Genesis 3:13
Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" "The serpent deceived me," she replied, "and I ate."
The Word of God in the Moral ChaosR.A. Redford Genesis 3:9-24
Lessons of the FallA. Maclaren, D. D.Genesis 3:13-21
ObservationsJ. White, M. A.Genesis 3:13-21
The First SinDean Vaughan.Genesis 3:13-21
The General Results of the FallJ. S. Exell, M. A.Genesis 3:13-21
The Moral and Penal Results of the FallF. W. Robertson, M. A.Genesis 3:13-21
We can picture the dread of this question. Have you considered its love - that it is really the first word of the gospel? Already the Shepherd goes forth to seek the lost sheep. The Bible shows us-

1. The original state of man; what God intended his lot to be.

2. The entry of sin, and fall from happiness.

3. The announcement and carrying out God's plan of restoration.

THE GOSPEL BEGINS not with the promise of a Savior, but WITH SHOWING MAN HIS NEED. Thus (John 4:15-18) our Savior's answer to "Give me this water" was to convince of sin: "Go, call thy husband." That first loving call has never ceased. Men are still straying, still must come to themselves (Luke 15:17). We hear it in the Baptist's teaching; in the preaching of St. Peter at Pentecost; and daily in his life-giving work the Holy Spirit's first step is to convince of sin. And not merely in conversion, but at every stage he repeats, "Where art thou?" To welcome God's gift we must feel our own need; and the inexhaustible treasures in Christ are discerned as we mark daily the defects of our service, and how far we are from the goal of our striving (Philippians 3:13, 14). Hence, even in a Christian congregation, it is needful to press "Where art thou?" to lead men nearer to Christ. We want to stir up easy-going disciples, to make Christians consider their calling, to rouse to higher life and work. Our Savior's call is, "Follow me." How are you doing this? You are pledged to be his soldiers; what reality is there in your fighting? How many are content merely to do as others do! What do ye for Christ? You have your Bible; is it studied, prayed over? What do ye to spread its truth? Ye think not how much harm is done by apathy, how much silent teaching of unbelief there is in the want of open confession of Christ. Many are zealous for their own views. Where is the self-denying mind of Christ, the spirit of love? Many count themselves spiritual, consider that they have turned to the Lord, and are certainly in his fold. Where is St. Paul's spirit of watchfulness? (1 Corinthians 9:26, 27). "Where art thou?" May the answer of each be, Not shut up in myself, not following the multitude, but "looking unto Jesus." - M.

What is this that thou hast done?

1. This curse was uttered in reference to Satan.

2. This address is different from that made to Adam and Eve.

3. There was to commence a severe enmity and conflict between Satan and the human race.

(1)This enmity has existed from the early ages of the world's history.

(2)This enmity is seeking the destruction of the higher interests of man.

(3)This enmity is inspired by the most diabolical passion.

(4)This enmity, while it will inflict injury, is subject to the ultimate conquest of man.


1. The sorrow of woman consequent upon the Fall.

2. The subjection of woman consequent upon the Fall.

3. The subjection of woman consequent upon the Fall gives no countenance to the degrading manner in which she is treated in heathen countries.


1. The anxious and painful toil of man consequent upon the Fall.

2. The comparative unproductiveness of the soil consequent upon the Fall.

3. The sad departure of man from the earth by death consequent upon the Fall.


1. The terrible influences of sin upon an individual life.

2. The influences of sin upon the great communities of the world.

3. The severe devastation of sin.

4. The love of God the great healing influence of the world's sorrow.

5. How benignantly God blends hope with penalty.

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

I. THE RECORD BEFORE US IS THE HISTORY OF THE FIRST SIN. It needed no revelation to tell us that sin is, that mankind is sinful. Without, within, around, and inside us, is the fact, the experience, the evidence, the presence of sin. It is sin which makes life troublous and gives death its sting. The revelation of the Fall tells of an entrance, of an inburst of evil into a world all good, into a being created upright — tells, therefore, of a nature capable of purity, of an enemy that may be expelled, and of a holiness possible because natural. From man's fall we infer a fall earlier yet and more mysterious. Once sin was not; and when it entered man's world it entered under an influence independent, not inherent.

II. THE FIRST SIN IS ALSO THE SPECIMEN SIN. It is in this sense, too, the original sin, that all other sins are copies of it. Unbelief first, then disobedience; then corruption, then self-excusing; then the curse and the expulsion. Turn the page, and you shall find a murder!

