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

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so is fatal to him (vii. 8, 11).

In all this the usage is consistent : a clear distinction is drawn
at once between the will and the bodily impulses which act upon
the will and a sort of external Pov/er which makes both the will and
the impulses subservient to it. What is the nature of this Power ?
Is it personal or impersonal ? We could not tell from this particular
context. No doubt personal attributes and functions are assigned
to it, but perhaps only figuratively as part of the personification.
To answer our questions we shall have to consider the teaching of
the Apostle elsewhere. It is clear enough that, like the rest of his
countrymen (see Charles, Book of Enoch, p. 52 f.), St. Paul did
believe in a personal agency of Evil. He repeatedly uses the per-
sonal name Satan ; he ascribes to him not only mischief-making in
the Church (i Thess. ii. 18; 2 Cor, ii. 11), but the direct tempta-
tion of individual Christians (i Cor. vii. 5); he has his followers on
whom he is sometimes invited to wreak his will (i Cor. v. 5;


I Tim„ i. 20); supernatural powers of deceiving or perverting men

are attributed to him (2 Thess. ii. 9 kot ivepynav rod Sami'S eV naaji
^vfafxei Koi arjfielois Kai rtpnai i^fv^ovs '. cf. 2 Cor. xi. 1 4). The

Power of Evil does not stand alone but has at its disposal a whole
army of subordinate agents [apxn'i, f^ovaiai, KoafjoKparopfi tov o-kotois
rovTov Eph. vi. 12; cf Col. ii. 15). There is indeed a whole
hierarchy of evil spirits as there is a hierarchy of good (Eph. i. 21),
and Satan has a court and a kingdom just as God has. He is * the
god of the existing age' (6 ^tos tov aliiovos tovtov 2 Cor. iv. 4), and
exercises his rule till the final triumph of the Messiah (2 Thess. ii.
8 f . ; I Cor. xv. 24 f.).

We see therefore that just as in the other books of the N.T.
the Gospels, the Apocalypse, and the other Apostolic Epistles, evil
is referred to a personal cause. And although it is doubtless true
that in chaps, vi, vii, where St. Paul speaks most directly of the
baleful activity of Sin, he does not intend to lay special stress on
this ; his language is of the nature of personification and does not
necessarily imply a person ; yet, when we take it in connexion with
otliei language elsewhere, we see that in the last resort he would
have said that there was a personal agency at work. It is at least
clear that he is speaking of an influence external to man, and
acting upon him in the way in which spiritual forces act.

St. Paul regards the beginnings of sin as traceable to the Fall of Adam.
In this he is simply following the account in Gen. iii ; and the question
naturally arises, What becomes of that account and of the inferences which
St Paul draws from it, if we accept the view which is pressed upon us by
the comparative study of religions and largely adopted by modern criticism,
that it IS not to be taken as a literal record of historical fact, but as the
Hebrew form of a story common to a number of Oriental peoples and going
back to a common root ? When we speak of a * Hebrew form ' of this story
we mean a form shaped and moulded by those principles of revelation of
which the Hebrew race was chosen to be the special recipient. From this
point of view it becomes the typical and summary representation of a series
of facts which no discovery of flint implements and half-calcined bones can
ever reproduce for us. In some way or other as far back as history goes,
and we may believe much further, there has been implanted in the human
race this mysterious seed of sin, which like other characteristics of the race
is capable of transmission. The tendency to sin is present in every man who
is born into the world. But the tendency does not become actual sin until
it takes effect in defiance of an express command, in deliberate disregard of
a known distinction between right and wrong. How men came to be
possessed of such a command, by what process they arrived at the conscious
distinction of right and wrong, we can but vaguely speculate. Whatever it
was we may be sure that it could not have been presented to the imagination
of primitive peoples otherwise than in such simple forms as the narrative
assumes in the Book of Genesis. The really essential truths all come out in
that narrative — the recognition of the Divine W'ill, the act of disobedience
to the Will so recognized, the perpetuation of the tendency to such dis-
obedience ; and we may add perhaps, though here we get into a region of
Bormises, the connexion between moral evil and physical decay, for the surest
pledge of immortality is the relation of tlie highest part of ns, the soul,

