The apostle Paul calls Jesus the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), and theologians have developed the concept of the active obedience of Christ in which the righteousness of Christ’s entire life is imputed to the believer. Crowe’s book doesn’t develop these ideas theologically. Rather, he makes the case that the concept of Jesus as the Last Adam whose life of obedience is imputed to the believer is rooted in the Gospels. I found the book useful. I filled a OneNote page full of notes on Jesus as the Last Adam and made references back to Crowe in notes on individual Gospel passages.
In terms of summarizing the book, it is hard to better than Crowe’s own summary:
In this volume I have argued that Jesus is the last Adam who lived a life of vicarious obedience necessary for salvation. To recap, in chapter 1, I argued that the two-Adam structure that is prominent in the history of interpretation provides a helpful compass for those today who are interested in the theology of the Gospels. Jesus is consistently identified in the history of interpretation as the second and last Adam whose obedience overcomes the disobedience of the first Adam. In chapter 2 we considered the multifaceted Adam Christology in the Gospels. The Gospels present Jesus as the last Adam in various ways, including in the temptation narratives, by means of the role of the Holy Spirit, and through the Son of Man imagery. These observations provided momentum for chapter 3, where the focus was specifically on Jesus’s sonship—a central theme in the Gospels, with numerous implications. First, Jesus’s filial identity also relates Jesus to Adam, the first covenantal son of God. Third, in light of these canonical links, Jesus’s sonship strongly emphasizes his obedience. We also considered in chapter 3 the key roles of the baptism and temptation narratives, noting how these accounts draw attention to Jesus’s sonship and obedience and set the stage for Jesus’s obedience throughout the Gospels.
In chapter 4 we considered in more detail some of the ways in which Jesus fulfills Scripture, along with statements that speak of the divine necessity of Jesus’s obedient life for salvation. Jesus is portrayed as the Holy and Righteous One whose obedience excels that of Adam. In chapter 5 we looked in greater detail at the contours of John’s Gospel, which portrays Jesus’s glory as greater than Adam. In John, Jesus is also portrayed as the obedient Son who was always working and always doing the will of his Father, accomplishing salvation for those who believe in the Son of Man. Jesus’s work in John must be viewed as a unity, which means his life and death are both necessary for the perfect completion of his work. In chapter 6 we considered the work of Jesus that was necessary to inaugurate the kingdom of God, which is a kingdom of righteousness instituted by a righteous king. Jesus’s power is corollary to his holiness and includes his binding of the strong man, by which he overcomes the sin of Adam. In chapter 7 we looked more explicitly at the death of Jesus and considered how the perfection of Jesus’s life enabled him to serve as the perfect sacrifice for sin, since in Jesus we find the unity of heart devotion and outward obedience. Jesus’s blood is therefore uniquely able to serve as a ransom for many. We also considered the judicial nature of the resurrection. The last Adam embodied perfect obedience through his life and was therefore crowned with new-creational, resurrection life.
In this study I have not provided a thorough definition of salvation. Instead, I have preferred to consider inductively some of the ways that Jesus’s multifaceted work is necessary for salvation. As we approach the end of this study, I repeat the simple, working gloss on salvation from chapter 1: deliverance from sin unto everlasting life in fellowship with the Triune God. In light of the preceding discussion, it should be emphasized that Jesus’s lifelong obedience as the (divine) Son of God leads to resurrection life, and all those who trust in Christ likewise will participate in resurrection life. Thus, to say that Jesus’s perfect obedience is necessary for participation in eternal/resurrection life.
In sum, I have argued that Jesus’s life is necessary for salvation. However, the complexity of Jesus’s mission renders it impossible to say all that needs to be said in one volume. By no means should this study be considered exhaustive; I do not claim to have covered every possible angle of the richness of what Christ has done to accomplish salvation. Additionally, I have focused almost exclusively in this volume on the accomplishment of salvation and have said little about the application of salvation, though the latter is equally as necessary as the former. My hope is that this study will interject new life (and some new arguments) into some old conversations…. Woe betide me if I were to suggest that the revelation that comes through Christ or his death is somehow less important [than the life of Christ]. However, another danger is failing to appreciate the theological significance of the life of Jesus, which makes the Gospels such fertile ground for theological reflection. Jesus does many things in the Gospels, including (quite prominently, as I have argued) vicariously accomplishing salvation as a representative man. [199-201]