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The Death of the Cross Duncan Heaster  
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Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; 2 through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and in which we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, 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 which has been given to us.
   6 For while we were yet weak, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous man! Perhaps for the good man some one would even dare to die. 8 But God commends His own love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the anger of God through him. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Adam and Christ
   12 So through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, for that all sinned. 13 For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law! 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is a figure of him that was to come.
   15 But not as the trespass, so also is the free gift. For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 This gift is unlike the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment came because of one man to condemnation; but the free gift came out of many trespasses to justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned on account of the one man; much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life on account of the one man, Jesus Christ.
   18 So then. As through one act of sin the judgment came to all men to condemnation, even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came to all men to justification of life. 19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one man shall the many be made righteous.
   20 Now the law was added to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that as sin reigned with the result of death, even so might grace reign through righteousness with the result of eternal life-  through Jesus Christ our Lord.
5:1 There’s a noticeable change of style beginning at Rom. 5:1. Paul starts to talk about “we”, as if he assumes that he has won the argument in chapters 1-4 and taken his readership with him- they along with him are now, as it were, believers in Christ. Instead of the focus on “justification” which there is in chapters 1-4, the end result of God’s work for us is generally replaced with the word “life”, i.e. eternal life, occurring 24 times in chapters 5-8. Chapters 5-8 of Romans form a definite section. The words “love”, “justify”, “glory”, “peace”, “hope”, “tribulation”, “save” and “endurance” all occur in Rom. 5:1-11 and also several times in Rom. 8:18-39. These passages form bookends [an ‘inclusio’ is the technical term] to the material sandwiched between them. Paul is going on from us standing before Divine judgment declared right, justified by our faith in God’s promise of grace. That salvation will be and is articulated in terms of life, eternal life, life lived both now and in its fullness after we again stand before the final judgment seat of Christ.
We have peace- It's hard to avoid the conclusion that God has written His word in such a way as to leave some things intentionally ambiguous. He could just have given us a set of brief bullet points, written in an unambiguous manner. But instead He gave us the Bible. Given that most of His people over history have been illiterate, they simply couldn't have been able to understand His word in an academic, dissective, analytical sense. Take Rom. 5:1- it could read "Let us have peace" (subjunctive) or "We have peace" (indicative). The difference is merely the length of a vowel, and this would only have been apparent in reading it, as the difference wouldn't have been aurally discernible when the letter was publically read. Was the "land" meant to be understood as the whole earth, or just the land of Israel...?
Peace here refers to our being right with God, rather than a calmness in life generally. Such a thing isn’t promised to Christians but rather the very opposite. “Peace with God” cannot be experienced if we are continually doubting whether or not we shall ultimately be saved. We should be able to say that if the Lord were to return right now, by grace, we believe that we shall surely be saved; for we are right here and now justified before God’s judgment seat. Therefore we experience right now “peace with God”.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ- previously Paul has pointed out that God has set us right with Him simply if we can believe that He would do this. But increasingly, Paul points out that how and why this is- He does this on account of the work of the Lord Jesus.
5:2 Access into this grace wherein we stand- may be continuing the judgment image of chapters 3 and 4, in which we are left standing in the dock before the judgment of God, and by grace are declared right when in fact we are sinners. And we stand there before God’s judgment, very much in grace. The language of ‘access into’ suggests that “this grace” is a situation, a ‘place’, a status, in which we are now permanently located. “Access into… wherein we stand” is a phrase used in classical Greek about entering a royal presence (Moo, op cit. p. 300 gives examples). So the idea is very much of our standing in the august judgment presence of God acceptable by status. This point needs to be more than intellectually noted; it must be our real and felt experience that we are not one moment in an acceptable status with God, and then next we slip out of it- through inattention, insensitivity, or downright selfish rebellion on our part. We are in a relationship, married as it were to Him, bearing His Name, and thereby in a permanent status. Perhaps we can be so foolish as to leave that status, but we certainly don’t drift in and out of it insofar as we sin or avoid sinning in the course of daily life. The very nature of the “grace” status which we are in means that we are declared right, OK with God, in spite or and even in the face of our sins.
Rejoice in hope- standing before God justified means that in the judgment day to come at the Lord’s return to earth, we will be accepted and given eternal life in God’s Kingdom. We are to rejoice (Gk. ‘boast’) in that hope quite naturally- for Paul doesn’t exhort us to rejoice in the hope, he simply states that given our position of grace, we, naturally, rejoice in hope. If we cannot say “Yes” to the question “Will you be accepted before the judgment seat of Christ?”, then I fail to see that we can rejoice in hope. To rejoice in hope means that we have accepted God’s judgment of us now- and His judgment is that we are acceptable to Him, that even now, “it’s all OK”. If we are to boast in this hope- and the Greek translated “rejoice” definitely means that- this would imply that we can’t keep quiet about such good news. We simply have to share it with others.
The glory of God- our hope to participate in this glory, which is associated in Mt. 6:13 with the future Kingdom of God on earth, connects with what Paul has earlier reasoned in Rom. 3:23- that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. We who have been declared right can now rejoice in the prospect of participating in that glory, that glorious eternal future, which we fell short of by our sins. We commented under 3:23 that Paul is referring to writings such as the Apocalypse of Moses, which claimed that Adam had fallen short of God’s glory in Eden, but the hope of the Messianic age would be Adam’s restoration to the glory intended in Eden (Apoc. Moses 39.2-3). Adam is everyman- a theme now to be developed specifically here in Romans 5.
5:3 Tribulations- s.w. Rom. 2:9, where we read that “tribulation” will come upon the rejected, faithless sinner at the day of judgment. Paul no doubt had in mind “the tribulation” which the Olivet prophecy and other NT Scriptures predicted would come upon the faithful in the first century. But the connection with Rom. 2:9 suggests that he saw that in a sense, we are condemned for our sins now, and as he explains in Romans 6, we die to sin, in baptism we take fully the condemnation for sin, and we rise again as new people, like the Lord Jesus, who are not under condemnation. Indeed the same word for “tribulation” occurs in Rom. 8:35, where Paul exalts that tribulation, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, peril and the sword cannot separate us from Christ’s loving acceptance; and most if not all of those terms are applied elsewhere in Scripture to the rejected at the day of judgment. The condemnation for sin- our sins- will not separate  us from Christ’s love, and we shall be saved all the same. If this idea of “tribulation” as part of the condemnation process for sinners is indeed somewhere in Paul’s mind (for this is how the word is used in 2 Thess. 1:6; Rev. 2:22), he would be saying that as a result of experiencing in our lives the condemnation for sin, we come through enduring the process [“patience”, hupomone] to ‘pass the test’ (Rom. 5:4, AV “experience” is a terribly poor translation), and through that we come to a sure hope in acceptance at the last day and a feeling unashamed (Rom. 5:5), despite knowing we are on one hand condemned sinners.
 “Being therefore justified by faith, let us have peace... let us rejoice... let us also rejoice in our tribulations" (Rom. 5:1-3 RV). If we really feel justified due to righteousness being imputed to us, then this will give us a joyful perspective on all suffering. For the reality that we are counted righteous will mean that all tribulation "under the sun" is not so ultimately meaningful; and thus we will find all joy and peace through believing.
5:4 Patience… experience… hope – see on Rom. 5:3. “Experience” translates a Greek word elsewhere translated ‘to put to the proof’, and meaning ‘to pass the test’. We are going through the future judgment process right now- by passing through “tribulation”, living out the consequences for our sin, but in faith in God’s acceptance of us- we pass the test. The future day of judgment isn’t our ultimate test or putting to the proof; our faithful acceptance of salvation by grace today, right now, is our crucial testing or proving.
5:5 Makes not ashamed- a significant theme in Paul and Peter (Rom. 9:33; 10:11; 1 Pet. 2:6).. The believer in Christ will not be ashamed at the last day judgment, with which “shame” is so often associated for the rejected (Dan. 12:2; Lk. 14:9; Jude 13; Rev. 16:15). If we have confident hope that we will not be rejected but will be saved at the last day, that we will not be ashamed then- therefore nothing in this life should make us feel ashamed, not even our own sins, for the shame of them is taken away by God’s declaring us right.
Because the love of God- Gk. hoti isn’t necessarily causative but it can be demonstrative. Paul may not therefore mean that we are unashamed because the love of God is in our hearts; he may mean that we are unashamed, as the final end result of God’s justification process, we stand before Him uncondemned, not in shame as are the rejected sinners; and therefore the love of God becomes shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This latter option is how I interpret hoti here, because Paul has been building up all throughout the letter to the reason why we are unashamed at judgment- it is because we are declared legally right before God’s judgment by God the judge of all, due to our faith in His grace which operates through Jesus. Nothing has so far been said about the Holy Spirit in our hearts being the basis for this unashamed position. Our standing before God justified, declared right, forgiven, accepted at judgment, rejoicing in sure hope of eternity in the glory of God’s Kingdom- this leads to the love of God filling our hearts. His love for us elicits our love for Him, and it fills our hearts.
Is shed abroad in our hearts- Tit. 3:6 uses the same word to speak of how God’s grace has been “shed abroad” abundantly upon us. The word is of course frequently used about the shedding of Christ’s blood; because of God’s colossal gift to us, of His Son, bringing about our justification if we believe in Him… then in due turn, the awareness of God’s love is likewise shed into our hearts. Whether we have really believed and accepted the good news is answerable by whether or not we feel and know God’s love to have been shed abroad, to have gushed out, into our hearts. Paul gives the hint several times in Romans 1-8 that this situation is not drifted into; the idea of gushing out or shedding suggests a one time moment when this happened. ‘Justification’, the being declared legally right, is always spoken of grammatically as if this is a one off defined event which happened to us at a moment in the past. This moment is defined by Paul in Romans 6 as baptism, when we become “in Christ”. Note that he is writing to Roman Christians who had already been baptized and believed in Christ- rather than seeking to convert unbelievers. They may well not have felt any watershed moment at their conversion or baptism. But Paul’s whole point is that even though they may not have felt it emotionally, this is actually how it is in reality, and we can now appreciate it and feel the wonder of the status into which we entered, even if it was unappreciated by us at the time. It is this feature more perhaps than anything else which makes this letter so relevant to we today who read it, who like the Romans have already believed, been baptized- and yet likely fail to appreciate the huge implications of the position we have now entered.
