Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume V/On Nature and Grace/Chapter 48
Chapter 48 [XLI.]—How the Term “All” Is to Be Understood.
His opponents adduced the passage, “All have sinned,” and he met their statement founded on this with the remark that “the apostle was manifestly speaking of the then existing generation, that is, the Jews and the Gentiles;” but surely the passage which I have quoted, “By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men; in which all have sinned,” embraces in its terms the generations both of old and of modern times, both ourselves and our posterity. He adduces also this passage, whence he would prove that we ought not to understand all without exception, when “all” is used:—“As by the offence of one,” he says, “upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of One, upon all men unto justification of life.” “There can be no doubt,” he says, “that not all men are sanctified by the righteousness of Christ, but only those who are willing to obey Him, and have been cleansed in the washing of His baptism.” Well, but he does not prove what he wants by this quotation. For as the clause, “By the offence of one, upon all men to condemnation,” is so worded that not one is omitted in its sense, so in the corresponding clause, “By the righteousness of One, upon all men unto justification of life,” no one is omitted in its sense,—not, indeed, because all men have faith and are washed in His baptism, but because no man is justified unless he believes in Christ and is cleansed by His baptism. The term “all” is therefore used in a way which shows that no one whatever can be supposed able to be saved by any other means than through Christ Himself. For if in a city there be appointed but one instructor, we are most correct in saying: That man teaches all in that place; not meaning, indeed, that all who live in the city take lessons of him, but that no one is instructed unless taught by him. In like manner no one is justified unless Christ has justified him.
- Rom. iii. 23.
- Rom. v. 12.
- Rom. v. 18.
- Compare De Peccatorum Meritis et Remissione, i. 55.