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14Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. 16And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.


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14. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression—But who are they?—a much contested question. Infants (say some), who being guiltless of actual sin, may be said not to have sinned in the way that Adam did [Augustine, Beza, Hodge]. But why should infants be specially connected with the period "from Adam to Moses," since they die alike in every period? And if the apostle meant to express here the death of infants, why has he done it so enigmatically? Besides, the death of infants is comprehended in the universal mortality on account of the first sin, so emphatically expressed in Ro 5:12; what need then to specify it here? and why, if not necessary, should we presume it to be meant here, unless the language unmistakably point to it—which it certainly does not? The meaning then must be, that "death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those that had not, like Adam, transgressed against a positive commandment, threatening death to the disobedient." (So most interpreters). In this case, the particle "even," instead of specifying one particular class of those who lived "from Adam to Moses" (as the other interpretation supposes), merely explains what it was that made the case of those who died from Adam to Moses worthy of special notice—namely, that "though unlike Adam and all since Moses, those who lived between the two had no positive threatening of death for transgression, nevertheless, death reigned even over them."

who is the figure—or, "a type."

of him that was to come—Christ. "This clause is inserted on the first mention of the name "Adam," the one man of whom he is speaking, to recall the purpose for which he is treating of him, as the figure of Christ" [Alford]. The point of analogy intended here is plainly the public character which both sustained, neither of the two being regarded in the divine procedure towards men as mere individual men, but both alike as representative men. (Some take the proper supplement here to be "Him [that is] to come"; understanding the apostle to speak from his own time, and to refer to Christ's second coming [Fritzsche, De Wette, Alford]. But this is unnatural, since the analogy of the second Adam to the first has been in full development ever since "God exalted Him to be a Prince and a Saviour," and it will only remain to be consummated at His second coming. The simple meaning is, as nearly all interpreters agree, that Adam is a type of Him who was to come after him in the same public character, and so to be "the second Adam").

15. But—"Yet," "Howbeit."

not as the offence—"trespass."

so also is the free gift—or "the gracious gift," "the gift of grace." The two cases present points of contrast as well as resemblance.

For if, &c.—rather, "For if through the offense of the one the many died (that is, in that one man's first sin), much more did the grace of God, and the free gift by grace, even that of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many." By "the many" is meant the mass of mankind represented respectively by Adam and Christ, as opposed, not to few, but to "the one" who represented them. By "the free gift" is meant (as in Ro 5:17) the glorious gift of justifying righteousness; this is expressly distinguished from "the grace of God," as the effect from the cause; and both are said to "abound" towards us in Christ—in what sense will appear in Ro 5:16, 17. And the "much more," of the one case than the other, does not mean that we get much more of good by Christ than of evil by Adam (for it is not a case of quantity at all); but that we have much more reason to expect, or it is much more agreeable to our ideas of God, that the many should be benefited by the merit of one, than that they should suffer for the sin of one; and if the latter has happened, much more may we assure ourselves of the former [Philippi, Hodge].

16. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift—"Another point of contrast may be mentioned."

for the judgment—"sentence."

was by one—rather, "was of one," meaning not "one man," but, as appears from the next clause, "one offense."

to condemnation, but the free gift—"gift of grace."

is of many offences unto justification—a glorious point of contrast. "The condemnation by Adam was for one sin; but the justification by Christ is an absolution not only from the guilt of that first offense, mysteriously attaching to every individual of the race, but from the countless offenses it, to which, as a germ lodged in the bosom of every child of Adam, it unfolds itself in his life." This is the meaning of "grace abounding towards us in the abundance of the gift of righteousness." It is a grace not only rich in its character, but rich in detail; it is a "righteousness" not only rich in a complete justification of the guilty, condemned sinner; but rich in the amplitude of the ground which it covers, leaving no one sin of any of the justified uncancelled, but making him, though loaded with the guilt of myriads of offenses, "the righteousness of God in Christ."

17. For if by—"the"

one man's offence death reigned by one—"through the one."

much more shall they which receive—"the"

abundance of grace and of the gift of—justifying

righteousness … reign in life by one Jesus Christ—"through the one." We have here the two ideas of Ro 5:15 and Ro 5:16 sublimely combined into one, as if the subject had grown upon the apostle as he advanced in his comparison of the two cases. Here, for the first time in this section, he speaks of that LIFE which springs out of justification, in contrast with the death which springs from sin and follows condemnation. The proper idea of it therefore is, "Right to live"—"Righteous life"—life possessed and enjoyed with the good will, and in conformity with the eternal law, of "Him that sitteth on the Throne"; life therefore in its widest sense—life in the whole man and throughout the whole duration of human existence, the life of blissful and loving relationship to God in soul and body, for ever and ever. It is worthy of note, too, that while he says death "reigned over" us through Adam, he does not say Life "reigns over us" through Christ; lest he should seem to invest this new life with the very attribute of death—that of fell and malignant tyranny, of which we were the hapless victims. Nor does he say Life reigns in us, which would have been a scriptural enough idea; but, which is much more pregnant, "We shall reign in life." While freedom and might are implied in the figure of "reigning," "life" is represented as the glorious territory or atmosphere of that reign. And by recurring to the idea of Ro 5:16, as to the "many offenses" whose complete pardon shows "the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness," the whole statement is to this effect: "If one man's one offense let loose against us the tyrant power of Death, to hold us as its victims in helpless bondage, 'much more,' when we stand forth enriched with God's 'abounding grace' and in the beauty of a complete absolution from countless offenses, shall we expatiate in a life divinely owned and legally secured, 'reigning' in exultant freedom and unchallenged might, through that other matchless 'One,' Jesus Christ!" (On the import of the future tense in this last clause, see on Ro 5:19, and Ro 6:5).




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