Topic: The Basis of Justification: A Contrast between Adam and Christ
Text: Romans 5:12-21
Memory verse: Rom 5:18
In our previous lessons, we learnt about the theme of justification by looking at its meaning and blessings. Today’s lesson highlights on the basis of justification. In Rom 5:12-21, Paul is explaining how it is, that all humanity are sinners and how it is, that Christ’s death could give an ungodly sinner a right standing before God.
The key words in this passage are one and reign. One which appears eleven times is seen in vv. 12, 15-19 and the word reign is seen in vv. 14, 17, and 21. The key thought here is that when God looks upon the human race, He sees but two men – Adam and Christ. Every human being is either in Adam and lost, or in Christ and saved. Here, there is no middle ground. Verse 14 states that Adam is a type (figure) of Christ; he is the “First Adam”, and Christ is the “Last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45).
Contrasting the “two Adams”
We may contrast the two Adams as follows:
i. The first Adam was made from the earth, but the last Adam (Christ) came from heaven (1 Cor 15:47).
ii. The first Adam was the king of the old creation (Gen. 1:26-27), while the Last Adam is King-Priest over the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
iii. The first Adam was tested in a perfect garden and disobeyed God, while the Last Adam was tested in a terrible wilderness and obeyed God; and in the Garden of Gethsemane, He surrendered His will to God.
iv. The disobedience of the first Adam brought sin, condemnation, and death upon the human race, but the obedience of the Last Adam brought righteousness, salvation and life to all who will believe.
v. Through the first Adam, death and sin reign in this world (vv. 14, 17, 21); but through the Last Adam, grace reigns (v. 21) and believers can reign in life (v. 17).
vi. The paradise that Adam lost is restored in through the cross of Christ.
Some helpful comments
What Paul is teaching here is the unity of the human race in Adam (see Acts 17:26). When he says in v. 12 that all have sinned he means that all of us sinned in Adam when he sinned. We are identified with him as the “head” of the human race, and his sin is our sin, his death is our death.
Paul’s argument in vv. 12-14 goes like this:
We all know that a man dies if he disobeys God’s law. But there was no law from Adam to Moses, yet men died! We know that Adam died because he disobeyed a divine law; but the generations from Adam to Moses did not have such a law to disobey. Then death must be from another cause, and that cause is Adam’s sin.
Because we are born in Adam, we inherit his sin and condemnation. But in His grace, God has given a Last Adam, a new “Head” who has by His life and death undone all that Adam did in his sin.
Some symbolic contrasts explaining salvation and sin
– The offence versus the free gift (vv. 15-16)
Adam’s offence brought condemnation and death, while the free gift of God’s grace brings justification and life.
– Death versus Life (v. 17)
Death reigns as king because of Adam but now believers reign in life (right now, not only in the future) through Christ and have abundant life.
– Condemnation versus Justification (v.18)
Adamic sin plunged the human race into condemnation, Christ death brings right standing with God. Adam hid from God; in Christ we have free access to God.
– Disobedience versus Obedience (v. 19)
Adam disobeyed God and made us all sinners; Christ obeyed God and through faith in Him we are made righteous.
– Law versus Grace (v. 20)
God did not give the Law to save mankind. But rather to reveal sin. But God’s super abounding grace met the demands of the law when Christ died and then supplied what the law could not supply – salvation from sin.
The whole transaction is summarized in verse 20. In the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17, being in Christ) sin no longer reigns, grace does! Death does not reign, life does! And we reign in life! For Christ has made us kings and priests to God (Rev. 1:5-6).
However, while all people who are heirs of Adam were condemned, not all of humanity will automatically be saved in Christ, but rather those who are in Christ because they have accepted his free gift of eternal life and therefore are rightly related to him.
1. Identify any three contrast between the two “Adams”
2. When Adam sinned, all humanity sinned. Explain
3. With reference to Adam and Christ, comment on Life versus Death (v. 17) and Obedience versus Disobedience (v. 19)
4. As self-examination, ask yourself, Am I in Adam or in Christ?