I am not a theologian but I love the book of Romans and have read many commentaries dealing with this wonderful book and I even preached many sermons on the basis of it, and I can honestly say that the commentary by Anders Nygren is the best I have ever read. The only problem is that to some people it might be too difficult to understand. In this case I recommend the webpage of another theologian by the name Jack Sequeira who shares the same ideas as A Nygren but uses language which is much easier to understand: [...]
Here is what J Sequeira wrote about Nygren's commentary:
"I would like to start by reading you a statement on Romans 5:12-21 made by a well known Bible scholar and great Swedish theologian, Anders Nygren the author of a wonderful volume, Agape and Eros: 'The best place to begin for an inclusive view of the meaning of Romans is the fifth chapter's comparison of Adam and Christ. This gives the key to the whole epistle. We have already labelled this passage the high point of Romans... When we attain to its height, all that precedes and all that follows spread out before us in one inclusive view, we see how part fits directly into part, how Paul's thought moves from step to step under its inherent compulsion. With this passage as our point of orientation, we can with surer understanding pursue the epistle from beginning to end.' I believe this man is making a correct statement! If you can understand this passage, I can assure you, you have understood the gospel and you have understood righteousness by faith! But having said that, I would like to add two statements. First, this is a very difficult passage. It will probably give you spiritual indigestion. It is difficult primarily because the thoughts that Paul presents here are in complete contradiction to the western mind. So you will have to remove your American caps and put on Jewish caps as we look at this passage."
What A Nygres sais in Romans 5:12-21 could be summerised in the following way: Paul tells us that when God created Adam He created whole world in him, and that's why also the Hebrew word 'Adam' means 'human kind'. Paul wants us to be aware of the fact that whatever Adam did (including his sin) we also did it in him and that we have to die mainly because we sinned in Adam. That however, does not mean we are guilty or responsible for his sin, no but we have to bear consequences of what we did in him including the nature we are born with, condemnation and death. But then Paul also tells us a wonderful good news, saying that in the same way as we were in Adam when he sinned and have to bear the consequences of what we did in him, likewise God also put us in Christ who is called the 'last Adam' (1Cor 15.45) or the last human kind. And everything what the second Adam did we did in him! It means that when Jesus perfectly obeyed the law in our representative flesh as second Adam then who obeyed the law in him? We! And finally, when Christ died on the cross tasting the second death, than who died in Him and with Him? There are many texts that prove it. Here is one of them: Romans 6:6 or 2Cor. 5. 14. One of the commentaries on 2Cor. 5.14 sais: "In taking Adam's place Christ became the head of the human race, and died on the cross as its representative. Thus, in a sense, when He died the entire race died with Him. As He represented all men, so His death stood for the death of all. In Him all men died. This does not, however, mean universal salvation, for each individual sinner must accept the atonement provided by the Saviour in order to make it effective" (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary). This truth about our perfect history and death in Christ is the key to understand Romans 6 and 7.6 where Paul says that we are free from the condemnation of the law. And, it is in this context also Romans 8:1 was written, where Paul says about our freedom in Christ. There is only one condition we need to fulfill in order to enjoy the freedom from condemnation: We have to accept the historic fact that we were in Christ when He lived a perfect life and when He died as us. That's it.