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still more perhaps by his apologetic. For this thought is a necessary postulate for the doctrine of salvation through Christ, which might appear to be superfluous as long as merely the universality of sin were maintained and exceptions were conceivable.
But what is the origin of sin, with its all-compelling power ?
St Paul gives two answers to this question, the difference between which is not explained in his letters.
1. The whole of mankind is involved in the fall of the first man. Through the first man, Adam, came sin, and as its consequence death, unto all men. That is the Jewish theory built up by the Rabbis on the foundation of Gen. iii. Its greatness consists in the fact that it is an attempt to give expression to the thought of the solidarity of the whole human race. The first man is made to appear before God as the representative of the whole race, and his fall is therefore accounted as the fall of the race. But the juridical and, as it were, historical form of this theory is unsatisfactory. Sin enters from without by chance, without any inner necessity, and obtains sovereign power by the commission of one single and accidental fault. And this fault of the single individual has then to be placed by the supreme judge to the debit account of all his descendants, as though each one of them had committed it himself. Such a juridical appreciation of facts harmonizes with Jewish modes of thought, but with no deeper sentiment. It was more for the sake of antithesis, too, that St Paul made use of this theory. He wished by means of it to establish clearly the universal significance of Christ.
2. Sin clings to man's bodily nature. All men are flesh, and sin dwells in the flesh. Man is sold under sin because he is flesh. Nothing good dwells in him, that is, in his flesh. So closely are the body and sin connected that St Paul creates the expression “ body of sin.” This theory is neither Jewish nor Greek, but an original creation of the apostle's. The Jewish starting-point is, it is true, clear enough: the opinion that the human body is weak, impotent and corruptible, keeping men in entire separation from God. Jewish, too, is the opposition between flesh and spirit, instead of between body and soul, as the Greeks say. But the pessimism which we read in St Paul's sentences is by no means Jewish. The conviction of the weakness of the flesh and of the existence of evil motives or of the evil heart in man never suffered the Jews to abandon their confidence in their own strength and righteousness. Side by side with the feeling of sinfulness, the most characteristic features of Jewish piety are self-satisfaction and boasting on account of good works. Words such as “ I know that in me, i.e. in my flesh, dwelleth no good · thing” must have had an altogether repulsive sound for Jewish ears; and Paul is very well aware how he tramples the optimism and self-satisfaction of his fellow-countrymen under foot when he uses them. And when he goes so far as to say “ The flesh lusteth against the spirit,” he appears to take the flesh as the principle of sin and sensuality, just as matter is the seat of evil for the Greeks. Here he is ranging himself on the side of the dualism of the later philosophy which is ultimately derived from Plato. He draws nearer to the Greeks, just as Philo did before. But for all that St
Paul does not turn into a Greek. There is an effective barrier to this conversion—the firm hold which he has, as a Jew, of the belief in the creation, which suffers no second principle to exist by the side of God, but derives the flesh as well as everything else from the Creator of the universe. There is besides this a a second barrier: his belief as a Christian that the world and all that is in it—the flesh therefore included
-belong to God and those that are His, and that it is just the flesh in which the Spirit is predestined to lodge. Sin does not originate in the flesh-it takes up its abode therein as a visitor from outside, just as the Spirit is likewise to come in from without and dwell therein. It is evident, therefore, that this theory of St Paul's upon which he bases the necessity of sin is his own work. Hard personal struggles and sad experience of the power of the senses may very well have supported the theory. The decisive factor was the destruction of all his self-confidence, of all trust in his own natural powers through faith in Jesus the Redeemer. Complete pessimism as regards the body is the necessary converse of the optimistic trust in Christ and His Spirit.
Did St Paul himself reconcile his two theories of the origin of sin ? Not in his letters—e.g. in 1 Cor. XV. death is derived from Adam's fall and afterwards from Adam's earthly nature, without any attempt at reconciling the two statements. And the same applies therefore to sin. But can we rest content with this conclusion? Surely we must choose between the two. The connection between flesh and sin is either antecedent or subsequent to the fall. In the first case it is cause; in the latter, effect.
Here we stand face to face with the ultimate questions of theological speculation. The gnostics
afterwards occupied themselves with these matters. In fact, we here enter upon the domain of the Pauline gnosis and leave the field of thought covered by his missionary preaching. St Paul did not shirk these ultimate questions, but he came to no satisfactory conclusion, and contented himself with answers which are contradictory.
One can distinguish the germs of_three_theories.
1. The theory of evolution.—This present earthly world is related to the future spiritual world as the lower stage to the higher. First the natural (psychical), then the spiritual (pneumatic), first Adam, that is, of the earth, then He that is of heaven-Christ. St Paul develops this theory in 1 Cor. xv. for a definite purpose. He wants to make it perfectly plain to his Greek converts that the resurrection body will not suffer from the defects of the present body. Hence he contrasts it as the higher and the perfect with the lower and the imperfect. In so doing he adopts the story of the creation of man in Gen. ii., and thus obtains a theory which can easily be reconciled with the belief in the divine creation. It is full of a magnificent optimism. Onwards and upwards, step by step, leads the road. When the thought of the education of the human race obtained a footing in the Church towards the end of the second century, then men were glad to invoke the authority of St Paul. But as sin and the flesh are outside of St Paul's scope altogether in these passages in First Corinthians, they can be of no real importance for the ultimate questions.
2. The theory of degeneration. Not only man but all nature is fallen from a state of glory into a state of corruption. The foundation is the story of the fall in Gen. iii. combined with the opposition between the spirit (before the fall) and the flesh (after the fall). Jewish legends (the books of Adam) and gnostic and Catholic theologians anticipate and continue this line of thought. In Paul himself we only find a few scattered indications, which all, however, converge in this direction. The present evil world cannot as such be ascribed to God. God created it, and it was very good. Did not God, according to the Bible story, create the world and mankind in glory as a world of free spirits ? Adam and the whole cosmos were confined within the bounds of matter (oáp) as a punishment for the fall. True, the flesh was created by God, but only as a means of chastisement, and that was death which according to Gen. ii. 17 was to follow on the very day of man's disobedience (cf. Rom. vii. 11 : “Sin . . . slew me ”). That, again, was nakedness (2 Cor. v. 4), of which man became conscious immediately after the fall : he had lost his former tabernacle, the body of his glory. It was the coming short of the glory of God (Rom. iii. 23), that is, of that body of glory created in God's image with which man had been clothed in Paradise. Mortality is the punishment for the fall from the world of spirits through the disobedience of the first man, and the groaning and travailing of the whole creation betokens the longing for the lost Paradise. It is only this theory that harmonizes with every step of St Paul's argument and completely explains his position with regard to the “flesh' which is God's creation and yet