Author’s comment. These verse-by-verse notes are taken from Andrew Womack’s commentary (sometimes edited), John Wesley’s commentary (unedited), The Passion Translation notes, the English Standard Version notes, and personal thoughts. Translations are taken from biblegateway.com.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
AMP. Therefore, since we have been justified [that is, acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God] by faith, [let us grasp the fact that] we have peace with God [and the joy of reconciliation with Him] through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed).
TPT. “Our faith in Jesus transfers God’s righteousness to us and he now declares us flawless in his eyes. This means that we can now enjoy true and lasting peace with God, all because of what our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, has done for us.” Or “having already been declared righteous.” We are declared righteous in the eyes of a Holy God. This is the wonder of Grace. The Greek word for peace can also mean “to join.” We have entered the union of our lives with God’s peace and enjoy eternal friendship with God. The Hebrew word is shalom which means abundant peace and well-being.
ESV. Christians have the objective legal standing, through faith in Christ of being justified (made righteous in the eyes of a Holy God) and declared to be righteous forever. We no longer live in the fear of judgment and God’s wrath, and we have peace with God – peace being a legal, objective reality, not a subjective feeling.
Wesley. Being justified by faith — This is the sum of the preceding chapters.
We have peace with God — Being enemies to God no longer, Romans 5:10; neither fearing his wrath, Romans 5:9. We have peace, hope, love, and power over sin, the sum of the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth chapters. These are the fruits of justifying faith: where these are not, that faith is not.
Womack. The word “therefore” means “for that reason; consequently.” Abraham’s life shows that justification comes by faith. The truths about Abraham and faith were not written for his sake alone but for ours’s also. We are also justified by faith (Romans 4:23-24). Having established the centrality of justification by faith, Paul lists its benefits.
The first benefit of being justified by faith is peace. Peace only comes when we relate to God based on faith – praising Him for what He did for us instead of what we do for Him. Those who perform, to achieve a holy standard, to be accepted by God won’t have peace. Performance puts the burden of gaining salvation on our shoulders and we can’t bear that load.
We couldn’t live holy enough to please God before we were saved, and we can’t live, in our strength, holy enough to please God after we are saved (Hebrews 11:6). We were saved by faith; we walk with God by faith (Colossians 2:6). Trying to walk in our strength and not walking by faith has caused many Christians who love God to fail to gain and enjoy the peace that is provided for them through faith in Jesus. The Gospel of peace is a gospel of faith (Luke 2:14, Romans 10:15, and Ephesians 6:15).
“Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
AMP. “Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.”
Wesley. Into this grace — This state of favor.
The Greek word translated “access” means “admission.” See also Ephesians 2:18; 3:12). Faith is our admission, or ticket, into God’s Grace. Our good works don’t give us admission. Faith is our ticket to God’s grace.
The Greek word translated “rejoice” was translated “glory” in Romans 5:3 and “joy” in Romans 5:11. That word means “to vaunt (in a good or a bad sense).” It’s derived from a root word which means “to boast.” Paul rejoiced because of the grace he had been given and because of his hope of being glorified with Jesus. Anybody could rejoice for these good things, but Paul went on to say that he had the same rejoicing even during tribulation. Not many people rejoice during the hard times. But Paul could make this boast because he was totally convinced of the faithfulness and unconditional grace of God. Those who can’t rejoice during tribulation are not convinced.
Rejoicing and hope are closely related. We cannot rejoice in trying times if we have no hope. Therefore, hope is important in the Christian life.
ESV. The grace in which we stand refers to the secure position of the believer’s standing (as a blessing of justification), and the hope of the glory of God refers to the promise that Christians will be glorified and perfected at the last day – a hope that results in joy.
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.”
AMP. “And not only this, but with joy let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship, distress, pressure, and trouble produces patient endurance.”
TPT. “But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance.” Pressure is “thlipsis”, often translated “tribulation.”
Wesley. We glory in tribulations also — Which we are so far from esteeming a mark of God's displeasure, that we receive them as tokens of his fatherly love, whereby we are prepared for a more exalted happiness. The Jews objected to the persecuted state of the Christians as inconsistent with the people of the Messiah. It is therefore with great propriety that the apostle so often mentions the blessings arising from this very thing.
Womack. Paul just expressed his joy when considering the Second Coming of Jesus and the glory to be revealed in us (Romans 8:18) at His coming. It’s easy to rejoice about heaven; Paul also rejoiced amid tribulation. Can we say the same? Being justified by faith gave Paul the strength to rejoice amid tribulation.
