It should be noticed, in examining the scripture, that it does not say that there was any distinct and definite prophecy that our blessed Lord should be called a Nazarene. It speaks, we apprehend, in a general way, for the language is, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets," which signifies, as we understand it, that this is the sense of the prophetic testimony, not of one prophet simply, but of the prophets generally. The second difficulty is as to what is meant by the words, "He shall be called a Nazarene." Some attempt to solve it by the endeavour to deduce the word "Nazarene" from the Hebrew word "Netzer" - a branch - and thus to connect it with Isaiah 11:1, where this word is found. But it is not used in this sense by other prophets, and consequently would seem to be excluded from our scripture. Moreover, our Lord's being called a Nazarene is so plainly connected with His dwelling in Nazareth that one hesitates to accept such a solution, even if it could be satisfactorily shown that "Nazareth" is derived from the word employed by Isaiah for "Branch." It should also be added, that Nazarene is a regular word to denote an inhabitant of the city. (Mark uses a different form of the word.) But if a moral meaning is sought for, it might be discovered in Nathanael's words, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" In that case it will mean that, according to the testimony of the prophets, Christ should be despised and rejected of men. This is all that we can say, and this only as suggestion.
A very little consideration will show that the translation of this scripture in our version cannot be accepted. Taking the latter clause as it stands, it would imply the salvation of all men, which manifestly is not the teaching of Scripture. The error of the rendering lies in the preposition "upon," which is given as the equivalent of the Greek word eis. There is no justification whatever for such a rendering, for the word means "into," "unto," "towards," etc., according to its connection; and there can be no doubt from its usage that "towards" would most nearly express in this place the sense of the original, that is, the mind of the Spirit. Thus read, the meaning is entirely changed. It will then run (we quote from the New Translation), "So then as [it was] by one offence towards all men to condemnation, so by one righteousness towards all men for justification of life."* Now then for the interpretation. First of all, it will be observed that the contrast is drawn between Adam's sin, "the offence of one," and "the accomplished subsisting righteousness" of Christ, together with the effect, or rather bearing, of each. The "offence" of Adam stretched out in its bearing towards all men for condemnation, inasmuch as all men came under the consequences of his fall. The righteousness of One (Christ), on the other hand, extended towards all men, in that the gospel which proclaimed it was to be preached to every creature under heaven. (Col. 1:23.) Whether souls came under its benefit and blessing depended upon another thing; viz., whether the glad tidings were received. We thus read, in chap. 3, that "the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ (is) unto (eis) all and upon (epi) all them that believe." While therefore the righteousness of One is "towards" all, it is only those that believe who receive justification of life, that justification which believers possess in virtue of having life in Him who is risen from the dead, a life which is out of and beyond death, and hence a life to which no condemnation could ever attach. (Chap. 8:1-3.) The application of the truth contained in v. 18 follows in the next verse; and it will be noticed that instead of "all men," where the bearing or scope of the respective actions is spoken of, we have now "many," when it is a question of application. This is to teach that the consequences - condemnation, and justification of life, being constituted sinners or righteous - are limited to those, on the one hand, connected with Adam, and, on the other hand, to those connected with Christ. Through birth into this world we are linked with Adam, and through faith we are associated with Christ, and then no longer under the penal consequences of Adam's offence.
*Compare the rendering in the Revised Version, which has substituted "unto" for "upon."
"The nearer we are to a Divine Person, the more we adore and recognise what He is."