Q&A: Adam had pre-Fall posterity?

Adam had pre-Fall posterity?

Question

I have been taught that when Adam and Eve sinned and brought about the fall of mankind that they were the only two people on the earth and this is a theological must. My question is how could that be? God commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. If there was no death before the fall, how could Eve not get pregnant every time she and Adam had sex? How long did they live before the Fall? This fact seems to point to a very short time. Another interesting thing to me is that one part of the curse God placed on mankind was that there would be pain in childbirth. This seems to indicate that Eve had given birth before and understood what that would mean. I would appreciate any light you could shed on this. Thanks.

Answer

Thanks for your question.

While God did give the command to be fruitful and multiply (cf. Gen. 1:28), there is nothing in Scripture that suggests Adam and Eve began this immediately. Keep in mind that Adam went from being entirely alone to being instantly married and there wasn’t any engagement and familiarity period. The command to be fruitful and multiply isn’t just about biblical sex between a man and a woman. The first couple had to get accustomed to one another first; they had to develop a relationship. Forgive my crudeness, but unlike that of a prostitute (1 Cor. 6:16), sex between a husband and wife should be full of special meaning; it’s not only physical but spiritual and relational as well. It’s about the process of developing as "one flesh" (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5). It’s about loving one another, which includes nourishing, cherishing, learning, respecting, boundaries, etc. As Paul states, "Husbands, love your wives … husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it …" (Eph. 5:25-33). Even in a "very good" world (Gen. 1:31), all this takes time.

The Song of Solomon teaches us that men and women in the bonds of marriage should delight in each other emotionally and physically. In this book there are expressions of longing at the beginning of the book and consummation at the end, with dream sequences in between (Song 3:1-5:2). There also seems to be a lot of exploration. All this tenderness, longing and love takes time.

Since maturing in a marriage relationship is biblical, I believe the unfallen Adam and Eve would have taken time to develop their relationship with each other first and then, in God’s providence, had a child. This took place in Genesis 4 which is after the Fall. In this process of time they learned what marriage and family were to be.

Speaking of families, being fruitful and multiplying is about raising a covenant family in the Lord as well. I can’t help but think that the first couple would have asked some questions, something like: What is sex? What is a child? What does it mean to bear children? How should I raise the Lord’s covenant child? How does all this affect our worship of God? How does a family worship? I would think that Adam and Eve would have pondered for some time what all this meant. After all, they didn’t have any other examples from which to draw! They were in a tremendous learning phase in their relationship.

We don’t know the length of time between God’s pronouncement of all being "very good" in Genesis 1:31 and the Fall, but most theologians believe it was a relatively short period of time. However, we do know that after his creation, Adam began to rule, name the animals, and be married — his ministry in the garden. We know Adam and Eve were familiar with the sound of God as he walked in the garden (cf. Gen. 3:8), so this implies that the first couple spent some time there in the garden before the Fall. Perhaps God walked in the garden every Sabbath, or maybe every day — the first tabernacle. (Please see "The Old/New Testament Church" below.) At this point, we should also remember that the second Adam, Jesus (1 Cor. 15:45, 47), at the beginning of his ministry was driven into the wilderness "immediately" after his baptism to be tempted of the Devil (Mark 1:9-12; cf. Matt. 3:16-4:1). Since there is such a strong correlation between the two Adams in Scripture (cf. Luke 3:38; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22; 45, 47), more than likely it was a relatively short period of time that the first couple remained in the garden.

Regarding the curse and multiplied pain in childbirth (Gen. 3:16; cf. John 16:21), pronouncing something about multiplied pain in childbirth doesn’t necessitate childbirth had taken place in some other form prior to the Fall. Adam and Eve hadn’t suffered spiritual or physical death before God said in Genesis 2:16, "in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Think about how a buyer of a very good car has the opportunity to understand the language of the covenant warranty before anything ever happens to the car. That is, he doesn’t have to experience the pain of a broken-down car first. In this sense, Genesis 2:16 would seem to defeat the aforesaid argument suggesting Eve gave birth prior to Genesis 4.

In addition, Paul’s entire argument through the Holy Spirit in Romans 5:12-21 is based on one covenant head in the garden (cf. Acts 17:26). Jesus is the second and last man Adam (1 Cor 15:45, 47), which means there was no other sinless creation between the first Adam in the garden and Jesus. Thus, saying that a child existed before the fall of Adam and Eve destroys Paul’s whole argument. It would make both Paul and the Holy Spirit liars! But God can’t lie (Num. 23:19; Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18), and neither did Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). As Proverbs 30:5 states, "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him" (cf. Psa. 12:6; 18:30, etc.). So, it’s impossible that a pre-Fall child was born.

The end of Genesis 3 mentions no such child, nor is it in the Bible at all. If such a child or children existed but didn’t fall along with their parents, then where are they? If they were sinless, wouldn’t they still be living? One might claim they were translated like Enoch and Elijah (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5), but Scripture mentions no such resurrection of any pre-Fall child. If there was a pre-Fall child who didn’t sin, why the need for a Redeemer at all? Why not build humanity upon this unfallen sinless child instead of Adam and Eve? (cf. Acts 17:26). But this was not the case. In eternity past (the time before creation), Jesus was ordained to die for those who are his — "knowing that you were ransomed … with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. …[who] was foreknown before the foundation of the world …" (1 Pet. 1:18-21; cf. Gen. 3:21; Matt. 25:34; Acts 2:23-24; 4:27-28; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4; Rev. 13:8). Jesus wouldn't have been destined to die at all if there was an unfallen, sinless child!

The evidence seems abundantly clear and we can deduce beyond any doubt that there weren’t any children prior to the Fall.

I hope this helps.

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).