Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

J. N. Darby.

Chapter  1
Chapter  2
Chapter  3
Chapter  4
Chapter  5
Chapter  6
Chapter  7
Chapter  8
Chapter  9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16

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It may facilitate our apprehension of the epistle to the Romans itself, if we take a brief survey of the other epistles of Paul which complete his teaching on the various parts of the same general whole - Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, Colossians. A part of 2 Corinthians furnishes us with the practical application of it. In the Galatians we have the first elements; in Ephesians the brightest results of the same great circle of truth. But some preliminary remarks may facilitate our perception of the different parts themselves contained in each epistle. The point I now refer to is the difference between the counsels of God and the responsibility of man. The counsels of God have their accomplishment in the second Man, who is from heaven. Every intelligent creature is responsible, and the saint in a far higher way than a mere child of Adam. But I now speak of our original responsibility as creatures of God, and consequently in connection with the first Adam.

It is a wondrous and blessed truth that God's purpose and delight were in men. Before the world was the divine wisdom centred in them, and that in connection with the Son of His love. Purpose was before responsibility. Responsibility necessarily awaited the creation of the responsible creature; for we do not speak of angels here, who were a distinct creation altogether, present when this creation was set up by the power of God. That purpose of God had in view the last man, the last Adam, the Son of His love, in whom His wisdom and His power were to be displayed; and it was not revealed till after He had accomplished His work, on which, connected with His person, God's glory in it was to be founded. This is very distinctly stated in two passages I will now quote. Titus 1:2-3: "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began, but hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour." Again, 2 Timothy 1:9: "Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works [that is responsibility, according to which judgment is], but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality [incorruptibility] to light by the gospel, whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles."

114 The same in substance is stated in Ephesians 1:4, connected with other passages in the epistle, in which it is fully developed. In the well-known passage of Proverbs 8, though not of course as a dogmatic statement as in the epistles, we have the same truth of God's thoughts and purposes in man brought out in connection with wisdom personified, which, in its fulfilment, was in Christ. The object of that passage is not to celebrate - that which every pious mind surely owns - the wisdom of God in creation, as often supposed; but declares that wisdom was in God before creation, before His ways began. "Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before his works of old; I was set up from everlasting." Or ever the earth was, wisdom was there, is the statement when no creation was. What was in the mind of Wisdom, of which the created earth was but the sphere? When Jehovah did create, and when He ordered our present world, Wisdom was present with Him "as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, and my delights were with the sons of men." Man occupied Wisdom's thought: Wisdom's delight was there.

Hence when the Word became flesh, the angels, that prior creation, celebrate it, acclaiming this, "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good pleasure in men"; not merely goodwill. It is the same word as when it is said, "in whom I am well pleased." Blessed unjealous praise of those holy beings delighting in God's thoughts, even if others were the object of them! For God's glory was their delight, and Christ eclipsed every other thought, they felt and thought according to their perfect nature. Purpose was thus in the second Man, the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the Son of God's love, and in those in whom His delight was associated with Him, to which end He became man, and all, through His death, was to God's glory and righteousness.

But the purpose of God was not first in accomplishment. That came with the second Man. when the question of man's responsibility had had its full solution and result, and they were dealt with as lost. The responsibility of man as such, as a mere creature, was fully dealt with, or rather man as under it. First as innocent. There he failed, tested by the simple claim of obedience without an evil lust; but (God having been distrusted, and Satan listened to, in Adam's, or, however, Eve's soul) God was lost, and lust and transgression came in - characterised now man and his ways, afraid of God, and driven out by Him. The sense of this responsibility was then lost, so to speak, in utter lawlessness, and the flood and judgment came upon the earth. Now, after God had established restraint, and authority in man on the earth in Noe, who also failed and got drunk, God developed His ways anew in positive dealings with man, as outside, to bless or to test. But, before testing, grace was revealed; man was dealt with in grace. A free unconditional promise was given to Abraham, the new root of hope and promise by grace.

115 It is not without interest to notice the distinction of God's ways before and after the flood. When Adam was judged, no promise was made to him. The first man had lost all but the judgment he had merited, nor could promise be made to sinful flesh. But the total destruction of Satan's power is announced. In judging the serpent, it is declared that the woman's Seed, not Adam (clearly he was not woman's seed), should bruise the serpent's head. The promises were in Christ. Then, though individuals were dealt with in grace, as Abel, Enoch, Noah, there was no new system or principle set up. Man remained responsible as man; and the earth was lawless, corrupt, and full of violence, and so bad that judgment came, and the world that then was perished. There was no new head and root of promise. After the flood, man rose up in rebellion to make himself a name, not to be scattered; and God confounded his language, and nations were formed, and Satan introduced idolatry. Save as an abstract root of all worship, as the consciousness of God must be, God was set aside, and men put demons in His place, and clothed deified lusts with His name.* Then God called out from the world which He had made, and all relationship with it, one to whom He revealed Himself, and whom He made the head of a family belonging to Him, whether naturally or spiritually. To this chosen and called one, this new head of a race, God gave promises directly addressed, not indeed to man as such, but to the chosen and called one. The promise was introduced,** and first deposited in Abraham the father of the faithful; it was soon after, by a figure intimating the death and resurrection of Christ, confirmed to the Seed. It was more than the judgment by which the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head; there was direct personal blessing from God to the objects of it, and this blessing in the seed of Abraham. The promise and the seed were fully united in the revelations of God.

{*There appear to me to have been four sources of idolatry: first, an ineffaceable consciousness of God; deified ancestors, the stars; and the principle of generation. These were interwoven the last giving rise to corruption inconceivable, the consecration of degrading lusts. The gods, as popularly known, were deified passions, as Venus, Mars, etc., and the powers of nature. Behind all these was always the unknown God. Conscience had no part in the scheme; natural benevolence might, as in India; nor even when something of conscience (for all have one since the fall) mingled with it, as in the Egyptian Amenti, no future intercourse with God, transmigration, exaltation to gods like themselves. But though the root of God-consciousness was always there, fellowship with God was unknown.}

{*A promise not to destroy the earth was given to Noah, but he was no root of promised personal blessings.}

116 After this came another very important dealing of God with the fleshly seed of Abraham - the giving of the law, the raising the question of righteousness, and requiring it from man, according to the perfect rule of it as applicable to Adam's children: blessing and life dependent on obedience - an obedience as justly required as the rule of it was perfect. Here responsibility was distinctly brought into relief, sanctioned by God's express authority, and a perfect measure of it given. We know the result. The golden calf was made before the tables of the law could be brought into the camp. To natural responsibility revealed authority and a revealed rule were added; righteousness was defined and claimed from man according to his obligations, measured by God Himself. Transgression came in, as before in Adam.

But then man's responsibility, to say nothing of God's patient dealings with him by the prophets, was dealt with in another and wholly new way. God came into this sinful world in grace, beseeching men to be reconciled to Him; and the promised Seed of David came to the seed of Abraham, according to the flesh. But when He came, there was no man; when He called, there was none to answer. Not only sin was developed in lawlessness, and the law met by transgression, but mercy had been rejected, and the promise itself, and the promised One, despised. The trial of responsibility was over; the tree was bad; and all the digging about it and dunging brought no true fruit to God. The fig-tree on the way bore leaves only, and was judged for ever. The one beloved Son, if He sought fruit, was cast out and slain. If the King invited guests, His invitation was despised. Not only God had driven man out of paradise, but man, as far as he was concerned, had turned God - come in grace into the ruined world of outcasts - out of it in hatred against Him. Sin was complete, and man lost. But now, speaking reverently, it was God's turn. They with wicked hands had slain Christ, but it was according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The truth was, He had appeared once in the end of the world (the consummation of ages - an expression we can now easily understand) to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

117 Here the Lord, according to every need of man and the divine glory, met the consequences of man's responsibility - made sin, and bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. Propitiation was perfect, redemption (not yet as regards exercised power, but moral title in righteousness in the value of Christ's work) accomplished; and here, not only had man's responsibility been met, but God perfectly glorified in all that He is: love, righteous judgment against sin, majesty, truth, and devoted obedience to Himself at all cost,* and man entered in righteousness into the glory of God, and as Son established heir of all things. See John 13:31-32; 17:1, 4, 5. Thus in the cross of Christ the full foundation was laid in righteousness, according to the righteousness of God, for the accomplishment of the divine counsels in glorifying the redeemed in the second Man, the last Adam, the Lord from heaven. The putting away the sins of those that had part with Him was accomplished (those that rejected Him were doubly guilty); the revelation of the righteousness of God had now its full ground, Christ being at the right hand of God as man in virtue of it, and the counsels of God could be fully brought out to the glory of God by us, yea, all His plans for the glory of the last Adam, His beloved Son, and of us with Him.

