SUMMARY.--Justification by Faith. Peace, Hope and Joy. Christ Died for the Ungodly. His Surpassing Love. Death Through Adam's Sin. Life Through Christ's Righteousness. Law and Grace.
1-5. Therefore being justified by faith. Paul has just shown that men are counted righteous before God, not through obedience to the law, but through faith in Christ. Not law, but faith justifies. The faith that justifies is (1) a faith in Christ; (2) a faith of the heart (Rom. 10:9) which brings the whole life into obedience (Rom. 1:5). Peace with God. While sinners, we are rebels against God. When our rebellion ceases and we are forgiven we are at peace. This blessed peace with God, which brings peace to the soul, is through Jesus Christ. 2. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace. Two things are essential before one can enter into the state of peace ("grace"): (1) Christ, our Mediator; (2) a living faith in him. Having entered into this covenant relation, we can rejoice in hope of enjoying the glory of God in heaven. 3. We glory in tribulations also. The peace of Christ is so sweet, and the hope of the saint so glorious, that the Christian can even exult in present sufferings, since he has assurance that even these minister to his eternal joy. Various steps of progress are named here in order. Affliction works out patience, and patience secures approval. Such is probably the meaning of the word rendered in the Common Version "experience." So Macknight and Schaff render it. Patient endurance of affliction secures the divine approval. 4. Experience, hope. The sense of the divine approval fills the soul with hope. 5. And hope maketh not ashamed. A hope disappointed would fill with shame, but that we will not be put to shame is shown by the fact that the love of God is shed abroad, diffused in our hearts, by means of his Spirit given us. This may mean that our hearts are filled with the love of God; or it may mean that our hearts are conscious of the love of God. What follows seems to point to the second meaning.
6-11. For when we were without strength. Were powerless to save ourselves. In due time. In God's own chosen time. Christ died for the ungodly. For sinners. He came to save, not the righteous, but to "save his people from their sins." 7. Scarcely for a righteous man will one die . The great love of Jesus is now set forth. If "scarcely for a righteous man will one die," who would die for the ungodly? Yet peradventure. One might die for a good man. The world had instances of those who would die for their friends. The "righteous" man is one who is regarded just; the good man is benevolent. 8. But God commendeth his love. His love is not like human love. Christ died, not for friends, but for enemies. It was while we were yet sinners, that he died for us. 9. Much more then. The argument is: If while we were yet sinners, God loved us so well that Christ died for us, much more now shall we, having been justified, freed from sin, by his blood, be saved from the displeasure of God. By his blood. By dying for us. The keynote is "Christ died for us." 10. For if . . . we were reconciled. As sinners, we are the enemies of God, rebels, under his divine displeasure. Through the gospel of the Crucified Redeemer, we obtain peace with God. We turn to him, and are reconciled to him, obtaining forgiveness through faith. God is not reconciled to us, but we to him. His love ever shines, and is shown in his gospel. He is ever ready to pardon, and when we cease our rebellion, and come to him, through Christ, for mercy, he receives us. Shall be saved by his life. He who gave his blood for our reconciliation, will not leave his work incomplete. He died, has risen and ascended on high, and he will not leave us in the grave, but we shall rise with him (1 Cor. 15:22). 11. We also joy in God. The ground of rejoicing is the reconciliation with God which has been effected through Jesus Christ. Atonement, in Common Version, is rendered, as it should be, in the Revision, "reconciliation." The same Greek word is found also in verses 10 and 11. The thought is the same as that of verse 1, when "peace with God" is spoken of. The steps of the divine plan, as shown in these verses, are (1) The death of Christ for us. (2) The satisfaction thus made to the demands of justice. (3) The propitiation, or God's acceptance of Christ's sacrifice for us. (4) Reconciliation. Our acceptance of Christ. "We love God because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). (5) Forgiveness of sin, or justification. Our sins are blotted out. (6) Our redemption from the grave. (7) Our glorification in heaven.
