Romans 5:6-11


Before working on this text, the preacher ought to read verses 1-5 again. The NKJV summarizes it with this sentence: "Faith triumphs in trouble."  The article of justification had been introduced at 3:21-26. Chapter four is devoted to Abraham, the father of believers. Chapter five begins with the concept of justification which is victorious in all the afflictions which we must undergo in life. Notice the similarity between verses 3 and 11. And note also that "love" is introduced in verse 5, a vital element in our text for today. This love comes to us through the means of grace. The Trinity underlies verse 5.

Lenski was a good exegete. But the pastor or student must always remember that he had troubles with two doctrines: objective justification and election. If you read this section in Lenski you will notice several times that Lenski comes very close to denying the universal atonement. That is because he denied objective justification.

The capital letter, in Greek, at the beginning of verse 6 indicates that a subparagraph begins here. Verses 6-8 treat the vicarious atonement of Jesus for all men. Verses 9-10, in a double argument from the greater to the lesser, comfort the Christian with the fact that the great crisis has already passed and that therefore we should not fear for our eternal destiny.

Romans 5:6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

The apostle is addressing believers and therefore speaks of "we."  However that does not mean that Christ did what He did only for the believers. The believers are being given individual assurance. The apostle now shows what God did for the human race because of His great love. He shows us what God did when we were still weak, helpless, dead, ungodly, morally unworthy.

"You see"  introduces the explanation.  "At the critical moment."  Things had reached an unbearable situation.

Arndt: Paul adds 'instead of ungodly people.' That consideration magnifies the love of God.
Bengel: Christ died neither too soon nor too late and was not held too long under death. . . . The question, why Christ did not come sooner, is not an idle one; see Hebrews 9:26; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:10; Mark 1:15; 12:6.
Lenski: His point is that Christ's vicarious death occurred ahead of all the godliness of the Christians. While we were in our original godlessness Christ died for us.

Christ did not die for good people. He died instead for the hopeless.

Franzmann: We were ungodly when that love sought us out, and we did not even want God's love. 'At the right time' at the time of our utmost desperation and at the extreme of our revolt, Christ died for.

Remember this when your despair is the deepest.

Kretzmann: Godlessness had reached a crisis, with no hope held out for the transgressors.

Read the Gospels and Acts. How much wretchedness, hatred and sinfulness we find there! It is still so today.

Romans 5:7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.

The translations are interesting: AAT:  "A man will hardly die for a righteous person; oh, for a kind person somebody may dare to die." 

Note that in each sentence we have only one person who is being rescued. By the way, all of verse 7 is axiomatic. Therefore, the words  "righteous" and "good" are used, not in the Biblical sense, but in the pagan sense.

Bengel: The 'righteous' does all that is required, the 'good' does more than others can ask. The former commands respect, the latter love.
Lenski: To die is to make the supreme self-sacrifice, and the wording implies that everybody would try to get through with less, most of them with far less, that only very, very few would have courage enough to go to the limit.
Franzmann: The greatest love that our experience knows, the best that grows in man's gardens, is a love that is willing to sacrifice itself for a good and gracious man, for a worthy cause. This does not happen often, and it just barely happens. Even this much goes against the grain of our humanity.

Perhaps we can distinguish the former means the just man who rarely benefits anyone whereas the good man does good things for other people and therefore someone might dare to die in his stead if the need arises.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

And now verse 8 is contrasted to what we read in verse 7. The verse is very similar to verse 6, except that the love of God, which had been introduced in verse 5, is added. The love of God is the impelling cause of our salvation. The death of Christ is the meritorious cause.

Note the word order. It makes every word very emphatic:  "But there demonstrates His very own love to us God."  That is intolerable English but it shows how Greek emphasizes words by placing them into a different order.

Note that the Apostle Paul includes himself with his hearers in verses 6 and 8. And note once more the vicarious atonement indicated by  "Christ died for us."  He took our place.

There is a triple contrast between verse 7 and verse 8:
  1. The one is compared to all of mankind;
  2. The one person was just or good, whereas all of mankind was weak, godless, sinful, unworthy; and,
  3. The reluctance on the part of a mere human being, compared to the fact that Christ died willingly, John 10:17.18.

Note the parallel passages John. 3:16; 1 John 4:10; 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 14:15 and 1 Corinthians 8:11.

Arndt: Men die only reluctantly for something good. Christ dies gladly even for wicked people. . . . Nathan Hale HAD to die. His death was not a voluntary offering.
Stoeckhardt: So far human love succeeds, but only in unusual cases. . . . That is the unique, incomparable love of God. It transcends all thought.
Franzmann: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners, still men in revolt against God, still holding in wild contempt the high majesty of the God who all the while invited our worship and thanksgiving (Romans 1:19-21).

Romans 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!

