Archive for the ‘2.2 The Fall of Man’ Category

In determining guilt God decides to hear the testimony of both Adam and Eve before he passes judgement. So he asks “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11)

As previously stated, by God asking “Who told you were naked?” he is not stating ignorance nor implying that there is some other God or divine being (separate from himself and his creation) that could have entered the garden. He is instead expressing the fact that this knowledge did not come from him. This is also why he does not wait for Adam to answer before asking his second question, i.e. he is making a point not seeking answers.

THE ACCUSATIONS OF ADAM
It is already clear that there is disunity in creation, what Adam’s response reveals is the extent of the damage.

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
(Genesis 3:12 ESV)

This isn’t merely an excuse; rather it is an outright attack on Eve and God. There are three observations that need to be drawn out here, revealing the extent of the disunity. Adam:
1) denies his headship over Eve in order to shift blame onto her,
2) completely changes his attitude toward Eve, and
3) shows how irrational disunity is in light of a united God (united creator).

Firstly, as already discussed, Adam was responsible for Eve as her head (and head of mankind) and the one to whom the original command “don’t eat” was given. Therefore Adam denied his own headship (God-given responsibility) to try to shift responsibility for what happened in the fall.

Secondly, this attack represents a complete change in Adam’s attitude toward Eve. In Genesis Ch2 when Adam first saw Eve he was overjoyed because she was what he had been searching for, his perfect helper (he loved her). He even stated that his attraction to her was because she shared in his flesh. So by accusing Eve (saying that she caused him to sin) he was in fact attacking his own flesh, showing the extent of their disunity.

Finally Adam’s attack can only be seen as an illogical, counter productive and ineffective argument in light of the unity the universe was created to exist in (the image of God). Adam does this in 2 ways, directly and indirectly.

By Adam directly accusing God of wrongdoing he called into question the entire universe, including himself. As previously discussed (in earlier posts), God judged the whole order of the universe to be “very good” and that his standard of “goodness” was based on himself as a benchmark. Therefore by calling God into question Adam is calling all things into question. However because God is the standard by which the universe was first judged his approval (good) means that it is impossible to call him into question without being illogical. i.e. God created something evil, yet God is the definition of good, making it is impossible for him to do evil.

By accusing God of providing him with an unsuitable helper Adam indirectly attacked God through Eve (God’s creature). However because Eve was made from Adam’s flesh he is effectively calling himself into question (i.e. if Eve is evil Adam must be too). Furthermore Adam was made from the dust of the ground which means he is calling all creation into question. When the logic of Adam’s argument is taken to the extreme it implies that God himself is somehow defective. However, as before, since God’s judgement of “very good” was based on himself creation could never have been defective in light of his approval. Therefore this shows how futile and illogical it is to try to shift blame, to Eve or God.

Ultimately instead of shifting blame Adam shows that he no longer reflects the rational image of God (in unity), condemning himself and his entire union with his own words.

THE ACCUSATION OF EVE
God questions Eve next:

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
(Genesis 3:13 ESV)

Like Adam, Eve tries to shift blame and shirk responsibility by denying her headship over creation (as part of humanity). Like Adam, Eve appears to be merely stating the facts. While the serpent did deceive her and as a consequence she ate, she is still human and wife of Adam (the first man). This means that she rules with Adam over all other creatures (incl. beasts of the field). By listening to the judgement of the serpent over that of God Eve ignored her place in the union of all things leading to broken unity (relationship) with God, Adam and the rest of creation.

THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD
God does not bother questioning the serpent. This is possibly because he has no place addressing God directly (within the order of creation). It was mankind’s responsibility to rule consistently God to the rest of creation. This would show that God is true to himself (the order he established) despite the fact that all other parties are unfaithful to him. However it is not exactly clear in Genesis 3 why the serpent doesn’t get to testify.

God passes judgement on creation once again (as is his right as creator) to show how creation no longer reflects his oneness in relationship (unity). The curses God gives to each party appear to cement the disunity mankind created, cursing each specifically to multiply their hardship. For the part the serpent played he is cursed more than any other beast of the field, forced to move on his belly eating dust for the rest of his life. Because of his deception God places perpetual hostility between the serpent Eve’s offspring.

