortality to light. He ‘is the true God, and eternal life.’ And ‘to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be the Lord both of the dead and the living.’ The similarity of the Apostle’s commencement in unfolding the doctrine of justification, and of his conclusion, is very striking. He begins, Ro 1:17, by declaring that the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, because therein is the righteousness of God revealed; and he here ends by affirming that grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

In this 21st verse (Ro 5:21) the doctrine of the whole preceding context, of the salvation of believers, is summed up in a manner most beautiful and striking. Having exhibited in a strong light the righteousness of God, Ro 3:21-22, the Apostle returns to it in this chapter; and, having contrasted Christ and Adam, he brings out his conclusion in this verse with a contrast of the reign of sin and grace. Sin had an absolute sway over all the descendants of Adam. There was nothing good among them, or in any of them. Sin existed and predominated in every human soul. Therefore it is said to reign. The absolute and universal influence of sin is figured by the empire of a monarch exercising authority in uncontrolled sovereignty.

Grace also reigns. There was nothing in men to merit salvation, or to recommend them in any measure to God. Grace therefore reigns in their salvation, which is wholly and entirely of free favor. Sin is said to reign unto, or in, death. This shows that death was, in every human being, the effect of his sin. The way in which death manifested its universal reign over the human race, was in causing their death. This most fully proves that infants are sinners. If sin ruled in causing death to its subjects, then all who died are the subjects of sin. Death to the human race is in every instance the effect of the dominion of sin. Sin reigns unto death. — But if sin has reigned, grace reigns. If the former has reigned in death, the latter reigns in life; yea, it reigns unto eternal life. How, then, does it reign unto life.

Is it by a gratuitous pardon? Doubtless it is. But it is not by forgiving the sinner in an arbitrary way, with respect to the punishment due to sin.

Forgiveness is indeed entirely gratuitous; but if it cost believers nothing, it has cost much to their Surety. Grace reigns through righteousness. — How beautifully is thus fulfilled the prophetic declaration of Ps 85:10-13. Grace did not, could not, deliver the lawful captives without paying the ransom. It did not trample on justice, or evade its demands. It reigns by providing a Savior to suffer in the room of the guilty. By the death of Jesus Christ, full compensation was made to the law and justice of God.

The Apostle, in the end of this chapter, brings his argument to a close.

Every individual of the human race is proved to be guilty before God and on the ground of his own righteousness no man can be saved. The state of the Gentile world is exhibited in the most degrading view, while history and experience fully concur in the condemnation. Man is represented as vile, as degraded below the condition of the brutes; and the facts on which the charge is grounded were so notorious that they could not be denied.

Nor could the most uncultivated Pagans offer any apology for their conduct. Their sins were against nature, and their ignorance of God was in spite of the revelation of His character in the works of creation. They are condemned by the standard they themselves recognize, and their own mutual recriminations and defenses prove that they were fully aware of sin and responsibility.

But are not the Jews excepted from this black catalogue of crimes Are they not righteous through that holy, Just, and good law which they received from the God of Israel? By no means. By the testimony of that revelation which they received, all men are guilty, and this testimony directly implies those to whom the revelation was given. With this experience also coincides. The Apostle charges them as actually doing the same things which they condemned in the heathens. Both, then, are guilty; and, from their superior light, the Jews must be the most guilty.

Nor was it ever in contemplation of the law of Moses to give the Jews a righteousness by their own obedience. The law was designed rather to manifest their guilt. By the law there was to no individual a righteousness unto life; by the law was the ‘knowledge of sin.’ All men, then, without exception, were shut up unto condemnation.

But this law veiled the truth which the Apostle now unfolds and exhibits in the strongest light. He proclaims a righteousness so perfect, as to answer all the demands of law, both as to penalty and obedience — a righteousness so free, as to extend to the very chief of sinners. This righteousness is in Jesus Christ. He has borne the curse of the law, and perfectly obeyed all its precepts. All His obedience becomes ours by believing the testimony of the Father concerning His Son, and trusting in Him. The most guilty child of Adam, whether he be Jew or Gentile, becomes perfectly righteous the moment he believes in the work of Christ.

This glorious plan of salvation vindicates the law, exalts the character of God, and reconciles mercy with justice. In the Gospel grace appears; in the Gospel grace reigns; but it reigns not on the ruins of law and justice, but in the more glorious establishment of both; it reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. In the salvation of men by the Son of God, the law is not made void. It is magnified and made honorable.

In this salvation sin is not represented as harmless. It is here seen in a more awful light than in the future punishment of the wicked. The Gospel is the only manifestation of God in the full glory of His character as the just God, yet the Savior — punishing sin to the utmost extent of its demerit, at the same time that His mercy reaches to the most guilty of the children of men.

