Jesus Christ: The New Adam
Adamic Typology in the New Testament


In the second century, a bishop by the name of Irenaeus was fighting the greatest heresy the Church had faced up to that time: Gnosticism. This heresy denied the creation of the world by God, instead attributing the events of the first chapters of Genesis to a lower "demiurge". In response, Irenaeus emphasized the unity of creation with redemption - the same God who saves humanity in Jesus Christ also created Adam in the Garden of Eden. Christ's work was one of "recapitulation," and one of Christ's tasks was to undo the wrongs committed by Adam (cf. Danielou, "From Shadows to Reality" 30-47). Irenaeus' argument thus compares and contrasts Jesus and Adam, primarily through typology, in which one person (or event or thing) is seen to represent a model or "type" for a future person (or event or thing). Adamic typology as applied to Christ became a fixture of Christology within the Church, being found in both the East and the West through the centuries. The origin of the Adam-Christ comparison, however, is not Irenaeus, but the New Testament itself, in which one may find many typological connections between Adam and Christ. This typology can be found throughout the canon, including the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John, the Apocalypse of John, and most especially the epistles of Paul. However, it has its foundations even earlier, as the connection between Adam and the coming Messiah presents itself in Jewish literature of the pre-Christian as well as the Christian era, including the Old Testament.

Jewish Foundations

Before exploring Adamic typology in the New Testament, it will be instructive to investigate any typology related to Adam found in the Old Testament and other Jewish sources before or at the time of the writing of the New Testament. This will show any foundational elements of the Adam-Christ link that may have been incorporated by the writers of the New Testament.

Typology is most prominent in the prophets and in extra-biblical Jewish apocalyptic literature. In both cases, the prophet or author is recalling events of the past - the Flood, the Exodus, etc. - as the foundation for great works of God that are to come (cf. Danielou, "From Shadows to Reality" 12). This typology extends also to Adam: "In both Palestinian and Hellenistic Judaism we find traces of an Eastern redeemer myth which finds in the first man partly the redeemer himself and partly a type of the redeemer" (Jeremias 142). One of the key references for these prophecies and apocalypses is the paradisiacal garden in which Adam lived. Specifically, God will in the future restore the blessings of paradise, making it a time in which animals and man will live in harmony, women will no longer have labor pains, and all of creation will be restored. For example, in Ezekiel 34:23-29, the prophet writes,
And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken. "I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them; they shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will provide for them prosperous plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations."
We see in this passage a restoration of nature and man - wild beasts will be banished from the land, man will be able to live in the wilderness securely, the earth will yield its increase (implying a removal of the curse on work found in Genesis 3:17), and there will be no hunger in the land. In other words, with the coming of the Messiah, the paradise lost by Adam will be restored (see also Amos 9:13, Isaiah 11:6-9).

The restoration of paradise by the coming Messiah brings about an intimate connection between Adam and the Messiah - what Adam lost, the Messiah will restore; what Adam did to bring about this loss (sin), the Messiah will reverse by his own actions. Isaiah's famous prophecy of the coming Immanuel also contains Adamic typology:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. (Isaiah 7:14-16)
A number of links between Adam and the coming Messiah can be seen. The "curds and honey" describe the happiness of Paradise and choosing the good and refusing the evil can be paralleled to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil by which Adam fell (Danielou, "From Shadows to Reality" 15). Furthermore, the child of the mysterious "young woman" can be connected to the "seed" promised to the woman Eve in Genesis 3:15. Ultimately, this prophecy shows an antithesis between the coming Immanuel and Adam: the promised Messiah will reverse the actions of Adam.

Jewish apocalyptic literature also included many links between the first Adam and his fall and the coming end of the age to be inaugurated by the Messiah. In the Apocalypse of Baruch, which can be dated around the first or early second century, the following words can be found:
After the signs have come, of which you were told before, when the nations become turbulent, and the time of My Messiah is come, he shall both summon all the nations, and some of them he shall spare, and some of them he shall slay. These things therefore shall come upon the nations which are to be spared by Him... And it shall come to pass, when He has brought low everything that is in the world, And has sat down in peace for the age on the throne of His kingdom, That joy shall then be revealed, And rest shall appear.
And then healing shall descend in dew, And disease shall withdraw, And anxiety and anguish and lamentation pass from amongst men, And gladness proceed through the whole earth.
And no one shall again die untimely, Nor shall any adversity suddenly befall. And judgments, and abusive talk, and contentions, and revenges, And blood, and passions, and envy, and hatred, And whatsoever things are like these shall go into condemnation when they are removed.
For it is these very things which have filled this world with evils, And on account of these the life of man has been greatly troubled.
And wild beasts shall come from the forest and minister unto men and asps and dragons shall come forth from their holes to submit themselves to a little child. And women shall no longer then have pain when they bear, nor shall they suffer torment when they yield the fruit of the womb. (Apocalypse of Baruch 72:2-3; 73:1-7)
Allusions to the pre-Fall state of Adam abound with the coming age of the Messiah, most especially in 73:7 - the curse of the woman, labor pains, will be removed (cf. Goppelt 33).

