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The Christian’s Statue Of Liberty

The Christian’s Statue of Liberty

An Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans

by: J. M. Davies



Chapter One – Ruin-Righteousness Required

Chapter Two – Redemption-Righteousness Revealed
Chapter Three – Redemption-Righteousness Reckoned
Chapter Four – Relationship-Righteousness Produced


Chapter Five God’s Sovereignty
Chapter Six Human Responsibility
Chapter Seven The Severity and Saving Grace of God


Chapter Eight Responsibility-Righteousness Ruling

Chapter Nine Review-Righteousness Rewarded

Chapter Ten The Final Doxology


No preacher of the gospel, whether labouring in the homelands or in what is called the mission fields can afford to underestimate the importance of a thorough study of the Epistle to the Romans. If has been called the most important legal document in the world. It is now over 50 years since in the mercy of God 1 began to seriously read and study it. During the years in India one felt constantly constrained to emphasize its importance and to seek to explain its contents. In 1929 I was asked to write a series of explanatory articles on a chart which I had drawn up to help in teaching the epistle to a Bible class in a suburb of Chicago while on furlough. Over the years many have requested that those articles be put into permanent form. Gleaning among the sheaves, the vast heritage of written ministry which is ours, is the privilege of every one who seeks to study the word. Accordingly use has been made of a great many commentaries and books on the epistle, and also one is indebted to a great deal of oral ministry from various brethren in many countries.

Like the Statue of Liberty in New York harbour it holds out its beacon of light to all, and happy are they who follow its beam. It is the Christian’s Magna Charta, his charter of liberty, the title deeds of his freedom.

It is the King’s Royal Bounty, the provision of His own grace to all who come to Him from “afar off “. There are larger and more exhaustive commentaries available to those who have made some progress in their knowledge of the epistle, but it is hoped that this volume will blaze a trail as it were through the epistle for many younger ones, as well as refresh and establish older ones in those truths “which are most surely believed among us.”

It is dedicated to the blessing of all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth, the whole household of faith



If the epistles of Paul were arranged in their chronological order, the epistle to the Romans would probably be about sixth but doctrinally it takes the first place. “For the purpose of systematic theology it is the most important book in the Bible” (Prof. Findlay). To be established in the doctrines of grace as taught in the epistle to the Romans is the first essential for every believer. One of the reasons for Paul’s desire to go to Rome was that the saints might be “established”. This establishing ministry he gives in the epistle. Indeed the statement “to the end ye may be established” might well express the aim and object of the epistle. One of the last scenes in the book of the Acts is a tremendous storm, a wrecked ship, and a people scarcely saved, all because Paul’s word was set aside, and the word of the majority taken. A temporary south wind blew, and they were deceived. It is a sad prophetic picture of the course of church history. United testimony has been wrecked because the word of God as given in Paul’s letters has largely been sacrificed for that which is popular, that which suits the majority. Many a believer who has been thus tossed about by every wind of doctrine would have been saved from a storm-beaten and almost wrecked experience had he been instructed in the truths of this important epistle.

In relation to the other epistles its place of importance may be compared to the place occupied by the altar of burnt-offering in the Tabernacle. There the guilty found forgiveness. There the priests on the occasion of their consecration learnt the need and value of the sacrifices, by virtue of which they could enter the sanctuary to minister “ within the vail ”. That which gave them settled peace as they entered the presence of God was the fact that they had learnt His estimate of the value of the blood and sacrifice. So today, if the believer-priest is to apprehend his place in the “fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord” a.5 taught in 1st Corinthians; or be able to serve in the sanctuary according to 2nd Corinthians he will first of all need to be established in the “truth of the gospel” as expounded in Romans. Especially is this true in a day when Modernists and Ritualists on the one hand pervert the gospel, and many professed evangelists cheapen it.

Romans and Ephesians are unique in that Paul does not associate with him anyone else in the writing of them. The reason for this is to be seen in the fact that in these two epistles the apostle fulfils in a special way his two-fold stewardship, his stewardship of the gospel, and his stewardship of the truth relative to the Church. (Col. 1: 23-25 ; Eph. 3 : 3-l 1; 1. Cor. 2: l-l 1). Hence in Romans he speaks of the gospel as “my gospel”, that which he as the apostle to the Gentiles had been entrusted with to dispense to others, while in Ephesians we have the truth regarding the “Church which is His body”, a truth especially revealed to us through the apostle.


The accompanying chart is an attempt to put into concise form an analysis of the epistle. The main divisions of the epistle into Doctrinal, Dispensational, and Practical are clearly defined, and it is important to apprehend their Divine order. in the New Testament, doctrine regarding the believer’s position is always given prior to instructions regarding his walk and practice. This is grace in contrast to law. Under law responsibilities are put first, and if these are met then blessing follows. Under grace the walk is expected as the result of the blessings that are already ours in Christ. The Law said: “Do, and thou shalt live” Grace says: “Do because you live”. While the first eight chapters are labelled Doctrinal and the next three Dispensational, the theme of both sections is the same. Both deal with the vital question of salvation, but in the first section it is considered in its relation to the individual sinner in the present age, whereas in the second it is considered in its relation to Israel as a nation in the coming age. The epistle is the only full exposition of the gospel which we possess. In chs.1-5 the apostle deals with its juridical aspect, its relation to law and justice; in chs.6-8 its ethical aspect, its relation to life and practice, as well as its corporeal aspect, its relation to the believer’s body. In chs.9-11 we have its ethnical aspect, its relation to Israel and the nations, and in chs.12-16 its practical aspect, its relation to life’s varied responsibilities.

Following the main divisions of the epistle the reader will notice on the chart five divisions, each of which is coupled with one of the books of Moses. The ruin brought about by sin and man’s total depravity discussed in chs.1:19-3. 20 is illustrated in Genesis. Genesis gives us the entrance of sin into the human family, and closes with a man in a coffin, his mouth closed in death. The ruin caused by sin is traced showing its effect on the individual (ch.3), the family (ch.4), society (ch.6), and the nations (ch.10). In the epistle man is arraigned before God and found guilty. One charge after another is brought against him till at last “every mouth is stopped” and the world brought under the sentence of judgment. Man’s guilt is established. His right to live has been forfeited. Divine justice has a mortgage on it.

After ruin comes redemption which is illustrated in the book of Exodus with its record of deliverance by the blood of the Lamb from the judgment which fell upon Egypt. It issued in their complete deliverance from their bondage and slavery, and brought them under the authority and lordship of another, the one who had been the means of their deliverance. Hence redemption of necessity leads to a new relationship. When the Israelites were brought out of Egypt they were brought into a new relationship with Jehovah at Sinai. They were brought into a new fellowship with God as He dwelt in their midst in the Tabernacle. They were taught regarding access to God’s presence, and instructed as to the holiness which should characterize them as a redeemed people. This is the lesson of Leviticus, and it is the burden of the message of chs.6-8. The instructions regarding the offerer laying his hands on the offering, thus being identified with it in its death foreshadows the truth of the believer’s identification with Christ in His death and resurrection as expounded in chs.6-8.

In Lev. 26 there is given a prophetic utterance regarding Israel’s sin and dispersion among the nations, also their final restoration to favour, because of the covenant which God will not forget. This portion of Leviticus corresponds to the three dispensational chapters of the epistle. How anyone can read these without realizing that God has yet purposes of grace toward His earthly people is difficult to understand. There are 12 references to Israel in this section, but the word “Israel” does not appear elsewhere in the epistle.

The practical section concerned with exhortations to the believer as to how he is to live as becometh the gospel, thus adorning the doctrine of God, is what is portrayed in Numbers, the record of the pilgrimage of God’s people. In Leviticus much is made of the priest and his priestly ministry, but very little of the Levite. But it is the reverse in Numbers. There the Levite is prominent. The ministry of the priests was more hidden, whilst that of the Levite was more in the open. Romans 6-8 covers the hidden ministry, the life of the believer before God, his secret life, its conflicts and conquests, whereas Rom. 12-15 deal with that life in manifestation before his brethren and before the world. In Deuteronomy a review of Israel’s past is given. This is an apt illustration of Rom. 15 : 14-16: 25. with its long list of names and the various ways in which some are commended. It may be taken as a picture of the “judgment seat of Christ,” when the pilgrim journey will be over, and all that we have done, good or evil, will be reviewed by Himself.

Thus in the epistle the whole of the believer’s life is viewed from condemnation to justification, and on to sanctification and glorification.

Righteousness is one of the main words of the epistle, and in relation to it, the teaching of the epistle is divided into six sections. Man’s need of it; God’s grace in providing it; His method of imputing it to the one who owns his need of it, and of producing it in the life of the believer. For righteousness is never imparted, but rather produced by the Spirit working in the believer, conforming him to the image of the Son. How God is righteous in dealing in severity with Israel, how they denied Him, and how they, in consequence, are now set aside but to be later restored, and how those who are justified, acquitted from every charge, are to manifest it in their lives is clearly and emphatically taught by the apostle.

In the First epistle to the Corinthians the teaching of the epistle to the Romans would seem to be summarized and epitomized. In ch.1: 30 we read “Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, even righteousness, sanctification and redemption.” (NT). These three fit into the first 9 chapters of Romans.

Ch. 3: 2-5.21. Christ our righteousness.

Ch. 6-8. Christ our sanctification.

Ch. 8. Christ our redemption.

(Chapter 1. 1-18)

This consists of three sections.


Though brief this section is full of very important instruction regarding matters which are basic to the historic faith, “once for all delivered to the saints.”

A. The Saviour.

Remarkably enough, this title is not used in the epistle. It occurs often in Paul’s pastoral epistles as also in Peter and in the evangelical prophet Isaiah. As it is the “Gospel” that the apostle is expounding in the epistle, and since the Gospel is God’s good news concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, it is fitting that at the commencement he should give an unequivocally clear answer to the questions, “What think ye of Christ?’ and “Whom say ye that 1 the Son of Man am?” Unless these questions are answered properly there can be no gospel, no glad tidings for a ruined race. In unmistakable language the glories of Christ are delineated. In this, the gateway to the epistles of the New Testament, our attention is drawn to no less than seven of the Lord’s glories. In vv. 3-4 we have a reference to the mystery of His person, the union of deity and humanity in one indivisible personality. This will ever be an inscrutable mystery, for “no man knoweth the Son but the Father.” As if to enforce upon his readers that the twin truths-His deity and humanity-are not to be divorced, they are referred to in one sentence both in the opening verses and later in ch.9 : 5. Both are to be accepted and taught as being of equal importance.

The statements of the prophets in this connection corroborate the teaching of the apostle. When Isaiah speaks of the “child born” he immediately says that He is the “Son given.” When Micah refers to His birth in Bethlehem he hastens to add “His goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” And Zechariah tells of “the man, my fellow.” The phrases “as to the flesh” and “as to the spirit of holiness” are set over against each other antithetically, the one referring to His human and the other to His divine nature. He was powerfully declared to be the Son of God, whereas He came of the seed of David. He was exhibited in His true nature, the Son of God, by the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection was the final demonstrative proof of His deity. It was because He had claimed to be the Son of God that the Jews had considered Him guilty of the sin of blasphemy and therefore worthy of death. The resurrection vindicated His claim. “The text speaks not only of the fact of Christ being the Son of God, but of the proof of that fact in the resurrection. The word translated ‘declared’ is not the objective fixing or appointing of Christ to be the Son of God, but the subjective manifestation in men’s minds that He is so. The words ‘with power’ go with the verb, so that He was declared with power the Son of God.” (Alford).

The apostle also acknowledges the majesty of the Saviour. The Father and the Son are conjointly invoked in his petition, (v. 7). thus emphasizing the equality of the Son with the Father. The mediatorship of Christ is also underlined. It is through Him that the apostle had received grace and apostleship, and it is through Him that he gives thanks. Later in the epistle the words “through Jesus Christ our Lord” are often used. Indeed the epistle may be considered an exposition of the words, “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” In ch.2: 16 an allusion is made to His majesterial glory, the one who is the appointed judge of the secrets of men in accordance with the gospel. By virtue of His sacrificial death He is the mercy-seat. His blood is the basis upon which mercy is dispensed. In relation to His servants He is their master, the one to whom they own complete allegiance and obedience. As to the saints they are called to be His; they are His meed, His reward, His crown and diadem of glory. “They shall be mine in the day when I make up my jewels.” Thus the Saviour is radiant with glory.

B. The Scriptures.

Seven times over does the apostle refer to scriptures. He accepts them without question as the “oracles of God.” Three times they are referred to in the plural, and four times in the singular. The gospel is the fulfilment of the promises of God. This marks their integrity. (v_ 2). Moreover, “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we. . . through. . . the scriptures might have hope”. This proclaims their sufficiency. As he closes the epistle the apostle makes reference to the New Testament scriptures with their further and full revelation of the purposes of God. The scriptures are now complete. The last word from the throne has been spoken. This stamps them with finality. (15 : 4; 16 : 26). The four references where the word is in the singular emphazise their absolute and final authority. “What saith the scripture?’ They constitute the final court of appeal. (4: 3; 9: 17; 10: 11; 11: 2). There are quotations from at least 14 Old Testament books. To any honest mind it is evident that the writers of the New Testament considered the scriptures to be the revealed and inspired word of God.

C. The Saints. vv. 6-7.

They are described in a three-fold way, making them the objects of the operations of the three persons of the Godhead. What is said of them is true of all true Christians. Rome presumes to beatify certain individuals years and centuries after their death, whereas the Bible invariably speaks of Christians as saints while they are on earth. We read of the saints in Rome, the saints in Corinth, and the saints in Colosse and elsewhere. These saints were “the called of Jesus Christ.” In their case the call of the gospel had become effectual. They had responded to it, and had thereby become the acquired possession of their Saviour Jesus Christ. “I have called thee, thou art mine.” The effectual call-as is implied in the word called-makes us His. “The beloved of God.” Having embraced the Son, the love of the Father is our inheritance. To be “in Christ” makes it impossible to be separated from the love of God. By the effectual call we are not only brought up from the pit, but brought into the banqueting house where the banner of love permanently floats over us. “Called saints.” This is suggestive of the work of the Holy Spirit, setting us apart positionally and morally for the Lord. Saints by calling should be saintly in character.

The truth that the believer is thus the object of the Father’s love and choice, the Son’s redemptive work, and the Spirit’s gracious operations is taught elsewhere in the New Testament. (Luke 15; Eph. 1: 1; Pet. 1 et al.) It is an important factor when considering the question of the security of the believer, for “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

Not only is the position of the believer described in this threefold way, the spiritual condition of the ones in Rome is also the occasion of thanksgiving in three places. (1: 8; 6: 7-8; 15: 14). As to their collective testimony they were a city set on a hill which could not be hid. As to their private lives, they had obeyed from the heart the mould of doctrine to which they had been delivered, so that in the house-the assembly-their light was not put under a bushel, or under a bed. They were able to admonish one another, thus fanning one another to a flame. Would that there were more churches of this character, and after this pattern.


In these introductory greetings the apostle gives a graphic multiple picture of the servant of God. The words he uses are pictorial in character. He speaks of himself as a bondslave, and yet an apostle, or a commissioned ambassador. This is in marked contrast to man’s ways or the ways of earthly monarchs and governments. Slaves are not sent as ambassadors, and neither are ambassadors considered slaves. But in the kingdom of God, to be a bondslave is an essential pre-requisite to being a “man sent from God”, to being an apostle. The words “separated to the gospel of God” are an echo of the experience of the Levites who had been separated to the work of the Tabernacle. (Num. 8). Paul regarded himself as a Levite. He had been separated from his mother’s womb, (Gal. 1: 15) and declared to be a “chosen vessel” at the time of his conversion (Acts 9: 15), and later he was separated by the command of the Lord through the instrumentality of the prophets and teachers at Antioch. {Acts 13 : 1-3). This call and separation was to a permanent lifework and not for a temporary and initial period. But he also refers to his service as being of a priestly character. He speaks of “serving with his spirit . . .”a word denoting the ministry of a priest. Paul then was both a Levite and a priest. The sons of Aaron both blew the trumpets and served in the holy place. (Num. 10 and 18). The apostle gloried in this dual ministry. Then he suddenly changes the picture and uses words which are suggestive of his service as being that of a husbandman, one who looks for fruit from his labours. He does not think it derogatory to consider his service as being that of a labourer. But with it he immediately couples the idea of stewardship. “I am a debtor. . .” When writing to the Corinthians he adverts to this very definitely. A stewardship had been committed to him.

He was as it were a trustee, having been put in trust with the gospel. Like the lepers outside the gates of the city of Samaria he felt a responsibility to herald the glad tidings of the abundance of grace available through the gospel. And like the messengers who were sent by King Ahasuerus to every corner of his realm with the glad message of life to those who had been under a sentence of death, the apostle was impelled by a great spiritual urge to tell of the far greater deliverance through the greater than Mordecai. Finally he says that he is ready to preach the gospel or to evangelize in Rome. He was a true evangelist. Like the prophets of old he could say “The burden of the word of the Lord.” In connection with his ministry as a priest he uses the word “always”, and “without ceasing”, and “God is my witness.” He calls God to witness in this way in connection with his prayer life, (v. 9), private life and motives, (2 Cor. 1: 23), his pastoral care (Phil. 1: 6), his public life (1 Thess. 2: 5), and when he relates his persecutions. (2. Cor. 11: 31). His use of the word “always” is also very illuminating. It throws light upon his life of prayer, praise, confidence, devotion, and rejoicing in the triumphs of the gospel. (Rom. 1: 9; 2. Cor. 5: 6; 2. Cor. 2: 14; 4: 10; Phil. 1: 20).

As the one who heralded “the gospel of the grace of God” he gives grace a place of precedence. Grace is first and foremost. We are saved by grace alone, but the grace that saves us is never alone. It introduces us to peace, to apostleship, to truth, to supplication and to glory. (Rom. 1: 7: 5; Jo. 1: 14; Zech. 12: 10; Ps. 84: 11). Well might we sing “Grace is a charming sound, harmonious to the ear. . .”


The gospel, God’s glad tidings was the subject of promise and prophecy, concerning the “wise son” that made Him a glad father, and made it possible for Him to anoint the Son with the oil of gladness above His fellows, and gather to Himself a people rejoicing in salvation who will sing the praises of the Saviour forever. It is the gospel for there is no other. God is its source, and the Son is its subject, and the grace of God is its content. Mr. W. E. Vine very helpfully suggests the following. “The promise is in the Old Testament; the Person is the special theme of the four gospels; the preaching is recorded in the Acts; the product consists of those to whom the remainder of the New Testament is addressed. These correspond to the four parts of the Scriptures.” The apostle exultingly declared that he was not ashamed of the gospel and proceeds to give three reasons for his unbounded confidence, each beginning with the little word “for”:

“For it is the power of God unto salvation . . .”
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed . . .”
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against.. .”

The only cure for the world’s disease, the only mercy-seat where a righteous God
can meet a guilty sinner, the only refuge from the world’s doom is the gospel of God concerning His Son.

The three reasons adduced by the apostle are an epitome of the teaching of the epistle. He enters upon a discussion of these three subjects in the inverse order to which they are mentioned in these verses. THE WRATH OF GOD under which the whole world lies is what is enlarged upon in ch.1: 19-3 ; 20. Sin will not go unpunished, whether it be sin against God or sin against man, whether it be ungodliness or unrighteousness. These two cover both tables of the law. If Israel would worship the golden calf, then the two tables of the law must needs be broken, for ungodliness begets unrighteousness. A man’s attitude to God will govern his attitude and relationships with men. Man cannot be righteous if he is ungodly, whereas any professing godliness should practice righteousness. Four times the wrath of God is mentioned in these chapters. We read of wrath revealed, of a day of wrath, of wrath treasured up, and wrath meted out. (1: 18 ; 2: 5; 2 : 8) and we read of God taking vengeance.

There should be no conspiracy of silence on the part of preachers of the gospel with regard to this solemn subject, unpleasant though it may be. The sinner’s conscience must be reached if there is to be true repentance unto life. The Old Testament records instances of this wrath. The old world was unspared, the cities of the plain were destroyed. Witness it also in the death of the Son of God. He endured the billows and waves of God’s wrath in the day of God’s fierce anger, as prophesied in Ps. 88 : 7, “Thy wrath lieth hard upon me.” Witness it also in the fulfilment all around us of the words of 1: 27. Men receiving in their bodies the recompence of their error, becoming victims of loathsome diseases. “The scriptures never reveal one attribute of God at the expense of another. The revelation of His wrath is essential to a right understanding of His ways in grace.” (W.E.V.)


This forms the subject of the following section of the epistle. In it the juridical aspect of the gospel is expounded, its relation to law and justice. In it the apostle shows that God is both just and the justifier of him who is of faith in Jesus. God is righteous in all His ways, whether in judgment or in grace.

Paul affirms that this gospel is a revelation, an unveiling of God’s eternal purpose. In it we have an apocalypse (1: 17) and an epiphany (3: 21) of “righteousness of God.” It not only reveals a righteous God, that the law did, but righteousness from God which will meet man’s need and satisfy the claims of divine justice. The gospel is preached for the “obedience of faith” and righteousness is reckoned on the basis of faith in the message of the gospel. The just shall live by, or from faith. Faith is the spring from which all his activities must flow. This is of such importance in New Testament doctrine that it is quoted on three occasions, with a possible variation in the emphasis in each.

“The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1: 17).
“The just shall live by faith.” (Gal. 3 : 11 ).
“The just shall live by faith.” (Heb. 10: 38).

It is “from faith to faith” for the Christian experience is one of progress. It commences with faith and continues with faith. It is not a case of justification by faith and sanctification by works or self-effort, as the Judaizing teachers sought to teach the Galatians. This life of progress is similarly expressed in other portions. We read of “grace upon grace,” grace with a view to more grace. “From strength to strength.” “From glory to glory” till it ends up in the noonday brightness of the glory of God. “The path of the just is as a shining light, going on and brightening until the day be fully come.” (Prov. 4: 18; N. T.)


This is what the apostle discusses in chs.6-8. In this section he expounds the ethical aspect of the gospel, or the gospel in its relation to life and practice, as well as its corporeal aspect, its relation to the body and its redemption.

In chs.9-11 where the apostle proceeds to consider the ethnical aspect of the gospel, or the gospel in its relation to Israel and the nations, the same three subjects are again taken up in the same order. In ch.9 reference is made to the vessels of wrath and God’s judgment; in ch.10 to the righteousness of God, contrasting legal and faith-righteousness. In ch.11 the attention is focused on the future with the reconciliation of Israel when the deliverer will come out of Zion which will be followed by universal blessing.

Part Two
Salvation by grace for the individual sinner in the present age. 1: 19- 8: 39.

As suggested in the chart and in the introductory article this is the main section of the epistle. It is a closely reasoned summation of the truth of the gospel. It has been termed the most important legal document in the world. In no other epistle is the righteousness of God so vindicated, or His grace so magnified. God’s ways are seen to harmonize, fulfilling the words of the Psalmist “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.” (Ps. 85: 10-11). It is the fulfilment also of the words of the Lord regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to the world. He would convict of sin, of righteousness and judgment. The order is significant; it is the one followed in the epistle. Man’s guilt is first established, then grace is seen enthroned and reigning through righteousness unto eternal life. Christ having gone to the Father is the believer’s righteousness, hence for him there is no condemnation.

(Chapter 1: 19-3: 20)

The complete ruin brought about by sin and the darkness in which man is enveloped is a parallel to the condition of creation as recorded in Gen. 1: 2. It was a scene of chaos and concentrated blackness. The light revealed and accentuated the chaos, but it was the beginning of the bringing about of the beautiful cosmos of the 7th day, with man in control and in communion with God. It was “very good.” It is a portrayal of the ultimate in the purposes of God for the new creation. It commences with a revelation of man’s perversity and plight as seen in the penetrating light of the precepts and presence of God.

The two main divisions of the human family, the Jews and the Gentiles, are the two groups which are arraigned before the bar of divine justice. But in ch.1: 14 the Gentiles are divided into two sections, the Greeks and the Barbarians, or the wise and the unwise, the world of idolatry and the world of philosophy, that of the uncultured pagan and that of the cultured philosopher, or the reprobate and the rationalist. These two seem to be prosecuted separately. When the Lord was crucified His accusation over Him was written in three languages, in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Thus it bore the stamp of universality. The same universal stamp is evident in the portion of the epistle we are now considering.

1: 19-32.

Following a divinely stated and important principle of retributive justice, the apostle as a prosecutor calls for three witnesses to give their evidence. These witnesses are irreproachable and unimpeachable. Their evidence cannot be gainsaid or controverted. It is clear and definite and renders the person under trial “without excuse.” The first witness is that of CREATION. w. 19-20. The testimony of creation is eloquent and universal. “There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their message is gone out through all the earth.” (Ps. 19 : 3-4). The visible bears witness to the invisible, to His eternal power and divinity. This is doubtless why the lie of evolution is being so assiduously propagated today. Creation postulates an all wise and personal creator. To this may be added the voice of providence. God has “not left himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14: 17). The second reason why the wrath of God is upon the idolatrous world is given in vv. 21-31. It is the WITNESS OF HISTORY. “God requireth that which is past” even though the world goes on seeking to forget it. It would seem that in these verses we are given a brief description of the post-deluvian world until the days of Abraham with its age-long effects.

Of the family that came out of the ark it can truly be said that they all knew God. But from that high pinnacle man has descended, and in his descent he has degraded himself to the level of the beast and even lower. The apostle first emphasizes their ungodliness (vv. 21-28) and then their unrighteousness. (vv. 29-32). Their ungodliness is analyzed and its elements are specified.

1. They glorified Him not as God, v. 21.

2. Neither were they thankful. v. 21.

3. They exchanged the glory of incorruptible God for idolatry. v. 23.

4. They bartered the truth concerning God and His glory for a lie, the falsehood of idolatry. v. 25.

5. They worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator.

6. They did not like to acknowledge God. v. 28.

7. They preferred their sin. Idolatry began with an image of man, both gods and goddesses, but it ended with the worship of the serpent itself!

In man’s steep descent there are seven steps commencing with V. 21 to v. 28. The first two affect the spirit, the next steps affect the soul, and lastly the body is debased. This is total depravity. Spirit, soul and body, man is ruined by sin. A darkened understanding results in a darkened heart and a dishonoured body.

The period of testing from Adam to Noah lasted ten generations. It ended in judgment, with only one family saved out of the overthrow. From Noah to Abraham was another ten generations, and it ended likewise with a signal visitation of God in judgment. Three times over it is repeated that “God gave them up”. This resulted in immorality of the most hideous kind in which the women are the first mentioned, even as Eve was first in the transgression. A more detailed mention is made of the sin of the men. It is the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. Upon them the Lord rained fire and brimstone from heaven. Out of the idolatrous mass at that period God chose one family. (Josh. 24: 2-3). Moses warned Israel against the fateful sin of idolatry, and specified its four forms as detailed in Rom. 1: 23. (Deut. 4: 16-19). But they failed to heed it and turned to worship strange gods. So we read “I gave them up to their own hearts’ lust.” (Ps. 81: 12). In the present time God is again visiting the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. But of this day of grace it is predicated that it will end in a similar judgment. Apostate Christendom will be given over to believe “the lie”. (2. Thess. 2: 10-11).

As the wrath of God is against all unrighteousness as well this is emphasized in vv. 29-31. Twenty-one things are listed

(according to the RV. It leaves out fornication and implacable). They cover every phase of life in the family and in society. The list begins with the words “all unrighteousness” and ends with the word “unmerciful”. The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty. If 2. Tim. 3 : l-4 is compared with this it will be seen that the moral and spiritual condition of Christendom in the last days differs but very little, if any, from that of the idolatrous world in the days of the apostle and today.

