Romans 5:1-21

Submitted by admin on Fri, 2009-03-13 12:11.

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As a consequence of having been justified, acquitted, or forgiven of sins, believers can enjoy “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Their justification has its source in faith (it is, literally, “out of faith”). This is the faith that the Son of God died sacrificially and thus made it possible for humans to be declared guiltless. (5:1)

The form of the Greek word for “have” is not the same in all the extant manuscripts. Paul is represented as saying either “we have peace” or “may we have peace” (“let us have peace”). This peace is a state of reconciliation with God. Having been forgiven of their sins, believers are no longer at enmity with him. Through Jesus Christ, peace has come to be their possession. Only by believing in him and the value of his sacrifice is alienation with his Father terminated. (5:1; compare Ephesians 2:11-18.)

Through Christ, believers have access to God’s grace, unearned favor, or unmerited kindness. Admittance into his favor involves having an approved relationship with him as his children and coming to enjoy all the blessings associated with being members of his beloved family. According to many manuscripts, this access to God’s favor is “by faith,” signifying trust in him and his means for being reconciled to him. The words, “this favor in which we stand,” indicate that believers are now living in the realm of God’s favor and benefit from his help, guidance, and blessing. (5:2)

In prospect for believers is the “glory of God,” becoming sharers in God’s glory or splendor upon being able to reflect his image faultlessly in the future sinless state. The hope of sharing in the divine glory occasions a proper pride or boasting. In view of the unparalleled greatness of God’s glory, the hope of attaining it likewise gives rise to a joyous pride or exultant confidence that transcends any feeling of pride a recipient of mundane honors for notable achievements might experience. (5:2; see the Notes section.)

The taking of pride to which Paul referred is not a boasting about self. Therefore, he could say, “let us boast in sufferings.” Affliction is not associated with honor, and, from a human standpoint, would not prompt boasting. The basis for an individual’s taking pride in sufferings would be from recognizing the strength God provides for remaining faithful and the spiritual benefits that can result. So, for believers, “not only” is joyous pride associated with their hope, but even now they can take pride in their sufferings. J. B. Phillips, in his translation, paraphrased the apostle’s words, “This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys — we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles.” (5:3)

Believers know that suffering while remaining faithful to God and his Son produces endurance, steadfastness, or patience. (5:3) Empowered by the strength God supplies through his spirit, they are able patiently and steadfastly to pass through the period of affliction and are in a better position to endure other trials they may have to face.

Endurance produces that which is tested, approved, or genuine. Those who remain steadfast in their faith in God and Christ during the time of their affliction come to possess a tested faith that has been revealed as genuine. The tested or approved condition produces hope, for the experience of being sustained in affliction proves to the one who has endured faithfully that God can be relied upon and that hope based on his word or promise is certain to be fulfilled. (5:4) Those who possess a faith that has been tested by affliction come to be persons filled with hope, confident that God will continue to care for them, bless them richly, and prove to be their rewarder.

Never will this hope become a cause for shame or disappointment because of failing to be fulfilled. The hope itself has been engendered by God’s love. In his very being, our heavenly Father is love and so will always deal with his children in a loving manner. The apostle Paul linked hope to this love, adding, “for the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy spirit that has been given to us.” (5:5)

The Greek verb ekchéo, meaning “pour out,” may point to an abundant bestowal of love, filling the heart or the inner self. “Love of God” can signify God’s love for believers, love like his (godly love), or the love believers have for God. Based on verse 8, which specifically focuses on God’s love for believers, the preferable meaning in verse 5 would also be the love God has for those who respond in faith. Upon putting faith in Jesus Christ and becoming recipients of God’s spirit, the inmost selves of believers are filled with a profound awareness of their heavenly Father’s love for them. Therefore, they are confident that hope based on the word or promise of their loving God could never lead to disappointment.