Furthermore, in the Apocalypse of Moses, also known as the Life of Adam and Eve and dating from the first century, this restoration of the original state of Adam brought about by the Messiah can be found:
But the Lord turned to Adam and said: "I will not suffer thee henceforward to be in paradise." And Adam answered and said, "Grant me, O Lord, of the Tree of Life that I may eat of it, before I be cast out." Then the Lord spake to Adam, "Thou shalt not take of it now, for I have commanded the cherubim with the flaming sword that turneth (every way) to guard it from thee that thou taste not of it; but thou hast the war which the adversary hath put into thee, yet when thou art gone out of paradise, if thou shouldst keep thyself from all evil, as one about to die, when again the Resurrection hath come to pass, I will raise thee up and then there shall be given to thee the Tree of Life." (Apocalypse of Moses 28:1-4)
Adam cannot have his pre-fall state restored, nor does he have access to the Tree of Life anymore. However, the Lord does promise that one day - "when again the Resurrection hath come to pass" - this Tree of Life will be restored and humanity will again have access to it (cf. Goppelt 33).

It is clear from this brief overview that the New Testament authors did not have to invent an Adamic typology. Instead, they applied the typology that existed within Judaism to the one whom they believed was the promised Messiah of the prophets, Jesus Christ.

The Synoptic Gospels

Adamic typology is found early in the Synoptic Gospels through the relating of the Temptation of Jesus by the Devil in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13). "The Temptation of Jesus is, as it were, a sequel to the Temptation of Adam" (Danielou, "From Shadows to Reality" 16-17). The reign of Adam in Paradise was overthrown by the devil through the temptation of Adam; Christ's reign could only be instituted after he had overcome the temptations of the devil.

Each of the accounts of the Temptation differs slightly from the others; but it is in Mark's and Luke's accounts that we find the most explicit Adamic typology (Matthew is more concerned with Mosaic typology throughout his Gospel, and thus narrates his stories to point to Jesus as the "new Moses"). Mark begins his entire Gospel with the phrase "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1); the use of "Son of God" (cf. Luke 3:38) means "an Adamic typology is already operative" (Reimer 109), thus preparing us for the temptation account to be found a few verses later. As is typical for him, Mark uses a scarcity of words to convey the scene:
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him. (Mark 1:12-13)
The first direct parallel to the Genesis story is found in the very first words of the pericope. "The Spirit immediately drove him out..." appears to parallel Genesis 3:24 which occurs after the Fall: "He drove out the man." Jesus, who has to reverse the curse of Adam, must also reverse the actions of Adam. As Adam was driven out of Paradise by God due to his falling to temptation, thus Jesus must be driven by God out into the desert to resist the devil's temptations.

The second parallel in the Markan account occurs after Christ's successful overcoming of temptation: "he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him" (Mark 1:13). This invokes the Paradisiacal situation related in Jewish Midrash that Adam was honored by beasts and served by angels (Goppelt 98); a state of affairs that was lost due to the Fall. Now that Christ has overcome the temptations of Satan, he is able to restore the status which Adam had forfeited (cf. Danielou, "From Shadows to Reality" 17). So it becomes clear early in his Gospel that Mark wishes to evoke multiple images of Adam to establish Christ as the second Adam who undoes the damage caused by humanity's first parent.

