Part 1 – Where Did We Come From?
CHAPTER 2 – THE PRINCIPLE OF HEADSHIP: IN CHRIST OR IN ADAM
JESUS – GOD’S PERFECT SACRIFICE FOR SIN
In order to see that Jesus Christ’s death was the only death that was sufficient, we can read in Hebrews 9:11,12,
…Christ…by his own blood…entered in once into the holy place (in heaven), having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Also in Hebrews 9:26, it states,
…Now once, in the end of the ages, hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Verse 28 says,
…Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many…
Hebrews 10:5,7 says,
…Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me…
Then said I, Lo, I come…to do thy will, O God.
Hebrews 10:14 states,
For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.
Verses 17 and 18 continue the thought:
…Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
The purpose of this group of Scriptures is to point out that whereas the sacrifices of the Mosaic law needed to be offered year after year, Christ’s sacrifice of His life for sin was sufficient to put away sin through one offering (at Calvary).
Up to this point we can see several CONTRASTS between Adam and Jesus Christ:
Adam was made a living soul (I Cor.15:45).
Jesus (the last Adam) was made a life-giving spirit.
Adam was made from out of the earth (I Cor.15:47).
Jesus is the Lord from heaven.
Adam’s sin brought sin and death to all in his line (Rom. 5:12).
Jesus had no sin in Him (I Pet. 2:22; Heb. 4:15; 9:28).
Adam died because of his sin (Gen. 2:17; 5:5; Rom. 5:14).
Jesus died for the sins of others (II Cor.5:21; I Pet. 2:24).
THE FIRST ADAM – THE LAST ADAM (RESURRECTION-THE KEY)
There are also great differences between Adam and Jesus in regard to death as seen in the following contrasts:
Adam died and has never returned from death.
Jesus died and overcame death by resurrection.
Adam’s sin means that sin and death have touched every human being in Adam’s line (Rom. 5:12).
Jesus’ death makes it possible that all who believe in Him will never die (John 11:26) in
the spiritual and eternal sense of death.
The resurrection of Jesus becomes the distinctive element of the gospel message that sets it apart from all other religious systems. Note the essential part of the resurrection in Paul’s description of the gospel following his mention of Christ’s death on the cross, and burial:
…I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and in which ye stand; By which also ye are saved…For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures, I Cor. 15:1-4.
Paul also emphasizes the importance of belief in the resurrection as being essential for salvation, saying in Romans 10:9,
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Throughout the book of Acts the truth of the resurrection becomes a critical point of distinction in the preaching of the apostles. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter puts a major emphasis on the resurrection and cites references from the Old Testament Scriptures to document the fact of resurrection. The following reference in Acts 2:22 and subsequent verses illustrate the importance of the message of the resurrection:
Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you…ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain; Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it, Acts 2:22-24.
Then in Acts 2:31 and following, Peter explains what David of old was saying concerning the resurrection as it applied to Christ:
He (David)…spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hades (see verse 27), neither His flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
The result of Peter’s preaching was the convicting work of the Holy Spirit with 3,000 conversions. Following this, Peter’s second sermon, as recorded in Acts 3, concludes with a brief reference to the resurrection in verse 26,
Unto you first God, having raised up His Son, Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from His iniquities.
As a result of this second message of Peter, a persecution led by the Jewish religious authorities was directed toward the church; the reason is stated in Acts 4:2,
Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
But people still believed, about 5,000 men (v. 4), because of the power of the truth of the resurrection. In his defense before the Jew’s Sanhedrin council, Peter says,
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man (of Acts 3:2) stand here before you well. (Acts 4:10)
The effect of this defense on the council is described in Acts 4:13,14,
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…they marveled; and took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man who was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
Again, in verse 16, the Sanhedrin council says,
What shall we do to these men? For that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all those who dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
What a testimony to the power of the message of the resurrection!
Following the persecution, in Acts 4:33, we again read,
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all.
A second persecution is instigated against the church by the Jewish high priest and some of the Sadducees. When they remind the believers concerning the earlier command forbidding them to preach Christ, Peter responds in Acts 5:29‑32 by saying,
We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey Him.
The result of this testimony is stated in verse 33, when it says,
…They were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.
It seems that when men are frustrated with God’s demonstrating His power, they resort to destructive uses of power in response.
One of the most dramatic testimonies to the truth of the resurrection is seen in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and his subsequent ministry as the Apostle Paul. In Acts, chapter 9, Saul, enroute to Damascus to arrest any followers of Christ, is struck blind by light from heaven, with a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (Acts 9:4). Upon Saul’s asking who was speaking, the answer comes, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest. Jesus, having been resurrected and ascended, is speaking personally with Saul and directs him to be taken to Ananias in Damascus. In addition to his word to Saul, the Lord also speaks to Ananias to instruct him to minister to Saul. Saul’s sight returns after three days and he bears testimony to the disciples as to who Christ is.
Before seeing the place of the resurrection in Paul’s preaching, another instance of Peter’s inclusion of the truth of the resurrection is seen in his preaching when he is directed to go to the house of Cornelius to begin sharing the message of Christ with the Gentiles. In Acts 10:38‑40, it says,
…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit, and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did, both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree. Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly.
The Apostle Paul centers his early message on the resurrection as seen in Acts 13:29,30, during his first missionary journey. We read,
And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulcher. But God raised Him from the dead.
Paul continues to refer to the resurrection three more times with references to prophecies in the Psalms to substantiate what he is telling them during this initial missionary preaching. During his second missionary endeavor at Thessalonica, Paul again includes the message of the resurrection as recorded in Acts 17:3: …Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
In each of these instances many individuals evidenced belief in Paul’s message, and churches were established because of the power of the gospel message. It was no doubt because of these early experiences in Paul’s ministry, as well as a consistent response to the gospel message throughout Paul’s ministry, that he was able to say later in Romans 1:16:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
The power that Paul saw in the preaching of the gospel is evidently centered on the emphasis that we see in Acts 17. Note that earlier in our consideration, it was emphasized that the messages of Peter and the early believers were to present Jesus as the Christ who was promised in the Old Testament. Now we see that Paul is using the truth of Christ’s resurrection as the final weight of evidence that Jesus is the Son of God.
Yet not all who heard Paul’s message were believers. In the passage in Acts 17:5, there are mentioned those who do not believe the message, who seek to silence it through stirring up a riot. Immediately, Paul and Silas go to Berea where the people, who heard the same message evidently as those in Thessalonica, were compelled to search the Scriptures daily to determine that these things were so. As a result, many of those people believed.
Shortly after Paul and Silas arrive in Berea, the persecution that began in Thessalonica moves to Berea, compelling Paul to be sent to Athens. In Athens there did not appear to be a synagogue in which Paul could share his message, so he meets the Athenians in their public forum on Mars Hill. After speaking to them about God in terms in which they could relate, he turns his address to identifying Christ, without naming Him, in the words,
…He (God) hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; concerning which He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)
Once again the crowd is divided upon hearing of the resurrection. Some mocked Paul, but others wanted to hear him speak further. Even after Paul had left them, some people gave evidence of their belief (v. 34).
The next occasion when we see the significance of the resurrection is at Paul’s defense before the Jewish council at Jerusalem, as recorded in Acts 23. In verse 6, Paul says, …of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. This, of course, divided the Pharisees and Sadducees on the council because the Sadducees deny everything of a supernatural character. Because the Roman centurion had to protect Paul from the anger of the Jews who opposed him, Paul was housed in the official barracks of the guard. But the Lord reassures Paul that he will be protected and given opportunity to testify concerning Christ in Rome as well (Acts 23:11).
Paul is later removed to Caesarea where he makes his defense before the Roman governor, Felix. On this occasion Paul starts his defense with an account of the events in Jerusalem, explaining that what the Jews called heresy in him was his hope of the resurrection (Acts 24:15,21). Since Felix was already knowledgeable of the things spoken by Paul, Felix commanded that Paul should be permitted to receive visitors and not be kept in chains. Thus we can see that the message of the resurrection was heard by a wider circle of hearers than by those who had heard the preaching of the Apostles directly.
During Paul’s final defense before King Agrippa, as recorded in Acts 26, Paul again makes reference to the resurrection when he says,
…I continue…witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. (Acts 26:22,23)
The first response to this declaration comes, not from King Agrippa, but from the governor, Festus, who says, …Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad (v. 24). King Agrippa, on the other hand, responds with the words, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (v. 28). However, he does not refute Paul’s reference to the resurrection.
The truth of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was of paramount importance in each of the messages and defenses presented by the Apostle Paul, in the Apostle Peter’s several sermons, and in the ministries of Stephen and Philip as recorded in the book of Acts. It was undoubtedly the single, most life-changing truth in their lives, as well as in their teaching and preaching. It changed Peter from being impetuous to becoming Christ’s primary spokesman initially. It changed Paul from being the church’s greatest persecutor to become its greatest missionary. We must also realize that the truth of the resurrection must always be viewed in combination with Christ’s death and burial, which is obvious from each of the foregoing incidents recorded in the book of Acts. The central theme of the resurrection continues to be the main emphasis in the later doctrinal portions throughout the completion of the New Testament. The way that this resurrection truth is appropriated by an individual will be considered in the following sections.
Next week: The conclusion of Chapter 2
Used with permission.
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.