Click here to read the previous commentary: chapter 4.
I highly recommend you download and read the PDF version which has some additional formatting and annotations which make it easier to follow: Devotional Commentary on Romans 5
ROMANS 5:1-2 – ESV
1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
ROMANS 5:1-2 – Commentary
Verse 1: Continuing from chapter 4—since or based on δικαιωθέντες [dikaiōthentes]—“having been justified” by faith, we have peace with God—whereas before we were at enmity with God (Rom. 8:7, James 4:4).
Verse 2: ἐσχήκαμεν [eschēkamen]—”we have” (perfect tense) προσαγωγὴν [prosagōgēn]—translated “access” has the meaning of intimate, face-to-face access into this grace in which ἑστήκαμεν [hestēkamen]—“we stand” (perfect tense), and we καυχώμεθα [kauchōmetha]—translated “rejoice” more literally means “boast, with head held high”—in the hope of the glory of God! These perfect tense verbs tell us of a new state of being we have entered into—i.e. justified and standing in grace.
ROMANS 5:3-5 – ESV
3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Verse 3: Furthermore, we also boast or rejoice in θλίψεσιν [thlipsesin]—“tribulation, persecution, pressure”—literally, “hemmed in by internal pressure,” εἰδότες [eidotes]—“knowing” (perfect tense) that it κατεργάζεται [katergazetai]—“produces”—literally, “works down to the end-point, to an exact, definite conclusion”—endurance.
Verse 4: This endurance produces δοκιμήν [dokimēn]—“character” or “approval through testing” as obviously we only truly ‘endure’ when we are being tested by some sort of difficulty. This is what produces this ‘character or approval’ which leads to hope which doesn’t put us to shame.
Verse 5: Because God’s love ἐκκέχυται [ekkechytai]—“has been poured out; figuratively, to bestow—gush out, run greedily out, shed abroad, spilt” (perfect middle) into our hearts and the Holy Spirit δοθέντος [dothentos]—“has been given” (aorist passive – simple completed action – if you’re saved, you have the Spirit), we are not put to shame. So God’s love is lavished upon us by the use of suffering, to ultimately produce endurance and character in the true believer which produces hope (v.3-5) which leads us to rejoice because of the intimate access we have by faith into the grace in which we stand(v.1-2). We don’t get the hope without the suffering or trials—for they show us that God’s love has indeed been poured into our hearts because the Spirit has been given to us as our Comforter in these trials.
ROMANS 5:6-11 – ESV
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
ROMANS 5:6-11 – Commentary
Verse 6: While we were still ἀσθενῶν [asthenōn]—“without strength” or “weak”—unable to do it for ourselves—while we were in this state, Christ came and died for the ungodly.
Verses 6-10: Paul is arguing to show how πολλῷ μᾶλλον [pollō mallon]—”much more”—we have confidence of redemption (see also v.15 & 17) since even while we were weak, sinners and enemies God showed His love by sending Christ to die in our place. People will only rarely give their life for a good person—so, how much more do we have confidence that we will be saved from wrath and saved by His life now that we have been reconciled while we weren’t even righteous but were actually enemies? Paul makes a distinction of a change of affairs—we were once enemies and now we are reconciled. Therefore, because we were shown favour/grace while we were enemies, how much more do we have confidence having been justified by God. God took the first steps while we wanted nothing to do with Him—Paul has made this abundantly clear in the four previous chapters—this argument simply doesn’t work at all in Arminianism which argues that we synergistically move towards God as He moves toward us. The simple fact is that it was actually monergistic—God was the mover. This is why we rejoice and have confidence through Christ! Because He who made that first move is faithful to not turn back on His choice to save us. If salvation is synergistic, Paul’s argument breaks down and we don’t have this hope.
ROMANS 5:12-17 – ESV
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
ROMANS 5:12-17 – Commentary
Verse 12-18: Paul is making a point: as death came though one man—Adam—righteousness/life also comes through one man—Christ. Adam was a τύπος [typos]—“figure, model or type” of one to come—Christ. Adam then was our ‘federal head or representative’ so that when Adam sinned, all sinned and died in Adam. Likewise, Christ is our federal head so that through His righteousness, all would live. The point being that Christ became our representative—that is why Paul can say in Galatians 2:20 that he has been “crucified with Christ” and it is no longer “I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” We’re united both in His death for sin and resurrection to eternal life.
Verses 15-17: In verse 15, the free gift is not like the παράπτωμα [paraptōma]—“trespass” or “a falling away, i.e. a deviation from the truth” (in Adam in Genesis 3). Whereas Adam broke God’s one command in Genesis, Jesus fulfilled all of God’s commands, so this free gift by grace abounds “much more.” The δωρεὰ [dōrea]—“free gift or donation, something freely given and not acquired by merit”—is Christ. Verse 16 is literally translated, “not as by the one having sinned (Adam) is the δώρημα [dōrēma]—(Christ). For truly judgment out of one (Adam) was unto condemnation but the grace out of many trespasses (through Christ) was unto justification.” Verse 17 links us back to verse 14, concluding that how “much more” will those who have received the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness in Christ reign than when death reigned through Adam.
