Copyright © 1993 by Westminster Theological Seminary, cited with permission.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH
IN THE LETTER TO THE ROMANS
Part III: The Obedience of Christ
and the Obedience of the Christian
D. B. GARLINGTON
(2) The Reign of Death from Adam to Moses. Having stated his thesis that
universal sin and death are the effect of one man's disobedience, Paul, in
vv. 13-14, seems compelled to defend what he has written. These verses
commence the "B" section of our passage. Very noticeable, remarks Dunn,
is the speed with which Paul's thought reverts to the law—a further indi-
cation that it was the chief point of tension between Paul the Christian and
the traditional emphases of Judaism.94 In particular, v. 12 appears, to the
Jewish mind, to contain a puzzling proposition. Given Paul's consistent
denial of the existence of the law before Sinai, how could there have been
sin strictly speaking, since, presumably, there was no law according to
which sin could be reckoned? Sin, after all, is disregard of the Torah. It is this
which Paul now seeks to clarify.
His explanation is a return to 4:15b, ou$ de> ou]k no<moj ou]de> parabasij,
where these words are appended to the statement of the previous part of the
verse, o[ ga>r no<moj o]rgh>n katerga<zetai. By claiming, in 5:12, that all have
sinned, Paul has implied that they have rejected God's law and have,
therefore, been the recipients of wrath (death). This, of course, raises a
historical problem: if the law (of Moses) works wrath, and if sin is not
reckoned apart from law, how could there have been sin and death before
Sinai? For a sizable segment of Judaism anyway, the answer was obvious:
the Torah has existed from the dawn of history, and the nations are exposed
to wrath because they have spurned the eternal Torah. As early as Ben Sira
this idea is in evidence: Abraham himself kept none other than the law
(of Moses) during a time of testing (Sir 44:20). Afterward the author of
Jubilees would make the same claim (24.11; cf. 23.10), as does Kidd. 4.4.95
Even more striking in Jubilees is the pre-existence of the law on "heavenly
94 Dunn, Romans 1.274.
95 See Garlington, Obedience, 38.
tablets,"96 "the eternal books always before the Lord'' (Jub. 39.7).97 The
eternity of the law is likewise the conviction of
Sir 24:9, 33; Bar 4:1;
T. Naph. 3.1-2. The corresponding attitude toward the Gentiles is illustrat-
ed by Ben Sira's assurance (Sir 12:6) that God hates sinners and will inflict
punishment on the ungodly (a]segbei?j). To this may be added Sir 36:1-10,
according to which the sage's fury was called forth by the desecration of the
vividly present in Jub. 22.16; Pss. Sol. 17.21-27.
In rather stark contrast, Paul allows that there is an era prior to and
distinguishable from that of the Torah (v. 13a). A law has been broken, but
it is not the law of the Sinai covenant; it is, rather, some law in existence
before the birth of
distinction between the covenant people and the remainder of humanity;
it is this law which exposes
nations, so that death reigned over all who lived from Adam to Moses
(v. 14). Vv. 13-14, therefore, can plausibly be interpreted as the apostle's
denial of a recognized tenet of Jewish theology: for him there was a period
during which the Torah was not in existence.98 In turn, this would be a
denial of the perspective of Sir 10:19, according to which the non-Jewish
segment of the human race is unworthy of honor because it has transgressed
the commandments. The Gentiles, in other words, are not worthy of death
because they have violated the Torah.99
Even without the aid of these historical documents, it is certain that Paul
died as well as the uncircumcised, because both were guilty of law-
breaking. Paul thus appeals to the violation of this pre-Mosaic law as being
a great leveler of mankind. In the words of 3:23, all have sinned and fall
short of the glory of God: circumcision exempts no one from involvement in
the effects of Adam's sin. It is just this universalism of sin that sets the stage
for Paul's denomination of Adam as the "type of the coming one," inas-
much as "the universal impact of his one act prefigures the universal im-
pact of Christ's act":100 as Adam is ultimately responsible for the death of
96 E.g., Jub. 16.29;
31.32; 32.10, 15, 21-26, 28; 33.10. See further R. Banks, Jesus
and the Law in the Synoptic Tradition (SNTSMS 28; Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1975) 68-69; id., "The Eschatological Role of Law in Pre- and Post-Christian Jewish Thought," in Rec-
onciliation and Hope: New Testament Essays on Atonement and Eschatology
Presented to L. L.
Morris on His 60th Birthday (ed. R. Banks;
97 On the eternity of the law in Jewish literature, see Banks, Jesus and the Law, 67-85 (cf.
pp. 49-64); id., "Law," 173-85; W. D.
Davies, Torah in the Messianic Age and/or
the Age to
Come (SBLMS 7; Philadelphia: Society of Biblical Literature, 1952) e.g., p. 84.
98 The doctrine of the law's eternity later developed into the rabbinic Torah-ontology. See
and Hellenism: Studies in their Encounter in
Hellenistic Period (London: SCM, 1974) 171-75.
99 Contra E. Jüngel, "Das Gesetz zwischen Adam and Christus: Eine theologische Studie
zu Röm 5, 12-21," ZTK 60 (1963) 50-57.
100 Moo, Romans, 346. Cf. Cranfield, Romans 1.283.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 283
Jew and Gentile, so Christ is ultimately credited with the restoration of
To summarize, the purpose of vv. 13-14 is twofold: (1) to clarify how on
Paul's understanding of the law there could be sin and, consequently, death
before Sinai; (2) to involve
the people of the law were no more immune to Adam's fall than the nations.
