The name of Adam occurs nine times (in five different passages) in the New Testament, though several of these are purely incidental.
I. Gospels. In Lu 3:38 the ancestry of Jesus Christ is traced up to Adam, "Adam, the son of God," thereby testifying to the acceptance of the Old Testament genealogies of Gen. This is the only place in the Gospels in which Adam is actually named, though there is an allusion to him in Mt 19:4-6 ( = Mr 10:6-8), referring to Ge 1:27, 2:24.
II. Epistles. Adam is used by Paul as the founder of the race and the cause of the introduction of sin in order to point the comparison and contrast with Christ as the Head of the new race and the cause of righteousness.
1. Ro 5:12-21:
The passage is the logical center of the epistle, the central point to which everything that precedes has converged, and out of which everything which follows will flow. The great ideas of Sin, Death, and Judgment are here shown to be involved in the connection of the human race with Adam. But over against this there is the blessed fact of union with Christ, and in this union righteousness and life. The double headship of mankind in Adam and Christ shows the significance of the work of redemption for the entire race. Mankind is ranged under two heads, Adam and Christ. There are two men, two acts and two results. In this teaching we have the spiritual and theological illustration of the great modern principle of solidarity. There is a solidarity of evil and a solidarity of good, but the latter far surpasses the former in the quality of the obedience of Christ as compared with Adam, and the facts of the work of Christ for justification and life. The section is thus no mere episode, or illustration, but that which gives organic life to the entire epistle. Although sin and death are ours in Adam righteousness and life are ours in Christ, and these latter two are infinitely the greater (Ro 5:11); whatever we have lost in Adam we have more than gained in Christ. As all the evils of the race sprang from one man, so all the blessings of redemption come from One Person, and there is such a connection between the Person and the race that all men can possess what the One has done.
In Ro 5:12-19 Paul institutes a series of comparisons and contrasts between Adam and Christ; the two persons, the two works and the two consequences. The fullness of the apostle’s meaning must be carefully observed. Not only does he teach that what we have derived from the first Adam is met by what is derived from Christ, but the transcendence of the work of the latter is regarded as almost infinite in extent. "The full meaning of Paul, however, is not grasped until we perceive that the benefits received from Christ, the Second Adam, are in inverse ratio to the disaster entailed by the first Adam. It is the surplus of this grace that in Paul’s presentation is commonly overlooked" (Mabie, The Divine Reason of the Cross 116).
2. 1Co 15:22:
The contrast instituted here between Adam and Christ refers to death and life, but great difficulty turns on the interpretation of the two "alls." "As in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." Dods (Expositor’s Bible, 366) interprets it of Adam as the source of physical life that ends in death, and of Christ as the source of spiritual life that never dies. "All who are by physical derivation truly united to Adam incur the death, which by sinning he introduced into human experience; and similarly, all who by spiritual affinity are in Christ enjoy the new life which triumphs over death, and which he won."
So also Edwards, who does not consider that there is any real unfairness in interpreting the former "all" as more extensive than the latter, "if we bear in mind that the conditions of entrance into the one class and the other are totally different. They are not stated here. But we have them in Ro 5:5-11, where the apostle seems as if he anticipated this objection to the analogy which he instituted between Adam and Christ. Both alike are heads of humanity, but they are unlike in this (as also in other things, Ro 5:15), that men are in Adam by nature, in Christ by faith" (Corinthians, 412). Godet considers that "perhaps this Interpretation is really that which corresponds best to the apostle’s view," and he shows that zoopoieisthai, "to be made alive," is a more limited idea than egeiresthai, "to be raised," the limitation of the subject thus naturally proceeding from the special meaning of the verb itself. "The two pantes (all) embrace those only to whom each of the two powers extends." But Godet favors the view of Meyer and Ellicott that "all" is to be given the same interpretation in each clause, and that the reference is to all who are to rise, whether for life or condemnation, and that this is to be "in Christ": "Christ will quicken all; all will hear His voice and will come forth from the grave, but not all to the true `resurrection of life’: see Joh 5:29" (Ellicott, Corinthians, 301) Godet argues that "there is nothing to prevent the word `quicken,’ taken alone, from being used to denote restoration to the fullness of spiritual and bodily existence, with a view either to perdition or salvation" (Corinthians, 355). There are two serious difficulties to the latter interpretation:
(1) The invariable meaning of "in Christ" is that of spiritual union;
(2) the question whether the resurrection of the wicked really finds any place in the apostle’s argument in the entire chapter.
