This brings us to another large theme: justification. This is not just forgiveness, but is a judicial term meaning to find someone in the right. How can humanity, of whom Paul describes as having sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (3:23) be justified? They're clearly guilty! In the first half of chapter 5, Paul begins to explain how this comes through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. It is not just that we are forgiven, but we are also justified, declared to be innocent, in the right, through Jesus, the faithful son of God. Being "justified by faith" (5:1) is then to trust in this verdict, to trust in the reality of what Christ has done. Furthermore, not only are we forgiven, not only are we justified, but "through [Jesus] we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God" (5:2). At the beginning, having turned away from God, turning our worship to things of creation, we "exchanged the glory of the immortal God" for lesser images, further degrading ourselves, tarnishing the image of God imprinted upon humans (Gen. 1:27). Now, through Christ, we have hope in yet again sharing in the glory of God. What had once been ruined is being renewed again; life as God intended it is real and our hope "does not disappoint us" (5:5). And all of this bears witness to God's love: "God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us" and "For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life" (5:8, 10). We are saved by Christ's death and resurrection. What salvation looks like, and what death and resurrection look like for us and for the whole creation will become clear in Chapters 6 and 8.
So, we are justified by Christ's obedient sacrifice: his death and resurrection. Good for Jesus; what does that mean for us, though? We start to get an answer in the second half of Chapter 5.
It seems like a strange idea to a culture of individual responsibility, but we stand as guilty from the legacy of the first man. For Paul, sin is not just the aggregation of individual sins, but also a condition. Furthermore, sin is also a power that allows death to exercise dominion (a word used 5 times in just these 10 verses) over the creation. Humanity not only abdicated the glory of God's image by turning from God, but also abdicated the dominion which God had entrusted to humans (Genesis 1:28-30). All are guilty in the original sin and cannot help themselves; they can only be justified if another representative human can live obediently to God on their behalf. This is Jesus Christ (5:15-19). Now grace has the final word, grace exercises dominion, "leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (5:21). In short, there has been a changing of the guard on our behalf; God and life now have dominion where sin and death once held sway. But eternal life? What is that? Is that merely living forever in a disembodied spiritual state? What does it look like