Death before the fall

Hi. As most of you guys know, science confirms animal death prior to humanity, contradicting the young-earth view. Many of the verses they use to support their views, we were able to read them closely and re interpret them. However, there are 2 verses that I definitely think support their view: Romans 5:17, and 1 corinthians 15:21-22. Do these verses contradict the view of death before the fall, or can they be differently interpreted?

Both contexts are about human beings only. Or maybe we should be promoting the salvation of turtles etc.

Can they both be read as being about spiritual death?


Good point :+1:


That’s how I’ve always understood it.

If you read the New Testament in particular, you will see that when it talks about death, it is constantly talking about something spiritual rather than something physical – whether it’s Ephesians 2 talking about how we were formerly dead in our sins, or putting to death the misdeeds of the body, or about us having been buried with Christ in baptism. At the same time, it talks about the death of Christians in particular as “falling asleep” – indicating something that’s completely different, and in fact something that we are to think of as temporary rather than permanent, with the expectation of resurrection and the life to come.


Paul was talking in the tradition of the ancient Jewish allegory of the human condition, as @jammycakes says, for me. Paul knew no more of geology and biology than his ancient ancestors. If he had, he would have made the same case using that as metaphor. We can with a bit of effort.

Some other things to consider.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22

New American Standard Bible

21 For since by a man death came , by a man also came* the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

Why does the blame in this verse fall on Adam when in genesis it’s Eve who sinned first. If sun brought desth then would it not say it was Eve’s fault? Unless it was ok for Eve but not ok for Adam?

It also says that on thst day he would die. But Adam went on living.

It could also be read with a different emphasis.

It says through Adam all will die.
It says through Christ all will live.

Short of a universalist understanding many don’t believe that all will actually be saved by Christ and have eternal life. They think just Gods chosen people will have eternal life through Christ. So why can’t it be read that Adam and Eve was brought to a promise land by Yahweh as his chosen people and they would have had eternal life , just like we believe we will have through Christ. But those outside of Adam and Eve were not part of this called forth and set apart people. These people still were facing death. Adam and Eve had a chance to be kings and queens of the garden and live forever. They messed it up and they faced death thst they were able to escape and it was irrelevant to what those outside of the garden who did not have access to the tree of life faced.

It’s not a good point. If we dismiss young earth creationism, either we are Hugh Ross style old earth, evolution denying creationists sticking with concordist readings or we are theistic evolutionists who accept Biblical accommodation. The distinction between spiritual and physical death is just falling victim to a concordist trap. That ship already sailed if you accept evolution and interpret Genesis in light of its ancient context and culture. Might as well ask what type of glass Cinderella’s slipper was made out of. If Genesis 1-11 was accommodated so was Paul’s interpretation of it. When we interpret scripture we should not be picking and choosing and waffling back and forth between concordism and accommodation. We should pick a team and stick with it!

Paul’s goal is promoting Jesus as the way to life and salvation. Worrying about how to interpret death in Genesis misses the point to me.


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Was Bonhoeffer a waffler then?

And it can be discussed without worrying about it and deprecating anyone.

Most people I’ve seen who claim to accept accommodation are wafflers. Once we leave genocide or the primeval history behind it’s easy to fall into a concordist trap, especially with the Gospels. Paul is teaching the wages of sin are death but Jesus is the gift of God that brings eternal life. There is no need to fuss over his literary reference, whether or not the historical Paul thought there was a historical Adam and a historical fall that corrupted a paradise on earth.

Ever wonder how God found clothes (dead animals) for Adam and Eve immediately after they sinned if there was no death?

Bonhoeffer’s letter that you quote has some good points to it. But it can be misconstrued as well depending on how it is presented.

Nice sweeping insult.

Who said there was no death? Did I? And the death of an animal to cover the sinful rather prefigures the cross, doesn’t it.

It’s not an insult to be labeled a concordist. It is an intellectually indefensible position for sure but if you think it is an insult that is on you and something you probably need to think about. Pointing out fuzzy thinking and intellectual errors is not insulting people. It can be done in an insulting manner but I am just stating a fact from my perspective on a question you asked. Bonhoeffer may fit the same pattern I see with many others but I haven’t read enough to comment. So I offered a valid generalization from my perspective.

I have a few of his books and I am aware of his situation but it may be an eternity before I could ever read them with so many others on the list.


I don’t label myself a concordist. I may have more concordist leanings than some, but you were insulting most accommodationists, weren’t you.

I expect to be otherwise occupied. XD

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No, I don’t view pointing out intellectual inconsistencies in a belief system as insulting someone. Do you honestly think a reductio ad absurdum argument is an insult as well? I actually wish more people who subscribed to accommodation were all in so we could learn from one another. But alas, 2,000 years of Church concordism, bad New Testament apologetics, the enlightenment and fact literal western ideology working against us.

I hope there is learning in heaven!


Thank you for making my point.


*…or depending on how well it is presented. Calling people wafflers is not presenting well.

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Don’t we know? Or rather, we know there will be. (Maybe I’m too concordist in reading Paul. ; - )

@Vinnie I can see you don’t like concordism, but do you have to go to the exact polar opposite extreme?

The Bible leaves certain things wide open to interpretation, and it’s perfectly reasonable to choose a plausible interpretation that aligns as closely with science as possible. On the other hand, if you’re insisting on an interpretation that clashes as violently with science as possible, either you’re trying to attack the Bible for the sake of attacking the Bible, or you’re trying to attack science for the sake of attacking science.

You need to have a better reason for rejecting the “spiritual death” approach than just “it’s concordist.”


No they do not. Yes they can. They are speaking of spiritual life. Just as when God said "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 die.” Then Satan (the snake) said, “You will not die.” So if the death which came as a result of the fall was physical death then Satan tells the truth and God is the liar, because Adam and Eve DID NOT physically die on the day they ate the fruit, did they?

Romans 5:17 If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Death only reigns because we are spiritually dead. If we are spiritually alive then physical death is simply a transition to a new life.

1 Corinthians 15:21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

And you need to put this back into the context of the whole chapter… READ IT! He makes it quite clear that resurrection is to a spiritual body and NOT a natural/physical body. Paul says in verse 44 “If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.” So we have a spiritual body but it is dead (as Jesus says in Luke 9:60) and it must be brought back to life (resurrection).

So you tell me… who is the liar in the Garden of Eden? God? or Lucifer?

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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