The doctrine contained in this chapter is so important, and often so ill understood, that it appears proper to subjoin the following valuable remarks from the Presbyterian Magazine, contained in the conclusion of the review 33. which has again and again been quoted above. They are introduced by observing that Mr. Stuart’s denial of a federal theology bears a most impressive witness respecting the evil of surrendering any part of the truth of Scriptures. ‘The rejection of Adam’s covenant headship has led Mr. Stuart to an abandonment of the doctrine of Christ’s representative character. The indissoluble connection between these was, indeed, long ago remarked, and the progress of error, as exemplified in this author, verifies with surprising accuracy the anticipation of the doctors of the Theological Faculty of Leyden, in a testimony on the subject of original sin, borne by them on the 15th November 1645. “We have learned,” say they, “with great pain, that the doctrine which has been, by common consent, received as scriptural, respecting the imputation of Adam’s sin, is now disturbed; although, when it is denied, the original corruption of human nature cannot be just, and a transition is easy to a denial of the imputation of the second Adam’s righteousness .” ‘We need not enter into any lengthened refutation of the perilous and unsupported assertion that the federal “form of theology” is not essential “to the Christian doctrine of redemption.” The marvel is, how any man who had studied the Epistle to the Hebrews could evade the force of such declarations as that Christ is “the Mediator of the new covenant,” or escape the conviction that He represented the elect as their head in a federal arrangement. To such a relationship between Him and His people, likewise, the whole legal dispensation pointed. The impressive ceremony of the scape-goat represented, by the plainest symbols, a transfer — an imputation of guilt; and prophecy intimated it in the unambiguous announcement, that “the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” The Scripture is so pervaded by federal language and allusions that he who would remove from it the doctrine of Christ’s covenant headship, would need either to write it anew, or to expound it on some unheard-of principle. ‘But is a covenant relation necessary “to the Christian doctrine of depravity?” So at least it appears to us; and the reader who will consult the dissertation of Rivetus, from which the above opinion of the divines of Leyden has been extracted, will find that it has appeared so to almost all the fathers of the Reformation, and to a host of eminent reformed divines, a mere catalogue of whose names would occupy several of our pages. But we are very far from resting this sentiment on human authority; we appeal to the law and to the testimony of God. ‘First, then, that God treated with Adam not merely by way of commandment, but by way of covenant, we regard as manifest from the train of events as recorded in the commencement of Genesis. There were two contracting parties. There was something to be done by the one, which on the part of the other was to meet with a certain recompense; for the threatening of death , in case of eating the forbidden fruit, bears with it the counterpart assurance that, if the creature continued in obedience, his state of happiness would be indefinitely prolonged; the existence of a promise is implied in the words of the Apostle ( Ga 3:12), “the man that doeth them shall live in them,” and similar expressions elsewhere; and the very thought that a menace was uttered, unmingled with any more cheering intimation, accuses the God of all grace of being more ready to punish than to crown. There was, in fine, on the part of Adam, an acceptance of the offered terms; for to suppose it otherwise is to embrace the contradiction that a creature could be holy, and yet his will at war with his Creator’s. It is of no consequence to object that the covenant is not fully developed; for the early part of the Mosaic narrative is remarkable for its rapidity; and neither is the covenant of grace evolved into any amplitude of detail in the record of its first announcement in paradise. ‘Secondly, that Adam in the covenant was the head of all his offspring, appears from a variety of considerations. For example, the train of events as recorded in Genesis, to which we may here renew our reference, intimates, not obscurely, that Adam was dealt with in all things as the representative of humanity. The blessing of increase was not designed for him alone; nor the donation of empire over the creatures; nor the institution of the sabbatic rest; nor the curse that was launched forth against the ground; nor the sentence which consigned him over to the grave. It is in vain to object that not one word is said of posterity in the recital of these promises, and injunctions, and threatenings, and maledictions; for experience proves their universal application, and proves it antecedently to all individual guilt, for the infant is affected by that curse wherewith the earth is stricken. And if any one is included in the sentence, he must first have been comprehended in the threatening; which lands us in the doctrine of the federal headship of Adam. Again, why, in 1Co 15, is Christ called the second man — the second Adam? The only assignable reason in His covenant headship; for never could His resurrection have been viewed, not only as demonstrative of the possibility of the reviviscence of others, but as betokening and implying the final disruption, by all believers, of the bands of death, except on some principle, amounting to the admission of the fundamental truth that He was their great federal representative. ‘From this view, which rests on such clear grounds, of the constituted connection between our first progenitor and his offspring, the imputation of his guilt to them directly follows. If they were one with him in receiving the law , in possessing ability to observe it, and in coming under an obligation to obedience, they were one with him also in his breach of the condition of the covenant. He broke the first link of the golden chain which primarily united all mankind to their Maker , and the dependent parts of it necessarily partook of the separation. But imputation might be established by independent processes of reasoning; and thus, from two different directions, a flood of light might be poured upon the doctrines, if we had space to pursue the inquiry. ‘1. We might refer, for a strong presumptive proof, to the analogy and correspondence between the economy of condemnation and the economy of redemption — the ministration of death and the ministration of life. In the latter we find an imputed righteousness and an inherent holiness, the one constituting the matter of the believer’s justification, and the other preparing him for glory; and so, in the former, we might expect to find an imputed guilt and an inherent sinfulness, the one being the antecedent ground of the sentence of death , and the other carrying the criminal downwards in an augmented fitness for the society of the lost. Thus imputed guilt occupies, in the one part of the scheme, a place co-ordinate to that which imputed righteousness holds in the other; inborn depravity corresponds to the implanted principles of sanctification, and an exact harmony is maintained between the Divine dispensations. ‘2. We might prosecute, in the next place, an argument, at which we have already hinted, from the sufferings and mortality of sucklings.

