Some people believe that humans were created to live a short time on earth, go through trials, enjoy some happiness, and then die and move on to a better place. According to this thinking, death is part of God’s purpose for mankind. The Bible, however, shows that death afflicts humans for a different reason. It says: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) This verse shows that people die as a result of sin. Who, though, is the “one man” through whom the fatal effects of sin infected the human race?
The World Book Encyclopedia observes that most scientists believe that all humans have descended from the same source, and the Bible plainly identifies that one source—the “one man.” At Genesis 1:27, we read: “God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them.”
Thus the Bible states that the first human pair were the crowning glory of Almighty God’s creation.
The Genesis record gives further details of human life after Jehovah God created the first human. Significantly, in that entire account, God made no mention of death except as a consequence of disobedience. (Genesis 2:16, 17)
He wanted humans to live on a beautiful paradise earth, happy and healthy forever. He did not want them to suffer the effects of old age and eventual death. How, then, did death become master over all mankind?
Genesis chapter 3 records how the first human pair made the willful decision to disobey their Life-Giver, Jehovah God. Consequently, God carried out the sentence that he had made known to them in advance. He told the man: “Dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) True to God’s word, the two disobedient humans eventually died.
The damage, however, reached far beyond the first human pair. Their disobedience dashed the prospect of perfect life that their offspring would have enjoyed. Jehovah included those yet unborn humans in his purpose when he told Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
In time, the human family would fill the earth and enjoy an immeasurably happy life without dying. But their forefather Adam—the “one man”—sold them as slaves to sin, with death as the inevitable destiny. The apostle Paul, a descendant of the first man, wrote: “I am fleshly, sold under sin.”—Romans 7:14.
Just as vandals have damaged priceless works of art in recent times, Adam, by sinning, seriously damaged God’s marvelous creation—humankind. Adam’s children had children of their own, then grandchildren, and so on. Each successive generation was born, grew up, produced offspring, and then died off. Why have they all died? Because they have all descended from Adam. The Bible states: “By one man’s trespass many died.” (Romans 5:15) Sickness, old age, a tendency to do wrong things, and death itself are sorry consequences of Adam’s betrayal of his own family. That family includes all of us.
In his letter to the Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote about the pitiful condition of imperfect humans, including him, and the frustrating struggle against the effects of sin. He exclaimed: “Miserable man that I am! Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death?” A good question, is it not? Who would offer Paul—and all others who yearn for it—rescue from enslavement to sin and death? Paul himself supplied the answer: “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:14-25) Yes, our Creator has made provision to rescue us by means of his Son, Jesus Christ.