Well, Paul who wrote Romans also wrote to Timothy:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
In saying "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine" Paul's reference is to the Old Testament of our bibles which was the Scripture of the day. Paul is saying this set of books is important and valuable for obtaining information for the purpose of doctrine.
This is the Scripture that tells us that a man is not held guilty for the sin of a parent.
Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die.
The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
So, none of a father's children are held guilty for the sin of that father. This is clear from "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father" This tells us that in regards to Adam's sin - none of us his children - are held guilty. And since it is also explicit "The soul who sins shall die" both in Verse 4 and Verse 20 the Lord is emphatic that death we experience is not due to Adam's sin, but our own. But, it is important to note the death here is not physical death in view, but separation from God.
What else does this Scripture - the Old Testament - tell us to prepare us to read Romans 5?
Well, to reinforce that sin is what separates from God and whose sin is in view, I think the following is helpful:
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.
The Lord says to Israelites it is their sin that separates them from God. Sin acts like a cloud: a good pictorial example of what separates from the sun. So sin separates from God and it is our own sin and no one else's - not even Adam's.
Then, there is the truth that this Scripture also gives us to know that we are all born righteous.
Truly, this only I have found: that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.
By using the words "this only I have found" a reference is held to the context that the writer is speaking about: He is writing about what he had observed in his lifetime. We are all born, not sinners, but righteous and innocent, but very quickly we then all go on to sin from an early age. This is why we can say from this passage alone that babies that die go straight to 'heaven'. If we were born sinners - born separated from God - then all babies that die would do so separated from God.
Why this truth from this passage has been missed by many is the way another earlier passage has been translated.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you1 shall surely die."
When Adam was to eat of the forbidden fruit he was to "surely die", so having died - it is understood - his separation from God was total and permanent for him and his posterity: all of us the children of Adam are born dead spiritually it is argued. But, does this passage say that?
I have borrowed most of the following from the chapter GENESIS 2:17 from my book Serious Mistranslations of the bible (pages 165-167):
This passage is used as one of the fundamental texts to a doctrine that began to take effect in the church in the 5th century. This is the doctrine that "free will is not": man is unable to choose to do good as he is dead spiritually inside and his "fallen" state inherited from birth is what limits what free will he has: his free will is bound to his fallen nature. This was the beginning of the unconditional predestination dogma in the history of church doctrine. It is assumed that the emphasis of death in Genesis 2:17 is simple and absolute and this is thereby used as a foundation to this theology.
Here is Young's Literal translation of this passage:
and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it - dying thou dost die.
Genesis 2:17 Young
Here is the note that is added to the NKJV above for the 1:
1 Lit. dying you shall die
Other versions have the same as a note. Here is the one from one of my KJVs:
Heb. Dying thou shalt die.
This note is important in the world of doctrine and theology as any version that omits this in this verse
whilst purporting to be an accurate or good translation, as opposed to a paraphrase, is guilty of misleading the reader. It would be better to translate the whole fully.
If man in eating the fruit of the tree died completely, then without new assistance from God no man henceforth born of Adam is able spiritually at all. But the literal Hebrew is clear that a process of dying is involved and not the complete event of death. A paraphrase therefore that gives the idea that the death is immediate or complete is equally misleading. Here is the bad example of The Message bible:
The moment you eat from that tree, you're dead.
Genesis 2:17 The Message
Not exactly an accurate rendition of a process of dying, is it?
It may be the warning wanted to be conveyed by the translator more than the exact meaning of what would happen. It serves well in that emphasis. But without a note a paraphrase with the intent on assisting truth for doctrine may prefer something like this:
The moment you eat from that tree, you're going to experience death.
Genesis 2:17 JM
The moment you eat from that tree, you're going to lose life.
Genesis 2:17 JM
For the other versions where expansion of meaning is limited then a note is recommended.
Lit. Heb. dying you shall die
To the New Testament
Spiritual death is also in view. When we read in Ephesians that,
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air...
We read here death is mentioned. It is not physical death, but instead a spiritual death in view. We see this in that death is mentioned as present when the readers once walked in sins and trespasses. Whilst alive physically, Paul explains, they were dead by the practise of sin. So death in the sense of separation from God is what Paul is writing about here.
But this does not mean Paul spoke about spiritual death at all times. It is clear that in Romans whilst writing about a marriage being over, thus freeing the remaining partner to remarry, physical death is in view:
For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.
So, death in Ephesians 2:1 is about a spiritual death - a separation from God; and death in Romans 7:2 is about a physical death - a separation from biological life: once the husband is dead the remaining wife who is still alive on earth is then free to remarry.
. . . if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.
But, which of these two deaths is in view when Paul mentions death in Romans 5?
Well, since it is Paul writing and, we already can recognise that in Ephesians 2 a spiritual death is in view - a separation from God - and this is the manner of thinking which Paul held, then it will help us to look a little further in Ephesians 2.