V. 12-21.] ADAM AND CHRIST 147

through right Eonsness to God. These salient principles, which may have
been due in fact to a process of gradual accretion through long periods, are
naturally and inevitably summed up as a group of single incidents. Their
essential character is not altered, and in the interpretation of primitive
beliefs we may safely remember that ' a thousand years in the sight of God
are but as one day.' We who believe in Providence and who believe in the
active influence of the Spirit of God upon man, may well also believe that
the tentative gropings of the primaeval savage were assisted and guided and
so led up to definite issues, to wlych he himself perhaps at the time could
hardly give a name but which he learnt to call ' sin ' and ' disobedience,' and
the tendency to which later ages also saw to have been handed on from
generation to generation in a way which we now describe as ' heredity,' It
woilld be absurd to expect the language of modem science in the prophet
who first incorporated the traditions of his race in the Sacred Books of the
Hebrews. He uses the only kind of language available to his own intelli-
gence and that of his contemporaries. But if the language which he does
use is from that point of view abundantly justified, then the application which
St. Paul makes of it is equally justified. He too expresses truth through
symbols, and in the days when men can dispense with symbols his teaching
may be obsolete, but not before.

The need for an Incarnation and the need for an Atonement are not
dependent upon any particular presentation, which may be liable to cor-
rection with increasing knowledge, of the origin of sin. They reit, not on
theory or on anything which can be clothed in the forms of theory, but on
the great outstanding facts of the actual sin of mankind and its ravages.
We take these facts as we see them, and to us they furnish an abundant
explanation of all that God has done to counteract them. How they are in
their turn to be explained may well form a legitimate subject for curiosity,
but the historical side of it at least has but a very slight bearing on tht
interpretation of the N. T.

History of the Interpretation of the Paulitie doctriiii
of SiKatwcrt?.

In order to complete our commentary on the earlier portion of the Epistle,
it will be convenient to sum up, as shortly as is possible, the history of the
doctrine of Justification, so far as it is definitely connected with exegesis.
To pursue the subject further than that would be beside our purpose; but so
much is necessary since the exposition of the preceding chapters has been
almost entirely from one point of view. We shall of course be obliged to
confine ourselves to certain typical names. ,

Just at the close of the Apostolic period the earliest speculation on the Clemens
subject of Justification meets us. Clement of Rome, in his Epistle to the Romauut
Corinthians, writes clearly guarding against any practical abuses which may
arise flora St. Paul's teaching. He has before him the three writers of the
N. T. who deal most definitely with ' faith ' and ' righteousness,' and from
them constructs a system of life and action. He takes the typical example,
that of Abraham, and asks, 'Wherefore was our father Abraham blessed?*
The answ cr combines that of St. Paul and St. James. ' Was it not because
he wrought righteousness and truth through faith ? ' (§ :;i ovy). SiKatoawrjv Kai
d\-f]9(iav bid. Triartcos Trotrjaas ;). And throughout there is the same co-
ordiaation of different types of doctrine. ' We are justified by works and not
by words' (§ 30 epyois diKatovfievoi Kni fifj Xo-yois). But again (§ 321 : 'And
so we, having been called through His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified
through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or
works which we wrought in holiness of heart, but through faith whereby the
Almighty God justified all men that have been from the beginning.' Bat

