Why was Adam's sin more serious than the sin of Eve? Part Two

Why was Adam's sin more serious than the sin of Eve? Part Two

While we have seen from part one that Adam’s sin was said to have been a deliberate transgression of the covenant and as a result it was a treacherous act against God (Hosea 6:7) where does that leave the seriousness of Eve’s sin?

God has made a dividing line between those sins which come from a deliberate defiance against God and those sins which are done unintentionally. Numbers 15:22, 27, 30, 31 says:

‘But when you unwittingly fail and do not observe all these commandments, which the LORD has spoken to Moses… Also if one person sins unintentionally, then he shall offer a one year old female goat for a sin offering… But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him.’

If one sins unintentionally, it is still a sin, but there is provision given for grace to cover this sin. 1 Timothy 2:14 says that Eve was deceived and fell into sin unintentionally through that deception.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

Did Eve experience God’s grace along with his justice? Paul alludes to this in 1 Timothy 1 & 2 as he talks about those who were fully deceived but who received God’s grace in the midst of their ignorance. In 1 Timothy 1:13, 14 Paul says:

“even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.”

In these verses Paul ties in the mercy he received from Jesus with his ignorance so that the one who acted in ignorance was eligible to receive mercy.

Another example of ignorance where a person finds mercy from God is in 1 Timothy 2:14 Paul says Eve fell into sin but because of her deception she found mercy when God promised that the Messiah would come through the seed of the woman. Genesis 3:15 says:

“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Satan’s tactic was to deceive the woman, but by that very act, Satan inadvertently opened the door to mankind’s receiving mercy through the seed of the woman. God did not charge the woman with treacherous rebellion as he did Adam, (Hosea 6:7) but because she had been deceived and had sinned ignorantly in her deception, God had the right to bring the Messiah into the world through her lineage.

What was meant by Satan to bring all of mankind into Satan’s own rebellion was turned around by God and was used as the means to destroy Satan. It was through the woman whom Satan deceived, that God was able to bring the sinless Messiah into the world and that perfect, sinless Messiah would in turn crush the head of Satan. The promise was made to the woman and not to the man because she was the one who received mercy.


Adam on the other hand was not deceived and since his sin was a willful sin, his guilt remained on his bloodline. Adam was therefore the only one who brought sin into this world.

To understand more about the necessity of a kinsman redeemer who was born without inherited sin, click here to read the post called Adam as head of the family.

16 thoughts on “Why was Adam's sin more serious than the sin of Eve? Part Two

  1. Hello!

    what an interesting blog.
    i have spent several hours reading through your material today and really enjoyed it.

    One question/comment though…
    I am not sure about the “distinction” b/w Adam and Eve’s “sin”…
    Sin is sin. Any sin separates us from God. (thank God for his grace to us all!) Once we start ‘judging’ sin into different categories i think we can get ourselves into trouble. Are you saying that if Adam had NOT eaten the apple, we would still be in the Garden?

    i do believe that Paul is focussed on the issue of deception in 1 tim 2:11-15 (cf main theme of the letter) and this is why he stresses Eve’s story – because Genesis tells us she was deceived by the serpent (Gen 3:13). Another interesting thing – Eve immediately acknowledged her sin – she said to God “the serpent deceived me and i ate…” Interestingly, Adam on the other hand showed no repentence or admission of fault, but rather looked to palm the blame off on the one who he used to see as ‘bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh” (Gen 2:23)
    1 Tim 2:11 is clearly about learning – the need Paul felt “a woman” had to learn so that she would not be deceived – like Eve. In fact my rusty greek tells me that it is learning (mantheo) that Paul is stressing with the one imperative in the entire passage.

