Westminster Theological Journal 55 (1993) 87-112.

        Copyright © 1993 by Westminster Theological Seminary, cited with permission.   




                       IN THE LETTER TO THE ROMANS


                 Part III: The Obedience of Christ

                and the Obedience of the Christian


                                   D. B. GARLINGTON


THE investigation of the obedience of faith in Romans, commenced

some three years ago,1 has thus far yielded two basic conclusions. (1)

The phrase u[pakoh> pi<stewj (Rom 1:5; 16:26) embodies a twin idea: the

obedience consisting in faith and the obedience arising out of faith.2 (2)

Faith's obedience, defined in the first instance as perseverance, is the link

between present justification by faith and eschatological justification for the

"doers of the law" (Rom 2:13). We come now, in the concluding study, to

consider the role of Christ, the obedient one, who ensures the obedience of

his people. Our attention will be directed to Romans 5.


         I. Romans 5 within the Scheme of Chaps. 5-83


As one reads these chapters, one cannot help but be impressed with the

series of antitheses constructed by Paul, which in very, broad terms may be

reduced to the following elements. Chap. 5: life in Christ vs. death in

Adam; 6:1-7:6: newness of life in Christ vs. death and bondage to sin and

the law; 7:7-8:39: life and liberty in union with Christ and the Spirit vs.

captivity to the flesh, even in spite of indwelling sin and the believer's

groaning for the redemption of the body (7:14-25; 8:18-25). In each in-

stance, the motif of the believer's once-for-all break with the past and his

entrance into a new state of affairs stands out in prominent relief: an old

pattern of existence is broken in order that a new mode of life may begin.



1 WTJ 52 (1990) 201-24; 53 (1991) 47-72.

2 "Though that faith begins for Paul as a ‘hearing’ . . . it does not stop there. It involves

the entire personal commitment of a man/woman to Christ Jesus as ‘Lord’.... The word

u[pokoh< implies the ‘submission’ or total personal response of the believer to the risen Lord"

(J. A. Fitzmyer, "The Semitic Background of the New Testament Kyrios-Title," in A Wandering

Aramean: Collected Aramaic Essays [Chico: Scholars Press, 1979] 132).

3 A portion of this segment of the article is adapted from my "Romans 7:14-25 and the

Creation Theology of Paul," TinJ ns 11 (1991) 202-6. The purpose is to set forth a salvation-

historical structuring of the chapters without pretending that this is the only way of ap-

proaching the text. On the complexity of chaps. 5-8 as a whole, see J. C. Beker, Paul the Apostle:

The Triumph of God in Life and Thought (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980) 84-85.





This is the Christian's "definitive sanctification,"4 inasmuch as the repre-

sentatives of the old age—sin, death, the law, and the flesh--have been

overthrown and caused to release their grip on those who are now in Christ.

There is, accordingly, a pronounced Christological focus to each phase

of the believer's transformation from his old condition to the new. Chap. 5

highlights our solidarity with Christ as he heads up the age to come, in

opposition to our former union with Adam, who is the head of "'the present

evil age" (Gal 1:4). In 6:1-7:6 the believer has died to sin and has been

raised in newness of life; because he has died to the law through the body

of Christ, he is discharged from that which held him captive, so that

"now," i.e., in this new phase of world history, he serves not in the oldness

of the letter but in the newness of the Spirit. Chap. 8 makes explicit the

connection between the sonship of Christians and the sonship of Christ: we

are the sons of God because he is the Son of God. In the Son our lives are

no longer characterized by fear and bondage to the flesh; it is to the image

of the Son that we are being conformed; and it is by virtue of the indwelling

Spirit of the Son that we now walk after the Spirit, as formerly we walked

after the flesh.

Hand in hand with the ethical and Christological dimensions of these

chapters there is a conspicuous time-element. Echoing 3:21, the "eschato-

logical nu?n" is present in 5:10; 6:21; 7:6, 17; 8:1; and even when the "now"

of salvation is not expressly mentioned, it is nonetheless just beneath the

surface of all of those passages which speak of the definitive break with the

old age. From the ethical point of view chaps. 5-8 can be viewed as Paul's

delineation of the eschatological (resurrection) life of the people of God,

those upon whom "the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor 10:11). The

frequent occurrence of "life" throughout the section takes us back to 1:17,

where, according to Paul's use of Hab 2:4, life is the outcome of the righ-

teous man's faith, as well as 4:17-21, according to which Abraham's faith

was in the God who raises the dead. Ultimately "life" is a creation concept,

stemming from Genesis 1 and 2 (cf. Rom 2:7).5

Therefore, from 5:1 through the end of chap. 8 one can discern that Paul

runs the entire course of salvation history, from old creation to new. After

the transitional paragraph of 5:1-11, 5:12-21 depicts the disobedience of

the old humanity in Adam and the obedience of the new in Christ. The next

section, 6:1-7:6, speaks further of the inception of the new creation with the

death and resurrection of Christ: the oldness of the letter has given way to

the newness of the Spirit. As an outgrowth of an objection raised and

answered in 7:7-12, 7:13-25 articulates the overlap of the two creations,

with its resultant tension in the believer's inward being. Chap. 8 finally

predicts the glories of the consummated new creation. The substructure of



4 J. Murray, "Definitive Sanctification," in The Collected Writings of John Murray (Edin-

burgh: Banner of Truth, 1977) 2.277-84.

5 See "Obedience of Faith, II," 57-58.

         THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                                        89


Romans 5-8, therefore, can be viewed as the passing away of the old cre-

ation and the advent of the new. Paul thus announces the arrival of the

eschaton or, most pointedly, the new creation. It is as though this entire

portion of the letter were an elaborate commentary on 2 Cor 5:17. We are

thus alerted that the purview of Romans 5 in particular is not to be confined

to justification, at least not to the narrowest possible sense.6

In this light, we see that Paul's running debate with Judaism is continued

into the present stage of the letter. The essential difference between him

and the Jewish outlook lay precisely in his conviction that, in Christ, the

eschaton had arrived. Thus, the argument of chaps. 5-8 grows out of what

has preceded. Given the assumption of 3:21-4:25 that faith in Christ has

secured both justification and the promise to Abraham of a seed, it follows

that in Christ the life of the new creation is here. (It is frequently noted that

from 5:1 to 8:39 za<w and zwh<, used some 24 times, dominate Paul's



         II. Rom 5:1-11: Reconciliation and New Creation


Some commentators make 5:1-11 the conclusion of what has preceded

(3:21-4:25), while others classify it as the beginning of a new section of the

letter (chaps. 5-8).7 Actually, it makes relatively little difference which

course we follow, because these verses are essentially a transitional passage

containing ideas from the previous part of the argument (faith, grace, sin-

ners, justify, blood, enemies, wrath, the resurrection of Christ) as well as

those which pave the way for what is to follow (suffering, endurance, hope,

the Holy Spirit, the love of God, future salvation as the result of past



6 E.g., J. Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (NICNT; 2 vols.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,

1968) 1.179, 184, 185.

7 There are variations, of course. For example, R. D. Kaylor, Paul's Covenant Community:
Jew and Gentile in Romans
(Atlanta: Knox, 1988) 93; Beker, Paul, 85.
The ensuing exposition

accepts that chaps. 5-8 stand as a unit, whose substructure is comprised of a theology of creation.

Cf. my "Romans 7:14-25," 203-4. The leading parallels between 5:1-11 and chap. 8 are listed

by N. A. Dahl, Studies in Paul (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1977) 88-90, and D. J. Moo, Romans

1-8 (Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary; Chicago: Moody, 1991) 323.

8 On the place of chap. 5 within Romans, see the analyses of Moo, Romans, 300-303; J. D.

G. Dunn, "Paul's Epistle to the Romans: An Analysis of Structure and Argument," ANRW

2.25.4, 2855-58; G. Bornkamm, "Paulinische Anakolouthe," in Das Ende des Gesetzes: Paulus-

studien (BEvT 16; Munich: Kaiser, 1966) 81-82; R. P. Martin, Reconciliation: A Study of Paul's

Theology (Atlanta: Knox, 1981)136--40; E. Brandenburger, Adam and Christ us: Exegetisch-religions-

geschichtliche Untersuchungen zu Röm. 5,12-21 (1 Kor. 15) (WMANT 7; Neukirchen: Neukirchener

Verlag, 1962) 255-64; N. Elliot, The Rhetoric of Romans: Argumentative Constraint and Strategy

and Paul's Dialogue with Judaism (JSNTSup 45; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1990) 226; J. A. T.

Robinson, Wrestling with Romans (London: SCM, 1979) 57; M. C. de Boer, The Defeat of Death:

Apocalyptic Eschatology in 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 5 (JSNTSup 22; Sheffield: JSOT

Press, 1988) 148-49. Elliot (Rhetoric, 226) maintains that Romans 5 in toto is the pivot on which

the letter's argument turns, and A. Nygren thinks that the chapter is the "high point" of the letter,

where all




The particular terms "ungodly," "sinners," "enemies," and "wrath,"

as compared with "justified," "saved," and "reconciled," articulate a con-

trast between the believer's past and his present. Kaylor is correct that this

contrast is organized around the theme of reconciliation. As illustrated

most graphically from Hosea, reconciliation derives its meaning from Is-

rael's covenant relationship with God: "Reconciliation implies the resto-

ration of a previous condition and as such builds upon the idea of a

covenant within which God and Israel once lived in a harmony which was

subsequently disrupted. . . . God betrothed Israel in faithfulness, but

though God remained faithful, Israel became ‘adulterous’ and pursued

other lovers (gods)."9 Reconciliation, seen in this light, is nothing less than

the restoration of a broken marriage. That it is a central concept for Paul

emerges from 2 Cor 5:16-21, where, as in Rom 5:1-11, Paul can charac-

terize his new covenant ministry as one of reconciliation for both Jew and


Structurally the paragraph can be analyzed according to the "ABA"

pattern so frequent in Romans.10


A: vv. 1-2, the two direct results of justification by faith

B: vv. 3-10, the relation of these two

A: v. 11, the two direct results of justification by faith



1. The Two Direct Results of justification by Faith, vv 1-2


The first result is peace with God. It is peace which particularly high-

lights the eschatological dimension of what has transpired with the work of

Christ. The term "peace" (= "rest") is one that characterizes the OT's

Messianic outlook (e.g., Isa 9:6-7; 32; 52:7; 57:19; Ezek 37:26; Hag 2:9; cf.