{*The more we examine the cross, the more we shall find how all good and evil found its issue, and how it connects together the consummated evil of man in hatred against God manifested in Christ in love, the full power of Satan as prince of this world, his hatred against goodness and audacity against the Lord. Then perfection in man in Christ, and love to the Father, and obedience, (and we may thankfully add to us), the double character of love to God as man upward and divinely to us, and all this in the very place of sin where it was needed, Christ being made sin. Then in God perfect righteousness against sin, and perfect love to sinners. All was concentrated in the cross.}

118 Thus we have these two great subjects before us, the responsibility of man and the counsels of God. I should add, to complete these truths, that Christ thus risen becomes our life; and the Holy Ghost is given to us that we may enjoy the efficacy of Christ's first coming, in forgiveness and righteousness, and have God's love shed abroad in our hearts, and have the earnest of the inheritance which is before us in glory; consciously sons of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.

However, the forgiveness of sins and the clearing away of all that belonged to the old Adam on the one hand, and the counsels of God on the other, are now through the cross distinctly revealed and the difference as clearly seen. On one hand the evil and our responsibility are met by the work of the cross; on the other the righteous ground of the accomplishment of all God's counsels is laid, so that they can be revealed. We have seen responsible man in his natural state, unfallen and fallen, and that end in the flood; then in the renewed earth, as to this point, when man sought to make it his own, and God had divided it into nations, and these had fallen into idolatry. God called out one to be a race and people for Himself, and gave him the promises, confirming them to his seed; then man, this called people, put under law; and finally the heir of promise come, and God in Christ reconciling the world. Man had thus been fully tried in his natural state, and by all that God could do in dealing with him. The result was either lawless sin or enmity against God. God Himself, now in His own work of grace, wrought redemption, and, perfectly glorified in Christ a man amongst men, set Him as man in righteousness in the divine glory, our forerunner to whom we are to be conformed. Thus forgiveness, righteousness, the setting aside the old thing, were secured, and the counsels of God brought fully out as to having man with Himself in glory, in and with His Son the Lord Christ, the Spirit being given to the forgiven ones, that they might know this redemption fully, stand consciously in the place of sons, and have an earnest of the glory.

119 Of this the epistle to the Galatians brings out very distinctly the following points: - promise, in contrast with law, which brought a curse and no justification of man; redemption from that curse, by Christ's being made a curse for us; then through Christ the promised Seed, come of the woman (once the source of sin), and made under the law to redeem those under it, meeting the two great forms of responsibility and consequent judgment before and after the flood, Himself the Son, that, the blessing of Abraham coming on the Gentiles too, all might receive the adoption of sons. Thus was Christ the fulfiller of promise in contrast with the school-master till He came. But, we being sons by faith in Him, the Spirit is given to us, giving the consciousness of the relationship. The heirs are no more servants but sons, and the Spirit is in contrast with the law. The flesh, our evil nature, lusts against the Spirit; but, if led of this, we are not under law; nor can there be a law against the fruit of the Spirit. Thus we have the recognition of the natural evil of man (not the full inquiry as to our place under God's dealings), promise, law, the promised One, redemption accomplished by Him, and the consequent gift of the promised Spirit and the sonship into which we are brought. The ways and dealings of God are fully discussed, our place ascertained; but the counsels of God are not touched upon. Hence I said it was elementary, though most important in its place.

The epistle to the Romans discusses fully the ground on which a man can be put with God in this world; and how the promise to the Jews, and their present rejection, and the no-difference doctrine as to Jew and Gentile, is reconciled with the promise. Our study of the epistle will bring this out, with the Lord's help, in its place. I only remark that it also treats the responsibility of man and his state, not the counsels of God. But there are such, and our security under them into glory is just touched upon in chapter 8, so that a link with the other point is given.*

{*In the Romans the saint is looked as alone in this world, not risen, but the old man crucified with Christ.}

I would now refer to two aspects of man's state of sin, necessary to understand the distinction between the foregoing epistles and the others previously mentioned. Man may be considered as living in evil ways, alive to sin and lust, so to speak, but, if so, dead towards God. As to the former, death must come in to free him from the evil; in the latter aspect, he is viewed as dead in sins. The epistle to the Romans treats fully the former, and the remedy by grace; that to the Ephesians treats man as dead in sins. In Romans it is justifying and delivering sinful man, and bringing him out of that condition by redemption; in Ephesians it is a new creation. Here consequently, while redemption is fully stated, the counsels of God are fully unfolded, and man is seen sitting in heavenly places in Christ. In Colossians we have both aspects - buried unto death, and, when dead in sins, raised with Christ. The believer is seen risen with Christ, having died with Him; but heaven is in hope and prospect: he is not seen sitting there.

120 The Ephesians therefore begins with the counsels of God, first setting us in our place before God morally like Himself - Christ's position, who is gone to His Father and our Father, His God and our God; then, after briefly stating redemption as that which we have as needed to bring us there, and indeed to make God known, God's purposes as to the Christ Himself, head over all as Man, are stated; which brings in the inheritance and the earnest of the given Spirit till the redemption of the purchased possession, when glory will be revealed. The present exaltation of Christ, and the working of the same power in us which took Him when dead from the grave to the right hand of God, brings us raised with Him to be in Him on high, the church associated with Him; His body who is Head over all things, and to it. This work of Christ is unfolded in Ephesians 2. Christ is first seen in death where we were lying in sins, and (these put away by His bearing them - going down to death for us) God's power comes in and raises us up with Him into the same place of glory and blessing. Thus the purpose of God in the sons and heirs, in the church as Christ's body united to Him, is fully revealed; the practical consequence gone into. It is a scheme hidden from all ages and generations, impossible to exist or be revealed till the middle wall of partition was broken down.*

{* Ephesians 3 gives, not the counsels and work of God, but Paul's administration of the mystery.}

Then the gifts of the Spirit from the Man on high to build up the saints and evangelise the world, forming the body in union with Christ, are unfolded; and, from Ephesians 4:17, practical conduct. It is interesting to see that as we are perfectly brought to God in Christ the conduct of the Christian is that of our coming out as a child from Him to display God's own character, of which Christ is the perfect pattern in man. This subjectively depends on having put off the old man and put on the new, which is created after God, etc., and the presence of the Holy Ghost, who is not to be grieved. God, as love and light, is the objective measure to be followed, as by dear children, Christ Himself having been the perfect expression of both. It is well to note here that the contrast with, and the superiority to, law is striking. This takes love to self as the measure of love to others; that, the perfect giving up of self in love as Christ did. Then we have Christ's love to, and care for, the church as such; and finally we are God's warriors in Canaan - that is, in heavenly places - and have need of God's whole armour against spiritual wickedness, walking in dependence on God. Such is a brief sketch of the principles of the epistle to the Ephesians.

121 In the Colossians saints are not sitting in heavenly places; a hope is laid up for them in heaven. It goes farther than Romans, in that we are risen with Christ, a point not treated of in Romans;* but it does not, as the epistle to the Ephesians, seat us in heavenly places in Him. We are to set our affections on things above, where Christ sitteth. But the Romans and Ephesians view of the case are in their elements distinctly stated. We are buried with Him by baptism unto death. This is as Romans 6. The believer is looked at as previously alive in his sins, as stated indeed in Colossians 3:7. But then he is looked at as quickened together with Christ (Col. 2:13), which is not in the Romans, but is in the Ephesian development of the truth;** but it does not reach on to the full Ephesian doctrine, that we are sitting in heavenly places in Christ. So, further on, we find, "If ye be dead with Christ" (Col. 2:20); and "If ye be risen with Christ," Col. 3:1. Then it is exhortation: we are to seek those things that are above where Christ sits. There is another truth connected with this which shews the perfection of scripture and God's elaborate care in teaching His saints fully.

