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Romans 5:12 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:53 mins 27 secs

Hebrews Lesson 92  July 5, 2007 


NKJ Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.


We are in Romans 5 tonight – Romans 5 as we continue to work our way through the second of two big questions that come out of Hebrews 7, Hebrews 7:9-10. 


Again tonight I was reading through a particular writer's comments even on Romans 5 and the explanation that he had on some of the issues of Romans 5:12f. This is another man that is a world class scholar, respected exegete and took a position of pure seminalism. He offered no explanation, no defense, just cited Hebrews 7:9 as if this settles it. Once again I find that very few exegetes deal with this one phrase that is there that is translated as I have it  on the screen "in a manner of speaking" indicating that this is really a figure of speech. It's not talking about a literal reality. Yet this verse seems to be the only verse that people go to, to defend this position of seminalism as well as Traducianism. As I have pointed out before, those are linked together. 


So the first question we dealt with was the origin of the soul and the transmission of the soul from one generation to another and how does human life progress. The second question is the origin and transmission of sin and Adam's original sin. This is important for us to understand because it gives us an understanding, an appreciation for the complexity of our salvation. Because if we don't understand the complexity of the problem and how the problem has manifested itself throughout the entire human race; then we tend to have a shallow and superficial view of our salvation - what Jesus Christ did on the cross and the intricacies of God's plan of salvation and what He did in order to save us. 


Romans 5:12-21 is one of the most significant passages or sections in the entire Bible. It draws to a conclusion not only the argument that Paul uses in Romans 5 - now I use the word argument - the average person uses the word argument as two people disagreeing with each other and yelling at each other; but that is not the way it is used in legal type literature. You have somebody who presents a case for something that is called an argument. So in literature you talk about somebody who is presenting a case for something, building a case for a particular position and that is also called an argument. That is what I mean in this particular section. 


Paul has built an argument in the previous chapters for the necessity of salvation and how faith justifies - faith in Christ justifies, the imputation of righteousness and the need for righteousness in salvation.  In chapter 5 we have the focus on the results which is peace with God through reconciliation.


Then in verse 12 we come to a conclusion that wraps up not only chapter 5 but also the section from 1:18 down through 5:11. We need to overview our section here in verse 12.


He begins a comparison and contrast between Adam's sin and Christ's work. We have to be very careful here just as Paul is very careful.  He begins the comparison though in verse 12.


NKJ Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as


He only gets the first part of the comparison in and before he gets to the second aspect, the part about Christ. 


He stops as it were and thinks, "Well, I had better make sure that I qualify as much as I can because I don't want people taking this comparison and this contrast too far. I am not comparing everything about Adam and Christ. I am not comparing everything about sin and its being passed on to all humanity and what Christ did on the cross; I am just comparing two tight areas." 


So he stops to qualify and his qualification includes a definition of sin and death - an explanation of it in verses 13 and 14 and then in verses 15 through 17 he shows the contrast between Christ and Adam – the differences before he will compare them. Then in verse 18 to 21 he comes back to the comparison. So verse 12 begins the comparison and contrasts. Verses 13 through 14 give an explanation of sin and death and how that is passed on to the whole human race. Verses 15 to 17 contrast Christ and Adam. Then he comes back and connects the comparison between Adam's sin and its application of condemnation to all men and Christ's righteousness and man's justification through His substitutionary work in verse 18.


Now when we come to verse 12:


NKJ Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned --


Now there are some important nuances to the grammar here that we have to pay attention to and some things that we can learn from the way this is set up. But the question that we are answering is how does this last part happen? We read:


just as through one man sin entered the world,


We understand that in terms of Adam's sin, his disobedience. He ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of the Good and Evil in Genesis 3.  That is how sin entered the world and that is how death entered the world. But how does death spread to all men? That is the question. In what way does death spread to all men and sin to all men?


So let's just review a couple of things I said last time. I am going to review things I said last time, but in that review what I have done is I have expanded within almost everything I said last time. So as you listen you are going to see parallels, but then watch for the things that I have added.


Start of with the "therefore". Dia touto in the Greek describes the ground, the motive or the cause of something. Literally it is "for this reason" which would be a better translation.


For this reason just as through one man.


