Brother Beebe: If it not asking too much, I would like to have your views on Romans 5:14, especially on this part of the verse: “Even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” I very well know that you are troubled much in this manner, and if it is not entirely agreeable, pass it by, and all will be right. I am very desirous to have your views on this Scripture, because it has given me much thought and trouble. May the good Lord spare your life many years yet, and enable you us the future to proclaim his truth, unbiased by any earthly consideration, as you have in the past.
Your brother, if a brother at all.
Isaac W. Kelly
July 11, 1869.
Reply: In the transgression of Adam, we have a very instructing similitude; for the apostle says, he “is the figure of him that was to come.” That is, of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, answering to that similitude, or figure, is called the second, or anti-typical, Adam. Not only in the similitude of his transgression, but, as the apostle has clearly shown, as the seminal head and progenitor of a posterity. The figure being natural, but the anti-type spiritual; the figure is of the earth, earthy; the anti-type, the Lord from heaven. So that the earthly Adam is emphatically “the figure of him that was to come.” Of this most grand and sublime figure, we need only now to speak of the similitude of Adam’s transgression, or the analogy which Adam’s transgression bears to that which it was designed to prefigure and represent.
The guilt of Adam’s transgression came from the devil. The serpent beguiled Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden on pain of death. She ate, and thus stood the case. She must die, and in death be forever separated from Adam, as she had no power to return to that state of innocence in which she had with him. But one way was possible for the perpetuation of their unity and identity. He had power to assume her guilt, and take on him her transgression, by receiving the forbidden fruit at her hand, and assuming the penalty of the violated law of God, as she was truly the bone of his bones, and the flesh of his flesh. They twain were one flesh, and by the purpose and decree of God, identified in an indissoluble union. “The woman whom thou gayest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Genesis 3:12. Thus Adam, in following his bride into the transgression, coming under the condemnation and penalty of the law that she had transgressed, is the figure of him that was to come. Although Adam had no redeeming power to expiate sin, or to deliver himself or bride, or to put forth his hand and help himself to the fruit of the tree of life, yet, his complicity with Eve, following her under the law, and his assumption of the transgression, was at least a very striking similitude.
It is not true that Adam lost the image, or ceased to be the figure of him that was to come, when he received at the hand of the bride the fruit of the tree, and did eat of it; for it is written, “And the Lord God said, Behold the man has become as one of us.” Genesis 3:22. God did not say, Behold the man has lost the image; for there was in the very transgression of Adam, a similitude, indispensably necessary to complete the figure. And the inspired apostle applies this similitude throughout this fifth chapter to the Romans.
If then Adam is the figure of Christ, as the apostle says he is, (not was) then his bride, created in him, is a figure of the church, which is the bride, the Lamb’s wife. Paul has thus testified. “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” I Timothy 2:13,14. Let us apply the similitude. Christ, the Second Adam and the Lord from heaven, “is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:17. Eve was created in Adam. And of the church it is said, “For we are his [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:10. “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” I Timothy 2:13. Of Christ it is said, “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the Head of the body, the church, who is the Beginning, the first born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.” Colossians 1:17,18. “Adam was not deceived.” When Christ came into the world, “He saith, Lo, I come, [in the volume of the book it is written of me] to do thy will, O God.” Hebrews 10:7.
Adam followed his bride into the transgression; and, “He [Christ] was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” II Corinthians 5:21. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6. The words of Adam, which we have repeated, are also applicable to Christ. “The woman [church] which thou gayest to be with me, she gave me, and I did eat.”
When Eve existed in Adam before her formation, Adam loved her, for “no man ever hateth his own flesh.” When she was formed and stood in primeval innocence at his side, he loved her; when she was beguiled by Satan and came under the sentence of the divine law, which forbid her return to him, still he loved her, and rather than endure a separation he gave himself for her. So we understand the church as created and chosen in Christ, was the object of his eternal and immutable love. And when he saw her ruined in the fall, he loved her, notwithstanding all. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with him.” Ephesians 2:4. And, “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, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:14,15. In taking part of the same flesh and blood, he was made of a woman, and made under the very law which his children had transgressed, to redeem them from under the law, that they might receive the adoption of children. The first Adam could not redeem his bride from her transgression, but as the figure of him that was to come, he could and did receive the consequence of her transgression, even as Christ received and bore in his body the sins of his people.
Thus we see in the transgression of Adam a similitude, and as the text reads, he is the figure of him that was to come.
Again, by closely observing the context we find the apostle discoursing on the subject of the divine law. From Adam to Moses we read of no law in preceptive form being given to the children of Adam; and Paul says, Sin is not imputed where there is no law. Yet until the law, or prior to the law by Moses, sin was in the world; and this is proved from the fact that death reigned during that period. As Adam’s transgression was by direct disobedience to a special command or precept of God, those of his posterity which were under the reign of death did not sin after the similitude of his transgression, which proves that they were involved in his sin; for the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. Therefore, although they had not sinned after the manner or similitude of Adam’s sinning, yet, as they had sinned in him when he sinned, the reign of death was upon them, or they could not have died. The law which was given to the Hebrews was not to give mankind a new trial or probation, for the reign of death could not be annulled but by that atonement by Christ of which the apostle is speaking. “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound.” The entrance of the law by Moses did not occasion the offence, but made it manifest; for the offence existed before the giving of the law. But still the law being holy, just and good, was a detector, or exposer, of sin which already existed in the human race. We do not understand that there were any, from Adam to Moses, that sinned after the similitude of his transgression, either in viewing that similitude as referring to him as the figure of Christ, nor in that similitude, in its application to the manner of his transgression of a direct precept. In the space intervening from Adam to Moses, many died in infancy and in maturer life, who had not sinned by any direct transgression of, or want of obedience to any precept, prohibition or command, as did Adam, and therefore not after the likeness or similitude of his transgression; thus demonstrating that they had sinned in him, as their seminal head, and were consequently under the reign of death.
In replying to brother Kelley, we have taken a wider range, and made this article more lengthy than we had intended.
September 1, 1869.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 479 – 482