Tag Archives: Adam

Notes While Reading the Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

I set a goal this year to read through the Bible in the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation. I’m far behind schedule but don’t regret my choice.

The CSB, you may recall, is the new version of the now-retired Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). There are many differences between the two, though both aim(ed) to provide a translation that falls somewhere between the formal equivalence (NASB, KJV, ESV) and functional equivalence (NIV, NET, NLT) ends of the translation spectrum.

You can easily find more information online about all such things, including my own advice about Bible translations. Here I’ll simply share a few translation choices that have stood out to me so far in the CSB. Let’s talk about Adam, sex, and cubits.

“ADAM” or “THE MAN”?

The Hebrew word for the name of the first man, “Adam,” simply means “the man” or, in a generic sense, “human beings.” Translators need to use context when deciding how ‘adam should be translated.

This creates special challenges in the early chapters of Genesis. The first occurrence of ‘adam is in Genesis 1:26, where God says, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule…” (I’ll use CSB in this post unless otherwise stated). Here both the theological emphasis on all humanity being created in God’s image and the plural “they” make it clear that a translation such as “man” or “human beings” (CSB footnote) is necessary. “Let us make Adam” would not work.

By the time we get to Genesis 5:3, it is very clear that ‘adam references not merely “human beings” in general nor even a generic “man,” but a specific individual: “Adam was 130 years old when he fathered a son in his likeness… and named him Seth.”

But the Genesis creation narrative flows quite seamlessly from a general description of the creation of humanity in general to a more specific discussion of Adam and Eve as individuals. When should we start thinking of ‘adam as a specific man?

It is always interesting to see when translations make this transition.

The KJV first mentions “Adam” at Genesis 2:19:

And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

The ESV makes the transition one verse later, at Genesis 2:20:

The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.

The NASB and the NIV do the same as the ESV, but the NIV tips the reader off as early as  Genesis 2:4 by providing a heading that reads “Adam and Eve.”

The NLT waits until Genesis 3:20 to make the transition, translating a single Hebrew word twice to help the reader along:

Then the manAdam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live.

But the CSB waits even longer. “Adam” doesn’t appear until Genesis 4:25:

Adam was intimate with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth…

Which option is best? I give NLT top points for clarity. And it is ingenious to provide Adam’s name in the same verse where Eve is first named! But its double translation implies that two terms are present in Hebrew where there is only one.

Overall, I like the choice of the NASB, NIV, and ESV best. Including both “the man” and “Adam” in the same verse somewhat eases the transition, helping the reader know both terms refer to the same person.

And I like the CSB the least of the options shown above. When “Adam” first appears in Genesis 4:25, the man named “Adam” has not been discussed since Genesis 4:1—twenty-four verses earlier—where we read, “The man was intimate with his wife Eve…” The intervening verses have been about other characters named Cain, Abel, Lamech, and more. Advanced readers will notice that “Adam” who is “intimate with his wife” in 4:25 is “the man” who was “intimate with his wife” in 4:1.  But many beginning Bible readers (and there are increasing numbers in North America) will be left wondering who this “Adam” is that they are hearing about the first time, and why he is mentioned “again” if he has not been named before.

“KNEW,” “MADE LOVE TO,”
or “WAS INTIMATE WITH”?

But if the CSB strikes out with “Adam,” it hits a home run with its translation for the act of sexual intercourse, also mentioned in the verses above.

Translating sexual language brings many potential pitfalls. First, there are our modern preoccupations with sex, ranging from undue sexual embarrassment (especially when reading the Bible aloud in church!) to the anything-goes flaunting of sexual provocation in North American media and fashion.

The ancient biblical conceptions of sexuality also bring translation challenges. When the Old Testament talks about sexual intercourse, it often uses the word yada, often translated “know”/”knowledge.” Here is how Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology begins its discussion of this word:

Yada… appears almost 950 times in the Hebrew Bible. It has a wider sweep than our English word “know, ” including perceiving,learning, understanding, willing, performing, and experiencing. To know is not to be intellectually informed about some abstract principle, but to apprehend and experience reality.

This word yada is used of all sorts of situations, including humanity’s knowledge of God, God’s knowledge of humanity, personal skills, moral awareness, and treaty relationships.

And sex.

