The Love of God
In Romans 5 Paul begins to reveal the Love of God. Romans 5:5 is the first time that Paul even mentions the word "Love" in this letter. Paul ties this Love to the divine plan and the work that Jesus will ultimately accomplish in us.
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
The first work of Christ, as revealed by the first goat of Lev. 16, has been "our introduction" to grace by faith. Such imputation of righteousness then gives us "peace with God." This is how Paul introduces to us the second basic concept of reconciliation.
Peace and Reconciliation
Peace and reconciliation are essentially synonymous terms in the divine Law. The peace offerings speak of reconciliation, even as the sin offerings speak of justification. Sinners need justification; enemies need reconciliation (to make peace). Thus far Paul has laid the foundations of justification by faith, but he has said little or nothing about reconciliation. Reconciliation is the foundation of Love and speaks of a relationship with Jesus Christ.
When the Law pronounces us "not guilty" by virtue of our faith in Christ's payment for our sin at the cross, the Law then has no further interest in prosecuting us for sin. The Law was made for sinners, not for the righteous (1 Tim. 1:9), and thus, when the Judge rules in our favor, the Law is satisfied and looks elsewhere to find sinners to prosecute.
Having been ruled "not guilty," the ruling has gone in our favor ("grace"), and we are then reconciled to God and at peace with Him and His Law. Not only God, but His Law also, becomes our friend, and we are free to learn of His ways and His character without the pressure and fear of a sinner being prosecuted daily. We can approach a holy God boldly (Heb. 4:16), even while we are yet imperfect. We can look at ourselves as immature children whose imperfections are "tolerated" while we are being trained in the ways of our loving Father.
This is the basis of the inner peace that we can enjoy here and now in this life. It is based fully upon the positional righteousness that has been imputed to us by faith. God looks upon us as His children, who, though yet immature, have the hope (expectation) of glory that is yet to come. That glory is the result of the second work of Christ by which we are given the infusion of righteousness necessary to be fully in the Image and Likeness of Christ.
Exulting in our Tribulations
Paul says in Romans 5:3-5,
3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
These "tribulations" are part of the wilderness experience as we walk from "Egypt" to the Promised Land. We left Egypt at our own Passover experience, and we will enter the Promised Land when our "hope" is fulfilled and we are glorified; but meanwhile, we are yet in the middle realm of Pentecost, the interim feast.
Even as God led Israel in the wilderness by His Spirit for forty years to test them and mature them, so also does He do with us in the New Covenant "church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). The difficulties of life give us the gift of perseverance, and perseverance proves our unshakeable character and spiritual strength. This, in turn, gives us an expectation of the glory of God, for the biblical word "hope" is much more than just wishful thinking. It is a confident expectation. It is confident faith that what God has promised, He is able to work out in us as co-heirs with Christ.
Verse 5 is the first time in this epistle that Paul speaks of the Love of God. It is given through the Holy Spirit, Paul says, "who was given to us."
When is the Holy Spirit Given to Us?
Some say that the Holy Spirit was given to us when we were justified (Passover), while others say that the Holy Spirit was given to us when we were filled with the Spirit (Pentecost). Each view is at least half right.
Under Moses, "the church in the wilderness" began to be led by the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud (the Holy Spirit) from the first day that they departed from Egypt on the day of Passover (Ex. 13:20-22). Yet there was a greater manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Mount Sinai when that day of Pentecost arrived. In this greater manifestation, the entire mountain was engulfed in the fire of God (Ex. 19:18).
We learn from this that the Holy Spirit is given to us first when we are justified by faith, and we begin to be led by the Spirit from that first day. Yet we must also progress from faith to faith into Pentecost, by which we learn to hear His voice and walk in the Spirit. Passover begins our journey to the Promised Land, while Pentecost prepares us for entry into the Promise through the feast of Tabernacles.
Pentecost does not make Passover obsolete, but builds upon that earlier faith. Neither does Tabernacles negate Pentecost, but is its goal.
The Wheat in Pentecost is Good
Here let me address a problem that I have often seen among Kingdom people. We understand that Pentecost is a leavened feast (Lev. 23:17), but we often over-focus upon the leaven and forget that it also has wheat—which is good food. Kingdom people who over-focus on the leaven can get the impression that Pentecost is evil and ought to be avoided. Or they despise Pentecost, thinking they are "beyond" it.
We ought to recognize that Pentecost represents the Holy Place in the Temple, the place of priesthood and intercession. One cannot get into the Most Holy Place without passing through the Holy Place. Let us not throw out the wheat on account of the leaven that is in it. Instead, let us be willing, as Pentecostals, to be baked in the fire of God to kill the leaven in the wheat.
