Your First Father Sinned and Your Mediator Rebelled Against Me (Is. 43.27 my translation)
Tucked into Isaiah 43, God reminds the transgressors in Israel that the head of the human race fell from original innocence, and therefore Adam’s progeny inherited his sin and guilt.
Most English versions translate this verse differently but without warrant. For example, the NET, ESV, and NIV all render the second clause plural, such as “those” or “mediators.” This is surely wrong, since the noun is a masculine singular in the second clause, the same gender and number as the noun in the first clause, which all versions correctly translate as “father,” a masculine singular. Therefore, it is a restatement of the same reference to one person, Adam. Some versions, including the NET, translate the first clause as father of the nation, which is erroneous since the text clearly terms this individual as “first.” The text does not have any reference to “nation,” therefore, it’s unwarranted. Abraham was not known as either a mediator or someone rebelling against God. Abraham, while not perfect, is always held up in the text of scripture as commendable. Therefore, only Adam fits the bill of whom the text refers, the only one who was “the first father.”
Like Adam they transgressed the covenant, in it they dealt treacherously with Me (Hos. 6.7-my paraphrasing)
In Hosea 6, Adam is named as a transgressor of a covenant, the prohibition to not partake of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Some versions want to make the verse say something else, since their theological commitment won’t allow this idea of a covenant with Adam since it isn’t explicit in Genesis. The NET bible has “at Adam,” as if Hosea is referring to a place name. There may have been a city called “Red,” (the same word as “Adam”) at the confluence of the Jabbok and Jordan Rivers, but the reference in Hosea hardly makes any historical sense, since no record of a major transgression, by Israel, is recorded as occurring at that place. As in the Isaiah passage, the most logical view is that the reference points to the first man who sinned. This is the logical rendering and reference.
Of a truth, only this have I found, God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. (Ecc. 7.29-my paraphrasing)
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon references Adam and the Fall with the attendant human afflictions because of sin entering the world. Since no one else was made upright, the clause eliminates any other possible individuals as responsible for the present state of affairs. Ecclesiastes’ focus of investigation was what was occurring “under the sun,” this present evil world. Solomon characterizes all of Adam’s resultant progeny as scheming in their transgressions.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned. (Rom.5.12 NIV)
Paul affirms, in Rom. 5.12, that everyone has sinned. How and when did humanity sin? I contend that it was when Adam sinned in Gen. 3.6: She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened (Gen. 3.6b-7a NIV). The text states that it was only after Adam ate the fruit that the eyes of both of them were opened. In 1 Tim. 2.14, Paul acknowledges that Eve sinned first, but elsewhere scriptures maintain humanity did not fall in Eve but only when Adam transgressed: And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner (NIV).
Eve was merely deceived by the serpent, while Adam made a conscious choice of following and listening to God’s creature in the form of Eve, God’s perfect companion, though now a sinner. Adam’s action may be characterized as willful disobedience, worshipping (giving ultimate worth) to the creature instead of the Creator. The first Mosaic Commandment is: You shall have no other gods before [or besides] me (Ex. 20.3 NIV). False worship seems to be ingrained in the heart of humanity which demonstrates The Fall.
Natural Headship of Adam vs. Federal Headship of Jesus
All humanity was contained in Adam, naturally. Humans are all related to each other, as extended cousins, if you will: From one man he made all the nations (Acts 17.26a NIV). The biblical concept of natural containment is explicated in Heb. 7.9-10: One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor (NIV). Therefore, humanity sinned when Adam sinned.
The idea of “containment” is not so much a universal governing principle such that all of a person’s ancestral sins are what is counted on a person’s record. Romans 5.12-21 speaks of “one” act of Adam and not the continuing acts of subsequent generations. Some will caricature this idea of Seminal Headship but the conception answers many of the bible’s thorniest issues. Adam was presented with a choice for a specific time, a probation if you will. After failing the test, a new remedy was introduced in the form of Federal Headship of Christ presented, I would say, in the promise of Gen. 3.15. I used to hold the double Federal view, but the Natural Headship of Adam view (the old term is Seminal) answers questions such as why the Israelites were punished for the acts of their ancestors, at least, some times.
For instance, one reason for the Babylonian Exile was that the Jubilee Rest went unheeded for hundreds of years, and yet, the previous generations were not judged for it but only those who went into captivity. While the last generation perpetuated their ancestor’s sin, they added murder and idolatry in the form of human sacrifice (also other murder for advantage). These sins culminated in the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, the place for portraying expiation of sin. Also, the principle of the Natural Headship of Adam answers why Christ had to be born of a virgin. I can think of no other reason than guilt being transferred through the male contribution in natural procreation.
This one time test, and sin, is what Rom. 5.12 affirms, by using the Aorist tense for the Greek word for “sinned.” Grammatically, this Aorist indicates an action at a definitive point in time or, looking at it another way, as a whole. Though the Greek tense may be abused if the exegete over emphasizes it, there is most likely a reason the author used it as opposed to another option, such as the imperfect or the perfect tense. All humans sinned at the point when Adam transgressed in his mediatorial function for them, since all were contained in this “spokesman” (Is. 43.27).
Christ’s Gift Compared to Adam’s Sin
Romans 5 explicates the mediator function of both Adam and Jesus. In some ways, both mediators’ acts were similar in the sense that their acts held ramifications for a wider group. However, Adam has a natural and physical connection to all humanity, while Christ’s atonement for His sheep is representative and not physical. It is an adoption of people alienated from Him.
Rom. 5.18 says that Adam’s trespass caused condemnation to pass to all of humanity, while Christ’s redemptive sacrifice gave justification and life to all (to all who trust Him without distinction). Also, the disobedience of Adam made many (all humans in this case) sinners, while Christ’s obedience made many (all who trust Him) righteous, at least in a judicial standing with potentiality of practical righteousness (Rom. 5.19).
Just as there are similarities between mediatorial acts, so contrasts exist since the gift is not like the trespass in the results obtained from them. On one hand, Adam’s progeny received the governance (reign) of condemnation and death. Christ’s act, on the other hand, gave a reign of righteousness in life. While one act of Adam caused many resultant transgressions in his progeny, Christ’s one act erased all the sins of many Christians:
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 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! (Rom. 5.15-17 NIV).