Grateful Acknowledgments to Anastasios Kioulachoglou
Few scriptures are more misunderstood than the verses that refer to the fall of Adam and Eve. Unfortunately, the misunderstanding of these passages has caused a multitude of confusion and misdirection in many other areas of the scripture as well. Indeed, if we do not have a clear understanding of what happened in the first through third chapters of Genesis, then we will not have a good understanding of what Jesus Christ accomplished as Saviour. Why should we need a Saviour? What did Jesus Christ restore?
Many of us know that Jesus Christ redeemed us from what Adam did, but do we know what exactly happened when Adam did what he did? Also, many of us know that now, after we believe on Him, we receive the Holy Spirit. But what do we need the Holy Spirit for? And why was it not available to everyone before the day of Pentecost? To know the answer to these and to many other questions, a clear understanding of what is said in the first three chapters of Genesis is more than a requirement. That's why we consider what we are going to see in this study as especially significant, and we ask for your diligent attention.
Genesis 2:17, "…in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
The starting point for this study is the first book of the scripture, Genesis. There, after God made man, He imposed a restriction upon him, and He also made known the penalty if this restriction was violated.
In Genesis 2:16-17, the restriction that God imposed on Adam was that he should not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The penalty for violating this restriction was that: "in the day (note: that very same day) that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Two very significant things have to be noted in that penalty. The first is that if Adam ate from the tree, death would happen immediately, in that very day. The second is that this would happen surely. The phrase "thou shalt SURELY die" has exactly the purpose to put emphasis on the fact that death would happen 100%, surely, in that very same day.
Genesis 3:1-6 describes how the serpent deceived Eve. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Having done that, according to what God had said, they should have died at that very moment.
The problem here is that Genesis 5:5-6 says Adam continued to have life in his body for many years after he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil! On the other hand, God had said that if he ate from that tree he would surely die the same day. At first glance, there seems to be a contradiction about what finally happened in the day that Adam and Eve ate from that tree. Did they die as God said, or did they not die? Who will solve this "problem"? Man's ideas, theories, religion and tradition? No! Only One can give us the answers, and this is no other than the written Word of God. And if you desire His Word give you the answers, you have to allow His Word to speak for itself (scripture interprets scripture).
Now, since God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19), in the day that Adam and Eve ate from that tree, they did surely die. Actually, it was the serpent that said, "ye shall not surely die" when it deceived Eve (Genesis 3:4). Thus, if they didn't die that day, as God said, then that old serpent was right and God was wrong, which is simply impossible. However, that's exactly what many teach today when they say "actually, when God said that they would surely die, He meant that just the sperm of death would be planted, and the process of dying would begin." The Word of God does not need such a defense through vain immaginations of reinterpretation. Actually it does not need any defense at all, for it is truth, and the truth stands on its own. What the Word needs is to be rightly divided and then boldly proclaimed (2 Timothy 2:15).
Returning to our point: since God said that they would surely die that very day, they indeed died that day. However, since they continued to have life in their bodies (physical life), even after they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it is evident that they had another form of life, in addition to the their physical life, that was lost in the day that they ate thereof. And for this reason, it was death (absence of a form of life). So, we have to search the Scriptures to see how man was created and what were the parts of his being. Knowledge of what composed the life of the first man will also enable us to see what was lost in that day.
Genesis 3:19, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
Before we proceed, we should look at the above passage which explains why the physical body was never created to live for ever. Our Father tells us why the body will "return unto the ground" is because the body is dust, and the body will return to dust. Not because of sin. All physical things will eventually decay.
To start our study regarding the first man, let's go to Genesis 2:7. Which part of man did God form of the dust of the ground? His body. That's why the elements of all physical bodis can be found in the ground. So one part of the first man was the body. But let's continue:
Genesis 2:7 "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul" (soul = nephesh in Hebrew).
We see that our Father formed man's body of the dust of the ground. However, this body didn't have life. It was just formed, without life. At this point, the Word of God tells us that God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul." Therefore, what is soul? The soul is life to the body. The fact that people do not understand the simple truths of the Word of God described at that point has caused no end to the confusion.