Formal modern language about sexual union rarely expresses this concept of knowing another person. “Sexual intercourse” and “coitus” sound too scientific. “Had sex” is too dryly factual and sounds like we are talking about consumer goods. “Consummation” and “sexual relations” come closer, but still do not emphasize knowing above other possible connotations. Informal language such as “make love with” and “go to bed with” also often misses the boat.

Given these ancient and modern challenges, what is a translator to do?

The KJV famously simply opts for “knew.” Formally, this is a perfect translation choice, retaining links to other places where yada is found. And functionally, it points the reader directly to a primary significance that the ancient Hebrews saw in the sexual act. That said, it leaves some modern readers clueless as to what Adam actually did. (Did he take Eve on a date? Exchange family histories with her? Ask her about her favorite flavor of ice cream?) Now, this has its advantages in church Bible readings, when children are present, right? But nobody today uses “knew” in this way unless they are deliberately parroting the KJV.

That is what the NKJV does, and so do others like the NRSV and the ESV. It works, but it needs some explanation from time to time.

The NASB uses “had relations with.” That’s closer to modern usage, though usually today one would specify that it is sexual relations under discussion. And again, the modern idiom “relations” does not quite emphasize the idea of knowing in a way that matches the Hebrew yada.

The NIV lets modern usage lead the way, so it says Adam “made love to” his wife. This translation mercifully lets readers know what actually happened. But it totally misses the boat with its connotation of loving another person rather than knowing them. It carries too much baggage from medieval notions of romance and modern chick flicks.

The CSB, it seems to me, gets it about as good as modern English can: “Adam was intimate with his wife.” First, this clearly conveys what actually happened between Adam and his wife. Dictionaries define this phrase as “to have sexual relations with” or have “sex” or “sexual intercourse” with someone. Second, the word “intimate” very accurately expresses the sort of experiential knowledge conveyed by the Hebrew yada. And third, the phrase is an idiom, which appears to be how the term yada functioned when used to refer to sexual activity.

Well, done, CSB!

“CUBITS” or “INCHES”?

Today while reading through Exodus in the CSB, I was surprised to read this:

They are to make an ark of acacia wood, forty-five inches long, twenty-seven inches wide, and twenty-seven inches high. (Exodus 25:10)

What surprised me was the appearance of “inches,” along with other modern units such as “feet,” “yards,” and “pounds.”

Metric units would be so much better, right? Actually, what I was expecting was “cubits,” as I grew up reading about in the KJV:

And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.

A cubit was the length from a man’s elbow to his fingertips—about 18 inches. So, when you do the conversions, the CSB lengths remain accurate.

But every other translation I’ve commonly used retains the ancient Hebrew units. This includes the NKJV, the NASB, the ESV, and—surprisingly—even the NIV. I say surprisingly because usually the NIV is seen as more quick than the CSB to prioritize modern language over the formal patterns of the original text. (We saw a hint of this above with the NIV’s “made love to” vs. the CSB’s still-modern-but-less-widely-used “was intimate with.”) Generally, if no significant meaning will be lost by using modern terminology, the NIV will use it. So why didn’t they here?

Roughly twenty of the approximately fifty English translations on www.Biblegateway.com use modern units.  I am somewhat surprised that so many do. Most recent translations opt for English units. But there are some exceptions: for example, the Lexham English Bible, International Standard Version, and even the Amplified Bible still retain Hebrew units. (None offer metric units. And the ESVUK retains biblical units in sensible British fashion.)

I don’t know what I think about this choice. I have been familiar long enough with cubits to have little trouble picturing the size of objects measured with this unit. But other ancient units (shekel, hin, etc.) still leave me searching for footnotes. So I appreciate the assistance that using modern units gives to readers.

On the other hand, an ark that is “twenty-seven inches wide” (not 24″ or 36″) sounds less natural than one that is “one and a half cubits wide.” The same is true of:

  • an altar that is “7 ½ feet” long and wide (not 8 feet) versus one that is “five cubits” long and wide (Ex. 27:1), or
  • hangings that are “22 ½ feet” long (not 20 feet or 25 feet) versus “15 cubits” long (Ex. 27:14).

It is clear that God used measurements that were ordinary sizes in the culture of ancient Israel, but using modern unit conversions doesn’t convey this.

