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Genesis Chapter Three


I. Content of the Chapter


The First Fall of Man

A.  The serpent induced the woman (v.1-5);

B.  The man and the woman ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil (v.6);

C.  The results of the disobedience of the man and the woman to God’s commandments:

1.  Their eyes were opened  666at once and knew that they were naked (v.7);

2.  They escaped the face of God (v.8-10);

3.  They were questioned by God and shuffled off the responsibility (v.11-13);

4.  The condemnation of God upon the serpent (v.14-15);

5.  The condemnation of God upon the woman (v.16);

6.  The condemnation of God upon the man (v.17-19);

7.  Grace in judgment (v.20-21);

8.  Be cast out of the garden of Eden (v.22-24);


II. Verse by Verse Commentary


Gen. 3:1 “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, "You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"”

YLT: “And the serpent hath been subtile above every beast of the field which Jehovah God hath made, and he saith unto the woman, `Is it true that God hath said, Ye do not eat of every tree of the garden?'”

Meaning of Words: “serpent”, the etymon of the word is the same with that of “enchantment” and “divination”; “cunning”: crafty, subtle;

Literal Meaning: Satan was also called the “ancient serpent” (Rev. 12:9; 20:2). It entered into the cleverest living creature at that time and transformed itself into an angel of light to speak to Eve (2Cor. 11:3, 14).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) The way of Satan’s work is hiding its true face behind some beautiful and wise men or things to deceive others secretly.

  2) The devil often speaks to men through men or things. Let believers take heed of the words of the devil.

  3) The devil does not seek man, but woman, so he always starts from those who are weak in spirit (it is said in the Bible woman is the weaker vessel) (1Pet. 3:7).

  4) The devil’s intrigue of inducing man is doubt about the word of God ---- “Has God indeed said...”.

  5) “Has God indeed said”, some believers have clearly seen the word of God, they still regard it is not spoken to them.


Gen. 3:2 “And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;”

YLT: “And the woman saith unto the serpent, `Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we do eat,”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) It is the first step of fault for Eve to not refuse to talk with the serpent. Let us resist the temptations of the devil and be steadfast in faith (1Pet. 5:8-9).

  2) Eve went beyond Adam and talked to the serpent directly. It is the main reason for man’s failure of not keeping his own domain and going against the authority.


Gen. 3:3 “but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, "You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die."'”

YLT: “and of the fruit of the tree which in the midst of the garden God hath said, Ye do not eat of it, nor touch it, lest ye die.'”

Meaning of Words: “touch”: beat, draw near, smite;

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) The first failure of Eve is changing the word of God slightly:

      a. “May freely eat” (2:16) is decreased as “may eat” (v.2).

      b. “Shall not eat” (2:17) is increased as “shall not eat...nor shall you touch”.

      c. “Shall surely die” (2:17) is changed as “lest you die”.

  2) Unfamiliarity with the word of God may give room to the devil.

  3) It is dangerous for a man who does not know God to use the word of God flippantly.


Gen. 3:4 “Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.”

YLT: “And the serpent saith unto the woman, `Dying, ye do not die,”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) God has said “you shall surely die” (2:7), but the devil said “will not surely die”.

  2) The devil often deceives man by the word of “will not surely ...”, for example: doing evil “will not surely” be caught by God. And doing something “will not surely” be displeased by God.


Gen. 3:5 “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."”

YLT: “for God doth know that in the day of your eating of it -- your eyes have been opened, and ye have been as God, knowing good and evil.'”

Literal Meaning: the devil’s word in this verse on one hand accuses of God and provokes man’s doubt about God’ will. And on the other hand, it stirs up man’s pride to be “like God”.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) It is the worst crisis for believers to doubt God’s good will, which is just equal to opening the door to welcome the devil’s temptations.

  2) It is the main reason for man’s stumbling of coveting for the power “like God”.

  3) Today, many believers seek spiritual gifts blindly but have ignored the growth in life. Probably, they do not know they have been deceived by Satan’s trick of “being like God”.

  4) Behind the desire of “being like God”, there is an evil ambition of man rebel against God and become God.


Gen. 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”

YLT: “And the woman seeth that the tree good for food, and that it pleasant to the eyes, and the tree is desirable to make wise, and she taketh of its fruit and eateth, and giveth also to her husband with her, and he doth eat;”

Meaning of Words: “pleasant”: greatly beloved, precious; “wise”: intelligent, have understanding;

Literal Meaning: “so then”, it showed that she had received the suggestion of Satan in mind.

  “Desirable”: her affection was also attracted.

  “She took...”: she made the decision with her will.