Before the prosecution closes the accusations against the idolater he calls another witness to give his evidence. It is their own KNOWLEDGE. (v. 32), “who knowing the ordinance of God . . .”Men know that sin will bring its terrible retribution, Conscience cannot be entirely obliterated, or its voice absolutely silenced, even though it is often seared and calloused. In spite of this awareness of God’s decree, sin is indulged in, and pleasure is found in the company of those who practice it. Thus the case against the idolatrous world is closed. They are “without excuse” and guilty.

2 : 1 – 16.

The plural “they” and “them” of ch.1: 32 are now dropped and the singular “thou” is used. The individual the apostle is thinking of is given personalized attention. In all probability it is the Jew with his racial pride and sense of superiority that the apostle has in mind. The Pharisee who thanked God that he was not like the Publican, or the Scribes and Pharisees who brought to the Lord the woman caught in the act of adultery are fitting illustrations of this man. Then there are certain expressions in the portion which would confirm the view that the verses individualizes the Jew, who is later named specifically in v. 17. But the words “Whosoever thou art that condemnest . . .” suggest that in the scorching rebuke the cultured philosophically minded Gentile is included also. And later in the portion both Jew and Gentile are mentioned with specific reference to the work of the law written on the heart of the Gentile.

The attitude of the Jew who condemned idolatry but trafficked in idols, and who committed adultery while saying it was wrong, is not unfortunately limited to them. Among the cultured westerner are there not many who, while they look aghast at the terrible black catalogue of sins listed in chapter 1, and look down with a self-complacent pity on the poor idolater, are guilty of just the same things. Their “ungodliness” is manifested in the way they despise the riches of God’s goodness, and their “unrighteousness” is evident from the thrice repeated charge that they do the very things for which they condemn others (v. 1,2,3,). This man is a fit representative of the mixed multitude who lusted in the wilderness and loathed or despised the goodness of God in the manna. The witnesses called to give evidence against them are such that they cannot refute. The first witness is:


“Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee” said the Lord. (Luke 19: 22). They not only acknowledged the sin, but would condemn those who practiced it. They would sit in judgment on others for the very thing of which they themselves were guilty. Hence the second witness is a twin of the first. It is:


Paul draws the mask away from their face and makes bare their sheer hypocrisy. Their life was at variance with their lips. They praised virtue but practiced vice. Hence like the Scribes and the Pharisees they are convicted of THEIR OWN CONSCIENCE. v. 15. (John 8: 9). Many claim that conscience is their guide, but a seared conscience cannot protest. How terrible then when conscience will be awakened and turn its arrows of conviction on the incriminated rebel.

In ch.1 we read of a judgment meted out in the past on Gentile nations. “God gave them up,” But in ch.2: 1-16 there is a very solemn revelation of a judgment that is yet future. Three times over we read of the “judgment of God” (v. 2, 3, 5). It is one of the most important portions dealing with this subject in the Bible. Four things are made very clear with regard to that day and its processes of judgment.

1. It will be MORAL.

It will follow fixed principles of moral justice. Seven of these are enumerated.

(a) It will be according to truth (v. 2). There will be no falsifying of evidence.

(b) It will be righteous (v. 5). The inflexible and inexorable demands of the law will be met.

(c) It will be according to each man’s work (v. 6). The punishment will vary.

(d) It will be according to privilege (v. 9). If the Jew was the first to get the gospel, he will be the first to receive the recompence of his sin.

(e) It will be without respect of persons (v. 11). Favour will not overturn justice as is so often the case in the courts of earth.

(f) It will be according to light (v. 12). It will be easier for Sodom and Gomorrah than for Bethsaida and Chorasin. Greater light brings greater responsibility.

(g) It will be according to the gospel (v. 6). The Lord Jesus Christ will be the Judge. Secret sins will be revealed. Man by his sins lays up in store for himself wrath against the day of wrath. The goodness of God despised, the love of God slighted and the long-suffering of God over-reached will all reap and awful harvest then.


This is emphasized by a three-fold repetition of the words, “every man”, “every soul of man”, and “every man” (v. 6, 9, 10). The individual character of the judgment so clearly taught here is confirmed in Rev. 20: 15. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

3. It will be PENAL.

The words “wrath, indignation, tribulation and anguish” connote conscious suffering. They do not suggest a cessation of existence or annihilation. Tribulation and anguish will be the result of the wrath and indignation. This is what is involved in the word “perish” (v. 12).

4. It will be final and eternal. They are in marked contrast to the words, “eternal life” (v. 7). The Bible nowhere suggests a second chance beyond the portals of the grave.

Two Difficulties

1. It is sometimes thought that vv. 6-10 teach the possibility of salvation by works. These verses are in the form of an inverted parallelism. v. 6 corresponds with v. 11. v. 7 with v. 10, and v. 8 with v. 9. The words used in vv. 4 and 7 pre-suppose a certain knowledge of truth as revealed in the gospel, though the terms “goodness, forbearance and long-suffering” are of a wider application. Israel knew the goodness of God, materially, nationally and spiritually. (Ex. 33: 19). His forbearance with Israel in the past is referred to by Nehemiah. (9: 30). And His long-suffering by Isaiah. (Rom. 10 : 21). But the forbearance and long-suffering of God were manifested in the days of Noah also, even as they are today. Acts of summary judgment are not common. However a day of wrath is coming, with its retribution on those whose hearts have been hardened, and become impenitent. Pharaoh is an example of such a hardening process.

If in v. 7 we have the standard to be attained if anyone is to obtain eternal life, then to display the standard is but to proclaim man’s helplessness and doom, for no one by nature patiently continues to seek for that goal. Viewed in the light of the whole context and of other portions of scripture, the apostle is making it crystal clear that a mere lip service to the truth, such as the Jews rendered was of no value. There must be reality and sincerity. The same principle holds true for the person who professes to be a Christian also. As the uniform teaching of scripture is that salvation is by grace, then this portion must be interpreted in the light of such teaching, and not in a way that would conflict with it.

2. Do vv. 14-15 give any hope for the heathen-those who have never heard of Christ- apart from the gospel. The words “they are without excuse” in 1: 20 would militate against such a theory. Some see in these verses a reference to such persons as Rahab and Cornelius, but this seems untenable. Rather do these verses teach that in the day when God will judge the secrets of men, the conscience will acquiesce in the righteous decree of the judge, taking sides with God against the guilty person.


“But if thou bearest the name of a Jew.” That name was one they were proud of. It gave them a superiority complex. Had they not been given the law? As the circumcision they claimed to be the heirs to all the promises of God to Abraham. Hence the apostle first deals with their behaviour in relation to the law, and then with the relative value of circumcision as a rite. Paul the prosecutor calls upon these two to give their evidence.


Five things are said in connection with their relationship to the law.

1. They possessed the form of knowledge and truth in the law. (v. 20).

2. The Jew was instructed in the law. He was not ignorant as to its teaching. (v. 18).

3. He rested in the law (v. 18) The mere fact that he had the law gave him a false sense of confidence, a dangerous self-confidence

4. He boasted in it (v. 23) They gloried in the fact that they had been made the recipients of it

5. He broke it (v. 23) Thereby he dishonoured God and brought His name into derision among the Gentiles The very oracles which he prided in possessing, when broken, only increased his guilt


The Jew looked down upon the Gentile as the “Uncircumcised” who had no claim on any of the privileges of the Jew as a child of Abraham, a child or heir of the promises made to the fathers, and of the covenant made with Abraham. But the apostle shows that circumcision was only of value if they kept the law. A meticulous observance of a ceremonial while breaking the moral demands of the law was valueless. It was a false foundation to build on. It was a refuge of lies. A sacriligious profession was wedded to a sacramentarian precision. What an unequal yoke. But ritualistic Christendom is walking in the same path. It is the easy road to perdition, the broad road on which, alas, many are travelling.

The humiliating exposure of the emptiness of their profession, and the fact that their practice was so diametrically opposed to their preaching concludes with four contrasts between the real and the nominal.

The real is not external-but hidden. It is not carnal or in the flesh, but of the heart. It is not legal, but spiritual. Its praise is not of men, but of God. The natural man loves the nominal, that which is merely external, whereas God demands the real, the inward man or the hidden man of the heart, Christ formed within by the Holy Spirit.

Such penetrating accusations, such a stripping of his pride and hypocrisy, and such a condemnation of his guilt did not, however, make the Jew acknowledge his sin as David had when Nathan said “Thou art the man.” On the contrary he appeals and protests as he sees his very advantages conspiring against him as it were, his trusted friends becoming his enemies. He asks four questions, two of which have to do with himself, and two with God and His ways.

What advantage then has the Jew ? and what profit is there of circumcision? Paul readily answers that there are many advantages, but only refers to one. The others are tabulated later in ch.9: l-3. They had been made the custodians of the oracles of God. This was a very great advantage. This answer encouraged the Jew to dispute further, as evidently they had done on many occasions with Paul in the synagogues. His objections have to do with the faithfulness of God and the righteousness of God. As to the faithfulness of God he asked if God would fail to keep His word if some Jews had not believed, or had proved unfaithful ?

The apostle forcefully affirms that God is true, as he says elsewhere God cannot lie, and He cannot deny Himself. He is faithful. But His faithfulness cannot be divorced from His righteousness. David in his contrite confession, which the apostle quotes, (Ps. 51: 4) vindicates the righteous character of God in both His words and His ways. David confessed his guilt and condemned himself, thereby acquitting God of any charge of unrighteousness in His dealings with him on account of the heinous sin which he had committed. The Jew, in his attempt to justify his position, concludes that this answer with its quotation from David’s penitential Psalm, affords him a loophole whereby he may escape from his hopeless dilemma, his inevitable judgment.

He tries to argue that if man’s unrighteousness provides an opportunity to bring out the righteousness of God into bold relief, and establishes it beyond question, then: “Is God unrighteous who visiteth with wrath?” The apostle prefaces his answer with the words: “I speak as a man.” He acknowledges that the question is a totally unworthy and irreverent one. Vincent, quoting Morison says: “When I ask the question ‘Is God unjust who inflicteth wrath? I am deeply conscious that I am using language which is intrinsically improper when applied to God. But in condescension to human weakness, I transfer to Him language which it is customary for men to employ when referring to human relationships.” But what the Jew considers a loophole turns out to be a noose, a trap, in which he is mercilessly caught.


1. How will God then judge the world? or the Gentile nations. The Jew repeated the imprecatory Psalms with no thought that God would be unrighteous in thus judging the nations.

2. Why am I judged as a sinner ? They considered the message he preached to be a lie, and therefore they said, “Away with such a man from the earth.” They would want God to deal in one way with the world, and in another way with them. While anxious to put Paul to death for what they termed “a lie” they wished to claim immunity from the judgment of God even though they lived a lie. Surely the legs of the lame are not equal. They were guilty of both ungodliness and unrighteousness against which the wrath of God is revealed. Their ungodliness is shown in their attitude to the law, as well as their unrighteousness. Thus their OWN VERDICT OR CONDEMNATION of the nations and of Paul becomes the third witness to testify against them. The last question asked by the Jew and its answer closes the case. “What then? Are we better than they 11’ Have we any advantage when it comes to the judgment of God. The answer is terse and final, “No, in no wise.” (The quotations which follow go to show that the way the question is rendered in the A.V. and by the Am.R.V. is to be preferred to the Eng. R.V. which translates it, “What then? Are we in worse case than they?“).


The statements in these verses naturally divide into two groups of seven each. The first seven prove the universality of the ruin (9-12), and the second seven prove the totality of the ruin. (13-18). The first seven contain three negative and four positive statements. All under sin, All gone out of the way, and all unprofitable. There is none righteous, none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God, and none that doeth good. In the second list all the members are shown to be yielded to sin as servants to uncleanness. The throat, tongue, lips, mouth, feet, the mind and the eyes are all referred to. The pictorial words used, such as “sepulchre”, “poison of asps”, “destruction” and “blood-shedding” with “no fear of God before their eyes” very graphically portray the terrible and awful conditions of the world through sin. It is important to note how the apostle appeals to the written word of God, especially in a day when the Old Testament is considered outdated and outmoded. The verdict pronounces every mouth stopped-man is inexcusable. All the world is guilty-the judgment of God is inescapable. As it is by the law that the knowledge of sin has come about, and by it every mouth is stopped, it is evident that no flesh can be justified by it.

A brief review of the section in which the Jew is specifically named and charged will be of help. It may be considered under the following headings.

1. Their Privileges. 2: 17-18.

Six things are mentioned in these two verses. The name they bore was one of honour. They relied or leaned on the fact that they had the law. God was their God. His will had been made known to them. They knew how to test the things that differ and approve of the excellent, and they were instructed out of the law from childhood.

2. Their Prerogatives. 2: 19-20.

In these two verses four things are said of them in their relation to the Gentiles, and especially of Gentile proselytes. They felt that they were the guides, a light, instructors and teachers.

3. Their Practice. 21-24.

In these verses they are charged with breaking both the tables of the law. They were guilty of unrighteousness (21-22) and ungodliness (22b).

4. Their Plight. 25-29.

Because of having broken the law their circumcision was rendered invalid. It was made uncircumcision, and therefore they had forfeited their claim on the promises of God and of being the heirs of the covenant.

5. Their Protest. 3: l-9.

What advantage or what superiority is there attached to being a Jew? What is the benefit to us of having been circumcised? Are we any better than the Gentiles? Their sin had brought them to the level of the Gentile. Both Jews and Gentiles stood before God on the same ground. Neither could enter into blessing except on the ground of grace.

6. Pronouncement of judgment. 3: 9-19.

Four of the quotations are from Psalms which speak of the Gentiles, the enemies of God’s people, the evil man, and the wicked. The one from Isaiah was a message to the nation. But the apostle applies them all to Jew and Gentile alike. That which they had used against the Gentiles is now used against them. Hence they are speechless. (Matt. 22: 12). As those who were under the law, these scriptures are made applicable to them.

7. Prescribed deeds of the law inadequate. v. 20.

The word “therefore” is misleading. The revised rendering should be followed. “ Because by the works of the law, no flesh shall be justified.” The verse is not a conclusion based on the preceding statement, but rather it gives a reason for it. The verse emphasizes the inability of the law to meet man’s need, rather than man’s inability to meet its requirements. “If there had been a law which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law” (Gal. 3 : 2 I). “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” It discovers the disease but provides no remedy. It denounces the debtor, but offers no aid to the delinquent. It reveals the required standard of righteousness, but renders no aid. It imparts no power. Man, who is without strength, looks to it in vain for assistance or even encouragement.

The law is weak and beggarly (Gal. 4: 9). The word for “knowledge” (epignosis) is variously rendered. W. E. Vine translates it as “full knowledge.” Vincent as “clear and exact knowledge”, and Moule as “moral knowledge”. As Mr. Vine points out the subject is expanded in ch.7. The inadequacy of the law is summed up in the words of ch.8 : 3 “For what the law could not do . . .” This is true of both the moral and ceremonial aspects of the law. “One might as well attempt to cross the river on a millstone, as to get into heaven by works” (Stifler– quoted by Dr. Thomas). As Dr. Thomas points out, the apostle in these verses pronounces a verdict on all systems of religion, both Gentile and Jewish. All are failures. The words of the flesh shall be justified” apply to man in general apart from any racial, social or credal distinctions,

(Chapter 3: 21-26)

Having proven that all men, Jew and Gentile alike, have been ruined by sin, and are under sin, and subject to the wrath of God and His righteous judgment, the apostle proceeds to show that redemption has been accomplished through the propiatory sacrifice of Christ for all who believe without distinction. In these chapters (3 : 21-5: 21) the cardinal truth of the gospel, justification, is considered in its varied aspects. The epistle is a legal document, and justification is a legal term. It denotes the legal and full acquittal of the believer in Christ by God from every charge of guilt. The exposition of the truth is the answer to one of Job’s problems, “How should man be just with God?” (ch.9: 1). In this section the apostle enters fully into the discussion of what is stated in ch.1: 17 as to the gospel being a revelation of the righteousness of God from faith to faith. He first refers to righteousness manifested or revealed, and then adverts at some length to faith in contrast to works as being the way or mode by which righteousness is reckoned or imputed. (3: 27-5: 21).

(3 : 21-26).

This paragraph is short but very important, On the margin of his Bible, Luther wrote with regard to vv. 24-25: “This is the chief point and the very central place of the epistle, and of the whole Bible.” Commenting on this portion Moule says, “Golgotha is the observatory from which you count and watch the moving heaven of His being, His truth, His love.” These movements are traced out in a special way in the epistle and in this brief section. They testify to the fact that “His goings forth are from old, from the days of eternity” (Mic.5: 2).

“But now . . .”These words would almost remind us of the experience of Elijah when he was told to stand on the mount before the Lord. After the hurricane, and the earthquake and the fire, illustrative of God’s ways of judgment and wrath, there was a “still small voice.” Seemingly it was then that Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle and went forth. The voice of the law in earlier chapters is like peals of thunder striking fear and dread. Before it man’s mouth is shut. “BUT NOW . . .” the storm has ended, and are called upon to listen to the “still small voice”, the voice of grace. It is not till the stern voice of justice has closed man’s mouth can the silvery tones of grace be effectually heard. A man cannot hear properly while he is speaking. The mouth and the ear cannot be open simultaneously. But when he sees himself that he is vile and puts his hand to his mouth (Job. 40: when he confesses “I am undone”, then grace whispers peace in the ears of the penitent. He is delivered from going down to the pit, for a ransom is found, and his iniquity is removed. (Job. 33: 24)

“But now righteousness of God apart from the law is manifested.” The expression “righteousness of God” is to be understood in two different ways. Righteousness is one of the divine attributes, and this is undoubtedly the way the word is to be interpreted in vv. 252.6. The cross is a vindication of God’s righteous character. But in vv. 2 I-22 the term is qualified by the words “apart from law” and “by faith of Jesus Christ.” This would suggest that the expression is to be understood objectively, as referring to the righteousness which is reckoned to the one who believes the message of the gospel. Seven things are state- in connection with it in these verses which we do well to note, they are expanded more fully in chs.4-5.

1. It is an “apart from the law righteousness.”

It is not provided on the basis of obedience to the works of the law. If it was it would be reckoned as of debt. (4: 4).

2. It is attested by the law and the prophets.

Abraham is the witness from the books of the law, and David from among the prophets. The garments worn by the priestly family were not woven by Moses but by the pattern weaver, so the law was not instrumental in weaving this fabric of righteousness, the garments of salvation with which the believer is clothed. Yet as Moses saw no fault or flaw in those linen garments, so the law cannot detect any imperfection in the righteousness of God reckoned to the one who is “of faith in Jesus” (v. 26). On the contrary it witnesses to its sufficiency, for ‘Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (10 : 4).

3. It is “unto all who believe”.

The RV. properly leaves out the words “and upon all” for the apostle is here emphasizing the universality of the provision without any attempt to differentiate between the “unto all” and “upon all”. It is unto all because “all sinned.” The tense of the verb indicates that it refers to the fact that all are viewed as having sinned in Adam, as is later taught in ch.5: 12. All have come short of the glory of God, and the change in the tense points to the abiding character of the result of that sin. Its effect was not only universal but permanent. When the Lord was on the mount of transfiguration we are told that He received from the Father honour and glory. None other has been worthy of such approbation, all come short of it.

4. It is by faith of Jesus Christ.

These words are not to be understood in a subjective sense, as in such words as the faith of Moses or the faith of Abraham. They are to be understood as referring to Christ as the object of faith.

5. It is freely.

This emphasizes the absolutely gratuitous nature of the way in which God justifies the individual. He that is athirst is invited to drink of the water of life freely or without any charge. The word is rendered “without a cause” in John 15 : 25. Man can submit no cause in himself for God to justify him. The cause is entirely in God Himself, and in the redemption He has provided.

6. It is by grace.

It is by God’s totally unmerited favour. This is one of the words which the apostle revels in, one of his favourite words, as is evident from the fact that he uses it over 20 times in this epistle. He delighted in the gospel of the grace of God, unencumbered and unfettered.

7. It is through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

The gates of justifying grace which lead to the halls of mercy and the banqueting house swing freely and easily on two pillars which rest on the impregnable foundation of redemption and propitiation. Paul is careful to lay this firm foundation in view of the tremendous superstructure he will presently erect upon it. If there is to be no crack in the edifice the foundation must be embedded in rock, the rock of ages. As these words are so basically important they must be considered a little more fully.

(a) Redemption.

The content or meaning of this term may be gleaned from a consideration of the words used in the New Testament to convey the truth to our minds. The words and their meaning as may be confirmed from any Greek Lexicon are:

Agorazo-to purchase or to buy at the market. It is used in Rev.5:9;14:3,4;1.Cor.6:20,7,23;2.Pet.2:1.

Exagorazo-to buy out of the market, especially to buy a slave with a view to his freedom. (Gal. 3: 13; 4: 4, 5; Eph. 5: 16).

Lutruo-To loose by paying a price, to deliver. (1. Pet. 1: 18 ; Luke 24: 21).

Apolutrosis-a strengthened form of the same word-(Rom. Peripoieo . . to purchase, or to acquire. Acts 20: 28.

In “Old Corinth” a visitor may see the “old agora” the old market place where the slaves were bought and sold and where the guilty were judged. It was also the place of judgment. The “Bema” or the judgment seat was there. The stone is still there with the word “Bema” inscribed on it, as I saw when there in 1952. Various aspects of redemption are illustrated in the portions where these words are used. Seven may be referred to.

1. Its general aspect.

In its relation to the world, (Matt. 13 :44) and even false teachers (2. Pet. 2: 1). The whole world, in this sense, has been bought, in that the price necessary for their redemption has been paid in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. “He gave Himself a ransom for all” (2. Tim. 2: 5). His death being of infinite value is sufficient to meet the needs of all. None need perish. But that does not suggest that it has or will be made experimental in the case of all. “A person might be purchased without being actually set free” (W.E.V.).

2. Its penal aspect.

(Gal. 3: 13; Eph. 1: 7 and Col.1: 14; Rom. 3: 24). In Gal. 3: 13 man is viewed as a captive and a criminal. It is by the substitutionary character of the death of Christ satisfying the demands of justice against us that we are set at liberty from the curse of the law. Of the word used in Rom. 3 : 24 (apolutrosis) Newell quotes Thayer as follows: “Everywhere in the New Testament the word for redemption denotes deliverance effected through the death of Christ from the retributive wrath of a holy God and the merited penalty of sin. It is deliverance from the penalty of their transgressions through their expiation.” It is this that makes it possible for God to act in sovereign grace and justify the ungodly.

3, Its practical aspect (Titus 2: 14).

The Christian is one who has been set at liberty from iniquity, for redemption leads to liberty. A slave was sometimes bought with temple money, and was thus considered to have been freed from his slavery by the temple deity. Afterwards he was not to the enslaved by any man. This custom is hinted at in 1. Cor. 6: 20 and 7: 23.

4. Its ceremonial aspect (1. Pet. 1: 18).

A Spirit illuminated apprehension of the value of the death of Christ will deliver a person from bondage to rites and ceremonies as having any redemptive character, even as it was intended to deliver the believing Jew from all forms of traditional legalism.

5. Its corporeal aspect.

(Rom. 8: 23; Eph. 4: 30; Eph. 1: 14). This the apostle considers fully in ch.8.6. Its relation to Old. Testament saints (Heb. 9: 15). They had died in faith looking forward to the coming of the Messiah.

7. Its national aspect.

(Luke 21: 28 and 24: 21). Israel’s day of redemption, which was one of the main burdens of the prophets, may be far nearer than we think.

(b) Propitiation. v. 25.

The apostle makes it crystal clear that the redemption through which justification is possible is based upon the sacrificial death of Christ. The various words used in the New Testament in connection with this truth are very significant. In Heb. 2: 14-17 it is taught that one of the reasons for the incarnation was that our Lord might become a “merciful and faithful high priest-to make propitiation.” John refers to Him as the propitiation, or the sacrificial victim. (1. Jo. 22 : 4,10). Whereas in the passage in Romans the word used is that for the mercy-seat as in Heb. 9 : 5. Thus our Lord is the priest, the sacrificial victim and the mercy seat. Together they give us a composite picture of the redemptive work of Christ. On the word propitiation Dr. G. Thomas says: “Propitiation always means something that causes or enables someone to act mercifully or forgivingly. God requires the propitiation by reason of His justice, and He provides it by reason of His mercy.” The mercy-seat was the lid that covered the ark. On it the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled once every year on the day of atonement. It was the propitiatory. The corresponding word for propitiation in the Old Testament is to cover, to atone, or atonement.

Hence it is said that in Old Testament days sins were covered, whereas by the death of Christ sin has been taken away or put away. (John 1: 29; Heb. 9: 27). Christ having been set-forth-a mercy seat, a propitiatory. This may suggest that He was publicly set forth in contrast to the secrecy which characterized the work of the priest in Israel. Or it may refer to the fact that He was fore-ordained to be the mercy-seat in the eternal purpose of God, for the word is rendered “purpose” elsewhere. This is in keeping with what Peter stated on the day of Pentecost and in his first epistle. (Acts 2: 23; 1 Pet. 1: 20). The propitiatory nature of the death of Christ declared, or was the proof; it was the evident token, that God was righteous in passing over the sins of those who had lived and died “in faith” before Christ came, the Abels and the Abrahams.

It also declares that God is just at the present time when He justifies those who believe the gospel. The two periods covered in v. 25 are BC and AD. They do not refer to two periods in a believer’s life. It should be noted that He is the mercy-seat in virtue of His blood, and not in virtue of our faith in His blood. It is His expiatory sacrifice that constitutes Him a mercy-seat. And it is faith on the part of the individual that makes it experimental in his life, or actual in his experience. V. 26 may be paraphrased in this way. Christ has been invested with authority to show mercy to anyone who believes, by virtue of the value of His blood. The publican, standing afar off, evidently viewing the altar, cried, “Be merciful to me the sinner.” Be propitious to me, and he was justified. This illustrates Rom. 3 : 24-25.

The use of the word mercy-seat or propitiatory here is very instructive. The ark contained three things, the law, the manna, and the rod that budded. These were reminders of the three great sins of Israel in the wilderness. The law was the reminder of their sin of idolatry at Mt. Sinai. They had worshipped the golden calf, thereby returning to the worship of Egypt. It is an illustration of what is condemned in ch.1: 19-32.

The manna was a reminder of the wonderful goodness of God during their 40 years of pilgrimage. It was placed in the golden pot at the time the manna was first given. (Ex. 16). But it served also to remind the nation of the sin of the mixed multitude. They had loathed it. (Num. 16). Thereby they had despised the goodness of God as those described in Rom. 2: 1-16.

The rod that budded was the solemn reminder of the sin of Korah and his followers and the summary judgment which was meted out to them. They had seemingly erected a tabernacle of their own. They thought all the congregation was holy, and disputed the right of Moses and Aaron to exercise their ministry and authority. They might well represent the ritualist of ch.2: 17-3, 8.

That which made it possible for God to dwell in the midst of His people was the mercy-seat sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice. When Israel fell into idolatry the Lord removed from the camp and the tent or tabernacle was pitched outside. It was only later when the Tabernacle was erected and the mercy seat was sprinkled that the presence of the Lord returned.

When the men of Beth-shemesh removed the lid of the ark the anger of the Lord consumed 50,070 men among them. (1.Sam. 6: 19). Similarly if the cross is eliminated from our preaching it will only merit the frown and judgment of God. How blessed is the fact that provision has been made in the death of Christ for the need of all. The grace of God that bringeth salvation to all men hath appeared. None need perish, for concerning the mercy-seat God said, “There I will meet with thee, and commune with thee.” At the cross a just God and a guilty sinner may meet. It has been just such a trysting place for millions.

“0 safe and happy shelter !

0 refuge tried and sweet !

0 trysting place where Heaven’s love

And Heaven’s justice meet.”


(Chapter 3: 27-5, 21)

INTRODUCTORY. 3 : 27-31.

These verses serve as a confirmation of what the apostle has already stated and as an introduction to chs.4-5. The brief answers given to the three questions asked in these verses are expanded in the following chapters, the first two in chs.4-5 and the last in chs.6-7. There is a natural sequence of thought in the questions.

