Christ - The Last Adam

It is the first epistle to the Corinthians alone, and in the same
passage, which gives us the two important terms, so closely related as
they are to one another, of "The Second Man" and “Last Adam” (15:45, 47). The one looks backward; the other forward.
The “Second Man” implies that before Him we have only the first man,
repeated and multiplied, in his descendents; now a new type has
appeared; and that this, which is the full and final thought of man,
may become the true heir of the inheritance, the “Second Man” is the
“Last Adam.” He is the “last” not “second,” because plainly there is no
other to succeed Him. “The Last Adam” (in opposition to “the first man
Adam,” (who “became a living soul”) becomes “a Spirit giving life.”

The apostle does not say that the Second Man became
a Spirit giving life, for an obvious reason. The Second Man, as such,
brings before us the new humanity, in the likeness of which every one
of the new race will be ultimately found; but the Last Adam is the Head of the new race, and to be a “Spirit giving life”
is peculiar to Himself. Man as man, and not merely the first man, has
the mysterious power imparted to him of propagating his kind; but the
new humanity is of too high a nature to permit this to the men of it.
Only the Last Adam can communicate the new “life” which is its
characteristic; and He, inasmuch as He is, what they are not, above man
altogether. We cannot think of the Last Adam aright without explicitly
taking into account His Deity,—that He is the “Word made flesh.”

Noticeable it is in this way that we who are Christ’s, and to whom
Christ is life, are yet never spoken of as the children of Christ. Of
the first Adam we are naturally children; of the last Adam, and as
implied by that very relationship, we should be children also, in a
higher and so a fuller way: yet we are never taught to call Christ
“Father.” For this there must be reason, and therefore that in it as to
which we may rightly and reverently inquire why it is.

the Old Testament, and not the New, we come nearest to the thought of
children of Christ. In the fifty-third of Isaiah, the abundant seed
field of New Testament truth, we find first of all Messiah come and cut
off, without posterity “Who shall declare His generation?” asks the
prophet: “for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the
transgression of my people was He stricken” (ver. 8). Thus
there seems utter failure of blessing: cut off Himself, He has none who
spring from Him,—who perpetuate His name and character.

it naturally would appear; but the question has other answer before the
prophecy ends; and in that very death in which for the sins of others
He has been cut off, there is at last found the secret of a blessing
such as seemed to be gone without remedy: “When Thou shalt make His
soul a sacrifice for sin, He shall see a seed, He shall prolong His
days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in His hand” (ver. 10).
This “seed” and prolonging of His days are the double answer to the
question which His death had raised.

really then has a seed; the Last Adam as a quickening Spirit points to
nothing else: but this only makes it more certain that there is a
reason for the avoidance of such expressions as we naturally look for.
We are taught by Christ Himself to speak of His Father as our Father
(John 20:17), though this, of course, is not inconsistent with His
relation to us as Last Adam. Of the first Adam it could be said also,
as has been before remarked, that he was a “First-born among many
brethren,” without prejudice to his relationship to these as father.

the Gospel of John it is that the Lord is seen as the Eternal Life, the
Son, to whom “the Father hath given to have life in Himself,” just as
the Father hath life in Himself (ch. 5:26). The words show that it is
as Man He is speaking, and that thus in manhood He becomes a Source of
life: “as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so
the Son quickeneth whom He will” (ver. 21). Thus it is in John’s Gospel
also that we find Him, after His resurrection, in character as Last
Adam, (so much the more as in contrast with the first,) “He breathed on. them,
and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (20:22). John’s is the
Gospel of His Deity, and yet this remarkable characteristic action is
reserved for it.

So, too, in his epistle John links them: “This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

the Father...quickeneth, so the Son quickeneth.” “The Spirit” also “is
life” (Rom. 8:10). It is a divine inspiration, of which the breathing
into the first Adam (Gen. 2:7) was but a significant type. Even by
that, man became the “offspring of God” (Acts 17:28), and thus by creation (not position) in
His “image” (Gen. 1:27), as the son is in the father’s image (Gen.
5:3). Man received thus (what the beast has not) a spirit; and God is
the “Father of spirits” (Heb. 12:9). But this is only what is natural,
and what has been debased by the fall; we need, therefore, a new
begetting of God, a new communication of life: “that which is born of
the flesh is flesh”—not merely human nature, but human nature degraded,
as it were, to its lowest point, “flesh”: as if the spirit had left it,
“dead,” therefore, while living.

So, with a sad harmony, Scripture everywhere asserts: man must be born again.

breath of a new life enters into him, and he lives. This is no mere
moral renewal. If “that which is born of the flesh is flesh,”—flesh has
produced flesh; there has been a real communication of nature, as shown
in the being brought forth. So also “that which is born of the Spirit
is spirit,” partakes of the nature of that from which it is derived.
Divine parentage is shown in participation in the divine nature (2 Pet.
1:4), and we are become true children of God, with His likeness.
“Passed from death unto life” (John 5:24), the life we have received is
eternal lie: which means, not that it will always last, for so will the
wicked always live—if you call it “life”—but that it has always been
also, not in us, but in God. This is the life that deserves to be
called eternal; and this is the life in which we have begun to live. In
us it
has its beginning, its growth, its practical expression: this imperfect
at the best, and varying from that in the infant to the young man and
the father, it is nevertheless eternal life all through, whether it be
as yet undiscernible by man or making a possessor of it a shining light
amid the darkness of the world.