h 2


dangeroTi?; theories as to conduct, which arise from boldinc; snch beliefs in
too iru''e a manner, are at once guarded against t§ 33) : ' What then mnst
we do, breihren? Must we idly abstain from doing good, and forsake love?
May the Master never allow this to befall us at least . . . We have seen that
all the righteous weie adorned in good works . . . Seeing then that we have
this pattern, let us conform ourselves with all diligence to His will ; let as
wiih all our strength work the work of righteousness.' Clement writes as
a Christian of the second generation who iiherits the teaching and phraseo-
logy of the Apostolic period. * Faith,' ' Works,' ' Righteousness,' are ideas
which have become part of the Christian life: the need of deHnitioii has not
arisen. The system of coiiduct which should be exhibited as the result of
the different elements of this life is clearly realized. What St. Paul and
St. James each in his different way arrived at is accomplished. For the
exact meaning of St. Paul, however, and the understanding of his teaching,
we get no aid. Bishop Lightfoot, while showing how Clement ' has caught
the spirit of the Pauline teaching,' yet dwells, and dwells rightly, on 'the
defect in the dogmatic statement.' (See Lightfoot, Clement, i. 96, 397.)

The question of Justification never became a subject of controversy '■£ th«
early church, and consequently the P'athers contented themselves as Clement
had done with a clear practical solution. We cannot find in them either an
answer to the more subtle questions which later theologians have asked or

. much assistance as to the exact exegesis of St. Paul's language.

How little Origen had grasped some points in St. Paul's thought may b<
seen by his comment on Rom. iii. 20 Ex operibiis igitur legis quod non iusti-

ficabihir oninis caro in conspeciu eitis, hoc modo intelligendum puio : quia
omnis qui caro e:t et secundian car^iem vivit, non potest iustificari ex
lege Dei, sicut et alibi dicit idem Apostolus, quia qui in carne sunt Deo
placere non possunt {in Rom. iii. 6; 0pp. torn. vi. 194, ed. Lommatzsch).
But in many points his teaching is clear and strong. All Justification is by
faith alone viii. 9, p. 217 et dicit sufficere solius Jidei iustificationtm, ita ut
eredens qiiis tantiimmodo iustificetur, etiamsi nihil ab eo operis fuerit
4xpletum). It is the beginning of the Christian life, and is represented as
the bringing to an end of a state of enmity. We who were followers of the
devil, our tyrant and enemy, can if we will by laying down his ai ms and
taking up the banner of Christ have peace with God, a peace which has
been purchased for us by the blood of Christ (iv. 8, p. 2S3, on Rom. v. i).
The process of justification is clearly one of ' imputation ' {Jides ad iustitiam
reputetur iv. i, p. 240, on Rom. iv. 1-8), and is identified with the Gospel
teaching of the forgiveness of sins ; the two instances of it which are quoted
being the penitent thief and the woman with the alabaster box of ointment
(Luke vii. 37-42). But the need for good works is not excluded: sed

fortassis haec aliquis audieiis resolvatur et bene agendi negligentiam capiat,
ti qtiidem ad itistijicafidum fides sola suffciat. ad quem dicemus, quia post
iuslificationem si iniuste quis asiat, sine dubio iustificationis graliam sprevit
. . . indulgentia namque non fulujorum sed praeleritorum c7-intinutn datur
(iii. 9, p. 319, on Rom. iii. 27, 28). Faith without works is impossible
(iv. I, p. 234): rather faith is the root from which they spring : non erga
ex operibus radix iustitiae, sed ex radice iustitiae fructus operum crescit,
ilia scilicet radice iustitiae, qua Deus accepio fert iustitiam sifie operibus
(iv. 1, p. 241 ; see also the comment on Rom. ii. 5, 6 in ii. 4, p. 81). We
may further note that in the comment on Rom. i. 17 and iii. 24 the iustitia
Dei is clearly interpreted as the Divine attribute.

