The First Family

When I say the phrase, “First Family,” what immediately comes to your mind? Some might say the first family is that of the President. If you are thinking about your church, your answer might be the pastor and his family. Others might think, “That’s obvious, the first family was Adam and Eve.” All of these answers are correct in their context. But, if we are looking for the very first family, none of these answers is correct. Does that surprise you? Adam and Eve were surely the first family recorded in Scripture, right?

Actually, there was a family in existence long before Adam and Eve were created. This article is an attempt to unpack truths about the original family, the eternal family, the family from which all other families take their form and in Whose image they are made. I am indebted to the writings of Scott Hahn for stirring my interest in this topic.

In his book, The Christian Trinity in History, Bertrand de Margerie says, “Truth is the Trinity.” This is a powerful statement. But, if you examine it, he is exactly right. The Trinity is who God was, is and forevermore shall be – as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Everything else flows from this central truth. God is the Trinity. One famous theologian said, “God in His deepest mystery is not a solitude, but a family, since He has in Himself fatherhood, sonship, and the essence of the family, which is love.”

It stands to reason that when God created Adam and Eve, He did so reflecting the eternally existing familial identity of the Trinity. Genesis 1:27 states, “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Adam and Eve entered into a marriage covenant in which the two became one. As the first human family, they are an earthly image of the Divine family – and look so much like the Trinity, that when the two become one – in about nine months – a new triune family, is formed – Father, mother and child. Our families, though flawed shadows of the Trinity, are patterned after God’s Trinitarian family – for we are created in God’s image and the Trinity is who God is.

Genesis 1:27 revealed to us that Adam was created in God’s image. Adam may be seen as a “son of God.” This is strongly suggested in Genesis 5:3 where it says, “When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years; he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.” Adam fathered a son “in his own image.” The idea of being made “in the image” denotes family relationship. Adam was made in the image of God – and was, therefore, God’s created son. Luke 3:38 clearly tells us that Adam is "the son of God." Sadly, this relationship was severed in the fall of man. The family ties were broken because of sin. Creation was corrupted.

But this hopeless state of affairs would be reversed when Jesus, the only begotten, not created, Son of God, whom Paul called the second Adam, fulfilled His earthly mission. In dying on the cross, Jesus’ self sacrifice reflects the perfect love of the Trinity. This is the standard to which we are called - to give ourselves away in complete love. In so doing, Peter claims, “we share in God’s divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world…” As we die to ourselves and Christ lives in and through us, we actually participate in the life and love of the Triune God. Thomas Aquinas said that in Christ, we become “sons in the Son.” Now that is a close family!

Last year I led a choir retreat for a good friend. I was also asked to preach during the morning service that weekend. As I spoke to some of the choir members about my sermon topic, one of them said, “We don’t need any of that Father, Son and Holy Spirit stuff…we much prefer Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. Let’s avoid the masculine pronouns.” Why do people so readily dismiss the words of Holy Scripture? It may be that their fathers were a disappointment to them.

Two first graders were overheard as they left Sunday school class, "Do you really believe all that stuff about the devil?" "No, I think it's like Santa Claus. It's really my dad." Though we may have been disappointed by our earthly fathers, our heavenly Father is completely trustworthy and provides a picture of perfection in self-giving love.

So, who is the first family? In the beginning GOD! More accurately before time and space, from eternity, God existed as tri-unity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is from this eternal Family that our families are formed…in the image of God. And one day, because we have been baptized into God's family, we will enjoy an eternal family reunion. As we are taken up into the everlasting life of the "first family", we will surely know the ultimate meaning of the phrase, “Welcome home.”

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