The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Romans 5:12-21 is one of the most fundamental passages in the New Testament about the idea of sin and salvation. Here Paul makes a logical argument that sin was transmitted to all humans through Adam, the first man, who sinned. After his sin, all humanity was infected. In fact, Paul asserts, all humanity was dead. After all, God had said that when the people ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would surely die.
Death passes to all people. Not only to they have the marks of Adam’s sin, but they go on to sin on their own as well. As we reflect who we are and what we have learned, we are rightly condemned.
Paul makes an odd comparison in verse 15. He says that God’s gift is exactly NOT like Adam’s sin. It’s an odd way of phrasing it. What he accomplishes is to show that God’s grace has an effect completely opposite to sin. How is this? Jesus, the second Adam, lives a sinless life which can be transmitted to all humans.
This idea raises a couple of good questions. First, how can one person’s sin or one person’s righteousness be transmitted to others? In the first case, it is by nature. We resemble our parents. In the second case, it is by the virtue of the righteous one. At this point we do have to make a conscious decision to let God and His Word be just that. If this world is created and sustained by God, he can make the rules for how this works. We don’t have to understand them or be able to explain how it works. We can rest on the affirmation that it does work.
A second good question here is how Jesus’ righteousness is delivered to people. If Jesus died for all, doesn’t that mean that everyone is just fine? The Scripture speaks of grace being received by faith in Jesus. What of those who do not believe in Jesus? He still died for those people, but his death is not appropriated by them.
Jesus, the second Adam, has lifted the curse of sin. Our role? To accept and live with the fact that he has done so.
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