By the Holy Spirit which is given unto us- the whole argument so far in Romans has said nothing about the Holy Spirit. Note the comments under “Because…” above. This isn’t teaching that the Holy Spirit zapped our hearts and therefore all these wonderful things are true. We are unashamed, at the end of the process outlined in Rom. 5:3-5, because we stand at judgment day even now uncondemned, not ashamed as the condemned are, because of our faith in God’s grace. This is how we come to be unashamed- not because the Holy Spirit zapped us. It is God’s grace, justification, which has been given unto us. We could read in an ellipsis here, as often required in reading Romans, and understand this phrase as referring to how the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts ‘by what the Holy Spirit has given unto us’. This would associate ‘the Holy Spirit’ with the power of God by which He has orchestrated and executed this entire wondrous plan of His.
Serious meditation upon the Lord's work ought to have this effect upon us. Can we really see his agony, his bloody sweat, without a thought for our response to it? It's impossible to passively behold it all. There is something practically compelling about it, almost in a mystical way. Because “Christ died for the ungodly", because in the cross “the love of God" was commended to us, therefore “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Rom. 5:5,6,8). As the smitten rock gave out water, so the smitten Saviour gave out the water of the Spirit. This link between the shedding of the Lord’s blood and the shedding of love in our hearts is surely because an understanding and relation to His sacrifice brings forth in the believer a response of love and spirituality. As the love of God was shown in the cross, so it will be reflected in the heart of he who truly knows and believes it.
5:6- see on Rom. 4:19.
Paul in Rom. 5:6-8 lays out a three point logical case for the supremacy of God’s love. Each of those three verses ends with the Greek word “die”, to stylistically emphasize the step logic.
Without strength- the Greek word is pronounced as-then-ace; “the ungodly” translates a Greek word pronounced as-eb-ace. Bearing in mind the generally illiterate nature of Paul’s primary readership, such literary devices which assisted memorization of the text are common in the NT. Christ died for us before we had anything at all to commend us. He didn’t await our faith or repentance and then die for us, but He died for us in order to inspire those very things. Paul describes all of us as having been saved although we were “without strength”, using the same word used about the disciples asleep in Gethsemane (Mt. 26:41 = Rom. 5:6). He saw the evident similarity between them and us, tragically indifferent in practice to the mental agony of our Lord, failing to share His intensity of striving- although we are so willing in spirit to do this. And yet, Paul implies, be better than them. Don't be weak [“without strength”] and sleepy as they were when Christ wanted them awake (Mt. 26:40,41 = 1 Thess. 5:6,7). Strive for the imitation of Christ's attitude in the garden (Mt. 26:41 = Eph. 6:18). And yet in Romans 7, a depressed but realistic Paul laments that he fails in this; his description of the losing battle he experienced within him between flesh and spirit is couched in the language of Christ's rebuke to the disciples in Gethsemane (the spirit was willing, but the flesh weak).
In due time- the Greek could imply ‘at just the right time’. Perhaps God’s wrath was set to destroy the earth by the time of Christ, but He came and successfully did His work at the right time. But perhaps the idea is more that Christ died for us “at that very time” when we were weak and ungodly. He died for us in the hope of what we could potentially become through exercising faith; and our sacrifices for others, not least in the work of preaching and nurturing, are made in the same spirit. They are made whilst the objects of our attention appear immature, non-existent or unbelieving.
Christ died for- All that is true of the Lord Jesus becomes in some sense, at some time, true of each of us who are in Him. It’s true that nowhere in the Bible is the Lord Jesus actually called our “representative”, but the idea is clearly there. I suggest it’s especially clear in all the Bible passages which speak of Him acting huper us- what Dorothee Sölle called “the preposition of representation” (1). Arndt and Gingrich in their Greek-English Lexicon define huper in the genitive as meaning “’for’, ‘in behalf of’, ‘for the sake of’ someone (2). When used in the sense of representation, huper is associated with verbs like ‘request, pray, care, work, feel, suffer, die, support’”. So in the same way as the Lord representatively prays, died, cares, suffers, works “for” us, we are to do likewise, if He indeed is our representative and we His. Our prayers for another, our caring for them, is no longer a rushed salving of our conscience through some good deed. Instead 2 Cor. 5:15 becomes our motivation: “He died for (huper) all [of us], that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for (huper) them”. We are, in our turn, to go forth and be “ambassadors for (huper) Christ... we pray you in Christ’s stead (huper Christ), be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). Grasping Him as our representative means that we will be His representatives in this world, and not leave that to others or think that our relationship in Him is so internal we needn’t breathe nor show a word of it to others. As He suffered “the just for (huper) the unjust” (1 Pet. 3:18), our living, caring, praying for others is no longer done “for” those whom we consider good enough, worthy enough, sharing our religious convictions and theology. For whilst we were yet sinners, Christ died huper us (Rom. 5:6). And this representative death is to find an issue in our praying huper others (Acts 12:5; Rom. 10:1; 15:30; 2 Cor. 1:11), just as He makes intercession huper us (Rom. 8:26,34). We are to spend and be spent huper others, after the pattern of the Lord in His final nakedness of death on the cross (2 Cor. 12:15). These must all be far more than fine ideas for us. These are the principles which we are to live by in hour by hour life. And they demand a huge amount, even the cross itself. For unto us is given “in the behalf of Christ [huper Christ], not only to [quietly, painlessly, theoretically] believe on Him, but also to suffer for (huper) his sake” (Phil. 1:29). In all this, then, we see that the Lord’s being our representative was not only at the time of His death; the fact He continues to be our representative makes Him our ongoing challenge.
The ungodly- connecting with how we read in Rom. 4:5 that by faith, the ungodly are declared right with God. And the context there suggests Abraham was along with us all in that category of “ungodly”. Elsewhere, “the ungodly” are those who specifically will be condemned at the day of judgment (1 Pet. 4:18; 2 Pet. 2:5; 3:7; Jude 15). We stand in the dock before God’s judgment and are condemned. We aren’t just the passive, the rather lazy to respond to God- we are, every one of us, “the ungodly”, the condemned. But Christ died for us, so that we might be declared right, become de-condemned, have the verdict changed right around.
5:7 This verse feels like it’s quoting some saying or verse from some other writing. The sense may be that for a righteous man [the Greek phrase is used in this part of Romans to refer to Jesus as the perfectly righteous one] it’s hard to die huper him [“scarcely”- Gk. ‘with difficulty’], to save him- for he isn’t in need of saving; but for a good man, humanly “good” rather than morally righteous, some would “dare” (Gk. ‘be bold’) to die. True as this observation may be, the whole point is that Christ died for us when we were “sinners”- neither morally righteous, nor humanly ‘good guys’ who might inspire their buddy to die for them.
5:8 God commends His love- the Greek translated “commend” means to set down beside, in contrast to, over against. And it’s in the continuous tense. God keeps on doing this. But what is His love so continually laid down against? Surely against our sins and failures. But it keeps on being commended through the fact that Christ died for us, whilst we were still sinners. Christ died once only, and so the continual commendation of this fact is in that continually, we perceive the wonder of it all. Our unrighteousness commends God’s righteousness (Rom. 3:8).
While we were yet sinners- shows the greatest example in the cosmos of taking the initiative, of seeking to save others when there is no appreciation from them at the time of what you are doing. This is an endless inspiration in child rearing, preaching and pastoral work.
Tragically, the simple words "Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8) have been grossly misunderstood as meaning that Christ died instead of us. There are a number of connections between Romans 5 and 1 Cor. 15 (e.g. v. 12 = 1 Cor. 15:21; v. 17 = 1 Cor. 15:22). "Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8) is matched by "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3). His death was in order to make a way whereby we can gain forgiveness of our sins; it was in this sense that "Christ died for us". The word "for" does not necessarily mean 'instead of'; Christ died "for (because of) our sins", not 'instead of' them. Because of this, Christ can "make intercession" for us (Heb. 7:25) - not 'instead of' us.  Neither does "for" mean 'instead of' in Heb. 10:12 and Gal. 1:4. If Christ died ‘instead of us’ there would be no need to carry His cross, as He bids us. And there would be no sense in being baptized into His death and resurrection, willingly identifying ourselves with Him as our victorious representative.
5:9 Now justified by His blood- if He died for us whilst we were unborn and before we had repented of our sins; if right now we are counted right before God’s judgment seat; then we can confidently expect to being saved from “the wrath” (Gk.), the condemnation at the last day. Note how Rom. 5:1 spoke of justification by our faith; here, by “His blood”. His blood shed for us only becomes powerful and of any value if we believe. It’s a tragedy that His sacrifice for us goes wasted unless we [and others] believe. “Much more then” seems to be rejoicing in playing some kind of logical game of extension, which continues in 5:10.
In the future, at the Lord's return, we will be saved from wrath (i.e. condemnation) through Christ (Rom. 5:9). Whilst this has already been achieved in a sense, it will be materially articulated in that day- in that we will feel and know ourselves to be worthy of God's wrath, but then be saved from it. We are all to some extent in the position of Zedekiah and the men of Judah, who was told that if they accepted God’s condemnation of them as just, and served the King of Babylon, then they would ultimately be saved; but if they refused to accept that condemnation, then they would be eternally destroyed (Jer. 21:9; 27:12). And the Babylonian invasion was, as we have shown elsewhere, a type of the final judgment.
We are justified by many things, all of which are in some way parallel with each other: the blood of Christ (Rom. 5:9), grace and the redemption which there is in His blood (Rom. 3:24), our faith in Christ (Rom. 5:1; Gal. 2:16), the name of the Lord Jesus, the spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11), by our confession of sin (Ps. 51:4; Lk. 18:14). All these things revolve around the death of the Lord Jesus, the shedding of His blood. This becomes parallel with the name of Jesus, “Christ"- because the cross presents us with the very essence of the person of the Lord Jesus. But it is also parallel with the spirit or mind / essence of God. Because in that naked, bleeding, derided body and person, in that shed blood, there was the essence of all that God was to us, is to us, and ever shall be for us. It was the cross above all which revealed to us the essence of God Almighty. And it is the cross, the blood of Jesus, which elicits in us the confession of sin which is vital for our justification.
The idea of a Saviour dying for us (5:8) and God’s wrath being turned away by His blood is all very much the language of “noble death” found in the stories of the Maccabees, which Paul had been brought up on. The idea was that the Jewish martyrs in their struggle against the occupying power had shed their blood “to bring to an end the wrath of the Almighty” against Israel (2 Macc. 7:37 – 38); and thereby reconciled God with His people. But Paul is deconstructing these ideas, fiercely popular as they were amongst first century Jews. Paul’s point is that the wrath of God is against all human sin, and that the Lord Jesus through His willing death, rather than the Jewish heroes through their death in battle, had brought about reconciliation and the turning away of God’s wrath. Note in passing how the Maccabees spoke of their martyrs having reconciled God, whereas Paul’s emphasis is upon how God has reconciled us- the change was not of God but of His people.

