O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

When was law first given?

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Rom. 5:12-14

"For until the law sin was in the world." Sin existed before the law. Men sinned before the law was given.

"Sin is not imputed when there is no law." No one was held guilty of sin, before the law was given.

"Death reigned from Adam to Moses (and beyond aorist tense)."

Isn't death an imputation of sin?

Therefore Adam had the law. (Had law, the article is not in the Greek.)

And therefore, sin existed in the world before Adam was given law.

What law was Adam given? A recent correspondent suggested, "Don't eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil."

Good, but was that all?

In Exodus 18, Moses judged the people and taught law. Where did Moses get that law? The Ten Commandments were given in Exodus 20. The rest of the law follows. What law was Moses judging with and teaching before he received the law?

In Genesis 38, Judah understood and knew he was bound to Levirate marriage laws. These were not given until Deuteronomy 25. How did Judah know them? Why was he bound by them?

Noah knew which animals were clean and unclean. Who told him?

Cain and Abel knew how to conduct a proper sacrifice. How? Cain knew murder was wrong? Why?

Law predates Sinai. Law was given before Sinai. Adam was the first to transgress the law.

Adam transgressed/violated the law in Genesis 3. Death reigned from Genesis 3 on. Sin was imputed from Genesis 3 on.

Adam was given law before Genesis 3, that is, in Genesis 1 and/or 2.

Sin existed in the world before law was given. This is evident from comparing Genesis 1:2 with Jeremiah 4:22-23

22 For My people are foolish,
They have not known Me.
They are silly children,
And they have no understanding.
They are wise to do evil,
But to do good they have no knowledge.
23 I beheld the earth, and indeed it was
without form, and void;
And the heavens, they had no light.

In Jeremiah 4:22-23 and Genesis 1:2, we see sin with no knowledge. In Gen. 1:3, we finally see the light.

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Comment by Doug on November 15, 2010 at 8:15pm

All good stuff. I would add that "law" as you showed, was not the "law of God written in our inward parts" How could it be? All the laws you mentioned (levirate marriage, clean and unclean animals, etc.) are elements of the old covenant. Those things are NOT in the new covenant, because those things only pointed to Christ. they in no way made the practicioner righteous before God for salvation. Only the PERFECT law, Christ Himself, is capable of fulfilling the strictures of the OT law, whether Sinaitic, Mosaic, or Noachic. There is only one covenant in the old testament scriptures I can think of that was based on faith, and that is the Abrahamic covenant. But even THAT covenant required an animal sacrifice. True enough, it was a covenant of faith, but it too pointed to the covenant of grace in Jesus.
My point is that ANY law given to man has flaws because it requires some kind of action to gain something from God. It is ironic that the law of grace, by its very nature, cannot REQUIRE an action, else grace would not be grace (UNMERITED favor) Yet, action comes BECAUSE of grace by faith. No other law can do that, and no created being can fulfill the requirements of holiness that the temporary laws of the old covenant put in place - only God can.
Comment by Doug on November 15, 2010 at 9:22pm

Yes they are fulfilled, but they never had anything within them that prompted God to give people who kept the law any SPIRITUAL favor. They were all physical blessings focused.
Christ brought in righteousness that the law could not. That is what He fulfilled. When that was brought in, there was no further need for a temporary schoolmaster, because we had the master with us.
Comment by Ken Singleton on December 4, 2010 at 7:09am
Hi Jeff,

I have tried to translate Rom 5:12ff on the basis of a traditional understanding of the Law being Torah given at Mt. Sinai, and no matter which way I do it, the passage never makes sense. The nearest I could get to making sense was the following, but even that still has the problem of there being law from Adam to Moses as you rightly point out. Even taking Kurt Simmons understanding of “counting sin” to mean people not acknowledging their sin and reckoning it their own account, it still doesn’t add up:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through Adam, and separation from God through sin, and so that death spread to all men because all sinned – (for sin indeed was in the world before the Torah was given, but men don’t reckon themselves to be sinners when there is no law (but there was law from Adam to Moses as Scripture makes clear). Yet, in spite of not acknowledging sin, separation from God reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who didn’t sin by breaking a specific command like Adam did, who was a type of the one who was to come.

