We have been reconciled in our suffering through His suffering
An examination of Romans 5.
5:1 Therefore, having been justified by emunah (trust/faithfulness),
Shaul/Paul asks us to remember what has already been said regarding the accountability of all humanity, the advantage of the Y’hudim, the acceptance of all who trust in the gift of G-d (Salvation) and our identity in trust having been recognized as children of Avraham.
It is through trusting in G-d’s Son and His covering/wiping sacrificial death and resurrection that we have been (notice the past tense) justified. What does justification mean to the modern reader in light of its contextual meaning to Paul’s historical audience?
The Greek dikaioō essentially means, to be pronounced righteous. Therefore, through trusting G-d in Messiah’s saving work we have become tzaddikim—righteous ones. This title, once reserved only for the heroes of Tanakh is now placed upon all who believe by trusting. It is interesting to note that Jewish mystical teaching suggests that there are 36 tzaddikim throughout the world in any given generation, however in my opinion and based on the teaching of Rav Shaul the Emissary of Mashiyach Yeshua, this is a gross underestimate. Barukh HaShem—Blessing comes from YHVH.
We have shalom (Wholeness, structural integrity, security, deep peace) with G-d through our Lord Yeshua ha-Mashiyach,
It is of fundamental importance that we understand that it is not trust in G-d alone that saves and justifies: rather it is the specific kind of trust that is born of the trust born sacrifice of Yeshua and His resurrection that saves and justifies. Only in this kind of trust (emunah) can we truly know the shalom of G-d. The Good News is that this is the trust that we have and because of this we have—past, present and future tense—shalom. Even more so, for we have received Sar Shalom—The Prince of Peace, Messiah Yeshua.
2 through whom we have entered by trust into this chesed (Mercy, grace, and loving kindness) in which we stand; and we rejoice in hope of the glory of G-d.
Shaul/Paul continues to speak of Yeshua—you’d think he has meet Him face to face or something.
How have we entered (past tense)? By trust. What have we entered into? Chesed, mercy, grace, loving kindness. We have entered into a continuing state of mercy, grace and loving kindness. This is the strength by which we stand firm.
In what hope do we rejoice? In the hope of the Glory of G-d. What does the Glory of G-d look like? “It is the Glory of G-d to conceal a matter and it is the Glory of kings to search it out.” (Proverbs 25:2) The concealed matter has been found only by one King, King Yeshua the Son of HaShem. What is the Glory of G-d? His Glory is light, “and the earth shone with His glory.” (Ezekiel 43:2) When we hope we are looking to something that has yet to be fully realized. Light opens the way before us in this dark world, we no longer wander blindly flailing our way through the darkness, the hope of His Glory revealed leads the way.
G-d’s Glory is a reflection of His character. We teach that “woman is the glory of man and that man is the glory of G-d. For a man ought not to wear his hair in an effeminate way, hanging down, since he is the image and glory of God; and the woman is the glory of man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7)
We understand that the Son will come in the glory of His Father, “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father.” (Matthew 16:27) In part, we reflect that same glory. While we experience the guiding light of hope in Yeshua we also become—in ourselves—a guiding light to others who are walking in darkness. “For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you.” (Isaiah 60:2)
3 And not only this, but we also boast while we are in the midst of our suffering, knowing that pressure brings about patient waiting; 4 and patient waiting proves character; and proven character produces hope;
But wait there’s more, remember when Paul told us that hypocritical actions were no cause to boast before G-d? Now he juxtaposes that concept with a right example of boasting, a form of boasting that promotes the work of G-d in the greatest struggles of life.
I recall the first time I ever read this verse, “Are you kidding me?” I thought, “What kind of fakuchtah nonsense is this? You want me to boast about how good G-d is while I’m suffering? Are you completely meshugga? I don’t want to be patient, I want to be healed now and free of suffering. I don’t want my character proved, I don’t see any hope in any of this.”
