Regarding the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

August 12, 2013

by Johnathan Pritchett

“Why did God put the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden,” asks just about everyone. The answer, of course, is love. God is love. (1 John 4:8). Love is not just one attribute among others such as wrath, justice, holiness, etc. Nor does God change hats, taking off the love hat to put on the wrath hat, thus switching from attribute to attribute. God is infinitely perfect in all His attributes and thus also displays them as such. Love stands behind and backs up everything else. This is the same reason God put the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Often forgotten is that there were two trees, not just the one.

Love stands behind the placement of both trees. Adam and Eve had a choice. To eat from every tree, including the Tree of Life, and live in harmonious union and relationship with God, one another, and creation. Or, they could be disobedient and eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

There are many common misunderstandings regarding the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Often people think that Adam and Eve lacked knowledge of any sort pertaining to both good and evil. This is a mistake, and reading Genesis 1 and other bits of Scripture help to clarify our thinking on these matters. God’s creation was good (Gen. 1:4), good (Gen. 1:10), good (Gen. 1:12), good (Gen. 1:18), good (Gen. 1:21), good (Gen. 1:25), and very good (Gen. 1:31). Adam and Eve had knowledge of God, and God is good (Luke 18:19), and had a realization that they lived in harmony with the good creation that reflected the glory and attributes of God (Romans 1:20). It is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, not the ‘Tree of Gaining an Understanding of Any Goodness Whatsoever.’ Nor is it the ‘Tree of Understanding the Difference Between Obedience and Disobedience.’ Nor is it even the ‘Tree of Knowledge (of Good and Evil).’ We tend to look at it like that, i.e., ‘The Tree of KNOWLEDGE…’

It is none of that. Adam and Eve had an understanding of obedience. They had knowledge of and an understanding of good. What they did not have was what the tree was, being the Tree of Knowledge of GOOD AND EVIL. That last bit of emphasis is the emphasis. It was acquiring knowledge of both. It is a kind of knowledge only God understands perfectly.

We all know the story. Eve was deceived by the serpent and ate from the Tree of Knowledge of GOOD AND EVIL. Adam ate as well, and their eyes were opened (Gen. 3:1-7). Opened to what? Knowledge of GOOD AND EVIL.  Not only did the serpent acknowledge that this was knowledge like God had (Gen. 3:5), but God concurs with this (Gen. 3:22). Eve wanted the wisdom and to be like God in this regard. It looked so good. It was after Adam ate that the pair’s eyes were open. After all, male and female is the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Satan’s deception, blending truth with lies (i.e. abusing knowledge of good and evil) worked well against the dust-man and his wife.

After being caught by God and the blame game is played (Gen. 3:8-13), God delivers justice. Why does God discipline and punish with curses? Love (Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6, Revelation 3:19). Indeed, God kicked the couple out of the garden not just as punishment, but also as an act of love.

Read Genesis 3:21-24 and see the love: “The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them. The Lord God said, ‘Since man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.’ So the Lord God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove man out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life” (HCSB).

See the love there? This makes perfect sense in light of the love found in what God told the serpent in Genesis 3:15. Read it: “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

It was out of love that Adam and Eve were driven away from the Tree of Life after their disobedience. Why? Because the reigning powers of sin and death that Satan uses as tools bent on destruction entered the world when Adam sinned (Rom. 5:12, 14, 21). God had to act in love when the cosmos fell under the curse He subjected it to (Rom. 8:20) as a consequence of human rebellion. What good is it for the dusty image-bearers to exist in that fallen state in unending perpetuity? None. It is a state in which they (and we) are totally broken in their (and thus our) relationship with God, each other, and the rest of creation. A state in which they (and we) are armed with the knowledge of good and evil that they (and we) are totally unqualified to have and use rightly. From Satan and his demons in their deceptive work to the entire fallen human race, it has been the selfish, self-centered blundering of that knowledge of both good and evil that has been what perpetuates the reign of death and sin and the corruption of God’s creation.

The key is to focus on the hints of God’s love in Genesis 3:15, which is the love we find in John 3:16. A love, which was in view, even prior to creation (Rev. 13:8).

Without the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, there would be no choice in love, and thus no real love to return to God. It was God’s choice to create after all. He did so in love. He also did so with the knowledge of human idolatry, rebellion, sin, and death to boot! Adam and Eve understood love, and understood love as a choice. They were not the cause of their own existence, but they found themselves to be created in a very good cosmos, in a garden of paradise, being in harmonious relationship with God. They knew God, and thus knew that God was love. So, for God to create was a choice since knowing God and His attributes also entail knowing that God is self-sufficient and self-satisfied. They knew He didn’t need to create at all. They knew He chose to do so because He wanted to do so. It is a choice He made in love for His own good pleasure and purpose.

We must also remember that without the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, we image bearers would have also just remained dust-people. But, for those who will repent of sin and believe in Christ, they will be conformed to his heavenly image (Romans 8:29, 1 Corinthians 15:49), and God’s future plan for those in Christ, planned even prior to “the beginning” (Genesis 1:1; Ephesians 1:3-14), is far greater than the dust we are now, and would have always been without the fall. Our wrong choices give way as means for God to receive glory and extend an even greater grace with a more glorious future. Christ was plan A, not merely a reactive solution to the fall.

We should praise God for both trees in the Garden and give Him all the glory. We should thank God for His wise eternal plan purposed in Christ before the foundation of the world. We should thank God for the choice He gave Adam and Eve and gives all of us. We should thank God for the love that stands behind the discipline and punishment of death that came from the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, so that the human race did not perpetually exist in such shame, curse, and brokenness. It is ultimately out of love that the wages of sin is death, just as it is out of love that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23). So finally, we must echo the words found in Romans 7:24-25: “Who will rescue me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

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Ed Chapman

You are forgetting quite a bit here. God asked Adam and Eve, WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE NAKED?

