Romans 5:12–14 (NASB)
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
What is Paul referring to when he says, “through one man sin entered into the world”? Satan is part of the world and he sinned before Adam. How could sin enter the world through “one man”? The answer is in the Greek.
Two words are important here: κόσμος (“KOS-mos,”) which is translated as world; and, άνθρωπος (“AN-thro-pos,”) which is translated as man.
“Anthropos,” from which we get anthropology, isn’t a specific reference to males. It can mean male, but it usually means person. (“Andros” is the Greek word for males.) So, this could be translated as, “death spread to all mankind.”
“Kosmos” is usually translated as world, though it can mean the whole of humanity. Which does it sound like in this context? Make the passage neutral on that question by changing, “entered into the world” to “made its entry” and it reads—Through one man sin made its entry, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.
Does that sound like sin entered the whole world or just mankind?
If we interpret the beginning of this passage as sin entering mankind, then the rest fits perfectly.
Sin is congenital; we’re born with it. You can see it in little children.
We’re all in rebellion against God and his laws. Children too young to know God’s laws, just push back against whatever’s available. Parents feel the sting of that rebellion and live in fear that it might lead to tragedy at any moment. If kids would just obey the rules we give them, they’d be a lot safer and we’d be a lot more relaxed.
But parents also know what it’s like to love the little rebels. Thus, we get some sense of how God feels about our sin. He doesn’t approve, but He doesn’t give up either.
In fact, God has hatched an amazing scheme to rid us of our sin. At great personal cost, He has provided a path out of the pit we have dug for ourselves. We’ll never fully understand it—this side of eternity anyway—but at least we can sense the Lord’s motivation.
This is all part of our being created in God’s image. We don’t understand that either, but it sure is wondrous.
The intricacies of God’s plan are most glorious.
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