1. “Where is boasting then?”

This refers to the Jew’s boasting as to his privilege. (2: 17). They gloried in their supposed superiority. But the law or principle of faith has excluded such glorying. “It shuts out the foul inflation of a religious boast.” It punctures and deflates the pride which is born of the false presumption of a meritorious claim. The works or deeds of the law, on which they based such a claim, cover or include both the moral and the ceremonial. It is the law in its entirety that is in view. The words of v. 28 are not a conclusion as the King James version suggests, but rather a confirmation and an explanation of the expression “the law of faith” (v. 27). They are, as it were, the smooth stone with which this vaunting Goliath that stalks the land is brought down. These words contain the emancipating truth of the Reformation, that justification is by faith apart from and entirely independent of the deeds of the law. This is illustrated inch. 4: 1-8.

2. “Is God the God of the Jews only?

Is He not the God of Gentiles also?” Just as religious pride and vain boasting is excluded by the law of faith, so national pride is shut out by the answer to this question, God is one, or there is but one God. This is a basic doctrine of the Hebrew scriptures. It was stated in the law and confirmed by the prophet Isaiah in unmistakable terms. “Beside me there is no God.” (Isaiah 44: 6). He was not the “God of Israel” (Ex. 24: 10; Matt. 15: 31) in an exclusive sense. In view of this both Jew and Gentile, the circumcision and the uncircumcision would be justified on the same basis of faith. For the circumcised it would be “from faith” as opposed to being from the works of the law, and for the uncircumcised it would be by means of faith, or it may be by means of “the faith” as in Jude and Acts 6: 7. The use of the terms circumcised and uncircumcised indicates that the justification would be independent of ordinances, or of any claim that the Jew considered he possessed as an heir of the covenant because he had been circumcised. This aspect of justification is further developed inch. 4: 9-12 and also in 5: 12-21.

3. “Do we make void the law through faith?’

This is a very natural question for the objector to have asked. Seeing God justifies a person apart from or independent of both the works of the law, and of circumcision, would not such a message abrogate the law and rob its moral precepts of any authority? Would it not render the law of none effect? The relationship of faith and the law is later discussed in ch.4: 13-22 with Abraham as the divinely chosen illustration. In ch.4 the word “believe” occurs six times, and the word “faith” four times. In the light of this fact it is better to interpret the references to faith in 3: 30-31 as referring to the principle of faith in contrast to works, rather than to “the faith.” The ministry of the law and the Christian’s relation to it are considered more fully in chs.6 : 15-8.


As a prosecuting officer in a court of justice the apostle had appealed to statute law by which Jew and Gentile were found guilty of both ungodliness and unrighteousness, and were therefore subject to the judgment or the wrath of God. He had also cited the law as to the unity of the Godhead. Seeing there is but one God, then He is the God of the Gentiles as well as the God of the Jews, and there can be no preferential treatment in the matter of justification. This the apostle proceeds to establish by case law. He cites two important examples from Old Testament records, that of Abraham and David, witnesses from the law and the prophets respectively. Abraham was Israel’s greatest patriarch, he was considered the father of the nation, the progenitor of the race. David was their greatest monarch. The two witnesses arc therefore very well chosen. Abraham’s experience is discussed at some length as it illustrates the answers given to each of the questions asked in the introductory portion.
(3: 27-31).

(a) Justification is Independent of Works. (3: 27-28; 4: l-8).

“We reckon that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” ‘- P he word “reckon” is a key word to the understanding of the apostle’s teaching. It is used some 12 times in chs.3-4, and in the King James version is variously rendered “counted” and “imputed”. The technical term for putting to one’s account used in 5: 13 is used in Philemon 18, where in referring to Onesimus, the runaway slave, the apostle says, “if he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that to my account . . . I will repay it,” which would simultaneously clear Onesimus of both guilt and debt, setting him judicially free from every charge. This is what is involved in justification. Thereby righteousness of God is imputed, or reckoned, or put to the account of the believer, while his guilt and debt have been cancelled through Christ. Just as Onesimus had robbed his master, and was a fugitive from justice, so man has robbed God of the obedience and glory that was His due. Man’s plight is serious.

There is nothing on the credit side, while the debit side records a huge accumulated debt. The Lord referred to it as 10,000 talents. (Matt. 18: 23-25). If the talents were silver then according to Roman calculation it is computed that the sum would amount to about 2,000,000. But if the talents are considered to be gold, then the servant’s debt would be astronomical in its dimensions. And he had nothing wherewith he could pay the debt. Such is man’s plight. Justifying grace cancels the enormous debt and reckons righteousness to the account of the believer. He becomes the “righteousness of God” in Christ. (2. Cor. 5: 21).

Abraham and David are among the most illustrious persons of Biblical history. Their names appear in the opening verse of the New Testament. Their importance may be gauged from the space allotted to them and to the record of their lives in the scriptures, together with David’s prophetic Psalms, and the many basic and fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith which are illustrated and taught from episodes in their biographies. This is especially true of Abraham. He is the chief example of justification by faith in Romans, and of justification by works in James ch.2. In Galatians the difference between the two covenants is graphically enforced by allegorizing the incident connected with Hagar and Ishmael. Then in the epistle to the Hebrews the superiority of the Melchizedek priesthood of the Lord is taught by a similar allegorical interpretation of what is recorded in Gen. 14 concerning the meeting of Melchizedek with Abraham. These New Testament references make it evident that Abraham is a representative man. In the chapter of Romans which we are now considering he is spoken of as the “father of all them that believe” and the “father of us all” (vv. 11, 16).

He is therefore the example and illustration of God’s ways of justifying grace. At the time when God called him he was an idolater in Ur of the Chaldees. (Josh. 24: 2, 14). We was, of course, a Gentile, even at the time he was justified, for the middle wall of partition had not yet been erected, or the line of demarcation drawn. The words of v. 5 “ . . . Him that justifieth the ungodly” clearly indicate that Abraham was in that category, that of the idolater of ch:21-22. Hence he could claim no merit. All must be of grace, and grace alone. Neither was he asked to do anything, so the question of any meritorious works did not arise. The ground upon which Abraham was justified is very simply and tersely stated. “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.” He took God at His word, even as Mary did centuries later. (Luke 1: 45). And Paul echoes the same triumphant words when all hope that they should be saved was taken away. He said, “Sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 2.7 : 25). Faith thus honours God.

Vincent draws attention to the preposition used with the word believing, and says that the use of the preposition “epi” here and in 9: 33 is suggestive of resting upon the basis on which faith rests. In contrast to Abraham, David was a circumcised Jew, living under —- by his sin, he had broken it and dishonoured God, causing His name to be blasphemed. He represents the Jew of ch.2: 23-25. He had rendered his circumcision invalid. Hence he could only plead grace. His testimony is added by way of corroboration of that which is said about Abraham, and of justification by grace and by faith independent of works. David pronounces blessing or congratulates the man who is thus justified. In the Psalm, from which the apostle quotes, David uses the same three words as are used in Ex. 34: 7 and Lev. 16: 21. David had laid hold upon Jehovah’s revelation of Himself to Moses, and of the typical import of the day of atonement. The same three words are used by David in Psalms 51 and 103. Each was born out of the same bitter experience, and they are no doubt prophetic of the experience of the nation in a coming day, when their eyes will be opened to see that He was wounded for their transgressions and bruised for their iniquity.

The apostle in his quotation, however, docs not include the final clause of v. 2. He stops with the comma, leaving; out the words, “and in whose spirit there is no guile.” These words have to do with a person’s spiritual condition rather than with his righteous standing before God, and in this portion the apostle is discussing the matter of the believer’s righteous standing before God, rather than his spiritual state, or sanctification. That he considers later in the epistle.

The words of the Psalm do not express all that is involved in justification, but they declare the blessedness or the blessedness of the justified man. His forgiveness is absolute, his sin is covered, and will not be imputed or reckoned to him. The words emphasize the non-imputation of guilt, or the negative aspect of justification.

(b) Justification is Independent of Ordinances. (3: 29-30; 4: 9-12).

‘cometh this blessedness on the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also?” Abraham’s experience is again cited as evidence that circumcision has nothing to do with justification, for he was not circumcised until some 14 years after he had been justified. Instead of circumcision being prior to, and a cause or an essential qualification of justification, it succeeded it and was a sign and seal of the faith-righteousness he had received, while he was as yet uncircumcised. In that way he is the representative or the exemplar of all them that believe. The way in which he was justified is the way for all, whether Jew or Gentile, to be justified. Circumcision was not the seal of the righteousness of his faith, but rather to the faith-righteousness he had received. It is not the nature of his faith that is discussed but the nature of his righteousness. It was faith-righteousness in contrast to legal self-righteousness. “The sign refers to the material token; the seal to its religious import.” (Vincent). In v. 11 he is said to be the father or the representative of such as are uncircumcised, the Gentiles, and in v. 12 he is the exemplar of those among the Jews who are not of the circumcision merely, but who exhibit in their walk or conduct that which was characteristic of Abraham before he was circumcised.


(c) Justification is Independent of the Law and of Birth. (3: 28-31; 4: 13-2.5).

Not only was righteousness reckoned to Abraham by faith, but the inheritance was insured to him and to his seed by faith. The term “seed” used here includes all who are of the faith of Abraham, whether Jews or Gentiles. For he is not only the father of the nation of Israel, he is the father of many nations. (Gen. 17: 5). This quotation from Genesis is applied by the apostle to those who from among the Gentiles are “of the faith of Abraham.” The Jew claimed his lineage from Abraham by a natural birth into a Jewish family, but the true link with Abraham is the spiritual. All who are justified by faith are spiritually of Abraham’s lineage. Therefore birth into a Jewish family was no claim to privilege, and birth into a Gentile race was no hindrance or barrier.

Justification is available to all on the same terms as those on which Abraham was justified. Just as circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign years after he was justified, so the law was given some 430 years later, and as the apostle argues in his epistle to the Galatians, it cannot make the promise of none effect. It cannot annul the promise. But this is what it would do if “they which are of the law be heirs.“ Thereby faith would be emptied of its content of blessing, and the promise would be rendered unemployed, it would be nullified. Moreover the law worketh wrath, it brings men under the judgment and wrath of God as shown in chs.1: 3-20. In the epistle to the Galatians the apostle expounds the relation between law and grace more fully. In this chapter the promise, grace and faith are referred to in marked contrast to law, works and debt. Put into a tabulated form they are :

The Promise – The law.
Grace – Debt. Faith – Works. (vss. 4, 16).

Reviewing the ground covered in ch.4 it may be noted that the witness of Abraham and David illustrate four important aspects of the subject thus far considered. Abraham’s experience is taken from the law, and David’s from the prophets. (3: 21). Abraham was a Gentile and had been an idolater, whereas David was a member of the Jewish nation..

Abraham was uncircumcised, but David was circumcised. Abraham’s justification was long before the law: David lived under the law. Both alike were justified by grace, grace that abounded over their sin. Having thus shown that their justification war independent of works, of circumcision and of the law the apostle draws attention to the true nature of faith as the positive means whereby +v:v’2 are justified. He first considers Abraham’s faith. (WV. 17-22), and then Christian’s faith. (vv. 23-25).

Abraham’s faith. (17-22). Two things are predicated of his faith in these verses. He believed God’s promise that God was able to perform that which He had promised. He placed his confidence in the promise and power of God. The promises of Gen. 15: 5. “So shall thy seed bi” and ;)r Gen. 17: 5 “I have made thee a father of many nation?” are quoted. The two attributes of God referred to in v. I7 are enlarged upon in vv. 18-29. He speaks of the things which have not as yet come into being as already existent. To Him the future is as the as the present. He is over all history and ordains its course. He spoke of the many nations as if already in existence saying to Abraham “I have made thee . . . a father of many nations.” “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of” the world.” (Acts 15: 18).

He is both omniscient and omnipotent. The words “ He quickened the dead” are applied in vv. 19-20 to the death state of Abraham’s body, and of Sarah’s womb. Death had been engraved as it were on all the powers of pro-creation. If there was to be a fulfilment of the promise of God then a miracle would have to be performed. ‘The new life would have to be brought out of a condition akin to death. Abraham considered both of these humanly insuperable difficulties. He weighed them in the balances, but over against them he weighed the power of God. The change in the R.V. from the A.V. of v. 19 is important. “He considered his own body, now dead”. He took this fact into account, indicating that he had no hope of seeing the promise being fulfilled as far as nature was concerned. His only hope was in the promise and power of God to implement that promise He staggered not, or he wavered not, as he might well have done when he would consider the magnitude of the promise and the absolute impossibility of its fulfilment from the human standpoint. But he was strengthened through faith, and was assured, he was thoroughly convinced that what God had promised He was able to perform and would in His own time fulfill. Thereby he gave glory to God. Thus faith was reckoned to him for righteousness.

The Christian’s Faith.(vv23-25). What is recorded of Abraham is now made applicable to the believer, whose faith is also in God who quickened the dead, now manifested in a far greater miracle than the birth of Isaac, the resurrection of “Jesus our Lord from the dead.” That is the greatest miracle of all history, as well as being the greatest exhibition of His power. In the epistle to the Ephesians it is spoken of as the “exceeding greatness of His power.” (ch.1 : 19). Corresponding to the promise given to Abraham the believer has the message concerning Christ, the word of God which tells of the propitiatory death of Christ. “He was delivered for (or, on account of) our offences . .” Basically He was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreordination of God. (Acts 2: 23). Historically He was delivered by Judas, the nation’s representatives, and Pilate. He was thus forsaken or abandoned, just as Jonah was abandoned to the raging billows of the angry deep, fulfilling the words “Thy billows and thy waves have all gone over me.” He was raised again for our justification. As the preposition “for”in each of the two sentences is the same. it should be understood as “on account of” or “because of”. The resurrection was the demonstrative proof that by His death He had put away sin, and met all the requirements of justice, and that therefore the believer is justified, or freed from every charge.

2. IN RELATION TO ADAM. (5: 12-21).

4: 13-25 the apostle establishes the truth that nationalism or being the natural descendants of Abraham merely, and having undergone the outward circumcision, which is in the flesh, did not mean that they were thereby automatically considered to be the spiritual seed of Abraham. He also established its correlated truth that the Gentile was not thereby debarred from being reckoned as the “seed” of Abraham. The promise that he would be the father of many nations implied that the “blessing of Abraham would come on the Gentiles.” (Gal. 3: 14). This proved his contention that God is not the God of the Jews only. He is the God of the Gentiles also. In ch.5 : 12-21 he pursues the argument still further. All racial distinctions are obliterated and mankind is viewed as one, all having descended from Adam and all being partakers or equal sharers in the ruin brought about by his one act of disobedience. The world is divided into two families only. Adam is the head of the one, and Christ is the head of the other. And all belong either to the one family or the other. By our natural birth we all form part of the Adamic family. We are born into it and share alike in the patrimonial estate bequeathed us by our first parents. None are exempted. Receiving the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness is an essential pre-requisite to being a member of the second family. (vv. 15-17).

Adam is said to be a figure or type of Him that was to come. He is the first of many such personal types of Christ. Melchizedek, Isaac, Moses and Jonah are in this category. There are many others, who typify various aspects of the Lord’s ministry, even though they are not specifically stated to be types, such as Joseph and David. The peculiar or special aspect in which Adam typifies the Lord is clearly shown in this portion. He is the head, the representative of the human race. His action has a representative character. What he did affects all whom he represented. Its effect was universal in its dimensions. In him all are viewed as having sinned. Therefore its penalty is applicable to all alike. The word “one” occurs some 12 times in these verses. Its significance is important. We read of the “one man”- Adam in v. 12, and of “one man, Jesus Christ” (v. 15). Relative to Adam and his responsibility it is predicated that it is; “by one man sin entered.” v. 12. “By the trespass of the one many died.” v. 15. “The judgment was by one to condemnation.” v. 16. “By the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one.” v. 17. “Through the one man’s disobedience many were made (or constituted) sinners.” v. 19.

Thus the sole responsibility for our sinnership, for the fact that sin entered, abounded and reigned unto death, and for the condemnatory judgment passed upon all men bringing them under the sentence of death, is attributed to Adam. It is put at his feet: it is placed on his shoulders. But not only does the apostle emphasize that sin, condemnation and death have come through the one man Adam, but that all this has come about through his one act of disobedience. The word offence or trespass is in the singular, and in v. 18 it is specifically stated that it is “through one trespass.” The apostle is not considering or contemplating the life of Adam after his expulsion from the garden, but rather the one act which was the cause of that expulsion. It is by the one sin committed by the one man that all men have been engulfed in this ruin. The experience of the mariners in Jonah ch.1 is an apt illustration of it. It was Jonah and his one act of disobedience that was the sole cause for the storm and the raging sea.

The apostle draws both a comparison and a contrast between Adam and the Lord. Just as Adam bears the sole responsibility for sin’s entrance and its dire consequences, so Christ is the one through whom the “grace of God and the gift by grace”, the “‘gift of righteousness’ (vv. 15,17) have come. All the glory for our justification will accrue to Him. It is to Him and to Him alone that we will ascribe the glory and the praise. Just as it was by one act of trespass that judgment was passed upon man, so it is by the one act of righteousness, the one act of obedience of our Lord that we are constituted righteous. It is thereby that we are assured that we shall reign in life. It is by “one, Jesus Christ” (v. 17). Thus in contrast to the sin, condemnation and death that is man’s inheritance in Adam, and for which man does not need to lift a finger, as they are his by virtue of his racial link with his federal head—Adam, we have in v. 17 a reference to the three things that are ours in Christ. They are grace, righteousness and reigning in life. The words “we shall reign in life” apply to the future, and assure us that part with Christ in His kingdom and glory is to be ours because of His one act of righteousness The fact that sin is spoken of is suggestive of the sacrifice of Christ as the “tresspass offering” or the “guilt-offering”, the details of which arc given in Lev. S: 14-6: 7.

Both tables of the Law are covered in the instructions given. Whether the sin or trespass was against God or man it was compulsory that along with the sacrifice to be offered to remove the guilt, the principal was to be restored in full, and a fifth part was to be added thereto. Sin, as a thief, robbed man of dominion over the earth. ‘This is one aspect of the principal, and it will be restored in full in all who have been made the recipients of grace and of the gift of righteousness. While position in the kingdom will depend on the measure of the believer’s faithfulness, part in it will be his entirely because of Him who “restored that which He took not away.” If death reigned by one, “much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ.” (v. 17). The words “much more” allow of no doubt or dubiety. They strike a note of certainty even as they do in v. 15 where it is stated that the act of favour, the grace of God and the gift will abound unto many even as the trespass had. But in v.16 the apostle draws a sharp contrast between the fact that one sin led to condemnation, but that justification is pronounced after many trespasses. In v. 18 the word “all” is used with regard to both the effect of Adam’s sin and of the free gift. Even as by one trespass sentence was passed upon all men, so the free gift is unto all men. In its potentiality it is universal, but this affords no ground for universalism.

The word “many”in vv. 18, and 19 along with the definite reference to those “which receive abundance of grace . . . ” in v. I7 guard against such a false hope. But they do militate against and condemn the theory that teaches a “limited atonement” or “particular redemption,” which holds that Christ only died for the elect. The many identified with Adam by their natural birth were constituted sinners by Adam’s disobedience. They arc not and do not become sinners because they themselves have sinned but rather they sin because they are sinners. Similarly the many identified with Christ by having received grace and the gift of righteousness were considered righteous by His one act of obedience. They do not attain to a righteous standing by doing righteous deeds, but having been constituted righteous they should act righteously.

As for the law, it was an interim arrangement introduced to reveal the true character of sin. Men were sinners before the law came, for death reigned from Adam to Moses, but the law made men transgressors, and sin transgression. Adam broke a known commandment, hence his sin is said to be a transgression. But where there is no law, or known commandment there is no transgression. Through the law transgression abounded. Man’s nature is such that through the law there was an actual increase of transgressions. Thereby men are brought under condemnation, subject to the wrath of God.

The truth expounder; in this section may helpfully be considered by noting the occurrences of the word “reign”. “Sin hath reigned unto death.” v. 21. It entered, has abounded and reigns supreme in the hearts of men. It is a tyrant. “Death reined by one.” (vv. 14-17,). it sways its sceptre universally. It is the “king of terrors.” “Grace reigns . . . through righteousness.” By virtue of the fact that all the demands of justice have been met, and the requirements of the law satisfied, grace sits enthroned. “They which receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” v. 17. This is an integral part of redemption, and is therefore something in which all believers will share. All the blessings of this chapter are by the one man Jesus Christ, or through Jesus Christ our Lord. (v. 1, 11, 21).

5 : 1-l 1.

A brief review of the various aspects of justification emphasized in this important section of the epistle will be of value as we come to consider its results as they are enumerated in ch.5: l-l 1.

1. It is God that justifieth. (ch.3 : 26) (cf. 8 : 33).

As all sin, in the final analysis is against God, God and God alone can justify. He is the judge of all the earth.

2. Justification is by blood. (ch.5: 9).

Through Christ as the propitiatory the judgment or the wrath of God against sin has been expiated. Thereby the righteousness of God has been displayed, and the believer justified.

3. It is through the obedience of the one, (ch.5: 19) or by the one act of righteousness.

This refers to the death of Christ as an act done in obedience to the will of God. That act is viewed as being of a representative character, just as the paying of tithes by Abraham to Melchizedek is viewed in Heb. 7: 9-10.

4. Evidentially by the resurrection of Christ. (ch.4: 25).

As He was delivered on account of our offences, so He was raised on account of our justification. His resurrection is the proof that the requirements of righteousness were fully met in His death, hence justice demanded that He be raised from the dead. His resurrection is the receipt, as it were, that the debt has been paid in full.

5. It is by grace. (ch.3 : 24).

It is not based upon any merit in the believer. It is without a cause, or freely, as far as he is concerned. It is from ail things. (Acts 13: 39), and from every charge. (Rom. 8 : 33). It is therefore freely, fully and finally.

6. It is by faith. (ch.5 : 1).

It is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy.” The essential difference between legal or self-righteousness and faith righteousness is clearly shown in ch.10: 5-8.

7. It is by identification with Christ in His death, by the crucifixion of the old man. (ch.6: 6 -7).

He that has died is justified from sin. In this verse the believer is viewed as having passed through death in the person of his substitute and therefore as having undergone the penalty for his sin. Not only has his crime been expiated, but he himself, as the criminal, has been executed. Therefore there can be no condemnation for him.

In ch.5: 1-3 three associated blessings of justification are listed.

They cover the believer’s past, his present, and his future.

1. “Being justified by faith we have peace with God.”

Later this is implied in the words “reconciled” and “reconciliation.” All the barriers to peace with God have been removed in the death of Christ. “He made peace by the blood of His cross.” (Col. 1: 18). Therefore the apostles preached peace by Jesus Christ, and the believer possesses it by faith. He has entered into it as into a haven of rest from a raging storm. The calm and tranquility of heaven is his, nothing can ever disturb it. The change into “Let us have peace with God” in the R.V. is a difficulty. Why should an exhortation be introduced in the midst of an explanatory development of the truth? Obadiah speaks of a day when “the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions”, and the revised rendering may be taken as an exhortation to the Christian to possess his possessions, to go in and possess the land. Let us enjoy the peace that is ours; let us live in the conscious enjoyment of the fact that we have been reconciled.

2. “Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.” v. 2.

These words are similar to those of Eph. 2: 18: “Through Him we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” “The word ‘access’ is from a Greek word which refers to the act of one who secures for another an interview with a sovereign.” (K.Wuest). The believer has been brought into, or introduced into a place of favour and acceptance, as a result of which he has confidence and access at all times into the presence of God. (Eph. 3: 12). This is his present portion.

3. Through whom also we “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

In our use of the word “hope” as for instance in “We hope for the best” or “We hoped that the operation would have been a success” an element of doubt and a note of uncertainty is implied, but that is not so in the scriptures. On the contrary it strikes a note of absolute certainty. This should be ever kept in mind. This hope is as sure as the dawn. It towers on the horizon as a sun-lit peak, a glory capped mountain. The pathway to it may be arduous, and the conflict strenuous, but because such tribulation produces endurance, which in turn produces a realization of divine approval, the consciousness of being well pleasing to the Lord, the apostle speaks of rejoicing or glorying in them. They wean the soul from earthly things, reminding the Christian that his inheritance is not here and that he is passing through an enemy’s land. They focus the attention on “the hope” which we are assured will not deceive us or disappoint us. It will not put us to shame. The words “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed” are quoted in ch.9: 33 and 10: 11. In these the death and resurrection of Christ are the basis for such confidence, whereas in 5: 5 it is the blessed hope, the coming again of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that begets this confident assurance. This is corroborated by the apostle Peter in his 1st epistle, ch.1.

In the instructions concerning the feast of first fruits as detailed in Lev. 23: 9-14. it is specifically stated that they were not to eat either bread or parched or green ears until the self same day that they had brought an offering to God. That: was to be a permanent statute, to be observed throughout their generations. Not till God’s claims were recognized and met could their needs be satisfied. Christ in resurrection is the fulfilment of that which was foreshadowed in the waving of the sheaf of first-fruits. Seeing He is risen we are at liberty to partake of these bounties. These three-bread, parched corn and the green ears may well illustrate the three blessings we have drawn attention to in these verses, peace, access and hope. Every provision has been made for our spiritual sustenance, so that we may well sing with the hymn-writer.

“Is the wilderness before thee?

Desert lands where drought abides.

Heavenly springs shall there restore thee,

Fresh from God’s exhaustless tide.”

The firm foundation on which this hope rests is further expanded in vv. 5-11. The third of the triple graces, faith, hope and love, is introduced, the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit which has been given to the believer. This is the first reference to love in the epistle. Later we read of the love of Christ, and the love of the Spirit. (8: 35; 15: 30) and of the love of the brethren. (12: 9). These triple graces form a threefold cord which is not easily broken. The Holy Spirit first mentioned here is said to be the unconditional gift of God to the Christian. The love of God shed forth in the heart will make the individual a channel through whom it will effectively manifest itself to others. The Holy Spirit also leads the believer to contemplate that love as demonstrated in the death of Christ for us. (v. 8).

Our unregenerate or unconverted state is emphasized in a fourfold way in vv. 6-10. By nature man is helpless, he is without strength, he cannot accomplish anything for his salvation. He is like a drowning man who has ceased to struggle. Men in general are ungodly. It is not a term which is descriptive of some only, but of all. As such they are sinners also. They are guilty of sin, that which is hateful to God, and constitutes them enemies. The apostle argues that if when we were in such a state God loved us and Christ died for us. then “much more” will we be saved by the presence and ministry of Christ at God’s right hand. The security of the believer and his immunity from wrath in the day of wrath when the vials of wrath will be poured out on the world is thereby guaranteed. Having been reconciled we shall be “saved from wrath through Him”; “we shall be saved by His life.”

Reconciliation, like justification, is entirely a work of God, accomplished through the death of Christ. Man can no more reconcile himself to God than he can justify himself. In the death of Christ the barriers to peace with God were all removed, hence in the gospel message God proclaims an amnesty, a reconciliation which the believer receives. (2. Cor. 5: 21; Eph. 2: 16; Cal. I ; 21). Reconciliation is not a work of the Spirit in the believer, hut a work of Christ on his behalf. The verb is in the passive voice: “we were reconciled . . .” we were made the subjects of God’s reconciling mercy and grace. Hence we exult, we glory or we rejoice in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ God is both for us and with us. (8: 31). There can be no cancellation of His purposes of grace.

This section of the epistle (ch.5: 1-I I) finds a fitting illustration in the 9th chapter of Leviticus, where we have a record of what transpired on the eighth day, the day following the consecration of the priestly family. A comparison of the two will be of value to elucidate both.

“And Moses said: This is the thing which the Lord commanded that ye should do; and the glory of the Lord shall appear unto you.” (v 6).

