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A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans online

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other in a very emphatic way, the position of aiirov further laying
stress on the fact that this manifestation of free favour on the part
of God is unprompted by any other external cause than the one
which is mentioned (Sm ttjs dnoKvTpaaeoos),

diroXuTpwaews. It is contended, esp. by Oltramare, (i) that
"Kyrpoco and dnoKvTpoco in classical Greek = not * to pay a ransom,'
but ' to take a ransom,' * to put to ransom,* or * release on ransom,'
as a conqueror releases his prisoners (the only example given of

diToXvTpwais is Plut. Pomp. 24 no\(<ov alxpa\coTa)v dnoXvrpccKTm, where

the w^ord has this sense of ' putting to ransom ') ; (ii) that in LXX
Xvrpovadai is frequently used of the Deliverance from Egypt, the
Exodus, in which there is no question of ransom (so Ex. vi. 6,
XV. 13; Deut. vii. 8; ix. 26; xiii. 5, &c. : cf also oVoAurpwo-fi
Ex. xxi. 8, of the 'release' of a slave by her master). The subst.
dnoXvTpaais occurs Only in one place, Dan. iv. 30 [29 or 32], LXX

6 xp°"°^ MOV rris dnoXvTpu>(rt(oi rjXde of Nebuchadnezzar's recovery
from his madness. Hence it is inferred (cf. also Westcott, I/e5.
p. 296, and Ritschl, Rechifert. u. Versohn. ii. 220 ff.) that here and
in similar passages dTruXvTpcaais denotes 'deliverance ' simply without
any idea of 'ransom.' There is no doubt that this part of the
metaphor might be dropped. But in view of the clear resolution of
the expression in Mark x. 45 (Matt. xx. 28) Sovvat ti)v ■^v^f]" avroi

\vTpov dvTi noWuiv, and in I Tim. ii. 6 6 8ovs invruv dvriXvTpov VTTfp

navTcov, and in view also of the many passages in which Christians
are said to be 'bought,' or 'bought with a price' (i Cor. vi. 20,
vii. 23; Gal. iii. 13; 2 Pet. ii. i; Rev. v. 9: cf. Acts xx. 28:
I Pet. i. 18, 19), we can hardly resist the conclusion that the idea
of the \vTpov retains its full force, that it is identical with the Tip.r],
and that both are ways of describing the Death of Christ. The
emphasis is on the cost of man's redemption. We need not press
the metaphor yet a step further by asking (as the ancients did) to
whom the ransom or price was paid. It was required by that
ultimate necessity which has made the whole course of things what
it has been ; but this necessity is far beyond our powers to grasp
or gauge.

Tfls €V Xpwrr^ "Itjo-oO. We owe to Hanssleiter {Der Glauhe Jesu Chrisii,
p. 116) the interesting observation that wherever the plirase kv Xptarw 01 iv
XpKTT^ 'Irjaov occurs there is no single instance of the variants ev 'lijaov or
ir 'Irjaov Xpiffry. This is significant, because in other combinations the

III. 24, 25.] THE NEW SYSTEM 87

variants are frequent. It is also what v/e should expect, btcause tv Xpiffr^
and iv Xpiar^ 'Irja. always relate to the glorified Christ, rot to the historic

25. irpoeOcTo may = either (i) 'whom God proposed to Himself,'
'purposed,' 'designed' (Orig. Pesh.) ; or (ii) 'whom God sel forth
publicly ' {proposm/ Vulg.). Both meanings would be in full ac-
cordance with the teaching of St. Paul both elsewhere and in this
Epistle. For (i) we may compare the idea of the Divine irpodeais
in ch. ix. 11 (viii. 28); Eph. iii. n (i. 11); 2 Tim. i. 9; also
I Pet. i. 20. For (ii) compare esp. Gal. iii. i ols kqt o^idaX^ovs
'irjanvs XpiuTos TTpiieypd<pr) ((TTavpofjievos. But when we turn to the
immetliate context we find it so full of terms denoting publicity
{ii((pavtpu>Tai, (Is ev8(i^iv, npos rfju evdei^Lv) that the latter sense seems
preferable. The Death of Christ is not only a manifestation of the
righteousness of God, but a visible manifestation and one to which
appeal can be made.

