ROMANS CHAPTER 5: THE LOVE OF GOD ASSURES THE HOPE OF SALVATION TO THOSE WHO ARE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS

 

Beloved Lord Our Father,

We thank you, Father, for this opportunity to study St. Paul's letter to the Christians of the universal/catholic Church in Rome.  Help us to understand the measure of faith and the application of belief Paul set down for this faith community and also help us, dear Father, to be able to apply St. Vincent Lerins' definition of a true Catholic to our own lives, as St. Vincent wrote,"....he is the true and genuine Catholic who loves the truth of God, who loves the Church, who loves the Body of Christ, who esteems divine religion and the Catholic Faith above every thing, above the authority, above the regard, above the genius, above the eloquence, above the philosophy, of every man whatsoever; who set light by all of these, and continuing steadfast and established in the faith, resolves that he will believe that, and that only, which he is sure the Catholic Church has held universally and from ancient time; but that whatsoever new and unheard-of doctrine he shall find to have been furtively introduced by some one or another, besides that of all, or contrary to that of all the saints, this, he will understand, does not pertain to religion, but is permitted as a trial, being instructed especially by the words of the blessed Apostle Paul, who writes thus in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, 'There must needs be heresies, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you:' as though he should say, This is the reason why the authors of Heresies are not forthwith rooted up by God, namely, that they who are approved may be made manifest; that is, that it maybe apparent of each individual, how tenacious and faithful and steadfast he is in his love of the Catholic faith" [St. Vincent of Lerins died c. 450AD]. Come dear Counselor, most loved Holy Spirit; guide us in our study we pray in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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"Faith gives us peace with God, not the law. For it reconciles us to God by taking away those sins which had made us God's enemies.  And because the Lord Jesus is the minister of this grace, it is through him that we have peace with God.  Faith is greater than the law because the law is our work, whereas faith belongs to God.  Furthermore, the law is concerned with our present life, whereas faith is concerned with eternal life."

 The Ambrosiaster [4th century]: Commentary on St. Paul's Epistles.

 

"Love comes to its perfection in us when we can face the Day of Judgment fearlessly.."

1 John 4:17.

 

Up to this point in his letter Paul has been focusing on establishing the justification of human beings by grace through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ [His sacrificial death, burial, and Resurrection].  He has argued that Gentiles must be included as equal citizens in the New Covenant and that faith and not "works of the Law" must be the vehicle that leads to righteousness/justification and ultimately to salvation.  He has used Old Testament Scripture and the model of father Abraham to prove that the promises of salvation must come first from faith in God. Now, as though turning a page, Paul moves into the doctrinal section of his letter and begins by introducing into the discussion of the three theological virtues upon which Christian life is based: faith, hope, and the third virtue is of course love/charity'the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake and our neighbors as ourselves for the love of God" [see CCC# 1812-1829].  Paul assures the Roman community, and us, that when we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ we have peace with God and therefore also peace with ourselves because the spirit within us is no longer at war with the flesh that was once bound to the sin of Adam.  Paul immediately points out that this transformation does not mean that we will no longer have to face troubles or suffering in our lives but that, because the peace that is a gift of grace through our faith in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ resides inside of us, we are now equipped to battle with the external forces of evil that will continue to assail us'we can have both faith and confidence in God's loving promises through Jesus Christ and this exercise of faith gives us hope in obtaining eternal life! 

 

Please read Romans 5:1-11, God's love and the gift of the Holy Spirit provides our hope of eternal salvation:

1 "So then, now that we have been justified by faith, we are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; 2 it is through him, by faith, that we have been admitted into God's favor in which we are living, and look forward exultantly to God's glory.  3 Not only that; let us exult, too, in our hardships, understanding that hardship develops perseverance, 4 and perseverance develops a tested character, something that gives us hope, 5 and a hope which will not let us down, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.  6 When we were still helpless, at the appointed time, Christ died for the godless.  7 You could hardly find anyone ready to die even for someone upright; though it is just possible that, for a really good person, someone might undertake to die.  8 So it is proof of God's own love for us, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.  9 How much more can we be sure, therefore, that, now that we have been justified by his death, we shall be saved through him from the retribution of God.  10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more can we be sure that, being now reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  11 What is more, we are filled with exultant trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation."

