Adam in the New Testament: Echoes of Eden and the Temple — John W. Welch

Verbal Echoes of Genesis 1-3 in the New Testament

Ordinary words; distinctive words; quoted words; Temple-related words.  There are many words in the Greek New Testament that seem to have been deliberately given preference (over other alternatives) to emphasize a relationship to the Temple.


–”Serpent” lifted up in John 3

John 15 – the “true vine” is a manifestation of Tree of Life

–Many verbal connections – 40 verbal echoes of Genesis in NT

–Adam’s rib — Jesus’ side = birth of faith for disciples

–Jesus is the way – the way back to Eden

–Jesus is the “icon” of God

–Jesus breathes upon the disciples and they receive the Holy Ghost

–Dust of tabernacle mingled with bitter water — in Septuagint it is “living waters”

Compilers of Bible didn’t make these connections explicitly, but write with the understanding that their listeners would be familiar with these temple themes.

Temple-Thematic Allusions to Adam

Eden and the Temple are very closely related. The Garden of Eden in Genesis is portrayed as a holy sanctuary.

Jubilees 3:26-27 — Adam offered incense on altar – a high priestly duty

The writers of the NT understood Eden and Adam in this temple context.

Good Samaratin – man comes down from holy place and falls among evil men – is revived by a redeemer

Parable of two sons serving in vineyard – one says he will do will of Father, other says “I” but does not go

See in OT: Psalm 82:7; Hosea 6:7; Job 31:33; Ezek. 28:11–19

In NT: John 8:58 “before Abraham.” Luke 10:18, 30.

Adam as a “Son of God” (Luke 3:38)

NT has positive view of Adam

Luke 3: 38 – Adam is son of God – Adam and Jesus are a pair

–Son of God is a title of kingship – Adam and Jesus are both kings

–Adam was to rule over all – NT claims this for Jesus

Son of Man –- according to Marvin Sweeney – Priest serving in temple is supposed to represent Adam, so Ben Adam (Son of Man) is an appropriate title

The Marriage of Adam and Eve (Matt. 19:3–9)

Matt. 19Gen. 2:24 — God joins man and woman in marriage — Adam is a married high priest – Malachi 2:10, 15 – wife of covenant (covenant marriage).

–Obligation of husband towards wife

–“cleave” – assumes covenantal loyalty

–”one in flesh” –establishment of new family unit — What God has joined together as one flesh

–”bone of my bone”  –2 Sam 5 – this is a covenantal formula — woman to be treated as part of man’s own body in covenant – “neither is man without woman and woman without man in the Lord”

Jubilees – Eden is the pinnacle of holiness – Adam serves as high priest there

– According to tradition, the high priest had to be married — Lev. 21:15 — marriage to a young virgin

–see also Ben Sira 49:15 – 50:1

–The high priest was required to atone for himself and his family — there is a tradition that there was a “standby wife” in case the high priest’s wife dies before the Day of Atonement — it was essential that he have a wife

Jesus was a high priest – Hebrews

Salvation through Childbearing and as a Righteous Couple (1 Tim. 2:13–15)

1 Tim. 2:13–15 – “she shall be saved through (dia) childbearing, if they (plural) continue in righteousness”

Gen. 5:2 – man and woman together is Adam – rabbis said that he who is without a wife is not a complete person

–The couple as a complete “Adam”: 1 Cor. 11:11; Eph. 5:33; 1 Pet. 3:1–7

–parable of the wedding banquet — Christ as the bridegroom

Overcoming Physical Death through Christ (1 Cor. 15:20–23, 44–49)

1 Cor. 15:20–23 — all must die in order to be awakened to eternal life –-Gen. 3:17–19 —World to come is a return to that which existed before – return to the Temple

Paul’s chiastic and expansive use of Gen 2:7 (divine breath of life, pnoen zoes; mortal living soul, psychen zosan) — becomes: “The first man Adam was made a living soul (psychen zosa); the last Adam was made a quickening spirit (pneuma zoiopoioun).”

Where did Paul get idea of first and last Adam? Philo? Hellenistic Judaims? Stephen Molton argues that the resurrected Lord is still in the image of God- Power of last Adam to affect all mankind – opened temple to all people

Adam as an Archetype of Christ (Rom 5:14)

–Adam is archetype of Christ (Rom 5:14) – he is much more than the antitype – he is also the type. Parallels between the lives of Adam and the Son of Man echoed in the NT.

–Jesus is the gardener as Adam was ; both tempted by Satan ; both ate angels’ food; Adam’s body buried with incense; Eve saw Adam ascend to heaven; expulsion of Satan

–Compare Rom 5 to Hebrews — comparison of Adam and Jesus as high priest

–Without a temple theology, these connections do not make much sense

–In baptism we are stripped of garments given to adam and eve and given garments of glorious resurrection

The “Two Adams” window in the Cathedral of St. John in Lyon, France

Church is the assembly of the firstborns

Overcoming Sin through Christ (Rom 5:12–21)

Story of Adam and Eve is not a story of the origin of sin but process of becoming like God. Not inherited original sin, but sinfulness acquired by an evil course of life.

Corresponding one-to-one instances of grace, justification, and obedience.

The Restoration of All Things (Acts 3:21)

In baptism — clothing, death, resurrection (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3–4; 1 Cor. 15:53)

In community — unity, knowledge, perfect man, fullness (Eph 4:14)

In God’s image — form, likeness, glory, perfection (Phil. 2:5-6; 3:21)

Adam and Jesus serve as book ends – in the plan of salvation – we must be born in the physical and spiritual image of God.


These notes from Jack Welch’s presentation are based on his handout and my own notes taken from his presentation. Please note that my posting of these notes from the Temple Studies Symposium is not necessarily done in the order that the speakers presented. Also, as I will be out of town the next few days and have no computer access, it may be a while before I can post the rest of my notes. My apologies! David Larsen

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