Was the story of Adam and Eve a legend?

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Some scholars teach that the story of Adam and Eve is a legend in an attempt to find a middle ground between the Bible and evolution. And they insist that being a legend, the story should not be taken literally. They even suggest that humans were not formed by God, but evolved naturally. This means that we cannot take the Bible as it is.

The Story of Adam and Eve

The Genesis account tells us that God created the heavens and the earth. And on the 6th day, He created Adam first, then, Eve. They were created in His image (Genesis 1:26,27). That image was most obvious in terms of their spiritual nature. Adam and Eve became “living souls,” or rather living beings, given a free will, and self-determining characters.

“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth'” (Genesis 1:28).

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden. God warned Adam and Eve not to eat the fruits of the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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” (Genesis 2:16, 17).

The ban also had a penalty if disobeyed, which was death. Adam and Eve would pass from conditional immortality to that of unconditional mortality. Separation from the source of life could ultimately bring only death.

Adam and Eve’s love to God was not forced. They could choose to either obey or disobey. The decision was theirs. The fruit itself was harmless. But God’s clear command not to eat from the tree set it apart as the test. God’s law was written upon Adam and Eve’s hearts, however, being free they can choose to obey God in love, or disregard His Word.

The Fall of Mankind

The devil, using the serpent, tempted Eve:

“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

The devil made Eve question God’s word with a hidden lie. This is why Christ called him the father of lies (John 8:44). By mixing truth and error, the devil tried to confuse the mind of Eve so that she will not be able to make a right a decision.

Sadly, the first couple made the decision to disobey God and did eat from the forbidden fruit in the garden. Then, their eyes were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings (Genesis 3:8). Thus, they lost their original perfection and their direct connection with God.

The Plan of Redemption

God planned to pay the penalty of sin for the human race. (John 3:16). And He asked Adam and Eve to offer animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sins. The sacrifices were symbolic of the promised future Lamb of God, who would die to atone for their sins. By doing so, the Savior will deliver the human race from Satan’s bondage so that all that accept God’s salvation can live with Him forever. In doing so, the Messiah would crush the serpent’s head.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).

This was a prophecy of the great struggle between Satan’s “seed” or followers (John 8:44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10) and the woman’s seed. The Lord Jesus Christ is “the seed” of the woman (Revelation 12:1–5; Galatians 3:16, 19). He would come “to destroy the works of the devil” (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8).

The battle that began in heaven (Revelation 12:7–9), was continued on earth, where Christ again won (Hebrews 2:14). This war will finally end after the second coming when the whole universe will see the outcome of sin (Revelation 20:10). But Christ did not come out of this battle untouched. The nail marks in His hands and feet and the scar in His side will be eternal sings of the great battle in which the serpent bruised the woman’s seed (John 20:25; Zechariah 13:6).

God’s love is infinite. The apostle John wrote, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The ultimate revelation of divine love is the Father’s gift of His own Son, through whom it becomes possible for the believers to be “called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Divine justice required that sin should be punished. But divine mercy had already found a way to save mankind—by the voluntary sacrifice of the Son of God (1 Peter 1:20; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; Revelation 13:8). Love is genuine only when it is revealed. God’s love for the fallen race led Him to give all that He had for their salvation (Romans 5:8). It is the essence of love to sacrifice self for others; selfishness is the opposite of love.

Love is the pre-eminent attribute of the Creator with respect to His creatures. It is the ruling force in the divine government. “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  Although God’s love embraces all humans, it directly benefits only those who accept it (John 1:12). Love needs reciprocity in order to be fully functional.

After the fall, God feared that man would eat the fruits of the tree of life (Genesis 2:8) and live in misery and pain as an immortal sinner. So, in mercy, He drove Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:22-24). Paradise lost left a very deep spirit of remorse in their hearts.

Jesus Affirmed the Story of Adam and Eve

About 4,000 years later, Christ clearly confirmed the Genesis account.  He said:But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:6-9 also Genesis 2:24).

From Jesus’ words, one can clearly see that He accepted the Genesis account of the creation of Adam and Eve. Therefore, a Christian cannot maintain a belief in Jesus and His Word, while denying the details He supported. We know that Jesus’ testimony is true because of the Father’s testimony of His Son-ship (Matthew 3:17), His sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21), His supernatural acts (John 21:25), and His resurrection from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

The First and the Last Adam

The apostle Paul also alluded to the creation account when he talked about the first and the last Adam.  “And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45). This reference to the last Adam shows that there was a first Adam- the original father of the Human race.

As people derive their earthly nature from the first man, Adam, so they can receive their resurrection bodies through Jesus. The one is the head of the great group who have a temporal existence; the other is the head of all who by submission to Him will, at His second coming, obtain a spiritual body and enter into eternal life (Romans 5:15–18; 1 Corinthians 15:51–54).

Creation Versus Evolution

  • (Adam and Eve were “made”; they were not biological accidents. Interestingly, the verb “made” in the Greek is in the aorist tense, implying point action, rather than progressive development (which would be characteristic of evolution).
  • Adam and Eve were fashioned “male and female”; they were not initially an asexual “blob” that eventually experienced sexual diversion.
  • Adam and Eve existed “from the beginning of creation.” The Greek word for “beginning” is arché, and is used of “absolute, denoting the beginning of the world and of its history, the beginning of creation.” The Greek word for “creation” is ktiseos, and denotes the “sum-total of what God has created.”

Christ certainly did not teach that life on earth took millions or billions of years to evolve. The story of Adam and Eve was one of actual people who existed in a literal Garden of Eden. They were cast out of the Garden for disobedience (Genesis 3:24). But the Lord in His mercy, promised a Savior to redeem them and their offspring from the deadly consequences of sin (Genesis 3:15).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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