In our last lesson, we covered chapter 4 where Paul used Abraham and David to prove that perfect law keeping doesnít make one justified, but having an obedient faith does because salvation can only be obtained from God. Every Christian today should be thankful that Jesus has made it possible for us to have salvation through Him. That is the point Paul finished on at the end of chapter 4, and he will continue talking about our wonderful Savior as we begin our lesson in chapter 5.
Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, †2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
These two verses alone give some great insight on how Paul could endure all that he went through for the cause of Christ. Every Christian who has obeyed the gospel has been justified, that is deemed righteous by their obedient faith. You will continue to see me use the phrase Ďobedient faithí because that is the principle the New Testament teaches repeatedly. It never teaches that we are justified by simply believing in God. Not only are we justified, we have peace with God thanks to Jesus.
When Paul would find himself in a bad situation, he could always rejoice because he knew whom he served. He understood that no matter what may happen to him as he labored in the kingdom, God was with Him and heaven would be his home. Every Christian should have the same peace of mind no matter what may be happening in our lives. If you are not experiencing the peace that comes from being a child of God, then your faith is not where it needs to be, and you need study more so you can really appreciate what God has done for you.
Another blessing we receive by being in Christ is that we have access to the grace of God. When Paul says, Ďwhich we stand,í that phrase means we should have complete confidence in Godís grace. His grace is what makes it possible for us to be saved. Without grace, Godís plan of salvation would mean nothing. Even after we become a Christian, it is by Godís grace that we continue to have our sins removed when we repent. This is why we can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
The hope being spoken of
here is not some blind hope or something we think might happen. I like William
Barclayís explanation of hope:
The Christian hope is not simply a trembling, hesitant hope that perhaps the promises of God may be true. It is the confident expectation that they cannot be anything else by true.†
The writer of Hebrews says
Hebrews 6:19 †This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast,
So, hope is the anchor of the soul, which shows that we should have no doubt in the hope God offers us through His Son, and we must never take for granted all the wonderful blessing we receive in Jesus.
Next Paul says:
Romans 5:3- And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; †4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Some have no problem rejoicing when things are going well for them, but Paul says we should glory in tribulations because when we face trouble in our lives and these bad things press in on us like a vice grip, we can learn to persevere, which means to endure. When we learn to trust in God in these bad times, it gives us character, which means that we have grown strong in the Lord because we have kept our trust in God. When we do this, it gives us hope because we can know that God will always be there with us and help us through these trying times. I know of no one more qualified in the New Testament than Paul who understand this.
Next, Paul writes:
Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Since hope is the anchor of our souls, we can
understand that hope will never disappoint us because the hope he speaks of is
that which comes from God. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles in
the beginning, and He would remind them of all that Jesus taught them and more.
The giving of the Holy Spirit and the entire New Testament certainly expresses
the love of God for all of us. Though miracles ceased in the first century, we
are told that we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38. The Holy
Spirit seals us, that is marks us as being Christians who belong to God (Eph.
1:13). We all have access to the sword of the Spirit, that is the Word of God,
which teaches us about Godís great love, and it should cause us to feel the
effects of that love in our hearts.
Our next few verses will show just how much God loves us.
Romans 5:6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. †7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. †8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. †9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. †10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. †11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Without Christ, we are nothing but feeble humans,
but God loved us so much, He gave us His only begotten Son who died for the
ungodly, which means everyone. Remember, this is exactly what Paul taught
earlier in our letter as he proved that all are under sin. We can see how much
God loved us because we didnít deserve Jesus or His sacrifice, yet Jesus died
for us all.
Paul emphasizes this point by saying how in rare cases, one may give his life for a righteous man or a good man, but how many would be willing to give their lives for Hitler or other notorious men from the past? Just think about giving your life for some of the worst people on this planet? You would be hard pressed to find anyone willing to do such a thing, but that is exactly what Jesus did. He died for everyone, whether they were good or bad. This is how great Godís love is for mankind because we were considered enemies of God, but Jesus has made it possible for us to be reconciled to God.
So, not only are justified through Jesus, He has
made it to where we are no longer enemies with God because we have been brought
back into favor with God, but the blessings found in Jesus donít stop there
because Jesus had done even more for us because we are saved through Him. He also
made it possible for us to continue to have our sins forgiven. As John wrote:
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. †8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. †9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
No wonder Paul says that we should rejoice in God through Jesus. When we are reminded of all that Jesus had done for us and the promises that come through Him, we should rejoice and even brag about what God has done because no man has ever done what God has done for us. So, we should never take how Jesus has reconciled us to God for granted.
