close
BibleTeaching SeriesTheology

adam and eve and the new covenant

maryconsoleseven

[Note: This post coincides with week 3 in our Origins series: Paradise Lost. If you haven’t heard that message yet, it might be better to go there and give a listen first. Also, don’t forget to sign up for email alerts! Enjoy!]


Adam and/or Eve are mentioned a handful of times in the New Testament, always with something helpful to teach us. In this post, we’ll look at those instances and ask how these references contribute to our understanding of human origins, how we interpret the Bible, and the good news of Jesus.

1. Jesus and Marriage and Singleness

Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

(Matthew 19:4-6)

In response to the Pharisees’ questions about divorce in the law of Moses, Jesus points back before the law to God’s original design. This is good wisdom whenever we feel pulled into debates about this or that command of Scripture. Always look for the love that precedes the law.

Even though this debate was initially about divorce, Jesus makes it about marriage, and eventually singleness too as a high calling of God (read on in Matthew 19). Adam and Eve are a model for marriage, for companionship, and for the value of men and woman being friends and partners together.

And since Jesus refers to Adam and Eve (though not by name) as real examples, this also supports the view of their historic reality. Still, some Christians point out that it may also be that Jesus is referencing God’s first story, his first parable. Just like we might draw on the Parable of the Prodigal Son for teaching truth. (This line of reasoning could also be used for Jesus’ reference to other Old Testament stories, like Jonah in the belly of the big fish.) 

As an aside: notice above that Jesus says he is quoting “the Creator” saying “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother…” etc. Jesus says that this line in Genesis 2 is God talking. But in the actual Genesis 2 text, this line is not spoken by God. It is, rather, the author of the text speaking as the narrator and making a point. Are you catching this? Jesus sees the ultimate author of Scripture as “the Creator”. That is to say, Jesus believed that all Scripture is inspired by God and therefore, in some way, speaks for God. What motivation to keep on learning from the Bible!

2. Genealogies

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, … the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
(Luke 3:23-33, with a lot of names skipped)

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them…
(Jude 1:14)

In the Gospel of Luke, the genealogical line of Joseph is traced right back to Adam. Jude also assumes a known genealogical connection directly back to Adam. It seems this puts Adam on the map as a historical person.

Yes, it could be argued that genealogies were not scientific and they didn’t have Ancestry.com. Ancient genealogies were more literary devices to give people a sense of place or to point to a symbolic reality. Certainly, ancient genealogies were not always technical – skipping, adding, adjusting. And since Augustine, theologians have noted that Luke’s genealogy totals a count of 77, a numeric symbol for total forgiveness. Still, these passages are among the strongest biblical evidence that Adam and Eve were historical people. (For those of you who do not believe Adam and Eve were historical people, I would love to hear your views on this in the comments!)

Finally, notice that Luke calls Adam “the son of God,” since Adam was a direct creation of God. This points beautifully to Jesus, the second Adam. Just a few verses later, the serpent will tempt this second Adam beginning with the phrase, “If you are the son of God…” (Luke 4:3). The pieces are fitting together. 

3. The First and Second Adam

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, BECAUSE all sinned—

13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.14 Nevertheless, death REIGNED from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern [or type/model; Greek, tupos] of the one to come.

15 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! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death REIGNED through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness REIGN in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 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.

20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin REIGNED in death, so also grace might REIGN through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord

(Romans 5:12-21)

Wow. This is the longest passage about Adam and it is packed with gospel goodness. 

As we pointed out in a previous post, Paul says we die because we sin. Adam has somehow influenced us, but we are not guilty because of Adam – we are guilty because of our own sin. So how did the doctrine of original sin morph into the doctrine of original guilt

When translating from the original Greek into Latin, an early Church Father, Jerome (347-420 AD), mistranslated “because” in verse 12 as “in whom”, referring back to Adam. So the text was made to say that we all sinned in Adam’s sin. That makes us all equally guilty as Adam just by virtue of being born human.

Augustine (354-430 AD), one of the most influential Christian theologians, used this wrong translation to build his case of original sin being original guilt – we are not only born with a propensity to sin, which we act upon and therefore acquire our own guilt, but we are actually born guilty with the sin of Adam already condemning us. We are born depraved, guilty, condemned from birth. Not a terrific way to start life.

