One man sinned—a whole race suffers for it; one Man lived righteously—a whole race wins life by it. But what about Law? . . . . Law only came in by the way, to intensify the consciousness of guilt.” – John Owen
Summary of Romans 1-5
So far Paul has given us five benefits of justification through faith (God declaring us not guilty for our sins):
- A new relationship with God characterized by peace
- Access to God through Christ
- Hope of sharing “the glory of God”
- A new understanding in suffering
- A new assurance in judgment
In this section, Paul adds a sixth benefit of justification: the gift of righteousness. He gives us a lengthy contrast between Adam (the first man) and the results of sin and Jesus Christ (the “second man”) and His generous provisions of atonement through life and death.
Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ (vs. 15-19)
While Adam is a pattern that represents created humanity, Christ represents a new spiritual humanity. Shepherd’s Notes identifies five parallels between Adam and Christ. The first three are contrasts, and the last two are comparisons:
- A contrast between Adam’s trespass, through which many died, and the free gift of God’s grace in Christ, which has abounded for many (vs. 15).
- A contrast between the condemnation that followed Adam’s trespass and the justification that follows the free gift of God’s grace (vs. 16).
- A contrast between the death that reigned through Adam’s trespass and the much greater reign in the lives of those who receive the free gift of God’s grace (vs 17).
- A comparison between the condemnation that came to all people through Adam’s trespass and the acquittal that comes to all people through Christ’s act of righteousness (vs. 18).
- A comparison between the disobedience of Adam, through which the many were made sinners, and the obedience of Christ, through which the many will be made righteous (vs. 19).
Although we are all born into Adam’s family line of sin, resulting in separation from God, judgment, and death—God’s grace trumps sins’ rule of death through God’s justifying work in Christ: “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (vs. 20-21).
Because of Jesus, we can trade judgment for forgiveness. He invites us to choose life by being born into His spiritual family, which begins with forgiveness and leads to eternal life. By faith in Christ and His work on the cross, we can become His children and reign over sins’ power.
Which family do you belong to?