Fortunately for me G-d didn’t intend for me to manufacture my own hope, He didn’t require me to see the truth in any of my suffering. Instead He came along side me and suffered with me. What had been anathema to me has become my natural inclination in G-d, the more I have suffered the more His patience has been made available to me, the longer I have waited the more His faithfulness has been revealed, the impatience of selfishness is becoming the proven character of G-d in me and what is more I have done none of it. All this has born the fruit of hope. How ironic that the very thing the adversary might have used to destroy my trust was the very thing that strengthened it and more than that, it was the very thing that added hope to my trust.
Let me now dust away the foolish formula of some that teach that we should be boasting about the suffering itself. “Boast about this cancer,” they say, “Glory to G-d,” they say. Is cancer the glory of G-d? Is suffering the result of a sinless creator? A curse on it! No, never. Suffering itself is the result of sin’s entering the world. This Scripture does not instruct us to boast in the suffering, rather it says that “in our suffering we are to boast of our hope in Yeshua, in G-d.” Let me be clear, death is garbage, suffering is abhorrent, but G-d is worth boasting about, Messiah is worthy of our boasting, for He is the One who has swallowed up death with victory.
Notice the progression of verses 3-4: firstly we boast about G-d, then we take that knowledge as a secure foundation and hold tight to it in Messiah, after this we do the only thing a weak helpless sufferer can do, we let go and wait. Why? Because He never lets go. Letting go is the price of freedom.
Waiting is letting go. We don’t produce patience, G-d produces patience in us. We don’t build character, G-d builds His character in us. We don’t produce hope, G-d does. He is our hope--Ha-tikvah!
5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of G-d has been poured out within our hearts through the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) who was given to us.
Why is it that hope doesn’t disappoint? It is because the love of HaShem has been (past tense) poured out (like the oil of the anointing of kings) within (not outside of) our core being (in Hebrew context the heart l’vav is the intersection of all the parts of the whole person, it is a metaphor for the center of our being) through the person of the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit, the Spirit of G-d, the Spirit of Yeshua) who was (past tense) given (not a free gift but a gift which cost Yeshua everything) to us—we who received Him in humility.
6 For while we were still without strength, at the right time Messiah died for the ungodly.
We are reminded here yet again that we were not redeemed through our own strength or action but through Messiah alone. Messiah entered time at a point when our weakness, our inability to save ourselves was most profoundly manifest in us. Messiah entered history at the perfect time in order to fill to perfection the requirements of the Tanakh and her prophetic pronouncement of Him. He also entered into the lives of each of us as individuals at the perfect time, while we were weak, suffering, without strength to save ourselves, He entered our chronology and although we were rebellious people, He died for us.
7 For one will hardly die for a good person; though perhaps for a tzadik (a righteous person) someone might dare to die.
In fact, having seen the end from the beginning Messiah died for the righteousness that was to come through His righteousness.
8 But G-d demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us.
The crucifixion and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua was and is a physical reality, a metaphysical transformation, a kinetic event, and an historical and eternal demonstration of G-d’s love. Our salvation preceded our consent and took place in the midst of our disobedience.
9 Much more then, having now been justified (given right standing before G-d) by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of G-d through Him.
Now that we are secure in our justified position before and in G-d through the blood (sacrificial and atoning death) of Messiah, we need no longer be concerned with the wrath of G-d because we have (past tense) been saved from condemnation and have entered into discipline.
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to G-d through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
We were reconciled through death, we are saved by life. Here we understand that death is a vehicle whereas life is a person. Death was used by G-d to defeat itself but Life Himself has become our life, having swallowed up death in victory.
We were reconciled through Yeshua’s death and we are saved by His life.
11 And not only this, but we also rejoice in G-d through our Lord Yeshua ha-Mashiyach, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Again we rejoice, we boast in G-d through Yeshua our lord because we have been reconciled in our suffering through His suffering.
12 Therefore, just as through one Anthropos (human being) sin entered into the kosmos (world), and death through sin, and so death spread to all humanity, because all have missed the mark (sinned)--
It is here that many will want to address the so called doctrine of original sin. While the scope of this commentary does not allow for an in depth analysis of the doctrine of original sin, there are some important presumptions that need to be addressed regarding—at very least—the rigid and often incorrect Augustinian view of early Christianity.
To put the above passage another way, “It was through the rebellion of one human being that sin entered the world and death using sin as a vehicle also entered. Having entered, death was passed on to all humanity; because, both as a race and as individuals we have chosen to miss the mark with regard to G-d’s standard.”
