But God commendeth his love toward us,
in that, while we were yet sinners,
Christ died for us. [KJV]
From other translations:
But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. [AMP]
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [ESV]
But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. [MSB]
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [NIV]
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. [NLT]
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [NKJV]
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [NASB]
Now let us see what this verse is telling us.
God commendeth his love toward us.
God clearly demonstrates and proves His own great love for us, put his love on the line for us, so that in the midst of our afflictions we may rest assured that He will be present with us.
In this unprecedented action He illustrates (Romans 5:7,8) an unparalleled instance of love; herein God’s thoughts and ways are far above ours. Compare this with
Greater love has no one than this,
that one lay down his life for his friends.
One will hardly die for a righteous man (Romans 5:7).
A righteous man, that is, an innocent man, one that is unjustly condemned; every body will pity such a person, but few will put such a value upon his life as either to hazard, or much less to deposit, their own in his stead.
Though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die (Romans 5:7)
It may be, one might perhaps be persuaded to die for a good man, that is, a useful man, who is more than barely a righteous man.
Many are good for themselves, but do little good to others. But those that are useful commonly get themselves well beloved, and meet with some that in a case of necessity would venture to be their ‘antipsychoi’, would engage life for life, would be their bail, body for body.
Paul was, in this sense, a very good man, one that was very useful, and he met with some that for his life laid down their own necks (Romans 16:4). And yet observe how he qualifies this: It is but some that would do so, and it is a daring act if they do it, it must be some bold venturing soul; and, after all, it is but a peradventure.
In that, while we were yet sinners
By the fact that while we were still sinners, while we were of no use whatsoever to Him.
Christ however died for sinners (Romans 5:8), neither righteous nor good;
▪︎ not only such as were useless, but such as were guilty and obnoxious;
▪︎ not only such as there would be no loss of should they perish, but such whose destruction would greatly redound to the glory of God’s justice, being malefactors and criminals that ought to die.
Some think he alludes to a common distinction the Jews had of their people into righteous and merciful on the one side (compare Isaiah 17:1), and wicked on the other.
Now herein God commended his love, not only proved or evidenced his love (He might have done that at a cheaper rate), but magnified it and made it illustrious.
This circumstance did greatly magnify and advance His love, not only put it past dispute, but rendered it the object of the greatest wonder and admiration: “Now my creatures shall see that I love them, I will give them such an instance of it as shall be without parallel.’’
God commendeth his love, as merchants commend their goods when they would put them off. This commending of his love was in order to the shedding abroad of his love in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. He evinces his love in the most winning, affecting, endearing way imaginable.
We were yet sinners
We were of no use whatsoever to Him, for it was not Him, nor our love towards Him, but sin, and His opponent, His enemy who reigned in us.
While we were yet sinners implies that we are not to be sinners always, there should be a change; for he died to save us, not IN our sins, but FROM our sins; but we were yet sinners when he died for us. No, not just sinners, we were eve His enemies!
The Christ died for us.
The Christ, (meaning the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.
Just think about this: God, the creator of heaven and earth, offered His own Son in sacrificial death for us, so we could live. If that isn’t love!
Three signals of God’s love are given here:
- Christ died for the ungodly, whose character, was far from anything that could plead positive on their behalf, but was altogether repulsive to the eye of God. That is who we were, and who you are if you didn’t yet decide to follow Jesus.
- He did this when they were without strength. With nothing between them, and perdition, but that self-originating divine compassion.
- He did this at the due time, when it was most fitting that it should take place (compare Galatians 4:4 ). (The two former of these properties the apostle proceeds to illustrate in the following verses).
Jesus died for us, not because we are Jews or Greeks, rich or poor, righteous or good, but because we are plain sinners. And as such need Him most, and cannot live without Him taking our sins away from us. (Compare: Luke 18:13, the plea of the publican)
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