Category Archives: Romans 5

The Diffusion of Death: Romans 5:12 and Original Sin

“This interpretation leads to a reading of πάντες ἥμαρτον (“all sinned”) that is itself improbable. In the Augustinian interpretation, this refers to the whole human race sinning in Adam in a collective and participatory way. As Augustine himself puts it, “all have broken God’s covenant in that one man in whom all sinned.” The idea is that Paul speaks of an involuntary participation in Adam’s sin by an actual participation in Adam’s nature. Adam is not simply an individual, but the primal instantiation of human nature, and so the consequences of his fall not only affect him personally but also affect all his descendants subsequently and distributively.47 In our estimation, the theological underpinnings of this view are not in themselves objectionable; indeed, one can find precedent in Scripture for such a manner of thinking (see Heb 7:6–10). Nevertheless, the fact remains that, in his letters, Paul consistently uses the verb ἁμαρτάνω (“to sin”) for actual sins committed by morally responsible persons in the course of their individual lives. That he has this default meaning in mind in Romans 5:12d is nearly certain: earlier in the letter he uses the identical Greek expression to insist that “all have sinned [πάντες ἥμαρτον] and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23)—an unmistakable reference to the universal occurrence of actual sins—and two verses later, in a passage intended to preempt objections to 5:12, Paul speaks of multiple generations of “those whose sins [τοὺς … ἁμαρτήσαντας] were not like the transgression of Adam” (5:14). For these reasons, the translation “in whom” falters on linguistic grounds.”

Hahn, S. W., & Mitch, C. J. (2017). The Diffusion of Death: Romans 5:12 and Original Sin. Letter & Spirit, 12, 28.


The chiasm of Rom 5:12

Verse 12 then is a neatly balanced chiasm:
  A      sin (12a) produces
B      death (12b);
B      all die (12c)
A      because all sin (12d).
If this reading of the structure of the verse is right, then v. 12d has the purpose of showing that death is universal because sin is universal: “all sinned.”

Continue reading

Fixing up Rom 5:12 Old earth creation version


OEC rom512 v2Old earth creationists have death and mortality happening before Adam, stopping for a while and restarting all because of Adam.  They insist only they read Romans 5:12 literally.  We “fixed” it so it matches their belief.  It’s fundamental.  It’s simple.  It’s not what Romans 5:12 says.

Fixing up Romans 5:12 YEC version

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered

Now this so-called fundamental comes from a much disputed passage. Debate about the only possible way its final clause can be understood has raged for centuries, well before our community inherited some views and took sides. Why don’t people just find other places where the Bible says what they want it to say, instead of quarrelling about Romans 5:12?  Continue reading

Rom 5:12-21 – comments by Richard Bell

“It has often been claimed that Paul does not explain exactly in Rom. 5:12–21 how sin came into the world through Adam. However, I wonder whether Paul is not more specific than many commentators claim. In Rom. 5:19 there is a clear causal relation between Adam’s sin and our sin (‘For as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners’). Further in Rom. 5:15, 17 the causal link concerning death is assumed and in Rom. 5:16, 18 the link concerning condemnation is assumed. Adam’s sin therefore led to death and condemnation for all. But what is the relationship between the sin of Adam and the sin of every person? The relationship, as I have already suggested, can be rather well explained using the idea of identical repetition. But first I turn to Rom. 5:12 and the specific understanding of ἐφʼ ᾧ which is clearly of importance. Continue reading

A Plain Man looks at Evolution

Bro Ken Drage was a member at Watford when the evolution controversy broke in the 1960s.  He has written an open letter addressing evolution and some of the history from the debate which centred around Bro Lovelock.  The impact of emotion and pressure from others is noteworthy – as is his observation that the 1960’s discussion were civilised though highly charged (such civility is lacking today!).  Bro Ken’s letter is reproduced in full below – it should be mandatory reading, so over to Ken… Continue reading

Death in the NT

“We know that we have crossed over from death to life because we love our fellow Christians. The one who does not love remains in death”   1 John 3:14

Death does not always equal mortality in the NT.  You cannot substitute death and mortality at will.  That’s one reason why the words are different.  Clearly in this instance death refers to the fate or spiritual condition of the individual rather than their pulse rate or them being mortal.

Sin leads to death, grace to life

Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.”  James 1:15 NET

James describes from verse 14 onwards that we are personally responsible for our sins.  While God might try us, His objective is not to see us fail.  We are tempted and fail due to our own lusts – and the inability to control them.  When our lusts go too far, when we do not control them they lead to sin.  James says this then leads to death.

The Lampstand Magazine and many conservative Christadelphians insist on a reading of Romans 5:12 that replaces the word death with mortality (claiming the words are equivalent).  Clearly such an approach is nonsense – the word mortal cannot fit in James 1.

Furthermore the passage simply shows that death can be used as the fate of the wicked.  All humans sin but some will never die 1 Cor 15:51.  James is not talking about the forgiven saints whose death is elsewhere styled sleep.  They do not die because of sin.  It is those who allow sin to reign in their mortal bodies who will reap the reward of death.  For those saved by grace it is an altogether happier story as Paul says:

we were dead in transgressions, [but God has] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved.”  Eph 2:5 NET

Lampstand Magazine “Death the Last Enemy” Vol 23 (2017) response

Once again the Lampstand Magazine has produced an unfortunate article which doesn’t fairly reflect the facts on the ground in an article called “Death the Last Enemy (Part 2)” in Volume 23.  The article notably fails (as did the last one) to deal with any of the arguments/rationale advanced by those who accept EC. Continue reading