Q&A: Did Adam and Eve have children before the Fall?

Did Adam and Eve have children before the Fall?

Question

I was taught that Cain was Adam and Eve’s first child. However, since God multiplied pain in childbearing (Gen. 3:16) then Eve must have had children before the fall. Right?

Answer

Thanks for your question. I'll offer several reasons why I believe Adam and Eve didn’t have any pre-Fall children.

First, the Bible teaches that Adam and Eve were the very first humans God made. All humanity came forth from Adam and Eve, and there was no race of people that existed prior to them. Adam and Eve were not selected from a greater number of people to be paragons for a story.

Luke states in Acts 17:26, "From one man [Adam] he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries." And it was to Adam and Eve that the blessing and command to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it" was given (Gen. 1:28). Adam and Eve were the first couple, so any children initially had to come forth from them—and only them.

Second, I believe the Fall happened rather quickly after creation. We know the Fall wasn’t immediate, as Adam and Eve were familiar with "the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (Gen. 3:8). How long would it take a perfect, sinless mind to recognize the sound of God its creator? It seems one time would be sufficient. Think of how they were able to name all the animals of his creation in less than a day (Gen. 2:19-20).

Satan fell soon after day seven (cf. Job 38:7) and before the fall of man (Luke 10:18; Rev. 12:3-4; cf. Isa. 14:13-14; Ezek. 28), and so he was already present "from the beginning" (John 8:44) trying to manipulate Adam and Eve to disobey God.

The first couple’s temptation by the serpent was a direct, face-to-face deceptive and convincing verbal argument. But there would be only one human being in all creation history that could resist this type of temptation—the second Adam, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:45, 47). And this last Adam's face-to-face encounter with Satan happened at the beginning of his ministry (Mark 1:12), immediately after his baptism (Mark 1:9-11).

I see a strong parallel with Jesus’ temptation and Adam’s temptation in the garden. Where the first Adam lost Paradise for all humanity (Rom. 5:12), Jesus, the second Adam, regained it for his people (Rom. 5:15). The second Adam’s (1 Cor. 1:45, 47) ministry was inaugurated in his baptism and then was immediately tempted. Likewise, I see that Adam in the garden of Eden was told to "be fruitful and multiple" but fell to temptation after day seven. Thus, I presuppose Adam and Eve’s temptation was rather quick after receiving God’s initial marching orders (i.e. Gen 1:28; 2:16-17).

Third, it wasn’t until after the Fall that "Woman" (Gen. 2:23) received her new name, Eve which means "mother of all living" (Gen. 3:20). So, by implication, Eve wasn’t a mother yet.

This new name was in part due to God’s curse upon the woman: "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children" (Gen. 3:16). Some have suggested that Genesis 3:16 means that Eve must have had a previous reference point (i.e., a painless child delivery) by which to compare the curse. However, this isn’t necessarily true. Many babies cry when receiving their first vaccinations even though they have had no previous reference point. Babies have many other "firsts" which by definition have no previous reference point. As well, mothers and fathers have many "firsts" when they have their first child.

Fourth, Adam and Eve were driven from the garden immediately after their sin(s). Genesis 3:22-24 states:

Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—" therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life."

Notice there's no mention of children driven from the garden. However, if there were any pre-Fall children, they must have been driven out as well. Why? Because such children, if they existed, would have still been under their covenant head, Adam. Paul addresses this in Romans 5:12: "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." Adam is regarded as the federal head of all humanity, and so in Adam’s original sin all mankind is counted as sinners in him.

In addition, these alleged children could have eaten of the "the tree of life" (Gen. 3:22) and so would have lived forever as sinners in Adam. And if they existed and propagated, where are they today? But let’s just suppose for a moment that they weren’t counted as sinners in Adam. Wouldn’t they then have continued as a perfect, sinless race? Where in this world is there no sin and no death? (Rom. 6:23). It's nonexistent because all have sinned and come short of God's glory! (Rom. 3:23).

Lastly, while Adam and Eve had other children (unnamed in Scripture), Genesis 4:1 does tell us, "Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, 'I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.' While the text doesn’t directly state that Cain was Adam and Eve’s first child, it does imply it. Cain's name means "gotten one." Eve was very familiar with both the curse (Gen. 3:16) and God’s promise of a redeemer (Gen. 3:15). [1] By her statement in Genesis 4:1, she was excited in thinking (mistakenly) that Cain might be that redeemer spoken of in Genesis 3:15. Moreover, since Cain murdered Abel, he definitely had a sin nature and therefore must have been born after the Fall. The overall context and the significance of Cain’s name (see above for Eve’s name change) would imply that the birth of Cain was the inauguration of a new phase in human history—the procreation of the human race had begun!

I hope my reasoning here for a preponderance of the evidence helps you to see clearly that the first couple had no pre-Fall children.

Footnote

[1] In addition to Eve’s statement, another echo of this seed theology is found in Abraham’s seed (Gen. 12:7; 13:15-16; 15:3, 13, 18; 17:7-10, 12, 19; 21:12; 22:17-18, etc.). Later we also find it when Mary discovers that she is pregnant and Gabriel announces, "He will be great" (Luke 1:32). She is picking up a wording already used with both Abraham and David (Gen. 12:2; 2 Sam. 7:9) and especially Genesis 3:15, as the seed (Jesus) crushed the head of the serpent! (Col. 2:15).

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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).