The same criticism which was passed 011 Origen applies in an equal
or even greater degree to Chrysostoin. Theologically and practically the
teaching is vigorous and well balanced, but so far as exegesis is con-
cerned St. Paul's conception and point of view are not understood. The
circumstances which had created these conceptions no longer existed

V. 12-21.] .\DAM AND CHRIST I49

For example, commenting on Rom. li. to he writes: 'it is npon work*
that punishment and reward depend, not upon circumcision or unciicum-
cision ' ; making a distinction which the Apostle does not between the
moral and ceremonial law. The historical situation is clearly grasped and
is brought out very well at the beginning of Horn, vii : ' He has accused
the Gentiles, he has accused the Jews; what follows to mention next is the
righteousness which is by faith. For if the law of nature availed not, and
the written Law was of no advantage, but both weiijhed down those that
used them not aright, and made it plain that they were worthy of greater
punishment, then the salvation which is by grace was hencefoith necessary.*
The meaning of SiKaioavvr) &(ov is well brought out. ' The declaring of
His righteousness is not only that He is Himself righteous, but that He
doth also make them that are filled with the putrefying scars of sin suddenly
righteous' i^Hom. vii. on iii. 24, 25). It may be interesting to quote the
exposition of the passage which follows. He explains hio. Tf^v irdpeaiv raiy
vpoyf-^ovuTojv anapTrjjj.dTa>v thus : 5i(i t^j' ndpeffiv, Tovriari rrjv vinpojaiv,
ovKfTi jdp vyeias (\ms ^v, dX\' Sjanep awfia vapa\vOiv rrjs ai'wOfv eSeiro
Xeipos, ovTOj Kat f) ipvx^ viKpudiiaa, giving irapean the meaning of * para-
lysis,' the paralysis of spiritual life which has resulted from sin. Generally
SiKa«(5cy seems clearly to be taken as ' make righteous,' even in passages
where it will least bear such an interpretation ; for instance on iv. 5 {Horn.
viii.) ^ui^aTai 6 6(ds rov Iv dae^eia l3e(itufc6Ta tovtov i^ai<pvrji ovxi KoXaatojs
i\fv6fpu)<Tai p.6vov, dWd Kal Siicatov Trotrjaai, . . . ft 'yap fiaKuptos ovrais
6 \aPwv d<peaiv dwo xflp'Tos ttoWo) ftdWov 6 8iicatoj9eis, and on iv. 25 ( Horn.
ix) tv\ T0VT9; "ydp KoX dniOavf Kal dviart] Xva SiKaiovs epf&arjTai. Yet his
usage is not consistent, for on Rom. viii. 33 he writes : ' He does not say,
it is God that forgave our sins, but what is much greater : — " It is God that
justifieth." For when the Judge's sentence declares us just {SiKaiovs dno-
ipaivfi), and such a judge too, what significth the accuser?'

No purpose would be served by entering further into the views of the Theodoret
Greek commentators; but one passage of Theodoret may be quoted as
an instance of the way in which all the fathers connect Justification and
Baptism. On Rom. v. i, 2 (vid. p. 53) he writes : 1) tt/cttis i^iv vfuv iSwff)-
aaro ruv dfxapTTj/^drcev Tfjv d<pe<nv nai dj-Mixovs Kal SiKaiovs 5td ttjs toC Xovrpod
TraWtyytvtatas dn(<pr]ve' vpoarjKU di v/Jids ttjv iipus riv 6edy ycyevrjfxivTjv
(pvkaTTdV flprjVTjv.

To sum up the teaching of the Greek Fathers. They put in the very
front of everything, the Atonement through the death of Christ, without as
a rule elaborating any theory concerning it : this characteristic we find from
the very beginning : it is as strong in Ignatius as in any later Father :
they all think that it is by faith we are justified, and at the same time lay
immense stress on the value, but not the merits, of good works : they seem
all very definitely to connect Justification with Baptism and the beginning
of the Christian life, so much so indeed that as is well known even the
possibility of pardon for post-baptismal sin was doubted by some : but they
have no theory of Justification as later times demand it ; they are never close
and exact in the exegesis of St. Paul ; and they are without the historical
conditions which would enable them to understand his great antithesis of
'Law' and * Gospel,' * Faith ' and * Works,' ' Merit ' and ' Grace.'