{*We are seen in Christ in Romans 8:1, and the church is contemplated in chapter 12; but this is assumed - the subject is not treated.}

{**The quickening together with Christ is exactly the same in the Colossians and the Ephesians, but resurrection is not. In the Colossians the believer is raised with Christ, and by faith of the operation of God who raised Him. In Ephesians it brings in Jew and Gentile so as to be together in Christ in heavenly places.}

122 In Colossians, save one practical expression which forms no part of its doctrine, the Spirit is not mentioned. It is having put off the old man and put on the new - life as risen with Christ. Ephesians is the full development of sonship and the body. It is by the Holy Ghost we have the Spirit of adoption, and are baptised into one body. Hence His presence is fully noticed in that epistle. The body is assumed practically in Colossians as chapter 3:15, but the Head, Christ, is more its subject. The fulness of the Godhead is in Christ in Colossians. In Ephesians the body is His fulness, completing the head, who fills all in all. In 2 Corinthians 4:10 and following verses will be found the practical power of the doctrine of Romans in daily operation. Death as to all that was of Adam in Paul is effectuated in every-day life, that nothing but the life of Jesus should be manifested in his dealings with others; God also helping to the same end, by making him pass through circumstances which were death to all natural life. Compare 2 Cor. 1:8-9. In verse 14 we have others viewed in the light of Ephesian doctrine - all men dead, or Christ need not have died for them.* The glory of an exalted Christ is what is especially before his eyes here - the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

{*The interpretation "they have all died," as a consequence, I have not the smallest question, is a simple blunder, as indeed verse 15 plainly proves.}

I trust this survey, though rapid, may enable us to study with more intelligence the epistle to the Romans, which does not enter on the counsels of God with any development, but lays the ground fully for their accomplishment in putting away sins and giving deliverance from the old man. The responsibility of man is fully treated, God's righteousness explained and established, and grace unfolded as the source and principle of God's dealings with us. The special case of promises to the Jews, which seemed to clash with bringing all with no difference into the same standing before God, is treated in a special appendix.

It may facilitate our inquiries to give the division of the epistle into the parts of which it is naturally composed. The first seventeen verses are introductory, the last giving the thesis of the whole epistle. From verse 18 to the end of chapter 5:11 is one great division, where sins are treated of, and God's grace in respect of these sins. In this as a whole, Romans 1:18 to chapter 3:20 gives the full proof that all were under sin; and then the apostle returns to verse 17, and declares how the righteousness of God is now revealed, propitiation having been made through Christ's blood. Chapter 4 speaks of Christ's resurrection as sealing His work to the same purpose. But thus far imputing righteousness is not carried farther than forgiveness of sins. The first eleven verses of chapter 5 give the blessed result and effect of grace in our present standing under that grace.

123 Romans 5:12 begins a new subject - the old man, the flesh, sin in the flesh, what we are as of Adam (not what we have done, though these are the fruits and the proof of the other). Here our death with Christ comes in, and life in Him (not in Adam). It is deliverance, not forgiveness. This second blessing and our place in Christ and security through Him are stated in chapter 8. This gives occasion to bring the question of the law fully before us. It addresses itself to the child of Adam, but as such we have died in Christ, and thus it has lost its application to such.

Thus all have sinned, Jew and Gentile, and had the same fleshly nature. There was no difference; and if it was God's righteousness, it was as applicable to one as to the other. But then a difficulty arose. There were promises to Israel as well as law. What about them? Did not they on God's part make a difference? This is met in what I have called an appendix - Romans 9 - 11. From Romans 12 and on, we have exhortation founded on mercies previously treated of. The epistle to the Romans furnishes the eternal principles of God's relationship with man; the way in which, by means of Christ dead and risen, the believer is established in blessing; and the reconciling of these things with the speciality of the promises made to the Jews by Him whose gifts and calling are without repentance.

Romans 1.

I may now turn to the details; and first to the introductory verses, Romans 1:1-17. We must remember that the apostle had never been at Rome, and writes upon the ground of his universal mission to the Gentiles. Hence, while the personal salutations are very numerous, the epistle is very much of a treatise on the subject he refers to; what we may call the gospel fully reasoned out, the state of man, the place the law really held, and, as we have seen, the position the Jews, who had been nigh, had got into. He begins with his mission. He was separated to the gospel of God. He was an apostle by the calling of God.

124 Firstly, the Lord had personally called him, and given him his mission to the Gentiles; separating him out of the whole human race, Jew and Gentile, and connecting him with Himself in glory; Acts 26:17. "Delivering thee [taking thee away], from the people [the Jews], and from the Gentiles, to whom now I send thee." The Lord had appeared to him for the purpose of his being a witness of the glorified Lord Jesus. Hence we find him speaking of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4), and God who caused the light to shine out of darkness shining in his heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Hence, too, he says that if he had known Christ after the flesh - that is, in His earthly associations - as Messiah down here, as a Jew would expect Him, according to the word, he knew Him thus no more. The Man glorified, after having suffered death and accomplished redemption, was the Christ he knew. It was the beginning and head of the new creation - the glorified Man - the Lord who saved His people as being Himself. Still the administration of the mercy recognised the place God had given to the Jews. There was no difference; but it was to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Secondly, he was separated, actually, and sent forth to active service at Antioch by the Holy Spirit. "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." His mission he received directly from the Lord, revealed in glory. He was separated to the glory, to the Lord in it. His immediate separation to his actual work was by the Holy Ghost. He was separated to the glad tidings of God. This has a double character. It was concerning God's Son; but it was the accomplishment of promise on the one side; on the other, the Person of the Son of God designated in power through resurrection, the setting aside the effect of sin, not God's judgment of course, but that wherein the power of Satan reigned over man by sin. It is to be remarked here that the Person of the Son of God is that which is especially put forward here as the gospel to which he was separated. We shall find propitiation and righteousness fully stated, but first of all God's gospel is concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord - first, Seed of David according to the flesh; then Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection of the dead. That power, divine power, which raised Him* from the dead and proved Him Son of God, was manifested all through His life in the holiness which never allowed sin to enter for an instant. He was quickened by the Spirit (lit. in Spirit), but His holiness, separation to God, was by the Spirit also. Resurrection was the public demonstration that He was the Son of God with power, victory over the full wages of sin as seen in this world; but the opened eye would have seen the same power in the exclusion of sin itself in absolute and perfect holiness all His life through.

{*It is not necessarily His resurrection alone. It is abstract, but this was the first grand complete proof}

125 Thus accomplishment of promise and divine power over death were there, and the Son of God as Man in absolute holiness - our Lord Jesus Christ. They were God's glad tidings concerning His Son. Of His work, save in triumph over death, we have as yet nothing; but God has come in power and grace, where sin and death reigned. Holiness has been manifested in man in this world, and death, under which man lay, has been overcome. It is important to notice that, in the statement of the glad tidings of God, the Person of the Son is first of all brought out: His intervention, in power to deliver,* promise accomplished, but, above all, it is the Son of God. Grace has made Him a man, and resurrection has proved Him Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness. There is One revealed to us in perfect grace, but who in grace has a perfect claim over our souls.

{*In this it partakes of the nature of the everlasting gospel.}

Another thing we may remark in this, as will be further seen, is that it is what He is from God. God has accomplished His promise; God has brought in victory over death. It is all in the Person of the Son, a man; not what man is for God at all, save the Person of Christ Himself. We shall soon see that, as God's Son is revealed in man triumphant over death, God's righteousness is revealed too; then fully the need of man, and how it is met - fully met; but first, what God has Himself brought in and for Himself, for grace and glory, what has more the character of the everlasting gospel as to the power that is in it - the Person of the Son in the Man Jesus, and divine righteousness. This is the general aspect; man's responsibility and man's need will come after. But we must first have the thing as it is for God and before God, though all in grace to us.

126 But there is another point I must notice here, as it refers to the whole character of the epistle, which is more that of laying the foundation than of building the superstructure:* the testimony that Christ is Son of God is resurrection, not glory. The ascension, though assumed, of course, as is the church, is not mentioned, save in chapter 8:34, to bring in intercession. Ascension brought in the result in the counsels of God; but already in resurrection God had put His seal on Christ's Person and work. Redemption was accomplished; sin atoned for; death overcome; he who had the power of death brought to nothing in the stronghold of his power - all accomplished which made glory to be righteousness. Thus the whole case between man and God was met and established upon a new ground. The glories which result according to the counsels of God are not gone into. We shall see that our resurrection even with Christ is not spoken of; our death with Him is, because this was necessary to close the old evil, and bring us into a state capable of living with God as fully delivered. Christ's resurrection and our death with Him are necessary to make good our title, and close the old and evil state, and introduce what is essentially new. Our place in that remained yet to be entered into according to the counsels of God.**

{*The believer also is always seen alive on earth.}

{**Our resurrection with Christ looks at Him as come down in grace into our place where we are dead in sin. Our being then raised together with Him involves union with Him. This is not the subject of Romans, but individual justification. Christ is viewed as risen alone.}

The mission of the apostle was for obedience to the faith, the subjection of men's souls to the revelation of God's Son, the risen Man, the Lord Jesus - to the truth of God revealed in Him, and the grace which accompanied the truth; for both must be there that we may believe. Nor, indeed, can one be fully revealed without the others, for grace is part of truth where God is fully revealed; nor could grace come without the truth, for what would the grace be about, and how should God be revealed? But God is light. and God is love; and these, coming to us, are grace and truth. This obedience of faith was "amongst all nations," not of all nations. The grace and truth must go to men as such. God thus revealed could not be only to Jews: but the time was not come to subject all nations by power, but to call a people out of them - "to take out of them a people for his name." Among these the believers at Rome were the called of Jesus Christ. To such the apostle addressed himself at Rome. They were already there. God did not allow Christianity to be founded by an apostle at Rome. These believers were the beloved of God, and saints by His calling.