So he is expanding on and concluding the entire section. He sets up this comparison that we see in the English with a good translation – just as. It is the Greek word hosper. "Just as", which introduces a comparison that he is going to make between the first Adam and the Second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ. He then qualifies it in the next few verses and finally completes the comparison in verse 18. Now when you get down to some of the details in this particular passage there is a lot of debate over just how the grammar impacts our understanding of the text. 


The other key word that we look at is this phrase right here - "and thus" as it is set up in the Greek text. It is in the Greek kai which is the word for "and" and houtos - kai houstos. It really means in this manner as follows. This is the same adverb that you have at the beginning of John 3:16


NKJ John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.


We have the phrase there that "God so loved". The Greek there that is translated "so" is this adverb houtos. You will hear some people take it as meaning the degree. 


God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son. 


But that is not what this word means. It is a word that means thusly or in the manner that follows. It focuses on what is about to be said. So we should translate John 3:16 "in this way" or "in this manner" or "thusly God loved the world". 


In this way God loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son. 


It indicates manner - stresses manner, how something is done. So when we come to this particular verse and we read the phrase "and thus" or "in this way death spread to all men", in what way? Because all sinned. That tells us that the ground for this is because all sinned. We have to understand the connection. How did they sin? Is this emphasizing actual, personal, individual sins or is it positional? I have already indicated that in the way I have translated this.


In this manner death spread to all men because all sinned in Adam positionally. 


Not seminally, but positionally. That is our position in Adam has to do with his spiritual death. 


Now in the Greek you have two different ways you can set up this houtos construction. The way we have it is "and thus" or kai houtos. That always suggests what I have said that it is an expansion of the initial comparison. It is not giving the other side of the comparison. If you were going to give the other side of the comparison you would reverse the two. That has been demonstrated through technical studies and it bears itself out consistently that when you have houstos kai it would indicate the other side of the comparison. You have one side "just as through one man sin entered the world" and on the other side "death through sin". Death through sin and thus and also or thus also - that just doesn't make sense in Greek. There are various scholars, who try to argue that, but the kai houtos is a very technical phrase in Greek and it indicates an extension of the original comparison. So all that we have in verse 12 is the initial side of the comparison - what is happening in regard to Adam. He doesn't make to Christ yet. 


Then there is this break that is called an anacoluthon where you start to talk about something, all of a sudden you are reminded, "Well before I get any further I need to expand on this. I need to elucidate that, maybe tell this story." 


For some people that becomes a rabbit trail and it may be a long time before you get back to the main track. That's what Paul does in verses 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17. He is going to make sure that everybody understands what those qualifications are so they don't take the comparison too far.


Therefore just as through one man .


Now let me go back to that verse again. Notice – just as through one man sin enters the world. What is the next thing we mention? And death through sin and thus death spread to all men because all sinned. 


Now I skipped that "death through sin" because that phrase needs to be taken in its entity. And death through sin and thus death spread to all men because all sinned. 


So what do you have?  You have a chiasm. Sin – death – death - sin. And so there is our familiar X for the Greek letter chi or as it is pronounced in most scholarly treatments of Greek "kee", not like you do in college fraternities as a chi. This is a "kee". The focal point is what is in the center which is death. That's the center part of the chiasm. So the emphasis here is on the death and the spreading of death to all men because that is the penalty for sin. And so just the way its structured indicates what the author is putting the emphasis on.  So we read:


just as through one man


The "through" is the Greek preposition dia with the genitive which indicates the means. It is through the means of one man that sin enters the world. 


Then you have three verbs in this sentence. You have "entered" which is the verb eiserchomai. Now this is the root verb is erchomai which means to go, to come. In its own sense it can have the idea of entering. Then it can have various prefixes, various prepositions or prefixes. Eis means to go into or to enter. Exerchomaiex means to go out - so it means to come out of. Those are very important words when you are studying demon possession because you always have the interchange between the demon going into something (eiserchomai) and then being cast out of or being told to come out of someone (exerchomai) which indicates that demon possession is going into and coming out of. It's not just some intense form of demon influence. 


So here we have this idea of something going into something else. It's the picture of someone entering the front door of a house – going inside. So this depicts sin entering into the world. 


The Greek word for world here is kosmos which we are familiar with because this is the world's system. But there is another sense to world which is refers to the inhabited planet. This is the same use that John has in John 3:16.


NKJ John 3:16 "For God so loved the world


God loved what?  He loved the world - the inhabited planet. So we read: 


Just as through one man sin entered the inhabited planet. 


