Summary: Luke leads us from Jesus back to Adam, but Paul leads us from the old Adam to the new.


Luke 3:23-38; Romans 5:12-21.

Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, a voice from heaven declared, “You are My beloved Son; in whom I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). This was not the way Jesus’ neighbours would view Him: to them, He was ‘the carpenter’s son’ (Matthew 13:55); ‘Jesus, the son of Joseph’ (John 6:42).

Immediately after the declaration of Jesus being the Son of God (Luke 3:22), Luke presents us with a genealogy which begins with the words, “Jesus… being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph…” (Luke 3:23). The parenthesis “(as was supposed)” had to be stated first, as Luke had already taught the Virgin birth in his opening two chapters!

Matthew, in his regal genealogy of Jesus Christ, is also careful to steer away from any impression that Jesus is of the seed of Joseph: no, his genealogy ends with, ‘Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus’ (Matthew 1:16). Jesus is of the ‘seed of the woman’ (cf. Genesis 3:15), not of the man! The paradox of the incarnation is: that just as Jesus is fully God; through Mary He is also fully man.

Nevertheless, Luke presents us with a genealogy which links Jesus with Adam, who is somewhat surprisingly styled ‘son of God’ (Luke 3:38). What is going on here? Well, whereas Matthew had been at pains to prove his thesis, ‘Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham’ (Matthew 1:1); Luke was adding to that the idea of Jesus as the new Adam (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:45).

In Romans 5:12, the Apostle Paul tells us that sin came into the world through one man. That man was our first father, Adam, the representative head of humanity and ancestor of us all. On the basis of this doctrine Paul rests his whole argument in Romans 5:12-21, where he compares and contrasts Adam and Christ.

Adam was held accountable for the eating of the forbidden fruit, and we all also suffer the consequences of that first sin, just as surely as if it had been ours. The result of one man’s offence was condemnation for all men, and one man’s disobedience made many sinners (Romans 5:18-19).

Paul tells us in Romans 5:12, “Sin came into the world, and death through sin.” Later he adds, ‘The wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). This was just what Adam had been told by God (Genesis 2:16-17). When Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he died a spiritual death, and became liable to physical death.

Adam forfeited a life of fellowship with God. God’s anger turned against His beautiful Creation, and He cursed the ground (Genesis 3:17). Death entered the world. Man became inclined to all kinds of evil.

“Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way, death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). In Adam, all die (1 Corinthians 15:22).

In comparing and contrasting Adam and Christ, the Apostle Paul does not leave us dead in our sins but balances our predicament with what he calls “the free gift” (Romans 5:15).

Death became necessary as soon as man sinned, but Adam and Eve were not struck physically dead on the day of their sin. God was making provision for their salvation. He promised that the woman would have a descendant who would crush the devil, and that descendant was Jesus, ‘born of a woman, born under the law’ (Galatians 4:4).

So Paul argues here: “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many” (Romans 5:15). Jesus is introduced as the new Adam, the new representative head of humanity.

“Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18 -19).

The first man Adam, the representative head of humanity, ushered in death through sin. In a passage which echoes Romans 5:12-21, Christ is seen as the new representative head of humanity, ushering in a new economy as the first-fruits from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:21-22; cf. Romans 5:17).

Luke has led us from Jesus back to Adam, but Paul has led us from the old Adam to the new Adam. Now those who accept Him are made righteous in Christ (Romans 5:21). Death has lost its sting through His resurrection, and we have eternal life in Jesus.