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"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards

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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

...ead of the church, but here we read that He is head over all things to the church, for the sake of the church. Indeed, this confirms His promise that He is with us and we are not fear in the Ddscipling of the nations, because first of all, He has all rule and authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18-20). He is given to us as head over all authority, for our sake and for the good of His body, the Church. He is head, supreme, chief and prominent over all the world and everything that is created and exists. He is head over the ungodly world even as He is head over His body, the Church, and He exercises His sovereign reign for the sake of His church and His glory. John Gill notes on Ephesians 1:22:

And this headship of Christ is the gift of God; and it is an honourable gift to him, as Mediator; it is a glorifying of him, and a giving him in all things the pre-eminence; and it is a free grace gift to the church, and a very special, valuable, and excellent one, and of infinite benefit and advantage to it; and which is expressed in his being head "over all things" to it; to overrule all things for its good; to communicate all good things to it; and to perform all the good offices of an head for it: the Syriac version reads, "and him who is above all things, he gave to be the head to the church" even him who is God over all, blessed for evermore.[6]

Christ the Heir

Heb. 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

The Lord Christ is the heir to all that He has created as the first chapter of Hebrews goes on to demonstrate the full deity and creatorship of the Lord Jesus. But how is He heir? Well, the verse tells us. By the fact that He is the “Son” of God. Because an heir is a “person who inherits or is entitled by law or by the terms of a will to inherit the estate of another.”[7] He is an heir by right also since He was involved in the creation of the world. In fact, He was the Agent of creation. As John tells us: 

John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

He is the heir of the creation that He has made. As we have seen above, the Lord Jesus is the head of the all rule and authority, supreme and sovereign over all the cosmos that He created. He already owns everything and is the ruler of everything, but this, I believe, refers to the ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise (Rom. 4:13), fulfilled by the One to Whom the promises were given (Gal. 3:16). Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on Whole Bible says the following concerning Christ’s heirship:

His heirship follows His sonship, and preceded His making the worlds (Pro 8:22-23; Eph 3:11). As the first begotten, He is heir of the universe (Heb 1:6), which He made instrumentally, Heb 11:3, where "by the word of God" answers to "by whom" (the Son of God) here (Joh 1:3). Christ was "appointed" (in God's eternal counsel) to creation as an office; the universe so created was assigned to Him as a kingdom. He is "heir of all things" by right of creation, and especially by redemption. The promise to Abraham, that he should be heir of the world, had its fulfillment, and will have it more fully, in Christ (Rom 4:13; Gal 3:16; Gal 4:7).[8]

Christ is not the only heir, in fact, the New Testament teaches that we have become fellow or co-heirs with Christ, receiving that which the Father has promis...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 3: Of God's Decree - Commentary

...bsp;their boundaries. Not only has He done that, but in Him, we have our being. In Him and because of Him we are able to do anything and everything. He is the Uncaused Cause, He is the Primary Cause; we are secondary agents. Anything we do, we first need to “borrow” power and strength from Him. Thus, whatever I do, whether evil or good, I still am dependent on Him for whether He will grant me power and ability to do what I will or not. Man is in no way independent of God, but in every way dependent upon God even when he denies His existence. The Scripture is clear that we're dependent upon Him for everything. The great Calvinistic Baptist commentator, John Gill, said the following: "The natural life which men live is from God; and they are supported in it by him; and from him they have all the comforts and blessings of life; and all motions, whether external or internal, of body or of mind, are of God, and none of them are without the concourse of his providence, and strength assistance from him; though the disorder and irregularity of these motions, whereby they become sinful, are of themselves, or of the devil; and their being, and the maintenance of it, and continuance in it, are all owing to the power and providence of God."[2] He is the independent and the self-sufficient God. We are dependent upon the Independent One and we are not sufficient in and of ourselves, unlike Him. We are in everything dependent upon Him. We are dependent on Him even for our daily bread, as we ought to pray (Matt. 6:11).