The record of the “people’s offering” and what followed it is given in vv. 15-24. The offerings which were offered have had their fulfilment in the one offering of Christ. The order in which they were offered is significant, as it corresponds to the order in which the truth of the gospel is revealed in this epistle, and apprehended by the individual.

When all the congregation drew near and stood before the Lord, the first offering which they witnessed being offered for them was the goat of the sin-offering, which is a type of the death of Christ putting away sin. In the epistle to the Hebrews it is spoken of as a sacrifice for sins and a sacrifice for sin. (sins: 1: 3; 2:15; 9: 28; 10: 12; Sin: 9: 26). The same is true of the way the truth is expounded in Romans. “He was delivered on account of our offences.” “He died for the ungodly”; and “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is the first note in the message of the gospel; it is that which purges the conscience, for it gives assurance of sins forgiven. As the congregation viewed the goat for the sin-offering being slain and consumed in the fire of fury outside the camp they rejoiced as one step had been taken toward the fulfilment of the promise that the glory of the Lord would appear. Then they witnessed the burnt-offering, or the ascending-offering being offered on the altar. As the sin offering had covered their guilt, the burnt-offering became a sweet savour for them before God. The burnt-offering is spoken of as the ascending offering because it ascended to God as a sweet savour. It finds its complete fulfilment in “Christ raised again for, or on account of, our justification.” In its acceptance the believer is accepted, and the measure of his acceptance is the measure in which Christ is accepted.

Following the offering of the burnt-offering with its accompanying meal-offering, the bullock and the ram were slain as the sacrifice of peace-offering. The fat of both was burnt on the altar, while the breasts and the shoulders became the portion and food of the offerer. How wonderfully this corresponds with Rom. 5: 1 “Being justified by faith, let us have peace”. . . that is let us enjoy the peace which is ours. It is not the statement that we have peace merely, but an exhortation to feed upon the breast and shoulder, emblematic of love and power. With sin removed and the believer accepted in Christ there remains no hindrance to the full enjoyment of peace.

It is instructive to note also that the meal-offering which was offered with the burnt-offering was the one mingled with oil, the second of the three kinds mentioned in Lev. 2. The first was fine flour with oil poured on it, and the third was an oblation of green ears dried with oil put on them, but the second was the meal-offering baken in an oven (v. 4); in a pan (v. 5) or in a frying pan (v. 7). Each of these depicts suffering and tribulation, whether hidden or public, and is therefore a fit picture of the sufferings of Christ which the believer is called to share as described in Rom. 5: 3-5. The tribulation produces patience, or endurance in turn produces approval, and this produces hope which will never lead to a confusion of face, because the love of God is poured into the heart by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us. This is the meal-offering mingled with oil, the oil of the Holy Spirit. The meal offering thus mingled with oil when offered on the altar was an offering of a sweet-smelling savour unto the Lord. Similarly the believer is to be a sweet-savour of Christ. (2. Cor. 2: 14-15).

Consequent upon offering these offerings Aaron blessed the people, and both Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle, while the congregation waited outside for their return in anticipation of the manifestation of the glory of the Lord. The ministry of Moses and Aaron, hidden from the eyes of the assembly, finds its antitype in Rom. 5: 9-10. “Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him,” “Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” In v. 9 it is the PERSON of Christ, the perfectness of His character, while in v. 10 it is His MINISTRY that is emphasized. The one is typified by Moses, whose meekness is spoken of in such a wonderful way, and the other by Aaron, whose ministry was so important to Israel. As apostle and priest they typify Him who today is in the presence of God for us. He is hidden from the eyes of the congregation of His saints who wait His return, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. But as the congregation of Israel did not wait in vain, but witnessed the appearance of the glory of the Lord at the re-appearance of their apostle and priest, so we today do not wait in vain. Soon He will return. The morning of the 8th day, that began with the offering of the sin and burnt-offering, did not end in a dark night of gloom, but in a blaze of glory such as Israel had never before witnessed. The sight of the glory converted them from a waiting congregation to a worshipping multitude. They shouted and fell on their faces.

This is only a miniature of what will happen when He who is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession will return and shout His own “in clouds” to meet Him in the air, resulting in that triumphant shout, “Death is swallowed up in victory”, and the eternal worship of that innumerable host. It should be remembered also that this chapter in Lev. is a foreshadowing of what is depicted in the Hebrew epistle with regard to Israel. For them He will appear again “without sin unto salvation.”

(Chapters 6-8)

“I have redeemed thee . . . thou art mine.” (Isa.43: 1). These words are echoed by the apostle in his letters to the Corinthians; “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price.” (1. Cor. 6: 18-19). The redeemed become the acquired possession of the redeemer, and His rights are not to be alienated. The prophet Ezekiel solemnly reminded the nation of Israel concerning this: “I entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine.” (ch.15 : 8). This relationship carried with it certain spiritual and moral obligations. They were to be characterized by righteousness and holiness. “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” This is a prominent note in the book of Leviticus, with which this section of the epistle is compared in the chart. The first section emphasizes, as has been pointed out, man’s ruin and condemnation, the second justification, but the section we are now to consider is occupied with sanctification, closing with resurrection and glorification. These four cardinal truths of the gospel correspond to the four sides of the altar of burnt-offering. The north side was where the victim was slain, (Lev. 1: 11). It was there the blood was shed, It was there that the individual learnt that his guilt deserved judgment, and that his salvation depended upon another’s suffering and death. This is the first lesson to be apprehended by the soul.

From the cold shadowy north side the forgiven sinner was led to the east side, the side of the ashes, the side of the sunrise. (Lev. 1: 16). The ashes were evidence that the sacrifice had been accepted. It was over the ashes that the priests blew the silver trumpets. It was there the 120 priests and Levites stood making one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord.

(2. Chron.5: 12). This side proclaims justification from all things, and points to the resurrection as its proof. Thence the soul in its experimental journey is taken to the sunny shadowless south side, whence flowed the mighty river of Ezekiel that brought life whithersoever it flowed. This corresponds to the coming of the Holy Spirit in response to a glorified man in heaven, the one and only secret of a holy life. It is with this that Romans 6-8 is occupied. Nothing is said with regard to the west side of the altar, but it was the side of the sunset, the side which faced the sanctuary, God’s dwelling place. As the altar was four-square, so each of these four basic truths of the gospel are of equal importance. The first chapters of Leviticus with their instruction concerning the sacrifices and the offerer being identified with the sacrificial victim in its death by the laying on of his hands upon it adumbrate the truth of the believer’s identification with Christ in His death and resurrection which is the basis of the doctrine unfolded in this section of the epistle.

In the preceding section (chs.3: 21-5: 21) the gratuitous justification of the Jew and Gentile alike was shown to be perfectly consistent with the righteousness of God. The righteous claims of God’s throne with respect to sin are seen to have been met and exonorated. Therefore in justifying him “who is of faith in Jesus” God is just. The law had magnified and accentuated human sin and guilt: in its light sin was seen in its true character; it had abounded. But where sin had thus abounded, where it had reached its high-water-mark, grace had overflowed, it had super-abounded: Grace now reigned. This tremendous statement poses two problems; “Should we continue in sin that grace may abound ?’ and “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?“ Involved in this question and behind the problems it poses is the doubt as to whether the gospel is consistent with the holiness of God. It is this that makes the answer so crucially important. Later in the epistle (chs.9-l I) it is clearly established that the gospel is equally consistent with the faithfulness of God also. It does not impinge or negative any of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or David. They are yet to be implemented with universal blessing.


The answer to the question raised by the legalist who objected to the gospel of the grace of God preached by the apostle is given in v. 2. “God forbid”, or “far be the thought.” “How shall we who have died, or who died to sin, live any longer therein?” The answer is definite. It is terse and unequivocal. There is no room for ambiguity. For the Christian to continue in sin is totally incompatible with and a denial of his relationship to sin. He is said to have died to it. The verb tense is indicative of a specific past event. ‘The verses which follow (3-14) are an exposition and application of this truth. In vv. 1-11 death is referred to in almost every verse. Verses 3-14 fall into four paragraphs.

1. The illustration, the believer buried with Christ in baptism. vv. 3-s.

2. The exposition, the believer crucified with Christ. vv. 6-8.

3. The exposition, the death of Christ in relation to sin. vv. 9-10.

4. The exhortation with its practical outcome in the believer’s life. vv. 11-14.

If verses 3-10 are considered in their reverse order it will be seen that the apostle views the problem in a three-fold light or from a three-fold angle.

1. The problem viewed in the light of the death of Christ. VV. 9-10.

Christ died unto sin once for all. It is the permanent and abiding effect of the death of Christ in its relation to sin that is emphasized in these verses. This is echoed in Hebrews 9 : 26 and elsewhere. “But now once in the end of the age hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” “He was once offered . . .”That offering is never to be repeated. “Never again will God Jehovah smite the Shepherd with the sword, or sinners set at naught our glorious Lord.” Having died unto sin once, He now lives unto God. Death has no more dominion over Him. There is no need for Him to die again, for the question of sin has been settled once for all time and once for all eternity. For the Christian to continue in sin would be a denial of this known and acknowledged fact. The apostle’s argument is based upon the finality of the redemptive work of Christ. What is taught in vv. 3-8 flows or stems from this. “The WORDS ‘He died UNTO SIN’ CANNOT POSSIBLY have any subjective CONNOTATION. BY HIS DEATH HE settled the SIN-QUESTION.” (Haldane).

2. The problem viewed in the light of the crucifixion of the old man with Christ. vv. 6-8.

In these verses the union of the believer with Christ in death and resurrection with its beatific results is explicitly taught. It is emphasized by three distinct and definite statements, each of which should be considered separately.

(a) “Knowing this that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” v. 6. Reference is made to the “old man” in two other scriptures only. Eph. 4: 22 and Col. 3: 9. In these it is contrasted with the “new man” which is “created in righteousness and true holiness.” This is similar to the way in which the new covenant is contrasted with the old in Hebrew 8: 13. “In that he saith a new covenant, he hath made the first old . . .” Just as the old covenant is the first covenant, so the old man may be taken as a generic term for the first man. It refers to what man is by nature, to what he is in Adam as a man in the flesh, and is to give place to the new man, which is created after the image of the second man, the Lord from heaven. Associated with the “old man” is the “old bottle” and the “old garment” which are to be discarded. At the cross “our old man” was crucified with Him. There all that pertained to the old man was judicially condemned and brought under the judgment of God, in order that the body of sin might be destroyed. This is the first of seven references to the human body in these three chapters. It is similar to the words used of the Lord in ch.8: 3. where it is said that He came in the likeness of the “flesh of sin.”

The flesh in its material sense is not sinful or holy, and neither is the body the seat of sin. That is in the mind, in the will, in the heart. Hence asceticism, or ill-treating the body is of no value to control or subjugate the flesh in its ethical sense. In Col. 3: 5 we are exhorted to “mortify the members which are upon the earth; fornication . . . covetousness” etc. Some consider that the “body of sin” represents the sum total of these members viewed as an organic whole, but the context and the other references to the body in the chapter favour the view that interprets it as referring to the human body as the channel or means whereby sin seeks to captivate the soul. Later we read of the law of sin in the members of the body. (7: 23). The word rendered “destroyed” does not mean to annihilate, but to annul or rob of its power. Therefore its use here affords no basis for the false theory of eradication. The word is used elsewhere of the death of Christ in its relation to the devil (Heb. 2: 14), and the law (2. Cor. 3: 7-14). But it does mean that the believer’s former slavery to sin has been cancelled, just as the nation of Israel was set at liberty from the dominion of Pharaoh by their experience at the Red Sea.

(b) “For he that has died is freed, or justified, from sin.” Here the believer is >viewed as a criminal who has suffered the extreme penalty of the law, as having died on account of sin. Thereby his history as a man in the flesh has been brought to an end. The files have been closed. His case will never be taken up again. Hence for him there can be no condemnation. He is justified, legally freed or discharged. The word translated “freed’ in this verse is used some 40 times in the New Testament, and always translated by the word “justified”. The believer is thus set legally free by virtue of his union with Christ in crucifixion and death.

(c) “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (v.8). The verbs in this section are in the past tense (aorist) and refer to “a specific past act.” (Hodge). The “if” is not the if of doubt, but of argument. It is the basis for his reasoning and the conclusion which he draws. The closing words of v. 8 “we believe that we shall also live with him” are echoed in the exhortation of v. 11, where we are told that we are to reckon that we are “alive unto God in Christ Jesus.” They do not refer to the eternal future, but to the life the believer is to live here on earth. It is to be the normal Christian life.

W. Kelly draws attention to the different words used for knowing in vs. 6 and 9. We only know the facts and the truth taught in vv. 6-8 regarding the “old man” having been crucified with Christ because God has revealed them. It is not knowledge gained by experience. It is what God reckons to have been judicially accomplished in the death of Christ. This is the Christian’s fortress, his strong tower, his place of refuge and safety. Hence for the believer to continue in sin, after having died to it, would be a denial of what is involved in his salvation, his identification with Christ.

3. The problem viewed in the light of the believer’s baptism. vv. 3-5.

“Are you ignorant that at your baptism you were baptized into His death?” and that by baptism you were buried with Him into death, planted together in the likeness of His death to the intent that we should walk in the newness of life, possessed of a new kind of life and be in the likeness of His resurrection. Again this does not refer to the believer in his future resurrection state, but is to be paralleled with v. 8 and v. 10. We are to live unto God as is predicated of our Lord in v. 10. The words, “Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death” and “planted together in the likeness of His death” are decisive in favour of the view that the baptism referred to in the verses is the baptism of believers in water. The waters of baptism are a symbolic grave in which the Christian is symbolically buried and out of which he is symbolically raised as from the dead. It is a graphic portrayal of the Christian’s union with Christ.

It is the demand, or the answer, that which corresponds to the way the believer received a good conscience. It is foreshadowed in the waters of Noah, the Red Sea and the river Jordan. Noah was delivered from the doom of the ungodly, and Israel was delivered from the dominion of Pharaoh, and later introduced into the land. Hence for the Christian to continue in sin would be a denial of the truth he professed to embrace at his baptism. Thus in vv. 9-10 the truth is stated in its relation to Christ and his death and resurrection with no reference to the believer. In vv. 6-8 we have the truth of the believer’s union with Christ in crucifixion and resurrection with no reference to burial, whereas in vv. 3-5 we have the Christian’s union with Christ in burial and resurrection symbolized in the ordained rite of baptism. Implicit in it as being the “likeness of His death” is the idea of voluntary submission, complete submersion and also of a true emergence into a new life.

Because it is said that we are “baptized into Christ” it is thought by some that the baptism referred to cannot be baptism in water but in the Spirit. By interpreting it as baptism in water it is maintained that thereby we must accept the theory that at baptism or by being baptized the individual is united to Christ in a spiritual way, which would be tantamount to baptismal salvation or baptismal regeneration. This is the attitude adopted by those who, in varying degrees, accept the teaching of the late Dr. Bullinger that baptism has no place in the Church as the body of Christ. To accept any doctrine which would imply that any rite or ceremony has any place or part in a person’s salvation would be a denial of the basic doctrines of grace so clearly and emphatically taught by the apostle in the earlier chapters of the epistle.

This is corroborated in the words of v. 6 where spiritual union with Christ in crucifixion is said to be a work of God. In the language of the epistle to the Colossians it is a “circumcision made without hand’s”. It is spiritual rather than physical or material. It is a cutting off of the “body of the flesh” rather than a mere member: it is complete rather than partial. And it was accomplished in the “circumcision of Christ,” that is, when He was “cut off out of the land of the living.” (Col. 2: 11; Isa.53: 8). The mere rite of baptism cannot bring a person into living union with Christ. It is only of value when there has been a real work of the Spirit of God in the heart. Union with Christ was brought about by co-crucifixion with him, and baptism is the burial of one thus identified with Christ in death.

The words “baptized into Christ” are understood as referring to baptism in water in the light of the fact that the symbol stands for the reality just as the currency note of any country is accepted at its face value though it has no actual value in itself. A currency note has no intrinsic value, but it is accepted as having the value of that which it represents. Baptism is only of value if it is preceded by a true spiritual experience.

In the Gospels and in the Acts wherever baptism in water is referred to, the words “in water” do not occur as a general rule. The exceptions are few. The words do not occur in the commission of Matt. 28 : 19-20, or in the record of the baptism on the day of Pentecost, or in Corinth. (Acts 2: 42; 18: 8; I. Cor. I : 13-17). But that they refer to baptism in water is taken for granted. But wherever the baptism in the Spirit is the subject it is distinctly specified. This supplies us with a key to the understanding of the words in the epistles. It will be found that the same principle or rule applies. Whether for the Jew or the Gentile, there is but “one baptism” even as of circumcision it was stated, “Ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.” (Num. 9 : 14).

In the preceding chapters of the epistle there is but one reference to the Holy Spirit, in ch.5 : 5 where we read of the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.” The next reference is in ch.7 : 6 “that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” But in ch.8 the apostle enters fully into the teaching relative to the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. But as he is concerned with the believer in his individual capacity rather than with the church or the assembly, there is no reference to the baptism in the one Spirit. That is referred to in 1. Car. 12. 13 where it is stated that “in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body. . .”This is in contrast to the baptism in water which is said to be unto death.

4. The problem viewed in the light of the believer’s responsibility.

The exhortation. vv. 11-14. Three things are urged upon the Christian in the exhortation. They are closely inter-related like the three points of a triangle.

(a) “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.”

In ch.5 the believer is assured of “peace with God”, of “joy in God” and of ‘rgrace reigning through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” But in chs.6-8 the Christian is viewed as “in Christ Jesus”. The difference is important. It relates to our position as identified with Christ in death and resurrection. The word “likewise” is also to be noted. It is the translation of the words rendered “even so” in 5 : 2 1; 6 : 4; 6 : 19. It indicates the way in which the believer is to reckon himself to be dead unto sin. He is to reckon that he has died unto sin in the same way that Christ died unto sin, and in no other way. He is not told that he is to reckon himself dead to the sense of inward sin, or to the impulses or temptations and allurements of sin, for to suggest that Christ died to sin in that way would be blasphemy.

He died on account of sin: He died to its penalty. And the believer having died with Him is thereby discharged from sin. He is legally freed from sin’s doom. He is justified or acquitted, v. 7. The words “died” or “dead to sin” have no moral connotation, but to the legal disjunction from sin and its penalty, as pointed out by Haldane and others. The believer is not called upon to reckon on something which is not true to fact. He is judicially free from sin. That is his status legally before God. This is his stronghold, his position of strength. The claims of sin having been righteously met he is now alive unto God, quickened with Christ.

(b) “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof.”

Mark the word “reign.” It does not mean dwell, for later in the epistle we read of the “sin that dwelleth in me.” (7 : 20). The phrase “the body of sin” (v. 6) indicates that the body is the citadel which sin has taken control of as its base of operations in its aim to subjugate the individual to its laws, which are said to be engraved upon its members. Sin acts as an organized power through the physical members. Though the body is said to have been destroyed or robbed of its power as the body of sin, yet it still exists. It still has its lusts, its desires. As Moule says, “these desires are potentially, if not actually, desires away from God. Cancelled does not mean annihilated, The body exists, and sin exists, and desires exist. It is for you to say: Thou shalt not reign.” The body of the believer is a mortal body, just as the non-Christian’s body is. The penalty passed on man’s body because of sin is not removed at conversion. Death and decay still prevail. But just as the “old man” has been crucified, the old monarch, sin, has been dethroned. It shall not have dominion over you. “Let not sin therefore reign.” The child of God is not to be under the control of bodily appetites which are contrary to the will of God.

(c) “Neither yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

In this verse the truth is stated negatively and then positively. Note should be taken of the different tenses of the verb “yield”. The Christian is not to “continuously yield his members to sin”, but he should “once for all yield himself to God . . .” Just as there are seven references to the body in these three chapters so there are seven references to the members. This is the first of the seven. At the cleansing of the leper and the consecration of the priests blood was placed upon the right ear, the thumb of the right hand and the great toe of the right foot illustrative of the fact that the Christian’s body and its members are to be brought under the power of the cross. The eye, the ear, the tongue, the hand and the feet are not to be yielded to sin but yielded as instruments of righteousness unto God. There must be a wholehearted response to the claims of God upon us, a recognition that the life is now under a new government, We owe our allegiance to a new sovereign. Thereby we shall be delivered from sin and its dominion. Abounding grace sets the believer free from the doom of sin, and grace reigning through righteousness sets us free from the power of sin. The grace of God is to govern the Christian. He is not under law but under grace. This is almost an echo of the statement in 5: 21 regarding grace reigning, and it immediately gives rise lo the second question which, doubtless had often been asked by the legalizers in their discussions with the apostle.


“What then? shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (6: 15). The Judaizing objector believed that removing the restraints of the law, and putting Christians under grace was an open invitation for them to sin, an open invitation to license, and to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. The answer to this objection is in two parts. In
ch.6: 15-23 the fallacy of such an objection is exposed, and in ch.7 the futility of putting the Christian under the law is expounded. The words “Know ye not. . .” (6: 16; 7: 1) indicate the connection.

Answer A. The fallacy exposed. 6 : 16-23.

The apostle insists that only by the law of liberty can the individual Christian’s profession of faith be tested. The person’s life will, of necessity, either verify or vilify his profession. When the raven was let out of the ark it never returned. It was glad of its liberty to feed on the abundant carrion which must have been floating around. But that was no reason why the liberty of the dove should be curtailed. The principle enunciated by the Lord, “No man can serve two masters” is applied to the problem and points the way to the solution and the silencing of the objector. Sin in this section is viewed as a master, a tyrannical hard taskmaster. The line of demarcation is clearly drawn. A man is either a slave of sin issuing in death or of obedience issuing in righteousness. The word rendered “righteousness” five times in this chapter (vv. 13, 16, 18, 19, 20) is not the word for justification (4: 25, 5: 18). It rather refers to conduct, to character, to right and correct action, to a way of life. The apostle’s answer in v. 16 is clear and definite; it allows of no dubiety; it is categorical. It is then expanded in vv. 17-23. In these verses the apostle crystallizes his readers’ past, present and future. He gives thanks for their conversion; he exhorts them to true consecration, and unveils to them the final consummation.

1. Their conversion.

This had been real, genuine and effective. They had been liberated from the servitude and slavery to sin. Theirs had been no counterfeit experience. Their lives had been revolutionized by their obedience to the gospel. The mould of doctrine to which they had been delivered had been formative of a true Christian character and conduct. The form or mould of doctrine is an apt reminder of the believer’s union with Christ in death, burial and resurrection as symbolized in baptism. They were ashamed of their fruitless past when righteousness had no claim on their lives whatsoever. By an inwrought work of the Spirit of God they had become the slaves of righteousness. God multiply such converts. Those who would advocate putting the Christian under rules and regulations, or under law fail to realize the dynamic power that is inherent in the gospel when it is obeyed, when there is a true submission of heart to its message. True faith and obedience are synonymous. Having been made free from the dominion of sin they had become the slaves of righteousness.

2. Their consecration.

“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh.” The term “flesh” is used some 28 times in the epistle. The number itself may be significant. It is used in a variety of ways as well, and with a variety of meanings. The context in each case has to determine its meaning.

a. It is used of the material of the human body, as in 2: 28. “circumcision which is outward in the flesh.” 8 : 3. “In the likeness of the flesh of sin.”

b. It is used of man in general-Jew and Gentile alike-as in 3: 20. “By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

c . Paul uses it when speaking of his own kindred, his own nation. 9 : 3 ; 11: 14. “My kinsmen, according to the flesh.” 4: 1, “Abraham, our father as pertaining to the flesh.”

d. It is used of the humanity and lineage of the Lord. 1: 3. “of the seed of David according to the flesh.” 9: 5. “ of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came.”

e. It is used of man’s natural state as viewed by the Lord. 7: 5. “When we were in the flesh.” 8 : 9. “But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit.”

f. It is used to denote our fleshly nature, as inherently and incorrigibly evil. 8: 6. “For the mind of the flesh is enmity against God . . .” 7: 25. “So I myself . . . with the flesh serve the law of sin . . .” 7: 18. “In my flesh there dwelleth no good thing.”

g. It is used in the sense of being weak.

In the garden the Lord referred to the natural physical weakness when he spoke to the disciples, “The flesh is weak. . .” But this inherent weakness may have a moral or ethical aspect also as in 8:3.“The law… was weak through the flesh . . .” 6: 19. “The infirmity of the flesh.” Some would suggest that the infirmity of the flesh referred to is intellectual, that the apostle used an illustration to reinforce his exhortation, because of their lack of ability to understand the truth. But such a view rather evades and dulls the sharpness of the very sober warning contained in the verse.

They are reminded of their past in unmistakably plain language. The words suggest profligacy of the worst kind. They had been slaves of impurity and lawlessness, possibly of the kind catalogued in the first chapter. Such iniquity had led to even greater iniquity, to greater lawlessness. This made them peculiarly vulnerable to yield to or relapse to their former habits of life. The apostle infers, speaking humanly, that there was the ever present danger of their being overtaken by their former sins, by the sins which characterized them when they knew nothing of the restraints of righteousness.

On account of this weakness they were to yield their members as weapons unto righteousness with a view to holiness. Believers need to realize and to remember that it is only by a wholehearted devotion to the Lord that they can be preserved from a relapse into whatever way they served sin in their unconverted days. To relax in the race is to give the flesh the opportunity it seeks to overtake us. When Peter followed afar off he got into a serious situation which led to his denial of the Lord with oaths and curses. In all likelihood, that was a case of reverting to type, to the kind of language he had been accustomed to in the days before he became a disciple of John the Baptist. When the Lord called Moses to go to Egypt to deliver His people, he demurred saying “I am a man of uncircumcised lips.” He was very conscious of the fact the he was hasty of speech, and may be of temper as was manifest when he slew the Egyptian.

However 40 years in the land of Midian as a shepherd had taught him many lessons. He had learned patience. But when 120 years old the same hasty spirit re-asserted itself, and at Meribah he lost his temper, spake unadvisedly with his lips and thereby lost his reward. Such infirmity of the flesh constitutes a very real danger to all Christians. We need to be fully aware of it. When Israel came out of Egypt there was “not a feeble one amongst them.” (Ps. 105: 37). But it was not long before Amalek fought against them, and it is recorded that he “smote the hindmost of them, even all that were feeble.” (Deut. 25 : 18). Later King Arad took some of them prisoners. These things happened for our example and have been recorded for our learning. So in view of the “infirmity of the flesh” let us press on in company with the apostle who said, when he was nearing the end, “I press toward the mark.”

3. The consummation.

After drawing attention to the reality of their conversion and exhorting them to “perfect holiness in the fear of God”, the apostle directs their eyes to the far distant horizon, the final consummation, the eternal glory in the life of bliss and communion with God. Obedience to sin spells death, and the end of a life such as they had lived is death, and the wages that sin will mete out to its slaves is death. But Satan seeks to blind men to the awful reality of that end. In contrast to such a catastrophic end, the Christian’s life is summed up in four concise statements of tremendous import.

The first is freedom from sin’s dominion, sin’s power, just as Israel had been liberated from being the slaves of Pharaoh. The second is vitally associated with the first. They had become, by an act of God, slaves of obedience, of righteousness and of God (v. 16,18,22). This in turn produced fruit unto holiness, a purity of life and a separation from evil. Such is the path of the just: it shines more and more until the day be fully come. (Prov. 4: 18). The end is eternal life. The gift referred to in v. 23 is the “gift of righteousness” mentioned in 5. 17. This and its associated “abundance of grace” is the basic assurance of this glorious consummation.

In reviewing the first part of the answer of the apostle to the one who objected to the Christian being put under grace, it is seen that emphasis is laid upon four matters of cardinal importance which the objector ignores. The message of the gospel insists that compromise is a spiritual impossibility. (v. 16 ). Just as the word “death” is the key word in the first half of ch.6 so “servants” is the key word in the second. The word thus translated is the word for “bondslave”. A person is either the slave of sin or of obedience. The Christian is one who, constrained by the love of Christ, is prepared to receive the marks, the brands of a slave. (Ex. 21: l-6). There can be no duplicity: there must be integrity.

