Quartz Hill School of Theology

Chapter Nine
Anthropology: Doctrine of Humanity

       Psalm 8:4-6 records:

What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than God
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet...

       The branch of theology devoted to the study of the human race is labeled "anthropology", though it has little, if anything to do with the scientific study of humanity which goes by the same term. One definition of this theological topic is, "the examination of the origin, nature, and destiny of the human race from the perspective of its relationship to God." Perhaps a better way of looking at it is to say that anthropology is the study of the eternal questions of life: "Who am I?", "Why am I here?", and "Where am I going?" These three questions will form the basic outline of our study of people.

1. Who Am I?

       We should look back to the beginning for the answer to the question of "who am I?" In Genesis 1:26-31 and 2:4-25 we learn that humans are created beings made in God's image. (What the image of God might be was discussed in detail in Chapter Five, Part Two.)
       The Bible is explicit in recounting the special creation of the human race. Two people were constructed, a man and a woman. The man was created first (Gen. 2:4-25, 1 Tim. 2:13), from the dirt of the ground, while the woman was created second, from a part of the man.

What Were The First Two People Like?

       The Bible doesn't tell us much about the first two human beings; practically anything we say about them is speculative. In his lectures on Genesis Martin Luther wrote that, in his opinion, Adam, in his original state, was superior to the animals, even in those points where they are strong.

       I am fully convinced that before Adam's sin his eyes were so sharp and clear that they surpassed those of the lynx and eagle. He was stronger than the lions and the bears, whose strength is very great; and he handled them the same way we handle puppies....If...we are looking for an outstanding philosopher, let us not overlook our first parents while they were still free from sin.

       The common assumption that the first human couple were white Anglo-Saxon Protestants is not only silly, but betrays an appalling narrowness and ethnocentrism. For all we know, they may have been black and ten feet tall. The student of the Bible should be very careful not to allow his cultural prejudices to get in the way of proper interpretation; speculation is fine, only so long as he recognizes it is speculation. The minute interpretation becomes gospel, he's gone too far.

When Where People Created?

       Genesis 1:31 records that people were created on "the sixth day" of creation. Beyond that, we can't be certain. Bishop Ussher, basing his reckoning on the genealogies of Genesis, postulated that the world began in 4004 BC - in October, to be precise. If there are no gaps in the genealogical record of Genesis, then Ussher's date is appropriate. But a gapless genealogy is highly unlikely.
       What was the purpose of these genealogies? First, obviously, they seek to link the past with the present, and second, they thereby prevent a mythological interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis.
       What is a myth? The term myth is used in the study of religion and culture for stories, the subjects of which, are accounts about gods or superhuman beings and extraordinary events or circumstances in a time that is altogether different from ordinary human experience. Myths do not attempt to prove that the unusual, transcendent, or divine events of which they speak are possible. Every myth presents itself as an authoritative account of facts, no matter how completely different they may be from the ordinary world. The original Greek term for myth denotes "word" in the sense of a final, decisive pronouncement. It differs from the Greek "logos", the "word" whose validity or truth can be argued or demonstrated (cf. 2 Peter 3:5 "...by God's word [logos] the heavens existed and the Earth was formed out of water and with water." The New Testament view of Genesis is that it is verifiable truth, not myth. Thus it is clear that scientific inquiry into the question of origins is reasonable and desirable). Because myths present extraordinary events without trying to justify them, people have sometimes assumed that myths are simply unprovable and false stories and thus have made the word "myth" a synonym for "fable". In the study of religion, however, the difference between myth and fable must be firmly kept in mind.
       Myths are accounts with an absolute authority that is implied rather than stated; they relate events and states of affairs surpassing the ordinary human world, yet basic to that world; the time in which the related events take place is altogether different from the ordinary historical time of human experience (and in most cases unimaginably long ago); the actors in the narrative are usually gods or other extraordinary beings (such as animals, plants, the very first people, or specific great men who changed the human condition). Many other forms of literature share one or more of the features of this definition of myth without becoming mythical. A modern example of myth would be the Star Wars trilogy; it is science fiction, certainly, but it is also myth: "In a galaxy far away, a long time ago..."
       How is it that Genesis is not a myth? In a myth, events and affairs differ from ordinary human experience, yet are basic to that world. Certainly it is obvious that the events of creation, the flood, or the tower of Babel differ from normal human experience. Certainly no human being witnessed creation. Life in the Garden of Eden, with a talking serpent, is not ordinary and would seem more myth than reality. But it is here that the genealogies come to the rescue. Myths describe events that happened either unimaginably long ago or far, far away. Such cannot be said of the creation accounts because of the genealogies: they link the events recorded in Genesis with the first audience of that narrative. Adam can be traced, step by step, to Noah, and Noah can be traced, step by step, to Abraham, and Abraham to Moses. These individuals, Adam and Noah, are not mysterious demigods, but real flesh and blood people - people to whom the readers of Genesis are intimately related.
       Moreover, Eden is not some place far removed in space, either, because it is located right in the Near East, with the familiar - not mysterious - rivers Tigris and Euphrates flowing through it: the first home of the race is placed in the middle of a world power. It could effectively be argued that not only is Genesis not mythological, it is inherently an anti-mythological corrective to the Ancient Near Eastern mythologies current in Moses' day. Moses borrowed from the mythological genre, in that he made use of elements found in the myths - such as "sun", "moon", "stars", "the deep", "the Earth" - but makes these "divinities" (as in Ancient Near Eastern mythology) inanimate and created, rather than creative. Thus, the genre is used in such a way that, not only is it impossible to interpret Genesis as a myth, but it becomes an outright diatribe against it.

