Romans 5:15-21 – Adam and Jesus – Reign Makers

Last week we saw the significance of understanding humanity’s fundamental problem.

  • For if our fundamental problem is behavior – acts of sin – then the remedy is simply behavior modification.
  • But, if our fundamental problem is one of dominion – of who owns us – then the remedy is all together different.

 

Today Paul deals with the connection between Adam and Jesus.

  • The very thing he started in Romans 5:12.
  • Specifically, he “explains the typological relationship between Adam and Christ” – Douglas Moo.
  • And, like our fundamental problem, the connection between Adam and Christ has significant implications for understanding our condition and its remedy.

 

 

Romans 5:15–21 (ESV) — 15 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. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 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. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

 

Verse 15:

Romans 5:15 (ESV) — 15 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.

 

Paul sets up the Adam and Jesus connection for us with a contrast.

  • He distinguishes between the “free gift” of Christ and “the trespass” of Adam.
  • He says they are “not like” each other.

 

He then tells us why.

  • many died through one man’s trespass”.
  • Yet, “abounded for many” was “the free gift” and “grace of God” by the “one man Jesus Christ”.

In other words:

  • Adam – death to humanity through trespass.
  • Jesus – free gift to humanity through grace.

 

 

Verse 16:

Romans 5:16 (ESV) — 16 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.

 

Paul then contrasts the “the result” that followed Adam’s sin with the “free gift” of Jesus that followed many sins.

  • The result” of Adam’s action is “not like” Jesus’ “free gift”.

 

Paul says of the “one man’s sin” – Adam’s sin:

  • It resulted in “condemnation”.
  • Why? Because God judged it.

 

One sin, I repeat, one sin of Adam brought condemnation to all of us.

  • Every human being was sentenced to Garden Exile because of Adam’s one sin.

 

He then says of the “many trespasses” – humanity’s sin:

  • They resulted in “justification”.
  • Why? Because this sin was followed by Jesus’ “free gift” and not judgment.

 

So after many, many, many sins the grace of God in Jesus Christ reversed the judgment on Adam.

  • Paul wants us to see that Adam put the hurt on us with one
  • But Jesus Christ’s “free gift” could overcome a legion of sins!

 

 

Verse 17:

Romans 5:17 (ESV) — 17 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.

 

Paul then explains how the “free gift” could have such enormous power.

  • And again, he does so by way of contrast.

 

Adam’s “trespass” put all of humanity under the reign of death.

  • death reigned through that one man”.
  • Again, this is Garden Exile.

 

But, and this is huge, Paul says “much more”…

  • Paul, as he did with the contrast in verse 16, wants us to see that…
  • Though Adam might be a type for Christ…
  • There is not a one-to-one correlation.
  • Jesus is of a completely different kind.

 

Tom Schreiner captures this well:

  • “It is one thing to blemish what is beautiful, but it is much harder to set straight what is already crooked” – Tom Schreiner.

 

And Douglas Moo points out:

  • “The work of Christ, being a manifestation of grace, is greater in every way than that of Adam”.

 

So, “much more”…“through the one man Jesus Christ” comes:

  • The “abundance of graceAND the “free gift of righteousness in life”.
  • But…this is for “those who receive”.

 

In other words:

  • In Adam, we live under the reign of death.
  • In Christ, we live under the reign of life – “free gift of righteousness” and “abundance of grace”.

 

Notice there that Paul defines the “free gift”.

  • It is righteousness – saving activity.

 

So the “free gift” – Jesus’ saving activity/righteousness – has such enormous power…

  • Because it brings us into a new dominion – into new ownership.
  • A dominion of Grace and Life!

 

 

Verse 18:

Romans 5:18 (ESV) — 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

 

After the mother lode of truth in verse 17, Paul can now repeat himself for added emphasis.

  • Adam’s “one trespass led to condemnation for all men”.
  • But, Jesus’ “one act of righteousness (the free gift) leads to justification and life for all men”.

 

BTW – Paul says “justification and life for all men”.

  • Does this text support the Universalist’s case?

 

 

Verse 19:

Romans 5:19 (ESV) — 19 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.

 

Again, Paul continues to reiterate the significance of Jesus’ “free gift”.

  • Adam’s “disobedience” ensured that all of us would sin.
  • But, Jesus’ “obedience” ensures that “many will be made righteous”.

 

As he did earlier, Paul is going out of his way to make sure that we notice a substantial difference between the man Adam and the “man” Jesus.

  • Why – because one must ask how does Jesus’ obedience reverse Adam’s disobedience?

 

I would argue that Jesus’ obedience has such power; his free gift has such power, because He is God and man.

  • It seems to me that only a God-man could bring about a new dominion for the dead and condemned.
  • An obedient human can’t lead us, it seems to me, out of Garden Exile.
  • After all, God is in the way (Gen 3).
  • Perhaps, a human could assist with behavior modification, but behavior isn’t our fundamental problem.

 

 

Verses 20-21:

Romans 5:20–21 (ESV) — 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

In these verses, Paul changes it up on us just a bit.

  • As if to bring verses 13 and 14 back into the equation, he brings us back to the law.

 

Remember, we saw last week that it was dominion and not trespass that was our fundamental problem.

  • But, for the Jew, this leaves the law in an awkward place.

 

So Paul, understanding this says:

  • The “law came to increase” the sin and trespass – kind of weird.
  • As N.T. Wright puts it the law is “a disturbing note” that has “intensified the problem”.

 

Wright goes on to say:

“Sin, in the sense of ordinary human wrongdoing, is by itself like a small colour slide, a photograph or piece of film which by itself you can barely see with the naked eye. What the law does is to put this tiny thing into a projector with a bright light behind it and a big screen in front of it. The law draws attention to sin, but by itself is powerless to do anything about stopping it.” – N.T. Wright.

 

Why is this a good thing?

 

Well, Paul already said, “the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many” (vs. 15).

  • Now, he is telling us that after the law, this grace “abounded all the more” (vs. 20).

 

In other words, the law shows us our problem of dominion.

  • It’s not that we sin, it’s that we are powerless under sin.
  • We are powerless to not sin.
  • The law makes this obvious.

 

The only solution to this is to be joined to the abounding grace of Christ.

  • This “grace in which we now stand” (5:1).

As Paul says in verse 21:

  • as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

This is so important because:

  • This grace is an entirely new dominion – an entirely new realm.
  • Jesus’ free gift moves us out of the reign of death into the reign of grace!
  • We have a new address in Christ!

 

 

Conclusion:

So what is the fundamental way that Adam is a type for Jesus?

“Adam functions as a figure who corresponds to Jesus Christ in terms of the effect of his actions upon the rest of humanity” – Tom Schreiner.

 

I like to put it this way.

  • Adam and Jesus are both “reign makers”.

 

Through Adam, we are all under the reign of sin and death.

  • But through Christ, we are all under the reign of grace through His “free gift” of righteousness.