The Fall in Genesis 3: A Prepositional Approach

The Fall in Genesis 3: A Prepositional Approach

In order to see the power of the cross and receive the gospel as truly good news, we must understand our helpless condition, that we have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The road after Genesis 3 has many twists and turns, but along the way we read about the rescuing grace of God that, in the fullness of time, would take on flesh and dwell among us. Genesis 3 has explanatory power. In the familiar paradigm of Creation-Fall-Redemption-Consummation, the fall explains what happened to creation, it clarifies why we need redemption, and it leaves us groaning for the consummation of all things.

The stories of Scripture contribute to the Story of Scripture, and this Story is chiefly about the redeeming grace of God that is promised and fulfilled in Christ toward sinful creatures. But we weren’t created sinful. God made us in his image that we might commune with him, delight in his word, grow in wisdom, and experience spiritual and physical immortality. God made us to behold and reflect glory. Not far into the Story, however, we fell.

The “fall” is the term summarizing what happened in Genesis 3. From paradise to peril, from spiritual vitality to depravity, from glory to exile, we fell. If we don’t understand this story, then we won’t properly understand the Story of Scripture. Furthermore, if we don’t understand what happened in Genesis 3, we won’t see how these events affect our own lives.

Before Genesis 3

The setup to our fall is only two chapters long. God had created the heavens and the earth, and he had displayed his glory in them. He commissioned his image bearers to be fruitful and multiply and to exercise dominion as his vice-regents. And he blessed all that he had made. From his bountiful goodness, he supplied his image bearers with what they needed for life and flourishing.

Among the good gifts of God in the garden, there were also good trees in the center: a tree of life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God didn’t prohibit eating from the first, but he did prohibit eating from the second: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16–17).

God gave a command, and he gave a warning if his command was violated. Before Genesis 3, Adam and Eve dwelled with one another and with God in untainted communion. The man and woman were naked and not ashamed (Gen. 2:25). But before the next chapter ends, they will be covered and ashamed.

In Genesis 3

The Bible’s third chapter is a threshold because it takes us from the blessed fellowship of Genesis 2 to the devastating events in Genesis 4. The opening verses of Genesis 3 narrate a conversation between the serpent and the woman.

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