Darby on Romans – The First few Verses of Romans

The glad tidings have a double character:

The accomplishment of promise
The Person of the Son of God designated in power through resurrection.
That divine power, which raised Him from the dead, and proved Him to be Son of God, was manifested throughout His life in the holiness which never allowed sin to enter for an instant. He was quickened by the Spirit (lit. in Spirit), but His holiness, separation to God, was by the Spirit also. Resurrection was the public demonstration that He was the Son of God in power, having secured the victory over the full wages of sin. The opened eye would have seen the same power in the absolute and perfect holiness all through His sinless life.

Rome Paul’s Commission to preach the Glad Tidings

Paul had never been to Rome, so he is writing from the point of view of his universal mission to the Gentiles. He reasons out the gospel: the state of man, the place the law held, and the Jews’ position. :

The Lord had called him and given him a personal mission to the Gentiles. He was an apostle by God’s calling, separated to the gospel out from the whole human race.  He was directly connected with Christ in glory   He was a witness of the glorified Lord Jesus, unconnected with the Messiah down here or Jesus after the flesh in His earthly (Jewish) associations.  Paul witnessed to a Christ who had suffered death and accomplished redemption, and who was now the glorified Man, the Beginning and Head of creation.

Paul was sent forth into active service by the Holy Spirit from Antioch. ‘Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.’ (Acts 13:2)   He received his commission directly from the Lord, and was separated to the glad tidings of God by the Holy Spirit.

The glad tidings have a double character:

  1. The accomplishment of promise
  2. The Person of the Son of God designated in power through resurrection.

The divine power, which raised Him from the dead, proving Him to be Son of God, was manifested throughout His life of holiness.  He was quickened by the Spirit (lit. in Spirit), but His holiness, never allowed sin to enter for an instant. Resurrection was the public demonstration that He was the Son of God in power, having secured the victory over the full wages of sin.   The opened eye would have seen the same power in the absolute and perfect holiness all through His sinless life.

God, in His goodness, approached man in grace. God came to him. This is the true gospel of God.  He came in power and grace, into the place where sin and death reigned.  He is the Son; He has power to deliver, but above all He is the Son of God. Grace made Him a man, but resurrection proved Him to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness. There is One revealed to us in perfect grace, but who in grace has a perfect claim over our souls.

He is from God. In the Person of the Son, God accomplished His promise, and secured victory over death.  His righteousness is revealed, meeting the need of man. This is the general aspect: man’s responsibility and man’s need will follow. But we must first have the gospel as it is for God and before God, though all in grace to us.   God has Himself brought in grace and glory.

As Romans is foundational, the testimony that Christ is Son of God is resurrection, not glory. His ascension is assumed as is the church’s, but already in resurrection God had put His seal on Christ’s Person and His work, redemption having been accomplished, sin atoned for, death overcome and Satan’s stronghold brought to nothing. The whole case between man and God had been met and established  on a new ground.

In Romans some things are not gone into:

  1. The glories which result according to the counsels of God
  2. Our resurrection with Christ
  3. Union with Him (which follows our resurrection with Christ)

Individual justification, not union is the subject of Romans. The assembly is not even presented.  Christ is viewed as risen alone.  Romans does cover our death with Him, because this was necessary to close the old evil, and bring us into a state where we are capable of living with God as fully delivered.

Paul’s mission concerned obedience to the faith (not the law) and the subjection of men’s souls to the truth of the revelation of God’s Son, the risen Man, the Lord Jesus. This can only be in grace, for grace could not come without truth, for what would grace be about, and how else should God be revealed? But God is light, and God is love – we know these in grace and truth.

What marvellous grace it is to see the whole power of evil broken, destroyed, by Him, who was willing to enter into the gloomy chamber of death. In submitting to death, He took upon Himself all the weakness of mortal man,  completely and absolutely delivering him.

There was no difference between Jew and Greek.  To the Gentile it was the revelation of God in grace; to the Jew it was the fulfilment of the gospel that had been announced beforehand by the prophets.  It was now a time to secure people for His Name.

Now we have Paul’s own feelings for those in Rome.  The believers already in Rome were the called of Jesus Christ, beloved of God, and saints by His calling.  The love of Christ made those he had not even seen the objects of his heart, and precious to him.  He expresses his desire to see them. He is apostle by right, but in heart he is their servant; and with the most true and ardent brotherly love, desires to impart t some spiritual gift, but in unfeigned grace he would be comforted in their mutual faith.  He was a ‘debtor to Greeks and barbarians’ (v.14) and he was ready to preach the glad tidings to them. It was ‘to the Jew first, and also to the Greek’ (v. 15). It was salvation to a sinful Jew, who had to come in in mercy, by faith, just like a Gentile.

He was not ashamed of the glad tidings; they were ‘the power of God unto salvation’ (v. 15) – simple words, but how much they contain!  It is not man acting for God, but God acting for man, in man’s favour, to deliver him from the state he was in – to save him.  How marvellous is the grace that sees the whole power of evil broken, destroyed, by Him, who was willing to enter into the gloomy chamber, taking upon Himself all man’s weakness in death,  completely and absolutely delivering him whose penalty He had borne!

Thus, in the gospel, God intervened, accomplishing a salvation which was entirely His own work.   Man came to have part in it by faith without adding anything whatsoever to it.  God be praised that it is so!  Whether for righteousness or for power,  it is a perfect divine work.  The righteousness of God is revealed on the principle of faith to faith. Nothing had to be done by man; nothing was required from man. It is on the principle of faith that it might be by grace. The object is love, God’s intrinsic nature. God’s righteousness was revealed on the principle of faith, not works. The just were to live by faith.

