The general contents of this chapter we have (Ro 5:12).
By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death
passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
More particularly, we have here,
- The innocent tempted, ver. 1 - 5.
- The tempted transgressing, ver. 6, 7, 8.
- The transgressors arraigned, ver. 9, 10.
- Upon their arraignment convicted, ver. 11 - 13.
- Upon their conviction sentenced, ver. 14 - 19.
- After sentence, reprieved, ver. 20, 21.
- Notwithstanding their reprieve, execution in part done, ver. 2 2 - 24,
and were it not for the gracious intimations of redemption,
they and all their race had been left to despair.
1-5: We have here an account of the temptation wherewith
Satan assaulted our first parents, and which proved fatal to them. And
- The tempter, the devil in the shape of a serpent. Multitudes of
them fell; but this that attacked our first parents, was surely the
prince of the devils. Whether it was only the appearance of a serpent,
or a real serpent, acted and possessed by the devil, is not certain.
The devil chose to act his part in a serpent, because it is a subtle
creature. It is not improbable, that reason and speech were then the
known properties of the serpent. And therefore Eve was not surprised at
his reasoning and speaking, which otherwise she must have been.
- That which the devil aimed at, was to persuade Eve to eat
forbidden fruit; and to do this, he took the same method that he doth
still. 1. He questions whether it were a sin or no, (Ge 3:1,2). He
denies that there was any danger in it, (Ge 3:4). 3. He suggests much
advantage by it, (Ge 3:5). And these are his common topics.
As to the advantage, he suits the temptation to the pure state they
were now in, proposing to them not any carnal pleasure, but intellectual
- Your eyes shall be opened - You shall have much more of the
power and pleasure of contemplation than now you have; you shall fetch a
larger compass in your intellectual views, and see farther into things
than now you do.
- You shall be as gods - As Elohim, mighty gods, not
only omniscient but omnipotent too:
- You shall know good and evil - That
is, everything that is desirable to be known. To support this part of the
temptation, he abuseth the name given to this tree. 'Twas intended to teach
the practical knowledge of good and evil, that is, of duty and disobedience,
and it would prove the experimental knowledge of good and evil, that is, of
happiness and misery. But he perverts the sense of it, and wrests it to
their destruction, as if this tree would give them a speculative notional
knowledge of the natures, kinds, and originals of good and evil. And,
- All this presently, In the day you eat thereof - You will find a sudden
and immediate change for the better.
6-8: Here we see what Eve's parley with the tempter ended in:
Satan at length gains his point. God tried the obedience of our first
parents by forbidding them the tree of knowledge, and Satan doth as it
were join issue with God, and in that very thing undertakes to seduce
them into a transgression; and here we find how he prevailed, God
permitting it for wise and holy ends.
[1.] We have here the inducements that moved them to transgress. The
woman being deceived, was ring - leader in the transgression,(1Ti 2:14).
- She saw that the tree was - It was said of all the rest of the
fruit trees wherewith the garden of Eden was planted, that they
were pleasant to the sight, and good for food.
- She imagined a greater
benefit by this tree than by any of the rest, that it was a tree not
only not to be dreaded, but to be desired to make one wise, and therein
excelling all the rest of the trees. This she saw, that is, she
perceived and understood it by what the devil had said to her. She gave
also to her husband with her - 'Tis likely he was not with her when she
was tempted; surely if he had, he would have interposed to prevent the
sin; but he came to her when she had eaten, and was prevailed with by
her to eat likewise. She gave it to him; persuading him with the same
arguements that the serpent had used with her; adding this to the rest,
that she herself had eaten of it, and found it so far from being deadly
that it was extremely pleasant and grateful. And he did eat - This
implied the unbelief of God's word, and confidence in the devil's;
discontent with his present state, and an ambition of the honour which
comes not from God. He would be both his own carver, and his own
master, would have what he pleased, and do what he pleased; his sin was
in one word disobedience, (Ro 5:19), disobedience to a plain, easy
and express command, which he knew to be a command of trial. He sins against
light and love, the clearest light and the dearest love that ever sinner
sinned against. But the greatest aggravation of his sin was, that he
involved all his posterity in sin and ruin by it. He could not but know
that he stood as a public person, and that his disobedience would be
fatal to all his seed; and if so, it was certainly both the greatest
treachery and the greatest cruelty that ever was. Shame and fear seized
the criminals, these came into the world along with sin, and still
attend it. The Eyes of them both were opened - The eyes of their
consciences; their hearts smote them for what they had done Now, when it
was too late, they saw the happiness they were fallen from, and the
misery they were fallen into. They saw God provoked, his favour
forfeited, his image lost; they felt a disorder in their own spirits,
which they had never before been conscious of; they saw a law in their
members warring against the law of their minds, and captivating them
both to sin and wrath; they saw that they were naked, that is, that they
were stripped, deprived of all the honours and joys of their paradise
state, and exposed to all the miseries that might justly be expected
from an angry God; laid open to the contempt and reproach of heaven and
earth, and their own consciences. And they sewed or platted fig
leaves together, and, to cover, at least, part of their shame one from
another, made themselves aprons. See here what is commonly the folly of
those that have sinned: they are more solicitous to save their credit before
men, than to obtain their pardon from God. And they heard the voice of
the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day - Tis supposed
he came in a human shape; in no other similitude than that wherein they
had seen him when he put them into paradise; for he came to convince and
humble them, not to amaze and terrify them. He came not immediately
from heaven in their view as afterwards on mount Sinai, but he came
in the garden, as one that was still willing to be familiar with them.
