But not as the offense, so also is the free gift - The same learned writer, quoted above, continues to observe: -
"It is evident that the apostle, in this and the two following verses, is running a parallel, or making a comparison between the offense of Adam and its consequence; and the opposite gift of God and its consequences. And, in these three verses, he shows that the comparison will not hold good in all respects, because the free gift, χαρισμα, bestows blessings far beyond the consequences of the offense, and which, therefore, have no relation to it. And this was necessary, not only to prevent mistakes concerning the consequence of Adam's offense, and the extent of Gospel grace; but it was also necessary to the apostle's main design, which was not only to prove that the grace of the Gospel extends to all men, so far as it takes off the consequence of Adam's offense, (i.e. death, without the promise or probability of a resurrection), but that it likewise extends to all men, with respect to the surplusage of blessings, in which it stretches far beyond the consequence of Adam's offense. For, the grace that takes off the consequence of Adam's offense, and the grace which abounds beyond it, are both included in the same χαρισμα, or free gift, which should be well observed; for in this, I conceive, lie the connection and sinews of the argument: the free gift, which stands opposed to Adam's offense, and which, I think, was bestowed immediately after the offense; Genesis 3:15; : The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. This gift, I say, includes both the grace which exactly answers to the offense, and is that part of the grace which stretches far beyond it. And, if the one part of the gift be freely bestowed on all mankind, as the Jews allow, why not the other? especially, considering that the whole gift stands upon a reason and foundation in excellence and worth, vastly surpassing the malignity and demerit of the offense; and, consequently, capable of producing benefits vastly beyond the sufferings occasioned by the offense. This is the force of the apostle's argument; and therefore, supposing that in the 18th and l9th verses, literally understood, he compares the consequence of Adam's offense and Christ's obedience, only so far as the one is commensurate to the other, yet his reasoning, Romans 5:15-17, plainly shows that it is his meaning and intention that we should take into his conclusion the whole of the gift, so far as it can reach, to all mankind."
For if, through the offense of one, many be dead - That the οἱ πολλοι, the many of the apostle here means all mankind needs no proof to any but that person who finds himself qualified to deny that all men are mortal. And if the many, that is, all mankind, have died through the offense of one; certainly, the gift by grace, which abounds unto τους πολλους, the many, by Christ Jesus, must have reference to every human being. If the consequences of Christ's incarnation and death extend only to a few, or a select number of mankind - which, though they may be considered many in themselves, are few in comparison of the whole human race - then the consequences of Adam's sin have extended only to a few, or to the same select number: and if only many, and not all have fallen, only that many had need of a Redeemer. For it is most evident that the same persons are referred to in both clauses of the verse. If the apostle had believed that the benefits of the death of Christ had extended only to a select number of mankind, he never could have used the language he has done here: though, in the first clause, he might have said, without any qualification of the term, Through the offense of one, Many are dead; in the 2nd clause, to be consistent with the doctrine of particular redemption, he must have said, The grace of God, and the gift by grace, hath abounded unto Some. As by the offense of one judgment came upon All men to condemnation; so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon Some to justification, Romans 5:18. As, by one man's disobedience, Many were made sinners; so, by the obedience of one, shall Some be made righteous, Romans 5:19. As in Adam All die; so, in Christ, shall Some be made alive, 1 Corinthians 15:22. But neither the doctrine nor the thing ever entered the soul of this divinely inspired man.
Hath abounded unto many - That is, Christ Jesus died for every man; salvation is free for all; saving grace is tendered to every soul; and a measure of the Divine light is actually communicated to every heart, John 1:9. And, as the grace is offered, so it may be received; and hence the apostle says, Romans 5:17; : They which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by Christ Jesus: and by receiving is undoubtedly meant not only the act of receiving, but retaining and improving the grace which they receive; and, as all may receive, so All may improve and retain the grace they do receive; and, consequently, All may be eternally saved. But of multitudes Christ still may say, They Will not come unto me, that they might have life.
Romans 5:12-21 has been usually regarded as the most difficult part of the New Testament. It is not the design of these notes to enter into a minute criticism of contested points like this. They who wish to see a full discussion of the passage, may find it in the professedly critical commentaries; and especially in the commentaries of Tholuck and of Professor Stuart on the Romans. The meaning of the passage in its general bearing is not difficult; and probably the whole passage would have been found far less difficult if it had not been attached to a philosophical theory on the subject of man‘s sin, and if a strenuous and indefatigable effort had not been made to prove that it teaches what it was never designed to teach. The plain and obvious design of the passage is this, to show one of the benefits of the doctrine of justification by faith. The apostle had shown,
(1)That that doctrine produced peace, Romans 5:1.
(2)That it produces joy in the prospect of future glory, Romans 5:2.
(3)That it sustained the soul in afflictions;
(a)by the regular tendency of afflictions under the gospel, Romans 5:3-4; and,
(b)by the fact that the Holy Spirit was imparted to the believer.
(4)That this doctrine rendered it certain that we should be saved, because Christ had died for us, Romans 5:6; because this was the highest expression of love, Romans 5:7-8; and because if we had been reconciled when thus alienated, we should be saved now that we are the friends of God, Romans 5:9-10.
(5)That it led us to rejoice in God himself; produced joy in his presence, and in all his attributes.
He now proceeds to show the bearing on that great mass of evil which had been introduced into the world by sin, and to prove that the benefits of the atonement were far greater than the evils which had been introduced by the acknowledged effects of the sin of Adam. “The design is to exalt our views of the work of Christ, and of the plan of justification through him, by comparing them with the evil consequences of the sin of our first father, and by showing that the blessings in question not only extend to the removal of these evils, but far beyond this, so that the grace of the gospel has not only abounded, but superabounded.” (Prof. Stuart.) In doing this, the apostle admits, as an undoubted and well-understood fact:
1. That sin came into the world by one man, and death as the consequence. Romans 5:12.
3. That Adam was the figure, the type of him that was to come; that there was some sort of analogy or resemblance between the results of his act and the results of the work of Christ. That analogy consisted in the fact that the effects of his doings did not terminate on himself, but extended to numberless other persons, and that it was thus with the work of Christ, Romans 5:14. But he shows,
4. That there were very material and important differences in the two cases. There was not a perfect parallelism. The effects of the work of Christ were far more than simply to counteract the evil introduced by the sin of Adam. The differences between the effect of his act and the work of Christ are these.
(1)The sin of Adam led to condemnation. The work of Christ has an opposite tendency, Romans 5:15.
(2)The condemnation which came from the sin of Adam was the result of one offence. The work of Christ was to deliver from many offences, Romans 5:16.
(3)The work of Christ was far more abundant and overflowing in its influence. It extended deeper and further. It was more than a compensation for the evils of the fall, Romans 5:17.
