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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Romans 5

 

 

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Verses 1-5

Romans 5:1-5. The Fruits of Justifying Faith.

Romans 5:1-2 a. "Since then we have been justified," etc., recapitulates Romans 3:22 to Romans 4:25. The apodosis (according to the best-attested reading, RV) is hortatory: "Let us abide in peace with God," etc.; the Greek tense implies a continued state, as in Acts 9:31 (RV). The qualifying clause, "through whom indeed we have got our introduction," etc., warrants a steady peace with God: led by Christ's hand into the Father's grace, we should lay aside misgiving.

Romans 5:2 b - Romans 5:5. The "hope of the glory of God" raises peace" to "exultation." Christian joy is even enhanced by trouble: "endurance, proof, hope" form a chain linking "tribulation" to "the love of God" (cf. Philippians 4:11-13; also 1 Peter 1:6 f., James 1:2-4—apparently echoed here). "Our hope" of beholding the glory of God "does not shame us," like self-relying hopes; its fruition is guaranteed by "the love of God poured out within our hearts, through the Holy Spirit who was given us."—God's love, implied in His name of "Father" (Romans 1:7, etc.), is embraced in Paul's wide conception of "God's righteousness" (Romans 1:17,* etc.); "poured out" speaks of its lavishness (cf. Ephesians 2:4; Ephesians 2:7); "the heart," of its inward apprehension.—Ch. 8 is the expansion of Romans 5:5 b.


Verses 6-11

Romans 5:6-11. Love and Reconciliation.

Romans 5:6-8. The helplessness and ill-desert of the objects, and the timeliness of the intervention, go to "commend God's love to us, shown in the death of Christ on our behalf"—a sacrifice enhanced when one considers that "a righteous man" will "scarcely "find another to "die for him," though "it may happen" that a friend "ventures his life for the good man" (known and loved as such).—God's and Christ's love are identified (Romans 5:6; Romans 5:8).

Romans 5:9 f. In the next breath the apostle speaks of God's "anger": seeming incompatibles meet at the Cross. The joyous hope of Christians amid life's troubles is explained: "justified at the price of Christ's blood" (cf. Romans 8:32, 1 Peter 1:18 f.), "we need not fear future anger"; we know that God is our friend. He who has justified sinners, will never condemn the justified (see Romans 8:31-34). "To the former enemies, brought into peace with God through His Son's death, that Son's" risen "life" (cf. Romans 6:4 f., Revelation 1:17 f., Hebrews 7:25) "gives pledge of final salvation."—To be "reconciled to God" means not merely to change one's disposition toward Him, but to receive forgiveness, to exchange God's anger (Romans 5:9) for His smile. Reconciliation corresponds in point of sentiment to justification in point of status (see 2 Corinthians 5:19; also Matthew 5:24, for the use of the passive verb).

Romans 5:11. The sense of "reconciliation" swells again into a rapturous "exultation in God" (cf. Romans 5:2).


Verses 12-21

Romans 5:12-21. The "therefore" of Romans 5:12 covers Romans 1:16 to Romans 5:11 : the working of sin and grace are traced up to their fountain-heads in Adam and Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:45-47).—Adam (Heb. man) stands for humanity racially. Two opposing currents run through man's life, each with its personal source (Romans 5:12-14, Romans 5:18 f.); but with this broad correspondence, there are signal contrasts (Romans 5:15-17); grace is the ultimate victor (Romans 5:20 f.).

Romans 5:12 affirms the solidarity of mankind in sin and death. The clause "for that all sinned" repeats the cardinal declaration of Romans 3:23, and needs no complementary "in him (Adam)": wherever death enters, sin has opened the door.

Romans 5:13 f. deals with the seeming exception of pre-Mosaic times: "all sinned," I say (Romans 5:12); "for there was sin in the world up to the time of law"—Moses' law did not create sin, but matured it (cf. Romans 5:20; Romans 7:7 ff., Romans 7:13). "Yet," some one says, "sin is not taken into account where no law exists" (see Romans 4:15).—"For all that," replies Paul, "death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not, like Adam, transgress" an explicit command. The inference goes without saying: the intervening generations violated some law; the sequence of sin and death is itself matter of primordial law (Romans 8:2). Death was universal from Adam downwards; sin was universal; ipso facto, law was universal. This Paul had shown in Romans 2:14-16, in another way. Through all ages, amongst all races, sin genders death (James 1:15); at the bottom "there is no difference" (Romans 3:22).—The complement of "just as" (Romans 5:12) is virtually contained in the last clause of Romans 5:14, "who (Adam) is a type of the One to come." What Adam was to his kind in point of transgression, this Other is to be in the contrary sense.

Romans 5:15 f. But Christ's "grace" in its potency is "far more" than a counterpoise to the race-sin. Paul pits "the grace of God and . . . the grace of the One Man" conjointly against "the trespass." Romans 5:15 marks the contrast in kind, Romans 5:16 in degree: the sin of one man resulted in general condemnation," while "the justification-bringing act of grace." dealt with "many trespasses."

Romans 5:17. Finally, Christ's grace triumphantly reverses the effects of Adam's fall, turning "the slaves of death" into "lords of life."—To speak of "righteousness" as "a gift received" is another way of affirming Justification by Faith (cf. Romans 3:24, Romans 4:4 f.).

Romans 5:18 f., Romans 5:21. Thus the two headships are vastly disparate: on the one side, trespass, disobedience, sin, bearing fruit in condemnation, sinfulness ("were constituted sinners," Romans 5:19), death; on the other, rectification (the "one justificatory act" or "sentence," Romans 5:18), obedience, grace, resulting in justification, righteousness, life eternal (terms of status, character, destiny).—"The many" versus "the one" of Romans 5:19 = "all" versus "one" of Romans 5:18. In Romans 5:14; Romans 5:17, "death came to reign through sin": in Romans 5:21, "sin reigns in death"; for mortality brings home to men sin's domination, as "life eternal" will display "the regnancy of grace."

Romans 5:20 brings in "the law by the way," as "multiplying the (Adam's) trespass"—so as to further, however, "the superabounding of grace" (cf. Romans 4:15, Romans 7:7-13, and Galatians 3:19 f.).—This paragraph extends the scope of Christ's redemption from the primeval fall on to the glories of eternal destiny.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Romans 5:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/romans-5.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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