Summary: Death through Adam, life through Christ

Romans 5:12-21

John Shearhart

July 25, 2010


We’ve spent a lot of time talking about righteousness and sin. As far as man is concerned there’s not even a hope of righteousness from within because “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE.” It’s not just that we aren’t righteous, but we’re completely evil. Our throats are called open graves, our mouths are full of lies, poison, cursing, and bitterness. We’re eager to sin, and we don’t fear God (3:10-18).

The only reason we have any hope at all is because of the righteousness of God which was demonstrated at the cross and which provided the way for grace (Rom. 3:21-26).

There’s no room for men to boast because we haven’t done anything. Either we’re utterly depraved or we wear the righteousness of God.

If we wear His righteousness, we have peace with Him and we enjoy all the other blessings we talked about last week (5:1-11).

Now, as we continue in chapter five, we come to see another side of our salvation. We’re not just guilty of sin, we are sinners. We were born that way because we’re sons of Adam; you might say it’s in our DNA.

So, there’s a comparison and a contrast in Romans five: the sons of Adam are born sinners through physical birth, and the sons of God are born righteous through spiritual birth.

This is an important doctrine to understand because by it we see that the issue isn’t about just our personal sin—we were born that way. When Adam sinned, he served as a representative for us all. His one sin ruined every man’s standing before God.

However, Christ’s one act of obedience restored many despite countless sins!

Sin and salvation are issues far greater than just what we have or haven’t done, but they each come down to only two beings…

Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ

1. Adam’s one sin introduced death into the world and it condemned all men (:12-14)

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned-- 13for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

He starts out with the word “therefore.” It’s hard to tell exactly what this word ties together, but it looks like he’s saying, “We’ve been reconciled to God” (5:10-11), therefore, we have “eternal life through Christ Jesus” (5:21).

Everything in the middle (:12-21) describes why and how. Why were we separated from God? How were we reconciled?

Look what he says: sin spread to all men so that death reigned over us all. Even the people who lived before the Law was given to Moses had to face the consequence of sin. Sin hadn’t been “imputed” to them; that is, they weren’t charged with personal sin because the Law didn’t yet exist. They weren’t guilty of a willful violation of a direct command as Adam was; “nevertheless” they died anyway.


Because Adam’s sin “spread” to all men causing all men to die! Death reigned over all life because of one man’s sin.

How is that fair? How can God hold me accountable for something Adam did?

First of all, we know from the first three chapters that all men are guilty of sin on a personal level and that even those who don’t have the Law written on paper have it written on their hearts. We deserve whatever punishment we receive!

I would also add that this passage says as much about the nature of sin as it does the righteousness of God. How did sin get from one man to the rest? It spread. It doesn’t say that God blames one man for another’s sin; it says that sin spread from one man to another because of one man—Adam.

Something important to remember is that Paul has been talking to the Jews. They believed that being sons of Abraham bought them impartiality with God, but Paul brought those hopes crashing down in chapter four, and now here in chapter five he goes back even further.

Not only are the self-righteous Jews not the spiritual sons of Abraham, they are the physical sons of Adam who passed the curse of sin and death onto his descendants! Everyone suffers death because sin spreads to us all even before we partake of it personally.

But notice how Paul starts to introduce hope: he says that Adam “is a type of Him who was to come.” Adam is a “type” of Christ.

In First Corinthians Paul talks about the resurrection, and he compares Adam and Christ:

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