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Thomas Goodwin :: Section Three :: Chapter Four

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Section Three :: Chapter Four

The second head propounded, the influence Christ’s resurrection has into justification. Two branches of the demonstration of this: First, that Christ was a common person, representing us in all he was, or did, or suffered, handled at large; more especially a common person in his resurrection.

2. Now secondly, to come to that other head propounded, the influence Christ’s resurrection has into our justification. The demonstration or making out of which depends on two things put together;

  • The first, how Christ was appointed by God, and himself acted the part of a common person, representing us in what he did, and more particularly in his resurrection. Of this in this chapter.

  • The second is, how from that consideration arises, not only an evidence to our faith, but a real influence into our justification and non-condemnation. So as, “Who shall condemn?” because “Christ is risen again,” as a common person, representing us therein.

(1.) For the first of these, to illustrate and prove it in the general, that instance of Adam serves most fitly, and is indeed made use of in the Scripture to that end. Adam, as you all know, was reckoned as a common public person, not standing singly or alone for himself, but as representing all mankind to come of him. So as by a just law, what he did was reckoned to his posterity whom he represented. And what was by that law threatened, or done to him for what he did, is threatened against his posterity also. Now this man was herein a lively type of our Lord Christ, as you have it, “who was the type of him who was to come,” Romans 5:14. Unto which purpose, the titles which the apostle gives these two, Christ and Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:47, are exceeding observable. He calls Adam “the first man,” and Christ our Lord, “the second man;” and both for that very purpose and respect which we have in hand. For, first, he speaks of them as if there had never been any more men in the world, nor were ever to be for time to come, except these two. And why? but because these two between them had all the rest of the sons of men hanging at their girdle; because they were both common persons, that had the rest in like (though opposite) considerations included and involved in them. Adam had all the sons of men, born into this world, included in himself, who are therefore called “earthly men,” 1 Corinthians 15:48, in a conformity to him “the earthly man,” 1 Corinthians 15:47 and Christ the second man had all his elect—who are “the first born,” and whose “names are written in heaven,” and therefore, in the same verse, are oppositely called “heavenly men”—included in him. You see how he sums up the number of all men in two, and reckons but two men in all; these two, in God’s account, standing for all the rest. And farther observe, that because Adam was in this his being a common person unto us, the shadow and the lively type of Christ, who was to come after him; that therefore he is called “the first man” of these two, and Christ “the second man,” as typified out by him.

Now if you ask wherein Christ was a common person, representing us, and standing in our stead; I answer, if in anything, then in all those conditions and states wherein he was, in what he did, or befell him, while here on earth especially. For he had no other end to come down into this world, but to sustain our persons, and to act our parts, and to have what was to have been done to us acted upon him.

  • [1.] Thus, first, in their two several conditions, qualifications, and states, they both were common persons. That is, look what state or condition the one or the other was made in, is by a just law to be put upon those whom they represented. So the apostle reasons from it in 1 Corinthians 15:48, “as is the earthly man” (namely, the first man, Adam), “such are the earthly,” namely, to be earthly men as well as he; because he who is a common person representing them, was in his condition but an earthly man. And oppositely, by the same law, it follows, “as is the heavenly man” (namely, the second man, Christ), “such are and must be the heavenly,” who pertain to him, because he also is a common person, ordained to personate them; and Adam, who came after him, was therein but his type.

  • [2.] And as thus, in this place to the Corinthians, the apostle argues Christ to be a common person in respect of his condition and state, by an argument of parallels taken from his type, Adam; so secondly in Romans 5, he argues Christ to have been a common person, in his actions which he did on earth: and this also from the similitude of Adam, whom, Romans 5:14, he therein makes to have been Christ’s type. And he speaks of Adam there as a common person, both in respect of what he did, namely, his sin; and also in respect of what befell him for his sin, namely, death and condemnation. And because he was in all these not to be considered as a single man, but as one that was all men, by way of representation. Hence, both what he did, they are said to do in him; and what condemnation or death was deserved by his sin, fell upon them all, by this law of his being a public person for them.

