The First Adam & The Last Adam

Adamic theology is prominent in Paul and it’s there even when it’s not clearly spelled out or clearly implied. It’s especially prominent in 1 Corinthians 15:21-58, noting 15:45; Romans 5:12-21, noting 5:14.

The two are set over against one another as two sources of humanity—humanity, but humanity viewed as existing in two different worlds and in two different modes. I don’t mean that Adam was the source (with Eve) of truly human beings and Jesus is the source of a race of non-human beings! No! Paul presents Jesus as the source of Adam’s children, redeemed and ultimately fitted for a new, enriched and glorified, immortal mode of living as humans.

In the first Adam our history as humans is one of choosing alienation from God, the source of life and as a consequence we chose Death. Choosing SIN is choosing alienation. Sin doesn’t only result in alienation—it IS alienation. In this we followed our father Adam and the result is the same in life now and as it will be at the close if indeed our life ends “in Adam.” Note the summary of humanity’s history in Adam in Romans 5:12-21 that is spelled out in more detail in Romans 1:18—3:20.
Those embraced in the redeeming work of God in Jesus Christ have rejected alienation from God and in Jesus Christ they accepted a new beginning, a new birth, a new creation status—they accepted the reconciliation offered by God in the Lord Jesus. See 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.

In union with the first/old Adam Sin and Death entered humanity’s experience and in the “last” Adam Righteousness and Life enters (1 Corinthians 15:21-22,45 and Romans 5:14). Those who by faith are immersed into the Lord Jesus (the last Adam) resurrect in the “new Man” and are part of Him (1 Corinthians 6:15, 17, noting 1 Corinthians 12:12 and “so also is Christ” rather than “so also is the Church”—in both cases the body metaphor is dropped to stress the intensity and depth of the new relationship).
In that faith exchange (which is a central notion in the word kattalage rendered reconciliation) from the first Adam to the Last Adam, human history changes. The believer by faith commits herself to the Lord Jesus who freely and graciously chose to share death with sinners in order to destroy Death and Sin that reigns in Death (Hebrews 2:14; Romans 5:21).

Such believers do that in and by being baptized “into Christ” and “into His death” and so now in living hope they look for the personal and actual experience of the glorification He currently and alone enjoys. His personal experience of resurrection and immortal glory is the believer’s assurance as is His indwelling by His Spirit (1 Peter 1:3; Romans 8:17-30; 2 Corinthians 1:23). Jesus is not only alive “at the right hand of God exalted”—He is alive and is the source of our life in us (Romans 8:11, passim).
In confessing this faith in and by burial and rising in baptism, believers stress the radical difference between human life-history as seen in Jesus and that of the first Adam. And, in that faith commitment to Jesus they stress the difference in the life chosen by those who insist on a life in Adam “the old man” (Rom 6:6) and that of one who chooses life in the Last Adam.
Those who choose life with Adam and that life-history are bound to it, as a woman is bound to a husband and they experience the consequences of such a relationship with such a husband. The fruit of such a marriage is Sin & Death (Romans 7:1-3). In and through the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the former husband (the “old man” to whom sinners are bound) dies (Romans 6:6) and that leaves them free to be married to a new husband—Jesus Christ, and in Him the righteousness (relational fidelity) God always looked for is fulfilled (Romans 8:4).

(If this is thought interesting and thought useful, God enabling, we’ll say some more.)

This entry was posted in REFLECTIONS ON THIS AND THAT on by .

About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.

3 thoughts on “The First Adam & The Last Adam

  1. Jenny Lain

    I love this…
    I have thought often about Adam and Jesus, but in another direction of coarse. I can see the very first and last duty God gave to man Genesis 2:15 “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.” John 21, “Take care of my lambs… Feed my sheep… Follow me…”

    In the separation I feel we have lost our sense of responsibility. Just a thought


    1. Jim McGuiggan Post author

      Wouldn’t we both like to think you are incorrect? But I’m certain you are correct, Jenny Lain. Wonder how that happens? More importantly, I think, I wonder what the cure is. Beyond being told, “Do this” which requires us to be able to do what we want help to be able to do—what will help us to renewal? I’m very pleased to see your name Jenny. thank you for stopping in. always, jim.



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