    I have studied just a little about Paul’s use of Adam in 1 Cor 15. Certainly there is no emphasis made of his ‘maleness’ in representing mankind. I believe that Paul clearly uses anthropos (rather than aner) or a pronoun that is not used in a way to specifically emphasise Adam’s maleness.. cf Rom 5:14 too) in every case. Adam was the first HUMAN created (and he just happens to have been male) is the way i read it. He is our representative because he was the one ‘through’ which all human life ultimately came. Could this not be the reason why transgression is laid at ‘his’ feet, rather than his sin being ‘greater’ than Eve’s?

    (I am working on a research paper at the moment on Paul’s use of Gen 1-3 in 1 Cor 11 and 1 tim 2… so your discussion are right on track to get me into the ‘thick’ of all the debate!)

    I welcome your thoughts?

  2. Cheryl,

    Just to expound on my statement above about Paul’s emphasis being on ‘learning’ (v 11), do you think that this can be closely linked with vv 13-14… more so than v 12?

    can it be that Paul’s is emphasising that Eve didn’t ‘learn’ God’s command (passed on from Adam indirectly in the garden???) and thus she was deceived? in some ways v 12 is then a comment made in the middle of the flow of 11, 13-14?

    with ‘learning’ as the only imperative, should we give it the ‘greatest’ focus in the passage?

    just wondering what you think…
    zwagmeister

  3. I love how you make it simple, no big fancy words, and even put in two charts to boot! I can see that you are using scripture in it’s context and that we are getting our info from just the bible alone! I like how the scriptures from the other books of the bible tie into Genesis and the Curse! It really explains everything clearly! Thanks

  4. Why did Eve add to the commandment? “I must not touch it or yeh will die!”

    Did Adam add that in to Eve (The Woman) when he told her about the tree? If so then if the Devil was spying on them he could use that against her/them! For the serpent was touching the tree for he was in it! Just a thought.

  5. I just wanted to tell you how well writen your study is,
    Thank you so much for sharing it and also such great comments on this study.
    Ash

  6. Ashlady,
    Welcome and thanks for your comments! There is so much to discuss on this subject and I hope you stick around and read some of the other articles.

    Blessings!
    Cheryl

  7. So sorry, Kerryn I hadn’t realized that I didn’t get to your questions.

    You said:

    “Once we start ‘judging’ sin into different categories i think we can get ourselves into trouble. Are you saying that if Adam had NOT eaten the apple, we would still be in the Garden?”

    I think we can only say what God says. God defines Adam’s sin as more serious than Eve’s sin since he sinned willfully and with knowledge. In the Old Testament there was an offering for unintentional sin:

    Lev 4:22 ‘When a leader sins and unintentionally does any one of all the things which the LORD his God has commanded not to be done, and he becomes guilty,
    Lev 4:23 if his sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a male without defect.

    But if one sinned defiantly against God, his sin was on his own head.

    Num 15:30 ‘But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people.
    Num 15:31 ‘Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him.'”

    This is called the sin literally with a “high hand”. It is a deliberate defiant sin like shaking one’s fist in God’s face. God has judged the attitude of this sin as being different than the attitude of one who sins unintentionally. Eve sinned unintentionally – she was completely and wholly deceived. Adam on the other hand was not deceived and God has judged him as an intentional sinner.

    Hos 6:7 But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me.

    The one who sins with knowledge and in a defiant and treacherous way, God deals much differently with that person.

    If it was possible that Adam had not sinned by eating the fruit, then both of them would have been in the garden waiting for the Messiah to be born from the woman in order for her seed to die for her sin. But we know that this is not the way that it happened because Adam was the one who sinned with knowledge and brought sin into the world.

    One dictionary describes the presumptuous sin this way-

    presumptuously: Heb. with an high hand, That is, bold, daring, deliberate acts of transgression against the fullest evidence, and in despite of the Divine authority. Such conduct “reproacheth the Lord,” as if his commands were needless, unreasonable, and inimical to the happiness of man; his favour were not desirable, or his wrath not to be feared. In short, as if it were more advantageous to rebel against him than to serve him. Such acts admitted of no atonement. The person was condemned to bear his own iniquity, and to be cut off.

