Setting

The previous passage recounts how God gave the command to man in the garden of Eden. Now, in this lesson, we will study how the woman and her husband fell into disobeying God’s command through the serpent’s deception. The narrative tells us not only about the consequence of disobeying God, but also about God’s love and concern toward mankind when they were sent out of the garden of Eden.

Key Verse

(3:19)

Did You Know...?

  1. You (3:5): In verse 5, the pronoun “you” is in the plural form in Hebrew. Thus, the serpent was referring to both Eve and her husband.
  2. Fig trees (3:7) are known for their large leaves. [ref]
  3. Thistle (3:18) is considered as a prickly plant which has no ability to produce fruit (Hos 10:8). [ref]
  4. Herb (3:18) is also known as green plant, cereal, and vegetation. Basically it is a seed-bearing plant for human or animal consumption which grows during rainy season, not perennials (Gen 9:3; Ex 9:22, 25, 10:12, 15). [ref]
  5. Dust (3:19): This word in Hebrew has range of meanings from ashes, powder, rubbish, soot, loose earth, debris and fine crumbs of earth. Basically, it is the natural earthen material from solid, packed earth to dry, coarse, fine dust (Gen 18:27; Job 30:19, 42:6; Ezek 27:30). [ref]
  6. Eve (3:20) means “life” or “family” in Hebrew. [ref]
  7. Tunic (3:21) is a garment or clothing used as a covering more complete than a loincloth. It is a basic garment for common wear and work that reaches the knees. [ref]
  8. Sorrow, pain, toil (3:16, 17): The same Hebrew word is used for all these three nouns in the passage.

Outline

  • The Serpent Deceived The Woman
  • The Woman and Her Husband Sinned
  • The Man and His Wife Reasoned with God
  • The Judgment from God
  • Mankind Driven out of The Garden

General Analysis

  • 1.

    Compare the conditions of man before and after sin entered the world in terms of:

    1. His relationship with God:
    2. His relationship with his spouse:
    3. His relationship with nature:

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    1.  His relationship with God:

    Before: In the garden of Eden, man had a close communion with God and his life was blessed (1:28, 2:18-21). Man could even live forever by eating from the tree of life (2:8, 9, 3:22).

    After: After they sinned, pain and death were introduced into their lives. To the woman, God said that in pain she “shall bring forth children” and to the man, He said that “into dust [he] shall return” (3:16, 19). Man’s relationship with God was ruined. They hid themselves from the presence of the Lord (3:8), they were afraid (3:10), and they were defensive of their transgression before God (3:12).

    2.  His relationship with his spouse:

    Before: The relationship between man and his wife was in harmony before they sinned. There was a perfect unity in their marriage where man considered his wife as bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh (2:24). Moreover, both of them did not feel ashamed toward each other (2:25).

    After: After they sinned, the perfect unity between man and his wife also fell apart. There was tension in the relationship between man and his wife. The perfect harmony had turned into a blaming game. Unwilling to take the responsibility of sinning, the man blamed his wife as the one who had caused him to disobey the Lord’s command (Gen 3:12). Likewise, unwilling to accept the blame, the woman scapegoated the serpent as the one who had caused her to be deceived (Gen 3:13).

    3.  His relationship with nature:

    Before: Before sin came into the world, all man’s needs were provided by God inside the garden of Eden (2:9).

    After: Through man’s disobedience, the man and his wife were sent out of the garden of Eden (3:23). Moreover, the ground was cursed because of man and outside the garden of Eden, man was to till the ground to obtain his food in toil and in sweat (3:17-19).

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  • 2.

    Cite an example where sin brought a negative impact into your life.

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Segment Analysis

  • 3:1-5

    1.

    What was the serpent’s intention for speaking to the woman? And how does it relate to the fact that he was different from any beast of the field? See also 3:13.

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    The serpent spoke to the woman so that he could deceive her (3:13). Revelation 12:9 also says that the serpent of old deceives the whole world (Rev 12:9). Being more cunning than all other beasts, the serpent was capable of devising a trap to entice the woman.

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  • 2.

    What does the serpent represent? See also Isa 27:1, Job 26:13 and Rev 20:2.

