The claim has been made by the JW leadership (and some others) that Jesus paid the price for Adam's sin, but that the ransom sacrifice does not cover Adam himself. (This is actually self-contradictory.) The truth is that mankind is under the same exact condemnation that was upon Adam. "the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation." (Romans 5:16, New American Standard - NAS) "Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men." -- Romans 5:18, NAS.
Jesus died to pay the condemnation that was upon Adam. If that condemnation was such that no ransom could be provided, then all of mankind is under that same condemnation, and thus there could be no ransom for anyone under that condemnation. The condemnation for which no ransom is provided (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-29; 1 John 5:16,17) is spoken of in Revelation as the "second death". (Revelation 2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8) Are we to suppose that Adam is under the condemnation of the second death, whereas his descendants are under another condemnation? If so, then there could be no single ransom sacrifice, since each individual sinner would need another sinless human to pay the price for their sin.
It is only in the fact that there is one condemnation for Adam and the same exact condemnation for all of his offspring that makes the one ransom sacrifice viable. Being that it is one condemnation, and not one condemnation for Adam and another for his offspring (as some have argued), then only one man is needed to release mankind from the condemnation. To say that Adam is not included would mean that Adam suffered one condemnation, but that his offspring are under a different condemnation, and thus there results a denial of the basis for whole ransom sacrifice as described in the Bible. But to arrive at the idea that Adam, or any of his offspring, is not covered by the ransom sacrifice, the judgment of man aside from the ransom has to be added to the scriptures, and this is what Rutherford did, and what the WT leaders persist in doing.
In 1938, J. F. Rutherford produced his alleged new light on this (Watchtower, May 15, 1938, page 150, stating:
Does not the ransom result beneficially to all of Adam’s offspring, and include Adam himself? No; it results beneficially only to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and obey him. (John 3 : 16,17) Adam could not be redeemed; for the reason that the judgment against him is final. No judgment was entered against his offspring, and therefore such are subject to purchase or redemption; but such purchase does not result automatically for the benefit of everyone, but only for those who exercise their privilege of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and doing the will of God. “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:35,36) In harmony with this it is written: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28) Therefore the indisputable conclusion is that Jesus gave himself a ransom for as many as believe on and obey him.
The above misuses several scriptures in the very same manner that many in the traditonal denominations have misused such scriptures for centuries, and presents the conclusion as being "indisputable". And yet, Brother Russell did dispute those claims.
As stated, Rutherford's argument would mean that there would be no need for a coming judgment day, since only those who believe in Christ will receive the benefit from the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. This would mean that there would be no resurrection of the unjust. Rather than new light, this is simply rehashes the same kind reasoning as given by most sectarian, denominational forms of Christianity.
Likewise, from the March 15, 1990 issue of The Watchtower:
Jesus came `to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.' But who are the many? Adam is evidently excluded because he was a perfect man who deliberately chose to disobey God and died as unrepentant, willful sinner.
The article goes on to say:
The course taken by each individual determines whether he will benefit from Jesus' sacrifice. Like Adam, the willfully wicked do not have the ransom merit and eternal life forced upon them. As Christ said: `He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.'
The article distorts the scripture here to imply that Jesus was saying that he who disobeys receive no benefit from the ransom. If this were so, then all down through history those who were living in disobedience will not be raised, and there is no need for a day of judgment for the world, since none but those who have exercised faith in Jesus are covered by the ransom sacrifice. This, of course, does not harmonize with other claims made by the JW leadership, since they do believe that many will be raised who did not in this age believe in Jesus, thus it becomes, even from their own teachings, apparent that it is a misapplication of scripture as given in the quotes above. It would contradict what the WTS says elsewhere, since they do believe that some unbelievers living at certain times will be raised in the day of judgment, even though they never exercised faith in Jesus. Thus, the WTS teaching contradicts itself. If none except those who believe are covered by the ransom, then none but those believe will be raised in the "last day", and thus there will be no resurrection of the unjust, no resurrection of judgment. Of course, this contradicts many scriptures. -- John 5:28,29; 12:47,48; Acts 24:15; Revelation 20:12,13.
In this age, no one who remains in disobedience to Jesus will be able to see, or apprehend the life in Jesus, and the wrath of God continues upon such a person. (John 3:35,36) What wrath is this? It is the wrath that has been upon all mankind since Adam sinned. This is the same wrath that Paul speaks of when he refers to the believer as having once been, as all of mankind is, "by nature, children of wrath," "children of disobedience." (Ephesians 2:2,3) In other words, as long as one is disobedient, the wrath and condemnation through Adam remains upon that person, and they continue in their unjust condition. Jesus was not saying that once one does not belief that he cannot ever repent and believe. No one already condemned in Adam who has not been reckoned alive in Christ who does not believe receives a new condemnation -- the condemnation of the second death -- because they do not believe. Such would contradict Jesus' words of John 12:47,48. Indeed, the very fact that Paul, who once was a persecutor of the followers of Jesus (Acts 22:4), did repent shows that such an application of John 3:35,36 would be incorrect. Nor did Jesus mean that the one in this age who remains in disobedience comes under a new condemnation, a condemnation for which Jesus did not die for. Those of the world who do not believe in this age simply remain under that condemnation through Adam, and thus are covered by the ransom sacrifice of Jesus (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6), and thus, Jesus' words of John 3:35,36 do not mean that the unbelievers of this age will not be among those who are raised in the last day in the resurrection of the unjust for a new judgment day.
Some related studies:2 Thessalonians 1:3-10 - Eternal Destruction of the Wicked
Will Billions Be Eternally Destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon?
Will Billions Be Eternally Destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon?
Armageddon, The Second Death, and Judgments