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The Two Adams

"So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (1Cor. 15:45).
"Therefore, just as through ONE MAN sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned (Rom. 5:12).
Adam, and his rebellious act of disobedience in the Garden, is the "one man" through whom sin entered into the world. When he disregarded the specific commandment of God and freely ate of the fruit from the forbidden tree (Gen. 2:17), the divine penalty of death was immediately enacted and death spread to ALL MEN "because all sinned" (with Adam). The divine view presented in Scripture is that Adam is the "federal head" of mankind, all men born OF Adam are IN Adam, and "in Adam all die" (1Cor. 15:22).

The King James version utterly obscures Romans 5:12 by incorrectly translating it, "for that all have sinned." The implication being death as the result of personal sins. Actually, the Greek aorist tense is used in the last clause and a single, historical act completed in the past is indicated. So, grammatically, it is correctly rendered "all sinned." The point being communicated in the text is that by Adam's federal representative act ALL Adam's posterity acted when he acted. In other words, all sinned in Adam, hence,... "in Adam all die" (1Cor. 15:22). An actual imputation of the Adamic sin is denoted.

This Biblical principle is elsewhere demonstrated in the book of Hebrews.

"And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him" (Heb. 7:9-10).
Federal headship is implied in this passage in that Abraham's descendent, Levi, who received tithes from his brothers, is said to have acted while still in the loins of his father Abraham when he (Abraham) paid tithes to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20). Scripture views Abraham's payment of tithes to Melchizedek as a federal act.

The divine penalty of death referenced in the Romans 5:12-14 passage is primarily referring to physical death. Unlike spiritual death which reaches every individual mediately, that is, inherited or transmitted from parent to child through birth due to Adam's corrupt nature, Scripture reveals that our physical death is immediate, that is, a shared penalty because of guilt with Adam. "And death spread to all men because all sinned." No one dies physically because of personal sins (due to an inherited corrupt nature) but because of the actual, imputed sin of Adam to us. Adam's transgression involved his whole race and therefore it is under a sentence of death which it did not bring upon itself.

Only Adam died because of the result of a personal sin which was a transgression of a specific commandment, all others die as a result of Adam's federal representative act.

But God, infinitely wise and rich in mercy and grace, did not intend to leave humanity under the Adamic, divine judgment and condemnation of death. In verse fourteen Adam is called a "type" of Him who was to come. Another Federal Head was anticipated and 2000 years ago He came into the world in the Person of Jesus Christ, the "second man" whose origin is from heaven, called the "last Adam, "a life-giving spirit" (1Cor. 15:47). And according to the Scriptures, God now sees but two men, i.e., two Adams and their representative acts and each member of the human race in either one or the other. The unregenerate are in Adam; the regenerate are in Christ and eternally benefit from the "free gift" which comes through Him.

Verses fifteen through nineteen compare the two Adams, their representative acts and the direct results toward those connected to them:

In verse:

15: By the transgression of the one the many died; but much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

16: Judgment arose from the one transgression which resulted in condemnation; but the free gift through Jesus Christ (the Last Adam) resulted in justification.

17: By the transgression of the one death reigned through the one; but those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the One Jesus Christ.

18: Through Adam's one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men ("in Adam"); through Christ's one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men ("in Chist").

19: Through the one man's disobedience we were made sinners; through the obedience of the One (the second man, the Last Adam), we believers are made righteous.

It must be clearly understood that the great truth of Romans 5:12-21 is that a representative acted, directly involving those connected with him. God sees humanity either IN ADAM, under divine judgment and condemnation of death, or IN CHRIST (the Last Adam), under the abundance of divine grace, eternally justified and IN HIM made righteous (1Cor. 1:30; 2Cor. 5:21; Phil.3:9).

Those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are no longer in Adam (of the Garden) but IN CHRIST, the LAST ADAM, his new Federal Representative.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life" (Jo. 5:24).

"So also it is written, "the first man Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit" (1 Cor. 15:45)

Reader, to which Adam do you belong?

Written by Gary Nystrom

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