150705 – Romans 5:12-21 “Free gift of righteousness for all who sin”


So what is a gift? A gift must be free or else it becomes payment for services rendered. It must be available to be handed over when accepted. You cannot promise a gift if you have no gift to give. And a person must willingly receive the gift. If a person is required to receive a “gift”, then it is not a gift but a provision (such as meals while working, or special clothing for certain jobs). Gifts cannot be imposed upon people!

If God offers eternal life as a gift (Romans 6:23), then it must be already fully paid for, it must be available as offered, and the recipient must accept it by his own free will. These conditions define a true gift. (Calvinism says that making a decision of the will to receive God’s gift of salvation is a work of that salvation, yet unless the person receives it by his own free will, it ceases to be defined as a gift! They do not understand the proper meaning of a “gift”. They have redefined God’s gift as a requirement, an imposition!))


Here’s an anecdote I found online to think about.

My sister recently got married and I was stumped about what to give her for a wedding present. A friend of mine who got married last year made a fabulous DVD slideshow presentation synchronized to music of his wedding, and since I've been learning to make DVDs under Linux, I thought such a thing would make a great present from the heart for my sister. I estimated it would take me up to 100 hours to scan the photos, learn the software, pick the music, and make the presentation, but (I thought) it would be unique. When I offered to make it to my sister, though, she was horrified and called me a cheapskate. She asked for another, more expensive present instead -- not any particular present, just one that costs more. (http://ask.metafilter.com/22584/EtiquetteFilter-What-do-you-do-when-someone-refuses-your-wedding-present)

Clearly she didn’t think it was worth accepting such a gift! And mankind does the same with God’s gift of righteousness.


So, clearly, if God offers us a free gift, we do have the right (if you could call it that) to refuse the gift, and therefore not receive it. Or maybe we have in mind what sort of gift God should want to offer us, one that fits in better with what we think constitutes a good or acceptable gift, or costs enough, or maybe doesn’t conflict with the world! So today’s message looks at the issue of the free gift of righteousness offered to us by God through Jesus Christ.

This passage today also is a difficult one for limited atonement teachers to support and I have quoted MacArthur a couple of times to reveal his weakness in not being able to explain why the group that sins (Romans 3:23) is exactly the same group that is justified freely (Romans 3:24).


Romans 5:12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:


Sin entered our world through the one man, Adam, bringing death into the world.

Genesis 2:17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Death not only came to Adam but to all his descendants, because every person descended from Adam has the same sin nature as Adam. We aren’t sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. We are born sinful.

Psalm 51:5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.


The first Adam, after being created perfect, brought sin and death upon all mankind. The last Adam, Jesus, brought cleansing and life back to mankind, limited by the faith mankind would have in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

1 Corinthians 15:45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit.

Thus all have sinned, and come short of the glory of GodRomans 3:23.


Romans 5:13(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.


Paul has already shown in Romans Ch.2 that all are equally condemned, with or without the law. Lack of the law (written) cannot excuse anyone. (‘they are without excuse’ – Romans 1:20)

Romans 2:12For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law

However, the law itself couldn’t condemn those who weren’t under the law – “sin is not imputed” because you cannot be punished for breaking a law that isn’t there. The fact that all people were born of Adam, and therefore born in sin, would still be more than sufficient to condemn all mankind at this time – see next verse.


Romans 5:14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.


death reigned – Men died; they were under the dominion of death. Death dominated.

It was the law of Moses that proclaimed the law to the Hebrews, and they were to make this law known to the other nations. But what about those who lived before Moses delivered the law to the Hebrews? Paul has just said that sin is not imputed to them. Nevertheless death still reigned during this period; clearly death was a consequence of sin. Paul has already given us his answer in Vs 12. Sin and death entered the world through Adam and spread to all mankind.


So even without the law sin was already bringing the verdict of ‘guilty’ to all mankind. From Adam until Moses (when the law was delivered to the Hebrews), sin still condemned all men. Even those who hadn’t disobeyed God as Adam had done (them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression), even if it were possible to be perfect according to the law, all still had the condemnation of sin and consequent death just by being a descendant of Adam. (= original sin)


who is the figure of him that was to come – Adam was created perfect, without sin, holy, completely acceptable to a holy God. Until the fall, Adam was a picture of righteous mankind, a type of Him who was to come. Then Adam fell by disobeying God. Jesus came as the only other perfect man to have walked this earth, without sin, holy, completely acceptable to a holy God. And as we saw in 1 Corinthians 15:45, we have the first and the last Adam, the first a type of the last.


Romans 5:15But 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.


the offenceparaptoma = trespass; sin; fall. This term talks of the first fall of Adam, which then needs to be remedied. This is the offense of one man. Evil consequences resulted from the sin of one man, Adam, while the benefits resulted from the work of one Man, Jesus Christ. The contrast is around the consequences of one man to the many, for both Adam and Jesus Christ.


