The Conclusion Of The Whole Matter Summed Up. Vs. 18 (continued)
Fifthly, it ought to be obvious to all that it is impossible to carry through the misinterpretation of the Arminian universalists, and give due consideration to the text and context in question, and to the teaching of all of Scripture. In the entire section a definite and clear-cut distinction is made between two definitely different classes of people, who are each related to a definite representative, that is, Adam and Christ respectively. Of the class represented by Adam, the figure of Christ, it is said that “they die” (vs. 15), “they are condemned” (vss. 16, 18), “they are made sinners” (vs. 19). On the other hand those represented in Christ are said to be such that to them “the grace of God and the gift of grace hath abounded” (vs. 15), “that they are freely justified from many offenses” (vss. 16, 18), “that they shall reign in life through Jesus Christ” (vs. 17), “that they are regarded and treated as righteous” (vs. 19).
It is the position of Arminians and Universalist dreamers that both of these various realities can be spoken of and to impenitent sinners and hardened reprobates. Pray, can this too both be said of the children of God? What Dr. Hodge has to say concerning this is well worth noticing. We quote the following from his orthodox pen. ” . . . It is not possible so to eviscerate these declarations as to make them contain nothing more than that the chance of salvation is offered to all men. To say that a man is justified, is not to say that he has the opportunity of justifying himself; and to say that a man shall reign in life, is not to say that he may possibly be saved. Who ever announces to a congregation of sinners, that they are all justified, they are all constituted righteous, they all have the justification of life? The interpretation which requires all these strong and plain declarations to be explained in a sense which they confessedly have nowhere else in the Bible, and makes them mean hardly anything at all, is at variance with every sound principle of construction. If the all in the latter part of the verse is coextensive with the all in the former (verse 18, G.L.), the passage of necessity teaches universal salvation; for it is impossible that to be justified, constituted righteous, can mean simply that justification is offered to all men. The all who are justified are saved. If therefore the all means all men, the apostle teaches that all men are saved. And this is the use to which many Universalists have put the passage. As, however, not only the Scriptures generally, but Paul himself, distinctly teach that all men are not saved, as in II Thess. 1:9, this interpretation cannot be admitted by any who acknowledge the inspiration of the Bible. It is moreover an unnatural interpretation, even if the attention be limited to this one passage; because as death on account of Adam supposes union with Adam, so life on account of Christ supposes union with Christ. It is all who are in Adam who are condemned for his offense, and the all who are in Christ who are justified by his righteousness. The modern German commentators, even those who do not hesitate to differ from the apostle, admit this to be the meaning of the passage. Thus Meyer says, ‘Die pantes anthroopoi (all men) in the first clause, are die gesammtheit der Adams-generation and in the second clause, die gesammtheit der Christus-generation.’ Philippi says, ‘The limitation of the pantes(all) anthrooopoi (men) is of necessity to be assumed. It can only mean all who believe . . . . . .’ The Apostle views, on the one hand, the generation of those lost in Adam, and on the other, the generation of those saved in Christ.”
Finally, we may observe in the light of the foregoing that throughout this entire section Paul definitely distinguishes between two classes which are both called “the many.” He never speaks here of either of these classes without employing the definite article in the Greek text. These two classes are on the one hand the “many” who died in Adam and because of the one transgression; on the other hand, they are the many who are represented by Christ, the multitude of the children of Abraham in the Seed. Confer for the many who die in Adam vss. 15a, 19a, and for the many who are justified in Christ the verses 15b and 19b.
The State Of Guilt And The State Of Innocency Legally Established. Vs. 19
In verse 19 Paul elucidates upon what he had taught in verse 18. He underscores here that the condemnation of the whole class called “all” in Adam is irrevocable. It is a matter which transpired in the court of God, where the judgment-seats are set. It was a legal act of the Judge. God had announced to Adam, “The day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Gen. 2:17b. And when Adam took from the tree of knowledge of good and evil from the hand of his fallen wife, he died by the verdict of God. God executed His righteous sentence! This is what Paul calls special attention to in verse 19. Writes he, “For even as through the disobedience of one man the many were constituted sinners . . . .” The KJV has “made sinners” while the Staten Vertaling has “zondaren gesteld.” Luther translates “Sundergeworden.” The Holland translation “gesteld” comes most nearly to the meaning of the verb in Greek “katestatheesan,” which is third person, Aorist passive. We all were placed, in one moment, by the act of the judge in the state of sinners. We were placed in the legal status of death, and in this status we have only the right of condemnation to the camp of sinners. We are Harmavtooloi. That is our new legal name, horrible that it may be. Such is the case with the many, the Hoi Polloi. This is the entire human race in one man’s disobedience! Such is the nature and the manner of the condemnation which is on “all” in Adam!