5:10 Reconciled- in the argument so far, Paul has talked about justification, declaring us right in a legal sense. Now he talks about us being reconciled- as if the impartial judge becomes personally reconciled to us as we stand in the dock. G.E. Ladd has made the informed comment that the surrounding first century religions didn’t speak of reconciliation, because they didn’t offer nor even conceive of the personal relationship between God and man which Christianity does (3). The need for such personal reconciliation has been implied by Paul earlier, in talking of God’s “wrath” against sin (Rom. 1:19-32; 2:5). So the legal declaring of us as right is going to have a more personal aspect between us and our judge; if we are now justified, His wrath is no more, and we become reconciled on a personal level. Note that Strong defines the Greek for “reconciled” as meaning ‘to change mutually’. This raises the whole question as to whether God in some sense has changed as a result of His relationship with us, just as a person changes when they marry or have a child. Seeing that God “is Spirit” and isn’t therefore static, it would seem to me that there is an element of growth associated with His present nature. Hence we read in the continuous tense of the Father growing to know the Son and vice versa (Mt. 11:27). This ‘growth’ or change within God Almighty as a result of the supreme God of the cosmos being reconciled to a few specks of dust and water on this tiny planet… is not only awesome of itself, but a testimony to the colossal consequences of the reconciling work of His Son. “Being reconciled” is clearly a state- for 2 Cor. 5:18 likewise rejoices that we have been reconciled to God in Christ, yet 2 Cor. 5:20 goes on to appeal to the Corinthians to therefore “be reconciled to God”. This idea of living out in practice who we are by status is perhaps the essence of Paul’s practical appeal throughout Romans.
Saved by His life- i.e. His resurrection, in that our personal salvation depends upon resurrection from the dead and being given eternal life. This is the significance of our baptism into His death and resurrection. His resurrection, His life, must become ours today.
We must beware lest our theories of the atonement obscure the connection between salvation and life- both His life and ours. Having been reconciled to God by the death of Jesus, we are “saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). This is not only a reference to His resurrection. When He died, He outbreathed His breath of life towards His people who stood beneath the cross. His death, and the manner of it, inspires us to live the life which He lived. And this is the eternal kind of life, the life we will eternally live in the Kingdom with Him. His death was not solely the merit that supplies forgiveness. The cross was His life the most fully displayed and triumphant, forever breaking the power of sin over our street-level human existence by what it inspires in us. Our lives, the ordinary minutes and hours of our days, become transformed by His death. For we cannot passively behold Him there, and not respond. We cannot merely mentally assent to correct doctrine about the atonement. It brings forth a life lived; which is exactly why correct understanding of it is so important. We are inspired to engage in His form of life, with all the disciplines of prayer, solitude, simple and sacrificial living, intense study and meditation in the Father’s word which characterized our Lord’s existence. For His cross was the summation of the life He lived. We quite rightly teach new converts the need for attending meetings, giving of time and money to the Lord’s cause, doing good to others, Bible reading. But over and above all these things, response to the cross demands a life seriously modelled upon His life.
5:11 Not only so- it’s not all jam tomorrow, a hope of resurrection from the dead in the future. We joy right now, because through Christ “we have now received the atonement”, s.w. “reconciliation”, the reconciling spoken of in v. 10. The courtroom ‘declaring right’ or innocent goes much further- we become personally set right with the Judge Himself. The whole world has in a sense been reconciled to God, but we are those who have “received” that reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19). 
5:12 Therefore – this word carries much meaning. It is picked up again in Rom. 5:18, the intervening verses being in parenthesis. It almost seems that Adam sinned in order that God’s grace might be the more powerfully revealed.
In the New Testament we find Paul writing, as a Jew, to both Jews and Gentiles who had converted to Christ, and yet were phased by the huge amount of apostate Jewish literature and ideas which was then floating around. For example, the book of Romans is full of allusions to the "Wisdom of Solomon", alluding and quoting from it, and showing what was right and what was wrong in it. Wisdom 2:24 claimed: "Through the devil's envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it". And Paul alludes to this, and corrects it, by saying in Rom. 5:12: ""By one man [Adam- not 'the devil'] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned". This is one of many such examples. Jude does the same thing, quoting and alluding to the apostate Book of Enoch, correcting the wrong ideas, and at times quoting the ideas back against those who used them.
In the same way as Daniel, Isaiah, Ezra, Israel at the time of Achan (Josh. 7:1,11) etc. were reckoned as guilty but were not personally responsible for the sins of others, so the Lord Jesus was reckoned as a sinner on the cross; He was made sin for us, who knew no sin personally (2 Cor. 5:21). He carried our sins by His association with us, prefigured by the way in which Israel's sins were transferred to the animal; but He personally was not a sinner because of His association with us.  The degree of our guilt by association is hard to measure, but in some sense we sinned "in Adam" (Rom. 5:12 AVmg.) In the context of Rom. 5, Paul is pointing an antithesis between imputed sin by association with Adam, and imputed righteousness by association with Christ. In response to the atonement we have experienced, should we not like our Lord be reaching out to touch the lepers, associating ourselves with the weak in order to bring them to salvation- rather than running away from them for fear of 'guilt by association'?
The difficulty we have in understanding our sinning somehow “in Adam” may be the result of our failure to appreciate the extent of corporate solidarity in Hebrew thinking. This has been documented at great depth in H.W. Robinson, Corporate Personality in Ancient Israel (4). This corporate solidarity (even if “corporate personality” is a bridge too far) doesn’t mean that we personally sinned with Adam or are directly culpable for his sin. Adam is everyman- the Hebrew “adam” means just that, man. The concern expressed by many as to why babies and the mentally unaccountable still die is a valid one, but I don’t think it’s solved by postulating that they sinned “in Adam”. Paul is writing to Christians in Rome, and he is explaining why they die. The question of infants isn’t in his purview here. Likewise when he talks about “death” in Romans, he seems to often have in view the second death, the permanent death to be meted out at the judgment seat to  those condemned for their sins, rather than ‘death’ in the general sense. Such death, condemnation at the last day, passes upon us all, but all in Adam in this sense are also those who are now in Christ. It is this apparent paradox which can lead to the almost schizophrenic feelings for Christians which Paul explains in Romans 7. The apparent parallel drawn between those “in Adam” and those “in Christ” would suggest that those “in Adam” whom Paul has in view are not every human being, but those now “in Christ” who have also been, and still are in a sense, “in Christ”.
Paul emphasized that it was by one male, Adam, that sin entered the world (Rom. 5:12)- in designed contrast to the contemporary Jewish idea that Eve was to be demonized as the femme fatale, the woman who brought sin into the world. Thus Ecclesiasticus 25:4: "From a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die". Paul is alluding to this and insisting quite the opposite- that Adam , the male, was actually the one initially responsible. Paul can hardly be accused of being against women! Another example of Paul’s conscious rebellion against the contemporary position of women is to be found in Rom. 5:12: “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin”. This is an intended rebuttal of Ecclesiasticus 25:24: “From a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die”. This allusion is one of many reasons for rejecting the Apocrypha as inspired. The idea that women were second class because Eve, not Adam, was the source of sin was widespread. Tertullian (On Female Dress, 1.1) wrote: “You [woman] are the first deserter of the Divine law… on account of your desert, that is, death, the Son of God had to die”. And Paul is consciously countering that kind of thinking.
Adam: The First Sinner
The classical view of the fall supposes that as Eve's teeth sunk into the fruit, the first sin was committed, and soon afterwards Adam followed suite, resulting in the curse falling upon humanity. What I want to discuss is whether the eating of the fruit was in fact the first sin. If it was, then Eve sinned first. Straight away, the Bible-minded believer comes up with a problem: the New Testament unmistakably highlights Adam as the first sinner; by his transgression sin entered the world (Rom. 5:12). So sin was not in the world before his transgression. The ground was cursed for the sake of Adam's sin (Gen. 3:17). This all suggests that Eve wasn't the first sinner. The fact Eve was deceived into sinning doesn't mean she didn't sin (1 Tim. 2:14). She was punished for her sin; and in any case, ignorance doesn't mean that sin doesn't count as sin (consider the need for offerings of ignorance under the Law). So, Eve sinned; but Adam was the first sinner, before his sin, sin had not entered the world. We must also remember that Eve was deceived by the snake, and on account of this was "(implicated / involved) in the transgression" (1 Tim. 2:14). "The transgression". Which transgression? Surely Adam's (Rom. 5:14); by listening to the snake she became implicated in Adam's sin. The implication is that "the transgression" was already there for her to become implicated in it by listening to the serpent. This is the very opposite to the idea of Adam being implicated in Eve's sin. 
So I want to suggest that in fact the eating of the fruit was not the first sin; it was the final physical consequence of a series of sins, spiritual weakness and sinful attitudes on Adam's part. They were mainly sins of omission rather than commission, and for this reason we tend to not notice them; just as we tend to treat our own sins of omission far less seriously than our sins of commission. What happened in Eden was that the garden was planted, Adam was placed in it, and commanded not to eat of the tree of knowledge. The animals are then brought before him for naming; then he is put into a deep sleep, and Eve is created. Then the very first command Adam and Eve jointly received was to have children, and go out into the whole earth (i.e. out of the Garden of Eden) and subdue it to themselves (Gen. 1:28). The implication is that this command was given as soon as Eve was created. There he was, lying down, with his wife beside him, "a help meet"; literally, 'an opposite one'. And they were commanded to produce seed, and then go out of the garden and subdue the earth. It would have been obvious to him from his observation of the animals that his wife was physiologically and emotionally designed for him to produce seed by. She was designed to be his 'opposite one', and there she was, lying next to him. Gen. 2:24 implies that he should have cleaved to her and become one flesh by reason of the very way in which she was created out of him. And yet he evidently did not have intercourse with her, seeing that they failed to produce children until after the fall. If he had consummated his marriage with her, presumably she would have produced children (this deals a death blow to the fantasies of Adam and Eve having an idyllic sexual relationship in Eden before the fall). Paul saw Eve at the time of her temptation as a virgin (2 Cor. 11:2,3). Instead, Adam put off obedience to the command to multiply. There seems an allusion to this in 1 Cor. 7:5, where Paul says that married couples should come together in intercourse "lest Satan (cp. the serpent) tempt you for your incontinency". Depending how closely one reads Scripture, there may be here the suggestion that Paul saw Adam's mistake in Eden as not 'coming together' with his wife.  
But Adam said something to Eve (as they lay there?). He alone had been commanded not to eat the tree of knowledge. Yet when Eve speaks to the serpent, it is evident that Adam had told her about it, but not very deeply. She speaks of "the tree that is in the midst of the garden" rather than "the tree of knowledge". She had been told by Adam that they must not even touch it, even though this is not what God had told Adam (Gen. 2:16,17 cp. 3:2,3). So we are left with the idea that Adam turned to Eve and as it were wagged his finger at her and said 'Now you see that tree over there in the middle, don't you even touch it or else there'll be trouble, O.K.'. She didn't understand, he didn't explain that it was forbidden because it was the tree of knowledge, and so she was deceived into eating it- unlike Adam, who understood what he was doing (1 Tim. 2:14) (1). Adam's emphasis was on not committing  the sin of eating the fruit; he said nothing to her about the need to multiply and subdue the earth.  
The next we know, Adam and Eve have separated, she is talking to the snake, apparently indifferent to the command to subdue the animals, to be their superiors, rather than listen to them as if they actually had superior knowledge. When the snake questioned: "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree..." (Gen. 3:1), Eve was in a weak position because Adam hadn't fully told her what God had said. Hence she was deceived, but Adam wasn't.  
So, why didn't Adam tell her more clearly what God had said? I would suggest that he was disillusioned with the wife God gave him; he didn't have intercourse with her as he had been asked, he separated from her so that she was alone with the snake. "The woman, whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree..." (Gen. 3:12) seems to reflect more than a hint of resentment against Eve and God's provision of her.  Not only was Adam disillusioned with Eve, but he failed to really take God's word seriously. Romans 5 describes Adam's failure in a number of parallel ways: "transgression... sin... offence... disobedience (Rom. 5:19)". "Disobedience" translates a Greek word which is uncommon. Strong defines it as meaning 'inattention', coming from a root meaning 'to mishear'. It is the same word translated "neglect to hear" in Mt. 18:17. Adam's sin, his transgression, his offence was therefore not eating the fruit in itself; it was disobedience, neglecting to hear. That this neglecting to hear God's word seriously was at the root of his sin is perhaps reflected in God's judgment on him: "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife..." rather than God's voice (Gen. 3:17).  
Adam's sin was therefore a neglecting to seriously hear God's word, a dissatisfaction with and effective rejection of his God-given wife, a selfish unwillingness to leave the garden of Eden and go out and subdue the earth (cp. our natural instincts), and a neglection of his duty to multiply children in God's image (cp. preaching and pastoral work). All these things were sins of omission; he may well have reasoned that he would get round to them later. All these wrong attitudes and sins of omission, apparently unnoticed and uncondemned, led to the final folly of eating the fruit: the first sin of commission. And how many of our more public sins are prefaced by a similar process? Truly Adam's sin was the epitome of all our sins. Romans 5 points an antithesis between Adam and Christ. Adam's one act of disobedience which cursed us is set off against Christ's one act of righteousness which blessed us. Yet Christ's one act was not just His death; we are saved by His life too (Rom. 5:10). Christ lived a life of many acts of righteousness and refusal to omit any part of His duty, and crowned it with one public act of righteousness in His death. The implication is that Adam committed a series of disobediences which culminated in one public act of commission: he ate the fruit.  
There are three lines of argument which confirm this picture of what happened in Eden which we have presented. Firstly, Adam and Eve were ashamed at their nakedness. Perhaps this was because they realized what they should have used their sexuality for. Eating the tree of knowledge gave them knowledge of good (i.e. they realized the good they should have done in having children) and also evil (the capacities of their sexual desire?). Adam first called his wife "woman", but after the fall he called her "Eve" because he recognized she was the mother of living ones (Gen. 3:20). By doing so he seems to be recognizing his failure of not reproducing through her as God had originally asked him. The way they immediately produce a child after the fall is surely an expression of their repentance.  
Secondly, it seems that God punishes sin in a way which is appropriate to the sin. Consider how David so often asks God to take the wicked in their own snare- and how often this happens. The punishment of Adam and Eve was appropriate to the sins they committed. What Adam wasn't bothered to do, i.e. have intercourse with his woman, became the very thing which now every fallen man will sell his soul for. They ate the tree of knowledge, they knew  they were naked, and then Adam knew Eve (Gen. 4:1); this chain of connection certainly suggests that sexual desire, whilst not wrong in itself, was part of the result of eating the tree. There is an artless poetic justice and appropriacy in this which seems simply Divine. What they couldn't be bothered to do became the very thing which has probably generated more sin and desire to do than anything else. Adam was to rule over Eve as a result of the fall- the very thing he wasn't bothered to do. Eve's punishment was that her desire was for her husband- perhaps suggesting that she too had no desire for Adam sexually, and therefore was willing to delay obedience to the command to multiply. They were both driven out of the garden- perhaps reflecting how they should have left the garden in obedience to God's command to go out and subdue the natural creation to themselves. Because Adam wasn't bothered to do this, even when it was within his power, therefore nature was given a special power against man which he would never be able to overcome, and which would eventually defeat him (Gen. 3:17-19). This all shows the logic of obedience; we will be made to pay the price of obedience even if we disobey- therefore it is logical to obey. 
Thirdly, there seems evidence that the eating of the fruit happened very soon after their creation. Eve hadn't seen the tree before the serpent pointed it out to her (Gen. 3:6); and consider that they could eat of all the trees, but not of the tree of knowledge. But what about the tree of life? This wasn't forbidden, and yet had they eaten of it, they would have lived for ever. We are told that this tree brings forth fruit every month (Rev. 22:2); so presumably it had not fruited, implying the fall was within the first month after creation. 
The practical outcome of what happened in Eden is that we are to see in Adam's sin an epitome of our essential weaknesses. And how accurate it is. His failure was principally due to sins of omission, of delaying to do God's will because it didn't take his fancy. Time and again Biblical history demonstrates that sins of silence and omission are just as fatal as sins of public, physical commission (e.g. Gen. 20:16; 38:10). To omit to hate evil is the same as to commit it (Ps. 36:4). Because David omitted to enforce the Law's requirements concerning the transport of the tabernacle, a man died. His commission of good didn't outweigh his omission here (1 Chron. 15:13). The Jews were condemned by the Lord for building the sepulchres of the prophets without erecting a placard stating that their fathers had killed them. We have a debt to preach to the world; we are their debtors, and yet this isn't how we often see it (Rom. 1:14). Israel sinned not only by worshipping idols but by thereby omitting to worship God as He required (1 Sam. 8:8). Adam stayed in the garden rather than go out to subdue the earth. Our equivalent is our spiritual selfishness, our refusal to look outside of ourselves into the world of others. Because things like disinterest in preaching or inattention to subduing our animal instincts are sins of omission rather than commission, we too tend to overlook them. We effectively neglect to hear God's word, although like Adam we may make an appearance of half-heartedly teaching it to others. And even when we do this, like Adam we tend to focus on avoidal of committing sin rather than examining ourselves for the likelihood of omission, not least in our lack of spiritual responsibility for others. Because of his spiritual laziness, Adam's sin led Eve into deception and thereby sin, and brought suffering on untold billions. His sin is the epitome of ours. So let us really realize: none of us sins or is righteous unto ourselves. There are colossal ramifications of our every sin and our every act of righteousness on others. 
(1) There are similarities in more conservative Christian groups; e.g. the father or husband who lays the law down about the need for wearing hats without explaining to his wife or daughter why.