His fundamental proposition is stated in v. 13b: a[marti<a de> ou]k
e]llogei?tai, i.e., "is not entered into the ledger against" (Black), so as to
hold one liable in judgment,102 mh> o@ntoj no<mou. By focusing on the nexus
of sin and the law, he states what would have been perfectly acceptable to
the synagogue: since sin by definition is meaningless apart from divine law,
some law must have existed in the period from Adam to Moses. However,
given the conviction that the law has been in the world from the Garden
it could be agreed that sin was a reality before Sinai, it was at least ques-
tionable that there was an era a@xri no<mou. In making such a claim, Paul
appears to proceed presuppositionally on grounds derived from the Penta-
teuch itself, which gives no
the establishment of her national covenant. Given the order of events in the
biblical record, Paul's assertion that the period
no<mou (a]po> ]
me<xri Mwu<se<wj, v. 14) witnessed sin and the consequent reign of death
stands, and on that basis he is able to reason that before Sinai a law was in
existence, whose transgression accounts for mankind's present plight. It its
what the Bible actually says which provides the force of the strongly ad-
versative a]lla< in v. 14. Far from sin not being reckoned, death is regarded
as the reigning monarch from the creation until the giving of the law--
"incontrovertible proof of the presence of sin in this period." 103
As is true more than once in 5:12-19, Paul's logic is not made explicit,
leaving us to discern his intentions from the broader setting of Romans. In
one regard, his justification of v. 12 is a statement of the obvious, i.e., the
reality of death from Adam to Moses; yet, in another, he appears to beg the
question, viz., the existence of a law prior to and distinguishable from that
procedure in Romans to bypass the law and return to creation, Paul builds
on presuppositions already established in 2:14-15. That is to say, by virtue
of bearing the image of God, all humans are in possession of the law written
on the heart, whose function, as confirmed by the co-witness of conscience,
101 Paul's typology seems to be inclusive of at least two other ingredients: (1) Adam and
Christ inaugurate respectively the old and new creations; (2) both set a pattern for others to
follow, either disobedience leading to death or obedience leading to life. On Adam as the type
of Christ, see J. P. Versteeg,
Is Adam a "Teaching Model" in
the New Testament? (
Presbyterian & Reformed, 1977) 8-15 (with further literature).
102 Contra Quek, "Adam and Christ," 73, e]llogei?tai does have to do with individual
responsibility. The other Pauline occurrence of e]lloge<w is in Phlm 18.
103 Black, Romans, 89.
was to regulate the creation covenant and still serves to link mankind to its
Maker (cf. 1:32). Death, therefore, was universal in the pre-Mosaic period
precisely because of the violation of this law, not the Torah.104
The force of his argument resides in the assertion that death reigned even
over those who did not sin e]pi>
t&? o[moiw<mati th?j paraba<sewj ]
in 8:3, o[moi<wma here means an "exact likeness."105 We may say that
Adam's descendants did not willfully rebuff a clearly revealed command
(the normal meaning of para<basij
in Paul), as
more to the point, "the likeness of Adam's tresspass" indicates that they did
not do precisely what Adam did., i.e., eat a piece of forbidden fruit in the
Garden of Eden. Even so, they die because their sin in principle is an act
of apostasy from God. In suppressing the knowledge of God inscribed on the
heart (1:18-23), humanity in the first Adam has rejected God himself and,
as a result, suffers the fate of Adam. It is especially noteworthy that Adam
and Eve ate from "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." "Good"
and "evil" mean not so much "right" and "wrong" as the good of acknowl-
edging God the Creator and the evil of renouncing him (see 2:7-10;
15:2; 16:19). How this can be true of
idolatry motif of the early portion of Romans as it climaxes at 2:22. In her
rejection of the gospel,
of God as revealed eschatologically in Christ.
5. The Obedient Last Adam and the New Humanity
It is by comparison with Adam that Paul's real purpose in 5:12-19
emerges. At the very least, we can say, with Moo, that if the universal
consequences of Adam's sin is the assumption of Paul's argument, the power
of Christ's act to cancel those consequences is its goal.106 But to state it more
fully: corresponding to Adam's disobedience = apostasy, there is the obe-
dience = perseverance of the last Adam, which ensures the obedience =
perseverance of his people and their conformity to his image (8:29). Our
attention now will be given to vv. 15-17 and thereafter to vv. 18-19, the
completion of the sentence commenced in v. 12.
Vv. 15-17 are normally taken to be a qualification of the incompleted
proposition of v. 12, particularly as the concluding portion of v. 14 assigns
to Adam the role of typifying Christ. Therefore, on this view, in vv. 15-17
Paul labors to clarify that there are important respects in which Adam and
Christ differ, notwithstanding their typological correspondence. Christ., in
104 Cf. Calvin, Romans, 113; Stuart, Romans, 232. D. Zeller, Der Brief an die Römer (RNT;
the law is not fundamental."
105 Dunn, Romans 1.276, 316-17; id., Christology, 111; Wilckens,
1054. Stuart says that e]pi> t&? o[moiw<mati th?j paraba<sewj ]
106 Moo, Romans, 327.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 285
short, is distanced from Adam as much as possible.107 Without, however,
denying the element of contrast in these verses, as seen especially in the
abundance of the grace manifested in Christ, C. C. Caragounis has argued
plausibly that their function is not to deviate from the commenced com-
parison of v. 12 and thus preclude a misunderstanding of it. It is, rather, to
draw out more particularly the comparison of Adam and Christ, thus laying
the groundwork for the inference of v. 18, which connects not only with
v. 12 but also with vv. 15-17.108 His exegesis makes good sense, considering
that a type, by the nature of the case, stresses the continuity or similarity
between two entities. It is also supported by
vv. 12-19 as a whole.
If we may follow Caragounis further, v. 15a is a rhetorical question: "But
does not the free gift operate just like the trespass did?" The question,
introduced by ou], implies a positive response, which is affirmed by v. 15b.
Verse 16a carries on with another rhetorical question: "And is not the free
gift transmitted in the same way as sin was transmitted by the one who
sinned?" The answer is again yes, as confirmed by the statement of v. 16b.
