Romans Bible Guide – Day Fourteen
February 28, 2016
Previously, in Romans: Paul has turned his focus toward the tremendous benefits all people can experience when they trust the game-changing significance of the death and life of Jesus.
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14 Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of the 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 the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. 19 For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Points of Interest:
- ‘just as sin came into the world through one man’ – Paul’s been reaching further and further back for Bible figures that illuminate the life and work of Jesus. Now Paul goes all the way back to Adam, understanding him to be a kind of anti-Jesus figure, the comically drawn opposite who created conditions that Jesus has begun to reverse.
- ‘death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses’ – The most significant of these conditions is death. In the Adam and Eve origin story, people begin to die when they choose to try to be like God, rather than receiving life from relationship with God. We talked on Tuesday about the way our own sin can dominate us. Paul draws a pretty tight link between this sin and the literal and metaphorical death we taste as a result.
- ‘the free gift is not like the trespass’ – Paul begins an extended comparison of the impact that Adam and Jesus have on humanity. Sin unleashes a hell of death and condemnation, while the gift of Jesus restores standing, connection with God, and life.
- ‘so by the one man’s obedience…’ – It is interesting that the primary contrast Paul draws between Adam and Jesus isn’t humanity and divinity, but disobedience and obedience. By saying yes to God’s way for his life, Jesus becomes a kind of new first human for us all, Humanity 2.0. He also restores humans to our intended position of justification and life.
- ‘law – trespass – sin – grace – eternal life’ – In the causal chain of the final two verses, Paul is polemically shifting a common Jewish understanding of how God will rescue people from Adam’s sin. A contemporary of Paul’s might understand God’s delivery of the Law to Moses as the way out. People developed the habit of rejecting God’s guidance, so God gave people really clear guidance through Moses. And in the keeping of that Law, by this logic, people would find their way back to God.Paul, though, swept by Moses as just part of the history of death and sin, and says that the primary fruit of this law was to highlight all that is wrong with humanity. But in our flourishing of sin – all the many ways we can misfire in our action and thinking and taste death instead of life – we have provided the territory to experience the grace and love of God from Jesus that leads to unending life.
Taking It Home:
For you – Thank Jesus today for living the life that all humans were meant to live but before him, never had. If you are still experiencing any of the death that comes from sin – negative consequences, for instance, of your own or others’ wrong-doing – ask Jesus to give you a taste of life in that very space.
For your 6 – God desires grace to have dominion in the lives of your friends as well. Pray that each time they are aware of any of their mistakes or faults or short-comings, that they would come to know the love and acceptance of God there as well.