Romans Chapter 5

1    Being then justified from faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

We trust God, we believe Christ, we are declared righteous by God. If we are declared righteous, then we are no longer guilty before Him, and if no longer guilty, there is no longer enmity between us and Him. We are at peace with God. We are no longer His enemies, He has no more charge against us; we are free.

2       through Whom also we have access to the faith into this grace in which we stand and rejoice (boast) on the hope of the glory of God;

As Paul stated earlier that Abraham had nothing to boast of before God even had he been completely righteous on his own merit, however we may boast of God’s grace in our lives and the hope we have of seeing His glory with full sight and awareness. Christ has opened that door for us, and we may walk through with confidence, not because of who we are or what we have done, but because Christ has given it to us.

3    and not only but we rejoice (boast) in the afflictions, knowing that the affliction produces endurance,

Afflictions are part of ‘real life’; there is no escape from them nor any way to avoid the struggles that attend living in earth with humanity. Add to that the antagonism toward Christ’s sheep of those who prefer to resist and reject God, through which we may endure rejection, ridicule, harassment, censure, slander, being physically harmed, chased from our homes, denied or expelled from employment, imprisoned, killed. If we truly trust God, the trials we suffer in this world will teach us to hang on; to become even more confident that God is, that He is still here with us, and that He will not allow us to be destroyed by our enemies, no matter how hard the journey becomes.

God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure. (1 Cor 10:13) When we receive Christ, and the Holy Spirit seals us for the day of redemption, [1] we are then kept from overwhelming temptation by Him through the indwelling Spirit Who guides, comforts, protects, and teaches us all we need.[2] To trust the Lord through our trials reinforces to us that He will keep us even in those trials; He strengthens us by His Spirit, and we develop the ability to keep on.

The significance of this assertion must be noted: if upon profession of true faith in Christ and His death on the cross for our sins, and His resurrection for our justification, we receive the Holy Spirit as the seal or guarantee of our redemption until the day when we realize it in full, and if having been redeemed, and born from above through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we cannot be tempted beyond our ability to bear the temptation, then no trial we face will have the power to ruin our faith. While we may be grieved, pained, or even fearful for a time, or angry, or confused, if ‘no temptation’ is permitted us ‘beyond what [we] can endure’, then we are guaranteed by God that He will allow nothing that could destroy our faith in Him. If we cannot be tempted to the point of losing our faith, we cannot, once having faith,

I would suggest that, when we are afflicted, we will be so by men, or the consequences of our own fleshly failures, and will be able through the trial to recognize that the fault does not lie with the God Who created us, nor with Christ Who bought us, but with those who have rejected Them, and the consequences of their rejection of Them. When someone slanders me because I am a Christian, I don’t blame God for allowing me to suffer a negative consequence of my faith; rather I recognize that, if they hate Him, they will hate me; [3] because the spirit in them hates the Spirit of God in me. If I can rise above the offense, and refuse to take it personally, I will be able to ‘love my enemies, bless those who curse me, do good to those who hate me, and pray for those who use me spitefully and who persecute me’, and become more like my Father in heaven, Who sent His Son while I was still weak, and subject to sin, under the death penalty with no way to clear my own name or escape my destruction, to die in my place and create in me a new heart, to imbue me with His Holy Spirit so that I could be free. If I can learn to love as He loves, with His love in me through the presence of His Spirit in me, then I can become to my enemy the ambassador of peace, and perhaps he will see Christ in me and repent.

4    then the endurance, proof (δοκιμην), then the proof, expectation (hope)

To endure means to continue. If we continue through the afflictions, we have been proved. Now, there is no need for us to be proved to God; He already knows whether we are true or false. But when we continue to trust the Lord when life is hard, to glorify God through our afflictions, to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ when our neighbour hates us, we demonstrate the truth of the profession we make, and show that we are what we profess. The message of a changed life through Christ is the proof of the claim. When we are proved – shown to be what we say that we are – we are confident in what we anticipate, because we know that God’s promise is sure.

1382 δοκιμή dokime   from the same as 1384; n f;     AV-proof 3, experience 2, trial 1, experiment 1; 7

1) proving, trial
2) approved, tried character
3) a proof, a specimen of tried worth

1384 δόκιμος dokimos        from 1381; adj;          AV-approved 6, tried 1; 7

1) accepted, particularly of coins and money.
2) accepted, pleasing, acceptable
In the ancient world there was no banking system as we know it today, and no paper money. All money was made from metal, heated until liquid, poured into moulds and allowed to cool. When the coins were cooled, it was necessary to smooth off the uneven edges. The coins were comparatively soft and of course many people shaved them closely. In one century, more than eighty laws were passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins then in circulation. But some money changers were men of integrity, who would accept no counterfeit money. They were men of honour who put only genuine full weighted money into circulation. Such men were called “dokimos” or “approved”. (Donald Barnhouse)(as quoted in Strong’s Concordance, OnLine Bible Program)

1381 δοκιμάζω dokimazo  v;              AV-prove 10, try 4, approve 3, discern 2, allow 2, like 1, examine 1; 23

