Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ROMANS - Chapter 5

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Romans 5

Supplemental Commentary:

1, 18 -- 11, 36 (continued)

3.  The Superabundance of This Justification  5, 1-21

Before going on to discuss the nature of Christian life, St. Paul pauses here to contemplate the extent of this gift of God.  The passage includes two considerations: (a) the hope that springs up in the justified soul (1-11); (b) the havoc and wretchedness from which justification rescues us.

5, 1-9a:  Christ's Death Assures Us Hope and Peace.    1.  Let us have peace: some manuscripts read "we have peace."  The sense is: let us enjoy the peace we have.  The peace is that resulting from the destruction of the enmity between God and sinful man (Col. 1, 21).    2.  Through Christ also we have hope of the glory, the final consummation of our state of grace.  It is called glory of the sons of God not only because prepared for us by God, but because it is a sharing in His own divine glory.  Of the sons is not in the Greek text.    3 f.  In this state of grace even the trials of life contribute to our hope, and thus become a cause of exultation.  Cf. Jas. 1, 3.    5.  Further, our hope is supported by the love of God poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit dwells in us, so that we have become His temples (1 Cor. 3, 16).    6-8.  The Greek text reads 6 as a declarative sentence.  The divine love evident in Christ's death for us sinners is further support to our hope.

5, 9b-11:  Christ's Death Assures Our Salvation.  This states more positively in the form of an a fortiori argument the completeness with which our hope rests on our Lord Jesus Christ.

5, 12-14:  In Adam All Have Sinned.    12.  Therefore is not to indicate this passage as a conclusion following upon 9-11.  It is rather a transitional particle.  The comparison begun with the word as is not completed.  It would be: so through one man justice entered the world, etc. (cf. 1 Cor. 15, 21 f).  The Greek text reads "the sin," i.e., the original sin, the cause of humanity's ills.  Entered into the world: i.e., into the consciences of men.  Death: the reference is to the penalty attached to eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2, 16 f; 3, 19).  All have sinned: the thought here is not of actual sin, but of the sin committed by Adam and transmitted to all his posterity.  This is explained in the following verses.  The doctrine of original sin, for which this is the classical scriptural evidence, has been defined by the Council of Trent.

13 f.  These verses form a parenthesis inserted to prove that all mankind has sinned in Adam.  Since death reigned, i.e., came upon all men, from Adam until Moses, i.e., prior to the positive law, it must have been due to their sharing in Adam's sin.  St. Paul supposes Adam the moral as well as the physical head of the human race.  Cf. notes to text.  A figure: how Adam is a type of Christ is explained in the passage following.

5, 15-19:  Grace and Life Superabound through Christ.    15Not like the offense, etc.: Adam is a type of Christ by a double contrast.  First contrast: his sin led to death, through Christ grace abounds.  The many: all humanity.  Much more: the redemption by Christ is more efficacious.  Grace of God: His infinite mercy and benevolence.  The gift: the work of Redemption.  Grace . . . of Jesus Christ: justification, sanctification, in their plentitude were in Christ, and from Him passed in varying degrees to mankind.

16.  Second contrast: in the case of Adam it was one sin that led to a universal condemnation; in the case of Christ the redemption was from countless sins.    17.  Grace: divine benevolence, the source of the gift.  Gift of justice: all that is implied in our redemption by Christ.  The reign of death is spoken of in the past, death reigned, because its dominion was broken by the death and resurrection of Christ.  The reign of the faithful in life is still in the future, because the life of grace here will be perfected only in heaven.    18.  Justice here means a just act, an act of obedience.  To all men: St. Augustine explains: "Not that all men attain to the grace of Christ's justification, but that all who are reborn unto justification, are reborn only through Christ."  The grace of Christ is sufficient for all men, it is efficient only to the faithful (St. Thomas).    19.  Constituted: in neither case is this a mere extrinsic imputation; the term does not allow that sense.

5, 20-21:  Purpose of the Law.  That the offense might abound: St. John Chrysostom: "After the Law had been given and became known, many sins followed because of the innate malice of men and the stirring up of concupiscence."  If interpreted as a purpose, this can be explained as a means of humiliating man by making him conscious of his weakness and of the need of Christ (St. Augustine).

Confraternity Bible:

Christ's Death Assures Us Hope and Peace  1 Having been justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we also have access by faith unto that grace in which we stand, and exult in the hope of the glory of the sons of God.  3 And not only this, but we exult in tribulation also,  knowing that tribulation works out endurance, 4 and endurance tried virtue, and tried virtue hope.  5 And hope does not disappoint, because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  6 For why did Christ, at the set time, die for the wicked when as yet we were weak?  7 For scarcely in behalf of a just man does one die; yet perhaps one might bring himself to die for a good man.  8 But God commends his charity towards us, because when as yet we were sinners, 9 Christ died for us.

Christ's Death Assures Our Salvation  Much more now that we are justified by his blood, shall we be saved through him from the wrath.  10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.  11 And not this only, but we exult also in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

In Adam All Have Sinned  12* Therefore as through one man sin entered into the world and through sin death, and thus death has passed unto all men because all have sinned--- 13* for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law; 14 yet death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin after the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a figure of him who was to come.

Grace and Life Superabound through Christ  15 But not like the offense is the gift.  For if by the offense of the one the many died, much more has the grace of God, and the gift in the grace of the one man Jesus Christ, abounded unto the many.  16 Nor is the gift as it was in the case of one man's sin, for the judgment was from one man unto condemnation, but grace is from many offenses unto justification.  17 For if by reason of the one man's offense death reigned through the one man, much more will they who receive the abundance of the grace and of the gift of justice reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.  18 Therefore as from the offense of the one man the result was unto condemnation to all men, so from the justice of the one the result is unto justification of life to all men.  19 For just as by the disobedience of the one man the many were constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the one the many will be constituted just.

Purpose of the Law  20 Now the Law intervened that the offense might abound.  But where the offense has abounded, grace has abounded yet more; 21 so that as sin has reigned unto death, so also grace may reign by justice unto life everlasting through Jesus Christ our Lord.


12: Through one man: Adam, the moral head of the human race.  The sin of which St. Paul speaks is original sin.  All have sinned: general statements such as this are to be understood with their obvious exceptions, and also with exceptions that can be established from other sources of revealed truth.  Thus, obviously, Jesus Christ is an exception to this general statement.  The Church, the official interpreter of the Scriptures, teaches us also that in view of the future sufferings of Christ, His Blessed Mother was preserved from original sin.

13: Sin is not imputed when there is no law: there was sin against the law of nature during the period between Adam and Moses, but the sins committed before the Law were not imputed as a cause of death, when the condition was not expressed.  Yet all, even infants, underwent death.  It must be then because all mankind shared some way in the sin of Adam.