Adam - The Prototype

G. B. Fyfe, London

Part 1 of 18 of the series Key Men in sacred history

IT IS PERHAPS SURPRISING, as well as significant, that so little is set on record regarding Adam, the progenitor of the human race. Authentic data from which to compile an accurate biography of him is not available, and a mantle of silence enshrouds the disposition and ways of the first man after the catastrophe of the Fall. We will search the inspired record in vain for any mention of his physical attributes or his moral character or his life's experiences. In short, we do not know what kind of a man he turned out to be after his expulsion from Eden. Only the inference that he looked forward in faith to the time when God would retrieve the lost situation, may be deduced from the fact that after the sentence of condemnation had been pronounced upon him, Adam called his wife Eve, or 'life'. Otherwise his entire history is condensed into the cryptic statements that 'he begat sons and daughters' and lived to the age of 930 years.
Yet if next to nothing is known of Adam personally and biographically, much importance is attached to him typically and representatively in the unfolding of Scripture doctrine. He was made in the image of God, and, as such, became God's visible representative on this earth - officially constituted the federal head of God's earthly creation. The government of the renovated earth and all its occupants was placed in Adam's hands, while he himself stood upright and looked heavenwards as a dependent and responsible being in relationship with the God who had formed him and so richly endowed him as His vice-regent in the world. It was because of his peak position that the repercussions of his original sin affected all levels of God's earthly creation. The animate as well as the inanimate realms were drawn down with Adam in the Fall, and, in consequence, the whole creation groans in the bonds of ruin and corruption until this day.
Perhaps so little is said about the subsequent doings of Adam in order that our attention might be focussed upon the enormity of his act of transgression in Eden and its sombre and far-reaching effects. It was this fateful deed which set in motion the outworking of God's purposes in grace, and man himself became the very battleground on which was waged the conflict between good and evil, between God and Satan. Thus it may be truly said that the Bible is the history of two men - the first man, Adam, and the second Man, Christ. Both occupy the position of headship, and we are all connected with the one or the other.
The two heads, their acts and their effects upon the race, are contrasted doctrinally in the Roman epistle, chapter 5. Here the one man, Adam, is presented as a figure of another 'one man', Christ. Adam's one sin caused condemnation to fall upon all men; but Christ's one act of righteousness (His dying on the cross) produced the opposite result. By it 'the free gift came upon all men'. This denotes the universal aspect of the completed work of Christ. But being in the nature of a gift it must be individually received. Hence it must be noted, that the second occurrence of the expression 'the many' (or, the mass) in verse 19, is not the numerical equivalent of the 'all men' of verse 18, but embraces only those who personally appropriate the provision made by that one act of righteousness of the second Man, and thereby live through Him.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 introduces another aspect of the matter. Here again he emphasizes the contrast between the two heads and their respective families—'For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive'. In Romans 5 it is a moral issue that is involved, and the gift of life relates to die soul; in 1 Corinthians 15 it is a question of the physical side, and resurrection is in view. The eternal life in this context is associated with the body incorruptible.
Adam brought disappointment to God; the second man, Christ Jesus, filled God's heart with unspeakable delight. By bearing the curse and penalty of sin, Christ has retrieved for God what Adam lost through the Fall. He restored that which He 'took not away', namely, life and its attendant blessings, Psalm 69. Indeed, He brought to God eternal gain by virtue of His death on the cross - a death occasioned by sin's invasion of this world through Adam's disobedience. Glorious Second Man!
But Adam is a type of Christ in another setting. In his Eden days with Eve he presents an exquisite picture of Christ in relation to the Church. It is noteworthy that Eve is viewed as latent in Adam before she actually existed. The words of Genesis 1 are surely tinged with typical meaning -'Let us make man in our image . . . and let them have dominion ... So God created man . . . male and female created He them.' Likewise in the counsels of God, the Church (the second Eve) was seen in Christ before the founda¬tion of the world. In this opening scene in human history, therefore, God had before Him something infinitely greater than simply a terrestrial realm and a natural union. God's primal purpose was to have a universe filled with unfading glory, and all its spheres placed under the control of the Second Man, with His Bride, the Church, united to Him on the throne of His vast dominion. The Church is the fulness, the complement of Him who filleth all in all, even as Eve was designed to be the companion and helpmeet of Adam, Eph. 1. 23.
Furthermore, the manner in which Eve came into being foreshadows the formation of the Church. While Adam was held in the grip of a deep sleep, the Creator built Eve from a rib extracted from his side, and brought her to him when he awoke. Similarly, as a result of the deep sleep of death which Christ underwent at Calvary, and through His triumphant resurrection, the Church, His Bride, is being formed, which He, as God, will yet present unto Himself. Adam recognized immediately the affinity between himself and the woman - for she had come out of the man. She was seen to be distinct from the rest of the animal creation. Being part of himself, and suitable for his close companionship, Eve affords a vivid preview of the Church, the spotless Bride of Christ, who in her nuptial glory will be found morally suited to the heavenly Bridegroom. Implicit in the words of Ephesians 5 do we not see an unmistakable allusion to the bridal relationship of Adam and Eve in the garden of God?
Now, in conclusion, the important moral lesson we learn from Adam is that the operation of selfwill leads to ruin and the interruption of fellowship with God; for selfwill is the very essence of sin. As Christians we profess to acknowledge the lordship of Christ, but we can give practical expression to this only as our wills are made subject to Him. May this be progressively true in our experience, so, that unlike Adam we may afford pleasure and not disappointment to our God.