III. THE ORIGINAL SIN IS ALSO THE INFECTIOUS SIN. Not one man of all the progeny of Adam has drawn his first breath or his latest in an atmosphere pure and salubrious. Before, behind, around, and above there has been the heritage of weakness, the presence and pressure of an influence in large part evil. Fallen sons of a fallen forefather, God must send down His hand from above if we are to be rescued ever out of these deep, these turbid waters.

(Dean Vaughan.)


1. Separation from nature (ver. 7). Things naturally innocent and pure become tainted by sin. The worst misery a man can bring on himself by sin is that those things which to pure minds bring nothing but enjoyment are turned for him into fuel for evil lusts and passions, and light the flames of hell within his soul.

2. Separation from God (ver. 8). Let the sceptic enjoy his merriment. To us there is something most touching in the statement that to our first parents in the most hallowed hour of the whole day the voice of God seemed like the thundering of the Divine anger. A child might interpret that rightly to himself. When he has done wrong he is afraid, he dares not hear a sound; a common noise, in the trembling insecurity in which he lives, seems to him God's voice of thunder. To the apostles the earthquake at Philippi was a promise of release from prison; to the sinful jailer, a thing of judgment and wrath — "Sirs, what shall I do to be saved?"

3. Selfishness (vers. 12, 13). The culprits are occupied entirely with their own hearts; each denies the guilt which belongs to each; each throws the blame upon the other. The agriculturist distinguishes between two sorts of roots — those which go deep down into the ground without dividing, and those which divide off into endless fibrils and shoots. Selfishness is like the latter kind; it is the great root of sin from which others branch out — falsehood, cowardice, etc.


1. Those inflicted on the man.

(1)The ground was cursed for his sake (vers. 18, 19).


2. Those inflicted on the woman. In sorrow she was to bring forth children, and her desire was to be to her husband, and he was to rule over her. This penalty of suffering for others, which is the very triumph of the Cross, know we not its blessing? Know we not that in proportion as we suffer for one another we love that other; that in proportion as the mother suffers for her child, she is repaid by that love? Know we not that that subjection which man calls curtailment of liberty is in fact a granting of liberty, of that gospel liberty which is born of obedience to a rule which men venerate and love?

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

1. It is profoundly significant that this narrative traces the first sin to an external tempter. Evil does not spring spontaneously in the unfallen heart. Sin is not, as some would have it, a necessary step in man's development, nor does it spring from his own nature; it is an importation.

2. Whatever more may be taught by the serpent form of the tempter, we may safely regard it as a kind of parable of the nature of evil. The reptile is a symbol both of temptation and of sin. Its colours, sometimes brilliant, but always weird; its lithe, insinuating motions; its slimy track, its sudden spring; its sting so slender, and leaving so minute a puncture, but so deadly; its poison, which kills, not by hideous laceration, as in a lion's rending, but by passing the fatal drop into the very life blood — all these points have their parallels in the sinuous approaches, the horrid fascinations, the unnoticed wounds, and the fatal poison of sin. If we turn to the story, we find that it falls into three parts.

I. THE SUBTLE APPROACHES OF TEMPTATION. Notice that we have here, however, a picture of the way in which a pure nature was led away. The way taken with one which has already fallen may be much shorter. There is no need for elaborate and gradual approaches then, but it is often enough to show the bait, and the sinful heart dashes at it. Here more caution has to be used.

1. First comes an apparently innocent question, "Is it so that God has said, Ye shall not eat?" The tempter might as well have asked whether the sun shone at midday. To cloud the clear light of duty with the mists of doubt is the beginning of falling. A sin which springs with a rush and a roar is less dangerous than one which slides in scarcely noticed. When the restrictions of law begin to look harsh, and we begin to ask ourselves, "Is it really the case that we are debarred from all these things over the hedge there?" the wedge has been driven a good way in. Beware of tampering with the plain restrictions of recognized duty, and of thinking that doubt may be admissible as to them.

2. The next speech of the tempter dares more. Questioning gives place to assertion. There is a fiat lie, which the tempter knows to be a lie, to begin with. There is a truth in the statement that their eyes will be opened to know good and evil, though the knowledge will not be, as he would have Eve believe, a blessing, but a misery. So his very truth is more a lie than a truth. And there is a third lie, worse than all, in painting the perfect love of God, which delights most in making men like Himself, as grudging them a joy, and keeping it for Himself. In all these points we have here a picture of sin's approaches to the yielding will. Strange that tricks so old, and so often found out, should yet have power to deceive us to our ruin. But so it is, and thousands of young men and women today are listening to these old threadbare lies as if they were glorious new truths, fit to be the pole stars of life!

