Now that we have seen that 1) everyone, no matter what he knows, is guilty, and that 2) the justification purchased by Jesus’ death is available to everyone, not just Jews, we are ready for the next great mountaintop. Paul gives us four ways that Jesus life affects us, now that His death cleared the obstructions. Then Paul gives a 6 fold contrast between the results of Adam’s sin and the results of Jesus’ obedience. This seems to complete the progression: Moses’ law, Abraham’s trust, and Adam’s sin.
Paul starts out triumphantly, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (v1) Think of the law. It is a minimal standard. In America, if you see someone drowning, you are under no obligation to try to save him. Your only obligation is to not attempt to kill him. The law is like that, Once the requirements of the law are satisfied, it does nothing more. You can be set free from jail, but with no money and no housing. You can be free but miserable. This is like being justified, but nothing more. Instead, we learn that the first thing God adds to justification is peace with God. No more hiding from God. No more fear of Him. We can see Him and feel joy. God doesn’t stop there.
He writes that God’s next gift is, “we exult in hope of the glory of God.” (v2) One day, we will see the glory of God! Oh what a great hope that is. God dwells in unapproachable light. We will be changed so we can endure and even enjoy His presence. We who, because of our sins, deserve to be destroyed by His glory will be made whole so it will be home. We get so excited that we leap a lot because we can’t contain our emotions. (Greek word for exult means “leap a lot”). We have seen two bonuses, peace and the expectation of God’s glory, but the next advantage needs careful explaining, and is something many Christians never get.
The third benefit is, “we also exult in our tribulations.” (v3) What? Where did that come from? Think of people in boats on a river, floating downstream, but headed for a deadly waterfall. People scream at them to turn around. When some hear and turn around, they find themselves struggle against the power of the river. When you were alienated from God, you didn’t sense the tribulation from fighting Satan because you are going his way, but the moment you turn toward God, you battle Satan’s power. You can also substitute either the world or the flesh for Satan. When one turns toward God, one has tribulation from the world and from the flesh also. Why can we rejoice?
We can rejoice because God is teaching us to persevere. As we persevere, we grow stronger, our good character becomes durable. We see these victories, and we begin to hope and expect that we’ll continue to have more victories. (v4) The Holy Spirit who was given to us the moment we were justified empowers us for these victories, and as we stop needing to worry about ourselves, that love of God for others pours in. (v5) Even the sure hope that we will see these benefits in the future gives us rejoicing.
Then, after a reaffirmation of the benefit of the death of Jesus, Paul states that now that we have been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God. (v9) He rewords it and says that if, as enemies of God, we were reconciled to God by Jesus’ death, much more, we shall be saved by His life. It is one thing to be reconciled with someone on your deathbed. You get reconciled, but don’t enjoy the benefits. It is so much greater to be reconciled and then to have years of fellowship together. God says His reconciliation is so much more than for this life. Again, more great benefits beyond the minimal being set free from jail. We can truly leap with a fist pump at the thought of what God will do in our lives!
Now, Paul who compared to Moses and the law, and Abraham and faith, switches to Adam as a type of Christ. We would use the term anti-type today. Paul lists about five comparisons between Adam’s actions and Jesus’ actions. The differences in the five comparisons seem obtuse today, but they illustrate the benefits enumerated in the first half of the chapter.
The first comparison is between the sin of Adam and death, and the grace of God and the free gift. We need to keep something clear. God told Adam, “In the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Adam ate and lived at least another 30 years before he fathered Seth, and 800 years after that. This can’t be talking about physical death but spiritual. He died spiritually that day that he ate. Adam sinned and spiritual death entered the world and led to spiritual death for all. Through Jesus, though, the grace of God led to the free gift for the many. (v15)
In the next comparison, one transgression led to judgment resulting in condemnation while many transgressions led to the free gift resulting in justification. (v16) Thus Paul takes the next step. Not only does sin lead to judgment, but also condemnation. Not only does many transgressions lead God to give us a free gift, but the gift results in justification. Then Paul gives the third step. Condemnation leads to spiritual death reigning, but the gift of justification (or righteousness) results in life reigning. (v17)
Through this one rejection of God’s command, condemnation of all men came, even so, through one act of righteousness, there came justification of life to all men. (v18) He concludes with the fifth point, that the one sin of Adam led to all becoming sinners, but the one act of righteousness lead to many will be made righteous. (v19) Notice, that the justification of life came to all men, but not all will be made righteous. We must be clear, the free gift is offered to all, but not all will receive it.
Now he brings back the law that was given thousands of years after Adam. Remember we asked a question about the law? Is the law good or bad? We have another hint. The law came in so transgressions would increase, but where the sins increased, grace would abound. Say what? I get that Grace is stronger, by why state this? Paul knows that there are problems caused by God giving us peace with Him and assuring us of Heaven. He has lead us to all being guilty, that the life by faith is available to all, and that we are justified by faith. Jesus paid for the sins we committed in the past, the ones we are now committing, and all we will commit. With the law satisfied, one problem is, “are we free to do anything?” Paul is setting us up for the valley of the next two chapters, so we can see the wisdom of God in establishing the life by faith.