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AUGUSTINE'S DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL

SIN AS BASED ON

ROMANS 5:12-21

by

Emmanuel Sule

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of

PROVIDENCE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

in Partial Fulfilment of the


Requirements for the Degree

MASTER OF ARTS IN THEOLOGY

1994

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ISBN 0-315-89171-8

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Faculty Advisor:,//,
David Smith

Second Reader:
Terrence Tiessen

Seminary Dean: f\ Yeta? cr/ > 6 _________


David Smith

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Dedication

This work is dedicated to Joyce and Ivah


who sacrificed so much in order for me
to undertake this research.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgment ........................................... i

Introduction ......................... '............... 1

Chapter O n e .......................................... 5

The Patristic Era and Its View of Original Sin . . 5

Chapter T w o .......................................... 21

Original Sin in Augustine ......... 21

A Biographical Sketch of Augustine ............... 21

The Meaning and Nature of Original S i n ........ 27

The Transmission of Original S i n ............. 33

The Effects of Original S i n .................. 43

Chapter Three .......................................... 45

Original Sin in S t . P a u l ...................... 45

Development of the Idea of Sin in Judaism . . . . 45

Purpose of Romans 5 .......................... 52

An Exegetical Consideration of Romans 5:12-21 . . 54

A. Sin in Humanity vv. 1 2 - 1 4 .................. 54

B. Dissimilarity Between Christ and Adam vv.15-17 63

C. Christ and Adam in Comparison vv.18-19 . . . . 67

D. The Purpose of the Law vv.2 0 - 2 1 ........... 70

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Chapter F o u r ............................................ 72

An Evaluation of Augustine's Doctrine of Original Sin

based on Romans 5 : 1 2 - 2 1 ....................... 72

A Comparison of Paul and Augustine................. 72

Result of Exegesis and Discussion ................ 74

A. The Meaning of eph h o i 75

B. The Meaning of pantes h e m a r t o n ............ . 79

C. The Meaning of the Phrase "Sin is not taken into

account when there is no law. " 85

D. The Meaning of "Death" in vv. 1 3 - 1 4 ............ 88

E. The Referent in the Phrase "Who did not sin by

breaking the command" ........................ 91

Chapter F i v e .......................................... 98

Summary and C o n c l u s i o n ................ 98

C o n c l u s i o n .......................................... i08

B i b l i o g r a p h y ...........................

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Acknowledgment

God's plan in creating mankind was to have a

relationship with them that will last forever, but not long

after the plan was introduced, our first parents sinned and

brought condemnation upon all humanity. The Bible is the

story of how god is seeking to bring mankind back into a

relationship with Him.

In order to appreciate God's redemptive plan, it is

necessary that we come to grips with the problem of sin.

Beginning with the Patristic era, and the centuries that

followed, we see frantic attempts at understanding the

problem of sin in humanity. Today, it seems, very little

interest is expressed in the theology of sin. it is this

deficiency that inspired the researcher to undertake such a

study and to hope that it will draw attention to the

significance of this doctrine on sin.

The researcher wishes to acknowledge the tremendous

help and support he received in the course of writing this

thesis. First I thank professor David L. Smith, under whom

this topic was chosen and carefully researched. Not only

did he arouse in me a passion for truth but showed me how to

do theology. Second, I thank professor Terry Tiessen for

his helpful advice and godly influence. Third, I must thank

the elders and members of Grace Bible Church for their

prayers and financial support throughout my years of study

at Providence Seminary. Fourth, I thank all those at

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ii

Providence College and Seminary for the encouragement they

have been. Other individuals whose help and prayer I should

acknowledge include Mr. and Mrs. D. I. Hindmarsh, Mr. and

Mrs. Elmer Warkentin, Mr. and Mrs. David Hoeline, Rev. and

Mrs. Sule Onesimus, Mrs. A. Gaiya and Michael Kowalson.

Above all I thank God who delivered me from the power of sin

and gave me wisdom and strength to undertake this study.

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Introduction.

One task of theology is to ensure that God's revelation

to humankind as contained in the scriptures is clearly

understood, rightly interpreted, and faithfully obeyed by

all who are called to faith in Jesus Christ. Doing this

will require that we submit our conceptual understanding of

God's revelation to a constant biblical analysis and

evaluation so that what is true is affirmed and perpetuated.

It was this conviction that aroused in the researcher the

need to conduct a research into the doctrine of original

sin, as represented in the teachings of St. Augustine.

It was not until the time of Augustine that the concept

of original sinand its consequences on humanity received

its greatest attention. Karl Rahner, a Roman Catholic

theologian makes a similar observation when he says, "The

teaching of scripture about original sin was not developed

until Augustine."1 The absence of a systematic approach to

sin may be partly attributed to the prevailing circumstance

in which the patristic church found itself. David L. Smith

observes this problem when he says:

That such a systematic formulation did not occur


at once should come as no surprise for, in the
formative years of the church, there was a
tendency to theologize largely in response to
questions, problems or heresies.2

Karl Rahner, ed., Encyclopedia of Theology: The Concise


Sacramentum Mundi (New York: The Seabury Press, 1975), 1149.

2David L. Smith, With Willful Intent: A Theology of Sin


(Wheaton: Victor Books, 1994), 17.

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This tendency of the patristic Fathers to theologize in

response to specific questions, problems or heresies is a

clear indication that patristic theology is regional in its

orientation but may have some universal implications.

Therefore, any attempt to understand this traditional

Christian view of sin will have to go back to Augustine.

This doctrine as formulated by Augustine was endorsed by the

patristic church and held by the church during the medieval,

and, with some modifications at different points,

reformation eras. To a large degree, the contemporary

church is Augustinian in its understanding of original sin.

The question the researcher is seeking to address is

whether we have sufficient Biblical warrant to hold to an

Augustinian interpretation of original sin. The need to

rethink this doctrine has been challenged by some recent

developments. For example, the insight provided by

anthropological study is challenging our traditional view of

man and the presence of sin in the world. In a similar

observation, Niebuhr says:

The Christian doctrine of sin in its classical


form offends both rationalists and moralists by
maintaining the seemingly absurd position that man
sins inevitably and by fateful necessity but that
he is nevertheless to be held responsible for
actions which are prompted by an ineluctable
fate.3

3Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man (New York:


Charles Scribner's Sons, 1941), 1:241.

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Niebuhr is right in suggesting that theology should address

the contemporary mind, but we need to balance this view with

the need to be faithful to the truth espoused in the

Scriptures. Rahner observed also that this fundamental

Christian doctrine, though it plays a small part in the

contemporary presentation of Christianity, reveals some

misconceptions or inadequacies. For example, he says:

1 Original sin is usually regarded as purely


identical with the nature of man, as a reality
impossible to abolish, constitutive of man's
nature.
2 Original sin is sometimes regarded as the same
as personal sin, in its cause and nature. The
problem thus created a collective guilt produced
by someone else. This causes original sin to be
either accepted as "mystery" or rejected as an
intrinsic contradiction.4

These misconceptions associated with our understanding of

original sin make this an important area of study. Bloesch

traced the importance of this area of study to the eras of

Enlightenment and Romanticism, during which theologians

under the spell of new world consciousness began to

reinterpret sin.5 It is also the assumption of the

researcher that the doctrine of original sin is fundamental

to our understanding of Christian doctrines, especially the

doctrine of salvation. This research should be able to

indicate the relationship between sin and salvation.

Rahner, 1148.

5Donald G. Bloesch, "Sin," in The Evangelical Dictionary of


Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell {Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
1985), 1012-1015.

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Therefore, the importance of this doctrine cannot be

overestimated.

This research is divided into four main chapters.

Chapter one deals with introductory materials, in which the

concept of original sin prior to Augustine is examined. In

chapter two an attempt is made to present Augustine's

teaching on original sin. Chapter three is an exegetical

study of this doctrine based on the classic passage in

Romans 5:12-21. In Chapter four the researcher will attempt

to examine the idea of original sin in Paul and Augustine.

Chapter five will be devoted to a summary of major findings

and conclusion.

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Chapter One

The Patristic Era and Its View of Original Sin

To understand the development of Augustine's thought

and writings, it will be important to gain some insight into

the period in which he lived and worked. The factors that

shaped Augustine's views point to events in the fourth and

fifth centuries, and before. This being the case, the

researcher will attempt to describe the patristic era,

covering the period from the first to the fourth centuries

of church history. Because of the many important events

that characterize this period of history, only matters

directly relevant to this study will be discussed. Also,

important to this review is the view of the church fathers

regarding original sin.

I have placed the search for a theological

understanding of original sin outside of the New Testament

period since it appears to be a specialized area of study

and the atmosphere is different. The Apostles were not as

concerned about reflection on the faith as they were about

spreading the faith. Conversely, the patristic period was

involved in critical reflection on matters pertaining to the

faith and doctrine. Wright6 was correct when he observed

that major contributions of the early church fathers were to

the elucidation of the Trinity, Christology, the doctrine of

6D. F. Wright, "Patristic Theology," in New Dictionary of


Theology, eds. Sinclair B. Ferguson et a l ., {Chicago, Illinois:
Intervarsity Press, 1988)

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6

the Church and sacraments, sin, and grace. Not only was the

patristic age marked by theological reflections and literary

activities, but it was a period that saw the formulation of

Christian doctrines. Because these were formative years,

there was also a lack of doctrinal homogeneity and, as Kelly

pointed out, extremes of immaturity and sophistication,7

It is these kinds of extremities that makes you critical of

tije theology of the early church fathers. But, in spite of

their extremities, we should appreciate their contribution

to our Christian heritage. These formative years in church

doctrine made it possible to hold a wide variety of opinions

on issues. It was therefore not uncommon to condemn a

church father as a heretic on an issue, while regarding him

orthodox in another. Explaining this seeming contradiction

Kelly said:

The explanation is not that the early church was


indifferent to the distinction between orthodoxy
and heresy. Rather it is that, while from the
beginning the broad outline of revealed truth was
respected as a sacrosanct inheritance from the
apostles, its theological explication was to a
large extent left unfettered. Only gradually, and
even then in regard to comparative few doctrines
that became subjects of debate, did the tendency
to insist upon precise definition and rigid
uniformity assert itself.8

Petry also made similar observation when he said:

Quite early, the word heresy tended to connote


divergence from positions commonly held.

?J,N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (New York: Harper


and Row, 1978), 3.

8Ibid., 4.

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7

Actually, heresy was not indictable on the grounds


of individual differences of opinion. What was
reprehensible in it was the selfish preoccupation
with personal views and actions. These were often
nurtured in cherished immunity from the discerning
judgement and possible rejection of the entire
community. One who. dissented from majority
conclusions might not be a heretic at all.9

The church fathers were merely unfolding what the Apostles

taught in brief, and this became necessary in view of the

non-Ch.ris.tian environment in which the church was found.

The theological difference emerging during this time

culminated in the separation between the West and East,

although it should be mentioned that the West and East had

some similarities as well. Some of these differences and

similarities are reflected in their creeds, liturgies, and

doctrinal attitudes.

Another significant change during this period is the

reconciliation between the church and the state. This was

effected by Constantine I (306-337), of which the Council of

Nicaea (325) was the symbol. Prior to this time, the church

was not only being persecuted but also seeking to adapt


v

itself to its environment and fight its enemies, such as

Gnosticism. The accession of Constantine changed the life

of the church radically. This coming together of the church

and state saw the emergence of a new era in Christian


:i
theology. It was a period characterized by acute

'

Ray C. Petry, ed., A History of Christianity: Readings in the
History of the Church. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990),
1:80.

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8

ecclesiastical controversies and council meetings became the

norm for resolving controversies. This is implied in

Petry's observation when describing Christianity during the

reign of Constantine he said:

The early Christian fathers attending the councils-.-


called at the imperial initiative did not
apparently resent Constantine's concern over
Christian disunity. Church historians indicate
that they grateful, if anything. The church's
stakes involved at Arles, Nicaea, and subsequent
councils were certainly no less than the
emperor's. The source texts from these councils
and from Athanasins serve several purposes, at
least. They document the growth in complexity of
Christian dogma.10

The cultural environment in which the church grew is

another important feature of the patristic age. This

cultural factor provided some of the categories needed to

express the Christian truth. It was an environment that was

rife with religious, cultural, and philosophical notions.

In evaluating the religious notion, it has been

observed that the impact of Hellenized Judaism upon the

period under review should be appreciated. One of those who

made this observation was Kelly. He said:

In spite of the early rupture between Christians


and Jews, it would be a grave error to dismiss it
as a negligible force in our period [patristic].
Until the middle of the second century, when
Hellenistic ideas began to come to the fore,
Christian theology was taking shape in
predominantly Judaistic modes, and the categories
of thought used by almost all Christian writers
before the apologists were largely Jewish.11

lf)Ibid. , 38.

nKelly, 6.

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One influence of later Judaism was its attitude to

divine hypostases and interest in angels which helped to

create an atmosphere of thought propitious to the

development of the Christian conception of God as three-

personal.12 This brand of Judaism flourished at

Alexandria, an intellectual centre in which diverse

philosophical and religious ideas came together. A high

concentration of Jews were located in this city. It was

through them that Hellenistic culture was introduced into

the early church. Other religious trends of this period

included the old classical religions of the gods of Greece

and Rome that were later discarded for emperor worship

which, it was hoped, would keep the empire united. It was

under this circumstance that the Christians were persecuted,

while the non-threatening cults were spared; some of them

grew into a strong force, for example, Manichaeism which

grew and attracted both the educated and uneducated in the

patristic period (e.g. Augustine).

Manichaeism is usually associated with its founder

Mani, a prophet born in Babylon in c.216 who suffered


ff'

martyrdom in c.277. This religion is often classified as a

Christian heresy, and although it was an independent

religion it reflected some ideas and elements of

Christianity and Buddhism. Mani claimed to have received

fullness of revelation which the prophets before him

12Ibid. , 7.

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10

received only in part and this revelation which he received

was to usher in a universal religion. A prominent feature

of Manichaeism is its view of what constitutes reality. As

a form of dualism, it taught that reality consists of two

forces that are eternally opposed to each other, namely,

good and evil. Evil is associated with the material world

in which man is tragically involved and redemption can be

secured only by means of special illumination. The all-

important thing was to withdraw oneself from whatsoever will

contaminate the flesh. Thus, the adherents began to regard

the material world inherently evil. Such was the dualistic

doctrine of Manichaeism and its strictly ascetic lifestyle

that swept over Europe, Africa, and Asia from the third

century, winning converts from the church hierarchy.

In juxtaposition to the religious trends was the Greco-

Roman Philosophy, viewed as the religion of most intelligent

people. Its concepts provided both the Christian and non-

Christian with an intellectual framework for expressing

their ideas. Some of these classical systems are Platonism,

Stoicism, Neo-platonism, and Gnosticism. Those which

flourished especially during the period under review are

Neo-platonism and Gnosticism.

The impact of Neo-Platonism was felt from the middle of

the third century and best exemplified by Plotinus (205-

270). Plotinus had a monist tendency and is revealed in his

view of reality. He conceived reality as a vast

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11

hierarchical structure with grades descending from what he

identified as One, or God. All beings have their source in

this One who does not diminish. Below the mind is the soul;

it is divided into higher and lower compartments. The

higher soul is akin to the mind, while the lower soul is

connected to the material world. This system, as

exemplified by Plotinus, stresses that although the material

world is evil, it is created and ordered by the higher soul

and held together by nature.

The influence of Neo-platonism on Augustine was

apparent, especially at the time he became dissatisfied with

Manichaeism with its corporeal understanding of God and its

dualism. Neo-platonism offered Augustine a means of

understanding the incorporeal nature as well as a way of

interpreting the existence of evil without having recourse

to dualism. Gonzalez observed this:

By reading the words of those whom he called


'platonist', probably Plotinus, Porphyry, and
other Neo-Platonists, Augustine was not only
brought out of his scepticism, but was carried
over the two main hurdles that stood in the way of
his intellectual acceptance of the Christian faith
- the incorporeal nature of God, and the existence
of evil.13

A final force operating in the church environment

during this Lime under review was Gnosticism. The history

of Gnosticism has been a subject of controversy, partly due

to its complexity. But central to its belief is its

nJusto L. Gonzalez, A History of Christian Thought,


(Nashville, Tennesee: Abingdon Press, 1971), 2:19.

