This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth: And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.(Genesis 5:1-5)
The Book of Genesis is divided into eleven sections, by the use of the “Toledoth” formula. “Toledoth” is the Hebrew word for “Generations”. Genesis contains the accounts of the ‘toledoth’ of the heavens and the earth, and of Adam, Noah, Shem,Ham and Japheth, Terah, Ishmael,Isaac, Esau, and finally of Jacob, each section being marked by the phrase ,”These are the generations of…”.
Note that God created Adam in His likeness, as we were told earlier in the creation account. But by the time Adam begat a son, it was ‘in his own likeness’ that he was begotten.. Adam was made “in the Image of God” but Seth was born in the ‘likeness and Image of Adam…” .
All of Adam’s children indeed bear the “Image and likeness of God...”. However there is also a sense in which we all inherit the ‘Image of Adam‘ also. As children of Adam we are born with a fallen nature, already corrupted, and estranged from God. As the first of the human race, Adam bore in himself the whole race, representing us in the garden.
When Adam fell away from God, we also fell away, in him, and we bear in our unregenerate nature the fallen and corrupted ‘image of Adam’. Thus king David laments in the penitential psalm,
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.(Psalm 51:5)
The Psalmist is not castigating his mother and father, nor the circumstances of his conception, rather King David is in horror realizing the totality of iniquity in his life, that he has been a sinner through and through since his very birth!
There is a mysterious solidarity of the human race,’from one blood He made us all”, we were all ‘in Adam’ and share not only the dignity inherent in being made ‘in the Image of God’ , but also in the fall and shame of Adam, and in his estrangement from God.
The New Testament bears this out, especially in the teaching of Paul, who revealed that in God’s economy there are two representative men, Adam or Christ, (the last Adam), in whom the entire human race are alternately identified.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.(I Corinthians 15:21-22)
By virtue of the first birth, we all bear the fallen nature of Adam, the transgressor. All of humanity shares in his shame, folly, corruption and rebellion, and all of us have personally repeated his defection from God, for we are “by nature, children of wrath…”(Ephesians 2).
But there is another Adam, the last Adam, who by his death and resurrection offers us a New Birth, we can receive a new nature, We can die a death,(out of Adam) and be born again(into Christ)!
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.(I Corinthians 15:45-48)
But all who are only born of Adam, must die, so Genesis 5 is among other things a litany of death. Begetting and dying, begetting and dying, begetting and dying for century after century the generations of Adam are living out the stern warning God gave Adam in the beginning,”The day you eat of this tree, you shall die…or literally, In dying you shall be dying.”
But this chapter isn’t only about the inheritance of a fallen nature, and centuries of birth and death. God is good, and where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. We come next to an amazing prophecy of hope hidden in the names of the line of Seth.