“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:18-19
Paul’s ‘therefore’ is there for a reason, which we saw in the last part of our study. Here are the highlights –
- the free gift is not like the offense (Adam’s offense)
- if by one man’s offense many died, the gift of grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many
- the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned (Adam’s sin)
- the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation
- the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification
- if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one (Adam)
- much more those who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through Jesus Christ
We now move to the next part of Paul’s letter to the Romans to see where he will take us from these profound truth claims.
“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.”
αρα ουν ως δι ενος παραπτωματος εις παντας ανθρωπους εις κατακριμα ουτως και δι ενος δικαιωματος εις παντας ανθρωπους εις δικαιωσιν ζωης
αρα ουν ως δι ενος παραπτωματος εις παντας ανθρωπους εις κατακριμα (ara oun hōs di enos paraptōmatos eis pantas anthropous eis katakrima) “so then just as by one trespass to all men it is unto condemnation” .. paraptōmatos means “fall away after being close-beside, lapse, slip, false step, trespass, sin” .. katakrima means “penalty, results of judgment”
Adam’s sin (trespass) has led to all people falling into condemnation. All people “fall away” because of Adam’s sin. Even “as through one man’s’s offense judgment came to all men,” that judgment resulted “in condemnation”.
ουτως και δι ενος δικαιωματος εις παντας ανθρωπους εις δικαιωσιν ζωης (houtōs kai di enos dikaiōmatoss eis pantas anthropous eis dikaiōsin zōēs) “so also by one act of righteousness to all men it is unto justification of life” .. dikaiōmatos means “a righteous deed, a judicially-approved act” .. Jesus Christ did “one thing” and that one thing was “righteous,” it has God’s approval .. that one act of righteousness was “to all men” and it unto “justification of life” .. dikaiōsin is from the same root as dikaiōmatos and means “acquittal, act of pronouncing righteous” .. zōēs means “physical and spiritual life”
Even as Adam’s one “trespass” came to all men resulting in condemnation, Jesus Christ’s one “act of righteousness” brought the free gift to all men resulting in justification of life.
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
ωσπερ γαρ δια της παρακοης του ενος ανθρωπου αμαρτωλοι κατεσταθησαν οι πολλοι ουτως και δια της υπακοης του ενος δικαιοι κατασταθησονται οι πολλοι
ωσπερ γαρ δια της παρακοης του ενος ανθρωπου αμαρτωλοι κατεσταθησαν οι πολλοι (hōsper gar dia tēs parakoēs tou enos anthrōpou hamartōloi katestathēsan hoi polloi) “for as for through the disobedience of the one man sinners were made the many” .. parakoēs means “contrary hearing, a hearing amiss, imperfect hearing, refusal to hear properly” .. hamartōloi means “sinful, depraved, blatant sinner” .. polloi means “great in amount, many, numerous”
Paul reiterates his point that Adam’s disobedience made “many sinners” which resulted in condemnation of those sinners. The number is a ‘great’ amount, so great that Paul wrote in verse 18 that through Adam’s offense “judgment came to all men.” “All men” of verse 18 is the “many, numerous, great amount” in verse 19.
ουτως και δια της υπακοης του ενος δικαιοι κατασταθησονται οι πολλοι (houtōs kai dia tēs hypakoēs tou henos dikaioi katastathēsontai hoi polloi) “so also through the obedience of the one righteous will made the many” .. hypakoēs means “submission to what is heard, compliance, obedience” .. katastathēsontai means “appoint, set in order, give standing”
Paul reiterates his point that “through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” by saying in verse 19 that “by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
Look at it again:
- verse 18 – Adam’s disobedience made “many sinners” and that resulted in condemnation
- verse 19 – by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners
- verse 18 – through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life
- verse 19 – by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous
It’s quite clear that Adam’s one trespass led to judgment for all men and that Jesus’ one righteous act made many righteous. That means all men suffer from the guilt of ‘original sin’ that came from Adam and that only the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross could make many men righteous.
“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
“Here, after a long parenthesis, the apostle returns to what he had begun to say in Romans 5:12; and now he makes the comparison full in both members, which there, by reason of intervening matter, was left imperfect, as I before hinted.
Judgment; guilt, which exposeth to judgment.
Came upon all men; all the posterity, or natural seed, of the first Adam.
The free gift; that which all along he calls the free gift, seems to be the benefit believers have by Christ’s obedience.
Came upon all men; not all universally, but all sorts of men indifferently, Gentiles as well as Jews; or all that are his spiritual seed. Or all men here is put for many men.” Matthew Poole’s Commentary
“Many were made sinners.—The many, or mankind collectively, were placed in the position of sinners.
Obedience.—This term is chosen in contradistinction to the disobedience of Adam. The obedience of Christ was an element in the atonement. (Comp. Philippians 2:8, where it is said that he “became obedient unto death;” and Hebrews 10:7, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,” specially in connection with the atonement.) But if we interpret St. Paul by himself, we must not see in it the sole element to the exclusion of the “propitiatory sacrifice” of Romans 3:25; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 5:2; 1Timothy 2:6.
