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©Michael Player

Chapter 5:12-21 (ESV)

Posted on December 20, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 5:12-21 (ESV) - Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Question to consider: How did Adam’s transgression make him a type for Christ?

After proving that all people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Paul then proved by way of Abraham that our justification before God was given to us through faith in Christ and not out of personal law keeping. Paul anticipated that some of his readers may raise the question of how Christ’s sacrifice could pay for the sin of the whole world since everyone should be held guilty for their own crimes against God.

His response was to point out that sin came into the world through the one man, Adam. Even though the Law of Moses hadn’t been given yet which holds all men accountable to their sins, Paul explained that people still died between Adam and Moses. Even though people may not have sinned in the same way as Adam, they inherited his sin nature which leads to death. While it may seem unfair that the whole world should be doomed because of the sin of one man, everyone could just as easily deserve the same punishment due to their own sin.

Paul revealed that this imputation of original sin made Adam a type for Christ Jesus, the second Adam. For just as sin was imputed to us through Adam, righteousness could then be imputed to us through Christ. The Law was then given to increase sin. That may sound kind of weird, but the Law reveals our sin nature and brings us to the place where we are ready to receive the free gift of righteousness through Christ.

A good example of this was Jesus’ sermon on the mount. He intentionally spoke of the Law being applied to our heart motives in order to leave those who thought they were blameless according to the letter of Law spiritually bankrupt. If people were afraid that their increased sin under the Law would negate the grace extended to them by Christ, Paul assured them that “where sin increased, grace increases all the more.”

James, the brother of Jesus, made a similar point after writing that friendship with the world made people an enemy of God. His response was, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 2:6) While this is an assurance to those who are repentant of their sin, it is important mention that Paul was not saying that people should sin in order for grace to abound. He will deal with this idea in the next couple of chapters, but in the meantime, the reader should be encouraged by the fact that there is no sin that they have committed which cannot be covered by the grace of Christ.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for clothing us in the righteousness of Christ even though we deserve the full penalty of our sin. Help us to walk in newness of life and teach others to do the same. Amen.