Adam Eve, Our First Parents

          In the Introduction to his commentary on Genesis, Derek Kidner made the following statement:

If, as the text of Genesis would by no means disallow, God initially shaped man by a process of evolution, it would follow that a considerable stock of near-humans preceded the first true man, and it would be arbitrary to picture these as mindless brutes. Nothing requires that the creature into which God breathed human life should not have been of a species prepared in every way for humanity, with already a long history of practical intelligence, artistic sensibility and capacity for awe and reflection.[1]

While Kidner does not commit himself completely to that idea, he does argue that man’s solidarity with the sin of Adam is not based on heredity. Kidner’s position is not new. Many have, and still do, deny that Adam and Eve are the first parents of the whole human race.

            Fifty years ago, when I was a member of another denomination that was even then known for being liberal, the Sunday School where my parents attended was teaching that Adam and Eve were not the first parents of all of us. They taught that Adam and Eve were just two people among many who had advanced from a lower form of life. There were other hominids from whom they were separated by God, according to that fanciful theory. Adam’s and Eve’s children intermarried with those other hominids. When I heard that theory I was appalled. It was clearly a direct attack on the veracity of the Scripture. It was one of the reasons that I soon left that denomination and became a Presbyterian. Then, a few years ago there was an article in the By-Faith magazine of the PCA written by a professor at an ostensibly Reformed seminary in the Midwest that posited the same theory about Adam and Eve. The professor stated that the genetic pool was too large for all of us to have come from a single set of first parents. Of course, if the genetic pool is too large for us all to have come from a single set of parents some 10,000 years ago or so, then how do we deal with the Genesis flood? That cataclysmic event happened some 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. There were only eight survivors from all the people who had formerly lived on the earth before the flood. There are 7.9 billion people on the earth today who all came from the 8 people who survived the flood—unless we deny the Genesis flood also. Of course, people who deny that Adam and Eve are our first parents generally have no difficulty in denying that the flood was a world-wide catastrophe.

            What happens to the Scripture when we deny that Adam and Eve are the first parents of all humans? Let us consider all the Scriptures that assert Adam and Eve as our first parents. First, Genesis 5 gives us the generations of Adam and his descendants down to Noah. Adam was the first human created by God, according to Genesis 5. 1 Chronicles 1:1 gives us the genealogy of Adam and his descendants also. Then, the Gospel of Luke gives us the ancestry of Jesus all the way back to Adam. Genesis, 1 Chronicles, and Luke all list the first three names in those lists as Adam, Seth, and Enosh. All mankind began through Adam. He was the first man made by God. Also, Jude 1:14 says, “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones.” All the genealogical lists have Enoch as the seventh generation from Adam. So, we have four books of the Bible that agree and Jesus said, “By the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed” (Matthew 18:16). Yet, there are other Scriptural testimonies to Adam being the first man and very important theological truths are based on that fact.

           First, the entrance of sin into the world was through the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Sin entered into the world through one man, Adam. That is the teaching of Scripture. There really are only two options for the existence of sin in the world. Either God did not create man upright and holy or man is united through one federal head, Adam, whose sin is imputed to all his descendants and transmitted by ordinary generation. Sin and death cannot be rightly understood and are unaccounted unless we believe they entered into the world through the ‘one man’ who sinned. As John Murray commented on this verse:

The one man is without question Adam (vs. 14). The account given in Genesis 3 is the basis of this statement and the apostle places his imprimatur upon the authenticity of this account. The importance he attached to this incident of Genesis 3 is attested by the fact that the subsequent development of his argument turns on it. That sin entered through one man is an integral element of the comparison or parallel upon which is to be built Paul’s doctrine of justification.[2]

All of Romans 5:12-21 contrasts and compares the work of our two federal heads, Adam and Jesus. Jesus is the second Adam who was sent, in part, to do what Adam failed to do—to represent us in the way Adam was supposed to do, but did not. It is imperative that Adam was the first man because he held a special relationship to the rest of humanity descended from him through ordinary generation. God placed him as our federal head. If he had stood, then the whole race would have been confirmed in holiness. He did not stand. He fell into sin and through that sin came the spread of sin to the whole human race, death itself, and the wrath and curse of God against sin. Paul, therefore, argues that there are only two men in the history of the world who are the federal representatives of all the rest of humanity. The second Adam overcame the first Adam’s failures and through Him we have redemption, forgiveness, and eternal life. As Murray stated, the doctrine of justification by faith alone depends on the argument of Romans 5 and the veracity of the Genesis account. So, Romans is another book of the Scripture that requires Adam to be the first man created.