Not only do “the cries of infants, who are only eloquent to grief, but dumb to all things else, discover the miseries that attend them,” and “the tears which are born with their eyes, signify they are come into a state of sorrow,” but a very large proportion of the human race is swept away into the grave at the very dawn of their being. Like Jonah’s gourd, they spring up and wither in a night. Now, on Mr.

Stuart’s principle, that nothing but actual transgression deserves the name, we have here a punishment without a crime — the wages apart from the deed which earns them. But this cannot be under the government of Him who is righteous in all His ways. Assuredly infants would not die if they were not guilty — a sinless soul would not be lodged in a mortal habitation. It is no valid objection to this, that Christ’s body was mortal; for “He was made sin for us.” Death, then, follows sin like its shadow; and, like the shadow, demonstrates the real presence of the substance. It follows that infants are sinners; and since actual offense is impossible, they are sinners in the ancient transgression of their first father. ‘3. We might, in fine, argue backwards from the fact, acknowledged even by Mr. Stuart, that we “are born destitute of holiness.” This original destitution, in virtue of which we are “by nature children of wrath,” must proceed from God, either as a Creator, or as the Sovereign Lord, or as a Judge. But it does not come from Him as Creator simply, for in this respect we hold the same relation to Him as Adam did, who was formed in righteousness and true holiness; nor as Lord over all, for it were blasphemy to imagine that He would employ His supreme dominion in promoting the ruin of a rational creature. It is resolved, therefore, into a judicial infliction — an infliction on account of some sin committed before we had a being; and as this infliction has passed upon every man since our first progenitor, to his grand offense, which the Apostle throughout this passage represents as so pregnant with evil, it must of consequence be referred. Hence, as punishment infers guilt, the stain of his iniquity is ours — his guilt is ours by imputation. ‘Mr. Stuart admits that, “in consequence of Adam’s fall, and without any act or concurrence of their own,” all his posterity are subject to “sufferings in the present state; “that their nature is brought under a “moral degradation,” — “ an imperfect condition, in which it is certain that the sensual passions will get the victory and lead them to sin, and certain that they will never have any holiness without being born again,” — and in which “the second death will certainly come upon them, without the interposition of mercy through Christ.” This is stated, doubtless, in milder phrases than the other, — in the language of a man giving forth an opinion which he receives, not denouncing one which he rejects; but it possesses all the substantial features of the other scheme, and involves all its principles, with the exception of that principle, the principle of imputation, which, so far as man’s feeble intellect can penetrate, supplies the only key to the whole, and vindicates the Creator from the charge of cruelty. The question is simply, — shall we regard the deprivation of original righteousness as judicially connected with Adam’s first transgression, or as linked to it by some bond of arbitrary and mysterious severity? The reader expects, no doubt, to find all “the elements” of Mr. Stuart’s “moral nature spontaneously in array” against the latter of these suppositions. But no; it is his own opinion, — an opinion of which the native hideousness can only be veiled by the novel expedient of transforming into a peculiar species of discipline all the evils which originate in the fall. ‘But it is urged, again, that such an imputation of guilt is at variance with the general principles of the Divine administration, of which it is a fundamental law that “the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father,” Eze 18:20. We had always understood that the fundamental laws of God’s moral government were embodied in the Decalogue. And there we read ( Ex 20:5) that the Lord is a “jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.” But is there indeed an inconsistency in the word of inspiration? Are contradictory principles announced as alike fundamental? No, truly. God’s general right to punish the offspring for their parent’s guilt was declared from Sinai; and the course of Providence, in such cases as that of Dathan and Abiram, as well as in the indiscriminate destruction wrought by the flood, which spared not a single infant because of its imagined innocency, has impressively repeated the intimation.

