FOR IF BY THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE ONE, DEATH REIGNED THROUGH
THE ONE: ei gar to tou enos paraptomati o thanatos ebasileusen (3SAAI)
dia tou enos: (Ro 5:12; Ge 3:6,19; 1Cor 15:21,22,49) (Ro
5:20; Jn 10:10; 1Ti 1:14)
- introduces an explanation.
Vine says that here Paul...
confirms verse 16, (and) introduces a
third contrast, not as previously between one and many, but between the
legal effects of the one trespass and the effect of the abundance of
grace in the future destiny of the justified. (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
first class conditional which means this declaration is assumed to be
true, fulfilled or factual - "if as is the case by the
transgression...". Paul once again argues from the "lesser" ("transgression
of the one" Adam) to the "greater" (the One Jesus Christ),
as he continues the reasoning of the preceding verse.
from parapipto = fall aside
from para = aside + pipto = fall) (see use in
means a falling beside, deviation from a path or departing from the
norm. Adam fell aside when he ate "from the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil" (Genesis 2:17) and thus began the Fall of man.
Death reigned - Paul has noted
this earlier writing...
Nevertheless death reigned
from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the
likeness of the offense
of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (See note
(thanatos) is the opposite of life and the absence of life
and in the NT is the consequence and punishment (wages) of sin. Death
speaks of separation, physically of the soul from the body and
spiritually of the soul from God. Note however that death does
not signify either annihilation or extinction. Here in Romans 5 Paul personifies
death as a sovereign tyrant ruling over mankind as testified to
by a world filled with cemeteries! No one escapes the rule of death,
which is like the proverbial sword of Damocles, suspended over every
person's head at every moment!
reminds us that Paul...
is not saying that death
reigned over us all because we all sinned. He is saying that
death reigned over us all because
Adam sinned. (Ibid) (Comment:
This is the not too popular doctrine of original sin, a doctrine which
our basic sin nature resists with all its fallen might. If you are
wrestling with this doctrine go back and study the notes on
If you aren't
convinced that death reigned then read Genesis 5 and note
the solemn repetition of the key phrase and he died (8
times in chapter 5)...
So all the days that Adam lived were
nine hundred and thirty years, and he died. (Genesis 5:5)
that thanatos in Romans 5 is primarily a reference...
to the (physical) death of the
body, as is indicated in verse 14. The term may, however, have a
more general sense, as including death spiritual and eternal;
for these are the penal consequences of sin,
and the whole argument points to death as a penalty thereof. Moreover,
the life which is brought to the believer through Christ is set in
contrast to death (see note
and this eternal life is more than simply antithetic to physical death.
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
(basileuo from basileús = a king) means to rule as a king, with
implication of complete authority and right to control in an absolute
manner. It speaks of the dominating quality of death. This Death reigned as an
absolute monarch over all humanity, exhibiting undisputed, rightful
sway. In America, this picture might lose some of its impact. But to
those who were raised in a country ruled by monarchy, the picture of a
King whose decrees cannot be questioned is very real. So it was with
Vincent commenting on death reigned writes that this is...
The emphatic point of the comparison.
The effect of the second Adam cannot fall behind that of the first. If
death reigned, there must be a reign of life. (Greek
Adam’s sin brought universal
death, exactly opposite the result he had been duped to expect by Satan,
the Deceiver, who promised
“You will be like God” (Genesis
On the other hand,
Christ’s sacrifice brought salvation to those who believe.
Adam transgressed God’s commandment that he must not eat of the tree of
the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). This command was a test of
man’s obedience to God. With the coming of sin into man’s experience,
death also came. Death became king. It reigned supreme. Adam’s action
brought the reign of death.
As the representative head of the human race, Adam’s offense dethroned
him as the ruler of God’s creation. Consequently, death became the ruler
of nature. Adam became the representative of a death-destined society.
Every individual born into that society, shares that destiny of death as well.
The "Last Adam", Jesus Christ, is also the representative of a society. Since all
men and women are
born into the society of death, the only way to enter Christ’s society,
in which men are born unto justification of life, is to be born again
(which is implied by the verb receive; i.e., those who receive
implies some won't receive - see discussion of receive below).
By the new birth experience we pass from our old relationship to Adam
into a new and living relationship with Christ.
explains Romans 5:17...