  All the three functions of her soul ---- mind and affection and will ----take part in it.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Eve was drawn by three kinds of desires: a) “good for food” ---- the lust of the flesh; b) “pleasant to the eyes” ---- the lust of the eyes; c) “make one wise” ---- the pride of life (see 1John 2:16; Matt. 4:1-11).

  2) There were four steps of Eve’s fall: a) “see” with her eyes; b) “take” by her hands; c) “eat” with her mouth; d) “give” to others with her hand;

  3) The fall of Eve lies in failing to use her “spirit” but use “body” and “soul” only. In other words, her “body” obeyed her “soul”, instead of her “spirit”.

  4) Eve was supposed to ask Adam first. However, she did by himself ---- this was the reason for her failure. It is an omen of sin of the mind of scheming to be independent of God.

  5) Adam failed to stand on the position set by God, nor kept the commandments of God.

  6) Sin is infectious. Once man commits sins, those who are close to him will be influenced.

  7) “Eat”, it shows that the fall of man had not only disobeyed the commandment of God (Gen. 2:17) but also let the constitutions of sin enter into man.


Gen. 3:7 “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 coverings.”

YLT: “and the eyes of them both are opened, and they know that they naked, and they sew fig-leaves, and make to themselves girdles.”

Literal Meaning: “fig tree” existed naturally; “sew”: make by human effort; “leaves” and “coverings” both symbolize human works;

  This verse indicates that the conscience of sinners makes them know their shame so that they desire to cover them by their natural strength and works. In other words, it is impossible to be made perfect by the flesh (Gal. 3:3).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) The first response of man to sin is covering.

  2) It is a sign of sin of putting on clothes. Therefore, let us not pay too much attention to gorgeous clothes (1Pet. 3:3-4).

  3) When man’s eyes were opened, they did not become like God, but saw merely shame and ugliness from the good things before them.

  4) Though the coverings made by fig leaves were beautiful, but they endured not long, which indicates that man’s will of doing good appeared to be good in the beginning but failed finally. 


Gen. 3:8 “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

YLT: “And they hear the sound of Jehovah God walking up and down in the garden at the breeze of the day, and the man and his wife hide themselves from the face of Jehovah God in the midst of the trees of the garden.”

Spiritual Meaning: “in the cool of the day”, it suggested that the fall of man destroyed the warm and harmonious relationship between God and man.

  “Trees”, it symbolizes a bloodless way (to please God by good works). However, there is no remission without blood (Heb. 9:22).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Man always hides himself after sin instead of confessing sins for remission.

  2) Though man eluded the face of God, the eyes of Jehovah are in every place, beholding the evil and the good (Pro. 15:3).

  3) If believers do not seek the face of God, they may fall into sins and become weak in conscience.

  4) The feeling of sins makes man afraid of meeting God. Every time when we come to God, we have to confess our sins and be cleansed by the precious blood. Thus we are enabled to have fellowship with God with boldness (1John 1:7-9; Heb. 10:19).


Gen. 3:9 “Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?"”

YLT: “And Jehovah God calleth unto the man, and saith to him, `Where thou?'”

Literal Meaning: God sought sinners, because: 1) God’s righteousness ---- He must judge sins; 2) God’s loving-kindness ---- He cares about sinners; 3) God’s grace ---- He prepares the way of atonement for sinners.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) It is God seeks man, not man seeks God. This is the distinct difference of Christianity from other religions. In Christianity it is God seeks man. However, in all other religions, it is man seeks gods. Therefore, they cannot find the true God.

  2) God always calls believers in them for watching and repentance after they have made mistakes.


Gen. 3:10So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself."

YLT: “and he saith, `Thy sound I have heard in the garden, and I am afraid, for I am naked, and I hide myself.'”

Literal Meaning: it was not the voice of God, but the sin in him, that made him afraid.


Gen. 3:11And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?"

YLT: “And He saith, `Who hath declared to thee that thou naked? of the tree of which I have commanded thee not to eat, hast thou eaten?'”

Literal Meaning: “who told you that you were naked?” It means that who told you it was not good of being naked. God asked this question to lead him to confess his sin.


Gen. 3:12Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate."

YLT: “and the man saith, `The woman whom Thou didst place with me -- she hath given to me of the tree -- and I do eat.'”

Literal Meaning: You gave to be with me”, here Adam spoke in a tone of complaint.

  “She gave me”, Adam also shifted his fault to others.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) It is a common mistake of man to commit sins but not confess sins and blame everyone and everything but himself.

  2) He who covers his transgressions shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes shall obtain mercy (Pro. 28:13).

  3) That the man lays the blame upon others shows there is complaint among men because of sins (Col. 3:13).


Gen. 3:13And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

YLT: “And Jehovah God saith to the woman, `What this thou hast done?' and the woman saith, `The serpent hath caused me to forget -- and I do eat.'”

