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Romans 5:6-9

6. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

6. Christus enim, quum adhuc essemus infirmi secundum rationem Temporis, pro impiis mortuus est:

7. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

7. Vix sane pro justo quis moriatur; nam pro bono forsan aliquis etiam mori audeat.

8. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

8. Confirmat autem erga nos charitatem Deus quod peccatores quum Adhuc essemus, Christus pro nobis mortuus est:

9. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

9. Multo igitur magis, justificati nunc per sanguinem ejus, servabimur per ipsum ab ira.

6. For Christ, etc. I ventured not in my version to allow myself so much liberty as to give this rendering, “In the time in which we were weak;” and yet I prefer this sense. An argument begins here, which is from the greater to the less, and which he afterwards pursues more at large: and though he has not woven the thread of his discourse so very distinctly, yet its irregular structure does not disturb the meaning. “If Christ,” he says, “had mercy on the ungodly, if he reconciled enemies to his Father, if he has done this by the virtue of his death, much more easily will he save them when justified, and keep those restored to favor in the possession of it, especially when the influence of his life is added to the virtue of his death.” 158158     On the argument of this verse, and on what follows to the tenth verse, Professor Stuart makes this remark, — “The passage before us seems to be more direct, in respect to the perseverance of the saints, than almost any other passage in the Scriptures which I can find. The sentiment here is not dependent on the form of a particular expression, (as it appears to be in some other passages); but it is fundamentally connected with the very nature of the argument.” — Ed. The time of weakness some consider to be that, when Christ first began to be manifested to the world, and they think that those are called weak, who were like children under the tuition of the law. I apply the expression to every one of us, and I regard that time to be meant, which precedes the reconciliation of each one with God. For as we are all born the children of wrath, so we are kept under that curse until we become partakers of Christ. And he calls those weak, who have nothing in themselves but what is sinful; for he calls the same immediately afterwards ungodly. And it is nothing new, that weakness should be taken in this sense. He calls, in 1 Corinthians 12:22, the covered parts of the body weak; and, in 2 Corinthians 10:10, he designates his own bodily presence weak, because it had no dignity. And this meaning will soon again occur. When, therefore, we were weak, that is, when we were in no way worthy or fit that God should look on us, at this very time Christ died for the ungodly: for the beginning of religion is faith, from which they were all alienated, for whom Christ died. And this also is true as to the ancient fathers, who obtained righteousness before he died; for they derived this benefit from his future death. 159159     Others, as well as Calvin, such as Chrysostom and Erasmus, have connected κατὰ καιρὸν with the preceding, and not with the following words. Pareus, who inclined to the same view, gives this explanation, — “He distinguishes the former from the present state, as though he said, ‘We who are now justified by faith were formerly ungodly.’” Chrysostom refers to the time of the law, and considers the weakness here to be that of man under the law. This gives an emphatic meaning to “weak,” which otherwise it seems not to have, and is countenanced by what is said in Romans 8:3, where the law is said to be weak, but weak on account of the weakness of the flesh. At the same time it must be observed, that most commentators, like Beza, connect these words, κατὰ καιρὸν, with the death of Christ, as having taken place “in due time,” appointed by God, and pre-signified by the prophets, according to what is said in Galatians 4:4. — Ed.