The first question is concerned with the effect produced by each of the two
heads of humanity, while the second focuses on the agents of those effects.109
It is on the basis of these questions and answers that Paul, in v. 18, can
finally complete the analogy initiated in v. 12. That he should intensify his
analogy in these verses is consonant with the fact that although other OT
characters serve to prefigure Christ, the typological relationship between
Adam and Christ is on a plane all its own, inasmuch as both men inau-
gurate the two decisive epochs of human history. For Paul, comments Gop-
pelt, Adam is not merely an illustrative figure, but a "prophetic personality
placed in Scripture by God."110
These verses exhibit several conspicuous features. One is the qal wahomer
argument (again a minori ad majus): if Adam's trespass has brought con-
demnation and death, how much more has Christ's obedience brought
righteousness and life (a return to vv. 9-10 of chap. 5). Another is the
repetition of the phrases "the free gift," "the free gift of righteousness,"
"the free gift in the grace of the one man," "the grace of God," and "the
abundance of grace." Within the horizons set by the Roman letter, these
expressions of the freeness of grace stress that justification and life do not
lems," 328-29; Elliot, Rhetoric, 230-31; Berkouwer, Sin, 508-9; Barth, Shorter Commentary,
108 C. C. Caragounis, "Romans 5.15-16 in the Context of 5.12-21: Contrast or Compar-
ison," NTS 31 (1985) 142-48. Goppelt remarks that Paul places in contrast the accomplish-
ments and consequences of the mediators, not the mediators themselves (Typos, 136).
109 Caragounis, "Romans 5.15-16," 145. "In their acts and in the effect they have on others
Adam and Christ are related to one another as a photographic negative to its positive print"
(Goppelt, Typos, 129).
110 Goppelt, Typos, 130; Bruce, Romans, 131 n. 1.
depend on "covenantal nomism" (4:4-5), only on faith in Christ. As Käse-
mann puts it, the dwrea> dikaiosu<nhj (v. 17) is God's power which takes
the concrete form of a gift: "With an epexegetical genitive the gift is defined
as righteousness which is Christ's work pure and simple."111 These affir-
mations of grace in 5:15-17 are founded on the proposition of 3:24, in which
the grace of justification is connected with the now-revelation of the right-
eousness of God apart from the law (3:21). And it is just this eschatological
slant of "grace" in Paul which is extraordinarily relevant for our passage,
because grace "marks a new epoch and a new dominion of power that is
antithetical to that of the power of sin."112 In other words, the presence of
grace signals a new creation (cf. Gal 5:5; John 1:17).
Second, there is the continued stress on the "one man," Adam or
Given Paul's placement of
tition of "one man"
underscores that Christ, not
sible for the new creation blessings of righteousness and life. The parallel of
1 Cor 15:45-47 informs us that just as Christ is the "last Adam," so he is
also the "second man." That is to say, he is the eschatological Adam,
beyond whom there is no other, and the second man, before whom there is
only one, the first Adam. "He cannot, therefore, be compared with one
man within Israelite salvation history (such as Abraham or Moses), but can
only be juxtaposed to the originator of the old humanity."113 As Bruce
notes, Moses is conspicuously bypassed, because, as Paul will explain, the
law given through him was never intended to be permanent.114 Therefore,
within the whole scope of salvation history there is room for only two
persons, two beginnings—and
Beyond Paul's interaction with
one man, either for ill or for good, calls to mind again the principle that like
begets like: Adam and Christ correspond typologically as creators of their
respective races, with each community bearing the image of its creator.115
Whereas the one trespass of the one man has brought about condemnation
and death, the grace of God in the one man Jesus Christ has produced
111 Käsemann, Romans, 155. The gift character of righteousness in v. 17 is underscored by
lamba<nontej. Jüngel ("Gesetz," 63) further notes that xa<risma and xa<rij (vv. 15, 16, 17) for
Paul have to do with God's (eschatological) act.
112 Beker, Paul, 265. See as well the remarks on "freedom" (ibid., 269-71).
113 O. Michel, Der Brief an die Römer
(MeyerK 4; 14th ed; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht,
114 Bruce, Romans, 128. "In his masterful
view of human history, Moses and
only a chapter of minor importance" (Goppelt, Typos, 130).
115 These communities are comprised of the "all" and the "many" (vv. 15, 18, 19). The two
adjectives are used interchangeably and reflect a Semitic idiom: "many" (an inclusive term)
are "all" who belong to a certain group (e.g., Dan 12:2). On the usage, see Brandenburger,
Adam, 221; B. F. Meyer, "Many (= All) are Called, but Few (= Not All) are Chosen," NTS 36
(1990) 89-97. In the present case, the "many" are the "all" who constitute the old and new
humanities respectively. Especially pertinent to the former is Isa 53:11: the Servant of Yahweh
causes "many" to be righteous.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 287
righteousness and life. The contrasting states of the two humanities corre-
spond to those depicted in vv. 1-11 of this chapter. As in that earlier por-
trait, the condition of the old and new humanities respectively is not to be
restricted to the realm of the forensic, for the simple reason that the cate-
gories in question are comprehensive by definition. The word "condem-
nation" (v. 16) is qualified within this context by "sin" (vv. 12-13) and
"death" (vv. 14, 17), both of which transcend the juridical and have to do
with the consequences of man's apostasy considered in toto. Likewise, the
triad dikai<wma-dikaiosu<nh-zwh<, derived from OT covenantal ideology,
speaks of a renewed relationship with the Creator.
Hence, as we shall argue presently, just as Adam, by his disobedience/
apostasy, was responsible for the disobedience/apostasy of his race, Christ,
by his obedience/perseverance, has restored in his community the creation
image of God and enables it to persevere in that capacity, where the first
Adam and the old humanity failed. In the words of 2:7-10, the new hu-
manity in Christ fulfills the goal originally set before Adam, the quest for
glory, honor, and immortality. These are they who do "good," the specific
"good" of keeping faith with the God of the covenant. In this light, it is not
irrelevant that, in the face of the threat posed by certain (Jewish?) teachers,
Paul desires the Romans to be sofou>j ei]j to> a]gaqo<n, a]kerai<ouj de> ei]j to>
kako<n (16:19). In other words, the potential existed for church members
actually to abandon Christ, if they followed the lead of the deceivers (v. 18),
who play a Satan-like role (cf. 2 Cor 11:3-4, 13-15).