It stands for the human race. Sin enters into the human race and death through sin. Thus death spread to all men.


Now we have another verb. It is dierchomai. That is the Greek preposition dia plus the same verb erchomai. So eiserchomai means to go into or to enter anddierchomai has the idea of passing through something. It is used of a sword piercing the body and passing through the body. It is used of Jesus Christ who passes through the heavens in His ascension to the throne of God. It's also used of someone who's traveling through various regions to get to another area. So the idea here is that sin enters the world through this doorway. The doorway is Adam's decision, Adam's sin. When he chose to eat the fruit, sin then walks through the door and enters into the human race and enters into human history and with it comes death. There is a companion with sin and it brings with it death. 


In this manner through this entry into the world death spread thusly to all men because all sinned. 


So it says thus (what is to come) death spread.


It is the idea of – let's say you had a gas leak in your house. Somebody turned on the valve and the gas would enter the house through that valve. Then what does it do? It starts to fill up the space of the house. That is this idea here of death spreading. It is like gas spreading throughout the whole house. So death spreads throughout the entire human race. 


In this manner death spread to all men and because all sinned positionally. 


We have one more verb. So we have eiserchomai; we have dierchomai. Both of these are aorist active indicatives. 


Then the third verb in the sentence is the last one – because all sinned. That's hamartano meaning to miss the mark. This also is an aorist active indicative. The fact that all three are aorist tenses indicates that they all referred to a past event. This is all something that has been completed. 


We have about four observations to make on this particular passage at this point. 


  1. The reason for death is sin. That is going to have implications on the kind of death that we have here. The reason for sin according to this passage – I mean the reason for death is sin. 
  2. It's the sin of one man that enters the world. 
  3. It is death which accompanies sin that goes not just to Adam but also to the whole – to the whole world. So the reason for death is sin. Sin enters in the door because of Adam's decision. When sin enters the door, sin has an accompaniment and that is death. 
  4. That brings us to the fourth observation that these three aorist tense verbs indicate that the entire human race is viewed as sinning in Adam's one sin.


That fits the parallel that we have in Romans 3:23 which says:


For all have sinned


We have an aorist active indicative of hamartano again.


and fallen short of the glory of God.


It doesn't talk about the fact that all are going to sin. There are some that haven't lived yet that still have yet to sin. It is talking about all - every member of the human race - has already sinned. That is why we get into this discussion about how did that happen in relationship to Adam. What exactly was the way that this sin spread to all men? Is it positional or is it actual? 


Let me help you understand this a little differently. I have used the term federal in the past. Federal indicates a representative – that Adam functioned as a representative. Seminally means that we actually participated in some physical way in Adam's sin when he sinned. That is based on – every time you read anything on that it is based on the Hebrews 7 passage. So how does this death spread to all men? 


Another word I want to use that's like the federal word and may make it a little clearer to you (It might be more familiar to you.) is the word positional. We are positionally in Adam – we are physically there. It is important. As I pointed out before there are dimensions of both of these that are true. It is not this either-or kind of thing. That is why I am spending some time on this to try to understand the distinctions here. 


So we go to this next phrase.


And thus (or in this manner) this is how death spread to all men because all sinned.


So in what way did we participate in that original sin? This is based on a very unusual construction in the Greek here. First we have the phrase kai houtos, which I have already mentioned several times.


In this manner that follows, this is the way that death spread to all men because all sinned.


 So the writer views this that all every human being sinned in Adam's sin. You were not a sinner because you sinned. This is one of those fun little brain twister sayings that people love to use in Bible college or seminary. Are you a sinner because you sin or do you sin because you are a sinner?  You see most people think they are sinners because they sin. But that's not biblical. The Bible teaches that you sin because you are a sinner. That's what this is pointing out. 


This is how death spread to all men because all sinned in Adam's sin. 


How did we participate in that sin? Was it physical or was it positional? I am going to argue that it is actually both. So remember that I already gave you four points that we looked up to that point. I am interspersing this in the middle between four and five. But we have this first phrase:


Thus, in this manner all sinned because all sinned. 


