Ephesians 5:2

We are bound to love one another.

I. THIS WAS THE GREAT DUTY OF THE LAW. "All the Law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' (Galatians 5:14). "The end of the commandment is love" (1 Timothy 1:5). All our duty to our neighbor is summed up in love. Love supplies the motive-power to all right relations with our fellow-men.

II. THIS WAS THE NEW COMMANDMENT OF CHRIST, "A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another" (John 13:34). The love thus newly enjoined has certain important characteristics.

1. It must be the love of deeds, not words. "Let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18).

2. It must be ardent. "Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves" (1 Peter 4:7, 8).

3. It must be self-sacrificing. "We ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16).

4. It ought to be a love well guided and controlled. "This I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all judgment" (Philippians 1:9).

5. It ought to be a constant love like that of Christ. "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end" (John 13:1).

6. It ought to be a decisive test as to our condition in God's sight. "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him" (1 John 2:10). "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14).

7. It must be a love recommended by the highest examples. "God is love." "If God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." We are to "walk in love, as Christ also loved us." "Let the same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). - T.C.

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God.
I. I gather out of these words something CALCULATED TO TOUCH THE HEART.

1. There are many of our fellow creatures who have found but little love from man. To them this would have been a cold, cheerless place. To them the love of God, revealed in the gospel, comes as a strange and startling thing. It transforms life when thoroughly realized and embraced.

2. There are others who have known the value of human affection, and have lost it. A dark cloud has settled down upon their once happy homes and hearts. The gospel announces that all they have lost, and far more, they may find again in Christ. When anyone shall not only hear it, but grasp it — not only understand it, but try it — then life will wear a new aspect, and under the influence of Christ the whole soul expands.

II. I find here something to SATISFY THE CONSCIENCE. What should we do in the presence of our sins, if we had no such truth as this to trust to?

III. I find here something to REGULATE LIFE.

1. Walk in love as in an atmosphere of bright sunshine, bathing your soul in a consciousness of God's love for you. It is your privilege, let it be your joy.

2. Walk in love as an apparel. It is a beautiful sight to see a man clothed with humility. It is a cheering sight when you look at a servant of Jesus in the armour of light, and a worshipper of God in the garments of salvation. It is a glorious sight when you see a holy man putting on zeal for a cloak. But above all these things put on charity or love, for it is the bond of perfectness. In this world of sorrow the Christian should be conspicuous for love. It was the prominent feature in Christ; it should be prominent in Christ's followers.

3. Walk in love, as the appointed path in which God would have His children found. The walk of love will lead you into ways which you never once thought to find. It often turns aside from the more crowded thoroughfares of life, and runs through scenes where sorrow and shame have crept out of sight to weep and endeavour to forget. But there are some of the keenest experiences of human joy to be found in this lowly path. To stand, e.g., in the presence of despair, and watch how hope begins again to brighten a brother's eye; to whisper some holy truth in the ear of grief, and then receive the rich reward of a smile of thankfulness; to put the cup of cold water to the parched lip, and then listen to the gurgle of a new joy as some poor sufferer drinks down what refreshes soul and body both — oh, this comes only in the lanes and the by walks of the path of love. Sometimes the path descends into the darker regions of trial and temptation, when the believer himself needs sympathy; and I know nothing more sweet, nothing more soothing, than in such an hour of one's own sorrow to experience the sympathy which Christ shows in the tenderness of His insight into all our need, and to feel that the world is better than we thought it to be when some brother man comes in the warmth of his own regenerated heart and testifies that all is not cold, all is not barren. But sometimes the walk of love rises among the upland scenery of grace and godliness, and then, when we climb from height to height of God's great mystery of redemption, as we look down and back upon all the way in which goodness and mercy have followed us all the days of our life, as we look around on the vastness and variety and beauty and blessedness for which our Father has given us an eye and a heart, and as we look above into that cloudland overhead and up to those greater worlds of glory which enable us to think what the universe must be and what the great Governor of that universe can do, why then the walk of love rises into a sublimity which a man can feel but cannot describe, and the climax upon earth is reached, and beyond it nothing further can go till this winged soul of ours shall have broken the silver cord that tied it to the body, and found the expansion of her wing feathers causing her to sear away into the presence of God, where are fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore. It is a great bright world that is yet known to few. Some have landed upon its shore — a great continent of joy. They know but the fringe of flower and fruit which the search of a few short days has found. But go through the length and breadth of the land, wander among its hills and valleys, drink of the deep fountains of love, swim over its inner seas, and you will never again return to the haunts of sin and the ways of shame, for the love of the higher and the purer and the more perfect will swallow up every meaner passion, and absorb every fainter light, and the passion, the privilege, the prerogative, the pleasure of the sinner saved by grace, is to walk in love.

(John Richardson.)

The doctrine is that Christ showed so much love in giving Himself for a propitiatory sacrifice to God for us, that thereby all true Christians are bound to walk in love.


1. With the principle — "Christ also loved us." That was it which moved and inclined Him to so strange an undertaking as to die for our sins.

