What does Romans 5:12 mean?
ESV: Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
NIV: Therefore, 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--
NASB: Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all mankind, because all sinned—
CSB: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.
NLT: When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.
KJV: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Verse Commentary:
Earlier, Paul explained that salvation on the basis of faith brings us peace with God. We can hope in Him, and trust Him, since He has so clearly shown His love for us (Romans 5:8). Paul begins a new section in this verse in which he will compare the work of Adam, as the representative of sinful humanity, with the work of Christ, on behalf of sinful humanity. This further explains the ideas of human sin, Christ's sacrifice, and our salvation, all of which have already been introduced in this letter.

Paul starts with Adam, though he is not mentioned by name for several verses. Paul states that sin came into the world through one man. This one man is Adam, the first man created from dust by God Himself (Genesis 1:27). God breathed life into Adam and placed him in the garden of Eden with only one restriction: Don't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15–17). Adam, along with his wife, Eve did exactly what they were told not to, and sin entered the world.

It's worth noting here that the term "world," in this context, is specifically a reference to humanity. Paul's discussion here is entirely focused on the relationship between human beings and God. Interpreters differ on whether or not this verse supports that all death—including that of animals—is implied in this statement.

What's clear from Paul's argument here is that death followed sin, as God said it would. First, God slaughtered an animal to provide clothing for Adam and Eve, suddenly made aware of their nakedness by their sin (Genesis 3:21). More than that, though, Adam and Eve were sent away from God and from the garden and began to die physically. They became mortal beings with a limited lifespan. Even worse, Adam and Eve passed on their sin to their offspring. Every person ever born in the world, other than Christ (Hebrews 4:15) was born sinful and destined to die. Sin always leads to death, as Paul will make clear in the following verses.

This was the tragic and seemingly inescapable result of Adam's first sin in the garden.
Verse Context:
Romans 5:12–21 compares the work of Adam with the work of Christ to show how sin and death came into the world, and how God made a way to escape them. Adam, specially created by God, became the first lawbreaker when he ate from the restricted tree. He brought sin and death to all who came after him. Jesus, hung on a tree—a phrase implying crucifixion—paid for our sin, making it possible for all who believe to reign with Him in eternal life.
Chapter Summary:
Romans 5 begins by describing some of the benefits that come with being declared righteous by God because of our faith in Christ. We have peace with God, and we stand in His grace. We rejoice both in the hope of God's glory and in our temporary suffering. We have hope that will not disappoint, because God has already proved His love for us. Paul then compares the work of Adam in bringing sin and death into the world with the work of Christ in dying for sin in order to offer God's free gift of grace to all who believe.
Chapter Context:
After proving that all men are guilty of sin and incapable of earning salvation, Paul explained how faith—not works—is the means by which God declares us righteous. Romans 5 begins with a powerful, joyful revelation of all that comes with being justified in God's eyes by our faith in Christ. We have peace with God. We stand in God's grace. We have hope for eternal glory and meaning in our current suffering. God has proven His love for us in the death of Christ for our sin while we were still sinners. Adam introduced sin and death to the world, and they continue. Christ, though, by dying for our sin brought God's grace to all who believe. The next chapter begins by refuting a common misconception about salvation by grace through faith.
Book Summary:
The book of Romans is the New Testament's longest, most structured, and most detailed description of Christian theology. Paul lays out the core of the gospel message: salvation by grace alone through faith alone. His intent is to explain the good news of Jesus Christ in accurate and clear terms. As part of this effort, Paul addresses the conflicts between law and grace, between Jews and Gentiles, and between sin and righteousness. As is common in his writing, Paul closes out his letter with a series of practical applications.
Accessed 11/30/2023 5:12:22 AM
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