BY: ROBERT SURGENOR
Romans 5:12 isn’t referring to the death of animals. And don’t tell me that we should just depend on “the plain reading of the word” to understand the Bible. That’s why many people have it so wrong.
The verse reads “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so that death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
There are two different meanings for the word “world” in the Bible. One is oikoumene, which means the planet we live on, the physical globe. This word is also used in Revelation 16:14, “For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world.” The second is kosmos, which means “the human family.” Kosmos is also used in John 3:16, For God so loved the world, the human family, not the ball of dirt we are standing on.
Which word is used in Romans 5:12? You got it! Cosmos. This verse is saying that death came to the human family because of Adam’s sin. It doesn’t say anything about sin coming to planet earth. It’s like you inviting someone into your house and saying, “Welcome to my little world.” Your world is your home, not the surrounding neighborhood.
The rest of the verse clearly states that the death being spoken of was confined to the human race and not the animal kingdom. It reads, “so that death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Because of Adam’s disobedience, death passed upon who? All men. It doesn’t mention animals at all. And if you insist that animals are included here, the verse continues “for that all have sinned.” Animals can’t sin. So this verse cannot be referring to animals. It is only referring to humans. Period.
And this verse is not even talking about physical death. It’s talking about the spiritual death of the human race. Don’t believe me? Look at Genesis 2:17. It reads, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Surely die is muwth. God promises Adam that if he ate the fruit, he would die within 24 hours. Adam ate the fruit. He didn’t physically die. God didn’t lie to Adam, God was talking about something other than physical death. He was talking about spiritual death. Something animals cannot experience because animals cannot sin.
And God really did mean that Adam would surely die on the day he ate the fruit, not that some long drawn out process would begin and that he would eventually die down the road one day. The exact same literary structure is used in this verse in the words “surely die” as the words in Exodus 21:12 where we read about the death penalty for murder. It states, “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death.” Surely put to death is also twm muwth. And this verse doesn’t mean the penalty for murder is a long drawn out process.
So far we’ve determined that the entire subject we have addressed here does not include animals. It is discussing the spiritual life and death of the human race. We have found nothing so far that indicates animals are included in the death penalty imposed by God because of Adam’s sin. But let’s investigate further.
1st Corinthians 15:21 reads, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” The word death is thanatos, has a very specific meaning, “that separation (whether natural or violent) of the soul and the body by which the life on earth is ended.” When an animal dies, there is no separation of a body and a soul. The verse then states that since the death we are talking about here was caused by man, another man, Jesus Christ, those that die will be resurrected. Animals will not be resurrected. “For since by man came death,” is talking about humans, not animals.
The next verse makes it clear that Adam’s sin resulted only in the death of the human spiritual existence. It reads, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Who is “all?” Animals can’t be included in the word “all.” Animals aren’t “made alive” in Christ.
All of the verses here are specifically addressing a specific type of death imposed on a specific group of living beings. Romans 5:12 is speaking about the spiritual death of the human race. It is not referring to the physical death of animals.