Third, v. 17, as it epitomizes the intensified
analogy of the two
vv. 15-16, draws on the language of kingship. In the case of the first Adam,
sin became a king; but, in the case of the last Adam, those who have
received his grace themselves become kings through him. Whereas death
reigned through the one man, the new people reign in life through the one.
The language of reigning reminds us that Adam was created to be the king
of creation. Therefore, for the people of God to reign in life means that, in
Christ, they are able to achieve what the first Adam forfeited by sin (cf.
The thought broken off in v. 12 is finally completed in vv. 18-19. The
"therefore" (a@ra ou#n) commencing v. 18 likely draws on two sources. The
first is certainly v. 12; but, in all probability, the intervening verses con-
tribute as well to Paul's inference, primarily because the vocabulary of
vv. 18-19 is influenced by those verses
(characteristic of the "
schema), as confirmed by Caragounis' study. Verse 18 is a very terse ellip-
tical sentence stating the
relationship between the two
is bound up with unraveling the construction, which involves supplying the
missing elements, drawn from what has been said up to this point. As BDF
(§481) note, the verse would be unintelligible apart from the long exposition
of the preceding verses. Yet within Paul's overall flow of thought its purpose
is again to emphasize "the correspondence between the two contrasting
causes (dia<) and ultimate ends (ei]j) and in between their equivalent ex-
tension (ei]j)." It can be translated something like: "Therefore, as through
one trespass sin abounded to all men so that they were condemned, so also
through one act of righteousness grace has abounded to all men so that they
experience the justification of life." Verse 19 thereafter explains more in
particular what is entailed in this contrast and comparison.
Besides the continued correlation of "one" and "all," by means of which
Paul again calls to mind "a single action which inaugurated a whole ep-
och,"116 the leading terms in v. 18 are para<ptwma and dikai<wma, predi-
cated of Adam and Christ respectively: di ] e[no>j paraptw<matoj ei]j pa<ntaj
a]nqrw<pouj ei]j kata<krima is balanced by di] e[no>j dikaiw<matoj ei]j pa<ntaj
a]nqrw<pouj ei]j dikai<wsin zwh?j. The word para<ptwma, paralleled by
parakoh< in v. 19, retains its meaning from vv. 15 and 17, i.e., Adam's
breach of faith when, desiring to be as God, he ate the forbidden fruit.
Likewise, dikai<wma, matched by u[pakoh< in v. 19, looks back to v. 16. Moo
is right that the parallelism of v. 18 dictates that as para<ptwma refers to
something Adam did, so dikai<wma relates to something Christ did, his "act
of righteousness."117 As Cranfield states it so well: "We take it that by
Christ's dikai<wma Paul means not just His atoning death but the obedience
of His life as a whole, His loving God with all His heart and soul and mind
and strength, and His neighbour with complete sincerity, which is the
righteous conduct which God's law requires."118
Protestant exegesis has tended to assume that the usage of dikai<wma in
v. 18 is distinct from that in v. 16, where it is taken to be "justification," set
within a strictly forensic frame. However, apart from assigning a different
sense to the term than it bears in v. 18 (with no particular hint from Paul),
the interpretation is flawed in not taking sufficiently into account the
Hebraic/covenantal backdrop of the dik- family of words.119 What is in
view in v. 16 is not merely a declaration and a resultant status, but a
commitment to a relationship, evidenced by the holiness of the covenant
and a determination to persevere in it. It is such a wholehearted devotion
to the Creator/creature relationship, in v. 16, which is the effect of God's
free grace in Christ. The conclusion is reinforced by the recollection that
underlying Rom 5:1 is Isaiah 32,
result of which is shalom.
Therefore, seeing that the semantic field of vv. 18-19 is largely deter-
mined by vv. 15-17, the inference drawn by Paul in v. 18 is to the effect that
116 Dunn, Romans 1.283.
117 Moo, Romans, 354.
118 Cranfield, Romans 1.289. Cf. Leenhardt, Romans, 146.
119 Cf. Wedderburn's criticism of Bultmann, "Structure," 351 n. 5. In Rom 1:32 and 2:26
dikai<wma is the behavior required by the law written on the heart, for which Gentiles are held
accountable; in 8:4 it summarizes the obligation of the Sinai covenant as fulfilled in the
believer, who, by virtue of the work of Christ and the indwelling Spirit, walks not after the
flesh but the Spirit.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 289
Christ has rendered to God the dikai<wma required of his covenant partners,
offsetting Adam's para<ptwma to and its consequent kata<krima, which is not
merely the sentence of condemnation, but the state of rebellion so fright-
fully depicted in 1:18-32. This being so, the dikai<wma of the Christian in
v. 16 (paralleled by dikaiosu<nh in v. 17) matches that of Christ in v. 18: the
former is the product of the latter.
Noteworthy in Paul's explanation of the effect of Christ's dikai<wma to is the
phrase dikai<wsij zwh?j. As Ridderbos explains, zwh< is the life in which the
salvation given in Christ consists, of which the believer has a present assur-
ance.120 Yet what is the relation of dikai<wsij to the genitive zwh?j? I would
propose that inasmuch as Paul's genitives (and datives) frequently ignore
established conventions, it is plausible to see the present instance as a min-
gling of various types of genitive: qualitative (Käsemann), result (Cranfield,
Sanday/Headlam), direction or goal (Brandenburger), and epexegetical.121
But whatever grammatical tags are applied, Leenhardt's comments are
particularly relevant. The phrase ei]j dikai<wsin zwh?j speaks of "a justi-
fication which introduces us to divine life"; and given the close connection
of present and future eschatological life in Paul, dikai<wsij zwh?j suggests
"equally the idea of a justification which is here and now realized in a life
which concretely practises righteousness, as will shortly be said (6:11, 13,
16, 18, 19, 22, 23). It will be noted that Christ's obedience of which our text
speaks becomes also the believer's obedience, an obedience which leads to
the practise of righteousness (u[pakoh?j ei]j dikaiosu<nhn, 6:16)."122 From
this perspective, dikai<wsij is the life of the age to come actualized in the
present experience of the believer.
