This, then, is original sin; or, the offense that Paul will continually bring up throughout this passage.  But he brings up the offense for the distinct purpose of contrasting it with the free gift.  This begins in verse 15, where he begins to explain that there are similarities, yet strong differences, between the offense and the free gift.  Both operate under the principle of federal headship; Adam, the head of all his posterity, to whom his guilt is imputed; Christ, the Head of all His elect, to whom His righteousness is imputed.  The great difference is that one headship results in condemnation, while the other results in justification and life.


This is the great contrast which Paul begins to describe in verse 15.  He first states that through the offense of one, many are dead.  Reading the passage carefully, with all that follows it, it becomes abundantly clear that he is showing how Adam and Christ represent two groups of people.  Adam represents all of his posterity, who partake of the guilt of his first sin, and also of the sinful nature which came upon him as a consequence of tasting the forbidden fruit.  Through this offense, “many” are dead.  Paul seems to use the words “many” and “all” interchangeably in this section, to describe the two collections of individuals under each particular headship, Adam’s and Christ’s.  Many—in fact, all of his natural descendants—died in Adam, the sentence of guilt and death being passed upon them.  They come into the world dead in trespasses and sins, and children of wrath, and are also subject to the penalty of bodily death, from which none save Enoch and Elijah have escaped.