Ancient manuscripts vary in the way Paul introduces the next thought, either reading “for yet” or “if indeed” (since indeed) in relation to when Christ died. He died for the impious or ungodly at the right or divinely appointed time. (Compare Galatians 4:4, 5.) Humans were then (“still,” according to numerous manuscripts) in a “weak” or helpless condition, unable to liberate themselves from enslavement to sin. Their condition was that of wrongdoers deserving to be punished. (5:6)

In their sinful state, humans are neither faultlessly upright nor good. In a relative sense, though, others may regard a person as an upright or good man or woman. Righteous or upright persons would be those who conduct themselves in a law-abiding manner, not being guilty of living a life that repeatedly harmed others. Good men and women would be those who do more than what is expected of them, compassionately responding to the needs of others and being self-sacrificing. The good person is far more likely to win the affection of others than would individuals who merely do what is required of them. Therefore, as Paul indicated, it would be difficult to die for a righteous person, though possibly one might even dare to die for a good person. (5:7)

Yet, what humans would find extremely difficult or, in fact, impossible to do God has done. He proved his love for us by having Christ die for us while we were still sinners, neither upright nor good in his sight. (5:8)

The precious blood that Jesus shed when dying sacrificially made it possible for those who accept this provision for having their sins forgiven to be justified or counted by his Father as righteous. In view of the fact that believers are justified by Christ’s blood, which made it necessary for him to die for them, now that he is alive he will continue to be their advocate. He will save them from the wrath that is to come against those who defiantly persist in unbelief and rebellion against his Father. (5:9; compare 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.)

For those who were God’s enemies, the death of Jesus Christ resulted in their reconciliation to his Father. Now that believers have been “reconciled to God through the death of his Son,” they can be even more confident about being saved by “his life.” As the one who now lives, Jesus Christ is in position to save them from the coming wrath and to safeguard their real life, the enduring relationship with him and his Father. (5:10)

The words, “but not only,” are probably to be linked to the previous reference to being “saved by [Christ’s] life.” Not only are believers saved by his life, they also can “take pride in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom [they] have now received reconciliation.” (5:11; see the Notes section for additional comments.) This taking pride or glorying in God would be on account of all that he has done for believers by means of his Son. In God or in their new relationship with him as persons reconciled through his Son, believers have every reason for exultant confidence.

The expression diá toúto, meaning “therefore” or “for this reason,” serves to link the words that follow to the preceding comments about reconciliation with God having been made possible through Jesus Christ. The thought appears to be that the need for reconciliation proved that an alienating element, sin, entered the world of mankind. Through the one man, Adam, sin (the inability to reflect the image of God faultlessly) entered the human sphere of life. The introduction of sin or of this fatal flaw also marked the entrance of death, which then spread to all humans, for all had sinned, missing the mark of flawless conformity to the image of God on which their relationship with him and, therefore, their life depended. (5:12)

It appears that the Greek word gár, meaning “for,” is a marker of reason. Death spread to all mankind because all sinned, “for,” once having gained entrance into the world, sin remained, without interruption, clear down to the time the Israelites received God’s law through Moses. Whereas “sin” or the breaking of a law cannot be charged to anyone if no law exists, humans continued to die, proving that sin had entered through the one man and had remained in the world of mankind. (5:13)

So, as Paul said, “death reigned from Adam to Moses,” although the descendants of Adam had not sinned in the likeness of his transgression (a transgression that was a violation of a specific command or law and brought sin and death into the world). Regarding Adam, the apostle added that he was the image or “type of the one to come.” This coming one would be Jesus Christ. (5:14)

The context deals with the extent of the effect of what Adam and Jesus did. Therefore, Adam, in the far-reaching effect his one sin had, is a type of the all-encompassing effect Jesus brought about through his sacrificial death. Adam became the father of a sinful human race in a state of alienation from God. Through Christ, sinful humans come to be God’s approved children in possession of eternal life, enjoying an enduring relationship with him and his Father.

There is a marked distinction in the effect between Adam’s one trespass and the “gracious gift” (the unmerited divine favor that made forgiveness of sins possible on the basis of Jesus’ sacrificial death). On account of Adam’s one trespass, many died (for all had come to be sinners through him). This meant that all humans needed to be freed from the death-dealing effect of sin, requiring an act that would produce a counteracting effect on a far greater scale. Accordingly, much more would the grace or favor of God and his free gift “in the favor of the one man, Jesus Christ,” abound to many. (5:15)

The “favor of the one man, Jesus Christ” is the unmerited favor or kindness God made available through him. God’s free gift (in the person of his Son and what God accomplished through him) is an expression of his favor or kindness, bringing liberation for the many from the sin with which they had been infected. The sacrificial death of Christ was sufficient to offset past, present, and future sins, with the favor of being forgiven and reconciled to God extending to all who would avail themselves of it.

