Second Reading: Romans 5:12-15

One Thing Leads To Another

How do you "connect the dots" in a problem? What logic or process do you use to get to the bottom of a problem?

Popular Translation

12 Sin came into the world through the first man. And, because he sinned, he died. Now all people sin, and, so, they, too, will all die. 13 There was sin in the world until the time God gave his people the Law, but there was no list of sins because there was no Law. 14 Still, death ruled the world from Adam the first man to Moses the Law-giver. And even those who did not sin had the face of the sinner Adam. But, he was a model for the one God would send.

15 The gift God offers us is not like sin. If everyone dies because one man sinned, how much greater will the grace of God and the gift of the man Jesus Christ will be for all people!

Literal Translation

12 Because of this, as through one man sin came into the world, and through sin death, so throughout all men passed death, with reference to which all sinned. 13 For until (there was) the Law, sin was in the world, but sin was not detailed since there was no Law, 14 but death reigned from Adam to Moses, and upon those not having sinned the likeness of transgression of Adam, who is a type of the ONE to come.

15 But the grace is thus not like the transgression. For if by the trespass of one (man) many died, how much more the grace of God and the gift of the one man JESUS the CHRIST overflow for the many.

5:12 “Because of this” referred to the subject of reconciliation of humanity to God. In the following verses, Paul summed up salvation history: sin brought death into the world and all men die because all sin. But the death and resurrection of Christ brought an end to death, and, so, to sin.

5:13 “sin was not detailed” is literally “sin was not charged.” In other words, sin was in the cosmos as a reality, but was not detail as an individual offense until God gave his Law to his people.

These verses sum up St. Paul's view of salvation. This is his world view and logic. He presumed the vision of Genesis: God made the world "good." The sorry state of the affairs in the world could be laid squarely at the feet of humanity. Evil existed because people sinned; they disobeyed the will of a benevolent Creator. Even when God gave his people the Law with its list of divinely ordained duties, people still said "NO!" The result of disobedience was death.

Notice Paul assumed a commonly held belief in the ancient world. Death was the ultimate evil and sin was the root cause of that evil. Evil was inescapable, to be sure, but the cause of evil was not fate or divine malevolence. The fault lie with people.

Also notice Paul's logic. Along with other ancient rabbis, he argued in dualistic terms. He separated his arguments into two camps: God and people, black and white, life and death, good and evil. In these verses, Paul separated God from evil by placing the blame on humanity's sin. But, he finishes his argument with another pairing: sin and grace. If sin caused death, what would grace achieve? If death was pervasive, how much greater would grace give life? This was the way Paul stated his rhetorical questions about God's gift.

One thing does lead to another. Yes, we sin, so, we will die. But, beyond death we will have an indescribable life. We will live with God, simply because of his freely given gift of grace.

How much greater is God in your life than evil, sin, and death? How do you experience his great power?