Is all Humanity Worthy of Eternal Judgement?
Does Paul teach that all humans are deserving of eternal punishment because of the original sin of Adam? This is the predominant thought of Christianity in the west, but I don’t believe it is so of Christians in the East. The thought that God has burning anger within Himself for all people which is only quenchable by eternal torment is often backed up by Paul’s teaching in Romans chapter 5, 6, and 1 Corinthians 15. So does this teaching stand the test of clear exegesis? Are all men worthy of eternal wrath in the lake of fire?
Romans 5:12-17 NET
“So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned – for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam (who is a type of the coming one) transgressed. But the gracious gift is not like the transgression. For if the many died through the transgression of the one man, how much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ multiply to the many! And the gift is not like the one who sinned. For judgment, resulting from the one transgression, led to condemnation, but the gracious gift from the many failures led to justification. For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ!”
Here in Romans 5 we don’t see Paul make any mention of “the lake of fire” or eternal death, but just simply death. Paul is teaching that death has been around from the beginning, even before the Law of Moses, because of the sin of Adam. That’s it. We see death reigning in humanity, but we don’t see eternal condemnation being taught as man’s reward for Adam’s sin.
“For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Again no mention of eternal torment seen here. We only see that God judges mankind with death initially, but believers are freed from death and instead live forever; have eternal life.”
1 Corinthians 15:20-23
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him.”
Just like in Romans 5 Paul is contrasting Adam to Jesus. In Adam all die and in Jesus all live. He does not say that in Adam all are condemned to eternal torment, but death only. This death that Jesus frees humanity from is done away with when He returns, before the great judgment.
While the teaching of eternal punishment for the wicked is a true teaching, the teaching that all humanity is worthy of eternal punishment is not. Paul teaches in Romans and 1 Corinthians that Death is what all humanity inherits from Adam and not Adam’s personal guilt. God judges every man according to His deeds and He will give everyone what they deserve for what they have done on the final day.