Jonathan Edwards on Original Sin (Part 23)
Observations on Romans 3:9-24.
I. Scriptures represent "all mankind as wicked in their first state, before they are made partakers of Christ's redemption," thus mankind is wicked by nature.
II. Universal Terms in Rom 3:9-24
A. The Wickedness of the Gentiles
B. The Wickedness of the Jews
III. Answers to Objections
A. If universality is denied, then the Apostle's conclusion is unsupported by his argument.
B. No one denied that there were a great many wicked people in Israel's history; if universality of wickedness is not the Apostle's point, then it leaves him arguing against no one.
C. This universal natural wickedness cannot be understood as collective, allowing for numerous individual exceptions, because:
1. Such an understanding would do violence to the language utilized by the Apostle:
a. There is no other passage in Scripture containing such a multitude of phrases indicating a universal, extensive reality (and if these phrases do not indicate a universal, extensive reality, what language could be utilized to communicate this concept?);
b. "Every mouth," "not one," and other phrases are designed specifically to indicate individuals within groups; "every mouth" in particular cannot be understood to speak only to a collective "mouth" belonging to the Gentiles and the Jews, at least not if one understands there to be numerous exceptions among these two groups;
2. If wickedness is only understood in a collective sense, then (in accordance with how the terms are used in this passage) justification must also be understood in a collective sense, but justification is seen as personal (note especially the discussion of justification in Rom 4:5-8 and the personal, individual nature of the OT texts cited by the Apostle in Rom 3-4).
IV. Rom 3:9-24 Presents Natural Depravity as Total
A. "All mankind are by nature corrupt."
B. "Everyone is altogether corrupt."
C. "They are in every part corrupt to an exceeding degree."
1. Total corruption is indicated through the mention of various body parts.
2. Total corruption is indicated through denying that natural Man does any good or has any spiritual knowledge.
3. The forcefulness of the language is chosen to indicate the extreme and desperate wickedness of the natural Man's heart.
Labels: Reformation Theology