In Romans 5, Paul quite redundantly compares Adam and Christ. Verse 19 sums it up: For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. This duality of one to many, or one to all, shows up over and over. In fact, those 3 words show up 20 times in just 8 verses. The repetition makes for cumbersome reading, but it gets Paul’s emphasis across loudly and clearly. Adam, one man, did something that affected all. Jesus, one man, did something that affected all.
What I read in the redundancy and repetition is the power of just one person. Obviously, Jesus is no ordinary “person” through whom God works. But, still, Paul emphasizes that with just one man, God “brings life for all men” (v.18). Alternately, “sin entered the world through one man,” Adam (v.12).
The idea that one person could so drastically effect the rest of humanity is awe-inspiring…and terrifying. I’m not sure I want that much responsibility. It’s kind of like my seminary professor who said he wasn’t sure he wanted God to call him God’s servant, “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” That didn’t work out so well for Job.
Humanity doesn’t need another fall man like Adam, or another savior like Jesus, so I don’t think any one person will ever have as much influence as they do. But Paul’s insistence on how one person can affect many haunts me.
How many people could I positively influence if I fully surrendered to God?
How many people could I negatively influence if I lived for myself?