God . . . when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) . . .
With spiritual death in view, here Paul writes about God's grace and salvation in Christ. In being made alive and mentioning salvation, it is eternal life that is in view. So when we read in Romans 5 about eternal life obtained by grace just like Ephesians 2, then this is the recognised thinking of Paul, and it is natural to see the death in view here is also a spiritual death.
. . . so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let's recap. Paul's thinking in Ephesians 2 is revealed about spiritual death. This separation from God and thus eternal life is made possible by Christ and this is also by grace. Using the same words and phrases that Christ and grace are in view as well as eternal life, then it follows Paul in Romans 5 is talking about spiritual death which sin reigned in.
So, back to our question:
Are we born separated from God according to Romans 5?
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned-
Is Paul saying here that Adam's sin is the cause of death to all men?
Is separation from God for all due to Adam's sin?
Well, the added words should dispel that thinking
"because all sinned
Because saying "because all sinned" is a clarification clause to remove any such thinking: "because all sinned" tells us that no, it is not Adam's sin that causes our death and separation, but our own sin is what causes our own death and separation.
Perhaps it is clearer if we take a look at a more literal translation of the verse:
because of this, even as through one man the sin did enter into the world, and through the sin the death; and thus to all men the death did pass through, for that all did sin;
Romans 5:12 Young
Paul is talking about the introduction of death - separation from God into the world, this was done by "the sin" of the "one man" but then he goes on to say it passed on to all men through their own sin which is the purpose of the clause "because all sinned".
So can Romans 5 be used to say we are born separated from God?
I have given my reasons for saying: no.
To confirm that thinking Paul then also said,
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.
Paul is using the word polloi = many twice - it is not "all" therefore who will be made righteous: only those with faith in Christ he had made plain in Romans 4 ('his' preceding chapter) " 'it was accounted to him for righteousness' . . . Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him" (Romans 4:22-24). Righteousness was imputed (accounted/given) to Abraham because he believed what God said to him. Paul in Romans 4 used this fact to explain that it is an individual's faith and not any reliance on keeping the law that established righteousness. Paul is thereby saying that just as it is by an individual response by faith in Jesus one is made righteous, "so also" it is by an individual's own sin one is made a sinner. If Paul meant everyone - ALL - were sinners due to Adam, this qualifying sentence in Verse 19 using POLLOI - MANY is there to remove such an idea. Added to the clear understood recognition that not all will be saved, but only those with faith in Jesus will be made righteous, as per Romans 4, we can see they will be accounted righteous because of 2 things: Jesus' obedience paying the debt by paying the price (R5) and the individual's faith to qualify for imputation (R4). This verse 19 alone reveals the impossibility to consider Adam's act of sin accounting all as sinners, we are thereby not born separated from God according to Romans 5.
We are all accounted as sinners because of our own sin. Because,
. . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Paul mentions that both Gentiles and Jews - the all in view here - are reckoned as sinners, because all have sinned.
Other passages which are used to 'say' we are born separated from God:
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,
and were by nature children of wrath
as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive
1 Corinthians 15:22
This is used to say we are all dead spiritually and therefore separated from God from birth. In fact the word "in" is not in the Greek here, but "the trespasses and the Sins" are in the Dative to emphasise that the death mentioned is by means of the practise of sinning and trespassing: also known as the instrumental use of the Dative: they were dead by means of the sins and the trespasses which they were carrying out; no one else's.
This is read to mean "by nature" that this is talking of a natural birth, whilst Paul precedes this with "we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath" (Eph. 2:4). Paul is saying, as earlier in verse 1 in the Greek understood, that the practise of sinning is what caused this nature to be there.
Just as the Lord told Cain, "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." (Genesis 4:7) If, you do not rule over sin then, it rules over you and you are its slave: you are then by nature a child of wrath. As Jesus said, "whoever commits sin is a slave of sin" (John 8:34)
This is taken to mean, there you have it, we all die because we are all in Adam: it is all Adam's doing. Whilst Paul instead is having a whole discussion about resurrection and preceded this passage with "For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:21-22) Adam introduced death in the world so also resurrection Jesus introduced (of the permanent kind - since all resurrected before went on to die again: e.g. Lazarus [John 11]). So, as we sin, as Adam did and thus introduced death, so death we experience too through our own sin - in the same manner as Adam - and so "in Christ", if we also go on to become in Christ, we too shall all be made alive and experience that same resurrection. Hallelujah!
Check out the YouTube video (12:12) by the same name:
ARE WE BORN SEPARATED FROM GOD
ACCORDING TO ROMANS 5?
And check out the shorter video (3:44) entitled:
ROMANS 5:19 OBLITERATES ORIGINAL SIN
The following article also answers many questions
EACH OF US ARE IN THE BOOK
FROM OUR BEGINNING