2. The act — "He gave Himself for us." Where you have the giver, the gift, and the parties interested.(1) The Giver, Christ. He voluntarily first assumed a body. and then parted with His life for this use.(2) The Gift was Himself. And both put together show that Christ was both Priest and Sacrifice; as God the Priest, as man the sacrifice: "He offered up Himself to God through the eternal Spirit " (Hebrews 9:14).(3) The parties interested — "for us."

II. THE NATURE OF THE DUTY THENCE INFERRED, or what it is to "walk in love." To walk in love signifieth not one act or two, but the perpetual tenor of our lives; our whole life should be an exercise of love. But what love doth He mean? Either love to God and Christ, or love to men? I answer — I cannot exclude the former totally, for these reasons.

1. Love to men is of little worth unless it flow from love to God.

2. Because it is a genuine product of this great love of Christ to us: "We love Him because He loved us first" (1 John 4:19). To God Himself; we beat back His own beam and flame upon Himself first, and then to all that belong to Him.

3. Because not only the direct improvement of the love of Christ, but so much of the Christian life dependeth on the love of God, that it should not be excluded when we are discoursing of it (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15). The sense of this love should work in us certainly a great fervour of love to God, that may level and direct all our actions to His glory, and make us study to please Him. Well, then, if we take it in this sense, how are we to walk in love?I answer —

1. That love is to be at the bottom of all our actions and duties, that our whole religion may be but an acting of love, "Let all your things be done with charity" (1 Corinthians 16:14). If we pray, let us act the seeking love; if we praise God, let us act the delighting love; if we obey God, let us act the pleasing love.

2. Let us walk in love, all will be nothing else; but let us continue constant to the death in the profession of the Christian faith; for vehement pure Christian love casteth out all fear in danger. If we love Christ, we will run all hazards for His sake.

III. I come now to show you how WE ARE BOUND TO DO SO BY THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST'S LOVE. And here I shall show you that it is both a motive and a pattern.

1. It is a motive to excite us to love Him, because the great thing that is remarkable in Christ's giving Himself as a sacrifice for us is love. You may conceive it by these considerations.(1) To suffer for another is more than to do or act for him, for therein is more self-denial.(2) To suffer death for another is the greatest obligation that we can put upon him (John 15:13).(3) This is the highest expression of love to friends, but Christ did it for enemies, for the ungodly sinful world (Romans 5:7, 8).(4) To suffer for the faults of another is the greatest condescension.(5) Because this is not fit to be done among mankind, that the innocent should suffer capital punishment for the guilty. This was the wonderful act of God's grace to find such a strange and unusual sacrifice for us.(6) That He should suffer to such ends, or that the consequent benefits should be so great, as the remission of sins and eternal life.(7) That, with respect to the end, God and Christ took such pleasure in it (Isaiah 53:10).

2. It is a pattern which we should imitate.(1) In the reality of it (1 John 3:18).(2) In the freeness of it. He was not induced to it by any overture from us, but by His own love only (Ephesians 5:25).(3) In the constancy of it. He was not discouraged when it came to push of pike (John 13:1).(4) In the self-denial and condescension of it (Matthew 20:28). But because we cannot pursue all, two things I shall commend to you from this love of Christ.

(a)The kind of the love; it was a love of souls.

(b)The greatness and degree of this love. We must be ready to lay down our lives for the Church of God.Use

1. This love of Christ must be firmly believed.

2. It must be closely applied for our good and benefit, till we are duly affected with it, so as to make suitable returns to God; partly by devoting ourselves to Him (Romans 12:1), and partly by rendering our thank offerings of charity towards others (Hebrews 13:17).

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. "Loving our neighbour" doth imply that we should value and esteem him: this is necessary, for affection doth follow opinion; that is not amiable, which is wholly contemptible; or so far as it is such.

II. Loving our neighbour doth imply a sincere and earnest desire of his welfare, and good of all kinds, in due proportion: for it is a property of love, that it would have its object most worthy of itself, and consequently that it should attain the best state whereof it is capable, and persist firm therein; to be fair and plump, to flourish and thrive without diminution or decay; this is plain to experience in respect to any other thing (a horse, a flower, a building, or any such thing) which we pretend to love: wherefore charity should dispose us to be thus affected to our neighbour. We should wish him prosperous success in all his designs, and a comfortable satisfaction of his desires; we should wish him with alacrity of mind to reap the fruits of his industry; and to enjoy the best accommodation of his life.

III. Charity doth imply a complacence or delightful satisfaction in the good of our neighbour; this is consequent on the former property, for that joy naturally doth result from events agreeable to our desire. Charity hath a good eye, which is not offended or dazzled with the lustre of its neighbour's virtue, or with the splendour of his fortune, but vieweth either of them steadily with pleasure, as a very delightful spectacle.

