Romans 5:1-21 a short commentary
Peace and Hope
Last time in Chapter 4 Paul clearly demonstrated that we are justified by faith and not by the outward sign of circumcision (as a token of obedience to the Law). Paul provided a time line that clearly showed that Abraham was justified by believing God several years before he himself was circumcised. Paul then quoted from Psalm 32 showing that David had made a link between the forgiveness of sins and being made righteous. After David’s sins of adultery and murder in the ‘Bathsheba-Gate’ scandal we see that he greatly rejoiced that his sins were forgiven and so can we also rejoice today that our sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ. But salvation is much more than the forgiveness of our sins and includes many other things including eternal life. We then saw that Abraham is truly the father of all who believe God and are credited as righteous both then and now. This is how God fulfilled His promise to Abraham that through him all the nations would be blessed i.e. Abraham set the example of how get into right standing with God by simply believing what He says. Abraham did not stagger at God’s promises though they were not supported by his five senses but rather was fully persuaded that what God had promised he would surely deliver. So should we, like our Father Abraham remember to keep believing, to keep being fully persuaded to keep our dreams and destinies alive in faith knowing that God will keep His promises.
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we [a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we [b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we [c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
When someone believes in Jesus Christ as part of their new right standing with God they become at peace with God which then helps them to receive the peace of God (which passes all understanding). We were formerly at war with God and because of this were objects of His wrath but now we are reconciled to Him His peace is in our hearts. This wonderful salvation package is a free gift from God to a totally undeserving mankind. We should notice that faith, hope and love are found together in these verses. The process found here is something like this, when we have faith, then this produces hope which in turn allows God to pour His love into our hearts. This should produce cycles of blessing in us and through to our fellow man. Please note that biblical hope in the context of whether something might happen or not is an absolute certainty not just a possibility. Biblical hope will not disappoint us, because ‘it is moored to the throne of grace’ it is anchored within the veil where our great High Priest ever lives to make intercession for us. When the trials and sufferings come in our lives often revealing our weaknesses then we can take great heart that the Holy Spirit is pouring His love into our hearts providing the strength not only to get through the trial but actually makes us stronger characters as well. This character thus produced in turn increases our hope in God and increases our certainty in His promises. This increasing hope recycles to increasing faith and so the cycle goes on and is driven by the love poured into our hearts. The Proven character of His servants is very valuable to God as it makes us of greater service to Him.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
These verses are right up there with 1 Corinthians 13 in trying to explain the Love of God.
At the exact time appointed by God Himself whilst we were spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins Jesus Christ gave His very life for mankind who were absolutely without any hope or means of salvation. What kind of love is this that gives it very life for utterly sinful people devoid of any good, cringing beggars spiritually speaking and under the sentence of the wrath of God? Perhaps the very best human beings might just be willing to give their lives for a ‘good’ person but Jesus Christ gave His life for the evil, the very evil and the completely fallen mankind just like you and I used to be. He took our death sentence in our place. This wonderful ‘agape’ love of God is as one bible teacher has said, is ‘causeless, measureless and ceaseless'. [i]
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
The offering of Jesus’ blood as the ‘sacrificial lamb’ of God not only purchased us legal right standing before God but also turned away the deserved wrath of God on sinful mankind including you and I. Furthermore Jesus’ blood also brought us into a personal blood covenant relationship with the Living God. God has befriended His enemies by providing reconciliation of sinful man to the Holy God. Today with Paul we can boast that God has reconciled us as His former enemies to become friends of the Living God.
Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
Sin entered mankind into our first ancestor Adam and all our DNA to some extent is descendant from him because we were ‘in him’. It seems that our ‘ sin nature’ comes via our natural father but is expressed in both sexes. If this is not the case how then could Jesus born of a woman be ‘sinless’?
Paul uses verses 12-17 to bring a discourse on the universality of sin.
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
Sin entered into Adam in the Garden of Eden when he wilfully disobeyed God. As all men inherit that same sin nature from our first father Adam so the death principle also passes to all mankind. The wages of sin is death and the seed of death having been passed to all human beings is ready to kick in as we start to practice sin. It is not clear exactly which sins the people who lived and died between Adam and Moses (a period of around 2500 years)but my guess it would be the same ones that mankind commonly practices e.g. lying , stealing , cheating etc. Note that death reigned like a king! The law that Adam broke was specifically disobeying the voice of God and so sin existed long before the giving of the Mosaic Law. The one thing that Adam has in common with Jesus Christ is that their actions affected or potentially affected all mankind. Through Adam all men will die but through Jesus Christ all men (who believe) can have eternal life.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
In startling contrast we see that the one terrible deed of Adam which brought the curse of death on mankind is completely cancelled out by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This free pardon from the power of sin overflows as God’s free gift to all who will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. This terrible link between sin and death has broken through faith in Jesus Christ. ‘Death reigned’ means that death condemned all men as sinners and had the last word in a human life , death was the ‘boss’ of us. But when we call upon the Lord Jesus Christ we are under new management and He becomes our new boss and leads us into everlasting life.
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Paul returns to his theme in verse 12 now showing that the effects of the disobedience of one man Adam are overcome by the obedience of one man Jesus Christ. This is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15:21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a human being.
God gave the Mosaic Law not to increase sin numerically speaking but rather to ‘magnify’ its visibility and hence to make it and its effects more clearly seen . So using the law was like shining a light on sin making it more easy to see. As well as making sin more of a ‘stand out’ the law also shows mankind that they were (and still are) unable to keep the law. This then makes mankind much more aware of the grace of God when we see that we are unable to keep His laws and that God has done for us through Jesus Christ what we could never do for ourselves. This wonderful salvation is still available to all those who call upon the name of the Lord. So where sin increases God steps up His grace that it might still be available to all who call upon His name.
In summary, the Law;
1. Increases the knowledge and awareness of sin.
2. Directs the sinner’s attention towards the need for God’s grace
3. Guides the forgiven sinner into gratitude towards God.
4. Acts as a restraint on sinful actions.
5:21 Sin as the ‘boss’ of fallen man has the last word by bringing death to all sinners. When Jesus Christ died on the cross for sinners He became the new ‘boss’ of believers and showed who was really in charge. Until Jesus Christ sin brought spiritual and physical death and eventually eternal death. God’s grace in the person of Jesus Christ met sin in a head on clash and completely defeated it praise God. The person who believes in Jesus Christ is declared righteous by God and he/she begins their eternal life from that exact moment though most of us may still experience physical death. This wonderful salvation however was achieved at huge cost when the holy, sinless Lamb of God gave His very life blood (all of it) on the cross at Calvary. We can tell the people of your city, town, or village about this marvellous love and the grace of God that is stronger than death which is just as effective for them today and we can introduce them to our new ‘boss’ Jesus Christ. How rightly do we sing of the amazing grace of God. Let’s spread the Good News.
Romans 5:1 Many manuscripts let us
Romans 5:2 or let us
Romans 5:3 or let us
 William Hendriksen New Testament Commentary on Romans.
[i] Ken Boa Studies in Romans Chapter 5.
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