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How long did Adam and Eve live in the garden? Eden, Genesis, longevity - April 30, 2016

This question has been split off from the one below.

The short answer is that no one knows exactly. Since Adam lived 930 years, at first blush, we might just be able to say somewhere between that and a day. Some people say that Adam lived for eons in the garden, but that only his time after the Fall is recorded in his age. This is based on the assumption that since no one aged before sin, that no one died either (similar to the bizarre idea that sin caused the second law of thermodynamics). To quote an old expression about studying the Bible: “When the plain sense makes sense, don’t seek any other sense.” There is no reason to think that aging (as such) is a consequence of sin and no reason to think that “Adam lived * years” means anything except that Adam’s life was that long. Genesis 5:1 seems to give God as the first name in the genealogy of all that come after. Adam was made in God’s image, Seth was made in Adam’s image, et cetera. There is no way to say anything with certainty beyond that range, but if you don’t mind some (slightly) educated guesswork, read on.

If we had something like we do in Genesis 5 which read “Adam lived 45 years when he became the father of Cain,” then we might have a very strong case that Adam lived in the Garden for 45 years. Unfortunately, since Cain killed Abel, neither of them is listed in the main genealogy, since one was killed and the other exiled (in Genesis 4:17-22, where Cain’s line is given, ages are not included like they are for the ancestors of Jesus). What we have instead is Genesis 5:3  that Adam was 130 when Seth was born. At least we have narrowed it down to 0 to 130 years!

We can’t say for sure how long it was after Abel’s death that Seth was born. His birth is included after the story of Lamech, Cain’s great-great-great-grandson. This may be in chronological order (it seems like the extra long lifespans were mostly for the ancient ancestors of Jesus – see  Genesis 4:7-12, where Jacob is explaining the long lives of his family to the Pharaoh), or Moses could just be dealing with Cain’s line all at once so he can move on with the main history. If we assume it is chronological, for the sake of argument, we will assume that the shorter lifespans meant ordinary childbearing age, let’s say about 20 years (some would be earlier and some later, but we will let that cancel out). If Cain was 20 when he had his son (shortly after killing Abel), 40 his grandson, 60 his great-grandson, 80 his great-great grandson and 100 his great-great-great-grandson, we would arrive at the conclusion that Adam lived for about 30 years in the garden. Since Jesus died at about the age of 33, this is attractive, since it sets up the failure of Adam side-by-side with the victory of Jesus, but it is highly speculative. The biggest leap is probably that the story of Lamech includes him, as an adult man, murdering someone like Cain did. If we allow that he was 20 years old, we have to lower the generation length to 16, which feels like a real leap from what we see in Seth’s line.

So if it is probably not in chronological order (as well as that might work as a sermon), can we narrow it down at all? We have two things we can use. In the garden, we need enough time for Adam to name all of the animals. Outside of the garden, we need time for Cain to murder Abel. Since Cain is an adult, married man by this point (he takes his wife – his sister, something which probably warrants another question at some point) and so is his younger brother Abel, we need at least a full generation. Cain and Abel both offer sacrifices on their own, so an educated guess is that they were at least 30 (The age priests could begin full service, according to Numbers 4:3). If we allow for Cain to be a little older than Abel, we might make Cain 40 and Abel 30, but there are no hints in the biblical record. We do not know how long Eve took to conceive after their expulsion from the garden, but since there is no mention of her being barren (unlike in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), it seems unlikely it was long. She probably got pregnant right away, so the time from the expulsion from the Garden to the birth of Cain is likely only about a year. With that year, plus at least a year for Eve to conceive and give birth to Seth after the death of Abel and a gap between Cain and Abel, it seems likely that we can reduce our 130 year cap by 35 to 95. I think that (since it was a long drive to Walmart to buy baby food and formula suppresses fertility), it is likely that there was at least a ten year gap between Cain and Abel (situating Cain’s wife in the middle) and that there was likely a gap between Abel’s death and Seth’s birth of at least a couple of years. So I will lower 95 down to 80.

To calculate the low end, we need some idea of how long it would take for Adam to name every animal.  This is certainly not to say that he named every breed (“I call thee pit bull and thee rat terrier.”), but that he named each species of bird or animal. Adam did not give the animals the names they have today, but identified each kind because naming signifies dominance, and showed the authority of mankind over nature. Adam named all of the birds and “beasts of the field.”  There are about 16000 species of animals plus birds today. It is hard to say how many species have gone extinct, because most of the research done on fossil species relies on unstated assumptions which Christians would reject. Because we are looking at a lower bound, let’s be conservative and say that there were about 25000 species for Adam to name.* Adam was also tending the garden as a proto-priest during this time, so he was not a full time “namer.” It is unlikely that Sabbath observance occurred before Exodus 20, so he can work 365 days a year. If he finished in one year, that is only 68 a day (or if he spent 6 hours a day naming, only about one animal every five minutes).

