Adam and Jesus Versus the Dragon

Go To the Beginning of this Book Love Unbounded: Tracing Salvation History from the Eternal Trinity to the New Covenant Church – Using Family Theology to Answer the Question How and Why Does Jesus’ Death Save Us?

Adam’s Sin Was Not What We Usually Think It Was: Why Jesus “The New Adam” Had To Die To Redeem Humanity From Adam’s Sin

The Hebrew Clues the Serpent Is a Deadly Dragon: Adam Fails the Test of Martyrdom to See If He Can Love like God, Jesus “The New Adam” Passes It in Another Garden

Anyone who has seen Mel Gibson’s bloody, graphic movie, The Passion of the Christ may well ask the question, “why did Jesus have to die?” The reason is that in order to fully substitute obedience in atonement for Adam’s disobedience, Jesus the New Adam is given precisely the same test as the first Adam – a test of obedience unto death with a love that holds nothing back, a love like God’s love within the Trinity. Jesus passes the test where Adam failed. That this is the case is not at all clear from English translations of the Bible’s account of the Fall of Man, because of several details which are lost in translation, but this comes through in the original Hebrew.  The Early Church Fathers saw the substitution of Christ’s obedience for Adam’s disobedience, as a function of God’s “recapitulation of all things in Christ” which Saint Irenaeus in particular developed from Paul, but they do not speak of Adam facing the test of martyrdom specifically, which is why this element has not been passed on in the Church’s telling of the story of Adam and Eve.  But the Early Church Fathers used the Septuagint Greek Old Testament which the Apostles themselves used – and these subtle details only come through in the original Hebrew.

In English translations, it sounds like Satan in the form of the Serpent simply contradicts God’s word (saying God has ulterior motives), and for some reason Eve believes him instead of God and disobeys, and then goes and finds Adam and he believes her instead of God, and disobeys. This concept of the Fall of Man makes it sound like Adam and Eve were simpletons who had not been walking with God in love (who were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit and largely immune to sin), and it makes no sense of why the Bible later consistently says that sin entered the world through Adam and not Eve. The original Hebrew gives several additional details which make the account make much more sense.

The Hebrew word by which Adam is given responsibility to take care of the Garden of Eden includes the notion of guarding the Garden. Guarding from what? From the Satanic nahash which in fact comes into the Garden. The Hebrew word nahash always at least means a deadly poisonous serpent, but is also used in the Bible to refer to a DRAGON or sea monster. Whatever the creature is, it is deadly. The Book of Revelation, written in Greek, will later refer to Satan as both dragon and serpent (Revelation 12:9, 20:2).

This dragon/serpent, the deadly nahash, speaks to Eve, but addresses her with the plural “you” (which we do not have in English except for the Southern US “y’all”) because Adam is right there with her, as Genesis 3:6 in fact states clearly in English (though this detail is often overlooked). When the nahash says to Eve (and Adam), “You (plural) shall not surely die” if they eat the fruit God told them not to, he is not simply contradicting God’s earlier statement and they happen to believe Satan instead of God, but he is using the Hebrew grammatical form of a threat. “You shall not surely die…[if you eat the fruit].” Satan in the form of the deadly nahash effectively threatens Adam and Eve, “disobey God by eating the forbidden fruit or I will kill you.” He simply “sweetens the deal,” makes it even more tempting to disobey by giving them a positive reason as well, by telling them the fruit will make them wise.

Adam is there but silent throughout this whole exchange because he is undergoing his “agony in the Garden” which Jesus will likewise endure later. Adam is given the test of the martyrs: obey God or die. He can save his earthly life by disobeying God and doing what the nahash wants him to, remaining silent and unmoving as Eve is deceived and eats the fruit, and then eating it himself (which he does). To obey God, and to preserve his higher, supernatural life, Adam must not only not eat the fruit, but he must not let Eve eat the fruit, doing his duty before God of guarding the Garden from the life-threatening nahash, attacking it, keeping it away from his wife, and probably dying in the attempt, giving up his life for love of his bride and for love of God. He can only choose to do this through loving trust in God – trusting that God could supernaturally either give him victory over the deadly nahash or raise him from the dead afterwards (as Abraham, the man of faith, believed God could do with Isaac if Abraham carried out God’s directions to sacrifice Isaac), but regardless proving that he is ready to enter God’s Trinitarian Heavenly Life through an act of obedience which represents total self-giving love, holding nothing back, as God loves within the Trinity. God allowed the Satanic nahash to enter the Garden to test Adam, simply because God did not create mankind to live in earthly paradise, but Creation was a probationary place where mankind could be made ready to join God in His Heavenly Trinitarian Family.

