An Exegetical Commentary
Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 4 June 2010; Revised 30 October 2015
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of Romans is taken from the NASB Updated Edition (1995). Unless otherwise indicated other Scripture quotations are also taken from the NASB. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
Sources: Bibliographic data for sources cited may be found here. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations. Links to other ancient Jewish literature may be found at EarlyJewishWritings.com.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ).
Grammar: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). The meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB," found online at BibleHub.com. Explanation of Greek grammatical forms and a pronunciation guide for New Testament Greek may be found here. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance reference numbers are identified with "SH" for Hebrew and "SG" for Greek.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy. Click here for a Study Questions for small group learning or self-study.
Soteriology: God’s Plan for Deliverance and Righteousness, 3:21–5:21 (cont.)
The Blessings of Justification, 5:1-11
· Justification by the faithfulness of Yeshua provides shalom with God.
· The work of Yeshua provides many other benefits.
· The work of Yeshua was accomplished for all sinners.
The Need for Justification, 5:12-14
· Through one man, Adam, sin entered the world.
· God's judgment on Adam's sin was death.
· Death spread to all men and all men sinned.
The Supremacy of Yeshua's Work, 5:15-21
· Adam's sin resulted in death whereas the free gift of Yeshua resulted in grace.
· Adam's sin resulted in judgment, whereas the free gift of Yeshua resulted in justification.
· Adam's sin caused death to reign over all mankind, but Yeshua's righteousness will provide eternal life.
· Adam's sin made "the many" into sinners whereas the obedience of Yeshua will make "the many" into saints.
· Adam's sin caused sin to reign in death, but grace will reign in eternal life through Yeshua.
The Blessings of Justification, 5:1-11
1― Therefore: introduces a conclusion based on the previous midrash of chapter four. being justified: Grk. dikaioō, aor. pass. part. For a full discussion on this verb see the note on 2:13. The participle, being a verbal substantive, describes something about the person who has received the grace of God. One of my seminary professors suggested translating the participle as "righteousified" to emphasize this point. Justification includes transformation as well as a status change; it is not a license to sin. Yeshua came into the world to destroy the works of the devil, not to whitewash them (1Jn 3:8). by faith: Grk. ek pisteōs is lit. "out of faithfulness." See note on 1:5. The question is "whose faith?" On the one hand following on the example of Abraham in chapter four, the one exhibiting faith is the justified person. This is the common interpretation. However, the one showing faithfulness could be Yeshua since the last verse of the previous chapter says, "He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification."
We have: Grk. echō, to have, hold, keep or preserve. "We have" is a problematic translation since the MS evidence is divided between Grk. echomen (present active indicative), "we have," and echōmen (present middle subjunctive) "let us have." Modern versions have been influenced by the Textus Receptus (TR, 1516-1633) which has echomen. The Greek Text of B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort (1881) used echōmen, since they had access to earlier MSS discovered since the TR was published. The external MS evidence is clearly greater for echōmen (GNT), which Robertson says is the correct text beyond doubt. Stern concurs and the Complete Jewish Bible renders the verb as "Let us continue to have." The New English Bible (1970) similarly translates, "let us continue at peace with God." A number of versions (e.g., HCSB, NASB, NIV, NKJV) acknowledge in marginal notes the alternative translation due to MS evidence. In a footnote the HCSB offers this interesting translation, "Let us grasp the fact that we have peace."
The NET Bible translators while admitting the external evidence is stronger for echōmen nonetheless argue for echomen, insisting that to this point in the letter Paul has not engaged in hortatory language and only begins to do so in Chapter Six. Harrison concurs by saying that exhortation seems out of place here. Stern counters by saying, "This descriptive statement is true, but the exhortation fits the context better; for verse 2 exhorts us to boast about the hope of experiencing God’s glory (instead of coming short of it, 3:23) when we are resurrected."
Modern versions and commentators have in reality relied on a subjective assumption that Paul couldn't possibly be concerned with urging a certain attitude at this point in his letter. Chapter Five clearly marks a transition from the rabbinic argumentation of the previous chapters and Paul's concern is pastoral as well as theological. Paul could easily have intended both meanings in the typical block logic of Hebrew thought. The HCSB alternative translation hints at this possibility. It's as if Paul is telling his imaginary opponent, "Don't you understand? We have been reconciled with God not because of any legalistic works, but because of the faithfulness of Yeshua. Moreover, we will only keep that relationship strong if we continue to rely on our Messiah's faithfulness."
Peace: Grk. eirēnē, meaning peace and harmony, corresponds to Heb. shalōm, welfare, health. Since this peace is with God, it denotes the status of a relationship and not necessarily an emotional state. Peace with God is obtained and maintained through the faithfulness of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Without Yeshua's sacrifice and constant mediatorial work our falling short of the perfection of God (Rom 3:23) would stifle justification. Shulam points out that since Yeshua is identified in 3:23-26 as the scapegoat of the Day of Atonement, then the mention of "peace with God" alludes to the biblical peace-offering (Heb. shelamim). A peace-offering was a general offering, not peculiar to the Day of Atonement, and signified the people's renewal of the covenant (cf. Ex 24:5; Deut 27:6-7; 2Chr 29:31). Paul may even be hinting at a parallel between Yeshua and Phinehas:
"Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy. Therefore say, `Behold, I give him My covenant of peace.'" (Num 25:11-12)
The covenant of peace was not only associated with the High Priesthood, but also the prophecy of the future Davidic king as emphasized in Ezekiel:
"And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the LORD have spoken. I will make a covenant of peace with them." (Ezek 34:24-25a)
"They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever." (Ezek 37:25-26)
One final point needs to be made here. Whether the verb is "we have" or "let us have" the second person plural from Paul's Jewish point of view refers to Israel within whom the Gentiles have been grafted. So, this covenant of peace promised by the prophet Ezekiel is the first benefit of Yeshua's faithfulness and our justification.
Lord: Grk. kurios. See the comment on 1:4. He is our master, our God. Jesus: Grk. Iēsous is an attempt to replicate the pronunciation of Yeshua, the name of our Lord in Hebrew, the language he spoke. Iēsous does not translate the meaning of Yeshua. See the note on 1:1. Christ: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. "Christ" is a transliteration, not a translation of Christos. See the note on 1:1. Our Savior was (and is) a short dark-haired, dark-eyed traditional Jew. This is the one who procured our justification, not a revisionist figure of Church history fashioned in our own image.
