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Romans 5:18, 19

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  • Romans 5:18, 19

    Romans 5:18:19

    This is a hard passage to read as meaning anything other than universal salvation. I’d therefore be interested in your thoughts on how it might be read otherwise. I’ve included some thoughts of my own below.

    Roman includes a comparison between the effect of Adam’s sin with that of Christ’s sacrificial death, which is summarised in verses 18 and 19 below:

    So therefore, just as through one offence condemnation came to all men, so also through one righteous act justification of life comes to all men. For as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one righteous man the many will be made righteous.

    The deliberate and powerful parallelism of these phrases seems to clear teach that all men will be saved. Just as sin led to condemnation and death for all humanity, so Christ’s sacrifice will lead to justification and life for the whole of mankind.

    It might be argued that ‘all men’ does not literally mean ‘all men’ here, but refers to ‘all believers’. Alternatively, it might be contended that Christ’s sacrifice only leads to the possibility of life. Although the offer of life ‘comes’ to all men, it is not accepted by all, so not all are saved. To this, it might be added that verse 19 only says that ‘many’ will be made righteous; it does not say that ‘all men’ will be. It might also be pointed out that whilst there is clear parallelism here, there are also some obvious contrasts; hence, Paul’s statement that ‘the free gift is not like the effect of one man’s sin’ (verse 16), something which clearly indicates that the parallels can only be taken so far.

    However, there are a number of flaws with these arguments. To begin with, Paul explains the contrasts in verse 16. In the case of Adam, one trespass led to condemnation; whereas the free gift occurred after many trespasses and brings justification. This says nothing, therefore, to justify interpreting ‘all men’ to mean anything other than literally ‘all men’.

    The second argument falls down when the two verses above are read together. From this it is clear that verse 19 follows on logically from the previous verse, as it starts with the word, ‘for’. So verse 19 only tells us what follows from verse 18, and it does this by using different language to describe the message and implications of verse 18. Taken together, the two verses clearly indicate that ‘all men’ in verse 18 are synonymous with ‘the many’ in verse 19.

    It is worth noting that verse 19 does not say that ‘many will be made righteous’; it says ‘the many will be made righteous’. Although the subtle nuances of the definite article in New Testament Greek are not universally agreed, one clear function is to refer back to a previous, indefinite noun. In this case, verse 19 refers back to the at ‘all men’ means the whole of mankind here, as the Bible clearly teaches that all human beings are affected by Adam’s sin.

    It could be argued that ‘all men’ meant different things in the first and second parts of verse 18. However, this would obviously destroy the clearly intended parallels of the verse. It is also completely untenable to argue that an identical phrase has quite different meanings in the very same sentence, unless there is compelling evidence to justify this.
    Here, there is no such evidence. As the interpretation of verse 19 hinges on the use of a particular phrase (‘the many’), however, it is essential to carefully examine how this phrase is used throughout the New Testament.

    The Greek word for ‘many’ is used as a noun about 80 times in the New Testament. However, in only 10% or so of these cases is the phrase, ‘the many’ used. Where passages do contain this phrase, it appears as the subject and the object of the sentence in roughly equal proportions. The phrase, ‘the many’ can also be found in one of the gospels and two of the epistles.
    This clearly indicates that the Greek word for ‘many’ is not always accompanied by the definite article. It also indicates that the phrase, ‘the many’ is not an individual stylistic issue, as it appears in different books that were written by different authors for different readers at different times. We need therefore to consider in what circumstances the phrase, ‘the many’ is used. And to do this, we need to examine all of the passages in which this phrase appears.

    The first example can be found in Mark 6:2, which says:

    And when the sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many hearing were astonished...

    Here, ‘the many’ clearly refers to the group of people who heard Jesus on this occasion. They were not just ‘many’ people generally; they were ‘the many’ people who were gathered in the synagogue at that time. So the word ‘the’ has clearly been used, because the passage had a specific group of ‘many’ people in mind.

    The next passage is Mark 9:25, 26 which says:

    And when Jesus saw a crowd running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it, ‘Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you come out of him and never enter him again. And after crying out and much convulsion, it came out. And he was like a corpse, so that the many said that he had died.

    As in Mark 6:2, ‘the many’ is used here as a pronominal phrase, to refer back to the indefinite group of people (‘a crowd’) in the previous verse, i.e. ‘a crowd ran together’ and ‘the many (i.e. the crowd) said that [the man] had died’.

