The Protoevangelion:
God Seeking the Lost

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Question
What is the significance of what theologians call the protoevangelion in Genesis 3:15?
Answer
You know, the story of creation and fall is not only just foundational to our whole understanding of creation, humanity, the nature of the source of evil and so on and so forth, but it's also absolutely foundational the way we observe that God engages humanity even after the Fall. We see Adam and Eve trying to hide from God as one of their first responses, and yet our God is a God who goes seeking them. This is a theme we find throughout Scripture, of God pursuing men and women who would hide from him. Jesus said, "I came to seek and to save that which was lost." And yet, God does not only seek them out, he provides a way for them to be reconciled with himself.

Now, immediately in the Garden there is the killing of an animal to provide clothing for them, and so there's shedding of blood, there's a redemptive element in their clothing themselves with leaves would not be adequate. But more than that, God gives a promise which is somewhat veiled. We don't know the whole story yet, but he tips his hand and he says the woman is one day going to bear a child, the seed, and that child will be wounded, but this child will one day conquer Satan who has brought the source of evil into the Garden and has led to this catastrophe.

And so, God not only goes seeking after Adam and Eve to restore relationship, but he provides that. Now, we know of course the rest of that very long story how that plays out and the promise to Abraham and that blessing to all nations would one day come, and God's vision to call our Israel as a people who'd be bearers of that seed, and yet, for the purpose of blessing the nations and then ultimately with Jesus coming to fulfill that work of redemption, conquering Satan through his work on the cross, and then ultimately through Pentecost of bringing that message then to all nations so that all who would exercise faith might become children of Abraham and be included in this people of God.

Answer by Dr. Craig Ott

Dr. Craig Ott is Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.