Romans 5:12-21

Deliverance From Sin as a Principle
Romans 5:12-8:17
The need for deliverance. Often when souls are converted they are initially full of appreciation, although still naive about the flesh. Time goes by and they sin, and sin again, and again…and discover the presence of indwelling sin (Rom. 7). They become shocked and afraid. They need to learn that the death and resurrection of Christ are sufficient to deliver them from sin. The way we find deliverance is outlined in these chapters. We learn in ch.6 that that the power of sin was broken at the cross, and we are dead to it; but we need to reckon it (“think it to be so”) as God does. Those coming from a legal background (ch.7) may try to obtain deliverance from sin through the Law; but this backfires and only makes the condition worse. We must learn to look completely away from ourselves and see Christ alone as our salvation. When a person has looked to Christ for salvation, they are indwelt by the Spirit of God, and receive the power to walk in “newness of life”. This is why Rom. 5:12 – 8:17 come in this order; it meets the need of the soul according to their experience.
Outline of Paul’s teaching on deliverance:
  • The doctrine of deliverance from sin (Rom. 5:12 – 7:6)
    • Our transfer into Christ’s race (Rom. 5:12-21)
    • Identification with Christ means freedom from sin’s dominion (Rom. 6:1-23)
    • Identification with Christ means freedom from the Law’s dominion (Rom. 7:1-6)
  • The experience of a soul under law leading to deliverance (Rom. 7:7-25)
  • The results that flow from deliverance (Rom. 8:1-17)
Five major contrasts:
  1. Two Races: Adam’s and Christ’s (Rom. 5:12-21)
  2. Two Masters: Sin and Righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23)
  3. Two Husbands: The Law and Christ (Rom. 7:1-6)
  4. Two Natures: The Old and New Natures (Rom. 7:7-25)
  5. Two Principles: The Laws of Sin & the Spirit (Rom. 8:1-17)
Sin and sins. In the previous chapters, the subject of how God deals with our sins (plural) is taken up; i.e. the fruit. But beginning with Rom. 5:12 God now addresses the nature that produces that fruit, called sin; i.e. the root.
  • It took the blood of Christ to deal with our sins.
  • it took the death of Christ to deal with sin.
It is interesting that the blood of Christ isn’t even mentioned once in Rom. 5:12 – 8:17, but His death is mentioned eight times. Note: God forgives us our sins, but He never forgives the sin nature. Instead He “condemned sin in the flesh”.
The subject changes here. In Rom. 1:1 – 5:11 it was a soul concerned with the penalty of his sins, and the judgment of God. In Rom. 5:12 – 8:17 it is a question of how someone who is justified can live a holy life.
  • Justification declares a person judicially righteous.
  • Sanctification makes a person practically holy. There is of course a positional aspect to sanctification in which a person is positionally holy, and that has nothing to do with their actions.
While we live here on earth we will always have the sin nature, but God has provided a way of deliverance from it, so we can live a holy life for God. As the Law had nothing to do with justification, so it has nothing to do with deliverance, unless it be to hinder deliverance (subject of ch.7). Paul is not teaching that we can reach sinless perfection; 1 John 1:10 would show the folly of that. But it is not normal Christian behavior to regularly practice sin, and it should not be presented as if there is no hope. Modern teachers often recommend fleshly means to suppress the flesh, but the answer is so clearly given in Romans.

We have been Transferred from Adam’s Race to Christ’s Race
Romans 5:12-21

The Origin of the Sin-nature, Adam’s Headship (5:12)

¶ 12 For this cause, even as by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: v.12 He leaves no stone unturned, and goes back to the beginning. Adam was made in the image of God, and fell. His descendants are made in Adam’s image (see Gen. 5:1, 3) and thus inherited the sin nature and the sentence of death. Death passing upon all men and all being sinners is a witness that Adam’s race fell when he fell. The fact that the woman sinned first then Adam followed (Gen. 3) shows that Paul is speaking of Adam in his role as the representative head of the human race, sometimes called a federal head. It is the same way he says that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek when Levi wasn’t even born; but he was “yet in the loins of his father” and Abraham acted as a federal head, on behalf of his posterity. The point of this verse is not to show that all are personally guilty; he spent Rom. 1 – 3 showing that fact. Rather it is to show that Adam’s fall generated (1) a race of sinners, and (2) the reign of death. The phrase (“all have sinned”) is in the aorist tense: showing Adam’s disobedience had a once-and-for-all effect on the race. This doesn’t make us responsible for Adam’s sins or the sin nature. For example: a young baby dies, not because it has sinned, but because it has a sin-nature, and the effects of its working in his body.

