Notice how the last word in Rom. 4:25 ("justification") connects with the first verse of chapter 5 ("having been justified"--literal translation from Greek). The word "therefore" points back to what has come before. So far in the book of Romans Paul has shown us . . .
Chapter five begins a new section. Paul is now going to tell us about some of the BENEFITS of justification (Romans 5:1-11). Justification is Godís free gift (Rom.5:18) and it comes in a package which is received by the believer at the moment of salvation. In Romans chapter 5 Paul wants us to open up this package and see some of the benefits and blessings that are in it! Here are just a few examples . . .
Romans 5:1 -- We have peace with God.
Romans 5:2 -- We have access and a standing in grace.
Romans 5:11 -- We have received reconciliation ("atonement" is not a good translation).
Because of all of these blessings and benefits, there is cause for much confident rejoicing: Romans 5:2 -- "we rejoice"; Romans 5:3 -- "we glory"; Romans 5:11 -- "we joy". Actually the same Greek verb is used in all three of these verses (though translated three different ways by the KJV). The verb means "to exult, to boast, to rejoice proudly." How proud we ought to be of Godís rich blessings that belong to us by His grace! We glory and boast in a great God!
There are some who speak of the need to receive "the second blessing" or "a second work of grace." They are referring to a post-salvation experience (usually speaking in tongues which they refer to as "the baptism of the Spirit"). The following points address this:
If we have Christ and all spiritual blessings in Him, then what do we lack?
The real problem is not that believers lack a second blessing experience. The real problem is that believers often fail to realize how blessed they are in Christ. They fail to claim their riches and they fail to possess their possessions. Those who are children of the King need to stop living like paupers.
It is interesting that Paul does not present the benefits of salvation until chapter 5 of Romans. Paul presented the gospel (Romans 1-4) on the basis of NEED not on the basis of BENEFITS. The unsaved must know why they NEED a Saviour. Once they see their desperate need and come to the Saviour in faith, then they will begin to understand all the benefits that accompany salvation (Romans 5). Very often the gospel is made as attractive as possible by showing the unsaved person all the wonderful benefits that will be his if he trusts Christ: "If you trust the Lord you will have peace with God!" The problem with this is that he does not see why he needs to have peace with God. He must first be shown from the Scriptures that in his sinful condition he is an enemy of God, fighting against God in rebellion and that Godís wrath is revealed from heaven against him (see Rom.1:18; 5:10; etc.). See a full discussion about the importance of presenting the gospel on the basis of need and not benefit in Chapter 1 of these notes.
"Being justified" = "having been justified." Justification is not something that is going on now; it is something that happened the moment you were saved.
Because you have been justified by faith, you now have peace with God. Peace with God is something that every believer has! The hostility that once existed between me and God is now gone forever! The war is over! Iím at peace with my Creator and I have full acceptance with Him. My acceptance has nothing to do with who I am or what I have done. It has everything to do with Who Jesus Christ is and what He has done (compare Eph.1:6-7). God is well pleased with His beloved Son (Matt. 3:17) and God is well pleased with me because I am in His beloved Son (Eph.1:6--"accepted" means "highly favored"). Sadly, most believers to not take God at His Word when it comes to acceptance. When all is going well and God seems to be blessing, then they feel that He loves and accepts them. But when they are stumbling, and everything seems difficult and hard, then they feel He does not love and accept them. How can this be? There is nothing about us to commend us to God. Our acceptance is in Christ Jesus and not in ourselves. God has accepted us in His Son by grace alone, and upon this fact we must base our faith.
May I never forget the enmity that once existed between me and God. Carefully consider the following sobering verses:
|Romans 1:18 (Godís wrath was against me);
Romans 2:2 (Godís judgment was against me);
Psalm 5:5 (God hated me);
Psalm 7:11 (God was angry with me every day);
Proverbs 15:8 (even the good and religious things which I tried to do were totally unacceptable to God);
Romans 8:8 (there is nothing that the unsaved person can do to please God).
Yes, I was Godís ENEMY (Romans 5:10) by my wicked works (Col. 1:21). There is no peace to the wicked (Isaiah 48:22; 57:20-21).
Peace with God was made possible in only one way -- THROUGH THE CROSS (see Col.1:20-21 and Eph.2:13-18).
How thankful I should be that the God Who was once AGAINST ME (Romans 1:18; 2:2) is NOT AGAINST ME any more (Romans 8:31). He is FOR ME! (cf. Psalm 118:6).
PEACE WITH GOD is the blessed possession of every believer. The PEACE OF GOD (Philippians 4:7) is different. In order to have Godís peace described in Philippians 4:7 the believer must fulfill the conditions set forth in Philippians 4:6. These conditions are as follows: 1) be worrying about nothing; 2) prayer--coming to God in view of Who He is; 3) supplication -- a specific request based on a specific need in my life (whatever it was that was causing me to worry); 4) thanksgiving -- thanking God that He will take care of the problem in His way and in His time. Godís peace is the result of doing these four things. We should also mention the gift of Christís peace as mentioned in John 14:27 which makes it possible for us to have untroubled hearts in a very troubled world (compare John 16:33). Are we enjoying the gift that Christ has given to us?