Then we have this phrase that is translated 'because', but in the Greek it is made up of two words, epi which is contracted to an "f" there because it is followed by another vowel plus the dative of a masculine pronoun epiho. So the question is what does this mean? In fact there are 8 or 9 different suggestions as to how to handle this. This is where you get into really fun exegesis because what you have to do is look at these – I mean if you really had time to do everything on this that you wanted to, what you would do is trace each one out, look for all the different commentators who took each different position, look at their arguments, their general theological frameworks and then compare and contrast those and trace how those views were held down through history. That is the stuff doctrinal dissertations are made of. But when you are cranking through Bible class on a regular basis you just don't have time always to do that. But you have to do it in some sort of – at least a quick superficial level - just to make sure you are not headed down the wrong road. Most commentators have taken this to indicate "because" but not always for the right reasons. It seems to be basically an idiom that is used. This whole thing is a conjunction meaning because. It understands the sin here not to refer to man's actual individual sinning but to their participation in Adam's original sin positionally. 


Now I am emphasizing that "positional". That is my conclusion based on the fact the seminal position has such little weight to it. But let's just go on and I am going to add as we go through this. Once again I want to remind you of these two views. I have been using the terms throughout the lesson so far, but I have added a little bit to both of these and underlined what I have added to help you see the difference. 


  1. Two view on how transmission occurred.


Seminalism:  As I said before this is the view that the entire human race, body and soul, was genetically present in Adam – not just positionally but genetically. Thus God considered every human being to be physically participating in Adam's original sin and thus receiving the same penalty. 


What this view is saying is that when Adam made this decision, you made it to. You are right there with him in a very real sense. I have problems with that, not only exegetically but conceptually. And as I said this view is usually connected to the Traducianist view of the transmission of the soul.


Federalism:  In contrast federalism is the view that Adam stood as the head and representative of the human race. Adam's decisions were on behalf of all humanity. God viewed Adam's sin as the act of all people through representation. 


As I am working through this the idea that comes back again and again is this idea of representation. I entitled the lesson tonight "Sin: Representation, Substitution and Imputation". We have to look at the other side of this comparison where Paul is going here because what he is talking about is what happens with Adam and sin and how that gets passed on to the human race is related to what happens when Christ dies as our representative, as our spiritual substitute on the cross and where His righteousness is imputed to us. We have Adam's sin being imputed to us. We also have Christ's righteousness imputed to us. So to make sense of both of these, we have to recognize that there has to be a representative dimension to this – not simply a real or physical or genetic connection. 


Now the problem that some people have with this that has been raised with me is that the more extreme forms of this federal sense were represented in covenant theology. But this isn't a view that is restricted to covenant theology. In fact as I pointed out last time in discussing various theologians through the ages that have held the different view, many of them were covenant theologians. Many were seminalists. Most seminalists are covenant theologians. Most federalists are covenant theologians. So it is not something that is inherent to covenant theology. So this was really point 5. 


We made 4 observations. The first one was that the reason for sin was death. The second was the sin of one man sin enters the world. Third, the sin brings death not only to the one but to the whole. Fourth are three aorist tense verbs indicating that the entire human race is viewed as sinning in Adam's one sin.  Then we digress to Romans 3:23. Look at the last phrase – thus sin spread to all men because all sinned. Now I am at point 5, which is the two views on how all of this happened. 


  1. I want to review the chart from last time just to give you one more shot at looking at this. There are basically four main views on this particular subject of how sin is transmitted and imputed and the guilt of Adam's sin is transmitted, imputed to mankind.


We have the Pelagian view, the Arminian view, the Federal view and the Augustinian view. There are some views that fall kind of in-between. For example you have a view called the semi-Pelagian view which was the view that was adopted at the Council of Orange (That is spelled orange for most of you.) where the Roman Catholic Church officially adopted what is called a semi-Pelagian position. 


I brought that up because somebody came up last week and said, "Well, what about the Roman Catholic position?"


That wasn't in the chart originally. The Pelagian view is that people incurred death when they sin after Adam's example. They would understand Romans 5:12 to be saying:


Death spread to all men because all actually sinned.


So it is only when they actually sin that the death spreads to them because they are born neutral, without a sin nature, without corruption and they get to make their own decision which is no different from Adam's original decision. They are born with the same absolute freedom in one sense that Adam had and that is hindered by the fall. For them Adam's sin affected only Adam. No one else in humanity was affected by Adam's sin. The modern adherents of this would be Unitarians. 


