Chapter Five

Verses 1,2

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

    The main phrase is, "We have peace with God." Inasmuch as man has declared war against God by committing sin, being alienated from God because of sin, becoming estranged from God due to sin, man has a desperate need to be brought into a harmonious and favorable relationship with God. This is spiritual peace. This peace is possible only if a man is justified, cleansed, or forgiven of his sins which have caused the separation and alienation. Isaiah 59:1,2, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." It is a glorious thought to ponder that a sinful man may come to a spiritual peace with God. How does it come? The justification necessary was accomplished, and this is a marvel. But how was it accomplished? It was by the system of faith that God devised through Christ. By faith in Christ, the kind of faith that causes one to obey, we are justified, and therefore, enjoy this needed peace with God. It is all possible by the virtue and due to the merit of Jesus Christ.
    In addition, it is through this same Christ that man has access into a spiritual state or condition defined here as "this grace." "This grace" means that which the grace of God has produced, offers, and provides. It is the spiritual peace with God. How does one gain access into this grace? Again, the answer is "by faith," belief in Christ and His system of faith. Notice this belief does not by itself accomplish the entrance into this grace. This belief or faith gives "access" into this grace. It makes entrance possible. The same thought is presented in John 1:12 where the record says, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." Who were the ones who received him? They were the ones who believed on His name. What did they receive? Were they made sons by mere belief? No, but the "power to become" sons of God was given to them. Having the power to become something is not the same thing as actually becoming that something. Having access to something is not the same as having that something. Faith, in the sense of belief, gives "power to become." Faith gives "access." When this faith is coupled with obedience, then the desired result becomes a reality. Obviously, the Roman Christians had taken advantage of the "access" their faith had brought them for they were at that time sons of God. They had followed through in the plan God devised. That plan, "the faith," brought them into the blessings of God's grace.
    They now stood in that spiritual relationship called "grace." They would rejoice in the hope of the glory God would give the saved. The "glory of God" does not refer to God's personal glory, an attribute of God, but something God provides and gives to those who follow His scheme and system of redemption.

Verses 3-5

3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

      Further benefits of being in "this grace" are mentioned. Tribulations were and are an inescapable part of serving the Lord. Second Timothy 3:12, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." But as James teaches, the result of tribulation is not all bad (James 1:12). Peter teaches the same thing in First Peter 1:6,7. "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."
    Paul's admonition that they glory in tribulation certainly does not mean they were to be glad for the persecution itself. Who could ever be? But they were to be like the apostles in Acts 5:41, who rejoiced "that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." Here is the glory under consideration when he discusses "glory in tribulation." This tribulation produces something vital to serving God; namely, patience, stedfastness, and faithfulness. This in turn contributes to the development of another quality; experience, or more literally, a tried character. One who has been put to the test and passed the test is in far better condition to withstand what may come than the one who has yet to be put to the test. Having this tried character one could take hope and have reason for hope. This hope will not make one ashamed of the Lord and what is believed, even though the original tribulation was designed to make one ashamed. Nor would the Lord be ashamed of such a person. Compare the word "ashamed" as used here with the same sense of it in Second Timothy 2:15, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Remember in the first chapter Paul declared he was "not ashamed" of the gospel, and had suffered much tribulation. He had learned to be stedfast; was a tried character; had reason for hope.
    The love of God refers to the love God has for man, or more specifically, for the Christian. This love is revealed in the gospel, "the righteousness of God." It has been "shed abroad" in the Christian heart. It is the love God has for man that is "shed abroad." It is His love of which we are aware. We became aware of His love by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, through the revelation of God's scheme by which He will save mankind, makes us fully aware of the love God has for mankind.
    The Holy Spirit is given unto the Christian in the sense that the blessings we can and do have through the love of God revealed in His scheme are ours. Without the revelation given by the Holy Spirit, we would remain ignorant of God's love, and ignorant of the spiritual blessings we now enjoy as Christians. The Holy Spirit is given to us in that the "good things" declared by the Spirit are given to us. A similar teaching is found in two parallel verses, Matthew 7:11 and Luke 11:13. It is obvious that the Holy Spirit is given to the same extent that the "good things" are given. It is not that the Holy Spirit personally is given, but the blessings derived from the operation of the Holy Spirit. Such is the idea of Romans 5:5.
    It is worthy of suggestion (though not limited to just this) that the blessings specifically mentioned in verses three and four are what Paul had in mind. Certainly none could argue against the fact that the blessings mentioned here result from the operation of the Holy Spirit as He operates through the Word that reveals God's love.