5. As the act of Adam threw its influence over all people to secure their condemnation, so the work of Christ was suited to affect all people, Jews and Gentiles, in bringing them into a state by which they might be delivered from the fall, and restored to the favor of God. It was in itself adapted to produce far more and greater benefits than the crime of Adam had done evil; and was thus a glorious plan, just suited to meet the actual condition of a world of sin; and to repair the evils which apostasy had introduced. It had thus the evidence that it originated in the benevolence of God, and that it was adapted to the human condition, Romans 5:18-21.
(The learned author denies the doctrine of imputed sin, and labors to prove that it is not contained in Romans 5:12, Romans 5:19. The following introductory note is intended to exhibit the orthodox view of the subject, and meet the objections which the reader will find in the Commentary. The very first question that demands our attention is, What character did Adam sustain under the covenant of works, that of a single and independent individual. or that of the representative of the human kind?
This is one of the most important questions in Theology, and according to the answer we may be prepared to give, in the affirmative or negative, will be almost the entire complexion of our religious views. If the question be resolved in the affirmative, then what Adam did must be held as done by us, and the imputation of his guilt would seem to follow as a necessary consequence.
1. That Adam sustained the character of representative of the human race; in other words, that he was the federal as well as natural head of his descendants, is obvious from the circumstances of the history in the book of Genesis. It has been said indeed, that in the record of the threatening no mention is made of the posterity of Adam, and that on this account, all idea of federal headship or representation must be abandoned, as a mere theological figment, having no foundation in Scripture. But if God regarded Adam only in his individual capacity, when be said unto him “in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” then, the other addresses of God to Adam, which form part of the same history, must be construed in the same way. And was it to Adam only, and not to the human kind at large, viewed in him, that God said, “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth?” Was it to Adam in his individual capacity, that God gave the grant of the earth, with all its rich and varied productions? Or was it to mankind at large? Was it to Adam alone that God said, “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground,” etc.? The universal infliction of the penalty shows, that the threatening was addressed to Adam as the federal head of the race. All toil, and sweat, and die. Indeed, the entire history favors the conclusion, that God was dealing with Adam, not in his individual, but representative capacity; nor can its consistency be preserved on any other principle.
2. Moreover, there are certain facts connected with the moral history of mankind, which present insuperable difficulties, if we deny the doctrines of representation and imputed sin. “How shall we on any other principle account for the universality of death, or rather of penal evil?” It can be traced back beyond all personal guilt. Its origin is higher. Antecedent to all actual transgression, man is visited with penal evil. He comes into the world under a necessity of dying. His whole constitution is disordered. His body and his mind bear on them the marks of a blighting curse. It is impossible on any theory to deny this. And why is man thus visited? Can the righteous God punish where there is no guilt? We muss take one side or other of the alternative, that God inflicts punishment without guilt, or that Adam‘s sin is imputed to his posterity. If we take the latter branch of the alternative, we are furnished with the ground of the divine procedure, and freed from many difficulties that press upon the opposite view.
It may be noticed in this place also, that the death of infants is a striking proof of the infliction of penal evil, prior to personal or actual sin. Their tender bodies are assailed in a multitude of instances by acute and violent diseases, that call for our sympathy the more that the sufferers cannot disclose or communicate the source of their agony. They labor with death and struggle hard in his hands, until they resign the gift of life they had retained for so short a while. It is said, indeed, that the case of infants is not introduced in Scripture in connection with this subject, and our author tells us, that they are not at all referred to in any part of this disputed passage, nor included in the clause, “death reigned, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam‘s transgression.” On this, some observations will be found in the proper place. Meanwhile, there is the fact itself, and with it we are concerned now. “Why do infants die?” Perhaps it will be said that though they have committed no actual sin, yet they have a depraved nature; but this cedes the whole question, for that depraved nature is just a part of the penal evil, formerly noticed. Why are innocent infants visited with what entails death on them? One answer only can be given, and no ingenuity can evade the conclusion, “in Adam all die.” The wonder is, that this doctrine should ever have been denied. On the human family at large, on man and woman, on infant child, and hoary sire, on earth and sky, are traced the dismal effects of the first sin.
3. The parallelism between Adam and Christ is another branch of evidence on this subject. That they bear a striking resemblance to each other is allowed on all hands. Hence, Christ is styled, in Romans 5:1-11, the apostle had fully enlarged on these benefits, and there is no evidence that Romans 5:12, Romans 5:19, are a continuation of the same theme. On the contrary, there is obviously a break in the discourse at Romans 5:12, where the apostle, recalling the discussion, introduces a new illustration of his principal point, namely, justification through the righteousness of Christ. On this the apostle had discouraged largely in Romans 5:12. Before, however, carrying out the comparison, the apostle stops to establish his position, that all people are regarded, and treated as sinners on account of Adam. His proof is this. The infliction of a penalty implies the transgression of a law, since sin is not imputed where there is no law, Romans 5:13. All mankind are subject to death or penal evils, therefore all people are regarded as transgressors of a law, Romans 5:13. The Law or covenant which brings death on all people, is not the Law of Moses, because multitudes died before that Law was given, Romans 5:14.
Nor is it the law of nature, since multitudes die who have never violated even that law, Romans 5:14. Therefore, we must conclude, that people are subject to death on account of Adam; that is, it is for the offence of one that many die, Romans 5:13-14. Adam is, therefore, a type of Christ. Yet the cases are not completely parallel. There are certain points of dissimilarity, Romans 5:15, Romans 5:17. Having thus limited and illustrated the analogy, the apostle resumes, and carries the comparison fully out in Romans 5:18-19. “Therefore as on account of one man.” etc. Prof. Hodge.)
Wherefore, - διὰ τοῦτο dia toutoOn this account. This is not an inference from what has gone before, but I a continuance of the design of the apostle to show the advantages of the plan of justification by faith; as if he had said, “The advantages of that plan have been seen in our comfort and peace, and in its sustaining power in afflictions. Further, the advantages of the plan are seen in regard to this, that it is applicable to the condition of man in a world where the sin of one man has produced so much wo and death. “On this account” also it is a matter of joy. It meets the ills of a fallen race; and it is therefore a plan adapted to man.” Thus understood, the connection and design of the passage is easily explained. In respect to the state of things into which man is fallen, the benefits of this plan may be seen, as adapted to heal the maladies, and to be commensurate with the evils which the apostasy of one man brought upon the world. This explanation is not what is usually given to this place, but it is what seems to me to be demanded by the strain of the apostle‘s reasoning. The passage is elliptical, and there is a necessity of supplying something to make out the sense.