Firstly it should be observed that this passage doesn’t presume guilt upon the inception of each human being, rather is states that all have missed the mark. It is important to note that death is a vehicle that finds its fuel in the errors of humanity. This does not mean that the components that make up the fuel are automatically guilty. One of the best ways to explain the inherent sin nature is to tell a parable, in Hebrew mashlam.
Terra, Chavah and the Poppy – a mashlam of Yaakov:
There was once a righteous father who had a beautiful daughter name Chavah. When his daughter came of age he married her to a young man named Terra and as a wedding gift he purchased some fine farm land in a remote and serene area of the country, in a place named Olam. Before he released his daughter and son in law to go to their new home he gave them a solemn warning:
“There is an enemy of our tribe who seeks out our barley crops and seeds them with a dangerous plant called a poppy. This plant grows among the barley and produces beautiful flowers with pods that are consumed by our enemies to practice their dark religion. As soon as you see these plants among the grain, destroy them. Do not use these plants or they will cause you to become very ill and die.”
Both Terra and Chavah agreed to heed his advice and they left for their new home filled with great excitement. One night soon after they had planted their first barley crop, the father’s enemy crept into the field and sowed the seeds of the poppy among the grain furrows. Some months hence when Terra and Chavah began to harvest the barley they noticed poppies growing among the grain. Chavah said to Terra, “Look how beautiful they are.”
“But your father told us to destroy them if we ever saw them.”
“Surely if father had seen them and how beautiful they are he would never have told us to destroy them.”
“Okay,” Terra conceded, “lets pick them then, we can find a use for them tonight after we have finished binding the sheaves.”
So, that evening Terra and Chavah crushed and consumed the poppy pods for the first time. The following morning they felt guilty for what they had done and resolved not to use the poppy again but the next night, being overwhelmed with desire for the poppies euphoria inducing properties they gave in and consumed the poppy for the second time. Having now become addicts they decided to grow poppies alongside their barley crop to feed their addiction.
One year later Chavah gave birth to her first child and named him kosmo. Kosmo was a frail child who suffered from fevers and shaking sickness. One night Chavah and Terra concluded that the child might benefit from the poppy and so they administered the oil to their child. The child, who had been born with an inherited addiction to the poppy oil, soon became a frequent user of the oil and as he grew he developed more effective ways of propagating and using it.
As time went by many generations of addicted children were born to the children of Chavah and Terra and thus the perpetual cycle of poppy consumption continued throughout the generations in the land of Olam. One day many centuries later a descendant of Chavah’s father came to the land of Olam and settled there. He married a local woman and she bore him a child. This child was different from the other children of Olam because his father’s genealogical make up had affected the addictive nature of his mother’s bloodline in such a way as to neutralize the addiction. The child’s name was Joshua and as he grew he began to observe the negative effects of the poppy and the way that it sent many a member of the community to an early grave. Because he loved his mother’s people he decided to try and convince them to destroy the poppies and return to the way of life of his father’s ancestors. This infuriated many but others were drawn to his teaching and supported him with food and lodging so that he could share his message throughout the land of Olam.
As Joshua’s followers grew in number the leaders of the community of Olam became jealous and decided to have Joshua put to death on trumped up charges of treason. In spite of his followers best efforts Joshua was killed one night in his parent’s field and his blood ran into the soil and was soaked up by some recently planted barley. When morning came and his friends—having heard of his murder-- sought him out in his parent’s field, they found that his body was gone and in its place grew an oddly colored barley stalk that had grown up too full maturity overnight. In memory of their friend the followers of Joshua made a special loaf out of the blood colored barley and ate it together. The following day when they returned to the field two more blood red barley stalks had grown and so they again made a loaf and ate. On the third day after his death they discovered three stalks of blood red barley and as they ate the loaf made from the barley in their homes that evening Joshua appeared sitting at the table. They were all stunned by his appearance and could not speak. Then Joshua spoke to them asking:
“Have any of you desired the poppy over the last three days?” After a few moments silence they responded in one voice:
“No Joshua, not once.” Then one of Joshua’s closest friends Jacob piped up and said:
“We have only desired to eat the bread made from the strange barley you planted in your parent’s field.”