When we trust that God loves us because of who He is and not because of our performance for Him, we rejoice—in the good times but also in the hard times. Our faith remains steadfast. However, those who trust in their own efforts may be devastated in times of trouble because they know they’re getting what they deserve. They feel that they must clean up their act before they can expect any help. Their attention will be on self instead of Jesus, the Author and Finisher of their faith (Hebrews 12:2).
In Romans 5:6-8, Paul illustrated the Depth of God’s love for us when stating that Jesus died for us even when we were ungodly. If God loved us when we were His enemies, then how much more does He love us now that we are His children? That truth enabled Paul to rejoice even in tribulation. If God bring justified him, brought him into saving grace, while he was a sinner, then how much more, now that he is reconciled to God, will God work whatever comes against him for his good!
Tribulations exist, not because God creates them, but because of the battle that God allows satan to wage. When we operate in faith, God grants us such victory that we’re strengthened through the battle.
Tribulations and adversities are not blessings from God; they are attacks from the enemy intended to steal the Word of God from our lives. Temptations don’t come from God; God doesn’t tempt anyone (James 1:13). God gives us spoils when we fight and win over our problems.
If problems perfected us, most Christians would have been perfected long and those who experience the greatest problems would be the greatest Christians, but that’s not the way it is. God’s Word makes us perfect and thoroughly furnished unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). God’s Word does not need to be supplemented with problems to accomplish its work.
Those who believe God ordained the problems in their lives to work redemptive virtue will submit to those problems and therefore to Satan, the author of those problems. They must, in their way of thinking, or they would be rebelling against God. Yet James 4:7 tells us to submit ourselves to God and resist the devil. If Satan can reverse our thinking on this issue and get us to submit to the problems he brings into our lives, he’s got us (Romans 6:16).
Paul rejoiced in tribulation. He had the opportunity to use, and therefore strengthen, his patience that had already been given him as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and through the Word of God (Romans 15:4). As he believed that, as he stood in patience, he gained experience that caused him to grow in hope.
Likewise, we rejoice in tribulation, knowing that regardless of what the devil does, God will give us the victory and victory’s spoils.
The word “worketh” means “to work fully, i.e. accomplish; by implication, to finish, fashion.” Paul did not say that tribulations produce patience. Patience comes from the Scriptures (Romans 15:4). But tribulations cause us to use what God has given us through His Word, and we become stronger as a result.
Patience means “the capacity, quality, or fact of being patient.” Patience “perseveres. The Greek word for “patience” means “cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy” (Strong’s Concordance). Patience is an active word.
Patience is faith—faith that is sustained over a long period of time. Patience comes from the Scriptures (Romans 15:4), just as faith does (Romans 10:17). Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, just like faith (Galatians 5:22-23). By faith, Moses endured (the definition of patience, Hebrews 11:27). It was through faith and patience that Abraham received the promise (Hebrews 6:12-15)—and not just faith, but a faith that was constant over a twenty-five-year period.
Therefore, patience is not passively waiting on God to do something but is actively believing for the manifestation of God’s promise against all odds, regardless of how long it takes. That kind of faith will make you perfect and complete, not wanting for any good thing (James 1:4).
Patience is a byproduct of hope. Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” When people have hope, no obstacle or length of time can keep them from enduring. That’s why the Scriptures produce patience, because they give people hope (Romans 15:4).
Patience, hope, and faith are intertwined. People can’t have one without the others. Hope comes from God’s Word. Then faith gives substance and evidence to those things that are hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). If time drags on before the answer comes, patience does its perfect work (James 1:4).
ESV. God’s people rejoice not only in future glory, but in present trials and sufferings, not because trials are pleasant but because they produce a step-by-step transformation that makes believers more like Christ.
“And perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
AMP “And endurance or fortitude develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity, spiritual maturity). And character of this sort produces the habit of joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.”
TPT. “And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope.”
Wesley. And patience works more experience of the sincerity of our grace, and of God's power and faithfulness.
Womack. The Greek word for “experience” means “approved character; the quality of being approved as a result of test and trials.” It can be defined as “the temper of the veteran as opposed to that of the raw recruit.” This verse speaks of the character that comes because of fighting and winning battles.
Hope alone doesn’t give people victory. Many people hope for things and yet don’t realize those hopes because they never move into faith. Faith causes people to overcome the world (1 John 5:4), yet faith won’t work without hope.
Faith produces what we hope for (Hebrews 11:1). Therefore, hope is the first step toward faith.
