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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Romans 5



Other Authors
Verse 1

Romans 5:1. δικαιωθέντες takes up emphatically the δικαίωσιν of Romans 4:25 : Christ’s death and resurrection have not been in vain: there are those who have actually been justified in consequence. Having, therefore, been justified (the Apostle says), εἰρήνην ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν θεόν. The MSS. evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of ἔχωμεν, so much so that W. and H. notice no other reading, and Tischdf. says “ ἔχωμεν cannot be rejected unless it is altogether inappropriate, and inappropriate it seemingly is not”. But this last statement is at least open to dispute. There is no indication that the Apostle has finished his dogmatic exposition, and is proceeding to exhortation. To read ἔχωμεν, and then to take καυχώμεθα as subjunctive both in Romans 5:2 and Romans 5:3 (as the R.V.), is not only awkward, but inconsistent with οὐ μόνον δὲ, Romans 5:3. If the hortative purpose dominated the passage throughout, the Apostle must have written μὴ: see Gifford, p. 122. It is better (reading ἔχωμεν) to take καυχώμεθα in Romans 5:2 with διʼ οὗ, and co-ordinate it with τὴν προσαγωγήν: “through whom we have had our access, and rejoice, etc”. Then the οὐ μόνον is in place. But the uninterrupted series of indicatives afterwards, the inappropriateness of the verb ἔχειν to express “let us realise, let us make our own,” the strong tendency to give a paraenetic turn to a passage often read in church, the natural emphasis on εἰρήνη, and the logic of the situation, are all in favour of ἔχομεν, which is accordingly adopted by Meyer, Weiss, Lipsius, Godet and others, in spite of the MSS., see critical note. The justified have peace with God: i.e., His wrath (Romans 1:18) no longer threatens them; they are accepted in Christ. It is not a change in their feelings which is indicated, but a change in God’s relation to them.

Verses 1-11

Romans 5:1-11. The blessings of Justification. The first section of the epistle (chap. Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20) has proved man’s need of the righteousness of God; the second (chap. Romans 3:21-30) has shown how that righteousness comes, and how it is appropriated; the third (chap. Romans 3:31 to Romans 4:25) has shown, by the example of Abraham, and the testimony of David, that it does not upset, but establishes the spiritual order revealed in the O.T. The Apostle now, like David, enlarges on the felicity of the justified, and especially on their assurance of God’s love and of future blessedness. We may describe the contents of Romans 5:1-11 in the words which he himself applies (Romans 4:6) to the 32nd psalm: λέγει τὸν μακαρισμὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου θεὸς λογίζεται δικαιοσύνην χωρὶς ἔργων.

Verse 2

Romans 5:2. διʼ οὗ καὶ: through whom also. To the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ corresponds this other fact, that through Him we have had (and have) our access into this grace, etc. προσαγωγὴ has a certain touch of formality. Christ has “introduced” us to our standing as Christians: cf. Ephesians 2:18, 1 Peter 3:18. τῇ πίστει: by the faith referred to in Romans 5:1. Not to be construed with εἰς τὴν χάριν ταύτην: which would be without analogy in the N.T. The grace is substantially one with justification: it is the new spiritual atmosphere in which the believer lives as reconciled to God. καυχώμεθα, which always implies the expression of feeling, is to be co-ordinated with ἔχομεν. ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ: on the basis of hope in the glory of God, i.e., of partaking in the glory of the heavenly kingdom. For ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι, cf. Romans 4:18 : the construction is not elsewhere found with καυχᾶσθαι.

Verse 3

Romans 5:3. οὐ μόνον δὲ ἀλλὰ καὶ καυχώμεθα: and not only (do we glory on that footing), but we also glory in tribulations. Cf. James 1:2 ff. ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν does not simply mean “when we are in tribulations,” but also “because we are”: the tribulations being the ground of the glorying: see Romans 2:17; Romans 2:23, Romans 5:11, 1 Corinthians 3:21, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Galatians 6:14.

