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Results of Justification

 5

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.


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1. Being then justified, etc. The Apostle begins to illustrate by the effects, what he has hitherto said of the righteousness of faith: and hence the whole of this chapter is taken up with amplifications, which are no less calculated to explain than to confirm. He had said before, that faith is abolished, if righteousness is sought by works; and in this case perpetual inquietude would disturb miserable souls, as they can find nothing substantial in themselves: but he teaches us now, that they are rendered quiet and tranquil, when we have obtained righteousness by faith, we have peace with God; and this is the peculiar fruit of the righteousness of faith. When any one strives to seek tranquillity of conscience by works, (which is the case with profane and ignorant men,) he labors for it in vain; for either his heart is asleep through his disregard or forgetfulness of God’s judgment, or else it is full of trembling and dread, until it reposes on Christ, who is alone our peace.

Then peace means tranquillity of conscience, which arises from this, — that it feels itself to be reconciled to God. This the Pharisee has not, who swells with false confidence in his own works; nor the stupid sinner, who is not disquieted, because he is inebriated with the sweetness of vices: for though neither of these seems to have a manifest disquietude, as he is who is smitten with a consciousness of sin; yet as they do not really approach the tribunal of God, they have no reconciliation with him; for insensibility of conscience is, as it were, a sort of retreating from God. Peace with God is opposed to the dead security of the flesh, and for this reason, — because the first thing is, that every one should become awakened as to the account he must render of his life; and no one can stand boldly before God, but he who relies on a gratuitous reconciliation; for as long as he is God, all must otherwise tremble and be confounded. And this is the strongest of proofs, that our opponents do nothing but prate to no purpose, when they ascribe righteousness to works; for this conclusion of Paul is derived from this fact, — that miserable souls always tremble, except they repose on the grace of Christ.

2. Through whom we have access, 153153     Calvin leaves out καὶ, “also.” Griesbach retains it. The omission is only in one MS., and in the Syriac and Ethiopic versions: it is rendered νυν by Theodoret But its meaning here seems not to be “also,” but “even” or “yea:” for this verse contains in part the same truth as the former. The style of Paul is often very like that of the Prophets, that is, the arrangement of his sentences is frequently on their model. In the Prophets, and also in the Psalms, we find often two distichs and sometimes two verses containing the same sentiment, only the latter distich states it differently, and adds something to it. See, for example, Psalm 32:1, 2. such is exactly the case here. “Justified by faith,” and “this grace in which we stand,” are the same. “Through our Lord Jesus Christ” and “through whom we have access,” are identical in their import. The additional idea in the second verse is the last clause. That we may see how the whole corresponds with the Prophetic style, the two verses shall be presented in lines, —
   1. Having then been justified by faith,
We have peace with God,
Through our Lord Jesus Christ;

   2. Through whom we have had, yea, the access by faith
To this grace, in which we stand,
And exult in the hope of the glory of God.

   The illative, then, is to be preferred to therefore, as it is an inference, not from a particular verse or a clause, but from what the Apostle had been teaching. By the phrase, “the glory of God,” is meant the glory which God bestows: it is, to use the words of Professor Stuart, “genitivus auctoris.”

   The word “access,” προσαγωγὴν has two meanings, — introduction (adductio) — and access (accessio.) The verb προσάγειν, is used in 1 Peter 3:18, in the sense of introducing, leading or bringing to. So Christ, as Wolfius remarks, may be considered to be here represented as the introducer and reconciler, through whom believers come to God and hold intercourse with him. “Introduction” is the version of Macknight; and Doddridge has also adopted this idea. — Ed.
etc. Our reconciliation with God depends only on Christ; for he only is the beloved Son, and we are all by nature the children of wrath. But this favor is communicated to us by the gospel; for the gospel is the ministry of reconciliation, by the means of which we are in a manner brought into the kingdom of God. Rightly then does Paul set before our eyes in Christ a sure pledge of God’s favor, that he might more easily draw us away from every confidence in works. And as he teaches us by the word access, that salvation begins with Christ, he excludes those preparations by which foolish men imagine that they can anticipate God’s mercy; as though he said, “Christ comes not to you, nor helps you, on account of your merits.” He afterwards immediately subjoins, that it is through the continuance of the same favor that our salvation becomes certain and sure; by which he intimates, that perseverance is not founded on our power and diligence, but on Christ; though at the same time by saying, that we stand, he indicates that the gospel ought to strike deep roots into the hearts of the godly, so that being strengthened by its truth, they may stand firm against all the devices of Satan and of the flesh. And by the word stand, he means, that faith is not a changeable persuasion, only for one day; but that it is immutable, and that it sinks deep into the heart, so that it endures through life. It is then not he, who by a sudden impulse is led to believe, that has faith, and is to be reckoned among the faithful; but he who constantly, and, so to speak, with a firm and fixed foot, abides in that station appointed to him by God, so as to cleave always to Christ.

