Romans 5-8

Jesus died for sinners, proving God’s love.  Just as sin came into the world through Adam’s actions, Jesus’ obedience lead to justification and salvation.  Baptism unites us with Jesus in his death, and in so doing, we participate in Jesus’ victory over sin.  Do not let sin rule over you, but present yourselves to God and let grace have dominion, so that you may have eternal life.  The law has effect during a person’s lifetime, but not after death; we have died to the law through Christ, so the law that held us captive is no longer in effect; we are, instead, slaves of the Spirit.  This is not to say the law is evil and brings death; rather, the law makes us realize the power of sin, and it is sin that leads to death.  Therefore do not live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, so that those united with Christ will set all of creation free from its decay.  Nothing will separate us from the love of Christ–not hardship, persecution, famine, angels, rulers, life, or death.

Commentary:

Here, both death and sin are personified.  They are portrayed as slave masters holding power over humans (ex. 6:6, 6:9), and from whose enslavement humans can be freed.  Sin has a body (6:6) that can be destroyed, and one can be dead to sin (6:11).

Paul’s apocalyptic beliefs come through in 8:18-23:

 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

According to Paul, creation itself is in a state of evil.  All of creation has been “groaning as in the pains of childbirth”, which is a common metaphor for an imminent apocalypse (Mt 24:8, Mk 13:8).  After this apocalypse, “we” will be redeemed and the world will be liberated from decay.

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