Romans 5:12
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerNewellParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTeedTTBVWSWESTSK
(12-21) Contrast between the reign of death introduced by the sin of Adam, and the reign of life introduced by the atonement of Christ.

The sequence is, first sin, then death. Now, the death which passed over mankind had its origin in Adam’s sin. Strictly speaking, there could be no individual sin till there was a law to be broken. But in the interval between Adam and Moses, i.e., before the institution of law, death prevailed, over the world. which was a proof that there was sin somewhere. The solution is, that the sin in question was not the individual guilt of individual transgressors, but the single transgression of Adam. Here, then, is the contrast. The single sin of the one man, Adam, brought death upon all mankind; the single act of the one Redeemer cleared away many offences—also for all men. Under the old dispensation law entered in to intensify the evil; but, in like manner, under the new, grace has come in to enhance and multiply the benefit. Thus the remedial system and the condemnatory system are co-extensive, the one over against the other, and the first entirely cancels the second.

(12) Wherefore.—The train of thought which follows is suggested by the mention which had just been made of atonement, reconciliation. We see here another instance of the Apostle’s fondness for transcendental theology, and for the development of the deeper mysteries of God’s dealings with man. The rapidity with which ideas of this kind throng into his brain is such as to break the even flow and structure of his sentence.

As by one man.—This clause, “As by one man sin and death entered,” ought to have been answered by “So by one Man grace and life entered.” But a difficulty occurs at the very outset. How can it really be said that sin and death entered by Adam? For sin does not exist without law, and the law did not come in till Moses. And yet we have proof that sin must have been there; for death, its consequence, prevailed all through this period in which law was still wanting. The fact was, the sin which then prevailed, and had such wide and disastrous effects, was Adam’s. So that it is strictly legitimate to compare his fall with the act of redemption. It is strictly true to say that by one man sin and death entered into the world, as life and grace entered by another. In either case the consequence was that of one man’s act.

For that all have sinned.—.Rather, for that, or because, all sinnedi.e., not by their own individual act, but implicitly in Adam’s transgression. They were summed up, and included in him as the head and representative of the race.

Romans 5:12-13. Wherefore — This refers to all the preceding discourse, from which the apostle infers what follows: he does not therefore make a digression, but returns to speak again of sin and righteousness; as if he had said, “We may from these premises infer, that the benefit which we believers receive from Christ is equal to the detriment we derive from Adam; yea, is on the whole greater than that.” For, as by one man — That is, Adam, the common father of the human species; (he is mentioned, and not Eve, as being the representative of mankind;) sin entered into the world — Actual sin, namely, the transgression of Adam and its consequence, a sinful nature, which took place in him, through his first sin, and which he conveyed to all his posterity; and death — With all its attendants. It entered into the world when it entered into being; for till then it did not exist; by sin — Therefore it could not enter in before sin; and so — Namely, by one man; death passed — From one generation to another; upon all men, for that all have sinned — Namely, in Adam, their representative, and as being in his loins. That is, they are so far involved in his first transgression and its consequences, and so certainly derive a sinful nature from him, that they become obnoxious to death. Instead of, for that, Dr. Doddridge renders εφω, unto which, (namely, unto death, mentioned in the preceding clause,) all have sinned. In which ever way the expression is rendered, the words are evidently intended to assign the reason why death came upon all men, infants themselves not excepted. For until the law — For, from the fall of Adam, unto the time when God gave the law by Moses, as well as after it; sin was in the world — As appeared by the continual execution of its punishment; that is, death: but — It is a self- evident principle that sin is not, and cannot be, imputed where there is no law — Since the very essence of sin consists in the violation of a law. And consequently, since we see, in fact, that sin was imputed, we must conclude that the persons, to whose account it was charged, were under some law. Now this, with respect to infants, could not be the law of nature, (any more than the law of Moses,) for infants could not transgress that; it must therefore have been the law given to Adam, the transgression whereof is, in some sense, imputed to all, even to infants, he being the representative of all his posterity, and they all being in his loins. In other words, they do not die for any actual sins of their own, being incapable, while in infancy, of committing any, but through Adam’s sin alone.

5:12-14 The design of what follows is plain. It is to exalt our views respecting the blessings Christ has procured for us, by comparing them with the evil which followed upon the fall of our first father; and by showing that these blessings not only extend to the removal of these evils, but far beyond. Adam sinning, his nature became guilty and corrupted, and so came to his children. Thus in him all have sinned. And death is by sin; for death is the wages of sin. Then entered all that misery which is the due desert of sin; temporal, spiritual, eternal death. If Adam had not sinned, he had not died; but a sentence of death was passed, as upon a criminal; it passed through all men, as an infectious disease that none escape. In proof of our union with Adam, and our part in his first transgression, observe, that sin prevailed in the world, for many ages before the giving of the law by Moses. And death reigned in that long time, not only over adults who wilfully sinned, but also over multitudes of infants, which shows that they had fallen in Adam under condemnation, and that the sin of Adam extended to all his posterity. He was a figure or type of Him that was to come as Surety of a new covenant, for all who are related to Him.Romans 5:12-21 has been usually regarded as the most difficult part of the New Testament. It is not the design of these notes to enter into a minute criticism of contested points like this. They who wish to see a full discussion of the passage, may find it in the professedly critical commentaries; and especially in the commentaries of Tholuck and of Professor Stuart on the Romans. The meaning of the passage in its general bearing is not difficult; and probably the whole passage would have been found far less difficult if it had not been attached to a philosophical theory on the subject of man's sin, and if a strenuous and indefatigable effort had not been made to prove that it teaches what it was never designed to teach. The plain and obvious design of the passage is this, to show one of the benefits of the doctrine of justification by faith. The apostle had shown,

(1) That that doctrine produced peace, Romans 5:1.