When it comes to the free gift (in the person of Jesus Christ and the reconciliation his Father effected through him) the result is very different from the consequences of Adam’s sin. The adverse judgment expressed against Adam for the one transgressions meant that all his descendants came under condemnation. All of them, as offspring of a condemned sinner, shared his flaw, making it impossible for any one of them to reflect the image of God faultlessly. Accordingly, “out of one [transgression]” came condemnation. The gracious gift (in the person of Jesus Christ and the reconciliation with his Father that his sacrificial death made possible), after many trespasses had been committed, brought about justification or acquittal. Thus, through the gift, “out of many trespasses” came pardon and an approved relationship with God. (5:16)

By the trespass of the one man Adam, death began to reign or exercise dominion. Thus, through the one man, death began to rule over all his descendants. That being the case, much more will the recipients of the abundant grace or unmerited favor (pardon on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice) and the free gift of righteousness (a right standing with God as his approved children) reign in life through Jesus Christ. This reigning in life is not a rule over others. As the context indicates, this is a reign free from sin and condemnation. The Greek verb for “reign” is future tense, indicating that believers would be granted the fullness of life in the sinless state. Liberated from sin in the absolute sense, they would be reigning in life, completely freed from the rule of sin. Only through Jesus Christ would such reigning in life be possible. (5:17)

“Therefore,” as Paul continued, “through one trespass” the result has been condemnation for “all men” or all members of the human family. Thus also “through one righteous act” (Jesus’ surrendering his life to make forgiveness of sins possible) “all men” could be justified “for life.” (5:18) All who embrace the arrangement for being put right with God through faith in Christ come to enjoy the real life as forgiven persons whom God approves.

Through Adam’s disobedience, “many” (meaning all but with an emphasis on the great number) came to be sinners alienated from God. So also, through Christ’s obedience, which included laying down his life sacrificially in keeping with his Father’s will, many will be made righteous or persons acquitted of their sins and reconciled to his Father as beloved children, sharing in blessings far grander than Adam enjoyed in his sinless state. (5:19)

Prior to the giving of the law, humans proved to be sinners, for they failed to conduct themselves according to their conscience, their inner sense of right and wrong. Then, upon making its entrance long after sin had done so, the law caused trespassing to multiply. On account of the law, many more attitudes and actions were identified as sins and those who failed to live up to the law stood condemned as sinners. With the law identifying many more sins, it caused sins to be manifest in far greater number than prior to its institution. The divine favor that made forgiveness possible served to negate this result from the law. As a consequence, “where sin increased, [unmerited] favor abounded much more.” (5:20)

The gracious favor or unmerited kindness God expressed in giving his Son led to pardon for sinners, reconciliation with him, and the bestowal of sonship. Forgiveness of many sins and all the blessings associated therewith meant that God’s favor abounded to a greater extent and in a more powerful way than did sin. The yield in beneficent results from this unearned kindness is far more plentiful than the crop of injuriousness that Adam’s transgression produced and which the law exposed.

Sin reigned or exercised its dominion “in death,” for all sinners are subject to death. Unearned favor, on the other hand, rules “through righteousness.” On the basis of God’s favor extended to those who put faith in Christ and the forgiveness of sins made possible through him, believers are counted as righteous or upright. Therefore, under the dominion of righteousness, the result is “eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This is the real life of an enduring relationship with God and his Son. That permanent approved relationship constitutes the real life and is only available through the Lord Jesus Christ. (5:21)


In verses 2 and 3 of Romans chapter 5, the Greek verb kaucháomai basically means to boast, to take pride in, or to glory. This is a proper taking of pride that gives all credit to God and his Son and is associated with an inner sense of joy.

Some have understood the words of Romans 5:11 about boasting in God to be linked to Romans 5:3, where the reference is to boasting or taking pride in sufferings. The thought would then be that believers not only glory in sufferings but also glory in God. Verse 3, however, is followed by numerous intervening thoughts, making this connection less likely.