Was Adam saved?

Q. Was Adam saved?

The Bible doesn’t answer this question directly, but I personally feel that the narrative in Genesis gives us some good reasons to believe that Adam was saved.

The most important is the announcement God makes that Eve’s descendant will crush the serpent’s head. Like most Christian interpreters, I see this as a statement that can be recognized, in light of later redemptive-historical developments, as a prophecy of the coming of Jesus and his victory over Satan at the cross. This “bad news” for the serpent was “good news” for Adam and Eve, and I personally believe that they trusted in it.

One significant reason why I say this is that the two of them accepted and wore the “garments from animal skins” that God made for them. Again like most Christian interpreters, because these required the death of the animals, I see them as foreshadowing the blood sacrifices that would come later under the covenant with Moses, which themselves foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. In other words, accepting the garments was a way of “looking forward” to the cross, as believers did for salvation in the First Testament (just as we, under the New Covenant, “look back” to the cross).

I personally don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to see these “garments from animal skins” in Genesis as the equivalent of the “white robes” that believers are symbolically portrayed as wearing in the book of Revelation: “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”; “The one who is victorious will be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.”

So I don’t think Adam was lost. Paul does say about him in Romans, “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” But Paul goes on to say, “If the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” In other words, the same people—the whole human race—who were affected by the sin of Adam are also recipients of grace through Jesus. And that would include Adam himself, so long as he “looked forward” to the cross—as I believe he did.

William Blake,
William Blake, “The Angel of the Divine Presence clothing Adam and Eve with coats of skins,” watercolor, 1803, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

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