Following The Evidence #92

Paul’s comparison of Adam with Christ In Romans 5, as noted yesterday, is very significant for discerning Paul’s use of Genesis, because Paul is not simply comparing Adam to Christ, but rather the effects of Adam’s actions on the human race with the effects of Christ’s action. Paul is arguing that these two individuals acted in ways that affected all who came after them—Adam’s sin affects all who are descended from him, and Christ’s obedience affects all who believe in Him. But only historical people and historical actions can have real world consequences. A mythical Adam whose disobedience is only an allegory for human sinfulness cannot be a type of Christ. In Romans 8, Paul teaches that not only humanity, but all of creation has been subjected to futility because of man’s sin and awaits liberation from its bondage to decay (19–22).

The letters to the Corinthian church are good examples of how Paul used Scripture when he was writing to Gentile churches. It is no surprise that Paul refers back to the created order many times. The Corinthian believers are to refrain from sexual immorality because it is improper to join part of the body of Christ to a prostitute (1 Corinthians 6:12–20). His sole reference to Scripture in support of his argument is a quote of Genesis 2:24.
But without a doubt, Paul’s most important use of Genesis is in 1 Corinthians 15:20-24, 45-50, where Paul defends the physical resurrection of the dead. His argument, much like his argument in Romans 5:12–21, is that Adam and Christ constitute two heads of humanity. Death came because of Adam’s sin, but the resurrection came through Christ. Because believers are under Christ, believers will also rise. And because Christ rose as a man, we can be sure that our resurrection will be like His; it wasn’t a different sort of resurrection because of His deity. Again, the state of humanity is said to stem from the historical actions of actual people which actually affect those who come after them. Paul is using this sort of argument to defend one of the cardinal dogmas of the Christian faith, the resurrection, without which Paul says we are without hope!

All of Paul’s other letters are sprinkled with references to Genesis; and the vast majority are to the reality of Creation and God as the Creator. This is reiterated in all sorts of contexts, with practical bearing on how the Church conducts itself. The book of the Hebrews (most likely a sermon preached by Paul prior to his second imprisonment) is addressed to Jewish Christians who are facing social pressure to renounce their faith and return to Judaism. The view is that trading Christ for social acceptance has disastrous eternal consequences. It is not surprising that the author refers to the Old Testament scriptures that the Jewish Christians would know well; (only Luke’s Gospel has more references to Genesis, and no New Testament book has more references to Genesis 1–11.)

Hebrews 11 lists Abel, Enoch, and Noah, from Genesis 1–11, as heroes of the faith without distinguishing them as less historical than the other members of the list. Just like Luke 3, the author moves seamlessly from Genesis 1–11 to the rest of the Bible, without the slightest hint, ‘now we are moving from allegory or myth to history.’In Hebrews 4 the rest that the persevering believer enters is compared to God’s rest on Day 7 as well as the rest that was promised to the Hebrews coming out of Egypt.

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