Moreover the message of the gospel is a dynamic. Hence conversion is a spiritual reality. The experience of the apostle himself is one of the greatest illustrations of this. He who once sought to destroy the faith became its greatest promoter. Grace accomplishes what law cannot. It leads to true liberty.

Implicit in the gospel message also is the fact that consecration is a spiritual necessity. It is by dedication and devotion to the Lord and not by the restraints of the law that the believer is to be preserved from a lapse through the “infirmity of the flesh.” It produces sanctity-fruit unto holiness.

Then finally the gospel produces a shame in the believer as he thinks of his past life in view of what the end of such a life is. The consummation is to have a priority. Consequently the Christian is to be more concerned with eternal things than the temporal. He is one who should be seeking to live his life in the light of eternity. There was a time when certain preachers were known as eternity men. Contemplating the goal, the glory that lay ahead buoyed the apostle when he was in the dungeon, and it made a psalmist of Samuel Rutherford when he was incarcerated. Time, how fast its fleeting! Eternity, how sure its dawning!

Answer B. The futility of putting the Christian under the law expounded. (7: l-25).

In the earlier chapters of the epistle the apostle establishes very clearly the doctrine of justification by grace independent of all merit on the part of the individual and totally independent of any rite or ceremony or any deeds of the law. Now he proceeds to establish that the believer is sanctified independent of the law or of any legal self-effort. The argument of ch.7 does not deal with the matter of peace with God or of acceptance with God, or of obtaining eternal life, but of fruit for God in the life and how to produce it as stated by F. W. Grant in The Numerical Bible.

“As we approach the contents of this chapter, Denney’s comment is helpful. The subject of ch.6 is continued. The apostle shows how by death the Christian is freed from the law, which, good as it is in itself and in the Divine intention, nevertheless, owing to the corruption of man’s nature, instead of making him good, it perpetually stimulates sin. w. l-6 describe the liberation from the law; vv. 7-13 the actual working of the law; and in w. 14-25 we are shown that the working of the law is not due to anything in itself, but to the power of sin in the flesh.” (Wuest).

In the chapter we read of “law” without the article; “the law” with the article (v. 7,12,14) and of the “law of God” (vv. 22-25). In some instances the word is used to denote a certain principle in the same way as we speak of the law of gravity. The words of v. 21. “I find then a law that when I would do good, evil is present with me” illustrates this usage of the word. We also read of “the commandment” as referring to the whole law, which was ordained to life (v. 20), and as referring to a specific commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.” (v. 7). These references indicate that the law embodying the ten commandments, which was given to Israel at Sinai, and its authority and ministry, is what is discussed by the apostle in the chapter.

Viewed in this light the law is synonymous with the first covenant or the old covenant which was inaugurated at Mt. Sinai. (Ex. 24). Much, if not most of what is sometimes called the ceremonial law was added later after the Tabernacle had been erected. “And the Lord called unto Moses and spake unto him out of the Tabernacle of the congregation saying. . .” (Lev. 1: 1). The sacrifices which were then ordained were a provision of grace in view of Israel’s failure. Because of the one sacrifice for sin offered at Calvary they are now obsolete. They are no longer valid. There remains no more sacrifice for sin in that elaborate system. It has all been superceded and set aside. And the law, the first covenant has been done away. It has been annulled. The scriptures do not draw a line of demarcation between the moral and ceremonial law as is often suggested. Each is an integral part of the covenant, often referred to as the law which was given by Moses. The ethical or moral principles contained in it, or that is termed its “righteous requirements” abide. They are supra-dispensational, so they are re-stated and embodied in the epistles of the New Testament. But as a covenant the law has been abrogated. This cancels out the rite of circumcision and the observance of days, such as the Sabbath.

The fact that the law has been annulled is established beyond any doubt by a consideration of the metaphorical expressions used in this connection in the epistles of the New Testament. Figuratively the law is spoken of in many ways. These may be tabulated.

1. The husband. (Rom. 7: l-6).

The believer is said to be dead to it, and brought to living union with Christ in resurrection. These verses should be compared with Gal. 4: 1-6 in order to see their dispensational significance. The authority of the law terminated at the cross.

2. “The letter”. (Rom. 7: 6; 2. Cor. 3: 6).

It was the letter engraven in stones, which specifically refers to the decalogue. It is a “ministration of death” and “of condemnation” (2. Cor. 3: 7-9). The inauguration of that covenant was glorious. It was ushered in with a blaze of glory. The face of Moses shone, but it was a fading glory, a glory that was to pass away. It was temporary in contrast to the “glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2. Cor. 4: 4-6). That glory is an abiding glory. Hence the gospel is the gospel of the glory of Christ. Just as the glory in the face of Moses was to be done away, so was the ministry of the letter to be done away. (v. 1 I). The ministry of the letter has been superceded by the ministry of the Spirit. The ministry of the letter killeth, but that of the Spirit giveth life, as illustrated in the fact that 3000 died at the foot of Sinai whereas 3000 were saved at Pentecost. At his first miracle Moses turned water into blood, but the Lord turned water into wine.

3. “Our schoolmaster” (Gal. 3: 24).

The word is not to be understood as suggesting that the law is an instructor leading souls to Christ. It was a guardian, a tutor or governor introduced as an interim arrangement until the time appointed of the Father. It kept those under its custody as in ward, in a fold, or in a prison. (Gal. 3: 23-4: 7).

4. “Cast out the bond-woman and her son.”

(Gal. 4. 21-31). In his allegorical treatment of this event the Sinaitic covenant is represented by Hagar. As she was a bond-woman, so Mt. Sinai the law-genders to bondage. Ishmael could not be an heir with Isaac. So “the law and the gospel cannot co-exist.” (Lightfoot).

5. The “yoke of bondage” (Acts 15 : 10; Gal. 5 : 1).

Peter refers to it as a “yoke which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.” It is an unbearable yoke. Paul exhorts the Galatians not to be entangled in it.

6. “The middle wall of partition.”

It separated the Jews from the Gentiles. While the expression includes the whole of the Jewish economy, it more specifically refers to the “law of commandments,” that which God had ordained Israel to keep. The word “ordinances” does not refer to the ceremonial sacrifices. “The middle wall of partition, the enmity, was dissolved by the abolition of the law of commandments.” (Vincent).

7. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances which was contrary to us.” (Col. 2: 14).

The handwriting does not refer to the fact that the law was written with the finger of God upon the stones, but rather to the signature, the autograph Israel signed as it were at the foot of Sinai when on three separate occasions they signified their acceptance of the terms of the covenant by saying; “All that the Lord hath said will we do and be obedient.” (Ex. 19: 8 ; 24: 3, 7). The law is referred to in this portion as a bill of debt, a bond which Israel executed at Mt. Sinai. By the death of Christ the word “cancelled” has been written over that document, or that promissory note. Then He took it out of the way, and then He nailed it to His cross.

The objection to the assertion that “sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law, but under grace,” was doubtless genuine. It was born out of the fact that the law had been given to Israel soon after their emergence from Egyptian bondage. Had it not been intended to inculcate a high standard of morality and righteousness in His redeemed people? Were these standards now obsolete? Was there no need and no value in putting the Gentile convert under law? Was not this the procedure that was followed in pre-Christian days? And did not the Old Testament give such instructions? These questions and objections had to be satisfactorily answered. Furthermore, if the restraints of the law were removed would it not open the door to license?

The chapter, as suggested in the quotation from Denney, divides naturally into three sections.

I. The law and its authority. Its dominion and fruit. The law and the sinner. (l-6).

2. The law and its ministry. The law and sin. (vv. 7-13).

3. The law and its inability, its limitation. The law and the saint. (vv. 14-25).

1. The law and its authority. vv. 1-6.

Following the same method as in 6: 2 and 6: 15 the apostle first gives a direct and definite answer in v. 1. He then proceeds to illustrate it and explain it. The illustration is given in vv. 2-3 and the explanation in vv. 4-6.

“The law has dominion over a man as long as he liveth.” The explanation given in vv. 4-6 makes it evident that these words are not to be interpreted as referring to the duration of a person’s life, or as long as he is in the body, but as long as he is ‘in the flesh” (v. 5) or is unregenerate. During that time he stands before God on the ground of his association with Adam, the first man, on the ground of creature merit or the ground of personal responsibility to meet the demands of the law. While a person is in that state the law has power over him. It has power to accuse, to condemn, to curse and to execute him. The law knows no mercy. (camp. vv. 9,11. I died. It slew me). It cannot be law and show mercy or grace: it must insist on its demands being met fully and perfectly. The union of the law and the sinner, under the simile of marriage, produced fruit unto death. It could do no better for the saint. The desires of sin, the affections of sin are called into activity by the law, they become operative and malignant. But the believer is said to be dead to the law by the body of Christ, that is by His death.

The Christian is said to have died to that whereby he was held in bondage and under condemnation, and thereby he has been loosed or delivered from its authority. This sets him free to be joined to Christ in resurrection which is to produce fruit unto God, (v. 4), and to serve in the energy of the Spirit rather than according to the dictates of the letter of the law. The “newness” of the Spirit refers to that which is new in character or quality rather than something new in relation to time. The words “Spirit” and “letter” are set over against each other antithetically, indicating that the word Spirit is to be understood as referring to the Holy Spirit, just as the word “letter” refers to the law. It is the fact that the believer is delivered from the law by virtue of death that is the point of both the explanation (vv. 4-6) and the illustration (VI. 2-3). The woman is free to marry another when death has dissolved the first union.

Apart from the dissolution of that first marriage by death there can be no union with Christ, and it is only with the risen Christ that we can be thus joined. Whereas it cannot be said that the lab, the first husband according to the illustration, has died, yet it is true that in the death of Christ its authority to condemn has cased. for in that death its penalty and its curse were fully borne. That the first husband is to be understood as the law is evident from the language of v. 5 as also from the point under discussion, that the believer is not under law but under grace. The service of the believer as one who is thus “joined to the Lord” is illustrated in that of the tribe of Levi. The name given at his birth proved to be prophetic, for the tribe was later joined to Aaron to minister unto him and to keep the charge of all the sanctuary. (Gen. 29: 40; Num. 18 : 2-4). In the context of the problem under discussion the apostle makes it clear that the fruit produced by the law is death. Therefore it is futile to put Christians under it. Israel under law produced wild grapes, wild gourds, and briers and thorns. (Heb. 6: 8).

2. The law and its ministry. vv. 7-13.

The law and sin. These verses give a vivid picture of the apostle when he was unconverted, when he was still the proud Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus. They show also how the Lord had been working effectually in him, preparing him for the revolutionary change he was to experience on the Damascus Road, which was to so completely re-orientate his life. In the words of the Lord he had found it hard to kick against the pricks. Some members of his family, he says, were in Christ before him. (Rom. 16: 17). Their witness and that of the martyr Stephen, as well as that of those whom he had so bitterly persecuted, had doubtless pricked his conscience at times. Along with them was the ever present voice of the law, loud as thunder, accusing him. The command “Thou shalt not covet” revealed to him his sinful nature, even though he could claim that outwardly he was blameless. (Phil. 3: 3-6).

Implicit in the question “is the law sin?” is the insinuating charge that he considered the law to be bad or evil, because he had said that by it the sinful passions had borne such deadly fruit. This charge the apostle strongly denies, and in his brief rebuttal he submits four arguments which prove the contrary. (a) It was by or through the law that his sin of covetousness had been detected. (v. 7). Just as the X-ray film reveals the hidden and deadly cancer, or as the surgeon’s knife lays it bare, so the law had uncovered to him this inoperable condition. The disease had penetrated every organ of his being. The surgeon’s knife had, as it were activated it, had angered it and brought on immediate death.

(b) Until the law sin was dead or inactive, but when the law came it became very active. It used the law as a fulcrum or leverage to activate and multiply the sinful desires. (v. 8-9). Up until the law had come he had lived in a false utopia, in a fool’s paradise. He was like the rich young ruler of whom we read in Matt. 19: 16 who thought he had kept the commandments from his youth up, but the words of the Lord revealed his covetous nature. He went away very sorrowful.

(c) By the commandment sin had deceived him. (v. 11). As a beast of prey hides behind an ambush ready to pounce upon its victim, so sin had taken the commandment as a base of operations from which to attack him, and to deceive him as a traitor. The marginal reference to the temptation and beguiling of Eve is suggestive of a similarity between the two. As a traitor sin had handed him over to the officers of the law. Once in their hands, escape was impossible. No reprieve could be allowed. The law demanded the extreme penalty. He says: “I died”; “I found it to be unto death”; “It slew me”.

(d) By or through the commandment sin was manifested in its true character. (v. 13). The law was a magnifying glass. By it sin’s exceeding sinfulness or loathfulness was revealed. A study of the law and the offerings unveils the holiness of God and the leprous condition of the human heart. It brings to light and condemns, not only the overt act, but the hidden spring, the source of all the defilement, as emphasized by the Lord in the words : “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries. . . covetousness. . . pride.” Thirteen things are tabulated in this incriminating list, and they all come from within.

Therefore the law is holy as to its character, perfectly just as to its demands, and good as to its purpose. It was ordained to life. It promised life to the obedient. It said: “This do, and thou shalt live.” But because of man’s inherent sinfulness, his incorrigible covetous nature, the apostle found it to be a “ministration of death” and “of condemnation.” If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. In Romans the apostle meets the objections of an honest enquirer regarding the gospel of the grace of God, whereas in Galatians he anathematizes the exponents of systematized error, the teachings of the Judaizing teachers mentioned in Acts 15 : 1. Nevertheless he shows clearly in this chapter that the law is not a means of salvation, either of justification or of sanctification. Four times over in the compass of a very few verses he emphasizes that it is a “ministration of death.” (vv. 9, 10, 11, 13).

In the preceding paragraph he shows that the believer has “died to the law,” and is thereby delivered from it. In this he shows that the believer has been executed by the law because of the sin it revealed and convicted him of, charged him with, and condemned him for. The same truth is stated in Gal. 2: 20. “I have been crucified with Christ . . .” The extreme penalty of the law, its curse had been meted out to him. Seeing the law pronounces penalty on a man because of what he is inwardly, it is utterly futile to put a Christian under it.

3. The law and its inability.

The law and the saint. (vv. 14-25). This portion is one regarding which there has been much controversy. It has been interpreted in a variety of ways. Some would even question if it is to be understood as the actual experience of the apostle. They would consider it a hypothetical case! Some consider it to be Paul’s experience in his unregenerate days. This view has been expressed as follows. “Paul is laying bare in Romans 7 his inward exercises. They are the experiences of a morally good man, judged according to the standards of men, who has the desire to behave well, but something within him hinders him from doing what he mentally approves, and he does what he disapproves and hates. The man of Romans 7 is obviously not a profligate sinner, nor is he a regenerate man, but a pious God-fearing man who is endeavouring to gain divine favour, and life everlasting by the deeds of the law.”

If this view is adopted then the agonizing cry “0 wretched man that I am” must have been uttered by Paul when he was still the kicking beast, breathing out murder and slaughter. This seems utterly inconceivable. Moreover, if it was uttered by him in his unconverted days, then we should have it stated in the past tense as in vv. 7-13. It should have been “0 wretched man that I was”. Then again why rule out the profligate and the drunkard, and the alcoholic? Do not such people often yearn to be free and acknowledge their wretchedness? Others think that the verses portray the experience of a carnally minded Christian, one who is constantly living a defeated life. But it may well be questioned if carnally minded Christians ever have such deep soul exercises.

Then it is thought to be the experience of a quickened soul who has not found full deliverance from the law in Christ. W. Kelly in his book on Romans expresses this view as follows. “It is the case of one quickened, but not yet submitting to the righteousness of God. Hence being jealous for God, but ignorant of the full place in which redemption sets the believer, such a soul puts itself under law. There is an awakened conscience, but no power. The state described, however, is in no case final, but transitional, though bad and legal teaching may keep a soul in it till grace acts fully, it may be on a death-bed, or what is equivalent.”

Then there are those who consider it to be an accurate description of the spiritual exercises, failures and aspirations of a spiritually minded believer who is keenly conscious of the fact of indwelling sin and is longing for the final deliverance. From his inward depths he yearns for deliverance from “this body of death.”

Horatius Bonar in his notes on this chapter says : “It furnishes us with a key to an experience which would otherwise have seemed inexplicable. It is God’s recognition of the saint’s inner conflict, and an indispensable process of discipline.”

And Bishop Ryle in his book on “Holiness” says: “In this chapter Paul says nothing which does not practically tally with the recorded experiences of the most eminent saints in every age, and he does say several things which no unregenerate man or weak believer would ever think of saying or cannot say. “What I do lay stress upon is the broad fact that the best commentators in every era have almost invariably applied the seventh of Romans to advanced believers.”

In order to guide our thinking in an attempt at unravelling the complex situation and experience described in this section the following points should be noted.

(a) The verb tenses are all in the present.

This is in marked contrast to the preceding paragraph where all the verbs are in the past tense. In that paragraph the apostle is quite obviously relating his experience before and leading to his conversion. His experience detailed in vv. 7-13 dovetail into or synchronize with the illustration in vv. t-6. Having been slain or executed the law ceased to have dominion over him.

(b) He speaks of the “inward man”, a phrase found only twice elsewhere in the New Testament.

In 2. Cor. 4: 16 the same apostle speaks of the “outward man” as perishing, but of the “inward man” as being renewed daily. Then in the Ephesian encyclical he prays for his readers that they might be “strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man.” (3 : 16). In both of these verses the words can only apply to believers. It is difficult to interpret them otherwise in Rom. 7. To equate the words with a mere mental attitude or approval militates against the analogy of these other scriptures. Moreover the “mind of the flesh”, the only mind the unregenerate man has is enmity with God, hence he cannot delight in the law of God. The man in these verses not only “consents to the law that it is good”, he “delights in it.” just as the blessed man of Psalm 1 is said to do. Is such an experience within the range of possibility to an unregenerate person? Scripture teaching would not lead us to think so.

(c) The deliverance he cries out for is not deliverance from the law of sin in the members, but from “this body of death.”

As long as he was in the body co-existence with the law of sin which is in its members was unavoidable. The cry and the expression of thanks point to the coming of the Lord as the solution to the problem. This verse is the third reference to the body in these three important chapters. In chapter 8 the subject of deliverance from this body is developed more fully, as taught by the late Mr. W. E. Vine in his commentary on Romans, and also by Mr. C. F. Hogg. On the contrary, deliverance from the law of sin by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is a present deliverance.

(d) The final words of the chapter are a summing up of the experience described in the earlier verses.

“So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” “Here as before, the apostle, speaking as a representative believer sums up in the concluding statement his line of argument.” (W.E.V.). J. N. Darby in his notes on Romans teaches that the deliverance referred to in the chapter is that of a Christian from the law and self, but on this last verse makes the following comment: “This last verse states the abiding general principle, flesh remains in us after we have known deliverance, and hence the conflict to keep it down; therefore in this 25th verse of ch.7 we see there is conflict after deliverance, as before, because there are conflicting principles of nature contradictory one to another.”

The words “I myself” would suggest that Paul was anxious that we should understand this as his normal experience. The words cannot represent the experience of the unconverted. They depict a dualism which is only true of the regenerate. A closer study of the portion will confirm this conclusion.

We know intuitively that the law is spiritual. It is all that Paul acknowledged it to be, “holy, just and good.” But he goes on to say : “I am carnal, sold under sin.” This is considered by many to be an insuperable difficulty making it impossible to interpret it as the experience of a true believer, far less of a spiritually minded believer. However we do well to note, as pointed out by Calvin in his commentary on Romans, that the word used here for “carnal” refers to the flesh in its material rather than in an ethical sense. It is the word used in 2. Cor. 3 where we read of the “fleshy tablets of the heart.” Paul does not say that he was carnally minded like the Corinthians, but he acknowledged that he was still in the body, which, as yet, is not redeemed. For that the believer waits.

In vv.15-17 the problem is viewed negatively, He finds that he is unable to resist doing what he knows to be wrong, that is, desiring or coveting the forbidden thing. In vv. 18-20 it is viewed from the positive aspect or standpoint. He acknowledges that he is unable to do that which he knows to be right, that which the law demands but offers no assistance to perform. In w. 16 and 20 he gives his conclusions. He confesses two things. 1. The law with its prohibitions is good. 2. Failure is due to indwelling sin. It is clear that the portion speaks of a conflict of desires, of an irreconcilable dualism in the apostle’s life, and he has recorded for us that which he learned in this severe school of discipline. The lessons he learned were both humbling and salutary. We do well to take heed to them.

(a) “I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.”

This is a lesson of primary importance. It was the lesson that led Job to confess: “Therefore I abhor myself”, and Peter to say “I am a sinful man, 0 Lord.” It is the message of Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” It is incurably evil.

(b) “I find then a law that when I would do good, evil is present with me.”

“I see another law in my members,” a contrary law which wages constant warfare against the law of my mind, seeking to reduce me to captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. He discovered that he had a bias toward this law of sin, an inclination to obey it. It was natural for him to submit to its edicts or obey its commands.

(c) He discovered that he had no power in himself to perform that which he knew to be right, or to prevent him from doing what he knew to be wrong. He had the will but not the power.

Herein lies another reason for the futility of putting a Christian under law. “It is one thing to find no ability to make or assure oneself of peace with God through one’s works, and quite another to find, when the question is one of producing the holiness which God claims, and which it is the instinct of the Christian man to crave, that still there is an irremovable obstacle in the way, a flesh in which dwelleth no good thing, which renders futile all his efforts, to have to say, when I would do good evil is present with me, then to find another law in my members warring against the 1a.w of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is my members.” (F.W.G.)

(d) “So then with the flesh I serve the law of sin.”

He learnt that the flesh in him would own allegiance to no other master but sin. This he repeats in ch.8: 7. “For the mind of the flesh is enmity against God.” The flesh can never be converted. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” It is as evil and incorrigible in its working in the most mature saint as it is in the youngest believer.

The message of Romans 7 is one which no Christian can afford to ignore. He will do so at his peril. It is the red flag of warning waved by none other than the great apostle himself. On the fifth day of creation, fish, great whales, and fowl were created. And on the sixth there was the same dual type of life, beasts and creeping things. Then man was created and placed in authority over them all. In Romans 7 we have this dualism. To take a census of the life which abounds in the sea is beyond man’s power. These may be taken to represent the hidden motives, both good and bad. Among the birds of the air there are also the clean and the unclean. They are suggestive of what passes through the mind. The apostle elsewhere speaks of the desires of the flesh and of the mind. (Eph. 2: 3). Creeping things are defiling. Food vessels were to be covered lest any should fall into them. (Num. 19: 15; Lev. 11: 29-33).

The experience of Romans 7 may well be illustrated in that of Israel in the wilderness. But in this connection we need to remember that while Israel were in Egypt, the Wilderness and Canaan at successive periods, the believer is in each at the same time. The nation literally and physically went out of Egypt into the Wilderness, and later they literally left the Wilderness and entered into the land of Canaan. But such is not the case with the Christian. He is in the world, though not of it, and is assured of preservation from its doom by the blood of the Lamb. In the Wilderness he finds every provision made for his spiritual needs, and in that which corresponds to the land, he enjoys all the spiritual blessings with which the believer has been blessed in the heavenlies in Christ. Of the Wilderness God said : “The Lord thy God led thee. . . in the Wilderness to humble thee, to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart.” (Deut. 8: l-3). This is the lesson of Romans 7.


“0 wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death?” “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This seems like a cry of despair wrung from the depths of his anguished spirit. It echoes the cry of the Psalmist: “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee.” The body, previously referred to as “the body of sin” and the “mortal body” is now referred to as “this body of death.” And he yearned for deliverance from IT not merely from the law of sin which was in its members. ‘The apostle would seem to be thinking in terms of what is said to have been the Roman custom of binding the corpse of the victim to that of the criminal. The picture is a very graphic one. Had the words been HOW shall 1 be delivered, it would have suggested that he was looking either within himself or without for some way of deliverance.

Having learnt the futility of all self-effort he does not look for victory but for deliverance. Victory is something which we may claim to have a part in bringing about, but deliverance is something which is wrought for us entirely by another. This deliverance, this emancipation from the body of death is to be ours at the coming of the Lord, at the rapture. It is for this that he gives thanks in anticipation, and it is this, along with the freedom from the law of sin and death by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that is expounded in ch.8. Inch. 8 the apostle has his eyes on the delectable heights of the land of far distances. He sees the far distant horizon and rejoices in hope of the glory of God. Keeping his eye on the goal steadies his pace for the pilgrim pathway, lightens his load and burden in his service, and braces his muscles for the conflict that was still ahead.

Note should be taken of the different laws mentioned or referred to in the verses. We read of the law of sin, the law of God, the law of the renewed mind, and a law in the members which wars against the law of the mind, and lastly we read of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

The 8th chapter commences on a note of assured confidence. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” And it ends on a note of triumph. As an inhabitant of the rock he sings, and throws out his challenge, “Who shall contend with me?’ and “who is he that shall condemn me?” (Isa.42: 1 I ; 50: 8-9). “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” (v. 37). “In this surpassing chapter the several streams of the preceding arguments meet and flow in one river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb, until it seems to lose itself in the ocean of a blissful eternity.” (Brown). There is a great contrast between it and ch.7. “The stern analysis of the one, is to the revelations and triumphs of the other as an almost starless night, stifling and electric, to the splendour of a midsummer morning with yet more glorious morrow for its future.” (Moule).

The first four verses summarize the teaching of the previous chapters. The first verse epitomizes the argument regarding justification (3: 21-5: 21), and v. 2 the truth of liberty taught in ch.6, and vs. 3-4 the instruction of ch.7 relative to the believer and the law.

While the chapter begins and ends on a high note of confidence we do well to note the unmistakable way attention is drawn to the believer’s foes. They are militant and aggressive. There can neither be a truce or peaceful co-existence with them. The conflict is unabating and perpetual. In his translation J. N. Darby divides the chapter into three sections, vv. l-17; 18-30; and 31-39. It is an interesting and instructive division. In the first paragraph there is a great emphasis on the flesh and its enmity against God. The word occurs some 13 or 14 times. In the second there are references to suffering and groaning due to persecution from the world. While in the last the roar of the lion, and the howling of the wolf is heard seeking to destroy the sheep. So the chapter is charged with an atmosphere of conflict with the Christian’s three great enemies, the flesh, the world and the devil.

The occurrences of the word “flesh” in vv. 1-17 should be noted noted. The word is used with reference to the Lord, to the unbeliever and to the Christian, and also to the law.

1. With regard to the law it is said that it was weak on account of the flesh.

The law could not give life, hence righteousness could not come by the law. (Gal. 3: 21). It can condemn but it cannot justify the ungodly or render any assistance to the sinner who is without strength.

2. With regard to the Lord it is stated that He was sent in the likeness of the flesh of sin.

In these words both the true and sinless humanity of the Lord are jealously guarded. Had the apostle said that He was sent in the likeness of flesh it would have suggested that His humanity was not a true humanity. Had the words been “in the flesh of sin” leaving out the word “likeness” then His sinlessness would have been open to question and doubt. The words of the text are in accord with the analogy of the faith that the Lord Jesus was holy and invulnerable to sin His temptations and ours are on a different level. We are tempted when we are drawn away of our own lusts. To Him sin made no appeal. He was tempted in all points such as we are sin apart. He knew all the trials of poverty and the weakness of body fatigue, and the trials of sorrow and grief. But just as it is predicated of God that He cannot be tempted with evil, so our Lord could not be tempted by sin. He was sent for sin, that is, as an offering for sin, and by His death sin was condemned or put away.

3. Of the unbeliever it is said that he is “in the flesh”, is “after the flesh”, and “minds the things of the flesh.”

It is the realm in which his life is lived. Consequently they cannot please God, because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God and leads inevitably to death.

