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Adam a Figure (Type) of Christ 

We were not yet finished with what we head-lined as “Christological Perspectives.” We referred, of course, to the implicit meaning and divine intent of Adam’s being the one man through whom sin entered into the world, so that death passed to all men, because God reckoned Adam’s transgression to all men unto condemnation. 

Yet, herein is the great. Christological perspective: Adam is a type of Christ. He is a type of the One, who is coming. Christ was coming already in the counsel of God before the foundation of the world. For God has a book of life of the Lamb; who was slain from the foundation of the world. Rev. 13:8. Christ was indeed before Abraham, as He says, “Before Abrahambecame, I am.” John 8:58. According to Col. 1:17-19, Christ is “before all things.” He is the First-born of all creatures, as the First-born out of the dead. For “all things were created by him and for him!” 

Such is the meaning of Adam’s being, the type of Christ. Christ is first. Otherwise Adam could not be the one typifying Him. When Paul says that Adam is the type of Christ, the last Adam, Who is the Lord from heaven, he evidently limits this to one aspect of Christ’s work. Indeed, there were many shadows and types in the Old Testament dispensation which refer to Christ’s work. We have but to think of the bloody sacrifices upon the great altar in their message of the expiation of all of our sins. Heb. 9:9. However, Adam was not a type of Christ in this sense, He was only a type of Christ from the viewpoint that as Christ is the head of all of His people, so Adam is the representative head of the entire human race. They are indeed both Adam, man, (anthropos), who as one “man” represented all who were in them. Adam was not a savior of the human race, but he is “father.” Christ is not a father but He is the Savior, the mediator of God, who represents all His own. Thus we must understand this “figure” or type which was Adam. Each in his own way and on his own level and according his own nature represented an “all.” The first Adam represented all mankind, the last Adam represents all the elect given him from the Father from before the foundation of the world. John 17:4-6. Such is the evident intent of the apostle in verse 18 of this chapter, where we read, “Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of the one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” 

The point of comparison which Paul makes here between Adam and Christ is thus limited in its scope; it is confined to the point of the legal headship of both to their respective “all” whom each represents. Let this be clearly seen. 

The Free Gift of Grace Preeminent Over the Transgression vs. 15 

Paul is not treating here of two subjects but only of one. He is telling the church at Rome the great gospel-story in Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Promise to the fathers. The greatness of the gift of grace is set in bold relief against the one transgression of Adam in Paradise. He does still more! He shows the great design of grace in Christ as prefigured by the fall through one man. Only thus will the truth stand that we are not saved by works but by grace. Otherwise grace will no longer be grace, and works will not be works! The gates of hell would prevail against this truth and deny the chief cornerstone: Christ. Faulty anthropology and erroneous doctrine concerning the fall must needs be a part and parcel of the denial of the atoning work of God in Christ Jesus, who, is also the one man. This is evident from Pelagius’ propositions which we quoted in our former essay, which see on page 470. 

It is quite evident that Paul in speaking of “the offense” of Adam is not referring to the multitude of sins which Adam must have committed during the some 960 years which he lived on earth after the fall in his sinful nature. Rather is he speaking here of the one great offense of eating from the forbidden tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He repeatedly speaks of this as being “the transgression,” or “the offense,” as it is translated in the KJV of the Bible. See Verses 12, 15, 17, 18, and 20. 

In this comparison between Adam and Christ Paul teaches us that “many died” through the transgression of one. Paul uses a form of the verb, which sees the entire picture of the millions of the dying in one view. The verb employed in the Greek is not entirely adequately translated by the verb “died.” The Holland “afsterven” is more expressive and comes nearer to the point. It really means: to die off. It refers to a violent death. It is the same verb which Paul uses to indicate the death of Christ on the cross. Besides, this death is not a long process but is referred to as being the death of all. Millions upon millions of people died in Adam. That Paul here says that “many” died does, not mean that “all” did not die, as is evident from verse 18. Rather Paul is speaking of the one in relation to the multitudes upon multitudes of those who died in that one transgression of Adam. This death in its dire consequences must be seen in its full magnitude. Only thus will we appreciate the “much more” of what Christ did for us when He died for us and brought about the free gift of grace. 

Let it then be noticed that the gracious gift of God is not such that it brings to death, to the grave and to hell! For it is the grace by the one man, Jesus Christ. There are several elements here which we ought to notice clearly. In the first place, we should notice the names here of this one man, by whom is the gift of grace. He is “Jesus Christ.” That He is Jesus tells us that He is the Son of God. This is the name given Him by Joseph upon the instruction of the angel in a dream. It indicates that He is Immanuel, God-with-us. For the name Jesus means: Jehovah saves, or Jehovah is salvation. He is the God of the burning-bush. The zeal of God’s house consumes him. Many waters cannot quench His love for the church. He is the faithful I-Am-that-I-Am. He remembers his mercy and his. promise in the time of the fulfillment of the promise. Besides, He is the Christ. He is the Anointed One of God. He revealed the secret counsel of God concerning our redemption. He is our chief Priest, who brings the sacrifice for our sins. Moreover, He is also our eternal King. This one will save His, people from their sins. 