2― Introduction, Grk. prosagōgen from prosagō, to bring to, to introduce, hence "introduction," or "approach" (Robertson). Access to God is the second benefit of justification. Shulam clarifies the Hebraic meaning.
"The Greek verb…corresponds to two Hebrew roots, karav, "to offer" (which covers a range of sacrificial functions); and bo' "to come." The believer is given access to God's presence in the Holy of Holies "through the veil" (cf. Lev 16:2; Heb 6:19-20) and through Yeshua's blood [i.e., atoning sacrifice] which "seals" God's "new covenant" with man."
By faith: Greek MSS are divided over the reading. Some have the preposition en and others lack the preposition. All have faith with a definite article, "the faith," no doubt pointing back to the faithfulness of Yeshua. For grace, see note on 1:5. In which we Stand: Grace is here presented as a field into which we have been introduced and where we stand and we should enjoy all the privileges of this grace about us (Robertson). The verb is actually perfect tense, lit. "in which we have been standing." Exult, Grk. kauchōmetha, present middle subjunctive of kauchaomai, to boast, glory, pride oneself. The verb form is confirmed by all Greek texts and should be translated, "let us glory" (Robertson). The CJB has "let us boast." Again modern versions ignore MS evidence because of a subjective assumption about Paul's intentions.
Paul is not speaking of an ordinary feel-good sort of praise, but a triumphant attitude akin to gloating over what God has accomplished. The verb is in the present tense, denoting a continued attitude and expression. Paul proceeds to name the various reasons and contexts for this exorbitant praise. He gives a linked chain, one linking to the other (tribulation, patience, character, hope) running into verse 5 (Robertson). This cascading effect stems from the great grace of justification. The first reason to exult is the hope of glory, probably a euphemism for the resurrection (1Cor 15:43).
3― The second reason to exult is our tribulations, plural of Grk. thlipsis, which means affliction, pressure or oppression, and is a word picture of being crushed under a weight. The term tribulation is used in two ways: first, the persecution directed by the world at the saints (Matt 13:21; 24:9; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rom 5:3; 8:35; 12:12; 2Cor 1:4; 7:4; 1Thess 3:4; and Rev 2:9-10), and, second, the punishment meted out by God on His enemies commencing at the Second Coming and continuing for eternity (Rom 2:9; 2Th 1:6). The kingdom would suffer violence (Matt 11:12) and disciples would have to endure to the end to be saved (Matt 24:13). The first disciples were promised no secret escapes.
Yeshua warned His disciples that as they served God’s purposes they would suffer persecutions, tribulations, privations, family desertions, hatred from adversaries and finally death by cruel hands. Likewise, Paul promised that all who are godly would suffer persecution (2Tim 3:12). Tribulation against the saints is the visible reality of an unseen warfare between the Kingdom of God and the rebellious forces of Satan. Disciples of Yeshua are not destined to suffer God’s final wrath on the end time tyrant or His eternal wrath (1Th 5:9), but tribulation is a reality in this life and no one should be surprised when it occurs.
Indeed, soon after Yeshua ascended his disciples began to suffer at the hands of unbelievers, both Jew and Gentile. Most of the suffering occurred in connection with spreading the good news, as related in Acts and many of the letters. On various occasions and to different degrees all of the original apostles, and particularly Paul, were beaten, stoned, thrown in jail and deprived of legal rights, and all except John died from violence.
James, the brother of Yeshua, counseled believers to rejoice when they suffered various trials (Jas 1:2f). In that same spirit Paul advises let us exult in our troubles. This boasting comes from realizing that we have been privileged to share the sufferings of our Lord. Peter gave similar exhortation: "but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation" (1Pet 4:13).
Knowing: Grk. participle of oida, gives the reason for the previous exhortation to glory in tribulations. Rightly viewed the benefit of tribulation is perseverance, Grk. hupomonē, patient endurance or patiently waiting in hope (Rienecker). This is more than the popular advice to not allow the actions of others to determine our reactions.
4― The third reason to exult is the development of character, Grk. dokimē, approved character, the quality of being approved as a result of test and trials (Rienecker).
5― Hope, Grk. elpis. The Jewish concept of hope is far different than the pagan Greek, which was little more than a possible outcome of circumstances (Edwards). Jews anchored their hope in the person and promises of the covenant-keeping God. Such a hope does not disappoint, Grk. kataischunō, to put to shame (Rienecker). It's a form of the same word in 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the good news." The KJV has it correctly with "ashamed." In Hebrew culture the values of honor and shame governed much of their life. Honor meant a claim to worth that is acknowledged before the family and community. The circumstances of a person's social, marital, economic and educational status created a level of honor for that person. To "have honor" is to have publicly acknowledged worth. It is a group-given value, not just self-respect. One's self-respect could be high, but honor low. On the other hand shame is a challenge to worth that is publicly denied or denied before others. To "be shamed" means to be denied or diminished in honor. For that reason social pressure via law and custom was exerted to preempt any action or reaction that would bring shame to a person. The Talmud strongly condemns causing shame.
"He who publicly shames his neighbor is as though he shed blood. … He who publicly puts his neighbor to shame has no portion in the world to come. (Baba Metzia 58b)
Paul asserts that the tribulations experienced by faithful disciples do not accrue shame as Jews of the past who endured the exile for their sins (cf. Dan 9:7-8). The disciples have nothing to be ashamed of because God has given his love.
Love: Grk. agapē. of God. The God of Israel and Yeshua serve as the models for the best expression of agapē. Several passages use the agapē word-group in a thoroughly negative sense (Matt 24:12, Luke 6:27; 11:43, John 3:19, 2Tim 4:10). The common factor in every passage employing the agapē word-group is the willingness to sacrifice, which sets it apart from the affection of phileō, the family loyalty of storgē and the passion of eros. In this verse the emphasis is on the love of God, the Father, rather than the Messiah. This implies that the crucifixion promotes not the heroism of Yeshua, but rather the saving purpose of God to redeem hostile humanity (Edwards).
Poured out: Grk. ekcheō, to pour out. The word denotes both abundance and diffusion (Rienecker). The KJV translation "shed abroad" is poetic but misleading in modern English with its many variations of meaning. The Greek verb suggests a lavishness on God's part, reminiscent, perhaps of the occasional torrential rains in arid middle eastern regions (Edwards). The perfect tense indicates its beginning at some point in the past and continuing to the present. Since the location of the Spirit's work is our heart, Paul may be alluding to Pentecost. His own first experience with the power of the Holy Spirit was in Damascus (Acts 9:17-18). The preposition is within, lit. "in," our hearts, not into, implying that the Spirit is already active in the heart of believers.
