Romans 5:20-21 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 5:20
  • Romans 5:21

The law increased sin by making us aware of what we should not do. But, the more we sin the more grace God gives – to believers –  through Jesus’s sacrifice.

In verse 13, Paul tells his audience that the law has made transgression (sin) increase because people were made more aware of things that God wanted them to do or not do. Here, Paul is summarizing this point again by showing the audience that when the law came it increased sin because it made people understand when they were sinning. If a child was never told that they could not take cookies from the jar, then taking those cookies would not be wrong, however, if the child was told not to take those cookies then each time a cookie was taken by them it was in disobedience. In a similar way, the law increased sin, but through Jesus’ sacrifice grace can abound all the more, just like sin increased when the law was given.

Sin reigned in death, but Jesus’ sacrifice can lead to righteousness, through faith, because his action beat death (2 Timothy 1:10). This sacrifice from the God-man Jesus, settled the payment for our sins, and through faith in Jesus Christ (verse 21) we can have eternal life instead of the death (separation) that sin brings.

Grace will rule our lives when we live righteously (by daily faith, not by following rules), leading to a full life that God has designed for us. Paul is not merely talking about being saved from Hell to Heaven; he is writing that grace frees us to live obediently toward God, grace would reign through righteousness, which leads to a life of unparalleled quality, the newness of life, the experience of eternal life made possible by Jesus Christ our Lord, who reconciled us to God, giving us access to God’s abounding grace over our lives.

Biblical Text

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.

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