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The Reign of Grace vs. the Reign of Sin
Thinking about Romans 5:20-21.
Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21)
In the final two verses of Romans 5, Paul concludes this section where he has been comparing sin and grace, the old Adam and the new Adam, the wages of sin and the gift of God.
The Entrance of the Law of Moses.
When Paul wrote, “the law entered that the offense might abound,” I think he is referring to the Law of Moses. Earlier, he discussed how sin existed in the world before the Law of Moses. Had the Law of Moses “fixed” anything as far as sin was concerned? No.
This “law” is the Mosaic Law. It cannot have just “law” (of any kind) in mind for this phrase clearly indicates that there were trespasses before this law “came in besides or alongside.” - McGuiggan, Romans, 173
Before the Law of Moses - sin existed. When the Law of Moses was given, sin was still a problem, and it became an even greater problem.
What’s the point? Law wasn’t the answer to humanity’s sin problem.
Law didn’t redeem from sin (see this developed in 8:1-3), it only succeeded to multiply it. If there was a law which could redeem and give life, the Mosaic Law would have accomplished it (see Galatians 3:21). - McGuiggan, Romans, 174
[Law] was designed to bring sin to the forefront and to inform man that those things being done were an offense to God. - Wacaster, Studies in Romans, 214
As we’ve discussed before, all Law could do was condemn those who broke it. The Law handed down what was deserved for sin. If we were to receive anything other than what we deserve for our sins (Romans 6:23), God’s grace would have to be extended.
Thankfully, His grace abounded to many.
The Abundance of Grace Far Surpasses the Abundance of Sin.
“Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”
The picture is this: as sin grew more and more, grace grew much more. The abundance of God’s grace completely overwhelmed sin.
Sin worked hard but grace was the winner. Sin as it increased only increased the need for and the expression of grace; sin became the occasion for the loveliness of grace to be manifested. - McGuiggan, Romans, 174
God’s “superabundance” is demonstrated by the ushering in of so much grace that sin is completly overwhelmed. - Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 188
The grace of God is far superior to sin! God’s grace doesn’t merely remain on par with sin; it far exceeds sin.
However much the circle of sin widened, the circle of grace still stretched beyond it; and however great the height that sin attained, grace still mounted above it. - Lard, Romans, 192
Everything Hinges on Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul often reminds his audience of a point he makes in this letter: death is the consequence of sin (Romans 1:32; 5:9, 14-17; 6:23).
But remember - the grace of God abounds above the abundance of sin. God’s grace reigns “through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Drawing a parallel between what the first Adam did and what the second Adam did is like comparing a small creek to the Grand Canyon. There is virtually no comparison because grace reigned through righteousness and powerfully conquered death…For Paul, everything hinged on “Jesus Christ our Lord,” and he hoped that all might come to understand how the utter devastation brought in by Adam was overwhelmingly made right through Christ, and not by works of the Law. - Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 188
The grace of God has appeared to all men (Titus 2:11) through Jesus Christ our Lord. Only through Him is eternal life offered to those who deserve death (Romans 6:23).
Everything hinges upon Him.
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