Selective or Complete?

       When we compare the genealogies of Genesis with genealogical lists in other parts of the Bible and other texts from the Ancient Near East, can we decide whether these lists are complete or selective?


       Matthew's Gospel contains a selective genealogy. In verse 17 of chapter one, Matthew outlines that: "thus there were 14 generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to Christ." From this we know that his genealogical list artificially divides into three groups of fourteen names each. The selective nature of his genealogy is clear when we compare Matthew 1:8 and 1 Chronicles 3:10-12, or 1:12 and 1 Chronicles 3:18-19, or 1:13 and 1 Chronicles 3:19-20. So as to get the pattern described in verse 17, Matthew purposely left out several names.
       Since, in at least Matthew's genealogical record, there are demonstrable gaps it is not unreasonable, nor without precedence, to suppose that gaps could exist in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 10-11. What other arguments are there for rejecting Genesis 5 and 10-11 as a strict chronology?

Argument From Silence

       If the list of names and ages in Genesis 10-11 has been given to us for the purpose of constructing a pre-Abrahamic chronology, it is strange that Moses failed to give the total number of years from the Flood to Abraham. The objection raised against this point is that Moses expected the reader to do his or her own totaling, and therefore did not add unnecessary words.
       The answer to this objection is that Moses took nothing for granted in the reader's ability to add just two numbers in the life of each antediluvian patriarch (Gen. 5) in order to ascertain their total life-spans. If the time-span of the whole period was one of the reasons for giving the genealogy, how simple it would have been to give the total, as he did in Exodus 12:40 for the time of Israel's sojourn in Egypt.

Symmetrical Form

       The genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 are perfectly symmetrical. In each of the two genealogies, there are ten patriarchs listed, with the tenth patriarch having three important sons:

Genesis 5 Genesis 11
Adam Shem
Seth Arpachshad
Enosh Cainan
Kenan Shelah
Mahalalel Eber
Jared Peleg
Enoch Reu
Methuselah Serug
Lamech Nahor
Noah Terah
(Shem, Ham, Japheth) (Abram, Nahor, Haran)

Irrelevant Information

       Information is given concerning each patriarch which is irrelevant to a strict chronology. Genesis 5:6-8 states that "Seth lived a hundred five years and begat Enosh: and Seth lived after he begat Enosh eight hundred seven years and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Seth were 912 years: and he died." Now if the purpose of this genealogy was to provide us with a chronology, all we would need is that "Seth lived 105 years and begat Enosh". But the additional facts which are provided concerning each patriarch indicate that the purpose of these genealogies was to show us much more - for instance, how faithfully God guarded the Messianic line (Gen. 3:14; 9:26) even in ages of universal apostasy (Gen. 6:1-12; 11:1-9); or to impress upon us the vigor and grandeur of humanity in those old days of the world's prime; to demonstrate the fulfillment of the curse of Genesis 2:17 by the melancholy repetition of the phrase "and he died"; to show by the shorter life spans of post-diluvian patriarchs and by the omission of their total years of life the tightening grip of the curse upon the human body; and to make the record end in terms of the command of 9:1, which was so vitally important in view of the flood, by omitting the words "and he died" in the genealogy of Genesis 11. Since, therefore, so many pedagogical purposes are evident in these two genealogies that have nothing to do with the actual length of the overall period, it is unnecessary to press them into a rigid chronological system.

