A Fresh Look At Romans -Chapter 5
Romans Chapter 5
Another problem that all Christians faced in Rome was persecution by Rome. While the Roman Government encouraged citizens in the extended Empire to continue with their own religion, it also demanded allegiance to Caesar, who at various times was promoted to be God. This obviously was offensive to the Jews who, in the Ten Commandments, were taught that there is only one God. The Christians also believed the same, and so both these groups became a problem to some of the Caesars.
Historically the Jews had at times been thrown out of Rome. The early Church, as it was seen to be a treat to the rule of law and order and because of its rather strange teaching (the Communion feast), was persecuted in the most horrible ways. Christians were thrown to the lions in the Coliseum; some were dragged behind racing chariots to entertain the blood thirsty crowds. Nero used Christians as human torches by covering them in tar and setting them alight.
So Paul writes to encourage the Christians in Rome to stand firm, even in the face of severe persecution. Peter and James also wrote to Christians, at about the same time, encouraging them to see the bad things that were happening to them as opportunities to grow in faith (James 1:1; 2: 1 Peter 1:6-9). Paul encouraged the Roman Christians to “glory in their tribulation” as he showed them in his own life. In fact Paul explains that tribulations produce perseverance, character and hope (Romans 5:3-5).
Paul also reminds them that they are not alone in this but are empowered by the Holy Spirit that God poured out into their hearts;."and hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us". (Romans 5:5 NIV). When Peter preached to the Jews (some from Rome; Acts 2:10) he told them after being asked by them “what must we do?” (Acts2:37) that they needed to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
The writer of this powerful letter then reminds the readers that Christ went to the cross to die in our place. It was God's love that brought this gift and now Christians bring that love into the world. Paul makes a comparison between Adam, who brought sin into the world and Christ, who paid the price for sin. This chapter deals with several important issues including justification, sanctification and righteousness. Later Paul is going to also write about glorification The change of our status with God is justification. The change in our state is sanctification. This word is used in the subjunctive case, meaning it is a continues process.
Our new life in Christ is an on going process as we live a righteous life, and so are declared to be right with God. What Paul wants to establish without a shadow of a doubt, is that salvation is a free gift from God and cannot be earned or received by birth right or by works.
The Roman Christians then, like us today, had to realise their need and accept God’s great gift of salvation that is made available to all. When the going got really difficult then hope of what will keeps Christians going. In the next chapter he will tells them, and also us today, how they are born again in the waters of baptism, to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3,4).
References: NIV translation used by permission Copyright 1995 by The Zondervan Corporation
Barclay, W. The Book of Romans
Bruce, F. F. Romans