7. For a just man, etc. The meaning of the passage has constrained me to render the particle γὰρ as an affirmative or declarative rather than as a causative. The import of the sentence is this, “Most rare, indeed, is such an example to be found among men, that one dies for a just man, though this may sometimes happen: but let this be granted, yet for an ungodly man none will be found willing to die: this is what Christ has done.” 160160     Calvin has omitted what is said of the “good” man; for whom, it is said, one would perhaps even dare to die. The “just,” δίκαιος, is he who acts according to what justice requires, and according to what the Rabbins say, “What is mine is mine, and what is thine is thine,” שלי שלי ושלך שלך: but the “good,” ἀγαθὸς, is the kind, the benevolent, the beneficient, called טוב in Hebrew; who is described by Cicero as one who does good to those to whom he can, (vir bonus est is, qui prodest quibus potest.)
   There is here an evident contrast between these words and those employed in Romans 5:6 and 8, to designate the character of those for whom Christ died. The just, δίκαιος, is the opposite of the “ungodly,” ἀσέβης; who, by not worshipping and honoring God, is guilty of injustice of the highest kind, and in this sense of being unjust it is found in Romans 4:5, where God is said to “justify the ungodly,” that is, him who is unjust by withholding from God the homage which rightly belongs to him. Phavorinus gives ἀθέμιτος, unlawful, unjust, as one of its meanings. — What forms a contrast with “good” is sinner, ἁμαρτωλός, which often means wicked, mischievous, one given to vice and the doing of evil. Suidas describes ἁμαρτωλοί as those who determine to live in transgression, οἱ παρανομίᾳ συζὢν προαιρούμενοι; and Schleusner gives “scelestus — wicked,” “flagitiosus — full of mischief,” as being sometimes its meaning.

   But the description goes farther, for in Romans 5:10 the word “enemies ἐχθροὶ,” is introduced in order to complete the character of those for whom Christ died. They were not only “ungodly,” and therefore unjust towards God, and “wicked,” given to all evils; but also “enemies,” entertaining hatred to God, and carrying on war, as it were, against him. — Ed.
Thus it is an illustration, derived from a comparison; for such an example of kindness, as Christ has exhibited towards us, does not exist among men.

8. But God confirms, etc. The verb, συνίστησι, has various meanings; that which is most suitable to this place is that of confirming; for it was not the Apostle’s object to excite our gratitude, but to strengthen the trust and confidence of our souls. He then confirms, that is, exhibits his love to us as most certain and complete, inasmuch as for the sake of the ungodly he spared not Christ his own Son. In this, indeed, his love appears, that being not moved by love on our part, he of his own good will first loved us, as John tells us. (1 John 3:16.) — Those are here called sinners, (as in many other places,) who are wholly vicious and given up to sin, according to what is said in John 9:31, “God hears not sinners,” that is, men abandoned and altogether wicked. The woman called “a sinner,” was one of a shameful character. (Luke 7:37.) And this meaning appears more evident from the contrast which immediately follows, — for being now justified through his blood: for since he sets the two in opposition, the one to the other, and calls those justified who are delivered from the guilt of sin, it necessarily follows that those are sinners who, for their evil deeds, are condemned. 161161     The meaning given to συνίστησι is not peculiar. It is used with an accusative in two senses, — to recommend, to commend, to praise, as in Romans 16:1; 2 Corinthians 3:1; 2 Corinthians 5:12; 2 Corinthians 10:12, 18; and also, to prove, to demonstrate, to shew, to render manifest or certain, and thus to confirm, as in Romans 3:5; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 7:11; Galatians 2:18; Schleusner refers to this passage as an instance of the latter meaning. That God proved, or rendered manifest, or conspicuously shewed, his love, seems to be the most suitable idea, as the proof or the evidence is stated in the words which follow. The Syriac version gives the sense of shewing or proving. Vatablus has “proves” or verifies; Grotius, “renders conspicuous,” Beza, “commends,” as our version and Macknight; Doddridge, “recommends;” Hodge, “renders conspicuous.” — Ed. The import of the whole is, — since Christ has attained righteousness for sinners by his death, much more shall he protect them, being now justified, from destruction. And in the last clause he applies to his own doctrine the comparison between the less and the greater: for it would not have been enough for salvation to have been once procured for us, were not Christ to render it safe and secure to the end. And this is what the Apostle now maintains; so that we ought not to fear, that Christ will cut off the current of his favor while we are in the middle of our course: for inasmuch as he has reconciled us to the Father, our condition is such, that he purposes more efficaciously to put forth and daily to increase his favor towards us.


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