Wednesday, August 24, 2011
COMMENTARY ON ROMANS 5:12-21
(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: (13) (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (14) Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. (15) But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (16) And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. (17) For if by one man’s offence 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). (18) Therefore 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. (19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. (20) Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
To show how entirely justification, and the peace with, and access to God, and the permanence of these blessings of free grace, and the joyful hope of God’s glory, and the triumphant exultation in God Himself, which are secured by justification, are owing to “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” seems to be the object of the Holy Ghost in the last part of the 5th chapter. This is shown by instituting a comparison and contrast between the way in which man originally became a guilty sinner, in a condition of depravity and inability, through the sin of Adam, and the way in which the elect become righteous — are justified — through the redemption in the Lord Jesus Christ — His obedience to death, which, as a propitiatory sacrifice, is our ransom. So a comparison is here proposed and pursued between the first Adam, by whom sin was brought into the world, and the second Adam, by whom it is taken away. It is of great importance that we distinctly apprehend both the subject and the object of this important passage now before us. The subject is justification — restoration to the Divine favor — and that on which it rests. The contrast here is between a state of security from punishment, and of happiness, with a state of liability to, certainty of, punishment and misery — a state of favor with a state of wrath — a state of justification with a state of condemnation — a state of secured happiness with a state of impending ruin. The object is to illustrate the former (justification) by the latter — to show there is a strong analogy, in the peculiar way in which it is procured, to an equally peculiar way in which its opposite was incurred; and that is — That as all men are sinners entirely on account of the first sin of the first man, Adam, so all men who are justified are regarded as righteous entirely on account of the obedience to death of Him of whom the first man was an image — the Lord from Heaven; and thus is the Divine method of justification “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
All the evil that befalls fallen mankind, either in the present or the future world — all the multifarious forms of guilt, depravity, and misery — originated in the first sin of the first man, Adam. In the manifestation of the displeasure of God at the first sin death, which includes man’s loss of immortality, as an embodied being; a life longer or shorter, but liable to disease, doomed to death, and the greater loss of that holy Divine influence which is the soul of the human soul, the principle of its true excellence and highest happiness. These — mortality and destitution of all spiritual goodness — come equally upon all men, without reference to personal acts of guilt; and these are the evils which are graciously removed in justification.
Verse 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 word “wherefore” is as if Paul said, “Since these things are so — since Christ our Lord was given for our offences, as that we are justified by Him — since by Him we have peace with and access to God — since by Him we receive the reconciliation — in a word, since we are justified by the redemption that is in Him, it follows that there is a very remarkable coincidence between the way in which we are justified and the way in which we became guilty.” Now, what is the fact which is to illustrate our entire indebtedness to the work of Christ for our justification? It is this: “by one man” — that is plainly Adam, the first man — “sin entered into the world.” This language does not mean by one man as created, but by one man as sinning: by one that sinned (vs. 16); by one man’s offence (vs. 17); by one man’s disobedience (vs. 19); by one man as he committed sin. The meaning is not, sin then first began to exist in the universe. Devils had sinned, Eve had sinned, before Adam sinned. The words, “sin came into the world,” refer not so much to Adam’s sin, as to the consequence of Adam’s sin. By one man sinning, sin — guilt — became a world-wide thing; and so did death, for death came along with guilt. So all men have sinned, all men are guilty — so guilty as to die. All mankind are exposed to death in consequence of the first sin of the first man; all men are treated as guilty on account of that one offence. Our first father Adam was blessed with a good estate and earthly affluence before he fell. But the dread moment arrived when Satan by his craft and subtilty succeeded in bringing down man from his state of creature perfection and happiness to one of bankruptcy and beggary. The entrance of sin into the world left all men empty of all good, and full of evil. The entrance of sin and punishment into the world was by one man; and that by one sin, as Paul afterward declares: yet were they not confined unto the person of that one man, but belonged equally unto every man. This the apostle expressed, inverting the order of the effect and the cause. In the entrance of it he first mentions the cause of sin, and then the effect or punishment: “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;” but in the application of it unto all men, he expressed first the effect and then the cause: “Death passed on all men, for that all have sinned.”
How can the sin of Adam be charged to the account or imputed to the whole human race? The participation of the race of man in the sin of Adam was because all men were in Adam in seed-form — the human race was in the loins of Adam as the oak tree is in the acorn. This is Realism, also called Augustinianism. When Adam, the representative man, sinned, we sinned. When he became spiritually dead, that is, separated from God in broken fellowship, we did too: “For as in Adam all die” (1 Cor. ). When he was expelled from the garden, we were too. We were in him in a very real sense, as the oak tree is in the acorn. God did not enter into a covenant with Adam as the view of Federalism contends for there is no record in all the Scripture of any such covenant. Adam was not under contract with God but stood before his Creator under an imposition of Law based on the moral principle of the recognition of Divine Sovereignty and the rights of the Creator, and that Adam violated not a contract but a Law, as our 12th and 13th verses clearly state. Jehovah God did not ask Adam to agree to anything. He simply told him what to do and laid down the penalty for noncompliance (Gen. 2:15-17). This is Law — not contract. By Adam’s transgression sin entered this world. By representation and imputation, sin and its results (spiritual death, physical death, darkness, disease, and enmity against God) entered into all men. When Adam sinned and fell, we all sinned and fell. Not only was sin imputed to us, but a nature of sin was imparted to us (Psa. 51:5; 58:3).
Death, on the first entrance of sin, passed on all — that is, all men became liable and obnoxious unto it, as the punishment due to sin (Rom. 6:23). All men that ever were, are, or shall be, were not then existent in their own persons; but yet were they all of them then, upon the first entrance of sin, made subject to death, or liable unto punishment. They were so by virtue of their constitution, upon their existence in the one representative head, the one man, that sinned. Whatever sin deserves in the justice of God, whatever punishment God at any time appointed or threatened unto it, it is comprised in death: “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the death” (Gen. 2:17). It is the guilt of sin that he affirms to be the cause of death. Humanity was introduced to sin by Adam’s failure to obey God (1 John 3:8). Sin meant that Adam could no longer live in fellowship with God in the garden. The root of death is in having been sent forth from God (Compare Gen with ). Paul no less than 5 times, explicitly states that the universal sway of death is due to this single sin of one man, Adam (vs. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19). There are 3 kinds of death that came upon man through the transgression of Adam: Physical, Spiritual, and Eternal. Every person born into the world is spiritually dead. If they continue in this state until physical death they will experience eternal death, which is eternal separation from God in Hell.
