Modern Bible Commentary On Romans 5

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 

The Apostle Paul has spent the previous chapters carefully arguing in favor of justification by faith. While the former Pharisee makes it clear our justification is not by the works of the law but by faith—he also upholds the law and values it’s eternal significance. From this point forward, Paul will inform believers the practical benefits of justification by faith.

First, it’s important to understand the legal definition of justification. It refers to the “action of showing something to be right or reasonable.” In theology, this term is used to declare or make someone righteous in the sight of God. Thus, when a person accepts the gospel of reconciliation by faith, they will be declared righteous. Romans 10:9 summarizes this important concept:

“If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.”

When a believer is justified by faith, the first benefit of this decision is the receiving of peace through the power of the Holy Spirit. This means that there is no longer war or enmity between God and the individual. Colossians 1:20 reaffirms this truth: “Having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

Also, Paul addresses this concept of peace with God by faith in Ephesians 2:15: “By abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.” Thus, Scripture makes it clear that our faith makes peace with God.

This peace is also correlated with grace. Grace is undeserved mercy that God gave to believers in exchange for faith. I believe this pardoning contributes to the “peace” Christians now receive—since there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ.

Moreover, Paul uses the word stand, which in the Greek ἐστήκαμεν means “standing firm.” Therefore, believers can have confidence that their peace and grace are secured by faith. And this truth causes us to boast, not in our own achievements or abilities, but solely in the glory of God.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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.

In the original translation, Paul used the Greek word καυχώμεθα for glory. This doesn’t mean believers delight in suffering. Rather, Paul is illustrating to his readers that we should rejoice or exult God in our sufferings. Then he mentions that suffering produces perseverance—perseverance produces character, and character results in stronger hope. This comment parallels with James 1:2, where the Lord’s brother said: “Consider it pure joy, brothers, when you go through sufferings because the testing of your faith will result in perseverance.”

I am sure the Gentile believers are experiencing much persecution in the same way Paul was. As an apostle and leader, he is trying to encourage, implore, and motivate them to stay strong in the faith. He tells them that hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out through the Holy Spirit.

Imagine being persecuted by Roman pagans and soldiers who have the authority to put you in prison. They are telling you to bow down to their gods and stop worshipping this Jesus of Nazareth. I might hypothesize that these believers were being put to shame and being ridiculed for their testimony of faith.

However, Paul’s goal was to bring to remembrance the hope and love they have in God through this epistle. To remember the day of Pentecost, when God poured out His Holy Spirit in the midst of great trials (Acts 2). This is the type of shepherding heart pastors must have in order to strengthen like-minded believers when the world is mocking them.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

What a monumental passage. First, God’s word proves that the Messiah was God’s plan from the very beginning. This was the right time, the exact time, the proper (καιρὸν) time for Jesus to enter the world. Isaiah 53 and many other passages predict the suffering servant who would be bruised for the transgressions of the world.

Here, Paul shows the redeemed were powerless. Those who have been saved, justified, and sanctified rely completely on the power of God through the atonement at Calvary 2,000 years ago. Amazingly, Jesus died for the ungodly. When the people were yelling crucify him, he said back: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

This unconditional love is not possible in humanity. This love is beyond our sinful nature; it is the type of love that only God can bestow because He is perfect in His nature. As stated, it’s even rare for a good person to die for a righteous man, let alone a wicked person. But God demonstrates His steadfast love. While we were still sinners, Christ died for the whole world (κόσμον).

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.

While Paul has mentioned justification by faith, here he transitions into being justified by the blood of Christ. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” Therefore, our life literally is found in the sacrifice of Christ. This is a powerful reminder to us that God truly sent His Son to die on our behalf. When we put our faith in this pure, unadulterated atonement—the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, we will be saved.

Just think about God’s wrath for a moment. Jesus was the propitiator of our sins. He had to take the full weight of God’s fury. Why? Because God still has to uphold his justice, and his justice demands penalty for sin. All of us should be broken and humbled by what Jesus did for us. It’s beyond remarkable. It’s truly the only act that deserves all our praise and worship for eternity.