He came walking, not riding upon the wings of the wind, but walking
deliberately, as one slow to anger. He came in the cool of the day, not
in the night, when all fears are doubly fearful; nor did he come
suddenly upon them, but they heard his voice at some distance, giving
them notice of his coming; and probably it was a still small voice, like
that in which he came to enquire after Elijah. And they hid
themselves from the presence of the Lord God - A sad change! Before they
had sinned, if they heard the voice of the Lord God coming towards them,
they would have run to meet him, but now God was become a terror to them,
and then no marvel they were become a terror to themselves.
9: Where art thou? - This enquiry after Adam may be looked upon
as a gracious pursuit in order to his recovery. If God had not called
to him to reduce him, his condition had been as desperate as that of fallen
10: I heard thy voice in the garden: and I was afraid - Adam was
afraid because he was naked; not only unarmed, and therefore
afraid to contend with God, but unclothed and therefore afraid
so much as to appear before him.
11: Who told thee that thou wast naked? - That is, how camest thou to
be sensible of thy nakedness as thy shame? Hast thou eaten of the tree?
- Tho' God knows all our sins, yet he will know them from us, and
requires from us an ingenuous confession of them, not that he may be
informed, but that we may be humbled. Whereof I commanded thee
not to eat of it, I thy maker, I thy master, I thy benefactor, I
commanded thee to the contrary. Sin appears most plain and most
sinful in the glass of the commandment.
13: What is this that thou hast done? - Wilt thou own thy fault?
Neither of them does this fully. Adam lays all the blame upon his wife:
She gave me of the tree - Nay, he not only lays the blame upon his wife,
but tacitly on God himself. The woman thou gavest me, and gavest to be
with me as my companion, she gave me of the tree.
Eve lays all the blame upon the serpent; the serpent beguiled me.
The prisoners being found guilty by their own confession, besides the
infallible knowledge of the Judge, and nothing material being offered in
arrest of judgment, God immediately proceeds to pass sentence, and in
these verses he begins (where the sin began) with the serpent. God did
not examine the serpent, nor ask him what he had done, but immediately
sentenced him, (1.) Because he was already convicted of rebellion
against God. (2.) Because he was to be for ever excluded from pardon;
and why should any thing be said to convince and humble him, who was to
find no place for repentance?
14: To testify a displeasure against sin, God fastens a curse upon
the serpent, Thou art cursed above all cattle - Even the creeping
things, when God made them, were blessed of him, (Ge 1:22), but sin
turned the blessing into a curse. Upon thy belly shalt thou go - No
longer upon feet, or half erect, but thou shalt crawl along, thy belly
cleaving to the earth. Dust thou shalt eat - Which signifies a base
and despicable condition.
15: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman - The inferior
creatures being made for man, it was a curse upon any of them to be
turned against man, and man against them. And this is part of the
- A perpetual reproach is fastened upon him. Under the cover of the
serpent he is here sentenced to be, (1.) Degraded and accursed of God.
It is supposed, pride was the sin that turned angels into devils, which
is here justly punished by a great variety of mortifications couched
under the mean circumstances of a serpent, crawling on his belly, and
licking the dust. (2.) Detested and abhorred of all mankind: even
those that are really seduced into his interest, yet profess a hatred of
him. (3.) Destroyed and ruined at last by the great Redeemer,
signified by the bruising of his head; his subtle politics shall be all
baffled, his usurped power entirely crushed.
- A perpetual quarrel is here commenced between the kingdom of God,
and the kingdom of the devil among men; war proclaimed between the seed
of the woman, and the seed of the serpent, (Re 12:7). It is the
fruit of this enmity, (1.) That there is a continual conflict between God's
people and him. Heaven and hell can never be reconciled, no more can
Satan and a sanctified soul. (2.) That there is likewise a continual
struggle between the wicked and the good. And all the malice of
persecutors against the people of God is the fruit of this enmity, which
will continue while there is a godly man on this side heaven, and a
wicked man on this side hell.