1) to test, examine, prove, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals
2) to recognise as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy

5      then the hope is not shaming (causing shame; making ashamed), since the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us,

The word ‘hope’ in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word elpis, which more accurately translates to “expectation”. We will not be ashamed for having expected God to do what He has said He would do. In our present generation, many people are not receptive to hearing about Jesus Christ and His salvation, and many are outright hostile. Public voices insist that God does not exist, or that the God revealed by the Bible is other than what we who trust Him perceive. They tell us that we are stupid, that science proves us wrong, that experience proves us wrong, that we have maligned and misinterpreted the Scriptures and the gospel to serve our own ends – how it can serve our ends to declare ourselves unworthy of God’s acceptance and totally dependant upon His grace and mercy for forgiveness of the sins we would rather not have to admit belong to us, or how it serves our ends to tell the world that they are likewise guilty and without hope without God, is an unanswerable question. If we assess our expectation on God by the input of the world around us, we would expect to be made to look foolish when the final tally is done. We should anticipate the confirmation of our stupidity, our misinformation, our gullibility or our duplicity by the outcomes at that final day.

But Paul assures his readers then and today that our “hope” will never cause us shame because the God Who is, is real, and faithful, and will do exactly as He has promised. We have the confirmation of that assurance in the love that God has imparted to us by the Holy Spirit also given to us. If the Holy Spirit is our ‘seal’ to God, and our guarantee that what God has promised, we shall receive, then we have nothing to doubt regarding our outcome.

And, if the Holy Spirit is our ‘seal’ to God, if our profession is real and we have the Spirit of God living inside us as the witness to us that we are in Christ and He in us, then we will know that we have what He has promised by the assurance that the Spirit gives and the assurance that the Scripture provides. God loves us; He has lavished His love upon us first in the sacrifice of Christ for our sins, and then for the gift of the Holy Spirit for our life. We have it; it is ours and it is sure, because it is in Them, and they are in us.

6    for Christ, us being still weak, in due season for the sake of the ungodly, died.

The time was right for Christ to die for the ungodly. He did not wait for us to become ‘worthy’ of the death of a righteous man. He died for us while we were weak; we were vulnerable, and defeat-able. Humanity completely lacked power of our own to remedy our plight. He died while we still needed someone to save us from the penalty of our sins and to save us from ourselves.

God’s love, expressed in Christ’s death on the cross, for men who lacked power, who lacked goodness, who lacked anything of eternal value or anything to merit an extension of mercy – except the love of God for us, poured into our hearts through the great kindness of Christ Who would come to remedy what we were held captive to, what had conquered us, over which we had no ability to resolve. He did not leave us as we were, nor in the brew of our own making, but came when we needed Him: while we were still lost, that He might ‘seek and save’ us, though we are ungodly.

7    For hardly for the sake of a just (one) will any die; perhaps for the good some may even dare to die

Men are called to military duty; in some countries and under some circumstances, no choice is offered; they must go. Every man called to fight knows they may have to die, and in some circumstances, death is probable rather than merely possible. The term ‘draft dodger’ was coined in the US when conscription of young men at 18 years of age was still universal. These young men – also called ‘defectors’ – were unwilling to fight, and unwilling to die ‘for their country’.

The drive to live is endemic to the human condition. We all want to live, to do, to know, to be. Our natural inclination is to work to preserve our lives, and actively avoid dying. Most people consider dying for someone else’s benefit to be a ‘noble’ act. But there are very few people whose mind-set includes the preparedness to sacrifice their own life on earth in order to protect or preserve the life of someone else. Consider the many news stories coming out of the US and other places, that tell of a person or some who are in personal danger, and although there are bystanders – sometimes quite a few – no one helps them. They just watch, maybe call for police help, but otherwise disregard the immediate and dire need of a fellow human being, in order to protect themselves from possible injury or death. A few years ago, a young man was murdered by his seatmate on an intercity bus in Canada. The victim had been sleeping, when the other man took and knife and began to viciously attack him, and cut his throat with a knife he had. The bus had been nearly full, but when the attack began, the rest of the passengers vacated the bus, and even held the door shut so the attacker could not come after them – but the three dozen of them made no effort to stop the attack. The young man was killed in exquisite pain and fear, his murderer then following the attack by biting off some of his flesh, and no one of some 30 other passengers were willing to risk injury to help and protect him. We recoil at this thought, but it is a common story across the world; human beings will ‘look out for number one” before they will inconvenience or risk themselves for another person’s well-being.

I propose that part of the reason most men are unwilling to die for someone else is that they are afraid. Most people claim to believe in some sort of “God”, and most also claim to believe in some sort of heaven after they die. Polls show that most people in the west say they believe that, if there is a heaven, they will go there. But the fact is that most people don’t know what they should believe, and most people are afraid that when they die, their story ends, their life is done, or their final outcome will be bad. The fear of the unknown, the fear of hell, and the fear that guilt causes men who, as Paul wrote, know God is and of what sort God is, and they know that if God judges them, they will be found wanting – these things motivate men of all kinds and ages across every generation to preserve their own lives at any cost, so that in general, most are not prepared to sacrifice their own life so that someone else will live.

