Romans - Lesson 24

Class discussion on Romans 5:12-21

This lesson is a class discussion on Romans 5:12-21. 

Lesson 24
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Class discussion on Romans 5:12-21

Romans 5:12-21 Discussion

A. why Is there Such a Problem with This?

B. What is Death Reigning About?

C. There Was Faith in Adam’s Day

D. This Could have Something to do With the Jewish Law

E. What Does it Mean that God Passed Over Those Sins

F. What About Infant Death?

G. Passing through Physical Death

Class Resources
  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.

Please note that the audio mp3 file numbers on downloaded files are two greater than each lecture number beginning with number 15.

Dr. Douglas Moo 
Class Discussion on Romans 5:12-21  
Lesson Transcript


Class Discussion on Romans 5:12-21 

A. Challenges in Interpreting Romans 5:12 

The preposition eph ho can mean something like whereupon, on which, it doesn’t have to be because. But there is a real reticence to accept that as a reading, and to me that solves the problem because it is saying “on death passing into humanity, all sinned.” So, then you don’t have to worry about in Adam or anything else, it’s just saying that sin is a by-product of spiritual death.  To me it solves the problem. I don’t understand why there is such reticence. 

Dr. Moo: 
I would argue that it creates a problem. The problem has two levels it seems to me with that view. It is a fairly popular view. Tom Schreiner argues this in his commentary; Fitzmeyer in his commentary argues it. So, it is not the majority view, but it is certainly fairly popular.

The problem I have with taking it that way is two-fold. First of all, the idea that death spread to everyone on the basis of which, that is death, all sinned. You really have to add something to have this make any sense at all. On the basis of death, all sinned. Death spread to everybody, on the basis of death, all sinned. 

The question then is what does death mean here? Should we take death to mean a corrupt human nature? This is a meaning for the word that I don’t find anywhere else in scripture. So that to me creates a problem to begin with. 

The second problem is that it reverses the way Paul argues in verses 18 and 19 which are parallel. In the verses 18 and 19, the argument is not that people sin because they are dead; the argument is that people die because they sin. That then would mean that verse 12 seems to run in the opposite direction that Paul is very clearly arguing in verses 18 and 19.

Those are the contextual reasons I have a problem with it. Yes, the phrase in Greek can mean, ‘on the basis of which’ or something like that. It also means ‘because’ very often as well. To me, it is very significant when so many of the English translations use the word ‘because’ here. 

Let me methodologically talk about that for a moment, not just because I am a translator, but because translations are processes that the text has gone through. When you have a translation, that translation has been through the sieve of a number of different people. They are looking at the text and arguing about what it means and then they come to a conclusion.  Therefore, our English translations are an invaluable exegetical resource that I think are underused sometimes. 

All commentators, me included, have their personal bias; we are writing our own views. Sometimes they are not checked very carefully; most of these are serious editors, but sometimes the editors do a very light job and don’t really get involved very much interacting with what you are doing. 

Once a particular word or phrase ends up in an English translation of the Bible, it has been through several committees usually and a lot of scholars have looked at it, argued about it and debated it. Those tend to be the more legitimate exegetical options. Often by comparing six or seven translations of the Bible you can really have a window into the options of any verse. Here are the different exegetical views that emerge. 

Now, the fact that English translations haven’t picked up that alternative up is not a definitive case against it by any means. But it does suggest to me that people are seeing the same kind of problems that I am seeing and that is why they tend to translate it as ‘because’ here.


B. What is the Meaning of “Death Reigned until Moses”? 

I struggle with verse 14 talking about death reigning until Moses, even though they hadn’t broken the law. I think also about Enoch who walked with God and was taken to be with God; he did not die.  It is a curious thing to me in verse 14 and what it means when he says that death reigned.

Dr. Moo: 
Verse 14 is one of those verses where we all have this experience. We try to work with a passage and understand it; we read everybody we can think of but at the end of the day, we still don’t really understand it. This is that kind of verse for me; I am still not sure about verse 13 and 14. People keep writing about it. I read an article on it three or four months ago about it; it was on a new way of reading the two verses. It was interesting but I wasn’t completely convinced in what it was saying. They are difficult verses. It’s really tough. 

Clearly Paul wants to say that people between Adam and Moses were caught up in sin and condemned because of it. Even before the Law of Moses was given, God counts sin against people. I think we are going to see in Romans 7 especially that Paul also sees that the coming of God’s Law increased responsibility for sin. That might be the sort of thing that Paul is talking about here.


C. There was Faith in Adam’s Day. 

I try to view it from faith to faith, and so maybe this is an implied way of saying that even back in Adam’s day, it was faith that would save you. 

Dr. Moo: 
That could be part of it as well. In verses 13 and 14, this is where Paul sort of interrupts himself with these two verses. He interrupts himself in terms of the Law. That is a thread throughout Romans, even when Paul is talking about Adam and Christ, he has to recognize that he has to say something about the Law here also because that was such a significant moment in the history of Israel. He does the same thing in verse 20 as well where he talks about the Law: “The Law was brought in so that the trespass might increase.” Paul’s point again is to say, particularly against the Jewish understanding, that he hadn’t talked about the Law because the Law didn’t provide a solution to Adam’s sin. The Law made the situation worse if anything. Paul feels the need to bring in the issue of the Law here in some way.


D. This Could Have Something to do with Jewish Teaching regarding Sin: 

I wonder whether he is responding to a Jewish teaching that people didn’t die until they transgressed the Law. 

Dr. Moo: 
That is possible; the Jewish people put so much emphasis on the Law and you do have, in some Jewish writings an interest in the age of accountability; when does a Jewish child become truly responsible for their spiritual state? Hence, the Bar Mitzvah, the Bas Mitzvah, that developed out of that idea. 

So, a person is relatively sin free but then at that first conscious sin, that first rebellion against the Law, they began to die.  

Dr. Moo: 
It would make sense against that background.


E. What Does it Mean that God “Passed Over” Sins? 

We are talking about death reigning from Adam to Moses, in chapter 3:25 it talks about God passed over former sins. How do you bring those two together? 

Dr. Moo: 
The “pass over” there has a sense that God did not punish with the full seriousness that sin deserved. It doesn’t mean that God ignored it or over-looked it. Paul knows his Old Testament well enough. He knows that all of those people died; all those people were condemned and the Old Testament makes that clear. It is the fact that God did not punish sin with the eternal death that it deserved, and that is because of Christ.


F. What About Infant Death and Salvation?  

You brought up infant death and have probably answered the question many times.  I’ve heard Piper answer the question and he will on the one hand say that the elect are saved, and not elect, but that all infants that have will be saved. But I never heard an explanation of how that works.

Dr. Moo: 
I don’t understand that either. Granted Piper’s theology, in my view this is somewhat an inconsistent approach. So, I am not sure how he works that out either.


G. Universal Death is Spiritual, not Physical: 

What about the two men in the Old Testament who did not die? 

Dr. Moo: 
There are always exceptions that make the rule as it were. Obviously, these two men were transformed in a sense directly from life into heaven. I would argue that they did die spiritually, that they, like all human beings they were in spiritual death, but their faith rescued them from that death. They didn’t pass through the experience of physical death, just as believers who are alive when Christ returns will not pass through the experience of physical death. But that doesn’t mean that they weren’t spiritually dead at some point. 

Since Paul is talking about spiritual death, his point is that is a universal experience. Not all human beings will experience physical death. You have exceptions in the Old Testament and you have a lot of people who will be exceptions, Christians who are alive when Christ returns in glory. That doesn’t mean that they weren’t spiritually dead, which is the point Paul is focusing on here.