If the nails are taken out of a wood crate, the crate ceases to exist, and only a stack of boards and a pile of nails remain. If the boards are nailed back together, the crate exists again. The same with man, if the breath of life is separated from man's body then there is no longer a living soul. When God combines the breath of life and body, man be-comes a living soul again.
At Genesis 2:7, the Word of God tells us that the breath of life from Him is what gives life to the body. Without the soul the body is dead. But where is the soul, the life of the body, the life of the flesh? The Word of God again is very accurate:
Leviticus 17:11-14 says, "For the life (nephesh in Hebrew) of the flesh is in the blood…No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. For it (the blood) is the life (nephesh) of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life (nephesh) thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life (nephesh) of all flesh is the blood thereof…"
As shown in the above passage, the, word "life" is a translation of the Hebrew word "nephesh", which is translated as ‘soul’ in Genesis 2:7, as well as in 471 out of the 753 other places where it occurs. Therefore, what is nephesh, or soul? According to Genesis 2:7, the soul is what gives life to the body. Where is the nephesh, or soul/life? According to Genesis 2:7, the breath of life is what gives life to the body. According to Leviticus 17:11-14, it is in the blood: "For the life (nephesh, soul) of the flesh is in the blood." How does this soul life pass from generation to generation? Through the blood. That's why Acts 17:26 tells us, "And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth." The "one blood" of this passage is the blood of Adam, which passes from generation to generation, and is actually the blood that all of us have.
Actually, soul is not something that only man has. Animals have a soul also, which, again, is in the blood. Although this is immediately understood from the above passage of Leviticus, where we are told that the life of all flesh is in the blood, let's go to other parts of Genesis to see it there as well:
Genesis 1:20-21, "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that has life (KJV margin - soul) and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature (nephesh, soul) that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good"
Genesis 1:24 "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature (nephesh, soul) after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so."
Genesis 1:29-30 "And God said "Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yield seed; to you it shall be for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to every thing that creeps upon the earth , wherein there is life (nephesh, KJV margin - a living soul), I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so."
Genesis 9:16 "And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature (nephesh, soul) of all flesh that is upon the earth."
And in the same fashion as to how God breathed into man's nostrils the "breath of life" and man became a living soul (Genesis.2:7), all animals have in their nostrils the "breath of life" from God as well (Genesis 1:30 [Septuagint]; 6:17; 7:15,21-22).
Therefore, not only man, but also the animals have "nephesh" (soul/life). This is not strange at all, if we understand that soul is what gives life to the body (Job 12:10). When you die, there is no more life, no more soul. The same happens with the animals. Soul is for them the same that it is for man (it gives life to the body). Though scripture clearly shows us what soul is, a problem is created when one goes to the scripture with the preconceived idea that soul is immortal. If soul was immortal, then the souls of the various animals would also be immortal, since they have "nephesh" as man has "nephesh". Soul is not something immortal. It just gives life to the body. When you stop having life in your body, you have no more soul. If a soul couldn’t die, then there would be no need to "save a soul from death" (James 5:20).
The words ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ occur in the scripture approximately 900 times, and not once are they referred to as being immortal or undying. The inspired writers of the scripture had at least 900 opportunities to inform us that the soul is immortal, but never did. Surely this is a significant fact that must not be overlooked. The fact that man is mortal is affirmed throughout the scripture. The word "immortality" is used only five times (the word "immortal" only once) and is never coupled with the words "soul" or "spirit." On the contrary, we have found that the scripture teaches clearly: first, that God alone possesses immortality (1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16); second, that man should be seekers for it (Romans 2:5-7); third, that immortality can be found in the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10); and forth, that if man "puts on" immortality, it will be conferred upon him at the last trump (1 Corinthians 15:51-54).
