3:1 serpent. The “serpent” was not merely a talking snake, but was Satan himself (Revelation 12:9; 20:2) possessing and using the serpent’s body to deceive Eve. Satan had been originally “created” (see notes on Ezekiel 28:14,15) as the highest of all angels, the anointed cherub covering the very throne of God in heaven. He, along with all the angels, had been created to be “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Not content with a role inferior in two important respects to man (angels were not created in God’s image, nor could they reproduce after their kind, there being no female angels), Satan led a third of the angels (Revelation 12:4, 9) to rebel against God, seeking to become God himself. Evidently, he did not really believe that God was the omnipotent Creator, but rather that all had evolved from the primeval chaos (probably the explanation for the widespread ancient pagan belief that the world began in a state of watery chaos). God, therefore, “cast [him] to the ground” (Ezekiel 28:17), thus allowing Satan to tempt the very ones he had been created to serve.
3:1 subtil. The physical serpent was clever, and possibly originally able to stand upright, eye-to-eye with man (the Hebrew word is nachash, possibly meaning originally a shining, upright creature).
3:1 he said. There is a possibility that some of the animals may have originally been able to communicate on an elementary level with their human masters, an ability later removed by the Curse. More likely, God merely allowed Satan to use the serpent’s throat (as He later allowed Balaam’s ass to speak–Numbers 22:28) and Eve was, in her innocence, not yet aware of the strangeness of it.
3:1 hath God said. The root of all sin is doubting God’s Word. Satan used this approach successfully even with one who had never sinned before and who had no sin-nature inclining her to sin. Satan merely implanted a slight doubt concerning God’s veracity and His sovereign goodness. The approach so successful in this case has provided the pattern for his temptations ever since.
3:3 touch it. Eve, in her developing resentment against God, fell into Satan’s trap, both taking away from God’s Word and adding to it. God had said they could “freely eat of every tree” (Genesis 2:16); Eve quoted Him merely as saying they could eat of the trees. God had said they should not eat of the fruit of one tree; Eve added the statement that they should not even touch it. These are the very sins God warned about after His written Word was finally completed (Revelation 22:18,19). Doubting God’s Word, augmenting, then diluting, and finally rejecting God’s Word–this was Satan’s temptation and Eve’s sin, and this is the common sequence of apostasy even today.
3:4 the serpent. It is interesting that two clay seals found in the archaeological digs at Nineveh may reflect the story of the fall of Adam and Eve. One seems to show the man and woman being tempted by the serpent, the other their expulsion from the garden.
3:5 be as gods. Satan’s sin led him to desire to be as God, and this was the desire he placed in Eve’s mind (see notes on Isaiah 14:13,14). In fact, when one questions or changes the Word of God, he is, for all practical purposes, making himself to be “god.”
3:5 knowing good and evil. Satan’s deceptions are always most effective when they have some truth in them. Through eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve would indeed come to “know good and evil,” but not “as gods!”
3:6 make one wise. The threefold temptation, appealing to body (“good for food”), soul (“pleasant to the eyes”) and spirit (“make one wise”), was the same by which Satan appealed to Christ in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-12), and against which Christians are warned in I John 2:16 (“the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”).
3:6 he did eat. It was at this point that “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12). There could have been no death in the world before man brought sin into the world. Thus, the fossils in the earth’s crust cannot be a record of the evolution of life leading up to man but must be a record of death after man. In the evolutionary scenario, struggle and death in the animal kingdom eventually, after a billion years, brought man into the world. The truth is, however, that man brought death into his whole dominion by his sin.
3:7 naked. The sudden recognition of their nakedness indicates the realization of Adam and Eve that their descendants, as well as themselves, would suffer the effects of this original sin. The ability and instruction to be fruitful, given by God as a unique blessing, now would also convey the curse of sin and death. Adam was the federal head of the human race, and it was “through the offence of one many be dead” (Romans 5:15).
3:7 fig leaves. The hasty fabrication of fig leaf aprons might conceal their procreative organs from each other, but could hardly hide their sin from God. Neither will the “filthy rags” of self-made “righteousnesses” (Isaiah 64:6) cover sinful hearts today. The “garments of salvation” and the “robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10) can be provided only by God, just as God provided coats of skins for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21).