Bernadin de Piconio on Romans 5:12-21

12. Therefore, as by one man, sin entered this world, and by sin, death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all sinned.
13. For until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when law is not.
14. But death reigned from Adam until Moses, even upon those who sinned not in the likeness of Adam’s transgression, who is the type of him that was to come.
15. But not as the fault, so also the gift: for if by the fault of one many died: much more the grace of God and the gift in grace of one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded upon many.
16. And not as by one sin, so also the gift: for the judgment, indeed, was of one into condemnation; but grace of many faults to justification.

11. We glory, not alone in the hope of the glory of the Sons of God: not only in the tribulations, which directly lead and tend to that glory: but we glory also in God himself, as our God, and in Jesus Christ, as our Reconciler. That we have God for our Friend and Father; and that we have Christ as our means of reconciliation. This is the fourth effect of justification.

12. This leads the Apostle to explain the necessity of reconciliation of man with God; arising from the fall of man and the existence of original sin. The fall of man, and the restoration of man through Christ, are alike in this, that each was the work of one man. By one man sin entered, original sin and all that followed, and by sin, temporal death. In whom all sinned, that is in Adam, in
whom, as the founder of the human race, sin passed upon the whole race. In the Vulgate there is some ambiguity, for in the words in quo omnes peccaverunt, the antecedent to quo might be peccatum; in the Greek there is not this ambiguity, the Greek word for sin being feminine. The completion of the comparison between the fall and the restoration is thrown forward to verse 18 by two intervening parentheses, verses 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17, which
otherwise interfere with the grammatical construction of the sentence.

13. Until the law sin was in the world. This parenthetical introduction of the law, which has nothing directly to do with the main subject in hand, the restoration of our fallen race by Christ, is intended apparently to obviate an
objection that might be made to his last statement. How could all men have sinned, when God gave them no commandments and no law? He replies that sin was in the world, but its existence was disregarded and overlooked, was not reputed by men, who followed only their own inchnations, imaginations, and desires, and were not aware, or, at least, not fully aware, how displeasing their sins were to God. There is, however, some difference of opinion as to the meaning of these words. The Greek text reads is not imputed: generally, there is no imputation of sin on God’s part, where there is no law. Gagne understands, was not imputed by God to the extent of its full penalty. Dionysius  Carthusian: was not imputed so gravely because the law was not written.

14, Death reigned from Adam to Moses, and even infants were subject to it, who had not sinned like the transgression of Adam, and were free from actual mortal sin. This proves that they inherited sin; original, not actual sin, being the cause of death in their case. Death, the penalty, effect, and companion of sin, held all men under its sway; and this proves the universality of sin, for death seized even those who did not sin, as Adam did, and must therefore have inherited sin from Adam.

The type of him that was to come. Adam by his sin was the author of sin and death; Christ, by his death, was the author of justice and life to the human race.

5. Not as was the fault, so also the gift. The grace of Christ has conferred upon us benefits beyond all comparison greater than the evils which the sin of Adam brought upon us. That sin brought upon us temporal death; the
grace of Christ has given us, not only life restored, but many gifts of the Holy Spirit, and ultimately glory and immortality. Many died: many, all men died, became subject to death. And while the sin of Adam was the means of bringing original sin upon his race, and the judgment of death was passed upon us all in him who first received it; the grace of Christ does away with all
sin, original and actual: the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.

17. For if by the fault of one, death reigned through one: much more they who receive the abundance of the grace, and of the gift, and of justice, shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ.
18. Therefore, as by the fault of one to all men to condemnation: so also by the justice of one to all men to justification of life.
19. For as through the disobedience of one man many were made sinners: so also by the obedience of one many shall be made just.

17. If the fault of one man, a man like ourselves, was sufficient to bring death upon all his race; much more the merits of Jesus Christ, which are infinitely greater than the malice of all the sins committed since the beginning of the world, will be sufficient to confer eternal life, upon those to whom he has given already the abundance of his graces, the donation—the great gift of the Holy Ghost—and justification, or full and complete remission of all their
sins. Shall reign in life: The two things men most desire are life and reign; immortality and the height of honor. This is Christ’s crowning gift to the justified. They shall reign for ever and ever.

18. Therefore, as by the fault of one, &c. This verse finishes the sentence begun in verse 12, and takes up the statement there interrupted. This verse contains a twofold proposition, one part inferred from the other; but in neither is there any nominative case, or any verb. The Syriac version understands it as follows: As therefore on account of the fault of one man condemnation existed upon all men: so on account of the justice of one there
shall be justification to life for all men. Or perhaps more simply, by the fault of one, that fault passed upon all men, to their condemnation: by the justice of one, that justice passed upon all men, to justification of life. This is the
reconciliation, the necessity for which he has been demonstrating; and the importance of this doctrine leads to the repetition of it, in different words, in the next verse.

19. Through the disobedience of one man. Adam’s sin
was, therefore, disobedience. It is true we are told, Ecclus 10:15, the beginning of all sin is pride; but the text adds immediately: the beginning of pride is man’s apostasy from God. The sin of Adam, therefore, was disobedience, not in the exterior act, as Saint Thomas observes, but in the interior movement of pride, by which he determined to act in opposition to the command of God. Disobedience, therefore, is the universal sin, and is found in all sin. In Christ there was perfect obedience; by which he made himself subject to the command of his Father, as of a Superior; and became obedient even to death. It is not inconsistent with this that he is said to have died for charity; for, as Saint Thomas observes again, it was love of his Father, and of us, which was the motive of his obedience. Obedience is used in the singular in this verse, because the obedience of Christ was perpetual and throughout his life.

