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Romans 5:19 – All mankind = the many 

30-01-2021 - Posted by Andre Piet

For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just.

Paul wrote twice about “all mankind” in verse 18, and twice in this verse about “the many.” That is of course no contradiction, because all people are many. In Paul’s day, the world was likely to number some 200 million people and today nearly 40 times that!

All people” means everyone, no one excepted, while “the many” refers to the great number. By the way, Paul does not write, as some translations say, “many”, but “the many.” I.e. the group has been determined and is assumed to be known. Which “many”? “The many,” that is, what was spoken of in the preceding verse. So “all mankind”. Paul does not contrast between “all” and “many”, but between “one” and “all mankind” or between “one” and “the many”.

The point of this whole passage is that the fate of mankind (“all mankind”, “the many”) is absolutely determined by two times one act (resp. “One offense” and “one just award”) and twice “one man”. Humanity is completely passive in this and has nothing to choose.