Is the Adamic Work of Christ Shared with the Believer? A Critique of Van Drunen

One of the ongoing debates in Reformed theology is how Christians are to engage with the wider culture. David Van Drunen’s book “Living in God’s two Kingdoms” provides a clear presentation of a two kingdoms approach to cultural engagement and is written to challenge the “vision that the redemptive transformation of culture is central to the Christian life”. This article aims to show how Van Drunen’s misreading of the covenant with Adam sets him on the wrong course, and leads to conclusions which are at odds with the New Testament’s description of the Christian life. He fails to see that alongside an “exile paradigm” for believers in this age, the New Testament also describes a “conquest paradigm”, and he misses how the New Testament teaches that in Christ believers share in Christ’s Adamic work.

One of the ongoing debates in reformed theology is how Christians are to engage with the wider culture. David Van Drunen’s book “Living in God’s Two Kingdoms” provides a clear presentation of a two kingdoms approach to cultural engagement and is written to challenge the “vision that the redemptive transformation of culture is central to the Christian life”.[1]

The book is written with a strong covenantal framework, and self-consciously “embraces the heritage of Augustine and the Reformation and seeks to develop and strengthen it further”.[2] In particular, his argument rests on his particular readings of the Adamic and Noahic covenants, as he explains: “A key aspect of my biblical-theological case for the two kingdoms is my interpretation of... Paul’s Two Adams paradigm and the Noahic covenant”.[3] Garry Williams has provided a persuasive critique of his interpretation of the Noahic covenant, and I will seek to do the same with respect to his interpretation of the Covenant of Nature with Adam.[4]

I will argue that it is Van Drunen’s misreading of the covenant with Adam which sets him on the wrong course, and which then leads to conclusions which are at odds with the New Testament’s description of the Christian life.

I. The cultural mandate is not so tied to Adam’s probation that its purpose is now obsolete

For Van Drunen, the cultural mandate given to humanity in Gen 1:26-28 is so tied to Adam’s probation in Genesis 2 that it cannot have a place in a post-fall world, except as the task which Christ needs to accomplish on our behalf.

He believes that obeying the mandate only had significance as a means of winning eternal life, and once that was no longer an option for fallen human beings, the mandate is obsolete for believers: “However much fallen human beings may strive to pick up the baton from Adam and pursue the tasks of culture with an eye to an eternal prize, the quest is futile.”[5]

Whilst the probation in Genesis 2 is clearly given within the context of humanity’s charge to fill and subdue the earth, it is mistaken to think that the mandate is given solely for the purpose of the probation for a number of reasons.

1. The text in Genesis 1-2 separates the mandate from the probation

It is significant that Genesis 1 and 2 are presented as two separate accounts, rather than being conflated into one story. In Genesis 1, God deals with humanity in a general sense, addressing male and female together, and he issues a mandate which is not localised to a particular person or place. In Genesis 2 however, the alternative is true. God deals with a particular man, Adam, in a particular place, Eden, and issues a command which could only apply to that particular context. The placing of the cultural mandate in such a prominent place at the beginning of the Genesis account distinguishes it from the probation as having a wider, over-arching significance.

2. The reissuing of the mandate in Genesis 9 indicates its continuing relevance

Having distinguished the mandate and the probation in Genesis 1 and 2, the author then distinguishes them further as the narrative continues by reissuing the mandate, albeit in a modified form, in Genesis 9. As a reader it is a natural response to wonder what continues and what has changed since Adam’s rebellion, and so it is reassuring when the text explains that man’s image persists (Gen 9:6), as does his responsibility to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1).

Van Drunen agrees that “these verses reflect the original cultural mandate given to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:26-28”, but he argues that the responsibilities are very different from Adam’s original mandate since there are “no special acts of religious devotion, such as faith, prayer, or worship... [they] do not require people to function as priests... [and they never indicate] that they can attain life in the world-to-come through obedience.”[6]

This is precisely what we would expect, however, given that, as I have shown, these differences reflect the distinctions in the original structure of Genesis 1-2.

