“But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)” Romans 5:15-17
We are continuing to study one of the greatest chapters in the Bible – Romans 5. The chapter begins with this outstanding statement – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
If you have not read previous studies from Chapter 5, we invite you to read those first for a proper context for our text today.
“But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
αλλ ουχ ως το παραπτωμα ουτως και το χαρισμα ει γαρ τω του ενος παραπτωματι οι πολλοι απεθανον πολλω μαλλον η χαρις του θεου και η δωρεα εν χαριτι τη του ενος ανθρωπου ιησου χριστου εις τους πολλους επερισσευσεν
αλλ ουχ ως το παραπτωμα (all ouch hōs to paraptōma) “but is not like the trespass” .. paraptōma means “a false step, a falling away, a trespass, offense, sin” ..
Paul used the word paraptōma several times in his letter to the Romans. The first usage was Romans 4:25 where he wrote this about Jesus Christ – “who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” Jesus was “delivered up” because of our paraptōma.
ουτως και το χαρισμα (houtōs kai to charisma) “so also the gift” .. charisma means “undeserved favor, free gift, gift of grace” ..
Paul is comparing two things – “the free gift is not like the offense.” Remember the context beginning with verse 12 – “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (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 those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.”
Paul’s comparison is also between two people: Adam and Jesus. Sin entered the world through Adam. Death came to the world through sin and death spread to all men because all men sinned. That’s the immediate context leading into verse 15.
- The ‘offense’ came trough Adam
- The ‘free gift’ came trough Jesus Christ
ει γαρ τω του ενος παραπτωματι οι πολλοι απεθανον (ei gar tō tou enos paraptōma hoi polloi apethanon) “if for by the of the one trespass the many died” .. apethanon means “died, dying, wither, decay” ..
Even as ‘the many’ die because of Adam’s sin …
πολλω μαλλον η χαρις του θεου και η δωρεα εν χαριτι τη του ενος ανθρωπου ιησου χριστου εις τους πολλους επερισσευσεν (pollō mallon hē charis tou theou kai hē dōrea en chariti tē tou henos anthrōpou Iēsou Christou eis tous pollous eperisseusen) “how much more the grace of God and the gift in grace which is of the one man Jesus Christ to the many did abound” .. eperisseusen means “to exceed, to be over and above, to overflow” ..
The ‘grace’ of God ‘abounded’ much more toward ‘the many’ because of Jesus Christ …
That is the great message of Romans! The grace of God “exceeds” the sin of Adam. As bad as sin is in the life of every human being, the gracious gift of God overflows and exceeds that sin.
“And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.”
και ουχ ως δι ενος αμαρτησαντος το δωρημα το μεν γαρ κριμα εξ ενος εις κατακριμα το δε χαρισμα εκ πολλων παραπτωματων εις δικαιωμα
και ουχ ως δι ενος αμαρτησαντος (kai ouch di henos hamartēsantos) “and is not as through one having sinned” ..
το δωρημα το μεν γαρ κριμα (to dōrēma to men gar krima) “the gift the truly for judgment was” .. dōrēma means “bestowment, gift given” .. it is something granted or given to someone as a gift ..
εξ ενος εις κατακριμα (ex henos eis katakrima) “of one was unto condemnation” .. katakrima means “penalty, punishment following condemnation, penal servitude” .. the idea of the word’s impact is that an ‘exact sentence’ of condemnation (punishment) is handed down after a proper process is undertaken to establish guilt ..
το δε χαρισμα εκ πολλων παραπτωματων εις δικαιωμα (to de charisma ek pollōn paraptōmatōn eis dikaiōma) “but the gift is out of many trespasses unto justification” .. dikaiōma means “a sentence of acquittal” .. the idea of the word’s impact is that of a judicially-approved action by a judge that focuses on a specific result ..
We are reminded throughout Romans that God is the Judge. He condemns and justifies –
“… who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:32
“Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?” Romans 2:1-3
“For there is no partiality with God. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law.” Romans 2:11-12
“… in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.” Romans 2:16
“But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?” Romans 3:5-6
“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” Romans 3:20-31
“For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
ει γαρ τω του ενος παραπτωματι ο θανατος εβασιλευσεν δια του ενος πολλω μαλλον οι την περισσειαν της χαριτος και της δωρεας της δικαιοσυνης λαμβανοντες εν ζωη βασιλευσουσιν δια του ενος ιησου χριστου
ει γαρ τω του ενος παραπτωματι ο θανατος εβασιλευσεν δια του ενος (ei gar tou henos paraptōmati ho thanatos ebasileusen dia tou henos) “if for by the of the one trespass death reigned through the one” .. the word thanatos can mean physical or spiritual death .. ebasileusen means “rule over, reign over” ..
