Romans Chapter 5:1-11, 15, 20-21 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
Romans 5:1
1.Being then justified, etc. The Apostle begins to illustrate by the effects, what he has hitherto said of the righteousness of faith: and hence the whole of this chapter is taken up with amplifications, which are no less calculated to explain than to confirm. He had said before, that faith is abolished, if righteousness is sought by works; and in this case perpetual inquietude would disturb miserable souls, as they can find nothing substantial in themselves: but he teaches us now, that they are rendered quiet and tranquil, when we have obtained righteousness by faith, we have peace with God; and this is the peculiar fruit of the righteousness of faith. When any one strives to seek tranquillity of conscience by works, (which is the case with profane and ignorant men,) he labors for it in vain; for either his heart is asleep through his disregard or forgetfulness of God’s judgment, or else it is full of trembling and dread, until it reposes on Christ, who is alone our peace.

Then peace means tranquillity of conscience, which arises from this, — that it feels itself to be reconciled to God. This the Pharisee has not, who swells with false confidence in his own works; nor the stupid sinner, who is not disquieted, because he is inebriated with the sweetness of vices: for though neither of these seems to have a manifest disquietude, as he is who is smitten with a consciousness of sin; yet as they do not really approach the tribunal of God, they have no reconciliation with him; for insensibility of conscience is, as it were, a sort of retreating from God. Peace with God is opposed to the dead security of the flesh, and for this reason, — because the first thing is, that every one should become awakened as to the account he must render of his life; and no one can stand boldly before God, but he who relies on a gratuitous reconciliation; for as long as he is God, all must otherwise tremble and be confounded. And this is the strongest of proofs, that our opponents do nothing but prate to no purpose, when they ascribe righteousness to works; for this conclusion of Paul is derived from this fact, — that miserable souls always tremble, except they repose on the grace of Christ.

Matthew Henry
Romans 5:1
I. We have peace with God, Rom_5:1. It is sin that breeds the quarrel between us and God, creates not only a strangeness, but an enmity; the holy righteous God cannot in honour be at peace with a sinner while he continues under the guilt of sin. Justification takes away the guilt, and so makes way for peace. And such are the benignity and good-will of God to man that, immediately upon the removing of that obstacle, the peace is made. By faith we lay hold of God’s arm and of his strength, and so are at peace, Isa_27:4, Isa_27:5. There is more in this peace than barely a cessation of enmity, there is friendship and loving-kindness, for God is either the worst enemy or the best friend. Abraham, being justified by faith, was called the friend of God (Jam_2:23), which was his honour, but not his peculiar honour: Christ has called his disciples friends, Joh_15:13-15. And surely a man needs no more to make him happy than to have God his friend! But this is through our Lord Jesus Christ – through him as the great peace-maker, the Mediator between God and man, that blessed Day’s-man that has laid his hand upon us both. Adam, in innocency, had peace with God immediately; there needed no such mediator. But to guilty sinful man it is a very dreadful thing to think of God out of Christ; for he is our peace, Eph_2:14, not only the maker, but the matter and maintainer, of our peace, Col_1:20.

Charles Hodge
Rom_5:1
Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God; that is, we are reconciled to God. We are no longer the objects of God’s displeasure, his favor having been propitiated by the death of his Son, Rom_5:10. As a consequence of this reconciliation, we have conscious peace with God, that is, we have neither any longer the present upbraidings of an unappeased conscience, nor the dread of divine vengeance. Both these ideas are included in the peace here spoken of. The latter, however, is altogether the more prominent.

The phrase εἰρήνην ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, we have peace in regard to God, properly means, God is at peace with us, his ὁργή (wrath) towards us is removed. It expresses, as Philippi says, “not a state of mind, but a relation to God.” It is that relation which arises from the expiation of sin, and consequently justification. We are no longer his enemies, in the objective sense of the term (see Rom_5:10), but are the objects of his favor. The whole context still treats of reconciliation and propitiation, of the removal of the wrath of God by the death of his Son, and not of inward sanctification. It is true that the immediate and certain effect of God’s reconciliation to us is our reconciliation to him. If he is at peace with us, we have inward peace. Conscience is only the reflection of his countenance, the echo, often feeble and indistinct, often terribly clear and unmistakable, of his judgment; and therefore subjective peace uniformly attends faith in the love of God, or assurance of our justification. Although, therefore, the primary idea of the apostle is, that God is at peace with us, it is nevertheless true that inward tranquility of mind is the fruit of justification by faith. It is peculiarly an evangelical doctrine, that pious affections are the fruit of this reconciliation to God, and not the cause of it. Paul says this peace is the result of justification by faith. He who relies on his works for justification, can have no peace. He can neither remove the displeasure of God, nor quiet the apprehension of punishment. Peace is not the result of mere gratuitous forgiveness, but of justification, of a reconciliation founded upon atonement. The enlightened conscience is never satisfied until it sees that God can be just in justifying the ungodly; that sin has been punished, the justice of God satisfied, his law honored and vindicated. It is when he thus sees justice and mercy embracing each other, that the believer has that peace which passes all understanding; that sweet quiet of the soul in which deep humility, in view of personal unworthiness, is mingled with the warmest gratitude to that Savior by whose blood God’s justice has been satisfied, and conscience appeased. Hence Paul says we have this peace through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not through ourselves in any way, neither by our own merit, nor our own efforts. It is all of grace. It is all through Jesus Christ. And this the justified soul is ever anxious to acknowledge.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Romans 5:1
Rom_5:1-11. The blessed effects of justification by faith.
The proof of this doctrine being now concluded, the apostle comes here to treat of its fruits, reserving the full consideration of this topic to another stage of the argument (Rom_8:1-39).

Therefore being — “having been.”

justified by faith, we have peace with God, etc. — If we are to be guided by manuscript authority, the true reading here, beyond doubt, is, “Let us have peace”; a reading, however, which most reject, because they think it unnatural to exhort men to have what it belongs to God to give, because the apostle is not here giving exhortations, but stating matters of fact. But as it seems hazardous to set aside the decisive testimony of manuscripts, as to what the apostle did write, in favor of what we merely think he ought to have written, let us pause and ask – If it be the privilege of the justified to “have peace with God,” why might not the apostle begin his enumeration of the fruits of justification by calling on believers to “realize” this peace as belonged to them, or cherish the joyful consciousness of it as their own? And if this is what he has done, it would not be necessary to continue in the same style, and the other fruits of justification might be set down, simply as matters of fact. This “peace” is first a change in God’s relation to us; and next, as the consequence of this, a change on our part towards Him. God, on the one hand, has “reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ” (2Co_5:18); and we, on the other hand, setting our seal to this, “are reconciled to God” (2Co_5:20). The “propitiation” is the meeting-place; there the controversy on both sides terminates in an honorable and eternal “peace.”

Pulpit Commentary
Romans 5:1
Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of the ecomen of the Textus Receptus, an overwhelming preponderance of authority, including uncials, versions, and Fathers, supports ecwmen (“let us have”). If this be the true reading, the expression must be intended as hortatory, meaning, apparently, “Let us appreciate and realize our peace with God which we have in being justified by faith.” But hortation here does not appear in keeping with what follows, in which the results of our being justified by faith are described in terms clearly, corresponding with the idea of our having peace with God. The passage as a whole is not hortatory, but descriptive, and “we have peace” comes in naturally as an initiatory statement of what is afterwards carried out. This being the case, it is a question whether an exception may not be allowed in this case to the usually sound rule of bowing to decided preponderance of authority with respect to readings. That ecwmen was an early and widely accepted reading there can be no doubt; but still it may not have been the original one, the other appearing more probable. Scrivener is of opinion that “the itacism of w for o , so familiar to all collators of Greek manuscripts, crept into some very early copy, from which it was propagated among our most venerable codices, even those from which the earliest versions were made.

Vers. 1, 2. Christian privilege.
There has been laid, in the preceding chapters, a firm foundation for the doctrines, promises, and precepts recorded here. The apostle has depicted human sin, misery, and helplessness; has shown how impossible it is that man should be justified by the works of the Law, and that his sole hope lies in the free mercy of God; and has set forth Christ Jesus crucified and raised as the ground upon which Divine favour is extended to the penitent and believing, justifying this method of procedure as in harmony with the universal administration of the Divine government. If we take, with the Revised Version, the verbs in these verses as in the imperative mood, they then contain a summons to all true Christians to appropriate the spiritual privileges secured to them by the Author of eternal salvation.

I We have here a STATEMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN”S POSITION.

1. What is it? Justification; a state of acceptance with God, who, for Christ”s sake, regards and treats the believer in Jesus as righteous, and not as guilty. Until the conscience is assured of Divine favour and forgiveness there is no solid peace.

2. Who secures it? Jesus Christ. Although Paul has already shown this at length, he refers again in both these verses to the Redeemer, to whom we owe justification, and all the blessings which follow in its train. It is through him that we “have had our introduction into this grace.

3. How is it obtained? By faith. Christ has done all that is necessary, on his part, to secure our salvation. But there is needed something upon our part. We have to receive upon the Divine terms, as a free gift, the greatest of all blessings. It is a spiritual act and attitude and exercise, indispensable to the new life.

4. By what title is it held? By that of grace; it is gratuitous. This is for our advantage; for no question is raised as to our fitness. The only question is as to God”s faithfulness; and this is not only pledged, but absolutely sure.

II We have here a REPRESENTATION OF THE CHRISTIAN”S PRESENT PRIVILEGE, “We have,” says the apostle,” or rather, “let us have peace with God.

1. This is the peace of submission. The sinner is at enmity with God. In becoming a Christian, he lays down the weapons of rebellion, and ceases from his opposition to rightful authority It is a complete reversal of his former attitude.

2. This is also the peace of reconciliation. Concord is established. Divine rule is cordially accepted, Divine principles acknowledged, Divine precepts obeyed. The Christian takes God”s will for his will; and this is true peace.

3. It is, further, the peace of confidence. Nations are sometimes on the footing, with respect to one another, of an armed truce. Very different is the relation between the God of peace and his reconciled, obedient subjects; for they can rest in the assured enjoyment of his favour. Therefore theirs is a peace which passeth understanding, and a peace which is never to be violated.

A.T. Robertson
Romans 5:1
Being therefore justified by faith (dikaiōthentes oun ek pisteōs). First aorist passive participle of dikaioō, to set right and expressing antecedent action to the verb echōmen. The oun refers to the preceding conclusive argument (chapters 1 to 4) that this is done by faith.

Let us have peace with God (eirēnēn echōmen pros ton theon). This is the correct text beyond a doubt, the present active subjunctive, not echomen (present active indicative) of the Textus Receptus which even the American Standard Bible accepts. It is curious how perverse many real scholars have been on this word and phrase here. Godet, for instance. Vincent says that “it is difficult if not impossible to explain it.” One has only to observe the force of the tense to see Paul’s meaning clearly. The mode is the volitive subjunctive and the present tense expresses linear action and so does not mean “make peace” as the ingressive aorist subjunctive eirēnēn schōmen would mean. A good example of schōmen occurs in Mat_21:38 (schōmen tēn klēronomian autou) where it means: “Let us get hold of his inheritance.” Here eirēnēn echōmen can only mean: “Let us enjoy peace with God” or “Let us retain peace with God.” We have in Act_9:31 eichen eirēnēn (imperfect and so linear), the church “enjoyed peace,” not “made peace.” The preceding justification (dikaiōthentes) “made peace with God.” Observe pros (face to face) with ton theon and dia (intermediate agent) with tou kuriou.

R.B. Terry
Romans 5:1 :
TEXT: “since we are declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God”
EVIDENCE: Sa B3 G P Psi 0220vid 104 365 1241 1506 1739 1881 2464 2495 some Byz Lect two lat some vg syr(h) cop(south)
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSV NASV NIV NEBn TEV
RANK: C

NOTES: “since we are declared righteous by faith, let us have peace with God”
EVIDENCE: S* A B* C D K 33 81 630 1175 some Byz most lat most vg syr(p,pal) cop(north)
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSVn NASVn NIVn NEB TEVn
COMMENTS: The difference between the two readings is that between a short “o” and a long “o.” The variation probably arose due to a mistake of the ear. The UBS Textual Committee judged that the statement “we have peace” is more appropriate here than the exhortation “let us have peace.”

Marvin Vincent
Romans 5:1
We have (ἔχομεν)
The true reading is ἔχωμεν let us have; but it is difficult if not impossible to explain it. Godet says: “No exegete has been able satisfactorily to account for this imperative suddenly occurring in the midst of a didactic development.” Some explain as a concessive subjunctive, we may have; but the use of this in independent sentences is doubtful. Others give the deliberative sense, shall we have; but this occurs only in doubtful questions, as Rom_6:1. A similar instance is found Heb_12:28. “Let us have grace,” where the indicative might naturally be expected. Compare also the disputed reading, let us bear, 1Co_15:49, and see note there.

Peace (εἰρήνην)
Not contentment, satisfaction, quiet, see Phi_4:7; but the state of reconciliation as opposed to enmity (Rom_5:10).

With God (πρός)
See on with God, Joh_1:1.

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:1
Therefore – οὖν oun Since we are thus justified, or as a consequence of being justified, we have peace.

Being justified by faith – See the notes at Rom_1:17; Rom_3:24; Rom_4:5.

We – That is, all who are justified. The apostle is evidently speaking of true Christians.

Have peace with God – see the note at Joh_14:27. True religion is often represented as peace with God; see Act_10:36; Rom_8:6; Rom_10:15; Rom_14:17; Gal_5:22; see also Isa_32:17: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace, And the effect of righteousness. Quietness and assurance forever:”

This is called peace, because,

(1) The sinner is represented as the enemy of God, Rom_8:7; Eph_2:16; Jam_4:4; Joh_15:18, Joh_15:24; Joh_17:14; Rom_1:30.

(2) the state of a sinner’s mind is far from peace. He is often agitated, alarmed, trembling. He feels that he is alienated from God. For, “The wicked are like the troubled sea. For it never can be at rest;Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” Isa_57:20.

The sinner in this state regards God as his enemy. He trembles when he thinks of his Law; fears his judgments; is alarmed when he thinks of hell. His bosom is a stranger to peace. This has been felt in all lands, alike under the thunders of the Law of Sinai among the Jews; in the pagan world; and in lands where the gospel is preached. It is the effect of an alarmed and troubled conscience.

(3) the plan of salvation by Christ reveals God as willing to be reconciled. He is ready to pardon, and to be at peace. If the sinner repents and believes, God can now consistently forgive him, and admit him to favor. It is therefore a plan by which the mind of God and of the sinner can become reconciled, or united in feeling and in purpose. The obstacles on the part of God to reconciliation, arising from his justice and Law, have been removed, and he is now willing to be at peace. The obstacles on the part of man, arising from his sin, his rebellion, and his conscious guilt, may be taken away, and he can now regard God as his friend.

(4) the effect of this plan, when the sinner embraces it, is to produce peace in his own mind. He experiences peace; a peace which the world gives not, and which the world cannot take away, Phi_4:7; 1Pe_1:8; Joh_16:22. Usually in the work of conversion to God, this peace is the first evidence that is felt of the change of heart. Before, the sinner was agitated and troubled. But often suddenly, a peace and calmness is felt, which is before unknown. The alarm subsides; the heart is calm; the fears die away, like the waves of the ocean after a storm. A sweet tranquillity visits the heart – a pure shining light, like the sunbeams that break through the opening clouds after a tempest. The views, the feelings, the desires are changed; and the bosom that was just before filled with agitation and alarm, that regarded God as its enemy, is now at peace with him, and with all the world.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ – By means of the atonement of the Lord Jesus. It is his mediation that has procured it.

John Calvin
Romans 5:2
2.Through whom we have access, etc. Our reconciliation with God depends only on Christ; for he only is the beloved Son, and we are all by nature the children of wrath. But this favor is communicated to us by the gospel; for the gospel is the ministry of reconciliation, by the means of which we are in a manner brought into the kingdom of God. Rightly then does Paul set before our eyes in Christ a sure pledge of God’s favor, that he might more easily draw us away from every confidence in works. And as he teaches us by the wordaccess, that salvation begins with Christ, he excludes those preparations by which foolish men imagine that they can anticipate God’s mercy; as though he said, “Christ comes not to you, nor helps you, on account of your merits.” He afterwards immediately subjoins, that it is through the continuance of the same favor that our salvation becomes certain and sure; by which he intimates, that perseverance is not founded on our power and diligence, but on Christ; though at the same time by saying, that we stand, he indicates that the gospel ought to strike deep roots into the hearts of the godly, so that being strengthened by its truth, they may stand firm against all the devices of Satan and of the flesh. And by the word stand, he means, that faith is not a changeable persuasion, only for one day; but that it is immutable, and that it sinks deep into the heart, so that it endures through life. It is then not he, who by a sudden impulse is led to believe, that has faith, and is to be reckoned among the faithful; but he who constantly, and, so to speak, with a firm and fixed foot, abides in that station appointed to him by God, so as to cleave always to Christ.

And glory in the hope, etc. The reason that the hope of a future life exists and dares to exult, is this, — because we rest on God’s favor as on a sure foundation: for Paul’s meaning is, that though the faithful are now pilgrims on the earth, they yet by hope scale the heavens, so that they quietly enjoy in their own bosoms their future inheritance. And hereby are subverted two of the most pestilent dogmas of the sophists. What they do in the first place is, they bid Christians to be satisfied with moral conjecture as to the perception of God’s favor towards them; and secondly, they teach that all are uncertain as to their final perseverance; but except there be at present sure knowledge, and a firm and undoubting persuasion as to the future, who would dare to glory? The hope of the glory of God has shone upon us through the gospel, which testifies that we shall be participators of the Divine nature; for when we shall see God face to face, we shall be like him. (2Pe_1:4; 1Jo_3:2.)

Matthew Henry
Rom 5:2
II. We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, Rom_5:2. This is a further privilege, not only peace, but grace, that is, this favour. Observe,

1. The saints’ happy state. It is a state of grace, God’s loving-kindness to us and our conformity to God; he that hath God’s love and God’s likeness is in a state of grace. Now into this grace we have access prosagōgēn – an introduction, which implies that we were not born in this state; we are by nature children of wrath, and the carnal mind is enmity against God; but we are brought into it. We could not have got into it of ourselves, nor have conquered the difficulties in the way, but we have a manuduction, a leading by the hand, – are led into it as blind, or lame, or weak people are led, – are introduced as pardoned offenders, – are introduced by some favourite at court to kiss the king’s hand, as strangers, that are to have audience, are conducted. Prosagōgēn eschēkamen – We have had access. He speaks of those that have been already brought out of a state of nature into a state of grace. Paul, in his conversion, had this access; then he was made nigh. Barnabas introduced him to the apostles (Act_9:27), and there were others that led him by the hand to Damascus (Rom_5:8), but it was Christ that introduced and led him by the hand into this grace. By whom we have access by faith. By Christ as the author and principal agent, by faith as the means of this access. Not by Christ in consideration of any merit or desert of ours, but in consideration of our believing dependence upon him and resignation of ourselves to him.

