Chapters 1-4 of Romans set the initial premise of Paul’s depiction of the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles. He has laid the foundation of our need for salvation in chapter 1, that all mankind fall into unbelief and reject the testimony of God; this leads to the corruption of sin. That both Jews and Gentiles are under sin, and need salvation because of our choosing against faith when God is revealed to us (Rom. 1:21); the law given through Moses does NOT provide our righteousness, but becomes the plumb line by which man will be judged. With this understanding Paul removes the sense of assumed security held by the Jews who received the law, and shows that bothe Jews and Gentikes have equal opportunity for salvation through faith, rather than through observance of the law. Salvation is, as Paul said as his thesis: ‘From faith to faith.’ (Links: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4)
Having thus laid the foundation of our understanding of salvation through faith, Paul will now begin to make a new case – no, not a new case, he begins to show he FURTHERANCE of this doctrine of salvation by faith. Paul follows the logic of this doctrine to its end, and its rammifications for our walk of faith, and finally for a broader understanding of the new dispensation which was found at Christ’s coming.
Now, in chapter 5, Paul will begin [finally – he has not yet heretofore] the ‘original sin,’ and its effects upon us: our need to be ‘born again.’
Paul has now shown all to be under sin, and in need of salvation (both Jews and Gentiles); he’s also shown us that salvation is the same for EVERYONE: we are saved by grace through faith. The Jews are not ‘grandfathered in’ to a different road to salvation through the law, rather, just like the Gentiles, their salvation must be by grace through faith, and their assumption to salvation through the law and the cirumcision only stands in their way to having faith. But even Abraham, the father of the Jews as to the flesh, was saved by faith; he is in fact the father not of the Jews, but of all them that live by faith. And that’s where chapter 4 leaves off.
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
This faith, specifically, is faith in Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for our sins; by belieiving in Christ’s salvation we have peace with God despite the fact that we have sinned (v. 1). By Jesus Christ, alone, we have access to this grace (v. 2).
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Not only are we saved by this grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but we can also rest so confident in this salvation that we know God’s favor is not lifted from us when we face trials. Isn’t that easy for us to assume? We go through something difficult, and naturally we question whether God really is with us… whether we really are saved. ‘Religion’ – or a form of teaching based upon the goodness of our works – leads us back inevitably to a sense of uncertainty in our standing with God; if the law was our salvation, we would have to be constantly re-assessing how well we are following it. Will we lose our salvation because we have failed, because we have sinned? This inner turmoil pervades our thinking when we have a mindset focused on salvation through works.
But, as Paul explains, a faith-based righteousness grants us the opportunity to ‘glory’ in our difficulties and tribulations. We don’t have to constantly wonder if God is punishing us for some infraction to the law: we trust God for our righteousness, and trusting God means believing fully in the complete salvation of Jesus Christ. No matter what goes wrong in our lives, we KNOW that God is with us; we KNOW we have eternal life, and so the difficulty will only teach patience, experience, and further enhance the hope of our complete redemtion at the end of the age when Christ returns.
By this salvation of faith, God is no longer (that is, ‘no longer’ in our minds, He never actually was:) the taskmaster constantly punishing us for our every infraction. Instead He is the ever-present help in time of need.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
‘When we were yet without strength…’ There are many things in this world which are outside of our control. Our own salvation was – and is – outside of our control. We cannot save ourselves, as Paul will go on to explain in chapter 7, we cannot even save ourselves from the cycle of sin in our lives. We are without strength to save ourselves, but we can TRUST in the One Who has power to save us. When we were without strength, Christ died to save us.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Paul here, along with showing the strength the power of salvation through faith rather than through observance of the Law, is also giving us reasons to trust in the goodness of God. There is sufficient reason to trust that God will save us, will even help us in our daily lives: He loved us enougn to die for us even whike we were sinners! Amen! He is 100% invested in saving us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Here Paul specifically points out this phenomena: when tribulation comes, it is not God’s wrath against you – in fact, if He loved you enough to die for you, you can be sure you will be saved from His wrath.
