I have been reading through St. Paul’s letter to the Romans the last few days. While he has some other letters which cover a lot of theological territory, I feel safe in saying that this epistle is special- it has a little something for everyone and everything. Whatever your theological pursuit, you can find an answer here. Part of it, I think, is because it is written more as a primer on Christian faith than as a response to specific questions or problems in the Church in Rome. A few passages have stood out to me so far, but I want to dedicate today’s post to Chapter 5.
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing 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 disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
As I mentioned in my previous post, hope is a difficult thing for me. Yet Saint Paul lays it out clearly here why we should have hope, no matter what. God has already fulfilled a promise by the Gift of the Spirit. And he has promised yet more still, and we know his promises are sure.
6 While we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man—though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. 8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.
This passage always brings a tear to my eye. It is one thing to say that God loves us. But it is another thing to actually know God loves us. But we do know- because of what he has sacrificed on our behalf, despite our utter unworthiness. There is no room to ever say that God doesn’t care for us- He does, more than we can ever express.
12 Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned 13 sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
Even the righteous figures of the Old Testament were still trapped by death. With the exceptions of Elijah and Enoch, they were waiting the savior to free them from the prison of Sheol.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
18 Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We see here the contrast between the “first” Adam and the “second” Adam. Both of them, by their actions, made significant impacts on humanity and our fate. This should comfort us greatly. After all, it is obvious to anyone who looks that the magnitude of Adam’s effect on the world was terribly great. So Saint Paul reminds us that the effect of Jesus, by his redemptive sacrifice, is just as great, if not greater. For good is greater than evil, and so the effects of grace and righteousness must dwarf those of sin.