Heb. 1:3 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

Our beloved Lord is not only God and man, but He is also the One who directs everything in the universe. He is the One Who upholds everything by His power. You are not dead because the Lord Jesus is upholding you right now and giving you life. The earth is not destroyed because Jesus reigns as Sovereign over all things. The Universe is not turned into chaos because Jesus reigns as Supreme. The word “upholds” in the Greek is the word φέρω (phero, G5342), which has the basic meaning of to carry, bear, move, bring forward and uphold.[3] So, He is the One Who is moving everything, bringing everything forward in the universe to its proper, predetermined and designed end. He brings it to the end that He has determined. He brings it to the place that He is willing to have everything. This is something that the Lord Jesus does from Heaven as the One reigning at the right hand of the Father. John MacArthur observes the following about “upholds”:

The universe and everything in it is constantly sustained by the Son’s powerfully effective word (Col. 1:17). The term also conveys the concept of movement or progress – the Son of God directs all things toward the consummation of all things according to God’s sovereign purpose. He who spoke all things into existence also sustains his creation and consummates his purpose by his word.[4]

Matthew Poole comments on this phrase saying, "the whole work of Providence is set out by upholding; ferwn imports sustaining, feeding, preserving, governing, throwing down, raising up, comforting, and punishing, &c. All would have fallen in pieces on man’s sin, had not he interposed, and stopped the world when it was reeling back into nothing, Col 1:17; and to this instant he ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary

...its novel idea that the Church and Israel are a separate people of God. From the earliest times of the Church, the Church saw itself as coming in place of Israel as the people of God. Dispensationalists derogatorily refer to this as Replacement Theology. Call it what you want, the Scriptures teach that the Church, Jewish and Gentile believers, are the Israel of God and the history of Christian theology up to Darby proves this. If you would read the old commentators, they would always refer to the Old Testament prophecies of restoration and prosperity as relating to the Church as the singular people of God. No doubt, a lot of the commentators saw also a latter day restoration of Israel (e.g. John Gill does this very often), but not as a separate people of God. But there came a change with the prominence of Dispensationalism, and the promises of God to His Church were taken away and given to an earthly and fleshly people, i.e., only to physical descendants of Abraham. They contended that we must separate Israel and the Church. They are not one people, but two different peoples of God, one heavenly and the other earthly with two separate plans. To defend this novel teaching, Dispensationalists do not allow the New Testament to interpret the Old. It is our belief that the New Testament should take precedence over the Old, not because the Old was not inspired or the New is more inspired. Rather, it is our belief that there is a greater clarity in the New Testament than in the Old. The Old was filled with types and shadows, but in the New we have the reality in Christ. Moreover, the interpretation of the Apostles of the Old Testament is the correct interpretation of the Old Testament, not the “literal” interpretation of Dispensationalists. Let me give you a few examples.

In Galatians 3, the Apostle Paul interprets the Abrahamic Covenant to have had promises made to Abraham to his singular Offspring who is Christ (Gal. 3:16). Then he goes on to say that “if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29). Also,

Gal. 3:7-9 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

It is the teaching of Dispensationalism that the Abrahamic Covenant forms the basis that Israel must remain as the people of God and is always entitled to the Promised Land, and that Israel has not yet attained to the (complete) fulfillment of that promise. But this is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture that all the promises were indeed fulfilled to Israel (e.g. Josh. 21:43-45) which were made to the physical seed. Yet, as we saw, the seed or offspring which had the promises made to, according to Paul, was the Lord Christ. It was to Him and to Abraham that God made promises. Moreover, the true children of Abraham are not those who are physically descended from him, but those who share his faith. It is by faith that we are children of Abraham. Galatians 3:29 explains how we may be children of Abraham and thus heirs to the promises which were made to Abraham and to Christ. It is through Christ, the true and faithful child of Abraham, that we are made children of Abraham. Being a child of Abraham is a matter of faith, not of fleshly descent. T...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 14: Of Saving Faith - Commentary

...is trustworthy when He says that He is the One to cleanse us from all sin and adopt us into His family. In Colossians 2:6, Paul says, "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him". We receive Christ as Lord, which indicates that we are prepared to submit unto His Lordship. But not only this, the beauty of this passage is in the fact that it says that we should walk in Him. To walk in Him means that believers "should live and act wholly under the influence of the conceptions which they had of the Saviour when they first embraced him."[19] John Gill's comments on this passage are also beneficial for our consideration:

