As a pastor and professor of theology, I have a deep appreciation for what different biblical figures represent in the Christian faith. As the founders of the entire human race, Adam and Eve convey deep meaning and symbolism through their story. To fully understand their significance in the Bible and the Christian faith as a whole, I decided to teach their symbolism in our new discipleship class. This would give the new believers a strong foundation in their new journey. I began the class by asking, “What do Adam and Eve represent?”
The Bible suggests that Adam and Eve represent the beginning of sin among mankind (Romans 5:12). Their choice to eat the forbidden fruit was an act of disobedience against God, which led to God alienating himself spiritually from mankind.
Join me as I explore more symbolism for Adam and Eve, their importance in the Bible, and their different interpretations in modern theology.
Is the story of Adam and Eve symbolic?
Yes, many theologians and Bible scholars agree that while the story of Adam and Eve is factual, it carries symbolic and metaphorical meanings.
According to this story, God created Adam and Eve as the first man and woman. He put them in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and permitted them to eat from any tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:7–25). The serpent, being the craftiest of all the wild animals God created, deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, which she then shared with Adam. When God learned what they had done, he cursed them and banished them from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1–24).
Theologians perceive this story as a cautionary tale against disobeying divine law. The serpent is a symbol of sin and temptation; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents choice and free will; and the Garden of Eden signifies the intimate fellowship that Adam and Eve had with God. Others also perceive the fall of Adam and Eve as a symbolic representation of the nature of humans to sin and the need for redemption through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Adam and Eve form the foundation for many of the doctrines in the Bible.
Romans 5:12–21 suggests that although Adam brought sin to the world, which then brought death to all people, the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ at the cross frees us from the punishment of sin and grants us eternal life. In Mark 10:6, Jesus references Adam and Eve when talking about the holy union of marriage. Adam is mentioned as the founding father of the lineage of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:38). 1 Corinthians 11:8–12 also reiterates that the woman came from a man, as recorded in the story of Adam and Eve.
Therefore, theologians suggest that the story of Adam and Eve is necessary to fully understand biblical theology. Denying the existence of Adam and Eve would render many biblical doctrines incoherent.
There is a heated debate among evangelical scholars on whether Christians should interpret the story of Adam and Eve as fact or myth. Modern theologians like N.T. Wright and Alister McGrath argue that Adam and Eve were mythological figures with no basis in history. However, interpreting the story of Adam and Eve in such a manner would shake the foundation of every doctrine of the Christian faith.
That is why I interpret this story as a factual historical occurrence with deeper spiritual meaning. Adam and Eve were the first people to be created by God, and it was through their disobedience that sin entered into the world.
Suggesting that Adam and Eve were not real people would also suggest that most of the New Testament contains incorrect information (Romans 5:12; Mark 10:6; Luke 3:38; 1 Corinthians 11:8–12). If these biblical texts are wrong, then what else is the Bible wrong about?
To avoid raising such doubt in the word of God, Christians should interpret the story of Adam and Eve as a real event that took place in history and shaped the fate of all humanity.
The Bible implies that Adam and Eve were the first people to be created by God, and their existence carries deeper spiritual meanings for different religious beliefs.
In Christianity, Adam and Eve represent the beginning of the human race, and their fall from grace conveys the consequences of disobeying God’s commands. Also, Christians perceive the banishment of Adam and Eve from Eden as God’s spiritual separation from humanity because of sin. We can now have fellowship with God through his son, Jesus Christ.
Jews perceive Adam and Eve to collectively represent humanity’s nature to succumb to the temptations of the material world and our spiritual longing to reunite with God.
The story of Adam and Eve is a foundational doctrine that conveys God’s power and will in the lives of human beings. This story relates that God created mankind in his own image and likeness, and he permitted them to eat from any tree except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God punished them for their sin when they disobeyed him and banished them from Eden. Through this story, Christians learn of God’s indisputable and eternal power in giving life and taking it away.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.