DID ADAM DIE OR DID HE NOT DIE WHEN HE ATE THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Bible critics, always looking for some verse to use to discredit the Scriptures, take great pleasure in telling us that Adam did not really die when he ate the forbidden fruit. In fact, they tell us that the Bible says Adam lived to age 930 years (Genesis 5:5). (They do not take that number “930” literally, of course, but they still like to point out that number so as to “prove” an inconsistency in the Bible). How could God say Adam would “surely die” on that day he ate the forbidden fruit, and yet, Adam lived for many more centuries? Did Adam die in Genesis chapter 3? Yes, he did die. No, he did not die. It was both. You may ask how this is so, and I will reply that there are several types of “death” in the Bible. Provided that we do not skim the Scriptures as the skeptics do, we will mine the deep truths of the Bible to learn the answer is, “Yes and no.”
When God created Adam, notice what the Bible says about that sixth day of creation: “ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27).
Mankind—Adam and Eve—had a spiritual makeup similar to God’s. Scripture calls this “made in the image of God” (cf. Genesis 9:6). No animal in creation was given this unique makeup. Contrary to “scientific consensus,” mankind is not to be classified as “a highly-evolved ape” or “a highly-evolved animal.” Mankind is not a species of animal, according to the Bible anyway. The authors of scientific textbooks are, of course, free to speculate and believe whatever they like. Unlike their ever-changing books, they cannot change what the Bible says. Returning to our earlier comments though, mankind was originally compatible with his Creator God on a level no other creature (even angels) had.
God decreed a strict warning in Genesis chapter 2: “ And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” The idea has been offered that Adam did not know what death was, but that does not seem to be the case. Although Adam had never witnessed death, God certainly gave him the ability to understand it; otherwise, the charge would be meaningless to Adam and pointless for God to give it.
Fast-forward to Genesis chapter 3, the opening six verses. Satan entices Eve, and Eve encourages Adam, and both Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. After partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve behave very peculiarly. We continue in chapter 3 of Genesis: “ And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.  And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.  And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.  And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?  And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.  And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”
The following detailed analysis highlights what happened as soon as Adam and Eve ate that forbidden fruit:
- Their eyes were opened (verse 7). Not physical eyes, but spiritual eyes—physical eyes would not make sense in this context. Now, they were spiritually where God did not want them, and they were fully aware of the changes. They were no longer the spiritual beings that God had created them. That is, they had now decided for themselves what was good and what was evil. Deciding what was good and what was evil was to be God’s prerogative, not man’s All of creation—especially on Earth—had now taken a drastic turn for the worst, and Adam and Eve were fully conscious of what had just occurred!
- They knew they were naked (verse 7). Originally, Adam and Eve were not ashamed of their physical nakedness (Genesis 2:25). It was only after they had eaten the forbidden fruit that they made themselves clothes out of fig leaves (see #3, below). Exactly what changed to make them visibly naked will be discussed in a special section later.
- They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons (verse 7). Adam and Eve, as discussed in #2 above, were originally physically naked. After they partook of the forbidden fruit, they tried to cover themselves. It was a desperate, feeble attempt to hide their nudity. As evidenced by #4, below, they knew this action was insufficient to undo what they had done. They could not hide their mistakes.
- They hid amongst the trees when they heard the voice of God (verse 8). Had their “solution” of fig leaves worked, they would have not hidden themselves. They knew that God would know what had happened. Furthermore, He would see them wearing fig-leaf coverings, and He ask them why they had put those strange “clothes.”
- Adam admits to God that he hid from Him because he was naked (verse 10). Again, Adam confirms what we already commented in #4 above. Even though he had tried to cover himself, Adam knew he was still naked. Hence, in another attempt to cover his nudity, he hid amongst some trees in the Garden.
- God asks Adam what he did (verse 11). This is a puzzling verse for so many. Why would God have to ask Adam what he did, since God is all-knowing? Are there some things God does not know? Of course not! God asked this for Adam’s benefit. That is, God was prompting Adam to confess, to admit to wrongdoing. God wanted Adam to think about what had happened, rather than Him telling Adam what happened. The Creator God had given Adam a brain and Adam was to use it! Adam was no mindless robot!