Holy Spirit: Grk. pneumatos hagiou, renders the Heb. Ruach HaKodesh. The Holy Spirit was given "in fulfillment of a different promise (Ezek 36:27; John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7, 13; Acts 1:8, 2:4), and thus guarantees that God will also keep this present promise to resurrect us (Stern). Given: the aorist participle form of didōmi, indicates the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit continuing from the time he was first poured out. The giving of the Holy Spirit on Shavuot (Pentecost) accomplished three important acts of God.
First, Pentecost fulfilled the promise of the New Covenant that God would write his law on the hearts of his people (Jer 31:33; Ezek 36:27). Christians who say that Yeshua canceled the Torah and replaced Israel with the Church have stripped the New Covenant of its meaning. All those present when the heavenly wind blew through the temple were Jews or Jewish proselytes (Acts 2:5, 10). The transformation of obedient faithfulness is the essential meaning of Peter's testimony that the giving of the Holy Spirit cleansed their hearts (Acts 15:8-9). Heart purification enables the believer to enthusiastically live by the commandments of God (John 14:15; Acts 21:20; 1John 5:3).
Second, Pentecost empowered the faithful disciples of Yeshua to be bold witnesses of the good news (Acts 1:8; 4:31). Peter asserted that Pentecost fulfilled Joel's prophecy (Joel 2:28) that when the Holy Spirit was poured out the sons and daughters of Israel would prophesy (Acts 2:17-18). While the proclamations of the 120 (Acts 2:40) could have been delivered in Hebrew or (Jewish) Greek, the diverse regional dialects heard by the crowd (Acts 2:8) testified to God's intention to reverse the curse of languages at Babel (Gen 11:9) in order to create one body that spanned the globe.
Third, Paul presents the fact here that at Pentecost God poured out his love on his people. The Jewish people had endured a long drought of silence from heaven since the time of Malachi. They were a subjugated people longing for a deliverer. Pentecost reminded the chosen nation that God's covenant was inviolate and that he loves Israel with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3). The love of God was also manifest in the fulfillment of Moses' wish. When the seventy Jewish elders were empowered by the Holy Spirit (Num 11:25) and Joshua became upset because two elders were Spirit-inspired to prophesy, Moses remarked, "Would that all the LORD'S people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!" (Num 11:29). Prior to Pentecost the Holy Spirit had only come upon the seventy elders, certain judges, prophets and a few kings. At Pentecost and thereafter God demonstrated his love by giving his Spirit to every disciple. Praise the Lord!
6― Helpless, Grk. asthenēs, weak (Rienecker). Scripture testifies to the powerlessness of mankind to solve the sin problem. God's love is for the undeserving (Edwards). At the right time (compare Gal 4:4) alludes to a sovereignly appointed predestined time prophesied multiple times in the Tanakh. Yeshua's coming was no accident.
Christ: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. "Christ" is a transliteration, not a translation of Christos. See the note on verse 1 above. died: Grk. apothnēskō, to die, whether literally or figuratively, sums up the passion of the Messiah in virtually an understated fashion. The apostolic narratives take a decidedly different view. Yeshua did not die in the normal manner, but was brutally executed by nailing to an execution stake after an illegal arrest, trial and excessive beating. Interestingly, Paul does not speak of the cross (Grk. stauros) at all in Romans and only uses the word for crucified (Grk. sustauroō) once (6:6).
Yeshua accused the Jewish leaders who handed him over to Pilate of a great sin (John 19:11). The apostles likewise did not mince words. The earliest apostolic sermons confronted the culpability of the Sanhedrin who broke the Torah in denying Yeshua due process and courted the favor of uncircumcised pagans to carry out the despicable deed (cf. Acts 2:23; 1Cor 2:8). Peter held all those who had a part in the execution of Yeshua responsible and called for their repentance (Acts 2:23, 36; 3:14-15 and 4:10). Stephen lambasted the Sanhedrin for illegally executing Yeshua and actually accused the Sanhedrin of murder (Acts 7:51-52).
Paul was certainly well acquainted with the chain of events that concluded on Golgotha. However, he draws attention at least a dozen times in his letters to Yeshua giving his life as an atoning sacrifice. Yeshua himself said that he would voluntarily lay down his life (John 10:15, 17-18). By Torah commandment atonement required the offering of an animal which substituted for the death of the man who violated the Torah. Paul associates Yeshua with the scapegoat in 3:24-25, as well as the "Passover" who has been sacrificed (1Cor 5:7) (Shulam). This is the good news, that Messiah "died for our sins" (1Cor 15:3).
Yeshua died for the ungodly, Grk. asebēs, godless, impious. Yeshua died for those who did not know and serve the true God, as he said he would (Mark 10:45; John 10:12, 17–18; 1John 3:16). Paul's words in 1Timothy 1:15 that Yeshua came into the world to save sinners echoes Isaiah 53:6, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."
7― To die for someone no doubt refers to taking someone's place condemned to die by judicial decree and not the ordinary sense of lifesaving, since those are common occurrences. (No Jew would think Paul meant dying as an atoning sacrifice since the Torah proscribed human sacrifice.) No one would go to a judge and say, "let me die in the criminal's place," even if that convicted person was innocent. The redundant contrast that Paul offers on the face of seems difficult to decipher, but it's typical of Jewish paradoxical statements. "No one would die for another in such circumstances, but on the other hand, maybe someone would."
Presumptively a righteous man or a good man would not need someone to die for them. Surely a righteous man would not be put on trial. Yet, history is replete with the sacrifice of the saints. If there is a difference between a righteous, Grk. dikaios, man and a good, Grk. agathos, man it is not immediately apparent. The two descriptors may be taken as equivalents in the manner of Hebrew parallelism as in Proverbs 13:22, "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous." Paul is probably being facetious in using these labels as Yeshua was when he said, "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32). In any case the contrast sets up his point in the next verse.
8― The us and we may refer to Israel (cf. 3:9), although Paul might be speaking rhetorically of himself (cf. 1:15; 3:8) or even of the Body of Messiah (cf. Eph 5:25). Whatever his intention with these pronouns, Paul asserts the covenantal love of God for Israel as in verse 5.