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    The prophet Isaiah describes the serpent, the fleeing and twisted one, as the one which will be punished and slayed by the Lord Himself (Isa 27:1). The book of Job also describes how this fleeing serpent was pierced by the hand of the Lord (Job 26:13). The Greek word for serpent in both Isaiah and Job is “dragon.” Incidentally, the dragon in Revelation is identified as “that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan” (Rev 20:2).

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  • 3a.

    How did the serpent twist God’s words? Compare 3:1-3 with 2:16-17.

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    First, the serpent exaggerated the prohibition by saying, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” Second, he belittled the consequence of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil when he said, “You will not surely die.” Third, he distorted God’s purpose by adding the words, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened.”

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  • 3b.

    What was the serpent’s purpose for doing so?

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    1) By exaggerating the prohibition, the serpent was questioning God’s divine providence.

    2) By belittling the consequence, he was questioning God’s divine authority.

    3) By distorting God’s command, he was questioning God’s divine love.

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  • 3c.

    Today, how does the devil undermine the seriousness of God’s words and make us question God’s love and care?

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    Just as the devil twisted God’s words in the time of Adam and Eve, today, the devil undermines the seriousness of God’s words and makes us question His love and care through his schemes. For example, the exaggeration of the use of faith. The believers in the book of James thought that as long as they had faith and gave their salutation of peace to those in need, they would be profited.  But the writer of the book of James warned the believers that faith without being accompanied by works is dead and does not profit anyone (Jas 2:14-16, 20).

    Next, the belittlement of consequence. The author of the letter of 2nd Peter warned us about the last days scoffers who would questioned the promise of the Lord’s second coming, thinking that “all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet 3:3-4). But the author firmly mentioned how the Lord was not slack concerning His promise. God’s so-called “slackness” was but His longsuffering toward us for the purpose of our willingness to come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9).

    Lastly, the distortion of God’s command. In the letter of Galatians, there were brethren who had used their liberty as an opportunity to serve the lust of the flesh. But the apostle Paul corrected them that the liberty of God should not be misused. Thus, those who sowed to their flesh would reap corruption and would not reap everlasting life (Gal 6:8).

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  • 4a.

    How did the woman’s answers differ from God’s words? See also 2:16, 17.

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    From the woman’s answer, we can see several differences:

    1) What God called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the woman simply called “the tree which [was] in the midst of the garden” (Gen 3:2-3). The woman directly blurred the distinction between the tree of the knowledge of good and evil with all the trees whose fruits could be eaten, including the tree of life (Gen 2:9).

    2) What God stated “you shall not eat” (Gen 2:17), the woman added the statement with “nor shall you touch it” (Gen 3:3). The woman unnecessarily exaggerated the commandment of God. Later, the exaggeration confused the woman herself for she did not die even after she had touched it (Gen 3:3, 6).

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  • 4b.

    What do the serpent’s trickery and the woman’s mistake teach us about guarding against Satan’s scheme?

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  • 5.

    In what sense did Adam and Eve “die” on the day they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil? See also 1 Kgs 2:37; Eph 2:1-6; Col 2:12-13; Lk 15:32, 9:60; Rom 5:12, 7:14-24; Jn 8:34; Heb 2:15; Rev 21:8; Jas 5:20; Jn 5:24; 1 Jn 3:14.

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    After Adam and Eve had violated God’s command, they remained alive physically. In fact, Adam lived until he was nine hundred and thirty years old (Gen 5:5). It may seem as if God’s words to Adam, “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” did not come true. But the expression, “You shall surely die” was a set of words found repeatedly in the Old Testament to declare a death sentence for violation of the law or the warning of such a death sentence (cf. 1 Kgs 2:37; Gen 20:7, 26:11; Ex 21:12; Lev 20:2; etc.). As such, the fact that the LORD did not take away the breath of life from man immediately should be understood as His sovereign decision to delay the death penalty rather than a failed prediction.

