03 Aug 2014

Adam and Jesus

Religious 26 Comments

Going along with last week’s post, let me just extend the discussion. Looking at various portions of Christian doctrine in isolation, they seem nonsensical. However, putting them together yields at least a symmetry. I don’t expect this post to resonate with agnostics or atheists, but it may click with some Christians who have never thought of it this way. (By the way, I am here just repeating things I have heard others say; this isn’t new with me by any stretch.)

==> Adam was the first (created) man, who alone truly had free will. Yet he disobeyed God, and through him sin and death entered the world. The humans who came after Adam are condemned to eternal death, even though they personally didn’t commit his sin.

==> Jesus is the second Adam. He was the only man to fully obey God, and through Him righteousness and life entered the world. The humans who came after Jesus are blessed with eternal life, even though they personally didn’t perform His good works to merit such a reward.

26 Responses to “Adam and Jesus”

  1. Joseph Fetz says:

    This is just an observation.

    The first case sounds like a communistic world that we have not yet found. A utopia, but with the knowledge that one’s life is temporal.

    The nest case is also communistic, and represents a world that has not been yet found, but with the knowledge that one’s life is eternal.

    So, with that, what is the common denominator but a communistic utopia?

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      Granted, I know that I’m not a “believer” and that this directed towards them. But I don’t think that it is an offhand question.

  2. Yosef says:

    Bob, your points this week and last that Christian doctrine needs to be viewed as a whole, rather than people quoting certain parts of the Bible of viewing certain parts of doctrine, reminded me of the following comment from an NKVD interrogator:

    “What? You quote me the Stalin Constitution, you damned lawyer? Do you know how you are behaving? You are behaving just like that international spy, that mad dog, that enemy of humanity– Bukharin. Yes, yes, you are doing exactly what Bukharin used to do. He used to extract some sentence from Marx’s writings and say: ‘You see? I was right. That’s what Marx wrote too.’ But Stalin taught us not to base ourselves on fragmentary sentences taken out of their context. We have to see the thing in its entirety, otherwise we are not proving something which is true, but putting across a fraud.” (as recounted in Menachem Begin’s White Nights)

  3. Ken B says:

    Any symmetry is a result of literary effort. This has been much remarked upon by skeptics and does in some sense “resonate.” But is it that symmetrical? Where is Eve in this symmetry? Wasn’t she the first to disobey? So the symmetry is achieved by whittling the feet to fit the shoes.

    • LK says:

      “Any symmetry is a result of literary effort.”

      Yes, most probably — in this case it is called chiasm/chiasmus/ring composition, with the pattern a – b – b’ – a’.

      The ancient Greeks and Romans loved this rhetorical figure. You find it throughout their pagan writings too. Even the Greek speaking New testament writers love it too.

      E.g., “the sabbath (a) was made for man (b), not man (b’) for the sabbath (a’)”: a – b – b’ – a’. Nice and symmetrical.

      • Ken B says:

        The gospels and Christian writings as they evolved over time incorporated familiar themes and dramatic patterns –topos is the word for one of these. That naturally leads to stories where you can find symmetries. (Not just Christian, Islamic too.)

        Then layer on top selective readings –Tm M raises a really good example of what Bob’s reading ignores, and I mention the obvious Eve –and you can find just about any kind of chiasmus or other symmetry you wish.

    • LK says:

      Though in this case, bob’s example is parallelism with antonyms:

      a b c a’ b’ c’

      first man – disobedience – mortality – last man – obedience – eternal life.

  4. Elliott says:

    “Adam was the first (created) man, who alone truly had free will”

    Still in the case of Adam — God has foreknowledge.

    “He was the only man to fully obey God, and through Him righteousness and life entered the world. The humans who came after Jesus are blessed with eternal life, even though they personally didn’t perform His good works to merit such a reward.”

    It may add something to delve a little more deeply into what a manifested consequence not based on merit but by the judgement of God can mean.

    Chapter 45 [XXIII]— The Reason Why One Person is Assisted by Grace, and Another is Not Helped, Must Be Referred to the Secret Judgments of God. Written by St. Augustine of Hippo in A.D. 426 or 427

