Romans chapter 5 really takes up the thread from chapter 3 – meaning that chapter 4 was in ‘parentheses’. Paul uses this literary tool a great deal, particularly in the book of Romans. We left the thread in Romans 3 with the vital doctrine of Justification by Faith alone. In chapter 5, Paul goes on to show that, having already been justified, the door is opened to peace, grace, and glory. The golden road from suffering is also paved with faith: from Suffering to Perseverance to renewed Character to Hope and reliance on the Holy Spirit. Jesus cares for us, since he chose to die for us whilst we were all still sinners – which also means that we aren’t now, then). If God gave us his best whilst we were still his enemies, how much more will he continue to lavish his love onto us now that we are his children!
In the second half of the chapter, it is a tale of two ‘Adams’. The First Adam and and the Second Adam (i.e. ‘Christ ‘) are spiritual mirror images. Adam sins and allows death to enter the world; since we are biologically descended from Adam, we all sinned therefore – being part of Adam’s body whilst he sinned. So we all inherited death from our forefather too. Jesus was sent by God as the second ‘Adam’, enacting all the first Adam’s choices all over again, but with perfect success this time, culminating in his death and resurrection. The key for us is to move spiritually from Adam to Christ, thus attaining righteousness before God. More about that in chapter 7. The direction that God is taking us in is to overwhelm us with grace, swallowing up sin, which causes the grace to enlarge.
Really the logic of the second half of the chapter moves from verse 12 to verse 18, with verses 13 to 17 being again in parentheses, where Paul contrasts the first operational sequence of sin, justice, punishment and death with the later sequence of many sins, grace and justification. Everything relating to the First Adam was deserved, whilst everything relating to the Second Adam was gifted.
The emergence of the Law of Moses also had contrasting effects: it first caused sin to increase, but then it resulted in grace to increase even more, since grace covers every sin. Just making this statement probably raises some questions in the reader’s mind – and these important questions are addressed by Paul in the next chapter.