The first and last Adams


1 Cor 15 is obviously relevant to Paul’s Adam/Christ comparison.  Some of the language is picked up in the BASF.  However we should observe what Paul is saying rather than push the comparison further.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”  1Cor15:20-22

Paul in this quote, similar to Romans 5 states death came by Adam. In this instance he does not say that death came by sin – just man brought death.  Does this quote demonstrate that there was no death of any sort and/or that no man died prior to Adam?

The context counts. In V20 Christ is stated as the “firstfruits of them that slept”.  Is Christ the first one ever to rise from the dead?  In one sense no.  Christ personally raised Lazarus, Jarius’ daughter and the widow of Nain’s son.  Similar Elijah and Elisha raised young children. Clearly the passage is about more than a temporary new life.

Given this context about Christ, when we read “by man (Adam) came death”, do we have to believe this is the first death of any sort?  Such a reading is not consistent.  The context should govern our interpretation.  Paul draws a direct link between “as in Adam all die even so in Christ shall all be made alive”  Others were made alive before Christ and before the still future judgement seat in a limited sense.  Can we rule out others dying before being “in Adam?  No.

How should we understand Paul’s comments? In what sense is Christ the firstfruits, the first resurrected?  Well he clearly was the first raised from the dead to (ultimately) immortal life as a just outcome of God’s judgment.  So in this context I believe the quote is saying with Adam came morally deserved death, death as the wages of sin, a moral judgment.

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.  The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.”  1Cor15:45-47  KJV

Is Paul unquestionably asserting Adam was the literal first human and only human?

Roberts stated in 1888 that “Adam was formed directly from the dust of the ground shows that he was an original creation, and the first of his kind, as Paul afterwards calls him in the words “the first man Adam was made a living soul” (1 Cor. 15:45). Observe! the first man “made, ’ not the first man whom God took into covenant-relation[1]. As I have stated, I believe that God did make Adam as a special creation. However I suggest Bro Roberts (and others eg CC Walker writing in 1924[2]) places too much store on the use of 1 Cor 15:45 which the context doesn’t support.

It is worth noting that those of an Old Earth Creation view (like most of the pioneers including Bro Roberts) don’t read the verse literally – a charge they lay at the door of EC believers. Almost without recognising it, the OEC brother alters the text and reads ‘the first man [in this current creation] Adam…’.  I suspect this is not widely recognised by those who are simultaneously OEC and claiming those of an EC persuasion as ‘not reading literally’.

However, apart from the issue being a problem shared, this argument fails in the very passage put forward. If Adam was the first man, was Christ the last or the second?  Clearly not in the literal sense the OEC/YEC brother applies to the first part of the verse.  We cannot choose to read the first phrase literally (or literally with silent amendments as the OEC does) and then the second phrase spiritually.  There is no basis in Paul’s words to adopt two different modes of interpretation.  It’s literal or it is not.

Bro Perry however argues twofold that this verse disproves EC. He states:

“In types and shadows the general rule is that the spiritual resemblance is based upon the literal event. Adam was literally the first man and becomes a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. If Adam was not the first man literally, the type would be invalid. Hence the Theistic evolutionists interpretation is incorrect” and goes on to argue:

“Furthermore a key point in 1 Cor 15:45-47 is that there are only 2 federal heads. If there had been a parallel race of human-like creatures there would need to be 3 federal heads. The fact that the apostle limits the number to 2 is consistent with the Genesis account that has the entire race descended from one individual couple.”[3]

Bro Perry’s first argument fails quickly as he acknowledges he is relying on a “general rule” furthermore its a rule which is not set forth in scripture.  It is no more than his expectation – ie is not evidence.  He also makes no attempt to engage with what may or may not be in the scope of first man.  His second line of argument ignores the simple reality that there is only one shared state of humanity without Christ.  Hence there are only two classes of people, the implication otherwise is a strawman by bro Perry.  Clearly the federal heads are about association, not descent in any case, for no-one is descended from Jesus.

Adam was the son of God in the sense he was directly created (Luke3:38). He was the first to whom God was revealed and stands as the beginning of God’s revealed purpose. By default we are all in Adam – a representative man.  Christ is THE son of God and perfect manifestation of God’ purpose.  We are in Christ by association (not literal descent).

Paul’s point is not about literal numbers. Rather Paul is using the numbers as contrasting federal heads – two classes of people.



[1] Roberts, R “The First Man” The Christadelphian, 25(electronic ed.), page 618 (1888)

[2] Walker, CC “Evolution and the Bible” The Christadelphian, 61(electronic ed.), page 460. (1924)

[3] Perry, Phil 2016 “Theistic Evolution Refuted” version 1.9 page 16

2 thoughts on “The first and last Adams

  1. Pingback: The Lampstand July 2017 – who did Cain marry? | Christadelphians Origins Discussion

  2. Pingback: Whose are you? | Christadelphians Origins Discussion

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