CHRIST: THE ANTITYPE OF ADAM

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the sufferings of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." – Heb. ii. 9.

Our excellent brother, Elder David W. Patman, of Georgia, has made some very appropriate remarks on the above text, and in his conclusion expressed a desire to hear from us on the same subject. We have not the vanity to presume that we can improve upon what he has written on the subject, but feeling a desire to gratify him, we will attempt to offer a few remarks, in perfect harmony with what he has said. In this connection the inspired writer of the epistle shows that all the knowledge that mortals ever had, or ever can have, of the things of the eternal Spirit, is by revelation from God. God spake to the patriarchs and their children, under the old dispensation, by the prophets. The prophets spake as they were inspired by the Holy Ghost; and Peter says, The Spirit of Christ in them did signify the suffering he was to endure, and the glory which should follow. The same God who spake to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by his Son. The whole fullness of the eternal Godhead being identified with and comprehended in Christ, the revelations of the Son are essentially the same, as to their emanation, as those which were made by the prophets. That is, they all came from God. But the apostle shows that there is a peculiar dignity attached to the communications made to us by the Son of God, on account of the superior greatness of the Son. The wide disparity between the prophets, or even the angels of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, is clearly set forth as a reason why we should give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard from him, than to the words spoken by angels, &c. Christ, who is absolutely God, as well as man, and Mediator between God and men, is worthy of more profound reverence, when speaking to us personally, than the angels, or prophets, by whose mouths God has been pleased to speak to the fathers.

In setting forth more clearly the supreme glory of the Mediatorial office of the Son of God, among other strong arguments, allusion is made to Adam, as the figure of him that was to come. Particularly in that dignity which the Creator bestowed on Adam, in setting him over the works of his hands, giving him dominion over the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the deep. In all this Adam was crowned with glory and honor, as the type of Christ. But man this being in honor, did not therein abide, and we see not all things put under him. But while we may now look in vain for that honor of Adam's primeval state, we are in the gospel presented with the glorious antitype, in whom all that was said of Adam's dignity is fully realized in its spiritual and prophetic allusion to the second Adam, which is the Lord from heaven.

"But we see Jesus." Who sees him? Not everybody; for this epistle was not written to everybody. It is addressed to "Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling," &c. None can see Jesus, especially in his exaltation and crowned with power and glory, unless they are taught of God. Paul says, When it pleased God, &c., to reveal his Son in me. Again, God who commanded the light out shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. John says, He was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. These are the only descriptions of characters to whom the address is made, or to whom these words apply.

"Who was made a little lower than the angels." Those unto whom a revelation of Christ is made, have a view of him in his glory, and in his humiliation. He is revealed to their faith as the Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace, and to them he is also made known as the man of sorrows, who was acquainted with grief. They see him, according to chapter first, and verse third, as the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person; as the Word that was with God, and the Word that was God. They see him made a little lower than the angels, by his incarnation; for the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. He whose glory had filled the heavens from everlasting, was made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law. "He took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham." And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

But why this humiliation?

"For the suffering of death." The assumption of the nature of angels would not have brought him under the law that his people had transgressed; it was necessary that he should take part of the same flesh and blood, in which his children had transgressed the law, that he might be legally identified with them in their law state. Hence it is written, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death," &c. As the great object of his incarnation was to redeem his people, by doing and suffering all that the law required; he was made lower than the angels. This by no means implies that the glory of his eternal Deity, or his ancient Mediatorial glory, which he had with the Father before the world began, had depreciated in the smallest degree; for though in his humiliation he was found in fashion as a man, and humbled himself and learned obedience, and became obedient even unto death, and that the ignominious death of the cross, was made sin for us who knew no sin, and was even made a curse for us. As it is written, "Cursed in every one that hangeth upon a tree"; yet at the same time he thought it not robbery to be equal with God, and was acknowledged by the Father in that equality, even in issuing his death-warrant, if so we may speak, "Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts." While hanging on his cross, all heaven glowed with the radiance of his unfading glory.

"Crowned with glory and honor." In his incarnation he was recognized by the law, by divine justice, by the eternal Father, and by all the shining hosts of heaven, as the Son of God. The darkened skies, the quaking earth, the rending rocks, the opening graves and the raising dead, together with the sundered veil of the temple, proclaimed in the most emphatic language, This was the Son of God! He was crowned as the antitype of Adam, with glory and honor; for all power in heaven and in earth was vested in him; and by virtue of his coronation, he hath power to lay down his life, and to take it up again. But in his suffering of death he is crowned with the glory and honor of complete success; the full accomplishment of all that was designed to be affected, his people completely redeemed, and by his one suffering perfected forever. A deathless victory was achieved over sin, death and hell, and all his enemies were vanquished forever.

"That he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." It was only by the grace of God that a vicarious sacrifice could be admitted for the redemption of the people of God; that grace had reigned in righteousness in the counsel of eternity; in the election of grace; in the predestination of his members to salvation through him; in the love which the Father has bestowed on them, that hey should be called the sons of God, and heirs of immortality. Not by the merits or the works of men, but by the Grace of God, did he taste death for every man. That is, as explained in the next verse, "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons into glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." To him was committed the work of redeeming many sons, and of bringing them to glory. In order to accomplish this he must of necessity taste death for them all. If one of them had been missed, and left to work his way from under the guilt of sin and the curse of the law, to glory, that one would have been lost forever, and the family of God could never have been complete. But it was the will of the Father, That of all he had given him, he should lose nothing, but raise them up at the last day; and it was the will of the Son, That all that the Father had given him should be with him, and see his glory, which he had with the Father before the world began.

Middletown, N.Y.
Jan. 1, 1855

Elder Gilbert Beebe