The Genesis account of the Fall indicates that Eve ate the fruit first. This has led many people throughout history and even in our modern times to believe that she was the person responsible for original sin. You have likely heard the old canard, “We wouldn’t be in this mess [meaning the general sinfulness of our fallen world] if it weren’t for a woman.” But is that an accurate statement? Is Eve to blame for original sin?
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6)
This verse makes it clear that Eve was the first to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God had told Adam not to eat from the tree, but Eve also had knowledge of this (Genesis 3:2–3). Adam ate but only after Eve. From this verse alone it might be easy to think that Eve is indeed to blame for original sin since she sinned first. Some have said that verses in the New Testament also support the idea that Eve is to blame because Eve was deceived and Adam was not.
For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:13–14)
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
However, Eve being deceived does not necessarily imply that she is to blame for original sin. If anything it might be tempting to think the opposite—that because Eve was deceived while Adam knew full well what he was doing that his sin is worse, and he should be blamed. However, the Bible never states that Adam’s sin was worse than Eve’s. Both were punished for their sin (Genesis 3:16–19).
It is necessary to look at other passages in both the Old and New Testaments to understand why Adam is to blame for original sin rather than Eve.
As the leader it was Adam’s responsibility to protect and provide for his family.
Adam was created first from the dust of the ground, and Eve was created from a rib taken from Adam’s side (Genesis 2:7, 21–22). From these verses and others in Genesis 1–3 it is clear that the husband was created to be the leader in the marital relationship and that the wife was created to be the helper (Genesis 2:18). As the leader it was Adam’s responsibility to protect and provide for his family. This leadership role was clearly demonstrated when God talked with Adam and Eve following their sin. Even though Eve sinned before Adam, God questioned Adam first (Genesis 3:9). This was because of the leadership role God ordained for husbands in marriage. Adam, as the leader of the family, was held responsible, not only for his own sin of eating from the tree, but also because he did not provide adequate protection for his wife, allowing her to sin.
In the New Testament, Adam is clearly presented as both progenitor and representative of all mankind. The following passages state that Adam is the person through whom sin and resulting death entered the world:
For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:21–22, 45)
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.
But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:12, 15, 17–19)
Just as sin and death came through one man, Adam, it is also through one man, Jesus Christ, that grace and righteousness are given as free gifts to sinners. The naming of Christ as the Last Adam and the multiple comparisons of Adam to Christ would be invalid and nonsensical if original sin came through Eve.
Interestingly, although Eve was the first to sin, the solution to sin came through “her Seed” (Genesis 3:15). The Seed, Jesus Christ, was born of a virgin named Mary. He paid the price for sin and will redeem those who receive the salvation He offers.
Scripture makes it clear that that sin and death entered this world through Adam, and thus he is to blame for original sin.