“The bread you have been eating is made from the barley seed that soaked in my blood and it has passed on to you the enzyme in my blood that neutralizes the addiction to the poppy. You are free,” he said, “Go throughout the land of Olam and tell everyone you can find about the new grain, for it will begin to take over my parent’s field until there is enough for all to eat and be restored to health and to the traditions of my father’s forebears.”
Explanation of Chavah, Terra and the poppy:
A baby born to a drug addicted parent is not guilty of the parents original choice to take the addictive substance, but without the proper treatment that same child will have an inherent tendency toward addiction and will eventually choose of their own free will to sin by taking the addictive substance, it is only at this point that the child becomes guilty, though he has always been addicted. It is the same with humanities fallen nature, we are all born into an addicted world but that doesn’t imply guilt at conception, rather we each die for our own sin because, as the Scripture says, “All have sinned.”
Through Yeshua’s blood however we are able to receive a transfusion that neutralizes our addiction and enables us to choose what is right, thus we become righteous through His blood and by His life in us. After all, the Scripture also says, “The life is in the blood.”
13 for until the Torah (Instruction) sin was in the world, but sin is not accounted for when there is no Torah.
It is clear from this Scripture that sin was still considered rebellion by G-d even when it could not be properly recorded by humanity.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses (Giving of the Torah), even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam (Specifically the first man), who is a type of Him who was to come.
Because humanity continued to choose rebellion the consequence of the original rebellion remained and people continued to die in spite of the fact that the Torah wasn’t given until Moses. The death that came as a result of the one man Adam’s sin is the antithesis to the life that will come through the one man Yeshua, thus Adam is a type for Yeshua.
15 But the gift is not like the offence (Original rebellion). For if by the offence (Adam’s choice to rebel) of the one the many died, much more did the chesed (Mercy, grace, loving kindness) of G-d and the gift by the chesed (grace) of the one Man, Yeshua Mashiyach, abound to the many.
The limited power of the offence (this is worth contemplating, I have just called the resulting death of sinful humanity “limited power”) is a like a snow flake on the surface of the Sun. The one man Adam may have been the catalyst for humanity’s demise but the one man Yeshua has swallowed up the temporary power of death with the eternal power of life.
16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one offence (rebellion/idolatry) resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the gift arose from many offences resulting in justification. 17 For if by the offence (of Adam) of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of chesed (grace) and of the gift of righteousness (right standing with G-d) will reign in life through the One, Yeshua Mashiyach.
In Messiah Life takes precedent over death, His one righteous act redeems many. This gift is not free as some translations suggest (the word free is not present in the Greek text.) In fact it has cost Messiah everything. Thank G-d that in His life Yeshua receives an eternal inheritance and many sons.
18 So then as through one offence (that of Adam’s rebellion) there resulted condemnation to all humanity, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all humanity.
This doesn’t mean that all humanity is automatically saved, Paul has previously stated that the gift of salvation must be received in order for it to take effect for the individual and so for the whole—that is those who have received the gift. Universalism is a foolish notion born of a singular non-contextual misinterpretation of limited Scriptural texts. All have the opportunity to accept the gift of salvation but as the Revelation of John affirms, not all will be saved.
19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.
It is the obedience of Messiah that has made us righteous. One righteous act.
20The Torah entered to demonstrate that the offence had increased; but where sin increased, chesed (grace) increased all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so loving kindness/grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Yeshua Mashiyach our Adonai (lord).
The Torah did not cause sin to increase as some translations suggest, rather at the point in time when the Torah was revealed, humanity had proliferated its rebellion and therefore out of love G-d gave us the Torah to expose our increased sinfulness so that we might be drawn back to Him in loving kindness. For although sin had increased, the increase of G-d’s chesed/mercy is eternal, past, present and future and was already beginning to consume death in the one righteous act of His Son, who, outside of time and space had already redeemed humanity through His death and given us the possibility of life in His resurrection.
Therefore the loving kindness of G-d reigns through the right action of G-d unto eternal life through Messiah Yeshua our lord.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.