Romans 5:12-21


The Seeker writes Romans 5:12-21 on a white board / butcher paper in a manner that might be helpful for thought and discussion. Here is an example of a chiasm and how one might parse the passage:

A. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned

B. for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

C. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.

D. But the free gift is not like the transgression.

E. 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.

F. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned;

X for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation,

F'. but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.

E'. 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.

D'. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

C'. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

B'. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

A'. so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:12-21)


Paul was a Jew, a Roman citizen, and was trained as a Pharisee by the Rabbi Gamaliel the Elder (Acts 22:3; Gal 1:14). Because Acts 13-26 is devoted to Paul's mission work and as author of 13 epistles, Paul is one of the most important interpreter of Jesus Christ's teaching on faith and practice. Romans is the longest and most theological letter of all of his epistles. Paul was particularly sensitive to the relationship between Jewish and Gentile Believers, and he touches upon this subject in other epistles in addition to Romans.

Instructed to bear witness in Rome (Acts 23:11), Paul would never have the opportunity to visit the church of Rome. Instead, he was manacled, guarded and under house arrest where he engaged Jewish leaders of Rome and any who visited him.


Using a lexicon, the Geek might study some Greek words in this passage.

Sin – Both Greek and Hebrew words behind the translation "sin" portray the image of "missing the mark." When considering the phrase "sons of disobedience" (Eph 2:2; 5:6; Col 3:6), sin can be understood more concretely as disobeying God's word (i.e. disobeying the Bible).

Transgression – offense against a moral code.

Law – the Law of Moses / Mosaic Covenant

Imputed – charging on someone's account other than the one who caused the charge.

Grace – receiving something you did not deserve.

Righteous – This is a moral qualification: holy and upright in accordance to God's standard.


The church in Rome, comprised of both Jewish and Gentile Believers, was not founded by Paul. Paul's account of the gospel and reasoned logic for faith was written in Corinth during his third missionary journey and intended to prepare the Roman church for his coming visit. At this time, Paul's missionary travels occurred under the reign of Claudius, who had expelled the Jews from Rome about 15 years earlier.


By the time Paul converted to Christianity, Jews of all political parties (i.e. Pharisees and Sadducees) vehemently opposed him. And Paul writes of "a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me," in reference to people who followed and opposed him to refute his gospel message (2 Cor 12:7-10).

Syncretism describes Rome's pagan religion which was largely influenced by Greek mythology. During the first century, an imperial ruler cult developed, in which the emperor Claudius was deified. Although its purpose was political, it did call for emperor worship.


While each is presenting their findings, each should feel free to write on the Bible passage on the white board / butcher paper. If anyone has a question, save it for the end of the presentation. With the Seeker moderating, each question can be discussed. This may lead to further study in the following weeks, and everyone changes roles. Some sample questions may include:

What is the chiasm's emphasis?

How does the imputation of Adam’s sin square with the Bible speaking of each man being responsible for his own sin (Deut 24:16; Ezek 18:20)?

How does this relate to our sin nature?

How many classes of sins are there?

With this form of study, you'll be building blocks of knowledge. In time, you'll be able to integrate these blocks and build a more thorough understanding of theology. You'll also learn how each book of the Bible is related to each other and its relationship to ancient history!