By Charles H. Welch
These words, "in Adam", belong properly to doctrinal rather than to dispensational truth, for dispensational truth deals with differences, but it is written that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26). Perhaps no deeper doctrine is to be found in the Scriptures than is found in Romans five, and there can be few believers who have not experienced a good deal of perplexity, to say the least, as they meditated upon the implications resident in the revelation that "by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin". While we dare not depart from our prescribed course and attempt to deal with these weighty themes, we believe that some explanation should be attempted in these pages to throw a little light upon the reason why the great purpose of the ages should be channelled through Adam. Adam is mentioned by Paul seven times, and the following, exhibits both the references and their interrelation.
We do not pretend to know all that the words "in Adam" involve, either doctrinally or dispensationally, what we propose to do is to take that calling which is nearest to our hearts, the high calling as it is revealed in Ephesians, and see if we can discover why it was necessary for that company, chosen as they were before the foundation of the world, to attain unto their calling, not immediately through Christ, but intermediately through Adam. Blessed with all spiritual blessings, they nevertheless come into existence in the realm of flesh and blood.
Destined to occupy the heavenly places, they commence with an existence which is of the earth, earthy.
There were spiritual beings in existence who shouted for joy at the laying of earth's foundations (Job 38:7) called "the sons of God", so it would not have caused any surprise if this church, predestinated as it was to the adoption of sons, should have been called into being by the fiat of creation, and placed, as spiritual beings, straight away into their heavenly inheritance. What purpose, what necessity was there, that made it necessary that, between the choice in the beginning, countless ages should roll by before these chosen ones should enter into sentient existence, and when they did, that they who had been chosen "in Christ" should all be found "in Adam"? .
It is not sufficient to say that for some reasons unknown, it was deemed necessary that these members of this very spiritual company should nevertheless possess bodies, for the Scriptures make it clear that there are "heavenly" and "spiritual" bodies, just as real as the earthly and fleshly bodies with which we are acquainted. Among the reasons that may be gathered from Scripture that made the Only Wise God bring the predestined heirs of glory into life through the man Adam, the following appear to have a place.
it appears that in the counsels of God it was decided that the Lord Himself, together with the chosen seed, should in God's own time and way, both appear in human form. This would make a common bond, and allow at the end a transfer from Adam to Christ.
That the status of Adam was intended to be temporary, the marginal translation of Hebrews 2:7, "a little lower than the angels", wilt reveal. The A.V. margin reads "a little while inferior to", and the R.V. marg. reads "for a little while lower". The saints are to "judge angels", and the church of the One Body wilt be raised "far above" all principality and power. It appears then that the lowly course devised for the chosen heirs of supernal glory was called for by the very necessities of their case. By the fact that both the children of promise, and the Saviour Himself were partakers of flesh and blood, it became possible for Him to say "Behold land the children which God hath given Me" (Heb. 2: 13) and the passage continues in verse 16 to tell us "He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham".
Moreover , even though the passage from Genesis that is quoted in Galatians 3: 16 most definitely refers to the literal seed of Abraham, Paul can also say, in the light of Galatians 3:27-29, "He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." While flesh and blood is frail, and lower in the scale than the angelic order of being, and cannot inherit the kingdom of God, there must have been some features associated with it that led some of the angelic host to take upon them human form (see article SONS of GOD, NEPHILIM), and among other things divinely intended must have been the experience that such a condition would provide. Temptation is apparently more readily acceded to by the flesh, and the upholding grace that can nevertheless enable so frail a creature to triumph over evil, is a lesson never to be experienced apart from personal participation and never to be forgotten after this vale of tears is traversed.
A word or two concerning the meaning of Genesis 6:3 seems called for here.
Scripture categorically declares that the first man, Adam, was "soulish" and not "spiritual", was "earthy" and not "heavenly", so there can be no thought in this statement of Genesis 6:3, that by reason of sin and the prevailing corruption Adam had become "flesh". A combined reading of the R.V. text and margin gives the following:
Added to which The Companion Bible says from the fact that the article is used here before "man", "the man Adam" is intended. If we consult the LXX we find that instead of any word that means "to strive" they use katameno "to abide continually". One of the reasons for the differing translations offered is the fact that words in Hebrew, like words in other languages, can be split up into more ways than one, yet making sense. The ordinary reader, unacquainted with Hebrew, may appreciate the following illustration. In 2 Timothy 4: 17 the Apostle says "notwithstanding the Lord stood with me". The average English reader is scarcely conscious as he reads this, of the possible pitfall awaiting a foreigner. It is conceivable that one acquainted with English might spell out the sentence thus: "not WITH standing, the Lord stood WITH me", with an inevitable tangle as a result.
Returning to Genesis 6:3, we observe that the word "also" is a translation of the Hebrew be-shag-gam, literally "in", "that" , "also". Gesenius, however, translates this phrase "because of their transgressing", and Keil renders it "in their erring". Shaggam can be the infinitive of the word shagag, which is found in Leviticus 5:18 "err"; Psalm 119:67 "go astray"; Numbers 15:28 "sin ignorantly"; and Job 12:16 "deceived". From this it would appear that man being by nature flesh, was no match for those spiritual beings that invaded his realm, Adam and his seed were deceived by this second attack, as Eve had been in the garden.
