Summary: Do you remember what happened to Adam when he sinned? He died immediately in his spirit, he died gradually in his soul, and he died ultimately in his body. But salvation reverses it.
Romans, 5:12-21 is a pretty complex, complicated passage of scripture. In fact, it is one of the deepest theological teachings in all of the book of Romans, and Romans gets pretty deep. Some people even disagree about the punctuation of the Greek text, because you have to remember there are no punctuation marks in many of the Greek manuscripts. You have to supply your own. Sometimes, a change of punctuation can completely change the meaning.
If you don’t believe that, I remember what happened when I was in college in my psychology class. On the first day of class our professor wrote “woman without her man is a savage” up on the board these words with no punctuation. He said, “I want everybody in the class to write those words down and punctuate that sentence. Well, as you can imagine, most women punctuated it this way, “Woman. Without her man is a savage.” But all the guys punctuated it totally different, changing the meaning. We punctuated it this way. “Woman without her man is a savage.” Women without men are savages, so, the meaning was totally opposite according to the way it was punctuated. The same is true about this passage of scripture. It’s deep, but I want us to find where the word “reign” appears four times because I am going to talk about four kings in this passage of scripture. Just as I was walking in a few moments ago somebody said, “Well, you have a full house out there.” I said, “That’s great. Four kings beats a full house any day!” The word “reign” appears four times.
Let’s begin reading in verse 12.
Therefore, just a sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned — for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift [meaning the gift of grace] is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, [Adam] how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness [meaning the death of Jesus] was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”