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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

Romans 5

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-11

CHAPTER 5:1-11

1. What Justification Includes. 1-11.

The blessed results of justification are next revealed. What justified believers possess and what they may enjoy is the theme of the opening verses of this chapter. The first thing mentioned is that all who are justified by faith have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Peace was made in the blood of the Cross, He who died for our sins is our peace. His greeting to the assembled disciples on the resurrection day was “Peace be unto you,” and then He showed unto them His hands and His side, and again He said, “Peace be unto you.” This peace with God we have as believers in Christ. It is settled forever and can never be disturbed. Some times Christians ask others if they made their peace with God. They mean by it, turning away from sin, repentance, conversion, surrender, etc., as if those actions from our side could make peace with God. This is incorrect and the reason why so many professing Christians lack the assurance that they have peace with God is in this very fact, that they are constantly trying what they term “to be right with God.” Peace does not need to be made, it was made when Christ died for our sins. And into this peace we enter when we believe on the Lord Jesus and are justified freely of all things. We may live sober, earnest and useful Christian lives for fifty years or longer and at the end of such a devoted life we have not more of the peace with God than we had the moment we trusted in Christ. And our failures and stumbling walk as the “beloved of God, called Saints” our sinning, can never disturb and undo that peace.

The second result is that we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand. We have a perfect standing before God in Christ, and perfect access. We stand in grace, accepted in the beloved One and this grace keeps and sustains. We are the children of God made nigh by blood. Grace makes us nigh. We can draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. Our faithfulness cannot increase this standing in Grace, nor can our unfaithfulness decrease it, for the simple reason that it is Grace. The third result of justification is “the hope of the glory of God” in which we can now boast. The only title to glory is the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ has secured the glory for us and has made us sharers of His own glory He received from God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory. People speak of fitting themselves for heaven by living good lives. No one can be fitted for heaven. The only fitness is the new nature, received in the new birth. And that nature is given to the justified believer when he is justified by faith. That there are, special rewards for sacrificing service is very true, but to be in glory is a matter of grace and is given along with justification. The glory of God is the Hope of righteousness (Galatians 5:5). These three things cover the past, the present and the future. Past; Peace was made. Present; Standing in this Grace. Future; The Hope of the Glory of God. The approach to God in the tabernacle illustrates this beautifully. First the brazen altar, the type of the sacrifice of Christ; then the laver for washing, the candlestick, the table--typifying the cleansing, light, food and fellowship, the grace wherein we stand. Then behind the veil the glory of Jehovah, which ere long God’s people shall reach when He calls them home. How happy God’s people should be in possession of such precious things with the knowledge of sins forever put away!

But we are still in the wilderness and there are tribulations. And in tribulations, as justified and assured of the glory of God, we can even boast (the word used in the Greek) in them. Tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience, hope; and hope maketh not ashamed. “Here is how that which is against us works for us; and notice that the very first thing effected is the breaking down of our own wills, those wills, that Jacob-like struggle so much with the will of God. Sovereign He must be; and spite of all that we have known of Him, it is what in practical detail we so little want Him to be. Amid the clouds and darkness that encompass Him in His providential dealings, faith that should find its opportunity finds oftentimes bewilderment and perplexity; yet in it we are forced to recognize our nothingness, and creep close to the side of Him who yet goes with us. Forced to let God be God, it is then that we get experience of a moral government which is that of a Father. The forcing of outward things comes to be read as drawings of Omnipotent Love that seeks us for its own delight. His ways, if still they may be beyond us, are not strange and still less adverse. They beget, not fear or misgiving, but a brightening hope, that steadies as it brightens.” (F.W. Grant)

In Romans 5:5 the Holy Spirit is mentioned for the first time in this Epistle. The highest truth is not the work of the Spirit in the believer, but the work of Christ for the believer. The Holy Spirit is here to take of the things of Christ and to show them unto us. Once more therefore Christ and His finished work and the outflow from it are mentioned. God commending His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Justified by His blood we shall be much more saved from wrath through Him. All believers are exempt from the wrath to come because they are one with Him who is the administrator of the judgments of God. And there is a second “much more”. Reconciled by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled we shall be saved by His life, the life which is in God’s own presence and which is in us, for He is our life. And the very highest result, the joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the reconciliation.


Verses 12-21

4. In Christ.

The Sanctification of the Believer; his Deliverance from Sin and the Law; Children and Heirs.

Chapter 5:12-8.

CHAPTER 5:12-21

1. Sin and Death Through the First Adam. (Romans 5:12-14.)

2. In Adam by Nature; in Christ Through Grace(Romans 5:15-21.)

So far the subject of this Epistle has been our sins and how God has dealt with them in the Cross of Christ. The guilt and penalty of the sins of the believer are forever gone. With this section the question of sin itself is taken up and we learn how the justified believer is also sanctified in Christ and as such delivered from the dominion of sin and from the law. Furthermore we learn it also includes that believers are children and heirs of God. To distinguish between sins and sin is important. Sin is that evil principle in us, as fallen creatures, and sins are the fruits which spring from the evil root in us. Sin, the old nature, and how God deals with it in virtue of the redemption of Jesus Christ, is now, first of all, revealed. What we were in Adam and what we are through grace in Christ, how as identified with Christ we may be delivered from the power of indwelling sin, are truths unknown to many believers. Without this knowledge a true Christian experience, such which a believer should constantly enjoy, is impossible. One of the chief reasons why true believers are carried about with divers and strange doctrines, is the ignorance of these great facts of our redemption in Christ as unfolded in this part of Romans. How many others are constantly striving and struggling to lead a spiritual life and fail in it because they know not the great principles of sanctification and deliverance in Christ.

