"Headship of Adam" Page 2 of 2 (series: Lessons on Romans)
by John Lowe
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam. God had clearly instructed Adam of what to do, and what not to do. He commanded Adam to eat of all the trees in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said, “For in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die” (Gen2:15-17). Adam ate the forbidden fruit; he transgressed God’s command, God’s Law—and he reaped the penalty…he died. He died spiritually the moment he ate; he was cut off for the time being from fellowship with God. Eventually, he died physically. If Adam had not sinned, he would be alive today. Adam’s descendants lived and multiplied through the centuries from Adam to Moses…and even though they were not under Law, they died. This shows that the descendants of Adam died because they had all sinned against the Law of God in the act of Adam while they were still in his loins—“who is the figure of the one to come.”Death did not take a holiday during the age when there was no law. With the single exception of Enoch, death held sway over all mankind. You could not say that these people died because they had transgressed a clear command of God, as Adam did. And they didn’t die because of their sinful acts against the Mosaic Law (which they did not yet have). Why then did they die? The answer is implied: they died because they had sinned in Adam, that is, they died because of their own inherited sinful nature. If this seems unfair, remember that this has nothing to do with salvation. All those who put their faith in the Lord were saved eternally. But they died physically just the same, and the reason they died was because of the sin of their head, Adam. In his role as representing mankind, Adam was a type (symbol) of Him who was to come—that is, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the succeeding verses Paul will develop the subject of these two heads—Adam and Christ—but more by contrast than by similarities. He will show that:
In Christ the sons of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.
Who is a type of Him who was to come. Here Adam is contrasted with Christ and he is said to be a “type” of Him that was to come. The only Old Testament character to be called explicitly a type of Christ is Adam. It’s here the contrast between the first Adam and the Last Adam begins.
Death reigned. The word death is used in a threefold way in scripture.
1. Physical death—refers only to the body, and it means a separation of the spirit from the body. This death comes to man because of Adam’s sin.
2. Spiritual death—is separation from and rebellion against God. And we inherit this nature from Adam. We are alienated from God and we are dead in trespasses and sins: And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph . 2:1;NKJV). That is the picture that Scripture presents.
3. Eternal death—is eternal separation from God. And, unless man is redeemed, eternal death eventually follows: "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Rev. 21:8; NKJV).