Every man in the world, believer or unbeliever, has body and soul. It can therefore be concluded that, since Adam died at 930 years of age after he ha partaken of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, his body or soul obviously did not die during that time. Thus, since something had to die for Adam that day, he originally had to of had at least one more part, which was lost, which died, when he ate. So, let's continue searching the Scripture to find the answer.
Genesis 1:26-27, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
According to Genesis 1:26-27, God created man "in His own image." Here is a very critical point, a key point, if we seek to understand not only what happened in the day that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but also the understanding of other passages of the scripture that are directly affected in interpretation by these verses. Reading the above passage, the question that has to be asked is, "What is the image of God?"
John 4:24 tells us "God is Spirit." God is not flesh but Spirit. That is His image. Therefore, when the Word of God tells us that He created man according to His image, it means that, in addition to body and soul, man received that which is "in accord with" the image and the likeness of God…spirit. In order to understand better the usage of the phrase "in His image" in the above critical passage, let's observe another place where this phrase occurs.
Genesis 5:1-3 tells us that Adam begat a son "in his own likeness, after his image." What does this mean? It means that as Adam was, so his son was (as Adam had hands so Seth had hands. As Adam had feet so Seth had feet, etc). As Adam was body and soul so Seth was body and soul. Similarly, when the Word says that God created man "in his image," "after the likeness of God," it simply means that Adam was given God's Spirit.
God is not flesh. He does not have physical feet, hands, a head, etc. He is spirit. So as God is spirit so Adam was given that spirit. One could ask, why did God make Adam apart from body and soul, spirit as well? Simply put: without spirit, Adam could not fellowship or walk with God, who is spirit. God, being spirit, does not fellowship with a body and soul of physical senses alone. They are separate and distinct. You see, you cannot receive the messages of the radio station unless you have a radio receiver. You may have a washing machine. But the fact that you have a washing machine does not make possible for you to receive the messages of the radio station. You necessarily need a radio receiver. Similarly, God is spirit, and to communicate with Him you must receive and walk in His spirit. Body and soul are enough for things of the five senses. But when it comes to the things of God, what you must receive is His spirit (John 1:12, 1 John 1). This truth is also revealed to us at:
I Corinthians 2:14: "But the natural (psuchikos in the Greek) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
In this passage, the word translated "natural" is the Greek adjective [psi] [upsilon] [chi] [iota] [kappa] [omicron]s (psuchikos), which comes from the noun [psi] [upsilon] [chi] [eta] (psuchi), which means soul. Therefore, psuchikos means "a soul man" (a man with a body and soul only). [The same word, psuchikos, is also translated as "natural" in I Corinthians 15:44, 46, and as "sensual" in James 3:15 and Jude 19].
According to I Corinthians 2:14, a man who is content with being body and soul only will not receive the things of the Spirit of God. As it was said above, to receive "the things of the Spirit of God," to communicate with God, to fellowship and walk with Him (walk in His ways), you need the appropriate receiver…spirit. That's why the passage says: "neither can he (the man of body and soul) know them, because they are spiritually discerned." It is impossible for the man of body and soul to know the things of God for the simple reason that such things have to do with the spirit, "they are spiritually discerned," and since he lacks spirit, he cannot know them.
Summarizing all the above, Adam had body, formed from the dust of the ground; soul that gives life to the body; and spirit to communicate with God. He was body, soul and spirit. Having established that, there is no question about what happened in the day that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had told them that in the day that they would eat, they would surely die. Bearing in mind that death means the absence of life, we can now see what died that day. Adam was body, soul and spirit and his body died many years after the day that he ate. And since what permits a body to live is soul, Adam had body and soul even after he ate from that tree. On the other hand, since God is always right in what He says, something had to die that day. Since Adam was body, soul and spirit before he ate, and since, as we saw, he continued to have body and soul after he ate, what was lost for him that day was the spirit that God gave him. He continued to have body and soul, but he didn't have spirit. The spirit departed from him and this was death for him, since spirit, a form of life that he had before he partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was no longer there; to wit:
James 2:26, "For as the body without the spirit is dead..."