Romans 5:12-14

“Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” By one man, the first Adam, sin entered into the world (not sins, but sin). And death followed, which is physical death. “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” and this death has passed upon the race because of sin. The margin of the authorized version contains a statement which is responsible for a very unscriptural teaching. The margin states “in whom all have sinned”; upon this it has been taught that the guilt of Adam has been imputed to all. This is not correct. We are not responsible for the sin of Adam nor are we held responsible by God for a sinful nature; we are responsible for the outworking of that nature, that is for our own sins. The wicked dead, those whose sins were not taken away, because they believed not, will not be judged for having had a sinful nature, but solely according to their works (Revelation 20:12). Death comes upon us on account of our sins, as it is stated in this verse “death passed upon all men for that all have sinned.

“For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law; nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him to come.” This looks difficult, but it is simple after all. The law was given by Moses; from Adam to Moses there was no law, men were left to conscience, by which they knew good and evil. But death reigned nevertheless from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. Adam had a commandment which he transgressed, inasmuch as there was no law till Moses, the generations could not sin after the similitude of Adam’s transgression. Sin is lawlessness and not as the faulty translation of 1 John 3:4 states, “sin is the transgression of the law.” However, sin becomes transgression when there is a law. As there was no law from Adam to Moses, sin was therefore not imputed as transgression. But as they all sinned, death reigned and there is also judgment afterwards for them. The last sentence of Romans 5:14 “who is the figure of Him that was to come” is the important statement which is fully developed in the verses which follow and upon which the whole argument rests.

Romans 5:15-21

The first Adam is the type of the last, Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ. The same comparison is also found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 “For as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). This passage has often been used by those who teach the ultimate, universal salvation of the whole race. It has nothing whatever to do with salvation from the penalty of sin, but it applies to the resurrection of the bodies of the redeemed. Here in Romans the contrast is of a different nature. Adam and Christ are viewed as two heads, having each his offspring to whom they communicate something. The first Adam bestows upon his offspring the results of his sin; Christ, the last Adam,* bestows upon those who belong to Him, by personal faith in Him, the blessed consequences of His great work. (Christ is never called the second Adam, but the last Adam, as there will not be another after Him.) A sinful nature and physical death is what we have as the children of the first Adam. In Christ the believer receives a sinless nature, eternal life and glory. In this sense Adam is the figure of Him to come.

The first sentence of Romans 5:15-16 is best put in the form of a question. This helps much in understanding this deep portion of the Epistle. “But shall not the free gift be as the offence?” By the offence of Adam the many died, his offspring has been affected by his Offence. In like manner the grace of God and the gift of Grace, which is by the other Adam, Jesus Christ abounds also to the many. The question asked must therefore be answered in the affirmative. This and the following verses have also been used to teach that there is universal salvation. But it does not mean that. The condition “faith in Christ” must not be lost sight of. We are all in the first Adam by the natural birth; identification with the second Man is only possible by the new birth and that takes Place when a sinner believes on Christ and in His finished work. Those who do not believe are in Adam and are dead in trespasses and sins. “And shall not as by one that has sinned be the gift? For the judgment was of one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification” (Romans 5:16). The sins committed are here in view. Our sin brought judgment. The free gift of justification, on account of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, is blessedly sufficient to deliver from the guilt of many offences. “For if by the offence of one death reigned by the one; much more shall those who receive the abundance of grace, and Of the free gift of righteousness, reign in life by the one, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). The Previous verse spoke of the guilt of sins, which rests upon all those who are in Adam and this guilt is met in Christ by justification. In Romans 5:17 death which reigns in the first man is met by reign of life in Jesus Christ. Those who believe on Him have life now and are delivered from the reign of death. When He comes, the bodies of His Saints will be raised in incorruption and we who remain shall be changed in a moment and be caught up into His Presence without dying. Romans 5:18 in the Authorized version is poorly translated and misleading. “So then as it was by one offence towards all men to condemnation, so by one righteousness towards all men to justification of life.” This blessed contrast between Adam and Christ is made again in Romans 5:19. “For as indeed by the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many have been constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the one the many shall be constituted righteous.” Here it is the contrast between Adam’s disobedience and Christ’s obedience. And the obedience of Christ which constitutes all who believe on Him righteous, is not His obedient life, but His obedience in the death of the cross. “But law came in in order that the offence might abound; but where sin abounded grace overabounded, in order that, even as sin has reigned in the power of death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Here for the first time a reason is given why God gave the law. The Epistle to the Galatians will bring the subject of Law and Grace more fully to our attention. Law came in that the offence might abound; it has constituted man a transgressor and in this sense the offence abounds. But grace overabounds. It deals with the transgressions and reigns through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Wonderful and preciously deep contrast! In Adam sin. condemnation and death. In Christ righteousness, justification and eternal life; yea much more, eternal glory. In Adam we have his constitution; in Christ we possess through grace His life and glory.

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Romans 5:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/romans-5.html. 1913-1922.

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