“Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life‑giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).
Of the two natures, human nature and spirit nature, Br. Charles T. Russell wrote in R1259:5: “As surely as there are natural, human or earthly bodies, so surely also there is such a thing as a heavenly or spirit body.”
Adam was the first human man and all the peoples of the earth are descended from Adam, no matter how different in color, stature, intelligence, etc. they may now be (R2344:6). Adam generated no children until first Eve had been taken from his side (R4556:2). The first Adam is the sample of what an earthly body will attain to in the resurrection. (R1855:2, R3564:3).
The Apostle Paul in this statement from 1 Corinthians 15:45 does not contrast Adam and Jesus, but speaks of the “first Adam” and the “last Adam.” Christ is very unlike Adam. Jesus was obedient. However, Adam and Eve in some respects foreshadowed Christ and the Church in the sense that Christ will be the Great Life‑giver, or Father of mankind, while the Church (Hebrews 12:23, 2 Timothy 2:10) will be the mother or caretaker of the regenerated hosts (R5141:5, 777:1).
Jesus as the “Last Adam”
Jesus, as a “last Adam,” presently lifts us from condemnation and restores us to the fellowship of God through redemption. The saints have been regenerated by our Lord from heaven, but rather than grow to human perfection, they sacrifice their justified bodies in the service of Christ for a higher calling, the “High calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). These, if faithful to their calling, will become, symbolically, a spiritual “bride” for Christ (Revelation 21:2). Then Christ and the Church will together restore and uplift the world, and bring them back to perfection during the Millennium. In this way Christ will be a “second Adam” or life giver to the world, and the Church will be a second “Eve” to nurture and assist them.
Adam was made a living soul since he was given a natural body, which is earthly. The “last Adam,” or life‑giving being, is Jesus, who from his resurrection forward is a glorious spirit being of highest magnitude.
“Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3, KJV).
Eve was drawn from Adam when his side was opened up after he passed into a deep sleep. She was formed from a rib of Adam, “bone of my bones” (Genesis 2:23). Jesus also was caused to pass into a deep sleep, the sleep of death, and then his side was opened up by the spear of the soldier at the cross (John 19:34). From this came blood and water, which represents redemption and the water of the Spirit, by which the Church class is developed.
The Church class are “bone” of Jesus’ bones, in the sense that bones represent one’s hopes for the future. We share the same hopes for glory in the service of God, as our Lord Jesus had. Of Jesus it was said that “A bone of him shall not be broken” (John 19:36). That means that despite the tortuous trials and treatment suffered by Jesus, not one of his prospects for the future was in the least damaged. Those same prospects are sure for his bride also, “bone” of his bones.
The Bride of Christ shall be made Christ’s joint‑heir and help mate in the Kingdom who’s role will be to nourish and instruct all the willing and obedient back into harmony with God during the Millennial age (R4556:2, R5967).
“The plan of God proposes that the second Adam shall in relation to Adam take his place as the life‑giver to a race who shall possess the earth and enjoy it… as Father to our race does our Lord correspond to Adam—as the second Adam” (R4556:2). He is called the second Adam, in that he takes the place of the first Adam—undertakes to be the Father and life‑giver to Adam and every member of his race” (Expanded Biblical Comments). Upon condition of their obedience to him, they may then obtain everlasting life.
Our Redeemer presently enlivens us, in the respect that our old nature has been lifted from condemnation. This allows us to present ourselves in devotion and service to God, in order that we may grow a new life, a spiritual life, a heavenly life, to be secured in the first resurrection. Of that life God is Father, our “Heavenly Father.” “In accepting Christ as Redeemer, the believing one is reckoned no longer as a dying son of the dead Adam, but as a living son of the ‘last Adam,’ having a new life in Christ” (R1438:1). Our renewed standing is then laid down in sacrifice to God for the prospect of a heavenly life above. Our higher prospect is mentioned in Ephesians 2:6, NIV, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”
How Long from the Creation of Adam to the Millennial Reign of the “Last Adam”?
The period in question, judging by the Hebrew Scriptures, was on the order of 4000 years. As we are now on the order of 2000 years further, brethren of our fellowship recognize that it is now timely for the blessed Kingdom of God to become established on Earth. For there is a long standing view, held even by Jewish Sages in pre‑Christian times, that God intended a millennium of blessing for the world following six millenniums of sin and death.