Interestingly, to the extent that Van Drunen agrees that Genesis 9 reissues the mandate in Genesis 1, he opens up an unwelcome conclusion for his system because, by arguing that “the Noahic covenant embraces the human race in common”[7] rather than only God’s people, he inadvertently allows even unredeemed humanity to become “little Adams”. This is a point developed at length in Williams’ paper.[8]

3. God’s purpose in redemption follows the pattern introduced in the cultural mandate

David Clines in “The Theme of the Pentateuch” describes how the pattern of Genesis 1 lays the blueprint for God’s purposes of redemption declared in Genesis 12 and worked out in the rest of the Pentateuch and beyond: “The theme of the Pentateuch is the partial fulfillment of the promise to, or blessing of, the patriarchs. The promise or blessing is... an affirmation of the primal intentions for humanity.”[9] He shows in detail how the elements of offspring, relationship, land, and the blessing of the world, which begin in Genesis 1, form the scarlet thread through the subsequent history, and provide the impetus which keeps the story moving to its conclusion. This indicates that, far from being obsolete, the cultural mandate standing at the gates of the Bible provides the shape of all that follows.

This is confirmed by the way the writer to the Hebrews takes the pattern of dominion in Genesis 1:26-28, described poetically in Psalm 8:6, and explains that this is the outcome achieved by Christ’s salvation (Heb 2:6-9). This is saying more than Van Drunen’s argument that the cultural mandate has an enduring purpose beyond the fall as the task which Christ needs to accomplish on our behalf; it is describing the Genesis 1 pattern as the goal to which redemption takes us. Whilst this point does not necessitate that the cultural mandate is still binding, it still counters Van Drunen’s argument that it is obsolete.

4. Christ’s recapitulation of Adam’s probation does not involve fulfilling the cultural mandate and therefore cannot exhaust it

Van Drunen correctly asserts that “Redemption... consists in the Lord Jesus Christ himself fulfilling Adam’s original task once and for all, on our behalf.”[10] When, however, we consider the question of “How did Christ accomplish Adam’s original task?” it is striking that Jesus did not personally fill the earth with his descendants or exercise his dominion over all creatures during his earthly ministry. Rather, he resisted Satan’s temptations to disobey God, recapitulating the pattern of Genesis 2, not that of Genesis 1. Once again we see a distinction in these aspects of Adam’s calling: the probation, which is obsolete for fallen humanity and only to be repeated by Christ, and the cultural mandate, which is of enduring significance.

5. The cultural mandate is linked to bearing God’s image and therefore persists beyond the fall

Genesis 1:26 clearly connects image-bearing to the cultural mandate: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion…’”. As Van Drunen rightly observes: “Exercising dominion was not something tacked on to image-bearing: to exercise dominion is part of the very nature of bearing the image.”[11]

It is striking then that, as has already been noted, human beings continue to bear God’s image in some sense beyond the fall.[12] The New Testament speaks about a process whereby New Covenant believers are “being renewed in knowledge after the image of [their] Creator”,[13] which assumes that the image had been marred and needs restoring. And the process of restoration is connected to believers “beholding the glory of the Lord” as they gaze on Christ in the gospel,[14] and are thereby “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another”.[15]

Given that exercising dominion is part of the nature of bearing the image, it follows that as believers are renewed in the image of their Creator, they are called and enabled to exercise wise, righteous, and holy dominion over this world.

This framework of a marred and renewed image in fallen humans, corresponding to a marred and renewed ability to exercise godly dominion, is useful in addressing the question of who is commissioned to carry out the modified cultural mandate of Genesis 9. For Van Drunen, the commission “embraces the human race in common”,[16] which as we have seen inadvertently opens the way for even unredeemed humanity to become “little Adams”, whereas others argue that Noah is commissioned, not as the head of humanity, but as the head of the church, and therefore that only believers may be “little Adams”. The difficulty with this second position is the evidence in the text for the covenant being both universal-common (e.g. “all flesh” language and hints of unbreakability) and yet also particular-redemptive (e.g. “offspring” language and Noah as a type of Christ). A way of understanding the Noahic covenant must be found which incorporates both of these strands. Williams uses the example of the animals as creatures who are explicitly parties to the covenant and yet are necessarily passive and partial, since they cannot consent and share in its full benefits in the same way as humans, to provide a way of understanding how unredeemed humanity can be parties in a passive and partial sense. For Williams “[the animals’] example opens the way for us to understand how every human being can be in this covenant and yet it can still be at its heart a redemptive covenant.”

The image framework provides further help in explaining how the cultural mandate may still be relevant for all humanity (just as all humanity continues to bear God’s image), but is only effectively exercised by Christ, and by extension those who are in him (since he is the true image of God, and they are being renewed in that image).