We should also make a difference between POSITIONAL ACCEPTANCE and EXPERIENTIAL ACCEPTANCE (or the difference between STANDING and STATE). Positionally we are accepted in Christ and God is always well pleased with us because we have been placed in His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased (compare Matthew 3:17 with Ephesians 1:6). But in our actual state (as to our actual experience as we walk with the Lord in time) we may either be pleasing the Lord or not pleasing the Lord (see 2 Timothy 2:4; 1 Thess.4:1; Gal. 1:10; 1 John 3:22; Col. 1:10; 3:20; Rom.12:2; Eph.5:10; 2 Cor.5:9; 1 Cor.7:32). The key verse is Hebrews 11:5-6 which tells us that we please God BY FAITH. Compare also Romans 8:8-9 which implies that we please God only as we are walking in the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:16). Though there are numerous verses (just cited) which speak of our experiential acceptance (the need to please God in our daily walk by faith and in the Spirit of God), we should never minimize the importance of positional acceptance. Many believers are crippled spiritually because they do not know and do not believe and do not reckon that IN CHRIST they are well-pleasing to the Father and completely acceptable to Him. The more we rest by faith in our positional acceptance the more we will be at liberty to please God in our daily walk! For more help on this subject see The Believer's Standing and State.
"By whom" = through whom. Through Christ we have PEACE (v.1) and through Christ we have ACCESS (v.2). The Greek word for ACCESS literally means "a leading or bringing into the presence of." God leads us and brings us into His presence! Christ has made this possible (Eph. 2:13-18; Heb. 10:19-20) and it is only through Him that we can come (John 14:6). God commands the believer to COME BOLDLY into His presence (Heb. 4:16; 10:19,22)!
In the human realm it is very difficult or even impossible to gain access into the presence of kings or presidents or other "important" people. But the son of the president has a special privilege and can come right into his office. As Godís child the believer can "barge" right into the very presence of his Holy, Heavenly Father at any time and in any place and he can have an audience with the King of Kings.
Two Old Testament illustrations show us how privileged we are and how blessed is this access that we have: 1) THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AT MT. SINAI--As the Holy God gave His Holy Law at Mt. Sinai, the people did not have access. They were told to stay away and keep away and they were warned not to get too close (see Exodus 19:12-13,16,18,21-24); 2) THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AT THE TABERNACLE--God manifested His glory and His presence in a special way above the mercy seat in the holiest of holies (the innermost room of the tabernacle beyond the veil). What kind of access did the children of Israel have? Their access was extremely limited! Only one man could enter into this place and he could enter only once a year (see Hebrews 9:7)! How different it is today. Because of the finished work of Christ the veil has been rent (Matthew 27:51) and believers can enter "the holiest" (Hebrews 10:19). We have unlimited access (Heb. 4:16; 10:19-20). Are we taking advantage of it?
"Into this grace wherein we stand"--if a person has been justified (Rom. 5:1), then he is in good standing! Believers have a wonderful standing in grace! They have a wonderful standing in Divine favor. The verb "we stand" is in the perfect tense which means that we stand in grace, we continue to stand in grace and this standing never changes! How can a sinner stand in the presence of a holy God and enjoy His favor? Only by GRACE (see Psalm 130:3-4; Psalm 103:10). We can stand before God because in His grace and based on Christís finished work, the Lord will not impute sin (Rom. 4:8). If God were to impute sin, then certainly none of us could stand (Psalm 130:3; Psalm 1:5-6)!
"Rejoice" = to exult, rejoice, rejoice proudly. This verb is found in two other places in this chapter (v.3-"we glory"; v.11-"we joy").
"Hope"--this word involves something future, a future expectancy (see Romans 8:24). In English the word "hope" often carries with it the idea of uncertainty ("I hope I get a letter today"; "I hope it will not rain for our picnic" etc.). In the N.T. the word "hope" carries the idea of certainty because when God says something is going to happen in the future, we can expect it to happen without any doubt. An example of this is Titus 2:13--"the blessed hope" (the happy expectation). There is no uncertainty about Christ's coming (John 14:2-3) except that we do not know the time. We are certain that He will return but we are not certain when this stupendous event will take place.
"The glory of God"--this involves something in the future that the believer is expecting. The believer has a glorious future marked out and prepared by God (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9-10). The glorification of the believer is seen in the following passages: Romans 8:18; 8:30 (it is so certain that from Godís point of view, it is already done!); 2 Cor. 4:17; 1 Peter 1:11; 4:13; 5:10; 1 John 3:1-2; etc.
We not only rejoice because of our future hope (v.2) but we also rejoice in the present assurance that our tribulations will produce patience (v.3). Suffering is not some abnormality, but rather it is in the loving plan of God for His believers.
"Tribulations" = pressures, afflictions, the hardships of life squeezing in upon us, trials, problems, difficulties, troubles, etc. See John 16:33; Acts 14:22 and 1 Thess 3:3-4 (tribulations are to be expected). Why does the believer rejoice in tribulation? Because he KNOWS something! He knows that tribulation produces patience.