(2) That it produces joy in the prospect of future glory, Romans 5:2.

(3) That it sustained the soul in afflictions;

(a) by the regular tendency of afflictions under the gospel, Romans 5:3-4; and,

(b) by the fact that the Holy Spirit was imparted to the believer.

(4) That this doctrine rendered it certain that we should be saved, because Christ had died for us, Romans 5:6; because this was the highest expression of love, Romans 5:7-8; and because if we had been reconciled when thus alienated, we should be saved now that we are the friends of God, Romans 5:9-10.

(5) That it led us to rejoice in God himself; produced joy in his presence, and in all his attributes.

He now proceeds to show the bearing on that great mass of evil which had been introduced into the world by sin, and to prove that the benefits of the atonement were far greater than the evils which had been introduced by the acknowledged effects of the sin of Adam. "The design is to exalt our views of the work of Christ, and of the plan of justification through him, by comparing them with the evil consequences of the sin of our first father, and by showing that the blessings in question not only extend to the removal of these evils, but far beyond this, so that the grace of the gospel has not only abounded, but superabounded." (Prof. Stuart.) In doing this, the apostle admits, as an undoubted and well-understood fact:

1. That sin came into the world by one man, and death as the consequence. Romans 5:12.

2. That death had passed on all; even on those who had not the light of revelation, and the express commands of God, Romans 5:13-14.

3. That Adam was the figure, the type of him that was to come; that there was some sort of analogy or resemblance between the results of his act and the results of the work of Christ. That analogy consisted in the fact that the effects of his doings did not terminate on himself, but extended to numberless other persons, and that it was thus with the work of Christ, Romans 5:14. But he shows,

4. That there were very material and important differences in the two cases. There was not a perfect parallelism. The effects of the work of Christ were far more than simply to counteract the evil introduced by the sin of Adam. The differences between the effect of his act and the work of Christ are these.

(1) The sin of Adam led to condemnation. The work of Christ has an opposite tendency, Romans 5:15.


Ro 5:12-21. Comparison and Contrast between Adam and Christ in Their Relation to the Human Family.

(This profound and most weighty section has occasioned an immense deal of critical and theological discussion, in which every point, and almost every clause, has been contested. We can here but set down what appears to us to be the only tenable view of it as a whole and of its successive clauses, with some slight indication of the grounds of our judgment).

12. Wherefore—that is, Things being so; referring back to the whole preceding argument.

as by one man—Adam.

sin—considered here in its guilt, criminality, penal desert.

entered into the world, and death by sin—as the penalty of sin.

and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned—rather, "all sinned," that is, in that one man's first sin. Thus death reaches every individual of the human family, as the penalty due to himself. (So, in substance, Bengel, Hodge, Philippi). Here we should have expected the apostle to finish his sentence, in some such way as this: "Even so, by one man righteousness has entered into the world, and life by righteousness." But, instead of this, we have a digression, extending to five verses, to illustrate the important statement of Ro 5:12; and it is only at Ro 5:18 that the comparison is resumed and finished.

From this verse to the end of the chapter, the apostle makes a large comparison between the first and Second Adam, which he joins to what he had said by the causal particle wherefore: q.d. Seeing things are as I have already said, it is evident, that what was lost by Adam is restored by Christ. This verse seems to be lame and imperfect; the reddition is wanting in the comparison; for unto this,

as by one man sin entered into the world, there should be added, so by Christ, &c. But the reddition, or second part of the comparison, is suspended, by reason of a long parenthesis intervening to Romans 5:18,19, where the apostle sets down both parts of the comparison.

By one man: viz. Adam.

Objection. Eve first sinned, 1 Timothy 2:14.

Answer. He is not showing the order how sin first entered into the world, but how it was propagated to mankind. Therefore he mentions the man, because he is the head of the woman, and the covenant was made with him: or, man may be used collectively, both for man and woman; as when God said: Let us make man, & c.

Sin; it is to be understood of our first parents’ actual sin, in eating the forbidden fruit; this alone was it that affected their posterity, and made them sinners, Romans 5:19.

Entered into the world; understand the inhabitants of the world; the thing containing, by a usual metonomy, is put for the thing contained.

And death by sin; as the due reward thereof.

Death here may be taken in its full latitude, for temporal, spiritual, and eternal death.

And so death passed upon all men; seized upon all, of all sorts, infants as well as others.

For that all have sinned; others read it thus, in which all have sinned, i.e. in which one man; and so it is a full proof that Adam was a public person, and that in him all his posterity sinned and fell. He was our representative, and we were all in him, as a town or county in a parliament man; and although we chose him not, yet God chose for us.

