The Second Adam
“The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matt. 4:3–4).- Matthew 4:1-11
Augustine is often quoted as saying: “The New Testament is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.” This phrase encapsulates the New Testament’s view that without the teachings of Jesus and His apostles, we cannot grasp the true significance of the old covenant (Luke 24:25–27; 2 Cor. 3:15–16; Heb. 11).
Many Old Testament authors teach us about the Messiah, whether speaking of His ministry, death, resurrection, reign, the life of His church, or the state of the world after He consummates His Father’s plan. In order to understand better how Jesus fulfills the old covenant, we will periodically examine New Testament reflections on the book of Genesis throughout the course of our study. We will now pause to look at the first of three passages having special bearing on Genesis 1–3 before resuming our study of chapter 4.
Scripture separates humanity into two groups: those in Adam and those in Christ (Hos. 6:7; Rom. 5:12–21). Before grace is given, everyone who has ever lived (except Jesus) is in Adam and thus in bondage to sin and death. To be in Christ solves this problem, for once we trust in Him alone, He becomes our head, and we gain the benefits of His righteous life and atoning death (vv. 18–19).
To regain paradise for His people, Jesus had to become the second Adam. That is, He had to come in our likeness so that He could obey God perfectly and succeed where Adam failed as our representative. Paul teaches this explicitly (1 Cor. 15:45), but it is also implicit in the stories of Jesus’ temptation found in the synoptic Gospels.
After His baptism, Jesus was driven into the wilderness where He faced the one who used the serpent to tempt Adam. The first Adam was tempted to rely on his own wisdom instead of on the Lord’s revealed will. The second Adam was likewise tempted to abandon God’s will — that He subdue the serpent through suffering — when Satan tried to get Jesus to provide for His needs at the wrong time or to enter into His reign immediately and without pain (Matt. 4:1–11). However, unlike the first Adam, Jesus overcame Satan’s temptation, setting the stage for his final defeat on the cross (Col. 2:13–15).
The greatest benefit we receive from Jesus’ victory over sin and death is His perfect righteousness, which gives us access to heaven (2 Cor. 5:21). On a daily level, His victory enables Him to help us overcome the sins that persist in our lives (Heb. 2:18). Moreover, those in Christ are never tempted beyond what they can bear (1 Cor. 10:13). When you consider giving in to sin today, take time to ask for Christ’s help to overcome it and flee from the appearance of evil.
Passages for Further Study