Original Sin, Efficacious Atonement, and the Two Crowned Heads.

Agent C
7 min readAug 14, 2022

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive…”
(1 Corinthians 15:22).

Simply put, this verse demonstrates the essence of the biblical doctrine of Federal Headship, which teaches that Adam and Christ were both legal representatives on behalf of their posterity.

In Adam, all die.

In the Garden of Eden, there was but one rule:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Genesis 2:16–17, KJV 1900).

God commanded Adam to eat of any tree freely, though there was but one tree that he could not eat, or he would surely die. Adam would not die unless he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in which case he would surely die.

However, in Genesis 3, Satan tempted Eve to eat of that very tree, and she was deceived and ate of it, and gave the fruit to her husband and he also ate of it.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:4–6, KJV 1900).

Adam would not have died if it were not for his one trespass. Adam was able to eat freely of any tree in the garden besides one, yet he did indeed eat of that tree, and consequently he died.

Just as in 1 Corinthians 15:22, Paul tells us that the death of Adam reigned to even those who had not yet sinned personally:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come…” (Romans 5:12–14, KJV 1900).

Though many had not yet personally sinned as Adam did in the garden, the results of Adam’s sin still extended to his posterity. How could it be fair that the consequence of Adam’s sin reigned to us, if we did not personally sin just as Adam did? Paul explains:

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many…” (Romans 5:15, KJV 1900).

Paul tells us that by the offence of one many died. That is, when Adam sinned and died, we too died in him. But not only this consequence extended to Adam’s posterity; if the consequence was extended to all of his children, then this implies that he also sinned on their behalf. Consequences follow naturally from actions we are accountable for.

Think of it this way: In Basketball, if one player commits a foul, the whole team is penalized for the foul, even if they did not personally commit it.

This is the same sense in which Adam sinned on the behalf of his posterity. Adam represented his seed in the first covenant, and when he transgressed the law of God, all of Adam’s posterity was penalized. As Paul elaborates, his point becomes more and more clear:

And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification…” (Romans 5:16, KJV 1900).

Paul tells us that the judgment was by one to condemnation. The result of Adam’s sin for his seed was legal condemnation. Paul elucidates:

For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous…” (Romans 5:17–19, KJV 1900).

By Adam’s sin, the judgement of God came upon all men unto condemnation; by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners. Adam represented his seed so that when he broke the first covenant, we broke it in that we were represented by the transgression he committed.

In the same way, in Christ shall all be made alive.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive…”
(1 Corinthians 15:22).

Let us now take this verse from an additional angle: even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Just as when Adam sinned in the Garden, his seed inherited the consequences of his sin, so in Christ do believers inherit the results of Jesus’ perfect obedience to God’s law.

Those whom God elected before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him were in need of another representative that would obey God’s law on their behalf perfectly. They themselves could never perfectly obey the law in such a way.

The elect, as the rest of mankind, were in a two-fold dilemma: they were under the condemnation of God for both Adam’s sin and their own, and they were incapable of the demands of perfect obedience to God’s law.

If the elect were to be freed from their present state, both sides of the situation would need to be addressed. But how exactly could God do this? Only a human could substitute for human lives, but only God could take on the wrath of God and survive. Moreover, how could the God who says “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, Even they both are abomination to the LORD…” also be said to justify the ungodly in Romans 4:5?

This is a humanly impossible dilemma that only God could ever possibly solve- and he did. God the Father sent forth his Son who himself was God to take on human flesh and nature, being born of a virgin, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people while perfectly obey the law of God on their behalf. God the son became something he wasn’t while never ceasing to be what he was.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life…” (Romans 5:10, KJV 1900)

Both sides of the dilemma were solved: While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, and we were saved by his perfect obedience to God’s law when he was walking the Earth.

Paul compares the effects of Adam’s sin to his posterity to the effects of Christ’s perfect obedience to those whom he represented in his life and death. In Romans 5:14, Paul even calls Adam a figure of the Christ who was to come.

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many…” (Romans 5:15, KJV 1900).

The offence of Adam is not like the endowment of grace found in Christ. If many died by the sin of Adam, a figure of Christ, how much more abundant and greater are the effects of the perfect righteousness of Christ.

After Paul makes the point to contrast the results of the actions of Adam and Christ, he talks about the similarities between the two actions:

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:18–19, KJV 1900)

Paul shows the power of the passive and active obedience of Christ in contrast to the condemnation that Adam brought by his sin in the garden. Just as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. In the same way that Adam’s sin resulted in condemnation even over those who did not themselves sin, even so the obedience of Christ extends even to those who were not righteous.

The power of the cross and obedience of Christ is that just as Adam’s sin condemned all his seed, so Christ’s righteousness justified all those whom he represented in his life and death.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive…”
(1 Corinthians 15:22).

--

--

Agent C

I am a Dutch Reformed Christian (3FU) and High Calvinist interested in providing answers to Biblical questions as well as objections to the Christian worldview.