    Although Adam and Eve continued to live physically, they had died in their sin (cf. Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13). They were dead in the sense of being alienated from their Creator (Eph 4:18; Col 1:21), just as the prodigal son was dead and lost in the eyes of his father even though he was still physically alive (Lk 15:32, 9:60). According to Romans 5:12, through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men. The entire human race has fallen into the domain of death, being sold under sin and subject to bondage (Rom 7:14-24; Jn 8:34; Heb 2:15). The final destiny of this spiritual condition is the death of the soul, or the second death (Rev 21:8; cf. Jas 5:20). Man abides in this realm of death until he passes from death to life through faith in the Lord Jesus and through the remission of sins by His blood (Jn 5:24; Eph 2:4-6; Col 2:12-13; 1 Jn 3:14).

    Deuteronomy also sheds light on the death of Adam by presenting another perspective on death. Forsaking God’s commandments results in death in the sense of forfeiting the well-being and blessing of God. Thus, the contrast between life and death is parallel to the contrast between blessing and cursing, good and evil (Deut 30:15-19). The LORD Himself is the life of the people (Deut 30:20). Rejecting God is a choice of death over life, cursing over blessing, and evil over good. God had intended for Adam and Eve a life of abundance in the garden of Eden and of communion with Him. But because they chose to disobey God’s command, curse and pain followed for the rest of their lives. God also drove them out of the garden so that they could no longer eat of the tree of life (Gen 3:16-19, 22-24). In this sense, Adam and Eve died on the day they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for they had become estranged from God, the fountain of life and blessing.

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  • 3:6-8

    6.

    What were the results of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? See also 2:25, 3:10.

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    1) Their eyes were opened (3:7),

    2) They knew they were naked (3:7),

    3) They felt shame (2:25),

    4) They were afraid of God (3:10).

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  • 7.

    Compare the condition of being “naked” in 3:7 with the one in 2:25. What made the difference?

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    In 3:7, the verse describes that mankind’s nakedness caused them to feel ashamed, afraid and hide themselves. However, in 2:25, the verse tells us although they were naked, they did not feel ashamed at all. The difference was because their eyes opened. After they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (3:7).

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  • 8.

    How did the woman view the tree of the knowledge of good and evil after her conversation with the serpent?

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    1) The tree was good for food,

    2) The tree was pleasant to the eyes,

    3) The tree was desirable to make one wise.

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  • 9.

    How does our desire entice us today in the same way the woman’s desire enticed her? See also Jas 1:14; 1 Tim 6:9 and Mt 4:3.

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    Just as the serpent tempted the woman, today Satan also tempts our lusts and desires. The book of James explains when we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed, we are tempted (Jas 1:14). And 1 Timothy 6:9 further states that those who follow their desire will fall into temptation and harmful lusts. In other words, if we live only to follow what is good and pleasant in our eyes and to follow our own carnal desire, then we are prone to be enticed and tempted by the tempter himself, the Devil (Mt 4:3).

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  • 10.

    How did Adam fail his part as a husband and what does it teach us about the role of husbands today?

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    The Scriptures state that Adam was with his wife when she took the fruit and ate it. He did not deter her. In fact, he heeded the voice of his wife and also ate the fruit (3:17, 6).

    As husbands, loving our wives does not mean that we go along with their wrongdoings or keep silent about them. As Ephesians 5:25-29 describe it, the act of loving includes nourishing and cherishing the wife as the husband’s own body. Since both Adam and his wife were no longer two but had become one flesh, Adam should have stepped forward when Eve was being tempted, reminded her with love about God’s command, and not let her be enticed by her own desire.

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  • 11a.

    How did Adam and his wife deal with their nakedness?

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    They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings (3:7).

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  • 11b.

    How do we usually deal with our wrongdoings?

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  • 12a.

    Why did Adam and his wife hide themselves from the presence of the Lord?

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    After their eyes were opened, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord (Gen 3:7, 8). They were afraid because they were naked and they knew they had disobeyed God’s command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (3:10-12).

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  • 12b.

    What was the significance of the phrase “the eyes of both of them were opened” in Gen 3:7?

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    After they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the eyes of Adam and his wife were opened. The phrase “the eyes of both of them were opened” signified two things.