Contemporaries of Abraham?

       The post flood patriarchs are unlikely to have been contemporaries of Abraham, yet if the strict chronological interpretation of Genesis 11 is correct, all the post-diluvian patriarchs, including Noah, would still have been living when Abraham was fifty years old; three of those who were born before the tower of Babel would have actually outlived Abraham; and Eber, the father of Peleg, not only would have outlived Abraham, but would have lived for two years after Jacob arrived in Mesopotamia to work for Laban!
       On the face of it, this seems very odd. Stranger still, Joshua reported that Abraham's fathers, including Terah, were idolaters when they dwelt "of old time beyond the River" (Joshua 24:2, 14, 15). If the patriarchs Noah and Shem were still alive (as a strict chronological interpretation requires) then, as "Abraham's fathers", they had fallen into idolatry by then!

Ancient Near Eastern Chronology

       The most serious argument against a strict, gap-free chronology for Genesis 5 or 10-11 is that of Near Eastern chronology. John Pilkey writes:

       The genealogy of Genesis 11:10-26 appears to contain a chronology for the interval between the Flood, named in 11:10, and the birth of Abram, named in 11:26. Shem's son Arphaxad is said to have been born two years after the Flood, as though to initiate a chronological process ending with Abram. Each of Arphaxad's descendants is said to have been begotten when his father reached a specified age. If these ages are summed without hypothetical gaps, only 220 years intervened between the births of Arphaxad and Abram's father Terah. In 11:26, the time of Abram's birth is established more vaguely as some time after Terah reached seventy. Even if Abram's birth date is hypothetically delayed, the interval between it and the Flood could not have exceeded three or four centuries; and, from other chronological notices in the Old Testament, the Flood could not have occurred much earlier than 2500 B.C.
       The doctrine of a third millennium Flood has become an apologetic embarrassment because of strong scientific trends established in the nineteenth century when historians closed ranks with geologists in the perception that the Earth was much older than formerly believed. Although the age of the Earth is not strictly the same question as the date of the Flood, chronological revision upward became a mark of scientific sophistication. The third millennium Flood began to seem naive and implausible. An extrapolation of Manetho's Egyptian kinglist carried the accession of the first dynastic Pharaoh Menes back into the fourth millennium. Since 1900, the art of stratigraphy, development of refined chronological systems, and the technique of carbon dating have all given the impression that progress in historical science depends on an evolutionary worldview at odds with any tightly structured theologically coherent world chronology.
       If, for example, we pick a Flood date at 2500, we run the risk of being suddenly embarrassed by purely scientific evidence that world population, at that time, was not eight but eighty million; or that some Middle Eastern city or network of cities was continuously inhabited between 2900 and 2000.

Problems of Rejecting a Strict Chronology

       While other genealogies such as that in Matthew clearly have gaps, from a linguistic standpoint it is very difficult to postulate gaps in the genealogies of Genesis. It is certainly true that the word "to become the father of" can mean to "become the ancestor of". After all, Jesus is called the Son of David, even though it is obvious that many people intervened between them. And gaps can be demonstrated in the genealogies of Matthew and Luke and elsewhere in the Bible. But in all these cases one does not have explicit year references given: that is, only in these genealogies of Genesis are we told that so and so lived so many years and then begot so and so. Would the average reader have any reason to suspect gaps, or to suspect that the text was leaving so much unsaid?
       One might therefore be tempted to accept the genealogies at face value, at least until such time that gaps can be demonstrated in genealogies that are constructed the same way as those of Genesis 5 and 10-11.

Cultural Presuppositions

       However, it's likely that the average Semitic reader would not find the idea of an incomplete genealogy such a strange concept. A Semitic reader would notice the symmetry between Genesis five and Genesis eleven. Since incomplete genealogies are a common occurrence in the Bible and in other Near Eastern literatures, despite the seeming awkwardness of such understanding to a modern American, it is actually natural to accept the genealogies of Genesis as selective, with no thought of establishing an accurate chronology of the periods under discussion.
       To allow for gaps in the genealogies, the listings would be understood to take the following form (from Genesis 11):

       When Arphaxad had lived 35 years he became the ancestor of Shelah (and after he had become the ancestor of Shelah Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters).
       When Shelah had lived 30 years he became the ancestor of Eber (and after he had become the ancestor of Eber Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters).
       When Eber had lived 34 years he became the ancestor of Peleg (and after he became the ancestor of Peleg...)

