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Verses 4-25


Life in the Garden of Eden (2:4-25)

From this point on, the story concentrates on the people God made, rather than on other features of the created universe. Again the Bible states that the world was not always as it is now, but was prepared stage by stage till it was suitable for human habitation. God created Adam (meaning ‘man’ or ‘mankind’) not out of nothing, but out of materials he had previously created. Like the other animals, Adam had his physical origins in the common chemicals of the earth, but his life existed in a special relationship with God that no other animal could share (4-7).This status of existing in God’s image brought with it the responsibility to respond to God’s purposes. God therefore placed Adam in a chosen locality, a beautiful parkland, for his training and testing. This parkland was part of a well watered territory known as Eden, situated somewhere in the region of Mesopotamia (8-14).With a variety of foods available and a variety of tasks to be carried out to maintain the garden, Adam had plenty of opportunity to develop in mind and body. He could mature through making choices and learning new skills. God’s instructions showed that he wanted the people of his creation to enjoy the fulness of their unique life (to eat of the tree of life), but they had to do so in submission to him. Their creation in the image of God meant they could not be independent of God. They did not have the unlimited right to do as they pleased, to be the sole judge of right and wrong (to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) (15-17).

Whether we see the two trees as metaphorical or literal, their meaning is the same. The emphasis in the story is not that the trees were magical, but that they presented Adam with a choice of either submitting to God or trying to be independent of him. Growth in devotion to God involves self-denial (Hebrews 5:8). Maturity comes through choosing the good and refusing the evil (Hebrews 5:14), and each victory over temptation would have helped Adam grow from a state of childlike innocence into one of adult maturity. His fellowship with God would have deepened, and his understanding of God’s purposes increased.

Because human life alone existed in God’s image, none of the other creatures could share this life in any satisfying way. God therefore gave Adam one of his own kind, but of the opposite sex, to be his companion. The man and the woman were equal in status as being made in God’s image (cf. 1:27) and were harmoniously united, to the exclusion of all others (18-25). The woman was later given the name Eve, meaning ‘life’ or ‘living’, because she was the one through whom future human life would come (see 3:20).

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