Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned — Romans 5:12
Wherefore (dia touto) — within a specific amount of time; a measure of time
One (heis) — one; as opposed to many; singular
Man (anthropos) — man; people (plural); of God and Christ
Enter (eiserchomai) — going to and from (temporal and aspectual); food that enters the mouth; (defined by action)
World (kosmos) — the world affairs; government; the human family
The idea of original sin isn’t one that shows up in the bible. what i mean to say, is those words don’t appear anywhere. In fact the phrase came from Augustine of Hippo.
I kind wanted to talk about the phrasing of the word-choice that Paul used. Especially the word ‘dia’. Which is the first part of the first word in the verse. Imagine a circle, now put a line coming from the outside of the circle and draw it through the middle of the circle going out the otherside. Now, cap both sides off with some sort of indication of a start and a finish. This is the idea behind Paul starting his conversation. The traditional argument of the word therefore tends to say that Paul is summarizing his words thus far (which I agree with entirely). But, what if there is more to it? What if Paul was also making a point that Adam’s contribution to humanity was temporal. That it wasn’t active. He goes only later to talk about how Christ came to die to show us how to be different than Adam*. And that the act of Christ was enough to re-render the sin of humanity as something that was temporal not infinite. Even the word sin is singular in nature, not comprehensive. And so Paul might be saying that rather than focusing all our energy and time focusing on what Adam did, let’s learn from Christ. Also, maybe Paul is offering a different view here. Because the next verse basically talks about how sin without the law wasn’t sin. That if we don’t have the law, than there is nothing to rule sin by. Which is a reference to those who lived in the Old Testament and how the law was being formed. And so, Paul is almost working backwards here. He is essentially saying Christ abolished the need for the law, so why focus on Adam? And also that sin is personal, not that it doesn’t/can’t effect a community, but that the process to join in on ‘not being who were are meant to be’ (a better definition for sin) is a choice we make ourselves. And so going back over the verses where most people get the idea of ‘Original Sin’, a better idea might be something like this: Adam made some bad choices, and we can choose to learn to make those destructive decisions as he did, or we can look to Christ and learn from Him. Paul is turning the idea of original sin (wherever that came from) on its head. He is turning the journey into following Christ back onto his listeners and giving them a choice to make (something i think the orthodox church could learn). In fact, Paul’s worldview might not even be on par with what he is writing here, in verse 17, he goes back to using the word ‘if’ in a comparison. An example. Not a theological statement of authority. He is using example here to make an underlying point that we all can choose to be a part of the reality of Adam or Christ, not that we are moving from one to the other. It’s a daily choice not something internally hardwired within us. Paul is inviting, not forcing, I think that is important to see here. This whole verse is wrapped up in the moment. That we live moment by moment. Decision by decision. That we can choose. This is so freeing, some might think this is condemning. But what I see Paul asking is, ‘who is your hero?’ the guy who got it wrong? or the guy who got it right? Paul is assuming they could get it right, otherwise he wouldn’t give them the option. Also, when you look in the mirror, who are you seeing ‘Christ’ or ‘Adam’, Paul is asserting we should being Christ rather than Adam.
*(I personally might disagree with some of Pauls theological assumptions here on ‘atonement theology’)