By Charles H. Welch
Adam. The name of ‘the first man’ (1 Cor. 15:45), who, according to the chronology of the Bible, was created 4004 B.C. by God, subsequent to the overthrow of the world (Gen. 1:2), (See OVERTHROW and OVERTHROW OR FOUNDATION ).
Commentators and lexicographers with a few exceptions since the days of Josephus explain the word ‘Adam’ as being derived from the Hebrew Adamah ‘the ground’ (Gen. 2:7). In the first place we must remember that while the name Adam does not occur in the English Bible until Genesis 2:19, the Hebrew word has already occurred nine times, namely in Genesis 1:26,27; 2:5,7,8,15,16,18 where it is translated ‘man’ or ‘the man’. The beasts were also formed out of the ‘ground’ the adamah (Gen. 1:25; 2:19) yet no beasts appear to have been given a name that associated them with their earthy origin. When we consider the first occurrence of the word ‘Adam’, namely, in Genesis 1:26, we have the following context:
It seems strange to name the first man after the ‘ground’ before the record even alludes to the adamah from which he was taken. Parkhurst in his Hebrew Lexicon refers the word ‘Adam’ to the Hebrew damah, which primarily means ‘to be equal’ (Isa. 46:5) and then in the feminine form damuth ‘likeness’ (Isa. 40:18). In the book of the generations of Adam, it is this aspect of his creation, not that of Genesis 2:6,7 that is perpetuated.
The purpose for which man was created is expressed in the three terms ‘image’, ‘likeness’ and ‘dominion’. The word ‘image’ tselem, is from the Hebrew root tsel, meaning ‘shadow’.
The first occurrence in the Old Testament is in Genesis 19:8, ‘the shadow of my roof’. The LXX translates tsel by the Greek skia some twenty-seven times. The latter is found in the New Testament seven times as follows:
The word is also used figuratively of the ceremonial law: ‘a shadow of things to come, and not the very image’ (Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:17); and in Hebrews 8:5, ‘the example and shadow of heavenly things’. Adam was not the ‘very image’ but he in great measure shadowed forth the Lord; and Romans 5:12-14 indicates that in other ways than those suggested in Genesis 1:26,27 Adam was a ‘figure of Him that was to come’. By creation, man is ‘the image and glory of God’ (1 Cor. 11:7); but this image is, after all, ‘earthy’:
In his second epistle to the same Church, the apostle resumes the theme, and we give below the two references to ‘the image’ in this second letter:
How many know and preach this gospel? How many realize that the announcement that ‘Christ is the image of God’ is the ‘gospel of the glory of Christ’, and the subject of Satan’s attacks from the beginning? Before the world was, the Lord Jesus Christ had this ‘glory’ (John 17:5), and it was the subject of Satanic opposition, as we learn from Ezekiel 28. It was ‘shadowed forth’ in the creation of man, and attacked by the Serpent in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3). It was ‘veiled’ by the god of this age, as explained in 2 Corinthians 3 and 4, and is the goal towards which the purpose of the ages is directed. The central section of Romans (5:12 to 8:39) opens with Adam, a failing figure of Him that was to come, and closes with the goal of God’s great purpose: ‘for whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son’ (Rom. 8:29).
The climax of revelation in connection with ‘the Image’ is found in Colossians:
Here, both in Colossians 1 and 3, the ‘image’ is connected with creation.
Moreover, Colossians 1:16 makes it clear that the Son was the Creator
in Genesis 1:26, and that Adam foreshadowed in some way yet to be considered,
‘Him that was to come’, ‘the last Adam’.
Isaiah also challenges us with the question:
And Ethan says:
Nevertheless it is true that man was made after the likeness of God, and in James 3, we read, concerning the tongue:
The prophet Hosea uses the word damah when speaking of the way in which God had condescended to use figures of speech:
During His public ministry, the Lord Himself used many similitudes, for example:
Adam was to God what a figure of speech is to thought, a symbol, an analogy, a type. When Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream the successive kingdoms of Gentile rule in the form of an image, neither he nor Daniel ever imagined that such kingdoms were actually ‘like’ the image itself, but simply that this image and its peculiar construction ‘shadowed forth’ in symbol the moral characteristics of the kingdoms concerned. So, in Genesis 1:26, there is no question of external resemblance. Whether seen in the frail type Adam, or in the glorious person of the Son of God, the ‘image and likeness’ are never to be understood as physical.
How far, and in what direction, was Adam intended to shadow forth God Himself? How far was he, as a creature, able to represent Deity? What limits can be set? The reader will no doubt be acquainted with the two extreme answers to these questions. There are some who will not allow the image and likeness to be anything more than physical, while there are others who would deduce from this passage the inherent immortality of the soul. The truth lies mid-way between the two extremes.
