7 February 2014

Romans 5:12-21

“Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.” (v. 18)


In today's passage, Paul explains our flawed human predicament and how God rescues us. He uses the image of our participation in disobedient Adam's sin and how that spread, contaminating all humanity. He then uses the image of participation in the grace of the obedient Jesus Christ and how that multiplies out giving us eternal life.

In the story of God making the world, the perfect creation was spoiled because of the first man, Adam's sin. Adam wanted to have the gift of knowledge of good and evil, to be able to make judgements like God about who was right and who was wrong, who was in, who was out. But this was a knowledge that only God could have, so God threw Adam out of paradise to labour, and to suffer the effects of the divisiveness and the strife of sin. Paul recalls this story and explains that through Adam's disobedience all humans had inherited death, a metaphor for a stunted, disfigured life, not being the people we were created to be. This is the case even though not all sins are the same as Adam's sin. In any case with the law, the ways of participating in sin and a death like life had multiplied.

However, through one man's act of righteousness, and the abundance of grace (God's healing love) we are made righteous and restored to being the people God created us to be. By being human we participated in Adam, and because of Jesus' humanity, we participate in Christ to be restored to right relationship with God. God's grace was a grace upon grace and through that grace, we have the power to enjoy, not death, but eternal life.

To Ponder

  • In what ways do you recognise that you participate in the sins of the world, and with others are responsible for destroying the harmony of creation?
  • In what ways do you recognise that faith in Jesus Christ has enabled you to participate in bringing God's ways of life to the world?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jenny Ellis

Jenny is a Methodist minister and this year has permission to study, as well as work alongside a rural chapel to help it find a new physical presence and sense of mission in its village. She is leading a number of quiet and study days.