The NIV (and other translations as well) has added a subtitle at the beginning of this section which says “Death Through Adam; Life Through Christ”. To the editors of the NIv I have two things to say to that subtitle: First, “Amen.” Second, “Why would you place a subtitle immediately before a section that begins with the word ‘therefore’?”
As I have pointed out so many times, the word “therefore” is used to draw a conclusion from the preceding passage, and that means what came just before “therefore” and what comes right after “therefore” go together; they are not separate. In defense of the NIV editors, many theologians over the centuries have read 5:1-11 and 12-21 as two different sections as well in total disregard of the rules of interpretation, rules they would apply anywhere else. Go figure?
I point this out because if we get that point, 12-21 gets much easier to follow. You see, these verses are about the supremacy of the sacrifice of Christ, not about the mechanics of sin; sin is defeated, as is death and the Devil. Here’s another way of saying the same thing: Adam screwed up; he was the first man to screw up. Later on, I screwed up too. Yikes, I have trouble with God because I screwed up. God sent His Son to sacrifice so I could get right with God. I accepted His grace through faith, and now I’m OK with God again. I am happy about that.
See? That wasn’t so bad…
Verses 1-11 tell of our assurance of salvation because of God’s amazing love and the grace that He offered to us. Verses 12-21 give us the assurance that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is more than enough to pay the price for our sins because that all-sufficient sacrifice has utterly defeated sin, death, condemnation and Satan.
I don’t see any particular reason to read something else into this passage, do you?