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Romans 5:12 ESV

"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned-." My emphasis. [dia/through Adam]

Did sin have to enter "one man" before it could go "through" him?

Romans 11:36

"For from him and and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."

Here a distinction is made between "ex/from" and "di'/through." [through the Lord].

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Short Answer: In the context of these verses, the term “through” (Greek: διά, dia) is used to indicate: the means or instrumentality by which something is accomplished.

Strong's puts it this way: of one who is the author of the action as well as its instrument, or of the efficient cause.

So, when it says “sin came into the world through one man,” the term “through” signifies that sin entered the world as a result of one man’s actions. Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that sin had to enter Adam before it could go “through” him. Rather, it indicates that Adam’s action was the means by which sin was introduced into the world.

In totality, the phrase “from him and through him and to him are all things” is used to describe God’s sovereignty over all things.

  1. The term “from” (Greek: ἐξ, ex) indicates that all things originate from God. Strong's notes for this verse: to be mentally supplied.
  2. through” (Greek: διά, dia) indicates that all things are sustained and governed by God. Strong's notes for this verse: of one who is the author of the action as well as its instrument, or of the efficient cause.
  3. to” (Greek: εἰς, eis) indicates that all things exist for God’s glory. Strong's notes for this verse: after verbs of going, coming, leading, etc., εἰς is joined to nouns designating the conditional state into which one passes, falls, etc.

So, in both verses, “through” indicates the means or instrumentality by which something is accomplished.

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    Thanks. Are you saying that Strong's making "through" both "author" [first link] and "instrument" [middle link] in a causal chain, means "through" is flexible enough to fit either of these? Is "means" in your last sentence meant to appear ambiguous signifying either first or middle link?
    – C. Stroud
    Commented May 16 at 14:56
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    @C.Stroud Apologies for the late reply. Yes it could fit instrument or author. Let me quote: dia - of the Means or Instrument by which anything is effected; because what is done by means of person or thing seems to pass as it were through the same (cf. Winer's Grammar, 378 (354)).
    – Jason_
    Commented May 17 at 7:42
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Imagine: a tourist bus driver violates traffic rules and collides with another vehicle. The bus driver himself breaks limbs, but also all the tourist in the bus break their limbs. That is a good Rabbinic and Orthodox Christian image of Adam: Adam violated divine commandment and damaged his relationship with God through this sin; this damage infected all humans descending from him, for all humans descend from him, so all humans are being born with this Adamic defect, the original sin, that is to say, a certain inherited wound on our nature that conditions our subjection to a sinful drive.

However, the original guilt belongs only to Adam (and Eve, for that matter), whereas the descendants of Adam do not have the original guilt (for they did not violate divine commandment in the Paradise for the simple reason that they were not yet existing to violate anything), but only the original sin as a defective condition of sinfulness that they receive from the only guilty one - Adam (and, again, Eve, for that matter).

This is the meaning that "through Adam sin came to the world".

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  • "That is a good Rabbinic and Orthodox Christian image of Adam: Adam violated divine commandment and damaged his relationship with God through this sin; this damage infected all humans descending from him" - source? Original sin is a well known disagreement between Judaism and Christianity Commented May 15 at 17:16
  • @AviAvraham I remember my lecturer told us this during a class that in some branch of Rabbinic Judaism such ideas on Adamic fall were entertained Commented May 15 at 18:12
  • @AviAvraham I have just seen this in internet Jewish Encyclopedia: “The sin of Adam, according to the Rabbis, had certain grievous results for him and for the earth”. Commented May 15 at 18:43
  • @Levan Gigineishvili Thanks. When water goes "through" a pipe the pipe does not create the water. Do you see your bus driver as a first cause? Not to argue the point but only for clarity.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented May 16 at 11:12
  • @C.Stroud Yes, Adam is the first human who through his own misconduct infected his nature and from him this infection became a heredity of all mankind. Thus, Adam is the first cause in this sense. Commented May 16 at 12:41
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In Romans chapter 5 there are 17 uses of the word “through”, contrasting what comes through faith in Christ, through what he did and through the activity of the Holy Spirit– with what came through Adam.

The OP asks ‘Did sin have to enter "one man" before it could go "through" him?’ Nothing entered into Adam, that then went “through him”. He had not partaken of the Tree of Life in the midst. Then he decided to partake of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which appeared to the woman as desirable, and to him as the right thing to do, this despite God having said it was not to be partaken of as it would lead to death, not life. Literal eating of fruit causes that food to enter into the eater. It then goes through the digestive system. Given that no fruit can impart knowledge (of anything) Adam made a choice to disobey God, making him a rebel against God. All rebels against God are sinners. We are all rebels against God, unless and until God brings us to spiritual newness of real life, in Christ.