And glory in the hope, etc. The reason that the hope of a future life exists and dares to exult, is this, — because we rest on God’s favor as on a sure foundation: for Paul’s meaning is, that though the faithful are now pilgrims on the earth, they yet by hope scale the heavens, so that they quietly enjoy in their own bosoms their future inheritance. And hereby are subverted two of the most pestilent dogmas of the sophists. What they do in the first place is, they bid Christians to be satisfied with moral conjecture as to the perception of God’s favor towards them; and secondly, they teach that all are uncertain as to their final perseverance; but except there be at present sure knowledge, and a firm and undoubting persuasion as to the future, who would dare to glory? The hope of the glory of God has shone upon us through the gospel, which testifies that we shall be participators of the Divine nature; for when we shall see God face to face, we shall be like him. (2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 3:2.)

3. Not only so, etc. That no one might scoffingly object and say, that Christians, with all their glorying, are yet strangely harassed and distressed in this life, which condition is far from being a happy one, — he meets this objection, and declares, not only that the godly are prevented by these calamities from being blessed, but also that their glorying is thereby promoted. To prove this he takes his argument from the effects, and adopts a remarkable gradation, and at last concludes, that all the sorrows we endure contribute to our salvation and final good.

By saying that the saints glory in tribulations, he is not to be understood, as though they dreaded not, nor avoided adversities, or were not distressed with their bitterness when they happened, (for there is no patience when there is no feeling of bitterness;) but as in their grief and sorrow they are not without great consolation, because they regard that whatever they bear is dispensed to them for good by the hand of a most indulgent Father, they are justly said to glory: for whenever salvation is promoted, there is not wanting a reason for glorying.

We are then taught here what is the design of our tribulations, if indeed we would prove ourselves to be the children of God. They ought to habituate us to patience; and if they do not answer this end, the work of the Lord is rendered void and of none effect through our corruption: for how does he prove that adversities do not hinder the glorying of the faithful, except that by their patience in enduring them, they feel the help of God, which nourishes and confirms their hope? They then who do not learn patience, do not, it is certain, make good progress. Nor is it any objection, that there are recorded in Scripture some complaints full of despondency, which the saints had made: for the Lord sometimes so depresses and straitens for a time his people, that they can hardly breathe, and can hardly remember any source of consolation; but in a moment he brings to life those whom he had nearly sunk in the darkness of death. So that what Paul says is always accomplished in them —

“We are in every way oppressed, but not made anxious; we are in danger, but we are not in despair; we suffer persecution, but we are not forsaken; we are cast down but we are not destroyed.”
(2 Corinthians 4:8.)

Tribulation produces (efficiat) patience, etc. This is not the natural effect of tribulation; for we see that a great portion of mankind are thereby instigated to murmur against God, and even to curse his name. But when that inward meekness, which is infused by the Spirit of God, and the consolation, which is conveyed by the same Spirit, succeed in the place of our stubbornness, then tribulations become the means of generating patience; yea, those tribulations, which in the obstinate can produce nothing but indignation and clamorous discontent.

4. Patience, probation, etc. James, adopting a similar gradation, seems to follow a different order; for he says, that patience proceeds from probation: but the different meaning of the word is what will reconcile both. Paul takes probation for the experience which the faithful have of the sure protection of God, when by relying on his aid they overcome all difficulties, even when they experience, whilst in patiently enduring they stand firm, how much avails the power of the Lord, which he has promised to be always present with his people. James takes the same word for tribulation itself, according to the common usage of Scripture; for by these God proves and tries his servants: and they are often called trials. 155155     The word in James is δοκίμιον while here it is δοκιμὴ. The first means a test, or the act of testing — trial; and the second, the result of testing — experience, and is rendered in our version “proof,” 2 Corinthians 2:9, — “experiment,” 2 Corinthians 9:13, — and in 2 Corinthians 8:2, “trial,” which ought to be experience. Beza says, that the first bears to the second a similar relation as cause bears to effect: the one thing is testing or probation, and the other is the experience that is thereby gained.
   The word is rendered here, not very intelligibly, “approbation,” both by Macknight and Stuart; but more correctly, “experience,” by Beza and Doddridge. — Ed.

