In the Youngs Literal Translation, Romans 5:12 reads

Romans 5:12 because of this, even as through one man the sin did enter into the world, and through the sin the death; and thus to all men the death did pass through, for that all did sin;

Both sin and death are translated as nouns with the definite article "the" twice and at the end of the verse, sin is translated as a verb (did sin).

Translated this way it seems Paul is speaking about a sin that leads to the act of sinning. In other words, a root that causes the manifestation of sinful activity.

Sin (along with other nouns like grace, righteousness, etc.) is translated almost exclusively with the definite article further on in Romans 6.

Romans 6:1-2 What, then, shall we say? shall we continue in the sin that the grace may abound? let it not be! we who died to the sin — how shall we still live in it?

Romans 6:6-7 this knowing, that our old man was crucified with [him], that the body of the sin may be made useless, for our no longer serving the sin; for he who hath died hath been set free from the sin.

In verse 12-14, there is again a distinction between the noun sin and the verb sin

Romans 6:12-14 Let not then the sin reign in your mortal body, to obey it in its desires; 13neither present ye your members instruments of unrighteousness to the sin, but present yourselves to God as living out of the dead, and your members instruments of righteousness to God; 14for sin over you shall not have lordship, for ye are not under law, but under grace.

I do not know Greek and the YLT is the only translation that I can find that translates like this. Are these verses distinguishing between a particular sin and other outward sins?

  • The definite article doesn't function the same way in Greek as it does in English. For example, in Greek many personal names are preceded by the definite article: 'the Jesus', 'the Peter', 'the Paul'. YLT often translates things regardless of whether it makes any grammatical sense in English; this is likely one of those cases. Hopefully someone can come along and give a proper answer elaborating this for you.
    – user2910
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 16:44
  • Thank you Mark for your thoughts. It seems that the YLT makes a distinction between "the sin" and "sin" in these passages because they translate it sometimes with the definite article and then in a general sense. I feel that the passage makes more sense with the definite article in place. If "the sin" is the sin of ruling our own lives and not being under the Lordship of Jesus, then the passage makes more sense. But no other translation translates it this way, which makes me wonder if that distinction is truly there in the original Greek.
    – Gabe
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 22:57
  • @Gabe If you have received an answer, please mark it with an upvote and a checkmark. If not, please indicate what still escapes you.
    – user10231
    Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 22:55

4 Answers 4



I'm not a linguist, but I will attempt to clear up the issue of the articles used.

There are 5 Main Cases which the Koine Greek uses to define articles: Nominative, Genitive, Dative, Accusative, and Vocative. They are also Singular and Plural, and unlike English, are also Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter. Unfortunately, the YLT can only state the article, not define it's case, much less it's gender, so instead of "reading the passage in context" and determining it's intent which the KJV and other versions require their readers to do, you have a version which gives you an "article" which is stated, but cannot communicate what it's particular usage is, unless you go back and read the passage "in context".

The Difference between the usage of "sin" as a noun, and "sin" as a verb is pretty clear in English; so I will attempt to clarify the usage of the articles that precede the nouns. In Rom. 5:12, ἡ ἁμαρτία(the sin), and τῆς ἁμαρτίας(the sin), look the same in English, but they use 2 different cases; the ἡ ἁμαρτία uses the Nominative Case, and the τῆς ἁμαρτίας uses the Genitive Case. They are both Feminine Singular, yet whereas the 1st instance is Nominative(naming), the second case is Genitive, which is limiting and relational. So it could be said,"the Sin"(Adam and Eve's fall from grace), being 1st introduced to us, followed by "that very same Sin which caused all men to die". The 1st instance names it, the 2nd instance attributes the consequences of it. The Genitive functions similarly as an adjective, whereas the Nominative is basically an article.


Paul is making a theological argument to the Romans, and in order to do that he is highlighting "sin" as an expression of our fallen nature, rather than a specific act of transgression. Therefore, the "sin" committed by Adam and Eve at the Fall is the essence of our rebellious nature, of which only Christ and the Atonement can set us free. Rom. 5:8-10(KJV),

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Furthermore, regardless of any particular sin we have committed, the judgment for the Original Sin was Death, and all men lived under it's curse.(vs 17)

Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Paul also refers to this as the "old man", or "the flesh",(Rom. 6:6)

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

The "Old Man", or "The Flesh", or "The Carnal Nature" is the desire to continue to walk in rebellion against God-consistant with the Fall. This is the same as the Genitive "The Sin" we see in Greek; it describes the nature that deserves death. The remedy of course is the New Life, Rom. 6:4,

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Paul is saying that by "walking in the New Life", and not obeying the "Carnal Nature", we can walk in continual freedom from "The Sin" nature.


