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(NIV) Romans 5:12

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

(NIV) 1 Timothy 2:14

14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

In the book of Romans sin entered through one man,but according to 1 Timothy it was the woman who was deceived & fell into sin,

How can we reconcile this supposed contradiction?

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The command concerning the tree was spoken directly to the man:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) [ESV throughout]

This was done before the woman was created (Genesis 2:18-23).

The woman's understanding of the command is different from what was spoken:

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” (Genesis 3:2-3)

Similar to what will happen when the Law is given to Moses, the command the woman receives has been embellished. On the surface the prohibition makes the command stricter.

However, in order to eat the fruit, it must be picked and when the woman touched the fruit, nothing happened giving the appearance the serpent was right. When she ate, she violated the command. She was deceived by the embellished command and became a transgressor when she ate:

...but the woman was deceived (ἐξαπατηθεῖσα) and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:14)

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived (ἐξηπάτησεν) Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)

The deception was in the embellished command. The transgression was eating.

On the other hand, the first man on the other hand, knew what the command entailed and so by the man's actions, sin entered.

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The NIV's rendering of 1 Timothy 2:14 is inaccurate. The verse does not say that the woman was deceived and became a sinner (ἁμαρτωλός), but rather that she was in transgression (παράβασις).

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  • Yes. 'Having been deceived, transgressed (I would call it aside-stepped), parabasis.' [Translation of TR from EGNT.] – Nigel J Nov 15 '17 at 1:03
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We could draw yet more seeming contradictions in Jewish thought along the same lines, for example:

Ecclesiasticus 25:24 (DRB—25:33)

From the woman came the beginning of sin, and by her we all die


Wisdom 2:24 (DRB) (proto-/quasi-New Testament theology, less classically Jewish, more Hellenistic)

But by the envy of the devil, death came into the world

Yet one would need to take each in the same sense in order to see contradiction—contrary to the respective contexts, which me must respect.

Romans 5 is in the context of drawing parallels between Christ and Adam. For this reason, since Christ is obviously taking away sin, we automatically think of Adam, his type, as bringing sin originally (i.e. without reference to Eve).

1 Timothy 2 It may seem sexist—those who are sensitive to what the world now considers 'sexism' (men and women not being the same in every way, which they never have and never will be), the Bible is not your book—but St. Paul seems to be indicating that women are more prone to deception than men in his argumentation in this chapter, citing it, in fact, as a reason they ought not, preferably, to teach or have authority over other men. This is not imossible, since we know that in general women are more emotional than men on the whole—exceptions, by definition, notwithstanding. This doesn't mean women are not as dignified as man, only that certain things men do are not optimal for women; the most important work on the planet is saving souls, and we can't take any risks, even if it offends certain people. I don't think this can be contested seriously. However, St. Paul's citation of Genesis as to the woman being decieved seems more analogical/anecdotal than rigidly doctrinal—'women are always decieved.' Only that if they are more prone to deception, then in the realm of doctrine and being carried away by false ones, this risk cannot be taken; again, even at risk of offending them, which is a lesser evil. I believe this is St. Paul's argument, purely based on the text.

In Ecclesiasticus 25 it is a simple statement: a woman is at least an (if not the) efficient cause of sin. Which is true. It doesn't say she was the only one. One can cause something while not being directly responsible for it: e.g. giving bad example to someone who later does some serious sin.

In Wisdom 24, the devil's role is addressed, while again not said to be the only source of death; it is his role in it that is seen as pertinent in the context.

Who can deny that it's true that all three are in their own respective senses the 'cause' of sin and death? Yet these are not equal in the eyes of Scripture. Only Adam is seen in Scripture as utlimately responsible for the original sin—for reasons that may be debated.


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Take the analogy of Mary and Jesus (who were, incidentally, compared by the Fathers to Adam and Eve): Mary 'caused' Jesus' public minstry, by asking asking Him to help out the wedding hosts with their need (lack of wine). Even though "it [was] not [His] time." Jn 2:4. (He was reluctant). Just as Adam would have been reluctant to eat the fruit, to the eating of which he knew a curse was attached (as St. Paul notes, he wasn't 'decieved' and knew full well what he was doing, hence the full guilt and reality of the transgression). Jn 2:1-3. But Jesus caused His public ministry ultimately, and is the One responsible for doing so. Jn 2:5-7. She wasn't directly responsible for the wedding guests' fill of wine—but was indubitably indirectly responsible. As is the directness, so the responsibility: Mary couldn't take credit for the wine; yet at the same time, one could rightfully thank her for that wine, because through her it came: even as through her the Messiah came into the world (hence her being blessed by anyone who talks of her in Scripture).

