Paul calls our Lord Jesus Christ “the last Adam” in 1 Cor. 15:45. In Rom. 5:14, he says that Adam “…is a type of Him [Christ] who was to come.” Adam is type; Christ is anti-type. But as with all biblical types, Christ as anti-type of Adam is both like Adam and greater than Adam. Just as Adam was a son of God, so Christ is the Son of God. As Adam was an image-bearer, so Christ is the image-bearer. As Adam was placed on the earth as God’s servant-representative, so Christ is placed on the earth as God’s servant-representative. Adam was placed and tempted in a garden without sin and failed. Christ is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (Luke 4:1-2) but passed the test. Adam was head of the old humanity and represented it in the garden. Christ is head of a new humanity and represented it in life, death, and resurrection/exaltation. Whereas Adam failed to multiply his seed across the globe as image-bearers in communion with God, Christ succeeds.
However, Christ’s headship is greater than Adam’s in another very important way. Christ as head of all things and the one who sums up all things is given the responsibility to crush the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15), destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8), disarm the celestial rulers and authorities (Col. 2:15) and set free the creation from its slavery to corruption (Rom. 8:21). Christ’s headship brings the entire created realm to a condition it has never been to before – all sons of God are brought to an immutable state of sonship, all sons of God will have glorified souls and bodies, all sons of God enjoy eternal life, all creation shall be set free from bondage and distortion brought in by sin and the curse, and all of God’s enemies (unbelieving men and women, non-elect angels, and the devil himself) are put in their rightful place, away from the favorable presence of the Lord and unable to torment God’s people any longer. Surely the headship of the last Adam constitutes him a much greater Adam than the first man was!
Dr. Richard Barcellos is associate professor of New Testament Studies. He received a B.S. from California State University, Fresno, an M.Div. from The Master’s Seminary, and a Th.M. and Ph.D. from Whitefield Theological Seminary. Dr. Barcellos is pastor of Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Palmdale, CA. He is author of Trinity & Creation, The Covenant of Works, and Getting the Garden Right. He has contributed articles to various journals and is a member of ETS.