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Verse 12

Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all people, for that all sinned.

The righteousness of God's character needed the apostle's attention in another area, that being in respect of that incredibly awful truth that because of only one man's sin, and only a single sin at that, death had passed upon the entire race of people. In this verse, one is confronted with the impenetrable mystery of the fall of the human family in that sad instance wherein the federal head of the race deliberately chose to reject the benign rule of his God and Creator and to become the servant of the devil. More is in that disaster than people shall ever know until they see their Saviour face to face. As Moule expressed it:

Nowhere does the divine Book undertake to tell us all about everything. It undertakes to tell us truth, and to tell it from God; but it reminds us that we "know in part," and that even prophecy, even the inspired message is "in part" (1 Corinthians 13:9).[26]

One of the most difficult questions related to the study of the Bible is situated squarely in this incredible thing that through only one person's sin, and that only in a single instance, death came upon every one of earth's teeming populations. What a vast consequence for such a little rebellion! But, however people may draw back from it, the sad facts are indisputable. Furthermore, life as it is still constituted upon this earth is an unvarying demonstration of the very same principle, as, for example, when a careless driver sends his automobile off a cliff; it is not the driver alone who pays the penalty, but the innocent passengers as well. The eternal righteousness of God who created and maintains such a system is in no way compromised by the way the system works. It operates according to God's wise design; and the Father's true righteousness, Paul vindicated at once, showing that, in the same manner that death came upon all through Adam, Christ, the second Adam, has brought life and salvation to all.

Ironside has a perceptive summary of the significance of Christ as the second Adam, thus:

Adam the first was federal head of the old race. Christ risen, the Second Man, and the last Adam, is head of the new race. The old creation fell in Adam, and all his descendants were involved in his ruin. The new creation stands eternally secure in Christ, and all who have received life from him are sharers in the blessings procured by his cross and secured by his life at God's right hand.[27]

For that all have sinned ... does not mean that every person ever born commits sin in exactly the same way as Adam. The heathen, the innocent, and the incompetent suffer the penalty of death, because the entire status of earthly life was altered by Adam's transgression, and all people partake of Adam's penalty. Even the Saviour, perfectly innocent though he was, through his entry into our life incurred its penalty.

Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Thus, God's law regarding sin and death was proved to be operative invariably and without partiality or exceptions, even upon God himself "come in the flesh"! How truly marvelous is the absolute righteousness of God. No thoughtful person could find fault with the justice and fairness of such a Governor of creation.

[26] H. C. G. Moule, The Epistle to the Romans (London: Pickering and Inglis Ltd.), p. 144.

[27] H. A. Ironside, Lectures on the Epistle to the Romans (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1928), p. 69,

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