Hope means “a desire accompanied by confident expectation, “so desiring the things of God with expectation of obtaining them is the first step in walking in faith. Once hope is present, faith brings the desired thing into manifestation. If a delay is encountered, patience completes the work.
Our experience “worketh” hope. However, (Romans 15:4) says that hope comes through the Scriptures. Therefore, the character that is developed through tribulations adds to the hope that we have already received through God’s Word.
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
AMP. “Such hope [in God’s promises] never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
TPT. “But this hope is not a disappointing fantasy (this hope does not put one to shame), because we cannot experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us (or was given to us).”
Wesley. Hope shames us not — That is, gives us the highest glorying. We glory in this our hope, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts - The divine conviction of God's love to us, and that love to God which is both the earnest and the beginning of heaven. By the Holy Ghost — The efficient cause of all these present blessings, and the earnest of those to come.
ESV. Followers of Christ have no reason to fear humiliation on the Day of Judgment, for they now belong to God. They know that the have received God’s love because the Holy Spirit has poured his love into their hearts at conversion.
Womack. Galatians 5:6 says faith works by love, but hope works by love also. God’s great love for us is the motivation for faith and hope. It causes us to be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
AMP. “While we were yet in weakness, powerless to help ourselves, at the fitting time Christ died for and on behalf of the ungodly.”
TPT. “For when the time was right, the Anointed One came and died to demonstrate his love for sinners who were entirely helpless, weak, and powerless to save themselves.”
ESV. Paul grounds the subjective experience of God’s love in the objective work of Christ on the cross. Weak here denotes lack of moral strength and is parallel to ungodly.
Wesley. How can we now doubt of God's love? For when we were without strength - Either to think, will, or do anything good. In due time — Neither too soon nor too late; but in that very point of time which the wisdom of God knew to be more proper than any other. Christ died for the ungodly — Not only to set them a pattern, or to procure them power to follow it. It does not appear that this expression, of dying for anyone, has any other signification than that of rescuing the life of another by laying down our own.
Womack. Before our new birth, we were weak, ungodly, sinners (Romans 5:8), and enemies of God (Romans 5:10). The Lord didn’t save us because we deserved it; it was an act of grace. Paul pointed out that if God loved us enough to die for us when we were weak, ungodly, sinners, and enemies, then much more that we are now justified (Romans 5:9) and reconciled (Romans 5:10), He is willing to save and help us.
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.”
“Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to willingly give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a good man, one who is noble, selfless, and worthy, someone might even dare to die.”
ESV. Christ didn’t die for righteous people or even for good doers; He died for sinners, for the ungodly, for the sexually immoral, for the covetousness, for murderers, for haters, for in willful rebellion against God. It was Christ’s love that was shown at Calvary, but also the Father’s love. It was the admixture of God’s pure righteousness/justice, His mercy, and His love that led to His plan to save sinners of offering Jesus at Calvary. Love was the dominant motive.
Womack. Paul illustrates by analogy God’s love shown to us through grace. He drew on the greatest expression of love known to man: laying down your life for another (John 15:13). One can imagine someone giving up their life for another. But it’s inconceivable to imagine anyone giving up his life for his enemy. Yet that’s what God in Christ did (Romans 5:10). Given that eternal truth, how can we doubt God’s love for us?
Wesley. A just man — One who gives to all what is strictly their due the good man - One who is eminently holy, full of love, of compassion, kindness, mildness, of every heavenly and amiable temper. Perhaps-one-would-even-dare to die — Every word increases the strangeness of the thing and declares even this to be something great and unusual.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
AMP. “But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
TPT. “But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly.”
Wesley. But God recommends — A most elegant expression. Those are wont to be recommended to us, who were before either unknown to, or alienated from, us. While we were sinners — So far from being good, that we were not even just.
The Message: “We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” What great love God has for us.
This verse illustrates the unconditional love God has toward us as sinners (and afterwards). In context, Paul is talking about the grace of God. This verse is compared to Romans 5:9-10. The truth that “God loved us when we hated Him” is joined to verses 9-10. Not viewing them together can cause us to accept salvation by grace through faith, but then come back under the deception that we must live good enough for God to use us as we walk as Christians. These verses, taken in context, conclusively prove that we begin and continue our walk with God through faith in His grace (Colossians 2:6).
“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
“Therefore, since we have now been justified - declared free of the guilt of sin - by His blood, how much more certain is it that we will be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”
TPT. “And there is still much more to say of His unfailing love for us! For through the blood of Jesus we have heard the powerful declaration ‘you are now righteous in my sight.’ And because of the sacrifice of Jesus, you will never experience the wrath of God.”