Also, notice Adam is said here to be a “pattern” or “type” of Christ. Does that suggest he must be historical since Jesus was a historical figure? That makes sense to me. But a literary character can also be a type. The  Prodigal Father in Jesus’ parable shows us a picture, a type, a pattern of who God is, but that doesn’t mean he is a historical figure. The same goes for the the gracious manager or a number of others characters in Jesus’ parables.

So Adam is a type of Jesus, perhaps because both are historical humans who were directly fashioned by God. But other parallels are even more striking: both Adam and Jesus are in their own way a fresh start for humankind, made sinless, in God’s image and likeness, and both will face the temptation of the serpent. 

And, as Romans 5 goes on to explain, Adam is also a kind of anti-type for Jesus – a mirror image, a reverse form, like a photographic negative.

Adam is disobedient, selfish, and the bringer of death, whereas Jesus is obedient, loving, and the bringer of life. 

One more thing before we move on: in the passage above I highlighted the word group for “reign” which is the same word group in Greek for “kingdom”. The gospel of the kingdom shines through here. God created and established humankind to be rulers (Genesis 1), and we blew it (Genesis 3). We turned God’s kingly commission to us – to be benevolent rulers over creation – into a pursuit for personal gain apart from God’s partnership. We welcomed sin and shame and death into our realm. We abdicated our royal role and lost our way.

Jesus came to establish his upside down kingdom of love, and to re-invite all of humanity to join with him in crushing the serpent’s head under our feet (Romans 16:20).

4. All die in Adam

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. …

So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven.49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

(1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 45-49)

Here Adam is contrasted with the resurrected Jesus in a few ways, as a sort of anti-type: 1) Adam leads us to death, while Jesus leads us to life. 2) Adam transitioned from non-being to living-being, while Jesus transitioned through his resurrection from physical body to spiritual body. 3) Adam’s origins are dust, while Jesus’ origins are divine.

Paul is encouraging Christ-followers to remember: Adam may be our past but Jesus is our future.  

5. Eve was the one deceived

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

(1 Timothy 2:11-14)

This passage helps us understand why the serpent targeted Eve for temptation. In the Genesis story, when God gives Adam the instruction, the command, the Torah about the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Eve is not created yet (Genesis 2:16-17). We are left to assume that Adam passed along the instruction to Eve after she was made from his side. So, Eve had indirect knowledge of God’s Word, and indirect knowledge is never as firm and secure as direct knowledge. So the serpent knows whom to target – the one who has a less firm grasp on the details and importance of the Torah.

Likewise, Paul in his context knows whom to restrict from teaching – those who had not been allowed to study Torah directly, namely, women. They will be more easily deceived, like Eve. And yet, over time, we might expect this situation to change. Paul’s first thought above – “A woman should learn…” – amounts to some of the most provocative words in this passage. (For more on this, please check out our Her Story series and the corresponding After Parties.)

6. Eve as a warning to all believers

I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

(2 Corinthians 11:3)

Eve is a type, a pattern, a warning for all Christians. The serpent’s deception of Eve is not a warning that all women are more easily deceived by virtue of their gender, but rather that all Christians, male and female, might become deceived and drawn away from God’s will, as was Eve. Eve is a type of what deception might look like for any one of us at any time. Beware the subtly of the serpent! 

7. Adam as the origin of all people?

From one man God made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

(Acts 17:26-27)

Many ancient Jewish commentators saw the story of Adam and Eve as the story of the first Jews. They accepted that there might be many races of people already living in the world outside the garden of Eden, but the story of Adam and Eve was an origin story about God creating and choosing and commissioning Israel. That’s an interesting way of looking at Genesis, but passages like Acts 17 suggest otherwise: the apostle Paul saw Adam as the origin of everyone. 

It is possible that Paul actually has Noah in mind when he refers to the “one man”. But that doesn’t change the main lesson here. The story of Adam and Eve, like the story of Noah, should be understood as the origin story of all humankind. 

That being said, what I love most about this passage is the main point Paul makes: that God has been constantly working through history, politics, geography, etc., to create maximum opportunity for people to seek him, reach out for him, and find that he has always been close by.

And while God is always at work “behind the scenes” working at arranging people in the best position possible to hear the gospel, he leaves it up to us, the Church, to actually go out and share the gospel. 


As I’ve said before, I see the local Church as being a lot like the garden of Eden. It’s a place God puts us so we can be with him, learn from him, train with him, and practice our calling. And that calling is to eventually move out beyond Eden, beyond the Church, to “serve and protect” the world and to share God’s good news. We were made to live in the garden, but we were never meant to stay in the garden. 