Num 6:22-26). In the prophetic expectation, the Messiah is the "Prince of

Peace" (Isa 9:6), in whose person Yahweh's Mvlw will attend the time of

worldwide bliss, the new creation, when the lion and the lamb dwell to-

gether and war is no more. It is too often overlooked, however, that the



the lines of Paul's thinking converge (Commentary on Romans [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1949]

209). Nygren, rightly in my view, links chap. 5 to chaps. 6-8, as do others (see Moo, Romans, 300

n. 1).

9 Kaylor, Community, 93-95; quote from pp. 94-95. See further Martin, Reconciliation,


10 See throughout A. Feuillet, "Le plan salvifique de Dieu d’apres l’Epitre aux Romains,"

RB 57 (1950) 336-87, 489-529; J. J. Collins, "Chiasmus and the ‘ABA’ Pattern of the Text of

Paul," in Studiorum Paulinorum Congressus Internationalis Catholicus (Rome: Biblical Institute

Press, 1963) 2.575-83. From another point of view, these verses exhibit chiasmus ("ABBA"):

A: peace, 1-2a

B: hope, 2b

B: hope, 3-5

A: peace, 6-11

        THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                          91


direct background to Rom 5:1 is Isa 32:17-18: "And the work of right-

eousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and as-

surance forever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceful habitation, and

in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places." According to the prophet,

the Mvlw of the restored Israel is to be the result of her renewed commitment

to the covenant (hqdc), an event commensurate with the outpouring of the

Spirit of Yahweh (v. 15) and the appearance of a king whose own rule is

characterized by righteousness (v. 1). Rom 5:1 thus announces the fulfill-

ment of Isaiah's oracle in the rightwising of the believer in Christ, again

suggesting that Paul's parameters are broader than simply justification as

a past forensic act, since against the backdrop of Isaiah 32 dikaio<w broad-

ens to include the new Israel's commitment to the covenant in toto.11 The

vindication/restoration/blessing of the people of God has been procured by

Christ, as attended by the effusion of the love of God into our hearts by the

Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5). The long-awaited eschaton is here, because cosmic

peace (Mvlw) and salvation have been proleptically manifested in Christ

and disclosed in our obedience to his lordship.12

We may add that at the other end of this overall segment of the letter,

in 8:31-39, is to be found the counterpart. The questions of 8:33 are taken

from Isa 50:8-9, which embody the challenge of the obedient Servant of

Yahweh to his enemies to set forth their case in the presence of God the

Judge, who, he is confident, will exonerate him from all wrongdoing. The

context of Isaiah's Servant-song is replete with new creation associations,

signifying that the blissful future for Israel is to be secured by the obedience

of the hvhy dbf.  For Paul this Servant is Christ, in whom eschatological

vindication has been secured for the latter-day people of God. Nevertheless,

the conspicuous fact is that Paul refers these rhetorical questions not to

Christ directly but to Christians, who, with the same confidence of the

Servant himself, can call upon God to vindicate them from the accusations

of every enemy.


11 Cf. the comments on the dikaio<w group in "Obedience of Faith, II," 50-51. Although,

strictly speaking, "rightwise" is a more comprehensive term than "justify," the two will be

used synonymously throughout. That dikaio<w, in 5:1, summarizes 3:21-4:25 is not a partic-

ular problem for this more inclusive reading of the verb, since 4:18-22 stresses the persevering

quality of Abraham's faith. Apart from the claim that dikaiosu<nh qeou? is a technical term

taken over by Paul from Jewish Apocalyptic, underlying this exposition are the perspectives

of E. Käsemann's " ‘The Righteousness of God’ in Paul," in New Testament Questions of Today

(Philadelphia: Fortress, 1969) 168-82, as reflected in his Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids:

Eerdmans, 1980) e.g., 79-80, 154-58. See further de Boer, Defeat of Death, 150-56; Beker, Paul,


12 Beker, Paul, 264. Cf. de Boer, Defeat of Death, 236 n. 35; Bultmann, Theology 1.276, 278.

Beker's treatment of "grace" is also relevant. Once grace in Paul has been loosed from its

privatistic Western moorings, says Beker, and placed in its original apocalyptic setting, it is

seen to refer to both a cosmic power and to the domain of our life in Christ. Though this study

does not in any sense endorse the notion of an infused righteousness, Beker is correct that the

historic debate concerning gratia imputata versus gratia infusa bypasses Paul's basic intent (Paul,




In light of these findings, Rom 5:1 and 8:31-39 can be looked upon as a

kind of inclusio, signaling the commencement and the conclusion of a major

section of the letter. In the case of both, with their respective OT backdrops,

there is an identification of the covenant community with a central cove-

nant figure (Servant-King): his obedience forms the matrix of his people's

obedience and consequent blessings. This, we shall argue, is the conceptual

framework of Rom 5:12-21, which forms Paul's horizons as he develops his

Adam/Christ typology.

The second effect of justification is the Christian's boasting in the hope

of the glory of God. The combination of e]lpi<j and h[ do<ca tou? qeou? is

distinctively eschatological in impact. "Hope" is faith directed to the fu-

ture,13 and "the glory of God," according to 8:18-25, is the consummation

of the new creation and, by implication, the rectification of Adam's failure

to be God's image (3:23). Indeed, 8:18, 24-25 again combine glory and

hope, as the believer is pointed forward to the renewal of the creation and

the redemption of the body. Paul, then, asserts that present reconciliation

has as its consequence the assurance that one may anticipate the consum-

mate fullness of a new heavens and a new earth. The Christian, in other

words, may be assured that his hope in Christ will not expose him to

eschatological shame;14 and such hope is vital because in between there is

the reality of suffering, tension, and groaning as one anticipates the end, the

peculiar emphasis of 7:14-25 and 8:18-25. Perseverance thus becomes the

keynote of Christian existence as long as the tension of the "Already" and

the "Not Yet" in the cosmic plan of God remains unresolved.


2. The Relation of the Two Effects of justification by Faith, vv. 3-10

In this "B" section of the paragraph Paul correlates the two results of

justification, taking them up in reverse order (thus the possibility of a chi-

astic ordering of the verses). To be more precise, vv. 3-5 expand on hope,

and vv. 6-10 explicate peace (= reconciliation).

Anticipating 7:14-25 and 8:18-25, vv. 3-5 relate that the believer's hope

is alive precisely because of the presence of trials. As Beker explains, these

are the tribulations of the end-time (Paul's modification of the Messianic

woes), which Christians do not merely endure, but rather glory in.15 The

very fact of suffering, in its own way, is a sign that the ages have taken a

decisive turn in the cosmic purposes of God. Tribulation, however, neces-

sitates hope, a hope produced by the love of God poured into our hearts by



13 Cf. J. M. Gundry Volf, Paul and Perseverance: Staying in and Falling Away (Louisville:
Westminster/Knox, 1990) 50 (n. 11), 55. See the excellent remarks on hope in Paul by Beker,

Paul, 146-49.

14 Cf. Gundry Volf, Paul and Perseverance, 50. "Shame," particularly in the prophets, is

synonymous with judgment. The imagery stems from Genesis 3: the shameful nakedness of

Adam and Eve was the reversal of their original glory.

15 Beker, Paul, 146.

                              THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                                 93


the Holy Spirit, in keeping with the prophetic prediction that the Spirit

would be poured out in the age to come (e.g., Isa 32:15; Joel 2:28-29).

Vv. 6-10 bring to the fore the work of Christ as effecting (Messianic)

peace with God. We note only two of the verses' prominent features.

First of all, Paul repeatedly emphasizes the person of Jesus as he elab-

orates this result of justification. This is due to his insistence that the es-

chaton has arrived in Christ; and life in Christ is the life of a new epoch and

domain. The phrase e]n Xrist&? for Paul, as Beker confirms, "has essentially

a participatory-instrumental meaning and signifies the transfer to the new

age that has been inaugurated with the death and resurrection of Christ." 16

When we look back to 3:24, we can see that 5:6-10 is a commentary on

Paul's claim that justification is by God's grace through the redemption

which is in Christ Jesus. Consequently, what differentiates Paul's conception

of righteousness from Jewish apocalyptic eschatology is that "this right-

eousness (both as God's redemptive action and as gift) finds its apocalyptic

disclosure (a) in the event of the death of Jesus Christ, and thus, as Rom 3.21

radically puts it, (b) ‘apart from the law’."17

Second, vv. 9-10 are a statement of inauguration and consummation in

the saving purposes of God: what Christ has done for us in the past he will

bring to completion in the day of judgment. The two verses explicate each



v. 9: if justified by his blood, then (how much more) saved from (eschatological)


v. 10: if reconciled by his death, then (how much more) saved by his (resurrection)



The past redemptive event in Christ has given rise to hope in the be-

liever, a hope which has as its primary focus the future eschatological

consummation of the new creation. Or, as Elliot puts it, vv. 9-10 "relocate

the soteriological fulcrum in the apocalyptic future: the gracious justifica-

tion and reconciliation of the impious is made the basis for sure hope in the

salvation to come."18 Paul thus polarizes past and future as the epochal

stages of the salvation experience, with an assurance that although the

consummation of redemption is still outstanding, the believer can take

comfort that God's purposes cannot fail.

