Genesis 3 Commentary

The fall of man is shrouded in mystery but what the Bible tells us is what we know. By relating our lives to this text, we begin to understand aspects of the text that God wants us to understand. The temptation is real and we experience it daily. By relating our today experiences, we can look back and read into the story of the fall with a better understanding.

When I’m tempted to commit sexual sin, for example, similar factors come into play. Here is something I shouldn’t do – as commanded. But it appears good. The consequences are not discussed at length. So I sin because I want to be happy. My belief is that God is denying me something good. We can always work backward and then understand man’s position in the fall. There is God’s will on one hand and man’s desire for self-gratification on the other hand. It is also easy to understand the other voice telling me to go against God’s command because that same voice is still active today, especially in the lives of the children of disobedience.

Chapter 3 is important because in these verses the LORD God reverses the blessing of creation as it relates to man. In Genesis 1 verse 28, man is blessed in three ways: in multiplication, in prosperity, and in dominion. Here in chapter 3, the LORD God reverses these blessings in a series of curses aimed at each of the three blessings.

We first met the word ‘blessing’ as it relates to man in chapter 1 verse 28. We first meet the word ‘curse’ in chapter three. Chapter 3 has shaped life for humanity for generations until the cross. You may want to identify 3 major shifts in man’s history. The first is the creation with man at the peak of his powers in a blissful relationship with the LORD God. We don’t know how long this period lasted. The second movement appears in chapter three, covering much of the period narrated in the Holy script. The third and last is Calvary which begins a new creation.

The process of childbearing is painful which plays on the blessing of increase. The land is cursed which reverses the blessing of prosperity. The blessing of dominion is referenced by the mention of the husband who is said to rule over the woman. The woman was created to rule but now she must be ruled by another. The woman’s seed would live in enmity with the serpent. Again it becomes easy to understand these pages if we work backward.

Even in these pages we see the cross as the SEED of the woman is said to eventually crush the serpent’s head.

Compare the following
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3 verses 4 and 5.

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” Genesis 3 verse 22.

Satan wasn’t 100% wrong. Eating the fruit was going to make them like God. Satan had said their eyes would open and that happened.

We notice the plural ‘us’ rather than ‘me’. Is the Holy script anticipating the thought of the multiple manifestations of the deity?

Initially, the man was made in the image of God. So why was it wrong for Adam to want to be like God? I think the answer may be in the question itself. He was made in the image of God already. It is such a sinful thing to begin to question the wisdom of God. These pages tell us a lot and we always know there is much, much more that we don’t understand. Even at the point of temptation, we can argue that Adam knew right from wrong. He knew it wasn’t right to eat from the tree of ‘knowledge’. He could tell a good fruit from a bad one. The fruit from the tree of knowledge looked good. He was in a state to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad. He lived in obedience but also in knowledge.

In essence, the LORD God was saying that man had become like Him – a creator and a decision-maker all by himself. The keyword is disobedience. Believers know very well the saying that ‘not all that glitters is gold. The man simply disobeyed God’s command and has since lived with the consequences of that disobedience.

This example below may help us understand aspects of Genesis chapter 3.

In our culture when a boy of 15 impregnates a girl of 13, a huge debate happens. Some family members argue very strongly that the children are too young to start a family. They have the facts. They cannot be parents. They are still just a boy and a girl who should still be in school and under another’s care.

At times this team wins and the girl is allowed to give birth but the baby is then cared for by the grandmother. The girl is allowed to rejoin society and get on with her school. BUT and FACT is, the children are still parents, regardless of their age and regardless of their parent’s attempt to normalize things.

At times the stronger voice comes from the opposite camp. They insist that since the children have gone to bed and have decided to do what only adults do, they should be taken as such – adults. They have become like us. So they should be left to live like that. There isn’t any difference between us and them. They know what we know, so let them have it like that. They have decided. At times this team wins BUT even, in this case, the fact is, the ‘adults/parents’ are still children.

The picture above may help us understand Genesis chapter 3. In many ways, the two sides in the example above combine, in a complex combination. Man has sinned by wanting and actually doing what only God does. So man is left to be by himself, to live as he wants. BUT the fact remains, he is just a man. God lets the man face his own music. Man is thrown out of the garden, to go and exist by himself and for himself. The man remains a man regardless of his attempt to be God. This is team ‘B’.

Team ‘A’ is represented by the fact that the LORD does everything possible to restore man and we see the LORD making clothes for Adam and Eve. We see plans being birthed for restoration. Man has to ‘go back to school’. The mention of SEED in chapter 3 is the first in the Bible. Possibly several thousands of years would pass before the LORD would talk about the seed to Abraham. The promise to David in 2 Samuel chapter 7 mentions ‘the son’. And we know that Solomon wasn’t that ‘son’.

When that restoration is finally done (at the cross) the children are allowed to live as children but they are parents, nevertheless. So even when we are saved the baggage of our mistakes remains (the presence of sin). The consequence of what we did remains. Our eyes remain open and we can see things we shouldn’t see.

So we can agree with the thought that salvation is in three tenses. We have been saved from the penalty of sin. We are being saved from the power of sin. We will be saved from the presence of sin. Back to the example of the boy and girl. What would solve the problem is to probably upgrade their ages by an immediate transformation. Add 10 years to each and they will be 25 and 23 years old. This physical transformation makes them adults immediately, both in body and mind (as opposed to a simple enlargement). It’s a silly example and don’t read too much into it but the thought here is that one day our bodies will be transformed. We will be different and sinless. Our lives will be as before. The fall will have been reversed completely. So the Bible closes its pages with Revelation giving us a picture of the Garden of Eden when the restoration is complete.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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