2. Their happy standing in this state: wherein we stand. Not only wherein we are, but wherein we stand, a posture that denotes our discharge from guilt; we stand in the judgment (Psa_1:5), not cast, as convicted criminals, but our dignity and honour secured, not thrown to the ground, as abjects. The phrase denotes also our progress; while we stand, we are going. We must not lie down, as if we had already attained, but stand as those that are pressing forward, stand as servants attending on Christ our master. The phrase denotes, further, our perseverance: we stand firmly and safely, upheld by the power of God; stand as soldiers stand, that keep their ground, not borne down by the power of the enemy. It denotes not only our admission to, but our confirmation in, the favour of God. It is not in the court of heaven as in earthly courts, where high places are slippery places: but we stand in a humble confidence of this very thing that he who has begun the good work will perform it, Phi_1:6.

III. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Besides the happiness in hand, there is a happiness in hope, the glory of God, the glory which God will put upon the saints in heaven, glory which will consist in the vision and fruition of God. 1. Those, and those only, that have access by faith into the grace of God now may hope for the glory of God hereafter. There is no good hope of glory but what is founded in grace; grace is glory begun, the earnest and assurance of glory. He will give grace and glory, Psa_84:11. 2. Those who hope for the glory of God hereafter have enough to rejoice in now. It is the duty of those that hope for heaven to rejoice in that hope.

Charles Hodge
Romans 5:2
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace, etc. This verse admits of different interpretations. According to one view, it introduces a new and higher benefit than peace with God, as the consequence of our justification: ‘We have not only peace, but access (to God), and joyful confidence of salvation.’ Besides other objections to this interpretation, it overlooks the difference between ἔχομεν and ἐσχήκαμεν, rendering both, we have: ‘We have peace, and we have access;’ whereas ἐσχήκαμεν is properly, we have had. This clause, therefore, instead of indicating an additional and higher blessing than the peace spoken of in Rom_5:1, expresses the ground of that peace: ‘We have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom also we have had access into this grace.’ So Meyer, Philippi, etc. ‘We are indebted to Christ not only for peace, but also for access to this grace, (this state of justification,) which is the ground of our peace.’ The word προσαγωγή means either introduction or access. In Eph_2:18; and Eph_3:12, it has the latter meaning, which may be retained here. In both the other places in which it occurs, it is used of access to God. Many commentators so understand it in this place, and therefore put a comma after ἐσχήκαμεν, and connect πίστει with εἰς τὴν χάριν ταύτην. The sense would then be, ‘Through whom also we have had access to God, by faith on this grace.’ The objections to this explanation are, that it supposes an omission in the text, and that the expression “faith on the grace,” has no scriptural analogy. The obviously natural construction is to connect προσαγωγήν with εἰς τὴν χάριν ταύτην, as is done in our version, and by the great majority of commentators, and to take τῇ πίστει instrumentally, by faith. The grace to which we have access, or into which we have been introduced, is the state of justification. The fact, therefore, that we are justified, we, rather than others, is not due to anything in us. We did not open the way, or introduce ourselves into this state. We were brought into it by Christ. “Accessûs quidem nomine initium salutis a Christo esse docens, preparationes excludit, quibus stulti homines Dei misericordiam se antevertere putant; acsi diceret, Christum nihil promeritis obviam venire manumque porrigere.” Calvin.

In which we stand. The antecedent of the relative (ᾗ) is not πίστει, but χάριν; in which grace we stand; that is, we are firm; and immovably established. So in Joh_8:44, it is said of Satan, that he stood not (οὐχ ἓστηκεν) in the truth, did not remain steadfast therein. 1Co_15:1, “Wherein ye stand,” 2Co_1:24. The state, therefore, into which the believer is introduced by Christ, is not a precarious one. He has not only firm ground on which to stand, but he has strength divinely imparted to enable him to keep his foothold.

And rejoice in hope of the glory of God. The word καυχάομαι is one of Paul’s favorite terms. It properly means to talk of one’s self, to praise one’s self, to boast; then to congratulate one’s self, to speak of ourselves as glorious or blessed; and then to felicitate ourselves in anything as a ground of confidence and source of honor and blessedness. Men are commanded not to glory (καυχᾶσθαι) in themselves, or in men, or in the flesh, but in God alone. In this passage the word may be rendered, to rejoice, ‘we rejoice in hope.’ Still something more than mere joy is intended. It is a glorying, a self-felicitation and exultation, in view of the exaltation and blessedness which Christ has secured for us.

In hope of the glory of God. The object or ground of the rejoicing or boasting expressed by this verb is indicated here by ἐπί; commonly, in the New Testament, the matter of the boasting is indicated by ἐν, sometimes by ὑπέρ and περί. The glory of God may mean that glory which God gives, or that glory which he possesses. In either case, it refers to the exaltation and blessedness secured to the believer, who is to share in the glory of his divine Redeemer. “The glory which thou gavest me,” said our Lord, “I have given them,” Joh_7:22. There is a joyful confidence expressed in these words, an assurance of ultimate salvation, which is the appropriate effect of justification. We are authorized and bound to feel sure that, having through Jesus Christ been reconciled to God, we shall certainly be saved. This is only a becoming confidence in the merit of his sacrifice, and in the sincerity of God’s love. This confidence is not founded on ourselves, neither on the preposterous idea that we deserve the favor of God, nor the equally preposterous idea that we have in ourselves strength to persevere in faith or obedience. Our confidence is solely on the merit of Christ, and the gratuitous and infinite love of God. Although this assurance is the legitimate effect of reconciliation, and the want of it is evidence of weakness, still in this, as in other respects, the actual state of the believer generally falls far short of the ideal. He ever lives below his privileges, and goes limping and halting, when he should mount up as with the wings of the eagle. Still it is important for him to know that assurance is not an unseemly presumption, but a privilege and duty.

Pulpit Commentary
Romans 5:2 Through whom also we have (rather, have had edchkamenreferring to the past time of conversion and baptism, but with the idea of continuance expressed by the perfect) the (or, our) access by faith (the words, “by faith,” which are not required, are absent from many manuscripts) into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice (properly, glory, kaucwmeya , the same word as in the following verse, and most usually so rendered elsewhere, though sometimes by “boast.” Our translators seem in this verse to have departed from their usual rendering because of the substantive “glory,” in a different sense, which follows) in hope of the glory of God. Prosagwgh (translated “access”) occurs in the same sense in Eph_2:18 and Eph_3:12; in both cases, as here, with the article, so as to denote some well-known access or approach. It means the access to the holy God, which had been barred by sin, but which has been opened to us through Christ. (cf. Heb_10:19) It is a question whether eiv thrin is properly taken (as in the Authorized Version) in immediate connection with prosagwghn , as denoting that into which we have our access. In Eph_2:18 the word is followed by the more suitable preposition prov , the phrase being, “access to the Father;” and this may be understood here, the sense being, “We have through Christ our access (to the Father) unto (i.e. so as to result in) the state of grace and acceptance in which we now stand.” As to “the glory of God,” see above Rom_3:23. Here our hoped-for future participation in the Divine glory is more distinctly intimated by the words, ep elpidi . This last phrase bears the same sense as in 1Co_9:10, and probably in Rom_4:18 above. It does not mean that hope is that wherein we glory, but that, being in a state of hope, we glory.

R.B. Terry
Romans 5:2 :
TEXT: “we also have obtained access by faith to this grace”
EVIDENCE: S*,c {Sa A (“in faith”)} C K P Psi 33 81 104 630 1241 1739 1881 2495 Byz Lect most lat vg syr cop(north)
TRANSLATIONS: KJV ASV RSVn NASV NIV TEV
RANK: C

NOTES: “we also have obtained access to this grace”
EVIDENCE: B D G 0220 four lat cop(south)
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSV NEB
COMMENTS: The words “by faith” are enclosed in brackets in the UBS text. Although it is possible that they were added by copyists, it is also possible that they were omitted by copyists as redundant following verse 1. The reading “in faith” seems to be due to a mistake of the eye. The Greek word for “we have obtained” which is found right before “faith” ends in the same two letters that spell the Greek word for “in.” Apparently copyists saw these letters twice, once as the end of the word and once as the word “in.”

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:2
We have access – See the note at Joh_14:6, “I am the way,” etc. Doddridge renders it, “by whom we have been introduced,” etc. It means, “by whom we have the privilege of obtaining the favor of God which we enjoy when we are justified.” The word rendered “access” occurs but in two other places in the New Testament, Eph_2:18; Eph_3:12. By Jesus Christ the way is opened for us to obtain the favor of God.

By faith – By means of faith, Rom_1:17.

Into this grace – Into this favor of reconciliation with God.

Wherein we stand – In which we now are in consequence of being justified.

And rejoice – Religion is often represented as producing joy, Isa_12:3; Isa_35:10; Isa_52:9; Isa_61:3, Isa_61:7; Isa_65:14, Isa_65:18; Joh_16:22, Joh_16:24; Act_13:52; Rom_14:17; Gal_5:22; 1Pe_1:8. The sources or steps of this joy are these:

(1) We are justified, or regarded by God as righteous.

(2) we are admitted into his favor, and abide there.

(3) we have the prospect of still higher and richer blessings in the fulness of his glory when we are admitted to heaven.

In hope – In the earnest desire and expectation of obtaining that glory. Hope is a complex emotion made up of a desire for an object; and an expectation of obtaining it. Where either of these is lacking, there is not hope. Where they are mingled in improper proportions, there is not peace. But where the desire of obtaining an object is attended with an expectation of obtaining it, in proportion to that desire, there exists that peaceful, happy state of mind which we denominate hope And the apostle here implies that the Christian has an earnest desire for that glory; and that he has a confident expectation of obtaining it. The result of that he immediately states to be, that we are by it sustained in our afflictions.

The glory of God – The glory that God will bestow on us. The word “glory” usually means splendor, magnificence, honor; and the apostle here refers to that honor and dignity which will be conferred on the redeemed when they are raised up to the full honors of redemption; when they shall triumph in the completion of the work: and be freed from sin, and pain, and tears, and permitted to participate in the full splendors that shall encompass the throne of God in the heavens; see the note at Luk_2:9; compare Rev_21:22-24; Rev_22:5; Isa_60:19-20.

John Calvin
Romans 5:3
3.Not only so, etc. That no one might scoffingly object and say, that Christians, with all their glorying, are yet strangely harassed and distressed in this life, which condition is far from being a happy one, — he meets this objection, and declares, not only that the godly are prevented by these calamities from being blessed, but also that their glorying is thereby promoted. To prove this he takes his argument from the effects, and adopts a remarkable gradation, and at last concludes, that all the sorrows we endure contribute to our salvation and final good.

By saying that the saints glory in tribulations, he is not to be understood, as though they dreaded not, nor avoided adversities, or were not distressed with their bitterness when they happened, (for there is no patience when there is no feeling of bitterness;) but as in their grief and sorrow they are not without great consolation, because they regard that whatever they bear is dispensed to them for good by the hand of a most indulgent Father, they are justly said to glory: for whenever salvation is promoted, there is not wanting a reason for glorying.
We are then taught here what is the design of our tribulations, if indeed we would prove ourselves to be the children of God. They ought to habituate us to patience; and if they do not answer this end, the work of the Lord is rendered void and of none effect through our corruption: for how does he prove that adversities do not hinder the glorying of the faithful, except that by their patience in enduring them, they feel the help of God, which nourishes and confirms their hope? They then who do not learn patience, do not, it is certain, make good progress. Nor is it any objection, that there are recorded in Scripture some complaints full of despondency, which the saints had made: for the Lord sometimes so depresses and straitens for a time his people, that they can hardly breathe, and can hardly remember any source of consolation; but in a moment he brings to life those whom he had nearly sunk in the darkness of death. So that what Paul says is always accomplished in them — “We are in every way oppressed, but not made anxious; we are in danger, but we are not in despair; we suffer persecution, but we are not forsaken; we are cast down but we are not destroyed.”(2Co_4:8.)

Tribulation produces (efficiat) patience, etc. This is not the natural effect of tribulation; for we see that a great portion of mankind are thereby instigated to murmur against God, and even to curse his name. But when that inward meekness, which is infused by the Spirit of God, and the consolation, which is conveyed by the same Spirit, succeed in the place of our stubbornness, then tribulations become the means of generating patience; yea, those tribulations, which in the obstinate can produce nothing but indignation and clamorous discontent.

Charles Hodge
Romans 5:3 -4
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also. Not only do we rejoice in this hope of future glory, but we glory in tribulations also. Since our relation to God is changed, the relation of all things to us is changed. Afflictions, which before were the expressions of God’s displeasure, are now the benevolent and beneficent manifestations of his love. And instead of being inconsistent with our filial relation to him, they serve to prove that he regards and loves us as his children; Rom_8:18; Heb_12:6. Tribulations, therefore, although for the present not joyous, but grievous, become to the believer matter of joy and thankfulness. The words καυχώμεθα ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν do not mean that we glory in the midst of afflictions, but on account of them. They are themselves the matter or ground of the glorying. So the Jews are said to glory (ἐν) in the law, others glory in men, the believer glories in the Lord; so constantly. Afflictions themselves are to the Christian a ground of glorying; he feels them to be an honor and a blessing. This is a sentiment often expressed in the word of God. Our Lord says, “Blessed are they who mourn;” “Blessed are the persecuted;” “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you.” He calls on his suffering disciples to rejoice and be exceeding glad when they are afflicted. Mat_5:4, Mat_5:10-12. The apostles departed from the Jewish council, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for Christ’s name.” Act_5:41. Peter calls upon Christians to rejoice when they are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, and pronounces them happy when they are reproached for his sake. 1Pe_4:13, 1Pe_4:14. And Paul says, “Most gladly therefore will I glory in (on account of) my infirmities,” (i.e. my sufferings.) “I take pleasure,” he says, “in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake.” 2Co_12:9, 2Co_12:10. This is not irrational or fanatical.

Christians do not glory in suffering, as such, or for its own sake, but as the Bible teaches,

1. Because they consider it an honor to suffer for Christ.

2. Because they rejoice in being the occasion of manifesting his power in their support and deliverance; and,

3. Because suffering is made the means of their own sanctification and preparation for usefulness here, and for heaven hereafter.

The last of these reasons is that to which the apostle refers in the context. We glory in afflictions, he says, because affliction worketh patience, ὑπομονή, constancy. It calls into exercise that strength and firmness evinced in patient endurance of suffering, and in perseverance in fidelity to truth and duty, under the severest trials. And this constancy worketh experience, δοκιμή. This word means,

1. Trial, as in 2Co_8:2, “In a great trial of affliction,” i.e. in affliction which is a trial, that which puts men to the test.

2. Evidence or proof, as in 2Co_13:3, “Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me.” Compare 2Co_2:9; Phi_2:22. This would give a good sense here: ‘Constancy produces evidence’ of the fidelity of God, or of our fidelity.

3. The word is used metonymically for the result of trial, i.e. approbation, or that which is proved worthy of approbation: ‘δοκιμή est qualitas ejus, qui est δόκιμος.’ Bengel. It is tried integrity, a state of mind which has stood the test. Compare Jam_1:12, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, (ὃς ὑπομένει πειρασμόν;) for when he is tried (ὃτι δόκιμος γενόμενος) he shall receive the crown of life.” Ὑπομονή, the endurance of trial, therefore, makes a man δόκιμος; in other words, it worketh δοκιμή. It produces a strong, tested faith. Hence the parallel expression, τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως, the trying of your faith. 1Pe_1:7. And this δοκιμή, well tested faith, or this endurance of trial produces hope; tends to confirm and strengthen the hope of the glory of God, which we owe to our justification through Jesus Christ.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Romans 5:3-4
we glory in tribulation also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience — Patience is the quiet endurance of what we cannot but wish removed, whether it be the withholding of promised good (Rom_8:25), or the continued experience of positive ill (as here). There is indeed a patience of unrenewed nature, which has something noble in it, though in many cases the offspring of pride, if not of something lower. Men have been known to endure every form of privation, torture, and death, without a murmur and without even visible emotion, merely because they deemed it unworthy of them to sink under unavoidable ill. But this proud, stoical hardihood has nothing in common with the grace of patience – which is either the meek endurance of ill because it is of God (Job_1:21, Job_1:22; Job_2:10), or the calm waiting for promised good till His time to dispense it come (Heb_10:36); in the full persuasion that such trials are divinely appointed, are the needed discipline of God’s children, are but for a definite period, and are not sent without abundant promises of “songs in the night.” If such be the “patience” which “tribulation worketh,” no wonder that

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:3
And not only so – We not only rejoice in times of prosperity, and of health. Paul proceeds to show that this plan is not less adapted to produce support in trials.

But we glory – The word used here is the same that is in Rom_5:2, translated, “we rejoice” καυχώμεθα kauchōmetha. It should have been so rendered here. The meaning is, that we rejoice not only in hope; not only in the direct results of justification, in the immediate effect which religion itself produces; but we carry our joy and triumph even into the midst of trials. In accordance with this, our Saviour directed his followers to rejoice in persecutions, Mat_5:11-12. Compare Jam_1:2, Jam_1:12.

In tribulations – In afflictions. The word used here refers to all kinds of trials which people are called to endure; though it is possible that Paul referred particularly to the various persecutions and trials which they were called to endure as Christians.

Knowing – Being assured of this. Paul’s assurance might have arisen from reasoning on the nature of religion, and its tendency to produce comfort; or it is more probable that he was speaking here the language of his own experience. He had found it to be so. This was written near the close of his life, and it states the personal experience of a man who endured, perhaps, as much as anyone ever did, in attempting to spread the gospel; and far more than commonly falls to the lot of mankind. Yet he, like all other Christians, could leave his deliberate testimony to the fact that Christianity was sufficient to sustain the soul in its severest trials; see 2Co_1:3-6; 2Co_11:24-29; 2Co_12:9-10.

Worketh – Produces; the effect of afflictions on the minds of Christians is to make them patient. Sinners are irritated and troubled by them; they complain, and become more and more obstinate and rebellious. They have no sources of consolation; they deem God a hard master; and they become fretful and rebellions just in proportion to the depth and continuance of their trials. But in the mind of a Christian, who regards his Father’s hand in it; who sees that he deserves no mercy; who has confidence in the wisdom and goodness of God; who feels that it is necessary for his own good to be afflicted; and who experiences its happy, subduing, and mild effect in restraining his sinful passions, and in weaning him from the world the effect is to produce patience. Accordingly, it will usually be found that those Christians who are longest and most severely afflicted are the most patient. Year after year of suffering produces increased peace and calmness of soul; and at the end of his course the Christian is more willing to be afflicted, and bears his afflictions more calmly, than at the beginning. He who on earth was most afflicted was the most patient of all sufferers; and not less patient when he was “led as a lamb to the slaughter,” than when he experienced the first trial in his great work.

Patience – “A calm temper, which suffers evils without murmuring or discontent” (Webster).

John Calvin
Romans 5:4
4.Patience, probation, etc. James, adopting a similar gradation, seems to follow a different order; for he says, that patience proceeds from probation: but the different meaning of the word is what will reconcile both. Paul takes probation for the experience which the faithful have of the sure protection of God, when by relying on his aid they overcome all difficulties, even when they experience, whilst in patiently enduring they stand firm, how much avails the power of the Lord, which he has promised to be always present with his people. James takes the same word for tribulation itself, according to the common usage of Scripture; for by these God proves and tries his servants: and they are often called trials.