It is in the Gospel of Luke, however, that the most explicit use of Adamic typology occurs. This is not surprising, as Luke, being the disciple of Paul, would have been deeply familiar with the idea of Christ as the second Adam (Goppelt 97). Luke's account goes as follows:
Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli..., the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'"
And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'"
And he took him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"
And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. (Luke 3:23,4:1-13).
In both Matthew and Mark, the recounting of the Temptation narrative occurs immediately following the Baptism of Jesus. Luke, however, inserts the genealogy of Jesus between these two stories. This placement seems odd until one notices the difference between Luke and Matthew's genealogies. Whereas Matthew begins with Abraham, Luke traces Christ's genealogy all the way back to Adam, whom he calls "Son of God" (Luke 3:38). By calling Adam "Son of God" here, he directly links him to Jesus, who before the genealogy account has been called "my beloved Son" by God at his baptism (Luke 3:22). Thus Luke is making the Adam-Christ typology quite overt leading into the Temptation account. The divine sonship motif continues in 4:3, as the devil's first words to Christ are "if you are the Son of God..." As the devil tempted the first "Son of God," and he fell, so now he is attempting to lead this "Son of God" (cf. Luke 3:22) to fall as well.

The three temptations related by Luke can each be traced back to the original temptation of Adam. The first temptation, for Jesus illicitly to turn the stones into bread to feed his hunger, parallels the temptation to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam ate what he should not have eaten; Jesus resists eating. The second temptation, in which the devil offers Jesus full authority and glory, matches the temptation of Satan in the garden that Adam "will be like God" (Genesis 3:5). In both cases, the person is tempted to acquire God's authority and glory for himself through illegitimate means. As Leonard writes, "unlike the first Adam...Jesus refuses to grasp for the power and authority Satan offers Him. He will abide by the terms of the covenant: God will be God, and He, the Son of Man, will remain in the role of Servant." (Leonard 89). The final temptation, in which Jesus is tempted to test God by throwing himself off the pinnacle of the temple, corresponds to the fundamental disobedience of Adam: Adam was commanded not to eat of one particular tree, but he tested God by eating of it anyway to see what would happen. Jesus, however, resists this temptation and has no desire to test God.

In each of the temptation accounts, the basic message is the same: the obedience of Jesus contrasts to the disobedience of Adam. As the first "Son of God" fell to the temptations of the devil, so this new "Son of God" resists his temptations and overcomes the power of the devil. Christ's public ministry can now begin as the New Adam.

The Gospel of John

John's Gospel does not include the account of the Temptation in the Desert as the Synoptic Gospels do. However, John, who fills his Gospel with many typological signs and Old Testament imagery, begins his work with language that immediately harkens to the creation account and Adam in Paradise: "In the beginning was the Word..." (John 1:1). By using "In the beginning" to start his Gospel, John is modeling his prologue after the first creation account found in Genesis 1. Inserted into this prologue is the figure of John the Baptist (vv.6-9, 15-18), who is later called the "friend of the Bridegroom" (John 3:29). Thus, John is presenting the following image: Jesus is a new Adam who is the "bridegroom." But if Christ is a bridegroom, who then is his bride? In Genesis 2:21-23, Adam is given a bride, Eve, by God making a woman out of his side:
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
Near the end of John's Gospel, we encounter a strange scene from the Cross:
But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness -- his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth -- that you also may believe. (John 19:34-35)
Throughout Church history, a common interpretation of this passage has been sacramental: Christ's blood represents the Eucharist and the water represents Baptism. This sacramental connection consequently represents the Church, which is the dispenser of all sacraments. So from Christ's side is born the Church. As from Adam's side comes forth the birth of his bride, Eve, from Christ's side comes forth the birth of his bride, the Church. The Church Fathers found much in this connection; Hilary even considered the sleep of Adam as one of the great "sacraments" of the Old Testament (Danielou, "From Shadows to Reality" 48). St. Ephrem the Syrian sums up the view of the Fathers when he writes,
"There came forth blood and water," which is his church, and it is built on him, just as [in the case of] Adam, whose wife was taken from his side...From Adam's rib there was death, but from our Lord's rib, life (Commentary on Tatian's Diatessaron 20:11)
Did John understand this typology when he was writing his Gospel or was it just an invention of the Church Fathers? Considering how deep his entire Gospel is in Old Testament and Sacramental imagery, as well as his use of the same Greek word that the Septuagint uses to describe Adam's "side", it seems clear that he intends to convey an Adamic typology in this passage.

