Lesson 3: Genesis Chapter 3
Importance of Genesis chapter 3
Those who study the Bible in a serious way sometimes refer to the Law of First Mention. It’s not so much a law, really, as a common principle in the Scriptures. If you select an important biblical word or concept you’ll find that its first biblical appearance sets the tone for all the depth of meaning that will emerge throughout the Scriptures. We go on to find many new understandings and many variations on the theme, but “the first cut is the deepest”; the First Mention gives us the essential picture.
Genesis 3 has a LOT of VERY important “first mentions”, such as:
The Serpent, The first manifestation of human will relating to God’s Word, The Lie, The Methods that Satan uses to lead people to fall, Disobedience and Sin, Shame, Consequences, A “Pre-Incarnate” Appearance of Christ, Judgment, Spiritual Warfare, The Savior, The Seed of the Serpent, and more.
For this chapter, we need to go verse-by-verse in order to find all of the “meat” that it has for us.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
The serpent that appeared to Eve is later revealed to be none other than Satan himself (see Rev. 12:9).
Two Old Testament passages—Isaiah 14:12–15 and Ezekiel 28:11–19—furnish a picture of Satan’s original condition and the reasons for his loss of that position.
As a result of his original status and authority, Satan has great power and dignity. So great is his strength that Michael the archangel viewed him as a foe too powerful to oppose (Jude 9).
Satan’s influence in worldly affairs is also clearly revealed. His various titles reflect his control of the world system: “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31), “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). The Bible declares, “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19).
Satan also has high intelligence. Through it he deceived Adam and Eve and took over their rule of the world for himself (Gen. 1:26; 3:1–7; 2 Cor. 11:3). His cleverness enables him to carry out his deceptive work almost at will.
A part of Satan’s continuing ambition to replace God is his passionate yearning to have others worship him (Matt. 4:8–9; Rev. 13:4, 12). Since God has frustrated this desire and put down Satan’s rebellion, he has become God’s exact opposite. He is “the wicked one” (Matt. 13:19, 38), while God is “the Holy One” (Is. 1:4).
Satan’s nature is malicious. His efforts in opposing God, His people, and His truth are tireless (Job 1:7; 2:2; Matt. 13:28). He is always opposed to our best interests (1 Chr. 21:1; Zech. 3:1–2). Through his role in introducing sin into the human family (Genesis 3), Satan has gained the power of death—a power that Christ has broken through His crucifixion and resurrection (Heb. 2:14–15).
Of the various methods used by Satan in carrying out his evil work, none is more characteristic than Temptation (Matt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5). Satan leads people into sin by various means. Sometimes he does it by direct suggestion, as in the case of Judas Iscariot (John 13:2, 27); sometimes through his agents who disguise themselves as messengers of God (2 Thess. 2:9; 1 John 4:1); and sometimes through a person’s own weaknesses (1 Cor. 7:5). He tempted Christ directly, trying to lead Him into compromise by promising Him worldly authority and power (Luke 4:5–8).
Along with his work of tempting mankind, Satan also delights in deception (1 Tim. 3:6–7; 2 Tim. 2:26). His lying nature stands in bold contrast to the truth for which Christ stands (John 8:32, 44). The great falsehood he uses so frequently is that good can be attained by doing wrong. This lie is apparent in practically all his temptations (Gen. 3:4–5). As the great deceiver, Satan is an expert at falsifying truth (2 Cor. 11:13–15).
Satan’s methods are designed ultimately to silence the gospel. He seeks to stop the spread of God’s Word (Matt. 13:19; 1 Thess. 2:17–18). When the gospel is preached, Satan tries to blind people’s understanding so they cannot grasp the meaning of the message (2 Cor. 4:3–4; 2 Thess 2:9–10). At times he opposes the work of God by violent means (John 13:2, 27; 1 Pet. 5:8; Rev. 12:13–17). He brings disorder into the physical world by afflicting human beings (Job 1–2; 2 Cor. 12:7; Heb. 2:14).
First Satan insinuated doubt about the Word of God: “Has God indeed said?” He misrepresented God as forbidding Adam and Eve to eat of every tree. The tempter addresses the woman as the more susceptible and unguarded of the two creatures he would betray. He ventures upon a half-questioning, half-insinuating remark: “It is so, then, that God hath said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden.” This seems to be a feeler for some weak point, where the fidelity of the woman to her Maker might be shaken. It hints at something strange, if not unjust or unkind, on the part of God. “Why was any tree withheld?” he would insinuate.
