Thursday, November 24, 2011

You say 'many,' I say 'all'

I understand about Matthew 20.28 and how Christ died for the many of Israel because his ministry was to the circumcision (Romans 15.8).  However, when talking about this someone brought up that many could mean all and gave as evidence Romans 5.15 and 19.  This did not make me rethink Matthew 20:28, but it did throw me for a loop in the Romans 5 passage. 

Could you please explain the use of many and all in this passage, for it seems that many could mean all, but for some reason I don't think so—I just don't know why.

This verse must be read in light of the overall context to understand it properly.

Romans 5:19
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Notice that verse 19 begins with a "for." When you see that, it is there to give more light, further explanation and amplification to what was just said. Therefore, let's look at the verse previous...

Romans 5:18
Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Again, notice that this verse starts with a "therefore"...and therefore is a summation of what was said previously. In this case, verse 18 comes after a few "parenthetical" verses from verse 13 through 17.

Romans 5:13-17
(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead , much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

Now for purposes of this study, I will not breakdown all of those (it would take ten pages, but just notice that they are in parenthesis, and therefore are sort of an "extra thought" put in by our Apostle. But for our study I will deal with the verse previous to the parenthesis and then also verse 18, that comes after. By doing this we will see very clearly our Apostle's thought on this passage. So here we go...verses 12, and then 18...

Romans 5:12, 18
 Wherefore , as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
...Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Now when reading the thought without the parenthesis we see that Paul is dealing with the fact that through Adam sin entered into the world, and by that sin came ‘death’ (both physical death and, more importantly, spiritual death, meaning, separation from God). Paul makes it clear also that because of Adam's transgression he brought God's condemning judgment unto us all (hell/lake of fire). But because of God's Grace, mercy, love, kindness, etc...he did not want that to be mankind's end, so he did something about it: He died for our place! That death on the Cross that our God died was for all men, but we also have already learned from our Apostle Paul way back in chapter 3 that it is imputed only to those who believe!

Romans 3:22
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto [presented to] all and [is] upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

So we see that although Christ died for all men, the "all" that receive the gift of his eternal life are the "all" that believe! And, because all of humanity has not believed God, than there are only "many" who get the gift of Grace...eternal life.

So that is how Paul uses the words "all' and "many" in the context of these verses.

Romans chapter 5 is one of the "thicker" passages of scriptures, but with a soft believing heart, and diligent study, you can understand it over time! 

Hopefully this helps!

No comments:

Post a Comment