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12

teaching on salvation; salvation can be attained by-

spiritual knowledge. Gnosticism claimed that there was a

secret way of seeing the world and the place of human being

in it. Gnosticism was the first movement to threaten

Christianity from within when in the second and third

centuries Christianity was already being threatened by the

Roman Emperors without. It was at this time that the

Apostles Creed arose to refute Gnosticism. Consequently,

this polemical attitude of the church fathers influenced the

anthropology of the church in the West and the East,

especially with respect to human freedom.14

So far, I have attempted to provide a sketch of some

striking features that characterized the patristic period.

The study shows that the atmosphere in which the church grew

was fraught with religious and philosophical notions.

Therefore, it would be wrong to assume that patristic

theology took place in a vacuum. To complete this chapter,

we shall briefly examine the idea of original sin in the

church fathers before Augustine. Like the other important

Christian doctrines, the doctrine of original sin was not

questioned. This was why the early church had no clearly

defined doctrine of original sin. However, there, soon

appeared, here and there, different expressions of original

sin that proved helpful in formulating a set doctrine.

14Smith, 18.

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13

One special characteristic of the Greek tradition is

its interest in death in the broad sense. All humanity-

inherited death from Adam. It is more the notion of a

hereditary death than of hereditary sin. But in spite of

this, there are expressions of original sin which later

developed into a theological issue between the West and the

East. The ideas of original sin found in the writings of

the early church fathers, up to about the middle of the

second century, are not linked to the first man. For

example, Clement of Rome, while he was addressing the

problem of the disordered Corinthian church, spoke of man's

evil heart by which death itself entered the world. He

wrote:

For this reason righteousness and peace are now


far departed from you, in as much as every one
abandons the fear of God, and is become blind in
his faith, neither walks in the ordinances of his
appointment, nor acts the part of becoming a
Christian, but was after his own wicked lust,
resuming the practice of unrighteous and ungodly
envy, by which death itself enters the world.15

In this text, Clement did not link the origin of death with

Adam, but rather blamed each man for his own evil ways.

This way of thinking is typical of the apostolic fathers.

Other writings such as the Didache, a composite second-

century practical, the Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas, and

Hermas, explained the evil tendency in man, but none of them

linked this evil tendency with Adam. This omission should

15Alexander Roberts, ed. The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids,


Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1885), 1:182.

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14

not be a surprise because, for the fathers of the early

centuries, original sin was not in the foreground. On the

contrary, they were occupied with the issue of salvation.

By the second half of the second century, we see a

growing interest in the sin of Adam and its effect on

humanity. This is true among the Greek and Latin fathers

who generally held to the vitium oriqinis (sinfulness in

human beings), but laid stress upon the cooperation of the

human will, enlightened by the teaching of grace. The

example of the Greek fathers can be seen in the Apologists

who seem to have reflected on Paul's idea of Adam's sin and

its concomitant effect on humanity. They saw the sin of

Adam and Eve as a necessary stage in the spread of evil

throughout the world, but this does not negate the

responsibility of the individual. This way of thinking,

which combines the inevitability and individual

responsibility for sin is exemplified in Justin, who was

martyred about 165. He wrote:

Now we know that he [Jesus] did not go up to the


river because he stood in need of baptism, or of
the descent of the spirit like a dove; even as he
submitted to be born and be crucified, not because
he needed such things, but because of the human
race, which from Adam had fallen under the power
of death and the guile of the serpent, and each
one of which had committed personal
transgression.16

Furthermore, in his First Apology, Justin spoke of the

necessity for baptism in which he mentioned that we are born

16Ibid., 243.

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15

with wayward inclinations, but he did not say anything about

the source of this evil, and did not even mention Adam and

Eve. Only the devil is mentioned in connection with the

universality of sin.
Since at our birth we were born without our own
knowledge or choice, by our parent coming
together, and were brought up in bad habits and
wicked training; in order that we may not remain
the children of necessity and of ignorance, but
may become the children of choice and knowledge,
and may obtain in the water the remission of sins
formerly committed, then is pronounced over him
who chooses to be born again, and has repented of
his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of
the universe.17

But when Justin thought of the responsibility of Adam and

Eve for our sin, he seemed to suggest that subsequent

generations only exemplify the sinful choice of their first

parents .18
But lest some suppose, from what has been said by
' us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by
a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known
beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned
from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that
punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards,
are rendered according to the merit of each man's
actions . . . And again, unless the human race
have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good
by free choice, they are not accountable for their
actions, of whatever kind they b e .19

Another apologist that deserves mention was Tatian. Tatian

was a follower of St. Justin and was sometimes considered an

17Ibid. , 183.

18Henri Rondet, Original Sin: The Patristic and Theological


Background {Shannon, Ireland: Ecclesia Press, 1967), 28.

19Ibid., 177.

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unfaithful disciple of Justin. However, like Justin, he

describes human misery as the consequence of free choice.

He says:

We were not created to die, but we die by our own


fault. Our free-will has destroyed us; we who
were free have become slaves; we have been sold
through sin. Nothing evil has been created by
God; we ourselves have manifested wickedness; but
we, who have manifested it, are able again to
reject it.20

Like Justin, Tatian blamed the sin of humanity on free-will

and not Adam and Eve or what he sometimes considered to be

fate. The apologist's position is restated with greater

clarity by Irenaeus, one of the Greek fathers. For

Irenaeus, Adam and Eve were like children, with sexual

innocence of the young. Adam and Eve were not naturally

immortal although both were made in the image of God. Thei

conformity to the image of God depends on their level of

maturity. Thus the history of man is not that of a

laborious ascent after a fall, but a providential progress

towards a future. Almost what appears to be like a

departure from the Apologists' position was Irenaeus's

teaching, that we all sinned in Adam but gained in Christ

what we lost in Adam. He writes:

But when He (Christ) became incarnate, and was


made man, He commenced afresh the long line of
human beings, and furnished us, in a brief
comprehensive manner, with salvation; so that what
we lost in Adam - namely, to be according to the

20Ibid., 69-70.

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17

image and likeness of God - that we might recover


in Christ Jesus.21

Elsewhere, Irenaeus seems to advocate that concept that all

have sinned in Adam. He says:

In the first Adam we offended God, since we did


not keep his commandment ... And we were indebted
to no-one other than to him whose commandments we
have already transgressed in the beginning.22

Irenaeus's view of man's predicament seems to suggest that

man's paradise is in the future and not in the past, and

that this promise of the future can only be appropriated by

every individual. The conclusion can be drawn from

observing the Greek fathers represented in the works of the

Apologists, that although we all share in Adam's sin, each

person is responsible for his/her sins. There is this

emphasis on the individual. Yarnold pointed this out when

he says:

This insistence on the power of the individual


either to make himself a partner in Adam's sin or
to reject it and so escape the spiritual
consequences is typical of the Greek
Apologists .23

In the Western church and particularly among the Latin

fathers, we see the development of doctrines, some of which

are opposed to the views held in the East. An example is

the doctrine of original sin. In the first half of the

21Roberts, 446.

22G. M. Lukken, Original Sin Lin the Roman Liturgy (Leiden,


Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1973), 269.

23Edward Yarnold S. J., The Theology of Original Sin (Notre


Dame: Fides Publishers, 1971), 54.

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18

third century, one finds in Cyprian the explicit affirmation

that alien sins (alienna peccata) are present in the child.

In this connection, and in contrast to Origen in the East,

Cyprian refers explicitly to Adam when he says:

If, when they subsequently come to believe,


forgiveness of sins is granted even to the worst
transgressors and those who have sinned much
against God, and if no one is denied access to
baptism and to grace; how much less right do we
have to deny it to an infant, who, having been
born recently, has not sinned, except in that
being born physically according to Adam, he has
contracted the contagion of the ancient death by
his first heath. [The infant] approves that much
more easily to the reception of the forgiveness of
sins because the sins remitted to him are not his
own, but those of another.24

It is clear from the above statement that Cyprian does

not have personal sin in mind, rather he seems to imply

original sin that the infant inherits. Unlike the Greek

fathers, Cyprian is willing to refer to Adam in connection

with original sin in children.

Independently of Cyprian, we find in Tertullian's

writings the idea that all sinned in Adam. He writes, We

have indeed borne the image of the earthy by our sharing in

his transgressions, by our participation in his death, by

our banishment from paradise.1,25 In his exhortation to

chastity, Tertullian called Adam "the originator of our race

24Jaroslav Pelikan, Development of Christian Doctrine: Some


Historical Prolegomena (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969),
80 .

25Roberts, 583.

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19

and our sin."2r Tertullian's conviction is based on his

theory of Traducianism, the idea that the soul-and the body

are both derived from the parent. Kelly suggests that this

theory is a short step to the doctrine of original sin.27

As we approach the fourth century, we find Tertullian's

idea of sinning in Adam in Ambrose, Hilary, and

Ambrosiaster28; They all based their teaching on an

interpretation of Rom. 5:12-21.

In conclusion, our survey of the patristic period has

clearly demonstrated that it was a period marked by

theological reflections and literary activities, most of

which were done in an environment that was filled with

religious, cultural, and philosophical notions. With

respect to original sin, the study has shown that until the

time of Augustine, tradition spoke of the sin of Adam and

the primeval fall but did not emphasize the implications of

Adam's sin on his posterity. But at the close of the second

century and beginning of the third century the problem of

sin was properly addressed. Smith observed this when he

said:

In the latter second century and early third


century a more formal shape began to take place
in the theology of sin and a gap began to appear
between the Greek and Latin fathers. In the East,
a number of schools were founded, each with its

2<Ibid., 51.

27Kelly, 175.

2tlLukken, 271.

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own special theological emphasis. Collectively,


however, they held that Adam introduced mortality
into humanity along with example of rebellion.
But sin remains a matter of individual human
choice. Many of these fathers believed that it is
entirely possible for some people to rise above
sinful tendencies and live righteous lives through
the exercise of the will. The Western fathers
relied more on church practice rather than a
philosophy to formulate their theology of sin.
Tertullian set the direction with his theory of
soul-generation coupled to a literal
interpretation of Genesis 3. Adam's transgression
allowed sin and death to enter the world,
polluting all humanity. Baptism, though, will
return one to a pre-Fail condition. Ambrose built
on Tertullian by adding original guilt by
inheritance to permeate the race, albeit he did
not believe that such guilt held one culpable in
the day of God's judgment.29

The view of the West was what became fully developed in

Augustine's writings, and entered the dogmatic language of

Christiandom. Therefore, the study suggests that Augustine

did not invent the doctrine of original sin, but as

Rondet30 suggests, he only rendered explicit a tradition

which, through various formulae, was slowly coming to the

surface.

29Smith, 44.

30Rondet, 122.

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Chapter Two

Original Sin in Augustine

In chapter one an attempt was made to understand the

undercurrents of the patristic era and how they may have

influenced the development of patristic theology. The study

demonstrates, among other things, that patristic theology

was not formulated in a vacuum. Some of the philosophical

systems already examined provided categories for the church

fathers to express their theological reflections. But, more

significantly is that the study shows the latent existence

of the doctrine of original sin among the church fathers,

which later received its explicit and dogmatic expression in

Augustine. It may be assumed here that Augustine is

indebted to the patristic fathers for the ideas he expressed

on original sin.

In this chapter, we shall seek to examine Augustine's

theological reflections on original sin. His formulation of

this doctrine is significant to this study. Since

Augustine's theology did not develop in abstract meditation

but within the context of personal experience, it may be

helpful to gain some insight into the man himself.

A Biographical Sketch of Augustine

Our knowledge of Augustine comes from his numerous

works, some of which have been translated from Latin to

English. Particularly informative are his Confessions which

he wrote in the forty-fourth year of his life. In this

21

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22

literary work Augustine confesses to God the sins of his

youth, and it also serves as a hymn to God for His grace

that saved him and brought him into the service of the Lord.

Aurelius Augustine was born on the thirteenth of

November, 354 at Tagaste in North Africa to a heathen father

and a Christian mother. His deep yearning for God is

revealed in the following statement: "For Thou hast formed

us for Thyself and our hearts are restless till they find

rest in Thee.131 This yearning seems to be the motivating

force in Augustine's life and ministry. Schaff summarized

this when he said:

This yearning, and his reverence for the sweet and


holy name of Jesus, though crowded into the
background, attended him in his studies at the
schools of Madaura and Carthage, on his journeys
to Rome and Milan, and on his traditional
wanderings through the labyrinth of carnal
pleasures, Manichaean mock-wisdom, academic
scepticism, and platonic idealism, till at last
the prayers of his mother, the sermons of Ambrose,
the biography of St. Anthony, and above all the
Epistles of Paul, as so many instruments in the
hands of the Holy Spirit, wrought in the man of
three and thirty years that wonderful change which
made him an incalculable blessing to the whole
Christian world, and brought even the sins and
errors of his youth into the service of the
truth.32

The above statement suggests that Augustine's conversion was

a long process that finally culminated in 386, during the

turbulent years of his life. Schaff described this as "the

31Saint Augustine, Prolegomena, Life and Work, Confessions.


Letters, trans. Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans,
1956), 45.

32Ibid., 3-4.

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23

birth throes of the new life."33 Following his conversion,

Augustine's way of life became radically different. He

abandoned his pursuit for fame and power, and devoted his

life to the defence of Christianity. This is why Augustine

is acclaimed the champion of orthodox doctrine. He died in

43 0 when the Barbarian vandals besieged Hippo, also known as

the intellectual centre of Western civilization.

In many Christian minds, Augustine is the great

architect of the doctrine of original sin, hence our

interest is in examining his teaching on this concept. One

important question that has been raised by Augustinian

theologians is the biblical text that serves as the basis

for this teaching. Some suggestions include Genesis chapter

three, the Gospel of Matthew and Augustine's personal

experience as narrated in his confessions, but there seems

to be a strong support for the book of Romans as the source

of Augustine's doctrine of original sin. N.P. Williams,

author of a much disputed but noteworthy book on the history

of the doctrine of original sin, seems to imply that this

doctrine is based on the book of Romans. He says, "The

dogma of original sin is based in a very special way on a

celebrated passage of St. Paul."34 Williams' suggestion is

helpful but he has failed to identify the passage in Romans

33Ibid., 4.

34N.P. Williams, The Ideas of the Fall and of Original Sin


(London: Longman Green and Co. Ltd., 1927), 13.

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that may have served as the basis for Augustine's doctrine

on original sin. Picking up from where Williams left off,

some Augustinian scholars have identified Romans 5:12-21 as

the locus classicus for Augustine's view on original sin.

For example, Peter Gorday, in his study of patristic

exegesis, commented on the significance of Romans 5:12-21 in

Augustine's understanding of original sin. Concerning this

text he says: "This passage, for Augustine, was the decisive

pointer to the universality of sin and thus of the universal

need for Christ."35

Augustine's growing facility with the epistle of Romans

is demonstrated in his two commentaries on Romans, both of

which were not completed because of distraction arising in

the course of his exegesis, but he did pursue this in his

sermons.36 The two uncompleted commentaries are the

Prepositions from the epistle of the Romans, a reworked

transcript of answers given in discussion with pastors who


w
had difficulty understandinq Paul. The second commentary is

an exegetical study of Romans, in which he never got beyond

Paul's greetings. As Landes observed, these are the fruit

of Augustine's campaign against the Manichees in which he

35Peter Gorday, Principles of Patristic Exegesis {Toronto:


Edwin Mellen Press, 1983), 160.

36Aurelius Augustine, Augustine on Romans, trans. Paul


Fredriksen Landes (California: Scholars Press, 1982), 9.

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has to construct a synthetic and a polemic reading of

Romans.37

The observation made by Landes seems to suggest that

Augustine's understanding of the book of Romans was not the

result of an exegetical work but was based largely on his

reading of Romans in the Vulgate translation. To support

this argument, most of Augustine's works that have been

reviewed in the course of this research lack evidence of

serious exegetical consideration. It is this lack of

exegetical consideration in Augustine's theology of original

sin that warrants an inquiry into the study of Romans 5:12-

21 with the view to understand the effect of Adam's sin on

his posterity. However, this lack of an exegetical approach

did not hinder Augustine from interpreting the text against

the Manichees, and later against the Pelagians. It is

probably in his refutation of Manicheism and Pelagianism

that we have evidence of the organization and completion of

this doctrine. In order to support his view of original

sin, Augustine also took the liberty to cite other relevant

passages which will not be examined in this research but may

be referred to.