Don't let that complicated verse trip
you up. Just focus on two words: Death and Life. Death reigned. That's
our heritage from Adam. Death reigns on the earth because of Adam's sin.
That's why the newspapers never have to reprint an obituary column. Why?
Because new people die every day. Every day there is a new list because
people are always dying.
What keeps the mortuaries in business? What keeps the undertakers going?
Why do cemeteries stay in business? Why is it that they never run out of
customers? The answer is simple: Death reigns. That's our heritage from
our spiritual father Adam. He sinned and as a result death now reigns on
Last Monday I took Pastor Sergei Nikolaev from St. Petersburg out to the
Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. We made several stops where he
met with several people who might provide Russian-language literature
for his new seminary. As we were driving away from Wheaton and toward
O'Hare Airport, we stopped at a red light. While we were there, a
funeral procession came down the street—bright lights flashing, followed
by the hearse, followed by a long line of cars. Pastor Nikolaev said,
"What is it?" When I told him it was a funeral procession, he said,
"Must have been someone important."
The Hearse Will Come For You - It doesn't matter whether you are
important or not. Someday you will die. Someday your family and friends
will follow the hearse that will lead to your grave. It happens to all
of us sooner or later. It doesn't matter whether you are rich or not.
Someday you will die. It doesn't matter whether you are a peasant or a
potentate. Someday you will die. In this world, as a direct result of
Adam's sin, death reigns. Someday we'll have your funeral to prove the
The next time you see a hearse, remember "Death reigns."
The next time you drive past a mortuary, remember "Death reigns."
The next time you pass a cemetery, remember "Death reigns."
Ah, but that's only one part of the story. There is a way out. There is
a way to reverse what Adam did. There is a way to overcome the reign of
death. It comes, Paul says, to those who receive God's abundant
provision of grace and the gift of righteousness. That, by the
way, is the whole doctrine of justification in three words.
Justification means that when we receive Christ by faith, we also
receive the "gift of righteousness." It's not earned in any way. It's a
But notice the result of receiving the gift of righteousness.
Those who receive this free gift now reign in life. On one hand,
death reigns; on the other hand, those who know Jesus Christ as Savior
reign as kings right now, in this life and in the life to come.
We live in a dying world, but in this realm of death, we may through
Jesus Christ reign as kings. And in the life to come, we shall reign
forever, rising from the dead, clothed with immortality.
Only God could take a slave and transform him into a king. But that is
what God has done through Jesus Christ.
So what Jesus did is far greater than
what Adam did.
Greater in its nature.
Greater in its power.
Greater in its effect.
MUCH MORE THOSE WHO RECEIVE
THE ABUNDANCE OF GRACE AND OF THE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: pollo mallon oi
ten perisseian tes charitos kai tes doreas tes dikaiosunes lambanontes (PAPMPN):
(Romans 6:23; Isa 61:10; Philippians 3:9)
OF ROMANS 5
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall
be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
For if while 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.
But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the
transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace
of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one,
much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the
gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
And the Law came in that the
transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded
all the more (KJV "did much more abound")
Much more -
This introduces the work of grace. On one hand sin got its just reward
-- death. Grace doesn't work that way and it cannot be measured out in
terms of strict equivalence. As Morris says "Grace is superlative
generosity. Grace is overflowing abundance."
J Vernon McGee
comments on much more in Romans 5:12-21 writing that...
what Paul is (saying is) that we have
much more in Christ than we lost in Adam...Today we are looking
forward to something more wonderful than the Garden of Eden.
explains much more in this passage this way...
In Adam we lost our kingship, but in
Jesus Christ we reign as kings. And we reign much more! Our
spiritual reign is far greater than Adam’s earthly reign, for we share
abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor
I like the way
Haldane explains much more in this verse...
