Parallelisms of different sorts are used all throughout Scripture, but nobody used them better than the apostle Paul when he used them to explain what it is his Gospel really means (meaning, what the outcome of the Good News he proclaimed is).
|The First Man: Adam = Condemnation [mortality and sinfulness]
|The Second Man: Christ = Salvation [immortality and sinlessness]
|Therefore as… (Romans 5:18)
|by the offence of one
|by the righteousness of one
|judgement came upon
|the free gift came upon
|unto justification of life
|For as… (Romans 5:19)
|By one man’s disobedience
|by the obedience of one
|many were made
|shall many be made
|For as… (1 Corinthians 15:22)
|in Adam [because of what Adam did]
|in Christ [because of what Christ did]
|all die [all are mortal]
|shall all be made alive [shall all be made immortal]
The above chart breaks Paul’s parallelisms down into their respective parts in order to explain exactly how both humanity’s current condition and humanity’s future condition come to be. The way a parallelism works is that every person listed in Column A is also in Column B (“all,” or “many,” which in this case is referring to every human who ever lived and ever will live, aside from Jesus Himself, of course, are the same “all”/“many” in both columns).
It’s also important to note that there isn’t a single thing we ourselves do to place ourselves into either column. It’s entirely because of the action (disobedience) of one man (Adam), apart from anything we do ourselves, that all humanity exists within Column A, and even so (or “equally so”) it’s entirely because of the action (obedience) of one other man (Christ), also apart from anything we do ourselves, that all humanity will also eventually exist within Column B (“for as… even so…”). Likewise, just as “judgement came upon all men” without anything we did (again, it was by the offence of one that it came upon us all, not by any sin of our own), “the free gift came upon all men” without anything we did as well, and just as we didn’t have to do anything (we didn’t even have to choose to believe anything) for that judgement to affect us, we also don’t have to do anything (not even choose to believe anything) for the gift to affect us either.
Yes, there are things we can do — both sin and believe — that affect us within those columns, but neither of those actions place us into (or remove us from) either column. Instead, those actions take place because of the fact that we all experience both columns (albeit at different times in our lives). We aren’t ultimately condemned because we ourselves sin. Instead, we sin because we’ve already been placed in Column A, meaning we’ve already been condemned by the action of Adam (because Adam sinned he became mortal and passed that mortality on to all of his descendants, and so we ourselves now also sin because we’ve been made mortal, as Romans 5:12 tells us). Likewise, the salvation that belief brings doesn’t place us in Column B, but is, in fact, a whole other sort (or stage) of salvation from the salvation Christ won for us through His death for our sins, and His subsequent burial and resurrection on the third day. Belief brings a special (“specially”) salvation, one that brings us to our understanding and experience of salvation sooner than everyone else, but the ultimate salvation of Column B is still given to all, and entirely apart from our belief or anything else we ourselves do (please read this if you aren’t familiar with the different types and stages of salvation).
So, with all that in mind, please re-read the above chart carefully, and it should become clear that both our condemnation and our ultimate salvation are entirely because of what the first Adam and the last Adam did, and not because of anything we ourselves do (even though we can experience a “special” salvation now if we believe the above Good News of everyone’s eventual salvation).
And if you want even more proof, check out this even greater parallelism that Paul used in Colossians 1 to prove the reconciliation of any and all creation that requires it (not just all of humanity this time, but every sapient being who ever needed — or will need — reconciliation with God).
|For by Him… (Colossians 1:16)
|And by Him… (Colossians 1:20)
|were all things created
|to reconcile all things unto Himself (having made peace through the blood of His [Christ’s] cross), by Him…
|that are in heaven and that are in earth [whether angelic or human]
|whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven [whether human or angelic]
There are even more parallelisms throughout this passage, making it into an Extended Alternation if you read all the verses from 15 to 20 (and there’s actually an entire chiasm there if you extend your reading to all the verses from 13 to 22), but those are the most important ones to understand. Once again we notice that we ourselves did nothing to place ourselves within Column A (we didn’t create ourselves), and likewise there isn’t anything we can or will do to place ourselves within Column B either.
And it’s equally important to note that this parallelism includes spiritual (angelic) beings, referred to as those in heaven (the spiritual principalities and powers in verse 16, who are said to eventually be reconciled in verse 20, are the same spiritual wickedness in high places mentioned in Ephesians 6:12), and only spiritual beings who were estranged from God would need to be reconciled to Him, so that means even the “fallen angels,” so to speak, will eventually be reconciled to God. And if all the “fallen angels” will be reconciled, how much more so will all humanity be?