Epistles of Paul

The Adamic typology found in the Gospels consists of implicit allusions; in Paul's letters however the Adam-Christ comparison fully blossoms. The Apostle Paul makes much use of the Old Testament in order to further his own arguments about the centrality of Christ in Salvation History (cf. Amiot 40). The events recorded in the Scriptures are intended to assist the believer in coming to a full acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which Paul preaches: "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4). Typology is one of the primary constructs for Paul to interpret past occurrences in salvation history; the events, persons, and realities recorded in the Old Covenant point to the events, persons and realities of the New Covenant, such as Christ and his Church. "Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come" (1Corinthians 10:11). Interestingly, Paul's typology is mostly concerned with the Church, rather than the person of Christ (cf. Goppelt 129). In fact, "the only typological relationship Paul uses to illuminate the meaning of Christ's coming into the world is Adam-Christ typology" (Goppelt 129). Adamic typology thus is a key component of Paul's Christology and his explanation for the purpose of Christ's saving works. There are a number of instances in which Paul either explicitly or implicitly incorporates an Adam-Christ comparison; due to space limitations, this paper will consider five instances: Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, 1 Corinthians 15:44-49, Colossians 1:15-20, and Ephesians 5:22-33. (For the purposes of this arcile, "Paul" and "Pauline" will refer to the author of all thirteen letters attributed to Paul.)

Romans 5:12-21

In the first eight chapters of Romans, Paul is concerned with relating to his readers the situation of the human race without Christ, and the effects that Christ's saving work have on humanity. In chapters 1-3, he details the unfortunate situation of all of humanity, both Gentiles (chapter 1) and Jews (chapter 2). Some scholars have seen in Romans 1:18-32 many links to the creation account in Genesis (Allen 15), thus incorporating Adamic typology implicitly before using it explicitly in chapter 5. Paul's conclusion for humanity is that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Then, beginning in chapter 4, Paul begins to speak of Old Testament figures to point the way to the resolution of the dilemma mankind finds itself in. Chapter 4 deals with Abraham and the importance of faith. Then in Romans 5 we find the most explicit Adamic typology in all the New Testament. Whereas one may find in the Gospels allusions and hints to an Adam-Christ relationship, in Romans 5:12-21 Paul makes a direct link between Adam and Christ:
Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned -- sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were 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 in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous. Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In verse 14, Paul makes the connection between Adam and Christ explicitly typological ("Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come"). This sets the stage for the comparison between Adam and Christ.

This passage is quite structured, leading the reader to understand both how Adam and Christ correspond, and how they differ. Verses 12 and 18-19 show the correspondence: the actions of "one man" affect the whole of the human race. Adam's actions introduce the passage in verse 12: "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin." Then in verse 18-19, Paul makes the comparison explicit: "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous." Thus, in both the case of Adam and Christ, it is the actions of "one man" (a term used 11 times in this passage) that impact all who follow that man. This is typical of Hebrew thought - "to see the whole contained in the beginning" (Allen 16). A Jewish writing from the late first century/early second century sees the relationship of Adam to all of humanity similarly to Paul; 4 Ezra 7:118 states, "O Adam, what have you done? For though it was you who sinned, the fall was not yours alone, but ours also who are your descendents" (cf. Dunn 89). Paul sees in each man the beginning of a stage of history - Adam as the beginning of human history, and Christ as the beginning of salvation history.

However, there is a divergence between the two, which is characteristic of typology - anti-type and type are not identical, rather one leads to a deeper understanding of the other, not only in how the two compare but also in how they contrast. In verses 15-17, Paul lays out the difference:
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 in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Adam's one act effected all of humanity, as did Christ's, but Christ's action was more powerful than Adam's. By being a gift of God, it overcomes the transgression of Adam and is able to prevail completely over that transgression. Amiot writes, "Paul has reminded us of our solidarity with Adam only in order to emphasize our contrasting solidarity with Christ, which is infinitely more efficacious because it sets in motion an infinitely greater force than that of sin and death." (Amiot 71). If Paul had not made this explicit, it might be possible for the reader to think that the two actions have equal strength, setting up an unacceptable dualism contrary to Paul's beliefs.

Thus, the pattern for Paul in this passage is quite clear: Adam's disobedience leads to sin which results in death; Christ's obedience leads to grace which results in eternal life. "For St. Paul, the act of the first man...had essentially been one of disobedience, drawing down upon him death, drawing all other men after him into sin and consequently, into death. But this sinister fruitfulness of the first sin in sin and death is surpassed by the fruitfulness in justice and life revealed by the obedience of Jesus." (Bouyer 65). By invoking Adamic typology, Paul is able to further his overall argument in Romans 1-8 that humanity is lost, but through the actions of Christ, the human race is able to be justified and gain eternal life with God.

