Federal Headship Explains Everyone and Everything

Romans 5:12-14 – Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 

The great myths we believe are that we are good, independent, and free people who are the captain of our fate and master of our destiny.

Nothing could be further from the truth. According to the storyline of the Bible, Adam is an actual historical person, the first person to exist. He is the father of us all. Adam committed the original human sin (Satan and demons preceded him with the first sin). Adam’s sin brought the original human death.

What does the decision of one guy a long time ago have to do with us?


The doctrine of Federal Headship comes from the Latin word for covenant. A covenant is the Bible’s language to explain a relationship which binds people together. Each covenant has a head which explains why Jesus is the head of the Church, the husband is the head of the family, and Adam is the head of all humanity. Adam’s name means “mankind” and, as the covenant head of humanity, his sin implicated every human being.

Although Eve technically sinned first by partaking of the forbidden fruit, when God came to deal with our first parents who became the first sinners, he came looking for Adam first (Genesis 3:9). The head of a covenant is held firstly responsible for protecting and obeying the terms of the covenant. While everyone who sins against a covenant is held responsible, the head is held firstly responsible.

As our head, when Adam sinned, he implicated every one of us with him. In the same way, when a president or king makes a decision in government, a C.E.O. makes a decision in business, or a father makes a decision for a family, everyone under their headship is included in their decision for help or harm. Like gravity, federal headship exists whether we agree with or like it and affects us every moment of every day. The truth is, everyone is a sinner in four ways because sin is:

  1. Imputed in Adam
  2. Inherited in nature
  3. Imparted in conception
  4. Included in choice

Thankfully, we don’t have to remain sinners under Adam because Jesus Christ is the Last Adam who brings us into a New Covenant relationship with God that overcomes sin.

Who has made decisions that have most implicated your life for help or harm? 

To find the free Romans study guide for individuals and small groups, hear Pastor Mark’s entire sermon series on Romans, or find a free mountain of Bible teaching visit realfaith.com or download the Real Faith app.

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