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Verse 12

The first verse of this section (Romans 5:12-21) picks up the idea of future salvation from Romans 5:9-10.

Paul did not call Adam and Christ by name when he first spoke of them but referred to each as "one man." The key word "one" occurs 14 times in Romans 5:12-21. He thereby stressed the unity of the federal head with those under his authority who are also "men" (i.e., human beings).

We might interpret this verse as meaning that Adam only set a bad example for mankind that everyone has followed if we did not continue reading. Adam’s sin had a more direct and powerful effect than that of a bad example (Romans 5:15). It resulted in his descendants inheriting a sinful human nature that accounts in part for our sinfulness.

Paul personified sin presenting it as an evil power. He probably meant both physical and spiritual death.

Why did Paul and God hold Adam responsible for the sinfulness of the race when it was really Eve who sinned first? They did so because Adam was the person in authority over and therefore responsible for Eve (Genesis 2:18-23; 1 Corinthians 11:3). Furthermore, Eve was deceived (2 Corinthians 11:3), but Adam sinned deliberately (1 Timothy 2:14).

Paul compared the manner in which death entered the world, through sin, and the manner in which it spread to everyone, also through sin. Death is universal because sin is universal. Paul’s concern was more with original death than with original sin.

"Death, then, is due immediately to the sinning of each individual but ultimately to the sin of Adam; for it was Adam’s sin that corrupted human nature and made individual sinning an inevitability." [Note: Ibid., p. 325.]

Witmer compared Adam’s sin to a vapor that entered a house (humanity) through the front door and then penetrated the whole house. [Note: Witmer, p. 458.]

"Perhaps what makes this sermon ["Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," by Jonathan Edwards] most offensive to the ears of contemporary interpreters is not the language of impending destruction nor even that God is angry. What is probably most distasteful in Edwards’s theology is the doctrine of original sin, that he would believe that human beings are born guilty of sin and deserving of divine wrath. Perhaps implicitly, the view of the universal goodness of humanity that permeates the worldview of many people today has also penetrated evangelical theology as well. That all humans, including children, are guilty of sin and therefore deserving of the wrath of God seems harsh and unfair to modern ears." [Note: Glenn R. Kreider, "Sinners in the Hands of a Gracious God," Bibliotheca Sacra 163:651 (July-September 2006):274.]

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