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... “The first man Adam became a living being;” the last Adam a life-giving spirit. BSB

... The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. ASV

... The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. ERV

It seems there is quite general agreement in most English bibles that the word 'became' is applied equally to both Adams. Often the second 'became' is dropped when referring to Jesus as in the BSB above.

Does the Greek give the implied support for this second application of 'became'?

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    The verb (KJV 'was made' ; YLT 'became') only occurs once at the beginning of the sentence. It is not repeated in the second clause, in reference to the 'quickening spirit'.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 14, 2021 at 13:48
  • This is a more important question than I originally realized. Uncreated Christ “became”? Thanks. I think it’s that “became” doesnt have to mean “first came into being”. Eg “Bob became a better man” doesnt mean he didn’t exist before.
    – Al Brown
    Sep 14, 2021 at 16:25

4 Answers 4

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The interlinear of 1 Cor 15:45 does not have the verb for “became” or “was made into” (egeneto) in the second part of the verse. It does however have the proposition eis, roughly “into”.

One possible view, presuming a little, is then:

45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made into living soul; the last Adam into life-giving spirit.

If we say the “became” is implied, then there are two interpretations, and I can see why op smelled a possible issue or contradiction.

  1. “Became” is implied and this entity which is the life-giving spirit did not exist at all and became (came into being as) life-giving spirit.

  2. Became is implied and this entity who was already around then became (transitioned into also being) life-giving spirit.

  3. “Became” is not implied.

In short, it must be 2 or 3.

I go with 2, it is about his transition/action into more fully giving of spirit-life when the law had been shown to not be life-giving. It must be one of the two, if not both. In other words, this process and/or event about the last Adam in v45 is immediately limited to the creation of Christ or the action of Him to become life-giving.

Christ is uncreated and eternally existent, neither 2 nor 3 contradicts standard canonical interpretation. It’s definitely not coincidence that egeneto is absent when talking about the Last Adam. And there is certainly a way in which the last Adam did not exist prior to the birth of Christ.


This also goes to pneuma being distinct from soul and being life-giving. And actually being Life. That’s the sense in which Adam and Eve died the very day they ate - their pneuma departed. Genuine life is inherently life-giving as well. For example, it is the same whether you say something is inspired/inspiring. Showing that Spirit is both life and life-giving. (“Inspiring” also connects spirit and air or breath.)

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    Thx, I don’t know what’s wrong with 1. There is no clear revelation for an eternally existent Christ. We made that bit up.However, I don't think this verse is about that. It goes beyond Christ being given life - spirit life he didn't have before, but being able to now give that life onward to others.
    – Steve
    Sep 14, 2021 at 22:42
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    I think the implication is that Jesus was at some point not a life-giving spirit which has implications for his status prior to becoming a life-giving spirit.
    – Austin
    Sep 21, 2021 at 18:34
  • @steveowen the basis for “made that bit up” is that the logos was in the beginning, and is God. And then others (not you) see an identity between logos and Jesus Christ, or at least between Logos and The Christ. That would make Jesus eternally existent. Even just Logos becoming incarnate, when that one spoke, He could sometimes speak as the Logos speaking through this incarnation. It’s not a separate fact being made up; it’s unavoidable implication of the identity (which you can claim the identity was made up, point is.. not a separate idea).
    – Al Brown
    Sep 21, 2021 at 22:49
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Berean Literal Bible 1 Cor 15:45b:

The first man Adam became [G1096]       into a living soul; 
 the last Adam                          into a life-giving spirit.

The Greek verb G1096 is supplied in the first clause. This verb is implied in the second verse as shown by the parallelism.

Westcott and Hort 1881:

Ἐγένετο ὁ πρῶτος ἄνθρωπος Ἀδὰμ          εἰς ψυχὴν ζῶσαν· 
ὁ ἔσχατος Ἀδὰμ                          εἰς πνεῦμα ζωοποιοῦν.

The Greek preposition εἰς (into) appears in both clauses.

It is a matter of translator style whether to show the implied G1096 or not, ASV:

The first man Adam     became a living soul. 
The last Adam          became a life-giving spirit. 

Either way in terms of the formal process of translation, there is little controversy about this. What do these lines mean, however, is a different question.

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Two things to consider:

  1. The Context

In 1 Cor. 15, Paul argued for a bodily resurrection. Of course he said the resurrected body is different than the physical body here on Earth.

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:53, ESV)

But, Greek philosophy argued that death released the spirit from the body so there was no need for a resurrection. Keep in mind the point Paul made.

  1. The Vocabulary and Grammar

οὕτως καὶ γέγραπται· ἐγένετο ὁ πρῶτος °ἄνθρωπος Ἀδὰμ εἰς ψυχὴν ζῶσαν, ὁ ἔσχατος °1Ἀδὰμ εἰς πνεῦμα ζῳοποιοῦν. (1 Cor. 15:45, NA28)

וַֽיְהִ֥י הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּֽה (from Gen. 2:7, MT)

With the first Adam "living" translates ζῶσαν.

