Death in Adam, Life in Christ. Romans 5:12-21

The NIV entitles this section – Death in Adam, Life in Christ

Here is a standard version of Romans 5:12.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people because all sinned— (Romans 5:12 NIV)

How about another translation that is a bit more relaxed, and perhaps, more comfortable to grasp.

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (Romans 5:12 NLT)

[A good question to ask here is: What was Adam’s understanding of death? Evidently, since God made the man in His exacting image, then Adam should have had an individual copy of God’s knowledge as well, but we don’t know that. Our presumption, although it clashes with the young earth crowd, is that Adam had to exist among the predatory dinosaurs. Since Adam named ALL the animals, then that would make sense. Considering that Adam had complete dominion over the earth, then I can safely assume that Adam could suppress any behavior with a word. Since we have nothing in scripture to enhance that idea, then I have to go with the theory that the first act of violence Adam witnessed was performed by God. Why tell someone you are will die that day, and then show them, after the fact, the death of several animals? That doesn’t make much sense, does it?]

And for contrast.

Here is how it works: it was through one individual that sin entered the world, and through sin, death; and in this way, death passed through to the whole human race, inasmuch as everyone sinned. (Romans 5:12 CJB)

It would seem to be common knowledge, even among the atheists, that sin came into the world through Adam. An acquaintance of mine would say, no; sin came into the world through Satan, or perhaps Eve. To think this way disregards God’s power and creative ability; and, it ignores the responsibility Adam had over the earth. In other words, through the transfer of dominion, or the entitlement that God gave Adam over the planet, Adam’s actions turned the Earth over to Satan.

[Having created this study and talked it over with a friend of mine, I briefly mentioned this comprehensive understanding of Adam to another small group. One lady said to me, “Why is any of that important?” I answered with, in scripture, it’s all important; and, unless you understand who and what Adam was, you will never comprehend the detail and depth of what Christ did for us.]

I have sat in teaching sessions where this passage is introduced, and Adam is labeled as treasonous.

I never really took the time to look up the word treason, but logically, I could grasp Adam’s actions in this manner. Is it a game-changing school of thought? Not really, but if you don’t understand the implications of Adam’s actions, you may never understand why God had to have a plan of action in place – that plan of action included putting His own Son on the cross to die.

Treason, according to Webster’s means: It is the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance, or of betraying the state into the hands of a foreign power. If that is the case, then Adam, certainly betrayed the planet into the hands of a foreign power, Satan.

How would I define Adam seeing as his actions were so overwhelming?

  • Made in the image of God.

Wasn’t Jesus made in the image of God? Most certainly. And, we are told, Jesus was the second Adam. Wasn’t Jesus sinless, and therefore perfect in all His ways? Yes; can we then say that Adam was perfect, or as the Hebrew put it, GOOD?

In Genesis 1:26 we see God saying, “Let US make man in our image, according to our image…” (NASB) It would be beneficial for you to read the entire narrative, which ends with: “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31 (NASB)

Pay attention to the phrase, very good. The word very is the Hebrew word meh-ode’, which includes the terms exceedingly or greatly. Good, is the Hebrew word tob, which also means pleasant, agreeable, and excellent. So, if Adam was exceedingly excellent, could it be said that he was perfect? Seeing as Jesus was patterned after Adam’s image, then again, I can assume that Adam was perfect.

  • Both Adam and Eve, in a spiritual state, not unlike the angels, had dominion over everything that moved and breathed upon the earth. Genesis 1:26 CJB 

The Amplified Bible says the man had “complete authority;”

The Contemporary English Version states that the man was like us (God.)

The English Standard translation tells us that man had dominion over everything.

And finally, the NLT says, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.

  • And finally, he was human.

But that did not happen until Genesis 2:7 NASB

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.

Since Paul is making a point about the contrasts between the first and second Adam, then there have to be similarities, doesn’t there? But we will cover those similarities momentarily.

What is the point of defining Adam, seeing as I was told this is unimportant?

To prove a point: That God is perfect and beyond sin, and yet can have the capability of introducing a tree of knowledge of good and evil without it affecting His own nature and character; that Adam was perfect, no less than Jesus was – made in the image of the Father; and, that Adam was God’s representative here on this earth. I could think of Adam as the key holder, and as such, he gave the entire planet away. [For those who can’t handle that idea, why did Satan say to Jesus, here are all the kingdoms of the earth and I will give them to you if you follow me. That kind of statement does not work unless it is accurate, and Jesus never argued the validity of the statement.]

Back to studying.

Romans 5:13 NASB for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Imputed means = charged to the account of.

Do you realize that this applies to Adam and Eve as well?

Think about the process that sin applied in taking down Adam. Eve was first deceived, but Adam, standing within arm’s length of her, and certainly within earshot of the serpent that was talking to her, did nothing to stop what was about to happen. What did I point out earlier? That the spiritual creation of humankind was in God’s image, and that they had control and dominion over the earth and every breathing thing on it; this includes this serpent. And yet, what did Adam do? Nothing.

What was one of the first pieces of evidence that we had of this sin applying to man’s actions?

So indeed, our first example was Adam and Eve, but we are hard-pressed to see an immediate action against them. Another more dominant example came when Cain got angry that God would not accept his sacrifice of vegetables. Read this in Genesis 4: 4-7, where God says to Cain,

If you are doing what is good, shouldn’t you hold your head high? And if you don’t do what is good, sin is crouching at the door—it wants you, but you can rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 CJB)

Unlike with Adam’s sin, Cain’s crime seems to be in our faces, as Able is struck violently in the head with a rock and buried, as though no one will find out. We also see Cain holding a bizarre conversation with God about people seeking to kill him, and his fleeing to a city called Nod.