Many shall be made righteous. That is all. Shall be, to the endof the world: the future put for the present which endures.

In this passage the doctrine of original sin, as contracted by all the human race, and even infants, is established by the Apostle in a manner which precludes all subterfuges of heretics. By one man, Adam, the head of the human race, sin, in the singular, and therefore denoting original sin, as St. Thomas observes: enttered the world, extended to all its inhabitants. And lest sin should be taken by substitution to mean death, its penalty, he adds: and by sin death. And lest we should think that sin passed upon all men only by limitation, not by natural propagation, the Apostle asserts more than once that sin entered the world by Adam, as justice entered it by Christ. But
justice is certainly communicated to us, not by imitation only, but properly, in itself, and by regeneration in Christ; sin therefore entered by Adam in a similar way.

The words in quo omnes peccaverunt, in whom all sinned, 5:12, are taken by modern writers, as by Erasmus and Grotius, and some ancient writers, and among them Saint Chrysostom, to mean, in so far as or inasmuch as, all have
sinned. This interpretation is less simple and literal than ours; but it does not in any case affect Saint Paul’s doctrine. For how could all men, even infants, have sinned, otherwise than in Adam their father? It would be untrue that all men sinned, in any other sense.

The statement that all men, even infants, sinned in Adam, their father, is the tradition of the Catholic Church: and is expressly stated by the Councils held at Orange, A.D. 529, at Milevis, or Milah (in Algeria), previous to 418, and finally at Trent, Sess. v. 4. Of course Christ our Lord is excepted, and for his sake the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, who is called by Saint Bernardine the
eldest daughter of her Son’s Redemption.

It is to be observed that the Apostle makes no mention of Eve. Adam only is compared and contrasted with Christ. Although Eve was the first to sin, Adam was the primary cause of original sin, as of general. It appears nearly certain from this, that had Adam not sinned. Eve would not have transmitted her sin to us. She was not the type of Christ, as the writer, under the name of Saint Ambrose erroneously says: but Adam was.

The reason Saint Paul dwells with so much insistence on this analogy and contrast between Adam and Christ, is probably that, in arguing with the Jews, it enables him to proceed from a truth which they received and acknowledged, to another which he wished them to infer. The Jews admitted that all men sinned in Adam; they must, therefore, admit, at least negatively, the possibility that all men are justified by the merits of Christ.

But the justification in Christ includes, or is followed by, much more than we lost by Adam’s sin. For Christ gives higher graces than existed in the state of innocence: patience, penance, martyrdom, virginity, the Apostolate, the religious virtues, &c. He gives also the grace of perseverance, under much greater difficulties, arising from our own infirmity, and the strength and malice of our foes. And he gives grace continually growing in intensity, as cannot be doubted in the cases of the Blessed Virgin, the Holy Apostles, and other illustrious Saints. More extended, including the Blessed Virgin, who is an ocean of graces, and has greater grace than all others; and the angels, whom many suppose to have been justified by the merits of Christ. And more sufficient: For the grace of Christ is sufficient to save, not only the race of Adam, but an infinite number of men, or of worlds, did they exist.

In Adam there was no rebellion of concupiscence, which remains in the regenerate. But this itself, through Christ, becomes in us material for struggle, victory, and triumph.

We have lost access to the Tree of Life: Christ gives us the Bread of Life eternal.

We die in time for Adam’s sin: by Christ we shall rise to life immortal and glorious, of soul and body.

Christ gave us not a remedy only: but health, and beauty, and honor, and glory and dignity far transcending our own nature. Much more than the forfeit due to us, as the boundless ocean is greater than a drop of water.
Saint Chrvsostom, Hom. 10.

20. And the law entered after, that guilt might be abundant: but where guilt was abundant, grace superabounded:
21. That as sin reigned to death, so grace also may reign through justice to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

0, The law entered after. Subintravit. The Greek word TrapeLcrrjXBev, signifies, in its ordinary meaning, to creep in, or enter secretly or wrongly. That guilt might be abundant. The effect, not the cause. The result of the
introduction of the law, at a much later period in man’s history, was the multiplication of guilt, or that it became more conspicuous than ever. Grace superabounded, in the Greek, exceeded its limits and overflowed beyond degree and measure.

As sin dominated mortal life, dragging mankind to destruction, temporal and eternal: so the grace of Christ, overthrowing the realm of sin, reigns through justice, which leads man to life eternal, through Jesus Christ, the author of this justice and this life.

Corollary of Piety.

Hope is the first necessity of human life. For no human being was ever contented with the present, or ever will or can be, till we receive the full consummation of the desire of our souls in the enjoyment of the infinite love and beauty of our Creator.

This hope, as glorious as it is necessary to us, Christ has thrown like the blaze of the sunshine round our path, brilliant, clear, and certain. Hope so glorious that though only anticipation, it is a far greater enjoyment and happiness than any this hfe can afford. Could we realise it, we should cease altogether to care for any created thing, or any finite object of desire. Hope that maketh not ashamed, and cannot disappoint. For God so loved me that he gave his only begotten Son up to death for me, while yet a sinner; and has given me his
Holy Spirit in Baptism, the pledge of eternal salvation. These indications of his love are unmistakable.

The death of Christ is a foundation of this hope, but so is his life. He prayed for me with tears and bloodshedding on the cross. Now in heaven, glorious, omnipotent, and immortal, he shows the marks of his wounds to God the Father, for me.

The Christian fears for his sins; much more let him hope for the merits of Christ dying, and Christ living. The Christian fears the judgment: let him remember that Christ will be his Judge.

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One Response to Bernadin de Piconio on Romans 5:12-21

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the First Sunday of Lent, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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