Verse 4

Romans 5:4. ὑπομονὴν κατεργάζεται: has as its fruit, or effect, endurance. ὑπομονὴ has more of the sense of bravery and effort than the English “patience”: it is not so passive. δὲ ὑπομονὴ δοκιμήν: endurance produces approvedness—its result is a spiritual state which has shown itself proof under trial. Cf. James 1:12 ( δόκιμος γενόμενος = when he has shown himself proof). Perhaps the best English equivalent of δοκιμή would be character. This in its turn results again in hope: the experience of what God can do, or rather of what He does, for the justified amid the tribulations of this life, animates into new vigour the hope with which the life of faith begins.

Verse 5

Romans 5:5. δὲ ἐλπὶδ οὐ καταισχύνει: and hope, i.e., the hope which has not been extinguished, but confirmed under trial, does not put to shame. Psalms 22:6. Spes erit res (Bengel). Here the aurea catena comes to an end, and the Apostle points to that on which it is ultimately dependent. All these Christian experiences and hopes rest upon an assurance of the love of God. ὅτι ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ κ. τ. λ. That the love of God to us is meant, not our love to Him, is obvious from Romans 5:6 and the whole connection: it is the evidence of God’s love to us which the Apostle proceeds to set forth. ἐκκέχυται ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν (cf. Joel 3:1; Joel 2:12, LXX, Acts 10:45): has been poured out in, and still floods, our hearts. διὰ πνεύματος ἁγίου τοῦ δοθέντος ἡμῖν: the aorist τοῦ δοθέντος can hardly refer to Pentecost, in which case ἡμῖν would express the consciousness of the Christian community: the spirit was given to Christians in virtue of their faith (Galatians 3:2), and normally on occasion of their baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13, Acts 19:1 ff.): and it is this experience, possibly this event, to which the participle definitely refers. What the spirit, given (in baptism) to faith, does, is to flood the heart with God’s love, and with the assurance of it.

Verse 6

Romans 5:6. The reading εἴ γε is well supported, and yields a good sense (“so surely as”: Evans), though the suggestion is made in W. and H. that it may be a primitive error for εἴ περ (see note on Romans 3:30). The assurance we have of the love of God is no doubt conditioned, but the condition may be expressed with the utmost force, as it is with εἴ γε, for there is no doubt that what it puts as a hypothesis has actually taken place, viz., Christ’s death for the ungodly. Although he says εἴ γε, the objective fact which follows is in no sense open to question: it is to the Apostle the first of certainties. Cf. the use of εἴ γε in Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 4:21, and Ellicott’s note on the former. ἀσθενῶν: the weakness of men who had not yet received the Spirit is conceived as appealing to the love of God. ἔτι goes with ὄντων ἡμ. ἀσθενῶν: the persons concerned were no longer weak, when Paul wrote, but strong in their new relation to God. κατὰ καιρὸν has been taken with ὄντῶν . . ἔτι: “while we were yet without strength, as the pre-Christian era implied or required”: but this meaning is remote, and must have been more clearly suggested. The analogy of Galatians 4:4, Ephesians 1:10, supports the ordinary rendering, “in due time,” i.e., at the time determined by the Providence of God and the history of man as the proper time, Christ died. ὑπέρ: in the interest of, not equivalent to ἀντί, instead of: whether the interest of the ungodly is secured by the fact that Christ’s death has a substitutionary character, or in some other way, is a question which ὑπέρ does not touch.

Verse 7

Romans 5:7. Christ’s death for the ungodly assures us of God’s love; for the utmost that human love will do is far less. ὑπὲρ δικαίου: for a righteous man. Some make both δικαίου and τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ neuter: some who take δικαίου as masculine take τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ as neuter (so Weiss and Godet—“pour un juste, pour le bien”): but as Jowett says, the notion of dying for an abstract idea is entirely unlike the N.T., or the age in which the N.T. was written, while the opposition to Christ’s dying for sinful persons requires that persons should be in question here also. The absence of the article with δικαίου corresponds to the virtually negative character of the clause: it is inserted before ἀγαθοῦ because the exceptional case is definitely conceived as happening. ἀποθανεῖται, gnomic; see Burton, § 69. Unless ἀγαθὸς is meant to suggest a certain advance upon δίκαιος, it is impossible to see in what respect the second clause adds anything to the first. Of course the words are broadly synonymous, so that often they are both applied to the same person or thing (Luke 23:50, Romans 7:12); still there is a difference, and it answers to their application here; it is difficult to die for a just man, it has been found possible (one may venture to affirm) to die for a good man. The difference is like that between “just” and “good” in English: the latter is the more generous and inspiring type of character. Cf. the Gnostic contrast between the “just” God of the O.T. and the “good” God of the N.T., and the passages quoted in Cremer, s.v ἀγαθός. καὶ τολμᾷ: even prevails upon himself, wins it from himself.