Ezekiel was only commissioned to declare, in a special instance, a forbearing to insist on this right. Besides, were the Prophet’s message taken as the promulgation of a fundamental statute, it would be impossible to escape from the imputation of contravening it, even although we were to prune and pare down our theological system till it was reduced to the most meager Pelagianism. By having the evil example of our parents set before us — to take no higher ground — we are, in consequence of Adam’s transgression, placed in less favorable circumstances than those in which be was situated; and in this way we bear the iniquity of our father. On Mr. Stuart’s system, this becomes more obvious still; so that, with his view of the announcement of Ezekiel, his own scheme is at irreconcilable variance.

The view of that announcement, which we have presented above removes this difficulty from his scheme; but it also removes it from ours. ‘But there is one consequence of Mr. Stuart’s views of original sin, which, at the risk of being blamed for prolixity, we cannot omit to notice. This opinion, as already stated, is, that no one can be sentenced to the extreme punishment of sin, except for actual transgression — that we are not born in a state of condemnation — that, in the highest and most awful sense of the words, we are not “by nature the children of wrath.” Now, from this it irresistibly follows that infants, not having sinned actually, and so (according to him) not being under the curse, do not need salvation. The whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. Mr. Stuart evidently feels this difficulty, and labors to escape from it. He urges that, since infants are born destitute of holiness, and since “without holiness no man shall see the Lord,” Christ has much to do for them by His Spirit, in removing the imperfection of their nature, and in imparting to them a positive taste for the sacred exercises and joys of heaven. On this ground, and to this extent, he thinks that the Lord Jesus may properly enough be called their Savior. But this falls far short of the scriptural representations of the great salvation of the Gospel. In that salvation, deliverance from wrath is a principal element. But, according to Mr. Stuart’s scheme, this has no place in the case of infants. They are not saved from wrath; they are not saved from sin; no positive evil is removed from them; they are only made partakers of certain good dispositions to which they were primarily strangers. Their first state is a pure negative; Christ bestows some positive gifts upon them, and so becomes their Savior. In short, He sanctifies them by His Spirit. But He does not procure their justification; they obtain it for themselves; although not holy, they are harmless and undefiled. And hence ipso facto they are accepted as righteous. They are directly, and without Emmanuel’s intervention, embraced in the provisions of that eternal law which annexes immortality to innocence; of redemption, therefore, properly so called, they have no necessity. This system involves some strange anomalies — enough to destroy the authority of any scheme of doctrine. Christ is in it called a Savior; but the first step in the mighty process is taken, and one important part of it is fully accomplished, not in consequence of His work, but because of the very condition of nature in those whom He came to save. These objects of His love are promoted and perfected, but not redeemed; and although in a certain sense He saved them, their lips must be sealed, when, among the ranks of the glorified, there reverberates the everlasting song, — “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood.” ‘In dismissing the subject of original sin, we cannot permit it to escape without a passing remark, — Mr. Stuart’s repeated affirmation that the received doctrine on that topic originated with Augustine. As he gives no proof of this, we shall be excused for meeting his authority with that (certainly not inferior) of Gerard John Vossius, from whose history of Pelagianism we extract the following thesis, which he supports by appropriate quotations from the fathers. “The Church universal has always thus judged, that first sin is imputed to all,” etc. And again, “Augustine proves this dogma from the writings of the earlier fathers, from whom he produces testimonies so plain (and scarcely less remarkable are many which he has omitted), that it is altogether marvelous that there were any of old, or are any of this day, who themselves believe, and would persuade others, that this doctrine is an invention of Augustine.” ‘No truth revealed in the Divine word stirs up against itself more than the doctrine of original sin the enmity of the human heart ; and none, accordingly, has met, in different ages, with more determined and persevering opposition; yet a right understanding of it is absolutely necessary to any satisfactory knowledge of the plan of mercy. In the Church’s earlier days, all the ingenuity of Pelagius was exerted in attempts to explain it away from the page of inspiration. Shortly after the Reformation, the Remonstrants and Socinians revived his heresy, the former veiling it under many cautious restrictions, and the latter far overstepping even the errors of their master; more recently still, Taylor of Norwich proposed a new and unheard-of system, rivaling Socinian in audacity of interpretation; and, in our own days, Professor Stuart has assailed the faith of the Reformed Churches , and, as we firmly believe, of that scripture on which they are built, with a calmness, indeed, which honorably distinguishes him from the mass of its enemies, but we feel bound to say, with a want of logic, and a straining of criticism, which would do no dishonor to the most accomplished disciple of the school of Taylor. Our readers must have gathered ere now that we do not estimate Mr. Stuart’s scholarship so highly as it has generally been valued, and that we regard his theology as most unsound. We coincide entirely in Mr. Haldane’s impressions of the responsibility resting upon those who have recommended his Commentary.’