According then to the present passage, we then only make advances in patience as we ought, when we regard it as having been continued to us by God’s power, and thus entertain hope as to the future, that God’s favor, which has ever succored us in our necessities, will never be wanting to us. Hence he subjoins, that from probation arises hope; for ungrateful we should be for benefits received, except the recollection of them confirms our hope as to what is to come.

Adam Clarke
Romans 5:4
And patience, experience – Δὀκιμεν, Full proof, by trial, of the truth of our religion, the solidity of our Christian state, and the faithfulness of our God. In such cases we have the opportunity of putting our religion to the test; and, by every such test, it receives the deeper sterling stamp. The apostle uses here also a metaphor taken from the purifying, refining, and testing of silver and gold.

Experience, hope – For we thus calculate, that he who has supported us in the past will support us in those which may yet come; and as we have received so much spiritual profiting by means of the sufferings through which we have already passed, we may profit equally by those which are yet to come: and this hope prevents us from dreading coming trials; we receive them as means of grace, and find that all things work together for good to them that love God.

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:4
And patience, experience – Patient endurance of trial produces experience. The word rendered “experience” (δοκιμήν dokimēn) means trial, testing, or that thorough examination by which we ascertain the quality or nature of a thing, as when we test a metal by fire, or in any other way, to ascertain that it is genuine. It also means approbations, or the result of such a trial; the being approved, and accepted as the effect of a trying process. The meaning is, that long afflictions borne patiently show a Christian what he is; they test his religion, and prove that it is genuine. Afflictions are often sent for this purpose, and patience in the midst of them shows that the religion which can sustain them is from God.

And experience, hope – The result of such long trial is to produce hope. They show that religion is genuine; that it is from God; and not only so, but they direct the mind onward to another world; and sustain the soul by the prospect of a glorious immortality there. The various steps and stages of the benefits of afflictions are thus beautifully delineated by the apostle in a manner which accords with the experience of all the children of God.

John Calvin
Romans 5:5
5.Hope maketh not ashamed, etc.; that is, it regards salvation as most certain. It hence appears, that the Lord tries us by adversities for this end, — that our salvation may thereby be gradually advanced. Those evils then cannot render us miserable, which do in a manner promote our happiness. And thus is proved what he had said, that the godly have reasons for glorying in the midst of their afflictions.
For the love of God, etc. I do not refer this only to the last sentence, but to the whole of the preceding passage. I therefore would say, — that by tribulations we are stimulated to patience, and that patience finds an experiment of divine help, by which we are more encouraged to entertain hope; for however we may be pressed and seem to be nearly consumed, we do not yet cease to feel God’s favor towards us, which affords the richest consolation, and much more abundant than when all things happen prosperously. For as that happiness, which is so in appearance, is misery itself, when God is adverse to and displeased with us; so when he is propitious, even calamities themselves will surely be turned to a prosperous and a joyful issue. Seeing all things must serve the will of the Creator, who, according to his paternal favor towards us, (as Paul declares in the eighth chapter,) overrules all the trials of the cross for our salvation, this knowledge of divine love towards us is instilled into our hearts to the Spirit of God; for the good things which God has prepared for his servants are hid from the ears and the eyes and the minds of men, and the Spirit alone is he who can reveal them. And the worddiffused, is very emphatical; for it means that the revelation of divine love towards us is so abounding that it fills our hearts; and being thus spread through every part of them, it not only mitigates sorrow in adversities, but also, like a sweet seasoning, it renders tribulations to be loved by us.

He says further, that the Spirit is given, that is, bestowed through the gratuitous goodness of God, and not conferred for our merits; according to what [Augustine ] has well observed, who, though he is mistaken in his view of the love of God, gives this explanation, — that we courageously bear adversities, and are thus confirmed in our hope, because we, having been regenerated by the Spirit, do love God. It is indeed a pious sentiment, but not what Paul means: for love is not to be taken here in an active but a passive sense. And certain it is, that no other thing is taught by Paul than that the true fountain of all love is, when the faithful are convinced that they are loved by God, and that they are not slightly touched with this conviction, but have their souls thoroughly imbued with it.

Adam Clarke
Romans 5:5
And hope maketh not ashamed – A hope that is not rationally founded will have its expectation cut off; and then shame and confusion will be the portion of its possessor. But our hope is of a different kind; it is founded on the goodness and truth of God; and our religious experience shows us that we have not misapplied it; nor exercised it on wrong or improper objects.

Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts – We have the most solid and convincing testimony of God’s love to us, by that measure of it which he has communicated to our hearts. There, εκκεχυται, it is poured out, and diffused abroad; filling, quickening, and invigorating all our powers and faculties. This love is the spring of all our actions; it is the motive of our obedience; the principle through which we love God, we love him because he first loved us; and we love him with a love worthy of himself, because it springs from him: it is his own; and every flame that rises from this pure and vigorous fire must be pleasing in his sight: it consumes what is unholy; refines every passion and appetite; sublimes the whole, and assimilates all to itself. And we know that this is the love of God; it differs widely from all that is earthly and sensual. The Holy Ghost comes with it; by his energy it is diffused and pervades every part; and by his light we discover what it is, and know the state of grace in which we stand. Thus we are furnished to every good word and work; have produced in us the mind that was in Christ; are enabled to obey the pure law of our God in its spiritual sense, by loving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor, any and every soul of man, as ourselves. This is, or ought to be, the common experience of every genuine believer; but, in addition to this, the primitive Christians had, sometimes, the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. These were then needful; and were they needful now, they would be again communicated.

Charles Hodge
Romans 5:5
And hope maketh not ashamed, (καταισχύνει.) Not to make ashamed, is not to put us to the shame of disappointment. The hope of the believer, says Calvin, “habet certissimum salutis exitum.” It certainly eventuates in salvation. See Rom_9:33. The hope which true believers entertain, founded on the very nature of pious exercises, shall never disappoint them, Psa_22:5. The ground of this assurance, however, is not the strength of our purpose, or confidence in our own goodness, but the love of God. The latter clause of the verse assigns the reason why the Christian’s hope shall not be found delusive; it is because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given unto us. ‘The love of God’ is his love to us, and not ours to him, as appears from the following verses, in which the apostle illustrates the greatness and freeness of this love, by a reference to the unworthiness of its objects. To shed abroad, (ἐκκέχυται, it has been, and continues to be shed abroad,) is to communicate abundantly, and hence to evince clearly, Act_2:17, Act_10:45; Tit_3:6. This manifestation of divine love is not any external revelation of it in the works of Providence, or even in redemption, but it is in our hearts, ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν, diffused abroad within our hearts, where ἐν in, is not used for εἰς, into. “The love of God,” says Philippi, “does not descend upon us as dew in drops, but as a stream which spreads itself abroad through the whole soul, filling it with the consciousness of his presence and favor. And this inward persuasion that we are the objects of the love of God, is not the mere result of the examination of evidence, nor is it a vain delusion, but it is produced by the Holy Ghost:” The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God,” Rom_8:16; 2Co_1:21, 2Co_1:22; Eph_1:14. As, however, the Spirit never contradicts himself, he never bears witness that “the children of the devil” are the children of God; that is, that the unholy, the disobedient, the proud or malicious, are the objects of the divine favor. Any reference, therefore, by the immoral, to the witness of the Spirit in their favor, must be vain and delusive.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Romans 5:5
And hope maketh not ashamed — putteth not to shame, as empty hopes do.

because the love of God — that is, not “our love to God,” as the Romish and some Protestant expositors (following some of the Fathers) represent it; but clearly “God’s love to us” – as most expositors agree.

is shed abroad — literally, “poured forth,” that is, copiously diffused (compare Joh_7:38; Tit_3:6).

by the Holy Ghost which is — rather, “was.”

given unto us — that is, at the great Pentecostal effusion, which is viewed as the formal donation of the Spirit to the Church of God, for all time and for each believer. (The Holy Ghost is here first introduced in this Epistle.) It is as if the apostle had said, “And how can this hope of glory, which as believers we cherish, put us to shame, when we feel God Himself, by His Spirit given to us, drenching our hearts in sweet, all-subduing sensations of His wondrous love to us in Christ Jesus?” This leads the apostle to expatiate on the amazing character of that love.

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:5
And hope maketh not ashamed – That is, this hope will not disappoint, or deceive. When we hope for an object which we do not obtain, we are conscious of disappointment; perhaps sometimes of a feeling of shame. But the apostle says that the Christian hope is such that it will be fulfilled; it will not disappoint; what we hope for we shall certainly obtain; see Phi_1:20. The expression used here is probably taken from Psa_22:4-5; Our fathers trusted in thee; They trusted; and thou didst deliver them.They cried unto thee, And were delivered; They trusted in thee, And were not confounded (ashamed).

Because the love of God – Love toward God. There is produced an abundant, an overflowing love to God.

Is shed abroad – Is diffused; is poured out; is abundantly produced ἐκκέχυται ekkechutai. This word is properly applied to water, or to any other liquid that is poured out, or diffused. It is used also to denote imparting, or communicating freely or abundantly, and is thus expressive of the influence of the Holy Spirit poured down, or abundantly imparted to people; Act_10:45. Here it means that love toward God is copiously or abundantly given to a Christian; his heart is conscious of high and abundant love to God, and by this he is sustained in his afflictions.

By the Holy Ghost – It is produced by the influence of the Holy Spirit. All Christian graces are traced to his influence; Gal_5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,” etc.

Which is given unto us – Which Spirit is given or imparted to us. The Holy Spirit is thus represented as dwelling in the hearts of believers; 1Co_6:19; 1Co_3:16; 2Co_6:16. In all these places it is meant that Christians are under his sanctifying influence; that he produces in their hearts the Christian graces; and fills their minds with peace, and love, and joy.

William Sanday
Rom 5:5
5. οὐ καταισχύνει: ‘does not disappoint,’ ‘does not prove illusory.’ The text Isa_28:16 (LXX) caught the attention of the early Christians from the Messianic reference contained in it (‘Behold, I lay in Zion,’ &c.), and the assurance by which this was followed (‘he that believeth shall not be put to shame’) was confirmed to them by their own experience: the verse is directly quoted Rom_9:33 q. v.; 1Pe_2:6.

ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ: certainly ‘the love of God for us,’ not ‘our love for God’ (Theodrt. Aug. and some moderns): ἀγάπη thus comes to mean, ‘our sense of God’s love,’ just as εἰρήνη = ‘our sense of peace with God.’
ἐκκέχυται. The idea of spiritual refreshment and encouragement is usually conveyed in the East through the metaphor of watering. St. Paul seems to have had in his mind Isa_44:3 ‘I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and streams upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed,’ &c.

διὰ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου: without the art., for the Spirit as imparted, St. Paul refers all his conscious experience of the privileges of Christianity to the operation of the Holy Spirit, dating from the time when he definitively enrolled himself as a Christian, i.e. from his baptism.

John Calvin
Romans 5:6
6.For Christ, etc. I ventured not in my version to allow myself so much liberty as to give this rendering, “In the time in which we were weak;” and yet I prefer this sense. An argument begins here, which is from the greater to the less, and which he afterwards pursues more at large: and though he has not woven the thread of his discourse so very distinctly, yet its irregular structure does not disturb the meaning. “If Christ,” he says, “had mercy on the ungodly, if he reconciled enemies to his Father, if he has done this by the virtue of his death, much more easily will he save them when justified, and keep those restored to favor in the possession of it, especially when the influence of his life is added to the virtue of his death.” The time of weakness some consider to be that, when Christ first began to be manifested to the world, and they think that those are called weak, who were like children under the tuition of the law. I apply the expression to every one of us, and I regard that time to be meant, which precedes the reconciliation of each one with God. For as we are all born the children of wrath, so we are kept under that curse until we become partakers of Christ. And he calls those weak, who have nothing in themselves but what is sinful; for he calls the same immediately afterwards ungodly. And it is nothing new, that weakness should be taken in this sense. He calls, in 1Co_12:22, the covered parts of the body weak; and, in 2Co_10:10, he designates his own bodily presence weak, because it had no dignity. And this meaning will soon again occur. When, therefore, we were weak, that is, when we were in no way worthy or fit that God should look on us, at this very time Christ died for the ungodly: for the beginning of religion is faith, from which they were all alienated, for whom Christ died. And this also is true as to the ancient fathers, who obtained righteousness before he died; for they derived this benefit from his future death.

Adam Clarke
Romans 5:6
For when we were yet without strength – The apostle, having pointed out the glorious state of the believing Gentiles, takes occasion to contrast this with their former state; and the means by which they were redeemed from it. Their former state he points out in four particulars; which may be applied to men in general.

I. They were ασθενεις, without strength; in a weak, dying state: neither able to resist sin, nor do any good: utterly devoid of power to extricate themselves from the misery of their situation.

II. They were ασεβεις, ungodly; without either the worship or knowledge of the true God; they had not God in them; and, consequently, were not partakers of the Divine nature: Satan lived in, ruled, and enslaved their hearts.

III. They were ἁμαρτωλοι, sinners, Rom_5:8, aiming at happiness, but constantly missing the mark, which is the ideal meaning of the Hebrew חטא chata, and the Greek ἁμαρτανω. See this explained, Gen_13:13. And in missing the mark, they deviated from the right way; walked in the wrong way; trespassed in thus deviating; and, by breaking the commandments of God, not only missed the mark of felicity, but exposed themselves to everlasting misery.

IV. They were εχθροι enemies, Rom_5:10, from εχθος, hatred, enmity, persons who hated God and holiness; and acted in continual hostility to both. What a gradation is here!

1. In our fall from God, our first apparent state is, that we are without strength; have lost our principle of spiritual power, by having lost the image of God, righteousness and true holiness, in which we were created.

2. We are ungodly, having lost our strength to do good; we have also lost all power to worship God aright. The mind which was made for God is no longer his residence.

3. We are sinners; feeling we have lost our centre of rest, and our happiness, we go about seeking rest, but find none: what we have lost in losing God, we seek in earthly things; and thus are continually missing the mark, and multiplying transgressions against our Maker.

4. We are enemies; sin, indulged, increases in strength; evil acts engender fixed and rooted habits; the mind, every where poisoned with sin, increases in averseness from good; and mere aversion produces enmity; and enmity, acts of hostility, fell cruelty, etc.: so that the enemy of God hates his Maker and his service; is cruel to his fellow creatures; “a foe to God, was ne’er true friend to man;” and even torments his own soul! Though every man brings into the world the seeds of all these evils, yet it is only by growing up in him that they acquire their perfection – nemo repente fuit turpissimus – no man becomes a profligate at once; he arrives at it by slow degrees; and the speed he makes is proportioned to his circumstances, means of gratifying sinful passions, evil education, bad company, etc., etc. These make a great diversity in the moral states of men: all have the same seeds of evil – nemo sine vitiis nascitur – all come defiled into the world; but all have not the same opportunities of cultivating these seeds. Besides, as God’s Spirit is continually convincing the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and the ministers of God are seconding its influence with their pious exhortations, as the Bible is in almost every house, and is less or more heard or read by almost every person, these evil seeds are receiving continual blasts and checks, so that, in many cases, they have not a vigorous growth. These causes make the principal moral differences that we find among men; though in evil propensities they are all radically the same.

That all the preceding characters are applied by some learned men to the Gentiles, exclusively as such, I am well aware; and that they may be all applied to them in a national point of view, there can be little doubt. But there are too many correspondences between the state of the modern Gentiles and that of the ancient Gentiles, to justify the propriety of applying the whole as fully to the former as to the latter. Indeed, the four particulars already explained point out the natural and practical state of every human being, previously to his regeneration by the grace and Spirit of God.

In due time Christ died for the ungodly – This due or proper time will appear in the following particulars: –

1. Christ was manifested in the flesh when the world needed him most.

2. When the powers of the human mind had been cultivated to the utmost both in Greece and Rome, and had made every possible effort, but all in vain, to find out some efficient scheme of happiness.

3. When the Jews were in the lowest state of corruption, and had the greatest need of the promised deliverer.

4. When the fullness of the time came, foretold by the prophets.

5. When both Jews and Gentiles, the one from their jealousy, the other from their learning, were best qualified to detect imposture and to ascertain fact.

6. In a word, Christ came when his advent was most likely to promote its great object – glory to God in the highest, and peace and good will among men. And the success that attended the preaching of Christ and his apostles, together with the wide and rapid spread of the Gospel, all prove that it was the due time, κατα καιρον, the proper season; and that Divine wisdom was justified in fixing upon that time in preference to all others.

Died for the ungodly – Ὑπερ ασεβων απεθανε, He died Instead of the ungodly, see also Rom_5:8; so Luk_22:19. The body of Christ, το ὑπερ ὑμων διδομενον, which is given For you; i.e. the life that is laid down in your Stead. In this way the preposition ὑπερ, is used by the best Greek writers.

Charles Hodge
Romans 5:6
For when we were yet without strength. The connection of this verse, as indicated by γάρ, is with Rom_5:5. We are the object of God’s love, for Christ died for us. The gift of Christ to die on our behalf, is everywhere in Scripture represented as the highest possible or conceivable proof of the love of God to sinners. Joh_3:16; 1Jo_3:16; 1Jo_4:9, 1Jo_4:10. The objection that the Church doctrine represents the death of Christ as exciting or procuring the love of an unloving God, is without the shadow of foundation. The scriptures represent the love of God to sinners as independent of the work of Christ, and anterior to it. He so loved us as to give his only begotten Son to reconcile our salvation with his justice.

In the Greek of this passage, ἔτι γὰρ Χριστὸς ὄντων ἡμῶν ἀσθενῶν, the ἔτι, yet, is out of its natural place; it belongs to ὄντων ἀσθενῶν (as in Rom_5:8, ἔτι ἁμαρτωλῶν,) and not to Χριστός. Such trajections of the particles are not unusual even in classical Greek. See Winer, §61, 4:

‘Christ died for us, when we were yet weak.’ This slight irregularity has given rise to considerable diversity of readings even in the older manuscripts. Some, instead of ἔτι at the beginning of the verse, have εἴγε or εἰς τί, and place ἔτι, after ἄσθενῶν; others have ἔτι both at the beginning and at the end of the clause. The great majority of editors and commentators retain the common reading, and refer the ἔτι to ὄντων, etc., as is done in our version.

We being yet weak. The weakness here intended is spiritual weakness, destitution of strength for what is spiritually good, a weakness arising from, and consisting in sinfulness. The same idea, therefore, is expressed in Rom_5:8, by the words, ἔτι ἁμαρτωλῶν, when we were yet sinners. What, in Isa_53:4, is expressed by the lxx in the words τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν φέρει, he bears our sins, is, in Mat_8:17 expressed by saying, τὰς ἀσθενείας ἡμῶν ἔλαβε, he took our weaknesses.

