• Brian O'Kelly

29 - Romans 5 (Part 2)



Today’s text:

2.1. 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— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 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. 15 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.


16 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. 17 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.)

18 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. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord

3. Sin Entered

4. 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—

4.1. It is important to note, that Paul understood Adam and Eve as real people, and the sin in the garden as a real event. So did Jesus. It is important because it represents the beginning of our “sin problem” and it validates the story of the garden. One might suggest that Paul didn’t have any better idea and was just going with the Genesis story because it’s all he knew. It’s all well and good if someone wants to believe that, how Jesus who was “in the beginning” according to John 1:1 also managed to misunderstand this. Part of the problem of understanding Genesis is purely an allegorical explanation for the creation of the world and the creation of man is that we have to assume that Jesus was likewise uninformed about how the world or mankind began.

4.2. Now notice that it says, “sin entered the world and death through sin” Sin was the doorway through which death entered the world.

4.3. I believe that the Adam and Eve were meant to live forever. The product of sin was that Adam and Eve were banished from the garden. In the garden was the tree of life. As long as they were in the garden, they had access to the tree and they didn’t have to die. I have a much longer, to episode explanation of the doctrine of inherited sin and refuting this doctrine as well in episodes eight and nine of the footlight broadcast available at my website www.thefootlight.com. But when they were sent out of the garden, they lost access to that tree. If you look at the second half of the verse it says, “death spread to all men”. Paul doesn’t say that sin spread to all men. He says specifically it's death that spread to all men.

4.4. There are consequences for sin. Even for the person who doesn’t commit the sin. For example, if your father abuses alcohol even though it’s his sin, the consequences are still going to roll off on other people. So, the consequences of Adam’s sin rolled off on all of humanity in that none of us have access to the tree of life so all now die.

5. Sin not imputed

5.1. In verse 13, Paul begins a long parenthesis, that ends in verse 17. The idea of a parenthesis is that we should be able to pick up the sentence without the parenthesis and still have one flowing idea. Apparently, Paul felt the need to clarify verse 12. Notice that verse 12 doesn’t end with a period but with a hyphen. Paul himself was concerned that verse 12 would be misunderstood and he was not wrong. Without the parenthesis, verses 12 and 18 read together would be this: 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—18 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.

5.2. Thus, he begins a long explanation of what he means in verse 12.

5.3. 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

5.3.1. Sin is defined as missing the mark. You can’t miss the mark if you don’t know what the mark is. It was still wrong, but that doesn’t make it rebellion. So while people did many wrong things it wasn’t the same as contravening a direct command from God.

6. Death Reigned

6.1. 14 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.

6.1.1. Even though the sin was not imputed because it was not rebellion, all died as a downstream consequence of the sin of Adam’s disobedience in the garden. Notice that it’s not because of Eve’s disobedience. Even though Eve was the first deceived. “14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” 1 Timothy 2:14

6.1.2. Now this “likeness of the transgression of Adam” means that Adam’s act was one of rebellion and not everyone was a rebel in the same way as Adam who had contradicted a direct command of God.

6.1.3. The “even over those who had not sinned” doesn’t mean that they didn’t do anything wrong. They had done wrong things, and they also died. While Augustine and Calvin later connected these events as though it was the sin that caused the death, it was the sin of Adam causing people to be separated out of the garden that meant that they died.

6.1.4. The reformed view says that because we were “in Adam” as opposed to being “from Adam” that we have inherited sin. That we are born stained, born guilty, and that this is entirely unchangeable.

6.1.5. It is in part from this verse that infant baptism arose, after all if we are stained from the beginning, and guilty at the time of our birth, then if the baby died shortly after being born in prior to the cleansing of baptism, that baby would go to hell.

6.1.5.1. There are several problems with this view, not least of which is a fundamental misunderstanding of baptism. Everywhere the Bible says, “believe and be baptized” not be baptized and then believe.

6.1.5.2. In Acts 2:38-39 it says “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” The key to this verse are the first two words, “repent, and”. Baptism that precedes repentance accomplishes nothing. It is only a baptism that is subsequent to repentance that is important, and it is not the baptism that causes the remission of sins it is the repentance. “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” Romans 10:10

6.1.5.3. Augustine was challenged on his view. The question was asked: since it says “9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9 then when a man who has been “cleansed of all unrighteousness” marries a woman who is similarly been cleansed of all unrighteousness, where does the unrighteousness in the baby come from? Augustine’s answer was that the act of sexual intercourse between husband and wife required a sinful lust. Augustine considered the normal and healthy drive to procreate in the normal and healthy desire for one another inside of marriage to be sinful.