33. From a memoir of the life of Mr. James Halley, which has lately been published it appears that he was the author of the above review. His learning and accomplishments as a scholar, but, above all, his solidity and spirituality of mind, promised had his life been spared, to have made him a workman eminently fitted rightly to divide the word of God.

Romans 6:1

CHAPTER 6

Ro 6

In the preceding part of the Epistle the universal depravity and guilt of man, and the free salvation through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, had been fully exhibited. Paul now proceeds to prove the intimate connection between the justification of believers and their sanctification. He commences by stating an objection which has in all ages been advanced as an unanswerable argument against salvation by grace. He asks, What is the consequence of the doctrine he has been inculcating? If justification be bestowed through faith, without works, and if, where sin abounded, grace has much more abounded, may we not continue in sin that grace may abound? No objection could be more plausible. It is such as will forcibly strike every natural man, and is as common now as it was in the days of the Apostle.

Paul repels this charge by declaring the union of believers with Jesus Christ, by whom, as is represented in baptism, His people are dead to sin, and risen with Him to walk in newness of life. Having established these important truths, he urges (Ro 6:11) on those whom he addresses the duty of being convinced that such is their actual state. In Ro 6:12 and Ro 6:13, he warns them not to abuse this conviction; and for their encouragement in fighting the good fight of faith, to which they are called, assures them, in the 14th verse, that sin shall not have dominion over them, because they are not under the law but under grace. Thus the Apostle proves that, by the gracious provision of the covenant of God, ratified by the blood of Him with whom they are inseparably united, they who are justified cannot continue to live in sin; but though sin shall not have dominion over them, still, as their sanctification is not yet perfect, he goes on to address them as liable to temptation. What he had said, therefore, concerning their state as being in Christ, did not preclude the duty of watchfulness; nor, since they had formerly been the servants of sin, of now proving that they were the servants of God, by walking in holiness of life. Paul concludes by an animated appeal to their own experience of the past, and to their prospects for the future. He asks, what fruit had they in their former ways, which could only conduct to shame and death? On the other hand, he exhorts them to press onwards in the course of holiness, at the end of which they would receive the crown of everlasting life. But, along with this assurance, he reminds them of the important truth, that while the just recompense of sin is death, eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ro 6:1 :— What shall we say then? Shall wee continue in sin, that Grace may abound?

What shall we say then? — That is, what conclusion are we to draw from the doctrine previously taught? The question is first asked generally. In the following words it is asked particularly, — Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Many expound this objection as coming from a Jew, and imagine a sort of dialogue between him and the Apostle. For this there is no ground. The supposition of a dialogue in different parts of this Epistle, has been said to give life and interest to the argument; but instead of this, it is only cumbersome and entangling. There is no necessity for the introduction of an objector. It is quite sufficient for the writer to state the substance of the objection in his own words.

It was essential for the Apostle to vindicate his doctrine, not only from such objections as he knew would be made by the enemies of the cross of Christ, to whom he has an eye throughout the whole of the Epistle, but also to Christians themselves, whom he was directly addressing. We see in his answer in the following verses, to the questions thus proposed, what an ample field it opened for demonstrating the beautiful harmony of the plan of salvation, and of proving how every part of it bears upon and supports the rest.

Romans 6:2

God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?

Paul, in his usual manner on similar occasions, strongly rejects such a consequence as the question in the first verse supposes, and asks another, which implies the absolute incongruity of the assumption that Christians will be emboldened to continue in sin, by the knowledge of their being freely justified. On the very ground on which the objection rests, he shows that this is impossible. We that are dead to sin. — The meaning of this expression is very generally misunderstood, and extended to include death to the power of sin, to which it has not the smallest reference. It exclusively indicates the justification of believers, and their freedom from the guilt of sin, having no allusion to their sanctification, which, however, as the Apostle immediately proceeds to prove, necessarily follows. It was indispensable, in the view of obviating the objection proposed, distinctly to characterize both the persons, and their state of justification, to whom the answer he was about to give applied. Accordingly, by using the term we, he shows that he speaks of the same persons of whose justification he had been treating in the conclusion of the fourth, and in the first part of the foregoing chapter, to whom, in this way, he there refers more than twenty times. Their justification he expresses by the term dead to sin , which, though only a part of justification, implies all that it includes. No other designation could have been so well adapted to introduce the development of their state, and its inseparable consequences, as contained in the following verses. This term, then, is most appropriately employed.

Formerly, the persons spoken of were dead in sin, but now they were dead to it, as it is said in Ro 6:7, they are justified from it. In Ro 7, it is affirmed that believers are dead to the law. They are therefore dead to sin, for the strength of sin is the law; and consequently sin has lost its power to condemn them, their connection with it, in respect to its guilt, being for ever broken. In the 10th verse, it is said that Christ died unto sin, and liveth to God; and in the same way believers have died to sin, and are alive to God, to serve Him in newness of life.