Those who despise Pentecost in their attempt to live only in a Tabernacles anointing are deceiving themselves, for though we certainly have a VISION of Tabernacles, we are yet living in the tribulations of Pentecost, for we are yet being baked in a baptism of fire. Tabernacles is yet our HOPE, not our (full) experience. Though many of us have had a taste of Tabernacles, I know of no one who lives in that realm fully. Certainly, I am not there yet, and I do not think that I am any different from others in this.
Hence, I do not need to be ashamed of "tribulations" while on my wilderness journey in the Age of Pentecost. But, like Paul, I "exult" (Rom. 5:3) in these trials, knowing that God is still working to infuse His character in my heart and to prove His work by testing and experience. In fact, His tests give me hope, because I know that He has not ceased working in my life to bring me to maturity, whereby I may inherit all things with Christ.
The Love of God Defined
Paul's first reference to Love is found in Rom. 5:5. He then defines the Love of God in order to distinguish it from normal, human love.
6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The Emphatic Diaglott reads more literally, "we being yet sinners, Christ died on our behalf."
In other words, Paul's main point is to show that Christ did not die for righteous men, but for sinners. He died while we were yet sinners. The fact that Paul uses the continuous present tense, suggests a reference to his previous discussion of imputed righteousness. While it is true that Christ died for us while we WERE yet sinners, the fact is, that we are "yet sinners," though not in our standing before God. Our righteousness is not yet intrinsic, but is only imputed by a legal ruling in the divine court.
There are many who would die for a good man. Many Jews would die for Moses. Many Muslims would die for Mohammed. Many Christians would die for Jesus. This type of love is good, but the Love of God exceeds even this. Those who truly have the Love of God would die for their enemies!
How different is the love seen in the world. Many religions value the kind of love that is willing to "kill God's enemies." But true Christianity shatters all expectations. Instead of being willing to kill for Jesus, true Christians would give their own lives for their enemies. This is New Covenant thinking.
Justification and Reconciliation
9 Much more, then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Here Paul shows the relationship between justification and reconciliation. To be justified is to receive the favorable ruling from God, avoiding the judicial "wrath" of the Law. His blood paid for our sin and is the basis of our justification, for the Law cannot judge a man twice for the same crime.
On the other hand, "enemies" need reconciliation, because there is conflict between enemies. Enemies need peace, harmony, and agreement, whereas sinners are in need of justification. If there are adversaries disputing in a court of law, each claiming to be in the right, they are there only because they were unable to resolve their dispute out of court. As legal "enemies," they need reconciliation, but when this is not possible, they go to court, each hoping the judge will justify him.
In the case of sinners (who have violated the divine Law), the "enemies" are all those who have sinned. These are, in effect, God's enemies, because they disagree with God's righteous standard, and either they sue for the right to sin, or they defend themselves against God's suit by presenting their own portfolio of good deeds which, they may claim, outweigh their bad deeds.
Hence, men are both enemies and sinners, unless they know the proper defense in the divine court. If they point to the righteousness of Christ, instead of their own, and if they inform that court that the full penalty for their sin has been more than compensated by the payment Christ made on the cross—then they can receive justification. Yet it is repentance—a complete and total change of mind—that brings those sinners into agreement with God and His Law, providing reconciliation.
Many Christians have been justified by their faith but are yet not truly reconciled to God. I have talked to many Christians who yet disagree with God's Law and character. To the extent that we disagree with God, we are yet not fully reconciled to Him.
Conciliation and Reconciliation
But yet Paul says, "while we were yet enemies, we were reconciled to God" (5:10). How can we be reconciled without being in agreement with Him? The key is to understand the Greek word "reconciled." There are two forms of this word used in Paul's writings. Most translators do not recognize the difference. In 5:10 Paul uses the Greek term, katallaso, which means "to change, exchange." The word was used of an exchange of coins in a sale or equal exchange of property.
Thus, while we were yet enemies disagreeing with God, He made the exchange and paid our debt to the Law.
The other form of the word is apokatallaso, which Thayer's Lexicon defines as "to reconcile completely" or "to reconcile back again." This is a two-way reconciliation, where BOTH parties are reconciled to each other.
Katallaso is what Christ did for us while we were yet enemies. Apokatallaso is when we come into agreement with Him and are reconciled "back again." For this reason, the Concordant Version translates katallaso as "conciliation," and apokatallaso as "REconciliation." In Romans 5 Paul was speaking of what Jesus Christ did for us prior to any change in our attitude or behavior. It was a one-sided conciliation, where God took the initiative while we were still fighting Him.
When we respond to His conciliatory work, then a reconciliation takes place. When men conciliate God "back again," there is a reconciliation. This is Paul's appeal in 2 Cor. 5:19 and 20,
19 namely, that God was in Christ conciliating [katallaso] the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of conciliation [katallaso]. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be conciliated [katallaso] to God.
