The Fall of Adam: Good or bad?
When Eve took the fruit
God was nor defeated or frustrated in the garden of Eden. He knew that Adam would "fall". This was part of his plan, an essential step in our progression.
This page is supplemental to the item on Eve in the "101 Bible prophecies".
|What was actually said in the garden of Eden?|
As usual, we just need to look at what the Bible actually says. While it is possible to read the words regarding the tree of knowledge as a command, it is also possible to read it as simply a warning from a concerned parent
What the Lord said:
God's command regarding the tree of knowledge begins in Genesis 2:16:
"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat"
What kind of command is this? "Do this or you will be damned"? No. If Adam had not eaten of any tree, he would have been foolish, but not damned for all eternity. God is simply providing information and counsel. In the next verse, God tells Adam and Eve specifically about the tree of knowledge. He said:
"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
Or did he? Let us look at "The Literal Bible", where each English word or phrase is prefaced by the Hebrew word number:
Genesis 2:17 Hebrew word
English translation 6086 [but of the] Tree of 1847 the Knowledge of 2896 Good 7451 and Evil - not 398 [you must] eat - from it - because 3117 on the day of 398 your eating - from it 4191 [surely you will] die
Notice that the word "not", like "from it", does not have a number. It was not in the original Hebrew! It was apparently added by the translators because they felt the verse made more sense with it. So the original Hebrew text was not a command, but a warning.
How Eve understood it:
Eve understood this is as simply advice, as she explained to the serpent in Genesis 3:2-3:
"And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die."
This isn't like the command to replenish the earth. When God gives a simple command he just gives it. In this case, he tells Adam and Eve to not do something "lest" something else happens.
How the Lord referred to this command:
It is true that, in Genesis 3:11, the Lord says "I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat". But the word translated "commanded" is a general term that can mean not only "command" but also "to constitute", "enjoin", or "put, (set) in order".
|How can you sin if you don't know good from evil?|
Did Adam and Eve sin (in the sense that people today sin) when they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge?
Of course not. How could they? They did not have knowledge of good and evil.
Someone who cannot tell the difference between good and evil cannot, by definition, sin. If we are to condemn Adam and Eve in their innocence, we should also condemn young babies, people with severe learning difficulties, etc. All the jails would be filled with babies! After all, babies ignore the authorities and do antisocial things all the time. But no. Clearly the whole idea of innocent people sinning is absurd.
But they knew it was wrong because God told them?
God had warned them not to eat the fruit, but they could not possibly see this as "wrong" because they did not know good from evil. God said "do not eat", so they did not eat. Satan said "eat", so they ate. They did not know any different. They did not have any concept of right or wrong.
But "you will surely die" is enough to show it was wrong?
Why? Adam and Eve had no understanding of what "death" meant.
Paul never referred to the "sin" of Adam or Eve.
Romans 5:14 refers to Adam's "transgression", a word which means "disregarding" or "going over". Adam disregarded God's warning.
Roman 5:14 refers to Adam's "offense", but the Hebrew simply means a "fall". By rejecting God's warning, Adam fell from his privileged position. However, through Christ we can not only be forgiven of sins, but achieve righteousness and justification. (These things were not available in Eden, because Adam did not know right from wrong).
Romans 5:19 refers to Adam's "disobedience". But the word translated "disobedience" means "mishearing" or "disregarding". Adam disregarded God's warning.
There may be some confusion in that eating the fruit allowed sin to enter the world. But the text does not indicate that eating the fruit was in itself a moral sin. It could not be, as Adam did not know the difference between good and evil. Eating the fruit was just opening the door. The door itself is neutral.
1 Timothy 2:14 refers to Eve being "deceived". This is precisely what happened. Eve did not knowingly sin. She was tricked. Because God had not granted her the knowledge of good and evil, she had no defense against being deceived.
|Could Adam and Eve have children in Eden?|
As soon as God created Adam, he commanded him to be fruitful and multiply. Could Adam have obeyed that command while in Eden? We cannot know for sure, but the Bible indicates this was extremely unlikely:
Adam and Eve lacked basic information
They did not even know they were naked until they ate the fruit!
Eve never looked on herself as a mother before eating the fruit
It was not until after eating the fruit and being told to leave the garden that Adam gave his wife her name. In Genesis 3 the land is cursed, and THEN in verse 20:
"And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living."
There is no suggestion of child bearing until after the fall
Apart from the original command to "multiply", the first reference is in Genesis 3:16:
"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children"
Then, the last verse of chapter 3 and the first verse of chapter 4 are:
"So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD."
The context, the timing, and especially the name, suggests that Cain was the firstborn. There is no suggestion that when Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden, they had children in tow.
Eve was blindly obedient, so why hadn't she obeyed the "multiply" command?
When God said "don't eat the fruit", Eve did not eat the fruit. Then the serpent said "eat the fruit" and she ate the fruit. Eve did as she was told. So why did she not obey the command to have children? The simplest explanation is that she either could not, or she did not know how to.
So while it may have been theoretically possible for Eve to have children before the Fall, it was extremely unlikely. God had arranged conditions so that the only practical way to obey his command to multiply was to disregard his warning about the tree of knowledge.
|Did God WANT Adam and Eve to eat the fruit?|
God is a loving father. So we know that:
- He wants his children to progress and do better. (And that required us to leave Eden).
- He does not want us to suffer in any way (And that would mean staying in Eden).
These are apparently conflicting desires. What what should be done?
As any Christian knows, it is nice to have comfort and pleasure. But it is more important to become more God-like.
So God did not want Adam and Eve to eat the fruit.
But he did know that this would be the only way to progress.
This may seem like a contradiction, but it is familiar to every parent. You warn your children against anything that will hurt them. But you know that, if they are to progress, they must leave the nursery and enter the world of pain and risk.
Was the Fall part of God's plan?
Without the Fall there would be no need for a Redeemer. And a Redeemer was a central part of the plan from before the foundation of the world. Hence the Fall was also part of the plan.
1 Peter 1:18-20
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
Does this mean that breaking God's commandments may sometimes be a good thing?
Ignoring a warning before the Fall cannot be compared with ignoring a warning after the Fall. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve did not have knowledge of good and evil. They could not even distinguish between God and Satan. But after the fall they had knowledge, and thus accountability.
Why did God not word things differently?
If the message was "I will not encourage you to do this because it could harm you, but you decide", why didn't Genesis say so?
Well, it must not be forgotten that the Bible version of Genesis is a copy of a copy of a copy. But more significantly, subtlety is impossible when teaching someone who does not have the knowledge of good and evil. As a parent, I have first hand experience of this.
When my son was six years old, he already had much more knowledge of good and evil than Adam and Eve. But at that time he went through a stage of wanting to swear. Nearly every day he would hear a friend at school say some new provocative word, then my boy would come home and say, "Dad, can I say *****?"
If it was clearly a swear word, I would say "no." If it was clearly a harmless word I would say "yes". But often it was neither. Often it was a word that RISKED being a swear word, depending on the context. Many times I would say something like 'On balance I would not recommend it, but in the right context you might..." This was useless with a six year old. He wanted "yes" or "no". If I gave him a "maybe", he would run away delighted: "Daddy says I can say *****!"
Six year olds generally do not understand subtle advice where something desirable is concerned. Neither would anyone who lacks "the knowledge of good and evil". God simplified things for Adam and Eve because there was no other say to say it to young children.
|Could Adam and Eve progress while in Eden?|
While in Eden, Adam and Eve were little more than robots - they obeyed God, and they obeyed the serpent. They didn't know any better. Is this what God has in mind for his children?
God's purposes could not be achieved without the Fall
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
So the saints are to become kings (see below for more details). One role of a king is as a judge. How could the saints act as kings and judges if they did not have a knowledge of good and evil?
God wants us to become like him
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
This could only happen through the Fall
Genesis 3: 22
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil:
The Fall of Adam was an essential step to our becoming as God wants us to be.
If God had intended us to all be born in Eden...
Why did he not ensure that children could only be born in Eden and not born out of Eden? Why did he have it the other way around?
If Adam's fall was a sin, why are we all being punished for something Adam did? Is this justice?
It is only justice if we realise that the "Fall" was not a punishment, because according to the Bible, the eating of the fruit was not a sin.
We all fall with Adam
One critic suggested that the Greek of Romans 5:12 indicates we each fall with Adam. Whether or not it does, the fact is that we share this fallen state (i.e. we are cut off from God). I think his point was that we are all in some way guilty by nature. I do not see that this logically follows. Adam fell because, frankly, he was inquisitive. He wanted to try something that he had been advised was dangerous. I think we are all like that, so to that extent we all fall as did Adam. Not because we are cursed by nature, but because, like our Father in Heaven, we value nothing more than freedom.
How to explain the evils of the world
As the final, damning evidence that the Fall was a bad and regrettable thing, a critic wrote: "there is no conceivable way to reconcile sin entering the world through man's disobedience as a good thing when any person can see the horror of things that have happened and that continue to happen because of man's sinfulness."
That of course is not true. There is a conceivable - and I believe unavoidable - reason for evil entering the world. It is that God planned it that way. Which begs the question, "Why?" "What could possibly be so important that it has such a high price?". What, indeed.
This plan must go far beyond the traditional Protestant view that God created us just because he was lonely. If he just wanted companions, there would have been other, less painful ways to achieve it. But God's plan is bigger. Much bigger. According to the word of God, it is to allow us to progress beyond anything we know think possible. The plan requires real freedom (which brings the possibility of sin). It requires us to first fall from his presence, to learn things that we could learn no other way.
Why does God want us to go so far? Why is his plan so big? Because he is not just our creator. He is our father. And he wants for us what any father wants for his child: ultimately, to have what he has.