The Law of Moses could not justify (4:15; cf. Acts 13:39); rather, peace with God comes through faith, and Abraham is an illustration of this. The importance of this is seen in the actions (love) of God. We understand the virtue in giving ourselves up for another, but this is generally done toward those we know and like. God, on the other hand, did this for all those who were (are) enemies of His.
Two men came into this world, Paul says. The first, Adam, sinned and brought death into the world because of his sin; consequently, death passed to all men. The sting of sin is death because all have sinned. Until the time of the Lord’s anointed the only way to address the sin that man was guilty of was through sacrifice. Man, however, was not held to account like the Law of Moses held him accountable, and this was only applied to the Jewish man. To say it differently, God did not impute sin against those who lived previous to God revealing His law through Moses (5:13). When man died he died as a result of his sin, but that sin was not held against him like it came to be (cf. Acts 17:30-31).
The Law of Moses’ intent, Paul noted, was to point out the seriousness of sin (3:20), to bring wrath (4:15), and to testify to the “law of faith” (3:21-22, 27). The second man, Jesus, came into this world and brought life (5:15, 17b). Let me say it a little differently, a summary of the point in 5:13-17:
- By virtue of what Adam did he brought death and condemnation to all.
- The Law of Moses made sin known and the condemnation real (3:20; 4:15).
- Jesus lived under the law to redeem those who could not redeem themselves with the giving up of His own life (Galatians 4:4-5).
- By virtue of what Jesus did He brought life and justification to all.
What the Law could not do, Jesus did. The life He lived and died dealt with sin adequately (perfectly); the victory in Jesus removes one from this world’s thinking and prepares him for the next (cf. Colossians 3:1-12). Each man brought something into the world, but only one Man was able to take one from this world victorious (2 Timothy 1:10).
Old Testament animal sacrifices had an unfortunate quality: they were inadequate to achieve what was desired – sin’s ultimate removal. The sting of death still existed; who can take this sting away, but the Lord (cf. 5:1)?
John 3:16 is a well-known verse, but Romans 5:6-8 gives us a better sense of John 3:16. God’s love was shown in His own action for the benefit of His creation, especially man.