1 - 2 Peace, Access and Hope; Past, Present and Future
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
Since these two verses are filled with wonderful thoughts, they need a separate section. It is good to memorize them.
From the previous sections you should better understand what it took to justify you. You have seen that everything originated with God.
V1-2. You received God’s righteousness and He has provided everything. You can rejoice! You have been justified, not by your works, but because you believed God. The result is that you have “peace with God”. Once you were living in rebellion against God. You didn’t listen to Him and you did your own will. You didn’t find enjoyment in doing God’s will at all. God judged your deeds very differently from how you judged them yourself.
When you saw God had the right perspective about you and that through the Lord Jesus Christ He has taken away all your sins, there is peace in your heart when you think of God. There is “peace with God” because all the righteous demands of God have been met. When you think of God you will feel rest, joy and gladness that He is with you. You can simply call on Him and talk with Him in your thoughts.
You are favored by Him. What a grace it is to have free access to God, the God who would have had to judge you for all your terrible sins. You can come to Him now without having to make an appointment or stand in line, and without fear He will send you away. You can tell Him everything that’s on your mind or that you are experiencing. He appreciates this demonstration of confidence in Him.
In the future you will be forever in God’s glory. You should rejoice in this hope. In the Bible hope is never something uncertain. Today, it indicates a degree of uncertainty. We say ‘I hope so’, when we mean we would like it to happen, although we are not certain it will happen. In the Bible, hope always represents a certainty, but of something still awaiting fulfillment. If you are hoping for something, it is not yet present. It is just the same with God’s glory. This is where you will be forever. But you’re still living here on earth.
However, that you will arrive in God’s glory is a fact beyond a doubt. It is even something in which to exult. The guarantee is not in your faith and strength, but is anchored in what God has done in raising the Lord Jesus. This has made you righteous (Rom 4:24-25). What a change has occurred in you! Remember Romans 3:23. You read there that you fell short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). Your sins had cut you off completely from Him. It is impossible for God to allow sin into His presence and into His glory. Now you have been justified and you look forward to it with all your heart. And so does He! What a miracle of God! What a reason to give thanks to Him!
When you come to God with all you have in your heart, He wants you to thank Him for all He and the Lord Jesus have done. Just lay this book aside for a moment to tell God what you have understood so far from this letter He wrote to you. Tell Him you love Him. Then you will experience what the Bible calls communion. You can talk with Him about things that are very valuable to you and Him. Do it right now and then you can continue reading.
Now read Romans 5:1-2 again.
Reflection: Memorize these two verses.
3 - 11 Exult in Tribulations and Exult in God
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath [of God] through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
V3. The word exult may make you think of being glad. Well, why shouldn’t you be glad when you see your future before you in verse 2? The prospect of being allowed to enter God’s glory gives you joy, even though you’re not there yet. You’re still on the way to glory and living a life on earth with all its cares and troubles. Is this something in which to exult or to be glad? Verse 3 reads: “We also exult in our tribulations.” Well, that sounds like a beautiful text, but you may wonder how it is possible. To make this possible you must first be able to say “knowing” with full confidence that all these tribulations are not happening at random.
If God permits difficulties to enter your life, He has a purpose for them. God uses the difficulties that confront you to prove the reality of your faith. It is not so difficult to have faith when everything is running smoothly in your life. It is only when difficulties come that you can show of what your faith is made. If your faith is real you will endure and keep on trusting God. Then you will not, at the first sign of trouble, lose your assurance. You will find these difficulties will only strengthen you because you know it is all in God’s hands and will never get out of His hands.
The real problem comes when a tribulation lasts longer than you think it should. This is when you will need “perseverance” or endurance. You must count on the faithfulness and help of the Lord to endure these difficulties that seem to have no end in sight. He will sustain you and give you the strength to endure.
V4. The result is that you will experience His support. This is the “proven character” that is spoken of in verse 4. You can feel His help. What a marvelous experience this is when surrounded by all these troubling things! The result of this experience is “hope”. Once you have the experience of who God is in your life, you will know He will never leave you, but He will bring you to where He wants you to be, in His glory. You can see how these things create a cause and effect.
V5. Now “love” is added to these things. Love is God’s nature. God is love and He has shed abroad His love into your heart. Things may be ever so difficult, but in your heart you have the conviction that God in His love will never lose grip of what is happening. You don’t have to carry out special things to experience this love of God. You don’t have the power to make yourself feel His love, just as you didn’t have the power to justify yourself before God. But now there is a new power source within us, “the Holy Spirit” who has been given to us. The Holy Spirit, being Himself God, has shed abroad God’s love in you.