"Patience" = literally "to abide under, to stay under." Thus it means endurance, remaining under, bearing up under, "hanging in there" in the midst of difficulties and saying "thank you" in the middle of the troubles. It involves patient endurance under trials. The trials and troubles ought to make the believer stronger. The pressures ought to press us into the Lord Jesus more and more--to learn of the all-sufficiency of His grace. Compare Romans 12:12. Christ is sufficient for every situation!
"Experience"--this comes from a word which means "testing." Why does God send tribulation our way? He is testing us! Why did God tell Abraham to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22)? He was testing his faith! The trial of our faith is something very precious (1 Peter 1:7). Every trial and difficulty is a unique opportunity to trust the Lord and find Him faithful and sufficient. This word "experience" carries the idea of "approval." The thought is this: Not only are we tested (by the tribulations which God allows) but WE PASS THE TEST (as Abraham did in Genesis 22). Thus the word "experience" carries the idea of "proven character" or "the quality of being approved" or "approved character." It refers to a person who has successfully sustained the fiery test. He has learned that by God's grace he can endure. "I have trusted God in the middle of the trouble and found that God is faithful!"
"Experience [worketh or produces] hope"--The cycle is completed! We started with "hope" in verse 2 and now we are back to hope in verse 4. Illustration: A young sailor survives the first storm. This gives him hope: "I can do it again!" As we see God's faithfulness in each storm of life, this produces an expectancy in our hearts that God will continue to be faithful all the way until the day we are with Him!
Perhaps one way to illustrate Romans 5:3-4 is to see it exemplified by Stephen in Acts chapter 7:
"Hope"=future expectancy (v.2 and see comments there). My future salvation and glorification is guaranteed! Those who hope in Christ never need to be ashamed or disappointed. Keep in mind that salvation is in three tenses--past, present and future (Compare 2 Corinthians 1:10 where we see that God's glorious DELIVERANCE is in three tenses).
PAST--I was saved from the penalty of sin because Christ paid the death penalty for me (this is called
The word "hope" points us to the future aspect of salvation (and see Romans 5:9-10 where this future aspect is emphasized: "shall be saved"). As a believer I can know in my heart that my future salvation is certain and the God Who began that saving work in me will complete it (Phil. 1:6)! He finishes what He starts (Romans 8:29-30)! How can the believer have such assurance and such expectancy (hope)? "BECAUSE the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts" (Rom. 5:5).
"Shed abroad" = poured out
"Love of God" = this refers not to our love for God but HIS LOVE SHOWN TOWARD US (see v.8). Of course, the two ideas are related ("We love Him because He first loved us"--1 John 4:19). God the Holy Spirit works in my heart and He assures me of Godís great love (as demonstrated at the cross--verses 6-10). If God really loves me then it is certain that He will carry me through to the end and bring my salvation to its ultimate completion!
"The Holy Spirit which WAS given to us" (The KJV says "which is given" but this needs to be corrected because the past tense is used by Paul: "which was given"). The Holy Spirit is God's gift to every believer (see John 7:39; Romans 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19). One of the benefits of justification is the indwelling presence of God the Holy Spirit. One of His ministries is to point us to the Love of our Saviour as demonstrated at the cross and to shed this love abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5-10). The next verses will now point us to CALVARY'S CROSS and explain to us the love of God and what God's love means as far as our future and ultimate salvation.
"Without strength." An awesome description of our unsaved condition: very weak, powerless, helpless. There was nothing we could do to save ourselves or to remedy our lost condition. We were in need of a STRONG SAVIOUR!
"In due time" = at the right time (compare Gal. 4:4-5). Notice how God describes us in our unsaved state: THE UNGODLY (v.6); SINNERS (v.8); ENEMIES OF GOD (v.10). Christ died for the ungodly and loved the unlovely. He loved us though there was nothing loveable in us. See the MBC paper, 61 Things That Were True of Me Before I Was Saved.
"Ungodly"-see Romans 4:5. The ungodly are those who have no fear of God, no respect for God and no reverence for God (see Romans 3:18). Christ died for that kind of a person!
"For" = on behalf of (this clearly conveys the idea of SUBSTITUTION--compare 1 Peter 3:18). See the MBC study entitled, For Whom Did Christ Die?
This verse provides further explanation by way of a contrast. The greatest love that a man has falls far short of God's love. A man might lay down his life for his friend (this does not happen often, although occasionally it does happen), but the GOD-MAN laid down His life for His enemies!
"Scarcely" = hardly, rarely
"Righteous"-This implies, by way of contrast, that Christ died for unrighteous men (see 1 Peter 3:18).
"Peradventure" = perhaps
"Would even dare" = would have the courage, would be brave enough.
Here's an amazing example of a man who dared to die to save others:
On January 13, 1982 an airplane (Air Florida Flight 90) crashed and plunged into the icy waters of the Potomac River. Most of the passengers sank into the icy river. Only the broken off tail section remained afloat. Four people--two men and two women--clung to the jagged metal. Another man was treading water nearby. Soon another woman burst out of the water and she joined the others.
