Paul began his comparison of Yeshua and Adam in verse 12.
Romans 5:12 (KJV)
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:
When Adam disobeyed the Word of God by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, sin entered into the world. With sin came death for all mankind. The last phrase of the verse says, "for that all have sinned."
Paul then continued.
Romans 5:13-14 (KJV)
(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
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.
Verses 13 through 17 in Romans form a parenthetical note that ties into verse 12 and helps in the understanding of the last phrase in verse 12. We will cover only verses 13 and 14 today.
Between the time of creation and the giving of the Torah to Moses and the people of Israel, sin was committed (verse 13). But since there was no law, sin could not be imputed to the sinner's account. This statement of Paul seems to contradict the case that he had outlined in the first chapters of Romans, where he had made an important argument about the guilt that all man had regarding sin. Did Romans 5:13 excuse those before the Torah? Obviously not, when we consider God's destruction of the world in the days of the Flood or of Sodom and Gomorrah, because of the wickedness of mankind. So, Paul was not saying that an individual who committed sin during this time was not punished or was not guilty of sin. He or she was subject only to the light of their consciences, not a specific law that demanded the death penalty.
Paul then said that in spite of sin not being imputed to sinners before the Torah, death reigned from Adam to Moses, (verse 14). Therefore, death, as something that comes to all humans, could not have come to those between Adam and Moses because of their own individual sin. Other examples of those who had not sinned in the similitude (or manner) of Adam, besides Paul's example, are unborn babies, or newborns, who have not committed any sin. They still die. Therefore, death resulted to the human race because of something else. Death had to have come only because of Adam's sin.
But this raises an issue since being penalized for someone else's sin runs counter to the principles in God's Word.
Ezekiel 18:20 (KJV)
The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
Deuteronomy 24:16 (KJV)
The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
Therefore, it is not possible that we are held accountable for Adam's sin. We don't inherit his guilt. This is the point Paul was trying to make. It is only a consequence of Adam's sin.
Finally, Paul introduced the main goal of this section of Scripture, to compare and contrast Adam with "the figure of him that was to come," meaning Yeshua. Stay tuned for next time.