 

Question: According to Paul in Romans 5:1 what is the first effect of justification?

Answer: The first effect is that the believer experiences peace.

Question: In what sense is Paul using the term "peace"?

Answer: He is not using the word in the sense of "peace of mind" or in the sense of "peace" as a result of the absence of conflict, but is using the Greek word eirene, pronounced, i-ray'-nay [see Strong's Greek Lexicon #1515] in the same sense as the Hebrew word shalom, the fullness of a right relationship'in this case with God and in the justification that establishes that right relationship with Yahweh through the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus the Messiah.  Paul speaks of "peace" / "shalom" in the same sense as Yahweh's holy prophet Isaiah prophesized the outpouring of the Spirit of God in Isaiah 32:15-20.  Keep in mind as you read this passage that the "dessert" is the spiritually parched souls of Old Covenant believers: "until the spirit is poured out on us from above, and the desert becomes productive ground, so productive you might take it for a forest.  Fair judgment will fix its home in the desert, and uprightness live in the productive ground, and the product of uprightness will be peace, the effect of uprightness being quiet and security for ever." [also see Isaiah 54:10; Psalms 85:10-11].

 

Romans 5:2:"it is through him, by faith that we have been admitted into God's favor [grace] in which we are living, and look forward exultantly to God's glory."

Note: The words "look forward exultantly to God's glory" are translated as "we boast in hope of the glory of God" in the New American translation.

When human beings enter into a correct relationship with God through the covenant in the blood of Christ they are no longer under the penalty of God's wrath as a child of Adam but instead as adopted sons and daughters are at peace'reborn into God's family, where the perfect sacrifice of Christ has removed all wrath.  This gift of reconciliation has been a gift of God's grace and the result is the inner peace that comes from a unity in the life of the Trinity.  In 2 Peter  1:4, St. Peter writes of this divine union: "By his divine power, he has lavished on us all the things we need for life and for true devotion, through the knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these, the greatest and priceless promises have been lavished on us, that through them you should share the divine nature and escape the corruption rife in the world through disordered passion."

 

Question: How did Paul describe this "peace" in Philippians 4:6-7?

Answer: "Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus."  The Church father, Origen [c. 185-254] wrote in his commentary on Romans 5, "Peace reigns when nobody complains, nobody disagrees, nobody is hostile and nobody misbehaves. Therefore, we who once were enemies of God, following the devil, that great enemy and tyrant, now, if we have thrown down his weapons and in their place taken up the sign of Christ and the standard of his Cross, have peace with God.  But this is through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has reconciled us to God through the offering of his blood.  Let us therefore have peace, so that the flesh will no longer war with the spirit, nor will the law of God be opposed by the law of our members.  [...].  But let it most definitely be known that anyone in whom the vice of wickedness is found can never have peace." Origen, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans

 

In Romans 5:2-3 with the words: "we are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; 2 it is through him, by faith, that we have been admitted into God's favor in which we are living, and look forward exultantly to God's glory." Paul identifies Jesus' role as the sole mediator and reconciler of humanity to God's plan of salvation.  The redemptive work of Jesus Christ is foremost on Paul's mind in Romans 5:1-21 and he will identify Jesus' role as redeemer and mediator 5 times in 5:2, 9, 11, 17, and 21.

 

5:2

"it is through him by faith we have been admitted into God's favor"

5:9

"now that we have been justified by his death, we shall be saved through him"

5:11

"through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation"

5:17

"It was by one man's offence that death came to reign over all, but how much greater the reign in life of those who receive the fullness of grace and the gift of saving Justice, through the one man, Jesus Christ."

5:21

"so grace was to rule through saving justice that leads to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

 

 

Question: Paul writes in Romans 5:2 that we will be able to look forward to God's glory.  What is the glory to which Paul refers?

Answer: To enter into God's glory is to be united to the divine life of the Most Holy Trinity into eternity. In this verse Paul is expanding the theme of the Christian's hope in receiving God's glory in the eschatological [last] gifts promised through the redemptive work of Christ:

 

But this promise of entering into God's "glory" would trigger in his Jewish audience the recollection of the Old Testament Biblical passages including the event in salvation history when man first became deprived of God's glory.  Paul has referred to the hoped for future glory in Romans 1:23; 2:7, 10; & 3:23.  He will also make this connection in 8:18-30; 9:4, and in 9:23.