Romans and the Wisdom of Solomon
Seeing Romans 1-8 is Paul’s inspired exposition of the nature of sin and the Gospel, it’s surely surprising that he makes no mention of the words Satan or Devil, let alone ‘fallen Angel’. He lays the blame for sin quite clearly upon us and our weakness in the face of internal temptation. And Paul speaks of the Genesis account of the fall of Adam and Eve as if he accepted it just as it is written – he makes no attempt to say that the serpent was a Lucifer or fallen Angel. In fact, closer analysis shows that Paul is consciously rebutting the contemporary Jewish ideas about these things as found in The Wisdom of Solomon and other writings. We must remember that in the first century, there was no canonized list of books comprising the “Old Testament” as we now know it. There was therefore a great need to deconstruct the uninspired Jewish writings which were then circulating – hence the many allusions to them in the inspired New Testament writings, in order to help the Jewish believers understand that these writings were uninspired and to be rejected.
The flood of apostate Jewish literature in the first century and just before it all have much to say about Adam’s sin (e.g. the Apocalypse of Baruch and Apocalypse of Abraham), and I submit that Paul writes of Adam’s sin in order to deconstruct these wrong interpretations. Wisdom 2:24 claimed: “Through the Devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it”. This is actually the first reference to the idea that a being called ‘the Devil’ envied Adam and Eve and therefore this brought about their temptation and fall. Paul rebuts this by saying that “By one man [Adam – not ‘the Devil’] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). This is evidently an allusion by Paul to this wrong idea – and he corrects it. The allusion becomes all the more legitimate when we appreciate that actually Paul is alluding to the Wisdom of Solomon throughout his letter to the Romans. This book glorified the Jewish people, making them out to be righteous, blaming sin on the Devil and the Gentiles. By way of allusion to it, Paul shows how the Jews are de-emphasizing sin, not facing up to the fact that all of humanity are under the curse of sin and death, and all therefore need salvation in Christ. This same basic emphasis upon personal responsibility, not blaming others for our sins, not seeing ourselves as pure and everyone else as the problem, is just as relevant today – surrounded as we are by false theologies that make us out to be basically pure, shifting all blame onto a ‘Devil’ of their own fabrication. It should be noted that this way of alluding to contemporary writings and correcting them is common throughout Scripture – I’ve elsewhere given examples of where Jude and Peter do this in relation to the Book of Enoch, and how Genesis 1–3 does this with the views of creation and origins which were common at the time the book of Genesis was compiled.
Wisdom of Solomon 13–14 criticizes the Gentiles for idolatry and sexual immorality. And Paul criticizes the Gentiles for just the same things in Rom. 1:19–27 – in language which clearly alludes to the Wisdom of Solomon. It’s as if Paul is reviewing the Wisdom of Solomon and placing a tick by what is right (e.g., that Gentiles are indeed guilty of idolatry and immorality), and a cross by what is wrong in the book. E.P. Sanders has observed: “Romans 1:18–32 is very close to the Wisdom of Solomon, a Jewish book written in Egypt. Paul’s reference to ‘images representing... birds, animals or reptiles’ (Rom. 1:23) points to... Egypt. Birds, animals and reptiles were idolized in Egypt, but not commonly in the rest of the Graeco–Roman world” (1). The point of the reference to these things would therefore simply be because Paul is alluding to, almost quoting, the Wisdom of Solomon.

