Summary: Adam is the head of all the human race and the result of his sin is transmitted to all his descendants. Likewise, Jesus Christ is the head of all born again believers and His righteousness is transmitted to all the faithful. Just as man is condemned by

ROMANS 5: 12-21


Thus far the book of Romans has surveyed the extent of human sin and guilt and the glorious adequacy of God's justifying grace in and through Jesus Christ. Paul has led us down into the depths of human depravity and up into the heights of divine mercy. He has established that there are two communities. One is characterized by sin and rebellion and the other by grace and faith. One is headed by Adam and the other is headed by Christ. Each individual has been given the choice to change his family lineage by coming under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This choice is a life or death matter.

Adam is the head of all the human race and the result of his sin is transmitted to all his descendants. Likewise, Jesus Christ is the head of all born again believers and His righteousness is transmitted to all the faithful. Just as man is condemned by being in (or born of) Adam, so is man justified by being in (or born of) Christ (CIT).

I. Sin Reigned Through One Man, 12-14.

II. Grace Reigns Through One Man, 15-17.

III. The Results of One Man's Act, 18-19.

IV. The Results of Grace, 20-21.


The focus now shifts from our redemption to the two representative heads or lines of humanity. Verse 12 summarizes the story of the fall of man in Genesis 3 emphasizing that Adam's disobedience brought sin, death and separation into the world. "For this reason, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.

"For this reason" (or therefore) indicates a continuation of the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. Man's right standing with God comes only through Jesus Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection life. Acceptance of Christ brings righteousness, reconciliation (peace), and life.

The "one man through" whom "sin entered the world" is obviously Adam (Adam in Hebrew even means man). Here begins a comparison between the effects of the redemptive work of Christ and the condemning action of Adam. Though it was Eve who first sinned, her head was Adam. Adam thus carries the responsibility for sin and sin's entrance into the perfect world created by God. [The doctrine of original sin is thus taught here]. Those who are born of flesh inherit their sinful nature from Adam. Man is now predisposed to sin and therefore commits sin. The wages of sin is death or separation from God. Thus, "death spread to all men." The death intended here is spiritual death (Gen. 2:16-17, 3:1-6) which is the cause of physical death and eternal death (1 Cor. 15:22). Sin and death cannot be separated.

The plain obvious point is that the effects of Adam's sin are transmitted to his descendants. The whole of mankind is viewed as having fallen with Adam. But it is not simply because Adam sinned but because every human being after Adam sinned. "All sinned" is each and every person born into the world has sinned.

[Physically speaking, DNA is the stuff of life. Genetic research revolutionizes our world in hundreds of ways. DNA from a lifeless body can be compared with the living to demonstrate family connections. Small traces can convict criminals or set the accused free. DNA also confirms at a scientific level what Paul had asserted to the Athenian philosophers in Acts 17 when he said that God had "made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth." We are all connected, and the common link for the human race, both physically and spiritually is Adam. We all carry Adam's DNA.]

Death is an undeniable empirical reality. This grim stalker of life is the result of the horrid disobedience toward God by the rebellious human will when Adam, wanting to be his own god, chose his way over God's Word to him. And all of us, like him, unconsciously or consciously do the same. For "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

Verse 13 explains why death reign even before there was a full consciousness of man's sinfulness brought about by the written law. "for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin was not imputed when there is no law." The statement all sinned includes those who lived on earth during the period from Adam to Moses before the giving of the written law. Without definite commandments there are no specific sins, but man is still a sinner because of his rebellion against God's will, way, and Word which is revealed in his general manner of life. Early man, or those who lived before the law, knew the difference between right and wrong because they had the declaration of their Creator in nature and in their own nature (1:18-23) and the inner law of reason and conscience (2:16-16). Man did not live right in the light of these powerful witnesses.

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