Showing that Christ as Well as Adam is a Federal Head (5:13-17)

vv.13-17 are a parenthesis. Not only was Adam a federal head that acted to effect all in his race, but Christ is a federal head, and He too has acted to effect all in His race! Each has left an imprint on his race, though both races were not in existence at the time of their actions.
13 (for until law sin was in the world; but sin is not put to account when there is no law; v.13 Even 2500 years before the law was given, sin was in the world, but it was not counted as “transgression” or double sin, because there was no direct commandment to transgress. See John 15:22-24 for a similar principle.
14 but death reigned from Adam until Moses, even upon those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam’s transgression, v.14a Death reigned even over those who lived relatively “righteous” lives, who had not sinned in as open a way as Adam did, who broke a direct, God-given command.
14b who is the figure of him to come. v.14b Adam as the head of a fallen race is the figure of Christ as the head of a new race (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18; Heb. 1:6; 2:11-13; Rev. 1:5). Christ is called, “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). He is the “last” Adam because no further races of men are forthcoming from God. Note: both heads acted before they had any posterity.
A Figure of Him to Come. In the next five verses, Paul shows various ways that Adam is a picture of Christ. Parallels and contrasts are brought out. WARNING: This section of Romans 5 can be very difficult to follow. Hang on tight because Paul is changing two things at once! He compares two things that contrast, then shows how the result is amplified with Christ.
  • v.15 The effect of what each head has done on his race.
  • v.16 The standing given to each race by its respective head.
  • v.17 The shift in power resulting from the actions of each head.
  • v.18 The general force of what each head has done for all men.
  • v.19 The effect of the obedience or disobedience of each head on his race.
vv.15-17 The three contrasts of the parenthesis are: (v.15) the objects, death or grace, (v.16) the standing of the soul, and (v.17) the result, either reigned over by death, or reigning in life. 
15 But shall not the act of favour be as the offence? For if by the offence of one the many have died, much rather has the grace of God, and the free gift in grace, which is by the one man Jesus Christ, abounded unto the many. v.15 Question: Does the “act of favor” done by Christ affect His race, as the “offense” committed by Adam affected his race? The answer is “Yes”. The wording is funny in the KJV. It means “it is like it but it is different”, or “it has corresponding features but it is opposite”. The word “abounded” shows that the magnitude of Christ’s work is far greater than that of Adam’s sin!
“if this”      ————— amplify ———–→ “then this”
Adam’s offense had a negative effect: it spread death to all in his race. Christ’s death and resurrection had an enormous positive effect: it spread the grace of God and the free gift (of justification) to all in His race.
Two many’s. The first “many” refers to all under Adam’s headship, the whole human race. The second “many” refers to the new creation race under Christ. This is different from the two “all’s” in v.18. 
16 And shall not as by one [man] that has sinned be the gift? For the judgment was of one [offense] to condemnation, but the act of favour, of many offences unto justification. v.16 Question: Does the free gift of God result in a new standing as the offense resulted in a new standing? The answer is “yes”. He compares (1) the changed standing, and (2) the number of “offenses” involved in the transaction.
“if this”      ————— amplify ———–→ “then this”
Adam’s one offense brought all in his race under threat of condemnation. The gift of God has dealt with many offenses, resulting in justification for all in His race.
Judgment vs. condemnation. Judgment means the sentence has been passed, condemnation means the punishment has been executed. This verse demonstrates that difference. See Darby translation on John 3:18.
17 For if by the offence of the one [man] death reigned by the one [offense], much rather shall those who receive the abundance of grace, and of the free gift of righteousness, reign in life by the one Jesus Christ:) v.17 Question: Does the free gift of God result in a shift in power (a new “reign”) as the offense resulted in the reign of death? The answer is “yes”. Once again, Paul is going to change two variables at once. He compares (1) the “size” of the contribution made, and (2) the resulting “reign”. We are looked at as reigning (not in a material sense, see 1 Cor. 4:8) in that we are liberated from the reign of sin and death. Our reigning is “in life” or in the sphere of life, by the life of Christ that we possess; a reign that will be fully realized only when we are glorified. The expression “much rather denotes amplification. If it was worthy of Adam not to limit the consequences of sin to Adam who fell, then it was much more worthy to extend the effects of grace according to God’s nature and the glory of Christ.
“if this”      ————— amplify ———–→ “then this”
Adam’s one offense resulted in death reigning over all in his race. God has given an abundance of grace, which has resulted in Christians reigning “in life” – probably a future sense, similar to eternal life.