Treading water, these five dazed survivors, held on. Some had broken arms, others broken legs. The lungs of two had been collapsed by the impact of the crash. The roar of the U.S. Park Police helicopter was heard about 15 or 20 minutes after the crash.
The helicopter crew first dropped a lifeline to Bert Hamilton who was treading water about 10 feet from the tail. He took it and was carried a hundred yards to the Virginia shore. The helicopter crew returned and aimed the line at a balding man named Arland Williams. He caught it, but instead of wrapping it around himself, he passed the line to flight attendant Kelly Duncan. She took the line and held tight as she was carried safely to shore.
Again the helicopter returned. Again they aimed the line at Williams. Once more he caught it and again he passed it on, this time to Joe Stiley the most severely injured survivor. He slipped it around himself and then grabbed Priscilla Tirado who clung to him. Just before the helicopter moved off, Patricia Felch grabbed a second life line. Exhausted, in shock and pain, Stiley felt his hold on Priscilla slipping, and Patricia could feel herself losing her grip on her lifeline. As the chopper carried them toward shore, the women fell back into the icy water.
The chopper returned to drop a line to Priscilla Tirado as she struggled to stay afloat. She caught it but her strength was gone. She was about to go under when a courageous onlooker, Lenny Skutnik, plunged into the freezing river to bring her to shore.
The helicopter came in low over Patricia Felch, almost touching the ice. Gene Windsor clutched the barely conscious woman and held on to her as she was carried to safety.
It was now 29 minutes since the crash, 10 minutes since the
helicopter's first trip--and William's turn had come at last. The chopper turned once more
toward the sinking tail, its two-man crew eager to meet that man in the water. They
strained for signs of the hero who had saved two lives, but the balding man was gone.
Later, telling his wife about it, Officer Gene Windsor wept. "He could have gone on
the first trip," pilot Usher said, "but he put everyone else ahead of himself.
Everyone." (from THE READER'S DIGEST, 1982).
"But"-Note the contrast! God did much more than men would ever dare to do! He laid down His life for His enemies!
"Commendeth" = demonstrated, showed.
"Sinners" = Those who have missed the mark, have fallen short of God's righteous requirements (we have all sinned against Almighty God! See Romans 3:23).
How does God show His love? Where must we look to see the love of God? People often accuse God of being unloving. "How can a loving God allow millions of people to starve in India or in Africa?" "How can a loving God allow an earthquake to take hundreds of lives?" etc. But to see God's love you must look at the right place! The greatest demonstration of the love of God took place on Calvary's cross! See also John 3:16; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10.
For a full discussion of Calvary Love, see the MBC paper entitled, The New Commandment
In these two verses Paul is arguing from the greater to the lesser. In other words, if God has done the greater thing, then certainly He will do the lesser thing. See Romans 8:32 for a similar argument and compare also the last part of Matthew 6:25--if God has given you a body and life (the greater things) will He not also provide those things needed to nourish the body and sustain the life?
If God has justified us by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Jesus Christ! In other words, if Christ died to save you when you were unrighteous, how much more will He save you now that you are righteous (in Him) and justified! If He died for you when you were His enemy, how much more will He do for you now that you are His friend! If God loved me when I was a sinner (v.8), how much more will He shower His love upon me now that I am His child!
This verse further explains verse 9 ("For"). If God reconciled us to Himself when we were His enemies, how much more will He do for us now that we have entered into a precious relationship with Him!
"Reconciled" = God and man are brought together in harmony, at peace (v.1), with all hostility removed and all barriers to fellowship gone. The awful chasm separating a holy God from sinful man has been mended and bridged. We were reconciled, not because God compromised His holiness ("I will allow man to come to Me because I will overlook his sin and compromise My holiness"--Perish the thought!), but because God sacrificed His Son!
"Saved by His life"--See Hebrews 7:25 which is a perfect commentary on those four words! My eternal security is bound up in His life. For me to lose my salvation, the risen, Lord Jesus would have to die (but see Romans 6:9-10 and Rev. 1:18)! He died ONCE but never again! He ever lives to make intercession for us! He died to save me; He lives to keep me saved!
"Atonement" is mistranslated (see other translations). It should be "reconciliation" (connect with "reconciled" of verse 10). Reconciliation is another of the great benefits that comes in our salvation package! For more on reconciliation see 2 Cor. 5:17-21. See also The Mighty Crosswork of Christ.
In Romans 5:1-11 there are three things to rejoice in:
1) OUR FUTURE REJOICING--"we rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (v.2);
2) OUR PRESENT REJOICING--"we rejoice in tribulations" (v.3);
3) OUR PAST REJOICING--"we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom we have now received the reconciliation" (v.11).
Our reconciliation has been accomplished (PAST), God is now molding and shaping us through tribulations (PRESENT) and our glorification is yet to come (FUTURE).
The Blood Of Christ (Romans 5:9)
THE BLOOD OF JESUS
There is no forgiveness without it.
