Lesson 75: "By One Man Sin Entered Into the World. . .By the Righteousness of One the Free Gift Came Upon All Men. . ." (Romans 5:12, 18)
Romans 5:12-21 continued
Welcome to lesson # 75! Our text is Rom. 5:12-21, the last 10 verses in Rom. Ch. 5. Paul appealed to Adam and Christ for his illustration in this section. I hope you came to this lesson all pumped up; having read and re-read this material and having Gen. 2 & 3 fresh on your mind. Paul in some way sees a parallel between Adam and Christ. Yet, that parallel takes on a negative image or opposite details in certain respects which makes his illustration difficult and clumsy. First, I think we must say, Paul deals in the very broadest terms of mankind and humanity in general. In second place, as a necessity of the broad outline of his discussion, Paul sweeps across the entire landscape of time, i.e. biblical time. Now, that's the best I can say it. We are tempted to say the entire age of man; but, the word "age" A-G-E, carries with it the idea of one period as compared to another previous period, or successive periods or both, all similar in some way. To understand Paul's concept you must go beyond the historical significance of periods (and ages) of time. It involves Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and then sweeps across the human race to even beyond the second coming of Christ. Then, you must be able to visualize two distinct realms with respect to the order of man's existence, sweeping across the vastness of time. It's these two kingdoms or domains that Paul tries to compare. Adam is the head of mankind in that he was the patriarch of the human race and thus responsible for the phenomenon of death associated with himself and his descendants. Christ, on the other hand, was the first born from the dead and is the head of the church, and thus the spiritual progenitor of that other kingdom or domain which leads to the phenomenon of spiritual life. Now, it's much easier to say all of that THAN to comprehend all that and the great significance inherent in those words. To further complicate the matter, in these verses Paul speaks of death in two different ways. In both cases, death is a separation. First, there is physical death or that which takes place when our spirit is separated from our physical body and the body decays. Second, there is spiritual death, i.e. a separation of our spirit from God, or to put it more plainly; we're talking about hell as a place of punishment. Both physical death and spiritual death began with Adam. Adam suffered spiritual death when he disobeyed a positive and direct command of God not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). Paul skips over the fact that Adam's wife was involved here. But, almost immediately when Adam and Eve ate of that tree; Adam and Eve were separated from God, or what we ordinarily refer to as spiritual death. However, Adam lived several hundred more years and begat sons and daughters after being tossed out of the garden. (We learn this in Gen. Ch. 5). So, Adam's physical death did not come immediately.
Now, if you've got that all straightened out; hook onto this one: because of Adam's sin in the garden, i.e. disobedience to a direct and positive command of God; then physical death passed upon all men, i.e. up on all of mankind. This was a result of Adam's sin. Now, keep this straight! It did not have to do with the sin of Adam's descendants. That is not to say that Adam's descendants did not sin; I'm simply saying Adam's sin was what brought physical death upon himself and upon his descendants. It was only Adam's sin. I know some teach otherwise; so, like I said, get this straight and even beyond that, keep it straight.
Spiritual death did not come upon all men at that moment; I'm talking about Adam. The threat or the jeopardy of physical death came upon all. Surely there's a better word for it than that; but, the point is: spiritual death comes only to those who sin. Physical death reigns only in this physical life; that realm, or that domain of which Adam is said to be the head here in the verses we are considering (Rom. Ch. 5). In other words, physical death began with Adam and Eve, it happened to Adam's sons and daughters and their sons and daughters, etc., and death will continue to reign so-to-speak, until Christ's second coming. At that time, (Christ's second coming) all the dead, i.e. physically dead, (we're talking about in the grave), will be raised; or as Paul said it in I Thess. 4:14,1 trust you remember:
"even so them also which sleep in Jesus wiU God bring with
i.e. when Jesus returns, if you go on to read the next verses
there. Or moving to Paul's statement in I Cor. 15:52,
"the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
i.e. those living at the time of Christ's second coming will be
changed instantly into the same state with which those that will
come forth from the graves will be changed. Whatever that
means. But, at that moment of Christ's second coming, or AS
OF that moment, physical death will be extinct or obsolete, i.e.