4. On the contrary, the Christian is not “in the flesh.”

He does not stand before God on the ground of what he is by nature, or of what he is in Adam. He is not a “debtor to the flesh”, and “he is not to live after the flesh” or “walk after the flesh.” He is said to be “in the Spirit” because of the indwelling of the Spirit. By the Spirit he is to mortify the deeds of the body, or the activities of the flesh through its members.

The opposition of the flesh is well illustrated in what is recorded of the Amalekites in their enmity to Israel. They were the first enemies Israel met in the wilderness. Immediately following the smiting of the rock and the provision of water we read, “Then came Amalek.” They sought to hinder Israel’s progress. Later at Kadesh they sought to hinder Israel from entering the land, and in the days of the Judges they encamped against them to hinder them from enjoying their produce by destroying it. (Ex. 17: 8; Num. 14: 40-45; Jud. 6: 3). Later they were confederate with the nations which were determined to destroy Israel. (Ps. 83). Saul the king was commanded to exterminate them. He failed, and an Amalekite had a hand in his death! In the days of Esther Israel’s chief enemy was Haman the Agagite, an Amalekite! But the flesh is too many sided to be typified by one nation. The Amalekites only foreshadow one aspect of the activity of the flesh. Other nations such as the Moabites and the Philistines typify other aspects of the flesh in its enmity against all that is of God. It is only by the Spirit’s ministry that the believer may overcome. “The Spirit lusteth against the flesh . . .” (Gal. 5: 17).

In the Eng. Revised (1881) the chapter is divided into five paragraphs. Each of the first four ends with a reference to the believer’s body. These are very suggestive especially in the light of the fact that the chapter is a further and a full development of the answer to the cry of 7 : 24 for deliverance from “this body of death.” In accordance with this division the first paragraph ends with a reference to the quickening of the mortal body. (w. 10-l 1).

The threefold repetition of the word “because” in these verses focuses the attention on three important truths.

1. Because of sin the body is said to be “dead.”

It has not yet been quickened, it is not possessed of Divine life.

2. Because of righteousness the spirit, that is the believer’s spirit in contrast to the body, is life.

It has already been quickened, for justification is said to be unto life. (5 : 18). The believer has been quickened with Christ.

3. Because of the Spirit that indwells us the body is to be quickened.

The resurrection of the body is an integral part of the gospel, but in this epistle the apostle does not deal with it. It is implicit, however, in the teaching of these verses. The verse says that the body of the believer is not only mortal but “dead”. Hence the same power of God will be necessary to quicken it as to quicken the bodies of those who have passed through death. “That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die.” At the coming of the Lord both the bodies of the living and the dead will he quickened. Some have sought to interpret the quickening of Rom. 8 : 1 I as a present experience, but a moment’s reflection will reveal its fallacy. A quickened body can never die. When it is quickened the mortal will put on immortality. It was this quickening that Paul saw as the answer to his cry, and the final deliverance from “this body of death.”

The second paragraph ends with v. 17 where it is stated that if or seeing we are children then we are heirs; heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. Just as the resurrection of the dead in Christ is an integral part of the gospel, so is the rapture, but it also is not discussed in this chapter. However the words “glorified together” pre-suppose the rapture, being caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

The third paragraph ends on a similar note, the redemption of the body, for which the apostle groaned and for which he waited with patience. That will introduce the believer into the “liberty of the glory” (v. 21). This is the fifth and last freedom mentioned in these three chapters. It is the grand consummation. There is the freedom from the doom or penalty of sin by death, (6: 7); freedom from the dominion or power of sin by devotion to the Lord (6 : 18,22) ; Freedom from the law by death (7: 4); freedom from the law of sin and death by the law of the Spirit of life (8: 2); and the Freedom of the glory. (8 : 21). This will issue and be followed by the freedom of creation from its bondage to corruption when the habitable world to come will be put in subjection to the Son of Man, and He will be Governor among the nations. At the conclusion of the fourth paragraph the apostle recapitulates the truth he had been dwelling upon, and adds a further note, that we are to be conformed to the image of the Son. As we have borne the image of the earthly, so we shall bear the image of the heavenly. Conformity to Christ is the ultimate goal of God in man’s redemption. Then the Lord will be seen as the first-born among many brethren. In that glory He will have the pre-eminence. In his summary (vv. 29-30) the apostle forges a chain of five golden links. They are five important details in the unfolding of the purpose of God. (v, 28). “For whom He foreknew. . .’

As omniscience is an attribute of God this must mean more than just prescience as used in connection with those who have been called. On the day of Pentecost Peter declared that Christ was delivered according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. (Acts 2: 23 ; 1. Pet. 1: 20). The word takes us back to the dateless, timeless past, into the counsel chambers of eternity. “Whom He foreordained, he predestinated . . .” This directs our attention on to the eternal future, the eternal glory. “Whom He called. . .” those to whom the call of the gospel has been effectual, as the result of which the Lord says: “Thou art mine.” “Whom He justified.” Those who have been cleared from every charge that was against them, completely acquitted. “Them He also glorified. . .” This is viewed as already having been accomplished. In view of the immutability of the purpose of God the eternal security of those called of God can never be called in question.

Little wonder that in the final paragraph the apostle asks such challenging questions. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” If God be resolved and engaged to bring us through, who can be against us? “Who would set briers and thorns against Him in battle?” (Isa.27: 4).

The Cross -“He spared not His own Son. . .”
The empty tomb. . . “Yea, rather that is risen again. . .”
The occupied throne . . “Who is even at the right hand of God.”

all unite in re-assuring the believer that “all is well.” Thus dwelling on high, from his place of defense, the cleft of the rock, he issues his defiant challenges. (vv. 33-35). There is no-one to accuse, no-one to condemn, and no-one or nothing that can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In v. 3.5 seven terrible weapons were listed, They have often during the centuries been used by the adversary. Do such trials mean that those who are thus called to pass through them are no longer the objects of His love? The enemy and our unbelieving hearts would say yes, and cause doubts to arise as they did in the mind of John Baptist when he was in prison.

Many years ago I visited an aged saint who had lain on his bed with partial paralysis for many years. Some Seventh Day Adventists had been to see him the previous day and had suggested to him that he was suffering from paralysis because he had not kept the Sabbath! In the course of relating me the answer he gave them he said : “I do not read the love of God in circumstances. God has erected one monument to His love. That was at Calvary. Having spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things. That is enough for me.”

The reference to the intercession of Christ in v. 34 is the only reference to the High Priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus in these chapters. It is closely associated with the love of Christ. (v. 35). It is suggestive of the breastplate which was worn by Aaron on which were twelve stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel, each with its name engraved on a stone. These names he bore on his heart before the Lord continually. The breastplate was tied on to the ephod with a lace of blue that it be not loosed from the ephod. (Ex. 28: 30; 39: 21).

Thus it is with the perfection of the work of redemption and the permanence of the love of God that the section is drawn to a close.

The many references to the Holy Spirit in the chapter demand special consideration, as it is one of the most important portions of the New Testament in its unfolding of the truth relative to the work of the Spirit. The expressions used are indicative of both personality and sovereignty. We read of the “mind of the Spirit” and that “He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” He has perfect knowledge of that will as being co-equal with the Father. He is referred to as the “Spirit of life”; “the Spirit of God”; “the Spirit of Christ”; “the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead”; “the Spirit of adoption” and “the Spirit”. And in ch.5: 5 we have the title “the Holy Spirit.”

The truth relative to the Holy Spirit and “His ministry as detailed in the chapter may be considered from a two-fold angle.

1. The truth considered in connection with the paragraph division

In the first paragraph (vv. l-11) the emphasis is on the walk of the believer.

He is viewed as:, “in the Spirit”, and set free “by the law of the Spirit . . .“, and is to enjoy life and peace by minding the Spirit. He is to walk and live “after the Spirit”, and by the Spirit he is to mortify the deeds of the body. Clearly then it is the conduct of the Christian that is prominent in this paragraph.

In the second paragraph (vv. 12-17) we read of the “Spirit of adoption” whereby we cry “Abba, Father”.

This is in contrast to the spirit of bondage engendered by the law. At the giving of the law the people feared to draw near, they removed and stood afar off. The law put them at a distance. But through the gospel we have access and boldness to enter into the holy place. The Spirit leads the Christian into the enjoyment of this liberty, (2. Cor. 3 : 17), the liberty of true communion with the Father. This is the note struck in this second paragraph. Prayer and fellowship with God are of vital importance to every true believer.

In the third paragraph (vv. 15-25) the apostle proceeds to speak of the Spirit in relation to the life of conflict, the service of the Christian, which often if not always to some degree, entails suffering for Christ’s sake.

Doubtless The suffering referred to by the apostle in these verses is the suffering, or are the sufferings which he was enduring whilst he was serving the Lord in the preaching of the gospel. He refers to them in similar language in the second epistle to the Corinthians. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2. Cor. 4: 17).

In the fourth paragraph (26-30) the apostle reaches the summit where he speaks of the intercession of the Spirit and his complete confidence in God who co-ordinates everything, making them work together for the good of own.

The Syriac version of v. 28 is suggestive. It reads: “And we know that the Spirit aids us in all things for good . . .”

This fourfold application of the Spirit’s ministry in relation to the life of the believer, relative to Ibis conduct, communion, conflict and confidence i:; illustrated for us in the parabolic prophecy of Ezekiel ch.47. When the prophet was first brought through the river, the water was to the ankles. The flowing water would automatically wash his feet. When he was brought through the second time, the waters were to the knees, and on the third time, the waters were t;, the loins. After measuring the fourth thousand cubits, the waters were risen, waters to swim in. They were both deep and wide. The feet, the knees and the loins are suggestive of the walk of the Christian, his waiting upon God in prayer, praying in the Holy Spirit, and his service, whereas the waters to swim in speak of the fulness of the Spirit, and the ministry of the Spirit such as taught in Romans 8: 26-30. We need to constantly remind ourselves that the Christian life can only be lived in the energy of the Spirit of God. He alone begets it and He alone can sustain it. Having begun in the Spirit with the new birth the believer’s life cannot be perfected in the energy of the flesh.

2. The Holy Spirit’s ministry in its relation to the believer’s adoption, and sonship. The term “adoption” is used in a three-fold way in the New Testament.

(a) It is used of Israel nationally and collectively.

“To whom pertaineth the adoption” (Rom. 9: 5). “Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, my first-born.” To Israel as a nation belongs this position of priority and pre-eminence among the nations which the apostle considers in chs.9-l 1.

(b) It is used with reference to the Christian’s glorified state involving the redemption of the body.

“. . . but even we ourselves groan in ourselves, awaiting adoption, that is the redemption of our body.” (Rom. 8: 23. JND). Then as sons we will enter into the possession and enjoyment of our inheritance.

(c) It is used of the Christian’s present spiritual position and status before God, as having been delivered and free from the law.

In Gal. 4: l-6 the reference is to those converted from among the Jews. Up until the coming of Christ they were under tutors and governors, they were in bondage to the law. But through the redemption accomplished by Christ the apostle says “they were to receive the adoption”, In Eph. 1: 5 no such racial distinction is introduced. Irrespective of whether the Christian is from either Jewish or Gentile background he is said to have been marked out before-hand or fore-ordained to adoption. The adoption here referred to includes both the present and future aspects. But it is the Christian’s present relationship with God that is emphasized in Romans 8: 14-I 5 where the Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of adoption rather than a Spirit which begets fear.” In these three chapters there are many terms used to express the various relationships into which the believer has been introduced. Jn ch.6: 15-22 they are said to be slaves; in 7: 4 the Christian is united to Christ as a spouse; in 8 : 16- 17 they are children, and as such they are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; in v. 27 they are saints, those set apart for God, and in v. 33 they are said to be the elect. But they are also called sons, having “received the adoption of sons”, and it is in relation to this title that we wish to consider the reference to the Holy Spirit in the chapter.


Liberty is the true birthright of every true Christian. “He whom the Son shall make free shall be free indeed.” “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” “The law of the Spirit of life hath made me free . . .”

Peter-like, we are in the prison-house of sin, doomed to the sword, bound by chains and guarded by soldiers. (Acts 12). But God commanded the light to shine. The prison cell was visited by the Lord of Glory. He broke the power of cancelled sin and set the prisoner free. The chains fell. The iron gates opened and we walked out into life and liberty with joy in our hearts and a song on our lips.

How can there be any condemnation when every witness against us has been silenced. Accusing conscience silenced because guilt has been put away. Accusing justice silenced because the law has been satisfied. The accusing enemy silenced because by the Cross he has been stripped of his power.

But the liberty into which the believer has been brought is not only from the guilt of sin, but from the power of sin as well, by the “law of the Spirit of life.” But as Moule has well remarked, “There is no separable gospel of the Spirit. All the works of the Holy Spirit are eternally and organically connected with the Son of God.” This is highly important. “The law of sin and death,” and the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” are contrary the one to the other. The “law of the Spirit of life” counteracts the law of sin and death, just as the principle of life in a flower or in a tree counteracts and overcomes the law of gravity. If the stem of the flower is snipped however it will immediately fall. And we need to remember that the law of sin is not removed or eradicated. It is only by the counteracting ministry of the Spirit that it is overcome. The believer is to walk after the Spirit, he is to mind or give attention to the Spirit for by so doing he will enjoy life and peace.


“If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.” v. 9. Christian life and Christian experience begins with being born again of the Spirit through the incorruptible seed of the word of God, the gospel. (Jo. 3: 5; 1. Pet. I: 23-25). At conversion the Christian is given the gift of the Holy Spirit, he receives or is made the recipient of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 5: 5; Acts I1 : 17; 2. Cn1 . 1 i : 4). This is the earnest of his inheritance. (2. Cor. 1: 22; 5: 5; Eph. 1 : 14). Thereby he is sealed by the Holy Spirit. (Eph.1: 13; 4: 30). He is sanctified by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, constituting his body the temple of the Spirit. (1. Cor. 6: 11, 19). The believer is said to have the first fruit of the Spirit. (Rom.8 : 23). This is much more than a mere mental assent to a verse of scripture given in response to pressure through an over-ardent or unwise worker. The word translated “firstfruit” here was the technical term for a birth-certificate. Being made the recipient of the Spirit is then the evidence of the new birth. We need to beware of anything less as a substitute.


“But if by the Spirit ye mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.“ v. 13. In the preceding verses the presence and enmity of the flesh as an active force for ill in the believer’s life is very plainly stated. To walk after the flesh is to court death, spiritual death. The flesh is not equated with the body, If it was we would be told to mortify the body, or to afflict the body, to indulge in asceticism. The flesh here stands for the sinful nature, man’s nature as it has been corrupted by sin. Through the bodily appetite it would seek to rob the believer of His testimony and liberty, and reduce him to slavery. Hence by the Spirit the Christian is to put to death the deeds of the body, he is to continually mortify them. This can only be done in the energy of the Spirit.


“For as many as are led of the Spirit of God they are the sons of God.” v. 14. “Now this I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all, but is under tutors and governors . . .” This was the position of Israel until Christ came, and unfortunately is the spiritual condition of many Christians today. They are guided by legal precepts, by rules and regulations such as “Touch not, taste not, handle not.” But the one who is delivered from the law is not governed by legal commandments, by a spirit of bondage, of servitude, of slavery, but by the Spirit of adoption, which begets a filial relationship. Being thus led of the Spirit is not to be limited to certain times or certain occasions, or at certain gatherings. It refers to the whole tenor of the believer’s life.


“Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.” The believer having been made the recipient of the Spirit is referred to three times in the New Testament, each time with a different result or for a different purpose. In the other two (1 Cor. 2: 12; 2. Tim. 1: 7) it is that we might know the things that are freely given us of God, and be strengthened with courage to bear witness. But here it is the heart crying out with spontaneity, with joy and filial liberty, “Abba-Father.” These were the words used by our Lord Himself when in the garden. Abba is easily pronounced, it is the language of the infant, while Father is suggestive of the language of intelligence. As Abba is in the language used by the Jew, and Father that of the Greek, the two words together represent the two great divisions of the race, the Jew and the Gentile.


“The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God.” v. 16. (cf. 1. Jo. 5 : 10).

The Spirit bears witness to the fact that we are born of God, members of the family of God. As the words follow immediately after the reference to the words “we cry Abba, Father” it is clear that they have to do with the believer’s confidence as he approaches the throne of God in prayer. He is the one through whom we were introduced to the Father. (Eph. 2: 18). As we draw near to God it is not our position as sons that gives us confidence, but the fact that we are children which is indicative of a relationship brought about by the new birth. This Spirit begotten confidence in prayer is a vital reality.

If, as some suggest, the words should be “The Spirit Himself beareth witness to our spirits . . .” then that would be by and through the word of God confirming us in our assurance of salvation. The Spirit’s witness is always of Christ, exalting Him. He takes of the things of Christ and makes them plain unto us, giving us to know our portion and position in Him. As the dove let out of the ark brought back the olive leaf as the token that the waters had abated, so the Spirit testifies, “There is therefore now no condemnation . . .” He witnesses to the value and sufficiency of the sacrificial work of Christ, and to the security of the believer thereby. As the servant of Abraham took jewels of silver and jewels of gold to Rebekah and would occupy her heart with Isaac’s wealth and her future, so the Spirit would speak comfortably to us seeking to captivate our hearts for Him to whom we have been betrothed.

Wonderful as the witness of the Spirit to us is, the context in which the words regarding His bearing witness is found would favour the view that He bears witness with our spirits in our communion with the Father.


“We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us . . .” vv. 26-27. True prayer is spoken of as laying hold upon God, and in this wonderful ministry, the Spirit “takes hold together with us.” “Let him take hold of my strength . . .” (Isa.27: 5). He maketh intercession with groanings that cannot be uttered. Human language is insufficient to express the petitions. Hence the unutterable groanings. In the same section we read of a groaning creation, referring to creation waiting, longingly expecting the manifestation of the sons of God, for then creation shall be delivered from its bondage to corruption. In the meantime its song is in the minor key. All creation utters a common groan. Listen to the rustle of the wind in the trees, the roar of the sea or the lowing of the cattle. We ourselves also groan. (What perfectionists do I cannot tell). Burdened with conditions that oftentimes cause us to bow in shame and confession, we groan, waiting for the redemption of the body. In vv. 26-27 we have the last references to the Holy Spirit in this portion which is so full, pressed down and running over with important teaching relative to His ministry.

It is in connection with our infirmity, our weakness, our inability to endure on the one hand and to understand on the other that we are told that the “Spirit also helpeth.” The word is used elsewhere in Luke 10: 40 by Martha. “Bid her therefore that she help me.” Just as hope is intended to help us in trial so the Spirit helps, He takes hold together with us. He is the comforter, the Paraclete. Our limitations are such that we are ignorant as to what may be for the best good, or of what the will of God in certain circumstances might be, but the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us in accordance with that will, and according to God’s purpose. And we may rest in confidence that He will aid in us in all things for good. (Peshito version). He will also lead us to rest in the assurance that even things which seem to be contrary will all be coordinated to bring about good. In his infirmity Jacob said, “All these things are against me.” (Gen. 42: 36). Actually all things were being worked out for the good and blessing of all his family, but it all seemed dark to him at the time. We all share in this infirmity which greatly affected Jacob. Hence the wonder of the provision the Lord has made for us: the Comforter is with us to aid and to intercede for us. And the explorer of hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit. How thankful we should be for the Spirit’s ministry.

Part Three
The doctrine of salvation by grace considered in its relation to
Israel, or Paul’s Teaching. Chs. 9-11.

These three chapters form the dispensational section of the epistle. They are mainly occupied with Israel. Her privileges, past history, present dispersion and her future restoration to favour are discussed in the light of the fact that God is now visiting the Gentiles, taking out of them a people for His name. In this connection it is instructive to note that the word “Israel” appears in this section only, and in the King James version it occurs 12 times. The word “Israelite” occurs twice. The word “Jew” is found elsewhere in the epistle as also in these chapters. Three times they are referred to as “His people.” Twice the nation is spoken of as “Jacob.” Sometimes these chapters are considered parenthetical, but that is a mistake.

They are absolutely essential to the full development of the theme of the epistle. Without them there would be a serious lack. Bengel speaks of them as “an appendix, as it were.” And unfortunately too many perform an appendectomy of the epistle by leaving it out altogether. Hence their message has no dispensational element in it. The relation of the gospel to the nation of Israel was a very live and burning issue in the days of the apostles. Hence it was imperative that the question should be thoroughly ventilated and expounded. “In stating the theme which he proposes to discuss (Rom. 1: 16-17) as well as the reference to Christ as the seed of David in the salutation (1: 3), the apostle introduces an element of a historical nature which he could not fail to develop at some point or other of his treatise. It is this; to the Jew first and also to the Greek. In his exposition of the gospel of the grace of God the apostle had a double task to discharge;

(1) To prove that it is capable of realizing what ought to be, moral good.

This he does by showing in chs.6-8 that the doctrine of justification by faith is capable of producing holiness.

(2) To demonstrate that it can account satisfactorily for what has been, for history.

This he proceeds to do in chs.9-11. The domain upon which he here enters is one of the most difficult and profound which can be presented to the mind of man. It is that of theodicy, or the justification of the Divine government in human affairs.” (Godet. Vol. 2). “These chapters contain a genuine theodicy. They vindicate God’s ways with both Jew and Gentile.” (Moorehead).

Stifler in his introduction to the study of these chapters writes very clearly and forcefully as to the importance of this question in Paul’s day, and as to the essential difference between what was the subject of promise and prophecy to Israel in the Old Testament, and the peculiar character of the Church in the New. When the Jew opened his Bible almost anywhere he found promised to the seed of Abraham a universal kingdom of righteousness. The promise of the kingdom was world-wide. (Dan. 2: 44; 7: 14,27; Zech. 14: 16-17 et al). The Church has no such promise. To make the Church the interpretation of these and many similar scriptures is to make an end of both scripture and interpretation. These and other passages promised that the Jew, with his Messiah as King, should have universal supremacy in the world. Faith knew no such supremacy. It created a body of believers following a rejected Saviour, with no promise that it was ever to be treated in any other way. (Matt. 10: 22-25 . . .). Hence the urgent need of harmonizing the universal proclamation of the gospel with the purposes of God as revealed in the Old Testament.

This problem which the apostle sets out to solve in these chapters follows naturally and logically from the conclusion of ch.8 where reference is made to the foreknowledge and calling of God, and the immutability of His love. In the mind of the Jew these immediately raised the question: What about these in their relation to Israel as a nation? Their prophets had taught unequivocally that God had loved the nation with an “everlasting love.” (Jer. 31: 3). Moses the first and Malachi the last of their prophets had emphasized it. “I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal. 3: 6). Immutability is an important attribute of the Godhead. This postulate, this fundamental fact is the premise which calls for a fuller explanation of the gospel and its implications in relation to Israel, their priority and the promises to them and to Christ as the seed of Abraham and the seed of David. (Gal. 3: 16).

In chs.l-5, as we have seen, the apostle discusses the juridical aspect of the gospel, its relation to law and justice; in chs.6-8 its ethical and corporeal aspects, its relation to life and practice and the redemption of the body; in chs.9-11 he discusses its ethnical aspect, its relation to Israel and the nations; and in the concluding chs.12-16 its practical aspect, or its relation to life’s relationships, responsibilities and rewards. In chs.1-8 we have Pa&’ theology; in 9-1 I his theodicy, and in 12-16 his theocracy. The subject of ch.9 was briefly touched upon in ch.3: 1-8 where reference is made to the chief advantage of the Jew, and the faithfulness and righteousness of God in His governmental dealings with Israel. The difference between the two dispensations, the past when Israel was the vineyard, and the present when it has been taken away from them (Matt. 21: 33-46) may be illustrated in the episode connected with Gideon’s fleece. On the first night there was dew on the fleece only, while the earth around it was barren and dry. But on the second night the fleece was dry while on the ground around there was dew.

In the past dispensation the dew of heaven, the blessing of God, was in a special way upon Israel. It was to them that the prophets were sent. Jonah’s commission to Nineveh was a rare exception. In the present, however, Israel nationally is under the curse, dry and barren, and the dew of heaven, the blessed ministry of the Spirit is known even in the remotest corners of the Gentile world. Isaiah also multiplies his similes to portray Israel’s present forsaken and barren condition. “The daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard; a night hut in a garden of cucumbers; as a besieged city; as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and a garden that hath no water.” (Isa. 1: 8 ; 2: 30). These night-huts, watchmen’s booths, were very temporary erections. They are as common a sight in the east as the leafless oak is in England in the winter.

There is a similarity between the method followed by the apostle in his reasoning in chs.1-8 and 9-11. “The two sections run parallel. There is a striking harmony between the development of the theme in both.” (WEV). The same three subjects as are referred to in 1: 16-18 are considered in chs.9-11. The wrath of God manifested in Israel’s rejection. (ch.9). The righteousness of God available by faith to whosoever, whether Jew or Gentile. (ch.10). The power of God which will be revealed in their final reconciliation and restoration to favour.

(Chapter 9. vv. l-29)

Well aware that he was considered by the nation as a traitor, he seeks to calm their hostility. He approaches the subject with great caution. There is a personal reference at the commencement of each of the chapters. They serve to emphasize his absolute integrity, and the great intensity of his love toward them. “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit.” Four times in his writings the apostle uses such words. (1. Tim. 2 : 7; Gal. 1: 20; 2. Cor. 11: 31). They refer to his service, his sufferings and his sorrow, and in relating them he would be absolutely loyal to facts, without the slightest exaggeration as is so easily done when rehearsing personal experiences or giving missionary reports. In the statement of v. 2, expressing the intensity of his affections for them there is a triple gradation. (1) grief. . . pain. (2) great . . . continual. (3) me . . . in my heart.

“I have continual sorrow.” He had incessant pain, uninterrupted grief, and perpetual torture. He bore a heavy load for which his only relief was prayer. (10: 1). The word rendered “continual” is rendered “without ceasing” in three other places. Put together they delineate a man who was. . . incessantly pained for the lost, his own kinsmen (Rom. 9:l); incessant in praise for the effectual working of the word of God in them that believe. (1. Thess. 13; 2: 13); and incessant in prayer for the saints (Rom. 1: 9). This he maintained to the Corinthians was his epistle of commendation. Like the High Priest of old he bore God’s people on his heart continually. (2. Cor. 3). The depth and genuineness of his love for the nation is further emphasized by the words, “I was wishing, or could wish, were such a thing lawful, or could it have done any good, that I myself were anathema.” This can hardly have any reference to his unconverted days as some have suggested. A similar experience is recorded of Moses. (Ex. 32: 32).


The apostle enumerates these in detail.

1. They are Israelites, bearers of the theocratic name.

They were the descendants of the one to whom the Lord gave the name Israel.

2. The adoption.

To them collectively as a nation belongs the position of sonship, of priority, being the first-born among the nations.(Ex.4:22;Hos. 11: 1;Deut. 14:1;Jer.31:9).

3. The glory.

The cloud of glory, known as the Shekinah, the visible token of the Divine presence. (Ex. 29 : 43).

4. The covenants.

The Abrahamic, the Palestinian and the Davidic. (Gen. 15: 18; 2. Sam. 7:ll).

5. The giving of the law, the living oracles.

These the nation considered their peculiar treasure.

6. The service of God.

The Levitical system with its elaborate ritual and its wonderful foreshadowings of the sacrifice and priesthood of Christ, and by virtue of which they were able to approach God.

7. The promises.

The great and precious unconditional

promises with all that they held by way of hope for the nation.

8. Whose are the fathers, the peers of sacred history.

Abraham was the friend of God and Jacob was a prince with: God.

9 Of whom . . . Christ came.

This is their crowning glory and their greatest privilege. To have been the channel through which the Redeemer came, Paul rightly considered the glory of glories. Both the written and the incarnate word have come through the nation of Israel. Here as elsewhere the apostle emphasizes the Lord’s true humanity and His essential Godhood. As concerning the flesh, He was “the son of Abraham and the son of David.” (Matt. 1 :l). But beyond all cavil he accords to Him the glory of deity. He is “God over all, blessed for ever.” “Christ’s Israelitic descent is in the apostle’s eyes, so consummate a glory for Israel because Christ is much more than one of the sons of men; because by reason of His higher pre-existent nature He is over-all, God blessed for ever. This is the natural sense of the passage.” (Liddon).