6. The cultural mandate continues into the new creation

Van Drunen rightly points to “rest” as being a major paradigm for understanding the nature of the eternal state,[17] but it is not the only paradigm. “Exercising dominion” is also a significant picture of what eternal life will involve.

In Jesus’ parables, the master of the household sets his faithful servants over all his possessions,[18] and the king rewards his faithful servants with authority to rule over many cities.[19] And as Paul reminds Timothy “if we endure, we will also reign with him”.[20] Since the exercise of dominion is something which endures even into the new creation, it is clear that the cultural mandate, far from becoming obsolete for believers after the fall, is a pattern which is set to endure for endless ages.

Historical context

It is worth at this stage considering the historical tradition from which the two kingdoms theology springs. Van Drunen argues at length for the Reformed underpinnings of this position,[21] and this is the subject of some debate.[22] All agree that this theology can be clearly seen in Luther’s distinction of “two kingdoms”.[23] When Van Drunen argues that the whole purpose of the cultural mandate is to provide a probationary test for Adam, and later for Christ, it is worth noting that this outlook is most at home within a Lutheran framework which assumes that God’s commands serve principally to reveal our sin and describe Christ’s perfection, rather than the additional purpose of providing direction for the believer. Van Drunen himself certainly believes in a Reformed view of the law – that believers should obey God’s commands out of gratitude for their salvation – but I would still argue that the two kingdoms system fits most naturally within a Lutheran view of God’s law since it assumes that the purposes of the cultural mandate are exhausted in exposing Adam’s sin and describing Christ’s obedience.

Having considered and challenged Van Drunen’s particular interpretation of the Covenant of Nature, we will consider how this interpretation works its way out in a particular understanding of the New Testament believer’s engagement with the wider culture.

II. Alongside an “exile paradigm” for believers in this age, the New Testament also describes a “conquest paradigm”

For Van Drunen, where an Adamic paradigm persists it is for Christ alone to fulfill,[24] and therefore the only New Testament paradigm for understanding the Christian’s identity can be that of exile and sojourning, not that of conquest or rule:

 “The Christian life is one of waiting, but what is our identity in this world while we wait?... By using the terms “exile” and “dispersion” Peter informs Christians that their identity is similar to that of the Old Testament Israelites who were driven from their land and lived far from home, many of them in Babylon.[25]

For Van Drunen, then, the conquest paradigm has no fulfillment in this present age:

As the conquest of the Promised Land marked the end of Israel’s days of sojourning in the wilderness and began their possession of a land that offered a foretaste of heaven, so the day of judgment will mark the end of Christians’ sojourning in this world and begin their possession of heaven itself.[26]

Although the connection between the conquest and the cultural mandate may not be immediately obvious, the two ideas are linked in the book of Joshua, and in their outworking in the New Testament.

For example in Joshua 18:1, when the people of Israel finally assemble at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting, the whole first half of the book is summarised in the statement “The land lay subdued before them.” And as Gordon McConville notes:

This high point in the drama of Israel’s progress... contains a reminiscence of the creation command to the first humans to “subdue the earth” (Gen 1:28). This is because the phrase “the land subdued before them” uses precisely the same terms as in the creation command. Israel’s possession of Canaan, therefore, together with its presence before God in worship, has a significance far beyond itself, for it stands as a symbol and promise of the human fulfillment of its mandate to “subdue the earth”, namely to bring it to that ordering and completion that God’s creative purpose intended for it.[27]

Another connection between the conquest and the cultural mandate can be seen in the imagery of God putting all things under his people’s feet. When the Psalmist summarises Adam’s dominion in Psalm 8:6 he writes, “You have put all things under his feet.” This imagery is literally fulfilled in Joshua 10 when Joshua summons his men to put their feet on the necks of the defeated kings who stood against them, as a way of building his men’s faith that “thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight”. In a similar way the Lord promises Joshua that “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you.”[28]

In these and other ways the book of Joshua connects the conquest to the fulfillment of Adam’s cultural mandate. And so it is significant that Van Drunen argues that the conquest paradigm finds its fulfillment only in the age to come, and not in this present age.[29]

When we turn to the New Testament, however, we do find evidence of the conquest paradigm in the present age.

1. Inheritance language is used in connection to world evangelisation

The inheritance (נַחֲלָה, nachalah) of the land is the big theme of the book of Joshua. The land was considered both to need conquering, and also to be part of an enduring inheritance given by God to the people (Josh 11:23).