One could argue that sin only got its foot in the door through Adam’s transgression, but even without sin being an integral part of their makeup, it got him. You see, sin is deeply embedded in selfish desire, and Adam chose to satisfy his own curious and immediate need that day.

Lacking any law, such as the tablets of stone given to Moses, was sin imputed to Adam?

Not just sin, but the corruption of all humanity from that day forward, as we all attribute and hold Adam responsible for this corrupted body we walk around in. Having been caught, doesn’t “the law” demand a penalty? Yes, and death was demanded – and Adam eventually died, in several different ways.

Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:14 NASB)

If there was a penalty, then there had to be a law, right?

If that was the case, what was the law?

Adam only had one demand placed upon him, don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in the center of the garden – for when you do, you will surely die.

Adam, knowing that something will change drastically, did nothing to shut up the serpent; did nothing to stop his woman from partaking, and then did it himself. So, yes, there was a “law.” Now, consider the word law for a moment. It is the Hebrew word nom’-os and has several unexpected alternate meanings: law (through the idea of prescriptive usage. That which is assigned); or, the observance of which is approved of God. So do these ideas fit the parameters by which Adam was supposed to live? Absolutely.

But how was the SIN being imputed?

Perhaps it was not – for God does not lie, and surprisingly, we don’t see Cain being burnt up by lightning or some other hideous and painful death. This train of thought blows holes in many of the teachings that conveniently don’t hold tightly to scripture, insisting that Adam belongs in hell. Sadly, even with NO imputation of sin, there was no escaping the immediate penalty, death, and Abel experienced that truth. Unfortunately, death reigned over Abel, and what did he do wrong, nothing, except being Cain’s brother?

Romans 5:14 goes on to say, this death even reigned over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam.

Remember how I went into great detail about Adam, to demonstrate the authority and power he yielded; and, at the same time, contrasting him with Jesus, the second Adam – come from God. Doesn’t a conversation like this tell you that there was so much more going on here in Adam’s actions than any mere flannel board bible story could convey?

Romans 5: 14 ends with Adam, a type of Him who was to come. What does the word “type” mean?

From Webster’s, the word type means “1. The mark of something; an emblem; that which represents something else. 2. A sign; a symbol; a figure of something to come; as Abraham’s sacrifice and the paschal lamb (the sacrificial Passover lamb) were types of Christ.” [Italics mine.]

Both of these examples: the Abrahamic sacrifice and the paschal/Passover lamb, were representative of the blood that covered our sin, the payment of death made on our behalf by Christ, and the protective covering that we are afforded through our relationship and faith in Him. (We previously covered how Christ saves us from the wrath of God through Him.)

Since Adam was a symbol of Christ, and he failed, then how did he represent Christ Jesus?

  • He came from God, and so did Jesus.
  • Adam was not born of man, and neither was Jesus. Keep in mind that WE have this sin motivation built into us. Neither Jesus nor Adam had sin driving them. Wait a minute. Adam failed, and so did Satan/Lucifer, and yet, Jesus did not, and we are told that He was tempted in every way, just as we are. What’s the difference? We are driven to sin, and they were not. One gave in to the temptation, and the other did not.

Take a moment to ingest this slowly.

Romans 5:16 CJB  No, the free gift is not like what resulted from one man’s sinning; for from one sinner came judgment that brought condemnation, but the free gift came after many offenses and brought acquittal.

  • No, the free gift is not like what resulted from one man’s sinning;”
  • for from one sinner came judgment that brought condemnation;”
  • but the free gift came after many offenses and brought acquittal.”

For if, because of the offense of one man, death ruled through that one man; how much more will those receiving the overflowing grace, that is, the gift of being considered righteous, rule in life through the one man Yeshua the Messiah! (Romans 5:17 CJB)

Because of one man, we are subject to death, how much MORE will those receiving the overflowing grace … I can’t say this any better than this translation puts it. Christ Jesus, through His death and resurrection, but perhaps Eugene Peterson’s Message can.

If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
(Romans 5:17 MSG)

Note the words, “those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life- gift.”  How have you received Him?

Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.
(Romans 5:18 NLT)

Whether we sinned or not?

I know, it’s impossible not to sin. Simply falling short in some area of your life or relationship with people or God would qualify as missing the mark; and we, if unprotected, would be under condemnation. Wait a minute. If we ARE ALL under condemnation, then wouldn’t WE ALL be destined to hell? Fortunately, a serious read of the Bible demonstrates that not all go to hell. As a matter of fact, it is only those who choose to reject Christ Jesus that go to hell.

What else does Romans 5:18 say? “but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.”

Clearly, not everyone chooses to enjoy this new life.
So how do I perceive what happened here? Jesus’ choice to choose the cross brought life to everyone, but something else must happen, you must accept that this was done on your behalf and put your trust in Him.

Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19 NLT)

A key phrase in Romans 5:19 proves my point, “one person obeyed God,” and because He obeyed, many will be made righteous. Now it is our turn to follow His lead and obey Him.

God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.
(Romans 5:20 NLT)

  • God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.”
  • “But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.”

So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:21 NLT)

Death is still in our faces, BUT, so is LIFE. We can’t stop this body from dying, but our souls can live eternally with Christ in Glory. Why? Because through Jesus grace RULES, whether you see it or not, and because of Christ Jesus, WE have right standing with God, and that gives us eternal life when we put our faith in Him.

This entry was posted in Adam, apologetics, Apostle Paul, bible study, disciplined, Faith, forgive, Freedom from sin, Genesis, gentiles, God's character, grace, Hope, In Christ, Jesus, Mercy, Peace, restore, righteous, Romans, Thoughts on scripture, understanding and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Death in Adam, Life in Christ. Romans 5:12-21

  1. gaustin00 says:

    What an excellent treatise on this very difficult concept! Well done Oz!


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