Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
In Romans 5 the apostle Paul draws a distinction between the one and the many. This was a typical distinction hotly debated within Greek philosophy even up to Aristotle’s time. What’s significant about the debate is exactly what a philosopher or logician would mean when referring to “many.” It is used as the opposite of either “one” or of “none.” At its core, the debates had been about whether there was one substance in the world or if there were many substances. “Many,” therefore, meant “all.”
When Paul makes his argument of sin and forgiveness, here’s what he is saying. Adam, the first Adam, died. In his death, all people died. Sin’s curse is upon all humans in every age. Jesus, the second Adam, lives. In his life, all people have access to life. Jesus’ forgiveness is for all humans in every age.
Why aren’t all saved? Christians confess that it is only as we believe Jesus that his life is appropriated for us. It doesn’t mean that his death was not sufficient for all the sins of the world. It means that his death is not applied to those who think they can work out their own salvation. Why are any saved? Jesus, the last Adam, has killed death. He has reversed what Adam did by sinning and bringing death upon the entire human race.
The question is not meant to apply to some theoretical other person. Paul’s argument is is meant to be applied to his readers, to the Christians in Rome, and, by extension, to the many who read this letter. The question, then, remains. Do we take the Scripture at its word which says Jesus died so all who believe could receive life? What hinders us from that belief? He is the sufficient savior.
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