It is normally observed that the argument is akin to the rabbinic qal

wahomer pattern, which can be viewed as either a minori ad majus or a maiori



16 Ibid., 272.

17 De Boer, Defeat of Death, 155-56. As C. H. Cosgrove rightly contends, the accent in

3:21-31 is universality: "Faith as access to redemption . . . is open to both Jew and Gentile"

(`Justification in Paul: A Linguistic and Theological Reflection," JBL 106 [1987] 665).

18 Elliot, Rhetoric, 229. See further Beker, Paul, 176-81.



ad minus, depending on how the interpreter assesses the force of the argu-

ment.19 Although it may be misleading to speak of a "greater" and a

"lesser" strictly speaking, given the magnitude of both the past and the

future dimensions of the Christian's redemption, I favor a minori ad majus,

because, without minimizing the significance of Christ's death, his sacrifice

must eventuate in the final salvation of his people in order to accomplish

its goal. The salvific process is commenced with present justification

(dikaiwqe<ntej nu?n), but it will not be consummated until we are finally

saved (swqhso<meqa).20 And "the process of consummating the work of

salvation is more like an obstacle course than a downhill ride to the finish-

line. For the destiny of Christians does not go unchallenged in a world

opposed to God's purposes. The powers of evil in the form of afflictions and

trials threaten continuity in their salvation."21 Thus, for instance, Cran-

field's remark22 that deliverance from eschatological wrath is, in relation to

justification, "very easy" fails to appreciate the formidable nature of the

"obstacle course." Given the qli<yeij which attend the life of faith this side

of the resurrection, the great thing, from the perspective of the present

passage, is yet to be accomplished.



3. The Two Direct Results of justification by Faith, v. 11


Verse 11's restatement of vv. 1-2 displays the genius of the "ABA" style

of writing, because it is not a mere verbal repetition of vv. 1-2 but is shaped

by the intervening material of vv. 3-10. Thus, there are some significant

variations. (1) Boasting in the hope of the glory of God becomes boasting

in God through Christ, the reversal of Paul's former boast in Yahweh and

the Torah (2:17, 23). (2) Reconciliation becomes virtually synonymous with

"justification," "peace," and "access" (v. 2), which, in salvation-historical

terms, relates to man's pristine condition of dwelling in the immediate

presence of God in paradise (cf. the way Rev 21:5 and 22:2 correlate the

renewed presence of God with access to the tree of life).23


19 E.g., Gundry Volf, Paul and Perseverance, 53; Moo, Romans, 318; C. E. B. Cranfield, A

Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark,

1975) 1.266. See further Str-B 3.224-26; H. Müller, "Der rabbinische Qal-Wachomer-Schluß: Zur

Adam-Christus-Typologie in Rm 5," ZNW 58 (1967) 73-92; Brandenburger, Adam, 221-24;

S.-H. Quek, "Adam and Christ according to Paul," in Pauline Studies: Essays Presented to F. E.

Bruce on His 70th Birthday (eds. D. A. Hagner and M. J. Harris; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980)


20 The disputed last clause of 4:25, h]ge<rqh dia> th>n dikai<wsin h[mw?n, makes perfectly
good sense as a reference to eschatological justification, being equivalent to
swqhso<meqa in
5:9-10, particularly as 5:10 stresses that ultimate salvation is due to the life of Christ.

21 Gundry Volf, Paul and Perseverance, 81.

22 Cranfield, Romans 1.2666.

23 "Justification or reconciliation, is, as we have already been told, the initial act of a

process; but it carries with it the assurance that the process will be completed" (C. H. Dodd,

        THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                         95


In sum, as the transition from chaps. 1-4 to 5:12-8:39, 5:1-11 explicates

the believer's reconciliation in such a way as to announce the arrival of the

new creation (cf. 2 Cor 5:17-19, which does the same). From both the

juridical and experiential points of view, a radical change has been effected

in the Christian's standing before God and in his way of life: whereas once

we were "sinners" and the "ungodly" enemies of God under his wrath, we

now have been justified and reconciled and rejoice in the hope of eventual



III. Rom 5:12-21: Adam and Christ. Disobedience and Obedience24


1. Structure and Relation to the Preceding


Because of its connection with 5:1-11, 5:12-19 proceeds to develop a

theology of the obedience of Christ, as contrasted with the disobedience of

Adam. As Elliot observes, the section takes shape around Paul's "breaking

and realignment of typological correlations," formed on the structure "just

as ... so also" (w[j/w!sper . . . ou!twj).25 The paragraph, as is commonly

known, exhibits the most conspicuous example of Pauline anacolouthon.

The train of thought commences in v. 12; but because Paul felt the necessity

of a justification and elaboration of this statement, he does not formalize his

analogy until v. 18. The section would appear to follow the "ABA" pattern:


The Epistle of Paul to the Romans [MNTC; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1932] 77). Dodd's

correlation of justification and reconciliation is rightly grounded in the parallel of the two in

Rom 5:1-11. Karl Barth entitles the whole of chap. 5 "The Gospel as Man's Reconciliation

with God" (A Shorter Commentary on Romans [London: SCM, 1959] 55).

24 Account can be taken of only a cross section of the growing mass of literature on 5:12-21

alone. See the bibliographies of Cranfield, Romans 1.270-71 n. 1; Käsemann, Romans, 140; U.

Wilckens, Der Brief an die Römer (EKKNT 6; 3 vols.; Neukirchen: Neukirchener Verlag, 1978-

82) 1.305-6; Quek, "Adam and Christ," 74-75 nn. 4-5; J. D. G. Dunn, Romans (WBC; Dallas:

Word, 1988) 1.244-45; Brandenburger, Adam, 280-85; H. A. Lombard, "The Adam-Christ

‘Typology’ in Romans 5:12-21," Neot 15 (1981) 97-100; S. L. Johnson, "Romans 5:12—An

Exercise in Exegesis and Theology," in New Dimensions in New Testament Study (eds. R. N.

Longenecker and M. C. Tenney; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974) 299 n. 6; H. Seebass,

NIDNTT 1.88. Access to the Jewish materials on Adam (though interpreted variously) may

be had through Brandenburger, Adam, 15-57; J. Jervell, Imago Dei: Gen 1,6f. im Spätjudentum,

in der Gnosis and im den paulinischen Briefen (FRLANT 58; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck &

Ruprecht, 1960) 15-121; R. Scroggs, The Last Adam: A Study in Pauline Anthropology (Oxford:

Blackwell, 1966); J. R. Levison, Portraits of Adam in Early Judaism: From Sirach to 2 Baruch

(JSPSup 1; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1988); Str-B 3.226-29; W. D. Davies, Paul and

Rabbinic Judaism (3d ed.; London: SPCK, 1970) 36-57; A. J. M. Wedderburn, "The Theological

Structure of Romans V.12," NTS 19 (1972-73) 339-54; S. Kim, The Origin of Paul's Gospel

(WUNT 2/4; Tübingen: Mohr, 1981) 162-93; H. Schlier, Der Römerbrief (HTKNT 6; Freiburg:

Herder, 1977) 183-89.

25 Elliot, Rhetoric, 229.

96                          WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


A: v. 12: the initial statement of the old humanity's solidarity with the first Adam

and its consequences

B: vv. 13-17: justification and elaboration of the proposition begun in v. 12

A: vv. 18-19: recapitulation and formal statement of the analogous work of Adam

and Christ and its consequences

[Vv. 20-21 lie outside the Adam/Christ analogy proper.]


Numerous commentators are correct that the "therefore" of v. 12 is to be

connected with the whole of vv. 1-11. Yet the paragraph can be reduced to

two overlapping notions. For one, there is the juxtaposition of the believer's

former condition (ungodly, sinners, enemies, wrath) with his present one

(justified, saved, reconciled). The section 5:12-21, then, takes us back to the

inception of "this present evil age," with the fall of Adam, and explains

that our past existence was the result of the disobedience of the first man.

At the same time, however, we are informed that our current condition is

due to the work of another Adam, who by his obedience has introduced a

new creation.26 In brief, "Adam is the head of the old aeon, the age of death;

Christ is the head of the new aeon, the age of life."27 Or, as Paul expresses

it to the Corinthians, "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made

alive" (1 Cor 15:22), and, most pointedly, "If anyone is in Christ, [there is]

the new creation; the old things have passed away, behold, all things have

become new" (2 Cor 5:17).

Second, there is the Christian's assured perseverance due to the life of the

risen Christ, 5:9-10. It is true that the new creation has arrived because

"peace" and the "hope of glory" are the immediate effects of rightwising

by faith. Nevertheless, this new creation must be consummated, and the

people of God must endure qli?yij until their adoption is complete

(8:18-24). Therefore, the Adam/Christ analogy is intended to ground the

final perseverance of the saints in the perseverance (obedience) of Christ

himself, because the one who now lives by the power of an indissoluble life

(Heb 7:16) was obedient unto death (Phil 2:8). It is just here that the

perspectives of 5:1-11. merge: as we once bore the image of Adam and were

compelled to repeat his disobedience, so now we bear the image of Christ

and are privileged to imitate his pattern of suffering followed by glory (cf.