Note that MacArthur tries to say that the word ‘many’ in Vs 15 has two distinct meanings. 5:15 many died. Paul uses the word “many” with two distinct meanings in

v. 15, just as he will the word “all” in v. 18. (MacArthur Study Bible – Romans)

But the word used here in both cases is polus = many (much; large). If there were two distinct meanings, why didn’t Paul use two separate terms? The simplest most-straightforward meaning is that the meaning is the same in both cases, and no case exists to make separate meanings even remotely likely (see Vs 18 notes). MacArthur appears to have a great need to somehow “prove” that “many” cannot mean the same in each case here, yet throughout Romans, though, we find the group that sins is the same group that is justified freely by Christ. For example, Romans 3:23-2423for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Consistency of scriptural interpretation therefore supports the two cases of ‘many’ in Vs 15 here to mean the same. They are used to emphasize the difference between the offense of one to ‘many’ and the grace of the One to that same ‘many’.


the free gift – as I said earlier, gifts can be refused, or some might prefer to order a different ‘gift’! But this gift is free and it’s the only one on offer. “No other way”! (John 14:6) By the sin of Adam many died. Here “many” represents the large number of people who are condemned to die because of Adam’s offence (Romans 3:23), and that same condemned “many” are also justified freely by Christ (Romans 3:24). In fact, scriptural consistency makes the “many” under Adam’s offence to be “all” mankind as per Romans 3:23 (“for all have sinned”), and also that the “gift by grace” to “many” by Christ is to all mankind without exception (“the whole world” – 1 John 2:2).


Of course, this justification becomes effective only by faith. This “free gift” is offered by Christ to the all that many who were condemned to die through Adam.


It’s like a disease where all who are infected die, yet free medicine is offered to all who suffer this disease so that all who are doomed to die because of this disease may instead live if they would only take the medicine as prescribed. In this case, the “many” who have the disease of sin are all those descended from Adam, and the free gift (the cure) is therefore offered freely to all those descended from Adam. The “many” here is the “all” of Romans 5:18. Note that Calvin taught that “many” meant the whole human race. The word many (pollon) is not put definitely for a fixed number, but for a large number; for he contrasts himself with all others. [667] And in this sense it is used in Romans 5:15, where Paul does not speak of any part of men, but embraces the whole human race. (Commentary on Matthew 20:28)


The grace of God is much greater than the offense. Grace is the unmerited favour of God toward man. We deserve to die because of sin, yet by the grace of God all doomed to die may accept the free gift offered to them all. The disease that condemns man to death is strong, yet the medicine which will cure the disease is much stronger. Man does not deserve to be treated with such favour, for he deserves to die, yet such grace here is far greater than the offence (of sin) which it overcomes. God’s grace will always be more than sufficient for our needs. Note that God’s grace was abundantly sufficient for Paul’s needs in 2 Corinthians 12:9My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.


Mercy is the withholding of that which we rightly should have received. Grace means God’s love in action towards people (who deserved the opposite of love); this is unmerited or undeserved favour. In this case, God has offered all mankind a free gift by His grace; we don’t deserve such a gift, and have no right to receive it. And because all mankind was totally unable to redeem themselves, only an undeserved free gift from God by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, could abound to the ‘many’, the ‘all’ who had sinned.


Romans 5:16And not as [it was] by one that sinned, [so is] the gift: for the judgment [was] by one to condemnation, but the free gift [is] of many offences unto justification.


the judgement (was) by one to condemnation” – The one offense of Adam resulted in the general condemnation of mankind. All are to be found guilty.

the free gift (is) of many offenses untojustification” – The free gift which was prompted by the many offences of mankind resulted in the justification of mankind. It was because of the sin offence of mankind that Jesus had to die to provide the free gift that resulted in justification. The free gift effectively is a pardon for sins which enables the justification of mankind before God.


The consequences of Adam came from one offense, one act of sin, but the consequences of the one act by Jesus Christ were the justification for many offenses or sins. In Vs 15 it focused upon the offense of one man, and the redemption offered by one Man. Here it is the one offense committed (by Adam); many offenses (of mankind) justified (for all mankind, not just for Adam). All are offered the free gift, but only those who accept it can benefit from it. Thus all are freely justified, but only to those who believe is their faith accounted for righteousness.


Romans 5:17For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)


For if by Adam’s sin-offence death reigned – this was not a solitary thing for Adam alone but a widespread death from the one man who offended, Adam. Men died; they were under the dominion of death. Death dominated the world like a kingdom. Thus death reigned.

