by Robert Haldane

Chapter 1.
Part 1.

Romans 1:1-15
Part 2.

Romans 1:16-32
Chapter 2.

Romans 2:1-29
Chapter 3.
Part 1.

Romans 3:1-20
Part 2.

Romans 3:21-31
Chapter 4.

Romans 4:1-25
Chapter 5.

Romans 5:1-21
Chapter 6.

Romans 6:1-23
Chapter 7.

Romans 7:1-25
Chapter 8.

Romans 8:1-39
Chapter 9.

Romans 9:1-33
Chapter 10.

Romans 10:1-21
Chapter 11.

Romans 11:1-36
Chapter 12.

Romans 12:1-21
Chapter 13.

Romans 13:1-14
Chapter 14.

Romans 14:1-21
Chapter 15.

Romans 15:1-33
Chapter 16.

Romans 16:1-27
Publishers Notes.3
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’Aubigné the writer of the classic “History of the Reformation,” Frédéric
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
César 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
What a distinguished French minister Dr. Reuben Saillens says of what
became known as “Haldane’s Revival” can be applied with equal truth to.5
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
(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.
March 1958.6
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.7
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.8
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.9
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.10
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.11
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..12
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..13
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
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.14
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.15
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,.16
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, notwithstanding 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.17
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, notwithstanding 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 ..18
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 indissoluby 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.19
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
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.20
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.21
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..22
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..23
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..24
ROMANS 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 the 16th and 17th verses, 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
Ver. 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,

Acts 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.25
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.26
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,

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.27
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,

1 Corinthians 9:1.
He had received his commission directly from Jesus Christ and God the

Galatians 1:1. He possessed the signs of an Apostle,

Corinthians 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

Galatians 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.28
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

Jeremiah 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,

Galatians 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.29
new covenant, and in all that was foretold respecting the advent of the
Ver. 2.— Which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy
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
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
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.30
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
Ver. 3. — Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which has made of
the seed of David according to the flesh f2 .
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
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,’

Matthew 1:21. The title Christ — that is,
Messiah, or ‘Anointed’, f3 — 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;.31
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.32
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 f4 . 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.33
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.
Ver. 4.— And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the
Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead..34
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.35
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,

Matthew 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,

Matthew 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,

Matthew 22:42, proves
that the phrase Son of God means sonship by nature. ‘What think ye of
Christ? Whose Son is He?’ This question evidently refers to proper, not
figurative sonship. When we ask whose son such a person is, it is
palpably evident that we mean real, not figurative sonship. 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,.36
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 sonship implies Deity.
In this Epistle, ch. 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 sonship. Jesus is called God’s own Son, — the beloved — the well
beloved Son, — the begotten — the only-begotten Son of God. This
sonship, then is a sonship 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 sonship 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..37
The phrase own Son imports the truth of the sonship 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 sonships.
That the words, I and my Father are one,

John 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 the 36th verse, 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. f5
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 sonship? 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.38
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 filiation of
the Son of God, because it overpasses the boundaries of our notions of
sonship, — 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

Romans 6:4, and

2 Corinthians 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,

Matthew 28:18,

John 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.39
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,’

2 Corinthians 3:17.
He is called ‘a quickening Spirit,’

1 Corinthians 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.40
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.’

Romans 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,

Matthew 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,’

Isaiah 40:3;

Malachi 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,

Luke 1:16, and

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

John 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,.41
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. f6
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 13:33. 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.42
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 sonship, because He had
claimed that character during His life, and had appealed in proof of it to
His rising from the dead,

John 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

Acts 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, ejn duna>mei — 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 sonship, in
any sense, from the resurrection of Christ, as against proper sonship. The.43
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 that God 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.
Ver. 5. — By Whom we have received grace and apostleship, for
obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name..44
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

Acts 6:7;

Romans 6:17,



2 Thessalonians 1:8;

1 Peter 1:22; and in

Romans 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,

1 John 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.45
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,

Galatians 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,’

Luke 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.46
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,

Romans 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,

Acts 9:15. This verse concludes the
general introduction to the Epistle; the easy transition to the particular
address should not pass unnoticed.
Ver. 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.47
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,

2 Corinthians 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

Isaiah 48:12, ‘Israel, my
called,’ that is, who are mine by the right of calling.
Ver. 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,

Ephesians 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.48
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
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,

Matthew 22:14.
‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness
have I drawn thee,’

Jeremiah 31:3. The election, then, of believers is to
be traced through their calling,

2 Peter 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,

Philippians 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.49
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.50
eternity, is planned and executed to ‘the praise of the glory of His grace,’

Ephesians 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,’

2 Timothy
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,

Acts 15:9, and that they purify

1 John 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,

Philippians 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;.51
while, on the other hand, considered in its exercise, it supposes the efforts
of man.
Peace includes everything that belongs to the idea of tranquillity 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.
Ver. 8. — First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, there
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..52
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,’ Psalms 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,’

Hebrews 13:1, 5. We can have no intercourse with God, but through the
one Mediator between God and man,

John 14:6; and except through
Him, we are not permitted even to return thanksgivings to God..53
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.54
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

Hebrews 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.55
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

Matthew 16:17;

Luke 17:5;

Acts 11:21,



Romans 12:3;

Philippians 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,

2 Timothy 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.56
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.
Ver. 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
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:.57
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,’

1 Thessalonians 5:18. ‘Be careful for nothing; but in everything by
prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made
known unto God,’

Philippians 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,

Ezekiel 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 the 5th verse, 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.’
Ver. 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 a journey. He asks of God that by some means now at length he.58
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!’
Ver. 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,

1 Corinthians 3:6. He appears to refer to some of the extraordinary gifts.59
conferred by the Apostles, by which they might be more established in
their most holy faith.
Ver. 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..60
Ver. 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, ch.

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,

1 Thessalonians 2:18; or he may have
been prevented by the Spirit of God,

Acts 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.61
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
Ver. 14. — I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, both to
the wise and to the universe.
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.62
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.
Ver. 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.63
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?.64
ROMANS 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.
Ver. 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.65
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,

2 Timothy 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.66
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,

Galatians 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 unsearchable 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

Isaiah 52:7, and

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.67
sharper than any two-edged sword. By it, as the word of truth, men are
begotten by the will of God,

James 1:18;

1 Peter 1:23; and through
the faith of the Gospel they are kept by His power unto salvation,

Peter 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,

Ephesians 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,

Romans 5:6; and also in opposition to the law, which cannot save, being
‘weak through the flesh,’

Romans 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..68
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,

Matthew 10:6; for, during the
abode of Jesus Christ upon earth, He was the minister only of the

Romans 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,’

Acts 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

Isaiah 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..69
Ver. 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, ch.

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,

Daniel 9:24. Looking forward to the revelation of
this righteousness, the Prophet

Isaiah, 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
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 ch.

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
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 whichsoever 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

Galatians 3:11, where he proves that men cannot be justified by the law,
and also in

Hebrews 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.71
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
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.’ f7 The subject of quotation by accommodation is one of such.72
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. f8 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

Galatians 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.73
written. The phrase, then, is indicative of true fulfillment or interpretation
of meaning.
In like manner, what is spoken of,

Matthew 13:14, and

John 12:39,
40, is, in

Romans 11:8, introduced with the phrase ‘it is written.’ By
the same phrase also is introduced,

Galatians 4:27, the reference to the
prophecy of Isaiah, 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

Galatians 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,

Matthew 2:5. This
phrase, then, they employed to indicate true fulfillment of prediction.
This very reference to Habakkuk is explained,

Galatians 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

Matthew 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.74
found in

Hosea 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

Isaiah 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
Some commentators refer to

Acts 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

Matthew 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.75
to in John’s Gospel as fulfilled in the Jews of our Lord’s time, ch.

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.76
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
‘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,

Corinthians 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?

1 Corinthians 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. f9
The declaration in the 16th and 17th verses, 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,.77
serves as the text or ground of the whole of the subsequent disquisition in
this and the following nine chapters.
Ver. 18. — For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all
ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in
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.78
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.79
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

2 Thessalonians 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.
Ver. 19. — Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them;
for God hath showed it unto them.
The Apostle here assigns the reason of what he had just affirmed
respecting the Gentiles as suppressing the truth in unrighteousness,.80
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,’

Psalm 147:19. But what may
be known of God by the works of creation, He has not concealed from
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.81
consequently that all we know of Him must be founded on His own
revelation, and not on the authority of any creature.
Ver. 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..82
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.83
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,

Corinthians 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,

Acts 14:17; and what is again said in ch. 2 of this
Epistle, ver.

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.84
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.
Ver. 21. — Because that, where 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, ch.

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,

Ephesians 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,

Ephesians 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..85
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 reasonings, that is,
speculations. — Paul calls all their philosophy reasonings, because they
related to words and notions, divested of use or efficacy. Some apply this.86
expression, ‘became vain in their reasonings,’ 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 reasonings 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 reasonings 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.
Ver. 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.87
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.88
this prove and illustrate the declaration of the Apostle, that professing
themselves to be wise, they became fools!
Ver. 23. — And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image
made like to corruptible man and to birds, and four-footed beast, 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 verse 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
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
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.
Ver. 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,.90
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.
Ver. 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.91
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.
Ver. 26. — For this cause and gave them up unto vile affections: for even
their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature.
Ver. 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.
Ver. 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
The Apostle shows here how justly the Pagan idolaters were abandoned
since they had so far departed from the right knowledge of God. In the.92
18th verse 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, — 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. f10 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..93
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.
Ver. 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.94
them all, and exemplified in their conduct and conversation, as is said, ch.

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.
Ver. 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.95
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,.96
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. f11
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.97
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
Ver. 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.98
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.
Ver. 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..99
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 verse 18,
against the whole Gentile world, first of ungodliness, and then of
unrighteousness as its consequence, against which the wrath of God is.100
revealed. It should also be observed that as, in another place,

Titus 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
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..101
ROMANS 2:1-29
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 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 the 25th verse 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.102
in the rest of the chapter, and whom he names in the 17th verse, ‘Behold,
thou art called a Jew.’
Ver. 1. — Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that
judges: 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..103
Thou art inexcusable. — Paul intended to bring in all men guilty before
God, as appears by what he says in the

19th verse of the third chapter,
‘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 a knowledge 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.104
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.
Ver. 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.105
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, ch. 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.106
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.
Ver. 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
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.107
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.
Ver. 4. — Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance,
and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to
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,

Deuteronomy 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

Psalm 103:10, and 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,.108
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 that God 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.109
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
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.
Ver. 5. — But, after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto
thyself wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God..110
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?’

Isaiah 5:4;
and again, ‘I have spread out My hands all the day unto a rebellious

Isaiah 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
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.112
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,

17:31, in which none will be acquitted except those whom the Lord, in His
representation of the judgment, calls the ‘righteous,’

Matthew 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.
Ver. 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,.113
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,

Matthew 11:22, 24;

Luke 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 this sort. f12 ‘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.114
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.
Ver. 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.115
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,’

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,’

Luke 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
the 10th verse, work good, both of which announce the full demand of the
law, are of the same import with the 13th verse, 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 the 18th
verse of the first chapter to the 20th of the third, where he arrives at his.116
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, ch.

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 the 7th and 10th verses of this chapter 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.117
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 the 13th verse, where the Apostle declares that the doers of
the law shall be justified.
Ver. 8. — But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth,
but obey unrighteous, 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.118
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.
Ver. 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 verse 2, meaning what is just. It signifies, too, the.119
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,’

Amos 3:2;

Matthew 11:22;

Luke 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.
Ver. 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..120
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

Galatians 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?’

11:35. 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.
Ver. 11. — For there is no respect of persons with God..121
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, ver. 2; which renders to every man
according to his deeds, ver. 6; and which has no respect of persons, ver.
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.
Ver. 12. — For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish
without law: and as many as have sinned in (or under) law shall be judged
by 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.122
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.
Ver. 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 the 12th
and 16th, explanatory of the two propositions contained in the 12th. Some
also include the 11th and 12th in the parenthesis. If this mode of
punctuation were adopted, the 13th, 14th, and 15th verses would be a
parenthesis within a parenthesis; but for this there is no occasion, as the
11th and 12th verses connect with the 10th, and also with the 16th. 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.123
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 this
13th verse, 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.124
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,

Hebrews 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,

Hebrews 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.
Ver. 14. — For when the gentiles, which have not a law, do by nature the
things contained in the law, these, having not a law, are a law unto
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 verse 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 the 12th verse, that as
many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law. He proves
it in two ways:.125
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.
Ver. 15. — Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their
conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile
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.126
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 reasonings (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 reasonings 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,.127
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,

2 Peter 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.128
than any other nation? Because, without any further reason, it was the
sovereign good pleasure of God.
Ver. 16. — In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus
Christ, according to any 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.129
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,’

Acts 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,


Revelation 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 of Divine 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
Ver. 17. — Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and
makest thy boast of God..130
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
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
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 f13 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.131
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

Deuteronomy 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
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,’

Ephesians 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,

Psalm 18,

62:7, and

Ver. 18. — And knowest His wall, 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.132
judgments, they have not known them,’

Psalm 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
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.
Ver. 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.
Ver. 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.133
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.
Ver. 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.134
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.
Ver. 22. — Thou that sayest a man should not 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

Galatians 5:20, and is called ‘abominable,’

1 Peter 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,

Nehemiah 13:10; and
of robbing God in tithes and offerings,

Malachi 3:8; also of violating and
profaning things sacred.
Ver. 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.135
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
It appears that in the above three verses the Apostle alludes to what is

Psalm 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..136
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
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.
Ver. 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

Isaiah 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

Ezekiel 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.138
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

Ezekiel 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.
Ver. 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,.139
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,

7:22, 23. In the first view, it was connected with all the privileges of.140

Philippians 3:4, 5; in the second, it was a part of the law,
whose righteousness is described,

Romans 10:5. f14
The Jews entirely mistook the object of the law,

Romans 5:20,

Galatians 3:19, which shut up all under sin,

Galatians 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,

Jeremiah 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 verses 7 and
10; but if there be any breach of it, circumcision is of no value for
Ver. 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, ch.

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.141
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.
Ver. 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,

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,.142
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.
Ver. 28. — For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that
circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Ver. 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.143
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, ch.

1:17, and resumed, ch.

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 the 7th,
8th, 9th, and 10th of the second chapter, 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, ch.

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.144
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

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
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.145
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..146
ROMANS 3:1-20.
THIS chapter consists of three parts. The first part extends to the 8th
verse inclusively, and is designed to answer and remove some objections to
the doctrine previously advanced by the Apostle. In the second part, from
the 9th to the 20th verses, 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 verse 21, where the Apostle reverts to the declaration,

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.
Ver. 1 — What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of
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.147
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?
Ver. 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.148
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,

Isaiah 2:3; and through them possessed the high character of the
witnesses of God,

Isaiah 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

Isaiah 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,

John 1:45, ‘We have found Him of whom.149
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.
Ver. 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.150
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, ch.

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,

Isaiah 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;.151
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..152
‘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.
Ver. 4. — God forbid: yea, let and be true, but every man a liar; as it is
written, that Thou might be justified in Thy sayings, and might 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..153
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

Psalm 51:4, the meaning will be clear, if we have recourse
to the history referred to in the Second Book of Samuel, ch.

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 the 4th verse of the Psalm: — ’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..154
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.
Ver. 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, ch. 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.155
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.
Ver. 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.
Ver. 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 the 5th verse. 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.156
what had been advanced in the 5th verse. In the preceding verse he had, in
his usual brief but energetic manner, first repudiated the consequence
alleged in the 5th verse, 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 kajgw> 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.
Ver. 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..157
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 reasonings 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.
Ver. 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 the 20th verse, 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 verses 21, 22, 23, and
24, the means that God has provided for our justification, which he had
briefly announced, ch.

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..158
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

Galatians 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,

Romans 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
verse 19, ‘that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may
become guilty before God.’
Ver. 10. — As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one..159
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 of Jews 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 verses 11 and 12, are taken

Psalms 14: and

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.160
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?

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?

Matthew 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 the 9th and 19th verses. The 9th verse speaks of both Jews
and Gentiles; and the purpose of the 19th evidently is to prove that the
Jews are not excepted; while the 20th 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 the 18th verse of the first chapter,
respecting both Jews and Gentiles, of whom he affirms in the 9th verse
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.161
not righteousness the fulfilling of the law? ‘And do not the Scriptures
testify and everywhere show that ‘there is no man that sinneth not’?