    First, it signified that the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened to the knowledge of evil. After they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they both realized their nakedness—the revelation of their sinned condition and their falling short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). Next, their eyes were opened to the evil of disobedience. When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden, they hid themselves in fear from the presence of the LORD (Gen 3:8, 10). The knowledge of evil opened their eyes, made them realize how they had disobeyed the command of the LORD God not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:11). Furthermore, the knowledge of evil opened their eyes to more sinful acts. After they had eaten the forbidden fruit, not only did Adam arrogantly blamed the LORD God and his wife confidently blamed the serpent for what had happened, but they were also unwilling to admit their fault (Gen 3:12-13).

    Second, the phrase “the eyes of both of them were opened” signified that the eyes of Adam and his wife were opened to the knowledge of good. After they ate the forbidden fruit, they both realized how God had no longer covered them with His glory. Previously, even though they were naked, they felt no shame (Gen 2:25). In addition, the knowledge of good made them realize how close the relationship between God and them had been before the disobedience. After they ate the forbidden fruit, they were afraid to hear the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden. They even would not dare to meet Him (Gen 3:8, 10). The knowledge of good reminded them of the good relationship they had previously with God, a close relationship without fear and shame.

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  • 12c.

    Today, why and how does man hide from the presence of the Lord? See also Jn 3:19-21.

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    The Gospel of John explains that man loves darkness rather than light because his deeds are evil. Since he practices evil, it is natural for him to hate light because light will surely expose his evil. Similarly, when we commit sin, we tend to do it in secret because we do not want people to know about it (be exposed). We would stay away from God and shun the teachings that condemn our wrongdoings.

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  • 3:9-13

    13a.

    How did Adam and his wife reason with God when confronted?

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    Adam seemed to imply that God was indirectly responsible for his mistake by putting the woman to be with him. He blamed the woman for giving the fruit to him (3:12). Similarly, Eve in turn blamed the serpent who had deceived her (3:13).

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  • 13b.

    Could they have reacted differently when confronted by God? If so, how?

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    Instead of reasoning and finding excuses, they could have promptly admitted their wrongdoings to God and sincerely repented and asked for God’s mercy.

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  • 13c.

    How do we usually react when our wrongdoings are confronted?

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  • 3:14-19

    14a.

    What was the curse for the serpent?

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    The serpent shall crawl on its belly and it shall eat dust all the days of its life (3:14). Moreover, an enmity will be put between its seed and the woman’s Seed (3:15).

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  • 14b.

    What was the judgment on the woman?

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    The woman’s sorrow and conception will be greatly multiplied. In pain she shall bring forth children and her desire shall be for her husband and he will rule over her (3:16).

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  • 14c.

    What was the judgment on the man?

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    The ground is cursed for man’s sake and thus, man shall eat of it in toil all the days of his life. Moreover, thorns and thistles shall be brought forth for him and he will eat the herb of the field. He shall eat bread by the sweat of his face until he return to the ground (3:17-19).

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  • 15.

    Who are the ‘Seed of the woman’ and the ‘seed of the serpent’? See also Job 15:14; Mt 12:34, 23:33; Jn 8:43-44 and 1 Jn 3:8.

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    The word ‘seed’ can also be used in the sense of offspring. The seed of the woman in general refers to the human race, for physically all of us are born of a woman (Job 15:14). On the other hand, the seed of the serpent refers to the evildoers. Often times Jesus rebuked those unbelieving and evil-hearted people as brood of vipers (poisonous serpent) (Mt 23:33) and they belong to their father, the devil (Jn 8:43-44; 1 Jn 3:8). In other words, those who obey the will of the devil are considered the seed of the serpent (Mt 12:34).

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  • 16.

    Explain the enmity described in verse 15 and how do we overcome this enmity today? See also Gal 4:4; Heb 2:14; 1 Jn 3:8, 9 and Rom 16:20.

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    The enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman is God’s declaration that Jesus will overcome the serpent through the seed of the woman. Jesus was born of a woman (Gal 4:4). He came in flesh and blood as we are, in order to redeem us by destroying the power of the devil (Heb 2:14). Being born of God, we are able to overcome sin through Jesus Christ (1 Jn 3:8, 9). Even though the devil bruised the heel of Jesus by putting Him to death at the hands of evil men, Jesus overcame death and delivered us from the power of sin. Through His death and the power of God, the Lord Jesus bruised Satan’s head and will crush Satan through the believers’ feet (Rom 16:20).

