How is Jesus the second Adam?In 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 we read that Jesus is the second Adam: "Thus it is written, 'The first man Adam became a living being'; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven." In what ways is Jesus the second Adam?
The 1 Corinthians 15 passage shares the following similarities: First, Adam was a living being; Jesus is a life-giving being. Second, Adam was from the dust; Jesus, the second Adam, is from heaven. This passage shows that just as Adam was a natural being and Jesus was a spiritual being, so we likewise must be changed from a natural being to a spiritual being, transformed through Jesus Christ.
The larger context of this chapter speaks of the future resurrection of believers and the kind of body believers will have. The resurrected body will be like the resurrected body of Jesus, not like the physical bodies people have in this life. First Corinthians 15:56-57 state, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Further, earlier in the chapter Paul noted, "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). This comparison and contrast demonstrates that through Adam, we experience death. But through Christ, we experience life.
The apostle Paul also addresses this issue in Romans 5. Verses 14-15 explain, "Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many." Adam represented a man who would die. Jesus represents one who brings life.
Jesus is the second Adam as the one who came to bring life, the first among those redeemed through Christ. It is through Jesus that sin's condemning power is broken, offering new life and eternal life through Him.
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