So Christ's death on the cross was a conciliation of the world. It was certainly not yet a reconciliation, because when He died, they still had disagreements. Their trespasses still made them "enemies" in need of reconciliation. And so we, as ambassadors of the Kingdom, have gone to other nations with "the word of conciliation." We carry the message on behalf of Christ: "be conciliated to God," so that the two disputing parties can be reconciled, thereby making peace.
The Concordant Version of Rom. 5:10, 11 reads this way:
10 For if, being enemies, we were conciliated to God through the death of His Son, much rather, being conciliated, we shall be saved in His life. 11 Yet not only so, but we are glorying also in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we now obtained the conciliation.
Conciliation is a demonstration of the Love of God. Most men are incapable of such divine love, for we would hardly die for a righteous man, let alone an enemy. But Christ has done this very thing. He has conciliated all of His enemies even while they are yet opposed to Him, some mildly and others violently.
Most Christians have not really understood the conciliation that Christ accomplished at the cross. Some have not understood its one-sided nature. Others have taken its one-sidedness and have negated any need for man to respond in like kind to accomplish a reconciliation. Both misunderstandings are unbalanced, each leading to its own error.
The Great Commission, as Paul saw it, was to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ with a message to God's enemies. That message (in 2 Cor. 5:19) is to tell sinners that God is "not counting their trespasses against them."
Our evangelistic message is NOT that God will burn them in hell for their sins, but rather a word of conciliation. God is "not counting their trespasses against them." In other words, He has already forgiven their trespasses at the Cross. Insofar as God is concerned, the war is over. He is no longer their enemy. Our job is not to threaten God's enemies with fire and brimstone, but to entreat them, saying, "be conciliated to God" (5:20).
It would surprise most Christians to learn that Paul speaks of hades ("hell") only once in all of his epistles. Even in that single example, Paul tells us of its conquest. He says in 1 Cor. 15:55, "O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?" Paul's evangelism was based upon his commission to speak the word of conciliation, not to threaten God's enemies with hades if they refused to hear the word.
Paul's discussion of the Love of God is tied firmly to the idea of His conciliation of all "enemies," and the work He did ahead of their agreement. This is Paul's introduction to one of the greatest and deepest concepts of all time, which he discusses in the last half of chapter five.
God's Love is extended even to His enemies. He does not wait for their response but dies for them while they are enemies. He does this, knowing that "Love never fails" (1 Cor. 13:8). He will win them all in the end, not by threats, but by His great Love. He will not lose any of His lost sheep. Most of these enemies will be reconciled through His judgments in the Age following the Great White Throne judgment. Because His judgments come out of a heart of Love, they are remedial and corrective, rather than destructive.
Men Sin Because they are Mortal
In Romans 5:12, Paul introduces a very important comparison between Adam and Christ, whom he calls (in 1 Cor. 15:45) "the last Adam."
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because [eph' ho, "on which"] all sinned—
Paul never finishes his sentence, but starts again in the next verse. We first learn that through one man (i.e., Adam) "sin entered into the world." That is Paul's beginning point, and as we will see shortly, he compares Adam to Jesus Christ, through whom righteousness and life enters the world to overcome the effects of Adam's sin.
Then Paul reveals a truth that few theologians understand today, and for this reason even the NASB has mistranslated the term eph' ho, giving it the exact opposite meaning that Paul intended. Paul wrote literally that death, or mortality, has come upon all men on which we sin. In other words, we sin because mortality has made us weak. Mortality, or death, is the cause of our own sin.
The NASB (and many other translations) turn this around to make us believe that we have mortality "because" we have sinned. The translators essentially disagree with Paul, or think that Paul made a mistake on account of Paul's statement in Romans 6:23, "the wages of sin is death," where sin is a cause of death.
The translators did not recognize that there are two kinds of death. Mortality is the first death, whereas the lake of fire is the second death. Rev. 20:14 says, "This is the second death, the lake of fire."
The first death is the judgment for Adam's sin.
The second death is the judgment for our own sin.
Paul was telling us in Romans 5:12 that Adam sinned, and we all became mortal as a result of his sin. In other words, we were all born mortal, even as babies. No man had to sin first in order to become mortal. The Emphatic Diaglott does not seem to know how to translate this phrase. In its word-for-word translation it reads, "and thus to all men the death passed through, in which all sinned." But in the second column, where the actual translation is given in English only, it reads: "so also death passed upon All Men." There he stops! Thus, Benjamin Wilson, the translator, appears to be baffled, so he ignores it completely!
The Jerome Biblical Commentary, sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church, discusses the problem more fully in its New Testament section, page 307. Its commentary on Romans is attributed to Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S. J. (Society of Jesus—that is, the Jesuit Order). He writes,
"The meaning of the phrase eph' ho is much disputed. . . On the grounds of which, an interpretation that understands 'death" as the antecedent . . . but this is hard to reconcile with Rom. 5:21; 6:23, where death is the result of sin, not its source.