Verse 8

Romans 5:8. How greatly is this utmost love of man surpassed by the love of God. He commends, or rather makes good, presents in its true and unmistakable character (for συνίστησιν, cf. Romans 3:5, 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Galatians 2:18), His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, etc. ἑαυτοῦ is an emphatic His: His, not as opposed to Christ’s (as some have strangely taken it), but as opposed to anything that we can point to as love among men: His spontaneous and characteristic love. ἔτι ἁμαρτωλῶν ὄντων ἡμῶν: they are no longer such, but justified, and it is on this the next step in the argument depends.

Verse 9

Romans 5:9 f. πολλῷ οὖν μᾶλλον: The argument is from the greater to the less. The supreme difficulty to be overcome in the relations of man and God is the initial one: How can God demonstrate His love to the sinner, and bestow on him a Divine righteousness? In comparison with this, everything else is easy. Now the Apostle has already shown (Romans 3:21-30) how the Gospel meets this difficulty: we obtain the righteousness required by believing in Jesus, whom God has set forth as a propitiation through faith in His blood. If such grace was shown us then, when we were in sin, much more, justified as we have now been by His blood, shall we be saved from wrath through Him. ἀπὸ τῆς ὀργῆς: the wrath to come: see note on Romans 1:18. This deliverance from wrath does not exhaust Paul’s conception of the future (see Romans 5:2), but it is an important aspect of it, and implies the rest. Romans 5:10 rather repeats, than grounds anew, the argument of Romans 5:9. εἰ γὰρ ἐχθροὶ ὄντες: this is practically equivalent to ἔτι ἁμαρτωλῶν ὄντων ἡμῶν. The state of sin was that in which we were ἐχθροί, and the whole connection of ideas in the passage requires us to give ἐχθροί the passive meaning which it undoubtedly has in Romans 11:28, where it is opposed to ἀγαπητοί. We were in a real sense objects of the Divine hostility. As sinners, we lay under the condemnation of God, and His wrath hung over us. This was the situation which had to be faced: Was there love in God equal to it? Yes, when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son. κατηλλάγημεν is a real passive: “we” are the objects, not the subjects, of the reconciliation: the subject, is God, 2 Corinthians 5:19-21. Compare Romans 5:11 : τὴν καταλλαγὴν ἐλάβομεν. To represent κατηλλάγημεν by an active form, e.g., “we laid aside our hostility to God,” or by what is virtually one, e.g., “we were won to lay aside our hostility,” is to miss the point of the whole passage. Paul is demonstrating the love of God, and he can only do it by pointing to what God has done, not to what we have done. That we on our part are hostile to God before the reconciliation, and that we afterwards lay aside our enmity, is no doubt true; but here it is entirely irrelevant. The Apostle’s thought is simply this: “if, when we lay under the Divine condemnation, the work of our reconciliation to God was achieved by Him through the death of His Son, much more shall the love which wrought so incredibly for us in our extremity carry out our salvation to the end”. The subjective side of the truth is here completely, and intentionally, left out of sight; the laying aside of our hostility adds nothing to God’s love, throws no light upon it; hence in an exposition of the love of God it can be ignored. To say that the reconciliation is “mutual,” is true in point of fact; it is true, also, to all the suggestions of the English word; but it is not true to the meaning of κατηλλάγημεν, nor to the argument of this passage, which does not prove anything about the Christian, but exhibits the love of God at its height in the Cross, and argues from that to what are comparatively smaller demonstrations of that love. ἐν τῇ ζωῇ αὐτοῦ: the ἐν is instrumental: cf. Romans 5:9 ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ. The Living Lord, in virtue of His life, will save us to the uttermost. Cf. John 14:19.