1 Pet 1:3-12).

These constituent elements of 5:1-11, combined with the "therefore" of

5:12, alert us that the horizon of 5:12-21 is not to be restricted to a past

forensic declaration. What is at stake in Romans 5 in its entirety is salvation

in the broadest sense—the new creation inaugurated and consummated—

and the necessity of perseverance until the old creation is thoroughly dis-

placed by the new. Thus, while dia> tou?to remains diflicult,28 the inference



26 See Nygren, Romans, 210-11; F. J. Leenhardt, The Epistle to the Romans: A Commentary

(Cleveland: World, 1961) 141.

27 Nygren, Romans, 210.

28 See the discussion of the various options by Moo, Romans, 328-30.

      THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                                         97


drawn from vv. 1-11 is to this effect: the Christian's entrance into the new

creation and his assurance of enjoying its finalized bliss depend on his union

with the living Lord, who is another Adam and the truest image of God.

From a slightly different perspective, very much compatible with the out-

look of the Fourth Gospel and Hebrews, we might say that the one who

takes charge of the new creation is, at the same time, the new Creator: it

is through his work that all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17).


2. Paul's Creation Typology


The verses exhibit an observable swing from the personal and individual

language of 5:1-11 to a different key in which "the whole sweep of human

history is embraced by the two epochs instituted by Adam and Christ."29

The perspective of vv. 12-19 thus differs from vv. 1-11 in its cosmic focus.

Yet the continuity between the two paragraphs is equally noticeable by

virtue of "the re-emergence of the reversal theme in explicit terms of the

two men whose single acts of disobedience and obedience encapsulate and

determine the character of the two epochs which together span human

history. A very effective conclusion is thus achieved by showing how the

sweeping indictment of Adamic humanity in 1.19ff., and repeated sum-

marily in 3.23, is more than answered by the abundance of grace through


It is in keeping with this cosmic/salvation-historical perspective that

Paul continues to retrogress from the Torah backward in history. In chap.

4 he appealed to Abraham's priority to the law; and here he takes a further

step back to Adam and the creation, thus recapitulating the argument

begun in 1:18, in which he depicted the revelation of God's wrath as the

outworking of the primal covenant relationship between the Creator and

his creatures (the punitive side of the dikaiosu<nh qeou?). Paul's tendency

in Romans to move back beyond the Torah, a tacit denial of its eternity, is

further illustrated by 2:12-16, according to which creation accounts for the

law shared in common by Jew and Gentile.

At the head of old and new creations respectively are the first Adam and

the last. In Acts 17:26 Paul is reported to say that God made from one (e]c

e[no<j) all people to live on all the face of the earth; and here the comparison

of the two Adams stresses that through "one man" (di ] e[no<j) and his

singular act of disobedience or obedience the whole race has been affected

for ill or for good. With all the debate on particulars, the one given of the

passage is that each division of humanity is in solidarity with its leader, so

that the action of the "one" has a bearing on the condition of the "many."


29 Dunn, Romans 1.271. Dunn further observes that the final sentence of chap. 5, which

serves as a transition into the next phase of the discussion, places side by side the two quasi-

powers who dominate the old aeon (sin and death).

30 Dunn, "Analysis," 2856. Cf. Moo, Romans, 326.

98                          WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


Of course, there is no overall consensus as to the mechanics of the solidarity

in question.31 Since Paul does not say explicitly what impels his logic, the

exegete must reconstruct from his world of thought, which can be under-

stood variously. Corporate personality is a possibility, though it has not

escaped criticism;32 and while it cannot be dismissed entirely, Käsemann is

correct that "Decisive in the interpretation of our text . . . is not the com-

parison of two heads of a generation, but of the two figures, in sharp du-

alism, who alone inaugurated a world of perdition and salvation, so that

they cannot be listed in a series of ancestors." "In dualistic contrast Christ

and Adam are now the bearers of destiny for the world determined by


Thus, in interpreting Rom 5:12-21 it is vital to see that Paul's vision

encompasses the whole of creation. "The spheres of Adam and Christ, of

death and life, are separated as alternative, exclusive, and ultimate, and

this happens in global breadth. An old world and a new world are at issue."34

Consequently, given the creation focus of 5:12-19 (and chaps. 5-8 as a

whole), man as the image of God springs immediately to mind. It is through

the first and last Adams respectively that humanity bears either the failed

or successful likeness of the Creator. The identification and character of all

people thus depend on Adam or Christ, the "direct" images of the invisible

God. Therefore, the primal principle of creation continues: like begets like.

The "many" and the "all" bear the likeness of the "one" in that they

derive their being and nature from him and imitate his example. This, we

shall argue, most effectively opens up Paul's intentions in this highly con-

troversial passage.


3. Paul's Dialogue with Israel


This portion of Paul's letter is more than just a teaching model to explain

the nature of the new creation which has arrived in Christ; it is, in fact,

integral to his interaction with the Jewish point of view. In the words of J.

C. Beker, “Jew and Gentile are now subsumed under the one figure of

Adam, who by his transgression sealed ‘all men’ . . . under sin and death.

The subject is no longer Jew or Gentile but ‘the many.’”35 Taken within


31 Cf. W. Sanday and A. C. Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on
 the Epistle to the Romans
(ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1895) 132; Moo, Romans,
340. The various attempts to relate the personal and corporate aspects of sin and death
are discussed in full by Moo, ibid., 335-41.

32 See S. E. Porter, "The Pauline Concept of Original Sin, in Light of Rabbinic Back-

ground," TynBul 41 (1990) 16 (with literature). Akin to corporate personality is the "ancestor-

descendant" motif, i.e., the descendant is affected by the actions of the progenitor. See J.

Cambier, "Péchés des Hommes et Péché d'Adam en Rom. V.12," NTS 11 (1964-65) 221,


33 Käsemann, Romans, 142-43, 146. Cf. A. Oepke, TDNT 2.542

34 Käsemann, Romans, 147 (italics mine).

35 Beker, Paul, 15.

     THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                                  99


its polemical context, Rom 5:12-19 bears witness to the radicalness of Paul's

stance toward Israel. Some two and half centuries before Paul we encounter

the idea that the people of Israel and their Torah are God's new beginning

and the remedy for the ills of Adam's disobedience (Sir 10:19; 17:1-17).36

Similar ideas characterized apocalyptic as a whole.37 Moreover, in at least

one rabbinic text, Gen. Rab. 14.6, Abraham appears as a second Adam,

compensating for the failure of the original Adam. As N. T. Wright has

demonstrated, the Adam theology of Jewish literature is intended to ad-

vance a claim about Israel in the purposes of God. As such, it fulfills a

specific purpose, i.e., to mark out this nation as God's true humanity and

the realization of his creation designs. In brief, "Adam has become em-

bodied . . . in Israel, the people of the Torah, and in her future hope."38

On reflection, one can say that there is a legitimate sense in which a new

beginning was made with Abraham and continued into subsequent Isra-

elite history. However, Israel's mistake was to suppose that the world was

made for her and that she alone was meant to reprise the role marked out

for Adam, consonant with the fact that it was the law—the embodiment of

true wisdom—which formed the charter of Israel's national life precisely as

the way of God's true humanity.39 As a result, Paul's contemporaries were

insistent that participation in the new creation was possible only within the

parameters of the chosen people and their Torah.

This means that the apostle's qualification of the Jewish position is an

important one, inasmuch as all the promises of God find their "yes" in

Christ (2 Cor 1:20). If Israel marked a new beginning in the saving purposes

of God, it was only that in the fullness of time this new beginning might,

in Christ, be extended to the ends of the earth. The role traditionally

assigned to Israel has devolved on Christ: Paul now regards him and his people

as God's true humanity.40 He is bold enough to say, on the one hand, that

humanity outside of Christ—including Israel—is in Adam and, therefore,

still participates in the effects of his sin ("ungodly," "sinners," "enemies,"

"wrath"). On the other hand, with equal boldness, he asserts that everyone

in Christ—regardless of ethnic identity and commitment to the Torah—has

entered the new creation with its blessings ("justified," "saved," "recon-

ciled"). In general terms, 5:1-1.1 describes weak, ungodly people who have


36 See D. B. Garlington, " [IEROSULEIN and the Idolatry of Israel (Romans 2.22)," NTS

36 (1990) 145-47; id., ‘The Obedience of Faith’: A Pauline Phrase in Historical Context (WUNT

2/38; Tübingen: Mohr, 1991) 58-60.

37 De Boer, Defeat of Death, 153-54.

38 N. T. Wright, "Adam in Pauline Christology," SBLSP 1983, 360-65 (quote from p. 364).

Cf. Jervell, Imago Dei, 31-37.

39 Wright, "Adam," 361-63.

40 Ibid., 365-87 (esp. pp. 370-73). Wright qualifies, however, that Christ does not simply

replace Israel; he began where Adam ended, with the entail of sin, working its way out to

judgment, and thus must deal with the "many trespasses" and condemnation resultant from

Adam's sin (ibid., 371-72). He later contrasts the redemptive work of Christ with Israel's

failure to redeem the world, seeking, rather, to rule it (p. 389).



missed the way of God's covenant nation.41 However, the real impact (scan-

dal) of Romans 5 as a whole is precisely the involvement of Israel in Adam's


It is the role played by Rom 5:12-21 within Paul's dialogue with Israel

which, at least in part, serves to inform us of his intentions; that is, Christ

has succeeded where Adam and Israel have not.42 The first man failed to

accomplish his mandate of bringing the earth to its full potential, its

"eschatological" state. Another son of God, Israel, likewise became idol-

atrous by exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images (Rom 1:23

= Ps 106:20; Jer 2:11).43 In the case of Paul's contemporaries, the disobe-

dience in question was a failure to be loyal to the God of Israel because of

an idolatrous attachment to the Torah.44 By way of contrast, the obedience

of Christ, as we shall argue, can be defined as his perseverance in faith and

his consequent realization of what man was intended to be in the first

Adam. Our treatment of the passage, then, will concentrate on those as-

pects of Paul's argument which stand at the forefront of his claim that the

last Adam has succeeded where the first Adam fell short.



