on Romans 4 :25
Who was delivered for our offenses - Who was delivered up to death as a sacrifice for our sins; for in what other way, or for what other purpose could He, who is innocence itself, be delivered for our offenses?
And was raised again for our justification - He was raised that we might have the fullest assurance that the death of Christ had accomplished the end for which it took place; viz. our reconciliation to God, and giving us a title to that eternal life, into which he has entered, and taken with him our human nature, as the first-fruits of the resurrection of mankind.
1. From a careful examination of the Divine oracles it appears that the death of Christ was an atonement or expiation for the sin of the world: For him hath God set forth to be a Propitiation through Faith in His Blood, Romans 3:25. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ Died For the Ungodly, Romans 5:6. And when we were Enemies, we were Reconciled to God by the Death of his Son, Romans 5:10. In whom we have Redemption Through His Blood, the Forgiveness of Sins, Ephesians 1:7. Christ hath loved us, and Given Himself for Us, an Offering and a Sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour, Ephesians 5:2. In whom we have Redemption Through His Blood, the Forgiveness of Sins, Colossians 1:14. And having made Peace Through the Blood of his Cross, in the Body of His Flesh, through Death, Colossians 1:20, Colossians 1:22. Who Gave Himself a Ransom for all, 1 Timothy 2:6. Who Gave Himself for Us, that he might Redeem us from all iniquity, Titus 2:14. By which will we are sanctified, through the Offering of the Body of Jesus Christ, Hebrews 10:10. So Christ was once Offered to Bear the Sins of many, Hebrews 9:28. See also Ephesians 2:13, Ephesians 2:16; 1 Peter 1:18, 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:9. But it would be transcribing a very considerable part of the New Testament to set down all the texts that refer to this most important and glorious truth.
2. And as his death was an atonement for our sins, so his resurrection was the proof and pledge of our eternal life. See 1 Corinthians 15:17; 1 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 1:14, etc.,etc.
3. The doctrine of justification by faith, which is so nobly proved in the preceding chapter, is one of the grandest displays of the mercy of God to mankind. It is so very plain that all may comprehend it; and so free that all may attain it. What more simple than this? Thou art a sinner, in consequence condemned to perdition, and utterly unable to save thy own soul. All are in the same state with thyself, and no man can give a ransom for the soul of his neighbor. God, in his mercy, has provided a Savior for thee. As thy life was forfeited to death because of thy transgressions, Jesus Christ has redeemed thy life by giving up his own; he died in thy stead, and has made an atonement to God for thy transgressions; and offers thee the pardon he has thus purchased, on the simple condition, that thou believe that his death is a sufficient sacrifice, ransom, and oblation for thy sin; and that thou bring it as such, by confident faith, to the throne of God, and plead it in thy own behalf there. When thou dost so, thy faith in that sacrifice shall be imputed to thee for righteousness; i.e. it shall be the means of receiving that salvation which Christ has bought by his blood.
4. The doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ, as held by many, will not be readily found in this chapter, where it has been supposed to exist in all its proofs. It is repeatedly said that Faith is imputed for righteousness; but in no place here, that Christ's obedience to the moral law is imputed to any man. The truth is, the moral law was broken, and did not now require obedience; it required this before it was broken; but, after it was broken, it required death.
Either the sinner must die, or some one in his stead: but there was none whose death could have been an equivalent for the transgressions of the world but Jesus Christ. Jesus therefore died for man; and it is through his blood, the merit of his passion and death, that we have redemption; and not by his obedience to the moral law in our stead. Our salvation was obtained at a much higher price. Jesus could not but be righteous and obedient; this is consequent on the immaculate purity of his nature: but his death was not a necessary consequent. As the law of God can claim only the death of a transgressor - for such only forfeit their right to life - it is the greatest miracle of all that Christ could die, whose life was never forfeited. Here we see the indescribable demerit of sin, that it required such a death; and here we see the stupendous mercy of God, in providing the sacrifice required. It is therefore by Jesus Christ's death, or obedience unto death, that we are saved, and not by his fulfilling any moral law. That he fulfilled the moral law we know; without which he could not have been qualified to be our mediator; but we must take heed lest we attribute that to obedience (which was the necessary consequence of his immaculate nature) which belongs to his passion and death. These were free-will offerings of eternal goodness, and not even a necessary consequence of his incarnation.
5. This doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ is capable of great abuse. To say that Christ's personal righteousness is imputed to every true believer, is not Scriptural: to say that he has fulfilled all righteousness for us, or in our stead, if by this is meant his fulfillment of all moral duties, is neither Scriptural nor true: that he has died in our stead, is a great, glorious, and Scriptural truth: that there is no redemption but through his blood is asserted beyond all contradiction; in the oracles of God. But there are a multitude of duties which the moral law requires which Christ never fulfilled in our stead, and never could. We have various duties of a domestic kind which belong solely to ourselves, in the relation of parents, husbands, wives, servants, etc., in which relations Christ never stood. He has fulfilled none of these duties for us, but he furnishes grace to every true believer to fulfill them to God's glory, the edification of his neighbor, and his own eternal profit. The salvation which we receive from God's free mercy, through Christ, binds us to live in a strict conformity to the moral law; that law which prescribes our manners, and the spirit by which they should be regulated, and in which they should be performed. He who lives not in the due performance of every Christian duty, whatever faith he may profess, is either a vile hypocrite, or a scandalous Antinomian.
on Romans 4 :25
Who was delivered - To death; compare the notes at Acts 2:23.
For our offences - On account of our crimes. He was delivered up to death in order to make expiation for our sins.
And was raised again - From the dead.
For our justification - On account of our justification. In order that we may be justified. The word "justification" here seems to be used in a large sense, to denote acceptance with God; including not merely the formal act by which God pardons sins, and by which we become reconciled to him, but also the completion of the work - the treatment of us as righteous, and raising us up to a state of glory. By the death of Christ an atonement is made for sin. If it be asked how his resurrection contributes to our acceptance with God, we may answer,
(1) It rendered his work complete. His death would have been unavailing, his work would have been imperfect, if he had not been raised up from the dead. He submitted to death as a sacrifice, and it was needful that he should rise, and thus conquer death and subdue our enemies, that the work which he had undertaken might be complete.
(2) his resurrection was a proof that his work was accepted by the Father. What he had done, in order that sinners might be saved, was approved. Our justification, therefore, became sure, as it was for this that he had given himself up to death.
(3) his resurrection is the main-spring of all our hopes, and of all our efforts to be saved. Life and immortality are thus brought to light, 2 Timothy 1:10. God "hath begotten us again to a lively hope (a living, active, real hope), by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," 1 Peter 1:3. Thus, the fact that he was raised becomes the ground of hope that we shall be raised and accepted of God. The fact that he was raised, and that all who love him shall be raised also, becomes one of the most efficient motives to us to seek to be justified and saved. There is no higher motive that can be presented to induce man to seek salvation than the fact that he maybe raised up from death and the grave, and made immortal. There is no satisfactory proof that man can be thus raised up, but the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In that resurrection we have a pledge that all his people will rise. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him," 1 Thessalonians 4:14. "Because I live," said the Redeemer, "ye shall live also," John 14:19; compare 1 Peter 1:21.
on Romans 4 :25
4:25 Who was delivered - To death. For our offences - As an atonement for them. And raised for our justification - To empower us to receive that atonement by faith.