Verse 11

Romans 5:11. καυχώμενοι is the best attested reading, but hard to construe. It is awkward (with Meyer) to supply καταλλαγέντες with οὐ μόνον δὲ, and retain σωθησόμεθα as the principal verb: and not only (as reconciled shall we be saved), but also rejoicing, etc. There is no proportion between the things thus co-ordinated, and it is better to assume an inexact construction, and regard καυχώμενοι as adding an independent idea which would have been more properly expressed by the indicative ( καυχώμεθα). But see Winer, 441. The Christian glories in God; for though “boasting is excluded” from the true religion (Romans 3:27), yet to make one’s boast in God is the perfection of that religion. Yet the believer could not thus glory, but for the Lord Jesus Christ; it is in Him, “clothed in the Gospel,” that he obtains that knowledge of God’s character which enables him to exult. διʼ οὗ νῦν τὴν καταλλαγὴν ἐλάβομεν. Nothing could show more unmistakably that the καταλλαγὴ is not a change in our disposition toward God, but a change in His attitude toward us. We do not give it (by laying aside enmity, distrust, or fear); we receive it, by believing in Christ Jesus, whom God has set forth as a propitiation through faith in His blood. We take it as God’s unspeakable gift. Cf. 2 Maccabees 5:20. καταλειφθεὶς ἐν τῇ τοῦ παντοκράτορος ὀργῇ πάλιν ἐν τῇ τοῦ μεγάλου δεσπότου καταλλαγῇ μετὰ πάσης δόξης ἐπανωρθώθη. For an examination of the Pauline idea of reconciliation, see especially Schmiedel on 2 Corinthians 5:21, Excursus.

Verse 12

Romans 5:12. διὰ τοῦτο refers to that whole conception of Christ’s relation to the human race which is expounded in chaps. Romans 3:21 to Romans 5:11. But as this is summed up in Romans 5:1-11, and even in the last words of Romans 5:11 (through Him we received the reconciliation) the grammatical reference may be to these words only. ὥσπερ: the sentence beginning thus is not finished; cf. Matthew 25:14. There is a virtual apodosis in the last clause of Romans 5:14 : ὅς ἐστιν τύπος τοῦ μέλλοντος; the natural conclusion would have been, “so also by one man righteousness entered into the world, and life by righteousness”. Cf. Winer, p. 712 f. By the entrance of sin into the world is not meant that sin began to be, but that sin as a power entered into that sphere in which man lives. Sin, by Divine appointment, brought death in its train, also as an objective power; the two things were inseparably connected, and consequently death extended over all men (for διῆλθεν, cf. Ps. 87:17, Ezekiel 5:17) ἐφʼ πάντες ἥμαρτον. The connection of sin and death was a commonplace of Jewish teaching, resting apparently on a literal interpretation of Genesis 3 Cf. Sap. Romans 2:23 f. θεὸς ἔκτισεν τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐπʼ ἀφθαρσίᾳφθόνῳ δὲ διαβόλου θάνατος εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον. Cf. also Sirach 25:24, Romans 6:23, 1 Corinthians 15:56. Paul no doubt uses death to convey various shades of meaning in different places, but he does not explicitly distinguish different senses of the word; and it is probably misleading rather than helpful to say that in one sentence (here, for example) “physical” death is meant, and in another (chap. Romans 7:24, e.g.) “spiritual” death. The analysis is foreign to his mode of thinking. All that “death” conveys to the mind entered into the world through sin. The words ἐφʼ πάντες ἡμαρτον, in which the πάντες resumes πάντας of the preceding clause, give the explanation of the universality of death: it rests upon the universality of sin. ἐφʼ means propterea quod as in 2 Corinthians 5:4 and perhaps in Philippians 3:12. Winer, 491. But in what sense is the universality of sin to be understood? In other words, what precisely is meant by πάντες ἥμαρτον? Many interpreters take the aorist rigorously, and render: because all sinned, i.e., in the sin of Adam. Omnes peccarunt, Adamo peccante (Bengel). This is supported by an appeal to 2 Corinthians 5:14, εἷς ὑπὲρ πάντων ἀπέθανεν· ἄρα οἱ πάντες ἀπέθανον: the death of one was the death of all; so here, the sin of one was the sin of all. It seems to me a final objection to this (grammatically quite sound) interpretation, that it really makes the words ἐφʼ πάντες ἥμαρτον meaningless. They are evidently meant to explain how the death which came into the world through Adam’s sin obtained its universal sway, and the reason is that the sin of which death is the consequence was also universally prevalent. The sense in which this was so has been already proved in chap. 3, and the aorist is therefore to be taken as in Romans 3:23 : see note there. Because all men were, in point of fact, sinners, the death which is inseparable from sin extended over all. To drag in the case of infants to refute this; on the ground that πάντες ἥμαρτον does not apply to them (unless in the sense that they sinned in Adam) is to misconceive the situation: to Paul’s mind the world consists of persons capable of sinning and of being saved. The case of those in whom the moral consciousness, or indeed any consciousness whatever, has not yet awakened, is simply to be disregarded. We know, and can know, nothing about it. Nothing has been more pernicious in theology than the determination to define sin in such a way that in all its damning import the definition should be applicable to “infants”; it is to this we owe the moral atrocities that have disfigured most creeds, and in great part the idea of baptismal regeneration, which is an irrational unethical miracle, invented fry men to get over a puzzle of their own making.