Your statement "...the sin that leads to the act of sinning" is another way of describing 'The Carnal Nature', or "The Sin" in the Genitive Case. It's not the specific act of sinning, but describes root cause by which all sin is committed. The "New Life" is the remedy; both positionally, by taking the place of the sinner through the Atonement, and relationally, by providing grace to walk in obedience to God.

Note: All scriptures are KJV unless otherwise stated

  • You may not be a linguist but you did a fantastic job answering my question. Thank you!
    – Gabe
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 2:07
  • @Gabe Thank you! I hope more gifted liguists chime in.
    – Tau
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 2:13
  • I remember the bold formatting from the quotes because it isn't necessary - but if you want to highly a word or a phrase please do make them bold!
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 15:37
  • 1
    @curiousdannii I make the Scriptures Bold because I want them to stand out as my Primary Source, and not to be confused w/ Secondary or Tertiary Sources, which I Italicize. So if you would please reverse your edit of my Scriptures from regular text to Bold, I would appreciate it. Rule of Thumb(for me)= Regular Text/My Expositions or Conclusions, Italicized=Secondary(and other) Sources, Bold Text=Primary Source(Scripture) or words contained in Primary Sources. This enhances readability, and also proof-readability, since what I quote demands a greater degree of accuracy than what I aver.
    – Tau
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 23:20

The reason Paul uses the definite article is to personify/anthropomorphize sin. To make this clear I exaggerate that in translation by using the term: "Mr. Sin":

because of this, just as through a single man (Adam) Mr. Sin entered into the world, also through Mr. Sin Mr. Death [entered]; and thus to all men the death did pass through, for that all did sin;

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Διὰ τοῦτο ὥσπερ δι' ἑνὸς ἀνθρώπου ἡ ἁμαρτία εἰς τὸν κόσμον εἰσῆλθεν καὶ διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ θάνατος, καὶ οὕτως εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὁ θάνατος διῆλθεν ἐφ' ᾧ πάντες ἥμαρτον .

So Mr. Clay (Adam) allowed Mr. Sin to enter and Mr. Sin introduced Mr. Death. Paul was not the first to anthropomorphize sin:

[Gen 4:7 NASB] (7) "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin [IE: Mr. Sin] is crouching at the door; and its [IE: "his"] desire is for you, but you must master it [IE: "him"]."

In the second part of the passage, Mr. Death, having entered the world, passes through the world into all men, because all men sinned.

Paul extends the metaphor by describing Mr. Sin as “ruling” over men:

NET Bible For if, by the transgression of the one man, [Mr.] death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ!

Paul picks up the metaphor in chapter 6, where Mr. Sin is a cunning, opportunistic slave-master:

NIV Romans 6:14 For [Mr.] sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Paul also personifies righteousness as a “boss” though not as a slave driver:

NIV 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; [Mr.] death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let [Mr.] sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to [Mr.] sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For [Mr.] sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace

Mr. Sin does not remunerate his slaves for their labor with any reward other than death, but God gives his servants everlasting life, for free:

21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin [IE: the wages paid by Mr. Sin] is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Instead of the Torah freeing the Jews from Mr. Sin, Mr. Sin uses the commands of the Torah whip his slaves in line:

NIV Romans 7: 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to [Mr.] sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to [Mr.] sin, you have come to obey from your heart the p7What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”b 8But [Mr.] sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, [Mr.] sin sprang to life and I died. 10I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11For [Mr.] sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that [Mr.] sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment [Mr.] sin might become utterly sinful. 14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to [Mr.] sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is [Mr.] sin living in me. 18For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. [“sinful nature” is a bogus translation of “flesh”] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is [Mr.] sin living in me that does it.


In view of what the apostle has stated about Sin, law and grace in Romans 5, he raises the question: “What shall we say then? “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” (6:1). The question is raised in response to Paul’s closing words in 5:20-21 (Schreiner:1998: 298; Meyer:1983:228; Osborn:2004:148; Dunn:1988:305), and perhaps especially his assertion in 5:20b that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Moo:1996: 355; Cranfield:1987:296; Weiss:1986:90). Though it seems that the apostle is referring here to the multiplication in the number of sins (Congdon:2013:49; Morris:1988: 244), others believe that the point is more in line with the seriousness of sin in the sense that the law showed people that moral sin transgresses the laws of God (e.g., Osborn:2004: 146). The Law increased the trespass by providing opportunities for violating a variety of specific commandments (Bruce:1985: 126), thus causing people to sin more.