A second potential concern is that some biblical measurements have symbolic meaning that can be lost in conversion. That said, I am not aware of any such symbolism in the measurements of the tabernacle, apart from ratios of length which are not lost in conversion. The dimensions of the Most Holy Place form a cube in feet just as well as in cubits, thus preserving the link to the cube-shaped New Jerusalem in Revelation. And in Revelation, where the units measuring the New Jerusalem do indeed have symbolic significance (being multiples of 12), the CSB does use the biblical units, excluding modern units to footnotes:

He measured the city with the rod at 12,000 stadia. Its length, width, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall, 144 cubits according to human measurement, which the angel used. (Rev. 21:16-17)

I would need to examine this further to see how well the CSB handles this balance. But what I see so far suggests that in their handling of units of measurement the CSB translators have achieved the “optimal equivalence” they aimed for between faithfulness to the original text and readability for the modern ear.


Every translation philosophy has trade-offs. I enjoy reading multiple translations to help me better ponder and understand God’s words.

Have you read from the CSB? Do you have any most- or least-favorite translation choices from the CSB? Share them in the comments below. And keep reading…


Save page

Watching You Watch the Birds [Poem by Mom]

This month I’m sharing a poem that Mom wrote about her first grandson, my nephew Curtis, when he was about 8 months old. I’ll add a few pictures and then let the poem speak for itself. I think you’ll like this one!

(See here for an introduction to this monthly series from Mom.)

If you enjoy the poem, leave a comment here for Mom, or send her an email at MomsEmailAddressImage.php.  Thanks!


PhotoofCurtis2
My nephew Curtis, watching.

 WATCHING YOU WATCH THE BIRDS
(to Curtis)

Who watched when rubies first took wing?
Who gazed attentive, open-mouthed,
As you do at flash of feather,
Swoop and swing,
Your eyes dreamy, wonder-focused,
Face as fluid as first love,
Following dip and dart of winter birds—
Robust redpolls flocking the feeder
Like ruddy-faced farmers at an auction,
Cheeky chickadees in formal attire?

Perhaps an audience of angels,
Abandoning anthem to learn a new roundelay,
Or listening to one of Heaven’s hymns
Transposed into flight of feather, oriole’s melody.

Watching you watch the birds
I see Adam waking,
That first dawning of awareness,
Those first steps taken,
A world to explore,
A Designer to worship.

I am certain that when from God’s fingers
Birds flew
He thought of you,
A small child’s delight, infant’s laughter.
He knew what He was after.
Reflected in your eyes
I see the face of the Creator watching you
Knowing that what He has made is very good.

– By Elaine Gingrich, February 2008


PS:  As I’m finishing up this post I just noticed something: By happy coincidence, today is the birthday of Curtis’s dad! Happy birthday, brother! 🙂


MoreRedpollwithrow via Compfight cc

ChickadeeCynnerz Photos via Compfight cc

OrioleAdam C. Smith Photography via Compfight cc


Save page

“In Adam’s Fall We…?” Inclusion or Imperialism in Romans 5

I’m reading through Romans right now, on target for finishing my through-the-NIV-Bible-in-a-year goal. This morning I arrived again at that head-scratching passage at the end of Romans 5. So much ink has been spilled over this passage that a few more bytes shouldn’t hurt. So here I go again, thinking aloud over this passage. (See a previous post here.) Please test my thoughts and respond below if you wish.


Here’s my initial dilemma: I’m not satisfied with the typical Reformed approach to this passage. For one thing, it often imports foreign language about a “sinful nature.” (See that previous post.) Whether the idea of a sinful nature is accurate or not, I’d rather attempt to understand this passage with the language and imagery that it actually uses.

For another, I’m not quite convinced by the interpretation that says that we sinned in Adam and that we are guilty (eternally damned) because of that act of sin. For example, here are some typical Reformed statements that leave me dissatisfied:

First, from Warren W. Wiersbe:

“For that all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12) means “all have sinned in Adam’s sin.” – Be Right (Romans), pg. 64

Romans: The Niv Application Commentary: From Biblical Text to Contemporary Life Buy on Amazon Second, from Douglas Moo. “At the risk of a gross simplification,” he summarizes the interpretive options about “the relationship between the first or original sin of Adam and the sin and death of all other people” into three categories. The first two, imitation and infection, he rejects as not fully explaining the evidence of Romans 5.1 The third, inclusion, is his preference:

The relationship between the sin of Adam and the sin of all people is closer [than merely infection]. How can Paul say in the same passage that all die because all sin (v. 12) and all die because Adam sinned (v. 18)? Because Adam’s sin is, at the same time, the sin of everyone else as well. I think Paul does infer this idea of inclusion here in Romans 5:12-21. I lean this way for three basic reasons: (a) the repeated emphasis on the determinative significance of the “one” act of the “one” man Adam (vv. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19); (b) the corporate background of Paul’s thinking as sketched above; and (c) the more natural parallel it creates between Christ and Adam. – Romans (NIV Application Commentary), pg. 190

Third, this understanding is most concisely expressed in an ABC poem from an old New England Primer:

In Adam’s fall
We sinned all.

