In this exegesis, I will not work out every (part of every) verse of Romans 5. This is a difficult passage to exegete, so if the reader has additional suggestions then contact me. The verses which are skipped in no way counter my exegesis, which the reader is free to (and should) verify.
(Please read “Does Romans 3 teach That All are Sinners?” before continuing, as it will give a far deeper insight in my exegesis of Romans 5. This article has been built on that exegesis, so without first reading the exegesis of Romans 3, you might not understand this article very well.)
Rom 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
v 1: points to the previous part on justification by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (a lot of false teaching has been built on what is called “imputed righteousness“). Click here for the Governmental View of Imputed Righteousness, which I hold to be the correct one.
Rom 5:2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
v 2: access by faith: it is still by the choice of faith (as in chapters 3:21-4:25, see also Matthew 6:30; 8:10; 8:26; 9:2; 9:22, 29; 14:31; 15:28; 16:8; 17:20; 21:21 Mark 2:5; 4:40; 5:34; 10:52 Luke 7:9; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19 for the fact that faith is a choice.) The volitional choice is stressed in this verse and the previous. Individuals received grace through having faith.
Rom 5:6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
v 6b: “The ungodly”: see note on Romans 3, which shows that all the previous (ch. 1-3:21) talks about the group of Jewish sinners and the group of Gentile sinners (Paul includes himself in this group). It does not talk at all about all human beings because infants are excluded because they are innocent. The phrase “the ungodly” is most likely a generalization and it is certainly not a universal statement (Romans 1:21).
Rom 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
v 6-8: recap of Chapter 3:21-31 (and all the previous chapters). See my exegesis on Romans 3. Paul belonged to the group of Jewish sinners. In the verses (ch. 5:6-8), he also includes the group of Gentile sinners. He says that Christ did an incredible thing, out of His love; dying for all (terrible) sinners…
Rom 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
v 9: (still recap) because He did this, we can be justified from all sins. His love for us can overcome our sins and the deserved punishment, by faith (as said before, this is a choice).
Rom 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
v 10: we belonged to the group of Jewish or the group of Gentile sinners. But God reconciled the believer (it is a choice to become a believer, as showed before) to Himself, by the death of His Son (see also 2 Corinthians 5:19). So, Paul seems to state that because that Son lives again, He will intercede for us so that we can be reconciled even more (as in the Governmental view of the atonement, see 1 John 2:1).
Rom 5:11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
v 11: “received the atonement”: by choice (see verse 2), no imputation of Christ’s righteousness without making a personal choice in faith (John 1:12, John 3:16).
Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
v 12: “Therefore”: most exegetes seem to miss or either completely ignore the word “therefore”, which implies that the following part will be an explanation of the previous part. Why would the context of the free will choice (Chapter 3:21-5:11) magically disappear in the following verses (verses 12-21)?
“as by one man…”: Adam, the forefather of both Jews and Gentiles.
“…sin entered into the world”: making Adam the archetype of both Jewish and Gentile sinners (as a group).
“Death by sin”: [physical death passed upon all men because Adam’s descendants do not have access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24).] In this context[, however,] it is talking about spiritual death… because Adam sinned, spiritual death came upon himself.
“And so”: he does not say: ‘by inheritance’ but on the contrary, he says: ‘in the same way’.
“death passed upon all men”: spiritual death passed upon the group of Jewish sinners and the group of Gentile sinners, as a consequence, not of the previous (Adam’s personal sin) but of the following: “for”. “for” means because. What is the reason Paul gives for spiritual death passing on “all” (that is: both groups of Jewish and Gentile sinners, read my exegesis on Romans 3)?
“for that all have sinned”: because all (both groups of Jewish and Gentile sinners) have also sinned. Therefore, the reason Paul gives for the spiritual death of Adam’s descendants is NOT Adam’s sin but the sins of Adam’s offspring (see also (1)). The sins of every individual in either the Jewish group of sinners, the Gentile group of sinners or the archegroup of sinners (see next verse).