Paul’s commentary here really highlights the love of God to us – this is vital in the presentation of the Gospel; God’s wrath comes upon the ungodly – we are ungodly, and deserving of His wrath. Yet God loved us so much that even when we were only worthy of hell, he paid the price and penalty for us although we were His enemies.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
We are saved ‘by His life,’ this is a resurrection concept. Christ was raised to life after He took our punishment upon Himself; if his is so (as Paul discusses in much greater detail in 1 Cor. 15) we – in whose place He was punished – shall likewise receive the reward of His eternal life! This also is the begining of the teaching he about to go into regarding the effect of original sin: we are saved by the LIFE of Christ.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
In this begining of Paul’s discussion about the original sin, and its effects, notice that he expressly states that sin entered the world by MAN. We like to place the blame for sin upon things outside of ourselves. Theologically, we like to blame the devil as the originator of evil – some blame God outright. In fact this willingness to blame everyone else, rather than to take responsibility for sin is part and parcel of the origial sin; Adam blamed his wife, and less directly He blamed God FOR HIS OWN SIN: ‘The woman YOU gave me…’ (Gen. 3:12) While we like to ask God why HE allows wickedness in the world, recall, it is not He who brought wickedness into the world, it was man. We are responsible, and those things we often God for: murders, tortures, abuses, rapes, traumas of every kind; it is not God, nor even the devil responsible for these things, but us. On the day of judgment it is God who will be asking US why WE allowed such things, not we who will be asking Him. Recall what Paul said in an earlier chapter: Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
While we may not commit murder, or abuse, we still have rejected the testimony of God unto the degredation of sin, thus contributing to the evil in the world (who’s origin is the rejection of faith). We may condemn other’s sins to worse than our own, but that itself does not make us the more righteous… it just adds condemnation to us because we are also degraded with sin.
Paul is now going to begin speaking of the original sin, and its effects upon us. While many like to point to this teaching of Paul’s as the root of our own wickedness, we need to keep in mind the foundation which Paul has already laid: we each fall into sin because God reveals Himself to us, and we fail to glorify Him and give Him thanks (Rom 1:21); that is: we fail to have faith. Paul didn’t blame Adam for your sin, or mine, he has already taught clearly that our lack of faith is what led us to sin. This also fully complies with his thesis in this book that salvation is from faith to faith; faith is our righteousness, we fail to have faith and it leads to the corruption of sin. Paul has thus already taught us the origin of OUR sin (lack of faith). As he now speaks of the original sin, he is begining to lay a foundation for understanding the effect of the LAW upon us.
But as for this introductory verse, he declares that sin entered the world through man (Adam), ‘and DEATH by sin; and so DEATH passed upon all men…’ Now we must not cut this thought off from Paul’s overall narrative, in a preceeding verse (v. 10), Paul pointed out that we are saved by Christ’s LIFE. Now Paul is contrasting the life of Christ which saves us with the death of man – this comparison will be more obvious as he continues. Yet Paul declares that from Adam, we all inherit DEATH. God had told Adam that in the day he ate of the fruit, he would surely die (Gen. 2:17); Adam chose to believe the opposite – he rejected faith as do we all.
Adam disobeyed God, now the nature of death permeates him and his offspring (because God tells the Truth).
But, what does this death mean? because Adam had NOT eaten of the tree of LIFE in the garden, which according to God would cause him to live forever (Gen 3:22). So, we can conclude by Genesis 3:22 that Adam’s life was already temporary – i.e. his body would eventally perish and return to dust without eating of the tree of life. Yet, God declared Adam would die… neither did he IMMEDIATELY die… if his body was eventually going to wear out because he had not eaten of the tree of life anyways… did God lie when He told Adam he would die?
No, Adam and his wife died in the day they sinned; they became seperated from God, in disobeying God they had broken faith; their spirit-man perished. They would live out their lives temporal lives on earth and die the second death. They now were dead, if they would live forever, they must be born again (John 3:7).