What does the law of Moses say about being naked? What does the law of Moses say about the High Priests not exposing their genitals? What does the law of Moses say about the word naked, and shame?

What about the word GUILT?

They had no knowledge of evil or good. They had no guilt of anything evil. They didn’t know the difference between good or evil. There was no concept of comparison.

And, if you read 1 Cor 15:36-50 properly, you will see that Adam was going to die a natural death anyway. He did not start out with a body that does not die. In order to have OBTAINED eternal life, he had to have eaten from the OTHER TREE, the tree of life. He didn’t. He ate of the tree that gave him guilt, and for that, he was forbidden to seek out the tree of life (angels blocked it) in a fallen state, and God told him that dust he would return, just as he was created to do in the first place. If he had never eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but ate of the tree of life, THEN he would have eternal life. But, he could have gotten eternal life in a fallen state, if he would have eaten from the tree of life, AND if the angels had not blocked that tree.

See also Deuteronomy 1:39. NO KNOWLEDGE

See also Romans 7:7-9. NO KNOWLEDGE

See also Romans 3. The law is the KNOWLEDGE of Sin (Evil).

No, they did not have knowledge of good and evil. They did not know what was good, because there was nothing to compare it to. Opposites are used to show what is good and what is not good. They didn’t know the difference.

You can’t say “This is good” without knowing what is bad.
You can’t say, “This is bad” without knowing what is good.

I know my comment won’t get posted, as I don’t conform to censorship, as per the “rules”, but I hope someone will read it, and maybe make another post.

Thanks

Ed Chapman

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      Ed Chapman

      Thank you.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Hi Ed, thanks for the reply.

    “You are forgetting quite a bit here. God asked Adam and Eve, WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE NAKED?

    What does the law of Moses say about being naked? What does the law of Moses say about the High Priests not exposing their genitals? What does the law of Moses say about the word naked, and shame?

    What about the word GUILT?”

    What about all that?

    “They had no knowledge of evil or good. They had no guilt of anything evil. They didn’t know the difference between good or evil. There was no concept of comparison.”

    No, they had no knowledge of good AND evil. It doesn’t follow that they had no knowledge of good.

    “And, if you read 1 Cor 15:36-50 properly, you will see that Adam was going to die a natural death anyway. He did not start out with a body that does not die. In order to have OBTAINED eternal life, he had to have eaten from the OTHER TREE, the tree of life. He didn’t. He ate of the tree that gave him guilt, and for that, he was forbidden to seek out the tree of life (angels blocked it) in a fallen state, and God told him that dust he would return, just as he was created to do in the first place. If he had never eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but ate of the tree of life, THEN he would have eternal life. But, he could have gotten eternal life in a fallen state, if he would have eaten from the tree of life, AND if the angels had not blocked that tree.”

    I actually agree that Adam was but a man of dust who needed the Tree of Life. I don’t know the relevance of this.

    “See also Deuteronomy 1:39. NO KNOWLEDGE

    See also Romans 7:7-9. NO KNOWLEDGE

    See also Romans 3. The law is the KNOWLEDGE of Sin (Evil).”

    I don’t see how any of these prooftexts contradict what I wrote. Sorry.

    “No, they did not have knowledge of good and evil. They did not know what was good, because there was nothing to compare it to. Opposites are used to show what is good and what is not good. They didn’t know the difference.

    You can’t say “This is good” without knowing what is bad.
    You can’t say, “This is bad” without knowing what is good.”

    I disagree with your contention here. As does Adam, since, when he saw Eve, he burst into song in Genesis 2:23. I bet he thought Eve was good without having any comparison to anything bad. There is nothing that suggests that prior to the fall, everything Adam and Eve understood was just an indiscernible “is”, and had no concept or knowledge of the good. The only thing they did not have was knowledge of good AND evil. If everything that “is” is good, there is no reason to think that good can not be understood without knowledge of bad as well. If evil is a privation of the good, then I see nothing that suggests that lacking knowledge of such privations are required in order to know good as anything other than good.

    The tree is of the knowledge of good and evil, not the tree of being capable of knowing good, or tree of only being capable of knowing good by virtue of understanding it contrasted with evil.

      Ed Chapman

      For the most part, I agree with everything you wrote above, with the exception that they had knowledge of good. Without comparison, there is nothing that can be surmised. Only God could have known that things were good, for he knew what was evil, and even in Genesis 2:23, Adam didn’t say “Eve is good”. He just said that she was bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.

      But please pay attention to this:

      Verse 25
      And they were both naked, the man, and his wife, and were not ashamed.

      But once they FOUND OUT that they were naked, they felt shame.

      Knowledge of your sin produces guilt. That is my “What about that”.

      That shame (guilt) was NOT due to disobeying God in eating from a forbidden tree, that shame was based on being naked, and so God asked them, “Who told you that you were naked?”

      They had no knowledge that they were naked. They had no idea that it was either good or evil to be naked.

      Afterwards, God covered their shame (nakedness), and, in spiritual terms, he covered their sin (guilt) for being naked.

      They had no knowledge that they were naked before…but now…yes, they had knowledge of their nakedness.

      Also, note that God sacrificed an animal to cover their shame. Jesus can be likened to that, in which God killed the last animal (The Lamb of God) on the cross…it pleased the father to bruise him. So, in essence, God killed the first and the last.

      Our disagreement is minor, as I said before, I agree with 99% of your post.

