Jesus is referred to as the last Adam and the second man. Why? Why that order of words? Why not, the second Adam and the last man? In fact, Paul deliberately used those words. Lets look at the text:
So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.
The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.
As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.
Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. (I Corinthians 15.45-48)
When Paul wrote verse 45, he was quoting Genesis 2.7 “And man became a living being”. Paul added in the words “first” and “Adam” deliberately to make it “The first man (Gk. anthropos), Adam (Gk. Adam), became a living soul” and followed it up with mention of the second Adam.
In the very next verse, he mentions Adam again, this time calling him the “first man” and again follows it up with mention of Jesus – instead of the last Adam, he now calls him the second man.
There is a specific reason for this. God created Adam and Eve and set them into a perfect world. And wanted them to live a life of fellowship with Him. But, the first Adam sinned and dragged the entire human race down with him. Ever since that point, we have been living apart from God. Then God, seeing our helplessness to save ourselves, sent His Son, Jesus Christ. The last Adam. Jesus lived the kind of life that Adam and mankind were supposed to live but didnt. As the last Adam, Jesus fulfilled every requirement of the holy law of God. Wherever the first Adam failed, the last Adam succeeded. Then at the end, after demonstrating the ideal Adamic life, Jesus died. The Last Adam died. When Ken Watanabe died in that 2003 movie as the Last Samurai, it signified the end of the samurais. When the Last Adam died, it signified the end of that particular human race.
Three days later, Jesus rose again. No one had done that before. He didn’t rise up as the last Adam. That race was done with. He was beginning a new race, if you will. A Second race. The first human race that began with Adam in the Garden of Eden ended on the cross in Golgotha. Now, manifested in Joseph’s Garden outside the city of Jerusalem, the Second man arose. And He began the second race. A different race. No longer will we be under the curse and the hopelessness of that first race. In Jesus Christ, we are a new race. Thus when we become believers in Jesus Christ, we don’t become like Adam before he sinned in the Garden of Eden. No. We become part of the new race that Jesus started. A victorious race living under the blessing of the life of Jesus. A new kind of being, even better than Adam. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.
Jesus was crucified as the Last Adam and was resurrected as the Second Man.