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”
God had given the commands to Adam (Gen. 2:16–17). He evidently had passed them on to his wife. Yet when Eve quoted to the serpent the prohibition against eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she added something (not to touch it) that was NOT in the WORD OF GOD. Anytime we meddle with what God ACTUALLY said, we open ourselves up to trouble.
By adding a “fence” to the command of God, Eve probably thought that she was “helping” God. If you don’t TOUCH the fruit, you certainly can’t EAT the fruit. However, Christ takes this idea to task in the New Testament when he berates the Pharisees for adding to God’s Word, as seen in Mark 7:1-8, and Mark 2:23-28.
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Satan flatly contradicted God about the inevitability of judgment on those who disobeyed, just as his followers still deny the facts of hell and eternal punishment. Satan misrepresented God as seeking to withhold from Adam and Eve something that would have been beneficial to them.
Gen 3:4 ויאמר הנחשׁ אל־האשׁה לא־מותתמתון׃
Notice once again what we saw in chapter 2. Most translations say “surely die” because the word “die” is doubled in the Hebrew text. But notice that it is NOT the SAME form of the word, but rather 2 DIFFERENT forms of the word. This signifies 2 DIFFERENT DEATHS (spiritual AND physical).
Now he moves on to tempting Eve with the “benefits” of disobeying God: knowledge, and equality with God. Your understanding shall be greatly enlightened and improved; and you shall be as gods, and the object of the tempter appears to have been this: to persuade our first parents that they would, by eating of this fruit, become as wise and powerful as God, (for knowledge is power), and be able to exist forever, independently of Him; not needing to be subject to His commands.
This section tells us a LOT about Satan’s methods of temptation, and how they STILL work today. His basic tools are: to QUESTION God’s Word and goodness, to “flat-out” LIE to you, and to APPEAL to your senses and flesh.
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
From these three sources all natural and moral evil sprang: they are exactly what the apostle calls the desire of the flesh; the tree was good for food: the desire of the eye; it was pleasant to the sight: and the pride of life; it was a tree to be desired to make one wise. See 1st John 2:15-17
Also, it is important to notice that spouses have a responsibility to be a GOOD witness and influence on their mate. Eve led her husband astray, and Adam did nothing to correct her error. They BOTH failed to be a godly influence on the one that God had given them.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
By gaining the knowledge of both Good and Evil, they lost their innocence both mentally and morally.
The MENTAL aspect of this comes from the fact that limited human beings CANNOT “process” the knowledge of evil without it affecting their entire thought life. Only God (who is PERFECTLY and COMPLETELY holy and pure) can understand evil without being “tainted” by it. Adam and Eve, who had been naked WITHOUT shame, lust, or any other evil concept, now KNEW they were naked, and felt “dirty” about it because their thought life had been changed. This is why they tried to cover themselves. See Titus 1:15, and Ephesians 4:17-24.
The MORAL aspect comes from the fact that they were now in disobedience to their Creator. See Romans 5:12-19.
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” 13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Who is this who is walking in the Garden? The Bible CLEARLY states that NO man has seen God at ANY time (John 1:18). However, we are told that when we see JESUS, we have seen the Father (John 14:9).
Also, by needing to hide themselves, Adam and Eve clearly show that any fellowship with God has been lost. They have truly “gained knowledge”, but unfortunately it is an experiential knowledge of shame and fear.
The immediate effects of the sin of Adam and Eve are at least sevenfold.
First, there is shame.
What a difference between the man-woman relationship before and after the Fall! As we look at the words in Genesis 3:7, we have to ask if they knew of their nakedness before. When Adam looked upon Eve did not he see her nakedness and vice versa?
The shame, however, is evidence of the immediate corruption of their total personality. They now look upon each other with soiled eyes. The emotional grid through which visual stimulations reach their mind is defiled. Their conscience now tells them it is not right for them any longer to be continually naked in each other’s presence.
Until Genesis 3:7 Adam and Eve were together, naked without shame before each other and before God. They were so pure of mind and heart as God made them and so much one flesh in their marital relationship that they were as innocent as naked little children who frequently play together with no sense of shame.
They project evil into all innocence. That was the immediate price of eyes opened by Satan, to see what they were not meant to see.
Second, there is separation from God.
They seek to hide themselves from His presence (v. 8). The sense of separation from God did not come until they directed their faces away from each other and towards God. They had forgotten about Him up until now. He, however, had not forgotten about them. As was evidently His custom, God came to share His presence with His children.
God, of course, was fully aware of what had occurred. When He came to the man and his wife, instead of rushing out to be in His presence as they had done in the past, they hid from Him among the trees of the garden as if tree leaves could block His penetrating sight. How confused are the self-deceiving hearts of sinful men!
Third, there was a lack of honesty before God (v. 10).
The first words of fallen man are a compound of half truth, evasion and attempted deception. So dreadfully altered has man become, the admission that he is afraid at hearing God’s voice is the only true thing about this statement. Adam is lost, and it is God seeking him and not man seeking God. Notice that there is no confession or repentance on Adam’s part.
Fourth, Adam blames others.
First he blames his wife. Next it is his circumstances. Ultimately he blames God Himself for the terrible effects of his sin. Adam says, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate” (3:12).
The important thing is not so much that he blamed the woman or, as we would say, “he passed the buck,” but that there is no confession of sin on his part. He shows no sign of taking on his responsibility to be “the husband” in this matter, or of acknowledging his failure to obey his Creator. Eve also engages in “buck passing”, and shows no sign of repentance either.
If only they had been honest with themselves and with God in the first place, they situation might have turned out differently (1st John 1:8-10).
Fifth, there is immediate judgment upon the man and his wife, separately and then as a unit.
Sixth, there is the forced separation of the man and the woman from the Paradise of God (vv. 22–24).
All this because of sin! All this because Eve listened to the voice of the serpent and Adam listened to the voice of Eve! Neither bothered to listen to the voice of God. They are the first human victims of defeat in spiritual warfare. They are war casualties. What terrible things soon follow this defeat!
Seventh, the existence of on-going spiritual warfare is revealed (v. 15).
They are the first human victims of defeat in spiritual warfare. They are war casualties. What terrible things soon follow this defeat!
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
While God interrogates Adam and Eve as to the cause of their disobedience (vv. 11–13; of course, He already knew), when He turns to the serpent, He does not interrogate him at all. He pronounces judgment upon him for his terrible evil (vv. 14–15). In fact, though the serpent is revealed as a unique creature with mind, emotions, will, and the faculty of speech (vv. 1–5), he never speaks again in the story before us. God does not allow him to speak; does not even question him. He only passes judgment upon him.
In contrast to Adam and Eve, no forgiveness, mercy, or redemption is extended to the serpent. He does not interrogate the serpent as He had done the man and the woman because, in the animal itself there was no sense of sin, and because, to the devil He would hold out no hope of pardon. The outward form of the condemnation is made suitable to the shape which the tempter had assumed; but the true force and meaning, especially in the last and most intense portion of the sentence, belong, not to the animal, but to Satan himself.
One part of the curse falls only upon the animal (v. 14). “Cursed are you more than all cattle.” Then, he is cursed “more than every beast of the field” (v. 14). Why are cattle singled out? The Hebrew word is behemah which simply means “animals.” Since, in the second part of the curse, the beasts “of the field” are singled out (chayyath hassadheh, “the wild beasts,”) it is assumed the former means domesticated animals which directly serve man, and the latter the undomesticated or wild animals. Then God says, “On your belly shall you go.” As already mentioned many commentators see in this expression the suggestion that, before being used by Satan to deceive man into rebellion against God, the serpent had legs, feet, or paws, and walked somewhat erect. But such a transformation belongs to the region of fable. The meaning is that henceforward the serpent’s crawling motion is to be a mark of disgrace, and to Satan a sign of degradation and contempt. He won the victory over our guileless first parents, and still he winds in and out among men, ever bringing degradation with him, and ever sinking with his victims into deeper shame and infamy.
“Dust shall you eat all the days of your life” is a parallel thought to the above. The serpent’s diet didn’t change any more than did his means of locomotion. Since he had tried to exalt himself above the stars in down-playing God to man, he is now brought down to the dust. The serpent doesn’t actually eat dust, but his condition of eating from the dust in which he crawls is to all of creation a sign of how God has cursed the serpent of old, Satan and the Devil (Rev. 12:9).
The seventh immediate effect of the Fall is the revelation of ongoing spiritual warfare. It is based on Genesis 3:15, perhaps the most important verse in the story of the Fall. Though these words did have immediate implications for Adam and Eve, they are primarily a prophecy of ongoing spiritual warfare between humanity and the serpent. The strongest focus is on conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. That warfare will continue until the seed of the woman finally crushes the head of the serpent. In the process, the serpent will painfully bruise the heel of the seed of the woman.
A perpetual quarrel is here commenced between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil . . . war is proclaimed between ‘the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.”
The issue for man is whom will he serve, God or the anti-God, Satan? “No man can serve two masters,” Jesus declared (Matt. 6:24). Yet how many try to do so! If we are not “gathering with Him,” Jesus said, we “are scattering abroad.” If we are not “for Him,” Jesus said, we are “against Him.” If we are not serving him, we are serving the Devil. If we are not the children of God, we are the children of Satan.
A gracious promise is here made of Christ, as the deliverer of fallen man from the power of Satan. Here was the dawning of the Gospel. No sooner was the wound (sin) given than the remedy was provided and revealed (salvation in Jesus Christ).
Three Prophecies of Christ
(1) His incarnation, that He should be the seed of the woman, the seed of that woman; therefore His genealogy (Luke 2) goes so high as to show Him to be the son of Adam, but God does the woman the honor to call Him rather her seed, because she it was whom the devil had beguiled, and on whom Adam had laid the blame.
This is a significant statement. In biblical and ancient reckoning of lineage it is usually the lineage of the man that is mentioned. In this case, God passes by Adam and speaks of the seed of the woman, Eve. It is also startling to note that the rest of the Genesis account stresses Eve more than Adam. Eve was the one who was deceived by the serpent. Eve in turn persuaded Adam to follow her in sin. As a result, Eve was also the first of the two to be judged by God.
After the Fall, Eve’s repentance was perhaps the deepest. She became a woman of faith. She probably believed the promised seed would be born to her in her lifetime and that he would crush the head of the Evil One, the Great Deceiver. It is her seed, not Adam’s, which God said would finally undo what she had caused to be done.
Matthew Henry comments, “He [Christ] was likewise to be the seed of a woman only, of a virgin, that He may not be tainted with the corruption of our nature; He was sent forth, made of woman (Gal. 4:4), that this promise might be fulfilled.”
(2) His sufferings and death, pointed at in Satan’s bruising His heel, that is, His human nature. It was the devil that put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ, of Peter to deny him, of the chief priests to prosecute him, of the false witnesses to accuse him, and of Pilate to condemn him, aiming in all this, by destroying the Savior, to ruin the salvation; but, on the contrary, it was by death that Christ destroyed him that had the power of death (Hebrews 2:14).
Christ’s heel was bruised when his feet were pierced and nailed to the cross, and Christ’s sufferings are continued in the sufferings of the saints for His name. The devil tempts them, casts them into prison, persecutes and slays them, and so bruises the heel of Christ who is afflicted in their afflictions. But, while the heel is bruised on earth, the head is safe in heaven.
(3) His victory over Satan thereby. He (the seed of the woman) will bruise the head of the serpent (Satan). When the apostle Paul takes this concept and applies it to the Christian life in Romans 16:20, he selects a stronger verb. He uses suntribō, which, according to Vine’s Dictionary, means “to shatter . . . break in pieces by crushing.” The same verb is used for “bruising of a reed, Matthew 12:20; . . . the breaking of fetters in pieces, Mark 5:4; the breaking of an alabaster cruse, Mark 14:3; an earthen vessel, Revelation 2:27.
He shall bruise (literally “crush”) his head, that is, the seed of the woman shall destroy all his policies and all his powers, and give a total overthrow to his kingdom and interests. Christ overcame Satan’s temptations, rescued souls out of his hands, cast him out of the bodies of people, dispossessed the strong man, and divided his spoil: by his death, he gave a fatal and incurable blow to the devil’s kingdom, a wound to the head of this beast that can never be healed. As the Gospel gains ground in peoples lives, Satan falls (Luke 10:18) and is bound (Rev. 20:2). By the grace and power of Christ in the believers life, he treads Satan under his people’s feet (Rom. 16:20) and will shortly cast him into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). And the devil’s perpetual overthrow will be the complete and everlasting joy and glory of the chosen remnant.
Thus, while our foe is a powerful, awesome, supernatural foe, he is already a defeated one. If there exists a single key to victory in warfare with evil supernaturalism, it is that God through the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, has already totally defeated Satan and his seed on our behalf (John 12:31–32; 16:11 with Luke 10:18).
How demons fear and resist this truth! They will fight it with all of their being when spoken in faith and authority by the child of God (Eph. 3:10 with Rev. 12:11).
A secondary focus of the words deals with the “Christian” or the “Church” event. By this I refer to the ongoing crushing of the head of the serpent by the people of God. This is implied in Romans 16:20, Matthew 16:18–20, and Matthew 18:18–20. While the context (in Matt. 18:18–20) describes interpersonal conflicts among believers, the principles have this wider application. We crush Satan’s head in our own life as we resist him and submit to God (James 4:7). We crush his head in the lives of others through intercession and as we bring Christ’s life, love, and healing power into their bruised lives. In the context of warfare with the spirit world, this means our powerful foe is first defeated by our Lord and then by us, His sons and servants.
As a side note, the fact that God declares that Satan has a “seed” will become important when we get to Genesis chapter 6, as well as adding significance to John 8:37-47 and Revelation 13:1-10.
16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” 20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
Sin has inevitable consequences. The sentence of the woman consists of three parts: the first two regard her as a mother, the last as a wife. Sorrow is to be multiplied in her pregnancy, and is also to accompany the bearing of children. This sorrow seems to extend to all the mother’s pains and anxieties concerning her offspring. Also, as a result of her independent action in the Garden, she would now be subject to the control of her husband throughout her life.
The man was sentenced to earn his livelihood from ground that was cursed with thorns and thistles. It would mean toil and sweat for him. Then at the end of life, he himself would return to dust. It should be noted here that work itself is not a curse; it is more often a blessing. It is the sorrow, toil, frustration, perspiration, and weariness connected with work that are the curse.
Adam displayed faith in calling his wife’s name Eve. the mother of all living, since no baby had ever been born up to this time.
We can only guess at some of the later conversation that Adam and Eve might have had.
Eve: “You never have time for me or the kids any more” (see Gen. 3:16b).
Adam: “Whose fault is that? I wouldn’t be out here living by the sweat of my brow if you hadn’t taken up with that serpent!” (see Gen. 3:17c)
Eve: “Don’t tell me about the sweat of your brow! You don’t have monthly cramps. You didn’t suffer labor pains for 24 hours giving birth! (see Gen. 3:16). You’re not getting up for the 2 a.m. feedings!”
Adam: “Like I said, whose fault is that?” (see Gen. 3:17).
If any of this sounds even vaguely familiar, remember that the troubles between men and women have their roots in the Garden of Eden.
21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
Then tunics of skin were provided by God Himself (in the theophany of Christ) through the SACRIFICIAL death of an animal (since there is no indication that the animal was used for food). This pictures the robe of righteousness which is provided for guilty sinners through the shed blood of the Lamb of God, made available to us on the basis of faith. This indication that the “leaves” weren’t enough to cover the sin is important, since it sets the stage for later statements in the Bible that salvation is not of man’s works at all, and that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. See Titus 3:4-7, and Hebrews 9:22.
How ironic is it that the first sacrifice EVER was performed by the very One who would Himself BE the very sacrifice that eternally “covers our sinful nakedness before God”!
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
We are now prepared to understand the nature of the two trees which were in the midst of the garden. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil effected a change, not in the physical constitution of man, but in his mental experience – in his knowledge of good and evil.
The tree of life must have had some virtue by which the human frame was to be kept free from the decrepitude of age, or the decay that terminates in death. If they had then eaten of the tree of life, they would have lived forever in bodies subject to sickness, degeneration, and infirmity. Thus it was God’s mercy that prevented them from returning to Eden.
According to “Unger’s Bible Dictionary”, Cherubim are celestial creatures whose function is to “vindicate the holiness of God against the presumptuous pride of fallen man.” This shows that the banishment of man from the garden as a judicial act. While he is left to the fruits of his labor for the means of existence until his return to the dust, his access to the source of perpetual life and vigor is barred by a guard stationed east of the garden, its only entrance, consisting of the cherubim and the flame of a sword waving in all directions. The flaming sword is the visible form of the sword of justice, repelling the transgressors from the seat and source of happiness and life. The cherubim are the ministers of the divine presence and judgment.
Adam and Eve had to decide whether God or Satan was lying. They decided that God was. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Thus their names are missing from the Honor Roll of Faith in Hebrews 11.
The ideal environment of Eden did not prevent the entrance of sin. A favorable environment is not the answer to man’s problems.