ESV. Christians are now justified (“just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned) by virtue of Christ’s blood poured out at his death on Calvary. Christians are absolutely saved from the Day of Wrath because Jesus took that wrath.
Wesley. We shall be saved from wrath through him — That is, from all the effects of the wrath of God. But is there then wrath in God? Is not wrath a human passion? And how can this human passion be in God? We may answer this by another question: Is not love a human passion? And how can this human passion be in God? But to answer directly: wrath in man, and so love in man, is a human passion. But wrath in God is not a human passion; nor is love, as it is in God. Therefore, the inspired writers ascribe both the one and the other to God only in an analogical sense.
Womack. The phrase “much more” that is used in Romans 5:9-10 is amazing. It would be wonderful to know that after our salvation God continued to love us with the same degree of love that He had for us before our salvation. That degree of love being proved by His willingness to sacrifice His beloved Son for us while we were sinners. But Paul says that once we are justified by grace through faith, God loves us much more. Being loved the same would be great, more would have been awesome, but much more is beyond our ability to comprehend. Many Christians accept the love of God for the sinners. They extend love toward the drunks or adulterers if they are lost, but if the drunks or adulterers receive the forgiveness of God and ever commit one of those sins again, they show no mercy. Do we practically believe that God ceases to love us or that He loves us less after we are saved? We got by with things before we were saved, but now we must be holy or else. These verses clearly teach that is not the truth. God loves us much more now than He did before our salvation. And before our salvation, He loved us so much that He died for us. He loves us even more now. Does this mean that living a holy life is not necessary? It means that our own holiness is not a requirement. We are acceptable to God by grace through faith. But those of us who are truly born again have had a change of heart. We want to live holy (1 John 3:3). However, we all fail to be as holy as we want to be. When we fail, this knowledge that God loves us more now than when He sent His Son to die for us will keep us from being condemned and draw back from serving God.
“For if when 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.”
TPT. “So, if while we were still enemies, God fully reconciled us to himself through the death of his son, then something greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, and because we share in his resurrection life, how much more we will be rescued from sin’s dominion. Note #1. The Greek verb for reconciled is “exchanged.” That is, He exchanged our ins for his righteousness and thus reconciled us to God. The reign of death is caused by the guilt of sin. Note #2 for “rescued from sin’s dominion: Jo. 14: 19; Heb. 7:25.
AMP. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more [certain], now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin’s dominion) through His [resurrection] life.”
Wesley. We shalt be saved — Sanctified and glorified. Through his life — Who "ever liveth to make intercession for us."
Womack. Romans 5:9 is the point Paul is getting to after conveying the truth of verse 8. If God loved us as sinners so much that He was willing to die for us, then much more does He love us as saints. These two thoughts are combined in this verse.
Jesus’ death paid our debt and reconciled us to God. His resurrection gives us His supernatural power to reign in life (Galatians 1:4) (over sin and over circumstances).
ESV. Since Christians are now reconciled to God through Christ’s death, they can be assured that they will be saved (sozo includes justification, sanctification, glorification, freedom from final condemnation, future rewards, deliverance from evil in this life, peace, etc.) on the Day to come. Both Christ’s death and resurrection are necessary for our salvation.
“And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
TPT. “And even more than that, we overflow with triumphant joy (boasting) in our new relationship of living reconciled to God – all because of Jesus Christ.”
AMP. “Not only so, but we also rejoice and exultingly glory in God’s love and perfection, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received and enjoy our reconciliation.
Wesley. And not only so, but we also glory — The whole sentence, from the third to the eleventh verse, may be taken together thus: We not only "rejoice in hope of the glory of God," but also during tribulations we glory in God himself through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Womack The Greek word translated “reconciliation” means “exchange,” i.e. restoration to the divine favor.” Christianity is the great exchange. We exchanged our sin for His righteousness (Romans 5:19 and 2 Corinthians 5:21). We exchanged our sickness for His health (1 Peter 2:24). We exchanged our sorrow for His joy (Isaiah 61:3). It’s already done. We have received it already. Thank You, Jesus.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—”
AMP. “Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all men, [no one being able to stop it or to escape its power] because all men sinned.”
TPT. “When Adam sinned, the entire world was affected. Sin entered human experience, and death was the result. And so, death followed this sin, casting its shadow over all humanity.”