    The definite article appears to have been used once again, therefore, because the verse is not talking about any vague or indefinite group of many people. Instead, it is referring to a specific collection of people, who were mentioned in an earlier sentence. Thus, the Greek follows the convention in many languages, that when something is introduced indefinitely, the definite article is always used to refer back to that particular object, e.g. ‘he saw a bus arriving, and he got on the bus’.

    The next example comes from Romans 5:12 to 16, which says:

    Therefore as sin entered the world through one man and, through sin, death, so also death passed to all men inasmuch as all men sinned. For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not counted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sinning was unlike that of Adam’s transgression, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offence, for if the many died through the one offence, much more have abounded to the many the grace of God and the free gift...

    Once again, the phrase ‘the many’ refers back to the large group of people introduced in the first part of this passage, namely ‘all men’. So just as sin led to the death of ‘all men’, the free gift and God’s grace also abounds to ‘all men’.

    Later on in this epistle Paul again uses the phrase ‘the many’ when he is talking about the body of Christ (Romans 12:3-5).

    ... I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith God has apportioned. For as we have many members in one body, but not all of the members have the same action, so we, the many, are one body in Christ, and each a member of one another.

    As with the passages mentioned above, the phrase ‘the many’ here refers to a specific group of many people, who are clearly identified earlier in the passage. In this case, ‘the many’ comprises all of the members of the body of Christ.

    The next two examples are both from 1 Corinthians 10, namely verses 17 and 33, which say:

    Because there is one bread, we, the many, are one body, as we all share the one bread.

    ...I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own advantage, but that of the many, in order that they may be saved.


    As in the previous passages, the phrase, ‘the many’ clearly has a specific group of many people in mind. Here, these are ‘all Christians’ and ‘all men’ respectively. Once again, therefore, ‘the many’ is not used to simply denote ‘many’ in the sense of any indeterminate or large number of people; the noun preceded by the definite article refers to a definite group of many people.

    Finally, in 2 Corinthians 2:17 Paul says:

    For we are not like the many who hawk the word of God, but as men of sincerity...

    Here, the phrase, ‘the many’ also has a specific group of people in mind, namely the large number of people who in those times were peddling the word of God like salesmen. The use of the definite article, therefore, turns a general term (‘many’) into a phrase which identifies a specific group of people with whom the passage is directly concerned.

    We can now turn back to Romans 5:18,19 and re-examine the passage in the light of this evidence:

    So therefore, just as through one offence condemnation came to all men[1], so also through one righteous act justification of life comes to all men[2]. For as through the disobedience of one man the many[1] were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one righteous man the many[2] will be made righteous.

    As mentioned altready, the reasoning of both sentences is directly linked, as indicated by the word ‘for’ at the beginning of verse 19. In addition, the use of the phrase, ‘the many’ as opposed to ‘many’ in verse 19 supports the view that there are in fact only two groups of people in these verses: those who were affected by Adam’s sin and those who will benefit from Christ’s sacrifice.
    The first group of ‘the many’ [1] is ‘all men’, as this is the corresponding phrase to which it is linked in the first sentence. We also know that the phrase, ‘all men’ in that sentence must mean literally every single human being on the planet, because of the Bible’s clear teaching regarding the universality of sin.

    For the same reasons, the second group that is described as ‘the many’ [2] must also refer back to the ‘all men’ in the previous verse. Unless we can show that this does not literally mean ‘all men’ as in the first clause, then the normal rules of exegesis require us to interpret this phrase in exactly the same way. We would otherwise have to conclude that ‘all men’ had two completely different meanings in the very same sentence, even though there was absolutely no evidence that this was the case.

    It is also perhaps worth mentioning here that no textual variants of ‘the many’ in verse 19 are mentioned the Novum Testamentum Graece. As far as I can establish, therefore, the phrase ‘the many’ would have appeared in the original text, and was not the result of a later scribal error. The only fair conclusion that we can draw from all of this, therefore, is that verse 19 is telling us in a very direct way that in the end ‘all men will be made righteous’.

    Elsewhere in the Bible we are told that ‘the righteous’ are God’s sheep, and that they receive eternal life and will never perish (John 10:28). The reason for this is that nothing now or in the future can separate them from the love of God (Roman’s 8:39). This must, then, be the joyful fate of ‘all men’, as all of us will eventually be ‘made righteous’.


    God bless


    Robert




  • #2
    Origen

    We appear to be on diminishing returns here. So I’ll move on shortly and create a string to discuss just one more passage.

    I just pause to comment on a couple of things. I didn’t understand your challenge to produce a Greek grammar that supports the view that καί should be translated as ‘even in 1 Peter 3:19. I’ve given you umpteen mainstream translations backed by a myriad of biblical scholars, which supports that view. I've no doubt that several of these scholars have written Greek grammars and not just read them.