According then to the present passage, we then only make advances in patience as we ought, when we regard it as having been continued to us by God’s power, and thus entertain hope as to the future, that God’s favor, which has ever succored us in our necessities, will never be wanting to us. Hence he subjoins, that from probation arises hope; for ungrateful we should be for benefits received, except the recollection of them confirms our hope as to what is to come.

5. Hope maketh not ashamed, etc.; 156156     Chalmers observes, that there are two hopes mentioned in this passage, — the hope of faith in the second verse, and the hope of experience in this. “The hope of the fourth verse,” he says, “is distinct from and posterior to the hope of the second; and it also appears to be derived from another source. The first hope is hope in believing, a hope which hangs direct on the testimony of God...The second hope is grounded on distinct considerations — not upon what the believer sees to be in the testimony of God, but upon what he finds to be in himself. — It is the fruit not of faith, but of experience; and is gathered not from the word that is without, but from the feeling of what passes within.” — Ed. that is, it regards salvation as most certain. It hence appears, that the Lord tries us by adversities for this end, — that our salvation may thereby be gradually advanced. Those evils then cannot render us miserable, which do in a manner promote our happiness. And thus is proved what he had said, that the godly have reasons for glorying in the midst of their afflictions.

For the love of God, etc. I do not refer this only to the last sentence, but to the whole of the preceding passage. I therefore would say, — that by tribulations we are stimulated to patience, and that patience finds an experiment of divine help, by which we are more encouraged to entertain hope; for however we may be pressed and seem to be nearly consumed, we do not yet cease to feel God’s favor towards us, which affords the richest consolation, and much more abundant than when all things happen prosperously. For as that happiness, which is so in appearance, is misery itself, when God is adverse to and displeased with us; so when he is propitious, even calamities themselves will surely be turned to a prosperous and a joyful issue. Seeing all things must serve the will of the Creator, who, according to his paternal favor towards us, (as Paul declares in the eighth chapter,) overrules all the trials of the cross for our salvation, this knowledge of divine love towards us is instilled into our hearts to the Spirit of God; for the good things which God has prepared for his servants are hid from the ears and the eyes and the minds of men, and the Spirit alone is he who can reveal them. And the word diffused, is very emphatical; for it means that the revelation of divine love towards us is so abounding that it fills our hearts; and being thus spread through every part of them, it not only mitigates sorrow in adversities, but also, like a sweet seasoning, it renders tribulations to be loved by us. 157157     “The love of God” in this passage may mean either the love of which God is the object — love to God, or the love which he possesses — God’s love to us: the usus loquendi would admit either of these meanings; and hence commentators have differed on the point. The expression, τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ Θεοῦ, in Luke 12:42, John 5:42, and in other places, means “love to God;” ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ, in 1 John 4:9, signifies clearly the love of God to us. The meaning then can alone be ascertained by the context and by the wording of the sentence. It stands connected with Christian graces, patience and hope; and this favors the first view, that it is love to God produced within by the Spirit. Then the verb, ἐκκέχυται — is poured out or poured forth, seems more suitable to the idea of love being communicated as a gift, or as a holy feeling within. It is further what prevents hope from being disappointed; it is some good or enjoyment that now strengthens and satisfies hope; and to love God who first loved us is to realize in a measure what hope expects; and when it is said that it is diffused by the Spirit, we are reminded of what Paul says in (Galatians 5:22, that “love” is one of the fruits of the Spirit. But it may, on the other hand, be alleged, that the verse stands connected with what follows, as the next verse begins with “for,” and that the subsequent context most clearly refers to the love of God to us; and this evidently decides the question.
   The first view, our love to God, has been adopted by Augustine, Mede, Doddridge, Scott, and Stuart; and the other, God’s love to us, by Chrysostom, Beza, Pareus, Grotius, Hodge, and Chalmers, and also by Schleusner who gives this paraphrase, “Amor Dei abunde nobis declaratus est — the love of God is abundantly declared to us.” — Ed.

He says further, that the Spirit is given, that is, bestowed through the gratuitous goodness of God, and not conferred for our merits; according to what Augustine has well observed, who, though he is mistaken in his view of the love of God, gives this explanation, — that we courageously bear adversities, and are thus confirmed in our hope, because we, having been regenerated by the Spirit, do love God. It is indeed a pious sentiment, but not what Paul means: for love is not to be taken here in an active but a passive sense. And certain it is, that no other thing is taught by Paul than that the true fountain of all love is, when the faithful are convinced that they are loved by God, and that they are not slightly touched with this conviction, but have their souls thoroughly imbued with it.

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 sinner 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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