The Scripture tells us that there are 4 kinds of death, and 3 of these are the penal consequence of sin, inflicted upon all men the moment we, in Adam, transgressed the commandment of God. And death would henceforth have dominion over us. The death, which the Scripture speaks of as the punishment of sin, is a whole, including the death of the body, and the death of the soul, and the eternal , sensible, perfect destruction and misery of both (Matt. 10:28). First, there is Natural, Physical Death — or the death of the body, which relates to the grave. It implies a liableness to the miseries of this life and to death itself (Gen. 3:16-19). This has passed upon all men, for all pay the penalty of sin in the return of our bodies to the earth (Gen. 3:19; Heb. ). Second, Spiritual Death — which describes the state the souls of men are in as the consequence of our Fall in Adam. This, of course, relates to the State of our Soul. This implies loss of communion with God, which was evident in the fulfilling of the threatening (Gen. 3:24), when God drove out man from paradise, and, also, our being under God’s wrath and curse: “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). This is our state by birth. Third, Eternal Death, which denotes the punishment of soul and body (after the resurrection) in Hell (Isa. 66:24). It is called the second death (Rev. 20:14). Fourth, Supernatural Death, which is experienced by the Christian only, and consists in a dying to sin, to self, and to the world. This is accomplished by the daily cross and it will be dealt with in chapter 6 of our Epistle.
Verse 13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Verses 13-17 are in parenthesis to explain what is meant by the phrase “for all have sinned,” and prove the statement that “death passed upon all men” through the single sin of Adam. All men are exposed to death in consequence of the first sin of the first man; all men are treated as guilty on account of that one offence. Our present verse clearly evidences the truth of this as it shows that all mankind were under the Law God gave to Adam. This is evident, because that sin, as bringing death, was in the world before there was any other legislation, giving of the Law to mankind, besides that command given to Adam, viz., in that space of time that was from Adam to Moses. There being sin, therefore, in the world, as bringing death in that space of time, before the giving of the Law by Moses, shows that there was a Law given of God before that time, threatening death that they were under; but this could be no other than the Law God gave to Adam. This proves that Adam was the representative head of mankind; that mankind was under the Law given to him. The whole human race is subject to the penal consequence of the primordial Law being transgressed by their first father. “Sin is not imputed when there is no law,” because sin or condemnation implies the Law; one cannot be without the other. “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). No one is guilty where no Law exists and for any to be judged guilty is the same thing as saying he has broken the Law. All men died entirely on account of the first sin of the first man, without reference to their own personal violations of the Divine Law. All men sinned even before they were born, through and in the one man Adam.
There are 4 aspects of sin given in this passage: (1) Sin is falling short, vss. 12, 20, 21; i. e., disobeying God’s commands and falling short of the standards of His holiness. Because we do not measure up to what God requires of us. (2) Sin is going beyond, vs. 14; i.e., we transgress God’s Law, and we step beyond His limits. (3) Sin is falling aside, vss. 15, 16, 18; i.e., stepping out of the way of righteousness, going our own way (Isa. 53:6), going astray. (4) Sin is a positive act, vs. 19; i.e., it is a deliberate, willful act against the holiness of God. It is purposeful rebellion against His perfect will.
Verse 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. It might have been supposed that mankind, from Adam to Moses, being under no expressly written and outwardly revealed Law, could not be held liable to death as breakers of Law — even then “death reigned,” that is “held unresisted and universal sway.” Death is a power — the powerful arch-enemy of all life and light and joy and hope. Death is a mighty tyrant, an unconquerable foe — merciless and implacable. It held and it holds undisputed sway (Heb. ). To this mighty tyrant man is subject, and from death’s will man cannot deliver himself. There is no way out as far as man is concerned. No one has ever successfully resisted death’s onslaught. There is no human solution to the problem of death; no escape from its pursuit. Death reigned and reigns: over man’s body and soul, corrupting all. Death reigned over men the moment they were born. It reigns over the little baby that has not sinned consciously. It reigns over all men, even over those that had not, like Adam, transgressed against God’s positive commandment, threatening death to the disobedient. As the human race was tested in Adam, so the race fell in him, into the same curse and condemnation (1 Cor. ). Adam’s offence was therefore the offence of the human race, in proof of which the penalty of death is exacted even upon those “who have not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” They have not sinned as he sinned — as the progenitor of the human race, with the full equipment of innocence and perfection of nature with which Adam was endowed.
“Who is the figure of him that was to come.” Adam is here described as a type of Christ. The point of analogy intended here is plainly the public character which both sustained, neither being regarded in the Divine procedure as a mere individual man, but both alike as a representative man. Charles Hodge said, “As the sin of the one was the ground of our condemnation, so the righteousness of the other is the ground of our justification. This relation between Adam and the Messiah was recognized by the Jews, who called their expected deliverer, THE LAST
ADAM, as Paul also calls Him in 1 Cor. 15:45.” Thus Adam’s one sin sufficed to ruin the race, but Christ’s obedience conferred righteousness upon His people. The human race is a homogeneous whole, and this fact underlines the doctrine of redemption in Christ who in Himself stood , as One for His people, and being qualified as both God and Man; as Lawgiver and Upholder of the Law first, and then as Surety for all for whom He acted as spiritual Head and spiritual Progenitor of a new creation. Thus being qualified, His advocacy expected sin and brought in an everlasting righteousness.
Adam is a type (in reverse) of Christ, in being head of a race. The remainder of the comparison is the opposite as 1 Cor. 15:45-49 shows: THE FIRST
ADAM (man), (1) A living soul; (2) Of the earth; (3) Made sinners in him; (4) Death in him. THE SECOND ADAM (God-Man), (1) A quickening Spirit; (2) Lord from Heaven; (3) Made righteous in Him; (4) Life in Him. The points here the analogy does not hold are stated in the 15th, 16th, and 17th verses which follow.
