Noob (or learner) question about first sin

Why is sin considered in Romans 5 to come through Adam (historical or not) when Eve disobeyed first and then convinced her husband to disobey (who ultimately still chose)?


I would imagine it’s simply due to living in a patriarchal society – everything went “through” the men, and women rarely show up in genealogies.

Plus, they both disobeyed. And Adam was “with her” when Eve did it. Why did God call to Adam first when he went through the garden afterwards? Perhaps simply because he’d been made first? I don’t know.

There are many readings of this. A few facts to put on the table…

  1. Notice that in Romans 5:12-14 says “to sure, there was sin in the world before the Law was given.”
  2. Notice that only Adam was given the command not to eat of the tree.
  3. Notice that “sin” (hamartia) is being used with two meanings in Romans 5:12-14; sin that enters by Adam, and sin that exists before Adam’s sin enters.

The way that makes most sense to me to understand this is that “sin” is used to mean either “wrongdoing” or “transgression,” which is violating divine law. Wrongdoing might have been in the world before Adam, but Adam might have been the first to transgress a divine law. So Eve was doing wrong, but Adam transgressed divine law.


Maybe because God gave the instruction (not to eat of the tree) to Adam, not to Eve? That’s all I got.

That would be my thought, along with it the idea that children were planted by the male, and the female was just a vessel. Which also comes into play with various barren wives of patriarchs having their servants bear children for them. Maybe has something to do with Mary thing, but that is just a thought off the top of my head.

In this context, modern writers would have written “Adam and Eve’s sin,” but the important thing is that humans chose to sin, and that Jesus came into the world to save us from our natural sinfulness. We are all sinful, whether or not there was a historical Adam we inherited it from. No one would think of executing a person whose great-great grandfather was found to have gotten away with murder.

Thank you all for your responses.

I am at the point where I feel that I cannot understand the bible very well. I have read it thoroughly, meditated on it, and read various commentaries, love the Lord Jesus and am filled with His Spirit, but there is so much information both within and outside the text!

I almost feel like I need a community of experts to actually understand many of the texts beyond a basic level. Translations attempt to do a weird word-for-word translation that makes the actual meaning often more challenging (I understand why in reverence for the word of God). There is so much in the text and context that learning original languages seems to be imperative whereas the picture in Jesus’s ministry and Acts is largely uneducated men empowered by the Spirit and relationship with Jesus.

Following this, you literally have Peter explaining that understanding the Scriptures is difficult and that one must be trained.

I am now at the point where I am trying to read in the larger context of the whole of scripture and said given book but this has made using traditional daily devotions and even personal reading incredibly difficult. I used to accept the propositional nature of the bible as nearly an absolute and given (so its easy to interpret and attempt to apply) but does anyone have resources on how to approach reading the bible from a different lens (note: grew up in a similar to southern baptist church and met Jesus through an Anglican one).


It’s a life-long journey, isn’t it?


I am not aware of any english translation that is a literal word-for-word translation. There are some, such as NASB, that try to stay as close as possible to word-for-word. If you want to see what a word-for-word translation would look like check out a interlinear. Check for a free one. You will notice that there are cases when a single Greek/Hebrew work is translated to several in english and vice-a-verse. You will also note that the resulting english is very difficult to read.

I have a couple of “How to read the Bible” type books at home that I can look for. But be aware that even these may have their own filter that can color what you get from the Bible. But at lease they do address some methods that you could make your own.

If you want to really get in-depth I would suggest “The Hermeneutical Spiral” by Grant R. Osborne. Dense but I did manage to work my way through it.

I like the Story of God commentaries for personal study/devotions. They combine scholarship and background with the idea that Jesus is someone we follow and the story of the Bible is not just something we learn, it’s something we live out. They also have a very holistic approach to Scripture as one coherent story of God working in history instead of treating the Bible like a collection of truth nuggets. You can download some free excerpts here.


If you are interested here are some books that were recommended to me.

Living by the Book - Howard G Hendricks
How to Read the Bible Like a Seminary Professor - Mark Yarbrough
Unlocking the Scriptures - Hans Finzel

I can relate to your experience about the Bible seeming harder to understand than it used to. Recently I’ve found The Bible Project helpful and exciting (both their short video animations and longer podcasts). They draw on high-level academic backgrounds but present things at a very accessible level

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