Christ, The Second Adam
Righteousness & Life Through Christ
In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 23b of 83


“…18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.   19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous…” (Romans 5:12-21).

 [We noted in the first part of this study that Romans 5:12-21 is really an interlude or a parenthesis in which the apostle Paul clarifies a very important aspect of justification, namely that of covenant representation. Very briefly, he wants us to know 4 things from this passage. Firstly, he would have us know that Adam is mankind’s representative unto sin and death. Secondly, he would have us know that Christ is our representative unto righteousness and life. Thirdly, he would have us know how Adam highlights the greatness of Christ. And fourthly, he would have us know that the Law also highlights the grace of Christ.

In this second instalment, we must consider his second point. —JJL]

2.  Christ Represents Us unto Righteousness and Life

a.   This is what Paul is saying in verse 18—

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 


Because of Adam’s sin, all men became guilty: “Judgement came upon all men to condemnation” says Paul (v. 18). Likewise, because of the righteousness of Christ, “the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Now, take note that Paul is not teaching universalism. He is not teaching that every single person in this world has been given justification of life. No, no; the “all men” refers to all men represented by Adam and all men represented by Christ. One involved all He represented unto condemnation and death; whereas the other involved all He represented unto justification and life.

All men in this world, in other words, are represented. All men descending from Adam by natural generation are represented by Adam. Amongst these, however, are some who, though represented by Adam by nature, are represented by Christ by grace so that their guilt in Adam is replaced with righteousness in Christ, and they cease to be represented by Adam.

Those who are represented by Adam but not by Christ are already condemned. They will die, and will face eternal damnation. On the other hand, those who are represented by Christ are justified, and will live forever in the favourable presence of God.

The question that we must all ask ourselves is: Am I represented by Adam only or am I represented by Christ? Or, in other words, who is my head? Who is my leader? This is an extremely important question that none of us can afford to ignore. Are you represented by Adam or are you represented by Christ?

I trust that we all hope that we are represented by Christ. But remember that being represented by Christ involved more than being regarded as righteous in God’s sight. It involves changed lives. No one who is represented by Christ continues to live according to nature as one who is represented by Adam.

b.  Look at verse 19—

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Notice that the “all” is replaced by “many.” Why? Because not all mankind will be made righteous. Many are made righteous, but not all. Also, while all mankind were made sinners, not all would remain sinners. Some will be made righteous.

Notice the difference between verse 18 and verse 19. Verse 18 is about legal condemnation and justification. Verse 19 is about our actual natures.

By the disobedience of Adam, all men were made sinners. We were not only imputed with Adam’s guilt, but we inherited Adam’s sin nature. We became sinners.

But by the obedience of Christ, shall many be made righteous. Notice the difference in the tenses. Many were made sinners when Adam sinned. But many shall be made righteous through the obedience of Christ.

Adam disobeyed in eating the forbidden fruit. Christ obeyed in keeping the whole law of God, and even dying for those whom He came to save. Because of what Christ did, sinners are not only regarded as righteous in God’s sight, but will actually be made righteous!

c.   If you are represented by Adam, you are dying in Adam; but if you are represented by Christ, you are living in Christ. As Paul puts it elsewhere, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:3).

Are you dead in Adam or living in Christ? To die in Adam is to live a life of sin which will end in condemnation. To live in Christ is to live a life of righteousness which culminates in glory.

Those who live in Adam live in sin because they have inherited Adam’s sin nature. But those who live in Christ live in righteousness because they have received a new nature by the Spirit of Christ.

Now, all these truths are very important truths. But why does Paul bring them up at this point? The answer may be found in the last part of verse 14, which teaches us that Adam was the figure of Christ. The word “figure” may literally be translated “type.” Adam was a type of Christ. In other words, there is a resemblance between Adam and Christ; and this resemblance is not an incidental one. It is one that is designed or predetermined by God in order that we may fully appreciate the work of Christ.

This is precisely what Paul is doing in our text.  He brought up Adam really to stir our hearts to appreciate Christ and His work better. Therefore, ultimately our text shows us that Adam highlights the Greatness of Christ. This is our next point.

…to be Continued Next Issue

—JJ Lim