127 The apostle then enters into his own feelings as to, and interest in, them; and that connected with his universal commission to the Gentiles, in which the love of Christ wrought to make those the objects of his heart, and precious to him, whom he had not even seen. The apostolic spiritual power he would impart to them, but in unfeigned grace he would be comforted in their mutual faith. "Debtor to Greeks and barbarians" (for such is the place of love in power), he was ready to preach the glad tidings to those at Rome also. He was not ashamed of the glad tidings; they were "the power of God unto salvation"; simple words, but how much they contain! It is not God claiming from man; it is not man acting for God, or making out the means of meeting Him. But, God acting for man, it is power at work in man's favour; and this, not to help or plead merely, but to deliver from the state he was in - to save him.

Next, the way. It is such to every one that believed, Jew, or Greek; they wanted saving. God's power, there to save, took man up in his need and sin, not in his titles or claims, even if given of God, and applied to a lost Gentile as to a lost Jew. It was for "every one that believed" - the way of it was faith; the order of it recognised God's ways. It was "to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." But this did not alter its character; it was salvation to a sinful Jew, who had to come in in mercy, just like a Gentile, by faith in what was on God's part in grace towards him, though in the order of administration it might first be addressed to him.

Further, it is the power of God to salvation, because in it the righteousness of God is revealed on the principle of faith to faith. Nothing had to be done by man; nothing was required from man. God's righteousness, perfect and absolute - that on which He would bless without limit - was revealed for man. More He could not require; more, as to righteousness, He could not give; and there it was for man, and revealed, and thus God's power to save him. This took it clean out of man's doings for God; which I insist on, because it is the great principle of truth, it is God's doing for man. It is on the principle of faith that it might be by grace; man only believed through grace what was revealed. Hence the believer withal possessed it, and so Gentile or Jew. But here the object is its intrinsic nature. It was "God's righteousness"; it was revealed "on the principle of faith" (works do not make out God's righteousness, but man's), and hence "for faith." The just were to live by faith.

128 This closes the introductory verses. The Person of the Lord Jesus and the righteousness of God are the great thesis of the glad tidings of God. One revealed as the Deliverer, the Son of God, claimed the obedience of faith; the other, still on the principle of faith, revealed as the ground on which man could have a part in purposed blessing through grace. The apostle now turns to what made this righteousness of God necessary to us. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness." This is a most important principle. It is not governmental wrath, such as bringing the Assyrian against Israel, or leading them captive to Babylon - a thing of this world, while God was hidden still behind the veil. It tells us of the incompatibility of God's nature with evil. God's wrath was revealed against everything inconsistent with His nature - wrath from heaven against all ungodliness; and, where the truth was known, and men might seem to be nearer to God, as the Jews, if held in unrighteousness, wrath was against such as so held it too. Wrath against all ungodliness was revealed from heaven; Gentile, Jew, men in every condition, came under the judgment. It was not a hidden God dealing in earthly judgment, but God Himself fully revealed according to His own nature, abhorrent of evil, in necessary wrath against all evil, wherever it was met. His nature could admit no evil. Dispensational ways there might have been - government, patience. But now wrath was revealed from heaven against all evil, wherever it was found.

The apostle then shews on what ground the judgment went, as against all men: on the heathen, to the end of the chapter: on moralisers, in the beginning of Romans 2; and from Romans 2:17 on the Jew, which goes on to Romans 3:20. The ground of the condemnation of the heathen is creation testimony, and their not retaining God in their knowledge; for in Noah that knowledge was. The first ground is stated in verses 19, 20; the second in verse 21. They turned the glory of the incorruptible God into images of men, birds, beasts, and reptiles; and as they thus turned God's glory into dishonour, God gave them up to turn man's too, and they degraded themselves in vileness as they had degraded God in idolatry. Yet they knew the judgment of God.

129 And this made the moralisers, the Socrates, and the like, inexcusable; they did the things they judged; see chapter 2. But God's judgment is according to truth against those who commit such things. Doing them and judging others was not the way of escaping God's judgment; or, were they despising God's mercy leading them to repentance, and heaping up wrath for the day of judgment - of the revelation of God's righteous judgment? God always judges evil morally; but there is a day when that judgment will be revealed, and this dealing with evil take place in a manifest way, according to the nature of God. Judgment will be executed. We have seen this infinitely important principle in chapter 1:17; not dispensational government on those near or those far off, but God revealing His judgment of evil in man according to what He is. Hence the light of Christianity is thrown here on the grounds of judgment, though the light actually possessed is made to enter into the measure of retribution; but the nature, and, in judgment, the authority of God, rejects evil. Jew or Gentile, it is all alike. When He is revealed, evil is dealt with as evil. The special advantages of one may enter into the ground of judgment, and if they have sinned under law, they will be judged by law. But evil is evil, while God is God, be the evil in a Jew or a Gentile; nor is there respect of persons with Him.

But the revelation of God, which thus brings in the knowledge of judgment according to truth, necessarily supposes the truth there, and obedience to the truth became part of the moral testing of man, as well as law and natural conscience. Hence, in Romans 2:7-8, we have what Christianity has brought to light; verses 9, 10, tribulation and anguish are upon every soul of man that does evil, and glory, honour, and peace upon every soul of man that does good - to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

130 The object of the apostle here is evidently not to shew how a sinner could be justified; but that, though God might follow in His administration of blessing what He had accorded to the Jewish people, yet now that He had revealed Himself, He had to do with realities, and that a godly Gentile was more His delight than an ungodly Jew, whatever the privileges of the latter. The doer of the law would be justified, be he Jew or Gentile; not he who had and broke it. There was no respect of persons with God, and conscience might take notice of right and wrong where there was no law, and thus become a law to a man who had no law as given of God. So they that had sinned without law would perish without it. Here the discussion is not, by what power or grace a man would be led or enabled to walk conscientiously, but that reality of walk, and not privilege of position, was what God owned.

It is well to remark that there is no law written in the heart* of the Gentile - that is the new covenant - but the work which the law requires the conscience recognises as right or wrong. Conscience knows it is wrong to murder or steal, when no law is given. Man got the knowledge of good and evil by the fall, and it is of all importance to recognise the difference of this and law. Law imposes a rule by authority - here God's authority; conscience on the contrary takes notice of right and wrong in itself, as God does. "The man is become as one of us, knowing good and evil." That is, conscience takes notice of good and evil in itself, as good and as evil, without any law which prescribes or forbids it; and so far a man is a law to himself, that is, not having the thing prescribed to him, or forbidden, as a law does.

{*"Written" agrees with work, not with law; the Greek leaves no question as to this.}

It is well also to remark here that verses 13-15 are a parenthesis. The connection is, "judged by the law in the day." Remark here, also, on the side of man's liability as before of God's actings, it is not governmental judgment, the ways of God with men on earth, visiting, it is true, sins on a people or on a race with longsuffering and patience; but the secrets of men's hearts judged - all brought to light, strictly and rightly judged - according to the necessary requirements of God's nature, taking into account the advantages men have had; not governing in patience, but judging in righteousness, according to what is good and what is evil, as none can deny, and where none can escape. The secrets of men's hearts would be judged, and men come out such as they really were, however hidden from the eyes of men.

131 In Romans 2:17 the apostle begins definitely with a Jew, insisting on the same truth, but the converse of what he had said of the Gentile. A Jew who boasted of the law and broke it was as bad as he who had none; the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles through them. He only was a Jew who was so inwardly; whose heart was circumcised in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise was not of men, but of God.

