John Gills Exposition of the Bible Commentary

Verse 19 (Romans 5:19)

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners ,.... Agreeably to this the Jews say F7 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 97. 1. , that

"for the sin of the first man, all that are born of him, יהיו רשעים , "become wicked".'

This is the sum of what is said in the foregoing verses, that as by Adam's sin all his posterity are made sinners, and so are brought under a sentence of condemnation; in like manner by the obedience of Christ, all his seed are made righteous, and come under a sentence of justification of life: the persons made sinners are said to be "many", in opposition to the "one man", by whose disobedience they became so, and because there is an exception of one, even Jesus Christ; and mean all the natural descendants of Adam, who are many, and are so called, to answer to the subjects of justification in the next clause: what they are made sinners by, is "the disobedience of one man, Adam"; and by the first and single disobedience of his, in eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, by which they "were made sinners": the meaning of which is not, that they became sufferers for it, or subject to death on the account of it; the word used will not bear such a sense, but signifies men guilty of sin, and sometimes the worst and chief of sinners; besides, the apostle had expressed that before; add to this, that the sons of Adam could not be sufferers for his sin, or subject to death on account of it, if they were not made sinners by it, or involved in the guilt or it: and though the posterity of Adam are habitually sinners, that is, derive corrupt nature from Adam, yet this is not meant here; but that they are become guilty, through the imputation of his sin to them; for it is by the disobedience of another they are made sinners, which must be by the imputation of that disobedience to them; he sinned, and they sinned in him, when they had as yet no actual existence; which could be no other way, than by imputation, as he was reckoned and accounted their head and representative, and they reckoned and accounted in him, and so have sinned in him. This is also evident, from the sentence of condemnation and death passing upon all men for it; and even upon those, who had not actually sinned; to which may be added, that Adam's posterity are made sinners through his disobedience, in the same way as Christ's seed are made righteous by his obedience, which is by the imputation of it to them;

so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous ; not by their own obedience; nor by their own obedience and Christ's together; but by his sole and single obedience to the law of God: and the persons made righteous by it are not all the posterity of Adam, and yet not a few of them; but "many", even all the elect of God, and seed of Christ; these are all made righteous in the sight of God, are justified from all their sins, and entitled to eternal life and happiness.

- John Gills Exposition of the Bible Commentary