The semi-Pelagian view is the view that's held by Roman Catholics. That is why Roman Catholics tend to have this rather positive view of people. Everybody somehow gets to heaven. Everybody is basically good enough. You may have to work a little more when you get to purgatory, but everybody is not really dead. They are just sick.


For Pelagians they are not really sick. They don't get sick until they are sin. But for semi-Pelagians, they're just sick. 


For Arminians, they are a little sicker. All people consent to Adam's sin, and then sin is imputed. They aren't dead; they are just real sick.


Now just think about how that affects your political theory. Just think how that affects your view of criminality, of the penal system or what the purpose of the penal system is, or your view of corporate punishment on children. You see these things are not just abstract theological doctrines.


Isn't that are interesting?  Somebody held this view.  See your next door neighbor holds one of these views. He doesn't know it. Maybe you can tell him. They are probably a Pelagian. They think that their little baby that is throwing rotten eggs at your house is totally perfect and sinless. So when they grow up and join a gang and then they go to prison, the prison warden thinks the same thing because he is there to rehabilitate him and not to punish him. That's the difference. They don't know that they have got bad theology. They are just ignorant. 


So the Arminian view is that they are just really, really sick and they need help. That is the purpose of the church – to help people. So that is what Charles Grandison Finney was doing. That is why his view – he invented the whole anxious bench, walk the aisles, sing 67 verses of "Just As I Am" because you have to help people to want to be saved. You have got to encourage them to be saved and you have got to emotionally motivate them to get up and walk down the aisle because they are basically good. They don't need to trust in Christ. They don't need to understand the gospel and make a decision. So that is the Arminian view. For the Arminians, Adam sinned and it partially affected humanity. It made them real sick. Depravity isn't total. They are still flopping around a little bit. They are partially alive. So they receive a corrupt nature from Adam, but they don't have the guilt and full corruption. They are not spiritually dead. This is Methodists, Wesleyans, Pentecostals, Holiness groups. 


After listening to Bill talk last night about the fact that Islam is not a peaceful religion and people need to wake up and realize that Islam isn't a peaceful religion. Just imagine if you are a Methodist, especially if you are a modern Methodist… Up here I am talking about historical Methodists. But if you are a modern Methodist where you are somewhere between Pelagian and Arminian you think people are basically good, don't you have a predisposition because of your view of man to want Islam to be a peaceful religion? So if you are a Methodist and you have only heard and been taught anything about Christianity from a Methodist viewpoint, then you are going to be predisposed that way, even if you are the President of the United Sates. See, theology makes a difference. People keep trying to say that Bush is an evangelical. Bush is not an evangelical, people. You go look at Gallop's website and his very tight definition of an evangelical and he concludes only 9% of Americans are evangelicals. You go to NBC or CNN and their very broad definition of an evangelical and they will conclude that as may as 40% of Americans are evangelicals. So this is why we have a problem and why people are blaming evangelicals for a lot of stuff that's not their fault. They aren't even evangelicals. I have got a book on church history and it consistently refers to Charles Grandison Finney as an evangelical. He didn't believe in total depravity or substitutionary atonement or any of those things. How can he be an evangelical? This word means nothing to people any more. 


Anyway this gives you a little bit of a practical understanding of these ideas. They are not just abstract theological concepts that don't affect everyday living. They give us good categories.


Among Calvinists they hold to a federal view in an Augustinian view. In that sense we would agree with this very much and much of our background has to do with different elements of the influence of Calvinism - their high view of Scripture, their low view of man, their high view Christ's work on the cross are things that are very much a part of our thinking. In fact many of the founding fathers of dispensationalism in the 19th century came out of a Presbyterian and Calvinistic background so that Chafer was, Scofield was, and Darby was. 


The federal view is that sin is imputed to humanity because of Adam's sin. Adam is a representative. It is imputed. It's not real. Even though this chart which I took out of the Moody Handbook of Theology argues that the Augustinian view says that sin is imputed they haven't made a distinction because if humanity is actually sinning in Adam it is more that simple imputation; it is an actual involvement. In the federal view, Adam alone sinned; but the human race is affected in the view of how it affects the human race, depravity is total. Sin and guilt are imputed. Presbyterians hold to this as well as others who are influenced by various aspects of reformed theology. 


In the Augustinian view, sin is imputed to humanity because of Adam's sin; but it is because humanity sins in Adam. That is the distinction. So what we are really talking about here is the difference between these two and how to work out some of these distinctions. For them depravity is also total. Sin and guilt are imputed to every human being. This affects many reformers, later Calvinists as well as Lutherans in the classic sense.