Adam’s Failure of the Test and its Consequences

Adam failed, and sinned, on several levels. Most obviously, he disobeyed God’s command. More importantly, the situation demanded that he sacrifice himself in obedient love for God and for love of his threatened bride, and he refused to love. His refusal was motivated by a selfish and earth-bound notion of self-preservation, he was too attached to the things of this world and his earthly life to hold onto the higher things that mattered most, like his supernatural life and his supernatural friendship with God. He also sinned in self-reliance. He did not “call on the name of the Lord,” he did not rely on God to handle his problem, he did not seek the grace available to him through the indwelling Holy Spirit to give him courage and strength to what was right (and maybe even give him supernatural victory over the deadly threat). Although the test of martyrdom is not easy, even for one whose passions are not disordered by concupiscence, Adam, and Eve who ate first, still gave up the gift of supernatural sonship too easily, they took it for granted. This helps explain why God, while continuing to covenant Himself to His human creation in bonds of Sacred kinship, delayed so long in once more giving the gift of supernatural sonship through Christ. God waited until humanity, adam, was ready to not squander the great gift. Humanity in its infancy all-too-easily squandered even the lesser gift of mere covenant kinship, easily falling away from keeping even the simple Noahic Covenant.

The consequences of Adam’s failure for adam, for humanity descended from him, have already been described in some detail: the loss of the indwelling Holy Spirit of supernatural sonship, the lack of which makes human beings no longer whole, which also marred the image of God we retained in our spiritual souls, by darkening our intellect and weakening our will, making it very difficult to know or choose the good [1]; the marring of all creation, including our human bodies, which even the return of the indwelling Holy Spirit in the New Covenant does not reverse, such that we await the Resurrection of our bodies and the renewal of all creation.

Was Adam’s Failure a Frustration of God’s Plan, or Was It Part of God’s Plan?

Now the questions have to be asked, since the consequences of failing the test were so devastating, was it a fair test? Could Adam have passed? What would the results have been for humanity? Did God allow Satan to test Adam and Eve, knowing Adam would fail? Was Adam’s failure a frustration of God’s plan, or was it part of God’s plan?

Certainly, I think it must be said that Adam theoretically could have passed, not in his own strength but in God’s, as did the Christian martyrs who also had the indwelling Holy Spirit. Even Abraham, who lacked the indwelling Holy Spirit, relying on God was capable of offering his only son in a test of loving obedience very similar to martyrdom. Thus the test was fair. As far as what the results would have been for humanity, this is a matter of more academic speculation. The answer is not necessarily that important to Trinitarian and Covenant theology which deals with the fact Adam failed and what God did to restore humanity. But I think answering the question in the framework of family theology will demonstrate how Christ in fact raises us above our original nature in Adam, to which I have alluded before.

