A lot of Christians don’t believe Romans 5:18-21. Of course, they won’t come right out
and say that, but it is true. Ask almost any Christian these two questions and their
answers will contradict that passage:
1. How many people were affected by the fall and wound up under the bondage of sin?
2. How many people will be made righteous, receiving justification through God’s free
Christians will almost always answer “all” for the first question; but for the second question,
almost every Christian will answer, “Only those who believe in the death, burial and resurrection
of Christ.” What this means is that almost every Christian rejects the idea that grace will
abound more than sin did, that all men will come unto justification of life and that the same
“many” who were made sinners through Adam will be made righteous through Christ.
I will address this passage in depth, starting with the logical conclusion of just Romans 5:19
when taken completely out of context, and finishing up with the conclusion of the entire
First, let me share with you a little bit of logic terminology. A syllogism is a type of logical
argument that infers a conclusion by two premises. There are certain terms for the different
kinds of statements that are found in syllogisms. I will share the forms of statements and their
All A’s are B’s:
A Universal Affirmative Statement
No A’s are B’s:
A Universal Negative Statement
Some A’s are B’s:
A Particular Affirmative Statement
Some A’s are not B’s:
A Particular Negative Statement
The word “many” is a form of “some” in that it speaks of a large amount, but does not negate
the possibility of all. We should note that particular affirmatives only work to prove their own
validity and the invalidity of universal negatives, and do not address the truth or falsity of any
of the other forms of statements.
More clearly; the affirmative types of statements never disprove the other affirmative. (The
statement “all A’s are B’s” does not disprove that “some A’s are B’s” and the other way around.)
The negative types never disprove each other either. (The statement “no A’s are B’s” does not
disprove that “some A’s are not B’s” and the other way around.)
The two universal statements work to disprove each other, however the two particular
statements do not. (If all A’s are B’s, then the statement “No A’s are B’s” is untrue, however if
some A’s are B’s; the statement “some A’s are not B’s” may still be true.)
The universal statements work to disprove the opposite particular and the other way around.
(If all A’s are B’s, then it is untrue that some A’s are not B’s and the other way around.)
Consider the following statement:
“Just as many X’s are Y’s, so many X’s are Z’s.”
Obviously this isn’t a Bible verse, just a simple statement that I made to display a point. It is
not important that any part of this statement be accepted or rejected by you as actual truth;
but for the sake of the example, briefly assume that the statement is as true as it would be had
it been found in the Bible.
In the first phrase we read the statement “many X’s are Y’s.” Stating that some X’s are Y’s does
not negate the possibility that all X’s are Y’s; however we must keep in mind that this statement
does NOT say nor imply “some X’s are not Y’s.” We must learn to take statements for exactly
what they say and not for what we think they imply. The statement “Many X’s are Y’s” does
not contradict the statement “All X’s are Y’s,” nor does it contradict the statement “some X’s
are not Y’s”; it simply does not address the validity or invalidity of either one.
In the second phrase we read “many X’s are Z’s.” Again, this statement does not deal with the validity of the statements “all X’s are Z’s” or “some X’s are not Z’s.” Therefore, being a
particular affirmative, the second phrase neither proves nor disproves universal affirmative
statements or particular negative statements about the same subject.
Now, drawing as much truth as we have learned out of these statements we can confidently
say the following:
No X’s are Y’s is untrue.
No X’s are Z’s is untrue.
Some X’s are Y’s is true.
Some X’s are Z’s is true.
Some X’s are not Z’s cannot be proved nor disproved.
All X’s are Z’s cannot be proved nor disproved.
All X’s are Y’s cannot be proved or disproved.
Some X’s are not Y’s cannot be proved or disproved.
What you have read thus far I have taught in order to make the understanding of Romans 5:19
easier. This verse is set up in the same form that we have just studied.
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one
shall many be made righteous.”
I have set up my example to be completely compatible with this verse. You may replace the
letter “X” in my example with the word “people” as it is to be the understood subject of both
phrases; you may replace the letter “Y” in my example with the word “sinners” and you may
replace the letter “Z” in my example with the word “righteous.”
As you can tell by replacing the appropriate letters with the appropriate words in the conclusion
of my example, taking this verse alone out of the Bible and teaching it as a message is a huge
risk because of how much context you are ignoring and because of how much it fails to
prove. Besides what we have already been told directly from the verse, we can only logically
deduce by this one verse that it is untrue that nobody is a sinner, and it is untrue that nobody
is made righteous. That’s it! That alone should show the importance of not taking a verse out
Fortunately though, we do have the context. We can read the verses around Romans 5:19
and easily come up with the universal affirmative that all men are made righteous. Yet when
partialists are called to this passage; it is verse 19 that they proclaim as the proof that the
context is a lie. Let’s look at this verse in light of the context.
The first question that anyone might ask is “Why would Paul say ‘all’ one second and then say
‘many’ the very next?”
1. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,
3. by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Thanks to Romans 3:23, we know how many were made sinners. ALL have sinned and come
short of the glory of God. As we know, a particular affirmative never negates the possibility
for a universal affirmative to be true. In this case, Paul was talking about a large group of
people. For some reason, some people believe that “all” people is not a large group and could
absolutely not be referred to as “many” by any means.
On the contrary, if I made ten sandwiches for a picnic and took all ten with me, some people
might say “Aaron took many sandwiches with him to the picnic.” Clearly we know that I took
all the sandwiches that I had made with me, but when taken out of context, the statement that
I took “many” sandwiches could confuse some people who are uninformed about the number
of sandwiches I made and took. The word “many” is purposed to address the enormity of the
specific group. In this case, I took a huge number of sandwiches on the picnic, and that huge
number was “all.”
So in part one of this sentence, since we are blessed with the context, we must admit that the
“many” people refers to “all” the people.
“So” is a word here that works to compare the two phrases. “So” means “in the same manner”
and weighs the first against the second resulting in an even scale. (Note: The scale of sin to
grace is shown in verses 20 and 21 to be eventually tipped in favor of grace by the amount
of time that grace reigns as opposed to the short time that sin reigns, but verse 19 only deals
with the measurement of the size of the group receiving sin to the size of the group receiving
Once again, we see the word “many” used when it has been said other times that “all” will
be saved, not just those who believe. The “many” in this second phrase of the sentence is
weighed against the “many” in the first phrase and is concluded to be the same group. In fact,
the verse that you just read before this one insists that the free gift came upon all men unto
justification of life because of Christ. So in one sentence we see Christ’s death justify all men,
but by the very next sentence we are debating whether or not that’s true.
The passage is perfectly clear even without this “many” sentence that grace did much more
abound than sin did. Sin abounded unto all until death, and grace abounds unto all forever.
God’s optimism is tough for some people to handle, but I accept it over man’s pessimism. I
Timothy 4:10 is also painful for some pessimists to read because it affirms the truth of Romans 5.
We see this same debate between Romans 5:12 and 5:15. Verse 12 says that death and sin
passed upon all men, but then verse 15 refers to that same group of all as “many.” It again
notes that grace abounds MUCH MORE to that same group of many. Accepting this passage as
truth is just a matter of believing that Christ’s gracious act was stronger than Adam’s sinful act.
Was Christ’s act weaker than Adam’s? Was it a last ditch effort or was it an infinitely wise plan
that was made by an infinitely wise God before the beginning of the world?
B I B L E S T U D E N T ’ S P R E S S ™
Study Shelf, PO Box 265, Windber, PA 15963
1-800-784-6010 / www.StudyShelf.com
Taken from the Bible Student’s Notebook™, a weekly Bible study publication available in two
formats (electronic and printed)