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Romans 5:12 - Exposition

Wherefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all sinned . To this sentence, introduced by ὥσπερ , there is no apodosis. One has been sought in the course of what follows, and by some found in Romans 5:18 . But Romans 5:18 is a recapitulation rather than resumption of the argument, and is, further, too far removed to be intended as a formal apodesis. It is not really necessary to find one. The natural one to the first clause of the sentence would have been, "So through One righteousness entered into the world, and life through righteousness;" and such may be supposed to have been in the writer's mind. But, after his manner, he goes off to enlarge on the idea expressed in the second clause, and never formally completes his sentence. A similar anacoluthon is found in 1 Timothy 1:3 . Sin is here, as elsewhere, regarded as a power antagonistic to God, which has been introduced into the world of man, working and manifesting itself in concrete human sin (cf. Romans 5:21 ; Romans 6:12 , Romans 6:14 ; Romans 7:8 , Romans 7:9 , Romans 7:17 ). Its ultimate origin is not explained. Scripture offers no solution of the old insoluble problem, κόθεν τὸ κακὸν : its existence at all under the sway of the Omnipotent Goodness in which we believe is one of the deep mysteries that have ever baffled human reason. All that is here touched on is its entrance into the world of man, the word εἰσῆλθε implying that it already existed beyond this mundane sphere. The reference is, of course, to Gem fit., as the scriptural account of the beginning of sin in our own world. It is there attributed to "the serpent," whom we regard as a symbol of some mysterious power of evil, external to man, to which primeval man, in the exercise of his prerogative of free-will, succumbed, and so let sin in. Through sin entered also death as its consequence; which (primarily at least) must mean here physical death, this being all that is denoted in Genesis (comp. Genesis 3:19 with Genesis 2:17 ), and necessary to be understood in what follows in the chapter before us (see verse 14). But here a difficulty presents itself to modern thought. Are we to understand that man was originally so constituted as not to die?—that even his bodily organization was immortal, and would have continued so but for the fatal taint of sin? We find it difficult at the present day to conceive this, however bound we may feel to submit our reason to revelation in a matter so remote, so unknown, and so mysterious as the beginning of human life on the earth, in whatever aspect viewed, and indeed of all conscious life, must ever be. But St. Paul himself, in another place, speaks of "the first man" having been, even on his first creation, "of the earth, earthy" ( 1 Corinthians 15:45 , 1 Corinthians 15:47 ), with a body, like ours, of" flesh and blood," in its own nature corruptible ( 1 Corinthians 15:50 ). Neither is the narrative of Genesis 3:1-24 . inconsistent with this idea. For it seems to imply that, but for his eating of the mystical "tree of life", the first man was in his own nature mortal, and that his liability to death ensued on his being debarred from it ( Genesis 3:22 ). It may be impossible for us to understand or explain. The following considerations, however, may perhaps help us in some degree.

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