1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Our justification brings the animosity that God had toward us because of our sin to an end. It gives us peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Part of the salvation decision is not a detached asking to get out of jail for free, but it is a surrendering to God as the savior and authority of one’s life. It is important to note that, before we respond to the gospel in faith, God is our enemy. He does not love us and have a wonderful plan for our lives, though in a sense He has shown love to us in giving His Son. It is a bit of a paradox. To emphasize God’s love without emphasizing His justice and wrath is a half gospel and not the full gospel taught in the Bible. We must be careful to present the truth which starts with God’s holiness, then men’s fallenness and the consequences thereof, and culminates with the work of Christ and an invitation to respond.
2through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
Our faith is not something that we can boast about in anyway as if we were responsible for it. Our salvation is through Christ who introduced us into faith through His grace. The only way to obtain salvation is through Christ, and in that salvation we stand in full assurance. We can have full assurance of our eternal destiny because Christ’s work is sure. If it was up to us or some combination of us and Christ, we should doubt. But since it is all the righteousness of Christ and nothing of us, we can boast in Him and have confidence in our eternity with Him. We can exalt and rejoice in the hope that we have of fully reflecting the glory of God and basking in His presence in worship for eternity.
3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
In addition to exalting in our future destiny with God in heaven, we are to also exalt in our difficulties and tribulations. We naturally don’t like tribulation, but we are also to rejoice in it. There is reason behind this, and the reason is that tribulation and suffering brings about perseverance. It is impossible to persevere if things are easy. It is through the hardship that we are refined.
4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
As we persevere in confidence in our faith and in the glory of God which is to come, we will find our character and integrity to be shown to be true. We will know who we are in Christ because He enables us to be steadfast and firm in our faith even under duress. This will give us confidence that we are indeed redeemed. This confidence leads to great hope of what is to come because of the faithfulness of God to keep His promises and because of His power to change the desires of a heart. Our perseverance in our faith culminates in giving us great hope in our hearts.
5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Hope does not disappoint. We can be sure that God will keep His promises. Indeed, He has already poured out His love within our hearts through the Holy Spirit which He gave to us. God has come near to man though as before He was afar off. This is great love, and having the Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing our future place in heaven with Christ (Ephesians 1:14).
6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Man left to himself is totally helpless to save himself. He is lost, dead in sin, captive to the devil, and unable to do anything to find his way home. He can’t seek his way to God, for he is blind. Yet God reaches out and draws a person to Himself. He has demonstrated his love for us by sending His Son to die for the ungodly. We didn’t entice God to come to us because we were so loveable and because we made Him smile. We were ungodly and loveless. It was God’s mercy to reach out to us in love.
7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.
Humanly speaking, people don’t die for anybody, let alone if they are righteous. They are self-centered and want to preserve their own lives. But it is Christ who laid down His life so that we could be saved. Somebody might conceivably, possibly die for another person if they are outstandingly righteous. Yet it is still a stretch.
8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
We were certainly not like such a righteous person. We were sinners, but despite that fact, Christ initiated His love, demonstrating it toward us by dying for us on the cross. We didn’t merit the love, but God sent Jesus to those who would largely reject Him only because He loved the world (John 3:16).
9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
Christ justifies us through His blood when we appropriate the truth of the gospel by faith. Part of that equation also is that we will be saved from the wrath of God which is going to be poured out upon sinners. We can exalt and have great hope because we can be confident that we will not face the wrath of God. We will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged according to how faithful we were as believers, but never will we face God’s wrath for sin. Wrath is for enemies, whereas we are children of God.
10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Beginning as enemies (a necessary part of the gospel message), God reached out in love toward us. He reconciled to us through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. We are no longer enemies but friends and even better, children of God. Yet much more will we be saved by His life. We not only identify with Christ’s death but also His resurrection. This means that we not only do not have to bear the penalty of sin, but we are given His empowering to live for Him in this life. Granted, none of us do this perfectly, but we ought to be resting more and more in the faithfulness of God who keeps His saints from stumbling and falling.
