14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
14 Yet [strong contrast] death reigned from Adam to Moses,
There is a contrast between the reckoning of sin and the reigning of sin. Sin reigned between Adam and Moses. Men were subject to death before God gave the Mosaic law and not on account of personally violating the law.
Death comes through Adam’s sin. Those living during the time between Adam and Moses experienced death because of Adam’s sin. Although God did not charge sins to their account because of a written law, in spite of that, they died. God judged us in Adam. His death was passed to all men. Although we inherit a sin capacity from Adam, that is not what condemns us. The fact that we all sinned in Adam is what judges us.
Both sin and death were twin powers introduced into the world through Adam’s sin. We see this in subsequent argument in both chapters five and six. Thus, “death reigned” (5:14,17); “sin reigned in death” (5:21); believers “died to sin” as a power that rules over them (6:2); believers are “no longer slaves of sin” (6:6); “death no longer rules over” Christ (6:9); believers “should not let sin reign” (6:12); “sin shall not rule over you” (6:14); when a Christian presents himself to sin as a slave, this results in death (6:16); Christians “were slaves of sin” (6:17); believers were “set free from sin” (6:18); they “were slaves to sin” (6:20); they were “set free from sin” (6:22); and the “wages of sin is death” (6:23).
The word “reigned” indicates that death is sovereign. Later, in verse 21 there is a counterpart in grace reigning.
even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam [federal headship],
Death reigns universally over those who are in a different category from Adam. The reign of death from Adam to Moses came from Adam even over those whose sins were not like his transgression. It is not that we imitate or repeat Adam’s sin, but that from God’s viewpoint, we participate in his sin; that is at issue.
Death reigned over those who did not sin after the nature of Adam’s sin. Adam disobeyed a specific command from God not to eat of the fruit of the tree but his descendants did not sin after that kind of sin.
All sin since Moses has the character of deliberate disobedience via transgression of a clear standard. Adam violated a clear standard not to eat of the tree. “Transgression” means to step over a boundary, a deviation from a prescribed norm. Here the norm is God’s norm. The sin people committed pre-Moses was the sin everyone committed representatively in Adam.
Mankind needs a Savior from both the sin capacity and personal sins.
Death reigned over those who had not sinned as Adam did. Adam in actuality sinned personally, but those between Adam and Moses did not; they sinned in Adam. Death comes to those who did not commit actual sins or personal sins. Therefore, the penalty of sins come on men not due to their personal sins.
God judges us on the basis of our relation to Adam, not simply because of our personal sins. We can see our stark need for a Savior. Jesus took the penalty of judgment on our lives.
Co 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),