Since the concept of works righteousness involves a denial of sin, it entails a form of self-deception that seems reasonable to our sin corrupted way of thinking. For that reason, many people find it hard to understand that we are not saved by what we do, but by what Christ did for us on the cross. Therefore, to more effectively get that message across, the Apostle Paul drew an analogy between the sin of one man (Adam), and the obedience of one man (Christ). That analogy is found in the fifth chapter of His Epistle to the Romans.


12 Therefore, as sin entered into the world by one man, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned:

13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.)

  1. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned after the similitude of Adamís transgression, who is a type of him who was to come.

[Comment: In verse 12 Paul reminds us that as a result of Adamís sin, we are all going to die, for we have all sinned. In verses 13-14 he then makes it clear that the law will not save us, by pointing out that people were dying (and going to hell) before the law was ever given, and, therefore, before the sins of the law were ever imputed to men.]


15 But the free gift is not like the fall. For if through the sin of one many died, much more the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded to many.

  1. Likewise the gift of God is not like the result of that one sin: for the sentence from one sin brought condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

17 For if death reigned through one manís sin; how much more shall those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through one man, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore as through the sin 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 manís disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

[Comment: In verse 15 Paul tells us that even though what Adam did had the opposite effect of what Christ did, there is a similarity because in both cases what was done by one affected all. In verse 16 he points the radical difference between the result of Adamís sin, and the result of Godís gift (the gift of forgiveness that Christ won for us through His death on the cross). In verses 17-19 he elaborates on the parallel by pointing out the spiritual significance of both Adam's sin, and Christ's sacrificial death on our behalf.]

20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

21 That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

[Comment: Since Paul told us in verses 12-14 that men were sinners and were dying as a result of sin before the law was given and thus before the sins of the law were ever imputed to anyone, in these two verses (verses 20-21) he assures us that the grace that is ours in Christ is sufficient to cover all sin (both the sin in our nature, and the sin of transgressing the law).]


Paul drew this parallel in order to emphasize the fact that we are not made righteous by what we do, but by what Christ did for us. In verse fifteen we are told that grace is a gift, in verse sixteen we are told that justification is a gift, and in verse seventeen we are told that righteousness is a gift. The point being that our salvation is a gift. As it is written, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

Gary Ray Branscome