Adam is the first man mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Indeed, Adam is not only the name of this individual but also the Hebrew for a male human and for humanity itself.
Many believe that Adam was a historical figure; some that he was the first ever man, others that he was an early leader. However, others consider him no more that a character in a creation myth. The ongoing debate concerning these issues is beyond the scope of this page except to note that to Jesus and his disciples Adam was a historical figure.
The Bible portrays Adam as both unique and archetypical; the first human to enjoy a personal relationship with God and the first entrusted by God with responsibility for all creation. This relationship with God was Adam’s source of life and significance, it was also the basis upon which all biblical priesthood depended. However, lured by the desire for power, Adam decided for himself what to call good and what evil. By doing so, he, sacrificed both his relationship with God and the paradise that God wanted him to enjoy.
Adam’s choice was the root of everything that the Bible calls ‘sin’ and from that point onward, the biblical account is concerned with how imperfect humanity can maintain their relationship with God. The Bible teaches that, with the exception of Jesus, everyone copies Adam’s choice. Therefore, as God is just, he must judge everyone as he judged Adam. However, God is merciful and devises ways so that men may continue to enjoy his presence. At first this took the form of serving God and offering animal sacrifices. However, following the crucifixion of Christ, the Bible presents serving Jesus and identifying with his suffering as the only way still available to deal with the consequence of sin.