The First and Last Adams

5.30.23 Devo Image

“So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”—1 Corinthians 15:45–49 (NIV)

The dictionary defines prototype as “a first, preliminary model of something from which other forms are developed or copied.” In today’s passage, Paul tells us about two prototypes: Adam and Jesus.

Let’s start with Adam. In Genesis 1:27 (NASB), we’re told about the sixth day of creation: “God created man in His own image.” The crowning jewel of the Lord’s good and perfect creation, man (hā·’ā·ḏām or “Adam”) was given life. 

He was created in the image and likeness of his Creator. Now here’s the interesting thing: In Colossians 1:15 (NIV), Paul says that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” The Greek word translated as “firstborn” (prototokos) here doesn’t mean the firstborn child in a family. Instead, it’s denoting that Jesus is the preeminent, self-existent prototype for all humanity. He is the model, the image and likeness of God we were created in. That’s why Paul follows it by saying, “For in him all things were created . . . all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (1 Colossians 1:16–17 (NIV). 

So, the first Adam was in fact modeled after and given life by the last Adam! Isn’t that incredible? In Genesis 2:7 (NIV) we’re told, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” He was a natural being given a spirit, made alive by the breathe (pnoē in the Greek, where we get the word pneuma, which refers to the spirit and the Spirit). By the Holy Spirit and through the working of the Son, God breathed a spirit into humanity, thus making us in His likeness.  

And then came the fall. The first Adam, along with his wife Eve, seeking to be “like God,” in pride, disobeyed and rebelled against God. He sinned, thus allowing sin to enter “the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people” (Romans 5:12 NIV). In that moment, that breath, that spirit of life, died. Every child born since then has been born spiritually dead, separated from God—except for One. 

In his book The History of Christians Doctrines, Louis Berkhof wrote, “By His incarnation and human life He (Jesus) thus reverses the course on which Adam, by his sin, started humanity, and thus becomes a new leaven in the life of mankind. He communicates immortality to those who are united to Him by faith and effects an ethical transformation in their lives, and by His obedience compensates for the disobedience of Adam.” 

You see, Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus about being born again wasn’t just metaphorical; it was an explanation of His work. The Son of God, who came from heaven, in Spirit and truth, is the first of a new humanity. He is the new Adam, the last Adam, the prototype for life eternal, and He invites us to be new, too, to be free from the stain of sin that came from the first Adam. 

Pause: How does the first Adam differ from the last Adam?

Practice: Today, I invite you to reflect on what it means to be in Christ—to be a new creation; to be given the spirit of life by the Holy Spirit, and to be adopted into the family of God. 

Pray: Father, what a glorious and beautiful and wonderful chapter of Scripture You breathed into the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. What beautiful truth You have gifted us with to understand, embrace, find hope, rest, and confidence in. Thank You for not leaving us in our sinful and spiritually-dead state. Thank You for the last Adam, my Savior and Lord and life, Your precious Son Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.