Summary: Romans 5 is a very misunderstood text in the Bible. Verses within it are used to teach many doctrines that are not being taught if you examine the passage within its context.
Romans 5 is a very misunderstood text in the Bible. Verses within it are used to teach many doctrines that are not being taught if you examine the passage within its context. We need to remember the argument that Paul has been making up to this point in the book.
Chapters 1-3a: All men have sinned and are guilty before God
Chapter 3b-4: All men can be justified by faith in Jesus Christ
Chapter 5:1-11: The results of our justification in Christ
Understanding the above arguments that Paul has made is vital to correctly understanding Romans 5:12-21. Too often, many people like to go to this text to prove doctrines that they believe, but when they do, they forget the context of the passage. They examine passages in this text forgetting the arguments Paul has made up to this point, even missing the verse in the beginning of the text in question.
0512 “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-“
Speaking of Adam, Paul states that sin came into the world through his first sin. He brought this terrible disease into the world. It's consequence was universal because all have followed in His steps. All have sinned (Romans 3:23, Chapters 1-3) and because of it, all are dead. What this verse says is that death spreads to all men NOT because they were born as sinners, but because all men have sinned! This verse does not say that Adam’s sin or guilt was given to anyone, but that the same punishment (death) comes to all men because they follow in Adam steps by sinning.
Verse 12 began with the words "Therefore, just as." You should expect to see in verse 13 then the second part of the argument. You expect to see, "so then", or "consequently," but this does not happen. The second part of the statement in verse 12 is not given until verses 18-19. That is where Paul finishes his argument. Some translations, such as the NKJV, put verses 13-17 in parentheses to show that Paul is leaving his main argument for a few verses to get some things out of the way before he returns to his main point.
"(for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.)”