Kings 8:46. ‘Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my

Proverbs 20:9. ‘For there is not a just man upon earth; that doeth
good and sinneth not,’

Ecclesiastes 7:20. And the Apostle James,
including himself as well as his brethren to whom he wrote, declares, ‘In
many things we all offend’. f15
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.’.162
Ver. 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,

Ephesians 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

Matthew 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,

Isaiah 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.163
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.
Ver. 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.
Ver. 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

Psalm 5:9, and the last from

Psalm 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.164
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.’
Ver. 14. — Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.
This is taken from

Psalm 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,’

Psalm 64:3,

‘The tongue,’ says the Apostle James, ‘is set on fire of hell.’
Ver. 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

Isaiah 59:7, and from

Proverbs 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..165
Ver. 16. — Destruction and misery are in their ways.
This declaration, taken also from

Isaiah 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
Ver. 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.
Ver. 18. — There is no fear of and before their eyes.
This is taken from

Psalm 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,

Isaiah 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.166
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, ver. 10, prefers the general charge of
unrighteousness; the second, vers. 11, 12, marks the internal character or
disorders of the heart; the third, vers. 13, 14, those of the words; the
fourth, vers. 15, 16, 17, those of the actions; and the last, ver. 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.167
natural depravity of fallen man will burst forth in all its unbridled and
horrible wickedness.
Ver. 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 the Jews; 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

Psalm 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..168
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

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

Daniel 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.169
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 reasonings, 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.
Ver. 20. — Therefore by the deeds of law there shall no flesh be justified in
His sight; for by law is the knowledge of sin.
This is the final conclusion drawn from the whole of the preceding
discussion, beginning at verse 18th of chapter first. 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.170
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, verse 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

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 before God; 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 Psalms 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.171
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
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,

Galatians 3:22; Romans 11 32..172
ROMANS 3:21-31
AT the opening of his discussion, ch. 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.
Ver. 21. — But now the righteousness of God without 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,

Acts 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,

John 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,’

Ephesians 1:10;

Galatians 4:4. ‘The last days,’

Isaiah 2:2;

Hebrews 1:2;

Acts 2:17;

1 John 2:18. ‘The acceptable
year of the Lord,’

Isaiah 61:2. ‘Now is the accepted time; behold, now is
the day of salvation,’

2 Corinthians 6:2. The day of the Savior that
Abraham saw,

John 8:56..173
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

Matthew 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,

Romans 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.174
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

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

Romans 1:16 to the end of the fifth chapter, inconclusive and self
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,.175
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,

Romans 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.176
His law, which His justice will accept, and which is upon all them that
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 chapter
4:3. f16
Mr. Stuart, in his translation of the Epistle, renders this phrase, in

Romans 1:17, and

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 ch. 1:17, and 3:21, which he
makes justification, is righteousness; and this meaning will apply in the.177
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
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.178
doctrine of those who oppose the view of it which he adopts. On verse 22
he says, ‘What that dikaiosu>nh dev 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 the fourth chapter treating of the same thing of which he is treating in
this chapter, from the 21st verse. 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..179
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

Psalm 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,’

Romans 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.180
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,

Romans 10:3, must be a righteousness wrought by Jehovah. As in

Corinthians 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,’

Isaiah 61:10..181
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 its AUTHOR, for it is the righteousness not of creatures
but of the Creator. ‘I the Lord have created it,’

Isaiah 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, ch.

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

2 Corinthians 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
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,.182
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,’

Isaiah 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,’

Zechariah 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 its AUTHOR 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,’

Galatians 3:13. Justice therefore required that He should fulfill.183
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 the 22nd Psalm, was
then piercing His in most 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.184
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
NATURE from all other righteousness, and is of an order infinitely higher.185
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
DURATION. 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,’

Daniel 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,’

Isaiah 51:6, 8. ‘Thy righteousness is an
everlasting righteousness,’

Psalm 119:142. ‘By one offering He hath
perfected for ever them that are sanctified,’

Hebrews 10:14. ‘By His.186
own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal

Hebrews 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 paramount INFLUENCE 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,’

1 John 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.187
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, ch. v. 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
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, ch.

6:1. And Christ, it is said,

Romans 10:4,.188
is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. In each
of these passages the word used for ‘perfection,’ f17 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 the 28th verse of this chapter, and in the fifth verse of the fourth
chapter, in a manner so explicit, as to place his meaning beyond all
question. In the same sense he declares,

Galatians 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,

Galatians 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,

Matthew 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,

John 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.189
the ‘ministration of righteousness,’

2 Corinthians 3:9. By that
dispensation, and not by the law, righteousness is come,

Galatians 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

Philippians 3:9. Peter addresses his Second Epistle to those who
had obtained precious faith in the righteousness of our God and Savior
Jesus Christ,

2 Peter 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,

Luke 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,

Genesis 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

Genesis 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.190
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,

Deuteronomy 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
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,

2 Peter 2:5;

Hebrews 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.’

Psalm 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,’

Psalm 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,’

Psalm 85:10, 13. ‘In Thy name shall they rejoice all the day;
and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted,’

Psalm 89:16. ‘Thy
righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,’

Psalm 119, 142. ‘They
shall abundantly utter the memory of Thy great goodness, and shall sing of
Thy righteousness,’

Psalm 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

Isaiah 42:21. ‘Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let.191
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,’

Isaiah 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,’

Isaiah 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,’

Isaiah 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,’

Isaiah 51:5, 7. ‘By His knowledge shall
My righteous servant justify many,’

Isaiah 61:11. ‘This is the heritage
of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the

Isaiah 54:17. ‘Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do
justice: for My salvation is near to come, and My righteousness to be

Isaiah 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

Isaiah 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,’

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,

Jeremiah 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,’

Daniel 9:24. ‘It is time
to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you,’

10:12. ‘But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness
arise with healing in His wings,’

Malachi 4:2. To Balaam, who beheld.192
the Savior at a distance, He appeared as a star; ‘There shall come a Star
out of Jacob,’

Numbers 24:17; while to Malachi, the last of the
Prophets, on His nearer approach, He appeared as the sun.
Ver. 22. — When the righteousness of and, which is by faith of Jesus
Christ unto all and upon all their that believe.
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 the 17th verse of chapter first, 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,

Romans 3:22; the righteousness of faith,

Romans 4:11, 13; and the
righteousness which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which
is of God by faith,

Philippians 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.193
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

Isaiah 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,

Revelation 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,

Revelation 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

1 Corinthians 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.194
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
Ver. 23. — (For there is no difference; 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,’

Romans 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.’.195
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 (

Romans 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,’

Timothy 2:10.
Ver. 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,.196
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.197
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,

Philippians 3:9. ‘Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I

Isaiah 45:24. He is complete in Christ,

2:10, who, by one offering, hath for ever perfected him,

Hebrews 10:14.
In Him the law has been fulfilled,

Romans 8:4; his sin has been made
Christ’s, and the righteousness which God requireth by the law has been.198
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,’

2 Corinthians 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.’ f18 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,’

Matthew 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.199
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, ch. 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,’

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

John 15:25. ‘Freely’ (gratuitously) ye have receded, freely give,

Matthew 10:8;

2 Corinthians 11:7;

2 Thessalonians 3:8; ‘For
naught’ (gratis),

Revelation 21:6, and

22:17; or without price, as.200

Isaiah 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 verse 16th of that chapter 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,’

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,’

Romans 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..201
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,’

Nehemiah 1:10. ‘I will redeem you with
a stretched out arm,’

Exodus 6:6;

Psalm 77:15. The resurrection of
the body by an act of Divine power is called a redemption,

Psalm 49:15;

Romans 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,’

1 Peter 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,

Matthew 20:28;

1 Corinthians 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

1 Peter 1:18. ‘Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by
Thy blood,’

Revelation 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,’

Ephesians 1:5-8;

Colossians 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 the Book of

Leviticus, ch. 25, where we and regulations laid
down for a twofold redemption, a redemption of persons and a.202
redemption of possessions. The redemption of possessions or inheritances
is regulated, verses 23-28, and that of persons, from verse 47 to the end of
the chapter. 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,’

Psalm 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,’

Hosea 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.203
blood.’ His blood, then, is the price by which we have redemption, ‘even
the forgiveness of sins,’

Colossians 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 of RIGHTEOUSNESS. 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.204
whole law. After doing all that is possible for him in the way of obedience,
he must confess himself to be an unprofitable servant,

Luke 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.’
Ver. 25. — When 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,’

1 Peter 1:20. To be a
propitiation. — Some understand this as meaning a propitiatory, signifying
the mercy-seat, as the same word is translated,

Hebrews 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

1 John 2:2, and

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

Hebrews 2:17, where the corresponding verb is used, to make
reconciliation for (to propitiate) the sins of the people; and ‘God be.205
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. f19
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, ch.

1:17, to which the
Apostle had recurred in the 21st and 22nd verses of this chapter, 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 the 21st and
22nd verses, 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.206
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 verses 21, 22, appears
unquestionable, from the reason given in this 25th 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 the 21st verse it is asserted that the
righteousness of God is now manifested; and in the 25th verse 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 the first and second chapters,
and down to the 21st verse of the chapter 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.207
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,

Daniel 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

Hebrews 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,’

Hebrews 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. f20
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,

2 Corinthians
Ver. 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.208
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,’

Psalm 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.209
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.
Ver. 27. — Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works?
Nay; but by the law of faith..210
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,.211
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.
Ver. 28. — Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without
the deeds of the law.
Therefore we conclude. — In the 20th verse 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. f21.212
Without the deeds of the law, literally without works of law, for here, as in
verse 31st, 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,

Titus 3:5.
Ver. 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
Ver. 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,

Romans 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.213
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

Galatians 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.’
Ver. 31. — Do we then make void law through faith God forbid: yea, we
establish 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 verse 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,

1 Corinthians 1:28; or ‘destroy,’

Corinthians 6:13, and

15:26; ‘done away,’

2 Corinthians 3:7-14;

Ephesians 2:15;

2 Timothy 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.214
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 ch.
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, f22 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.’ f23 Accordingly, in
this interpretation of the

21st verse of chapter 3, 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,.215
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.216
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 the 28th verse, 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..217
ROMANS 4:1-25
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’s doctrine, 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
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.218
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,’

Romans 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
Ver. 1 — What shall we then say that Abraham, our father as pertaining to
the flesh, hath found?.219
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 the Jews 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,

Philippians 3:4..220
The expression, to the flesh, should rather be translated by the flesh, as
the word here translated as pertaining to, is rendered, ch. 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’s justification? 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.
Ver. 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.
Ver. 3. — For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it
was covered 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,.221
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

Genesis 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,

Genesis 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,

Galatians 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, ch.

1:16, the
Gospel is the power of God unto salvation; and ch.

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, ch.

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.222
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

Romans 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 the 28th verse of the
foregoing chapter, 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 the Gospel. 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.223
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 of eternal 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

Galatians 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.224
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,

Peter 1:1. (This is the literal rendering.) And also by the Prophet

Jeremiah 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.
Ver. 4. — Now to him that worketh in 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
Ver. 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.225
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,

Romans 5:6;

1 Timothy 1:9;

1 Peter

2 Peter 2:5,


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, ch.

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.226
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

Acts 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
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.227
difference between coming to God 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,’

Genesis 12:4, many years
before the time of the declaration recorded in

Genesis 15:6. On the.228
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 the 4th and 5th verses 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 believer. ‘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.
Ver. 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

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 verses 3, 4, 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 ch.

5:19 His ‘obedience.’ ‘Here we see,’ says Calvin, ‘the mere cavil of.229
those who limit the works of the law 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)
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,

Acts 4:25. The effect of Mr. Stuart’s misunderstanding the expression,
‘the righteousness of God,’ ch. 1:17, and 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.231
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 term sin 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.232
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,’ ch.

3:22; Jehovah is his righteousness,

Jeremiah 23:6.
God is therefore just in justifying him; and in the day of judgment the
Great Judge will pronounce him ‘righteous,’

Matthew 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,’

5:21, — in that way which meets every demand of law and justice. This.233
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, ch. 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.’
Ver. 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,

Numbers 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.234
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,

Romans 6:7. His sins are for ever covered, as being
cast into the depths of the sea,

Micah 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,’

Isaiah 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,

Romans 8:33. Being stripped of the
filthy garments, and clothed with a change of raiment,

Zechariah 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,’

Isaiah 61:10. ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I
will remember their sin no more,’

Jeremiah 31:34. ‘As far as the east is
from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us,

Psalm 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.’
Ver. 8. — Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin..235
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,

Galatians 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, ver. 13; and this truth the Apostle establishes not only in the
person of Abraham, but also extends it to all the people of God, ver. 16. In
the eighth chapter of this Epistle, 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

Malachi 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.
Ver. 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.236
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, ch.

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.
Ver. 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.
Ver. 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. f24
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.237
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.
Ver. 12. — And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the
circumcision only, but unto 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.238
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,’

Romans 9:6.
This is also established by our Lord Himself, who denied that the
unbelieving Jews were the children of Abraham,

John 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,

Romans 11:24; and to be Abraham’s seed,

Ver. 13. — For the promise, that he should be the heir of the word, was
not to Abraham, or to his seed, through 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,’

Hebrews 11:9.
This he understood it to be, and accordingly to the former he looked
forward as what was substantially promised,

Hebrews 11:13, 16. This
was ‘that world,’ as it is designated by our Lord,

Luke 20:35, — a
possession so often called an inheritance,

Hebrews 9:15;

1 Peter 1:4,.239
of which not only Abraham, but also his spiritual posterity, were
constituted heirs. They were to inherit all things,

Revelation 21:7; and
although the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, yet all things
are theirs,

1 Corinthians 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,’

Romans 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,

Luke 12:32; of a crown,

2 Timothy
4:8; and of a throne,

Revelation 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,

Galatians 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,’

Many are spoken of before Abraham as the children of God; but we do
not read that the first promise respecting the seed, Genesis 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,

Genesis 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,’

Isaiah 61:3. ‘Thy people shall be all
righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever,’

Isaiah 60:21.
Ver. 14, 15. — For if they which are of law be heirs, faith is made void,
and the promise made of none effect: for the law worketh wrath: for where
no law is there is no transgression..241
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 ch. 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, ch. 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..242
Ver. 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 the 13th verse, that the promise of the
inheritance was not through obedience to law, but through the
righteousness received by faith, and having in the 14th and 15th verses
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,’

Romans 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, ch.

3:27, boasting is excluded, and he is saved, not of works, but by grace
through faith,

Ephesians 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.243
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,’

Isaiah 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 verses 9 and 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.
Ver. 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.244
country. Before Him. — At that moment, when he stood in the presence
of God whom he believed,

Genesis 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.
Ver. 18. — Who against hope believed in hope, f25 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.245
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.
Ver. 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..246
Ver. 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

Matthew 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,

8:10. He had not found so great faith in Israel. The Apostles, also,
addressing Jesus, pray, ‘Lord, increase our faith,’

Luke 17:5. In the
same manner, the Apostle Paul speaks of the ‘measure of faith,’

Romans 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.247
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.
Vers. 21, 22. — And being fully persuaded that what He had promised He
was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for
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.
Ver. 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.248
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,

Hebrews 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,

Acts 15:18.
Ver. 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.
Ver. 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.249
determined before to be done

Acts 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,’

Acts 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,’

Genesis 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 the 12th verse, he says, ‘Our father
Abraham,’ and, in the 16th, ‘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 the 24th and 25th verses, for whose offenses Jesus was
delivered, and for whose justification He was raised again. They are those.250
whom the Father had given Him,

John 6:37, 17:2;

Hebrews 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,

2 Timothy 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,

Titus 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,

1 Peter 2:24. He was
quickened by the Spirit,

1 Peter 3:18; by whom He was also justified,

1 Timothy 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
ROMANS 5:1-21
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.
Ver. 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.252
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,

John 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,’

Isaiah 45:8; and of which the Spirit, when He comes,
brings with Him the conviction,

John 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,

Hebrews 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.253
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
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,’

Isaiah 42:21. ‘The work of
righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and
assurance for ever,’

Isaiah 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.’
Ver. 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.254
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 vail; 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,

1 Peter 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,’

Jeremiah 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

Philippians 1:25, and is made a distinguishing characteristic of the

Philippians 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,.255
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,

John 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
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.256
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,

Colossians 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,

Hebrews 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,

Hebrews 6:11.
Ver. 3. — And not only so, but hope 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,

Hebrews 12:6;

Revelation 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,

Acts 14:22.
The greatest tribulations are among those things that work together for his
good. God comforts him in the midst of his sorrows,

2 Corinthians 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.257
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

James 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.
Ver. 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.
Ver. 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..258
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,

Galatians 6:14;

1 Peter 1:6-8, 5:1;

1 John 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.259
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. f26 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,

John 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,’

1 John 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,

Romans 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,

Romans 8:7; and it is only
when they have a view of His love thus given by the promised Comforter,.260
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;

Ephesians 2:22;

Romans 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.261
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,

1 Peter 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,

Acts 15:9; faith
works by love,

Galatians 5:6. Faith overcomes the world,

1 John 5:4.
Ver. 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
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,

Galatians 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,

1 Timothy 2:6. For the
ungodly. — Christ died for us, considered as ungodly, and without His gift.262
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.
Ver. 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,

John 15:13.
‘Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid His life down for

1 John 3:16.
Ver. 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..263
Ver. 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 the 10th, 15th, and 17th
verses, 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,’

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. f27 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,.264
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.265
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,

Romans 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,

Galatians 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.
Ver. 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.266
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
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,

1 Samuel 29:4;

Matthew 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

Numbers 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.267
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,’

85:2, 3. ‘Though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away,
and Thou comfortedst me,’

Isaiah 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,

Leviticus 8:15


2 Chronicles 29:24) toward thee for all that thou hast done,
saith the Lord God,’

Ezekiel 16:63.
All men being sinners, are in themselves, while in unbelief, under the
displeasure of God, who cannot look upon iniquity,

Habakkuk 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.268
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,

Hebrews 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,

John 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,’

Romans 8:34. For us, that is, for those
whom the Apostle is addressing as beloved of God, and called,, and saints,
ch. 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.269
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.
Ver. 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.270
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 believer.
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 verse 2 is rendered
rejoice, and in verse 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,
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!

