Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
(a) Justified; see entry for Rom. 3:28.
(b) Justified by faith. We are not justified or made right with God through our good works or law-keeping the law (see entry for Rom. 3:20). Rather, our justification is paid for with the blood of Jesus (Rom. 5:9) and comes to us as a gift of grace (Rom. 3:24, Tit. 3:7) that is received by faith (Rom. 3:28, Gal. 3:24).
(c) Peace with God. As a result of being justified, we are made righteous and have peace with God.
In the kingdom, peace always follows righteousness (Rom. 14:17, 2 Tim. 2:22, Heb. 7:2, 12:11). If you are more conscious of your sin than his righteousness, you will never enjoy peace with God.
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.
Our introduction by faith into this grace. Faith is the means by which we receive from the abundant provision of God’s grace. See entry for Eph. 2:8.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God demonstrates His own love. The cross of Calvary is the single greatest demonstration of unconditional love the world has ever seen. While we were enemies, he reconciled us (Rom. 5:10). While we were sinners, he died for us (1 John 4:10). Surely Jesus loves us more than he loves his own life.
Some worry that God loves them only when they are good. “When I sin, God withholds his love from me.” Nothing could be further from the truth. God loves you when you’re up and he loves you when you’re down. He loves you when you get it right, and he loves you when you get it wrong.
You need to settle this in your heart: God loves you. Period. Whether you’re in the zone or the gutter, the one constant you can count on is your Father’s unwavering love for you.
Further reading: “Is God’s love unconditional?”
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
(a) Justified; see entry for Rom. 3:28.
(b) Justified by his blood. We are not justified or made right with God through our good works or law-keeping the law (see entry for Rom. 3:20). Rather, our justification is paid for with the blood of Jesus and comes to us as a gift of grace (Rom. 3:24, Tit. 3:7) that is received by faith (Rom. 3:28, 5:1, Gal. 3:24).
(c) Saved from the wrath of God.. As a result of being justified, we have peace with God and are saved from his wrath (Rom. 5:1).
Neither Jesus nor the apostles ever preached be saved from hell. We are saved from our enemies (Luke 1:71) the chief of which is death (Ps. 33:19, 116:8). The effects of sin and death are felt in our fallen world, hence Peter’s exhortation to be saved from this perverse or corrupt generation, and Paul’s exhortation to be saved from the evils of the present age (Gal. 1:4). We are also saved from the wrath that God has towards his enemies.
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.
(a) Saved by His life. A dead savior saves no one, but a risen, living Savior is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through him (Heb. 7:25). The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates that the Savior has broken the power of death and is able to give new life to all who come to him.
(b) His life. Two kinds of life are described in the Bible; the psuche– or soul life we inherited from Adam and the zoe– or spirit life that comes from God (John 5:26). It’s the second kind of life that is described here. See entry for New Life.
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—
(a) Through one man. God gave Adam a planet to care for and Adam opened a door to sin.
(b) Sin entered. Not the practice of sinning, but a thing, a creature, a monster called sin. The word for sin here is a noun. See entry for Romans 6:14.
(c) Death through sin. There was no death in the world before Adam’s transgression. Death is the consequence or wage of sin (Rom. 6:23).
(d) And so death spread. Adam heeded the lies of the serpent and gave the devil the power of death over humanity (Heb. 2:4). Death spread like a contagion.
(e) All sinned because all were in Adam when he sinned. Adam’s transgression put him and his unborn offspring on Death Row (Rom. 5:14).
for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
(a) The Law refers to the Law of Moses, the commandments, ordinances, punishments, and ceremonial observances given to the nation of Israel through Moses (Jos. 8:31, John 1:17). This law is sometimes referred to as the law of commandments (Eph. 2:15) or the law of the Jews (Acts 25:8). See entry for The Law.
(b) Sin; see entry for Sin.
(c) Sin is not imputed. Paul is making a parenthetical statement. “Technically, no sin was recorded or imputed prior to the giving of the law (at Mt Sinai), but people still died on account of Adam’s sin” (see next verse).
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.
(a) Death reigned. Death is personified as a tyrant king reigning over the human race (Rom. 5:17). We leave the kingdom of death by coming to Jesus, the life-giving king (John 5:24).
(b) Death reigned from Adam until Moses. Moses represents the old law-keeping covenant or the ministry of death (2 Cor. 3:7). Sin under the old covenant, and the result was death. Yet people died prior to Moses on account of Adam’s offense (Rom. 5:12).
(c) The offense. The original word (parabasis, 3847) literally means a going over. Adam rejected God and went over to the dark side of the devil.