After this linking of Adam to Christ in salvation history, Paul follows this passage by applying its principles to the life of the individual Christian. In Romans 6:6, Paul, writing of the effects of baptism, explains, "We know that our old self (or "old man") was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin." The "old man" referenced by Paul alludes to Adam (cf. Allen 17), and as Christ brings life to humanity, this life is applied to the "old man" of each individual believer in the waters of baptism. The early church continued to see baptism as a moment in which the failings of the "old man", or Adam, is overcome in the life of the Christian by the power of Christ's death and resurrection. For example, the baptized Christian was to take off their garments before being baptized, and "this old garment of corruption and sin which the baptized are to strip the very garment with which Adam was clothed after his sin. So we see the relationship between the scene in Paradise in which Adam, vanquished by Satan, is clothed with corruptibility; that of Calvary in which Jesus, the new Adam, the conqueror of Satan, strips off his tunic of corruptibility; and finally, Baptism, in which the person being baptized takes off, with his old garments, the corruptibility in which he shared as long as he was under the dominion of Satan" (Danielou, "The Bible and the Liturgy" 38-39, cf. Danielou, "The Bible and the Liturgy" 21, 43).

Paul's linkage to the first chapters of Genesis does not end in chapter 6. In chapter 7, Paul relates the struggle of the sinner to overcome the sin that dominates his life. In verse 8, he writes, "But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought in me all kinds of covetousness." This can be seen to correspond with fact that in Genesis 3 the sin "received its stimulus through the commandment" (Goppelt 131). Also, in both Romans 7 and Genesis 3, sin is a personal force that deceives men (Romans 7:11; Genesis 3:13). Finally, the result of sin is death (Romans 7:11; Genesis 3:19).

So it is clear that Paul is using various types and images from the creation account to bolster his argument in this section of Romans (chapters 5-7). There is the explicit Adam-Christ typology found in chapter 5, but this connection between the work of Christ and the work of Adam continues to be used by Paul to apply to the life of the Christian - both how he sins like Adam and how he overcomes the "Adam" living within him through baptism.

1 Corinthians 15:20-22

In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians are found two more instances of an explicit Adamic typology applied to Christ. In the fifteenth chapter of this letter, Paul is elucidating details of the resurrection of Christ, and how it is applied to the individual believer. He first recounts (vv. 1-11) in creedal formula the historical details of Christ's resurrection. He then goes on to explain how Christ's resurrection is proof against those who preach that there is no resurrection of the dead (vv. 12-19), and that Christ's resurrection is the central doctrine of the Christian faith.

At this point Paul inserts a comparison to Adam:
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 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 15:20-22)
Verses 22 and 23 have an obvious repeated parallelism, in which Paul emphasizes his point that death has entered the world through "a man," Adam, and resurrection has entered the world through "a man," Christ (cf. Kreitzer 11). This is in brief form the same argument he was to make more clear in the passage from Romans studied above, but in this case it is used to support the resurrection. For if death entered the world through Adam, and Christ reverses the curse of Adam, then death had to be defeated, and thus Christ had to have been raised from the dead. As Paul writes a bit later, "then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?" (1Corinthians 15:54-55). In Romans, the emphasis was on the act of each man, Adam and Christ, and how Christ's act overcomes Adam's. Here the emphasis is more on the practical proof of Christ's act overcoming Adam's: it is through the resurrection that Christ has overcome the result of Adam's action, which is death. His resurrection is the "first fruits" of the general resurrection that will be applied to all believers at his coming (1 Corinthians 15:23).

