The Sin and Fall of Adam (and Eve)

January/February, 2011
Volume 46, Number 1

The first eleven chapters of Genesis are considered basic to a proper understanding of the rest of the Bible. Here we are introduced to our Creator God who designed the universe and the world in which we live. We are given a description of the first human couple, Adam and Eve, who were placed in the Garden of Eden and were given responsibility to care for their new home and its surroundings. Soon an act of disobedience was committed, and as a result, a serious consequence known as “The Fall” entered into the human experience. But just about as quickly, the promise of a coming Redeemer was also assured.

The themes begun in Genesis can be found winding their way throughout the following sixty- five books of the Bible and continue to touch many issues alive in the world today. Issues such as creation versus evolution, male/female relationships, the consequences of sin and judgment, and how a sinful person may come into a saving relationship with a Holy God—all have their origins in Genesis.

In our faith journeys we are given a simple but profound place of beginning in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Trying to go farther back from that point usually involves a lot of speculation. But going forward from that point, through God’s Word, we are given a trustworthy guide to direct our ways. In describing the ways of God the Scriptures simply describe Him as being “from everlasting to everlasting,”–a phrase which means from the vanishing point to the vanishing point of our understanding. A proper understanding of Genesis is basic to getting everything else right in the Bible.

The featured article in this WITNESS is adapted from the Brethren Old Testament Commentary (BOTC) on Genesis, recently published by the Brethren Revival Fellowship. The Brethren New Testament Commentary (BNTC) series is now being completed and is available for purchase, either volume by volume, or as a complete set. It is not yet known how many volumes from the Old Testament will be developed, but it was felt that since Genesis is so basic to our understanding of the rest of the Bible that it would be a good companion piece to be used along with the New Testament set of commentaries.

Also beginning with this issue of the WITNESS, Eric Brubaker will be assuming more of the leg work in the publishing of the bi-monthly WITNESS articles. This is done to relieve Harold Martin from some of his duties which he has fulfilled in a major way for over forty years. Harold turned eighty years old this past summer and it is fitting that we pause to give praise to God for the way in which his writing skills have produced so many written and edited materials. In earlier years, his pen has traveled many miles over many handwritten pieces of paper, and now more recently, more efficiently by using computer technology. It is doubtful that there is any Brethren person alive today who has done more writing and with such carefulness and clarity than Brother Harold Martin. We also thank Priscilla, his wife of sixty years, who has stood by him faithfully supporting him in his work.

The decision to give Harold some relief now seems providential since a couple weeks after the BRF Committee made this decision, Harold needed to undergo a very serious heart operation including five bypasses. We are grateful that the recovery is going well and God is giving healing to his body. Harold will continue to do final editorial work and more writing as he is able. Would you believe that through this operation when his pen had to be laid down for a time, that Harold feared that he was becoming lazy! He may not be quite perfect but certainly laziness is not one of his weaknesses. BRF covets your prayers that we may ever share the faithful, Bible-based witness in the Church of the Brethren and beyond.

—James F. Myer

The Sin and Fall of Adam and Eve

Genesis 3:1-24

The entire question about why sin has been included in the plan of God for human beings is ultimately something which we cannot answer. The Genesis account tells how sin entered the human race, but not how sin came into being. Questions about the origin of evil simply cannot be answered. Those answers are wrapped up in the mysteries of God’s eternal counsels.

We learn in Genesis 1 and 2 that the first man and the first woman were created as upright beings. At the conclusion of the creation week, we are told that “God saw everything He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).1 That included the creation of man, but now in Genesis 3 we learn about the fall of Adam and Eve from their state of perfection.

The first man and the first woman lived in a beautiful Garden, and shared a pleasant life in a sterling environment. They were innocent and perfect creatures who were created by a perfect God. There was no taint of sin in the lives of Adam and Eve—but then something happened.

There was a great fall! Asa result, men and women today find that it is easier to do wrong than to do right. We have a natural bias toward evil. One of the far-reaching results of Adam’s sin is that the human heart “is deceitful above all things, and desparately wicked” (Jeremiah 17: 9). The sin of Adam and Eve affects all mankind.

This section is a pivot point of the Bible. If the account in Genesis 3 is only a storyteller’s tale, and is not true, the rest of the Scriptures are meaningless.

Because Adam was our representative, sin entered the entire human race—and so all are “under sin” (Galatians 3:22)—which means that every human being is under sin’s grip. We have inherited a sin nature. The disposition to do wrong lies deep in each individual’s life. One tragic result of Adam’s sin is the fact that every human being has been born with possibilities for evil engraved in his nature.

The Bible does not teach that men and women began at the bottom [as savages], and slowly but surely climbed upwards. Rather, the message of the Bible is that mankind started at the top and fell to the bottom. Like Humpty Dumpty, there has been a great fall.

Adam and Eve were given a test. It started with one single prohibition. There was a certain tree in the center of the Garden of Eden, of which Adam and Eve were not to eat. But upon the suggestion of the serpent, they rebelled against God’s clear instruction and chose to disobey His command. The Bible record of the fall of Adam and Eve is the only adequate and reasonable explanation for the present condition of the human race.

The Bible account of the “fall” explains the tendencies toward doing wrong, even in the natures of little children. It also accounts for the presence of evil in the world that has been made by a perfect Creator. The account in Genesis 3 does not fill in every detail, but the major truth about the fall is altogether clear.

1. The Temptation and Fall into Sin (3:1-7)

When God created Adam and Eve, He placed them in the Garden and He instructed them to “tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). That was followed by a command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for in the day they would eat fruit from that tree, they would “surely die” (2:16-17). God had given a command, and it was enough to test their obedience to Him.

The Bible says that the serpent was the instrument of the temptation. The real tempter is identified as Satan in Revelation 12:9. It was the devil who deceived the world. The devil is the enemy of God, and it was Satan who questioned God’s right to place a prohibition upon Adam and Eve. Satan stated the exact opposite of what God had said to the woman. He said, “You will not surely die” (3:4).

Adam surely shared with Eve the command which God had given him• [before Eve was created] about the trees in the Garden (2:16-17). Apparently Eve felt that for all practical purposes, God had given them everything—and the one single restriction was very trivial (3:2-3), She said, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden” (3:2b), but the fruit of one tree, we are not to touch or to eat.

Eve seemed satisfied with the restriction, but Satan implied that if God is a good God, He would not withhold anything from them. Satan’s major premise was, Restrictions are not good, and since God’s plan is restrictive, His plan is not good. That argument marks the difference between the “broad” road and the “narrow” road which Jesus talked about in Matthew 7:13-14.

Adam and Eve decided that God was wrong and that the serpent was right. They made a willful and deliberate decision to defy God’s authority, and determined to decide themselves what was good and what was evil, instead of listening obediently to the voice of God.

Satan assured Eve that she would not die if she ate of the forbidden fruit, but that she would have new knowledge. The woman believed Satan rather than God. She examined the forbidden fruit, partook of it, and gave some to her husband (3:6b)—but the sin of Adam and Eve was more than merely eating the forbidden fruit. It was disobeying the revealed word of God. It was believing the lie of Satan. It was placing their own will above God’s will. And as a result, there were some severe penalties.

But someone will say, Why did God allow man to be tempted? Why didn’t He create Adam so that he could not have done wrong? The answer most likely is this: God could have created Adam without the capacity for sinning—but then Adam would not have had a free will; he would have been a mere machine. God was not desirous of having His creatures love Him and obey Him because they were forced to love Him, or because there was no other alternative. He wanted them to act as they did because they wanted to! So God created man with the potential for evil and for good, and gave humans the power to choose whichever they wished. Adam and Eve chose to do evil.

When Adam and Eve made the wrong choice, they deliberately acted against better knowledge and decided to defy God’s Word, and as a result of the great tragedy, mankind fell from the created state of innocence and fellowship with God—to the present state of alienation from God.

2. The Consequences of Disobedience (3:8-21)

Adam and Eve committed one simple act of transgression against God; it had far-reaching consequences. The results of Adam’s sin included both judgment and grace. There was shame and fear and estrangement from God, but already in (3:15) there was the promise of a Savior.

a. Conviction and confession (3:8-13)

God brought immediate punishment because of the sin of Adam and Eve. Verses 8- 13 describe the shame and fear and estrangement from God which Adam and Eve experienced as soon as they had sinned (3:7).

God asked several questions very soon after they had sinned—verses 9, 11, and 13. The questions were asked not to gain information, but to compel confession. Both Adam and Eve confessed their sin when they said, “and I ate” (verses 12-13)—but they tried to evade responsibility for their actions by blaming others. Adam even insinuated that God was partly responsible, but blaming others did not prevent the couple from receiving the consequences.

Terror and dread now paralyzed Adam and Eve, even though the Lord did not approach them with harshness. He was seeking through tenderness to elicit a favorable response—but Adam and Eve began to offer excuses, and tried to pass the responsibility on to another. When the Lord confronted them, Adam blamed God— and Eve! He answered, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree” (3: 12). And Eve blamed the serpent! She said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (3:13).

Each basically said, “It’s not my fault.” Fallen human nature tries to weasel out of difficulties by blaming others, even blaming God, as Adam did: “the woman You gave to…me” (3:12).

The section which follows describes the penalties which God pronounced upon the individual parties that were involved in the fall.

b. Condemnation and judgment (3:14-21)

The judgment upon the serpent was that he should crawl in the dust and even feed on it. He would move from place to place by slithering his way on the ground, and would be hated by humans. The serpent may not have been crawling on his belly when he approached Eve in the Garden, but now he would be a loathsome reptile (3:14).

The words, “And will put enmity between you and the woman” (3:15), declare that the time will come when the “Seed” of a woman (3:15), shall bruise Satan’s head. The words of verse 15 were spoken to Satan. God said that an individual from among the woman’s Seed will deal a deathblow to Satan—and even though the devil seems to be doing his worst as the current age of grace moves on, one day the Seed of the woman will crush him, and Satan’s doom will surely come. Jesus will bruise Satan’s head [a deathblow]; Satan shall bruise Jesus’ heel [cause suffering]. So, way back in Genesis 3:15, God told of the time when Jesus (the Seed of the woman) would crush Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit (Romans 16:20; Revelation 20:10).

The judgment upon the woman was a declaration that now there was to be submission to her husband’s leadership, that conception would be multiplied, and that there would be increased pain in childbearing (3:16). Some Bible students believe that the clause “Your desire shall be for your husband,” speaks of the woman’s natural desire to bear children and thus fulfill her maternal instinct.

The judgment upon the man was that now he would be doomed to physical hardship, to toil and labor by the sweat of his brow, and to struggle against thorns and thistles all the days of his life. Work would involve difficult toil, and there would be disappointing vexations. Adam’s pleasant work in the garden had now become toil, and would be done by the sweat of the brow. Weariness would become his daily experience (3:17-19).

There was also a curse upon the earth itself. God said, “Cursed is the ground for your sake” (verse 17b). Formerly the earth had yielded its produce abundantly and freely, but now, as a result of the curse, one can find great stretches of wasteland on every continent of earth. And there are typhoons and tornadoes, blizzards and volcanoes, terrible deserts and savage beasts. There is a corruption in all nature. All things [living and nonliving] tend to wear out, run down, and grow old. Food spoils and decays. Automobiles wear out. Gardens produce weeds. The whole creation is travailing in pain, waiting for the deliverance that will come when Jesus returns (Romans 8:21-22).

The text states that Eve was the mother of each person (and of each clan of people) on earth (3:20). Verse 21 explains that God made coverings of animal skins to replace the inadequate “fig leaves” (3:7) which did not fully provide concealment of the nakedness which Adam and Eve sensed after they had sinned.

The consequences listed in (3:14-19) are the immediate results of Adam’s sin, but in addition to these, the New Testament writers explain that there have been far-reaching results. Since Adam sinned, each human being has become involved in his transgression. Romans 5:12 explains that “just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin…death spread to all men.”

As a result of Adam’s sin [because he was our representative], sin entered the entire human race—and so all are “under sin” (Galatians 3:22)—that is, every human being is under sin’s grip. We have inherited a sin nature. The disposition to do wrong lies deep in each individual’s life. One of the tragic results of Adam’s sin is the fact that the entire human race became depraved2 and corrupt.

The fall of man explains why the human heart has a bent toward sinning. The New England Primer says it well: “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.”3

Every human being in his natural state, Since the time of the fall in Genesis 3, is a sinful selfish, fallen creature, who stands in need of a complete transformation. This is not the popular view of human nature, but it is the biblical view.4 We like to cherish the idea that while we are not perfect, at least we are good at heart. That is not true.

3. The Expulsion from the Garden (3:22-24)

There was some truth in Satan’s lie to Eve, when he said to her that she would become like God (3:5). When Adam and Eve were driven from the garden, some angelic beings were stationed at the gate to prevent man from eating of the tree of life (3:22, 24). If Adam and Eve would have partaken of the tree of life, now that they had sinned in defying God’s clear command, they would have lived forever in their sinful state. It would have involved living unendingly in bodies subject to sickness and infirmity.

The expulsion from the Garden of Eden had a twofold purpose. It was both a punishment and an act of mercy. God, in an act of mercy, barred Adam and Eve from the garden, now that they had rebelled and sinned against God—so that they might not take also of the tree of life and live forever in their sinful state.

The Lord, with loving concern, kept Adam and Eve away from eating fruit that would make them immortal (2:23), and thus have had them live forever in the sad condition to which sin had brought them.

It is in Genesis 3 that we learn about what is commonly called “the original sin.” The teaching about the “original sin”5 is not a description of a quaint story about a garden with an apple. It is an explanation of what is wrong with all of us. It is an attempt to answer the question—”From where comes all this evil, in us, and around us?”

In the New Testament the Apostle Paul speaks about the sin of the first man, Adam, and then says that “through one man’s offense, judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation” (Romans 5:18)—and declares that “both Jews and Greeks…are all under sin” (Romans 3:9). The verse does not say that all people commit sins, nor does it say that all people are sinners [even though we are]—but the text clearly says that all are “under sin.” That is, every human being has inherited the sin nature from Adam (Romans 5:12), and thus each man, woman, and child down through the years has been a prisoner of sin. Adam’s sin has predisposed every descendant of his to be infected with a sin nature. We are programmed to do wrong!

All of us want to feel good about ourselves, yet deep down within, we know that we’ve made our share of blunders in life. We’ve done things that are wrong. We have not always been absolutely honest. We’ve had impure thoughts. We’ve made unwise decisions. We are far from perfect!

The concept of the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden may not make a lot of sense in its own right, but it helps make sense of a lot of other things in life!

When we hear of Susan Smith drowning her two young children, or the brutal beating and killing of a little two boy by a twelve-year-old relative, or the mass killings in Africa [Rwanda and Sudan], or the murder of innocent people in Red Lake High School [in northern Minnesota], or the massacre of young Amish girls [in a school in Pennsylvania]—we should recognize that these are not abnormal happenings, but are the product of self-centered natures resulting from the Fall.

Human beings, because of the far-reaching effects of the original sin [the resulting human depravity], are given to pride, greed, lust, hatred, impatience, jealousy, laziness, and procrastination. Those who talk about efforts to bring about major change in society often refuse to accept the Bible account of the original sin as a fact.

The Bible teaches that God created man in His own image but that humans fell and became sinful. Liberal theologians do not believe that man’s original nature has been corrupted; rather, they view human nature as being intrinsically good, and having the potential of developing further. What is needed, they say, is not some radical transformation by grace from without—but instead, more education to nurture the strengths and ideals that are within man.

Believers need a new recognition of their sinfulness. Our Sunday best is a facade to cover up the darkness that we know lurks inside us. We must restore our awareness of sin—and hate it, fear it, flee from it, and grieve over it. We will never feel the need for salvation if we don’t know that we have done anything wrong. Our natures are depraved, and we are inclined to do wrong—not that at every point we are as bad as we possibly can be, but that at no point is anyone as good as he should be!
1 When God looked at His creation, from the biggest star He had made, to the tiniest blade of grass—it brought joy to His heart. God said of the creation, “Indeed it [is] very good” (Genesis 1:31).

2 Depravity does not mean that man is in a state where he never does anything good at all. Occasionally we find traces of the divine image, but it is always marred. Depravity does not mean that every sinner lives as wickedly as he possibly can, and that unsaved people cannot perform deeds of kindness—but it does mean that corruption has entered every faculty of man’s being. Most people have some nice qualities, but underneath the surface each one has the potential for evil. In one moment a man can do a noble deed; in the next moment he can become almost like a beast.

3 New Age advocates teach that people must remember the presence and potential of the divine nature that is within them, and so they view Christianity as a pernicious influence because its message teaches universal sin.

4 Sometimes people ask why the Fall of man should hang on such an insignificant matter as eating a little fruit from a tree. Actually, the sin was not in the eating of the fruit, but in the disobedience and the rebellion prior to that act. Christians receive a new nature and then use spiritual disciplines to stimulate the growth of the new nature, and to depress the pull of the old nature.

5 John Taylor, an English minister of Norwich, cried, “What a God must he be, who can curse his innocent creatures before thy have a being. Is this thy God, 0 Christian?” (From Original Sin: A Cultural History, Alan Jacobs, reviewed in Christianity Today, July, 2008, page 54).

The article published here is adapted from the BOTC Commentary on Genesis, written by Harold Martin and published by Brethren Revival Fellowship.

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Captivity… Dreams… Rulers… Fire… Lions… Prayers… Kingdoms. From a dedicated youth to a faithful sage, Daniel’s life stands as an example to follow.  Yet beyond his personal life, God gifted Daniel with a message of future events.  Though difficult to grasp, these events would shape the world for the coming Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ as King.


Luke presents a warmly personal and historically accurate account of Jesus as “the Son of Man.” This course will survey the Third Gospel, with emphasis on the unique events, miracles, and parables of Jesus found in it.


This class will provide a broad overview of general church history. We will then focus on the Anabaptist and Pietist movements, especially as they relate to the formation and development of the Brethren groups. This is a two-part class. Plan to take both parts.


This course is intended to lay down a measure in a world where truth is slippery and often subject to interpretation. Where “Christian Values” become a political slogan, and “good people” are our allies despite their faulty core beliefs. Where Facebook “friends” post memes about the power of God, despite a lifestyle that is anything but Godly. In the process we often fight among ourselves, doing Satan’s work for him. The purpose of this course is to lay the measure of Jesus Christ against the cults, religions, and worship in our contemporary world.


While Protestant translations of the Bible contain 66 books, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize additional canonical books as well.  Where did these books, collectively known as the Apocrypha, come from and why aren’t they part of our Bible?  How reliable are they, and what value is there in studying them?


The goal of this class is to acquire a firm grasp of the teachings and themes of these two general epistles. Peter covers topics from salvation and suffering to spiritual deception and the return of Christ. These letters are packed with warnings and encouragements for Christian living.


A detailed study of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the “I Am” metaphors in John’s gospel. Why did Jesus describe himself in these terms? How do they relate to each other? We will look at spiritual and practical applications to further our Christian growth.


Have you ever been visited by someone who said they wanted to study the Bible with you so that you might discover the truth together?  Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to have much in common with evangelical Christians, and they seem to be well versed in the scriptures.  But what do they really believe and how can we effectively witness to those who have been ensnared by this false religion?


While we may consider Hosea as one of the minor prophets, his message vividly illustrates the major doctrine in all Scriptures.  The theme of God’s unconditional love is magnified and extended beyond those deserving it.  God expresses tender words towards His erring people inviting them to turn from sin to reconciliation with Him.


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The Brethren Bible Institute believes in the discipline of the whole person (spirit, soul, and body). We will aim to train students not only about how to study the Bible in a systematic way (2 Timothy 2:15), but also how to live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12). God calls Christians to the highest of character when He commands us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15), and holiness requires discipline.

Indulgence in the use of tobacco, alcoholic beverages, drugs, profanity, and gambling are forbidden at BBI. Objectionable literature will be prohibited. Students are asked not to use the college pool during the Institute. Each student must be thoughtful, and respect the rights of others at all times, especially during study and rest periods.

A friendly social group intermingling of students between class periods, and at general school activities is encouraged. Each student should enjoy the friendship of the entire group. At all times, highest standards of social conduct between men and women must be maintained. This means that all forms of unbecoming behavior and unseemly familiarities will be forbidden.

Personal appearance and grooming tell much about one's character. Students are expected to be dressed in good taste. In an attempt to maintain Scriptural expressions of simplicity, modesty, and nonconformity, the following regulations shall be observed while attending BBI.

MEN should be neatly attired and groomed at all times. Fashion extremes and the wearing of jewelry should be avoided on campus. The hair should not fall over the shirt-collar when standing, nor should it cover the ears.

WOMEN should wear skirts cut full enough and of sufficient length to at least come to the knees when standing and sitting. Form-fitting, transparent, low-neckline, or sleeveless clothing will not be acceptable. Slacks and culottes are permitted only for recreation and then only when worn under a skirt of sufficient length. Wearing jewelry should be avoided on campus. Long hair for women is encouraged and all Church of the Brethren girls (and others with like convictions) shall be veiled on campus.

The Institute reserves the right to dismiss any student whose attitude and behavior is not in harmony with the ideals of the School, or whose presence undermines the general welfare of the School, even if there is no specific breach of conduct.

The Brethren Bible Institute is intended to provide sound Bible teaching and wholesome Christian fellowship for all who desire it. The Bible School Committee worked hard and long at the task of arriving at standards, which will be pleasing to the Lord. It is not always easy to know just where the line should be drawn and we do not claim perfection. No doubt certain standards seem too strict for some and too loose for others. If you are one who does not share all these convictions, we hope you will agree to adjust to them for the School period, for the sake of those who do. We are confident that the blessings received will far outweigh any sacrifice you may have to make. If you have a special problem or question, please write to us about it. To be accepted as a student at BBI, you will need to sign a statement indicating that you will cooperate with the standards of the School.