There are two Old Testament books which confirm that Adam tried to hide his sin from the Lord—something that is utterly impossible to do. In Job 31:33, Job asks, “Have I covered my transgressions like Adam, by hiding my iniquity in my bosom?” Adam covered his sins by hiding in the garden when he heard the sound of the Lord walking therein. Job was falsely accused of sin by his three friends without any substance to the charges. In his commentary on Job, Francis Delitzsch wrote:

The descent of the human race from a single pair, and the fall of those first created, are, moreover, elements in all the ancient traditions. . . The point of comparison is only the sinner’s dread of the light, which becomes prominent as the prototype for every succeeding age in Adam’s hiding himself.[3]

Then, Hosea 6:7 says, “But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; there they have dealt treacherously against Me.” In my work on the Federal Vision, I dealt fully with the question of whether the reference in this verse is to man in general, ‘like men’, or to Adam, specifically. All the evidence, in my opinion, is that Adam is intended—Adam the federal head of the whole human race who fell into sin. Among those who interpret Hosea 6:7 as referring to Adam specifically and not to men in general are: Francis Turretin, Jerome, Martin Luther, Herman Bavinck, James Orr, Gustav Oehler, James Henley Thornwell, C. F. Keil, Francis Delitzsch, Jonathan Edwards, Herman Witsius, A. A. Hodge, John Colquhoun, and B. B. Warfield. Warfield has an in-depth analysis of Hosea 6:7 and concludes that ‘like Adam’ is the best translation. I agree. I am also aware that the great Frenchman, John Calvin, thought that interpreting that verse in terms of Adam was ‘vapid’. As a Calvinist, I do not have to agree with Calvin on every point to be considered a good Calvinist. Yet, interpreting Hosea 6:7 in terms of Adam falls in line with the theological system of the Westminster Assembly as that body believed that in the period before the fall Adam and Eve were under a covenant of works.

1 Corinthians 15:45 also compares and contrasts the first Adam and the last Adam. That verse and the context make it clear, once again, that Paul considered Adam to be the very first man and our first federal head. In 1 Timothy 2:13-15, Paul teaches that Adam was created before Eve, but Eve fell into sin before Adam. The historical reality of their existence as our first parents is underscored. Finally, Paul made a veiled reference to Adam in his speech to the Athenians at Mars Hill by proclaiming that the Lord “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts 17:26). That one man was Adam, the father of the whole human race. All men and every race are intrinsically united with one another through their common father.

There are some who would argue that a person can hold to theistic evolution in one form or another without it affecting his theological soundness. I would agree that there are many people who are inconsistent in their views and hold to positions that are contradictory of one another. That is certainly true with respect to individuals. There are people whose faith is sounder than their understanding of the faith and who are only slightly damaged by the inconsistencies of their wrong positions. Yet, the reality is that the denial of the Genesis account of creation has had devastating consequences for the church. Such latitudinarianism concerning Genesis has caused great damage for the church as a whole. That is one great argument against such evolutionary approaches to the Scripture.  

Thus, if we deny the historical account of the creation of Adam and Eve as our first parents, these books of Scripture are impeached as giving false or unreliable testimony: Genesis, 1 Chronicles, Job, Hosea, Luke, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, and Jude. These doctrines of Scripture are also affected: sin, death and eternal punishment, redemption in Christ, justification by faith alone, and eternal life. Denying the Genesis account of creation has a long train of collateral damage.

Dewey Roberts, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Destin, FL You may send donations for Vanguard Presbytery to: PO Box 1862, Destin, FL 32540             

[1] Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1968), 28.

[2] John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, in Two Volumes, Volume I (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1965), 181.

[3] F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes, Volume IV, Job (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Williams B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1982), 194.  

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