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A Reversal of Authority – Genesis 3:1-3:24

God’s plan for creation, his system for fellowship and communion with his creation, was dependent on a specific order of authority.  In the Fall, this designed chain of command had been violated.  A complete reversal at every level had occurred.  God’s solution forcefully and painfully resets his order.

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Genesis 3:1-24

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
16 To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;

Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
19 By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”

20 Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. 21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.


The Theme Explained

Before continuing, read the passage above and slowly let the images soak in.  Each image is someone’s personal expression of the theme.  Discover how the images reveal the theme from the passage.

God’s divine system had structured an order of authority as follows: God, Man, Woman, living creatures. The land and the rest of creation were designed to serve and to be provision for these beings.

The Fall narrative is a tragic story of the complete reversal of this order. Even the order of appearance in the narrative attests to this. Ironically, the serpent, representative of the living creatures, appears first. The Woman, appearing second, is outsmarted by the Woman as the Serpent carefully maneuvers the discussion, causing her to question God’s authority. The Woman contemplates and follows the serpent (and her own reasoning) over God. Next, Man is mentioned. He obeys Woman without any question, reasoning or hesitation. Not for a moment, questioning the decision to not obey God’s authority. Finally, God makes his appearance and is the one left to investigate how such a complete reversal could have happened.

The interrogation and passing of blame is another clear indication of this irony. Man blames woman, the one whom he was given authority over. Woman blames the serpent, despite having authority over living creatures. The irony is in that the blame is only possible if the order of authority, the chain of command, has broken down.

As would be expected, the progression of consequences resets the order. The Serpent is placed back in its role and emphatically defined as subordinate to Woman. Woman too is placed into her role, and the authority of Man is emphasized. Finally, Man is relegated back to his role as keeper of the land, the task ordained by God. In ther words, he is forced back into his position under God’s authority. Emphasis is on the fact that he will one day return to the state God took him from; he will return to dust.

God’s plan for creation, his system for fellowship and communion with his creation, was dependent on a specific order of authority. In the Fall, this designed chain of command had been violated. A complete reversal at every level had occurred. God’s solution forcefully and painfully resets his order.


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