While we were yet sinners: Nobody would think of dying for a sinner, would they? There are such examples in the Tanakh, first Moses and then David.
On the next day Moses said to the people, "You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to the LORD, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." Then Moses returned to the LORD, and said, "Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin--and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written! (Ex 32:30-32)
Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, "Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father's house." )2Sam 24:17)
Incredibly Paul will make a similar offer later in this letter. Nevertheless, the only one to actually die for both the righteous and the unrighteous is God's Messiah. What kind of Messiah would die for his people when the very purpose of his coming is to deliver his people from their enemies (Luke 1:71-74)?
Christ: Grk. Christos, "Anointed One" or Messiah. See the note on verse 1 above. died for us: The Jewish Sages recognized paradoxical figures of the Messiah in the Tanakh. On the one hand there would be a victorious Messiah, a descendant of King David who would destroy the enemies of Israel and reign as king (Isa 9:7). Other prophecies speak of a suffering Messiah who dies for Israel (Isa 53). So the rabbis called the former Mashiach ben David (Dah-veed) and the latter Mashiach ben Yosef (Sukkah 52a). There was also the recognition of the promised seed of the woman who would crush the Serpent (Gen 3:15), the Mashiach ben Adam, who is mentioned in Daniel 7:13 as an eschatological figure. Because the Mashiach ben Adam is pictured as coming on the clouds, he was also dubbed Mashiach ben Ananim, son of the clouds (Sanhedrin 96).
The apostolic writings, of course, shows that all the figures of Mashiach are fulfilled in one person (Matt 1:1, 16; 16:21; 24:30; Luke 2:48-49). Yeshua's human descent was from King David making him Mashiach ben David. It is probably no coincidence that the name of Yeshua's legal father was Yosef, which hinted at the role of suffering servant. Yeshua also asserted to be the expected Son of Man and Son of the clouds to both his disciples (Matt 24:30, 44) and to the Jewish leadership who put him on trial (Matt 26:64).
For Paul to say that the Jewish Messiah died for us cannot be overstated. This is not the Christ of later church history who shares his throne with and encourages people to pray to the Virgin Mary. He is not a Christian Christ in whose name the Church persecuted the Jews. We need to say these words until they resonate in our souls: THE JEWISH MESSIAH DIED FOR US WORTHLESS SINNERS. We Gentiles who had no right to expect anything good of the God of Israel - who happens to be the only God in existence - have received an incomprehensible gift of grace.
9― Much more then: This phrase signals a form of argument known in rabbinic literature as kal v’chomer ("light and heavy"), corresponding to what philosophers call a fortiori reasoning: If A is true, then, a fortiori (Latin, "with [even] greater strength"), B must also be true. The English phrase, "how much more," equivalent to Hebrew kol sh’khen, expresses this sense and force. Explicit kal v’chomer arguments appear in the in Matt 6:30; 7:11, 10:25, 12:12; Luke 11:13; 12:24, 28; Rom 5:9, 10, 15, 17; 11:12, 24; 1Cor 12:22; 2Cor 3:9, 11; Phil 2:12; Phlm 16; Heb 9:14, 10:29, 12:25. The fact that kal v’chomer arguments occur so frequently emphasizes the fact that the Jewish apostles communicated in a manner typical of rabbinic reasoning and hermeneutical rules.
For the phrase by his blood see the comment on 3:25. "Blood" is a metaphor for the atoning sacrifice. There was nothing magical about the blood in Yeshua's veins. The Lamb's blood on the doorposts in Egypt brought a temporal deliverance from the plague of death, but Yeshua's sacrifice provides an everlasting benefit from eternal death (cf. 1Thess 1:10). we shall be saved: Grk. sōzō, in ordinary Greek usage it meant to preserve or rescue from natural dangers and bodily afflictions. However, Jewish Greek invested significant theological meaning in the sense of deliverance from God’s judgment on the world. In the historical books of the Tanakh God’s judgment was temporal, but beginning with Isaiah the prophets foretold the results of judgment lasting forever (Isa 34:10; Jer 25:9; Ezek 35:9). The apostolic writings reveal that God’s judgment means eternal death and eternal fire. Being saved means full and complete deliverance from the wages of sin.
from the wrath: Grk. orgē means anger, indignation or wrath. Orgē is the preferred word for the judgment of God at the end of the age (cf. Matt 3:7; Luke 21:23; 1Thess 1:10; 5:9; Rev 11:18; 16:19; 19:15). The wrath of God will fall on the "sons of disobedience" (Eph 5:6; Col 3:6), on the people with the mark of the beast in the form of seven bowels of wrath (Rev 15:1; 16:1), the beast's army gathered at Armageddon (Rev 19:15) and in the final judgment that sends the wicked to the lake of fire (Rev 14:10; 19:20; 20:10, 14-15). See comment on 2:5.
10― While we were enemies tells the truth like a blunt instrument. Israel and God did not have a misunderstanding or a petty quarrel. Rebellion and idolatry made God an enemy as described in this lament in Isaiah,
"I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, According to all that the LORD has granted us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has granted them according to His compassion And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses. For He said, "Surely, they are My people, Sons who will not deal falsely." So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them." (Isa 63:7-10)
Reconciled, Grk. katallassō, to reconcile someone to someone. The verb is formed from kata, meaning down or against, and allassō, meaning to change. The verb occurs five times in reference to reconciling man to God (Rom 5:10 [twice], 2Cor 5:18, 19, 20) and once in a marriage relationship (1Cor 7:11). In the LXX katallassō occurs only at Jeremiah 48:39 where it renders Heb. hatah, to be shattered or dismayed.
"They shall wail: 'How she is broken down [hatah]! How Moab has turned her back with shame!' So Moab shall be a derision And a dismay to all those about her." (Jer 48:39 NKJV)
LXX: "O how he reconciled [katallassō], O how Moab turned his back. Moab was shamed and became for laughter, and an object of anger to all the ones round about her." (ABP)
Later rabbinic usage is anticipated in 1Samuel 29:4 where a related word, diallassomai (to be reconciled) deviates from its original sense to mean to make oneself acceptable. In Rabbinic Judaism "confession of sins and repentance are means by which reconciliation with God is sought" (DNTT 3:167). Thus katallassō appears with reference to God in 2Maccabees.