This promise of inheritance is expanded in Psalm 2:8, where we learn that the Messiah’s inheritance will include even the ends of the earth. And when the New Testament describes how this Psalm finds its fulfillment, it is often in the context of the nations being brought into submission to Christ through the advance of the gospel.

For example in Romans 1, even though Paul doesn’t directly quote Psalm 2, he defines the gospel using language drawn from it. It is the gospel,

promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.

Elsewhere, in Acts 13:33, when Paul uses this logic of the resurrection proving Jesus’ identity as the Messianic Son, he quotes directly from Psalm 2.

And then in Romans 1, having defined the gospel in Psalm 2 terms, Paul goes directly on to explain that he has “received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations”. Again, although there is not a direct quote from Psalm 2, the logic flows out of that Psalm: once the Son has been declared, the Lord will make the nations his heritage (נַחֲלָה, nachalah), and this is fulfilled by Paul bringing about the obedience of faith among all the nations.

Another example of where “inheritance” language from Psalm 2 is connected to world evangelisation is in Acts 4. The Jerusalem church quote the psalm in their prayer, and show their understanding that the world’s opposition to the Messiah predicted there was fulfilled firstly in Jesus’ execution, and, in a derivative sense, in the church being threatened not to speak in the name of Jesus. And in drawing these parallels, the logic of their prayer seems to be that “just as you promised to defy the world’s opposition by appointing your Son as King in Psalm 2, and just as you fulfilled that promise by raising Jesus to be Lord of all, so now continue to defy the world’s opposition as you ‘look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness’”.[30] Once again the pattern of Psalm 2, where the Messiah is granted the nations as his inheritance and the ends of the earth as his possession is fulfilled in the advance of the gospel.

2. Joshua imagery is used in connection to world evangelisation

Another way we see the “conquest paradigm” evident in the New Testament is in the general use of Joshua imagery in connection to world evangelisation. Two examples of this are in Matthew 10 and 28.

In Matthew 10, Jesus calls his apostles to go and preach to the lost sheep of the house of Israel that “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (10:7). And as Peter Leithart notes, the chapter is full of allusions to the conquest of the land:

Jesus treats the mission of the twelve as a quasi-military operation... To fulfill their mission, the Twelve need to act with courage, trusting their Father and fearing God rather than man (10:28-29). Jesus announces that he has come to bring a “sword” rather than peace (10:34), and demands a total commitment from his disciples, including a willingness to die for his sake (10:37-39). In exhorting his disciples “Do not fear”, Jesus is repeating the words of Moses and Joshua to Israel before the conquest (Num 14:9; 21:34; Deut 1:21; 3:32; 31:8; Josh 8:1; 10:8, 25). The discourse anticipates that some will receive the Twelve, and promises that those who do will, like Rahab, receive a reward (10:40-42).[31]

Another example of Joshua imagery in connection to world evangelisation is in Matthew 28. In the Great Commission there are multiple allusions to the commissioning of Joshua in Deuteronomy 32 and Joshua 1. Just as Joshua is commanded to “Go”,[32] so the disciples are commanded to “Go”.[33] Just as there is an emphasis on Joshua being careful to observe all the law,[34] so there is an emphasis on the disciples teaching the nations to observe all that Jesus has commanded them.[35] Just as Joshua’s commission is sandwiched between two assurances of the Lord’s presence with him,[36] so the disciples are assured that Jesus will be with them always to the end of the age.[37]

As William Davies and Dale Allison comment:

Just as Moses, at the close of his life, commissioned Joshua both to go into the land peopled by foreign nations and to observe all the commandments in the law, and then further promised his successor God’s abiding presence, so similarly Jesus: at the end of his earthly ministry he told his disciples to go into all the world and to teach the observance of all the commandments of the new Moses, and then further promised his abiding presence.[38]

We have seen how the New Testament draws on the conquest paradigm to describe aspects of the life of believers in the present age, and given the connection between Adam’s dominion and Joshua’s conquest, this is further evidence against Van Drunen’s thesis that the cultural mandate is no longer relevant for New Testament believers.

III. The New Testament teaches that in Christ believers share in Christ’s Adamic work

One of the driving forces of Van Drunen’s whole argument is his desire to preserve the uniqueness of Christ’s office as the last Adam: “Because Jesus has fulfilled the first Adam’s commission, those who belong to Christ by faith are no longer given that commission... We are not little Adams.”[39] Whilst the New Testament does indeed highlight Jesus’ uniqueness as the last Adam, it also teaches that those in Christ share in Christ’s Adamic work.