We come now to a very important principle in the ways of God, the possession of privileges where there was no renewal of heart to profit by them, and whether this made such any better, more agreeable to God - for this the Jew pretended; chapter 3. The apostle's argument seemed to level all. It did morally before God, save as privileges added to responsibility; but he fully admitted the existence of very great privileges and advantages where God had placed them. If the circumcised were uncircumcision really unless they kept the law, what advantage had the Jew? Much every way. The apostle fully recognises their privileges, especially in having the scriptures, "the oracles of God"; and if some did not believe, their unbelief would not make the faith - that is, the faithfulness of God - of no effect. God would be true if every man were a liar. He would fulfil His word. But if His accomplishing it in spite of man's unfaithfulness only the more proved His faithfulness, so that He was the more glorified through man's unfaithfulness, this did not hinder His judging the evil: were it so, He could not judge the world at all. If man's unrighteousness made God's righteousness more conspicuous, why should God judge him for it? This is a general principle, but it has a special application to the Jews; for the more the heathen opposed and were jealous of them, and trampled them down, so much the more God's faithfulness shone out, and He could no more judge the Gentiles, the world, than the Jews. But it is a general principle that man's unrighteousness commending or proving God's righteousness did not make it unjust to judge.

The apostle returns to the form in which it applies to the Jews - that their falseness made God's faithfulness to His promises more glorious, so that he had not to find fault; nay, they might do evil that good might come, returning in this latter to the general principle; as, indeed, some charged the Christian with holding. As to such principle, the apostle does not condescend to reason, but simply says, "whose damnation is just." No, all our evil does commend this patient faithfulness of God to His promises, and to His goodness. Man would soon reject those who dealt with him as he does with God. But that does not hinder responsibility, and sin, and judgment.

132 Well, then, the Jews had advantages; were they, then, better than the Gentiles? In no way. The apostle had already proved both under sin. He then quotes, first from the Psalms, then from Isaiah, the plain testimony of scripture, denouncing, as wholly sinners, all they were addressed to. The Jew boasted these scriptures were for him, and for him alone. Well, says the apostle, we know that what the law says, it does say to those who are under it. Let us then hear its voice to such. This is what it says: "There is none righteous, no, not one." The Gentiles confessedly were sunk in all manner of vice, in corruption, and idolatry. The Jews were the privileged race, and the special privilege was that the oracles of God were committed to them. Well, the apostle owned that the law spoke to those under it - but it declared there was none righteous. The Jew was condemned by his own plea.

And now see what is the state of man, under the greatest advantages, possessing what God has to give, as the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son! None righteous; none that understandeth, no intelligence at all spiritually; none that seeketh after God, in will all wrong; none that doeth good, no, not one; evil, without exception, when tried. The full forms of evil in which this state develops itself are then gone into: amiable characters which some may have, as animals may; but a heart seeking God, or fearing God, not one. Every mouth was stopped, and all the world guilty before God: the Gentiles confessedly so - lawless and reprobate in mind, working uncleanliness with greediness; the Jew condemned out of his own mouth by that of which he boasted. So far from any being justified by the deeds of the law, law brought with it the knowledge of sin. Sin was everywhere - law the special conviction of it. This closes the apostle's proof of that state which gave occasion to the wrath of God being revealed from heaven, the proof reaching as a whole from Romans 1:19 to the end of chapter 3:20.

133 Then the apostle returns to his proper subject, stated in Romans 1:17 - the righteousness of God. Man clearly had none. He was proved, Jew and Gentile, all under sin; but now God's righteousness, entirely apart from law, was manifested. The law and the prophets bore testimony to it. This is the great leading point; God's righteousness is manifested. This is by the faith of Jesus Christ; such is the manner of its being set forth and received. It is towards all. Were it man's, it must be by the law, which is the perfect measure of that, and, consequently, only for the Jews, who alone had that law. But it is God's, and by faith, and so for all, and actually (since it was by faith of Jesus Christ) upon all those that believed. For there is no difference; all are alike, all under sin; but God's righteousness was by faith on every one who believed. The justification is free by God's grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

This gives the thesis of the doctrine of righteousness, as a whole, complete in itself. In chapter 1:17, God's righteousness, we are told, is revealed in the gospel. Now, in contrast with law, which was the way of man's righteousness; without law; Rom. 3:21, that is, having nothing to say to it (wholly apart from the law), we know the manner of this righteousness in its application - it is by faith of Jesus Christ to all, applicable and held out on the principle of faith to all, and upon all those that believe. All were alike under sin, proved so, the justification of all alike freely by God's grace, through redemption-that redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

We have then additional detail, and the manner of its application to the Old Testament saints and those since Christ. God, the apostle tells us, had set Christ forth as a propitiatory, a place of access on the ground of redemption and blood presented to God as the atonement or propitiation for sins. Now, as regards the Old Testament saints, this now proved God's righteousness in having borne with them, where they sinned. His forbearance had been shewn at the time; but where was the righteousness in thus passing over the sins of the Abrahams, and Samuels, and Davids, and the like? This was now shewn. It was in view of the propitiation to be wrought by Christ, ever present to God, on the ground of which He dealt as if it was already accomplished, so far as the forgiveness of sins went.

134 Then, as regards those subsequent to the work, God's full present justice was declared - His righteousness declared at this time; that through which He could be just and justify, yea, that in which He was manifested just, besides exalting Christ, is in justifying the believers in Christ Jesus. This was an immense truth. Forbearance had been before, righteousness in exercising it unrevealed. Now righteousness was revealed, God's righteousness, first in His exercise of that forbearance, justifying His remission of the sins committed before Christ, but further (righteousness, God's righteousness, being fully revealed), the ground of justifying those who believed in Jesus, God's righteousness in doing so was as clearly manifested as the ground on which it went was perfectly accomplished. God's righteousness was fully proved in setting Christ at His right hand, as we learn in John 16:10. He is gone up on high in virtue of having glorified God perfectly on the cross, and God's righteousness therein revealed and declared. In the part of Romans we are now occupied with, we have only the fact that God's righteousness is now declared as to remission of past sins, and justifying believers now, Christ being set forth as a mercy-seat through faith in His blood. The value of Christ's blood brings the witness of righteousness in remission of past sins, but it brings a known present justification of those who believe, maintaining fully the justice of God. He is just and the Justifier, not a condemner, of those that believe.

All boasting then on man's part is shut out, for it is God's work and God's grace by which man is justified (clearly not by a law of works, there would then be man's boasting), but by the law of faith which simply receives, through grace, the effect of another's work. We may see here that law is used for a regularly acting principle - the law of faith, the law of works. We shall find this again. Hence, as we cannot mingle the two principles of gaining a thing by working and receiving a thing by faith (and, indeed, another thing - God's righteousness, not man's), one of them excludes the other, and we conclude, not only that a man is justified by faith through Christ's blood by grace, but that it is without - wholly apart from, to the exclusion of - works of law. God is justifying sinners by His dealings for them, not man righteous by a law which he has kept. For all are under sin.

135 And is God only the God of a people, even of His people? Is He not God of all nations? Surely He is, and indeed now in grace, just as He is for the Jew, who needed it as much as the Gentile. For it is one and the same God who justifies the circumcision (who sought their own righteousness by law) on the principle of faith, freely by grace, and, if a Gentile had that faith, justified that Gentile by the faith that he had. This is the force of the words translated "by" and "through." "By" is on the principle of; "through" by means of, when one possessed it. The Jew sought righteousness on a wrong principle. The gospel revealed the true one - faith. If the Gentile had the faith, he had the justification which was given on that principle.

If then this justification was by faith to the exclusion of law, did it set aside the law? In no way. The law brought the conviction of sin, nay, brought the curse, from which he who was under it had to be delivered; and the justification of such an one, the deliverance of such an one from the curse by such a means as Christ's bearing it, gave the highest possible sanction to the law. That Christ should bear its curse established the authority of law as nothing else did. The apostle had just used it to bring the Jew fully under conviction, so that the blood of Christ, and grace, and redemption were needed; and the introduction of them as needed by the Jew, who was under the law, if it set aside all righteousness by law, recognised fully the authority of the law as bringing them under the transgression from which they had to be justified. The paying a debt recognises the debt, and the obligation which made it such, though (and in that in which) it puts an end to it. There is more than this in the law, it is true. I only use the image to shew that putting an end to anything may fully prove the obligation of it.

Righteousness by faith was on a principle incompatible with law. In one, God's work in grace justified freely; according to the other, man's work in righteousness made peace, redemption, and God's work unnecessary. Nor did obedience under law produce what grace did after all. It was not, if accomplished, God's righteousness, but man's. But redemption, and grace, and Christ's blood, effectual through faith, recognised the authority of law, and gave its sanction to it, by meeting in another way the sins and condemnation incurred under it. It went on a different principle, wholly incompatible with law as a way of righteousness; but it recognised the claim of righteousness made by the law as made by God, and, when man had failed, met that claim in grace. The two could not work together, for they contradicted each other in every point: one rested on grace, the other on work; one on God's work, the other on man's. One consequently gave man's righteousness if fulfilled, which it was not; the other, God's by a perfected work. But the grace that was incompatible with law owned and met the claim of law, in order to justify freely him who had failed under it.

