But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. -Romans 5:15

Paul differentiates between the two types of Graces. What's the difference between the two? How do the differences between the graces work together to benefit our salvation?

I prefer the question to focus more on the mechanics of soteriology as opposed to theology as it seems a sound hermeneutical response should accommodate multiple theologies.

  • 1
    If words are supposed to convey truth, how can one set of words convey 'multiple theologies' ?
    – Nigel J
    Oct 28, 2021 at 9:41
  • 1
    Because some people decide the simple words can mean different things?
    – Steve
    Oct 28, 2021 at 10:23
  • @Nijelj, it's not that one set of words conveys multiple theologies, but that the words are true regardless of theology.
    – Austin
    Oct 28, 2021 at 15:07

6 Answers 6


"Paul differentiates between the two types of Graces" - no, he does not. In literary theory this form of expression is called hendiadys, that is to say, one notion expressed by two words, or one thing in two expressions. For instance, if I say: "Instrumental to victory of the FC Manchester United over the FC Arsenal was the strategy adopted by Alex Ferguson and that singularly clever strategy that all team of the Manchester followed throughout the match". In this sentence the "strategy of Ferguson" and the "strategy followed by all team" is one and the same strategy. Just like in the Pauline passage the grace of God and the free gift of grace of Christ is one and the same grace.

It is impossible otherwise, for the Father is ontologically unable to bypass His Son in vouchsafing any of His (Father's) operation (this operation called "grace" by a less technically theological language) upon people. For all operations of the Father are conducted through the Son, and after incarnation of the Latter, through the God-man Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 1:20).

One salvific grace of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, not two salvific graces.

  • +1 I'm thoroughly impressed by your willingness to acquiesce to my request. Solid answer, ontological language aside. Speaking of which, why do you think 2 Cor. 1:20 necessarily implies ontological necessity as opposed to simply God's sovereign choice to design all solutions to prophetic promises to find their answer in the manifest Messiah.
    – Austin
    Jun 7, 2022 at 0:55
  • @Austin It is not a choice of the eternal Father to give birth to the Son/Logos eternally, but since He is Father eternally and necessarily, accordingly He necessarily and eternally has His Son. Jun 7, 2022 at 21:20
  • I'm not familiar with any scripture that necessarily means that God could not have existed without always having had a son or was always the Father of someone. But even if that's true why does him eternally being the Father of Jesus remove his sovereign choice to design all prophecies such that they are fulfilled through the son?
    – Austin
    Jun 8, 2022 at 0:23
  • @Austin To say that God was not Father and then He chose to become one by giving birth to His Logos/Son who did not exist before (this happening in Eternity), and then created the temporal world through this Logos, amounts to absurdity that in eternity there was change and time. Jun 8, 2022 at 5:08

There can be no "versus" in this matter, as if the grace of God was somehow in opposition to the grace of Christ. This can better be grasped once a clear understanding of what the grace of God is. One Christian writer has defined it like this:

"Grace is God coming down to move people to places of well-being." Charles Strohmer, "Explaining the Grace of God" p11 (Sovereign World, 1993)

Examples are given, such as with Noah, who "found grace in the eyes of the Lord" via the Ark (Genesis 6:8). God uses various means to effect his gracious provisions, such as by sending two angels to rush Lot and his family out of Sodom (Genesis 19:1-29). Strohmer notes this important point:

"Most modern English translations of the Bible render the Hebrew word chen as 'favour' rather than 'grace'... The King James Version usually renders chen as 'grace' which is more to the point here... As a kind of universal human concept, 'favour' may be thought of as being in some way earned through merit or behaviour. Yet the favour of God that is 'grace' is different than all such human manifestations of favour, for the grace of God is utterly beyond the resources and power of man to earn, deserve or purchase." (Ibid., p12)

This is where soteriology comes in - the doctrine of salvation. I quote now from a section in the book below dealing with grace and salvation:

"...evangelical Arminians, Lutherans, and Calvinists agree that human beings, born in sin, are incapable of any movement toward God apart from grace. However, Lutheran and Reformed confessions teach that God not only gives sufficient grace for us to cooperate towards our own rebirth but actually grants the new birth and faith prior to any human decision or activity. In other words, our rebirth is monergistic (one working, namely God) rather than synergistic (cooperation). With respect to the doctrine of salvation (soteriology), it is this single point that most decisively distinguishes the churches of the Reformation from all other traditions.

Key Distinctions: monergism/synergism - Monergism ('one working') holds that God saves sinners without their assistance, while synergism ('working together') teaches that salvation depends on our cooperation. In all of its varieties, synergism teaches that God's grace makes everything possible, but our response makes everything actual. However, monergism teaches that God's grace accomplishes everything, even granting us repentance and faith." Pilgrim Theology, Michael Horton, pp250-251 (Zondervan, 2011)

Finally (though this might best have been the starting point) there is no 'versus' God's grace and the grace of Christ if the Son of God is equally God, as is the Father. It is one and the same grace, decreed by the Father and worked out through Christ as the means, and the gracious operations of the Holy Spirit in applying that to individuals: one God at work regarding his sovereign grace. There is no multiplicity of graces any more than there is a multiplicity of doctrines associated with salvation in the scriptures. Humans have many differing ideas and theologies, but the scriptures uniformly proclaim the one grace of salvation under but one theology. That is why I prefer the KJV rendition of Romans 5:15 -

"For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many."

