Thursday, November 8, 2012

Johann Gerhard on Romans 5:19

Previously I had posted a translation of Johann Gerhard on Romans 3, Romans 4, and Romans 5:18.  Here's a translation of his interpretation of Romans 5:19.

(Translation copyright 2012 by Paul A. Rydecki.  All emphasis is in the original.)

Adnotationes ad priora capita Epistolae D. Pauli ad Romanos (1644)

Romans 5:19
σπερ γρ δι τς παρακος το νς νθρώπου μαρτωλο κατεστάθησαν ο πολλοί, οτω κα δι τς πακος το νς δίκαιοι κατασταθήσονται ο πολλοί.
[The Apostle] demonstrates the basis for the preceding comparison, which consists in this, that these two men (Adam and Christ) have been established as two stocks from which righteousness and life are propagated to others. For Adam was established at the beginning of creation as the stock from which righteousness and life should be propagated to all his posterity.  But since he turned away from God through sin, from that time on unrighteousness and death are propagated from him to all his posterity. Therefore, God out of grace took pity on the human race and opened up another source of righteousness and life for us.  He sent Christ the Mediator, from whom as a stock and a tree of life, righteousness and life should be communicated to all who are grafted into Him by faith.
What he had earlier called transgression (παράπτωμα) he now calls disobedience (παρακοήν), because the origin and source of transgression was disobedience. And what he had earlier called righteousness (δικαίωμα), he now calls obedience (πακοήν), because Christ, by obeying His heavenly Father to death, even death on a cross, acquired that righteousness for us (Phil. 2:9).  Then in turn, what he had said earlier—by one transgression condemnation (κατάκριμα) came upon all—that he brings out in this verse saying that many were made sinners, because that propagation of sin and contraction of guilt is the cause of condemnation. And what he had said earlier—through one Man’s righteousness the benefit overflowed to all for justification (δικαίωσιν)—that he brings out here saying that through one Man’s obedience many were made righteous. But he uses a future tense verb on account of those who will believe (τος μέλλοντας πιστεύειν).
Godly men of old speak in this way concerning this contrast of Adam and Christ.  Irenaeus (Book 5, ch. 18, p.342): Just as through one conquered man our race descended into death, so again through one conquering man we have ascended to life.  And just as death won the prize against us through a man, so again we have won the prize against death through a man.  Augustine writes in Letter 57 ad Dardan. q. 2: In the one case it became clear how the choice of a man should prevail for death; in the other case, how the help of God should prevail for life. He says the same thing in Book 2 On Original Sin, ch. 24: The Christian faith properly consists in the case of these two men.  Through one of them we were sold under sin; through the other we are redeemed from sin.  One of these men caused us to perish in himself by doing his own will rather than the will of Him by whom he was made; the other Man saved us in Himself by not doing His own will, but the will of Him by whom He was sent. Lyranus in h.1: Just as through the disobedience of Adam his posterity were made unrighteous, so through the obedience of Christ many are justified in the wood of the outstretched cross.
The Papists try to wrest out of h.1 that we are justified through an infused and inherent righteousness.
Pererius in h.1 says: Paul did not say that they were made sinners by the disobedience of Adam, nor should one imagine that they were made so through imputed disobedience.  Rather, he said “through disobedience,” that is, disobedience that came through the sin that dwells intrinsically in them due to Adam’s disobedience. Similarly, therefore, it is not that the obedience of Christ makes them righteous, as if men became righteous not through an inherent righteousness but through an imputed righteousness.  Rather, they are made righteous through the obedience of Christ, because this was the meritorious cause.
We reply:  This presupposes that that phrase righteousness makes righteous and unrighteousness makes unrighteous, is only meant formally; but that the other phrase, through righteousness they are made righteous and through unrighteousness they are made unrighteous is only meant with regard to merit[1].  And yet Pererius himself is forced to deny this hypothesis when that which is through faith δι πίστεως), Rom. 3:22,30, is interpreted formally.  Thus in 2 Tim. 3:15, faith is not the cause because of which a person merits becoming wise for salvation, but is rather itself the form of that wisdom. Thus when in Gal. 5:6 faith is said to work through love, love cannot be understood as the meritorious cause why faith works. Bellarmine himself in Book 2 On Justification, ch. 3, says: We are justified through his grace, i.e., through the righteousness given and infused by him, and this is the formal cause.
Bellarmine, in Book 2 On Justification, ch. 3:  Through the unrighteousness of Adam we were made unrighteous by an unrighteousness that truly and really inheres in us, not by imputation.  Therefore, in the same way we are made righteous through the obedience of Christ, by a righteousness that inheres in us.  Becanus, in Part 1 On Justification, ch. 2 section 14: Just as we were made unrighteous through the disobedience of Adam, so through the obedience of Christ we are made righteous. Yet we are made unrighteous through Adam’s disobedience, not formally, but only efficiently and meritoriously. Therefore we are also made righteous through the obedience of Christ, not formally, but only efficiently and meritoriously.
We reply:
