The Adamic Covenant (pt.3)

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The Adamic Covenant and the Last Adam

Having established the existence of the Adamic covenant in pt.1 and the responsibilities of Adam within the covenant in pt. 2, it is now important to show the essential nature of the Adamic covenant as it relates to an overall biblical theology, primarily in the soteriological and eschatological work of Christ (though one may rightly argue that they are inseparable). Why is it that Paul so greatly attributes the title of the Last Adam to Christ? There are many similarities between the first and second Adam. Adam was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), and “Christ, is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). Adam was called God’s son (Luke 3:38). Throughout the Bible, image bearing and sonship are inextricably linked; for instance one can find this in Gen. 5:3 and see how Adam is said to father a son (Seth) “in his own likeness.”[1] This can be further displayed in the book of Hebrews’ description of Christ, “in these last days God has spoken to us by his Son…who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person (Heb. 1:2-3). 

Also, when one compares the responsibilities of Adam within the adamic covenant, and mirror those with the work of Christ, a powerful parallel is framed. Adam was to multiply and fill the earth with image bearers who glorified God, and Christ commissions his disciples “to go into all the world making disciples” (Matt. 28:19). Adam was to subdue the earth and have dominion over all of it, Christ said “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). Adam’s glorification hinged upon his obedience to the Father, and Christ’s victory over sin and death and his being glorified back to his past state of Glory hinged upon his being obedient even unto death (Phil. 2:5-11). The first Adam failed in the presence of Satan’s temptation (Gen. 3), Christ perfectly overcame Satan’s temptation (Luke 4). But of all the passages of Scripture,  the greatest passage that provides the covenantal parallels between Adam and Christ (the Last Adam) and their covenantal headship is Rom. 5:12-19. 

In this passage, Paul highlights the way in which Adam and Christ serve as the two federal heads of mankind. Every human is either under the headship of the first Adam, or under the headship of the second Adam, Christ. According to Paul, because Adam sinned and brought death into the wold, all men now are under the sting of this death because of sin (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:22a). Because Adam in his covenant with God was placed as the federal head over mankind, when he fell, his posterity fell with him. A.W. Pink illustrates it as such, “He dealt with it as with a tree, all the branches of which have one common root and trunk. So it was when Adam fell. God permitted Satan to lay the axe at the root of the tree, and when Adam fell, all his posterity fell with him.”[2] All of mankind finds itself under this covenant of works, yet unable to do any good and be obedient of our own ability (Rom. 3:12; Isa. 64:6). Mankind stands not only condemned by the disobedience of Adam, but by our continual disobedience to “the law written on our hearts” (Rom. 2:14-15). Therefore, it was necessary, that if God’s telos, his end to which he created the world was to be accomplished, it would be through a new federal head, a second Adam, so He sent his υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ (only begotten Son) to serve as such. As Paul, teaches in Rom. 5, because of Christ’s perfect obedience, all that are found in him through faith, are imputed his righteousness. Both of the declarations, condemned or justified, is based upon whose headship a person falls under. If you remain under the first Adam, you are imputed the results of his disobedience, and if you are under Christ you are imputed the results of his obedience. How can this be just? Only through a covenantal framework. Because these two serve as covenantal representatives for those who are considered their posterity, there is no means by which this imputation can be done injustly, primarily as it pertains to the doctrine of the imputation of original sin. 

So Christ in both his active and passive obedience, abrogates the covenant of works for those who believe in him, and establishes the New Covenant, a covenant of grace, whereby justification is a free gift, not something earned by obedience.[3] However, Christ also serves to accomplish the goal of not merely redeeming sinners, but of accomplishing the dominion mandate given to the first Adam. Jesus does not extend a literal temple of God, but becomes the temple of God. Jesus tells the Pharisees that he is going to destroy the temple and then build it up in three days, and this is their response, “The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he [Jesus] was speaking about the temple of his body” (Jn. 2:20-21). The extension of this holy temple is the church, who are the posterity of Christ, a kingdom of priests (1 Pet. 2:5). The church is also the Last Adam’s suitable helpmate to help him in establishing his authority over the world (Rev. 21:9; Matt. 28:19-20). Unlike the first Adam, the Last Adam will “bring many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10). The New Covenant in Christ (Last Adam) is the remedy to Adam’s failure of the covenant made with him.  Understanding the covenantal work of the first Adam, is vital to understanding the perfect work of the Last Adam.

Conclusion

Arthur Pink makes this statement in his book on Divine Covenants, without an understanding of the Adamic covenant, “we are without the key to God’s dealings with the human race, we are unable to discern man’s relation to the divine law, and we appreciate not the fundamental principles upon which the atonement of Christ proceeded.”[4] Throughout these articles a biblical argument for the adamic covenant has been made, an outline providing the covenantal responsibilities of Adam has been given, and the essential connection between the covenant work of the first Adam and the Last Adam discussed. What this reveals more than anything, is the essential role that the first three chapters of Genesis play in biblical theology. The historicity and narrative structure of these chapters must be maintained by evangelicals, for if they are surrendered, the spark which ignites the entire biblical story of God’s redemption is put out.What occurred between God and Adam and the covenantal relationship in these three chapters is not only essential in providing a proper biblical anthropology, but also Christology, soteriology, and eschatology. However, in order to remotely grasp the deep significance of this, one must read those three chapters holistically in light of New Testament revelation, for what might seem to be stretching arguments for the adamic covenant becomes extremely clear in light of Paul’s teachings, the teachings Christ’s fulfillment of Old Testament shadows in the book of Hebrews, and the eschatological work of Jesus as read in Revelation. With regards to the evidence put forth, it seems clear that not only does the adamic covenant exist, but it is central to a proper biblical theology.

 

Footnotes

[1] J.V. Fesko, Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, (Rosshire, Scotland: Mentor Publishing, 2007), 147.

[2] A.W. Pink, The Divine Covenants, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1973), 31.

[3] Fesko, 158.

[4] Pink, 29.

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