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord,.... Receiving Christ is believing in him: faith is the eye of the soul, that sees the beauty, glory, fulness, and suitableness of Christ; the foot that goes to him, and the hand that takes hold on him, and the arm that receives and embraces him; so that this is not a receiving him into the head by notion, but into the heart by faith; and not in part only, but in whole: faith receives a whole Christ, his person as God and man; him in all his offices, as prophet, priest, and King; particularly as a Saviour and Redeemer, he being under that character so exceeding suitable to the case of a sensible sinner; and it receives all blessings of grace along with him, from him, and through him; as a justifying righteousness, remission of sins, adoption of children, grace for grace, and an inheritance among all them that are sanctified; and both Christ and them, as the free grace gifts of God; which men are altogether undeserving of, and cannot possibly give any valuable consideration for: so these Colossians had received Christ gladly, joyfully, willingly, and with all readiness; and especially as "the Lord", on which there is a peculiar emphasis in the text; they had received him and believed in him, as the one and only Lord and head of the church; as the one and only Mediator between God and man, to the exclusion of angels, the worship of which the false teachers were introducing; they had received the doctrines of Christ, and not the laws of Moses, which judaizing preachers were desirous of joining with them; they had heard and obeyed the Son, and not the servant; they had submitted to the authority of Christ as King of saints, and had been subject to his ordinances; wherefore the apostle exhorts them to continue and go on, believing in him, and holding to him the head[20]

Eating and Drinking Christ

Another metaphor is feeding on Christ. In John 7:37, He says "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink."  This water that the Lord Jesus gives will itself become a spring by the Holy Spirit. He says to the Samaritan woman, "Everyone who drinks of this water [from the well of Jacob] will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). The Lord Jesus offers us water that will give us eternal satisfaction and will never cause us to be thirsty again. It will nurture us and satisfy us forever.

He is also presented to us as the Bread of Life in John 6:32-35. Christ is the true Bread from heaven Who gives life to the world. God gave the Israelites manna in the wilderness to nurture them and provide for them. Christ declares that this bread was pointing to Him and that he is the True Bread...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 17: Of The Perseverance of the Saints - Commentary

...eal which God’s Spirit engraves on their hearts cannot be obliterated; the incorruptible seed, which has struck roots, cannot be pulled up or destroyed.

He does not speak here of the constancy of men, but of God, whose election must be ratified. He does not then, without reason declare, that where the calling of God is effectual, perseverance would be certain. He, in short, means that they who fall away had never been thoroughly imbued with the knowledge of Christ, but had only a light and a transient taste of it.[7]

And the great Baptist commentator John Gill says the following:

but they were not of us: they were of the church, and of the same mind with it, at least in profession, antecedent to their going out; for had they not been in communion with the church, they could not be properly said to go out of it; and if they had not been of the same mind and faith in profession, they could not be said to depart from it; but they were not truly regenerated by the grace of God, and so apparently were not of the number, of God's elect: notwithstanding their profession and communion with the church, they were of the world, and not of God; they were not true believers; they had not that anointing which abides, and from which persons are truly denominated Christians, or anointed ones:

for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us; in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the fellowship of the church, as true believers do: if their hearts had been right with God, they would have remained steadfast to him, his Gospel, truths, and ordinances, and faithful with his saints; for such who are truly regenerate are born of an incorruptible seed, and those that have received the anointing which makes them truly Christians, that abides, as does every true grace, faith, hope, and love; and such who are truly God's elect cannot possibly fall into such errors and heresies as these did, and be finally deceived, as they were:

but [they went out]; "they went out from us", so the Syriac version reads;

that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us; the word "all" is left out in the Syriac version. The defection and apostasy of these persons were permitted by God, that it might appear they had never received the grace of God in truth; and their going out was in such a manner, that it was a certain argument that they were not of the elect; since they became antichrists, denied the deity or sonship of Christ, or that he was come in the flesh, or that he was the Christ, and therefore are said to be of the world, and not of God, 1Jo 2:22, so that this passage furnishes out no argument against the saints' perseverance, which is confirmed in 1Jo 2:20.[8]

Therefore, I seek to read all the apostasy passages with this in mind, namely, that it is possible for people to be deceived by the false piety of others, thinking that they're Christian, but they (false believers) in time will demonstrate that, in fact, they are not Christian and are false brethren.

Difficult Passages

With all this in mind that we have discussed concerning the impossibility of apostasy for the elect, the warning passages not being conclusive and those who were not of us from the beginning, now we are in a position to be able to look at these passages which some claim do, in fact, teach true believers can fall away.