We can say that had Adam passed the test, God would not have drawn Adam (and Eve) immediately into the fullness of sharing in His heavenly Trinitarian existence, because God intended Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the Earth, generating a vast number of new beings to share God’s intimate communion of Trinitarian Family life. If Adam and Eve had procreated, then each human would be born into the Adamic Covenant in a state of grace, with the indwelling Holy Spirit that makes them whole, but without the concupiscent flesh. This would make sin very rare, certainly, but still possible, because human beings would still be free (freedom being a requirement for genuine love). And Satan, having failed his own test of loving obedience in the angelic order (with much more severe, and eternal, consequences for his failure because the supernatural gift and knowledge of God he had received was much greater), full of hatred for God and what God loves (humanity), would still desire to tempt human beings to sin against love. All sin is a refusal to love, a violation of God’s very nature as love, sin therefore being by its nature a rejection of God’s image and likeness, a rejection of living in His Trinitarian Family which is perfect love (it is not merely “breaking laws” – and laws themselves, remember, are only covenant family rules, intended to bring the children to maturity – laws of love). So a sinless humanity descended from an Adam who passed the test would still be tempted to sin against God’s love. And God would still allow the tests, because each human being, in order to mature in love, would need to have their love tested. How strong is a love that has never been tested? And so human beings cannot be drawn fully into the fiery burning love of the Trinity until they are mature in love. Even Adam may have been tested again had he passed. The point being, human creatures being finite and limited, even with Grace available to them through the indwelling Holy Spirit, there would have been a Fall eventually. It may not have been quite as universally devastating a fall, since Adam had a special relationship to creation as the Head of the human race which is the Pinnacle of Creation, but it would at least bring sin into the world, and a sinful line of human beings, and interactions with them would provide many more tests of love in the unfallen, and so many more failures of love (similar to how the existence of the sinful line of Cain eventually corrupted the godly line of Seth). So as I suggested above, the gift of supernatural sonship which was given to newborn, immature humanity/adam/Adam, was not secure long-term – not only because of humanity’s initial immaturity, but because of humanity’s finitude. Humanity is a creature, and it cannot be reasonably expected to love like God forever even with His help and grace – the very freedom which is necessary for love, given to a finite creature, guarantees an eventual Fall, even if Adam had passed the test in the Garden.

Thus I posit the following answer to the Medieval disagreement between the Dominican school of theology, represented by Saint Thomas Aquinas, which held that if Adam had not sinned, Christ would not have come, and the Franciscan school of theology, represented by Saint Bonaventure and Blessed John Duns Scotus, which held that if Adam had not sinned, Christ would have come to raise us higher anyway. They are both right. And this is even demonstrated in the ancient Roman Easter Vigil Liturgy (representing the Early Christian instinct on this matter), which declares, “o happy fault, o necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a savior!” “O happy fault” indicates the Dominicans are right – if not for Adam’s sin, the happy result of God the Son Incarnate would not have come. But “o necessary sin” indicates the Franciscans are right – the sin, whether in Adam or one of his descendants, was inevitable and therefore necessary to God’s Eternal Plan, and Jesus would have come in the flesh anyway, making us not only indwelt by the Holy Spirit (and thus the Trinity) but actually sons of God in the Eternal Son of God, united to His perfect and glorified human flesh, under His new Headship of humanity as the New Adam, raising us higher than Adam in his original condition. Unlike under Adam’s Headship of humanity, there is no potential for a future Fall under Christ the New Adam’s Headship of humanity. Jesus being both fully God and fully man ensured that He would pass the test Adam failed, and so ensured that humankind under His Headship, united to Him, sharing in His renewed humanity, would never fall as Adam’s seed would have eventually even if Adam had passed the test.

With this understanding, we would have to say that “the Trinity created the world only in order to render it divine in Christ. The Trinity created man only in order to communicate to Him Divine Life in Christ” (Hasseveldt, 33). We would have to say that the failure of adam because of his creaturely finitude was foreseen by God and incorporated into his Eternal Plan. God gave Adam the one simple rule “do not eat the fruit of this tree” in order to make disobedience possible, as a test of love, to measure the maturity of His human children. Would adam obey in love for God the Covenant Father? God allowed Satan’s temptation knowing that it ultimately would help raise humanity to the Trinitarian life God desired to share with humanity in the first place, through necessitating the Eternal Son’s Incarnation. Thus Adam’s Fall is ultimately an “upward fall,” it is truly “o happy fault,” truly “o necessary sin,” a part of God’s sovereign Divine Covenant Plan from all Eternity, which incorporates human free choice and failures like Adam’s.