IV. Correspondently, love of our neighbour doth imply condolency and commiseration of the evils befalling him: for what we love, we cannot without displeasure behold lying in a bad condition, sinking into decay, or in danger to perish; so, to a charitable mind, the bad state of any man is a most unpleasant and painful sight. Is any man fallen into disgrace? charity doth hold down its head, is abashed and out of countenance, partaking of his shame; is any man disappointed of his hopes or endeavours? charity crieth out alas, as if it were itself defeated; is any man afflicted with pain or sickness? charity looketh sadly, it sigheth and groaneth, it fainteth and languisheth with him; is any man pinched with hard want? charity, if it cannot succour, it will condole; doth ill news arrive? charity doth hear it with an unwilling ear and a sad heart, although not particularly concerned in it. The sight of a wreck at sea, of a field spread with carcasses, of a country desolated, of houses burnt and cities ruined, and of the like calamities incident to mankind, would touch the bowels of any man; but the very report of them would affect the heart of charity. It doth not suffer a man with comfort or ease to enjoy the accommodations of his own state, while others before him are in distress; it cannot be merry while any man in presence is sorrowful; it cannot seem happy while its neighbour doth appear miserable: it hath a share in all the afflictions which it doth behold or hear of, according to that instance in St. Paul of the Philippians: "Ye have done well, that ye did communicate with (or partake in) my afflictions"; and according to that precept, "Remember those which are in bonds, as bound with them."

V. It is generally a property of love to appropriate its object; in apprehension and affection embracing it, possessing it, enjoying it as its own; so charity doth make our neighbour to be ours, engaging us to tender his case and his concerns as our own; so that we shall exercise about them the same affections of soul (the same desires, the same hopes and fears, the same joys and sorrows), as about our own nearest and most peculiar interest. So charity doth enlarge our minds beyond private considerations, conferring on them an universal interest, and reducing all the world within the verge of their affectionate care; so that a man's self is a very small and inconsiderable portion of his regard.

VI. It is a property of love to affect union, or the greatest approximation that can be to its object.

VII. It is a property of love to desire a reciprocal affection; for that is the surest possession and firmest union which is grounded on voluntarily conspiring in affection; and if we do value any person, we cannot but prize his goodwill and esteem. Charity is the mother of friendship, not only as inclining us to love others, but as attracting others to love us; disposing us to affect their amity, and by obliging means to procure it.

VIII. Hence also charity disposeth to please our neighbour, not only by inoffensive but by obliging demeanour; by a ready complacence and compliance with his fashion, with his humour, with his desire in matters lawful, or in a way consistent with duty and discretion.

IX. Love of our neighbour doth imply readiness on all occasions to do him good, to promote and advance his benefit in all kinds.

X. This indeed is a property of charity, to make a man deny himself, to neglect his own interest, yea to despise all selfish regards for the benefit of his neighbour. To him that is inspired with charity, his own good is not good, when it standeth in competition with the more considerable good of another; nothing is so dear to him, which he gladly will not part with on such considerations.

XI. It is a property of love not to stand on distinctions and nice respects; but to be condescensive, and willing to perform the meanest offices, needful or useful for the good of its friend. He that truly loveth is a voluntary servant, and gladly will stoop to any employment for which the need or considerable benefit of him whom he loveth doth call. So the greatest souls, and the most glorious beings, the which are most endued with charity, by it are disposed with greatest readiness to serve their inferiors.

XII. Charity doth regulate our dealing, our deportment, our conversation toward our neighbour, implying good usage and fair treatment of him on all occasions; for no man doth handle that which he loveth rudely or roughly, so as to endanger the loss, the detriment, the hurt or offence thereof. Wherefore the language of charity is soft and sweet, not wounding the heart, nor grating on the ear of any with whom a man converseth; like the language of which the wise man saith, "The words of the pure are pleasant words"; such as are "sweet to the soul, and health to the bones"; and, "The words of a wise man are gracious." Such are the properties of charity. There be also farther many particular acts, which have a very close alliance to it.

1. It is a proper act of charity to forbear anger on provocation, or to repress its motions; to resent injuries and discourtesies either not at all, or very calmly and mildly.

2. It is a proper act of charity to remit offences, suppressing all designs of revenge, and not retaining any grudge.

3. It is a duty coherent with charity, to maintain concord and peace; to abstain from contention and strife, together with the sources of them, pride, envy, emulation, malice.

4. Another charitable practice is, being candid in opinion, and mild in censure, about our neighbour and his actions.

5. Another charitable practice is, to comport with the infirmities of our neighbour; according to that rule of St. Paul, "We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves"; and that precept, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."

6. It is an act of charity to abstain from offending, or scandalizing our brethren.

(I. Barrow, D. D.)

But how doth it appear that Christ loves us?

1. By amorous expressions. Read His love songs and see how affectionately He sets out the beauty of His beloved (Song of Solomon 4:1, 3, etc.).

2. By His thoughts. Thoughts and affections are mutual causes one of another. Thoughts give life to affection, and affection begets thoughts. Christ's thoughts of us are many and high. He had thoughts of love to us from eternity, and we were never one moment out of His mind since then (Isaiah 49:15).