4. The Disobedient First Adam and the Old Humanity


(1) Adam's Sin as the Gateway of All Subsequent Sin and Death. Verse 12, the

protasis of Paul's sentence, to be completed by the apodosis of vv. 18-19, is

a statement of cause and effect: through one man sin and death entered into

the world, so that death (has) spread to all men because all, in some sense,

(have) sinned. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Paul does not speculate

about the way in which sin entered the world: he is concerned with uni-

versal experience, not cosmic speculation. However, it is equally true, con-

trary particularly to Dodd, that he is concerned with origins, if for no other

reason than to lay the foundation for the origin of righteousness in Christ.

If, as Dodd affirms, in Adam humanity is corporately sinful,45 it is precisely

because Adam was the first disobedient man. Adam, most pointedly, is the

origin of sin and, consequently, death in the world: "Adam sums up and

symbolizes all this humanity both in his person and in his behaviour, and


41 Kaylor, Community, 100.

42 The joint failure of Adam and Israel is evident in Rom 7:7-11. See my "Romans 7:14-

25," 207-10.

43 Cf. G. C. Berkouwer, Sin (Studies in Dogmatics; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971) 274.

Berkouwer has seen that the sin of Israel follows the same lines as the breaking of the original

covenant by Adam (Hos 6:7). Cf. B. B. Warfield, "Hosea VI.7: Adam or Man?" in Selected

Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield (ed. J. E. Meeter; Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian &
Reformed, 1970) 1.116-29.

44 This is the thesis of my " [IROSULEIN." Cf. "Obedience of Faith, II," 51-52, 55. On

the kindred idolatry motif of Acts 7:39-53, see J. Kilgallen, The Stephen Speech: A Literary and

Redactional Study of Acts 7,2-53 (AnBib 67; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1976) 90-98.

45 Dodd, Romans, 80.

THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                                 101


the conditions of life of every individual are moulded by it."46 As Dunn

reminds us, Adam (Mdx) means "man": what can be said of Adam can be

said of men in general, and what is true of men in general is true of Adam.47

Thus, "In the fall narrative of Genesis 3 ‘all subsequent human history lies

encapsuled’; its incidents are re-enacted in the life of the race and indeed,

to some extent, of each member of the race."48

Of course, what Paul precisely means is a matter of both historical and

contemporary debate.49 Consequently, it is possible only to set forth certain

conclusions without entering in detail into the debate. The controversy

centers chiefly on the last clause of v. 12, Paul's depiction of the plight of

mankind outside of Christ. Sin and death first entered the world di ] e[no<j

a]nqrw<pou, yet death spread to all people, in Paul's words, e]f ] &$ pa<ntej

h!marton. Käsemann identifies v. 12d as the real interpretive problem,

where, in his view, the motif of destiny which dominates v. 12a-c gives way

to that of the personal guilt of mankind.50 Of course, not everyone sees in

these words personal guilt at all, but the imputed guilt of Adam's original

trespass. So, in what sense is it meaningful to say pa<ntej h!marton, thus

accounting for the dissemination of death and suffering among the human

race? The various answers to the question have understandably focused on

e]f ] &$ and h!marton, to which we shall give some attention; yet the scope

of rreivreg is not irrelevant to the discussion.

The Augustinian equation of e]f ] &$ with in quo ("in whom," i.e., Adam),

grammatically and lexically speaking anyway, has been discounted by

modern scholars, even if theologically one accepts that mankind sinned "in

Adam."51 With some degree of confidence at least, it can be said that the

expression is either idiomatic, meaning "because" or "in that," or equivalent

to e]pi> tou<t& o!ti, grounding the death of mankind in the circumstance that all

have sinned.52 Either lends itself to the interpretation herein proposed.


46 Leenhardt, Romans, 141 (see his perceptive comments on pp. 140-44). Cf. Nygren, Ro-

mans, 213. Various Jewish authors attributed the advent of sin to Satan (e.g., Wis 2:14) and

Eve (e.g., Apoc. Mos. 32.2), not Adam directly. Paul himself can associate Eve with humanity's

fall (Rom 7:11; 2 Cor 11:,3; 2 Tim 2:13-14), without, however, holding her responsible for it.

Deut. R. 9 (206a), like Paul, blames Adam. 2 Apoc. Bar. 54.15 also formally agrees with Paul

that it was Adam who sinned first and brought death upon all who were not in his own time

(but see below n. 65).

47 J. D. G. Dunn, Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the

Doctrine of the Incarnation (London: SCM, 1980) 101. Cf. Davies, Paul, 55.

48 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans (London: Tyndale, 1963) 126.

49 These have been detailed by Cranfield, Romans 1.274-79; id., "On Some of the Problems

of the Interpretation of Romans 5.12," SJT 22 (1969) 330-38; Johnson, "Romans 5:12,"

306-13; J. Murray, The Imputation of Adam's Sin (repr. Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed,


50 Käsemann, Romans, 147.

51 E.g., Murray, Imputation, 9 n. 10; Bruce, Romans, 130.

52 S. Lyonnet, "Le sens de e]f ] &$ en Rom 5, 12 et l’exégèse des Péres grecs," Bib 36 (1955)

436-56, as followed by numerous scholars (but see the criticisms of Brandenburger, Adam,

171-720). For example, M. Black, Romans (NCB; London: Oliphants, 1973) 89, proposes that




The referent of h!marton is a much more complicated matter. For reasons

to be clarified presently, the view propounded here is that the verb has to

do with the human situation resultant from its union with Adam. Paul, in

other words, explains the universal sway of death to be due to the sin =

apostasy of mankind, as rooted in the sin = apostasy of the first Adam.

 !Hmarton, accordingly, gives voice to mankind's repetition (in principle) of

Adam's trespass, thus giving rise to the spread of sin and death throughout

the human family. Among the commentators, the stance assumed by me is

approximated by Cranfield (following the lead of Calvin), who understands

h!marton in terms of "the fruit of the desperate moral debility and cor-

ruption which resulted from man's primal transgression and which all suc-

ceeding generations of mankind have inherited."53 This is preferable, I

think, to the imputation of Adam's guilt. However, even it is not precisely

the point.

It is not to be overlooked that in Romans 5 Paul's thought is steeped in

the creation. Thus, while it is true that humanity in Adam inherits a "sinful

nature," eventuating in an aversion to God and his law, the most relevant

thing we can say is that man in Adam enters the world devoid of the Spirit of God.

As writers in the Reformed tradition have affirmed, Adam was made to be

the temple of the Holy Spirit.54 Therefore, when he fell, he forfeited the

indwelling of the Spirit, so that all his descendants emerge from the womb

bereft of the Spirit. As formed in the likeness of "the man of dust" (1 Cor

15:49), man in Adam, in Paul's words elsewhere, is a yuxiko>j a@nqrwpoj

(1 Cor 2:13),55 possessing, in his fallenness, an a]do<kimoj nou?j (Rom 1:28).

Vis-à-vis Cranfield and others, Ridderbos and Berkouwer are quite right

that the present context directly concerns fallen man's immediate in-

volvement in Adam's sin and death, not moral corruption as such.56 This

is why I have sought to emphasize that "sin" in the first instance is not

so much "depravity" as a (damnation-) historical state iintroduced


the expression should be translated "wherefore, from which it follows [= thus providing
proof], that all men, like Adam, sinned." Another alternative is proposed by Cambier ("Péchés," 242-51),

who renders e]f ] &$ as "celui qui," with a]nqrw<pouj as the antecedent.

53 Cranfield, Romans 1.278; id., "Problems," 335-40; Calvin, Romans, 111-12; id., Institutes,

2.1.8. Cf. Leenhardt, Romans, 141-46; Sanday/Headlam, Romans, 134. "Surely there must be

something inherent in being human that causes everyone, without exception., to decide to

worship idols rather than the true God" (Moo, Romans, 335; cf. p. 341). Moo, however, favors

the imputation of Adam's sin.

54 G. Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (repr. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1958)

10-17; M. G. Kline, Images of the Spirit (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980)13-34; Garlington, "Ro-

mans 7:14-24," 214.

55 The yukiko>j a@nqrwpoj of 1 Cor 2:13 is the one to whom the things of the Spirit of God

are foolishness. Man stemming from Adam is not only sw?ma yuxiko<n constitutionally (1 Cor

15:44), he has become yuxiko>j a@nqrwpoj in the pregnant sense of the phrase, i.e., bereft of

the Spirit and unable to discern the plan of God for the ages.

56 H. N. Ridderbos, Aan de Romeinen (Commentaar op het Nieuwe Testament; Kampen:

Kok, 1959) 116; Berkouwer, Sin, 497.

      THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                           103


by Adam.57 Human failing is a reality; yet, in perspective, it is but the

by-product of the apostasy bequeathed by Adam, whose hallmark is the

absence of the Spirit.58 Again thinking in salvation-historical terms, con-

firmation is had by Paul's teaching that the impartation of the Spirit is a

new creation (cf. John 3:6, which also draws on the principle that like begets

like). In becoming the renewed image of God, man in Christ is again

indwelt by the Spirit, whose temple Adam was formed to be. We might say

that whereas the first Adam forfeited the Spirit, the last Adam, in his role

as life-giver, restores the Spirit (1 Cor 15:45). In this regard, Paul actually

transcends the Adam-model in his representation of Christ by ascribing to

him the role of the Creator-Spirit of Gen 1:2; 2:7.

