The Contrast Between Adam’s Disobedience and Jesus Christ’s Obedience
Thinking about Romans 5:19.
Before we get to the article…
I’ve debated whether or not to start a YouTube channel to add helpful resources for you in your Bible study and Christian walk. I’d love to do it - but there are only so many hours in the day.
If I did decide to start doing this - perhaps a video or two per month - what would you find the most interesting/helpful?
If you have another idea that’s not listed, leave a comment letting me know.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19).
Paul has been reminding the Christians in Rome what comes by the old and new Adam. With Adam and Jesus Christ serving as the representatives - Paul emphasizes there are only two options: death or life.
He continues building on that point here in Romans 5:19.
The Contrast between Disobedience and Obedience.
The “disobedience” / “obedience” contrast is the central point of this verse. It may reflect overtones from the prophecy of Isaiah 53:11, where the Righteous One’s suffering made “the many” righteous. - Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 185
Whenever we study a passage of any length, it’s important to identify the main point of the passage. Doing so will help us tremendously when it comes to properly interpreting that passage.
I believe Pollard correctly identifies the contrast between “disobedience” and “obedience” as the main focal point of Romans 5:19.
Keeping the passage in the context of what Paul has been doing, we learn from Adam and Christ as representatives.
When Adam becomes our fit representative we are disobedient, condemned, dead, and the rest. When Christ becomes our representative we are obedient, justified and given life. You can be as sure of the one as the other. - McGuiggan, Romans, 173
I do believe it’s important to remind us that we have free will to choose who we will serve – as Joshua reminded the children of Israel before his death.
“Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14-15)
Universal Salvation (Universalism) is Not Taught Here.
Universalism is the belief that all of humanity will eventually be saved. No one will be eternally lost.
Although the apostle Paul certainly desired all to be saved – even his own countrymen who bitterly and violently opposed him (Romans 9:1-5) – he knew that not everyone would be saved. Some would face the wrath of God at Judgment (Romans 1:32; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11).
No hint of universal salvation can be found in verse 19. The idea that Adam brings sin to every man and Christ brings justification to all men is true only within this context, where Paul contrasted the consequences of Adam’s sin with what Christ did to overthrow them. If Paul changed course and was arguing for universal salvation here, he undercut his entire ministry. After all, what would be the need to travel all over the Roman Empire making converts if no one was lost? Why waste time writing to the church in Rome and setting up the trip to Spain if everyone was already saved? Clearly, to look for universal salvation in this verse is a fruitless endeavor. – Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 186
God desires everyone to be saved, but in order to be saved, sinners must repent (2 Peter 3:9; Acts 2:38). Even Jesus taught that some would go away into “eternal” punishment (Matthew 25:46).
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