By the obedience of one – Of Christ. This stands opposed to the disobedience of Adam, and evidently includes the entire work of the Redeemer which has a bearing on the salvation of people; Philippians 2:8, “He …became obedient unto death.” Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
“For, &c.—better, “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so by the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous.” On this great verse observe: First, By the “obedience” of Christ here is plainly not meant more than what divines call His active obedience, as distinguished from His sufferings and death; it is the entire work of Christ in its obediential character. Our Lord Himself represents even His death as His great act of obedience to the Father: “This commandment (that is, to lay down and resume His life) have I received of My Father” (Joh 10:8). Second, The significant word twice rendered made, does not signify to work a change upon a person or thing, but to constitute or ordain, as will be seen from all the places where it is used. Here, accordingly, it is intended to express that judicial act which holds men, in virtue of their connection with Adam, as sinners; and, in connection with Christ, as righteous. Third, The change of tense from the past to the future—”as through Adam we were made sinners, so through Christ we shall be made righteous”—delightfully expresses the enduring character of the act, and of the economy to which such acts belong, in contrast with the for-ever-past ruin of believers in Adam. (See on Ro 6:5). Fourth, The “all men” of Ro 5:18 and the “many” of Ro 5:19 are the same party, though under a slightly different aspect. In the latter case, the contrast is between the one representative (Adam—Christ) and the many whom he represented; in the former case, it is between the one head (Adam—Christ) and the human race, affected for death and life respectively by the actings of that one. Only in this latter case it is the redeemed family of man that is alone in view; it is humanity as actually lost, but also as actually saved, as ruined and recovered. Such as refuse to fall in with the high purpose of God to constitute His Son a “second Adam,” the Head of a new race, and as impenitent and unbelieving finally perish, have no place in this section of the Epistle, whose sole object is to show how God repairs in the second Adam the evil done by the first. (Thus the doctrine of universal restoration has no place here. Thus too the forced interpretation by which the “justification of all” is made to mean a justification merely in possibility and offer to all, and the “justification of the many” to mean the actual justification of as many as believe [Alford, &c.], is completely avoided. And thus the harshness of comparing a whole fallen family with a recovered part is got rid of. However true it be in fact that part of mankind is not saved, this is not the aspect in which the subject is here presented. It is totals that are compared and contrasted; and it is the same total in two successive conditions—namely, the human race as ruined in Adam and recovered in Christ).” Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
“This verse is not a mere repetition of the former, but it is an explanation. By the former statements it might perhaps be inferred that people were condemned without any guilt or blame of theirs. The apostle in this verse guards against this, and affirms that they are in fact sinners. He affirms that those who are sinners are condemned, and that the sufferings brought in on account of the sin of Adam, are introduced because many were made sinners.” Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
“… so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous; not by their own obedience; nor by their own obedience and Christ’s together; but by his sole and single obedience to the law of God: and the persons made righteous by it are not all the posterity of Adam, and yet not a few of them; but “many”, even all the elect of God, and seed of Christ; these are all made righteous in the sight of God, are justified from all their sins, and entitled to eternal life and happiness.” Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
“made righteous. This expression probably refers to one’s legal status before God and not an actual change in character, since Paul is contrasting justification and condemnation throughout this passage, and he has not yet introduced the doctrine of sanctification (chaps. 6-8) which deals with the actual transformation of the sinner as a result of redemption.” John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, 2019, p 1551
“just as the one sin of Adam brought condemnation, so also did the one righteous act of Christ bring justification. Just as condemnation spread to all, so also is the divine acquittal offered to all. Paul did not intend to imply that the result of Christ’s atoning work automatically provided justification for all regardless of their willingness to accept it. Universal salvation is not taught in this text. Context indicates that Paul was comparing the fate of those who are in Adam (the position of all by virtue of their birth into the human race) and the blessings of those who are in Christ (the position of all who have responded in faith). Paul’s final contrast was between the disobedience of Adam and the obedience of Christ (v. 19). By the disobedience of the first man the entire race was constituted sinners. But by the obedience of the second man “the many will be made righteous.” As in v. 15 we are to understand “the many” in terms of all who are in Adam (everyone who is born into the human family) and all who are in Christ (everyone who has been born into the family of God by faith in Christ). The righteousness of which Paul spoke is a right standing before God (cf. 2 Cor 5:21). It is imputed by God as a result of faith. Righteousness as conduct (sanctification) is dealt with in chaps. 6–8. Growth in holiness is the proof that righteousness by faith has in fact been imputed. By definition, life is growth. Where there is no growth, there is no life.” Mounce, Robert (2010). Romans. B&H Publishing Group
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.
Previous Romans Study eBooks
We will look at Romans 5:20-21 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.