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12

Verse 12

12Wherefore as, etc. He now begins to enlarge on the same doctrine, by comparing with it what is of an opposite character. For since Christ came to redeem us from the calamity into which Adam had fallen, and had precipitated all his posterity with him, we cannot see with so much clearness what we have in Christ, as by having what we have lost in Adam set before us, though all things on both sides are not similar: hence Paul subjoins an exception, which we shall notice in its place; and we shall also point out any other difference that may occur. The incompleteness of the sentence sometimes renders it obscure, as when the second clause, which answers to the former, is not expressed. But we shall endeavor to make both plain when we come to those parts. (163)

Sin entered into the world, etc. Observe the order which he keeps here; for he says, that sin preceded, and that from sin death followed. There are indeed some who contend, that we are so lost through Adam’s sin, as though we perished through no fault of our own, but only, because he had sinned for us. But Paul distinctly affirms, that sin extends to all who suffer its punishment: and this he afterwards more fully declares, when subsequently he assigns a reason why all the posterity of Adam are subject to the dominion of death; and it is even this — because we have all, he says, sinned. But to sin in this case, is to become corrupt and vicious; for the natural depravity which we bring, from our mother’s womb, though it brings not forth immediately its own fruits, is yet sin before God, and deserves his vengeance: and this is that sin which they call original. For as Adam at his creation had received for us as well as for himself the gifts of God’s favor, so by falling away from the Lord, he in himself corrupted, vitiated, depraved, and ruined our nature; for having been divested of God’s likeness, he could not have generated seed but what was like himself. Hence we have all sinned; for we are all imbued with natural corruption, and so are become sinful and wicked. Frivolous then was the gloss, by which formerly the Pelagians endeavored to elude the words of Paul, and held, that sin descended by imitation from Adam to the whole human race; for Christ would in this case become only the exemplar and not the cause of righteousness. Besides, we may easily conclude, that he speaks not here of actual sin; for if everyone for himself contracted guilt, why did Paul form a comparison between Adam and Christ? It then follows that our innate and hereditary depravity is what is here referred to. (164)

As to the corresponding clause, that it is found in Romans 5:18, there is a common consent, — [Pareus ], [Willet ], [Grotius ], [Doddridge ], [Scott ], [Stuart ], [Chalmers ], etc.; the intervening verses are viewed as parenthetic.

The phrase , διὰ τοῦτο, and also διὸ and οὖν, are sometimes used anticipatively as well as retrospectively, as their corresponding particles are often in Hebrew. See note on Romans 2:1. That Paul uses διὰ τοῦτο in this way appears evident from Romans 4:16; Romans 13:6; 1 Corinthians 11:10. It anticipates here, as I think, what is afterwards expressed by ἐφ ᾧ, as in Romans 4:16, by ἵνα, in Romans 13:6, by γὰρ, and in 1 Corinthians 11:10, by διὰ before angels. Then the meaning of the verse would be conveyed by the following rendering, —

12.For this reason — as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, even so death came on all men, because all have sinned.

According to this view, the corresponding clause is in the verse itself. The sentiment of the passage is this, — through one man sin entered and death followed; and death followed as to all mankind, because all had sinned. Then, according to his usual manner, the Apostle takes up the last subject, “sin,” issuing in the death of all; and at the end of the Romans 5:14 he goes back to “the one man,” Adam, who he says was a type of another: and this sentence is made the text of what follows till the end of the Romans 5:19. Having before referred to the state of things before the “law,” in the two remaining verses he refers to the bearing of the law on his subject, and shows that there is in Christ an abundant provision for the increase of sin occasioned by the law.

So abundant is grace that it is fully sufficient to remove original sin, actual sins — its fruits, and the sins discovered by the law, and by its means increased and enhanced. Hence superabundance is ascribed to it. — Ed.

[Wolfius ] quotes a singular passage from a Jewish Rabbi, [Moses Tranensis ], “In the sin which the first man sinned, the whole world through him (or in him, בו) sinned: for he was every man, or all mankind — כי זה כל אדם.” The idea is exactly the same with that of the Apostle.

“There are three things,” says [Pareus ], “which are to be considered in Adam’s sin, — the sinful act, the penalty of the law, and the depravity of nature; or in other words, the transgression of the command, the punishment of death, and natural corruption, which was the loss of God’s image, and in its stead came deformity and disorder. From none of these his posterity are free, but all these have descended to them; there is a participation of the transgression, an imputation of guilt, and the propagation of natural depravity. There is a participation of the sin; for all his posterity were seminally in his loins, so that all sinned in his sin, as Levi paid tithes in the loins of Abraham; and as children are a part of their parents, so children are in a manner partakers of their parents’ sin. There is also an imputation of guilt, for the first man so stood in favor, that when he sinned, not only he, but also all his posterity fell with him, and became with him subject to eternal death. And lastly, there is the propagation or the generation of a dreadful deformity of nature; for such as Adam became after the fall, such were the children he begat, being after his own image, and not after the image of God. Genesis 5:1. All these things, as to the first sin, apply to the parent and also to the children, with only this difference — that Adam sinning first transgressed, first contracted guilt, and first depraved his nature, — and that all these things belong to his posterity by participation, imputation, and propagation.”

Both [Stuart ] and [Barnes ] stumble here; and though they denounce theorizing, and advocate adherence to the language of Scripture, they do yet theorize and attempt to evade the plain and obvious meaning of this passage. But in trying to avoid one difficulty, they make for themselves another still greater. The penalty, or the imputation of guilt, they admit; which is indeed undeniable, as facts, as well as Scripture, most clearly prove: but the participation they deny, though words could hardly be framed to express it more distinctly than the words of this verse; and thus, according to their view, a punishment is inflicted without a previous implication in an offense; while the Scriptural account of the matter is, according to what Calvin states, that “sin extends to all who suffer its punishment,” though he afterwards explains this in a way that is not altogether consistent. — Ed.

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