      Ed Chapman

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I understand your point on that, but it is kind of making my point. They knew they were naked once they had eaten. They did not know nakedness as an instance of being other than good. Now they did. Nakedness representing their shame and exposure of course, and not simply saying “being naked in front of your spouse is evil”.

        One of my main points is that there is nothing that suggests or even hits at Genesis 2:17 would have sounded to Adam as “…but of the tree of the knowledge of &jd$jytf@drjtrjd# and ds$gs&hd@hfd! you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

          Ed Chapman

          You had said:
          “They did not know nakedness as an instance of being other than good”

          I disagree. Why? Because they had no knowledge that they were naked to begin with, therefore they could not make a decision either way.

          Also, this is not about being naked in front of your spouse…it’s about being naked before God.

          Get spiritual, my friend. The Bible talks a lot about exposing our shame, being naked, and it isn’t discussing our genitals…spiritual exegesis…not carnal exegesis.

          The Carnal Story is given for a spiritual interpretation.

          So, I disagree with your premise that they knew that being naked was good.

          Ed

            Ed Chapman

            Sorry bout that one.

            Ed Chapman

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “You had said:
            “They did not know nakedness as an instance of being other than good”

            I disagree. Why? Because they had no knowledge that they were naked to begin with, therefore they could not make a decision either way.”

            Here’s my problem with this though. This assumes that Adam and Eve thought that the way they were created and lived without “coverings” of some sort was simply an “is”. There is nothing that suggests this is the case.

            “…it’s about being naked before God.”

            Exactly, and that has little or nothing to do with a realization that prior to the fall, no types of coverings dangled from their bodies. The covering was to symbolize the covering of their shame and guilt. It would be an Augustinian sort of mistake to read more into it.

            “Get spiritual, my friend. The Bible talks a lot about exposing our shame, being naked, and it isn’t discussing our genitals…spiritual exegesis…not carnal exegesis.

            The Carnal Story is given for a spiritual interpretation.”

            We are in agreement on the representation. That was my point to you above prior to this. What I said was that they realized their state of nakedness was something other than good and my reasoning was of what it symbolizes. Hence, I said “Nakedness representing their shame and exposure of course.”

            “So, I disagree with your premise that they knew that being naked was good.”

            Here is the only disagreement I think we have. Everything prior to the fall was good. There is no evidence to suggest that Adam and Eve had no understanding of that. All evidence to the contrary, otherwise, God’s speaking to Adam at all about the tree and its consequences was pointless. It wasn’t, and the text presupposes in the conversation between God and Adam, and the conversation after the fall, that Adam had understanding.

JimP

1 Timothy 2:14 clearly presents that Adam was not deceived. Something is going on in the temptation in the Garden that is too easily overlooked. If he was not deceived, then he ate the fruit with his eyes already completely opened.

What is going on? Consider so many of the Old Testament saints, Samson, Barak, David, Solomon and on and on. There was an absence of ability to simply stay true to what they knew was right. Consider Elijah. Here is a ‘man of God’ who was an instrument of stopping the rain for 3 years, had 450 prophets of Baal slain, out-ran a team of horses, prayed and it rained, then a little cannanite lady said to him, ‘that is it’, and he runs for his life and prays to die. Peter, ‘I’ll never deny You,’ The same nite, 3 different times ‘I never new the Man.’

What kind of ‘rebellion’ do you call those examples? Can Adam’s ‘rebellion’ be put into a similar category?

Johnathan Pritchett

“1 Timothy 2:14 clearly presents that Adam was not deceived. Something is going on in the temptation in the Garden that is too easily overlooked. If he was not deceived, then he ate the fruit with his eyes already completely opened.”

Indeed, Adam was not deceived. Though the text says “then” both of their eyes were opened after he ate. So I don’t agree that his eyes were already opened.

This runs into one of my points. I contend it is a misunderstanding of TOKOGE that Adam and Eve were completely ignorant of good and evil altogether and everything was simply an indiscernible “is” to them. Adam had an awareness of both, as well as the consequences of eating when he ate.

Rebelling against God is more than simply disobedience. It is also idolatry in the form of placing oneself in the position of God. Adam decided to disobey God. What he lacked was knowledge of “good and evil” as a unit.

God told him not to eat from the tree and told him precisely what the tree was in Genesis 2:17 as well as the consequences. Hence, to say, as Ed does above, that Adam (or, really, even Eve) has no concept of good, or no concept of evil, whatsoever, is simply erroneous precisely because God Himself introduced these concepts to Adam through instruction, which, though bungled by Eve in her conversation with the Serpent, also had some notion of the concepts. Even taking an atomistic looking at what Eve said to the Serpent, that the Serpent quoted “good and evil” suggests that either she was familiar with what he was talking about, per her conversation with Adam (or even perhaps God, as the text doesn’t say), or the concepts would still have been introduced by the serpent prior to her eating.

In any case, Adam’s eyes need not have been opened for him to willfully and openly rebel. Regardless of Adam’s motives, what is obvious is the point I made in my post, which is that knowledge of *good and evil* is not knowledge Adam and Eve (and us) are qualified to have. Something they only fully realized, sadly, after the fact.

Ed Chapman

You had said:
“Here’s my problem with this though. This assumes that Adam and Eve thought that the way they were created and lived without “coverings” of some sort was simply an “is”. There is nothing that suggests this is the case. ”

I still disagree. Their covering was that they were ignorant. They could do anything that they wanted to do, and none of it was sin, until they got knowledge that it was sin. Being naked before God is a sin, and yet, God put them in the Garden naked before him.

So, we have a conundrum.

