Romans 5 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Romans 5)

Verse 1

[1] Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Being justified by faith — This is the sum of the preceding chapters.

We have peace with God — Being enemies to God no longer, Romans 5:9. We have peace, hope, love, and power over sin, the sum of the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth chapters. These are the fruits of justifying faith: where these are not, that faith is not.

Verse 2

[2] By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Into this grace — This state of favour.

Verse 3

[3] And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

We glory in tribulations also — Which we are so far from esteeming a mark of God's displeasure, that we receive them as tokens of his fatherly love, whereby we are prepared for a more exalted happiness. The Jews objected to the persecuted state of the Christians as inconsistent with the people of the Messiah. It is therefore with great propriety that the apostle so often mentions the blessings arising from this very thing.

Verse 4

[4] And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

And patience works more experience of the sincerity of our grace, and of God's power and faithfulness.

Verse 5

[5] And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Hope shameth us not — That is, gives us the highest glorying. We glory in this our hope, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts - The divine conviction of God's love to us, and that love to God which is both the earnest and the beginning of heaven.

By the Holy Ghost — The efficient cause of all these present blessings, and the earnest of those to come.

Verse 6

[6] For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

How can we now doubt of God's love? For when we were without strength - Either to think, will, or do anything good.

In due time — Neither too soon nor too late; but in that very point of time which the wisdom of God knew to be more proper than any other.

Christ died for the ungodly — Not only to set them a pattern, or to procure them power to follow it. It does not appear that this expression, of dying for any one, has any other signification than that of rescuing the life of another by laying down our own.

Verse 7

[7] For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

A just man — One who gives to all what is strictly their due The good man - One who is eminently holy; full of love, of compassion, kindness, mildness, of every heavenly and amiable temper.

Perhaps-one-would-even-dare to die — Every word increases the strangeness of the thing, and declares even this to be something great and unusual.

Verse 8

[8] But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

But God recommendeth — A most elegant expression. Those are wont to be recommended to us, who were before either unknown to, or alienated from, us.

While we were sinners — So far from being good, that we were not even just.

Verse 9

[9] Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

By his blood — By his bloodshedding.

We shall be saved from wrath through him — That is, from all the effects of the wrath of God. But is there then wrath in God? Is not wrath a human passion? And how can this human passion be in God? We may answer this by another question: Is not love a human passion? And how can this human passion be in God? But to answer directly: wrath in man, and so love in man, is a human passion. But wrath in God is not a human passion; nor is love, as it is in God. Therefore the inspired writers ascribe both the one and the other to God only in an analogical sense.

Verse 10

[10] For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

If — As sure as; so the word frequently signifies; particularly in this and the eighth chapter.

We shalt be saved — Sanctified and glorified.

Through his life — Who "ever liveth to make intercession for us."

Verse 11

[11] And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

And not only so, but we also glory — The whole sentence, from the third to the eleventh verse, may be taken together thus: We not only "rejoice in hope of the glory of God," but also in the midst of tribulations we glory in God himself through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Verse 12

[12] Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Therefore — This refers to all the preceding discourse; from which the apostle infers what follows. He does not therefore properly make a digression, but returns to speak again of sin and of righteousness.

As by one man — Adam; who is mentioned, and not Eve, as being the representative of mankind.

Sin entered into the world — Actual sin, and its consequence, a sinful nature.

And death — With all its attendants. It entered into the world when it entered into being; for till then it did not exist.

By sin — Therefore it could not enter before sin.

Even so — Namely, by one man.

In that — So the word is used also, 2 Corinthians 5:4.

All sinned — In Adam. These words assign the reason why death came upon all men; infants themselves not excepted, in that all sinned.

Verse 13

[13] (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

For until the law sin was in the world-All, I say, had sinned, for sin was in the world long before the written law; but, I grant, sin is not so much imputed, nor so severely punished by God, where there is no express law to convince men of it. Yet that all had sinned, even then, appears in that all died.

Verse 14

[14] Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Death reigned — And how vast is his kingdom! Scarce can we find any king who has as many subjects, as are the kings whom he hath conquered.

Even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression — Even over infants who had never sinned, as Adam did, in their own persons; and over others who had not, like him, sinned against an express law.

Who is the figure of him that was to come — Each of them being a public person, and a federal head of mankind. The one, the fountain of sin and death to mankind by his offence; the other, of righteousness and life by his free gift. Thus far the apostle shows the agreement between the first and second Adam: afterward he shows the differences between them. The agreement may be summed up thus: As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so by one man righteousness entered into the world, and life by righteousness. As death passed upon all men, in that all had sinned; so life passed upon all men, (who are in the second Adam by faith,) in that all are justified. And as death through the sin of the first Adam reigned even over them who had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression; so through the righteousness of Christ, even those who have not obeyed, after the likeness of his obedience, shall reign in life. We may add, As the sin of Adam, without the sins which we afterwards committed, brought us death ; so the righteousness of Christ, without the good works which we afterwards perform, brings us life: although still every good, as well as evil, work, will receive its due reward.

Verse 15

[15] But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Yet not — St. Paul now describes the difference between Adam and Christ; and that much more directly and expressly than the agreement between them. Now the fall and the free gift differ, 1. In amplitude, Romans 5:19.

Verse 16

[16] And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

The sentence was by one offence to Adam's condemnation — Occasioning the sentence of death to pass upon him, which, by consequence, overwhelmed his posterity.

But the free gift is of many offences unto justification — Unto the purchasing it for all men, notwithstanding many offences.

Verse 17

[17] For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

There is a difference between grace and the gift. Grace is opposed to the offence; the gift, to death, being the gift of life.

Verse 18

[18] Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Justification of life — Is that sentence of God, by which a sinner under sentence of death is adjudged to life.

Verse 19

[19] For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

As by the disobedience of one man many (that is, all men) were constituted sinners - Being then in the loins of their first parent, the common head and representative of them all.

So by the obedience of one — By his obedience unto death; by his dying for us.

Many — All that believe.

Shall be constituted righteous — Justified, pardoned.

Verse 20

[20] Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

The law came in between — The offence and the free gift.

That the offence might abound — That is, the consequence (not the design) of the law's coming in was, not the taking away of sin, but the increase of it.

Yet where sin abounded, grace did much more abound — Not only in the remission of that sin which Adam brought on us, but of all our own; not only in remission of sins, but infusion of holiness; not only in deliverance from death, but admission to everlasting life, a far more noble and excellent life than that which we lost by Adam's fall.

Verse 21

[21] That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

That as sin had reigned-so grace also might reign — Which could not reign before the fall; before man had sinned.

Through righteousness to eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord — Here is pointed out the source of all our blessings, the rich and free grace of God. The meritorious cause; not any works of righteousness of man, but the alone merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. The effect or end of all; not only pardon, but life; divine life, leading to glory.