- A gracious promise is here made of Christ as the deliverer of
fallen man from the power of Satan. By faith in this promise, our first
parents, and the patriarchs before the flood, were justified and saved;
and to this promise, and the benefit of it, instantly serving God day
and night they hoped to come. Notice is here given them of three
things concerning Christ. (1.) His incarnation, that he should be the
seed of the woman. (2.) His sufferings and death, pointed at in
Satan's bruising his heel, that is, his human nature. (3.) His
victory over Satan thereby. Satan had now trampled upon the woman,
and insulted over her; but the seed of the woman should be raised up in
the fulness of time to avenge her quarrel, and to trample upon him, to
spoil him, to lead him captive, and to triumph over him,(Col 2:15).
16: We have here the sentence past upon the woman; she is condemned
to a state of sorrow and a state of subjection: proper punishments
of a sin in which she had gratified her pleasure and her pride.
- She is here put into a state of sorrow; one particular of which
only is instanced in, that in bringing forth children, but it includes
all those impressions of grief and fear which the mind of that tender sex is
most apt to receive, and all the common calamities which they are liable to.
It is God that multiplies our sorrows, I will do it: God, as a
righteous Judge, doth it, which ought to silence us under all our
sorrows; as many as they are we have deserved them all, and more: nay, God
as a tender Father doth it for our necessary correction, that we may be
humbled for sin, and weaned from it.
- She is here put into a state
of subjection: the whole sex, which by creation was equal with man, is
for sin made inferior.
17: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife - He excused
the fault, by laying it on his wife, but God doth not admit the excuse;
tho' it was her fault to persuade him to eat it, it was his fault to
hearken to her. Cursed is the ground for thy sake - And the effect of
that curse is, Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee - The
ground or earth, by the sin of man, is made subject to vanity,
the several parts of it being not so serviceable to man's comfort and
happiness, as they were when they were made. Fruitfulness was its
blessing for man's service, (Ge 1:11-29), and now barrenness was its
curse for man's punishment.
19: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread - His business
before he sinned was a constant pleasure to him; but now his labour
shall be a weariness. Unto dust shalt thou return - Thy body shall be
forsaken by thy soul, and become itself a lump of dust, and then it
shall be lodged in the grave, and mingle with the dust of the earth.
20: God having named the man, and called him Adam, which signifies
red earth, he in farther token of dominion named the woman, and called
her Eve - That is, life. Adam bears the name of the dying body,
Eve of the living soul. The reason of the name is here given, some
think by Moses the historian, others by Adam himself, because
she was - That is, was to be the mother of all living. He had called
her Isha, woman, before, as a wife; here he calls her Evah, life,
as a mother. Now, 1. If this was done by divine direction, it was an
instance of God's favour, and, like the new naming of Abraham and
Sarah, it was a seal of the covenant, and an assurance to them, that
notwithstanding their sin, he had not reversed that blessing wherewith he had
blessed them, Be fruitful and multiply: it was likewise a confirmation of
the promise now made, that the seed of the woman, of this woman, should break
the serpent's head. 2. If Adam did of himself, it was an instance of his
faith in the word of God.
21: These coats of skin had a significancy. The beasts whose skins
they were, must be slain; slain before their eyes to shew them what
death is. And probably 'tis supposed they were slain for sacrifice,
to typify the great sacrifice which in the latter end of the world
should be offered once for all. Thus the first thing that died was a
sacrifice, or Christ in a figure.
22: Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil
- See what he has got, what advantages, by eating forbidden fruit!
This is said to humble them, and to bring them to a sense of their sin
and folly, that seeing themselves thus wretchedly deceived by following
the devil's counsel, they might henceforth pursue the happiness God
offers, in the way he prescribes.
23: He sent him forth - Bid him go out, told him he should no
longer occupy and enjoy that garden; but he was not willing to part with it.
24: God drove him out - This signified the exclusion of him and his
guilty race from that communion with God which was the bliss and glory
of paradise. But whether did he send him when he turned him out of
Eden? He might justly have chased him out of the world,(Job 18:18), but he only chased him out of the garden: he might justly
have cast him down to hell, as the angels that sinned were, when they
were shut out from the heavenly paradise, (2Pe 2:4), but man was only
sent to till the ground out of which he was taken. He was only sent to
a place of toil, not to a place of torment. He was sent to the ground, not
to the grave; to the work - house, not to the dungeon, not to the
prison - house; to hold the plough, not to drag the chain: his tilling
the ground would be recompensed by his eating its fruits; and his
converse with the earth, whence he was taken, was improveable to good
purposes, to keep him humble, and to mind him of his latter end.
Observe then, That though our first parents were excluded from the
privileges of their state of innocency, yet they were not abandoned to
despair; God's thoughts of love designing them for a second state of
probation upon new terms. And he placed at the east of the garden
of Eden, a detachment of cherubim, armed with a dreadful and
irresistible power, represented by flaming swords which turned every way,
on that side the garden which lay next to the place whither Adam was
sent, to keep the way that led to the tree of life.
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