The essential information
If anything like this thesis is correct the most important question becomes, “What is the essential teaching that is being given here?” Or rephrased to give us a distinctive Christian point of view, the question becomes, “What truths does God intend for us to learn from this account, words created by one or more human beings, yet an account brought into existence by God, ‘under his good hand’?”
If a hearer/reader pays careful attention to the words of chapter three, allowing himself or herself to be immersed in these words, it is difficult for him or her not to feel their considerable weight. Is not the desire to be deceived when the truth would prevent us travelling down a path that we desire, our way of operating as well as the woman’s? Does not what appeals to our senses have much in common with what appealed to hers? Is it not our inclination to seek after one’s own considerations rather than to fall in line with God’s prescriptions, the same as the woman’s? Do we not desire to operate beyond the healthy bounds that God gives us in his demands on how we should live, just as the man and the woman did? Is it not our fundamental desire to act independently of God, as was the underlying position of the man and the woman, no matter how different their offence is from ours? Is it not very easy to operate contrary to the dictates of God – just as the man did without apparently much thought? Are we not well aware of the propensity to blame others and to diminish if not to avoid altogether our responsibility in matters where we have erred, just as the woman and the man did? Do we not even like to put some of the blame on God just as the man did? Is it not our self awareness with its self indulgences that cripples much of our life and prevents us from giving proper consideration to God and others like ourselves, just as the self awareness of the man and the woman made them concentrate on coping with their nakedness? Do we not also make feeble attempts to deal with our sinfulness, attempts that are only short lived and hardly rate as effective, as was the case with the man and the woman? Do we not justly deserve God’s anger and judgment as did the man and the woman? Do we not live in a world of distorted, harmful and fractured relationships both within humanity and within the created world at large just as such a world was experienced by the man, the woman and the serpent? Is it not appropriate that this world should be a world where life is difficult because we are “difficult” – a world appropriate for sinful man, as the world outside of the garden was appropriate for sinful man? Should it not be the case that death should become the natural outcome for such distorted beings – the man, the woman and us? Last but not least, though unexpectedly, is not this God the one who showed mercy and kindness to that man and that woman, the same God who has shown mercy and kindness to us through the Lord Jesus Christ? He has achieved for us by his grace what we cannot achieve for ourselves, dealing absolutely effectively with our offences and enabling us to be transformed into the image of that Jesus, his son, today being declared righteous even now in his presence, one day being made perfect?
The account and the gospel
Being steeped in this Genesis account and no other comparable account and having his eyes opened to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is no great surprise that Paul the apostle later could write:”Therefore just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned … (and) death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offence of Adam, who is a type of him who is to come … (and) if by the transgression of one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ … (and) as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one the many will be made righteous” (Rom 5: 12 – 19) and finally, “Since a man came by death, by a man also came the resurrection from the dead. For as in Adam, all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15: 21, 22).
A number of things could be said concerning the connection between Genesis 2 and 3 on the one hand and these texts (and others) on the other but that must be left for another day. At least at this point it should be said, “Thanks be to God for the Genesis account and Paul’s references to it!” And with respect to the Son of God and all that comes with him, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.”