Verses 12-21

Romans 5:12-21. The treatment of the righteousness of God, as a Divine gift to sinners in Jesus Christ, is now complete, and the Apostle might have passed on to his treatment of the new life (chaps. 6–8). But he introduces at this point a digression in which a comparison—which in most points is rather a contrast—is made between Adam and Christ. Up to this point he has spoken of Christ alone, and the truth of what he has said rests upon its own evidence; it is not affected in the least by any difficulty we may have in adapting what he says of Adam to our knowledge or ignorance of human origins. The general truth he teaches here is that there is a real unity of the human race, on the one hand in sin and death, on the other in righteousness and life; in the former aspect the race is summed up in Adam; in the latter, in Christ. It is a distinction, apparently, between the two, that the unity in Adam is natural, having a physical basis in the organic connection of all men through all generations; whereas the unity in Christ is spiritual, being dependent upon faith. Yet this distinction is not specially in view in the passage, which rather treats Adam and Christ in an objective way, the transition (morally) from Adam’s doom to that of man being only mediated by the words πάντες ἥμαρτον in Romans 5:12, and the connection between Christ and the new humanity by οἱ τὴν περισσείαν τῆς χάριτος λαμβάνοντες in vet. 17.

Verse 13

Romans 5:13 f. These two verses are rather obscure, but must be intended ( γὰρ) to prove what has been asserted in Romans 5:12. ἄχρι γὰρ νόμου = ἀπὸ ἀδὰμ μέχρι ΄ωυσέως, Romans 5:14, the law meant being the Mosaic. The sin which was in the world before the law is not the guilt of Adam’s fall imputed to the race as fallen in him, but the actual sin which individuals had committed. Now if law has no existence, sin is not imputed. Cf. Romans 4:15. The natural inference would seem to be that the sins committed during this period could not be punished. But what was the case? The very opposite of this. Death reigned all through this period. This unrestrained tyranny of death (observe the emphatic position of ἐβασίλευσεν) over persons whose sins cannot be imputed to them, seems at variance with the explanation just adopted of πάντες ἥμαρτον. Indeed Meyer and others use it to refute that explanation. The reign of death, apart from imputable individual sin, implies, they argue, a corresponding objective reign of sin, apart from individual acts: in other words, justifies the interpretation of ἐφʼ πάντες ἥμαρτον according to which all men sinned in Adam’s sin, and so (and only so) became subject to death. But the empirical meaning of ἥμαρτον is decidedly to be preferred, and we must rather fill out the argument thus: “all sinned. For there was sin in the world before Moses; and though sin is not imputed where there is no law, and though therefore no particular penalty—death or another—could be expected for the sins here in question, yet all that time death reigned, for in the act of Adam sin and death had been inseparably and for ever conjoined.” καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς μὴ ἁμαρτήσαντας ἐπὶ τῷ ὁμοιώματι κ. τ. λ.