Philippians 3:1,

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.271
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,’

Revelation 5:9. ‘Without shedding of blood is no remission, for it is the
blood that maketh an atonement for the soul,’

Hebrews 9:22;

Leviticus 17:11. The blood is the life,

Deuteronomy 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.272
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

1 John 1:9. Believers have redemption through His
blood, even the forgiveness of sins,

Ephesians 1:7;

Colossians 1:14.
Ye are bought with a price,

1 Corinthians 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,’

1 Peter 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.273
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
As Christ prayed not,

John 17:9, f28 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,

Matthew 25:34; thus discharging for them, and for.274
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.275
blood a price of redemption for those whom He had not in charge to
‘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

Hebrews 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,

Hebrews 9:12; and so His intercession must be for
all for whom the oblation was made, and the eternal redemption was
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.276
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
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.277
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 verse 12 to 19.
Having spoken of justification by faith, and having called our attention to.278
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 verses 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.279
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 12-19 ‘are designed at once to confirm the statement made in
ch. 3:23-30, and 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 the Jews, 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.280
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
Ver. 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.281
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 the 15th and following verses, to the end of the
18th verse, and then in the 19th sums up the whole discussion which
properly follows from the declaration in the 11th verse of the
Wherefore. — This introduces the conclusion which the Apostle draws in
the 18th verse, but which is for a few moments interrupted by the
explanatory parenthesis interposed from verse 13th to 17th inclusive. It
connects with what goes before from the beginning of the 10th verse,
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 the 17th verse. In the 18th verse 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.282
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. f29 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.283
were all created in him; and in the guilt of his sin, as well as its
consequence, they became partakers. f30 These truths, that sin, death, and
condemnation come upon all by one man, are clearly expressed in the
following verses, 15, 16, 17, 18, 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,
f31 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.
Ver. 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.284
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.
Ver. 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.285
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,.286
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 verses
13 and 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.287
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
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.288
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
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,

1 Corinthians 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.289
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
Ver. 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,

Ephesians 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 (ver.
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..290
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.
Ver. 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.291
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.
Ver. 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.292
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,’

Colossians 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.
Ver. 18. — Therefore, 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 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.293
original corresponding to the terms judgment and free gift, but they are
rightly supplied by an ellipsis from verse 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.294
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. f32 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
‘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, “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 verses 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 verses 18 and
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 verses 15-17 express, is not the.295
whole of mankind. It will not be pretended that all men obtain justification
(ver. 16), or that all “shall reign in life through Jesus Christ” (ver. 17). In
these verses the second member cannot be understood as comprising the
entire human race; and as, confessedly, the phrase “all men” (see


2 Corinthians 3:2) may be used in a limited signification, there is
no obvious reason why, in verse 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 superabound 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 superabounding 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.’ f33
Ver. 19. — For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,
so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous..296
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.297
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 the 12th verse, and
asserts, in plain terms, two grand truths, on which the Gospel in all its
parts proceeds, though by many they are strenuously opposed, and by
others only partially admitted. In the 12th verse, the Apostle had said that
death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. In the 13th and 14th
verses, 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 the 17th, he had asserted the opposite
effects that follow from the sin of the one and the righteousness of the
other. In the 18th verse, 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 19th verse 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.298
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 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 the world 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
the 15th and 17th verses, he says that through the offense of one many are
‘dead,’ and that death reigned; and in verse 16, that the judgment was by
one to ‘condemnation;’ and this he repeats in the 18th verse, 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, where he repeats or sums up all that he had asserted in the.299
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,’

Ephesians 2:10, with whom he is one,

Galatians 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.300
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.301
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.302
— 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.303
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 the
sin 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 the Divine 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.304
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.305
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, ch.

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.306
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 consisteth in the guilt of
Adam’s first sin.’
Ver. 20. — Moreover; the law entered, that the offense might abound; but
where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.
The Apostle had now arrived at the conclusion of the discussion,
commencing at the

17th verse of the first chapter, 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

Galatians 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 the 13th verse, and to show that it had been introduced.307
in order that on the one hand the abounding of sin might be made manifest,
and on the other the superabounding 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 verse 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,’

Genesis 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,

Galatians 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, ch. 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.308
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,’

Proverbs 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.309
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.’
Ver. 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,

Revelation 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

Romans 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.310
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,

Ephesians 2:1;

Colossians 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
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.311
do so at the expense of law and justice, and dishonor the whole Divine
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, ch. 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 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, ch.

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.312
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
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

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.313
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.314
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 f34 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
‘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.315
need either to write it anew, or to expound it on some unheard-of
‘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 (

Galatians 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.316
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

Corinthians 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.317
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,.318
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
‘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,”

Ezekiel 18:20. We had always understood that the fundamental laws of
God’s moral government were embodied in the Decalogue. And there we
read (

Exodus 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.319
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.320
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.321
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 Socinianism 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.’.322
ROMANS 6:1-23
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 (ver. 11) on those whom he addresses the duty
of being convinced that such is their actual state. In verses 12 and 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.323
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.
Ver. 1:— What shall we say then? Shall use 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.
Ver. 2. — God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer
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..324
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 the 7th verse, they are justified from it. In the
seventh chapter, 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.325
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.326
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, verse 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.327
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
verses 3rd and 4th 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,

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, ch.

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.328
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 the 9th and 10th verses, 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.329
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, ch.
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.330
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.
Ver. 3. — Know ye not, that so many of was 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 the 10th verse 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,’

Hebrews 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 the 5th and 8th
verses, 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.331
Him, operates as a powerful motive to the love of God, is shown,

Corinthians 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 mind soon turned the figure into
a reality. It appears to the impatience of man too tedious and ineffectual a
way to wait on God’s method of converting sinners by His Holy Spirit
through the truth, and therefore they have effected this much more
extensively by the performance of external rites. When, according to many,.332
the rite is observed, it cannot be doubted that the truth denoted by it has
been accomplished. The same disposition has been the origin of
Transubstantiation. The bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper are
figuratively the body and blood of Christ; but they have been turned into
the real body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Lord, and the external rite
has become salvation.
So many of us. — This does not imply that any of those to whom the
Apostle wrote were not baptized, for there could be no room for such a
possibility. It applies to the whole of them, as well as to himself, and not
merely to a part. It amounts to the same thing as if it had been said, ‘We
who were baptized;’ as in

Acts 3:24, ‘As many as have spoken,’ that is,
all who have spoken, for all the Prophets spoke.
Ver. 4. — Therefore we are buried with him baptism into death: that like
as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so
we also should walk in newness of life.
The death of Christ was the means by which sin was destroyed, and His
burial the proof of the reality of His death. Christians are therefore
represented as buried with Him by baptism into His death, in token that
they really died with Him; and if buried with Him, it is not that they shall
remain in the grave, but that, as Christ arose from the dead, they should
also rise. Their baptism, then, is the figure of their complete deliverance
from the guilt of sin, signifying that God places to their account the death
of Christ as their own death: it is also a figure of their purification and
resurrection for the service of God.
By the glory of the Father. — The exercise of that almighty power of God,
by which, in various passages, it is asserted that Christ was made alive
again, was most glorious to God who raised Him up. Christ’s resurrection
is also ascribed to Himself, because He was a partaker with the Father of
that power by which He was raised. ‘I lay down my life, that I might take
it again.’ ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ To
reconcile these and similar passages with those that ascribe His
resurrection to the Father, it must be observed, that if the principle be
regarded by which our Lord was raised up, it is to be referred to that
Divine power which belongs in common to the Father and the Son. The
Son was raised equally by His own power as by that of His Father,.333
because He possessed the Divine as well as the human nature. But as in
the work of redemption the Father acts as the sovereign ruler, it is He who
has received the satisfaction, and who, having received it, has given to the
Son its just recompense in raising Him from the dead. His resurrection,
then, in this view, took place by the decree of the Eternal Father,
pronounced from His judgment throne.
Even so we also should walk in newness of life. — It is the purpose of our
rising with Christ, that we also, by the glory or power of the Father,

Corinthians 13:4, should walk in newness of life. The resurrection of
Christ was the effect of the power of God, not in the ordinary way of
nature, but of a supernatural exertion of power. In the same manner,
believers are raised to walk in newness of life. It is thus that, when Paul,

Ephesians 1:20, exalts the supernatural virtue of grace by which we are
converted, he compares it to the exceeding greatness of that power by
which Christ was raised from the dead. This shows the force of the
Apostle’s answer to the objection he is combating. Believers are dead to
the guilt of sin, and if so, the ground of their separation from God being
removed His almighty power is engaged and asserted to cause them to
walk with their risen Lord in that new life which they derive from Him. It
was, then, the purpose of Christ’s death that His people should become
dead to sin, and alive unto righteousness. ‘Who His own self bare our sins
in His own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins, should live unto

1 Peter 2:24. On this same ground, when viewing it
simply as a motive, Paul reminds believers that since they are dead with
Christ, they should set their affections on things above, and not on things
on the earth, assuring them that when He who is their life shall appear,
then shall they also appear with Him in glory,

Colossians 3:4. And
again he declares, ‘If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him,’

2 Timothy 2:11.
Dr. Macknight is greatly mistaken when he applies what is said in this
verse to the new life, which does not take place till after the resurrection of
the body. This destroys the whole force of the Apostle’s reasoning, who
is showing that believers cannot continue in sin, not only as they are dead
to sin, but as they are risen with Christ, thus receiving a new and
supernatural life, for the purpose of walking in obedience to God..334
Ver. 5. — For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His
death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection:
For if. — The conditional statement is here evidently founded on what is
premised. The Apostle does not pass to a new argument to prove that we
are dead with Christ; but, having asserted the burial of the Christian with
Christ in baptism, he goes on to show that his resurrection with Him is
equally implied. If we have been buried with Christ, so we shall rise with
Him. Planted together. — The word in the original, when it refers to trees,
designates planting them in the same place or bed. It signifies the closest
union of any kind, as being incorporated, growing together, joined with,
united. The meaning, then, is, that as in baptism we have been exhibited as
one with Christ in His death, so in due time we shall be conformed to Him
in the likeness of His resurrection.
We shall be. — The use here of the future tense has caused much
perplexity respecting the connection of this verse with the preceding, and,
contrary to its obvious meaning, the present time has been substituted.
But, while the proper force of the future time is preserved, the two verses
stand closely connected. Both a spiritual and a literal resurrection are
referred to in the emblem of baptism; but, in the preceding verse, the
former only is brought into view, as being that which served the Apostle’s
immediate purpose. In this verse, in employing the future tense, he refers
to the literal resurrection hereafter, as being inseparably connected with
what he had just advanced concerning walking in newness of life; and thus
he unfolds the whole mystery included in dying and rising with Christ,
both in this world and the world to come. Believers have already been
raised spiritually with Christ to walk with Him on earth in newness of life,
and with equal certainty they shall be raised to live with Him in heaven.
This meaning is confirmed by what is said afterwards in the 8th and 9th
verses. How powerful is this consideration, if viewed as a motive to the
believer to walk in this world with his risen Lord in newness of life!
‘Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is

1 John 3:3.
Ver. 6. — Knowing this that our old man is crucified with Him, that the
body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin..335
Knowing this. — That is, assuming it as a thing with which they were
already well acquainted, or a thing which they should know. That our old
man was crucified with Him. — Paul draws here the same conclusion from
the believer’s crucifixion with Christ that he had previously drawn from
his baptism into Christ’s death. All believers died with Christ on the
cross, as they were all one in Him, and represented by Him. Their old

Ephesians 4:22;

Colossians 3:9, or sinful nature, was crucified
together with Christ. If, then, their old man has been crucified with Him, it
cannot be that they will for the future live according to their old nature.
That the body of sin might be destroyed. — Body of sin, that is, sin
embodied, meaning the whole combination and strength of corruption, as
having all its members Joined into a perfect body. The purpose of His
people’s crucifixion with Christ was, that this body of sin should finally
perish and be annihilated. It is called a body, as consisting of various
members, like a complete and entire body — a mass of sin; not one sin,
but all sin. The term body is used, because it is of a body only that there
can be a literal crucifixion; and this body is called the body of sin, that it
may not be supposed that it is the natural body which is meant.
What henceforth we should not serve sin. — The design of the believer’s
crucifixion with Christ is, that he may not henceforth be a slave to sin.
This implies that all men who do not believe in Christ are slaves to sin, as
wholly and as absolutely under its power as a slave is to his master. But
the end of our crucifixion with Christ, by faith in His death, is, that we
may be delivered from this slavery. Believers, then, should resist sin as
they would avoid the most cruel slavery. If this be the end of crucifixion
with Christ, those cannot be considered as crucified with Christ who are
the slaves of sin. Christians, then, may be known by their lives, as the tree
is known by its fruits. It was the result of Paul’s crucifixion with Christ,
that Christ lived in him. ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet
not I, but Christ liveth in me,’

Galatians 2:20.
Ver. 7. — For he that is dead is freed from sin.
For he that is dead; that is, dead with Christ, as is said in the following
verse. — This does not mean natural death, but death in all its extent,
signifying ‘the second death,’ the penalty of which Christ suffered, and
therefore all His members have suffered it with Him. Freed from sin. —.336
The original word, which is here translated freed, different from that
rendered free in verses 18, 20, 22, is literally justified It occurs fifteen
times in this Epistle, and twenty-five times in other parts of the New
Testament; and, except in this verse, and one other where it is translated
righteous, is uniformly rendered by the word justified. In this verse, as in
all the other passages its proper rendering ought to be retained, instead of
being exchanged for the term ‘freed,’ which has evidently been selected to
convey a different sense. To retain its proper translation in this place is
absolutely necessary, in order clearly to perceive the great and cheering
truth here announced, as well as to apprehend the full force of the
Apostle’s answer to the objection stated in the first verse. As to the
phrase, ‘justified from sin,’ we find the Apostle expressing himself in the
same manner (