Paul’s Other Allusions to the Wisdom of Solomon
Having spoken of how “the destroyer” destroyed the Egyptian firstborn, Wisdom 18 goes on to speak of how this same “destroyer” tried to kill Israel in the wilderness, but the evil “destroyer” was stopped by Moses: “For then the blameless man made haste, and stood forth to defend them; and bringing the shield of his proper ministry, even prayer, and the propitiation of incense, set himself against the wrath, and so brought the calamity to an end, declaring that he was thy servant. So he overcame the destroyer, not with strength of body, nor force of arms, but with a word subdued him that punished, alleging the oaths and covenants made with the fathers (Wisdom 18:21,22). Paul in 1 Cor. 10 alludes to this – showing that “the destroyer” was sent by God to punish Israel’s sins. The author of Wisdom speaks as if “the destroyer” is some evil being victimizing Israel – and Paul appears to correct that, showing that it was the same “Destroyer” Angel who protected Israel in Egypt who later slew the wicked amongst them. Wisdom 19 makes out that all sins of Israel in the wilderness were committed by Gentiles travelling with them – but Paul’s account of Israel’s history in 1 Cor. 10 makes it clear that Israel sinned and were punished.
It should be noted in passing that 1 Cor. 10:1–4 also alludes to the Jewish legend that the rock which gave water in Num. 21:16–18 somehow followed along behind the people of Israel in the wilderness to provide them with water. Paul is not at all shy to allude to or quote Jewish legends, regardless of their factual truth, in order to make a point [as well as to deconstruct them]. God Himself is not so primitive as to seek to ‘cover Himself’ as it were by only alluding to true factual history in His word; He so wishes dialogue with people that He appears quite happy for His word to refer to their mistaken ideas, in order to enter into dialogue and engagement with them in terms which they are comfortable with. Another example of allusion to Jewish legend is in Rev. 2:17, where the Lord Jesus speaks of giving His people “of the hidden manna” – referring to the myth that Jeremiah had hidden a golden jar of manna in the Holy of Holies at the destruction of the temple in 586 BC, which then ascended to Heaven and is to return with Messiah. Jesus doesn’t correct that myth – He as it were runs with it and uses it as a symbol to describe the reward He will bring. He adds no footnote to the effect ‘Now do understand, this is myth, that jar never really ascended to Heaven nor will it come floating back through the skies one day’. Perhaps this is why the New Testament often quotes the Septuagint text, even where it incorrectly renders the Hebrew original – because God is not so paranoid as to feel bound to only deal in the language of strictly literal truths. If first century people were familiar with the Septuagint, even if is a poor translation of the Hebrew original in places – well OK, God was willing to run with that in order to engage with people in their language. And this approach is very helpful in seeking to understand some of the Biblical references to incorrect ideas about Satan and demons.
It seems to me that Paul’s allusion to wrong Jewish ideas in order to deconstruct them is actually a hallmark of his inspired writing. Ecclesiasticus is another such Jewish writing which he targets in Romans; Rom. 4:1–8 labours the point that Abraham was declared righteous by faith and not by the Law, which was given after Abraham’s time; the covenant promises to Abraham were an expression of grace, and the ‘work’ of circumcision was done after receiving them. All this appears to be in purposeful allusion to the words of Ecclus. 44:21: “Abraham kept the law of the Most High, and was taken into covenant with Him”.
(1) E.P. Sanders, Paul (Oxford: O.U.P., 1996) p. 113.