The remainder of this chapter is a bit more challenging, and scholars differ on how to interpret the text because this is another instance where Paul doesnít give us as much detail as we would like. It is generally agreed that this is a very compressed argument in these last verses. Some, try and twist these verses to mean something it does not, while others just scratch their heads in confusion. I am not suggesting that I have all the answers, but I will give you my best explanation of the text. Overall, our text shows that Jesus has taken care of the problems that Adam introduced to mankind.
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned-- †13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. †14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
In these verses, Paul is pointing out how sin and death came into this world through Adam, but through Jesus and His death, we can have life and overcome sin and death. In verse 12, Paul starts a thought but doesnít finish it, but he will get back on track starting in verse 18.
When Paul says, ďthrough one man, sin entered the world, and death through sinĒ this referring to Adam. Paul knew full well that Eve was the first one to sin because she was the one who was deceived by the serpent, but there was an order of creation. Adam was created first, and he was also told not to eat of the forbidden tree before Eve was created (Gen. 2:15-17). Adam was the head of the family because there was an order of creation. Paul explains this order in two different places:
1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
1 Timothy 2:12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. †13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. †14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
In 1 Timothy, Paul was explaining why the men are to be leaders in the church, which had to do with the order of creation. Eve was deceived, but Adam was not. Adam sinned knowing what he was doing was wrong. He should not have eaten the fruit just because his wife did. Instead of being the leader, he became the follower. So, he sinned because he broke the only commandment God had given him, which also proves that some kind of law has always existed. Since Adam and Eve sinned, they were punished, kicked out of the Garden, and could no longer have access to the tree of life.
What kind of death did Adam bring into the world? Well, different people have different ideas, but it seems clear to me that he brought physical death, and it was also the beginning of spiritual death.
Physical death is the separation of the soul/spirit from the body (James 2:26). Spiritual death is when we become separated from God (Isa. 59:2; 1 Tim. 5:6). Adam and Eve found themselves out of fellowship with God because they sinned. Did you notice that it only took one sin to make this happen?
God told Adam, Genesis 2:17Ö for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Some, have a problem with this statement because they see it as meaning that as soon as Adam ate the fruit, he would physically die, but that is not what this has to mean, but it could.
First, it could simply mean that this will be the day that begins his death, and this is backed up by the fact that he would no longer have access to the tree of life. We know that Adam and Eve end up dying later, and every man and woman would physically die except for Enoch and Elijah.
Second, this could also include spiritual death that happened on that day because he sinned, which made him have spiritual death. Either way you look at it, Adamís spiritual death that day also brought forth the consequence of physical death. Though Adam and Eve had one restriction, they proved that man could never keep Godís commands perfectly, and every man since then has sinned, which is the very point Paul has been making in the previous chapters.
One false doctrine that some teach is that man is born with inherited sin, but we know that is not the case because Jesus said:
Matthew 19:14 "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
If we claim that a child is born in sin, then Jesus would have to be born a sinner because His mother was a human. Yet, the Bible tells us that Jesus had no sin (Heb. 4:15; 2 Cor. 5:21). If He was born in sin, He could not have been the perfect sacrifice. The only way we can have sin is when we break the law.
Ezekiel 18:20 "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
While we all have to face the consequences of what Adam and Eve did, we are not born guilty of their sins.† Letís look at verse 13 again, but this time from the ESV.
Romans 5:13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
Paul is just pointing out how sin was in the world
before the Law of Moses. However, if there was no law, there would be no sin,
but as we have already seen there has been a law in place since Adam and Eve, otherwise
they would not have been able to sin when they ate from the forbidden tree.
There are some groups today who teach we are not under law today, but that is not what the Bible teaches. We are under the new convent, which is also called Christís law (Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 9:21). If it were true that we are not under law today, then it would be impossible for us to sin, and all would be saved no matter what, which would make the many warnings against sin in the New Testament null and void.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
All Paul is saying is that death continued from Adam to Moses, and even though those people who lived during this time didnít sin in the same way as Adam, they still had face physical death.† In other words, they didnít have a choice in the matter when it came to death because Adamís sin is what brought that about. Paul is once again making the point that all under sin, but through Jesus, our Savior, we can overcome death.
