16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
Verse 16 gives us a second contrasting parallelism between Christ and Adam of a different kind than the previous verse. Here the emphasis is on the effects of what Adam and Christ did:
The one sin of Adam transported condemnation to all.
The grace of Christ obtained justification for all those who believe.
16 And the free gift [grace-gift of justification] is not like the result of that one man’s sin [Adam’s sin].
There is a difference of result between what Christ did and what Adam did. The contrast is between the grace gift and what came through Adam. Christ does much more than simply remove the guilt of sin.
It takes only one sin to break fellowship with God and lose eternal fellowship with Him. Any sin that any individual commits is enough to condemn him to a Christless eternity.
For [on the one hand] the judgment [sentence on Adam] following [literally out of] one trespass [Adam’s trespass] brought condemnation [punishment],
Adam’s first sin brought “condemnation” on all. This word also occurs in verse 18 and in one other verse (8:1) in the Bible. Adam’s one sin at one point brought condemnation. The one offense was the basis for the sentence of judgment.
but [on the other hand] the free [grace] gift [God’s righteousness] following many trespasses [personal sins] brought justification [legal or forensic].
Christ’s gift of grace is justification. He died for all personal sins, not only for Adam’s original sin. By the one sin of Adam all mankind was legally constituted guilty; by the one act of Christ all who believe in that work are legally constituted right before God.
Christ paid not only for the one sin of Adam but for the “many transgressions.” The upshot was justification, not simple removal of the penalty, or restoration. God’s love for the sinner transcended any sin to any degree that he might commit.
The robust nature of God’s grace undoes the devastation of Adam’s sin.
There are no half-way measures with God. He judges sin without qualification; He delivers man from the penalty of sin without measure. There is no scale of penalty from God when it comes to the believer’s judgment about salvation. All sin is sin without qualification before God. No vast number of sins could deter God’s grace. The multitude of sins called for the cross.
Justification was an act by God. The sins of the many did not mandate the cross. If there was no cross, God would still be absolutely righteous. However, one sin brought everyone under condemnation. Only the cross could resolve that issue.
Mankind has a two-sided plight: (1) death as consequence of belonging to Adam’s epoch inaugurating sin and (2) condemnation by acts of personal trespass. However, the effect of God’s grace upon man gives him justification regardless of this two-sided plight.
The two epochs of Adam and Christ have a beginning and an end with each epoch. Adam initiated the sinful epoch from the beginning; Christ’s gracious act initiated the new epoch that resulted in acquittal before God.
Sin cannot defeat God. God’s mercy overwhelms the sin issue. There is forgiveness out there for anyone who avails themselves of God’s free offer.
There is a glorious contrast between our condemnation in the one sin of Adam and our justification by Christ, which was not only forgiveness for that sin but from every sin that we personally committed. This is the meaning of grace super-abounding for us. God canceled all sin of every kind.
Justification is the cancelation of eternal punishment and the declaration of God’s righteousness upon the believer.