Verse 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. Here is a general assertion that the justifying economy transcends the condemning economy. The “free gift,” or gracious interposition, to which we owe our deliverance from guilt, is not as “the offence,” the transgression of Adam, by which we all become guilty; the one does not in every point correspond to the other. No, it far transcends it. Of “the offence” this is the sum of what has been said: “By the offence of one man many are dead” — or many die through it; and if the free gift had been as this, it would have said, “By the free gift many are made alive, or live.” But it is much more than this. Though in one sense Adam is a type of Christ, the fall in Adam and the judgment which followed are not worthy to be compared to the grace of God and the free gift of life which we have in Christ. In Adam we lost all things; in Christ we gained much more than we lost. “The grace of God” — the sovereign mercy of God, in which all originates — and the “gift by grace” — the Divine economy of dispensing forgiveness, “which is by” — through — “one man, Jesus Christ,” — these are not merely adequate, in their good effects, to the bad effects of the offence, but they “have much more abounded to a great multitude.” The points of resemblance are 2: The offence is by one man, and issues in evil to a multitude, yea, all mankind; the free gift is by one Man too, and issues in good to a multitude, the elect. The point of contrast is, “the amount of good resulting from the free gift, to those with a saving interest in it, is much greater than the amount of the evil directly and solely derived from the offence.” All which are in Christ (to use the common Scripture phrase) have the benefit of His obedience, as all that are in Adam have the sorrowful fruit of his disobedience. The Scripture speaks of believers as the seed or posterity of Christ (Gal. ). They are in Christ by grace, as Adam’s posterity are in him by nature: the one are in the first Adam naturally, as the other are in the second Adam spiritually; exactly agreeable to the representation the apostle makes of the matter (1 Cor. 15:45-49). The doctrine of the first and last Adam, the first man and the second Man, unfolded in this Corinthian passage is very suggestive. There are 2 Creations — the old and the new; 2 Heads of Creation — Adam and Christ; 2 seeds — the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Notice 6 things: First, Adam was the Representative Head of the Human Race as all mankind were in him; and in him we all fell. This is the ground of original sin. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Representative Head of the elect, the Church, all His members are in Him, and in Him we died, rose again and are glorified. This is the ground of our salvation. All men are lost by virtue of union with the first Adam; the elect are saved by virtue of union with the Second Adam, Christ our Lord. Secondly, Adam communicated to all his posterity what belonged to him as fallen — sin and death. Our Lord Christ communicates to His children what belongs to Him — righteousness and life. Thirdly, Adam was of the earth, earthly, a fallen man. Christ is of Heaven; He is the Lord from Heaven. Fourthly, Adam had God-given dominion given him over the old Creation. The Lord Christ has dominion given Him over the new Creation. Fifthly, God took a bride out of Adam’s side for him. Christ was given the true Church in mystic marriage-union.
In concluding comments on this verse, we feel we must add a few words concerning the amazing free grace God. His grace is unmerited, gratuitous, uninfluenced favor; parental solicitude for prodigal sons; faithful affection for a faithless wife; unceasing concern over Hell-deserving sinners. It is the persistent expression of the love of God’s heart which must overcome and remove all the enmity, obstinacy, and opposition working in His objects. Grace works wonders; preserves me from Hell and prepares me for Heaven. The God of all grace is sovereign, therefore his grace is sovereign. He bestows it on who He will, when He will, where He will, how He will, and just because He will (Exo. 33:19). His electing grace proceeds from His gracious sovereignty (
11:5). His Redeeming grace is a glorious theme (Eph. 1:7). It is redemption from Hell with a right and title to Heaven (Psa. 49:19), redemption from the curse of the Law, to the enjoyment of the blessings of the everlasting covenant (Gal. 3:13), redemption from all iniquity to the possession of His purity (Titus 2:14), redemption from all evil, from wretched self, to the experience of all good, in the Person of Christ our Lord, in the Father’s home of eternal peace and love. Saving grace is a daily, continual matter, consisting of deliverances from Satan, sin, and self, all the way to the unclouded glory of our God. Calling grace is the effectual call that draws the sinner to come to Christ (John ). Abounding grace is richly enjoyed by those who abound in sorrowful confession of sin (Matt. 5:4). Providing grace is very precious and greatly prized by needy sinners (2 Cor. 8:9; Rom. ). This is grace for every step of our wilderness journey; Grace exceeding all human or angelic conception. And, lastly, Grace reigning over all our fleshly lusts, foolish thoughts, filthy dispositions, and all that Hell can design against a child of grace. It is a good thing for our hearts to be established with this grace (Heb. 13:9), for “this is the true grace of God wherein we stand” (1 Peter ). Rom.
Verse 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 offences unto justification. Matthew Poole comments on this verse: “As there is a difference between Adam and Christ in respect of their persons, so also in respect of their acts, and the extent thereof; for one sin of Adam did condemn us; the mischief arose from one offence; but the free gift and grace of Christ doth absolve us not only from that one fault, but from all other faults and offences; it reacheth to the pardon, not only of original sin, but of all other personal and actual sins.”
“The judgment” is the sentence of the Law in reference to the offence; this sentence was “through one that sinned;” it went forth on all men, through the medium of our first parent, when he sinned. But the Holy Ghost is telling us that the gift is not as this judgment. “The gift” is the free sentence of forgiveness, which, in the justifying economy, takes the place of the righteous sentence of condemnation under the condemning economy. The meaning of these words is plain, “for the judgment” — the righteous sentence, “was of one offence” — the first offence of man “to condemnation;” “but the free gift” — the gracious sentence, “was of many offences to justification.” The sentence, condemning all men to death, was grounded on the first sin of the first man, Adam. But “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin;” the gracious sentence of remission removes all iniquities of His people. So there is no comparison between the grace of God in Christ and the offence of Adam and its sinister consequences. (1) Christ confers much more than we lost in the Fall. (2) Christ pardons not one sin but all sins. (3) Christ justifies completely, making the believer perfectly righteous in Him, and the believer can never perish (John -28). As condemnation passed upon us all in Adam so in Christ the elect stand justified. Oh, dear saint of God, there is God’s plan of salvation. When we look at our sinful nature and our sins of practice and then look at the Christ of the Cross, we must bow in wonder and amazement, and cry out, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom. ).
Verse 17 For if by one man’s offence 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 offence, death reigned by one.” By the transgression of one man — Adam, death not only prevailed but reigned — that is, all men died through means of him, the transgressor. The other side of the contrast is not that by one man’s obedience men are brought back from the dead into which one man’s offence plunged them. No, thank God, it is something much more than this. The abundance of God’s grace is far greater than the demerits of sin, and the gift of Christ’s imputed righteousness exceeds that which was lost in Adam. The righteousness of God’s elect far surpasses that which they possessed in innocence by the first Adam, for it is the righteousness of Christ, Who is God. Much more shall they who receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, reign in life by Jesus Christ. If by means of one man and his one offence death had power over all mankind, then much more shall the grace and gift of righteousness, which is by our Lord Christ alone, obtain eternal life for all poor sinners who have received abundant grace and mercy from Him. “The abundance of grace” is equivalent to God’s abundant grace — an overflow of Divine kindness and mercy. “The gift or righteousness” is a further description of His abundant grace: “the gift of righteousness” is the gift of God’s justification — full, free justification, justification by His grace — the gift of God. To “receive” this is to be brought, by the Holy Ghost, to a saving interest in it: it is to be “found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil 3:9), and it is upon all true believers, only on them. Now, says the apostle, theses believers “shall reign in life” — they shall live and reign. They shall enjoy a state as far — infinitely further — above the life in the Garden of Eden which was lost by the offence, for this is abundant life in Christ Jesus our Lord (John 10:10). It is to Him that we are indebted — entirely indebted — to Him for all.