This researcher does not agree with Rigby in his

assertion that Augustine's doctrine of original sin is

exclusively foundational and not derivative of his

,7Ibid., 9.

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26

theological reflections.38 Rigby based his argument on his

study of Augustine's Confessions, a personal document in

which Augustine seeks to understand experientially and

autobiographically the adult experience of anterior bondage

and his infant sin, which, in Latin, is called Peccata

Originalia. Although this document, which comes at a much

earlier date in Augustine's works, contains some ideas of

inherent sin, it did not indicate the development of this

doctrine which becomes evident in Augustine's later works,

especially in his works against Manicheism and Pelagianism.

At this time Augustine was able to reflect on what must have

been responsible for his adult experience of anterior

bondage and to document his findings, which also serves as a

refutation against heresy. To trace the development of this

doctrine to Augustine's Confessions, as suggested by Rigby,

may be premature since a full reflection of his doctrine

belongs to later years. What is crucial to this research is

not the question of whether this doctrine is foundational or

derivative of Augustine's theological reflections, but

Augustine's view of original sin as derived from Romans

5 :1 2 - 2 1 .

In order to be able to evaluate this doctrine, the

researcher will attempt to present, in a systematic order,

salient expressions of original sin as they occur in

38Paul Rigby, Original sin in Augustine's Confessions


(Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1987), 1.

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Augustine's works and provide a context for this

presentation. The following questions will be addressed:

the meaning and nature of original sin, the relationship

between Adam's sin and humanity, how original sin was

transmitted, and the consequences of original sin.

The Meaning and Nature of Original Sin

The meaning and nature of original sin in Augustine's

writings can only be implied. One cannot find a precise

definition for the terms involved, and therefore, in this

section, we would examine Augustine's discussion on this

doctrine with the intention of defining the meaning and

nature of original sin. Our search begins with Augustine's

address to Marcellinus, in which he refuted certain false

teachings. In his first refutation, Augustine explained the

meaning of death mentioned in Romans 5:12, "By one man sin

entered into the world, and death by one man." There were

those, probably the Donatists, who argued that the death

mentioned in this text is the death of the soul and not of

the body. The implication of this theory is that if the

death caused by Adam affects only the soul it would not

affect others since the soul is not inherited like the body.

Augustine understood this implication quite well when he

said:

But so far as I have discovered from others, they


think that the death which is here mentioned is
not the death of the body, which they will not

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allow Adam to have deserved by his sin, but that


of the soul, which takes place in actual sin.-11

For Augustine the death caused by the sin of Adam is the

death of the body and not of the soul.This view is largely

based on the resurrection of the dead, which Augustine sees

as the contrast to the death of the body.

When to the like purport he says: "By man came


death, by man also the resurrection of the dead,"
in what other sense can the passage be understood
than of the death of the body; for having in view
the mention of this, he proceeded to speak of the
resurrection of the body, and affirmed it in a
most earnest and solemn discourse? In these
words, addressed to the Corinthians: "By man came
death, and by man came also the resurrection of
the dead; for as in Adam all die, even so in
Christ shall all be made alive," - What other
meaning is indeed conveyed than in the verse in
which he says to the Romans, "By one mail sin
entered into the world, and death by sin?" . . .
the point of the discourse is not about
righteousness, which is the antithesis of sin, but
about the resurrection of the body, which is
contrasted with the death of the body.'10

With this understanding Augustine was able to develop and

defend his view on the transmission of sin, which will be

examined later on. It may be also necessary, in the light

of our exegetical interest, to examine the exegetical

balance in the contrast Augustine introduced to the death of

the body theory.

In advancing the theory of death, Augustine argued on

the basis of Romans 5:14 that death cannot reign in the

39Augustine, 18.

40Ibid., 18.

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absence of the guilt of sin.41 The implication is that

since we all died in Adam we must have shared in his guilt.

Because we share in his guilt, we are equally condemned with

him. He says:

Because in him was constituted the form of


condemnation to his future progeny who should
spring from by him natural descent; so that from
one, all men were born to a condemnation, from
which there is no deliverance but in the Saviour's
grace.42

The argument is based on the fact that we all have sinned in

the similitude of Adam, and by similitude Augustine has in

mind all those who had not yet sinned by their own

individual will, as Adam did, but had drawn from him

original sin.43 To say it differently, one does not have

to commit sin to become a guilty sinner, for one is already

a guilty sinner from birth.44 The view that we all share

in Adam's guilt has been a subject of controversy and will

be examined in chapter four.

Furthermore, Augustine had original sin in mind when he

distinguished between actual sin and the sin of all. He

says:

It is surely clear enough, that the sins which are


peculiar to every man, which they themselves
commit and which belong simply to them, mean one
thing; and that the one sin, in and by which all

41Ibid., 18.

42Ibid. , 18.

,nIbid. , 18.

44Rahner, 1148.

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have sinned, means another thing; since we all


were that one man.45

In distinguishing between actual and personal sin and the

sin that is common to all humankind, suggests that there is

no ambiguity in Augustine's mind and in his discussion on

original sin. So in this context it can be implied that

original sin for Augustine is the sin "in and by which all

have sinned . . . since all were that one man." Smith also

observed that; the nature of sin was the basis for

Augustine's doctrine of original sin, "For he held sin to

be a condition rather than just an act. Adam's sin plunged

humanity into a new and tragic state."45

Augustine also described original sin as the corruption

of the human nature from its origins.47 According to this

view, we were not created with a sinless nature: at birth we

each received a nature that has been made corrupt as a

result of the sin of the first man. This however does not

apply to Adam at the time he was created, because no sin

preceded him. Concerning Adam Augustine says:

Adam was not created in such a state, because, as


no sin from a parent preceded him, he was not
created in sinful flesh. We, however are in such
a condition, because by reason of his preceding
sin we are born in sinful flesh.48

45Augustine, 18.

46Smith, 36.

47Augustine, 42.

48Ibid. , 42.

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The view of original sin that we find in this statement is

basically the condition into which we are all born. Unlike

the perfect condition in which Adam was created, we were

born into a state of sin, a helpless situation from which we

cannot redeem ourselves without divine assistance.

Augustine failed to see how humankind can be redeemed by the

free determination of the human will. Speaking against the

Pelagians, he says:

For there are some persons who presume so much


upon the free determination of the human will, as
to suppose that it need not sin, and we require no
divine assistance, attributing to our nature, once
for all, this determination of free will.49

This is suggesting that Adam's sin left his descendants with

an absolute fallen nature since this fallen nature does not

possess within its capacity any virtue that can redirect it

back to God. Even the will of man is corrupt and requires

the help of God. Augustine says, "Now for the commission of

sin we get no help from God; but we are not able to do

justly, and to fulfil the law of righteousness in every part

therefore, except we are helped by God"50 The theme of

absolute corruption of the human nature will form part of

the discussion in chapter four. The meaning and nature of

sin can be summarized in the words of Ambrose, which

Augustine quoted:

49Ibid., 44.

50Ibid., 45.

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I fell in Adam, in Adam was I expelled form


paradise, in Adam I died; and He does not recall
me unless he has found me in Adam - So that I am
obnoxious to the guilt of sin in him, and subject
to death, I may be also justified in Christ.1,1

Ambrose, who was Augustine's mentor, clearly identified

himself with the sin of Adam, it was as if he existed

physically in Adam when he fell, for all that happened to

Adam happened to him as well. This is the theme that

Augustine sought to expound.

In view of the discussion so far, we may summarize our

findings by suggesting that, for Augustine, original sin is

not simply a substantive or positive attribute, or a

weakness in the human nature, but the total corruption of

the nature we inherited from Adam. This includes Adam's

guilt and condemnation. It expresses the condition of

humanity after Adam as a direct solidarity of all with

Adam's sin, it is the sinning of the entire human race in

Adam. This teaching is anchored in Romans 5:12, especially

the last phrase - "in whom all have sinned." Augustine

probably understood "in whom" as referring to Adam which

resulted in the doctrine that in Adam all humankind had

sinned. We will have to decide, through exegetical

consideration, whether the phrase refers to personal sin

committed by all or to a state of sin that spread to all

through the sin of Adam. Since we have determined the

51Augustine, On Original Sin, 254.

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33

meaning and nature of original sin, we shall proceed to

discover how it is transmitted.

The Transmission of Original Sin

Basic to Augustine's teaching on the transmission of

original sin is the concept of generation, that the

solidarity of all with Adam's sin is immediately connected

with our generative link with him. This link with Adam's

sin is not simply based on the fact that we are all

descended from Adam but it is founded ultimately on

procreation which is governed by the sinful impulse of

concupiscence. Augustine alluded to the transmission of

original sin by means of natural descent rather than

imitation when he says:

But so far as I have discovered from others, they


think that the death which is here mentioned
{Romans 5:12) is not the death of the body, which
they will not allow Adam to have, deserved by his
sin but that of the soul, which takes place in
actual sin; and that this actual sin has not been
transmitted from the first man to the other
persons by natural descent but by imitation.52

The idea of natural descent as opposed to imitation is

based, once again, on the concept of death mentioned in

Romans 5:12, and Augustine understood this to mean the death

of the body. The implication of this in the transmission of

original sin is that since Adam's sin corrupted his whole

nature and since the human race took its beginning from

Adam, it would naturally follow that all those born into

52Augustine, On Forgiveness of Sins, and Baptism, 18.

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34

this world will automatically receive at birth a corrupt

sinful nature. No one is born innocent, except Christ.

Smith says:

Augustine believed that by positing libido as the


proof and penalty of original sin he encompassed
all human beings excepting, of course, Christ. Of
all Adam's progeny, only He was born apart from
libido, for Mary was impregnated by the action of
the Holy Spirit, and so Christ was not affected by
male semen which is the medium for the
transmission of original sin.53

This is why Augustine taught infant baptism for the

remission of inherited sin. The practice of infant baptism

was seen by Augustine as a primitive Christian rite,

Augustine said:

For it is not true, then, as he (Pelagius) puts


it, "He is completely a Manichean who maintains
original sin" but rather, he is completely
Pelagian who does not believe in original sin.
For it is not simply from the time when the
pestilent opinions of Manicheans began to grow
that in the church of God infants about to be
baptized were for first time exorcised with
exsufflation, - which ceremonial was intended to
show that they were not removed into the kingdom
of Christ without first being delivered from the
power of darkness .. . .;54

53Smith, 38.

54Augustine, 303. .

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Augustine did not only find scriptural basis for the

practice of infant baptism55, he also drew support from

church tradition, which he quoted extensively. For example

in quoting Cyprian he said:

But in respect of Cyprian, with him all-glorious


Crown will anyone say of him, that he either was,
or ever could by any possibility have been, a
Manichean, when he suffered before the Pestilent
heresy had made its appearance in the Romans
world? And yet, in his book on the baptism of
infants, he also vigorously maintains original sin
as to declare, that even before the eighth day, if
necessary, the infant ought to be baptized, lest
his soul should be lost.56

Therefore, we find that before Augustine's debate against

the Pelagians the practice of infant baptism was already an

institutionalized sacrament of the church. Augustine's

argument on the basis of infant baptism is to prove the

existence of original sin. The logic is that if original

sin does not exist then there would be no basis for infant

baptism. The reason Augustine emphasized infant baptism

throughout his debate against the Pelagians is because of

the efficacious power of baptism in putting away all sins.

Augustine says:

Baptism, therefore, indeed washes away all sins -


absolutely all sins, whether deeds or words or
thoughts, whether original or added, whether such
as are committed in ignorance or allowed in
knowledge;57

55Ibid.

5l'Ibid., 305.

57Ibid., 405.

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We pointed out in chapter two that, according to Augustine,

only the church preserved the right to administer this

Sacrament. It implies that a person cannot be saved outside

the church and those who died without being baptized shall

be lost forever. Can such views be supported on the basis

of the Scriptures? Refuting the idea of sinning by

imitation, Augustine opined that if the apostle Paul wished

to assert that sin entered the world not by natural descent,

but by imitation, he mentioned as the first offender the

devil, of whom it is written that he sinned from the

beginning. Therefore, for Augustine, Romans 5:12,

especially the phrase "it passed upon all men" is an

indication of propagation and not imitation.

To support his theory of propagation, Augustine

referred to Romans 5:14 in which Paul says that "through the

offense of one, many are dead." Augustine's argument is

that if Paul had imitation in mind when he wrote, the

passage should read "on account of their sins" rather than

"on account of the sin of one. 1,58 But since the passage

reads "on account of the sin of one," propagation is what is

implied. Augustine also observed that verses fifteen and

sixteen do not suggest imitation - that by one sin we were

all condemned but grace was from many offenses into

justification. If we sinned by imitation, then conversely,

we should be justified by imitation, and the devil who

50Augustine, On Forgiveness of Sins, and Baptism, 20.

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preceded Adam should be considered the author from whom sin

and death had passed unto all, and Adam would have used some

force to persuade his follower to commit transgression, just

as he gave way to the devil who persuaded him to sin.

In Romans 5:18, Augustine found another evidence for

natural propagation. He quoted this as saying; "Therefore,

as by the offense of one upon all men to condemnation, even

so by the justification of one upon all men unto

justification of life."59 When Paul says of Christ "by the

justification of one," he is implying the principle of

natural propagation, for Christ is not presented as the

object of imitation whom we have to imitate, but He is the

only one capable of effecting justification, the only

justifier.60 Augustine argued that if we should insist on

the theme of imitation then the "one" and the "one" in the

verse must not be regarded as Adam and Christ but Adam and

Abel. He says:

For although many sinners have preceded us in the


time of this present life, and have been imitated
in their sin by those who have sinned at a later
date, yet they will have it, that only Adam is
mentioned as he in whom all have sinned by
imitation, since he was the first of men who
sinned. And on the same principle, Abel ought
certainly to have been mentioned, as he "in which
one" all likewise are justified by imitation,
inasmuch as he was himself the first man who lived
justly.61

59Ibid., 21.

60Ibid., 21.

Ibid., 22.

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38

Augustine's contention is that justification is available

only in Christ and this does not happen by imitating Christ,

but by his grace. Conversely, Adam is the only one in whom

all have sinned, not by following his evil example but by

means of the penalty generated through the flesh.

The principle of natural propagation by which means we

all contracted original sin is best exemplified in

Augustine's teaching on infant baptism, marriage, and

concupiscence. In his teaching on baptism, Augustine

clearly demonstrated the need to administer baptism to

infants as a means of washing away the sin they have

inherited from their parents. Augustine affirmed that all

infants that quit the body without being baptised will be

involved in the condemnation of all, but their condemnation

will be mild since they are not guilty of personal sins,

which are often committed in addition to the original

sin.62 His support for infant baptism is based on Paul's

statement in Romans 5:16-18 in which Paul stressed that

judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation to all.

This condemnation was the penalty of Adam's sin. When Adarn

sinned by not obeying God, his body - which before the

disobedience was natural and mortal - lost the grace with

which it was endowed. It became infected with affections

that are common to brutes and ultimately became subject to

62Ibid. , 22.

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39

death. For already Adam and Eve were told that in the day

they eat thereof they will die.

The grace which man lost could be the image of God in

man. We shall explore this further in chapter four. But it

is sufficient to say that anyone who descends from Adam

becomes infected with original sin and is in need of

baptism. Augustine says:

As a consequence, then of this disobedience of the


flesh, and this law of sin and death, whoever is
born of the flesh has need of spiritual
regeneration - not only that he may reach the
kingdom of God, but also that he may be freed from
the condemnation of sin. Hence men are on the one
hand born in the flesh, liable to sin and death
from the first Adam, and on the other hand are
born again in baptism associated with the
righteousness and eternal life of the second
Adam.63

One implication of the above statement is that nobody can

attain heaven without baptism. Since this has some bearing

in the doctrine of original sin it may be necessary to

pursue it further in chapter four. Very important to the

discussion in chapter four is the question of whether we

have any biblical support to prove, as Augustine is

suggesting, that infant baptism is an indication of the

corrupt nature we inherited from Adam. For Augustine, no

infant can attain the eternal salvation without

regeneration. Infants have also been hurt by the malady of

original sin, otherwise they would not be carried to the

physician, Christ, for the express purpose of receiving the

L'3Ibid., 23.