For Eve, God multiplies her pain in bearing children. This was given to Eve because bearing children was a specific function given to women in humanity. Where there was once joy in the union of Adam’s flesh now there is pain whenever she (and all women) brings a new member of humanity into the world. Because Eve desired to lead Adam by imposing her judgement above that of God’s judgement (about the fruit) she will continue to feel this desire yet will be forced to submit by her husband. Therefore Adam’s (all husband’s) headship becomes one of forced domination rather than love in unity.

In the beginning Adam was specifically given the job of tending the Garden of Eden and eating of its fruit. Therefore God curses him in his work making it difficult to produce food to eat. This will continue until his flesh is unmade in death, returning to the ground from which it was made. In the end he (all who share in his flesh) is dominated by the ground he seeks to tame.

Finally Adam and Eve are kicked out of the garden so that God’s curses would have full effect (so they would die), and so that God’s rescue plan could be implemented.

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Mankind was created in God’s image to rule over creation under his headship. Given mankind’s place of authority in the union of creation (all things), Adam’s union could not self-destruct in isolation. In Genesis 3 the Bible describes how the unity of creation fractured under the rebellion of man (against God).

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

(Genesis 3:1-6, ESV)

THE SERPENT
The first indication that there was a problem with unity (in God) in the garden is the appearance of the serpent. There are three contextual pieces of information given about him (vs1):
• He was created by God,
• He is a beast of the field,
• He is more cunning than any other beast of the field.

Firstly, to say that the serpent was created by God places him under God’s authority and judgement. This means when God described the unity of creation as “very good”, the serpent was included. Secondly, saying that the serpent is a beast of the field places it firmly under the authority of man within the order of creation. Finally, the serpent is described as crafty. This could mean anything from being astute to scheming/calculating. No matter the exact meaning of the word, it soon becomes clear that the serpent is not to be trusted. The first thing he does when he opens his mouth to speak is question a decree given to man by God. It is clear he acting in conflict with the order (unity) of creation in three ways:
1. Questioning a human. the role of the serpent is to be in submission to the authority of mankind (abuse of power was not a worry at this time),
2. Questioning an order from God. This is worse than questioning a human decree. God is head of all things and as such demands complete obedience,
3. The decree not to eat did not even concern the serpent, so his questioning can only be seen as a successful attempt to sow discord between those with authority over him.

The correct response (to the serpent’s questioning) would have been to remind the serpent of his place, condemning him (standing in judgement as his head) for his divisive behaviour in questioning the good decrees of God-given to mankind. Instead of doing this Eve submits to his questioning entering into a discussion about the integrity of God (his headship). Therefore Eve accepted the judgement and conclusions of the serpent over God’s judgement and proven character.

MANKIND
After Eve submitted herself to the questioning and judgement of the serpent Adam silently submits to Eve’s judgment concerning the fruit (vs6). Therefore this means that all humanity (in Adam) became subject to a creature they were created to rule over (the serpent).

This represents a fundamental shift in mankind’s assessment of its place in the universe, away from God’s good order and judgements. This means that mankind’s distinctive roles within marriage and the universe were dismissed by humanity as “not good”. By ignoring the commands of God, who has authority over all things, mankind seeks to usurp his rule and replace his order with their own (or none at all).

By judging the fruit as “good” (opposed to “not good”) Adam and Eve took it upon themselves to determine right and wrong/good and bad in the universe. Therefore their subsequent shame in their flesh is a reassessment of the “goodness” of their nudity and a clear indication of their disunity with God and one another. Adam and Eve felt no shame in their naked bodies (Genesis 2:25) because God created them naked and judged it to be “good”. The flesh of Adam was given to mankind by God so that all humanity would be one (united).