Wesley. Therefore — This refers to all the preceding discourse; from which the apostle infers what follows. He does not therefore properly make a digression but returns to speak again of sin and of righteousness. As by one man — Adam, who is mentioned, and not Eve, as being the representative of mankind. Sin entered the world — Actual sin, and its consequence, a sinful nature. And death — With all its attendants. It entered the world when it entered being; for till then it did not exist. By sin — Therefore it could not enter before sin. Even so — Namely, by one man. In that — So the word is used also, 2 Corinthians 5:4. All sinned — In Adam. These words assign the reason why death came upon all men; infants themselves not excepted, in that all sinned.
ESV. There is a certain, future hope for those who trust in Christ. Adam brought sin and death into the world, but Christ reversed what Adam did and gave his blood to insure our future glorification. Note that death came through sin; it was not part of “natural life” at creation. Death is the last enemy (I Cor. 15:26) that is conquered by Christ for us.
“For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.”
AMP. To be sure sin was in the world even before the Law was given, but sin is not charged to men’s account where there is no law to transgress.
TPT. “Sin was in the world before Moses gave the written law, but it was not charged against them where no law existed.” That is, there was no ability to be charged and found guilty of breaking the law.
ESV. Sin was not reckoned to men before the giving of the Mosaic law. Paul does not mean that people were guiltless before the law was given. He said in 2:12 that those without the written law are judged by the law in their consciences.
Wesley. For until the law sin was in the world-All, I say, had sinned, for sin was in the world long before the written law; but I grant, sin is not so much imputed, nor so severely punished by God, where there is no express law to convince men of it. Yet that all had sinned, even then, appears in that all died.
Womack. Note: Womack doesn’t discuss God holding man accountable for sin because he knows in this conscience that right and wrong exist intuitively. His thought runs only to the written law. --- Romans 5:13-17 is a parenthetical phrase. In Romans 5:12, Paul likened imputed righteousness to imputed sin. He interrupted that thought to explain how God dealt with man’s sin nature from the time of Adam until the time of Moses. Until the Law was given, sin was not imputed to people. The most-used Greek word for “impute” is “LOGIZOMAI,” an accounting term meaning that God didn’t enter people’s sins in the account book. In this instance, a different Greek word is used but it has virtually the same meaning. This is a radical statement. Most people have interpreted God’s dealings with man after Adam’s sin to be immediate rejection and banishment from His presence. In other words, it was an immediate imputing of man’s sins. However, Paul was stating the opposite. God was not holding people’s sins against them until the time that the Law of Moses was given. It should change the way we think about God’s dealings with man between the Fall and the giving of the Law. Adam and Eve were not driven from the Garden of Eden because God could not stand them in His presence anymore. God’s dealings with Adam and Eve and their children in Genesis 4 prove His presence was still with them. The reason He drove them from Eden was to keep them from eating of the Tree of Life and living forever. Instead of this being a punitive act, it was an act of mercy. It would have been terrible for people to live forever in sinful bodies, subject to all the emotions and diseases that sin brings. God had a better plan through Jesus. God was even merciful to the first murderer (Genesis 4:9-15), to the point of placing a mark on his forehead and promising vengeance if anyone tried to kill him (to protect him). In contrast, once the Law was given, the first man to break the ordinance of the Sabbath was stoned to death for picking up sticks (Numbers 15:32-36). That doesn’t seem equitable. But before the Law, God did not impute people’s sins unto them as He did after Law was given (The Flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah were two notable exceptions. These were not exceptions. While these two acts of judgment were punitive on the individuals who received judgment, they were acts of mercy on humanity. In the same way that a limb may be sacrificed to save a life, so God had to destroy these sinners to continue His mercy on humanity. The people in Noah’s day and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were so vile that they were like a cancer that had to be killed. So, for the first 2,000 years after man’s Fall (approximate time between the Fall and the giving of the Law), God did not hold people’s sins against them. That’s why Abram was not killed for marrying his half-sister nor Jacob for marrying his wife’s sister. Therefore, we can see that God’s immediate reaction to man’s sin was mercy and not judgment. It was over 2,000 years before God began to impute people’s sins unto them, and according to Galatians 3:19 and Galatians 3:23-24, that was only a temporary way of dealing with sin until Jesus could come. Through Jesus, God is once again reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing people’s sins unto them (2 Corinthians 5:19).
“Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”
AMP. “Yet death held sway from Adam to the Lawgiver Moses, even over those who did not themselves transgress a positive command as Adam did. Adam was a type or prefigure of the One Who was to come, but in reverse, the former destructive, the Latter saving.
