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Galatians 2:16 & Genesis 2:17 by Robert Dean
Series:Galatians (1998)
Duration:56 mins 38 secs

The Importance of Imputations; Gal. 2:16; Gen. 2:17


We have to understand imputations or we will not understand the doctrine of justification by faith alone. We have seen that the doctrine of imputation itself is built upon an even more foundational doctrine, the doctrine of the integrity of God. We have seen that what the righteousness of God approves the justice of God provides through the grace of God, namely the fullness of blessing from God as a love gift to the believer. That is on the positive side. At least since the fall the blessing of God comes from the justice of God. That is our point of contact. On the other hand, what the righteousness of God condemns the justice of God judges, but always in the love of God so that the divine solution is provided through the grace of God.


The basis for man's condemnation is not because of his personal sins. We are not condemned because of our personal sins; we are condemned because of Adam's original sin and its imputation to us. Romans 5:12 NASB "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—" The verse begins with the phrase dia touto [dia touto]. dia means through or for, it is really an idiom which means wherefore or therefore. It is very strong, much stronger than the Greek word oun [o)un] which is the normal word used for "therefore"; it is highlighting a conclusion. Literally it means "for this reason." For what reason? Paul is going to explain the foundation for what he has just explained. In Romans 3 & 4 he explains man's condemnation and he explains the basic doctrines related to salvation—redemption, propitiation, reconciliation and the imputation faith. So "therefore" indicates a conclusion. Everything Paul has said up to this point is going to lead into what he says in these verses from 5:12-21. The focus here is imputation. Then everything he says in the rest of the epistle flows from this paragraph, so that is why it is so crucial to understand this discussion and what this means for us as believers.


Here we are going to see a comparison which is indicated in the next word, hosper [w(sper], a comparative word translated as "as." He is going to draw a comparison between the first Adam and the second Adam. The term "second Adam" is a title for the person of Jesus Christ. The first Adam was created perfect; the second Adam was born perfect. The first Adam sinned; the second Adam was sinless. The first Adam is the source of ruin and condemnation for the human race; the second Adam is the source of eternal salvation for the human race. The first Adam died as a result of his sin; the second Adam died as a substitute for the sins of the world, not for His own sin. So what is set up here in these nine verses is a contrast between the first Adam and the second Adam in order to illustrate the significance of our salvation. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world…" The verb translated "entered" is the verb eiserchomai [e)iserxomai] which means to enter, to go into. The significance revolves around the tense. It is a culminative aorist tense which means that it focuses on the cessation of the act, that this was an act that occurred in the past, it has ceased, and the results go on. It focuses on the result of this. As a result of this one man sin came into the world. It points out that sin already existed. This is the implication. Sin already existed in the universe. Where did it come from? It entered into the universe through the sin of the angel Lucifer. Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28 tell us of Lucifer's fall. In the garden Adam was perfect and sin was not in the present world order at that time; it was perfect. Sin is introduced, the door is opened by Adam. That is the thrust of this opening sentence.


How did this take place? Genesis 1:26 NASB "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'" When God created Adam and Eve he began with Adam. [27] "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. [28] God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" So God creates man and places him in a position over the earth. Man is the representative of God to everything on the earth and man's responsibility is to rule over the natural order and to fill the earth through procreation, and the human race would then be in a position to dominate and rule the earth. But something happened. When God created man He created him in perfect environment and the first years were the years of human perfection. Adam was created in the image of God. Just as God is perfect righteousness, Adam was perfect righteousness. God is perfect righteousness and perfect righteousness has affinity and rapport with perfect righteousness, so God could love man personally in the garden. So divine love is the point of contact between God and man in the garden of Eden. Justice was not an issue because man was perfectly righteous. The only area where justice functioned in the garden of Eden was in relationship to the mandate on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:16, 17 NASB "The LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.'" Here we have the prohibition. What kind of death is this? In the Hebrew there is a very interesting construction, one that the Jews used for emphasis. That is, a verb plus the same verb stem in the form of what is called an infinitive construct. When this is taken together it is an idiom, and what it emphasises is certainty and surety. It has been taught in the past that his the idea to be translated "Dying, you will die." That is bad, bad, poor Hebrew translation. When it is translated that way it is to make a point of spiritual death leading to physical death. The grammar does not substantiate that though other concepts do. The grammar is an idiomatic function and it is used to emphasise certainty: "At the moment you eat you will certainly die." The point that God is emphasising there is the immediate consequence that will occur as a result of eating the fruit. What is that immediate consequence? It is death. Did they die physically at that moment? No, they did not; they died spiritually.

