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the former verse, where the apostle expresses Christ's human nature by yevouévov, he was made of the seed of David, which word imports the constitution of something that did not exist before: but here, in this verse, expressing his divine nature, since he had from eternity been the Son of God, it is not said of him that he was made, but only declared or manifested to be so.
Besides, the apostle here speaks of things past and already done; which being so, with what propriety could he insist upon a thing only as decreed and purposed, after it had actually come to pass ? especially since it was this only which here made for his purpose. His design was to prove Christ the Son of God by an argument taken from a thing known and notable, which was his resurrection; and would any rational disputer omit this, that he was actually risen, and argue only from this, that it was decreed that he should rise from the dead? According to the natural way of speaking, men never use to say that such a thing is decreed or purposed, after once that decree or purpose has passed into execution. And so much for explication of the first term.
2dly, The second inquiry is, what is imported by this term with power; the Greek is ev duvápel, in power, so that by some it is rendered in virtute ; but it being not unusual for the particle èv to be put for oùy, it is most properly rendered in our translation with
power ; which, though some understand of the power of Christ, as it exerted itself in the miracles which he did; yet here it signifies rather the glorious power of his divine nature, by which he overcame death, and properly opposed to the weakness of his human nature, by which he suffered it. Cor
respondent to which is that place in 2 Cor. xii. 4, He was crucified by weakness, but he liveth by the power of God : that is, the weakness of his humanity made him capable of the death of the cross; but the power of his divinity triumphed over that death, and raised him to an eternal life.
3dly, The third thing to be inquired into is, what is the intent of the following words, according to the spirit of holiness. The expression is an Hebraism, and signifies as much as the Holy Spirit; but what is the meaning of that here, is the doubt to be resolved.
Some understand it only as a further explication of the precedent word èv duvámes, taking both that and this for the miraculous works done by the Spirit of God to confirm the gospel : for still we shall find that the miracles of Christ and his apostles were ascribed to the Spirit of God; which exposition cannot stand, for these reasons :
1st, Because it ought then to have been joined with the precedent words by conjunction, kad ev duváμει, και κατά πνεύμα.
2dly, Because in right construction it should have been πνεύματι, or διά πνεύματος, by the Spirit, noting the efficient cause; not according to the Spirit, as it is here; for katà avevua can never be brought to have an equivalent signification to διά πνεύματος. .
In the next place, therefore, if we observe the connection between this and the former verse, we shall find that there is a certain antithesis between them; and that as katà oápka signifies the human nature of Christ, so κατά πνεύμα may most appositely signify the divine; for it is not unusual in scripture for the divine nature to be rendered by the word
spirit ; John iv. 24, God is a spirit ; and 1 Tim. iii. 16, it is said, in respect of Christ, that God was manifested in the flesh, but justified in the Spirit ; that is, he was proved to have a divine nature, as well as an human. And now here, because the apostle had expressed the humanity of Christ, not by κατ' ανθρωπίνην φύσιν, οι κατ’ άνθρωπον, but κατά σάρκα, namely, the better to set forth the frailty and gross substance of the human nature; by way of opposition, he renders his divinity by katTveūma, a word properly corresponding to katà cápka, and withal importing the vigorous and refined substance of this nature. And whereas he annexes this qualification of holiness, and calls it the spirit of holiness, it is because he considers not the divine nature of Christ absolutely in itself, but according to the relation it had to, and the great effect that it exercised upon his other nature. For it was his divinity which sanctified, consecrated, and hypostatically deified his humanity; and in that respect it is here treated of by the apostle.
4thly, I come now to the explication of that fourth and last expression, by the resurrection from the dead, which is exceeding different from the original, according to the first and literal appearance of the sentence. For the words Jesus Christ our Lord, which in the translation are placed in the beginning of the third verse, in the Greek are the last words of the fourth ; which has occasioned great diversity in the construction. The words in the original are these, εξ αναστάσεως νεκρών Ιησού Χριστού του Κυρίου ημών. So that what we render by the resurrection from the dead, is word for word to be rendered by the resurrection of the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Whereupon some interpret it not of Christ's per
sonal resurrection; which, they say, ought to have been εκ νεκρών, not simply νεκρών ; but either of the resurrection of those, who in Matthew are said to have rose from their graves at the time of Christ's crucifixion, or of the general resurrection of all the saints; who are therefore called the dead of Jesus Christ, to discriminate them from the wicked and the reprobates, who, though they shall rise again, yet bear not this relation to Christ.
Accordingly they take the word avártaois actively for the action of Christ, by his power raising them from the dead: forasmuch as otherwise their being raised from the dead would not have had so immediate a force to prove Christ to be the Son of God.
But that the words are not so to be rendered, nor consequently to be understood of the resurrection of any but of Christ himself, is clear upon the strength of this reason : that (as I have partly observed already) the apostle's design here is to demonstrate to the Romans the divinity of Christ, by some signal passage already done, and so familiarly known by them. But the general resurrection was as yet future, and the resurrection of those few, it is probable, was not so famed a thing, as to have been commonly known amongst them: especially since there is mention of it only in St. Matthew, but in none else, either of the apostles or evangelists; who, being so diligent in representing all those arguments that seemed to prove the divinity of Christ, had they apprehended this to have been so clear and immediate an argument for the proof of it, certainly would not have thus passed it over in silence.
I conclude therefore, that it is to be understood of the personal resurrection of Christ from the dead.
So that the only thing that remains for us is, to solve and make out the construction : for which, though several ways may be assigned, yet the most rational is to refer the words Ιησού Χριστού του Κυρίου ημών, by apposition to the precedent words in the former verse, tepi to vidū avtoữ; not making it to be governed of verpūv; so that, in the Latin translation, Jesus Christ is not to be rendered by the genitive, but by the ablative case; it being repeated after the intervening words by an hyperbaton; a figure usual in the writings of this apostle; whose expression must be acknowledged to be none of the easiest or the clearest.
Neither is it material that the particle ék is not prefixed to verpão, to make it from the dead; since it is usual amongst the Greeks to omit prepositions, such as ĉv, čĘ, and år); as also amongst the Latins, with whom surrexit terrá is all one with surrexit a terrá. But above all this, the preposition here may be so much the better omitted, since the very word åváotaois carries in it the force of this preposition; forasmuch as it denotes a motion or recess from a certain place or state.
And thus I have given an explication of the words, the first thing proposed for the management of this subject; which explication has been, I confess, something large; but I hope, to those who understand these matters, is not altogether unuseful.
II. I come now to the second general head, which is, the accommodation of the words to the present occasion; and that shall be in shewing, that Christ's resurrection is the greatest and the principal argument to prove him the Son of God. Now both the foundation and sum of the gospel lies within the