Lesson 17


The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

5:12 Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned. 5:13 For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not charged when there is no law. 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren’t like Adam’s disobedience, who is a foreshadowing of him who was to come. 5:15 But the free gift isn’t like the trespass. For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 5:16 The gift is not as through one who sinned: for the judgment came by one to condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses to justification. 5:17 For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ. 5:18 So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life. 5:19 For as through the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one will many be made righteous. 5:20 The law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly; 5:21 that as sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


 Today's Lesson 

Today's Scripture is a fairly dense, difficult passage with a relatively simple underlying thought. Paul had just stated that Christ died for us while we were enemies to God. Now we have received reconciliation through Jesus Christ our Lord. The contrast of these two states leads Paul to this thought contrasting Adam and Christ.

 

Paul's underlying thought is that through one act of sin Adam brought sin and death into the world. By one act of righteousness Jesus Christ brought the gift of God's grace into the world. The one act of righteousness is greater than the sin of Adam because Christ brings justification and reconciliation to all men that overcomes the trespass of Adam.

 

Adam and Christ are not just individuals but God sees them as representatives and progenitors of all who follow them. All mankind that followed Adam is seen "in Adam." All those who follow Jesus by faith are seen "in Christ." When Adam rebelled against God, sin entered the world. And, not just sin, but death as well. Death came to all of the descendants of Adam as a consequence of his sin. What is harder to grasp is that "in Adam," all of us sinned. We are all sinners of our own accounts. We are also all sinners because we are born children of Adam. Sin is imputed to us through Adam.

 

But, the free gift of God's grace is greater than the sin of Adam. "For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ." Grace is able to redeem and resurrect those slain by the trespass. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to all those that are "in Christ."

 

Paul wants to make another very important point about this comparison between Adam and Christ. Death reigned from Adam to Moses even though the Law had not yet been given at Sinai. Those who are "in Adam" are under sin whether they are Gentile or Jew. The Law does not alter their state. The Law does not enter into this comparison of Adam and Christ. The Law came later so that sin might abound.

 

But, where sin abounded (through the Law), grace abounded more and more. As sin reigned in death, grace reigns "through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." When we are accepted in Christ by grace through faith we are taken out of Adam and placed in Christ. When God looks at us, He sees only us in the body of Christ. Where once sin was imputed through Adam, now righteousness is imputed to us through Jesus Christ.

 

Who does God see when He looks at you? Does He see Christ, or Adam? Do you choose death through Adam or eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord? The question is really that simple!

 

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