Romans 5

Jesus, Savior of Man

Priestly Garb

Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

In justification, believers are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. This imagery is connected to the apparel of the priests which was required to be clean and acceptable when they appeared before God (Exod 28; Zech 3). It is being clothed in the righteousness of Christ, the perfect high priest, that allows believers to have peace with God and access to His presence. The tabernacle model in which this priest model was photographed is located in Timna Park in southern Israel.

Early Tribulations

We also rejoice in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces steadfastness (Romans 5:3).

The Roman historian Suetonius records that in AD 49, only a few years before Paul penned Romans, Emperor Claudius expelled Jews from Rome because of a controversy surrounding someone called “Chrestus” (Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Claudius, 25). Many scholars consider it likely that this was a misunderstanding of Christos (χριστος, meaning “Christ”). This is the same expulsion that caused Priscilla and Aquila to relocate to Corinth (Acts 18:2). Paul and his audience may have had this event in mind when considering the tribulations faced by the church in Rome.

A "Good" Man

For rarely for a righteous man would one die (though for a good man one might dare to die) (Romans 5:7).

The distinction between the “righteous” man and the “good” man is somewhat ambiguous. Many scholars view the first as a person either outwardly strict (even Pharisaical) or merely upright, whereas the second is more likely a person who is beloved, generous, kind, and perhaps a benefactor to others. If this understanding is correct, the “good” man may have been similar to a Roman “patron,” a wealthier and more influential person who took responsibility for a “client.” With this understanding Paul may have been stating that someone might be willing to die for another who has seen to their well-being. The monument shown here was dedicated to the patroness Valerie by the freedman Posphor, likely one of her clients.

Life after Death

Much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life (Romans 5:10).

Many cultures and religions invent various ways to prepare for the afterlife, or to preserve their bodies in the hope that it will benefit them in the afterlife. Such was the case for the mummified Egyptian priests shown here. Paul proclaims that since we were reconciled to God through the death of Jesus, His resurrection and new life are an even greater sign of that reconciliation.

Comparing Adam and Jesus

Adam . . . who is a type of Him who was to come (Romans 5:14).

Paul refers to Adam as a “type” of Jesus, indicating a similarity between the two where one acts as an archetype, model, or pattern for the other. The connection is explained in the next verse, and it turns out that Adam and Christ are (in some ways) mirror opposites. Adam brought death, but Christ brought life. There are other ways in which Adam and Christ may be compared and contrasted, one of which is illustrated here. Like Adam, Jesus was tempted by Satan (Matt 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13; cf. Gen 3). Unlike Adam, who was tested in the lush beauty of Eden, Jesus faced His testing in a barren wilderness with no food or water. Despite this, Jesus did what Adam did not and withstood the temptation. Because of its lack of water and good routes, the Judean wilderness pictured here has been (mostly) uninhabited throughout history. The exact location of Jesus’s temptation is unknown.

Law as a Mirror

Now the law came so that the transgression might increase (Romans 5:20).

The coming of the law was not intended to increase the amount of sin that was being committed, but it was intended to increase awareness of sin (cf. Rom 7:7). In a sense, then, the law acts as a mirror to reveal aspects of our sinfulness we would otherwise struggle to see. James describes one who looks at the law as one who looks in a mirror (James 1:23-24). The mirror shown here once belonged to one of the wives of Thutmose III, a pharoah of Egypt in the 15th century BC.

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