As - ὥσπερ hōsperThis is the form of a comparison. But the other part of the comparison‘s deferred to Romans 5:18. The connection evidently requires us to understand the other part of the comparison of the work of Christ. In the rapid train of ideas in the mind of the apostle, this was deferred to make room for explanations Romans 5:13-17. “As by one man sin entered into the world, etc., so by the work of Christ a remedy has been provided, commensurate with the evils. As the sin of one man had such an influence, so the work of the Redeemer has an influence to meet and to counteract those evils.” The passage in Romans 5:13-17 is therefore to be regarded as a parenthesis thrown in for the purpose of making explanations, and to show how the cases of Adam and of Christ differed from each other.
By one man - By means of one man; by the crime of one man. His act was the occasion of the introduction of all sin into all the world. The apostle here refers to the well known historical fact Genesis 3:6-7, without any explanation of the mode or cause, of this. He adduced it as a fact that was well known; and evidently meant to speak of it not for the purpose of explaining the mode, or even of making this the leading or prominent topic in the discussion. His main design is not to speak of the manner of the introduction of sin, but to show that the work of Christ meets and removes well-known and extensive evils. His explanations, therefore, are chiefly confined to the work of Christ. He speaks of the introduction, the spread, and the effects of sin, not as having any theory to defend on that subject, not as designing to enter into a minute description of the case, but as it was manifest on the face of things, as it stood on the historical record, and as it was understood and admitted by mankind.
Great perplexity has been introduced by forgetting the scope of the apostle‘s argument here, and by supposing that he was defending a special theory on the subject of the introduction of sin; whereas, nothing is more foreign to his design. He is showing how the plan of justification “meets well understood and acknowledged universal evils.” Those evils he refers to just as they were seen, and admitted to exist. All people see them, and feel them, and practically understand them. The truth is, that the doctrine of the fall of man, and the prevalence of sin and death, do not belong especially to Christianity any more than the introduction and spread of disease does to the science of the healing art. Christianity did not introduce sin; nor is it responsible for it The existence of sin and we belongs to the race; appertains equally to all systems of religion, and is a part of the melancholy history of man, whether Christianity be true or false.
The existence and extent of sin and death are not affected if the infidel could show that Christianity was an imposition. They would still remain. The Christian religion is just “one mode of proposing a remedy for well-known and desolating evils;” just as the science of medicine proposes a remedy for diseases ‹which it did not introduce, and which could not be stayed in their desolations, or modified, if it could be shown that the whole science of healing was pretension and quackery. Keeping this design of the apostle in view, therefore, and remembering that he is not defending or stating a theory about the introduction of sin, but that he is explaining the way in which the work of Christ delivers from a deep-felt universal evil, we shall find the explanation of this passage disencumbered of many of the difficulties with which it has been thought usually to be invested.
By one man - By Adam; see Romans 5:14. It is true that sin was literally introduced by Eve, who was first in the transgression; Genesis 3:6; 1 Timothy 2:14. But the apostle evidently is not explaining the precise mode in which sin was introduced, or making this his leading point. He therefore speaks of the introduction of sin in a popular sense, as it was generally understood. The following reasons may be suggested why the man is mentioned rather than the woman as the cause of the introduction of sin:
(1) It was the natural and usual way of expressing such an event. We say that man sinned, that man is redeemed, man dies, etc. We do not pause to indicate the sex in such expressions. So in this, he undoubtedly meant to say that it was introduced by the parentage of the human race.
(2) the name Adam in Scripture was given to the created pair, the parents of the human family, a name designating their earthly origin; Genesis 5:1-2, “In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam.” The name Adam, therefore, used in this connection Romans 5:14, would suggest the united parentage of the human family.
(3) in transactions where man and woman are mutually concerned, it is usual to speak of the man first, on account of his being constituted superior in rank and authority.
(4) the comparison on the one side, in the apostle‘s argument, is of the man Christ Jesus; and to secure the fitness, the congruity (Stuart) of the comparison, he speaks of the man only in the previous transaction.
(5) the sin of the woman was not complete in its effects without the concurrence of the man. It was their uniting in it which was the cause of the evil. Hence, the man is especially mentioned as having reordered the offence what it was; as having completed it, and entailed its curses on the race. From these remarks it is clear that the apostle does not refer to the man here from any idea that there was any particular covenant transaction with him, but that he means to speak of it in the usual, popular sense; referring to him as being the fountain of all the woes that sin has introduced into the world.
“In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” Genesis 2:17. This is an account of the first great covenant transaction between God and man. It carries us back to the origin of mankind, and discloses the source of evil, about which so much has been written and spoken in vain. That God entered into covenant with Adam in innocence, is a doctrine, with which the Shorter Catechism has made us familiar from our infant years. Nor is it without higher authority. It would be improper, indeed, to apply to this transaction everything that may be supposed essential to a human compact or bargain. Whenever divine things are represented by things analogous among men, care must be taken to exclude every idea that is inconsistent with the dignity of the subject. If the analogy be pressed beyond due bounds, the subject is not illustrated, but degraded. For example, in the present case, we must not suppose that because in human covenants, the consent of parties is essential, and both are at full liberty to receive or reject the proposed terms as they shall see fit; the same thing holds true in the case of Adam. He indeed freely gave his consent to the terms of the covenant, as a holy being could not fail to do, but he was not at liberty to withhold that consent. He was a creature entirely at the divine disposal, whose duty from the moment of his being was implicit obedience. He had no power either to dictate or reject terms, The relation of parties in this covenant, renders the idea of power to withhold consent, inadmissible.
But, because the analogy cannot be pressed beyond certain limits, must we therefore entirely abandon it? Proceeding on this principle, we should speedily find it impossible to retain any term or figure, that had ever been employed about religious subjects. The leading essentials of a covenant are found in this great transaction, and no more is necessary to justify the appellation which orthodox divines have applied to it. “A covenant is a contract, or agreement, between two or more parties, on certain terms.” It is commonly supposed to imply the existence of parties, a promise, and a condition. All these constituent parts of a covenant meet in the case under review. The parties are God and man, God and the first parent of the human race; the promise is life, which though not expressly stated, is yet distinctly implied in the penalty; and the condition is obedience to the supreme will of God. In human covenants no greater penalty is incurred than the forfeiture of the promised blessing, and therefore the idea of penalty is not supposed essential to a covenant. In every case of forfeited promise, however, there is the infliction of penalty, to the exact amount of the value of the blessing lost. We cannot think of Adam losing life without the corresponding idea of suffering death. So that, in fact, the loss of the promise, and the infliction of the penalty, are nearly the same thing.
It is no valid objection to this view, that the word “covenant,” as our author tells us, (p. 137,) “is not applied in the transaction in the Bible,” for there are many terms, the accuracy of which is never disputed, that are no more to be found in the Scriptures than this. Where do we find such terms as “the fall,” and “the Trinity,” and many others that might be mentioned? The mere name, in, deed, is not a matter of very great importance, and if we allow that in the transaction itself, there were parties, and a promise, and a condition, (which cannot easily he denied,) it is of less moment whether we call it a covenant, or with our author and others, “a divine constitution.” It is obvious to remark, however, that this latter title is just as little to be found “applied in the transaction in the Bible,” as the former, and besides is more “liable to be misunderstood;” being vague and indefinite, intimating only, that Adam was under a divine law, or constitution; whereas the word “covenant” distinctly expresses the kind or form of law, and gives definite character to the whole transaction.