The Satanic object both in Genesis three and six was the production of a "seed"; in Genesis three it was "the seed of the serpent", in Genesis six it was the Giants, the Rephaim, the Nephilim. Had Adam never fallen, and had sin and death never entered to complicate the issue, man would still have needed the great translation from Adam to Christ. Alas, in addition to the natural frailty that pertains to the flesh (remember that even the sinless Saviour was crucified through weakness, and in the garden of Gethsemane, He spoke of Himself in that hour of agony "the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak"), to this natural frailty was added the entail of sin and death, for Adam, like Christ, had been constituted Head of the race. This identification which brought so much misery in its train is blessedly overruled, for the same principle obtains in the Headship of Christ, and if sin and death can come through Adam's headship, righteousness and life can come through the Headship of Christ, and as Romans five reveals, it can give "much more".
When dealing with the promise and purpose that was vested in Abraham (who stands to Israel as Adam stands to the race) light is given upon one of the many reasons why the purpose of the ages takes the strange pattern of descent before ascent. The passage referred to is Genesis fifteen. When God would give assurance to Abraham of the promise made to him both of a "seed" and a "land", we are staggered at first to read:
Here Abraham, like Adam, is the covenant head of his "seed", and both seed and land are given unconditionally and confirmed by sacrifice. Yet in spite of the fact that Abraham was then already in the land of promise he was not permitted to settle, have a family and enjoy these promises. As Hebrews eleven tells us, he, and the other patriarchs, "all died in faith NOT HAVING received the promises", being willing to live in tents, even though their inheritance included the city that had foundations! The reason given for this roundabout course is not expanded and explained-but it may be sufficient for our faith to grasp. Israel must endure bondage and hardship; they must be brought back by miracle and by sacrifice, because the iniquity of the false seed, the seed of the serpent, represented at that time by the Amorite, was not yet full. The heavenly places, the destined home of the Church is occupied at least in part by spiritual Amorites, who withstand this Church with all the means in their fallen power.
In the articles dealing with the Nephilim and parallel themes, the typology of Deuteronomy one and two is set forth, and these studies must be included with the present one to make the survey complete. Added to the apparent necessity that the chosen seed and the Saviour in Whom they were chosen must both at the first be found in human flesh, in order that at the last they may all be translated as members of one body with Christ as the One Head to their true spiritual status, comes the great fact of past experience that must accrue as we walk through the wilderness of this world. Even the Omnipotent God cannot give to anyone a ready-made EXPERIENCE, and as Israel were taught in the wilderness that "man doth not live by bread alone" -so all the chosen seed at length come to the great question, and to its only answer, "to Whom shall we go?" and the goal of the ages is assured. God will then in the fullest sense be ALL in ALL.
From the strange happenings in the Garden of Eden onward, the chosen heirs of glory are learning by the possession of a human body, the lessons that angels can never know. Even though we must all agree that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made", we are made conscious daily that this body at its best is a body of "humiliation". The very processes that lead to birth are universally associated in the mind of man with some elements of shame. Yet, even though the birth into a life of flesh and blood with its consequent temptations and experiences be likened to Israel's sojourn in a land not theirs, it is so valuable and so wonderful that spirit beings have more than once left their own habitation and assumed the human form. When the iniquity of the great spiritual Amorite is full, flesh will give place to spirit, and in resurrection with bodies both spiritual and celestial, united for ever with the Saviour Who also ascended with a glorified body, the heirs of glory will at length enter into their own.
As we said at the beginning, we can do little more with such a theme than indicate some of the main lines of the path that must be trod, and some of the outstanding reasons why the purpose of the ages must take this strange road. Let us remember that if we are forced to wait for the day of glory, God Himself has waited longer than all put together, for the creation of Genesis 1:1 finds its goal in the new heavens and new earth at the very end of time. God the Creator moves down the ages to the goal before Him, which is God All in All. Fatherhood, Home, Dwelling Place and Family take the place of Creator and Creature as such. Creation is vested in Christ the Logos, and the "Image", the family at the end are all sons in the SON, Who was made flesh and whose first "sign" as recorded by John was performed at a wedding feast.
It may be that this is the reason why in the end of the geological ages (Gen. 1:2,3) God prepared the earth for Adam, made him the father of the race, bid him increase and multiply, promised a seed, and ultimately sent His Son. It may be for this reason that the first table of stone commences with the worship of God, and the second with the honour of parents. It may be that this is the reason that "worship" in the Prison Epistles can be likened to the service of "a son with his father" (see article on WORSHIP).
If God be the God of patience, if Christ be henceforth "expecting", can it be possible that the great God Himself yearns for the fellowship of those He has redeemed, saying to them in the language of His son, "Can ye not watch with Me, one hour?" Much that is inexplicable will at least become bearable, as we remember the word of the Saviour as He surveyed the state of the world, "an enemy hath done this", and if ultimate triumph necessitated the descent of all the chosen seed into their particular "Egypt" let us patiently endure, learn the essential lesson of our own personal frailty, and await the resurrection morning, when "in Christ" we shall know even as we are known.