1. Christ is the Adamic Image-bearer, and believers are image-bearers in him

Colossians 1:13-15 shows that as the beloved Son, Jesus bears God’s image in a unique way. Christ therefore fulfills all that Adam pointed to as the image-bearer, but it is striking that even though Christ is the image-bearer par excellence, this is a reality which he shares with those in him. Colossians goes on to explain that for those who are in Christ, they are “being renewed in knowledge after the image of [their] creator”.[40]

2. Christ is the Adamic Serpent-crusher, and believers are serpent-crushers in him

According to Genesis 2:15 Adam is to “work” and “take care of” the garden. As Bruce Waltke explains:

Elsewhere in the Pentateuch this expression describes the activity only of priests. The latter term entails guarding the garden against Satan’s encroachment (see 3:1-5). As priest and guardians of the garden, Adam and Eve should have driven out the serpent; instead it drives them out.[41]

After Adam’s failure, God promises one who will crush Satan’s head (Gen 3:15). Unlike Adam, Jesus resists Satan’s attacks, and through his death defeats the devil.[42] Although Jesus is the unique Serpent-crusher who defeated Satan, it is striking that Paul writes to the Roman Christians who are being infiltrated by divisive false teachers: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”[43] As Christopher Ash comments:

He reassures them (v. 20a) that “the God of peace” (the God who gives harmony to the church when it is threatened by division) “will soon crush Satan under your feet”... Note that (a) God crushes Satan, but (b) he does it “under your feet”. That is to say, the instrument God uses to crush Satan is the church of Christ, who are “in Christ” the corporate fulfillment of the “seed of the woman”.[44]

So even though Jesus is the unique Serpent-Crusher, believers are serpent-crushers in him.

In Luke 10:17-19 the seventy-two return from the mission on which Jesus had sent them saying,

‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And [Jesus] said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.’

Bock comments:

the allusion may go back to Gen 3:15, where it says that the offspring of the woman would crush the serpent’s head. The picture is of crushing these creatures and thereby defeating the hostility they represent. The disciples are reasserting humanity’s vice-regent role in creation. When it comes to evil, the disciples can overcome anything that opposes them, for Christ’s authority overcomes the enemies’ power.[45]

This passage illustrates well that Christ is the unique Serpent-crusher, the One in whose name even the demons are subject, and yet this is clearly an authority which Jesus shares with his disciples.

3. Christ is the Adamic Ruler, and believers are rulers in him

In Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1, Paul wants his readers to appreciate how God has used the same power which raised Jesus from the dead to benefit them also. When Paul says that God has “put all things under [Jesus’] feet” in 1:22 he is quoting Psalm 8, which celebrates Adam’s original appointment as Ruler over the world. As Frank Thielman summarises:

God has not simply conquered Christ’s cosmic enemies through raising him from the dead and exalting him to his royal right hand; he also has subjected all creation to him. This subjection of all things to Christ, moreover, is for the benefit of the church which is Christ’s body (1:22-23), and which, as Paul later will say, “was raised and seated together with Christ in the heavenly places” (2:6). In other words, the hegemony that God intended for humanity to have over all creation is in the process of coming to pass through the Messiah’s kingly rule over all things.[46]

It is in this context that Paul explains that believers “are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (2:10). The end-point of Christ being raised as the last Adam and believers being raised in him is that they should now fulfill God’s original purpose for humanity and be active in good works.

Paul quotes Psalm 8 in 1 Corinthians 15:27 as well to show that Jesus is the one who brings to fulfillment God’s original intentions for humanity. When he says, “God has put all things in subjection under his feet”, he interprets “all things” to include death (15:26). And then in light of death’s defeat, the chapter ends with the application that the Corinthians should “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain” (15:58). Since Adam’s rebellion, death has been victorious and work has been cursed with futility.[47] Now that Christ is raised as the last Adam, those who are in him have the victory over death, and have the prospect of non-futile labour.[48] This is an indication of how Christ’s Adamic rule enables believers also to be involved in some kind of Adamic rule in him.

In summary, even though Christ is the Image-bearer, Serpent-Crusher, and Adamic Ruler par excellence, he shares these roles with those in him.

