1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 6.3 The Corruption of Mankind

Table of Contents

The Text

Titus 3:3 (CSB) For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.

The Chapter

They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.

The Confession

They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation

Romans 5:12–19 (CSB) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned. In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to a person’s account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam’s transgression. He is a type of the Coming One. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by the one man’s trespass the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift which comes through the grace of the one man Jesus Christ overflowed to the many. And the gift is not like the one man’s sin, because from one sin came the judgment, resulting in condemnation, but from many trespasses came the gift, resulting in justification. If by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is justification leading to life for everyone. For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

1 Corinthians 15:21–49 (CSB) For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at his coming, those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he abolishes all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death. For God has put everything under his feet. Now when it says “everything” is put under him, it is obvious that he who puts everything under him is the exception. When everything is subject to Christ, then the Son himself will also be subject to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all. Otherwise what will they do who are being baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are people baptized for them? Why are we in danger every hour? I face death every day, as surely as I may boast about you, brothers and sisters, in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus as a mere man, what good did that do me? If the dead are not raised, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Come to your senses and stop sinning; for some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame. But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have when they come?” You fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow—you are not sowing the body that will be, but only a seed, perhaps of wheat or another grain. But God gives it a body as he wants, and to each of the seeds its own body. Not all flesh is the same flesh; there is one flesh for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is different from that of the earthly ones. There is a splendor of the sun, another of the moon, and another of the stars; in fact, one star differs from another star in splendor. So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power; sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written, The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. Like the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; like the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

In all of the theological terms that are used in church, the term, Federal headship, is rarely used and probably get more confused looks from even the more theological astute members of your church. It is not a term that we use often.

But in the Reformed tradition, it is oft-famous passage of the comparison of the First and Second Adams in Romans 5:12-21.

When God made the covenant with Adam:

Genesis 2:15-17 (CSB) The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”


Genesis 1:26 (CSB) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

... it was contingent on if Adam did what God said, he would be live with God and rule over the earth and do so forever.

So in this, God had marked Adam, his first image-bearing creation, as the federal head of all of mankind. He was the representative of all of mankind. Think that about that weight of responsibility. Yet, whatever tasks that God has for us, he gives the grace to do his will.

Ligonier Ministries quotes Dr. James M. Boice. He:

argues that it was because the people of the pre-law age had sinned “in Adam.” Because he was the God-appointed representative for all humanity, God counted his sin as their sin and imposed on them the guilt and penalty he incurred.1


Federalism, Boice says, is “a proof of God’s grace,” for while the failure of our first federalhead brought terrible results, federalism “was the only way it would later be possible forGod to save us once we had sinned.” This is a difficult subject, and we must pray for graceto trust God’s wisdom and the testimony of His Word as we study it. 2

being now conceived in sin

Psalm 51:5 (CSB) Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.

Job 14:4 (CSB) Who can produce something pure from what is impure? No one!

There are too paths for mankind to proceed after sin entered the world: reproduce or die. There is no third option. Despite the brokenness of the world, there are some couples who have been blessed by God to have babies. But these babies born, since we are all born sons and daughters of Adam, have been conceived with indwelling sin.

and by nature children of wrath

Ephesians 2:3 (CSB) We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

In John's Gospel, chapter 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus that for one to see the kingdom of God, you must be born again. This leads into the defining and the most famous verse of all time:

John 3:16 (CSB) For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

With all the brokenness of our born selves, there is hope--God has to rebirth you. But what if you are not born again?

John 3:36 (CSB) The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who rejects the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.

How do you believe in the Son? You must be born again! Why? Because if you are not born again, then the wrath of God remains on you because you have inherited sin from Adam. Are you human? Then you are a descendant of Adam. If you are a descendant of Adam, the you were conceived with sin and by nature a child of wrath.

the servants of sin, the subjects of death

Romans 6:20 (CSB) For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness.

Romans 5:12 (CSB) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.

One of the hills I am willing to fight on was the righteousness of Noah. Mostly because I was always taught that Noah was righteous all of his days and that is why Noah was saved by God.

But look at the text:

Genesis 6:5-6 (CSB) When the LORD saw that human wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time, the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and he was deeply grieved.

Was Noah a son of Adam? Yes. Did he have a human mind? Also, yes. Was every inclination of Noah was nothing but evil all the time? Yes.

If Noah was evil, why did God save him?

Genesis 6:7-8 (CSB) Then the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I created, off the face of the earth, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky — for I regret that I made them.” Noah, however, found favor with the LORD.

Noah, for no other reason, found favor with the Lord because God alone is good and all he does is good and he is the only one who saves. That is it.

John 1:12–13 (CSB) But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.

Noah was not only not good, not righteous but just as wicked as the rest of mankind. But God saved him.

It was only when God gives him grace that he is now made righteous:

Genesis 6:9 (CSB) These are the family records of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his contemporaries; Noah walked with God.

The Bible does not have more than one way to be saved by God. There is not a gospel for the goody two-shoes people and a gospel for the rapscallions of the world. No! All have sin and fallen short of the glory of God. We have all have broken all of the law of God. No one is righteous. No not one.

It was our born selves that were servants of sin and subjects of death.

and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.

Hebrews 2:14–15 (CSB) Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 (CSB) and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

There are not multiple ways out this life. There is no two gospels. There is not a gospel for the Jews and a different gospel for the Gentiles. For:

Romans 1:16 (CSB) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

There is just one good news and that is God saves sinners through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Believe on him and trust in him and you will be saved.


James M. Boice, Romans: An Exposition of Chapter 5:12–21 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991). As taken from Our First Federal Head 2: Ibid.