Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Sometimes we humans fret endlessly about how to understand a passage of the Bible when attention to the actual original text would clear up our disputes. Robert Young, author of the famous "Concordance," also gave us a good "Literal Translation of the Bible." One of the Bible passages that unfortunately splits almost any church or classroom is Romans 5:15-20. The "Literal" version is hard for us to read because it is so stiffly accurate, but it is accurate. Let's see if it may help us now.
The original language often uses the article "the" where we don't use it in English. When Paul speaks of "the death," or "the grace," or "the gift," he means universal death, universal grace, or a universal gift--as distinguished from personal, individual death, grace, gift, etc. (In English we could capitalize each word to make it clear.) Thus:
"15. But, not as the offence so also is the free [universal] gift; for if by the offence of the one [Adam, the first head of the human race] the many did die [the universal 'many' is everybody], much more did the [universal] grace of God, and the [universal] free gift in grace of the one man Jesus Christ, abound to the many [all men];
"16. And not as through one who did sin is the [universal] free gift, for the [universal] judgment indeed is of one to condemnation, but the [universal] gift is of many offences to a declaration of 'Righteous,'
"17. For if by the offence of the one [the father of the human race] the [universal] death did reign through the one [Adam], much more those, who the abundance of the [universal] grace and of the [universal] free gift of the [Christ's] righteousness are RECEIVING, [they] in life shall reign through the One [the universal Savior]--Jesus Christ.
"18. So, then, as through one offence to all men it is to condemnation, so also through one declaration of 'Righteous' it is to all men to justification of life;
"19. For as through the disobedience of the one man [the universal head of our race, Adam] the many [all men] were CONSTITUTED sinners [not MADE sinners]: so also through the obedience of the One [Christ, the new Head of the human race], shall the many [all men] be CONSTITUTED [not MADE] righteous.
"20. … where the [universal] sin did abound, the [universal] grace did overabound."
Thank you, Robert Young.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 21, 2005.
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