If sin is what prompts God’s outpouring of grace, then does it not follow that the more we keep sinning the more grace will abound (Witheringon III, 156)? But is this the question that the apostle is raising in order to avoid possible misinterpretation? The verb epimenomen, translated “continue” (6:1) means “to remain” or “to abide” (Morris:1988: 245; Weiss:1986:91). Dunn observes that the verb can have the sense of “sinful action,” but it can also have the force of “remain in the sphere of,” as in 11:22, and in the immediate context it is most likely equivalent to “remain under the lordship of Sin,” cf. 5:21; 6:14 (Dunn:1988: 306), or of Sin reigning as king (Weiss:1986:91).

Literally, the apostle’s question is: “Should we remain (or continue) in the sin that the grace may increase?” Shedd (1980:146) comments that the article denotes Sin as a state and condition, the Sin that came into the world by the one man (cf. Lenski:1960:388). Grant R. Osborn (2004:149) notes that the singular sin in the Greek stresses that they remain under the power of Sin, which emphasizes more than multiplying the number of sins (Osborn:2004:149). That Sin is a power is clear from the context and the way it is described. Sin enters the world through Adam and exercises its influence over all humanity (Romans 5:12-19). Sin “reigns” (ἐβασίλευσεν, ebasileusen) in death (5:21). Those outside Christ are “slaves” to Sin (δουλεύειν, douleuein, to serve, 6:6), but believers have been liberated from the Sin that enslaved them and they are now enslaved to Righteousness (6:16-18, 20, 22). Sin, therefore, no longer “rules” (κυριεύσει, kyrieusei, v.14) over them. Therefore, believers must not permit Sin to “reign” (βασιλευέτω, basileueto) over them any more (6:12).

Shall we continue to sustain the same relationship to Sin that we had before we were saved so that (purpose clause, Lenski:1960: 388) grace may abound? Is it morally acceptable (Wallace:1996:467)? Osborn (2004:150) here observes that Sin is no longer an internal force controlling the believer. Rather, Christ is the internal power in a Christian’s life, and Sin is now an external force trying to defeat the believer. The Christian belongs to the realm of grace and no longer lives in the realm of Sin.



There is a difference between “the sin” and “sin”.

“The sin” being referenced in Romans is “the sin” from Adam (the transgression of Adam) as indicated in Romans 5:12.

Romans 5:14 shows us that there is a difference between “the sin” and “sin” in general. There were men who sinned but did not sin the same way Adam did (who sinned in “the sin”) but the death still entered into the world and reigned over them nonetheless.

Romans 5:14 Young's Literal Translation but the death did reign from Adam till Moses, even upon those not having sinned in the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is a type of him who is coming.

“The sin” did enter the world through one man (Adam) and so did “the death” through “the sin”. The death passed through “the sin” of Adam to all men for all did sin (even over those who did not do “the sin” of Adam).

Young's Literal Translation Romans 5:12 because of this, even as through one man the sin did enter into the world, and through the sin the death; and thus to all men the death did pass through, for that all did sin;

Sin (without the definite article “the”) was already in the world before law was given. Sin (without “the”) is not reckoned when there is no law.

“THE sin” was not in the world yet until law was given but “sin” was in the world already.

But which law is being spoken about here in Romans 5:13? I used to assume that it was the Law of Moses being spoken about but let us reconsider that thought.

Young's Literal Translation Romans 5:13 for till law sin was in the world: and sin is not reckoned when there is not law;

Sin was already in the world but the sin and the death were not (as sin was not imputed without law) until the law of THE sin and THE death first entered into the world here in the commandment given from God to Adam.

The law of “the sin” (But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it) and “the death” (for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die) entered in and so all men are dead through the transgression of one man…. Adam.

Genesis 2:16-17 KJV (16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

It is my belief that Adam was the first man to KNOW God….to have a relationship with Him through the Holy Spirit (the breath of lives plural in Hebrew) that was breathed into him which separated him from other earthly men who did not have the Spirit (the “adamah”).

Adam was taken and formed from among earthly man (the “adamah”) at the time and was the first earthly man given the Spirit of God. (Jesus is different because He is the “second man from Heaven” and was not taken out from among the common, earthly men….the adamah). Yet, Jesus the man from Heaven was made in the likeness of earthly men.

Adam’s mission was to preach through that breathed-in Spirit (the Spirit of lives…plural) the knowledge of God to the world who did not know God at the time.