Verses 6-8

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    The word "for" points back to that which has just been discussed, and now we can expect an elaboration of it. That which has been discussed is the love God has for man. Paul denotes more precisely the manifestation of that love. We were without strength, that is, weak in faith, the same word used in Romans 4:19 when Paul described what Abraham was not. When we were hopeless, indifferent, and wayward from doing what was correct in God's sight, and when God saw the time was right or fulfilled, Christ died for the ungodly. As for God determining the proper time for all things regarding Christ, consider Galatians 4:4. "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law."
    The "ungodly" refers to sinful man, including the ones just described as "without strength." We have to take note that it was God who acted on behalf of man. He was the One who instigated what was to be done and when it was to be done. The who is God. The what was the death of Christ. The when was when God saw fit for all these things to be accomplished.
    Such a magnanimous deed as that done by Christ is emphasized in verse seven and eight by contrasting what Christ did against what normally might be expected. For "scarcely," with difficulty, one might die for a just man. Such would surely be a tremendous sacrifice, but one might see some reasonableness for taking the place in death for an innocent man. The innocent did not deserve to die. One might, with the greatest kind of nobility, die in the stead of such a just person. For such a good man someone might "dare to die," or bring himself to do so. Even this would be with the greatest difficulty.
    But what Jesus did was far more than that. As extraordinary as one man dying for another even when the cause seemed worthy, it is more extraordinary what Christ did. He died for those who deserved to suffer death for themselves. The ones for whom He died earned their condemnation. Their sins condemned them. They should have paid for it. But He took their place. This is the place of all of us "for all have sinned." While man was in condemnation and justly so, He came forward and died. Here is the demonstration of the love God has for man of which Paul has been writing, and which is revealed in the revelation of the gospel as given by and through the Holy Spirit. This is an essential part, indeed, the very heart, of the plan God had by which He would make man righteous.

Verse 9

9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

    Verse nine is the only logical conclusion to be drawn from what has been written. We are justified by the blood of Christ. We are saved from the wrath of the just God of heaven against sin because of the mercy of the same God. Christ and the plan built and based upon Him is that by and through which we can be counted for what we otherwise could never be counted; namely, righteous.
    Notice in verse one of this chapter where Paul said we are justified "by faith." Verse nine says we are justified "by his blood." There are not two justifications. Our faith is in His blood. Our faith is in God and the plan He devised that called for the blood of His Son in our stead. In mentioning faith and blood, Paul was referring to two of the many essential ingredients that have gone into the gospel scheme of salvation, "the righteousness of God," the gospel.
    Notice also that from which one is saved is wrath. Paul had spoken of wrath against both the Gentile (1:32), and the Jew (2:5), and had been very plain that both stood in condemnation (3:9,23). Now he mentions again that both can be saved from wrath and reveals how.

Verses 10-11

10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

    The term "if" is not used in order to convey some doubt that we were enemies or that there is any doubt that the Christian is reconciled. The term is more properly understood in the sense of "since." "Since" we were enemies and "since" we were reconciled by the death of Christ, now having been reconciled, there is another ingredient in God's scheme for man's salvation; namely, the life of Christ. This infers His resurrection and reaches back to include the perfect life He lived on earth as an example for us to follow. Most probably, however, having mentioned His death, and following the sequence of events, the main thrust has to do with His resurrection. Without the resurrection there would be no gospel, no demonstration of power over death, no climatic proclamation and declaration that He is the Son of God (1:4). The resurrection is an indispensable fact in providing for man's salvation (First Corinthians 15).
    Not only that, "and not only so," we have blessings here and now. Our blessings for abiding in this grace are not limited nor confined to eternity. God has provided for us a way of joy in this life. We can live happier knowing we are going to our home with God. This joy that we have "in God" has been made possible through Christ. He was the One through whom we have received God's gift of being forgiven. This repeats the teaching of Chapter three, verse twenty-five. Christ is our atonement.
    The passage speaks of being "reconciled," carrying the same thought forward from verse one of this chapter when Paul said, "We have peace." This peace is accomplished by a reconciliation being made. Ephesians two speaks more on this theme of reconciliation and we suggest a study there.