Here the abounding of the gift over
the evil is specified. Those redeemed by the death of Christ are not
merely recovered from the fall, but made to reign through Jesus Christ,
to which they had no title in Adam’s communion. The saved are described
as receiving abundance of grace, or the superabundance,—that is, the
grace that abounds over the loss. This applies to all the redeemed. They
all receive the superabundance of grace; they all receive more than was
lost. They are also said to receive the super abounding of the gift of
righteousness. This refers to the superior righteousness possessed by
the redeemed, which is better than that which in innocence was possessed
by Adam; for theirs is the righteousness of Christ, the righteousness of
Him who is God. To this the righteousness of Adam and of angels cannot
be compared. (Haldane,
R. An Exposition on the Epistle to the Roman. Ages Classic Commentaries)
By Adam's sin death reigned;
but by (through) Christ's righteousness there is not only a period put
to the reign of death, but believers are preferred to reign of life.
In and by the righteousness of Christ we have not only a charter of
pardon, but a patent of honour, are not only freed from our chains, but,
like Joseph, advanced to the second chariot, and made unto our God kings
and priests-not only pardoned, but preferred. See this observed, see
5:10. We are by (through) Christ
and his righteousness entitled to, and instated in, more and greater
privileges than we lost by the offence of Adam. The plaster is wider
than the wound, and more healing than the wound is killing.
Godet has an interesting
comment on much more writing that...
The meaning of much more, is,
purely logical: much more certainly. Unquestionably there is no
doubt that there is a greater abundance of life in Christ than there was
of death-power in Adam. But this is not what the apostle says here. He
is not aiming to establish either a contrast of quality (between life
and death) or a contrast of quantity (more of life than of death). It is
a higher degree of certainty which he enunciates and
demonstrates. Justified, we shall reign still more certainly in
Christ, than as condemned we are dead in Adam. Our future glory is
more certain even than our death; for a more powerful cause, and one
individually assimilated, will make us live still more certainly
than the weak unappropriated cause could make us die. (Godet,
F L: Commentary on Romans. Kregel. 1998)
Receive (more literally "are
(lambano) means means
to take or grasp. It can indicate reaching out to take hold of.
The word receive bears stress.
The limitation has a bearing on what follows. On the one hand sin and
death are universal, on the other hand life is bestowed only upon those
who receive grace. (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
S Lewis Johnson commenting on
those who receive writes that...
In the words there is a hint of how
the work becomes the possession of those for whom it was intended. They
are to receive it. In other words, it becomes theirs by the
appropriation of faith... (cf. see notes
etc.). Incidentally, the expression, the gift of righteousness,
makes it quite clear that justification is something that becomes ours
by grace. It is not the product of works (cf. note
offers a convicting comment on those who receive the abundance of
grace and the gift of righteousness writing...
Note what it is that believing ones
receive: First, abundance of grace: The Cross having met
righteously all the claims of the Divine being, and the Divine throne,
against sinners, God has now spoken to us as He is, in abounding grace,
for "God is Love." Over and over are "abound", abundance used
here to express God's attitude; and the free motion, since the Cross, of
His infinitely loving heart toward sinners, in gracious kindness. Those
who receive God's grace give Him the honor of His graciousness.
Second, Those that receive
this abundance of grace have therewith the gift of
righteousness. What a gift! Apart from works, apart from the Law,
apart from ordinances, apart from worthiness, an out and out gift of
righteousness from God! Many times in teaching this passage to Bible
classes I have asked them to repeat three times over each of these
expressions: The abundance of grace, the gift of
righteousness. We earnestly commend this to you, dear reader! Try
Alas, how few believers have the
courage of faith! We have looked so long at our unworthiness that the
very thought of pushing away from the shore-lines and launching out on
the limitless, fathomless ocean of Divine grace makes us shrink and
waver. When some saint here or there does begin to believe the facts and
walk in shouting liberty, we say (perhaps secretly), "He must be an
especially holy, consecrated man." No, he is just a poor sinner like
you, who is believing in the abundance of grace! And if we hear
some one praising God for the gift of righteousness, because he
is now righteous in Christ before God, we are ready to accuse him of
thinking too highly of himself. No, he is just a poor sinner like you
and me, but one who has dared to believe that he has received an
outright gift of righteousness, and is rejoicing in it. (Romans 5)
(perisseia from peri = over and above from peran =
beyond, over, on the other side) (see related noun in notes on
Romans 5:15) is an exceeding measure, something
above the ordinary and refers to a superabundance of anything. Here it
refers to God's super abundant provision of grace and emphasizes the
matchless, infinite generosity of His provision. He did not just give us
a sample of His grace, but grace overflowing. Who can truly comprehend
this statement! But oh how it should this foretaste cause us to break
forth in heartfelt worship and humble thanksgiving for such an
incomprehensible provision about which Paul speaks in his letter to the
that in the ages to come He (God the
Father) might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness
toward us in Christ Jesus. (see note
My grace is," not
"was," and not "will be;" 'tis flowing
Each hour and each moment my need to supply,
The deeper I dip, still the deeper 'tis growing,
No drought can diminish or dry;
My heart from the future no trouble shall borrow;
Eternal this present provision shall be,
Assured for today and as sure for tomorrow,
Such grace is sufficient for me.
