Romans 5:15-17 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Romans 5:15
  • Romans 5:16
  • Romans 5:17

Through one man’s sin, there was condemnation for all. From the free gift there is justification for many. One man’s sin brought death to all men, but those who receive the free gift of righteousness gain life through Jesus.

The sin of Adam brought sin and death into the world, and death has reigned ever since. The mortality rate of people has been one hundred percent (Hebrews 9:27). The free gift of God’s grace through Jesus is not like the transgression of Adam. The transgression of the one (Adam) brought death to everyone whether they wanted it or not. The grace of God and the gift by the grace of the One Man, Jesus Christ, abound to many. But the free gift of justification before God comes to the “many” who receive it, and the way that gift is received is by faith. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. God’s judgement arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation for all. But the free gift of God’s grace, arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 

When Abraham believed God, it was counted to him for righteousness (Romans 4:3), even though Jesus had not yet died for Abraham’s sin. But Jesus’ death on the cross counted for all humanity in all time who believed, including Abraham. Abraham benefitted from Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s grace. But Abraham could not have benefitted from righteousness through the law of Moses because it did not yet exist. Yet again, Paul’s explanation is superior to the competing Jewish “authorities.”

Again, in verse 16, Paul emphasizes “free gift.” The Greek word translated “free gift” is “charisma,” from which we get our English word. In verse 15 Paul says that the free gift of Jesus is not like the sin of Adam. Lastly, in verse 17 Paul repeats that sin entered into the world through one man (Adam), and death reigned through the one. The free gift entered through one man as well (Jesus). But it does not stop there. The righteousness of Jesus reigns in our everyday life as well, but by grace, not by following rules. Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 

Biblical Text

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

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