It satisfies the Holy claims of God.
It makes atonement for the soul.
It redeems the believer.
It cleanses from all sin.
It justifies the believer.
ó From Moments for You
In Romans 1-3 we learned about man's CONDEMNATION before a holy God.
In Romans 3-5 we learned about JUSTIFICATION (man being declared righteous by God based on the cross-work of Christ and according to the riches of God's grace).
In Romans 5:12-21 we have CONDEMNATION and JUSTIFICATION compared and contrasted. Note the words of COMPARISON: "AS . . . (EVEN) so . . ." (Rom. 5:18,19,21). Note the words of CONTRAST: "NOT AS" (Rom. 5:15,16); "MUCH MORE" (Rom. 5:15,17,20).
Notice also the TWO MEN who are compared and contrasted: Adam and Christ
Notice the TWO ACTS: Adamís act of disobedience when he ate the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6); Christís act of obedience when He died on the cross (Phil.2:8). See Romans 5:18-19.
Notice the awesome consequences: Romans 5:17-19.
Notice the TWO RESULTS: Because of what Adam did: DEATH, JUDGMENT, and CONDEMNATION. Because of what Christ did: LIFE and RIGHTEOUSNESS AND GRACE.
Notice that Adam and Christ were representative men. They acted on manís behalf (just as our elected representatives in Congress vote for us). Adam sinned for us and Christ died for us.
It is very important to see OUR HISTORY IN ADAM and to see OUR HISTORY IN CHRIST. It is important to realize that when Adam sinned in the garden of Eden, YOU WERE THERE! In Adam you sinned and you died. Likewise, it is vital to realize that when Christ died on the cross, YOU WERE THERE! "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?"--YES!
The main point of the section is the triumph of God's grace over sin (see Rom. 5:20-21). The key phrase is "MUCH MORE" (Rom. 5:15,17,20). If you think what Adam did was significant (and it was!), HOW MUCH MORE significant and greater and important is what Christ did. What Christ did far outweighed and outdistanced what Adam did!
The false doctrine of UNIVERSALISM might seem to some to be taught in Romans 5:18-19. Universalism teaches that all men eventually will be saved. This is not true and it would be contrary to the message of the entire book of Romans which says that no one is saved apart from faith (Rom. 10:9-17; etc.). A key word in this section is found in Romans 5:17--RECEIVE. What Adam did for mankind is inherited by birth. What Christ did for mankind must be personally received and appropriated by faith.
Consider the historicity of Adam. Was Adam a real historical person who actually lived on this earth as the progenitor of the human race? No one denies the historicity of Jesus Christ, that He was an actual historical Person who lived on earth. However, many deny the historicity of Adam. This is due to man's unbelief and the current evolutionary doctrine which rejects the first 11 chapters of Genesis and claims that these chapters are devoid of any historical truth. Often proponents of this view say that the things that happened in these early chapters of Genesis are just interesting (but untrue) stories which contain certain moral lessons for us. But in Romans 5:12 and following Paul assumes that Adam was a real historical person, just as historical as Moses (Rom.5:14) and Christ (Rom. 5:15). See also 1 Cor. 15:22,45,47; 2 Cor. 11:3 (if Eve must go, then the devil must go also!); 1 Cor. 11:8-9; 1 Tim. 2:13-14 etc. See also the genealogy of Luke chapter 3 which begins with Adam and ends with Christ (in reverse order). If Christ was a historical Person but Adam was not (as the unbelievers would like us to think), then at what point in the genealogy did we pass from fictional to historical or from mythology to historical?
For every Christian believer the final proof of the historicity of Adam and Eve comes from the words of Christ Himself as recorded in Matthew 19:4-5. These two verses not only show that Adam and Eve were real persons who lived in history but they also show that Christ fully accepted the truthfulness of the first two chapters of the Bible (Matthew 19:4 is based on Genesis 1 and Matthew 19:5 is based on Genesis 2). For a further study on how unbelievers deny Biblical truth see A True Believer BELIEVES the Word of God.
"One man" = Adam. By Adam sin made its entrance into the world. And whenever sin comes along it brings its close companion with it: DEATH. Sin and death are a couplet--they always go together. Sin brings forth death (James 1:15).
"And death by sin" = This is an incomplete sentence. This is what the verse means when that which is missing is supplied:
BY ADAM SIN ENTERED INTO THE WORLD; BY SIN DEATH ENTERED INTO THE WORLD.
Notice also the connection between sin and death in Genesis 2:17.
"For that" = because
"All have sinned" = should be translated "all sinned"
ALL MEN SINNED IN ADAM AND ALL MEN DIED IN ADAM. Illustration: Think of a great forest fire (James 3:5). You can take one little match, light it, and throw it to the ground, and as a result of that one little act, the entire forest could be doomed. Because one match fell, every tree in the forest would likewise fall. In like manner, because of Adam's one "little" act of disobedience, the entire forest of humanity fell and was ruined. Adam lit the match and every one of us has been burned. It is amazing what one man brought about.