- Adam blames Eve; yea, he blames God (verse 12). “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Notice the wording of the verse. Adam did not immediately say, “I did eat.” He added a bunch of “introductory” remarks before (somewhat) confessing. Adam attempted to sidestep God’s question in order to diminish what he had done. In actuality, Adam really did not confess at all. He blamed Eve, and then he blamed God for giving him Eve. Adam lied and blamed Eve for something that he deliberately did. But not just that. Adam said that it was really God’s fault because God had given him Eve. This too was a lie. God did not make him do anything. Adam freely gave in to Eve.
- Eve blames the serpent, Satan (verse 13). “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” Notice how Eve was more truthful than Adam. Like Adam, however, Eve did not immediately confess either. She blamed Satan before saying, “I did eat.” It is quite true that Eve was tricked; the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul affirms this in 2 Corinthians 11:3 and 1 Timothy 2:14. Adam acted deliberately; Eve, on the other hand, simply did not know any better. Also observe how Eve admitted that Satan, “the serpent,” was involved. It was an evil action indeed. Mankind was now willfully operating under the influence of Satan.
The eight points delineated above highlight the immediate results of Adam eating the forbidden fruit. Adam and Eve’s relationship with the LORD God was broken. Consequently, their marriage was broken. Adam attacked Eve when he knew he, as the federal head, had failed. “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy 2:14). Again, Adam knew exactly what he was doing when he sinned. Eve did not know any better.
Adam could no longer approach God because he had died. Yes, Adam’s physical body was still living, but his spiritual body was darkened and dead. He was to have a connection with God via his spirit, but now that was severed. Adam, because of sin, was alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18). He was no longer sinless. He was no longer the man made in the image of God; neither was Eve. Inside, Adam and Eve no longer bore any resemblance to their Creator. Now, Adam would have children “in his own image and after his own likeness” (Genesis 5:1). But, how could they keep living physically?
Lost people, and critics of the Bible in general, have no understanding of the effects of sin. They like to complain about the Bible, but as the saying goes, “Those who criticize the Bible the most read the Bible the least!” Romans 6:23 explains how Adam could die spiritually and yet be alive physically: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Note that “wages” is plural. There is more than one type of “death” implied when it comes to sin. In the Scriptures, there are spiritual death, physical death, functional death, the second death, and so on. Immediately, Adam and Eve experienced spiritual death (more serious because it was the first one), but physical death eventually took its toll as well (initiated by the invisible spiritual death many years earlier).
The complete effects of the Fall were not immediately evident, but those effects are recorded in Genesis 3:16-19. Eve would later give birth to children, so labor pains were not experienced for some time. Thorns and thistles grew immediately. Labor will now be hard and not as efficient as it originally was. Adam and Eve were to continue eating only plants, but animal flesh would be incorporated into the human diet centuries later with Noah (Genesis 9:1-4). There was today what we would call “incest”—intermarriage between siblings and cousins—but the human genome evidently was not heavily corrupted with mutations until a long time after the Fall.
HOW GOD RESPONDED TO ADAM AND EVE’S SIN
The most important fact in all of this is not how Adam and Eve responded, but rather how God responded. Genesis chapter 3 continues: “ And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.  Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” The Bible says that the LORD God “made coats of skins” and “clothed” Adam and Eve. This has a dual application. God killed some animals, shed their blood to atone for Adam and Eve’s sins, and then He covered this husband and wife with coats of skin—a spiritual covering followed by a physical covering. Verse 20 is Adam’s profession of faith. He called his wife “Eve” because “she was the mother of all living.” God had told them that they would both die because of their disobedience. Yet, Adam said Eve would live to be a “mother.” Why and how? In verse 15, God told Eve that she would live to bear at least one child, someone who would fight and defeat the Devil and undo what she and Adam had done in Eden. We know this “seed” as Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16; Galatians 4:4). While Adam and Eve did not know of the name of “Jesus Christ,” they at least knew “the seed of the woman” (some man) would come one day and do God’s will on their behalf since they had failed.
