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Commentary on Romans
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Romans 5:15

15. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

15. Sed non sicut delictum, ita et donum; nam si unius delicto 167167     Delicto — fault, παράπτωμα — stumbling, fall, transgression. Perhaps the last would be the best word here. It is rendered sometimes in the plural number “trespasses,” Matthew 18:35; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 2:1 Macknight renders it here “fall,” but most “offense.” The comparison here is between the sin of one, which produced death, and the grace of God through one, which brings the “gift” of life; and the difference, “much more,” seems to refer to the exuberance of grace by which man is to be raised to a higher state than that from which Adam fell. “A little lower than the angels” was man in his first creation; he is by exuberance of grace to be raised to a state as high as that of angels, if not higher; or we may take “much more” as intimating the greater power of grace to recover than sin to destroy. Sin is the act of man, and issued in death; but grace is the act of God, and will therefore with greater certainty issue in life.
   “Adam’s life after his fall was even as a slow dying, that reached its completion in his physical death; Christ’s ζωοποίησις of mankind is also gradual, the height of which is in the glorification of the body.” — Olshausen
multi mortui sunt, multo magis gratia Dei et donum Dei in gratia, quæ fuit unius hominis Christi, in multos abundavit.

15. But not as the offense, etc. Now follows the rectifying or the completion of the comparison already introduced. The Apostle does not, however, very minutely state the points of difference between Christ and Adam, but he obviates errors into which we might otherwise easily fall, and what is needful for an explanation we shall add. Though he mentions oftentimes a difference, yet there are none of these repetitions in which there is not a want of a corresponding clause, or in which there is not at least an ellipsis. Such instances are indeed defects in a discourse; but they are not prejudicial to the majesty of that celestial wisdom which is taught us by the Apostle; it has, on the contrary, so happened through the providence of God, that the highest mysteries have been delivered to us in the garb of an humble style, 168168     “Sub contemptibili verborum humilitate.” This sort of derogatory language as to the style of Scripture, Calvin had evidently learnt from the fathers. Chrysostom and Jerome did sometimes say most unwarrantable things in this respect, and that in a great measure because they did not understand the style of the New Testament, and in part with the view of taking away, by an admission, the force of objections alleged by admirers of Grecian and refined diction. The style of the New Testament is that of the Old; and hardly any of the fathers, except Origen and Jerome knew Hebrew, and the latter learnt it only in his old age, so that he could have had no great insight into its peculiarities. One like Chrysostom brought up in the refinements of Grecian literature, was a very unfit judge of the style of the New Testament, and hence it is that the criticisms of the Greek fathers in general are comparatively of very little value.
   The whole of this passage, 12-19, is constructed according to the model of the Hebrew style; and when rightly understood, it will appear to contain none of those defects ascribed to it. — Ed.
in order that our faith may not depend on the potency of human eloquence, but on the efficacious working of the Spirit alone.

He does not indeed even now expressly supply the deficiency of the former sentence, but simply teaches us, that there is a greater measure of grace procured by Christ, than of condemnation introduced by the first man. What some think, that the Apostle carries on here a chain of reasoning, I know not whether it will be deemed by all sufficiently evident. It may indeed be justly inferred, that since the fall of Adam had such an effect as to produce the ruin of many, much more efficacious is the grace of God to the benefit of many; inasmuch as it is admitted, that Christ is much more powerful to save, than Adam was to destroy. But as they cannot be disproved, who wish to take the passage without this inference, I am willing that they should choose either of these views; though what next follows cannot be deemed an inference, yet it is of the same meaning. It is hence probable, that Paul rectifies, or by way of exception modifies, what he had said of the likeness between Christ and Adam.

But observe, that a larger number (plures) are not here contrasted with many (multis,) for he speaks not of the number of men: but as the sin of Adam has destroyed many, he draws this conclusion, — that the righteousness of Christ will be no less efficacious to save many. 169169     It is evident that is the many οἱ πολλοί, include those connected with the two parties — the many descendants of Adam, and the many believers in Christ. And “the many” was adopted to form a contrast with the “one.”
   “The many” are termed “all” in verse Romans 5:18, and again, “the many,” in Romans 5:19. They are called “the many” and “all” alike with regard both to Adam and to Christ. Some maintain that the terms are coextensive in the two instances. That the whole race of man is meant in the one instances cannot be doubted: and is there any reason why the whole race of man should not be included in the second? Most clearly there is. The Apostle speaks of Adam and his posterity, and also of Christ and his people, or those “who receive abundance of grace,” or, “are made righteous;” and “the many” and the “all” are evidently those who belong to each separately. In no other way can the words with any consistency be understood. All who fell in Adam do not certainly “receive abundance of grace,” and are not “made righteous.” And it is not possible, as Professor Hodge observes, “so to eviscerate such declarations as these, as to make them to contain nothing more than that the chance of salvation is offered to all men.” This is indeed contrary to evident facts. Nor can they mean, that a way of acceptance has been opened, which is suitable to all; for though this is true, it yet cannot be the meaning here. Hence “the many” and the “all,” as to Adam, are all his descendants; and “the many” and the “all,” as to Christ, are those who believe. — Ed.

When he says, by the offense of one, etc., understand him as meaning this, — that corruption has from him descended to us: for we perish not through his fault, as though we were blameless; but as his sin is the cause of our sin, Paul ascribes to him our ruin: our sin I call that which is implanted in us, and with which we are born.

The grace of God and the gift of God through grace, etc. Grace is properly set in opposition to offense; the gift which proceeds from grace, to death. Hence grace means the free goodness of God or gratuitous love, of which he has given us a proof in Christ, that he might relieve our misery: and gift is the fruit of this mercy, and hath come to us, even the reconciliation by which we have obtained life and salvation, righteousness, newness of life, and every other blessing. We hence see how absurdly the schoolmen have defined grace, who have taught that it is nothing else but a quality infused into the hearts of men: for grace, properly speaking, is in God; and what is in us is the effect of grace. And he says, that it is by one man; for the Father has made him the fountain out of whose fullness all must draw. And thus he teaches us, that not even the least drop of life can be found out of Christ, — that there is no other remedy for our poverty and want, than what he conveys to us from his own abundance.


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