The words ef’ w are rendered in which, in other places, and the preposition epi is put for en; see Mark 2:4 Hebrews 9:10: and if our translation be retained, it is much to the same sense; for if such die as never committed any actual sin themselves, (as infants do), then it will follow that they sinned in this one man, in whose loins they were: as Levi is said to have paid tithes in Abraham’s loins, Hebrews 7:9.

Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world,.... The design of these words, and of the following, is to show how men came to be in the condition before described, as "ungodly", Romans 5:6, "sinners", Romans 5:8, and "enemies", Romans 5:10; and to express the love of Christ in the redemption of them; and the largeness of God's grace to all sorts of men: the connection of them is with Romans 5:11, by which it appears that the saints have not only an expiation of sin by the blood of Christ, but a perfect righteousness, by which they are justified in the sight of God; and the manner how they came at it, or this becomes theirs, together with the necessity of their having such an one, are here declared: by the "one man" is meant Adam the first man, and parent of mankind, who is mentioned by name in Romans 5:14; sin which came by him designs a single sin, and not many, even the first sin of Adam, which goes by different names, as "sin" here, "transgression", Romans 5:14, the "offence" or "fall", Romans 5:15, "disobedience", Romans 5:19, and whatever was the first step or motive to it, which led to it, whether pride, unbelief, or concupiscence, it was finished by eating the forbidden fruit; and is called sin emphatically, because it contained all sin in it, was attended with aggravating circumstances, and followed with dismal consequences. Hence may be learnt the origin of moral evil among men, which comes not from God, but man; of this it is said, that it "entered into the world"; not the world above, there sin entered by the devil; but the world below, and it first entered into paradise, and then passed through the whole world; it entered into men by the snares of Satan, and by him it enters into all the inhabitants of the world; into all men that descend from him by ordinary generation, and that so powerfully that there is no stopping of it. It has entered by him, not by imitation, for it has entered into such as never sinned after the similitude of his transgression, infants, or otherwise death could not have entered into them, and into such who never heard of it, as the Heathens; besides, sin entered as death did, which was not by imitation but imputation, for all men are reckoned dead in Adam, being accounted sinners in him; add to this, that in the same way Christ's righteousness comes upon us, which is by imputation, Adam's sin enters into us, or becomes ours; upon which death follows,

and death by sin; that is, death has entered into the world of men by sin, by the first sin of the first man; not only corporeal death, but a spiritual or moral one, man, in consequence of this, becoming "dead in sin", deprived of righteousness, and averse, and impotent to all that is good; and also an eternal death, to which he is liable; for "the wages of sin is death", Romans 6:23; even eternal death: all mankind are in a legal sense dead, the sentence of condemnation and death immediately passed on Adam as soon as he had sinned, and upon all his posterity;

and so death passed upon all men; the reason of which was,

for that, or because "in him"

all have sinned: all men were naturally and seminally in him; as he was the common parent of mankind, he had all human nature in him, and was also the covenant head, and representative of all his posterity; so that they were in him both naturally and federally, and so "sinned in him"; and fell with him by his first transgression into condemnation and death. The ancient Jews, and some of the modern ones, have said many things agreeably to the apostle's doctrine of original sin; they own the imputation of the guilt of Adam's sin to his posterity to condemnation and death;

"through the sin of the first man (say they (g)) , "thou art dead"; for he brought death into the world:''

nothing is more frequently said by them than that Adam and Eve, through the evil counsel of the serpent, , "were the cause of death to themselves and to all the world" (h); and that through the eating of the fruit of the tree, , "all the inhabitants of the earth became guilty of death" (i): and that this was not merely a corporeal death, they gather from the doubling of the word in the threatening, "in dying thou shalt die", Genesis 2:17 (margin);

"this doubled death, say they (k), without doubt is the punishment of their body by itself, , and also of the "soul by itself".''

They speak of some righteous persons who died, not for any sin of their own, but purely on the account of Adam's sin; as Benjamin the son of Jacob, Amram the father of Moses, and Jesse the father of David, and Chileab the son of David (l), to these may be added Joshua the son of Nun, and Zelophehad and Levi: the corruption and pollution of human nature through the sin of Adam is clearly expressed by them;

"when Adam sinned, (say they (m),) he "drew upon him a defiled power, , "and defiled himself and all the people of the "world".''

Again (n),

"this vitiosity which comes from the sin and infection of our first parents, has invaded both faculties of the rational soul, the understanding by which we apprehend, and the will by which we desire.''

This corruption of nature they call , "the evil imagination", which, they say (o), is planted in a man's heart at the time of his birth; and others say (p) that it is in him before he is born: hence Philo the Jew says (q), that , "to sin is connatural", to every man that is born, even though a good man; and talks (r) of , "evil that is born with us", and of (s) , "spots that are of necessity born with" every mortal man. And so his countrymen (t) often speak of it as natural and inseparable to men; yea, they represent Adam as the root and head of mankind, in whom the whole world and all human nature sinned: descanting on those words, "as one that lieth upon the top of a mast", Proverbs 23:34;

"this (say they (u)) is the first man who was "an head to all the children of men": for by means of wine death was inflicted on him, and he was the cause of bringing the sorrows of death into the world.''


{10} Wherefore, as by {l} one man {m} sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, {n} for that all have sinned:

(10) From Adam, in whom all have sinned, both guiltiness and death (which is the punishment of the guiltiness) came upon all.

