Q&A: Was there demonstrated grace before the Fall?

Was there demonstrated grace before the Fall?

Question

Was there demonstrated grace before the Fall?

Answer

We need to first define grace to more fully understand the answer. When Christians use the word "grace" they normally mean unmerited favor towards sinners. This is clearly the meaning of the term when used in the Bible. However, since everything before the Fall was “very good” (Gen. 1:31), this definition of grace doesn’t really fit very well before the Fall; there were no sinners nor any sin that would have demanded unmerited favor.

Only after Adam and Eve sinned did God exhibit grace. Genesis 3:21 says, “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” Adam and Eve were undeserving of God’s favor. They had sinned and then didn’t even own up to it. And yet God made for them garments signaling forgiveness and personally clothed the first couple. This symbolized Christ, the Lamb, dying for their sins (1 Pet. 1:19-21).

I believe a better term to use for the time before the Fall is “goodness.” James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” God shows his benevolence to all kinds of people — “it rains on the just and unjust the same” (Matt. 5:45). Adam and Eve received God’s goodness before the Fall (each other, the garden, the animals, a perfect creation, etc.), and everyone after the Fall has received some measure of God’s goodness.

We can see grace and goodness are related terms, but they have different meanings and applications. I think it is more proper to speak of God’s goodness before the Fall and both God’s grace and goodness after the Fall.

Note: Grace did exist before the Fall, but it wasn't exhibited /demonstrated until after the Fall.

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).