The Holy Scriptures refer to a “day” with God as a thousand years:
“A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday [one day] when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4).
“With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).
By this measure, the six days of labor in the Jewish economy represent 6000 years of sin and death, and the sabbath of rest represents the 1000 year Millennium of restoration (Revelation 20:1‑6).
Ezekiel 46:1 (ESV) expresses this concept symbolically. “Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day [the 7th day, which represents the Millennial Age of Revelation 20:4‑6] it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon [when a new covenant will be inaugurated with Israel] it shall be opened.”
With this hope in mind, Christians throughout history have endeavoured to estimate when the close of 6000 years may come.
A Historical Perspective
In the days of William Miller and the early Adventist Movement, they supposed 6000 years were drawing to a close in the mid 1800s. In fact, William Miller concluded that Christ would return in 1843, assuming that 6000 years would end then. When Christ did not return as expected, some brethren gave up their faith but others simply recognized that they needed to keep looking. Br. Nelson Barbour was among those. He came to believe that Jesus would return in 1873. Therefore, he assumed that 6000 years would end about that time. He went looking, and found in EB Elliott’s work, “Horae Apocalypticae,” written in the early 1800s, a version of Bible chronology suggested there that shows how 6000 years might conclude somewhere near the year 1872.
Br. Barbour was a younger associate of Br. Miller, so he followed Br. Miller’s assumption that 6000 years would approximately mark the return of Christ. As far as we know, Br. Barbour did not consider another option—namely that 6000 years would take us to the completion of the Church, rather than simply to the return of Christ.
Br. Russell met Br. Barbour in Philadelphia in 1876, and accepted the prophetic package, as it seemed reasonable. At the time they anticipated that the Church would be complete in 1878, after that they supposed it would be in 1881, and subsequently the expectation was reset to 1914. But concerns persisted. It seemed that a seventh “day” had commenced, and yet the “thousand years” of Revelation 20:4,6, was deferred. How could this be explained?
Some of the dear brethren seem unaware of the perplexity expressed on this issue by Pastor Russell himself. However, his words are clear and to the point about the uncertainty. It thus surprises us that even some who honor and revere his service bypass the important and specific points he advised brethren of, respecting this. However, the issue did not escape the attention of brethren in Pastor Russell’s own day. Thus, near the end of the year 1900, the following specific question was submitted to Pastor Russell.
“I understand from Revelation 20:4-6 that Christ will reign one thousand years, and from verses 2 and 7 that Satan will be bound during that period. If Christ began to reign in 1878, and Satan will not be bound until 1915, the two periods do not seem to synchronize; and … both extend beyond the seventh-thousand year period which … began in the Autumn of 1872. … Can you assist me?” (R2739)
Pastor Russell’s answer is very different from what some appear to suppose it should have been.
Some today appear to suppose that the right answer would have been, “The reign, the binding of Satan, and the 1000 years all began in 1874.”
But not a word of this in Pastor Russell’s actual reply.
Instead, he refers to the “obscurity” of the issue as “an open question” that, at the time, was “not now ‘meat in due season for the household of faith.’ ” However, Pastor Russell did affirm the following part of the answer.
“The Scripture declaration respecting the saints, the ‘overcomers’ is, ‘They lived and reigned a thousand years.’ The reign of the saints cannot be properly said [R2740: page 368] to begin before all the ‘jewels’ have been gathered, nor before ‘the times of the Gentiles’ end, in 1914.”
It is clear from this direct answer to the brother’s question—on an issue that was declared as of then unresolved—that the 1000 years of Revelation 20:6 would not begin until the Church was complete. It was not apparent how this synchronized with the then-current view that 6000 years had been completed.
Pastor Charles Russell continued to affirm his view that the 1000 years of Revelation 20 would not commence until the Church was completed. Nor does he express any view other than this, respecting Revelation 20 directly. In R3460 (Diagram 3), you will find a diagram showing 1000 years beginning in 1914, when he supposed the Church to be complete. He later supplemented this with the following comments in later years.
R5115 — “The Church shall have passed into glory … Messiah will then reign for a thousand years.”