But although the doctrine of the covenant of works is independent of the occurrence of the name in the Scriptures, even this narrow ground of objection is not so easily maintained as some imagine. In Hosea 6:7, it is said (according to the marginal reading, which is in strict accordance with the original Hebrew,) they like Adam: כאדם k'-‘Aadamhave transgressed the covenant. And in that celebrated passage in the Epistle to the Galatians, Galatians 4:24, when Paul speaks of “the two covenants,” he alludes, in the opinion of some of the highest authorities, to the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. This opinion is espoused, and defended with great ability by the late Mr. Bell of Glasgow, one of the most distinguished theologians of his times, in a learned dissertation on the subject: Bell on the Covenants p. 85. Scripture authority, then, would seem not to be entirely lacking, even for the name.
This doctrine of the covenant is intimately connected with that of imputed sin, for if there were no covenant, there could be no covenant or representative head; and if there were no covenant head, there could be no imputation of sin. Hence, the dislike to the name.)
Sin entered into the world - He was the first sinner of the race. The word “sin” here evidently means the violation of the Law of God He was the first sinner among people, and in consequence all others became sinners. The apostle does not here refer to Satan, the tempter, though he was the suggester of evil; for his design was to discuss the effect of the plan of salvation in meeting the sins and calamities of our race. This design, therefore, did not require him to introduce the sin of another order of beings. He says, therefore, that Adam was the first sinner of the race, and that death was the consequence.
Into the world - Among mankind; John 1:10; John 3:16-17. The term “world” is often thus used to denote human beings, the race, the human family. The apostle here evidently is not discussing the doctrine of original sin, but he is stating a simple fact, intelligible to all: “The first man violated the Law of God, and, in this way, sin was introduced among human beings.” In this fact - this general, simple declaration - there is no mystery.
And death by sin - Death was the consequence of sin; or was introduced because man sinned. This is a simple statement of an obvious and well-known fact. It is repeating simply what is said in Genesis 3:19, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return into the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” The threatening was Genesis 2:17, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” If an inquiry be made here, how Adam would understand this; I reply, that we have no reason to think he would understand it as referring to anything more than the loss of life as an expression of the displeasure of God. Moses does not intimate that he was learned in the nature of laws and penalties; and his narrative would lead us to suppose that this was all that would occur to Adam. And indeed, there is the highest evidence that the case admits of, that this was his understanding of it.
For in the account of the infliction of the penalty after the Law was violated; in God‘s own interpretation of it, in Genesis 3:19, there is still no reference to anything further. “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Now it is incredible that Adam should have understood this as referring to what has been called “spiritual death,” and to” eternal death,” when neither in the threatening, nor in the account of the infliction of the sentence, is there the slightest recorded reference to it. People have done great injury in the cause of correct interpretation by carrying their notions of doctrinal subjects to the explanation of words and phrases in the Old Testament. They have usually described Adam as endowed with all the refinement, and possessed of all the knowledge, and adorned with all the metaphysical acumen and subtility of a modern theologian. They have deemed him qualified in the very infancy of the world, to understand and discuss questions, which, under all the light of the Christian revelation, still perplex and embarrass the human mind. After these accounts of the endowments of Adam, which occupy so large a space in books of theology, one is surprised, on opening the Bible, to find how unlike all this, is the simple statement in Genesis. And the wonder cannot be suppressed that people should describe the obvious infancy of the race as superior to its highest advancement; or that the first man, just looking upon a world of wonders, imperfectly acquainted with law, and moral relations, and the effects of transgression, should be represented as endowed with knowledge which four thousand years afterward it required the advent of the Son of God to communicate!
The account in Moses is simple. Created man was told not to violate a simple law, on pain of death. He did it; and God announced to him that the sentence would be inflicted, and that he should return to the dust whence he was taken. What else this might involve, what other consequences sin might introduce, might be the subject of future developments and revelations. It is absurd to suppose that all the consequences of the violation of a law can be foreseen, or must necessarily be foreseen, in order to make the law and the penalty just. It is sufficient that the law be known; that its violation be forbidden; and what the consequences of that violation will be, must be left in great part to future developments. Even we, yet know not half the results of violating the Law of God. The murderer knows not the results fully of taking a man‘s life. He breaks a just law, and exposes himself to the numberless unseen woes which may flow from it.
We may ask, therefore, what light subsequent revelations have east on the character and result of the first sin? and whether the apostle here meant to state that the consequences of sin were in fact as limited as they must have appeared to the mind of Adam? or had subsequent developments and revelations, through four thousand years, greatly extended the right understanding of the penalty of the law? This can be answered only by inquiring in what sense the apostle Paul here uses the word “death.” The passage before us shows in what sense he intended here to use the word. In his argument it stands opposed to “the grace of God, and the gift by grace,” Romans 5:15; to “justification,” by the forgiveness of “many offences,” Romans 5:16; to the reign of the redeemed in eternal life, Romans 5:17; and to” justification of life,” Romans 5:18. To all these, the words “death‘ Romans 5:12, Romans 5:17 and “judgment” Romans 5:16, Romans 5:18 stand opposed.
These are the benefits which result from the work of Christ; and these benefits stand opposed to the evils which sin has introduced; and as it cannot be supposed that these benefits relate to temporal life, or solely to the resurrection of the body, so it cannot be that the evils involved in the words “death,” “judgment,” etc., relate simply to temporal death. The evident meaning is, that the word “death,” as used here by the apostle, refers to the train of evils which have been introduced by sin. It does not mean simply temporal death; but that group and collection of woes, including temporal death, condemnation, and exposure to eternal death, which is the consequence of transgression. The apostle often uses the word “death,” and “to die,” in this wide sense, Romans 1:32; Romans 6:16, Romans 6:23; Romans 7:5, Romans 7:10, Romans 7:13, Romans 7:24; Romans 8:2, Romans 8:6, Romans 8:13; 2 Corinthians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Hebrews 2:14. In the same sense the word is often used elsewhere, John 8:51; John 11:26; 1 John 5:16-17; Revelation 2:11; Revelation 20:6, etc. etc.
In contrasting with this the results of the work of Christ, he describes not the resurrection merely, nor deliverance from temporal death, but eternal life in heaven; and it therefore follows that he here intends by death that gloomy and sad train of woes which sin has introduced into the world. The consequences of sin are, besides, elsewhere specified to be far more than temporal death, Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 2:8-9, Romans 2:12. Though therefore Adam might not have foreseen all the evils which were to come upon the race as the consequence of his sin, yet these evils might nevertheless follow. And the apostle, four thousand years after the reign of sin had commenced, and under the guidance of inspiration, had full opportunity to see and describe that train of woes which he comprehends under the name of death. That train included evidently temporal death, condemnation for sin, remorse of conscience, and exposure to eternal death, as the penalty of transgression.