It can be said, then, that Paul's intent in the latter part of v. 12, par-

ticularly evident from the words "and so death spread to all men," is

original death more than original sin; it is original death that furnishes the

background for the actual theme of the section: the origin of life. 59 Adam's

a[marti<a, as chaps. 5-8 clarify, is not so much this or that infraction of the

divine law; it is, rather, a state of estrangement and condemnation, which

can do no other than produce death in the all-embracing sense.60 In this

regard, Moo correctly surmises that sin is given an active role: it "reigns"

(5:20; cf. 6:13); it can be "obeyed" (6:16-17); it pays wages (6:23); it seizes

opportunity (7:8, 11); it "kills" (7:11, 13); it is a power that holds sway in

the world outside of Christ, bringing disaster and death on all humanity.61


57 Cambier points out that the epochal coming of sin into the world parallels the epochal

advent of Christ as "the coming one" ("Péchés," 232-33).

58 This interpretation does not really assume an implicit "middle term," i.e., a bridge from

Adam's sin to ours (Moo, Romans, 337, 354; cf. Murray, Imputation, 67), because the birth of

every person into the world ipso facto guarantees immediate involvement in Adam's sin and

death. But even if such a middle term is required, it is one provided by creation itself. Like

begets like: as Adam sinned (apostatized), so have his progeny, who bear,his image.

59 R. Bultmann, "Adam and Christ According to Romans 5," in Current Issues in New

Testament Interpretation: Essays in Honor of Otto A. Piper (eds. W. Klassen and G. F. Snyder;

London: SCI, 1962) 152; F L. Godet, Commentary on Romans (repr. Grand Rapids: Kregel,
1977) 205; Dunn, Romans 1.273.
One can agree with Moo (Romans, 338 n. 39) that "original

death" requires a corresponding idea of "original sin." But it is the definition of "original sin"

which is the crux of the debate. As Dunn adds later, "Paul could be said to hold a doctrine of
original sin in the sense that from the beginning everyone has been under the power of sin with

death as the consequence, but not a doctrine of original guilt, since individuals are only held

responsible for deliberate acts of defiance against God and his law" (Romans 1.291). The relation

of original sin in Paul and the rabbinic doctrine of the frh rcy, is here being left an open

question, except to say that the element of choice appears to figure in both (Gambier, "Péchés,"


60 See M. Stuart, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (London: William Tegg, 1857)

206-7; Dunn, Romans 1.275-76; Schlier, Römerbrief, 160-61, who writes that this is death in the

sense of a]pw<leia and a]po<llusqai, the outworking of God's o]rgh< and the te<loj of sin (6:21).

Brandenburger, Adam, 165-67, adds that qa<natoj is man's radical lostness before God

(kata<krima), as is shown by the antithesis of qa<natoj-zwh> ai]w<nioj (vv. 12, 17, 21).

61 Moo, Romans, 331. Sanday/Headlam similarly describe sin as "a malignant force let

loose among mankind" (Romans, 132). For this reason, death is also depicted in tyrant-like




"Paul," Käsemann adds, "is not speaking primarily of act and punishment

but of ruling powers which implicate all people individually and every-

where determine reality as destiny."62 All this suggests that sin is far more

than guilt forensically considered; it is, in fact, a life-force of its own.

While individual acts of sin are the outgrowth of this a[marti<a, the con-

sistent use of the singular noun throughout Romans 5-8 intimates that Paul

looks upon sin as a unified and coherent whole;63 along with death and the

law, it stands for the old creation as that entity hostile to God and aligned

with evil. If, as seems to be the case, Paul distinguishes between "sin" and

"transgression," the latter is but the unavoidable consequence of the

former, "an inward disposition of rebellion against God rising out of ex-

altation of the self."64 To put it most pointedly, "sin" is apostasy. Paul,

therefore, can insist in 6:5-11 that the believer has died to sin, i.e., re-

nounced his former condition of rebellion: his orientation is now to the new

age and its ideals. This means, on the other hand, that the contrast between

chap. 6 and 7:14-25 is not as stark as has been imagined, because while one

can renounce in principle the values of the old life, those values still seek

to assert their dominance, thus setting up the conflict depicted in 7:14-25.

It is in this setting that h!marton, which focuses attention on human

activity subsequent to Adam, speaks of the race in its imitation of its fore-

bear,65 with the effect that death spread to all people, "taking hold of each


terms. See C. C. Black, "Pauline Perspectives on Death in Romans 5-8," JBL 103 (1984)


62 Käsemann, Romans, 150 (on v. 14). Cf. Gambier, "Péchés," 233-34; Brandenburger,

Adam, 160 et passim.

63 See Beker, Paul, 189-90. Moo points out that 5:12-8:13 contains 65 percent (42 of 64) of

Paul's usages of a[marti<a—and all are in the singular (Romans, 331). He further contends that

"sin" (in the singular) is composed of individual acts of sin; these, he says, are a principle or

network of sin, "which is so pervasive and dominant that the person's destiny is determined

by the those actions." I would want to say, rather, that the various actions, or "sins," are

determined by the "sin" which is Adam's rebellion. A person's actions, of course, have a

bearing on his destiny. Yet in Adam one's destiny has already been fixed, until, that is, one

is transferred into Christ.

64 C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (HNTC; New York: Harper
& Row, 1957) 112.

65 "The distinction between the ‘one’ and the ‘all’ is matched by the distinction between

a[marti<a and h!marton. . . ." (Dunn, Romans 274). Reference is frequently made to 2 Apoc. Bar.

54.19: "Adam is, therefore, not the cause, except only for himself, but each of us has become

his own Adam." In context, the statement reminds Israel that Adam's choice to forsake God

does not have to be the choice of everyone. While death is inevitable because of his sin (v. 15),

judgment is not. Hence, individuals must decide for future glory so as to avoid the coming

torment (vv. 15-16); those who choose otherwise are the unrighteous, who do not love God's

law and refuse to be instructed by his creation (vv. 14, 17-18). Inasmuch as both this author

and Paul highlight human responsibility, there is a formal agreement between them. However,

any attempt to draw a direct parallel must take cognizance of one important qualification,

viz., that in the latter the faithful and the wicked both reside within the community of Israel.

Throughout the apocalypse the scribe speaks to the people and, e.g., in chaps. 41-42 he

confronts the issue of apostasy from the covenant. Hence, the ability to choose assumed by the

          THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                                  105


individual man in turn, as the generations succeeded one another."66 This

is the sin whose essential traits return in every sin:67 "As poison once swal-

lowed penetrates to all parts of the body, so it happened in Adam, in whom

the whole race was virtually contained; in him the tendency to dissolution

victoriously asserted itself over all the individuals that were to come, so that

every one of them was born dying."68 It is in this sense that David confesses

that he was brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin (Ps 51:5). Not

only so, the gravity of the human condition grows exponentially with the

birth of every new person into the world,69 beginning with Cain, whose

murder of his brother followed immediately upon his father's rebellion

against God.

      It is in this all-embracive sense that death ei]j pa<ntaj a]nqrw<pouj

dih?lqen; it has permeated (Murray) and pervaded (Sanday/Headlam) Adam's

race in toto. Though it is true that several times in Romans 5 Paul calls our

attention to the one man through whom sin and death became realities,

there is reason to think that his concern is equally with the ko<smoj or the

people to whom death has penetrated.70 Wilckens calls attention to the fact

that v. 12 (vv. 18-19) does not mention Adam by name, from which he infers

that Paul's interest lies not so much in Adam personally as in his role of the

portal through which the world became the place of death's activity. That

is to say, Adam's sin is significant because it occasioned the demise of the

ko<smoj.71 Without, then, downplaying the repeated stress on the one man,


words "Adam is not the cause, except only for himself' is to be located within its covenant

context, as are similar statements in, e.g., Sir 1:26; 15:15; 21:11; Tob 4:5; Pss. Sol. 9.7; T. Ash.

1; 4 Macc 1:15; CD 3.3. Cf. Garlington, "Romans 7:14-25," 221 n. 105. In distinction, the

impression left by Paul is that Adam's descendants not only willingly imitate his example, they

are compelled to do so because they partake of a community of nature with him, including—

quite radically—Israel.

66 Cranfield, Romans 1.274.

67 Berkouwer, Sin, 274.

68 Godet, Romans, 206.

69 See Leenhardt, Romans, 143. Paul's own thought is remarkably similar to 4 Ezra 3.7-11,

20-27; 4.30; 7.118. L. Morris observes that Paul is not simply repeating a Jewish common-

place, since no other author goes as far as he. Nonetheless, these references show that his

position developed naturally from his Jewish background (The Epistle to the Romans [Grand

Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988] 230 n. 47). Cf. Wright, "Adam," 370. C. K. Barrett, From First Adam

to Last: A Study in Pauline Theology (London: A. & C. Black, 1962) 8-9, 14-15, deduces that the

common element between Paul and the various Jewish writers is the disastrous effects of

Adam's sin, which are ultimately cosmic in proportion. Cf. Scroggs, Adam, 17-20, 33-38;

Wedderburn, "Structure," 344-45.

70 On ko<smoj, see J. G. Gibbs, Creation and Redemption: A Study in Pauline Theology
(NovTSup 26; Leiden: Brill, 1971) 51 n. 2; Garlington, "Romans 7:14-25," 226-27 n. 126.

