Gordon E. Johnson


The Bridge to a Life of Victory in the Last Adam, Christ

Romans 5: 9-17  (NKJ

Gordon E. Johnson
Rio Grande Bible Institute


Paul is now prepared to launch the next major aspect of the truth of the Cross. The foundation is well in place: the grace of God, the power of the shed blood and the role of faith, that divine/human  element that issues in spiritual reality. In a seamless manner Paul makes the doctrine of justification the foundation for sanctification. "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 3:11).

A Review of the Past with a View to the Future  

Paul writes to the Galatians with all the passion and deep concern of a spiritual father as indeed he was. In Romans, however, he will approach the same subject matter, but he does it logically and chronologically. J. B Lightfoot lists some 27 specific verses common to both epistles but related so differently according to the need of the readers.[1]  In Romans Paul gives the truths of God's grace in order of experience: first he presents the nucleus of the gospel in Rom. 1:16, 17; then his exposé of sin is devastating (1:18-3:20). Having shown the absolute bankruptcy the human heart, Pablo introduces the marvelous grace of God in propitiation and justification (3:21-31); he follows the gospel truths with the role of saving faith in receiving God's favor in pardon (4:1-29) and in introducing the believer into the riches of his new inheritance (5:1-11).

The Bridge from Justification to Sanctification   Romans 5: 9-11

But Paul has only begun to explore the heights and depths of our new standing before God in saving grace.  The bridge between the two major aspects of the same grace of God is the key passage of 5: 9-11.  Before he moves on, he pauses to fathom the depths of God's love that can now be more fully appreciated by the believing saint. (5: 6-8). All of God's favor has been the expression of that love in the person of his Son. Against that backdrop he continues: "much more been justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (9).

By means of a sound argument Paul reasons tightly; the shed blood has spoken peace forever. There can be no future wrath; his grace and his blood are proof of our eternal standing.  But he still says: «MUCH MORE». In this equation the future peace far outweighs the wrath of God. We call this an «a fortiori» argument;  Simply put the argument bases a far greater result upon a premise already fully established --God's wrath. The second premise --eternal peace --is much greater in value and duration.  Now Paul introduces the next great concept upon which the remainder of Romans 5-8 is based  "For if 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" (10). Rom. 5:9 stresses his death as the ground of justification while Rom. 5:10 stresses the risen life of Christ as the ground of sanctification. 

This is a new departure that Romans 6-8 will develop first with our death to sin (Rom 6:2) and our death to the Law (Rom. 7:4) and the work of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:1-13). Paul erects the bridge with the statement of a full reconciliation and reason for rejoicing ( 5:12).

Our Oneness or Solidarity with the Last Adam --our Break with the First Adam   Rom. 5: 12- 15

This next paragraph is key to the understanding the Magna Carta of Christian victory in Romans 6:1-14. Paul leaves no stone unturned. In Rom. 5:12 he returns to the original sin of the First Adam. Paul will face squarely the sin nature we inherited in Adam. Theologians may debate the «when» of sin's entrance, but 5:12 states a basic unavoidable fact. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned."

It may seem strange that Paul compares Christ with Adam considering the tragic consequences that came to us in Adam. Jesus stated it tersely in his conversation with Nicodemus where the sharp difference between the two worlds can be seen. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, you must be born resurrection. "And so it is written, The first man Adam became a living being, the Last Adam became a life-giving spirit. . . .The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second man is the Lord from heaven." We see again the sharp contrast of the first Adam and the Last Adam;  "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).

Paul will make two stark contrasts (5:15, 16) and three comparisons (5:17-21 with the first Adam who failed and infected the whole human race and the Last Adam who triumphed and established a new spiritual race. The first Adam universally brought condemnation us all. None can deny that sad reality (Rom. 3:20).  Paul's argument is that in the same way Christ's death has provided a universal provision for a new race with this one important exception. We inherited Adam's nature though no choice of our own; the new nature in Christ is offered to those who receive his forgiveness. "For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:17).  This is NOT universal salvation, but rather a gracious provision for all who will believe.

The tremendous value of this passage is that Paul is setting out for us in preparation for the indwelling life of Christ in us that the Christian life is not an uneasy truce or contest between the two natures or the sad past and the unknown future.  There is a much more dimension that should give hope and confidence that Christ has conquered sin and will to do that in every believer regardless of his past track record.

Powerful Principles to Ponder

1.  Paul is going to return to the very essence of the sin problem. He will not gloss over the reality of a sin nature, a sinful dynamic in every human being.

2.  Paul will show that God has made an effective provision for the believer who still must face that inward struggle, the inertia of the sin principle.

3.  He will do it, however without any concession whatever to its power and right to rule in the life of the believer.

Dr. Gordon E. Johnson

Rio Grande Bible Institute