1 Corinthians 15:44-49

Paul's discussion of the doctrine of the resurrection encompasses all 58 verses of chapter 15. Starting in verse 35, Paul begins to write of the resurrection body each person will receive; again, he includes Adamic typology to make his point:
It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 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 which is first but the physical, 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 are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so 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. (1Corinthians 15:44-49)
In verse 45, Paul paraphrases LXX Genesis 2:7 in the manner of the Targum, adding two words: "first " and "Adam". This allows him to set up the typological contrast between Adam and Christ which follows. Adam is the "first man," and has a physical body, and Christ now has a spiritual body and is the "last Adam." Adam became a "living being," and Christ becomes a "life-giving spirit." However, in this case, Paul's analogy breaks down a bit. Kreitzer notes,
in calling Christ the 'life-giving spirit' Paul is making a statement about the work of Christ within the church which has no parallel on the Adamic side of the analogy. The motivating factor in Paul's use of the analogy was his desire to show that a relationship exists between Adam and the rest of humankind. But the wonder of what God had done for humankind through Christ was so great that the Adam/Christ analogy broke down. (Kreitzer 12)
Using Adamic typology, as always, helps Paul to emphasize the solidarity of the two Adams with the rest of humanity, but Paul does not hesitate to go beyond the typology to make an important theological statement.

In bringing Adam into a discussion of the final days of history when Christ will return, Paul betrays a dependence upon the Jewish eschatology of his times. One common belief was that the end would correspond to the beginning, and thus Adam would have a role in the eschaton (Murphy-O'Connor 813). Paul too sees a role for Adam in the final days; however, it is Christ, the "last Adam," who plays that role. Thus Paul, while showing a dependence upon contemporary Jewish eschatology, feels free to shape it in a Christo-centric fashion. Furthermore, Paul sees Christ's resurrection as more than a simple restoration of the pre-Fall state: "the new humanity is not a return to a primordial entity, but a genuinely new thing, begun by Christ" (Ziesler 53).

Colossians 1:15-20

The above passages are the only ones in which Paul explicitly declares an Adamic typology in relation to Christ. However, the Adam-Christ relationship is alluded to in other places within the Pauline corpus. For example, in Colossians 1:15-20, Paul writes of Christ:
He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities -- all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Adamic allusions permeate this Christological hymn. The phrase "image of the invisible God" points to Genesis 1:27: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Furthermore, Christ is called the "first-born of all creation", as Adam is the first-born of humanity. In Romans and 1 Corinthians, it is clear that Paul sees Adam as the head of fallen humanity; in Colossians, he calls Jesus "head of the body, the church" (1:18), in other words, of the new humanity redeemed by Christ.

However, there is a distinct difference between the Adam-Christ comparison found in Romans and 1 Corinthians and the comparison found here in Colossians. Ridderbos notes, "whereas in 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 5 Christ is the second or last Adam, who follows after the first in the order of redemptive history, in Colossians 1:15 as the Firstborn, the Image of God, etc., he is antecedent to the first, and in this respect the first Adam cannot be regarded as his 'type,' as is the case in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15" (Ridderbos 84). As is typical for Paul, when he needs to make a point, he does not mind stretching an analogy or comparison beyond convention. In this case, Christ is a type of Adam, rather than the opposite. Adam, the first-born of humanity made in the image of God, comes to reflect Christ, the pre-existent "first-born" and true image of the invisible God.

Ephesians 5:22-33

Paul's use of the Adam-Christ comparison extends to practical pastoral issues as well. In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul is giving advice on how husbands and wives are to treat one another:
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Paul wants to emphasize the integral unity between a husband and wife, and quotes Genesis 2:24 for scriptural proof: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh" (Ephesians 5:30). However, Paul immediately follows this quote with a sudden shift in emphasis: "This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:31). For Paul, the union affected in the marital bond between Adam and Eve is so intimate that they are considered "one flesh", and this reflects the mysterious union between Christ and his Church. Thus, in this typology, Adam is a type of Christ, and Eve is a type of the Church, which echoes the typology that was seen in the Gospel of John, but it is used here for practical pastoral reasons.

Apocalypse of John

Another place where Adamic typology is found in the New Testament is the final book of the canon: the Apocalypse of John. This book, structured around the liturgy, gives visions both of heavenly worship and persecutions of the church on earth, using extensive Old Testament imagery (cf. Hahn 79ff). Part of the imagery found in this revelation is from the Garden of Eden, with allusions to paradise, the serpent, and Eve.

