Romans 5:12-14 says: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” (NKJV)
These verses explain that sin and its consequence (death) came into this world through one man (Adam). It is understandable that Adam was held accountable for his own sin because the Lord had warned him that disobedience would bring death (Gen. 2:16-17). But why did death spread to all humanity? The answer: “because all sinned.”
God had given Adam headship over the entire human race; therefore, God viewed all humanity as having sinned when Adam disobeyed the Lord in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-24). Since Adam represented us, the death penalty was given to him and the entire human race. That death had spread to all because of Adam’s sin was proven early on, because people still died even though there was no law between Adam and Moses.
Angels are not racially linked; they do not reproduce; they have no head to represent them. The fallen angels sinned and were judged individually; therefore, there is no representative to take their judgment and save them.1 Praise God, we do have One, the last Adam.
Romans 5:14 explains that Adam “is a type of Him who was to come.” In his headship Adam was a symbol of a future Head of a redeemed race. In the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4), the eternal Son of God came down from heaven, born of human flesh in order to become the Head of a new creation. By virtue of His death for our sins, the resurrected Lord offers the gift of salvation to all who believe on Him. First Corinthians 15:22 says: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” Being under Adam’s headship (in Adam) all die. Only those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are placed under Christ’s headship (in Christ). Those in Christ will be physically resurrected to live eternally with Him (1 Thess. 4:13-18). Those who remain in Adam will be raised to eternal punishment (Rev. 20:11-15).
In Romans 5:15-19 we see the first and last Adam contrasted:
- By one man’s offense many (those in Adam) died; by one Man’s grace many (those in Christ) receive the gift of eternal life (v. 15)
- From one man’s offense came judgment and condemnation; from the gift of Christ came justification (v. 16)
- By one man’s offense death reigned; those who receive the gift of righteousness reign in life through Christ (v. 17)
- Through one man’s offense judgment came to all (in Adam) resulting in condemnation; through one Man’s righteous act (Calvary) the free gift came to all (in Christ) resulting in justification that brings life (v. 18)
- By one man’s disobedience many (those in Adam) were made sinners; by one Man’s obedience (Calvary) many (those in Christ) will be made righteous (v. 19)
By condemning the human race through the first Adam, God made salvation possible through the last Adam – Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:45). Through our first birth we were racially joined to Adam, the head of the old creation. Through the new birth believers are united to Christ, our new Head. We were born in Adam; we are born again in Christ. We were lost in Adam; we can be saved in Christ. God’s eternal purposes glorify Himself, magnify His unsearchable wisdom and grace, and bring blessings to His people.
1. Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications, 1999), p.528
by George Ferrier