In due time, κατὰ καιρόν, are not to be connected with the preceding participial, ‘we being weak according to (or considering) the time,’ secundum rationem temporis, as Calvin and Luther, after Chrysostom and Theodoret, render it, but with the following verb, ἀπέθανε, he died κατὰ καιρόν. This may mean, at the appointed, or at the appropriate time. The former is more in accordance with the analogy of Scripture. Christ came at the time appointed by the Father. The same idea is expressed in Gal_4:4, by “the fullness of time;” compare Eph_1:10; 1Ti_2:6; Tit_1:3; Joh_5:4. Of course the appointed was also the appropriate time. The question only concerns the form in which the idea is expressed. He died ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν, for the ungodly. As the apostle had said, ‘when we were weak,’ it would have been natural for him to say, ‘Christ died for us,’ rather than that he died for the ungodly, had it not been his design to exalt the gratuitous nature of God’s love. Christ died for us the ungodly; and therein, as the apostle goes on to show, is the mysteriousness of the divine love revealed. That God should love the good, the righteous, the pure, the godly, is what we can understand; but that the infinitely Holy should love the unholy. and give his Son for their redemption, is the wonder of all wonders. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.” 1Jo_4:10. As the love of a mother for her child, with which God condescends to compare his love towards us, is not founded on the attractive qualities of that child, but is often strongest when its object is the least worthy, so God loves us when sinners.

The whole confidence of the apostle in the continuance of this love (and therefore in the final perseverance of the saints) is founded on its being thus gratuitous. If he loved us because we loved him, he would love us only so long as we love him, and on that condition; and then our salvation would depend on the constancy of our treacherous hearts. But as God loved us as sinners, as Christ died for us as ungodly, our salvation depends, as the apostle argues, not on our loveliness, but on the constancy of the love of God. This idea pervades this whole paragraph, and is brought more distinctly into view in the following verses. Christ died for the ungodly; that is, in their place, and for their salvation. The idea of substitution is not indeed necessarily involved in the force of the preposition ὑπέρ, which means for, in behalf of, while ἀντί means in the place of. None the less certainly, however, is the doctrine here taught. To die for a man, means to die for his benefit. And therefore, if this were all that the Scriptures taught concerning the relation between Christ’s death and our salvation, it would remain undecided, whether he died for us as an example, as a martyr, or as a substitute. But when it is said that he died as a sacrifice, that he gave his life as a ransom, that he was a propitiation, then the specific method in which Christ’s death benefits us is determined. It is therefore with ὑπέρ, as with our preposition for; whether or not it expresses the idea of substitution depends on the context, and the nature of the subject. In such passages as this, and 2Co_5:15, 2Co_5:20, 2Co_5:21; Gal_3:13; Phm_1:13, ὑπέρ involves in it the meaning of ἀντί.

Marvin Vincent
Romans 5:6
For the ungodly (ὑπὲρ ἀσεβῶν)
It is much disputed whether ὑπέρ on behalf of, is ever equivalent to ἀντί instead of. The classical writers furnish instances where the meanings seem to be interchanged. Thus Xenophon: “Seuthes asked, Wouldst thou, Episthenes, die for this one (ὑπὲρ τούτου)?” Seuthes asked the boy if he should smite him (Episthenes) instead of him (ἀντ’ ἐκείνου) So Irenaeus: “Christ gave His life for (ὑπέρ) our lives, and His flesh for (ἀντί) our flesh.” Plato, “Gorgias,” 515, “If you will not answer for yourself, I must answer for you (ὐπὲρ σοῦ).” In the New Testament Phm_1:13 is cited; ὑπὲρ σου, A.V., in thy stead; Rev., in thy behalf. So 1Co_15:29, “baptized for the dead (ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν).”

The meaning of this passage, however, is so uncertain that it cannot fairly be cited in evidence. The preposition may have a local meaning, over the dead. None of these passages can be regarded as decisive. The most that can be said is that ὑπέρ borders on the meaning of ἀντί. Instead of is urged largely on dogmatic grounds. In the great majority of passages the sense is clearly for the sake of, on behalf of. The true explanation seems to be that, in the passages principally in question, those, namely, relating to Christ’s death, as here, Gal_3:13; Rom_14:15; 1Pe_3:18, ὑπέρ characterizes the more indefinite and general proposition – Christ died on behalf of – leaving the peculiar sense of in behalf of undetermined, and to be settled by other passages. The meaning instead of may be included in it, but only inferentially. Godet says: “The preposition can signify only in behalf of. It refers to the end, not at all to the mode of the work of redemption.”

Ungodly
The radical idea of the word is, want of reverence or of piety.

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:6
For when … – This opens a new view of the subject, or it is a new argument to show that our hope will not make ashamed, or will not disappoint us. The first argument he had stated in the previous verse, that the Holy Spirit was given to us. The next, which he now states, is, that God had given the most ample proof that he would save us by giving his Son when we were sinners; and that he who had done so much for us when we were enemies, would not now fail us when we are his friends; Rom_5:6-10. He has performed the more difficult part of the work by reconciling us when we were enemies; and he will not now forsake us, but will carry forward and complete what he has begun.

We were yet without strength – The word used here ἀσθενῶν asthenōn is usually applied to those who are sick and feeble, deprived of strength by disease; Mat_25:38; Luk_10:9; Act_4:9; Act_5:15. But it is also used in a moral sense, to denote inability or feebleness with regard to any undertaking or duty. Here it means that we were without strength “in regard to the case which the apostle was considering;” that is, we had no power to devise a scheme of justification, to make an atonement, or to put away the wrath of God, etc. While all hope of man’s being saved by any plan of his own was thus taken away; while he was thus lying exposed to divine justice, and dependent on the mere mercy of God; God provided a plan which met the case, and secured his salvation. The remark of the apostle here has reference only to the condition of the race before an atonement is made. It does not pertain to the question whether man has strength to repent and to believe after an atonement is made, which is a very different inquiry.

In due time – Margin “According to the time” κατὰ καιρὸν kata kairon. In a timely manner; at the proper time; Gal_4:4, “But when the fulness of time was come,” etc. This may mean,

(1) That it was a fit or proper time. All experiments had failed to save people. For four thousand years the trial had been made under the Law among the Jews: and by the aid of the most enlightened reason in Greece and Rome; and still it was in vain. No scheme had been devised to meet the maladies of the world, and to save people from death. It was then time that a better plan should be presented to people.

(2) it was the time fixed and appointed by God for the Messiah to come; the time which had been designated by the prophets; Gen_49:10; Dan_9:24-27; see Joh_13:1; Joh_17:1.

(3) it was a most favorable time for the spread of the gospel. The world was expecting such an event; was at peace; and was subjected mainly to the Roman power; and furnished facilities never before experienced for introducing the gospel rapidly into every land; see the notes at Mat_2:1-2.

For the ungodly – Those who do not worship God. It here means sinners in general, and does not differ materially from what is meant by the word translated “without strength;” see the note at Rom_4:5.

John Calvin
Romans 5:7
7.For a just man, etc. The meaning of the passage has constrained me to render the particle γὰρ as an affirmative or declarative rather than as a causative. The import of the sentence is this, “Most rare, indeed, is such an example to be found among men, that one dies for a just man, though this may sometimes happen: but let this be granted, yet for an ungodly man none will be found willing to die: this is what Christ has done.” Thus it is an illustration, derived from a comparison; for such an example of kindness, as Christ has exhibited towards us, does not exist among men.

Adam Clarke
Romans 5:7
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die – The Jews divide men, as to their moral character, into four classes:

First class, Those who say, “what is mine, is my own; and what is thine, is thy own.” These may be considered the just, who render to every man his due; or rather, they who neither give nor take.

The second class is made up of those who say, “what is mine, is thine; and what is thine, is mine.” These are they who accommodate each other, who borrow and lend.

The third class is composed of those who say, “What is mine, is thine; and what is thine, let it be thine.” These are the pious, or good, who give up all for the benefit of their neighbor.

The fourth class are those who say, “What is mine, is mine; and what is thine, shall be mine.” These are the impious, who take all, and give nothing. Now, for one of the first class, who would die? There is nothing amiable in his life or conduct that would so endear him to any man, as to induce him to risk his life to save such a person.

Peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die – This is for one of the third class, who gives all he has for the good of others. This is the truly benevolent man, whose life is devoted to the public good: for such a person, peradventure, some who have had their lives perhaps preserved by his bounty, would even dare to die: but such cases may be considered merely as possible: they exist, it is true, in romance; and we find a few rare instances of friends exposing themselves to death for their friends. See the case of Jonathan and David; Damon and Pythias, Val. Max. lib. iv. c, 7; Nisus and Euryalus, Virgil. And our Lord says, Joh_15:13 : Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. This is the utmost we can expect among men.

Charles Hodge
Romans 5:7
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. The greatness and freeness of the love of God is illustrated in this and the following verse, by making still more prominent the unworthiness of its objects: ‘It is hardly to be expected that any one would die, in the place of a merely righteous man, though for the good man, this self-denial might possibly be exercised. But we, so far from being good, were not even righteous; we were sinners, ungodly, and enemies.’ The difference between the words righteous and good, as here used, is that which, in common usage, is made between just and kind. The former is applied to a man who does all that the law or justice can demand of him, the latter to him who is governed by love. The just man commands respect; the good man calls forth affection. Respect being a cold and feeble principle, compared to love, the sacrifices to which it leads are comparatively slight. This distinction between δίκαιος and ἀγαθός is illustrated by that which Cicero, De Officiis, Lib. 3:15, makes between justus and bonus: “Si vir bonus is est qui prodest quibus potest, nocet nemini, recte justum virum, bonum non facile reperiemus.”

The interpretation given above is the one generally adopted; it suits the contest, the signification of the words, and the structure of the passage. The design of the apostle is to represent the death of Christ as an unexampled manifestation of love. Among men, it was never heard of that one died for a man simply just; the most that human nature could be expected to accomplish is, that one should die for his benefactor, or for the good man — one so good as to be characterized and known as the good. There is evidently a climax in the passage, as indicated by the opposition between (μόλις and τάχα) scarcely and possibly. The passage, however, has been differently interpreted. Luther takes both δικαίου and τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ as neuters: “Scarcely for the right will any one die, possibly for something good some one might dare to die.” Calvin makes no distinction between the words: “Rarissimum sane inter homines exemplum exstat, ut pro justo quis mori sustineat quanquam illud nonnunquam accidere possit.” Meyer takes δικαίου as it is without the article, as masculine, but τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ as neuter, and renders the latter clause of the verse interrogatively: “Hardly for a righteous man will one die, for who can easily bring himself to die for what is good (τὸ ἀγαθόν, the good)?” The common interpretation is perfectly satisfactory, and to these, other objections more or less decisive may be adduced. Instead of dikai&ou, the Syriac reads ἀδίκου, ‘Scarcely for an unrighteous man will one die.’ But this is not only unauthorized, but the sense is not so appropriate.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Romans 5:7
For scarcely for a righteous man — a man of simply unexceptionable character.

will one — “any one”

die: yet peradventure for a good man — a man who, besides being unexceptionable, is distinguished for goodness, a benefactor to society.

some — “some one.”

would — rather, “doth.”

even dare to die — “Scarce an instance occurs of self-sacrifice for one merely upright; though for one who makes himself a blessing to society there may be found an example of such noble surrender of life” (So Bengel, Olshausen, Tholuck, Alford, Philippi). (To make the “righteous” and the “good” man here to mean the same person, and the whole sense to be that “though rare, the case may occur, of one making a sacrifice of life for a worthy character” [as Calvin, Beza, Fritzsche, Jowett], is extremely flat.)

A.T. Robertson
Romans 5:7
Scarcely (molis). Common adverb from molos, toil. See note on Act_14:18. As between dikaios, righteous, and agathos, good, Lightfoot notes “all the difference in the world” which he shows by quotations from Plato and Christian writers, a difference of sympathy mainly, the dikaios man being “absolutely without sympathy” while the agathos man “is beneficent and kind.”

Would even dare (kai tolmāi). Present active indicative of tolmaō, to have courage. “Even dares to.” Even so in the case of the kindly sympathetic man courage is called for to make the supreme sacrifice.

Perhaps (tacha). Common adverb (perhaps instrumental case) from tachus (swift). Only here in N.T.

Marvin Vincent
Romans 5:7
Righteous – good (δικαίου – ἀγαθοῦ)
The distinction is: δίκαιος is simply right or just; doing all that law or justice requires; ἀγαθός is benevolent, kind, generous. The righteous man does what he ought, and gives to every one his due. The good man “does as much as ever he can, and proves his moral quality by promoting the wellbeing of him with whom he has to do.” Ἀγαθός always includes a corresponding beneficent relation of the subject of it to another subject; an establishment of a communion and exchange of life; while δίκαιος only expresses a relation to the purely objective δίκη right. Bengel says: “δίκαιος, indefinitely, implies an innocent man; ὁ ἀγαθός one perfect in all that piety demands; excellent, honorable, princely, blessed; for example, the father of his country.”

Therefore, according to Paul, though one would hardly die for the merely upright or strictly just man who commands respect, he might possibly die for the noble, beneficent man, who calls out affection. The article is omitted with righteous, and supplied with good – the good man, pointing to such a case as a rare and special exception.

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:7
For scarcely … – The design of this verse and the following is, to illustrate the great love of God by comparing it with what man was willing to do. “It is an unusual occurrence, an event which is all that we can hope for from the highest human benevolence and the purest friendship, that one would be willing to die for a good man. There are none who would be willing to die for a man who was seeking to do us injury, to calumniate our character, to destroy our happiness or our property. But Christ was willing to die for bitter foes.”

Scarcely – With difficulty. It is an event which cannot be expected to occur often. There would scarcely be found an instance in which it would happen.

A righteous man – A just man; a man distinguished simply for integrity of conduct; one who has no remarkable claims for amiableness of character, for benevolence, or for personal friendship. Much as we may admire such a man, and applaud him, yet he has not the characteristics which would appeal to our hearts to induce us to lay down our lives for him. Accordingly, it is not known that any instance has occurred where for such a man one would be willing to die.

For a righteous man – That is, in his place, or in his stead. A man would scarcely lay down his own life to save that of a righteous man.

Will one die – Would one be will. ing to die.

Yet peradventure – Perhaps; implying that this was an event which might be expected to occur.

For a good man – That is, not merely a man who is coldly just; but a man whose characteristic is that of kindness, amiableness, tenderness. It is evident that the case of such a man would be much more likely to appeal to our feelings, than that of one who is merely a man of integrity. Such a man is susceptible of tender friendship; and probably the apostle intended to refer to such a case – a case where we would be willing to expose life for a kind, tender, faithful friend.

Some would even dare to die – Some would have courage to give his life. Instances of this kind, though not many, have occurred. The affecting case of Damon and Pythias is one. Damon had been condemned to death by the tyrant Dionysius of Sicily, and obtained leave to go and settle his domestic affairs on promise of returning at a stated hour to the place of execution. Pythias pledged himself to undergo the punishment if Damon should not return in time, and deliver himself into the hands of the tyrant. Damon returned at the appointed moment, just as the sentence was about to be executed on Pythias; and Dionysius was so struck with the fidelity of the two friends, that he remitted their punishment, and entreated them to permit him to share their friendship; (Val. Max. 4. 7.) This case stands almost alone. Our Saviour says that it is the highest expression of love among people. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends;” Joh_15:13. The friendship of David and Jonathan seems also to have been of this character, that one would have been willing to lay down his life for the other.

John Calvin
Romans 5:8
8.But God confirms, etc. The verb, συνίστησι, has various meanings; that which is most suitable to this place is that of confirming; for it was not the Apostle’s object to excite our gratitude, but to strengthen the trust and confidence of our souls. He then confirms, that is, exhibits his love to us as most certain and complete, inasmuch as for the sake of the ungodly he spared not Christ his own Son. In this, indeed, his love appears, that being not moved by love on our part, he of his own good will first loved us, as John tells us. (1Jo_3:16.) —

Those are here called sinners, (as in many other places,) who are wholly vicious and given up to sin, according to what is said in Joh_9:31, “God hears not sinners,” that is, men abandoned and altogether wicked. The woman called “a sinner,” was one of a shameful character. (Luk_7:37.) And this meaning appears more evident from the contrast which immediately follows, — for being now justified through his blood: for since he sets the two in opposition, the one to the other, and calls those justified who are delivered from the guilt of sin, it necessarily follows that those are sinners who, for their evil deeds, are condemned. The import of the whole is, — since Christ has attained righteousness for sinner by his death, much more shall he protect them, being now justified, from destruction. And in the last clause he applies to his own doctrine the comparison between the less and the greater: for it would not have been enough for salvation to have been once procured for us, were not Christ to render it safe and secure to the end. And this is what the Apostle now maintains; so that we ought not to fear, that Christ will cut off the current of his favor while we are in the middle of our course: for inasmuch as he has reconciled us to the Father, our condition is such, that he purposes more efficaciously to put forth and daily to increase his favor towards us.

Matthew Poole
Romans 5:8
God commendeth his love toward us; i.e. he declareth or confirmeth it by this, as a most certain sign, he makes it most conspicuous or illustrious: see Joh_3:16 1Jo_4:9,10.

In that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us; i.e. in a state of sin, and under the guilt and power of sin. Believers in some sense are still sinners, 1Jo_1:8, but their sins being pardoned and subdued, they go no longer under that denomination. Sinners in Scripture are said to be those in whom sin dwells and reigns; see Joh_9:31. Such we were by nature. Yea, we were not only sinners, but enemies to God, which further commendeth the love of Christ in dying for us: there is no greater love amongst men, than when one layeth down his life for his friends; but herein Christ’s love excelled, that he gave his life for his enemies.

Pulpit Commentary
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his own love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. The emphatic “his own” is lost sight of in the Authorized Version. It is not in contrast to our love to God, but expressive of the thought that the love of God himself towards men was displayed in the death of Christ. This is important for our true conception of the light in which the mysterious doctrine of the atonement is regarded in Holy Scripture. It is not (as represented by some schools of theologians) that the Son, considered apart from the Father, offered himself to appease his wrath as seems to be expressed in the lines, “Actus in crucem factus es Irato Deo victima but rather that the Divine love itself purposed from eternity and provided the atonement, all the Persons of the holy and undivided Trinity concurring to effect it. (cf. Rom_3:24 Eph_2:4 2Th_2:16 Joh_3:16 1Jn_4:10, et al.) If it be asked how this Divine love, displayed in the atonement, and therefore previous to it, is consistent with what is elsewhere so continually said of the Divine wrath, we answer that the ideas are not irreconcilable. The wrath expresses God”s necessary antagonism to sin, and the retribution due to it, inseparable from a true conception of the Divine righteousness; and as long as men arc under the dominion of sin they are of necessity involved in it: But this is not inconsistent with ever-abiding Divine love towards the persons of sinners, or with an eternal purpose to redeem them. It may be added here that the passage Before us intimates our Lord”s essential Deity; for his sacrifice of himself is spoken of as the display of God”s own love.

Marvin Vincent
Romans 5:8

Commendeth
See on Rom_3:5. Note the present tense. God continuously establishes His love in that the death of Christ remains as its most striking manifestation.

His love (ἑαυτοῦ)
Rev., more literally, His own. Not in contrast with human love, but as demonstrated by Christ’s act of love.