And so - Thus. In this way it is to be accounted for that death has passed upon all people, to wit, because all people have sinned. As death followed sin in the first transgression, so it has in all; for all have sinned. There is a connection between death and sin which existed in the case of Adam, and which subsists in regard to all who sin. And as all have sinned, so death has passed upon all people.
Death passed upon - διῆλθεν diēlthenPassed through; pervaded; spread over the whole race, as pestilence passes through, or pervades a nation. Thus, death, with its train of woes, with its withering and blighting influence, has passed through the world, laying prostrate all before it.
Upon all men - Upon the race; all die.
For that - ἐφ ̓ ᾧ eph'hōThis expression has been greatly controverted; and has been very variously translated. Elsner renders it, “on account of whom.” Doddridge, “unto which all have sinned.” The Latin Vulgate renders it, “in whom (Adam) all have sinned.” The same rendering has been given by Augustine, Beza, etc. But it has never yet been shown that our translators have rendered the expression improperly. The old Syriac and the Arabic agree with the English translation in this interpretation. With this agree Calvin, Vatablus, Erasmus, etc. And this rendering is sustained also by many other considerations.
(1) if ῳ ōbe a relative pronoun here, it would refer naturally to death, as its antecedent, and not to man. But this would not make sense.
(2) if this had been its meaning, the preposition ἐν enwould have been used; see the note of Erasmus on the place.
(3) it comports with the apostle‘s argument to state a cause why all died, and not to state that people sinned in Adam. He was inquiring into the cause why death was in the world; and it would not account or that to say that all sinned in Adam. It would require an additional statement to see how that could be a cause.
(4) as his posterity had not then an existence, they could not commit actual transgression. Sin is the transgression of the Law by a moral agent; and as the interpretation “because all have sinned” meets the argument of the apostle, and as the Greek favors that certainly as much as it does the other, it is to be preferred.
All have sinned - To sin is to transgress the Law of God; to do wrong. The apostle in this expression does not say that all have sinned in Adam, or that their nature has become corrupt, which is true, but which is not affirmed here; nor that the sin of Adam is imputed to them; but simply affirms that all people have sinned. He speaks evidently of the great universal fact that all people are sinners, He is not settling a metaphysical difficulty; nor does he speak of the condition of man as he comes into the world. He speaks as other men would; he addresses himself to the common sense of the world; and is discoursing of universal, well-known facts. Here is the fact - that all people experience calamity, condemnation, death. How is this to be accounted for? The answer is, “All have sinned.” This is a sufficient answer; it meets the case. And as his design cannot be shown to be to discuss a metaphysical question about the nature of man, or about the character of infants, the passage should be interpreted according to his design, and should not be pressed to bear on that of which he says nothing, and to which the passage evidently has no reference. I understand it, therefore, as referring to the fact that people sin in their own persons, sin themselves - as, indeed, how can they sin in an other way? - and that therefore they die. If people maintain that it refers to any metaphysical properties of the nature of man, or to infants, they should not infer or suppose this, but should show distinctly that it is in the text. Where is there evidence of any such reference?
(The following note on Romans 5:12, is intended to exhibit its just connection and force. It is the first member of a comparison between Adam and Christ, which is completed in Romans 5:18-19. “As by one man,” etc. The first point which demands our attention, is the meaning of the words, “By one man sin entered into the world.” Our author has rendered them, “He was the first sinner;” and in this he follows Prof. Stewart and Dr. Taylor; the former of whom gives this explanation of the clause; that Adam “began transgression,” and the latter interprrets it by the word “commence.” It is, however, no great discovery, that sin commenced with one man, or that Adam was the first sinner. If sin commenced at all, it must have commenced with some one. And If Adam sinned at all, while yet he stood alone in the world, he must have been the first sinner of the race! President Edwards, in his reply to Dr. Taylor of Norwich, has the following animadversions on this view: “That the world was full of sin, and full of death, were too great and notorious, deeply affecting the interests of mankind; and they seemed very wonderful facts, drawing the attention of the more thinking part of mankind everywhere, who often asked this question, ‹whence comes this evil,‘ moral and natural evil? (the latter chiefly visible in death.) It is manifest the apostle here means to tell us how these came into the world, and prevail in it as they do. But all that is meant, according to Dr Tay or‘s interpretation, is ‹he began transgression,‘ as if all the apostle meant, was to tell us who happened to sin first, not how such a malady came upon the world, or how anyone in the world, besides Adam himself, came by such a distemper.” - Orig. Sin, p. 270.
The next thing that calls for remark in this verse, is the force of the connecting words “and so” καὶ οὕτως kai houtōsThey are justly rendered “in this way,.”” in this manner,” “in consequence of which.” And therefore, the meaning of the first three clauses of the first verse is, that by one man sin entered into the world. and death by sin, in consequence of which sin of this one man, death passed upon all people.
It will not do to render “and so” by “in like manner,” as Prof. Stewart does, and then explain with our author, “there is a connection between death and sin. which existed in the case of Adam, and which subsists in regard to all who sin.” This is quite contrary to the acknowledged force of καὶ οὕτως kai houtōsand besides, entirely destroys the connection which the apostle wishes to establish between the sin of the one man, and the penal evil, or death, that is in the world. It, in effect, says there is no connection whatever between those things although the language may seem to imply it and so large a portion of Christian readers in every age have understood it in this way. Adam sinned and he died, other people have sinned and they died! And yet this verse is allowed to be the first member of a comparison between Adam and Christ! Shall we supply then the other branch of the comparison, thus: Christ was righteous and lived, other people are righteous and they live? If we destroy the connection in the one case, how do we maintain it in the other? See the supplementary note.
The last clause “for that all have sinned,” is to be regarded as explanatory of the sentiment, that death passed on all, in consequence of the sin of the one man. Some have translated ἐφ ̓ ᾧ eph'hōin whom; and this, indeed, would assign the only just reason, why all are visited with penal evil on account of Adam‘s sin. All die through him, because in him all have sinned. But the translation is objectionable, on account of the distance of the antecedent. However, the common rendering gives precisely the same sense, “for that,” or “because that” all have sinned, that is, according to an explanation in Bloomfield‘s Greek Testament, “are considered guilty in the sight of God on account of Adam‘s fall. Thus, the expression may be considered equivalent to ἁμαρτωλοὶ κατεστάθησαν hamartōloi katestathēsanat Romans 5:19.” There can be no doubt that ἡμαρτον hēmartondoes bear this sense, Genesis 44:32; Genesis 43:9. Moreover, the other rendering “because all have sinned personally,” is inconsistent with fact. Infants have not sinned in this way, therefore, according to this view, their death is left unaccounted for, and so is all that evil comprehended in the term “death,” that comes upon us antecedent to actual sin. See the supplementary note.