ROMANS 5:18-21 – ESV
18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
ROMANS 5:18-21 – Commentary
Verses 18-19: Paul’s summary of his argument. The “all” in these verses does not apply to all humanity without any constraints—since then Paul would be advocating some sort of universalism where everyone is saved—however that would ignore the context of everything he had written in the previous chapters. Paul is simply making a general summary of the effectuality of Christ’s work to justify many as Adam’s sin effected condemnation to many. It is clearly seen in verse 19 where the phrase again is repeated but this time with “the many” referring to a specific/definite group in mind. That is, with regards to sin—all those who died in Adam (i.e. All of mankind), and with regards to righteousness—all those who died and rose in Christ (i.e. the saved elect). Also Paul restated that this justification is by faith in the opening verses of this chapter.
Verse 20: Paul uses a clever word play in Greek here. Whereas through the law, the trespass ἐπλεόνασεν [epleonasen] “abounded,” now grace ὑπερεπερίσσευσεν [hypereperisseusen]—“ultra/super abounded.”
Verse 21: The reign of sin in death has been overthrown by Christ, who now reigns by grace through righteousness which leads to eternal life for those saved. This also connects back to verses 12-14 and 17.
Paul continues on the subject of justification by faith here by stating that because we have been justified, we now have peace with God—as opposed to being under the just wrath of God which he established in chapters 1 to 3. Let us not forget that to get to chapter 5, we had to pass through chapters 1-4! Many forget this in their Gospel presentation. This new standing grants us intimate access to God through Christ—”in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.” (Ephesians 3:12) The writer of Hebrews likewise encourages us this way, “let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) This is the grace in which we stand and thus why we rejoice in hope! But not just any hope, hope of the glory of God—for it is to His glory that God has done all of this. And since God is ultimately for His own glory—this hope which is based in the glory of God will never put us to shame.
As if this wasn’t enough, Paul explains what could be seen as the negative side—that we rejoice even in suffering because it produces even more hope which doesn’t put us to shame but rather confirms all the more that God’s love has been lavished on us. Our sanctification by God’s use of suffering and trials is actually one of the things which produces our assurance of salvation! The aforementioned “access” becomes important since now we can boldly come to God in full assurance that He hears us in our trials and is for our ultimate good. The Holy Spirit helps us through these sufferings, as He has been given as our Comforter—and who needs a Comforter if we’re always comfortable? So far from these trials being a discouragement to the believer, they are actually a tremendous source of hope—because in them our character is refined to produce more hope of the glory of God! What confidence then the believer possesses that even when life goes bad it still only serves to increase his hope!
Paul continues to pile on his case for the believer’s hope and confidence by showing us that while we were weak and unable to do anything for ourselves to affect our own salvation, while we were still rebellious ungodly sinners, while we were hostile enemies—Christ died for us and reconciled us to God. This is far outside any notion of our seeking God. Paul has gone through much strain in the first three chapters to show that “no one seeks God” (Romans 3:11). Many talk about being ‘seeker sensitive’ in our approach to evangelism. However, we were not the seekers, God was. So sure, be Seeker sensitive—just know that it was God who sought you out, and you should be sensitive to that! Therefore, what we should be is unashamed of the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16)! Our confidence then is all the more multiplied that if people would rarely even dare to die for a righteous person, and Christ died for the unrighteous, we are all the more confident that we will be saved to life. This is why again Paul ends this section in reason for rejoicing again(verse 11)! There is joy all over this chapter!
Paul moves his thought to comparing Adam and Christ. It shows us how completely Jesus has undone the damage of the fall in Adam through His life and redemption on the Cross. Now, as death reigned in all the sons of Adam, life will reign in all the sons of God in Christ. Jesus is superior to Adam in his obedience, life, and bringing justification and righteousness to the many. It is interesting as a side note, that Christ was not the only person on earth to be the federal head representative for all—so it is not necessary that Adam was either. Now, this is not necessarily saying that Adam was or was not the only man on earth at that time, but rather that Paul’s argument rests on him being a τύπος “type”. Interestingly, this is how we also see Adam referred to in the early chapters of Genesis as הָֽאָדָ֜ם [hā·’ā·ḏām] (mankind) rather than a proper name without the article (Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5,7; 3:8). I simply point this out to show that Paul’s argument doesn’t rest on Adam being the only person in existence, only that he represented all as Christ also represented all. This is interesting, however it isn’t the primary focus of this text and Paul’s point is that Christ now reigns through His death and resurrection in the life of those who believe in Him.
Oh God, what joy there is to us who believe and have been saved by Your grace! Let us never neglect the amazing fact that we have peace with the great God and Judge of the world. May we marvel that we have such amazing intimate access to Your throne every time we pray because of the great grace You have given to us. Help us also to rejoice in our sufferings with the confidence that, having been justified, Lord, You are for us and working all things for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose! Would you continue to produce in us endurance, character and hope that we may grow in our confidence which rests in Your Son. Thank You that You did not wait for us to come to You, but You sought us out, made us alive in Christ, justified us and saved us from wrath. May we never lose the joy of our salvation!
Thank You that the free gift of Christ is so much better than what we had inherited through Adam. Thank You for Your grace which super abounded over our sin. You reign forever—may we glorify and honour You, being constantly ready to share this hope we have with all around us to the glory of Your Name. May the joy we have in this glorious Gospel produce in us boldness and a life overflowing with thankfulness. Amen.