R5919 — “The Kingdom cannot come until the Royal Family is ready to take the Throne. Jesus, indeed, has long been ready; but in harmony with the Father’s Plan He has waited and has been doing a work in the preparation of the Church, His brethren, who are to be His joint-heirs in the Kingdom—otherwise styled ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife.’ (Romans 8:17; Revelation 21:9,10.) Then for a thousand years the Restitution privileges will be open to the whole world of mankind. It will no longer be necessary to preach; for all will know the Lord, from the least unto the greatest, and unto Him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. (Jeremiah 31:34; Philippians 2:9-11.)”
There is more. Sometime late in the year 1913, Br. Russell changed the chart to accord with the expression cited just above. Early on, the period from the parousia of Christ forward was labeled “Millennial Age.” But late in 1913, Pastor Russell changed the designation to the broad “Messianic Age.”
Why this change?
The reason seems apparent. Strictly speaking, the 1000 years of Revelation 20:4-6 would not begin until the end of the Harvest. Thus, if one begins a period incipiently from the parousia forward, better to give it a more general designation, “Messianic Age,” to avoid the inference that the 1000 years proper, of Revelation 20:4-6, had commenced.
A perceptive awareness of these points is the foundation for a recent presentation by Br. George Tabac, “Harvest Timing Clarifications,” which explains these points in remarkable detail. This presentation is specially excellent for brethren with high regard for the teaching of Pastor Russell.
What is the Answer?
What, then, is the answer to the question that has spurred so much discussion during the Harvest period? Namely—how does one reconcile the end of 6000 years early in the harvest of the Gospel Age, with the fact that the thousand years of Revelation 20:4-6 begins at the close of the harvest?
The answer is now at hand.
In the century and a half since the harvest began, and decades after Pastor Russell completed his course, the history of the Old Testament has clarified.
Not because of the wisdom of men, but because it was God’s due time for greater clarity, to direct the Church to the approaching climax of their hopes.
The timeline from the Hebrew scriptures directly, respecting the synchronisms of the kings of Israel and Judah, shows that some of the kings of Judah (and of Israel) overlapped one another, in periods of coregencies. The testimony of these facts comes from the scriptures directly. However, the issues had not been solved while Pastor Russell lived. It was premature. “We may see some day just how [these synchronisms in the Hebrew Scriptures] can be harmonized, but at present we do not” (Question Book, page 42).
The overlapping of Judean kings, testified to in the Old Testament Scriptures, reduces the period of Kings from 513 years to 463 years. Affixing the end of this period to the firm date of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, establishes the year in which Israel’s last king, Zedekiah, lost his throne, was in 587 bc.
This means that we can now date the spring of Solomon’s fourth year to 966 bc, at which time was founded (but not yet operational) “Solomon’s Temple,” referred to in 1 Kings 6:1. From that text we can then place the Exodus at 1445 bc. (Note: 1445 bc is discussed in the following post: STUDY 2: The Pillar of Cloud by Day and The Pillar of Smoke by Night.)
As detailed in Volume Two of Studies in the Scriptures—“The Time is at Hand,” by Br. Charles Russell (page 43-47)—the time from Adam to the Exodus is widely agreed among brethren to be 2513 years. That is:
- 427 years more (based on Genesis 7:6; 9:29; 21:5 and Genesis chapter 11 and 12,) to the Abrahamic Covenant and
- 430 years more to the Exodus. (See Genesis 11-12; 21:5; 25:7; Exodus 12:40-42; 40:2, 7.)
If we now count from the Exodus date of 1445 bc, a period of 2513 years backward to Adam, the result is the date 3958 bc for the creation of Adam. Six thousand years forward from there will be the year 2043 ad—thus the date opening the Seventh Millennium, which apparently is the same as the 1000 year Millennium of Revelation chapter 20.
Now the answer to the conundrum that Pastor Russell said was an “open question” in his day, can be resolved—for it is timely, inasmuch as the end of the harvest approaches. The resolution is straight forward. The end of 6000 years of permission of evil synchronizes with the close of the harvest, rather than with the opening of the harvest. With this key, all is harmonious.
- Br. David Rice—editing and content, May, 2017.
- Br. George Tabac, “Harvest Timing Clarifications” —YouTube presentation, July, 2016.
- Br. George Tabac, “Harvest Timing Clarifications”—Written Script and Video, December, 2015.
- Br. Charles T. Russell, “Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” “Expanded Biblical Comments” — http://www.htdbv8.com/ (Purchase hard copy—https://chicagobible.org/product/expanded‑biblical‑comments/)