71 Wilckens, Römer 1.315. Dunn calls Adam an "epochal figure," i.e., he is "the one who

initiated the first major phase of human history and thereby determined the character of that

phase for those belonging to it" (Romans 1.289). Cf. Barth, Shorter Commentary, 61; Ridderbos,

Romeinen, 112; A. J. M. Wedderburn, "Adam in Paul's Letter to the Romans," in Studia Biblica

1978. III. Papers on Paul and Other New Testament Authors (JSNTSup 3; ed. E. A. Livingston;

Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1980) 423.

106                        WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


whose significance we shall explore below, it follows that the preposition dia<

should receive at least equal stress: it was through the one man that all have

been affected for ill. When in vv. 18-19 Paul returns to his original point,

it is this preposition which will serve to underscore the instrumental sig-

nificance of Christ for the new humanity's obedience and life.72

Thus far it has been intimated that within the cadre of the present

passage the terms "sin" and "disobedience" are to be regarded specifically

as apostasy. The basis for this assumption now needs to be clarified. In a

nutshell, not only is such a connotation appropriate because of the focus on

perseverance in Romans 5 but also because of several supporting consider-

ations: the precedent established by the earlier portion of Romans, Paul's

Jewish heritage, and parallels in other NT authors. To these we now turn.

      That sin, which has opened the floodgates to death and destruction,

ought to be interpreted in the terms proposed is supported by Paul's use of

identical language earlier in the letter. According to Rom 2:12, one of the

things held in common by Jew and Gentile is sin: o!soi ga>r a]no<mwj

h!marton, a]no<mwj a]polou?ntai: kai> o!soi e]n no<m& h!marton, a]no<mwj

kriqh<sontai. The verb a[marta<nw here stands over against Adam's orig-

inal quest for glory, honor, and immortality, commensurate with his con-

tinued trust in the word of God and commitment to the person of his

Creator.73 "Sin," therefore, is apostasy or mankind's failure to attain to its

raison d’être.

Rom 3:23 epitomizes the whole of human history with the words pa<ntej

h!marton kai> u[sterou?ntai th?j do<chj tou? qeou?. The phrase pa<ntej

h!marton, which is the precise combination of words found in 5:12, glances

back to 3:9: pa<nta u[f ] a[marti<an ei#nai, Paul's conclusion from the forego-

ing discussion of mankind's rebellion against God the Creator. In fact, 3:23

itself is a summary of 1:18-3:20, in which Adam/creation motifs occupied

a place of some prominence. With the willing compliance of the first man,

the agenda of creation was sabotaged by Satan, and all who bear Adam's

likeness continue his resistance to the Creator and thus fall perpetually

short of the divine image (note the present tense of u[sterou?ntai). Human-

ity (including Israel) in Adam is idolatrous (apostate) by definition: all his

progeny bear his image in that they are born in a condition of estrangement

from God (cf. Ps 51:5), with an inbuilt disposition to serve the creature

rather than the Creator. Hence, 3:23, as it distills the whole of 1:18-3:20,

sheds a considerable amount of light on 5:12, especially as the verse pro-

vides another point of contact with chap. 5, viz., the creation term "glory."



72 The same is true of 1 Cor 15:21. Stuart (Romans, 204) remarks that dia<, designates
the causa principalis, not the mere secondary, instrumental, or occasional cause. Note
how in vv. 18-19
di ] e[no<j is complemented by ei]j pa<ntaj and pa<ntaj a]nqrw<pouj,
who are made either sinners or righteous.

73 Garlington, "Obedience of Faith, II," esp. 56-61.

THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                               107


That is to say, humanity's shortfall of the glory of God is its failure to be

the accurate image of God (Ps 8:5).74

Wedderburn maintains that this interpretation of a[marta<nw is supported

by the fact that Paul normally uses the verb with regard to responsible and

personal sinning, particularly in the Romans passages just cited, in which,

he remarks, "Paul's whole argument would be vitiated if any mouth were

not stopped by the consciousness of its own guilt before God."75 The clause

pa<ntej h!marton, therefore, in both cases is to be taken in the same sense,

i.e., death has spread to all because all have sinned, i.e., have apostatized, because

of their union with Adam. Thus interpreted, the aorist in each instance is

constative (summary) and is to be translated by the English present perfect tense.76

As to Paul's Jewish background, of obvious significance is Genesis 3's

account of the fall of Adam. Without going into any real detail, the heart

of the narrative is to the effect that "Adam endeavoured to set himself in

the place of God . . . and in that moment sin was born."77 Not content with

being God's image, he aspired to be as God himself. "Man was unwilling

to recognize a Lord; he chose to be Lord himself, and to glorify himself,"78

all because the Serpent "twisted the instruction of the Creator given for

man's good and made it sound like the legislation of a dictator fearful of

losing his special status and prerogatives. Thus deceived, man clutched at

a godlike life and grasped only death."79 From that point on, the Creator/

creature distinction was distorted, rendering Adam an idolater and a de-

fector from the covenantal bond established in the creation.80 Berkouwer,

then, justifiably writes that although the word fall does not does not occur

in Genesis 3, “sin is pictured as apostasy from God.”81

      Moving briefly to postbiblical Judaism, we find that "sin" assumes pre-

cisely the meaning of apostasy in Sir 24:22: "Whoever obeys me will not be


74 On man as the glory-image of God, see Kline, Images, 13-43.

75 Wedderburn, "Structure," 351. He further remarks that a reference to individual guilt

makes the best sense in the light of Jewish parallels (ibid., 352). See the defense of this

interpretation of a[marta<nw and a[marti<a by Brandenburger, Adam, 175-76 (who passes on

other references, p. 175 n. 3); Stuart, Romans, 213-17, 220-27; Cambier, "Peches," 235-41. The

verb a[marta<nw is used of Adam's own personal sin in v. 16a, so that the sin of his posterity matches his own.

76 Cf. Cranfield, Romans 1.279; Cambier, "Péchés," 241; A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the

Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 833. As
contra Morris (Romans, 231), the aorist in 5:12 no more has to point to "one act in the past," i.e., the
sin of Adam, than in 2:12 and 3:23.

77 Barrett, Romans, 111. On the motif of Adam's idolatry in Rom 1:18-32, based on Genesis

3, see M. D. Hooker, "Adam in Romans I," NTS 6 (1959-60) 297-306; Dunn, Christology,

101-2; Barrett, Adam, 17-20; Wedderburn, "Adam," 413-19.

78 Barrett, Romans, 36-37 (on 1:21).

79 Dunn, Christology, 103.

80 See Garlington, "Romans 7:14-25," 207-10, and the literature cited, to which I would

add Berkouwer, Sin, 268-74.

81 Berkouwer, Sin, 268. Likewise Calvin, Institutes 2.1.4; A. Schlatter, Gottes Gerechtigkeit:
Ein Kommentar zum Römerbrief
(Stuttgart: Calwer, 1935) 192.




put to shame, and those who work with my help will not sin." This is to be

compared with Sir 4:15-16 and 15:15:


He who obeys her will judge the nations,

and whoever gives heed to her will dwell secure.

If he has faith in her he will obtain her;

and his descendants will remain in possession of her.

If you will, you can keep the commandments,

and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.


In these several pronouncements, the scribe exhorts his students to obey

wisdom or the Torah. According to the immediate context of 4:15-16 (vv.

17-19), one is to give heed to wisdom because she is a tester of those who

come forward to serve the Lord (cf. Sir 2:1-6). The author here casts his

disciples in the role of Israel tested in the wilderness, to see if they will

persevere in trials and confirm their confidence in wisdom, their guide and

disciplinarian.82 Sir 15:15 places in parallel keeping the commandments

and faithful action, which is not "legalistic" perfection but the disciple's

continued allegiance to his covenant commitment.83 It is in comparison

with these kindred statements that the saying of 24:22 makes sense: "Who-

ever obeys me will not be put to shame, and those who work with my help

[e]n e]moi<] will not sin." (Note how Ben Sira quite naturally associates two

of the most crucial terms of Rom 5:12-19, "obedience" and "sin.") In light

of the sage's encouragement to confess one's shortcomings (4:26), "sin"

cannot have reference to sinless perfection, and, because of the parallelismus

membrorum of the verse, "obey" likewise cannot mean anything approach-

ing this. Rather, wisdom's promise is that the obedient person will not sin

so as to forsake Yahweh and incur judgment (contrast 2 Apoc. Bar. 54.22, in

context). This was particularly relevant for Ben Sira, given the incipient

Hellenistic encroachments on Israelite religion and culture in his day.84

Compatible with the perspective of Ben Sira is the claim of the Wisdom

of Solomon that "We will not sin, because we know that we are accounted

thine" (Wis 15:2). The immediate context dictates that the "sin" in ques-

tion is idolatry or apostasy. By way of parallel, Wis 14:29-31 is especially

relevant. The writer condemns those who trust in lifeless idols, devote them-

selves to, i.e., obey (prose<xw) them, and, consequently, have contempt for

the holiness of God's covenant. Accordingly, there is a "just penalty for

those who sin." Therefore, a[marta<nw assumes in this setting the specific

connotation of abandonment of Yahweh in favor of a pagan lifestyle. But,

for the writer, because believers are accounted God's, their perseverance is

assured. In terms of Wis 15:3, the faithful possess the knowledge of God,


82 I have treated the text in Obedience, 26-28.

83 See further ibid., 31-33.

84 See ibid., 15-19, and the other literature cited.

           THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                                      109


which is the root of their immortality, as opposed to idols, which have no

power to confer eternal life. This reading of "sin" in the passage is but-

tressed by the motif of the testing of the righteous sons of God which

permeates the book of Wisdom.85

In view of the above texts, the statement of Pr Man 8 is perfectly corn-

prehensible: "Thou therefore, O Lord, that art the God of the just, hast not

appointed repentance to the just, to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, who

have not sinned against thee; but thou hast appointed repentance to me

that am a sinner." A casual reading would suggest that the author is attrib-

uting sinlessness to Israel's patriarchs. To "sin," however, means "commit

idolatry." The Prayer places this confession in the mouth of Manasseh, one

of the most wicked of the Israelite kings, who made his children pass

through the fire of idolatrous sacrifice. So, for this author repentance has

been appointed even for the worst kind of sinner, the idolater and the

apostate. The "just," by contrast, do not need repentance in the sense

intended, because they have never forsaken the covenant. Cf. Pss. Sol. 17:36

and T. Jud. 24:1, which predicate "sin"-lessness of the Messiah.

