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Christian Church/Church of Christ Dictionary: ‘A’ is for ‘Adam’

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“A” is for “Adam” is the first article in a series that provides definitions, principles and the beliefs of nondenominational Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. The sources of information are The Bible; several Bible dictionaries, commentaries and reference books from my library, and the experiences of a humble servant of the Lord who is closing on 40 years of teaching adult Sunday school classes.

Adam = red = power in the blood

“Adam” is the English translation of the Hebrew word “אָדָם” and finding a common definition of the word has stirred a healthy debate among Bible scholars. The most common explanation is the name “Adam” is derived from the same root as the English word “red."

Why would the meaning of the first human’s name be based on a color?

“Red” is more than a color. In ancient times, the word was a reference to the ruddy appearance of the individual. Adam came from the earth, so his appearance would be a reflection of his surroundings.

In ancient and contemporary times, “red” has been associated with blood and sacrifice. In the Old Testament, God gave his people specific instructions about the blood sacrifice of animals. In the New Testament, we learn the old method of sacrificing animals was replaced by the single sacrifice of Jesus.

Christian Churches and Churches of Christ teach, talk and sing about the “power of the blood of Jesus.” There have been several songs on this theme over the years with the most significant being “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.” Here is a portion of the lyrics.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus

The very popular Hillsong United group released their version of this song in 2009 and it is included in many worship services. One of my favorites is the Wayne Watson version from the 1980’s entitled “The Blood of Jesus.” He emphasizes the power of the blood of Jesus with these lyrics.

It was the blood of Jesus
The blood of Jesus
That opened Heaven's door to let me in
It was the blood of Jesus
The blood of Jesus
That washed away my guilt
That washed away
The guilt of all my sin

It is the first article in the series and I already have veered off course. Or have I? What if one of the fundamental beliefs of the Christian Church and Churches of Christ is the words of The Bible are cross-connected?

There is plenty of scriptural evidence that the events of what we call “The Old Testament” set the stage for the arrival of Jesus and the establishment of the first church in “The New Testament.” We profess to be a New Testament church, but cannot deny the power and authority of God as revealed in the Old Testament.

Adam = ground

Some Bible scholars believe the word "Adam" is a play on the Hebrew word “dhamah”, which means “ground” in English. Genesis 2:7 says “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

King Solomon begins the 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes with the phrase “Remember the Creator.” He then reminds the reader in verses 6 and 7.

Remember Him—before the silver cord is severed,
and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

We, who live through the gift of the Holy Spirit and the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, consider separation from God to be the cruelest fate for any human being. And separation occurs when we sin against God the Father.

Adam = man = sin

The word we translate as “Adam” appears 32 times in the first five chapters of Genesis. If you examine the word’s use, it is not used as a proper name but as a general tag like “man”, “human” or “the man.”

It is interesting that sin occurs (in Genesis 3) after God decides to create mankind in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). Apparently, the freedom to think and act and believe (some call it “free will”) makes us vulnerable to sin against God. And by sinning we separate ourselves from a Creator who made us in His image. It is like saying to God: “I don’t like the way you made me and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Actually, it has already been done. God, the Creator of the seen and unseen, sent His only son, Jesus, to rescue all of humanity from sin and death. If you need to better understand the significance of Adam and Jesus, I recommend reading the 5th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Thank you, Adam!

It may be tempting to think negatively about Adam. “He committed the first sin,” you correctly point out and I will respond: “Well, he didn’t do it alone.”
“Yeah, but he still did it.”
And while I work on a witty verbal response, I am thinking that God could have selected a “Fred”, “Ethel”, “Rob”, “Laura” or “Darwin (Deni)” to commit the first sin. But he didn’t. He chose an “Adam” to bear that burden.

I like the way C.S. Lewis values the role of Adam and Eve in the Chronicles of Narnia books. The four lead characters are two boys and two girls. Peter and Edmund are called “sons of Adam” by the Narnians and Susan and Lucy are called “daughters of Eve.”

It is a royal honor to have these unique titles and the four young people are crowned kings and queens of Narnia at the end of the first book. God has made us the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve not because we sin, but because He designed us for a purpose that is made possible through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

NEXT UP: “B” is for “Baptism.” Why is baptism one of the Christian Church and Church of Christ’s core beliefs?

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