Annie Flint Johnson
from chairo = to
rejoice, be glad)
is God’s generous favor to
undeserving sinners and needy saints.
The grace of God is undeserved,
unsought, and unbought (except that it is made available by the precious
blood of the Lamb of God).
Spurgeon has an interesting note
on grace writing that...
Someone asked me once, “Why do you.
say free grace? Of course, if it is grace, it’s free.” “Oh,
well!” I replied, “I do so to make assurance doubly sure.” We will
always call it, not only grace, but free grace, to make it clear that
God gives his grace freely to sinners,—the undeserving and ungodly. He
gives it without any condition. If, in one place, he says that he
requires repentance, in another place he promises it; if he demands
faith at one moment, he bestows it at another. So grace is always God’s
free gift, and that suits a man who has not a penny in his pocket.
I have walked—as I dare—say
some of you have—by the goldsmiths’ and jewellers’ shops in the Palais
Royal at Paris, and seen the vast amount of wealth that is exhibited
there; and many of you have gone along the great streets of our city,
and seen perfect mines of wealth displayed, and you have said to
yourself,” Ah! I cannot purchase any of these things, because there is
a little ticket hanging down below with certain pounds marked on it, and
I cannot afford to buy them. It is all I can do to get bread and cheese
for those who are at home, so I must leave these luxuries to others.”
But if I should ever pass by a goldsmith’s shop, and see a ticket
bearing the words, “Free gift!” I should be willing to take a few
things at that price. I am glad that you smile at that expression,
because those are my Master’s terms. He has treasures worth more than
the most glorious jeweller’s shop ever contained, and they are all free
gifts to all who trust him. I dare not laugh at you, but I shall have to
blame and condemn you, if eternal life be God’s free gift, and yet you
will not say, “I will take it, and have it for ever.” You would like
to take jewellery for nothing, but you will not accept everlasting life
mad pardon for nothing by simply trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.
says that grace
refers to that favor which God did at
Calvary when He stepped down from His judgment throne to take upon
Himself the guilt and penalty of human sin. In the case of the Greek,
the favor was done to a friend, never an enemy. In the case of God it
was an enemy, the sinner, bitter in his hatred of God, for whom the
favor was done. God has no strings tied to the salvation He procured for
man at the Cross. Salvation is given the believing sinner out of the
pure generosity of God’s heart. The Greek word referred to an action
that was beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected, and was
therefore commendable. What a description of that which took place at
the Cross! (Wuest,
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
’Twas grace that wrote my name
In life’s eternal book;
’Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,
Who all my sorrows took. - Toplady
Gift of righteousness - If it is a gift, it is not something that
we can earn. We could never have earned righteousness (right standing
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that...
It is not only that we are forgiven, but over and above being forgiven,
the righteousness of Jesus Christ is put to our account, is put upon us.
… Unfallen Adam was righteous, but it was his own righteousness as a
created being, it was the righteousness of a man. Adam never had the
righteousness of Jesus Christ upon him. What he lost was his own
righteousness. But you and I are not merely given back a human
righteousness, the righteousness that Adam had before he fell—we are
given the righteousness of Jesus Christ. “Much more”—abundance,
superabundance—give full weight to it! We receive this abundance of
grace and the gift of righteousness. (Romans: An Exposition of Chapter
5, Assurance Zondervan, 1972)
from didomi = to
give) refers to a free gift and emphasizes the gratuitous character of
the gift. Dorea describes that which is given or transferred
freely by one person to another, without price or compensation.
Whereas dorea (gift) emphasizes freeness, charisma
(free gift) highlights the gracious aspect of what God has done.