The opinions of St. Augustine are of much greater importan e. Although St. Augus
he does not approach the question from the same point of view as the tine.
Reformation theologians, he represents the source from which came the
mediaeval tendency which created that theology. His most important
expositions are those contained in £>e Spiritu et Litera and In Psalnnim
XXXI Eiian-atio II: this Psalm he describes as Psahntis gratiae Dei
et iustijicationis nosirac nuUis piaecedentibus tneritis nostris, sed praC'
veniente nos misericordia Domini Dei nostri . . . His purpose is to prove


as against any form of Pelagianism that our salvation comes from no
merits of our own but only from the Divine grace which is given us.
This leads to three main characteristics in his exposition of the Romans,
(i) For, first, good works done by those who are not in a state of grace are
valueless : nemo computet bona opera sua ante JicUm : ubi fides non erat
ionum opus non erat {Enarratio § 4) Hence he explains Rom. ii. 5,
13 ff. of works done not in a state of nature but of grace. In ii. 13 the
Apostle is referring to the Gentiles who have accepted the Gospel; and the
'Law written in their hearts' is the law not of the O.T. but of the N.T. :
he naturally compares 2 Cor. iii. 3 and Rom. ii. 26 {De Sp. et Lit. §§ 44-
49). (2) Then, secondly, St. Augustine's exposition goes on somewhat
different lines from those of the Apostle's argument. He makes the whole
aim of the early portion of the Romans to be the proof of the necessity of
grace. Men have failed without grace, and it is only by means of it that
th«y can do any works which are acceptable to God. This from one point
of view really represents St. Paul's argument, from another it is veiy much
removed from it. It had the tendency indeed to transfer the central point
io connexion with human salvation from the atoning death of Christ accepted
by Faith to the gift of the Divine Grace received from God. Although in
this relation, as often, St. Augustine's exposition is tleeper than that of the
Greek fathers, it leads to a much less conect interpretation. (3) For thirdly,
there can be no doubt that it leads directly to the doctrine of ' infused ' grace.
It is quite true that Chrysostom has perhaps even moie definitely interpreted
SiKaiovaOai of ' making just,' and that Augustine in one place admits the
possibility of interpreting it either as 'making just' or 'reckoning just'
{De Sp. et Lit. § 45). But although he admits the (wo interpietations so
far as concerns the words, practically his whole theory is that of an infusion
of the grace of faith by which men are made just. Sc in his comment on
i. 1 7 he writes : haec est iustitia Dei, quae in Testanumto Veteri velata, in
Novo revelatur: quae iJeo iustitia Dei dicitur, y«o^ impertiendo eam iustos
facit <^De Sp. et Lit. « i8) : and again : credenti inquit in eum qui iustificat
impium deputatur fides eius ad iustitiam. si iustificatuf impius ex impio
fit iustus {Enar7atio § 6) : so non tibi Detis reddit debitam poenam, sed
donat indebitam gratiam : so De Sp. et Lit. § 56 : hctec est iustitia Dei,
quam non solum docet per legis praeceptum, verum etiatn dot per Spiritus

St. Augustine's theory is in fact this ; faith is a gift of grace wnich in-
fiised into men, enables them to produce works good and acceptable to
God. The point of view it clearly not that of St. Paul, and it is the source <rf
the mediaeval theory of grace with all its developments.
Aquinas This theory as we find it elaborated in the Summa Theologiae, has so far

