Adam's role goes beyond 'first man'

Latter-day Saints have a knowledge and appreciation of Adam that few in the religious world share.

Through modern revelation and particularly the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, we have come to know of Adam's role in the premortal, mortal and postmortal spheres of existence.As Michael, the archangel, he led the forces of God against the armies of Lucifer in the War in Heaven. Under the direction of Elohim and Jehovah, he assisted in the creation of the earth. After taking physical bodies, Adam and Eve brought mortality into being through partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From Adam and Eve the message of the gospel of salvation went forth to all the world. Following his death, which occurred almost a millennium after he entered mortality, Adam's watchcare over his posterity continued.

The premortal world

In our first estate Adam was known as Michael, literally one "who is like God." Michael stood with Jehovah in defense of the plan of the Father - the plan of salvation - in opposition to the offering of Lucifer, a son of the morning.

As the Revelator saw in vision: "There was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought against Michael; and the dragon prevailed not against Michael. . . . Neither was there place found in heaven for the great dragon, who was cast out; that old serpent called the devil, and also called Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth; and his angels were cast out with him." (JST, Rev. 12:6-8.)

Michael was directly involved in the preparation of the physical world in which he and his posterity would undergo a mortal probation.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written: "Christ and Mary, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and a host of mighty men and equally glorious women comprised that group of the noble and great ones,' to whom the Lord Jesus said:We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth wherein these may dwell.' (Abr. 3:22-24, emphasis added.) This we know: Christ, under the Father, is the Creator; Michael, His companion and associate, presided over much of the creative work; and with them, as Abraham was, were many of the noble and great ones."1

The Prophet Joseph Smith thus taught: "The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed, as in Gen. 1:26-28."2

In the Garden of Eden

In providing a genealogy of Jesus, the Gospel writer spoke of Cainan, "the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God." (Luke 3:38.)

In the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis we read of the line of great patriarchs from Adam to Enoch. "And this is the genealogy of the sons of Adam, who was the son of God, with whom God, himself, conversed." (Moses 6:22.) Adam - his very name means "man" or "mankind." Adam - his very title implies the first man of all men, which are many. (Moses 1:34.)

We believe that Adam and Eve went into the Garden of Eden to fall, that their actions helped "to open the way of the world,"3 and that the Fall was as much a part of the foreordained plan of the Father as was the very Atonement. Because the Fall is one of the three pillars of eternity (with the Creation and the Atonement), and because mortality, death, human experience, sin, and thus the need for redemption grow out of the Fall, we look upon what Adam and Eve did with appreciation rather than disdain. "The fall had a twofold direction - downward, yet forward. It brought man into the world and set his feet upon progression's highway."4 As Enoch declared: "Because that Adam fell, we are." (Moses 6:48; compare 2 Ne. 2:25.)

Into mortality

With the Fall came spiritual death, a veil of separation between God and mankind; mortals "were shut out from his presence." (Moses 5:4.)

After being cast from the Garden of Eden, Adam and his posterity were taught the gospel by the ministry of angels, by the voice of God, and through the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moses 5:1-8, 58.)

The veil separating Adam from the immediate presence of the Eternal Father did not, however, remove Adam's memory of life in Eden. Nor did it deprive him of the desire or opportunity to progress spiritually through the application of divine truth. The Latter-day Saints stand alone in the religious world in certifying that Christ's gospel is eternal - that Christian prophets have taught Christian doctrine and administered Christian ordinances since the dawn of time.

Adam was earth's first Christian. He exercised faith in the redemption of Christ, was baptized in water, received the gift of the Holy Ghost, was "quickened in the inner man," and was received into the order of the Son of God. (Moses 6:64-67.) Further, Adam and Eve entered into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and thus placed themselves in that pathway that leads to life eternal.5

"Father Adam was called of God," President Wilford Woodruff explained, "and ordained to the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood - ordained to the highest office and gift of God to man on the earth."6

Three years prior to his death, Adam gathered his righteous posterity together in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman. Seven generations of faithful patriarchs with their families met to receive prophetic counsel at the feet of him who had come to be known as the "Ancient of Days."

There he bestowed upon them his last blessing. In describing a vision he had of this sacred occasion, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: "I saw Adam in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman. He called together his children and blessed them with a patriarchal blessing. The Lord appeared in their midst, and he [AdamT blessed them all, and foretold what should befall them to the latest generation. This is why Adam blessed his posterity; he wanted to bring them into the presence of God."7

Adam was lord over the earth for his ownrday, but he also stands as earth's presiding high priest, the man who, under Christ, holds the keys of authority for the blessing of mankind and the perpetuation of righteousness in the earth. "The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed in heaven, it is by Adam's authority."8

A modern revelation thus states that Jehovah has "appointed Michael your prince, and established his feet and set him upon high, and given unto him the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One, who is without beginning of days or end of life." (D&C 78:16.)

