Many believers use some type of dictionary to aide them in their studies. In an attempt to gain a better understanding of certain words, we have used Strong’s Concordance, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, and Vine’s Expository Dictionary. Normally, what the dictionary defines a word to be is what we tend to accept and believe that word to be. But have you ever wondered how a word gets into the dictionary? We discovered that the dictionary is not designed to tell us what a word means. The dictionary is designed to give us the correct word spelling, to tell us the history of a word, to tell us how that word has been used throughout the years, and to tell us when it first appeared in the language.
It is interesting how the dictionary really works. The dictionary does not tell you what a word actually means; you tell the dictionary what a word means. Here is what we mean. You say what a word means, then someone else says what that same word means, and someone else says what that word means, until enough people agree as to the meaning of that word and then that word goes into a dictionary. The definition of a word is based on how a word is used in a particular culture, defined by the all the people who agree as to the meaning of that word. We know that for some of you, this will sound like something from way out there, but just go to your local library and find the copy of an unabridged dictionary, which usually located on the reference desk. In this dictionary, you may find one word, listed several times, spelled the same way, pronounced the same way, and having as many, if not more, different meanings, all based on what you and everyone has agreed as to what a word should mean. This was just a little bit of trivia that we found to be most interesting since so many of us use some type of dictionary on a regular bases and rely on them to aid us in our interpretation of the Bible.
In the Strong’s Concordance, the words all (3956), every (3956), and world (3956) are defined as individually as in each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything. Or, the word is defined as collectively as in some of all types. Using the word in this capacity does not necessarily mean all of something. According to the Strong’s Concordance, the words world and all are used in some seven or eight inferences within the scriptures, but they say it is very rarely that all means all persons, individually. Strong’s Concordance says these words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts; as in saying some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted his redemption to either Jew or Gentile.
In the following passage found in Romans 3:23, For all have sinned, and come (fall) short of the glory of God, do you believe the definition of the word all is intended to be one of those rare times when it is to be used individually or is it to be used collectively? Now that we have set the parameters and established several definitions, we will leave this question for you to ponder. Just know that whatever you decide the answer to be, it will be a determining factor in how you interpret the passage.
In the Strong’s Concordance, the words sinned (264) and sin (266) are defined as: to be without a share in, to miss the mark, to err, be mistaken, to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong, to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, that which is done wrong, a violation of the divine law in thought or in act, and collectively, the complex or aggregate of sins committed either by a single person or by many.
When one uses the word sin, it commonly infers personal sin, which may be one of commission or one of omission. Sin by commission is doing something that is prohibited. Sin by omission is failing to do what is required. Sin can express itself either as an act or as an attitude as in going astray, transgressions, or trespasses. But is this the only meaning of the word sin available to us or could there be another meaning for the word?&
In fifth chapter of Romans, we find that the word sin appears to be defined differently that what is traditionally known as personal sin. Here we find that Adam’s sin brought punishment to all. We see that when Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race and caused all mankind to be made sinners. It was his sin that spread death throughout world and caused death to be king over all mankind. But this is where the rubber meets the road, as the saying goes. This is where sin meets sin, where sin is pitted against sin. And no, this is not a play on words. We are talking about the traditional word sin verses the non-traditional word sin.
According to our definition of the non-traditional word sin, you are not considered to be a sinner strictly because of the things that you have done or will do. The overt act of you committing a so-called sin is not what makes you a sinner. It was the overt act of one man, the sin of Adam that made you and everyone else a sinner. As we see things, no one had any choice or say in the matter. By Adam being the federal and seminal head of the human race, his one disobedient act affected all of mankind. When he fell, he brought the curse of sin onto the entire human race, making everyone who came after him a sinner.
A more thorough examination of the non-traditional word sin, reveals God’s redemptive plan for all mankind as it was first predicted in the third chapter of Genesis, which has long been recognized as the first messianic prophecy of the Bible.
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).
Through the disobedience of one, many were made sinners. Conversely, by the obedience of one, many were given the opportunity to be made righteous. It is Jesus Christ, who brings forgiveness to many through God’s mercy, who freely took away sin, and replaced sin with glorious life. Because of Jesus Christ, all have the opportunity to partake of God’s gift of forgiveness and acquittal. Because of the righteousness and obedience of Jesus Christ, many have the opportunity to be made right and acceptable to God, so that they can live.
Because of what Jesus Christ has done, there is now resurrection from the dead available to all. Every one dies because we all are related to Adam, being members of a sinful race. But all who are related to Jesus Christ will rise again, becoming members of a spiritual race. Jesus is called the last Adam, which touches upon several mysteries contained in God’s redemptive plan, a plan that would reconciled us back to a state prior to the disobedient act of the first man. And while this obedient act of Jesus Christ has long been associated with the forgiveness of our personal sin, his obedient act is really associated with correcting the disobedient act of the first man Adam; an act that made all mankind sinners.
Through the shedding of Jesus’ blood, forgiveness and deliverance from our sins is now available to all. Because of the sinful act of one man, Adam, those sins were inherited and imputed. While the more traditional teachings about sin focuses on getting forgiveness of our individual personal acts of sin, that forgiveness is really a byproduct of a far greater act; an obedient act of one man that brought forgiveness to many, that took away sin, and that replaced sin with glorious life instead. Because of the obedient act of one man, Jesus Christ (the last Adam), many have been given the power to overcome sin in their lives. Sin versus sin, this really is not a play on words.
Enjoy your blessings and remember to be a blessing to others - KW