Is Adam the representative head of the human race?

Is Adam the representative head of the human race?

Those who believe that God created a hierarchical relationship between men and women will usually state that God created Adam as the “federal head” of the human race. This “federal headship” is said to be not only physical in that all of humanity has its origin in Adam, but spiritual because of a divinely-ordained covenant which God instituted between only Adam and himself.

In this view, God gives the prohibition to Adam alone in the garden and God does not include Eve because she is to be represented by Adam in the same way that Adam represents all of mankind. This view is very much embedded in the complementarian mindset so that those who hold this view believe that it is not a tradition but is instead based on scripture itself. But is this true?

While I agree that when Adam sinned he took all of his descendants with him because all of us were produced from the body of Adam after he sinned and thus all of us are physically connected to Adam in his sin nature, however I strongly disagree that God created a special relationship with Adam alone that made Adam a spiritual or physical representative of Eve.

The unscriptural nature of this view is shown by those who take this teaching to its logical outcome. A strong proponent of the teaching of Adam as God’s appointed federal head of mankind is Les Feldick. Mr. Feldick is an Oklahoma rancher and preacher who teaches on a television program called “Through the Bible”.

Mr. Feldick takes the federal headship of Adam to its logical outcome by attributing Eve’s fall to Adam. He says:

“the woman’s fall was not precipitated by Eve’s eating of the fruit. Never! It was Adam who ate and the whole human race fell! We have to see here that Eve was part of that fall because she came out of Adam, just the same as you and I came from our parents. Eve came from Adam.”

Mr. Feldick states further that:

“she (Eve) simply inherited her sin nature from Adam.”

If Adam was the federal head of all mankind and appointed as such by God when God made a covenant with Adam alone, then it would have to follow that Eve’s sin did not come from her eating of the fruit. Her sin would have to be attributed to her when Adam sinned just as Mr. Feldick asserts. That means that Eve would have inherited the sin nature even if she had not been disobedient herself because Adam’s sin would also have been attributed to her. Now I agree that this would have been the case if Eve had been created after Adam sinned. When Adam sinned he took all of the future humanity with him because all of us were created from his sin-tainted flesh. We all inherited Adam’s sin nature because all of us were created after Adam sinned. But what about Eve? Eve was not created after Adam sinned but she was created before he sinned. Nowhere in scripture is her sin attributed by God to Adam and nowhere is Adam’s sin attributed to Eve. Eve is held accountable for her own sin just as Adam is held accountable for his own sin. God does not go to Adam and ask him what Eve has done. God goes directly to Eve and deals directly with her without the mediatorship of her husband. If Adam was some kind of representative head appointed by God for all of humanity, then surely he would also have been the representative head of Eve. But God does not treat Adam as a representative head of the woman. Each person is dealt with individually and each person must account for their own sin.

So why if Eve sinned first, did God put the blame solely on the man for bringing sin into the world? It is because Adam’s sin was done in a deliberate and willful way (Hosea 6:7) while Eve’s sin was done through her being deceived and thus she fell into sin (1 Timothy 2:14)

Next the question can be asked, since the seed of the woman was to be born without original sin, does the sin nature pass forward from the male alone? Scripture makes this clear in that it makes the foreskin of the male as a metaphor for sin. Where the seed comes through – that skin is said to represent sin. When God made a covenant with Abraham, all of Abraham’s offspring were to be in the covenant including males and females, yet only the males were required to be circumcised.

Genesis 17:10 “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.”

The cutting off of the foreskin was a sign of the covenant because only the foreskin is a sign of sin and the physical passing on of the sin nature was through the male alone. If a male was not circumcised, that was a sign of sin not being cut off and God required that person to be cut off from his people.

Genesis 17:14 “But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”

While the physical transmission of sin is from the male alone, God tells us that each one of us, male and female, need to circumcise the sin in our heart symbolized by the metaphor of the foreskin.

Deut. 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. (ESV)

Jeremiah 4:4 “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD And remove the foreskins of your heart.”

God himself promised that he would do the work of removing of the sin in our hearts and he likens it to physical circumcision.

Deut 30:6 “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.

Spiritually we all need circumcision. However in a physical way only the males were required to go through the cutting off of the physical representation of sin. The foreskin of the male represents sin while the skin of the female (hymen) always represents purity in the Bible. Does this mean that women are pure while men are sinful? No, not at all. We all are sinners in our hearts and all of us have inherited the sin nature of Adam. But only the men’s seed passes on Adam’s seed of rebellion.

One Pastor who has a Masters in Divinity asked me to explain why if the foreskin is a sign of sin, then why was Jesus born with a foreskin that needed to be circumcised? The reason that Jesus was born with a foreskin although he did not have an inherited sin nature, was because the Bible says that Jesus was made in the likeness of sinful flesh.

Romans 8:3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

Jesus had to be made in our likeness but without the sin nature. That is why Jesus had to be born with the sign of sin in his body. He looked like us in our sinful bodies, but he was completely free of sin. In that likeness of sinful flesh he condemned sin in the flesh. Our sin nature is now spiritually circumcised by Christ himself.

Col 2:11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;

Col 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

In summary, Adam’s sin has been passed on to all of us through the physical seed of the male, but Christ who is the physical seed of the woman, has become flesh in order to cleanse all of us who through faith will come to him to receive forgiveness. Christ alone is able to permanently deal with the sinful “foreskin” of our hearts.

7 thoughts on “Is Adam the representative head of the human race?

  1. Wow, thanks for this article, so informative, I’ve never thought about the metaphor of the foreskin representing the sinful seed of Adam.

    It would be nice to know more about the head covering relating to sin as well.

    Keep up your excellent work!

    In His joy,

  2. Martin,

    The headcovering was symbolic of the shame of sin in the same way that the covering of fig leaves was used to cover the shame that Adam and Eve felt after their sin. God does not want us to “cover over” our sin. He wants to remove it with the blood of his own Son. As Christians, when we try to deal with our shame by covering over the shame of our sin, we are shaming Christ because Christ died to take away that shame. I think I will do a post on the shame/covering issue when I get a chance. Our second part of our ministry & household move is happening within days and so I will be occupied for several weeks until we are moved and unpacked.


    Although the foreskin is a symbol of sin in the Bible, the real problem is our heart. When Jesus cleanses us of our sin, we no longer have a “foreskin” problem because the death of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. We cannot deal with the “foreskin” of our heart by “pulling it back” and thus hiding the sin. We must confess our sin and allow Jesus to cut it off. It is the spiritual application that is important. The cutting off of the physical flesh is not required because Jesus has fulfilled the law and done the work for us.


  3. Cheryl

    I am digesting your very interesting teaching here…
    I guess just as Jesus was born with a sign of sin in his body to identify with sinful humanity … so too he chose to be identified with us and our need for the spiritual cleansing in his water baptism – though he himself needed no ‘personal’ repentance.

    Keep the revelations coming…

  4. Kerryn,

    Good job with the identification of baptism with the cutting off of the flesh from the first covenant! You are absolutely right on. Jesus did not need to be baptized because he had no sin, but he identified with us as humans and he completely fulfilled the requirements of the law. In the same way Jesus did not need to have the sign of sin in his body, but because he came to identify with us in our flesh, he was born with a foreskin that also needed to be cut off.

    In this way, Jesus identified with the physical seed of Abraham by having his foreskin cut off as required by the first covenant. He also identified with those who would become his body by being baptized himself. He took on the sign of both covenants even though by being the Son of God he would not have needed to come down to our level. Praise God that he identified with us and fulfilled the law that we were not able to fufill. By trusting in the finished work of Christ, we are complete – fully reconciled with God.

    Keep up the good work at thinking this all through!


  5. Dear All: Some questions are of an obfuscatory nature, not to seek enlightenment (the attitude is that I’m already enlightened and all I need to do is ask you a question to dismiss everything you’ve said….). Jesus was born with a foreskin because he was born a male human being (There; was that too hard Brother?). And he was circumcised because he was born a Jew under the Law (obvious, surely?). Jesus satisfied the Law fully on my behalf (including circumcision, which no longer applies to Christians, although they may still do it for sanitary reasons), and was in fact the Incarnate Torah. The Law is therefore no longer my rule of life, since I now have the fully sufficient moral law of the New Covenant to replace it.
    Love, Bob.

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