Charles Hodge
Romans 5:9
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. This and the following verse draw the obvious inference, from the freeness and greatness of the love of God, as just exhibited, that believers shall be ultimately saved. It is an argument a fortiori. If the greater benefit has been bestowed, the less will not be withheld. If Christ has died for his enemies, he will surely save his friends. Being justified. To be justified is more than to be pardoned; it includes the idea of reconciliation or restoration to the favor of God, on the ground of a satisfaction to justice, and the participation of the consequent blessings. This idea is prominently presented in the following verse.

‘We are justified by his blood.’ This expression, as remarked above (Rom_4:3), exhibits the true ground of our acceptance with God. It is not our works, nor our faith, nor our new obedience, nor the work of Christ in us, but what he has done for us; Rom_3:25; Eph_2:13; Heb_9:12. Having by the death of Christ been brought into the relation of peace with God, being now regarded for his sake as righteous, we shall be saved from wrath through him. He will not leave his work unfinished; whom he justifies, them he also glorifies. The word wrath, of course, means the effects of wrath or punishment, those sufferings with which the divine displeasure visits sin; Mat_3:7; 1Th_1:10; Rom_1:18. Not only is our justification to be ascribed to Christ, but our salvation is through him. Salvation, in a general sense, includes justification; but when distinguished from it, as in this case, it means the consummation of that work of which justification is the commencement. It is a preservation from all the causes of destruction; a deliverance from the evils which surround us here, or threaten us hereafter; and an introduction into the blessedness of heaven. Christ thus saves us by his providence and Spirit, and by his constant intercession; Rom_8:34; Heb_4:14, Heb_4:15; Heb_7:25; Jud_1:24; 1Jo_2:1. Olshausen here also introduces his idea of subjective justification, and says that the meaning of this passage is, “If God regenerates a man, we may hope that he will uphold and perfect him, and reduce his liability to apostasy to a minimum.” According to this, to justify is to regenerate, and to save from wrath is to reduce our liability to apostasy to a minimum.

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:9
Much more, then – It is much more reasonable to expect it. There are fewer obstacles in the way. If, when we were enemies, he overcame all that was in the way of our salvation; much more have we reason to expect that he will afford us protection now that we are his friends. This is one ground of the hope expressed in Rom_5:5.

Being now justified – Pardoned; accepted as his friends.

By his blood – By his death; Note, Rom_3:25. The fact that we are purchased by his blood, and sanctified by it, renders us sacred in the eye of God; bestows a value on us proportionate to the worth of the price of our redemption; and is a pledge that he will keep what has been so dearly bought.

Saved from wrath – From hell; from the punishment due to sin; Note, Rom_2:8.

John Calvin
Romans 5:10
10.This is an explanation of the former verse, amplified by introducing a comparison between life and death. We were enemies, he says, when Christ interposed for the purpose of propitiating the Father: through this reconciliation we are now friends; since this was effected by his death; much more influential and efficacious will be his life. We hence have ample proofs to strengthen our hearts with confidence respecting our salvation. By saying that we were reconciled to God by the death of Christ, he means, that it was the sacrifice of expiation, by which God was pacified towards the world, as I have showed in the fourth chapter.

But the Apostle seems here to be inconsistent with himself; for if the death of Christ was a pledge of the divine love towards us, it follows that we were already acceptable to him; but he says now, that we were enemies. To this answer, that as God hates sin, we are also hated by him his far as we are sinners; but as in his secret counsel he chooses us into the body of Christ, he ceases to hate us: but restoration to favor is unknown to us, until we attain it by faith. Hence with regard to us, we are always enemies, until the death of Christ interposes in order to propitiate God. And this twofold aspect of things ought to be noticed; for we do not know the gratuitous mercy of God otherwise than as it appears from this — that he spared not his only-begotten Son; for he loved us at a time when there was discord between him and us: nor can we sufficiently understand the benefit brought to us by the death of Christ, except this be the beginning of our reconciliation with God, that we are persuaded that it is by the expiation that has been made, that he, who was before justly angry with us, is now propitious to us. Since then our reception into favor is ascribed to the death of Christ, the meaning is, that guilt is thereby taken away, to which we should be otherwise exposed.

Adam Clarke
Romans 5:10
For if, when we were enemies – See under Rom_5:6 (note).

We were reconciled – The enmity existing before rendered the reconciliation necessary. In every human heart there is a measure of enmity to holiness, and, consequently to the author of it. Men seldom suspect this; for one property of sin is to blind the understanding, so that men do not know their own state.

We shall be saved by his life –

1. For, as he died for our sins, so he rose again for our justification; and his resurrection to life, is the grand proof that he has accomplished whatever he had purposed in reference to the salvation of man.

2. This may be also understood of his life of intercession: for it is written. He ever Liveth to make Intercession for us, Heb_7:25. Through this life of intercession at the right hand of God we are spared and blessed.

3. And it will not be amiss to consider that, as our salvation implies the renovation of our nature, and our being restored to the image of God, so, σωθησομεθα εν τη ζωνυτου, may be rendered: we shall be saved In his life; for, I suppose, it is pretty generally agreed, that the life of God in the soul of man is essential to its salvation.

4. The example also of the life of Christ is a means of salvation. He hath left us an example that we should follow his steps: and he that followeth him, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of Life, Joh_8:12.

Charles Hodge
Romans 5:10
For if, when we were yet enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, etc. This verse contains nearly the same idea as Rom_5:9, presented in a different form. The word enemies is applied to men not only as descriptive of their moral character, but also of the relation in which they stand to God as the objects of his displeasure. There is not only a wicked opposition of the sinner to God, but a holy opposition of God to the sinner. The preceding verse presents the former of these ideas, and this verse the latter most prominently. There it is said, ‘though sinners, we are justified;’ and here, ‘though enemies, we are reconciled’. The word ἐχθροί has the same passive sense in Rom_11:28. And this is the principal difference between the two verses. To be reconciled to God, in such connections, does not mean to have our enmity to God removed, but his enmity to us taken out of the way, to have him rendered propitious, or his righteous justice satisfied. This is evident,

1. Because the reconciliation is ascribed to the death of Christ, or his blood, Rom_5:9. But, according to the constant representations of Scripture, the death of Christ is a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, or to propitiate the favor of God, and not immediately a means of sanctification. The former is its direct object, the latter an incidental result. This is the very idea of a sacrifice. The most liberal commentators, that is, those least bound by any theological system, admit this to be the doctrine of Scripture, and of this particular passage. Thus Meyer: “Christi Tod tilgte nicht die Feindschaft der Menschen gegen Gott;” that is, “The death of Christ does not remove the enmity of men towards God, but as that which secures the favor of God, it removes his enmity towards men, whence the removal of our enmity towards him follows as a consequence.” So also Rückert: “The reconciled here can only be God, whose wrath towards sinners is appeased by the death of his Son. On man’s part nothing has happened; no internal change, no step towards God; all this follows as the consequence of the reconciliation here spoken of.” De Wette also says, that “καταλλαγή must mean the removal of the wrath of God, and consequently the reconciliation is of God to man, which not only here, but in Rom_3:25; 2Co_5:18, 2Co_5:19; Col_1:21; Eph_2:16, is referred to the atoning death of Christ.”

2. The object of the verse is to present us as enemies, or the objects of God’s displeasure. ‘If while we were the objects of the divine displeasure,’ says the apostle, ‘that displeasure has been removed, or God propitiated by the death of his Son, how much more shall we be saved,’ etc. That is, if God has been reconciled to us, he will save us.

3. This is the proper meaning of the word, 2Co_5:18, 2Co_5:19. See also Mat_5:24, “First be reconciled to thy brother,” i.e. go and appease his anger, or remove the ground of his displeasure; compare Heb_2:17, “He is a priest to make reconciliation (εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι) for the sins of the people.” It is the appropriate business of a priest to propitiate God, and not to reform men. See also 1Sa_29:4 : “Wherewith should he reconcile himself (διαλλαγήσεται) to his master? should it not be with the heads of these men?” Eph_2:16, “That he might reconcile (ἀποκαταλλάξῃ) both unto God by the cross,” not remove their enmity to God, but secure for them his favor and access to the Father, Eph_2:18. The verbs καταλλάσσω, διαλλάσσω, and ἀποκαταλλάσσω, are used interchangeably. The main idea, of course, as expressed by ἀλλάσσω, to change, is slightly modified by the force of the several prepositions with which it is combined — to change κατά in relation to, διά between, ἀπό from. The three verbs, however, are all used to the idea of reconciliation, i.e. changing the relation of parties at enmity, so that they are at peace. Whether this reconciliation is effected by the propitiation of the justly offended party, or by a change of feeling in the offender, or both, depends on the connection.

4. The context obviously requires this sense here. “Being reconciled by the death of his Son,” evidently corresponds to the phrase, “Being justified by his blood.” The latter cannot mean that our feelings towards God are changed, but is admitted to express the idea that we are forgiven and restored to the divine favor. Such therefore must be the meaning of the former. Besides, it is the object of the apostle to illustrate the greatness and freeness of the love of God, from the unworthiness of its objects. While sinners, we are justified; while enemies, we are reconciled. To make the passage mean, that when enemies we laid aside our enmity, and became the friends of God, would be to make it contradict the very assertion and design of the apostle.

We shall be saved by his life. This rather unusual mode of expression was doubtless adopted for the sake of its correspondence to the words, by his death, in the preceding clause, and is a striking example of Paul’s fondness for such antithetical constructions; see Rom_4:25; Gal_3:3; 2Co_3:6. The meaning is obvious: ‘If while we were enemies, we were restored to the favor of God by the death of his Son, the fact that he lives will certainly secure our final salvation.’

1. His life is a pledge and security for the life of all his people; see Joh_14:19, “Because I live, ye shall live also;” Rom_8:11; 1Co_15:23.

2. He is able to save to the uttermost, “because he ever lives to make intercession or us,” Heb_7:25 etc.

3. At his resurrection, all power in heaven and earth was committed to his hands, Mat_28:18; and this power he exercises for the salvation of his people; Eph_1:22, ‘He is head over all things, for the benefit of his Church;’ Rev_1:18; Heb_2:10; 1Co_15:25, etc.; see also the passages cited on the last clause of Rom_5:9.

There is, therefore, most abundant ground for confidence for the final blessedness of believers, not only in the amazing love of God, by which, though sinners and enemies, they have been justified and reconciled by the death of his Son, but also in the consideration that this same Savior that died for them still lives, and ever lives to sanctify, protect, and save them.

Marvin Vincent
Romans 5:10
Enemies (ἐχθροὶ)
The word may be used either in an active sense, hating God, or passively, hated of God. The context favors the latter sense; not, however, with the conventional meaning of hated, denoting the revengeful, passionate feeling of human enmity, but simply the essential antagonism of the divine nature to sin. Neither the active nor the passive meaning needs to be pressed. The term represents the mutual estrangement and opposition which must accompany sin on man’s part, and which requires reconciliation.

We were reconciled to God (καταλλάγημεν τῷ Θεῷ)
The verb means primarily to exchange; and hence to change the relation of hostile parties into a relation of peace; to reconcile. It is used of both mutual and one-sided enmity. In the former case, the context must show on which side is the active enmity.

In the Christian sense, the change in the relation of God and man effected through Christ. This involves,

1. A movement of God toward man with a view to break down man’s hostility, to commend God’s love and holiness to him, and to convince him of the enormity and the consequence of sin. It is God who initiates this movement in the person and work of Jesus Christ. See Rom_5:6, Rom_5:8; 2Co_5:18, 2Co_5:19; Eph_1:6; 1Jo_4:19. Hence the passive form of the verb here: we were made subjects of God’s reconciling act.

2. A corresponding movement on man’s part toward God; yielding to the appeal of Christ’s self-sacrificing love, laying aside his enmity, renouncing his sin, and turning to God in faith and obedience.

3. A consequent change of character in man; the covering, forgiving, cleansing of his sin; a thorough revolution in all his dispositions and principles.

4. A corresponding change of relation on God’s part, that being removed which alone rendered Him hostile to man, so that God can now receive Him into fellowship and let loose upon him all His fatherly love and grace, 1Jo_1:3, 1Jo_1:7. Thus there is complete reconciliation. See, further, on Rom_3:25, Rom_3:26.

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:10
For if – The idea in this verse is simply a repetition and enlargement of that in Rom_5:9. The apostle dwells on the thought, and places it in a new light, furnishing thus a strong confirmation of his position.

When we were enemies – The work was undertaken while we were enemies. From being enemies we were changed to friends by that work. Thus, it was commenced by God; its foundation was laid while we were still hostile to it; it evinced, therefore, a determined purpose on the part of God to perform it; and he has thus given a pledge that it shall be perfected.

We were reconciled – Note, Mat_5:24. We are brought to an agreement; to a state of friendship and union. We became his friends, laid aside our opposition, and embraced him as our friend and portion. To effect this is the great design of the plan of salvation; 2Co. 5:1-20; Col_1:21; Eph_2:16. It means that there were obstacles existing on both sides to a reconciliation; and that these have been removed by the death of Christ; and that a union has thus been effected. This has been done in removing the obstacles on the part of God – by maintaining the honor of his Law; showing his hatred of sin; upholding his justice, and maintaining his truth, at the same time that he pardons; Note, Rom_3:26. And on the part of man, by removing his unwillingness to be reconciled; by subduing, changing, and sanctifying his heart; by overcoming his hatred of God, and of his Law; and bringing him into submission to the government of God. So that the Christian is in fact reconciled to God; he is his friend; he is pleased with his Law, his character, and his plan of salvation. And all this has been accomplished by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus as an offering in our place.

Much more – It is much more to be expected; there are still stronger and more striking considerations to show it.

By his life – We were reconciled by his death. Death may include possibly his low, humble, and suffering condition. Death has the appearance of great feebleness; the death of Christ had the appearance of the defeat of his plans. His enemies triumphed and rejoiced over him on the cross, and in the tomb. Yet the effect of this feeble, low, and humiliating state was to reconcile us to God. If in this state, when humble, despised, dying, dead, he had power to accomplish so great a work as to reconcile us to God, how much more may we expect that he will be able to keep us now that he is a living, exalted, and triumphant Redeemer. If his fainting powers in dying were such as to reconcile us, how much more shall his full, vigorous powers as an exalted Redeemer, be sufficient to keep and save us. This argument is but an expansion of what the Saviour himself said; Joh_14:19, “Because I live, ye shall live also.”

John Calvin
Romans 5:11
11.And not this only, etc. He now ascends into the highest strain of glorying; for when we glory that God is ours, whatever blessings can be imagined or wished, ensue and flow from this fountain; for God is not only the chief of all good things, but also possesses in himself the sum and substance of all blessings; and he becomes ours through Christ. We then attain this by faith, — that nothing is wanting to us as to happiness. Nor is it in vain that he so often mentions reconciliation: it is, first, that we may be taught to fix our eyes on the death of Christ, whenever we speak of our salvation; and, secondly, that we may know that our trust must be fixed on nothing else, but on the expiation made for our sins.

Adam Clarke
Romans 5:11
We also joy (καυχωμενοι, we exult, or glory) in God, etc. – We now feel that God is reconciled to us, and we are reconciled to him: the enmity is removed from our souls; and He, for Christ’s sake, through whom we have received the atonement, καταλλαγην, the reconciliation, has remitted the wrath, the punishment which we deserved: and now, through this reconciliation, we expect an eternal glory.

It was certainly improper to translate καταλλαγη here by atonement, instead of reconciliation; as καταλλασσω signifies to reconcile, and is so rendered by our translators in all the places where it occurs. It does not mean the atonement here, as we generally understand that word, viz. the sacrificial death of Christ; but rather the effect of that atonement, the removal of the enmity, and by this, the change of our condition and state; from κατα, intensive, and αλλασσω to change; the thorough change of our state from enmity to friendship. God is reconciled to us, and we are reconciled to him by the death of his Son; and thus there is a glorious change from enmity to friendship; and we can exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received this reconciliation. Though boasting is forbidden to a Jew, because his is a false confidence, yet boasting is enjoined to a Christian, to one reconciled to God; for, his boasting is only in that reconciliation, and the endless mercy by which it is procured. So he that glorieth (boasteth) must glory in the Lord.

Matthew Henry
Rom 5:11
3. All this produces, as a further privilege, our joy in God, Rom_5:11. God is now so far from being a terror to us that he is our joy, and our hope in the day of evil, Jer_17:17. We are reconciled and saved from wrath. Iniquity, blessed be God, shall not be our ruin. And not only so, there is more in it yet, a constant stream of favours; we not only go to heaven, but go to heaven triumphantly; not only get into the harbour, but come in with full sail: We joy in God, not only saved from his wrath, but solacing ourselves in his love, and this through Jesus Christ, who is the Alpha and the Omega, the foundation-stone and the top-stone of all our comforts and hopes – not only our salvation, but our strength and our song; and all this (which he repeats as a string he loved to be harping upon) by virtue of the atonement, for by him we Christians, we believers, have now, now in gospel times, or now in this life, received the atonement, which was typified by the sacrifices under thee law, and is an earnest of our happiness in heaven. True believers do by Jesus Christ receive the atonement. Receiving the atonement is our actual reconciliation to God in justification, grounded upon Christ’s satisfaction. To receive the atonement is,

(1.) To give our consent to the atonement, approving of, and agreeing to, those methods which Infinite Wisdom has taken of saving a guilty world by the blood of a crucified Jesus, being willing and glad to be saved in a gospel way and upon gospel terms.

(2.) To take the comfort of the atonement, which is the fountain and the foundation of our joy in God. Now we joy in God, now we do indeed receive the atonement, Kauchōmenoi – glorying in it. God hath received the atonement (Mat_3:17; Mat_17:5; Mat_28:2): if we but receive it, the work is done.

Charles Hodge
Romans 5:11
Not only so, but we rejoice in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ καυχώμενοι ἐν τῷ Θεῷ. There are three ways of explaining the participle καυχώμενοι; the one is to make it antithetical to καταλλαγέντες, ‘not only reconciled, but exulting in God, shall we be saved.’ But this is not only an unnatural form of expression, but in Rom_5:9, καταλλαγέντες is not a qualification of σωθησόμεθα. The meaning is not, ‘We shall be saved reconciled,’ but, ‘Since we are reconciled we shall be saved.’ Another interpretation supplies the verb from the preceding clause, ‘Not only shall we be saved, but saved rejoicing in God.’ The best sense is obtained by supplying ἐσμέν after the participle, as is assumed in the English version, and advocated by the majority of commentators: ‘We shall not only be ultimately saved, but we now glory the God.’

The benefits of redemption are not all future. It is not only deliverance from future wrath, but the joy and glory of the present favor and love of God, that we owe to Jesus Christ. Thus the Vulgate, which renders καυχώμενοι as a verb, (sed et gloriamur,) as does Luther, “wir rühmen uns auch Gottes.” We glory in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. That is, it is to him that we are indebted for this joy in God as our God and portion. Through whom we have now received atonement. This is the reason why we owe our present glorying in God to Christ; it is because he has secured our reconciliation.