V6-8. The strongest proof of God’s love is the fact that Christ has died for helpless and ungodly ones. Occasionally among men someone dies for another because the other is worth such a sacrifice, but that is not the way God loves. God demonstrates His love toward you, in that while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you.
God couldn’t find any attractive thing within you, but God is love. He gave Christ out of His own desire without you asking for it, because He is love. If God proved His love in such a way when you didn’t want Him, would He not in His love take care of you as long as you are still on earth?
V9. You have been justified by Christ’s blood. You belong to Him. God always sees Christ’s blood. He no longer sees you as a sinner, but in connection with the Lord Jesus. Christ is the guarantee that you will be saved from wrath. It is now impossible for God’s wrath to touch you. God’s wrath over you had its effect on Christ when He died for you. He bore your sins!
V10. You once were an enemy of God. You had to be reconciled to God. Now you’re no longer an enemy of God. You have been reconciled to God, and the Son of God is no longer dead. He lives eternally! Do you know why He lives? He is alive to save you. The phrase “shall be saved” means to guide safely through all life’s dangers and to bring you into God’s glory. Do you think He is able to do that? You can be sure of it!
V11. The third time the idea of exulting occurs is in verse 11: “We also exult in God.” This is the best way to exult. It is not exulting in the hope of the glory of God as in verse 2. Neither is it exulting in tribulations as in verse 3. In verse 2 and verse 3 the exulting is connected with the present and future. The future will one day reach its fulfillment and everyday life will one day come to its end. Therefore the exulting of verses 2-3 will one day end.
But with the exulting of verse 11 it’s different. It is rejoicing in God Himself as the Source and Origin of all blessings. Here you’re no longer talking about yourself and what you have received. God the Giver is before you in all His greatness. You may now rejoice in God through the Lord Jesus Christ through whom you now have received the reconciliation. To “exult in God” is something you can start with right now, and it will not cease even when we have arrived in the glory of God. Throughout eternity He will be the Subject of your admiration and adoration.
Now read Romans 5:3-11 again.
Reflection: Tell God what you think of Him. Tell God how you appreciate experiencing His love towards you from day to day, and for the gift of His Son.
12 - 14 Original Sin
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
V12. A new section of Romans begins here. It’s important for your spiritual life to think deeply about these verses. So far, Paul has talked to you about your sins, the deeds you did in disobedience to God. Paul told you that God has forgiven your sins and that He could do this based on the fact that Jesus Christ has shed His blood. God no longer sees your sins. He now looks at you as a righteous person, as someone who has a right to belong to Him. Nothing is left that hinders God from having you close to Him. This should make you feel at home with Him. Think again of the first two verses of this chapter.
Although you do not have any more problems about your evil deeds keeping you from the Lord, you probably have discovered you’re still capable of sinning. You don’t want to swear, steal, say bad things or hurt others anymore, yet these things suddenly happen. How can this be?
The answer is, You still have an evil nature. This thought can be compared to a tree. If you pick all the apples from an apple tree, all the fruit will be gone, but it will still be an apple tree. The following year the tree will again grow apples. The apples can be compared to our sins, the wrong deeds we have done. God has put away your sins, but their root is still within you. This is where those evil deeds come from. This root is sin still dwelling in us, which ruled us when we were sinners.
The remaining part of this chapter and the next two chapters explain what God has done with sin, with this evil nature. The way God dealt with sin living inside you, your evil nature from which your evil deeds come, was different from the way He dealt with the evil deeds. Therefore you should allow yourself enough time for the teaching of these chapters to become clear to you. This portion isn’t simple, but it is very important for you to understand it so your faith can grow balanced and healthy. This importance is indicated by the extensive treatment Paul gives to this subject.
Paul starts off in verse 12 by stating that sin entered into the world by one man, Adam, the first man. Death entered by sin. Therefore, sin and death are inseparable. In Genesis 2 God said to Adam: “But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). The serious consequence of Adam’s sin was not just limited to him. All people born after Adam have inherited from him the same evil nature.
Consequently all people who have ever lived have died, except Enoch and Elijah – both saved people – who were taken to heaven without dying. Nobody of Adam’s posterity has remained alive. In this, you can see how serious the consequences of Adam’s deed are. Since everyone sins, everyone makes it clear he is a descendant of Adam. But happily, as the next verses demonstrate, this is not all that can be said.