1) The comparison between the disobedience of Adam and the obedience of Christ is not instituted simply[2] and absolutely, but according to something in particular[3]. For the Apostle is considering at that time the causes of our salvation and condemnation, for just as the condemnation draws its origin from Adam’s disobedience, so our salvation draws its origin from Christ’s obedience. Then, the Apostle considers the propagation and effects of Christ’s obedience and of Adam’ disobedience, for just as through the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners, so through the obedience of Christ they are made righteous. 
2) But by no means is this comparison to be extended to the mode of propagation and communication, which the Apostle is obviously not treating in this passage; but he dealt with that in the preceding passages, teaching that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us by faith, but that Adam’s sin is propagated to us by carnal generation.
3) If we wanted to go beyond the limits of the Apostolic comparison, someone could infer from the same that the righteousness of Christ is propagated to us through carnal generation, since the unrighteousness of Adam is communicated to us in that manner.  Likewise, one could infer that the righteousness of Christ is propagated to all men together, without any regard for faith or unbelief, since the sin of Adam is propagated to all through carnal generation. 
4) But since that is absurd, a distinction must fully be made between the acquisition and the application of the merit of Christ; or between the benefit itself and participation in the benefit.  The acquisition of the merit, or the benefit itself obtained by the death of Christ is general.  For as Adam, by his disobedience, enveloped all of his posterity in the guilt of sin, so Christ, who suffered and died for the sins of all, also merited and acquired righteousness for all.  But this benefit is only applied to those who are grafted into Christ by faith, and only they become participants in this benefit. 
5) The contrast is evident in this Apostolic text between justification and condemnation, v. 16 and v.18. But since they are contrasted under the same genre, and condemnation is, to be sure, a judicial act, from that it follows that justification is also a judicial act, and hence it consists, not in the infusion of righteousness, but in the absolution from sins. Undoubtedly, as through the sin of Adam sin is propagated to all men, for it results in condemnation for them, that is, because of it they are damned by the righteous judgment of God unless reconciliation and remission take place, so through the merit of Christ righteousness and salvation have been obtained for all, so that they may be justified by faith, that is, that they may be pronounced righteous, absolved from sins and freed from condemnation. 
6) To be made righteous and to be justified are considered by the Apostle to be equivalent expressions (σοδυναμοσι).  Therefore, to be made righteous is contrasted with for condemnation in v.19; so also to be justified in v.18; and hence each has a forensic meaning. The verb they will be made (κατασταθήσονται) indicates that these things are carried out before the tribunal of God’s righteous judgment, who condemns Adam’s posterity on account of sin, but absolves believers in Christ from that damnation and makes them righteous (Rom. 10:3, 2 Cor. 5:21). 
7) By no semblance of truth can it be denied that the sin of Adam is imputed to his posterity.  For although the corruption of nature that arises from Adam’s sin inheres in his posterity, nevertheless it cannot be denied that Adam’s sin, from which the corruption of nature arises, is imputed to them (Ex. 20:5, Rom. 5:13).  For as soon as our first parents sinned, in whose loins was the entire human race, and who received gifts not only for themselves, but also for their posterity, their transgression was considered the transgression of the entire human race, and hence was imputed to all of them so that they are damned before they are born. Therefore, Bellarmine himself in Book 4 On the Loss of Grace, ch. 10, writes: The sin of Adam is imputed to all his posterity in such a way as if all had committed the same sin. And he cites the statement of Bernhard: Adam’s guilt is ours, for although it was in another, we still sinned; and it was imputed to us by God’s righteous judgment, although secretly.
Stapleton in Antidoto h.l. presses the verb they will be made (κατασταθήσονται).  This vocable, he says, is most suitable for explaining inherent righteousness, for the use of Scripture teaches that it does not mean imputation, but the true and inherent acquisition and possession (Luke 12). Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2 place him over all things.  You placed him over all the works of your hands.  James 2, He is made an enemy of God.
We reply:
1) Some declare that the verb to be made applies to the status of the believers in the future age in which they will be made righteous by inherent righteousness—and that a most perfect righteousness. Certainly the benefits of Christ do not end with this life, but are extended also into the future life.  Therefore, in this way this phrase would designate the effect of justification.  This is what they make of the words of the Apostle, those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life. For distinct times are noted: they receive the abundance of the gift, already in place in this life; yet they do not reign in life, but will reign, that is, someday and in the future age.
2) In justification, believers are truly made righteous by the imputed righteousness of Christ, no more truly than a servant who is at some time placed by his lord over all his goods, or a man who is placed by God over all the works of His hands.  But it does not follow, if someone wishes to infer from this truth an inherence of righteousness.  Nor in the examples cited is inherence necessarily established.  A man is made lord of the creatures not through inherence, but through relationship; a man is made a friend of God, not by some affection inhering in the man himself, since God loved those who did not exist.