(d) The offense of Adam. Some translations describe Adam’s transgression in the legalist language of breaking a command, as though God was a law-giver and Adam a law-breaker. But from the beginning, God has revealed himself as a grace-giver. God gave Adam a planet to enjoy before Adam had done anything.
The forbidden tree was not an obedience test foreshadowing the old covenant, but an invitation for Adam to exercise his God-given freedom to trust his heavenly Father. Sadly, Adam rejected the Life-giver and put his trust in the Death-dealer.
(e) A type of Him who was to come. First Adam’s offense had consequences that affected us all. Similarly, last Adam’s obedience affects us all (see Rom. 5:18; Paul refers to Jesus as the last Adam in 1 Cor. 15:45).
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.
(a) The free gift is the gift of righteousness (see Rom. 5:17) that sets things right and leaves us better than before. The gift of righteousness comes to us through the Jesus the Righteous. Jesus is the Gift from which all other gifts (favor, forgiveness, eternal life, etc.) flow.
(b) The free gift is not like the transgression. The grace remedy is greater than the sin disease.
Jesus did not come to earth simply to undo Adam’s sin and return us to the Garden. Jesus gives us new life, such as Adam never had. Adam never enjoyed union with the Lord. Adam was never filled with the Spirit. Adam never ruled and reigned with Jesus.
Jesus did a complete number on us. If anyone is in Christ, he is a completely new creature. The new zoe-life we have in Christ is infinitely superior to the lonely and unaided life experienced by unfallen Adam. Adam tried to rule alone and failed, while we get to reign with Christ forever and ever.
Further reading: “What was Last Adam’s greater work?”
(c) The grace of God. God is love and love that stoops is called grace. Grace is what the unconditional love of God looks like from our side. Grace is love come down. See entry for Grace of God.
(d) The gift by the grace of the one Man. God gives us his righteousness on the basis of his grace (Gal. 2:21).
e) The one Man, Jesus Christ. The “one man” of verse 15 (Jesus) can be contrasted with the “one man” (Adam) of verse 12. Just as it took only one man to wreck the planet and it needs only one to save it (see also 1 Cor. 15:21).
(f) Abound. The original word for abound (perisseuo) means to super-abound. It’s related to the word abundance (perisseia) in verse 17. To this latter word, Paul will add the adjective huper– or hyper- in verse 20. God’s grace is super-hyper-grace.
(g) The many. Why many and not all? See entry for Romans 5:19.
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.
(a) The gift is not like the transgression. Paul repeats his point for emphasis: Last Adam did a greater work than first Adam. First Adam committed one transgression, but Last Adam dealt with billions of transgressions. All sin was done away with once and for all at the cross (Heb. 9:26). To the degree that grace super-abounds in the face of sin (Rom. 5:20), the gift is superior than the trespass.
(b) Condemnation… justification. There is a saying in sport that the pain of defeat is greater than the joy of victory. In God’s kingdom, however, grace is greater than sin and justification is greater than condemnation. The grace of God turns the devil’s defeats into greater wins for Jesus!
(c) Justification. The original word is a little different from the word that appears as justification in verse 18. The word here is a noun that means a just or righteous judgment while the word in verse 18 means an acquittal. Because of first Adam’s transgression, you were condemned to die. But because of last Adam’s obedience, the Righteous Judge has made a just judgment and acquitted you of all sin. God is no longer holding our sins against us (2 Cor. 5:19).
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.
(a) Death reigned. As in verse 14, death is personified as a tyrant king reigning over the human race. We pass out of the kingdom of death by coming to Jesus, the life-giving king (John 5:24).
(b) Those who receive. The key to reigning is receiving. We do not reign in life because we took a course on how to be a king; we reign when we receive the gift of his righteousness.
Nothing will get you to abdicate your kingly position faster than guilt and condemnation. This is why receiving the gift of righteousness is a key part of reigning in life. Grace (divine influence) reigns through righteousness. If you’re battling guilt, you won’t take/receive grace. It’s like coming to a banquet in the wrong clothes – you’ll hesitate to take from the table because look at you! But when you’re dressed appropriately, it gives you confidence.
(c) The abundance of grace does not fully convey the extent of God’s grace. The original word for abundance (perisseia) literally means super-abundant or superfluity. It’s derived from a word (perisseuó) that means “goes above and beyond.” God has a superfluous, excessive amount of grace, far beyond what we need. See entry for Rom. 5:20.