Paul's portrait of the two
stress the factual obedience of Christ as opposed to the factual disobedience
of Adam, "in order to show that Christ creates a humanity of righteous
men, just as Adam had created a humanity of sinners." 123 We may observe,
with Elliot, that in so saying Paul expands a sin-forgiveness typology to a
"deeper death-life typology." "Adam's transgression has made necessary
not just the countervailing entry of expiation for sin in Christ: it has occa-
sioned the cosmic dominion of Death, calling for the creation of life from the
dead in Christ."124 In short, dikai<wsij zwh?j is a compendious way of
expressing what the dikai<wma of Christ has accomplished in all: his lifetime
120 Ridderbos, Romeinen, 121.
121 M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek: Illustrated by Examples
Instituti Biblici, 1963) 17; N. Turner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek. Volume III: Syntax
(Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1963) 214; J. B. Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul (repr.
122 Leenhardt, Romans, 148.
124 Elliot, Rhetoric, 231. He continues: "Xa<rij is not simply the cancelling of transgression
... but is a cosmic power that deposes Death and restores ‘righteousness’, that is, the cosmic
‘right’ of divine will, and brings life to what was dead" (ibid., 231-32). Cf. Beker, Paul, 190-91.
of conformity to the covenant engenders the same in his people. zwh<,
consequently, cannot be restricted to future eschatological life, because this
is the life imparted at creation, whose raison d’être is the glory of God. Thus;
dikai<wsij zwh?j means the presence of the new creation.
Disobedience is of the essence of sin, and the revelation of the new obedience in
Christ is eschatological salvation. Christ has thus been exalted to be the hidden
Ruler of the world. . . . His people, being obedient, participate for the time being
in the freedom from the powers which he has won and will one day share openly
in the kingdom (basileia, v. 17b). Even more plainly than before, the dawn of the
new creation is now proclaimed.125
In a manner akin to the parallelism of 5:9-10, v. 19 complements its
counterpart, v. 18, by the use of synonymous terms. Specifically, "trespass"
(para<ptwma) and "act of righteousness" (dikai<wma) in v. 18 are replaced
by "disobedience" (parakoh<) and "obedience" (u[pakoh<). Also, "con-
demnation" and "justification of life" in v. 18 are matched by "sinners"
and "righteous." Here the focus is on what kind of people individuals have
become as a result of the work of Adam and Christ respectively: by his
disobedience, Adam has turned his posterity into sinners, while Christ, by
his obedience, has made his people righteous. The question arises whether
v. 19 is the basis or the explanation of v. 18. The two, of course, are not
mutually exclusive, because the one verse could clarify the other by pro-
viding its basis. But whatever the technical relation of vv. 18 and 19 may
be, it is consonant with the argument developed in this essay to see the two
destinies of condemnation and rightwising as based on the two conditions
into which people are put—"sinners" and "righteous." 126
That Paul should speak of the acts of Adam and Christ as "disobedi-
ence" and "obedience" and of the condition of their respective offspring as
"sinners" and "righteous" comes as no surprise, especially given the con-
notations of apostasy and fidelity connected with the respective terms in the
OT and Jewish literature, which themselves are rooted in Genesis 3.127
Adam's parakoh< is his renunciation of both Yahweh the Creator and his
own identity as his image. By signing a "declaration of independence," he
125 Käsemann, Romans, 157. Cf. Beker, Paul, 270-71. On zwh< as a present reality, see further
Käsemann, Romans, 155-58.
126 As suggested by Moo, Romans, 357, though he is disinclined to accept it himself.
127 Cf. Käsemann, Romans, 157. Dunn (Jesus, Paul, and the Law, 61-88), has shown how
"sinner" in particular is a factional or sectarian term, describing others from the vantage
point of the members of a group, who are the "righteous" (e.g., 1 Enoch 91-107; Pss. Sol. 4:1-.8;
T. Moses 7). Normally, the "sinners" would be deemed disloyal to God's covenant. Cf. Dar-
lington, Obedience, 97-98. An illuminating usage of one of the antonyms of "sinner" is ex-
hibited by Ps 32:6, where David calls upon dysH lk, "everyone loyal to Yahweh's covenant,"
to pray (A. A. Anderson, The Book of Psalms [NCB; London: Paternoster, 1972] 1.258). It is not
accidental that MydysH in subsequent Jewish history became the technical term for those who
distinguished themselves by their observance of the law and their opposition to Hellenism.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 291
chose for himself and his descendants the path of autonomy and self-
determination.128 In so doing, he has brought disaster, kata<krima, upon
those who, thanks to him, have become a[martwloi<, apostates from the
primal creation covenant. By contrast, Christ's u[pakoh<, his perseverance
or life-long commitment to do his Father's will, culminating in his "obe-
dience unto death" (Phil 2:8),129 has turned former a[martwloi< into
di<kaioi, covenant-keepers, who now render to King Jesus "the obedience
of faith" (1:5; 16:26) and reign as kings with him (5:17). In short, Christ,
the image of the invisible God, restores the Creator/creature distinction by
rendering to God the allegiance expected of Adam: "Christ . . . shatters
subjection to the Adamic world of sin and death by setting the world before
its Creator again and by setting us in the state of creatureliness."130 Given
the specificity of a[martwloi< and di<kaioi, the important consequence is
that the Christian does not remain a "sinner." In a strictly biblical per-
spective (as distinct from a systematic-theological perspective), rather than
being simul iustus et peccator, the believer says of himself, tunc peccator—nunc
iustus ("once a sinner, now righteous").131
Crucial to the interpretation of v. 19 is the verb kaqi<sthmi. Moo, fol-
lowing Oepke, observes that this verb never designates a judgment or con-
sideration which does not conform to the actual state of the people
involved.132 People, in other words, were really made sinners or righteous
through the disobedience and obedience of the two men respectively. How-
ever, he maintains that being made sinners or righteous is to be understood
"in light of Paul's typical forensic categories," according to which "right-
eous" means not to be morally upright, but "to be judged acquitted,
cleared of all charges, in the heavenly courtroom." 133 The many are made
128 See Barrett, Adam, 11-13. In Adam one sees the opposite of grace, self-seeking and
self-centered desire (ibid., 15; see further pp. 16-1,7, 20).