It has indeed been argued, that if the expression dead to sin does not comprehend death to the power of sin, it does not contain an answer to the objection urged in the preceding verse. Even, however, though the power of sin were included, it could not be considered as an answer by which the objection was removed, but simply a denial of its validity. But it is not intended as an answer, though it clearly infers that union with Jesus Christ which is immediately after exhibited as the complete answer. Without this union we cannot be dead to sin; but, being united to Him, believers are not only dead to it, but also, by necessary con sequence, risen with Him to walk in newness of life. Nothing could be more conclusive than in this manner to show that, so far from the doctrine of justification leading to the evil supposed, on the contrary, it provides full security against it. Paul accordingly presents that very aspect of this doctrine, namely, death to sin, which peculiarly bears on the point and this for the purpose of introducing that union by which it takes place, which is at once the cause both of justification and sanctification. So far , therefore, from these being contrary the one to the other, or of the first being in the smallest degree opposed to the last, they are in separable; and thus the possibility of those who are justified continuing in sin, that grace may abound, is absolutely precluded.

Dr. Macknight translates the phrase, ‘dead to sin, have died by sin.’ This does not convey the Apostle’s meaning, but an idea altogether different, and entirely misrepresents the import of the passage. All men have died by sin, but believers only are dead to the guilt of sin; and it is of its guilt exclusively that the Apostle here speaks. Unbelievers will not, through all eternity, be dead to sin. Dr. Macknight says that the common translation ‘is absurd, for a person’s living in sin who is dead to it, is evidently a contradiction in terms.’ But had he understood the meaning of the expression ‘dead to sin ,’ he would have seen that there is nothing in this translation either contradictory or absurd. He ought also to have observed that the phraseology to which he objects is not an assertion that they who are dead to sin live in it, but is a question that supposes the incompatibility of the thing referred to.

Mr. Stuart also totally misunderstands the signification of the expression ‘dead to sin,’ which, he says, ‘means to renounce sin; to become, as it were, insensible to its exciting power and influence, as a dead person is incapable of sensibility.’ The clause that follows — Shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? — he interprets thus: ‘How shall we, who have renounced sin, and profess to be insensible to its influence, any more continue to practice it, or to be influenced by it?’ On this it is remarked, in the Presbyterian Review that ‘the objection stated by the Apostle is, that the tendency of his doctrine of justification by faith was bad, leading to licentiousness; and what sort of refutation is it to reply, whatever its tendency may be, nevertheless it should not produce such effects, because we have professed otherwise? Professions might be multiplied a thousand fold, and yet the tendency of the doctrine would remain the same, and the objection consequently would remain in all its force. Nay, it is plain that such a reply as this takes for granted that the tendency of the doctrine by itself is to licentiousness; and that, in order to prevent these its natural effects from being developed, the person who receives it must be hemmed around with innumerable professions and obligations to renounce those sins into which he might naturally be led by such a doctrine standing alone.’ Mr. Stuart’s explanation of becoming insensible to the exciting power or influence of sin , as a dead person is incapable of sensibility, perfectly coincides with the popish interpretation of the passage: — ’The spirit, the heart, the judgment, have no more life for sin than those of a dead man for the world.’ But the Roman Catholic Quesnel, perceiving that his interpretation is contradicted by experience, immediately adds: ‘Ah, who is it that is dead and insensible to the praises, to the pleasures, to the advantages of the world?’ Mr. Stuart, however, disregarding both fact and experience, adheres to his interpretation, and announces the third time, ‘ To become dead to sin or to die to sin plainly means, then, to become insensible to its influence, to be unmoved by it; in other words, to renounce it, and refrain from the practice of it.’ This is justly chargeable with the absurdity unjustly charged by Dr. Macknight on the common translation of the passage. The assertion, then, would be, as we refrain from the practice of sin, we cannot continue to practice it. According to Mr. Stuart’s interpretation, when it is enjoined on believers, Ro 6:11, to reckon themselves dead to sin, the meaning would be, that they should reckon themselves perfect.