With the last Adam "life giving" translates ζῳοποιοῦν that is a compound word. The previous word meaning alive, life, living with the verb ποιέω make; thus literally make alive = "life giving."

If you make ζῳοποιοῦν = ζῶσαν, you dimish Paul's point of a bodily resurrection and the need for Christ to make us alive.

15:44–45. A “natural” or “physical” body is literally a “soulish” body, in contrast to a “spiritual” body. Paul does not teach a future body made out of “spirit” (although the Stoics taught that spirit was a material substance), any more than a present body made out of “soul.” Rather, the present body is adapted for current natural existence, and the future body for the life even now ruled by God’s Spirit. In verse 45 Paul cites Genesis 2:7, where God made Adam a soul, a natural man; but many non-Palestinian Jews thought that Genesis 1:26–27 referred to a different, ideal man, the pure form and model for humanity, and Paul may play on this tradition here. -- Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (1 Co 15:44–45). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

  1. "Become" is understood from the preposition εἰς. However, ἐγένετο only occurs with the first Adam. It is understood with the last Adam.

13.62 ἀπό … εἰς; εἰςk: markers of a change of state—‘from … to, to, for.’ -- Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 155). New York: United Bible Societies.

The new state of "giving spiritual life" was a matter of becoming through Christ's sacrificial death and his resurrection, not a matter of him being created. It refers to Christ's resurrected body. Paul was not just arguing for the resurrection. He was also arguing for Christ's resurrection.

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Cor. 15:12-20)

Note another reference to a change in state:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, ESV)

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  • Op is saying that the verse says Christ was created. Thats the question.
    – Al Brown
    Sep 14, 2021 at 16:18
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    @Al Added to answer in edit.
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 14, 2021 at 16:38
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    Εις here has the idea of change in state although από for the previous state is not present. That is where *became" comes from.
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 14, 2021 at 17:12
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    That’s not what I was thinking at all. This isn’t really about whether Jesus was made or not. Adam lived! Jesus too, but he can also (now) give life to others!
    – Steve
    Sep 14, 2021 at 21:04
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    I added "It refers to Christ's resurrected body" in case someone missed that point.
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 15, 2021 at 9:24
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Christ rises out of the dead. He rose out of the first Adam. A new form of life emerges as a life-giving spirit. He is the first fruit. More fruit to follow.

And now, Christ hath risen out of the dead — the first-fruits of those sleeping he became, for since through man [is] the death, also through man [is] a rising again of the dead, for even as in Adam all die, so also in the Christ all shall be made alive, and each in his proper order, a first-fruit Christ,<

But some one will say, ‘How do the dead rise? Unwise ! thou — what thou dost sow is not quickened except it may die; and that which thou dost sow, not the body that shall be dost thou sow, but bare grain, it may be of wheat, or of some one of the others, God doth give to it a body according as He willed, and to each of the seeds its proper body. 1 cor. 15.35-38<

A brand new creation has sprung up out of the dead.

He still died as a man, was buried as a man but rose out of the dead. He is what the new man looks like that sprang up with a new heavenly image referred to as the second Adam… The spiritual Adam that was always meant to be.

The first Adam was destined to die because it was the natural man, it was of the earth. God sure did an amazing thing when he put Adam in his garden and soon started dying even though he lived a long time. A tree can live for a long long time but it's still dying while it's alive.

Even while they were dying Adam prophesied that Eve would be the mother of all living. Now we know how that came to be. (Life out of the death of her seed)

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all the living. Genesis 3:20. It's interesting that this was spoken right after the Lord said that Adam would be returning to dust because that's what he came from.

Humanity seems to be the way to bring forth a new creation, one that will be raised Incorruptible and will put on immortality. It looks like the first man was only part of the process, In order for the last Adam bringing forth a life giving spirit.

So also [is] the rising again of the dead: it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; 43it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body; there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body;<

so also it hath been written, ‘The first man Adam became a living creature,’ the last Adam [is] for a life-giving spirit, <

But that which is spiritual [is] not first, but that which [was] natural, afterwards that which [is] spiritual. The first man [is] out of the earth, earthy; the second man [is] the Lord out of heaven; as [is] the earthy, such [are] also the earthy; and as [is] the heavenly, such [are] also the heavenly; and, according as we did bear the image of the earthy, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly.<

…23But Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Truly, truly, I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24<

Thanks for your question as this had helped me to see more clearly that the two Adams are not two separate creations so to speak. It's one emerging out of the others death of the original Adam bringing forth a new creation That will never die!

So I would say the first Adam came into being… (became) And out of that being came a different form of life from the death of the old.

It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So The first man Adam became a living being; ”the last Adam a life-giving spirit. <

I always thought it was two separate lives until I studied this out and now see it differently.

So now to your question of what is the better translation.

the first man Adam became a living being;” the last Adam a life-giving spirit. BSB<

Or

the first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. ASV<

I would go with the first one.

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