As I type these words I consider myself; I don’t like to just walk up to someone and strike up a conversation.  I am not a small-talk kind of person, and I really do find myself at a loss for what to say – to ask or to tell – with someone I don’t know. I feel awkward in those situations, and when we are awkward, we become self-conscious and don’t think very clearly about what we might want to say. I don’t have good ‘opening lines’; I am not sharp or clever at creating a situation into which I can inject the gospel. And because of my own weaknesses, I don’t tend to walk up to total strangers so I can tell them about Jesus. But that’s a really bad reason, when I know most of those I see are perishing and haven’t heard the good news that Jesus saves perishing men.

I know that if I will not risk my comfort, my sense of personal security, and even my social or physical well-being, there are many people who will not hear the gospel from me. And the truth is that there are many people who have not heard the gospel from me; many more than those who have. Why, if we believe what God has said, and believe what God has promised, do any of us find it so difficult to open a conversation of life and death with a stranger. If they were walking onto a street with an on-coming bus, we would not stand on ceremony; we would shout a warning, run to stop them from stepping out, try to pull them back onto the curb. The only difference between this and sharing the gospel is …

8    Yet God commends His own love to us that, we still being sinful, Christ died for us.

God is not like us. God was prepared to suffer temporary pain, shame, anguish, and ignominy – things which do not accompany the nature of God, and things to which He had no jurisdiction – because we were in mortal danger. God voluntarily set Himself in the position to suffer and die, because we needed Him to do so. If God did not save us, we could never be saved. Please consider this carefully: if God had not saved us, we could never be saved. There was no alternative; no man could purchase our lives back from death. No angel was qualified to redeem mankind’s sin-debt. Only God could fulfill our obligation on our behalf, but only at considerable cost to Himself.

What we must learn from Christ’s voluntary self-sacrifice is that we can endure pain because we know it is not terminal. Whipping and stoning, stabbing and cutting, tearing, beating, shooting, dragging, or any other hideous thing that wicked men can conceive to do to cause suffering and death to a fellow human, can only cause us pain if we belong to Jesus Christ. They can kill our bodies, but our spirits live on in paradise with Him until He returns to resurrect them as new, immortal bodies.

The injuries will hurt us; they can cause us terrible pain. The mocking, the rejection, the harassment, censure – all these wound our hearts causing deep anguish of soul. But pain can only hurt; it cannot harm us unless we permit it, because it is temporary. It lasts no longer than our time on this earth; after that, we have peace and joy, and everlasting life. If we endure this terrible treatment, it will only hasten us into paradise with our Lord and brother, Christ Jesus. Do we believe that? Can we believe it? If we say we believe it, and we hide from the discomfort, we may be fooling ourselves. Yes, it is our natural inclination to protect our own hide, but we are not ‘natural men’ any longer; we are spiritual, if it is true that Christ lives in us and we in Him.

God shows to us that His own love toward us is tremendous; it is of that finest quality that only considers what is best for the object of the love. If God had chosen to preserve what was His best, He would not have taken on human flesh and the limits and trials that attend living in flesh. He would not have subjected His Holy Sovereignty to the gaze and judgment of sinful men, His created beings. And He certainly would not have permitted the body He condescended to inhabit to be handled by wicked men, put on display to be ridiculed and scorned, nor mutilated and executed like a common criminal. None of these things served God’s limitedly-personal ‘best interests’. Had God only loved to the extent that it did not impinge on His comfort, He would not have taken on flesh, He would not have tolerated the offense of human judgement, and He certainly would not have sent His Son to die, nor would God the Son have given His body over to torture and death.

But God’s love is a perfect – complete, pure – unmixed with selfishness, or self-centredness, profound love, and He chose to put that love on display for all of creation to witness, by the Father sending the Son, the Son offering up His life, in order to rescue His helplessly lost creation called man. In His tremendous act of salvation, God showed to us the greatness and marvellousness of His love for us, by Christ dying in our place.

9    much more then, being justified now in His blood, we shall be saved through Him from the indignation

“Much more then” – if God went to such great extents to show that His love for us was of superlative quality and value, by the sacrifice of Christ – the sovereign LORD God in flesh – to bring His righteousness to human kind, He will most certainly complete the transaction that cost Him so dearly, in delivering us from the exercise of His anger against sin. If we were still required to suffer God’s wrath for our sin, we would still have to die. But Christ died for our death; He took our place in the sentence pronounced upon our sin; we are certainly not going to suffer the penalty ourselves, or Christ’s death would be a waste. He died that we could be justified; but He also died that we could be freed from the consequences of the sins of which we are still truly guilty. If we are in Christ, we are saved.