iXacrnipioi' : usually subst. meaning strictly 'place or vehicle of
propitiation,' but originally neut. of adj. iXdorij/jtoy (iXaa-Trjpiov
(triOfpa Ex. XXV. 16 [17], where however Gif. takes the two words
as substantives in apposition). In LXX of the Pentateuch, as in
Heb. ix. 5, the word constantly stands for the ' lid of the ark,' or
'mercy-seat,' so called from the fact of its being sprinkled with the
blood of the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement. A number of
the best authorities (esp. Gif. Va. Lid. Rilschl, Rechifert. u. Versohn.
ii. 169 ff. ed. 2) take the word here in this l use, arguing (i) that
it suits the emphatic avTov in eV tm oItov al^nni ; (ii) that through
LXX it would be by far the most familiar usage ; (iii) that the
Greek commentators (as Gif. has shown in detail) unanimously give
it this sense; (iv) that the idea is specially appropriate inasmuch as
on Christ rests the fulness of the Divine glory, 'the true Shekinah,'
and it is natural to connect with His Death the culminating rite in
the culminating service of Atonement. But, on the other hand,
there is great harshness, not to say confusion, in making Christ at
once priest and victim and place of sprinkling. Origen it is true
does not shrink from this ; he says expressly invenies igiiur . . . esse
ipsum et propitiator ium ei pofilificem et hosiiam quae offertur pro
populo {in Rom. iii. 8, p. 213 Lomm.). But although there is
a partial analogy for this in Heb. ix. 11-14, 23-x. 22, where
Christ is both priest and victim, it is straining the image yet further
to identify Him with the IXaarrjpiov. The Christian IXuaTt'jpiov, or
'place of sprinkling,' in the literal sense, is rather the Cross. It is
also something of a point (if we are right in giving the sense of
publicity to npoedfro) that the sprinkling of the mercy-seat was just
the one rite which was withdrawn from the sight of the people.
Another way of taking 'ikaa-Tqpiov is to supply wah it dvpa on the
analogy of aoiTrjpLoy, TfXeaTi'jpiov, xnpioTi'jpiov. This too is strongly


supported (esp. by the leading German commentators, De W. Fri.
Mey. Lips.). But there seems to be no clear instance of l\a<TTi]piov
used in this sense. Neither is there satisfactory proof that tXaor.
(subst.) = in a general sense 'instrument or means of propitiation.*
it appears therefore simplest to take it as adj. accus. masc. added
as predicate to ov. There is evidence that the word was current as
an adj. at this date {iXaarfjpiov livijua Joseph. An//. XVL vii. i •
'ChacrTrjpiov Bavdrov 4 Macc. xvii. 2 2*, and Other exx.). The
objection that the adj. is not applied properly to persons counts
for very little, because of the extreme rarity of the sacrifice of
a person. Here however it is just this personal element which is
most important. It agrees with the context that the term chosen
should be rather one which generalizes the character of propitiatory
sacrifice than one which exactly reproduces a particular feature cf
such sacrifice.

The Latin versions do not help ns : they give all three renderings, pro-
pitiatoriitm, propitiatorem, and propitiationem. Syr. is also ambiguous.
The Coptic clearly favours the masc. rendering adopted above.