Oh, the marvelous grace of God in transforming the lives of such guilty, ungodly, unworthy sinners. He turns slaves (2 Tim. ) into kings (Rev. 5:10). He deposes the dynasty of sin, chains it in the dungeon, and enthrones the dynasty of righteousness. He who takes the beggar from the dunghill and sets him among princes to make him inherit the throne of glory (1 Sam. 2:8), takes the elect child of disobedience and lifts him to reign with Christ. Those who are effectually called to reign have received abundance of grace, and of righteousness. These 2 gifts of God, grace and righteousness, are the effects of the work of Christ. All of our sins are taken from us and placed to the account of the Saviour. That is the abundance of grace. All the righteousness of God is placed to the account of the individual believer; that is the abundance of the gift of righteousness. In the account book, where everything was against us and nothing to our credit, God, in pure, free grace, reversed the record: Christ paid the debit account in full for the elect, and the once empty credit page now carries the deposit of the imputed righteousness of God in Christ. Now nothing is against us as God Himself is for us (Rom. ).
We “reign in life by one, Jesus Christ,” if He dwells in our hearts by God-given, inwrought faith. Are we spiritually married to the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-7)? Does He have our hearts and affections? Oh, bless the Lord; if the Lord Jesus Christ reigns in us, we are sure of reigning eternally in glory with Him for ever. Amen!
Verse 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. This one sin of one man, Adam, led to judgment and condemnation for all whom he represented, the whole world of all mankind. We are as much concerned in the sin, and consequently implicated in the punishment, as if we had been there (and indeed we were in our representative, our head) in the Garden when he did it. We were not present physically when Adam fell, but we were in his loins, and we were in him as the representative head of the human race, therefore condemned. We all honestly feel the same disposition to sin, the same rebellion in our nature. That one man was the entire human race and the one offence was our sin in him, for all have sinned.” By one offence all men were condemned so as to die, so by one righteousness all are justified so as to live. From Adam to Moses death reigned over all the children of Adam, and death still continues to reign over all the sons of men. Death reigned by sin, for the sting of death is sin, and the wages of sin is death. All men are therefore condemned already.
“Even so,” in the same fashion, when our Lord perfectly obeyed God’s holy requirements and on the Cross satisfied God’s justice, we were in Him as His seed and covenant people (1 Cor. 15:21-22), and therefore accepted as justified. He as the Head of His people secured to all of them, the many, the righteousness of justification of life. Christ and His seed, in the eye of God’s Law and justice, are one in Christ’s righteousness. The Law condemned us to death, but Christ’s active and passive obedience to the Law on our behalf, takes away our guilt, and death as the consequence of guilt, and justifies us to life, as the opposite of death. Those for whom God gave His Son, to them, in Him, He freely gives all things; therefore all things obtained by His death must be bestowed on them for whom He died (Rom. 8:32). They for whom Christ died are justified, are God’s elect, cannot be condemned, nor can any thing be laid to their charge; all that He has purchased for them must be applied to them, for by virtue thereof it is that they are so saved (Rom. 8:33-34). So in Christ all whom God had chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, when he was delivered up for our offences and bore our sins in His own body on the Cross, met the utmost of the penal demands of the Law; and when Christ was raised from the dead, we were raised up with Him to justification of life.
The words “all men” are what Arminians and Universalists seize upon to lend, unjustly, support for their false theories concerning the extent of God’s saving of sinners. That Christ gave Himself a ransom for “all” without distinction of nationality, social status, age or sex, is blessedly true; but to say He died in the stead of “all” without exception is totally unbiblical and cannot be maintained without involving the most palpable absurdities and contradictions. The Scripture is clear that our Precious Saviour, in His obedience unto death, in the redemption which He wrought, and satisfaction which He made, and sacrifice which He offered up, was not a public Person in the room of all and every man in the world, elect and reprobate, believers and infidels, or unbelievers; which are briefly these: — First, The seed of the woman, the Lord Christ, was not to be a public Person in the place, stead, and room of the seed of the serpent. It is the reprobates who are the serpent and Our Lord Jesus was not, in His oblation and suffering representing them, for He brake the head of their father (the devil) on the Cross. Secondly, Christ represented only them for whom He set Himself apart to that office wherein He was such a Representative. But according to His own testimony (John 17:9) He was the Representative for the sakes only of some that were given Him out of the world, and not of all and every one. He did not die for all. Thirdly, Christ was a Surety (Heb. ); but He was not a Surety for all. He was a Surety for those in the covenant. None can perish for whom He is a Surety; those for whom He paid the debt. Fourthly, In the stead of the elect He suffered, and for them He made satisfaction (Isa. 53:5-6). He suffered not in the stead of all, nor made satisfaction for all, for multitudes are on the broad road to Hell to suffer for themselves with the multitudes already there, which makes it evident that Christ did not suffer for them (Rom. 8:33-34). Fifthly, Jesus Christ gave not His life in vain. All for whom He died are recipients and receive the benefit of His redemption, reconciliation, satisfaction, etc., but the greatest part of Adam’s race receive nothing from His saving work, and perish for ever. Sixthly, God was well pleased with His Son in His redeeming work in the stead of the elect (Eph. 5:2), and in Christ He is well please with them. But with the greatest number of the sons of men God is not well pleased, such as, Cain, Pharaoh, Saul, Ahab, and many others. Christ did not represent these and, therefore, not all. Seventhly, For testimonies, see John 17:9; Matt. 20:28, 26:26-28; Mark 10:45; Heb. 6:20; Isa. 53:12; John 10:15; Heb. 13:20; Matt. 1:21; Heb. 2:17; John 11:51-52; Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:2, 23-25; Rom. -34.
Dear reader, take your concordance and you find that the word “all” is employed in Scripture with considerable latitude and variety of meaning, and let the Bible speak in determining the sorts of persons addressed and groups of people refered to in each passage. Though Christ had power over all flesh, yet it was only to “the MANY,” whom the Father had given Him, as His charge, to redeem, sanctify, and save; and as the reward of all His toils and sufferings, was He to give eternal life (John 17:2). Christ gave His life for the sheep (His seed), not the wolves, hogs, or dogs (John ). In the 16th verse of John 10 Christ says that His sheep are all those who make up the one fold of His elected body. The passage is clear that some were already in the fold (saved) and some were not, but our Lord Christ must and will bring them by His effectual call. But in the 26th verse our Lord tells these reprobate Jews they were not of this sheep fold. Here are plain words from our Lord telling the rebellious Jews that He died only for the sheep, that they were not included in this elected sheep fold, and that He did NOT die for them.