    Gill says:

    Num 15:30 – But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously,…. Or with “an high hand” (t), or through pride, as the Targum of Jonathan; in an haughty, insolent, bold and daring manner; in an obstinate, stubborn, self-willed way, with purpose and design, openly and publicly, neither fearing God nor regarding man.

    Is there sin that God judges differently? You bet!

    You said:

    Interestingly, Adam on the other hand showed no repentence or admission of fault, but rather looked to palm the blame off on the one who he used to see as ‘bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh” (Gen 2:23)

    You are exactly right and this shows that his sin was purposeful and defiant. There was no repentance at all or admission of his fault. You also bring out a great point that in 1 Timothy 2:11, 12 the only imperative in these two verses is the command to let the woman learn.

    You also said:

    He is our representative because he was the one ‘through’ which all human life ultimately came. Could this not be the reason why transgression is laid at ‘his’ feet, rather than his sin being ‘greater’ than Eve’s?

    No, it could not be the fact that through Adam all human life ultimately came otherwise Adam’s sin would also have been imputed to Eve since she is part of the humanity that came from him. However Adam’s sin was not imputed to Eve rather she was called into account for her own sin and Adam did not represent Eve to God. Adam was definitely NOT Eve’s representative in any way to God nor does God say Adam’s sin was imputed to Eve. Does that make sense? Instead of Adam being a representative of humanity before sin and then after sin, we see that Adam did not represent Eve and this exception rules out Adam’s place as the representative of the human race. Rather we should take God at his word that Adam’s sin was different than Eve’s. Nowhere does God state that Eve’s sin was done intentionally. Instead Eve was deceived. If we have a difference in the intention of sin, then we can understand why sin came through the man and not the woman.

    I hope that helps!

  8. Michael,

    You said:

    Why did Eve add to the commandment? “I must not touch it or you will die!” Did Adam add that in to Eve (The Woman) when he told her about the tree? If so then if the Devil was spying on them he could use that against her/them! For the serpent was touching the tree for he was in it! Just a thought.

    For the answer to this question we need to read the account carefully. The woman said that “God said” so her testimony is that God told her. Many think that Eve was not talked to directly by God regarding the prohibition but this is refuted by the text. In Gen. 1:27-29 God speaks to “them” and tells “them” what they can eat. The giving of the food that they can eat encompasses the prohibition. God said:

    Gen 1:29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;

    Since in this verse God gave “them” every tree that has fruit yielding seed and we know that every tree was given them for food except for one, then we can confidently conclude that the one tree that has been forbidden them to eat did not have fruit that yielded seed. Thus in Genesis 1:29 was a restatement of the prohibition in a different way.

    Did God talk to Eve directly and give her the prohibition? We can rightfully assume that he did, since he talked to both of them about what they could eat and Eve said that “God said” she was not to even touch the forbidden fruit. The conversation between God and Eve is not directly recorded in scripture but the testimony of a sinless woman (at the time it was said) is plenty of evidence that God told Eve not to touch the fruit.

  9. Cheryl

    thanks for your response to both Michael’s and my queries above.

    some of the things you mention – esp in terms of Eve ‘directly’ hearing from God – have been very helpful for me to think through…

    so much to ponder,
    (-:
    kerryn

  10. Kerryn,
    You are welcome! And yes, I agree there is much to think through. I remember the first time it occurred to me that it was our tradition alone that taught us that Eve didn’t hear from God and that she had added to God’s words. Scripture doesn’t say this and when one reasons it through, it doesn’t make sense. The way one has been taught to see scripture can sometimes be a blockage to really understanding what passage in context. There is much to rethink through so that we can take scripture alone instead of taking scripture plus tradition.

  11. Hello Cheryl,

    been doing some follow up thinking and work on your comments to Michael above. I have very limited Hebrew skills – but from what I can tell using interlinear/language tools it seems clear that the “you” in Gen 1:29 to whom God gives “every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed” is indeed plural. Which supports your reading that God is talking to not just Adam but his companion Eve too.

