Adam ‑ Federal Head of All Mankind
a biblical doctrine referred to as the "doctrine of federal headship."
This doctrine teaches that when Adam was in the garden of Eden and was
given the "covenant of the law of sin and death" that he represented not
just himself in that covenant, but stood as the covenant representative
of all mankind. Thus the effects of breaking that covenant applied not
just to him, but also to all that he represented.
covenant of the law of sin and death is stated in Genesis 2:16, 17 as
follows: "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of
the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou eatest
thereof thou shalt surely die."
"doctrine of federal headship" is alluded to in 1 Corinthians 15:22,
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
From this, of course, we gather that all that were in Adam, die. Just as
we gather that all that are in Christ are made alive. The most
comprehensive teaching on the "doctrine of federal headship" is found in
5:12 reads, "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and
death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have
sinned." Paul wrote this nearly two thousand years ago, long before any
of us existed except in the mind and purpose of God. Thus none of us
alive today had ever personally sinned when Paul wrote this epistle. Yet
Paul affirms that death passed upon all mankind for that all mankind had
sinned. Since we had not personally sinned, then how had we sinned? The
answer is "we sinned in Adam" as we were seminally in Adam and Adam was
our representative before God. Thus when the sentence of death passed
upon Adam as a result of his sin, that same sentence of death passed
5:13, 14 reads, "For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not
imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to
Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's
transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come." Simply stated
the above teaches us that God does not impute sin to us when there is no
law. A law must be given in order to have sin imputed against us. From
Adam to Moses no additional law, besides the "law of sin and death," had
been given to mankind. Furthermore, God had driven man from the garden
and fixed it so that man couldn't return to the garden. Thus none of the
subsequent offspring of Adam could return unto the garden and eat of the
forbidden fruit. They could not sin after the similitude of Adam's
transgression. Notwithstanding, death reigned over all mankind from Adam
to Moses even though they had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's
transgression and even though no other law had been given by which sin
could be imputed to them. What caused this reign of death? Though they
had not personally sinned, yet they sinned in Adam, as he represented
them in the garden of Eden.
Romans 5:15 teaches us that by the offence of Adam, the many in Adam are
dead. Furthermore, in Romans 5:16, we are taught that God's judgment
was, as a result of Adam's transgression, to condemn all mankind. Again
in Romans 5:17 we are taught that as a result of Adam's offence death
reigns over us. Romans 5:18 reads, "Therefore as by the offence of one
judgment came upon all men to condemnation..."
verse 19 says in parts, "For as by one man's disobedience many were made
sinners..." The results of all this can be summarized as follows:
1. Adam represented all mankind in the garden.
2. When Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, because
he represented us, it was as though all mankind had eaten of the
3. God's sentence of death upon Adam because of
sin was also a sentence of death upon all mankind because of the sin of
4. Death in all its aspects not only reigned
over Adam, it reigned over all mankind which were seminally in Adam and
sinned in Adam.
5. When Adam transgressed, his nature fell to a
sin‑cursed state. We were made sinners because of Adam's disobedience
and our nature is the same as Adam's sin‑cursed nature.