Satan, the Fall, and a Look at Good and Evil

A web series carefully considering what the Bible says about Satan, evil in the world, and suffering.

Here at Answers in Genesis, there are people on both sides of this friendly in-house debate. Genesis 3:1–6 states the following:

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’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 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.’”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 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.”
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.

Those who believe Adam was present with Eve (the Woman) during the temptation point to the fact that Genesis 3:6 states that Eve gave some fruit to her husband who was “with her.” At first glance, this seems to settle the matter, but arguments have been raised against this.

First, the Scripture does not necessarily state that Adam was with Eve when she was deceived. It only mentions Adam when she ate. Many believe the phrase “with her” is out of context when applying it to the events in the previous section.

Many believe a small amount of time passed to permit Adam to arrive on the scene to see her pick the fruit, eat it, and give some to him to eat. Part of the reason for this small amount of time is due to events that took place between Eve speaking to the serpent and Adam eating. For example, Eve saw that the fruit was good to eat. How could she know the fruit was good to eat? Perhaps she saw an animal eat some of the fruit—maybe even the serpent. Keep in mind that man was forbidden to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but the Bible gives no indication that the animals couldn’t have eaten from it.

Then in Genesis 3:17, God rightly charges Adam of heeding the voice of his wife. This likely indicates there was a conversation between Adam and Eve after her discussion with the serpent. This will be covered in more detail in the coming paragraphs.

In fact, the Bible never says the serpent spoke to Adam and Eve but only to Eve. Only Eve responded, and it is highly unlikely that Adam wouldn’t respond at all if he was involved in the conversation—especially with the blatant errors spoken in the conversation. Logically, it is easier to deceive one person than two. Note the clever deception by the serpent in that he did not go by the Lord God’s created order. He did not go to Adam first, but instead went directly for Eve.

There was probably some small amount of time between the temptation and Eve’s eating the fruit, so the question arises whether or not it was enough time for Adam to arrive. Expositor Dr. John Gill wrote the following regarding Genesis 3:6:

and gave also to her husband with her; and gave also to her husband with her; that he might eat as well as she, and partake of the same benefits and advantages she hoped to reap from hence; for no doubt it was of good will, and not ill will, that she gave it to him; and when she offered it to him, it is highly probable she made use of arguments with him, and pressed him hard to it, telling him what delicious food it was, as well as how useful it would be to him and her. The Jews infer from hence, that Adam was with her all the while, and heard the discourse between the serpent and her, yet did not interpose nor dissuade his wife from eating the fruit, and being prevailed upon by the arguments used; or however through a strong affection for his wife, that she might not die alone, he did as she had done:1

Gill believed there was a discussion between the Woman and Adam after her deception. He even believed the Woman was indeed alone when deceived:

And he said to the woman; being alone, which he took the advantage of; not the serpent, but Satan in it; just as the angel spoke in Balaam’s ass;2

John Calvin stated the following in his commentary:

“And gave also unto her husband with her. From these words, some conjecture that Adam was present when his wife was tempted and persuaded by the serpent, which is by no means credible. Yet it might be that he soon joined her, and that, even before the woman tasted the fruit of the tree, she related the conversation held with the serpent, and entangled him with the same fallacies by which she herself had been deceived. Others refer the particle (immah,)“with her,” to the conjugal bond, which may be received. But because Moses simply relates that he ate the fruit taken from the hands of his wife, the opinion has been commonly received, that he was rather captivated with her allurements than persuaded by Satan’s impostures. {1} For this purpose the declaration of Paul is adduced,
‘Adam was not deceived, but the woman.’ (#1Ti 2:14).
But Paul in that place, as he is teaching that the origin of evil was from the woman, only speaks comparatively. Indeed, it was not only for the sake of complying with the wishes of his wife, that he transgressed the law laid down for him; but being drawn by her into fatal ambition, he became partaker of the same defection with her. And truly Paul elsewhere states that sin came not by the woman, but by Adam himself, (#Ro 5:12). Then, the reproof which soon afterwards follows ‘Behold, Adam is as one of us,’ clearly proves that he also foolishly coveted more than was lawful, and gave greater credit to the flatteries of the devil than to the sacred word of God.”3

Poole’s commentary agrees with Calvin's:

Gave also unto her husband with her, who by this time was returned to her, and who now was with her; or, that he might eat with her, and take his part of that fruit.4

So, these men didn’t see that Adam needed to be with Eve when she was deceived. Even Trapp’s commentary leaves open the possibility that Adam wasn’t with Eve the whole time:

And gave it also to her husband. It is probable, saith the same author, that Adam stood by all the time of the disputation; therefore his sin was the greater, that he rebuked not the serpent, &c. And again, I cannot believe, said he, but that the devils in the serpent did as well tempt Adam as Eve, though first they began with her, as a further means of enticing him. Others {e} are of another mind, as that the tempter set upon the woman alone and apart from her husband, as she was curiously prying into the pleasures of the garden; that the serpent crept into Paradise unseen of Adam, who was to keep beasts out of it; that he remained there without being seen by him, and crept out again when he had done his feat; that when she gave him the fruit, she gave him also a relation of the serpent’s promise concerning the force of that fruit, that it would make them wise as God, knowing good and evil, &c., whence he is said to have hearkened to her voice. {#Ge 3:17} And surely, every Adam hath still his Eve, every David his Bathsheba, a tempter in his own bosom, his own flesh, whereby he is so soon “drawn away, and enticed” as a fish by the bait, —beauty {f} is a hook without a bait, {g} as one saith, —till “when lust hath conceived,” as here it did in Eve, “it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death”. {#Jas 1:14,15} Satan hath only a persuasive sleight, not an enforcing might. It is our own concupiscence that carrieth the greatest stroke.5