Verses 12-19

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have 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 them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

    Beginning here and continuing through several verses is a comparison, or better yet, a contrast between Adam and Christ, and the results of the actions of Adam and Christ. By one man, Adam, sin entered the world. The result of sin was death, spiritual as well as physical, but more importantly, spiritual (6:23; James 1:14,15). This result of Adam's sin "passed upon all men." The meaning of this phrase is of great importance and consequence.
    The idea of the word "passed" shows that which took place was of such significance that none could escape its power. There has not lived a person since sin entered the world that has escaped certain results of Adam's sin.
    We must keep before us that guilt of sin is one of the consequences of sinning, but not the only one. There are other consequences as well. Did the guilt of sin pass upon all men because of Adam's sin? Or does this refer to other consequences of Adam's sin that "passed" upon all men? In other words, are you and I guilty of Adam's sin?
    The answer is found in the definition of sin the Holy Spirit gives in First John three, verse four. Sin is transgression. Not until one does transgress the law of God does he become guilty of anything. The preposition "for" of verse twelve is to be understood as "because" or "inasmuch as".
    Certain results of sin have passed upon everybody. But why have they passed upon everybody? Some things have passed upon everybody unconditionally. For instance, due to the sin of Adam we all die physically. Because the first couple was driven from the Garden of Eden and from the tree of life, we all must die physically. But this has nothing whatever to do with our personal sins. Nonetheless, we physically die. Even the infant, who does no sin, dies. This is a result of Adam's sin and what sin introduced into the world. But remember, Paul is discussing spiritual death primarily. Spiritual death has "passed upon all men," but why? It is not because we are guilty of Adam's sin, "for that all have sinned." Spiritual death came into the world through the sin of Adam. Spiritual death was suffered by Adam the day he sinned (Genesis 2:17). Spiritual death is suffered by everybody who sins, but because of his own sins and not because of Adam's sin. Adam's sin introduced sin unto men, but each one must partake of sin for himself before he is counted guilty of sin. This is either true or First John three and verse four contradicts this passage, which is untenable. Many other people, other than the one who commits sin, may suffer certain consequences of a person's sins, but not the consequence of guilt. But one suffers the guilt when he himself sins.
    Verses thirteen through seventeen seem to be an inspired explanation of the main theme being presented in the contrast of Adam and Christ and the results of their actions. The main theme continues at verse eighteen and nineteen which informs us how by the offense (sin) of Adam, judgment (condemnation) came upon all men (because all men partake of sin.) But righteousness (making man a righteous being or at least counting him so) came by Christ. The system or plan to make man righteous came through the One (Christ) as a gift from God, and justifies man, granting him life instead of death. One man's disobedience introduced sin into the world, and all have partaken of it and became sinners. But the obedience of One (Christ) makes the many sinners righteous by introducing life through justification. This is a gift, but the gift must be received. It is received by our obedience. It was provided by the obedience of Christ. Christ was obedient even to the death He suffered on the cross (Hebrews 5:8; Philippians 2:8). What a contrast! By one (Adam) came death, but by the other (Christ) came life. By one (Adam) came condemnation, but by the other (Christ) came justification.
    If you and I are guilty of Adam's sin, unconditionally, then we are justified by Christ, unconditionally. This would mean universal salvation with nobody being lost. But this would not be in harmony with Scriptural revelation. Nothing is made clearer in the Bible than the fact that some will be saved but some will be lost.