In order to understand the manner in which the Apostle meets and obviates the objection that the doctrine of justification by grace tends to encourage Christians to continue in sin, the ground on which he founds his denial of its validity must be particularly attended to. He does not rest it, according to Dr. Macknight, on the impossibility of believers ‘hoping to live eternally by continuing in sin,’ if they have died by it. This would not only be no adequate security against such an effect, but, owing to the strength of human depravity, no security at all. Neither does he rest it on their having ceased, according to Mr. Stuart, to feel the influence of sin, which is alike contrary to Scripture and experience. Nor, according to Mr. Tholuck, because ‘they obey it in nothing more,’ which is not only repugnant to truth, but would be simply a denial of the allegation without the shadow of proof. He rests it in no degree either on any motive presented to them, or on any change produced in themselves, as these writers suppose. It should also be observed that, when the Apostle characterizes believers as dead to sin, he is not introducing something new, as would be the case were either Dr. Macknight’s, or Mr. Stuart’s, or Mr. Tholuck’s explanation of the term correct. He is indicating the state of those to whom the objection applies, in order to its refutation. That it does not lead them to continue in sin, he had in effect shown already, in Ro 5:3 and Ro 5:4 of the foregoing chapter, where he had declared the accompaniments of their justification. But as this objection is constantly insisted on, and is so congenial to human nature, and, besides, might appear plausible from the fact that they are the ungodly who are justified, Ro 4:5, he still considered it proper to meet it fully and directly. Paul therefore proceeds formally to repel such a calumny against his doctrine, by exhibiting in further detail, in the following verses, the grounds of justification to which he had referred, Ro 4:24-25, — namely, the interest of believers both in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The expression, then, dead to sin, does not in any degree relate to their character or conduct but exclusively to their state before God. Their character or conduct with regard to abstinence from the commission of sin, is referred to in the question that follows, demanding, How those who are dead to sin shall ‘live any longer therein? ’ But to explain the expression, ‘dead to sin,’ as meaning dead to the influence and love of sin, is entirely erroneous, and what the Apostle by no means asserts. Death to the influence and love of sin must involve their annihilation in the person of whom this could be affirmed; for death annihilates to its subject all things whatsoever; and in this case it might well be said, with Mr. Stuart, that a man who is dead to sin has ‘become insensible to its exciting power or influence, as a dead person is incapable of sensibility.’ How Mr. Stuart could make such statements, thrice repeated, yet totally unfounded, and flatly contradicted by every man’s experience, is indeed astonishing.

Utterly erroneous, too, is the explanation of other commentators, who say that the meaning is, dead to ‘the guilt and power’ of sin, — thus joining death to the power to death to the guilt , of sin. This indicates a condition with respect to sin which was never realized in any of the children of Adam while in this world. No believer is dead to the power of sin, as Paul has abundantly short in the seventh chapter of this Epistle. On the contrary, he there affirms that there was a law in his members which warred against the law of his mind; that he did the things he would not; and that when he would do good, evil (and what is this but the power of sin?) was present with him. The same truth is clearly exhibited in all the other Epistles, in which believers are so often reproved for giving way to the power of sin, and earnestly exhorted and warned against doing so. But when the expression is understood as exclusively signifying dead to the GUILT of sin, it may and must be taken in the full sense of what death imparts, being nothing less than absolute, total, and final deliverance from its guilt. To suppose, then, that in these words there is the smallest reference to the character or conduct of believers — to their freedom from the love or power of sin — to conjoin these in any respect or in any degree with their freedom from its guilt, — in other words, with their justified state, — is not merely to misapprehend the meaning of the Apostle, but to represent him as stating that to be a fact which has no existence; while it deprives the passage of the consolation to believers which, when properly understood, it is so eminently calculated to impart.

In proof of the correctness of this view of the subject, let it be remembered that the Apostle’s refutation, in the following verses, of the supposed objection, does not rest on the supposition that sin is mortified in himself and those whom he is addressing, or that they are released from any propensity to it, but on the fact of their being one with Jesus Christ. They are united to Him in His death, and consequently in His life, which was communicated to them by Him who is a ‘quickening Spirit;’ and thus their walking with Him in newness of life, as well as their resurrection with Him, are secured . These ideas are exhibited in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th verses. In the 7th verse, the reason of the whole is summed up, — ’For he who is dead (with Christ) is justified from sin;’ and in the 8th verse, that which will afterwards follow our being justified from sin is stated, — ’If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.’

Finally, in Ro 6:9 and Ro 6:10, the Apostle declares the consequence of Christ’s dying to sin to be, that He liveth unto God. The same effect in respect to the members must follow as to the Head with whom believers are one; and therefore he immediately proceeds to assure them, in the 14th verse, that sin shall not have dominion over them. The result, then, of the doctrine of justification by grace is the very reverse. of giving not merely license, but even place, to continue in sin. On the contrary, according to that doctrine, the power of God is engaged to secure to those who are dead to sin — i.e., justified — a life of holiness, corresponding with that state into which, by their union with His Son, He has brought them.

The full import and consequence of being dead to sin will be found, Ro 4:7-8: — ’Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.’

