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What's the Connection Between Adam and Jesus?
Thinking about Romans 5:14.
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:14)
Paul is in the middle of explaining the role of sin. The previous verse showed that sin existed before the Law of Moses.
Now Paul will discuss the “gap” between Adam and Moses (when the Law was given to Israel).
The reign of death.
Paul pictures death as a cruel tyrant who cares nothing for the lives of his subjects (a picture many people were all too familiar with since Romans was written around the time of Emperor Nero).
Ungodliness gripped the world, and death reigned through sin, death’s faithful servant. - McGuiggan, Romans, 169
God’s graciousness allowed for the “non-imputing” of sin (Romans 5:13; 4:6-8). “Nevertheless” death reigned from Adam to Moses.
Those who had not sinned according to the likeness of Adam’s transgression?
Death reigned even over “those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam.”
What did Paul mean by this statement?
There are (at least) two schools of thought here.
Adam’s sin had an explicit death penalty attached to it. God told him, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Others sinned and died while there wasn’t that explicit command, “If you do this, you die.” Perhaps that’s what is meant.
Adam’s sin was the first sin, and it introduced sin into the world. Others sinned after Adam and added to the sin problem, but no one after Adam introduced sin into the world. Perhaps this is what is meant.
It’s important to remind us again that people “die” spiritually because of their own sins and not the sins of someone else.
Colossians 2:1-3 leaves me with the definite impression that people are dead through their own trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 gives me the same impression.
In Romans 7:9 I hear Paul saying: “I was alive apart from the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” He spoke of himself being “alive” and he didn’t mean physically. He spoke of meeting-up with the command of God and dying. It doesn’t look to me that Paul believed he was born spiritually dead due to Adam’s sin. It sounds like he died because he sinned. - McGuiggan, Romans, 170
Adam is a type of Christ.
The end of Romans 5:14 refers to Adam as “a type of Him who was to come.”
The word “type” originally had to do with striking a blow, and it later came to refer to the impression made by the blow. - Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 181
Adam is pointing forward in some way to “Him who was to come” - a reference to Jesus Christ.
How does Adam point forward to Christ?
Tom Wacaster suggested some ways in which Adam points forward to Christ - some similarities, some contrasts (Studies in Romans, 206).
Adam was the “head” of the human race; Christ is the spiritual head of the church.
Adam is the son of God; Christ is the Son of God.
Adam brought shame to mankind; Christ brought everlasting glory and hope.
Adam’s bride was taken from his side; Christ’s bride, the church, was purchased from the blood that flowed from His side.
Adam was tempted but fell; Christ was tempted yet overcame.
In this case, I think Paul is making the point that Adam's impact on the world was drastically different from that of Jesus Christ. There would be a Seed that would come (Genesis 3:15).
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