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THE REMEDY CO-EXTENSIVE WITH THE CURSE
IN READING this scripture, some who are unable to follow the Apostle’s argument have become somewhat confused and therefore request assistance.
The difficulty with such probably arises from the fact that they have failed to notice that verses 13-17 are parenthetic, and that the main line of the Apostle’s argument passes from verse 12 to verse 18, irrespective of the parenthesis, which is merely incidental, being introduced to offset a misapprehension on the part of the Jews to the effect that their Law Covenant conflicted with the New Covenant in Christ, of which Paul was a minister. It was difficult for the Jews to accept the fact that under the New Covenant there was no difference made between Jew and Gentile, but that “the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.”—Rom. 10:12.
In verses 12,18-21, the Apostle is showing that by one man sin entered into the world, and death as the penalty for sin; and that this sentence of death passed upon all men because all had sinned—not all individually, but as represented in Adam, in whose loins we all were. “Therefore,” he adds, verse 18, “as by the offense of one [Adam] sentence came upon all men to condemnation; even so [by the same law of heredity] by the righteousness of one [of the one who gave his life a ransom] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life: for as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many [all of the race who will accept it] be made righteous.” In other words, Adam, the head or progenitor of the entire human race, could only bequeath to his posterity the remainder of the ever-declining inheritance which he himself possessed, viz., a spark of life under condemnation to death; but our Lord Jesus, by the payment of the penalty upon Adam, thereby gained the legal right to restore him to life, and in so doing gained the right also to restore all his posterity. And when the “appointed time” for thus restoring life to all the race has come, he instead of Adam, will be the father, life-giver, or head of the new race, as it is written, “He shall be called … the everlasting Father.” (Isa. 9:6.) And the birthright of the race under this head, Christ, unlike that under the first head, Adam, will be life instead of death. And that birthright can never be taken away unless forfeited by individual wilful transgression against the known righteous law of God, with full ability to keep it.
Thus we see that the gist of the Apostle’s argument is to prove that by the law of legal heredity the race which, by the working of this law, inherited death from its first head, Adam, will, by the same law inherit life from its second head or re-generator, Christ, and that the remedy is co-extensive with the curse. This being the substance of his argument, it is, of course, presumable that his parenthetic remarks are not in opposition to, but in harmony with it. Thus we read—
Verse 13—”For until [previous to] the law [of Moses and the Law Covenant with Israel] sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Consequently there must have been a law, and a covenant based upon that law, previous to the law of Moses. What law was that? It was the Law of God originally inscribed, not upon tables of stone, but upon the heart of the first perfect man, and which was gradually more or less effaced in his posterity, because they did not like to retain a knowledge of it. (Rom. 1:28.) That law, whether ignored or recognized, has always been in the world, and sin against that law has always been imputed to men.
Verse 14. “Nevertheless [although the Mosaic law had not yet come, to revive in the Jews the knowledge of God], death reigned from Adam to Moses [just the same], even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression [i.e., wilfully; for it reigned over infants as well as over those capable of personal sin], who is the figure [type] of him that was to come [of Christ, the second head of the race].” Thus it is manifest that all mankind were born under the original law, the authority of which was never annulled, and under which all were condemned representatively in Adam, the first head of the race, but who, thank God, in this office of headship was a type of a
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second head, through which our deliverance should come.
Verse 15. “But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. [The results of the offense and the free gift are entirely different.] For if through the offense of one [Adam, the] many be dead [under the condemnation to death], much more the grace [favor] of God, and the gift [of life]by grace [by the divine favor], hath abounded unto many.” From the one head we inherit death: from the other, the re-generator, we shall inherit life.
Verse 16. “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the sentence was by one [offense] to condemnation, but the free gift is [the forgiveness] of many offenses unto justification.” Note the contrast of the one and the many here, the object of which is to increase our estimation of the value of the free gift.
Verse 17. “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by [that] one [Adam], much more they which receive abundance of grace [of divine favor] and of the gift of [imputed] righteousness [the righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith] shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ [who has not only purchased us and covered us with the robe of his own imputed righteousness, but who will also completely eliminate sin from our nature so that men shall have an actual righteousness of their own, entitling them to reign in life as kings of the earthly dominion which God at first gave to Adam].”
Thus by these parenthetic remarks, which are seen to be in perfect harmony with the main argument, the Jews were shown that their Law Covenant did not in the least interfere with the original sentence to death of the entire race (all in Adam), nor with the consequent gracious provision of life for all mankind, through Christ, and not for the Jews alone.
Verse 20. After clearly announcing that the remedy for sin was co-extensive with the penalty (verses 18,19), the Apostle—reading the inquiry in the Jewish mind as to the object of the Mosaic law, if it were not intended to give life—further adds, “Moreover the law [the Mosaic law] entered that the offense might abound. [It brought with it a clearer knowledge of the will of God, and therefore an increased sense of sin, and an increased responsibility which made transgressions even more blameworthy. But what of it? Did God mean only to afflict Israel more heavily than the rest of the world? By no means.] But where sin abounded [where the clearer knowledge of the Law of God was given, which enabled them also the more fully to see their short-comings and brought upon them the greater responsibility], grace did much more abound [Israel had many special favors, as well as chastisements, from God]: that as sin hath reigned unto death [both in Israel and in the world], even so [both in Israel and in the world] might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
— November 1, 1905 —