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Christian Biblical Studies
Scripture citations are to the New International Version-U.K. print edition of 1984.
THERE IS THE Adam of Genesis and the Adam of the Gospels, who is Jesus. The text quoted above distinguishes them by the Greek words protos and eschatos respectively. See Mark 9: 35 (ʻif anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last . . .); Luke 13: 30 (ʻthere are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be lastʼ) (emphases added).
Though it is not incorrect to refer to Adam and Jesus as first and second, it is perhaps more accurate to regard them as the original and the final Adam respectively. For Jesus is not merely the next in a series, as in one, two, three, etc. He replaces the Genesis Adam, and becomes the ultimate Adam. The implicit contrast is carried further in the text, noting that the original Adam was the receiver of (mortal) life, whereas the final Adam is the giver of (eternal) life.
Jesus is identified unambiguously by others and by Himself as ʻthe Son of Godʼ (Matt. 4: 3). He is occasionally called by others and Himself, ʻthe Son of Davidʼ, following the Jewish tradition of asserting one's cultural or religious lineage (Matt. 15: 22). And it was common for a son to be linked not only with his father, or a trade, but with a personality, as with James and John, real sons of Zebedee, but styled by Jesus ʻSons of Thunderʼ (Mark 3: 17).
But Jesus also frequently referred to Himself as ʻthe Son of Man [Gk., anthropos]ʼ. He did not mean by this that He was just one of the people or of ordinary human descent. The Scriptures plainly declare that He was not (John 1: 14). At no time did Jesus refer to Adam as His father. But Jesus was nonetheless the pre-eminent (outstanding) representative of the human family. As such He was the heir to headship (Lord) over the human family, purchasing this right through His sacrificial death (Rom. 14: 9). In plain terms, He became the new owner.
This title, Son of Man, applied to Jesus before and after His resurrection. See Mark 13: 26, ʻthe Son of Man . . . coming in clouds with great power and gloryʼ; Luke 18: 8, ʻwhen the Son of Man comes . . .ʼ). See also Matt. 16: 13-16, in which ʻthe Son of Manʼ (v. 13) is regarded by Peter as synonymous with ʻthe Son of . . . Godʼ (v. 14).
As the federal head of the human family, Adam had recklessly plunged the entire human family into the slavery of sin and death. For the race to be recovered from this condition and restored to soundness, a new federal head was needed. Jesus was the equivalent of Adam before Adam fell, and in offering Himself as the Ransom-sacrifice He thus replaced Adam.
To many Christians, it will seem perverse to claim that the underlying principle of Jesusʼ sacrifice is transactional – as if one were buying merchandise. This reaction is understandable. However, the terms used in the Scriptures do more than simply hint at the commercial implications. Even the English words reflect the meaning of the Greek terms from which they are translated. For example, ʻredeemedʼ in Gal. 3: 13 and ʻpurchasedʼ in Rev. 5: 9 are translations of exagorazo, which means to be ʻbought-out from the marketplaceʼ. The claim in 1 Tim. 2: 6 that Jesus was ʻa ransom for all menʼ is based on the meaning of antilutron, which signifies a redemption-price, and the usual meaning of ʻransomʼ.
For the purposes of the legal transaction which is the Ransom-sacrifice, it is not sufficient to argue that the atonement work was accomplished merely by Jesusʼ obedience cancelling out – or neutralizing – Adam's disobedience. It is much more than that. For there is an irrevocable principle of Justice involved in the proceedings, the understanding of which is not mysterious, but accessible through logic and an examination of the relevant Scripture texts.
Divine Justice is an absolute law, like other fixed laws of Godʼs universe. And in the salvation process He chose to demonstrate this in such a way as to make it plain that Justice had been done. The outcome is a fair and equal one, not merely an optional, sentimental or biased treatment of favourites. It is on this solid-rock foundation of Justice that the believer is justified.
The Apostle Paul clarifies the philosophy of the ransom in Romans 3: 25-26, in which he sets forth the justification for Justification (italics added for emphasis):
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.
By the word ʻatonementʼ, v. 25 evokes the mercy-seat or propitiatory (Gk., hilasterion), the atoning place in the most holy of the Tabernacle, before which the sacrificial blood was sprinkled by the high priest. Paul here shows how the immutable righteousness of God contrived to recover the sinner. In doing so, God made the first approaches to us, before we ever could approach Him. See also Heb. 9: 12:
[Christ] entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption [Gk., lutrosis; ʻransomʼ].
In short, God cannot refuse to justify the believer, for He has chosen to obligate Himself to do so, the underlying guarantee being the Ransom-sacrifice of His Son. There are no ifs, ands or buts about the process.
The relationship between Adam and Jesus is evident in the following passages.
1 Cor. 15: 22 – ʻFor as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.ʼ
Rom. 5: 18, 19 – ʻConsequently, 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. 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.ʼ
God cannot condone unrighteousness and yet can be just and still justify the sinner. The legally-righteous foundation having been laid in the Ransom-sacrifice of His son, God's Power is free to operate without restraint on behalf of fallen humanity. This guarantee of God's adherence to His own laws assures Christians that God is utterly trustworthy, His promises irreversible. The law is on our side.
Justice also underpins the roles of Jesus as Advocate for the believers, and as Mediator for the world. These are separate and distinct offices and operate at different and distinct periods. But both rest on the same principle of Justice demonstrated by the Ransom-sacrifice.
As an advocate, Jesus pleads on behalf of the believer, not on the basis that he or she is a ʻniceʼ person or a particular favourite, but on the legal basis that Christ has died for him or her. As a mediator – a future, Millennial office – Jesus interposes Himself between two parties who are at variance – God on the one side and the world of mankind on the other. He will reconcile them ʻby his own bloodʼ, the price paid.
Of course, nothing said here is intended to underestimate the role of God's Mercy, an exalted divine attribute (hence, mercy-seat). It was Mercy in conjunction with Wisdom and Love that devised the plan of salvation, and Power which carried it forward.
Christ Jesus was, is and forever shall be, unique. None can replace Him. He is the eternal Saviour, exalted representative of the eternal Father. As Adam was a unique creation, separate and distinct from the animal life which preceded him, so his counterpart, Jesus, had no precedent. 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 final Adam will bless the faithful among resurrected mankind with perfect life and a perfected earth, Eden restored, the Father glorified (1 Cor. 15: 25-28; italics added):
25 For [Jesus Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last [final] enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he ʻhas put everything under his feetʼ. Now when it says that ʻeverythingʼ 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 [God] who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
April 2014. The usual and natural author rights are asserted, except that you may reproduce this article in whole or in part without express permission, but please acknowledge its source.