Sin Brought Forth All Death


This paper will seek to show that in order to be faithful to God’s Word one must believe that all death entered the world after sin and not before. This topic has become more of a debate in recent years because of the Theory of Evolution and the trend in this modern era to try and match what the Bible says with what science claims to know as fact. The world looks at the Bible and renounces it as a fairy tale and some Christians are doing their best to give the Bible back its dignity. But in the process they strip God’s Word of its authorial intent and make science the lord of Scripture.

But many do not view death as a problem in their theology when they hold to some type of Evolution as well as claim to hold to the truth of the Bible. But it must be stated that if one believes Evolution to be true, they must by principle believe that death is a natural part of this world. And therefore in order for Evolution to have occurred and be “in line” with the Bible, they must state that death occurred before the fall – for Evolution only occurs if there is death.[1] Therefore, in order to deal with the discrepancies with orthodoxy, many seek to show that animal death would have been just a normal part of the perfect world that God ordained and therefore would not be included in the death that came upon mankind after the fall. Men like John Pye Smith say that to the notion that there was no death in the animal kingdom before Adam’s fall is a “monstrous absurdity,” that “every physiologist must smile at.”[2] Francis Schaeffer did not have a problem with death being a norm in the animal kingdom before the fall mainly because, “No one is troubled by the thought of a tree dying naturally.”[3] It is this “common sense” that has led others to just nonchalantly state such things as, “the fall…does not explain physical death, which existed before the fall, and physical suffering in the animal kingdom, which has always existed…”[4]

But making the Bible align with Evolution is harder than these men make it out to be. For the Bible clearly states that, “…through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin…” (Romans 5:12). The word “death” semantically covers both spiritual and physical death in the New Testament, and therefore context must be the determining factor.[5] So looking at the context, Paul writes this verse after having discussed the basics of the gospel. He explains that humanity as a whole is under God’s righteous wrath because all humanity is unrighteous (1:18-3:20). Then Paul goes on to state how the righteousness of God has been revealed both in the law and the prophets and now through Christ (3:21-4:25). And in the immediate context of chapter five verse twelve, Paul makes clear the result of faith in Christ, mainly salvation from the wrath of God resulting in peace with God. Verse twelve is the introduction to Paul’s comparison of Adam and Christ and really develops the basis of the human need for Christ going all the way back to Adam and because of Adam. Paul clearly includes physical death in the context for in verse 21 of the same chapter death is compared with eternal life. If no one died physically, we would all live eternally, and therefore the death that Paul speaks of has to include physical death and not spiritual death alone for “…those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life” (Rom. 5:17). They “will reign in life” meaning physical death will come, but then a resurrection (Rom. 6:5).

Also, notice the word, “entered.” Paul speaks of sin “entering” the world, meaning by inference that sin had not yet appeared or occurred in the world before Adam’s sin and then goes on to say that “just as” sin entered, so death “entered” through sin. So while the verb as elided, we see clearly that death entered because of sin, entered meaning it was not present before sin. The world knew no death before sin. That this speaks of the entrance of physical death is confirmed by a parallel passage in 1 Corinthians: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). “All die,” not “all have died.” And “all will be made alive,” not “all are alive.” This making alive is referring to the resurrection, for all die, and therefore, because of Christ, all will be raised (some to life and some to death).

This clear explanation of the origin of death in Romans shows the lack of being faithful to the whole of Scripture. Some take the view that physical death was not part of the death that God referred to in His prohibition to man regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but rather physical death occurred because man was barred from the tree of life, therefore implying that death was a natural occurrence and it would take the tree of life to prevent it.[6] But rather than going down the path of “what if’s” and asking what would have happened if Adam had eaten of the tree of life, we must look to the rest of Scripture to help us understand what took place. The text is clear that God took the tree of life away because of man’s sin, and therefore as a result of his sin man died. Not because the tree was gone, but because of sin. It must be remembered that God already told Adam that he would die (Gen. 3:19), so the taking of the tree of life was not the reason Adam died, it was a result of sin. Adam did not eat of the tree of life after sinning, God made sure of it. Death came into the world only because Adam sinned. The separation from God, the giver of all life, demands that death occur (John 17:3).

But some still do not see a necessary connection between death in the animal world and death that entered into the world even in light of Romans 5:12, “If Adam hadn’t sinned and had continued to live in the garden of Eden, some death would most likely have taken place.”[7] But this view, as the others, is based not on the Bible but on the current understanding of the fossil record by secular scientists. But it is because of secular thought that men think death is natural and not “the wages of sin” (Rom. 6:23). Death is not neutral, or natural, rather it is a destruction of life as God created it. The effect of the fall reaches everything, for that which was “very good” (Gen. 1:31) became that which God regretted making (Gen. 6:6). Death is never pictured in a good light in the Bible, not even animal death. On the contrary, the new heaven and new earth are explained to be places where, “The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain” (Isa. 65:25). As of now, in this current world, creation “groans” (Rom. 8:22) for things are not as they ought to be. Sin corrupted creation and brought death to all.

So while men try to interpret Scripture in such a way as to not feel embarrassed in the world, it is clear that in doing so they have failed to let Scripture speak and have rather made the world their interpretive key. One should not seek to twist Scripture to conform to the world’s ideas, but rather seek to be faithful to Scripture’s intended meaning, in reliance on the Holy Spirit. Contrary to modern Evolutionists, the Bible clearly states that death entered the world through sin, and before sin, there was no death, for it had not yet entered the world.


[1] Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (P. F. Collier & son, 1909), 528.

[2] John Pye Smith, On the Relation Between the Holy Scriptures and Some Parts of Geological Science (London: Jackson and Walford, 1840), 290.

[3] Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian View of the Bible as Truth (Good News Publishers, 1985), 135.

[4] H. R. Haweis, “Henry Ward Beecher,” The Contemporary Review XIX (1871): 339.

[5] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 442-3.

[6] Margaret Nutting Ralph, And God Said What?: An Introduction to Biblical Literary Forms for Bible Lovers (Paulist Press, 2003), 47.

[7] Don Wardell, God Created, 2d ed. (Winona Lake, IN: Priv. Pub., 1984), 97.

Bibliography

Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species. P. F. Collier & son, 1909.

Demarest, Bruce A. The Cross and Salvation. Foundations of evangelical theology. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1997.

Haweis, H. R. “Henry Ward Beecher.” The Contemporary Review XIX (1871): 317-344.

Hodge, Archibald Alexander. Outlines of Theology. R. Carter & Brothers, 1866.

Hughes, R. Kent. Genesis: Beginning and Blessing. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2004.

Ralph, Margaret Nutting. And God Said What?: An Introduction to Biblical Literary Forms for Bible Lovers. Paulist Press, 2003.

Schaeffer, Francis A. A Christian View of the Bible as Truth. Good News Publishers, 1985.

Smith, John Pye. On the Relation Between the Holy Scriptures and Some Parts of Geological Science. London: Jackson and Walford, 1840.

Terreros, Marco. “Death Before the Sin of Adam.” Andrews University, 1994.

Terreros, Marco. “Is All Death a Consequence of Sin? Theological Implications of Alternative Models.” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 14, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 150-175.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Fully rev. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 1979.

Wardell, Don. God Created. 2nd ed. Winona Lake, Ind: D. Wardell, 1984.

Westermann, Claus. Genesis: A Commentary. Translated by John Scullion. Continental commentaries. Minneapolis: Augsburg Pub. House, 1984.

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