Scripture always interprets Scripture. The “all men” of this verse is explained by 1 Cor. 15:22. A somewhat lengthy but important quote from A. W. Pink reads, “To say that in the atonement of Christ God has laid a sufficient and suitable basis for the salvation of all men, if so be they would avail themselves of it, may sound very plausible, yet is it, in reality, meaningless jargon. Such an assertion ignores the eternal and sovereign election of the Father. It dissevers the work of the Spirit from the work of Christ. It repudiates the lost condition of man. While professing to widen the extent of the atonement, it compromises its reality and efficacy. To say that everything turns on the sinner’s acceptance, is to affirm that Christ did nothing more for those who are saved than He did for those who are lost. It is not faith which gives Divine efficacy to the blood: it was the blood which efficaciously purchased faith. To make the eternal salvation of sinners turn upon an act of their own wills, would not only be leaving the success of the redemptive work of Christ, contingent upon the fickle caprice of men, but would allow them to divide the honors with Christ. To say that Christ died for all the sins of all who hear the Gospel, and that the only thing which can now damn them is their unbelief, is to fly in the face of Eph. 5:5-6, etc.”
Verse 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Through “the disobedience of one man,” Adam, “many,” the whole human race, were, by a Divine constitution, “made sinners,” reckoned guilty — constituted sinners, liable to the punishment of sin. The First Adam from his state of creature perfection fell and all his posterity fell in him. Adam’s sin did not put us on trial and make us only susceptible to sin nor lead us into sin, but by his fall we were actually made sinners, for “all have sinned,” having fallen in him.
The “many” is in effect the same with the “all” of the previous verses. The alteration of the phrase is due to the exception made for the Man Christ, of whom Paul speaks in the next clause of this verse. The fall reached ‘many” men, but not “all” simply because Christ the God-Man, and He only, was excepted. Adam’s sin was not imputed to Christ as Heb. 7:26 plainly states. He was “separate from sinners”, and was not infected with the plague whereof He was to be the Saviour. Christ came not under Adam as head or representative, but, as the passage in Romans shows, is opposed to Adam as the Head of His own elect people.
“By the obedience of one” — the faultless, perfect satisfaction given to the demands of the Divine Law by our Lord, sinners in Adam are made righteous in Christ. This was made an experience to the elect by the perfect obedience of Christ. He came into this world to do the will of the Father. His “obedience” is not to be restricted to what He wrought prior to the Cross, nor or His “sufferings” to be limited to what He endured during His crucifixion and immediately preceding it. No, He suffered and obeyed throughout the entirety of His life here on earth, just as He suffered and obeyed throughout His dying. While the First Adam fell, and we in him, the Last Adam stood and all those given Him by eternal election stand in Him. He magnified the Father’s Law in every part, and with His obedience for His people, the Father is everlastingly well pleased. His people are “made” — constituted “righteous,” that is, are justified, entirely on the ground of His all-perfect righteousness. Our Lord Christ’s obedience did not merely render the elect savable nor enable us to be righteous before God by the works of our own hands, but we are made righteous and sanctified entirely on the basis of what He did in our stead (2 Cor. 5:21).
It is the “many” who are made righteous by Christ’s obedience. It is by His substitutionary work in giving His life for them that the elect are made righteous. It is by Particular Redemption, the work of redemption which was wrought out by the Lord Jesus Christ in His life of perfect obedience and His vicarious sufferings and atoning death. It was not designed for the whole human race, but for the sheep, the elect, the Church. In the words of the Synod of Dort: “God willed that Christ, through the blood of the Cross, should, out of every people, tribe, nation and language, efficaciously redeem all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father.” Those whom God predestinated to salvation Christ redeemed. The “many” are the “many sons” whom Christ shall bring to glory (Heb. ). They are manifested as all those who see themselves miserable sinners, and believe in Christ for righteousness unto justification of life. William Mason, writing encouraging words for poor needy sinners says, “Hold fast, and rejoice in this blessed truth, that though you are a miserable sinner in yourself; though your obedience, after all your sincere strivings, and earnest endeavors, is maimed and imperfect; yet the perfect, spotless obedience of the Son of God is yours, imputed to your account; as much yours, as though you had in your own person obeyed every jot and tittle of the Law of God: by this one obedience of Christ you are perfectly righteous in God’s sight; He looks on you, loves you, and will treat you as such.”
Verse 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. As John Calvin observes, “Paul is not here describing the whole use of the Law, but is dealing only with the one part which served his present purpose (Gal. 3:17-25; 2 Cor. 3:6-11; 1 Tim. 1:8-11).” The Law manifests that transgression is of clearly revealed commandment and, thus the Law brings sin to light, either as it irritates the sinner (Rom. 3:20;7:8,11), or makes manifest the sin (Rom. 7:7,13). Thereby sin is known to be out of measure sinful. God’s Holy Law, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, lays bare the heart and shows the depravity of our nature. What was one act of disobedience in our representative head has been converted into a vital principle of disobedience in all members of mankind, whose every act of willful rebellion proclaims itself the child of the original transgression. So the Law came in to make manifest the evil that was in us by birth and by nature (Rom. , 20), take away all our excuses, and reveal to us what we are — guilty sinners. It is only through the work of the Law — in its spirituality applied to the heart by the Holy Ghost — that sinners become convinced of their need of a saving interest in the Saviour from sin.
The Law entered and the offence abounded, or was multiplied, and God’s method of justification meets all these multiplied offences. The giving of the Law did not take away sin; that was not its purpose. It did not cause men to sin, nay, its purpose was to manifest sin, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. ), and it pronounces and holds sinners guilty and condemned before God (Rom. ; ). With fallen man, where there is Law, there will be transgression. “Wherefore then the law? It was added because of transgression” (Gal. ) — sin “by the commandment become exceedingly sinful” (Rom. 7:7,-8, 11-13). God’s purpose was to give His written Law so that sin would not only be revealed in sinful man, but made to appear in all its inherent depths, its blackness and enormity, and how infinitely opposed it is to His holiness and Divine nature. Our Lord shows the evil power of sin that He might also show the need for the righteous power of grace over it. The Holy Ghost uses the Law to open the sinner’s eyes and know his state. W. J. Berry wrote, “So in the fall of Adam; it was not in the decree of God merely that Adam should stumble in order to fall, but that through that fall salvation should come to man, to the praise to the glory of His grace (Rom. 11:11).”
“The offence abounded” — was multiplied. Adam’s first son (Cain) killed his brother; and by the time of Noah “the earth was full of violence” (Gen. 2:12-13). “And God saw the wickedness of man that it was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). So when the Law came in, it led not to obedience, but to extended transgression.
