The Typical Man

Throughout Scripture God reveals patterns of the way he deals with us and the rest of creation. These patterns are found in certain people as well as the contours of entire narratives. The Scriptural word for these patterns is “types.” Types are not mere examples or even literary foreshadowing (even though both of the elements are a part of biblical types). Types run deeper than existing only for the purpose of pointing to something else. Types are real people and real events in which God reveals himself saving and punishing, but they are immature forms of that which will reach their full maturity in Christ Jesus and his people. 

Being an immature form of that which is to come, types are prophetic. They look toward fulfillment, or, their antitype. The antitype is the fulfillment of the type. Peter uses this word, “antitype” in 1Peter 3.21 when speaking about the correlation between the story of God saving Noah and his family through the flood and Christian baptism. The flood was a time when God truly saved and punished Noah and the people of his day respectively, but it was an immature form of what happens in Christian baptism. God saving Noah and his family through water while destroying the wicked looked for a fulfillment. That fulfillment has come in Christian baptism, which “now saves us,” Peter says. 

All of God’s revelation is read in these terms; that is, God is setting down patterns or types that are looking toward fulfillment in Christ. The most basic of these type-antitype relationships is the correspondence between Adam and Jesus. Paul tells us in Romans 5 that Adam is “a type of the one coming” (5.14). In the creation and mission of Adam in the world, God laid down a pattern for Jesus, the one coming. Adam’s life looked toward a fulfillment. As we learn about who Adam is and what he was called to do, we understand who Jesus is and what he was called to do. 

Adam was a man, a man who was set up to have dominion over all the earth. A bride was created for him through his being ripped apart. With that bride he was to be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth with those in his image. The fulfillment of Adam is the man, Christ Jesus, who is exalted and has all authority in heaven and on earth. To him is given the kingdoms of this world. He has a bride created for him through his being ripped in half. In union with that bride he is fruitful and multiplying, filling the earth with those who are being conformed to his image (Rom 8.29). Whatever Adam was created to do, Christ Jesus came to do ... and he has done it, surpassing Adam in every way. 

Adam and Jesus are appointed by God the Father with the same position in relation to God the Father and the rest of creation: each is the head of the creation. Each has authority that effects everything and everyone in the created order. Adam used that authority to introduce sin into the world and death through sin (Rom 5.12). Christ came in, not to a new pristine creation as did the first Adam, but to a creation decimated by Adam’s sin. He had the mission of Adam but not the conditions of Adam. Jesus had to save the world from Adam’s sin and then take it to where God intended man to take it. In order to do this, he would have to conquer sin and the death that it brings. This is what God has done in Christ.

The mission of the last Adam, Jesus, did not circumvent sin-and-death. He did not find a way around it so that it would stand as a constant enemy for his people to play defense against. He took the sin-and-death of Adam and used it against itself, stripping it of all of its power. The last Adam used the failure and effects of sin of the first Adam for the redemption of humanity and the rest of creation. It is for this reason that Paul can say, “where sin abounded, grace super-abounded” (Rom 5.20). Grace in the last Adam is much more powerful than the sin-and-death of the first Adam. 

It is for this reason, believer, that you do not have to live under the guilt, shame, and power of sin. The last Adam has conquered all that the first Adam left in his wake. Do you carry around the guilt of sin? Grace is greater than your sin. You are forgiven, justified in the last Adam. He took your sin so that you can stand vindicated before the judgment seat. Do you feel shame? The last Adam died naked, taking your shame in the first Adam, so that you stand clothed and unafraid before God. Do you live as if there is no escape from bondage to your sin? The last Adam has broken the power of sin. You are “under grace” (Rom 6.14), and where sin abounds, grace in Christ Jesus super-abounds. 

Rest in the last Adam and be free.