[1] meritorie
[2] simpliciter
[3] secundum quid


LPC said...

Gerhard said something was absurd - what is this absurdity?

It is this...
Likewise, one could infer that the righteousness of Christ is propagated to all men together, without any regard for faith or unbelief, since the sin of Adam is propagated to all through carnal generation.

But this is UOJ. Hunnius said the same thing. The theory that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the whole world by virtue of Jesus resurrection from the dead, without any regard for faith is absurd.

Here we now have Gerhard and Hunnius saying the same thing, that is now on top of Scripture, two additional witnesses countering the Huberian opinion.


A. Berean said...

If one is familiar with historical, confessional lutheranism (The Book of Concord, Luther, Chemnitz) he will realize that this interpretation by Gerhard is very consistent with how Romans 5:19 is understood. The Formula of Concord only uses Romans 5:19 to demonstrate the meritorious cause of justification, not the extent. Luther addresses it in his Commentary on Romans and his Works, Lectures on Romans. Chemnitz addresses it in his Loci Theologici and Ministry, Word, and Sacraments. Historically, there is a change in the use of this passage.

This is a very fine work by Rev. Rydecki and he should be thanked for all of his hard work. I hope that these translations will one day be published for public consumption. I would add it to my shelf.

Mr. Douglas Lindee said...

Following on from A.Berean's comment (what's your name again Mr. Berean?), I took up Luther's Commentary on Romans (tr. J. Theodore Muellor, 1954, Zondervan) a couple weeks ago, after Rev. Rydecki started publishing these excerpts from Gerhard's commentary on Romans, and have found myself delighted by it. He explains these scriptures in ways that I've not heard contemporary Lutherans speak. For example, in Ch. 3, he compares justification with its opposite, judgment. Those who face judgment are the opposite of justified. In Luther's comparison, he was explaining how it is that God could be "justified in His sayings" (v.4), when unrighteous man is in no position to either judge or justify a perfectly righteous God. He explains:

"But God is justified in His sayings when His Word is recognized and accepted by us as just and truthful. This takes place when we believe His Word. Conversely, God is judged in His sayings if men regard His Word as false and fallacious... If God is justified in His sayings, it is really we (the believers) who are justified; if He is judged and condemned, it is they (the unbelievers) who are judged and condemned according to Mark 16:16: 'He that believeth not shall be damned'" (pg. 51).

It is illuminating to consider the impact of justification in terms of its opposite, judgment or condemnation. The Scriptures tell us that the wicked are "judged already": He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18).

That is:

Faith = no condemnation, or no judgment = (justification)
Unbelief = condemnation, or judgment = (no justification)

Is it possible that the condemned are also "justified"? No. Justification and judgment cannot be commingled. They are opposites. As a result:

- It is impossible for those with righteous standing before God to face condemnation: justified and condemned are opposites.

- It is impossible for one who is justified before God to also be judged by God: justification and judgment are opposites.

This is especially the case for those who stand BEFORE GOD in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ – those so justified cannot also be condemned, unless God Himself, on the basis of His Righteousness, be subject to condemnation along with them (which is also "absurd"). It seems to me, given the mutually exclusive nature of justification and judgment as Luther exposes it, that those who are condemned by God through unbelief, cannot at the same time be justified before Him in any sense.

Regarding Ch. 5:18-19, Luther, writing rather straightforwardly, concurs with Gerhard:

"As by the offense of one judgment cam upon all men to condemnation (v.18). Here the apostle says "all"; first, because as all who are begotten of Adam are born again through (faith in) Christ; and secondly, because as there is no carnal begetting except through Adam, so also there is no spiritual begetting except through Christ.

"As by on man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (v.19). Here the Apostle speaks of "many" and not of "all," to show that in the preceding verse his emphasis is not on the number of the sinners of the righteous, but upon the power of sin and grace. If sin proved itself so powerful that a single transgression has perverted many, or rather all, then divine grace is much more powerful; for the one act of grace, (Christ's atonement) can save many, all men, of many sins, if they only would desire it ['desire it' through faith, of course, instead of reject it in unbelief -DL]" (pp. 81-82).

Christian Schulz said...

What a great point you brought up Mr. Lindee. I was re-reading Chemnitz' loci on justification today and he was making the same exact point.

Joe Krohn said...

Seems there was a similar blog post elsewhere that inferred that there is a contradiction regarding this passage and Luther was used against this 'contradiction'. You should take Luther's advice and not dwell on the many and all. It is about sin and grace. To say there is a contradiction puts the universal redemption of all men and the reconciliation of all sins into question. Do you really want to do this?

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