Did Adam sin out of love for Eve?
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.
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.