3. But this flame, where it is, cannot be confined to the breast and thoughts, but will break forth into action. And so does the love of Christ appear to us, by what He has done for us. He has made us rich, fair, honourable, potent, yea, one with Himself.

4. The love of Christ appears by what He has given us; His love tokens. Whatever we have, for being or well-being, spring from His love. Take a survey of heaven and earth, and all things therein; and whatever upon sure grounds appears good, ask it confidently of Christ; His love will not deny it. But we are not yet come to the height of Christ's love. These unspeakable, inconceivable, unsearchable favours are but streams or drops of love; Christ has given us the fountain, the ocean: these are but sparks and beams; He has given us the sun, the element of love. The love of Christ gives us interest in the glorious Trinity. And now, what is there in heaven and earth that the love of Christ has not made ours?

5. Take an estimate of the love of Christ from His sufferings. Consider how and what He suffers by us, with us, for us.

(1)His love makes Him patiently suffer many things by us.

(2)This love makes Him willing to suffer with us. "In all our afflictions He is afflicted."

(3)His love made Him willing to suffer for us.But further, to set out this love of Christ, consider some properties by which the Spirit describes it.

1. Christ loves us freely. He loved us when we had neither love nor beauty to attract His affections.

2. It is unchangeable (John 13:1). No act of unkindness or disloyalty of ours can nonplus it.

3. It is an incomprehensible love (Ephesians 3:19).

1. Consider whom he loves. How unfit, unworthy, unlovely.(1) How impotent! Man can do nothing to engage or deserve love, nothing to please or honour such a lover; and was so considered when Christ had intentions of love, therefore it is admirable.(2) How poor! No such poverty as man's.(3) How deformed! Poverty alone cannot hinder love, especially if there be beauty; but who can love deformity?(4) How hated! Not only hateful, but hated; hated of all. Who would love him whom none loves, who has no friends, who can meet with none in the world but enemies? The whole creation is at enmity with man. He cannot meet any creature, but harbours a secret hatred, and would be ready to manifest it at God's command. What a wonder that Christ will love that which all hate!(5) What enmity! Man is not only hateful and hated, but a hater of Christ, with such a hatred as would exclude all love from the breast of any creature; a hatred so extensive, that he hates Christ and all that is His, all that is like Him; all His offices, especially that which is most glorious, His royal office; keeps Christ out of His throne as to himself, and would do it in others.(6) How pre-engaged to his deadly enemies, sin and Satan. Who will love one for a wife who is contracted to another, given her heart and self into his possession, and has long continued so? Such is a man's state, married to sin, in league with Satan, and brings forth fruit, not unto God, but unto them. Here is the wonder of Christ's love, that it does fix upon the worst of creatures, man, yea, and upon the worst of men in some respects.(7) How powerful. "All power is given to Him in heaven and earth" (Matthew 28:18), that as Mediator; but as God, He is coequal with His Father, and so omnipotent.(8) How absolute. The sovereignty of Christ makes His love a wonder.

2. How Christ loves man.(1) Christ loves men more than the best of men love one another.(2) Christ loves man more than man loves himself. The love of Christ is more than self-love in man; therefore it is wonderful.(3) Christ loves man more than He loves the angels, in divers respects. It is evident in that distinction His love has made betwixt both fallen by sin. Not one of the fallen angels have, or ever shall taste of His love; but innumerable companies of men are restored to His favour.(4) Christ loves man more than heaven and earth, more than the kingdom of heaven, more than all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of both, more than the whole world.(5) Christ loves man as Himself, in some respects more. Christ loves man more than Himself, as man. I do not say Christ as God, or absolutely; but as man, and in some respects. He advances them to the like state with himself, so far as man is capable. He bestows upon them all things that Himself hath, so far as they are communicable. The same natures. He consists of Divine and human, and so does man in some sense. That Christ might be like them, He took human nature; that they might be like Him, He communicates the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Not that it is altogether the same, but that it most resembles it. Did not Christ get much glory by the work of redemption? Was not this the most glorious administration that ever the world was witness of? Yes. Yet the glory the Son of God got hereby was an inconsiderable advantage to Him, compared with the benefits thereby purchased for man. The Son of God had lost nothing if He had wanted this; this did not add any degree of glory to that which He enjoyed from eternity. He was infinitely glorious before the foundation of the world, and nothing can be added to that which is infinite.

(D. Clarkson, B. D.)

1. He gave. Gifts are expressions of love. We judge of love by the quality or value of the gift. Now, what did Christ give?

2. He gave Himself, nothing less than Himself; and that is more, incomparably more, than if He had given all the angels in heaven, all the treasures on earth for us; more than if He had given all the works of His hands. The small dust of the balance is as nothing to the universe, and the universe is as nothing compared with the Son of God.

