As I’ve wrestled with Scripture the past several years over the issue of manhood, Genesis 1-3 has remained foundational in the development of my theology of Christian masculinity. I find myself continually returning to this text in order to glean insights on God’s plan for redeemed manhood. It is my contention that an important feature of the narrative—one that provides insight into our calling as men—is the fact that Adam was with Eve during the entire time that Eve was tempted by Satan.
Why Does it Matter?
This may seem like an incidental detail in a narrative that is mainly about explaining the fall of mankind and the need for a redeemer. But as we read a narrative text like Genesis 2-3, we must keep in mind that Moses is not merely reporting historical facts; he is also making an argument; and how he frames the story contributes to his overall argument. In the case of Adam and Eve, I believe the features of the narrative indicate that Moses is emphasizing Adam’s passivity as the primary contributing factor to the first couple’s fall into sin.
If Adam was with Eve the entire time—from initial engagement with the serpent to the eating of the fruit—this means that the man stood idly by while the enemy lured his wife into sin. Male passivity, then, is not a minor glitch; it is one of the most serious of all the problems men face. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the fall of mankind into sin and ruin was the result of one man’s passivity.
Ultimately, the text points toward the seed of the woman who would resist passivity and actively pursue God’s will, guard his bride against deception, and prevail over the serpent (Gen 3:15). But the text also has something to say to those whose manhood has been redeemed by this second Adam. As believers, we must heed the warnings embedded in this narrative as we pursue mature manhood in Christ.
Five Pieces of Evidence that Point Toward
Adam’s Presence with Eve During the Temptation
First, we learn in Genesis 2:18 that it was not good for man to be alone. In response to this situation, God created a woman in order to remedy this lack in Adam’s life (Gen 2:21-22). Having created the perfect complement to the man, the man and woman were to become “one flesh” in sexual union (Gen 2:24). Indeed, the end of chapter two reports that the man and the woman were both “naked and unashamed” (Gen 2:25). When we come to chapter three, it is reasonable to assume that Adam and Eve would have been together given the fact that she was created for the very purpose of companionship and that they already had or were about ready to become one flesh. In other words, it’s natural to expect that Adam and Eve are together as we come to the events in chapter three.
Second, when Satan addresses Eve, he inquires about the commandment God had given regarding from what trees the man and the woman could eat. “Did God actually say,” Satan asks, “‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’” (Gen 3:1)? Although one cannot see this in the English translation, the Hebrew indicates that when God gave this original commandment to Adam, he addressed the man in the singular: “…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat” (Gen 2:17, emphasis added).
When Satan asks Eve about this commandment, he uses the plural: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden” (emphasis added). Eve then replies in the plural: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” Satan responds again in the plural: “You will not surely die! For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4-5, emphasis added). The fact that Eve and the serpent discuss God’s commandment by using plural pronouns seems to imply that the man was with her during this time.
Third, when Eve takes of the fruit and gives it to her husband, the text says that he was “with her.” But why did Moses include this bit of information? To say that the woman gave the fruit to her husband implies that he was with her, for how else would she give him the fruit? In other words, the word translated by the phrase “with her” is simply redundant unless Moses means to indicate that the man was with her during the entire episode, not just at the giving of the fruit.
Fourth, immediately after Adam eats of the fruit, the man and the woman’s eyes were opened. The first thing they notice is their nakedness. The last place nakedness was mentioned was in Gen 2:25 where the text says that the couple were both “naked and unashamed.” By situating the account of the serpent’s deception between these to references to nakedness, it seems that Moses is indicating that what was true in the first reference to nakedness was true until the second mention of nakedness; namely, that the man and woman were together.
Fifth, immediately after Adam and Eve ate the fruit and heard the sound of God walking in the cool of the day, they hid themselves. The Hebrew text seems to indicate, however, that they did this separately. Robert Reymond explains: “We are informed in 3:8 not that the man and his wife together hid themselves but, as the Hebrew literally reads, that ‘the man hid himself and the woman herself.’ It was a case of ‘every man for himself'” (A New Systematic Theology, 448). It seems that the reader is meant to see this separation as an unnatural event given the immediate context and light of the intimate companionship Adam and Eve were supposed to share. In other words, the report that Adam and Eve separated to hide from God (and that Adam abandoned his wife) should be viewed as a first-time event.
None of these five pieces of evidence taken individually prove that Adam was with Eve during the entire temptation from Satan’s initial approach to Eve’s eating of the fruit. But together they build a cumulative case that strongly suggests that Adam was with his wife the whole time.
If my interpretation is correct, then we are able to glean some important insights from this texts pertaining to godly masculinity. I will mention two.
(1) Bypassing Male Leadership is Often Satan’s First Strategy in the Marriage
The first thing we must note is that Satan will often slip past passive male leadership in order to engage directly with the woman. If he can isolate her away from her husband, whisper conflicting messages in her ear, and place the burden of spiritual leadership upon her shoulders, he has done much to infiltrate her defenses and set her up for deception. Adam’s role included protection of the Garden from outside enemies (Gen 2:15; he was to “keep” the garden). As we see in the subsequent narrative, Adam abdicated this role and failed to protect his new bride. A man’s first concern should be the spiritual protection of his bride, yet passivity will lull us to sleep and leave our wives vulnerable to the wiles of the enemy.
(2) Satan Will Gradually Lead a Defenseless Family into Deception
Once the husband was lulled into a state of passivity, the enemy initially exercised some restraint and delicately floated a small portion of half-truth toward Eve (“Did God actually say?”). Once the woman gathered his initial, seemingly harmless half-truth into her mind, he became more straightforward: “You surely will not die!” When the man is passive, Satan can more easily create an atmosphere of doubt among the family members. That is, he can creep in and subtly introduce imperceptible elements of doubt over God’s Word into the spiritual air.
Once we’ve taken a few breaths of this tainted oxygen, it becomes much easier for the enemy to introduce truly noxious fumes. To guard one’s family against spiritual deception, a man can never be passive when it comes to upholding the integrity and trustworthiness and clarity of God’s Word. If a man holds the line here, he has already done much to protect his family from the strategies of Satan.
It is no wonder that the Second Adam defeated the enemy’s tactics at every point with direct quotes from Scripture. Long ago, Satan once asked, “Did God actually say?” Several generations later, Jesus answered for his bride and said emphatically, “Yes, he did” (Matt 4:4-11). As followers of this Scripture-saturated Christ, we cannot passively allow doubts over God’s Word to gain a foothold in our families.