All of humanity are understood to have been 'in Adam,' and thus to have
inherited the consequences of his fall:
"For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1
That Adam is the progenitor of all humankind is probably sufficient
to understand this, just as Sarah had many descendants: "But even if
we agree to what R. Jose says (shall we say that) the passage 'and the
Lord visited Sarah' speaks of an individual (and therefore it should
not be used)? Nay; since many descended from her, she is regarded as
many and therefore that passage, though speaking of one only, is
regarded as though it spoke of many." (The Babylonian Talmud, edited
by Michael L. Rodkinson, Tract Rosh Hashanah, Chapter IV, Volume IV, Section Moed,
Kindle location 16478). Some people object to Paul's construct, that all die in Adam but in Christ are made alive, on
grounds of Ezekiel 18:
"Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right. . .He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,
Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord GOD."
They say Ezekiel leaves no room for one to bear the sins of another, as Jesus, in the person of the
suffering servant, bears our sins:
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our
sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and
afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was
bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon
him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have
gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD
hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. . .He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities."
Isaiah's suffering servant is punished, not for his own sins, but for the sins of the people.
Some interpreters think that the suffering servant is the nation
of Israel, though it does not seem that Deuteronomy 28 allows
Israel to suffer for any but her own sins: "And it shall come to
pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD
thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command
thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above
all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on
thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of
the LORD thy God. . .But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not
hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all
his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day;
that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the
field." (Deuteronomy 28:1-16). In Deuteronomy 28, God promises
Israel perfect justice: if she does well, she will be blessed, if
evil, cursed. To punish her for the sins of another suspends this
promise, to say the very least. Certainly Ezekiel does not mean to
deny that God can pardon by whatever means He proposes, else why
must He respect 'repentance,' to which many human law codes give
The circumstance and situation examined in this page, how one can be 'in'
another, how the believer is 'in' Christ, provides an Ariadne's
thread allowing exit from the labyrinth. Just as Israel's sins
were laid on the scapegoat, our sins are laid on Jesus, and He
bore them to the cross. "Jesus took our sin, suffering the full weight of
its penalty. In return He offers us His righteousness. When we are united
to Christ, what is ours becomes His and what is His becomes ours." (J. D.
Greear, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, p. 35).
In its hey-day the Ku Klux Klan marketed itself as a forward-looking Christian organization,
and to this day there are race haters who so self-identify. It is often
assumed by outsiders that these groups' Bible interpretations are
legitimate, yet there is no suggestion in the Bible that white
folks are superior to black folks. So where, then, do they get it from?
After the calamities of the first and second centuries, when Judaea,
having already lost its national independence, came near to being
depopulated by Roman legions, the Jewish religion turned inward, and in the
writings of the Rabbis there is often little of the welcoming spirit
toward Gentile proselytes so prominent in earlier Jewish thought. As seen
above, God chose a people, but He never made racial descent
the ultimate criterion of membership in this people; the way was always
open for volunteers. This Biblical theme came in time to be
muted, and people began to assume, with the Rabbis, that membership in the
congregation of Israel comes primarily through birth ancestry.