Contrast Between Adam and Christ: Romans 5:15-17
“15) But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16) The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17) For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Romans‬ ‭5:15-17‬
Paul now makes a crucial comparison between Adam and Christ. He starts both verses 15 and 16 by saying that the free gift through Christ is not like the transgression that came through Adam. They are similar in that Adam’s transgression affected the whole human race, just like Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. (See John 3:16 and 1 John 2:2) They are different in that death spread to all people through Adam’s transgression, but the free gift of salvation is only applied to believers. Justification is by personal faith in Jesus Christ through the Gospel. Romans 5:17 amplifies this point when Paul said; “… much more those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
I recognize there is disagreement from strict Calvinists on this point, especially if they hold to the concept of the limited atonement of Christ. With circular reasoning they argue that Christ died only for the elect, because in the end His atonement will only be applied to the elect.
Though there is some merit to the final point, I would say that Romans and the whole Bible consistently teaches that Jesus died for the whole world, and salvation is reckoned only to those who are justified by faith. This is the thrust of the book of Romans through chapter eight. Looking back, we will discover that those justified by faith were the elect, but looking forward is much more difficult to identify them. I have met many among the frozen chosen who show no evidence of conversion. By the way, I consider myself a biblically balanced Calvinist. I agree with much of what Calvinism teaches but I am not dogmatic.
I find no value in arguing these points. It is much more productive to simply preach the Word than it is to argue theology. Our call is to preach the gospel to a lost and dying world while trusting the Holy Spirit to convert those Whom Jesus is calling to Himself. This call has never been more urgent or needed than today. God’s people need to carry the good news of the gospel courageously into the world and our culture today. The Great Commission is as binding today as in any time of church history.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global