Acts 13:39), ‘By Him all that believe are justified from all
things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.’
No objection can be made to the use of the expression ‘justified, since the
Apostle is speaking of the state of believers, to which it is strictly
applicable. In justification, which is a judicial and irrevocable sentence
pronounced by God, there are two parts: the one includes absolution from
the guilt of the breach of the law; the other, the possession of that
obedience to its precepts which the law demands. These being inseparable,
they are both included in the expression justified from sin. If a man be
dead with Christ, he possesses, as has been observed, all the blessings
which, according to the tenor of the new covenant, are included in, and
connected with, the state of justification by grace. Instead, then, of
encouraging him to continue in sin, it furnishes absolute security against
such a result, and ensures the certainty that he shall walk in newness of
life until he attains the possession of eternal glory. The Apostle, therefore,
is so far from admitting that, according to the supposed objection which he
is combating, gratuitous justification is opposed to sanctification, that,
after having shown in the preceding verses that sanctification springs from
union with Christ, he here asserts, as he had formerly proved, that on the
very same ground the doctrine of justification is established. The one
cannot, therefore, be hostile to the interests of the other.
The bond by which sinners are kept under the power of sin, is the curse of
the law. This curse, which is the penalty of disobedience, consists in man
being cut off from all communion with God. By throwing off his allegiance.337
to his Creator, he has become the subject of the devil, and is led captive by
him at his will. The curse consists in being given up to sin, which is
represented as reigning over the human race, and exercising an absolute
dominion. So long as the sinner is under the guilt of sin, God can have no
friendly intercourse with him; for what communion hath light with
darkness? But Christ having canceled His people’s guilt, having redeemed
them from the curse of the law and invested them with the robe of His
righteousness, there is no longer any obstacle to their communion with
God, or any barrier to the free ingress of sanctifying grace. As the sin of
the first man divested of holiness every one of his descendants, causing
each individual to enter the world dead in trespasses and sins, in like
manner the obedience of the second Adam imparts holiness to all His
members, so that they can no longer remain under the thralldom of sin.
Were a sinner, when he is redeemed, not also sanctified, it would argue that
he was still under the curse, and not restored to the favor of God. Besides,
what is the state of the believer? He is now united to Him who has the
inexhaustible fullness of the Spirit, and he cannot fail to participate in the
spirit of holiness which dwells without measure in his glorious Head. It is
impossible that the ‘streams can be dried up when the fountain continues
to flow; and it is equally impossible for the members not to share in the
same holiness which dwells so abundantly in the Head. As the branch,
when united to the living vine, necessarily partakes of its life and fatness,
so the sinner, when united to Christ, must receive an abundant supply of
sanctifying grace out of His immeasurable fullness. The moment, therefore,
that he is by faith brought into union with the second Adam — the grand
truth on which the Apostle had been insisting in the preceding part of this
chapter, by means of which believers are dead to sin — in that moment the
source of sanctification is opened up, and streams of purifying grace flow
into his soul. He is delivered from the law whereby sin had dominion over
him. He is one with Him who is the fountain of holiness.
These are the grounds on which justification and sanctification are
inseparably connected, and the reasons why those who are dead to sin, or,
as it is here expressed, justified from sin, can no longer live therein. From
all this we see the necessity of retaining the Apostle’s expression in the
verse before us, justified from sin. That it has been exchanged for the term
freed in the English, as well as in most of the French versions, and that.338
commentators are so generally undecided as to the proper rendering, arises
from not clearly perceiving the ground on which the Apostle exclusively
rests his denial of the consequence charged on his doctrine of justification,
as leading to licentiousness. But on no other ground than that, as above
explained, on which he has triumphantly vindicated it from this supposed
pernicious consequence, can it be proved not to have such a tendency, and
not to lead to such a result. On this ground his vindication must for ever
stand unshaken. Had his answer to the question in the first verse
ultimately rested, according to the reason given by Dr. Macknight, on the
force of a motive presented to believers, however strong in itself, such as
their having experienced the dreadful effects of sin in having died by it, or
on the fallacious idea, according to Mr. Stuart, that they were insensible to
its influence, how weak, as has been remarked, insufficient, and delusive,
considering the state of human nature, would such reasons have been, on
which to have rested his confident denial that they could continue to live
in sin? But when the Apostle exhibits, as the cause of the believer’s not
continuing in sin, his union with Christ, and the power of God in Christ
Jesus, as he does in the preceding verses, he rests it on a foundation as
stable as the throne of God. He had taught, in the foregoing part of the
Epistle, that Jesus Christ is made to His people righteousness: he here
teaches that He is also made to them sanctification. Throughout the whole
of the discussion, it is material to keep in mind that they to whom, along
with himself, the Apostle is referring, are those whom he had addressed
(ch. 1:7) as ‘beloved of God,’ as ‘called,’ as ‘saints.’
The same great truths are fully developed in the 29th and 30th verses of
the eighth chapter, where it is shown that the persons who are conformed
to the image of Christ were those who are justified, and who shall be
glorified, the whole of which Paul there traces up to the sovereign
appointment of God. There, in like manner, he shows that the people of
God, being conformed to Christ in His death, are also conformed to Him in
their walking in newness of life, as the prelude of their resurrection with
Him to glory. To the same purpose he writes to the saints at Colosse,
where he assures them that they are ‘complete in Christ, being buried with
Him in baptism, wherein also they are risen with Him, through the faith of
the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead.’.339
Ver. 8. — Now, if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live
with Him:
Now — rather, since then — believers are one with Christ in His death,
they have the certain prospect of for ever living with Him. That the life
here mentioned is the life after the resurrection, as in verse 5th, appears
from the phraseology. The Apostle speaks of it as a future life, which it is
unnatural to interpret as signifying the believer’s spiritual life here, or as
importing the continuation of it to the end of his course. There is no need
of such straining, when the obvious meaning is true and most important.
Besides, the point is decided by the assertion, ‘we believe.’ It is a matter
of faith, and not of present experience.
‘We believe.’ — Upon this it is useful to remark, that though the Apostle
reasons and deduces from principles, yet we are to be cautious not to
consider his doctrine as needing any other support but his own assertion.
His statement, or expression of belief, is demonstration to a Christian. It
was a truth believed by those whom he addressed, because taught by Paul
and the other Apostles.
Ver. 9. — Knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more,
death hath no more dominion over Him.
Knowing that. — The Apostle states the assumption that, as Christ,
having been raised from the dead, will not die again, so neither will those
die again who have died and risen with Him. This obviously refers to the
resurrection life, and not to the present spiritual life. It is a fact of
inconceivable consolation, that after the resurrection the believer will never
again die. All the glory of heaven could not make us happy without this
Death hath no more dominion over Him. — This implies that death had
once dominion over Christ Himself He was its lawful captive, as he took
our place, and bore our sins. It is far from being true, according to Mr.
Tholuck, that the word here used ‘seems to involve the idea of a usurped
power, for properly, as Christ was an innocent being, there vas no reason
why He should die.’ Christ was lawfully under the power of death for a
time; and the word which signifies this applies to a lawful Lord as well as
to a usurper. Jesus Christ being declared by His resurrection to be the Son.340
of God with power, His people are engaged to put their trust in Him as
the Creator and Ruler of the universe. In His resurrection they receive the
assurance of the effect of His death, in satisfying Divine justice while
making full atonement for their sins; and in His rising from the dead to an
immortal life, as their Lord and Head, they have a certain pledge of their
own resurrection to life and immortality.
Ver. 10. — For in that he died, He died unto sin once; but in that He liveth,
He liveth unto God.
In that — or with respect to that — He died, Be died unto sin. — Here we
have the same declaration concerning our Lord and Savior as in the 2nd
verse concerning believers, of whom the Apostle says that they are dead
to sin. Whatever, then, the expression signifies in the one case, it must also
be understood to signify in the other. But those who attach a wrong
interpretation to the phrase in the first occurrence, are necessitated to
attribute to it a different one in the second. Accordingly Calvin remarks on
this 10th verse, — ’The very form of expression, as applied to Christ,
shows that He did not, like us, die to sin for the purpose of ceasing to
commit it.’ Here are two misinterpretations, — first, of the 2nd verse, and
next, as a natural consequence, of this 10th. A similar difference of
interpretation will be found in the other commentators. Having mistaken
the meaning of the one, they are compelled to vary it in the other. In the
first, they introduce the idea of death to the power of sin, but in the last
this is impossible. Our Lord never felt the power of sin, and therefore
could not die to it. But He died to the guilt of sin — to the guilt of His
people’s sins, which He had taken upon Him; and they, dying with Him,
as is above declared, die to sin precisely in the same sense in which He
died to it. This declaration, then, that Christ died to sin, explains in the
clearest manner the meaning of the expression ‘dead to sin,’ verse 2,
proving that it signifies exclusively dying to the guilt of sin; for in no other
sense could our Lord Jesus Christ die to sin.
The effect of the death of believers to sin, the Apostle, after concluding his
argument, shows to be, that sin shall not have dominion over them, verse
14, for they are not under the law but under grace. His argument is, that
the doctrine of a free justification, which he had asserted in the fifth
chapter, according to which believers are dead to, or justified from sin, by.341
their oneness with Christ in His death, brings them into an entirely
different state from that in which they formerly were in respect to their
relation to God. Having been delivered from its guilt, — dead to it, or
justified from it, verse 7, — they are in consequence delivered from its
power. But to include the idea of power in the expression, ‘dead to sin,’
verse 2, entirely confuses and misrepresents his meaning.
Jesus Christ suffered the penalty of sin, and ceased to bear it. Till His
death He had sin upon Him; and therefore, though it was not committed
by Him personally, yet it was His own, inasmuch as He had taken it upon
Him. When He took it on Him, so as to free His people from its guilt, it
became His own debt as truly as if it had been contracted by Him. When,
therefore, He died on account of sin, He died to it, as He was now for ever
justified from it. He was not justified from it till His resurrection; but from
that moment He was dead to it. When He shall appear the second time, it
will be ‘without sin,’

Hebrews 9:28.
Once. — He died to sin once, and but once, because He fully atoned for it
by His death. On this circumstance the Apostle, in the Epistle to the
Hebrews, lays much stress, and, in proving the excellence of His sacrifice
beyond the legal sacrifices, often repeats it,

Hebrews 9:12, 26, 28,

10:10, 12, 14. He liveth unto God. — It need not excite any surprise that
Christ is said henceforth to live unto God. The glory of God must be the
great end of all life. Christ’s eternal life in human nature will, no doubt,
more than all things else, be for the glory of God.
Ver. 11. — Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin,
but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Believers are here commanded to reckon themselves to be really and
effectually dead to sin — dead to its guilt — and alive unto God in Jesus
Christ, as it ought to be rendered. The obligation thus enjoined follows
from all that the Apostle had been inculcating respecting their blessed state
as partakers with Christ, both in His death and in His life. As this is their
real condition, he here commands them to maintain a full sense and
conviction of it. The duties of the Christian life, flowing from their union
with Jesus Christ and acceptance with God, he immediately proceeds to
enforce. But here it is the obligation to maintain the conviction of their
state that he exclusively presses upon them. To note this is of the greatest.342
importance. Unless we keep in mind that we are dead to sin, and alive unto
God in Jesus Christ our Lord, we cannot serve Him as we ought: we shall
otherwise be serving in the oldness of the letter, and not in newness of
spirit. But when the believer’s state of reconciliation with God, and his
death to sin, from which he is delivered, is steadily kept in view, then he
cultivates the spirit of adoption — then he strives to walk worthy of his
calling, and, in the consideration of the mercies of God, presents his body
a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God,

Romans 12:1; he
rejoices in the Lord, and abounds in hope through the power of the Holy
Ghost; he has peace in his conscience, his heart is enlarged, and he runs the
way of God’s commandments.
Of their high privileges and state of acceptance with God, believers are
ever reminded in Scripture; and it is not till a man has the answer of a good
conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

1 Peter
3:21, and a sense of being justified from sin, having his conscience purged
from dead works by the blood of Christ, that he can serve the living God,

Hebrews 9:14. How important, then, is this admonition of the Apostle,
Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, though often much
obscured by false glosses turning it away from its true and appropriate
meanings By many it would be accounted presumptuous in Christians to
take it home to themselves. Hence they are not aware of the obligations
they are under to labor to maintain the assurance of their union with
Christ, and of their participation with Him in His death and resurrection.
But we see that the Apostle, after he had fully developed the blessed state
of believers, and declared the foundation on which it rests, with which
their continuing to live in sin is incompatible, expressly enjoins this as a
positive duty on those whom he addresses, and consequently on all
Christians, thus reminding them that what he had said was not to be
viewed in the light of abstract truth, but ought to be practically and
individually brought home to their own bosoms. How seldom is this use
made of the text before us! How seldom, if ever, is the duty it enforces
urged upon Christians! f35 How little is it considered as binding on their
consciences! Yet, without attending to this duty, which, in connection
with a right understanding of the Gospel, is consistent with the deepest
humility, how can, they possibly bring forth those precious fruits of the.343
Spirit which lie at the foundation of all the rest, love, and joy, and peace?
How, in a word, can they walk with God?
There was no part of the Exposition in which I felt so much difficulty as
in the commencement of this chapter. In consulting a multitude of
commentators, I found no satisfactory solution. Most of them explain the
expression ‘dead to sin,’ in the 2nd verse, as importing death not only to
the guilt, but also, as has been remarked, to the power of sin, — a proof
that the assertion of the Apostle is misunderstood. But when it is
perceived that the guilt of sin only is included, a clear light is thrown on
this highly important part of the Epistle. This is the way in which it
appears to have been viewed by Mr. Romaine, of which, till lately, I was
not aware, and I do not recollect ever meeting with it in the works of any
other writer. I subjoin the following interesting passage from his treatise
On the Walk of Faith.
‘True spiritual mortification does not consist in sin not being in thee, nor
in its being put upon the cross daily, nor yet in its being kept upon it.
There must be something more to establish perfect peace in thy
conscience; and that is the testimony of God concerning the body of sin.
He has provided for thy perfect deliverance from it in Christ. Everything
needful for this purpose was finished by Him upon the cross. He was thy
Surety. He suffered for thee. Thy sins were crucified with Him, and nailed
to His cross. They were put to death when He died: for He was thy
covenant-head, and thou wast legally represented by Him, and art indeed
dead to sin by His dying to sin once. The law has now no more right to
condemn thee, a believer, than it has to condemn Him. Justice is bound to
deal with thee, as it has with thy risen and ascended Savior. If thou dost
not thus see thy complete mortification in Him, sin will reign in thee. No
sin can be crucified either in heart or life, unless it be first pardoned in
conscience; because there will be want of faith to receive the strength of
Jesus, by whom alone it can be crucified. If it be not mortified in its guilt,
it cannot be subdued in its power. If the believer does not see his perfect
deadness to sin in Jesus, he will open a wide door to unbelief; and if he be
not persuaded of his completeness in Christ, he gives room for the attacks
of self-righteous and legal tempers. If Christ be not all in all, self must still
be looked upon as something great, and there will be food left for the pride
of self-importance and self-sufficiency; so that he cannot grow into the.344
death of Christ in sensible experience, further than he believes himself to
be dead to sin in Christ. The more clearly and steadfastly he believes this,
as the Apostle did — I am crucified with Christ — in proportion will he
cleave to Christ, and receive from Him greater power to crucify sin. This
believing view of his absolute mortification in Christ, is the true Gospel
method of mortifying sin in our own persons. Read the sixth of the
Romans, and pray for the Spirit of revelation to open it to thee. There
thou wilt discover the true way to mortify sin. It is by believing that thou
art planted together with Christ in His death; from thence only thy pardon
flows, from thence thy daily victory is received, and from thence thy
eternal victory will be perfected.’
Ver. 12. — Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should
obey it in the lusts thereof.
Having proved how unfounded is the objection that the doctrine of
justification leads to the indulgence of sin, the Apostle now exhorts those
whom he addresses to live agreeably to the holy nature and design of the
Gospel. With this object he presents, throughout the rest of the chapter,
various considerations adapted to induce them to walk in that newness of
life to which they are risen with Christ. It should here be remarked, that
although the apostle had expressly taught that they who are justified are
likewise sanctified, yet as God is pleased to cause His people to act with
Him in their sanctification — so that they shall both will and do, because
He worketh in them to will and to do of His good pleasure — the earnest
exhortations to obedience, and the motives held forth in the conclusion of
the chapter, are entirely consistent with what had been declared as to the
certainty of their sanctification resting on the power of God, and to be
viewed as outward means which God employs to effect this purpose.
Therefore. — The exhortation in this verse is founded on the preceding.
Here, then, we have an example of the manner in which the Apostle urges
believers to the performance of their duty to God. Because being united to
Christ they were dead to sin, the conviction of which he had just before
enjoined them to maintain, he exhorts them in this and the following verse
to abstain from sin. Unless they possessed that conviction, the motive on
which he here rests his exhortation would be inapplicable. This is his
manner in all his Epistles, in common with the other Apostles, of.345
enforcing the obligation of Christians to the performance of their duty. ‘Be
ye kind one to another, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s
sake hath forgiven you.’ He proceeds on the fact of their knowledge that
their sins were forgiven.
It is difficult to see what precise idea the Apostle intends to communicate
by the addition of the epithet mortal; yet it is certain that he uses no
unmeaning appendages, and that this word must add to the sense. The
propriety of the epithet, as ascribed to the body, is evident; but still, why
is this epithet added here? Paul had just charged believers to reckon
themselves dead to sin, but alive to God. When, therefore, he here urges
them not to allow sin to reign in their bodies, and designates their bodies as
mortal, it may be that he means to intimate either that their struggle with
sin, which will only continue while they are in the body, will be short, or
to contrast the present state of the body with its future spiritual state. As
in its future glorified state it is to live entirely to God, and to be without
sin, so it follows that, even in its present mortal state, sin should not have
it in subjection. Calvin is undoubtedly mistaken in saying that the word
body here ‘is not taken in the sense of flesh, skin, and bones; but means, if
I may be allowed the expression, the whole mass of the man; ‘that is, man
as soul and body in its present earthly state. This would import that the
soul is now mortal.
Sin reign. — Sin is here personified and viewed as a king. Such a ruler is
sin over all the world, except those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,

