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Introductory Observations: 

Those of us who have given at least a little thought to the meaning and sense of the Holy Spirit as taught in this classic Scripture passage will welcome some reflections and expository observations on this teaching concerning Adam and concerning Him who was to come, the last Adam, Christ. 

It is both of interest and of necessity to notice that Paul speaks of three great subjects in the letter to the Romans. After having spoken of, the great power of the gospel .unto salvation for every one who believeth, he develops the three great facets of salvation, which incidentally, are the “three things” which we must know, while standing in and enjoying the only comfort in life and in death. These three things are: 1. the greatness of our sins and misery, 2. the manner of our redemption in Christ Jesus, 3. the concrete and specific manner of our living a life of gratitude. In Romans 1:18 to Romans 3:20 he teaches that all men, Jew and Gentile, are under sin and death. In Romans 3:21 to Romans 8:39 he teaches the manner of our redemption on the Cross, particularly also of our justification and sanctification which are ours by faith. And in Chapters 12, 13 he teaches how we shall be thankful to God for redemption in Christ Jesus, living as justified and as sanctified in Christ. 

It is the great theme of Paul and of the Gospel of Christ that we are not saved by works of law which we perform, but solely by the righteousness of God in Christ without law. This is the repeated refrain here of Paul in this great epistle. Rom. 3:19-26Rom. 4:1-8, 13, 14Rom. 5:1-11. We are not under law but under grace! Rom. 6:14

To understand that we are not under law but under grace in Christ Jesus, we must see the great design, aim and grand purpose of God in creating one man, Adam, as root of the human race, and head, representative head of ah-men. On the other hand we must see and understand that salvation is too by one man, Jesus Christ. Thus we see that Adam is, as representative head of the human race, the figure, type of the Christ, who was yet to come later in the fulness of times, born from a woman and made under the law.Rom. 5:14Gal. 4:4

In this passage in Rom. 5:12-21, under consideration, Paul points out the basic substructure of our salvation in Christ. The subject in this passage is not the Fall in Adam, but it is the Free Gift of God in Christ. The two Adams are described in their dissimilarity rather than in their similarity. Adam is only mentioned as the type and picture of Christ. Christ is the one concerning whom Paul, strictly speaking, is writing. Paul here writes concerning the legal representation of the one man, Christ, in whom we are both justified and sanctified, that is, have complete redemption! 

Of this Christ and of our redemption in Him we would see a bit more.

Through One Man Sin Entered Into The World. (Rom. 5:12)

It ought to be evident that Paul begins a comparison inRom. 5:12 which he does not finish. Writes he: “Thereforeeven as by one man sin entered into the world . . .” He does not finished the comparison here by continuing to write . . . “thus also by one man, Jesus Christ, grace is realized.” The comparison is interrupted and not carried through to its conclusion till verse 18. There we read: “Wherefore then as through one man’s transgression (offense) death reigned through one unto all men unto condemnation, thus also through the righteousness of one man (became) unto all men unto justification of life.” 

It is well to notice that Paul completes this comparison in this way! Thus he gives the fundamental formula in verse 12, gives the explanation of this begun comparison in the verses 13 through 17, and sums it up with the clear-cut statement in verse 18. The conclusion of the comparison begun in verse 12 is thus masterfully shown in its great architectural lines; it is the legal architecture of the Cross as typified already in the first Adam’s legal relationship as well as his organic relationship to the human race. Here is splendid commentary on Genesis 1:26, 27, as well as onGenesis 2:7, 16, 17 and Genesis 3:1-21. The Cross is no after-thought. For God thus loved the world. John 3:14, 15. He made Adam the figure of him who was to come. For all things were created through Christ, the first-born of all creatures, and unto Him. Col. 1:16

Let it be placed very emphatically on the foreground that Paul says “through one man sin entered into the world,” verse 12. Sin did not enter into the world by the creative act of God. That is excluded by what we read in Genesis 1:26, 27. It is emphatically stated in Genesis 1:27: “And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them.” Hence, sin came into the world by the agencyof one man. It was not by Satan that sin entered the world; sin could not enter into the human race by any subsequent individual who would be born from Adam and Eve, but could only enter into the human race by the particular man, Adam. The Hebrew reads literally: “Let us make ADAM (man) in our image, according to our likeness . . .” And this ADAM is the generic man (homo) because he is the root and representative Head of the human race! God made man, Anthropos, when he created Adam from de dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and thus constituted him a living soul. Sin did only come into this world by the agency of one man, but it could also only come into the world by man, more particularly by thisone man, who is Adam, the first! 