It may be of some interest to compare the Jewish teaching on the subject
of Atonement. 'When a man thinks, I will just go on sinning and repent
later, no help is given him from above to make him repent. He who
thinks, I will but just sin and the Day of Atonement will bring me forgive-
ness, such an one gets no forgiveness through the Day of Atonement.
Offc-nces of man against God the Day of Atonement can atone ; offences of
man against his fellow-man the Day of Atonement cannot atone until he has
given satisfaction to his fellow-man ' ; and more to the same effect (Mishnah,
Tract. Jo7na, viii. 9, ap. Winter u. Wiinsche, Jiid. Lit. p. 98). We get
a more advanced system of casuistry in Tosephta, Tract. Jotna, v : ' R. Ismael
said, Atonement is of four kinds. He who transgresses a positive command
and repents is at once forgiven according to the Scripture, " Return, ye back-
sliding children, I will heal your backslidings" (Jer. iii. 23 [22]). He who
transgresses a negative command or prohibition and repents has the atone-
ment held in suspense by his repentance, and the Day of Atonement makes
it effectual, according to the Scripture, '" For on this day shall atonement be
made for you " (Lev. xvi. 30). If a man commits a sin for which is decreed
extermination or capital punishment and repents, his repentance and the
Day of Atonement together keep the atonement in suspense, and suffering
brings it home, according to the Scripture, " I will visit their transgression
with the rod and their iniquity with stripes" (Ps. Ixxxix. 33 [32J). But
when a man profanes the Name of God and repents, his repentance has not
the power to keep atonement in suspense, and the Day of Atonement has
not the power to atone, but repentance and the Day of Atonement atone
one third, sufferings on the remaining dnys of the year atone one third, and
the day of death completes the atonement according to the Scripture,
" Surely thi-i iniquity shall not be expiated by you till you die " (Is. xxii. 1 4).
This teaclies that the day of death completes the atonement. Sin-offering
and trespass-offering and death and the Day of Atonement all being no
atonement without repentance, because it is written in Lev. xxiii. 21 (?)
'Only," i.e. when he turns from his evil way does he obtain atonement,
otherwise he obtains no atonement' {pp. cit. p. 154).

* Some MSS. re«d here lik . . . rov I? zarijpiov rov ^avirov avruv (O. F.
Fritzsche md loc.').


8id Tfjs irCcrreus: Si3t mffreais NC*D*FG 67** a/., Tisch, WH text.
The art. seems here rather more correct, pointing back as it would do to SkJ
mareoos 'I. X. in ver. 23 ; it is found in B and the mass of later authorities,
bnt there is a strong phalanx on the other side ; B is not infallible in su>.h
company (cf. xi. 6),

iv Tw auToo oTfjiaTi : not with nia-Ttai (though this would be
a quite legitimate combination ; see Gif. ad loc), but with irpoeBeTo
tKoKrTTjpiov: the shedding and sprinkling of the blood is a principal
idea, not secondary.

The significance of the Sacrificial Bloodshedding was twofold.
The blood was regarded by the Hebrew as essentially the seat of
life (Gen. ix. 4; Lev. xvii. 11 ; Deut. xii. 23). Hence the death
of the victim was not only a death but a setting free of life ; the
application of the blood was an application of life ; and the
offering of the blood to God was an offering of life. In this lay
more especially the virtue of the sacrifice (Westcott, Ep.Jo. p. 34 ff. ;
Heb. p. 293 f.).

For the prominence which is given to the Bloodshedding in
connexion with *^the Death of Christ see the passages collected

€is ct'Setfii': tiV denotes the final and remote object, Trpo'j the
nearer object. The whole plan of redemption from its first
conception in the Divine Mind aimed at the exhibition of God's
Righteousness. And the same exhibition of righteousness was
kept in view in a subordinate part of that plan, viz. the forbearance
which God displayed through long ages towards sinners. For the
punctuation and structure of the sentence see below. For i'vSn^iu
see on ch. ii. 1 5 : here too the sense is that of ' proof by an appeal
to fact.*

els eVSei^ii' Tris SiKaioCTui/Tjs aurcO. In what sense can the Death
of Christ be said to demonstrate the righteousness of God? It
demonstrates it by showing the impossibility of simply passing over
sin. It does so by a great and we may say cosmical act, the
nature of which we are not able wholly to understand, but which
at least presents analogies to the rite of sacrifice, and to that
particular form of the rite which had for its object propitiation.
The whole Sacrificial system was symbolical ; and its wide diffusion
showed that it was a mode of religious expression specially
appropriate to that particular stage in the world's development.
VVas it to lapse entirely with Christianity? The writers of the
New Testament practically answer, No. The necessity for it still
existed; the great fact of sin and guilt remained ; there was still the
same bar to the offering of acceptable worship. To meet this fact
and to remove this bar, there had been enacted an Event which
possessed the significance of sacrifice. And to that event the N. T.
writers appealed as satisfying the conditions which the righteousness

90 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [ill. 25, 26

of God required. See the longer Note on ' The Death of Christ
considered as a Sacrifice ' below.

