The Difference Between “First Thoughts” and “Afterthoughts”: A New Testament Example

To illustrate the difference between First Thoughts and Afterthoughts further, let’s take an example from Romans 5. Speaking of the sin of Adam at the Fall and the corresponding Grace of God through the redemption by Jesus, Paul states in verse 15:

But the free gift is not like the trespass.  For if many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.

And just to make sure that there was no misunderstanding that the redemption of man is just as extensive as the fall of man, the Apostle repeats himself twice more in verses 18 and 19:

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification for all.  For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Now, contrast this to what later theologians did to Paul’s First thoughts.  St. Augustine and, later, Protestant Reformer John Calvin drew a conclusion from these verses that is very different from Paul’s clear teaching.  Somehow, they inferred that man’s redemption was not co-extensive with the condemnation.  To Augustine and Calvin, there is universal damnation in Adam, and only selective salvation in Christ!

Of the thoughts of the Apostle Paul, St. Augustine, and John Calvin, discussed above, which do you think might be First Thoughts and which are Afterthoughts?

This is not a quiz!  It’s just an example to get you thinking about, and sensitive to, the concept of First Thoughts and Afterthoughts.  The differences between them had a huge impact on the development of Christian theology.

Excerpts from the book “First Thoughts

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