(l) By Adam, who is compared with Christ, and similar to him in this, that both of them make those who are theirs partakers of that which they have: but they are not the same in this, that Adam derives sin into them that are his, even into their very nature, and that to death: but Christ makes them that are his partakers of his righteousness by grace, and that to life.

(m) By sin is meant that disease which is ours by inheritance, and men commonly call it original sin: for so he calls that sin in the singular number, whereas if he speaks of the fruits of it, he uses the plural number, calling them sins.

(n) That is, in Adam.

Romans 5:12.[1228] Διὰ τοῦτο] Therefore, because, namely, we have received through Christ the καταλλαγή and the assurance of eternal salvation, Romans 5:11. The assumption that it refers back to the whole discussion from chap. Romans 1:17 (held by many, including Tholuck, Rückert, Reiche, Köllner, Holsten, Picard) is the more unnecessary, the more naturally the idea of the καταλλαγή itself, just treated of, served to suggest the parallel between Adam and Christ, and the διʼ οὗ τὴν καταλλαγὴν ἐλάβομεν in point of fact contains the summary of the whole doctrine of righteousness and salvation from Romans 1:17 onward; consequently there is no ground whatever for departing, as to διὰ τοῦτο, from the connection with what immediately precedes.[1229] This remark also applies in opposition to Hofmann (comp Stölting and Dietzsch), who refers it back to the entire train of ideas embraced in Romans 5:2-11. A recapitulation of this is indeed given in the grand concluding thought of Romans 5:11, that it is Christ to whom we owe the reconciliation. But Hofmann quite arbitrarily supposes Paul in διὰ τοῦτο to have had in view an exhortation to think of Christ conformably to the comparison with Adam, but to have got no further than this comparison.

ὥσπερ] There is here an ἀνανταπόδοτον as in Matthew 25:14; and 1 Timothy 1:3. The comparison alone is expressed, but not the thing compared, which was to have followed in an apodosis corresponding to the ὥσπερ. The illustration, namely, introduced in Romans 5:13-14 of the ἐφʼ ᾧ πάντες ἥμαρτον now rendered it impossible to add the second half of the comparison syntactically belonging to the ὥσπερ, and therefore the Apostle, driven on by the rushing flow of ideas to this point, from which he can no longer revert to the construction with which he started, has no hesitation in dropping the latter (comp generally Buttmann’s neut. Gr. p. 331; Kühner, II. 2, p. 1097), and in subsequently bringing in merely the main tenor of what is wanting by the relative clause attached to Ἀδάμ: ὅς ἐστι τύπος τοῦ μέλλοντος in Romans 5:14. This ὅς.… μέλλ. is consequently the substitute for the omitted apodosis, which, had it not been supplanted by Romans 5:13-14, would have run somewhat thus: so also through one man has come righteousness, and through righteousness life, and so life has come to all. Calvin, Flacius, Tholuck, Köllner, Baur, Philippi, Stölting, Mangold, Rothe (who however without due ground regards the breaking off as intended from the outset, in order to avoid sanctioning the Apokatastasis) find in ὅς ἐστι τύπ. τ. μέλλ., in v. 14, the resumption and closing of the comparison,[1232] not of course in form, but in substance; compare also Melancthon. According to Rückert, Fritzsche (in his commentary), and de Wette, Paul has come, after Romans 5:13-14, to reflect that the comparison begun involved not merely agreement but also discrepancy, and has accordingly turned aside from the apodosis, which must necessarily have expressed the equivalence, and inserted instead of it the opposition in Romans 5:15. This view is at variance with the entire character of the section, which indeed bears quite especially the stamp of most careful and acute premeditation, but shows no signs of Paul’s having been led in the progress of his thought to the opposite of what he had started with. According to Mehring, Romans 5:15, following Romans 5:13-14 (which he parenthesises) is meant to complete the comparison introduced in Romans 5:12, Romans 5:15 being thus taken interrogatively. Against this view, even apart from the inappropriateness of taking it as a question, the ἀλλʼ in Romans 5:15 is decisive. Winer, p. 503 [E. T. 712] (comp Fritzsche’s Conject. p. 49) finds the epanorthosis in πολλῷ μᾶλλον, Romans 5:15, which is inadmissible, because with ἈΛΛʼ ΟὐΧ in Romans 5:15 there is introduced the antithetical element, consequently something else than the affirmative parallel begun in Romans 5:12. Others have thought that Romans 5:13-17 form a parenthesis, so that in Romans 5:18 the first half of the comparison is resumed, and the second now at length added (Cajetanus, Erasmus Schmid, Grotius, Bengel, Wetstein, Heumann, Ch. Schmid, Flatt, and Reiche). Against this view may be urged not only the unprecedented length, but still more the contents of the supposed parenthesis, which in fact already comprehends in itself the parallel under every aspect. In Romans 5:18 f. we have recapitulation, but not resumption. This much applies also against Olshausen and Ewald. Others again have held that Romans 5:12 contains the protasis and the apodosis completely, taking the latter to begin either with καὶ οὕτως (Clericus, Wolf, Glöckler), or even with ΚΑῚ ΔΙΆ (Erasmus, Beza, Benecke), both of which views however are at variance with the parallel between Adam and Christ which rules the whole of what follows, and are thus in the light of the connection erroneous, although the former by no means required a trajection (ΚΑῚ ΟὝΤΩς for ΟὝΤΩ ΚΑΊ). While all the expositors hitherto quoted have taken ὭΣΠΕΡ as the beginning of the first member of the parallel, others again have thought that it introduces the second half of the comparison. So, following Elsner and others, Koppe, who after διὰ τοῦτο conceives ἘΛΆΒΟΜΕΝ ΚΑΤΑΛΛΑΓῊΝ ΔΙʼ ΑὐΤΟῦ supplied from Romans 5:11; so also Umbreit and Th. Schott (for this reason, because we ΣΩΘΗΣΌΜΕΘΑ ἘΝ Τῇ ΖΩῇ ΑὐΤΟῦ, Christ comes by way of contrast to stand just as did Adam). Similarly Märcker, who attaches ΔΙᾺ ΤΟῦΤΟ to Romans 5:11. These expositions are incorrect, because the universality of the Adamite ruin, brought out by ὥσπερ Κ.Τ.Λ[1234], has no point of comparison in the supplied protasis (the explanation is illogical); in Galatians 3:6 the case is different. Notwithstanding van Hengel (comp Jatho) thinks that he removes all difficulty by supplying ἐστί after διὰ τοῦτο; while Dietzsch, anticipating what follows, suggests the supplying after διὰ τοῦτο: through one man life has come into the world.

