Meaning of Romans 5:14


#1

“But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.”

How should this verse be understood?


#2

Hi, J!

I do not know if it is the language of origin or if the Revelation is meant to cause us to pause…

…either way we must engage:

  • It is not that death reigned from Adam to Moses as that after Moses it no longer reigned

  • It is not that the pattern of trespass of Adam existed only till Moses

Rather, it is that what we came to know as “Original Sin” (Adam’s pattern–inherited death due to Adam’s disobedience) as well as the wages for personal sin (death) reigned till Yahweh God Gave the Law to Moses.

Once the Law was Given people had the means to side-step the wages of sin.

But we know, also from Revelation, that the Law (and the Prophets) were only mirror measures of Jesus’ Sacrificial Offering; the only Offering that would eradicate sin; hence defeat Death.

Maran atha!

Angel


#3

Agreed, couldn’t have said it any better.


#4

Haydock Commentary

13 For until the law, sin was in the world: but sin was not imputed, when the law was not.
14 But death reigned from Adam unto Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of the transgression of Adam, who is a figure of him that was to come.

Ver. 13-14. Until the law, sin was in the world.That is, from Adam’s fall, both original sin and actual sins truly infected all mankind. (Witham)

— Not imputed. That is, men knew not, or made no account of sin; neither was it imputed to them, in the manner it was afterwards, when they transgressed the known written law of God. (Challoner)

— All were conceived and born in sin, in what we call original sin, and liable to death, even infants, who were not come to the use of reason, and consequently could not sin after the similitude of the transgression of Adam, or by imitating his sin, but were born in sin: and besides this, all manner of actual sins, which men committed by their own perverse will, reigned every where in the world. But before the law these sins were not imputed, that is, were not declared sins, that deserved such punishments as were ordained by the law.

— Adam, who is a figure of him that was to come. That is, of Christ, whom the apostle calls the last Adam, 1 Corinthians xv. 45. But he was a figure by contraries. By the first Adam, sin and death entered into the world; by Christ, justice and life. (Witham)


#5

, but were born in sin: and besides this, all manner of actual sins, which men committed by their own perverse will, reigned every where in the world. But before the law these sins were not imputed, that is, were not declared sins, that deserved such punishments as were ordained by the law.

— Adam, who is a figure of him that was to come. That is, of Christ, whom the apostle calls the last Adam, 1 Corinthians xv. 45. But he was a figure by contraries. By the first Adam, sin and death entered into the world; by Christ, justice and life. (Witham)

So, those who did not sin, were specifically infants or those who were not at the age of reason. Even though born with Original Sin, they could not commit actual sin.


#6

Yes. But is does present some questions. Note from the Catechism that Christ descended into hell to free the just:

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.480 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”:481 "It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell."482 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.483

And that some are not culpable for their errors of judgment in moral conduct.

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.


#7

From the Rev. George Leo Haydock Commentary:

“Ver. 13-14. Until the law, sin was in the world. That is, from Adam’s fall, both original sin and actual sins truly infected all mankind. (Witham) — Not imputed. That is, men knew not, or made no account of sin; neither was it imputed to them, in the manner it was afterwards, when they transgressed the known written law of God. (Challoner) — All were conceived and born in sin, in what we call original sin, and liable to death, even infants, who were not come to the use of reason, and consequently could not sin after the similitude of the transgression of Adam, or by imitating his sin, but were born in sin: and besides this, all manner of actual sins, which men committed by their own perverse will, reigned every where in the world. But before the law these sins were not imputed, that is, were not declared sins, that deserved such punishments as were ordained by the law. — Adam, who is a figure of him that was to come. That is, of Christ, whom the apostle calls the last Adam, 1 Corinthians xv. 45. But he was a figure by contraries. By the first Adam, sin and death entered into the world; by Christ, justice and life. (Witham)”


#8

Hi, J!

…not so much that they could not commit actual sin but that their actions were not held against them as disobedience against God’s Laws (Commandments) because they were not aware that they were transgressing against God’s Laws.

Once the Law was Given they were held responsible to the Law.

Maran atha!

Angel


#9

The trespass of Adam was the breaking of a direct commandment from God, namely, to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Likewise, the law of Moses and the ten commandments was given to Moses for the Israelites by God through divine revelation. The progeny of Adam and Eve from Adam to Moses were not under either the commandment God gave to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden or the Law and the ten commandments God directly revealed to Moses as Moses did not exist yet. Before the revelation of the divine law and the ten commandments God gave to Moses, the people were under the law of nature or the natural law in which are imbedded as it were the ten commandments also. So the people sinned in this era against the natural law but not against a commandment/s that was divinely and directly revealed by God as that given to Adam and to the Israelites through Moses.


#10

Please read the context Romans 5: 1-21

In addition.
Please read 1 Corinthians 15: 20-22
Please read 1 Corinthians 15: 54-55
Please read John 3: 16-17


#11

ON the contrary, God’s laws have always been written in man’s hearts. It is called the Natural Law and God does hold men accountable to it.

Romans 2:15New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them


#12

Well, let’s look at the previous verse:

Romans 5:
** 13 for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. **

I contrast that to what St. Paul said in another place:

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

So, he isn’t saying that God doesn’t reckon sin. We know that God does, and has always, because we see how He has previously punished the world for sin (i.e. Before the Law, the Fall, the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Passover of death and Pharaoh’s army drowning in the Red Sea are examples of God punishing for sin).

But he is saying that man claimed not recognize sin, before the Law.

Remember also, that he said, in still another place:

Romans 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

Thus, all men are born with a “conscience” which is the Natural Law, written in their hearts, guiding them to seek to do good and flee evil.

**14 But death reigned from Adam to Moses, **

That doesn’t mean that death ceased to exercise dominion from Moses to Jesus. He is merely contrasting the time before inception of the Law to the time after. He is saying, "even though they did not have a law to tell them what was sinful, they still paid the penalty for sin, which is death.

even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, ,

This is written in typical Hebrew redundancy. They did not sin, according to the pattern of sin set by Adam.

In other words, there were some people in the time from Adam to Moses, who did not commit sin. We know this is true because during that time, infants died in the womb and out of the womb, people with mental incapacities also existed then. None of these could commit sin.

who is a type of the one who was to come.

How is Adam and type of Christ? It would take an entire book to answer that question. Here’s a good website with the answer:

catholicbible101.com/christ-the-new-adam


#13

This particular verse was the most troubling to me I guess, about those who did not sin after the trespass of Adam. It just seems odd to me that Paul specifically had to point out that there were exceptions to being able to sin, even though he didn’t list them like you did above. Wouldn’t it be obvious that infants in the womb, very young children, etc., were incapable of actual sin?


#14

Based on reading the Angelic Doctor’s commentary on Romans, I will reiterate what he said in what is proper to a ‘computer box’.

In Romans 5, Saint Paul indicates “the benefits we obtained through Christ’s grace” in verse 12 he indicates “the evils from which we were set free”. This indication in verse 12 traced (ostendit) “the origin of sin and death and their entry into the world”. Verse 14 involves a clarification of what the Apostle traced.

Now in particular which is the meat of your apparent desired end, and my relating to your question, the Angelic Doctor wrote, “even over them who have not sinned, after the similitude of the transgression of Adam, i.e., even over children who committed no actual sin, because even they suffered bodily death before and after the law: ‘what man can live and never see death? (Ps 89:48)’”

To conclude, it presents the utter disaster of sin, and to the other end, it is brought to light by the truth that God is utterly to be praised for his perfect remedy.


#15

Even today, there are people who believe that “we were created in sin”. In the Protestant world, ts called “total depravity”.

.


#16

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.