by E.H. ‘Jack’ Sequeira
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul repeats to the Christians in Corinth the same ideas regarding the two Adams he had presented tothe Roman believers in Romans 5. Briefly, here is what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 15:19-23, 45-49.
Verses 19-20. Correcting those who denied the resurrection, Paul points out that the great hope of the Christian is to be raised to life. Christ Himself rose from the dead and is the firstfruits of those who are resting in their graves in Christ. Paul goes on to explain that this hope is not built on the foundation of our goodness, but on our position in Christ.
Verse 21. Since death came to the whole human race through one man (notice that the word man is singular and refers to Adam, according to the next verse), so through one Man (Christ) came resurrection from death.
Verse 22. Death came upon all of us because of our position in Adam. Likewise, resurrection and the hope of eternal life come to everyone who is in Christ. The expressions in Adam and in Christ imply solidarity or corporate oneness.
Verse 23. Christ, the prototype of all who are in Him, has already risen from the dead, thus guaranteeing that those who are His will be resurrected at His coming.
Verse 45. The first Adam was a created being that is, his life had a beginning and can, therefore, have an end. The second Adam (Christ) introduced the life-giving spirit, or eternal life.
Verse 47. The first man, Adam, was made from the dust of the earth; his character was likewise carnal, earthly. The second man, Christ, was from heaven. His character was spiritual, godly.
Verse 48. Just as the children of the earthly Adam reflect his earthly (sinful) nature and character, so those who belong to the heavenly Christ will reflect His heavenly (righteous) nature and character.
Verse 49. Just as we all, by nature, are a reproduction of the earthly image of Adam, so likewise we shall reflect fully the image of Christs resurrected nature at the second coming [see 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; Romans 8:23-25; Philippians 3:20-21].
According to 1 Corinthians 15:21-23, 45-49, there have been only two heads of the human race Adam and Christ, who is the last Adam [verse 45]. The destiny of the entire human race rests upon these two. Adam is the prototype of unredeemed humanity; Christ is the prototype of redeemed humanity. What is true of Adam is true of those who are in him, and what is true of Christ is true of those who are in Him. Adams situation after the Fall is the situation of all the unredeemed. That which Christ realized for all mankind will be the situation of the redeemed. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive [1 Corinthians 15:22].
Christs resurrection is the guarantee that all who belong to Him by faith will be raised to life at the second coming. Christs righteousness, not our self-righteousness, qualifies us for heaven now and in the judgment.
In verse 45, Paul calls Christ the last Adam. In verse 47, he refers to Him as the second man. These terms have important implications. As the last Adam, Christ was the sum total of all that is comprehended in the first Adam. As the second man, He is the head of a new, redeemed race. Having gathered unto Himself all those who belonged to the first Adam, Christ superseded the whole Adamic race when He died on the cross. There He met the just demands of the law on our behalf [see 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Peter 2:24] and died the second death as the representative of the whole human race [see Hebrews 2:9]. In this way, He abolished death [see 2 Timothy 1:10].
Then, by His resurrection, Christ qualified to be the second man, the head of a new, redeemed hummanity who are in Him [see 2 Corinthians 5:17].
The Two Adams Summarized
Lets summarize what we have learned from this detailed study of Pauls teaching about the two Adams.
God will judge each of us on judgment day based on the deliberate choice we make concerning the two Adams. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live [Deuteronomy 30:19].
The clear teaching of the two Adams is that our hope rests entirely on Christ, our righteousness, for no one will be declared righteous in [Gods] sight by observing the law [Romans 3:20; cf. Galatians 2:16]. Those who are justified by faith in Christ shall live [see Romans 1:17; Hebrews 2:4; Philippians 3:9].
At creation, God made Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life so that Adam became a living person [see Genesis 2:7]. The corporate life that Adam received from God was perfect and sinless, dominated by selfless love (agape), for he was created in Gods image, and God is agape [see Genesis 1:26; John 4:24; 1 John 4:8, 16]. After God created Adam and his companion, Eve, He commanded them to multiply His life and fill the earth with men and women who would reflect His character [see Genesis 1:28]. This was Gods original purpose for the world.
Unfortunately, before they could begin the multiplication process, Adam and Eve fell into sin. This affected the corporate life of Adam in three ways:
Since the whole human race is simply Adams life multiplied, these three results of Adams sin passed on to all of us. Thus, the life we receive at birth is:
This is our situation in Adam, and we can do nothing ourselves to change it. In Adam we have all sinned, we are in bondage to sin; we must all die. Without the gospel, in other words, we are hopelessly lost and doomed forever.
Christ was made flesh to deliver us from this situation and to restore Gods original purpose for us. He came as the second head of Adams race and introduced the reign of grace through His perfect life, death, and resurrection. The fallen human race is Adams sinful life multiplied, but the body of Christ, His church [see Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13-14], is Christs righteous life multiplied [see Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:11; 1 John 3:1-2].
Through His indescribable gift [2 Corinthians 9:15], God has changed our hopeless situation in Adam and has given us a new identity and hope in Christ. At conversion, or the new-birth experience, we receive the very life of Christ [see John 3:3-6]. This life, the corporate humanity that Christ assumed and that we receive by faith in Him, is:
All these facts become reality for us when we receive this life by faith. This life justifies us because it perfectly obeyed the law and met its just demands on behalf of our sins. It is also able to deliver us fully from the slavery of sin and produce in us the very righteousness of God, since it has already accomplished this in Christs humanity [see 1 Timothy 3:16]. Finally, this life will raise us from the dead and guarantee us eternity, for it is eternal life [see John 3:36; 6:27; 1 John 2:25].
All who are in Christ have these privileges. As we learn to live by His life, instead of our own natural life, we truly abide in Him [see John 15:4-8]. We walk in the light and in the Spirit [see 1 John 1:6-7; Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16]. In later chapters, we will see that Christs life abiding in us and dominating us is the means of our sanctification. Paul calls this Christ in you, the hope of glory [Colossians 1:27]. In Christ, we possess a life that is greater than the power of sin and the devil [see 1 John 4:4]. When this new life takes over, sin will be put to death in our lives, and Christ will be revealed [see Romans 8:9-14]. This is how the earth will be lightened with the glory of God through His people. This will be Gods final display before Christ comes [see Revelation 10:7; 18:1].
The doctrine of the two Adams is of utmost importance to understanding the objective gospel and justification by faith. But it is also of great practical value to our Christian expaerience because the fruits of this doctrine lead to holy living, or sanctification. You will know the truth, Jesus said, and the truth will set you free [John 8:32].