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Romans 5:18

Therefore as by the offence 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.


A Hoekema Saved By Grace
By "one act of righteousness" Paul means the entire obedience of Christ - not just having suffered the penalty for our sins, but his having perfectly kept God's law. The result of Christ's obedience is "justification that brings life." This justification is received by use because the obedience of Christ, our second Adam and our new head, is imputed to us or credited to our account. Since the "one act of righteousness" is contrasted with "one trespass," the former expression must refer to the law-keeping obedience of Christ.

The contrast between what comes to us through Adam and what comes to us through Christ is continued in verse 19. Through the disobedience of Adam we were made sinners - the Greek word kathistemi, translated "made," here means to "appoint," "constitute," or "place in the status of." Paul is here expressing a forensic or legal idea: because of Adam's disobedience we who are in Adam have been placed in the status of sinners and are therefore under condemnation (see v.18). From the second half of the verse we learn that through the obedience of Christ we are "constituted" (again a from of kathistemi) righteous. Since the first half of verse 19 describes a legal or forensic concept, by way of analogy the second half must also do so: we who are in Christ are now considered or declared righteous because Christ's active or law-keeping obedience has been imputed to us.

John Owen Death of Death
Rom 5:18 is the last place urged in this kind, and by some most insisted on: "As by the offence 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." It might suffice us briefly to declare that by all men in the latter place can none be understood but those whom the free gift actually comes upon unto justification of life; who are said, verse 17, to "receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness," and so to "reign in life by one, Jesus Christ;" and by his obedience to be "made righteous," verse 19; which certainly, if any thing be true and certain in the truth of God, all are not. Some believe not,--"all men have not faith;" on some "the wrath of God abideth," John 3:36; upon whom, surely, grace doth not reign through righteousness to eternal life by Jesus Christ, as it doth upon all those on whom the free gift comes to justification, verse 17. We might, I say, thus answer only; but seeing some, contrary to the clear, manifest intention of the apostle, comparing Adam and Christ, in the efficacy of the sin of the one unto condemnation, and of the righteousness of the other unto justification and life, in respect of those who are the natural seed of the one by propagation, and the spiritual seed of the other by regeneration, have laboured to wrest this place to the maintenance of the error we oppose with more than ordinary endeavours and confidence of success, it may not be unnecessary to consider what is I brought by them to this end and purpose:--

Verse 14. Adam is called, the type and "figure of him that was to come;" not that he was an instituted type, ordained for that only end and purpose, but only that in what he was, and what he did, with what followed thereupon, there was a resemblance between him and Jesus Christ. Hence by him and what he did, by reason of the resemblance, many things, by way of opposition, concerning the obedience of Christ and the efficacy of his death, may be well represented. That which the apostle here prosecuteth this resemblance in (with the showing of many diversities, in all which he exalteth Christ above his type) is this, that an alike though not an equal efficacy (for there is more merit and efficacy required to save one than to lose ten thousand) of the demerit, sin, disobedience, guilt, transgression of the one, to condemn, or bring the guilt of condemnation upon all them in whose room he was a public person (being the head and natural fountain of them all, they all being wrapped up in the same condition with him by divine institution), and the righteousness, obedience, and death of the other, for the absolution, justification, and salvation of all them to whom he was a spiritual head by divine institution, and in whose room he was a public person, is by him in divers particulars asserted. That these last were all and every one of the first, there is not the least mention. The comparison is solely to be considered intensively, in respect of efficacy, not extensively, in respect of object; though the all of Adam be called his many, and the many of Christ be called his all, as indeed they are, even all the seed which is given unto him.

Thomas More, in his "Universality of Free Grace," chap. 8. p. 41, lays down this comparison, instituted by the apostle, between Adam and Christ, as one of the main foundations of his universal redemption:

"That Adam, in his first sin and transgression, was a public person, in the room and place of all mankind, by virtue of the covenant between God and him; so that whatever he did therein, all were alike sharers with him. So also was Christ a public person in his obedience and death, in the room and place of all mankind, represented by him, even every one of the posterity of Adam."

