TWO COVENANTAL HEADS
A Meditation on Romans 5:14-19
Then Adam sinned in the garden, he didn’t sin as an isolated, disconnected individual. Adam sinned as the covenantal head or representative of the entire human race. Therefore, all of us have been affected by his sin. Think of it this way: In Washington, D.C. we have elected representatives, Senators, for example, and we all have to live with the decisions they make on our behalf, whether we agree with their decisions or not. We’re all affected by the legislation of our Senators, and similarly we’re all affected by Adam’s sin.
You might be tempted to think that he didn’t represent you very well, but the truth is you and I were represented very well. You might want to protest, “But it seems that he didn’t even last 10 minutes.” Well, you probably wouldn’t have lasted 2 minutes.
As a result of Adam’s sin, we all became sinners. Theologians refer to this as Original Sin—Original Sin doesn’t refer to the first sin per se, but to the consequences of the first sin that came upon all humanity. Romans 5:19 spells this out for us: “For by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” David confessed, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5). Because of Adam we are by nature sinners. “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of the world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:1-3). The Bible gives a plain answer to the question: Is man basically good or evil? We could also ask these questions to help clarify the issue: Are we sinners because we sin? Or, do we sin because we’re sinners? The latter question is the correct one; because of the sinful nature that we inherited from Adam we sin.
If you still think it’s unfair to be represented by Adam, and to have his sin and guilt imputed to us (i.e., credited to our account), then—if you’re consistent—you should also think it’s unfair to be represented by Christ, and to have His righteousness imputed to us (2 Cor. 5:21). In Romans 5:14, we’re told that Adam “was a type of the one who would come.” This is a reference to Christ, who would be the last Adam, and the new covenantal head or representative.
In the next five verses in Romans (5:15-19) we have five com-parisons between the first Adam and the second Adam, Christ; we’re told how the first Adam affected us, and then how the second Adam affected us. Consider just two comparisons: “Therefore, as one tres-pass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobed-ience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:18-19).
Since Christ is the covenantal head of those who believe in Him, His righteousness, life and resurrection are credited to their ac-count, replacing the sin, condemnation and death that our first covenantal head imputed to us. Apart from covenantal headship we cannot explain how the righteousness of another could benefit us.
Jesus Christ, the second Adam, succeeds where the first Adam failed; the second Adam undoes what the first Adam had done.
The first Adam comes to the Garden of Eden and sins; the second Adam comes to the garden of Gethsemane and bears sin.
The first Adam is tempted by the serpent in a plush paradise and gives in; the second Adam is tempted by the serpent in a barren wilder-ness and resists.
The first Adam hides from God in seclusion; the second Adam reveals God in the open.
The first Adam is guilty and arrested by God in the cool of the day; the second Adam is innocent and arrested by man in the cool of the night.
The first Adam abandons the truth; the second Adam is the personification of truth.
The first Adam brought sin and condemnation into the world; the second Adam brought righteousness and salvation into the world.
The first Adam failed to protect his bride in the Garden of Eden; the second Adam protected His bride in the garden of Gethsemane.
The first Adam let the serpent live; the second Adam crushed his head. Consequently, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21-22).
Pastor Wayne Christensen, www.foxlakechurch.org, Oct. 11, 2015