After Adam and Eve had eaten they tried to conceal themselves from God to hide the shame of their broken union. When confronted by God Adam explains the situation, to which God asked “Who told you that you were naked?” (vs11). This is not because he didn’t know, rather he asks this to show that this knowledge/judgement didn’t come from him. This knowledge/judgement was not present in creation when God looked at all he had made (the whole order of creation) and declared it to be “very good”. It is God’s role as creator and head of all things to provide all good things for his creatures who he is responsible for (all creation). It is the role of mankind to use all the good things they receive from God for the good of creation, which God had placed in their care. For Adam and Eve to possess knowledge that God didn’t give them represents a break from the order of their union (all good things come from God).

GOD
God himself is unaffected by the sin and disunity of man because he is not part of creation, and as such isn’t subject to the headship of man. God is not subject to anything (except himself) yet all things are defined by their relationship to him (for or against). The relationship (unity) between man and God was broken and in response God stands in judgement over his creation once again. However this time he judges it to be “bad” (inconsistent with himself).

What about Eve? She was not in Adam’s body (unborn) at the time of his sin. While it is clear that she broke God’s command before Adam, it was Adam’s sin that broke unity between God and humanity. Yet at the same time they disobeyed God together (it was a united rebellion).

Now Eve had already been taken from the flesh of Adam before the fall, that is to say that she was no longer physically in Adam at the time of the fall. The rest of mankind existed in Adam at the time of the fall and were born subsiquently into disunity, Eve was not. This means that the sin of Eve needs to be understood a little differently from the sin of later humans, i.e. she chose to become sinful (disunity).

Some important things to note about the role of Eve in the fall include:
• While she was deceived by the serpent, her reassessment of the fruit (as good for food) and her choice to eat were her own (Genesis 3:6), making her responsible for her own sin.
• She did not deceive/lie to Adam. Therefore Eve can’t be held responsible for the sin of Adam and the disunity of humanity. Adam’s sin was his own and the fall of humanity was his fault.
• She was not dragged unwillingly into rebellion due to Adam’s sin because she had already sinned (i.e. Adam and Eve were united in their rebellion).

Therefore there is no question about whether the fall of the human race was complete. Both Adam and Eve rejected their union with God (a unified rejection of unity). However this divisive behaviour meant that they also rejected their union with one another (and the rest of creation). Without the presence of God (in union) in their lives they could not continue relating as they did before (love in unity).

Any union apart from God is not real unity. Instead of growing and strengthening the human union, mankind have perpetuated the disunity and corruption started in the fall (they couldn’t do any different). Self-interest coupled with a strong desire of to hide and conceal replaced unity marked by freedom of relationship (unity).

The link between the sin of the first man (Adam) and the continued sinfulness of the human race has been described as a riddle of sin, however understanding it as a riddle of unity produces significant insights into the profound connection between all humans.

What needs to be understood is that the sin of Adam cut the human race off from God who is the source of life and love. Relationship (unity) with God is an important part of the human environment, without it life as God intended is impossible. Therefore the life lived apart from God is not life, but is in fact death (Genesis 2).

The living dead
Because the flesh of Adam has been removed from its natural environment (unity in God) it will slowly deteriorate until it dies. No matter how much life in disunity looks like the real thing it is only a shadow of true life (unity) in God.

When God first gave Adam the command not to eat, God warned him that if he ate of the fruit (of the knowledge of good and evil) he would die (Genesis 2:15-17). Because the fruit did not prove to be poisonous, as they did not expire immediately after they ate, death needs to be viewed as more than just a physical event. What becomes clear is that the flesh of Adam will continue on, for a time, until it expires. Which essentially means that for a time Adam will live on as a dead man.

Adam’s status as “living dead” is ultimately confirmed when God curses him “…in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;” (Genesis 3:17) “…till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (vs19)

Original sin (love lost)
As previously mentioned Adam and Eve still share the same flesh and they are still married, what did change was their attitude to both (their marriage and flesh). What mankind lost in the fall is in fact the self-sacrificial love of God required for unity (this will be expanded on in later posts). Meaning that Adam and Eve (all humanity) are incapable of relating to God, one another and creation properly (love in unity).

If God truely is love (1 John 4:7-8), there can be no love apart from unity with him. While Adam and Eve’s new nature seems to have become exclusively human, it is still in fact defined with respect to the nature of God (only now in the negative sense,i.e. not like God). Therefore the nature of mankind is “not love” (not good, sinful and evil).

By breaking unity with God Adam cut himself/humanity off from the source of love and life. If the break in the union were to have no effect on the life force and nature of mankind then it would be right to say that unity with God is superfluous (non-essential). However given that sin and death are so pervasive in humanity it is safe to conclude that unity with God is essential for true life to exist.

This is how the sin of Adam was transmitted to all humanity:
1. To be human is to share in the flesh of Adam through the process of marriage, sex, conception and birth.
2. At the time of the fall all mankind was yet unborn and still in Adam’s flesh when he rebelled against God.
3. Therefore each new human is born into a state (relationship) of disunity with God, cut off from life and love himself (God). Unable to please God because they do not have access to (Godly) love in unity. In this way Adam cut his entire race off from God condemning them to a perpetual state of sin and death.

The writer of Hebrews seems to understand how the union of the flesh of Adam works. In speaking of Melchizadek and Abraham he says:

See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
(Hebrews 7:4-10 ESV)

Seeing that there is still some small semblance of unity in the flesh (of Adam), Levi yet unborn and still residing in the flesh of Abraham can be seen to be tithing to Melchizedek. This is how it was with all mankind, who were united in the flesh of Adam when he broke union with God (who is love and life itself). Therefore because of the sin of Adam all who are born into his flesh are destined to share in his fate and live apart from God (unable to please him).

After Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit (of the knowledge of good and evil) their eyes were opened, just as the serpent had promised. However instead of making them more like God they became less like him. In this post I will seek to answer the question: Why was it such a profound thing for Adam and Eve to realise they were naked?

So to recap, in Genesis 2 God created Eve and united her and Adam together because “It is not good from man to be alone…”(Genesis 2:18, ESV). Eve was created from the flesh of Adam making her a suitable to be his helper. After Adam saw her he was overjoyed, because he had finally found what he was looking for in all creation (a human helper). Therefore their flesh was the symbol of their union. This is why Genesis 2:25 is so important, stating that that Adam and Eve were both naked and neither of them was ashamed of their flesh, because they had a perfect working union.

Therefore it becomes clear why it is such an important and profound thing to say that Adam and Eve were so ashamed of their naked bodies and that they wanted to cover them. No longer does their flesh symbolise perfect unity, instead it has come to symbolise their treachery, shame and broken unity. The term flesh has so much negativity associated with it in the Bible after Genesis 2 that in Paul’s letter to the Romans he uses the term flesh to represent everything that is wrong with humanity (e.g. Romans 8). This is the flesh that Adam received from God (who judged it as good), the same flesh Eve received from Adam (he loved her at first sight because of it). So in the end their flesh and the clothing they use to cover it became a symbol of the broken union of Adam (humanity).

The accusations of Adam
The fractured union of Adam and Eve (and creation) is further highlighted when God confronts Adam with his transgression. Immediately he blames both God and Eve for what happened, “The woman whom you gave to be with me…” (Genesis 3:12). The pride of Adam is on full display here, before he was content to hide from God, now he boldly accuses God of giving him a helper that is not only unsuitable but outright evil (to his face).

In light of Genesis 1-2 there are three important implications of Adam’s accusations:
• The unity between God and man is broken. Adam accuses God of evil, of giving him a helper that is not just unsuitable but capable of insurrection
• The unity of mankind is broken. In Adam’s own words Eve’s flesh is his flesh and her bone is his bone, she was made from his flesh. The basis of their union was Adam’s flesh, for him to claim that Eve was inadequate is to completely deny their union and in the process he implies that he is defective. Such is the profound connection between members; to hate another is to hate yourself.
• The first husband turns against his wife. The union of mankind is broken, along with any hope for future unity. Adam is Eve’s husband, their marriage was designed to unify humanity and provide a relational mechanism by which humanity is to perpetuate and strengthen the union of Adam’s flesh.

Therefore it becomes clear Adam and Eve no longer seek to maintain and perpetuate the unity of Adam’s flesh in marriage, but rather out of self-interest they maintain and perpetuate a state of bastardised unity. Losing this union of family and species is a significant part of the image of God which humanity lost in the fall. Where there was once unity there is now disunity, individuals sharing in Adam’s flesh and not acting in accordance with the order of marriage God had given (Eve leading and Adam following).

So what has actually changed?
While remnants of their union remained, they still shared in Adam’s flesh and were still married, however their union was broken. At this point the union of man reveals itself to be more than just flesh (form) and marriage (order). What does seem to have changed is their attitude to both. They no longer view each others bodies and the order of their marriage as good things. Therefore unity must be seen as more than just form and order, it also includes some sort of attitude.

So what is this attitude? While it is not overtly stated in the passage, it can be inferred from the events in Genesis 1-3 with the following observations:
• When Adam saw Eve for the first time it was love at first sight because she shared his flesh. He was over joyed to see her (a positive attitude)
• When they realised they were naked they were ashamed of it (their flesh). This is at least dislike or at most hate (negative attitude)
• When God confronts Adam about his sin he shifts blame to Eve (pushes her under the bus). Adam reveals his attitude to Eve is at least apathy or at most hatred coupled with an instinct of self-preservation/interest.

Therefore what seems to be missing from their relationship is self-sacrificial love (the love of God). This will be discussed more in my next post.

In Genesis 3, the unity that existed with God (in the beginning) is broken (general and human). Becoming a bastardised shadow of its former glory. By breaking unity with God Adam disqualified himself and his race from taking part in the union of all things in God, leaving creation without a head. Yet the fall of mankind was not heralded by a clash of cosmic forces or terrestrial rumblings and the destruction of the very fabric of the cosmos. Instead it came with a realisation by a man and his wife that they were naked (exposed), not only to each other but before God, and they were ashamed of it.

What was the fall of man? In short the fall was the beginning of mankind’s rebellion against God, leading to the bastardisation of the union of man and severing of mankind’s union with God and the rest of creation. These are the events and actions described in Genesis 3:
• Adam and Eve broke Gods command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
• The Serpent, a lower creature than man, questioned the command God had given to mankind,
• Eve, who was created from Adam, judged the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to be “good” for food, when God had judged it “not good”,
• Adam accepts the judgement of Eve over the judgement of God, and
• Adam and Eve reassess/judge the nudity of their flesh (that they were created in) as bad, in contrast to the judgement of God which was “good”.

Combined these observations form the substance of mankind’s rebellion against God and the destruction of unity in creation.

In Genesis 1 mankind was created to rule over creation under God. Man was given dominion over “…the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). This dominion was only to be exercised by mankind in their capacity as the image bearer(s) of God. Therefore man’s rule over creation was contingent on Adam and Eve ruling consistently with who God is (who they were created to be). Meaning that mankind must accept God’s judgement of creation as “very good” and produce a rule that is as equally consistent with who God is. This also means they must uphold God’s judgement of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, i.e. it is “not good” for food (eating it would be inconsistent with their rule under God).

When Eve was deceived by the serpent she judged the fruit as “good” for food based on the serpent’s wisdom (lies). The Bible shows that Eve knew God’s command and understood it, because she repeats it to the serpent with more detail than was initially given to Adam in Genesis 2 (Genesis 3:3). Instead of upholding the judgement of God Eve entertains the serpent’s lies, ultimately accepting the serpent’s (and her own) judgement over God’s.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
(Genesis 3:6 ESV)

To make the situation worse Adam was with her when she took the fruit and ate, yet he did nothing (vs7). The command not to eat was given to Adam by God before Eve was created, implying that he was the one who taught it to her. So after Eve had eaten she gave the fruit to Adam and he ate. While Eve was lied to and deceived by the serpent Adam ate willingly, without compulsion, making his failure and the fall of mankind completely his fault.

As the head of the human race Adam was entrusted with a headship that needed to reflect the headship of God over all things. It was also Adam’s responsibility as head of his specific union and marriage to make sure that Eve knew, understood and obeyed the judgements of God, leading by example. Instead of asking his wife “where did you get this fruit?” he surrendered to her judgement without a word. Adam undermined his own headship by endorsing the headship and judgement of his wife instead of God’s.

My next post I will discuss the fall of mankind in more detail.