136 But there was more in Israel's history than law. There were the Abrahams and Davids, promises, and divine faithfulness that owned the promises. What ground did they stand upon? What has Abraham found? Was he justified by works? If so, he has whereof to glory. But it is not so before God (proof before men, to make it good in testimony to them, there may have been and was), but before God he was counted righteous through faith. Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness. If a man works, reward is of debt, not grace; but to him that works not, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. This is established by the case of David. "Blessed is the man whose iniquity is forgiven, whose sin is covered; blessed the man to whom the Lord imputeth no sin." Note here that thus far the imputation of righteousness goes no farther than the forgiveness of sins. There is more farther on; but here that is all. A man is justified from what he is guilty of, from his sins, and so far accounted righteous. For such is the force of imputing righteousness. His faith is reckoned to him for righteousness. It is not put to him to account.* Abraham believed God, and was reckoned righteous because of his faith. It was not that his faith had so much intrinsic value, which was put to his account, as so much righteousness; but he was esteemed or reckoned righteous for his faith. God held him as a righteous man because of his faith. So David speaks of one accounted righteous without any works. No sin was imputed to him. He was accounted, held to be wholly clear of it before God, when it was forgiven and covered. The responsibility of man was fully met, and he looked on as clear from sin.

{*Another word is used for that, as in Romans 5:13, and in Philemon 18, "put that to my account." Here in Romans 4: (11 times), verses 3 to 24, it is to "esteem, reckon, count." See page 239.}

137 Was this only for the circumcision? Our thesis is that faith was counted for righteousness to Abraham. When? When he was circumcised or uncircumcised? Uncircumcised. There is thus, in no less an example than Abraham, an uncircumcised person justified by faith. Circumcision was only a seal of the righteousness which he had when uncircumcised; and thus he was the father of all that believe (even if not circumcised, as believing Gentiles), that they might be accounted righteous also through faith; and, further, the father of true separation to God (as I understand it, though the form of the sentence be somewhat strange), not only for circumcised Israel, but for whoever walked in the faith of Abraham-circumcision, not in the letter but in the spirit.

The apostle then develops the principles of the case of Abraham. The promise to Abraham to be the heir of the world was not through law, but through the righteousness of faith. If they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void. To make Israel as under the law exclusively heir destroyed the principle on which Abraham had the inheritance. He had it by faith, and not by any law at all. Promise is not law; and to found the inheritance on law, and give it to Israel because of the law, made the promise of none effect. Promise, and faith in it, went together. Law was man's work, and on God's part requirement from man, not promise to him. And indeed the law works wrath instead of giving an inheritance; for where no law is, there is no transgression, for there is nothing to transgress: working wrath and bringing in transgression is surely not promise. But the inheritance is of faith, not of law, that it might be by grace; for faith just believes in the grace shewn, and thus the promise is sure to all the seed, for grace can give it to a Gentile, and faith in a Gentile can receive it, not simply give it to the seed under the law, though faith there could receive it, but to everyone who had the faith of Abraham, who is the father, not of Jews only, but of us all (as it is written, "I have made thee a father of many nations") before God, the God whom he had believed.

But this introduces another principle. When Abraham received the promise, he was as good as dead. The God in whom he believed is a God above human failure and weakness, and calls things that are not as though they were. Abraham believed God in spite of his deadness and that of Sarah: it was a quasi-resurrection. This introduces yet another great and important principle. Grace on the part of God, and faith on the part of man, we have had, in connection with promise on the one hand, and the redemption that is in Christ on the other. Now power comes in - God's power; not a dealing with man according to any good or capacity that is in him, but God that raises the dead, and according to this power calls things that are not as though they were. He can make them to be as He calls them. This applies to Abraham's case, to the Gentiles, and, as to the power in its nature, Christ's resurrection.

138 Law does require power in man to fulfil it. God's raising the dead clearly required no power in the raised one; and things that are not have no capacity to become things that are. Abraham believed God, considered no circumstances which, as to man's weakness, made it impossible; because He who spoke in truth could do all things in power. This Abraham assumed. Hence, if God spoke, the thing was certain. No lack of power would make it fail; and this owning of what God was, this faith (which through grace justified God in His word, giving Him His true character) was imputed to him for righteousness. When man justifies God in His works and words and ways, not himself, God justifies him. Those ways are in Christ. But our faith, though in principle the same, has in one very important respect a different character from that of Abraham. He believed that God was able to perform what He had said. We believe that He has raised Christ from the dead. His work is an accomplished work. He was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.

But, note, the faith here spoken of is faith in Him who raised Christ. Righteousness is imputed to us as believing on Him who raised up Christ from the dead. So that we own not merely Christ's work, but God's acceptance of it, and God's power to quicken the dead; as John said, "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." God has in power come in, as satisfied, to raise up Christ from the state where our sins (He having taken them on Him through grace) had brought Him. Not to speak of His Person, God could not leave Him there, for He was satisfied as to the sins, and righteously raised Him from the dead in public testimony of it.

139 And now see how complete is the statement we have had as to our sins. We are justified by God's grace freely. We have redemption in Christ Jesus. We have His blood, a propitiatory through faith in it; God's righteousness in remission; justice in justifying the believer, Christ having been delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification, God Himself having raised Him from the dead. Thus all that concerns sins, guilt - what had to be answered for in the day of judgment - has been fully met; and forgiveness, justification, redemption clearly brought out in righteousness, and this by perfect grace; the whole work of Christ, as to that which had to be answered for, complete; God's seal put upon it in resurrection; grace in this respect complete (for it has much to give also); and we, believers, justified through faith in the sight of God. We shall see that another question arises. But as regards our sins, all we have done, what we should have had to answer for in the day of judgment, the question is completely settled. God has wrought His own work in grace; Christ, who was delivered for our offences, is raised from the dead; God has put His seal on the completion and efficacy of His work. It is in the God who has done so that we believe. His grace has justified us in righteousness.

There is a point here which it is well to note. We have in this part of the epistle no experience. Happy in forgiveness, as a result, no doubt we are; but it is not an internal process issuing in deliverance in the power of divine grace, but a complete work done, through which God's righteousness is declared, God's work meeting the sins by reason of which He has pronounced upon us as guilty - none righteous, no, not one - and proved us such. He has demonstrated all, Jew and Gentile, to be under sin, and justified freely by His grace. It is proved guilt, not experience; complete justification by Christ's being delivered for our offences, not what passes in our hearts. The experience of what is within, and the deliverance, comes afterwards in Romans 7 and 8.

This shews the completeness of this part of the epistle as to its proper subject, and how the gospel refers, first, to guilt and clearing from it - our justification from that guilt; not to our state or nature, though the fruits of the old man constitute that guilt. It shews, too, how a full free gospel can be preached without touching on our nature, and state by that; though a solid settled condition of soul cannot exist without the experience and deliverance of the subsequent part of the epistle. The natural man can understand forgiveness, the payment of a debt, a child about to be punished, what it is to be pardoned; but a soul under the exercises produced by the Spirit of God can alone understand what sin is within, and deliverance from its power. It is quite true that to have a real work, even as to forgiveness, there must be the conviction of guilt under our sins. Conscience must be reached, guilt must be owned; the statement of the epistle as to that guilt, that we are under sin, must find its personal application and echo in the conscience, our just condemnation endorsed by the conscience as to oneself; so that we should be conscious that we - I - have to be freely justified. But we can see that with the mere consciousness that we have sinned without any real sense of the existence of the old man, of our exclusion from God by it, forgiveness can be understood, nay, it can be supposed, though no real forgiveness is possessed, nor reconciliation effected. It is not insincerity, it is self-delusion; but it shews how the gospel of repentance as to sins of which we are guilty, and remission of these, may be preached without the experience of what we are in ourselves having been wrought in the soul. Genuine acknowledgment of our guilt in the conscience there must be, to have any reality of repentance or forgiveness, but no experimental knowledge of self. This may come before the knowledge of forgiveness, and will generally then be accompanied by great distress of soul, and forgiveness and permanent rest of conscience will come together. But the two things are clearly distinguished in the epistle, the experience of what we are, coming last; the testimony - God's testimony, proof, and judgment as to universal guilt, forgiveness, and justification, with its blessed results, through Christ's work, delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification - being complete at the end of Romans 5:11. Of the experience itself, and our state in the flesh through Adam's fall, we will speak when we come to the subsequent chapters. All I do now is to shew the distinction between the two.