12-14. Wherefore. The section which now follows is one of the most difficult in the Bible to explain clearly in the compass of a few words. It opens up one of the profoundest questions of theology. The "wherefore" refers to the reconciliation (atonement) of Christ spoken of in verse 11. Christ's work of atonement and the effect of Adam's sins are contrasted. As by one man's sin. By the sin of Adam. Thus sin entered into the world. The world of mankind is meant. Death by sin. Death was led in by sin. Had there been no sin, there had been no death. "The tree of life stood in the midst of the garden." So death passed upon all men. As the result of one man's sin. For that all have sinned. The personal sins of responsible persons are not now spoken of, but all the race sinned in Adam, its representative, infants, idiots, and all. Hence all die. 13. For until the law. Paul now shows that all must have sinned in Adam. Until law is given sin is not imputed. Yet sin must have been in the world from the time of Adam until the law of Moses, because death, which is due to sin, reigned. The prevalence of death proved the existence of sin. 14. Death reigned from Adam to Moses. None could escape his universal dominion. He reigned, (1) although law had not come; (2) and those over whom he reigned had not repeated Adam's sin. (3) Unconscious infants could not have sinned against natural law. Hence the inference is that all had sinned in Adam. Hence, again, Adam is a representative man, a representative of all the race, a figure of him that was to come. A type of Christ, likewise a representative of all the race. Through the one all have sinned; through the other all are made righteous, as far as the sin in Adam is involved.
15-19. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. While Adam is a type of Christ, there is a great difference. One kills, the other makes alive. "If through the sins of the one the many (the world of mankind) died," through the gracious gift of God, through one man, Jesus Christ, life has been given to the many. All will be raised at the last day. 16. And not as through one that sinned, so is the gift. A second difference between Adam and Christ is pointed out. One offence of Adam caused condemnation to be sent on Adam and all his race. All have been under death. But the free gift, through Jesus Christ, not only pardons the connection of our race with Adam's sin, but provides a way for the pardon of many offences, all our offences, so as to secure justification. One sin of Adam destroyed all, but the atonement of Jesus Christ provides conditions for forgiveness of all sins. 17. For if by one man's offence. The superabounding grace of Christ is still further shown. As a result of Adam's one offence, death reigned over men. So, on the other hand, those who accept Christ's grace, and enjoy his righteousness, shall, through him, reign in life. The life spoken of is the resurrection from the grave, and the privilege, not the guarantee, of eternal life that is offered through the gospel. 18. Therefore as by the offence of one. By Adam's offence, which brought the sentence of death on all our race. Even so by the righteousness of one. Jesus Christ. The free gift came upon all to justification of life. This passage shows that Christ's death brought for all men all that had been lost by Adam's sin. Adam's sin brought (1) Natural death. (2) Spiritual death to all who continued in sin. Christ's death brings (1) Life for all. All shall be resurrected from the dead. (2) Therefore it brings the full pardon of the sin of our race in Adam. (3) Therefore all infants and irresponsible persons are now sinless. (4) It brings eternal life to all who are freed from Adam's sin, and have no personal sins of their own; and (5) It brings the opportunity of forgiveness of personal sins through the gospel, and hence, of securing eternal life. 19. For as by one man's disobedience. By Adam's disobedience, all disobeyed and were counted sinners. So by the obedience of one, all are counted obedient, and hence, righteous. That is, all inherited penalty for Adam's sin is blotted out for the whole race. All who have not personal sins are held to be justified. Hence all infants are sinless. The basis of infant baptism is removed. Baptism is for those who have personally sinned.
20, 21. Moreover law entered. Not the law, but law. The reference is not only to the law of Moses, but to all divine law, the law written on the hearts of the Gentiles. The effect of its entrance was that offences abounded. Law was continually broken. The reference here is not to Adam's sin, but to the personal sins of each man. Grace did much more abound. The grace of the gospel offers a free pardon to all who have broken law if they will come to God through Christ. 21. That as sin hath reigned. Hence, with this gracious gospel of mercy for every penitent believer, even as sin once reigned and caused universal death, so might grace reign. All might accept the gospel, and enjoy the divine favor, and thus secure eternal life through Jesus Christ. The scope of God's plan of salvation is wide enough for all. If there are those who are unsaved, it is because they will not come to Christ that they might have life.