A Comedy of Errors, a Tragedy of Mistaken Identities (cont’d.)
What if death was inherited from our original progenitor Adam (through whom sin entered the world) by the ban from the Tree of Life, whereupon (epho) everyone sinned willy nilly (Rom. 5:12), i.e., what if “original sin” is a phantom, whereas the biblical facts point to “original death” yielding bondage to sin’s reign by instilling fear of death (Rom. 5:21; Heb. 2:14-15)?
What if Adam’s descendants are not bearing the penalty for Adam’s sin, but instead are suffering the radiating collateral evil effects of his sin, even as the children of an abusive parent may suffer many sinful assaults yet remain innocent, not guilty of their parent’s wickedness, regardless of agonizing delays until the long arm of the law finally catches up to penalize the guilty parent (Deut. 24:16; Jer. 31:29-30; Ez. 18:1-19-31)?
In fact, what if, in the Old Testament, voluntary “bearing” (nasa) of the iniquity/sin of another person equates to “forgiving/pardoning” that person, and is usually so translated?
What if bearing a sin means suffering the collateral evil consequences it causes?
So, what if the only two New Testament passages that use this expression (Heb. 9:28 and 1 Pet. 2:24) likewise should be interpreted as Christ (and God in Christ) pardoning the deplorable national sin that rendered the crucifixion a sin-offering, and by that conciliating act of peacemaking, beseeching the whole doomed world for Christ’s sake, “Be conciliated to God!” (2 Cor. 5:20)?
What if Aaron remained “Holy unto Yahweh” despite his duty to “bear the iniquity of the holy things” (Ex. 28:36-38; Lev. 10:17-18), because bearing the sins of others does not make a person guilty of sin for doing so—far from it!—it can be an act well pleasing to God (Ez. 4:4-6)?
What if this means that the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement was likewise holy because it bore the iniquity of the people of Israel (Lev. 10:12-20, 16:20-22)?
So, what if this means that Christ remained holy while suffering the iniquitous assaults from Jews and Romans, so could not possibly have “become sin,” but rather “became a sin-offering,” i.e., the One-Sinned-Against?
What if the damage sustained by the first Adam’s descendants cannot properly fall under the rubric of punishment for his disobedience, nevertheless, whatever benefit redounds to sinners from the second Adam does properly fall under the category of reward for his obedience?
What if to suppose both the first and second Adam punished breaks the marvel of sustained antithetical parallelism and destroys the dialectic showcased in Paul’s sevenfold layering of logic in Romans 5:15-21, whereby in each of these seven verses he variously drills the identical contrasting correspondence epitomized by 5:19: “even as through the disobedience of the one person the many were constituted sinners, thus likewise through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just,” with no implied parity of punishment whatsoever (which would heavy-handedly overrule heuristic exposition with dogmatic imposition)?
What if “Christ is the end of the Law for justness” (Rom. 10:4) precisely because “the just-award of the Law” (Rom. 5:16,18, 8:3) that he alone could rightly claim by his faithful obedience to God’s will (Rom. 5:16,18,19 8:3; Gal. 4:4-5; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 5:8-9, 10:5-14; John 4:34, 5:30, 6:38-40, 8:29, 9:31-33), and for which God’s justness duly super-compensated him (Rom. 5:17,21, 8:10), namely, the covenantally promised Gift of the vivifying Holy Spirit that raised him from the dead (Rom. 8:11; 2 Cor. 3:6; 1 Pet. 3:18-22), he turned right around and dispensed for free (2 Cor. 3:3-18) to his believing brethren, apart from “works of the Law” (Gal. 2:16-5:14; Rom. 3:21-24), in order to fill them (Rom. 8:3-17), so they can walk in that same Spirit of love (Rom. 5:5; Eph. 5:28-33) bearing all the fruits of the Spirit, against which there is no law (Gal. 5:14-6:2)?
Since Christ fulfilled Isaiah 53:4a (“He our infirmities got, and the diseases he bears”) by miraculously expelling demonic spirits and curing illnesses (Matt. 8:16-17), then what if he similarly fulfilled Is. 53:5,6,11,12 (“…he was wounded from our transgressions and crushed from our depravities…Yahweh Himself causes to come upon him the depravity of us all…with their depravities he himself shall be burdened…he himself bears the sin of many…) by miraculously rising from the dead (Is. 53:10b-12a, 52:13), thereby, in principle, abolishing and swallowing up death in victory and simultaneously condemning sin, which can only reign in death, and whose power is the Law, the just-award of which Christ had won hands down (Rom. 8:3, 5:21; 1 Cor. 15:21-26,54-57), and thereby both morbidity and mortality melt away miraculously?
What if, in accord with the Patristic epitome that “What Christ does not assume, he does not heal” (Gregory Nazianzus, Epistle 110; Theodoret), so, by the logical law of conversion, what Christ does heal (consummately!) via his resurrection—namely, his Adamic mortality—he must have assumed, i.e., Adam’s “body of death” = “the flesh of sin” (Rom. 7:24, 8:3)?
What if sin was “condemned in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3) when Christ was “justified in Spirit” (1 Tim. 3:16) as the “life-making Spirit” (1 Cor. 15:43-45, 2 Cor. 3:3,6, 13:3-4) of the better, New Covenant (Heb. 7:11-28) at his resurrection, hence God never “needed” to condemn the Savior in order to condemn sin?
What if the world (lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, ostentation of livelihood) was conquered in Christ’s own mortal flesh by his perfect learning of obedience (1 John 1:7-9, 2:12-14, 4:4, 5:1-8; Rev. 3:21), enabling him to defeat Satan at that last great trial (1 Cor. 10:11-13) and cast him out of the world by obedient endurance of the cross (John 12:31-33; 1 Cor. 2:8; Heb. 2:9-18), which God swiftly repaid by resurrection, thus swallowing up death decisively, including sin, which can only reign in death (Rom. 5:21; 1 Cor. 15:55-57)?
What if Christ’s two-fold victory over Satan’s temptations—at the outset of his ministry, but ultimately at the appointed time of the cross (Luke 4:13)—equates to his condemnation of sin (Rom. 8:3), the judging of the world, the expulsion of Satan (John 12:31), the erasing and nailing to the cross of the handwriting of Jewish decrees (Col. 2:14-15), and the “killing the enmity” in his circumcised Jewish flesh (Eph. 2:15-22) that had perennially separated Jew from Gentile?
What if at the Cross, in one fell swoop, Christ gained a decisive and total victory over Moses’ Law (with its curses), Satan the Tempter, along with the sovereignties and authorities in high places, plus Death and Sin—all by surrendering himself to be murdered by those he came to save and then waiting for God to justify him to new, immortal life (with a generous surplus to throw a gigantic giveaway) and exalt him to a throne of sovereignty, authority, honor, glory, and majesty over all things—a compound conquest completed, however, only in the aftermath of his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 8:1-3; Eph. 2:13-18; Col. 2:8-3:5)?
~~ To be continued ~~