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40

sacrament of eternal salvation. Augustine saw infants as

bound by the bond of sin in their original nature, and it is

the guilt of original sin that is healed in them by the

grace of him who saves them by the laver of regeneration.'"'

While it may be thought that the infant should first have a

sense of repentance to be called penitent, Augustine thinks

if the child does not need to believe he does not need to

repent.65 This is because of the whole of the baptism is

done in hope, in the strength of the sacrament and of the

divine grace, which the lord has bestowed upon the church.

Thus, the child stands to benefit in this life and when

he/she departs from this present life. In other words, the

baptism rite is efficacious and should not be undermined.

Augustine even called baptism salvation. He says:

The Christians of Carthage have an excellent name


for the sacraments, when they say that baptism is
nothing else than "salvation" and the sacrament of
the body of Christ nothing else than "life".
Whence, however, was this derived, but from that
primitive, as I suppose, and apostolic tradition,
by which the church of Christ maintains it to be
an inherent principle, that without baptism and
partaking of the supper of the Lord it is
impossible for any man to attain either to the
kingdom of God or to salvation and everlasting
life?66

The above statement underscores that, for Augustine, baptism

is synonymous with salvation. These two facts are

M Ibid., 24.

65Ibid., 24.

66Ibid., 28.

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41

inseparably linked together and, by implication, it means a

person is not saved until he/she is baptized. And since the

church alone has the right to administer this sacrament, it

suggests that a person cannot be saved outside of the

church. It will be important to discuss when we get to

chapter four the meaning of baptism that we find here, in

light of the New Testament, with the aim to determine the

relationship between baptism and salvation, and original

sin.

Why do the baptized commit sin in later years?

Augustine responded to this question with his doctrine of

concupiscence, by which means we also contract original sin.

Augustine viewed concupiscence as the law of sin which the

first man experienced when he transgressed the law of

God.c7 This law of sin became repugnant to the law of his

mind so that he felt the evil of his own disobedience. He

felt the evil among members of his body, which are

considered servants of the man. But, because of the

presence of the law of sin, the body will not obey the

direction of the will, but lust has to be waited to set

these members in motion, as if it had legal right over them,

and often acts against the will. It is in the disobedience

of these parts of the body that Augustine finds the

demonstration of the just depravation of human nature. This

law of concupiscence, according to Augustine, is not done

b7Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, 266.

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42

away with but still remains, except for its guilt, and does

not continue, since in baptism there takes place a full

forgiveness of sin.bS

In another place Augustine identified the disease of

concupiscence, or the indecent motion, as what the apostle

Paul refers to when he spoke to the married believers in

I Thessalonians 4:3-5. This disease of concupiscence does

not nullify or prohibit conjugal rights, but should be

expressed only in the procreation of children rather than

for self-gratification. Augustine says:

And this counsel is not to be understood as if the


apostle prohibited conjugal - that is to say,
lawful and honourable cohabitation; but so as that
cohabitation should not be a matter of the will,
but of necessity, without which, nevertheless, it
would be impossible to attain the function of the
will itself in the procreation of children.I,,)

The children who are born are not just born for the fun of

it, but so that they will be born again in Christ, and

remain in him forever. Augustine says those who possess

their vessels (i.e. wives) with this intention of

procreation do not possess her in the "disease of desire"'11

but in sanctification and honour. This is turning the evil

of concupiscence into something useful, and the child, when

baptized, becomes free from the guilt of concupiscence. But

68Augustine, On Forgiveness of Sins, and Baptism, 62.

59Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, 267.

70Ibid., 267.

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43

as the child matures he/she will experience a constant,

vicious disposition to evil. Augustine says:

Whenever God's grace converts a sapling into a


good olive, so that the fault of the first birth
(original sin which had been derived and
contracted from the concupiscence of the flesh) is
remitted, covered, not imputed, there is still
inherent in it the nature from which is born a
wild olive, unless it, too, by the same grace, is
by the second birth changed into a good olive.71

Concupiscence for Augustine, therefore denotes primarily

sexual lust, for there are other ways in which this animal

aspect of the soul can escape rational control and tempt

humankind. These lusts are the just punishment for original

sin, which made man subservient to his own body instead of

becoming equal with God.

The Effects of Original Sin

There are basically two effects of original sin which

can be identified in Augustine's teaching. One of these is

the teaching of concupiscence that we have already examined.

The other effect is ignorance, which Augustine defended

against Pelagius. Concerning the sin of ignorance Augustine

says:

Is there no evil of ignorance - nothing which need


to be purged away? What means that prayer:
"Remember not the sins of my ignorance." For
although those sins are more to be condemned
which are knowingly committed, yet if there were
no sins of ignorance, we should not have read in
Scripture what I have quoted.72

71Ibid., 278.

72Augustine, On Forgiveness of Sins, and Baptism, 42.

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44

When God fashioned the human nature it excluded the evils of

concupiscence and ignorance, but was changed by the first

man's evil will. Instead of enjoying knowledge that Adam

need not acquire, we now have ignorance from which we labour

to emerge, and instead of subjecting the flesh to the

control of the soul, we experience the body's revolt to the

Spirit. These disorders are sins, just like the act from

which they emanate, they belong to the original sin itself,

which is propagated by means of the effect it has caused,

thus making the human nature vitiated and vicious. And the

cure for this fallen nature is found only in God's

supernatural grace.

In this chapter, the researcher attempted to present

Augustine's teaching on original sin by identifying the

meaning and nature, transmission, effect, and cure for

original sin. Some of the findings in this chapter will be

discussed at length in chapter four.

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'Chapter Three

Original Sin in St. Paul

This chapter is devoted to an examination of original

sin in St. Paul. To Augustine and to the Christian mind

Paul is viewed as the great architect of the doctrine of

original sin. It is for this reason that we shall attempt

to examine Paul's teaching on this important doctrine.

The study will focus mainly on the argument of Paul in

Romans 5:12-21, the locus classicus of the doctrine of

original sin. But, in order to appreciate Paul's personal

contribution better, it will be necessary to see it in the

framework of contemporary Judaism.

Development of the Idea of Sin in Judaism

The idea of sin as a transgression or disregard of

God's will may be taken to express the permanent conception

of sin in Judaism. The variations in this conception are

based on the changes that took place in the idea of God and

of His will. The earliest ideas of the will of God were

linked to the tribal mores and taboos.73 Breaking these

mores and taboos was understood to be an offense against

God. This idea of transgression of God's will underlies

numerous Hebrew words for sin. The most common word for sin

in the Bible and in post-Biblical literature, hata.

73S . S. Cohen, Judaism, A Way of Life: An Introduction to


the Basic Ideas of Judaism (New York: Schocken Books, 1965), 273.

45

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46

expresses the idea of "missing the mark"7'1 as when a bowman

misses his target (Judges 20:16), the same sense is found in

the Greek word hamartano. The word is also linked with

terms denoting erring from the path of duty and right or

rendering crooked that which was straight. It seems the

word was borrowed from ordinary human relations, where it

was applied to any act that put a man in the wrong with

those who had the power to make him rue it.75 Its

religion's significance was emphasized by the belief that

God as the supreme judge and king in Israel was offended by

each act that goes contrary to His will. Other words

associated with hata include 'bar meaning to overstep or

transgress the word, command, law, or covenant of Yahweh

(Numbers 14:41), shagah and shagag which means to err '

through ignorance.

But the most important theological term indicating sin

as defiance against God is pasa' and means to revolt,

rebel, or transgress; with its cognate noun, rebellion,

transgression. It consists of willful disobedience and not

a mere failure or mistake. Both the verb and the noun are

used of revolt against nations or transgression against men

(e.g. 1 Kings 12:19; Amos l:3ff), but generally they

indicate transgression against God and defiance of his rule.

7*E.P. Sanders, "Sin,11 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed.


David Noel Freedman, vol.6 (Toronto: Doubleday, 19 92)

75Ibid., 35.

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47

Sometimes they may indicate the guilt accompanying such sin

(job 33:9), since generally the Hebrews did not distinguish

between the sin and its resultant guilt. Only as Israel's

faith outgrew ideas of taboo, did its concept of guilt

become more ethical and spiritual, and in most cases

personalized (Ezra 9:6).

Sin, which incurs the wrath of the deity, is filled

with danger for the sinner. This also includes moral and

ceremonial offenses. The method of punishing sin in the

Mosaic Code was not only on the basis of the consciousness

of wrong-doing but sometimes on the basis of sin committed

unconsciously and in error (Leviticus 4:2). Punishment

followed just the same, unless proper means of expiation of

the guilt were taken. Thus, the objective act forms the

ground of judgement and not necessarily the subjective

intention. Only in later Judaism do we begin to see a

distinction between willful and inadvertent sins.

Common to the ancient conceptions of sin is its power

to defile an individual, to the extent of contaminating both

the land and the people. Such pollution can only be removed

by proper acts of purification, sacrifices, and personal or

corporate confessions.70

It is possible that the sin committed by an individual

can affect an entire community. An example is the story of

Achan whose sin brought disaster upon the entire people

7CT b i d ., 35.

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48

(Joshua 7). More than once the Israelites who bore the

punishment for their "Fathers' sins" were inclined to

question such a principle (Jeremiah 31:29; Ezekiel 18:2} and

lamented its application.77 This idea of the community-

affected by the sins of the individual became evident in

Judaism.

With the emphasis of the role of the prophet in

Israelite religion, the conception of sin added a moral

nuance and deepened its meaning. God made himself known to

the prophets, as a God who desires justice, mercy and truth.

The prophets were also concerned about right human

relations, for that is what God desires for those he has

called and consecrated unto himself. Consequent.ly -ui-n.

appears in the~t"eacnihgsk;cf,:_the^prop'hets as the moral

negation of what is right and good, as well as desecrating

oneself. They are conscious of a distinction between sin as

an act or a transgression of God's moral requirement, and

sin due to ignorance of God's holy character (1 Kings 12:19;

20:10; Amos 1:3).

The ubiquitous nature of sin emerges with some clarity

from the Pentateuch which in essence is the revealed will of

God. Thus, sin is now properly defined as the transgression

or rebellion against God's will. This formal conception of

sin did not cancel all that went before nor obscure the

difference between sins against God and sins against people.

77Ibid., 36.

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49

The implication is that Israel has become more aware of sin

than ever before. The perplexing question about the subject

of sin is not its definition, but where sin comes from. It

is evident from the Jewish writings (and considering the

various responses to the question of the origin of sin) that

the Jewish religious teachers wrestled with this problem.

The first theory appearing in the post-Biblical

literature traces the origin of sin to Adam; thus, in 2

Esdras 7:118 the seer says; "Oh thou Adam, what hast thou

done? For though it was thou who sinned, the Fall was not

thine alone, but ours also who are thy descendants!"

Similarly, in 2 Baruch 23:4 it is said that "Adam sinned and

death was decreed against those who should be born"; and the

same book (56:6) says "For owing to his transgression

untimely death came into being, and grief was named, and

anguish was prepared, and pain was created, and trouble

perfected . . . "
\

The.origin of sin, but not its results, is also implied


\
in 1 Enocn\32:16: Then Raphael, the holy angel who was with
\ . .**
\
me answered and said, This is the tree of wisdom, of which

thy Father, old (in years) and thy aged mother, who were

before thee, ate, anaCthey learned wisdom, and their eyes

were opened, and they werejnaked, and they were driven out

of the garden." These passages-iimist be balanced by what is


X S N ''s. '

said in 2 Baruch 54:15,19: "For though'iAdam^first sinned,

and brought untimely death upon all, yet of those'-whccwere.

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50

born from him each one of them hath prepared for his own

soul torment to come; and again, each one of them hath

chosen for himself glories to come. Adam is, therefore, not

the cause, save only of his own soul. But each one of us

has been the Adam of his own soul." With the exception of

the first passages quoted', above, it is taught that, while


U
Adam was the first to sin|,! this did not involve hereditary

sin in the human race, though it was the cause of universal


!!
death. jj
1!
The second theory truces the origin of sin to Eve. In

the Life of Adam and Eve lit is said concerning Eve; "Wilt
/
thou slay me? That I may die, and perchance God the Lord
/
I!
will bring thee into paradise, for on my account has thou
//
been driven thence." Tip. the same book, 44:2-5 Adam puts the
jj
whole blame on Eve;"And Adam said to Eve, what hast thou
/I
done? A great plague hast thou brought upon us,
y /

transgression and/sin for all our generations; and this


// /

which thou has done tell thy children after my death, for

those who arise from us shall toil and fail, and they shall

be wanting/and curse us, and say all evils have our parents

brought,,up on us, who were at the beginning. When Eve heard

thesexwords she began to weep and m o a n ."

:>'" Another theory attributes the origin of sin to fallen

angels. 1 Enoch 16:3 says, "Ye have been in heaven, but all

the mysteries had not yet been revealed to you, and ye knew

worthless things, and these in the hardness of your hearts

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51

ye have made known to women, and through these mysteries

women and men work much evil on earth."

In contrast to all these ideas we have the definite

assertion that man, and man alone is the cause of sin.

Cohen also agreed with this conclusion when he said:

Normative Judaism rejects the doctrine of original


sin, i.e. of evil cleaving to man from his very
birth as a sort of hereditary disease. The
paradise story of Genesis 3 was not intended to
convey the idea that the infraction of a taboo by
the first parents of the race altered the moral
character of any one beside themselves. Neither
does it suggest the imputation of their guilt to
their descendants as an inherited taint of the
soul. Like the etiological myths of other
peoples, it merely seeks to account for the sad
facts of physical hardship, pain and mortality,
which the First Couple brought upon themselves and
upon their posterity.78

The foregoing shows that the concept of original sin is

foreign in Judaistic thinking. It would also seem that

during the biblical times no definite conclusions were drawn

from the story of Adam's disobedience and expulsion from

Eden. One exemption may be Psalm 51:5 in which David

alludes to an hereditary taint. Only in the early church

history do the ideas of a Fall and original sin begin to

shape themselves. Paul's reference to the story of the

First Adam was not to contest it but to illustrate

fundamental truths of the faith. Concerning the use of this

story in Romans, Cohen says:

Paul drew upon them for his conception of the


moral depravity and corruption of the human race

78Cohen, 282.

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52

as the ground for his doctrine of salvation


through the death and resurrection of Jesus
modelled after the mythology of the mystery
religions.79

For Paul the story contained in Genesis 3 is not just a

myth, but a historical fact that has great bearing on God's

plan for humankind. Before we examine this passage in

Romans an overview will be necessary.

Purpose of Romans 5

The fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans does not

only introduce a new section, but is in many ways the key to

the understanding of the rest of the letter. In the

previous chapters the Apostle Paul dealt with the great

statement of the doctrine of justification and some of its

implications. From this point, Paul's concern is to

demonstrate the absolute character, the fullness and the

finality of the salvation which comes to us in the way he

has already described, that is, as a result of justification

by faith.00

Having explained the nature of this new way of

salvation, and its effect, Paul proceeds in chapter five to

demonstrate how individual humankind is developed upon it by

means of the vicarious office of Christ, an act of self-

sacrifice. In order to prove this, Paul brings Christ who

is the Second Adam into parallel with the First Adam. In

79Ibid.

0OD. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans (London: Banner of Truth


Trust, 1971), 172 .

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using this kind of language Paul is no doubt seeking the

best way to express himself. The parallelism introduced

comes after a recognition of the extraordinary love that God

has shown us. The death of Christ on our behalf is not

because of our goodness, for as the Bible affirms, He died

for us while we were still in our sins (Romans 5:8). It is

important to keep this in mind to understand the

implications that follow as suggested by the connecting word

in verse 12. To extol this way of salvation, it was

necessary for Paul to provide some insight into what may be

considered the origin of sin, and the need of salvation for

all humankind.