3. How did He give Himself? He did not give Himself as we are wont to give, nor did He give Himself as He gives other things. He gave Himself, not in the common way of giving; but, as the text shows, His giving was an offering of Himself. "He gave Himself an offering for us." But then —

4. How did He give Himself as an offering for us? There are several sorts of offerings mentioned in Scripture. Offerings that were not sacrifices. Such were the persons and things which were devoted or dedicated unto God for the service of the tabernacle and of the temple. Thus the vessels and utensils given up and set apart for the service and ministration under the law are called offerings (Numbers 7:10), and those offerings are specified (ver. 13, etc.). Silver chargers, bowls, and spoons; and not only things, but persons are called offerings when set apart; for thus the legal ministry (Numbers 10:10, 11, 13). The other sort of offerings were sacrifices, such as were offered so as to be consumed and destroyed, and to be deprived of life, if they were things that had life. So that there is a great difference betwixt these offerings: the former were offered so as to be preserved, the latter were offered so as to be killed or consumed. For that is the true notion of a sacrifice; it is an offering daily consumed. And such an offering was Christ, such an offering as was a sacrifice, as the text shows. He gave Himself to be sacrificed for us. "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter." Christ offered Himself a sacrifice of expiation for His people.To give you distinctly the evidence which the Scripture affords for this great and fundamental truth, take it in these severals.

1. "He offered Himself" (Hebrews 7:27); "He offered up Himself" (Hebrews 9:14, 28).

2. "He offered Himself a sacrifice" (1 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 9:26).(1) The person offering was to be a priest; it was the peculiar office of the priest under the law (Hebrews 5:1). So Christ, that He might offer this sacrifice, was called to that office, and made a high priest (vers. 5, 6, 10).(2) The things offered were to beef God's appointment, otherwise it had been not a true and acceptable sacrifice, but will-worship.(3) That which was offered for a sacrifice was to be destroyed. This is essential to a sacrifice; it is an offering daily consumed. Those things that had life, that they might be offered as sacrifices, they were killed, and their blood poured out; and the other parts of them, besides the blood, were burned, either wholly or in part. Thus was Christ sacrificed; His dying and bleeding on the cross answered the killing and bloodshed of the Levitical sacrifices, and His sufferings were correspondent to the burnings of the sacrifices (Hebrews 13:12, 13); His sufferings without the gate are held forth here as answering the burning of the sacrifices without the camp.(4) The person to whom they were offered was God, and Him only.

3. He offered Himself a sacrifice of expiation.(1) He suffered. He was a man of sorrows and sufferings; His whole life was a state of humiliation, and His humiliation was a continued suffering. But near and in His death He was made perfect through sufferings; there was the extremity of His sufferings, there He became a perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 2:9, 10; Hebrews 5:9).(2) What He suffered was penal; it was that which sin deserved, and the law threatened.(3) Thirdly, He suffered this in our stead.(4) The sacrifice pacified, appeased, the Lord, made atonement, turned away His anger.

(D. Clarkson, B. D.)

I. Christ's sacrifice was VOLUNTARY. There was no external compulsion brought to bear upon Christ which He could not have successfully resisted; but with an entire concurrence of His will, He gave Himself up.

II. Christ's sacrifice was VICARIOUS. It was in the room and place of others — of us all. His sufferings, though voluntary, were, in this sense, necessary to accomplish the end He had in view.

III. Christ's sacrifice was of INFINITE VALVE AND SUFFICIENCY. He gave Himself.

IV. The sacrificial dedication of Christ for man was PERFECTLY PLEASING TO THE FATHER.

(Dr. Drummond.)

Let us consider —

I. THE INTERPOSITION OF CHRIST ON BEHALF OF HIS PEOPLE: "He hath given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God."

1. He is represented as our Priest. The offering of sacrifices, unquestionably had its origin in the earliest ages of the world. This mode of worship may be traced back, not only to the era of giving the law from Sinai, but to the days of the ancient patriarchs. Its Divine origin is not less evident than its antiquity. We read, indeed, of the practice, before we read of the precept enjoining it; but from the former, we may fairly infer the latter. Since, then, the offering of sacrifices was enjoined by the Supreme Lawgiver, and was practised in the Church from the beginning, for what end was it appointed? What could move. the eternal Majesty to require that sacrificial oblation should, for so many ages, form an essential part of His worship? My brethren, ye know the sublime explanation! Ye know that it was to prefigure the offering up, in the fulness of time, by Jesus Christ.