"May he hear your prayers and be reconciled to you, and may he not forsake you in time of evil." (2Macc 1:5 RSV)
"And if our living Lord is angry for a little while, to rebuke and discipline us, he will again be reconciled with his own servants." (2Macc 7:33 RSV)
"When they had done this, they made common supplication and besought the merciful Lord to be wholly reconciled with his servants." (2Macc 8:29 RSV)
Paul's choice and use of katallassō is entirely consistent with its use in the Tanakh and Maccabees. The context is hostile separation from God. In order to end the hostilities God took drastic measures. Carl Von Clausewitz (1780-1831), the famous Prussian soldier and writer said, "To introduce into the philosophy of War itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity" (On War, [Penguin Books, 1968], 102). God could have destroyed his enemy as he did the entire world of Noah.
However, God decided on a strategy that would exchange the life of one man for millions. One sacrificial death could end the war and make peace possible. Yet, it couldn't be just any man. Where indeed could God have found a righteous man or even a good man that would qualify? Not even the High Priest could have fulfilled that role. Therefore, God would become that man and make the supreme sacrifice, as prophesied in Isaiah.
"Now the LORD saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation…" (Isa 59:15-16)
What magnanimous, exorbitant, lavish, ridiculously generous grace God exhibited in this plan.
The truths of 4:25 are restated in verses 9 and 10 in a kal v'chomer argument (Stern). If Yeshua’s death accomplishes so much, how much more his life accomplishes! His life probably refers to the continuing mediatorial work of Yeshua in heaven on our behalf.
11― And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus: Grk. Iēsous is an attempt to replicate the pronunciation of Yeshua, the name of our Lord in Hebrew, the language he spoke. Iēsous does not translate the meaning of Yeshua. See the note on verse 1 above. Christ: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. "Christ" is a transliteration, not a translation of Christos. See the note on verse 1 above.
through whom we have now received the reconciliation, Grk. katallagē, formed from the verb used in the previous verse, the noun occurs only four times in the NT (Rom 5:11; 11:15; 2Cor 5:18, 19). The only occurrence of katallagē in the LXX is in Isaiah 9:5, which deviates from the Hebrew text.
"For all the boots of soldiers marching and every cloak rolled in blood is destined for burning, fuel for the fire." (CJB)
The LXX says, "For every apparel and garment assembled by treachery they shall pay with reparation [katallagē] and they shall want to even if it became scorched." (ABP)
Leading up to the announcement of a coming King in Isaiah 9:6, the prophecy of verses 4-5 offers a metaphor of conquest and in verse 5 the liberated people enter freely into the fruits of the Lord's victory. The text describes the breaking of the alien power which has gripped the Lord's people. But the people have not fought the final battle, they have only entered the battlefield after the fighting is done. (J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah, [Intervarsity Press, 1993] 101).
Reconciliation reflects a drastic change in relationship grounded in the mercy and forgiveness of God. It isn't the kind of forgiveness I once heard a Christian say of one who had wronged him: "I forgive him, but I just don't want to see him again." Reconciliation in human relationships implies that relations had once been good, but in the case of God reconciliation means a new relationship of peace, a new creation where none had existed before (2Cor 5:17).
Scholars typically say that since katallassō and katallagē occur only in Pauline letters they reflect his unique theology. Edwards makes the strange assertion that katallassō "was rare, if not unknown in Hellenistic usage, and consequently no more familiar to Paul's first readers than it may be for us." However, BAG cites passages from Herodotus, Aristotle, Plato, and Sophocles for katallassō and Aeschylus and Demosthenes for katallagē, as well as passages for both words from the Greek translation of works by the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo, Josephus the Jewish historian and Second Maccabees.
However, Paul does not derive his theology of reconciliation initiated by God and secured by the sacrifice of Yeshua from Hellenism, which had no such concept. Paul's theology is firmly grounded in the Tanakh and his vocabulary based on the Jewish Greek of the Septuagint. As David Hill affirms: "Not only word-meanings in the New Testament, but also the structure and syntax of New Testament language bear the impress of a special Hebraic influence channeled, for the most part, through the Septuagint." (Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings: Studies in the Semantics of Soteriological Terms, [Cambridge Univ. Press, 1967], 14.)
The Need for Justification, 5:12-14
• Origin: Therefore, just as through one man: i.e., Adam. It is noteworthy that Paul does not lay blame on Eve, who was deceived, although he does elsewhere (2Cor 11:3; 1Tim 2:14).
• Action: sin entered into the world. "Sin" is Grk. hamartia, which ordinarily refers either to a misdeed that creates liability for the agent or the condition of being sinful (Danker). However, here Paul personifies Hamartia as he does in 3:9. The first personification in Scripture is of sin when God says to Cain, "sin [chata, a feminine noun] is crouching at the door; and its [her] desire is for you, but you must master it" (Gen 4:7). Sin is a beguiling temptress who seeks to lure the unsuspecting into a trap that will result in death (cf. Prov 5:3-5).
• Effect: and death through sin. This fact effectively rebuts the Gap (or Ruin-Reconstruction) Theory of creation, which posits death before Adam was created.
• Scope: and so death spread to all men. The curse of death (Gen 2:17; 3:19) passed to all Adam's descendants.
• Reason: because all sinned: Grk. hamartanō, aor., cause to be alongside instead of on target, to miss and in a moral sense to do wrong. The verb is used of offenses against the moral law of God as defined in the Torah. BAG defines as to transgress or sin against divinity, custom or law. The point is that all people have violated God's instructions. Not only was the curse of death propagated, but also the curse of sinning. All men have been like the first parents. Since God decreed death for sin and all sinned, all people die.
Shulam offers this insightful analysis:
"Paul, like the Rabbis, struggles with the implications of the statement that "death [came] through sin." Verses 12-14 contain some of his most complex thought, in which he abruptly strings clauses one onto another with little or no conjunctive force or further explanatory details; and in which some of the clauses appear to contradict one another, or are left hanging in midair. … He therefore appears to suggest that death is both a direct consequence of Adam's disobedience and a natural consequence of human sinfulness, a view which is reflected in several other contemporary Jewish texts."
The Rabbinic view is that Man was created with two impulses or inclinations, a deduction drawn from Genesis 2:7, which states that God formed (vayyitzer) man. The spelling of this Hebrew verb is unusual: it uses two consecutive Yods instead of the one that would be expected. The rabbis inferred that these Yods stand for the word "yetzer," which means impulse, and the existence of two Yods here indicates that humanity was formed with two impulses: a good impulse (the yetzer tov) and an evil impulse (the yetzer ra) (Berachot 61a).