The law of “the sin” and the death was given to the first man who had the Spirit of God within him and whose primary job was to preach to this world about God with the Spirit of lives. This why Jesus is called the “last Adam” because He was sent into this world from Heaven to speak the heavenly words of God to all men through the Spirit which was given to Him without measure.

The first Adam was given the "great Commission" so to speak to go out and preach to the world with the Spirit of lives but that commission was derailed by "the sin".

Adam was not the first man upon earth as there must have been others before him. Sin (without the definite article) was already in the world before the giving of the command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and sin was not imputed to anyone until then.

Now the “Law” spoken about in Romans 5:20 is the Law of Moses that came into the world later so that the “the sin” from the beginning did abound and grace would over abound in the coming of Jesus Christ (the last Adam).

Young's Literal Translation Romans 5:20 And law came in, that the offence might abound, and where the sin did abound, the grace did overabound,

So what is “the sin”? Let us analyze this in Genesis 3:

Genesis 3:1-6 KJV (1) Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Notice: The woman adds a commandment (“neither shall you touch it”) to God’s commandment and then presents it as though God had commanded it when that was not in His original commandment (the law of the sin and the death).

(2) And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: (3) But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Breaking down “the lie” of the serpent:

You shall not die” - should be translated as “dying, you shall not die” or rather by “killing, you shall not die”. This is about “killing” another by speaking evil of another in judgment over a carnal commandment ( for example: “neither shall you touch it”). There is no “peace and safety” to judge others …being judge, jury and executioner of others (calling them “evil doers”) because they do not follow one’s particular carnal commandment. The wages of “the sin” is death.

(4) And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

For God does know in the day you eat thereof…” speaks of doing judgment/speaking evil of another supposedly in God’s authority. Did we not cast out devils in Your Name (authority)? (see Matthew 7:22). We must not judge others as “evil doers”...casting out others as “devils”... using the teachings and commandments of men as a basis (or any basis for that matter). None of these things are really done in His authority for He did not command it. “I never knew you”.

Your eyes shall be opened” speaks of being seen as “wise”. People want to be seen as the “wise” one and so speak evil of others in their judgment of them in order for them to look wise. But professing themselves as “wise”, they become fools. The woman coveted the tree in her desire to be seen as “wise” (to make one wise). This is seeking after one’s own “vain glory”.

You shall be as ‘gods’”…. that is, as JUDGES (Elohim = judges, gods). A “judge” knows what or who is “good and evil” supposedly based on laws. Those who love and practice “the lie” think that they are doing this thing (being a “judge” knowing who is “good and evil”) supposedly for God…in His Name or authority.

*(5) **For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.***

The woman coveted after the tree and took the fruit thereof and did eat.

(6) And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Death and life are in the power (hand) of the tongue and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Proverbs 18:20-21 KJV (20) A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. (21) Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Using our tongues to speak evil of others in judgment (supposedly for God) brings forth death. Men use the same tongue to bless God and also to curse other men. Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing which should not be. There is no peace and safety in this. Either make the tree good and its fruit good or the tree bad. It can’t be both ways.

James 3:8-12 KJV (8) But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (9) Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. (10) Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (11) Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (12) Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

When one speaks evil of another based on a commandment of man (for example: “neither shall you touch it”), he sees himself as a “judge” (knowing who is “good and evil”) for God and yet is not doing the commandment of God to have love for one another.

James 4:11-12 KJV (11) Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

There is only One Lawgiver (who did not say “neither shall you touch it” as the woman added) who is able to save and to destroy. There is only One Judge….One God.

Yet, many continually judge others (being judges/gods, jury and executioner) as “evil doers” because they do not follow their particular carnal commandment of men. They think that they do these things as judges for God.

(12) There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

People lay aside/reject the commandment of God (to have love for one another ) in order to hold the transmission of men…their teachings and commandments which they use to judge others.

Mark 7:7-9 KJV (7) Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (8) For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. (9) And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Through the continuous practice of “the sin” (using the mouth supposedly in God’s authority to speak evil of/judge their brothers using the commandments of men as a basis for in order to be seen as “wise”), many sin other sins as they provoke one another with their judgments and commandments. There is envy, strife, wrath, hatred of one another, etc among those who love and practice “the lie”.

“The sin” is a root cause for many other sins among His people. They believe “the lie” of the serpent from the beginning. "The sin" begets all unrighteousness in them who take pleasure in it as they seek after their own "vain glory" to be seen as the "wise" one for God supposedly.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 KJV (10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (11) And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: (12) That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

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