Some people are especially remembered because they are the first to do something. Neil Armstrong’s name cannot be mentioned without thinking of the event for which he is most famous — the first moonwalk!
Adam is to be remembered as Adam the first! He was the first in countless different ways, but he is especially to be remembered as the first in the following ways:
He was the first embodied consciousness
He was a material person. He was the climax of the whole creative work of God. He was the image-bearer of God his maker. All the other aspects of creation led up to this point.
In some way, even the invisible creation anticipates Adam. The angels are created as ministering spirits. The heavenly tabernacle anticipates the arrival of a human priest. The whole account leads up to the creation of humankind, and there is then nothing else to be created.
He was the first king
Every domain in which there is life is placed under the dominion of Adam. The sea with all its organisms is made Adam’s kingdom. Even the mighty leviathan originally bowed before Adam.
The air with all its soaring and swooping life is given to Adam as lord of the skies. All the land of the earth with its innumerable types of creature is Adam’s. The cattle on a thousand hills were originally his!
He was the first vegetarian
He was king over a different biosphere. It is emphasised that his pristine dominion was over a world in which there were no carnivores. It is specified that this un-cursed world was quite different from the one we now know.
He was the first to receive the breath of God
By this act of God he is constituted a living being. He is so constituted that he is uniquely able to listen to the voice of God, understand it and obey joyfully. He becomes the first prophet, having the privilege to declare the truth of God to his wife and ultimately his family.
He was the first priest
Many writers have emphasised the sanctuary-like nature of the Garden of Eden. It had an eastern entrance. It was the location of the tree of life, which the branched candlestick later seems to represent. Gold and onyx stone were characteristic sanctuary materials.
The river coming from Eden seems to parallel the river coming from Zion’s temple pictured by Ezekiel. The work of Adam parallels the work of the Levites in the later sanctuary — to guard and keep.
As well as all this, Adam was the first taxonomist, the first to experience loneliness, the first to fall in love at first sight and the first man to marry.
But Adam was the first man to sin
Eve was deceived first, but Adam deliberately joined Eve in her rebellion against the command of God and deliberately chose the way of the serpent, seeking god-like status.
As a result he comes under God’s curses instead of God’s blessings.
Adam was the first to die
Adam did not die physically that day. He was not actually the first human to die physically. Was the serpent right? God warned that the result of eating would be that the day he ate ‘dying he would die’ — a process leading to physical death — a process described in Genesis 3:19 as returning to the dust.
And yet Adam was a hearer when the gospel was preached the first time
In Genesis 3:15 the role of the seed of the woman is especially emphasised. This seed and no other will crush the serpent’s head. He himself and no other will bring total victory.
This glorious prophecy is given in the context of a future birth. It is the seed of the woman (not of Adam). This kind of prophecy becomes a great pattern in the Bible, leading ultimately to the fulfilment in Bethlehem.
The woman’s seed, Jesus Christ, is the one who will stand up for humanity. He and no other will defeat the serpent finally, and all the trumpets of history will salute him!
The author is pastor of Grace Evangelical Church, Carlisle, and online and reviews editor for