Lastly, this interpretation would render the reasoning of the apostle inconclusive. “If,” observes Witsius, “we must understand this of some personal sin of each, the reasoning would not have been just, or worthy of the apostle. For his argument would be thus: that by the one sin of one, all were become guilty of death, because each in particular had besides this one and first sin, his own personal sin, which is inconsequential.” That people are punished for personal or actual transgression is true. But it is not the particular truth Paul seeks here to establish, any more than he seeks to prove in the previous part of his epistle, that people are justified on account of personal holiness, which is clearly no part of his design.)
For until the law - This verse, with the following verses to the 17th, is usually regarded as a parenthesis. The Law here evidently means the Law given by Moses. “Until the commencement of that administration, or state of things under the law.” To see the reason why he referred to this period between Adam and the Law, we should recall the design of the apostle, which is, to show the exceeding grace of God in the gospel, abounding, and superabounding, as a complete remedy for all the evils introduced by sin. For this purpose he introduces three leading conditions, or states, where people sinned, and where the effects of sin were seen; in regard to each and all of which the grace of the gospel superabounded. The first was that of Adam, with its attendant train of ills Romans 5:12, which ills were all met by the death of Christ, Romans 5:15-18. The second period or condition was that long interval in which men had only the light of nature, that period occurring between Adam and Moses. This was a fair representation of the condition of the world without revelation, and without law, Romans 5:13-14. Sin then reigned - reigned everywhere where there was no law. But the grace of the gospel abounded over the evils of this state of man. The third was under the Law, Romans 5:20. The Law entered, and sin was increased, and its evils abounded. But the gospel of Christ abounded even over this, and grace triumphantly reigned. So that the plan of justification met all the evils of sin, and was adapted to remove them; sin and its consequences as flowing from Adam; sin and its consequences when there was no written revelation; and sin and its consequences under the light and terrors of the Law.
Sin was in the world - People sinned. They did what was evil.
But sin is not imputed - Is not charged against people, or they are not held guilty of it where there is no law. This is a self-evident proposition, for sin is a violation of law; and if there is no law, there can be no wrong. Assuming this as a self-evident proposition, the connection is, that there must have been a law of some kind; a “law written on their hearts,” since sin was in the world, and people could not be charged with sin, or treated as sinners, unless there was some law. The passage here states a great and important principle, that people will not be held to be guilty unless there is a law which binds them of which they are apprized, and which they voluntarily transgress; see the note at Romans 4:15. This verse, therefore, meets an objection that might be started from what had been said in Romans 4:15. The apostle had affirmed that “where no law is there is no transgression.” He here stated that all were sinners. It might be objected, that as during this long period of time they had no law, they could not be stoners. To meet this, he says that people were then in fact sinners, and were treated as such, which showed that there must have been a law.
But not as the offence - This is the first point of contrast between the effect of the sin of Adam and of the work of Christ. The word “offence” means properly a fall, where we stumble over anything lying in our way It then means sin in general, or crime Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:35. Here it means the fall, or first sin of Adam. We use the word “fall” as applied to Adam, to denote his first offence, as being that act by which he fell from an elevated state of obedience and happiness into one of sin and condemnation.
So also - The gift is not in its nature and effects like the offence.
The free gift - The favor, benefit, or good bestowed gratuitously on us. It refers to the favors bestowed in the gospel by Christ. These are free, that is, without merit on our part, and bestowed on the undeserving.
For if - The apostle does not labor to prove that this is so. This is not the point of his argument, He assumes that as what was seen and known everywhere. His main point is to show that greater benefits have resulted from the work of the Messiah than evils from the fall of Adam.
Through the offence of one - By the fall of one. This simply concedes the fact that it is so. The apostle does not attempt an explanation of the mode or manner in which it happened. He neither says that it is by imputation, nor by inherent depravity, nor by imitation. Whichever of these modes may be the proper one of accounting for the fact, it is certain that the apostle states neither. His object was, not to explain the manner in which it was done, but to argue from the acknowledged existence of the fact. All that is certainly established from this passage is, that as a certain fact resulting from the transgression of Adam, “many” were “dead.” This simple fact is all that can be proved from this passage. Whether it is to be explained by the doctrine of imputation, is to be a subject of inquiry independent of this passage. Nor have we a right to assume that this teaches the doctrine of the imputation of the sin of Adam to his posterity. For,
(1)The apostle says nothing of it.
(2)that doctrine is nothing but an effort to explain the manner of an event which the apostle Paul did not think it proper to attempt to explain.
(3)that doctrine is in fact no explanation.
It is introducing all additional difficulty. For to say that I am blameworthy, or ill-deserving for a sin in which I had no agency, is no explanation, but is involving me in an additional difficulty still more perplexing, to ascertain how such a doctrine can possibly be just. The way of wisdom would be, doubtless, to rest satisfied with the simple statement of a fact which the apostle has assumed, without attempting to explain it by a philosophical theory. Calvin accords with the above interpretation. “For we do not so perish by his (Adam‘s) crime, as if we were ourselves innocent; but Paul ascribes our ruin to him because his sin is the cause of our sin.”
(This is not a fair quotation from Calvin. It leaves us to infer, that the Reformer affirmed, that Adam‘s sin is the cause of actual sin in us, on account of which last only we are condemned. Now under the twelfth verse Calvin says, “The inference is plain, that the apostle does not treat of actual sin, for if every person was the cause of his own guilt, why should Paul compare Adam with Christ?” If our author had not stopt short in his quotation, he would have found immediately subjoined, as an explanation: “I call that our sin, which is inbred, and with which we are born.” Our being born with this sin is a proof of our guilt in Adam. But whatever opinion may he formed of Calvin‘s general views on this subject, nothing is more certain, than that he did not suppose the apostle treated of actual sin in these passages.
Notwithstanding of the efforts that are made to exclude the doctrine of imputation from this chapter, the full and varied manner in which the apostle expresses it, cannot be evaded. “Through the offence of one many be dead” - “the judgment was by one to condemnation” - “By one man‘s offence death reigned by one” - “By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation” - “By one man‘s disobedience, many were made sinners,” etc.
It is vain to tell us, as our author does” under each of these clauses respectively, that the apostle simply states the fact, that the sin of Adam has involved the race in condemnation, without adverting to the manner; for Paul does more than state the fact. He intimates that we are involved in condemnation in a way that bears a certain analogy to the manner in which we become righteous. And on this last, he is, without doubt, sufficiently explicited See a former supplementary note.