V13-14. Verses 13-17 form a parenthetical section. First, verses 13-14 say it was not just the Jew who was confronted with the problem of sin. Sin had been in the world long before the law was given to Israel: sin did not begin at that time. The only thing the law did was to command or prohibit something. As long as no law had been given, you could not trespass (overstep) the law. Therefore you could not be punished according to the law. But this doesn’t change the fact that death reigned.
Adam had violated a commandment not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and died. Everyone who lived in the time between Adam and Moses also died, even if they hadn’t violated such a commandment.
It is clear that by Adam and since Adam, sin and death entered the world. But death and sin do not have the last word. Where such terrible things entered by one man, Adam, another Man has come, Christ, Who has worked wonderful things. And so, in a certain sense, Adam is an example of Christ Who was to come. This is explained in the following section.
Now read Romans 5:12-14 again.
Reflection: Do you know events from your own or someone else’s life that had consequences for someone else?
15 - 21 Christ and Adam
15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like [that which came] through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment [arose] from one [transgression] resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift [arose] from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Here a comparison is made between Adam and Christ. They are both at the beginning of a generation of people. The whole of mankind can be divided into these two generations. Someone belongs either to Adam, the head of a generation fallen in sin, or to Christ, the head of a justified generation. The consequence of Adam’s deed extends to the whole group that belongs to him; the result of what Christ has done extends to the whole group that belongs to Him. This section is not easy to explain. We will consider it verse by verse. I will try to help you by showing the differences between Adam and Christ as they are mentioned in these verses.
Verse 15. Here the free gift, Christ given by God, and the transgression, Adam’s sin, are compared. Both the transgression and the free gift have far-reaching effects on others. The transgression of one, Adam, meant death for every person. Adam’s deed still works in his posterity. Happily, there is an opposite to this; it is the gift of God in Jesus Christ. This gift too, works in those who have accepted Him, and it extends far and wide beyond the transgression. Anyone who belongs to ‘the many’ will thankfully admit this. Don’t you?
Verse 16. Here the gift is compared to the act of sinning. The occasion for judgment was the result of a single sin. The need for our justification was our many transgressions (sins). God put them all away when He judged His Son at the cross.
Verse 17. Here the results are compared. The result of the transgression of the one, Adam, was that by him death entered the world and reigned over it. Now look at the result of the gift. Everyone who has received the gift of righteousness will reign in life. This is made possible by that other “One”, Jesus Christ. Someone who belongs to Him has passed from death into life.
Verse 18. Here we have the result of the single deed of Adam and the result of the single deed of Christ. The result of Adam’s single deed extends to all people, and that means condemnation for everyone. This refers to the one who belongs to Adam, the one who is unconverted, who will be judged. Likewise, the result of Christ’s deed extends to all people. Everyone can partake of the new life to which the judgment cannot reach.
Verse 19. In this verse you’ll find the last comparison: who now belongs to Adam and who to Christ. All sinners belong to Adam because he was disobedient. All righteous ones belong to Christ because He was obedient.
There is a difference between verse 18 and verse 19. Verse 18 says that “all men” are under judgment as a consequence of Adam’s deed, but on the other hand, all can be justified as a result of what Christ has done. So it is to whom the results of the deeds of Adam and Christ extend – to all people. But in verse 19, it is not ‘all men’ but “the many”. Here it is a matter of to whom the results of what Adam or Christ have done actually apply. One who belongs to Adam has been constituted a sinner. One who belongs to Christ has been constituted righteous.
Verse 20. When the law came, man was already a sinner, but the law made this much clearer because he transgressed (overstepped) it. So man was a hopeless case from the beginning and even more so when the law came. But what do you read next? “But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” God’s grace always surpasses the sin of man by far.
V21. For you it is no longer true that sin reigns through death. Grace reigns for you. Notice that grace reigns through righteousness, and not because one is living as if sin no longer exists. Grace has been shown to you because God’s righteousness is satisfied in Christ’s work on the cross. The result of this is that you have received eternal life. And later (no one knows how soon that may be) you will enjoy this life in all its fullness in God’s glory, all through Jesus Christ, our Lord. What a God we have, and what a Lord!
Now read Romans 5:15-21 again.
Reflection: Look for some more differences between Christ and Adam (for example, look up 1Cor 15:45).