    I had never noticed this before until you mentioned it above. So thanks. Following this line of thinking a bit further… do you reckon that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – which is clearly a ‘one and only’ of its kind and is not mentioned again in Scripture outside of the Garden of Eden – clearly wouldn’t need to have ‘seeds’ in its fruit as from what we can tell from scripture God wasn’t intending for it to propogate into more trees. What do you think?

    Contrastingly (is that a word?!), Revelation 22:2 tells us that the Tree of Life is found not only in the Garden of Eden, but also in the eternal City of God and exists on “each side” of the river (can a ‘single’ tree be on more than ‘one side’ of a river?) in the City of God. God only stopped Adam and Eve eating from the tree of Life (Gen 2:16) when he banished them from the Garden (Gen 3:22-24) following the Fall – thus it would follow since they were allowed to eat of it in Eden and that it was a seed-bearing tree??? thus there can be more than one Tree of Life? (of course our Creator can make something from ‘nothing’ anyway…but interesting stuff i think?)

    I dunno (Aussie for “dont know”!) – perhaps this is getting too ‘literal’ in my reading of this kind ancient narrative genre? a mountain out of a ‘mole hill’? and perhaps just a total ‘side’ issue – but i just thought it was interesting…!

    Regards
    Kerryn

  12. Cheryl

    i agree that one further thing you mentioned that seems very important in this whole debate too…

    if Adam alone was told by God ‘not to eat’ of the Tree of G and E (which as you say is not supported by Gen 1:29) and then the man either misquoted God to Eve or Eve misquoted God to the Serpent, it seems incredible that this is not explicitly mentioned in Genesis. Before Eve and Adam ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Scripture portrays them clearly as being sinless and perfect in their relationsohip with each other and with God. Surely the first ‘sin’ (either through deception or intentional in natrue) was in Gen 3 when the first man and woman disobeyed God’s command and ate from the non-seed bearing Tree of Knowledge.

    thanks again for your thought-provoking posts. keep ’em coming!

    warm regards
    kerryn

  13. Kerryn,

    Good reasoning. Your are right in that the tree of life must have had seeds because God only gave the trees for food that had seeds (their life in them so to speak) and the only tree that was forbidden was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It certainly makes sense that if this tree had no life in it (no seeds) it was not meant to reproduce. I had seen that the tree of life was on both sides of the river and this does give us an indication that it is a “kind” of tree not just one solitary tree. If it had seeds apparently it was meant to reproduce. I like to take the bible literally unless it is clear that the literal meaning does not make sense in the context.

    Great thoughts, Kerryn as usual!

  14. #13 Kerryn,

    Your point is well taken. Many try to credit Eve with sinning before she ate the fruit but this cannot be right. If Eve misrepresented Adam quoting of God or if she misrepresented God then she was either stupid (how could she get a very simple command wrong?) or guilty of a huge sin of adding to God’s words. Neither option makes sense. Surely the first woman who was said to be a “helper suitable for Adam” would not be a childlike creature incapable of understanding a simple sentence nor did she have any reason to lie about what God said. The simplest and most reasonable conclusion is that God spoke to Eve and told her not to touch the fruit and she accurately spoke what she was told. The thing that has made me wonder is why has it been so easy to doubt Eve’s words and why would we charge her with the sin of adding to God’s words when neither Adam nor God charged her with this sin? It appears to me that our Society’s prejudice against women has made this tradition seem right in that almost no one has bothered to challenge it before. Incredible!

  15. Thanks Cheryl for the info, I read your topic on Eve and from her own words God spoke to her at one point in time for she said “God Said” etc. Maybe as God was bringing her to the man they were speaking?

    I fully agree with your teaching Cheryl. At the time I typed this question above I haven’t read all your articles yet. Now I have and I’m learning alot! Thanks.

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