1 John 5:19. This is the reason why men will spend their substance and
their labor in the works of the flesh. Sin rules in them as a sovereign; and
they of their own accord with eagerness pursue every ungodly course to
which their corrupt nature impels them; and in the service of sin they will
often ruin their health as well as their fortune. That ye should obey it, or, so
as to obey it. — Sin is still a law in the members of believers, but it is not
to be allowed to reign. It must be constantly resisted. Obey it in the lusts
thereof: — That is, to obey sin in the lusts of the body. Sin is obeyed in
gratifying the lusts or corrupt appetites of the body. The term lusts
imports the inward corrupt inclination to sin from whence the acts of sin
proceed, and of which the Apostle speaks particularly in the following
chapter, where he shows that till after the commandment came to him in
power, he had not known that corrupt inclination to be sin. Augustine here.346
remarks that the Apostle does not say that in believers there is no sin, but
that it should not reign, because while they live there must be sin in their
Ver. 13. — Neither yield ye your members as instruments of
unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are
alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness
unto God.
Neither yield. — That is, do not present, afford, or make a donation of
your members. Instruments — or weapons, or organs, to be employed in
works of unrighteousness. Unto sin. — This surrender, against which the
believer is cautioned, is to sin. They who employ the members of their
bodies in doing the works of the flesh, present their bodies to sin as their
sovereign. Members. — There is no occasion, with Dr. Macknight and
others, to suppose that the word members here includes the faculties of
the mind as well as the members of the body. It is of the body that the
Apostle is speaking. It follows? indeed, as a consequence, that if sin is not
to be practiced through the members of the body, neither is it to be
indulged in the thoughts of the mind, for it is the latter that leads to the
former. The word instruments evidently limits the expression to the
members of the body.
But yield yourselves unto God. — Yield yourselves soul and body. The
exhortation, as it respected the service of sin, mentions only the members
of the body which are the instruments of gratifying the corruptions of the
mind. But this, as was observed, sufficiently implies that we are forbidden
to employ the faculties of the soul in the service of sin, as well as the
members of the body. There can be no doubt that all we are commanded to
give to God, we are prohibited from giving to sin. If we are commanded to
present ourselves unto God, then we are forbidden to present either the
faculties of the mind or the members of the body to sin. The believer is to
give himself up to God without any reservation. He is to employ both
body and mind in every work required of him by God. He must decline no
labor which the Lord sets before him, no trial to which He calls him, no
cross which He lays upon him. He is not to count even his life dear if God
demands its sacrifice..347
As those that are alive from the dead — Here again Christians are
addressed as those who know their state. They are already in one sense
raised from the dead. They have a spiritual life, of which they were by
nature entirely destitute, and of which unbelievers are not only altogether
destitute, but which they cannot even comprehend. Your members as
instruments of righteousness. — The members of the body are not only to
be used in the direct worship of God, and in doing those things in which
their instrumentality is required, but in every action they ought to be
employed in this manner, even in the common business of life, in which
the glory of God should be constantly kept in view. The laborer who toils
in the field, if he acts with an eye to the glory of God, ought to console
himself with the consideration that when he has finished his day to man,
he has wrought a day to God. This view of the matter is a great relief
under his daily toils. Unto God. — That is, yield your members unto God.
As the natural man presents his members to sin, so the believer is to
present his members to God.
Ver. 14. — For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under
the law, but under grace.
For sin shall not have dominion over you. — Such is the unqualified
affirmation with which Paul in this place shuts up his triumphant reply to
the objection to his doctrine urged in the first verse. No truth is more
certain than that sin shall not have dominion over believers. God’s veracity
and glory are pledged to prevent it. They are dead to the guilt of sin, and
therefore its power shall no more predominate in them. They have put on
the new man, and the warfare with the old man shall finally terminate in
his destruction. The first for in this verse gives a reason why believers
should exert themselves to give their members to the service of God. They
shall not fail in their attempt, for sin shall not have dominion over them.
The next for gives the reason why sin shall not have dominion over them.
For ye are not under the law — literally, under law. — A great variety of
interpretations are given of this declaration. But the meaning cannot be a
matter of doubt to those who are well instructed in the nature of salvation
by grace. It is quite obvious that the law which believers are here said not
to be under, is the moral law, as a covenant of works, and not the legal
dispensation, — to distinguish it from which may be the reason why the.348
article is here omitted. To affirm that law here is the legal dispensation, is
to say that all who lived under the law of Moses were under the dominion
of sin. In the sense in which law is here understood, the Old Testament
saints were not under it. They had the Gospel in figure. They trusted in
the promised Savior, and sought not to justify themselves by their
obedience to the law. Besides, all unbelievers, both Jews and Gentiles, are
under the law, in the sense in which believers are here said not to be under
it. Believers are not under the law as a covenant, because they have
endured its curse and obeyed its precept in the person of their great Head,
by whom the righteousness of the law has been fulfilled in them, ch.

But every man, till he is united to Christ, is under the law, which
condemns him. When united to Him, the believer is no longer under the
law either to be condemned or to be justified. When Mr. Stuart says that it
is from the law, ‘as inadequate to effect the sanctification and secure the
obedience of sinners,’ that the Apostle here declares us to be free, he
proves that he entirely misunderstands what is meant. The circumstance
that the law cannot sanctify the sinner, and secure his obedience, confers
no emancipation from its demands. The believer is free from the law,
because another has taken his place, and fulfilled it in his stead. This
implies that all who are under the law are also under the dominion of sin,
and under the curse,

Galatians 3:10. The self-righteous who trust in
their works, and boast of their natural ability to serve God, are under the
dominion of sin; and the very works in which they trust are sinful, or
‘dead works,’

Hebrews 9:14. They are such works as men perform
before their consciences are purged by the blood of Christ.
But under grace. — Believers are not under the covenant of works, but
under the covenant of grace, by which they enjoy all the blessings of that
gracious covenant in which all that is required of them is promised to
them. They are in a state of reconciliation with God. They know the Lord.
According to the tenor of that gracious covenant, His law is written in
their hearts, and His fear is put within them. He has promised not to
depart from them, and that they shall not depart from Him, Jeremiah.
32:40; and their sins and iniquities, which separated them from God, are
no more remembered by Him. Being made partakers of the favor of God
through Jesus Christ, in whom grace was given them before the world

2 Timothy 1:9, they have every spiritual supply through Him.349
who is full of grace. His grace is sufficient for them,

2 Corinthians 12:9.
The grace of God, which bringeth salvation, that hath appeared to all men,
teacheth them to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly,
righteously, and godly

Titus 2:11. Not only is this grace manifested to
them, but it operates within them. God works in them what is well
pleasing in His sight, both to will and to do of His good pleasure. They
who are under the law have nothing but their own strength in order to their
obedience: sin, therefore, must have the dominion over them. But they
who are under grace are by God Himself thoroughly furnished unto all
good works: sin, therefore, shall not have dominion over them.
The great principle of evangelical obedience is taught in this passage.
Holiness is not the result of the law, but of the liberty wherewith Christ
has made His people free. He sends forth the Spirit of grace into the hearts
of all who belong to the election of grace, whom God hath from the
beginning chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief
of the truth; and the word of God worketh effectually in all who believe,

1 Thessalonians 2:13. Jesus Christ is the absolute master of the hearts
of His people, of which He has taken possession, and in whom He reigns
by the invincible power of the Spirit of grace. The new covenant made
with Him, for those whom He has redeemed, and which is ratified with
His blood, is immutable and irreversible.
Here, again, it should be observed that the assurance thus given to
believers, that sin shall not have dominion over them, could not be duly
appreciated except on the ground that they knew that they were dead to
sin and alive to God. Just in proportion as Christians are convinced of
this, they will feel encouragement from this promise to persevere in their
course. The assurance given to them that sin shall not have the dominion
over them, is then very far from furnishing a pretext or inducement to a life
of sin. On the contrary, they are thereby bound by every consideration of
love and gratitude to serve God, while, by the certain prospect of final
victory, they are encouraged to persevere, in spite of all difficulties and
opposition, either from within or from without.
Ver. 15. — What then? shall we sin, because we are not under law, but
under grace? God forbid..350
The Apostle had been proving that his doctrine of a free justification by
faith without works furnishes no license to believers to continue in sin,
but, on the contrary, that the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of His
people, and His resurrection for their justification, secures their walking in
holiness of life. On this ground, in verses 12 and 13, he had urged on them
the duty of obedience to God; and having finally declared, in the 14th
verse, that, by the blessing of God, they should be enabled to perform it,
he now proceeds to caution them against the abuse of this gracious
declaration. If a man voluntarily sins, on the pretext that he is not under
the law, but under grace, it is a proof that the grace of God is not in him.
‘Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in
him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.’
What then — What is the inference which should be deduced from the
preceding declaration? shall we sin, because we are not under law, but
under grace? — This question, proposed by the Apostle as an objection
likely to be urged against his doctrine, plainly shows in what sense we are
to understand the term law in the 14th verse. Were it not under stood of
the moral law, it would not be liable to the supposed objection. The fact of
not being under the ceremonial law, or of a change of dispensation from
that of Moses to that of Christ, would never lead to such an objection. No
one could suppose that the abolition of certain external rites would
authorize men to break moral precepts. No view of the law could give
occasion to the objection but that which includes freedom from the moral
law. This would at once appear to furnish a license to sin with impunity;
and it would be justly liable to this objection if freedom from the moral
law meant, as some have argued, a freedom from it in every point of view.
The freedom from the moral law which the believer enjoys, is a freedom
from an obligation to fulfill it in his own person for his justification — a
freedom from its condemnation on account of imperfection of obedience.
But this is quite consistent with the eternal obligation of the moral law as a
rule of life to the Christian. Nothing can be more self-evidently certain
than that, if the moral law is not a rule of life to believers, they are at
liberty to disregard its precepts. But the very thought of this is
abominable. The Apostle therefore rejects it in the strongest terms, in the
way in which he usually expresses his disapprobation of what is most
egregiously wrong..351
Ver. 16. — Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to
obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of
obedience unto righteousness?
Know ye not? — That is, the thing by which I am now going to illustrate
the subject, is a fact of which you cannot be ignorant. All of them well
knew the truth of what Paul was about to say, and by this similitude they
would be able to comprehend the doctrine he was teaching. The ground,
however, of the use of this phraseology has no resemblance, as Mr. Stuart
supposes, to that used in verses 6 and 9. Here the Apostle speaks of a
thing which all men know, and which belongs to the common relations of
society. There he speaks of what they know only as Christians by
Yield yourselves or, present yourselves. — Not, as Mr. Stuart translates it,
‘proffer yourselves.’ It is possible among men that proffered service may
be rejected, or that, at least, something may occur to prevent performance
of the actual service; and it is of transactions among men that the Apostle
is speaking; but, in the Apostle’s view, the presented service is accepted.
Mr. Stuart’s translation in his Commentary is better. ‘Where you have
once given up yourselves to any one as servants.’ This, however, is quite a
different idea from what he expresses in the text.
Servants to obey, literally, unto obedience. — Mr. Stuart’s translation is
not to be approved of here, ‘ready to obey,’ or ‘bound to obey.’ The idea
is not that they were bound by this presentation of themselves to continue
in obedience to the master. The servants unto obedience are not servants
who are bound to obey, but servants who actually obey — whose
servitude is proved and perfected in their works. Mr. Stuart entirely
mistakes the sentiment expressed by the Apostle when he paraphrases
thus: — ’When you have once given up yourselves to any one as
dou>louv eijv uJpakoh>n, you are no longer your own masters, or at your
own disposal; you have put yourselves within the power and at the
disposal of another master.’ The language of the Apostle is not designed to
prove that, by presenting themselves to a master, they are bound to his
service, but to state the obvious fact that they are the servants of him
whose work they do. If we see a number of laborers in a field, we know
they are the servants of the proprietor of the field — of the person in.352
whose work they are employed. The application of this fact to the
Apostle’s purpose is obvious and important. If men are doing the work of
Satan, must they not be Satan’s servants? If they are doing God’s work,
must they not be the servants of God? Mr. Stuart’s exposition leads
entirely away from the Apostle’s meaning.
Of sin. — Sin is here personified, and sinners are its servants. Unto death.
— That is, which ends in death. This is the wages with which sin rewards
its servants. Obedience unto righteousness. — Obedience is also
personified, and the work performed to obedience is righteousness; that is,
the works of the believer are righteous works. Nothing can be more false as
a translation, or more erroneous in sentiment, than the version of Mr.
Stuart. ‘Obedience unto justification.’ In his paraphrase he says, ‘But if
you are the servants of that obedience which is unto justification — i.e.
which is connected with justification, which ends in it — then you may
expect eternal life.’ Dikaiosu>nh, which he here translates justification, is
righteousness, and never justification. In verses 18, 19, and 20, that follow,
he himself translates it righteousness. And what can be more completely
subversive of the doctrine of justification, and of the Gospel itself, than
the assertion that obedience ‘ends in,’ or, as he says afterwards, will lead
to justification? This is the translation of the English Socinian version, and
of that adopted in their different editions of the New Testament by the
Socinian pastors of the church of Geneva. ‘De l’obeissance qui conduit à la
justification.’ Of obedience which leads to justification. They have,
however, printed the word ‘conduit’ (leads to) in italics, to show that it is
a supplement.
Mr. Stuart says that his view seems to him quite clear, from justification
being the antithesis unto death. But justification is not an exact antithesis
to death. It is life that is the antithesis to death. There is no need, however,
that there should be such an exact correspondence in the parts of the
antithesis as is supposed. And there is a most obvious reason why it could
not be so. Death is the wages of sin but life is not the wages of obedience.
Mr. Stuart asks, ‘How can dikaiosu>nhn here mean holiness uprightness
when uJpakoh> itself necessarily designates this very idea? What is an
obedience which leads to righteousness? Or how does it differ from
righteousness itself, inasmuch as it is the very act of obedience which
constitutes righteousness in the sense now contemplated? ‘It is replied.353
that obedience is here personified, and therefore righteous actions are
properly represented as performed to it. Mr. Stuart might as well ask why
are obedience to sin, and the lusts of sin, supposed to be different things in
verse 12. In like manner we have righteousness and holiness in verse 19,
and fruit and holiness in verse 22. Besides, obedience and righteousness are
not ideas perfectly coincident. Righteousness refers to works as to their
nature; obedience refers to the same works as to their principle. Mr.
Stuart’s remark is both false in criticism, and heretical in doctrine.
Ver. 17. — But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye
have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
The Apostle here expresses his thankfulness to God that they who had
formerly been the servants of sin were now the servants of righteousness.
To suppose, as some do, that sin itself could be a matter of thankfulness,
is a most palpable error, than which nothing can be more remote from the
meaning of this passage. Obeyed from the heart. — Christian obedience is
obedience from the heart, in opposition to an obedience which is by
constraint. Any attempt at obedience by an unconverted man, is an
obedience produced by some motive of fear, self-interest, or constraint,
and not from the heart. Nothing can be more convincing evidence of the
truth of the Gospel than the change which, in this respect, it produces on
the mind of the believer. Nothing but almighty power could at once
transform a man from the love of sin to the love of holiness.
That form of doctrine which was delivered you. — There are various
solutions of this expression, all substantially agreeing in meaning, but
differing in the manner of bringing out that meaning. The most usual way
is to suppose that there is a reference to melted metals transferred to a
mold, which obey or exactly conform to the mold. It is perhaps as
probable that the reference is to wax or clay or any soft matter that takes
the form of the stamp or seal. There is another method of explaining the
phraseology not unworthy of consideration — Ye have obeyed from the
heart that form or model of doctrine unto which you have been committed.
In this way the form of doctrine or the Gospel is considered as a teacher,
and believers are committed to its instructions. The word translated
delivered, will admit of this interpretation, and it is sufficiently agreeable
to the general meaning of the expression. The substance of the phrase,.354
however, is obvious, and let it be translated as it may, there is no essential
difference in the meaning. It proves the holy tendency of the doctrine of
grace which believers have retrieved, the blessed effects of which they
have felt, and manifested in its fruits,

Titus 2:11, 12.
Ver. 18. — Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of
Being then made free from sin. — The original word here rendered free, as
also in verses 20 and 22, is different, as has been observed, from that
improperly rendered freed in verse 7, and has no respect to the justified
state of the believer, as is clear from the context, but relates to his freedom
from the dominion of sin assured to him in the 14th verse. There is here a
reference to the emancipation of slaves from their masters. For merely
they were slaves to sin; now they have been emancipated by the Gospel.
This deliverance is called their freedom. It does not, however, by any
means import what has been called sinless perfection, or an entire freedom
from the influence of sin. Ye became servants of righteousness. — Here we
see the proper meaning of the word dikaiosu>nh. The servants of
righteousness are men obedient to righteousness, being devoted to the
practice of such works as are righteous, or, as is said in other words, in
verse 22, ‘servants of God.’ What meaning could we attach to servants of
justification? The idea is, that the believer ought to be as entirely devoted
to God as a servant or slave is to his master. Mr. Stuart is here of
necessity compelled to allow the true meaning of the same word, which, in
the 16th verse, in consistency with his unscriptural system, he had
mistranslated, by rendering it justification.
Ver. 19. — I speak after the manner of men, because of the infirmity of
your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness,
and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to
righteousness unto holiness.
I speak after the manner of men. — This refers to the illustration of the
subject by the customs of men as to slavery. Mr. Stuart has either missed
the idea here, or expressed it too generally. He translates, ‘in language
usual to men,’ and expounds, ‘I speak as men are accustomed to speak,
viz., I use such language as they usually employ in regard to the affairs of
common life’ This makes the reference merely to the words used; whereas.355
the reference is to the illustration drawn from human customs. In what
way could the Apostle speak but as men are accustomed to speak? Could
he speak in any other language than that which was usual to men? This is a
thing in which there is no choice. If he speaks at all, he must use human
language. But to illustrate spiritual subjects by the customs of men is a
matter of choice, because it might have been avoided This establishes the
propriety of teaching Divine truth through illustrations taken from all
subjects with which those addressed are acquainted. This method not only
facilitates the right perception or apprehension of the subject, but also
assists the memory in retaining the information received. Accordingly, it
was much used by our Lord and His Apostles.
Calvin has not caught the spirit of this passage: ‘Paul,’ he says, ‘means
that he speaks after the manner of men with respect to forms, not the
subject-matter, as Christ (

