This essay deals with a specific
motif of Paul’s Christology: Christ, the Lost Adam. Detailed comparison and
contrast as found in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-47, are related to
the theological significance of this Pauline doctrine.
To Paul, Adam is a historical
figure representing mankind. In an anthropological term, Adam stands for some
primordial impulse in man which goes beyond the prohibition of “epithumia”
(desire). This epithumia is awakened in Adam and representatively in every man,
the longing for all kinds of things (Rom 7:8). The deed of Adam is marked by
self-seeking and self- centred desire, resulting in disobedience. It is in this
way that Man (Adam) turns his back on God and the way of life God created for him.
In Romans 5:12-21 Paul emphasizes the universal consequences of Adam’s
transgression: sin and death is transmitted to all humanity. Even the creation
is subjected to “mataiotes” (futility) and “douleia tes phthoras: (bondage to
decay. Rom 8:20, cf Gen 3:17).
The concept that Christ is “the
Last Adam” plays a considerable part in Paul’s thinking, although the name
“Adam” is not specifically mentioned in Romans. Whereas in Philippians 2:5-11,
Paul compares Adam and Christ, the analysis between Adarn and Christ in Romans
5:12-21 is given in a series of contrasts: the transgression of man as opposed
to the gift of God in Christ. The result of the transgression is contrasted
with the result of the gift of God in the redemption of Christ: “As in Adam all
die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). Theologically
speaking, the coming of Christ as the last Adam is to regain the lost paradise
and the lost sonship of God. Christ is to restore a true and full humanity, a
theme which occurs in the apocalyptic vision of Ezekiel, Deutero-Isaiah and
other Jewish writings.
The work of Christ is to create a
new humanity, one which Christians “put on” His nature like a robe in their
baptism (Gal 3:27, Rom 6:3-6). To put on Christ in baptism means the eradication
of the old and corrupt human nature. Though in baptism this putting on of the
new humanity has taken place eschatologically, Christians still need to be
exhorted to what they already are: to put away ... the old man, and put
on the new created in righteousness and holiness of truth (Eph 4:22-24). If any
person is in Christ and keeps himself holy and worthy, he is a new creation (2
Cor 5:17, Gal 5:16-23, 6:15).
In conclusion, the term “Last Adam”
which occurs only once in 1 Cor 15:45ff is related to Paul’s eschatology. Paul
speaks of Adamic Christology in terms of antithesis: earthly versus heavenly,
death versus life, carnal versus spiritual. Behind the Last Adam doctrine lies the divine “glory” and “image” and the concept of the
eschatological community as a new creation in Christ.