Adam was most definitely a saved man. He died “in Christ.” What information God had revealed at that point in human history, Adam believed it. Adam trusted in God’s promise of Genesis 3:15, and according to Genesis 4:1, Eve believed that Gospel message as well. Adam also realized that his fig-leaf apron (religion) was embarrassingly insufficient to cover him and Eve. Thus, he let God clothe him and his wife with His righteousness. Most definitely, Adam died a redeemed man, as saved unto eternal life as we are in Jesus Christ. The same is true of Eve. (When you get to heaven one day, brother or sister in Christ, please be sure to talk to them!)
Here is a lesson we can learn. If we are unsaved today, God is not looking for us to “clean up our lives” so He can then welcome us into His heaven. Oh, no. Our works can do nothing to do save us. We must come to the Creator God by faith, simple truth in the fact that “Jesus Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). That is the Gospel by which we are saved today—no “sinner’s prayer,” no walking an aisle, no shaking a preacher’s hand, no keeping commandments, no signing a church membership form, no turning from your sins, nothing that you do. As Adam believed God’s Word to him, so believe God’s Word to you. God has not shed an animal’s blood for you. Rather, He gave up His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of that animal blood that was shed in the Garden of Eden ever so long ago. My precious reader, please delay no longer, if you have not relied exclusively on Jesus Christ. Death may come sooner than you think, and then you will not have another chance. Come by simple faith to Calvary’s cross and trust Jesus Christ, so that you too, as Adam and Eve, will one day die a saved person.
SUPPLEMENTAL – THE ORIGINAL CLOTHES OF ADAM AND EVE
The Bible says Adam and Eve “were both naked…and were not ashamed” (Genesis 1:25). How could they be naked, and yet unashamed?
In 1 Timothy 6:16 we read of Jesus Christ “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto….” God’s righteousness and holiness emanate from His body in the form of a bright light. “O LORD my God… who coverest thyself with light as with a garment” (Psalm 104:2). Originally, before the Fall, Adam and Eve did not wear physical clothes, but they were clothed with something… they were clothed with the righteousness of God Himself because sin had not entered into creation yet.
God created man in His image (Genesis 1:26-27); man was originally sinless, as perfect as God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed by eating the forbidden fruit, God’s righteousness left their bodies. They were sinners now, so God’s light no longer covered them (spiritually and physically). Adam and Eve were physically and spiritually naked, so they frantically gathered itchy fig leaves and covered themselves (Genesis 3:7). The LORD God, in His great love and grace, sought these lost souls. Adam and Eve hid, too afraid to approach our holy and righteous God. But, God in His brilliance devised a plan to restore them. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). The Bible says that God killed innocent animals. He used the blood to provide Adam and Eve’s spiritual clothes (forgiveness), and the skins served as their physical clothes.
Isaiah 61:10 summarizes (saved Israel speaking): “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” God did that for Adam, Eve, Israel, and us too! If we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been clothed with God’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Christ, we are just as Adam and Eve were before the fall, in perfect standing before God.
God told Adam that in the day that he would eat thereof, he would surely die. Yet, Adam kept living for over 900 more years. There was more than one type of death implied in God’s warning. First and foremost, it was spiritual death, and Adam and Eve knew it immediately after they ate that forbidden fruit. Their words and actions demonstrate their cognizance that God’s warning was not hollow words. They knew exactly what happened, and why. We can be sure that Adam and Eve were redeemed, but they lived their rest of their physical lives in a fallen world. Adam saw the effects of sin for over 900 years… he lived every day with full knowledge that he was directly responsible for it. He saw his loved ones die, he saw animals viciously kill and devour one another, he slaved away as a farmer sweating and struggling with thorns and thistles, he saw Eve endure horrible labor pains, and he and her never again saw the Garden of Eden. Eventually, physical death came for Adam and Eve too, confirming that spiritual death had indeed infected them years earlier.
» Was God “unfair” to punish us because of Adam’s sin?
» Why did God ask where Adam was?
» How can a loving God send people to hell forever?