Rom 5:13 For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
13: “the law”: the law of Moses
“sin was in the world”: sin entered into the world by one man, Adam (v 12), but also the collective archegroup of sinners, from Adam to Moses, sinned and violated their consciences (v 14).
“sin is not imputed where there is no law”: the archetype of sinners (and later on the Gentile sinners) were not under the direct judgment of God like the group of Jews, which existed only later on, as the law of Moses describes (Leviticus 24:12-13; Numbers 15:34-35; 27:5-6vv).
Rom 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
v 14: “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses”: Christopher Fisher noted here that this verse can be taken to mean that the general characteristic of this timeframe is ‘death’. People were sinful, died, and were in rebellion from God. Before he made this remark, I wrote, on this verse: ‘This, however, does not mean that spiritual death did not come on those who committed their first sin (Isaiah 59:2, Romans 6:23, 1 John 3:8a) (this might mean: against their consciences). Spiritual death (after having chosen to sin) reigned also over the archegroup of sinners, before this group became two groups: the Jewish group of sinners and the Gentile group of sinners’.
“even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression” (+ “sin is not imputed where there is no law”: v 13): Again: Paul seems to state that this does not mean, that spiritual death did not come on those who committed their first sin (Isaiah 59:2, Romans 6:23, 1 John 3:8) (this might mean: against their consciences). This shows us that Augustine’s interpretation, of a wrongly translated Latin version of Romans 5:12 (1), namely: that we existed in Adam when he took and ate from the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:6), is flat out wrong. Because how can the apostle Paul claim here that they had NOT sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression if they sinned in Adam?
Rom 5:15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
15b: “For if through the offence of one many died”: The apostle does not say: ‘sin is inherited’. The word “through” here does not have to imply imputation without the use of the will. It can mean ‘by imitation’/’by choice’.
“Many”: does NOT imply every human being but it does imply those who became sinners and therefore joined the group of Jewish sinners or the group of Gentile sinners, and therefore became spiritually dead.
“The gift of grace which is by one man”: Jesus’ sacrifice was an undeserved gift for sinners (undeserved gift: Ephesians 2:8-9, for sinners: Romans 5:8, Luke 5:31-32).
“Hath abounded unto many”: out of the same (group of) sinners (that is: the Jews and Gentiles), this applies only to those who chose. For if the previous were not by choice, but by unwilled imputation, in the comparison, neither would this be by choice, and it would also be by unwilled imputation. This would inevitably lead to universalism (universal reconciliation) (2), as it is still speaking of the same group: all sinners (see v 18) (3).
Rom 5:16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
v 16: Adam sinned “unto” his own “condemnation” (spiritual death) but Christ’s death on the cross (gift), was “unto justification” of sinners (plural) who had committed “many offences” (Isaiah 53:9-12). (Also: read again: Romans 3:21-31, 4. Commentary available here).
Rom 5:17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
v 17a: “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one”: Spiritual reigned in the one (Adam), after the one man (Adam)’s offense. (It does not state that spiritual death reigned in his descendants.)
v 17b: “much more they which receive… shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”: The Apostle Paul is leading us into chapter 6. “Reign in life”: over sin, when, by faith, our old self-made sin nature is destroyed [“knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7)] (see also 2 Corinthians 5:17-18).
Rom 5:18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
v 18: “Therefore as by … to condemnation”: all men is again both groups, inheriting sin from Adam does not have to be implied and is even impossible to be implied here, because the term “even so” (also for the following verses) implies ‘in the same manner’, that is: ‘by the free-will choice’ (of sinning or accepting the free gift) (read also Matthew 6:30; 8:10; 8:26; 9:2; 9:22, 29; 14:31; 15:28; 16:8; 17:20; 21:21 Mark 2:5; 4:40; 5:34; 10:52 Luke 7:9; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19 read also: “Faith is A Choice“).
v 18: See note on universalism; verse 15. “all men -> all men”: both groups: the Jewish and Gentile sinners”. Because:
v 19: “many -> many”: not every living being (infants are innocent) but (only) both groups of Jewish and Gentile sinners. See note on universalism; verse 15.
