on Romans 5 :15
But not as the offense, so also is the free gift - The same learned writer, quoted above, continues to observe: -
"It is evident that the apostle, in this and the two following verses, is running a parallel, or making a comparison between the offense of Adam and its consequence; and the opposite gift of God and its consequences. And, in these three verses, he shows that the comparison will not hold good in all respects, because the free gift, χαρισμα, bestows blessings far beyond the consequences of the offense, and which, therefore, have no relation to it. And this was necessary, not only to prevent mistakes concerning the consequence of Adam's offense, and the extent of Gospel grace; but it was also necessary to the apostle's main design, which was not only to prove that the grace of the Gospel extends to all men, so far as it takes off the consequence of Adam's offense, (i.e. death, without the promise or probability of a resurrection), but that it likewise extends to all men, with respect to the surplusage of blessings, in which it stretches far beyond the consequence of Adam's offense. For, the grace that takes off the consequence of Adam's offense, and the grace which abounds beyond it, are both included in the same χαρισμα, or free gift, which should be well observed; for in this, I conceive, lie the connection and sinews of the argument: the free gift, which stands opposed to Adam's offense, and which, I think, was bestowed immediately after the offense; Genesis 3:15 : The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. This gift, I say, includes both the grace which exactly answers to the offense, and is that part of the grace which stretches far beyond it. And, if the one part of the gift be freely bestowed on all mankind, as the Jews allow, why not the other? especially, considering that the whole gift stands upon a reason and foundation in excellence and worth, vastly surpassing the malignity and demerit of the offense; and, consequently, capable of producing benefits vastly beyond the sufferings occasioned by the offense. This is the force of the apostle's argument; and therefore, supposing that in the 18th and l9th verses, literally understood, he compares the consequence of Adam's offense and Christ's obedience, only so far as the one is commensurate to the other, yet his reasoning, Romans 5:15-17, plainly shows that it is his meaning and intention that we should take into his conclusion the whole of the gift, so far as it can reach, to all mankind."
For if, through the offense of one, many be dead - That the οἱ πολλοι, the many of the apostle here means all mankind needs no proof to any but that person who finds himself qualified to deny that all men are mortal. And if the many, that is, all mankind, have died through the offense of one; certainly, the gift by grace, which abounds unto τους πολλους, the many, by Christ Jesus, must have reference to every human being. If the consequences of Christ's incarnation and death extend only to a few, or a select number of mankind - which, though they may be considered many in themselves, are few in comparison of the whole human race - then the consequences of Adam's sin have extended only to a few, or to the same select number: and if only many, and not all have fallen, only that many had need of a Redeemer. For it is most evident that the same persons are referred to in both clauses of the verse. If the apostle had believed that the benefits of the death of Christ had extended only to a select number of mankind, he never could have used the language he has done here: though, in the first clause, he might have said, without any qualification of the term, Through the offense of one, Many are dead; in the 2nd clause, to be consistent with the doctrine of particular redemption, he must have said, The grace of God, and the gift by grace, hath abounded unto Some. As by the offense of one judgment came upon All men to condemnation; so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon Some to justification, Romans 5:18. As, by one man's disobedience, Many were made sinners; so, by the obedience of one, shall Some be made righteous, Romans 5:19. As in Adam All die; so, in Christ, shall Some be made alive, 1 Corinthians 15:22. But neither the doctrine nor the thing ever entered the soul of this divinely inspired man.
Hath abounded unto many - That is, Christ Jesus died for every man; salvation is free for all; saving grace is tendered to every soul; and a measure of the Divine light is actually communicated to every heart, John 1:9. And, as the grace is offered, so it may be received; and hence the apostle says, Romans 5:17 : They which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by Christ Jesus: and by receiving is undoubtedly meant not only the act of receiving, but retaining and improving the grace which they receive; and, as all may receive, so All may improve and retain the grace they do receive; and, consequently, All may be eternally saved. But of multitudes Christ still may say, They Will not come unto me, that they might have life.
on Romans 5 :15
But not as the offence - This is the first point of contrast between the effect of the sin of Adam and of the work of Christ. The word "offence" means properly a fall, where we stumble over anything lying in our way It then means sin in general, or crime Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:35. Here it means the fall, or first sin of Adam. We use the word "fall" as applied to Adam, to denote his first offence, as being that act by which he fell from an elevated state of obedience and happiness into one of sin and condemnation.
So also - The gift is not in its nature and effects like the offence.
The free gift - The favor, benefit, or good bestowed gratuitously on us. It refers to the favors bestowed in the gospel by Christ. These are free, that is, without merit on our part, and bestowed on the undeserving.
