Genesis 3:19-21 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
20 Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And Jehovah God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
 Personal name meaning “life.” (Heb., Chawwah)
The conclusion below will be drawn from silence and cannot be taken dogmatically. It is inferential only, and the final answer will have to be one that we seldom like, ‘we will have to wait and see.’ However, just because something is drawn from silence does not necessarily mean it is not valid. We have absolutely no record that Jesus ever bathed, but we can be most certain that he did. It is undoubtedly true that both Adam and Eve attempted to sidestep their responsibility of eating from the forbidden tree. Adam blamed Eve, while Eve blamed the serpent. However, both did not deny that they had actually violated the command.
Jehovah has said that if you eat from this tree, “you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) That was the explicit punishment, death. Their sentence was to “suffer the punishment of eternal destruction.” (2 Thess. 1:9) This could be said because justice required death, with no provision for anything else at the time that they were given the command. In his command, it does not seem fair that a Just God would not include additional punishments for Eve’s difficulty in childbirth and Adam’s struggle to get the earth to respond to his care if they were a part of the original provision. It seems that the extra penalty for Eve (“I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy conception; in pain, thou shalt bring forth children”) and for Adam (“cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt, thou eat of it all the days of thy life”); where a means to move the two to repentance. Do the extra penalties, which were not part of the original punishment for eating the forbidden fruit, mean that Jehovah was going to forgive them after they paid the price that he had laid down? The Apostle Paul said in Romans 6:7, “he that hath died is justified from sin.”
Just as humankind is under the condemnation of death because we are sinners, as Romans 5:12 informs us, “Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned.” Thus, it would seem that Adam and Eve could also be afforded this, being chastised beyond the original punishment because of Jehovah’s love for them. In fact, he did not give them this additional punishment until after he informed them of the hope held out to all humankind, the hope of a coming seed. (Gen. 3:15) Discipline by God is because of his love, and it always starts as a means of correction; this extra chastisement was a constructive reminder of their unfaithfulness to him and their need to return and repent. We do not know that they ever returned to God or that they did not, for that matter.
It is very much possible that when Jehovah God clothed and protected the first human couple, he informed them of the coming seed, Jesus Christ (Gen. 3:15), who would crush the head of the serpent (Satan), and “give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28) It would seem that God must have informed Adam of the atoning value of the blood sacrifice as well. Otherwise, we are in a difficulty regarding how Abel, Adam’s second son, acquired this knowledge. – Genesis 4:4.
Both Cain and Abel brought their offering to the altar individually. This means that Adam had no priestly function. The vegetable offering of Cain would have been displeasing to Adam because it was displeasing to Jehovah. Cain’s offering lacked the atoning blood. (Gen. 4:5) On the other hand, Jehovah was well pleased with Abel’s blood atoning sacrifice of “the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.” – Genesis 4:4.
Some may argue that Adam and Eve were perfect, and this would indicate that they had no excuse for their rebellious act, which means that they willfully and knowingly sinned against God under perfection, like the blasphemy against the “Spirit” that Jesus spoke of, forfeiting any hope of a resurrection. (Matt. 12:32; Heb. 6:4-6) They would point out maybe that we, in our imperfection, are prone, inclined, and leaned toward sin, while Adam and Eve were prone, inclined, and leaned toward good. However, the Christian can find himself in an approved standing before God because of the ransom sacrifice of Christ. Allowances are made for his imperfection, which means he has a righteous standing before God. (Ps 103:8-14) Thus, if we were to put them on a scale, Adam would not have needed any allowance for his standing before Jehovah. At the same time, God graciously gives imperfect man with genuine, active faith in Christ some counterweights undeservedly so, to offset and give him his standing before Jehovah.
Two different points need to be considered. We will touch on the first briefly and the second extensively. God plainly told Adam, who then told Eve, “But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17). What is the punishment for sin here? What is the punishment for rebellion here? Was there some footnote that added eternal torment? Why would God hold back eternal torment from Adam? Was it just/right not to inform Adam of eternal torment? Was the serpent [Satan] right, saying God was withholding knowledge from Adam and Eve? Or, maybe … it was exactly as God said. “You eat from it you shall surely die.” Ezekiel 18:4 tells us similarly, “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.” Then Paul in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.”
In our second point, we have a fact not to be overlooked. There is also no account of God informing Adam of a ransom sacrifice and that if he disobeyed by eating the forbidden fruit, he would die but that later he would receive a resurrection, wherein he would receive the eternal life that he had forsaken. If God had informed Adam of such a provision for him, it would actually have been an inducement to sin when he was tempted, knowing that he had to only pay with his death, not eternal destruction. Such a provision for Adam expressed to him by God would have undermined the warning not to sin or that he would receive the death penalty. In fact, the ransom provision only came about because of Adam’s sin. The Bible makes it clear that death, with no hope of a resurrection, was what was given to Adam if he chose to disobey and eat from the forbidden tree. Adam had no excuse in his human perfection with a simple command that did not impact his life in any way. He was not sinning because of ignorance or because he was mentally bent toward evil. He did not have a treacherous heart.
In Romans 5:13, the apostle Paul writes: “until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed [attributed] when there is no law.” Adam and Eve were given a basic, plainly stated law in the Garden of Eden. If they broke that law, they would become sinners. Adam and Eve would have been charged with sin and would have had to pay the stipulated penalty, eternal death, returning to the ground from which he had been taken. So, simply put, Adam had two simplistic options placed before him: obey and receive eternal life on earth, or disobey and receive eternal death, “return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 3:19; 2:7) Adam’s sin was not planned. But Adam was created in the image of God. He had the intelligence to clearly know that he was sinning against a simplistic, plainly stated law of God, rejecting God’s sovereignty. His actions were willful.
God did not soften his sentence by applying the ransom sacrifice of his Son retroactively to Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:15 was not retroactive, and Adam had no need to understand it; it applied to only his offspring. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” So, what Adam had coming to him was eternal death. There is no indication that Adam ever repented or, more importantly, repented in the Garden of Eden, seeking God’s forgiveness for him and Eve. He expressed no faith in the promised seed of the woman who was to bruise the serpent in the head. In Genesis 3:20, “Now the man [Adam] called his wife’s name Eve, [meaning “life”] because she was the mother of all living.” After this, we have nothing more about what Adam said, except naming a son Seth. We are not told how he felt about his disobedience or if he had any regret. Adam died a willful sinner.
Ultimately, we must say that there is no explicit answer to this question. One should offer both arguments and allow the listener to decide for themselves where they stand. The other option is to be neutral and not commit to either position, choosing to wait and see, as God is a God of mercy, love, and justice and will do the right thing. In conclusion, it is difficult for this writer to believe that Adam and Eve spent 930 years, and if they had repaired their relationship with their Father, it would likely have gone into the record with many others who had done the same thing.
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