The yetzer tov is the moral conscience, the inner voice that reminds you of God's law when you consider doing something that is forbidden. The yetzer ra is more difficult to define, because there are many different ideas about it. To the Jewish mind the yetzer ra is not a desire to do evil, such as a desire to cause senseless harm. Rather, it is usually conceived as the selfish nature, the desire to satisfy personal needs (food, shelter, sex, etc.) without regard for the moral consequences of fulfilling those desires.
The yetzer ra is not viewed as a bad thing. It was created by God, and all things created by God are good. The Talmud notes that without the yetzer ra (the desire to satisfy personal needs), man would not build a house, marry a wife, beget children or conduct business affairs. But the yetzer ra can lead to wrongdoing when it is not controlled by the yetzer tov. Genesis 6:5 specifically refers to the yetzer ra as an inclination to wickedness. There is nothing inherently wrong with hunger, but it can lead you to steal food. There is nothing inherently wrong with sexual desire, but it can lead you to commit rape, adultery, incest or other sexual perversion.
The yetzer ra is generally seen as something internal to a person, not as an external force acting on a person. The idea that "the devil made me do it" (cf. Gen 3:13) is not in line with the majority of thought in Judaism. People have the ability to choose which impulse to follow: the yetzer tov or the yetzer ra. That is the heart of the Jewish understanding of free will. The Talmud notes that all people are descended from Adam, so no one can blame his own wickedness on his ancestry. On the contrary, we all have the ability to make our own choices, and we will all be held responsible for the choices we make. (See the article Human Nature at the Judaism 101 website.)
Christianity, of course, took a very different view of human nature and the effects of Adam's sin. Augustine (354–430) was the first to develop a systematic doctrine and create a basic vocabulary.
• Original Sin: rebellion against God; we sinned when Adam sinned.
• Original Pollution: sinful nature; we inherit total depravity, which affects every part of the human personality - physical, intellectual, and spiritual.
• Original Guilt: guilt for Adam’s sin and our own sin; we are guilty for Adam’s sin because we were in Adam at the time (cf. Heb 7:9-10).
The history of Christianity has seen several belief systems develop in reaction to Augustine as scholars wrestled with the inevitable questions that arise from Paul's words and the teaching of Scripture. The reader may consult any standard systematic theology for a full explanation. A number of fundamental objections have been raised.
• How "total" is total depravity? (words mean things) Yeshua noted the paradox of human nature - evil, yet able to do good of a practical nature (Matt 7:11; cf. John 3:20-21). This passage could be construed as accepting the dual impulse nature of man. Surely a totally depraved person would not care about the welfare of another person. Does man suffer from depravation or deprivation? In the context of Yeshua's statement he was not accusing his disciples of being wicked or morally corrupt, but lacking the perfection and power of God to give what a person really needs, spiritual power or regeneration (Luke 11:13).
• How can we be responsible for Adam's sin? We weren’t there to sin when Adam sinned. Death and sin were passed to Adam’s posterity, so we were made sinners by Adam’s sin (Rom 5:19). This is the law of nature: everything reproduces after its own kind. The Tanakh is clear that each person is responsible for own sin (Deut 24:16; Ezek 8:4.) Being in Adam’s loins does not equal responsibility for his sin. (In fact, Adam blamed Eve, Gen 3:12.)
• How does "free" will fit into the picture? (cf. Rom 10:13) Paul himself calls the reader to choose between the Spirit (the ultimate yetzer tov) and the flesh (yetzer ra?) in chapter eight.
• How can the body be evil? The assumption about the pollution of the body misconstrues the meaning of Paul's use of the word "flesh" and reflects the influence of Greek philosophy and Gnosticism. This unfortunate doctrine led to the elevation of celibacy as a preferred state over marriage at the Council of Trent and the rejection of pleasure in the marriage bed. Since Augustine obviously got this part wrong, what are we to think of the rest of his logic?
In the final analysis interpretation of Paul's teaching on original sin should follow his own dictum to not "exceed what is written" (1Cor 4:6).
13― (See the note on 2:12 regarding the term "Law.") The Greek reads literally, "For until law sin was in the world, but sin not being reckoned not being law" (Marshall). The syntax is difficult but apparently Paul engages in typical Hebrew block logic, stating an axiom with two propositions that sound inherently contradictory. for until the Law sin was in the world: In the first proposition Paul's use of "sin," Grk. hamartia, may be a personification, either of a demonic power of the underworld or the evil impulse, as in the first mention of sin in the Bible at Genesis 4:7, "sin is crouching at your door." The same motif occurs in Sirach 27:10, "As a lion crouches in wait for prey, so do sins for evildoers." Hamartia could also be a collective noun referring to sinful acts of mankind as in Isaiah 53:12, "He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors."
The verb "was," Grk. eimi, is in the imperfect tense. The imperfect tense is an auxiliary to the present tense, built on the present stem, functioning for it in the indicative to refer to continuous action in past time. The imperfect is a sort of moving panorama designed to help you see the course of the act. The imperfect tense would favor the latter meaning for sin. If we may assume that "until law" refers to the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, then Paul is saying that there never was a time from Adam until Moses that there was no sin in the world, which sets up the point in the next verse.
but sin is not imputed when there is no law: The second proposition appears to say that there was no sin before Sinai because the Torah had not been given. After all, a sinful act is one that violates a commandment of God's law (Rom 7:8; 1Jn 3:4). The truth is, of course, that sin was in the world long before the Torah was given to Moses. Sin began with Adam. Scripture is clear that from the beginning idolatry, murder, adultery and other offenses were condemned and punishable by God (Gen 2:17; 4:11-12; 6:5-7; 9:5-6; 20:3-10). The book of Job records diatribes against Job accusing him of all manner of crimes and Job's defense of his integrity and blameless lifestyle. Job and his three so-called friends were contemporaries (if not predating) the patriarchs. God condemned the iniquity of the tribes of Canaan long before the Law was given to Moses (Gen 15:16; Lev 18:24-28; 20:23).
On the other hand, Shulam suggests that law in the first proposition refers to the Torah known to Abraham. Genesis 26:5 says, "Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws [Heb. Torah]." This is the first usage of Torah in the Bible. Unfortunately the Torah given to Abraham had no legal framework in the sense of rewards and punishments nor a divinely constructed system of jurisprudence until Moses. Thus, the use of law in the second proposition likely refers to this legal framework.