Being “now” justified in His blood: Paul is contrasting ‘now’ with ‘then’ in comparing the present situation of being justified to the future hope of being saved from the indignation which God will exercise on all the unrighteous. It is important to understand what it means to have been declared righteous. If we were righteous on our own merit, we would necessarily have to possess no qualities of unrighteousness; we would have to be wholly right in all matters. If we possessed the condition of being wholly right, it would not be necessary for us to be ‘saved’ from the consequences of sin; we would not have any, including the sin of faithlessness. God declares the sinner righteous based on their faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice for their sin, the sinless Lamb of God, and God in the flesh.[4]

This condition of being declared righteous then is not dependant upon our personal goodness, or any righteousness that we possess on our own accord, but exclusively on the imputation or applied credit by God of a righteousness to which we have no personal or natural claim. We do not gain it through our actions, and we do not lose it through our actions. We gain it only through faith in Christ, and because it is only through faith, it cannot be lost. The meaning of the word ‘faith’, as well as the meaning of the Greek word from which it is translated, “pistis/pisteuo”, is to possess complete confidence in the object, to be fully persuaded. It is not possible to truly be ‘fully persuaded’, or to possess ‘complete’ confidence that can be lost, as some suggest. Personal faith is either possessed or not possessed; it is not something that ebbs and flows with the wind. While we may struggle to reconcile things that happen in our lives or the world around us, and sometimes we may feel like God has abandoned us to circumstances, or that circumstances are too great for us, or we may even find ourselves depressed or discouraged or fearful because of some set of circumstances, if we truly believe God – that what He says is true because it is God who has said it – then we do not waver at unbelief despite what we see or feel.[5] Like faithful Abraham, we see impossible circumstances, but recognize that no matter how insurmountable they may be for us, they are not too much for God, and however He may choose to work them out, He will work them to our good and according to His purpose in our lives as well as whatever other priorities may be affected by them.

Paul did not qualify his statement that we are ‘now justified’. Because we either trust God or we don’t, Paul did not have to qualify that only those whose faith lasts shall be saved from indignation. Rather, “we” who are justified are assured that we shall be saved from indignation through Jesus Christ, whom we trusted, Who died for us. We are now justified; we shall with certainty be saved from God’s wrath through Christ.

10     for if being enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, shall we be saved in His life

Christ reconciled us to God before we ceased to be His enemies. He did not wait for us to make peace – we could not do so, because we were the guilty parties. He did not refuse us because we were His enemies; in fact He invited us into reconciliation with him. He would have been completely right to leave us as enemies and let us perish; we certainly had done nothing to merit His mercy. But God did initiate the possibility of peace; God did send His only begotten Son to die on a cross as a common criminal under the highest authority in the land, in order to cover our penalty for our offenses against the absolute Sovereign of the universe. God did offer reconciliation to people who would reject sin and receive Christ – sinful people who were still living sinfully.

If God did all this on His own initiative, for the benefit of Their created image-bearers who were in rebellion against Their very Persons, as well as Their Sovereign will and standard for Their creation, then as Paul wrote, “much more” when He has reconciled us to Himself, shall we certainly be saved in His life. Jesus Christ did not only die; He did not remain dead, but rose from the dead; He is alive. He lives forever, and we will also live forever. Just as it is God’s own righteousness which has been imputed to us, that we may be perfect in Christ,[6] we share in His resurrection life, through faith in the blood of His cross. His resurrection has saved us from death, because in Him we have life.

11     Yet not only (this), but also boasting in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through Whom we have now obtained the atonement.

Not “only” – our redemption does not stand isolated from the rest of our life; we aren’t ‘saved’ to simply get on with the mundane distractions of earthly existence. Rather, we are saved and we may boast – proclaim the goodness of some benefit or advantage of our own – that God has given us His atonement, the covering of our sin on the basis of our faith. This is a tremendous gift; a grace unequalled in all history – no other religion makes such a claim, no other person can offer such a prize. In our own strength, we could only ‘boast’ of failure – failure to fulfill, to perform, to conform, to excel. But in Christ Jesus, we are redeemed, bought back from our wickedness, failures, foolishness, weakness, and restored to life by the incredible grace of God. This is a story that must be told; good news that must be proclaimed, and we who have received it have this tremendous boast which we may and must proclaim throughout the world.

12     because of this, even as through one man (human – anthropos) sin entered the world and through sin, death, and thus to all humans death passed through on which all sinned. (latter phrase is awkwardly written: και δια της αμαρτιας ο θανατος και ουτως εις παντας ανθρωπους ο θανατος διηλθεν εφ ω παντες ημαρτον – and through the sin the death and thus into all (pl m.) humans the death through-came (or through-passed) on the all sinned)

Sounds like it should read: and through the sin, (came) the death and thus to all humans the death came on all those who sinned”

These verses are often misused to make points that are not made by the author. It is important to permit the text to speak for itself and not to impose upon it a ‘meaning’ that simply isn’t there. Paul confirms what Genesis recorded; God created a ‘good’ world, with ‘very good’ human residents. Sin had not entered; in fact, Adam nor Eve had any knowledge of evil; it had not happened near them or by them; they were strangers to the concept.

Some people blame God for the first human failure: if God had not told them to not eat the tree, or if God had not put the tree into the garden, they would not have disobeyed this one command, sin would not have entered, death would not have entered, and the world would have been a great place to live. But this argument isn’t quite true.