In chapter 12, John sees a vision of a "great red dragon" attempting to devour the child of a "woman clothed with the sun" (Rev. 12:1-6). John describes the dragon as "that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). With the use of the term "serpent" as well as calling him a "deceiver," John is clearly linking this dragon to the original serpent of Genesis 3:1 (LXX) who deceived the woman Eve. Reversing the events of Genesis 3 - and fulfilling the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 - John witnesses the forces of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, defeating the forces of this great serpent. Thus Christ reverses the curse of Adam. The result is a return to the paradisiacal state:
Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him (Revelation 22:1-3).
As Collins notes, "this eschatological vision incorporates the original bliss of Eden (Gen 2:9)" (Collins 1016). One of the specific results of the defeat of the serpent is restored access to the "Tree of Life," access to which God removed after the fall (Genesis 3:22). Like the Jewish apocalyptic literature of the time, John's vision of the final restoration of the world uses imagery from the original Paradise, and it is the Lamb who is the new Adam who reverses the curses wrought by the first Adam. In fact, this passage shows a remarkable resemblance to the contemporary Apocalypse of Moses, which states, "And the throne of God was fixed where the Tree of Life was" (Apocalypse of Moses 22:4). For the Apostle John, this "throne of God" was also "of the Lamb," and Christ thus restores the access to the Tree of Life which was lost by Adam.


Adamic typology applied to Christ is rich and deep in the New Testament. It can be found in multiple literary forms in the canon: Gospel, Epistle, and Apocalypse. It can be found in various authors: Mark, Luke, John, and Paul. It is not, however, an invention of the New Testament authors, but instead builds upon the typology and imagery found in their Jewish sources such as the Old Testament and extra-canonical apocalyptic literature. In the Synoptic Gospel tradition, Jesus is presented as the new Adam who must face the same temptations which Adam faced. Instead of failing like the original Adam, Christ succeeds in overcoming the temptations of the devil and is thus worthy to begin the public ministry that will lead to his salvific death. In John's Gospel, so rich in Old Testament imagery, Christ's pre-existence is contrasted to the creation of Adam in time, and it is Christ's death which gives birth to the Church from his side, as Eve was drawn from the side of Adam in the Garden. John also uses imagery in his Apocalypse from the Garden to present his vision of the final victory of Christ over the ancient serpent. At the end of time, Christ will overcome the enemy of Adam and the human race, and access to the Tree of Life will be restored.

But it is in Paul that the fullest and most explicit Adamic typology is found. In Adam, Paul sees the representative of fallen humanity; in Christ, the representative - and "first-fruits" - of a redeemed humanity. Through the actions of the first Adam, all of humanity is under the weight of sin and is subject to death, but through the actions of the "last Adam," Christ, humanity receives an overpowering grace which leads to eternal life. Paul also uses Adamic typology when expressing his Christological belief in the pre-existence of Christ, as well as to express the deep intimacy between Christ and his Church.

In God's plan of salvation history, there are many "rhythms;" how God worked in one age is consistent with how He will work in another era. Furthermore, the actions of one era will be built upon His actions in an earlier era. The primary mission of His Son was to undo the damage of His first human "son," and in doing so, he recapitulated the effects of Adam's Fall, thus allowing for the restoration - and even glorification - of all of humanity.

Works Cited

Allen, Leslie C. "The Old Testament in Romans I-VIII." Vox Evangelica. Volume 3, 1964: 6-41.
Amiot, Francois. The Key Concepts of St. Paul. New York: Herder and Herder, 1962.
Bouyer, Louis. The Spirituality of the New Testament and the Fathers. Minneapolis, MN: Winston Press, Inc., 1963.
Collins, Adela Yarbro. "The Apocalypse (Revelation)." The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Ed. Raymond Brown. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990. 996-1016.
Danielou, Jean, S.J. From Shadows to Reality: Studies in the Biblical Typology of the Fathers. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1960.
---. The Bible and the Liturgy. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008.
Dunn, James D.G. The Theology of Paul the Apostle. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998.
Jeremias, Joachim. "Adam." Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume 1. Ed. Gerhard Kittel. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006. 141-143.
Kreitzer, L.J. "Adam and Christ." Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, Daniel G. Reid. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993. 9-15.
Leonard, J.E. I Will Be Their God. Arlington Heights, IL: Laudemont Press, 1992.
Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome, O.P. "The First Letter to the Corinthians." The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Ed. Raymond Brown. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990. 798-815.
Goppelt, Leonhard. Typos: The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982.
Hahn, Scott. The Lamb's Supper. New York: Doubleday, 1999.
Reimer, Michael J. "The Pentateuch: The Hypotext of Mark 1:1-4:34." McMaster Journal of Theology and Ministry. Volume 7, 2006: 103-131.
Ridderbos, Herman. Paul: An Outline of His Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975.
Ziesler, John. Pauline Christianity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.




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