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Paul's Letter to the Romans - 5:1221


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#1 Kay

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 03:17 AM

Righteousness and Condemnation through Federal Heads (5:12–21)

In 3:21–26 we saw that Jesus had declared God’s righteousness as a basis upon which God forgives sins, when men approach Him in faith. He does not there say how Christ’s work is effective for the forgiveness of the sins of other men. If we reflect that the wages of sin is death, and that all have sinned, and that therefore all should die, we are faced with this question, How can God accept what Christ has done as a means of putting away sins, and accepting the sinner to favour? It had been explained by saying that Christ died instead of us, as a substitute. But this is contrary to the facts, every way. If Christ had died instead of us, he should not have been raised, and we should not die. But we die, and Christ was raised, his resurrection being everywhere insisted upon as a necessity in the case for Man’s justification. Besides which, substitution is wrong in principle, for it is not right that a sinless man should die instead of others.

The explanation of Scripture is that the race as a whole is involved in the ruin brought about by the first head; that a new head, a second Adam who is also a last Adam, has been raised up who has broken the entail, and become “a new centre of healthy life”; that as men suffer the consequences of the first Adam’s sin they may share the last Adam’s work of righteousness.

A possible objection may be raised that it does not seem right that men should suffer the consequences of another man’s wrong-doing. But leaving the Bible for a moment, is not this at any rate a fact in life. By heredity, the effects of evil lives are borne by generations who did not share in the wrong. More, the evil itself is likely to recur in the generations following. If the Bible be ignored the facts cannot be. But to state it thus is only to put half the case. There is a double entail. The good that men do lives after them in their children by the same law of heredity. Nature’s laws are “equal.” Jezebel’s daughters follow her pernicious ways, while Timothy reproduces the sincere faith of a godly Lois and Eunice. The Bible gives a classic expression of the facts in the well-known words of God, spoken amidst awe-inspiring conditions, at Sinai. And here, once more, things are traced to their ultimate source: “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy to a thousand generations of them that love me and keep my commandments.” The statement takes account not only of inheritance but also of individual persistance in evil or in good. It involves, what no study of nature can ever tell—that right will at last prevail in a godly seed, that the entail of righteousness reaches further than the entail of sin.

The comparison between the two Adams, worked out at length in Rom. 5., is briefly referred to in 1 Cor. 15. Christ is risen and become the firstfruits of them that slept. His resurrection is the pledge of a harvest. And this harvest of resurrection bound up with Christ, but which some in Corinth were denying, is put by Paul as a counterpart to the harvest of death connected with Adam: “For since by man came death,” not only for himself, for all his posterity, “so by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” It is by “man” in both cases. The second man must be a descendant of the first man. He must work his way out of the evil into which the first brought all. Only by being in the evil, subject to the effects of sin, can he come out of it. Death can be overcome only by one coming under its dominion. And mankind is involved in the consequences of the “fall” of the “man,” and of the “rise” of the “man.” “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” In Adam—by physical descent from him, by generation—all die. In Christ—by union with him, by regeneration—shall all be made alive. This defines the “all.” For all universally is not meant. While it is true that all absolutely of Adam’s posterity by descent from him die, yet here the apostle’s thought is concerned only with those who attain to life and immortality. As in Adam they all inherit death, so in Christ they all obtain eternal life. Both death and life are bound up with a federal head—one head leading along the way to death, the other leading along the way to life.

Let us now follow the ampler treatment of this theme in Rom. 5. By the opening word of verse 12 Paul links up with the preceding section. “Wherefore,” or “For this cause,” for us to have received reconciliation this is what has been done. And this explanation begins in verse 12, but is not immediately concluded. In characteristic manner Paul breaks off to supply proof of the opening words. It is desirable to notice the form of his words. He says “as” something happened in connection with Adam “so” something has been brought about in Christ. But instead of saying at once “so this has come to pass,” Paul breaks his sentence, and not until verse 18 is the statement completed, and then it is introduced by a re-statement of the substance of verse 12. A complete statement would have read: “As by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, so also by one man came righteousness and life by it.”

By one man” is a phrase governing every clause in verse 12. Through one man sin entered the world; through him came death; through him death passed unto all, for that, or because, all sinned through his sin. Thus amplified some of the difficulty which has occasioned much strife of words is removed. Adam sinned and was punished with death. His children inherit mortality and also a tendency to sin so inevitable in its sin-producing power that Paul can say that through Adam’s sin all sinned, and therefore all die through him.

The Christadelphian : Volume 66 Bd. 66. electronic ed. Birmingham : Christadelphian Magazine & Publishing Association, 2001, c1929, S. 66:451-452
"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#2 Kay

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 03:25 AM

Paul now turns aside to establish the fact of the unity of race in its inheritance of a death-stricken nature from a transgressing head, from the universal prevalence of death from Adam to Moses. “For until the law sin was the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression” (verses 13, 14).

