A few weeks ago, I preached on the first Gospel promise in Genesis 3. My emphasis was on God’s faithfulness to this promise in our lives and its development throughout scripture. Later, someone asked me if I thought Adam and Eve were in heaven. I gave a short answer but wanted to develop it a bit more. I hope to do that in this post.
It is important to point out that the Bible does not specifically state whether God saved them or not. However, if we pay careful attention to what the Bible does say, I think we can have some level of confidence that Adam and Eve are in heaven. The question is raised (I think) primarily because throughout the Bible Adam and Eve are used as the example par excellence of human sinfulness, failure, and rebellion (Hosea 6:7; Rom. 5:12-14; 1 Cor. 15:21-22; 2 Cor. 11:3). If, however, we remember that the Bible is the record of God’s plan (and work) in redemption then we quickly realize that the emphasis on the fact that Adam and Eve did not deserve salvation serves to glorify God who graciously saves sinners and deserves all the praise and honor for their salvation (Rom. 5:19-20). Adam and Eve are therefore not just examples of human sinfulness but also of salvation by grace through faith.
Before God even pronounces curses upon the people and land, he curses the serpent. It is clear that this is not merely a snake and later in scripture, it becomes clear that the serpent is Satan. Involved in that curse is the first Gospel promise. It has implications not only for some future time but also immediately for them. The second part of the curse on the serpent is:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV)
Christian readers immediately focus on the prophesy of the work of Christ and the Gospel contained in the verse. Notice, however, that God declares not only that He will put enmity (opposition) between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, but also between the woman and the serpent. When Adam and Eve chose to believe the word of Satan instead of the word of God, they aligned themselves with the Devil and made themselves enemies of God. In a sense, they put enmity between themselves and the holy God. Satan may have thought his rebellion was succeeding but God declared that He would create opposition between the woman and Satan. The destruction of Satan’s power will result from the offspring of this woman whom he deceived. This is the plan of God and is a declaration of His sovereign grace in redemption.
The curse on the serpent in verses 16-19 is followed by curses on both the man and the woman that end with the curse of death “… you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Remarkably, the next words recorded are “The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” (Gen. 3:20)
God declares that they will die and then Adam calls her the mother of the living! Clearly, Adam is expressing faith in the promise of redemption given a few verses earlier that God will restore life to his creation and overcome the adversary through the descendants of Eve. Theologians have developed many complex descriptions of saving faith, but in its most basic form, it is simply trusting in the promises of God. When we consider the particular promise Adam is trusting in we see that it is none other than the Gospel. The promise involved in the curse of the Serpent is that God will provide a redeemer descended from Eve, born of the seed of a woman, who will conquer Satan but be wounded in the process, and opposition will be placed between humankind and Satan.
Eve also shows faith in the promise. The promise in chapter 3 entails offspring and in chapter 4 when Eve gives birth to Cain, she says, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord” (Gen. 4:1). It is possible that Eve thought that Cain would be the fulfillment of the promise since the name Cain indicates that she “got” him from God. Ironically, Cain is not among the faithful seed and kills his brother. The result is that Eve essentially loses both sons but we see her faith again when she gives birth to Seth. The name Seth means “placed” or “appointed” and Eve declares concerning him, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” (Gen. 4:25). This time she is blessed and it is through Seth that the promise is fulfilled. Her comments and the names of her children indicate that Eve retained her confidence in God’s word.
We also find another clue back in Genesis 3. Just after Adam calls his wife the “mother of all living” the following detail is recorded:
“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” (Gen. 3:21) This may sound like a practical detail but its significance is profound. I do not have the room here to explore it in detail but this is the first time in the Bible that blood is shed to provide a covering. Fallen man failed at his attempt to cover himself but God provides a covering through a death (Gen. 3:7,21). This theme of sacrifice as a covering related to sin continues throughout the Bible and finds is ultimate expression in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary. This is another demonstration of the grace of God in dealing with his fallen creatures, is a typological symbol, and foreshadow of atonement. It is not specific stated as the case here, but this action is consistent with God’s care for the faithful that we see throughout scripture. If it is, then it is likely that Adam and Eve are included in the family of faith.
Finally, there are hints in some of the genealogies and lists. Some have pointed out that the list of the faithful in Hebrews 11 does not contain Adam and Eve even though it extends back to their lifetime. That is an interesting observation because the purpose of the list is precisely to highlight the persistent hope of the faithful in the promises of God. Their absence, however, is not conclusive and there may be other reasons why the list begins with Abel. First, the list moves very quickly from Abel to Abraham and there are many believers not mentioned. Indeed, the only ones mentioned are those who had some sort of profound demonstration or confirmation of their faith. It may also be, as John Gill suggested that Hebrews speaks only of those who had received the promise in faith through the testimony of the faithful.
Hebrews 11 is not the only list to look at. Other New Testament lists may also provide insight into the question. Matthew, emphasizing Jesus as the Jewish Messiah understandably begins with Abraham, but Luke whose work emphasizes the inclusion of the Gentiles into the promises begins his genealogy of Christ with Adam. It is likely that Luke is emphasizing Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise and the hope of all people. In structuring his genealogy this way, Luke is connecting the coming of Christ with an anticipation that extends back to the very beginning of human history. It seems likely to me that the implied connection is Genesis 3:15 and that Adam (and Eve) were waiting for Christ.
Although the Bible does not explicitly say that Adam and Eve are in heaven, I think we have enough information in the scripture to think they are. I believe the biblical clues we have indicate that although they had less information that we have, they were trusting in the same Gospel promise.