3. 1Co 15:45:
"The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit." The reference to Adam is from Ge 2:7; the reference to Christ is due to the fact of what He had done and was doing in His manifestation as Divine Redeemer. Behind results the apostle proceeds to nature. Adam was simply a living being, Christ a life-giving Being. Thus Christ is called Adam as expressive of His Headship of a race. In this verse He is called the "last" Adam, while in 1Co 15:47 the "second." In the former verse the apostle deals not so much with Christ’s relation to the first Adam as to the part He takes in relation to humanity, and His work on its behalf. When precisely Christ became life-giving is a matter of difference of opinion. Ro 1:4 associates power with the resurrection as the time when Christ was constituted Son of God for the purpose of bestowing the force of Divine grace. This gift of power was only made available for His church through the Ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is possible that the word "life-giving" may also include a reference to the resurrection of the body hereafter.
4. 1Ti 2:13,14:
Paul uses the creation of man and woman in his argument for the subordination of woman (Ge 2:7-25). This is no mere Jewish reasoning, but an inspired statement of the typical meaning of the passage in Genesis. The argument is a very similar one to that in 1Co 11:8,9. When the apostle states that "Adam was not beguiled," we must apparently understand it as simply based on the text in Genesis to which he refers (Ge 3:13), in which Eve, not Adam, says, "The serpent beguiled me." In Ga 3:16 he reasons similarly from "seed" in the singular number, just as Heb 7 reasons from the silence of Ge 14 in regard to the parentage of Melchizedek. Paul does not deny that Adam was deceived, but only that he was not directly deceived. His point is that Eve’s facility in yielding warrants the rule as to women keeping silence.
5. Jude 1:14:
"And Enoch, the seventh from Adam" (Ge 5). Bigg says that the quotation which follows is a combination of passages from Enoch, though the allusion to Enoch himself is evidently based on the story in Gen.
III. Conclusions. As we review the use of "Adam" in the New Testament, we cannot fail to observe that Paul assumes that Adam was a historical personality, and that the record in Genesis was a record of facts, that sin and death were introduced into the world and affected the entire race as the penalty of the disobedience of one ancestor. Paul evidently takes it for granted that Adam knew and was responsible for what he was doing. Again, sin and death are regarded as connected, that death obtains its moral quality from sin. Paul clearly believed that physical dissolution was due to sin, and that there is some causal connection between Adam and the human race in regard to physical death. While the reference to death in Ro 5 as coming through sin, is primarily to physical death, yet physical death is the expression and sign of the deeper idea of spiritual death; and even though physical death was in the world before Adam it was only in connection with sin that its moral meaning and estimate became clear. Whether we are to interpret, "for that all sinned," as sinning when Adam sinned, or sinning as the result of an inherited tendency from Adam, the entire passage implies some causal connection between him and them. The need of redemption is thus made by the apostle to rest on facts. We are bound to Adam by birth, and it is open to us to become bound to Christ by faith. If we refuse to exchange our position in Adam for that which is offered to us in Christ we become answerable to God; this is the ground of moral freedom. The New Testament assumption of our common ancestry in Adam is true to the facts of evolutionary science, and the universality of sin predicated is equally true to the facts of human experience. Thus, redemption is grounded on the teaching of Scripture, and confirmed by the uncontradicted facts of history and experience. Whether, therefore, the references to Adam in the New Testament are purely incidental, or elaborated in theological discussion, everything is evidently based on the record in Gen.
W. H. Griffith Thomas