Chapter five begins the second half of the first major section of Romans. Having shown our need for God’s righteousness (chapters 1-2) and that it is accessible only through faith (chapters 3-4), Paul used the next four chapters to explain further what takes place in us when we are saved. The first major change is reconciliation (Romans 5:1-11). “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). The practical result of this supernatural peace is a newfound joy in God’s glory and in our sufferings, because we see them differently now. Rather than being upset in trouble, we have the ability to see the endurance, character, and hope that comes through suffering, because it reveals that “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”
This did not used to be the case, because we were enemies with God. However, in an act of supreme grace and love, “Christ died for the ungodly,” namely, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, full reconciliation with God was not possible; sin could only be covered but never removed (Hebrews 10:11). In Jesus, reconciliation was made possible for the entire human race, although it is put into effect only for those who believe.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of the second half of this chapter (Romans 5:12-21) in regard to one’s entire theological understanding. Here is just a sampling of truths readily found in this section.
- Sin and death are in this world are the result of Adam’s sin. Therefore, there was no sin, death, or judgment until after Genesis 3.
- Adam’s sin was intentional rebellion against God’s command. Paul used four separate words, each revealing a different nuance, to describe how heinous Adam’s sin was: sin, transgression, trespass, disobedience.
- Every human sinned with Adam. No one can say, “I wouldn’t have sinned.”
- Jesus’ gift of righteousness far exceeds Adam’s “gift” of sin and death.
- In the same way that one man’s sin affected the entire race, one man’s sacrifice also affected the entire race.
- God’s grace is greater than any and all sin.