Much of what I am here
saying is in contention by many; and there are perhaps few things of
equal importance that are held more variously than what new birth is,
and its connection with or disconnection from eternal life. It would
carry us too far to discuss these variations: it is enough, perhaps, to
say that, on the one hand, the signs of it given in John’s first
epistle show plainly that righteousness, love to God and to the
brethren, and faith in Christ, characterize all who are born (or
begotten) of God; and on the other, that he writes to all that “believe
on the name of the Son of God” that they may know that they have
eternal life. I may be told indeed by some that these things are quite
different; that faith in the Son is more and later than faith
in Christ; but the gospel of John assures us that he that believeth not
on the Son is one still under condemnation and the wrath of God. It is
not the saint but the sinner who passes from death unto life; and that
change, momentous as it is, cannot be a long process.

then, the “quickening Spirit” acts in every one born of God. As the
Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, just so the Son
quickens; and none the less it is of the Spirit we are born again. It
is a divine work, and Father, Son and Spirit all partake in it. Thus it
is manifest that we are by this birth children of God; and
while the Son as Mediator is He in whom life is for us, and the Spirit
is the positive Agent in communicating it, the Father it is whose
blessed will the Son and Spirit alike work, and “of whom every family
in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:15, Gk.). “To us there
is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things and we for Him, and
one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him” (1 Cor.

Thus, although we have been very recently told that
there is no new communication of a new nature in new birth, yet the
Lord Himself has taught us, on the contrary, that “that which is born
of the Spirit is spirit,”—that it partakes of the nature of Him who has
brought it forth. And He says, “that which is born,” (not “he who
is born,”) because the new life communicated does not as yet (as we
have already seen) pervade the whole man. The body is still, in this
respect, “dead, because of sin” (Rom. 8:10), even “if Christ be in
you;” and the “flesh” also thus (it must still be asserted) “because of
sin,” remains, even in the man delivered from its dominion, a cause for
constant watchfulness and self-judgment.  [10] But the youngest babe born of God has nevertheless the nature of its
Parent: even though here there be as much difference between the new
born babe and the man, as there is in the physical prototype. Abundant
room for development must be admitted, while the development itself
proves but the essential sameness of the nature in these wide extremes.

The Second Man, then, is also the Last Adam; but in the
latter term much more is implied than in the former, and that the
result of that union of the divine and human which faith can joyfully
accept while it acknowledges the inscrutability of it. “No one knoweth
the Son, but the Father.” No human mind can think out the divine-human
Person who is here before us; but to seek to have the value of
scripture statements is another matter, and is the part of faith. It
would be wronging the love which has enriched us with them, not to seek
to appropriate our riches.

The connection of truth in this
chapter in Corinthians which furnishes us with our present text is
noteworthy. The apostle is writing to us of the resurrection, and has
been contrasting the natural body as sown in the grave with the body of
the saint in resurrection. “It is sown a natural body,” he says; “it is
raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a
spiritual body. And so it is written, the first man, Adam, was made a
living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit.”

connection here is very much obscured by the translation: what
connection could one suppose between “a living soul” and “a natural
body”? None at least that one could argue, from the language used; and
in fact, as elsewhere said, we have in English no clear way of making
apparent the connection. If we were at liberty to use the word
“soulual,” (which is not in the dictionary,) we should be able to do
this: we should then read, “There is a soulual body,” ...“the first man
Adam was made a living soul;” as, on the other hand, “There is a
spiritual body,” and “the last Adam was made a quickening Spirit.”

first Adam had a soulual body, a body characterized by the soul its
tenant: for he was himself a living soul. It is remarkable, while quite
intelligible, that, though a man’s spirit is his highest part, and it
is by this is a good boy “knows the things of man” (1 Cor. 2:11), and
is in relation to God, yet while here in the body he is never called a
“spirit,” but only what the beast is, a “soul.” On the other hand, as
soon as he has left the body, he rises to the measure of his distinctly
human part, and is now a “spirit.” Common usage recognizes the same
difference. In some sense the connection of soul and body is a
shrouding of his higher nature. The same word psychical or soulual, is
translated in our common version “sensual” (Jas. 3:15; Jude 19), though
this, of course, is a use of it which is not due to man’s condition as
created but to the sin which has entered in. It is similar to the use
of “flesh” for a condition in which fallen man, as if the spirit had
departed from him, is characterized as “dead.” Yet the psychical or
“soulual” body, as in contrast with a “spiritual” one, is easily
understood as that which hems in and disguises necessarily man’s
spiritual nature. In the babe this is sunk entirely at first in its
fleshly wrappings. By degrees it emerges, with slow and painful labor
freeing itself from the bonds of the material, the humbling discipline
which God has ordained for it, but still “seeing as through a glass, in
a riddle” (1 Cor. 13:12). In the future only is to be its “face to
face” knowledge.

