I can’t resist. JRD Kirk just posted a blog wondering aloud whether Adam and Eve were really the first created people, launching from a text in the pseudepigraphal Apocalypse of Abraham. It demonstrates that at least in one stream of Jewish thought, Adam and Eve were not believed to be the first man and woman, but were created in order to assist the Lord in bringing an already wayward creation into alignment.
From the basis of the biblical narrative itself, it is evident that not everything is paradise for Adam and Eve, even before the Fall. In Genesis 1:28, they are commanded to subdue the earth and rule over the creation. If all was perfect, then what needed to be brought into subjugation? If all was serene, why the need for governance? And from where, exactly, did this already rebellious serpent appear in chapter 3?
There is a thread, throughout Scripture, of people who are uniquely called to rule the earth on God’s behalf. They are chosen, in one way or another, to be in relationship with the Creator, to be shaped by that relationship, and to govern the world in God’s name – to do what God would do if He were physically there.
Interestingly, each one of these figures, whether individually or collectively, receive the title, “son of God.” It’s true of Israel, as a nation, which was supposed to model for the world the way and the blessings of the true Creator (Exo 4:22-23; Dt 14:1; Isa 43:6; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10; 11:1). It is true of the kings of Israel, called sons of God because of their role in leading the people of God before the world (2 Sam 7:14). Of course, Jesus is the perfect son of God because he actually fulfills these roles successfully. And it is said of all who enter the people of God on the basis of their faith in the Christ (Rom 8:12-21; Eph 1:5; 1 Jn 3:1-2).
And, indeed, Luke calls Adam a son of God at the conclusion to the genealogy of Jesus (3:38). Adam may not have been the first man created, but he was certainly the first man commissioned to govern on God’s behalf.