1. And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
1. Et vos, quum essetis mortui delictis et peccatis vestris;
2. Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
2. In quibus aliquando ambulastis secundum saeculum mundi hujus, secundum principem potestatis aeris, spiritus scilicet, qui nunc operatur in filiis inobedientiae;
3. Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
3. Inter quos nos quoque omnes aliquando conversati sumus in concupiscentiis carnis nostrae, facientes quae carni libebant, et menti; et eramus natura filii irae, sicut et caeteri.
"The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." (John 5:25)
The Papists, who are eager to seize every opportunity of undervaluing the grace of God, say, that while we are out of Christ, we are half dead. But we are not at liberty to set aside the declarations of our Lord and of the Apostle Paul, that, while we remain in Adam, we are entirely devoid of life; and that regeneration is a new life of the soul, by which it rises from the dead. Some kind of life, I acknowledge, does remain in us, while we are still at a distance from Christ; for unbelief does not altogether destroy the outward senses, or the will, or the other faculties of the soul. But what has this to do with the kingdom of God? What has it to do with a happy life, so long as every sentiment of the mind, and every act of the will, is death? Let this, then, be held as a fixed principle, that the union of our soul with God is the true and only life; and that out of Christ we are altogether dead, because sin, the cause of death, reigns in us.
In accordance with the practice of the inspired writers, the Devil is mentioned in the singular number. As the children of God have one head, so have the wicked; for each of the classes forms a distinct body. By assigning to him the dominion over all wicked beings, ungodliness is represented as an unbroken mass. As to his attributing to the devil power over the air, that will be considered when we come to the sixth chapter. At present, we shall merely advert to the strange absurdity of the Manicheans, in endeavoring to prove from this passage the existence of two principles, as if Satan could do anything without the Divine permission. Paul does not allow him the highest authority, which belongs to the will of God alone, but merely a tyranny which God permits him to exercise. What is Satan but God's executioner to punish man's ingratitude? This is implied in Paul's language, when he represents the success of Satan as confined to unbelievers; for the children of God are thus exempted from his power. If this be true, it follows that Satan does nothing but under the control of a superior: and that he is not (
We may now draw from it also this inference, that ungodly men have no excuse in being driven by Satan to commit all sorts of crimes. Whence comes it that they are subject to his tyranny, but because they are rebels against God? If none are the slaves of Satan, but those who have renounced the service, and refuse to yield to the authority, of God, let them blame themselves, for having so cruel a master.
"Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." (Philippians 3:6.)
"Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblamably, we behaved ourselves among you that believe."
(1 Thessalonians 2:10)
I reply, the statement applies to all who have not been regenerated by the Spirit of Christ. However praiseworthy, in appearance, the life of some may be, because their lusts do not break out in the sight of men, there is nothing pure or holy which does not proceed from the fountain of all purity.
This is a remarkable passage, in opposition to the views of the Pelagians, and of all who deny original sin. What dwells naturally in all is certainly original; but Paul declares that we are all naturally liable to condemnation; therefore sin dwells naturally in us, for God does not condemn the innocent. Pelagians were wont to object, that sin spread from Adam to the whole human race, not by descent, but by imitation. But Paul affirms that we are born with sin, as serpents bring their venom from the womb. Others who think that it is not in reality sin, are not less at variance with Paul's language; for where condemnation is, there must unquestionably be sin. It is not with blameless men, but with sin, that God is offended. Nor is it wonderful that the depravity which we inherit from our parents is reckoned as sin before God; for the seeds of sin, before they have been openly displayed, are perceived and condemned.
But one question here arises. Why does Paul represent the Jews, equally with others, as subject to wrath and curse, while they were the blessed seed? I answer, they have a common nature. Jews differ from Gentiles in nothing but this, that, through the grace of the promise, God delivers them from destruction; but that is a remedy which came after the disease. Another question is, since God is the Author of nature, how comes it that no blame attaches to God, if we are lost by nature? I answer, there is a twofold nature: the one was produced by God, and the other is the corruption of it. This condemnation therefore which Paul mentions does not proceed from God, but from a depraved nature: for we are not born such as Adam was at first created, we are not
"wholly a right seed, but are turned into the degenerate"
offspring of a degenerate and sinful man.
2 Classical writers employ the same metaphor, to denote not spiritual death, with which they were unacquainted, but the absence of moral principle, or utter ignorance of right and wrong. Thus Epictetus says, nekro<v me<n oJ paideuth<v nekroi< d j uJmei~v o[te cortasqh~te sh>meron, kaqh~sqe klai>ontev peri< th~v au]rion po>qen fa>ghte. "The instructor is dead, and you are dead. When you are satiated to-day, you sit down and weep about to-morrow, what you shall have to eat." -- Ed.
3 "The Greek word aijw>n, and likewise the Latin word
4 "Fu>siv, 'nature,' in such an idiom, signifies what is essential as opposed to what is accidental, what is innate in contrast with what is acquired. This is its general sense, whatever its specific application. Thus, Farma>kou fu>siv is the nature of a drug, its color, growth, and potency. Fu>siv tou~ Aijgu>ptou is the nature of the land of Egypt -- a phrase referring to no artificial peculiarity, but to results which follow from its physical conformation." -- Eadie.