The First and Second Estates
Where Science Meets Religion by Trent Dee Stephens, PhD, for the Come Follow Me lesson September 25–October 1: Galatians
Paul wrote in Galatians 3:6-9, “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” Then he continued in Galatians 3:27-29, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
In these verses, it is clear that Paul stated that all who are baptized become the children of Abraham — and that Abraham becomes their father. In this statement, Paul is literally clearing up the metaphorical statement made by John the Baptist, as recorded in Matthew 3:7-9, John the Baptist, “…when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”
Paul had written in 1 Corinthians 15:22 and 46-47, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive…Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” Here Adam is being called the “first man,” but Christ is being called the “second man.” Christ was certainly not physically the second man ever born — so this statement was clearly a poetic metaphor. If the term “second man” is metaphorical, so must the term “first man” be metaphorical in the same sentence. Therefore Adam, as the “first man,” caused death to enter the world and Christ, as the “second man,” caused all to be resurrected.
We might ask: when were these “covenants” established that Adam would bring death and Christ would bring life? We can answer this question in part by reference to the book of Abraham. We read in Abraham 3:24-28, “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever. And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.”
We have been taught that this “one among them that was like unto God” was Jesus Christ, and that the “first estate” was the premortal life, whereas the “second estate” was the mortal life. During that premortal life, we are told in Doctrine and Covenants 138:56, “Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.” What were we taught in these “first lessons in the world of spirit” and how did we keep our “first estate”? When Christ said in this premortal meeting, “Here am I, send me,” what did he mean — send me to do what?
Paul answered these questions in 1 Corinthians 15:22: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” It is my opinion that in order for us to “keep our first estate,” we had to be taught not only about Christ’s redemption from the fall, but also about Adam and Eve’s role in the fall in the first place. Keeping our first estate included accepting that role in our behalf. Because of our free agency, we could not be forced to leave God’s presence and come to earth — as part of keeping that first estate, we accepted Adam and Eve as our “first parents” to represent us in the fall. Therefore the fall occurred before the foundations of the earth were even laid.
From a scientific perspective, there is no question that modern humans have been around for over 200,000 years. Furthermore, human-like organisms existed for millions of years. We know this because those ancient humans were buried with molecular clocks that give us quite precise data concerning their ages. These facts stand in stark contrast to the idea that Adam was literally the first man and the literal father of all humanity. Paul explained in Galatians 3:6-9 that we are not all literally children of Abraham but become children through baptism — by keeping our “second estate.” Likewise, it is my opinion that we became the children of Adam by accepting the fall of Adam and the atonement of Christ before we came to the earth — keeping our “first estate” — which made it possible for us to come to the earth.
Trent Dee Stephens, PhD