Romans 5:15-19 ~ antithesis

He-man So by now, whether in life or in the book of Romans, we realize that we are not perfect, but have an inherent and inherited flaw. Because of Adam's sin, we can not continue to live in perfect life. Because Adam died, we die. Cause… Effect. Thanks alot, Adam, we are stuck in a nasty end.

But God's grace is not like Adam's estate. Adam bestowed the human race with death. God gifts the human race with life. "But the gift," Paul says in Romans 5:15, "is not like the trespass" (NIV). And that's good news. Here's why:

Adam's bestowal was powerfully effective, yes… it infected every human with the virus of sin and death. His was the worst contagion in history. But Adam was just a dude. No more, no less. Just a guy. He wasn't eternally powerful, nor was he everlastingly great. His power was limited… he could impact humanity no further than death. That end was the furthest extent of his influence.

But God… Well, God's influence extends infinitely. Death is no end to God. God is the Eternal One, from Everlasting to Everlasting. Where is "thy" sting, O Death? That's right, God kicks your butt! And God, the Author who breathed into our nostrils, in His Infinite mercy, gifts humanity with the blessing of life. God was not, is not, nor will-not-ever-be limited to the confines of death. Therefore, think on this for a second, if Adam had the power to give death through sin… How much more can God give life through Jesus!

Death is nothing to Jesus. To Adam it was the end. 

To Jesus death was a place / to offer grace / to a human race / hit by Adam's mace. 

(Sorry – the rhyme got in my head and I had to write it or else forever be singing it my mind. Yes, that's right, I added music in my head. What a wretched man I am. In fact, I think I might actually wretch; this poem is so bad.)

John Stott said that there is a correspondence between the damning work inacted by Adam and the redemptive work inacted by Jesus. Their work is not parallel, but an antithesis, says Stott (Romans: God's Good News for the World, IVP, 1994, 160). Jesus' work is superlative. Through one man, Adam (man made from dirt), everyone got messed up. Through one man, Jesus (God incarnate as man), how much more can man be made right!

Justification (v16) means that humans are "made right" again in the eyes of God. Certainly this has nothing to do with Adam… who made wrong… but most assuredly this has to do with the abundant righteousness of Jesus. So, if we are ruefully linked to death through Adam, shouldn't we long to be overcomingly linked to life through Jesus?! This passage hints at how great the grace of Jesus is— just look at these words used by the New Living Translation below:  gracious; gift; greater; wonderful; grace; gift; forgiveness; right; righteousness; live; triumph; relationship.

All these words can be known to us, even though we have been once marked by sin and death, because they are offered to us as a gift, once for all, from Jesus, our Savior who obediently went to the cross to give his life for us— so that we might live. What a difference from Adam who disobediently went to the "tree" to gain life for himself – at the expense of others. Oh why do we keep walking in the way of Adam?! It is Jesus' obedient way that truly is right. 

Romans 5:15-19 15 But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.

18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:15-19 NLT)

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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