6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: The entrance of sin, and the wages of sin, compared and contrasted with the free gift of Jesus Christ


Romans 5:12-21


We are told in the book of Genesis that when God created the world “it was all very good” (Genesis 1:31). Yet the world as we know it is full of moral evil, as quoted by Paul in Romans 3:10-18. How did such a situation come about?

In Romans 5:12, Paul tells us that sin came into the world through one man. That man was our first father, Adam, the representative head of the human race and ancestor of us all. This is the teaching of the Bible, and needless to say the Apostle held such teaching to be true. On the basis of this doctrine Paul rests his whole argument in the verses we are now studying, where he compares and contrasts Adam and Christ.

Within families it is the father who is held responsible for what happens. If the family is at fault, ultimately the father must shoulder the responsibility. However, the consequences of such fault or sin are shared by the whole family.

An example of this Biblical principle is seen in the case of one man called Achan in Joshua 7. The name Achan means Trouble, and this man brought trouble on the Israelites by stealing from the spoils of Jericho, which had been dedicated to the LORD. It was only after he and his whole family (!) had been executed that Israel was able to continue in their course of victory.

The significance of this incident was not lost on the children of Israel (Joshua 22:20). On the other hand, Joshua spoke for his whole family when he made his famous declaration of faith (Joshua 24:15).

However, this principle is older than the family of Israel. It dates back to Adam, our first father, as demonstrated in Romans 5:12: “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men.”

Adam was accountable for the eating of the forbidden fruit, and we all also suffer the consequences of that first sin, just as surely as if it had been ours. The result of one man’s offence was condemnation for all men, and one man’s disobedience made many sinners (Romans 5:18-19).

There is a little rhyming couplet that says:

“In Adam’s fall

We sinned all.”

We cannot understand this working of God’s justice, but who are we to question God?


Paul tells us in Romans 5:12, “Sin came into the world, and death through sin.” Later he adds, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

This was just what Adam had been told by God (Genesis 2:16-17). When Adam ate of the forbidden fruit he died a spiritual death, and became liable to physical death.

(i) Adam forfeited a life of fellowship with God.

(ii) God’s anger turned against His beautiful Creation, and He cursed the ground (Genesis 3:17).

(iii) Death entered the world.

“Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). In Adam all die (1 Corinthians 15:22).

(iv) Man became inclined to all kinds of evil.

Man was evil before the flood (Genesis 6:5) “The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”

Evil remained even after the Flood (Genesis 8:21): The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma of Noah’s sacrifice and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.”

Solomon in his old age testified (Ecclesiastes 7:29): “This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.”


In comparing and contrasting Adam and Christ, the Apostle Paul does not leave us dead in our sins, but balances our predicament with what he calls “the free gift” (Romans 5:15).

Death became necessary as soon as man sinned, but Adam and Eve were not struck physically dead on the day of their sin. God was making provision for their salvation. He promised that the woman would have a descendant who would crush the devil, and that descendant was Jesus, “born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4).

So Paul argues here: “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, 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” (Romans 5:15). Jesus is introduced as the new representative head of the human race.

“Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness 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” (Romans 5:18 -19).

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