Question: According to Genesis 1:26-28 and in Psalm 8:5-8 what does "glory" denote in the Biblical tradition?

Answer:  Glory denotes the "likeness of God" based on man being created to bear God's "image."  The process of salvation history and the promises made to the covenant people through God's holy prophets will be complete when those justified by the saving work of Jesus Christ arrive at the fullness of "glory," fulfilling God's original intent for His relationship with man first established in Eden'bearing His image in righteousness and immortality.    

 

Romans 5:3-4: "Not only that; let us exult, too, in our hardships, understanding that hardship develops perseverance, and perseverance develops a tested character, something that gives us hope.." " [New American: "let us boast in our afflictions"].

Paul will use the word "boast" = kauchaomai [kow-khah'-om-ahee] 5 times in Romans 2:17, 23; 5:2, 3, and 11 [see Strong's Greek lexicon # 2744; kauchaomai = boast, glory, joy, rejoice]. 

Question: Prior to chapter 5 "to boast" is used in a negative sense but not in chapter 5.  Why?  [Chart uses New American translation for Romans 2:17, 23; 5:2, 3 & 11]

1. Romans 2:17

"Now if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of God and know his will are area able to discern what is important.."

2. Romans 2:23

"You who boast of the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?"

3. Romans 5:2

"through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God."

4. Romans 5:3

"Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope.."

5. Romans 5:11

"Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."

 

Answer: In the previous passages "boasting" was baseless though the works of the Law but when God's grace is at work in the life of the believer we have every reason to boast.

 

Question: Why does Paul say that the Christian should rejoice in hardships?  What had hardships had Paul experienced [see 2 Corinthians 11:23-29]?  What did he learn from suffering hardships [see 2 Corinthians 4:7-12].

Answer: Trial develops perseverance and perseverance develops a "tested character, something that gives us hope." Paul is evidently reflecting on his own experiences when persecution has served to strengthen his resolve:

 

Paul's point is that affliction and suffering endured with the grace of God allows us to "image" Christ and His suffering in our bodies which are as frail and temporal as earthenware pots.  Our suffering gives us hope because we receive evidence of God's grace working in our lives and we are strengthened by the experience with the knowledge that God's grace holds the promise of eternal life!  See CCC# 618

 

Question: How is it that Paul writes in Romans 5:4 that a "tested character" through hardships can give us "hope?" How is "hope" defined in the universal catechism? What is the source of the second of the 3 theological virtues'"hope"?  See CCC # 1817-21; Hebrews 10:23 and Titus 3:6-7.

Answer: The Holy Spirit is the source of our hope. 

 

Paul assures the Christians of Rome in Romans 5:4-5 that the hope we place in the promises of God'the hope which is a gift of the Spirit, does not let us down or disappoint us, nor will our "hope" put us to shame. 

Question: This "hope" is not an illusion but is instead founded on what unshakable source?  Why can we have confidence in the Spirit's gift of hope?  See Romans 5:5; Hebrews 6:17-20; 10:23; 2 Timothy 2:11-13; Titus 1:1-3.

Answer: Our hope is founded on God's love for us evidenced by the gift of God the Holy Spirit who is a pledge of His love. Human hope can disappoint or deceive but God cannot lie; He is always faithful and true.  God the Holy Spirit is the love that binds the Father to the Son and by His active presence in us we are not only bound to the Most Holy Trinity in the love of the Spirit but it is the same the love which He pours into our hearts that flows out to humanity.  It is the same love with which the Father loves the Son and with which the Most Holy Trinity loves us'this is agape in the Greek. The Greek word agape meant "spiritual love associated with the Greek gods" but Christians transformed this pagan word to give it a distinctively Christ-like character; agape for the Christian is self-sacrificial love!  It is the love with which Christ loved us and the love He commanded us to share with others [John 13:34-35; 15:7-13; etc.].  Please read St. John's discourse on love in 1 John 4:7-5:4.   