Denny has a
comment that speaks to our eternal security writing that...
The abundance of the grace and of the
gift which consists in righteousness has to be received by faith. But
when by faith a connection is formed with Christ, the consequences of
that connection, as more agreeable t what we know of God's nature, can
be more surely counted upon than the consequences of our natural
connection with Adam. (Nicoll, W Robertson, Editor: Expositors Greek
Testament: 5 Volumes. Out of print. Search Google)
[word study] from
dikaios [word study]
= being proper or right in the
sense of being fully justified being or in accordance with what God
requires) is the quality of being upright. In its simplest sense
conveys the idea of conformity to a standard or norm. In this sense
righteousness is the opposite of hamartia (sin), which is defined as
missing of the mark set by God.
In this sense righteousness is the opposite of hamartia (sin),
which is defined as missing of the mark set by God.
rightness of character before God and rightness of actions before men.
to read Pastor Ray Pritchard's interesting analysis of righteousness
in the Gospel of Matthew).
The English word
righteousness comes from a root word that means “straightness.”
It refers to a state that conforms to an authoritative standard.
Righteousness is a moral concept. God’s character is the definition and
source of all righteousness. God is totally righteous because He is
totally as He should be. The righteousness of God is all that God is,
all that He commands, all that He demands, all that He approves, all
that He provides through Christ the Righteous One.
Jesus Thy Blood and righteousnessPlay)
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head. (
This is the righteousness bestowed by God on the
basis of faith (see notes
gives to man far more than man lost in Adam—more indeed than Adam ever
had! The blessing that comes from Christ is infinitely greater.
Spanish coins before 1492 show the
Strait of Gibraltar with the Latin inscription Ne plus ultra—no
more beyond. But when Columbus returned from his voyages of discovery,
they issued a new coinage, and the inscription read Plus ultra—more
beyond. When the Lord Jesus Christ passed through the gates of death,
men who saw Him go may have thought He had reached the end. But when He
came back from the dead, He brought us abundance of grace and of the
gift of the righteousness of God. Now we say, “There is everything
here, and more beyond.” Abundantly more. (Barnhouse, D. G. God's
Grace: Romans 5:12-21. Grand Rapids, MI.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing
Adam Clarke writes that...
the grace of God in the Gospel abounds beyond, or very far exceeds, the
mere reversing of the sufferings brought upon mankind by Adam’s one
offence; as it bestows a vast surplus of blessings which have no
relation to that offence, but to the many offences which mankind have
committed, and to the exuberance of the Divine grace.
MUCH MORE -
A statement I heard at an Easter service stays with me: “More has been
gained in the resurrection of Jesus than was lost in the fall.” More
gained than lost? Can it be true?
Each day we experience the damage caused by sin entering our world.
Greed, injustice, and cruelty all trace their origins back to Adam and
Eve’s decision to follow their own path rather than God’s (Gen. 3). The
legacy of their disobedience is passed down to every generation. Without
God’s intervention, we would be in a hopeless situation. But Jesus
overpowered sin through His cross and conquered death through His
The victory of Christ is celebrated in Romans 5, often called the “much
more” chapter of the New Testament, where Paul contrasts the devastation
caused by sin with the restoring power of God’s grace. In every case,
grace overpowers the consequences of sin. In a grand conclusion, Paul
says: “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” (Ro 5:20, 21).
No matter how much we have personally lost because of sin, we have
gained far more through the resurrection victory of Christ. — David C.
More! - Our Daily Bread)
Sin and despair, like the sea-waves
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater—yes, grace untold—
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross. —Johnston
© Renewal 1939 Hope Publishing.
Our sin is great—God’s grace is greater.
WILL REIGN IN LIFE THROUGH
THE ONE JESUS CHRIST: en zoe basileusousin (3PFAI) dia tou enos iesou christou: (Romans
2 Timothy 2:12;
1 Peter 2:9;
Will reign in
life - This phrase has been understood two ways. Some commentators
(Newell, Vine, F B Meyer, MacDonald, Constable, Wiersbe) see this reign
as beginning in this present life and culminating in the believers reign
as kings with Christ in His Millennial kingdom and forever. Others
(Cranfield, S Lewis Johnson, John Piper) take the future tense of
reign as referring not to our reigning in this present life but
only referring to our reign in the future life. I favor the former
interpretation. Some quote Paul's statement to the Corinthians ("you
have become kings without us" 1Cor 4:8) as evidence to support the fact
that believers don't reign in this life, but in that passage Paul was
clearly using that phrase in biting irony. I would counter the
Corinthians passage with the fact that Paul clearly states that God has
"raised us up with Him (Christ) and seated us with Him in the heavenly
places in Christ Jesus". (see note
They reign in that righteous
life with their Lord and Savior. They possess the very righteous,
glorious, and eternal life of God Himself.