Meaning of Words: “deceive”: induce, beguile;

Literal Meaning: Eve also shifted the blame on to others as Adam. We can see from her answer that she had realized to be deceived by Satan.


Gen. 3:14So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life.

YLT: “And Jehovah God saith unto the serpent, `Because thou hast done this, cursed thou above all the cattle, and above every beast of the field: on thy belly dost thou go, and dust thou dost eat, all days of thy life;”

Literal Meaning: note that God did not inquire of the serpent, nor gave a chance to the serpent to vindicate itself.

  And more than every beast of the field”, all beasts were involved because of the fall of man.

On your belly you shall go, it suggested that the serpent walked in other manners previously, but then its way of walking was changed, which showed that it was made lower.

And you shall eat dust All the days of your life”, it was wasting and humiliating (Ps. 72:9; Mic. 7:17).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) The devil swallows all those who are of the dust (of the world).

  2) Whenever we live by the natural life, we are the food of Satan.

  3) Believers will not be hurt or swallowed by the devil when they live by the heavenly life and live in the heavenly realm. 


Gen. 3:15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."

YLT: “and enmity I put between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he doth bruise thee -- the head, and thou dost bruise him -- the heel.'”

Literal Meaning: “seed”, it singular form shows it refers to a man or a group of men.

Spiritual Meaning: “her Seed” typifies that Christ Jesus was born of the virgin.

  “Bruise your head”, the Lord gave a fatal wound to the devil when He was on the earth (Heb. 2:14; 1John 3:8).

  “Bruise His heel”, the devil can at most kill the physical body of the Lord but cannot prevent Him from resurrection.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) The devil is the enemy of believers forever. Therefore, let us be chosen soldiers of Christ (2Tim. 2:3).

  2) Not only Satan, but also its ministers have enmity against believers.

  3) The new man of believers has enmity against the old man. The flesh is against the Spirit (Gal. 5:17).

  4) Only in Christ, can believers deal with the enemy of God, Satan.


Gen. 3:16To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you."

YLT: “Unto the woman He said, `Multiplying I multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, in sorrow dost thou bear children, and toward thy husband thy desire, and he doth rule over thee.'”

Meaning of Words: sorrow”: pain, suffering; “desire”: longing for, including sexual desires and possessive instinct;

Literal Meaning: there were three punishments for woman because of sin: 1) the sorrow of conception; 2) the sorrow of bearing children; 3) the ruling of husband; woman in the world would not be delivered from the sorrows of conception and bearing children and always played a weak role in emotional matters.

  And he shall rule over you”, it indicates that God here sets husband as the head of wife (Eph. 5:23), which does not mean female is inferior to male but they perform different functions in family life.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Female believers shall be preserved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and holiness with discretion (2Tim. 2:15).

  2) God’s appointment to woman is truly her deliverance and protection ---- love and obey her husband with whole heart.

  3) The husband symbolizes Christ (Eph. 5:23). Let believers magnify the Lord in daily life and let Him have the first place in everything (Col. 1:18).


Gen. 3:17Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, "You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.

YLT: “And to the man He said, `Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and dost eat of the tree concerning which I have charged thee, saying, Thou dost not eat of it, cursed the ground on thine account; in sorrow thou dost eat of it all days of thy life,”

Literal Meaning: “because you have heeded the voice of your wife”, it shows that hearing his wife blindly is the reason for his sin.

  “Cursed is the ground for your sake”, man’s sin made all things involved (Rom. 8:19-23), because Adam was the head of the old creation, who represented the old creation.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Husband shall love his wife. However, the husband shall judge the words of his wife and not hear her blindly. Once mistakes are made, the husband shall pay more responsibility.

  2) It is the fate caused by sin that man shall make a living in toil all his days. However, if we are willing to come to the Lord, we will find rest in labor (Matt. 11:28).

  3) If man is idle all day, he may have evil thoughts and commit evil works. Therefore, God’s judgment upon man is still a kind of deliverance and protection ---- labor and toil.

  4) “Eat of it”, Man makes a living through and by all things God had created.


Gen. 3:18Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field.

YLT: “and thorn and bramble it doth bring forth to thee, and thou hast eaten the herb of the field;”

Literal Meaning: thorns and thistles symbolize all kinds of difficulties man experiences in his life.

Spiritual Meaning: thorns and thistles” are the sign of curse. The Lord Jesus wore the crown of thorns on the cross, which showed that he bore the curse of sin.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Though believers have tribulations in the world, they have peace in the world (John 16:33).

  2) The way of transforming bitterness to blessing is to love God ---- whatever he who loves God does shall prosper (Ps. 1:2-3).


Gen. 3:19In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."