Note the similarities between verses 9 and 10. Both verses contain an argument from the greater to the less. That means that in each verse it is plainly stated that the crisis, the worst part, has already passed. Therefore we should not fear the future.

AAT translates verse 9 thus:  "Now that His blood has made us righteous, we are all the more certain He will save us from God's anger."  Now that we are justified, forgiven through Jesus' blood, we can rest assured that we shall be preserved from God's wrath now, on judgment day and forever.

Rienecker: Here it means the consummation of that work of which justification is the commencement. It is a preservation from all causes of destruction.
Stoeckhardt: We need not fear God's wrath and displeasure on that Day. The change, that the ungodly have become righteous, is greater than the other, that the righteous are made blessed.
Franzmann: The wrath of God that looms up at the end of all men's ways, to judge them and destroy them, does not loom up at the end of our new way; the Christ looms up, and He will save us from the wrath to come.

Romans 5:10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Here we have a first class condition, also called a fact or particular condition. It does not denote doubt but quite the opposite. It should be read like this:  "If, as is really the case, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, although we were enemies, how much more, since we've been reconciled, shall we be saved by means of His life."  Note the important parallel passage, 2 Corinthians 5:18. God reconciled all men to Himself through Christ Jesus. Enemies must be reconciled if there is to be peace.

The commentators argue as to whether "enemies" here is used actively or passively. Does it denote natural man's enmity toward God or God's enmity and wrath toward natural man? Both are true. By nature we were spiritually blind, dead, and enemies of God. Paul says:  "The carnal mind is enmity against God."  Romans 8:7.

And the conclusion of verse 9 speaks of the wrath of God. God, of course, was not responsible for such enmity. Man brought it upon himself. God is justly at enmity with all of mankind apart from the vicarious atonement of Jesus Christ.

Now, what is the verse saying? Since, although we were God's enemies, we have already been reconciled to God through Jesus' life, how much more shall we be preserved by His life. He is the Way , the Truth and the Life. Perhaps Paul is also implying that mere men (verse 7) can only give their life for one another. But they cannot bestow life by rising from the dead for each other. That is unthinkable. But Christ did both: died in my stead and rose in my stead. Cf. Romans 4:25.

Arndt: God reconciled us to himself when we were still enemies and not yet believers. . . . To lead us into heaven now the Son does not have to die again. No, through his life, that is as a living person, he will be at our side with his help. If God did that great thing, how much more will he do the less.

By the way, the divinity of Jesus is plainly stated in the words  "His Son." 

Stoeckhardt: The change of God's hostility into friendship, this greatest, most important change of things, guarantees the last change which we yet await.
Lenski: The very difference between the blood of all other sacrifices and the blood of Christ's sacrifice was this: they died and remained dead, he died and was raised again. Read Hebrews 7:23-28; 9:25-26; 10:11.12. The blood of all those animal sacrifices, as their very repetition showed, could not really take away sins, could only symbolize and typify the blood of the Son. . . . As our salvation lies in his blood, so it lies equally in his life. . . . Both times 'we shall be saved' refers to the last day.
Franzmann: If His death means our reconciliation, His life shall be our ultimate deliverance.

Romans 5:11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Note the similarity between verses 3 and 11.

Bengel: The whole discourse from verses 3-11, is comprehended in one construction thus: ' And not only so, but we glory in tribulations; and not only so, but we also joy in God, etc. ' Thus the sense, suspended by a long parenthesis, is most elegantly and sweetly completed, according to the following arrangement of the apostle: 'We have peace and we rejoice not only in the hope of the glory of God, but, even amid tribulations, we glory in God Himself, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom we have now received the atonement.

Verses 9 and 10, look to the very end of the Christian's life. But verse 11 speaks of the time between the present and the last day. So great is our assurance of justification and reconciliation that we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through Whom we have received the reconciliation. No question is left unanswered. No problem is left unsolved. No sorrow is left for us to bear alone. No enmity, be it of hell or among men, can touch us.

Stoeckhardt: The greatest and most important has already happened. The decisive step lies behind us. The crisis has passed. . . . We have gone from the state of sin into the state of grace. It is only a small and easy matter for us to go from the state of grace into the state of glory. . . . We long for God's glory. However, the right way to this goal is not to look forward to the future but with mind and thought to become absorbed in the present grace, in the grace of justification. The more firmly we become rooted in this, the closer we are to heaven.
Franzmann: The past is the history of God's unparalleled love; the future is the full assurance of that love's last reach, the great deliverance from the judgment. No suffering can make of the present a gray and deadly stretch with no meaning and no joy of its own. The present is filled with rejoicing.
Kretzmann: All apprehension as to the final outcome is removed from our hearts.


Adapted from Exegetical Notes, Series A Epistle Texts, Sundays After Pentecost, by Harold H. Buls, Concordia Theological Seminary Press: Ft Wayne IN, 1984, pp. 18-20. Used with permission.

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