Romans 5:12-21

12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Adam, brought sin to the human race by disobedience. It was not the sins of Adam’s lifetime, but the one original sin which allowed death, sin’s close ally, to enter the world.

13(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Sin is not imputed when there is no law, but even before the law of Moses was given, physical death was a witness to the presence of sin in Adam and his desendence.

14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

So universal was this sin that its deadly effects were seen over them that had not sinned the exact same way that Adam sinned. One act of disobedience to God was sufficient to allow sin to enter the entire human race. for that all have sinned.

15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. The righteousness which is imputed to us by Christ, through the free gift of God’s grace, covers not just that one offense but many offenses.

17For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

20Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

In Romans 5 Paul presents to us two individuals who—through one act—have had an awesome impact on the human race.

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world [mankind], and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned" (5:12).

This one man of course was Adam. The story of Adam and Eve is an actual event in human history. Scripture puts full blame for human sin on the shoulders of Adam, the father of the human race. God had given to Adam a clear command and warning when He said, (Gen. 2:16-17). “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”

We are told that Adam disobeyed this command and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and as a result of his disobedience sin was introduced to mankind. And because of this one sin of Adam, everyone dies.

What do the words “all have sinned” mean? Do all people die because of Adam’s one sin or because of their own individual sins?

What is meant here is that when Adam sinned we actually sinned with Him. How was this possible? In the Epistle to the Hebrews there is a similar idea. The author of Hebrews writes, (Heb. 7:9-10). “And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him”

We are told here that Levi, though not born until almost 200 years later, actually paid tithes in his great-grandfather Abraham.

The ancestor, Abraham, contained his descendant, Levi. Similarly, our ancestor, Adam, contained all of us, his descendants. Therefore, just as Levi did something in paying the tithe in Abraham, so we did something in sinning in Adam. God did not reveal the details of how this is so, it is simply declared to be so.

"(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similtude of Adam’s transgression. . . .” (5:13-14a).

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