Romans 5:21

21 so that, 1as sin reigned in death, 2grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:21 Meaning and Commentary

Romans 5:21

That as sin hath reigned unto death
This is another end of the law's entrance, or rather an illustration of the grace of God, by comparing the reigns of sin and grace together: sin has such a power over man in a state of nature, as amounts to a dominion; it has not only an enticing, ensnaring power, to draw into a compliance with it, and an obstructive power to hinder that which is good, and an operative one of that which is evil, and a captivating, enslaving one to the same; but it has a kingly, governing, and commanding power: its dominion is universal as to men, and with respect both to the members of the body, and faculties of the soul; it is supported by laws, which are its lusts; and has its voluntary subjects, to whom it gives wages; its reign is very cruel and tyrannical; it is "unto death" corporeal, moral, or spiritual, and eternal. The ancient Jews often represent sin in the same light; they frequently speak F8 of (jlwv erh ruy) , "the corruption of nature reigning" over men; and say F9: that he is (Klm) "a king" over the several members of the body, which answer to him at the word of command. "The old and foolish king" in ( Ecclesiastes 4:13 ) , is commonly interpreted by them of sin; which they say F11 is called "a king", because he rules in the world, over the children of men, and because all hearken to him: it is a petition much used by them F12,

``let not the evil imagination or corruption of nature "rule" over me:''

and on the other hand, they represent grace, or a principle of goodness, as a king, reigning over the corruption of nature; thus interpreting these words, "my son, fear thou the Lord and the king", they ask F13,

``who is the king? the king (say they) (bwj ruy Klmh) , is "the good imagination", or principle of goodness, who reigns over the evil imagination, which is called a king.''

And in another place F14 they say of a good man, that he (bwj ruy Kylmh) , "caused the good imagination to reign" over the evil one; with which in some measure agrees what follows:

even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life,
by Jesus Christ our Lord;
by grace is meant, either grace as it is in the heart of God; which reigns or bears sway in man's salvation in all the parts of it, "through righteousness"; consistent with the justice of God, in a way in which that is glorified, through the redemption of Christ: it reigns "unto eternal life"; grace has promised, prepared it, and makes meet for it, and will introduce into it, and freely give it: it reigns "by Jesus Christ"; grace reigns by him, righteousness, or justice, is glorified by him, and eternal life is in him, through him, and by him: or grace as it is in the hearts of converted persons, is meant where it reigns, has the dominion, is the governing principle, and that in a way of righteousness and true holiness; and will reign until it is perfected in glory, or is crowned with eternal life; all which are by Jesus Christ, namely, grace, righteousness, and life.


F8 T. Bab. Succa, fol. 52. 1. & Sanhedrin, fol. 91. 2.
F9 Abot. R. Nathan, c. 16. fol. 5. 2. Targum in Eccl. ix. 14. Midrash Koheleth, fol. 80. 1.
F11 Zohar in Gen. fol. 102. 1. Midrash Koheleth, fol. 70. 2. Caphtor, fol. 20. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 14. 4. Jarchi in Eccl. iv. 13.
F12 T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 60. 1. Shaare Zion, fol. 73. 1. Seder Tephiltot, fol. 3. 1. Ed. Basil.
F13 Bemidbar Rabba, fol. 218. 1.
F14 Midrash Koheleth, fol. 78. 3.

Romans 5:21 In-Context

19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Cross References 2

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.