διʼ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου through one man, that is, διʼ ἑνὸς ἁμαρτήσαντος, Romans 5:16. A single man brought upon all sin and death; a single man also righteousness and life. The causal relation is based on the fact that sin, which previously had no existence whatever in the world, only began to exist in the world (on earth) by means of the first fall.[1236] Eve, so far as the matter itself is concerned (Sir 25:14; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14; Barnab. Ep. 12), might as well as adam, be regarded as the εἷς ἄνθρ.; the latter, because he sinned as the first man, the former, of whom Pelagius explained it, because she committed the first transgression. Here however, because Paul’s object is to compare the One man, who as the bringer of salvation has become the beginner of the new humanity, with the One man who as beginner of the old humanity became so destructive, in which collective reference (comp Hofmann’s Schriftbew. I. p. 474) the woman recedes into the background, he has to derive the entrance of sin into the world from Adam, whom he has in view in διʼ ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπον. Comp 1 Corinthians 15:21 f., 45 f. This is also the common form of Rabbinical teaching. See Eisenmenger’s entdeckt. Judenth. II. p. 81 f.

ἡ ἁμαρτία] not: sinfulness, habitus peccandi (Koppe, Schott, Flatt, Usteri, Olshausen), which the word never means; not original sin (Calvin, Flacius, and others following Augustine); but also not merely actual sin in abstracto (Fritzsche: “nam ante primum facinus patratum nullum erat facinus”), but rather what sin is according to its idea and essence (comp Hofmann and Stölting), consequently the determination of the conduct in antagonism to God, conceived however as a force, as a real power working and manifesting itself—exercising its dominion—in all cases of concrete sin (comp Romans 5:21; Romans 6:12; Romans 6:14; Romans 7:8-9; Romans 7:17 al[1241]). This moral mode of being in antagonism to God became existent in the human world through the fall of Adam; produced death, and spread death over all. Thus our verse itself describes the ἁμαρτία as a real objective power, and in so doing admits only of this explanation. Compare the not substantially different explanation of Philippi, according to which the actual sin of the world is meant as having come into the world potentialiter through Adam; also Rothe, who conceives it to refer to sin as a principle, but as active; and Dietzsch.

On εἰς τ. κόσμον, which applies to the earth as the dwelling-place of mankind (for in the universe generally sin, the devil, was already in existence), comp Wis 2:24; Wis 14:14; 2 John 1:7; Clem. Cor. I. 3; Hebrews 10:5. Undoubtedly sin by its entrance into the world came into human nature (Rothe), but this is not asserted here, however decisively our passage stands opposed to the error of Flacius, that man is in any way as respects his essential nature ἁμαρτία.[1243]

The mode in which the fall took place (through the devil, John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:3) did not here concern the Apostle, who has only to do with the mischievous effect of it, namely, that it brought ἁμαρτία into the world, etc.

Romans 5:12-21. The treatment of the righteousness of God, as a Divine gift to sinners in Jesus Christ, is now complete, and the Apostle might have passed on to his treatment of the new life (chaps. 6–8). But he introduces at this point a digression in which a comparison—which in most points is rather a contrast—is made between Adam and Christ. Up to this point he has spoken of Christ alone, and the truth of what he has said rests upon its own evidence; it is not affected in the least by any difficulty we may have in adapting what he says of Adam to our knowledge or ignorance of human origins. The general truth he teaches here is that there is a real unity of the human race, on the one hand in sin and death, on the other in righteousness and life; in the former aspect the race is summed up in Adam; in the latter, in Christ. It is a distinction, apparently, between the two, that the unity in Adam is natural, having a physical basis in the organic connection of all men through all generations; whereas the unity in Christ is spiritual, being dependent upon faith. Yet this distinction is not specially in view in the passage, which rather treats Adam and Christ in an objective way, the transition (morally) from Adam’s doom to that of man being only mediated by the words πάντες ἥμαρτον in Romans 5:12, and the connection between Christ and the new humanity by οἱ τὴν περισσείαν τῆς χάριτος λαμβάνοντες in vet. 17.