—even over those who did not sin after the likeness of Adam’s transgression. For ἐπὶ, cf. Winer, p. 492. This describes not some, but all of those who lived during the period from Adam to Moses. None of them had like Adam violated an express prohibition sanctioned by the death penalty. Yet they all died, for they all sinned, and in their first father sin and death had been indissolubly united. And this Adam is τύπος τοῦ μέλλοντος sc. ἀδάμ. In the coming Adam and his relations to the race there will be something on the same pattern as this. 1 Corinthians 10:6; 1 Corinthians 10:11, Hebrews 9:14, 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:49. Parallels of this sort between Adam and the Messiah are common in Rabbinical writings: e.g., Schöttgen quotes Neve Schalom, f. 160–2. “Quemadmodum homo primus fuit unus in peccato, sic Messias erit postremus, ad auferendum peccatum penitus;” and 9, 9 has “Adamus postremus est Messias”. Cf. Delitzsch: Brief an die Römer, p. 82 f. The extent to which the thoughts of this passage on sin and death, and on the consequences of Adam’s sin to his descendants, can be traced in Jewish writers, is not quite clear. As a rule (see above on Romans 5:12) they admit the dependence of death on sin, though Schöttgen quotes a Rabbi Samuel ben David as saying, “Etiamsi Adamus primus non peccasset, tamen mors fuisset”. On the unity and solidarity of the race in sin and its consequences, they are not perfectly explicit. Weber (Die Lehren des Talmud, p. 217) gives the following summary: “There is an inherited guilt, but not an inherited sin; the fall of Adam has brought death upon the whole race, not however sinfulness in the sense of a necessity to commit sin; sin is the result of each individual’s decision; it is, as far as experience goes, universal, yet in itself even after the Fall not absolutely necessary”. This seems to agree very closely with the Apostle’s teaching as interpreted above. It is the appeal to experience in Paul ( πάντες ἥμαρτον), crossing with a transcendent view of the unity of the race in Adam, which gives rise to all the difficulties of interpretation; but without this appeal to experience (which many like Bengel, Meyer and Gifford reject) the whole passage would hang in the air, unreal. There must be something which involves the individual in Adam’s fate; that something comes into view in πάντες ἥμαρτον, and there only; and without it our interest dies. A sin which we commit in Adam (and which never becomes ours otherwise) is a mere fancy to which one has nothing serious to say.

Verse 15

Romans 5:15. At this point the parallel of Adam and Christ becomes a contrast: not as the παράπτωμα (the word implies the Fall), so also is the χάρισμα (the gift which is freely provided for sinners in the Gospel, i.e., a Divine righteousness and life). οἱ πολλοὶ means “all,” but presents the “all” as a great number. πολλῷ μᾶλλον: the idea underlying the inference is that God delights in mercy; if under His administration one man’s offence could have such far-reaching consequences, much more reasonably may we feel sure of the universal influence of one Man’s righteous achievement. This idea is the keynote of the whole chapter: see Romans 5:9-10; Romans 5:17. δωρεὰ ἐν χάριτι is to be construed together: to repeat the article before ἐν χάριτι is not essential, and δωρεὰ is awkward standing alone. God’s χάρις is shown in the gift of His Son, Christ’s in His undertaking in obedience to the Father the painful work of our salvation. εἰς τοὺς πολλοὺς like οἱ πολλοὶ is not opposed to “all,” but to “one”: it is indeed equivalent to “all,” and signifies that the “all” are not few. The world is the subject of redemption; if the race suffered through the first Adam, much more may be argue that what has been done by the Second will benefit the race. ἐπερίσσευσεν: the word is prompted by Paul’s own experience: the blessedness of the Christian life far outwent the misery of the life under condemnation.