We are taught by the Apostle Paul

I had not known sin but by the law, for I had not known lust except the commandment said, Thou Shalt Not Covet.

Before that, he never even thought about it. It never crossed his mind that it was evil to covet.

In chapter 5 verse 13, before the law, sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed where there is no law.

In chapter 4, because the law works wrath, where no law is, there is no transgression.

In 1 John 3:4, sin is defined as transgression of the law.

In Romans 3, the law is defined as the knowledge of sin.

Knowledge is the key word in all of this.

Was it good to covet? No. Is it good to be naked before God? No.

Ed Chapman

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Okay, we are in disagreement on this. The key is not knowledge, but knowledge of good and evil itself, per my original article.

    “I still disagree. Their covering was that they were ignorant. They could do anything that they wanted to do, and none of it was sin, until they got knowledge that it was sin. Being naked before God is a sin, and yet, God put them in the Garden naked before him.”

    So, you are taking “naked” to simply mean “lacking coverings” now? In any case, this is false. God doesn’t call good sin. He called everything he did good, including creating Adam and Eve naked and putting “…them in the Garden naked before him.” You seem to be going back and forth with yourself on this one more so than with me.

    “So, we have a conundrum.”

    I don’t think there is one. I think you have manufactured one here.

    I also disagree with the manner in which you use these prooftexts.

    Per Romans 3:20, God gave Adam a command in Genesis 2:17. Is Genesis not Torah? Is a command from God not law? Do you not see the conundrum you are making for yourself, and how it, in a round-about way, puts you in agreement with me?

    Which is exactly why several posts ago stated, “I don’t see how any of these prooftexts contradict what I wrote. Sorry.”

    Per Romans 5:13-14, it is worth mentioning that though sin is not accounted for in specifics in regard to an explicit commandment, it was nonetheless punished even without this accounting. (Romans 2:12a). Given that, and given that the punishment was for an act committed by Adam and Eve, they had to have some knowledge in respects to the information they had, since they weren’t punished for being naked, which they would have had to have been if Romans 2:12a is true. No knowledge of specific sins that aren’t accounted for as they relate to revelation on the matter does not relieve anyone of the punishment. So Adam and Eve were not sinning prior to the fall. They were punished for their disobedience. One can not assume that they committed lots of things later known as sin that went unpunished. Anyone who sins without the law perishes without it.

    Per 1 John 3:4, sin is breaking the law. By eating the fruit, Adam and Eve broke the law.

    Also, as you pointed out yourself from Romans 5:13, sin is sin regardless of whether or not a specific law has been given and known (hence, sin and death between Adam and Moses). Sin was also, as we saw above, punished, so to call Adam and Eve prior to the fall as committing a sin just doesn’t hold up. This is typically is the case when arguing from scattered prooftexts. .

    Per Romans 7, however one interprets it, (I personally take the rhetorical “I” in the prosopopoeia to be Israel), it doesn’t demonstrate that what Adam and Eve were, as they were, as they were created to be, as they were naked, in a state in which God Himself called very good, committing a sin in ignorance. This is a misuse of the text of Romans to try to prove that point.

    “They could do anything that they wanted to do, and none of it was sin, until they got knowledge that it was sin.”

    I disagree with this. Not for just the reasons above, but, among may other things, this would also mean:

    1. They had no clue it was wrong to disobey God until they actually did.

    2. That they could have sex with animals.

    3. Kill animals for food.

    4. Not work and watch over the garden.

    5. That they weren’t given positive instruction of what they were do to. (But they were. See Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 2:15-20)

    I know you don’t believe all that, or at least hopefully some of that, either. So I don’t understand why you would argue to the contrary that results in these sorts of absurdities.

    I think all this goes back to my original post and the misunderstandings of TOKOGE that part of the post was trying to clear up. We’ll just have to agree to disagree. I believe Adam knew good as such. The TOKOGE was the tree of knowledge of “good AND evil”, not the “Tree of Knowledge of What Good Is and What Evil Is”. It was a tree that Eve thought was good for wisdom, to be like God. God calls things “good”. God has knowledge of good AND evil, and everything He created was good, which is a reflection of His divine attribute of good. So, if we are to prooftext Romans, Rom. 1:20 tells us that creation itself revealed this knowledge to Adam and Eve that everything was good prior to the fall. Whatever else, “From the creation of the world…”to “…without excuse” at least tells us your case for a blissful ignorance in Adam and Eve prior to the fall has little going for it. Which is part of why I wrote the opening few paragraphs of this article. Rather, they wanted to be like God, and thought knowledge of good AND evil (as a unit) would give them the wisdom to call things as such for themselves, usurping God’s authority.

    Lust of the flesh, eyes, and pride of life. Whether we place ourselves as God with wanting the knowledge of good AND evil for wisdom to make those calls for ourselves, or in its expressions later of creating for ourselves gods, it all amounts to idolatry.

      Ed Chapman

      You had said:
      “lacking coverings”

      I think I simplify it much better than you do.

      No knowledge of good and evil means just that…they didn’t have knowledge of good, let alone evil.

      Deuteronomy 1:39
      39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

      Did you notice the word “between”.

      I must totally disagree with your insight. Sin is not imputed until you know what it is. Simple.

      Ed Chapman

      Ed Chapman

      Moreover, Romans 3 is not discussing Torah (Genesis – Deuteronomy). It is discussing The Law of Moses (Exodus 20-Deuteronomy).

      Ed Chapman

      Ed Chapman

      First, let me say, “Happy Anniversary!”

      Second, let me apologize for having made 3 posts rather than one.