In Romans 5:18-19 the apostle seems plainly to affirm the manner of the fact “as by the offence of one,” etc., “Even so,” etc. “As by one man‘s disobedience,” etc., “so,” etc. There is a resemblance in the manner of the two things compared. It we wish to know how guilt and condemnation come by Adam, we have only to inquire, how righteousness and justification come by Christ. “So,” that is, in this way, not in like manner. It is not in a manner that has merely some likeness, but it is in the very same manner, for although there is a contrast in the things, the one being disobedience and the other obedience, yet there is a perfect identity in the manner. - Haldane.
It is somewhat remarkable, that while our author so frequently affirms, that the apostle states the fact only, he himself should throughout assume the manner. He will not allow the apostle to explain the manner, nor any one who has a different view of it from himself. Yet he tells us, it is not by imputation that we become involved in Adam‘s guilt; that people “sin in their own persons, and that therefore they die.” This he affirms to be the apostle‘s meaning. And is this not an explanation of the manner. Are we not left to conclude, that from Adam we simply derive a corrupt nature, in consequence of which we sin personally, and therefore die?)
Many - Greek, “The many.” Evidently meaning all; the whole race; Jews and Gentiles. That it means all here is proved in Romans 5:18. If the inquiry be, why the apostle used the word “many” rather than all, we may reply, that the design was to express an antithesis, or contrast to the cause - one offence. One stands opposed to many, rather than to all.
Be dead - See the note on the word “death,” Romans 5:12. The race is under the dark and gloomy reign of death. This is a simple fact which the apostle assumes, and which no man can deny.
Much more - The reason of this “much more” is to be found in the abounding mercy and goodness of God. If a wise, merciful, and good Being has suffered such a train of woes to be introduced by the offence of one, have we not much more reason to expect that his grace will superabound?
The grace of God - The favor or kindness of God We have reason to expect under the administration of God more extensive benefits, than we have ills, flowing from a constitution of things which is the result of his appointment.
And the gift by grace - The gracious gift; the benefits flowing from that grace. This refers to the blessings of salvation.
Which is by one man - Standing in contrast with Adam. His appointment was the result of grace; and as he was constituted to bestow favors, we have reason to expect that they will superabound.
Hath abounded - Has been abundant, or ample; will be more than a counterbalance for the ills which have been introduced by the sin of Adam.
Unto many - Greek, Unto the many. The obvious interpretation of this is, that it is as unlimited as “the many” who are dead. Some have supposed that Adam represented the whole of the human race, and Christ a part, and that “the many” in the two members of the verse refer to the whole of those who were thus represented. But this is to do violence to the passage; and to introduce a theological doctrine to meet a supposed difficulty in the text. The obvious meaning is - one from which we cannot depart without doing violence to the proper laws of interpretation - that “the many” in the two cases are co-extensive; and that as the sin of Adam has involved the race - the many - in death; so the grace of Christ has abounded in reference to the many, to the race. If asked how this can be possible, since all have not been, and will not be savingly benefitted by the work of Christ, we may reply,
(1) That it cannot mean That the benefits of the work of Christ should be literally co-extensive with the results of Adam‘s sin, since it is a fact that people have suffered, and do suffer, from the effects of that fall. In order that the Universalist may draw an argument from this, he must show that it was the design of Christ to destroy all the effects of the sin of Adam. But this has not been in fact. Though the favors of that work have abounded, yet people have suffered and died. And though it may still abound to the many, yet some may suffer here, and suffer on the same principle forever.
(2) though people are indubitably affected by the sin of Adam, as e. g., by being born with a corrupt disposition; with loss of righteousness, with subjection to pain and woe; and with exposure to eternal death; yet there is reason to believe that all those who die in infancy are, through the merits of the Lord Jesus, and by an influence which we cannot explain, changed and prepared for heaven. As nearly half the race die in infancy, therefore there is reason to think that, in regard to this large portion of the human family, the work of Christ has more than repaired the evils of the fall, and introduced them into heaven, and that his grace has thus abounded unto many. In regard to those who live to the period of moral agency, a scheme has been introduced by which the offers of salvation may be made to them, and by which they may be renewed, and pardoned, and saved. The work of Christ, therefore, may have introduced advantages adapted to meet the evils of the fall as man comes into the world; and the original applicability of the one be as extensive as the other. In this way the work of Christ was in its nature suited to abound unto the many.
(3) the intervention of the plan of atonement by the Messiah, prevented the immediate execution of the penalty of the Law, and produced all the benefits to all the race, resulting from the sparing mercy of God. In this respect it was co-extensive with the fall.
(5) the offer of salvation is made to all, Revelation 22:17; John 7:37; Matthew 11:28-29; Mark 16:15. Thus, his grace has extended unto the many - to all the race. Provision has been made to meet the evils of the fall; a provision as extensive in its applicability as was the ruin.
(6) more will probably be actually saved by the work of Christ, than will be finally ruined by the fall of Adam. The number of those who shall be saved from all the human race, it is to be believed, will yet be many more than those who shall be lost. The gospel is to spread throughout the world. It is to be evangelized. The millennial glory is to rise upon the earth; and the Saviour is to reign with undivided empire. Taking the race as a whole, there is no reason to think that the number of those who shall be lost, compared with the immense multitudes that shall be saved by the work of Christ, will be more than are the prisoners in a community now, compared with the number of peaceful and virtuous citizens. A medicine may be discovered that shall be said to triumph over disease, though it may have been the fact that thousands have died since its discovery, and thousands yet will not avail themselves of it; yet the medicine shall have the properties of universal triumph; it is adapted to the many; it might be applied by the many; where it is applied, it completely answers the end. Vaccination is adapted to meet the evils of the small-pox everywhere; and when applied, saves people from the ravages of this terrible disease, though thousands may die to whom it is not applied. It is a triumphant remedy. So of the plan of salvation. Thus, though all shall not be saved, yet the sin of Adam shall be counteracted; and grace abounds unto the many. All this fulness of grace the apostle says we have reason to expect from the abounding mercy of God.
(The “many” in the latter clause of this verse, cannot be regarded as co-extensive with the “many” that are said to be dead through the offence of Adam. Very much is affirmed of the “many to whom grace abounds,” that cannot, “without doing violence to the whole passage,” be applied to all mankind. They are said to “receive the gift of righteousness,” and to “reign in life.” They are actually “constituted righteous,” Romans 5:19 and these things cannot be said of all people in any sense whatever. The only way of explaining the passage, therefore, is to adopt that view which our author has introduced only to condemn, namely, “that Adam represented the whole of the human race, and Christ a part, and that ‹the many in the two members of the verse, refers to the whole of those who were thus represented.”
The same principle of interpretation must be adopted in the parallel passage, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” It would be preposterous to affirm, that “the all” in the latter clause is co-extensive with “the all” in the former. The sense plainly is, that all whom Christ represented should be made alive in him. even as all mankind, or all represented by Adam, had died in him.