"Moreover, this interpretation seems to make Paul say that death spread to all men on condition that they would sin after its entry. Does he mean this? . . . In view this diversity of opinion, the best meaning is still 'because, inasmuch as.' A difficulty often found with it is that it seems to make Paul say in 5:12c-d something contradictory to what he says in 12a-b. In the beginning of the verse sin and death are ascribed to Adam; now death seems to be due to man's deeds."
So Fitzmyer finds refuge in "this diversity of opinion" to agree with the incorrect majority. He claims that to take eph' ho literally would contradict Rom. 6:23, but he presents no solution to the apparent contradiction. He has no answer to the apparent contradiction, so he is forced to leave it intact instead of trying to reconcile the two passages.
The problem is actually that the translators did not understand the distinction between the two deaths. To those who understand Paul, it is clear that in Romans 5:12 he was writing about the effects of Adam's sin upon us, but in Romans 6:23 he was writing about the effects of our own sin.
Both Rotherham and Young defer to the King James Version, saying "for that" all sinned. This phrase carries the same meaning as "because" and is just as wrong, but "for that" is more obscure. It seems that they were hoping to muddy the water, hoping no one would see the issue clearly.
The Concordant Version is a literal translation that reads:
12 Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus death passed through into all mankind, on which all sinned—
The C.V.'s translators understood what Paul was teaching and how he was laying foundations for what he was about to write in the rest of the chapter.
Conversely, it seems clear that the other translators refused to translate eph' ho as "on which," because they knew the theological implications of this and refused to believe Paul's teaching. If they admitted what Paul was clearly saying, they would be forced to follow Paul's logic to its conclusion. So they felt it was better to deny the plain reading of Romans 5:12 in order to escape Paul's conclusions in the rest of the chapter.
This is one of the most egregious examples of deliberate mistranslation designed to make Paul agree with the incorrect views of the translators.
Paul's Illustration Clarifies His Teaching
In the next two verses Paul proves his point that the first death, brought to us by Adam's sin, is the cause of our own weakness and sin.
13 for until the Law, sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
From Adam to Moses the Law was in existence in the Mind of God, but it had not yet been legislated to man in a formal manner. When the Law was finally given to Moses, the Israelites took an oath of obedience, which obligated them legally to abide by its moral code. Paul uses this as a prophetic illustration to show the effects of Adam's sin prior to the giving of the Law.
Men were mortal during that time period, even though the law had not yet been given through Moses. But "sin is not imputed when there is no law," Paul says. So by what law did men die prior to Moses? How could the law judge men for their personal sins when it had not yet been revealed to them?
From Paul's perspective, men died on account of Adam's sin, NOT on account of their own sin. The logic of verses 13 and 14 tell us exactly what Paul meant in verse 12. The "dirty little secret" is that these translators did not want to attribute our mortality to Adam, probably because they thought it would be unjust of God to make us pay for sins that we had not personally committed ourselves. Yet Paul proves his point by citing all who died between Adam and Moses.
The translators did not understand that mortality came through Adam, not through each person's own sin. Hence, when Paul says later, "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23), he was not talking about the mortality we received from Adam, but the penalty for our own personal sins, which is the second death.
Not comprehending this distinction led to the mistranslations in nearly every modern Bible, as men try to explain how Paul could have made such a terrible "mistake" in Romans 5:12.
Adam and Christ
Paul tells us in Rom. 5:14 that Adam "is a type of Him who was to come." Christ is the Last Adam, but their acts and the effect of their actions stand as opposites. These two men are inversely related.
As we will see shortly, this great truth is this: Adam's sin has brought death (mortality) to all mankind, while Jesus' righteous act has brought life (immortality) to all men. Both acts were done by the head of humanity by the Law of Headship. The sin of the first Adam affected all men even before they were born. So also the righteous act of the last Adam affected all men even before they were born. In neither case was the will of other men a factor in the decisions of the head.
Mortality is the result of Adam's sin, not our own, for no man has chosen to be born mortal. Conversely, by the same Law, Jesus' righteousness has brought life (immortality) to all mankind, and this immortality is the result of Christ's act, not our own. Paul put it another way in 1 Cor. 15:22 and 23,
22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each in his own order [tagma, "squadron"] . . .
Adam and Christ are comparable in opposite ways. Adam sinned, bringing death to all; Christ reversed this, bringing life to all. The only qualification is that not all are given immortality at the same time, but "each in his own squadron."
The Love of God is thus displayed by His conciliation of His enemies. The Law of Headship not only brought mortality to all men, but also brought immortality to all men through Christ. On these grounds, the Love of God conciliates men apart from their own will, even while they are yet sinners and enemies of God.