 

Romans 5:5  "...because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us."  This line evokes the powerful visual image of life-giving water being poured out upon humanity as prophesized in Isaiah 44:3 [fulfilled at the second great Pentecost in the Upper Room in 30AD] and Jesus' cry in the Temple in Jerusalem on the Feast of Tabernacles in John 7:38-39:

 

But this visual image also looks forward to the eschatological event of the outpouring of the Spirit prophesied in Ezekiel 47:1-12 and the vision given to St. John in Revelation 22:1-5 a vision that will be given to St. John years after Paul's letter to Rome is written.

 

Question: What is the Holy Spirit's unique relationship to the New Covenant Church and to New Covenant believers?  See John 15:26; 16:5-15; Romans 8:8-11; 14-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:14

Answer: Paul's point is to remind the Romans that the pouring out of God the Holy Spirit was a manifestation which is distinctive to the New Covenant Church and not part of the Old.  He is the Spirit who dwells in the circumcised heart of the New Covenant believer from the moment of our baptism and makes the believer a true child of God.

 

Question: In Romans 5:6-8 Paul speaks of the proof of God's love.   What is that proof?

Answer: That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Paul identifies the condition of the unjustified person as one incapable of doing anything on his own to achieve righteousness in the sight of God apart from Jesus Christ. 

Question: But God in His infinite love does for us what we could not do for ourselves.  What action does God take to bring about man's salvation?  See 1 John 2:1-2; 3:16a

Answer: The Son's death is the mode in which God's love has been manifested:

 

Romans 5:9: How much more can we be sure, therefore, that, now that we have been justified by his death, we shall be saved through him from the retribution of God. 

Paul returns to the theme of retribution that he first raised in Romans 1:18: "The retribution of God from heaven is being revealed against the ungodliness and injustice of human beings who in their injustice hold back the truth."

Question: In Romans 4:25 to what was justification ascribed?

Answer: In 4:25 our justification was ascribed to Christ's Resurrection but it is now attributed to the shedding of His precious blood and to His death.  Paul does not separate the saving work of Jesus into categories: His Passion, death, and Resurrection are all one saving act applied to the salvation of mankind.  It is this saving act that will save us from God's retribution/wrath.

Question: In Romans 5: 9 Paul speaks of another salvation beyond justification by Jesus' death.  To what "salvation" does Paul refer?

Answer: In addition to our initial justification through Jesus' Passion, death, and Resurrection applied to our baptism into the family of God a great favor or grace of justification will be manifested to the believer in the eschatological salvation that is to come in the Final Judgment.  Once again we have evidence that justification is not only a state but an on-going process'just as salvation is an on-going process to be consummated at the end of time as we know it when we will face "the retribution of God" in the Final Judgment'an event the faithful Christian need not fear, as Paul assures us in the next verse.

 

Romans 5:10 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more can we be sure that, being now reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 

Question: When were we enemies of God? See Romans 5:8; 8:7; and Genesis 3:15.

Answer: As a sinner man is not just "weak" or "godless" but has made himself a "seed of the serpent".  Yahweh to the serpent in Genesis 3:15: "I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel."  Those in sin become an enemy of God. 

Question: What brings about the reconciliation of sinners?

Answer: The death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only means by which sinners are reconciled with God [Acts 4:12].  This is another way of repeating what Paul stated in Romans 5:1 when he wrote that Christians were "at peace" with God because reconciliation restores fellowship and intimacy with God and ends the alienation of sin and rebellion.

Question: How are we saved by the Resurrected life of God the Son?

Answer: Another effect of justification is a share in the risen life of God the Son.  Although justification and reconciliation through the forgiveness of original sin happened when we came into the family of God through our Baptism and will continue as we are in communion with Him through the Sacraments, salvation in its fullest sense is still to be achieved in its future dimension.  But as we journey toward salvation we anticipate that gift of salvation by knowing it is rooted in sharing the life of the glorified Christ as His life is continually communicated to us in the Sacraments of our faith, as we continue on our journey to reach the goal of eternal life.

 

Romans 5:11:  "What is more, we are filled with exultant trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation."

This passage can also be translated "we boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

The New American translation also used the word "boast" in 5:2 and 3: "through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.  3Not only that but we even boast of our afflictions..."

Question:  Paul has used this expression of exuberance or "boasting" kauchaomai [kow-khah'-om-ahee] three times in Romans 5:2, 3, and 11, and has used the same word a total of 5 times if you count from Romans 2:17and 2:23. In previous passages in the letter "boasting" has been used in the negative; what is the difference now in chapter 5?