First of all, sin occurs when anyone thinks, wants, or does anything opposed to the Person, nature, will, purpose, or instruction of the Sovereign LORD. Sin is not dependant on having a ‘rule’ to break; a little child may never have been taught what it meant to lie, but he still may lie to get what he wants, and the lie is still sin.

Adam and Eve had plenty of possibilities for committing sin besides eating from the tree which God told them to leave alone. They could have lied, been selfish, lazy, nasty, or any other behaviour that is other than wholly right; and they would have been completely guilty. Without a ‘rule’, sin was simple; do something that wasn’t right. But when the ‘rule’ was added, the sin became more complex. Not only did they act in their own best interests – which in itself is wrong because it is selfish – but they first made the conscious decision to call into question the very nature and word of almighty God. With the command, Eve had no reason to wonder or doubt if what she would do might be wrong, nor could she have done wrong without malice. God had made perfectly clear what He required of them: Do not eat from [that] tree. Remember that the issue with the tree was not the fruit; there was nothing wrong with the natural fruit of the tree. The problem was that as soon as they violated any clearly-stated instruction given by God, they became knowledgeable of evil. They became personally, intimately associated with the violation of the person, nature, will, purpose, and instruction of the Sovereign Lord. It was not God’s desire that they become acquainted with wickedness, but He knew that they would ultimately commit wrong, and also that they would choose to disobey His clear command, bringing sin into the good and very good world which He had created. Sin entered the world through one man, Adam, inaugurating the season of death. As God warned him that if he ate from that ill-fated tree, ‘dying, you shall surely die’, immediately upon eating, death became part of the human experience. Adam was condemned and expelled from the paradise garden, and barred from any access to the tree of life. The tree of life symbolized Christ, the source of life. Cut off from his source, Adam was separated from life, and his body began to die. Adam’s one sin ushered death into the world, which then passed on to all who sinned. As Paul already demonstrated, all people who have ever lived, Jew and Gentile, are guilty before God of sinning; there are none who have passed through life without sin. Death came upon all sinners through Adam, but all men being sinners, all men must die.

What Paul did not say is that sin passed from Adam to all men. There is nothing here about having inherited a ‘sin nature’, this concept does not exist in Scripture, and has nothing to do with this passage. Men are not intrinsic sinners as part of the essence of who they are, but men are actual sinners as a result of how they are; this will be clarified more in chapters 7 and 8. At this point, it is sufficient to say that the concept of an inherited sin nature does not exist in this passage of Paul’s letter.

It is important to understand that death is not part of God’s express purpose for His creation. While nothing has happened or will happen that God did not already know, God’s intention for His universe was eternity, not temporality. When God placed Adam and Eve in the paradiseGarden, He placed the Tree of Life in that garden with them. They had full and free access to that tree any time; no restrictions of any sort were placed on them. The Tree of Life was symbolic; while it is doubtful that the natural fruit of that tree was no more efficacious than was the natural fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, participation with the first tree depicted the reality of everlasting life that Adam possessed prior to his sin.[7]

13    For until law, sin was in the world, yet not being accounted, being no law.

This sentence may seem confusing and contradictory. Paul has not said here that men were not considered guilty of their sin because The Law given to Moses had not yet been given. But the word ‘sin’ has the sense of breaking of Law, and one is not considered a lawbreaker if there is no law to break.

In the case of Adam and Eve, while it may have happened that they would commit any number of sins in their early days, only their open, flagrant, and deliberate violation of God’s one command constituted ‘law-breaking’. Adam’s violation of God’s spoken “law” was that imputed sin that made Adam a law-breaker, and guilty.

Paul wants his readers to understand that righteousness, or unrighteousness, are not defined in the Mosaic Law. Even though a person cannot be a law-breaker when there is no law to break – just as it was before Moses – a person can still be wicked even when there are no laws defining wickedness, as men were from Adam until Moses. So although there was no law before Moses, men were still sinful – “sin was in the world” – God did not apply sinfulness to their account.

14  But death reigned from Adam to Moses and over the ones not sinning in the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the One coming (Greek word is μελλοντος, root is μελω melo, translating to ‘to care’. Mello means shall, should, will, as in the sense of something expected, or going to happen. Strong’s gives: 1) to be about 1a) to be on the point of doing or suffering something 1b) to intend, have in mind, think to. Makes the word hard to translate properly; KJV, Young’s, and ISA all give a noun and adjective: One coming, One who is to come, One being about. But the word is a verb not a noun. The clause is “estin tupo tou mellontos” “a type of the (perhaps ‘that’) expected” seems to be the closest accurate rendering.)

“Death reigned”. Every person ever born has died, or will die. No matter how anyone has lived, no matter if they have never performed any wicked act, nor had any wicked thought or feeling, all have or shall die. Death is the only universal experience humanity shares. Even without the Law to break, and even among those who did not copy Adam’s offense, death was the final earthly experience of every person who entered the world; it’s influence was universal; it was sovereign over human-kind; there was no exception and no escape.