129 It is artificial to restrict Christ's obedience to his death. His u[pakoh<, just as his
dikai<wma, is his perseverance in the whole of God's demand, although, from another per-
spective, his obedience may be identified with his "dying" (2 Cor 4:10) or his "baptism"
(Mark 10:38), i.e., the whole course of his suffering. Cf. Godet, Romans, 226; Cranfield, Romans
1.291; Bruce, Romans, 127; Michel, Römer, 191; R. N. Longenecker, "The Obedience of Christ
in the Theology of the Early Church," in Reconciliation and Hope, 142-52. Paul's insistence that
Christ was obedient unto death implies clearly that the cross was but the climax of a whole life
of obedience. Barrett shows how point for point in Phil 2:5-11 Christ's whole obedience
corresponds positively to the disobedience of Adam (Adam, 16).
130 Käsemann, Romans, 156.
131 Beker, Paul, 216.
132 Moo, Romans, 358; A. Oepke, TDNT 3.445. According to Oepke, "Pronounced right-
eous, they will then normally be righteous as well." Oepke is careful, however, not to exclude
the judicial sentence of God, "which on the basis of the act of the head determines the destiny
of all" (ibid., 446). Cranfield's suggestion (Romans 1.291 n. 1) that kaqi<sthmi in the passive
may have been chosen by Paul as the true passive equivalent of gi<nomai makes good sense in
this context. Cf. Dunn, Romans 1.284; Käsemann, Romans, 157; Wilckens, Römer 1.328;
Brandenburger, Adam, 233.
133 Moo, Romans, 359. Cf. Berkouwer, Sin, 498-99; Bultmann, "Adam and Christ," 159.
"sinners" and "righteous" because God considers them to be such by
virtue of the acts of Adam and Christ. Moo thus approves of an underlying
notion of imputation.134
This construction, nonetheless, begs at least two important questions:
(1) Are Paul's categories typically forensic? and (2) What would Paul have
understood by "forensic"? Since it is impossible to give anything like a full
reply, it must suffice to say, in addressing the first question, that Paul's
thought-forms can only artificially be restricted to the forensic. They are,
in fact, cosmic in breadth, as derived from the creation, in which a relation-
ship was established between God and his image-bearers, or, as de Boer
puts it, Paul's framework is cosmological-apocalyptic.135 This applies not
least to the vocabulary of righteousness. If righteousness by definition is a
commitment to the covenant relationship, and if, as many have argued,
righteousness on the divine side is ultimately God's fidelity to his creation,
then the many in Christ have been made righteous in the sense that the
primal creation bond has been renewed: the image of God has been re-
stored, and a basic change of attitude has taken place in those who have
been reconciled to God through the death of his Son.
As to the other question, even if there are forensic features in Paul's
theology—which is not at all being denied—what are we to understand by
"forensic"? I would submit, as intimated in the second article in this series,
that the term is to be taken within the parameters of the Hebrew court-
room. It is commonly recognized that lying behind Paul's use of dikaio<w
is the Hebrew qdc, particularly in the hiphil. Yet, if we may draw again on
J. A. Ziesler's findings, while this verb is normally forensic, it is forensic in
the Hebrew sense, i.e., a "restoration of the community or covenant relation-
ship," which means that it cannot be separated from the ethical altogether:
"The restoration is not merely to a standing, but to an existence in the relationship.”136
134 As do Morris, Romans, 240;
Romeinen, 122; E. E. Ellis, Paul's Use of the Old Testament (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1957) 60;
A. A. Hoekema, Created in God's Image (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1986) 162-67; Versteeg,
Adam, 23; R. B. Gaffin, "Adam," in New Dictionary of Theology (eds. S. B. Ferguson et al.;
135 De Boer, Defeat of Death, 163. See further Goppelt,
Typos, 209-37; Elliot, Rhetoric, 230-32;
cf. Scroggs, Adam, 57-74. Without setting apocalyptic over against salvation-history, our exe-
gesis is in harmony with the heart of Beker's work, viz., that the apostle's teaching centers on
the apocalyptic triumph of God in Christ. Apocalyptic categories, Beker maintains, are not
a provincial idiosyncrasy of Paul's; they are, rather, interwoven with profound Christological,
anthropological, and ethical issues (Paul, 172). In this connection, Beker maintains that Paul's
interpretation of the death of Christ is remarkably apocalyptic, inasmuch as the major apoca-
lyptic forces for him are those ontological powers which determine the human situation within
the context of God's created order and which comprise the field of death, sin, the law, and the
flesh (ibid., 189).
136 J. A. Ziesler,
The Meaning of Righteousness in Paul: A Linguistic and
Enquiry (SNTSMS 20; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972) 20 (italics mine). Cf. J. F
Reumann, Righteousness in the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982) 16. The argument
gains in force if, as many think, Isa 53:11 stands behind the present text: the Servant of Yahweh
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 293
To put it in more traditional terms: "in his summing up, Paul includes in
one statement both justification as a forensic acquittal from guilt, and ac-
tual salvation from sin."137 In brief, we have been reconciled to God
through the life and death of his Son (Rom 5:1-11), making us "righteous"
in the pointedly Hebrew sense of a renewed devotion to the Lord and his
The verb kaqi<sthmi is placed by Paul in both the aorist and the future
tenses. The former speaks of every person born into the world "in Adam";
the latter of those who enter the new creation "in Christ." Wedderburn's
observation is much to the point: "the characteristics of the old age are put
in the aorist even though that old age is not wholly done away with, and
the characteristics of the new age are put in the future even though the
firstfruits of that age are already with us."138 Katastaqh<sontai thus corre-
sponds to basileu<sousin in v. 17 and to z&opoihqh<sontai in 1 Cor 15:22.