6.1.5.4. This is the reason that Catholicism insists on the perpetual virginity of Mary. After all if Mary had relations with Joseph, even after they were finally married, it would be evidence of Mary’s sinfulness. The Catholic view is not that there was only one sinless person, namely Jesus, but that Mary also lived a sinless life. There’s not a single verse of Scripture that supports this idea. In fact the Bible teaches that Jesus had brothers.

6.1.5.4.1. John 7:3-5 3 His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him.

6.1.5.4.2. Matthew 12:46 46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. 47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”

6.1.5.4.3. There are a fair number of linguistic gymnastics that are done to argue against the idea that this is to be understood as natural brothers. The Catholic Church introduces here the idea that “brothers” is more to be understood in terms of the way we often use it in the church, calling each other brother or sister. The problem with this idea is that the concept of becoming children of God was introduced after the death of Jesus. Writing in the Gospel of John in chapter 1 and verse 12 John says “12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

6.1.5.4.4. We have to allow for the idea that brothers here could mean half-brothers. We don’t hear anymore about Joseph after the incident where they left Jesus in the temple. It is inferred that Jesus’s trade as a carpenter was also his father’s trade as was the custom. It’s possible that Joseph and Mary were divorced, although this would be extremely unlikely since it likely would have been used as a weapon and a term of derision against Jesus and we hear nothing of the sort. It’s also possible, but again unlikely that Joseph died at some point along the way and Mary had remarried and these brothers could have been the product of that second marriage. Again, this is an extremely unlikely scenario.

6.1.5.4.5. We should remember in considering these things, however unlikely, that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because the Bible doesn’t say anything about it, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, but I’m much more comfortable suggesting it did happen or making it up out of whole cloth simply to justify a doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity that is also absent from Scripture. In the end we have to insert or read into the story of Jesus’s life and Mary’s life several ideas that simply don’t appear in the Bible. This of course is what is called eisegesis which is where we insert an idea into the text as opposed to exegesis where we are getting ideas out of the text.

6.2. So, the evidence that there was death in the world, even without the law is the “evidence” that Augustine and Calvin after him used (in part) to declare that the sin of Adam was inherited.

7. A type of “Him who was to come”

7.1. Adam and Jesus are similar in that both entered the world sinless, and the behavior of both had consequences for all of mankind.

8. The free gift

8.1. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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.)

8.1.1. Is the gift different from the offense in its impact on the individual or in its impact on mankind? If he’s talking about the impact on the individual it may just be in that the gifts work in opposite directions one toward condemnation and the other toward salvation. However, if were talking about the impact on mankind they are entirely different not only in the direction of the impact whether for salvation or destruction, but also potentially in terms of scope, which is the next part of verse 15.

9. The Gift Not Like the Offense

9.1. 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. In the Greek, many here is really “the many” so we can read it, “by the one man’s offense the many died” and “the gift by the grace of one man, Jesus Christ abounded to the many”. This appears to be at first glance the same “the many”. This verse has been of great encouragement to Christian Universalists. They say that since the offense of Adam caused death for all men, that the gift of Jesus causes life for all men. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Christian universalism, it is one of three views of hell that have been held since the earliest days of the church. Those three being: the traditional view of hell or eternal conscious torment, annihilation which is the view that after punishment in hell one ceases to exist, and Christian universalism which says that hell is a place of rehabilitation. They would suggest that death does not end one’s opportunity. Rather, that God continues to draw men in hell no matter how long it takes until they eventually see that God sustained them alive for purposes of reclaiming them to himself. After all, they were God’s to begin with and God is committed to their reconciliation.

9.1.1. Colossians 1:19-20 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself.

9.1.2. This is today, a nearly prohibited view. Although for the first nearly two centuries of the church it was the dominant view of most church leaders including Clement of Alexandria. At some point, probably after this series on Romans, I’m going to do an episode or two on the three views of hell. There are good Scriptural arguments for all three views. Personally, I think that the eternal conscious torment view or the most common view today has the weakest scriptural case and is probably the most unlikely. While many remain firmly committed to the traditional view or the Christian Universalists view, and I can’t rule out the possibility that either of those views could be correct, I lean strongly annihilationist.

9.2. 16 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. 17 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.)

9.2.1. Remember, Paul is still in his parenthesis here, explaining his idea from verse 12 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—, the sentence that he ended with a hyphen, only to be picked up in verse 18.

9.2.1.1. He points out here two key differences. The first of which is “one offense” while the second is “many offenses”. It was a singular sin of Adam, that resulted in “death reigning” while the free gift was the forgiveness or reconciliation for all of the sins of all mankind.