It can get even shorter than that. I am not sure he named every individual species, but think he may have named each genus or kind of animal. Another caveat is that scientists move species between genera all the time, so the idea of “kind” is difficult to define rigorously. Again, a more detailed defense of this is a separate article, but I am trying to sketch the outline. So there are 1258 animal genera today and 2057 genera of birds, for a total of 3315 kinds. It is very difficult to say how many have gone extinct, because the fossil record is extremely patchy and the definition of “kind” depends on things which are very difficult to guess from bones. Because of the broad nature of a biblical kind, I am going to say that Adam needed to come up with 4000 names, if we go by genus. If we assume that 68 a day is a reasonable number, it would have taken less than two months to name every kind. If we assume that tending the garden was the same task as naming the animals, so we can give him 12 hours a day to work, that makes it a month.

Some go further and point to Genesis 1:27 and argue that Adam must have named all of the animals and birds in a single day, because Eve was created on the sixth day. If that is the case, and we need about 6 names a minute. Which, since God is bringing the animals to Adam, is not impossible. He can just name them one after the other in ten seconds each for twelve hours. Before the Fall he would not grow tired and maybe not even confused. Naming every species in 12 hours would be about 35 a minute, so it is probably best to consider these two possibilities together. If these theories are accepted, the minimum time in the garden could do down to just a few days.

Regardless of which of these branches is taken, it is plain that they could have spent as little as a year in the Garden of Eden, before spoiling it with sin. One more line of reasoning for a short stay presents itself. Since Adam and Eve were given the blessing-command to be fruitful and multiply in Genesis 1:28 when their bodies were unspoiled by the effects of sin, it seems strange to think they could have waited long to conceive. Even today, 80% of couples who are trying to get pregnant do so in the first 6 months. Adam was created adult enough to name the animals and work the Garden, so while he may not have been sexually mature, we can’t really say. So there is really no significant minimum length to the time they could have spent in the Garden.

I am 100% certain it was between a few days and 100 years.

I am 95% certain it was between a few days and 80 years.

I am 90% certain that it was between a few days and 3 years, seriously doubting that the period of testing for Jesus was shorter than that of Adam.

I am about 80% certain that it was between a few days and forty days. Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness, before being tempted with food, power and testing God’s word. Adam and Eve, in perfect luxury, turned from God for all three, taking the fruit for the power to be like God and test if His declaration they would die were true. He succeeded, they failed.

But no matter how long they were in the Garden, we will be in the restored Garden of God forever and ever (Revelation 22:1-5).

How long did Adam and Eve live out of the garden? Did Adam and Noah or their immediate families ever cross paths? Adam, longevity, Noah, patriarchs - April 30, 2016

This question was originally submitted as “How long did Adam and Eve live in the garden? How long did they live out of the garden? Did Adam and Noah or their immediate families ever cross paths?” The second two questions are much easier than the first one, so I will deal with them first, and post the question about how long they lived in the garden as a separate answer. We do not know how long Eve lived, but Adam lived a total of 930(!) years. The details of the long lifespans of the patriarchs are worth their own article. We cannot say for sure if there are generations skipped in Genesis 5:1-32 (the word in Bible for son can also mean descendant, so it could be that Seth was 105 when he became the grandfather of Enosh), but the years do not depend on this; the total age is the same either way. So let’s see who overlaps.

I’m going to dodge a lot of complicated sub-issues by calling the creation of Adam year 0 (obviously, this doesn’t mean Noah died 10 years ago; I am just using a convenient counting system for the sake of avoiding the AD/BC confusion), and working out. The first two columns are what are actually spelled out in the biblical text. The second two are calculated from the first two in Excel.

Name Son Born at Age Died at Age Born in Year Died in Year
Adam 130 930 0 930
Seth 105 912 130 1042
Enosh 90 905 235 1140
Kenan 70 910 325 1235
Mahalel 65 895 395 1290
Jared 162 962 460 1422
Enoch 65 365* 622 987
Methuselah 187 969 687 1656
Lamech 182 777 874 1651
Noah 500 950 1056 2006

Since Noah was born in 1056, and Enosh didn’t die until 1140, Adam’s grandson (remember the caveat about what son means, but this seems to be the logical reading) could have known Noah as a (relatively) young man. Even more interesting, Noah’s father, was born 43 years before Adam died. We can’t say for sure they knew each other, because people were obviously scattered around the world, but they were contemporaries. Still, slightly more time separated the creation of Adam to the death of Noah than separated the birth of Jesus from the lunar landing.