The postmortal world

The Ancient of Days lived some 930 years. At death Adam entered the postmortal world of spirits and became a part of that abode of the righteous known as paradise. (2 Ne. 9:13; Alma 40:12; Moroni 10:34.) There he ministered and labored among his faithful descendants for some 3,000 years.

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that Adam "presides over the spirits of all men,"9 and so his ministry and administrative responsibilities would have continued beyond death's door.

President Joseph F. Smith, who was privileged to glimpse in vision the world of the disembodied at the time Jesus entered therein, wrote: "Among the great and mighty ones who were assembled in this vast congregation of the righteous were Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all, and our glorious Mother Eve, with many of her faithful daughters who had lived through the ages and worshiped the true and living God." (D&C 138:38-39.)

Adam and Eve were among that group who "waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death." When the Lord of Life appeared, He taught and organized His righteous forces and empowered them to take the message of salvation to the wicked, "the ungodly and the unrepentant." The Master ministered unto His own "and gave them power to come forth, after his resurrection from the dead, to enter into his Father's kingdom, there to be crowned with immortality and eternal life." (D&C 138:18, 20, 51.)

We do not know at what point in time Adam came forth in the first resurrection, whether, like many of his prophetic colleagues, at the time of Christ's rise from the tomb (D&C 133:54-55), or whether he remained in the spirit world for a season to oversee or participate in the work of redemption for the dead. That Adam did eventually rise to godhood, to sit with his famous descendants - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (D&C 132:37) - and that he shall come forth to dwell in celestial glory, is abundantly clear from latter-day revelation. (D&C 137:5.)

The future

Michael-Adam shall yet preside over a conference at Adam-ondi-Ahman, in Daviess County, Mo., (see Daniel 7:13-14; D&C 116), the same place where Adam met and counseled with and prophesied to his numerous posterity three years before his death.

Of this council - a meeting that will be a preliminary appearance of the Savior (prior to His coming in glory) - the Prophet Joseph Smith said: "Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days; he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael, he will call his children together and hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. He [Adam] is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council. . . . The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family."10

"At this conference, or council," President Joseph Fielding Smith observed, "all who have held keys of dispensations will render a report of their stewardship. Adam will do likewise, and then he will surrender to Christ all authority. Then Adam will be confirmed in his calling as the prince over his posterity and will be officially installed and crowned eternally in this presiding calling. Then Christ will be received as King of kings, and Lord of lords."11

When the Lord Jesus returns in triumphant glory to initiate the "end of the world, or the destruction of the wicked (Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:4), the first resurrection, which began with the resurrection of Christ, will resume.

Here again the Ancient of Days will play a significant role. (D&C 29:26.) In discussing the nature of the keys restored to earth by various angels, Elder Bruce R. McConkie noted: "The holy priesthood will be used in eternity as well as in time. It is not only the power and authority to save men here and now; it is also the power by which the worlds were made and by which all things are. It also could well be that Adam, who brought mortality and death into the world, was also permitted to restore the power that brings immortality and life to his descendants. Christ, of course, in the ultimate sense holds the keys of the resurrection and of raising souls in immortality, but, as we also know, it is His practice to operate through His servants, and righteous persons will, in due course, participate in calling their loved ones forth in the resurrection."12

At the end of the earth - meaning at the end of the Millennium (D&C 88:101; Joseph Smith-Matthew 1:55) - the final great battle between good and evil, known as the "battle of the great God" (D&C 88:114) or the battle of Gog and Magog,13 will take place.

And once again, the Mighty Michael, the eternal captain of Jehovah, will come face to face with his nefarious foe, Satan. "And the devil and his armies shall be cast away into their own place, that they shall not have power over the saints any more at all. For Michael shall fight their battles, and shall overcome him who seeketh the throne of him who sitteth upon the throne, even the Lamb. This is the glory of God, and the sanctified; and they shall not any more see death." (D&C 88:114-16.)

Michael's final victory is in preparation for the celestialization of the earth. He shall then, under Christ, stand as the great high priest and preside over his redeemed posterity.

Robert L. Millett, dean of religious education at BYU, is bishop of the Sunset Heights 8th Ward, Orem Utah Sunset Heights Stake.


1"Eve and the Fall," in Woman (Deseret Book, 1979), p. 59, emphasis in original.

2Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (Deseret Book, 1976, p. 157.

3Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 12.

4Cowley and Whitney on Doctrine, comp. Forace Green (Bookcraft, 1963), p. 287.

5See History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Deseret) B.H. Roberts 2:320; Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Bookcraft, 1966), p. 118.

6Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, comp. G. Homer Durham (Bookcraft, 1946), p. 65; see also Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 3:81.

7Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 158-59; see also D&C 107:53-57.

8Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157; see also pp. 167-68.

9Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157.

10Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157.

11The Progress of Man (Deseret, 1964), pp. 119-20, emphasis added.

12The Millennial Messiah, (Deseret, 1982), pp. 119-20, emphasis added.

13Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 280.

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