Romans 14:15 and 1 Corinthians 8:11 – Destroy the one for whom Christ died

Rom. 14:15 For if your bro...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary

...t from the fire which the LORD sent from heaven:

Lev. 9:24 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

This fire lit the burnt offering and the altar. All the other necessary fires had to be taken from this fire. But the fire which Nadab and Abihu brought, was “unauthorized” or “strange” because it came from another source. Then the text explicitly says that concerning this strange fire “he had not commanded them.” John Gill observes:

which he commanded not; yea, forbid, by sending fire from heaven, and ordering coals of fire for the incense to be taken off of the altar of burnt offering; and this, as Aben Ezra observes, they did of their own mind, and not by order. It does not appear that they had any command to offer incense at all at present, this belonged to Aaron, and not to them as yet; but without any instruction and direction they rushed into the holy place with their censers, and offered incense, even both of them, when only one priest was to offer at a time, when it was to be offered, and this they also did with strange fire. This may be an emblem of dissembled love, when a man performs religious duties, prays to God, or praises him without any cordial affection to him, or obeys commands not from love, but selfish views; or of an ignorant, false, and misguided zeal, a zeal not according to knowledge, superstitious and hypocritical; or of false and strange doctrines, such as are not of God, nor agree with the voice of Christ, and are foreign to the Scriptures; or of human ordinances, and the inventions of men, and of everything that man brings of his own, in order to obtain eternal life and salvation.[10]

Williamson observes:

Now it does not say this happened because they were not sincere -- or because they lacked 'good intentions'; it doesn't even say it happened because they did something God had expressly forbidden. No, what it says is that they did this without first making sure they had a warrant to do it. So, again we see that worship not commanded by God himself is, therefore, forbidden.[7]

Dr. C. Matthew McMahon likewise observes:

The[y] offered “strange fire”. Now this is somewhat of an odd statement. God never told them that they could not offer this strange fire. You would look through the Scriptures in vain to find the commandment which stated they were not allowed to do this. Rather, we do find what God does tell them. Though God did not expressly forbid this strange fire to be brought, we see from the text that God did not approve of it, and killed them on the spot for offering it.[11]

As I said in the beginning, what they did does not seem to the human mind as a sin deserving of death. It seems that they were sincere and had no evil intentions and they were obviously not expecting to die. But God sees their bringing fire “he had not commanded them” a thing which deserves the death sentence because it perverts His worship, which He is jealous for. By bringing strange and unauthorized fire before the Lord, Nadab and Abihu did not regard the Lord as holy, therefore, He brought immediate judgment upon them, so that the people would know that God is jealous for His worship and He is not pleased with “strange fire.” Again, we have here the principle of “what is not commanded, is forbidden.”

It is proper here to observe that how patient God ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 2: Of God and of the Holy Trinity - Commentary

... of Him, there is order and not chaos. All that the God of the Bible has, He has in and of Himself and is dependent upon no other being for it. The very name of God, which was given to Moses in Exodus 3:14, is “I AM WHO I AM.” It is a basic and most fundamental observation that in the Bible names represent the nature and character of the people who bear them. Names are not merely nice-sounding, but they say something about the name-bearer. The name of God, YHWH, represents all the perfections of God and God explains it as “I AM WHO I AM.” In essence and at the most minimal level, this name teaches the absolute independence of God. He is what He is because of Himself. John Gill notes on this passage saying that “This signifies the real being of God, his self-existence, and that he is the Being of beings; as also it denotes his eternity and immutability, and his constancy and faithfulness in fulfilling his promises, for it includes all time, past, present, and to come; and the sense is, not only I am what I am at present, but I am what I have been, and I am what I shall be, and shall be what I am.”[4]

The Bible over and over again declares the independence of God from the created world. Paul on the Areopagus declares that the true God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything,” but in contrast, “he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). This is the scriptural proof for our assertion that God is the Independent Being on Whom all creation depends. Scriptures teaches that God owns all things (Deut. 10:14; Job 41:11; Ps. 24:1; 50:10-12; 80:11). He is called “the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth” (Gen. 14:22). 1 Chronicles 29:11 majestically declares, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.” All that we have comes from His hand. John the Baptist says that “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27; cf. Jas 1:17). Amazingly, in 1 Chronicles 29, King David acknowledges that when we give things to God, we are giving Him things which He has given us. For all the offerings which the people brought for the Temple, David thanks the Lord and says, “For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you” (1Chron. 29:14). Job 41:11 (see also Rom. 11:35-36) says, “Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.” Nobody has given to God anything which was not His in the first place. That’s what the Lord Jesus said in Luke 17:10, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