The apostle continues to comfort the believer with the assurance they have in Christ. For instance, He says that if God reconciled us when we were his enemies, how much more will the saints be reconciled as friends? For Jesus told his disciples in John 15:14, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

When Paul mentions reconciliation he uses the word καταλλαγέντες which is an aorist participle, denoting not time of action nor as an existing result, but as a simple fact. It is a matter of fact that those who trust in Jesus by faith have been reconciled to the Father. This should give us assurance and hope that nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39).

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.

Here, Paul talks about original sin. All of us received the inheritance of sin from the fall of man in the garden of Eden. Some theologians argue we are born with a propensity toward sin others argue that we were born with the sin nature intact. Whatever position you take, the end result is the same: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Therefore, reconciliation is necessary through the atonement of Christ for one to be justified and fully made righteous.

As you can see, death is a result of sin and inevitable for every human until Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead. Regardless, God promised that those who put their faith and trust in Him will be raised to newness of life. Philippians 3:21 states that in heaven Christ will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. The perishable will take on the imperishable. This promise of eternal life is the hope we have in Christ.

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.

This statement indicates that sin was in the world before the law was even given. Even though sin is not charged against anyone where there is no law, we were all still infected by it as a result of Adam’s transgressions. In other words, the law was too late to prevent sin and death and it is not able to save us from sin and death. Only the righteousness of Christ can do that.

Moreover, this passage proves that humanity was under sin before the law was given. As Scripture teaches that His invisible attributes are clearly seen in nature. The law is written on our hearts. Because we are created in the image of God, we intuitively know right from wrong. The law only confirms this truth.

Paul here presents Adam as a type or representation of Jesus. While both of them were sinless from the beginning, they chose different paths. Adam chose to rebel against God and allowed sin to enter into the world. Jesus chose to perfectly obey God and allowed sin to be eradicated when he became our representative on the cross.

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!

Here, Paul spends a large portion of this section focusing on how much more God’s grace overcomes the trespass that occurred with Adam. In other words, even though judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation to the whole world, the gift of God’s Son brought justification to many.

It’s fair to say that good triumphed over evil here. Did sin enter the world? Yes. Did sin corrupt mankind? Yes. Is this the end of the story? Absolutely not! While the serpent bruised the heel of the woman, Jesus crushed the head of the serpent at Calvary. Satan’s plan was thwarted from the brilliance of God. Love conquered hate. Grace conquered evil. God is victorious and will reign indefinitely.

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 continues to build his case concerning the triumph of God’s grace. Here, the Greek word for trespass is παραπτώματος—which means a trespass or offense by all. This trespass did result in condemnation. For the world stands guilty before God. However, the one righteous act from Jesus resulted in justification and life for all people. When God sent His Son Jesus in time and space to die in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, this completely shifted the tone from condemnation to justification.

While disobedience through Adam resulted in a world full of sin, the obedience of Jesus will be able to make all who trust in him righteous again. It truly is unfortunate that people refuse to accept the free gift of eternal life. I don’t think the unbeliever understands the significance of the relentless love God demonstrated by His Son.

It’s sad that people will perish simply by refusing to accept this gift. They would rather hold on to their sin than give it up and conform to Jesus. Let’s continue to pray like Jesus: “Not willing that any perish, but all come to repentance.”

20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul concludes this chapter with stating how the law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. What exactly does he mean here? Galatians 3:19 gives a more detailed explanation: “Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.”

In other words, the law was brought in to make it clear that humanity broke God’s law. Because of our transgressions, it became evident we needed something to save us from the demands of the law. Then the law pointed us to the seed, the messiah—who would take away our sins.

Where sin increased, God increased more. The law showed we broke it. The law clearly condemned us. But the law was good because it pointed us to grace. Grace increased all the more to assure us that salvation is found, not by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.

Commentary written by Chad A. Damitz (M.Div)

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