The name ‘Adam’ is similar to the Hebrew word for ‘likeness’. This ‘likeness’ was expressed in the ‘dominion’ which was originally conferred upon man. When sin entered into the world, however, resulting in a curse upon the earth, his dominion over the lower creatures was impaired. When Noah, whom we can regard as a sort of second Adam, steps out of the ark into a new world, the word ‘dominion’ is no longer used and ‘the fear of you and the dread of you’ takes its place (Gen. 9:2). Man, however, is still looked upon as being ‘in the image of God’ (Gen. 9:6), and ‘in the likeness of God’ (Jas. 3:9). The dominion that was given to Adam was:
This dominion was a ‘shadow’ of the greater dominion that was to be exercised by Christ, the true image of God. David, in Psalm 8, sees something of this, and the apostle Paul in the New Testament completes the story:
If we turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews, we shall see that Adam foreshadowed Christ. The Creator of Genesis 1:26 is addressed in Psalm 8 and the Psalmist says that ‘the heavens are the work of Thy fingers’. Unless we are willing to quibble over the difference between ‘fingers’ and ‘hands’, it is clear that Christ is the Creator in Whose image and likeness Adam was created, for in Hebrews we read:
From Hebrews 1, we proceed to Hebrews 2, where we have Psalm 8 quoted, with the comment:
This shows that we have passed from the type, whose dominion was over sheep and oxen, to the antitype, whose dominion is over all. The apostle continues:
This dominion of which Adam’s ‘likeness’ was but a faint shadow, is further expanded in Ephesians 1, where we reach the zenith of the revelation of ‘the mystery of Christ’. In this epistle we are concerned with that section of the ‘all things’ that is associated with the exalted sphere where Christ sitteth ‘far above all heavens’ (Eph. 4:10). And so we read:
With this rapid glance at the relationship between this ‘dominion’ and ‘Mystery’, let us turn back now to 1 Corinthians 15, to see one further application of the passage:
This goal of the ages is the fulfilment of the pledge shadowed forth
in the creation of Adam.
These references indicate something of the nature of this particular type of dominion, and particularly the passage from Psalm 110, which is Messianic and speaks of the Day of the Lord. The Psalm goes on to speak of the Lord ‘striking through kings’, ‘filling places with dead bodies’ and ‘wounding the heads over many countries’ (Psa. 110:5,6). This conception of dominion is carried over into Genesis 1:28 where we read:
The word ‘subdue’ is a translation of the Hebrew cabash, and its significance may be gathered from the fact that its substantival form means a ‘footstool’ (2 Chron. 9:18). In Nehemiah 5:5 it is rendered ‘to bring into bondage’; and it is the word used by the King when he exclaims of Haman, ‘Will he force the Queen?’ (Est. 7:8). The word is also used of the conquest of Canaan under Joshua (Josh. 18:1), a subjugation whose rigour there is no need to quote chapter and verse to prove.
The LXX translates the word ‘subdue’ by kata kurieuo, meaning ‘to rule imperiously’, ‘to lord it over’, ‘to get the mastery’. Its occurrences in the New Testament will give further light on its meaning:
The creation of Adam, his very name, and the dominion given to him, all foreshadowed the subduing of all enemies beneath the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ. An enemy is most certainly in view in Genesis 1:26-28, and in chapter 3 he is revealed - ‘that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan’ (Rev. 12:9).
We are greatly tempted to explore further into the many vital themes that the name Adam opens up to us but must keep before us the limits set by the word ‘dispensational’. The nature of the soul, the question of inherent immortality, the problem of evil, the relationship of Adam to sin and death, belong to the realm of doctrine, and we dare not begin to examine these important themes without loading our pages so heavily as to bring the work to a stop. These themes are given an exposition in The Berean Expositor and the Index of the bound volumes should be consulted by all who are interested in their exposition. Apart from the reference in Jude, where he calls Enoch, the seventh from Adam, and Luke, who takes the genealogy of the Saviour back to Adam (Luke 3:38), no other writer in the New Testament than Paul uses the name Adam or relates either doctrinal, dispensational or practical teaching with it.
Paul uses the name seven times, and these occurrences we now give:
That Paul, alone of the apostles has a doctrine of ‘Adam’ and that he alone is the apostle of the Gentiles, together with the fact that it is Luke and not Matthew that takes the genealogy of the Son of God back to Adam, are facts eloquent and illuminating to the discerning reader. See SECRETS OF THE SON, and IN ADAM.