140 But there is another point I would notice before I return to the course of the epistle's teaching. In the third chapter we find allusion to the mercy-seat; in the end of Romans 4 the history of the scape-goat, at least what answers to the two. Hence the real word in Romans 3:25 is mercy-seat, through faith in His blood. Hence past sins are referred to, and then, not as yet bearing of sins, but such a glorifying of God's character as revealed Him to be just and the justifier of them that believe in Jesus. And this is the testimony to the whole world. Christ is set forth as a mercy-seat through faith in His blood. That first goat was the Lord's lot. All that God is has been perfectly glorified in Christ's death; His majesty, truth, justice as against sin, love (John 13:31-32; 17:4); without saying who, or how many would be saved. Hence the message of grace and beseeching can go forth to all the world. God is satisfied, glorified, in that blood He has under His eye, and says "Come." Here it is used for forgiveness, and that God might be just in justifying. In the end of chapter 4 it is, He was delivered for our offences; the offences of those who can speak in faith and say "ours"; "it was not written on his (Abraham's) account alone … but ours also." And here it speaks consequently of positive offences, for which Christ was delivered up (as the high priest confessed the sins of the people on the head of the scape-goat); for bearing sins, "our sins, in his own body on the tree," is a different thing from glorifying God in His own character, in that He died where sin had come in. Both had their place and special importance; one for God's glory, and that grace might be free in righteousness; the other for clearing us from sin, as needed.

141 I return now to the general subject defined in the first eleven verses of chapter 5 - the full statement of the effect of this redeeming grace of Christ's being delivered for our offences, according to the infinite grace of God. We have two distinct statements in this epistle of the blessedness of believers - the passage which occupies us, Romans 5:1-11, and Romans 8. The former gives us what God Himself is for us in grace, with its blessed consequences; the other, the believer's place in Christ before God, and what God is for him there. The latter presents the believer more fully and completely before God, his evil nature as detected by law, and deliverance from it having been discussed; but the former furnishes more largely and fully what God is in Himself in grace. One is what God is to the sinner, and hence more what God is in Himself, with its consequences in grace; the other, the believer in Christ before God; an advance as to the saint, and most specially blessed in shewing what God is for him, but not so fully what He is in Himself through Christ to men. This is more richly unfolded, consequently, in chapter 5:1-11. We have the whole rich blessing that flows from Christ, from peace with God to joying in Him; but it is love commended to us while we were sinners (and for that very reason more what it is in God Himself), not a man in Christ before God. Of this we shall see more when we come to chapter 8.

142 Thus much we must already remark that down to the end of chapter 5:11, the teaching of the blessed Spirit refers to sins; from verse 12 to the end of chapter 8, the question is as to deliverance from sin. The former speaks of Christ delivered for our offences; the latter of our being crucified with Him, and so having died to sin. But our present theme is that He was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification. We have been also fully taught that it is received by faith as that which is done; that God has accepted it as a satisfying propitiation, proved in raising Christ from the dead - raised consequently for our justification according to God's righteousness. We have had propitiation through faith in His blood in Romans 3 - God's righteousness fully declared, just and the justifier of him that believes; and now, in Romans 4, Christ's resurrection for our justification when He had been delivered for our offences. This work, done outside us, our only part in which was our sins (and thank God that we who believe can say they were there), unless we add the hatred that with wicked hands crucified and slew Him, the fruit of God's sovereign and free grace, and Christ being delivered for our offences, has God's seal upon it in resurrection as complete and satisfying (much more, though we go no farther here) as it is the fruit of God's free grace and love to us.

Hence, not only God's righteousness is declared, "just and the justifier of him that believes," but, being justified by faith, we have peace with God. All that was between us through our sins cleared away, and God having sealed it to us by the resurrection of Christ, we, knowing it by faith, have peace with God. This is a very full expression. Peace with God is with God such as He is. If there was a thing that disturbed His holy nature morally, or if our conscience had got anything on it, we had not peace with God; but there is not. Our justification is absolutely by God Himself, known by faith; so that no spot, no cloud remains. We have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. He has made it, and it is perfect. But by Him also we have access into the grace or favour in which we stand - our present condition; a favour better than life - divine favour. When I look up to God I find, as my present relationship with Him, nothing but divine favour resting upon me. The light of His countenance is unclouded. With the love wherewith He loves Jesus He loves me, and in that I rest. The hope that is before me - such is the worth of Christ's sacrifice - is the glory of God. I triumph in that hope. Into that glory He will bring me. The hope of it brightens with heavenly light the path in which I walk.

143 This completes what I receive as the effect of the blessed work of Christ and the grace that gave Him, and to me a part in that work by faith; but it is not all. Twice the blessed Spirit adds, "Not only so." I have indeed, in these three points, peace as to all that could make me guilty and take away peace, present favour, and the hope of glory; all that is given me, right into glory, fully stated. Past, present, and future-an eternal future - all perfectly settled in grace; but there is the way there, and more than that, the Giver as well as the gift to think of. All that concerns me as to what grace gives is complete; but I have much to learn, much to be corrected, perhaps much to be subdued, much that tends to hinder my seeing the hope clearly, and fixing my heart upon it. I find tribulations on the way, and I rejoice and glory in them also. They work patience, a subduing of the will, and the quietness of spirit which that gives.

This leads me to fuller knowledge of myself, separation of heart from the world through which I pass, a clearer consciousness (my portion being in another) of what God is for me by the way; as Israel learnt in the desert what they were, and the patient goodness of God all along the road. They were humbled and proved to know what was in their heart, but manna never failed, even if they loathed it; their clothes waxed not old, nor did their foot swell those forty years. If, through unbelief they turned back from the mount of the Amorites, and must stay in the wilderness some thirty-eight years more, their gracious God turned back and went with them. But this by analogy; for here the apostle does not speak of failure, but of tribulation and its profit - that in which he rejoiced and gloried. In failure he could not. There is such an exercise of heart as both renders us more capable of spiritually discerning what we hope, and weans from the world which tends to shut it out of sight. Our hope is clearer, and we more mature in the consciousness that our whole hope and home is where the new man finds its portion.

144 But there is another very important element in this, besides the subjective fruit in the state of our soul. I have both the key to all these tribulations and the power which enables me to bear them, and to know their meaning; to connect them with a blessedness which lifts us above them all, and turns us to the grace that uses them, all to give deeper and eternal blessing - the grace of Him who withdraws not His eyes from the righteous, who deigns to watch over us in detail, to follow our characters and state, and to make everything work together for our good. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. That which is in God - what He is in His nature - is shed abroad, is not only known, but pervades in its power our hearts. It is God's love, but in our hearts, and this by His own presence, here noticed for the first time - the Holy Ghost given to us. The cleansing and justifying being complete and absolute, every obstacle thus removed, the Holy Spirit can come and dwell in us, and bring in what God is in His nature into our hearts. The clearance of evil made way for this, and now the presence of God, such as He is (and He is love), fills the heart.

But the introduction of the Holy Ghost in this place is a truth of the utmost importance. The baptising with the Holy Ghost was one of the two great acts ascribed to the Lord in John 1. This is the practical application of it consequent on the value and efficacy of that blood by which the sins of those that believe have been put away. So, in the Old Testament, the leper was washed with water, then sprinkled with blood, and then anointed with oil. So we are washed with the word, sprinkled with Christ's blood, and then anointed with the Holy Ghost. It is not being born again. That applies to the Holy Ghost's work in unbelievers: it is after we believe that we are sealed. Farther, this sealing is, I think, always associated with forgiveness. "Repent and be baptised," says Peter, "for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." In Acts 10:43, it is when Peter is announcing the remission of sins that the Holy Ghost comes down on believing Cornelius. And here in Romans the mention of the Holy Ghost comes in when forgiveness and justification have been made known, as in Romans 4, and indeed in Romans 3, and before the experience of what we are, and our being in Christ, is entered upon.