NewEnglandPrimerAtoMThis passage is hugely complex and I don’t have time to discuss all the evidence in favor of the Reformed position. I respect Moo’s scholarship deeply and he deserves much more than the following few lines. But let me proceed by responding briefly to Moo’s three reasons for leaning toward the inclusion interpretation:

  1. I think the emphasis on the “one” act of the “one” man Adam fits just as well with the idea that Adam’s sin opened the floodgates, admitting sin into the world, so that humans subsequently were born under the “reign” of sin and death (see Rom. 5:14, 17, 21; 6:12). (We could call this view the imperialism view, to continue Moo’s tidy alliteration.) The “one man” language points to the singularity of the cause, not the precise manner of the cause.
  2. The idea of corporate solidarity is powerful. Some version of it is undeniably biblical. As Moo notes, it is expressed clearly in the story of Achan, where the Lord says, “Israel has sinned” (Josh. 7:11, emphasis added). I don’t have a ready response to this point, except to note that this Romans passage does not explicitly mention this idea.2 If it is present, it is assumed, not stated. The language of sin and death “reigning,” in contrast, is explicitly and repeatedly emphasized.
  3. The inclusion view certainly does create a natural parallel between Christ and Adam. The language of being “in Christ” permeates Paul’s thinking, and he uses similar language about being “in Adam” in 1 Corinthians 15:22: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” This verse clearly is similar to Romans 5; both speak of death coming through Adam and life coming through Christ. However, there are also differences.  Romans 6 does speak of our being “in Christ” (see Rom. 6:3, 11, 23; cf. Rom. 8:1, 39). But Romans 5 itself never uses this language.3 And nowhere in Romans does Paul use the language of being “in Adam.” (In fact, 1 Corinthians 15 is the only place where that exact language is used in all of Scripture.) Additionally, I think the imperialism view, explicit in this passage, creates an equally natural parallel between Christ and Adam: Just as Adam introduced the kingdom of sin and death into the world, so Christ introduced the kingdom of God into the world.

It is this concept of a parallel between Christ and Adam that first triggered this meandering post today. The comparison and contrast between Christ and Adam is central to Paul’s thought in this passage. But how, exactly, are the two alike? And how are they different? Paul is concerned both to compare and to contrast the two. Errors will abound if we think they are similar on a point where they are actually different, or if we think they are different on a point where they are actually similar.

Let me present another dilemma: If we deny that our experience of sin and death comes through our participation in Adam’s trespass (inclusion view), then how can we claim that our experience of righteousness and life comes through our participation in Christ’s act of righteousness ? After all, consider Romans 5:18:

Therefore, as one trespass [or perhaps “the trespass of one”] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness [or perhaps “the act of righteousness of one”] leads to justification and life for all men.

Doesn’t a denial of the inclusion view undermine our inclusion in Christ? How can we be sure of our salvation in Christ if we deny that we were damned because of our participation in Adam’s sin? (I’m sure I’ve seen this presented as an argument in favor of the Reformed inclusion view, although I can’t think at the moment where I’ve read it.) I’d like to suggest several responses.

First, it is important to note that our participation in Christ’s death and resurrection is an undisputable fact. It is taught repeatedly and abundantly throughout the New Testament. This teaching will stand undisturbed even if we do not find it taught in Romans 5.

Second, it is possible to be “in Adam” in some sense without saying that we were “in Adam” as participants in his sin. There are various ways we could be said to be “in Adam.” As I noted, the only place this language is explicitly used is in 1 Corinthians 15:22. What does Paul mean by this phrase in that chapter? Whom is he describing with this phrase? I suggest that Paul is using this phrase to refer to all human beings who have lived after Adam. Notice that the described effect of being “in Adam” is physical death: “in Adam all die.” This death is experienced by all, believer and unbeliever alike. In this sense, all alike are “in Adam,” but some are also “in Christ.” Notice also the scarcity of “sin” language in 1 Corinthians 15. The focus of the whole chapter is on physical death and its reversal in the coming resurrection, not on achieving victory from sin. Romans 5, in contrast, focuses on sin as much as on death.  But in neither passage is “in Adam” language used to describe our participation in Adam’s sin.