 A simplified summary of part of the introduction to John Nelson Darby’s  Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, with additional material from JND’s Synopsis – Romans.

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – Hebrews

Hebrews is founded on the person of Christ in His divine and human natures. (I am not sure whether JND would have used this expression later). Human sympathies are exercised through Christ’s priesthood on high, connecting the saints on earth with heaven. Although the saints are not seen as constituting the body united with Christ, all ancient Judaism is set aside. They are seen as answering to a present heavenly call, laying the ground for the introduction of Israel by the new covenant. With the use of comparisons and analogies, Christianity is contrasted with what had gone before.

Outline of Bible coverHebrews is founded on the person of Christ in His divine and human natures. (I am not sure whether JND would have used this expression later). Human sympathies are exercised through Christ’s priesthood on high, connecting the saints on earth with heaven. Although the saints are not seen as constituting the body united with Christ, all ancient Judaism is set aside. They are seen as answering to a present heavenly call, laying the ground for the introduction of Israel by the new covenant. With the use of comparisons and analogies, Christianity is contrasted with what had gone before.

In chapter 1 we get the authority of the communicated word as to the divinity of Christ. This is continued in from ch. 3:1 to 4:13, where we have Christ’s authority as Son over His house (in contrast to Moses), and the promise of rest to the people of God. Chapter 2 lays the foundation of future dominion and present priesthood in the human nature of Christ. This is continued from chapter 4:14, the glory of it being expounded in chapter 5 as to the Person and office of Christ. It is impossible to return to the elements of Judaism. If heavenly Christian things are departed from, things cannot be brought back by another power. God encourages the heirs of promise by word and oath, declaring the immutability of His counsel, and strengthens them to look within the veil, Christ having entered as forerunner, a high priest after the order of Melchisedec (chapter 6).

Chapter 7: The Melchisedec priesthood sets aside of the whole system of the law, the priesthood itself being changed from that of dying men to that of the living Son. That priesthood suits us, for such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens (v. 26).

In chapter 8, because the High Priest is set on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, offerings are needed. However, before touching on the offerings, we have a change of the covenant on which this ministry is founded, for Christ is the mediator of it. Now, for a better and heavenly tabernacle, we must have better sacrifices.

Chapter 9: In the tabernacle itself there was a difference. The veil was unrent in the Jewish tabernacle; now the veil is rent. The Holy Spirit showed that, as long as that first tabernacle had any place, the way into the holiest could not be open. Note that in ch. 9:16-17, the Greek word διαθήκη (diathéké) has the sense of testament; elsewhere it should be covenant. The blood of Christ purges the conscience, not merely sins, and cleanses the whole scene of the creature’s relationship with God. The next contrast is that He had not to offer Himself often in order to enter into the heavenly tabernacle, otherwise He would have to have suffered often. He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. The apostle contrasts the lot of man, subject to death and judgment, with Christ, who once offered Himself to bear the sins of many, and is now coming to those who look for Him for salvation, without any further question of sin

The writer then discusses in chapter 10 the whole bearing of this sacrifice, alleging that a person once cleansed by it has no more conscience of sins; whereas in the repeated sacrifices, there was a continual remembrance of sins. He then unfolds the origin of this sacrifice in God’s preparing Christ a body. He offers Himself to accomplish God’s will.  He does so willingly, and now sits for ever at the right hand of God. He does not stand like the old high priests who had to offer repeated sacrifices. By His one offering He has for ever perfected (i.e. made fit) those who are sanctified by it. The Holy Spirit bears divine testimony to this, declaring, ‘Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more’ (ch. 8:12). Thus we have the good will of God, the work of Christ, and the testimony of the Holy Spirit, to give us the divine security of unalterable peace. After that, he exhorts them to enter into the holiest, in the full assurance of faith through the new living way. The veil that had been rent, but then the writer warns them that if they abandoned one sacrifice be there would be no other. They are told to be patient: Christ would soon come. Meanwhile they must live by faith.

To this end, the writer shows, in chapter 11, that all the saints who were highly esteemed amongst them had obtained their good report by faith. He lays down four great principles:

  1. creation, known by faith,
  2. sacrifice, offered to obtain righteousness by faith,
  3. walking with God in the power of life by faith, and
  4. acting on the prophecy of coming events by faith.

We then get two great aspects of our trust in God: the patient expectancy of faith, and the active energy of faith. All those whose faith is described in detail are persons who lived before Israel went into the land. He then goes through a list of sufferings endured by the saints in faith, showing that the world was not worthy of them.   They died, not having received the promises, God having reserved a better thing for us.

Chapters 12 and 13 introduce Christ as the last great Witness. He overcame, and now, having obtained the glory, sits at the right hand of God. He shows them that suffering has the character of parental discipline: they are under grace, not law and terror. In doing this, he gives them the whole millennial result in heaven and earth – that is what they have come to in faith. Everything here will be shaken, but they are to leave the Jewish camp (religion and the world), and go to Jesus, He being the sin-offering. They must be either in heaven where the blood is, or outside the camp, or gate, where the sin-offering was burnt. He closes with a few exhortations.

Hebrews is of the called ‘book of the open heavens’ – Sosthenes

 

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes,  September 2014

– Se A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible  for the original