Proto-Evangelium and Tribulation

First Gospel

Genesis 3:15 is known as the Proto-Evangelium – First Gospel. This very first hint of the gospel was proclaimed in Scripture even before the punishment was pronounced for the very first sin. Imagine that! Even before God announced his punishments for Adam and Eve (and their descendants), He pronounced final victory over sin and death through the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider the following simple outline of Genesis 3:

  • Gen 3:1-5 – Satan subtly beguiles Eve by tempting her to doubt God’s word
  • Gen 3:6 – Eve falls to temptation and immediately tempts Adam to sin. Adam chooses to side with his wife in rebellion against God.
  • Gen 3:7 – Immediately upon his rebellion, Adam and all his posterity fall under the curse of sin. They are immediately made aware of the crushing weight and misery of sin.
  • Gen 3:8 – Adam and Eve’s first instinct, as fallen sinners, was to flee from the presence of Holy God
  • Gen 3:9-13 – Adam and Eve are found by God, tried for their sin, and confess their guilt before God
  • Gen 3:14-15 – God curses the serpent and prophecies a battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, which will climax in an extraordinary battle in which both will be wounded – the snake fatally
  • Gen 3:16-20 – Mankind is punished for sin and removed from the garden sanctuary

So, here we have it. Even before Adam and Eve receive the curse do them for sin, they hear the first preaching of the gospel promise that one day a man, the seed of the woman, will crush the serpent and his kingdom. Can we imagine a human court where the pardon is offered even before a sentence is given?

The Promise

If we look closely at this first promise from God, we see that it contains bad news news of fear and good news a proclamation of hope for believers.

Providence of God

First, we learn that there will be spiritual battles in this world and that they are ordained by God!

*I* will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed…

God has placed the seed of the woman (true believers) and the seed of Satan (unbelievers) at war! We need only watch our evening news to see that this is true. It is no wonder, for the Scriptures declare that all true followers of Jesus will suffer persecution:

  • Jn 15:20 – If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you
  • 2 Tim 3:12 – Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

But we can have hope, because this has been ordained of the Father and it is for His purpose and glory – “…according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Eph 1:11).

The Victory of Christ

…it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Before our Saviour went to the cross, he spent is final an evening in the Garden of Gethsemane teaching and encouraging his disciples and praying. John 16 contains the final instructions from the Lord to his disciples before his death. He closes that chapter with these words:

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:30)

Here we have it stated again, believers will have tribulation in this life. But we also have great words of hope! Jesus has already overcome the world. Even though Christ had not yet gone to the cross and overcome sin and death, His work was ordained before the foundation of the Earth (Rev 13:8) and was as sure as if it had already occurred.

In the next post we’ll look more closely at the two seeds mentioned in Gen 3:15 – the woman’s seed and the seed of the serpent.


5 thoughts on “Proto-Evangelium and Tribulation

  1. Hi Andrew,

    Have a look at my Gen. 3.15 page:

    Gen. 3.15 is referred to many times in both the O.T. and N.T. I am even thinking of writing a book length article about the passage once I complete my research. Another way this promise is referenced is by the use of “woman” by Jesus instead of “mother.” Paul in Galatians also uses “woman” instead of “Mariam of Nazareth” who was still alive (according to tradition) when he said: “born of a woman” and so cited the curse/promise.

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