      You had said:
      “So, you are taking “naked” to simply mean “lacking coverings” now? In any case, this is false. God doesn’t call good sin. He called everything he did good, including creating Adam and Eve naked and putting “…them in the Garden naked before him.” You seem to be going back and forth with yourself on this one more so than with me. ”

      I don’t believe it to be false. And, I don’t think that I am going back and forth with myself.

      It is a sin to be naked before God. That is a fact. That cannot be good no matter how much you want to say that it is.

      The Law of Moses dictates that it is a sin to be naked before God.

      Also fact is that both Adam and Eve had no clue that they were naked before God. They had no clue that they were sinning, breaking the law of God. They were in ignorance. That is a fact, and it cannot be disputed.

      If you are sinning, and you have no knowledge of it, you are not held to account. You must first have knowledge of it.

      I have studied this topic out until I am blue in the face. No knowledge, no transgression.

      1 John 3:4 is not discussing Torah. The Jews call Torah, the first five books. But the law of Moses is the topic of transgression. It is also known as “Moses”, and “The Law of God”, and “The Law”.

      The Law (Torah) is different than The Law (of Moses).

      The Law of Moses is the knowledge of good and evil.

      Romans 3:20
      20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

      No knowledge, no sin.

      Romans 4:15
      15 because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

      Ed Chapman
      Again, I apologize for many posts.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Thanks for the well wishes!

        “I must totally disagree with your insight. Sin is not imputed until you know what it is. Simple.”

        But sin is still punished. Romans 2:12a. Simple.

        Sin Adam and Eve were not punished for being naked, them being naked prior to the fall was not a sin.

        “No knowledge of good and evil means just that…they didn’t have knowledge of good, let alone evil.”

        Where does the Bible say this about Adam and Eve having no knowledge of what good is or what evil is? We do know that these concepts were introduced to them by God himself in Genesis 2:17. We also know that natural revelation reveals divine attributes and have since Creation. Goodness is an attribute of God. Hence, goodness is revealed in creation.

        “Deuteronomy 1:39
        39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

        Did you notice the word “between”. ”

        I did. Where does Scripture say:

        1. That Adam and Eve were little children.

        2. They were the sons who had no knowledge of good and evil pertaining to the rebellion that caused the people above 20 years to not enter the land, which is what Deut. 1:39 is in reference to?

        Besides, the principle remains, Adam and Eve had a known command which to follow, and as such, had knowledge to not break it or face consequences. God commands are in accordance with God’s law.

        “The Law of Moses dictates that it is a sin to be naked before God.”

        Naked in what sense as it relates to Genesis 1-3?

        “They had no clue that they were sinning, breaking the law of God. They were in ignorance. That is a fact, and it cannot be disputed.”

        And yet here we are in dispute.

        “If you are sinning, and you have no knowledge of it, you are not held to account. You must first have knowledge of it.”

        Romans 2:12 “All who sinned without the law perish without the law.”

        So, again, are you sure about not being held to account at all for sin?

        “I have studied this topic out until I am blue in the face. No knowledge, no transgression.”

        Right. The key being transgression. Where there is no law, there is no transgression. However, God gave a command in Genesis 2:17. That was a transgression, so says Paul in Romans 5:14, so there was indeed a kind of knowledge prior to the fall. Which goes back to my article that TOKOGE wasn’t going from complete ignorance to complete knowledge. TOKOGE is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil as a unit, not a tree of any of the variants I mentioned in other posts.

        “1 John 3:4 is not discussing Torah. The Jews call Torah, the first five books. But the law of Moses is the topic of transgression. It is also known as “Moses”, and “The Law of God”, and “The Law”.

        The Law (Torah) is different than The Law (of Moses).”

        Yes and no depending on the context. I never said what 1 John 3:4 was specifically discussing in this respect of Torah or Sinai specifically. It doesn’t even matter to my argument. Sin is breaking God’s law indeed, and it is punishable to boot. What this text never says though, which poses another problem for you, is that sin is ONLY breaking KNOWN laws. What it says is that everyone who commits sin ALSO breaks God’s law.

        “The Law of Moses is the knowledge of good and evil.”

        Nope. There is no evidence for this in Scripture. You see, there was this tree in the garden. It was called the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That thing that launched this whole discussion…

        Saying, “The Law of Moses IS the knowledge of good and evil” is error. For starters, good and evil are not simply in the sphere of morality. Also, Adam and Eve had their eyes opened after eating TOKOGE, so at a minimum, knowledge of good and evil, regardless of our respective definitions of it, can obviously be known prior to giving the Law of Moses, and without it as well (Romans 1 makes this clear enough, as does the rest of Scripture). Do you have any Biblical evidence that the Law of Moses was given to Adam and Eve? Okay then. ;)

        “Romans 3:20
        20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

        No knowledge, no sin.”

        Nope. We can’t say that either, because sin was in the world before the Law. You have already said as much as well (Remember Rom. 5:13-14). Such sins were punished (Rom. 2:12a, quite a bit in Genesis, etc.) There is no transgression without the law, that is what the text says. But the text says Adam transgressed (parabasis) in Romans 5:14 So, there was Law, and not the Law of Moses given later.

        Also, on Romans 3:20, we are not in disagreement of what the text says. We are in disagreement on what you infer from it. Through the law comes knowledge of sin. It never says that ONLY through the law-as-Sinai comes knowledge of sin. That isn’t even Paul’s point. Paul’s point here is to demonstrate why Jews can’t be justified by Law, which is why he says what he does in verse 3:19 about shutting up all mouths, meaning the Jews’ mouths as well as the Gentiles. This verse is certainly not given to explain what you want it to mean regarding there being no other avenues of knowledge about sin than having received the Mosaic Law given at Sinai and that being the knowledge of all good and evil. Again, the tree…

        “Romans 4:15
        15 because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. ”

        Transgression is a violation of a known law. Sin is missing the mark. Some argue occasionally they are interchangeable in Scripture, but a lot of the time, they are not. This verse is obviously a “not”, or Paul contradicts himself, rather than explaining Romans 4:15 in Romans 5:13-14. Hence, there is a difference between hamartano and parabasis. Which is exactly what Paul says about what Adam did, which is why he transgressed as well as sinned.