2. Christ is also represented as the sacrifice of His people. Let us, then, contemplate this stupendous sacrifice. In it we behold a sacrifice at once perfectly suitable, and infinitely valuable. Christ, I say, in giving Himself, gave a sacrifice that was perfectly suitable. Being independent, His life was entirely at His own disposal; being a partaker of flesh and blood, He was allied to His people, and was thus qualified to make satisfaction in the same nature that had offended; and, being at the same time supernaturally conceived and born of the Virgin, He was exempt from the penalty which Divine justice had attached to the violation of the first covenant, and immaculately pure — and was thus altogether fitted for being a true and proper sacrifice in the room of His people. But the sacrifice which Christ gave was not only perfectly suitable, it was also infinitely valuable; for, mark the force of that wonderful expression, "He gave Himself." It was not simply His blood, or His life, or abstractly His human nature, but Himself that He gave an offering and a sacrifice for us. We now proceed to consider —

II. THE SATISFACTION AND DELIGHT WITH WHICH THIS INTERPOSITION OF CHRIST ON BEHALF OF HIS PEOPLE IS REGARDED BY GOD. His sacrifice is to Him "for a sweet-smelling savour." In this expression the allusion is clearly to the wine and oil, or rather, to the precious perfumes that were wont to be sprinkled on the sacrifices under the law, in order to counteract the offensive savour of that bloody service. The apostle represents the fragrance of such sweet perfumes as arising to God from the propitiatory sacrifice of His beloved Son, to intimate the supreme satisfaction and pleasure which He has in that sacrifice. When the magnificent work of creation was finished, Jehovah is represented as resting from all His work which He had made, and surveying it with delight. But from no part of creation, even although retaining its original purity and loveliness, does there arise so sweet and grateful a fragrance to Him as from the altar of the Saviour's sacrifice. If you inquire on what grounds that sacrifice is so peculiarly and supremely delightful to God, the following considerations may serve to illustrate the subject: It is a sacrifice of God's own appointment; it is in itself a sacrifice of transcendent worth and efficacy; and it is in consequence of these things the means of eternal salvation and happiness to countless thousands of His immortal creatures, and the source of glory to Himself in the highest.

(W. Duncan.)



1. It is evident from these words that we had incurred some penalty which we must have endured personally, had not the love of Christ induced Him to interpose on our behalf.

2. But the text intimates that Jesus Christ did interpose on our behalf, and "hath given Himself for us."

3. Our text intimates that it was the person of Christ which rendered His sacrifice efficacious, and that because "He gave Himself for us." His substitution was acceptable to God, and available to the salvation of man.

4. The text intimates that this offering and sacrifice was acceptable to the Father to whom it was presented, for it is said to be "a sweet smelling savour" to Him.


1. Let us walk in love to Christ.

2. Let us walk in love to Christians.

3. Let us walk in love to all mankind.

(J. Alexander.)


1. Consider the dignity of His Person.

2. Look at the purity of His sacrifice. Look at the faith that never gave way; look at the patience that never was exhausted; look at the courage that never flinched; look at the love that never wasted; look at the zeal for God that was always on fire; look at the tenderness for poor, perishing, lost and ruined sinners.

3. Look we at the work itself — look we at those for whom He was all this.

II. But observe THE MANY PROOFS THAT HAVE BEEN GIVEN AND ARE STILL GIVEN, THAT THIS SACRIFICE IS "A SWEET-SMELLING SAVOUR " BEFORE GOD. Four thousand years before that sacrifice was offered, there came forth the first promise in all its fragrancy. Whence that cry of victory — "It is finished"? Why was it the stone was rolled away? why did the body ascend? why did the Conqueror go up? why did the Spirit descend? why was it, on the Day of Pentecost, that the timid became brave, that blasphemers stood forth as real penitents before God? Why was all this? Because the sacrifice went up as a "sweet-smelling savour," and a descending Spirit was the mark of God's infinite and eternal approval of it. But, beloved, perhaps now the savour of it has passed away. More than 1,800 years have passed away since it was offered. Kingdoms have risen and fallen since then. But the fragrancy of that offering has in no sense passed away. It has not lost one iota of its acceptance before a holy God. But, beloved, there is one point more in reference to this sweet savour — it will cast its fragrancy throughout eternity. It fills heaven with its odour.


1. In the first place, if all this be true, then how awful is that man's state, that can hear of this atonement and find fragrancy in everything else except that one thing that is fragrant before God! The things that God hates he can delight in.

2. Let me give one word of tender caution to those whose conscience has been awakened by the blessed Spirit to feel a real concern for salvation. If they go to other sacrifices, they have still to seek sweetness elsewhere.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

I. THE DESIGN OF THE SAVIOUR'S INTERPOSITION. "He gave Himself a sacrifice for us." He had given us many things before. He had given us the sun to cheer us, the air to brace us, the rain to refresh us, and made the earth to bring forth and to bud; and at last He gave us Himself. He gave Himself for us long before His incarnation; and "when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that are under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."

II. THE ACCEPTABLENESS OF THE SACRIFICE. "An offering and sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savour." Go back to the time of the flood. Here we are informed that "Noah builded an altar unto the Lord," and offered sacrifices; "and the Lord smelled a sweet savour: and the Lord said, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake." So God delighted in the sacrifice of His Son, and said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." You may be reconciled to a servant, and you may admit him to a place in your house; still it may not be easy to admit him to a place in your affections. But we never can be so dear to God as when clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and sprinkled with His precious blood.

III. THE PRINCIPLES THAT ACTUATED HIM. "He loved us, and gave Himself for us." That which cannot be known perfectly may be known preeminently.