John 3:12) says, “If I have told you earthly
things,” when He is, however, discoursing on heavenly mysteries, but not
with so much majesty as the dignity of the subject demanded, because He
accommodated Himself to the capacity of a rude, dull, and slow people.’
Here Calvin also makes the reference apply not to human customs, but to
human language and style. It may also be asked, why the Lord did not
express Himself with so much majesty as the dignity of the subject
demanded? It cannot be admitted that His language, or the language of
inspiration, ever falls short of the dignity demanded by the subject.
Because of the infirmity of your flesh. — That is, the weakness of their
spiritual discernment through the corruption of human nature. This does
not refer, as Mr. Stuart supposes, to ‘the feeble or infantile state of
spiritual knowledge among the Romans,’ but is applicable to mankind in
general. Men in all places, and in all ages, and in every period of their lives,
are weak through the flesh, both in spiritual discernment, and in the
practice of holiness. Men of the most powerful mental capacity are
naturally dull in apprehending the things of the Spirit. Accordingly errors
abound with them as much as with the most illiterate, and often in a far
greater degree. Besides, such a peculiar application to those in the church
at Rome is inconsistent with chapter

15:14, where the Apostle says
that they were ‘filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one
For as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness. — This
shows the state of men by nature, and especially the state of the heathen
world at the period of the highest refinement. Uncleanness means all
impurity, but especially the vice opposed to chastity. Iniquity, as
distinguished from this, refers to conduct opposed to laws human and
Divine. The one refers principally to the pollution, the other to the guilt of
Unto iniquity. — Some understand this as signifying from one iniquity to
another, or from one degree of iniquity to another, which is not its
meaning. Neither can it signify, as it is sometimes understood, for the
purpose of iniquity, for men often sin when it cannot be justly said that
they do so for the purpose of sinning. They often sin from the love of the
sin, when they wish it was not a sin. Their object is selfish gratification. It
is evident that the phrase is to be understood on a principle already
mentioned, namely, that iniquity is in the first occurrence personified, and
in the second, it is the conduct produced by obedience to this sovereign.
They surrender their members unto the slavery of iniquity as a king, and
the result is, that iniquity is practiced. This corresponds with the sense,
and suits the antithesis. Righteousness unto holiness. — Righteousness is
here personified as iniquity was before, and obedience to this sovereign
produces holiness.
Ver. 20. — For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from
Mr. Tholuck misunderstands this verse, which, in connection with the
21st, he paraphrases thus: ‘While engaged in the service of sin, you
possessed, it is true, the advantage of standing entirely out of all
subjection to righteousness; but let us look to what is to be the final
result.’ The Apostle is not speaking of freedom from righteousness as an
advantage either real or supposed, nor could he thus speak of it. He is
speaking of it as a fact; and from that fact he argues that, as when they
were the servants of sin they were free from righteousness — yielding no
obedience to it, and acting as if they had nothing to do with, and had no
relation to it — so now, as they are the servants of righteousness, they
ought to hold themselves free from the slavery of sin. The consequence,
indeed, is not drawn, but is so plain that it is left to the reader. The.357
sentiment is just and obvious. When they were the subjects of their former
sovereign, they were free from the service of their present sovereign. So
now, as they are subjects to righteousness, they ought to be free from sin.
Mr. Stuart also misunderstands this verse. He explains it thus: ‘When you
served sin, you deemed yourselves free from all obligation to
righteousness.’ This the Apostle neither says, nor could say. For it is not
true that natural men, whether Pagans or under a profession of
Christianity, regard themselves as bound by no obligations to
righteousness. The law of nature teaches the contrary. But whatever is
their light on this subject, it is a fact that they are free from righteousness.
This, we learn, is the state of all natural men.
Ver. 21. — What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now
ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
What fruit had ye then in those things? — Besides the exhortations to
holiness which he had already employed, the Apostle here sets before
believers the nature and consequences of sin. Unprofitable and shameful in
it character, its end is death. He asks what advantage had they derived
from their former conduct. Fruit here signifies advantage, and not pleasure.
Many interpret this verse as if the Apostle denied that they had any
pleasure in their sins at the time of committing them. This the Apostle
could not do; for it is a fact that men have pleasure in sin. To say that
sinful pleasure is no pleasure, but is imaginary, is to abuse terms. All
pleasure is a matter of feeling, and a man is no less happy than he feels
himself to be; if he imagines that he enjoys pleasure, he actually enjoys
pleasure. But what advantage is there in such pleasure? This is the
question which the Apostle asks.
Whereof ye are now ashamed. — It is a remarkable fact that men in a state
of alienation from God will commit sin not only without shame, but will
glory in many things of which they are ashamed the moment they are
changed by the Gospel. They now see their conduct in another light. They
see that it was not only sinful but shameful. For the end of those things is
death. — Here is the answer to the question with respect to the fruit of
unrighteous conduct. Whatever pleasure they might have found in it, the
end of it is ruin. Death. — This cannot be confined to natural death, for.358
that is equally the end with respect to the righteous as well as the wicked.
It includes the whole penalty of sin — eternal punishment.
Ver. 22. — But note, being made free from sin, and become servants to
God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Having concluded his triumphant reply to the objection, that his doctrine
concerning justification leads to indulgence in sin, the Apostle here assures
those to whom he wrote of the blessed effects of becoming servants to
God. In the eighth chapter these are fully developed. But now, being made
free from sin, — that is, emancipated from a state of slavery to sin. Fruit
unto holiness. — Fruit, in this verse, denotes conduct, and holiness its
specific character or quality. When conduct or works are called fruit, their
nature is not expressed; they are merely considered as the production of
the man. Fruit unto holiness is conduct that is holy. And the end
everlasting life. — Fruit unto holiness, or holy conduct, is the present
result of freedom from sin, and of becoming servants to God; eternal life is
the final result. Eternal life is the issue of the service of God, but it is not
the reward of its merit. Hence the Apostle here uses the phrase eternal life
when he is speaking of the issue of the service of God. But in verse 16 he
says, ‘obedience unto righteousness,’ and not ‘obedience unto eternal life,’
because he had, in the preceding member of the sentence, spoken of death
as the punishment of sin. Had he used the word eternal life in connection
with obedience in this antithesis, it would have too much resembled an
assertion that eternal life is the reward of our obedience.
Ver. 23. — For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The wages of sin is death. — Here, as in the conclusion of the preceding
chapter, death is contrasted with eternal life. Sin is a service or slavery,
and its reward is death, or eternal misery. As death is the greatest evil in
this world, so the future punishment of the wicked is called death
figuratively, or the second death. In this sense death is frequently spoken
of in Scripture; as when our Lord says, ‘Whosoever believeth on Me shall
never die.’ Death is the just recompense of sin. The Apostle does not add,
But the wages of obedience is eternal life. This is not the doctrine of
Scripture. He adds, But the gift of God is eternal life. The gift that God.359
bestows is eternal life. He bestows no less upon any of His people; and it
is the greatest gift that can be bestowed.
Dr. Gill on this passage remarks, ‘These words, at first sight, look as if the
sense of them was, that eternal life is the gift of God through Christ, which
is a great and glorious truth of the Gospel; but their standing in opposition
to the preceding words require another sense, namely, that God’s gift of
grace issues in eternal life, through Christ: Wherefore, by the gift of God is
not meant eternal life, but either the gift of a justifying righteousness or the
grace of God in regeneration and sanctification, or both, which issue in
eternal life.’ This remark does not appear to be well founded. The wages
of sin do not issue in death, or lead to it, but the wages of sin is death.
Death is asserted to be the wages of sin, and not to be another issue to
which the wages of sin lead; and the gift of God is not said to issue in
eternal life, but to be eternal life. Eternal life is the gift here spoken of. It is
not, as Dr. Gill represents, ‘eternal life is the gift of God,’ but ‘the gift of
God is eternal life.’ The meaning of these two propositions, though nearly
alike, are not entirely coincident. The common version is perfectly correct.
Both of the propositions might with truth be rendered convertible, but as
they are expressed by the Apostle they are not convertible; and we should
receive the expression as it stands. No doubt the gift of righteousness
issues in eternal life; but it is of the gift of eternal life itself, and not of the
gift of righteousness, that the Apostle is here speaking; and the Apostle’s
language should not be pressed into a meaning which is foreign to his
Life after death are set before us in the Scriptures. On the one hand,
indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish; on the other, glory, and
honor, and peace. To one or other of these states every child of Adam will
finally be consigned. To both of them, in the concluding verse of this
chapter, our attention is directed; and the grounds on which never-ending
misery or everlasting blessedness will be awarded, are expressly declared.
‘The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus
Christ our Lord.’
The punishment of that death which was the threatened penalty of the
first transgression, will, according to Scripture, consist in the pains both of
privation and suffering. Its subjects will not only be bereaved of all that is.360
good, they will also be overwhelmed with all that is terrible. As the chief
good of the creature is the enjoyment of the love of God, how great must
be the punishment of being deprived of the sense of His love, and
oppressed with the consciousness of His hatred! The condemned will be
entirely divested of every token of the protection and blessing of God, and
visited with every proof of His wrath and indignation. According to the
awful declaration of the Apostle, they shall be punished with everlasting
destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His
power, in that day ‘when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven
with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that
know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
This punishment will be adapted to both the component parts of man’s
nature — to the soul as well as to the body. It will connect all the ideas of
the past, the present, and the future. As to the past, it will bring to the
recollection of the wicked the sins they committed, the good they abused,
and the false pleasures by which they were deluded. As to the present,
their misery will be aggravated by their knowledge of the glory of the
righteous, from which they themselves are for ever separated, and by the
direful company of the devil and his angels, to the endurance of whose
cruel slavery they are for ever doomed. As to the future, the horrors of
their irreversible condition will be rendered more insupportable by the
overwhelming conviction of its eternity. To the whole must be added that
rage against God, whom they will hate as their enemy, without any
abatement or diminution.
It is not to be questioned that there will be degrees in the punishment of
the wicked. This is established by our Lord Himself, when He declares
that it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment
than for the Jews. This punishment being the effect of Divine justice, the
necessary proportion between crime and suffering will be observed; and as
some crimes are greater and more aggravated than others, there will be a
difference in the punishment inflicted. In one view, indeed, all sins are
equal, because equally offenses against God, and transgressions of His law;
but, in another view, they differ from each other. Sin is in degree
proportioned not only to the want of love to God and man which it
displays, but likewise to the manner in which it is perpetrated. Murder is
more aggravated than theft, and the sins against the second table of the law.361
are less heinous than those committed against the first. Sins likewise vary
in degree, according to the knowledge of him who commits them, and
inasmuch as one is carried into full execution, and another remains but in
thought or purpose. The difference in the degree of punishment will not
consist, however, in what belongs to privation — for in this it must be
equal to all — but in those sufferings which will be positively inflicted by
Our Lord three times in one discourse repeats that awful declaration,
‘Their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.’ The term fire
presents the idea of the intensity of the wrath or vengeance of God. It
denotes that the sufferings of the condemned sinner are such as the body
experiences from material fire, and that entire desolation which
accompanies its devouring flames. Fire, however, consumes the matter on
which it acts, and is thus itself extinguished. But it is not so with those
who shall be delivered over to that fire which is not quenched. They will
be upheld in existence by Divine justice, as the subjects on which it will be
ever displayed. The expression, ‘their worm dieth not,’ indicates a
continuance of pain and putrefaction such as the gnawing of worms would
produce. As fire is extinguished when its fuel is consumed, in the same
way the worm dies when the subject on which it subsists is destroyed.
But here it is represented as never dying, because the persons of the
wicked are supported for the endurance of this punishment. In employing
these figures, the Lord seems to refer to the two methods in which the
bodies of the dead were in former times consigned to darkness and
oblivion, either by in cremation or interment. In the first, they were
consumed by fire; in the second, devoured by worms. The final
punishment of the enemies of God is likewise represented by their being
cast into the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. This imports the
multitude of griefs with which the wicked will be overwhelmed. What
emblem can more strikingly portray the place of torment than the tossing
waves, not merely of a flood of waters, but of liquid fire? And what can
describe more awfully the intensity of the sufferings of those who are
condemned, than the image of that brimstone by which the fierceness of
fire is augmented?
These expressions, their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, to
which it is added, ‘for every one shall be salted with fire,’ preclude every.362
idea either of annihilation or of a future restoration to happiness. Under
the law, the victims offered in sacrifice were appointed to be salted with
salt, called ‘the salt of the covenant,’

Leviticus 2:13. Salt is an emblem
of incorruptibility, and its employment announced the perpetuity of the
covenant of God with His people. In the same manner, all the sacrifices to
His justice will be salted with fire. Every sinner will be preserved by the
fire itself; becoming thereby incorruptible, and fitted to endure those
torments to which he is destined. The just vengeance of God will render
incorruptible the children of wrath, whose misery, any more than the
blessedness of the righteous, will never come to an end.
‘The Son of Man,’ said Jesus, ‘goeth, as it is written of Him; but woe unto
that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! it had been good for that
man if he had not been born.’ If the punishment of the wicked in the future
state were to terminate in a period, however remote, and were it to be
followed with eternal happiness, what is here affirmed of Judas would not
be true. A great gulf is fixed between the abodes of blessedness and
misery, and every passage from the one to the other is for ever barred.
The punishment, then, of the wicked will be eternal, according to the
figures employed, as well as to the express declarations of Scripture. Sin
being committed against the infinity of God, merits an infinite punishment.
In the natural order of justice, this punishment ought to be infinitely great;
but as that is impossible, since the creature is incapable of suffering pain in
an infinite degree, infinity in greatness is compensated by infinity in
duration. The punishment, then, is finite in itself, and on this account it is
capable of being inflicted in a greater or less degree; but as it is eternal, it
bears the same proportion to the greatness of Him who is offended.
The metaphors and comparisons employed in Scripture to describe the
intensity of the punishment of the wicked, are calculated deeply to
impress the sentiment of the awful nature of that final retribution. ‘Tophet
is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and
large; the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a
stream of brimstone, doth kindle it,’

Isaiah 30:33.
While the doctrine of eternal happiness is generally admitted, the eternity
of future punishment is doubted by many. The declarations, however, of
the Holy Scriptures respecting both are equally explicit. Concerning each.363
of them the very same expressions are used. ‘These shall go away into
everlasting (literally, eternal) punishment: but the righteous unto life