Unless this point be seen concerning the only possibility of sin entering into the world, and believed and confessed, we will needs fall into the maelstrom of Pelagianism, and its necessary counter-part, Arminianism. Thus too we shall never see the glory of the Cross and the rockbottomness of our salvation, namely, that the gift of grace is through one man, Jesus Christ, the last Adam. The latter must needs stand or fall with the former! 

For sin came into the world through one man. It is not constantly coming into the world. Paul employs the aorist tense. It emphasizes the fact that the entire entrance of sin into the world is a finished fact, once and for all, and that it is irrevocably thus. Sin is here. It entered into the world. The gate was the agency of the disobedience and transgression of one man, Adam! The term kosmos refers to the entire world of God’s creation, as created in the six days of the creation week, with man standing at the head, with dominion over all of the earthly creation. Into this world over which man rules, under God, sin came. Paul calls it the sin (hee Harmartia). It was the missing of the mark. It was the root-sin; the (only sin possible through which “death” could come into the world and pass through to all men. It was the transgression of the command of God as recorded in Gen. 2:16, 17, “And the LORD God commanded the man (Adam) saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The transgression of the commandment was thetransgress, the sin! It was willful disobedience. It is the root-sin of placing our own chosen ways over against and instead of the Word of God. It is therefore the sin which was anti-God, and will reveal itself in the mystery of iniquity to be anti-Christ. It was enmity against God. For the issue was “what hath God said,” in the garden! And the Lord God analyzes the sin as “Man was become like one from us.” He has acted as if he were in our company, sitting in the midst of the counselors of God. It was an act of highest sacrilege and blasphemy. Such was the sin which came into the world by the agency of the one man, ADAM! 

That is the key-note of Paul here in Romans 5:12

And, now, we must listen a bit more to Paul. Writes he: “and through the sin the death.” We must here add: through the sin came the death into the world. It came once and for all. It came as the execution of the punishment of the sin. It is the “thou shalt surely die” fulfilled. It is called “ho Thanatos.” It is not simply the death of an individual, but it is death in all its scope, compass and implication: physical death, spiritual death consisting in our depravity and guilt, and eternal death, sometimes called: second death which is, prepared for the Satan, the false prophets and for the dragon. Nothing is excluded from death in this concept: the death. 

We shall have more to say concerning this concept in later verses of this instructive section under discussion. See the verses 16, 21, 23. 

It is important to notice that death came “through the sin.” It did not come simply as a natural consequence of sin, but it came by the judgment of God; it came to realization in the judgment hall of God, a judgment pronounced by God in advance, should he transgress. And in this verdict of God upon Adam’s sin, offense, death passed through to all men. Yes “it passed through.” It came into this world once and for all. It is not constantly coming into this world. And thus too the death is not coming through to all men, but it came upon all men, immediately in that very verdict of God upon this transgression. That “very day” when ADAM sinned, was the day when death passed through to all men. Paul here too employs the aorist tense! Once and for all death passed upon all men. 

But how could that be? 

Paul tells us, “because all sinned:” The verb form here too for sinned is in the aorist tense. That means that it refers to that original sin, that primordial sin of Adam. We sinned there. We do not agree with the Holland translation which says: “in which all sinned” (in welken). Rather we believe that the Greek preposition with the relative pronoun “eph’ hooi” should be translated: upon this that, or on the basis that, and so: because that all sinned. Legally, juridically we all sinned in our representative head. This is borne out also by the sequence in this passage. 

What Adam did he did as our representative. Wherefore only through the sin of ADAM could sin enter into the world, and could it at that very moment be a condemnation of the entire human race. All were immediately under sin, guilt and death. Dying we all died.

Paul gives proof of this proposition from the concrete evidence of the undeniable fact that death reigned as a terrible king from Adam to Moses. For the period of some 2000 years or more death reigned, not because of the curse of the law expressed in the law of Moses, which says: the man that doeth the same shall live thereby, and: cursed is everyone that remaineth not in all things written in the book of the law to do it. That 1aw “was added” (verse 20) centuries after the Fall of Adam. Nay, the “reigning” of death is the evidence that we all were accounted before God as having sinned in the one transgression of Adam. 

(to be continued) 

—G.L.