12–21. The same subject, illustrated by the connexion of fallen man with Adam, and justified man with Christ

12. Wherefore, &c.] Here begins an important section, closing with the ch. In point of language, and of links of thought, it is occasionally difficult, and moreover deals with the deep mystery of the effects of the Fall. We preface detailed comments with a few general remarks.

1. The section closes one main part of the argument—that on the Way of Justification; and it leads to another—that on its Results. It is connected more with the former than with the latter.

2. Its main purpose is unmistakable. It brings out the grandeur and completeness of Christ’s work by contrast with the work (so to speak) of Adam. It regards the two as, in some real sense, paralleled and balanced.

3. Without explaining (what cannot be explained, perhaps, in this life,) the reason of the thing, it states as a fact concerning the Fall that its result is not only inherited sinfulness, but inherited guilt; i.e. liability to punishment, (that of death,) on account of the primeval Sin. Death (in human beings) is penalty: but e.g. infants, void of actual moral wrong, die: therefore they die for inherited (we may say for vicarious) guilt.

4. From this admitted mystery and fact (as plainly it was with the Romans) St Paul argues to the corresponding “life” of believers in virtue of the vicarious righteousness of Messiah, whom here (and in 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:47,) he regards as the Second Adam.

5. Unquestionably the mystery of the Effects of the Fall is extremely great and painful. But it is the mystery of facts; and it is but one of the offshoots of the greatest and deepest of all distressing mysteries, the Existence of Sin.—See further, Appendix D.

Wherefore, as, &c.] There is no expressed close to this sentence. But a close may be taken as implied in this first clause: q. d., “Wherefore [the case of Justification is] just parallel to the entrance of sin by one man, &c.” Romans 5:12 will then be a complete statement.

by one man] Cp. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49.

sin … death] See Romans 5:17-18 for the implied antithesis: Christ, righteousness, life.

death by sin] In the case of Man. Scripture nowhere says that death in animals is due to human sin. Death was the specially threatened penalty to the sole race which was on the one hand created with an animal organism, which could die, and on the other, “made in the image of God.” The penal character of death is essential to St Paul’s argument.

passed] Lit. went through, traversed, penetrated.

upon] Better, unto; so as to reach all men. “Men” is expressed here in the Gr., marking the special reference to human beings.

for that all have sinned] Better, for that all sinned; the aorist. St Paul refers to the First Sin, to the guilt of the Representative of the race. A close parallel, in contrast, is 2 Corinthians 5:15, where lit. “since One died for all, therefore they all died;” i.e. ideally, in their Divine Representative. See too 1 Corinthians 15:21, where our death in Adam is spoken of just as our sin in Adam here.

Romans 5:12. Διὰ τοῦτο, wherefore) This has regard to the whole of the preceding discussion, from which the apostle draws these conclusion concerning sin and righteousness, herein making not so much a digression as a regression. In imitation of Paul’s method, we must treat, in the first place, of actual sin, according to the first and following chapters, and then go back to the source in which sin originated. Paul does not speak altogether expressly of that which theologians call original sin; but, in truth the sin of Adam is sufficient to demonstrate man’s guilt; the very many, and most mournful fruits resulting from it, are sufficient for the demonstration of man’s habitual corruption. And man, in consequence of justification, at length looks back upon, and apprehends the doctrine concerning the origin of evil, and the other things connected with it. This second part, however, is in special connection with the first part of this chapter; comp. the much more, which reigns [Romans 5:17] on both sides [i.e. grace reigning and triumphing abundantly over both original sin and habitual corruption]; Romans 5:9, etc., 15, etc., for the very glorying of believers is exhibited; comp. Romans 5:11 [we glory, or Engl. vers. we joy] with Romans 5:21. The equality, too, of Jews and Gentiles, and consequently of all men, is herein included.—ὥσπερ, as) The Protasis, which the words and so continue; for it is not so also that follows [which would follow, if the apodosis began here]. The apodosis, from a change in the train of thoughts and words, is concealed in what follows.—ἀνθρώπου, man) Why is nothing said of the woman? Ans. 1. Adam had received the commandment. 2. He was not only the Head of his race, but also of Eve. 3. If Adam had not listened to the voice of his wife, not more than one would have sinned. Moreover, why is nothing said of Satan, who is the primary cause of sin? Ans. 1. Satan is opposed to God; Adam to Christ; moreover, here the economy of grace is described as it belongs to Christ, rather than as it belongs to God: therefore, God is once mentioned, Romans 5:15; Satan is never mentioned. 2. What has Satan to do with the grace of Christ?—ἠ ἁμαρτίαὁ θάνατος, sin—death) These are two distinct evils, which Paul discusses successively at very great length.—εἰς τὸν κόσμον) into this world, which denotes the human race—εἰσῆλθε, entered) began to exist in the world; for it had not previously existed outside of the world.—καὶ διὰ, and by) Therefore, death could not have entered before sin.—καὶ οὕτως) and so, namely, by one man.—εἰς) unto [or upon] all, wholly.—διῆλθεν, passed) when sin once entered, which had not been in the world from the beginning.—ἐφʼ ᾧ) Ἐφʼ ᾧ with the verb ἥμαρτον has the same signification, as διὰ with the genitive, τῆς ἁμαρτίας. The meaning is, through the fact that, or in other words, inasmuch as all have sinned, comp. the ἐφʼ ᾧ, 2 Corinthians 5:4, and presently after, the other ἐπὶ, occurring in Romans 5:14.—πάντες) all without exception. The question is not about the particular sin of individuals; but in the sin of Adam all have sinned, as all died in the death of Christ for their salvation, 2 Corinthians 5:15. The Targum on Ruth, ch. 4, at the end: על On account of the counsel, which the serpent gave to Eve, all the inhabitants of the earth became subject to death, אתחייבו מותא, Targum on Eccl. ch. 7, at the end. The serpent and Eve made the day of death rush suddenly upon man and upon all the inhabitants of the earth. Sin precedes death; but the universality of death becomes known earlier than the universality of sin. This plan of arrangement is adopted with respect to the four clauses in this verse.