145 This has its practical importance for souls. The ground of acceptance is clear; the fulness of God's grace to us in Christ, and the hope of glory connected with it, is made sure to us by His death. We are forgiven and sealed. The grace presented to us here is not a matter of what is commonly called experience, but God's perfect love to us when we were sinners, and had no experience of good, at any rate, at all. It depends on Christ's work for us, the value of which is on us before God. Being thus accepted, we are sealed. The completeness of this as to salvation, and joy in it, confidence in God, it is of moment to see. Experience has its place, and an important one, but God's love in salvation, and judgment of Christ's work, is of all importance. Some Christians would oblige souls to have the experience of Romans 7, in order to the salvation of Romans 5 being true. It may come before. When it does, and acceptance in Christ is seen in simplicity, all the subsequent Christian life is one of assured grace, save cases of special discipline. But the acceptance of chapter 5 may be known by itself first (but then justification as forgiveness, applies to what we have done, and is not our being the righteousness of God in Christ); but if so, self-knowledge and our place in Christ must be learned afterwards.

Remark, farther, how, while the enjoyment of the love is by the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, the knowledge and proof of it is in a work done outside of us, and wholly independent of us, indeed for us, when in an evil and wholly incapable state. "For," continues the apostle, "when we were yet without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly." Ungodly, and without strength - such was our state when the glorious work of God's love was accomplished for us. But this gives us the certainty that the purity and perfectness of God's own work and nature were in it. It suits us, is without a motive for it in us save our ruined state. God's love as of Himself alone is its source and efficient cause. It is what is His own. Perhaps for a righteous man some might die - for some good one - dare to die; but God commends His love (that which is proper and peculiar to Himself) in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

We now get a principle of grace full of blessing for us. The Holy Ghost, who reveals the truth, does not reason from what we are to what God will be. Such is ever the reasoning of awakened man, and naturally so, because for conscience and judgment it must be so; only there is defective sense of sin, and a vague thought of mercy which enfeebles the effect of what sense of it there is. But even in the repentant soul this reasoning takes place till we have really met God, and known His grace; as the prodigal talked of being made a hired servant when he had not met his father. The Holy Ghost makes us see clearly that we are lost on the ground of judgment; but He reasons from what God is and has done to the consequence for us. He reasons according to the grace which He reveals. So here (v. 9, 10), much more being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. If when enemies we were reconciled by His death, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. The Spirit thus reasons from what God is in grace to its consequences with us, not from our state to its consequences with God. Wherever this last is going on, the soul is yet in a legal state. There is either carelessness and self-delusion, or a mixture of law and grace. In the Holy Ghost's teaching there is no mixture; but either clear condemnation on the ground of responsibility, or salvation and blessing from grace through righteousness.

146 This closes the first addition to the full statement of salvation found in verses 1, 2. Hope does not make ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given to us; and then we reason from divine grace to its blessed consequences. But this is not yet all - "Not only so"; thus, knowing God, we glory in God Himself, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the reconciliation. We rejoice not only in the salvation received, but in the God who is made known to us in it; as He has been revealed through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, we joy in God. Blessed truth! It is natural we should rejoice in the salvation given, in the hope of glory, but it is more yet to have learned to joy in God Himself, and to know Him so as to do it. This closes the first part of the epistle. Justified, in God's favour as a present place, and having glory in hope, we have the love of God, a key to all we find on the way, and joy in Him whom we have known through this great salvation.

But in this mere Judaism disappears, and the apostle consequently takes a wider range of thought, and views the whole state of man through the sin of him who stood first as man before God, and involved his race in the consequences of his defection from God. Each one has added his own sins, and that constitutes personal responsibility: but there is the universal state of all. Adam involved his whole race in sin and death, and in alienation and exclusion from God; only each added his own part; and thus (the reasoning passes from verses 12-18) by one offence, though all were not condemned because of grace, yet the bearing and tendency of the act was universal on the whole race; so by one righteousness was it for justification of life. All were not justified, any more than all condemned; but the bearing of the act in each case was universal, and had the whole race for its sphere, as that on which it bore, to which it applied. It is not upon all, but the bearing and direction of the act in each case. It is the same word as "unto" all, in contrast with "upon" all that believe, in Romans 3:22. Adam's work bore on all, and so did Christ's work too.

147 Then, in a parenthesis from verse 13 to the end of verse 17, we have the place the law holds in connection with this point, besides the act of the two great heads of ruin and blessing. Sin was in the world from Adam to Moses, when no law was yet there; but specific acts could not be put to charge where there was no law forbidding them. The word "imputed" is another word here from the general word for "imputing righteousness," and means putting a specific thing to the account of anyone; (which the other does not), being found, as already stated, in Philemon 18. Where no law forbade an act, you could not charge it as a transgression. Yet death reigned - the effect and witness of sin being there - over those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression (that is, who had not violated an actual commandment, as Adam did). This is a quotation from Hosea 6:7, where the same principle as to Adam and Moses is stated. They (Israel), like Adam, have transgressed the covenant. Adam had a formal law; a formal law was given under Moses. But between the two, where there was no formal law, sin and death were found. The ruin was universal; ought not the grace and bearing of Christ's act to be so? That is the force of Romans 5:15. But what was the bearing of the law on this? That, when grace came in, it had a multitude of offences to deal with, as well as in general sin and alienation from God; such is verse 16. Then the superiority of grace is farther shewn in verse 17; that (whereas by one man's offence death reigned by one) not life should reign, but they who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness would reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.

148 Thus, in every way, "much more" could be said of grace than of sin. It might have a multitude of offences to deal with, but it must at least be as large in its bearing (and as to those to whom it was addressed) as the sin of man. It was also by One Man, of whom the first man had been but the image; the first, the responsible man; the second, the Man who was in God's counsels before the world began. Farther, if it was applied, it was not merely meeting the case, and life reigning where sin and death had, but those who received abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness would themselves reign in life. This is the bearing of the parenthesis of verses 13-17.

In verse 18 we have the universality of the bearing of the act of Adam and of the blessed Lord; in verse 19 the positive efficiency or effect on those who were actually connected with these two heads. "Many" is "the many" - the mass of persons actually connected with each of these heads. The sin of Adam did not confine itself, in its effect, to him. By the disobedience of one, the many connected with him were constituted sinners. By the obedience of Christ, the many connected with Him were constituted righteous. This is not responsibility and imputation (there every one is dealt with according to his own works, to which judgment and propitiation apply), but a state into which the many were brought by the head to which they belonged, in contrast with personal responsibility. One man's - Adam's - disobedience involved those connected with him in the condition of being sinners; the obedience of One - Christ - constituted those associated with Him righteous, putting them in that state and condition before God. It is in contrast with individual responsibility, though each individual connected with the head is placed in the state consequent on what characterised his conduct. The "many," in their condition, were such before God in consequence of the conduct that characterised the head. It was not what met the actual conduct of the individuals, but a state of the individuals, which was the result of the characteristic action of the one who stood as the representative and head of his race before God. It was a state dependent on the conduct of the head. This is the great point here. The Lord and Adam, by their act and conduct, bring those connected with them into a certain condition.

149 The law came in by the bye in contrast with a state into which the respective heads brought those connected with them. What is important to see in this passage is, that the state was the consequence of the conduct of the head, not the conduct of the members met by that of the head. Judgment refers to works; this is a state the result of Adam's disobedience or Christ's obedience. The law came in between the two with a special object; it came in that the offence might abound. This is not the state constituted, but the act of the person under the law which forbade their acts, in contrast with that which affected the universal race by one man's disobedience, and all believers in Christ by His obedience. The law came in by the bye between the two heads of opposite states, the disobedient and the obedient Man, and came in with this intent - to make positive "offence" (not sin) abound. God can do nothing that sin may abound; but, where sin already is, He can send a special prohibition of it, a law, which brings it out in a fuller character - that it is not only evil but a defiance of His authority, an offence and a transgression; a law which the perverse will of man uses as a provocation to offending. Such was the law.

Then the apostle changes his term to go back to his main theme, saying (not where "the offence," but) where "sin" abounded, wherever a child of Adam was, law or no law, wherever the evil was, grace (God coming in in paramount goodness) did much more abound. Sin had reigned unto death, as the present proof of it in all men. Had righteousness, the natural correlative of sin, reigned, it must have been condemnation; but God is love, rich in mercy, and so grace reigned, the sovereign title of God in goodness; but then there must be righteousness, and so it is: grace reigns through righteousness. Not man's indeed, or it would not be grace; but through the obedience of One, the many are constituted righteous, and grace reigns through righteousness (it is the abstract statement of the nature of what is opposed to sin's reigning) unto eternal life, (as sin to death), through Jesus Christ our Lord. A full and clear statement of the ground and way of our salvation! It is remarkable how, in a few words, scripture brings out the whole truth. In these few words the whole source, and way, and end of our salvation are completely and clearly stated.