posted on Oct, 11 2019 @ 05:02 PM
Paul has been explaining the gospel as the revelation of the righteousness of God.
He has shown why the gospel must be based upon faith, and not upon the works of the law.
So the next task is to explain why that faith needs to be based upon Jesus Christ our Lord.
Summing up briefly, it is through Christ that we were justified by faith, and reached our present state of peace with God (ch5 v1).
For the grace in which we now stand was made available to us by his means.
We also rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God, standing in his presence.
Remembering, of course, that there is nothing tentative about the New Testament understanding of “hope”, which should be seen as “faith directed
towards the future”.
(Pursuing the course of the argument, I move on to v6)
We were weak, in our former condition, unable to stand firm in our strength.
Then Christ died, for our benefit, at the appropriate time (so there is no point in asking why the event did not happen earlier).
That is the measure of God’s love for us, that this righteous man died for us while we were still ungodly sinners.
Even more remarkable, because it would not happen the other way round; we ungodly sinners would not be willing to die for the righteous man.
(Despite the attempts of commentators to explain the intrusive remark that “somebody might die for a good man”, I can’t help thinking
that it spoils the contrast which Paul is making here, and rather misses the point.)
We have now been justified “by his blood”. That is, by virtue of the fact that he died.
It follows that we shall be saved from the wrath of God by the same means, since the wrath was the consequence of not being justified (v9).
Putting that another way; We were “enemies” of God, in our former condition, but now we have been reconciled, through the death and resurrection
of Christ, and that is what saves us from the wrath.
Not just “reconciled”, in fact; we may now positively rejoice in the relationship with our God, made possible through that reconciliation.
Paul explains the difference in our condition in terms of the contrast between two men.
On the one hand, Adam brought sin into the world, which brought the human race into a state of death.
My own preferred way of expressing this idea is that Adam represents the independent will of humans in general, setting itself against the will of
God, and therefore choosing to live in disobedience.
(Pursuing the course of the argument, I move on to v15)
“But the free gift is not like the trespass…”
When Paul began the sentence in v12, he had been intending to say “Just as Adam brought sin into the world, so Jesus Christ took it away
However, he now abandons that sentence construction in order to focus on the contrast instead of the similarity, showing that the impact of Christ was
greater than the impact of Adam.
The point is made repeatedly, in a total of six different ways, up to the end of the chapter.
Through one man’s TRESPASS, many DIED;
but the FREE GIFT of that one man Jesus Christ ABOUNDED for many.
So the essential difference is in quality rather than number, and that will be the case in the other versions of the contrast.
The JUDGEMENT following ONE trespass brought CONDEMNATION;
but the FREE GIFT following MANY trespasses brings JUSTIFICATION.
Through one man’s TRESPASS, DEATH reigned;
but those who receive the FREE GIFT of righteousness will reign in LIFE through the one man Jesus Christ.
One man’s TRESPASS led to CONDEMNATION for all men;
but one man’s ACT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS leads to ACQUITTAL and life for all men (in principle).
By one man’s DISOBEDIENCE, many were made SINNERS;
but by one man’s OBEDIENCE many will be made RIGHTEOUS.
Here, I think, we get to the heart of the operation of atonement; the obedience of Christ cancels out the endemic disobedience of the human race.
Finally, Paul moves beyond Adam to touch on the contribution of the Law.
The Law had the effect of increasing trespass, if only by making it more self-conscious and therefore more culpable.
Nevertheless, where sin increased, grace abounded even further. Consciousness of sin might help to promote repentance.
With the result that while SIN reigned in DEATH;
GRACE would reign through righteousness to ETERNAL LIFE.