A Study of the Epistle to the Romans
Salvation: Condemnation in Adam But Justification in Christ
The passage now before us looks different. Perhaps the apostle Peter was thinking about this passage when he wrote that the apostle Paul had written some things that were hard to be understood 2 Peter 3:16). Even though this is a very difficult passage, the outstanding ideas are plain. A constant reading of this passage under the leadership of the Spirit of God never fails to bear fruit.
This particular paragraph closes the section called "Justification." In reality it is the conclusion of the first two sections, one on condemnation and the other on justification. This section is a wonderful comparison, but also a contrast between condemnation and justification.
To find the key idea, first look at verse 16: "For the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification." That is one contrast between condemnation and justification. In verse 18 the same idea is repeated. Condemnation and justification are laid side by side.
But then again, this section is more than that. It is not only a contrast and a comparison between condemnation and justification, but it is also inevitably a comparison and a contrast between Adam and Christ, for our condemnation flows from Adam. And our justification flows from Jesus Christ. So any involve necessarily a comparison between the two men from whom these two states come.
You will find this indicated in verse 14, the last phrase: "Who [Adam] is the figure of him that was to come." What does "figure" mean? It means type. "Who is the type of Him who was to come," that is, Christ.
So we have the key. This passage will set forth not only a contrast and a comparison between condemnation and justification, but also a comparison and a contrast between Adam and Christ.
In reality this whole section is a development and an expansion of a text which is found in 1 Corinthians 15;45: "The first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam became a lifegiving spirit". The first letter to the Corinthians was written before the letter to the Romans. Therefore, Paul in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians expresses the seed thought of this whole section of Romans. In this section Paul concentrates on he first Adam and the last Adam - compares the two, compares their work and the consequences and results that flow from their work.
If in Adam we are all condemned, then in Christ everyone (who knows Christ) receives justification. Naturally, as he has now dealt with condemnation and justification fully, nothing remains except to demonstrate that justification in Christ is many times greater than the condemnation in Adam.
Characteristics of the Passage
A few outstanding characteristics of the passage can be noted before a more complete and detailed study of the passage.
Begins with Adam, Ends With Christ
First of all, the section begins with Adam and ends with Jesus Christ: "That grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Chris our Lord." We have the "bad news" first, while the best news is held for the end.
This passage contains at least six pairs of contrasting terms: 1. Adam and Christ; 2. disobedience and obedience; sin and righteousness; law and grace; condemnation and justification; and death and life.
There are four "kings" mentioned in this section: 1. "Death reigned"; "sin... reigned"; 3. "grace reign[s]; 4. "they [believers] shall reign".
Work of Christ as Deep
This whole passage demonstrates that the work of Jesus Christ goes as deep as the work of Adam and is as far-reaching in its effects. One significant phrase has three occurrences. "So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation, even so ..." "For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so ..."; "That, as sin reigned in death, even so ...". The effect of "even so" is to equate Christ's work with Adam's work.
~Alva J. McClain~
(continued with # 44)