Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism Sacred Doctrine

Did Adam Know His Liberator Would Be the God-Man?

Niels Hemmingsen (yes, him again) thought so–particularly from God’s words in Genesis 3.

At the beginning of the chapter of his Enchiridion Theologicum called Promissio Reparationis, sive Evangelium (“The Promise of Restoration, or the Gospel”) he discusses the teaching he believes to be present in Genesis 3:15, which, he says, is the first place in which the “word of promise” is found.

First, he believes that the promise teaches a doctrine of “two kingdoms” or “realms” (de duobus regnis)–but here the kingdoms are those of the Devil and of Christ. Next, it teaches that these two kingdoms will be opposed to one another. Next, it teaches that the Church will always be persecuted while in its militant stage before the final, eschatological triumph. Next, it teaches that the Church will finally triumph–“through the Seed of the woman, that is, through Christ” (per Semen Mulieris, hoc est, per Christum).

After listing some proof-texts for the the repetition of the promise elsewhere in Scripture, he writes that Adam and Even knew that their “Liberator” promised here would be both God and man:

Adam and Even were set upright again by this word of promise; and they were sustaining themselves by firm trust [fiducia] in this promised liberator. Nor could they be ignorant that this liberator was God, because he was going to assume a human nature in which he could become the sacrificial victim for sin–a thing about which they were taught through the sacrifices instituted by God. For just as they knew that the Devil would be unconquered by all creatures, so the word of promise demonstrated the true humanity of the liberator.1

A redeemer had been promised in Gen. 3:15; this redeemer would have to suffer for sin, as the sacrifices taught; he would have to be a man because man is the one who owes a debt of sin; yet there is no creature that can conquer the Devil; therefore the promised redeemer must be God Himself, having taken on true humanity to suffer in man’s stead.

  1. The translation is my own.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.