A Living Soul or a Life-Giving Spirit?
“So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” 1 Corinthians 15:45 (NAS)
The Scripture is arranged and written so as to communicate as much information as possible through analogy, metaphor, illustration, parables, comparisons and contrasts. The apostle Paul, as he was moved to pen the latter part of this first letter to the Corinthian church, uses contrast to convey effectively the superiority of what the believer has received in the spiritual realm through God’s perfected plan in the resurrection of Christ Jesus.
Adam, a living soul
In making the comparison between Adam and Jesus, Paul references the origin of mankind through Adam as found in Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” It appears it’s a literal word for word quote of the Septuagint translation of Genesis 2:7 with the exception being that the inspired apostle added a few words- “the first” and “Adam.”
There were similarities and differences in the creation of man in comparison to the animals.
The name given this first male human being is Adam, as we see it in our English translations. Really, it’s a transliteration (much like “baptism” is in the Greek) of the Hebrew word ’adam, a word closely related to the Hebrew ‘adhamah, which means ground. Like the animals that appear to have been brought forth from the ground, so the same is true of man. Once the fall in the garden took place, man was now subject to the same end result of the animal kingdom, to return to the ground (from dust to dust) upon their death (Gen. 3:19).
The similarities essentially end there. The differences are outlined in the uniqueness of man in comparison to the animals. God’s plan was to bring forth mankind, he and she were to be made in His likeness and His image, which had nothing to do with the body of flesh. This means they had to have free will to exercise their intellect in light of moral and ethical choices, possessing a spirit, yearning to know God the Creator, Who, according to Scripture is “spirit” (John 4:24). These characteristics stand in contrast to the animal kingdom which operated off of instinct and brute force to survive. Man alone, according to the scriptural record, is said to be made living (animated), through the breath of God. It is never spoken of in reference to the animal kingdom.
Man (Adam), now a living soul and being from the ground, was “earthy” (1 Cor. 15:47). One of the first commands given to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it. After the fall and being booted from the garden, mankind’s concern was even more focused on things of the earthly realm as the Scripture and many able preachers have communicated. The ground needed to be worked to bring forth that which would sustain their physical existence and help them fulfill the command from God. The earth became a life giving source, in a sense. The best man could do was to reproduce those of like nature passing on concerns of things of the earth as each successive generation died off.
A Life-Giving Spirit
The book of Genesis though gives us insight to God’s ultimate plan as revealed in God’s promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. In this promise, according to James Smith, a Restoration Movement teacher and commentator, are the three main ingredients upon which the rest of the Bible record moves, looking to spiritual fulfillment ultimately in the last Adam (i. e. Jesus Christ). They are the promised progeny (seed), position (as God’s unique covenant people who are near and dear to Him) and the possession (of the promised land). All these promises were foreshadowed in physical earthly types of the patriarchs and the nation of Israel until the coming of Christ Jesus.
In Christ Jesus, the promise of the progeny (the seed according to Gen. 15 & Gal. 3:16-18) is fulfilled. In His being raised up ( His resurrection and ascension to heaven) by God, He is then sent to bless us (Acts 3:26), as the indwelling life-giving spirit, the Holy Spirit, that marks us as His people. This life-giving Spirit is given as a down payment and pledge declaring we belong to God as His covenant people, those He will once again redeem as His precious possession and inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14, 18). The land Abraham and the fathers were promised and desired to possess, the heavenly eternal home, we now by faith possess and confidently know will one day become sight.
Christ Jesus, who is the Creator of all things, is the Great Animator. He made Adam (man) from dust, an inanimate, dead thing into a living being. By means of conquering death through His resurrection and ascension, He is able to now reanimate the dead. Not just in the physical realm, but more importantly, the spiritual realm. He is the eternal life giving spiritual being that produces spiritual progeny attuned to their unique heavenly position as His ultimately desired covenant people intended from before the foundation of the world. That means even before Adam was formed! We, as His seed, now have the power to be life giving spirits among the dead with a selfless, rather than selfish, concern for others, just like “Dad”. We too have the great commandment. Go, be fruitful, making disciples, filling the earth, subduing the earthly prospective and supplanting it with a heavenly eternal one. Remember, that life-giving spirit dwells in you! Amen.