Yet keep in mind that the two Adams merely set the stage for what is worked out individually in history. The first Adam's sin brought mortality, "on which" we sin. It brought weakness, or heart disease, making fleshly men incapable of perfection.
On the other hand, the last Adam's righteous act reverses the effects of Adam's sin. This does not empower the flesh to become righteous; instead, it secures the fact that all men will come into immortality in the end of history.
HOW this happens is a longer story, because each individual's life is different. Some are justified in this life; the rest in the afterlife by means of corrective judgment.
Success and Failure of the Two Men
In Romans 5:15-21 Paul lays out the contrasting comparison between Adam and Christ. We will quote from The Concordant Version, which is more literal than the NASB,
15 But not as the offense, thus also the grace. For if, by the offense of the one, the many died, much rather the grace of God and the gratuity in grace, which is of the One Man, Jesus Christ, to the many superabounds.
Adam and Jesus Christ are the two men who are being contrasted, along with their work and the effect that each work had upon "the many."
We must also understand that Paul is emphasizing the contrast between "one" (singular) and "the many" (plural).
Adam and Jesus Christ are different men. Though some deny this, saying that Adam was Jesus Christ, I do not believe that Jesus Christ was ever a sinner, whether in His NT ministry or in His pre-existent state. I do not believe that Jesus Christ was previously known as Adam in the book of Genesis or that He sinned in the garden.
Adam, through sin, failed to fulfill either the Dominion Mandate of Gen. 1:26 or the Fruitfulness Mandate of Gen. 1:28. Through sin, he lost the Image of God, for he no longer reflected the nature and character of his Creator. Through sin, he also failed to beget the sons of God, but instead begat children in his own fallen image.
But where Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. Jesus Christ is the Image of God, and thus "He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3). In other words, He fulfilled the Dominion Mandate of Gen. 1:26.
The other half of the Birthright is the Fruitfulness Mandate. Not only was Jesus Christ Himself the Son of God, but He also gave us the right to become the sons of God (John 1:12). Paul writes in Rom. 8:14,
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.
And so we see the full contrast between Adam and Jesus Christ in terms of the original Birthright that is defined in Gen. 1:26-28. Where one failed because of sin, the other succeeded because He was without sin (Heb. 9:28).
Adam's sin brought death to all men. Paul says in Rom. 5:15 (quoted earlier), "by the offense of the one the many died." This is, of course, a restatement of what Paul had written in verse 12, where "death passed upon all men on which all sinned." It is plain that we are mortal, not because WE sinned, but because Adam sinned.
This is a basic law of authority, or headship, found throughout the Scriptures. The sins of the fathers do indeed affect the children (Ex. 34:7), as much as the troops themselves are affected by the decisions of the General. There is certainly some injustice in this, for many innocent people are killed every day on account of the decisions of those in authority. But in the case of Adam and Christ, Paul shows us that Christ came as the final Head of Humanity to correct the injustices incurred by Adam's sin.
16 And not as through one act of sinning is the gratuity. For indeed, the judgment is out of one into condemnation, yet the grace is out of many offenses into a just award.
Paul was speaking logically according to his earlier schooling. This makes it somewhat difficult for us to grasp, unless we have taken a college course on Logic. When I took such a course at the University of Minnesota many years ago, it helped me to understand Paul's statement here, because I was able to put it into a logical formula:
16 And not as through one act of sinning is [=] the gratuity.
It is NOT that (a) Adam's sin = (b) Christ's gracious act
~ (a = b)
a = the act of sinning
b = the gratuity (gracious act)
So a & b are inversely alike. They are equals but in opposite ways. In other words, Adam's act of sinning compares inversely to Christ's gracious act.
These two acts are the same only in the scope of their effect. Both affected all men universally. It is obvious that Adam and Christ are not alike. Neither were their acts alike. The only way in which these two things are alike is in their effect upon all men. In 1 Cor. 15:22, Paul expresses the same thought differently:
22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.
Each man's act affected all men in an opposite manner. We know that the effect of Adam's sin was to bring death (mortality) upon all men. Thus, the effect of Christ's gracious act is to bring life (immortality) to all men. The same group of people are affected by each action, the first negatively and the second positively, but all by the Law of Headship.
17 For if, by the offense of the one, death reigns through the one, much rather, those obtaining the super-abundance of grace and the gratuity of righteousness shall be reigning in life [immortality] through the One, Jesus Christ.
Just as "death reigns" because of Adam, and not because of our own personal sins, so also does mankind benefit from the life-giving act of the last Adam. The FACT that all of God's enemies have been granted immortal life is based upon the righteous act of Christ, not our individual choices or personal faith.
Over and beyond that, men are certainly judged for their individual acts (sin). The point is that such individual judgments are subordinate to the Headship work of Jesus Christ. Personal sins cannot overpower or negate Christ's accomplishment on the Cross. All men will indeed come into full reconciliation with God, even though most will have to be disciplined at the Great White Throne judgment for personal sins. Only through justifying faith can a person avoid having to pay for his own sins at the Judgment.