Allusions From Paul’s Letter to The Romans to The Wisdom of Solomon

The Wisdom of Solomon



Wisdom 4:5 The imperfect branches shall be broken off, their fruit unprofitable, not ripe to eat, yea, meet for nothing [concerning the Gentiles and those in Israel who sinned].

Romans w11:17–20

Israel as an entire nation were the broken off branches; Gentile believers through faith in Christ could become ingrafted branches.

Wisdom 1:13 For God made not death: neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living.

Romans 1:32; Romans 5,7

Death is “the judgment of God” – death does come from God. It doesn’t come from “the Devil”. It was God in Genesis who ‘made’ death. Death comes from our sin, that’s Paul’s repeated message – death isn’t something made by the ‘Devil’ just for the wicked.

Wisdom 1:14 For he created all things, that they might have their being: and the generations of the world were healthful; and there is no poison of destruction in them, nor the kingdom of death upon the earth: [in the context of the earth / land of Israel]

Romans 1,5,7

Paul makes many allusions to these words. He shows that all humanity, including Israel, the dwellers upon the earth / land of Israel, are subject to sin and death. Paul argues against the position that God made man good but the Devil messed things up – rather does he place the blame upon individual human sin.

Wisdom 8:20 I was a witty child, and had a good spirit. Yea rather, being good, I came into a body undefiled.

Romans 3,7

As a result of Adam’s sin, our bodies aren’t “undefiled” – we will die, we are born with death sentences in us. “There is none good” (Rom. 3:12); “in my flesh dwells no good thing” (Rom. 7:18)

Wisdom 10:15 She delivered the righteous people and blameless seed from the nation that oppressed them.

Romans 9–11

Israel were not blameless; “there is none righteous, not one” (Rom. 3:10).

Wisdom 12:10 But executing thy judgments upon them by little and little, thou gavest them place of repentance

Romans 2:4

“ Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4). Paul’s argument is that it is God’s grace in not immediately punishing us as we deserve which should lead us to repentance.

Wisdom 12 raves against the Canaanite nations in the land, saying how wicked they were and stressing Israel’s righteousness – e.g. Wisdom 12:11 For it was a cursed seed from the beginning; neither didst thou for fear of any man give them pardon for those things wherein they sinned.

Romans 1,2,9–11

Paul uses the very same language about the wickedness of Israel

Wisdom 12:12 For who shall say, What hast thou done? or who shall withstand thy judgment? or who shall accuse thee for the nations that perish, whom thou made? or who shall come to stand against thee, to be revenged for the unrighteous men?

Romans 8:30–39; 9:19

Wisdom marvels at how God judged the wicked Canaanites. But Paul reapplies this language to marvel at God’s mercy in saving the faithful remnant of Israel by grace. Paul’s answer to “Who shall accuse thee [Israel]?” is that only those in Christ have now no accuser (Rom. 8:34).

Wisdom 12:13 uses the phrase “condemned at the day of the righteous judgment of God” about the condemnation of the Canaanite tribes.

Romans 2:5

Paul stresses that Israel will be condemned at the “day of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5)

Wisdom 12:22 Therefore, whereas thou dost chasten us, thou scourgest our enemies a thousand times more, to the intent that, when we judge, we should carefully think of thy goodness, and when we ourselves are judged, we should look for mercy.

Romans 2:1–4; 11:28; 14:4

Paul says that Israel are the “enemies” (Rom. 11:28); and that judging is outlawed for those who are themselves sinners. Paul’s case is that we receive mercy at the judgment because we have shown mercy rather than judgment to others.

Wisdom 13:1 Surely vain are all men by nature, who are ignorant of God, and could not out of the good things that are seen know him that is.

Romans 1,10

Wisdom’s implication is that the Gentiles are vain by nature, but Israel aren’t, because they aren’t ignorant of God, and see Him reflected in the “good things” of His creation. Paul contradicts this. He says that all humanity is “vain... by nature”; Israel are “ignorant of God” (Rom. 10:3); and it is believers in Christ who perceive God from the things which He has made. Indeed, it is Israel who are now “without excuse” because they refuse to see “the goodness of God” [cp. “good things”] in the things which He has created (Rom. 1:20–30).

Wisdom 12:26 But they that would not be reformed by that correction, wherein he dallied with them, shall feel a judgment worthy of God.
Wisdom 12:27 For, look, for what things they grudged, when they were punished, that is, for them whom they thought to be gods; now being punished in them, when they saw it, they acknowledged him to be the true God, whom before they denied to know: and therefore came extreme damnation upon them.

Romans 1

It is Israel and all who continue in sin who are worthy of judgment (Rom. 1:32). It was Israel who changed the true God into what they claimed to be gods (Rom. 1:20–26).

Wisdom 13:5–8: For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionably the maker of them is seen. But yet for this they are the less to be blamed: for they peradventure err, seeking God, and desirous to find him. For being conversant in his works they search him diligently, and believe their sight: because the things are beautiful that are seen. Howbeit neither are they to be pardoned.

Romans 1,2

It is Gentile Christians who ‘found’ God (Rom. 10:20). It was they who were led by the beauty of God’s creation to be obedient to Him in truth (Rom. 2:14,15). It was Israel who failed to ‘clearly see’ the truth of God from the things which He created (Rom. 1:20).

Wisdom 14:8 But that which is made with hands is cursed, as well it, as he that made it: he, because he made it; and it, because, being corruptible, it was called god.

Romans 1:23

It was Israel who changed the glory of the true God into images made by their hands and called them gods (Rom. 1:23)

Wisdom 14:9 For the ungodly and his ungodliness are both alike hateful unto God.

Romans 4:5; 5:6

Paul argues that Christ died for the ungodly before they knew Him (Rom. 5:6); God justifies the ungodly not by their works but by their faith (Rom. 4:5)

Wisdom 14:31 For it is not the power of them by whom they swear: but it is the just vengeance of sinners, that punisheth always the offence of the ungodly.

Romans 5

Paul argues that the offence of man is met by God’s grace in Christ, and not dealt with by God through taking out vengeance against sinners. It was the “offence” of Adam which was used by God’s grace to forge a path to human salvation (Rom. 5:15–20). As “the offence” abounded, so therefore did God’s grace (Rom. 5:20).

Wisdom 15:2 For if we [Israel] sin, we are thine, knowing thy power: but we will not sin, knowing that we are counted thine.

Wisdom 15:3 For to know thee is perfect righteousness: yea, to know thy power is the root of immortality.

Romans 3

Paul argues that we all sin – it’s not a case of ‘we don’t sin, because we are God’s people’ (Rom. 3:23). And knowledge isn’t the basis for immortality, rather this is the gift of God by grace (Rom. 6:23). Paul leaves us in no doubt that there’s no question of “if we sin”; for we are all desperate sinners, Jew and Gentile alike (Rom. 3:23). And our sin really does separate us from God and from His Son; we are “none of His” if we sin (Rom. 8:9 – cp. “we are thine”). We are not automatically “His... even if we sin”. Paul speaks of how both Jew and Gentile are equally under sin; whereas Wisdom claims that there’s a difference: “While therefore thou dost chasten us, thou scourgest our enemies [i.e. the Gentiles] ten thousand times more” (12:22).