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These are different contexts: the Romans 5:12 is a general, universal, ontological context, in which Adam stands both for the concrete man and for the representative of the entire human nature (with no sexual distinction) that was infected through his sin for all generations that came after him; the same ontological significance is put in understanding of Christ as Second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) who healed the fallen humanity in entirety, with no distinction of male and female (Gal.3:28). Thus, when speaking of "Adam" in this universal, ontological sense, there is no need to mention also Eve, for this "Adam" includes her as well, for the very broadness and generality, and the very ontological dimension of the term "Adam" as expressing the entire human nature, makes a mention of sexual difference absolutely redundant, for sexual difference does not even in a tiny bit affect the absolute unity of the nature of male and female, expressed here by one word "Adam".

On the contrary, in 1 Timothy 2:14 the context is more limited, almost cultural-ethnographic, for Paul wants simply to maintain order and subordination in church and deter women from being noisy or desirous to outshine each-other by their clothes or jewelry rather than by inner dignity, godliness and good deeds (1 Tim. 10), so he uses as an additional argument in a proleptic manner that women are weaker than men (as Peter also calls women "weaker vessels" /1 Peter 3:7/), as proven also by the fact that their prototype - Eve - was first to be seduced by the serpent, and therefore wives should obey husbands. Would Paul say the same to St. Thekla whom he Christianized and who became a preacher and apostle of Christianity? Like, "Dear Thekla, I know that you are stronger in Christ and more wise than majority of Christian men, but still do not talk or educate anyone in Church for you are a woman!"? - it is stupid even to suppose it. So, Paul is not speaking about women in general, but about concrete worldly women of a concrete Christian community, just to harness somehow their worldliness also by an additional, side argument driven from the story of Genesis.

Moreover, the eating of the forbidden fruit is not yet a fall, for it was next followed by God's questioning Adam and Eve, and had they repented, He would have forgiven them. However, both Eve and Adam started to accuse Him: Eve saying that a serpent created by Him seduced her, and Adam - that a woman whom He has given him seduced him (Gen. 3:13), thus, of course, only God was guilty and liable, not them! Because of this unrepentant and stupidly stubborn disposition they were expelled from paradise. Therefore, eating the forbidden fruit is not about the fall itself, for there was still a space for repentance left, which was not used by the ancestors of all humans.

Thus, also Paul's instructions in 1 Tim. do not deal with the fall, but with the fact that woman was more prone to being seduced because of her weakness in comparison to man, as it was a commonplace idea in antiquity and late antiquity, in which time Paul wrote his letters being fully conscious of and bearing himself the conventional ideas of the time, unanimously accepted by all as being true.* And even this serves as a very specific, contextual and cultural-ethnographical argument, not touching that ontological and all-humanity inclusive dimension as in Romans.

*Whether women are not only conventionally but also naturally weaker than men in certain sense, is a question I am not dealing here, for it is not relevant for this discussion; but that there is a certain physical superiority of men over women engrained in nature itself is for me as clear as day, for all male and female sports are strictly divided, and time passes and nothing changes with this regard. I admit I may be mistaken though, and am sure feminists will hate me, but I will not sacrifice my sincerity and feel of truth even to delicacy, to say nothing about political correctness, for it is a modern-day dangerous heresy to absolutize the demands of political correctness even at expense of truth, killing in human what is most important: the feeling of sincerity, which is absolutely necessary for breeding the feeling of self-esteem and dignity also.

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These things foreshadow Christ (Husband) and the the church (wife). Christ knew no sin but was made sin In order to redeem his bride. The bride of Jesus was taken from him as the scripture says: Ephesians 5:30-32

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Adam and Eve is a type of the church, his bride, to cast more light on this we read:

Ephesians 5:25-27

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

To bring further light in this context we read:

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

The only way for Christ to redeem his wife is for him to partake of her sin so that she may partake of him, partake of the resurrection; so that even as he the head, was resurrected, the wife will not remain in the grave but be resurrected and join the headship, for the head (Christ) and the body (the church) are one, and the head is not complete with the body, and that's why he had to make way for the body to be redeemed her for she was a part of him. Adam was a part of Eve. Sin came and broke the bond, Adam was not complete without Eve, so the only way to make a way for her comeback was to partake of her fallen state in order for her to be part of the redemption plan of God. So Adam was not and could be deceived, having been made in the image of God. He knew what he did to make way for her fallen love one. In this we see the mystery of the redemption plan of God in His Christ, the second Adam.

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  • In the image of God made he them; that is the man and the woman. 'Image of God' is not exclusive to masculinity; it refers to the whole complement of what God made human. – Nigel J Dec 5 '17 at 22:30

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