This is not to imply that any man can succeed in paying the full debt incurred by his own personal sins. Such a feat will be impossible. For this reason, all unjustified sinners in that day will remain under judgment until the Creation Jubilee, when the Law sets all men free in spite of any remaining debt.
Hence, to avoid the judgment of God, one must go through the prescribed path of justification by faith in Christ and His work on the cross, as well as His resurrection.
Paul then sums up his teaching by concluding:
18 Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life's justifying. 19 For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just.
If we put this in more modern English, we see that "all mankind" were condemned to death (mortality) on account of Adam's sin, because all who were under his authority were affected by the decision of their head. In other words, Adam's sin was imputed to all men, calling what was not as though it were. Though none of us actually sinned when Adam sinned (we having not yet been born), we die nonetheless, as if we had sinned with Adam.
Conversely, the righteousness of Christ is also imputed to us, even though we were not crucified when He was crucified (we having not yet been born).
In both cases, by the law of authority, we were part of a body and so affected by the actions of our head. We were born part of the body and the estate of the first Adam. In our rebirth, we are part of the body and the estate of the Last Adam. In a sense, both of these cases are impersonal, in that both heads had an effect upon us without our consent and apart from our own personal will.
For this reason, as ambassadors for Christ, we are sent by our Head of State with a message to the opposing side: God has conciliated you, so we beg you to be conciliated to God in return, so that a reconciliation may take place. God has already conciliated all men, not imputing their trespasses to them (2 Cor. 5:19). This was done without the knowledge of those being affected by His gracious act. But there yet must be a response on our part in order for reconciliation to take place.
So the question arises: What happens to those who do not respond to God's conciliatory message? Will the benefits of His one-sided act be lost? In other words, will the injustice of Adam's sin being imputed to all men (apart from their consent) remain unresolved for ever?
Most Christians today seem to believe so. In their view, the effects of Christ's gracious act will not be applicable to "the many," but to the few who conciliate God during their life time. Yet such a view leaves unresolved the basic question of justice for all those who died in Adam. This is precisely why the Bible translators wrestled with Romans 5:12, not wanting to admit that Adam's sin had made us mortal. They recognized that this was inherently unjust, and so they tried to spare God's reputation as a good God.
The key is to know that Christ's gracious act on the cross has indeed given life (immortality) to all men—"but every man in his own squadron," or group (1 Cor. 15:23). Not everyone receives the free gift on the same occasion. It is not a question of FACT, but a question of TIMING. Some will avoid the "lake of fire" by being reconciled to God in this life time. Others will be "saved yet so as through fire" (1 Cor. 3:15).
In the end, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Him as Lord (Phil. 2:10, 11). But this says nothing of the process by which this is accomplished.
The One and The Many
In Romans 5, Paul's use of the term, "the many" has confused many Christians, because in our culture we normally think of "many" as being somewhere between "one" and "all." Yet the word "many" is a general plural word that Paul used in order to contrast it with the singular "one."
The context shows that Paul makes it synonymous with "all men." In verse 12 "death spread to all men," and then in verse 15, he says, "by the transgression of the one [Adam], the many died." Obviously, "all men" is what Paul meant by "the many," because there are no exceptions as to being mortal. The use of this phrase is meant to contrast the one man with the entire group that was affected by a single act.
Furthermore, the whole idea is to compare Adam with Christ. Even as Adam's sin was imputed to all men, resulting in death, so also is the righteousness of Christ imputed to all men, resulting in life. Yet the manner in which this goal is accomplished is seen more clearly in Paul's other letters.
The Law of Headship
First and foremost, this is a law of authority and headship. Adam was given dominion, not only over his own (future) children, but also over the entire earth. Hence, the entire earth was made subject to death. Romans 8:20-22 says,
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
Death was imposed upon all of creation, not just upon Adam's children or mankind in general. They were affected because they were subject to Adam's authority. Adam was sentenced to death at the beginning, and no one can escape from that sentence by claiming Adam as their father or as their head. Such a claim only confirms the sentence of death upon themselves.
We need a new identity altogether. Paul explains this more thoroughly a few chapters later. The path to life is to claim Jesus Christ as our Father, for then the law of authority works in our favor. He is our Father if the Spirit of God has impregnated our soul with the seed of Christ. The virgin birth of Jesus is the great example of this, showing us how we (like Mary) can beget Christ as a new generation.
The great "mystery" is "Christ in you" (Col. 1:27). If Christ is indeed in you, then you are pregnant with Christ, awaiting the "birth" of the Manchild at the appointed time. This new generation has both a heavenly Father and an earthly mother, even as Jesus did, but the identity of this Manchild is derived from its Father.