        Don’t conflate them in Romans, or you will run into the kind of trouble you have here. Adam transgressed, which means he broke God’s law, in the form of a specific command given to him in Genesis 2:17. Where there is law, there is transgression, and even on your reasoning, there is also knowledge. Adam sinned, which means he missed the mark. Though sins are not accounted for/imputed without the law, but are still punishable. Fortunately for this discussion, Adam did both.

        The law indeed worketh wrath. It does not follow that there is no wrath absent the law, or the law being known. Only Israel had the Law of Moses, and yet plenty of wrath was revealed in the OT against those who were not of the house of Israel.

        Conundrums indeed. Sadly, it is your incorrect stringing together of prooftexts for your argument that created them. The reason is that your understanding of TOKOGE and complete ignorance prior to the eating can not be sustained by Scripture.

          Ed Chapman

          No, sin is NOT imputed until you know what it is, and, as Romans 4 states, because the law works wrath, where no law is, there is no transgression. No transgression. Sin is the transgression of the law. Therefore, with no transgression, there is no wrath, no punishment, until you know what sin is.

          As I said before…it all boils down to one word…knowledge, which you totally disagree with.

          No knowledge, no sin, no wrath, no punishment, NO GUILT.

          Ed

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “No, sin is NOT imputed until you know what it is, and, as Romans 4 states, because the law works wrath, where no law is, there is no transgression. No transgression. Sin is the transgression of the law. Therefore, with no transgression, there is no wrath, no punishment, until you know what sin is.”

            You keep misusing texts and repeating assertions already refuted. Sin is breaking the law. Sin isn’t ONLY breaking the law. Whatever is not of faith is sin too. (Romans 14:23)

            Is your argument then that whatever is not of faith is law, and thus the law = sin? I hope not (Romans 7:7, 12)

            “As I said before…it all boils down to one word…knowledge, which you totally disagree with.”

            What kind of knowledge? Propositional knowledge? Experiential knowledge? Propositional knowledge of the Law of Moses? That last one was your argument earlier, and it just doesn’t hold up.

            1. Leveticus 4 discusses sins committed in ignorance. That they incur guilt prior to being informed (read the text), and that they are called sin demonstrates that you are wrong. The Law itself proves your statements regarding knowledge of the Law must be known to be sin is false. :)

            2. The wrath of God has been revealed from heaven. (Rom. 1:18) Paul is talking about wrath, and talking about Gentiles here in Romans 1:18-32. Verses 24-23 also specifically talk about punishment and just sentences of death (verses 27 and 32 specifically).

            3. All who sin without the law perish without the law. Period. Sin need not be accounted for with respect to a known commandment to be punishable. Cain was punished for murdering Abel (Genesis 4:10-13), and both the “Do not murder” of Exodus 20:13 and the law given to Noah regarding murder in Genesis 9:6 were after Cain. Yet, even without this knowledge, he was punished. Sin need not be imputed to be punished. This is clear in Scripture. As clear as anything.

            4. The flood, the plagues on Egypt, etc. Yes, wrath and judgment and punishment happens to people for their sin, even though it is not accounted for to a revealed commandment (Rom. 5:14).

            5. Romans 2:12a says that all who sin without the law perish without the law. This verse buffers any notion in regards to what people like you may misunderstand about Romans 4:15, as does the aforementioned verse in chapter 5.

            6. The Law worketh wrath. It doesn’t say ONLY the law worketh wrath (see Rom. 1:18 again). Where there is no law, there is no transgression, but it doesn’t follow that where there is no transgression there is no sin that is punishable. (Romans 2:12a, the OT narratives…)

            “No knowledge, no sin, no wrath, no punishment, NO GUILT.”

            Sorry, but no dice.

            On pains that God’s justice, holiness, and righteousness demands sin be punished with death (Romans 6:23), transgression or not (not the same thing), Adam and Eve could not have been committing any sin prior to disobeying God by eating from TOKOGE.

          Ed Chapman

          You had said:
          “Don’t conflate them in Romans, or you will run into the kind of trouble you have here. Adam transgressed, which means he broke God’s law, in the form of a specific command given to him in Genesis 2:17. Where there is law, there is transgression, and even on your reasoning, there is also knowledge.”

          We are talking two different things here.
          1. Adam ate of a tree that God told him not to.
          2. Adam was naked and didn’t realize it until he did number 1.

          Number one was a commandment from God. His penalty for breaking that commandment was spiritual death.

          But, and I must insist on “but”, that has nothing to do with the knowledge between good and evil.

          He was naked and didn’t realize it until he ate of that tree. It is a sin. Being naked before God is evil.

          Eating of a tree is not evil. It is just breaking a commandment. For example, if the Holy Spirit told me to go left, and I went right, going right is not evil.

          But being naked before God is evil…not good as you imply.

          You are right. Adam broke God’s LAW. The Law that he broke was being naked before God.

          Adam ALSO broke a commandment of God, which is NOT GOD’S LAW. God’s Law is the Law of Moses (Exodus 20-Deuteronomy).