For if ... - The apostle does not labor to prove that this is so. This is not the point of his argument, He assumes that as what was seen and known everywhere. His main point is to show that greater benefits have resulted from the work of the Messiah than evils from the fall of Adam.
Through the offence of one - By the fall of one. This simply concedes the fact that it is so. The apostle does not attempt an explanation of the mode or manner in which it happened. He neither says that it is by imputation, nor by inherent depravity, nor by imitation. Whichever of these modes may be the proper one of accounting for the fact, it is certain that the apostle states neither. His object was, not to explain the manner in which it was done, but to argue from the acknowledged existence of the fact. All that is certainly established from this passage is, that as a certain fact resulting from the transgression of Adam, "many" were "dead." This simple fact is all that can be proved from this passage. Whether it is to be explained by the doctrine of imputation, is to be a subject of inquiry independent of this passage. Nor have we a right to assume that this teaches the doctrine of the imputation of the sin of Adam to his posterity. For,
(1) The apostle says nothing of it.
(2) that doctrine is nothing but an effort to explain the manner of an event which the apostle Paul did not think it proper to attempt to explain.
(3) that doctrine is in fact no explanation.
It is introducing all additional difficulty. For to say that I am blameworthy, or ill-deserving for a sin in which I had no agency, is no explanation, but is involving me in an additional difficulty still more perplexing, to ascertain how such a doctrine can possibly be just. The way of wisdom would be, doubtless, to rest satisfied with the simple statement of a fact which the apostle has assumed, without attempting to explain it by a philosophical theory. Calvin accords with the above interpretation. "For we do not so perish by his (Adam's) crime, as if we were ourselves innocent; but Paul ascribes our ruin to him because his sin is the cause of our sin."
(This is not a fair quotation from Calvin. It leaves us to infer, that the Reformer affirmed, that Adam's sin is the cause of actual sin in us, on account of which last only we are condemned. Now under the twelfth verse Calvin says, "The inference is plain, that the apostle does not treat of actual sin, for if every person was the cause of his own guilt, why should Paul compare Adam with Christ?" If our author had not stopt short in his quotation, he would have found immediately subjoined, as an explanation: "I call that our sin, which is inbred, and with which we are born." Our being born with this sin is a proof of our guilt in Adam. But whatever opinion may he formed of Calvin's general views on this subject, nothing is more certain, than that he did not suppose the apostle treated of actual sin in these passages.
Notwithstanding of the efforts that are made to exclude the doctrine of imputation from this chapter, the full and varied manner in which the apostle expresses it, cannot be evaded. "Through the offence of one many be dead" - "the judgment was by one to condemnation" - "By one man's offence death reigned by one" - "By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation" - "By one man's disobedience, many were made sinners," etc.
It is vain to tell us, as our author does" under each of these clauses respectively, that the apostle simply states the fact, that the sin of Adam has involved the race in condemnation, without adverting to the manner; for Paul does more than state the fact. He intimates that we are involved in condemnation in a way that bears a certain analogy to the manner in which we become righteous. And on this last, he is, without doubt, sufficiently explicited See a former supplementary note.
In Romans 5:18-19 the apostle seems plainly to affirm the manner of the fact "as by the offence of one," etc., "Even so," etc. "As by one man's disobedience," etc., "so," etc. There is a resemblance in the manner of the two things compared. It we wish to know how guilt and condemnation come by Adam, we have only to inquire, how righteousness and justification come by Christ. "So," that is, in this way, not in like manner. It is not in a manner that has merely some likeness, but it is in the very same manner, for although there is a contrast in the things, the one being disobedience and the other obedience, yet there is a perfect identity in the manner. - Haldane.
It is somewhat remarkable, that while our author so frequently affirms, that the apostle states the fact only, he himself should throughout assume the manner. He will not allow the apostle to explain the manner, nor any one who has a different view of it from himself. Yet he tells us, it is not by imputation that we become involved in Adam's guilt; that people "sin in their own persons, and that therefore they die." This he affirms to be the apostle's meaning. And is this not an explanation of the manner. Are we not left to conclude, that from Adam we simply derive a corrupt nature, in consequence of which we sin personally, and therefore die?)
on Romans 5 :15
5:15 Yet not - St. Paul now describes the difference between Adam and Christ; and that much more directly and expressly than the agreement between them. Now the fall and the free gift differ, In amplitude, Rom 5:15. He from whom sin came, and He from whom the free gift came, termed also the gift of righteousness, differ in power, Rom 5:16. The reason of both is subjoined, Rom 5:17. This premised, the offence and the free gift are compared, with regard to their effect, Rom 5:18, and with regard to their cause, Rom 5:19.