A Second Race of Men1
[This post originally appeared on TERPOGIJC]
By Dr. Charles L. Parker
It is obviously traditional to consider the resurrection of Christ on Easter. Many Christians are unaware of the fact that the Lord has provided us with what may be thought of as the “Full Mention” of Christ’s resurrection, together with the resurrection of the redeemed, in 1 Corinthians 15. It was originally given to combat false teaching in the assembly at Corinth, where some were teaching that there is no resurrection of the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:12) Interestingly, it is the longest chapter in the New Testament Epistles, suggesting how important it really is.
In the largest portion of the chapter, in verses 1-44, the Holy Spirit irrefutably establishes the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. The remaining verses (verses 45-58) form the substance of our considerations.
In these verses we encounter two key titles for the Lord Jesus Christ that are, sadly, not very well-known among God’s people today. The first of these is in verse 45, where we encounter these words, speaking of Jesus Christ: the Last Adam. This is a very important title for Jesus because it teaches us three vital truths.
- Jesus was born of a woman who was of the race of Adam. The fact that he was virgin-born, having no earthly biological father, identifies that he did not inherit the sin nature that fell upon all full descendants of Adam’s race. But, having a mother of Adam’s race, He literally became one of “us,” making it possible for Him to stand in our stead before God.
- Him being the “Last Adam” is equally crucial. Adam’s race utterly corrupted God’s creation, especially in relation to this earth. God has been willing to extend mercy to the race, putting off its destruction for millennia. But, we must make no mistake about it: God is going to utterly set aside this erring race, together with the corrupted earth it has ruined. Peter tells us this in 2 Peter 3:12 - “Looking for and hasting unto the coming day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.”
- God knew He was going to have to ultimately set the erring race fully aside. He sent His only-begotten Son into the world, born of a woman of Adam’s race. God then poured out all His fierce wrath, appointed to Adam and his race, directly upon Jesus on the cross. When Jesus, being dead, was buried, all of the wretchedness and corruption of Adam’s race was buried with Him. It was forever cast out of the sight of the perfectly righteous God. When Jesus rose from the dead, it was not as the Last Adam, as we shall see. Nothing of Adam’s race survived the death and burial of Jesus.
All of Adam’s race who, by faith, renounce their wretched Adamic heritage and agree that God had to deal severely with Adam, can trust that in the Last Adam God has once and for all put away that wretched Adamic heritage in the death and burial of Jesus of Nazareth.
The second key title for Jesus in these verses is two verses later, in verse 47: the Second Man. This is an equally important title for Jesus. When God created Adam, He knew that the man would stand at the head of an entire race of men. (Incidentally, the word Adam is one of several Hebrew words that literally means “man.”) It was this race, created for life on this earth, that was to bear the image of the God Who created all things. The race was to be the crowning aspect of God’s creation. But, when Adam rebelled against God’s specific command in the garden, the entire race that would come out of his loins became a rebel race. Because of this, the perfectly righteous God would eventually have to set the race entirely aside from its high original destiny. (As we have seen in 2 Peter.)
This solemn divine prerogative, to set aside the race He had created, is vital to our understanding of why Jesus was sent into this corrupted world. It was as the Last Adam that Jesus was crucified, bearing God’s righteous judgment upon the fallen race, of which He was Himself a member through His mother. Jesus took all that was wretched in the rebel race, paid the terrible penalty for the rebellion, and buried it in the grave. But, He did not remain in that grave!
And, when He arose, He walked out of that grave as the Second Man, the Head of an entirely new race of men, redeemed through His sinless blood, and made new by the regenerating work of the Spirit of God! God is going to eventually mete out the final judgment of the rebel race and its terribly corrupted earth. The only part of the doomed race of Adam that will survive to go on into the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13-14) are those who have, by faith, renounced their Adamic heritage, and been made new in the Second Man.