As Adam, one man with the power in his hand to do good or do evil, chose selfishness and rebellion against God even to the point of bringing death into the world – initiating a previously un-seen and never-experienced, eternal termination of earthly life that would affect every living soul thereafter – he served as a “type of the One coming” Who would have the power in His hand to do good or do harm, but with nothing personal to gain by His choice, chose self-sacrifice and demonstrated submission to God the Father to the point of bringing ignominious death upon Himself in order to restore what had been lost, and destroy the power of death for the benefit of every living soul who would ever live. And as death ‘reigned from Adam to Moses” even “over those not sinning like the offense of Adam”, so that all suffered regardless of their experience, so also would Christ’s death and God’s grace be offered to every living soul who ever lives, on the basis of faith in Christ – the basis upon which Adam lost life, would become the basis upon which Christ offered life again to those who would receive Him.

15        But not as the offense, thus also the gracious (free) gift; for if through the offense of the one, the many died, much rather (more) the grace of God and the gift in grace (which is) of the one human Jesus Christ, into the many super-abounded.

Paul continues to use his strong contrasts here in comparing the quality and nature of the single event that brought us death with the single event that restored life. While they are alike in that both death and restoration were introduced by a single individual and a single event, and affected the whole of humanity, the gracious gift of God was completely different from the offense in that the latter brought destruction and death to the whole world, while the former brought a fully-free gift and benefit to the whole world. One was a total and superlative negative experience and consequence, while the other was a complete and ‘superabundant’ blessing and benefit. The offense brought exclusive cost to the human family; the grace of God brought the offer of grace to the human family.

16        And not as through one sinning (is) the gift, for indeed the judgment from of (came through) one to condemnation, yet the gift out of many offenses into justification.

One man’s sin brought condemnation upon creation, but justification comes from the gift to cover ‘many’ offenses. One initial offense brought total destruction, but justification will cover the many offenses, rendering them powerless to death. One defeats all in Adam’s sin; but all is defeated by One in Christ’s death for the sins of the world.[8]Adam’s sin brought everyone into prison to death; Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection brought freedom to all who were imprisoned. One brought destruction; one brought restoration.

17        For if, by the offense of one the death reigns through (by) the one, much rather those obtaining the superabundance of the grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.

In the first equation, death is victor and rules over men. In the second equation, those who obtain the grace of God and His gift of righteousness are the victors who will reign in life through Jesus Christ. One and one – one brought death into power; One brought power unto life. As everyone receives the consequence of Adam’s sin, everyone who receives God’s grace receives the consequence of Christ’s death and resurrection.

What does it mean to ‘reign in life’? basileuo derives from basileus which translates to “king”. A king has jurisdiction and authoritative power over all of his domain. He may make and enforce laws, issue orders to his subjects, make plans for his possessions, and make decisions regarding the administration of his domain. Death once held this office over human experience, obligating all of us to become subject to it. But since Christ came for our sins, we who acquire his grace are free from the rulership of death; we have life which cannot be taken away or destroyed; we are able to live our lives in the Lord Jesus Christ without fear of the end of days, because we shall have no such end; we have passed from death to life,[9] and nothing that happens to or in our flesh has any power over us. Like Christ, even our bodies which still will die, will be raised to be like His when eternity begins its course.[10]

If we reign in life through Jesus Christ, we cannot be defeated by death. If we have acquired the gift of righteousness, we have received something that was not ours but became ours by Christ, and we cannot be made unrighteous; if we have been justified – declared righteous – we have what was not ours on the basis of other than our own righteousness, and cannot lose it on the basis of our own righteousness. Likewise, if we reign in life through Jesus Christ, nothing is above us except Jesus Christ; we cannot be made subject to anything else and therefore are free forever from the cause and the effect of sin and death.

18         Consequently then, as through one offense (is) into all humans into judgment, thus also through One, justification (is) into all humans to justifying of life.

Paul repeats this concept seven times in a row; clearly he wanted to ensure that no one continued to have any misconception of the condition of the whole or how it came about. Adam’s sin affected all humans; Jesus Christ’s atonement is likewise to all humans. There is no limit to the set of humans to whom justification through Christ is available, except to all those to whom Adam’s offense was effective to death. Adam’s offense brought judgment; Christ’s justification provides life.

19         For even as through the disobedience of the one person, the many were constituted sinful, thus also through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just. * “sinners … the many” and “just … the many” are all nominative case; could also be read as:
“For even as through the disobedience of the one person, the many sinful were constituted, thus also through the obedience of the One, the many righteous (just) were constituted.
(In the second clause, the word translated ‘sinners’ in KJV and YLT is the adjective hamartoloi = sinful; NOT the noun “sinner”)

‘The many’ sinful are made from – generated from – the one disobedient human, Adam.  We all come from Adam; we share his nature as human – fleshly, wilful, generally inclined to do what we perceive to be expedient or satisfying to our own desires of the moment. We are born from him and made like him. By introducing disobedience into human experience, Adam opened the door to all his progeny to follow sinful desires rather than trusting and obeying the God Who made us.

Some teach that Adam’s sin resulted in all of his offspring being sinners. But God very clearly repudiates this concept in His rebuke of Israel to Ezekiel in chapters 18 and 33 as we call them:

Ezekiel 18:

“1  And the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

2  ‘What is to (with) you, you who quote this proverb about the land of Israel, saying, “The fathers eat unripe grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”?