TPT. “Yet death reigned as king from Adam to Moses even though they hadn’t broken a command the way Adam had. The first man, Adam, was a picture of the Messiah, who was to come.” Death: “Death is a temporary monarch that exercises dominion over humanity, but one day it will be completely deposed and defeated through Jesus Christ.” “Picture or imprint.” “The actions of both Adam and Christ affected the whole world. Death passes to all who are in Adam; life passes to all who are in Christ. Each is a corporate head of a race of people. God sees every person as in Adam or in Christ.
ESV. Those who did not live under the law were still judged for their sin, since death held sway over them. But their sinning was not like the transgression of Adam who transgressed a specific transgression of God. Adam is a type (model or pattern) of Christ, for both Adam and Christ are covenant heads of humans, so that all people are either “in Adam” or “in Christ.” I Cor. 5:22. All are in Adam by physical birth; those who have been born-again are in Christ.
Wesley. Death reigned — And how vast is his kingdom! Scarce can we find any king who has as many subjects, as are the kings whom he hath conquered. Even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression — Even over infants who had never sinned, as Adam did, in their own persons; and over others who had not, like him, sinned against an express law.
Who is the figure of him that was to come — Each of them being a public person, and a federal head of mankind. The one, the fountain of sin and death to mankind by his offence; the other, of righteousness and life by his gift. Thus far the apostle shows the agreement between the first and second Adam: afterward he shows the differences between them. The agreement may be summed up thus: As by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; so, by one man righteousness entered the world, and life by righteousness. As death passed upon all men, in that all had sinned; so, life passed upon all men, (who are in the second Adam by faith,) in that all are justified. And as death through the sin of the first Adam reigned even over them who had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression; so, through the righteousness of Christ, even those who have not obeyed, after the likeness of his obedience, shall reign in life. We may add, As the sin of Adam, without the sins which we afterwards committed, brought us death; so, the righteousness of Christ, without the good works which we afterwards perform, brings us life.
Womack (Editor’s note – this Womack material is included for this verse, although other commentators do not agree with it). If God did not bring judgment upon people’s sins until the Law of Moses, why did people die? Isn’t death the wages of sin (Romans 6:23)? Why were people dying if their sins weren’t being counted against them? Sin has a twofold effect. It not only transgresses against God, and is thus worthy of His judgment, but it also gives satan an inroad into our lives. Romans 6:16 says, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” If we yield to sin, we submit ourselves to Satan, the author of sin. That’s why pre-Law people died even though God didn’t judgment on their sins. Satan had the power of death (Hebrews 2:14), and he, through sin, caused people to die. (So, there was only physical death for people and not spiritual death before Moses but after Adam?) As sin multiplied on the earth, man’s life span decreased because of sins effects on the human body and soul. Therefore, even when God doesn’t judge sin, sin is deadly. This is why the New Testament believer must resist sin. God doesn’t bring judgment on His children for their sins, but Satan will. Christians don’t live holy to avoid God’s judgment, but so that their enemy won’t have any access to them.
The people from Adam to Moses did not sin like Adam did because they didn’t have a direct commandment from God to violate like Adam did. They lived under their consciences, and that was not enough to make them guilty. However, when God revealed the commandments through Moses, people once again had knowledge of direct commands from God, and they began to violate God’s laws again. (Romans 4:15).
“But the gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.”
TPT. “Now there is no comparison between Adam’s transgression and the gracious gift that we experience. For the magnitude of the gift far outweighs the crime. It’s true that many died because of one man’s transgression, but how much greater will God’s grace and his gracious gift of acceptance overflow (superabound) to many because of what one man, Jesus, the Messiah, did for us.”
AMP. “But God’s gift is not like the trespass because God’s gift of grace overwhelms man’s fall. For if many died because of and through Adam’s sin, much more abundantly does God’s grace and the gift that comes by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, overflow to benefit the many.
ESV. Paul contrasts the consequences of the Work of Christ and the Work of Adam five times in the next five verses. Each if the Covenant Head of the people he represents. Paul clearly teaches that all men receive a sinful nature or fallen nature from Adam. Death begins through physical separation from God and culminates in physical death. By contrast, Paul emphasizes the lavishness of God’s grace to those who are in Christ.
Wesley. Yet not — St. Paul now describes the difference between Adam and Christ; and that much more directly and expressly than the agreement between them. Now the fall and the free gift differ, 1. In amplitude, Romans 5:152. He from whom sin came, and He from whom the free gift came, termed also "the gift of righteousness," differ in power, Romans 5:163. The reason of both is subjoined, Romans 5:174. This premised, the offence and the free gift are compared, with regard to their effect, Romans 5:18, and with regard to their cause, Romans 5:19.