Answer: In the other passages "boasting" concerned our own initiative but in this context it is of God that we "boast".  The effect of the Christian's justification in faith which is a gift from God is that the Christian can boast of God Himself in whom, through His love, salvation is now guaranteed in contrast to the covenant believer's condition before the atoning work of Christ where one stood in bondage to sin and in fear of God's retribution.  But now, having experienced God's infinite love in what Jesus the Messiah accomplished for humanity through His sacrificial death and Resurrection, one can boast of God's great love for us! As St. John writes, "Love comes to its perfection in us when we can face the Day of Judgment fearlessly, because even in this world we have become as he is.  In love there is no room for fear, but perfect love drives our fear, because fear implies punishment and whoever is afraid has not come to perfection in love.  Let us love, then, because he first loved us. " 1 John 4:17-19 [also see 1 Corinthians 1:31; Jeremiah 9:22-23].

 

Please read Romans 5:12-21, Jesus Christ the Second Adam:

12 "Well then; it was through one man that sin came into the world, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned. 13   Sin already existed in the world before there was any law, even though sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14   Nonetheless death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sin was not the breaking of a commandment, as Adam's was.  He prefigured the One who was to come.  15 There is no comparison between the free gift and the offence.  If death came to many through the offence of one man, how much greater an effect the grace of God has had, coming to so many and so plentifully as a free gift through the one man Jesus Christ! 16 Again, there is no comparison between the gift and the offence of one man.  One single offence brought condemnation, but now, after many offences, have come the free gift and so acquittal!  17 It was by one man's offence that death came to reign over all, but how much greater the reign in life of those who receive the fullness of grace and the gift of saving justice, through the one man, Jesus Christ.  18 One man's offence brought condemnation on all humanity; and one man's good act has brought justification and life to all humanity.  19 Just as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience are many to be made upright.  20 When law came on the scene, it was to multiply the offences.  21 But however much sin increased, grace was always greater; so that as sin's reign brought death, so grace was to rule through saving justice that leads to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

 

Romans 5:12 "Well then; it was through one man that sin came into the world, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned."

Paul's "well then" or "therefore" is a summing up of what he has discussed in chapters 1-5:11.  In Romans 5:12-21 Paul addresses the origin of sin and death. 

Question: How is it that Adam's sin had such an effect on all mankind?

Answer: Adam is our human father and we have inherited from him "spiritual death" as a result of his sin just as we inherit our other genes and traits of human inheritance.  Through our first parents we are born physically alive but spiritual dead and it is our spiritual death that infects us with sin and the life-long struggle to resist Satan and the temptation to sin.

Question: Why did Satan set out to destroy mankind? Hint: see Wisdom 1:13-15 and 2:24.   

Answer: Wisdom 2:24, "Death came into the world only through the Devil's envy, as those who belong to him find to their cost." It was this same envy or jealousy that lead to the death of Abel and it was this sin that Satan used to bring those under his power [the "seed of Satan"] to condemn Jesus to death: "For Pilate knew it was out of jealousy that they handed him over." Matthew 27:18 [also see Mark 15:10; 1 John 3:11-12; Hebrews 11:4].

 

The inspired writer of Wisdom in interpreting the Fall of man in Genesis chapter 3 writes that the death introduced by the devil is spiritual death, with physical death as its consequence: Wisdom 1:13-15, "For God did not make Death, he takes no pleasure in destroying the living.  To exist'for this he created all things; the creatures of the world have health in them, in them is no fatal poison, and Hades has no power over the world: for uprightness is immortal." As a result of Adam and Eve's sin in usurping God's power and authority in their desire to judge good and evil for themselves [Genesis 3:5], they "died" to sin and sin came to "live" in humanity with the consequence that spiritual and physical death became the "reward" of sin. 

 

Question: What do we call the first sin that entered the world and the lasting effect it had on humanity?  What is the consequence of this first sin that causes us to be inclined to be tempted to commit sin?