3  As I live’, says my Lord YHWH, ‘You have no further to quote this proverb in Israel.

4  Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die.

5  And that man who is righteous, and does justice and righteousness, he does not eat upon the mountains, and does not lift his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, his neighbour’s wife he does not defile, nor comes near to a separated woman,  and does not oppress a man; to the debtor he restores his pledge, seizes no plunder, gives his bread to the hungry, and has covered the naked with a garment; he does not give on interest, and takes no increase; he withdraws his hand from iniquity; he performs judgment in truth between man and man, he walks in My statutes, and observes My judgments to do truth: he is righteous; living, he shall live’, says the Lord YHWH.” (as contrasted to God’s warning to Adam that ‘dying, he shall die’ if he took the fruit of the forbidden tree)

10 And he has a son, a burglar, a shedder of blood, and he makes a brother of one of these, and he does not all of these (ie: does these bad things and doesn’t do these right things), and moreover he eats upon the mountains, and defiles his neighbour’s wife, he tyrannizes the lowly and needy, seizes pillage, does not restore a pledge, and lifts his eyes to the idols: he commits abomination. He gives with interest, and takes increase: and he lives? He shall not live: All of these abominations he does; dying, he shall die; his blood shall be upon him.

14  And behold, if he beget a son, and he sees all of his father’s sins that he does, and he sees and he does not (do) like them: he eats not on the mountains, and does not lift his eyes to idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbour’s wife, and tyrannizes no man, pledges no pledge, seizes no pillage; he gives his bread to the hungry, and covers the naked with a garment, he removes his hand from the lowly, he takes no interest nor increase, My judgments he performs, he walks in My statutes: he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; living, he shall live.’”

18  (But) His father: because extorting, he extorts, (he cruelly oppressed); pillaging, he pillages his brother; and what is not good he does in the midst of his people: behold: he dies in his iniquity. (depravity)

19  And you say, “Why does not the son bear the iniquity of the father?” When the son performs judgment and righteousness, and observes all My statutes, and does them; living, he shall live.

20  The soul that sins, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.’”

Ez 33:

10  And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, “Thus you say, saying that, ‘Our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and in them we waste away; how then shall we live?’”

11  Say unto them, “‘I live’, says my Lord YHWH, ‘I delight not in the death of the wicked; but rather the turning back of the wicked from his way and he lives. Turn back! Turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?’”’”

14  Again, when I say to the wicked, “Dying, you shall die”, and he turns from his sin, and does judgment and righteousness – the wicked restores the pledge, and repays the pillage (theft), he walks in the statues of life so as not to do iniquity; he shall live; he shall not die. All of his sin – his sins which he sinned, they shall not be remembered to him. He does judgment and righteousness; living, he shall live.

17  Yet the sons of your people say, “The way of my Lord is not equal” (fair, even). And their way is not equal.

18  In turning back of the righteous from his righteousness, and he commits iniquity, and he dies in them.

19  And in turning back of the wicked from his wickedness, and judgment and righteousness, in them he, he shall live.

20  And you say “the way of my Lord is not equal” (fair). Each man according to his ways shall I judge you, house of Israel.’”

The ancient Jews also wrongly believed that God would avenge the wrongs of the ancestors upon their successors, a misconception reinforced in their minds by the misunderstanding of God’s words to Moses, recorded in Exodus 20 after God’s statement that His people would not worship other gods. God told them that He would “visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate [Him].” It is clear from God’s words to Ezekiel that any righteous man will receive life as the reward of his righteousness, just as any wicked man will receive condemnation for his own unrighteousness. The Jews anticipated ill-favour with God based on the actions of prior generations, but God states in so many words that the son – the offspring – shall not carry the wrongs of the father, nor the father be responsible for the wrongs of their children, but every man will carry the consequences of their own deeds. This clear repudiation of the idea of successive condemnation should put the idea to flight among Christians who have been led to believe that God has declared every individual a condemned sinner on the basis of Adam’s initial sin, but like Israel misunderstood and misapplied God’s words to Moses at Mount Sinai, professing Christians today have been convinced of a demonic lie, failing to recognize the maligning of God’s justice and holy righteous character in the continued suggestion that God has appointed all humans since Adam sinful expressly and exclusively on the basis of Adam’s sin, and supporting that idea by the misunderstanding of these verses in Paul’s letter to Christians of Rome.

Every experience of Adam’s life was the universal first; nothing had occurred in the world prior to its occurrence in his experience ‘in the beginning’, and therefore every event was an inaugural event. When Adam defied God – wilfully set aside what God had told him in preference for what seemed to Adam to be a better choice for whatever reason – Adam brought sin into the world which had previously ‘known no sin’. Remember that God told him that the tree was that of the ‘knowledge of good and evil’. Until the first sin, humans were strangers to evil, and to its consequences including punishment. Adam began life knowing no sin, thereby being a type of Christ Who also entered the world knowing no sin. Unlike Adam, however, Jesus would continue life to its physical end, having no personal knowledge of sin. The first earthly man introduced knowledge of sin and experience of death and judgment into the world’s experience; the first heavenly man brought freedom from sin and everlasting life into the world’s experience.