physical death will pass out of existence then and there. That's
what Paul teaches in the rest of I Cor. Ch. 15, where we just
read. Paul used these words:
"death is swallowed up in victory." (v. 54)
Physical death is a kind of punishment that we must all pass
through; but, the real sting is on the other side of the grave, i.e.
punishment for sin in spiritual death (on the other side of the
judgement) which is sure if our sins are not forgiven. This
thought Paul covered in v. 56 of I Cor. Ch. 15. Back in v. 26,
of I Cor. Ch. 15 (same chapter) Paul said:
"the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."
Or as one commentator said it; Adam cast the shadow of death
upon all his descendants, a shadow that has now exceeded six
thousand years in length. It all happened by one sin, one direct
disobedience of God's word or God's command. This is what
came about by Adam and Eve. Thus, the punishment that came
through Adam and Eve terminates in death, i.e. physical death;
but, beyond that we must still answer for our personal sins not
covered by the blood of Jesus.
It will be after Christ's second coming and after the dead come
forth from the grave and after the living at that time shall be
changed that the judgment will take place. You must realize
that what takes place in judgment, will come before any final
separation, i.e. before spiritual death. Furthermore, we need to
realize that what takes place at the judgment has nothing to do
with Adam and Eve. The judgment will have to do ONLY with
our own individual sins. Sins that were/are committed in this
present life and in this present world where we now live. We
are responsible for all that sin, not Adam. Any punishment
after death has nothing to do with Adam it has to do with us.
Spiritual death comes upon those who sin. It comes to no other.
"your iniquities have separated between you and your God,
and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not
hear." (Isa. 59:2)
In Matt. 25:31-32, Jesus said:
"When the Son of man shall come...before him shall be
gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from
another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats..."
In his conclusion to the Parable of the Net (Matt. 13:49-50),
Jesus described it like this:
"So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come
forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall
cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and
gnashing of teeth."
That is spiritual death. The term spiritual death, as we have
here referred to it is not used in the New Testament. However,
the idea or concept is certainly there. For example, in Rev.
2:11 and other places, Jesus called it: "the second death." For
example in the verse I mentioned (Rev. 2:11), Jesus said in this
"He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."
Alright, let's get back to Rom. 5:12!
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and
death by sin and so death passed upon all men, for that all
Now, the question arises: which death is Paul talking about?
Physical death or spiritual death? The apostles used the word
"death" both ways and we have to determine the meaning by the context. Now, which was it? Remember! Both physical death and spiritual death started with Adam. O.K. the word "death" here apparently means spiritual death. Why? Well, physical death did not pass upon all men by their own sin; but by Adam's sin. This verse, in the last phrase says: "for that all have sinned." Thus, we conclude spiritual death. Now, you might want to re-read that and digest Paul's thought. Then we come to that big parenthesis; v. 13-14-15-16-17. We could go to v. 18 and then come back to this; but, let's dig into the parenthesis. V. 13 refers to the time before the law, i.e before the law of Moses. There was law during that period before Moses, at least there was moral law. We have discussed this in prior lessons. If there was no law there would have been no sin; because, as we have said before: "sin is the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4) Paul said this before (in Rom. 4:15) possibly you remember. We must realize that the moral law or whatever law existed in that period from Adam to Moses; there was no direct and positive law such as Adam and Eve disobeyed in the garden. Thus, they did not sin during that period "after the similitude of Adam's transgression." Do you see that near the end of v. 14? Nevertheless, at the beginning of v. 14, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses. Death reigned beyond that time, of course. But, God did have a law and therefore there was sin during that period. Not like Adams sin. Nevertheless, they were held responsible for their own individual sins plus or in addition to that: they suffered physical death which came as a result of Adam's sin. Now, get the connection the end of v. 14; just as there were long lasting effects of Adams actions, the same is true "of him that was to come." In other words there is this similitude of Adam with Christ. Then in v. 15, "But not as the offense, so also is the free gift..."
