Romans 5:12-21 an Exegetical Investigation

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Theology (Th.M)


Exegetical Theology

First Advisor

Hans Bayer


In Romans 5:12-21 Paul uses a comparison between Adam and Christ to explain three facets of the gospel: First, the effect and reach of sin; secondly, the effect and reach of the righteousness of Christ; thirdly, the effect and reach of grace. This project is an exegetical investigation into the theological import of these three aspects.

The method to be used is a literary survey using traditions of translation combined with a detailed exegetical treatment of the text. The traditions of translation to be considered are key figures and positions from the period of the ante Nicean and Nicean Fathers, the Reformation, the Enlightenment and then moving to contemporary theology with the New Perspective and Conservative Evangelicals. For the exegetical section of this project the presupposition of the writer is that the Bible is true, indeed the Scriptures are inspired by God and as such the whole collection of the word of God can be used in order to understand one passage more clearly. This is a redemptive historical methodology.

The specific issues of the text that need to be examined are fivefold: (l) the use ’εφὦ in 5: 12, included in this is the manner of the transfer of sin to the progeny of Adam, (2) the extent and reach of all and many throughout the passage, (3) the nature of the obedience of Christ in 5:18-19, (4) the meaning of καθἰστημι in 5:19 and finally (5) the relationship between law and grace in 5:20.

The project shows that there is an interpretive tradition from Tertullian to Augustine to Anselm and the Reformers up to contemporary evangelicals that holds to three aspects of the text. 1) The sin of Adam is far reaching to affect everyone and in fact everyone has sinned. 2) Christ died to save His people and He is able to make believers righteous. 3) Grace enables the Christian to reign in life through Jesus Christ the Lord. The exegetical treatment of the text also affirms these three things as true.

This project has opened up areas of further study that cannot be treated here. First space constrains a more detailed literary review encompassing even wider opinions and interpretive traditions. Secondly, I would like to study Paul's use of the future passive verb καθἰστημι in association with other future forms of righteousness verbs other texts and epistles. Lastly, there needs to be a more detailed consideration between relationship between the law and grace in the last few verses of the passage.


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