    • First, for what he did. He sinned, you know, and, Romans 5:12, all are said to have sinned, namely, in his sin yes, and according to those words in the Greek, ἐν ᾧ,* which are added there, you may render that sentence (and the original bears it, and it is also varied in the margin) thus, “in whom all have sinned,” namely, in Adam, as in a public person. Their act was included in his, because their persons were included in his.
      *This reading, ἐν ᾧ, for ἐφ᾽ ᾧ, which the author quotes, and which our translators must have had before them, is not given by Griesbach.—ED.

    • Secondly, for what befell him for sin, that befell them also by the same law of his being a person representing them. Hence in Romans 5:12, death is said to “pass upon all men,” namely, for this, that Adam’s sin was considered as theirs, as it there follows. It is said to pass, even as a sentence of death passes upon a condemned malefactor. And in Romans 5:18, judgment is said to “come by that one man’s offence, upon all men, to condemnation.” Now in Genesis 2:17, the threatening was spoken only to Adam, as but one man, “In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die.” And in Genesis 3:19 that sentence seems only to pass upon him alone, “Unto dust you shall return.” Yet in threatening Adam, God threatened us all; and in sentencing Adam to death, he sentenced us also. The curse reaches us too; “death passed upon all men” then, and therefore by a just law “death reigns over all,” as in Romans 5:14, 17 because Adam was in all this a common person representing us, and so in our stead; and so all this concerns us as truly and as nearly as it did him. I say by a just law; for indeed the Scripture, upon the equity of this rule, pronounces a statute out against all men that they should die, Hebrews 9:27. Statutum est, it is appointed by a statute law that all should die. Now if you search for this statute, when and where enacted, you will find that the original record and roll is that in Genesis 3:19, spoken only of Adam, but holding true of us, “to dust you shall return.”

(3.) Just thus the matter stands in the point of our justification and salvation between Christ and elect believers; for Adam was herein his type. Christ was considered and appointed of God as a common person, both in what he did and in what was done to him. So as by the same law, what he did for us is reckoned or imputed to us, as if we ourselves had done it; and what was done to him, tending to our justification and salvation, is reckoned as done to us. Thus when Christ died, he died as a common person, and God reckons that we died also. When Christ arose, he rose as our head, and as a common person, and so then God accounts that we rose also with him. And by virtue of that communion which we had with him in all those actions of his, it is that now when we are born again, we do all rise both from the guilt of sin and from the power of it, even as by virtue of the like communion we had with (or being one in) Adam, we come to be made sinful, when we begin first to exist as men and to be first born.

Thus in his death he was considered as a common person, and God reckoned us dying then, and would have us reckon so also. So in Romans 6:10, the apostle speaking of Christ says, “In that he died, he died unto sin once; but in that he lives, he lives unto God.” Then in Romans 6:11, speaking of us he says, “Likewise reckon you yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The meaning whereof is plainly this, that whereas regenerate men are for the present in the reality but imperfectly mortified and dead to sin, as considered in themselves, and in respect of the work of it, as wrought in them; yet that being considered in Christ as their head, and a common person representing them, they may λογίζειν, they may truly, by a way of faith, reason or “reckon” themselves wholly dead, in and through Jesus Christ our Lord, in that once he died perfectly unto sin, as a common person representing them. So as what yet is wanting in the work of mortification, in their sense and experience of it, they may supply by faith, from the consideration of Christ their head, even themselves to have died when he died. The apostle, I say, would have them by reason conclude or infer (for so the word λογίζεσθε signifies, as in Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude,” it is the same word) from Christ’s death, that they are dead; which conclusion cannot be made unless this be one of the propositions in this argument, that we died in Christ when he died. And so though in ourselves we are not yet wholly “dead to sin,” nor perfectly “alive to God,” yet “through Jesus Christ your Lord and Head” (says he), “reckon yourselves so,” “in that he died and now lives,” Romans 6:10, and you were included in him. And, indeed, this consideration the apostle suggests unto our faith, both as the greatest encouragement against imperfect mortification begun; that yet we may comfort ourselves by faith, as reckoning ourselves wholly dead in Christ’s death, and so may assure ourselves we shall one day be perfectly dead in ourselves by virtue of it. And further, as the strongest argument also and motive unto mortification, to endeavor to attain to the highest degree of it; which therefore he carries along in his discourse throughout that whole chapter. He would have them by faith or spiritual reasoning take in, and apprehend themselves long since dead to sin in Christ, when he died, and so should think it the greatest absurdity in the world to sin, even the least sin, we being dead long since, and that wholly, when Christ our head died: Romans 6:2, “and how shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” and, Romans 6:7, “he that is dead is free from sin;” and how then shall we do the least service to it?