In view of God's love, humankind can experience

justification and eternal life. To prove how the single act

of one man paid for the need of all humanity, Paul turns

attention to the story of the Fall in which humankind was

identified with the sin of the First Man. The story of the

Fall is a clear demonstration of the plight of all humanity

since the epoch of Adam and Eve. It may be drawn from

inference that if the sin of one man can affect the entire

human race, the one act of Christ should do more by way of

redemption.

In tracing the story of the Fall to Genesis, which

marks the beginning of human history, Paul must have thought

of salvation as the need of all humanity. By so doing, he

goes beyond the problem of moral corruption that is

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54

prevalent among the pagans and the Jews (Chapters 1 and 2).

Significantly, the whole concept of sin provides the basis

for discussing some of the benefits of salvation. To

understand the concept of sin discussed in Romans 5:12-21 we

would have to deal with some important textual matters

arising from the passage. This is the concern of the next

section.

An Exeqetical Consideration of Romans 5:12-21

We shall attempt to deal with the problem of this

passage in four main sections, namely: 12-14; 15-17; 18-19;

and 20-21. Major findings in these sections will be

reserved for discussion in chapter four.

A. Sin in Humanity vv.12-14

Many exegetes01 admit the difficulty of these verses,

and so they have been the subject of much discussion.

Therefore, we shall proceed with caution and attempt to get

as close as we can to the intended meaning of the verses.

Verse 12 begins a new section in support of the

proposition of the chapter, justification by faith. This is

supported by the use of the Greek phrase dia touto,

translated "therefore". The word refers backwards, since

there is no clause immediately following which is capable of

picking it up. There is a general consensus that it refers

01Ibid., 146.

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55

backwards to 5:1-11 as a whole.82 In Romans 5:1-11 Paul

affirms that those already made righteous are those whom

God's love had transformed from being God's enemies to being

reconciled to Him. The significance of "therefore" is that

Paul will now indicate in w . 12-21 the conclusion to be

drawn from the discussion in w .1-11. The reconciliation

that has been effected suggests that Christ has accomplished

something that is far-reaching in its scope and

effectiveness as was the sin of the First Man. It was a

vision that goes beyond the church to the whole of humanity.

Significantly, the first person plural in w . 1 - 1 1 is

replaced by the third person plural. By using the word:

"therefore", Paul is inferring the significance of Christ

for all humanity on the basis of what Christ has

accomplished. Thus, we can argue for a definite connection

between vv.12-21 and vv.1-11.

Paul begins to draw his parallel between Christ and

Adam in Verse 12, but breaks off the protasis at the end of

the first half of v.12 without stating its apodosis. This

construction is often viewed as irregular, but for Cranfield

it is not a lack of grammatical sequence, but that Paul

intends it to be read that way:

Realizing the danger of his comparisons being very


seriously misunderstood, he prefers to indicate,
as emphatically as possible, the vast

92C.E.B. Cranfield, A critical and Exeaetical Commentary on


the Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1975),
1:271.

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56

dissimilarity between Christ and Adam before


formally completing it.83

It was not until after a lengthy parenthesis that Paul

completed the sentence with a proper apodosis in v.l8b.

Kasemann also observed that:

"The complex sentence of this section up to v.'17 ..


forms a giant anacoluthon. As elsewhere this is
not due to any clumsiness on the apostle's part.
It is due to the wealth of ideas and associations
which crowd in upon him, and here especially to
the balancing of given motifs with his own
purpose.1184

This structure of the passage that we find here is also a

reflection of the theological difficulty that Paul must have

encountered in the course of writing this Epistle, and it

provides a helpful clue to our understanding of vv.12-21 as

a whole. This difference in syntactic construction is

important but does not make a great difference from the

point of view of doctrine.

Ano'v>e,r important phrase that has given rise to an

enormous volume of discussion is the expression eph hoi

pantes hemarton. The classic debate on the meaning of eph

hoi has more or less been settled in favour of a conjunction

meaning 'because' or 'for this reason'85 Murray also lent

his support to this conclusion when he said that the clause

83Ibid. , 269-270.

84Ernst Kasemann Commentary on Romans, trans. Geoffrey W.


Bromily (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1980),
146.

a5Leon Morris The Epistles to the Romans (Grand Rapids,


Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1988), 230.

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57

should not be rendered "in whom all sinned", but that the

terms used have the force of a conjunction, and clearly

specify the reason death passed into all men.86 The view of

eph hoi as a conjunction is based on the understanding of

hemarton to refer not to man's sinning in their own persons

but to their participation in Adam's transgression, in the

sense that they sin in a real solidarity with him, as a

result of the entail of his transgression.87 The idea that

is contained here is not some concept of "corporate

personality" or the theology of Adam as Everyman.88 In

spite of the fact that Paul's attempt is to stress the

universality of the effects of Adam's sin (vv.13-14, 18-19),

the fact is that he begins with a distinction between "one11

and "all" or "the many" which he maintains consistently in

this passage. The one man and his sin and the one Saviour

and his salvation are critical to the discussion. Sin

entered the world (which implies sin existed before A dam).

With the personification we see sin as a mighty force of

evil which used Adam as its instrument. The "world" is, of

course, the world of people, the human race, not the

physical earth. Death is also personified, and seen as

using sin as point of entry. It is sin that brought death.

86John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids,


Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1964), 1:18.

M7Cranfield, 278.

88Dunn, 273.

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However, the link between the "one" and the "all" is not

explained, but there is no doubt that the distinction is

clear - and it underlies the whole discussion.89 The

picture we see here can be found in Judaism with respect to

Adam's fall. It is what Dunn rightly described as tension

between the inescapableness of human sin operating as a

compelling power from within or without and the recognition

of human responsibility in sinning.90 The distinction

between the "one" and the "all" is matched by the

distinction between hamartia and hemarton, and hemarton

often carries the idea of human responsibility in sinful

acts, and is supported by vv.13 and 14 at a time when there

was no law.

Adam's sin was the cause of the death of all humankind.

Death seized the opportunity that sin allowed it and so came

upon all humanity. Death became inevitable for all

humanity. While dealing with this verse, we must not lose

sight of the fact that Paul's intention is centred on

Christ; Adam is mentioned only in order to bring about the

nature of the work that Christ had accomplished.

Furthermore, Dubarle observed that since Paul is

contrasting the effect of Adam and that of Christ on

humanity, it is also possible that the passage may suggest

the idea of a sinful conduct of all people. The use of the

8SMorris, 22 9.

90Ibid. , 273-274.

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aorist points to one act, the act of Adam. We would expect

the present or the imperfect if the apostle were thinking of

the continuing sins of all people. Paul says all sinned in

Adam, not in imitating him. The context seems to insist on

the sin of "one" man. Consider these repetitions: "Many

died by the trespasses of the one" (v.15), the judgement

followed one sin" (v.16), "by the trespass of the one man,

death reigned" (v.17), "the result of the one trespass was

condemnation for all men" (v.18), "through the disobedience

of the one man the many were made sinners" (v.19). These

truths show that we did not simply follow Adam's example,

what we see here is the race somehow caught up in Adam's

sin. But throughout this passage what Adam did and what

Christ did are steadily kept apart. Paul's concern in v.12

is with what Adam did and its results, and that Adam's sin

involved us all in a situation of sin and death from which

there is no escape except in Christ. This is similar to the

statement "one died for all, and therefore all died" (2 Cor.

5:14), and may serve as the opposite of what Paul is saying

in Romans 5:12.

Some of the ideas in v.12 find further explanation in

vv.13 and 14. But the way Paul is reasoning has puzzled

many commentators. Verse 13, for example, poses some

difficulty in the relationship between the law and sin: how

can sin bring death if it is not taken into account? Our

understanding of v.13 depends on how the first or second

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60

sentence of the verse is stressed. Cranfield suggests that

if we place the stress on the latter section "But sin is not

taken into account when there is no law," and regard the

former "For before the law was given, sin was in the world,"

as a concessive clause, it would seem that it refers to

humankind's sinning in their own persons but in

participation in Adam's transgression.' If, on the other

hand, the first sentence is stressed, and the second

sentence is treated as a concessive clause then what we have

is sin already present and active in humankind before the

law was given. Kasemann112 opined that the issue in v.I2 is

not primarily or even exclusively the transition from a

cosmic outlook to that of an individual person, and that the

undeniable individualizing in v.l2d gives depth to what is

said about the extent of the disaster. Olshausen agreed

with Kasemann when he said: "

The apostle in the use of 'sin' would not be

understood to mean sinful independent actions, but

the state of inward disharmony, from which outward

disharmony, whose head is death, takes rise.'

Here an explanation is provided for the last

clause in v.12? "For before the law was given, sin

9ICranfield, 282.

92Kasemann, 149.

93Hermann Olshausen, Studies in the Epistles to the Romans


(Minneapolis, Minnesota: Klock and Klock, 1983), 199.

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61

was in the world may be understood as intended to

explain the fact that "all sinned" in spite of the

fact that for a time there was no law. Paul is

seeking to stress the universal sway of sin and

the fact that all humankind actually sinned.

The phrase "But sin is not taken into account when

there is no law" is added in acknowledgement of the fact

that in the absence of the law sin is not something that is

clearly defined. Sin requires the law to give it proper

definition. Paul does not mean any absolute absence of law,

but as Romans 2:14,15 shows, where, however, there is no

formal law, it is only by very indistinct warnings that the

inward law gives indication of itself.94 Two facv.3 seem to

emerge from this discussion and should be distinguished.

One is the power of sin in human experience from which no

one in the epoch {Adam and Moses) can escape, and, secondly,

sin as something for which the individual can be charged.

As Dunn observed,

The two-sidedness of the human condition within


the epoch of Adam comes to expression - sin as a
given of human character and social environment,
and sin as an accountable action of individual
responsibility.95

These two main elements are present to some degree in all

acts of sin. The second distinction that we see emerging is

the view of death as an inescapable part of the human

l>4Ibid.

,>r'Dunn., 275.

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condition for which the individual cannot be held

responsible, and death as the consequence of the

individual's responsible transgression.10 One problem with

the text is that it did not say to what extent sin existed

before the law.

We shall focus here on verse 14. The Greek word alia

at the beginning of the verse shows a connection by an

adversative conjunction with v.!3b, which is not treated as

subordinated to v.l3a as a concessive clause, but in

coordination with it. The phrase that follows substantiates

this. "Death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of

Moses" expresses that as a result of the presence of sin,

death reigned over humankind throughout the period from Adam

to when the Law was given (death is here personified). The

phrase "even over those who did not sin by breaking a

command as did Adam" is added in order to bring out that

those over whom sin reigned in this period were actually rnen

and women. While they had indeed sinned and were punished

for their sin, they did not sin after the likeness of Adam's

transgression, disobeying a clear and definite divine

commandment such as Adam had.'17 His sin had effects on the

totality of humankind, and does not rule out the fact that

they still sinned in their own way. The relative clause

"who was a pattern of the one to come" introduces a

96Ibid.

97Morris, 234.

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comparison which Paul completed in v.18. An important word

here is tupos which denotes a mark made by striking, an

impression made by something or somebody, hence a form,

figure, or pattern. An example is a thing or a person

prefiguring a thing or a person. Adam is the prototype of

Christ in that each begins an epoch and the character of

each epoch is established by their action. What we have

here is Adam serving as a pattern of life that leads to

death while Christ is a pattern leading from death to life.

The point of emphasis is the view of sin and Death as quasi-

cosmic powers and human responsibility in sinning.98

B- Dissimilarity Between Christ and Adam vv.15-17

The purpose of w . 15-17 is to drive home the vast

dissimilarity between Christ and Adam before the formal

comparison between them is made in vv.18 and 19. This

comparison began in vv.12-14 but is here interrupted in

order to stress the dissimilarity between them. To stress

this dissimilarity Paul introduced two contrasting formulas.

The first contrast is in v.ISa, But the gift is not like

the trespass", and the second contrast is found in v.l6a,

Again the gift of God is not like the result of the one

man's sin11: each of these contrasts is followed by a

supporting argument. The Greek word alia at the beginning

of v.15 is due to the presence of the last'clause of v.14,

and gives a strong hint of the comparison to be introduced.

8Dunn, 27 6.

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Paraptdma now replaces parabasis; why Paul did this is not

clear. Paraptoma has the idea of "false step" or "blunder",

whereas parabasis can be translated to mean "transgression".

The distinction does not amount to much; both have reference

to Adam's disobedience although it could be a reinforcement

on the whole idea of a broader concept of sinning.

Another important concept is charisma which is often

translated "grace". It has the idea of a concrete enactment

of grace, and this is demonstrated in the act of Christ,

which is an embodiment of grace. One implication of this is

that the grace stamps the character of the whole epoch.

The statement of the dissimilarity between Adam's sin

and God's gracious gift is supported by an appeal to the

surpassing gift of God. The construction in v.5 shows that

a contrast is desired, and is introduced by gar just as in

v.l7a. The phrase "by the trespass of the one man the many

dies" in v.15 refers to and rephrases v.12. Conversely, the

grace of God and the gift of grace which is of the one Jesus

Christ, has overflowed to the many. The double expression

of grace does not refer simply to God's gracious

disposition, but speaks of His gracious action, and the high

quality of the act, in terms of its power and freeness.

One implication of this act of God's grace is that it

clearly demonstrates that God's response to the sin of the

First Man is not merely to make up for the ground that has

"Morris, 23 5.

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65

been lost. It also brought to completion the destiny which

Adam would have fulfilled had he not fallen into sin.

The language in verse 16 seems rather compressed but

the thoughts are clear: "the gift of God is not like the

result of the one man's sin". The "not as" of v.15 is here

repeated, but is used to contrast the gift and that which

came through Adam rather than Adam's trespass as mentioned

in v.15.

The phrase "the judgement followed one sin and brought

condemnation" does not add any material to v.15 except that

together with v.15 it once again highlights the two-

sidedness of humankind's plight. "But the gift followed

many trespasses and brought justification." Perhaps

conscious of the danger of lapsing into mere repetition Paul

varies the use of polloi, "many", thus altering the contrast

from the one and the many to the one trespass and the many

trespasses. As it is, Christ does not stand with the sin of

the one man but the damnation and transgression of the many.

This gift that follows many sins is a great miracle, unlike

the one sin of Adam that followed many.

T- Verse 12a may be viewed as further support for v.l6a,

and is reminiscent of v.l5b especially in its structure and

substance, except that it has much force in v.17. The

phrase "through the one man, Jesus Christ" acts as the

apodosis to add extra emphasis that one man's action can

determine the fate of the many. For Paul, it is the one

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real likeness between Christ and Adam. It would be seen

that the substance of the apodosis of v.15 is re-expressed

in the latter half of v.17 which itself is an inversion of

the structure of the protasis: instead of making "the many"

the subject of it (as of the protasis), Paul made "the

grace" the subject. Paul's intention could be that he wants

to emphasize the initiative of the divine grace.100 Thus,

in v.17 we have an inversion of the structure between the

protasis and apodosis (e.g. instead of saying "life

reigned" in correspondence to death reigned of the protasis

he says "Those who receive God's abundant provision of

grace"). Paul's point was to contrast the act of Christ's

efficacy to the act of the Fall. Commenting further- on thi

Kasemann says:

As from Adam on the curse that has invaded all


time and space is already present to us, no less
is the blessing which is established universally
throughout time and space by Christ and which
spreads abroad in his kingdom. We do not
constitute either the one or the other and to that
extent we receive "destiny" therefrom for
ourselves and our world.101

We have a picture of God's immeasurable grace to man. The

phrase "reign in life through the one man" is in the future

tense and it underlines the eschatological tension that is

evident in this passage. The grace is not only for the

present age but reaches to the yet beyond. In this section

10QCranfield, 287.

101Kasemann, 156.

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(vv.15-17) Paul has succeeded in clarifying the

dissimilarity between Christ and Adam, which should enable

us to understand their similarity. Apart from the

similarity which is in relation of Christ to all humankind

and in the relation of Adam to all humankind, Christ and

Adam stand in great dissimilarity.

