{10}   STUDY: Forbidden Fruit


        The Fall of man is sometimes traced to the creation of the forbidden fruit. Why did God prohibit man to gain knowledge? How did evil come into the world?


Why did God create the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?

[1] The tree is a test of obedience—The tree represents the absolute moral standard prescribed by God—morality based on divine command. To obey the command is to express the love for God.

[2] Love is always a choice—God wants (not needs) love from man. Love must necessarily involve a choice. A coerced love is not true love. God gave man a choice to choose.

[3] God’s plan is for a perfect world—God could have kept Satan away from Eden. But God planned an eventual paradise far better, a new creation with its total absence from even the threat of evil.

Why did God not allow man to know good and evil?

The answer depends on the meaning of “knowledge of good and evil” which may mean:

[1] acquired sexual awareness and the ability to procreate

o        Support: One of the results of eating the fruit was the recognition of their nakedness (Gen 3:7). Also, to “know” in the OT can refer to having sexual relationship (Gen 4:1).

o        Objection: But why would the ability to procreate lead to death? God commanded man to procreate (Gen 1:28). The awareness of nakedness was connected with disobedience that brought about guilt.

[2] increased advanced knowledge in everything

o        Support: Dt 1:39 shows how children are dependent upon their parents for the knowledge of “good and evil”. Eating the fruit was like a transition from adolescence to adulthood.

o        Objection: The Fall represented a drastic change, not just a transition which would eventually arrive.

[3] increased human capacity of moral discrimination

o        Support: Similar passages in Dt 1:39 and Isa 7:15-16 describe a child lacking in moral judgment. This may explain why they realize their nakedness.

o        Objection: The knowledge gained was something that was beyond the normal human experience of Adam and Eve. They should already have some power of moral discrimination before the Fall.

[4] acquired divine wisdom in terms of becoming morally autonomous (moral autonomy), and possessing self-determination

o        This is the best explanation. Adam and Eve wanted to be morally independent. The eating of the forbidden fruit was an outward act of disobedience but was also an expression of an inward attitude of wanting to be morally autonomous, that is, making own decision and own standard on right and wrong.

o        Their sin was pride, wanting to be like God and to have God’s authority (just as what Satan did).

When and how was the fall of the devil?

Most Biblical scholars have pointed to 2 passages in the OT that likely describe the fall of Satan: Isa 14:12-17 and Eze 28:12-19. Summary of the 2 passages:

[a] Nature of the devil. Before his fall, Satan belonged to the cherub class of angelic being.

[b] Position. Among the cherubim, Satan was a God-appointed leader.

[c] Habitation. Satan was in the very presence of God as he was twice called a guardian cherub.

[d] Perversion. Satan’s sin is arrogance, self-occupation, and violence. He wants to have the same glory, power, and position of God. He perverted other angels and corrupted man.

[e] Punishment. God cast him from his privileged position. His ultimate punishment will be the lake of fire for eternity. Today, Satan still retains some of his great dignity (Jude 1:9).

Was the serpent in Gen 3 Satan in disguise?

There are clear indications that the serpent is either: [1] Satan, or [2] Satan in disguise of a serpent, or [3] a serpent being controlled by Satan and served as Satan’s tool. The reasons are:

o        The serpent tempted Eve to disobey God. His communication reflected the mind of Satan.

o        The serpent was later cursed by God as if Satan was cursed (Gen 3:14-15).

o        Satan was the “ancient serpent” that leads the world astray (Rev 12:9; 20:2; also 2Co 11:3).

Why did Adam and Eve not die as God had warned them?

[1] 1000 years: In God’s eyes, one day equals to 1000 years (Ps 90:4, 2Pe 3:8). Adam lived only 930 years which is less than one day in God’s standard.

[2] God’s mercy: God gave them time to complete His plan of salvation—by giving birth to Seth.

[3] Certainty: The emphasis is on the certainty of death, not the timing of death.

[4] Separation from God: Death means the loss of life. The separation from God is the loss of life.

[5] Spiritual death: they experienced immediate spiritual death by: [a] losing the open, free, and trusting relationship with God, and [b] more importantly, losing their eternal life and would eventually experience physical death.

What is meant by the struggle between the “offsprings” of the woman and of the serpent”?

Most interpret “offspring of the serpent” to mean the devil Satan. The term “offspring of the woman” was used by many Church Fathers as the prophecy of the Messiah. This interpretation is called the “protevangelium” since it is used as the prototype for the gospel and its first announcement in the Bible. The crushing the head of the serpent refers to the salvation of Jesus which deals a death blow to Satan. The striking the heel points to the piercing of Christ’s feet in crucifixion.

What was the immediate impact of the Fall on man?

The disobedience of man leads to brokenness in 3 areas of human relationship.

[1] The relationship of man to God: In Eden: The couple enjoyed the presence of God without shame (Gen 2:25). Outside Eden: The couple hid from God and no longer enjoyed the presence of God.

[2] The relationship of man to the environment: In Eden: There was no threat and discord between man and nature. Outside Eden: The threatening environment forced man into the toilsome work.

[3] The relationships within the human family: In Eden: The couple recognized their distinctive identity and enjoyed a nourishing harmony. Outside Eden: The relationship turned into competition.


        The forbidden fruit represents human effort to be morally independent from God. When God’s commandments are ignored such as in the secular world today, all moral rules can only be relative, leading to moral relativism and subsequent moral corruption.

        Sin affects more than just the sinner. Adam’s Fall led to cursing of the ground. Widespread sin led to the Flood which killed all human beings (except 8 persons), birds, and animals, and destroyed the environment. Our sin can lead to downfall of our children or breaking up of our families.