Death - Was Adam Created Immortal? - Excerpt

(Excerpt from Hamartiology (Notes), 2006)

God created humans as mortals.[1] Mortality was known to Adam, or else reference to it in the command would have meant nothing to him. The world is Christo-centric, not anthropo-centric or eco-centric. The statement ‘let us make man…’ must be seen in this context. God did not create humans as males and females to remain so eternally. In the divine purpose, man is created to be glorified and transformed into the image of the Son. In this sense, then human creation must be seen as real but not final. As far as the creation of the animal kingdom was concerned, it was final; however, the creation of human was not final. Adam was not the complete man. He would only be complete when mortality puts on immortality. Human creation can only find finality in Christ.

Then in what sense, death passed from Adam to all men? It means that although God created humans as mortals, that mortality was not finality. The finality would be the absorption of mortality into immortality. However, through Adam’s disobedience and choice of autonomy (physical well-being), mortality reached finality in Adam and Adam became the first mortal. Thus, it is not the tree that finalized death,[2] it was the choice to disobey God and turn to nature for fulfillment that finalized death. This is the birth of natural religion, of idolatry. Finality also means eternality. Thus, the curse of death on Adam was eternal. Following physical death, his soul was doomed to a resurrection of Godless existence.

Since the command was directly given to Adam, and God first addressed Adam as responsible for the act (‘I commanded thee’), Adam’s disobedience counts primarily here. That Eve’s eyes were not opened before Adam ate the fruit seems to point to the finality of the decision in Adam from whom she was taken.

The divine statement ‘lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever:’ (the use of also) seems to indicate that Adam and Eve had not eaten of it. Obviously, it is impossible for the tree of life to reverse the given verdict of death. ‘Forever’ thus must be taken in the sense of the possibility of prolonged life of a sinner, immune to almost all decay. There is, however, no indication that the fruit of life could render the human body indestructible[3] (as if even God could not destroy it). Long life of continuing sinfulness might have been meant here. Even if they had eaten it earlier, the death edict could not be reversed though life be prolonged; eventually, death would take its toll.

The reign of death (Rom. 5: 14) was the effect of Adamic sin. Hence, though people do not have the Law of Moses, and thus the knowledge of sin (and though they do not sin after the similitude of Adam), yet sin reigns over them through death because of Adam’s disobedience and act of unrighteousness. It is not the physicality of death that is fearsome; for all will be resurrected; rather, it is the Godlessness of a death that is condemned to the finality of banishment from the divine presence (and kingdom) that is fearsome. It is the death that misses the glory of God for which man was made. It is the death that leads to the resurrection of condemnation, of darkness, of indignation, tribulation, and anguish. The crucifixion of Christ destroyed the reign of sin through death in his flesh (Rom.8:3). Death could no longer have any effect on the Last Adam. The resurrection of Christ inaugurated the newness of life, of fellowship with God. He rose again as the Second Man to give life everlasting. To live according to flesh is to live by faith in the self and its ability to live the law of God. Man can live human laws (anthropocentric ethics by tree of knowledge). He could never live divine laws (Christocentric ethics by the Lordship of Christ and the empowering of the Spirit). To live according to the Spirit is to live by faith in the Son of God. This faith overcomes the world (the system of Godless autonomy and satanic reign).


[1] (1) If man were created immortal, death could not be predicted of him in any condition. For “immortality” implies inability to die (physically). (2) If man were created immortal, the Tree of Life would be a meaningless addition to the Garden. Perhaps, a safer proposition might be “God created humans as neither mortals nor immortals” because of the condition of non-finality. [Sep 14, 2010]
[2] Human death or Adamic death is evil only because it is a death that is not absorbed by the eternal life of Christ. Death in itself is not an evil, it is evil insofar as it fails to find a purpose. A death that lacks a purpose produces dread and anxiety, but hope in Christ produces joy.
[3] Indestructibility will be a quality of the spiritual body given to the believer on resurrection or glorification: the source, Christ (1 Cor.15:42-49). [Sept 14, 2010]

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