    You said in an earlier post that ‘read into the text rather than reading it’. I think the opposite is true; all of the alternative readings have required ideas to be read in to the passage, e.g.:
    1. ‘prison’ is a symbol for the body, when it always denotes a place of spiritual punishment;
    2. the ‘spirits’ in 1 Peter 3:19 are fallen angels when it does not mention angels at all;
    3. fallen angels disobeyed at the time of Noah when the Bible only mentions human disobedience at that time;
    4. 1 Peter 3:22 means ‘fallen angels’ when it only mentions ‘angels’; and,
    5. 1 Peter 4:6 means ‘the now dead’ when it only refers to ‘the dead’.



    Robert

    Comment>

    • #3
      Origen

      Sorry some words fell out. That should have read:

      You said in an earlier post that I ‘read into the text rather than reading it’. I think the opposite is true; all of the alternative readings you and William have provided have required ideas to be read in to the passage, e.g.:
      1. ‘prison’ is a symbol for the body, when it always denotes a place of spiritual punishment;
      2. the ‘spirits’ in 1 Peter 3:19 are fallen angels when it does not mention angels at all;
      3. fallen angels disobeyed at the time of Noah when the Bible only mentions human disobedience at that time;
      4. 1 Peter 3:22 means ‘fallen angels’ when it only mentions ‘angels’; and,
      5. 1 Peter 4:6 means ‘the now dead’ when it only refers to ‘the dead’.



      Robert

      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by Robertus View Post
        We appear to be on diminishing returns here. So I’ll move on shortly and create a string to discuss just one more passage.

        I just pause to comment on a couple of things. I didn’t understand your challenge to produce a Greek grammar that supports the view that καί should be translated as ‘even in 1 Peter 3:19. I’ve given you umpteen mainstream translations backed by a myriad of biblical scholars, which supports that view. I've no doubt that several of these scholars have written Greek grammars and not just read them.

        You said in an earlier post that ‘read into the text rather than reading it’. I think the opposite is true; all of the alternative readings have required ideas to be read in to the passage, e.g.:[LIST=1][*]‘prison’ is a symbol for the body, when it always denotes a place of spiritual punishment;[*]the ‘spirits’ in 1 Peter 3:19 are fallen angels when it does not mention angels at all;[*]fallen angels disobeyed at the time of Noah when the Bible only mentions human disobedience at that time;[*]1 Peter 3:22 means ‘fallen angels’ when it only mentions ‘angels’; and,[*]1 Peter 4:6 means ‘the now dead’ when it only refers to ‘the dead’.
        I have already address each and every one of these points in the other two threads, more than once. You have ignored the evidence and the arguments and not even tried to address it. On the other hand I have addressed every point you have given and shown by Greek grammar, context, the semantic range of meaning, and background why you are wrong. Feel free to go back to those threads and address the evidence and arguments. There is no reason to rehash it in a third thread.

        Originally posted by Robertus View Post
        I just pause to comment on a couple of things. I didn’t understand your challenge to produce a Greek grammar that supports the view that καί should be translated as ‘even in 1 Peter 3:19. I’ve given you umpteen mainstream translations backed by a myriad of biblical scholars, which supports that view. I've no doubt that several of these scholars have written Greek grammars and not just read them.
        I did not question whether or not it should\could be translated as "even." I questioned your understanding of how the word "even" should be understood. Again knowing only the possible meanings of a Greek word simply won't work. What you don't know is that Greek syntax is important for the use and meaning of words within the text. While anyone can look up the meaning of Greek word in a dictionary, that by itself cannot help you understand how it is being used according to syntax. That requires a knowledge of Greek grammar which you don't have.
        Last edited by Origen; 06-04-2017, 06:16 AM.
        Comment>

        • #5
          Originally posted by Robertus View Post
          The Greek word for ‘many’ is used as a noun about 80 times in the New Testament. However, in only 10% or so of these cases is the phrase, ‘the many’ used. Where passages do contain this phrase, it appears as the subject and the object of the sentence in roughly equal proportions. The phrase, ‘the many’ can also be found in one of the gospels and two of the epistles.
          This clearly indicates that the Greek word for ‘many’ is not always accompanied by the definite article. It also indicates that the phrase, ‘the many’ is not an individual stylistic issue, as it appears in different books that were written by different authors for different readers at different times. We need therefore to consider in what circumstances the phrase, ‘the many’ is used. And to do this, we need to examine all of the passages in which this phrase appears.