C. Christ and Adam in Comparison vv.18-19

Verse 18 opens with the Greek words ara on hos

translated "so then", and it serves to resume the main line

of argument (v.12) interrupted by the parenthesis (vv.l2d-

17). The phrase hotos kai translated "so also" introduces

the long-delayed apodosis. The whole verse is condensed in

style as in v.16 and has no verbs expressed. Also, the

phrase "as the result of one trespass was condemnation for

all men" respects the substance of the protasis in v.12, and

some ideas found in the preceding verses. The "one"

mentioned here is masculine since it refers to Adam, the

parallel phrases that are echoed point to Adam, and the

contrast is with "all men".

"The result of the one act of righteousness was

justification that brings life". The "one" again is

masculine and refers to Christ. All this points to one

single action which inaugurated a whole epoch. Again the

focus is on the act of Christ and not the outcome as in

v.15. An important word here is dikaiomata, and is

variously understood as the act of justifying or condition

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68

of possessing a status of righteousness or righteous acts.

The word provides a contrast to the word 11transgression" and

it agrees with the word obedience in v.19, an important word

in understanding the atoning work of Christ. The phrase

"Justification that brings life for all men" does not imply

a universalist view of salvation; rather, it has the idea of

a process as well as its result.102

Commenting more on this salvation Cranfield says:

It is truly offered to all, and all are to be


summoned urgently to accept the proffered gift,
but at the same time to allow that this clause
does not foreclose the question whether in the end
all will actually come to share i t .101

Verse 19 opens with the word gar translated "for" which

provides an explanation for v.18 and not just a repetition.

It illustrates the connecting links between Adam's misdeed

and the condemnation of the many, and between Christ's

perfect fulfilment of God's righteous requirements and the

possession by many of that righteous status which is eternal

life. The verb "were made" presents problems. Cranfield

suggests that it has the idea that all men were constituted

sinners through the misdeeds of Adam, that sin having once

obtained entry into human, all humankind in their turn lived

sinful lives. Morris on the other hand suggests that it

does not mean that sinless people were compelled to become

102Dunn, 282.

1Q3Cranfield, 289.

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69

sinners, but rather that Adam's sin constituted them as

sinners.

However, the words sinners" and "righteous" suggest

relationship rather than character: they express the two-

sidedness in human sinfulness. It is highly doubtful if

they provide any sufficient ground for any theological

thesis.10,1

10,1Morris, 23 6.

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D. The Purpose of the Law vv.20-21

In v.2 0 Paul seems to narrow his universal sweep that

has been in the centre of his discussion in the previous

verses, by introducing a factor that reflects Jewish

particularity. This is made possible by the use of the Law

which is a reference to the Jewish Law or the Torah.

Logically, Paul has already concluded his contrast between

the epochs of Christ and Adam, but finds it necessary to

stress what may be considered a third epoch, that of the

Law. This has some religious significance for the Jews

through whom God has promised to accomplish his plans and

purposes for humanity. Hina in v.20 shows clearly that the

Law has been introduced to serve the purpose of God. Here

it would seem that the Law has a negative role. For the

multiplying of the one trespass into many trespasses is due

to the Law that has been instituted. The purpose of the Law

is not to distinguish between the Jews who are righteous and

the Gentiles who are sinners, but it is intended to make the

Jews more conscious of their solidarity in sin with the rest

of Adam's offspring.105 It was also necessary for sin

which at this time is already in the world, to become

visible and defined, so that it can be dealt with

decisively. This is why the Jews have been made custodians

of the Law (Romans 2:17ff) . The triumph of grace Paul

mentioned in v.20b does not constitute the end of the

105Dunn, 286.

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71

matter. Its goal was the dispossessing of the usurper sin

and the replacement of its reign by the reign of grace. To

explain this, Paul for the last time made use of comparison.

He compared the reign of divine grace which has no end, with

the reign of death that has an end.

In conclusion, our passage does not only demonstrate

the dissimilarity that exists between Christ and Adam, but

it also shows the likeness that exists between them. This

consists in the corresponding structure between Christ in

relation to all humankind, and Adam in relation to all

humankind. It is for this reason that Adam was viewed as

the pattern of Christ, and gave rise to the argument that

moves from one relational structure to another.

One result of our study in this chapter is that the

concern of the apostle Paul in Romans 5:12-21 is not to

discuss the origin of sin but to show the scope of the act

of God's grace to humankind. How Augustine was able to read

original sin in this passage will be the topic of discussion

in chapter four.

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72

Chapter Four

An Evaluation of Augustine's Doctrine of


Original Sin based on Romans 5:12-21

In the last two chapters, the researcher attempted to

present the ideas of original sin in Paul and Augustine.

The findings in these two chapters are what will be

presented here for evaluation and discussion, with the view

to understand the relationship between Adam's sin and that

of his posterity.

A Comparison of Paul and Augustine.

A common characteristic between Paul and Augustine is

that both men are remarkable figures in the history of the

church and in the development of the Christian faith. This

Christian faith is founded upon the belief of the community

that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures,

that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day

according to the Scriptures . . . (1 Cor. 15:3-4) . And

since the first generation of believers, this keryqma has

been the basic doctrine or teaching of the Christian faith.

Consequently, those who received Jesus Christ reflect

on the meaning of the words and deeds of Jesus. And this

has continued to be one of the focus of refection, and

teaching. It is what we find in the writings of Paul and

Augustine. These writings of Paul and Augustine, in other

words the NT and church tradition, have constituted our

sources of doctrine.

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73

Apart from their intense intellectual curiosity and

commitment to the service of the church, both Paul and

Augustine share similar experiences of the power of sin in

individual lives. For example, consider these two classical

confessions. Paul says:

We know the law is spiritual but I am unspiritual,


sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what
I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what
I hate I do, I agree that the law is good. As it
is, it is no longer myself who do it, but it is
sin living in m e . I know that nothing god lives
in me, that is, in my sinful nature, for I desire
to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
For what I do is not the good I want to do - This
I keep doing. Now if I do what I do not want to
do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin
living in me that does it. (Rom. 7:14-20}

In what appears to be a similar confession, Augustine says:

But what was it that I delighted in save to love


and be loved? But I held to it not in moderation,
mind to mind, the bright path of friendship, but
of the dark concupiscence of the flesh and the
effervescence of youth exhalations came forth
which obscured and overcast my heart, so that I
was unable to discern pure affection from unholy
desire. Both boiled confusedly within me, and
drag away my unstable youth into rough places of
unchaste desires, and plunged me into a gulf or
infamy . . . Oh for one to have regulated my
disorder, and turned to my profit the fleeting
beauties of the things around me, and fixed a
bound to their sweetness.106

There is no doubt that Paul and Augustine did not only

derive their knowledge from reflection only, but their

experience of what they reflected upon added conviction to

what they believed and taught.

10oAugustine, 55.

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74

Our concern is not to try to place both men on the same

par. For as we have already pointed out in chapter two,

Augustine is highly indebted to Paul for the ideas he tried

to express on original sin. Our concern is simply to

acknowledge the contribution that Paul and Augustine made to

our understanding of the Christian faith. However, a

special consideration is given to the teaching of Augustine

on original sin in view of the way it has shaped the church

understanding of the effect of the First Sin on humankind.

This classic passage of Rom. 5:12-21 is not only a

difficult passage but also a subject of much controversy.

Thus the need to reexamine the passage carefully and in the

light of Scriptural revelation.

Result of Exegesis and Discussion

The results of our study in chapters two and three will

be carefully examined and discussed here. We shall attempt

Jto focus only on those findings that will assist us in our

understanding of the relationship between the sin of the

First Nan and his posterity.

Our results will be evaluated and discussed in respect

to the following issues:

A. What is the meaning of eph hoi?

B. Does the phrase pantes hemarton refer to personal

sins or to a state of sin that spreads to all humankind

through the one sin of Adam?

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75

C. Does the phrase "Sin is not taken into account when

there is no lav;" refer to the judgement of God or man's

conscience?

D. Can we prove the reality of original sin by the

universal fact of death, or is death to be understood

by the personal sins of each man and woman?

E. Does the phrase "those who did not sin by breaking a

command, as did Adam" refer to infants who are

incapable of responsible acts or people v/ho, unlike

Adam, have not sinned by transgressing any law that has

been instituted?

In the section that follows we shall attempt to discuss

these questions and to draw logical conclusions where

possible.

A. The Meaning of eph hoi

As already indicated in chapter three this little

phrase has given rise to an enormous volume of discussion,

this is because it is viewed as a key phrase in our

understanding of the doctrine of original sin. The

possibilities are these:

1. To take the hoi as masculine in gender and refer it to

an implied nomos as its antecedent.

2. To take the hoi as masculine and refer it to ho

thanatos.

3. To take the hoi as masculine and refer to enos

anthrSpou, understanding the noun anthropou as a

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76

reference to Adam and taking the epi in the sense of

en.

4. To take the h5i as masculine and refer it to henos

anthropou, understanding the noun anthropou as a

reference to Adam and taking the eph h5i in the sense

of "because".

5. To take the hoi as neuter and the phrase eph hoi as

having the sense of "because".

It is important that we resolve the problem of eph hoi

grammatically before we turn to the theological meaning of

the clause. The first, second, and fourth suggestions do

not seem to carry any conviction on exegetical ground.I(,/

The fourth interpretation that takes h5i as masculine

with henos anthropou as its antecedent, and epi as

equivalent to en is specially associated with Augustine,

though it did not originate with him.IOfi

The Latin tradition, which Augustine followed,

interpreted the phrase eph h5i by in quo omnes peccaverunt

and does not necessarily have the meaning of sinning in

Adam, but the Latin tradition later interpreted it in the

sense of sinning in Adam.109 The idea of sinning in Adam an

107S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., "Romans 5:12 - An Exercise in


Exegesis and Theology," in New Dimensions in New Testament Study,
e d s . Richard N. Longenecker and Merrill C. Tenney {Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1974)

10SAugustine, 419.

109Lukken, 271.

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the explicit interpretation of the in quo omnes peccaverunt

of Rom. 5:12, seems to emerge for the first time in Latin

tradition in Ambrosiaster,110 sometime identified with

Hilary. The author of Ambrosiaster is of the opinion that

Paul uses the masculine pronoun deliberately to refer to the

whole humanity.111 All have sinned in Adam as in a

totality. Since Adam himself has been corrupted by sin, all

those who have descended from him are therefore born under

sin. Thus we are all sinners because we descended from

Adam.

This interpretation seems to pave the way for

Augustine's teaching in whom patristic thinking on original

sin was fully developed. In his debate against Pelagians,

Augustine emphasized this clause as referring to Adam. He

says:

Again in the clause which follows "in whom all


have sinned", how cautiously, how rightly, and
ambiguously is the statement expressed! For if
you understand that sin to be meant which by one
man entered into the world, "In which [sin] all
have sinned", it is surely clear enough, that the
sins which are peculiar to every man, which they
themselves commit and which belong simply to them,
mean one thing; and that the one sin, in which and
by which all have sinned, means another thing;
since all were that one man. If, however, it be
not the sin, but that one man that is understood,
"In which [one man] all have sinned", what again
can be plainer than even this clear statement?112

11DIbid.

m Ibid.

U2Augustine, 19.

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78

Furthermore he says:

Moreover, if Christ alone is He in whom all men


are justified, on the ground that it is riot simply
the imitation of His example which makes man--just,
but His grace which regenerates men by the Spirit,
then also Adam is the only one in whom all have
sinned, on the ground that it is not the mere
following of his evil example that makes men
sinners, but the penalty which generates through
the flesh.113

Augustine's exegesis of Romans 5:12 indicates that he sees

nothing in this verse but the one sin in which we have all

sinned. This one sin has been transmitted to all of Adam's

posterity by means of procreation and not imitation. And

this procreation as he pointed out is governed by the sinful

impulse of concupiscence. As Lukken observed, Augustine's

interpretation of Romans 5:12 can be regarded as the summing

up of his entire teaching on original sin.11,1 The study

seems to indicate, that the role of the phrase eph hoi has

already been determined by the Latin translation in quo

omnes peccaverunt, "in whom all have sinned".

The classic debate on the meaning of eph hoi has

engaged the minds of Christian scholars for long, but as

Dunn observed, it has more or less been settled in favour of

the meaning "because" or "for this reason."11-' However,

the meaning of this conjunction is understood differently by

some. According to Cranfield, the use of the word hernarton

113 Ibid.

114Lukken, 273.

115Dunn, 273.

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79

refers to a collective sin: death has come to all men in

their turn because they all sinned collectively in the


ij

primal transgression of Adam.116 This interpretation seems


<i

to employ the theological substance found in Augustine and

combines it with the explanation of eph hoi as meaning

"because". Therefore, the phrase should be translated;

"through one man sin entered the world and through sin,

death, and thus death has passed to all men because all men

have sinned."117

Johnson objects to the suggestion of Cranfield.118

According to Johnson we may take the h5i as a neuter and the

phrase eph h5i as having the sense of "because". That it is

not enough to say that we participated in Adam's sin either

collectively or individually. The important question is in

what sense have we participated in a realistic or a

represejjative sense.

B. The Meaning of pantes hernarton

Now that the problem of construction has been settled,

we must now look at the whole of v.12 in order to understand

the meaning of pantes hernarton, "in that all sinned". The

question we are seeking to address is to try to find out if

there is any justification in understanding "sin" in the

phrase "because all have sinned" to mean "in Adam" all men

tu,Cranf ield, 277.

117Ibid.

liaLongenecker, 304.

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80

have sinned or should it be understood as in the first

phrase of v.12 "sin entered the world: the state of sin that

spread to all through the sin of Adam. To quote Augustine

concerning this:

Again, in the clause which follows, "In which all


have sinned", how cautiously, rightly, and
unambiguously is the statement expressed! . . .
that the sins which are peculiar to everyone,
which they themselves commit and which belong
simply to them, mean one thing; and that the one
sin, in and by which all have sinned, means
another thing; since all were that one man.11"

For Augustine the phrase "in that all sinned" would mean

that in Adam all humankind sinned. Since for him all were

that one man, the implication is that we do not only share

equally with Adam in the first sin, but we have become

equally guilty. This linking of all with Adam is based on

the fact that for Augustine, Adam was the progenitor ofthe

human race.120 In other words, we all share one nature

with Adam, made possible by the power of the concupiscence,

therefore we all sinned in him.

Having decided that hoi is neuter and eph hoi means

"because", Cranfield outlines three interpretations of

pantes hernarton. First, that hernarton may refer not to

peoples' sinning in their own persons but to their

participation in Adam's transgression.121 Second, that

U9Augustine, 19.

120Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter , 89.

121Cranf ield, 278.

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81

hernarton may refer to peoples' sinning in their own persons

independently of Adam, though after his example.122 Third,

that hernarton may refer to peoples' sinning in their own

persons but as a result of the corrupt nature inherited from

Adam.123 Cranfield tends to lean heavily on the third

option, in which he thinks hernarton has the same force as in

3:23

In dealing with the phrase pantes hernarton Johnson

suggests that we would have to come to grips with the

problems of realism and representation, and the manner of

imputation.124 This is because Paul failed to discuss the

question as to how the sin of individual human beings is

related to and hence ought properly to be understood vis-a-

vis the sin of Adam and Eve. Thus from the fifth century

A .D . onward theologians proposed different theories about

this relationship. There are alternative theories that have

been suggested in resolving these problems. First, those

who deny any casual relation between Adam's sin and the sin

of the human race. According to those who have held this

view, there is no relations, either logical or neutral,

judicial or physical, between Adam's act and his posterity's

sin. The second is the Pelagian theory which refer to the

words to the actual personal sins of humankind. The third

122Ibid., 282.

I23Ibid.

124Johnson, 306.

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82

is the theory of Augustine in which he taught a seminal

identity between Adam and his posterity.

In his own argument Johnson objects to the theory of

realism in favour of the theory of representation. The

theory of realism views the solidarity between Adam and all

humans as natural or seminal. Johnson's objection to

realism is that, even if we should grant that generic

humanity sinned in Adam, we would have no relief from the

problem of an alien guilt. That if punishment is to be

vindicated, the act of sin must be one of conscious self-

determination. Yet according to realism, when Adam sinned,

his posterity as individuals and as "persons" did not exist.

This does not seem to alleviate the problem of justice. The

difficulty in realism is that all have without exception

sinned as Adam did, since they sinned racially in him.