Such a meaning of "sin" is also in evidence in NT authors other than

Paul. The Epistle to the Hebrews warns its readers, "If we sin deliberately

after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sac-

rifice for sins" (Heb 10:26). The adverb "deliberately" or "willingly"

(e[kousi<wj), as H. W. Attridge comments, reflects the Pentateuchal dis-

tinction between high-handed and inadvertent sins, which, he says, was

widely recognized in postbiblical Judaism. "As the sequel indicates, our

author has in mind a specific willful sin, that of apostasy."86 It goes without

saying that the burden of the entire letter is perseverance.

1 John 3:4-9 equates sin with lawlessness (a]nomi<a). The concept of law-

lessness is one which, in Jewish history and literature, comes into promi-

nence during the Greek persecution and Maccabean revolt of the second

century BC. To make a long story very short, the lawless (a@nomoi and

para<nomoi) correspond to the "Sons of Belial," who, according to Deuter-

onomy 13, arose from the people to induce them to worship foreign gods.

Lawlessness, in other words, was apostasy.87 John's own equation of sin as

lawlessness fits very easily into this category, so that the a]nomi<a which is

a[marti<a, and vice versa (both subject and predicate are preceded by an

article), is not to be reduced to individual infractions of God's law; it is,

rather, the abandonment of God himself This is why John can identify the one

who sins with the Devil, who "has sinned from the beginning" (v. 8). The

apostate, in other words, bears the image of the one responsible for man-

kind's primal falling away in the Garden of Eden.



85 See ibid., 74-79, 84-86.

86 H. W. Attridge, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989) 292. Cf. Dunn,

Romans 1.275.

87 See Garlingtion, Obedience, 91-102 et passim.




Stephen Smalley confirms that elsewhere in the NT lawlessness bears a

technical meaning and can serve as a description of the "Satan-inspired

rejection of God and his law that will be manifest in the present age and

will come to a climax before Christ's second coming." "It implies," conse-

quently, "not merely breaking God's law, but flagrantly opposing him (in

Satanic fashion) by so doing."88 I. H. Marshall concurs: "To commit sin is

thus to place oneself on the side of the Devil and the Antichrist and to stand

in opposition to Christ." He argues that this understanding of "lawlessless"

is in keeping with John's earlier teaching on the presence of the Antichrist

in the world. "One cannot hope for the appearing of Christ and at the same

time persist in the sin which signifies rebellion against him. Sin is not a

matter of isolated peccadillos: it is an expression of siding with God's ul-

timate enemy—the Devil (vv. 8-10)."89 It is in this specific sense that John

can affirm that anyone born of God does not "sin," i.e., apostatize (1 John

5:18): he is kept by Christ, and the evil one does not touch him. But because

temptations to apostasy are always present, John feels compelled to remind

his readers to keep themselves from idols (5:21), particularly as there is such

a thing as a sin which is "unto death" (5:16), i.e., apostasy.90

In encouraging his fellow Christians to persevere through the fiery trial

to which they have been called, Peter places before them the example of

Christ, who did not sin and on whose lips no deceit was found (1 Pet 2:22).

The words o!j a[marti<an ou]k e]poi<hsen ou]de> eu[re<qh do<loj e]n t&? sto<mati

au]tou? are quoted from the LXX of Isa 53:9, except that a[marti<an is sub-

stituted for a]nomi<an. For Isaiah, a]nomi<a (smH) is significant because of the

bitter irony involved in the treatment the Servant of Yahweh: he is to be cut

off from the people as an apostate from the covenant, although, in fact, he

was not guilty of such "lawlessness." Peter's perspective is the same: he

would have his readers understand that Jesus, even in the face of abusive

speech insinuating his guilt (v. 23), did not repay evil with evil; rather he

continued to entrust himself to the one who judges righteously and finally

finished his course.

The change of a]nomi<a to a[marti<a in the quotation may be accounted for

by its second clause. The first man on whose lips deceit was found was

Adam, who sought to cover his sin (cf. Prov 28:13) by blaming his disobe-

dience immediately on his wife and ultimately on God (Gen 3:12). For

Isaiah, the Servant's refusal to commit a]nomi<a is the reverse of Adam's

apostasy and attempted cover-up. Again Peter's concern is the same as the

prophet's; but in substituting "sin" for "lawlessness," he draws on a synon-

ymous term (as evidenced by John's usage) which places it beyond doubt


88 S. Smalley 1, 2, 3 John (WBC; Waco: Word, 1984) 155. Paul's own phrase o[ a@nqrwpoj

th?j a]nomi<<aj (2 Thess 2:3) may be an allusion to Adam, the first man associated with a]nomi<a

or apostasy (Barrett, Adam, 14). It is particularly striking that the same verse connects this man

with h[ a]postasi<a.

89 I. H. Marshall, The Epistles of John (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978) 176, 177.

90 See Smalley, 1 John, 297-98.


THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH                            111


that, unlike Adam, Christ did not forsake his Father and then resort to

deceit to excuse his rebellion.

In light of these data, the assertion of 1 Pet 2:22 is not a generalized or

abstract statement of the sinlessness of Christ: it is an assurance that the

believer can endure in the midst of persecution, because his Lord, the one

who refused to repeat the infidelity of Adam, "did not sin." In his own way,

Peter, as Paul, represents Christ as another Adam, who succeeds where his

predecessor failed.

Apart from "sin," "disobedience" frequently in the OT and usually in

intertestamental literature is tantamount to apostasy. The materials are too

massive even to begin to canvass. I can only relate the conclusion drawn

from a previous study of the Jewish materials:91 whereas obedience is a

commitment to God's covenant as articulated by the law of Moses, dis-

obedience is apostasy from the covenant and the God of the covenant. The

same connotation is brought over in the NT in Heb 3:18-19, where "those

who were disobedient" were unable to enter the land because of unbelief It

is the disobedience (= unbelief) of the first wilderness generation which in

Hebrews is juxtaposed to the obedience of Christ (e.g., 5:8) and the obe-

dience to which its readers are called (e.g., 3:7-19).

In keeping with these examples in Romans and in Jewish and Christian

sources, which have to do directly with ideas associated with the train of

thought in Romans 5, I would suggest that a pattern within the letter is

observable. Rom 1:18-3:20 is Paul's indictment of the "sin" of the human

race, depicted in Adam-like terms. Rom 3:23 (preceded by 3:9) summarizes

the entire first portion of the letter with its declaration that "all have sinned

and fall short of the glory of God. Rom 5:1-11 similarly epitomizes the

"sin" of man outside Christ with the terms "ungodly," "sinners," "ene-

mies," and "wrath." Rom 5:12-19 then builds upon the foundation laid in

the earlier chapters by making explicit what was more or less implicit

before; that is, the human race's estrangement from God the Creator is

traceable back to the first human being, Adam, whose "sin" and "dis-

obedience" plunged the world into grief. All this sets the stage for Paul's

presentation of another Adam, who by his "righteousness" and "obedi-

ence" rectifies the apostasy of his predecessor and its consequences on his

race: the divine program for man which broke down with Adam is to be run

through again, this time in the person of Jesus.92

Finally, in our consideration of Rom 5:12, there is the scope of "all" in

Paul's assertion that pa<ntej h!marton. It is often charged that the above

interpretation fails to reckon with the reality of infant mortality, especially

in light of the statement of v. 14 that death reigned from Adam to Moses,

even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam's trespass. Suffice

it to say that the objection overlooks the phenomenon that pa<ntej in


91 Garlington, Obedience, passim.

92 Dunn, Christology, 111.

112                        WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


5:12-19 has primary reference to Jew and Gentile without distinction, in

keeping with the other occurrences of "all" in Romans. Likewise in 3:23,

the same "all" who have fallen short of God's glory are justified by God's

grace (3:24). In both 3:23 and 5:12 pa<ntej is ethnically qualitative, not quan-

titative: Paul's argument is that Israel, as much as the Gentiles, is in Adam

and repeats his sin. As such, the fate of infants (and the mentally deficient)

simply does not fall within his horizon,93 although it is true the tragedy of

infant mortality does relate to the Adam/humanity solidarity as actually

developed by Paul: infants die because they are "in Adam" (1 Cor 15:22)

and, therefore, inherit the legacy left by him—death.

(to be continued)


Toronto Baptist Seminary

130 Gerrard Street East

Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5A 3T4






93 Cf. Calvin, Romans, 113; Stuart, Romans, 215-16; Godet, Romans, 207; Cranfield,

"Problems," 339; Moo, Romans, 339 (n. 40), 343; Dunn, Romans 1.276; J. Denny, "St. Paul"

Epistle to the Romans," in The Expositor's Greek New Testament (repr. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,

1970) 2.627; Kaylor, Community, 110; Wedderburn, "Structure," 351; Cambier, "Péchés," 253.




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            Westminster Theological Seminary

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