What Comes by the Old and New Adam
Thinking about Romans 5:18.
Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. (Romans 5:18)
It’s important to remember what’s happening as we are studying God’s Word. That’s why yesterday’s post helped us summarize where we’ve been so far in Romans 5.
Paul explores the enormous contrast between Adam and Jesus Christ — the old Adam and the new Adam. His point is that in Adam, all have chosen to follow his path of sin, and so we all need what is graciously offered by God through Jesus Christ — the new Adam.
His thesis was that condemnation came by the old Adam and salvation leading to life came by the new Adam. Christ’s one act of righteousness refers to His sacrifice on the cross, the only way to counter the devastation brought by Adam. — Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 185
Through one man’s (Christ) act of righteousness, life was made available to all men. The “justification of life” is the opposite of “death.” In Adam, all men were condemned to death; eternal separation from God, “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12) — Wacaster, Studies in Romans, 212
There are only two options — life or death.
God’s grace freely offers eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ. But we must choose to turn away from the path of sin and turn to the only one who can justify us and reconcile us to God (Romans 5:6–10).
What is the “one righteous act” of Christ?
Paul mentions, “through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men.” I believe the “one Man” here certainly refers to Jesus Christ. But what is the “one righteous act?”
This may have reference to the whole life of Christ. It may have reference to the righteous act of God in raising Jesus Christ (Godet’s view) for our justification (Romans 4:25). But more than likely it has reference to the death of Christ as the central act of his holy life. What is in view is not what God did, but what Christ did and what flowed from that. — McGuiggan, Romans, 173
I agree with McGuiggan that the “one righteous act” refers to the death of Jesus on the cross. Earlier in this chapter, Paul connected our justification to the death of Jesus.
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Romans 5:6–9)
Through Adam’s choice to sin, death entered the world as a consequence of sin (Genesis 3:19). Because all have chosen to follow Adam down the road of sin (Romans 3:23), we all need saving.
Through Jesus’ choice to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:21), God offers the gift of eternal life to all people (Romans 1:16–17).
What a difference between what comes by the old and new Adam!
What a blessing it is that God gave His Son for us!