There are several other people in the Bible we general call a type of Christ, but Adam is the only Old Testament person who is specifically called a type of Christ. There are lots of types and antitypes in the Bible. The type is that which is like the antitype. For example, a shadow would be the type, but the tree would be the antitype. So, Adam is the type and Jesus is the anti-type. Let me just show some of the similarities and difference between Adam and Jesus.
They both had a miraculous beginning on earth.
They were both named by God.
They were both perfect when put on the earth.
Both slept so their bride might live.
Adam sinned. Jesus never sinned.
Adam lost paradise for us. Jesus got it back for us.
Adam lost the tree of life. Jesus got it back for us.
Adam brought forth death, Jesus brought forth life.
Paul also contrasted Adam and Jesus in the following verses:
1 Corinthians 15:21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. †22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:45 †And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
1 Corinthians 15:47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. †48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. †49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
Basically, Paul is saying that Adam was the head of the human race that was doomed to death, but the last Adam, which is Christ, is the head of the spiritual family, which is the church, that will live forever in heaven. Paul continues to contrast Adam and Jesus.
Romans 5:15 †But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. †16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. †17 For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
In verse 15, Paul is saying that the grace of God that was given to man through Jesus far outweighs the evil that came through Adam. Adam introduced sin into the world, which also brought forth physical death for us all. Even as Christians, we will still face physical death, just as Jesus did, but like Jesus, we have the promise of eternal life. In other words, death is temporary because all our bodies will be raised and transformed into spiritual bodies that will further clothe our souls (1 Cor. 15, and 2 Cor. 5). The only ones who will escape physical death are those who are alive when Jesusí comes back (1 Cor. 15:51ff).
In verse 16, Paul points out how the gift of grace is not like the offense that came through Adam, which brought forth condemnation for man because God brought forth justification because Jesusí death on the cross made it possible for us to overcome the power of sin and death.
Paul continues in verse 17 to emphasize how much greater Godís grace is than the mess that Adam and every man after him has made, because we are considered righteous through Christ. This is not something that is done automatically, otherwise we would all be justified, but as Paul has pointed out in previous chapters, we have to have an obedient faith and obey Godís plan of salvation in order to receive the free gift of grace from God. We should all be very thankful that God has allowed us to have His grace because we certainly did not deserve it. Without His grace, none of us could be saved.
The chapter concludes with these final thoughts:
Romans 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. †19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. †20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, †21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Verse 18 continues Paulís thought from verse 12:
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinnedó
18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. †
Now this might be repetitive, but Paul wants them to understand that through one sin of Adam, all men were condemned. The only person who could make us right with God and keep us from facing condemnation was Jesus. He died for everyone and has made salvation and justification possible for everyone, but we must choose to embrace this wonderful gift of grace God has provided us. He would never force His grace on us because we have a free will. Paul continues:
19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. †
Once again, we see the difference between Adam and Jesus. Adam brought sin into the world, Jesus brought life. Finally, letís read the last few verses again:
20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, †21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
As Paul said earlier, without law, there would be no sin, but there has always been some form of law written or unwritten since the beginning of the human race. We have learned that no man has been able to keep the law perfectly except for Jesus. The Law proves to us that we can never be justified by keeping the Law alone because if we sin one time, we break the Law and become a sinner without hope.
However, with Jesus, we get to have the power of
Godís grace, which can overcome any sin. This is the reason we can obey the
gospel, which includes being baptized for the forgiveness of our sins no matter
how many there are. Even though we donít deserve to have our sins forgiven and
having just one chance to clear the slate would be more than fair, Godís grace
is the gift that keeps on giving because even if we sin after obeying Godís
plan of salvation, God allows us to be forgiven of future sins when we repent.
As John points out:
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. †8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. †9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. †10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Some will say that we donít understand grace, but I think that is a false statement. If anything, we probably donít appreciate grace as much as we should because itís everything. We need to understand that even if we obeyed Godís plan of salvation, if we didnít have His grace, we would still be lost because no one can be saved without Godís grace. However, the only way we can accept Godís gift of grace is through an obedient faith. If we choose not to obey Godís plan of salvation or we choose not to live according to His Words, then we are telling God we donít want His grace.
†I know that some twist what Godís grace is all about, but Paul is going to deal with this in the next chapter. So, I hope you have learned some great thoughts from this chapter and will join me next time as we examine chapter 6.