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Week 8 Chapter 5 continuing TRIUMPH!

You may or may not be aware that I love some of the old Greek words used in our Bible. I have a program on the computer that gives me a new word for every day, on Thursday as I was beginning to put my thoughts together, when I saw my word for the day, I thought this is not a good start for the day! My word for Thursday was ‘nekros’  which means dead, it’s the word used in our New Testaments for being spiritually dead – unsaved –lost. And then I read verse 12 to 21 of Romans chapter 5 and thought, it’s not a bad word after all. Because you have to be spiritually dead to appreciate grace and justification! Let us reflect for just a moment on Ephesians Ch 2 verses 1 to 3, we read these words last week. It’s a précis, an abbreviation of those dreadful verses that we find the second half of Romans chapter one!


Eph 2:1  Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.

Eph 2:2  You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.

Eph 2:3  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God's anger, just like everyone else.


Without doubt verses 12 to 21 of chapter five are complicated; I am going to use the New Living Translation so the we can see into the verses more easily.


Rom 5:12  When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

Rom 5:13  Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break.

Rom 5:14  Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come.

Rom 5:15  But there is a great difference between Adam's sin and God's gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and His gift of forgiveness to many through this other Man, Jesus Christ.

Rom 5:16  And the result of God's gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man's sin. For Adam's sin led to condemnation, but God's free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.

Rom 5:17  For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one Man, Jesus Christ.

Rom 5:18  Yes, Adam's one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ's one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.

Rom 5:19  Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

Rom 5:20  God's law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God's wonderful grace became more abundant.

Rom 5:21  So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God's wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The rest of chapter 5 serves as a bridge between the first part of the letter and the next three chapters. It is linked with the first part by picking up the subjects of condemnation through Adam and justification through Christ, and by showing that the work of Christ far outweighs in blessing that the work of Adam did in misery and loss. It is linked with chapters 6-8 by moving from justification to sanctification, and from acts of sin to the sin in human nature.

Adam is portrayed in these verses as the representative of all those who are in the ‘old creation’, dead because of their disobedience and your many sins. Christ is presented as the Head of all those who are in the new creation, acting for all those who are under him. For example, when the Queen signs an Act of Parliament into law, she is acting for all the citizens of our country – Christ has done and is continuing to do everything for our benefit!


That is what happened in Adam's case. As a result of his sin, human death (separation from God) entered the world. Death became the common lot of all Adam's descendants because they had all sinned in him. It is true that they all committed individual acts of sin as well, but that is not the thought here. Paul's point is that Adam's sin was a representative act, and all his posterity are reckoned as having sinned in him.

Someone might object that it was Eve and not Adam who committed the first sin on earth. That is true, but since Adam was the first to be created, headship was given to him. So he is responsible and is therefore seen as acting for all his descendants – you and me.

When the Paul says here that death spread to all men, he is referring to physical death, even though Adam's sin brought spiritual death as well. (Vv. 13 and 14 “Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come”.This shows show that physical death is in view.)


When we come to this passage of Scripture, certain questions inevitably arise. Is it fair that Adam's descendents should be declared sinners just because he sinned?

Does God condemn men for being born sinners, or only for those sins which they have actually committed?

If men are born with a sinful nature, and if they therefore sin because they are born sinners, how can God hold them responsible for what they do?

Bible scholars have wrestled with these and a host of similar problems and have come up with a surprising variety of conclusions. However, there are certain facts that we can be sure of.

First, the Bible does teach that all men are sinners, both by nature and by practice. Everyone born of human parents inherits Adam's sin, and also sins by his own deliberate choice.

Second, we know that the wages of sin is death—both physical death and eternal separation from God.

But no one has to pay the penalty of sin unless he wants to. This is the important point. At enormous cost, God sent His Son to die as a Substitute for sinners. Salvation from sin and its wages is offered as a free gift through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Man is condemned on three grounds: He has a sinful nature, Adam's sin is imputed to him, and he is a sinner by practice. But his crowning guilt is his rejection of the provision which God has made for his salvation.

But someone will perhaps ask, “What about those who have never heard the gospel?” This question is answered in part, at least, in chapter 1. Beyond that we can rest in the assurance that the Judge of all the earth will do what is right. He will never act unjustly or unfairly. All His decisions are based on equity, holiness  and righteousness. Although certain situations pose problems to our dim sight, they are not problems to Him. When the last case has been heard and the doors of the courtroom swing shut, no one will have a legitimate basis for appealing the verdict.

In verse 13, Paul now shows that Adam's sin affected the whole race. He first points out that sin was in the world during the period from Adam to the giving of the law at Mount Sinai. But during that time there was no clearly revealed law of God. Adam had received a clear oral commandment from the Lord, and many centuries later the Ten Commandments were a distinct written revelation of divine law. But in the intervening period men did not have a legal code from God. Therefore, although there was sin during that time, there was no transgression, because transgression is the violation of a known law. But sin is not added to our account as transgression when there is no law forbidding it.