Third–and this has been my usual answer to my question above–perhaps Paul is not drawing comparisons between the way in which Adam and Christ affect us, but only between the extent and certainty of their effect upon us. In other words, the exact manner or “mechanism” by which Adam’s sin leads to our sin and death might be different from the manner in which Christ’s death and resurrection leads to our salvation. Reformed authors seem to get hung up on the mechanism; if we are not linked to Christ in exactly the same manner in which we were linked to Adam, then, they say, we cannot be certain of obtaining Christ’s benefits. But Paul does not assume identical mechanisms in this passage. Yes, he says both death and life come through “one man.” Yet, just as he contrasts the effects of Adam and Christ, so he also notes some differences in the mechanisms of their actions: one was a trespass, the other an act of righteousness; and one occurred as the first trespass, the other following many trespasses (5:18, 16). So Paul is emphasizing that the effect of Christ’s obedience is even greater than the effect of Adam’s sin. But I’m not sure he is saying that the effects are achieved in the same way.

In fact, a little reflection shows that we are not linked to Christ in the same way we were linked to Adam. We are linked to Christ, Paul insists, by a faith that produces a new birth. But no faith or new birth are needed to live under the effects of Adam’s sin.

Fourth–and finally I’m getting to the point that triggered my thoughts this morning–I think a mistaken, punctiliar model of salvation leads some people to assume a similar, punctiliar model of how Adam’s sin affects us. (Punctiliar means “of or relating to a point of time.“) A punctiliar model of salvation says that we are saved all at once, at one point in time. This is the stereotypical Baptist model, where a saint begins her testimony by saying, “Back on June 6, 1983, at 9:45 p.m., when I got saved…” A parallel view of Adam’s sin says that at the moment that Adam ate of the fruit, then I, too, sinned and died. Both events happen in an instant–instantaneous death, or instantaneous life.

But what if salvation is not punctiliar? Again, this is a big subject. But let’s stick to the immediate context of Romans 5. In this context, salvation is clearly not punctiliar. Paul has already shown in chapters 3 and 4 how a person can be justified. At the beginning of chapter 5 he says that “we have been justified by faith”–it is a completed act.4 But then Paul writes, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Rom. 5:9-10). Therefore, in the context of Romans 5, salvation is an ongoing and future event. This process nature of salvation is the reason why Romans 5-8 was written: to ensure believers that God intends to complete the work he has begun, and to teach them how to cooperate with God in that work, producing the fruit of righteousness that will lead to the gift of eternal life.

If salvation is not a punctiliar event in Romans 5, then what about damnation? Was that punctiliar? Or is the outworking of Adam’s sin a process, just as the outworking of Christ’s obedience is? I suggest that, just as the results of Christ’s work involve both punctiliar and ongoing elements, so do the results of Adam’s sin. The curse started unfolding immediately. Sin and death entered the world immediately and began to reign. Thorns began to grow. Adam and Eve were immediately expelled from the Garden and the sweetness of God’s presence. But thorns take time to grow. Eve didn’t experience the added pain in childbirth until at least 9 months later. And Adam didn’t die physically until he had lived 930 years. During those years, Adam had many opportunities to choose spiritual life or death. I hope to meet him in glory when Christ returns.

Similarly, the effects of Adam’s sin upon us include both immediate and unfolding elements. The reign of sin and death is felt by each of us from our earliest days–or at least as soon as we experience the trauma of birth. From before we are born we are “damned” to die physically. We are also “damned” to be born into a world where sin reigns, dominating us until–apart from God’s intervention–we will certainly sin. But, as I understand the doctrines of predestination and election, humans are not all damned to eternal death before we are ever born. Rather, those who respond to Christ’s offer are called to make a choice: Will we offer ourselves as slaves to sin, or as servants of righteousness? “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Our actions, our choice of masters, Paul indicates, effects the outcome: salvation or damnation.

So, when did we die? It depends. We were doomed from the moment of Adam’s sin to be born into a world ruled by sin and death. We began to die physically the moment we are born. We progressively died spiritually as our hearts grew harder through our childhood and youth, prior to our regeneration. We will die physically sometime soon. And, apart from Christ, all will die eternally.

