Christ, the Last Adam and Second Man

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 7
There is a remarkable contrast between Adam and Christ, as given us in this passage. Christ is called “the Second Man” and “the last Adam.” There is a volume of truth in each of these designations, much needed for this day in which we live. On the one hand, what a sentence is upon all that is of man! On the other hand, what rich comfort there is in such a Christ! Surely this is needed when the energies of men are put forth with increasing pride and self-confidence, when there seems nothing withheld from the domain of man’s power as far as human hopes and expectations can measure. “The second man” writes death and condemnation upon all that has been in or of man morally. Before God, and therefore before the eye of faith, humanity is summed up in Adam. And whatever may be the pretensions of men, the Holy Spirit closes all in Adam with sin and death, for the judgment of God was rendered necessary by sin, though it was, one may surely say, most painful even to God. God in His own nature is not a judge: It is what sin has morally compelled Him to be. “God is love.” No circumstances made Him to be such. He was love entirely apart from all causes. But had there been no sin, there would have been no judgment. Therefore I say, sin made it needful that God should become a judge, but it would be most derogatory to His nature to suppose that God became love. God is love as truly as He is light: The divine judgment is a necessity created by sin. But as to man, all that the Holy Spirit can say about him is contained, as it were, in the man that transgressed God’s command and thus rendered it due to God’s majesty that He should be a Judge, for when the Spirit of God calls our Lord the “Second Man,” it is as good as telling us that all other men are only the reproduction of the first man. When you have known “the first man,” you have all that can be said about man as such. When Christ appeared, then, for the first time, there was another man. All others were of the same stock, and you had the sample of the common character in him who first of all broke down and went away from God and was driven out afterwards in shame by the command of Him who is love. Such is man.
But what a joy for us to know that He who was made flesh is “the Second Man” — a new kind of man altogether, as risen from the dead. Although he was truly a man as much as you or I, yet the Holy Spirit gives Him this term of new and special honor. And as now entered into the resurrection state, He is another sort of man, for whom the Holy Spirit reserves this remarkable title — “the Second Man.” Generations upon generations of men there might have been, but they were no other than “the first man.” Generations are going on still, whose associations are only with “the first man.” But I look up, and by faith I behold now, risen from the dead, at the right hand of God, another, even “the Second Man.” Man has broken through death; man has spoiled Satan; man has entered into a new region altogether; man is the object of the delight of God, of the worship of all heaven.
What a wondrous thought this is for that poor, weak creature! Man as he was disappears before the eye of faith. We know what he is: He is “the first man”; he is like Adam. But now we know another man altogether. And, thanks be to God! He who is “the Second Man” is “the Last Adam.” There is no other man — no other state or condition into which man can be brought. There can be no advance upon the risen Man at the right hand of God. Humanity in Him is fixed in blessedness and glory before God, so that if “the first man” sweeps the whole world into one common grave of death and pronounces condemnation upon the ways of the race, “the Second Man” lifts up our hearts and rejoices them in the apprehension of what He is in heaven and of what we too shall be with Him, for He who is risen from the grave, the conqueror of death, has lifted us up along with, and in, Himself, and as sure as He is in heaven, we shall have our portion with Him there. And we should desire practically that our place now and our ways and conversation should not be with Adam that fell, but with “the Second Man,” “the Last Adam.” Is it so with us? Let us ask not only for ourselves personally, but for our belongings, for there is many a man that shows the world, not so much in his own spirit, as in what he desires and seeks for. And you will often see pride or vanity, not so much perhaps in the parent personally, as in that which he gives to or winks at in the child. The Lord grant that we may neither do nor allow a single thing that would grieve Himself! It matters little whether we stand firm in twenty things, if there is one in which we deliberately sanction what is contrary to the Second Man. What a shame this should be for us! Let us look well to it that we stand having our eyes fixed upon Him to whom we belong, even “the heavenly,” for this is another term used of our Lord here. “As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” These blessed titles or descriptions belong to Him in their fullness only as risen from the dead and entered into glory; as such He is “the Second Man, the Last Adam,” the heavenly one. No doubt He was and is “the Lord from heaven,” else neither could have been said of Him. And in this too is another element of our joy and glory, that He who as the glorified Man is the object of heaven’s delight and praise is the mighty God Himself — the only-begotten Son. Hence man’s blessing is secured forever in His person. We are bound up with Him with an indissoluble bond that has already passed through death. But He is risen from the dead, and we stand in His own resurrection life and wait for the day when “we shall bear the image of the heavenly.”
Meanwhile, be it ours to walk as those that are consciously His and one with Him even now.
From the Bible Treasury