Against this background, Johnson suggests the theory of

representative union and the immediate imputation o f :

sin.125 He says:

The connection between Adam's sin and universal


human sinfulness and death is most lucidly
explicated by the doctrine of immediate
imputation. Adam, our federal representative,
failed his probation and plunged his posterity
into sin, wrath, and judgement, imputed to them
directly, as a result of this fall, all men enter
life "constituted sinners" before God - their only
hope being the imputation of righteousness
provided by God through the saving work of the

125Ibid., 310.

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83

last Adam, the federal head of the company of the


elect.12,J

To avoid the problem we have encountered, and to make some

sense out of the rest of the passage it is important to see

the verb hernarton as a simple aorist. This tense usually

refers to a single past action. Had Paul intended to refer

to a continued process of sin, the present and imperfect

tenses were available to him. But he chose the aorist, and

this should be taken at face value. Therefore, if, the sin

of humankind and the sin of Adam are regarded as the same,

it will reduce the problem. There will be no conflict

between verse 12 and verses 15 and 17. Even the potential

problem of verse 14 will be resolved.

The last clause in verse 12 suggests that we were all

involved in some way in Adam's sin; it was in some sense

also our sin. This may be understood in terms of federal

headship as Johnson suggested, but it can also be understood

in terms of natural headship.127 The whole of human nature

has been received from our parent by way of descent from the

first pair of humans. Thus the universality of sin and

depravity are implied.

This raises the question of justice; how can we be held

responsible for the sin we have not committed? The

parallelism that Paul draws in Romans 5 between Adam and

,2fIbid. 313.

127Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids,


Michigan: Baker Book House, 1985), 637.

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Christ in their relationship to us is suggestive. Paul

demonstrated that what each of them did has its effect on

us. Adam's sin brought death, but Christ's act of

righteousness, leads to life. A logical way people have

reasoned is that if sin and guilt of Adam are imputed to us

without a conscious choice on our part, the same would be

true of the imputation of Christ's righteousness. It does

not work that way. We did not choose to be born guilty

sinners but became guilty sinners by virtue of our being

born into this world that has been invaded by sin. It

should be remembered that the Hebrews generally did not


distinguish between sin and guilt until later Judaism, all

the leading words for sin also express guilt.12 This does

not mean that we are all worthless and irresponsible. For

as God is concerned we are worth much to Him, and that is

why He sent His son to die on the cross. By virtue of

Christ's death and resurrection salvation is made accessibl

to anyone that will respond to God's invitation. Vries

concludes with the following observations:

An important consideration is the distinction


between corporate and individual responsibility
for sin. In its early development Israel was very
much influenced by a dynamistic .concept of
corporate guilt, as strikingly appears in the
account of Achan's sin (Joshua 7). Not only was
the guilty man put to death, but all his gods, his
flocks, and his family also perished with him. . .
. It has been mentioned that guilt for sin came to
be felt more personally as Israel's theological
understanding of the real nature of sin developed.

128Emery S. Bucke, ed. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the


Bible. (Nashville, Tennesee: Abingdon Press, 1962), 4:362.

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85

To contribute to our understanding of the referent in

our second question, we may have to investigate further the

implications of the law.

C. The Meaning of the Phrase 11Sin is not taken

into account when there is no law."

Augustine understood this phrase to mean God's

Judgement. He asked:

Now what means the phrase, "is not imputed", but

"is ignored", or is not reckoned as sin? Although

the Lord does not Himself regard it as if it had

never been, since it is written: "As many as have

sinned without the Law shall perish without the

Law. ,'12'1

Augustine's reference to that classic verse sheds more light

on his thinking here, that imputation of sin does not

suggest individual guilt or responsibility but the one sin

we all sinned in Adam, and for which we all have been

condemned.130

The Latin word Augustine use is imoutatio, which refers

to the divine attribution of sinfulness to humankind because

of the corruptio haereditaria or the hereditary corruption

of all people.131 The imputation is immediate since it

^Augustine, On Forgiveness of Sins, and Baptism, 19.

noIbid., 23.

m Richard A. Muller Dictionary of Latin and Greek Terms


(Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1985), 149.

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86

refers to our participation in the sin of Adam. This is in

contrast to mediate imputatioxi which is contingent upon the

natural corruption of individual human beings, (ie we are

guilty sinners only, because we ourselves are individually

corrupt) .
y
Some scholars have interpreted the phrase, "sin is not

taken into account when there is no law", to mean that sin

is not taken seriously except under the Mosaic Law.1'-1

This does not deny -the reality and consequences of sin. For

Paul pointed out in Romans 1:32 that even pagans do possess

the knowledge of good and evil and they too are subject to

death.

A key word in this consideration is ellogen and is

rather a commercial term, which means "to charge to

someone's account." This implied the intervention of God to

whom we must give account of our sins. To admit that the

phrase under consideration refers to divine Judgement poses

some difficulty (divine partiality), for earlier in Romans

1:26ff, Paul mentioned God's Judgement in which God

condemned the pagans who do not have the Law. It would seem

rather appropriate for God to punish only those sins that

transgress the Law. Whereas the book of Genesis to which

Paul referred, not only does God punish sin without any lav/

being promulgated beforehand, but he also handed dov/n a Law

containing a warning of death as in the case of Cain, and

132Dunn, 274.

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87

consequently the descendants of Noah. One exception is the

case of Abimelech in which the divine revelation is not

intended to make him aware of a law which he may not know,

but to tell him of the danger of breaking it without

knowing.133 Appeal to Abimelech's conscience is in view

here, and does not need the promulgation of the law to

determine what is good or bad. We find a similar idea in

the beginning of the Epistle to the Romans.

To resolve the difficulty between Romans 5:13b and

Genesis, we may suggest that when Paul based his argument on

the fact that a Law must be in existence before sin can be

counted, he has in mind the Torah and the situation of the

Israelites.13,1 From this a general principle can be drawn

which applies to all humankind.

Considering the Jewish though, it was necessary for the

Law to be promulgated for the Israelites to be subjected to

penalties.135. Therefore Paul issued the statement that sin

is not counted when there is no law, and this should be

limited to the Israelites. This does not make the pagans

innocent, for since they know God and the moral Law without

the help of the Mosaic Law, they too are culpable. The

responsibility of each depends on the knowledge that each

has of good " All who sin apart from the law

,33Dubarle, 159.

13''lbid.

13-Ibid., 159-160.

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88

apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be

judged by the law." (Romans 2:12) By contrasting the sin of

Adam, which is committed with full knowledge, and the sins

committed before the Law was promulgated suggest that the

absence of the Law does not mean universal ignorance.

There are two distinctions that seem to emerge. First

is the view of sin as a power in human experience from which

no one can be freed, and sin as something for which the

individual can be charged. Here again the two-sidedness of

the human condition within the epoch of Adam comes to

expression: Sin as a given of corruption and guilt and as an

action in which the individual is responsible. The second

distinction is between death as part of human condition from

which the individual cannot escape, and death as a

consequence of the individual's responsible

transgression.130 What we have said so far does not

necessarily answer the fourth question, which we shall now

attempt to do.

D. The Meaning of "Death" in vv. 13-14

,,, ISome see in these verses the idea that personal sins

caused death of all humankind from Adam to Moses.m These

personal sins may not be denied since the absence of the lav/

could mean that people did not recognize them or simply

ignored them. But in spite of this, the reality of death

m Dunn, 275.

137Cranf ield, 277.

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89

points to the existence of these sins, which differed from

the sin of Adam, for they did not violate a law. But far

from proving the existence of a state of sin in humanity,

the passage supports the existence of personal sins that can

provide explanation for the mortal condition of

humankind.138

Adam is usually portrayed, based on this passage, as

the cause of sin and death, but it is important to note that

v.17 reproduces the formula found in v.14 "death reigned"

but added "through that one man." And this comes after the

reference to the many sins from which we are justified by

grace. The point that is at stake here is that in v.17 Paul

identified the many sins in order to explain death in v.14.

And rather than focusing on the many sins he attributed the

cause of death to one sin alone. We must therefore

understand v.14 in the light of v.17. Thus death reigned

from Adam to Moses through the one sin. These two verses

clearly demonstrate the inheritanceof sin and death from

the First Man, and this death is the wages of sin, and the

reign of death from Adam to Moses is not due only to

personal culpability; something else must be at work.

The response may be to attribute death either to the

sin of Adam alone, or to the state of sin that we have

inherited from him. It is also possible to view the state

138Dubarle, 163.

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90

of sin and the acts, which are the consequences, as one and

the same.

The term "all sinned" demonstrates the influence of the

first sin, which goes to show that sin existed in the world

before Moses, not only as an influence, but as a reality.

And sins of the many are not always seen as the

transgression of Adam because they did not sin like those

who had received the law, they are understood as evil deeds

that are actually committed. Sanday commenting on this

says :

When I say "they sinned" I must insert a word of


qualification. In the strict sense of full
responsibility they could not sin: for that
attaches only to sin against the law, and they had
as yet no law to sin against. Yet they suffered
the full penalty of sin. All through the long
period which intervened between Adam and Mosaic
legislation, the tyrant Death held sway; even
though those who die had not sinned, as Adam had,
in violation of an express command. This proved
that something deeper was at work: and that could
only be the transmitted effect of Adam's sin. It
is this transmitted effect of a single act which
made Adam a type of the coming Messiah.139

In summary we must recognize that v.12 does not suggest a

double cause of death; caused by Adam's sin and individual

sins, rather what we find is a single cause of sin, that of

Adam, which led to evil conduct in all of humankind and

consequently death.1"10

139William Sanday and Arthur C. Headlam, A Critical and


Exeqetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh: T .
and T. Clark, 1980), 131.

140Morris, 233.

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E. The Referent in the Phrase "Who did not sin by


breaking the command"

Augustine sees in this phrase infants and this implied

in his statement:

Therefore, "death reigned from Adam unto Moses . .


even in those who had not sinned after the
similitude of Adam's transgression", that is, who
had not yet sinned of their own individual will,
as Adam did, but had drawn from him original
sin.141

When Augustine mentioned individual will it is normally with

reference to adults who are able to choose between what is

good and evil. Elsewhere he says:

Unless, therefore, we obtain not simply


determination of will, which is freely turned in
this direction and that, and has its place amongst
natural good: which a bad man may use badly.142

We can infer from this that Augustine saw in the phrase who

did not sin by breaking a command" a reference to infants.

And it was on this basis he taught infant baptism for the

remission of original sin.143

The use of hamartano in v.14 seems to suggest that

there is a sinning which is not a transgression in the sense

of breaking or violating an expressed command, but

nevertheless a responsible act whose result is death.

If this understanding is correct, Paul may be meaning to

attribute to humans before Moses some vague and general

141Augustine, 20.

142Ibid., 5b.

143Ibid., 41.

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92

knowledge of God's will. But such a supposition will be in

violation of the clear implications of Romans l:18ff.

Rather, it would seem likely that Paul has for the moment

forgotten the natural law and is therefore trying to deal

with a logical, difficulty which, granted the existence of

law, would not exist at all. Paul does not always think of

sin simply as transgression, sometimes he views sin as a

demonic power which has the power to reduce humans to a kind

of slaver, and of death as having two aspects: both the

wages or inevitable end of the slavery and also the

judgement of God upon the transgression. It is clear,

therefore, that Paul would have been able to understand the

mere fact of the prevalence of death from Adam to Moses

without reference to transgression at all, but his statement

in v.12 that "death spread to all men because all men

sinned" indicates that he is here thinking of death as the

punishment of transgression.14'
1

In discussing the matter of the law and the effect it is

having on humankind, Paul does not have infants in mind.

There is no thought of children who die in infancy.145 To

be sure there is no direct command to baptize infants even

though they begin life with both the corrupted nature and

the guilt that are consequences of sin. But there is also

144Nolan B. Harmon, ed., The Interpreter's Bible. (Nashville:


Abingdon Press, 1954), 9:464.

145Dunn, 27 6.

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93

no prohibition. Therefore, the propriety of infant baptism

must be determined upon strictly theological considerations.

Infant baptism has been practiced by the church in an

unbroken tradition from the third century until the

Reformation, when the Reformation sects led by the

Anabaptists renounced the practice and proclaimed the

necessity of "believers' baptism". They opined that what

was not explicitly enjoined in Scripture should not be

practiced.146

Thus they insisted that there was no scriptural ground for

the baptism of infants and also that the profession of

personal faith was demanded in Scripture from those who were

to be baptized. This principle of personal faith in Christ

and of conversion experience became a matter of greater

theological importance.

On the other hand, advocates of infant baptism insist

that the subjective response of the parents and the church

justifies the practice.147 Augustine alluded to this when

he said the faith of Christian parents could save the life

of a baptized infant.148

Of the two views presented above, the believers'

baptism has received wider support. One of the reasons for

146Donald G. Bloesch, "Sin, " in The Evangelical Dictionary of


Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
1985), 172.

147Ibid.

148Augustine, On Original Sin, 29

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94

accepting believers baptism stems from the command that

Jesus gave the apostles and this command underlies the

institution of baptism. In Matt. 28:19 when Jesus commanded

the apostles to go baptize, he told them first to make

disciples and said nothing about infants, which suggests

that preaching must always precede baptism, for it is as a

result of the word preached that disciples are made and not

by sacrament. Baptism can be administered only when the

individual has responded to the word in penitence and in

faith, and is usually followed by detailed instruction in

discipleship.

The apostles understood this teaching, for on the day

of Pentecost, Peter told the conscience-stricken people to

repent and be baptized, but did not mention any special

conditions for infants who cannot repent (Acts 2:38).

Again, when the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized, it was on the

confession of faith (Acts 8:36). In the baptism of the

whole household, it was evident they either believed or

received an endowment of the Spirit (Acts 10:45; 16:32-33).

There is no mention of any other type of baptism. The

meaning of baptism which Paul developed in Romans 6 supports

this argument. Our identification with Christ's death,

burial and resurrection is solidly on the basis of

repentance and faith. To an infant who cannot hear the word

to make the appropriate decision, this truth becomes

meaningless. It is only the confessing believer that can

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understand the meaning of this and its implications on

personal life. The individual will also have a deeper

appreciation for what Christ has done for all humanity. To

introduce the idea of another type of baptism will distort

the meaning of baptism.

As already mentioned, there is no direct prohibition of

infant baptism in the New Testament. If infant baptism is

to be observed, it must be carried out as obviously

commanded and practiced, rather than to rely on exegetical

or theological inference for a different administration.140

For example, those who advocate infant baptism argue

that Christ's blessing of the children shows that the gospel

is also for little ones and that it is our responsibility to

introduce them to Christ. Augustine also shares this

opinion.150 But nothing is said about administering

baptism to infants. Again, the argument that the children

of Christians enjoy certain privileges called "holy" by God

(1 Cor. 7:14) says nothing in connection with infant baptism

or their personal identification with Jesus Christ

especially in his death and resurrection.

The reference to the household baptism of Acts does not

provide any basis either. Even though some of the

households may have included infants, it is possible that

149Donald G. Bloesch, "Sin," in The Evangelical Dictionary of


Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
1985), 172.

150Augustine, 29.

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96

they were present when the word was preached, but there is

no indication that any infant was actually baptizes. To

think otherwise would only be making wring inference.

To equate circumcision in the old covenant with infant

baptism will not be in harmony with the Scriptures. Though

we may find some similarities between the two the difference

between them is great. For example, the fact that

circumcision was given only to infant boys on a particular

day does not mean infant baptism should be given to all

children sometime in infancy. They belong to different

dispensation. In instituting the Old Testament practice of

circumcision through Israel, God is simply preparing the

grounds for when He will form a people for himself out of

all the nations of the world. This will be based on

spiritual regeneration and not natural birth.

The reasons that have been advanced against the

institutionalization of infant baptism show not only the

weakness and inadequacy of infant baptism as a basis for the

constructing of the doctrine of original sin, but also the

danger of misleading the church. Again, Augustine was not

consistent in his view on infant baptism. For example, he

taught that the unbaptized infants of a pious mother are

damned while the infant of an enemy of Christ

indiscriminately baptized will be saved.151 There is no

uoubt that the practice of infant baptism in the early

151Ibid., 25.