YLT: “by the sweat of thy face thou dost eat bread till thy return unto the ground, for out of it hast thou been taken, for dust thou , and unto dust thou turnest back.'”

Literal Meaning: it is appointed by God that man shall make a living by labor and toil. And it is the vivid picture of the painful life of laboring all one’s life and being full of sweat on one’s face and turning out to be vain after death.

  It is analyzed that the chemical composition and elements are proved to be out of the ground. Man’s flesh will be decayed to the dust after death.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) What vanity for a man to seek fleshly pleasure only!

  2) Death is the extreme point of a painful life. However, believers do not fear death, for we have the hope of resurrection and for us to live Christ and to die gain (Phil. 1:21).


Gen. 3:20And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

YLT: “And the man calleth his wife's name Eve: for she hath been mother of all living.”

Meaning of Words: “Eve”: life, the source of life;

Literal Meaning: this verse indicates that Adam still believed the promise of God (see v.15).


Gen. 3:21Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

YLT: “And Jehovah God doth make to the man and to his wife coats of skin, and doth clothe them.”

Literal Meaning: “skin”: leather taken from animals, which showed that there was a sacrifice shedding blood and giving life for them; 

Spiritual Meaning: “skin” typifies Christ is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). If man believes into Him, he will put on the robe of righteousness (Luke 15:22).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) There is no remission without blood (Heb. 9:22).

  2) Man used leaves ---- good works ---- to cover shame. But God used skin ---- let man covered under Christ.

  3) Skin was prepared by God, which showed that the salvation of Christ was utterly out of the counsel of God Himself.

  4) Today the redemption has been fulfilled (John 19:30). However, if we do not “put on” ---- “do not believe and receive” Christ, we cannot enjoy the profit of the salvation.

  5) Clothes are for the purpose of covering shame. It goes against the Bible that man in the world likes to wear revealing clothes. Therefore, let believers not imitate them.


Gen. 3:22Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"--

YLT: “And Jehovah God saith, `Lo, the man was as one of Us, as to the knowledge of good and evil; and now, lest he send forth his hand, and have taken also of the tree of life, and eaten, and lived to the age,' --”

Meaning of Words: “put out”: stretch out, send; “live”: make … alive;

Literal Meaning: since man had fallen, if he was allowed to eat the fruit of the tree of life again while living in sin, his condition would be miserable.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Today, we have another “tree”, namely, the cross on which the Lord Jesus was crucified (1Pet. 2:24), through which we can live forever.

  2) If the problem of sin is not solved, man cannot enjoy the divine life. Man has to first appropriate the “blood” of the Lord shedding on the cross and then enjoys the “water” out of Him.

  3) If believers desire to have fellowship with God and enjoy the divine life, they have to confess their own sins first (1John 1:9). 


Gen. 3:23therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.

YLT: “Jehovah God sendeth him forth from the garden of Eden to serve the ground from which he hath been taken;”

Literal Meaning: since man’s relationship was interrupted, he had to return to live in the realm of dust.


Gen. 3:24So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

YLT: “yea, he casteth out the man, and causeth to dwell at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubs and the flame of the sword which is turning itself round to guard the way of the tree of life.”

Meaning of Words: “drive out”: cast out, drive away, expel; “place”: set, abide; “cherubim”: those who are held; “turn way”: whirl around, be converted;

Literal Meaning: “cherubim”, it is in the plural in the original Hebrew, referring to the angels who are much closer to God (Ps. 80:1; 1Sam. 4:4) and have great relationship with the glory of God (Heb. 9:5; Ezek. 9:3).

Spiritual Meaning: Adam was isolated from the source of life (the tree of life) ---- this is “death”.

  “Cherubim” symbolizes the glory of God; “flaming” symbolizes the holiness of God; “world” symbolizes the righteousness of God.

  This verse indicates that man cannot draw near to God or enjoy His life until he has satisfied the requirements of God’s glory and holiness and righteousness.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


Reasons for Adam’s Sin

A.  Meet the temptations of the devil (v.1-5);

B.  Doubt the word of God (v.4);

C.  Pride and the desire of being like God (v.5);

D.  Disobedience to the commandment of God (v.6);


Adam’s Reponses after Sin

A.  Make themselves coverings by fig leaves (v.7);

B.  Hide themselves among the trees (v.8);

C.  Shuffle off their responsibilities to one another (v.12-13);


Results of Adam’s Sin

A.  Lose authority (1:28);

B.  Lose joy (v.16-20, 24);

C.  Lose good (v.7:29; see Gen. chap.4; 6:5-8);

D.  Lose holiness (v.7; Eccl.7:29; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24);

E.  Lose peace (v.8-15);

F.  Lose life (v.19; Rom. 5:12; 6:23; James 1:15);


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

Translated by Mary Zhou