Answer: To that which concerns Adam, we grant he was a public person in respect of all his that were to proceed from him by natural propagation; that Christ also was a public person in the room of his, and herein prefigured by Adam. But that Christ, in his obedience, death, and sacrifice, was a public person, and stood in the room and stead of all and every one in the world, of all ages and times (that is, not only of his elect and those who were given unto him of God, but also of reprobate persons, hated of God from eternity; of those whom he never knew, concerning whom, in the days of his flesh, he thanked his Father that he had hid from them the mysteries of salvation; whom he refused to pray for; who were, the greatest part of them, already damned in hell, and irrevocably gone beyond the limits of redemption, before he actually yielded any obedience), is to us such a monstrous assertion as cannot once be apprehended or thought on without horror or detestation. That any should perish in whose room or stead the Son of God appeared before his Father with his perfect obedience; that any of those for whom he is a mediator and advocate, to whom he is a king, priest, and prophet (for all these he is, as he was a public person, a sponsor, a surety, and undertaker for them), should be taken from him, plucked out of his arms, his satisfaction and advocating in their behalf being refused;--I suppose is a doctrine that will scarce be owned among those who strive to preserve the witness and testimony of the Lord Jesus.

Matthew J Slick
The literal, word for word, translation of Romans 5:18 is:

so therefore as through one offense into all men into condemnation, so also through one righteous deed into all men into justification of life"
So, therefore, as through one offense, into all men into condemnation,
so, also, through one righteous deed, into all men into justification of life.

Because there is no verb in this verse (it is not unusual in Greek for there to be no verb in a sentence), a verb must be borrowed or implied. Since there isn't a verb close enough in the previous verses to borrow and that would fit appropriately, one from the context must be derived. A smoothed out version would be:

So, as through one offense, there resulted condemnation to all men,
so also, through one righteous deed, there resulted justification of life to all men.

We know that inserting the words "there resulted" into the text is correct by simple logic. The offense of Adam resulted in condemnation to all men--no one disputes that. Adam represented all his people (everybody) in the garden. When he sinned, we fell with him. There was a result, an actual result to his sin: condemnation. It follows that "there resulted" should be in the second part of the sentence as well because the second part has the same syntax as the first and says "also." That is, Paul is implying a parallel between the actions of Adam and the actions of Jesus. Adam represented his people; Jesus represented His.
      1) The structure of the first and the second parts of the verse are the same: adverb(s), preposition, noun, (verb place), noun, and object.

Paul is trying to make it clear in this verse that the deeds of the respective persons had definite results upon those whom they represented. That is why the verse is really two sentences of identical structure.
      Adam's sin resulted in condemnation to all
      Jesus' sacrifice resulted in justification to all

Where the first Adam brought condemnation to all, the second Adam (Jesus is called the second Adam in 1Co 15:45) brought justification to all--that is what the text says, despite the apparent problem of "all people being justified."

Justification is being declared legally righteous before God. If someone is declared legally righteous before God, then he is saved. Only the saved are justified: "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him " (Rom 5:9). Since the Scriptures clearly teach that not all men are saved (Mat 25:31-33), we know that the "all" in this verse can't refer to every individual. It must refer to something other than everyone who ever lived. I conclude that the "all" can only mean the Christians. God was so sure of His predestination that to Him, the elect are the "all" He wishes to save.

The NASB gives the best translation: "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men."

The NIV does not translate it as literally. It says, "Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men." The NIV is right in adding the word "result." The NIV is an excellent translation but in this verse it sacrifices the literalness needed to draw out this aspect of biblical teaching.

Furthermore, if the verb phrase "that brings" is in the second part, it should then be in the first part of the verse because the verse is two identical thoughts. If that were done, then "that brings" would take on the meaning of result, because condemnation is exactly what resulted to all men when Adam sinned. Since the verse is in two identical parts, what is done to one should be done to the other. The NIV is not consistent in its translation at this point.

The KJV translates it thus: "Therefore as by the offense 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." The words "free gift" are not in the Greek. The translators have drawn conclusions, though accurate ones, but I believe this too does injustice to the text by not letting it say what it says. Also, if the free gift simply came upon all people, then it does not mean that it resulted, and the apparent problem of all people being justified is taken care of. Unfortunately, that isn't what the Greek says.

I believe some translators of the Bible, when coming across this verse, realize the problem of saying the atonement resulted in justification to all men. They assume the "all" means every individual and then translate the scripture in light of their theology to allow harmony with their interpretations of the rest of the scriptures. I think that is a mistake. Translators should translate the text as accurately as possible, even if it conflicts with their theology.

In these three verses it is clear that God has used the word "all" differently than what would normally be expected. This is an indication that God has intended for the "all" to be saved, and they are. When God is thinking of the "all" He is thinking of a specific group. These three verses bare that out. But, what about other verses that have a universal flavor to them?