Matthew 25:46. Owing to the hardness of their hearts, men are
insensible to the great evil of sin. Hence the threatenings of future
punishment, according to the word of God, shock all their prejudices, and
seem to them unjust, and such as never can be realized. The tempter said
to the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die,’ although God had declared it. In
the same way that malignant deceiver now suggests that the doctrine of
eternal punishment, although written as with a sunbeam in the book of
God, although expressly affirmed by the Savior in the description of the
last judgment, and so often repeated by Him during His abode on earth, is
contrary to every idea that men ought to entertain of the goodness and
mercy of God. He conceals from his votaries the fact that if God is
merciful He is also just; and that, while forgiving iniquity, and
transgression, and sin, He will by no means clear the guilty. Some who act
as His servants in promoting this delusion, have admitted that the
Scriptures do indeed threaten everlasting punishment to transgressors, but
they say that God employs such threatenings as a veil to deter men from
sin, while He by no means intends their execution. The veil, then, which
God has provided, is, according to them, too transparent to answer the
purpose He designs, and they, in their superior wisdom, have been able to
penetrate it. And this is one of their apologies for the Bible, with the
design of making its doctrines more palatable to the world. On their own
principles, then, they are chargeable with doing all in their power to
frustrate what they affirm to be a provision of mercy. Shall men, however
eminent in the world, be for a moment listened to, who stand confessedly
guilty of conduct so impious?
Infinitely great are the obligations of believers to that grace by which they
have been made to differ from others, to flee to the refuge set before them
in the Gospel, and to wait for the Son of God from heaven, whom He
raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to
Eternal life. — Of the nature of that glory of which the people of God
shall be put in possession in the day of their redemption, we cannot form
a clear and distinct idea. ‘It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we
know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see.364
Him as He is.’ In the present state, believers, beholding as in a glass the
glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as
by the Spirit of the Lord. This transformation, while they see only
through a glass darkly, is gradually proceeding; but when they see face to
face, and shall know even as they are known, this image shall be perfected.
Their blessedness will consist in a knowledge of God and His mysteries, a
full and exquisite sense of His love, ineffable consolation, profound
tranquillity of soul, a perfect concord and harmony of the soul with the
body, and with all the powers of the soul among themselves; in one word,
in an assemblage of all sorts of blessings. These blessings will not be
measured in the proportion of the creatures who receive them, but of God
who confers them; and of the dignity of the person of Jesus Christ, and of
His merit: of His person, for they shall obtain that felicity only in virtue
of the communion which they have with Him; of His merit, for He has
purchased it with the price of His blood. So far, then, as we can conceive
of majesty, excellency, and glory, in the person of the Redeemer, so far,
keeping always in view the proportion of the creature to the Creator,
ought we to conceive of the value, the excellence, and the abundance of the
eternal blessings which He will bestow upon His people. The Scriptures
call it a fullness of satisfaction, not a fullness of satiety, but a fullness of
joy, at the right hand of God, where there are pleasures for evermore. It
will be a crown of righteousness; they shall sit down with Christ in His
throne, as He is set down with His Father in His throne. ‘Blessed are they
which are called unto the marriage-supper of the Lamb.’
As to the duration of this blessedness, it shall be eternal. But why eternal?
Because God will bestow it upon a supernatural principle, and
consequently upon a principle free from changes to which nature is
exposed, in opposition to the happiness of Adam, which was natural.
Because God will give it, not as to hirelings, but as to His children in title
of inheritance. ‘The servant,’ or the hireling, says Jesus Christ, ‘abideth
not in the house for ever, but the son abideth ever.’ Because God will
confer it as a donation, that is to say, irrevocably. On this account Paul
declares that ‘the gift of God is eternal life.’ None of the causes which
produce changes will have place in heaven; — not the inequality of nature,
for it shall be swallowed up in glory — not sin, for it will be entirely
abolished — not the temptations of Satan, for Satan will have no entrance.365
there — not the mutability of the creature, for God will possess His
people fully and perfectly.
Through Jesus Christ. — Eternal life comes to the people of God as a free
gift, yet it is through Jesus Christ. By His mediation alone reconciliation
between God and man is effected, peace established, communion restored,
and every blessing conferred. The smallest as well as the greatest gift is
bestowed through Him; and they are not the less free gifts from God,
because Christ our Lord has paid the price of redemption. He Himself was
given for this end by the Father, and He and the Father are one. He, then,
who pays the ransom is one and the same who justifies, so that the
freeness of the gift is not in the smallest degree diminished.
This gift of eternal life is bestowed through Jesus Christ, and by Him it is
dispensed, — ’Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may also glorify Thee: as
Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to as many as
Thou hast given Him.’ ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and
they follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life.’ Our Lord. — His
people are constantly to keep in mind that Jesus Christ is their Lord,
whose authority they are ever to regard, and whom, as their Lord and
Master, they are implicitly to obey. He is the Lord both of the dead and
the living, to whom every knee shall bow, and before whose judgment-seat
we shall all stand.
There is a striking similarity between the manner in which the Apostle
winds up his discussion on the free justification of sinners, in the close of
the preceding chapter, and that in which he now concludes the doctrine of
their sanctification. ‘Grace,’ he there says, reigns ‘through righteousness,
unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord;’ and through Him, it is here
said, ‘the gift of God is eternal life.’ All is of grace, all is a free gift, all is
vouchsafed through and in Him who was delivered for our offenses, and
raised again for our justification, from whom neither death nor life shall
separate us. ‘Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.’
The doctrine of free justification by faith without works, on which the
Apostle had been insisting in the preceding part of the Epistle, is
vindicated in this chapter from the charge of producing those consequences
which are ascribed to it by the wisdom of the world, and by all who are
opposed to the Gospel. Far from conducting to licentiousness, as many.366
venture to affirm, it stands inseparably connected with the sanctification
of the children of God.
In the conclusion of the preceding chapter, Paul had asserted that, as the
reign of sin had been terminated by the death of the Redeemer, so the reign
of grace, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord,
has succeeded. He had shown in the third and fourth chapters that this
righteousness is upon all them that believe, who are thus justified freely
by grace. In the fifth chapter, he had exhibited the effects and
accompaniments of their justification. The objection which he had seen it
proper to introduce in the beginning of this sixth chapter, had led to a
further development of the way in which these blessed effects are
produced. In order to this, he says nothing, as has been observed, of the
character or attainments of believers, but simply describes their state
before God, in consequence of their union with Christ. The sanctification
of believers, he thus shows, proceeds from the sovereign determination,
the eternal purpose, and the irresistible power of God, which are exerted
according to His everlasting covenant, through the mediation of His
beloved Son, and in consistency with every part of the plan of salvation.
While this, however, is the truth — truth so consolatory to every
Christian — it is an incumbent duty to consider, and to seek to give effect
to those motives to holiness, presented by the Spirit of God in His own
word, as the means which He employs to carry on this great work in the
soul — presented, too, in those very doctrines which the wisdom of the
world has always supposed will lead to licentiousness. Every view of the
character of God, and every part of the plan of salvation, tends to promote
holiness in His people; and on every doctrine contained in the Scriptures,
holiness is conspicuously inscribed.
The doctrine of justification without works, so far from leading to
licentiousness, furnishes the most powerful motive to obedience to God.
They who receive the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of
God, have the fullest and most awful sense of the obligation which the
holy law of God enforces on His creatures, and of the extent and purity of
that law connected with the most profound sentiment of the evil of sin.
Every new view that believers take of the Gospel of their salvation is
calculated to impress on their minds a hatred of sin, and a desire to flee
from it. In the doctrine of Christ crucified, they perceive that God, who is.367
holy and just, pardons nothing without an atonement, and manifests His
hatred of sin by the plan which He adopts for the salvation of sinners. The
extent of the evil of sin is exhibited in the dignity and glory of Him by
whom it has been expiated, the depth of His humiliation, and the greatness
of His sufferings. The obligation of the law of God also derives unutterable
force from the purity of its precepts as well as from the awfulness of its
If the principal object, or one of the essential characteristics, of the
doctrine of justification by faith was to represent God as easily pacified
towards the guilty, as taking a superficial cognizance of the breach of His
holy law, and punishing it lightly, it might with reason be concluded that it
relaxes the bonds of moral obligation. But far from this, that doctrine
maintains in the highest degree the holiness of God, and discovers the
danger of continuing in sin. It teaches that, even when the Almighty is
determined to show compassion to the sinner, He cannot deny Himself,
and therefore His justice must be satisfied. That Jesus Christ should have
purchased, at the price of His own blood, a license to sin against God,
would be utterly incompatible with the wisdom and uniformity of the
Divine government. God cannot hate sin before its expiation by His Son,
and love it after the sufferings inflicted on account of it. If it behooved
Him to punish sin so severely in the Divine Surety of His people, it can
never be pleasing to Him in those for whom the Surety has made
satisfaction. His holiness is further displayed by this doctrine, which
teaches that it is only through a righteous advocate and intercessor that
they who are justified have access to God.
The Gospel method of justification by the blood of Christ discovers sin
and its fatal consequences in the most hideous aspect, while at the same
time it displays the mercy of God in the most attractive form. Believers
are punished with death in the person of their Divine Surety, according to
the original and irrevocable sentence pronounced against man on account of
his transgression. But as Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead by the
power of the Father, they also have been raised with Him to walk in
newness of life. They are therefore bound by every consideration of love
and fear, of gratitude and joyful hope, to regulate the actions of that life
which has thus been granted to them in a new and holy way. Being
baptized into the death of Christ, in whom they are ‘complete,’ they.368
ought to be conformed to Him, and to separate themselves from sin by its
entire destruction. Their baptism, which is the instituted sign of their
forfeiture by sin of Adam’s life, and their regeneration and fellowship with
Christ in His death and resurrection, exhibit to them in the clearest manner
the necessity of purity and holiness, the way by which these are attained
conformably to the Gospel, and their obligation to renounce everything
incompatible with the service of God. ‘I am crucified,’ says the Apostle
Paul, ‘with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of
God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.’ And, addressing the
believers to whom he wrote, he says, ‘As many of you as have been
baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.’ Ye are ‘buried with Him in
baptism, wherein also ye have risen with Him through the faith of the
operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead,’

Colossians 2:12.
These blessings believers enjoy by that faith which unites them to Christ,
and which is wrought in their hearts by the same power that raised up
Jesus from the dead, and that will raise them up at the last day.
The inducements, then, to love and gratitude to God, held out and enforced
by the doctrine of justification by faith, are the strongest that can be
conceived. The inexpressible magnitude of the blessings which they who
are justified have received; their deliverance from everlasting destruction;
the right they have obtained to eternal blessedness, and their meetness for
its enjoyment; the infinite condescension of the great Author of these gifts,
extending mercy to those who, so far from serving Him, have provoked
His wrath; the astonishing means employed in the execution of His
purpose of saving them, and the conviction which believers entertain of
their own unworthiness, — all impose the strongest obligations, and
furnish the most powerful motives, to walk in obedience to God. ‘We have
known and believed,’ says the Apostle John, ‘the love that God hath to
us.’ As long as the sinner continues to live under the burden of
unpardoned guilt, so long as he sees Divine justice and holiness armed
against him, he can only be actuated, in any attempt towards obedience,
by servile fear; but when he believes the precious promises of pardon
flowing from the love of God, when he knows the just foundation on
which this pardon is established, he cleaves with reciprocal love to God.
He rests his confidence solely on the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, and.369
ascribes to his Heavenly Father all the glory of his salvation. Being
justified by faith, he has peace with God, which he no longer labors to
acquire by his own works. His obedience is a constant expression of love
and thankfulness for the free gift of that righteousness which the Son of
God was sent to introduce, which He finished on the cross, and which
confers a title to Divine favor sufficient for the most guilty of mankind. If
any man professes to believe in Jesus Christ, to love His name, and to
enjoy communion with God, yet obeys not His commandments, he ‘is a
liar, and The truth is not in Him. But whose keepeth His word, in Him
verily is the love of God perfected.’ That which does not produce
obedience is not love; and what does not proceed from love is unworthy of
the name of obedience. The pretense of love without obedience is
hypocrisy; and obedience without love is a real slavery.
The sanctification of the people of God depends on the death of Christ in
the way of its meritorious cause: for through His death they receive the
Holy Spirit, by whom they are sanctified. Jesus Christ has also sanctified
Himself, that He might sanctify them. — He had, indeed, no corruption
from which He needed sanctification; but when He took on Him the sins
of His people, they were His sins as truly as if He had been personally
guilty. This is in accordance with what is declared,

2 Corinthians 5:21,
‘He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin: that we might be
made the righteousness of God in Him.’ In this light, then, He must be
sanctified from sin, and this was effected by His suffering death. He was
sanctified from the sin He had taken upon him by His own blood shed
upon the cross, and in Him they are sanctified.
The sanctification of believers depends, too, on the death of Jesus Christ
in the way of obligation; for, having redeemed His people to Himself, He
has laid them under an inviolable obligation to be holy.’ ‘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, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.’
‘Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in
your spirit which are God’s.’ Their sanctification arises also from the
example of Jesus Christ; for, in His death, as well as in His life, all
Christian virtues were exhibited and exercised in a manner the most.370
admirable, and set before us for our imitation. ‘Christ also suffered for us,
leaving us an example that we should follow His steps’
The sanctification of believers likewise depends on the death of Christ in
the way of motive; for it furnishes an almost infinite number of motives to
holiness of life. In His death, believers discover the profound misery in
which they were plunged in the slavery of sin and Satan — as children of
rebellion and wrath separated from the communion of God. To procure
their deliverance, it was necessary not only that the Son of God should
come into the world, but that He should suffer on the cross; whence they
ought to regard their former condition with holy terror and abhorrence. In
His death they perceive how hateful sin is in the sight of God, since it was
necessary that the blood of an infinite and Divine person should be shed in
order to its expiation. In that death they discover the ineffable love of
God, which has even led to the delivering up of His only-begotten Son for
their salvation. They discover the love and compassion of the Son
Himself, which induced Him to come down from heaven to save them,
which should beget reciprocal love, and an ardent zeal for His service.
They perceive the hope of their calling, and realize the blessings of the
eternal inheritance of God, which have been acquired by that death. They
contemplate the honor and dignity of their adoption, for Jesus Christ has
died that they might become the children of God. They have been born of
His blood, which binds them never to lose sight of this heavenly dignity,
but to conduct themselves in a manner suitable to their high vocation.
In the death of Jesus Christ the eyes of believers are directed to the Spirit
of sanctification, whom God hath sent forth; for in dying Jesus Christ has
obtained for His people the inexhaustible graces of the Holy Spirit. This
leads them to renounce the spirit of the world, and submit to the direction
and guidance of the Spirit from on high. ‘They feel the honor of their
communion with Jesus Christ, being His brethren and joint heirs, the
members of His body, those for whom He shed His blood, and whom He
hath redeemed at so astonishing a price. They behold the peace which He
has made between God and them, which imposes on them the duty of
never disturbing that blessed reconciliation, but, on the contrary, of
rendering the most profound obedience to the Divine law. They discover
the most powerful motives to humility; for the death of Jesus Christ is a
mirror, in which they behold the vileness and indignity of their natural.371
corruption, and perceive that they have nothing in themselves wherewith
to satisfy Divine justice for their sins. His death, placing before their eyes
their original condition, leads them to cry out before God, ‘O Lord,
righteousness belongeth unto Thee; but unto us confusion of face.’ Our
justification is a blessing which proceeds from Thy grace: Thou hast
conferred on us the righteousness of Thy Son; but to ourselves belongeth
nothing but misery and ruin. The death of Jesus Christ presents the
strongest motives to repentance; for if, after the redemption He has
wrought, they should still continue in their sins, it would be making Him,
as the Apostle says, ‘the minister of sin.’ And, finally, the death of Jesus
Christ teaches them not to dread their own death; for He hath sanctified
the tomb, and rendered death itself innoxious to His people, since for them
He has condescended to suffer it Himself. Their death is the last part of
their fellowship on earth with their suffering Redeemer; and as His death
was the gate through which He entered into His glory, so the earthly house
of their tabernacle must be dissolved, that they may be also glorified
together with Him. ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy
victory? Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord
Jesus Christ.’
The resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as His death, presents the
strongest motives for the encouragement and sanctification of believers.
His resurrection establishes their faith, as being the heavenly seal with
which God has been pleased to confirm the truth of the Gospel. Having
been declared to be the Son of God with power by His resurrection from
the dead, they regard Him as the Creator of the world, and the eternal Son
of the Father. It assures them of the effect of His death in expiating their
sins, and obliges them to embrace the blood of His cross as the price of
their redemption. His resurrection being the victory which He obtained
over the enemies of His Church, they are bound to place all their
confidence in Him, and to resign themselves for ever to His guidance. It
presents the most powerful motive to have constant recourse to the mercy
of the Father, for having Himself raised up the Head and Surety of His
people; it is an evident pledge of His eternal purpose to love them, and of
their freedom of access to God by His Son.
In the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ, believers are taught the
certainty of their immortality and future blessedness. Lazarus, and others.372
who were raised up, received their life in the same state as they possessed
it before; and after they arose they died a second time; but Jesus Christ, in
His resurrection, obtained a life entirely different. In his birth a life was
communicated to Him which was soon to terminate on the cross. His
resurrection communicated a life imperishable and immortal. Jesus Christ
being raised from the dead, death hath no more dominion over him. Of this
new life the Apostle speaks as being already enjoyed by His people. ‘He
hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in
Christ Jesus.’ Elsewhere he calls that heavenly life which Jesus Christ
now possesses, their life. ‘Your life is hid with Christ in God.’ ‘When
Christ, who is our life, shall appear, ye also shall appear with Him in
glory.’ ‘Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me,’ He Himself hath said,
‘shall never die.’ All this should inspire His people with courage to finish
their course here, in order to go to take possession of the heavenly
inheritance which He has gone before to prepare for them, and from
whence He will come again to receive them to Himself. It should inspire
them with fortitude, that they may not sink under the afflictions and trials
which they experience on earth. The Apostle counted all things but loss
and dung that he might win Christ — that he might know Him, and the
power of His resurrection. On the resurrection of Jesus Christ he rests the
whole value and evidence of the truth of the Gospel. ‘If Christ be not
risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is vain.’ ‘But now is
Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.’
The resurrection of Jesus Christ, on which believers rest their hope, is
intimately connected with every part of the Christian religion. The
perfections of the Father — His power, His justice, His faithfulness —
were all engaged in raising up His Son from the grave. The constitution of
the person of Jesus Christ Himself also required it. He was the Son of
God, the Prince of Life, holy, and without spot, — consequently, having
nothing in common with death. His body was joined with His deity, of
which it was the temple, so that it could not always remain under the
power of the grave. His resurrection was also necessary on account of His
office as Mediator, and of the general purposes of His coming into the
world to destroy the works of the devil, to subvert the empire of death, to
make peace between God and man, and to bring life and immortality to
light. It was necessary, too, in consideration of His office as a Prophet, in.373
order to confirm by His resurrection the word which He had spoken; and
of His office as a Priest, for, after having presented His sacrifice, He must
live to intercede for His people and to bless them. And to reign as a King,
He must first triumph personally Himself over all His enemies, in order to
cause His people to triumph.
Upon the whole, as in the preceding part of the Epistle, the Apostle had
rested the justification of believers on their union with Jesus Christ, so
upon the same union he rests in this chapter their sanctification. It is in
virtue of this union between Him as the Head, and the Church as His
body, that the elect of God are the subjects of His regenerating grace,
enjoy the indwelling of his Spirit, and bring forth fruit unto God. ‘As the
branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can
ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that
abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for
without Me ye can do nothing.’
This union of believers with Jesus Christ is represented in Scripture in
various expressions, and by different images. The Scriptures declare that
we are one with Him, that He dwells in our hearts, that He lives in us and
we in Him, that we are changed into His image, and that He is formed in
us. This union is spoken of as resembling the union of the head with the
other parts of the body, and the foundation with the superstructure. This
union does not result solely from Jesus Christ having taken upon Him, by
His incarnation, the human nature. For if in this alone our union with Him
consisted, unbelievers would be as much united with Him as believers. The
union of believers with Jesus Christ is a spiritual and mystical union; and,
as one with Him, by Him they are represented. He represents them in the
act of making satisfaction to the Father, taking their sins upon Him, and
enduring the punishment they deserved; for it was in their place, as their
Head and Mediator, that He presented to God that great and solemn
sacrifice which has obtained for them heavenly glory. He represents them
in the act of His resurrection; for, as the Head, He has received for them of
His Father life and immortality. He represents them in His intercession in
their name, and also in His exaltation on His throne. The spiritual life
which they derive from Him consists in present grace and future glory. In
grace there are three degrees. The first is peace with God; the second is
holiness, comprehending all that constitutes their duty; and the third is.374
hope, which, like an anchor of the soul, enters into that within the veil. In
glory there are also three degrees: the resurrection of the bodies of
believers; their elevation to heaven; and the eternal enjoyment of the
kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.
Paul enjoins on Titus to affirm constantly the great truths he had been
declaring, in order that they which have believed in God might be careful to
maintain good works. Those doctrines alone, which, in the opinion of
many, make void the law, and give a license to sin — against which, since
the days of the Apostle, the same objections have been repeated which in
this chapter Paul combats — those doctrines are the means which the
Holy Spirit employs for the conversion of sinners, and for producing
effects entirely the opposite in their hearts. The Bible teaches us that the
plan of salvation, which delivers man from sin and from death by the death
of the Son of God, which had its origin in eternity in the counsels of God,
both as to the choice of its objects, and the manner in which they are
justified and sanctified, and as to its consummation in glory, is founded
wholly in grace. ‘By the grace of God,’ says Paul, ‘I am what I am.’ ‘Now
unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or
think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the
Church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.’.375

