Adam vs Jesus – the missing theme

Posted: November 22, 2011 by J in Bible

Commentaries on Romans 5:12-21, about Adam and Jesus, normally talk about the universal nature of sin. They generally talk about justification and a fresh start in Jesus. That’s good.

But once you get the link Paul makes between justification and resurrection (see previous posts on this), suddenly it becomes clear that resurrection is a strong theme here also. Paul contrasts the death that came through Adam with the life that comes through Jesus, and he links that life closely with justification: ‘the justification of life’, ‘those who receive the gracious gift of righteousness will reign in life’. This is clearly resurrection talk. The condemnation in Adam takes the form of death: the vindication in Christ takes the form of resurrection. The gift of ‘righteousness’ enables Adam’s dead family to not only live but to reign, with the risen Jesus who sat down at his Father’s side. They enjoy the reign of grace, which works  ‘through righteousness to eternal life.’ I.e. the way that God’s justifying gift is expressed is in life eternal (resurrection life).

As so often in Paul, the message here is, ‘in Adam we died through sin: in Messiah Jesus we are raised because of righteousness.’ Paul has us in the story again.

Very soon after this he spells out his meaning in explicit terms:

For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection.  Romans 6:5

So I reckon any exegesis of this passage needs to take the death/resurrection contrast into account. Adam brought us death. Jesus brings us resurrection.

And that’s a theme the commentaries generally miss.

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