14― Nevertheless: Grk. alla, an adversative conjunction used adverbially suggesting other matter or varying viewpoint for consideration. The nuance of contrast may be expressed with "but, on the other hand, yet, nevertheless, indeed or certainly." In this case Paul is not contradicting something he just said, but reinforcing it. death reigned, Grk. basileuō, to rule as king (Rienecker). Paul personifies death as a powerful potentate. While the reference to death may simply be of the universal experience of death since Adam, Paul's words may also hint of the demonic spirit that has power over death and those that arrive in the Pit (cf. Ex 12:23; Jdg 9:23; Hos 13:14; 1Cor 10:10; 15:55; 2Th 2:3; Rev 1:18; 6:8; 9:11; 17:8; 20:13-14). In His death and resurrection Yeshua conquered the demonic powers (Col 2:15). In 1Corinthians 10:10 Paul uses the personal taunt of Hosea 13:14, "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" (NKJV) Yeshua conquered this demonic prince, not merely in an abstract theological sense, but in a very personal sense.
from Adam: Grk. Adam (for Heb. Adam, "one that is red"), pronounced "Ah-dahm," an indeclinable name, but Adamos in Josephus (Ant. I, 1:2) (Thayer). Adam was the first man, created on the sixth day of creation and placed in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:19-23; 3:8-9). He and the woman God created for him (whom Adam named Chavah, "life," Gen 3:20) became the progenitors of the human race. Adam, unlike the animals, was created in the image of God (Gen 1:26). Created in innocence the first couple did not know sin, but when tempted by the Serpent they disobeyed God's commandment. As a result God punished the couple and all their offspring with death, both physical and spiritual. Indeed, all of creation has suffered because of their sin. Adam and Eve had multiple sons and daughters, only three of whom are named. Adam died at the age of 930 years (Gen 5:5).
until Moses: Grk. Mōusês (for Heb. Mosheh) is most likely derived from Egyptian mes meaning "child" or "son" (BDB 602), since the daughter of Pharaoh named him (Ex 2:10). She explained the chosen name by saying, "Because I drew [Heb. mashah, "to draw"] him out of the water." Moses was the great Hebrew leader, prophet and lawgiver of Israel. Moses was a Levite, the son of Amram and Jochebed, who was Amram's aunt (Ex 6:20). He had two wives, Zipporah (Ex 2:21; 18:2) and a Cushite woman (Num 12:1), and two sons of Zipporah, one named Gershom and the other named Eliezer (Ex 18:3-4). Moses was the leader of the Israelites in their deliverance from Egyptian slavery and oppression and their journey through the wilderness.
At Mount Sinai Moses served as mediator to facilitate the beginning of the covenant relationship between God and Israel. Forty years later on the plains of Moab Moses renewed the covenant with Israel and made preparations for their entry into the promised land. Moses compiled, wrote and/or edited the five books attributed to his name (Ex 24:4; Deut 31:9; Mark 12:19; Luke 24:27, 44; Acts 15:21; Rom 10:5) and left Israel with the rich legacy of God's Word. He was a heroic leader of the people and as a devout man of God. His story is found in the extensive narratives from Exodus 1:1 through Deuteronomy 34:1. Moses was a giant of a man. Moses died at the age of 120 and God buried him in the land of Moab (Deut 34:5-7).
Paul repeats his point in the previous verse in terms of personalities and major events - creation and covenant at Mt. Sinai. Death occurred because of the curse on Adam's sin and because people continued to break God's commandments.
The phrase those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam is an interesting argument. The NIV translates it as "those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam." This translation is not helpful, because how did "those" sin without breaking a command of God? Paul is making a comparative statement. The offense, Grk. parabasis, overstepping a boundary, transgression, of Adam was a willful intentional violation of a clear command of God. There are two points of comparison. First the likeness of Adam, Hebrew for "man," is simply an idiomatic expression of a man as in Hosea 6:7, "But they, just like men, have broken the covenant, they have been faithless in dealing with me" (CJB). We were not created in the likeness of angels (Heb 2:7), but from the dust of the earth. Second, death has not been restricted to those who sinned intentionally against God's commandments like Adam, but death has also been experienced by those who have sinned unintentionally. Paul could also be saying that death has come upon infants and the mentally retarded who would not be held responsible by the law of accountability (Robertson).
The verse ends with a passing thought that Adam is a type, Grk. tupos, a pattern or model, of Yeshua. There are obvious differences between the two men, as Paul details in verses 15-17.
The Supremacy of Yeshua's Work, 5:15-21
15― Paul offers five contrasts between Adam and Yeshua, the first of which sets up another kal v'chomer argument. But the free gift: Grk. charisma, free favor, free gift, benefit, a divinely conferred endowment (Mounce). is not like the transgression, Grk. paraptōma, false step, transgression, sin. and God's grace (see note on 1:5). The first contrast is between Adam's fault and God's favor. Both affected the many, a euphemism in this case for mankind (cf. 1Jn 2:2). As a God of love he delights much more in showing mercy and pardon than in giving just punishment. The gift surpasses the sin. It is not necessary to Paul’s argument to define "the many" further, but one obviously relates to the impact of Adam's sin, the other the impact of Messiah's sacrifice (Robertson). So, First contrast: transgression of Adam caused "the many" to die whereas the free gift of Yeshua resulted in grace for "the many."
16― Paul continues the contrasts. The gift: Grk. dōrēma, gift, free gift or bestowment. one: Grk. enos, adj., the numeral one. who sinned: Grk. hamartanō, aor. part., to miss and in a moral sense to do wrong. The verb is used of offenses against the moral law of God as defined in the Torah. The masculine phrase "one who sinned" is an allusion is to Adam and in his case he was given one prohibition which he violated. Paul uses the metaphor of "the one" to substitute for Adam and Yeshua respectively in verses 16-19 without mentioning their names. The contrast of this verse compares the judgment on Adam and the restoration offered to Adam's descendants, but he resorts to the clever rhetorical device of word play by using five words that end in -ma. for on the one hand the judgment: Grk. krima may refer to (1) a dispute or lawsuit; (2) a decision or decree; (3) judging or judgment as the function of a judge; or (4) judicial verdict (BAG). In this case the third meaning would be appropriate.
arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, Grk. katakrima, which adds the preposition kata ("down" or "against" GEL 406) to krima, with the resulting meaning of punishment or doom (GEL 413). Katakrima is not merely "condemnation" as Bible versions translate. The punishment on Adam and Eve naturally followed the divine judicial review. but on the other hand the free gift, Grk. charisma. See the note on the previous verse. Here the free gift is the obedience of Yeshua to be an atoning sacrifice. arose from many transgressions, pl. of Grk. paraptōma. See the note on the previous verse. resulting in: Grk. eis, prep., which simply means "into." Edwards points out that the result is being reconciled to God.
justification: Grk. dikaiōma, a declaration with binding force, used of ordinances incumbent on humans, precept, requirement; and of a sovereign pronouncement, decree. BAG suggests that dikaiōma is equivalent to dikaiōsis, which means justification, vindication or acquittal and may refer to the process as well as the result. A few versions translate dikaiōma as "acquittal" (CEB, CJB, MW, OJB), but this is an inaccurate interpretation. In legal terms an acquittal is a finding of innocence and those who benefit from Yeshua's atoning sacrifice are not innocent. Instead, justification is equivalent to removing the penalty of sin and granting a full pardon. So, the second contrast is that the transgression of Adam resulted in separation from God, whereas the free gift of sacrificial offering by the Second Adam resulted in obliteration of our offenses and restoration of relationship with God.
17― Transgression, Grk. paraptōma (see v. 15 above). Paul clarifies his contrast between Adam and Yeshua further, this time that death reigned, Grk. basileuō (see v. 14 above) as a result of Adam's transgression and the promise of reigning through Yeshua. He again personifies death, Grk. ho thanatos, "the death," as exercising the power of a monarch over Adam's posterity. It is noteworthy that "reigned" is in the aorist (past) tense, whereas will reign is in the future tense. Paul anticipates the praise of the heavenly elders, "You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth" (Rev 5:10). The future reign begins with the resurrection when the last enemy will finally be destroyed (1Cor 15:24, 54). So, the third contrast is that whereas death reigned over all human life as a result of Adam's transgression, the gift of Yeshua's righteousness will provide eternal life.
18― There are no verbs in the Greek text of this verse, forcing translators to supply phrases like "came through one transgression," "resulted from one transgression," etc. (NET). Paul concludes his argument by summing up his points in verses 12 and 14. It's incredible to think what one transgression wrought, referring to the sin of Adam (Gen 3:1-24). The same is true in our lives. One sinful act has far-reaching effects. The act of righteousness refers to Yeshua's atoning sacrifice. Adam disobeyed the commandment of his Creator whereas the Second Adam obeyed his Father (John 10:18). Through the merit of Yeshua's atonement we can receive the gift of righteousness for this life and the life to come. The gift is for all men, not just the Church as some theologians have asserted. The promise to Abraham was that his seed would bless all nations (Gen 12:2-3; 22:18; Rom 11:32; 1Tim 4:10; Titus 2:11). Yeshua said, "and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (John 12:32).
The fourth contrast combines elements of the previous contrasts: "condemnation" (judgment) from the second contrast, "justification" from the second contrast and eternal "life" from the third contrast.
19― Made, Grk. kathistēmi may mean (1) bring, conduct, take someone somewhere; (2) appoint, put in charge; or (3) make or cause someone to become something. The first instance of the verb (aorist passive) refers to a completed event in the past in which the many, or mankind, became sinners, Grk. harmartōlos, one who does not live by the way of righteousness as defined by God's Law. Some interpreters would say that Paul developed the perspective of Christianity that man sins because he is a sinner as opposed to the position of Judaism that man is a sinner because he sins. Such reductionism is simplistic and inaccurate. Both propositions are true and may be deduced from Paul's words. Paradoxical or seemingly contradictory truths are common-place in the Bible just as they are in science. Perhaps this statement might be among those Peter found hard to understand (2Pet 3:16). The verb kathistēmi has a goal in mind, so Paul is thinking both of the origin and the result of a global phenomenon. The issue is not whether Adam's offspring were sinners when they were born. Paul is simply observing that all people are sinners because of Adam.
The second instance of made is future passive. Stern observes, "while being declared righteous before God is still in view, the use of the future tense suggests the ongoing extension of that declared righteousness into actual righteousness." Paul might also be implying the future perfecting in the resurrection that will fit the body of Messiah to live in the presence of a holy God, as he suggests in other passages:
"that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at [lit. "in"] the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints." (1Th 3:13)
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at [lit. "in"] the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Th 5:23)
"in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2Tim 4:8)
The fifth contrast is that the transgression of Adam made "the many" into sinners whereas the obedience of Yeshua "the many" will be made into saints.
20― The Law came in so that the transgression would increase does not mean that God cruelly created more commandments just to have more sins to condemn people with. This statement has been given a negative connotation because the verb came, Grk. pareiserchomai, is defined as "to slip in" (NET; also BAG 630, which adds the pejorative comment of the Law coming in as a side issue and has no primary place in the Divine plan). The only other use of pareiserchomai is at Galatians 2:4 where it does have the meaning of "to slip in unawares." However, Rienecker defines the word as "to come in along side, to come into the side of a state of things already existing. Robertson points out that both meanings may be found in the papyri evidence. In this verse Paul no doubt intended the latter definition. The Torah did not sneak in; God gave it to Moses to give to the people and it was accomplished with much drama (Ex 19:16).
The natural meaning of pareiserchomai in context may be deduced by etymology since the word is formed by combining two prepositions, para, "alongside," and eis, "into," with the verb erchomai "to come." Paul's point is that the purpose of the Torah was to make God's people aware of the breadth of sinful acts and teach the way of righteousness. In other words, unrighteous offenses occurred before the Law was given to Moses, but they had not been codified into statute form. Once the Law was given people realized that more of their behaviors were sinful than they realized. The clause where sin increased, grace abounded is no excuse for sinning as Paul will confront in the next chapter. Paul is simply observing that God did not allow the pervasiveness of sin to defeat his purposes, but instead provided a method of atonement.
21― Verse 21 sums up all that has been said since 3:21 (Stern). In verses 14 and 17 Paul says that death reigned, but now he says that sin reigned in death. This expression personifies sin (see note on 3:9) and anticipates the "law of sin and death" of 8:2. The verb "reigned" (aorist active) again points backward to that infamous watershed event in the Garden of Eden and the result that people began to die. Yet, God's grace abounded so that it might reign (aorist subjunctive) in the present through righteousness, Grk. dikaiosunē, (see note at 1:17), and in the future to eternal life, lit. "into eternal life." The work of grace will not be finished until we achieve the resurrection.
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