Having taught that everyone is sinful, guilty, and condemned before God (1:18-3:20) and that sinners’ only hope of forgiveness and justification is through faith in Jesus Christ (3:21-4:25), Paul shows how justification brings the blessings of peace with God and hope for eternity in 5:1-11. The believer is no longer in a state of “war” with God but peace, having been reconciled through Jesus (vv. 1-2), despite being helpless and ungodly (vv. 6-11). Even life’s troubles are used by God to strengthen, establish, and encourage the believer (vv. 3-5).
In verses 12-21 Paul then taught the basics of justification—that God imputes Jesus’ righteousness to the believer—by drawing five comparisons. First there are two men: Adam and Christ (v. 14). Second, there are two acts: Adam’s one trespass (vv. 12, 15, 17-19) and Christ’s one death (v. 18). Third, there are two results: through Adam comes condemnation, guilt, and death (vv. 15, 16, 18-19) and through Christ comes justification and life (vv. 17-19). Fourth, there are two “kings”: sin, reigning in death (v. 17) and grace, reigning in righteousness (v. 21). Fifth, there are two states: condemned men who are slaves of death by virtue of their connection with Adam (v. 17a) and justified men who reign in life by virtue of their connection with Christ (v. 17b). The Law shows sin, but grace shows righteousness (vv. 20-21).
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- Christian, during good and hard times God’s love and Spirit are always with you. During good times stay faithful to the Lord so that your heart isn’t taken away by the addictive sweetness of carnal prosperity. During difficult times stay faithful to the Lord so that your heart isn’t taken away by unbelieving bitterness.
- Many deny that Adam’s sin, guilt, and condemnation is imputed to all men because that is “unfair,” believing that people are not so connected with Adam but are only guilty and condemned by their own works. If this is so the same must be said of the Christian: the comparison makes the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and life parallel with the imputation of Adam’s sin and condemnation. Rejecting one demands rejecting the other. If condemnation depends entirely on individual acts, so must justification. And no one can be justified by works! How great is God’s grace!
- Salvation is never because of anything good in us! It is only by Christ’s obedience, death, and resurrection. Salvation is entirely the grace of God, not the work of man.