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  • 17a.

    What does it mean that the ground is cursed for man’s sake?

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    1) The ground must be tilled in order to bring forth produce (3:23),

    2) Thorns and thistles (non-fruit bearing bushes) shall be brought forth from the ground (3:18),

    3) Man must work in toil and sweat (NLT: “struggle to scratch a living from it”) all the days of his life (3:17, 19).

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  • 17b.

    How does the curse affect man’s livelihood today? See also Hag 1:6 and Jer 12:13.

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    The prophets Haggai and Isaiah warned the people about sowing much but bringing in little and sowing wheat but reaping thorns. This is the result of God’s punishment. Because the ground has been cursed, man has to toil to survive and meet many hardships along the way. Even until today, famine is still a large issue for the world. Since sin entered the world, man’s life outside of the garden of Eden has been difficult. Just as Adam had worked in toil and sweat for their survival, today people must work hard to earn their living. They work day and night for the expenses of their livelihood in spite of the challenges in the workplace and the harshness of the living environment. Jacob’s personal experience sums up the difficulties of life in general, “few and evil have been the days of the years of my life” (Gen 47:9).

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  • 18.

    Compare man’s relationship with “dust” before and after man had sinned. See also Gen 2:7 and 3:19.

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    Although man was formed man of the dust of the ground (2:7), He was made in the image and likeness of God and he was able to live forever (3:22). However, when man disobeyed God’s command, he fell short of the glory of God and was destined to return to the dust of the ground.

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  • 19.

    What lesson can we learn from God’s words to Adam, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife”?

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    Man sinned because he chose to heed the voice of his wife rather than listen to God. From the example of Adam, we can learn about the discernment of words which we hear. The writer of the book of Acts narrated a similar example. When threatened by the authorities to stop speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus, Peter answered, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to [man] more than to God, you judge” (Acts 4:19). Though his own life was at stake Peter chose to heed God’s words rather than men’s words. While it may be much easier to listen to and please others, when men’s words contradict God’s will, we must heed God’s words instead, for we are ultimately accountable to God.

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  • 3:20-24

    20a.

    How did God show His love to the man and his wife, though they have disobeyed Him?

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    God made tunics of skin for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them (3:21).

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  • 20b.

    How does God continue to love us though we have sinned against Him?

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  • 21a.

    Why did God send the man out of the garden of Eden?

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    1) so that he will not put out his hand and take of the tree of life and live forever (3:22),

    2) to carry out the judgment on man, who must till the ground from which he had been taken (3:23).

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  • 21b.

    What message does it convey to us regarding God’s love and justice? See also Rom 6:1f and 8:13.

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    Although God’s grace abounds in us, we should not continue in sin or be slaves of sin (Rom 6:7, 12). If we take God’s love for granted and continue to live in sin, then we will still die in our sin (Rom 8:13).

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  • 22.

    How can man return to the state of the garden of Eden? See also 1 Jn 5:20; 1 Cor 15:45, Jn 3:15; Rev 2:7 and 22:1-2, 14.

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    The description in Revelation of the heavenly kingdom is similar to that of the garden of Eden. The tree of life is mentioned again, and it is in the Paradise of God (Rev 2:7) and in the city of God (Rev 22:14). In here, curse shall be no more, and His servants can be with the Lamb of God and see His face (Rev 22:3, 4). This is similar to the condition of the garden of Eden before man sinned against God.

    The Scriptures tell us that the Lord Jesus is the only way to enter into the heavenly kingdom (Acts 4:12; Jn 14:6). The apostle Paul also writes concerning the Lord Jesus as the last Adam who became a life-giving spirit, the Spirit who gives life. 1 John 5:20 even adds that Jesus Christ is the eternal life. Therefore, just as man who eats from the tree of life will live forever, those who believe in Jesus will have eternal life and will be able to return to the state of the garden of Eden in God’s kingdom.

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