Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
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Acacius of Caesarea
Paul does not mean by this that because one man sinned everybody else had to pay the price for it even though they had not committed the sin, for that would be unjust. Rather he says that from its beginning in Adam humanity derived both its existence and its sinfulness. .
No one is born without the intervention of carnal concupiscence, which is inherited from the first man, who is Adam, and no one is reborn without the intervention of spiritual grace, which is given by the second man, who is Christ.
What has Adam’s guilt got to do with us? Why are we held responsible for his sin when we were not even born when he committed it? Did not God say: “The parents will not die for the children, nor the children for the parents, but the soul which has sinned, it shall die.” How then shall we defend this doctrine? The soul, I say, which has sinned, it shall die. We have become sinners because of Adam’s disobedience in the following manner…. After he fell into sin and surrendered to corruption, impure lusts invaded the nature of his flesh, and at the same time the evil law of our members was born. For our nature contracted the disease of sin because of the disobedience of one man, that is, Adam, and thus many became sinners. This was not because they sinned along with Adam, because they did not then exist, but because they had the same nature as Adam, which fell under the law of sin. Thus, just as human nature acquired the weakness of corruption in Adam because of disobedience, and evil desi...
What was Adam’s sin? Disobedience. What was Christ’s righteousness? Obedience, by which he obeyed the Father in his incarnation and in his suffering for mankind, as the apostle says: “Being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” Thus obedience overcame disobedience and the worse was condemned by the better. .