*Scripture verses covered in this section's commentary are noted in italics

Genesis 3:1-5 meaning

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 3:1
  • Genesis 3:2
  • Genesis 3:3
  • Genesis 3:4
  • Genesis 3:5

The serpent approaches Eve and tempts her to disobey God.

God had given Adam and Eve a commandment in Genesis 2:16-17, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” The serpent used this commandment to deceive Eve into disobeying God.

Satan is called a serpent in the New Testament (Revelation 12:9, 20:2) referring back to his basic nature of being a deceiver and author of destruction. The serpent here appears to be Satan taking the form of a creature, and choosing the craftiest of all the creatures through whom to do his work. The fact that Eve did not appear to be surprised or suspicious that the creature spoke to her presents many possibilities, one of which is that lacking in experience and being innocent Adam and Eve did not know suspicion. The fact that God curses the serpent to crawl on his belly would indicate that the serpent likely did not have the appearance of a snake at this time.

Satan asks Eve if God really said she shouldn’t eat from the tree, and Eve repeats what God had commanded her. The serpent then lies to Eve, telling her that God was wrong, that the fruit wouldn’t kill her but would open her eyes and she would become like God, knowing good and evil. In telling this lie Satan is telling a partial truth, which is the most powerful sort of lie. Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened, but in a way that brought death and destruction into the world.

This is one of the main ways Satan is a liar and deceiver—he frames questions based on false premises. He did this to Eve, delegitimizing God’s commands, and asking her why she would not desire to have knowledge as well as benefit from eating the juicy fruit, since she had been granted the power to choose for herself (Genesis 3:4-6). Satan framed his question to Eve with the false premise that what God had defined as death (Genesis 2:17) would actually lead to life (Genesis 3:4-5). Satan used the same basic approach in tempting Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11).

Biblical Text 

1 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’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 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.’” 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “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.”

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