Friday, December 31, 2010

Romans 5

I'm going to deal with Romans 5 in two sections: verses 1-11 first with some brief comments and verses 12-21 with some more in-depth comments.

I will be quoting from the English Standard Version.

[5:1] Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. [2] Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. [3] More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, [4] and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, [5] and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
[6] For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. [7] For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— [8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [9] Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. [10] For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. [11] More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
(Romans 5:1-11 ESV)

First some claim that this chapter is about sanctification. However that is simply not the case.

What do I think this section is talking about then:

Paul in this section is expounding the benefits and results of Justification by faith. That is why the "therefore" or "because" is there for.

Instead of the estrangement and enmity of 3:10-17, verse 1 tells us that there is peace with God.

Instead of falling short of God's glory through sin mention in 3:23, verse 2 says there is the hope of glory and access to God's presence.

Instead of suffering under judgment like in 2:5-6, verses 3 though 5 say there is joy in tribulation because of what God produces through it by his Spirit. Here is your reference to sanctification, but notice it is mentioned in passing as a result and benefit of Justification by faith. Paul's more full treatment of sanctification is chapter's 6 though 8.

Instead of fearful uncertainty like in Hebrews 10:27, in verses 6 through 8 there is assurance of God's love.

In verses 9 and 10 Paul argues from the greater to the lesser. If God has done for us the greater thing in the suffering and death of his Son, he will also give us the lesser thing, that is, he will give us final salvation.

So Paul ends this section in verse 11 by telling us one of the best benefits and results of Justification by faith, and that is joy in God.

Onward to the next section....

[12] Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— [13] for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. [14] Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
[15] But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. [16] And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. [17] For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
[18] Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. [19] For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. [20] Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, [21] so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Romans 5:12-21 ESV)

What do I think this section is talking about:

In the second half of this chapter Paul expands upon the blessings, benefits, and results of Justification by faith by introducing the greatest blessing, benefit, and result of them all: the triumph of Christ's work over the inherited guilt of Adam's sin. Paul is trying to show how one person's death can provide salvation to so many. The proof for this claim is Adam. Adam proves that it is possible for one man's actions to affect many other people. We see here a comparison between Adam's disobedience and Christ's obedience.

In verse 12 Adam is portrayed as the federal head or representative of all those who are in the old creation. Christ is later presented as the federal head of all those who are in the new creation. A federal head is someone who acts on the behalf of all those who are under him, kind of like the president. Adam was the representative of humanity. As a result of his one sin, human death entered the world.

The context shows that Paul is not talking about actual sins that people commit every day of their lives, because the entire section is about the comparison between Adam and Christ. When Paul says "so" in "and so death spread to all men because all sinned", he is saying that through the sin of Adam "all men sinned". All men sinned in Adam. The word translated here as "so" is hutous and it means "thus, in this way", that is through Adam's sin. Adam was the federal head of the race and acted on behalf of us all. When Adam sinned everyone sinned. The text doesn't say "because all men sin", it says "because all men sinned". It's past tense, so when did all men sin? When Adam sinned. The idea is that "all men sinned" means that God thought of us all as having sinned when Adam disobeyed.

This is proven by verses 13 and 14. Here Paul shows us that from the time of Adam until the time of Moses, people did not have God's written laws. Although their sins were "not counted" as violation of the law, yet they still died. Although Adam violated a commandment specifically revealed to him by God, those who lived from Adam to Moses didn't sin that way because they didn't have that revelation. Yet they still died. There was no law, sin can't be imputed to them, but they still died. The fact that they died is very good proof that God counted people guilty on the basis of Adam's sin.

The idea that God counts us guilty because of Adam's sin is also proved in verses 18 and 19. Notice the key phrase in these verses: "For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners". Paul says explicitly here that through Adam's disobedience many were made sinners. The word for "made" is katestathesan. Here it is the aorist indicative. This means that it is a action completed in the past with results stretching into the future. As our representative Adam sinned, and God counted us guilty as well as Adam. He imputed Adam's guilt to us. Adam's guilt belongs to us.

If you say, "that is unfair", let me point something out to you. If you think that it's unfair for all of us to be represented by Adam, then we should also think that it is unfair for us to be represented by Christ. If you don't think it's fair to have Adam's guilt imputed to us, then it is also not fair to have Christ's righteousness imputed to us.

So notice that this section is all about the benefits, blessings, and results of Justification. Adam, the first man, was the God appointed representative head of the entire human race. His sin forfeited righteousness for all those he represented. In the same way, God made Christ the representative head of a new humanity so that his obedience to death might gain the justification of all who believe. The results is that salvation in Christ reverses the effects of Adam's fall and our inherited guilt. Notice the comparison in verses 15 to 19:

Look first at Adam:

Through one man's trespass:

Through one man's trespass many died.
Through one man's trespass judgment and condemnation followed for everyone.
Through one man's trespass death reigns on everyone.
Through one man's disobedience all are reckoned sinners.

Through the free gift:

Through the free gift grace abounded for many.
Through the free gift brought justification for many.
Through the free gift life reigns.
Through the free gift many are made righteous.

In verses 20 and 21 Paul says that the specific laws of Moses were added to increase sin in the lives of unbelievers. This gave God occasion to be even more gracious by forgiving sins, and he did this through the Jesus Christ. His atonement outweighs the sinfulness of both our actual sins and our inherited guilt from Adam.

What Paul teaches here has been called "Original Sin" and the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith (Ch. 6 Sec. 3-4) along with similar wording in the 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith (Both Puritan confessions) summarise Original Sin this way:

The family of man is rooted in the first human pair. As Adam and Eve stood in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of their sin was reckoned by God's appointment to the account of all their posterity, who also from birth derived from them a polluted nature. Conceived in sin and by nature children subject to God's anger, the servants of sin and the subjects of death, all men are now given up to unspeakable miseries, spiritual, temporal and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus Christ sets them free.

The actual sins that men commit are the fruit of the corrupt nature transmitted to them by our first parents. By reason of this corruption, all men become wholly inclined to all evil; sin disables them. They are utterly indisposed to, and, indeed, rendered opposite to, all that is good.

Grace and peace,

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