But, however bad sinners have become, the grace of God, in His Divine method of justification, is most fitted to rectify the elect — “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The free mercy and grace of God has made satisfaction for the pardon, not only of the first offence, but of all offences. The first use of the Law was the increase and manifestation of sin; the second use is particular and peculiar to the elect; to them only the grace of God is super abundant after that they have abounded in sin, and by how much greater is their guilt, by so much the greater is the grace of God in the free forgiveness thereof. Where sin overflowed, abounded and contaminated our every faculty, the grace of God in Christ did much more overflow in justification (Col. 1:21-22), in regeneration (
8:1), and in sanctification (2 Cor. ). The glory of grace by the redemption of Christ does much consist in its sufficiency for the pardon of the greatest sinners. God’s plan of the way of salvation is for this very end, to glorify His free grace. He had it in His heart from all eternity to glorify this attribute; and therefore it is, that the plan of saving sinners by Christ was conceived. The greatness of Divine grace appears very much in this, that God by Christ saves the greatest offenders. The greater the guilt of any sinner is, the more glorious and wonderful is the grace manifested in his pardon. The apostle Paul, when telling how great a sinner he had been, stresses the abounding of grace in his pardon, of which his great guilt was the occasion (1 Tim. ). The Redeemer is glorified, in that He proves sufficient to wash away the greatest guilt, in that He is able to save to the uttermost, and in that He redeems even from the greatest misery. Oh, poor sinners, no matter how great the sins we feel, we may cast ourselves upon the abounding grace of our merciful God who, in Christ, delights to show mercy (Micah ). Rom.
“Where sin abounded to condemn, grace hath much more abounded to justify. Where sin abounded to corrupt, grace hath much more abounded to soften and subdue. Where sin abounded to imprison men, grace hath much more abounded to proclaim liberty to the captives. Where sin abounded to break the Law and dishonor the Lawgiver, grace hath much more abounded to repair the breach and efface the stain. Where sin abounded to consume the soul as with unquenchable fire and a gnawing worm, grace hath much more abounded to extinguish the flame and heal the wound. Grace hath abounded! It hath established its throne on the merit of the Redeemer’s sufferings. It hath put on the crown, and laid hold of the golden scepter, and spoiled the dominion of the prince of darkness, and the gates of the great cemetery are thrown open, and there is the beating of a new life-pulse throughout its wretched population, and Immortality is walking among the tombs!
“This abounding grace is manifested in the gift of Jesus Christ, by whose mediation our reconciliation and salvation are effected. With Him, believers are dead unto sin and alive unto God. Our sins were slain at His cross and buried in His tomb. His resurrection hath opened our graves, and given us an assurance of immortality … ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.’ Glory to God for the death of His Son, by which this enmity is slain, and reconciliation is effected between the rebel and the law!” (Christmas Evans).
Verse 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. The word “That” refers to the design of our Lord in His saving economy: that He arranged, and so done, in order that this effect took place. This was His purpose from everlasting; and it shall stand, and He will do all His pleasure (Isa. 46:10). “Sin hath reigned,” and it must be noted that there is no mention in the whole Book of God of taking reigning sin for this or that particular sin; but of the reign of this indwelling, original lust, or fountain of all sin, there is frequent mention. Sin reigns, and such a person is under the power and dominion of sin, unconverted; and to have sin not to reign is to be converted, to have received a new principle of life from above. This evil nature is the only reigning sin; and whomsoever it is in its power and compass, as it is in all unregenerate men, in them, and in them only, doth sin reign, and every sin they commit is with full consent, in their exact willing obedience to their sovereign lord (sinful nature) that reigns in them. Sin has such power over men in their state of nature that it is represented as reigning unto death — death being the present actual condition of fallen man. “Sin hath reigned unto death” and “the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. ). “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law” (1 John 3:4). Whosoever transgresses is condemned by the Law of death. The Law is therefore the strength of sin. It is because of the curse of the Law that it reigns unto death. And the sinner is shut out from God’s favor under the Law. Till the Law’s claims are met, the favor of God can never be extended to the sinner. Sin reigns in the sinner as well as over him. The Law in its very holiness is thus indirectly the strength of sin as it reigns in the sinner’s heart.
In a state of regeneration and righteousness in Christ, God’s “grace reigns” and holiness becomes the governing principle of life (1 John 5:3-5; Rom. -14). In every regenerate man, though grace be never so weak, and corruption never so strong, yet the sovereignty belongs to grace. God reigns, sin hath reigned, and now grace reigns. Sin’s destroying reign and grace’s saving reign are both on earth under the rule of a sovereign God. And those over whom sin has reigned are those over whom grace does reign. Grace is Divine love to sinners and God loved sinners with an electing love from all eternity (2 Tim. 1:9). He purposed to save the objects of His love by His grace, in purpose, towards them. They were under the dreadful tyrant of the reign of sin, which is a reign unto death, and must end in death.
“So might grace reign through righteous,” therefore, until a righteousness which can meet the demands of God’s justice and the requirements of His Law, grace can never reign. But there is such a righteousness, wrought out by Another than the sinner. Only by eternal dying can the sinner himself satisfy Divine justice, and to satisfy it thus would put him for ever beyond the reach of grace. And the carnal mind in him “is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). It was Christ Who stood as the sinner’s Kinsman and Substitute. He must be his Kinsman, for the righteousness must be wrought out in human nature, and in that nature, He must stand in the relation to God which God in His sovereignty has, under the Law, assigned to Adam and his seed. But God has sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4:4). His work is the righteousness through which grace reigns. As the Substitute for His people, He represented them as guilty sinners and all charges against them were imputed to Him — “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all’ (Isa. 53:6). For these He made atonement by His blood. See here sin reigning unto death — it had condemning power over Him, because our sin was imputed to Him. And He victoriously has made an end of sin, having fully atoned by His death; sin has no dominion over Him. He died unto sin once, but He now lives unto God. As the elect sinners Substitute He represents them as subjects under the Law, meeting all of its claims for obedience. He has fulfilled all righteousness, and, now, grace reigns. Sin can no longer stand between grace and the sinner. Through Christ it has been magnified and made honorable. The sentence of death has been executed, and the promise of grace must therefore be fulfilled, and truth and mercy are now together in giving effect to the promise. Justice has no protest for never has it been glorified as by the righteousness of Emmanuel. The Magnified Law will not oppose the enthroning of grace.