You always have to understand that there is a difference between a Wesleyan or a Methodist before 19th century liberalism and after 19th century liberalism. There is a difference between Lutherans before 19th century liberalism and after 19th century liberalism. Unless you are Missouri Synod or a couple of other conservatives (small conservative) denominations – Lutherans aren't Lutherans; Presbyterians aren't Presbyterians; Methodists aren't Methodists. They are liberals! They have all bought into 19th century liberal theology and rejected the fundamentals of the faith. 


The fundamentals of the faith have to do with the infallibility of Scripture, the belief in miracles, the belief in a substitutionary atonement, belief in the virgin birth, belief in a literal return in Jesus Christ and the future and the Second Coming. If you don't believe in those things, then you a liberal in theology. You do not accept biblical authority. That is the foundation. All the major denominations bought into that in the late 19th century. They fragmented and then all the fragments got liberal and they rejoined so you had the United Methodists and the United Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ. So anybody who is "united" is liberal. Just remember that. They aren't flying the friendly skies, they are just liberal


So we have to answer four questions in relation to our understanding of sin here. I have a few more points before we get to the three questions.  I've got 5 more points.


  1. An overview of the argument of Romans 5:12-21 shows that the argument here is based on a comparison and analogy between Adam and the affect of his sin and Christ and the application of His substitution death. Let me say that again. An overview here shows that Paul's argument is taking two things. He is going to compare Adam and Christ. You have this comparison and analogy between Adam on the one hand and the affect of his sin and Christ and the application of His substitutionary atonement on the other hand. If Christ's death is representative and substitutionary, then there must be a representative and substitutionary element to what Adam does in the garden. So those two ideas can't be separated. So you definitively have a federal or representational or positional idea that has to be present in both for the analogy to work.
  2. I am going to develop that a little more. The 8th point develops the other side of it. Adam is able to be the representative of the race because he is genetically related to the race. Christ is able to be the representative of the race because He is genetically related to the race. So both elements as true. There is a representative or positional element and there is a physical and genetic element. They're both true. 
  3. Adam is the designated representative because God knows in His omniscience that any of us put in Adam's place in the garden would have done the same thing. You may think you wouldn't but that's only because hindsight is better than foresight. But God made Adam in such a way that He knew that any of us would eventually have made the decision that Adam made. He is our representative in the same way that as a designated representative his decisions are just as significant as ours. Just as if you lived in a district where you have a representative sent to Congress and they vote on a certain law. Because of the way representational democracy works, that is your vote. You may not like it, but that is your vote. He is a designated representative.


So the 7th point is that an overview shows that there is a comparison between the two and that both have a representational aspect. Point 8, Adam is able to be a representative of the race because he is genetically related to the race and Christ is able to be a substitute for the race because He is genetically related to the race. 9th – Adam is a designated representative because God knows that any of us in his place would do the same thing. His sin therefore is our sin as a representative. 

  1. The entire concept of imputation rests on some sort of representative reality. Why does Adam's sin have to be imputed to me if I am actually there in him somehow doing it in seminalism? It doesn't make sense. It doesn't fit the logic. You don't need to impute something to somebody if they have actually done it. But Adam's sin is imputed to us. Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. So this reinforces a representative positional idea. 
  2. Because the sin had genetic affects on the human body it affects the race that derives from Adam biologically so that the sin nature as we will see has a physical dimension to it that is passed on from generation to generation. That's why you have these physical material terms that are used to describe the sin nature. Romans 6 talks about the body of sin throughout Romans, Galatians, several other places talk about, uses the word flesh to describe the sin nature. So this indicates a physical dimension to the corruption and guilt of Adam that is transmitted through procreation. 


That leads us to these four questions.


  1. What is sin?
  2. What is the penalty for sin?
  3. What is the sin nature's relationship to the corporeal human body?  We are going to stop and look at some of those passages that talk about the body of sin and flesh and finally…
  4. How that is passed on. Now what we are going to see is that the sin nature is passed on corporeally and physically, but the guilt of Adam's original sin is imputed at birth. That is where it starts to connect to what we studied about the transmission – the origin and transmission of human life. 


