SPECIAL TOPIC: THE FALL (Genesis 3; see exegetical notes online in commentary of Genesis) IN THE NT

That the Fall affected all mankind is clearly expressed by Paul in Rom. 5:12-21.  He develops his theology of the sinfulness of all humanity in the book of Romans.  The first point of "the good news" of the gospel is the bad news of human need!  Paul develops this from Rom. 1:18-3:18 (the summary conclusion is Rom 3:19-31).  Romans describes the lostness, sinfulness, and need of all human beings.

1. immoral pagans

2. moral pagans

3. Jews

Everyone is responsible to God because of

1. natural revelation, Rom. 1:18-23

2. internal moral witness,  Rom. 2:14-16

One of the most horrible recurrent phrases in Romans 1-3 is, "God gave them over. . ." (cf. Rom. 1:24,26,28;  Eph. 4:17-19).  A shocking litany of OT texts is quoted in Rom. 3:9-18!  Humans are in deep trouble, need, and rebellion!  One does not need a "Savior" until one recognizes his/her need!


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, cf. Rom. 8:18-23) 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, and Paul, 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?


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