All this completely fits the logic of Covenant. God foresees Adam’s failure but still had to give the test, as he later tested Noah and Abraham and Israel, because He had determined to raise His created son, mankind (adam) to His Eternal Trinitarian Life and so He was preparing humanity for the Incarnation which would take them there. Adam had taken the supernatural sonship of the indwelling Trinity for granted, (as later humanity repeatedly took even the Sacred kinship of the covenants for granted). Fallen mankind, even Chosen Israel, needed to see how much they needed supernatural sonship, or they would not bother to take it had it been offered earlier (or to keep it if they took it). Chosen Israel demonstrated this because they were offered much less (a royal priesthood), which they rejected, preferring worldly prestige and sin, and it took them so very long to really embrace even the Mosaic Law which was only a preparation. They took even their covenant sonship for granted. God tested His creatures, but He made sure that He was already bound to them in covenant family before they had opportunity to fail, so they would never be judged as mere rebellious and defective creatures. Thus God made the unconditional Covenant with Adam (the Covenant Sign being the Sabbath) before Adam’s Fall. Thus God made the unconditional Covenant with Abraham and his seed before the conditional Mosaic covenant with its curses. God ensured that adam/humanity would be His children even if fallen away from supernatural sonship, and He would father them to maturity. God was patient, willing to take His time to father humanity through a series of covenants suited to their different stages of maturity, so they would gradually come to long for His gift, and be mature enough to not take the gift of supernatural sonship for granted and easily lose it as did Adam. They would gradually grow to come to desire to have it and keep it, desire to love like God their Father, with self-giving love, and He would then “in the fullness of time” give them the gift that would enable them to do it.

So What Needs to Be Substituted to Repair the Damage of Adam’s Sin?  Obedience in Self-Sacrificing Love on the Part of Humanity (adam) Needs to Be Substituted for Disobedient Failure to Self-Sacrifice Due to Failure to Love

What is needed to repair a sin depends on the nature of the sin. True reparation truly makes up for the offense, truly repairs the damage (in reparation for breaking the window, you fix the window). Adam disobeyed, but under specific conditions. And Adam was a specific, unique kind of person. So to repair the damage, a specific kind of obedience needs to be substituted for the specific kind of disobedience, by a specific kind of person – the Head of humanity.

The Bible directly links Adam with Christ. “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45). As discussed above, “a living being” did include the fact that Adam was created with the Ruach, the indwelling Holy Spirit. But the New Adam, Christ, has more than just supernatural life: He has Divine Life, the origin of all Life, natural and supernatural. God is Spirit, and so God the Son in Christ the New Adam is a life-giving spirit, and thus the New Adam, though human like Adam, as God is also a life-giving spirit, able to give and maintain the supernatural life of sonship which was always fragile in Adam and would have continued to be so in any unfallen descendants. Thus 1 Corinthians 15:44-49 concludes, “And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:49).

In this sense, Christ more than repairs the damage of Adam’s sin. The broken window is replaced with bullet-proof glass, ensuring that it will not shatter again. Our human nature is not only restored, but raised in Christ whose nature we share and whose Body we are to the stature of divine nature. Thus the Early Church Fathers spoke of salvation in terms of divinization or deification – not in the pantheistic sense of the Eastern religions, but by participation. We now “participate in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). God the Son in Christ Jesus truly participates in our humanity, and our humanity, joined to Him, truly participates in His divine nature. So Christ did not restore us to the fragile grasp on the indwelling Holy Spirit humanity had in Adam, such that we might lose it again. He ensured that there would be no more Fall for all who “remain in Him.”

So, the problem to be fixed was sin in the world, which had “entered the world through one man” (Romans 5:12), specifically “Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come (Romans 5:14). Christ follows the pattern of Adam, therefore Christ is the New Adam. What was Adam? The Head of Humanity, which is the Pinnacle of Creation, which is why Adam’s sin had such universal consequences for all Creation. So, to repair all this damage, Christ needed to be established as the New Adam, the New Head of all humanity. For this purpose God the Son was “made of a woman” (Galatians 4:4 KJV) into a true man, the beginning of a new, divinized humanity still of the stock of old Adam (not an entirely new creation, or else He could not redeem the old – it had to be human obedience in atonement for human disobedience). But to replace the old Adam as the Head of adam/humanity first He had to repair the damage done by the old Adam, substituting obedience for Adam’s disobedience.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:17-19)

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22)

