SPECIAL TOPIC: THE FALL
1. The Fall affected all mankind as clearly expressed in Paul's discussion of Rom. 5:12-21.
Romans 5:12-21 is a discussion of Jesus as the second Adam (cf. 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45-49; Phil. 2:6-8). It gives emphasis to the theological concept of both individual sin and corporate guilt. Paul's development of mankind's (and creation's) fall in Adam was unique and different from the rabbis while his view of corporality was very much in line with rabbinical teaching. It showed Paul's ability under inspiration to use, or supplement, the truths he was taught during his training in Jerusalem under Gamaliel (cf. Acts 22:3).
The doctrine of original sin from Geness 3 was developed by Augustine and Calvin. It asserts that humans are born sinful. Often Psalm 51:5; 58:3 and Job 15:14; 25:4 are used as OT proof-texts. The alternate theological position that humans are morally and spiritually responsible for their own choices and destiny was developed first by the rabbis and then in the church by Pelagius and Arminius. There is some evidence for their view in Deut. 1:39; Isa. 7:15 and Jonah 4:11; John 9:41; 15:22,24; Acts 17:30; Rom. 4:15. The thrust of this theological position would be that children are innocent until an age of moral responsibility (for the rabbis this was 13 years old for boys and 12 years old for girls).
There is a mediating position in which both an innate evil propensity and an age of moral responsibility are both true! Evil is not only corporate, but a developing evil of self and sin (life apart from God). The wickedness of humanity is not the issue (cf. Gen. 6:5,11-12,13; Rom. 3:9-18,23), but the when, at birth or later in life?
2. "A new heaven and a new earth" become the NT eschatological theme.
"A new heaven and a new earth." This Greek term for "new," kainos, emphasizes quality, not chronological time (cf. Rev. 3:12; 5:9; 14:3; 21:1,2,5). This was an OT theme, a recreated earth (cf. Isa. 11:6-9; 65:17; 66:22; Rom. 8:18-25; 2 Pet. 3:10,12). All believers are citizens of this new Kingdom (cf. Phil. 3:20; Eph. 2:19; Heb. 12:23) and share this new creation (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 4:24). A parallel theological concept would be the "city of God not made with human hands" of Heb. 11:10,16; 12:22; 13:14.
The new creation will be like the initial creation. Heaven will be a restored Garden of Eden. God, mankind, the animals, and all natural creation will fellowship and rejoice again! The Bible begins with God, mankind, and the animals in perfect fellowship in a garden (cf. Genesis 1-2). The Bible ends with God and mankind in a garden setting (cf. Revelation 21-22) and by prophetic implication, the animals (cf. Isa. 11:6-8; 65:25). Believers are not going to heaven; the new Jerusalem is coming down out of heaven (cf. Rev. 21:2) and coming to a recreated and cleansed earth. God and mankind are together again (cf. Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14; 8:8,10; Rev. 21:3).
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