Wisdom 15:7 For the potter, tempering soft earth, fashioneth every vessel with much labour for our service: yea, of the same clay he maketh both the vessels that serve for clean uses, and likewise also all such as serve to the contrary: but what is the use of either sort, the potter himself is the judge.

Romans 9:21–30

Wisdom mocks the potter for making idols – Paul shows that God is the potter and Israel the clay, and they will be discarded like an idol. For they became like that which they worshipped. Paul uses the same language as Wisdom here – he speaks of how the Divine potter uses “the same clay to make different types of vessels.


Wisdom 15 often laments that the Gentiles worship the created more than the creator

Romans 1 and 2

Romans 1 and 2 make the point, using this same language, that Israel as well as the Gentiles are guilty of worshipping the created more than creator


Wisdom 18:8 For wherewith thou didst punish our adversaries, by the same thou didst glorify us, whom thou hadst called.

cp. Romans 8:30

The “us” who have been “called” and are to be “glorified” are those in Christ – not those merely born Jews.


Wisdom 18:13 For whereas they would not believe anything by reason of the enchantments; upon the destruction of the firstborn, they acknowledged this people to be the sons of God.

cp. Romans 8:14

The true “sons of God” are those in Christ, the Son of God; for not those who merely call themselves “Israel” are the children of God, as Wisdom wrongly argues (Rom. 9:6)


As for the ungodly, wrath came upon them without mercy unto the end: for he knew before what they would do... For the destiny, whereof they were worthy, drew them unto this end, and made them forget the things that had already happened, that they might fulfill the punishment which was wanting to their torments” (Wisdom 19:1,4)


What Wisdom says about the Gentile world and Egypt, Paul applies to Israel in their sinfulness. And he stresses many times that the result of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), not “torments” in the way the Jews understood them. “Wrath... without mercy” is a phrase Paul uses about the coming condemnation of those Jews who refused to accept Christ (Rom. 1:18; 2:5,8). Paul uses the idea of foreknowledge which occurs here in Wisdom, but uses it in Romans 9 and 11 to show that foreknowledge is part of the grace of God’s predestination of His true people to salvation. It is the Jews who reject Christ who are “worthy” of death (Rom. 1:32) – not the Gentile world. No wonder the Jews so hated Paul!