Even before the creation—before the eyes of men and angels could gaze at the glory of God, the Lord Jesus speaks of His glory. In John 17:5 we read, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” God—both Father and Son, existed and had glory before the world existed. This implies that the glory of God is underived and independent from the world. In creation, the glory of God is manifested to creatures, but it is not increased as if God was less glorious before He created. God was love even before the creation (John 17:24) because love was there between the three Persons of the Tri...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

...dable. It is not to our purpose to inquire what sort of God they imagined him to be, or how many gods they devised; it is enough to know, that they thought that there is a God, and that honor and worship are due to him. It matters not whether they permitted the coveting of another man’s wife, or of his possessions, or of any thing which was his, — whether they connived at wrath and hatred; inasmuch as it was not right for them to covet what they knew to be evil when done.[7]

John Gill adds that ‘Though the Gentiles had not the law in form, written on tables, or in a book, yet they had "the work", the matter, the sum and substance of it in their minds; as appears by the practices of many of them, in their external conversation.’[8]

8. Verse 16 concludes by stating that people will be judged and that would be through the consciences, i.e., the moral law on their conscience will bear witness against themselves, and they will be judged according to the Gospel. There is a judgment coming upon everyone and there is a moral standard by which everyone will be judged. Either we will be judged in ourselves or a Substitute’s perfect righteousness will be imputed to us.

9. In conclusion, this passage teaches that everyone knows the law of God that is on their heart and in their conscience. Those who have the written revelation of God know it more clearly and have a greater knowledge of it, while those who do not possess the written revelation of God, are the law unto themselves. They function as the revelation of the law of God. The same law is there in written revelation (i.e., the Ten Commandments) and in the heart, but the manner and clarity of revelation are different. However wounded and seared our conscience may be, it is enough to testify against us. The conscience may be wounded and through continual sin taught to approve evil, yet the written revelation of God can never be changed to say that evil is good and good is evil. The written revelation has more clarity, and on the basis of that, those who have lived under that written revelation have more light than those who have not known the Scriptures. The former is judged harsher than the latter because of the light of knowledge which they had. Every child of Adam has access to the law of God, first of all, within their hearts and secondly, in the Holy Scriptures.

Did People Sin Before The Law?

The question sounds ridiculous, but we must ask it here. What is sin? 1 John 3:4 says that sin is “lawlessness” or as the KJV has it “sin is the transgression of the law.” Transgression of what law? Laws made by man or the law of God? The obvious answer is that sin is the transgression of the moral law of God. This point supports the assertion in this paragraph that all people have the law on their heart, in that there is a standard against which people sin. The mere existence of sin and of sinning proves that people had the moral law to sin against. The Apostle Paul, in the previous passage above, Romans 2:12, does not claim that people did not sin when they were not under the written law. No, they certainly did sin and they perished. Sin cannot exist without the moral law of God. Where there is no law of God, there cannot be sin, for sin is the transgression of that law. What does the Apostle then mean when he says sin is not counted where there is no law in Romans 5?

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men bec...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

...the law is pronounced upon all who do not abide by it (Gal. 3:10). Then, the observation is made that "it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law" (Gal. 3:11). Rather, as Habakkuk 2:4 said, "The righteous shall live by faith" (Gal. 3:11). Therefore, this means that "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law" (Gal 3:13) and for the purpose that "the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:14). This "blessing of Abraham", in context, is justification by faith (see here). John Gill observes on this blessing in v. 14 that this is

The same blessing Abraham enjoyed, even justification by the righteousness of Christ; and what was promised to Abraham, that in him, his seed, that is Christ, the Gentiles should be blessed, or justified; for though this blessing may in general comprise every spiritual blessing, yet it chiefly regards that of justification; or a deliverance from the curse of the law, and which is the end of Christ's being made a curse[18]

Romans 5:18-19 also pronounces these blessings upon us:

Rom. 5:18-19 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

Through the trespass of Adam, the condemnation of the law, which is death, was pronounced and came upon all men. This was the punishment for breaking the Covenant of Works, namely, death (Gen. 2:16-17; see chapter 7 on the Covenant of Works and its curse)! The opposite of death is life, which means that we have been freed from the curse of Adam (though this does not mean that we have been freed from physical death, see chapter 31 for more on this) and received the blessing of the Covenant of Works, which was eternal life. Furthermore, v. 19 says that the "many [who] were made sinners", will "be made righteous." And this righteousness is "not by their own obedience; nor by their own obedience and Christ's together; but by his sole and single obedience to the law of God: and the persons made righteous by it are not all the posterity of Adam, and yet not a few of them; but "many", even all the elect of God, and seed of Christ; these are all made righteous in the sight of God, are justified from all their sins, and entitled to eternal life and happiness."[18]

As to the meaning of the word "made" in connection to "made sinners" and "made righteous", we understand it to mean as "brought into the state" of sinfulness or the state of "righteousness." Some commentators translate the Greek with "constituted." The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges comments:

made sinners … made righteous] Better, constituted, “put into a position” of guilt and righteousness respectively. Here the whole context points to not a moral change but a legal standing. In Adam “the many” became, in the eye of the Law, guilty; in Christ “the many” shall become, in the eye of the same Law, righteous. In other words, they shall be justified.—“Shall be made:”—the future refers to the succession of believers. The justification of all was, ideally, complete already; but, actually, it would await the times of individual believing.—“Many:”—lit., in both cases, “the many.” See on Rom 5:15.—“Obedience:”—here probably the special reference is to the Redeemer’s “delight to do the will” of His Fat...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 29: Of Baptism - Commentary

...under the waters of baptism and of God's judgment is not in order that we may die and be condemned. Rather, the reason, as the Apostle gives it, is that we may come out of the water in newness of life, just like the Lord Christ did. The Lord Christ did not die and was buried to remain dead and buried, but that He may obtain eternal redemption for His people by His death and resurrection and enter into His rest. So, in like manner, the believer goes into the water-grave but comes out of the waters of baptism in newness of life. His old self remains in the waters of God's judgment, and a new person emerges. The going into the waters of baptism identifies us with Christ's death. As John Gill observed on Romans 6:4, “for believers, whilst under water, are as persons buried, and so dead; which signifies not only their being dead with Christ, and their communion with him in his death, but also their being dead to sin by the grace of Christ, and therefore ought not to live in it: for the apostle is still pursuing his argument, and is showing, from the nature, use, and end of baptism, that believers are dead to sin, and therefore cannot, and ought not, to live in it; as more fully appears from the end of baptism next mentioned;[7].

Paul here is not teaching that baptism is the vehicle which brings regeneration and the new life, for that is contradicted by everything he laid down in the previous chapters about how justification is by faith and grace alone. Rather, baptism is that which signifies and symbolizes the truths of justification and regeneration. Moreover, we should remember the fact that in the early church, the believers did not wait a long time or wait at all for their baptism after faith. Therefore, baptism came to be identified with the beginning of the new life. People did not wait months and years to be baptized, as most of us do, but as with the three thousand on Pentecost and the Ethiopian eunuch, they were baptized immediately after believing in Christ. They did not receive regeneration, faith, or justification by water baptism, but they showed that they possessed these things by water baptism. All these truths are clearly represented and symbolized in water baptism by immersion. But, is the Apostle actually speaking of water baptism here? Dr. John MacArthur calls the baptism in Romans 6 a "dry baptism” in a sermon of his. This baptism which Paul is writing about is a spiritual baptism into Christ. Baptism symbolizes our union with Christ but it is not the means which brings our union with Him. To claim so would make salvation to be dependent upon baptism and reject what the Apostle had laid before this chapter about justification by faith alone. The baptism of Romans 6 is a metaphorical baptism into Christ at the moment of faith, when the believer is united to their Savior and experiences the blessings of this union. But does this overthrow everything that I've said above? Not for a bit! The truths of union with Christ in His death and resurrection are still represented and shown by baptism in water, but they are not the effects of water baptism. If baptism was the means of union with Christ, i.e., salvation, then that would mean that salvation is by faith and works, which is cont

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