The words "all men" (in the middle of Rom. 5:12) are emphasized in the Greek. Death passed upon whom? ALL MEN! Why did death pass upon ALL MEN? Why was all of humanity infected with this horrible disease of sin and death? Why all men? Why not just Adam? If he is the one who sinned, then should not he and he alone be the one to die? Why did death pass upon all men? Here is God's answer: WHEN ADAM SINNED WE ALL SINNED! When Adam fell, we fell. Why did death pass upon all men? "Because all sinned" (Rom. 5:12, see the end of the verse). When did all men sin? When Adam sinned!
This truth, though hard to accept, is taught elsewhere in this passage: Romans 5:15--Through Adamís offense, many died! Because of Adams s sin, I died! Romans 5:18--Because of Adamís sin I am under condemnation and judgment! Romans 5:19--Because of Adamís act of disobedience I became a sinner! See also 1 Corinthians 15:22--IN ADAM ALL DIE!
In the old colonial schools in New England they used a wonderful educational tool called THE NEW ENGLAND PRIMER as their textbook to help the children to learn to read and write, etc. In teaching the alphabet a brief rhyme would be given to help the children remember each letter. For the letter "A" they learned this:
In Adam all sinned. It is also true that in Adam all were created. Strictly speaking, people living today were not created. We came into the world by procreation, not by creation. The only people who were ever created were Adam and Eve. However, there is a sense in which it is correct to say that I was created in Adam. Apart from Adam I would have no existence. When Adam was created I was in the "loins" of Adam (cf. Heb. 7:10). I was part of "his seed." (Likewise we could say that the entire Jewish nation was in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob).
When Adam sinned, I was not even there. I did not eat the fruit, Adam did. I did not disobey God, Adam did. And yet there is a sense in which I was there. I was there in Adam. I sinned in Adam! I died in Adam! A person could be asked, "What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?" This could be answered in many ways: the death of a loved one, a terrible car accident, some unexpected tragedy, etc. But all such answers are incorrect. The Bible reveals the only true answer to this question: THE WORST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME WAS WHEN ADAM ATE THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO (Romans 5:12). Likewise, THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME WAS WHEN JESUS CHRIST DIED ON THE CROSS ABOUT 2000 YEARS AGO (Romans 5:18-19).
Why is it true that I SINNED IN ADAM, I DIED IN ADAM, I AM CONDEMNED IN ADAM? I was not even there when it happened, or was I? Consider the following:
You might object, "I do not like this doctrine of representation! It is not fair! I do not want to be represented by Adam!" But the moment you reject the doctrine of representation, you have rejected one of the most wonderful doctrines in the Bible. You see, not only was Adam your representative, but Christ was your representative also! Not only did Adam act on your behalf, but Christ acted on your behalf also! Adam got you into the mess but Christ can get you out of it! And if you say that it was not fair for Adam to represent you since you were not even there, then think for a moment about this: How fair was it for Christ to represent you? Was it fair for a perfectly innocent Man to be put to death? Was it fair that He was judged for the sins which you have committed? Was it fair for the judgment and wrath of a holy God to fall down upon Him instead of upon you? Remember, what Adam did was the worst thing that ever happened to you BUT WHAT CHRIST DID WAS THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU!!
Understanding this principle will help your Bible to come alive for you. When you read the account of the fall of Adam in Genesis 3, you will realize that this is not some remote account that has nothing to do with you, but that in a real sense you were there. Because Adam was your representative, you participated in what Adam did. In Adam's fall we sinned all!
Likewise, when you read the crucifixion accounts you will remember that in a very real sense you were there. His death became your death. His history became your history (as we shall see in Romans 6). When I read about Christ being crucified that becomes very personal because I was crucified there too (Gal. 2:20), and praise God, I also came forth out of that tomb with Him!
Romans 5:12 also says something which relates to science and in particular to the creation/evolution debate. This verse teaches that death resulted from the sin of Adam. The fall of man affected the animal kingdom as well, and as we will learn in Romans 8:19-22, the animals are groaning, waiting to be delivered from the bondage they are in because of man's sin. Prior to the fall of Adam, death was not a reality in the animal kingdom and therefore there could have been no animal fossils prior to the fall of man (contrary to evolutionary theory). Creationists believe that the vast majority of fossils were formed at the time of the worldwide flood in the days of Noah.
Here begins a lengthy Pauline parenthesis (from verse 13 to verse 17). Verse 12 connects with verse 18.
"Until" = up until, prior. Paul is considering the period of time prior to the giving of the law (see verse 13--the period from Adam to Moses). This is the pre-Mosaic, pre-law era (compare Rom. 4:15). In the period from Adam to Moses there was sin and death but there was no transgression. You cannot transgress a law that does not exist. There was sin, as seen by the murderous act of Cain (Gen. 4) and the wickedness of the pre-flood world (Gen. 6:5). Death was also in the world as seen by Genesis 5 (the tombstone chapter).
