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Catechism 4: On our First Parents and Their Fall



Who were the first man and woman?

The first man and woman were Adam and Eve.

(See Genesis 2:19 and 3:20)

(Genesis 1:26, 27) And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness...And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.

Were Adam and Eve innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God?

Adam and Eve were innocent and holy when they came from the hand of God.

 (Genesis 1:27,28,31) And God created man to his own image.... male and female he created them. And God blessed them.... And God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good.

(Wisdom 2:23) For God created man incorruptible.

(Ecclesiastes 7:30)

This I have found, that God made man right.

The Fall of Adam and Eve

(Genesis 3)

(Genesis 3:1-3)

Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise? And the woman answered him, saying: Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die. And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death. For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.

And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons. And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise. And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou? And he said: I heard thy voice in paradise; and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. And he said to him: And who hath told thee that thou wast naked, but that thou hast eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? And Adam said: The woman, whom thou gavest me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said to the woman: Why hast thou done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life. I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband' s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return. And Adam called the name of his wife Eve: because she was the mother of all the living. And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife, garments of skins, and clothed them. And he said: Behold Adam is become as one of us, knowing good and evil: now, therefore, lest perhaps he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever. And the Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken. And he cast out Adam; and placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubims, and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life”

  • The fall seems to take place early, quickly, with no resistance at all.

Genesis 3 appears to have no struggle at all. Neither Eve nor Adam raise so much as one word of protest or argument against Satan. They appear to be easy prey for his cunning attack. One would have expected Eve to at least have said something like, “Well, what do you know, a talking snake. Adam, come over here. You’ve got to see this!” It all happened so fast, so easily. Even in his unfallen state, man was no match for the wiles of Satan.

  • Satan and Eve are prominent in the account of the fall; Adam is less prominent.

Adam’s sin is more passive in nature, while that of the serpent and Eve is more aggressive. The leader followed, and the followers led.

  • The fall reverses the divinely established order of authority.

The “chain-of-command” is God: Adam, Eve, creature (which surely includes the serpent). The order of actions related to the fall are: serpent, Eve, Adam. When God confronts those responsible for the fall, the order is that of His chain-of-command: Adam (verse 9), Eve (verse 13), the serpent (verse 14). It is little wonder that the one who rebelled against God’s authority over him (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-15) would seek to overturn God’s order of authority.

  • Eve was deceived; Adam was not.

Eve did not know what she was doing as Adam did. Adam’s sin was the more culpable, both because he was the one who was to lead and because he sinned knowingly rather than ignorantly.

  • None of the participants assumes responsibility for their actions, and no one repents of their sin.

Rather than assume responsibility for their own actions, Adam and Even passed the responsibility on. From their actions in Genesis 3:7-8 and Job’s statement in Job 31:33, we know Adam tried to conceal rather than confess his sin.

  • Satan’s deception greatly distorted Eve’s perspective.

The God who generously provided all things for Adam and Eve to “richly enjoy” is quickly perceived as a tight-fisted tyrant because one fruit is forbidden. The forbidden fruit was now seen as desirable even though it was deadly. The tree of life was overshadowed by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve saw only this one forbidden tree as “good for food” and as a “delight to the eyes,” when in reality every tree in the garden had these same qualities (see Genesis 2:9).

  • Satan succeeded in persuading Adam and Eve to trust his words, while doubting and disobeying God’s Word.

The Word of God which so recently brought the universe into existence (see 1:14) was first questioned and then denied once it forbade the fruit of the forbidden tree.

  • Man’s disobedience in the garden is the fruit of unbelief, just as his obedience would have been the fruit of faith.

Why was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil forbidden? Our text indicates a fascinating twist in Eve’s thinking. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil enabled one to know good and evil (see 3:22), which Eve deceptively believed was both necessary and beneficial. It was neither. Eve only needed to know that God had forbidden the fruit of this tree.

Had Eve trusted God, she would have found His Word sufficient.

She needed only to know who had forbidden the fruit, not why the fruit was forbidden. Eve needed only to know what God had said--she did not need to understand why the fruit of that one tree was forbidden.

There is an important principle to be seen here: God desires from us the obedience of faith. Such obedience is not based upon our understanding of why we are to act as God requires, but simply because it is God who requires it.

The obedience of faith is based on our faith in God, not on our understanding of why God calls one thing good and another evil. Parents teach their children to obey on the same basis. You cannot explain to a young child why an electrical outlet is dangerous. You can only forbid them to touch it, because you said so, and because they trust your word.

How quickly we shake our heads and point our finger at Eve. “How foolish not to have trusted God and obeyed His clear command,” we say. Eve’s temptation is still with us, and her sin is routinely repeated without our even knowing it because of our warped perception. We say we desire to obey God, but we want to understand why we should obey Him before we do. We want to understand why God has commanded some things and prohibited others. When we fail to understand the reason, as quickly and easily as Eve, we reject God’s commandment.

Catechism 4: On our First Parents and Their Fall
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