But great as the curse of death was, grace and righteousness were even more so, an abundance in fact. As it says in Romans 8:37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us..we are not just conquerors; we are more than just sufficient to win the battle. Likewise here in Vs 17 we aren’t given just sufficient grace and righteousness to overcome our offense; we are supplied with more than sufficient, an ‘abundance’! And we won’t just live because of what Jesus did for us; we will ‘reign in life’, have dominion, rule. We will exercise kingly power (basileuo = reign). We will reign in life through the One man, Jesus Christ, who more than overcame the offense of the one man, Adam.


Romans 5:18Therefore as by the offence of one [judgment came] upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [the free gift came] upon all men unto justification of life.


Note that MacArthur says that the word ‘all’ in Vs 18 has two different meanings.

5:18 ….. justification….for all men. This cannot mean that all men will be saved; salvation is only for those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ……Rather, like the word “many” in 5:15, Paul is using “all” with two different meanings for the sake of parallelism, a common practice in the Hebrew OT. (MacArthur Study Bible – Romans) But if it had two different meanings, then please tell me, MacArthur, just what those two meanings might be??? The truth is that he obviously doesn’t know – it’s just so much hot air! And how does Hebrew parallelism relate to this? Big words but no explanation, so no understanding!


The word “all” uses the same Greek word in both cases – pas = each; every; any; all; the whole; everyone; all things; everything. In some cases it can mean, when used collectively, “some of all types”. However, even if it meant “some of all types of men” and not the absolute “all mankind”, then it is still poor scholarship to say that the two occurrences have to have different meanings. Yet if they mean the same, then the atonement is unlimited! MacArthur says it is for the sake of “Hebrew parallelism”, but fails to give any example of such, which unusual if it is “a common practice”! And Hebrew parallelism actually supports the meanings of “all” and “many” being the same in both cases for the sake of contrast, not different. You will know the false teachers by their lies!


One man, the first Adam, brought the offense upon all men causing condemnation; one Man, the last Adam, enabled all men to be justified, through His righteous act. It’s like the two sides of the same coin, the fall, and the rise again. One act by each of the Adams, but opposite in direction to each other. And that the gift is free is emphasized again here. (If only all mankind would accept it!) Remember, a gift has to be received by the free will of the recipient!


Romans 5:19For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.


One act of disobedience caused the many (the large number, actually “all”) to be made sinners. One Man’s act of obedience caused the many (to be able) to be made righteous. Of course, not all would remain sinners, for some would granted imputed righteousness through the free gift of justification to life, and not all would be made righteous (as a result of their rejection of the free gift offered to all). But, by one man’s disobedience all are made sinners, and by one Man’s obedience would all be offered the free gift of justification, acceptable by faith.


Of course, not all people will be made righteous, but this isn’t God’s choice (as the calvinists would have us believe) but the choice of man through his free will. Jesus paid the full price, the full penalty for every offense against the law for all time for all mankind. Thus all have been freely justified (Romans 3:24) but it isn’t imputed to all mankind except for those who believe, and their faith is accounted for righteousness. All mankind has been made savable, but not all will choose to be saved. Note – this passage is based upon the free gift; thus righteousness is potentially for all but not actual yet.


This verse contrasts the disobedience of Adam (that led to sin for all mankind) with the obedience of Christ (that made it possible for all to be made righteous).


Romans 5:20Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:


Without the law there can no imputation of sin, but once the law is revealed, all the penalties of that law may be applied for all offenses against that law. It is the law that reveals our sin, and that same law that condemns our sin. The law cannot save us; it can only condemn us.

Galatians 3:24-2524Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.


Once the law exists, we have only one option: to throw ourselves upon the mercy of God. The publican (or tax collector) pleaded with God to “propitiate” him, a sinner.

Luke 18:13-1413And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to (propitiate) me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.


abound – to exist in abundance; to increase. The coming of the law increases our guilt according to the law. The law increases our offense before God. The greater the sin, the greater our offense, and thus the greater need for abundant grace to reign in our lives instead. Thus the law leads us toward Christ, as per the above passage. And where our sin once reigned, God’s grace would be more than sufficient (“much more abound”) to overcome the sin offence.


Romans 5:21That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.


Thus just as sin took control, had dominion over mankind, ruled, resulting in condemnation to death, grace more abundantly (Vs 20 above) reigns through the righteousness of Jesus Christ resulting in eternal life. There is only one sin that cannot be overcome by the abundant grace of God, and that is to reject the offer of the free gift of justification (resulting in righteousness unto eternal life).

Remember the two choices: (a) choose to rely upon our works to save us, but be found in debt, or (b) choose to believe on Him who justifies the ungodly, and his faith is accounted for righteousness.


I will continue this discussion on “the many” and “all men” next time, before moving on to Romans 6.


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