Q. I have some questions about Adam and Eve when they sinned. Where was Adam when Eve was tempted? Also, why does Adam apparently get the blame for their sinning, when Eve did it first? I refer to passages like Romans 5 (“through one man sin entered the world,” and “the transgression of Adam,” not Eve).

A. This is a perfect example of having to accept that God has given to people what they need to know, and then leaving it at that, avoiding speculation (though there might be a reluctant enjoyment in speculating), which can lead to dead ends and maybe even false thinking. Questions like, Why did the serpent go for Eve instead of Adam? or How did the Devil get into the serpent? or What if Adam had not taken the forbidden fruit, unlike Eve? are examples. What the Bible tells us is that Adam and Eve sinned, that they were subsequently driven out of the Garden of Eden, that they bore the penalty for their disobedience–death–and that their disobedience has affected the whole human race.

The Bible doesn’t tell us whether Adam saw the serpent tempt Eve. Some believe that he did and that he should have stopped her from taking the forbidden fruit, that instead he was silent and passive. Some believe that Eve may not have been submissive to her husband. If this is so, it would seem that the initial sin was not disobedience regarding the forbidden fruit but, rather, failure to do right in their roles. We know that the New Testament presents the principle that wives need to be submissive to their husbands (Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1). Women in general need to submit to male leadership in the local church as well (1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12). Yet the sin in the Garden appears to be disobedience to the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. After Adam and Eve fell into sin and lost their innocence, God prescribed the divine roles that the man and the woman were to have.

Concerning the matter about Adam getting the blame, both Adam and Eve stood guilty and condemned and received curses (Genesis 3:16-19). Here is what Bible scholars have termed “federal headship.” God created Adam before Eve; therefore, God made Adam the representative of the entire human race, all who descended from him, which includes, of course, all of us. Adam became a type of Christ, who is referred to as the “second Adam.” “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man [Adam] came death, by Man [Christ] also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).

Also, I should mention 1 Timothy 2:14, which seems to present a difference between Eve’s sin and Adam’s sin: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” In other words, Adam sinned willfully (fully with his eyes open), whereas Eve was deceived. Interestingly, when God called to Adam and Eve as they hid in the Garden, He first called to Adam, not Eve (Genesis 3:9).

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send your Bible questions to nolson@garbc.org, or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.