Nowhere in the scripture can you find that the flesh was to live forever. We are told that in the very beginning, the natural man was taken from the ground (dust) "and unto dust shalt thou return" (Genesis 2:7; 3:19). In other words, flesh was to go back from which it came, and the breath of life (ruwach - spirit - see Genesis 6:17; 7:22) was to go back to the one that gave it. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit (ruwach - Breath of Life) shall return unto God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7). When God "taketh away their breath (ruwach), they (men) die, and return to their dust" (Psalm 104:29).
We see how clearly the scripture settles things when we leave it to interpret itself. It was actually this loss of the spirit that was restored in the day of Pentecost, where the holy spirit was made available, so that today, after believing on Jesus Christ, you are again body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Pentecost and the New Birth
The man after Adam's fall and before Pentecost
God is spirit and, therefore, to communicate with Him, and He with you, you must receive His spirit. Since spirit was not available after Adam's fall, during that period God put His spirit upon those that He wanted to communicate with. God put it upon them to give them revelation. This does not mean that spirit was available to everyone. From Genesis to Acts, there is no record of any instruction as to how to receive His spirit, because the Holy Spirit was not yet available to all, to wit:
John 7:39, "...for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified."
John 7:37-39 tells us that the holy spirit was not available at the time that Jesus Christ walked with His apostles, and, of course, it was not available before that time as well. During all this period (from Adam's fall to the day of Pentecost), if God wanted to communicate with someone, He put His spirit upon him. Let's see some examples from the Old Testament books starting from Numbers 11:16-17.
Moses wanted helpers for the governing of the people of Israel and God answered his request. As it is clear from this passage, Moses had spirit and he had it upon him. It is significant to point out something here: the fact that Moses had the spirit of God upon him was not because he decided that he desired to have spirit. Even if he desired that, there was no guarantee that he would have it, for the simple fact that spirit was not available. Actually, it was God that decided to put His spirit upon Moses and not the other way round. The same is true for those seventy men as well: the spirit of God was upon them, not because they decided to receive it but because God wanted to make possible communication with them.
In Judges 3:9-10, did Othniel have the spirit before this time? No. God put it upon him for the purpose of judging Israel and God wanted to communicate with him. In Judges 6:33-34, Did Gideon have spirit before? No. Was it that Gideon received the spirit from God or that God put the spirit upon Gideon? To receive something, it must be available, and spirit was not available after Adam's fall. So it was God who chose to put His spirit upon Gideon for the purpose of judging Israel and God wanted to communicate with him. Similar examples are many in the Old Testament books. Also, it can be seen that Saul, the first king of Israel, when he disobeyed God, the spirit of God that was upon him departed from him (1 Samuel 15:26, 16:14).
Having seen what the situation wasbefore the day of Pentecost, it is now time to see what happened after the day of Pentecost. To see this, let's start examining some things that Jesus Christ said in the gospels. As we read the Word, we must bear in mind that, at the time Jesus Christ was on earth, spirit was not available, as we have already seen from John 7:37-39. Therefore, whatever we see in the gospels about spirit, it refers prophetically to the time that spirit would become available.
Our Lord told us in John 3:1-6, no man can enter the kingdom of God if he isn't born again or born from above. This is probably enough to resolve many arguments and guesses as to how one can enter the kingdom of God. The answer is simple: You must be born from above. Now, what does "born from above" mean? The only birth that most of us know is the birth that was given to us by our parents. Nevertheless, here our Lord tells us that there is one more birth, which is the prerequisite to "see the kingdom of God." Questions may come immediately to our minds: "How does this birth occur?", "Who is the parent of this birth?", "What do I receive from this birth?" How will we answer these questions? By going to scripture and leaving it to interpret itself. So let's see what it says:
In John 3:4-5, Jesus Christ explains that for a man to enter the kingdom of God he must be born of water and of the spirit. To be born of water means the first birth. Without having been born once, how could you be born again? He tells us also that one must be born of the spirit. The word "spirit" has various usages in the scripture. However, most of the usages refer either to God who is spirit (John 4:24) or to the spirit that God gives. In the above passage "born of the Spirit" means born of God who is spirit. In the first birth, you were born "of water" (the baby is surrounded by water and therefore it is really "born of water."). In the second birth, you are born "of the spirit" (you are born of God). That in this second birth you are born of God is also clear in verse 6, where we also learn what is received by this birth:
John 3:6, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
In John 3:6, again the two births are put together in the same verse, but this time the purpose is to contrast them and to show that they are entirely different. From the first birth you received what your parents are (flesh). Similarly, from the second birth, you received what your parent, God, is (spirit). Having answered the question about the second birth and who is the parent of this birth, let's move one step ahead to examine how this second birth occurs.
