Thoughts and Questions About the Fall

Adam and EveIt’s dangerous to pry into the secret things of God, Calvin warns of the dangers of doing just that, going beyond the revelation of scripture but I’ve been thinking about Adam and the Fall (again).  Would Adam have died physically if he had never sinned?

Setting the lapsarian debate aside for just a moment I believe the fall was ordained by God.  Dr. Packer wrote under the heading of Predestination, “Predestination is a word often used to signify God’s foreordaining of all the events of world history, past, present, and future, and this usage is quite appropriate.” (Concise Theology)

Ecclesiastes 3:2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

It seems the author of Ecclesiastes is referring to birth and death as a natural occurrence.  This isn’t an attempt at a definite answer just thinking some of these ideas through.

1 Corinthians 15:47  The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.  48  As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.  49  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

Paul seems to be writing that Adam was of the same substance of other earthly creatures, animals die without sin, so Adam would have physically died without sinning.  Genesis 3 is about falling out of spiritual communion with God, physically dying could have been a result of being out of communion with God the Life Giver but since Adam did not drop dead after eating of the fruit I wonder if he would have died of natural causes?  I don’t believe the Garden was meant to be our “heaven” if you will but typified heaven.  I believe the Sabbath rest and promised land are symbols of heavenly rest, a type or shadow of the rest we have by faith in Christ. (Hebrews 10, 11)

What is the purpose of the Law?

The Law is a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ.  (Galatians 3:24) What is the difference between the command “not to eat of the tree” and other commands given?  According to Dr. Packer the first function of the Law is to act as “a mirror reflecting to us both the perfect righteousness of God and our own sinfulness and shortcomings.”  The second function of the moral Law “is to restrain evil.” The command given to Adam was nothing less then a moral commandment, “By the ‘moral’ law which was given to Adam by God, we mean that he was placed under the requirements of the Ten Command­ments” (Pink, A. W. “The Divine Covenants” Pietan Publications (2003): 35.) The Westminster and London Baptist Confession are proclaim the same truth concerning the Law. We know that Law is given to man by God to show us our sin so can or should we conclude that God had given Adam a Law that He knew would show Adam his sin when, as ordained and decreed, he fell from grace?

John Gill offers the following,

2a2b God predetermined the fall of Adam; this fell under his decree, as all things do that come to pass in the world; there is nothing comes to pass without his determining will…

2a2d There was a concourse of divine providence attending this action, and influencing it as an action, without which it could never have been performed; as divine providence supports every wicked man in his being throughout the whole course of his vicious life,” (Gill, John. “A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity.”  W. Wintereotham, 1796. London: William Whyte & co., 1827.)

In the Garden Adam was given a Law that if obeyed would have given him covenant rights to the earthly Garden. As long as he observed the command given him, not to eat of the fruit, Adam would have been righteous. This righteousness would have allowed him to remain in the Garden but for Adam to receive eternal life he still needed the righteousness of Christ imputed to him. This earthly covenant with God was based on works and doomed to failure.

The second Adam, Jesus Christ, was sent to die, can we conclude so was the first? (1 Cor. 15, Rev. 13:8)

Thank you for enduring my post.





  1. Andrew Suttles · January 2, 2013

    When you say animals and people could die before the fall, have you considered Romans 5:12?

    • jm · January 2, 2013

      Thanks Andrew for the reference. When I read that passage I’m not sure if it means physical death or spiritual death. Verse 14 tells us that ‘death reigned from Adam to Moses’ and gives me the impression (going out on a limb here) that it is a reference to spiritual death for Law breaking. I don’t see anything about animals dying in this or any other passage connected to the fall. Do you believe animals have souls?

      • Andrew Suttles · January 2, 2013

        I think the death here includes physical and spiritual. Romans 5,6, and 7 tie sin and death together in about 10 places (See Rom 6:23, for example; and James 1:15). They contrast eternal life in Christ so we may think it only refers to Spiritual death. Then again, the eternal life we have in Christ is also a physical life, is it not? We will be resurrected!

        In 1 Cor 15:21, I think it is more clear that the death brought about by sin was physical, also:

        “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.”

        Read down to verses 55 and 56 and tell me if you think the Apostle is writing about physical or spiritual death or both…

        “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

        The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.”

      • jm · January 2, 2013

        I see the point you are making but I don’t find it convincing. Lets assume you are correct and Adam would have never died, does that mean Adam had the ability to earn or maintain eternal life through Law keeping? Was it a possibility that Adam could have kept the covenant and earned eternal life? With everything we know about the Law and its purpose I don’t see how its possible.

        I think eternal life comes through Christ and His righteousness alone. Maybe I’m erring too much on the side of caution but I don’t see how Law keeping earns eternal life. Life in the Garden, yes, eternal New Heavens and New Earth life? I don’t know. The passages we have looked at especially 1 Cor.15.47 make a clear distinction between the two Adams and I think that is significant.

        Is this too speculative?

      • Andrew Suttles · January 2, 2013

        I know the classically reformed believe Adam would have inherited eternal life had he obeyed the law. I believe this in theory. Did Adam have a need of a Savior in his first estate. He didn’t need to be justified because he was already just. He didn’t have sins to forgive. I’m not saying that the law gave him life, I’m saying it didnt condemn him.

        Now, does that mean that after a period of time he would be translated to Heaven or some such? That is too speculative for me. Certainly he would have continued to live in the garden and would have close communion with God. In the New Creation, this is exactly what the redeemed will have.

      • Andrew Suttles · January 2, 2013

        JM –

        The point I was making is that I don’t believe there was natural death before the fall. I don’t want to speculate too far about what would have happened had Adam not sinned, because it was God’s decree that he would, and he did.

      • jm · January 2, 2013

        Fair enough Andrew, thank you for your comments, you have given me more to think about (thanks sarcasm lol ). I think the Orthodox priests comment on the subject was pretty good.

  2. jm · January 2, 2013

    Andrew, check out this response on an Eastern Orthodox forum from a Father Moser. Maybe I got the idea from reading Orthodox authors years ago but he makes sense.

    • Andrew Suttles · January 2, 2013

      I enjoyed reading through that. I guess I am in agreement with the Orthodox.

      • Andrew Suttles · January 2, 2013

        I agree generally with the comments the Orthodox made, but I don’t want to go too far with the typology. The tree of life is a type of Christ, but I also believe it was a literal tree. I think Adam and Eve ate from it as an ordnance like the Passover meal or the Lord’s Supper.

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