Thus the Bible clearly testifies that the “substitutionary atonement” which brings our salvation is specifically the atonement of Jesus the New Adam for the Original Sin of Adam which initially brought sin into the world. “As through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many (all humanity connected to him through generation from him) were made sinners (concupiscent, lacking the Holy Spirit which keeps the passions in order), so also through the obedience of the one man (Christ the New Adam) the many (all those connected to Him through the New Covenant Family Bond initiated in Baptism) will be made righteous (future tense because we are not yet fully made righteous, as we await the final purification of our souls in the fire of 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, and the resurrection of our corrupt bodies).” “For as in Adam all die (death, the wage of sin, came to all humanity through Adam as Head of humanity), so in Christ all will be made alive (all humanity joined to Christ as the Head of redeemed humanity will be restored to the fullness of life, spiritual and material, eternally – but again, this in the future tense).”  As Paul laments, Christians remain in this “body of death” for the time being.  Our good standing in the New Covenant Family despite our human weaknesses guarantees the Father will father us to our mature perfection (see below).

So Jesus successfully atones for and repairs the damage done by Adam’s sin by offering His obedience for Adam’s disobedience. The Early Church Fathers understood this. As Saint Justin Martyr (martyred 165 AD by the pagan Roman Rulers he unsuccessfully tried to convert) testified in explaining the Christian faith to the Jews, “[The Son of God] became man through the Virgin that the disobedience caused by the serpent might be destroyed in the same way in which it had originated.” Jesus succeeds in offering obedience in atonement for Adam’s disobedience, as He was made for. It would not be until His resurrection, when His sinless human body just like Adam’s before the Fall was also glorified that Jesus would actually become the New Adam, Head of all humanity redeemed in Him. Saint Augustine, understanding this new Headship of humanity in Christ, would say that “the Church is the world, redeemed.” The Church is what the world looks like when it is redeemed in Christ, and the Church is intended to encompass the entire world of human beings, putting them all under the Headship of Jesus the New Adam, the new adam, the new humanity. The Church is the New Covenant Family and actually the Body of Christ which people still under the Headship of fallen Adam need to join in order to come under Christ’s saving Headship, freeing them from sin both now to great degree, restoring the Holy Spirit of sonship in God’s Covenant Family who makes available to them the Grace/participation in divine life (2 Peter 1:4) to overcome the still-concupiscent flesh, and later freeing them totally from sin, soul and body, through the purification of 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 and the resurrection of the body. In terms of Trinitarian theology, in Jesus Christ the God-man, the New Adam, humanity/adam has finally achieved what it was created for – able to love like God, ready to join God in His Heavenly Trinitarian Life of self-giving Love. We whose humanity is attached to Jesus the New adam, Head of renewed humanity, are drawn into the Trinitarian Life with Him.

To Recap

God created mankind (Hebrew adam) specifically to be indwelt by his Holy Spirit (Hebrew Ruach), the third Person of the Trinity, who was involved in Creation in Genesis 1:2 and was also the breath (also Hebrew ruach) of Genesis 2:7, which made Adam more than another creation of God’s, but an (adopted) son, sharing in His very Spirit, which is why Luke 3:38 calls Adam “the son of God.”  Jesus the New Adam would be “the Son of God” in a much more profound sense – the Eternal Son of God, second Person of the Trinity, hypostatically (this term comes from the Council of Nicea which originally defined Jesus’ Divinity) bonded to a completely human nature so as to become fully human yet fully God, in order to guarantee that the human New Adam could pass the test the human first Adam failed, and love like God, forever.  This adopted sonship of mankind (adam) on Earth, in created time, was intended as a place of probation or preparation, where mankind could learn to love with total self-giving love, like God loves within the Trinity, and so be made ready to join in God’s own Heavenly Eternal Family.

Adam’s failure to pass the test of self-giving love, resulting in his sin of disobedience, made him lose that indwelling Divine Spirit of sonship, which had made him “a son of God” (Luke 3:38) able to cry to God his Creator “Abba! Father!” (Abba means Daddy). Thus all mankind (adam), descended from Fallen Adam, are born without that indwelling Holy Spirit of Divine sonship which Adam lost. But because humanity was created to have this indwelling Spirit of God, the lack of God’s Spirit, which is the condition known as “Original Sin” we are all born with, makes us “defective” or “severely wounded” human beings, not like we were meant to be. This lack of the intended indwelling Holy Spirit (which would complete us as human beings) throws our other human faculties “out of balance,” darkening our human reason and weakening our human will and disordering our human passions, so we are easily tempted by or even addicted to what is bad for us or others, making us much more likely than Adam ever was to commit personal sins.

