Updated date:

The First Adam and The Last Adam. The Mystery of Man in The Mystery of The Word Incarnate

the-first-adam-and-the-last-adam-the-mystery-of-man-in-the-mystery-of-the-word-incarnate

St. Paul tells us that the human race takes its origin from two men: Adam and Christ Jesus. To show the relationship between the two figures, Christ has been referred to as the second Adam, and sometimes as the last Adam. Various striking correlations have been proposed by theologians to express this unique relationship. The first man, Adam, is said to be a living soul, the last Adam a life-giving Spirit. The first Adam was made by the last Adam, from whom he also received his soul, to give him life. The second Adam stamped his image on the first Adam when he created him; that is why he took on himself the role and the name of the first Adam, in order that he might not lose what he had made in his own image. The first Adam, the last Adam: the first had a beginning, the last knows no end. The last Adam is indeed the first, as he himself says: '‘I am the first and the last’'. Can we understand the place of Adam in creation and redemption without a correlation to Christ? What can we say about the mystery of man without Christ? In reality, it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear.

The first Adam was made by the last Adam, from whom he also received his soul, to give him life. God said: ''Let us make man in our image according to our likeness''; and ''the Lord God formed man…and he breathed into his nostril the breath of life and man became a living being'' (Gen 1:26; 2:7).

This passage (Gen 1:26) is one of the four ''divine plural'' passages (the others are Gen 3:22; Gen 11:7; Is 6:8). These texts strongly convey the doctrine of Trinity, the interior plurality of the Divine. ‘Eloam’ is the Hebrew word for God. In the divine plural passages, the plural form ‘Elohim’ (gods) is used, and Elohim goes with a singular verb. This use of the singular verb suggests that although the persons in Elohim is plural, they are seen as one; three persons, one God. The making of man and indeed the whole creation was the work of the Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In the beginning was the Word…all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made (Jn 1:1-3). The New Testament reveals that God created everything by the eternal Word, His beloved Son. In him, all things were created, in heaven and on earth…all things were created through him and for him (Col 1:16-17). Thus the first Adam was made by the last Adam, the Word gave him life. It is the Word made flesh in Jesus who created in the beginning.

God created man in his own image. The Lord God formed man out of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. In Sacred Scripture the term “soul” often refers to human life or the entire human person. Soul also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him, that by which he is most especially in God’s image. This soul and image of God makes man the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake, and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity.

the-first-adam-and-the-last-adam-the-mystery-of-man-in-the-mystery-of-the-word-incarnate

The first Adam is a living soul, the last Adam is a life-giving spirit. So also it is written, the first man Adam became a living soul; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit (1Cor 15:45).

Adam is suffused of the breath of God, he is a unique living soul, a composite of flesh and blood. By his virginal conception, Jesus, the new Adam, ushers in the new birth of children adopted in the Holy Spirit through faith. Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s womb because he is the new Adam, who inaugurates the new creation: The first Adam was from the earth, a man of dust; the second Adam is from heaven. Participating in the divine life arises not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God. From his conception, Christ’s humanity is filled with the Holy Spirit, for God gives him the Spirit without measure.

We need the substance of Christ in everything we do. There is nothing we can do without Jesus. He makes himself available to us, not simply as someone who will come to our aid, but as someone who will reside in us and manifest himself in our lives as our very life. The last Adam and the life-giving spirit is Christ who after the resurrection became a life-giving spirit to germinate the new creation. Christ as the life-giving spirit imparts himself as life into all of his believers; Christ with all his attainments is now the spirit, setting us free from all enslavement.

Jesus as the life-giving spirit can dwell in all believers and in each believer and they will have Christ in his fullness. As Christ dwells in us, he makes it possible for us to communicate with him and to know him. From his fullness as the head of redeemed humanity, we have all received grace upon grace.

the-first-adam-and-the-last-adam-the-mystery-of-man-in-the-mystery-of-the-word-incarnate

The second Adam stamped his image in the first Adam when he created him. That is why he took on himself the role and the name of the first Adam, in order that he might not lose what he had made in his own image. When the fullness of time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the law, to redeem the subjects of the law and enable us become sons (Gal 4:4-5).

Adam and Eve were created in the image of God and in their original perfection which was indeed virtuous and noble. However they sinned and lost the original perfection. Even now, in the noble and upright of the world we can see traces of the original divine likeness still remaining. The glorious nature of man became deformed. Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us light; captives, we awaited a savior; prisoners, help; slaves a liberator.