Spiritual death brought ruin and condemnation not only on mankind but all of nature. It had ramifications for every aspect of nature. Spiritual death is the immediate penalty that comes from Adam's disobedience. The result of that is ultimate physical death which goes throughout the whole natural order, both man and animal. It also results in condemnation for all of nature. But the immediate penalty that God emphasises here through an infinitive construct syntax is that immediately "You will die." That is what is going to happen in chapter three.

That is the only indication of divine justice in the garden. Divine personal love is the point of contact and is the motivation of the essence of God. Divine love supplied all of their needs, but divine love could not provide eternal security; it could not guarantee that they would stay in that environment for the remainder of their days. Divine love could provide them with doctrine to make the right choices but divine love could not protect them from their own volition and ensure that they would make the right decisions. What we learn from this is that while divine love was their point of contact divine love could not provide security.

What we have then is the fall. At the fall Satan comes along and has decided that the weakest link in the system here is going to be the woman. So he is going to come up and entice the woman with the fruit. He begins in Genesis chapter three by challenging what God has said. This is always the way in which Satan operates. He questions the veracity of God's word: How do we know that God really said that, and is that really in your best interest? That is what he indicates by his opening salvo in verse 1: "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman's response shows that she had not paid complete attention in her Bible classes in listening to the Lord. Genesis 3:2, 3 NASB "The woman said to the serpent, 'From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" We see a standard modus operandi here on how people get confused and distracted from Scripture. First of all they question what God has said, and secondly they fail to understand it properly so they begin to add to it—or take away from it. By doing that she gives the serpent an opening and he directly challenges what God said: "You surely will not die!" He uses the same construction that God uses back in 2:17—he emphasises certainty. Then Satan impugns the character of God. Genesis 3:5 "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

The woman takes the fruit and eats, and at that point she falls, she is now a sinner. But Adam is not a sinner. Adam is the head of the race and the responsible party here. The woman calls the man and gives the fruit to her husband and he makes a choice between God and the woman, and he decides to go with his companion and he eats. Genesis 3:7 NASB "The result: Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings." Adam's sin is critical from two perspectives. First of all, it is a personal sin. But there is something else about Adam's sin that is unique, and that is that it is an original sin. It has a unique place in relationship to the entire human race because Adam's sin as our seminal head and our federal head. So Adam's decision has an impact on all of his decisions. Seminally means that the entire human race is physically related to Adam. We are an organic whole. Every human being is genetically tied to Adam. Federal headship has to do with the fact that he is designated as our representative. Federal headship means their decision is our decision, good or bad; it means federal representation. So Adam's sin is our sin. When Adam sinned it is our sin because he is our federal head. But we are also physically related to him, so these two come together. In theology these two systems are usually demonstrated as one or the other, and that you hold either to a seminal view or a federal view. But they are both present in Scripture, there is Scriptural support for both, and both are true.

At the fall things changed. Prior to the fall love was man's point of contact. After the fall love could no longer be our point of contact because God was (and still is) perfect righteousness and man lost perfect righteousness and is now minus R. Because of that there is a divider between God and man which is called the sin barrier. On God's side what the righteousness of God rejects the justice of God condemns. It was necessary for God to condemn man because man did not measure up to God's perfect standard.

Did Adam's sin advance the plan of God? Never! Sin never advances the plan of God. What happened at Adam's fall because of sin the justice of God now condemns man. Because man is now condemned divine love comes into act as the motivator but is no longer the point of contact because justice stands in the way of divine integrity. God's love motivates God to provide a solution based on grace. Grace is unmerited and undeserved favour, it is the plan and the policy of God. This grace solution is based on the understanding of imputation.