But, thanks be to God, that is not where the case rests. Jesus Christ was sent into this world. The Son of God is called Jesus. And he came to give his life a ransom for many. And the many whom he came to save are surely saved and shall be saved. Thus was the divine intent and purpose of God by the Fall through the one disobedience of the one man, Adam in Paradise. Here too the apostle employs the same verb as in the former part of the sentence. He writes shall be made righteous, having the right to eternal life. And this happens not to those who. are worthy, but to godless and guilty ones, to the other Hoi Polloi, to those represented by Christ. The apostle writes, “shall be established righteous.” That too is the verdict of God. It is no long process in history to which Paul here refers. It is to the verdict of God at Calvary, when Christ said before God, the angels, and all of the elect, “It is finished.” For the future passive verb kata-statheesontiindicates what grammarians designate as punctiliar action. Such it usually does, and such it does here very emphatically. The verdict of God from His throne is finished. Adam is indeed the figure of him who was to come. We now have the right to be righteous; we have been declared righteous in the court of God. Nothing can ever change it, for the just demand of the law has been fulfilled! What Christ died, he died once, and what he lives, he lives unto God. It is thus established upon the merits of the obedience of the one man, Jesus Christ, the eternal Son in our flesh.
The Transgression Made To Abound By The Bringing In Of Law, Vs. 20
Paul has some remarkable things to say about the “law”, the principle of law. In Rom. 4:14 he says, “. . . the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.” And again in this chapter 5 of Romans he writes, “But sin is not imputed where there is no law.” Thus in Romans 8:7b, Paul writes, “. . . but I had not known sin except through law.” In Gal. 3:21 he writes “for if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness should have been out of law.” InI Cor. 15:56 he calls the law the power of sin.
The law can only make sin exceedingly sinful. The law is weak; it cannot save the guilty sinner, and it cannot make a corrupt sinner good. Thus we read in Rom. 8:3, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh . . . .”
In the light of the foregoing excerpts from Paul’s pen it becomes very interesting and important to notice what Paul adds here in verse 20. Writes he, “Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound . . .” It is clear from the entire context that “the offense” is here the one disobedience of Adam. That is definitely its meaning here. Certainly there was a law which had been transgressed by Adam. It was the original command of God relative the forbidden tree in Paradise. However, here Paul refers to a law which was subsequently added. Since Paul does not write here in the Greek “the” law, but simply law, we believe that Paul has in mind any commandment which God gave to man subsequently to the Fall. Such is the meaning of the verb in the Greek here. It is a composite verb. It is par-eis-eelthen. To enter into beside, it means. The tense indicates that Paul has in mind the totality of the bringing in of law, any law, viewed in one whole. It is evidently what is called a constative Aorist. It is a snapshot picture of all of law in every age and clime: moral, ceremonial, and civil.
Common grace enthusiasts as well as moralists like to speak of checking of sin, and of improvement through law and education. Paul does not teach such here. He makes a point of it to teach that God would show the enormity of the sin which was latent in that one transgression of Adam. The great transgression of Adam must abound in much sin, as being definitely “sin,” transgression of law. Not that law can ever be a means of salvation as did teach that arch-heretic Pelagius! Nay, God would indeed show that this one Transgression would manifest itself in many transgressions. And this sin is caused to abound. Not because the law or any “law” is evil; nay the evil is in man who is established by God as being a sinner! This is a profound and startling reality. It is the “key of knowledge” to understand that phenomenon that where you have more law you have more sin revealing itself. For law puts fuel on the fire of sin and causes it to erupt. The more civilized the world, the more horrible the transgressions.
Look at Israel under law. Was there ever a people as evil as Israel of old. Is there ever such iniquity as one finds in the most highly developed civilization. Of course not! Why? Because there is no law that can make alive, that can make one willing to obey it.
Man only learns his misery out of law!
That was the divine intent of law, as law—apart from grace!
This alone explains what is called by moralists that what we are experiencing is the “Moral Breakdown.” It is not a moral breakdown, but it is a breaking through of the floodgates of unrighteousness under law! Sin is manifestly lawlessness!
The Triumph Of Grace In The Midst Of Sin Abounding. Vs. 21.
Grace reigns in the church through righteousness into life eternal. Where sin abounds grace does much more abound!
In the righteousness of Christ which is without law, whereas it is the free gift of God in Christ, grace reigns. Christ has broken the back of sin. He has condemned sin in the flesh. He has taken away death, death in its full scope: temporal, spiritual, and eternal. The verdict of God is that the righteous shall live. The gift of God is eternal life. Those who receive this gift reign through Christ. The victory is complete, it is over all of sin manifestly revealed to be sin.
Grace gives us the complete victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. Saved by his death, we are much more saved by his life. Remain in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!