It is true indeed that all mankind are in some sense benefitted on account of the atonement of Christ: and our author has enlarged on several things of this nature, which yet fall short of “saving benefit.” But will it be maintained, that the apostle in reality affirms no more than that the many to, whom grace abounds, participate in certain benefits, short of salvation? If so, what becomes of the comparison between Adam and Christ? If “the many” in the one branch of the comparison are only benefitted by Christ in a way that falls short of saving benefit, then “the many” in the other branch must be affected by the fall of Adam only in the same limited way, whereas the apostle affirms that in consequence of it they are really “dead.”
“The principal thing,” says Mr. Scott, “which renders the expositions generally given of these verses perplexed and unsatisfactory, arises from an evident misconception of the apostle‘s reasoning, in supposing that Adam and Christ represented exactly the same company; whereas Adam was the surety of the whole human species, as his posterity; Christ, only of that chosen remnant, which has been, or shall be one with him by faith, who alone ‹are counted to him for a generation.‘ If we exclusively consider the benefits which believers derive from Christ as compared with the loss sustained in Adam by the human race, we shall then see the passage open most perspicuously and gloriously to our view.” - Commentary, Romans 5:15, Romans 5:19.
But our author does not interpret this passage upon any consistent principle. For “the many” in Romans 5:15, to whom “grace abounded” are obviously the same with those in Romans 5:17, who are said to receive abundance of grace, etc., and yet he interprets the one of all mankind, and the other of believers only. What is asserted in Romans 5:17, he says, “is particularly true of the redeemed, of whom the apostle in this verse is speaking.”)
God honors those who obey Him. “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness,” said David; “according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me” (Psalm 18:20-22). 1SM 299.1
Only the believer in Christ can receive life everlasting. Only by continually feeding on Christ's flesh and blood can we have the assurance that we are partakers of the divine nature. No one should be indifferent on this subject, saying, If we are honest, it is no matter what we believe. You cannot with safety surrender any seed of vital truth in order to please yourself or anybody else. Do not seek to avoid the cross. If we receive no light from the Sun of Righteousness, we have no connection with the Source of all light; and if this life and light do not abide in us, we can never be saved. 1SM 299.2
God has made every provision that His purpose in the creation of man shall not be frustrated by Satan. After Adam and Eve brought death into the world by their disobedience, a costly sacrifice was provided for the human race. A higher value than that they originally possessed was placed upon them. By giving Christ, His only-begotten Son, as a ransom for the world, God gave all heaven. 1SM 299.3
The acceptance of Christ gives value to the human being. His sacrifice carries life and light to all who take Christ as their personal Saviour. The love of God through Jesus Christ is shed abroad in the heart of every member of His body, carrying with it the vitality of the law of God the Father. Thus God may dwell with man, and man may dwell with God. Paul declared, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). 1SM 299.4Read in context »
We have reason for ceaseless gratitude to God that Christ, by His perfect obedience, has won back the heaven that Adam lost through disobedience. Adam sinned, and the children of Adam share his guilt and its consequences; but Jesus bore the guilt of Adam, and all the children of Adam that will flee to Christ, the second Adam, may escape the penalty of transgression. Jesus regained heaven for man by bearing the test that Adam failed to endure; for He obeyed the law perfectly, and all who have a right conception of the plan of redemption will see that they cannot be saved while in transgression of God's holy precepts. They must cease to transgress the law and lay hold on the promises of God that are available for us through the merits of Christ. FW 88.3Read in context »
Satan's Lies to Christ—Satan told Christ that He was only to set His feet in the blood-stained path, but not to travel it. Like Abraham He was tested to show His perfect obedience. He also stated that he was the angel that stayed the hand of Abraham as the knife was raised to slay Isaac, and he had now come to save His life; that it was not necessary for Him to endure the painful hunger and death from starvation; he would help Him bear a part of the work in the plan of salvation (The Review and Herald, August 4, 1874). 5BC 1081.1
(Ch. 3:16, 17; Mark 1:10, 11; Luke 3:21, 22.) Precious Tokens Showing Approval—Christ did not appear to notice the reviling taunts of Satan. He was not provoked to give him proofs of His power. He meekly bore his insults without retaliation. The words spoken from heaven at His baptism were very precious, evidencing to Him that His Father approved the steps He was taking in the plan of salvation as man's substitute and surety. The opening heavens, and descent of the heavenly dove, were assurances that His Father would unite His power in heaven with that of His Son upon the earth, to rescue man from the control of Satan, and that God accepted the effort of Christ to link earth to heaven, and finite man to the Infinite. 5BC 1081.2
These tokens, received from His Father, were inexpressibly precious to the Son of God through all His severe sufferings, and terrible conflict with the rebel chief (The Review and Herald, August 18, 1874). 5BC 1081.3
(Genesis 3:1-6.) Satan Powerless to Hypnotize Christ—Satan tempted the first Adam in Eden, and Adam reasoned with the enemy, thus giving him the advantage. Satan exercised his power of hypnotism over Adam and Eve, and this power he strove to exercise over Christ. But after the word of Scripture was quoted, Satan knew that he had no chance of triumphing (Letter 159, 1903). 5BC 1081.4
(Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:15.) The Two Adams Contrasted—When Adam was assailed by the tempter in Eden he was without the taint of sin. He stood in the strength of his perfection before God. All the organs and faculties of his being were equally developed, and harmoniously balanced. 5BC 1081.5
Christ, in the wilderness of temptation, stood in Adam's place to bear the test he failed to endure. Here Christ overcame in the sinner's behalf, four thousand years after Adam turned his back upon the light of his home. Separated from the presence of God, the human family had been departing every successive generation, farther from the original purity, wisdom, and knowledge which Adam possessed in Eden. Christ bore the sins and infirmities of the race as they existed when He came to the earth to help man. In behalf of the race, with the weaknesses of fallen man upon Him, He was to stand the temptations of Satan upon all points wherewith man would be assailed.... 5BC 1081.6
In what contrast is the second Adam as He entered the gloomy wilderness to cope with Satan single-handed. Since the fall the race had been decreasing in size and physical strength, and sinking lower in the scale of moral worth, up to the period of Christ's advent to the earth. And in order to elevate fallen man, Christ must reach him where he was. He took human nature, and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race. He, who knew no sin, became sin for us. He humiliated Himself to the lowest depths of human woe, that He might be qualified to reach man, and bring him up from the degradation in which sin had plunged him (The Review and Herald, July 28, 1874). 5BC 1081.7
The Severest Discipline—To keep His glory veiled as the child of a fallen race, this was the most severe discipline to which the Prince of life could subject Himself. Thus He measured His strength with Satan. He who had been expelled from heaven fought desperately for the mastery over the One of whom in the courts above he had been jealous. What a battle was this! No language is adequate to describe it. But in the near future it will be understood by those who have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony (Letter 19, 1901). 5BC 1081.8Read in context »