(d) The gift of righteousness. The gospel of grace reveals the righteousness of God is a gift that is received by faith (see entry for Php. 3:19). Under law, you had to act right to get right with God. But under grace, you believe right and are made right by the grace of God, and as a result you can live right. Those who are trying to make themselves righteous can never succeed, but those who receive the free gift of Christ’s righteousness experience peace and joy. They get to reign in life.
The gospel is not a list of things you must do to inherit eternal life. It is the blessed announcement that the righteousness you need to enter the kingdom of heaven—the righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees and law teachers—comes to us as a free gift through faith.
(e) Those who receive … will reign. Formerly, death reigned, but in Christ, we reign in life. This is not a promise for the distant bye-and-bye. In him, we are seated in heavenly places now.
(f) Reign in life. In Adam, death reigned over us; in Christ, we reign over death in all its forms. In Adam, we were prisoners of sin; in Christ, we are free from sin’s bondage. In Christ, we can be healthy and whole and enjoy abundant and everlasting life. It does not mean we reign or lord it over people (Matt. 20:25-26).
Some Christians are living in the waiting room – waiting for God to do something, waiting for training, waiting for an outpouring or revival or a harvest. They tell you they’re waiting on the Lord but they’re just procrastinating. Passive waiting is riskless and faithless. They are waiting for God to do what He’s done and say what He’s said. They are living for tomorrow instead of ruling and reigning today.
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.
(a) One transgression. When Adam rejected God and aligned himself with the devil, he took the human race with him (see Rom. 5:14).
(b) Condemnation to all men. Adam put himself and his unborn descendants on Death Row.
(c) One act of righteousness. Last Adam’s one act of righteousness (his sacrificial death that brings justification to all who receive it) can be compared with First Adam’s one act of unrighteousness.
(d) Justification. The original word is a noun that means acquittal. It is related to another word that means innocent. In Christ you are sin-free, guilt-free, and wholly innocent of all claims against you.
(e) Life. Two kinds of life are described in the Bible; the psuche– or soul life we inherited from Adam and the zoe– or spirit life that comes from God (John 5:26). It’s the second kind of life that is described here. See entry for New Life.
(e) Life to all men. God’s grace is not limited to the Jews, but is for the Gentiles as well. Jesus is not merely the Jew’s Messiah, but the Savior of the whole world (1 John 4:14).
In verses 15 and 19, Paul says that the actions of the two men – first Adam and last Adam – affected many, not all. But here in verse 18 he says their actions affect all. Which is it? It’s both. It is many in the sense that the grace of God abounds to the many (verse 15) and many are made righteous (verse 19). And it is all in the sense that Jesus has borne all sin and his gift of righteousness is offered to all. Paul is not saying that all are justified or made righteous for that would contradict what he says about many being made righteous. But all who come to Christ to receive life shall have it.
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.
(a) One man’s disobedience. Adam’s sin is variously referred to as an offense (Rom. 5:14), a transgression (Rom. 5:16-18) and an act of disobedience. Perhaps many words are needed to capture the full magnitude of what Adam did.
The original word for disobedience means inattention; the original word for transgression means a slip or fall; and the original word for offense means a going over. Because Adam didn’t pay proper attention to his Father’s words, he slipped and fell over the cliff into the valley of the shadow of death.
(b) Many. Why many and not all? See previous verse.
(c) Many were made sinners. Because of Adam’s disobedience, humanity ended up enslaved to sin.
Sometimes people say, “We sin because we’re sinners,” and that’s true of those who have not met Jesus. But what made us sinners in the first place? It was not a sinful gene; it was Adam’s disobedience. Humanity was condemned as sinners because Adam sinned.
Manmade religion says you were born a rebel, but you were born a slave. “You were slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:17). Religion says your greatest need is to be forgiven for the crime of being born, but our greatest need is to be free. “I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin… Who will set me free?” (Rom. 7:14, 24). Jesus did not come to convince rebels to change sides. He came to set the captives free (Luke 4:18).
(d) Many will be made righteous. Because of Christ’s obedience, all can be made right with God
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
(a) The Law came through Moses (John 1:17, 7:19).
(b) Grace abounded. These words fail to capture the full magnitude of God’s grace. The original word for abounded is the same word Paul uses in Romans 5:17 – the one that means super-abundant – except here he adds the prefix huper or hyper, which means over, above, and beyond (huperperisseuō). If you think God’s grace is super-abundant to the point of superfluous excess, you are halfway there. And if you think his grace is hyper, you’re getting warmer but still not quite there. In Biblical terms, God’s grace is literally hyper-super-abundant.