What grace this is! We are not only
delivered from death’s reign as a tyrant over us, but we reign as kings,
enjoying life now and eternally. Do we really understand and appreciate
this? Do we live as the royalty of heaven, or do we grovel among the
muckheaps of this world? (MacDonald,
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
comment that will reign in life...
implies the believer’s resurrection
and participation in Jesus Christ’s reign as well as our reigning in
this life. (Romans 5 Expository Notes)
Paul does not explain the meaning of
reigning in life, but (with Lloyd-Jones, pp. 263ff.) we may
think of the fact that sin has no dominion over the believer (see note
believers are “more than conquerors” (see note
and they can do all things through Christ (see note
And, of course, they look forward to a more complete reign (Matt. 25:34;
Adam’s sin brought condemnation, but grace reverses this. And not only
does it reverse it, but it does much more. (Morris,
L. The Epistle to the Romans. W. B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press)
comments that reign in life is...
Contrasted...to this: reign of
death, (and thus) the expression denotes the mode or nature of the
reign of believers. A new, holy, inexhaustible, and victorious vitality
will pervade those receivers of righteousness, and make them so many
kings. If the collective condemnation could make each of them a subject
of death, the conclusion therefrom should be that their individual
justification will make each of them a king in life. (Godet,
F L: Commentary on Romans. Kregel. 1998)
Handbook writes that will rule in life...
should not be translated in such a
way as to imply that these persons will have power over other
individuals as earthly rulers. Rather they will have spiritual strength,
and this is sometimes expressed as “they will be strong in their lives,”
“they will live with strength,” or “they will live overcoming.” (The
United Bible Societies' New Testament Handbook Series
(basileuo from basileús = a king) means to rule as a king, with
implication of complete authority and right to control in an absolute
Unlike Adam’s act, Christ’s act
has, accomplished (and will complete) exactly what He intended for ...
He who began a good work in you will
perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (see note
To reign in life through Christ is also to have power over sin. Later in
this letter Paul says,
Thanks be to God that though you were slaves of
sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to
which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became
slaves of righteousness (see note
Briscoe has an interesting discussion of what it means to reign in
life writing that this phrase...
speaks of the quality of life which
redeemed individuals are to demonstrate. Godet remarks, “Death reigns;
it is a tyrant. But life does not reign; it has not subjects; it makes
A chilling but fascinating story in
the first chapter of Judges offers insight into our discussion. After
Joshua’s leadership there was some confusion as to who should deal with
the troublesome Canaanites, and the Lord settled the problem by sending
the tribe of Judah. Along with Simeon, Judah routed the people of Bezek,
captured Adoni-Bezek, and cut off his big toes and his thumbs. He was
remarkably philosophical about his mutilation saying: “Seventy kings
with their thumbs and big toes cut off have picked up scraps under my
table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them” (see note
Big toes give balance and thumbs
provide grip. Without either a king cannot walk or grasp his sword. He
must wobble about through life unarmed and unrespected. If, in addition
to this, he must beg for scraps of food from another’s table, he is a
king in name only. The possibility of those who have been placed under
the reign of grace not reigning in life is always before God’s people.
For them to hobble through life rather than stride in triumph and to
grovel under a tyrant’s table rather than feed sumptuously from the
table prepared for them is a tragedy of major proportions. Should they
be unable to lay hold of the sword given to them and to get a grip on
the situations they encounter, their state occasions great concern. This
is what is meant by not reigning in life. There are three relevant
expressions that clearly state the means whereby God’s people reign in
life. First, they receive “the gift of righteousness”; second, they
receive “abundance of grace”; and third, they reign in life “through
Jesus Christ.” (Briscoe,
D. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. The Preacher's Commentary Series. New
Testament. 2003. Thomas Nelson
Through the one (Adam)...through the One (Christ) - These
parallel phrases give added emphasis to the one real point of comparison
between Adam and Christ, namely, the fact that each man's action is
determinative for the life of the many to whom they are related.
describes the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate.