Answer:  That sin first entered the world through the Fall of our first parents is the doctrine of original sin.  The temptation to sin which is a result of original sin is called concupiscence.  In turning to the doctrine of original sin St. Paul is drawing a contrast between the temptation and Fall, or the "work" of the first Adam with the One he prefigured, Jesus of Nazareth the "second Adam" and His "work" of redemption in He becomes the Savior of all the children of Adam who now have the opportunity to be freed of the inheritance of sin to be reborn as children of God.  It is because of the stain of original sin that mankind needs a redeemer.

 

Romans 5:13- 14  13" Sin already existed in the world before there was any law, even though sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14 Nonetheless death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sin was not the breaking of a commandment , as Adam's was,  He prefigured the One who was to come."

Returning to his theme in Romans 2:12, Paul insists that the presence or absence of the Law does not make a fundamental difference since sin and its by product "death" comes to everyone through the legacy of sin that we inherited from our original parents' whether we are Gentiles who live outside the Law of Moses or Jews who live with the Law, and it is for this reason that Paul writes,"Nonetheless death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sin was not the breaking of a commandment, as Adam's was.  He prefigured the One who was to come."

Question: How did Adam prefigure Jesus of Nazareth? See 1 Corinthians 15:45-49.

Answer:  

The New Testament portrays Jesus as the "Second Adam" whose obedience and sacrificial death on the cross undo Adam's disobedience. Jesus, the Second Adam, triumphed over the same temptations to which the first Adam fell into sin.  St. John identified these temptations as the lusts of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life in 1 John 2:16 [see CCC# 411 & 504 and the Salvation History Bible Study Lesson #25].

 

TEMPTATION: The first and second Adams contrasted:

1 John 2:16

Genesis 3:6

Luke 4:1-13

"If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father finds no place in him..."

The First Adam: "Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees...?"

Second Adam = Jesus

of Nazareth: "Then the devil said to Him...

the lust of the flesh:

"disordered bodily desires"

"The woman saw the tree was good to eat.."

"tell this stone to turn into a loaf"

the lust of the eyes:

"disordered desires of the eyes"

"..and pleasing to the eye,

and..."

"the devil...showed Him all the kingdoms of the world"

the pride of life:

"pride in possession"

"that it was enticing for the wisdom that it could give."

"If you are the Son ...throw Yourself down from here"

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2006 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

 

Romans 5:15-19:  15 There is no comparison between the free gift and the offence.  If death came to many through the offence of one man, how much greater an effect the grace of God has had, coming to so many and so plentifully as a free gift through the one man Jesus Christ!  16 Again, there is no comparison between the gift and the offence of one man.  One single offence brought condemnation, but now, after many offences, have come the free gift and so acquittal!  17 It was by one man's offence that death came to reign over all, but how much greater the reign in life of those who receive the fullness of grace and the gift of saving justice, through the one man, Jesus Christ.  18 One man's offence brought condemnation on all humanity; and one man's good act has brought justification and life to all humanity.  19 Just as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience are many to be made upright.

 

Question: In 5:15-19 how does Paul contrast Adam and Christ as "alike" but "unalike"?

Answer:

ADAM AND CHRIST ALIKE

ADAM AND CHRIST UNALIKE

Both Adam and Christ had an effect upon the whole human race

Sin and death came from Adam while righteousness and life came from Christ

Both endured the temptation of Satan

Adam failed and Christ was victorious

Through both Adam and Christ humanity receives an "inheritance".

Through Adam's failure humanity inherits death, original sin and personal sin becomes a plague on mankind. Through Christ's victory humanity inherits adoption into God family and the promise of eternal life.

Both were human men

Jesus was both human and divine

Both the acts of Adam and Jesus invoke a divine verdict

Satan stood behind the act of Adam while the grace of God stood behind Christ; the verdict behind Adam's act is judgment while the verdict behind Jesus' is acquittal

Both Adam and Jesus exercised their free will

Adam willingly fell from grace and Jesus willingly laid down His life in sacrifice for all mankind

Both were born into the world as sinless and immortal beings

Adam lost his immortality when he fell from grace while Jesus remained pure and sinless and through His sacrifice and Resurrection has made God's gift of immortality once again available to man

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2006 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

 

Romans 5:20-21: 20  When law came on the scene, it was to multiply the offences.  21 But however much sin increased, grace was always greater; so that as sin's reign brought death, so grace was to rule through saving justice that leads to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Again Paul returns to his theme that the Law is only capable of identifying sin and bringing judgment for offenses against the Law with no hope of redemption or salvation. 

