This study argues that the language of “death” as a present human plight in Romans 5–8 is best understood against the background of Hellenistic moral-psychological discourse, in which “death” refers to a state of moral bondage in which a person’s rational will is dominated by passions associated with the body. It is death of this sort, rather than human mortality or a cosmic power called “Death,” that entered the world through the transgression of Adam and Eve in Eden. Moral death was imposed on humanity as a judgment against this initial transgression, in order to increase sinful behavior, which ultimately serves to increase the magnitude of the glorious revelation of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. Likewise, creation’s subjection to “corruption” and “futility” in Romans 8 involves the detrimental effects of human moral corruption, not the physical corruption of death and decay. Ultimately, the plight on which Paul focuses much of his attention throughout Rom 5–8 is a matter of morality, not mortality.
William Horst is adjunct instructor at Fuller Theological Seminary and Azusa Pacific University.
Chapter 1: Moral Metaphorical Death as a Background to Romans 5–8
Chapter 2: The Language of Death in Romans 6:1–8:13
Chapter 3: The Inception of Death through Adam in Romans 5:12–21
Chapter 4: The Glory of God in the Early Chapters of Romans
Chapter 5: The Subjection of Creation to Corruption in Romans 8:18–23
Chapter 6: Conclusion
About the Author
A wonderful example of how to pay strict attention to what Paul wrote, in the context of his time and place. This context includes the Greek world of philosophy and psychology, according to which enslavement to passions was considered a kind of death. Under Horst’s guidance, we see that this was the consequence of Adam’s sin that Christ came to remedy, not the reversal of bodily mortality.