Then I took the understanding that you have presented and tried to fit it into a paraphrase of Rom 5:12ff and behold, it does fit and make sense:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through Adam, and separation from God through sin, and so that death spread to all men because all sinned – (for sin indeed was in the world before law was given to Adam, but sin is not taken into account by God before the law given to Adam. Yet separation from God reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who didn’t sin by breaking a specific command like Adam did, who was a type of the one who was to come (because Adam represented the whole of the old creation just as Christ represented the whole of the new creation?).

The only slight issue I have is in regard to the sin being in the world before Genesis 3, but that sin must have still entered the world through Adam. ("sin came into the world through one man", Rom 5:12)
Therefore, do you think that when God took Adam and placed him in the garden he was taking him as the representative of humanity, and the moment he transgressed the commandment in the garden, the sentence of death was passed upon all humanity because all had sinned "before the fall of Adam". So Adam’s failure was representative of all humanity, just as Christ’s success is representative of the new humanity in him? Do you see Adam as being a TYPE of Christ in this sense?

Regards, Ken
Comment by Norm on December 4, 2010 at 9:55am
Ken S.

Let me give you my take on Rom 5:12. However I consider it part of Paul’s continual Adam discussion that goes all the way through Rom 8 and especially picks up the Adam situation again in Rom 7.

Rom 7:8-9 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. (9) I WAS ONCE ALIVE APART FROM THE LAW, but when the commandment came, SIN CAME ALIVE AND I DIED.

Paul uses himself above as either Adam or Israel as I believe he is speaking euphuistically as a member of the corporate body of Israel that is “in Adam’s death” so in effect he is speaking of all Jews in essence. We can tell also by the verses before and the later verses which sets the context of whom he is addressing.

Rom 7:1 Or do you not know, brothers--for I am speaking to THOSE WHO KNOW THE LAW--that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?

Rom 7:23-24 but I SEE IN MY MEMBERS another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (24) Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this BODY OF DEATH? [Adam’s Death]

When Paul says that he was alive, he is speaking IMHO about Adam’s state of being only in the Garden before the fall. The Garden Temple was the idea set before Adam and Israel for covenant life as there is no “life” outside of covenant [Eph 2:12]. Therefore when Paul says that “sin was in the world before Law was given” indicates that indeed the Law was the problem for man in covenant due to his weak nature. I believe we can infer that this applies only to man seeking Garden relationship with God and does not mean those who do not seek God as that would indicate Universal salvation to those outside of the Garden covenant. I believe Paul intends it only as an understanding of Garden life. When it says that all men sin it infers that all covenant seeking men sin because they were under Law via Adam’s trying to grasp the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The story of the Bible from Adam to Moses is about covenant mankind primarily as it follows the seed lineage from Seth to Jacob and sons and then brings us to Moses. The story is moot to those who seek not God so it’s instructive only to the faithful God Seeker.

Let’s keep the Garden story in front of us and recognize that the problem is Law because according to Paul that is what brought “death” in the Garden.

Gen 2:15-17 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. (16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

This led to Adam’s expulsion from the Garden Temple and was not reinstated fully until “Law” passed at the Parousia and the “curse” removed from Garden Temple life. Rev 21-22 provides a picture of the New reinstated Garden without the Old Elements of Law.

Rev 22:1-3 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (3) AND THERE SHALL BE NO MORE CURSE: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

There still is no unclean thing that may enter the City in the New Jerusalem so everything is restored to the condition of the original Garden with the exception that now through the new Adam we live under Grace as “Law” has been removed.

Rev 22:15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Paul’s thesis in Romans 5-8 and elsewhere is the eventual complete removal of “Law” that is forthcoming in judgment against the unrighteous Jews still holding onto its fleshly mode of existence. If we keep all of these things in mind as we read Romans 5-8 I believe it helps us understand the theme of the curse of the Law and its removal as a story of Garden Temple life resurrection.

