Romans 5:12

From: George Goolde (
Date: Fri Oct 01 1999 - 02:32:04 EDT

<x-flowed>Dear Friends,

        Thank you, Al, for this post. It is a good and important question. As
Carl accurately observed sinned is an aorist indicative. This means that
most exegetes would see it indicating past time and undefined aspect. The
idea that the aorist indicative shows a past action in a point of time is
an inaccurate summation. What the aorist indicative DOES show is that the
aspect is not defined. (The word aorist itself comes from horizo with the
alpha privitive. Horizo means to mark out a limit; with the alpha
privitive it means unlimited.)

        Carlton's post shows that he, too, understands the aspect to be undefined,
or at least uncertain. Here is where we ought to realize, as we struggle
to be honest with ourselves and our own presuppositions, that we
unconsciously read our presuppositions and/or our theology into our
exegesis. We cannot make the text mean something it does not say, such as
making this verse a present tense; that would be eisegesis. But as we work
to select an appropriate description of which use of the aorist indicative
we believe this to be, we will probably make a selection that is
"influenced" by the above factors.

        I myself would understand that the three aorist indicatives happened at
the same time. Sin entered the world through Adam. At the same time death
passed to all men (in a positional sense; some men weren't even born yet so
they didn't die yet temporally). The reason for this is that, at the same
time, these same all men sinned. This is, in my opinion, the most natural
way to understand the aorists. It is clearly not possible to understand
the first aorist imperative (entered) as gnomic.

        I would like to think that this particular exegesis informs my theology,
but I must also wonder if my theology does not prompt me to interpret these
aorists as I do. I do not see this as a statement that explains that men
always do sin (although I agree that we habitually do!). I see this as a
statement that Adam's sin was imputed to the entire human race so that all
die physically as a result. The reason for this is that all sinned (in the
person of their substitute, Adam), The passage goes on to explain that we
receive the imputation of God's righteousness, thereby leading to
justification, because of the gift of the Second Adam, Christ. I'm not
intending a theological discourse here, but am trying to show evidence in
the passage for interpreting the aorist indicatives of verse twelve as
simple, cotaneous actions in past time, with no emphasis on or definition
of aspect.

Hope this helps.

George A. Goolde
Professor, Bible and Theology
Southern California Bible College & Seminary
El Cajon, California

B-Greek home page:
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: []
To unsubscribe, forward this message to
To subscribe, send a message to


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:40:40 EDT