Verse 16

Romans 5:16. A fresh point of contrast. That which God bestows (for δώρημα, see Mayor on James 1:17) is not as through one that sinned: the analogy with Adam breaks down here. For the Divine judgment ( κρίμα neutral) starting from one (person) resulted in condemnation (for all); whereas the free gift, starting from many offences (which appealed to the mercy of God), has resulted in a sentence of justification (for all). This abstract way of looking at the matter disregards what the Apostle insists on elsewhere, that this “sentence of justification” only takes effect for the individual on the condition of faith. The ἐκ πολλῶν παραπτωμάτων in this verse is a decisive argument for the meaning given above to πάντες ἥμαρτον: redemption is not inspired merely by the fall of the race in Adam, but by its actual and multiplied offences, and this is its glory. ἐξ ἑνὸς: ἑνὸς is masculine, resuming the ἑνὸς ἁμαρτήσαντος of the previous clause; not neuter, with παραπτώματος anticipated from the following clause.

Verse 17

Romans 5:17. This verse confirms the preceding. The argument is the same in kind as in Romans 5:15. The effects of the Fall are indubitable: still less open to doubt are the effects of the work of Christ. With οἱ τὴν περισσείαν τῆς χάριτος καὶ [ τῆς δωρεᾶς] τῆς δικαιοσύνης λαμβάνοντες we again touch experience, and an empirical condition is attached to the abstract universality suggested by Romans 5:12. The abundance of the grace and of (the gift which consists in) righteousness has to be received by faith. But when by faith a connection is formed with Christ, the consequences of that connection, as more agreeable to what we know of God’s nature, can be more surely counted upon than the consequences of our natural connection with Adam. Part of the contrast is marked by the change from “death reigned” to “we shall reign in life,” not “life shall reign in or over us”. The future in βασιλεύσουσιν is no doubt logical, but it refers nevertheless to the consummation of redemption in the Messianic kingdom in the world to come. Cf. Romans 8:17; Romans 8:21, Colossians 3:3 f., 2 Timothy 2:12.

Verse 18

Romans 5:18. With ἄρα οὖν (cf. Romans 7:3; Romans 7:25, and often in Paul) the conclusion of the argument is introduced. It is simplest to take ἑνὸς in both clauses as neuter. “As through one offence the result for all men was condemnation, so also through one righteous act the result for all men is justification of life.” The result in both cases is mediated; in the former, by men’s actual sin; in the latter, by their faith in Christ. It has been questioned whether δικαίωμα can mean a “righteous act,”—that which Christ achieved in His death, conceived as one thing commanding the approval of God. This sense seems to be required by the contrast with παράπτωμα, but Meyer and others argue that, as in Romans 5:16, the meaning must be “a sentence of justification”. “Through one justifying sentence (pronounced over the world because of Christ’s death) the result for all men is justification of life.” But this justifying sentence in vacuo is alien to the realism of Paul’s thinking, and no strain is put upon δικαίωμα (especially when we observe its correspondence with παράπτωμα) in making it signify Christ’s work as a thing in which righteousness is, so to speak, embodied. Lightfoot (Notes on Epistles of St. Paul, p. 292) adopts this meaning, “a righteous deed,” and quotes Arist., Rhet., i., 13, τὰ ἀδικήματα πάντα καὶ τὰ δικαιώματα, and Etk. Nic., v., 7 (10): καλεῖται δὲ μᾶλλον δικαιοπράγημα τὸ κοινόν: δικαίωμα δὲ τὸ ἐπανόρθωμα τοῦ ἀδικήματος. This sense of an act by which an injustice is rectified is exactly suitable here. Through this the result for all men is δικαίωσις ζωῆς: for the genitive, see Winer, p. 235. Simcox, Language of the N.T., 85. When God justifies the sinner, he enters into and inherits life. But Lightfoot makes it gen appos.