11And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
In addition to this, we praise God through Christ who is our Lord because we have received reconciliation. Formerly God was opposed to us because we were opposed to Him. Now we are no longer at enmity with one another.
12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—
Through Adam sin entered the world and death through sin. Even though Eve was deceived first, Adam is still responsible for bringing sin into the world. That is the burden of headship; man is ultimately responsible. Death, the consequence of sin and part of the curse, spread to all men. Until the first sin, there was no death and no sin. So because of Adam everybody who would be born after him through his seed would carry the propensity to sin and the curse of death. To make the point obvious, all men sinned, which we should expect, given their sin nature through Adam.
13for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Before the Mosaic Law, sin was certainly in the world, beginning with Adam. Sin, however, is not credited to the account of men when there is no law, however. That doesn’t mean that man is off the hook and not guilty. It simply means that the full penalty of the sin is yet to be carried out as the official sentencing has not been given. If a person doesn’t know the law, they still are lawbreakers if they break the law. It is just that they do not get punished and declared guilty until the enforcers of the law enforce the penalty. God will enforce the penalty of death, for no person who is a sinner will escape it. Even those who do not have the law, still can by nature do the things of the law and be a law unto themselves. Such is an act of faith and is credited as righteousness, for they obey the revelation that they have.
14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
From Adam until Moses, death reigned as the consequence of sin. Even those who did not sin as Adam did but who were justified by their faith still had to pay the penalty of the first sin which is physical death. Adam, says Paul, is a type of Christ, not in that he reflected the righteousness and perfection of Christ but in that through one man sin entered the world and in the same way through one Man sin can be forgiven.
15But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression 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.
The free gift of salvation through Christ is different from Adam’s sin. Adam’s sin caused many to die and be born into sin. However, the grace of God and the gift of grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounds to many. One led many into sin while the other led many to righteousness and justification. In that sense they are polar opposites.
16The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.
The gift is different in that it arose from many transgressions which resulted in justification for many. The first sin caused judgment to arise which resulted in condemnation. Adam’s sin results in judgment while Christ’s work on the cross results in justification. The results are totally different. The only similarity is that one person has such a great effect upon many.
17For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
Death reigned because of the sin of Adam. No man can escape the penalty of sin and the grasp of death. All men die physically and those who remain in their sins also die spiritually, which is the second death. Yet much more wonderful is the abundance of grace through the gift of righteousness through the One, Jesus Christ. Those who receive the gift will reign in life. To know Christ is the definition of eternal life (John 17:3). Being grafted into His life (Galatians 2:20) means that His life and power are given to us to be working in and through us in this life (2 Peter 1:8). The grasp of sin which compels the sinner to do its bidding is broken for the believer who is in Christ. He can still choose to sin as he still has flesh, but he is not forced to be enslaved to Satan’s bidding and enticements. He can reign in life by doing the will of God through the power of Christ who is at work in and through him.
18So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
As a sort of summary statement of the argument, Paul says that through one sin came the condemnation of all men. Thus we have the doctrine of original sin, that all men are born with sin and deserving of hell. Yet the positive side is that through Christ all men are able and invited to be justified through Christ. Without the bad news first, the good news of the gospel of Christ doesn’t seem so great and grand. When man realizes his eternal destiny apart from Christ, he will be more likely to respond in genuine saving faith through Christ.
The justification of life is for and to all men, though some never receive Him of their own free choice.
19For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
Man was made sinners by birth and nature through Adam’s sin, and through Christ’s obedience and sacrifice man can be made righteous.
20The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
The Law came in not to save man, for it cannot do that. It came in to increase the sin that was already present even without the Law. The Law shows men their sin and when rules are given, sin moves in men to make them create new ways of sinning and breaking the rules. Yet as sin increased, the grace of God through Christ abounded all the more in that men can be justified through faith because of God’s grace which covers all sin, no matter how vast and how despicable.
21so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sin reigned in death and it continues to reign for those who have not appropriated the righteousness of Christ. Yet grace reigns through righteousness appropriated to the sinner’s account through the work of Christ. Such grace leads to eternal life in knowing Christ, being found in Him, and living with Him forever.