Who is the “them” of Romans 5:14?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Brother Shawn, who were the people ‘who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression’ in Romans 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.’”

Who are the “them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression?” In the context, it would be the people who lived between the time of Adam and the time of Moses, roughly 2500 years. That would be Genesis chapter 5 onward until the book of Exodus, when the Law was given at Sinai.

Those people did not actually partake of forbidden fruit (Adam did that), but they had—like Adam—fallen short of God’s standard of righteousness (Romans 3:23—“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”). Thus, sin and death affected them the same way it affected Adam, for they were Adam’s descendants (Romans 5:12—“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”).

The Law given to Moses was the first time that code of God’s righteousness (that condemned mankind as sinful) was systemized, written in the tables of stone, for people to actually see and hold in their hands (Exodus 31:18; Exodus 34:4). Prior to that, God’s laws were only known to people via their invisible conscience, according to Romans 2:14-15: “[14] 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: [15] 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;)”

Also see:
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?
» Did Adam die a saved man?
» Could you please explain Romans 2:14?