Yet death did not take a holiday during the age when there was no law. With the single exception of Enoch, death held sway over all mankind. You could not say that these people died because they had Brocken a clear command of God, as Adam did. Why then did they die? The answer is implied: they died because they had sinned in Adam. If this seems unfair, remember that this has nothing to do with salvation. All those who put their faith in the Lord were saved eternally. But they died physically just the same, and the reason they died was because of the sin of their representative, Adam. In his role as our representative, Adam was a type (symbol) of Him who was to come—that is, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the succeeding verses Paul will develop the subject of these two individuals, but more by contrast than by similarities. He will show that:

In Christ the sons of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.

Verse 15;   The first contrast is between the offense of Adam and the free gift of Christ. By the trespass of the first man, the many died. The many here refers, of course, to Adam's descendants. Death here I am sure includes spiritual as well as physical death.

The free gift abounds much more to the many. The free gift is the marvellous manifestation of the grace of God abounding to a race of sinners. It is made possible by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ. It was amazing grace on His part to die for His rebellious creatures. Through His sacrificial death, the gift of eternal life is offered to the many.

The two manys’ in this verse do not refer to the same people. The first many includes all who became subject to death as a result of Adam's sin. The second many means all who become new creatures in Christ. It includes only those to whom God's grace has abounded—that is, true believers. While God's mercy is showered on all, His grace is appropriated only by those who trust Him as Saviour.

In verse 16   There is another important contrast between Adam's sin and Christ's gift. The one offense of Adam brought inevitable judgment, and the verdict was “Guilty -Condemned.” The free gift of Christ, on the other hand, dealt effectively with all many offenses, not just one, and resulted in the verdict “Acquitted – your free.” Paul highlights the differences between Adam's sin and Christ's gift, between the terrible havoc wrought by one sin and the tremendous and wonderful deliverance wrought from many sins, and finally between the verdict of condemnation and the verdict of justification.

By the one man's offense, death reigned as a cruel tyrant– verse 17. But by the gracious gift of righteousness, a gift of overflowing grace, all believers reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

What grace this is! We are not only delivered from death's reign as a tyrant over us, but we reign as kings, enjoying life now and eternally. Do we really understand and appreciate this? Do we live to our privileges as the royalty of heaven, or do we grovel among the turkeys and muckheaps of this world?

Verse 18   The offense of Adam brought condemnation to all men, but the righteous act of Christ brought justification of life to all. The righteous act was not the Saviours’ life or His keeping of the law, but rather His substitutionary death on Calvary. This is what brought justification of life—that is, the justification that results in life—and brought it to all men.

Only those who trust the Lord as Saviour receive justification of life.

Just as by Adam's disobedience to God's command many were made sinners (verse 19), so also by Christ's obedience to the Father many who trust Him are declared righteous. Christ's obedience led Him to the cross as our Sin bearer.

It is futile for universalists to use these verses to try to prove that all men will eventually be saved. The passage deals with two headships, and it is clear that just as Adam's sin affects those who are “in him,” so Christ's righteous act benefits only those who are “in Him.”

Verse 20;   What Paul has been saying would come as a jolt to the Jewish objector who felt that everything revolved around the Law. Now this objector learns that sin and salvation centre not in the law but in the two heads, Adam and Christ. That being the case, he might be tempted to ask, “Why then was the law given?” The apostle answers, The law entered that the offense might abound. As we have said in previous weeks, It did not originate sin, but it revealed sin as an offense against God. It did not save from sin but revealed sin in all its awful nature and character.

But God's grace proves to be greater than all of man's sin. Where sin abounded, God's grace at Calvary abounded much more!

Finally verse 21   Now that the reign of sin, inflicting death on all men, has been ended, grace reigns through righteousness, giving eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Notice that grace reigns through righteousness. All the demands of God's holiness have been met, and the penalty of the law has been paidThis is PROPITIATION!, so God can now grant eternal life to all who come pleading the merits of Christ, their Substitute.

Perhaps we have in these verses a partial answer to the familiar question, “Why did God allow sin to enter the world?” The answer is that God has received more glory and man has received more blessings through Christ's sacrifice than if sin had never entered. We are better off in Christ than we ever could have been in an unfallen Adam. If Adam had never sinned, he would have enjoyed continued life on earth in the Garden of Eden. But he had no prospect of becoming a redeemed child of God, an heir of God, or a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. He had no promise of a home in heaven or of being with Christ and like Him forever. These blessings come only through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ our Lord.


In Christ alone!


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