"Imputed" = reckoned, counted, considered. Sin was present but it was not counted (considered) as transgression until the law came. Compare Gal. 3:19 (the law was given to give sin the added character of transgression and that sin might become even more sinful--Rom. 7:13). Adam's sin was considered a "transgression (v.14) because he violated a divinely revealed law (Genesis 2:17). Death reigned as king (v.14) from Adam to Moses even though the people did not transgress in the same way that Adam did (they had not broken a clearly revealed command as Adam had done).
Paul's main point in these two verses is that death passed to all men (v.12), not because they sinned, but because Adam sinned. It was Adam's sin that brought death upon humanity. The people between Adam and Moses did not sin as Adam had (Adam's sin was a willful violation of a direct command from God). Yet death reigned even over them, not because of their actions, but because of Adam's act! Today we could use the illustration of infants who die. These babes know nothing of right or wrong, but they die. This should remind us of the universal effect of the sin of Adam. Because of his transgression, the sentence of death passed upon all men.
Adam is a "figure" or TYPE of Him that was to come, namely Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:14). Adam is a type of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:45 Jesus Christ is called "Adam" ("the last Adam") and Christ is also called "the second man" in contrast to the first man, Adam (1 Cor. 15:47). As we compare these two men there are both similarities and differences:
The first man Adam (1 Cor.15:45)
The last Adam (1 Cor.15:45)
"Was made a living soul" (1 Cor.15:45)
"Was made a quickening spirit" (1 Cor.15:45)
"Natural" (1 Cor.15:46)
"Spiritual" (1 Cor.15:46)
ORIGIN--"of the earth" (1 Cor.15:47)
ORIGIN--"from heaven" (1 Cor.15:47)
Men reflect Adam (Cor.15:49 and see Gen. 5:3).
Saved men can and shall reflect Christ (1 Cor.15:49 and see Col. 3:10; Eph.4:24; Rom.8:29; 2 Cor.3:18; 1 John 3:2; etc.).
"Dead in Adam" (1 Cor.15:22)
"Alive in Christ" (1 Cor.15:22)
Adam is the Head of the Old Creation.
Jesus Christ is the Head of the New Creation (2 Cor.5:17; Eph.2:10).
Adam was a representative man (Romans 5), and he acted on behalf of the whole human race.
Christ was a representative man (Romans 5), and He acted on behalf of the whole human race.
Adam performed one act which had tremendous consequences.
Christ performed one act which had even greater consequences.
Adamís act was a sinful act (Rom.5:12, 15,16,17,18).
ChristĎs act was a righteous act (Rom.5:18--"the righteous act"--see NASB).
Adamís act was an act of disobedience, in eating the forbidden fruit (Rom.5:19; and see Genesis 2:17; 3:6).
Christís act was an act of obedience, in dying on the cross (Romans 5:19 and see Phil.2:8).
Here is what Adamís one act produced:
DEATH ( Rom.5:12,14,15)
Here is what Christís one act produced:
Notice the "much more" of this verse (the expression "much more" is found 4 other times in Romans 5. Can you find them? Verses ___ ___ ___ ___ )
Adam did "MUCH" (for bad) but Christ did "MUCH MORE" for man's blessing and benefit. Through Adam's offence MANY DIED (simple past aorist tense). In Adam's fall we sinned all, and in Adam's death we died all!
Note the precious expression: "THE FREE GIFT." Salvation/justification is free but it is not cheap. It was purchased at infinite cost (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
Adam's offense brought disaster and death upon the human race ("death passed upon all men"-v.12) but the free gift which the crucified and risen Christ offers brings forgiveness and life to all that will receive the gift. Through Adamís offense all men died (v.15--here is an important example where "MANY"="ALL") but through Christís death Godís gracious gift of life and righteousness is offered to all.
"Abounded" = overflowed, abounded abundantly. This is a reference to the overflowing, super-abounding grace of God (cf. v.20-21). Compare verse 12--"passed" or spread. Sin and death spread to all men. MUCH MORE Godís gracious gift overflowed to all!
In this verse there is a contrast between "one (offense) to condemnation" and "many offences unto justification." Out of Adam's one trespass came judgment. The remedy demanded that MANY OFFENSES be laid on Christ when He died on the cross. The one offense of Adam brought judgment and condemnation to mankind. What Christ did is far greater because He provided a way that would blot out MANY OFFENSES. Alva McClain gives this illustration: A man goes into a forest and takes a match and sets fire to a tree. This is a small action that anyone could do. Soon the whole forest would be blazing. Suppose somebody came along and put the whole thing out. Would not the second operation be vastly greater, "much more", then the first? By Adam's one offense the whole "forest" of humanity fell. By Christís righteous act millions and millions of offenses were paid for and were able to be blotted out! Christ accomplished MUCH MORE!
The word "abundance" is related to the word "abounded" in v.15. God's grace is super-abounding and overflowing! The free gift has been provided for all men but all men have a responsibility. They must RECEIVE it! "Receive" is a faith word (see John 1:12).
