By Vin Sparks
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.Romans 5:19 (King James Version)
What a passage of scripture!
Adam, you really did it! The sickness and death, the pain and anguish, the evil that we perpetrate upon each other, our stubborn blindness to the light and the vial affections we have for the darkness – all began with you. I wonder, if you had known what would happen, if you could have seen that your actions would have a catastrophic affect on you and your family, as well as the families of every person to come after you all the way to the last one born into this life, would you have eaten of that tree? Would I have eaten of that tree had I been there instead of you?
You cannot possibly know this, but there is a second Adam. Yes, there is another like you who stood in the very place you did. You had the opportunity to obey but didn’t do so. The new Adam had the opportunity to obey and He did it! You disobeyed God and in you we all die, but the second Adam obeyed God, and in Him, we all have life! That is because, God has made peace with the entire universe through the blood of the cross of Christ.
Adam, you brought us sin and death and decay, but this new Adam brought us righteousness, life and incorruption. Because of this, I’ll stand with you at the end of ages and cry out,
“Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”
What Paul wrote here in Romans 5:19 is an incredibly powerful passage of scripture, the conclusion of which none of us can escape. The King James Version (cited above) captures the power of the message of the two Adams beautifully. So, how did we miss it?
We did so by adding just a little bit when we comment on this passage. The message is that one man’s disobedience made everyone sinners, but the obedience of one man shall make everyone righteous. Check it out: David K Bernard, in his commentary, writes, “Through Christ’s obedience the many (all mankind that believe) will be constituted righteous.”1
The KJV has “many,” but W.E. Vine2 said that the Greek polus is more often used as a noun with the article as in, “the many”, which Bernard included. However, he inserted a parenthetical comment that isn’t part of the text. He does this to preserve his own view of Soteriology (the study of salvation).
Allow me to explain: Adam’s disobedience made “the many” sinners, but the obedience of Christ will make “the many” righteous. Who are Adam’s “many”? Everyone! Well then, who are Christ’s “many?” The very same people! There is no getting around this.
Please read the passage rendered in the AMP:
For just as through one man’s disobedience [his failure to hear, his carelessness] the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of the one Man the many will be made righteous and acceptable to God and brought into right standing with Him. (Amplified)
A few other translations read as such:
Clearly, through one person’s disobedience humanity became sinful, and through one person’s obedience humanity will receive God’s approval. (God’s Word Translation)
And just as all people were made sinners as the result of the disobedience of one man, in the same way they will all be put right with God as the result of the obedience of the one man. (Good News Translation)
We see, then, that as one act of sin exposed the whole race of men to God’s judgment and condemnation, so one act of perfect righteousness presents all men freely acquitted in the sight of God. One man’s disobedience placed all men under the threat of condemnation, but one man’s obedience has the power to present all men righteous before God. (PHILLIPS)
Clearly, through one person’s disobedience humanity became sinful, and through one person’s obedience humanity will receive God’s approval. (Names of God Bible)
As through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners: so also through the obedience of the one, shall the many be constituted righteous. (Young’s Literal Translation)
“Many” or “the many”, “humanity” or “the whole race of men” or “all people” – however it is rendered it doesn’t matter to the message. The same group of people condemned by Adam’s disobedience are imputed righteousness through the obedience of the cross of Christ.
It is the same people and there is just no way around it.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 1 Corinthians 15:22-24
1Bernard, David K., The Message of Romans, Hazelwood: Word Aflame Press, ©1987, p. 138.
2Vine, W.E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, ©1997, p. 712