It means the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical,
which alone belongs to God the Giver of life. In the Greek writings of
Homer zoe meant ‘living’ referring to ‘substance or property’,
without which there would not be life. After Homer it means existence as
opposed to death.
meaningful life, life on the "highest plane", life that really is
worthwhile is found only in "the promise of life in Christ Jesus" (see
2 Timothy 1:1)
Who came so that we might have life and might have it abundantly (Jn
10:10). This life
is "in Christ Jesus" and therefore is a life that is eternal, for He is
eternal and our union with Him conveys eternality (right now...in this
present age! - see Newell's comments below regarding the believer's
reign in life).
Vine comments that...
contrast to death reigned would have been life shall reign,
but the contrast is far greater than this. It is not that life reigns
instead of death, but that those who receive grace will themselves reign
in life. That we are to reign in life involves much more than
participation in eternal life; it indicates the activity of life in
fellowship with Christ in His kingdom. (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
this is eternal life, that they may
know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. (Jn
He is the one who has overcome death and said, "Because I live, you
shall live also")
quality of life then is the present possession of the believer because
of his or her relationship with the Lamb Who takes away the sins of the
world and it is also our future hope
when we will receive our glorified bodies, have every tear wiped away
and be forever free from sin, sickness, sorrow, suffering, and death
Wayne Barber adds...
To reign in life is the much
more effect that Jesus has had for you and me. It goes back to the first
part of the chapter. Now I am able to bear up under. Now I am able to
deal with all the tribulation and suffering and sorrow in this world
Do you understand the effect God has had on your life? Maybe you don’t
understand the life that is within you. That doesn’t mean that it is not
going to be difficult on the outside, but the victory is on the inside!
Did you know that victory for the Christian is not a goal? We don’t work
toward victory! We come from it! It’s already been won in Jesus Christ.
We rule and reign in His life. In other words, the moment I surrender to
Him, the moment I surrender to His word, then His life in me begins to
strengthen me to be and to do what I never could do before! How many
Christians even understand that? We forget that in the life, He gives us
power over the sin that used to afflict us when we were in Adam. (See
Romans 5:15-17 Are You in Adam or in Christ?)
As believers, we know from
experience as well as from Scripture that we are still affected by sin,
still clothed in the sinful rags of the old self (see
Chart contrasting in the flesh vs in the Spirit)
is no longer the dominant
nature or the overbearing master of a believer. In Christ we are no
longer victims of sin but victors over
and we can exclaim...
thanks be to God, Who gives us the
victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Cor 15:57)
William Newell expounds on the
saint's reign in life writing that...
God now uses the words much more
applying them to those who accept the abundance of His grace and
of His gift of righteousness, saying these shall reign as
kings in life through the One Jesus Christ.
Look now at this expression, reign
as kings in life. I am writing this during the week of the
coronation of George VI of England, and have heard of the splendors with
which the ceremony was attended; and we do thank God for the British
Empire, and honor, with her subjects, her monarch. But, ah, believer,
look closely at these words of Paul, reign in life. Here
is a kingdom before which all of earth is dust. And who are the kings
here? Believers! Those whose humble faith has received the abundance
of grace and of the gift of righteousness -- these shall reign
as kings through Jesus Christ.
God has "the ages to come" in which
to manifest fully this mighty reigning! But it is already begun for
those in Christ. Gideon, speaking of certain Israelites, asked the kings
of Midian, "What manner of men were they?" "As thou art, so were they, "
they answered; "each one resembled the children of a king." (see note
They shall reign forever and ever is God's description of the
saints of the New Jerusalem (see note
see also the
Millennial Reign of the Saints).
And their reign has already, in this
life, begun; because they are in Christ the mighty Victor! Satan would
fain keep from your ears this news, believer, that you stand in the
abundance of God's grace; that you have received the gift of
righteousness in Christ; and that you are to reign as a king
in life now and forever, through the One Jesus Christ.
May God awaken us to the facts!