    You must refer the matter, then, to the hidden determinations of God, when you see, in one and the same condition, such as all infants unquestionably have—who derive their hereditary evil from Adam,— that one is assisted so as to be baptized, and another is not assisted, so that he dies in his very bondage; and again, that one baptized person is left and forsaken in his present life, who God foreknew would be ungodly, while another baptized person is taken away from this life, lest that wickedness should alter his understanding; Wisdom 4:11 and be sure that you do not in such cases ascribe unrighteousness or unwisdom to God, in whom is the very fountain of righteousness and wisdom, but, as I have exhorted you from the commencement of this treatise, whereto you have already attained, walk therein, and even this shall God reveal unto you, Philippians 3:15 — if not in this life, yet certainly in the next, for there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed. Matthew 10:26 When, therefore, you hear the Lord say, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, Ezekiel 14:9 and likewise what the apostle says: He has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens, Romans 9:18 believe that, in the case of him whom He permits to be deceived and hardened, his evil deeds have deserved the judgment; while in the case of him to whom He shows mercy, you should loyally and unhesitatingly recognise the grace of the God who renders not evil for evil; but contrariwise blessing. 1 Peter 3:9 Nor should you take away from Pharaoh free will, because in several passages God says, I have hardened Pharaoh; or, I have hardened or I will harden Pharaoh’s heart; for it does not by any means follow that Pharaoh did not, on this account, harden his own heart. For this, too, is said of him, after the removal of the fly-plague from the Egyptians, in these words of the Scripture: And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go. Exodus 8:32 Thus it was that both God hardened him by His just judgment, and Pharaoh by his own free will. Be then well assured that your labour will never be in vain, if, setting before you a good purpose, you persevere in it to the last. For God, who fails to render, according to their deeds, only to those whom He liberates, will then recompense every man according to his works. Matthew 16:27 God will, therefore, certainly recompense both evil for evil, because He is just; and good for evil, because He is good; and good for good, because He is good and just; only, evil for good He will never recompense, because He is not unjust. He will, therefore, recompense evil for evil— punishment for unrighteousness; and He will recompense good for evil— grace for unrighteousness; and He will recompense good for good— grace for grace.

  5. Elliott says:

    Ken B

    Eve was of Adam “bone of my bones” “flesh of my flesh” — so without saying what they are — I’m saying there are ways around your point.

  6. Tim M says:

    “The humans who came after Jesus are blessed with eternal life, even though they personally didn’t perform His good works to merit such a reward.”


    Many humans before Christ attained eternal life. Abrahams faith made him righteous, and the whole purpose of the Israelite’s sacrifice for atonement was to cover their sins until Christ’s sacrifice which forgave all sins. But both before and after Christ the necessary and sufficient condition for salvation was to have faith in Christ.

    • Harold says:

      Bob’s post suggests that everyone from Adam until Jesus could not attain eternal life. Is this generally accepted by Christians?

      • Gamble says:

        Not at the time, but they will have opportunity.

        • Harold says:

          How does “not at the time” fit with “eternal death?” Seems if they will have an opportunity then death will not be eternal.

          • Gamble says:

            IF you died before Jesus ascended, you will get your chance to face Him.

            But this situation does not apply to any of us.

  7. Giovanni says:

    “Jesus is the second Adam. He was the only man to fully obey God.”

    So Jesus is a man, not God?

    • Gamble says:

      Oh boy, here we go.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Giovanni wrote:

      “So Jesus is a man, not God?”

      It is standard Christian doctrine that Jesus was fully man and fully God. E.g. this link gives some context.

      • Gamble says:

        I don’t claim to understand *Trinity*. There has been much debate, even murder. Arius was murdered by Catholics and Constantine because his views differed. Today there are arguments as well, Jehovah Witness for example.

        Rather than worship knowledge( is this not what the original fall was all about?) I prefer to love.

        Most Catholics and their offshoot Protestants will tell you that if Jesus was Not with God since creation, meaning Jesus was not Created because he was the Creator, then salvation cannot exist.

        I do not necessarily agree with this but I don’t think it matters. I live by faith rather than knowledge. This is a hard egg to swallow for objective rationalist and those that idolize knowledge.

        Just don’t forget the Holy Spirit in all of this. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the unforgivable sin. Without Spirit, God cannot achieve his will. So it has taken me along time to fully appreciate the equally important and required third pillar of Christianity, The Holy Spirit. God, Son, Holy Spirit.

        Bible says if not for Gods breath in our lungs, we would instantly die, so at the end of the day, it is all GOD.

        I don’t understand all of it, nor do I need to and I no longer want to.

        My pastor says the New Testament says we all must be like children. He says this is because children can be taught easily. This is where Pastor and me part ways.

        I think we are to be like little children for reasons other than the ability to gather MORE knowledge…

        Matthew 18:3 And said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

  8. Tel says:

    So, in a nutshell, Christianity is all about reaping what someone else sowed?

    • Gamble says:

      Hi Tel,

      Christianity is about recognizing your sinful nature, feeling bad about it, searching for forgiveness, finding the Savior, accepting the Savior and most importantly repenting.