          In all of the 613 laws of God (aka Law of Moses), you will not find a commandment that states, “Thou Shalt Not Eat of the Knowledge of the Tree of Good and Evil.”

          That is outside the law of Moses, directed at TWO PEOPLE only.

          Abraham did not have the law of Moses…he didn’t have knowledge of it.

          For all have sinned..yes…but what sin could ever be “Imputed” to Abraham without the Law? NONE.

          Yes, Romans Chapter 2:14-16, Romans 4, Romans 5:13, and Romans 7 and Deuteronomy 1:39 are all applicable, which I notice that you wish to quickly dismiss.

          Ed

            Johnathan Pritchett

            “We are talking two different things here.
            1. Adam ate of a tree that God told him not to.
            2. Adam was naked and didn’t realize it until he did number 1.

            Number one was a commandment from God. His penalty for breaking that commandment was spiritual death.”

            Yes. Number 1 was also law. God’s commandments are God’s law in some form or other. The Law of Moses is just one expression of it. The Spirit and not the letter is another expression of it. God had laws prior to giving the Law at Sinai (Genesis 26:5).

            “But, and I must insist on “but”, that has nothing to do with the knowledge between good and evil.”

            What kind of knowledge? Propositional knowledge? Experiential knowledge? Propositional knowledge of the Law of Moses? That was your earlier argument.

            Obviously, and you have yet to address this, that Adam had propositional knowledge of good. So did Eve.

            1. Genesis 2:17 is where God talks to Adam about the tree. The tree is about “good and evil”. Hence, propositional knowledge of good and evil from God to Adam. There is no evidence whatsoever that this was not understood by Adam.

            2. Eve thought TOKOGE was “good” for wisdom. Same word used for “good” in the name of the tree itself. She knew it was good (everything God creates is good per 1 Tim. 4:4). This ALSO refutes your earlier notion that some sort of “comparison” to evil or bad is a necessary precondition for one to know that something is good. So, checkmate on that bogus philosophical speculation.

            3. God is good (Luke 18:19). God is the paradigm of goodness. Goodness is a divine attribute of God. This is revealed in creation (Rom. 1:20). Adam and Eve knew God, knew of creation, hence, knew of good. God called creation Good repeatedly in Genesis 1. Everything God created is good. (1 Timothy 4:4)

            The notion that this is all of this is completely oblivious to Adam and Eve is both absurd and contrary to Scripture.

            “He was naked and didn’t realize it until he ate of that tree. It is a sin. Being naked before God is evil.”

            I have already refuted the notion that Adam and Eve did anything evil or sinful prior to eating TOKOGE. On your reasoning, it was evil prior to TOKOGE, and the nakedness would just be naked qua naked and not symbolism for something else as well. If Adam and Eve did any evil or sin prior to eating, they would have been punished. You have yet to address this.

            Even so, you can’t argue that being without covering, i.e. naked qua naked is itself evil (which is all Adam and Eve were before eating TOKOGE) and God just ignored it or overlooked it because they lacked all knowledge of anything and everything good and evil or whatever it is you are arguing, and then say when they realized they were naked, it was evil because of another symbolic “spiritual” reason behind the carnal and not simply naked qua naked. It is incoherent. This is how you flip-flopped earlier.

            But, it gets even worse for you. God created man and called it very good (Genesis 1:31) God created Adam (naked) and called it good. and placed him in the Garden (Genesis 2:8)….still naked, by the way. Decided that it was NOT good for man to be alone (alone while naked to boot…but we can ponder that some other time) and created Eve (naked). If their being naked was itself evil as you state above, then God is the author of evil.

            Oops…But since you can’t decide even for yourself how to consistently interpret their realization of nakedness, as either naked qua naked, or symbolic for something else, or both, I might cut you a little slack. But your poor argumentation doesn’t help in my doing that.

            “Eating of a tree is not evil. It is just breaking a commandment. For example, if the Holy Spirit told me to go left, and I went right, going right is not evil.”

            Disobeying God’s commandments are by definition evil, because all God’s commands and judgments and instructions, and statues are good! Good by definition. You are wondering into heresyland here my friend. In any case, the TOKOGE is not even evil, but eating from it is evil because it breaks God’s holy, just, and good law for Adam and Eve.

            “But being naked before God is evil…not good as you imply.”

            God says otherwise. He called it good when he created them naked. By the way, this contradicts what God Himself has said was good. Here is something for ya from Isaiah (5:20) “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

            You call evil what God Himself said was good.

            “You are right. Adam broke God’s LAW.”

            I am actually right about everything in our debate.

            “The Law that he broke was being naked before God.”

            Says who? You? Certainly not God on this instance. Genesis 3:17 “To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you,”

            I see nothing here about “because you are naked and finally figured it out that I hated that even though I made you that way, placed you in the Garden that way, and called it good because everything I created is good but really it is evil after all…” Blah, blah, blah.

            Sorry. You are beyond incomprehensible and way beyond being Biblical in your interpretations.

            Also, consider Romans 5:18 “…as through ONE sin brings condemnation for everyone…” (emphasis obviously added) and Romans 5:19 “…one man’s disobedience…”

            Which one sin/disobedience? According to you, being naked. According to God, sinning in disobedience by eating from TOKOGE.

            “In all of the 613 laws of God (aka Law of Moses), you will not find a commandment that states, ‘Thou Shalt Not Eat of the Knowledge of the Tree of Good and Evil.’”

            In all of the Bible, you will not find that the Law of Moses is the only Law of God either. It is an expression of it, but it is not the only form of it, nor the only contents of it. Much of it is case law for goodness sake…Your entire argument hangs on a premise that is not only NOT supported, but has been refuted.

