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Thursday
Jan032013

Theological Term of the Week

last Adam
A designation for Jesus found in the writings of the Apostle Paul. In bringing redemption, as the last (or second) Adam, Jesus represents those united to him, and thus becomes the inaugurator of the new humanity. In contrast, the first Adam represented all of humanity in the first sin and thus became the inaugurator of sinful humanity.

  • From scripture:
  • Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—[13] for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. [14] Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

    [15] But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. [16] And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. [17] For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

    [18] Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. [19] For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. [20] Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, [21] so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-21 ESV)

    For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22 ESV) 

    Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. [46] But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. [47] The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. [48] As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. [49] Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven (1 Corinthians 15:45-49 ESV)

  • From The Christian Faith by Michael Horton:
  • The eternal Son is the archetypal pattern—the true Son and Image of the Father—according to whom the Spirit creates (and re-created human beings as ectypal copies. Is is no wonder, then, that the Son—after completing his own work—sends the Spirit to inaugurate a new creation on the pattern of his own glory, both as God and as the glorified new Adam. 

    In this way, protology (“first things”) and eschatology (“last things”) are coordinated. Paul demonstrates this expecially in 1 Corinthians 15: “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the las Adam became a life-giving Spirit… . Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (vv. 45, 49). We receive our original nature (both its glory and its corruption) from the first Adam, but we receive our eschatological identity as part of the new creation from the Last Adam, who has triumphed over sin and death and entered as our head into his Sabbath enthronement. 

Learn more:
  1. Theopedia: Jesus as the second Adam
  2. John Samson: Two Federal Heads - Adam and Christ
  3. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary: The Second Adam
  4. Herman Ridderbos: Firstborn from the Dead: The Last Adam

Related terms:

Filed under Person and Work of Christ

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