After his fall, man was not abandoned by God. On the contrary, God calls him and in a mysterious way heralds the coming victory over evil and his restoration from his fall (cf Gen 3:9-15). This passage in Genesis is called the first gospel (Protoevangelium): the first announcement of the Messiah and Redeemer, of a battle between the serpent and the woman, and of the final victory of the descendant of hers. The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the new Adam who because he became obedient unto death, even death on a cross makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience of the first Adam.

Several models are used in the New Testament to proclaim Christ’s person and work. Some of these appeal to the role of Christ in creation. In the prologue of John’s gospel there is a studied parallel between the Genesis creation and the new creation in Christ. One notices John’s skillful adaptation of the Jewish tradition on the creative work of God. It is the Word made flesh in Jesus who created in the beginning, it is this same Word that has come to the world to redeem it. There is an equally striking use of the Word in Hebrews Chapter One. God spoke in many ways through his prophets, but in the last days through His Son, the heir of all things, through whom this world was created. The Son through whom all things were created comes to redeem it.

The unity of creation and redemption in Christ is clear in Ephesians and Colossians (Eph 2:16; Col 1:20). God attached so much importance to man’s salvation that he did not spare his own son for the sake of man. Nor does He ever cease to work, trying every possible means, until He has raised man up to Himself and made Him sit at His right hand. We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. He has come to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son. Jesus radiates the perfection that we lack and that he has wrought for us. In what rich abundance they must have been exemplified in Jesus, the perfect counterpart of the first man Adam. Of Jesus it is written that he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners (Heb 7:26).

the-first-adam-and-the-last-adam-the-mystery-of-man-in-the-mystery-of-the-word-incarnate

The first Adam, the last Adam: the first had a beginning, the last knows no end. The Lord God breathed into his nostril the breath of life and man became a living being (Gen 2:7); and Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years and died (Gen 5:5).

In the Beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God (Jn 1:1). We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one being with the Father. Beginning is a time word. For him who existed eternally and was not made, he has no beginning nor end. Melchizedek is said to be one who nothing is said of his beginning or the end of his life. He is made to be like the Son of God, who remains a priest forever (Heb 7:3).

Jesus does not have a beginning for as the second person of the Blessed Trinity he always was with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Although he took on the human flesh and entered into the realm of time, he was still both God and man and since he is fully God and man he retained his divinity. Having no beginning and being eternal, He will have no end. Jesus is timeless, his infiniteness made it so. Adam has a beginning and indeed his life ended, but Christ the last Adam reigns with the Father for all ages unending.

the-first-adam-and-the-last-adam-the-mystery-of-man-in-the-mystery-of-the-word-incarnate

The last Adam is indeed the first, as he himself said: ''I am the first and the last. I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End'' (Rev 22:13).

Jesus is the beginning and end of our history. All about human life, existence and salvation begins and ends in Christ Jesus. I am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Rev 22:13). This is a clear attestation to the eternal nature of Christ the last Adam. Jesus is the link between protology and eschatology, creation and salvation. The awareness of Jesus’ significance in the world gives impetus to the belief in Jesus’ mediation of creation. I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty. (Rev 1:8)

The ''one like a son of man'' whom John sees in the midst of the seven lampstands in the opening vision announces himself as the first and the last, and the living one. He was dead, he is now living for the ages of the ages, and he has the keys of death and of Hades. Jesus also speaks of himself as the first and the last, who died and came to life (Rev 2:8). When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, do not be afraid, I am the first and the last, and the living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forever and I have the keys of death and of Hades (Rev 1:17-18).

Christ is also the first and the last with reference to the material universe. The eternal Christ was present at the creation event and he was an active agent in the process. Jesus said to the Jews, before Abraham was, I am; that is, he existed (Jn 8:58). Even before Adam was created, Jesus the Word of God was participating with his heavenly Father in the works of creation. He was the beginning of God’s creation (Rev 3:14), without him was not anything that was made (Jn 1:3).

If Christ is the first then he was not created because he was begotten of the Father before the beginning of time. And if he was not created, then he is eternal and therefore he is God. Truly Christ existed with the Father before time as the begotten son. If therefore he is one with God and truly God, he will continue to exist as the last of all things.

Christ the last Adam

  • Not one of His bones shall be broken. Preservation i...
    Certain signs and prophesies were linked to Jesus as the messiah and saviour. The gospel of John highlights one of such prophesies in the event of Jesus’ crucifixion and death: Not one of His bones shall be broken (Jn 19:36). However, how do we bring

Related Articles