Those that "receive" this abundance of grace have therewith the gift of righteousness. What a gift! Apart from works, apart from the Law, apart from ordinances, apart from worthiness, an out and out gift of righteousness from God! Many times in teaching this passage to Bible classes I have asked them to repeat three times over each of these expressions: "The abundance of grace," "the gift of righteousness." We earnestly commend this to you. Try it. (William Newell, Romans).
Because of Adam death has reigned (and the numerous cemeteries bear witness of this). Because of Jesus Christ believers reign (literally they "reign as kings!").
The parenthesis has now ended and this verse should be connected with verse 12 (and probably the word "death" should be supplied instead of "judgment").
"By the righteousness of one" = by the righteous act of One (namely Christ's righteous act of dying on the cross).
The free gift came upon all men (Christ's cross-work was done on behalf of the whole human race) but sadly all men do not receive it (v.17). Calvin said it this way, "He (God) makes this favor common to all, because it is propoundable to all, and not because it is in reality extended to all (i.e., in their experience); for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and is offered through Godís benignity indiscriminately to all, yet all do not receive Him." (Note: Calvin here seems to teach that Christ died for all men. For a fuller discussion of Calvin's views on the atonement, see For Whom Did Christ Die?)
"Were made" = became, were constituted. All who are in Adam are sinners; all who are in Christ are righteous. By birth we are in Adam; by new birth we are in Christ.
"The obedience of One"--this refers not to His obedient life in general, but to His obedient act of going to the cross (Phil. 2:8; Matt.26:42; and compare Heb. 5:8). Adam's act of disobedience centered around a tree (Gen.2:16-17) and Christ's act of obedience centered around a tree (1 Pet. 2:24).
This verse (Romans 5:19) is often misinterpreted by those who fail to understand that the obedience here spoken of is Christ's obedience to the Father's will by going to the cross (Phil. 2:8). Instead they say that it refers to His obedience throughout His life in keeping the law. This theory, mostly held by Reformed theologians, is sometimes referred to as "vicarious law-keeping." This theory says that Christ not only died for us as our Substitute (which we fully agree with), but that Christ also lived for us (during His pre-cross days) and kept God's commandments for us as our Substitute. They teach that the debt man owed to God was paid and fully satisfied not only by Christ’s substitutionary death but also by the obedience of His life (which they call Christ's "active righteousness"). They teach that justification is grounded not only in Christís death on the cross where He bore the penalty of Godís judgment against us but also "it is grounded in Christís lifelong obedience in which He fulfilled the precepts of Godís law for us" [Reformation Study Bible, see note under Romans 3:24]. Concerning this "obediential righteousness of Christ," they assert and maintain that Christ atoned by His life as well as by His death, and that this was absolutely necessary and essential in procuring our righteousness. They say that when we get saved, God imputes to us the law-keeping righteousness of Christ.
First of all, we recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ lived a perfect, sinless life and that He perfectly obeyed God's commandments and always did those things that pleased the Father. He was the spotless, sinless Lamb of God. However, the righteousness by which we are justified does not flow from the earthly Jesus; it becomes ours because of the risen and glorified Son of God and our union with Him. Please notice that Romans 4:25 does not say this: "Who was delivered for our offenses, and who obeyed the law for our justification." Reformed theology, as is often the case, has Christ on the wrong side of the cross! We don't find our righteousness in the law or even in Christ's keeping of the law, but we find our righteousness only IN HIM, the risen Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Our righteous standing in Christ is due to the fact that we have been UNITED to the risen Christ, and He has become our righteousness (1 Cor. 1:30).
For an excellent discussion as to why "vicarious law-keeping" is an erroneous doctrine, see the discussion of this point in William Newel's commentary on ROMANS (see pages 190-193, his discussion under Romans 5:19). For further study, see the MBC paper entitled, Vicarious Law-Keeping (Christ's Active Righteousness).
"Entered" = came in alongside. Why did the law come in alongside? Why was the law added (compare Gal. 3:19)? "So the offence might ABOUND." The law makes sin look even worse! The law gives sin the added character of transgression and it makes sin appear even more sinful (cf. Rom. 7:13). Think of a magnifying glass and substitute the word "abound" with the word "magnify": "Moreover the law entered that the offence might be magnified. But where sin was magnified, grace was much more magnified!" The law magnifies sin. Sin magnifies grace! God's grace shines brightest against the black background of sin. "Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved A WRETCH LIKE ME!" Why did God allow sin into His universe? One reason (among others) is that He might show the MUCH MORE of His grace! WHERE SIN ABOUNDED, GRACE SUPER-ABOUNDED! Where sin abounded, grace did completely overflow!
At the beginning of this section sin and death were reigning; now GRACE IS REIGNING! "In order that, just as sin reigned-as-king by means of death: grace might reign-as-king, through righteousness, unto life eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord." This verse unfolds God's great object: that Grace should have a kingdom where Death had had its kingdom: and that, of course, through righteousness,--that is, that all Divine claims should be first righteously met at the cross, and thus that all should be "through Jesus Christ our Lord." --William Newell. Thus the subject of the last part of Romans 5 is condemnation by Adam's trespass, and justification by Christ's righteous act of death.
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