Additional notes on verse 19 by Jamie RA Gerrard and Gordon C. Olson:
‘To interpret the phrase “made sinners” to mean that men are born sinners and become sinners involuntarily and necessarily by receiving a sinful nature from Adam, is a forced and inconsistent interpretation of this passage, for this passage not only says that all men are “made sinners” because of Adam’s transgression, it also says that all men are “made righteous” by the obedience of Christ, and that the free gift of life “came upon all men” by Christ Jesus. So for the advocates of the doctrine of original sin to arbitrarily give to the phrases “made sinners” and “came upon all men” the meaning of physical force when these phrases refer to Adam’s sin, without giving the same meaning of physical force when they refer to Christ’s righteousness, is an example of a forced and inconsistent interpretation of this passage dictated by a prepossessed belief in the doctrine of original sin.’
Source: Jamie RA gerrard, “Romans 5 – Against Original Sin” (holyandpure).
‘By what linguistic authority could we say that the terms, “the many” and “all men,” when appearing on the Adamic side of the parallelism refer to the whole of mankind, while the same terms appearing on the Christ side refer only to those who are actually saved?’
Source: Gordon C. Olson, Essentials of Salvation, p. 259.
CONCLUSION: This exegesis points out that the verses used in Romans 5 do not necessarily support the view of Original Sin. Certain verses in Romans 5, even seem to disprove Original Sin (see commentary on verses 14, 18-19). Certain verses of Romans 5 have been used, out of context, to “prove text” the myth of Original Sin. Ironically, Romans 5 even disproves this false doctrine (see commentary on verses 14, 18-19). I admit that this exegesis might be confusing and therefore it might not fully prove to you that Romans 5 cannot correctly be used to defend the doctrine of original sin. In other posts of my website, and as you carry out your own research, you will notice that Christians did not hold to this ugly doctrine of original sin before Augustine arrived (396 A.D.) and committed the sin of eisegese (see for example this link on my website, this link on my youtube channel (Leighton Flowers speaking) and this link on Christopher Fisher’s website). You can now choose whether you will try to read Romans chapter 5, as the early Christians did, or whether you will stay with the gnostic interpretation of Augustine. If your exegesis will be better than mine, you will be the more convinced that the doctrine of original sin is a false teaching (Click here to read more on false teacher Augustine) (Click here to watch a documentary on gnostic heretic Augustine).
“Test everything. Keep what is good”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ERV)
“Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.”
– Hebrews 13:9a (NIV)
“I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly
for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.”
– Jude 1:3b (ASV)
(1) Jesse Morrell wrote: “The problem was that Augustine did not read Greek but read a Latin version of the New Testament translated by Jerome, who mistranslated Romans 5:12. The KJV properly translates this verse as, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Many other English translations also properly translate this as “because all have sinned.” However, Augustine read Jerome’s Latin mistranslation which, instead of saying “for that all have sinned,” said, “in whom all sinned.” However, in the Greek “epi ho” never means “in whom.” This philosophical error was not corrected in the church for 1200 years, as the Latin Vulgate reigned supreme in Europe. It wasn’t until Erasmus that “epi ho” was properly translated to be “on who all have sinned” which is the proper idiomatic meaning. “Epi” means “on” or “upon” and “ho” means “who,” so “epi ho” properly means “on who.” So Paul was saying in Romans 5:12 that death came into the world through Adam and it passed upon all men who have sinned. Augustine’s supposed scriptural support for mankind existing and sinning in Adam was therefore greatly mistaken. How sad that such a major doctrine in his theological system, which has caused so much division in the church, was based upon a mistranslation.”
Source: Jesse Morrell, “On Original Sin, Sinful Nature, and Romans Chapter Five” (biblicaltruthresources).
(2) The theory that, in the end, all persons, even those who are wicked at this moment, will be saved.
(3) some might infer Calvinist predestination here, which is a gnostic/unorthodox concept. For more information on this theory see: “Against The Hidden Will of The Father Concerning Predestination“).