From Adam to Moses might be called the patriarchal age. We must not infer that Paul means that during this time there was no law of God known. The history in Genesis forbids such a conclusion. For there we read of Abel’s offering, made at an appointed time, according to a particular method. We also read of righteous Noah. On the other hand the destruction of the Antediluvians, the Sodomites, and the inhabitants of Canaan, testifies of God’s law broken beyond remedy by all the members of each society thus punished. Abimelech was a righteous man, God witnessing to the integrity of his heart, while of Abraham God said, “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen. 26:5). But God’s law differed in its individual punishments during the time from Adam’s exile from Eden to the law being given to Israel. The Edenic and Mosaic laws were penal. God said that Adam should die for transgression and the law of Moses cursed all who failed to keep it perfectly. Men sinned during the interval, but the penal consequences of the law of Moses could not be executed, when that law did not exist. Sin is not imputed, not brought against them, not set down against them, where there is no law, such as the Edenic or Mosaic.

Yet death reigned. It reigned though those subject to it had not sinned in the same way as Adam, for the reason that they could not come under the law which was given to him, since they were outside of Eden when born. Neither were they under any other law which had the same conditions. How then did death reign? It was because of their descent from Adam, which is the point Paul is proving. But since there is this unity between Adam and his offspring, he is in this respect a “figure of the one to come.” This leads to the contrasting of the two heads, in what they did, and in the effects of what they did.

There is a contrast in results. The free gift is not as the trespass. “For if by the trespass of the one, the many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many” (verse 15). The one is Adam; the many, his descendants. Trespass on Adam’s part, death the result. Against that we have obedience on Christ’s part, and life the result. But other words than these are used to express this obedience and this result. Christ’s work and its effects are of God’s grace, and life is the gift by the grace of Jesus Christ, and these are put, by metonomy, for obedience and life. Grace “abounds” in that there is not simply a reversal to Adam’s state prior to his sin, but a bringing of man to the attainment of eternal life. The possible scope of grace is “the many” who are dying. But, “while it embraces all, all may not embrace it.”

Again there is a contrast quantitively. One sin brought the ruin which extended to all; but redemption covers many sins. “For the judgment came of one (offence) unto (sentence of) condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses unto justification (or sentence of righteousness)” (verse 16). And if God has involved all in death through the trespass of one, much more will He be gracious through the righteousness of one. In the words of verse 17, “For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; much more shall they that receive the abundance of the grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, even Jesus Christ.” A strictly corresponding statement to the first half of this verse would read, “much more will life reign through the righteousness of the one.” But that is not so. For while the Adamic unity is upon a flesh basis, the individual members being part of it by birth, the Christ unity is upon a different basis altogether. The bestowal of free will upon man by God, and the endowment of moral qualitities, involve that there must be a response on the part of man to the opportunity which God has provided, whereby he might attain to salvation. There must be co-operative work with God on the part of man. And because this is so, and because the majority of mankind prove unresponsive, Paul finishes the statement in harmony with the facts of the case—“much more shall they that receive the abundance of the grace . . . reign in life.” These concluding words certainly disprove all theories of universal salvation, which men have built upon the word “all,” and upon a supposed necessary equal extent of the effects of the work of Adam and Christ.

The Christadelphian : Volume 66 Bd. 66. electronic ed. Birmingham : Christadelphian Magazine & Publishing Association, 2001, c1929, S. 66:452-454
"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#3 Kay

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 03:26 AM

In verse 18 we have the re-statement of the idea of verse 12, put in such a way that it also sums up what has been established in the intervening verses. The trespass of one contrasts with the righteous act of the other. In the issue of their acts, condemnation contrasts with justification of life. The means in each case is more precisely stated in verse 19: “For as through the one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous.”

“Made sinners,” or “constituted sinners,” indicates that men become sharers by birth (the basis of union with Adam) of all the results that come in the train of Adam’s transgression. “Made righteous,” or “constituted righteous ones,” indicates that men share by being born again (the basis of union with Christ), the righteousness and life of which Christ is the possessor.

What purpose then did the law of Moses serve? It “came in beside,” as an additional element, that the trespass might abound (verse 20). The law had the effect of shewing that when man was placed under law, sin inevitably followed. The law only the more demonstrated the need for God’s scheme of righteousness. But God was equal to the increased need. As sin abounded, grace more abounded. And as sin reigned in death, that being, as it were, sin’s domain, so also grace has its kingdom. It reigns through righteousness as the result of Christ’s life of righteousness, of Christ’s death which exhibited God’s righteousness, and the resultant gift of righteousness to the believer. And it reigns unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord (verse 21).

This concludes another division of the epistle, and, as before, we gather together the headings of the sections as a help to bringing into one view the treatment of God’s righteousness revealed.

  • 3:21–31. God’s righteousness manifested.
  • 4. The lesson of Abraham: justified by faith; before he was circumcised; apart from law. The record “for our sakes.”
  • 5:1–11. The blessings of justification.
  • 5:12–21. Condemnation and righteousness through federal heads.
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John Carter.

The Christadelphian : Volume 66 Bd. 66. electronic ed. Birmingham : Christadelphian Magazine & Publishing Association, 2001, c1929, S. 66:452-454
"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33




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