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Paul's letter to the Romans

chapter  5

Christ has defeated sin and death

Trying to set up a shield or defence against divine judgment,  for example by meritorious obedience to the law or by claiming some other achievement,  implies a struggle with God which,  in the light of God's grace,  is inappropriate.   The things to 'boast' about are the things that God has done and will do.
Now that we are counted righteous through faith let us continue at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.   It is through him that we have been enabled to enter the realm of God's grace,  where we now find ourselves.   And let us boast in the prospect of the glory of God that is to be ours.   Let us even boast of our present sufferings,  knowing that suffering teaches us to endure,  and endurance moulds character,  and character discovers hope.   Such hope does not end in disappointment,  because God's love has already been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

It was at the very time when we were ourselves powerless that Christ died for us sinners.   Even for someone who was just,  one of us would hardly be ready to die,  though maybe for a good person someone might face death.   But Christ died for us even though we were sinners  -  that is how God shows his love for us.   And if we have been justified through Christ's sacrifice is it likely that he will fail to save us from final punishment?   If,  as God's enemies,  we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,  surely,  now that we are reconciled,  we can count on being saved by his life!   We boast in God through our Lord Jesus,  in whom we are at peace with God.      [1-11]

Paul has now reached the point where he is ready to set out the whole range of his belief about the human situation and the human prospect in Christ.   His statement comes across as the correction for an imperfect understanding.   For Paul,  using the Adam-Christ contrast,  it is inadequate to say that Adam brought sin into the world and Christ has brought the forgiveness of sins.   Christ has done much more than that.   In him not just sins but Sin-itself is defeated.   And more than that even,  in Christ Death-itself is finally overcome.
Sin came into the world through one man.   And,  as soon as sin broke through,  the way was opened up for death.   Death spread to the whole human race because everyone sinned.   Sin was there long before the law,  and at first no one could actually be accused of law-breaking.   Nevertheless death held sway from Adam to Moses,  though in that time only Adam's sin was the transgression of a commandment.

Adam foreshadowed the Man who was to come.   But God's grace was way beyond the measure of Adam's wrongdoing.   If one man's sin brought death upon many,  that consequence is vastly exceeded by the grace of God in the gift that came to many through one man,  Jesus Christ.   The gift of God far outweighs the result of the sin:  one wrong act brought judgment and condemnation,  yet after countless misdeeds came grace and acquittal.   One man's sin made the opportunity for death to reign,  but through one man,  Jesus Christ,  those who receive the abundance of God's grace will themselves live and reign.

Yes,  the consequence of one misdeed was condemnation for everyone,  but the consequence of one righteous act is acquittal and life for everyone.   The disobedience of one man made the many sinners;  through the obedience of the one man many will be made righteous.   Law came on the scene to multiply opportunities for transgression.   But whatever the count of sins grace immeasurably outweighed it.   And the result is that though sin reigned by way of death God's grace establishes its reign in righteousness,  to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.      [12-21]

  paraphrase and notes by Evan Lewis


Making connections with Paul the apostle
What Paul did NOT write

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