Slot TTif irdpcair : not * for the remission/ as AV., which gives
a somewhat unusual (though, as we shall see on iv. 25, not
impossible) sense to fitd, and also a wrong sense to napea-iv, but
'because of the pretermission, or passing over, of foregone sins.'
For the difference between ndpfaii and acpean see Trench, Sjn.
p. no flf. : 7rdpfo-(r = * putting ast'de,' temporary suspension of
punishment which may at some later date be inflicted ; a^tais =s
' putting away,' complete and unreserved forgiveness.

It is possible that the thouj^ht of this passage may have been suggested by
Wijd. xi. 23 [24] Kol impopqs apaprfifxara dfOpujnoji' fls p.n6.voiav. There
will be found in Trench, op. cit. p. iii, an account of a controversy which
arose out of this yerse in Holland at the end of the sixteenth and beginning
of the seventeenth centuries.

&}iapTT)/ji(iTa)K : as contrasted with ifiaprta, apLaprripui = the single
act of sin, ipLaprla = the permanent principle of which such an act
is the expression*

61' Tjj &vox^ : (V either (i) denotes motive, as Mey., &c. (Grimm,
Lex. s. V. iv, 5 «) ; or (ii) it is temporal, ' during the forbearance of
God.* Of these (i) is preferable, because the whole context deals
with the scheme as it lay in the Divine Mind, and the relation of
its several parts to each other.

dvoxfj : see on ii. 4, and note that avoxq is related to iraptvit as
xapi% is related to a4)fais.

26. TTpos Tqv Ij'Sei^ti': to be connected clo-sely with the preceding
clause : the stop which separates this verse from the last should be
wholly removed, and the pause before 8ia ti)v ndptfriv somewhat
lengthened ; we should represent it in En;;lish by a dash or semi-
colon. We may represent the various pauses in the passage in some
such way as this : ' Whom God set forth as propitiaiory — through
faith — in His own blood — for a display of His righteousness ;
because of the passing-over of foregone sins in the forbearance of
God with a view to the display of His righteousness at the present
moment, so that He might be at once righteous (Himself) and
declaring righteous him who has for his motive faith in Jesus.' Gif.
seems to be successful in proving that this is tlie true construction :
(i) otherwise it is difficult to account for the change of the preposi-
tion from tls to np6t ; (ii) the art. is on this view perfectly accounted
for, ' the same display ' as that just mentioned ; (iii) rcbu npoyfyo-
voraiv ipapTtjpaTcov seems to be contrasted with eV tw pvv Kaipa ; (iv) the
construction thus most thoroughly agrees wiih St. Paul's style
elsewhere : see Gifford's note and compare the passage quoted
Eph. iii. 3-5, also Rom. iii. 7, 8, ii. 14-16.

SiKaioi' Kal SiKaiou^/Ta. This is the key-phrase which establishes
the connexion between the biKtuoavvrf Qtov, and the SiKaioavptj im


irlarecas. It is not that ' God is righteous and yet declares righteous
the believer in Jesus,' but that ' He is righteous and also, we might
almost say and therefore, declares righteous the believer.' The
words indicate no opposition between justice and mercy. Rather
that which seems to us and which really is an act of mercy is the
direct outcome of the ' righteousness' which is a wider and more
adequate name than justice. It is the essential righteousness of
God which impels Him to set in motion that sequence of events in
the sphere above and in the sphere below which leads to the free
forgiveness of the believer and starts him on his way with a clean
page to his record.

TOK cK TTio-Teus: 'him whose ruling motive is faith'; contrast
o« e'l tpiddas ch. ii. 8 ; offot e^ ifjyav v6fj.ov (' as many as depend on
works of law') Gal. iii. 10.

T/tg Death of Christ considered as a Sacrifice.