Syntactically, the future may be taken as "logical," indicating, to adapt
exercised and will continue to be exercised throughout future generations
of mankind." 139 However, in light of Wedderburn's comments, the tense
can be labeled "eschatological," as long as it is kept in mind that the
eschaton has already begun with Christ's present reign.
To be sure, the righteousness of the people of Christ flows from their
union with him. As Paul puts it so succinctly elsewhere, in him we have
become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21; note how vv. 19-20 correlate
reconciliation with righteousness, as does Romans 5). And it is precisely
Paul's doctrine of believers e]n Xrist&? which undergirds the parallelism of
5:19 (and the whole Adam/Christ typology): as in Adam all die, so in
Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor 15:22). Because Paul contemplates a
union with either Adam or Christ, it can be through their respective acts of
disobedience and obedience that the "all" and the "many" become sinners
or righteous. No more than in 2:13 does Paul envisage a scenario in which
one attains to righteousness on one's own. If like begets like, the di<kaioi are
those in whom Christ has been reproduced. To state it in other terms, the
condition of being di<kaioi is the gift of God. Rom 6:22-23 puts it just this
way. Paul tells the Romans, "you have your fruit unto sanctification, whose end
is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal
life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eternal life is the eventuation of a process of
sanctification, not as something earned ("wages"), but as the product of
"causes many to be righteous" (qydc qydcy). See Ziesler, Righteousness, 19. As in all the
Isaianic Servant songs, Isaiah 53 occurs in the broader setting of the restoration of the remnant of
137 Dodd, Romans, 83.
138 Wedderburn, "Structure," 352-53. Likewise Brandenburger, Adam, 234; Porter, "Orig-
inal Sin," 15 ("Christ is the first fruit of what is still expected, hence the form of expecta-
tion—the future form—is used").
grace from start to finish. Besides, as was clarified in the previous essay,
ultimately obedience and disobedience are reducible to faith and
6. Christ, not the Torah, the Source of Life
We may round off our exposition by offering some brief comments on
vv. 20-21, which lie outside the Adam/Christ discussion proper and form
the transition into chap. 6. In these verses Paul returns again (from 3:19-20;
4:15) to the function of the law as a revealer of sin and thereby a worker of
wrath. It can be inferred that he does so to combat that aspect of Jewish
theology which asserted that Sinai restored a proper relationship between
and, accordingly, that membership in
tion from the effects of Adam's sin.
Various Jewish sources give voice to the conviction that the law eo ipso
insures life. Ben Sira uses the actual phrase "the law of life" (Sir 17:11;
45:5), while the author of Baruch commends to his readers "the command-
ments of life" (Bar 3:9). These commandments are no less than the very
who forsake her will die" (Bar 4:1). See also 4 Ezra 14.30; Pss. Sol. 14.2; cf.
4 Ezra 7.129.142 Hand in hand went the equally strong conviction that the
law was eternal and unchangeable (e.g., Sir 24:9, 33; Bar 4:1; Jub. 16.29;
31.32; 32.10, 15, 21-26, 28; 33.10;
Over against these traditions, Paul's stance is altogether conspicuous. For
one thing, the verb pareish?lqen in v. 20 implies that the law is not eternal:
its entrance onto the stage of history was occasioned only by the advent
(ei]sh?lqen, v. 12) of sin.143 More startling yet is the law's actual function--
to intensify the problem created by Adam, i.e., to cause sin to reign in
death. "Trespass" (para<ptwma) and "sin" (a[marti<a) are retained from
the foregoing discussion, signifying that Adam's idolatry has not, as sup-
posed, been rectified by the Torah, because it preeminently is the stimulus
of "trespass" and "sin."
in the first man's apostasy, as evidenced most conspicuously, I would say, by
her rejection of the Christ. In fact, in her case, it is possible to see Paul's
140 "The difference
between faith and unbelief is exactly the theme of the story of
Men align themselves with Adam, the type of the Man of wickedness [2 Thess 2:3] ... or with
God" (Barrett, Adam, 14).
141 Scroggs, Adam, 38, 53; Kaylor, Community, 234 n. 21. de Boer notes that particularly in
forensic apocalyptic eschatology the law was the God-given solution to the sentence of death
meted out to Adam and his descendants for repudiating God (Defeat of Death, 167).
142 See further Brandenburger, Adam, 248 n. 2; C. H. Cosgrove, The Cross and the Spirit: A
Study in the Argumentation and Theology of Galatians (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1988)
143 Cf. Jüngel, "Gesetz," 45-47: whereas the precursor of the Gospel is the promise to
Abraham, the forerunner of the law is sin. See Rom 4:13-15.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 295
point as quite a specific one: it was the very possession of the Torah which
engendered the spirit of idolatry. The nation, in other words, preferred to
view the law as God's definitive answer to sin, rather than see it as only a
means to an end, to prepare
of obedience would put an end to sin forever. For her "sin" has abounded
all the more because of her misunderstanding and misapplication of the Torah.
It is precisely in this connection that v. 21 assures the readers that the
reign of sin in death was with the eventual view that grace might reign
through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. "Sin and
death held sway both before and after the Torah; they did not originate
with the Torah, nor are they solved by it. The Torah intensifies sin (and by
implication death) but in a final sense it is not a decisive factor in the
human equation."144 The decisive factor is Christ, the te<loj of the law
(Rom 10:4; Gal 3:21-25), whose coming is prepared by the sin intensifying
function of the law itself. It was precisely in pointing to Christ that God's
of the cosmos;146 he is the new Creator and the only source of eternal life.
The obedience of Christ, according to the theology of Romans 5, is
specifically his fidelity to God the Creator and his perseverance in the
course set before him by his Father. Christ thus fulfills the role originally
assigned to Adam as the progenitor of the human race: he is the actual
ei]kw>n tou? qeou?, the one who projects onto the field of space and time the
likeness of the invisible God (
of true humanity, only he can be the mediator of humanity (1 Tim 2:5).147
Henceforth it is his imprint which is placed on the new world created in his
image. Over against the first Adam and all who have entered the world in
him, Christ alone is incomparable; he is the last Adam, the second man,
and the preeminent one of all creation; he is obedient where another son
condemnation and death (2 Cor 3:7, 9).
