In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul preaches to the church at Corinth the same truth about the two Adams that he preached to the church in Rome. As a brief overview, let us notice what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:19-23; 45-49.
Verse 19, "If we have hope in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied". (New American Standard Bible throughout).
The Order of Resurrection
Verse 20. "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep".
Paul, in correcting the wrong concept of those who denied the resurrection, shows that the great hope of the Christian is to be raised to eternal life. Christ Himself rose from the dead and became the "firstfruits" of those who are at rest "in Christ" and awaiting the resurrection. Then he continues to explain that this hope is not based on our righteousness, but on our position "in Christ".
Verse 21. "For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead".
As 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 the resurrection from death.
Verse 22. "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive".
Death became the fate of all mankind 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. "But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,"
Christ, the prototype of all that are in Him has already risen from the dead, guaranteeing that, those who are His will be resurrected at His appearing.
Verse 45. "So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit".
The first Adam was a created being, that is, his life had a beginning and therefore can have an end. The second Adam (Christ) introduced the life-giving spirit, or eternal life.
Verse 47. "The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven".
Adam was made from the dust of the earth; his nature was likewise carnal, earthly. Christ, was from heaven. His character was spiritual, godly.
Man Reflects His Corporate Oneness
Verse 48. "As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly".
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 have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly".
Just as we all, by nature, are a reproduction of the earthly image of Adam, so likewise we shall reflect fully the image of Christ's resurrected nature at His second appearing (see Romans 8:23-25; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; Philippians 3:20,21).
Man Receives Corporate Destiny
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 head of unredeemed humanity; Christ is the head of redeemed mankind. Adam is separated from God, so are those who are "in him". Christ is unified with God, so are those who are "in Him". Adam's situation after his transgression is the situation of all the unredeemed. That which Christ experienced for all mankind will be the situation of the redeemed. "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Christ's resurrection is the absolute assurance that all who are "in Him" by faith will be resurrected to life at His second appearance. It is Christ's righteousness, not our own righteousness, which qualifies us for eternal life.
In verse 45, Paul refers to Christ as the "last Adam", In verse 47, he referred to him as the "second man". These terms have important implications for us. As the "last Adam", Christ was the sum total of all that is encompassed 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 (2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Pet 2:24) and died the "second" death as the representative of the entire human race (Heb 2:9). In this way, He abolished death (2 Tim 1:10). Then, by His resurrection, Christ qualified to be the "second man", the head of a new redeemed humanity who are "in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Synopsis Of The Two Adams
Let us note what we have learned from this detailed study of the apostle Paul's teaching about the two Adams.
1. Adam's sin brought all mankind under the death sentence, i.e. both the first and second deaths.
2. Christ's obedience saved all man-kind from the second death and pronounced the verdict of justification on all mankind. Through His crucifixion, Christ experienced and abolished only the second death, the curse of the law (Hebrews 2:9; 2 Timothy 1:10; Galatians 3:13). Since believers die the first death, the gospel obviously redeems us only from the second death (Revelation 20:6).
3. The force which supports the parallel between Adam and Christ (Romans 5 :12-21) depends on the concept of the solidarity of mankind in Adam and in Christ. The word Adam appears 510 times in the Old Testament. The vast majority of these usages point to a collective significance. In the same sense of collective solidarity, the New Testament calls Christ the "Last" or "Second" Adam.
4. Salvation from the second death and the verdict of justification to life is God's supreme gift in Christ to all mankind (John 3:16). This is the message or the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, like any gift, it must be received in order to be enjoyed and experienced (Romans 5:17). Those who consciously, willfully and persistently reject God's gift of salvation in Christ are deliberately choosing the second death. Therefore, in the final judgment God bestows on them what they have deliberately and persistently chosen. They have no one else to blame but themselves when they face the second death (John 3:18,36; Mark 16:15,16).
5. Every human being, from the moment it is born as a little baby, is subjectively under the rule of sin, condemnation and death because of Adam's transgression (Romans 3:9-20). If we continue to live under this reign of sin and resist the grace of Christ, we will experience the second death. But objectively, Christ has delivered each of us from this reign of sin by His holy life and sacrificial death. He has placed us under the reign of grace, righteousness and eternal life. To accept this gift by faith is to forsake sin and death forever and to embrace eternal life (Romans 5:21;6:14, 22-23).
6. We cannot choose to remain in Adam while at the same time accepting by faith to be in Christ. To receive Christ, the author of righteousness, means to renounce Adam, the author of sin (Romans 6:15-18).
