[Updated!] Could Christ Have Sinned?: The two Adams

This will be a relatively brief post, but as we’re talking about temptation and Christ and whether or not he could have sinned, I thought I would ask a question that I’ve been thinking about:

If we believe that we (or any other man or woman) would have sinned had we been in Adam’s place, then what is the difference between the first and second Adam? What is the difference between Adam and Christ?

One of issues that I had in answering this question was that I had some wrong ideas about what a perfect man would look like. You see, in my mind, before Adam sinned he was Super Adam (with capital letters, and a cape, and everything), able to leap Antediluvian trees in a single bound, with skin that could stop bullets, completely impervious to disease, unable to be killed, etc. But this just doesn’t work. Reading through Scripture, I get the impression that even a perfect man is a fairly frail thing.

And this helped unseat another false idea that I had. You see, I’ve heard pastors talk about what the end-result of glorification is going to be like, and while there is definitely some uncertainty on their part, I often get the idea that what we end up being is much like Adam was in the beginning. “Salvation begins the restoration of our relationship with God,” they say, “glorification gets things back to the way they were in the beginning.” I no longer believe this (at least not in the sense that things are just restored to where they were)

As proof, read what Paul has to say to the Corinthians about the resurrection and the nature of our glorified bodies:

But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
(1Co 15:35-58)

Or in other words, the difference between the two Adams is that the first was just a man, the second Adam was both God and man. The first Adam was a thing that could not stand on its own, the second Adam could not only stand, but could save all the rest of us as well.

Anyway, criticisms, comments? A special thanks to Randall for his thoughtful comments which helped me in thinking through this issue. If any of you are up to it, feel free to add something in the comments below or on your own blog (if you do post on your own blog and it doesn’t show up here automatically, leave me a comment with a link and I’ll put it in the body of the post)

4 thoughts on “[Updated!] Could Christ Have Sinned?: The two Adams”

  1. Christ is the what Adam should have been, i.e. perfect. That is why he was born of the Virgin: Original Sin passes through the male. In that sense, Christ was not “another” or “second” Adam.

    As for your question regarding whether He could have sinned, a “yes” answer implies the taint of Original Sin which gives us the ability to ignore God’s law and will. A “no” presupposes that some lack of complete humanity.

    I lean to the “no” side for reasons expressed in the first paragraph. Christ was totally human, as humans were created to be. Just as the spotless Passover Lamb can be nothing else, so was He.

    I’m going to ponder this some more and come back if necessary.

    Cheers.

  2. Christ is the what Adam should have been, i.e. perfect. That is why he was born of the Virgin: Original Sin passes through the male. In that sense, Christ was not “another” or “second” Adam.

    As for your question regarding whether He could have sinned, a “yes” answer implies the taint of Original Sin which gives us the ability to ignore God’s law and will. A “no” presupposes that some lack of complete humanity.

    I lean to the “no” side for reasons expressed in the first paragraph. Christ was totally human, as humans were created to be. Just as the spotless Passover Lamb can be nothing else, so was He.

    I’m going to ponder this some more and come back if necessary.

    Cheers.

  3. The difference between the two Adams is that Adam, in the Garden of Eden “took up his life”. Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane died to His own life. Actually, He was born dying to His own life of sitting next to His Father in heaven and then He walked in faithfulness and love to His Father. He was a Seed planted in this world to save “whoever” believes in the One the Father sent. God gives the seed to the body that He plans and sees fit, and to each kind of seed a body of its own.

    Jesus died before His flesh was dead. He did what He said we were to do, died to His own life, took up His cross and walked with His Father, doing what He was doing, when He was doing it, how He was doing it. It’s impossible for man to do this without “abiding in Christ” and even then we cannot do it perfectly. Praise God for His free gift of His Son, the Lamb of God who takes away my sin.

    There is much more here, this only touches the surface. Sin would be separation from God, Adam chose to separate from God and “live his own life”. Jesus chose to stay in relationship with His Father, even when Satan came and tempted Him three times. And I’m sure there were many other times the tempter was there. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked His Father to take the cup from Him and humbly stayed with His Father. . . “nevertheless, not My will, but Your will be done.” The cost was too great to Him, He could not sin and stay in relationship with His Father.

  4. The difference between the two Adams is that Adam, in the Garden of Eden “took up his life”. Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane died to His own life. Actually, He was born dying to His own life of sitting next to His Father in heaven and then He walked in faithfulness and love to His Father. He was a Seed planted in this world to save “whoever” believes in the One the Father sent. God gives the seed to the body that He plans and sees fit, and to each kind of seed a body of its own.

    Jesus died before His flesh was dead. He did what He said we were to do, died to His own life, took up His cross and walked with His Father, doing what He was doing, when He was doing it, how He was doing it. It’s impossible for man to do this without “abiding in Christ” and even then we cannot do it perfectly. Praise God for His free gift of His Son, the Lamb of God who takes away my sin.

    There is much more here, this only touches the surface. Sin would be separation from God, Adam chose to separate from God and “live his own life”. Jesus chose to stay in relationship with His Father, even when Satan came and tempted Him three times. And I’m sure there were many other times the tempter was there. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked His Father to take the cup from Him and humbly stayed with His Father. . . “nevertheless, not My will, but Your will be done.” The cost was too great to Him, He could not sin and stay in relationship with His Father.

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