In The Genesis Record, Henry Morris wrote the following:

As the prototype of all sinners, Eve felt impelled to lead Adam to participate in the same sin. She therefore plucked more of the fruit and brought it to her husband, urging him to eat it as well. No doubt, she used the same arguments the serpent had used, also adding the personal testimony that she had eaten the delicious fruit herself without harmful effect.
Adam, however, “was not deceived” (I Timothy 2:14). Whether this statement by the Apostle Paul means that Adam was fully aware that he was willfully defying God, or whether it simply means that Adam was not the initial one whom Satan attacked with this deception, may not be completely clear.6

Concerning Adam and Eve, Paul stated the following:

For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:13–14)

The passage says Eve, and not Adam, was deceived—but this still doesn’t shed light on whether Adam was with Eve or if he showed up afterwards. In both cases (Adam with Eve or Adam not with Eve), 1 Timothy 2:13–14 could easily apply. If Adam was not with Eve, then obviously he wouldn’t have been deceived. He could have eaten knowing he was sinning, regardless of knowing the serpent had deceived Eve.

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.” (Genesis 3:17)

There is no indication that Adam listened to the voice of the serpent, but he did listen to the voice of his wife. Since God said that Adam listened to the voice of his wife, then two scenarios could apply:

  1. He listened to her voice when she responded to the serpent (scenario one).
  2. This was a conversation after she spoke with the serpent (scenario two).

Analyzing Scenario One

If Adam listened to the voice of his wife when she responded to the serpent, then why didn’t he correct her when she misquoted God’s command?7 She said this to the serpent:

We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 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.” (Genesis 3:2–3; emphasis mine)

Eve left out some key words and then added to God’s Word:
Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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. (Genesis 2:16–17; emphasis mine)

She removed “every” and “freely” but added “or touch it” and even misstated “surely die” as merely “die.” If Adam listened to his wife’s erroneous words here, then he could have been deceived into believing something other than what God said. However, 1 Timothy states that Adam was not deceived, so this is likely not the case.

Also, since he was not deceived, Adam should have corrected his wife’s mistaken response, especially since he knew what was right (James 4:17). If this were the case, he would have been sinning before he ate, yet the Lord didn’t mention it or give a rebuke for these potentially failed actions.8

But take note, that if Adam only listened what Eve said to the serpent (Genesis 3:2–3), and heeded it, then he would not have even touched the fruit, let alone eat it!

Analyzing Scenario Two

Eve conversed with Adam and he ate (but not by deception), thus with this scenario they had to have a conversation soon after the Woman conversed with the serpent which is what Gill, Calvin, Trapp, Morris, and others have pointed out.

God said nothing of Adam listening to the voice of the serpent, but only that he listened to Eve. In fact, Adam only blamed his wife, not the serpent, which may indicate that he wasn’t aware of the serpent’s discussion with her.

Though this conversation between Adam and his wife is not mentioned in the early portions of the text in Genesis 3, it does give further support that the time reference in verse 6 indicates that time had passed between Eve’s conversation with the serpent and her taking a bite and giving some to her husband. Apparently, there were events that were not entirely recorded in detail, such as this conversation.

This time reference and new conversation between Eve and Adam is further support that the phrase “with her” in Genesis 3:6 would be out of context with the prior events—when she was being deceived by the serpent. So scenario two seems much more plausible, though one should not be dogmatic.

Regardless, this whole event surely didn’t take long, from the serpent’s deception to when Eve desired the fruit and spoke to her husband and then ate.9 We should refrain from being dogmatic that Adam was there the whole time because so little is given in Scripture.

Without question though, Adam was with his wife when she ate, so he had no excuse for not knowing what he ate. He knew it was fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and knowingly sinned when he ate.

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Footnotes

  1. John Gill, notes on Genesis 3:6, adapted from Online Bible, Larry Pierce. Back
  2. John Gill, notes on Genesis 3:1, adapted from Online Bible, Larry Pierce. Back
  3. John Calvin, notes on Genesis 3:6, adapted from Online Bible, Larry Pierce. Back
  4. Matthew Poole, notes on Genesis 3:6, adapted from Online Bible, Larry Pierce. Back
  5. John Trapp, notes on Genesis 3:6, adapted from Online Bible, Larry Pierce. Back
  6. Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, (Baker Book House, 1976), p. 114. Back
  7. Regardless of whether God also gave her the command and it was simply not recorded (the command was originally given to Adam) or it was transmitted to her via Adam, she still did not get the quote quite right. Back
  8. Did Eve sin before she ate by possibly misquoting God? What we do know is that the sin of eating had repercussions (Genesis 2:17), whereas other potential sins may not have had the same punishment or was simply not recorded (e.g., what if they had refused to be fruitful and multiply?) Later in Scripture, there are instances where God is strict about adding to or taking away from of His Word (e.g., Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18) and falsely attributing something to God or something that was God's to someone else would be sin (e.g., Matthew 12:24–32). Consider that death was the primary punishment for sin. Perhaps thorns or increased sorrow in child bearing were tacked on (in part) for not being obedient in other instances (i.e., because Adam listened to the voice of his wife and ate, per Genesis 3:17.) Back
  9. In fact, it wouldn't have taken long for them to sew fig leaves together either. After they ate, felt ashamed, and put together fig leaf coverings, the serpent still hadn't gone far. The Lord was able to call down the curse on the serpent, which wasn't far off. Back