It is impossible to get rid from this passage of the double idea
(i) of a sacrifice ; (2) of a sacrifice which is propitiatory. In any
case the phrase «V tw amov alfian carries with it the idea of sacrificial
bloodsiiedding. And whatever sense we assign to IXaa-Tripiov —
whether we directly supply 6vfia, or whether we supply enidena and
regard it as equivalent to the mercy-seat, or whether we take it as
an adj. in agreement with ov — the fundamental idea which underlies
the word must be that of propitiation. And further, when we ask,
Who is propidated ? the answer can only be ' God.' Nor is it
possible to separate this propitiation from the Death of the Son.

Quite apart from this passage it is not difficult to prove that these
two ideas of sacrifice and propitiation lie at the root of the teaching
not only of St. Paul but of the New Testament generally. Before
considering their significance it may be well first to summarize this
evidence briefly.

(i) As in the passage before us, so elsewhere, the stress which is
laid on al^a is directly connected with the idea of sacrifice. We
have it in St. Paul, in Rom. v. 9 ; Eph. i. 7, ii. 13 ; Col. i. 20 (Sia tov
aliiOTos Tov aravpnv). We have it for St. Peter in i Pet. i. 2 {pavrin^',v

aifiaroi) and 1 9 (Tifiim at/ifirt wj dfivov afxaixov K(ii ilanihou). For

St. John we have it in i Jo. i. 7, and in v. 6, 8. It also comes
out distinctly in several places in the Apocalypse (i. 5, v. 9, vii. 14,
xii. II, xiii. 8). It is a leading idea very strongly represented in
Ep. to Hebrews (especially in capp. ix, x, xiii). There is also the
strongest reason to think that this Apostolic teaching was suggested
by words of our Lord Himself, who spoke of His approaching
death in terms proper to a sacrifice such as that by which the First
Covenant had been inaugurated (comp. i Cor. xi. 25 with Matt
xxvi 28; Mark xiv. 24 [perhaps noi Luke xxii. 20]).

92 EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS [ill. 21-26

Many of these passages besides the mention of bloodshedding
and the death of the victim (Apoc. v. 6, I2,xiii. S dpviov ea(f)ayiJLevov:
cf. V. 9) call attention to other details in the act of sacrifice (e. g.
the sprinkling of the blood, pavnanos i Pet. i. 2 ; Heb. xii. 24 :
cf. Heb. ix. 13, 19, 21).

We observe also that the Death of Christ is compared not only
to one but to several of the leading forms of Levitical sacrifice : to
the Passover (John i. 29, xix. 36 ; i Cor. v. 8, and the passages
which speak of the ' lamb ' in i Pet. and Apoc.) ; to the sacrifices
of the Day of Atonement (so apparently in the passage from which
we start, Rom. iii. 25, also in Heb. li. 17; ix. 12, 14, 15, and
perhaps i Jo. ii. 2, iv. lo; i Pet. ii. 24); to the ratification of the
Covenant (Matt. xxvi. 28, &c.; Heb. ix. 15-22); to the sin-oflfering
(Rom. viii. 3; Heb. xiii. 11; i Pet. iii. 18, and possibly if not
under the earlier head, i Jo. ii. 2, iv. lo).

(2) In a number of these passages as well as in others, both
from the Epistles of St. Paul and from other Apostolic writings,
the Death of Christ is directly connected with the forgiveness of
sins (e.g. Matt. xxvi. 28; Acts v. 30 f., apparently; i Cor. xv. 3;
2 Cor. V. 21 ; Eph. i. 7 ; Col. i. 14 and 20 ; Tit. ii. 14 ; Heb. i. 3,
ix. 28, X. 12 al. ; i Pet. ii. 24, iii. 18 ; i Jo. ii. 2, iv. 10 ; Apoc. i. 5).
The author of Ep. to Hebrews generalizes from the ritual system
of the Old Covenant that sacrificial bloodshedding is necessary in
every case, or nearly in every case, to place the worshipper in a
condition of fitness to approach the Divine Presence (Heb. ix. 22

Acal ax(86i> (V uifxari Travra Kadapl^erai Kara tov vopov, Koi xa>p\s

aiixaTeKxva-las ov ylveTai affxcrii). The use of the different words
denoting * propitiation ' is all to the same effect (IXaarTrjpujv Rom.
iii. 25 ; IXaafios I Jo. ii. 2, iv. 10 ; l\a(TK€a6ai Heb. ii. 17).