The word rendered by our translators, atonement, is καταλλαγή, the derivative of καταλλάσσω, properly rendered in the context, as elsewhere, to reconcile. The proper rendering, therefore, of the noun would be reconciliation: ‘Through whom we have received reconciliation, that is, have been reconciled.’ This verse therefore brings us back to Rom_5:2. There it is said, ‘Having peace with God, we rejoice in hope of his glory;’ and here, ‘Being reconciled, we glory or rejoice in God.’ Salvation is begun on earth.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Romans 5:11
And not only so, but we also joy — rather, “glory.”

in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by — “through”

whom we have now received the atonement — rather, “the reconciliation” (Margin), as the same word is rendered in Rom_5:10 and in 2Co_5:18, 2Co_5:19. (In fact, the earlier meaning of the English word “atonement” was “the reconciliation of two estranged parties”) [Trench]. The foregoing effects of justification were all benefits to ourselves, calling for gratitude; this last may be termed a purely disinterested one. Our first feeling towards God, after we have found peace with Him, is that of clinging gratitude for so costly a salvation; but no sooner have we learned to cry, Abba, Father, under the sweet sense of reconciliation, than “gloriation” in Him takes the place of dread of Him, and now He appears to us “altogether lovely!”

On this section, Note,

(1) How gloriously does the Gospel evince its divine origin by basing all acceptable obedience on “peace with God,” laying the foundations of this peace in a righteous “justification” of the sinner “through our Lord Jesus Christ,” and making this the entrance to a permanent standing in the divine favor, and a triumphant expectation of future glory! (Rom_5:1, Rom_5:2). Other peace, worthy of the name, there is none; and as those who are strangers to it rise not to the enjoyment of such high fellowship with God, so they have neither any taste for it nor desire after it.

(2) As only believers possess the true secret of patience under trials, so, although “not joyous but grievous” in themselves (Heb_12:17), when trials divinely sent afford them the opportunity of evidencing their faith by the grace of patience under them, they should “count it all joy” (Rom_5:3, Rom_5:4; and see Jam_1:2, Jam_1:3).

(3) “Hope,” in the New Testament sense of the term, is not a lower degree of faith or assurance (as many now say, I hope for heaven, but am not sure of it); but invariably means “the confident expectation of future good.” It presupposes faith; and what faith assures us will be ours, hope accordingly expects. In the nourishment of this hope, the soul’s look outward to Christ for the ground of it, and inward upon ourselves for evidence of its reality, must act and react upon each other (Rom_5:2 and Rom_5:4 compared).

(4) It is the proper office of the Holy Ghost to beget in the soul the full conviction and joyful consciousness of the love of God in Christ Jesus to sinners of mankind, and to ourselves in particular; and where this exists, it carries with it such an assurance of final salvation as cannot deceive (Rom_5:5).

(5) The justification of sinful men is not in virtue of their amendment, but of “the blood of God’s Son”; and while this is expressly affirmed in Rom_5:9, our reconciliation to God by the “death of His Son,” affirmed in Rom_5:10, is but a variety of the same statement. In both, the blessing meant is the restoration of the sinner to a righteous standing in the sight of God; and in both, the meritorious ground of this, which is intended to be conveyed, is the expiatory sacrifice of God’s Son.

(6) Gratitude to God for redeeming love, if it could exist without delight in God Himself, would be a selfish and worthless feeling; but when the one rises into the other – the transporting sense of eternal “reconciliation” passing into “gloriation in God” Himself – then the lower is sanctified and sustained by the higher, and each feeling is perfective of the other (Rom_5:11).

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:11
And not only so – The apostle states another effect of justification.

We also joy in God – In Rom_5:2, he had said that we rejoice in tribulations, and in hope of the glory of God. But he here adds that we rejoice in God himself; in his existence; his attributes; his justice, holiness, mercy, truth, love. The Christian rejoices that God is such a being as he is; and glories that the universe is under his administration. The sinner is opposed to him; he finds no pleasure in him; he fears or hates him; and deems him unqualified for universal empire. But it is one characteristic of true piety, one evidence that we are truly reconciled to God, that we rejoice in him as he is; and find pleasure in the contemplation of his perfections as they are revealed in the Scriptures.

Through our Lord … – By the mediation of our Lord Jesus, who has revealed the true character of God, and by whom we have been reconciled to him.

The atonement – Margin, or reconciliation. This is the only instance in which our translators have used the word “atonement” in the New Testament. The word frequently occurs in the Old, Exo_29:33, Exo_29:36-37; Exo_30:10, Exo_30:15-16, etc. As it is now used by us, it commonly means the ransom, or the sacrifice by means of which reconciliation is effected between God and man. But in this place it has a different sense. It means the reconciliation itself between God and man; not the means by which reconciliation is effected. It denotes not that. we have received a ransom, or an offering by which reconciliation might be effected; but that in fact we have become reconciled through him. This was the ancient meaning of the English word atonement – at one ment – being at one, or reconciled.

– He seeks to make atonement.
Between the duke of Glo’ster and your brothers.
– Shakespeare.

The Greek word which denotes the expiatory offering by which a reconciliation is effected, is different from the one here; see the note at Rom_3:25. The word used here καταλλαγὴ katallagē is never used to denote such an offering, but denotes the reconciliation itself.

John Calvin
Romans 5:15
15.But not as the offense, etc. Now follows the rectifying or the completion of the comparison already introduced. The Apostle does not, however, very minutely state the points of difference between Christ and Adam, but he obviates errors into which we might otherwise easily fall, and what is needful for an explanation we shall add. Though he mentions oftentimes a difference, yet there are none of these repetitions in which there is not a want of a corresponding clause, or in which there is not at least an ellipsis. Such instances are indeed defects in a discourse; but they are not prejudicial to the majesty of that celestial wisdom which is taught us by the Apostle; it has, on the contrary, so happened through the providence of God, that the highest mysteries have been delivered to us in the garb of an humble style, in order that our faith may not depend on the potency of human eloquence, but on the efficacious working of the Spirit alone.

He does not indeed even now expressly supply the deficiency of the former sentence, but simply teaches us, that there is a greater measure of grace procured by Christ, than of condemnation introduced by the first man. What some think, that the Apostle carries on here a chain of reasoning, I know not whether it will be deemed by all sufficiently evident. It may indeed be justly inferred, that since the fall of Adam had such an effect as to produce the ruin of many, much more efficacious is the grace of God to the benefit of many; inasmuch as it is admitted, that Christ is much more powerful to save, than Adam was to destroy. But as they cannot be disproved, who wish to take the passage without this inference, I am willing that they should choose either of these views; though what next follows cannot be deemed an inference, yet it is of the same meaning. It is hence probable, that Paul rectifies, or by way of exception modifies, what he had said of the likeness between Christ and Adam.

But observe, that a larger number (plures ) are not here contrasted with many (multis ,) for he speaks not of the number of men: but as the sin of Adam has destroyed many, he draws this conclusion, — that the righteousness of Christ will be no less efficacious to save many.
When he says, by the offense of one, etc., understand him as meaning this, — that corruption has from him descended to us: for we perish not through his fault, as though we were blameless; but as his sin is the cause of our sin, Paul ascribes to him our ruin: our sin I call that which is implanted in us, and with which we are born.

The grace of God and the gift of God through grace, etc. Grace is properly set in opposition to offense; the gift which proceeds from grace, to death. Hence grace means the free goodness of God or gratuitous love, of which he has given us a proof in Christ, that he might relieve our misery: and gift is the fruit of this mercy, and hath come to us, even the reconciliation by which we have obtained life and salvation, righteousness, newness of life, and every other blessing. We hence see how absurdly the schoolmen have defined grace, who have taught that it is nothing else but a quality infused into the hearts of men: for grace, properly speaking, is in God; and what is in us is the effect of grace. And he says, that it is by one man; for the Father has made him the fountain out of whose fullness all must draw. And thus he teaches us, that not even the least drop of life can be found out of Christ, — that there is no other remedy for our poverty and want, than what he conveys to us from his own abundance.

Adam Clarke
Romans 5:15
But not as the offense, so also is the free gift – The same learned writer, quoted above, continues to observe: –

“It is evident that the apostle, in this and the two following verses, is running a parallel, or making a comparison between the offense of Adam and its consequence; and the opposite gift of God and its consequences. And, in these three verses, he shows that the comparison will not hold good in all respects, because the free gift, χαρισμα, bestows blessings far beyond the consequences of the offense, and which, therefore, have no relation to it. And this was necessary, not only to prevent mistakes concerning the consequence of Adam’s offense, and the extent of Gospel grace; but it was also necessary to the apostle’s main design, which was not only to prove that the grace of the Gospel extends to all men, so far as it takes off the consequence of Adam’s offense, (i.e. death, without the promise or probability of a resurrection), but that it likewise extends to all men, with respect to the surplusage of blessings, in which it stretches far beyond the consequence of Adam’s offense. For, the grace that takes off the consequence of Adam’s offense, and the grace which abounds beyond it, are both included in the same χαρισμα, or free gift, which should be well observed; for in this, I conceive, lie the connection and sinews of the argument: the free gift, which stands opposed to Adam’s offense, and which, I think, was bestowed immediately after the offense; Gen_3:15 : The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. This gift, I say, includes both the grace which exactly answers to the offense, and is that part of the grace which stretches far beyond it. And, if the one part of the gift be freely bestowed on all mankind, as the Jews allow, why not the other? especially, considering that the whole gift stands upon a reason and foundation in excellence and worth, vastly surpassing the malignity and demerit of the offense; and, consequently, capable of producing benefits vastly beyond the sufferings occasioned by the offense. This is the force of the apostle’s argument; and therefore, supposing that in the 18th and l9th verses, literally understood, he compares the consequence of Adam’s offense and Christ’s obedience, only so far as the one is commensurate to the other, yet his reasoning, Rom_5:15-17, plainly shows that it is his meaning and intention that we should take into his conclusion the whole of the gift, so far as it can reach, to all mankind.”

For if, through the offense of one, many be dead – That the οἱ πολλοι, the many of the apostle here means all mankind needs no proof to any but that person who finds himself qualified to deny that all men are mortal. And if the many, that is, all mankind, have died through the offense of one; certainly, the gift by grace, which abounds unto τους πολλους, the many, by Christ Jesus, must have reference to every human being. If the consequences of Christ’s incarnation and death extend only to a few, or a select number of mankind – which, though they may be considered many in themselves, are few in comparison of the whole human race – then the consequences of Adam’s sin have extended only to a few, or to the same select number: and if only many, and not all have fallen, only that many had need of a Redeemer. For it is most evident that the same persons are referred to in both clauses of the verse. If the apostle had believed that the benefits of the death of Christ had extended only to a select number of mankind, he never could have used the language he has done here: though, in the first clause, he might have said, without any qualification of the term, Through the offense of one, Many are dead; in the 2nd clause, to be consistent with the doctrine of particular redemption, he must have said, The grace of God, and the gift by grace, hath abounded unto Some. As by the offense of one judgment came upon All men to condemnation; so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon Some to justification, Rom_5:18. As, by one man’s disobedience, Many were made sinners; so, by the obedience of one, shall Some be made righteous, Rom_5:19. As in Adam All die; so, in Christ, shall Some be made alive, 1Co_15:22. But neither the doctrine nor the thing ever entered the soul of this divinely inspired man.

Hath abounded unto many – That is, Christ Jesus died for every man; salvation is free for all; saving grace is tendered to every soul; and a measure of the Divine light is actually communicated to every heart, Joh_1:9. And, as the grace is offered, so it may be received; and hence the apostle says, Rom_5:17 : They which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by Christ Jesus: and by receiving is undoubtedly meant not only the act of receiving, but retaining and improving the grace which they receive; and, as all may receive, so All may improve and retain the grace they do receive; and, consequently, All may be eternally saved. But of multitudes Christ still may say, They Will not come unto me, that they might have life.

Charles Hodge
Romans 5:15
But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. The cases, although parallel, are not precisely alike. In the first place, it is far more consistent with our views of the character of God, that many should be benefited by the merit of one man, than that they should suffer for the sin of one. If the latter has happened, much more may we expect the former to occur. The attentive reader of this passage will perceive constantly increasing evidence that the design of the apostle is not to show that the blessings procured by Christ are greater than the evils caused by Adam; but to illustrate and confirm the prominent doctrine of the epistle, that we are justified on the ground of the righteousness of Christ. This is obvious from the sentiment of this verse, ‘If we die for the sin of Adam, much more may we live through the righteousness of Christ.’ But not as the offense, etc. Ἀλλ ̓ οὐχ ὡς τὸ παράπτωμα, οὕτω κὰι τὸ χάρισμα, a singularly concise expression, which however the context renders sufficiently plain. Παράπτωμα from παραπίπτω (to fall,) means fall, and χάρισμα, an act of grace or gracious gift, which is explained by ἡ δωρεά in this verse, τὸ δώρημα in Rom_5:16, and ἡ δωρεὰ τῆς δικαιοσύνη) (the gift of righteousness,) in Rom_5:17. The meaning therefore is, that the ‘fall is not like the gracious restoration.’ The reason why the one is not like the other, is stated in what follows, so that γάρ has its appropriate force: ‘They are not alike, for if by the offense of one many be dead.’ The dative παραπτώματι expresses the ground or reason. The offense of one was the ground or reason of the many dying; and as death is a penalty, it must be the judicial ground of their death, which is the very thing asserted in Rom_5:12, and proved in Rom_5:13, Rom_5:14. Many be dead; the words are οἱ πολλοὶ ἀπέθανον, the many died, the aorist ἀπέθανον cannot mean be dead. By the many are intended all mankind, οἱ πολλοὶ and πάντες being interchanged throughout the context. They are called the many because they are many, and for the sake of the antithesis to the one. The many died for the offense of one; the sentence of death passed on all for his offense. The same idea is presented in 1Co_15:22.

It is here, therefore, expressly asserted that the sin of Adam was the cause of all his posterity being subjected to death, that is, to penal evil. But it may still be asked whether it was the occasional or the immediate cause. That is, whether the apostle means to say that the sin of Adam was the occasion of all men being placed in such circumstances that they all sin, and thus incur death; or that by being the cause of the corruption of their nature, it is thus indirectly the cause of their condemnation; or whether he is to be understood as saying that his sin is the direct judicial ground or reason for the infliction of penal evil. It has been frequently said that this is all theory, philosophy, system. etc. But any one may see that it is a mere exegetical question — what is the meaning of a given phrase? Does the dative here express the occasional cause, or the ground or reason of the result attributed to the offense of one man? It is a mere question of fact; the fact is all, and there is neither theory nor philosophy involved in the matter. If Paul says that the offense of one is the ground and reason of the many being subject to death, he says all that the advocates of the doctrine of imputation say. That this is the strict exegetical meaning of the passage appears from the following reasons:

1. That such may be the force and meaning of the words as they here stand, no one can pretend to doubt. That is, no one can deny that the dative case can express the ground or reason as well as the occasion of a thing.

2. This interpretation is not only possible, and in strict accordance with the meaning of the words, but it is demanded, in this connection, by the plainest rules of exposition; because the sentiment expressed by these words is confessedly the same as that taught in those which follow; and they, as will appear in the sequel, will not bear the opposite interpretation.

3. It is demanded by the whole design and drift of the passage. The very point of the comparison is, that as the righteousness of Christ, and not our own works, is the ground of our justification, so the sin of Adam, antecedently to any sins of our own, is the ground of the infliction of certain penal evils. If the latter be denied, the very point of the analogy between Christ and Adam is destroyed.

4. This interpretation is so plainly the correct and natural one, that it is, as shown above, freely admitted by the most strenuous opponents of the doctrine which it teaches.

Much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, faith abounded unto many. Had Paul been studious of uniformity in the structure of his sentences, this clause would have been differently worded: ‘If by the offense of one many die, much more by the free gift of one shall many live.’ The meaning is the same. The force of the passage lies in the words much more. The idea is not that the grace is more abundant and efficacious than the offense and its consequences: this idea is expressed in Rom_5:20; but, ‘if the one dispensation has occurred, much more may the other; if we die for one, much more may we live by another.’ The πολλῷ μᾶλλον does not express a higher degree of efficacy, but of evidence or certainty: ‘If the one thing has happened, much more certainly may the other be relied upon.’ The first clause of the verse may be thus interpreted, ‘the grace of God, even the gift by grace;’ so that the latter phrase is explanatory of the former. If they are to be distinguished, the first refers to the cause, viz. the grace of God; and the second to the result, viz. the gift by grace, i.e. the gracious or free gift, viz. the gift of righteousness, as explained in Rom_5:17. Which is by one man, Jesus Christ; that is, which comes to us through Christ. This free gift is of course the opposite of what comes upon us for the sake of Adam. Guilt and condemnation come from him; righteousness and consequent acceptance from Jesus Christ. What is here called the free gift is, in Rom_5:17, called the gift of righteousness. Hath abounded unto many, εἰς τοὺς πολλούς, unto the many; that is, has been freely and abundantly bestowed on the many. Whether the many, in this clause, is coextensive numerically with the many in the other, will be considered under Rom_5:18.

Jamieson, Fauset, and Brown
Romans 5:15
But — “Yet,” “Howbeit.”

not as the offence — “trespass.”

so also is the free gift — or “the gracious gift,” “the gift of grace.” The two cases present points of contrast as well as resemblance.

For if, etc. — rather, “For if through the offense of the one the many died (that is, in that one man’s first sin), much more did the grace of God, and the free gift by grace, even that of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many.” By “the many” is meant the mass of mankind represented respectively by Adam and Christ, as opposed, not to few, but to “the one” who represented them. By “the free gift” is meant (as in Rom_5:17) the glorious gift of justifying righteousness; this is expressly distinguished from “the grace of God,” as the effect from the cause; and both are said to “abound” towards us in Christ – in what sense will appear in Rom_5:16, Rom_5:17. And the “much more,” of the one case than the other, does not mean that we get much more of good by Christ than of evil by Adam (for it is not a case of quantity at all); but that we have much more reason to expect, or it is much more agreeable to our ideas of God, that the many should be benefited by the merit of one, than that they should suffer for the sin of one; and if the latter has happened, much more may we assure ourselves of the former [Philippi, Hodge].

Marvin Vincent
Romans 5:15
Of one (τοῦ ἑνὸς)
Rev., correctly, the one – Adam. So the many.

Much more
Some explain of the quality of the cause and effect: that as the fall of Adam caused vast evil, the work of the far greater Christ shall much more cause great results of good. This is true; but the argument seems to turn rather on the question of certainty. “The character of God is such, from a christian point of view, that the comparison gives a much more certain basis for belief, in what is gained through the second Adam, than in the certainties of sin and death through the first Adam” (Schaff and Riddle).

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:15
But not as the offence – This is the first point of contrast between the effect of the sin of Adam and of the work of Christ. The word “offence” means properly a fall, where we stumble over anything lying in our way It then means sin in general, or crime Mat_6:14-15; Mat_18:35. Here it means the fall, or first sin of Adam. We use the word “fall” as applied to Adam, to denote his first offence, as being that act by which he fell from an elevated state of obedience and happiness into one of sin and condemnation.

So also – The gift is not in its nature and effects like the offence.

The free gift – The favor, benefit, or good bestowed gratuitously on us. It refers to the favors bestowed in the gospel by Christ. These are free, that is, without merit on our part, and bestowed on the undeserving.