(Note: 'When Israel inquired
of the Lord about Saul, the eon of Kish, who had been anointed as their
King (for they could not find him), the Lord answered, you remember'
"Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff." "And they ran and fetched
him thence" (1Sa 10:22-23). How sad if some of us who have received the
abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, and whom God
desires to be reigning in life in Christ, have gotten ourselves hidden
"among the stuff, "-of earthly goods, and ambitions, "religious"
traditions, and the literature of this world!)
Satan is deathly jealous of the
Church of God, which is already in the heavenlies, from which he is soon
to be cast out (see notes
He knows that the Church will share Christ's throne and soon reign with
Him in indescribable glory (see notes
). Therefore he will blind
you, if he can, to your present place of royal power of life in Christ
It will, we are sure, be a matter of
fathomless regret to many Christians, at Christ's coming, that their
lives on earth were characterized by doubt, defeat and depression;
rather than by victorious reigning in life in Christ. God has no
favorites. Each one who is in Christ has a complete Christ (see note
The exhortations of the Epistles are addressed alike to all.
David Livingstone early wrote in his
"I have found that I have no unusual
endowments of intellect, but I this day resolved that I would be an
Concerning such it is written,
"Considering the issue of their
manner of life, imitate their faith" (see note
Let us refuse
to be content with a Christian existence that cannot finally be summed
up as "He reigned in life through Jesus Christ, "--- over sin, Satan,
the world, difficulties, adverse surroundings and circumstances.
Let us remember
the apostles, the martyrs. Reformers, godly Puritans, the holy
and the humble saints we know, whose existence is described by Paul's
glorious phrase reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
><> ><> ><>
F B Meyer
(Our Daily Homily) comments on They which receive abundance
of grace … shall reign in life-
All God’s dealings with us
are on the same principle. As we received Christ Jesus the Lord, so
we must walk in Him. Whether it be justification or sanctification;
or reigning in life that is under consideration — the same mighty
principles underlie and control the Divine gifts and our participation
in them. We receive reconciliation as a gift at the beginning of our
Christian life, and we have to receive all else by the same medium to
the end. For ever and for ever we have just to wait till God fill us, as
the flower-cups that are now filled with sunshine and now with dew or
You have already received
the reconciliation (Romans
5:11). — Unable to earn it by your own
endeavors, you were at last content to receive it as a free gift placed
into your open hand; now you have to maintain the same position with
respect to all the spiritual gifts that you need for the maintenance of
a godly life, and to enable you to reign. Faith — simple, open-handed,
heaven-regarding faith — is the one unchanging law of the holy life.
“Trusting Jesus, that is all.”
This reigning in life is not
to be relegated to the unseen and future. — It is meant to be our
present experience. He hath made us kings to God, even the Father. We
are called to the royalty
of men, the abundance, the freedom, the
consciousness of power and victory, which we are wont to associate with
those who reign. To reign in the ordinary life of the home, the shop,
the counting-house — such is our high calling in Christ Jesus. And it
may be ours if we receive “abundance of grace” of the one Man, Jesus
><> ><> ><>
F B Meyer
(Our Daily Walk) -
REIGNING IN LIFE
- IT WOULD take a lifetime--nay, it
will demand eternity--to explore the treasures of this paragraph from
which our text is taken. Let us not, however, stand gazing into heaven,
but avail ourselves of the privilege offered us during our earthly life
of reigning through the One, even Jesus Christ. Do not postpone the
fulfilment of this promise! We may have to wait for the future life to
unfold depths of meaning which now transcend our thought; but any fair
reading of this radiant verse compels us to appropriate it for here and
But, "how can these things be?" He, a
master in Israel asked that question of Christ! This blessed life of
victory is only possible to those who have been born from above. By
nature we were born from below into the first Adam, who was "a living
soul." We must be
born from above, into the second Adam, who becomes to
all who trust in Him a Life-giving spirit (1Co
which is born of the flesh is flesh, and cannot of itself rise into the
Spirit; the Holy Spirit must stoop to lift it into union with Himself.
But He will do this for you, if only you will lift your heart to Christ
in simple faith and surrender.
The difference it will make! Each
life has been planned by God with the intention of training it for high
service here and beyond; and whatever happens in life, there is always