That holy seed that is coming to birth is THE REAL YOU, if so be that you identify with this Manchild, as Paul did in Romans 7 in his discussion of the "two I's." There is the "I" that identifies with the first Adam, and the "I" that identifies with the last Adam. Romans 7:25 says, "so then, on the one hand I myself with my [spiritual] mind am serving the law of God; but on the other [mind-identity with Adam] with my flesh the law of sin."
In this entire salvation process, it is important to see that our identity with Adam has been sentenced to death and cannot be saved. It is only our identity with the last Adam that will be saved. When the Manchild within us is brought to birth, the fleshly mother will die in childbirth, even as did Rachel (Gen. 35:19), when Benjamin was born. Rachel was a prophetic type of our own soul giving birth to the "Son of my right hand."
As for the scope of this blessing, Paul writes two things which, on the surface, appear to be conflicting ideas. In verse 17 he appears to limit the grace of Christ to "those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness." In other words, it appears that one must receive it in order to obtain it. But in the next verse he says that out of Christ's righteous act "there resulted justification of life to all men."
Thus, in verse 17 Paul seems to limit the blessing of immortality to those few who actually accept Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross—those who have heard the word of conciliation and who have responded in kind in order to be reconciled to God. It is self-evident, however, that not all men do this in the course of their life span. In fact, the vast majority of mankind (until very recently) never had opportunity to hear this word of conciliation.
Because many theologians have not been able to reconcile this with "justification of life to all men," they have had to choose which of Paul's statements to believe.
Hence, some theologians have argued that Christ has merely offered justification of life to all men. The conciliation of all, they say, requires a response in order to make reconciliation, and hence, without that necessary response, the reconciliation simply will not happen. And so the "all men," in practice, is limited to all who respond to the gospel message.
As a result, the common theology has taught that all who are in Adam died, while all who are in Christ have been given life. This does, indeed establish the law of authority, but it does not explain Paul's use of the term "all men." Nor does it resolve the injustice of all men (and even all of creation) being subjected to futility against their will (Rom. 8:20).
The Apparent Injustice of God
It is unjust that all men would suffer as the result of one man's sin. Even the divine Law itself says this in Deut. 24:16,
16 Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.
This law is cited in Ezekiel 18:20. In spite of this, God holds children accountable to the third and fourth generation (Ex. 34:7), and in Romans 4 we learn of imputed sin and imputed righteousness. Adam's sin was imputed to others, causing them to pay the penalty of sin—mortality.
Many theologians have wrestled with these great issues but have been unable to understand how a just God can unjustly make the children pay for the sins of Adam. Their "solution" is too limited in its scope, because if only those who respond to the word of conciliation are given life, then the injustice upon the bulk of humanity remains unresolved.
Neither can it be said that it was their own fault for not accepting Christ, for the vast majority of them throughout the millennia never had the slightest particle of opportunity to hear of Christ. Somehow, some way, all those to whom Adam's sin was imputed must also have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them. This seems impossible to the average Christian, but all things are possible with God. God specializes in the impossible.
The key is in understanding two things: First, it is true that only those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. Secondly, God will make a way to ensure that all men will indeed believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
We know that not all men believe in their life time. But there is no biblical statement prohibiting men from believing in Christ after they have died. Heb. 9:27 merely says, "and inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment." But judgment does not prohibit men from repenting. In fact, the whole purpose of God's law is to cause men to repent by means of judgment.
This, then, is the key to resolving the difficulties in Paul's epistle. Many are "saved yet so as through fire," because they will have to experience the fire of God in order to be saved. No one will be given life without responding to the word of conciliation. But yet all will respond, each in his own order and time.
The Depths of God's Love
When Paul speaks of conciliating "the many" and "all men" in the fifth chapter of Romans, he is describing the effects of the divine love that he has already defined earlier. Whereas the love of man is normally limited to his friends, the love of God extends to His enemies as well.
It is for this reason, Paul says, God was in Christ conciliating the world—not waiting for them to become His friends, but dying for them while they were yet enemies.
The world—and even the Church itself—scarcely appreciates or even comprehends the depth and breadth of such love. The Church doctrine of divine retribution proves its lack of comprehension, for it denies any beneficial effects of that divine love upon those who die without having conciliated God in return.
To all of these unreconciled ones, many in the Church teach, the divine deadline is each man's point of death, whereupon God's demonstration of love is suddenly transformed into a demonstration of divine wrath. Those who refused outright to conciliate God in return are said to be tormented for eternity in unimaginable pain and torture, while those who had never heard of Christ are sautéed lightly in a mere one million degrees.
