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


Paul now repeated the “as/so” construction found in Romans 5:12-18, but here it forms a climax. Here the contrast is between “disobedience” and “obedience.”

19 For as by the one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience the many [the entire human race] were made [constituted, appointed before God] sinners,

The as/so argument here shows the parallel Adam and Christ had to each other. Adam and Christ are not the same in this parallelism.

Personal sin is not the basis for condemnation; God does not condemn man because of what they do but He condemns them because of what Adam did. Original sin is the cause of condemnation. Everyone is born a sinner because of that. Adam’s sin was not simply his sin, for his sin became everyone’s sin. We are born sinners and condemned. Original sin shows clearly why we cannot merit salvation.

The phrase “were made sinners” is historical past in the Greek (aorist, passive, indicative). The word “made” means appoint or became. All mankind became sinners judicially (forensically) when Adam sinned.

Adam’s “disobedience” indicates his sin was voluntary.

so by the one man’s [Jesus] obedience [on the cross] the many [the justified] will be made [constituted, appointed before God] righteous [by sanctification].

Note the parallelism between “made sinners” and “made righteous.” The Greek verb “made” in this verse is a different Greek word than the previous word in Romans used for justification, “declared righteous,” but carries the same meaning.

Since man participated in Adam’s sin and is justly condemned, so he also participated in the death of Christ by faith and is declared right before God if he places faith in what Christ did on the cross.

The Greek for “made righteous” is not the Greek for declare righteous. Although the word in this verse carries the idea of our eternal status with God, the subject here is glorification, not justification. The further idea here is positional sanctification terminating in glorification. The idea of “made righteous” is that one stands constituted as righteous in a glorified sense. Jesus made possible our final acquittal before God forever, that is, our ultimate sanctification. This is the same verb used in this verse for “were made sinners.”

Because Adam functioned as the head of humanity, he sinned as our representative. We are sinners by our corporate solidarity with him.

The “obedience” here speaks to Jesus’ submission to the death of the cross. It is not His obedience before the cross (Php 2:5-8). This is the only obedience of Jesus in the Bible. It is the foundation of our justification. He was indeed obedient to the Father, but His life before the cross is not the reason for justification of sinners. Man does not need an active and a passive righteousness to be saved. All he needs is the death of Christ for his sins.

“Made righteous” refers to our legal status before God and not a change in character. Sanctification occurs in chapter six.

There is a difference between being sinful and a sinner. This passage does not argue against personal acts of sin but the constitution of being a sinner. The emphasis on verses 12 to 19 is on the effect of Adam’s sin.


The representative significance of Christ’s death for us places us in union with Him before God forever.


God has not only credited the righteousness of Christ to us, but He has made personal holiness available to us in time and eternity. We need to leave the theory of righteousness and actively apply it to our daily lives. That kind of righteousness should reign in our lives. Initial salvation has an effect on progressive sanctification. Whenever God plants His life in the believer, it changes that life. God’s life in us cannot remain dormant in the believer. Ultimately, God will glorify our sanctification in a perfect sense in eternity.

The disobedience of Adam is set in contrast to the obedience of Christ. The imputation of righteousness takes place at new birth, regeneration. This is not subjective or moral righteousness but strictly a judicial righteousness. God judicially declared Adam guilty in one act; He likewise by one act in the death of Christ declares that anyone who believes in His sacrifice for sin will have a perfect standing and sanctification before Him forever.