“There is but one interpretation of this important passage, which can with the least regard to the rules of construction be maintained. Paul evidently declares that Christ, who, he had just said, was, as to His human nature, descended from the Israelites, is in another sense the supreme God, or God over all. blessed for ever. The relative pronoun “who” must agree with the nearest antecedent. There is no other subject in the context sufficiently prominent to make departure from the ordinary rule, in this case, even plausible.” (Hodge).

“One of the most serious blemishes which defaces the revised version (1881) of the New Testament is in the margin of v. 5 where interpretation and not translation is thrust into the word. Dean Burgon stigmatizes this as a Socinian gloss, and cites not less than 60 fathers from Ireneaus to Chrysostum, who understood the clause as referring to Christ alone. In all authorities who can give evidence in a matter of punctuation, the unanimity is very remarkable in support of the punctuation of the King James version. All the early writers accepted this view with the single exception of Diodorous of Tarsus.” (Moorehead).

“Now beyond all fair question the Greek here is quite naturally rendered as in the A.V. or the King James version.” (Moule).

Having crystallized the truth regarding God and His people’s privileges, the apostle proceeds to discuss this in the light of God’s promises (w. 6-13); God’s prerogatives (14-24); and God’s purposes (25 29).


“Abraham is our father” was one of the proud claims of the Pharisees. (Jo. 8: 39). They considered that the mere accident of birth was the sure and sufficient qualification to claim all the blessings covenanted to Abraham and to his seed. Thereby they misapplied and misappropriated the promises. Paul shows that the promises were made to the spiritual seed rather than to the natural seed of Abraham. To be able to trace their lineage back to Abraham was not enough. That the Ishmaelites and the Midianites could do. It is the children of the promise and not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, and therefore reckoned as the seed. Isaac and Jacob are cited as witnesses that from the commencement the principle of election had been operative. With this all the Jews concurred, but they failed to see that these were typical rather than exceptional cases, and that they illustrate the sovereignty of the ways of God in grace. The case of lsaac is more fully expounded in Gal. 4: 21- 5: 1, but in a different context. There the argument is with regard to the believer’s freedom from the law. The children of God bear certain distinctive features. They are called (vss. 7, 11, 24); and are the children of the promise (v. 8) and they are those upon whom God has chosen to set His love (v. 13).

Thus both parentage and personal merit are ruled out. In the Ephesian epistle the same truth is reiterated. It is by grace we are saved. It is not of ourselves or of our works. Just as in the family of Abraham and Isaac there were two streams, so in the nation. Isaac and Jacob represent those in the nation who in ch.11 are referred to as “the election” or “the remnant”, while lshmael and Esau adumbrate “the rest” who are blinded. (ch.11: 7). Thus the ways of God in the present are harmonized with His ways in the past. It is not Paul’s purpose to establish the doctrine of election, but to show that there is no departure in the present from the procedure followed in Patriarchal days. The election now is personal and individual, and that to salvation rather than to external privileges. The problem faced is more historical than doctrinal. In the exercise of His sovereignty God abides faithful to His promises. Care must be taken not to misinterpret them, for it leads to self-deception and disaster.


The explanation of the problem as to the promises and their fulfilment had established that in the implementation of them God had acted according to His sovereign grace. God had not abdicated His sovereignty or liberty of action. He is free: His prerogatives are absolute and unfettered. His authority is supreme.

This poses two questions:

(1) Is it consistent with the justice of God? (14-l8) and

(2) Is it compatible with human responsibility? (19-24).

These are the two objections raised against the doctrine advocated. In the consideration of these the apostle draws upon Old Testament history and marshals his arguments in a most conclusive way.

1. Israel at Sinai. (Ex. 33 : 19).

The nation by its worship of the golden calf had forfeited its right to blessing. Its idolatry had nullified the Sinaitic covenant. Both tables of the law were broken. The temporary tabernacle of the congregation was pitched “without the camp”, afar off from the camp, “and the Lord plagued the people because of the calf. Moreover the Lord said; “In the day when I visit 1 will visit their sin upon them.” (Ex. 32: 34). But in His sovereign grace, the Lord said He would show mercy and compassion upon whom He would. As the whole nation was guilty, it would only be by the free unmerited favour of God that any would be blessed, or the nation saved from immediate judgment. God had thus exercised His sovereign prerogatives by showing mercy.

2. Pharaoh.

God’s long-suffering towards him was an illustration of His long-suffering mercy towards the nation. Pharaoh might have been righteously cut down when he first refused to obey the command of the Lord to let Israel go. But in order to make him an example and an illustration of both His longsuffering and power God allowed him to live. Pharaoh hardened his heart, and retributively the Lord hardened it. (Ex. 7: 13,22; 8 : 15; 9 : 7,35). Similar language is used in ch.2. Solemnly Paul warns those who, by their hard and impenitent heart, treasure up wrath against the day of wrath. Pharaoh’s stubbornness and rebellion foreshadowed the disobedience and gainsaying of Israel. Towards both God had exercised His sovereignty by enduring them with much long-suffering. They had merited His wrath even as Pharaoh had. (1. Thess. 2: 15-16). The historical order of these two events is reversed so as to make his case applicable to the nation.

3. The Potter and the Vessel.

This is evidently an allusion to Jer. 18 : l-6. While the lump and the vessels are individuals, its application to Pharaoh as an illustration of the nation must not be overlooked. For centuries Israel had refused to be moulded by the word of the Lord, and was a marred vessel in the hands of the potter. Hence they were sent to Babylon to be trodden under the feet of the Gentiles once again, but the second vessel that was made was of inferior worth and splendour. There was no glory connected with the returned remnant. They were weak in every way. He makes vessels for whatever suits His purpose in accordance with His own absolute wisdom. The creature owes both his existence and his subsistence to the Creator. It is presumptuous pride that questions the irresistible determinate counsel or will of God. Peter speaks of him as “a faithful creator.” “The word for the will of God in v. 19 implies a definite and unalterable counsel. It differs in meaning from the more frequently used word which often simply means desire. This man may resist, but not His determinate will.” (W.E.V.). According to this determinate will, all who believe will be saved, and all who persist in pursuing a path of rebellion will be punished.

“In vss. 22-23 there are four important contrasts to which attention must be drawn.

The vessels of mercy.

1. Which He had afore prepared unto glory.

2. The word “prepared” is in the active voice. It indicates that the afore-preparation is God’s work.

3. The verb “prepared” is in the aorist tense. It denotes an eternal act.

4. The word “prepared” indicates the beginning of a development, the initial act.

The vessels of wrath.

No such word as afore-prepared is used. The verb “fitted” is in the passive voice. It is something done by themselves. The verb “fitted’ is in the perfect tense. It denotes a present fact. The verb “fitted” indicates the end. It shows that the point in question is not the beginning but the end of the moral development.” (Godet).

Pharaoh was a vessel of wrath, who, by his stubborn and rebellious attitude fitted himself for destruction. Moses was a vessel of mercy to whom God chose to make known the riches of His glory; he was afore-prepared unto glory. (Ex. 33: 18). He is an example of those whom God calls today, whether Jews or Gentiles. Just as the wrath and power of God was manifested in His judgment upon Egypt, so the judgment upon Israel is a witness to the world of the same wrath and power.

(vv. 25-29).

Two contemporary prophets are quoted to show how the purpose of God with regard to both the Jews and the Gentiles has been a subject of prophecy.

1. Hosea’s ministry depicts Israel as a harlot, reduced to the status of the Gentile, illustrated in the name “Lo-Ammi”-not the people of God.

This is clearly indicative of Israel’s present state, but the apostle quotes Hosea to show that if the Jew can be restored after having been reduced to the level of the Gentile, then surely God can call the Gentile, whose position is also that of being “not the people of God.”

2. Isaiah multiplies his similes of Israel’s plight. He thunders; “Ye rulers of Sodom; ye people of Gomorrah . . .”

By their wickedness they had cancelled their claim to priority and privilege. Though they had multiplied as the sand of the sea, they had merited the severest of judgments, that of Sodom and Gomorrah, which was complete removal. They had been obliterated. But in His sovereign grace God had not dealt thus with them. The seed would be spared: The remnant would be saved, even as Lot had been saved out of Sodom, because God remembered Abraham. This principle is operative in the present age, as it will also be in the dark days of Jacob’s trouble when “He will execute His sentence upon the earth with rigour and despatch.” (v. 28. Am.R.V.). This is the seventh and last illustration cited by the apostle to establish the righteousness of God’s ways with the nation.

(Chapter 9: 30; 10: 21)

In ch.9: 6-29 it is shown satisfactorily that neither God’s faithfulness nor His justice are contravened, nor can they be called in question because of the way in which He had exercised His sovereignty. But his argument had cut across the preconceived opinions of the Jews. Hence a further explanation was necessary. This is given in 9: 30-33, and is further expanded in ch.10, where individual and collective responsibility is emphasized. In the solution of the problem the apostle uses the figure of a race, a pursuit. The Gentiles had not pursued it, yet they obtained the prize. Israel pursued but failed to obtain, because they pursued it on the wrong course or track, and because they stumbled at the stumbling stone. The nation was entirely to blame for its present plight. Both the stumbling block and the universality of the message had been a subject of prophecy. Three things that are prominent in this explanation are more fully developed in ch.10.

1. Legal and faith-righteousness. (vv. 30-3 1).

2. The Gentiles and Israel, the universality of the gospel. (v. 33).

3. Israel’s guilt and Gentile blessing. (vv. 32-33).

1. Legal and faith-righteousness. (9: 30-32; 10: l-10).

These are otherwise referred to as God’s righteousness and their own righteousness. In ch.4 a similar contrast is drawn between faith and works. The righteousness of God which is independent of the law, and has been revealed in the gospel is contrasted with self-righteousness. Moses and Isaiah and others are quoted to establish this contrast. Altogether there are some 28 quotations from the Old Testament in these three chapters, and the word “righteousness” occurs 12 times, and “faith” or “believing” about the same in the verses under consideration. The references to faith might be tabulated and considered accordingly.

(a) The advent of faith. (w. 4,8).

“Before faith came we (that is the Jews) were kept under the law shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.” (Gal. 3: 21). “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” (v.4).In Him its precepts were perfectly exemplified; its purpose was fulfilled; its penalty exacted; its power or authority terminated and its curse exhausted. While faith was ever the way of approach to God, the “word of faith” or the message of the gospel was contingent upon the coming of the Saviour.

(b) The anchorage of faith.

The anchor of the righteousness which is of the law dragged. It did not hold. Its cable was human merit. But faith’s anchor is both sure and stedfast. The faith-righteousness acknowledges that Christ has come (v. 6); is risen (v. 7); and is Lord over all (v. 12). Thus the Christian’s faith is anchored to the Rock of Ages.

(c) The availability of faith.

“There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him.” (v. 12). “Whosoever believeth . . .” “Whosoever shall call. . .”Four times over this truth is repeated. All racial and social distinctions are obliterated. The universality of God’s offer of mercy is thus made crystal clear. This is specially emphasized in v. 13. “For everyone whosoever . . .” (J.N.D. & Stifler). Although Israel is nationally put out of the garden as it were, the way to the tree of life is kept open to individual Jews as to individual Gentiles. This is a bona-fide invitation and the herald of the gospel should proclaim it unhesitatingly. The scriptures assert and teach man’s accountability as well as God’s absolute sovereignty. One is not to be held at the expense of the other. Both must be held and preached.

(d) The avenue of faith. (v. 17).

If men are to believe they must hear the word concerning Christ, for faith cometh by hearing. There must be a report, a proclamation of the evangel if it is to be heard and believed. Hence the Lord commanded that the gospel should be preached universally.

(e) The allied aspects of faith.

It is instructive to note the words which are used as being somewhat synonymous with faith.

(1) Attain. (9: 30-31).

It is used in the sense of what faith acquires or obtains.

(2) Submit and obey. (10: 3, 16).

This implies a renunciation of self-righteousness.

(3) Faith and confession. v. 10.

This demanded a public acknowledgement of the paramount claims of Christ, His claim to the title Lord, to being Jehovah, a claim which Israel had rejected and for which they crucified Him.

(4) Calling upon the name of the Lord.

This implies an acknowledgement of His deity and of our plight and need, whether as an initial act or as a continual experience.

(5) “I was found.”

Faith is a wonderful discovery. In the parable of Luke 15 the sinner is said to have been found, but here we have the complementary side of the truth. The believer is one who has found God, he has come to a knowledge of God.

(6) “I was made manifest.”

Salvation is a revelation of Himself. To Peter the Lord said: “Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee. but my Father…”(Matt. 16: 16-17).

(f) The attainment of faith. (9: 30-31).

The believer obtains righteousness, or a righteous standing before God. Christ is made unto him righteousness . . . (1. Cor. 1: 30).

(g) The assurance of faith. (9: 33; 10: 11; 5: 5).

“Whosoever believeth in Him shall not be ashamed.” He shall never be put to confusion. The context in the various places where these words are quoted refer respectively to the death, the resurrection and the return of the Lord. This is the believer’s firm foundation. There is no other.

2. The Gentiles and Israel.
The universality of the gospel.
(9: 33; 10: 11-17).

Paul was accused by his fellow-countrymen as a traitor for going to preach to the Gentiles and treating them as being on a par with the Jews. But he adduced as his sufficient reason for his doing SO, the fact of the universality of the provision and privilege as announced by their own prophets. “The same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him, for whosoever shall call . . .” He further vindicates his action by the citation from Isaiah: “How beautiful are the feet of them that announce the glad tidings.” The singular “Him” in the prophecy is changed to the plural “them” which definitely applies to the heralds of the cross. It is unfortunate that some are so warped in their ideas as to sovereignty, the calling and the election, that they are oblivious even to the need of preaching the gospel. Because of their erroneous “particular redemption” and “limited atonement” theory they are hesitant to use the word “whosoever”. It must be given a limited meaning also. But the messenger of the gospel must accept it at its full face value. When conducting meetings in . . . some years ago, a number attended who were obsessed with these views. They would heartily join in singing such hymns as “Sovereign grace o’er sin abounding . . .” but would completely boycott the singing of such hymns as “Whosoever will may come. . .” That militated against their views of the sovereignty of God! How necessary to hold to balances of the sanctuary.

The portion emphasizes a three-fold responsibility, that of the servant to preach, that of the individual who hears to obey, and that of Israel. (cf. Acts 13 : 44; 14: 7). Thus human responsibility and divine sovereignty are seen to synchronize as illustrated in the case of Joseph’s brethren. It was they who sold him. For that they were held responsible and guilty. But when making himself known to them Joseph said, “It was not you that sent me hither but God.”

3. Israel’s guilt and Gentile blessing.
(9 : 32-33 ; 10 : 18-2 1).
Five things are predicated of the nations.

(a) They are a “no-nation” even as Israel had provoked the Lord with a “no-god”.

(b) They were a “foolish nation” even as Israel in their folly had forsaken the fountain of living waters, and had hewn to themselves broken cisterns.

(c) They had not sought the Lord, nor had they asked for Him.

(d) They had not pursued after righteousness.

(e) Yet it pleased God to reveal Himself to them. It is to grace and to grace alone that they are debtors.

Israel’s guilt on the other hand is stated very clearly.

(a) They were stubborn and disobedient. (10: 3,21).

This had been their character from the first. Moses spoke to them in strong terms of their rebellion and hard heartedness, their refusal to submit to the word of God. This had now caught up with them, so judgment fell. “Have they not heard?’ Calvin interprets this as referring to the Gentiles, but it is the nation that is being thus castigated. They had heard and they had known. Their ignorance (v. 3) was culpable and it had given birth to arrogance.

(b) They were self-righteous and defiant.

They had contradicted God’s servants and His word. Malachi, the last of the prophets lists seven of their gain sayings. This same attitude is revealed in the gospels, until at last the Lord, weeping over Jerusalem said; “How oft would I have gathered you . . . but ye would not . . .” Finally in crucifying the Lord they had smitten the judge of Israel on the cheek. (Micah 5 : 2). Thereby they had sealed their doom. The enormity of their sin had unleashed the storm of wrath upon them.

(c) They had stumbled at the stumbling stone.

They stumbled at His lowly birth. They said “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” They stumbled at His Sabbath miracles, and at His claims to equality with God. Messiah crucified was a rock of offence to them. Thus in the chapter we have the mingled tones of grace and guilt. Grace to the Gentile and guilt of the nation of Israel.


Out of the conclusion drawn at the end of ch.10, two important questions arise.

1. Has God cast away His people? 2. Have they been permanently set aside ?

These are answered in a clear and emphatic way. Their rejection is neither total (vs. l-lo), nor is it final (vs. 1 l-32). The nation is still designated as “His people” (vs. l-2). Then the words “foreknew”, “election”, and “calling” strike the same chord as is struck at the close of ch.8. They are still beloved for the fathers’ sake. (v. 28). In answer to the first question the argument follows closely the pattern of ch.9: 6-l 3. As there was an election in the case of Isaac and Jacob, so today there is a “remnant according to the election of grace.” As illustrations of this principle the apostle refers to himself and to the 7000 in the days of Elijah. Israel nationally had forfeited every claim to privilege and blessing, therefore grace was the only basis on which they could be brought into favour. The plight of “the rest” is described very graphically.

1. They are palsied or paralytic.

(v. 8. cf. Luke 5: 18-24). They have been given a “spirit of slumber,” an attitude of mind that makes them insensible to the movement of the Spirit of God. They suffer from an anaesthetized conscience, as it were. They are in a state of stupor, or torpor, as by a violent blow, making it impossible for them to hear or see.

2. They are in bondage, caught in a noose, trapped in a pit. (v. 9).

Their very privilege, their table, the altar and the table of shewbread had become a snare and a net. They had been meticulously careful with their ritual, their ceremonials, but had failed to apply the truth to their hearts. Isaiah complained that they combined wickedness with their worship. (ch.1: 9-10).

3. They are blind. (v. 10).

Their eyes are darkened, robbed of the power of sight, like the man born blind, and blind Bartimeaus. Judicial blindness had fallen upon them as on Elymas the sorcerer. The Pharisees claimed to see while actually blind. (John 9: 41). The veil, once on the face of Moses, is now on their hearts. (2. Cor. 3 : 14-15).

4. They are “bowed down.”

Isaiah had prophesied of such a condition. (ch.51: 14 R.V.) It is a pathetic picture of decreptitude. A person who is both blind and bent stumbles easily. They are like the woman who was bowed with infirmity. (Luke 13: 11-13).


The question is discussed at length from three points of view.

1. Punitively-the severity of God.

Seven words are used to depict this. They stumbled (v. 11); they trespassed (vs. 11-12); they are diminished, or reduced in number (v. 12) ; they are cast out or excluded from favour (v. 15); some branches are cut off (v. 17); they are hardened or blinded (v. 25); they are enemies (v. 28); and they are disobedient (vs. 20,30).

2 Providentially-the goodness of God.

In the over-ruling mercy of God their unbelief is made the opportunity for the Gentiles to obtain mercy. (v. 30). Through their transgression salvation is come to the Gentiles. (v. 12). Their transgression is the riches of the world. (v. 12), and their exclusion the reconciling of the world (v. 15), and Gentile believers have been grafted in. Thus in a variety of ways Paul describes the blessing that has flowed to the Gentiles in consequence of Israel’s rejection and failure. The Olive tree is a symbol of witness. The Gentile believer today partakes of the blessing of Abraham (Gal. 3: 16). These are described in some detail in ch.I5 : 9-12. The gospel is preached among them, and they are to rejoice with Israel and praise the Lord in whom they will trust. As the apostle is substantiating his statement from the Old Testament scriptures he does not introduce any teaching as to the body of Christ, as that is a subject of New Testament revelation. However a solemn warning is given as to the failure of Christendom.

Just as the branches which were broken off represent “the rest” typified in Ishmael and Esau, so there is to be a cutting off of Gentiles from the place of privilege. Other portions such as 2. Thess. 2 and Rev. 3: 20 amplify this and corroborate it. The present gospel era will end in judgment on privileged Christendom. The cutting off referred to does not contemplate believers any more than some of the branches which were cut off from Israel represent true children of God. They were the children of the flesh, the natural seed only. In Sir Wm. Ramsay’s book “Pauline and other studies” he has an interesting and instructive chapter on the olive tree and the wild olive tree. He shows the difference between the two and gives evidence to prove that the grafting of a shoot from a wild olive tree into an old olive tree was at times done.

3. Prophetically-The ultimate purpose of God. (v. 23).

Israel’s blindness is only for a time, just as that of Elymas was. The word “until” is important. The fullness of the Gentiles refers to the full quota to be gathered in. This does not mean that it will coincide with the completion of the Church, for Gentiles will be saved after the rapture. When Israel shall turn to the Lord, the veil, now on their heart, and on the Old Testament scriptures will be removed. (2. Cor. 2: 14-16). Then all Israel, that is Israel as a nation will be saved. A nation will be born in a day. The Lord will appear as their deliverer on Mt. Olivet and Israel will enter into the meaning and blessing of the day of atonement. (v. 27). Other prophets/place a similar limit on the period of Israel’s rejection. Isaiah says that the land will be desolate until the Spirit be poured upon them from on high. (32: 15).

Then will be ushered in the true feast of tabernacles. Micah had prophesied that because the nation would smite the judge of Israel upon the cheek, they would be given up until she that travaileth hath brought forth. (5 : l-7). Then H,: shall be great to the ends of the earth. “For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matt. 23: 39; Ps. 118: 26). Thus in Rom. 11 we not only read of their present rejection, but also of their future restoration (v. 12); their reception (v. 1.5); their being grafted in again (v. 23); and all Israel being saved (v. 26). Ungodliness will be turned away from Jacob, and their sins will be taken away. This will coincide with the completion of the 70 weeks spoken of by Daniel the prophet. (9: 24). This future restoration of Israel is necessary for several reasons.

a. An irrevertible law of nature.

If the first-fruit be sanctified (Num. 15: 21); and if the root be holy, so must the lump and the branches. Abraham is the first-fruit and the root.

b. Unfulfilled prophecies. (v. 26).

As the prophecies concerning the birth and death of the Messiah have been literally fulfilled, so must those concerning His reigning over Israel and the nations. He is to be their “deliverer” their “God”, their kinsman Redeemer.

c. Unabrogated covenants with the fathers. (vs. 27-28).

In the epistle to the Galatians the apostle states that the promise made to Abraham and his seed is to be understood as referring to Christ. He is the one to whom the promise was made. These remain to be fulfilled.

d. Unchangeable love of God. (v, 28).

The purposes of God are as immutable as His throne. Moreover the apostle draws a comparison between the blessing received by the Gentiles now through Israel’s rejection, and the super-abounding blessing their restoration will bring to the world. Their restoration will be “life from the dead.” In millennial days there will not only be peace and prosperity, but the earth shall be tiled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Viewing this vast panorama, the apostle exclaims with wonder and amazement: “0 the depths of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out.” They are unfathomable, untrackable and unsearchable.

Part Four
(Chapters 12-16)

With chapter 12 we enter on the practical section of the epistle with its exhortations bearing on the life of the believer in its various relationships. Doctrine and duty are like Siamese twins, they cannot be separated except at the expense of the life of both. Redemption, as we have seen, leads to new spiritual relationships, and every new relationship in life has its corresponding new responsibility. The precepts and principles enunciated in these chapters are to govern the believer’s practice, his conduct in the various spheres of life. A person may qualify as a physician and not practice his profession, but no Christian should fail to put into practice the truth he has learnt, or the knowledge he has gained.

On the chart this section is divided into two; Responsibility chs.12-15: 13 and Review chs.15: 14; 16:27. These are illustrated in Numbers and Deuteronomy respectively. In Numbers we have the record of the pilgrim life of the people of God, the wilderness with its peculiar trials and testings, their sad and solemn failures which have been written for our learning. In the early chapters of Deuteronomy Moses reviews the past; their journeyings are seen in retrospect. He rehearses his own ministry as well as their experiences at Horeb, Kadesh-Barnea and Moab. In a similar way Paul epitomizes his service (15: 14-33) and makes reference to that of others. (16 : l-27).

Chapter 12: l-15; 13: 30-33

The responsibilities of the believer as delineated by the apostle may be grouped under the following headings.

1. His responsibility toward God. 12: l-2. The believer-a priest.

This takes priority over all the others. It is the setting of the compass, as it were, and therefore determines the course of the life. It is that which orientates the believer’s conduct in his many and marked relationships. It is the first of three exhortations found in this section of the epistle. It is an exhortation to dedication or consecration. The others are to intercession (15 : 30-33) and to separation (16 : 17). The apostle does not command, he beseeches. He bases his first on the “mercies of God.” These are often interpreted as referring to the believer’s salvation considered in chs.3-8, but the word “mercy” is found only in chs.9-11. (ch.9: 15, 16, 18; 11: 30, 31, 32). The word “therefore” connects the entreaty with the immediately preceding paragraph with its emphasis on the mercy of God upon Jew and Gentile alike. The exhortation is three-fold like a clover leaf.

(a) Present your bodies a living sacrifice. . .”

The word present “is a technical term for presenting the Levitical victims and offerings . . .” (Vincent). (cf. Luke 2: 22). The word is used in Luke 1: 19 “I am Gabriel that stand in the presence of God . . .” And of Abraham it is stated that “he stood by them . . .” It is suggestive of a perfect readiness to do whatever is required. The Levites were taken instead of the firstborn in Israel, those whom the Lord had specially sanctified for Himself by redemption on the night of the Passover. The Levites chosen in their place and appointed to a special service. (Num. 1: 50; 3: 45; 8: 5, 22), and they were specially presented. (3: 6). In connection with this there was a ceremonial cleansing by blood, by water, and by the razor. (8: 7, 12, 21). This ceremonial cleansing foreshadows what is expected of the believer, his offering is to be “holy and acceptable to the Lord.” This, says the apostle, is what should be our reasonable or logical act of worship. It is a priestly act. Just as the legs and inward parts of the Burnt offering were washed before they were offered, so the believer’s offering of himself is to be holy. The Lord desires truth in the inward parts. (Ps. 51: 6). In John 13 we have the record of the Lord washing the feet of Peter, but in ch.21 the Lord searches and cleanses the inward parts with the words, “Lovest thou me more than these?’ It was a spiritual cardiograph.

(b) “Be not conformed to this world”, or this age.

It is the present age in contrast to the coming age. Elsewhere in the New Testament it is referred to as “an evil age” (Gal. 1: l-4); “a faithless age” (Mk. 9: 19); “an adulterous age or generation” (Matt. 2: 39); “a wicked age” (Matt. 13: 45); “perverse and crooked . . .”(Luke 9: 9). These are the features, the characteristics of this age, and scripture teaches that Satan is the “God of this age.” (2. Cor. 4: 4). The Ephesian epistle reminds us that in our unconverted days we walked according to “the course of this age.” It is an age characterized by self-seeking and self-pleasing, a pleasure-loving age. The Christian is exhorted not to be conformed to it in its motives and aims.

(c) “But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind . . .”

The word “transformed” is used elsewhere of the believer only in 2. Cor. 3: 18 where it is translated “changed”. It is the word which describes the process by which the caterpillar is changed into a butterfly, a metamorphosis. It is a wonderful process by which a creeping grub, perforce earthly, is changed into a thing of inimitable beauty and enabled to fly. The transformation takes place in the secret of the cocoon. And is it not written for our admonition that they that wait upon the Lord, they that dwell in the secret place shall renew or change their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles. This change is to be brought about by the renewing of the mind. Such a continuing renewal should naturally follow the new birth referred to in Titus as the “washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” The mind is a very important organ, it is the organ of thought, and the enemy is waging a persistent warfare to capture the minds of men, especially of the young, by literature of all kinds. The mind is an important citadel which the believer is to jealously guard and fortify. The believer should be careful of his reading diet, and parents should be careful of what they provide for the family.

