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Christian Biblical Studies
THE LAST ADAM
Scripture citations are to the New International Version, Anglicised Edition.
Question: 1 Corinthians 15: 45-47:
45 So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.
In what way is Jesus the ‘last Adam’?
Answer: The Scriptures reveal many similarities between Adam and Jesus. A discussion of this subject basically splits along two lines: (1) those who believe that Jesus is a Person in the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and therefore eternally Divine; and (2) those who hold that Jesus was a human being, separate from the Father. Within these two viewpoints there is a range of interpretation.
Those Christians and unbelievers who hold that Man has evolved from other forms of life will find this subject irrelevant. The analogy of Adam and Jesus cannot hold up within a framework of human Evolution. Indeed, the doctrine of human Evolution eviscerates the theology of salvation which runs through the entire Biblical text. To put it crudely: ‘No Adam, No Jesus.’
This Equals That
According to the Apostle Paul’s statement quoted in the Question, Adam was the first in time; Jesus was the next in time (‘last’ or ‘second’). There were two only.
As the progenitor of the whole human race, Adam stands as the representative or corporate head of humanity. As the one who purchased the whole human race from death, Jesus (Christ) stands as the representative or corporate head of (the future) restored humanity. Adam bestows death on mankind; Jesus bestows life on mankind (1 Corinthians 15: 22):
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
And Romans 5: 18-19:
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
The parallel illuminates the necessity of the Cross. Jesus surrendered His life (Himself) as an equivalent offset to the life of Adam, who had forfeited his by disobedience. In this life-for-life transaction Jesus technically buys Adam and Adam’s condemned race: ‘[Jesus] gave himself as a ransom for all men’ (1 Timothy 2: 6). ‘Ransom’ is here the translation of the Greek antilutron, and carries the thought of a legal payment to buy; that is, a price equivalent to the thing purchased.
Jesus = Adam
The first part of the parallel: Adam was directly created by God and thus was morally and technically perfect.
The second part of the parallel: Jesus was the direct, only-begotten son of God, with no contamination from Adam’s stock, and was morally and technically perfect.
In this way, the entire race is purchased by the ransom.
The Apostle Paul amplifies the philosophy of the ransom in Romans 3: 25-26, in which he sets forth the justification for ‘Justification’:
25 God presented [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished 26 — he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
From Adam to Jesus
What of the intervening period between Adam and Jesus? From Adam’s fall onward, all people were regarded by God as having no right to life, and therefore as dead (Luke 9: 60: ‘Let the dead bury their own dead . . . .’) Not one of Adam’s race could be a ‘second’ Adam because no one was a perfect being. Jesus did not inherit Adam’s stock (sin, imperfection), but He was human through His mother, Mary. That it was necessary for Jesus to be the equivalent of Adam demonstrates that Jesus was wholly a mortal man – not a God-Man.
In light of all the New Testament texts which speak of Jesus exhibiting human qualities (tears, tiredness, pain, suffering), and His numerous statements that show He was not God, most Christians accept an adjusted view of the Trinity in order to blunt the contradictions. Thus they assert that though Jesus was ‘100 percent God’ He was also ‘100 percent Man’. And, they claim, since no Person in the Trinity could die, only the Man side of Jesus could have been crucified.
However, in order for Jesus’ ransom to truly redeem Adam’s race, it was necessary that Jesus be the equivalent in nature of Adam – not more and not less. Had Jesus been an ordinary man, imperfect, and thus less than Adam, He could not have paid the ransom for Adam. Likewise, had Jesus been a deity, a God-man, and thus more than Adam, He could not have paid the ransom for Adam.
In the strictest terms and facts of a commercial transaction does the Bible set forth this matter which is of the greatest possible moment in the whole plan of God, for the ransom doctrine is the hub from which all the teachings of the Bible, as spokes in a wheel, emanate, on which they are based, and about which they revolve. It is for this reason that those who deny the ransom in its Biblical sense deny logically every Scriptural teaching.
[Paul S.L. Johnson, Christ-Spirit-Covenants (Philadelphia: Laymen’s Home Missionary Movement; 1950), p. 161.]
God Is Holy
This view of matters brings understanding to the principle of Divine Justice delineated in the Old Testament regulations and its types and shadows, the offerings of bullocks, goats, and so on. See Deuteronomy 19: 21: ‘life for life’; and Hebrews 9: 22-23, with reference to the offerings in the Jewish Tabernacle: ‘the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.’
All this explains how God – who cannot condone unrighteousness – can be just and yet justify the sinner. The legally-righteous foundation having been laid down by the ransom-sacrifice of His son, God’s grace and love is free to operate on behalf of fallen mankind. This guarantee of God’s righteousness – His adherence to His own laws – assures Christians that God is utterly trustworthy and His promises irrevocable. The ‘law’ is on our side.
Jesus died and was raised a Divine being to live and reign at the right hand of the Father Almighty. When God’s kingdom is set up in the earth, Jesus, the ‘second’ Adam, will bless the faithful among resurrected mankind with perfect life and a perfected earth, Eden restored (1 Corinthians 15: 25-28):
25 For [Jesus Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he has put everything under his feet. Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
Copyright November 2011 ukbiblestudents.co.uk
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