From the Fall to the Flood

Discovery for Teachers

From the Fall to the Flood


Genesis 3:1 through 5:32

And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. (Genesis 3:22-23)


The first two chapters of Genesis describe the perfect world created by God and put under the stewardship of the man, who was created with a moral nature patterned after God’s own. This included the freedom to reason, and to choose between good and evil. The third chapter of Genesis continues the narrative in the Garden, describing the temptation of Eve by the serpent, and the disobedience of Adam and Eve in partaking of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. At that point, the nature of human beings shifted from good to evil — the terrible consequence of an event theologians refer to as the “fall of man.” The chapter continues with a description of the punishments meted out to the serpent, the woman, and the man, along with the impact on all of creation. Included in this chapter is the first Messianic prophecy of the Bible, offering an initial glimmer of hope in a reference to Jesus Christ, who would ultimately deliver the death-blow to Satan.

In chapter 4, we read of the births of Cain and Abel, the first two people born into this world. An account is given of their offerings to God, and Cain’s jealous murder of his brother when Abel’s offering was accepted while his was rejected. God ordained that as punishment, Cain would be cursed, banished to a life of homelessness, and driven away from his agricultural vocation. This chapter concludes with a record of Cain’s descendants.

Chapter 5 closes out the history of Adam, giving a list of his descendants. The genealogical record begins with the assertion that Adam’s son Seth was born “in his [Adam’s] own likeness” rather than “in the likeness of God” as Adam was created, thus indicating that successive generations were born with a fallen nature. Notable in this genealogical record is the brief commentary on Enoch, whose testimony of intimate fellowship with God brought about his translation. The chapter concludes with the introduction of Noah, whose account is developed in the following chapters.


  1. Who are the four main participants in the narrative of Genesis 3:1-24, and how would you describe the nature of each?

    The four main participants in this chapter are God, Adam, Eve, and Satan (in the form of a serpent). Class discussion of the nature of each of these four should bring out that God, the omnipotent Creator, is all-knowing, all-powerful, holy, just, and perfect. Adam and Eve were moral creatures with consciences, the ability to reason, and the power to make choices. Satan is deceptive, cunning, and the essence of evil.
  2. Genesis 3:1 declares that the serpent (Satan) was “more subtil [cunning, crafty] than any beast of the field.” What question did Satan use to put doubt in Eve’s mind concerning God’s words? What are some ways he attempts to stir up doubts in people’s minds today?

    Satan’s first question to Eve was, “Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Point out to your students that this was a misquote of God’s command; the original prohibition concerned only one tree. By suggesting it concerned “every tree of the garden,” Satan not only made the command look unnecessarily restrictive, but almost ridiculous.

    As your class considers the second question, they may suggest some of the following ways Satan attempts to stir up doubts today:

    •    He tries to make people doubt whether God would ever save them, or that they could stay saved.

    •    He says that Jesus was merely a good teacher, but not the divine Son of God.

    •    He insinuates that following Jesus is much too strict a way to live.

    •    He asserts that there are many other avenues to find religious satisfaction besides believing in Jesus Christ and His power to save.

    •    He suggests that it is impossible for man to live without sinning.

    Obviously, the list generated by your class could be extensive. The point of this exercise is to help your students recognize some of the common devices employed by Satan, and thus be equipped to resist him.

  3. Temptation often seems to follow the progression found in Genesis 3:1-6. Describe this progression and explain how we can use this knowledge to avoid or resist temptation.

    The progression developed by your students should depict the downward spiral of temptation. It may be summarized by noting that Eve’s downward spiral came about as she listened to Satan, dialoged with him, believed his lie, desired the fruit, and finally took and ate of the tree and gave to her husband as well. You may wish to bring out that Satan uses our natural, God-given desires and characteristics to tempt us. In Eve’s case, he preyed upon her ability to see and appreciate beauty, her natural desire for nourishment, and her interest in and capacity for acquiring knowledge. This illustrates that even holy individuals are subject to temptation.

    As you discuss how to avoid or resist temptation, principles such as the following should be covered.

    •    Don’t listen to Satan or enter into a discussion with him — if Eve had not been talking to him, he would not have had the opportunity to entice her to sin.

    •    Remember that Satan is a liar, and one strategy he uses is to plant the thought that it will somehow benefit us to disobey God.

    •    Remove yourself from the vicinity of temptation.

    •    Guard your thoughts, realizing that doubt led to sin in the Garden.

    •    Maintain a close relationship with God.

  4. In Genesis 3:9-13, how did Adam and Eve respond to God’s probing questions? What did their response reveal about how knowing both good and evil affected their inner nature?