Grace reigns “unto eternal life.” The Father’s eternal purpose in the reign of grace, and the everlasting efficacy and infinite value of the Lord Christ’s righteousness, was to bring eternal life to the elect. Christ came as the Second Adam to fulfill the Law and to exhaust its penalty, in order to purchase a title to eternal life for all He represented (Gal. 4:4-5). And it was all “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Eternal life, together with every other spiritual blessing, is conveyed to true believers through the continual mediation in Heaven of our enthroned Prophet, Priest, and King. In the application of this marvelous grace to His people the Holy Spirit works so that the requirements of justice and the demands of holiness are honored in their lives. Here too grace is to reign “through righteousness,” and not at the expense of it. Practicing antinomians and worldly church members, who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness in failing to insist that grace reigns through righteousness, and, lives not a life of practical holiness; know nothing of God’s grace. Grace teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, that we should live soberly, righteously and godly” (Titus -12). It is hirelings who harp continually on God’s grace, His promises, and nothing but faith being required by Him; and woefully fail to lay stress upon God’s holiness, His precepts, and obedience being indispensably necessary. Oh, the marvel of the grace of God in transforming sinners from rebels to loving, obedient bond slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In summary of this verse — Since all mankind (only Christ excepted) become guilty and die, through Adam; and since the elect taken from the world of mankind are justified, not only from their guilt through Adam, but also from the guilt contracted by themselves, and are not only restored to the life which Adam forfeited in Paradise, but raised to a royal, eternal life with the Lord Christ; surely if sin has reigned in death over all men, grace reigns more gloriously over her subjects, through righteousness unto eternal life; sorely though sin has reigned, grace does much more reign — and all this through Jesus Christ our Lord. The Holy Law sprinkled with the blood of His accepted sacrifice, is the throne of grace: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of God’s grace.” This is the apostle’s illustration of his statement — “Justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” RCLVC.
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 5:12-21
Verses 12. This argument of Paul in Romans 5 depends absolutely for its validity on the fact that as Jesus was a historical Person so Adam was a historical person. There cannot be a proper parallel between a mystical Adam and an historical Christ. Adam is a essential to the Christian system of theology as Jesus Christ is. Christ is, indeed, called in Scripture “the Second Adam” or “the last Adam.” Any theory which tends, as the common form of evolution does, to eliminate Adam as a real historical person, is destructive of Christianity. Yet this very thing is done by the common form of evolutionary theory. It has no more room for a real Adam than it has for a real fall of mankind into sin. And if Christ as the second Adam came to undo the harm done by the first Adam, then we must continue to believe in the reality of the first Adam. — J. G. Vos (1903-1983).
Adam’s sin hurts none but those that are in him: and Christ’s blood profits none but those that are in him. — John Flavel (1628-1691).
In Romans the apostle was not referring to the corrupting of mankind. It is true that as a result of our first parents’ sin the springs of human nature were polluted; but this is not what Paul was writing of. Instead he went behind that, and dealt with the cause of which moral depravity is just one of the effects. A corrupt tree indeed can produce nothing but corrupt fruit, but why are we born with corrupt hearts? This is more than a terrible calamity: it is a penal infliction visited on us because of our prior criminality. Punishment presupposes guilt, and the punishment is given to all because all are guilty; and since God regards all as guilty, then they must be participants in Adam’s offence. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
Union with Christ is of the same order, and involves the same class of effects, as our union with Adam. We call it a union both federal and vital. Others may call it what they please, but it will nevertheless remain certain that it is of such a nature as to involve an identity of legal relations and reciprocal obligations and rights. — A. A. Hodge (1823-1886).
Verse 13. “Sin was in the world,” i.e. men were sinners, and were so regarded and treated . . . If men were sinners, and were treated as such before the Law of Moses, it is certain that there is some other law, for the violation of which sin was imputed to them. — Charles Hodge (1797-1878).
Sin and death are an adamantine chain and link that none can sever. Who shall separate that which God in His justice hath put together? — Richard Sibbes (1577-1635).
Verse 14. (Romans 5:12-19). Here sin came with our Father Adam; condemnation came by him, for as the old catechisms stated, “We sinned in Adam.” We were in his loins, and we equally with our ancient ancestor deserve the death of the body. We have deserved the certain death that befalls us: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans ). In this world any reigning monarch is over all the land as supreme. You do not decide that you will “accept” him as ruler—he rules, for it is rightfully his territory. So death reigns, dominates and leads all his subjects down to certain dissolution. “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses” (vs. 14), all falling under his sovereign sway. None could escape him; the wisest or the weakest; the richest or the poorest; the freest or the most bound; the black man and the white man; both male and female—all must eventually be overrun by that monarch who began his work with them shortly after their birth—and would not be satisfied until he laid them in the dust . . . And this death came about because Adam sinned and we all sinned in our father Adam. And we sin every day and will continue in sin and under its power until God in grace sets us free and washes us in the blood of His Son.”
But remember that all cessation of life is by God’s almighty will and in His hands. There is a red letter day written down on God’s appointment book—it is the day when you must die! Then as death finds you, so eternity must hold you! Oh, that you and I might meet this grim reaper in peace, having been brought to recognize our sin and condemnation in the Fall, being brought to repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. “For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living” (Job 30:23). — Wylie W.
(b. 1939). Fulton
Verse 15. Do not believe the devil's lie about the atonement, that God thereby gives us a chance to be saved — knowing the condition of lost sinners, a “chance” of salvation is certain damnation! — Wylie W.
(b. 1939). Fulton
Every declaration of God to the sinner is on the principle of grace and gift, not an offer, which implies there is some capability in man to make use of the benefit offered. The offer of salvation is a denial of man’s total depravity as born in the Adam fall and ‘dead in trespasses and sins;’ it ignores the Gospel truth of the new birth and puts in its place man’s acceptance of the offer as the condition of Divine life. — John E. Hazelton
The grace of God does not find men fit for salvation, but makes them so. — Augustine (354-430).
Verse 16. Christ has done far more than remove the curse pronounced on us for the one sin of Adam; He procures our justification from our own innumerable offences. — Charles Hodge (1797-1878).
God gives not only generously but genuinely, not only with an open hand but with a full heart. — Anonymous.
Verse 17. THOSE who reject Christ as King have never truly received Him as Prophet or Priest. His yoke and His doctrine, His rule and His rest, go together. If His love does not make us obedient to His laws, we have no interest in His merits. We are not wise unto salvation till we bow to His authority. If we are partakers of His redemption, we are certainly partakers of His holiness. We may talk of His wonderful teachings, or boast of our interest in His amazing sacrifice, but it is all in vain so long as we refuse to own Him as our Leader and Commander. Wherever He comes to bless, He comes as Conqueror. His rule is as just as it is welcome to the penitent. “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living” (Rom. 14:9). — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
Like as Adam alone did personally break the first covenant by the all-ruining offence, yet they to whom his guilt is imputed, do thereupon become inherently sinful, through the corruption of nature conveyed to them from him; so Christ alone did perform the condition of the second covenant, and those to whom His righteousness is imputed, do thereupon become inherently righteous, through inherent grace communicated to them from Him by the Spirit. (Rom. ). How did death reign by Adam’s offence? Not only in point of guilt, whereby his posterity were bound over to destruction, but also in point of their being dead to all good, dead in trespasses and sins. Therefore the receivers of the gift of righteousness must thereby be brought to reign in life, not only legally in justification, but also morally in sanctification. — Thomas Boston (1676-1732).
