What does Romans 5:12 Mean?


What does Romans 5:12 Mean?
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom 5:12).
Does this verse mean that we “sinned in Adam” as the Latin Vulgate mistranslated? No, because verse 14 says that our sin distinct from Adam’s sin.
Rom 5:14 – Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.


In between Adam and Moses there was no Ten Commandments, so those who were sinning were not violating a directly expressed command as Adam had done. Nevertheless death continued to spread because they were sinning against the law of God written upon their human nature – their conscience that Romans 2:14-15 speaks about:


“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” Rom 2:14-15


If Romans 5:12 is not saying that we sinned in Adam, what is it saying?

This verse is easily understood by way of analogy:
“Mary started giving hugs in Sunday School, and the flu was transmitted through hugs, and so the flu spread to all the kids in Sunday school because they all hugged.”
Analogy: The flu spread to everyone because everyone hugged each other.
Scripture: Death spread to everyone because everyone sinned.
Analogy: One person brought the flu to Sunday School but it was spread by everyones individual hugging.
Scripture: One person brought death into the world but it was spread by everyones individual sinning.
And so Adam brought sin into the world, and death by sin, and then death spread to all men because all men sinned.
This death I understand to be spiritual death, or separation from God through personal sinning, as physical death comes upon infants even before they have a chance to personally sin. We die physically because of Adam’s sin but we are spiritually dead in our own trespasses and sins.
So you are born spiritually alive (as no personal sin yet separates you from God), then spiritually die through sinning, so the death Adam brought into the world continues to spread through our individual sinning.
Notice the Bible says that YOUR iniquities separate you from God and you were dead in YOUR trespasses and sins.
Isa 59:2 – But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Rom 7:9 – For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
Col 2:13 – And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Luk 15:24 – For this my son was dead, and is alive again (alive for the second time).

The spiritual death that Adam brought into the world has spread to all men because of their own personal individual sinning. As the Apostle Paul said, “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom 5:12).



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3 Responses to What does Romans 5:12 Mean?

  1. Van Berkbigler says:

    My friend says the Greek verb form for “all have sinned” in Romans 5:12 means an action happing in the past and no longer continuing, thus it can only mean Adam’s sin, therefore we are born sinners period. I need an explanation refuting why the Greek verb form here does not mean we all sinned in Adam.

    • Yes it is past tense but it is talking about the people who sinned in between Adam and Moses, see verse 14. Those between Adam and Moses already sinned by the time Paul penned verse 12.

    • You’ll notice that verse 14 says “sinned” just like verse 12 says “sinned,” speaking of those in the time period between Adam and Moses before the Ten Commandments were given – men who sinned against the law written on human nature.

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