Peace,

 

Tags : AdamAdam and EveEveThe Fall

14 Comments

  1. Hey Bruxy,

    I’ve held to the belief that indeed Adam and Eve were actual, historical figures. Paul certainly seemed to not only believe that but he also taught it openly. Further Paul teaching in Romans 5 above certainly seems to explicitly state that sin entered the world through Adam and Eve.

    Having said that I have to say that are some things that you drew out from the early chapters that raises some questions – perhaps not the core message but still …

    Question … If as you alluded to there may have been ‘evil’ outside the garden then that seems to imply evil (or sin) was already present in the world. Who (or what?) would have been the “carriers” of that sin and how was that sin introduced into the world? Further what then is the real significance for humanity of Adam’s and Eve’s sins? Perhaps the ‘sin gene’ for lack of a better word would have been passed along to all us regardless of whether Adam and Eve themselves had fallen into sin.

    Musing … It doesn’t seem to me that the Bible is particularly clear on Satan’s origin, the events leading to war in heaven and when Satan was cast out of heaven – i.e. more specifically whether it was before or after the creation of humanity. But … if it was before, it seems like it would have been far better to have cast Satan into Hell before he had a chance to wreak destruction on creation. In the absence of Satan’s destructive force, perhaps the creation would have continued to develop in the past in the way that will experience after the final judgement.

    1. Hi Mark,

      Good questions! Here is my suggested theology on the matter…

      Re death, it could be that all death was not a by product of sin but simply biological as a normal course of life. Adam and Eve were the first humans to be given the opportunity to not experience that natural progression to return to dust with access to the Tree of Life. Of course, they would bring order to a non-order world. This could mean extending creaturely life as authority given by God. Adam and Eve ruling creation could mean bringing healing to the nations and creation preventing it from decay and death, which is non order. However, with Adam and Eve’s sin, death became no longer a biological issue but now a theological one. Therefore, Adam brought death to creation, because he was God’s theological firstborn (not biological firstborn) who redefined death now to mean an expression of sin. Sin now impacts all of humanity as the theological second-born child collectively speaking. Of course, Jesus becomes God’s theological firstborn as the last Adam to deliver us from Adam’s sin.

      Re satan, it could be possible the origin of satan is not the story we need to worry about. What would it change if we as humans knew where and how satan came into being? If anything, human beings would just take that knowledge and use it as an opportunity to make physical or spiritual pilgrimage to the spot of satan’s coming into being. They would make a shrine as a form of idol worship.

      We see this glimpse by analogy played out in Scriptures with the Lord hiding the body of Moses in Deuteronomy. This is most likely so the people would not be tempted to make a shrine. Then this glimpse becomes even amplified in the New Testament, specifically Matthew and Luke, with Peter and John at the Mount of Transfiguration where God dissuades them from building shrines to honor the apparent rebirth of Moses and Elijah.

      The question of banishing or annihilating satan is something which I’ve asked myself too. Then I really thought about how big God’s (triune) heart for his rebellious creation to ultimately turn to Him. God’s not threatened by satan and any other evil foe for that matter. God is not insecure to wipe out all creatures who do not bow before him. God’s love allows the most rebellious of creatures to roam free even at the expense of hurting others in God’s creation. This is because love allows for freedom and choice (albeit it’s contingently). This should give us pause to consider that when God says love your enemies. He is serious for He himself shows us that He does the same to all of his creation. Truly God is love at his core rather than God is angry. Paul says it is so well in Romans 5:20, where sin abounds, grace [always] super abounds!

      That’s my two cents … but I’d be happy if it’s worth a penny!

  2. Just an FYI I couldn’t find (2 Corinthians 15:21-22; 45-49) in my bible, but believe it to be a mistype for (1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 45-49).

  3. Hi Bruxy,
    I always understood that Adam died Spiritually when he had sinned; God had to remove him from the Garden- lest he eat from the tree of Life and live eternally, in which case he would have remained in his fallen state forever with no provision of redemption. Is this how you see it?

  4. I’m fascinated how Jesus and Paul speak so confidently and authoritatively that there was/is (the present tense ‘is’ seems to be more appropriate) a historical person named Adam. They both claim to be speaking with complete transcendent knowledge, far beyond what either could have learned from their schools or religious traditions. Jesus speaks as the Son of God, present at Adam’s creation, and the author of Genesis. Paul asserts his authority as a transformed religious zealot who has now become an apostle of Jesus Christ.