Question: Why does Paul continue to hammer home this thesis?

Answer: Perhaps it is because Paul fears that Jewish Christian's blind adherence to the Law of Moses and their unwillingness to accept what has been transformed and fulfilled in the New Covenant is the greatest impediment to unity between Jewish and Gentile Christians.   However, in the past age even when "sin increased" in the nation of Israel and later in the divided Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, God's grace was greater because He used Israel to bring forth the Messiah and through the Jewish Messiah the means of salvation for all humanity.  This is the "triumph of grace" over sin and another contrast between Adam and Christ'for death "reigned" in Adam but grace "reigns" in Christ through His sacrifice on the Cross which brings the saving justice that leads to eternal life!

 

In this portion of Paul's letter to the faith community in Rome he has focused on the Cross as the pivot point in the history of man.  The Cross is central to Paul's teaching.  He assures us that it is through the crucified Jesus Christ that the love of God the Father is revealed'a revelation of the Father in the person of God the Son: "It is God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' that has shone into our hearts to enlighten them with the knowledge of God's glory, the glory on the face of Christ" [2 Corinthians 4:6 quoting Genesis 1:3].  St. Paul sees the revelation of Jesus Christ as the final stage of history'the final age of man as taught by St. Peter in his first great homily in Acts 2:14-41.  At the beginning of that homily St. Peter quotes the Old Testament Prophet Joel in Joel 3:1, "In the last days'the Lord declares'I shall pour out my Spirit on all humanity" [Acts 2:17].  Peter identifies this event as having been fulfilled in the pouring out of God's Spirit upon those assembled in the Upper Room just prior to Peter's address to the crowds.  Paul affirms this teaching in Romans 5: 5, "the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us,"  and in 1 Corinthians 10:11, speaking of the events recorded in the Old Testament that pointed to the giving of God's Spirit and coming of the Final Age Paul writes, "Now all these things happened to them by way of example, and they were described in writing to be a lesson for us, to whom it has fallen to live in the last days of the ages." Paul, in his letter to the Romans and in his other letters, assures the faithful that this divine eschatological event has already occurred in history, set in motion by the hand of God in the Incarnation of His Son.  He writes in Galatians 4:3-5, "So too with us, as long as we were still under age, we were enslaved to the elemental principles of this world; but when the completion of the time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law, so that we would receive adoptions as sons." The time Paul wrote of is the Incarnation, death and Resurrection of Christ, and when the time of the great harvest of souls is completed this Last Age of man will come to the "end", "After that will come the end when he will hand over the kingdom to God the Father, having abolished every principality, every ruling force and power" [1Corinthians 15:24].  It is this event for which we all await'the return of the King to collect His Bride [Revelation chapters 19-22], and the voyage of the Church of Jesus Christ into the glorious life of the Most Holy Trinity and the endless sea of eternity!

 

Question for group discussion:

Question: What are the consequences of sin? See CCC# 705; 817; 953; 1008; 1472

Question: What is the difference between venial and mortal sin?  See CCC# 1472; 1854-59; 1860-63; 1 John 5:16-17.

Question: What is concupiscence and what are the consequences of concupiscence?  See CCC # 55-58; 399-400; 402-09

Question: Does our personal sin link us to Christ's suffering?  See CCC# 598

 

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2006 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

 

Catechism References for Romans chapter 5 [* indicates Scripture quoted in citation]

5:3-5

2734*, 2847

5:18

402

5:5

368*, 733, 1820, 1964, 2658

5:19-20

411*

5:8

604

5:19-21

1009*

5:10

603, 1825

5:19

397*, 402, 532*, 615, 623*

5:12-21

388*

5:20-21

1848

5:12

400, 402, 602*, 612*, 1008

5:20

312*, 385*, 412, 420

5:18-19

605*

 

 

 

Resources:

The Teachings of the Church Fathers, Ignatius Press

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic Canons and Decrees: The Council of Trent; Vatican Council I; etc.

The Sixteen Documents of Vatican II

The Salvation Controversy

Romans, Joseph Fitzmyer

Romans, Brendan Byrne

Navarre Commentary'Romans

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture'Romans

Strong's Concordance 

Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians"

Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2008 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.