7. Our eternal destiny depends upon which humanity we have chosen. Unbelief means deliberately choosing to remain "In Adam" and the reign of sin and death. Belief means deliberately choosing to be "in Christ" and the reign of righteousness and eternal life. This is why God will not close the history of mankind until all have had the opportunity for salvation. This opportunity comes through hearing the word of God.
God will judge each human being during his time of judgment based upon the deliberate choice he makes concerning the two Adams. Those of us who have the opportunity for salvation as part of the first fruits of God's harvest are being judged today. Others will be judged at different times of judgment shown in the book of Revelation and pictured by the annual Holy Days that are given in Leviticus 23. (If you don't understand the symbolism of these days please contact us at United Christian Ministries and we will be glad to help). Whenever man is judged it will be based on the same factors, i.e. whether we are "In Adam" or "in Christ". That's why God says to every man "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).
The clear teaching of the two Adams is that our hope rests entirely on Christ who is our righteousness, for "by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His (God's) sight" (Romans 3:20). Those who are justified by faith in Christ shall live (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 (Genesis 2:7). The corporate life that Adam received from God was perfectly sinless, for he was created in God's image. 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 (Genesis 1:28).
Unfortunately, before they could begin the process of procreation, Adam and Eve violated God's perfect will, which is sin. This affected the corporate life of Adam in three ways:
1. His sinless life became guilty of sin (Genesis 2:17; 3:6-7).
2. His guilty life came under the condemnation of the Law, the penalty of which is death (Ezekiel 18:4,20).
3. His perfect, sinless life became a sinful life. Instead of being in submission to the spirit of love, it came under the bondage of Satan and sinful self-love (Isaiah 53:6; John 8:34; Philippians 2:21; 2 Peter 2:19).
Since the whole human race is simply Adam's life multiplied, these three results of Adam's sin passed to all of us. Thus the life we receive at birth is:
1. A life that has sinned (Romans 5:1).
2. A life that is condemned by the law. This means that the just demands of the law leave us with the fate of eternal death (John 3:36; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Revelation 20:14-15).
3. A life that is in bondage to sin and the devil (John 8:34; Romans 7:14; 1 John 3:8).
This is our situation "In Adam", and we cannot change that in ourselves. "In Adam" we have all sinned; we are in bondage to sin; in other words, we must all die. Without the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are hopelessly lost and doomed forever.
Christ was made flesh to deliver us from this situation and to restore God's original purpose for us. He came as the second head of Adam's race and introduced the reign of grace through His perfect life, death and resurrection.
The unregenerate human race is Adam's sinful life multiplied, but the body of Christ, His church (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13-14), is Christ's righteous life multiplied (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:11; 1 John 3:1-2).
Through His "unspeakable 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 begettal of the Holy Spirit, we receive the very life of Christ (John 3:3-6). This life, the corporate humanity that Christ assumed and that we receive by faith in Him, is:
1. A life that has perfectly obeyed the law in every detail (Matthew 5:17; Romans 10:4);
2. A life that has condemned and conquered the power of sin in the flesh (John 8: 46; Romans 8:2-3);
3. A life that Christ submitted to the full wages of sin at the crucifixion (Romans 5:8, 10; Philippians 2: 8).
4. A life that has overcome death and the grave (1 Corinthians 15:55-58; Hebrews 2:14-15).
All these facts are imputed to and 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 impart to us the power to perform the righteousness of God since it has already accomplished this in Christ's humanity (1Timothy 3:16). Finally, this life will raise us from the dead for it is eternal life.
All who are "in Christ" have these privileges and blessings. As we learn to live by His life, instead of our own human lives, we truly abide in Him (John 15:4-8). We walk in the light and in the Spirit (1 John 1:6-7; Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16). Christ's life abiding in us influencing and leading us is the means of our sanctification. Paul calls this "Christ in us, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:2). In Christ, we possess a life that is greater than the power of sin and the devil (1 John 4: 4).
The doctrine of the two Adams is of utmost importance to understanding the objective gospel and justification by faith. It is also of great practical value to our Christian experience because the fruits of this doctrine lead to holy living. It will also give you freedom in Christ for Jesus said: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free".
May God bless you as you seek His grace and truth.
Written by Ray Wooten,
Evangelist, United Christian Ministries
P.O. Box 1505
Pelham, Alabama 35124-5505
Web page: United Christian Minsitries