Adam, who initially had the strength of God’s Spirit of sonship, failed the test of martyrdom, the hardest test imaginable: the test of giving up his life for love of God and for love of his bride. We daily fail much smaller tests of our love for God and all mankind, because of the Spirit we were born lacking, which makes us so weak. So desperately weak, in fact, that we cannot help but commit personal sins, we cannot help but do the sinful things which harm us and others, and which separate us even further from connection with God. Moreover, without the Spirit of sonship, we are outside of His family. Although God covenanted Himself with Adam before the Fall, God still lets his wayward covenant sons who cut themselves off from the covenant family (refusing to live under the family roof and by the family rules) choose to not love Him (since the act of love must be free) and so not be with Him in Heaven as a member of His Family – but the Eternal absence of God who we were made to be with which they choose is so horrible a condition, it is described in the Bible as Hell, which is the translation of Gehenna, the great fire pit outside of Jerusalem where garbage was burned. This “fire pit” image is where the pictorial depictions of Hell in art come from, even though Hell is not a physical place (people do not literally go to the fire pit outside of ancient Jerusalem after death!), but an eternal spiritual condition. Many people start their Hell early, living in a spiritual condition of self-centered misery, refusing to love selflessly and not accepting deep and true, self-giving love while still on this Earth. If they do not turn to the God of love to get beyond their selfishness before they die, they will enter timeless Eternity in that spiritual condition, without family connection with the God they did not want to know and love and serve (and be adopted by), and the Hell they already live will become infinitely worse, an irrevocable spiritual condition of utter loneliness.

Adam failed the test, (which is why sin enters through Adam and not through Eve) with disastrous results for his offspring, the human race. To prepare Fallen humanity more slowly and gradually for joining in His Trinitarian Family Life (Heaven), God then made a series of ever-widening covenants, family ties, with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David, promising a new and everlasting covenant with the future Messianic “Son of David” – the everlasting Davidic Kingdom of God (which Jesus announces by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, as David’s son Solomon had done when being crowned the first Davidic King). God sent Jesus to fulfill all the promises of the previous covenants, which all were inclined towards the ultimate reversal of the Fall of Man and bringing humanity to participate in God’s Divine Trinitarian Life of Love (2 Peter 1:4). Jesus says, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” This is because giving one’s life for another, not even holding back one’s own life, is the closest thing a human being can do to imitate God’s total self-giving love within the Trinity. It is precisely this that Adam failed to do, giving his life for love of Eve his bride, threatened by the deadly nahash, in obedient love for God. And it is precisely this kind of obedience unto death with a love that holds nothing back that Jesus the New Adam provides in substitutionary atonement for Adam’s failure.

In the Fullness of Time:  Christ the New Adam Sent to Repair the Damage

Jesus is the second of the Three Divine Persons sharing One Divine Substance which is the Trinity of Love. The unique God-Man Jesus is the “New Adam” who substitutes for the disobedience of Adam His perfect yet truly human obedience (unto death on the Cross) in order to atone for or repair the damage of Adam’s sin, taking out sin at its source. As Adam was the head of the human race, and sin entered all of us through Adam’s sin, Jesus the New Adam is the new head of the human race, and those joined to Jesus are freed from sin’s consequences because of His atonement which repairs and restores the relationship which God created us for. Those who come under Jesus’ Headship by joining His Body (the Church), are no longer under the Headship of Fallen Adam and so no longer subject to the eternal consequences of sin (separation from God, which is Hell), but participate in Jesus’ obedience and in His family. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” – for Abundant Life! (1 Corinthians 15:22, see Romans 5:17-18). So through personal knowledge of Jesus (through faith) and Baptism into His Body the Church (which is the method Jesus established for coming under His Headship, the Covenant Oath of the New and Everlasting Covenant – see Mark 16:16, Matthew 28:18-20), we humans once again have the ability to become “partakers in the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), intimately connected with the Trinity which can give us truly victorious and Abundant Life even here on Earth – and which can make us all truly one human family, adopted by God our Creator and sharing in His Trinitarian life of Love.