1. His love is magnified in His gift.

2. It is magnified in the greatness of His sufferings.

3. It is magnified because He was acquainted with every part of His sufferings before He engaged to suffer.

4. It magnifies His love because we were unworthy of its exercise.

5. It magnifies His love because He did not wait to be asked. He did this not only without our desert, but without our desire.

6. It magnifies His love by the number of blessings to be derived from it.


1. What is enjoined? "Walk in love." Strive to excel in it. We read of men walking in pride. He is lofty; he swaggers as he walks; he answers those beneath him roughly. Pride is his region; it is the air in which he breathes. So is it with love: you are not only to walk in love, but to live in it.

2. For whom is this enjoined? It is to be exercised towards Himself.

3. To whom is this enjoined? "Walk in love." It was to the Ephesians. But are you blameless here?

4. How is it enjoined? "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us."(1) As the model of our love. Thus our love must resemble His. And are you to exercise no self-denial? His love was a constant love; is yours to be changeable and varying?(2) But the apostle means that we should make the love of Christ the motive as well as the model of ours. "We love Him, because He first loved us." By this motive be led to present your bodies "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."

(W. Jay.)

As God is incomprehensible in His eternity, His power, His immensity, His knowledge, and His wisdom; so is He in His love.

1. The first thing which strikes us as wonderful in this love of God is, that it should have sinners as its objects.

2. Another thing which is incomprehensible in the love of Christ to sinners is, that among men, all of whom were equally lost and helpless, it should select a certain number as its objects and leave all the rest under condemnation and depravity, as they were before.

3. A third characteristic of the love of Christ is its degree of intensity, which is unparalleled.

4. As this love did not originate in time, but, from eternity, the delights of the Son were with the children of men; so it will never have an end.

5. The love of Christ to His people is manifested by the revelation which He has made for their instruction; by all the institutions of His Church for their edification; and by all the dispensations of His providence, whether afflictive or prosperous. But, especially, the love of Christ toward His chosen people is evinced by the gift of His Spirit, the Comforter, to abide with them forever.

6. Finally, the love of Christ to His disciples is tender, condescending love. He deals with them as a mother with a child; carries tern in His bosom, and gently leads them in the right way.

(A. Alexander, D. D.)

His love was antecedent to His shedding His blood, and our being washed in it. Love renders any work delightful.


1. The Father's appointing Him to be a sacrifice, doth not impair His own willingness in undertaking. The Father is said to send Him and deliver Him (John 3:34; Romans 8:32). The Father is said to deliver Him, because the first motion of redemption is supposed to arise from the will and motion of the Father; yet the love of Christ was the spring of all mediatory actions, and His taking our nature on Him; and therefore He is no less said to give Himself, than the Father is said to give Him to us and for us. His engagement was an act of choice, liberty, and affection.

2. The necessity of His death impeacheth not the voluntariness of it. Many things are voluntary which yet are necessary; there are voluntary necessities. God is necessarily yet voluntarily holy.


1. He willingly offered Himself in the first counsel about redemption to stand in our stead.

2. The whole course of His life manifests this willingness. His will stood right to this point of the compass all His life. Many enter the lists with difficulties out of ignorance, but the willingness of our Saviour cannot be ascribed either to ignorance or forgetfulness.


1. On the part of the sacrifice itself. He was above any obligation to that work He so freely undertook for us. Nor could He be overruled to anything against His own consent.

2. Necessary on the part of justice.

3. Necessary in regard of acceptation. Christ's consent was as necessary as God's order. In vain had we hoped for the benefit of a forced redemption.


1. The way of redemption by a sacrifice was necessary.

2. The death of Christ for us was most just on the part of God. Christ did willingly submit to, God might justly charge upon Him as a due debt.

3. How wonderful was the love of Christ!

4. How willingly then should we part with our sins for Christ, and do our duty to Him!

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

I. CHRIST GIVING HIMSELF FOR US, IS THE UTMOST WHICH HE COULD DEVOTE TO OUR SERVICE AND TO OUR USE. He does employ, for the use and service of those who trust in Him, all things. He hath all things under His feet, all things that are in heaven and on earth. If Christ see that an angel can serve one of His disciples, He gives some angel a commission to serve that disciple. Here is a case of self being given. Not the purse only; not the hand merely, or the eye, or the ear, in an occasional service; but the whole being. And, in this sense, Christ gives to His disciples Himself. In giving Himself for us, Christ gives us all that pertains to His original nature; the Divine qualities of His nature as the manifested God; His knowledge, His wisdom, His power; all that is involved in His goodness, and He gives the qualities of His woman-born nature, as the Word made flesh. For example, His sympathy. 'Moreover, in giving Himself for us, Christ gives us all that pertains to His position as Lord of all.