Adam changed his status before God by disobeying God. He was welcome in the garden, free provision made for him for everything beneficial and desirable, but then he decided that the forbidden tree was more desirable than the Tree of Life. Then he was no longer welcome in the garden, cast out, and prevented from access to the Tree of Life. Yet bear in mind that no literal eating of any fruit can impart everlasting life. Because of disobedience to God, he could not partake of that Life; he had to die because he was now a sinner. He had partaken spiritually of that which would kill him and that, in turn, meant he could now not partake spiritually of that which would give him everlasting life.

Sin was not something external to Adam that had to “enter into him” and then “go through him” and on to others. While sinless, yet not having partaken of the Tree of Life, he disobeyed God to try to become more “like God” by partaking of something that would supposedly give him special knowledge of a better way to live. He did not partake of an actual piece of food that entered into him. He took the path of independence. That was sin, proven by him dying. The act of rebellion against God is what causes alienation from God and banishment from God’s presence. And we all disobey God, for we are all sinners. Adam could only pass on to his progeny that which he had – a now sinful nature that was bound to lead to death. And we, his progeny, all sin and we all die.

Now, back to the starting point of how Romans chapter 5 contrasts what comes through Christ and the Holy Spirit, with what came through Adam. From verse 1 on, it shows that it is through Jesus Christ that we gain access by the faith of Christ into the grace of God, and that the love of God is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Thus we are saved through Christ from the wrath of God – through the death of the Son. Then Paul contrasts the sin that entered the world through the first Adam with the life eternal that comes through the last Adam – Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:45-49.)

Romans 11:36 simply shows that absolutely everything that brings glory to God is from him and through him. It is all of grace, all of God, yet through the faith of Christ we can participate in bringing glory to God by obeying the gospel of Christ, in faith. That comes from God, and we enter into that through faith in Christ. Contrast that with what the first Adam lost, not just for himself, but how that came through him to all who were born into a world where sin had entered in, through him. That is what I understand “through” to mean in Romans 5:12.

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Genesis 2:25 depicts Adam and Eve felt no shame of their nakedness. However, their disobedience as recounted in Genesis 3:7, led to their sudden awareness of their nakedness. Throughout the Bible, nakedness often symbolizes sin. Consequently, when Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, they carried sin with them into the world, marking the entry of sin 'through' Adam.

Moreover, in Genesis 2:17, God expressly warned Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, stating that it would result in death. Their expulsion from Eden meant they were cut off from the tree of life (Genesis 3:22), leading to death 'through' sin.

Thus, all of Adam's descendants inherit this sinful nature, with the exception of Enoch, who, as described in Genesis 5:24, was taken by God as he walked faithfully with God. In other words, Enoch did not experience death, for he had no sin.

Romans 11:33-36 NIV

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” 36 For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Questions often arise regarding whether we can hold God responsible for creating human with a sinful nature. Are we justified in suggesting that God created humans with inherent flaws, thus necessitating the intervention of Jesus to rectify the situation?

Isaiah once addressed those who dared to question God in Isaiah 45:9, admonishing;

“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?

The Lord's wisdom transcends our understanding. However, one thing remains clear: all things originate "From" Him, exist "Through" Him, and were created "For" Him.

John 1:3 NIV

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

1 Corinthians 15:27 NIV

For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.

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  • Your reconstruction of Romans 5:13 is shocking. What biblical warrant is there for that? We are told not to change the words of God. When the Holy Spirit has Paul write 'law', it can by no stretch of anyone's imagination ever mean 'humans'. You claim that "Satan's existence relies on the presence of humanity" but that is not so. He lured away many heavenly creatures to join him in his sin. Nor does the Bible suggest that God created man with a sin nature. I hope you were not supporting that idea.
    – Anne
    Commented May 17 at 15:41
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    @Anne - Indeed this section is not necessary in the answer. I'm sorry to have offended you but it is not intentional. I will have it deleted. Commented May 17 at 19:34
  • Your deletion is appreciated. But to be shocked is not necessarily to be offended! It is not I who might be offended. Thank you for your action. I have upvoted, though wonder about you saying Enoch was sinless. That is a point that merits a fresh question, so I hope to post a Q on that later today, when I have time to form it.
    – Anne
    Commented May 18 at 7:38
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    @Anne - To be honest, it is a flash during my thoughts and surely it is not a mature and thoughtful action. Particularly it is totally irrelevant to the answer. Commented May 18 at 15:22

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