9.2.1.2. The second difference is in verse 17 where he says “those who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness”

9.2.1.3. In the first instance “death” is personified. We see this again in the Revelation (and by the way it’s not Revelations) where “death” is seen riding a horse. Of course “death” is not a person and doesn’t write anything, nor does it reign. However, “those who receive” are individuals. The Greek word that Paul uses here is “lambano”

9.2.1.4. Lambano, is defined:

9.2.1.4.1. “take, have, catch”

9.2.1.4.2. to take with the hand, lay hold of, any person or thing in order to use it

9.2.1.4.3. to take what is one's own, to take to one's self, to make one's own

9.2.1.4.4. to claim, procure, for one's self

9.2.1.5. we have here in this concept of receiving the idea of an act of receiving. For example, many peoples around the world during the pandemic known as Covid 19 have received some kind of payment from their governments. However for that gift to have value the recipient would have to actively do something with the gift. They would have to spend it, save it, or give it away for it to have value to them. If they simply discarded it or ignored it it would have no value to them and would be wasted. This in my view is the idea that Paul is conveying. The sin of Adam caused a general condition for all mankind of being separated from the tree of life. This is true regardless of the actions of any individual man. The gift however requires an act of receiving.

9.2.1.6. My view is not that Paul is teaching that in the same way as death became a general condition that salvation also became a general condition. The view that salvation became a general condition is the one of the Christian Universalists. A view that requires no active receiving on the part of the recipient.

9.3. This section of Scripture is much debated and much disagreed upon my better educated and better theological minds than my own.

9.3.1. For this reason, I think it’s prudent that you don’t accept my view as a view that is necessarily correct. It’s extremely important that you seek the Lord in this and the Holy Spirit to see what insight the Lord may provide you in the process.

9.3.2. Paul’s language in these verses, even though he’s seeking to clarify with his parenthesis, is ambiguous.

9.3.3. Personally, I feel no compulsion on any issue to agree with the commentary of those who’ve gone before me. Nor of any other teacher or preacher. You shouldn’t take my word for anything either. Rather, we’ve all been given Bibles and the Holy Spirit.

9.3.3.1. John 16:13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth

9.3.3.2. A. W. Tozer says in his book “The pursuit of God” that if (and I’m paraphrasing) 100 pianos are all tuned to the same tuning fork there will be automatically tuned to each other and operate in perfect harmony, but if they are tuned instead one to another in succession, even the smallest variation in one of these tunings would mean that this orchestra would operate in less harmony and therefore less unity.

9.3.3.3. In the same way, if all Christians are tuned to the Holy Spirit, we have no need of concern as to whether or not we are tuned to any other additional Christian.

10. Picking up the parenthesis

10.1. 18 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.

10.2. The main difficulty of this verse is the “all men”. If the “all men” in the beginning of the sentence means everyone who was ever born, it might mean that the second “all men” also means everyone who was ever born.

10.3. What does it mean “came to all men” the Hebrew word means “declare” or “pronounce” as in a “pronouncement” of a king, or ruler of some kind. Now Jesus certainly is a King. The father we also know, is said to “sit on the throne” although this too, is in anthropomorphism. We know that “God is Spirit” John 4:24 and as such he doesn’t sit at all.

11. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

11.1. And we are back to where we started with “the many” on both ends of this verse.

11.2. It seems weird that we were made sinners by the decision of someone else. Yet the reality is that we all then participate(d) in our own sin. In the same way, we need to participate in our own salvation by accepting the free gift.

11.3. I’d like to offer more clarity on this than I can. The reason that theologians have had so much difficulty with this section of Scripture is because the language that Paul himself uses is quite ambiguous. So ambiguous that Paul puts in a parenthesis for purposes of clarifying. Unfortunately, the parenthesis doesn’t appear to accomplish its purpose of clarification. At least, not very well.

12. 20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

12.1. The basic idea here is that if the purpose of the law was to demonstrate our sin. Sins reign was marked by death, and grace is marked through righteousness. If we remember back to Genesis 15:6 that “Abraham believed God and was counted to him for righteousness”. It is my own view that for grace to reign through righteousness requires an act of believing on the part of the Christian. The New Testament speaks everywhere of a salvation by faith. The Christian Universalists will agree with this idea that one must believe in Jesus and the work of the cross for salvation and that God because he is “unwilling that any should perish” 2 Peter 3:9 that God provides a way after death for everyone to have an opportunity to believe. Even in this view, salvation is through faith and an act of the unbeliever of receiving.

12.2. Paul has already clarified back in chapter 3 and verse eight that we are not to sin for purposes of attempting to demonstrate God’s grace. 8 And why not say, “Let us do evil that good may come”?