Jesus had to be fully human, like Adam, in order to be the New Head of the human race like Adam was, and to ensure the obedience he offered to replace Adam’s human disobedience was truly and fully human. And He also had to be fully God in order to ensure He could pass the test Adam failed, and love like God, giving Himself totally and holding nothing back, so that His humanity (and that of us joined to it, joined to His Body the Church) could enter His Heavenly Eternal Trinitarian Life of Love.

Jesus, like Adam, is confronted with the choice of obedience to God and death or disobedience and life, in a Garden, Gethsemane instead of Eden, where He has His last chance to run away and avoid crucifixion. Recent movies like The Miracle Maker and The Passion of the Christ specifically depict Jesus’ “Agony in the Garden” as a struggle with Satan’s temptation to escape death by disobeying God, mirroring Adam’s Garden of Eden struggle with Satan (which is clearly part of the sense of the the Biblical account of Jesus at Gethsemane). Jesus is fully human and the thought of painful death repulses Him just as much as it did Adam, hence His agony. Yet, to replace Adam’s disobedient silence and inaction in defense of his bride (to avoid being killed by the nahash), Jesus lovingly declares “not my (human) will, but Yours be done, Father,” and He actively stays and waits for Judas and the soldiers to come arrest Him and crucify Him, in obedience to God and for love of His Bride, the Church (see below). Jesus’ obedience at the “tree” of the Cross undoes Adam’s disobedience at the tree in the Garden of Eden.

The New Adam takes a Bride: the New Covenant Church

Adam was supposed to give up his life for love of his threatened bride, Eve, as well as for obedient love of God. Jesus the New Adam substitutionarily atones for Adam’s failure by giving up His life for love of His Bride, the New Eve. The New Eve is the Church, which is intended to encompass all humanity (so His loving sacrifice is for all humanity). The Early Christian Church understood the Church as being created from the wounded side of Christ on the Cross, just as the first Eve had been created from the side of the first Adam. The water and blood which flowed from Jesus’ side were understood as representing Baptism and Holy Communion, the Church’s principal sacraments. As the first Eve was created from the side of the first Adam, and then became the bride of Adam, declared to be “one flesh” with Adam, so the New Eve, the Church, was created from the side of the New Adam, Jesus, and became the Bride of the New Adam, likewise “one flesh” with the New Adam, Jesus Christ, and therefore became His Body. [2]  For this reason the two principal images the Bible uses to describe the Church are to call it “the Bride of Christ” or “the Body of Christ,” and Ephesians 5:22-32 make it clear these two images are intimately tied to each other. Because the Church is His Bride, it is also His Body. Those who are incorporated through Baptism and Holy Communion into the Church, (which is the New Eve taken from the side of the New Adam, or the Bride of Christ), as His Bride become part of Christ’s Body and so are saved by the marital “one flesh” union with Him. Our humanity becomes “one flesh” with the humanity of Jesus the New Adam through this spiritual marriage, so we participate in His life and in His obedience and are freed from the consequences of the first Adam’s disobedience. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul describes human “one flesh” marriage as a symbol of the saving marital union of Christ and His Bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:22-32), concluding that “This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the Church.” The Early Church understood that Christians were now related to God not only as Covenant Father, but also as Spouse, as the Bride of God the Son, who makes the Church His Bride fruitful. As Adam and Eve were to be fruitful and fill the Earth with humanity, so the New Adam and His Bride and Body, the New Eve, the Church, are to be fruitful and fill the Earth with redeemed humanity, New Covenant children of God the Father.