Verse 19

Romans 5:19. The sense of this verse has been determined by what precedes. The γὰρ connects it closely with the last words of Romans 5:18 : “justification of life; for, as through, etc.”. ἁμαρτωλοὶ κατεστάθησαν: “were constituted sinners”. For the word κατεστ. cf. James 4:4, 2 Peter 1:8. It has the same ambiguity as the English word “constituted” (S. and H.); but we cannot say, from the word itself, whether the many constituted sinners, through the one person’s disobedience, are so constituted immediately and unconditionally, or mediately through their own sin (to be traced back, of course, to him); this last, as has been argued above, is the Apostle’s meaning. οὕτως καὶ διὰ τῆς ὑπακοῆς τοῦ ἑνός: the application of τῆς ὑπακοῆς has been disputed. By some (Hofmann, Lechler) it is taken to cover the whole life and work of Jesus conceived as the carrying out of the Father’s will: cf. Philippians 2:8. By others (Meyer) it is limited to Christ’s death as the one great act of obedience on which the possibility of justification depended: cf. chap. Romans 3:25, Romans 5:9. Both ideas are Pauline, but the last seems most congruous to the context and the contrast which pervades it. δίκαιοι κατασταθήσονται: “shall be constituted righteous”; the futureshows again that Paul is dealing with experience, or at least with possible experience; the logic which finds the key to the passage in Bengel’s formula, Omnes peccarunt Adamo peccante, would have written here also δίκαιοι κατεστάθησαν. It is because Paul conceives of this justification as conditioned in the case of each of the πολλοί by faith, and as in process of taking place in one after another that he uses the future. A reference to the Judgment Day (Meyer) is forced: it is not then, but when they believe in Christ, that men are constituted δίκαιοι.

Verse 20

Romans 5:20 f. “The comparison between Adam and Christ is closed. But in the middle, between the two, stood the law” (Meyer). Paul must refer to it in such a way as to indicate the place it holds in the order of Providence, and especially to show that it does not frustrate, but further, the end contemplated in, the work of Christ. παρεισῆλθεν: see Romans 5:12 above. Sin entered into the world; the Law entered into the situation thus created as an accessory or subordinate thing; it has not the decisive signficance in history which the objective power of sin has. Words in which the same prepositions have a similar force are παρεισάγω, 2 Peter 2:1; παρεισδύνω, Judges 1:4; παρεισφέρω, 2 Peter 1:5 : cf. Galatians 2:4. There is often in such words, though not necessarily, the idea of stealth or secrecy: we might render “the law slipped in”. ἵνα πλεονάσῃ τὸ παράπτωμα: the purpose expressed by ἵνα is God’s: Winer, p. 575. The offence is multiplied because the law, encountering the flesh, evokes its natural antagonism to God, and so stimulates it into disobedience. Cf. Galatians 3:19 ff., and the development of this idea in chap. Romans 7:7 ff. As the offence multiplied, the need of redemption, and the sense of that need were intensified. οὗ δὲ ἐπλεόνασεν ἁμαρτία: ἁμαρτία seems used here, not παράπτωμα, because more proper to express the sum total of evil, made up of repeated acts of disobedience to the law. “Sin” bulked larger, as “offence” was added to “offence”. οὗ might seem to refer to Israel only, for it was there that the law had its seat; but there is something analogous to this law and its effects everywhere; and everywhere as the need of redemption becomes more pressing grace rises in higher power to meet it. ὑπερεπερίσσευσεν: “the ἐπλεόνασεν had to be surpassed” (Meyer). Cf. 2 Corinthians 7:4. Paul is excessively fond of compounds with ὑπέρ. The purpose of this abounding manifestation of grace is, “that as sin reigned in death, so also should grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”. ἐν τῷ θανάτῳ: it is more natural to oppose this to ζωὴ αἰώνιος, and regard death as “a province which sin had won, and in which it exercised its dominion” (Gifford), than to make it parallel (with Meyer) to διὰ δικαιοσύνης, and render “in virtue of death” (dat instr.). Grace has not yet attained to its full sovereignty; it comes to this sovereignty as it imparts to men the gift of God’s righteousness ( διὰ δικαιοσύνης); its goal, its limit which is yet no limit, is eternal life. Some, however, construe εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον with διὰ δικαιοσύνης: through a righteousness which ends in eternal life: cf. εἰς δικαίωσιν ζωῆς, Romans 5:18. διὰ . χ. τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν: this full rhetorical close has almost the value of a doxology.


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Romans 5:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

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