Was Adam deceived?

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The following is number 1 in Dirk Anderson’s list of contradictions between Ellen G. Whites writings and the bible:

Ellen White:

“Satan, who is the father of lies, deceived Adam in a similar way, telling him that he need not obey God, that he would not die if he transgressed the law.” –Evangelism, p. 598.

The Bible:

“And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” -1 Timothy 2:14

His comments:

NOTE: In Genesis 3:12-13 the Bible says Eve was “deceived” by the serpent, but never says anything about Adam being deceived”

Our Response

Here is Mrs. White’s quote again, only this time notice the part we underlined:

“Satan, who is the father of lies, deceived Adam in a similar way, telling him that he need not obey God, that he would not die if he transgressed the law.” Evangelism, p. 598.

Take note of the word “similar.” The dictionary tells us that the word “similar” does not mean “the same,” but rather “alike:”

1) Having a likeness or resemblance, esp. in a general way: two similar houses. -http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/similar

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition.
2) Related in appearance or nature; alike though not identical. -http://www.bartleby.com/61/47/S0414700.html

3) Having traits or characteristics in common; alike, comparable. – http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/similar

What does this mean? This means Mrs. White was not saying Adam was deceived “the same way” as Eve was, yet, he was “some how” deceived.

What Paul did not say

The question is, was Adam “some how” deceived? The verse our critic presents really doesn’t help his case. For starters, the verse does not contain the words “the one.” It literally reads:

…“And Adam was not deceived, but the women being deceived was in the transgression.”

Now compare this verse to the actual event which transpired in Genesis 3. Obviously, Adam was “some how” deceived, because he “did” eat that fruit. Is the bible contradicting itself here?

Some present the possibility that Adam just suddenly decided “on his own” to eat of the fruit. But is this logical? Consider how Eve, who was perfect in wisdom and understanding as was Adam, could not decide “on her own” to eat of that fruit knowing that God had already warned her not to. She had to have been “deceived” in order for her to actually disobey. It is reasonable then to say that Adam was not “some how” deceived, being also a perfect human being?

When we read scripture, we are to not only consider what a verse does say, but also what it does not say. In 1 Timothy 2:14, Paul does not say by who Adam was not deceived.

In other words, it does not say that he was not deceived by Eve, nor does it say that he was not deceived by Satan, leaving room for the rest of scripture to answer this question. Below it will be shown that he had to have somehow been deceieved since he did sin.

Eve deceived by Satan, but Adam deceived by Satan “through” Eve

Adam was not deceived… but by whom? In a way, he was not deceived by his wife, but in another way he was deceived by his wife. As will be shown below, Satan “used” his wife to deceive him. Notice the following verse:

Genesis 3:17
(17) And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.

He was deceived by his wife, because it was her voice which he “hearkened unto.” Adam did not hearken unto the voice of the serpent like Eve did, and in this sense Adam was not deceived.

Its unlikely however that Eve deceived Adam intentionally. Satan used her to deceive her husband, and thus Adam was deceived “indirectly” though his wife Eve! This is why Mrs. White said that he was deceived in a “similar” way. Notice the following quote:

Adam was not deceived by the serpent, as was Eve, and it was inexcusable in Adam to rashly transgress God’s positive command. Adam was presumptuous because his wife had sinned. He could not see what would become of Eve. He was sad, troubled, and tempted. He listened to Eve’s recital of the words of the serpent, and his constancy and integrity began to waver. Doubts arose in his mind in regard to whether God did mean just as He said. He rashly ate the tempting fruit. -Confrontation, p. 86.1.