*Enoch did not die in the ordinary way, but was raptured. See Genesis 5:24. [Return]

Why does God love Israel more than the rest of the world? April 29, 2016

First, what does it mean for God to love? It doesn’t mean that God admires something about a person, the way we might say we love someone because they are pretty or kind. God’s love does not depend on anything about us (in the case of Israel, see Deuteronomy 7:7-8; for all mankind, see Romans 5:8 and Ephesians 2:4-5). It doesn’t even really mean “warm feelings,” because even for people, love is a choice (Ephesians 5:25, Titus 2:4).

So love is not just a feeling, but it is not just an action either. When people say “I love you, I just don’t like you,” they assume that love is just something you do, but 1 Corinthians 13:3 says that we can give up our lives and everything we have, but still not love. Things get even more muddled when God hates someone. In Malachi 1 (quoted in Romans 9), God famously says “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” God hates liars, people who are proud and people who are divisive (Psalm 5:7, Proverbs 6:16-19), yet He died for them. Most confounding for your question is that God even says that He hates Israel (Jeremiah 12:8, Psalm 106:40) even though His love endures forever! So we must understand that God can love and hate the same person at the same time.

With all of this in mind, the best way to think of God’s love is with the phrase “loving kindness” or “steadfast love” (both from the Hebrew hesed, which corresponds roughly to the Greek agape). It is His promise of devotion, pouring out His blessings on His people. It is His commitment, based on His own character, to do good for those He is bound to. Since God has bound Himself to two groups of people, we can put your question “Why does God love Israel more than the rest of the world?” alongside another question “Why does God love believers more than non-believers?” I want to answer in two parts. First, the ways in which God does not love any person more than any other and second, the ways in which He does.

1.) He doesn’t.

In terms of His willingness to have a relationship with people, God does not love anyone more than anyone else. He set His love even on the false teachers, dying for them (2 Peter 2:1). Ethnic Israelites are not given a special status in eternity. Like everyone else, they must come to Christ to be saved and are not true Israelites until they have faith (Romans 9:1-8). Titus 3:4 says that God’s love for all mankind was revealed in Jesus. In Mark 10:21, Jesus looked at the rich young ruler who would reject Him, but loved him anyway. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32) and it is not His will that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). In the case of Israel, God’s favor to them was so they could be a light to the Gentiles, so that all nations could worship Him (Isaiah 49:6). So there is a very real sense in which it is wrong to say God loves some people more than others. Even His special favor has a universal scope.

2.) He does.

Yet, there is of course that reality that God does show a special favor. There is a certain amount of mystery here. In our era, why should God make faith the standard instead of good works or family ties (Romans 9:30-33, the crux of the whole section of the letter)? In ancient times, why should God choose Israel as His vessel to save the world, and not Edom, Egypt or Rome? We can mention a few reasons, such as His displaying His power in weakness (Psalm 8:2). But ultimately these will not do. The simplest, most confounding answer is that He is God, and there is no why. He needed a nation to serve as His special light, to bring His Son into the world. Jesus had to be born somewhere at some time, and God chose Israel in 4 BC. Why? We can’t really answer that question any more than the clay can ask the potter what he is making. The only thing we can do is worship that yes, God did choose a people and use them to bring a Savior to the whole world. Because of that, even I can be saved.

When was the first book of the bible written? How long did the bible take to complete? How many authors? etc…. from DARRELL.GATLIN@TEAMINC.COM Bible, Scripture - April 29, 2016

The Bible, in one sense, has only one author – 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that every word was breathed out by God. However, God chose to use people to work alongside him, so we have the wonderful tapestry of poetry, history, letters and biography which make up the Bible. About 40 people wrote parts of the Bible (it is hard to say for sure, because some books of the Bible – like Hebrews – don’t actually tell us who wrote them). The first book of the Bible to be written was probably Job; the process of dating ancient books is complicated and there is not much to compare it to (Job is the longest ancient story from the ancient Near East – longer than very Ugaritic epic put together!), but it is probably from before the time of Moses. We can date it to roughly 2000-1500 BC. Since the book of Revelation was the last book written (about AD 90), even if we pick the later number, the Bible was written in a period of over 1500 years! 40 people, in 66 books, 3 languages, well over half a million words (in the original languages) and yet one simple message: Jesus. As He said in John 5:29 the whole Bible testifies about Him. The sheer size and complexity of the Bible point to the miraculous author. – Brother Justin

What does “ministry” mean? April 27, 2016

“Ministry” is the kind of word Christians know without ever knowing exactly what it means. We have the ministry of Jesus, we talk about a pastor “going into the ministry,” churches have men’s ministry, women’s ministry, food ministries and counseling ministries. So what does it mean? Simply “service.” Men’s ministry is serving men. Food ministry is serving with food. Minister, a related word, means servant. So a youth minister serves the youth. A minister of a church (a pastor) is called that because he serves the church. So it is a pretty unusual word for a pretty ordinary idea. – Brother Justin