Womack. In Romans 5:14, Paul said Adam was a like figure to Jesus. Here, he shows the similarity but in an opposite comparison, or antithesis.
Imputed righteousness through Christ is like imputed sin through Adam. Paul made this comparison five times. In that all became sinners through Adam, all who put faith in Christ are made righteousness through Him. The church accepts truth of an inherited sin nature from Adam, but the truth of an inherited righteous nature through the new birth is less accepted. These truths are like two sides of one coin.
The five comparisons (Romans 5:15-19), are comparisons of opposition. Adam’s sin took our condition from good to eternally bad; Jesus’ obedience took our condition from bad to eternally good. As Adam passed sin and its consequences to his descendants, so Jesus passes righteousness and its benefits to those who put faith in Him to the ultimate generation.
“And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.”
AMP. “Nor is the gift of grace like that which came through the one who sinned. For on the one hand the judgment following the sin resulted from one trespass and brought condemnation, but on the other hand the gift resulted from many trespasses and brought justification - the release from sin’s penalty for those who believe.”
TPT. “And this free-flowing gift imparts to us much more than what was given to us through the one who sinned. For because of one transgression, we are all facing a death sentence with the verdict of “Guilty.” But this gracious gift leaves us free from our many failures (or falls or trespasses) and brings us into the perfect righteousness of God – acquitted with the words ‘not guilty.”
Wesley. The sentence was by one offence to Adam's condemnation — Occasioning the sentence of death to pass upon him, which, by consequence, overwhelmed his posterity. But the gift is of many offences unto justification — Unto the purchasing it for all men, notwithstanding many offences.
Adam’s one (first or original) sin produced in him a fallen nature or nature that was bound in sin and Adam’s sin nature was passed to his progeny. That sin nature, in turn, caused each person born from Adam to commit individual acts of sin flowing from his inherited, Adamic sin nature. The Grace of God is that Jesus negated, killed, and did away with Adam’s original sin nature that had held captive humanity, and then He paid the penalty for each individual sinful act that mankind cumulatively had committed.
“For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
AMP. “For if because of one man’s trespass, lapse, and offense, death reigned through that one man, much more surely will those who receive God’s overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and His free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one-Man Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One.”
TPT Note: 1) There are four “much mores” in this chapter. Two points to our future deliverance (v. 9-10) and two point to the abundance of grace which we now experience. (v. 15, 17).
ESV. Death ruled humanity by virtue of the one sin of Adam, whereas Christians now stand as rulers because of the work of Christ.
Wesley. There is a difference between grace and the gift. Grace is opposed to the offence; the gift, to death, being the gift of life.
Womack. The “death” spoken of here is physical death, spiritual death, and those things that flow from death: shame, sickness, poverty, divorce, war - all things that came because of the fall.
Many know that their sins are forgiven, but they don’t trust that they are also righteous. God’s gift isn’t just salvation–forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7)–but also right standing-righteousness with God. This two-fold gift (forgiveness of sins and imputed righteousness) is the foundation for grace and victory reigning in our lives (Romans 5:21).
We need to receive the abundance of God’s grace AND the gift of righteousness to reign in life. Receiving grace for forgiveness is essential, but it won’t enable us to reign in life until we live in the fact that we’re in right standing with God in Christ and all the privileges that come with right standing. See also Ro. 5:21.
“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.”
AMP. As one man’s trespass - one man’s false step and falling away - led to condemnation to all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal from sin, right standing with God, and eternal, God-life for all men.
ESV. Adam’s one transgression, as covenantal head of humanity, brought condemnation and guilt to all people. In the same way, Christ’s one act of righteousness (either his death alone or his entire perfect life and sacrificial death) grants righteousness and life to all who belong to him. Only those who receive God’s gift belong to Christ which indicates that only those how have faith will be justified.
Wesley. Justification of life — Is that sentence of God, by which a sinner under sentence of death is adjudged to life.
Womack. As all people became sinners through Adam, so the gift of righteousness that produces justification has come to all people through Jesus (Titus 2:11).
Everyone who receives the new birth receives the righteous nature of Christ.
We were naturally born, and we received our sinful nature at birth. Only those who are re-born through Christ, who put their faith in what He did for us on the Cross, receive the gift of righteousness.