    They responded to God’s questions by hiding, admitting to being afraid, and then by shifting the blame. Adam blamed Eve, and in some sense, even blamed God who had given him the woman. Eve, in turn, blamed the serpent who had beguiled her. Adam and Eve’s response clearly revealed that their pure natures had been corrupted, and they had become self-centered, self-protecting, and self-serving. Whereas before they had known only delight, peace, and fellowship with God, they now experienced three of mankind’s perennial problems: guilt, shame, and fear, and all these were evidenced in their response to God’s questions.

    The tendency to blame others is still evident in sinful man today, particularly when disobedience is pointed out rather than freely admitted. You may wish to follow up this question by asking your students to identify ways people deal with guilt in our day. Answers could include: rationalizing, excusing, refusing to acknowledge wrongdoing, considering oneself a victim, blaming upbringing or other external factors, or even contending that there are no moral absolutes (i.e. God’s laws) and thus right and wrong are totally subjective.

  5. The dire results of sin were immediate and severe. What were the moral and temporal consequences that befell Adam and Eve, and how did those consequences affect subsequent generations?

    The moral consequence for Adam and Eve was spiritual separation from God. After choosing to disobey Him, their human nature changed from a predisposition toward good to a predisposition toward evil. The temporal consequences to Adam and Eve were that they were banished from the Garden and the tree of life, they would have to toil for their food because the ground had been cursed, Eve would experience pain in childbirth, and they would be subject to physical deterioration ending in physical death — there is no record of physical death entering into God’s plan until the fall of man.

    Today, the temporal results of the fall are still evident, including pain in childbirth, the fact that cultivation is necessary for agricultural crops while weeds grow spontaneously, and inevitable physical death. Of far greater consequence, however, are the moral consequences: all humanity is born with the nature of sin, and as a result, we live in a world that is full of violence, crime, decay, and death. Our reason, emotions, and will are all flawed.

  6. Genesis 3:15 speaks prophetically of Jesus Christ (the seed of the woman). Why is this verse so important to us?

    This verse gives a first glimpse of God’s merciful plan of redemption for the human race. Although Jesus Christ’s heel would be bruised by Satan through the Crucifixion, Christ would bruise the head of Satan through His Resurrection. The Hebrew word translated bruise actually means “to grind, crush, and destroy.” Commentators note that a bruise on the heel will not result in death, but a crushing blow on the head will. Ultimately, the Son of God will deliver a death-blow to Satan.

    This would be a good time to emphasize the fact that God loved His creation so much that He promised redemption rather than destruction, even though the disobedience of the first man and woman plunged the entire human family into sin.

  7. In Genesis 4, we read about Cain and Abel, the first two individuals born on this earth. What was the difference between the offerings they brought to God? (Genesis 4:3-5) What can we surmise about Cain’s character, based on his subsequent words and actions, as described in verses 8-16?

    The difference between the two offerings was that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, while Abel brought an animal. God had respect unto Abel and his offering, but Cain’s offering was not accepted. Point out to your students that while no specific reason is given in Scripture for the distinction between the two, in some way Cain did not obey all he knew to do. God saw the heart motive behind the offerings. Have a volunteer from your class read verse 7, which clearly indicates that if Cain had done well, he would have been accepted.

    As you review Cain’s words and actions with your class, discussion should bring out that he was downcast at the rejection of his sacrifice. Other descriptive words might be depressed, sullen, and angry. He eventually rose up and violently slew his brother Abel, and then responded to God’s questions in an untruthful and arrogant manner. What tragic proof that the nature Cain inherited from his parents was inclined toward evil, rather than good.

  8. The final two verses of chapter 4 record the birth of Adam and Eve’s son Seth. In Genesis 5:3, we read that Seth was born “in his [Adam’s] own likeness.” How was this different from how Adam was created, and what does this indicate? Genesis 5:1

    Genesis 5:1 states that Adam was created in “the likeness of God.” This substantiates the fact that successive generations after Adam were born with a fallen, depraved nature, rather than a nature patterned after God’s holiness.
  9. Adam and Eve had many children. In the gene-alogical record of Adam’s descendants, given in chapter 5, the refrain “and then he died” closes out the history of each individual — except one, Enoch. How did Enoch’s story end, and why? Genesis 5:24

    Enoch’s life on earth ended when he was miraculously translated without physically dying. His testimony of intimate fellowship with God brought about a delivering act of the Almighty. The same Hebrew word laqach, meaning “taken,” is used in the description of Elijah’s translation (see 2 Kings 2:3-5).


As a result of man’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, all the descendants of Adam and Eve are born under the consequences that God ordained. Still, these sad chapters of Genesis include a bright note of hope in the person of the “seed of the woman,” the Redeemer who would come to deliver mankind from the bondage of sin.