      Yes we do reap what God sowed. God sowed a Savior, we did nothing yet we get the fruits if we accept this free gift.

      Probably not what you were meaning.

  9. Gamble says:

    Not sure how Jesus is the second Adam? Adam and Eve were sinners and much more like us. We came from Adam and Eve, we did not come from Jesus. Jesus came from God directly.

    Additionally, Jesus was a man yes, but Jesus was also God.So now we are talking about the concept of Trinity. I don’t want to get into a Trinity debate because the entire concept may be outside of human understanding. Trinity arguments have been used to justify murder and war, something I don’t want.

  10. Innocent says:

    Okay, I do not think you can compare the two. Second, Eve was the one who listened to Lucifer. Lucifer convinced Eve of the necessity of partaking of the Fruit. Once Eve had fallen did not Adam have to fall with her or else would not Gods will have been confounded as well? Adam was faced with disobedience either way at that point and chose to partake of the fruit.

    Did not Christ ask God to take the cup from him yet still did his fathers will?

    While Adam broke a commandment, he did not do so to thwart God rather he did it because he saw the need in what God had asked him to do that could not be fully reconciled given what had occurred. What is interesting is this does not excuse the transgression.

    In my mind Adam was very righteous in all that he did. He sought to do Gods will. He did what was needful. Now take all of this with a grain of salt as I am unaware how much is hyperbole and how much is solid fact when it comes to all of what occurred with Adam and Eve. Did not Christ teach in parables to demonstrate knowledge and understanding to those who could listen. I feel the same is true with the story of Adam and Eve, while it may be ‘true’ it is probably a very high overview with much of the understanding, detail, and true knowledge taken out of it.

    No I am not questioning the ‘Bible’ as the word of God, it is. I am however skeptical of anyone who asks me to believe that a serpent spoke to Eve. I see it as hyperbole, as a story, as something that contains truth, and in how it is described may be wholly ‘true’.

    Anyway, Adam and Christ may well be two sides of the same coin but they are not comparable in what they had to accomplish.

  11. Sam T says:

    My question is– rejecting the pre-scientific belief that Adam and Eve were literally the first human couple, created ex nihilo– what does Adam represent?

    With what we know of evolution, humans developed over millions of years from primate ancestors, and there was never a point where they were “sinless.” (Some argue that people have become kinder and more cooperative over time–which is the opposite of falling into sin from an original, perfect state.)

    I think the intent of the story is to depict an archetypical couple (“Adam” means man, and “Eve” mother) who reveal truths about ourselves. There was no historical incident involving an apple & a garden. The story has to do with ourselves, things we do to hurt each other, separation from the divine and the sense we are “fallen” from some previous state, etc.

    Knowing that sin and death did not enter the world through a historical Adam (in fact, creatures had to die for millions of years before humans could arrive on the scene), how would you explain the first Adam/second Adam? I’ve never read a good interpretation of this.

    • Major.Freedom says:

      The idea of a perfect golden age derives from the Neo-Platonist imagining of creation as a degradation. A perfect being does not need anything else. Since the universe exists, matter is a degradation.

      Christianity borrowed from Neo-Platonism and imagined that the “initial” perfection to be a sort of fairy tale land of infinite abundance, and immortality, and putting the degradation aspect not on a shortcoming of metaphysical created reality, but on a moral shortcoming of mankind. We are not, according to Christianity, permanently “trapped” in the now non-abundant, non-immortal world. Man can now “reabsorb” with the perfect creator by an act of faith, i.e. a moral obligation satisfied. Life becomes a “test” of moral conviction. The moral obligation in Christianity is faith in the redeemer as the only possible path that humans can be “saved” from the cruel world. Humans cannot do it alone. They need another being to rescue them.

      For those intrepid humans who want to take on total and full responsibility themselves, who don’t want a savior to rescue them, who want to test their own mettle, will necessarily be unsaved, lost, cut off from paradise, and will suffer for eternity, i.e. “sent” to hell. Worship another, or suffer forever. Make your choice.

      I have made mine. I will worship no other, and I will not go to hell. I am my own mortal, imperfect, finite, corporeal, creative “God.” Every Christian is imagining their own selves when they think of God. Every Humanist atheist is imagining their own selves when they think of Humanity.

      I am enjoying reading state of the art cosmology as framed by new conceptions of the idea of reincarnation.

      • Carrie says:

        Major, could you provide interested readers with any references/resources for the cosmology to which you refer?

      • Harold says:

        “I am enjoying reading state of the art cosmology as framed by new conceptions of the idea of reincarnation.”
        What do you mean here?

Leave a Reply