            “That is outside the law of Moses, directed at TWO PEOPLE only.”

            So, if Adam had not fell and the world was Eden, hypothetically, it would still be law for more than two people. I don’t see the relevance of how this is not God’s Law. At the time, it was God’s law, since it was a commandment, and Adam was a transgressor, not simply just a sinner (Rom. 5:14) Again, your own reasoning demands that transgressions are violations of law. As such, this has to be law, even if it is not law of Moses.

            That is an argument you need to first have with yourself in order for you to sort out before bringing it out for debate.

            “Abraham did not have the law of Moses…he didn’t have knowledge of it.”

            So? He still had law (Genesis 26:5 – first use of Torah, by the way)

            “For all have sinned..yes…but what sin could ever be “Imputed” to Abraham without the Law? NONE.”

            What sin need be imputed to be punished? NONE (Rom. 2:12a)

            “Yes, Romans Chapter 2:14-16, Romans 4, Romans 5:13, and Romans 7 and Deuteronomy 1:39 are all applicable, which I notice that you wish to quickly dismiss.”

            Aside from not getting into Romans 2:14-16 at all, I certainly did not dismiss the other texts that were brought up by either one of us. In fact, I argued how they favor my argument and actually refute yours, or explain them in context to demonstrate their lack of relevance. If there is ANY dismissing going on here, it is YOU, my friend, by offering no real counters to my refutations of your arguments.

            You are all argumentum ad nauseam my friend. It becomes tiresome after a while, especially when you do not argue consistently, coherently, without self-contradiction and backpedaling, or even Biblically.

            Crying shame we can’t move past this discussion and talk about the real meaning and import of the open eyes and realization of nakedness and what that meant in context.

          Edward Chapman

          Sin is NOT biblically defined as “miss the mark”. Sin is Biblically defined as transgression of the law, and “the law” being discussed in 1 John 3:4 is the Law of Moses. Nothing more, nothing less.

          Also, in regards to judgment of sin…as in those nations outside of the Israelites…that is not personal punishment, but national punishment. I listened to a radio broadcast about this today on a local AM Christian Radio Station about God’s judgments.

          Ed

            Norm Miller

            From the Holman Bible Dictionary:

            The Old Testament has a rich vocabulary for sin.
            Chata means “to miss the mark,” as does the Greek hamartia . The word could be used to describe a person shooting a bow and arrow and missing the target with the arrow. When it is used to describe sin, it means that the person has missed the mark that God has established for the person’s life.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Again, sin is not ONLY defined in Scripture as a transgression of breaking the Law of Moses in which knowledge of the Law of Moses is required. Which is your argument.

            However, Joseph had zero knowledge of the Law of Moses, yet knew adultery was a sin and wicked thing (Genesis 39:6). That adultery is included in Exodus 20 doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a known sin before then. This is a known moral law that transcends the giving of the Law at Sinai. Adultery is a sin and transgression in the Law of Moses, but not only because of the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses, like the Law of Christ, simply includes this moral law of God in their respective expressions. That adultery ALSO breaks the Law of Moses doesn’t mean that it is a transgression and sin BECAUSE it specifically breaks the Law of Moses. Rather, it breaks God’s law regarding adultery that finds itself in various expressions of that law.

            Your arguments really have no real merit.

            Whatever is not of faith is also sin. ;) Adam clearly sinned, his sin and transgression was disobedience (Rom. 5:12-14, 18-19) not breaking the Law of Moses by virtue of simply being naked and finally realizing it, which, I have found to be a somewhat dubious claim of yours in my looking closely through all the references to the word naked, nakedness (which happens to have more than one definition, by the way), etc. in the 613 Mitzvot.

            There were national punishments and personal punishments for those outside Israel.

JimP

I could ‘see’ and ‘know’ stealing is wrong while a free citizen OR I could ‘see’ and ‘know’ stealing is wrong while behind bars. Both ‘see’ and ‘know’ the same thing just from different perspectives.

Adam ‘saw’ and ‘knew’ from both sides. It was the second side He wished he didn’t ‘see’ or ‘know.’

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I agree with that. If I misunderstood your meaning above, I apologize. The “eyes were opened” in Genesis 2:7 after they ate was a new way of knowing on my view, and not a “going from not knowing anything whatsoever to knowing everything that they had a complete, unaware ignorance of beforehand.”

    We are in agreement then?

JimP

Hello Johnathan,

I needed to be clearer but probably would not have without your comment. So it’s ‘iron sharpening iron.’ Yes, I think we agree on this point: Adam became a transgressor, He ‘saw’ things from a fugitive’s perspective (a fugitive from God). That could be ‘eyes being open.’

The topic is no trivial matter. That’s for sure.

Peace, JimP

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Amen.

    Of course, it might be less your lack of clarity, and more my comprehension. :)

    Today’s is my 13th anniversary, so my mind is a bit distracted. As much as I love discussing God’s word and focusing in on the conversation, I must admit that my wife, normally, but especially on days like this, can be a most welcome, and easy distraction. :)

    So, I think it was probably less your clarity and more my mind not focusing on what you meant.

    Same might be happening with my discussion with Ed. He and I may disagree less than how it appears in our conversation.

      JimP

      Best to you and thanks for the discussion. Maybe another in the future.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Indeed!

        Perhaps on another thread that actually discusses the significance of the eyes being opened and the realization of the nakedness.

volfan007

Johnathan,

Very interesting read. Thanks for making me think this morning.

David

    Johnathan Pritchett

    You are most welcome. It took a lot of thinking to initially write it, though it didn’t take much thinking to successfully rebut certain objections, because of all the aforementioned prior thinking. :)

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