But as Adam experienced sin in his own life, he also brought sin into the corporate human experience. Once Adam sinned, all men became knowledgeable of evil. He did not ‘make’ men sinners, but he did add sinfulness to the characteristic of human life. As with anything any person does, those with him become complicit to some extent by witness, awareness, and response, so also all humans with and after Adam’s sin became partners to the extent of experiential knowledge of evil in the world. He introduced to human experience the consideration of rebellion against God as one viable or possible option among a multiplicity of choices to be made. And as Adam wilfully rebelled against the clear command of God – to avoid a certain behaviour in order to avoid the knowledge of evil – so also men after him have chosen to rebel against God’s commands, bringing personal experience of sin .

God is very clear in the Ezekiel passages that He does not assign one man’s guilt to anyone other than that man, just as no one benefits from the righteousness of someone else. God does not consider the entire world guilty of Adam’s sin, nor does He condemn us all because our physical father Adam rebelled against God when we were not so much as a thought in a man’s mind. But by virtue of being the first, and the father of all humanity, Adam introduced the concept, the action, and the consequence of rebellion against God, which directly and necessarily has affected every person born since his time through example, instruction, and destruction of life. We are all the offspring of a sinful man, and have learned well to be sinful ourselves.

20         But law entered (pareiselthen – lit. crept in) that the offense should increase; but where the sin increases, the grace over-exceeds (lit: over-super-abounds)

Where no law is, no transgression, which means to break law, is possible. The word hamaria literally means ‘miss the mark’.  therefore sin is not imputed when there is no law. (4:15, 5:13) Without a clear expression of right and wrong to define and certify what constitutes acceptable behaviour, the case for assigning guilt is difficult if not impossible. Jesus told the Pharisees that if they had been blind, they would have had no sin. Blindness is the essential condition of being unable to see. If you cannot see, you cannot perceive nor identify the circumstances of the environment in the absence of some other source of information. Men were doing what was wrong without the ‘benefit’ of a clarifying identification and description of wrong to teach and warn them. By introducing a law – a prescription of what is right and wrong – God took away both the opportunity for ignorant error, and the excuse that could be offered against any judgment of guilt due to the absence of information that identified any particular behaviour as wrong. No longer could any man ever argue against condemnation by saying, “I didn’t know! You never told me!” Now men would certainly know what was acceptable behaviour, and could, if they would, choose to conform their choices to what was now clearly identified as ‘good’ in the eyes of God.

The other side of that coin is that, once men know what is right and wrong, every time we choose to do wrong, we are doubly guilty; we not only perform a deed that of itself violates some aspect of God’s nature or His purpose for His creation, but we do it knowingly and willingly, which makes it a rebellious action rather than just an error.

This fact is illustrated in God’s assignment of sin to Adam but not to Eve. Both Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s clear prohibition against consuming fruit from the tree assigned with the title of the “knowledge of good and evil”. But God had spoken directly to Adam in the beginning of his time in the paradise garden, and Adam knew first-hand and without question what God’s requirement was pertaining to that fruit. The account of the garden appears to show God providing Eve to Adam after His placement of Adam into the garden and His communication of His expectations of Adam. If this is correct as it appears to be, Eve’s knowledge of God’s instruction was based on Adam’s communication to her. Paul told Timothy that Eve had been deceived (1 Tim 2:14); whereas Adam sinned. Apparently Eve was misled to believe other than what she first believed herself to understand or know regarding eating from that tree. Adam had no such misconception because God had given Adam that ‘law’ of the tree: do not eat from it, or you shall die. What Eve did was wrong, and firstly because she second-guessed what she believed God to have said, but sin was not imputed to her as it was to Adam who had been told in directly by God.

But God is a gracious God, and when He extends mercy, it covers all sin. As ‘large’ as sin may grow, God’s grace grows beyond it to cover every sin, for every man who will receive Him in faith.

21         that even as the sin reigns in the death, thus also the grace should reign through righteousness into life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sin reigns in death because all who sin shall die. But grace reigns – literally takes rule over – because righteousness is imputed to sinners through Jesus Christ, releasing us from death – the effect of sin – and bringing us into everlasting life. The righteousness of God is imputed to sinners when we trust Christ for salvation.[11] Life conquers death, righteousness overcomes sin, and God’s grace – that unmerited favour – is the victor in the contest, because what is extended without merit is the mechanism – righteousness – by which death is replaced with eternal life! The entire transaction changes and that which destroys is destroyed by that grace which over-exceeds all of sin and death.

[1] Eph 4:30

[2] John 14, 16

[3] Matt 10:22, John 15:18-21

[4] 1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:26; Heb 4:15; John 1:29; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 4:2; Isaiah 42:13

[5] Romans 4:20

[6] Romans 3:22; 2 Cor 5:21

[7] Genesis 3:22

[8] John 1:29

[9] John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

[10] 1 John 3:2

[11] Romans 3:22; 2 Cor 5:21