Now all this he puts upon Christ’s dying, and our dying then with him in Romans 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him,” even when he was crucified, “that it might be destroyed” one day in us, fully and perfectly. Christ’s body representing therein as a public person, the elect, and their body of sin conjunct with them. So as thus by faith they are to reason themselves wholly dead to sin in Christ, and to use it as a reason and motive to stir up themselves not to yield to the least sin. I use this expression of being wholly dead, because if he had spoken merely of that imperfect mortification begun in us, the argument would not have been a perfect motive against the least sins. “We who are dead, how shall we live in sin,” or yield unto the least sin? For it might be said, alas! We are but imperfectly dead; and from an imperfect death could but an imperfect argument have been drawn. But the Scripture elsewhere tells us, that “Christ by his death has perfected forever all that are sanctified;” in Hebrews 10:14, so as in his death they may reckon themselves perfectly dead by faith, and perfectly sanctified, though yet the work be not actually and fully perfected.

And all this communion with Christ as a common person, representing them in his death, he there instructs them to be represented and sealed up to them by their baptism in Romans 6:3-4. How, I shall show afterwards.

(4.) Now as this place holds forth Christ as a common person in his death representing us, so other places hold forth the like of his resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:20, the apostle argues, that elect believers must and shall rise, because “now Christ is risen from the dead, and is become the first-fruits of them that sleep.” See the force of this argument founded upon this notion and consideration, that Christ was a common person representing all the rest; and this strongly presented in that expression of his being “the first-fruits,” in allusion to the rite in the Levitical law. All the sheaves in a field being unholy of themselves, there was some one sheaf in the name and room of all the rest (which was called the first-fruit), which was lifted up, and waved before the Lord; and so all the sheaves abroad in the field, by that act done to this one sheaf, were consecrated unto God in Leviticus 23:10, by virtue of that law. The meaning of which rite, the apostle expounding, alleges in Romans 11:16, “If the first-fruits be holy, all the lump is holy also.”

Thus, when we were all dead, Christ as the first-fruits rises, and this in our name and stead, and so we all rise with him and in him. And although the saints departed are not, in their own persons, as yet risen (as we all who are now alive are not in our own persons yet dead), yet in the meantime because thus they are risen in Christ, as their first-fruits, hence in the very words following he says, they are but asleep, “He is become the first-fruits of them that sleep,” because they remain alive in Christ their head, and shall rise one day, because in him they virtually are already risen. And this in God’s account in as true and just a sense as we, though personally alive, are yet all reckoned dead in Adam, because he as a common person, had the sentence of death pronounced on him, by virtue of which we must die; and this by the force of the same law, even of that which we have inculcated, of being a common person representing us. And indeed, so it follows (which argues this to be the apostle’s meaning) in 1 Corinthians 15:21, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” His argument lies thus: Adam was the first-fruits of them that died; Christ, of them that rise. Hence therefore, we are elsewhere said (though in respect to another life) to be “risen with Christ,” Ephesians 2:5-6, and which is yet more, “to sit together with him in heaven;” because he, as a common person representing us, sits there in our name and stead, as you shall hear when I come to it in the text in the next section.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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