Notice she uses a phrase simular to the word “simular” which she used in her book Evangelism. She said that Adam was not deceived by Satan “as was Eve.” Notice the next two quotes which can further drive this point:

“Satan exulted in his success. He had now tempted the woman to distrust God, to question His wisdom, and to seek to penetrate His all-wise plans. And through her he had also caused the overthrow of Adam, who, in consequence of his love for Eve, disobeyed the command of God, and fell with her.” -1SP 42

“Satan resolved to bend all his energies to defeat the plan of redemption. When the Redeemer came to this world, His path from the manger to the cross was marked with pain and sorrow. At every step He encountered the enemy, who sought in every way to turn Him from His purpose of love. And Satan works against Christians today as he worked against their Leader. He who in Eden used Eve to tempt Adam, uses men in this age to tempt their fellow men.” -RH, July 16, 1901 par. 2

We read earlier in Genesis 3:17 that God tells Adam that he “hearkened unto the voice of thy wife.” This is where he was deceived, and this is what Ellen White meant.

Evidence of his being “somehow” deceived

By the very fact that Adam sinned, he was already deceived, because by sinning you think you have something to gain when in fact you have your very life to lose as a result. Hence we are all deceived, because we all sin. Sin and Deception are so very closely linked in scripture that one can clearly see how synonymous they really are. Take for example the following verse:

Leviticus 6:2
If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour;

The person who “deceives” his neighbor has “sinned.” In this verse we find the word “deceived” linked with lieing, which is a violation of the 9th commandment. And since “all have sinned ” – Romans 3:23, we have all been deceived. Adam also “sinned” therefore Adam was also deceived.

When we sin, we believe that our ways are better then God’s way… we are deceiving ourselves. Adam understand God’s law. He knew what God meant when he told him not to eat of that fruit of that tree. Because he sinned by violating God’s law, besides being deceived through his wife as shown above, he deceived himself. He separated himself for just one moment from God and his laws as we have all done, and that very moment that he found himself looking into the eyes of his wife, and seeing that bitten fruit in her hands, noticing that she is not yet dead… he violated God’s law. This was the point in which Adam was deceived… Satan did “not” deceive Adam first, nor did he deceive Adam the same way, but seeing how Eve was not yet dead, its logical to see how he can now be deceived, thinking God’s warning didn’t come true. Dont forget this crucial point!

Paul also connects sin with deception. Notice what he says:

Romans 7:11
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

When we look into the Law of God as Paul did in Romans 7 verse 9, we notice our sinful conditions and we “realize” that we are actually deceived. Why? Because we are sinners! Paul said that he was alive without the law once, but when the law came; when he looked into the law of God, he saw himself as a sinner (sin revived). He realized that while without the law, he was deceived, not knowing he was in sin. The example he uses is the 10th commandment. He says that he did not know lust… “except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Without the law, he was deceived, not knowing that lust is sin. In fact, lust is the beginning of deception. Notice this next verse:

James 1:14-15
(14) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
(15) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

The command not to eat that fruit was as clear as day. The only way to get Adam to sin, was to somehow deceive him. Adam was “drawn away” in his own lust, and “enticed,” while hearkening unto the voice of his wife, resulting in the bringing forth of his “sin,” which then resulted in his death.

Yes, Adam was not deceived (1 Timothy 2:14) by Satan the same way Eve was deceived, but he was somehow deceived, for all who sin have been “drawn away” and “enticed.” We have seen that he was deceived by his wife through the suggestions of the enemy.

-For further study on this issue see Was Adam with Eve when she was deceived?
-For a deeper study of Romans 7 see Romans 7: Dead to the Law? Which law?


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About The Author

Edwin Cotto

With over 13 years of experience in apologetics, evangelism and youth directing, Edwin has worked with various ministries both in English and Spanish. Having had the opportunity to travel to various states in the USA, and also to Venezuela and Mexico, he has enjoyed the privilege of conducting evangelistic meetings and apologetics seminars. His education includes training in the Medical Field, Adult Education at Valencia College, Biblical Hebrew with the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies, and Evangelism with Amazing Facts Center of Evangelism. He is furthering his academic studies in theology while also working as a bible worker for the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Ordained as an elder, Edwin's passion for ministry begins first at home with his wife and kids.

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