Death of Adam's Parents

I’m new to this forum, so hopefully someone can direct me to where this topic might have been discussed previously.

As a new TE, one of the issues I’m wrestling with is that (assuming a literal Adam and Eve) Adam and Eve, by their sin, brought spiritual and thus also physical death on themselves and all of humanity. If that’s the case, then why did their parents die? Did their parents not have souls but they did? I know this is a huge topic and I know there are numerous perspectives on this question, but I’d appreciate hearing any thoughts or if you could point me to any good resources on this question. Thank you.

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But they didn’t bring physical death … except that they lost access to the Tree of Life. They were completely mortal even BEFORE “choosing poorly” by eating from the Tree of Good and Evil.


@gbrooks9, so do you understand Romans 5:12 as referring to spiritual death and not physical death as well? Speaking as a former YEC, that’s a real mind-bender and different perspective to think that man was created mortal…that physical death has no correlation to sin. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, George.


Let me ask you a simple question! Why was there a Tree of Life in Eden … if not to mitigate Adam’s mortality?

Can it be mere coincidence when the Bible specifically mentions the desire to keep Adam from eating of that tree?


Yes, I agree. That makes sense. Now please clarify what you think about my question regarding Romans 5:12…does sin have absolutely nothing to do with physical death? OR did sin originally “have something to do with physical death” in that sin originally barred Adam and Eve from the tree of life when they died spiritually, which otherwise would’ve mitigated their mortality?

And returning to my original post, as I’m thinking this newly and out loud…so would you say Adam and Eve’s parents died physically like all other life, and because they had no opportunity from God to eat of a Tree of Life which would’ve mitigated their morality? Adam and Eve’s parents had no souls, and were thus no different from any other animal, and they were not made in the image of God?

Thanks for helping me understand and work out these issues!

The only connection between SIN and DEATH is that because Adam sinned … he was expelled from his access of the Tree of Life. This expulsion applies to all of Humanity because of the MORAL KNOWLEDGE of his/her imperfection that is all humanity’s compulsory birthright.

Gen 3:22
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

You also write: “Adam and Eve’s parents had no souls, and were thus no different from any other animal, and they were not made in the image of God?”

There are many ways of reading the story of Eden. If you think Adam and Eve are symbols for the FIRST MORAL humans… then, yes, absolutely … from God’s perspective, Adam’s parents are not the FIRST moral agent(s). Adam and Eve were.

Or you can dismiss the entire story of Eden … there’s lots of ways at looking at the stories in the Bible.

HOW MUCH of Jonah’s “whale of a story” do you accept? Some of it? Does that mean Jonah might have only spent ONE day in the fish? Or perhaps the “fish” was a ship? Or perhaps the whole story is a parable about Death and the Underworld (he spent 3 days … like Jesus on the cross).


Take a look at Romans 7, which follows directly from the passage you refer to. In that chapter, Paul talks about death a lot. In fact he says that he himself died, and that death came to him. Was he talking about physical death? That would mean he was already dead, which of course, cannot be true. No, throughout Romans 7 (and, I believe throughout the whole epistle) Paul is clearly referring to a spiritual death. This makes it quite feasible that Romans 5 was also about spiritual death.

If you are able to understand that death has no correlation to sin according to Paul, then all of TE makes perfect sense. There WAS death before the fall of Adam, Adam and Eve were created mortal, and in fact could have easily been biologically normal H Sapiens, who received the spiritual life from God. This allows for the biological evolution of humanity, along with other animals, and makes Adam and Eve not the first human beings, but the first modern humans with souls, and a relationship with God. So this is a very important point, indeed.


One thing I have found good food for thought in is the different discussions among OT scholars about what “image bearing” is all about. We have tended to conflate bearing the image of God with having an immortal soul, but maybe that is not the best interpretation. Maybe it is more about a role assigned to humans in a covenant relationship than something inherent in them (intelligence, morality, capability of worship, etc.).

Here Peter Enns discusses the ANE view of image bearing: What Does “Image of God” Mean? - Article - BioLogos

Scot McKnight went with a similar interpretation of image bearing in The King Jesus Gospel.