This is why you and I must be born again – we are spiritually dead because this death of Adam was passed on to us; we are made alive by faith. The teaching of some skews this idea to an extreme, as though man sinned, and God placed upon us an intrinsically ‘sinful nature’ as an inheritance from Adam. That’s not what Paul is saying: he’s saying we all died spiritually in the original sin, faith makes us alive. When God reveals Himself to us to quicken us, we reject faith in Him – we reject spiritual life. Are we born with a ‘sinful nature’? Not as some systematic theologies teach it; we are born spiritually dead, and must be raised to life.
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Sin has existed in the world since the original sin, for as the previous verse told us: ‘as by one man sin entered into the world…’ The original sin (that sin of Adam) was the universal origin of sin in the world; God gave a commandment (a LAW) to Adam, which he broke: sin. Thus this principle which Paul described in the ealier chapters of the degradation into sin has been taking place in the world well before the Law was given. In this state, as Paul described earlier, men are judged not by the law, but by he defilement of their own conscience, and were judged thereby. Sin is not imputed where there is no law, we are not guilty of sin unless we… sin: commit an act against he law of God; where the word of God is not displayed, our conscience acts as a law in this regard as Paul has explained.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
Even though sin is not imputed where there is no law, death reigned from Adam until Moses (who gave the law). Spiritually we all are dead, thus we need to be made alive – born again whether we have sinned ‘after the similitude of Adam’ – that is to knowingly break a command of God rather than to merely defile our own conscience – (all have sinned at any rate whether or not it was ‘after the similitude of Adam’ because we fail to have faith in God and come spiritually to life.
Adam was a figure of Him that was to come, that is: Jesus Christ, yet Christ would succeed where Adam failed.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
Through the offense the condemnation of death is upon all men; so NOT as the offense of the figure of Christ (Adam) which condemns to death; yet likewise the free gift of True Christ – the gift of grace – is to all men. We need to be brought to life unto God by faith. This, again, why Christ declared that we must be ‘born again,’ or ‘born from above.’ We are dead, we must be made alive to faith; this free gift is to all men just as Adam’s offense and the condemnation of death was.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
The condemnation of death is upon us all because of the ONE original sin; the free gift of salvation through faith in tue death and life of Christ justifies us of ALL OFFENSES. We die because of one sin, we are made alive despite our MANY sins.
17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Now, ‘reign in life’ be aware, this turn of phrase is a return on the earlier statement that we are saved ‘by His life’ (v. 10); we reign in the life of Christ. We are given eternal life; His life supernaturally gives power to our own lives. Eternal life is knowing God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent (John 17:3); we know God through faith, in knowing Him, eternal live begins now. You are made alive through faith, born again.
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
We all were made sinners by the original sin: we are born spiritually dead. Because of our spiritual death, we are insensitive to the Spirit of God. When He is revealed to us we, being not alive to faith, heed and discern Him not; we glorify Him not as God, nor are thankful. As the inclination of our flesh is toward its desires, and these desires run contrary to our conscience (within our SOUL), and to the life of faith (our SPIRIT), we obey our flesh above both faith (spirit), and conscience (soul).
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Here comes the law again! Sin is not imputed where there is no law, but the law came that sin might abound. Now… wait a minute: did God add the law to make us fall into sin? No, we were already dead in our sin… but we were also unaware of it, and unaware of the judgment of death upon us. God sent the law, therefore to reveal sin, so that our station could become manifest to us. When the law was added, we could finally begin to see how corrupted we really are. Just as Paul points out in chapter 1 the degredation of homosexuality for example (yes, I’ll use this one intentionally because of current misconceptions about it) – the Gentiles had not known it was sin according to the word of God, and those who did not know (before the law) it was not imputed to… but the defilement of their conscience was.
The law was not added so that God could justify punishing us, rather the law was added to reveal to us our True condition; this does us no harm because were already under wrath for defiling our conscience, rather it unveils to us the fact that we are sinful.
When the law comes it exposes those things which we do which are sin, we become aware of the evil of our deeds… and continue in them anyways. Now the sin is imputed regardless of our conscience because we know that it is sin. The evil is made manifest by the light, but men loved darkness rather than the light because heir DEEDS were evil (John 3:19) – we prefer corruption because we are sinners.
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
So the law was actually added so that we could understand that we are sinners and need salvation; Christ came that all men might know the Truth and be set free from the power of death.