Additional Biblical Evidence for Gaps

       1 Chronicles 16:14-17 (compare Psalm 105:7-10; Deut. 7:9) records:

He is Yahweh our God;
his judgments are in all the Earth.
He remembers his covenant forever,
the word he commanded,
for a thousand generations,
the covenant he made with Abraham,
the oath he swore to Isaac.
He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant:...

       These passages seem to suggest that far more than the twenty generations listed in Genesis 5 and 11 existed between the time of Adam and the time of Abraham. Though it is possible to read "thousand generations" in parallel with "forever" in vs. 15, thereby making "thousand generations" figurative hyperbole, one could just as easily argue that "thousand generations" defines "forever", moving from general to specific (as in the numerical Proverbs). However, if "thousand generations" is figurative or hyperbolic, it still suggests that far more than a mere twenty generations is in view.
       When the passages in Psalms and Chronicles are tied to the other evidence already discussed, it seems difficult to avoid the suggestion that the genealogies in Genesis are selective rather than complete.


1. The genealogies serve the purpose of linking the past to the present. They eliminate myth as a possible interpretation of the text of Genesis.
2. There are problems with how to understand the genealogies. The most natural interpretation at first glance would be to see them as complete. However, that violates generally accepted chronology, placing the flood at 2500 BC, in the middle of a period demonstrably continuously inhabited.
3. Perhaps a Semite, seeing the synonymous and parallel nature of the genealogies would understand them to be selective rather than complete.
4. 1 Chronicles 16:14-17 (with Psalm 105:7-10 and Deut. 7:9) seems to suggest more than twenty generations between Adam and Abraham.

Is a Human Being More Than the Sum of His Atoms?

       Genesis 2:7 records that "Man became a living soul." What is a soul? The answer is not as simple to reach as some might think. There is a disparity of concept between the Old and New Testament terms translated with the same English word. The basic difference lies in the fact that the Hebrew term for soul, nephesh, unlike the Greek term for soul psuche, is not a spiritual entity which exists apart from the body. The Hebrew nephesh is used generally to designate individual people or animals in their total essence (Gen. 1:20 and Ex. 1:5). This is made especially clear in Genesis 2:7 where the divine breath is blown into the body, thereby forming a single being, "a living nephesh, that is, a man."
       Yet, it should be noted that nephesh is used interchangeably with the Hebrew word for spirit, ruah. Ruah also means "wind" or "breath" or "emotion"; context alone determines the proper translation for the word: if ruah appears as a masculine noun, or if it appears alone, it has the sense "wind". If it is used as a feminine noun, it has the sense "breath" or "spirit" or "emotion".
       The Greek word for spirit is pneumos, and it is always neuter (from this Greek word we get such English words as "pneumatic"). Perhaps it's no wonder that the New Testament speaks of the difficulty in dividing between "soul" and "spirit".
       The opening chapters of Genesis indicate the origin of the immaterial part of Adam, just as it indicates the origin of the material part: both come directly from God. But where does the human soul originate now? Three theories have been proposed.

A. The Pre-existence Theory

       The pre-existence theory teaches that "all human souls were created at the beginning of all creation". Men were first angels and became men because of apostasy. They are now passing through a disciplinary process after which they shall be restored to their status as angels. Such is the belief of Hinduism, Theosophy, Plato, Justin Martyr and Origen. Elements of this idea can also be discerned in Mormonism.
       The pre-existence theory was condemned as a heresy by the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 540. The theory's most serious defect is its incompatibility with the doctrine of original sin. The Law of Noncontradiction therefore seems to eliminate it as a viable alternative.