    Consider the detailed contrast given in verses thirteen through seventeen. First, Paul notes that until law, sin was in the world. In other words if there had been no law there would not and could not have been any sin because sin is a transgression of law. Since there was sin, there was law in the world. This is reaffirmed in verse fourteen when Paul states that death reigned from Adam to Moses. Death is the result of sin. Even though the law of Moses did not come until Moses, there was law, sin, and death. Sin reflects the existence of law (First Corinthians 15:56). Those who lived during the period from Adam to Moses had a law as we have already noted in previous chapters. Therefore, those that lived during that time sinned, but not just like Adam did, although they sinned nonetheless. They violated law given by God. They sinned, not to the equality and identity as did Adam, but they sinned and death reigned.
    Observe this comment about Adam, "who is the figure of him that was to come." Adam was a type of Christ. Indeed, the entire portion of verses thirteen through seventeen presents this typical nature of Adam to Christ. Adam, in somewhat a reverse order, did against mankind what Christ did for mankind. What Adam took away, Christ brought back. We are not to think the offense of Adam is either exactly like or simply the counterpart of the work of Christ. The "free gift" may refer to Christ since He was given. But I think the "free gift" refers to the justification received (verse eighteen). But let it be stressed that the offense and the blessing are not merely off-setting forces. Paul explains that the offense brought death, but much more came by the grace of God. The gift which comes through Christ and the justification He brought hath abounded unto many. The gift is more than the offense. Such is the meaning of the phrase, "But not as the offense, so also is the free gift." The offense and the free gift are not exact opposites because the gift abounds "much more."
    Furthermore, the sin of Adam, the offense, condemned him. But the gift of Christ justifies all who sin and come to Him for forgiveness. The gift was not limited to the sin of Adam. Many offenses, not just Adam's sin, are covered by justification.
    The difference between "grace" and the "offense" is that grace is more abundant than the offense, well able to cover any and all offenses. Notice the phrase in verses fifteen, seventeen, and twenty, "much more," " much more," "much more."
    Death reigned because sin entered the world and man sinned, but the "abundance of grace" and the "gift of righteousness" enables life to reign "much more." In other words, the lack of similarity of the offense and the gift is seen in the power of each one. The offense had deadly power, but the power of the gift was and is greater, even to the removing of the deadly result of the offense.
    An additional and repetitive comment is needful. Some believe we are born into the world guilty of sin unconditionally because of Adam's sin, and without any action of sin on our part personally. If that be true (which I do not accept for a moment), we still have no fear of spiritual death due to any alleged guilt we would have because of Adam's sin. What one lost unconditionally in Adam, he gains unconditionally in Christ. So even if we are guilty of Adam's sin (which we are not), we are relieved of that guilt in Christ just as unconditionally as we are supposed to have become guilty.
    We are not guilty of Adam's sin. The reason is simply because the guilt of sin was not passed to all by Adam, even though through him sin entered the world. Nor are we the receiver of life simply because Christ through His sacrifice brought life into the world. We are what we are on the basis of what we do regarding the will of the Lord for ourselves, including meeting the conditions of salvation in the gospel. Plainly, we are guilty of our own transgressions. Even so, we may well suffer consequences of other's sins, but not guilt. We are condemned spiritually on the condition that we sin, and are justified on the condition we come to Christ and follow His plan of justification. To be guilty of Adam's sin would mean we must have sinned just like Adam did, which Paul said those from Adam to Moses did not do. If they did not, we do not, either.

Verses 20,21

20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Paul defines the relationship of law and sin. Law defines sin; law exposes sin; law tells just how sinful sin is; law makes sin sinful. This is true regardless of which divine law you have under consideration. But where sin abounds, grace abounds more. When sin condemns; grace justifies. Where sin brings death and havoc; grace brings peace and joy. We are privileged to enjoy life, eternal life, through the grace of God manifested through Christ because grace is greater, more powerful and more abundant than is sin. There is no sin that grace cannot cover. This very emphasis of the greatness of God's grace over sin provokes Paul to enter the discussion, guided by the Holy Spirit, in chapter six. It is a discussion similar to what he had just completed in 3:5-8.

Back to Table of Contents