1Co 15:54-56 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." (55) "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" (56) THE STING OF DEATH IS SIN, and THE POWER OF SIN IS THE LAW.

Rom 8:2-3 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (3) For God has done what THE LAW, WEAKENED BY THE FLESH, COULD NOT DO. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, HE CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH,


Comment by JL Vaughn on December 4, 2010 at 11:32am

Please consider Jer. 4:22-23, the parallel(?) verse to Gen. 1:2.
22 For My people are foolish, They know Me not; They are stupid children
And have no understanding
They are shrewd to do evil,
But to do good they do not know.
23 I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void;
And to the heavens, and they had no light.
Lack of knowledge (law, light), made the "earth" formless and void. (Don't quote me to critically on this, there are a lot of ways to make this passage work for explaining the state in Gen. 1:2.)

The person or people described as earth in Gen. 1:2 had no law and was the worst of sinners. One reason I prefer to believe it was a group of people is that one person all alone has an extreme limit placed on his ability to actually sin. The light/law gave them the knowledge, and actually reduced the level of sin, but as we see and know, did not eliminate it.

See also this blog If Resurrection Means "Stand Again," Where was the First Standing?.

My at-this-time view is God set aside a people for himself and made Adam the priest and king over that people. They were given a land. The people rebelled. The leader of the rebellion was a person described as the serpent of old in Revelation. His seed, the brood of vipers, fostered the first century rebellion.

The King of Tyre (Ez. 28) had the spoils of Eden. He was one of the cherubs who drove Adam out of the garden. When God drove Adam out of the garden, he used men to do it. These men were outside of Adam's covenant with God, but who were in a separate, unrelated covenant. As the first covenantal judgment, and like most other covenantal judgments, God pronounced judgment on his covenant people, then had another people execute that judgment. These judges killed whoever they could and took possession of the garden. Adam and those with him fled to avoid slaughter.

Covenantal death is always followed by the physical death of many who were part of the covenant. Why should Eden be no different?

It gets worse and worse. :)


Comment by Ken Singleton on December 4, 2010 at 11:37am
Hi Norm,

Once again, excellent stuff, and so much to think through.
I really appreciate you, and the other folks on this site, taking the time to answer my questions.
I am working my way through the creation conference materials and they are answering lots of questions too.
I do think I am beginning to grasp the bigger picture now. Can't wait for the book to arrive so that I can get it in a bit more of a systematic format. I know Covenant Creation has moved on even since the publication of the latest edition of the book, and from what I can gather the work that you are doing is pioneering stuff. Thank you for sharing it.

Regards, Ken
Comment by Ken Singleton on December 4, 2010 at 12:14pm
Hi Jeff,

Some deep stuff you have presented there.
I am not sure what to make of it at the moment. It is certainly a radically different understanding of Genesis to any I have heard before.
As always, I will reflect upon it and wear it for a while and see if it fits.
Thank you for putting it out there. I understand that it is a work in progress for you.

Many thanks, Ken
Comment by JL Vaughn on December 4, 2010 at 12:17pm

Did you miss a word?

As the first covenantal judgment, and like most other covenantal judgments, God pronounced judgment on his covenant people, then had another people execute that judgment.

Unless you take Mr. Bennett's view, the flood was not a judgment inflicted by other humans. Likewise the deaths after David's census, and you example of Job's sores.
Comment by JL Vaughn on December 4, 2010 at 12:32pm

Is Covenant Creation really any more radical than Covenant Eschatology was back when you held some view of Physical/Futurist Eschatology?

It is radically different, but my only concern is does it fit all of the relevant biblical data? Every view of Physical Creation, including Young-Earth Creationism ignores large pieces of Scripture.

Comment by Tim Martin on December 4, 2010 at 12:34pm

That topic looks like it needs to be a dedicated session in the 2011 Covenant Creation Conference.

Think about it.

Tim Martin


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