II. THE FATAL DEED. The overwhelming rush of appetite, which blinds to every consideration but present gratification of the senses, is wonderfully set forth in the brief narrative of the sin. The motives are put at full length. The tree was "good for food"; that is one sense satisfied. It was "pleasant to the eyes"; that is another. If we retain the translation of the Authorized and Revised Versions, it was "to be desired to make one wise"; that appealed to a more subtle wish. But the confluent of all these streams made such a current as swept the feeble will clean away; and blind, dazed, deafened by the rush of the stream, Eve was carried over the falls, as a man might be over Niagara. This is the terrible experience of everyone who has yielded to temptation. For a moment all consequences are forgotten, all obligations silenced, every restraint snapped like rotten ropes. No matter what God has said, no matter what mischief will come, no matter for conscience or reason; let them all go! The tyrannous craving which has got astride of the man urges him on blindly. All it cares for is its own satisfaction. What of remorse or misery may come after are nothing to it.


(1)The appointment of toil as the law of life;

(2)the sentence of physical death.

1. The change on the physical world which followed on man's sin is a distinct doctrine of both Old and New Testaments, and is closely connected with the prophecies of the future in both. Here it comes into view only as involving the necessity of a life of toilsome conflict with the sterile and weed-bearing soil. The simple life of the husbandman alone is contemplated here, but the law laid down is wide as the world.

2. The sentence of death is repeated in unambiguous terms. Physical death, and nothing else, is meant by the words. Observe the significant silence as to what is to become of the other part of man. The words distinctly refer to Genesis 2:7, but nothing is said now as to the living soul. The curse of death is markedly limited to the body. The very silence is a veiled hint of immortality.(1) Learn that physical death is the outcome of sin. No doubt animal life tends to death; but it does not follow that, if man had been sinless, the tendency would have been suffered to fulfil itself. However that may be, the whole of what we know as death, which has far more in it of pain and terror than the mere physical process, is plainly the result of sin.(2) Learn, too, the analogy between the death of the body and the condition of the spirit which is given up to sin. Death is a parable — a picture in the material world of what sin does to the soul. Separation from God is death. When He withdraws His hand from the body it dies; when the soul withdraws itself from Him it dies.

3. Finally, the temptation in the garden reminds us of the temptation in the wilderness. Christ had a sorer temptation than Adam. The one needed nothing; the other was hungered. The one had nothing of terror or pain hanging over him, which he would escape by yielding; the other had His choice between winning His kingdom by the cross, and getting rule by the easy path of taking evil for His good. The one fell, and, as the most godless scientists are now preaching, necessarily transmitted a depraved nature to his descendants. The other stood, conquered, and gives of His spirit to all who trust Him.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)


1. He is able to search into the deepest secrets, seeing all things are naked in His sight (Hebrews 4:13).

2. It concerns Him to do it, that the Judge of all the world may appear and be known to do right, to which purpose He must necessarily have a distinct knowledge, both of the offenders and of the quality and measure of their offences, that everyone's judgment may be proportioned in number, weight, and measure, according to their deeds.


1. To take heed of dishonouring God by committing of any sin.

2. If by human infirmity we fall into any sin by which the name of God may be blasphemed or the honour of it impaired, let us endeavour to take off the dishonour done to Him by laying all the shame upon ourselves.

III. A GOOD MAN'S HEART OUGHT TO BE DEEPLY AND TENDERLY AFFECTED WITH THE SENSE OF HIS OWN SIN. Such a manner of the affecting of the heart by the sense of sin —

1. Brings much honour to God.

2. Proclaims our own innocence (2 Corinthians 7:11).

3. Moves God to compassion towards us (Joel 2:17).

4. Furthers our reformation.

5. Makes us more watchful over our ways for time to come.


V. SIN AND THE ENTICEMENTS THEREUNTO ARE DANGEROUS DECEITS AND SO WILL PROVE TO BE AT THE LAST. Now this deceit of sin is two fold. First, in proposing evil under the name of good, calling light darkness and darkness light (Isaiah 5:20), or at least the shadows of good, instead of that which is really and truly good, like the passing of gilded brass for perfect gold. Secondly, in proposing unto us a reward in an evil way, which we shall never find (see Proverbs 1:13, 18), as they are justly accounted deceivers who promise men largely that which they never make good in performance.

(J. White, M. A.)

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