In I John 5:1, the Word of God tells us that to be born of God, what is needed is to believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah [the Annointed One], the Saviour). Yes, so simple it is. Take a minute to think about it. If you are born of God, what are you then? A child of God! A son or a daughter of God! To be a child of someone requires birth. And Galatians 3:26, has us know that at the time that one has faith in Christ Jesus is when one is born of God. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? If yes, who is your Father? God is your Father.
Isaiah 49:15, "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?" If no, then where do all these children that live in the streets and in the State institutions come from? That is why God answered "yea, they may forget" (Isaiah 49:15). However, He does not stop there. He faithfully continues "yet will I not forget thee." Many mothers and/or fathers forget or mistreat the children that the Father has blessed them with. However, God will never forget them, or you. Do you know why? Because you, and they, are His and He loves all of His children.
In Hebrews 13:5, God promises that He will never leave you nor forsake you. Your friends may leave you, the government may abandon you, your boss may forsake you, but God will never leave you because you are His child. If you feel forgotten, neglected, etc., it is because you look upon the wrong things. Look to God your Father; develop a father-child relationship with Him, and you will see how much more light your life will have. You also may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me" (Hebrews 13:6).
Pentecost: the day of a new beginning
Returning now to our initial point, remember that spirit was lost in the day that Adam sinned. Also, remember that spirit was not available after that day. Nevertheless, in John 3:6, Jesus Christ, speaking prophetically to Nicodemus, said that one could again have spirit. The point in time where spirit was again made available was the day of Pentecost, almost 2,000 years ago. So let's read to see what happened that day.
Acts 2:1-4, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
What is described in Acts 2:1-4 is the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit that happened in the day of Pentecost. From that day onwards, the Holy Spirit is again available, and everyone that truly believes that Jesus is the Christ receives it.
Before and after Pentecost: comparisons
Spirit is again available. As we have already seen, before the day of Pentecost, spirit was not available. However, from the day of Pentecost, and because of what Jesus Christ accomplished, spirit is again available and you can again be body, soul and spirit. What a dramatic change! But it is not the only one.
1 Corinthians 3:16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
The spirit dwells in you: you are the temple of God. We saw previously that, before Pentecost, only a few people had the spirit of God placed upon them, to be able to communicate with God. On Pentecost, this situation also changed dramatically. From that day onwards, everyone that truly believes that Jesus is the Christ receives the Holy Spirit! Let's consider some other scriptures on this:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Many believe that the spirit of God dwells in the so and so church of the so and so denomination. How much have they misunderstood what the scripture says?! Here, the Word of God tells us that the spirit of God dwells in you. It also says that "You are the temple of God." So the temple of God is not the denominational church and its building at the corner of Main and Tranquility streets - but you, and do you know why? Because the spirit of God dwells in you.
Here is the great difference between having the spirit upon you (before the day of Pentecost) and having the spirit in you (from the day of Pentecost). Before the day of Pentecost, those few people that had the spirit of God upon them, were not the temple of God, simply because the spirit of God wasn't in them, but was upon them temporarily. That is why the temple of Solomon was constructed; it was a temporary dwelling place of God. But today, there is no more need for man-made temples, because today, God, who is Spirit, does not dwell in buildings, but in His children that truly love Him.
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