All that Christ is and does is the gracious gift. It is thecharisma. Paul calls it “the grace of God” and “the gift in grace.” That he calls it the grace of God shows that it is a grace which is first of all a perfection in God. He is the God of all grace. The term grace appears more than one hundred times in the New Testament. Basically grace is that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm and loveliness. It indicates that God as the God of grace is beautiful in His perfections. Here it refers to the grace of God manifested to the guilty and filthy sinner. It is God’s attitude and work in which he restores the ill-deserving sinner. It reaches us when we were yet sinners, enemies of God, helpless and weak. It saves from wrath and from the curse of the law. This is underscored in what is added when Paul writes “the gift in grace.” In the sphere of this grace of God there is nothing but the gift of God. By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of you; it is the gift of God. It is wholly and purely gift; nothing more! However, it is also nothing less than gift. That makes those who are saved only recipients of the benefit. We can boast in nought else by the gift of grace, and thus we end not in the gift but in the Giver, God! 

However, thus we do not yet grasp the fine point here in the text. That matter is the “much more” of the gift of grace. In the Greek this is placed emphatically on the foreground by the apostle. There is an “abundance” in this grace. It flows over the bounds of all human measurements, not only, but it is far greater, deeper, richer, and more wonderful than the one transgression of Adam. And this is due to the fact that the last Adam is so far preeminent over the fist Adam. The latter is but a type of the former. And as the Christ exceeds Adam so does the “free gift” in Christ. For grace does not simply restore us to the former state of rectitude in Adam but it establishes us to the eternal inheritance in Christ as sons and daughters of the living God. In Him we have eternal life, immortality, and glory! 

Indeed, the free gift (to charisma) is not as the offense. The apostle casts this reasoning in the form of a conditional sentence. It is a conditional sentence of fact. If the fact of the offense was such that it brought violent death to many, the fact of the grace in Christ is such that it far exceeds the bounds of sin and death! 

The Free Gift Out of Many Transgressions Unto Justification Vs. 16. 

In this verse Paul does not really introduce a new subject, but rather tells us some more about the abundance of the free gift to many. He introduces the legal aspect of this free gift by contrasting it with the legal aspect of the offense of Adam in Paradise. 

We ought to notice that Adam is here called “the one who sinned.” Here too the tense indicates that Paul is: not referring to the continual sins of Adam after the fall till the day of his death, but rather to the one sin of eating from the forbidden tree, and thus transgressing the commandment of God. For Adam did not die as the physical consequence of eating the forbidden fruit, but he died as the execution of the just judgment of God. Wherefore the term “sinned” is here introduced. This qualifies the offense as being sin: the transgression of the commandment of God. The law was present; otherwise there could be no transgression. For all sin is lawlessness. It was greatdisobedience to the command of God, and not simply an error or lack of knowledge. It falls under the rule: he that knows to do good and does it not, to him it is sin! By this one act of disobedience “many were made sinners,” that is, legally thus declared to be by the judge of heaven and of earth. All men were thus in thestate of GUILT! It affects our legal status to the law by virtue of the pronouncement of the Judge of all the earth. It was a “judgment unto condemnation” in which we were all declared guilty in Adam, the first! 

But not so the free gift. Ah, take note, dear reader! Here the starting-point is not in a state of rectitude. Nay, the starting-point of the free grace is in the midst of “many transgressions.” Calvary is placed by God in the midst of sinners and among the many transgressions in which the original sin manifests itself! We can hardly say that the cross of Christ towers “O’er the wrecks of time.” I would rather say that it towers in the midst of the many transgressions of mankind. It towers even as did the serpent in the wilderness. It towers as the great love of God in the midst of the loveless, the enemies, the weak, the helpless, the guiltless, the damn-worthy! 

Out of these many the free gift of the righteousness of God is unto such a state that God pronounces us just before Him and heirs of everlasting life! Here we jubilate in our being accounted before God as those who had never sinned, yea, as those who had kept all of God’s commandments, because the Lord did account this one man, Jesus Christ as the Guilty One with our guilt. The curse of our sins and the wrath of God pressed from His brow the bloody sweat. 

Forsooth, such is the preeminence of this one man, our Lord Jesus Christ. 

—G.L.