This is what it means, as I take it,—or at
least it is part of what it means,—for man to be a “living soul.” It
implies a life of sense, which may be yet, and should be, even on that
account, a life of faith; of struggle which may be defeat or victory.
Out of which we do not pass until the body is left behind, or fashioned
by the last Adam into a “spiritual body,” fit instrument for and no
clog upon the enfranchised spirit. Only with this redemption of the
body will the “sons of God” be fully manifested (Rom. 8:19. 23)

“Last Adam,” the Lord is revealed as in connection with that “new
creation” which God is perfecting for Himself out of the ruins of the
old. Such a thought as this is not unrepresented in nature. The present
world is thus built up out of the ruins of a previous one, which in all
features of highest worth it surpasses; according to that law of
progress which we have seen written on its grades of life development,
and to which its life-history also, on the whole, conforms. But the new
creation connected with the Last Adam arises out of a deeper collapse
than any that preceded it,—thank God, to assume now a permanence which
shall suffer no collapse again. With the first Adam, its head, the old
creation fell. With the last Adam, the new creation abides in
indefectible blessing.

While the title of “last Adam” is
found only in the passage we have been considering, the epistle to the
Romans (5:14) fully declares Him to be the Antitype of the first. His
relation to the new creation is what Adam’s was to the old. The results
are in contrastive parallel: “as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall
all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). But here, because the new creation
is brought out of the old, it is not enough to say, “shall live,” but
“shall be made alive.” [11] He who is to be the new Adam of a new creation brought out of the old must for this accomplish redemption.

it is as risen from the dead that the Lord breathes upon His disciples,
and the antithesis to “in Adam” is “in Christ;” this being the official
title with which His priestly sacrificial work connects itself. Eternal life for
us is “in Christ:” that is, in the Last Adam, with His sacrificial work
accomplished, and gone up as our Representative Head to God.

first man was also in a very real way the representative of his race;
not, however, by any formal covenant for his posterity, of which
Scripture has no trace; but by his being the divinely constituted head of it. His
representative character was grounded in what men call “natural law,”
and which is nothing but divine law. This is asserted in the plainest
possible way in Scripture. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an
unclean?” expresses the law. “What is man that he should be clean? or
he that is born of a woman that he should be righteous?” “Behold, I was
shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” And the Lord
affirms the principle in the most emphatic way: “That which is born of
the flesh is flesh.” What men now call the principle of “heredity” is
thus affirmed by Him, and it is the whole scriptural account of the

Sin came in through Adam. The nature of man was
corrupted; by the disobedience of one the many were made sinners; and
death introducing to judgment was the stamp of God upon the fallen
condition. So, as the apostle says, “in Adam all die.” “In Adam” thus
speaks of representation, as the apostle argues as to Levi and Abraham
(Heb. 7:9, 10): “And, as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes,
paid tithes in Abraham; for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.”
Similarly we were in the loins of Adam when he fell and sentence of
death was passed upon him. Thank God, we have heard the voice of
Another,—Head and Representative too of His race, which says, “Because
I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).

The last Adam is
the head of a new race. And so, “if any man be in Christ”—set over
against “in Adam” in the verse already looked at—“he is a new creature”
(or “it is new creation” 2 Cor. 5:17). To be “in Christ” is to belong to the new creation and the new Head. The
last Adam becomes Head of the race after His work of obedience is
accomplished; and that wondrous “obedience unto death” becomes the
heritage of the new race. The connection of the Head and race is
necessarily by life and nature. A corrupt nature was transmitted from
the fallen head. A divine life and nature, free from and incapable of
taint, is ours in the new Head, Christ Jesus. Death and judgment lay
hold upon the fallen creature: righteousness belongs to the possessor
of eternal life.

The life and the place go together, and are
never disjoined. “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; and
he that believeth not on the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of
God abideth on him” (John 3:36). Eternal life or the wrath of God:
these are the alternatives. Solemn and wonderful alternatives they are!

10. As the “thorn in the flesh,” needed by a man who had been in the third
heaven, and needed on that very account, will surely prove for any who
have an ear to hear.

11. That the apostle is here speaking only of those “in Christ,” and not,
as generally believed, of all mankind, will be evident on due
consideration. For the resurrection of the wicked is not an effect of
Christ’s redemption, but a “resurrection of judgment” simply (John
5:29); and throughout the chapter it is only of the resurrection of the
saints—of those of whom Christ is first-fruits (ver. 20)—that he is
speaking. The “all” on both sides (whether “in Adam,” primarily, or “in
Christ,” eventually) are only the redeemed. It is from error as to this
that some forms of restorationism have originated.