5:13 Until the law sin was in the world… death reigned from Adam to Moses (v. 14)- this could be Paul’s way of countering the objection that his teaching that it was the Law of Moses which brought condemnation (Rom. 4:15) wrongly implied that there could have been no death before the Law.
Not imputed- i.e. we do not have to appear at the day of judgment and answer for our sin if we didn’t know God’s Law, and we broke it in ignorance?
5:14 Nevertheless death reigned- Paul is demonstrating that the whole world is under sin, even those who don’t know God’s law. They die because they themselves sin, albeit in ignorance, and because of their relation to Adam. He’s building up the picture of every single human being as having a desperate need for forgiveness and finding the answer in Jesus- who therefore is the Saviour designed and intended for all people, not just Jews.
Him that was to come- a phrase the Jewish writings used about Moses, but which Paul tellingly reapplies to the Lord Jesus (5). Paul’s letter is densely packed with allusions to Jewish writings- and this explains some of the apparently awkward grammatical constructions and some of the otherwise strange phrases, often using words and concepts which don’t occur in the rest of Paul’s writings. Instead of spilling ink trying to exactly understand some of the phrases in Romans- and this letter has produced more tautuous, unhelpful, highly abstracted commentary than any other- it may be wiser to assume that those difficult passages are in fact allusions to extant Jewish writings or thinking contemporary with Paul, which at present we are unaware of.
5:15 The offence… the free gift- begins an extended comparison and contrast between the results of Adam’s sin and disobedience, and the grace [s.w. “free gift”] given as a result of Christ’s obedience. This is all in demonstration of the comment in 5:14 that Adam- or more specifically, “Adam’s transgression”- was a type of the Lord Jesus. The type works not only by similarity but by inverse contrasts. By doing so, we see how God rejoices in showing grace, almost playing intellectual games to demonstrate how much greater and more abundant is His grace than the power of sin. And this is done in order to persuade us, the doubting readership, of the simple reality- that His grace is for real, and we really will be and are saved and secure in Christ.
Through… one, many be dead- the point of similarity here is that just one person can affect many. We may doubt that the obedience of one man, the Lord Jesus, 2000 years ago, can really have much to do with you and me today. That it all happened, I don’t think we seriously doubt any more than we doubt standard historical facts. But a man hanging on a stake of wood on a Friday afternoon, on a day in April, just outside a Middle Eastern city… can He really do anything for all of us here today? We may never articulate it, say it in so many words. But that is at least our unspoken, unverbalized, unformulated, under the bedcovers nagging doubt, the bane of our deepest spiritual psychology, the fear of our soul, the cloud that comes betwixt as we look up at the steely silence of the skies, or gaze at the ceiling rose as we lay upon our bed. Paul tackles that doubt (and Romans 1-8 is really a tackling of human doubts about God’s grace) by quoting the example of Adam. Through ‘just’ one, death and suffering affected many. If Adam is proof enough of ‘the power of one’- then how much more is Jesus?
Has abounded- the Greek means to superabound, to be lavished, to be poured out in over abundance.  The “gift” which so abounds is surely a reference to the language of Mt. 25:29, where at the final judgment, he that has shall be given to yet more, “in abundance” [s.w.]. Yet our receipt of that grace in this life is a foretaste of that superabundance we are yet to receive. Superabundant generosity characterizes God. We note that when the Lord multiplied the loaves and fishes, there superabounded 12 full baskets and then seven full baskets (Mt. 14:20; 15:37). Why the apparent over creation of food? For what purpose was there such waste? Why is the same strange word for superabundance used both times? And why is it used in three of the four Gospels when this incident is recorded (Lk. 9:17; Jn. 6:12,13; Mt. 14:20; 15:37)? Surely to give us the impression of the lavishing of God’s gift, His grace, when He provides for His children. We have experienced the same from Him, and should be like this towards others. Paul often uses the word in 2 Corinthians in appealing for generosity to poorer brethren; he speaks of how God’s grace has superabounded, and how we also ought to superabound in kindness and generosity to others (2 Cor. 9:8). We will eternally know the truth and reality of all this, because we will not only be given eternal life, but life “more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). We must ask ourselves to what extent we show that same quality of super abundant grace to others.
5:16 The judgment- the result of the legal case, the final verdict. This is contrasted with “the gift”, as if the judge hands down the verdict but then profers us the gift of being declared right. The verdict can mean at times the actual execution of the punishment (as in Rom. 2:2,3; 3:8; 1 Cor. 11:29,34). In this sense, we were actually condemned- not threatened with it and let off.
Unto justification- dikaioma, s.w. “righteousness”. The free gift of salvation apart from our works actually inspires righteousness- performed in gratitude for salvation, rather than in order to attain salvation. Or we could still read the word as referring to a decree which counts us as right, reversing that of condemnation.
The contrast is between the one man who brought the verdict of condemnation upon many, by one sin [for Adam is everyman]- and the one man, Jesus, who brought the verdict of being declared right for many people who had committed many sins. The paradox is that ‘just’ one sin lead to the condemnation of mankind, but our many sins lead to us being declared right- by grace. The reasoning here indirectly suggests that Christ was also “a man” as Adam- and certainly not a god.
5:17 Death reigned… shall reign in life- again highlights the superabundance of the grace received. By Adam’s sin, we became reigned over by death; by Christ, we sinners, we who are like Adam, not only become free from death and shall live eternally, but we shall “reign”, as rulers in God’s future Kingdom (Lk. 19:19; Rev. 5:10). Note the contrast so far in these verses is between Adam and Christ, and between Adam’s sin and… Christ. We expect the connection to be between Adam’s sin and Christ’s righteousness and obedience. This is the connection made later, but for now, we simply read of Christ as the counterpart to both Adam and Adam’s sin. It wasn’t so much one act of obedience which countered Adam’s one sin; rather was it a life lived, a character developed, a person, rather than a single act of obedience, as perhaps implied by the legalism of Judaism, whereby one sin could be cancelled out by an act of obedience. The reality however is that Adam’s one sin was no mere casual infringement which had no significant consequence- ‘just’ one sin leads to all the death and suffering which Adam’s sin brought. Our sins are to be understood in the same way. Adam must have held his head in his hands as he stood somewhere eastward in Eden, and sobbed to the effect “My God, what have I done…”, and from tear filmed eyes looked out upon a creation starting to buckle and wrinkle. If we accept Paul’s point that Adam is everyman [5:12], that whilst we suffer because of what he did, this is because we would have done the same if in his shoes… then we will feel the same for our falls, our slips, our rebellions, our sins.
Abundance of grace- For the Macedonians “the abundance of their joy… abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (2 Cor. 8:2). Their joy for what the Lord had done for them, for the “abundance” [s.w.] of His grace and giving to them (Rom. 5:17), led to their giving to the poor.
Throughout Romans 5, Paul makes a seamless connection between the reign of God's grace now, and our future reigning in the literal Kingdom of God to be established materially upon earth at the Lord's return: Grace reigns unto eternal life, i.e. the result of the reign of grace now is eternal life in the future (Rom. 5:21)... and thus "the ones receiving the abundance of the grace and of the free gift of the righteousness in life will reign through the one, Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:17). Elsewhere, Paul clearly understands the idea of future reigning as a reference to our ruling in the future Kingdom of God. This is a very real and wonderful hope which we have, and is indeed part of the Gospel. "Israel" means something like 'God rules' (Gen. 32:22-28); His people are those over whom He rules. We therefore are under His Kingdom now, if we accept Christ as King over our lives.
Rom. 5:17,21 draws a parallel between Adam's sin and ours. His tragedy, his desperation, as he looked at his body, at his wife, with new vision; as his wide eyes wandered in tragedy around the garden: all who fall are in that position, eagerly reaching out to the clothing of the slain lamb.
5:18 This verse could be ended with an exclamation mark and be read as a summary, exclaimed in joy and wonder, of the preceding argument.
Justification of life- could be a legal term concerning how a person condemned to death has received “life” through being declared right.
Perhaps we feel that our preaching somehow lacks a sense of power and compulsion of others. Try explicitly telling them about the cross. The apostles recounted the fact of the cross and on this basis appealed for people to be baptized into that death and resurrection. There is an impelling power, an imperative, in the wonder and shame of it all. Joseph saw the Lord’s dead body and was compelled to offer for that body to be laid where his dead body should have laid. In essence, he lived out the message of baptism. He wanted to identify his body with that of the Lord. He realized that the man Christ Jesus was truly his representative. And so he wanted to identify with Him. And properly presented, this will be the power of response to the preaching of the cross today. “Through one act of righteousness [the cross] the free gift came unto all men to justification of life" (Rom. 5:18)- yet “all men" only receive that justification if they hear this good news and believe it. This is why we must take the Gospel “unto all men" (surely an allusion to the great commission)- so that, in that sense, the wondrous cross of Christ will have been the more ‘worthwhile’. Through our preaching, yet more of those “all men" who were potentially enabled to live for ever will indeed do so. This is why the Acts record so frequently connects the preaching of the cross with men’s belief. Negatively, men do not believe if they reject the “report" of the crucifixion (Jn. 12:38,39).
5:19 Offence- Adam's sin of commission (i.e. eating the fruit) may well have been a result of his sins of omitting to go forth out of the centre of the garden and multiply. By one man's inattention (Rom. 5:19 Gk.) sin came into the world.
Made sinners- Gk. ‘to appoint, ordain’. It’s not that we as innocent people [which we are not anyway] were turned into sinners because someone else sinned, far away and long ago. Rather were “all men”- and Paul uses this term to emphasize how Jew and Gentile are in the same position- put into the category of Adam, of sinners, of guilty, of flesh. But the good news is that there can be a category change- if we can be “made sinners” we can likewise be made righteous. 
One man’s obedience- a reference to the crucifixion, or to a life of obedience? Significantly, Paul writes in Romans of baptism as being “obedience” (Rom. 1:5; 6:16,17; 15:18; 16:26, also Acts 6:7). It’s as if by obeying the command to die with Him by baptism into His death, we are associating with His actual obedience to death in the cross. The Lord spoke of having been given a specific “command” by the Father to die on the cross (Jn. 10:18), which would encourage us to interpret His “obedience” here as His obedience to death on the cross.
5:20 Entered- s.w. only Gal. 2:4, where the Judaizers ‘sneaked in’ to the church. Why exactly Paul uses such a word isn’t altogether clear to me, nor to any of the many expositors I’ve read.
That the offence may abound- in the context, “the offence” [singular] refers to the specific sin of Adam- “the offence of the one man” (5:18). The Law was intended on one hand to bring life (Rom. 7:10); it was “holy, just and good”. But the effect of it in practice was to accentuate sin, and this result of human failure was also somehow under the overall hand of God. He on the one hand cannot be held guilty of leading men into sin by creating the concept of Divine law; for that Law which He gave was ordained to bring life. Yet He worked with and through human weakness, so that in the bigger picture, the result was that the Law convicted men of their sin so that God’s grace could superabound, abound yet more than sin abounded. God uses sin, and doesn’t just turn away from human failure in disgust; and in this we see a huge lesson for ourselves, we who are confronted on all sides by serious human failure.  
Paul knew the ‘abounding’ aspect of the Father, when he wrote of how God does exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think (Eph. 3:20). How many times have we found that we prayed for one thing, and God gave us something so very much better?  I see a kind of similarity with the way that God brought in the Law “that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly” (Rom. 5:20). God set up a situation in order that in due time, He could lavish His grace the more. One almost wonders whether this is one of the reasons why God allowed the whole concept of sin to exist at all. After all, the God of boundless possibilities surely had ways to achieve His ends without having to allow a concept like sin in the first place. Seeing there is no personal Satan, the intellectual origin of the concept of sin surely lies with God. And perhaps He chose this simply as a way of being better able to express His amazing grace and love to sinners. Having lambasted Israel for their sins and described in detail their coming judgment, God then makes a strange comment, apparently out of context with what He has just been saying: “And therefore will Yahweh wait, that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for Yahweh is a God of justice; blessed are all they that wait for him” (Is. 30:18). God appears to be saying that He delays His actions, that He brings judgment, that He sets Himself so far above us- just so that He can get to show yet more mercy to us. Perhaps Joseph was manifesting God in the way he worked out that slow and detailed scheme of dealing with his sinful brethren... it has always seemed to me that he drew out the process just so that he could lead up to a climax of pouring out his maximum grace to them. Whilst the way seems long, “blessed are all they that wait for him”. God is even spoken of as concluding (Gk. ‘shutting up the eyes’) of Israel in the sin of unbelief, “that he might have mercy” upon both them and the Gentiles (Rom. 11:32).
5:21 Sin has reigned unto death- or, Gk., in death. We have changed masters and also changed our Kings. Our status has changed, but we must still try to live out that status change in practice- hence “let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it” (Rom. 6:12). Grace reigns as King right now, in that Christ reigns- and thereby we are right now in the sphere of His Kingdom.
So might grace reign through righteousness- in that God’s grace operates through the ‘mechanism’ of God and Christ’s righteousness being counted to us, so that we are counted as righteous, justified. And this comes to its ultimate term in physical, literal terms in our being given eternal life at the final judgment.
Grace, and the forgiveness it brings, reigns as a King (Rom. 5:21), in the sense that the real belief that by grace we are and will be saved, will bring forth a changed life (Tit. 2:11,12). The wonder of grace will mean that our lives become focused upon Jesus, the one who enabled that grace. Grace will be the leading and guiding principle in our lives, comprised as they are of a long string of thoughts and actions. And as with every truly focused life, literally all other things become therefore and thereby of secondary value. The pathway of persistent, focused prayer, the power of the hope of glory in the Kingdom, regular repentance… day by day our desires are redirected towards the things of God.
You cannot have abstract diabolism; the evil desires that are in a man’s heart cannot exist separately from a man; therefore ‘the Devil’ is personified. Sin is often personified as a ruler (e.g. Rom. 5:21; 6:6,17; 7:13–14). It is understandable, therefore, that the ‘Devil’ is also personified, seeing that ‘the Devil’ also refers to sin. In the same way, Paul speaks of us having two beings, as it were, within our flesh (Rom. 7:15–21): the man of the flesh, ‘the Devil’, fights with the man of the spirit. Yet it is evident that there are not two literal, personal beings fighting within us.
Paul makes a seamless connection between the reign of God's grace now, and our future reigning in the literal Kingdom of God to be established materially upon earth at the Lord's return: Grace reigns unto eternal life, i.e. the result of the reign of grace now is eternal life in the future (Rom. 5:21)... and thus "the ones receiving the abundance of the grace and of the free gift of the righteousness in [this] life will reign through the one, Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:17). The idea is that if grace reigns in our lives, then we will reign in the future Kingdom.

(1) Dorothee Sölle, Christ The Representative (London: S.C.M., 1967) p. 69.
(2) W.F. Arndt and F.W. Gingrich, A Greek English Lexicon Of The New Testament (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1957).
(3) G.E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993 ed.) pp. 450-456.
(4) H.W. Robinson, Corporate Personality in Ancient Israel. (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980).
(5) For documentation see Robin Scroggs, The Last Adam: A Study in Pauline Anthropology (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1966) pp. 80,81

The Case For Grace: A Commentary On Romans 1-8

1.Introduction 2. The Structure of Romans 3. Romans Chapter 1 4. Romans Chapter 2 5. Romans Chapter 3 6. Romans Chapter 4 7. Romans Chapter 5 8. Romans Chapter 6 9. Romans Chapter 7 10. Romans Chapter 8


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