Verses 12-21. - (b) From consideration of the blessed effects on believers of faith in the reconciliation through Christ, the apostle now passes to the effects of that reconciliation as the position of the whole human race before God. His drift is that the reconciliation corresponds to the original transgression; both proceeded from one, and both include all mankind in their results; as the one introduced sin into the world, and, as its consequence, death, so the other introduced righteousness, and, as its consequence, life. It may be observed that in ch. 1 also he has in one sense traced sin backward through the past ages, so as to show how all mankind had come to be under condemnation for it. But the subject was regarded from a different point of view, the purpose of the argument being also different. There he was addressing the heathen world, his purpose being to convince the whole of it of sin, on the score of obvious culpability; and, suitably to this design, his argument is based, not on Scripture, but on observation of the facts of human nature and human history. It did not fall within his scope to trace the evil to its original cause. But here, having shown Jew and Gentile to be on the same footing with respect to sin, and having entered (at Romans 3:21) on the doctrinal portion of his Epistle, he goes to Scripture for the origin of the evil, and finds it there attributed to Adam's original transgression, which implicated the human race as an organic whole. This is the scriptural solution of the mystery, which he here gives, not only as accounting for things being as they are, but also, in connection with the stage of the argument at which he has now arrived, as explaining the necessity and the purpose of the atonement for the whole guilty race, effected by the second Adam, Christ. Verse 12. - Wherefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all sinned. To this sentence, introduced by ὥσπερ, there is no apodosis. One has been sought in the course of what follows, and by some found in ver. 18. But ver. 18 is a recapitulation rather than resumption of the argument, and is, further, too far removed to be intended as a formal apodesis. It is not really necessary to find one. The natural one to the first clause of the sentence would have been, "So through One righteousness entered into the world, and life through righteousness;" and such may be supposed to have been in the writer's mind. But, after his manner, he goes off to enlarge on the idea expressed in the second clause, and never formally completes his sentence. A similar anacoluthon is found in 1 Timothy 1:3. Sin is here, as elsewhere, regarded as a power antagonistic to God, which has been introduced into the world of man, working and manifesting itself in concrete human sin (cf. Romans 5:21; Romans 6:12, 14; Romans 7:8, 9, 17). Its ultimate origin is not explained. Scripture offers no solution of the old insoluble problem, κόθεν τὸ κακὸν: its existence at all under the sway of the Omnipotent Goodness in which we believe is one of the deep mysteries that have ever baffled human reason. All that is here touched on is its entrance into the world of man, the word εἰσῆλθε implying that it already existed beyond this mundane sphere. The reference is, of course, to Gem fit., as the scriptural account of the beginning of sin in our own world. It is there attributed to "the serpent," whom we regard as a symbol of some mysterious power of evil, external to man, to which primeval man, in the exercise of his prerogative of free-will, succumbed, and so let sin in. Through sin entered also death as its consequence; which (primarily at least) must mean here physical death, this being all that is denoted in Genesis (comp. Genesis 3:19 with Gen 2:17), and necessary to be understood in what follows in the chapter before us (see ver. 14). But here a difficulty presents itself to modern thought. Are we to understand that man was originally so constituted as not to die? - that even his bodily organization was immortal, and would have continued so but for the fatal taint of sin? We find it difficult at the present day to conceive this, however bound we may feel to submit our reason to revelation in a matter so remote, so unknown, and so mysterious as the beginning of human life on the earth, in whatever aspect viewed, and indeed of all conscious life, must ever be. But St. Paul himself, in another place, speaks of "the first man" having been, even on his first creation, "of the earth, earthy" (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47), with a body, like ours, of" flesh and blood," in its own nature corruptible (1 Corinthians 15:50). Neither is the narrative of Genesis 3. inconsistent with this idea. For it seems to imply that, but for his eating of the mystical "tree of life" (whatever may be meant by it), the first man was in his own nature mortal, and that his liability to death ensued on his being debarred from it (Genesis 3:22). It may be impossible for us to understand or explain. The following considerations, however, may perhaps help us in some degree.

