Summary: Adam, as founder of the human race sinned, bringing death to himself and posterity, but the apostle Paul argues that Christ, the LastAdam, brought life through his death on the Cross.
ADAM - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
When our Lord walked this earth, the Jews of his day had a special reverence for two of their founding fathers - Abraham and Moses. Their importance in God’s revelation of himself and their significance in the story of his plan of salvation for mankind is seen in the many references to them in the New Testament scriptures. But there’s third personality referred to by Jesus and, especially, the apostle Paul, who’s the key to our understanding the Gospel of God’s grace to mankind. His name is Adam.
Well, who was Adam? The first chapters of Genesis tell the story of Creation. God made this world - it isn’t an accident - it didn’t come into being by chance - and, as its climax, mankind. Scholars of ancient Hebrew say that the name "Adam" in fact means "man", but it also is a proper name in the same historical sense as Abraham and Moses. The story of Adam and Eve has often been relegated to that of "myth", meaning that it contains a theological truth but isn’t a fact of history. It’s been grouped together with crude legends preserved by other ancient races. But Scripture will not allow us to do this. Perhaps there are some symbolic elements in these early chapters, but this doesn’t mean that we should doubt that Adam and Eve were real people.
Scripture clearly intends us to accept that they were the founders of the race of human beings that God created in his own image. The genealogies in the Gospels trace the human race back to Adam. Jesus himself taught that "at the beginning the Creator made them male and female" (Matt 19:4). The apostle Paul told the Athenian philosophers that God made every nation "from one man" (Acts 17:26). The several billions of human beings now living on Earth share the same anatomy and genes, all pointing to a common ancestor. It’s what Adam did in rebelling against his Creator and what God did in response that has shaped the course of history, and that affects each one of us.
On 11 May 2000 a lady found a new e-mail message on her computer, which simply said, "I love you". It looked innocent enough, perhaps even romantic. Like most of us would, she clicked to open the message, and the so-called "Love Bug" was born. With lightning speed it raced around the world, bringing politics and business to a halt. It was a deadly computer virus that caused millions of computer software programmes to crash. One virus, but so much contamination. But it’s not the first time that a single virus has caused so much grief to mankind. In fact, it’s a kind of replay of a deadlier virus that hit Planet Earth more than six thousand years ago polluting the first human couple, Adam and Eve. Despite God’s warning not to click on to Satan’s message, they did so with appalling consequences for them, and through them to all mankind. That virus is called "Sin".
It’s impossible to understand the chaotic state of the world and it’s tragic condition unless we understand how the first humans fell from their state of being sinless and immortal to falling into sin by their own choice. In doing so they brought death not only on themselves but on all their descendants. The sin of the one was the sin of all. The apostle Paul devotes a chapter in his letter to the believers at Rome to demonstrate the principle that many can be affected, for good or ill, by one person’s actions. He argues the case that it was through one man, Adam, sin entered the world. The result of that sin was death, and so death came to all because all share in Adam’s sin of self-assertion and deviation from God’s command. That’s the bad news.
Planet Earth is God’s creation and he made it a perfect world. The whole story of the human race can be summed up in terms of what has happened because of Adam and what has happened and will yet happen because of Christ. God created Adam in his own image as a perfect man as the zenith of his creation. Adam, together with Eve, was placed in a wonderful estate somewhere in the Middle East, in all likelihood, near the Persian Gulf. It was named "the Garden of Eden". It was a perfect environment. And what a wonderful life it was for the first couple! They didn’t have to earn their food by the sweat of the brow - just to pick the fruit! God had placed them in a beautiful garden. Adam was the park keeper, the estate manager.
It was all sheer enjoyment. There was no evil, no cause for unhappiness at all. It was a place where God talks with man. The highpoint of the day was when God would come to meet Adam "in the cool of the evening" and have fellowship with him. God had made man in order that he might have this companionship. Man would also benefit for being made in God’s likeness he needed communion with his Maker. It’s been said that man has a "God-shaped gap" in his make-up. It was a state of perfection - a state of innocence - a state of perfect bliss.