This strong convergence of Apostolic writings of different and
varied character seems to show that the idea of Sacrifice as applied
to the Death of Christ cannot be put aside as a merely passing
metaphor, but is interwoven with the very weft and warp of
primitive Christian thinking, taking its start (if we may trust our
traditions) from words of Christ Himself. What it all amounts to
is that the religion of the New Testament, like the religion of the
Old, has the idea of sacrifice as one of its central conceptions, not
however scattered over an elaborate ceremonial system but concen-
trated in a single many-sided and far-reaching- act.

It will be seen that this throws back a light over the Old
Testament sacrifices — and indeed not only over them but over the
sacrifices of ethnic religion— and shows that they were something
more than a system of meaningless butchery, that they had a real
spiritual significance, and that they embodied deep principles of
rel.gion in forms <uilcd to the apprehension of the age to which they
were given and capable of gradual refinement and purification.

III. 21-26.] THE NEW SYSTEM 93

In this connexion it may be worth while to quote a striking
passage from a writer of great, if intermittent, insight, who approaches
the subject from a thoroughly detached and independent stand-
point. In his last series of Slade lectures delivered in Oxford {^The
Art of England, 1884, p. 14 f.), Mr. Ruskin wrote as follows:
' None of you, who have the least acquaintance with the general
tenor of my own teaching, will suspect me of any bias towards the
doctrine of vicarious Sacrifice, as it is taught by the modern
Evangelical Preacher. But the great mystery of the idea of
Sacrifice itself, which has been manifested as one united and
solemn insdnct by all thoughtful and affectionate races, since the
world became peopled, is founded on the secret truth of benevolent
energy which all men who have tried to gain it have learned — that
you cannot save men from death but by facing it for them, nor
from sin but by resisting it for them . . . Some day or other
— probably now very soon — ^too probably by heavy afflictions of
the State, we shall be taught . . . that all the true good and
glory even of this world — not to speak of any that is to come, must
be bought still, as it always has been, with our toil, and with our

After all the writer of this and the Evangelical Preacher whom
he repudiates are not so very far apart. It may be hoped that the
Preacher too may be willing to purify his own conception and to
strip it of some quite unbiblical accretions, and he will then find
that the central verity for which he contends is not inadequately
stated in the impressive words just quoted.

The idea of Vicarious Suffering is not the whole and not
perhaps the culminating point in the conception of Sacrifice, for
Dr. Westcott seems to h:^ve sufficiently shown that the centre of
the symbolism of Sacrifice lies not in the death of the victim but
in the offering of its life. This idea of Vicarious Suffering, which is
nevertheless in all probability the great difficulty and stumbling-
block in the way of the acceptance of Bible teaching on this head,
was revealed once and for all time in Isaiah liii. No one who
reads that chapter with attention can fail to see the profound truth
which lies behind it — a truth which seems to gather up in one all
that is most pathetic in the world's history, but which when it has
done so turns upon it the light of truly prophetic and divine inspira-
tion, gently lifts the veil from the accumulated mass of pain and
sorrow, and shows beneath its unspeakable value in the working out
of human redemption and regeneration and the sublime consolations
by which for those who can enter into them it is accompanied.

I said that this chapter gathers up in one all that is most pathetic
in the world's history. It gathers it up as it were in a single
typical Figure. We look at the lineaments of that Figure, and
then we transfer our gaze and we recognize them all translated

Q4 EPISTLE ro THE ROMANS [ill. 27-3L

from idea into reality, and embodied in marvellous perfection upon

Following the example of St. Paul and St. John and the Epistle
to the Hebrews we speak of something in this great Sacrifice, which
we call ' Propitiation.' We believe that the Holy Spirit spoke
through these writers, and that it was His Will that we should use
this word. But it is a word which we must leave it to Him to
interpret. We drop our plummet into the depth, but the line
attached to it is too short, and it does not touch the bottom. The
awful processes of the Divine Mind we cannot fathom. Sufficient

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