The Church His Body – We Are Saved by Incorporation into the New Adam, the New Head of Humanity, No Longer Attached to the Old Adam

Adam in the Garden of Eden, the center of Creation, fails the greatest test of Love and loses the life of God’s Spirit for all humanity, wounding Creation. This is the “something that is wrong” which all religions recognize and strive to fix. Jesus the New Adam, committing Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane, passes the test of Love and in His Resurrection establishes a “New Creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15), restoring what Adam lost in the Garden of Eden. We become part of the New Creation of the New Adam through becoming part of the Bride of Christ the New Adam, the Church, and so becoming “one flesh” with Christ, part of His Body. For the love of all humanity, Jesus died to make it His Bride, and so a “New Creation.” Believing this and willingly consenting to this marriage union by joining the Bride, the Church, through Baptism (the method Jesus established – Mark 16:16, Matthew 28:18-20), is Christian Salvation.

The Hebrew word adam literally means “Man” or “Mankind” – humanity. The first Adam represents all humanity, is the Source and Head of humanity. And the New Adam, Jesus, represents redeemed humanity, is the Source and Head of redeemed humanity: humanity restored to the life of supernatural Grace, the indwelling presence of God’s Spirit, which the first Adam lost. Since the Bible calls the Church the Body of Christ the New Adam, Saint Augustine says that “the Church is the world, redeemed” – the Kingdom of God on Earth, the everlasting Kingdom God promised David would be ruled by his Messianic descendant, Jesus (Jesus said that the Kingdom is already “among us,” and where on Earth does Jesus the King reign if not in His Church – the Kingdom cannot be separated from the Church, the New Covenant Family of God, although the Kingdom does not reach its fullness until Heaven, when the family of Father God and the subjects of the King are totally freed from sin by the resurrection of their bodies). All humanity still under the Headship of Fallen Adam are intended by God to come under the Headship of the New Adam (which is also the Kingship of the Messianic “Son of David”), and the way has been made for all by Christ’s atoning death for all linked to Fallen Adam by common humanity. So all human beings are Christ’s Bride, the New Eve He died to save, by His desire and intention, but they must consent to the marriage in order to come under Jesus’ saving Headship (and Kingship). Thus it is said that God’s gift of salvation is free, it has already been purchased by Christ’s death, but we must accept and receive it by our consent (by believing and being baptized – Mark 16:16).

. . .

Salvation in Summary

So the individual Christians who make up the Church are not simply “believers in Jesus” (a title the demons could claim – James 2:19): because they believed in obedient faith (Romans 1:5, 16:26) and thus in obedience were baptized (Mark 16:16), through that New Covenant Oath, the spiritual wedding of Baptism they became part of “the Bride of Christ the Church, and by “one flesh” marital union with Christ they became part of the Body of Christ the Church, and they therefore became children of God the Father because of their intimate union with God the Son Incarnate, Jesus Christ, the only natural Son of God, and therefore they were adopted into God’s family (as a daughter-in-law is “adopted” by her father-in-law, becomes part of her bridegroom’s family, on the basis of her sharing “one flesh” with the father’s natural son), and because they are God’s adopted children, they are no longer under condemnation or under any older covenant curse for sin, but are treated like children in good family standing, whom God the Father lovingly and patiently still trains in righteousness and helps to grow gradually into even greater maturity as adopted sons and daughters of God, who love like He does with self-giving love, ensuring that they mature to the full measure they need to in order to behold His brightness forever.  Therefore they are saved from the consequences of sin, they are saved from being outside of God’s family and subject to eternal death, receiving instead Eternal Life with God as a member of His family.

Go To the Beginning of this Book Love Unbounded: Tracing Salvation History from the Eternal Trinity to the New Covenant Church – Using Family Theology to Answer the Question How and Why Does Jesus’ Death Save Us?


[1] Even the brilliant and highly moral Greek philosophers of the Socratic school were confounded by sin.  They had accessed much of the genuine truth that is accessible to human reason, truths about the nature of God, about the nature of Justice, and they saw that God was the highest good.  But they could not understand why human beings, once they have discerned what the good is, would not do it! They expected the passions to fall in line with what the reason had come to understand as the good, so they did not understand concupiscence, that the passions were disordered and not under the control of the reason.

[2] This is the potential birth or “conception” of the Church.  The Church actually “took flesh” or was “born into the world” at Pentecost, when the actual collective body of believers in Christ was indwelt by the Holy Spirit, restoring the gift lost since Adam.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *