Man’s Fourfold State

In his Scottish Theology John Macleod described Thomas Boston’s Human Nature in its Fourfold State (1* Repr. London, 1964.) as ‘representative of the best of our Scottish religious classics’.  First published in 1720 it has even been republished in the twenty-first century. Not surprisingly given its title, it describes man in what is conceived to be his four main states: first, the state of innocence prior to the fall; second, the state of nature; third, the state of grace and finally, the eternal state.

While it reads remarkably well for the modern reader considering its age, its theology is dated despite the author’s attempt to be biblical.  For example, it soon becomes clear that the so-called age of innocence is really an original state of perfection (p.38), glory (p.45), immortality (p.52) and (mutable!) righteousness (pp.37,43) in which Adam was putatively created. When, however, he sinned, the original sin (cf. pp.143f.), we, his descendants who were said to be created ‘in him’ (Rom. 5:12), were thoroughly corrupted in body and soul (pp.130f.), and as a consequence of his Fall (pp.38ff.) we even today are born cursed (e.g. pp.473,475). In other words, Boston’s theology is thoroughly Augustinian (see e.g. pp.131f.) which means that it imposes on Scripture a worldview dominated almost exclusively by sin. This of course leads to its distortion which regrettably and to our detriment we still live with today in the twenty-first century. So what is wrong?

First, it needs to be recognized that Augustine of Hippo (d. 430 A.D.), who exercised and continues to exercise enormous influence on the church’s understanding of Scripture, failed adequately to grasp the meaning of the early chapters of Genesis which relate to the beginning of creation and human history. His assumption was that since God himself was perfect all that he created was perfect  (p.38) and not simply ‘good’ (= useful or serving a purpose like Eve’s “apple” in Genesis 3:6, cf. 2:9, etc.) as Scripture itself has it. With this view in mind he assumed that Adam though created from the naturally corruptible earth was fully mature or complete (cf. James 1:4) both physically and morally from the very start (p.45, etc.). Thus even today fundamentalist Christians assume that at creation Adam looked as though he was thirty years old (cf. p.209). After all, in their view there must be a chicken before there is an egg!  In light of this, the notion of Adam’s development or evolution was eliminated and was replaced by devolution or degeneration. However, when Darwin came dramatically on the scene in 1859 with the publication of his The Origin of Species, the churches were at a loss as to how to handle the situation, for science seemed to contradict the long-established and non-negotiable belief in a literal six-day creation. So, who was right? What can be said for certain is that the church with its Augustinian ideas of original perfection, even immortality, original righteousness, holiness, sin, fall, curse and final redemption had got it wrong. Since we know indisputably that we ourselves like Jesus develop from seed to maturity and, since we are also made in Adam’s image (Gen. 5:1-3), it follows remorselessly that Adam must have done likewise. We follow the pattern of his creation just a Jesus, the second Adam did (cf. 1 Cor. 15:46-49; Heb. 2:14). The truth is that development or evolution is basic to or foundational of our human nature. Creation (and hence procreation) is necessarily followed by development from the very moment of conception as Jesus’ own case illustrates (e.g. Luke 1-2). After all, perfection or maturity, the complete image of God, is our ultimate goal (Mt. 19:21; Phil. 3:12-14; Heb. 6:1, etc.).

Expressed alternatively,

our call from an innocent or morally neutral beginning is to obey the commandment/law (Gen. 2:17) and seek honour and glory (Rom. 2:7,10; 1 Pet. 1:6f., cf. Ps. 8:5-8; Heb. 2:6-9). Thus the Bible, properly understood, is thoroughly teleological in its outlook and mankind kept by the power of God (cf. 1 Pet. 1:5) moves purposefully from (pro)creation to new creation (2 Cor. 5:17, cf. John 3:1-8, etc.) or from ground to glory. Since man in general proves incapable of keeping the commandment/law to gain righteousness which is the precondition of life (Gen. 2:16f.; Lev. 18:5), he inevitably comes short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) and is in the event compelled to turn to Christ who alone attained to glory in the process of atoning for the sins of the rest of his brethren (1 Pet. 2:9). If man had been completely destroyed by the flood, he would have been to all intents and purposes still-born and God’s plan of salvation would have proved abortive. On this assumption, the covenant with Noah was integral to the plan of salvation (cf. Jer. 31:35-37; 33:25f., cf. Heb. 11:7).

From Immaturity to Perfection

What the Bible implies therefore is that creation in general but especially mankind as both community and individual begins in immaturity or imperfection with a view to attaining to maturity or ultimate perfection. This is made plain by an examination of the life of Jesus, who after an initial experience in immaturity or imperfection as a baby and subsequent development (cf. Luke 2:40-52, etc.), finally achieved perfection (Heb. 7:28) and so took his seat at his Father’s side as his exact image (Heb. 1:3). From this we are forced to infer on the assumption of his genuine incarnation that as the second Adam he perfectly recapitulated the career the first Adam failed to achieve. Thus to ascribe to man, that is, first Adamic man the attributes of maturity (cf. pp. 38,209) is to commit a major mistake and make nonsense of much of the Bible. The plain truth is that there was never any original righteousness, original sin, fall, cosmic curse and the like. These have all been read into Scripture not out of it. The biblical view is that God created man knowing neither good nor evil (cf. Gen. 2:17; 3:5,22), that is, innocent (cf. Dt. 1:39, etc.) and tested him like a baby verging on childhood by means of one commandment and later, as he developed, by means of the entire law of Moses. Of course, there is an important difference between early and modern man: Adam did not receive the commandment until, having gestated, evolved or developed in the Garden of Eden, the womb of the race, he was physically mature. As Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 15:46 flesh precedes spirit. Put another way, mankind’s fleshly or animal development occurred before his moral and spiritual development. And since the commandment was given with a view to his achieving righteousness which was the precondition of eternal life (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5, etc.), the idea that he was originally righteous before he was even capable of receiving the commandment is simply absurd.

The State of Innocence

It is at this point that we begin to become aware of the massive misunderstanding that Boston laboured under. His miscalled age of innocence which he regarded as a state of righteousness based dubiously on Ecclesiastes 7:29 and the like was a delusion. The truth is that after creation as seed in the bowels of the earth (cf. Ps. 139:15f.) and transfer to the Garden of Eden, the womb of the race (cf. David’s transfer to his mother’s womb in Ps. 139:13), man was like the rest of the animal creation, a human animal, that is, flesh. The difference between Adam (mankind) and the rest was that he was made in the  image of God (Gen. 1:26-28, cf. Ps. 8:5-8; Heb. 2:6-9) with a view to his ultimately gaining his exact likeness as Jesus the second Adam eventually succeeded in doing (Heb. 1:3).

The State of Nature

Inevitably, given his Augustinian presuppositions, Boston regarded man’s natural state as sinful from the very start and hence miserable. His false assumption that he inherited Adam’s sinful nature by birth (cf. Gen. 5:1-3) involved complete failure to recognise the fact that we all, like Adam himself, begin at the very beginning in total ignorance and genuine innocence (Dt. 1:39, etc.). Ezekiel 18 in particular makes it plain beyond reasonable dispute that it is impossible to inherit, as opposed to being influenced and affected by (Ex. 20:5f.; 34:6f.), our parents’ moral nature, whether righteous or unrighteous, for this is the result of life lived in reaction to commandment or law (Rom. 6:16). As Paul makes so transparently plain in his letter to the Romans, where there is no law, there can be no transgression, which means that the entire animal world is innocent. The reason why man becomes sinful after initial innocence is, as was implied above, that he breaks the commandment once he is able to receive it (cf. John 8:34). Paul, who has a wholly undeserved reputation for teaching original sin (2* The Augustinian dogma of original sin involves the transmission (Catholics) or imputation (Protestants) of sin even to embryos. Verses like Psalm 51:5 and Ephesians 2:1-3 are quite wrongly used to support this view. See further my The Redundancy Of Original Sin, Does Romans Teach Original Sin?.) clearly rejects the idea that he was born sinful when in Romans 7:9f. he tells his readers that he was (like Adam and Eve) born ‘alive’ and sinned only when he learned the commandment. If this is not true, we immediately have difficulties with Jesus who is regarded throughout the churches as sinless. As a consequence of belief in original sin, the Roman Church and many Protestants are now saddled with the unbiblical notion of the Virgin Mary’s immaculate conception and the sinfulness of sex. (3* See my Thoughts On ‘Adam, The Fall And Original Sin’.)

Of course, Boston strikes gold when he insists along with the Bible that once man is constituted a sinner, he is completely unable to recover himself and is in urgent need of redemption by other means.

The State of Grace

For Boston, as for all who adopt the Augustinian worldview, recovery from the sinful state of nature which stems from original sin is by regeneration. But this, though true in a sense, raises the question of the order of salvation. (4* See my Cart-Before-The-Horse Theology, etc.)   It is assumed by all who cleave to Augustine and original sin that regeneration or new birth comes first. In other words, regeneration functions like election which is outside the range of man’s choice (cf. Rom. 9:11; 11:6). But is this really the case? While it must be conceded that regeneration is a monergistic act of God to which man can no more contribute than he can to his physical birth, according to the Bible it follows on from repentance and faith (conversion, e.g. Acts 2:38). This is proved by the fact that Abraham who is regarded as the father of the faithful was classified by Paul as ‘ungodly’ (Rom. 4:5) and hence not born again. Indeed, it can be asserted without fear of contradiction that while many in the OT were genuine believers (see e.g. Heb. 11) not one was born again. How do we know? The answer is that all to the very last man and woman were sinners (1 K. 8:46; Ps. 143:2; Eccl. 7:20, etc.) and as such in light of Leviticus 18:5 incapable of regeneration until Christ came to atone for their sin.

The New Birth and Nature

But there is another problem that Boston failed to deal with adequately on account of his allegiance to Augustine, that is, that the prime function of the new birth is not to counteract sin, original sin in particular, but our natural condition apart from sin. In John 3 Jesus fails to mention sin but concentrates all his attention on our human nature as flesh. In other words, he stresses the necessity (John 3:7, Gk dei), not the imperative, of spiritual regeneration, while in 1 Corinthians 15:53 Paul underlines the necessity of corporeal transformation since it is impossible for mortal, corruptible flesh to inherit the eternal kingdom of God. (5* Cf. my Death and Corruption.) In light of this we are compelled to conclude that we are physically corrupt by creation and naturally in bondage to decay (Rom. 8:18-25). Even the sinless Jesus in contrast with his heavenly Father (Heb. 1:11) was subject to obsolescence (Luke 2:42; 3:23, etc.) like the earth from which he stemmed through his mother.

The Eternal State

Boston’s final state is of course the eternal state, and, though he says things in explanation of it which are positively excruciating like the precious nature of our bodily dust as it lies in the ground (p. 355) in drastic defiance of 1 Corinthians 15:50 (cf. Mt. 10:28), we can accept it in general as involving, after death, resurrection, judgement, heaven or hell.

The True View

So, if the Augustinian worldview that Boston uncritically imbibed is false, what is the true view? If we are to assume that human nature is subject to a fourfold state at all, what is it?  Let us begin at the beginning.

First, we need to recognise that Adam regarded as an individual is archetypically and hence representatively mankind according to the flesh. (6* It is imperative at this point to reject the widespread idea that Adam was the covenant head and representative of all his descendants. Apart from the fact that it is not taught in Scripture it would inevitably catch the sinless Jesus in its trap!)  He is both individual and community, at once a single, individual man and the race in miniature. As created in the ground (dust, clay) he is portrayed as knowing neither good nor evil, ignorant of law and therefore genuinely innocent. Since God created the earth to be inhabited (Gen. 1; Ps. 8; Isa. 45:18, etc.), we can deduce in light of our own experience as his descendants, that Adam’s initial state was that of (perishable) seed (cf. 1 Pet. 1:23). In other words, God, the Creator himself, was his Father (Luke 3:38) and the corruptible earth was his mother. As such he was transferred to the Garden of Eden, the womb of the race (Gen. 2:8,15), to gestate and there as a seed-bearer he produced Eve as he himself had been produced from the ground. Thus, as Paul implies in 1 Corinthians 11:7,12, when procreation replaces and recapitulates creation, Adam typifies God himself, while Eve the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20) who, like Adam himself though the image of God is also flesh, typifies the earth. Just as we ourselves are procreated by means of a seed-bearing mother and father (cf. Isa. 45:10), so like Adam we are the children of God and the earth (1 Cor. 15:47a) with a view to our becoming like the man of heaven, Jesus our Lord (1 Cor. 15:46-49).  It perhaps needs to be firmly stated at this point that Jesus, who was genuinely flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14), also followed the same pattern. As created (incarnated) by God (cf. Heb. 10:5), he also as the second Adam was fashioned in the Garden, that is, Mary’s womb (cf. Jer. 1:5) in order to be finally perfected and ascend into heaven at the end of his fleshly or Adamic life (cf. Eph. 4:9f.).

If all this is true, then Boston’s Augustinian outlook must be deemed radically wrong, based as it is on massive misunderstanding of the biblical worldview. But there is much more to say. When he first left Eden, the Garden womb, the first Adam was already physically mature and already a sinner who had already broken the commandment and a true forerunner of the Jews (Isa. 48:8).  In this sense he was ‘born’ physically full-grown but manifestly infantile in spirit. As such he was radically different from us, his modern children.  Today we might well consider him to be retarded or a late developer. In any case, as Paul intimates, he was flesh before he was spirit (1 Cor. 15:46) but his long period of gestation has now been diminished with the result that we his children recapitulate his experience in a much shorter time. (7* I fancy that the great ages of the antediluvians arise out of the fact that the distinction between the individual and the race in man’s early history is sometimes less than clear. This becomes apparent when we consider that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny in the Bible.)

If, however, Adam’s exile from Eden constituted his birth, in contrast with ours today it occurred consciously with the result that he had to face an inhospitable, intractable even hostile world as the epitome of infant mankind, the race. Needless to say, in his immaturity, not to mention his moral disorientation, he was hardly fitted to exercise dominion as man’s basic vocation required (Gen. 1:26-28). Unsurprisingly, since this was the case, the land was cursed and unproductive like that of the sluggard in Proverbs 24:30-34. After all, infants are hardly noted for their commitment to hard work (cf. Gen. 3:19; 5:29). In modern times, however, when they are born babies as we know them in ignorance and weakness, they are almost completely dependent on mature parents. It is not until they are on the cusp of childhood that they begin to take steps to fend for themselves and experience some of what the antediluvians experienced in their ‘infancy’. If this is true, then the so-called ‘cosmic’ curse of traditional theology is defunct. It was terminated by the covenant with obedient Noah which guaranteed that there would never again be worldwide as opposed to local floods preventing his exercise of dominion (cf. Isa. 54:9). The mere fact that Noah’s covenant (Gen. 9:1-17) is couched in somewhat similar terms to the commandment Adam received at the beginning in Genesis 1-3 is testament both to the grace and salvific purpose of God. For this covenant will endure to the end of the world when God’s harvest will be finally reaped (Gen. 8:22, cf. Isa. 54:9f.; Luke 17:26-30; Acts 14:17; 17:25-28.). (8* See my Did God Make a Covenant with Creation?)

The Natural Man

The truth is that compared with Adam and his immediate descendants who were the infants of the race, Noah was clearly a child, cleansed or metaphorically baptised by the flood from his infantile filth (1 Pet. 3:21). Of course, Noah was a sinner deceived by the lusts of the flesh (Gen. 9:21, cf. 8:21) and a true son of Eve who was deceived (Gen. 3:6, cf. 1 Tim. 2:14) and who typified the heathen referred to by Paul in Romans 1 (cf. 7:11) and Ephesians 4:17-19. He was thus to all intents and purposes the first heathen to live consciously under the covenant with nature.  In fact he epitomized the natural man who though without excuse (Rom. 1:20, cf. Eph. 2:3) lacked adequate knowledge of God (cf. Eph. 2:12). But at least in light of the covenant he had more in prospect (cf. Ps. 8:5-8) and was ranked with the faithful  by the author of Hebrews (Heb. 11:7).

Man Under Promise and Law

Unlike Boston who assigned the natural or heathen man to hell as Augustine did unbaptised and hence unregenerate babies, God established a covenant with the heathen Abraham through whom he promised to bless the entire heathen world (Gen. 12:1-3,7). Out of this matrix and in fulfilment of his promise God later made a covenant of law through Moses  with a view to separating the children of Abraham (cf. Ex. 33:16; Lev. 20:24,26) so that they could serve the world as a royal priesthood and a holy nation  (Ex. 19:5f.). In other words, the election of Israel had in view the promised blessing (Isa. 42:6; 49:6). In contrast with the ‘child’ Noah, Moses was the first ‘adolescent’, for the Israelites did not become sons of the commandment who took personal responsibility for keeping the law until their bar mitzvah at age 13 (cf. Luke 2:40-52). Prior to that time they were tied to their mothers’ apron strings and ranked with them virtually as heathen.


On this assumption, it becomes clear that the individual recapitulates the race and their development occurs concurrently. Just as mankind begins as seed in the earth, gestates in the Garden of Eden, enters the natural world and attempts forlornly to work his passage before suffering the curse of the flood, so the individual is procreated in his mother’s (garden) womb, undergoes infancy in blissful ignorance, and then, after attaining to childhood and “Egyptian” bondage, achieves adolescence under the law of Moses. Here the problem is that he is incapable of keeping the law, and as Jeremiah in particular became aware he needs a new covenant to give him life (Jer. 31:31-34). And since God is still intent on bringing salvation to the world (cf. John 3:16), he himself comes in the person of Jesus the Christ, first to fulfil the Mosaic covenant that promised life if it was kept (Mt. 5:17f.) and  to establish a new covenant by which his beneficent worldwide purpose can be achieved (cf. 1 John 2:2). (9* On this, see especially Galatians 4:1-7 where Paul’s sketch of the transition from (animal) birth through slavery and servanthood to sonship is plain.) So what is the biblical fourfold state of man?

The Biblical View of Man’s Fourfold State


The First State: Animal (Flesh)

On the assumption that man (Adam) is created by God as seed in the ground (Gen. 2:7; 3:19,23; 18:27; Job 10:8-10;  Ps. 139:15f.; Eccl. 12:7), he is transferred like the rest of the animals (Gen. 2:19) to gestate in the Garden of Eden (the  womb of the race) until he achieves physical maturity or adulthood. Since at the start he is ignorant of the commandment (law), and knows neither good nor evil (Gen. 2:16f.; 3:5,22, cf. Dt. 1:39, etc.), he is morally innocent. When, however, in contrast with the other animals, he develops like a baby to the point of understanding and receives the commandment, like Paul at a much later date (Rom. 7:9f.), he fails to keep it and becomes a sinner incapable of recovering himself (cf. John 8:34; Rom. 7:23f.). His way back to Eden and innocence is as surely barred (Gen. 3:24) as Nicodemus’, like that of Job (ch.3) and Jeremiah (20:14-18), was to his mother’s womb (John 3:4). Needless to say, this pattern is followed by all his offspring who recapitulate his experience. But as Genesis 3-6 indicate, having once begun in sin Adam’s or mankind’s degeneration in sin continues resulting in a curse on the largely untilled ground which culminates in the flood. In the event, the flood does not destroy the earth but wipes out all of mankind (2 Pet. 3:6) with the exception of Noah (Heb. 11:7) with whom God makes a covenant promising productivity to the end of history when the plan of human salvation will be complete (cf. Luke 17:26-37).

The first state of racial man (Adam) then is purely fleshly or animal (cf. Gen. 2:16,19; 1 Cor. 15:46) but it involves gradual transition on the spiritual level to human babyhood. Thus when he becomes conscious of the commandment, like a modern infant having broken it he also becomes conscious of much else like death, companionship and the need to work for his food (Gen. 3:19, cf. 2 Thes. 3:10). Eve on the other hand who has obviously had children before now becomes conscious of pain in childbirth (Gen. 3:16). In other words, pain is not so much the result of sin as tradition would have us believe but of the conscious intelligence which inevitably accompanies sin. After all, sin cannot occur apart from knowledge (Rom. 4:15; 7:8, etc.). Provided we recognize the difference in physical maturity between the birth and development of racial man and our own we can readily accept the idea of recapitulation, for the pattern is the same. Just as Adam was sown in the womb of the race, the Garden of Eden, so we are sown in our mother’s womb (Isa. 45:9f.), a place of idyllic total supply  to which both Job (ch.3) and Jeremiah (20:14-18) who suffered much wished they could return, but like Adam himself (Gen. 3:22-24) and Nicodemus could not (John 3:4). There was no going back for development or evolution is the law of life (creation). (10* See my No Going Back.). It is worth adding here that to attribute pain to sin rather than to knowledge is to fail to understand that the sinless Jesus experienced pain (hunger, thirst, fatigue, etc.) apart from sin. (11* See my Nature Red in Tooth and Claw.)

So man’s degeneration in sin following Adam’s birth or ejection from the Garden of Eden culminated in the flood which destroyed all mankind except Noah and his family. (12* Elsewhere I have argued that babies who know neither good nor evil and therefore cannot exercise faith are not saved yet both Genesis and Hebrews 11:4-6 make it crystal clear that  Abel and Enoch who were obviously among the ‘infants’ of the race were saved by grace through faith before the covenant made with Noah. We need to remind ourselves, first, that they were physically adult ‘late developers’ and, secondly, that where there is knowledge there is room for both sin and/or faith, Rom. 6:16.) As indicated above, Noah was more developed and mature than Adam and his immediate descendants and was, if we accept the idea of recapitulation, the first child (as opposed to infant) of the race.


The Second State: Heathen

As the first racial child Noah was also the first heathen, for the Bible makes it plain that all the heathen are the conscious beneficiaries of the covenant with Noah (13* The rest of the animal creation is of course the unconscious beneficiary of the covenant.) Both Moses (Dt. 4:19) and Paul (Acts 14:17), for example, remind us that this is the case. Even Abraham was heathen and like his children in Egypt was an idolater (Jos. 24:2,14; Ezek. 20:7f.). So it is with children in general. According to Paul they too are slaves (Gal. 4:1-3), and need to grow up (Eph. 4:11-16) and be perfected (cf. 1 Cor. 13:11).


The Third State: Under Law

To fulfil his promise to Abraham to be a blessing to the world God next separated the Israelites, the children of Abraham, by rescuing them from bondage in heathen Egypt and giving them the law through Moses at Sinai.  While it is strictly speaking true that only the Jews had the law as such (Dt. 4:7,32-34; Ps. 147:19f.), its impact on the rest of the world is indisputable. Our education system involving primary, secondary and tertiary grades reflects it. In view of this, the KJV translation of Galatians 3:24f. which refers to a schoolmaster, though somewhat inaccurate, is both meaningful and hence felicitous. (Boston of course was a federalist (pp.131f.) who assumed a covenant with Adam of which Scripture knows nothing. Thus he barely mentions Noah and Moses whose covenants are integral to the Bible and our understanding of man.)


The Fourth State: The State of Grace

While Paul lays heavy stress on man’s inability to keep the law (Gal. 3:10-13, cf. 3:21) and hence gain life (cf. Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5), the author of Hebrews points out that the law as such is weak, ineffective (7:11,18f.; 8:7), obsolescent (8:13)  and requires replacement by another covenant which can give life as Jeremiah had realized long before (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:8-12). This covenant is in the event inaugurated by Christ who kept the law to perfection and died to cover sins committed under the first covenant (Heb. 9:15).  Thus those who believe in him are baptised by the Spirit as he was and so receive eternal life. In the state of grace believers are no longer under the law of Moses but live the regenerate life led by the Spirit until at physical death, like Jesus their pioneer, they undergo bodily transformation and glorification (1 Cor. 15:50-55). The state of grace or regeneration, then, culminates in what Boston rightly refers to as the eternal state, but it is really a fifth not a fourth state at least for the Jews.

Jesus: The Perfected Man

If Jesus was our trail blazer as the author of Hebrews especially claims (6:19f.; 10:19f.; 12:1f.), then on the assumption of recapitulation we should expect to see that his earthly pilgrimage mirrors that of the race.  And that indeed is the case. First, as truly incarnate he was born of fleshly woman (Gal. 4:4) who typified the earth (cf. Gen. 3:20; 1 Cor. 11:12; Eph. 4:9), and was linked with the animals in a stable. Next, after weaning in infancy, as a child like his forebears he was nurtured as a heathen slave in Egypt (Mt. 2:15; Gal. 4:1-3). Thirdly, as an adolescent he was put like all Jewish circumcised boys under the tutelage of the law in the Promised Land (Luke 2:40-52). Fourthly, having kept the law to perfection and pleased his heavenly Father, he was baptized by the Spirit and born again (Mt. 3:13-17). (14* See my Was Jesus Born Again?) Finally, after atoning in an act of supererogation for the sins of his fellows (cf. 1 John 2:2), he ascended into heaven, was transformed, glorified and seated at his Father’s right hand as a man who had gained the exact image of God (Heb. 1:3; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15). .

This recapitulation of the human odyssey is not quite exact, however; it needs clarification. For the truth is that while he clearly recapitulated first Adamic life, Jesus pioneered or ‘precapitulated’ second Adamic life (cf. 1 Cor. 15:45-49). Thus, contrary to widespread traditional teaching, he did not identify with us in baptism, rather it is we who identify with him. (15* See my Baptism And Identification.) For, first, at his incarnation he had to recapitulate to perfection the journey the first Adam failed to complete, but then, once he was born again, he had to pioneer the regenerate life (fulfil all righteousness) which Adam and all his natural progeny never experienced at all. (16* It should be carefully noted that not one of the OT saints listed in Hebrews 11 was born again. All were sinners and hence excluded, Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5. It was only when God provided “something better” that they were perfected, Heb. 11:39f.) For them the new birth was just a promise (Dt. 30:6, etc.) unfulfilled until Jesus who kept the law brought in life and incorruption (Gk. 2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Cor. 15:53, cf. Rom. 8:1).

The fivefold state of the incarnate life of Jesus tabulated:

1.  Born flesh of woman in an animal stable (Luke 2:7, cf. Eph. 4:9).

2. Childhood in heathen Egypt (Mt. 2:15).

3. Tutelage under law in the Jewish Promised Land (Luke 2:40-52).

4. Baptism and regeneration (Mt. 3:13-17) to pioneer the Christian life in the Spirit.

5. Ascension, bodily transformation, heavenly session in glory (Eph. 4:10, cf. 1:10,20-22; Mt. 28:18).

The perfected Jesus (Heb. 7:28, etc.) was thus the epitome of incarnation, recapitulation, human development (evolution) and perfection. In order to mediate between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5), he became the very image of God (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15; 2 Cor. 4:4).  As such he is able to redeem the race (1 John 2:2), for, as Gregory Nazianzus said, to redeem all he had to assume all (cf. Heb. 2).
If this is true then, despite his subjection of creation to futility (Rom. 8:20, cf. Heb. 1:10-12) the watchmaker was not so blind after all. As for the selfish gene, deluded it is going nowhere but to ultimate destruction.


See further my:

Augustine: Asset or Liability?

Covenant Theology

Covenant Theology in Brief


Concerning Original Righteousness

Correcting Traditional Distortions Of Scripture

Adam – Part 1 – Adam’s Pedigree And Goal

Adam – Part 2 – Individual and Community

Adam – Part 3 – The Two Adams

Adam’s Genealogy and Destiny

Are Babies Saved?

Recapitulation in Outline

No Going Back

Two ‘Natural’ Necessities

Death and Corruption

Was Jesus Born Again?


Concerning Futility

Romans 8:18-25 In Brief