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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
On Marriage and Concupiscence.: Chapter 46

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 46.—The Reign of Death, What It Is; The Figure of the Future Adam; How All Men are Justified Through Christ.

But what else is meant even by the apostle’s subsequent words? For after he had said the above, he added, “For until the law sin was in the world,” 2289 as much as to say that not even the law was able to take away sin. “But sin,” adds he, “was not imputed when there was no law.” 2290 It existed then, but was not imputed, for it was not set forth so that it might be imputed. It is on the same principle, indeed, that he says in another passage: “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” 2291 “Nevertheless,” says he, “death reigned from Adam to Moses;” 2292 that is, as he had already expressed it, “until the law.” Not that there was no sin after Moses, but because even the law, which was given by Moses, was unable to deprive death of its power, which, of course, reigns only by sin. Its reign, too, is such as to plunge mortal man even into that second death which is to endure for evermore. “Death reigned,” but over whom? “Even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of Him that was to come.” 2293 Of whom that was to come, if not Christ? And in what sort a figure, except in the way of contrariety? which he elsewhere briefly expresses: “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” 2294 The one condition was in one, even as the other condition was in the other; this is the figure. But this figure is not conformable in every respect; accordingly the apostle, following up the same idea, added, “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead; much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” 2295 But why “hath it much more abounded,” except it be that all who are delivered through Christ suffer temporal death on Adam’s account, but have everlasting life in store for the sake of Christ Himself? “And not as it was by one that sinned,” says he, “so is the gift: for the judgment was from one to condemnation, but the free gift is from many offences unto justification.” 2296 “By one” what, but offence? since it is added, “the free gift is from many offences.” Let these objectors tell us how it can be “by one offence unto condemnation,” unless it be that even the one original sin which has passed over unto all men is sufficient for condemnation? Whereas the free gift delivers from many offences to justification, because it not only cancels the one offence, which is derived from the primal sin, but all others also which are added in every individual man by the motion of his own will. “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace and righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, by the offence of p. 302 one upon all men to condemnation; so by the righteousness of one upon all men unto justification of life.” 2297 Let them after this persist in their vain imaginations, and maintain that one man did not hand on sin by propagation, but only set the example of committing it. How is it, then, that by one’s offence judgment comes on all men to condemnation, and not rather by each man’s own numerous sins, unless it be that even if there were but that one sin, it is sufficient, without the addition of any more, to lead to condemnation,—as, indeed, it does lead all who die in infancy who are born of Adam, without being born again in Christ? Why, then, does he, when he refuses to hear the apostle, ask us for an answer to his question, “By what means may sin be discovered in an infant,—through the will, or through marriage, or through its parents?” Let him listen in silence, and hear by what means sin may be discovered in an infant. “By the offence of one,” says the apostle, “upon all men to condemnation.” He said, moreover, all to condemnation through Adam, and all to justification through Christ: not, of course, that Christ removes to life all those who die in Adam; but he said “all” and “all,” because, as without Adam no one goes to death, so without Christ no man to life. Just as we say of a teacher of letters, when he is alone in a town: This man teaches all their learning; not because all the inhabitants take lessons, but because no man who learns at all is taught by any but him. Indeed, the apostle afterwards designates as many those whom he had previously described as all, meaning the self-same persons by the two different terms. “For,” says he, “as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” 2298



Rom. v. 13.


Rom. v. 13.


Rom. iii. 20.


Rom. v. 14.


Rom. v. 14.


1 Cor. xv. 22.


Rom. v. 15.


Rom. v. 15.


Rom. 5:17, 18.


Rom. v. 19.

Next: Chapter 47