The emphasis is between 'that of the one offence' and 'that of the one humanity'. There is only one humanity observed in Romans 5:15. (Which does not bear the meaning 'man' as addressed to Jesus Christ, but 'humanity' that is to say nature, not personal individuality). Aner is the Greek word for an individual male human. Anthropos should usually be translated 'humanity'.


There is only one type of grace - the free type that originates with the love of God for sinners.

All that Rom 5:15 discusses is the mechanism by which that free grace is extended to sinners: God's grace extended the free gift of God's Son Jesus, resulting in eternal life to sinners because of the sacrifice of Jesus. Romans 5 makes this point repeatedly.

  • V15 - the gift [of God's Son and His sacrifice] came by grace resulting in grace to all people
  • V16 - the gift [of God's Son and His sacrifice] brings justification
  • V17 - death came via one man, Adam, but eternal life come through one man Jesus Christ
  • V18 - the trespass of one man (Adam) brought condemnation, one act of righteousness (the sacrifice of Jesus) brought justification for all men.
  • V19 - the disobedience of one man (Adam) made all men sinners, the obedience of one man (Jesus) made many righteous.

Ellicott sums this up succinctly:

The grace of God, and the gift by grace.—The grace of God is the moving cause, its result is the gift (of righteousness, Romans 5:17) imputed by His gracious act to the many.


John 1:

17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Grace is personified in Jesus Christ. Further, it is unified in the Father and Son, 2 John 1:

3 Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.

Paul echoes this concept in many places.

Philemon 1:

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

1 Corinthians 1:

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 1:

2 To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.

In this verse, Paul logically equates these two graces as the same.

OP: Paul differentiates between the two types of Graces.

It's not a differentiation. It's a logical equivalence.

What's the difference between the two?

The wordings are different. The concept is the same.

How do the differences between the graces work together to benefit our salvation?

Good question. The differences in wordings shows the mystery of this salvation: God is the author of this work and God is the end of this work.


But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. Romans 5:15

God has a documented history, readily available and understandable, that shows -

  • He is the source of ALL things.
  • Quite often, others deliver His gifts, directions, word, miracles, food, etc.

Here we see that God is the ultimate and only source of grace and it is delivered, understood, and experienced through Jesus.

the free gift by the grace of that one man.

The gift is what Jesus accomplished by dying. God is the source, Jesus provided the the actuality of the gift - a grace that is only recognised and verified by an action. It's no point simply talking about God being "gracious" unless we see evidence of it. Jesus' life, and death (and life again) is the main evidence.

Only by God's grace was the sacrifice of any value.

Much is thought that Jesus, as a man only (as the verse aptly notes) could not atone for all sin. Not that this comes from the bible at all - it does not. But without the foundation of God's grace, the sacrifice would be pointless. Through God's grace, it takes on a meaning of awesome proportions where a man indeed is enough - the perfect unblemished Lamb, practised and observed by generations for centuries by God's people offering unblemished animals, is realised by this man born without sin and remaining holy to his death.

There could be no salvation without God's grace and no salvation without Jesus' death to facilitate God's grace - they implicitly needed each other for this audacious plan to work!


The grace of God vs the Grace of the One Man Jesus Christ (Rom 5:15)

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. -Romans 5:15

Most of our English translations render the verse as above, differentiating Paul's words into two types of Graces. The four Bibles below do not differentiate and render the verse that it is God's free gift of forgiveness through Christ. The contrast is between the course of the life of the two men.

Romans 5:15 GNT

15 But the two are not the same, because God's free gift is not like Adam's sin. It is true that many people died because of the sin of that one man. But God's grace is much greater, and so is his free gift to so many people through the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:15 NLT

But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:15 CEV

15 But the gift that God was kind enough to give was very different from Adam’s sin. That one sin brought death to many others. Yet in an even greater way, Jesus Christ alone brought God’s gift of kindness to many people.

Romans 5:15 NWT

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by one man’s trespass many died, how much more did the undeserved kindness of God and his free gift by the undeserved kindness of the one man,+ Jesus Christ, abound* too many!+

The contrast is in the course of the life of the two perfect men, Adam and Jesus , led to different results. Adam brought death to himself and his descendants, Jesus course on the other hand brought an opposite result, Paul wrote;

Romans 8:16,18 KJV Emphasis [Adam] and [from God] entered in verses are mine

16 And not as it was by one [Adam] that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.18 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift [from God] came upon all men unto justification of life.

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