In Adam All Die

Doctrine of: Adam The Federal Head of All Mankind

There is a biblical doctrine referred to as the "doctrine of federal head-ship." This doctrine teaches that when Adam was in the garden of Eden and was given the "covenant of the law of sin and death" that he represented not just himself in that covenant, but stood as the covenant representative of all mankind. Thus the effects of breaking that covenant applied not just to himself, but also to all that he represented. The covenant of the law of sin and death is stated in Gen. 2;16, 17 as follows: "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 thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The "doctrine of federal head-ship" is alluded to in 1 Cor. 15:22, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." From this, of course, we gather that all that were in Adam, die. Just as we gather that all that are in Christ are made alive. The most comprehensive teaching on the "doctrine of federal head-ship" is found in Rom. 5:12-19.

Rom. 5:12 reads, "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." Paul wrote this nearly two thousand years ago, long before any of us existed except in the mind and purpose of God. Thus none of us alive today had ever personally sinned when Paul wrote this epistle. Yet Paul affirms that death passed upon all mankind for that all mankind had sinned. Since we had not personally sinned, then how had we sinned? The answer is "we sinned in Adam" as we were seminally in Adam and Adam was our representative before God. Thus when the sentence of death passed upon Adam as a result of his sin, that same sentence of death passed upon us.

Rom. 5:13, 14 reads, "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." Simply stated the above teaches us that God does not impute sin to us when there is no law. A law must be given in order to have sin imputed against us. From Adam to Moses no additional law, besides the "law of sin and death," had been given to mankind. Furthermore, God had driven man from the garden and fixed it so that man couldn't return to the garden. Thus none of the subsequent offspring of Adam could return unto the garden and eat of the forbidden fruit. They could not sin after the similitude of Adam's transgression. Notwithstanding, death reigned over all mankind from Adam to Moses even though they had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression and even though no other law had been given by which sin could be imputed to them. What caused this reign of death? Though they had not personally sinned, yet they sinned in Adam, as he represented them in the garden of Eden.

Next, Rom. 5:15 teaches us that by the offence of Adam, the many in Adam are dead. Furthermore, in Rom. 5:16, we are taught that God's judgment was, as a result of Adam's transgression, to condemn all mankind. Again in Rom. 5:17 we are taught that as a result of Adam's offence death reigns over us. Rom. 5:18 reads, "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation...". Finally, verse 19 says in parts, "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners..."

The results of all this can be summarized as follows:

  1. Adam represented all mankind in the garden.

  2. When Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, because he represented us, it was as though all mankind had eaten of the forbidden fruit.

  3. God's sentence of death upon Adam because of sin was also a sentence of death upon all mankind because of the sin of Adam.

  4. Death in all its aspects not only reigned over Adam, it reigned over all mankind which were seminally in Adam and sinned in Adam.

  5. When Adam transgressed, his nature fell to a sin-cursed state. We were made sinners because of Adam's disobedience and our nature is the same as Adam's sin-cursed nature.

The bible says, "The wages of sin is death..." God told Adam " the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The marginal reading for "die" is "dying thou shalt die." This indicates an immediate death followed by a later death. Thus we know the bible teaches more than one kind of death.

The scriptures teach at least five deaths. These deaths are:

  1. Death of the body or corporeal death.

  2. Death in trespasses and sins.

  3. Death to fellowship.

  4. The second death or eternal death.

  5. Death to sin.

Beginning with Adam sin began to work in the lives of every man to bring forth the death of the body. These corruptible, mortal bodies are headed to the grave as God told Adam, "for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Second, to be dead in trespasses and sins speaks of the state or condition of our carnal nature. This death is characterized as rendering us incapable of fearing God (Rom. 3:18), of seeking God (Rom. 3:11), of understanding the things of the Spirit of God (Rom. 3:11; 1 Cor. 2:14), of knowing the way of peace (Rom. 3:17). Under this death we only seek after the world (Eph. 2:2), the spirit of Satan (Eph. 2:2), and to satisfy fleshly lust (Eph. 2:3). Furthermore our carnal mind is enmity with God (Rom. 8:7) and we cannot please God (Rom. 8:8). All of our works are verily wickedness (Gal. 5:19-21). David described this death as beginning at conception in Psalms 51:5, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me." Furthermore, he said we begin to portray this sin-cursed death nature at birth as stated in Psalms 58:3, "The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies." Under the law of sin and death according to David we will not even think about God, Psalms 10:4, "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. In addition, a person dead in trespasses and sins is incapable of delivering himself from that condition. The prophet Jeremiah illustrated this truth through question and answer in Jere. 13:23: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil." Paul described us under the law of sin and death in Rom. 5:6-10 as being "without strength," "ungodly," "sinners," and "enemies of God."

The third death is "death to fellowship." The story of the prodigal son in Lk. 15:11-32 illustrates this death. When the prodigal had left his father's house to go waste his substance with riotous living and then later returned, the father described this son thusly, "For this my son was dead, and is alive again..." Likewise he said to his other son, "For this thy brother was dead, and is alive again..." Please notice that the prodigal when wasting his substance with riotous living did not lose his relationship to his father or brother, but he lost his fellowship to them. He was dead to their fellowship. Paul, also describes this death to fellowship in 1 Tim. 5:6, "But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." I guess we could safely call her a living "dead" person. I wander how many of God's people are dead to the fellowship of God and to the fellowship of the saints as a result of seeking worldly pleasures?

The fourth death we will consider is called in Rev. 20:14, the "second death." This is God's eternal punishment for sin. Those who suffer the "second death" are "cast into the lake of fire" to suffer the eternal vengeance of God. They are described in Rev. 20:12 as being "the dead, small and great" and they are "judged every man according to their works." Verse 15 tells us, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Paul describes these in II Thes. 1:7-9 thusly, "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

Finally, there is a good death taught in God's word. Rom. 6:2 asks us, "How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" What does it mean to be "dead to sin?" It means to be dead to the condemning affects of sin and to be dead to the bondage of the law of sin and death. Heb. 2:14 speaks of Christ thusly, "Forasmuch 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 of their lifetime subject to bondage." When Jesus died on the cross for us he delivered us from the wrathful judgment of God (second death) and when he arose the third day he established our hope in the resurrection of our mortal bodies. Also in Rom. 8:2, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. This is in harmony with Eph. 2:1 which states, "You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins." Likewise the Lord said in John 5:25, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the son of God and they that hear shall live." When Christ speaks to us in that still small voice giving us spiritual life we become "dead to" the condemning effects of sin and its bondage over us. We now, in spirit, fear God, seek after Him, understand spiritual things, believe that he is, bear good fruit, seek to please him, etc. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.

 Elder Vernon Johnson