The free gift means what in other places is termed grace. John
1:17 said grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Remember,
this goes back to Paul's soap-box in Romans. Thus for:
"we have access by faith into this grace." (v. 2)
Now, observe the second word in v. 15. The word is NOT,
N-O-T. Even though the effects of Adam and the effect of the
grace that came by Christ have similarity in that both were
long-lasting; there is a difference. So, the grace, (or the free
gift) that came with Christ is different in this respect.
"Much more the grace of God, and the gift by
See if you can sort that out in the middle of v. 15? The thought
is something like this: if you think Adam's action brought
negative effects; you haven't seen nothing yet, until you
consider what great positive effects came through Christ.
Adam sinned one time, yes. His
"judgment was by one to condemnation" (middle of v. 16)
But, in contrast to that at the end of v. 16;
"the free gift is of many offenses unto justification."
The blood of Christ will remove the sans of millions and
millions if properly applied in faith and obedience to the
gospel. In v. 17, look at the words "much more" and the word
"abundance." The point is, the grace that came by Jesus is
tremendously greater. Not only is it positive where Adam's
influence upon his people was negative; but, Christ's influence
upon humanity for good is beyond comparison with respect to
the one that Paul chose to illustrate, i.e. Adam. I think you can
handle v. 17; let's go on to v. 18. Notice that v. 18 starts with
one of Paul's THEREFORE's. Isn't v. 18-19 somewhat of a
restatement of the points above?
"The offense of one judgment came upon all men to
that's Adams part of Paul's illustration.
"So by the righteousnes of one the free gift came upon all men
unto justification of life."
That's Christ's part of Paul's illustration. And, I concede this is more that just an illustration. But, don't miss that big word "righteousness" and the words "justification of life" incorporated into v. 18. What was Paul's theme in this book? "Being justified by faith" (up in v.l of this Ch.), we have peace and we have access and we rejoice in hope, etc. Then in v. 19, notice the contrast! With Adam it was disobedience. With Christ it was obedience. The results with Adam, "many were made sinners." The results with Christ, "shall many be made righteous." Then in v. 20, Paul reached back and picked up where he left off in v. 14, back there after that Adam to Moses time frame. When the law, (i.e. the law of Moses) when it entered, what happened? It entered "that the offense might abound." Now, that does not mean that sin was worse because of the law. The point is: sin was brought to the attention of men and men were made to feel the weight and guilt of sin. It is thus through the blood, the righteousness and obedience of Jesus, that we have opportunity to life eternal. "As sin hath reigned unto death, EVEN SO might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."
Thus Paul in these passages, in effect, discusses what it is that has come to us because of Christ and because Christ was given for us. By Christ's coming, the status of humanity has been changed. In Romans, Paul emphasized the importance of the gospel and the power of the gospel. But, we need to realize that the gospel has importance and power only here in the earthly phase of our journey. Wgeb we get these in focus; even dimly in focus; it helps us to see other passages more clearly. For example, what about II Cor. 5:17,
"if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." What about Col. 1:13, which says:
"Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." With Jesus, came a new age, a new realm for mankind, a new domain, or as the other verse said a kingdom. Near the very end of the New Testament, we find: "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star'." (Rev. 22:16) What does that mean? The bright morning star is seen just before the dawn of a new day. We live in that new day. We must obey that gospel now. Spiritual life is not thrust upon us like the physical death that came through Adam. Jesus said, "not everyone that saith Lord, Lord shall enter but he that doeth the will of God. Matt. 7:21.
Thus, in a similar way, spiritual death is not thrust upon us unconditionally. Paul spoke of
"being justified by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past.." (Rom. 3:24-25).
There are conditions and our sins can be remitted. In these verses, Rom. 5:12-21, Paul called to our attention how great is, that grace through which we have access by faith, discussed in v. 5. Our next lesson begins in Ch. 6. Until then, please have a good day!