For if … – The apostle does not labor to prove that this is so. This is not the point of his argument, He assumes that as what was seen and known everywhere. His main point is to show that greater benefits have resulted from the work of the Messiah than evils from the fall of Adam.

Through the offence of one – By the fall of one. This simply concedes the fact that it is so. The apostle does not attempt an explanation of the mode or manner in which it happened. He neither says that it is by imputation, nor by inherent depravity, nor by imitation.

Whichever of these modes may be the proper one of accounting for the fact, it is certain that the apostle states neither. His object was, not to explain the manner in which it was done, but to argue from the acknowledged existence of the fact. All that is certainly established from this passage is, that as a certain fact resulting from the transgression of Adam, “many” were “dead.” This simple fact is all that can be proved from this passage. Whether it is to be explained by the doctrine of imputation, is to be a subject of inquiry independent of this passage. Nor have we a right to assume that this teaches the doctrine of the imputation of the sin of Adam to his posterity. For,

(1) The apostle says nothing of it.

(2) that doctrine is nothing but an effort to explain the manner of an event which the apostle Paul did not think it proper to attempt to explain.

(3) that doctrine is in fact no explanation.

It is introducing all additional difficulty. For to say that I am blameworthy, or ill-deserving for a sin in which I had no agency, is no explanation, but is involving me in an additional difficulty still more perplexing, to ascertain how such a doctrine can possibly be just. The way of wisdom would be, doubtless, to rest satisfied with the simple statement of a fact which the apostle has assumed, without attempting to explain it by a philosophical theory. Calvin accords with the above interpretation. “For we do not so perish by his (Adam’s) crime, as if we were ourselves innocent; but Paul ascribes our ruin to him because his sin is the cause of our sin.”

(This is not a fair quotation from Calvin. It leaves us to infer, that the Reformer affirmed, that Adam’s sin is the cause of actual sin in us, on account of which last only we are condemned. Now under the twelfth verse Calvin says, “The inference is plain, that the apostle does not treat of actual sin, for if every person was the cause of his own guilt, why should Paul compare Adam with Christ?” If our author had not stopt short in his quotation, he would have found immediately subjoined, as an explanation: “I call that our sin, which is inbred, and with which we are born.” Our being born with this sin is a proof of our guilt in Adam. But whatever opinion may he formed of Calvin’s general views on this subject, nothing is more certain, than that he did not suppose the apostle treated of actual sin in these passages.
Notwithstanding of the efforts that are made to exclude the doctrine of imputation from this chapter, the full and varied manner in which the apostle expresses it, cannot be evaded. “Through the offence of one many be dead” – “the judgment was by one to condemnation” – “By one man’s offence death reigned by one” – “By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation” – “By one man’s disobedience, many were made sinners,” etc.

It is vain to tell us, as our author does” under each of these clauses respectively, that the apostle simply states the fact, that the sin of Adam has involved the race in condemnation, without adverting to the manner; for Paul does more than state the fact. He intimates that we are involved in condemnation in a way that bears a certain analogy to the manner in which we become righteous. And on this last, he is, without doubt, sufficiently explicited See a former supplementary note.

In Rom_5:18-19 the apostle seems plainly to affirm the manner of the fact “as by the offence of one,” etc., “Even so,” etc. “As by one man’s disobedience,” etc., “so,” etc. There is a resemblance in the manner of the two things compared. It we wish to know how guilt and condemnation come by Adam, we have only to inquire, how righteousness and justification come by Christ. “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. – Haldane.
It is somewhat remarkable, that while our author so frequently affirms, that the apostle states the fact only, he himself should throughout assume the manner. He will not allow the apostle to explain the manner, nor any one who has a different view of it from himself. Yet he tells us, it is not by imputation that we become involved in Adam’s guilt; that people “sin in their own persons, and that therefore they die.” This he affirms to be the apostle’s meaning. And is this not an explanation of the manner. Are we not left to conclude, that from Adam we simply derive a corrupt nature, in consequence of which we sin personally, and therefore die?)

Many – Greek, “The many.” Evidently meaning all; the whole race; Jews and Gentiles. That it means all here is proved in Rom_5:18. If the inquiry be, why the apostle used the word “many” rather than all, we may reply, that the design was to express an antithesis, or contrast to the cause – one offence. One stands opposed to many, rather than to all.

Be dead – See the note on the word “death,” Rom_5:12. The race is under the dark and gloomy reign of death. This is a simple fact which the apostle assumes, and which no man can deny.

Much more – The reason of this “much more” is to be found in the abounding mercy and goodness of God. If a wise, merciful, and good Being has suffered such a train of woes to be introduced by the offence of one, have we not much more reason to expect that his grace will superabound?

The grace of God – The favor or kindness of God We have reason to expect under the administration of God more extensive benefits, than we have ills, flowing from a constitution of things which is the result of his appointment.

And the gift by grace – The gracious gift; the benefits flowing from that grace. This refers to the blessings of salvation.

Which is by one man – Standing in contrast with Adam. His appointment was the result of grace; and as he was constituted to bestow favors, we have reason to expect that they will superabound.

Hath abounded – Has been abundant, or ample; will be more than a counterbalance for the ills which have been introduced by the sin of Adam.

Unto many – Greek, Unto the many. The obvious interpretation of this is, that it is as unlimited as “the many” who are dead. Some have supposed that Adam represented the whole of the human race, and Christ a part, and that “the many” in the two members of the verse refer to the whole of those who were thus represented. But this is to do violence to the passage; and to introduce a theological doctrine to meet a supposed difficulty in the text. The obvious meaning is – one from which we cannot depart without doing violence to the proper laws of interpretation – that “the many” in the two cases are co-extensive; and that as the sin of Adam has involved the race – the many – in death; so the grace of Christ has abounded in reference to the many, to the race. If asked how this can be possible, since all have not been, and will not be savingly benefitted by the work of Christ, we may reply,

(1) That it cannot mean That the benefits of the work of Christ should be literally co-extensive with the results of Adam’s sin, since it is a fact that people have suffered, and do suffer, from the effects of that fall. In order that the Universalist may draw an argument from this, he must show that it was the design of Christ to destroy all the effects of the sin of Adam. But this has not been in fact. Though the favors of that work have abounded, yet people have suffered and died. And though it may still abound to the many, yet some may suffer here, and suffer on the same principle forever.

(2) though people are indubitably affected by the sin of Adam, as e. g., by being born with a corrupt disposition; with loss of righteousness, with subjection to pain and woe; and with exposure to eternal death; yet there is reason to believe that all those who die in infancy are, through the merits of the Lord Jesus, and by an influence which we cannot explain, changed and prepared for heaven. As nearly half the race die in infancy, therefore there is reason to think that, in regard to this large portion of the human family, the work of Christ has more than repaired the evils of the fall, and introduced them into heaven, and that his grace has thus abounded unto many. In regard to those who live to the period of moral agency, a scheme has been introduced by which the offers of salvation may be made to them, and by which they may be renewed, and pardoned, and saved. The work of Christ, therefore, may have introduced advantages adapted to meet the evils of the fall as man comes into the world; and the original applicability of the one be as extensive as the other. In this way the work of Christ was in its nature suited to abound unto the many.

(3) the intervention of the plan of atonement by the Messiah, prevented the immediate execution of the penalty of the Law, and produced all the benefits to all the race, resulting from the sparing mercy of God. In this respect it was co-extensive with the fall.

(4) he died for all the race, Heb_2:9; 2Co_5:14-15; 1Jo_2:2. Thus, his death, in its adaptation to a great and glorious result, was as extensive as the ruins of the fall.

(5) the offer of salvation is made to all, Rev_22:17; Joh_7:37; Mat_11:28-29; Mar_16:15. Thus, his grace has extended unto the many – to all the race. Provision has been made to meet the evils of the fall; a provision as extensive in its applicability as was the ruin.

(6) more will probably be actually saved by the work of Christ, than will be finally ruined by the fall of Adam. The number of those who shall be saved from all the human race, it is to be believed, will yet be many more than those who shall be lost. The gospel is to spread throughout the world. It is to be evangelized. The millennial glory is to rise upon the earth; and the Saviour is to reign with undivided empire. Taking the race as a whole, there is no reason to think that the number of those who shall be lost, compared with the immense multitudes that shall be saved by the work of Christ, will be more than are the prisoners in a community now, compared with the number of peaceful and virtuous citizens. A medicine may be discovered that shall be said to triumph over disease, though it may have been the fact that thousands have died since its discovery, and thousands yet will not avail themselves of it; yet the medicine shall have the properties of universal triumph; it is adapted to the many; it might be applied by the many; where it is applied, it completely answers the end. Vaccination is adapted to meet the evils of the small-pox everywhere; and when applied, saves people from the ravages of this terrible disease, though thousands may die to whom it is not applied. It is a triumphant remedy. So of the plan of salvation. Thus, though all shall not be saved, yet the sin of Adam shall be counteracted; and grace abounds unto the many. All this fulness of grace the apostle says we have reason to expect from the abounding mercy of God.

(The “many” in the latter clause of this verse, cannot be regarded as co-extensive with the “many” that are said to be dead through the offence of Adam. Very much is affirmed of the “many to whom grace abounds,” that cannot, “without doing violence to the whole passage,” be applied to all mankind. They are said to “receive the gift of righteousness,” and to “reign in life.” They are actually “constituted righteous,” Rom_5:19 and these things cannot be said of all people in any sense whatever. The only way of explaining the passage, therefore, is to adopt that view which our author has introduced only to condemn, namely, “that Adam represented the whole of the human race, and Christ a part, and that ‘the many in the two members of the verse, refers to the whole of those who were thus represented.”

The same principle of interpretation must be adopted in the parallel passage, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” It would be preposterous to affirm, that “the all” in the latter clause is co-extensive with “the all” in the former. The sense plainly is, that all whom Christ represented should be made alive in him. even as all mankind, or all represented by Adam, had died in him.

It is true indeed that all mankind are in some sense benefitted on account of the atonement of Christ: and our author has enlarged on several things of this nature, which yet fall short of “saving benefit.” But will it be maintained, that the apostle in reality affirms no more than that the many to, whom grace abounds, participate in certain benefits, short of salvation? If so, what becomes of the comparison between Adam and Christ? If “the many” in the one branch of the comparison are only benefitted by Christ in a way that falls short of saving benefit, then “the many” in the other branch must be affected by the fall of Adam only in the same limited way, whereas the apostle affirms that in consequence of it they are really “dead.”

“The principal thing,” says Mr. Scott, “which renders the expositions generally given of these verses perplexed and unsatisfactory, arises from an evident misconception of the apostle’s reasoning, in supposing that Adam and Christ represented exactly the same company; whereas Adam was the surety of the whole human species, as his posterity; Christ, only of that chosen remnant, which has been, or shall be one with him by faith, who alone ‘are counted to him for a generation.’ If we exclusively consider the benefits which believers derive from Christ as compared with the loss sustained in Adam by the human race, we shall then see the passage open most perspicuously and gloriously to our view.” – Commentary, Rom_5:15, Rom_5:19.

But our author does not interpret this passage upon any consistent principle. For “the many” in Rom_5:15, to whom “grace abounded” are obviously the same with those in Rom_5:17, who are said to receive abundance of grace, etc., and yet he interprets the one of all mankind, and the other of believers only. What is asserted in Rom_5:17, he says, “is particularly true of the redeemed, of whom the apostle in this verse is speaking.”)

John Calvin
Romans 5:20
20.But the law intervened, etc. This subject depends on what he had said before — that there was sin before the law was published. This being the case, then follows immediately this question — For what purpose was the law given? It was therefore necessary to solve this difficulty; but as a longer digression was not suitable, he deferred the subject and handled it in another place: and now by the way he only says, that the law entered, that sin might abound; for he describes not here the whole office and use of the law, but only touches on one part, which served his present purpose. He indeed teaches us, that it was needful that men’s ruin should be more fully discovered to them, in order that a passage might be opened for the favor of God. They were indeed shipwrecked before the law was given; as however they seemed to themselves to swim, while in their destruction, they were thrust down into the deep, that their deliverance might appear more evident, when they thence emerge beyond all human expectation. Nor was it unreasonable, that the law should be partly introduced for this end — that it might again condemn men already condemned; for nothing is more reasonable than that men should, through all means be brought, nay, forced, by being proved guilty, to know their own evils.

That offense might abound, etc. It is well known how some, following [Augustine ], usually explain this passage, — that lust is irritated the more, while it is checked by the restraints of the law; for it is man’s nature to strive for what is forbidden. But I understand no other increase to be intended here than that of knowledge and of obstinacy; for sin is set by the law before the eyes of man, that he may be continually forced to see that condemnation is prepared for him. Thus sin disturbs the conscience, which, when cast behind them, men forget. And farther, he who before only passed over the bounds of justice, becomes now, when the law is introduced, a despiser of God’s authority, since the will of God is made known to him, which he now wantonly tramples under feet. It hence follows, that sin is increased by the law, since now the authority of the lawgiver is despised and his majesty degraded.

Grace has superabounded. After sin has held men sunk in ruin, grace then comes to their help: for he teaches us, that the abundance of grace becomes for this reason more illustrious. — that while sin is overflowing, it pours itself forth so exuberantly, that it not only overcomes the flood of sin, but wholly absorbs it. And we may hence learn, that our condemnation is not set before us in the law, that we may abide in it; but that having fully known our misery, we may be led to Christ, who is sent to be a physician to the sick, a deliverer to the captives, a comforter to the afflicted, a defender to the oppressed. (Isa_61:1.)

Adam Clarke
Romans 5:20
The law entered that (ἱνα) the offense might abound – After considering various opinions concerning the true meaning of this verse, (see under Rom_5:12 (note)), I am induced to prefer my own, as being the most simple. By law I understand the Mosaic law. By entering in, παρεισηλθεν, or, rather, coming in privily, see Gal_2:4, (the only place where it occurs besides), I understand the temporary or limited use of that law, which was, as far as its rites and ceremonies are considered, confined to the Jewish people, and to them only till the Messiah should come; but considered as the moral law, or rule of conscience and life, it has in its spirit and power been slipped in – introduced into every conscience, that sin might abound – that the true nature, deformity, and extent of sin might appear; for by the law is the knowledge of sin: for how can the finer deviations from a straight line be ascertained, without the application of a known straight edge? Without this rule of right, sin can only be known in a sort of general way; the innumerable deviations from positive rectitude can only be known by the application of the righteous statutes of which the law is composed. And it was necessary that this law should be given, that the true nature of sin might be seen, and that men might be the better prepared to receive the Gospel; finding that this law worketh only wrath, i.e. denounces punishment, forasmuch as all have sinned. Now, it is wisely ordered of God, that wherever the Gospel goes there the law goes also; entering every where, that sin may be seen to abound, and that men may be led to despair of salvation in any other way or on any terms but those proposed in the Gospel of Christ. Thus the sinner becomes a true penitent, and is glad, seeing the curse of the law hanging over his soul, to flee for refuge to the hope set before him in the Gospel. On the meaning of ἱνα, in various places, see Chrysost. vol. iii. p. 241. See also Hammond on the word in his notes on the New Testament.

But where sin abounded – Whether in the world, or in the heart of the individual, being discovered by this most pure and righteous law, grace did much more abound: not only pardon for all that is past is offered by the Gospel, so that all the transgressions for which the soul is condemned to death by the law, are freely and fully forgiven; but also the Holy Spirit, in the abundance of his gifts and graces, is communicated, so as to prepare the receiver for an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Thus the grace of the Gospel not only redeems from death, and restores to life, but brings the soul into such a relationship with God, and into such a participation of eternal glory, as we have no authority to believe ever would have been the portion even of Adam himself, had he even eternally retained his innocence. Thus, where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound.

Charles Hodge
Romans 5:20
Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound, etc. Paul having shown that our justification was effected without the intervention of either the moral or Mosaic law, was naturally led to state the design and effect of the renewed revelation of the one, and the super induction of the other. The law stands here for the whole of the Old Testament economy, including the clear revelation of the moral law, and all the institutions connected with the former dispensation. The main design and result of this dispensation, considered as law, that is, apart from the evangelical import of many of its parts, was ἵνα τὸ παράπτωμα πλεονάσῄ, that the offense might abound. The offense το παράπτωμὰ is in the context used of the specific offense of Adam. But it is hard to see how the entrance of the law made the offense of Adam to abound, unless the idea is, that its dire effects were rendered more abundant. It is more probable that the apostle uses the word in a collective sense; compare Gal_3:19. Agreeably to this view, the meaning of the clause is, that the great design of the law (in reference to justification) is to produce the knowledge and conviction of sin. Taking the word in its usual sense, the meaning is, that the result of the introduction of the law was the increase of sin. This result is to be attributed partly to the fact, that by enlarging the knowledge of the rule of duty, responsibility was proportionably increased, according to Rom_4:15, and partly to the consideration that the enmity of the heart is awakened by its operation, and transgressions actually multiplied, agreeably to Rom_7:8.

Both views of the passage express an important truth, as the conviction of sin and its incidental increase are alike the result of the operation of the law. It seems, however, more in accordance with the apostle’s object, and with the general, although not uniform force of the particle (ἵνα) rendered that, to consider the clause as expressing the design, rather than the result simply of the giving of the law. The word παρεισῆλθεν does not mean simply entered, nor entered between, that is, came between Adam and Christ. This is indeed historically true, but it is not the meaning of the word, and therefore not the idea which the apostle intended to express. Nor does the word mean here, as in Gal_2:4, entered surreptitiously, “crept in unawares,” for this is not true. It rather means entered thereto, i.e., as the same idea is expressed in Gal_3:19, “it was added.” It was superinduced on a plan already laid, and for a subordinate, although necessary purpose. It was not intended to give life, but to prepare men to receive Christ as the only source of righteousness and salvation.
But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. That is, great as is the prevalence of sin, as seen and felt in the light of God’s holy law, yet over all this evil the grace of the gospel has abounded. The gospel or the grace of God has proved itself much more efficacious in the production of good, than sin in the production of evil. This idea is illustrated in the following verse.

The words ou[ and e)kei~ have a local force. Where, i.e., in the sphere in which sin abounded, there, in the same sphere, grace superabounded; ὑπερεπερισσεύειν is superlative, and not comparative, and περισσεύειν is stronger than πλεονάζειν, as περισσόν is more than πλέον. The fact, therefore, of the triumph of grace over sin, is expressed in the clearest manner.

Marvin Vincent
Romans 5:20
The law entered (παρεισῆλθεν)
Rev., literally, came in beside, giving the force of παρά beside. Very significant. Now that the parallel between Adam and Christ is closed, the question arises as to the position and office of the law. How did it stand related to Adam and Christ? Paul replies that it came in alongside of the sin. “It was taken up into the divine plan or arrangement, and made an occasion for the abounding of grace in the opening of the new way to justification and life” (Dwight).

Might abound (πλεονάσῃ)
Not primarily of the greater consciousness and acknowledgment of sin, but of the increase of actual transgression. The other thought, however, may be included. See Rom_7:7, Rom_7:8, Rom_7:9, Rom_7:11.