The obedience of Christ, then, is to be assessed as his commitment to the
relationship (covenant) between
quently, since Jesus is the very embodiment of the covenant (Isa 42:6), his
"obedience" is nothing other than his "righteousness," i.e., his loyalty to
144 Kaylor, Community, 111.
145 Berkouwer, Sin, 509.
146 Cf. Elliot, Rhetoric, 232-33. Heb 2:5-9 makes the same point: the world to come has not
been subjected to angels, the mediators of the law (Deut 33:2 LXX; Ps 68:18; Acts 7:38; Gal
3:19), but to Christ.
147 See Scroggs, Adam, 100-111; T. F. Torrance, The Mediation of Christ (
his God. This is his dikai<wma to (Rom 5:18), or the "doing of the law" com-
mended by Lev 18:5. In thus "doing the law," Christ has assumed the
mandate of fallen Adam and has attained to glory, honor, and immortality
(Rom 2:7-10), as confirmed by the Gospel narratives of his wilderness and
most powerful solicitations to worship "the god of this world." Paul's last-
Adam Christology, therefore, as that of the Gospels and Hebrews, sets forth
our Lord as the man of faith par excellence, who learned obedience through
what he suffered.148
Paul, however, does not contemplate the obedience of Christ as an end
in itself. It is, rather, a means to an end, because it is through the one man
that obedience has been disseminated to all. At heart, human obedience is
the acceptance of one's identity as the image of God and the consequent
obligation of creaturely service. The obedience of the Christian is thus the
antipode of his former disobedience—his rejection of the Creator/creature
distinction. In short, the believer has been delivered from the slavery of his
former existence (Rom 6:15-23; 8:2) and enabled to persevere in the faith-
commitment originally incumbent on the first Adam.
Christ . . . shatters subjection to the Adamic world of sin and death by setting the
world before its Creator again and by setting us in the state of creatureliness.
Since the Adamic world is present: and seems to prevail, this has to be continually
reaccepted in faith. Received blessing brands us but it also sets us in conflict…
and contradiction. It places us before the need to persevere and in the possibility
In Rom 7:14-15; 8:18-25 Paul will discuss the "conflict and contradic-
tion" to which the believer is exposed as a result of his deliverance from the
Adamic world and press upon his readers the need of the renewal of faith.
Nevertheless, as one "definitively sanctified," the Christian in principle
possesses an entirely new disposition and outlook on life, the evidence of
which is his transformation by the renewal of his mind (Rom 12:2) and the
putting to death of the deeds of the body, commensurate with his walk by
the Spirit (Rom 8:2-14).
To state it in covenantal categories, the people of Christ have been made
righteous (Rom 5:19). If Christ, the obedient Servant of Yahweh, is the
covenant to the nations, then the covenant ideal embodied in him is im-
parted to those who are united to him: he is the righteous king who brings
to pass the new
148 While I think that Paul's phrase pi<stij ]Ihsou? Xristou? does not signify the faithfulness
of Christ himself, many of the points made by recent writers about his covenant fidelity are
well-taken in themselves. For example, R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ: An Investigation of
the Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3:1-4:11 (SBLDS 56; Chico: Scholars Press, 1983) (with
literature); S. K. Williams, "The ‘Righteousness of God’ in Romans," JBL 99 (1980) 272-76;
M. D. Hooker, "PISTIS XRISTOU," NTS 35 (1989) 321-42.
149 Käsemann, Romans, 156.
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH 297
many times by now, righteousness,, in the first instance, is commitment to
the covenant relationship. From a slightly different point of view, right-
eousness is, again, perseverance, inasmuch as perseverance in biblical
thinking entails two elements: (1) reliance on the person of the God of the
covenant; (2) a resolution to do his will, though, during the course of this
"present evil age," that will is imperfectly performed. Thus, the righteous-
ness of the covenant has reference to both a personal relationship and the
ethical standards ("house rules") demanded by that relationship.
Particularly with respect to the latter, we are not to forget that outside
Romans 5 conformity to the image of Christ is integral to Paul's last-Adam
Christology. Believers not only have put off the "old man," i.e., Adam with
his corrupt (apostate) practices, they have put on the "new man," i.e.,
the last Adam (Eph 4:22;
these newly created ones—God's elect, holy and beloved—who are de-
picted in Col 3:12-17 as a community of love and harmony: in them is to
be seen the realization of the creation ideal, because “Jesus Christ has
restored ‘those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of right-
eousness’ to their proper role as truly human beings.”150 By virtue of being
clothed with the image of Christ, who himself is the image of the invisible
catalogued, e.g., in
Christ reigns. Or, in the words of Rom 5:17, they themselves have been
made to "reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ."
It is the peculiar character of the Christian's obedience as derived from
the obedience of Christ which brings us full circle in our consideration of
u[pakoh> pi<stewj in the letter to the Romans. We began by arguing that the
phrase is two-sided, denoting simultaneously the obedience which is faith
and the obedience which flows from faith. Thereafter it was proposed that
it is the obedience of faith, defined primarily as perseverance, which forms
the link between present justification by faith and future judgment accord-
ing to works. Romans 5, however, provides the most vital link of all—
Christ. "In Paul's view," writes M. D. Hooker, "Christians owe everything
to the fact that they are in Christ: they are nothing and they have nothing,
except by virtue of being in him. Christian faith is always the response to
what God has done in Christ and to what Christ is. It seems, then, that they
need the faithfulness of Christ—for how are they to have even faith, except
by sharing in his?" 151 The bottom line, therefore, is Christ. If the Christian's
righteousness is a dikaiosu<nh e]k pi<stewj, his must be a pi<stij which sets
its sights exclusively on Jesus Christ, the last Adam and Creator of a new
150 Wright, "Adam," 372.
151 Hooker, "PISTIS XRISTOU." 337-38.
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