    Does this mean that we may all have an opportunity to shake Adam’s and Eve’s hands, sit down over a cup of tea (or other organic beverage of choice) and hear their eye-witness accounts of how humankind’s ‘worst day at the office’ unfolded?

    The thought of this helps put my own daily challenges into perspective… 🙂

  5. I think that it’s so awesome how people are commenting and dicussing things here and answering each other’s questions. You can’t really do this on Facebook or Twitter. Why doesn’t someone start /r/meetinghouse up ? It’s a much easier platform on which to have discussions.

  6. References to strange people like the Nephalim before the flood and Goliath in the time of King David make much more sense if we allow for the presence of other people groups outside the Garden. Please share more about how the co-existence of other hominids at the time of God’s creation of Adam and Eve is suggested in scripture, extra biblical texts and the geologic record. Thanks Bruxy.

  7. Hey Bruxy
    I am loving this series. So excited to get a new perspective on sacrificing especially. I do want to ask about Romans’ 5:6-11. Here it talks about us being God’s enemy and Jesus dying FOR us. Verse 9 says we are saved FROM GOD’s wrath. Exodus 34:6 says He is slow to anger. The slow is exciting and explains why we are still here. But can you explain how those passages explain that God did not want a sacrificial system. Did Paul get it wrong?

    Also there is a wonderful book out there that is wonderfully academic that shows science and the Bible agree. It is written by a man who set out to prove the Bible wrong since he was an atheist while doing his research. Through his attempt he became a Christian. It’s called Rational Conclusions by James Agresti.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/0615332366/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_c_api_i_Le0TDbBS1QE30

  8. Hey Tanya – Thanks for your terrific question!

    So, no, Paul didn’t get it wrong – Paul got it right! If you were thinking about this past Sunday’s sermon on the origin of religious sacrifice, you may recall that I said what Christ accomplished on the cross is multifaceted, kaleidoscopic, multidimensional. *One aspect* of the atonement is that through his death Jesus cut a new covenant in his blood, doing away with the law and it’s commandments and rituals, ending the sacrificial system from the inside out (see Hebrews 8:13). But this doesn’t negate everything else Jesus accomplished on the cross, not one bit.

    The other thing to keep in mind is how the principle of accommodation works – God really does enter and use the things he accommodates – like kings, the temple, etc. God really did use the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant, and eventually the sacrifice of Jesus, to forgive and to reveal both the seriousness of sin and the depth of his love for us.

    I hope that is helpful. Thanks again!

  9. Loved the Sunday teaching on Gen 4 and the prelude about “religion” from Gen 3 !

    Some random thoughts here on Cain and Abel.

    Abel tended flocks ,,,

    But Cain was a tiller of the ground (the ground that was cursed because of Adam)
    In toil Cain ate of the ground ,,, thorns, thistles, sweat. He probably “owned” the work he did to produce fruit from all that pain. To Cain, it might seem Abel’s job was “easy”

    The first blood shed was of a lamb
    The second blood shed was Abel’s, a shepherd,
    The last sacrificial blood shed was Jesus, the shepherd, the lamb.

    God engages Cain’s sin like a parent, a father. (Just as He did with Cain’s parents)
    God does not respond to sin with wrath.
    There are Questions, Dialogue, Instructions About Sin, Consequences, and Continued Covenant. It seems like a pattern with God, more like a father than an angry god pouring out wrath and vengeance.

    Then there on the “cursed ground”, God doesn’t curse Cain but curses Cain “from the ground” and Cain says “You have driven me from the face of the ground” and from your face! Cain has no where to go, he is groundless and without God’s presence. Yet God protects him.

    Is Cain the father of the Cannanites?
    Does the vengeance of the Lord apply to Cain’s offspring?
    “Whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold” ?

    CB

  10. Charlie B:

    > Is Cain the father of the Cannanites? No, that’s Caanan. He is the son of Ham the son of Noah. Ham offended Noah and was cursed, but strangely the curse went onto Canaan and not onto Ham (see Genesis 9:25).

    Reading Genesis one sees that there is a lot that we don’t know and probably will never know. I think that it’s better to admit this than to come up with strange speculations about Nephilim, etc. The recent Noah movie had some excellent ideas, but they too are sheer speculation.

    I think that the Q&A here are great. Why not have people continue to do this on Reddit which is a MUCH better format for discussion?

Leave a Reply

X