Did much more abound (ὑπερεπερίσσευσεν)
Lit., abounded over and above. Only here and 2Co_7:4. Compare ὑπερεπλεόνασε abounded exceedingly, 1Ti_1:14; ὑπερπερισσῶς beyond measure, Mar_7:37; ὑπεραυξάνει; groweth exceedingly, 2Th_1:3.

Albert Barnes
Romans 5:20
Moreover – But. What is said in this verse and the following, seems designed to meet the Jew, who might pretend that the Law of Moses was intended to meet the evils of sin introduced by Adam, and therefore that the scheme defended by the apostle was unnecessary. He therefore shows them that the effect of the Law of Moses was to increase rather than to diminish the sins which had been introduced into the world. And if such was the fact, it could not be pled that it was adapted to overcome the acknowledged evils of the apostasy.

The law – The Mosaic laws and institutions. The word seems to be used here to denote all the laws which were given in the Old Testament.

Entered – This word usually means to enter secretly or surreptitiously. But it appears to be used here simply in the sense that the Law came in, or was given. It came in addition to, or it supervened the state before Moses, when people were living without a revelation.

That sin … – The word “that” ἵνα hina in this place does not mean that it was the design of giving the Law that sin might abound or be increased, but that such was in fact the effect. It had this tendency, not to restrain or subdue sin, but to excite and increase it. That the word has this sense may be seen in the lexicons. The way in which the Law produces this effect is stated more fully by the apostle in Rom_7:7-11. The Law expresses the duty of man; it is spiritual and holy; it is opposed to the guilty passions and pleasures of the world; and it thus excites opposition, provokes to anger, and is the occasion by which sin is called into exercise, and shows itself in the heart. All law, where there is a disposition to do wrong, has this tendency. A command given to a child that is disposed to indulge his passions, only tends to excite anger and opposition. If the heart was holy, and there was a disposition to do right, law would have no such tendency. See this subject further illustrated in the notes at Rom_7:7-11.

The offence – The offence which had been introduced by Adam, that is, sin. Compare Rom_5:15.

Might abound – Might increase; that is, would be more apparent, more violent, more extensive. The introduction of the Mosaic Law, instead of diminishing the sins of people, only increases them.

But where sin abounded – Alike in all dispensations – before the Law, and under the Law. In all conditions of the human family before the gospel, it was the characteristic that sin was prevalent.

Grace – Favor; mercy.

Did much more abound – Superabounded. The word is used no where else in the New Testament, except in 2Co_7:4. It means that the pardoning mercy of the gospel greatly triumphed over sin, even over the sins of the Jews, though those sins were greatly aggravated by the light which they enjoyed under the advantages of divine revelation.

John Calvin
Romans 5:21
21.That as sin has reigned, etc. As sin is said to be the sting of death, and as death has no power over men, except on account of sin; so sin executes its power by death: it is hence said to exercise thereby its dominion. In the last clause the order of the words is deranged, but yet not without reason. The simple contrast might have been thus formed, — “That righteousness may reign through Christ.” But Paul was not content to oppose what is contrary to what is contrary, but adds the word grace, that he might more deeply print this truth on the memory — that the whole is to be ascribed, not to our merit, but to the kindness of God. He had previously said, that death reigned; he now ascribes reigning to sin; but its end or, effect is death. And he says, that it has reigned, in the past tense; not that it has ceased to reign in those who are born only of flesh, and he thus distinguishes between Adam and Christ, and assigns to each his own time. Hence as soon as the grace of Christ begins to prevail in any one, the reign of sin and death ceases.

Adam Clarke
Romans 5:21
That as sin hath reigned unto death – As extensively, as deeply, as universally, as sin, whether implying the act of transgression or the impure principle from which the act proceeds, or both. Hath reigned, subjected the whole earth and all its inhabitants; the whole soul, and all its powers and faculties, unto death, temporal of the body, spiritual of the soul, and eternal of both; even so, as extensively, deeply, and universally might grace reign – filling the whole earth, and pervading, purifying, and refining the whole soul: through righteousness – through this doctrine of free salvation by the blood of the Lamb, and by the principle of holiness transfused through the soul by the Holy Ghost: unto eternal life – the proper object of an immortal spirit’s hope, the only sphere where the human intellect can rest, and be happy in the place and state where God is; where he is seen As He Is; and where he can be enjoyed with out interruption in an eternal progression of knowledge and beatitude: by Jesus Christ our Lord – as the cause of our salvation, the means by which it is communicated, and the source whence it springs. Thus we find, that the salvation from sin here is as extensive and complete as the guilt and contamination of sin; death is conquered, hell disappointed, the devil confounded, and sin totally destroyed. Here is glorying: To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests to God and his Father, be glory and dominion, for ever and ever. Amen. Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth! Amen and Amen.

What highly interesting and momentous truths does the preceding chapter bring to our view! No less than the doctrine of the fall of man from original righteousness; and the redemption of the world by the incarnation and death of Christ. On the subject of the Fall, though I have spoken much in the notes on Genesis, chap. 3, yet it may be necessary to make a few farther observations: –

1. That all mankind have fallen under the empire of death, through this original transgression, the apostle most positively asserts; and few men who profess to believe the Bible, pretend to dispute. This point is indeed ably stated, argued, and proved by Dr. Taylor, from whose observations the preceding notes are considerably enriched. But there is one point which I think not less evident, which he has not only not included in his argument, but, as far as it came in his way, has argued against it, viz. the degeneracy and moral corruption of the human soul. As no man can account for the death brought into the world but on the ground of this primitive transgression, so none can account for the moral evil that is in the world on any other ground. It is a fact, that every human being brings into the world with him the seeds of dissolution and mortality. Into this state we are fallen, according to Divine revelation, through the one offense of Adam. This fact is proved by the mortality of all men. It is not less a fact, that every man that is born into the world brings with him the seeds of moral evil; these he could not have derived from his Maker; for the most pure and holy God can make nothing impure, imperfect, or unholy. Into this state we are reduced, according to the Scripture, by the transgression of Adam; for by this one man sin entered into the world, as well as death.

2. The fact that all come into the world with sinful propensities is proved by another fact, that every man sins; that sin is his first work, and that no exception to this has ever been noticed, except in the human nature of Jesus Christ; and that exempt case is sufficiently accounted for from this circumstance, that it did not come in the common way of natural generation.

3. As like produces its like, if Adam became mortal and sinful, he could not communicate properties which he did not possess; and he must transmit those which constituted his natural and moral likeness: therefore all his posterity must resemble himself. Nothing less than a constant miraculous energy, presiding over the formation and development of every human body and soul, could prevent the seeds of natural and moral evil from being propagated. That these seeds are not produced in men by their own personal transgressions, is most positively asserted by the apostle in the preceding chapter; and that they exist before the human being is capable of actual transgression, or of the exercise of will and judgment, so as to prefer and determine, is evident to the most superficial observer:
1st, from the most marked evil propensities of children, long before reason can have any influence or control over passion; and,
2ndly, it is demonstrated by the death of millions in a state of infancy. It could not, therefore, be personal transgression that produced the evil propensities in the one case, nor death in the other.

4. While misery, death, and sin are in the world, we shall have incontrovertible proofs of the fall of man. Men may dispute against the doctrine of original sin; but such facts as the above will be a standing irrefragable argument against every thing that can be advanced against the doctrine itself.

5. The justice of permitting this general infection to become diffused has been strongly oppugned. “Why should the innocent suffer for the guilty?” As God made man to propagate his like on the earth, his transmitting the same kind of nature with which he was formed must be a necessary consequence of that propagation. He might, it is true, have cut off for ever the offending pair; but this, most evidently, did not comport with his creative designs. “But he might have rendered Adam incapable of sin.” This does not appear. If he had been incapable of sinning, he would have been incapable of holiness; that is, he could not have been a free agent; or in other words he could not have been an intelligent or intellectual being; he must have been a mass of inert and unconscious matter. “But God might have cut them off and created a new race.” He certainly might; and what would have been gained by this? Why, just nothing. The second creation, if of intelligent beings at all, must have been precisely similar to the first; and the circumstances in which these last were to be placed, must be exactly such as infinite wisdom saw to be the most proper for their predecessors, and consequently, the most proper for them. They also must have been in a state of probation; they also must have been placed under a law; this law must be guarded by penal sanctions; the possibility of transgression must be the same in the second case as in the first; and the lapse as probable, because as possible to this second race of human beings as it was to their predecessors. It was better, therefore, to let the same pair continue to fulfill the great end of their creation, by propagating their like upon the earth; and to introduce an antidote to the poison, and by a dispensation as strongly expressive of wisdom as of goodness, to make the ills of life, which were the consequences of their transgression, the means of correcting the evil, and through the wondrous economy of grace, sanctifying even these to the eternal good of the soul.

6. Had not God provided a Redeemer, he, no doubt, would have terminated the whole mortal story, by cutting off the original transgressors; for it would have been unjust to permit them to propagate their like in such circumstances, that their offspring must be unavoidably and eternally wretched.

God has therefore provided such a Savior, the merit of whose passion and death should apply to every human being, and should infinitely transcend the demerit of the original transgression, and put every soul that received that grace (and All may) into a state of greater excellence and glory than that was, or could have been, from which Adam, by transgressing, fell.

7. The state of infants dying before they are capable of hearing the Gospel, and the state of heathens who have no opportunity of knowing how to escape from their corruption and misery, have been urged as cases of peculiar hardship. But, first, there is no evidence in the whole book of God that any child dies eternally for Adam’s sin. Nothing of this kind is intimated in the Bible; and, as Jesus took upon him human nature, and condescended to be born of a woman in a state of perfect helpless infancy, he has, consequently, sanctified this state, and has said, without limitation or exception, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. We may justly infer, and all the justice as well as the mercy of the Godhead supports the inference, that all human beings, dying in an infant state, are regenerated by that grace of God which bringeth salvation to all men, Tit_2:11, and go infallibly to the kingdom of heaven. As to the Gentiles, their case is exceedingly clear. The apostle has determined this; see Rom_2:14, Rom_2:15, and the notes there. He who, in the course of his providence, has withheld from them the letter of his word, has not denied them the light and influence of his Spirit; and will judge them in the great day only according to the grace and means of moral improvement with which they have been favored. No man will be finally damned because he was a Gentile, but because he has not made a proper use of the grace and advantages which God had given him. Thus we see that the Judge of all the earth has done right; and we may rest assured that he will eternally act in the same way.

8. The term Fall we use metaphorically, to signify degradation: literally, it signifies stumbling, so as to lose the centre of gravity, or the proper poise of our bodies, in consequence of which we are precipitated on the ground. The term seems to have been borrowed from the παραπτωμα of the apostle, Rom_5:15-18, which we translate offense, and which is more literally Fall, from παρα, intensive, and πιπτω, I fall; a grievous, dangerous, and ruinous fall, and is property applied to transgression and sin in general; as every act is a degradation of the soul, accompanied with hurt, and tending to destruction. The term, in this sense, is still in common use; the degradation of a man in power we term his fall; the impoverishment of a rich man we express in the same way; and when a man of piety and probity is overcome by any act of sin, we say he is fallen; he has descended from his spiritual eminence, is degraded from his spiritual excellence, is impure in his soul, and becomes again exposed to the displeasure of his God.

Charles Hodge
Romans 5:21
That as sin hath reigned unto death, etc. That, ἵνα, in order that, as expressing the divine purpose. The design of God in permitting sin, and in allowing it to abound, was to bring good out of evil; to make it the occasion of the most wonderful display of his glory and grace, so that the benefits of redemption should infinitely transcend the evils of the apostasy. Sin reigned, ἐν τῷ θανάτῳ, not unto, but in death, or through death. Death spiritual as well as temporal — evil in its widest sense, as the judicial consequence of sin, was the sphere in which the power or triumph of sin was manifested. Even so might grace reign, (ὥσπερ — οὕτω και&), as the one has happened, so also the other. The one is in order to the other. Grace is the unmerited love of God and its consequences. It reigns, i.e., it is abundantly and effectively displayed, unto eternal life, (εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον,) in securing as the result of its exercise, eternal life. This is done (διὰ δικαιοσύνης) by means of righteousness, and that righteousness is through Jesus Christ our Lord. As the triumph of sin over our race was through the offense of Adam, so the triumph of grace is through the righteousness of Christ. The construction of this passage, assumed in the above interpretation, is to be preferred to that which connects δικαιοσύνης εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον, ‘righteousness which is unto eternal life,’ because the antithesis is not between death and righteousness, but between death and life: ‘Sin reigns in death, grace reigns unto life.’

That the benefits of redemption shall far outweigh the evils of the fall, is here clearly asserted. This we can in a measure comprehend, because,

1. The number of the saved shall doubtless greatly exceed the number of the lost. Since the half of mankind die in infancy, and, according to the Protestant doctrine, are heirs of salvation; and since in the future state of the Church the knowledge of the Lord is to cover the earth, we have reason to believe that the lost shall bear to the saved no greater proportion than the inmates of a prison do to the mass of the community.

2. Because the eternal Son of God, by his incarnation and mediation, exalts his people to a far higher state of being than our race, if unfallen, could ever have attained.

3. Because the benefits of redemption are not to be confined to the human race. Christ is to be admired in his saints. It is through the Church that the manifold wisdom of God is to be revealed, throughout all ages, to principalities and powers. The redemption of man is to be the great source of knowledge and blessedness to the intelligent universe.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Romans 5:21
That as sin — Observe, the word “offense” is no more used, as that had been sufficiently illustrated; but – what better befitted this comprehensive summation of the whole matter – the great general term sin.

hath reigned unto death — rather, “in death,” triumphing and (as it were) reveling in that complete destruction of its victims.

even so might grace reign — In Rom_5:14, Rom_5:17 we had the reign of death over the guilty and condemned in Adam; here it is the reign of the mighty causes of these – of SIN which clothes Death a Sovereign with venomous power (1Co_15:56) and with awful authority (Rom_6:23), and of GRACE, the grace which originated the scheme of salvation, the grace which “sent the Son to be the Savior of the world,” the grace which “made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin,” the grace which “makes us to be the righteousness of God in Him,” so that “we who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness do reign in life by One, Jesus Christ!”

through righteousness — not ours certainly (“the obedience of Christians,” to use the wretched language of Grotius) nor yet exactly “justification” [Stuart, Hodge]; but rather, “the (justifying) righteousness of Christ” [Beza, Alford, and in substance, Olshausen, Meyer]; the same which in Rom_5:19 is called His “obedience,” meaning His whole mediatorial work in the flesh. This is here represented as the righteous medium through which grace reaches its objects and attains all its ends, the stable throne from which Grace as a Sovereign dispenses its saving benefits to as many as are brought under its benign sway.

unto eternal life — which is salvation in its highest form and fullest development for ever.

by Jesus Christ our Lord — Thus, on that “Name which is above every name,” the echoes of this hymn to the glory of “Grace” die away, and “Jesus is left alone.”

On reviewing this golden section of our Epistle, the following additional remarks occur:

(1) If this section does not teach that the whole race of Adam, standing in him as their federal head, “sinned in him and fell with him in his first transgression,” we may despair of any intelligible exposition of it. The apostle, after saying that Adam’s sin introduced death into the world, does not say “and so death passed upon all men for that Adam “sinned,” but “for that all sinned.” Thus, according to the teaching of the apostle, “the death of all is for the sin of all”; and as this cannot mean the personal sins of each individual, but some sin of which unconscious infants are guilty equally with adults, it can mean nothing but the one “first transgression” of their common head, regarded as the sin of each of his race, and punished, as such, with death. It is vain to start back from this imputation to all of the guilt of Adam’s first sin, as wearing the appearance of injustice. For not only are all other theories liable to the same objection, in some other form – besides being inconsistent with the text – but the actual facts of human nature, which none dispute, and which cannot be explained away, involve essentially the same difficulties as the great principle on which the apostle here explains them. If we admit this principle, on the authority of our apostle, a flood of light is at once thrown upon certain features of the divine procedure, and certain portions of the divine oracles, which otherwise are involved in much darkness; and if the principle itself seem hard to digest, it is not harder than the existence of evil, which, as a fact, admits of no dispute, but, as a feature in the divine administration, admits of no explanation in the present state.

(2) What is called original sin – or that depraved tendency to evil with which every child of Adam comes into the world – is not formally treated of in this section (and even in the seventh chapter, it is rather its nature and operation than its connection with the first sin which is handled). But indirectly, this section bears testimony to it; representing the one original offense, unlike every other, as having an enduring vitality in the bosom of every child of Adam, as a principle of disobedience, whose virulence has gotten it the familiar name of “original sin.”

(3) In what sense is the word “death” used throughout this section? Not certainly as mere temporal death, as Arminian commentators affirm. For as Christ came to undo what Adam did, which is all comprehended in the word “death,” it would hence follow that Christ has merely dissolved the sentence by which soul and body are parted in death; in other words, merely procured the resurrection of the body. But the New Testament throughout teaches that the salvation of Christ is from a vastly more comprehensive “death” than that. But neither is death here used merely in the sense of penal evil, that is, “any evil inflicted in punishment of sin and for the support of law” [Hodge]. This is too indefinite, making death a mere figure of speech to denote “penal evil” in general – an idea foreign to the simplicity of Scripture – or at least making death, strictly so called, only one part of the thing meant by it, which ought not to be resorted to if a more simple and natural explanation can be found. By “death” then, in this section, we understand the sinner’s destruction, in the only sense in which he is capable of it. Even temporal death is called “destruction” (Deu_7:23; 1Sa_5:11, etc.), as extinguishing all that men regard as life. But a destruction extending to the soul as well as the body, and into the future world, is clearly expressed in Mat_7:13; 2Th_1:9; 2Pe_3:16, etc. This is the penal “death” of our section, and in this view of it we retain its proper sense. Life – as a state of enjoyment of the favor of God, of pure fellowship with Him, and voluntary subjection to Him – is a blighted thing from the moment that sin is found in the creature’s skirts; in that sense, the threatening, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” was carried into immediate effect in the case of Adam when he fell; who was thenceforward “dead while he lived.” Such are all his posterity from their birth. The separation of soul and body in temporal death carries the sinner’s destruction” a stage farther; dissolving his connection with that world out of which he extracted a pleasurable, though unblest, existence, and ushering him into the presence of his Judge – first as a disembodied spirit, but ultimately in the body too, in an enduring condition – “to be punished (and this is the final state) with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.” This final extinction in soul and body of all that constitutes life, but yet eternal consciousness of a blighted existence – this, in its amplest and most awful sense, is “DEATH”! Not that Adam understood all that. It is enough that he understood “the day” of his disobedience to be the terminating period of his blissful “life.” In that simple idea was wrapt up all the rest. But that he should comprehend its details was not necessary. Nor is it necessary to suppose all that to be intended in every passage of Scripture where the word occurs. Enough that all we have described is in the bosom of the thing, and will be realized in as many as are not the happy subjects of the Reign of Grace. Beyond doubt, the whole of this is intended in such sublime and comprehensive passages as this: “God … gave His … Son that whosoever believeth in Him might not PERISH, but have everlasting LIFE” (Joh_3:16). And should not the untold horrors of that “DEATH” – already “reigning over” all that are not in Christ, and hastening to its consummation – quicken our flight into “the second Adam,” that having “received the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, we may reign in LIFE by the One, Jesus Christ?”

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