This blog provides a meditation on theEpiscopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:
Healthcare reforms upheld by US Supreme Court
Adam and Christ
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—13sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law.14Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.16And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgement following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.17If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.19For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.20But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,21so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification*leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Scholars call what Paul does with Adam and Christ, “Typology”: Adam is presented as a type or model of Jesus Christ. In effect this means that Paul picks out some points of comparison between the two figures as a way of explaining his teaching about Christ.
1. Both are human beings. Salvation does no come “as if by magic” but hrough the human life of Jesus.
2.Both are in Paul’s sense “prototypical” human beings-Adam of sinful human beings, Jesus of human beings “made right.”
3. They are proptotypical through their own actions. Adam disobeys God and initiates a process of making wrong; wheareas Jesus obeys God and initiates a process of making right.
4. They are also opposites in that Adam’s sinfulness leads to death, but Christ’s obedience leads to eternal life.
5. Death is earned by human beings by their choosing to belong to Adam; new life in rightness however is not earned by those who follow Christ, but is received by them as a free gift of God.
We can see that through this typology Paul is setting out a picture of the dual nature of humanity as a conflict between self- enclosed sinfulness which leads to death(ADAM) or a rightness open to God and the neighbour, which leads to life (JESUS). Adam and Jesus are two possibilities of human nature dependent on the choices made by individual people. It may seem that Adam wins because we all die; but Paul insists that in Christ we can all be made alive.
Biologists have scorned the biblical link between evil and death. After all, how long could the planet support us if there were no death; and where would evolution be if there were no extinction? They see natural death as a natural good, especially in the way it limits the scope of evil people: the great thing about Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Chairman Mao and Pol Pot, is that they’re dead.
In the light of his resurrection faith in Jesus, Paul sees death as a power acting on life to turn people inwards and to cut them off from God and their neighbour. It is this power which is overcome by trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus. We still die but now natural death becomes the gateway to life. For believers as well as for biologists, death is useful. St Francis can speak of “kind and gentle death who leads home the child of God.” There are fundamental issues of truth raised by Paul’s theology but we should be grateful that they are raised as he is dealing with questions that none of us can avoid.