But of him are ye in Christ Jesus - Even the good which you possess is granted by God, for it is by and through him that Christ Jesus comes, and all the blessings of the Gospel dispensation.
Who of God is made unto us wisdom - As being the author of that evangelical wisdom which far excels the wisdom of the philosopher and the scribe, and even that legal constitution which is called the wisdom of the Jews, Deuteronomy 4:6.
And sanctification - As procuring for and working in us, not only an external and relative holiness, as was that of the Jews, but ὁσιοτητα της αληθειας, true and eternal holiness, Ephesians 4:24, wrought in us by the Holy Spirit.
And redemption - He is the author of redemption, not from the Egyptian bondage, or Babylonish captivity, but from the servitude of Satan, the dominion of sin and death, and from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, or the redemption of the body, Romans 8:21, Romans 8:23. See Whitby.
The object of the apostle is to show that man of himself possesses no good, that whatever he has comes from God, and from God only through Christ. For the different acceptations of the word righteousness the reader may consult the note on Romans 1:17; (note), where the subject is considered in every point of view.
But of him - That is, by his agency and power. It is not by philosophy; not from ourselves; but by his mercy. The apostle keeps it prominently in view, that it was not of their philosophy, wealth, or rank that they had been raised to these privileges, but of God as the author.
Are ye - Ye are what you are by the mercy of God. 1 Corinthians 15:10. You owe your hopes to him. The emphasis in this verse is to he placed on this expression, “are ye.” You are Christians, not by the agency of man, but by the agency of God.
(See the supplementary note at Romans 8:10.)
In Christ Jesus - See the note at 1 Corinthians 1:4. By the medium, or through the work of Christ, this mercy has been conferred on you.
Who of God - From God ἀπὸ θεοῦ apo theouChrist is given to us by God, or appointed by him to be our wisdom, etc. God originated the scheme, and God gave him for this end.
Wisdom - That is, he is to us the source of wisdom; it is by him that we are made wise. This cannot mean that his wisdom becomes strictly and properly ours; that it is set over to us, and reckoned as our own, for that is not true. But it must mean simply, that Christians have become “truly wise” by the agency, the teaching, and the work of Christ. Philosophers had attempted to become wise by their own investigations and inquiries. But Christians had become wise by the work of Christ; that is, it had been by his instructions that they had been made acquainted with the true character of God; with his law; with their own condition; and with the great truth that there was a glorious immortality beyond the grave. None of these truths had been obtained by the investigations of philosophers, but by the instructions of Christ. In like manner it was that through him they had been made practically wise unto salvation. Compare Colossians 2:3, “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” He is the great agent by whom we become truly wise. Christ is often represented as eminently wise, and as the source of all true wisdom to his people. Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 13:54; Luke 2:40, Luke 2:52; 1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 3:10. “Ye are wise in Christ.” Many commentators have supposed that the beautiful description of wisdom, in Romans 3:26-27); and,
(2) Because by his influence, and work, and Spirit, and truth, we are made personally holy in the sight of God.
The former is doubtless the thing intended here, as sanctification is specified after. The apostle here refers simply to the fact, without specifying the mode in which it is done. That is to be learned from other parts of the New Testament. Compare the note at Romans 4:25. The doctrine of justification is, that God regards and treats those as righteous who believe on his Son, and who are pardoned on account of what he has done and suffered. The several steps in the process may be thus stated:
(1) The sinner is by nature exposed to the wrath of God. He is lost and ruined. He has no merit of his own. He has violated a holy law, and that law condemns him, and he has no power to make an atonement or reparation. He can never be pronounced a “just” man on his own merits. He can never vindicate his conduct, as a man can do in a court of justice where he is unjustly accused, and so be pronounced just.
(2) Jesus Christ has taken the sinner‘s place, and died in his stead. He has honored a broken law; he has rendered it consistent for God to pardon. By his dreadful sufferings, endured in the sinner‘s place, God has shown his hatred of sin, and his willingness to forgive. His truth will be vindicated, and his law honored, and his government secured, if now he shall pardon the offender when penitent. As he endured these sorrows for others, and not for himself, they can be so reckoned, and are so judged by God. All the “benefits” or “results” of that atonement, therefore, as it was made for others, can be applied to them, and all the advantage of such substitution in their place, can be made over to them, as really as when a man pays a note of hand for a friend; or when he pays for another a ransom. The price is reckoned as paid for them, and the “benefits” flow to the debtor and the captive. It is not reckoned that they paid it, for that is not true; but that it was done for them, and the benefit may be theirs, which is true.