Last time I gave you several Greek words for sin. I will review those in the middle of this but now I want to go back to the Old Testament and look at three key words in the Old Testament for sin because the New Testament doctrine of sin comes out of the Old Testament. 


  1. The first word is heata or hata. You have two different forms there – heata and hata meaning to miss the mark, to wrong. It is translated to sin, to lead into sin, to purify from sin, or to free from sin.  It is the idea of missing the mark. That is the core idea. The root occurs about 580 times in the Old Testament and is primary word in the Old Testament for sin. It comes out of a basic meaning of missing a mark, missing a target. When you go down to the pistol range and you don't hit the paper, you have sinned. You have missed the mark. That is how it is used in Judges 20:16.


NKJ Judges 20:16 Among all this people were seven hundred select men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair's breadth and not miss.


He is talking about the Benjamites.


Not miss the target - that's the word - hata. We also have it in Proverbs 19:2.


NKJ Proverbs 19:2 Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, And he sins [misses the mark, his way] who hastens with his feet.


He misses the mark. That is he is without knowledge or is ignorant. 


This indicates a guy who stumbles or trips. He misses his way actually. 


NKJ Proverbs 8:36 But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death."


This is the concept of missing a goal. He who misses the goal or fails me. 


So these words all have more of a non-theological sense of simply missing the mark. 


Hata has the idea of breaching civil law. It can relate to criminality, breaking the law. Like all the other words for sin it assumes that there is an absolute objective standard or law that is missed. It is not a subjective idea. Sin is not equated to emotional guilt. Sin is breaking an external objective standard, or law. Hata emphasizes that idea of missing the mark or breaking the law.

  1. Pesa means transgression or rebellion. It can relate to an inner personal violation or a violation of one nation against another, but the word primarily expresses a rebellion against God and His laws. So hata indicates a violation of the law, breaking the law. Pesa indicates a revolt against the standard or against the law. 
  2. Awon which is translated iniquity, evil, guilt or punishment has the idea of deviating from the standard or twisting the standard.

Those are the three primary words that are used.

  1. The dictionary sometimes has a 4th. The 4th is ra which is evil which is a little bit different.


New Testament


We have the words we looked at last time.

  1. Hamartia is virtually synonymous with hata. It means to miss the mark, miss the standard of God's character or His righteousness. 
  2. Then we looked at parabasis which has to do with a fence meaning to transgress or break the law. All of these assume an external standard again.
  3. Paraptoma means to fall by the wayside so it has the idea of transgression, violating moral standards or wrongdoing. 


Those three I covered last time. And I think I also mentioned parakoe.


  1. Parakoe which means an act of disobedience.


Tonight I am going to add four more.


  1. Plane means to wander out of the way. This is used in a few passages. It is usually a figurative use for the word for error. I Thessalonians 2:3, II Thessalonians 2:11(the error of the anti-Christ), Ephesians 4:14, II Peter 3:17 using error for sin.
  2. The next word is anomia. A is the negative prefix; nomia has to do with law. So it has to do with lawless. It is used in I John 3:4 and Romans 4:7. It simply refers to lawlessness. 
  3. Then you have another word with that same alpha privative, adikia. That "a" is like a "un" in English. It negates the concept. It means unrighteousness or unjust. 


NKJ 1 John 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.


All adikia is sin – a very important passage. Adikia is just a synonym for sin. It is unrighteousness. 


  1. Then a fourth new word is paranomia which is that which is contrary to law. Para is against; nomia is from law – against law. 


So you have anomia which is lawless and paranomia which is contrary to law.


 So these words all indicate that there is an external standard; there is a violation of the standard. You miss the standard; you break the standard; you transgress the standard; you twist or distort the standard. All these ideas are what sin is. The standard is God's character.


Now that helps us understand what sin is. So next time – that addresses the first question, what is sin – next time we are going to look at what the penalty for sin is, what the sin nature's relationship is to the corporeal human body and how this is passed on and we will get into the next two verses in Romans 5 and try to understand them. These are very difficult verses to understand.


NKJ Romans 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.


What does that mean?


NKJ Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned


Even though it's not imputed where there is no law. There is no law before Moses.


from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.


The point that he is making is there was death there. Death came through sin because all sinned so obviously it is not the individuals making sinful decisions that brought death to them, but some prior decision which would be Adam's original sin. 


So we will get into 13 and 14 next time and answer the other three questions of our 4 questions.