Natural First, Spiritual Last
By: Date: May 12, 2017 Categories: Uncategorized

In the previous post we explored a rule for interpretation of types and figures in the Bible. Now let’s look at another. In 1 Cor. 15:44-46 Paul writes:

There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.

He offers the example of Adam as the natural man who came first, with Jesus the spiritual man coming afterward, calling him the “last Adam.”

Types occur in pairs (dyads) and threes (triads), with the natural or earthly example first, and the spiritual or heavenly example last. We see this particularly in the stories of people from the Bible. This pattern in the lives of Bible characters is illustrated in greater length in my book, The Two Breads.

Other examples include Esau—the worldly twin—being born first, and Jacob—the worldly failure—taking second place, his hand grasping his brother’s heel. At the end of the story Esau is cursed, elevating Jacob to the position of firstborn. 

Jacob chose Rachel first, but Christ’s lineage came from Leah, the wife he put second. 

Saul was the king the people asked for, but David was the king after God’s own heart, whose kingdom endures forever. Saul was never able to throw off Philistine rule, but David did, and afterward he established the Kingdom. 2 Sam 7:11-14 reads:

“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son.

David, in turn, is the earthly king that builds Jerusalem and establishes the Kingdom of Israel, while the heavenly Son of David builds the New Jerusalem, and establishes the Kingdom of Heaven. 

In each instance we see a principle of interpretation, as Jesus says in Mt. 20:16, “So the last will be first, and the first last.” At the end of the story, the spiritual man or woman receives preeminence, and the earthly man or woman takes last place. 

Go Deeper: Hidden Triad in Ruth