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.
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.