A question we have asked before and we get asked still today. What happens in terms of God’s judgment to those who have never heard the gospel? Paul is answering a similar question about those before the Law of Moses. I find it a difficult read in terms of its grammar but here it is:
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned— To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.” (Romans 5 v 12-14)
So if there is no Law then there can be no sin? So those before Moses, were they sinners? Yes says Paul.
He takes us back to the beginning. The Hebrew reader when hearing the name Adam is actually hearing “man” or “human being” because that is its meaning. It is helpful to them for from the first story of sin they see all have sinned, man died because of their sin, just as much as Adam the first man did.
The law that they broke before the Law (of Moses) was the eating from the tree of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.
The Law of Moses brought clarity to the extent and separation that sin brings from God. The Law was God stepping in to say look what man is doing, look how far short man has fallen and the resulting death and separation. The Law created an opportunity for change but it pointed to the change-maker. As did Paul dropping in the thought of Christ who Adam was a pattern of.