(1) When we pay regard to man's spiritual capabilities and aspirations, even as he is now, death does seem to us an anomaly - a contradiction to the ideal of his inner self. That a beast of the field should die appears to us no such anomaly; for it has done all that it seems to have been meant to do, or to be capable of doing: it has served as a link in the continuance of its kind, not having been conscious, as far as we know, of anything beyond its surroundings. But man (i.e. man as he is capable of being, so as to represent the capacity of humanity) connects himself in his inner self with eternity; his mind resents the idea of death, as an unwelcome stoppage to its development and its yearnings. It goes on ever maturing its power, enlarging its range, thirsting for higher knowledge, entertaining affections that seem eternal; and then bodily decay and death arrest its progress as it were in mid-career. Thus death, as it comes to us and affects us now, seems to involve a contradiction between man's inner consciousness and the facts of his existence at present; it is shrunk from as something that ought not to be. It is true that, when faith has once grasped the idea of bodily death being but a transition to a better life, the anomaly disappears: but such is its aspect to the natural man: and thus we can enter into the scriptural idea of death, as it comes to us so inevitably now, being something not originally meant for man, though we may be unable to say how it would have been with him had not sin entered.

(2) Though physical death, obvious to men's eyes, and not spiritual death of the soul either in this world or in the world to come, is here evidently in view (see ver. 14), yet we must bear in mind the general idea associated with the word "death" in the New Testament. It is sometimes used so as to imply more than the mere parting of the soul from the body, including in the conception of what it is all the woes and infirmities that flesh is heir to, which are its precursors in the present state of things (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:31; 2 Corinthians 4:10, 12, 16; 2 Corinthians 6:9), being thus regarded also as the visible sign before our eyes of man's present alienation from the life that is in God. St. Paul, then, in the passage before us, though alleging mere natural death as sufficient evidence of sin, may be conceived as having in his view Death armed as he has been with a peculiar sting to man through all known time. The main point of his argument is that the doom recorded in Genesis as having been pronounced on Adam had obviously remained in force throughout the ages; and there is surely no difficulty in assenting to the position that the dominion of death, as it has been exercised since that doom, is evidence of its continuance, and consequently of sin. "For that all sinned" (more correctly so than, as in the Authorized Version, "all have sinned") seems to mean, not that all since Adam in their own persons committed sin, but that all sinned in him - were implicated in the sin of the progenitor (cf. ver. 15; also 1 Corinthians 15:22, "in Adam all die;" and 2 Corinthians 5:14, where all are said to have died to sin in the death of Christ). The doctrine of original, as distinct from actual, sin, thus intimated, has been, as is well known, the subject of much controversy since the time of Pelagius. It does not fall within the proper scope of this Commentary to discuss the theories of divines, but rather to set forth candidly what the language of the portions of Scripture commented on in itself most obviously means, viewed in the light afforded by general Scripture teaching. With respect to the passage before us, it may suffice to say:

(1) That more must be understood than the mere imputation of Adam's transgression to his descendants, irrespectively of any guilt of theirs. This notion, which jars on our conception of Divine justice, is precluded by the entire drift of the earlier chapters of this Epistle, which was the actual culpability of mankind at large, and also by what follows here, sin itself being spoken of - not the imputation of it only - as being in the world after Adam, and universal too, as evidenced by the continued reign of death. All men are said to have sinned in the sin of the first transgressor, because sin was thus introduced, as a power in human nature antagonistic to God, and because this "infection of nature" has continued since. And thus

(2) the Pelagian position is also precluded, according to which "original sin standeth (only) in the following of Adam" (Art. 9.), i.e. in actual imitation of his sin, which man is supposed to have still, as Adam had, the power to avoid. For it is expressly said (ver. 14) that death reigned over - in proof that sin infected - even those who had not sinned after the similitude of his transgression. But

(3) we must guard against confusion between the idea of man's natural liability to condemnation on the ground of transmitted sinfulness, and that of God's actual dealing with him. It is nowhere said or implied that the natural infection which they could not help will be visited on individuals in the final judgment. All that is insisted on by St. Paul is that man, in himself, as he is now, falls short of the glory of God, and cannot put in a plea for acceptance on the ground of his own righteousness. But he no less emphatically declares that "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Romans 5:12Wherefore as

As (ὥσπερ) begins the first member of a comparison. The second member is not expressed, but is checked by the illustration introduced in Romans 5:13, Romans 5:14, and the apostle, in his flow of thought, drops the construction with which he started, and brings in the main tenor of what is wanting by "Adam who is the type," etc. (Romans 5:14).

Entered into

As a principle till then external to the world.

Passed upon (διῆλθεν ἐφ')

Lit., came throughout upon. The preposition διά denotes spreading, propagation, as εἰς into denoted entrance.

For that (ἐφ' ᾧ)

On the ground of the fact that.

Romans 5:12 Interlinear
Romans 5:12 Parallel Texts

Romans 5:12 NIV
Romans 5:12 NLT
Romans 5:12 ESV
Romans 5:12 NASB
Romans 5:12 KJV

Romans 5:12 Bible Apps
Romans 5:12 Parallel
Romans 5:12 Biblia Paralela
Romans 5:12 Chinese Bible
Romans 5:12 French Bible
Romans 5:12 German Bible

Bible Hub

Romans 5:11
Top of Page
Top of Page