The Old Adam and the New Adam


When Paul talks about the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, he solicits imagery that brings the overarching story of the Bible together (1 Cor. 15:20-28). He compares Christ to Adam. Death came through Adam and life comes through Christ. Death came through a man and therefore life must come through a man. Paul isn’t just giving us details as to what happened in the world with two separate events. He is painting a picture of what God intended to do, is doing, and will do in the end. To better understand what God is doing in the Resurrection, we first have to understand what God intended with Adam and Eve. This then sheds light on what our purpose is in Christ.

Look back to Genesis 1:26-31. God creates Adam and Eve as His image bearers. They are the image of God in the Temple God calls creation (This is why they were to not make an image of God because they were supposed to be the image of God). What does it mean that Adam and Eve were to rule over the creation? What does that rule look like? Did you imagine a ruler like we see in the world around us or a ruler who rules like Christ does?

Mark 10:42-45

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

God desired Adam and Eve to be co-rulers with him in Creation. Their reign took the form of gardening. Adam and Eve were together with God in the Garden and were co-Gardeners with Him. When He blesses them and tells them to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28), God intends for them to create and recreate the community that He formed in the Garden. His intention was that the earth would be this perfect community where these image bearers would co-rule with Him over His creation.

When Adam and Eve reached for the Fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they reached for the ability to decipher for themselves what “Good and Evil” were in their own eyes. They wanted independence from God, the one thing they didn’t have in the Garden. The consequence of this action was death. We live within the sins of Adam and Eve because death still reigns. When Paul uses the Old Adam and New Adam imagery in Romans 5:12-21, he points to death’s reign over creation because of the sins of Adam.

When we look at Christ, Paul says we are looking at the New Adam. God made the first Adam a co-ruler over creation and that Adam wanted to be the sole ruler, placing God under his feet. The New Adam is the co-ruler with the Creator and has brought life back into the world. He places all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be conquered is death. This is our hope. Not our wishful thinking. Hope is assurance. We hope in the Resurrection. We are invited into the New Creation and to be citizens who co-rule with Him. We are the Body of Christ as co-rulers with God. The New Adam will come, He will restore the Creation, bringing the New Garden (2 Peter 3:1-13), and make all things new (Rev. 21:5).