1 Corinthians 15:45-50
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.…
1. St. Paul bases his assertion that "if there is a psychical body, there is also a spiritual," first, on the analogies of Nature; second, on the nature of Man as revealed in Holy Writ (see ver. 44); third, on the historical facts that Adam had the one and Christ the other.
2. Note, however, some interesting preliminaries. The opening clause of the text is almost an exact quotation from Genesis 2:7; that the second refers to Christ is proved by these two facts: that with the rabbis, at whose feet Paul sat, "the last Adam" was a common name for "the Messiah"; and that St. Paul never uses the designations the second Man," or "the last Adam," of any one but Christ. Again the rabbis bid us note that Moses says, not "man was made, but became a living soul." They hold that when God breathed the breath of life into Adam, He conferred on him the higher spiritual nature of man; but that, when Adam sinned, he fell, and became a man in whom the soul ruled rather than the spirit. And the rabbis have the Scriptures on their side. What was "the fall" but a fall from the higher life of the spirit into the lower life of the soul, into a life of mere intelligence and passion as distinguished from a life of righteousness, faith, love, joy, peace? Why was he debarred from "the tree of life" but because that it was no longer meet that his body should put on incorruption and immortality?
I. THE FIRST MAN ADAM BECAME A LIVING SOUL.
1. The psychical or soulish man is a man in whom the soul is supreme. Conscience, righteousness, faith, God, etc., do not stand first with him; but man, time, earth, the gratifications of sense and intellect. Was not Adam a man of this type? When the spiritual crisis came his faith failed him. God was not first with him, nor God's will.
2. A soulish man he came to have a soulish body. Indications of this are seen in —
(1) Adam's newborn shame of his nakedness.
(2) The passion which made Cain a murderer.
(3) The infirmities, the special forms of death and corruption, to which Adam and his children became liable.Nevertheless, as our own experience proves, the body, even when thus changed and depraved, was nevertheless perfect in its adaptation to the faculties, functions, cravings, needs of the soul.
II. CHRIST, THE LAST ADAM, WAS A LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT.
1. He was the true spiritual Man; for in Him all faculties and passions of the soul were in subjection to the spirit. To Him, living and walking in the spirit, all that is of earth and time and soul was as nothing when compared with the eternal realities. And therefore He could refuse all the kingdoms of this world, and could hasten to help any man, however lowly, however earthly, and seek to quicken in him, by help to the body, the life of the spirit. Of a charity so intense that He loved every man, of a faith so clear and strong that He looked through all the shows of time to the eternal substance, of a hope so lively that He despaired of no man, of a righteousness so pure that even the practised eyes of incarnate evil could find nothing in Him, of a peace so perfect that even His unparalleled labour and conflict could not impair it; in heaven even while He was on earth; making His Father's will His daily food, He stands before us the one true spiritual Man.
2. So also the last Adam teaches us what the spiritual body is.
(1) He had a body like to ours, yet not altogether the same as ours. Conceived of a Virgin by the Holy Ghost, Christ took our flesh as Adam took it, from the hands of God, immaculate; receiving a physical body which might change and rise into "a spiritual body" without passing, as our bodies must, through the purifications of corruption. We die perforce. But He "laid down" His life. He saw no corruption. It was not possible that He should be holden of death.
(a) And therefore we see signs of the spiritual body even in the body of His humiliation. Virtue went out of Him. He lived not by bread alone. He walked on the storm-tossed waves. On Mount Tabor He stood before the eyes of His amazed and dazzled disciples a spiritual man in a spiritual body.
(b) But all these signs of the spiritual m the physical region of His life were prompted by that which is of the spirit, not by that which is of the soul. It was at the touch of faith, of spiritual need and desire and trust, that virtue went out of Him. It was that He might feed the hungry, succour the distressed, or deliver the imperilled, that He exerted a supernatural control over natural laws: and He fed, succoured, delivered men that they might come to know Him, and God in Him, and thus possess themselves of eternal life. When the weak physical frame was transfigured with an immortal strength and splendour, it was because His spirit was rapt in the ecstasies of redeeming love as He talked with Moses and Elias, because He saw that the work of His redemption would be triumphantly accomplished.
(2) After His death and resurrection, the signs that He inhabits a spiritual body grow more apparent. Though He can still eat and drink, etc., He glides through closed doors, passes as in an instant from place to place, vanishes from their sight as the disciples recognise Him. At His will, He is visible or invisible: He is here. He is there; the spiritual body being now as perfect a servant of the spirit in Him as the psychical body of the soul. He can eat, but He does not need to eat. His body is raised into higher conditions, endowed with loftier powers. It is heavenly, not earthly; it is spiritual rather than physical or psychical. Conclusion: Do any ask: "But what is all this to us? Adam and Christ were both exceptional men. If the first Adam was a psychical man and the last Adam a spiritual man, how does that bear on St. Paul's argument? "It is much — nay, it is everything — to us; and that precisely because both Adam and Christ were exceptional men, who stand in an exceptional relation to the human race. For (ver. 22) both the Adam and the Christ are in us, and in all men; that they contend together in us for the mastery; that it is at our own option to side either with the one or with the other; and that, according as we espouse the first Adam or the last, we become earthly or heavenly, psychical or spiritual men. If we permit the Christ to reign in us, in our mortal members, our mortality will put on immortality — as His did, and be swallowed up of life — as His was. Like His, our spiritual manhood will demand and receive a spiritual body. And therefore St. Paul may fairly exhort us that, "as we bear the image of the earthly (man), so also we should bear the image of the heavenly."
( S. Cox, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.