Throughout his epistles, Paul uses a variety of big words to describe God’s hyper-super-grace. The meaning of these words is not always clear in English, but read the original language and you will find Paul writing about the lavish wastefulness of God’s grace (2 Cor. 9:8) and how God’s supply of grace is super-abundant to the point of being excessive (Rom. 5:17, 1 Tim. 1:14).
We lack scales for measuring God’s grace, but God’s grace is comparable in magnitude to his wisdom (see entry for Eph. 1:7). God is as gracious as he is wise. But then says, “No, there really is nothing we can compare with God’s grace” (see Eph. 2:7).
In describing grace, Paul used three words: huper-ballō (Eph. 2:7, 2 Cor. 9:14), huper-perisseuō (Rom. 5:20), and huper-pleonazō (1 Tim. 1:14). You do not need to speak Greek to recognize the common element in these words. It’s the prefix huper or hyper which means over, above, and beyond. To put it in context, Paul also uses hyper-words for describing God’s power and love (Eph. 1:19, 3:19). God’s grace is as great as his power. It’s as limitless as his love.
Paul was the first to use the word hyper when describing God’s grace, but he was hardly the only one to describe God’s grace as extreme and over-the-top. John spoke of receiving grace upon grace from fullness of God’s supply (John 1:16). Saying God is full of grace, is like saying the ocean is full of waves. “Grace upon grace” means God can bless you with wave after wave of grace and never run out.
Peter wrote about the grace that comes from “the God of all grace” (1 Pet. 5:10) and prayed that his grace would be yours to the “fullest measure” or in increasing abundance (1 Pet. 1:2). Just as you can’t travel to the edge of the universe, you will never find the limit of God’s grace.
James, one of the most misunderstood writers in the New Testament, had a wonderful grasp of grace. He spoke of a God who gives and gives, which is a picture of unending grace (Jas. 1:17). “God gives us more grace” (Jas. 4:6). The original word for more in this passage is derived from the Greek word megas. God gives us mega-grace. James is literally saying that God gives us “exceedingly, great, high, large, loud, and mighty grace!”
Further reading: “Who are the hypergrace preachers?”
To suggest that God’s grace is less than hyper is unbiblical, even blasphemous. It’s like saying God is good but he’s not that good, he’s wise but not that wise. Diminish grace and you diminish God. Get your understanding of grace from Christian magazines, and you can be forgiven for thinking that hypergrace is bad, modern, and unbiblical. But read the Bible and you will see that hypergrace is a small word for describing an extraordinary reality: The One who sits upon the throne of grace is exceedingly rich in grace and he has poured out his measureless grace upon you!
Further reading: “Is hypergrace biblical?”
(c) Grace abounded all the more. God’s grace is greater than your sin, his best is better than your worst. God is for you; who can be against you (Rom. 8:31)? God justifies you; who can condemn you (Rom. 8:33)? Nothing in this life – not your sins or your shortcomings – can separate you from his love (Rom. 8:38-39).
so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(a) Sin reigned. In verses 14 and 17 Paul said death reigned, but here he says sin reigned. There is no difference. Sin is not merely a verb that describes our wrongdoing, but a noun that desires to master us. See entry for Rom. 6:14.
(b) Grace would reign through righteousness. The gift of righteousness is the heart of the gospel of grace.
The bad news of the law is that your righteousness will never qualify you for the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20, Gal. 2:16). But the good news of grace is that God offers you his righteousness as a free gift (Rom. 5:17). Like John who came in the way of righteousness (Matt. 21:32), Paul saw himself as engaged in the ministry of righteousness (2 Cor. 3:9) and a preacher of righteousness ( Acts 24:25, Heb. 5:13). If you do not know about the righteousness that is received by faith, you will not experience the fullness of God’s grace. But when you know that God has made you completely and eternally righteous, his grace reigns in your life.
(c) Eternal life. You have been made righteous with a divine righteousness that endures forever (2 Cor. 9:9). Hence your new life is eternal.
Eternal life is not merely endless life; eternal life is divine life. It is Christ’s glorious life as opposed to the broken short-lived death-shadowed life we inherited from Adam (see entry for 1 John 1:2).
The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got something to say? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.
- Romans 5:1
- Romans 5:2
- Romans 5:8
- Romans 5:9
- Romans 5:10
- Romans 5:12
- Romans 5:13
- Romans 5:14
- Romans 5:15
- Romans 5:16
- Romans 5:17
- Romans 5:18
- Romans 5:19
- Romans 5:20
- Romans 5:21