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6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

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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.