Verse 18. It is a great salvation, for it welcomes the greatest sinners, asks no questions, makes no conditions; and, whether they are drawn or driven — drawn by the power of Divine love, or driven by the terrors of guilt — they are equally welcome. — David A. Doudney (1811-1893).
Christ is not only the Saviour but the salvation itself. — Matthew Henry (1662-1714).
Man does not “secure” the grace of God: the grace of God “secures” the activities of man. — B. B. Warfield (1851-1921).
Verse 19. It is God's sovereign, redeeming love which spreads out the bounds and limits of His salvation. But does this love embrace the whole race of Adam? Surely not, if there be any lost. The Bible plainly declares that some are lost, and as not one drop of the precious blood of Jesus Christ was shed in vain, we can only consistently conclude that none of it was shed for those not benefited thereby. The word “many” is often used in connection with the work of our blessed Redeemer (Isa.53:11, 12; Matt.26:28; Mark ; Heb. ; ), and from this word it is only reasonable to conclude that His work has some limitations. It should be carefully noted that universal terms are not to be stretched beyond that with reference to which they are used. Also universal terms are used with reference to those who are not the subjects of God's mercy: John ; ; ; I John 5:19; Rev. 16:14, etc. There is a vast difference between the expressions “all without distinction” and “all without exception.” That Jesus Christ died for all manner and classes of people, and that without distinction as regards their nationality and condition in life, I believe and rejoice in; but where is the comfort or sweetness in believing that He died for any of those lost? It is surely that element of certainty which gives His redeeming blood that assuring sweetness which believers rejoice in. And as no one has the least right to try to empty the blessed gospel of its saving declarations, I can only logically conclude that those not saved will simply be left in their sins to perish under divine justice. While this may seem very hard to many, but those who are really reconciled to God dare not call in question the sovereign right of the Almighty to do as "seemed good in His sight" (Luke 10:21; Rom. 9:15-24). — W. S. Craig (1867-1961).
Before God enlightened me into the righteousness of Christ and justification by it, I used to wonder how it was that, seeing Christ lived upwards of thirty three years upon earth, only His death, or at most the last week of His life, should be of any avail for the salvation of sinners; but, blessed be God, I have long since seen that Christ was all that time working out a perfect obedience for my acceptance with the Father. “By the obedience of One shall many be made righteous,” is a text that amply accounts for His having spent thirty three years below, previous to His crucifixion, and this obedience, together with His sufferings, received by faith, completely justifies a penitent sinner. — William Romaine (1714-1795).
As all mankind were in Adam, as their natural father and federal head, when he sinned, so they virtually sinned in him; and as all Christ’s spiritual seed were in Him as their public representative and federal Head, when He died for their sins and rose again for their justification, so they virtually died and rose in Him. — Allen.
By virtue of Christ’s union with the Church, which of His own accord He entered into, and His understanding therein to answer for it in the sight of God, it was a righteous thing with God to lay the punishment of all our sins upon Him, so that He might freely and graciously pardon them all, to the honor and exaltation of His justice as well as of His grace and mercy. — John Owen (1616-1683).
Verse 20. Where sin abounded to condemn, grace hath much more abounded to justify. Where sin abounded to corrupt, grace hath much more abounded to soften and subdue. Where sin abounded to imprison men, grace hath much more abounded to proclaim liberty to the captives. Where sin abounded to break the Law and dishonor the Lawgiver, grace hath much more abounded to repair the breach and efface the stain. Where sin abounded to consume the soul as with unquenchable fire and a gnawing worm, grace hath much more abounded to extinguish the flame and heal the wound. Grace hath abounded! It hath established its throne on the merit of the Redeemer’s sufferings. It hath put on the crown, and laid hold of the golden scepter, and spoiled the dominion of the prince of darkness, and the gates of the great cemetery are thrown open, and there is the beating of a new life-pulse throughout its wretched population, and Immortality is walking among the tombs! This abounding grace is manifested in the gift of Jesus Christ, by whose mediation our reconciliation and salvation are effected. With Him, believers are dead unto sin and alive unto God. Our sins were slain at His cross and buried in His tomb. His resurrection hath opened our graves, and given us an assurance of immortality … “The carnal mind is enmity against God; it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Glory to God for the death of His Son, by which this enmity is slain, and reconciliation is effected between the rebel and the law! — Christmas Evans (1766-1838).
GRACE is no other than God’s free favor and good will to men; it is no other than love unmerited and undeserved, exercising and communicating itself to them in a free and generous manner, which they are altogether unworthy of … The grace of God arises from the goodness of His nature, and not from anything in the creature; and is exercised according to His sovereign will and pleasure: “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious”— Exod. 33:19. It is independent of all merit and worth in creatures. — John Gill (1697-1771).
THE grace of God is more powerful than sin. “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. ). Here is the sinner’s only hope, although until quickened by the Spirit of God, he does not know it. No man can rescue himself from the tyranny of sin. Men may reform, but they cannot regenerate themselves. Men may give up their crimes and their vices, but they cannot, by their own strength, give up their sins. Can the Ethiopian change his skin? No. Can the leopard eliminate his spots? No. Sin abounded unto Paradise but grace abounds unto Paradise regained. Sin abounded unto man’s “shameful failure and loss.” Grace abounds unto man’s eternal riches in Christ. Without the intervention of saving grace the gates of mercy would have been forever closed. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might GRACE reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:21). In all the sixty-five hundred hymns Charles Wesley wrote, I doubt if there are any sweeter words than these: “Plenteous grace with Thee is found, Grace to cover all my sin.” — Robert G. Lee (1886-1978).
Verse 21. There is in sin a commanding and a condemning power. — Thomas Watson (1620-1686).
In His life Christ is an example showing us how to live; in His death, He is a sacrifice satisfying for our sins; in His resurrection, a conqueror; in His ascension, a King; in His intercession, a High Priest. — Martin Luther (1483-1546).
The capital of Heaven is the heart in which Jesus Christ is enthroned as King. — Anonymous.
If the second birth hath no place in you, the second death shall have power over you. — William Dyer (1600-1677).
Becoming a Christian is not a new start in life; it is receiving a new life to start with. — Anonymous.
We are never nearer to Christ than when we find ourselves lost in a holy amazement at His unspeakable love. — John Owen (1616-1683).
In verse 21 sin reigns; in verses 15 & 17 death reigns; in verse 21 grace reigns; and in verse 17 believers reign. Every person is under king sin or queen grace. Every one is ruled by death or rules on a throne with grace. Notice, grace reigns through righteousness. The justice of God was satisfied by the death of Christ before grace could sit on the throne as potentate. — Ferrell Griswold (1928-1982).