Romans 5:21 MEANING

Romans 5:21
(21) Unto death.--Rather, in death; death being, as it were, the domain in which its sovereignty was exercised.

In this last section we seem still to trace the influence of the school of Gamaliel. It appears that the Jewish doctors also attributed universal mortality to the fall of Adam, and regarded his sin as including that of the rest of mankind. (On the whole section, see Excursus F: On St. Paul's View of the Religious History of Mankind.)

5:20,21 By Christ and his righteousness, we have more and greater privileges than we lost by the offence of Adam. The moral law showed that many thoughts, tempers, words, and actions, were sinful, thus transgressions were multiplied. Not making sin to abound the more, but discovering the sinfulness of it, even as the letting in a clearer light into a room, discovers the dust and filth which were there before, but were not seen. The sin of Adam, and the effect of corruption in us, are the abounding of that offence which appeared on the entrance of the law. And the terrors of the law make gospel comforts the more sweet. Thus God the Holy Spirit has, by the blessed apostle, delivered to us a most important truth, full of consolation, suited to our need as sinners. Whatever one may have above another, every man is a sinner against God, stands condemned by the law, and needs pardon. A righteousness that is to justify cannot be made up of a mixture of sin and holiness. There can be no title to an eternal reward without a pure and spotless righteousness: let us look for it, even to the righteousness of Christ.That as sin hath reigned unto death,.... This is another end of the law's entrance, or rather an illustration of the grace of God, by comparing the reigns of sin and grace together: sin has such a power over man in a state of nature, as amounts to a dominion; it has not only an enticing, ensnaring power, to draw into a compliance with it, and an obstructive power to hinder that which is good, and an operative one of that which is evil, and a captivating, enslaving one to the same; but it has a kingly, governing, and commanding power: its dominion is universal as to men, and with respect both to the members of the body, and faculties of the soul; it is supported by laws, which are its lusts; and has its voluntary subjects, to whom it gives wages; its reign is very cruel and tyrannical; it is "unto death" corporeal, moral, or spiritual, and eternal. The ancient Jews often represent sin in the same light; they frequently speak (h) of , "the corruption of nature reigning" over men; and say (i): that he is "a king" over the several members of the body, which answer to him at the word of command. "The old and foolish king" in Ecclesiastes 4:13, is commonly interpreted by them of sin; which they say (k) is called "a king", because he rules in the world, over the children of men, and because all hearken to him: it is a petition much used by them (l),

"let not the evil imagination or corruption of nature "rule" over me:''

and on the other hand, they represent grace, or a principle of goodness, as a king, reigning over the corruption of nature; thus interpreting these words, "my son, fear thou the Lord and the king", they ask (m),

"who is the king? the king (say they) , is "the good imagination", or principle of goodness, who reigns over the evil imagination, which is called a king.''

And in another place (n) they say of a good man, that he , "caused the good imagination to reign" over the evil one; with which in some measure agrees what follows:

even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord; by grace is meant, either grace as it is in the heart of God; which reigns or bears sway in man's salvation in all the parts of it, "through righteousness"; consistent with the justice of God, in a way in which that is glorified, through the redemption of Christ: it reigns "unto eternal life"; grace has promised, prepared it, and makes meet for it, and will introduce into it, and freely give it: it reigns "by Jesus Christ"; grace reigns by him, righteousness, or justice, is glorified by him, and eternal life is in him, through him, and by him: or grace as it is in the hearts of converted persons, is meant where it reigns, has the dominion, is the governing principle, and that in a way of righteousness and true holiness; and will reign until it is perfected in glory, or is crowned with eternal life; all which are by Jesus Christ, namely, grace, righteousness, and life.

(h) T. Bab. Succa, fol. 52. 1. & Sanhedrin, fol. 91. 2.((i) Abot. R. Nathan, c. 16. fol. 5. 2. Targum in Eccl. ix. 14. Midrash Koheleth, fol. 80. 1.((k) Zohar in Gen. fol. 102. 1. Midrash Koheleth, fol. 70. 2. Caphtor, fol. 20. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 14. 4. Jarchi in Eccl. iv. 13. (l) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 60. 1. Shaare Zion, fol. 73. 1. Seder Tephiltot, fol. 3. 1. Ed. Basil. (m) Bemidbar Rabba, fol. 218. 1.((n) Midrash Koheleth, fol. 78. 3.

Courtesy of Open Bible