Christ both died and rose - That we are not our own, but are the Lord's both in life and death, is evident from this - that Christ lived, and died, and rose again, that he might be the Lord of the dead and the living; for his power extends equally over both worlds: separate, as well as embodied spirits, are under his authority; and he it is who is to raise even the dead to life: and thus all throughout eternity shall live under his dominion.
The clause και ανεστη, and rose, is wanting in several reputable MSS., and certainly is not necessary to the text. Griesbach omits the words, and reads απεθανε και εζησεν, died and lived; of which Professor White says, lectio indubie genuina: "this reading is indisputably genuine."
For to this end - For this purpose or design. The apostle does not say that this was the “only” design of his death, but that it was a main purpose, or an object which he had distinctly in view. This declaration is introduced in order to confirm what he had said in the previous verse, that in all circumstances we are the Lord‘s. This he shows by the fact that Jesus died “in order” that we “might” be his.
And rose - This expression is rejected by most modern critics. It is wanting in many manuscripts, and has been probably introduced in the text from the margin.
And revived - There is also a variation in the Greek in this place, but not so great as to change the sense materially. It refers to his “resurrection,” and means that he was “restored to life” in order that he might exercise dominion over the dead and the living.
That he might be Lord - Greek. That he might “rule over.” The Greek word used here implies the idea of his being “proprietor” or “owner” as well as “ruler.” It means that he might exercise entire dominion over all, as the sovereign Lawgiver and Lord.
Both of the dead - That is, of those who “are” deceased, or who have gone to another state of existence. This passage proves that those who die are not annihilated; that they do not cease to be conscious; and that they still are under the dominion of the Mediator. Though their bodies moulder in the grave, yet the spirit lives, and is under his control. And though the body dies and returns to its native dust, yet the Lord Jesus is still its Sovereign, and shall raise it up again:
“God our Redeemer lives,
And often from the skies.
Looks down and watches all our dust,
Till he shall bid it rise.”
It gives an additional sacredness to the grave when we reflect that the tomb is under the watchful care of the Redeemer. Safe in his hands, the body may sink to its native dust with the assurance that in his own time he will again call it forth, with renovated and immortal powers, to be for ever subject to his will. With this view, we can leave our friends with confidence in his hands when they die, and yield our own bodies cheerfully to the dust when he shall call our spirits hence. But it is not only over the “body” that his dominion is established. This passage proves that the departed souls of the saints are still subject to him; compare Matthew 22:32; Mark 12:27. He not only has “dominion” over those spirits, but he is their protector and Lord. They are safe under his universal dominion. And it does much to alleviate the pains of separation from pious, beloved friends, to reflect that they depart still to love and serve the same Saviour in perfect purity, and unvexed by infirmity and sin. Why should we wish to recall them from his perfect love in the heavens to the poor and imperfect service which they would render if in the land of the living?
And living - To the redeemed, while they remain in this life. He died to “purchase” them to himself, that they might become his obedient subjects; and they are bound to yield obedience by all the sacredness and value of the price which he paid, even his own precious blood; compare 1 Corinthians 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God‘s;” 1 Corinthians 7:23; Revelation 14:4 (Greek, “bought”); 1 Peter 2:9, (Greek, “purchased”). If it be asked how this “dominion over the dead and the living” is connected with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, we may reply,
(1) That it is secured over Christians from the fact that they are “purchased” or “ransomed” by his precious blood; and that they are bound by this sacred consideration to live to him. This obligation every Christian feels 1 Peter 1:18, and its force is continually resting on him. It was by the love of Christ that he was ever brought to love God at all; and his deepest and tenderest obligations to live to him arise from this source; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.
(2) Jesus, by his death and resurrection, established a dominion over the grave. He destroyed him that had the power of death, Hebrews 2:14, and triumphed over him; Colossians 2:15. Satan is a humbled foe; and his sceptre over the grave is wrested from his hands. When Jesus rose, in spite of all the power of Satan and of people, he burst the bands of death, and made an invasion on the dominions of the dead, and showed that he had power to control all.
(3) this dominion of the Lord Jesus is felt by the spirits on high. They are subject to him because he redeemed them; Revelation 5:9.
(4) it is often revealed in the Scriptures that “dominion” was to be given to the Lord Jesus as the reward of his sufferings and death; see the John 17:2, John 17:4-5; 5:26-29 notes; Philemon 2:5-11 notes; Ephesians 1:20-21 notes; Hebrews 2:9-10; Hebrews 12:2 notes. The “extent” of his dominion as mediator is affirmed, in this place, only to be over the dead and the living; that is, over the human race. Other passages of the Scripture, however, seem to imply that it extends over all worlds.