Rom 4:8 quotes from the Psalms: "BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT [impute] TAKE INTO ACCOUNT." We have sinned, and what that verse is telling us is that God does not impute to us our iniquities. That is not the basis for our condemnation. The basis for our condemnation is Adam's original sin. Romans 5:12 NASB "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—" What kind of death is "death through sin"? The command in Genesis 2 focused on spiritual death, not physical death. Physical death is a consequence but physical death is not the issue. We see a very similar passage over in 1 Corinthians 15 where the subject is resurrection. 1 Cor 15:21, 22 NASB "For since by a man {came} death, by a man also {came} the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive." What is the point of these verses? Are they talking about physical death or spiritual death? They are talking about physical death because the issue is physical resurrection. Why is that important?

Physical death is the consequence of sin; spiritual death is the penalty. As a result of the penalty of spiritual death there is physical death in the universe. That means that there was no physical death in the universe prior to Adam's fall. We might ask: What about all the dinosaurs and fossils that we are told existed before man and had to die before man? Evolution is 180 degrees antithetical to Christianity. You can't merge them, mix them, or try to figure out some way of compromise at all because the Bible says death is a physical consequence, the result of Adam's sin, and it is specifically related to the cross. The cross resolves the problem of physical death and that is the point of 1 Corinthians 15 which concludes: "but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." That is, victory over physical death. That is the point of the cross. Physical death is part of the consequence of sin. If physical death happened before Adam sinned then physical death had nothing to do with sin, therefore it was not necessary for Christ to go to the cross. That is why evolution is a very subtle attack on the cross; it is a satanic attack on the very foundation of Christianity and the Bible. So we must either take the Bible literally and everything it says, from Genesis 1:1 on, or throw the whole thing out, because the Bible is an integrated whole.

1 Corinthians 15 deals with physical death. We know that because it focuses on the whole issue of resurrection and physical life, but Romans 5 deals primarily with spiritual death. 1 Corinthians deals with the consequence of the penalty for sin; Romans 5 deals with the penalty itself which is spiritual death.

The doctrine of divine imputation

The English word "imputation" comes from the Latin word imputarus. The Latin word means to reckon, to attribute, to ascribe something to someone, or to charge something to one's account. It is a commercial concept and it is a legal concept where you have taken on the full legal responsibilities for the payment of a debt. The apostle Paul uses the word in this sense in Philemon 1:18 NASB "But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account." Imputation is foundational to understanding grace. ellogeo [e)llogew] is a cognate of the verb logizomai [logizomai] and these are the basic words used for imputation in the Greek New Testament. In the Greco-Roman world at that time these words indicated a tremendous amount of responsibility and legal accountability. So Paul assumes that responsibility and that legal accountability on the part of the escaped slave Onesimus.

Theologically this has great implications. Just as Onesimus was a slave in the physical realm so we are slaves in the spiritual realm. The apostle Paul took on the debt of the slave Onesimus, and now that was Paul's debt. In the spiritual realm Jesus Christ will have our debt imputed to Him on the cross so that our minus-R is now imputed to Him with the result that eventually His plus-R, His perfect righteousness, can be charged to our account. Now what we have on our account, on our ledger, is perfect righteousness. That is imputation in a nutshell.

Theologically the word "imputation" is used to describe an act of God—specifically from the integrity of God or the divine justice—whereby either condemnation or blessing is ascribed, attributed, reckoned, given or imposed on the human race. It is the function of the justice of God directed towards man and is the foundation of all of God's plan for mankind. In the Greek we have the word logizomai, and in the Hebrew the word chashab which means to think, to count, to reckon, to attribute. One example in the Old Testament is Leviticus 17:3, 4 NASB "Lev 17:3 "Any man from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp [for food], or who slaughters it outside the camp, and has not brought it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to present {it} as an offering to the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD, bloodguiltiness is to be reckoned [imputed] to that man. He has shed blood and that man shall be cut off from among his people." The point is that this man is going out on his own, apart from the mandates of God. He is operating outside of the Mosaic Law and he is just slaughtering the sacrificial animal and is going to bring it in on his own. It is sort of comparable to going to Bible class without confession. He is not doing what is necessary to get into the presence of God. The point is that this is the word chashab, the word "reckon."

When talking about the theological concept of imputation there are three factors. They are the source, which is God Himself, the nature of the imputation, and the recipient of the imputation. There are two different categories of imputation that we must understand: real imputations and judicial imputations.