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But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

5:12 by one man. There is no warrant in the New Testament for the heretical notion that “Adam” is simply a generic term representing the human race. He was “one man,” in fact “the first man” (I Corinthians 15:45). There were no pre-Adamite men, as some have alleged, and certainly no population of evolving hominids becoming Adam. In fact, Christ Himself made it clear that Adam and Eve were “from the beginning of the creation” (Mark 10:6, quoting Genesis 1:27). Adam was a real person, directly created and made by God, and so was Eve. The entire argument of Romans 5:12-21 becomes irrelevant if the Genesis record of the creation and fall of Adam did not happen just as recorded in Genesis 1–3, and this would mean there is no reality in the saving work of Christ either. Destroying or distorting the plain Genesis record undermines and eventually destroys the gospel of salvation. Such a devastating undermining of the Christian faith is surely not warranted by the fragmentary and self-contradictory fossil evidences that have been alleged to support the notion of human evolution.

5:12 death by sin. Thus there was no death before sin entered the world. The finished creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), with an abundance of food and all other provisions for man and the animals. There was certainly no struggle for existence, or survival of the fittest, for every creature was created fit for its own environment. When Adam sinned, God brought the curse of decay and death not only upon Adam but also upon all His dominion (Genesis 3:17-19). See also I Corinthians 15:21-22; Romans 8:20-22.

5:14 Adam to Moses. Thus Adam is as real a person as Moses, and only the most extreme skeptics would dare to question the historical reality of Moses.

5:14 had not sinned. The only creatures in history who have not sinned like Adam (note Romans 5:12) are the animals. But death reigns over these also, because of Adam’s sin. In fact, the very ground was cursed, out of which all living bodies had been made, when their God-appointed steward sinned.

5:14 figure. The first Adam is thus a contrasting type of “the last Adam” (I Corinthians 15:45), the one bringing death into the world, the other bringing eternal life to the world. This typological theme is beautifully developed in Romans 5:15-21, but all this would be pointless if Adam were not uniquely the first man, and the father of all other men. In fact, God promised redemption through “Him that was to come” at the same time He pronounced the curse on Adam and his dominion (Genesis 3:15).

5:19 made righteous. We have been “made righteous” because Jesus Christ was “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8). That is, we who were thoroughly disobedient to the will of God were “declared righteous” (i.e., “justified”), then “made righteous” because He was “made sin” for us (II Corinthians 5:21).

5:20 offence might abound. The “law entered” the world because sin had entered the world, and death entered by sin (Romans 5:12). But from Adam to Moses (Romans 5:14), even though death reigned, sin was not “imputed” because men had only a vague intuitive knowledge of God’s law (Romans 5:13). When the law was finally given through Moses, however, then sin could be seen in full measure in its ugliness. Nevertheless, God’s grace was still more abundant, capable of redeeming and saving the most flagrant sinners.

5:21 sin hath reigned. Sin is seen at its worst, and God’s grace and love at its best, in the death of Christ. Sin has many faces, but it is basically the rejection of God as Creator and Savior by rejecting His Word. Sin originated in the cosmos when Satan did this, and entered the earth when Adam did the same (Isaiah 14:13; Ezekiel 28:15; Genesis 3:1,4,17; Romans 5:12). Sin in practice is thus basically disbelief of God’s Word (Romans 10:16; 14:23; John 16:9) and disobedience to God’s law (Romans 3:20; 5:20; I John 3:4). Finally, God’s judgment on sinners will be based on the words of Moses (John 5:43-47), the words of Christ (John 12:44-50) and the words of God’s Book (Revelation 20:12-15; 22:18-19).

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