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Was Adam a Servant or a Son Before the Fall?

One important questions in theology is whether or not Adam was in a state of sonship prior to the fall. The answer to this question has direct implications on our understanding of God, the covenant of works, and the nature of soteriological blessings. Sinclair Ferguson has an exceedingly helpful article titled, "The Reformed Doctrine of Sonship" in Pulpit & People: Essays in Honor of William Still in which he takes up this discussion. Ferguson takes the position that Adam was a son of God prior to the fall. However, he mentions a book that has been relatively difficult to find in years past: Robert Candlish's The Fatherhood of God. In this work Candlish sets out the opposite position, namely, that Adam was a servant--not a son--before the fall. This issue will not be resolved by simply citing Luke 3:38. We do not, in that text, have any indication whether that was a pre-lapsarian (pre-fall) or post-lapsarian relationship. Candlish suggested that Adam was merely in a state of servitude on account of the covenant of works. He would have, in light of this view, obtained sonship if he had obeyed with regard to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (i.e. when he was tested by God and tempted by Satan). J. H. Thornwell followed Candlish and suggested that "in order that the change from the condition of that of a servant to that of a son might take place, it was necessary that the man [Adam] should prove himself faithful in the first relation."1.

1. J. H. Thornwell The Collected Writings of James H. Thornwell (vol. 1) (Richmond: Presbyterian Committee of Publications, 1871) p. 266

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