Physical and spiritual death have reigned over the human race by the sin of Adam for many years.
πολλω μαλλον οι την περισσειαν της χαριτος και της δωρεας της δικαιοσυνης λαμβανοντες εν ζωη βασιλευσουσιν δια του ενος ιησου χριστου (pollō mallon hoi tēn perisseian tēs charitos kai tēs dōreas tēs dikaiosynēs lambanontes en zōē basileusousin dia tou henos Iēsou Christou) “how much more those the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness receiving in life will reign through the one Jesus Christ” .. lambanontes means “lay hold of, get” .. the idea of the word is to actively (aggressively) lay hold of something available to you ..
This is God’s ‘amazing grace’! Whereas death has reigned (aorist tense) through Adam’s sin against God – the abundance of God’s grace and His gift of righteousness will reign (future tense) through Jesus Christ forever!
“Now comes the statement of the contrast which extends over the next five verses. The points of difference are thrown into relief by the points of resemblance. These may be, perhaps, best presented by the subjoined scheme:—
Persons of the action.
One man, Adam.
One Man, Christ.
One act of trespass.
One act of obedience.
Character of the action viewed in its relation to the Fall and Salvation of man.
The great initial trespass or breach of the law of God.
The great accomplished work of grace, or the gift of righteousness.
Persons affected by the action.
Proximate effect of the action.
Influx of many transgressions.
Clearing away of many transgressions.
Ulterior effect of the action.
The offence.—Perhaps rather, trespass, to bring out the latent antithesis to the obedience of Christ. (Ellicott.)
One . . . many.—Substitute throughout this passage, “the one,” “the many.” By “the many,” is meant “mankind generally,” “all men.” Dr. Lightfoot quotes Bentley on the importance of this change: “By this accurate version some hurtful mistakes about partial redemption and absolute reprobation had been happily prevented. Our English readers had then seen what several of the Fathers saw and testified, that the many, in an antithesis to the one, are equivalent to all in Romans 5:12, and comprehend the whole multitude, the entire species of mankind, exclusive only of the one.” “In other words,” Dr. Lightfoot adds, “the benefits of Christ’s obedience extend to all men potentially. It is only human self-will which places limits to its operation.”
Much more.—Because God is much more ready to exercise mercy and love than severity, to pardon than to punish.
The grace of God, and the gift by grace.—The grace of God is the moving cause, its result is the gift (of righteousness, Romans 5:17) imputed by His gracious act to the many.” Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
“Romans 5:15-16. But not as the offence, &c. — The apostle now describes the difference between Adam and Christ, and that much more directly and expressly than the agreement between them. Now, the fall and the free gift differ, 1st, In amplitude, Romans 5:15; Romans 2 d, He, from whom sin came, and He from whom the free gift came, (termed also the gift of righteousness,) differ in power, Romans 5:16; Romans 3 d, The reason of both is subjoined, Romans 5:17; Romans 4 th, This premised, the offence and the free gift are compared with regard to their effect, Romans 5:18. And with regard to their cause, Romans 5:19. Not as the offence — The sin of Adam, and the misery that follows upon it; so also is the free gift — The benefit that arises to us from the obedience of Christ; that is, there is not a perfect equality and proportion between the evil that comes through Adam, and the benefit that comes by Christ: they are not equal in their influence and efficacy. For if through the offence of one many be dead — If the transgression of one mere man was effectual to bring down death, condemnation, and wrath upon all his posterity, or natural seed; much more the grace of God — His love and favour; and the gift — The salvation; by grace, which is by one man — Who, however, is God as well as man; even Jesus Christ — The divinely-commissioned and anointed Saviour; hath abounded unto many — Is more abundantly efficacious to procure reconciliation, pardon, righteousness, and life, for all that will accept them, and become his spiritual seed. The apostle’s design here is to compare Adam’s sin and Christ’s obedience, in respect of their virtue and efficacy, and to show that the efficacy of Christ’s obedience must needs be much more abundant than that of Adam’s sin. And not, &c. — As there is a difference in respect of the persons from whom these effects are derived, and the advantage is on the side of Christ; so there is a difference also in respect of the extent of the efficacy of their acts: thus, one sin brought condemnation; the mischief arose from one offence: here not only that one sin, but also many sins, — yea, all the sins of believers, — are pardoned, and their nature is renewed: so that the benefit exceeds the mischief. For the judgment — The guilt which exposed to judgment; was by one — Namely, by one offence; to Adam’s condemnation — Occasioning the sentence of death to be passed upon him, which, by consequence, overwhelmed his posterity: but the free gift — To χαρισμα, the gift of grace, is of many offences — Extends to the pardon not only of that original sin, but of all other personal and actual sins; unto justification — Unto the purchasing of it for all men, notwithstanding their many offences, and the conferring of it upon all the truly penitent that believe in Christ.” Benson Commentary
“5:15-19 Through one man’s offence, all mankind are exposed to eternal condemnation. But the grace and mercy of God, and the free gift of righteousness and salvation, are through Jesus Christ, as man: yet the Lord from heaven has brought the multitude of believers into a more safe and exalted state than that from which they fell in Adam. This free gift did not place them anew in a state of trial, but fixed them in a state of justification, as Adam would have been placed, had he stood. Notwithstanding the differences, there is a striking similarity. As by the offence of one, sin and death prevailed to the condemnation of all men, so by the righteousness of one, grace prevailed to the justification of all related to Christ by faith. Through the grace of God, the gift by grace has abounded to many through Christ; yet multitudes choose to remain under the dominion of sin and death, rather than to apply for the blessings of the reign of grace. But Christ will in nowise cast out any who are willing to come to him.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
’16. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift—’Another point of contrast may be mentioned.”
