The Heavenly Adam

God made Adam "in His image," but what is the image of the invisible God? What, or who, is the image of God?

The Creation of Adam – An illustration of the famous section from the Sistine Chapel fresco by Michelangelo. (Image © FFOZ)

B'reisheet

Regular Shabbat Readings

Read / Listen to these Portions

  • B'reisheet (בראשית | In the beginning)
  • Torah: Genesis 1:1-6:8
  • Haftarah: Isaiah 42:5-43:10
  • Gospel: John 1:1-17

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Genesis 1:1 | Six Days of Creation and the Sabbath
    • Genesis 2:4 | Another Account of the Creation
    • Genesis 3:1 | The First Sin and Its Punishment
    • Genesis 4:1 | Cain Murders Abel
    • Genesis 4:17 | Beginnings of Civilization
    • Genesis 5:1 | Adam's Descendants to Noah and His Sons
    • Genesis 6:1 | The Wickedness of Humankind
    • Genesis 6:9 | Noah Pleases God
  • Prophets
    • Isaiah 42:1 | The Servant, a Light to the Nations
    • Isaiah 42:10 | A Hymn of Praise
    • Isaiah 42:21 | Israel's Disobedience
    • Isaiah 43:1 | Restoration and Protection Promised

Portion Summary

The scroll of the Torah is the oldest and most sacred of all Israel's Scriptures. It contains five books. The Hebrew name for the first one is B'reisheet (בראשית). It is also the first word of the book in the Hebrew text, as well as the name for the first parasha (the first week's reading). B'reisheet means "in the beginning."

The English name Genesis comes from the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Genesis means "origins." Therefore, the Greek name for the first book of the Bible means "The Book of Origins."

Genesis describes the origins of everything. It begins with the origins of the universe, focuses on the origins of man and then explores the origins of the nation of Israel.

As we study the first week's reading from the book of Genesis, we will learn a great deal about God, but even more about ourselves. After all, this is the story of our origins. When properly understood, the story of our origin helps us find our destination.


The mystics say that God made Adam in the image of the Heavenly Adam, the firstborn of all creation, the spiritual image of God. The theology of the heavenly Adam attempts to reconcile the conflict between the idea that God is incorporeal, that is without image and form, and the idea that man is created in the image of God.

The apostles say, "Yeshua is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15). "He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature" (Hebrews 1:3).

Paul also alludes to the same mystical ideas when he states: “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly [i.e., Adam], we will also bear the image of the heavenly [i.e., Yeshua]” (1 Corinthians 15:49). Paul calls Adam “the first Adam” and Messiah “the second Adam.” According to Paul, “The first Adam is from the earth, earthy; the second Adam is from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:47), “an impression of Him who was to come” (Romans 5:14). That is to say that Adam was made in the image of Messiah.

Tz’nah Ur’enah says, “Just as Adam was created in God’s image, so the Messiah is anointed by God, and God’s Spirit will be upon him.” God created Adam in His image, and the Messiah is the image of God: “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15); “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Luke even refers to Adam as “the son of God” (Luke 3:38).

The Messiah, as the second Adam, provides humanity with a fresh start. In Messiah, the human race can go back to Eden, so to speak, and start over in perfect innocence and righteousness.

Adam’s name means “man.” Sin and death came to humanity as the result of one man’s sin. Through one single act of disobedience, Adam forfeited his right to the tree of life, so human death came through Adam. Death came “even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam” (Romans 5:14), which is to say that everyone dies.

It does seem frightfully unfair that one man’s single transgression consigns all humanity to death, but it is equally unfair that one man’s righteousness also offers all of humanity the reward of righteousness: “The right to the tree of life” (Revelation 22:14). Those who cast their allegiance with “the last Adam,” the life-giving Spirit, receive that reward.

Messiah is a second Adam, but unlike the first Adam, He did not transgress. If the first Adam’s sin was sufficient to merit death for all mankind, the righteousness of Messiah—the last Adam—is sufficient to merit life for all of us: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). This is the hope of eternal life through the resurrection of the dead. Resurrection reverses Adam’s bane.

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Adapted From:

Shadows of the Messiah

An eye-opening, year-long discovery of Messiah in the books of Moses. Learn to see Messiah on every page of Torah! Great source material for personal study, riveting sermons, and small group bible studies!

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