II. But, brethren, He gave Himself FOR A SPECIAL PURPOSE — "an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour." He gave Himself for us — what to be? If we only wanted teaching, He would have given Himself as a teacher. If we only wanted leading, He would have given Himself to us as a leader. But a starving man wants something more than instruction about food, or information about digestion, or instruction as to the laws of life and death; and a criminal who is under a capital sentence wants something more than discussions about rewards and punishments, or about human governments and human laws; and if anything is to be done for sinning man, you must do something more than present to him a teacher. If you are sick, you do not send for your medical attendant to give you, at the side of your sick bed, a lecture on anatomy or physiology. You want the medical man to do something for you as well as to say something to you. And Christ gave Himself, not to be my teacher, or nay leader chiefly, but, in the first instance, He offered Himself to be a sacrifice.

III. Now, "herein is love"; not self-love, BUT OUTLOVING LOVE; not the love that is shut up within a man, as wafer in a sealed fountain, but the love that flows forth from a being as water from an open spring. "Herein is love"; not complacent love, the love of delight in another because that being is delightsome, but benevolent love. "Herein is love"; not merited love; but undeserved love. "Herein is love"; not expected love, but surprising love. "Herein is love"; not love of friendship, but mercy, and compassion, and pity. "Herein is love"; not ordinary love, but unequalled love, love to which there is no parallel, and to which there never can be. Brethren, there are just two things more I want to say to you.

1. This love of Christ is our refuge. The heart of Christ is the refuge we need.

2. The love of Christ is our refuge, but this love is also our pattern. We are to love as Jesus loved. I do not wonder at people saying this is impossible. It does seem impossible, and it would be utterly impossible, if we were required to attain to such love at once, but we are to grow into it. If you were unacquainted with the oak, and a full-grown tree were pointed out to you, and if you were then shown an acorn, and were told that out of that little thing would spring forth the monarch of the forest, you would not believe the statement, or you would say, if this happen it certainly will be a miracle,

(S. Martin, D. D.)





(R. Ferguson, LL. D.)

The sacrifice of Christ was acceptable to God and efficacious for men.


1. God was not absolutely bound to accept it for us. He might have rejected every sacrifice but that of the offender.

2. As the acceptation of it depended upon the will of the Lawgiver and Rector, so the acceptableness of it depended upon the will of the Redeemer. The merit of His death depended not upon His mere dying, or upon the penal part in that death, but upon His willing obedience in it, in conjunction with the dignity of His person; without this, He might have breathed out His soul without being a victim.


1. God took pleasure in the designment and expectation of it.

2. The highest perfections of God's nature had a peculiar glory from this sacrifice. All His perfections, not discovered before to the sons of men, are glorified punctually according to His intentions and resolves for their discovery. Not a tittle of His nature which was to be made known to the sons of men, but is unveiled in this sacrifice to their view in a greater glory than the creatures were able to exhibit Him.

3. Compare this sacrifice with the evil for which He was sacrificed, and which had invaded the rights of God, and the sweet savour of it will appear, as also the efficacy of it.

4. It is so acceptable to God, that it is sufficient sacrifice for all, if all would accept of it, and by a fixed faith plead it.

5. The effects of this sacrifice show the acceptableness of it to God. As the effect of Adam's disobedience demonstrates the blackness and strength of his sin, so the fruit of this sacrifice evidenceth the efficacy of it.What was it that rendered this sacrifice acceptable to God, and efficacious for us?

1. The dignity of His person.

2. As the dignity of the person, so the purity of the sacrifice renders it fragrant to God, and efficacious for us.

3. The graces exercised in this sacrifice rendered it fragrant in the account of God.(1) His obedience.(2) His humility (Philippians 2:8).(3) His faith. This resolution of trust He brought with Him, and this resolution He kept — "I will put my trust in Him" (Hebrews 2:13), cited out of Psalm 18:2.(4) In regard of the full compensation made to God by this sacrifice, and the equivalency of it to all the demands of God. His obedience was fully answerable to the law: His active answered the perceptive part, and His passive the penalty.(5) In regard of the glory Christ by His sacrifice brought to God. The glory of God was that which He aimed at, and that which He perfected. Needs must that be fragrant to God that accomplished the triumph of all His attributes.


1. If this sacrifice be acceptable to God, it is then a perfect oblation.

2. All popish doctrines of satisfaction, and all resting upon our own righteousness and inherent graces, are to be abandoned.

3. It is a desperate thing to refuse this sacrifice, which is so sweet to God.(1) It is a great sin.(2) It will end into a great misery.

4. It administers matter of comfort to the believer. It is a comfort to a diseased hospital that a physician is chosen and accepted by the governors that is able to cure every disease; it is no less a comfort to a guilty soul that there is a sacrifice sufficient to expiate every sin.(1) If once acceptable to God, then it is forever acceptable; if once sweet, it is always sweet. God cannot be deceived in His estimations, nor change His value of it, nor can the sacrifice ever become noisome.(2) From this ariseth pardon of sin.(3) Hence, then, there can be no condemnation to them that are in Christ.(4) Here is a sufficient ground for peace of conscience. This only can give a repose to our spirits, turn our fears into hopes, and our sorrows into songs.(5) Here is a full ground of expectation of all necessary blessings. Let those that believe, continually apply and plead it.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

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