By such theology, divine love will save but few, having failed in large part through the contrarian will of man. It is as if two nations were at war, having irreconcilable differences, and one wise and loving King (God) decides to sue for peace, knowing that it takes two to make a fight. This loving King had been wronged, but decided to pay the law's penalty Himself, forgiving the wrong and satisfying the demand of the law. He then sends ambassadors to the other side, carrying a white flag, bearing the message of peace and conciliation: "I no longer hold your transgressions against you."
The result of such love is to cause a few on the other side to lay down their arms and join the side of the gracious King. But then we discover that there was a deadline to respond, after which time love is replaced by the wrath of a rejected lover.
Only then is it clear that the King's "conciliation" was really a disguised ultimatum. Love was only temporary. Love failed to secure the desired end, having been thwarted by the will of man. Men's theology insists that God remains a God of love, and yet He is somehow forced by His own law to incarcerate and torture the unreconciled ones for eternity. This idea of a God of love, helpless in the face of His own law, being forced to torture the unreconciled once they have passed the deadline, sums up the knowledge of God held by a great portion of the Church.
Such a theology is based upon false assumptions. It is assumed that death is a deadline for repentance, whereas Paul says that "every knee will bow." It is plain that only a few knees bow to Christ during their life time on earth, so it is equally plain that the rest of those knees must bow after they have died. Furthermore, every tongue will confess that He is Lord, and Paul tells us that no man can confess that He is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. Further, these knees will bow and these tongues will confess "to the glory of God the Father." Where is the glory in a confession extracted by torture? What glory is it to force a sinner to his knees and wrench from him a feigned confession?
It is further assumed that the divine law demands a burning hell for unbelievers, when in fact the law demands "burn for burn" (Ex. 21:25) only in cases where a man has burned someone else without repenting. Even such judgment is limited, because the basic principle of divine law demands retribution in kind only. Man alone extends such retribution to eternity.
The word translated "eternity" in Scripture is nearly always aeonian, which pertains to an eon (age), a time period having both a beginning and an end. While man may extend this time of judgment into eternity, God does not. Furthermore, God's justice proceeds out of His character of Love, and so the purpose of justice is to correct, rather than to destroy. Divine retribution is not an admission of failure to rehabilitate, for "love never fails." In fact, if the love of God fails to bring even one man ultimately into the fullness of the stature of Christ, then love has failed to accomplish its stated goal.
Sin misses the mark. Is God, then, a sinner? Is He a failure? A thousand times NO.
The Question of Free Will
Men also excuse God for unending divine retribution by insisting that man has done it to himself by his own free will. But this is inconsistent theology. One man's sin was imposed upon "the many" apart from any decision by their own free will. God imputed Adam's sin to all succeeding generations even though they had not sinned in the similitude of Adam's sin (Rom. 5:13). Man's mortality is proof of this. If the law of imputation of Adam's sin must affect all men negatively, how can men apply the same law unequally to Christ's conciliatory work on the cross?
The law judges impartially and with equality (equity). The will of man was not consulted before imputing Adam's sin to all; neither was the will of man consulted before imputing the righteousness of Christ to all. Both were acts of God alone. Hence, God was in Christ conciliating the world by the standard of divine love alone. By such love Christ dies, not for His friends alone, but also for His enemies.
This is the whole point of distinguishing man's love from God's love. Many men will die for a friend or family member, but Christ has died for the ungodly and even for those who hated Him.
Is there no lasting beneficial effect of such love upon the one who dies without conciliating God in return? Is God so helpless? Is He a God who weeps while torturing people in order to conform to a law that would go against His loving nature? Does the law demand something that is contrary to the will, mind, and character of God? No, the law is the very expression of His character, and hence, the law is based entirely on love. On love hangs the entire law and the prophets.
No law is based on love unless it is designed to correct the lawbreaker. The conciliation will have its full effect because it was not based upon the will of man, but upon God's will alone. Man's opposition will not succeed in the end, because his will is not stronger than God's, nor is he capable, in the end, of resisting such perfect love.
All of man's resistance is time-based and is therefore limited in duration. The authority that men enjoy, based upon the Dominion Mandate in Gen. 1:26, is no match for the sovereignty of God that He retained for Himself. There is no force on earth that can prevent the divine plan from being fulfilled. The devil does not win in the end, nor does God play the role of the sore loser.
The law of God is an expression of love emanating from His very Being. Hence, it is described as "fire" (Deut. 33:2), even as the baptism of fire is, to us, the saturation of His character and essence. There is no fire of God that can be separated from His love, for God will be God, and He must always be true to Himself.
While the "lake of fire" is indeed a place of divine judgment, it is where all men learn the character of God. Even believers today are in training by means of the baptism of fire. We are trained now in order to obtain a better and earlier resurrection. He is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe.
This "fire" is also the glory of God which came down upon Sinai and which will ultimately cover the whole earth (Num. 14:21). God will be glorified, and every creature in heaven and in earth will be found praising Him when the four beasts finally say "Amen."