B. The Creation Theory

       The creation theory teaches that "the soul and spirit of each individual are created at birth by the direct action of God." This view has been taught by Aristotle (384 BC), by Jerome (340 AD), by the Roman Catholic Church, and by most of the Reformers. Three scriptures are called on to support the theory:

       But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, "O God, God of the spirits of all mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?" (Numbers 16:22)

       This is the word of Yahweh concerning Israel. Yahweh, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the Earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares...(Zechariah 12:1)

       Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! (Hebrews 12:9)

       However, it seems to me that these three passages hardly allow for such an interpretation; a comparison with Psalm 119:73 and 139:13-16 seem to create especial difficulties for the creation theory's interpretation of Zech. 12:1 (the pivotal verse in the theory):

Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding to learn your commands.
(Psa 119:73)
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the Earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before a one of them came to be. (Psa 139:13-16)

       The difficulty for the creationist perspective comes from the simple realization, that, since our bodies are produced as the result of fertilization and normal fetal development, and, since these two verses in Psalms are therefore to be interpreted as expressions of God's mediate care for our individual development, why, in a very similar passage (Zech. 12:1) should we believe that in discussing the formation of our spirits, anything more than the same mediate care is in view? Furthermore, the theory faces basically the same problem seen in the previous one: what of original (or imputed) sin? If humans are born in sin, does it mean that God creates a spirit contaminated with sin, or does it mean that he creates it and then immediately damns it? Again, the Law of Noncontradiction seems to create insurmountable difficulties for this theory.

C. The Traducian Theory

       The Traducian theory teaches that "the immaterial part of man is imparted through procreation so that the individual receives his whole person from his parents." This theory was accepted by Tertullian (2nd and 3rd centuries AD), by Augustine (354 - 430 AD), by Lutherans, and by most modern theologians (Chafer, Bancroft, Delitzsch). The strength of the argument is its compatibility with original sin and its simplicity. It also is supported by such passages as Hebrews 7:9-10, or Psalm 51:5, which states explicitly that the parent produces a sinful child at the moment of conception.

The Immaterial Part of Human Beings

       The major question regarding the immaterial part of man is whether the immaterial is made of one or two parts; that is, is a human being a body with a soul and spirit, or is a human being a body with a spiritual part?
       Support for the dichotomist position (a body with a single, unified spiritual part) runs as follows: man is said to become a living soul (Gen. 2:7). The soul is the whole of man, not something he simply has. In 1 Peter 2:11 the whole immaterial part is called by one name: "soul". James speaks of a twofold composition for man, and he used "spirit" to speak of the whole immaterial part (James 2:26). Even Paul wrote of only two parts of man: body and spirit (1 Cor. 7:34).
       The trichotomist position answers these points very simply. 1 Thess. 5:23 and especially Hebrews 4:12 appear to make a definite distinction between soul and spirit, so that they are not entirely synonymous. Thus, the immaterial part of man is somehow something more than a single item.

Are All Human Beings Derived From a Single Ancestor?

       The Genesis account makes it absolutely clear that all human beings who have ever lived or will ever live are descended from the first two people, Adam and Eve (Adam means "mankind" and Eve means "life"). Eve receives her name because "she is the mother of all living." (Gen. 3:20) The unity of the race is also clear from secular history, language, psychology, and physiology. Even evolutionists who reject the biblical Eve assume the human species arose in a single location, from a single female. In fact, the members of the human race are so closely related to one another, that no one is more than twenty generations from being related to any other person on the face of the planet (much to the dismay of racists).
       Romans 5:12 assures us that sin affects the whole race. The unity of the race is indispensable to Biblical theology. It affects the doctrine of the depravity of man. If mankind is from two or more sources, then there could be no valid doctrine of depravity. Notice 1 Cor. 15:22 indicates that it is because of Adam that "all die."
       One thing to note from this: if intelligent life is found off Earth, we won't need to send missionaries to them; in fact, it would be a total waste of time, since they would not be descended from Adam, and therefore the death of Jesus on Earth would not be for them. God would have had to make separate arrangements for them. In the same way, we needn't worry about what happens to animals after they die: they are not in Adam, and therefore if they have souls, God has made separate arrangements for them.

So What is the Race's Moral Condition?

       God created human beings sinless according to Genesis 1:25 and 31. Theologians like to call this condition, before Adam sinned, "the state of innocence". This original holiness is often defined as a tendency of man's affections and will (though accompanied by the ability to choose evil) in the direction of the spiritual knowledge of God and of divine things generally. It is distinguished from the perfected holiness of the saints, as instinctive affection and child-like innocence differ from the holiness which has developed and been strengthened by enduring temptation. Adam was morally responsible. He was not endowed with absolute holiness, but certainly with probationary sinlessness which inclined him toward God. Adam was created a mature man; his understanding of sin would be much more objective than ours. According to Genesis 2:8-9 and 15 Adam and Eve were living in a perfect environment: all their needs were met. They were given purpose and meaning by God. Genesis 2:15 records that at least one of their tasks was to dress and keep the garden of Eden. It is unclear what this entailed, since the problem of thorns and thistles hadn't come up yet. In any case, it was not difficult work, since working so hard as to sweat was a part of the curse. Three other jobs had been given to this first couple as well, according to Gen. 1:28:

a) they were to reproduce. In fact, this was the first commandment; those who associate sex with sin are highly mistaken.
b) they were to subdue the Earth. This indicates that they were supposed to take the world from a wild state and bend it to human control and management. This is the first indication that the study of nature and its manipulation is ordained and encouraged by God.
c) Finally, they were told to rule over all the other creatures on the planet. The animals of the world were created for human use, not the other way around. Animal rights activists, though sincere and warm hearted, are terribly misguided. Humans are superior to animals, and the animals are for us to use however we see fit.

       Perfection was not to be the lot of the human race. Genesis 2:16-17 explains that God gave the race one prohibition. It should be noted, that proportionately there was more to do than not to do. The service of God is primarily positive (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Thes. 4:3 and 5:18). But one thing was forbidden: "do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". It should be emphasized that this was a prohibition against eating from the tree of knowledge about the concepts good and evil, not a prohibition against intellectual activity (see Chapter Four, Part 4).
       Sin did not begin in the slums, nor did it result from poverty. Sin began in paradise. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was so called because it became the test issue. The fruit did not have special damning power; any fruit would have done. It was simply that God designated that one. We are not told what the fruit was. It is simply stated that it was "good for food and pleasing to the eye" (Gen. 3:6). Be sure to separate the tree of life from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life was a tree with the power to prolong physical life. It had a unique power. Adam did not eat from it.
       Adam was tempted to sin by Eve, who had been tempted by the serpent. It is assumed that this serpent (Gen. 3:1) is Satan, though the Bible is never explicit in stating this (cf. Rev. 12:9 which may allude to it though). In any case, Adam was tempted, and this temptation is the foundation for much of the New Testament argument regarding salvation. Without the fall, there would be no need of redemption (Rom. 5:12-21, 1 Cor. 15:21-22). An interesting point to notice is that Adam was not deceived: he knew what he was doing. Therefore God does not damn the race because of Eve who was fooled, but because of Adam (1 Tim. 2:13- 14; 2 Cor. 11:3). The entire human race was present in Adam when Adam sinned (1 Cor. 15:22; cf. the similar idea in Hebrews 7:9- 10).
       What exactly was the test to which Adam was put? It was not covetousness. Adam had enough of everything. It was not sex. That was God's first commandment. So what was it? The only way someone could sin initially was to defy or repudiate the Word of God. Adam's sin violated God's will and demanded independence from God's plan. He thought ill of God, and did not accept what God had said: the first of his creation to resist God's word was Adam. When God said "let their be light" we don't see any argument, do we? Only people were given the power to shake their fists and say "no!"
       Adam's sin, like all sin, was an act of madness. He had been created in God's image, yet fell to Satan's offer to "become like God". He already was like God! Compare Satan's offer to Christ for all the kingdoms of the world; were they not to be his anyway? Unlike Adam, Jesus did not become irrational.
       So, Adam and Eve fell. They were the only persons ever to become sinners by sinning. It was a fundamental constitutional change. No one act makes a sinner today; instead, we are born sinners.
       The actual act of sin was a surrender to Satan. It has resulted in Satan's authority over the human race ever since (Matthew 4:8-9 and Eph. 2:1-2). The whole world belongs to the "evil one" (1 John 5:19). Therefore, the news is not good. The entire race is "totally depraved". This simply means that there is an entire absence of holiness in the human heart; it does not refer to the intensity of sin.
       The contrast is interesting. In the beginning God said everything was "very good" (Gen. 1). By the time of the flood, it was "only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). Please note the following verses regarding the present condition of individuals apart from Christ: Job 14:4, 15:14, Psa. 51:5, Ecc. 7:20, 29, Isa. 1:2-8, Mark 7:15, 20-23, Gal. 5:19-21, Rom. 3:9-18 and James 1:13-15. Human beings are lost in sin by their very nature (Eph. 2:3) and are under Satan's headship (John 8:44, 1 John 3:10, and 1 Cor. 2:14).

From the theology book by R.P. Nettelhorst, Does God Have a Long Nose?

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