- All Best Essays, Term Papers and Book Report

Original Sin

Essay by   •  January 26, 2013  •  Essay  •  1,534 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,311 Views

Essay Preview: Original Sin

Report this essay
Page 1 of 7

Even people who are not familiar with the Bible have heard of Adam and Eve. Perhaps they have seen Michelangelo's Creation of Adam or have read John Milton's Paradise Lost. Many, however, also know that Adam and Eve play an important role in the opening chapters of the Bible. Some also know that the Bible teaches that Adam had something to do with the evil and misery that we witness in the world and in ourselves every day. Just what did Adam do? How did his action come to affect us and our daily lives? Let us turn to the Bible for some answers.

The biblical account of the creation tells us that after God created man, He declared all His works on the sixth day "very good" (Gen 1:31). In other words, God created Adam good. As Solomon puts it: "God made man upright" (Eccl 7:29). God created Adam righteous and without sin. From the beginning, Adam flawlessly observed the law of God written upon his heart (Rom 2:14-15).

Having created Adam, God placed Adam in the garden of Eden and established with him what has been called a covenant of works or covenant of life.

Before we look more closely at Genesis 2, let us ask a basic question: What is a covenant? Part of the difficulty in answering this question is that we do not often see covenants in modern society. Nevertheless, we do have them. Some states, for instance, have what is called "covenant marriage." Some neighborhoods require homeowners to sign a "covenant" in order to live in that community.

What, then, is a covenant? Put simply, a covenant is a solemn agreement between two or more parties. That agreement stipulates conditions that the parties agree to fulfill. Those conditions are frequently accompanied by promised blessings (to encourage obedience) and by threatened punishments, often called sanctions, (to discourage transgression).

This is precisely what we see in Genesis 2. God approaches Adam and commands him: "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Gen 2:16b-17). The parties to this covenant are God and Adam. The condition of the covenant is Adam's ongoing obedience to the law of God coupled with his obedience to this special command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The consequence for disobedience is death. Had Adam obeyed, we may surmise, he would have received the blessing of ongoing, confirmed, and uninterrupted "life" -- holiness and communion with God.

Consequently, even though Moses does not use the word covenant in Genesis 2, we may fairly conclude that God entered into a covenant with Adam in the garden of Eden. Theologians have called this arrangement the covenant of works. They do so because the outcome of the covenant hinged on Adam's obedience or disobedience to the commandments of God.

We need to add an important qualification to the statement that God and Adam were parties to the covenant of works. Adam is party to the covenant of works, but not as a private person. He is a representative person. In other words, his actions were not only his own but also his posterity's.

The apostle Paul develops this point in Romans 5:12-20. Adam's descendants die because their representative, Adam, broke the covenant of works by sin. In verse 12 we read: "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." Paul has in mind here the "one trespass" of the "one man" (Adam, see verses 15-17). How is it, then, that "all sinned" because of the one sin of Adam? It is not, Paul says, that Adam's descendants have followed Adam's bad example -- imitating his sin and becoming sinners in that fashion (v. 14). Rather, the apostle says, "through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners" (v. 19a, author's translation). Adam's posterity is responsible for or guilty of the sin of Adam their representative. The guilt of Adam's first sin is transferred or "imputed" to them. Someone might ask, "Is this just?" The answer is yes. God was just in imputing Adam's sin to his posterity because Adam was their divinely-appointed representative.

We must note that when Paul says that "all sinned" in Adam, he does not mean that Adam's sin was imputed



Download as:   txt (8.5 Kb)   pdf (109.2 Kb)   docx (12.2 Kb)  
Continue for 6 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2013, 01). Original Sin. Retrieved 01, 2013, from

"Original Sin" 01 2013. 2013. 01 2013 <>.

"Original Sin.", 01 2013. Web. 01 2013. <>.

"Original Sin." 01, 2013. Accessed 01, 2013.