Romans 5:12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

13To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

18Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

The term "one man" appears 9 times in Roman 5. Is there a significance?

3 Answers 3


I would say that the emphasis is the matter of headship : representation and progeny.

'The one humanity' (it is anthropos, humanity, not aner, an identified individual) refers either to the first humanity, for example verse twelve, or to Jesus Christ, verse fifteen.

Jesus Christ is the second humanity :

... the first humanity out of earth, made of dust ; the second humanity the Lord out of heaven [Englishman's Greek New Testament literal]

The actions of the head follow down to the members under that head. The progeny are counted as the seed of the head and are treated in respect of the head.

Throughout the passage, Paul contrasts two humanities and views the head of each humanity as to the behaviour of that head.

By the end of the passage it can be seen that the two humanities are utterly different. And the result of their respective existences demonstrates an absolute contrast as to consequences.

  • Good answer - Jesus was the second Adam, but without sin. +1.
    – Dottard
    Jan 20, 2021 at 22:49

The term 'one man' appears so many times is an effort to emphasise the pivotal turns humanity took at the response of a representative man to God.

One man who faltered at a simple deception and committed all who descended from him to be smitten with the corruption of sin and estrangement from God.

The other man, who also began without sin, who also had his own will which sometimes differed from the Father, but was always brought into subjection - not of his own will and power alone, but by the presence of God in him, and his willing, humble obedience that was gained from suffering, making him perfect for the task ahead - to be the one perfect sacrifice for all. Thus reuniting all mankind with their creator again - eternally.

One Adam, the second and last Adam, undid the trouble the first Adam had begun. Both were sons of God.

Luke 3:38 The son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

This is a profound mark of Godly wisdom, love, authority and sovereignty that He would address the impending doom of the first Adam, with a second - not with brute force of a God/man, but a human who could be tempted, who could sin, who could not win against evil on his own, but only in submission to holiness and good and live in the power of God's spirit to bring about the victory that counted.

Through death, he accomplished what the first Adam never could.

Heb 2:14 by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death

Jesus is said to be slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8) showing that the second Adam was always the plan.

One man succumbed to evil, the other man did not. God needed the man Jesus to do this, and Jesus needed his God to succeed.

Paul in Rom 5 has taken up the challenge to express quite firmly the manner by which God has and would construct salvation and the resultant eternal life - by a man! One man intended to usher in a life of sin and pain and death. By experiencing the horrors of such a choice, mankind would be able, with God's grace and the other man, Jesus, and his holy sacrifice, be able to enter eternity without a chance of choosing sin ever again.

Rom 5:17 points out the importance of sins invincible opponent - grace, and how the grace of God will always trump sin - as if we might think they were somehow equal, Paul assures us otherwise! The grace delivered through the man Jesus, was more than sufficient to trump sin of all for all time.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God

Hebrews 9:15 Therefore Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, now that He has died to redeem them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.


The repetition of “one man” leads me to think about the many similarities and differences between these two men, Adam and Jesus. Reading this passage this time, what stands out is the word “man” or the fact that they were both human and subject to such limitations as hunger, in its many forms, and temptation, in its many disguises:

  • So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. (Gen 3:6)
  • Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. (Mt 4: 8)

The response of each man to the voice of temptation was the complete opposite of the other. Each man was in their own way the first, but the impact of his choice left an indelible mark on and set a precedent for all who followed:

  • For just 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. (Rm 5:19)

Pondering the numerous repetitions of “one man” also makes me think about the enormous impact, for good or evil, that one person can make and of the long reaching ripples and repercussions that one person’s choices can leave on the lives of others. Was this the author’s intention? In the next passage, he begins with the question, “What then are we to say?” (Rm 6:1) It is for each person to say which man or which example he or she chooses to follow.

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