          The first example can be found in Mark 6:2, which says:

          And when the sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many hearing were astonished...

          Here, ‘the many’ clearly refers to the group of people who heard Jesus on this occasion. They were not just ‘many’ people generally; they were ‘the many’ people who were gathered in the synagogue at that time. So the word ‘the’ has clearly been used, because the passage had a specific group of ‘many’ people in mind.
          Robert you need to stop pretending that you know Greek. You don't. Here is Mark 6:2 in Greek.

          καὶ γενομένου σαββάτου ἤρξατο διδάσκειν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ, καὶ πολλοὶ ἀκούοντες ἐξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες, Πόθεν τούτῳ ταῦτα, καὶ τίς ἡ σοφία ἡ δοθεῖσα τούτῳ, καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις τοιαῦται διὰ τῶν χειρῶν αὐτοῦ γινόμεναι;


          The word in bold (i.e. πολλοὶ) is the word translated "many." SHOW ME THE ARTICLE!!! This is Greek 101. A student with only one semester of Greek could point it out. Where is it?
          Comment>

          • #6
            Origen

            The versions that say 'the many' are listed in the textual apparatus of the Novum Testamentum Graece, page 105. I included it for completeness, as it is also the reading adopted by the Nestle Greek text.

            Robert
            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by Robertus View Post
              The versions that say 'the many' are listed in the textual apparatus of the Novum Testamentum Graece, page 105. I included it for completeness, as it is also the reading adopted by the Nestle Greek text.
              NOT TRUE! It is not adopted by the Nestle Greek text. This is the Greek text from Novum Testamentum Graece, just as I gave above.

              καὶ γενομένου σαββάτου ἤρξατο διδάσκειν ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ, καὶ πολλοὶ ἀκούοντες ἐξεπλήσσοντο λέγοντες, Πόθεν τούτῳ ταῦτα, καὶ τίς ἡ σοφία ἡ δοθεῖσα τούτῳ, καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις τοιαῦται διὰ τῶν χειρῶν αὐτοῦ γινόμεναι;

              Nestle Aland Novum Testamentum Graece :: Read NA28 online

              I say again, SHOW ME THE ARTICLE!!! This is Greek 101. A student with only one semester of Greek could point it out. Where is it?

              I also see you do not understand or know how to use a textual apparatus. If you want to examine the evidence from the apparatus, I will be happy to do so. There are good reasons why the Novum Testamentum Graece does not include that into the body of the text, but first answer my question.
              Last edited by Origen; 06-04-2017, 11:07 AM.
              Comment>

              • #8
                Origen

                I've attached two pages from the Bagster's RSV Interlinear Greek English New Testament, which. as you will see, is used the Nestle Greek text and includes the phrase 'the many' at Mark 6:2.

                As I said, I included this example of 'the many' for completeness. However, if you'd prefer to exclude it, I don't have a problem with that, as it doesn't alter my questions in any way. So what is you response to the main question here, namely who are 'the many' in Romans 5:19?


                Robert
                Attached Files
                Comment>

                • #9
                  Originally posted by Robertus View Post
                  I've attached two pages from the Bagster's RSV Interlinear Greek English New Testament, which. as you will see, is used the Nestle Greek text and includes the phrase 'the many' at Mark 6:2.
                  The site below is the up to date text, the 28th edition, and it clearly shows that it is not in the text.

                  Nestle Aland Novum Testamentum Graece :: Read NA28 online

                  It is also not part of the Byzantine text tradition, the Majority text, the TR, or the United Bible Society text. If you had the 21st critical edition of the Nestle-Aland text, which was published in 1952 and was the one used by Marshall, you would understand the why. Marshall even says in his introduction these "are beyond the scope of this publication." That is the problem when you don't know Greek and must use an interlinear.

                  Originally posted by Robertus View Post
                  As I said, I included this example of 'the many' for completeness. However, if you'd prefer to exclude it, I don't have a problem with that, as it doesn't alter my questions in any way.
                  It has nothing to do with what I prefer. It is not part of the text and your source is out of date and incomplete.

                  Originally posted by Robertus View Post
                  So what is you response to the main question here, namely who are 'the many' in Romans 5:19?
                  I have taken a better approach.

                  Originally posted by Robertus View Post
                  It also indicates that the phrase, ‘the many’ is not an individual stylistic issue, as it appears in different books that were written by different authors for different readers at different times.
                  Let see if that is true. What is the case, gender, and number of the word "many"?
                  Last edited by Origen; 06-04-2017, 02:07 PM.
                  Comment>
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