If Adam did not die the day he ate of the fruit, then the Bible would make God a liar and Satan told the truth. Did Adam die the day he ate? The issue of Adam’s death is a thorny problem for some. Yet the facts are clear that God said the day you eat you will die. Part of the issue is the belief that God promised Adam the penalty of physical or biological death. Man and Wife Get’s Death Penalty?
In determining the answer to the question of Adam’s death, it is important to note that he was created outside the garden. He had no access to the tree of life which God placed in paradise. He like the rest of God’s creation sustained his life through his environment. Animals, insects, fowl and fish consumed their food from their environment. That means they ate one another and other plants. Death existed as a natural phenomenon in the creation order.
Likewise, Adam was also capable of dying as this is man’s natural biological process. Further, it is evident that when God placed Adam in the garden of Eden and gave him the command, upon his disobedience, he did not physically die . Adam lived to be 930 years of age and bore more sons and daughters, Gen. 5:4-5. That’s hardly a description of physical death. Yet the command was the day you eat you will die.
When we understand that God placed Adam under a covenant, gave him the law of that covenant with the power of making a choice, the penalty of which was immediate death the day he ate. No one questions that Adam ate. The conclusion is inescapable that he died the same day. His death was spiritual. He broke the covenant in transgressing the law which God gave him. As a result, he was separated from God through sin. This brought corporate death in that it passed upon all men.
Law Does Not Bring Life
Law, while good, does not bring life, Gal. 3:21. It teaches us what is good and points out what it evil. Paul argues that if there were a law which could have brought life, truly righteousness would have been by law. Further, James, speaking also of the Torah said that if man offends in one point he is guilty of all, (Jas. 2:10). In other words, law requires perfect obedience. Man, a creature of free choice inevitably whether willingly and unwillingly eventually breaks law. In this, Adam represents the whole creation.
When Adam transgressed law, the bible stays “the sin” and “the death” entered the world. This is covenantal or corporate sin and death. It is not individual because it passed upon all men. This does not deny Adam’s individual transgression. “Therefore, just as through one man [the] sin entered the world and [the] death through [the] sin, and thus [the] death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12). It appears that the Bible personifies “the sin” and “the death” as powers independent of the act of man in that they act upon man as a result of Adam’s transgression.
“The Sin” and “The Death” are active alien powers which entered the world through breaking law. These powers were magnified or became even greater after God gives more law, i.e. through Moses. “Nevertheless the death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.” (Rom. 5:14).
If this death is physical death, then the penalty is paid by each man when he dies physically. So why would Christ’s death be necessary? Further, now that man is redeemed from death through Christ, why does he yet die physically? Whatever the death is caused by the “law of sin and death” those in Christ are free from it, (Rom. 6:1-4, 8:1-4). Yet, physical death continues. That can only mean it was never the subject of the death Adam was threatened with and of which he died, while yet biologically alive.
The Sin of the World
Christ came to take away “the Sin” of the world. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away “the Sin” of the world.” Now if Christ died to take away the sin of the world, then he also takes away “The Death,” which passed upon all men for those who trust in him.Thus, he says, I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Now that believers are no longer under law but under grace and truth, a realm where the sin and the death is removed, their lives are blessed in being restored to the tree of life.
“Because of Abraham’s faith in the promise of God, it was accounted to him for righteousness in spite of Abraham’s human weakness. In like manner, David described the blessedness of of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works (law). “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” (Rom. 4:6-8).
The Last Adam
The Last Adam reversed the penalty of law, i.e. “the sin” and “the death” and brought about righteousness through his death and resurrection. Those who believe and trust in him do not have their sins held to their account through the blessedness of forgiveness. Christ is the end of law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Rom. 10:4) In him, the tree of life has been restored in the city which came down out of heaven from God and providing both healing of the nations and escape from the second death.
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