Some take this verse out of context to say that everyone, whether they are reborn and receive salvation through faith in what Jesus did for them, is or will be saved. But Paul also says that we have access by faith into this grace (Romans 5:2). It’s true that God’s grace that brings salvation to all men has come (Titus 2:11), but that salvation must be received by faith to be effective in individual lives.
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
AMP. For just as through one man’s disobedience, his failure to hear, his carelessness, his willful disobedience, all of us were made sinners, so through the obedience of the one Man all of us (who accept His salvation) will be made righteous, acceptable to God, and brought into right standing with Him.
ESV. Because of Adam’s disobedience, we were all made, or caused to be, sinners.
Wesley. As by the disobedience of one man many (that is, all men) were constituted sinners - Being then in the loins of their first parent, the common head and representative of them all.
So, by the obedience of one — By his obedience unto death; by his dying for us. Many — All that believe. Shall be constituted righteous — Justified, pardoned.
Womack. It’s man’s sin nature that produces sins, not man’s sins that produce a sin nature. Therefore, those who try to obtain righteousness through their actions cannot do so. Even if they could stop all their individual sins, they cannot change the sin nature that they were born with. That’s the reason people must be born again – to get rid of the sin nature.
These scriptures provide the ultimate argument for righteousness by faith alone. Paul repeatedly wrote that believers are made righteous through faith in Christ, independently of their actions, in the same way that all men were made sinners, not through their individual sins, but through Adam’s one sin.
“Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”
TPT Note: Paul speaks of God’s grace in v. 17 as superabundant, but then adds the prefix “huper”, making grace super-hyperabundant. There is an endless fountain of grace that has been opened for us in Christ.
Wesley. The law came between the offence and the gift. The consequence of the law's coming was, not the taking away of sin, but the increase of it. Yet where sin abounded, grace did much more abound — Not only in the remission of that sin which Adam brought on us, but of all our own; not only in remission of sins, but infusion of holiness; not only in deliverance from death, but admission to everlasting life, a far more noble and excellent life than that which we lost by Adam's fall.
“So that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” TPT. “And just as sin reigned through death, so also this sin-conquering grace will reign as king through righteousness, imparting eternal life through Jesus, our Lord and Messiah.”
Wesley. The source of all our blessings is the rich and free grace of God.
Womack. Sin here is not individual acts of sin but rather the propensity for sin itself (the sin nature). “Propensity” is “an innate inclination; tendency.” The word “sin” is used forty-five times in the book of Romans (Romans 3:9, 20; 4:8; 5:12-13, 20-21; 6:1-2, 6-7, 10-18, 20, 22-23; 7:7-9, 11, 13-14 17, 20, 23, 25; 8:2-3, 10; and 14:23). The plural, “sins,” is used four times , Romans 3:25 4:7, 7:5, and 11:27). “Sin” and “sins” come from three Greek words. One of these Greek words is only used once in Romans 3:25, and only three other times in all the New Testament (Mark 3:28, 4:12; and 1 Corinthians 6:18).
Of the remaining forty-eight times, the Greek word “HAMARTIA” is used forty-seven times and “HAMARTANO” just once (Romans 6:15). This is very significant because the Greek word HAMARTIA is a noun, while HAMARTANO is a verb. A noun denotes a person, place, or thing, while a verb describes the action of a noun. Therefore, in all but one instance in the book of Romans, the words “sin” and “sins” describe man’s tendency toward sin (his sin nature) and not the individual acts of sins themselves.
The answer? At salvation, the “old man” (Romans 6:6), or sin nature, died, but the tendency to sin remained through the thoughts and emotions that the “old man” left behind. Our mind must be renewed. Christians no longer have a sin nature that compels them to sin; we must renew our minds.
Sin ruled like a king through condemnation (Romans 5:16) to bring death upon everyone. Condemnation is like the general of sin that enforced its power. Likewise, now God’s grace rules like a king through righteousness to bring all who are in Christ into eternal life. Righteousness is the general of grace who defends us against all the wiles of the devil. Sin would ultimately bring death to all people whether they were condemned or not (Romans 6:23). But to those who are guilt ridden and condemned over their sins, sin has a particularly devastating effect. Likewise, those who put faith in Christ will ultimately experience God’s eternal life. But those who understand righteousness as a gift to be received and not a wage to be earned are the ones who reign like kings, over sin and all its effects, in this life. Remove guilt or condemnation, and sin loses its strength to rule (1 Corinthians 15:56). Remove the knowledge of righteousness by faith, and grace loses its power to release eternal life in our daily lives.