IV. The New Testament indicates that believers’ sharing in Christ’s Adamic work does not diminish Christ’s glory but enhances it

A major concern of Van Drunen’s in arguing that Christ’s Adamic work must not be shared with believers is that he is seeking to protect Christ’s uniqueness, and to ensure that his glory is not shared:

If Christ is the last Adam, then we are not new Adams. To understand our own cultural work as picking up and finishing Adam’s original task is, however unwittingly, to compromise the sufficiency of Christ’s work.[49]

The New Testament, however, indicates that believers’ sharing in Christ’s Adamic work does not diminish Christ’s glory but rather enhances it. This is evident from the fact that the New Testament consistently speaks of believers sharing Christ’s reign, and also that Christ is glorified in the glorification of believers.

 1. Believers will share Christ’s reign

Multiple Bible writers clearly attest to believers sharing Christ’s reign.[50] One striking example is Jesus’ letter to the Church at Thyatira, recorded in Revelation 2:26-27, which clearly alludes to the Messiah’s unique rule over the nations in Psalm 2 being shared with Jesus’ followers:

The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.

Much as we might find such an idea shocking, it is not so to the biblical authors.

2. Christ is glorified in the glorification of believers

Similarly, there are many references to believers being glorified, but this is never a threat to Christ’s glory but rather magnifies it. The key to this dynamic seems to be the believers’ union with Christ. As Jesus explains in his prayer in John 17:10: “All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them”.[51] Or as Paul explains in 2 Thessalonians 1:12 that he is praying for his readers “so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”[52]

Examples could be multiplied, but the point is clear that believers sharing Christ’s Adamic work, far from diminishing his glory, will actually serve to enhance it as he is seen as the One whose glory is so great that it overflows to those who are in him.

Conclusion

I have shown that Van Drunen misinterprets the covenant with Adam by tying the cultural mandate so closely to Adam’s probation that its purpose is now obsolete. This sets him on the wrong course and leads to conclusions which are at odds with the New Testament’s description of the Christian life. He fails to see that alongside an “exile paradigm” for believers in this age, the New Testament also describes a “conquest paradigm”, and he misses how the New Testament teaches that in Christ believers share in Christ’s Adamic work which magnifies Christ’s glory.

It is worth reflecting at this stage on the question of what exactly the believer’s work as a “little Adam” involves.

From Ephesians and Colossians a case can be made for a wide definition of what the Adamic work of the believer may involve. The descriptions of “good works” in Ephesians 2:10, and of “being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator” in Colossians 3:10, can certainly be construed quite generally, but in each case the expressions must be qualified by what follows. In both cases the ethical injunctions are outlined especially in terms of pursuing godly virtues and godly behaviour in the various relationships of life, and the works extend into all areas of life. The Colossian believers are instructed that “whatever you do... do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”, and “whatever you do, work heartily...”.[53] Similarly, the Ephesian believers are told that “whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord”.[54] In both letters it is expected that these Adamic works will be apparent in all areas of life.[55]

If we consider what the Adamic works of the believer may involve from the other texts, the emphasis falls especially on building up the church. When we consider what the non-futile “labour in the Lord” in 1 Corinthians is, the rest of the chapter, and indeed the rest of the letter, point to that which builds up the church. In 1 Corinthians 3:9 the church is referred to as “God’s building”, and a contrast is drawn between the type of ministry which endures and that which will be burned up. In chapter 14 the church is repeatedly called to pursue those things which most build up the fellowship, and the logic of chapter 15 is that the resurrection ensures that “labour in the Lord” is not futile and so it must follow that that kind of labour is whatever contributes to people enjoying resurrection life. This category is broader than simply gospel proclamation because they are told that “love builds up” (8:1), and the example in 10:23 of a behaviour which “builds up” involves respecting a weaker brother’s conscience. Even so, the Adamic work still seems to be defined quite narrowly as whatever contributes to the building up of the church.

Romans 16 and Luke 10 are also in the context of building up the church. In the former the accent is on protecting faithful ministry in the church, and in the latter the accent is on the kingdom extending as individuals are set free from the tyranny of evil and receive the good news.

Van Drunen is rightly concerned to protect the spirituality of the church. As he explains: “The kingdom of God proclaimed by the Lord Jesus Christ is not built through politics, commerce, music, or sports.”[56] However, a close interaction with what the New Testament teaches the Adamic work of the believer actually involves will serve to protect the spirituality of the Church without recourse to Van Drunen’s system.[57]