The word rendered “transformed” is used by Matthew and Luke when recording what took place on the “holy mount.” He was “transfigured” before them. Thereby they beheld His glory. In His case it was not a transformation as in the case of the believer, but the sudden manifestation of His glory through the “veil of His flesh.” For a very brief period the inward visibly transcended the outward.

The reference to the will of God is important. It is closely associated with the subject of the preceding chapters where the apostle dwells at some length on the will of God and His purposes of blessing for Jew and Gentile alike. The application of the words to the life of the individual is also included as is evident from the connection between it and the exhortations which follow with regard to service in the assembly, and the various duties enlarged upon in chs.12-I 5. “Thy will be done. . .” is an important petition. The many references to it in the New Testament are a proof of this. At his conversion Paul was told that the Lord had revealed Himself to Him in order that He might know His will. (Acts 22: 14). Later he prayed for the Colossian saints that they might be filled with a knowledge of His will. (Col. 19: 4: 12). This doubtless refers to the revealed will of God, the mystery of His will which He hath made known unto us. (Eph. 1: 9).

Some of the references to the will of God may be tabulated as follows :

1. His will as to His sovereign purpose for the supreme glory of Christ. (Eph. 1: 9).

2. His will in the matter of salvation. (1. Tim. 2: 4).

3. His will in the matter of separation. (Gal. 1: 4).

4. His will in the matter of sanctification (1. Thess. 4: 3; 2. Thess. 2: 13; Heb. 10: 9-10).

5. His will in the matter of supplication. (1 Thess. 5 : 18).

6. His will in the matter of suffering. (1 Pet. 4: 19).

7. His will in the matter of service. (Rom. 12 : 2). cf. Heb. 10 : 36; 1. John2: 17;Eph. 6: 6.

The believer’s responsibility in and to the assembly.12: 3-16.

The section begins and ends on the same note with a warning against megalomania; a rather prevalent disease that no-one is immune from. Each is warned against having a conceited opinion of his gift or importance. The verses fall into two groups.

(a) Gifts and their exercise. vs. 3-8.

This is one of three portions where reference is made to such gifts. A longer list is given in 1. Cor. 12: 7-11. It includes the miraculous and the sign gifts, and are said to be distributed by the Spirit according to His sovereign will. In this passage in Romans, written later than Corinthians, there are but seven. The miraculous and sign gifts are omitted. It is God who gives the gifts. The other passage where reference is made to gifts is Eph. 4. where the gifts are said to be men who are given as gifts by Christ to the church for its edification. In this passage, written some years later still, there are but five listed, two of which are said to be connected with the laying of the doctrinal foundation, leaving three gifts which are permanent, the evangelist, the pastor and teacher.
(For fuller treatment see “The Lord and the Churches” by the author)

Each of the passages dealing with the gifts speak of the church metaphorically as “the body of Christ” or “one body in Christ.” Of the five writers of the New Testament epistles Paul alone uses this metaphor. He uses it of the church in its entirety as in 1. Cor. 12 : 12- 13 ; Eph. 1: 22, and also of a local gathering such as the church at Corinth. “Ye are body of Christ” (12: 17). As they were not the body of Christ, the definite article is omitted. They were “body of Christ” characteristically. What is true of the whole should be true of the part. The members of the human body partake of a common life and are subject to a common authority. The same is true of the church in its entirety, and should be reflected in every assembly. The basic essential to fellowship is the possession of a common life in Christ, but the basic essential to harmony is submission to the common authority, to the Head.

The metaphor of the body and its members is suggestive of unity, diversity, harmony and interdependence. The metaphor militates against the notion of an office, or of an official position. For the exercise of the gift of prophecy a revelation was necessary. No-one could prophesy without having received a revelation from God. As the canon of scripture is now complete there can be no fresh revelation, and therefore there are no prophets today in this New Testament sense of the word. Whether in forth-telling or fore-telling the prophet spoke as one who had a revelation from the Lord. Any message anyone may give today must be from the revealed will of God in the scriptures. The ministry is a deaconing, service of any character. It does not pre-suppose an office or a position, but a God-given gift, as is the case with other gifts mentioned.

(b) Graces exhibited. vs. 9-16.

These are the virtues of Christ which the believer is to show forth. (1. Pet. 2: I0). They may be grouped and tabulated as follows :

(1) Sincerity. v. 9.

Love is to be without hypocrisy, while loathing that which is evil and cleaving to that which is good. It is love with discernment.

(2) Humility. v. 10, 16.

The apostle warns against spiritual pride. Lest he himself should have been lifted up with pride he was given a thorn in the flesh. Pride is the condemnation of the devil. It is one of the 13 things catalogued in Mk. 7: 21-23 as coming from within and defile the man. It is one of the seven things which are an abomination to the Lord in Prov. 6: 16-19.

(3) Service. v. 11.

Not slothful in business would be better rendered “not flagging in zeal.” The hands are not to be allowed to hang down in the service of the Lord.

(4) Stedfastness. v. 12.

Ruth was stedfastly minded, she would not be turned aside, and we are exhorted to “be stedfast . . . in the work of the Lord.” (1. Cor. 15 : 58). We are to continue stedfast in prayer. This is closely connected with the hope and the affliction.

(5) Liberality. v. 13.

This is an exhortation to share with others that which we enjoy.

(6) Forgiveness. v. 14.

At that time and for long years afterwards the Christians in Rome knew persecution at the hand of the Emperors. (cf. Luke 23: 34).

(7) Fellowship. v. 16.

The graces mentioned in this verse are illustrated in the first and last miracle of the Lord. He rejoiced at Cana and wept at the grave. These seven are like the grapes of Eschol and the fruit of the land. Num. 13: 23-25.

The believer’s responsibility to the world. 12: 17-21. The believer a pilgrim.

The claims of the cross once acknowledged and embraced will constitute the believer a stranger and a pilgrim. In the previous section he is seen as the Levite both at the altar presenting himself, and in the congregation serving (camp. Num. 4). Just as Israel found itself in a hostile wilderness so the Christian soon discovers that the world is at enmity with Christ and His gospel. The Psalmist could say “He has established my goings” while at the same time finding it necessary to pray, “Keep me, 0 Lord from the hands of the wicked who have purposed to overthrow my goings.” In the preceding verses we read of “one another”. We are “members one of another”, and are “to be kindly affectioned one to another”, in “honour preferring one another”, and “to be of the same mind one toward another”. In the Syriac version this is rendered, “What estimation you make of yourself, make also of others.” The expression “one another” appears again especially in chs.14-15, but in the verses under consideration we have the words “to no man” “all men” and “thine enemy”.

The Christian is not intended to live a vain hermit life. He will come into contact with the world around As all men have not faith he will receive evil at the hands of some, he will be persecuted by others, and some may even make him the object of their bitter hatred and enmity Then he will need to exercise patience and grace, rendering evil for evil to no man. He is to live peaceably with all, as much as lieth in him, even as the apostle said, “As much as in me is I am ready to evangelize . . ” (1: 15) He is to minister kindness to his enemies, thus heaping coals of fire on their heads, while giving no cause for reproach by providing for honest things, by seeking to make an honest livelihood in the sight of all men. As vengeance is the Lord’s, he is to give place to wrath, giving time and opportunity for God to work on his behalf, rather than attempt anything on his own in the energy of the flesh. David could have slain his enemy Saul when he was asleep in the cave, but he was preserved from doing so. The Lord committed Himself into the hands of Him that judgeth righteously, thereby leaving His followers an example. In relation to the world then the Christian is to be a witness by providing for his own, seeking to be at peace with all, and being ready to pardon, thereby overcoming evil with good.

The believer’s responsibility to the State. 13: 1-7.

In a day when disobedience to properly constituted law and order is so prevalent this section is important to every believer, especially when it is remembered that this was written at a time when Nero, one of the: basest of men that ever ruled, sat on the imperial throne, Resisting the power means resisting the ordinance of God. He that resists will receive damnation. Of necessity this is not the damnation of hell, but the condemnation of the magistrates. The minister of the state is a minister of God, and the Christian is to be subject for conscience sake. (v. 5). Four things are specified in this connection, tribute, custom, fear and honour.

A section like this however, needs to be considered in connection with others bearing on the same subject, for there are occasions when the child of God must, for conscience toward God, refuse to obey the edicts of men. The young men in Babylon were commanded to bow to the image; Peter and John were prohibited from speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus, whereas in a coming day the false prophet will seek to cause all men to worship the beast. In each of these cases where obedience to man would contravene the plain precepts of God that are binding on His people, the path of the believer is clear. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye, for we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.” Come wind, come weather or fire, the young men would not worship the image, and the apostles must preach. Hence in each case we have the seal of God’s approval on their action, as also in the Revelation.

The believer’s responsibility to his neighbour. 13 : 8-14.

“Owe no man anything.” This is a very simple but very pointed command. Would that it was carried out by all Christians. In India the question of debt is a very serious one. It is an uncommon thing to find anyone not in debt. In fact it is proverbial in certain parts that if a man is not in debt, it is because he is not to be trusted!

The Gospel of God demands and the inward dynamic it supplies should enable the believer to live above reproach, whether it be in financial matters (v. S), or in personal and social matters. (v. 13). That which the law demanded but. could not empower the individual to perform should be the natural consequence of the love of God having been shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Spirit. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour. On the contrary it should propel the believer with a divine urge to seek the neighbour’s blessing and salvation and this in view of the Lord’s near coming. “Our salvation is nearer than when we believed.” “We nightly pitch our tent moving tent a day’s march nearer home,” pitching our tent toward the sunrising. (Num.21 : I 11). The coming of the Lord will bring to an end life’s pilgrimage. During His absence it is night to the believer, albeit it is the day of grace to the world. Though it is night to the believer, he is to walk as in the day, walking in the light of the full-orbed revelation of God in a glorified Christ at God’s right hand.

Seeing “the night is far spent and the day is at hand” it is high time to awake out of sleep. “Sleep is for the sons of night.” Yet we are not without sad examples of the “children of the day” who have slept with most serious consequences to themselves and to others. Noah slept and his son was cursed! Samson slept and his locks were shorn, his power gone. Abner slept, when he was on guard, and it could have resulted in the death of the king. Jonah slept when the storm was raging, and had to be wakened by the Gentile mariners, with a rebuke. Peter, James and John slept on two occasions, thereby missing the conversation regarding the decease to be accomplished at Jerusalem, and the “fellowship of His sufferings” when in agony the Lord prayed in the garden. Only when they were awake did they see His glory

“Let us cast off the works of darkness . . .” . . . the old dress. “Letusput on the armour of light”. . . (Ex. 13:21) Walking at night in the country roads of India without a light is fraught with danger. Many have in that way become the victims of fatal snake-bites. Light is an armour, a weapon of defence on such occasions. It reveals the lurking enemy. “hct us walk honestly . . .” Let us walk with grace, walk as gentlemen, avoiding rioting and drunkenness – public sins that plunder the peace of the community; chambering and wantonness” personal sins that undermine the peace of the home; “strife and envying” social sins that commit sacrilege of the peace which should garrison the heart of the individual and the fellowship of the saints. These sins are like walking giants, sons of the giant of Gath. They must not be allowed to infiltrate into the personal or social life of the Christian. They are to be kept away by the believer putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, and taking no forethought for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.

In this connection it is; helpful to note that the believer is to put on (1) Christ (Gal. 3: 27); (2) The new man (Eph. 4: 24; Col. 3: 10); (3) Christ likeness (Col. 3: 12); (4) the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24: 49); (5) Armour (Ram. 13: 12;Eph. 6: I l-14; l.Thess.5:8);(6) In the future-immortality (1. Cor. 15 : 53); (7) Incorruptibility (I. Cor. 15: 53). 6. The believer’s responsibility towards those who are weak in the faith. 14: l-15; 13.

This is a portion of immense practical importance to every true Christian. It should be studied along with 1. Cor. 8-l1; where the apostle deals with the same matter but in another context. In Corinth it was in connection with the problem of “things offered unto idols.” Evidently some who claimed superior knowledge exercised what they considered their liberty in a way which was harmful to their fellow Christians (ch.8). the gospel, (ch.9) and to their own fellowship with God, (ch.10). The apostle discusses the matter at great length, but lays down no rules or regulations. We enunciates principles by which the Christian is to be guided. A carnal Christian can obey rules, but it takes spirituality to translate principles into practice. Jn Rome the problem was over the matter of the observance of days and eating or not eating certain meats. Those who had been converted from Judaism had not been fully delivered from the law, so they had scruples about these things which did not trouble those converted from among the Gentiles. In the epistle to the Galatians and Colossians stern warnings are given regarding these matters, but not in Romans.

The reason for the difference in his attitude is to be found in the fact that both in Galatia and Colosse there were false teachers who sought to impose their systematized error on the Christians, whereas in Rome it was a case of Christians who had not yet entered into the enjoyment of their liberty in Christ. Whereas the questions discussed in Corinthians and Romans do not present difficulties to the vast majority of Christians and Christian assemblies today, yet other questions constantly arise between believers demanding mutual consideration, which emphasizes the need of familiarity with these scriptures and submission to the principles therein given. It is not a question of how to deal with anyone who is in error with regard to any of the vital truths of the gospel or the person of Christ, but how to walk and maintain fellowship with those who differ on matters where liberty of conscience must be recognised.

Admonitions are given both to the strong and to the weak. In ch.14: l-9 the exhortations seem to be directed to the weak who was inclined to judge the strong. He is told not to judge another man’s servant. But in ch.14: l0-23 the exhortations are mainly directed to the strong who is reminded that the one whom he is inclined to despise or set at nought is his brother. Then in 15: 1-13 each one is to view the other as his neighbour. Altogether there are seven imperatives in the section, each beginning with the little word “Let”. (14:3,5,13,16:19;15:2). When these are considered it will be seen that there must be individual liberty. There must be room for spiritual exercise. The individual Christian is not to be a mere robot. Thousands of true Christians in many parts of the world are today suffering great hardship because of the failure to recognize this very important principle. There is individual accountability to God. Each one will have to give account of his behaviour at the judgment seat. Then there is to be mutual responsibility. Each one is to seek his neighbour’s good for his edification. The Christian community is the kingdom of God, a theocracy, a theocratic society, and should not be concerned with such outward things as what should we eat or drink, but with the weightier matters of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

The apostle lays down certain broad principles which we do well to note.

(a) Grace must be shown. (14: l-9).

Grace to accede to the other the sincerity of desire to walk as before God which we think we have. That will save us from a censorious spirit which would impetuously urge inefficient hands to remove the mote from the other’s eye before removing the beam from our own. Grace to deal drastically with oneself, and gently with the other, granting him the liberty of conscience to act before God that we desire for ourselves. Grace to remember that we are not his master, but his fellow-servant. Grace and peace are vitally united. Therefore in the interest of peace may great grace be upon us.

(b) Love must motivate us. (14: 10-23).

Love will constrain us not to put an occasion to stumble in our brother’s way, remembering that it is a serious thing to lag behind one’s conscience or walk ahead of one’s light. To cast away a good conscience will inevitably lead to a shipwreck of the faith. While nothing is unclean of itself, that is, no food, yet, if my example emboldens a brother to do something against his conscience, howbeit unenlightened- 1 am not controlled by love. Our good, or our liberty in Christ, if un-garrisoned by love for our brethren, will be evil spoken of. The love of Christ should constrain us to seek our brother’s good and edification, not pleasing ourselves, remembering Him who pleased not Himself.

(c) Patience must be exercised. (15 : I-13).

This is necessary if we are to bear the infirmities of the weak, who like the poor are always with us. This is to be derived from the God of patience, and the inhaling of the atmosphere of patience which pervades the Old Testament scriptures in the way they reveal the patience of God with His people. Where, as often is the case, in one assembly believers differ in nationality, in temperament, in social upbringing and in spiritual apprehension, how needful the exhortation, “Ye have need of patience.” We all seem so slow to learn. Besides these major graces there are other important facts in the light of which our mutual relationships must be regulated.

(1) God hath received him. (14: 3).

Hence we are to receive him. We are not to assume a Pharasaic attitude of superior holiness. That either refused the other their privilege to partake of the Lord’s supper can hardly be what is implied, but they were in danger of ostracizing each other by failing to cultivate mutual fellowship. But from 16: 5, 14, 15 it is evident that there: were several groups of believers in the city meeting in various places. Did the believers begin to gravitate 10 the one or other according to their racial prejudices and conscientious scruples? Aquilla and Priscilla were Jews while those mentioned in vv. 14, 15 were Gentile converts. This being so, loss of fellowship and lack of confidence in each other could easily develop on account of their differences, needing the exhortation, “Receive ye one another, as also Christ received us to the glory of Cod.” If such was the case, things were very serious, but it is IDOL without its analagous condition in the assemblies in many parts of the world today. The exhortation in 16: 17 to “mark them which cause divisions and offences” or cause of stumbling indicates that the Judaizing teachers were active trying to make capital out of the differences which existed among the Christians. They were out to create a party for themselves and deceived the simple by their fair speeches like Absalom. (2. Sam. 15: l-6).

These were to be avoided. The Christians were to keep an eye on them, and turn away from them, for they were making a living by their false teaching. No servant of God should ever create a division or foster a party spirit, or encourage a factious attitude. (2) The Lordship of Christ. (14: l-9). No less than ten times in these verses the title “Lord” is used, emphasizing that it is to this end, that He might be Lord, that He died and lived again. He is, by virtue of His death and resurrection, Lord of both the dead and the living. The weak judged the strong, and suspected that his liberty would lead to disaster, but they are assured that the Lord is able to make them stand. We are the Lord’s possession whether we live or die. This each one is to remember.

(3) The judgment seat of Christ. (14: 10-12).

The reference in v. 9 to Christ being Lord of both the dead and the living naturally leads to the contemplation of the fact that He is the judge, and that all must give an account to Him. He and He alone is to judge the motives and the reasons for the actions. Paul is the only writer of the New Testament who refers to this-judgment seat-the bema. It is not to be confused with the Great White Throne. The references to the judgment seat make it evident that only believers will appear there. It is not a place where the eternal state or destiny of the individual is to be determined, but where the Christian’s life and service will be reviewed. (1. Cor. 3: 12-l 5; 2. Cor. 5: 10). The apostle calls upon the believer to ante-date that judgment seat, by ever seeking to live in its light.

(4) The death of Christ. 5: 5, camp. 1, Cor. 8 : 11.

“Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died.” By failing to walk in love, to walk charitably, the strong might lead the weak to do something which, being against his conscience, would mar his sense of peace, and possibly ruin his life and witness. The use of the word “destroy” here does not suggest that the weak would be eternally lost. The fact that Christ loved him unto the uttermost, even unto death, is pressed upon the strong as an appeal to walk in love. The subject is developed more fully in I. Cor. 8.

(5) The example of Christ. (15: 3).

“He pleased not Himself:” The words “The reproaches of them that reproached the fell on me” are a quotation from Ps. 69: 9. 111 seeking to urge upon them that they were not to be self-indulgent or self-gratifying, the apostle says, “Christ also pleased not Himself.” He voluntarily endured the hatred and enmity of the Pharisees and Saducees and the elders in order to accomplish our redemption and thereby bring glory to His God and Father. The good and blessing of others and the glory of God were thus His aim, and so it should be ours.

(6) The oneness of all believers. (4-13).

“That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 6). They are exhorted to receive one another as Christ had received them. In 14: 1 the strong were exhorted to receive the weak, here they are commanded to receive one another, without racial or national differences, without respect of persons as Christ had received them. That the command to receive one another has in view the national prejudices is clear from the following verses in which he shows that the coming of Christ embraced in its purpose of blessing both Jew and Gentile alike. “For 1 say unto you that Jesus Christ was the minister of circumcision to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.” In proof of this latter four quotations from the Old Testament are given from Moses, David and Isaiah. There is a progression of truth revealed in these scriptures. First there is a reference to the proclamation of the gospel to the Gentiles, then to the fact that the! would rejoice with His people, and that they would join in praise and worship of Jehovah, and finally that the Lord is to reign over the Gentiles. These scriptures will know their complete fulfillment when the Lord returns, but they are applied by the apostle to the present period. They do not in any way conflict with what is stated elsewhere that the truth spoken of as “the mystery” was only revealed to the apostle by the Holy Spirit. (1. Cor. 2: 9-10).

They were exhorted to exercise mutual love and forbearance in the light of these important facts. Moreover the fact that Paul, the once bigoted Pharisee, was now a minister of Jesus Christ o the Gentiles enabled him to be bold in his appeal to them.

(7) The believer’s responsibility to the servants of Christ.15 : 30-33.

Paul looked forward with joy to being in Rome “in the fulness of the blessing of Christ,” but he was apprehensive as to what might happen in Jerusalem. Even the gift for the saints which he would be taking might not be received without prejudice. The apostle was not beyond being affected by unfavourable circumstances. He knew experimentally the bitter bigotry and enmity of the Jews to the gospel and to himself as its chief exponent. Hence he beseeches them to agonize together with him in prayer.

(a) For deliverance from those that believed not in Jerusalem. (Acts 21: 18).

(b) That the gift might prove acceptable, (Acts 21: 7).

(c) That he might come with joy by the will of God to them. (Acts 23: 11; 28: 15).

One is tempted to ask if the saints in Rome agonized in prayer as they should have? Did Paul suffer unnecessarily because of insufficient prayer? Do the servants of God today suffer because of inadequate prayer on the part of the saints?

(Chapters 15: 14-16: 25)

This is considered by many to be the epilogue of the epistle. As in the introduction, so here, the apostle: makes many illuminating references to his service. He speak.: of it in a variety of ways. The section may be considered under-five following headings:.

(a) Paul and his preaching. “ . . . the grace that is given to me of God that I should be a minister of Jesus Christ.”

The word “minister” (leitourgon) is used in Heb. 8: 2 of the Lord Jesus Christ in His high priestly character. It is also used of angels (Heb. 1: 7); of Epaphroditus (Phil. 2: 2.5); and also of magistrates in Rom. 13: 6. Thus the word is not exclusively used to denote service of a priestly nature, though from the context here it is evident that it is priestly ministry that is referred to. 4s such Paul ministered in the gospel ; he rendered sacrificial service. “The preaching of the gospel is thus a sacred rite, and the preacher a ministering priest.” (C.F.1-T.). (cf. 12: I ; 1: 9). His wave offering, his oblation, however, consisted of saved sinners, acceptable to God by virtue of having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit. “Just as the sacrifice of old had to be free from defect and cleansed with water, so the offering of believers themselves must be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, that. all may be acceptable to God.” (W.E.V.). The use of the perfect particle “having been sanctified” indicates; that the work of the Spirit contemplated here is the same as that referred to in 3. Thess. 2: 13. It is that which is accomplished by the Spirit leading to conversion. The apostle was looking forward to the day when he would present the fruit of his labour as a wave-offering to God. (Col. I : 28). Some maintain that this is restricted to the apostle, but surely every servant will thus present his work to God.

But Paul is not only a priest. He speaks of himself as an evangelist v. 20, teacher or builder v. 20; pastor or shepherd with a care for the poor saints vv. 25-26; and as a deacon v. 25.

(b) Paul and the poor. (vv. 25-26).

Paul appealed for financial help for the poor. It seems to have been the only cause for which he made such an appeal. And there must have been a great many such poor people in Jerusalem for the apostle to make the wide appeal he did among the Gentile believers. He speaks of this gift as fruit.

(c) Paul and his plans. (vv. 20.39).

Paul’s ever present and strong ambition was to preach the gospel where Christ was not named. This is the force of the word “strive”. It is used elsewhere in 2. Cor. 5: 9; 1. Thess. 4: 11). It was this ambition not to build on another man’s foundation that had hindered him from going earlier to Rome. It would seem that they had been anxious for him to come to them, and that it was necessary for him to give an explanation as to the delay. He planned ahead, but left all subject to the will of God. Whether he ever reached Spain we are not told, but his earnest desire and fervent zeal to penetrate new fields with the message is recorded for our example.

(d) Paul and prayer. (vv. 30-33).

In several of his letters the apostle solicited the fellowship of the people of God in prayer. He felt the need and sought their co-operation

(e) Paul and his fellow-helpers. ch.16: l-16; 21-23.

Having rehearsed his own service and his aspirations for the future, the apostle proceeds to pass on his salutations to the many in Rome, whom he knew, and whom he had evidently known while serving the Lord in the many places where he had laboured. The list is a long and remarkable one. it is very cosmopolitan. There are Jews and Gentilas, also men and women, rich and poor, freeborn and slaves. But they are not viewed as such, but in their relationship to Christ. Racial and national differences are superceded by a higher bond, that of being “in Christ.” Nothing derogatory is said about any of them, but much that is praiseworthy is said about many of them. Phoebe is commended as a sister, a servant and a succourer. Just in what capacity she served as a deaconess we are not told, but it is not likely that there was any such an official group. Her going to Rome was availed of as an opportunity to send the letter to the saints there. Her service was evidently of a purely voluntary nature. But the mention of her name and that of other women shows how the gospel had elevated the status of women in that part of the world. The emancipation of women is one of the great by-products of the gospel, which women in the west do well to remember.

Priscilla and Aquilla are a wonderful couple, and the fact that her name appears first in four of the six places where they are mentioned is suggestive also. They had been driven out of Rome by the emperor’s decree and had gone to Corinth, where they met the apostle. There they learnt that “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the deep and rides upon the storm.” At Corinth they came to know the Lord, and became fellow-workers of the apostle, and ever after their home was a home for the Lord and His people. Appelles is the “approved in Christ”, a most enviable record. The name of Philologus is a very suggestive one. Was it his original name, or was it a name given to him by the believers as indicative of his love for the Living Word and the written word? Possibly it was. Would that there were more like him. The “Junia” of v. 7 is likely the shortened form of Junianus,

a man. He and Adronicus were kinsmen of the apostle and had been his fellow-prisoners. They were of note among the apostles as messengers of the churches. Paul lovingly acknowledges that they were “in Christ” before him. They had doubtless prayed for him much. This section is a suggestive cameo of the Judgment Seat when everything that is praiseworthy will be recognised and rewarded.

After conveying his own greetings to them he conveys those of his fellow-workers, Timothy and others. It would rejoice the heart of his readers to know that in Corinth there were men like Erastus, Gaius and Quartus. The whole portion breathes of an atmosphere of a warm and intimate and cordial affection.

(f) Paul and the enemies of the cross. (vv. 17-20).

The Judaizing false teachers evidently travelled far and wide to spread their nefarious doctrine, so the apostle warns the Christians about them, and those who would turn the grace of God into an opportunity to live to the lusts of the flesh, thereby causing scandal and a factious spirit. The apostle makes it clear that these men were instruments of Satan seeking to deceive the Christians by fair speeches. Christians are to mark such and turn away from them, and adhere to the truth. He assures them of ultimate victory, and expresses his confidence in their stedfastness.

(Chapter 16: 25 – 27)

In these verses reference is made to his dual stewardship, that of the gospel and of the mystery. The epistle begins with a reference to the Old Testament scriptures and ends with a reference to the new, the prophetic writings, in which the truth relative to the mystery is unfolded. In the Colossian letter he asserts that to him had been committed the stewardship of completing the word of God, the revelation of the mystery. (Col. I : 23-26).

In bringing these brief studies to a close it would be well to draw attention to the way the apostle speaks of God. He establishes the righteousness of God in a very emphatic way as also the sovereignty and faithfulness of God. He also uses some significant titles. We speaks of the uncorruptible God, (I : 23), the God of patience, the God of hope, and the God of peace, who is to bruise Satan under THEIR feet. (15: 5, 13,33; 16: 20). Then in the doxology he refers to the Eternal God, and the only wise God. And in exhorting them to unity he speaks of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I 5 : 6). “To whom be glory forever through Jesus Christ.” Amen.