John Walton addresses some of these questions in this interview in CT about his book The Lost World of Adam and Eve



I apologize that my two current threads are starting to overlap. What do you think about 1 Corinthians 15:56 “the sting of death is sin”? It seems pretty clear that the context is talking about physical death.

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Yes, that entire chapter is about physical death, and especially resurrection of the dead. That follows from his discussion of the resurrection of Christ. But this has nothing to do with Genesis, or that death entered the world through sin. The text reads the sting of death is sin, not the sting of sin is death. I dont think this changes the interpretation of Romans 5 as meaning spiritual death.

I always understood that verse to mean that sin potentially separates us from God eternally. If physical death were merely a passing from one realm of life to another realm of life (as Paul sees death in Christ; to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord 2 Cor 5:8) then it has no sting.

Interestingly, the NLT reads “For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.” Maybe that translation team thought this verse to was referring to spiritual death too in some sense.

What I appreciate about Paul is that he uses every psychological trick in the book to carry his point.

But this is psyche-logic … not real logic.

It is rhetoric… not systematic theology.

Paul could be saying ANYTHING … and I find he only gets 80% there … But that’s a lot further than his rivals get.


(also for @Learner, @Sy_Garte)

For an extra-fascinating (and for me, anyway, personally rewarding) reflection on this sting of sin / death bit, you might be interested to check out Richard Beck’s book The Slavery of Death. (Link goes to Amazon where you can see “big idea,” etc.)

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I look at the fall as a poetic description of puberty. Sin is the rejection of authority of God over your self as it separated you from God. Before that separation men were part of God as the common self which is all transcending and eternal this not mortal. They could not die as to the loss if the physical body is an immaterial event to a spiritual existence you return to. Thus the realisation of the material self, e.g. the execution of the concept is what makes you mortal as the material existence is under the constraint of time. The more self aware yo are the more you suffer death. The next higher self is less likely to suffer death as the family, tribe or nation who sees you as part of their self will mourn the death of an individual member but live on with the forthcoming generations, so death is a problem of realization of the individual self. The point that the tree of the realisation of the self also allows you to understand the concept of good and evil is that you learn to judge actions with regards to the benefit / detriment to the self. The art of growing up is then to let go of your self again until in the submission to God you can again become part of the eternal self.
The tree is a temptation God asking them not to eat from that tree like you telling your son not to touch the oven with the cake inside as you will burn yourself. The question is why the temptation was put there? God would have known what Adam and Eve would do so the question is why did he allow it to happen. Was it because he is cruel or did he perhaps know that without being mortal we could never appreciate life? Was the separation necessary? After all you can only long to be together in you are not together. The emotional energy derived from separation of those who love each other exceeds any physical energy we can imagine. Is it perhaps the same reaction as we see in the nuclear reactor that the separation of men from God has released an energy that helps to sustain our reality.
I do not know if you have children of your own yet, but to allow your children to come back you have to let them go, to become their own learn to take responsibility. If you love your children - do you want to micromanipulate them all the time and have them like your robots or do you want them to reflect yourself - actually to become even better than you?

As I said once on a funeral:
to live forever is the art to learn to live in every heart.

Jesus has achieved that in the suffering he endured on the cross to allow us to to take him into our heart and you will recognise him suddenly living in many other peoples hearts as well. Life is after all the ability to control the movement of matter and energy at will, so whatever makes you move is alive in you. If you do God’s will or do things in the name of Jesus he is alive in you. Death is only a problem to you if you identify your self only with your material body, as that is only a temporary place for you. Imagine your life on earth to be your time in a womb and your death to be the birth into the real reality, to be born into a life free of the constraint of this material world.


The Bible never actually states the initial creation was perfect or Adam was ever immortal. The Bible never mourns the loss of perfection or immortality. There are plenty of places the ancient writers could have inserted such a belief but they never did. That begs the question of the origin of that dogmatic belief. The “best” supporting scriptures come from Paul whose culture was steeped in Greek ideology. However, his beliefs were based on passages like Ezekiel 18:1-9. Good lives, Evil dies. This passage sounds like there should be immediate judgement. Yet it refers to spiritual life and death where judgement comes from God. Science actually matches the Bible better than what the church has taught for 2000 years.

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