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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 5 - Verse 15

Verse 15. But not as the offence. This is the first point of contrast between the effect of the sin of Adam and of the work of Christ. The word offence means, properly, a fall, where we stumble over anything lying in our way. It then means sin in general, or crime, Mt 6:14,15; 18:35.

Here it means the fall, or first sin of Adam. We use the word fall as applied to Adam, to denote his first offence, as being that act by which he fell from an elevated state of obedience and happiness into one of sin and condemnation.

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

The free gift. The favour, benefit, or good bestowed gratuitously on us. It refers to the favours bestowed in the gospel by Christ. These are free; i.e. without merit on our part, and bestowed on the undeserving.

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

Through the offence of one. By the fall of one. This simply concedes the fact that it is so. The apostle does not attempt an explanation of the mode or manner in which it happened. He neither says that it is by imputation, nor by inherent depravity, nor by imitation. Whichever of these modes may be the proper one of accounting for the fact, it is certain that the apostle states neither. His object was not to explain the manner in which it was done, but to argue from the acknowledged existence of the fact. All that is certainly established from this passage is, that as a certain fact resulting from the transgression of Adam, "many" were "dead." This simple fact is all that can be proved from this passage. Whether it is to be explained by the doctrine of imputation, is to be a subject of inquiry independent of this passage. Nor have we a right to assume that this teaches the doctrine of the imputation of the sin of Adam to his posterity;—for

(1.) the apostle says nothing of it.

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

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

Many Greek, The many. Evidently meaning all; the whole race; Jews and Gentiles. That it means all here is proved in Ro 5:18. If the inquiry be, why the apostle used the word "many" rather than all, we may reply, that the design was to express an antithesis, or contrast to the cause—one offence. One stands opposed to many, rather than to all.

Be dead. See Barnes "Ro 5:12".

The race is under the dark and gloomy reign of death. This is a simple fact which the apostle assumes, and which no man can deny.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(4.) He died for all the race, Heb 2:9; 2 Co 5:14,15; 1 Jo 2:2.

Thus his death, in its adaptation to a great and glorious result, was as extensive as the ruins of the fall.

(5.) The offer of salvation is made to all, Re 22:17; Joh 7:37 Mt 11:28,29; Mr 16:15.

Thus his grace has extended unto the many— to all the race. Provision has been made to meet the evils of the fall; a provision as extensive in its applicability as was the ruin.

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

{w} "grace of God" Eph 2:8 {x} "abounded unto many" Isa 53:11; Mt 20:28; 26:28; 1 Jo 2:2

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