The Transfer of a Soul from Adam to Christ (5:18-21)

18 so then as it was by one offence towards all men to condemnation, so by one righteousness towards all men for justification of life. v.18 Unlike the two “manys” in v.15, which were contrasting the two races of men, these two “alls” refer to the same people: the entire human race. This verse takes up the general force of what each head has done for “all men”.
Adam’s offense directed condemnation toward all men. Christ’s act of righteousness (His whole life and death looked at as one unbroken act) directed justification toward all men.
Justification of life means that we are declared righteous before God by virtue of the righteous life of Christ which we possess. Justification is more than just being cleared of all charges (Romans 3). We have been brought into a new position before God “in Christ” (Romans 4) and given a righteous life (Romans 5). The blood of Christ has justified us before God, but his death and resurrection has put us into a new position in Christ outside the judgement of God; a new life in Christ – a resurrection life.
19 For as indeed by the disobedience of the one man the many have been constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the one the many will be constituted righteous. v.19 This verse shows a soul being transferred from Adam to Christ. A sinner in Adam’s race is brought into Christ’s race and “constituted righteous” as a result of what Christ has done. This is the cornerstone of those who teach Christ kept the Law for us. They don’t see that Christ’s obedience was displayed in His whole life, but never so keenly as at the cross (Heb. 5:8-9). The word “constituted” means “to give legal or constitutional form to something, to appoint to an office, dignity, function, or task; designated”. It is a legal word that has the thought of being appointed. We are constituted righteous by being placed under Christ’s headship in His race.
Adam’s disobedience resulted in a race of sinners. Christ’s obedience (His whole life and death looked at as one unbroken act) resulted in a race of righteous men.
20 But law came in, in order that the offence might abound; but where sin abounded grace has overabounded, v.20 This verse compared law and grace. Both the “offence” and “grace” have abounded in opposite directions-with grace “overabounding”! This verse explains that the Law was brought in to reveal sin as being exceedingly sinful. See also Galatians 3:19. The Law was given to expose man’s true moral condition. Sinners under the Law can be justly charged with definite transgressions, because they have had specific commands, as opposed to those living “from Adam to Moses” (see v.14).
“if this”      ————— amplify ———–→ “then this”
The law caused sin to be magnified “abound” in notoriety. The magnification of sin became an opportunity for God to “overabound” or double-magnify His grace.
21 in order that, even as sin has reigned in the power of death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. v.21 This verse compares two spheres: the reign of sin and the reign of grace. A justified soul is no longer viewed as under that old headship and connected with its corresponding “reign of sin”; we are now part of the new race of men under Christ (2 Cor. 5: 17) and thus under the “reign of grace”. Eternal life in this verse is looked at in the future aspect, an “out-of-this-world” Condition of things, when we are glorified.
Sin has come to the throne on the principle of death’s power (universal over Adam’s race) ending in death. Grace has come to the throne on the principle of divine righteousness (the work of Christ) ending in eternal life.
Four Kings – kings are those who are in control:
  • (v.14) Death reigns … all are doomed to die.
  • (v.21) Sin reigns … all are helpless sinners.
  • (v.17) We reign “in life” … we are in the sphere of triumphant life; fully realized in the future.
  • (v.21) Grace reigns … God’s grace has overcome all.
Tagged with: