Did Adam sin out of love for Eve?
Published: 26 January 2014 (GMT+10)
Illustrated by Caleb Salisbury
Somewhere along the way between God speaking to Adam, and Eve telling the serpent what God said, the message about the ‘forbidden fruit’ had become distorted.
Russell Grigg’s feedback article of 11 January 2014 has generated some (unexpected) further feedback, namely that Adam sinned out of love for Eve, and that he and Eve were not arrogant towards God. We present these comments below, and Russell’s response to the points they raise.
Vincenso R., United Kingdom, 11 January 2014
Hi, I don’t think Mark 7:21–22 can apply to Adam, because Adam, before the Fall, didn’t have a sinful nature. Adam makes a deliberate choice in sinning with Eve, I believe out of love. I believe He’s the first model of the Lord Jesus, who sacrifices himself for the sake of his bride.
Stephen G., United Kingdom, 11 January 2014
Maybe 1 Tim 2:14 simply means that Adam was unwilling to allow Eve to suffer God’s anger alone. Adam’s love for his wife was so great that though he was not deceived and fully understood the consequences of what he was doing he willingly partook in her sin. It’s hard to understand how Adam could have had such an arrogant attitude toward God when he was in a ‘perfect state’ and even before he had disobeyed the one command God gave. It’s true that out of the heart of fallen man comes arrogance however it’s not easy to grasp how arrogance came out of the heart of unfallen man. Further God judged Adam because (1) he listened to his wife and (2) he ate of the fruit of the tree (Gen. 3) not because he had an arrogant attitude.
Stephen C., Canada, 12 January 2014
It is true that Adam willingly disobeyed God. In this article, I read the suggestion that Adam had “an attitude” toward God. Do we know that? There is any number of reasons Adam sinned. It is probable in a pedagogic sense for our benefit that Adam’s sin was choosing himself (Eve) over God. Does that make Adam arrogant, or does this mean his priorities were wrong? Remember, as for his character, he sprung off the hand of God! Are you calling God a bad workman to suppose Adam was arrogant, when in his innocence he probably really loved Eve more than God’s command? The sinful world worthy of a flood came about after Adam died. If he were arrogant toward God before his fall, what a greater fall mankind should have had when then he introduced sin into the world. Think about it. Arrogance toward the living God is putting another before Him. That’s sin. So please consider retracting the supposition Adam was arrogant or with attitude, which is what caused him to sin. Jesus begs men to love their wives. Paul instructs men to do for wives what Christ does for His Bride: die for her. Adam died for Eve when he sinned, knowing she would die and life without her not worth living. That’s a heck of a lot more noble than playing into modern stereotypes about men and supposing the father of mankind was arrogant towards God in his innocent state.
Russell Grigg replies:
Greetings Vincenzo, Stephen G., and Stephen C. Thank you for your feedback.
The idea that Adam chose to sin out of love for Eve goes back a long way—at least as far as John Milton’s Paradise Lost:
[Adam speaking to Eve, in Book 9, lines 907–910]:
Certain my resolution is to Die;
How can I live without thee, how forgoe
Thy sweet Converse and Love so dearly joyn’d,
To live again in these wilde Woods forlorn?
[Milton’s narrative re Eve, lines 990–993]:
… she embrac’d him and for joy
Tenderly wept, much won that he his Love
Had so enobl’d, as of choice to incur
Divine displeasure for her sake, or Death.
[Adam speaking to Eve, lines 1165–67]
Who might have liv’d and joyd immortal bliss,
Yet willingly chose rather death with thee:
However, the biblical account does not present any motive that might lessen the seriousness of Adam’s transgression. When God confronts Adam, Adam doesn’t cite his love for Eve; he blames Eve: “the woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). And not only does Adam blame Eve for giving him the fruit, by implication, he blames God for giving him Eve.
Furthermore, the Bible does not present Adam’s sin as a model for anyone to copy, least of all the Lord Jesus. When the Bible speaks of Jesus as the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), it is referring to the fact that Adam was the head of the human race, while Jesus Christ is the head of redeemed humanity. Since Christ died once for all time, there will never be the need for any further ‘Adam’. Hence Jesus is the last Adam. See creation.com/first-adam-last-adam.
As to whether Adam and Eve displayed arrogance towards God, let’s compare what God said to Adam, with what Eve said to Satan. In Genesis 2:16–17 God told Adam, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” But there are some subtle differences when Eve recounts this command 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’” (Genesis 3:2–3).
Note that Eve exaggerates the prohibition: God had not said not to touch the tree or its fruit. She minimizes the penalty by saying “lest you die”, when God had said “you shall surely die”. She minimizes the privileges they enjoy, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees” [except one], but God had said “you may surely [KJV: freely] eat of every tree” [except one]. She omits the name of the forbidden tree, and merely gives its location “in the middle of the garden”, which is not in the original commandment.1 Then when Satan denies the word of God by saying, “You will not surely die …” thereby implying that God had lied, Eve believes Satan and disbelieves God.
Illustrated by Caleb Salisbury
Decisions, decisions … which to choose? Right? Or wrong?
So, somewhere between Adam’s receiving the command and his passing it on to Eve, there was a distortion of what God had actually said, a disbelief in the integrity and goodness of God, and finally a deliberate decision on the part of both of them to disobey the command of God. In short, they both totally rejected God’s authority over them. How could two people in a ‘perfect state’ sin in this arrogant way? What the Word of God teaches is not only that they did, but also, if we had been there, we would have done the same thing!
Calvin makes the point that “never would they have dared to resist God unless they had first been incredulous of His word”.2 So at the very least, at the moment they ate the fruit, they did not really believe God.
Keil and Delitzsch write:
As distrust of God’s command leads to a disregard of it, so the longing for a false independence excites a desire for the seeming good that has been prohibited; and this desire is fostered by the senses, until it brings forth sin. Doubt, unbelief, and pride were the roots of the sin of our first parents, as they have been of all the sins of their posterity.3
To summarize then: Adam and Eve each chose to disobey a specific command of God—not out of altruism on Adam’s part, or as a sudden whim or impulse on the part of either of them. The marvellous thing for us is that through the redemption that Christ accomplished for us by means of His death and Resurrection, we can live in a right relationship with God here and now, and then be with Him through all eternity.
References and notes
- Adapted from Currid, J.D., Genesis Vol. 1, Evangelical Press, New York, 2003, p. 118. Return to text.
- Calvin, J., Genesis, translated and edited by John King, Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1965, p. 154. Return to text.
- Keil, C.F., and Delitzsch, F., Biblical Comment on the Old Testament Vol. 1, The Pentateuch, Eerdmans, Michigan, pp. 95–96. Return to text.
The idea that Adam sinned because he loved his wife is a fair interpretation of the intentions that exist in the word of God. I choose to hope that, that was one of the main reasons, however I am not brave enough to proclaim that, that was Adams reason, I would prefer to wait to go be with the Lord and ask Adam directly.
I thought the Bible taught the principle of headship! After Eve ate the fruit the text does not indicate that she felt any difference in her state. It was only after Adam ate the fruit that they both noticed the change in their state. Adam was on speaking terms with God so presumably he could have asked God what he should do about what Eve had done. He obviously did not choose to do that. We should all take heed of Prov. 3: 5
Since God is love and the necessary starting point for anything since He is self contained (and people are not-we live in Him) it is impossible for Adam to do something out of love (in the true sense of the word) for Eve that opposes God - and this he knew for he was not deceived.
He "was with her" (Gen 3:6)
So he knew but did not act to restrain his wife
This is akin to Prov 24:22-12
Furthermore if Adam pleaded to God for his wife would He not have gone a long way ? As He did with Abraham when he pleaded for Sodom and Gomorrah ?
Before we even get to the point of Adam and Eve sinning...what were they doing? They were hanging out by the tree God told them they could have no part of, or they would receive the reward of death in their disobedience.
That amazes me.
Next where was Adam while Satan was deceiving Eve? He was listening. He was right there. If anyone had guilt more than Eve, it was Adam, because he didn't question Satan. He didn't object, as Eve did until deceived...but they didn't have to be lured to the tree...they spent time around it. Their hearts were already working in foolish pride, just as Satan did in heaven, with 1/3 of the angels falling with him.
"Adam sinned out of love for Eve"???
Give me a break. If that held true, then why was his first reaction to call her out in the action? If he loved her so much, in the value others have stated, wouldn't he have told God, "It's all my fault God. I disobeyed. I'm sorry." No, he played the blame game, that even many of us do to justify sin.
Off the subject, I overheard a young man speaking to one of our pastors, and he was asking how much 'sexual sin' he could get away with. He talked about how he felt around his girlfriend..and the pastor said, "Well then marry her." A moment of silence took place, before he responded with he couldn't afford getting married, was too young, too immature for that responsibility...to which the pastor said, "well then break up with her." Once again silence...and then words of, "You just don't understand how much she means to me"...to which the pastor told him, "You are trying to justify that which you know isn't of God. You have to decide in standing in what you know is right, pleasing to God and undefiling in both you and your girlfriends walk with God, in covenant to each other and to Him...or not."
The idea that Adam was not in sin or other acts against God prior to his fall from grace is touching, however we need to understand that the angels that fell from their heavenly estate were also not in rebellion to God prior to falling from the heavens. What occurred in both cases was that the individuals who knew God and His authority decided to exercise their own wilful judgement, both were in a place where God had created them to be, how much clearer could it be. Christians today simply reverse that decision and determine to be in the place where God would have us to be, a place of love and obedience to the creator.
"Adam sinned out of love for Eve."
Seriously? How do people come up with stuff like this?
It's amazing what ridiculous conjectures people will devise rather than simply take the Bible to mean what it means.
Messianic Christian David Stern, in his Complete Jewish Bible, translates it this way (Gen 2:17), "You are not to eat from it, because on the day that you eat from it, it will become certain that you will die." If correct, this means that death's certainty, not its execution, would accompany the eating. I don't infer the "blame" in the response of each, rather the consecutive facts in honest answer to God's inquiry. The awareness of their disobedience to their Creator and Father, a holy God, brought about their fear, but they also had only each other in the whole world, so it's hard to believe that they would deliberately throw this divisive thing called Blame into the mix. Thank you all - good food for thought!
As with so many things in God's written Word to us, with regard to the details of the Fall, we are given what we NEED to know; not all that we might WANT to. May we surmise that we are free to use His gifts of reason, discernment, and imagination -- guided by the Holy Spirit -- to speculate about those missing details, as part of our communion with Him?
Just as we use those capacities to speculate regarding the dynamics involved with a catastrophic global Flood; or what is entailed by God stretching the fabric of our space-time continuum like a tent; it seems permissible to speculate that Adam, in his pre-fallen condition, was both instantly aware, and utterly dismayed to find, that Eve had abandoned her "first estate." May he have been moved by compassion and self-interest (i.e., the threat of being alone) -- and yes, love -- to join her in disobedience? Knowingly, rather than being deceived, as she was?
This action would not necessarily have been sacrificial on his part. And could be taken as an aspect of the unfathomable depth of the tale: that our best actions are ultimately ulterior, and disastrous in nature, whenever, and for whatever reason, they are performed either without concern for God's will, or in opposition to it.
Exactly as Keil and Delitzsch wrote, we find it also in James 1: 13-16:
"Let no man, being tempted, say, I am tempted of God. For God cannot be tempted by evil things, and himself tempts no one. But every one is tempted, drawn away, and enticed by his own lust; then lust, having conceived, gives birth to sin; but sin fully completed brings forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. "
God bless you!
I read this article, commentary and responses with great interest as it touches upon the fundamental natures of man given us by God. Ultimately the article proves the vital importance of having a personal relationship with our Savior as we would all fall short. Would be interesting to see more regarding the nature of God and man. Thanks for article and comments.
What if Adam, seeing Eve's predicament chose instead not to eat but called upon God on behalf of Eve?
It's sobering and frightening to me that Adam and Eve--"very good" humans with "very good" faculties--could make this horrendous, misguided choice against the command of the Creator of the universe. It's seems impossible to imagine why God would make the unparalleled sacrifice he did to save us far-fallen creatures with such muddied and perverted faculties from our greatly deserved eternal punishment, let alone give us eternal life with Him!
The article highlights a very real problem, not only for the exegesis of the Fall, but on many other doctrines, in that exegesis can quickly turn into eisegesis.
We do not know enough of the perfect world before the Fall, the best we can do is to make use of the status of the New Heavens and New Earth to have an idea about the pre-Fall earth.
Our impressions of what perfect was and what the perfect man would and would not do amounts to a hill of may-be's. Often enough we (as individuals) encounter something that we regard as perfect, but we are unable to relate to the morality of that perfect thing or moment and then tend to speculate about it. Fortunately we are not heading to the past but the future and our hope is on the new and sinless.
Sometime ago RC Sproul Snr gave a lecture on the existence of evil which gave some insight to the problem of a "perfect man" committing sin. He did not profess to give the answer, but to the contrary, professed that after a life time of ministry he is still not sure about the answer. The issue of freewill is necessary for the existence of evil, but is not sufficient for its existence.
To some extent (not totally so) the saved in Jesus Christ may also wonder about how a saved wretch continues to sin, on which status many also have given opinion without being able to fully explain it.
We should believe that pre-Fall Adam was sinless, he and his lady sinned and we carry the consequence thereof, but are offered everlasting righteous life through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
None of the alternatives provide any explanation neither any hope.
Our full understanding of sin and pre-Fall world is not so much the focus, but merely the acknowledgement that we need a Saviour. May be focus should be more on the hereafter.
It is clear that Adam and Eve lived for nearly a 1000 years and it is arrogant and vain to believe they never repented of their first recorded mistake in missing the mark of God's instructions.
If one has freedom of choice to sin then one also has freedom of choice to repent.
I can't understand why after 6000 years still it is discussed what would, what should, what could happen if......? What if Adam didn't eat, was Eve then driven out of the garden while Adam remained? Then God had to take an other rip from Adam to form a woman for him but what is with Eve outside? Had God to create a sinful man for Eve.....? So, it had to come as it did. Why not take the text as it is and give credit to the creator, that He did the right thing.
By the way with: "husbands love your wife"....it came 4000 years later, Adam hasn't heard it.
God gave the command to Adam, not to Eve. It was Adam eating the fruit that produced death. It would have been interesting if Adam said to Eve that he would not eat. I wonder how long they were in the garden before they ate. It could have been months or even a year. He used to talk to God in the cool of the evening. Maybe he thought God had forgotten by then and that it wouldn't matter. Just a thought. AL
It would seem obvious that if you truly love someone and they break God's commandments, the best thing is to point it out and try to help them find their way back, not join them in the sin. Adam did it because he wanted to, plain and simple.
Is it apparent from Scripture that two of God's creations -mankind as represented by Adam & Eve the very first of this family, but also the angel Lucifer and his followers, were created as perfect creations but with the capacity for freewill. Both chose to ignore the revelation of God that they had been given and sin. This is patent arrogance and pride in both.