on Romans 8 :1
There is, therefore, now no condemnation - To do justice to St. Paul's reasoning, this chapter must be read in the closest connection with the preceding. There we have seen the unavailing struggles of an awakened Jew, who sought pardon and holiness from that law which he was conscious he had broken; and in which he could find no provision for pardon, and no power to sanctify. This conviction having brought him to the very brink of despair, and, being on the point of giving up all hope, he hears of redemption by Jesus Christ, thanks God for the prospect he has of salvation, applies for and receives it; and now magnifies God for the unspeakable gift of which he has been made a partaker.
Those who restrain the word now, so as to indicate by it the Gospel dispensation only, do not take in the whole of the apostles meaning. The apostle has not been dealing in general matters only, but also in those which are particular. He has not been pointing out merely the difference between the two dispensations, the Mosaic and the Christian; but he marks out the state of a penitent under the former, and that of a believer under the latter. The last chapter closed with an account of the deep distress of the penitent; this one opens with an account of his salvation. The now, therefore, in the text, must refer more to the happy transition from darkness to light, from condemnation to pardon, which this believer now enjoys, than to the Christian dispensation taking the place of the Jewish economy.
Who walk not after the flesh, etc. - In this one verse we find the power and virtue of the Gospel scheme; it pardons and sanctifies; the Jewish law could do neither. By faith in our Lord Jesus Christ the penitent, condemned by the law, is pardoned; the carnal man, labouring under the overpowering influence of the sin of his nature, is sanctified. He is first freely justified; he feels no condemnation; he is fully sanctified; he walks not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit.
This last clause is wanting in the principal MSS., versions, and fathers. Griesbach has excluded it from the text; and Dr. White says, Certissime delenda; it should most undoubtedly be expunged. Without it, the passage reads thus: There is, therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus; for the law of the Spirit of life, etc. It is a fairly assumed point, that those who are in Christ Jesus, who believe in his name, have redemption in his blood; are made partakers of his Spirit, and have the mind in them that was in him; will not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit: therefore the thing itself is included in the being in Christ, whether it be expressed or not: and it was probably to make the thing more obvious, that this explanatory clause was added by some copyist, for it does not appear to have made an original part of the text; and it is most likely that it was inserted here from the fourth verse.
on Romans 8 :1
There is, therefore, now - This is connected with the closing verses of Romans 7. The apostle had there shown that the Law could not effect deliverance from sin, but that such deliverance was to be traced to the gospel alone; Romans 7:23-25. It is implied here that there was condemnation under the Law, and would be still, but for the intervention of the gospel.
No condemnation - This does not mean that sin in believers is not to be condemned as much as any where, for the contrary is everywhere taught in the Scriptures; but it means,
(1) That the gospel does not pronounce condemnation like the Law. Its function is to pardon; the function of the law is to condemn. The one never affords deliverance, but always condemns; the object of the other is to free from condemnation, and to set the soul at liberty.
(2) there is no final condemnation under the gospel. The function, design, and tendency of the gospel is to free from the condemning sentence of law. This is its first and its glorious announcement, that it frees lost and ruined people from a most fearful and terrible condemnation.
(The first verse of this chapter seems to be an inference from the whole preceding discussion. The apostle having established the doctrine of justification, and answered the objections commonly urged against it, now asserts his triumphant conclusion, "There is therefore, etc.; that is to say, it follows from all that has been said concerning the believer's justification by the righteousness of Christ, and his complete deliverance from the Law as a covenant, that to him there can be no condemnation. The design of Paul is not so much to assert the different functions of the Law and the gospel, as simply to state the fact in regard to the condition of a certain class, namely, those who are in Christ. To them there is no condemnation whatever; not only no final condemnation, but no condemnation now, from the moment of their union to Christ, and deliverance from the curse of the Law. The reason is this: that Christ hath endured the penalty, and obeyed the precept of the Law in their stead.
"Here," says Mr. Haldane on the passage, "it is often remarked that the apostle does not say, that there is in them (believers) neither matter of accusation, nor cause of condemnation; and yet this is all included in what he does say. And afterward, in express terms, he denies that they can be either accused or condemned, which they might be, were there any ground for either. All that was condemnable in them, which was sin, has been condemned in their Surety, as is shown in the third verse.")
Which are in Christ Jesus - Who are united to Christ. To be in him is an expression not seldom used in the New Testament, denoting close and intimate union. Philippians 1:1; Philippians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 16:7-11. The union between Christ and his people is compared to that between the vine and its branches John 15:1-6, and hence, believers are said to be in him in a similar sense, as deriving their support from him, and as united in feeling, in purpose, and destiny. (See the supplementary note at Romans 8:10.) Who walk. Who conduct, or live. Note, Romans 4:12. Not after the flesh. Who do not live to gratify the corrupt desires and passions of the flesh; Note, Romans 7:18. This is a characteristic of a Christian. What it is to walk after the flesh may be seen in Galatians 5:19-21. It follows that a man whose purpose of life is to gratify his corrupt desires, cannot be a Christian. Unless he lives not to gratify his flesh, he can have no evidence of piety. This is a test which is easily applied; and if every professor of religion were honest, there could be no danger of mistake, and there need be no doubts about his true character.
But after the Spirit - As the Holy Spirit would lead or prompt. What the Spirit produces may be seen in Galatians 5:22-23. If a man has these fruits of the Spirit, he is a Christian; if not, he is a stranger to religion, whatever else he may possess. And this test also is easily applied.
on Romans 8 :1
8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation - Either for things present or past. Now he comes to deliverance and liberty. The apostle here resumes the thread of his discourse, which was interrupted, Rom 7:7.