for the judgment—’sentence.’
was by one—rather, ‘was of one,’ meaning not ‘one man,’ but, as appears from the next clause, ‘one offense.’
to condemnation, but the free gift—’gift of grace.’
is of many offences unto justification—a glorious point of contrast. ‘The condemnation by Adam was for one sin; but the justification by Christ is an absolution not only from the guilt of that first offense, mysteriously attaching to every individual of the race, but from the countless offenses it, to which, as a germ lodged in the bosom of every child of Adam, it unfolds itself in his life.’ This is the meaning of ‘grace abounding towards us in the abundance of the gift of righteousness.’ It is a grace not only rich in its character, but rich in detail; it is a ‘righteousness’ not only rich in a complete justification of the guilty, condemned sinner; but rich in the amplitude of the ground which it covers, leaving no one sin of any of the justified uncancelled, but making him, though loaded with the guilt of myriads of offenses, “the righteousness of God in Christ.” Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one,…. It may be rendered, ‘by one offence death reigned by one’; for it was the single sin of Adam, the first sin that was committed by him, which gave death its reigning power over the sons of men:
‘Adam, say (f) the Jewish doctors, transgressed, , one commandment of the law,” and was the cause of death to himself, and to all the world. These words are a repetition, with a further explanation, of Romans 5:15; there it is said, ‘through the offence of one many be dead’; here ‘by one man’s offence’, or ‘by one offence, death reigned by one’; in which death is represented as a mighty monarch, a powerful king; and designs not only corporeal death, which has mounted the throne by sin, and is supported in its dominion by an ordinance of heaven; but also a moral or spiritual death, which has seized on all mankind, and reigns in every power and faculty of the soul of man; and likewise an eternal one, which will have power over all those, who have no part in the first resurrection: in Romans 5:15, ‘the grace of God, and the gift by grace’, are said to ‘abound unto many’; here they are said to receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness: by abundance of grace is designed, either something distinct from the justifying righteousness of Christ; such as the abundant grace and mercy of God, in regeneration and conversion; the various graces of the Spirit then implanted; the many things then wrought in the heart; the large discoveries! of pardoning grace, and the abundance of the love of God shed abroad in the soul by the Spirit: or rather the same with ‘the gift of righteousness’, because of the large display of the grace of God in it; by which ‘righteousness’ is meant, not righteousness or holiness infused into us; but the righteousness of Christ, which is a free grace gift, and is enjoyed in a way of receiving; which denotes the act of faith, and supposes giving; and hence there is no room for boasting, but great reason for thankfulness: now such persons who have received this abundant grace and free gift, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ; in corporeal life, they are not now subject to death as a penal evil, as other persons are, and though they die this death, they will triumph over it in the resurrection morn, they will rise again to everlasting life; they reign now in spiritual life over sin, Satan, and the world; and they will reign in eternal life, they will sit on thrones, wear crowns, and possess a kingdom of glory for ever and ever; and all by and through one, Jesus Christ, and not on account of any works, or merits of theirs.
(f) Zohar in Num. fol. 52. 1. Vid. Caphtor, fol. 102. 1. supra citat.” Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
“many died. Paul uses the word ‘many’ with two distinct meanings in v. 15, just as he will with the word ‘all’ in v. 18. He has already established that all men, without exception, bear the guilt of sin and are therefore subject to death … So the ‘many’ who die must refer to all Adam’s descendants. much more. Christ’s one act of redemption was immeasurably greater than Adam’s one act of condemnation.” John McArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, 2019, p 1551
Previous Romans Study eBooks
Commentary on Romans “The Gospel of God” Chapter 1 Verses 1-15
Commentary on Romans “The Gospel of God” Chapter 1 Verses 16-17
We will look at Romans 5:18-19 as we continue our study of the Gospel of God.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.