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97

church led Augustine to see the connection between infant

baptism and original sin. This shows that his exegesis was

influenced by certain established categories. Therefore

what we see in this verse is humankind who have not, like

Adam, transgressed any law that has been instituted but are

guilty sinners. It is not necessary to be an exact imitator

of Adam to be a sinner in Adam's likeness. His sin had

effect on the totality of humankind thereby corrupting the

nature we receive from birth which tends toward evil.

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Chapter Five

Summary and Conclusion

The purpose of this thesis was to examine the teaching

of Augustine on original sin based on the teaching of Paul

in Romans 5:12-21 with the aim to discover if this teaching

as understood and taught by Augustine should be the model

for the church today.

In order to understand the development of Augustine's

doctrine on original sin we examined the historical

background that helped shape Augustine's ideas on original

sin. As the study demonstrated in chapter one, the

patristic period in which Augustine lived and worked was

marked by theological reflections and literary activities.

The environment forced the church to reflect critically on

the faith. This attitude later gave rise to different

interpretation on matters concerning the faith, and was

compounded by the fact that theology was just at its

formative stage of development. This lack of doctrinal

homogeneity and other changes finally saw the separation

between the church in the West and in the East, and the

reconciliation between Church and Empire.

The study shows that Christian theology did not take

place in a vacuum or in abstract reflection. Thus, we can

understand the development of Augustine's doctrine of

original sin from this perspective. Our study in chapter

one shows that until the time of Augustine, tradition spoke

98

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99

of the sin of Adam and Eve and the primeval fall but did

not emphasize the consequences or implications of Adam's sin

on his posterity. But at the close of the second century

and at the beginning of the third century the problem of sin

was beginning to receive proper address.

The doctrine of original sin received its classical

formulation from Augustine. He sets out to counter the

Pelagian belief that freewill, supported by ascetic

practices, was sufficient for the living of a full Christian

life and the securing of eternal life.152 This

circumstance is the hermeneutical key to our understanding

of the doctrine of original sin.

Pelagianism, which in theology was designated a

heretical position, goes back to the British monk Pelagius.

The doctrine that Pelagius taught is repeatedly cited by

Augustine:

It would be too long if I were to seek to maintain


everything which the holy Ambrose said and wrote
against this heresy of the Pelagians, which was to
arise so long afterwards; not indeed with a view
to answer them, but with a view to declare the
Catholic faith and to build up men in it.153

Augustine's statement quoted above shows that it was his

intention that the doctrine of original sin, which he

defended, be understood as that belief held by the whole

church (though East and West were divided on this). It was

152Augustine, Against Two Letters of the Pelagians. 433.

l53I bid.

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also meant to build up humankind in the faith. However,

Augustine's rebuttal of the Pelagians was not concerned

about the emphasis that he laid on freewill, but rather

that, emphasizing freewill, he denied the ruin of the race

and the necessity of grace. When he spoke against the

Pelagians Augustine said:

It is, however, to be feared lest all these and


similar testimonies of Holy Scripture (and
undoubtedly there are many of them) in the
maintenance of the freewill, be understood in such
a way as to leave no room for God's assistance and
grace in leading a godly life and a good
conversation, to which the eternal reward is
d u e .154

It was upon this assumption, that humankind has no need of

supernatural assistance in its striving to obey

righteousness, that the greatest stress was laid in the

controversy. Augustine was most of all disturbed that the

grace of God was denied and opposed. There is no denying

the fact that the Pelagians also spoke of "grace" but they

understand grace to mean the natural endowment of humankind

with freewill. But to aid humankind in the proper use of

the freewill humankind was given the law and the teaching of

the gospel and above all the forgiveness of past sins in

Christ and Christ's holy example. Referring to this heresy,

Augustine says:

But they allege that such attainments are not made


without God's help on this account, namely,
because God created man with the free choice of
his will, and, by giving him commandments, teaches

154Augustine, On Grace and Freewill, 446.

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101

him, Himself, how man ought to live; and indeed


assists him, in that He takes away his ignorance
by instructing him in the knowledge of what he
ought to avoid and to desire in his actions.155

For the Pelagians these external helps - namely the Law, the

Gospel, Christ's forgiveness and His example - only render

it easier for humankind to do what otherwise they had

plenary ability for doing. This contention is based on the

freedom of man from any taint, corruption, or weakness due

to sin. The extreme view that the Pelagians held was that

humankind does not need help and that Adam's sin had no

effect on his posterity except for his bad example.

Pelagius says:

"Everything good, and everything evil on account


of which we are either laudable or blameworthy, is
not born with us but done by us: For we are born
not fully developed, but with a capacity for
either conduct; and we are procreated as without
virtue, so also without vice; and previous to the
action of our own proper will, that alone is in
men which God has formed."156

The statement above shows that what constitutes the

essential characteristic of Pelagianism is the view that sin

is not to be regarded if it does not proceed from a will,

which in their estimation is essentially free. When this

principle is applied to the classic doctrine of original

sin, it would indicate that original sin is not to be

regarded as sin. This is since it did not proceed from the

will, but is founded on the inertia of nature. It was this

155Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter, 84.

156Augustine, On Original Sin, 241.

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102

new teaching on humankind's condition, powers, and self-

dependence for salvation that forced Augustine to reconsider

the whole teaching as to humankind and their salvation.

Our study indicated that Augustine's argument on

original sin was based largely on the practice of child

baptism with its exorcism and in the clause in quo omnes

peccaverunt of Rom. 5:12. The arguments that we have

advanced against the institutionalization of infant baptism

show not only the weakness and inadequacy of infant baptism

as a basis for the constructing of the doctrine of original

sin, but also the danger of misleading the church. Again

Augustine was not consistent in his view of infant baptism.

The practice of infant baptism in the early church must have

led Augustine to see the connection between infant baptism

and original sin. Smith agreed with this conclusion when he

said:

The catalysts to the development of this doctrine


in the West do not lie in pure speculative
thought, but rather in the direction of the
church's life and practice. That is, convention
determined creed. The primary concerns of the
Latin fathers were the practical matters of the
church. One may therefore use the practice of the
church, particularly infant baptism and penance,
to provide some direction in an investigation of
the development of the doctrine of sin.157

Augustine's second argument in support of original sin

is based on the clause in quo omnes -peccaverunt, "in whom

all sinned". In his struggles against the Pelagians,

1S7Smith, 29.

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103

Augustine attached exceptional importance to this clause as

a proof of original sin.158 The history of the exegesis of

Rom. 5:12 is traced to Ambrosiaster of Hilary to whom

Augustine turns for his exegesis. He credited Ambrosiaster

when he said:

For thus also the sainted Hilary understood what


is written "wherein all have sinned"; for he says
"wherein" that is, in Adam, all have sinned. Then
he adds, it is manifest that all have sinned in
Adam, as it were, in the mass. For he himself was
corrupted by sin, and all whom he begat were born
under sin. When he wrote this, Hilary, without
any ambiguity, indicated how we should understand
the words "wherein all have sinned."159

For Hilary and Augustine, the phrase "in whom all have

sinned" should be understood to refer to Adam. This

resulted in the doctrine that "in Adam" all humankind

sinned. It is the sinning of the entire human race in Adam

in which by implication we share both in the sin and guilt

of Adam. The one sin of Adam became the sin of all

humanity.

The solidarity of the entire human race with Adam's sin

is thus connected with the link between the whole of

humanity and Adam. This linking of all humanity with Adam

is based on Augustine's conception of Adam as the progenitor

of the human race. Thus our solidarity with Adam's sin is

immediately connected with our natural descent from Adam,

158Augustine, 419.

159Ibid., 420.

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104

and is founded not on mere natural birth but on procreation

that is governed by the sinful impulse of concupiscence.

The decisive role that Romans 5:12 has played in the

traditional teaching on original sin was determined by the

Latin translation in quo omnes peccaverunt, but some studies

have shown that this reading was based on a faulty Greek

edition, and the Latins being less familiar with Greek were

not able to detect the problem.1110 This was why we had to

investigate the clause more closely. In exegeting the

classic passage of Romans 5:12-21, we had to put it in its

proper context. As was indicated in chapter three, Paul's

concern in this passage is not to trace the origin of sin,

but to show the absolute character, the fullness and the

finality of the salvation that has come to us by means of

God's supernatural grace, and how by faith each person can

appropriate this gift.

To show the universal effect of the grace of God, Paul

recalled the hopeless condition of humankind mired in sin,

in which this saving act of God changed our circumstance

completely. This is the whole argument of the apostle in

Romans 5:12-21, the Locus classicus of the doctrine of

original sin.

Romans 5:12-21, especially the last clause in verse 12

tells us that we were involved in some way in Adam's sin; in

a sense it could also mean our sin. We should admit a

1G0Rondet, 129.

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105

difficulty here that Paul did not provide us with enough

data to make a decision on the exact nature of that union.

The nature of this union between Adam and his posterity has

been a subject of debate, but Hodge summarized the debate

very well when he said:

It is a matter of minor importance how he


understood the nature of the union between Adam
and his posterity; whether he held the
representative, or the realistic theory; or
whether he ultimately sided for Traducianism as
against Creationism, or for the latter as against
the former. On these points his language is
confused and undecided. It is enough that he held
that such was the union between Adam and his race,
that the whole human family stood their probation
in him and fell with him in his first-
transgression . . . On this point he is perfectly
explicit.161

As Buswell observed, there are points in which Augustine

seems to suggest a realistic doctrine that all humans were

in Adam, and that his sin was their sin, being the act of

generic humanity.162 But as Hodge pointed out, Augustine

was not consistent in his view of the imputation of Adam's

sin. He pointed out five different interpretations put

forward by Augustine at different times, and in conclusion

he said "if one be valid, the others are invalid. "lb3

Buswell also noted that:

161Charles Hodge. Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B.


Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), 2:162.

162James Oliver Buswell. A Systematic Theology of the


Christian Religion. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House,
1962), 1:304.

163Hodge, 304-305.

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106

One view clearly and repeatedly brought out by


Augustine is that "As we are justified by the
righteousness of Christ, it is not incongruous
that we should be condemned by the sin of Adam."
Augustine never remotely suggest that we were
substantively in Christ when he died for our
sins. "164

Hodge finally concludes:

From this it is plain, {1.) That Augustine had no clear


and settled conviction as to the nature of the union
between Adam and his race which is the ground of the
imputation of his sin to his posterity, anymore than he
had about the origin of the soul; and (2.) That no
particular theory on that point, whether the
representative or realistic, can properly be made an
element of Augustinianism, as a historical and church
form of doctrine.165

However, one fact common to both realists and federalists

needs to be stressed? both seem to agree that all humans are

guilty of the sin of Adam and Eve in addition to being

guilty for sins that individuals may have consciously and

voluntarily committed. There is no doubt that to affirm the

universality of sin and depravity is not difficult, but to

settle on the relationship of the sin of Adam and Eve to our

sins is indeed difficult, as the man theories would seem to

suggest.166

The question is this: How do all human beings sin?

Some of the possible answers are; we sin by being united

with Adam as our progenitor, we sin through Adam as our

164Buswell, 305.

lb5Hodge, 164.

166James Leo Garrett. Systematic Theology: Biblical,


Historical and Evangelical {Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans
Publishing Company, 1990), 1:493.

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107

covenantal representative, we sin by willful sins growing

out of a fallen nature inherited from Adam, and we sin by

following the bad example of Adam in sinning. To conclude

that one of these possible answers is undoubtedly Paul's

intention in v.12 may not be sufficient on the basis of

exegesis of Romans 5:12-24 alone. As already pointed out,

Paul did not provide us with enough data to make a decision

on the exact nature of that union.

Even though Romans 5:12-21 may be lacking in some

details, Paul does not seem to suggest that all human beings

will actually and effectually be save through Christ, or

indicate in the passage itself how the individual humans

will appropriate the salvation that God has made available

in Christ. In the same manner, Paul did not settle for his

day and for all time to come the question as to how the sin

of individual human beings is related to the sin of Adam and

Eve.

Concerning sin, Paul simply says that it entered the

world through one man and came to all men. Its power of

expansion reached all humankind, and through it death came

to all men. The idea of universal death suggests spiritual

death, as a sign of loss of life of Communion with God. But

there is also the idea of physical death, from which Christ,

by reason of his death and resurrection, delivered us

(Hebrews 2:15).

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108

We indicated in chapter three that the last phrase in

Romans 5:12, which has the sense of "because" or

"considering that" is generally accepted. Through the sin

of Adam death and sin began to rule in the world, and by

their power they brought humankind under their rule.

Because people were sinners, all became liable to death.

Therefore, the idea of a passive participation of all Adam's

descendants in the sin of Adam may not be far from Paul's

mind. The verb hamartano also suggests active

participation. The whole idea that has emerged is this:

That all humankind, after Adam, sinned and are subject to

death because all have sinned in Adam, and also committed

sinful deeds because of the corrupt nature that has been

inherited. Humankind's sinful nature and deeds stand

opposed to Christ's work of righteousness, and He has now

replaced the reign of death in the lives of those who have

acknowledged Him.

Conclusion

The research presented from chapter one to chapter five

has the following implications.

1. Augustine's teaching that we all "sinned in Adam" was

based on a misinterpretation of Romans 5:12. He

changed the statement "because all sinned" to "in whom

all sinned". But the idea that Augustine wants to

convey can be expressed more "federally" in terms of

the biblical idea of covenant-relationship with God.

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109

The sin of Adam both in respect of sinful corruption

and of guilt was represented as imputed to his

descendants, not on the ground, as in Augustine's

representation, that humankind were in Adam, but on the

ground that he was our head and representative before

God.

2. The inheritance of Adam's sin means that while

humankind are born in sin and are guilty before God

from birth, it is also true that all humankind reaching

the age of responsibility sin overtly themselves. Even

if humankind had not had guilt imputed to them through

Adam, they would still become guilty as the result of

overt sin and would fall under the condemnation of God.

We must allow for the conscious and voluntary decision

on the part of each person. This happens when we

accept or approve of our corrupt nature, and is usually

the result of the Gospel which makes us aware of our

corrupt nature and tendency towards sin. At that point

we may choose to abhor the sinful nature and obtain

God's forgiveness or simply ignore it and live in the

guilt of that sin. Unless man is in some real sense

free, the concept of sin becomes mechanical and

meaningless.

3. We can rightly infer on the basis of our exegesis in

Romans 5:12-21 that each human that is born into the

world becomes tainted with the sinful nature with its

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concomitant guilt. The only person that was absolutely

free of this corrupt nature was Jesus Christ, since he

was born of the Holy Spirit.

4. No human that is born under the new covenant can

automatically share in the gift of eternal life without

a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This

relationship with Jesus Christ is based on the

principle of justification by faith.

5. Thus it will be misleading and unbiblical to teach that

baptism (of any type) can remove original sin and its

guilt. The status of infants and those who never reach

moral competence is a difficult question. It seems

although they have inherited a sinful nature (Psalm

51:5), the Lord does not condemn them to hell (Matt.

18:3; 19:14; 2 Sam. 12:23). Therefore it would be

difficult to think of them as sinful, condemned and

lost.

5. Even though we have been saved from the power of sin

through the cross, we are yet to be delivered from the

presence of sin. This is why we would continue to

experience the sorrow of living in a sinful world.

Christ, knowing that all humankind are sinners, made

his grace available to us to keep us until our

salvation has been perfected (Hebrews 9:28)

7. The question stated at the beginning of this research is

hereby confirmed, that Augustine's model of original

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I ll

sin based on his exegesis in Romans 5:12-21 may not be

a good model for us today. One weakness of Augustine's

model that the research has demonstrated, is its

failure to accommodate the individual action in the

whole problem of sin thereby overstating the condition

of humankind's sinfulness. Any biblical doctrine of

sin must not only acknowledge the inevitability of sin,

but also the individual responsibility in sin. The two

theories have to be kept in a balance to avoid the

extreme of augustine on one hand, and the extreme of

Pelagius on the other hand. We cannot disregard either

one and hope to remain biblical. Garrett concludes

this beautifully when he says:

Whatever conclusion be adopted, it should make a


place for a sinful nature as well as sinful deeds,
should see sin both individually and socially, and
should present the consequences of progitorial sin
in such a way that we humans today can be aware of
all that for which we are responsible.167

167Garrett, 493.

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