Kasemann On the Adam-Jesus Typology in Romans 5:11-21

“His [Jesus’] reign, however, represents God’s lordship before its final victory and it finds expression precisely in the justification of the ungodly as the sphere of the commenced new creation. Even now, then, we participate in the life of the new world…

For Paul the reign of Christ replaces that of Adam. The ontological structure of his anthropology remains determined by lordship as in the old aeon. Analogy can arise between Adam and Christ only because both establish dominion over existence and the world… 

The difference in the antithetical correspondence which establishes the infinite superiority of Christ and his kingdom arises out of the reality. This enables us to see the limit of the concept “bearer of destiny,” at least so far as Christ is concerned. Its justification lies in the analogical structure. We never stand at the beginning in such a way that the alternative of Adam and Christ is not already present. In fact, the whole world is determined by this alternative and our existence becomes the place of the concrete battle between them. Insofar as we are integrated into Christ’s reign, and remain in him, we owe this not to ourselves, but to the grace which possesses and sustains us as the ability to stand outside ourselves before God through Christ. As from Adam on the curse that has invaded all time and space is already present to us, no less is the blessing which is established universally throughout time and space by Christ and which spreads abroad in his kingdom. We do not constitute either the one or the other but we are instruments of either the one or the other and to that extent we receive “destiny” therefore for ourselves and our world. Christ, however, shatters subjection to the Adamic world of sin and death by setting the world before its Creator again and by setting us in the state of creatureliness. Since the Adamic world is present and seems to prevail, this has to be continually reaccepted in faith. Received blessing brands us but it also sets us in conflict and contradiction. It places us before the need to persevere and in the possibility of relapse. It is not an irrevocable destiny which puts an end to the history of existence and the world. It gives free play to real history by making it the place, not of fallenness and doom, but of the assaulted freedom of faith and of the grace which is to be seized unceasingly in renunciation of the old aeon.”

-Ernst Kasemann, Commentary On Romans (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1980), 155-156

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