(3) God has been pleased to promise that these benefits may be conferred on him who believes in the Saviour. The sinner is “united” by faith to the Lord Jesus, and is so adjudged, or reckoned. God “esteems” or judges him to be a believer according to the promise. And so believing, and so repenting, he deems it consistent to pardon and justify him who is so united to his Son by faith. He is justified, not by the ACT of faith; not by any merits of his own, but by the merits of Christ. He has no other ground, and no other hope. Thus, he is in fact a pardoned and justified man; and God so reckons and judges. God‘s law is honored, and the sinner is pardoned and saved; and it is now as consistent for God to treat him as a righteous man, as it would be if he had never sinned - since there is as high honor shown to the law of God, as there would have been had he been personally obedient, or had he personally suffered its penalty. And as, through the death of Christ, the same “results” are secured in upholding God‘s moral government as would be by his condemnation, it is consistent and proper for God to forgive him and treat him as a righteous man; and to do so accords with the infinite benevolence of his heart.
And sanctification - By him we are sanctified or made holy. This does not mean, evidently, that his personal holiness is reckoned to us, but that by his work applied to our hearts, we become personally sanctified or holy. Compare Ephesians 4:24. This is done by the agency of his Spirit applying truth to the mind John 17:19, by the aid which he furnishes in trials, temptations, and conflicts, and by the influence of hope in sustaining, elevating and purifying the soul. All the truth that is employed to sanctify, was taught primarily by him; and all the means that may be used are the purchase of his death, and are under his direction; and the Spirit by whose agency Christians are sanctified, was sent into the world by him, and in answer to his prayers. John 14:16; John 15:26.
And redemption - ἀπολύτρωσις apolutrōsisFor the meaning of this word, see the note at Romans 3:24. Here it is evidently used in a larger sense than it is commonly in the New Testament. The things which are specified above, “justification and sanctification,” are a part of the work of redemption. Probably the word is used here in a wide sense, as denoting the whole “group,” or class of influences by which we are brought at last to heaven; so that the apostle refers not only to his atonement, but to the work by which we are in fact redeemed from death, and made happy in heaven. Thus, in Romans 8:23, the word is applied to the resurrection, “the ‹redemption‘ of the body.” The sense is, “it is by Christ that we are redeemed; by him that an atonement is made; by him that we are pardoned; by him that we are delivered from the dominion of sin, and the power of our enemies; and by him that we shall be rescued from the grave, and raised up to everlasting life.” Thus, the whole work depends on him; and no part of it is to be ascribed to the philosophy, the talent, or the wisdom of human beings. He does not merely aid us; he does not complete that which is imperfect; he does not come in to do a part of the work, or to supply our defects; but it is all to be traced to him. Colossians 2:10, “and ye are complete in him.”
Not to Exalt Men's Ideas—Man's ideas of education are not to be exalted. Greater heights than these are to be kept before God's people. The Lord is waiting to bestow His Holy Spirit upon all who will hunger and thirst after righteousness. The inclination that is manifested by those who claim to be educators, to exalt and extol learned men, is foolishness in the sight of God. Paul declares, “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.” CW 118.1
Again the Lord says, “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight....” CW 119.1
Dishonoring the Creator—Why does the Lord speak so plainly on this matter? It is because so many of the men who are exalted before the people are disloyal to Him, and therefore those who are exalting them are dishonoring their Creator. The men who use their time and talents in this work, while they claim to be working for the word and cause of God, show that they need to learn of the great Teacher, for as educators they must have the spirit of the Master of education. They are making no difference between the circumcised and the uncircumcised, but are placing all upon the same level. If their perceptive faculties are not sanctified and quickened, that they may distinguish between the sacred and the common, they will go on placing man where God should be. Failing to distinguish between obedience and disobedience, they will give the trumpet an uncertain sound, and men will be unprepared for the battle of the great day of God. CW 119.2Read in context »
To learn science through the interpretation that men have placed on it is to obtain a false education. To learn of God, and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent, is to learn the science of the Bible. The pure in heart see God in every providence, in every phase of true education. They recognize the first approach of the light that radiates from God's throne. Communications from heaven are made to those who will catch the first gleams of spiritual knowledge. MYP 191.1
The students in our schools are to regard the knowledge of God as above everything else. Only by searching the Scriptures can this knowledge be attained. “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.... The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.... But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”—The Youth's Instructor, November 24, 1903. MYP 191.2Read in context »
God declares, “I will be glorified in My people;” but the self-confident management of men has resulted in putting God aside, and accepting the devisings of men. If you allow this to continue, your faith will soon become extinct. God is in every place, beholding the conduct of the people who profess to represent the principles of His word. He asks that a change be made. He wants His people to be molded and fashioned, not after man's ideas, but after the similitude of God. I entreat of you to search the Scriptures as you have never yet searched them that you may know the way and will of God. Oh, that every soul might be impressed with this message, and put away the wrong! TM 481.1
We would do well to study carefully the first and second chapters of 1 Corinthians. “We preach Christ crucified,” the apostle declared, “unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” The human being who undertakes to become wisdom for another will find himself coming short. TM 481.2Read in context »