They who are dead to sin, are those from whom, in its guilt or condemning power, it is in Christ Jesus entirely removed. Such persons, whose sins are thus covered, are pronounced ‘blessed.’ They enjoy the favor and blessing of God. The necessary effect of this blessing is declared in the new covenant, according to which, when God is merciful to the unrighteousness of His people, and remembers their sins and iniquities no more, He puts His laws into their mind, and writes them in their hearts, and promises that He will be to them a God, and they shall be to Him a people. In one word, they who are dead to Sin are limited to Him who is the Fountain of life and holiness, and are thus delivered from the curse pronounced upon those who, being under the law, continue not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them. The guilt of their sins, which separated between them and God, having now been canceled, they enjoy His favor, and all its blessed effects. It is upon these great truths that the Apostle rests his absolute denial that the doctrine of justification by grace, which he had been unfolding, is compatible with continuing to live in sin. Live any longer therein. — To continue in sin, and to live any longer therein, are equivalent expressions, implying that, before their death to sin, the Apostle himself, and all those whom he now addressed, were enslaved by sin, and lived in it. In the same way, in writing to the saints at Ephesus, he says that formerly he and all of them had their conversation among the children of disobedience, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.

By denying, then, that believers continue in sin, he does not mean to say that they never commit sin, or fall into it, or, according to Mr. Stuart, have become insensible to its influence, or to Mr. Tholuck, that they ‘obey it in nothing any more;’ for, as has been observed, it is abundantly shown in the seventh chapter, where he gives an account of his own experience (which is also the experience of every Christian), that this is very far from being a fact; but he denies that they continue to live as formerly in sin and ungodliness, which he had shown was impossible . Here it may, however, be remarked, that the full answer which in the following verses is given to the objection brought against the tendency of the doctrine of justification, cannot be understood by the natural man, to whom it must appear foolishness. Hence the same calumny is repeated to the present day against this part of Divine truth.

Romans 6:3

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His death?

In this and the following verses, Paul proceeds to give his full answer to the objection he had supposed, by showing that the sanctification believers rests on the same foundation, and springs from the same source, as their justification, namely, their union was Jesus Christ, and therefore, so far from their being contrary to each other, they are not merely in perfect harmony, but absolutely inseparable; and not only so, but the one cannot exist without the other. In the conclusion of the preceding chapter, he had declared that sin had reigned unto death. It reigned unto the death of Jesus Christ, the surety of His people, who, as is said in Ro 6:10 of the chapter before us, ‘died unto sin.’ But as in His death its reign as to Him terminated, so its reign also terminated as to all His people, who with Him are ‘dead to sin.’ The effect, then, of His death being the termination of the reign of sin, it was at the same time to them the commencement of the reign of grace, which took place ‘through righteousness, — the everlasting righteousness brought in by His death.’ Instead, therefore, of being under the reign of sin, Christians are under grace, whereby they ‘serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear,’ Heb 12:28. It may, however, be remarked, that although their union with Christ is the ground of the Apostle’s denial, that believers will be induced to continue in sin that grace may abound, and of their absolute security that this shall not be its effect, yet he does not fail to present, as in the concluding part of this chapter, such motives to abstain from sin as are calculated powerfully to influence their conduct. The consideration, too, that they died with Christ, and are risen with Him to newness of life, connected with the certainty that they shall live with Him in future glory, announced in Ro 6:5 and Ro 6:8, furnishes the strongest motives to the love of God, which is the grand spring of obedience, for we love Him when we know that He has first loved us. That this view of the death of Christ, and of our death with Him, operates as a powerful motive to the love of God, is shown, 2Co 5:14, where it is said, ‘The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead (or all died). And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.’

Although, then, the solid ground and absolute security that believers shall not live in sin, is shown to consist in their union with Christ, yet motives are not excluded.

In the verse before us, the Apostle proves that Christians are dead to sin, because they died with Christ. The rite of baptism exhibits Christians as dying, as buried, and as risen with Christ. Know ye not. — He refers to what he is now declaring as a thing well known to those whom he addresses. Baptized into Jesus Christ. — By faith believers are made one with Christ: they become members of His body. This oneness is represented emblematically by baptism. Baptized into His death. — In baptism, they are also represented as dying with Christ. This rite, then, proceeds on the fact that they have died with Him who bore their sins.

Thus the satisfaction rendered to the justice of God by Him, is a satisfaction from them, as they are constituent parts of His body. The believer is one with Christ as truly as he was one with Adam — he dies with Christ as truly as he died with Adam. Christ’s righteousness is his as truly as Adam’s sin was his. By a Divine constitution, all Adam’s posterity are one with him, and so his first sin is really and truly theirs.

By a similar Divine constitution, all Christ’s people are one with Him, and His obedience is as truly theirs as if they had yielded it, and His death as if they had suffered it. When it is said that Christians have died with Christ, there is no more figure than when it is said that they have died in Adam.

The figure of baptism was very early mistaken for a reality, and accordingly some of the fathers speak of the baptized person as truly born again in the water. They supposed him to go into the water with all his sins upon him, and to come out of it without them. This indeed is the case with baptism figuratively. But the carnal mi