ROMANS 7:1-25
IN the preceding chapter the Apostle had answered the chief objection
against the doctrine of justification by faith without works. He had proved
that, by union with Christ in His death and resurrection, believers who are
thereby justified are also sanctified; he had exhibited and enforced the
motives to holiness furnished by the consideration of that union; he had,
moreover, affirmed that sin shall not have dominion over them, for this
specific reason, that they are not under the law, but under grace. To the
import of this declaration he now reverts, both to explain its meaning, and
to state the ground of deliverance from the law. This, again, rendered it
proper to vindicate the holiness of the law, as well as to demonstrate its
use in convincing of sin; while at the same time he proves that all its light
and all its authority, so far from being sufficient to subdue sin, on the
contrary, only tend, by the strictness of its precepts and the awful nature
of its sanctions, the more to excite and bring into action the corruptions of
the human heart.
Paul next proceeds plainly to show what might be inferred from the
preceding chapter. Although he had there described believers as dead to the
guilt of sin, he had, notwithstanding, by his earnest exhortations to
watchfulness and holiness, clearly intimated that they were still exposed
to its seductions. He now exhibits this fact, by relating his own experience
since he became dead to the law and was united to Christ By thus
describing his inward conflict with sin, and showing how far short he came
of the demands of the law, he proves the necessity of being dead to the
law as a covenant, since, in the highest attainments of grace during this
mortal life, the old nature, which he calls flesh, still remains in believers.
At the same time he represents himself as delighting in the law of God, as
hating sin, and looking forward with confidence to future deliverance from
its power. In this manner he illustrates not only the believer’s real
character, but the important fact that the obedience of the most eminent
Christian, which is always imperfect, cannot have the smallest influence in
procuring his justification. He had proved that men cannot be justified by.376
their works in their natural state. He now shows, by a reference to himself,
that as little can they be justified by their works in their regenerated state.
And thus he confirms his assertion in the 3rd chapter, that by the deeds of
the law there shall no flesh be justified. He might have described more
generally the incessant combat between the old and new natures in the
believer; but he does this more practically, as well as more efficiently, by
laying open the secrets of his own heart, and exhibiting it in his own
Ver. 1. — Know ye not, Brethren (for I speak to them that know law), how
that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
Brethren. — Some have erroneously supposed that, by employing the
term brethren, the Apostle was now addressing himself exclusively to the
Jews who belonged to the church at Rome. He is here, as in other parts of
the Epistle, addressing the whole Church, — all its members, whether
Jews or Gentiles, being equally concerned in the doctrine he was
inculcating. It is evident, besides, that he continues in the following
chapters to address the same persons to whom he had been writing from
the commencement of the Epistle. They are the same of whom he had
affirmed in the preceding chapter, verse 14, that they were not under the
law, which is the proposition he here illustrates. Brethren is an appellation
whereby Paul designates all Christians, Gentiles as well as Jews, and by
which, in the tenth chapter, he distinguishes them from the unbelieving
Know ye not. — There is much force in this interrogation, and it is one
usual with Paul when he is affirming what is in itself sufficiently clear, as
in ch.


1 Corinthians 3:16,

6:19. He here appeals to the
personal knowledge of those to whom he wrote. For I speak to them that
know law. — This parenthesis appears to imply that, as they were
acquainted with the nature of law, they must in the sequel be convinced of
the truth of the explanations he was about to bring under their notice; and
in this manner he bespeaks their particular attention.
The law hath dominion over a man. — Man here is not man as
distinguished from woman, but man including both men and women,
denoting the species. This first assertion is not confined to the law of
marriage, by which the Apostle afterwards illustrates his subject, but.377
extends to the whole law, namely, the law of God in all its parts. As long
as he liveth. — The words in the original, as far as respects the
phraseology, are capable of being rendered, either as long as he liveth, or as
long as it liveth. It appears, however, that the meaning is, as long as the
man liveth; for to say that the law hath dominion as long as it liveth,
would be saying it is in force as long as it is in force.
Ver. 2. — For the woman which hath an husband is bound by law to her
husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed
from the law of her husband.
Ver. 3. — So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another
man she shall be called an adulteress, but if her husband be dead, she is
free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to
another man.
The Apostle here proves his assertion by a particular reference to the law
of marriage. And no doubt this law of marriage was purposely adapted by
God to illustrate and shadow forth the subject to which it is here applied.
Had it not been so, it might have been unlawful to become a second time a
wife or a husband. But the Author of human nature and of the law by
which man is to be governed, has ordained the lawfulness of second
marriages, for the purpose of shadowing forth the truth referred to, as
marriage itself was from the first a shadow of the relation between Christ
and His Church. Some apply the term law in this place to the Roman law,
with which those addressed must have been acquainted; but it is well
known that it was usual both for husbands and wives among the Romans
to be married to other husbands and wives during the life of their former
consorts, without being considered guilty of adultery. The reference is to
the general law of marriage, as instituted at the beginning.
Ver. 4. — Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by
the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to Him who
is raised, from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
In the illustration it was the husband that died, and the wife remained alive
to be married to another. Here it is the wife who dies; but this does not
make the smallest difference in the argument; for whether it is the husband
or wife that dies, the union is equally dissolved..378
Dead to the law. — By the term the law, in this place, is intended that law
which is obligatory both on Jews and Gentiles. It is the law, the work of
which is written in the hearts of all men; and that law which was given to
the Jews in which they rested, ch. 2:17. It is the law, taken in the largest
extent of the word, including the whole will of God in any way manifested
to all mankind, whether Jew or Gentile. All those whom the Apostle was
addressing had been under this law in their unconverted state. Under the
ceremonial law, those among them who were Gentiles had never been
placed. It was therefore to the moral law only that they had been married.
Those who were Jews had been under the law in every form in which it
was delivered to them, of the whole of which the moral law was the grand
basis and sum. To the moral law exclusively, here and throughout the rest
of the chapter, the Apostle refers. The ordinances of the ceremonial law,
now that their purpose was accomplished, he elsewhere characterizes as
‘weak and beggarly elements,’ but in the law of which he here speaks he
declares, in verse 22 of this chapter, that he delights.
Mr. Stuart understands the term ‘dead to the law’ as importing to
renounce it ‘as an adequate means of sanctification.’ But renouncing it in
this sense is no freedom from the law. A man does not become free from
the law of his creditor when he becomes sensible of his in solvency. The
most perfect conviction of our inability to keep the law, and of its want of
power to do us effectual service, would not have the smallest tendency to
dissolve our marriage with the law. Mr. Stuart entirely misapprehends this
matter. Dead to the law means freedom from the power of the law, as
having endured its curse and satisfied its demands. It has ceased to have a
claim on the obedience of believers in order to life, although it still remains
their rule of duty. All men are by nature placed under the law, as the
covenant of works made with the first man, who, as the Apostle had been
teaching in the fifth chapter, was the federal or covenant-head of all his
posterity; and it is only when they are united to Christ that they are freed
from this covenant.
What is simply a law implies no more than a direction and obligation
authoritatively enforcing obedience. A covenant implies promises made on
certain conditions, with threatenings added, if such conditions be not
fulfilled. The language, accordingly, of the law, as the covenant of works,
is, ‘Do and live;’ or, ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments;’.379
and ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written
in the book of the law to do them.’ It thus requires perfect obedience as
the condition of life, and pronounces a curse on the smallest failure. This
law is here represented as being man’s original or first husband. But it is
now a broken law, and therefore all men are by nature under its curse. Its
curse must be executed on every one of the human race, either personally
on all who remain under it, or in Christ, who was made under the law, and
who, according also to the fifth chapter of this Epistle, is the
covenant-head or representative of all believers who are united to Him and
born of God. For them He has borne its curse, under which He died, and
fulfilled all its demands, and they are consequently dead to it, that is, no
longer under it as a covenant.
By the body of Christ. — That is, by ‘the offering of the body of Jesus

Hebrews 10:10. Although the body is only mentioned in this
place, as it is said on His coming into the world, ‘A body hast Thou
prepared Me,’ yet His whole human nature, composed of soul and body,
is intended. Elsewhere His soul, without mentioning His body, is spoken
of as being offered. ‘When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin,’

Isaiah 53:10. Dead to the law by the body of Christ, means dead to it
by dying in Christ’s death. As believers are one body with Christ, so
when His body died, they also died,

Romans 6:3, 4. They are therefore,
by the sacrifice of His body, or by His death, dead to the law. They are
freed from it, and done with it, as it respects either their justification or
condemnation, its curse or its reward. They cannot be justified by it,
having failed to render to it perfect obedience,

Romans 3:20; and they
cannot be condemned by it, being redeemed from its curse by Him who
was made a curse for them. As, then, the covenant relation of a wife to her
husband is dissolved by death, so believers are released from their
covenant relation to the law by the death of Christ, with whom they died;
for He died to sin, ch. 6:10, and to the law having fulfilled it by His
obedience and death, so that it hath no further demand upon Him.
Married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead. — Being
dead to the law, their first husband, by their union with Christ in His
death, believers are married to Him, and are one with Him in His
resurrection. Christ is now their lawful husband, according to the clear
illustration employed by the Apostle respecting the institution of.380
marriage, so that, though now married to Him, no fault can be found in
respect to their original connection with their first husband, which has
been dissolved by death. To believers this is a most consoling truth. They
are as completely and as blamelessly free from the covenant of the law as
if they had never been under it. Thus the Apostle fully explains here what
he had briefly announced in the 14th verse of the preceding chapter, ‘Ye
are not under the law, but under grace.’ From the covenant of Adam or of
works, believers have been transferred to the covenant of Christ or of
grace. I will ‘give thee for a covenant of the people’ — all the redeemed
people of, God.
Before the coming of Christ, those who relied on the promise concerning
Him, likewise partook of all the blessings of the marriage union with Him,
and were therefore admitted to heavenly glory, though, as to their title to
it, not ‘made perfect’ (

Hebrews 12:23) till He died under the law, and
put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Till that period there was in the
Jewish ceremonial law a perpetual recognition of sin, and of a future
expiation, which had not been made while that economy subsisted. It was,
so to speak, the bond of acknowledgment for the debt yet unpaid — the
handwriting of ordinances which Jesus Christ, in paying the debt, canceled
and tore asunder, ‘nailing it to His cross,’

Colossians 2:14, as a trophy
of the victory He had accomplished.
Christ, then, is the husband of the Church; and, under this figure, His
marriage relation to His people is very frequently referred to in Scripture.
Thus it was exhibited in the marriage of our first parents. In the same way
it is represented in the Book of Psalm, and the Song of Solomon, and in the
New Testament, where Christ is so often spoken of under the character of
‘the Bridegroom,’ and where the Church is called ‘the bride, the Lamb’s
wife.’ What ignorance, then, does it argue in some to deny the inspiration
and authenticity of the Song of Solomon, because of the use of this figure!
But though believers, in virtue of their marriage with Christ, are no longer
under the law in respect to its power to award life or death, they are, as
the Apostle says,

1 Corinthians 9:21, ‘not without law to God, but
under law to Christ.’ They receive it from His hand as the rule of their
duty, and are taught by His grace to love and delight in it; and, being.381
delivered from its curse, they are engaged, by the strongest additional
motives, to yield to it obedience. He hath made it the inviolable law of His
kingdom. When Luther discovered the distinction between the law as a
covenant and as a rule, it gave such relief to his mind, that he considered
himself as at the gate of paradise.
That we should bring forth fruit unto God. — One of the great ends of
marriage was to people the world, and the end of the marriage of believers
to Christ is, that they may bring forth fruit to God,

John 15:4-8. From
this it is evident that no work is recognized as fruit unto God before union
with Christ. All works that appear to be good previous to this union with
Christ are ‘dead works,’ proceeding from self-love, self-gratification, pride,
self-righteousness, or other such motives. ‘They that are in the flesh
cannot please God.’ ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not
subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.’ We can never look upon
the law with a friendly eye till we see it disarmed of the sting of death; and
never can bear fruit unto God, nor delight in the law as a rule, till we are
freed from it as a covenant, and are thus dead unto sin. How important,
then, is the injunction, ‘Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead
indeed unto sin,’ — and this applies equally to the law, — ’but alive unto
God through Jesus Christ our Lord,’

Romans 6:11.
‘It is impossible,’ says Luther, ‘for a man to be a Christian without having
Christ; and if he has Christ, he has at the same time all that is in Christ.
What gives peace to the conscience is, that by faith our sins are no more
ours, but Christ’s, upon whom God has laid them all; and that, on the
other hand, all Christ’s righteousness is ours, to whom God hath given it.
Christ lays His hand upon us, and we are healed. He casts his mantle upon
us, and we are clothed; for He is the glorious Savior, blessed for ever.
Many wish to do good works before their sins are forgiven them, whilst it
is indispensable that our sins be pardoned before good works can be done;
for good works must be done with a joyful heart, and a good conscience
toward God, that is, with remission of sins.’
Ver. 5. — For when we were in the flesh, the motives of sins, which were
by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
When we were in the Flesh, that is, in our natural state. — The flesh here
means the corrupt state of nature, not ‘the subjects of God’s temporal.382
kingdom,’ as paraphrased by Dr. Macknight, to which many of those
whom the Apostle was addressing never belonged, flesh is often opposed
to spirit, which indicates that new and holy nature communicated by the
Spirit of God in the new birth. ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh,
and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,’

John 3:6. In these words
our Lord points out the necessity of regeneration, in order to our becoming
subjects of His spiritual kingdom. The nature of man since the fall, when
left to itself, possesses no renovating principle of holiness, but is
essentially corrupt and entirely depraved. On this account, the word flesh
here signifies man in his ruined condition, or that state of total corruption
in which all the children of Adam are born. On the other hand, the word
spirit has acquired the meaning of a holy and Divine principle, or a new
nature, because it comes not from man but from God, who communicates
it by the living and permanent influence of His Holy Spirit. Hence the
Apostle Peter, in addressing believers, speaks of them as ‘partakers of the
Divine nature.’
The motions of sins, or affections or feelings of sins. When the Apostle
and the believers at Rome were in the flesh, the desires or affections
forbidden by the law forcibly operated in all the faculties of their depraved
nature, subjecting them to death by its sentence. Dr. Macknight and Mr.
Stuart translate this our ‘sinful passions.’ But this has the appearance of
asserting that the evil passions of our nature have their origin in the law.
The Apostle does not mean what, in English, is understood by the
passions, but the working of the passions. Which were by the law, rather,
through the law. — Dr. Macknight translates the original thus, ‘which we
had under the law.’ But the meaning is, not which we had under the law,
but that were through the law. The motions of sin, or those sinful thoughts
or desires, on our knowing that the things desired are forbidden, are called
into action through the law. That it is thus natural to the corrupt mind to
desire what is forbidden, is a fact attested by experience, and is here the
clear testimony of Scripture. With the philosophy of the question we have
nothing to do. Why or how this should be, is a question we are not called
to resolve. Thus the law as a covenant of works not only cannot produce
fruits of righteousness in those who are under it, but excites in them the
motions of sin, bringing forth fruit unto death. Did work in our members.
— The sinful desires of the mind actuate the members of the body to.383
gratify them, in a manner adapted to different occasions and constitutions.
Members appear to be mentioned here rather than body, to denote that
sin, by the impulse of their various evil desires, employs as its slaves all
the different members of the body. To bring forth fruit unto death. — In
the same way as bringing forth fruit unto God is spoken of in the 4th
verse, so here the Apostle speaks of bringing forth fruit unto death, that is,
doing works which issue in death. Death is not vi