Is it right to say that, because of Adam’s sin, humans are morally evil by nature? Were you evil from the moment of conception? Were you under eternal damnation from that moment? Or did the damnation come later? I am not arguing that we should look around us and conclude that the humans we see are morally good by nature. Everyone I see, if I look long enough (usually not long at all), shows signs of sin within. And these signs of moral badness begin at a very early age. But why are we bad? Is it because of something inner, a spiritual “genetic deficiency”? Or are we corrupted from without, with sin dominating us and increasingly taking up residence within us? I don’t have answers for all my questions, and I’m not satisfied with all the answers I hear.

Why does any of this matter? More specifically, what difference does it make what we believe about how Adam’s sin affects us? Let me answer by quoting Moo once again, this time at length.

First, here is his summary of the inclusive view against which I have been arguing:

While theologians who hold the inclusive view argue about just what our relationship to Adam might be, they all insist that it is a genuine relationship and that, in a way we cannot understand, we really did sin when Adam did. We do not die for a sin someone else commits; we die for a sin we committed. – Ibid., pg. 190.

Now, what difference does this make? Here is an answer from Moo:

The inclusive interpretation has potentially great importance for one of the most difficult of all theological and pastoral issues: the fate of infants and other people without the mental capacity ever to commit a sin or to respond to the gospel. While there is a lot of debate over the details, theologians who think that Adam has infected us all with sin but that we each ultimately die only when we sin personally usually teach that deceased infants go to heaven. After all, they have never committed a personal act of sin. [My understanding would be similar with the imperialism view I suggested above.]

But if one holds the inclusive view, the situation is quite different. Since all people have sinned in Adam, all people, including children of any age, have already been condemned. Does this mean that any child who is not old enough to understand and respond to the gospel is automatically lost? No. Theologians who hold the inclusive view take three different positions. Some think that God, in an act of grace, accepts into heaven all those who never had a chance to commit a sin in their own persons. Others think that the children of believing parents will be saved. Still others think that God’s election will determine the matter: Infants chosen by God for salvation from eternity past will be saved, while those [who have] not been chosen will not be.

I have personally wrestled with this emotive question especially since my niece was born with such severe handicaps that she is not expected to live long. What am I to say to her parents when she dies? What do I respond when they ask me, the “family theologian,” where their daughter will spend eternity? All that is within me wants to be able to assure them that their daughter is in heaven. But I am not yet convinced Scripture gives me the right to do so. And I don’t want to be a purveyor of “cheap comfort,” giving hope based on my emotions rather than on Scripture.

I do not yet have an answer I am comfortable with. But two things I can say. (a) God is just and loving; we can leave such questions in his hands. (b) Whatever position we take will be decisively influenced by our theology of sin and salvation. This, after all, is the ultimate purpose of theology. We put together what God says on issues to come to a conclusion about truths that we can use to comfort, rebuke, and exhort ourselves and others. All theology is finally pastoral theology. – Ibid., pgs. 190-91.

I can say “Amen” to much of what Moo wrote here. I certainly agree that our theological conclusions on such matters must be guided by Scripture and not merely based on our own emotions. And I certainly agree that we can ultimately rest such things in the just and loving hands of God. But I also agree, with Moo, that such questions are worth wrestling with. The answers we find will enable us to comfort and instruct each other better in real-life situations.

And so… I want to ponder this more. I have more thoughts, but this post is long enough. For now, I’m suggesting that Romans 5 portrays an imperialism model of the influence of Adam’s sin more than any of the other common models: imitation, infection, or inclusion.

What do you think? I invite you to respond below.


  1. Imitation says Adam set a bad example. This, Moo says, was Pelagius’s view. Infection is basically the sinful nature view. “Adam’s sin introduced a stain… on human nature that inevitably leads people to turn away from God.” Moo says this is a “basic truth” taught throughout Scripture, but “it is not explicitly taught in Romans 5:12-21.” (Romans, NIV Application Commentary, pg. 189)
  2. Notice that Moo excludes the infection view for this same reason. See footnote 1.
  3. The most similar language it uses is “through Christ”; see 5:1, 2, 11, 17, 21. But this portrays a different relationship than “in Christ.”
  4. In other biblical contexts justification is described as something that is yet to be completed. But that is another topic!

Save page