as it concerns us three main characteristics, (i) In the first place it elaborates
the Augustinian theory of Grace instead of the Pauline theory of Justification.
It is quite clear that in St. Paul x^P'-'^ 's the favour of God to man, and not
a gift given by God to man ; but gratia in St. Thomas has evidently this
latter signification : cum gratia omnem naturae creatcu facultatem excedat, eo
quod nihil aliud sit quam participano quaedam divinae naturae quae omnem
aliam naturam excedit {Siimjna Theologiae, Prima Secundae Qu. cxii. i ). So
also : donum gratiae . . . gratiae infusio . . . infundit donum gratiae iustifi-
eantis (cxiii. 3). (2) Secondly, it interprets iustificare to 'make just,' and in
consequence looks upon ']w%\\'nc^\.\o\y z.% no\. orXy remissio peccatorum, but also
an infusion of grace. This question is discussed fully in Qu. cxiii. Art. 2.
The conclusion arrived at is: quum iustitiae Dei repugnet poenam dimittert
vigente culpa, nullius autem hominis qualis modo nascitur, reatus poenae
absque gratia tolli queat ; ad culfae quoque hominis qualis modo nascitur,
rtmissionem, gratiae infusionem requiri manifestum est. The primary text
an which this conclusion is based is Rom. iii. 24 iustificati gratis pet gratiam


ipsius, which is therefore clearly interpreted to mean * made jnst by an infnsion

of grace ' ; and it is argued that the effect of the Divine love on us is grace by

which a man is made wo 'thy of eternal life, and that therefore remission of

guilt cannot be understood unless it be accompanied by the infusion of grace.

(3) The words quoted abov;, 'by which a man is made worthy of eternal

life ' {digitus vita aetenia) int oduce us to a third point in the mediaeval tlieory

of justification : indirectly by its theory of merit di co,^^. and de condip-ii0 f^m^'Z

it introduced just that doctrine of merit against which St. Paul had directed

his whole system. This subject is worked out in Qu. cxiv, where it is argued

(Art. I) that in a sense we can deserve something from God. Althougli

(Art s) a man cannot deserve life eternal in a state of nature, yet (Art. 3)

after justification he can : Homo meretur uitam aeternam ex condigno. This

fs supported by Rom. viii. 1 7 sifilii et Jiaeredes, it being argued that we are

sons to whom is owed the inheritance ex ipso tare adoptionis.

However defensible as a complete whole the system of the Summa maybe,
there is no doubt that nothing so complicated can be grasped by the popular
mind, and that the teaching it represents led to a wide system of religious
corruption which presented a very definite analogy with the errors which
St. Paul combated ; it is equally clear that it is not the system of Justifica-
tion put forward by St. Paul. It will be convenient to pass on directly to
the teaching of Luther, and to put it in direct contrast with the teaching of
Aquinas. Although it arose primarily against the teaching of the later
Schoolmen, whose teaching, especially on the subject of merit de congruo and
de condigno, was very much developed, substantially it represents a revolt
against the whole mediaeval theory.

Luther's main doctrines were the following. Through the law man learns LnthfT
his sinfulness : he learns to say with the prophet, * there is none that doeth
good, no not one.' He learns his own weakness. And then arises the cry :
'Who can give me any help?* Then in its due season comes the saving
word of the Gospel, *Be of good cheer, my son, thy sins are forgiven.
Believe in Jesus Christ who was crucified for thy sins.' This is the beginning
of salvation ; in this way we are freed from sin, we are justified and there is
given unto us life eternal, not on account of our own merits and works, but
on account of faith by which we approached Christ. (Luther on Galatians
ii. 16 ; Opp. ed. 1554, p. 308.)

As against the mediaeval teaching the following points are noticeable,
(1) In the first place Justification is quite clearly a doctrine of 'iustitia
impntata ': Deus accept at seu reputat nos iustos solum propter fidem in
Christum. It is especially stated that we are not free from sin. As long as
we live we are subject to the stain of sin : only our sins are not imputed to
us. (2) Secondly, Luther inherits from the Schoolmen the diftlaction of
fides iiiforniis and fides formata cum chariiate ; but whereas thej had con-

Online LibraryW. (William) SandayA critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Romans → online text (page 32 of 71)