Genesis 3:1-24 Questions for Group Leaders

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"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3-4)?

Genesis 3:1-24 Questions for Group Leaders

Verse 1

Until now everything is in peace and harmony. There is nothing to disturb the idyllic scene of man's peaceful and harmonious relationship with God, his Creator, nature, the animals and himself. Here for the first time a sinister figure is introduced whose characteristics are not in tune with this harmony. It is introduced right from the very beginning of this chapter.

1. Why do you think the woman was not afraid of the serpent?
2. Is the outward appearance of the serpent deceptive? Why? Why not?
3. Up to this point what characterised the relationship between man and the animals?
4. What does the word 'crafty' suggest? Do you think it has positive or negative overtones? Is this feature in keeping with the deceptive appearance of the serpent?
5. Who is the source of deception and lies? (see John 8:44) Does this help us to identify the real nature of the serpent?
6. Is the use of a question ‘Did God say'? more effective in involving the woman in dialogue than an outright denial of the truth of what God said? Why?
7. Does the use of a question involve the person he is speaking to more directly? How? Does it make dialogue more natural?
8. Is the serpent deceptively placing himself in an inferior position compared to Eve by asking a question as would a person seeking information and willing to learn?
9. Does the fact that the serpent immediately mentions God reveal anything about his aim?
10. Given the sense of harmony between man and nature and man and God seen in previous texts from Genesis what do you think the aim of the serpent is?
11. Do the words of the serpent reflect accurately what God said to the first couple or are they a distortion of God's words?
12. Do you think Satan knows the exact words of God?
13. Has the serpent managed to get the attention of the woman and involve her in communicating with him? Has he made the dialogue both possible and natural? How?
14. God is not the only supernatural person who speaks to the couple, Satan does too. Is this still true today?
15. Do the words of God, as reported by the serpent, convey a different impression of God's relationship to man? To answer this think of the abundance of trees and food and animals made specifically for man and then the prohibition, according to Satan, to eat from any of them?
16. Can we detect the subtlety with which Satan reveals his relationship with God? Is this a reflection of a loving relationship or one of hostility? Can we see how the relationship is gradually being undermined by these very first apparently innocent words?

Verse 2

1. Why do you think the woman entered into conversation with the serpent?
2. When replying to the serpent does the woman give the impression that she knows more than the serpent, that she is proud to correct the serpent?
3. Who is it that really knows more?
4. Do you think that the serpent was purposely pretending not to know what the situation was?
5. Do you think this is a strategy and that he is here showing his crafty nature?
6. Is what the woman says a direct contradiction of what the serpent said?
7. What impression is the serpent leaving the woman with? Of being superior or inferior in knowledge?

Verse 3

1. Does the woman report accurately what God had said or does she change something?
2. Did God forbid the couple to touch the tree in the middle as the woman said?
3. Is it true that there was only one tree in the middle of the garden as the woman implies by using the singular 'tree'?
4. What does this reveal about how she related to these two trees?
5. Do you think this may show a certain curiosity, perhaps also, obsession for the forbidden tree in that in her mind the two became one, her choice between the two had already been implicitly made even before the appearance of the serpent?
6. Do you think the serpent only caused what was already in her to emerge?
7. Do you get the impression that the woman is convinced she has the upper hand? What does this show? (see Proverbs 16:18).
8. Do you think that with this verse we are immersed in the dialogue and that there is no turning back or at least that it has now become difficult to turn back?
9. What does this teach us about how temptation can take hold of a person?
10. How would you describe the various stages in giving way to temptation?
11. From this what can we learn about how to handle temptation?

Verse 4

1. Why can the serpent now directly contradict God, whereas before he could not?
2. What is the serpent actually accusing God of?
3. 'but God said' (v. 3) // 'but the serpent said' (v. 4). Does this opposition reveal more of the real nature and aim of the serpent?

Verse 5

1. What three consequences are mentioned here if the woman should eat of the forbidden tree?
2. What do the words "your eyes will be opened" mean? What 'eyes'?
3. In what sense 'you will be like God'? Didn't God make man in his image and likeness?
4. Didn't the first couple already have a knowledge of good and evil?
5. According to this verse who decides what is good and what is evil, man or God? Why?
6. What was the serpent appealing to in the woman when highlighting the consequences involved in eating of the forbidden tree?

Verse 6

1. What does the word 'so' tell us of the influence of the serpent? Is her action seen as a natural outcome of this dialogue?
2. How did the woman know that the tree would make her wise?
3. Which of the woman's faculties were involved in inducing her to give way to temptation and to encourage her husband to do the same?
4. Her participation in the dialogue with the serpent and the word "so" involves which of her faculties?
5. "The woman saw ... that it was a delight to the eyes", involves which sense?
6. "Good for food" implies the attraction of which sense?
7. Do you think the words "it was a delight" create the impression of even deeper emotional involvement, a sort of obsession?
8. What does the convergence of each of these factors create? ("the tree was to be desired").
9. What was her objective, what did she want to achieve?
10. Do you think that it was the emotions and the intellect that were primarily responsible for distracting her from focusing on God's will?
11. Before eating of the forbidden fruit could she have possibly been sure of the outcome? Do you think curiosity played a role in this situation?
12. Was the eating of the fruit therefore also an act of faith? In whom?
13. Was it more reasonable to have faith in God or in the serpent? Why? Did the woman have more reasons for believing God rather than the serpent? What were these reasons?
14. What does this emotional and intellectual involvement teach us? How can we overcome the blindness that the emotional and intellectual faculties can cause?
15. Did the couple not have dominion over all the animals, including the serpent? Could the woman, therefore, have been able to overcome the influence of the serpent?
16. Was she under any form of pressure? Was she obliged in any way to accept as truth the words of the serpent rather than the word of God who has provided not only for their survival but also an abundance of life? What do you think tipped the balance in favour of the serpent and against God?
17. The woman takes the fruit and eats it. This is the first time that man acts against the plan that God had for his well being. We have seen that there is peace, harmony, solidarity in good. Is there such a thing as solidarity in evil? Are the consequences of sin limited to the one individual?

Verse 7

1. "for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened" (v. 5), "Then the eyes of both were opened" (v. 7). Was the serpent right?
2. What did they become aware of immediately their eyes were opened?
3. Until now the man and woman depended on each other, interested in their environment and on God and there was peace. What is the result of this disobedience? Is the result of this newly found self-consciousness positive or negative? Did it bring peace and harmony or did it cause negative emotions?
4. Does self-consciousness bring us peace and harmony or inner conflict?
6. How can we invert this negative process and find inner healing?
7. "and they knew". From which tree had they eaten? Up to this point to whom did knowledge belong? (v. 5).
8. Does man now possess knowledge? Has this done him any good or has it caused him problems?
9. What kind of impression does the couple now convey? Are they still in conversation with the serpent, with anyone, or are they alone? Do they still have the dignity they had before? How much knowledge had they acquired by going against God's plan for them? Isn't it a sorry sight to see these two alone, abandoned by he who brought them to this state, unable even to make garments to hide their shame. Their eyes were opened but what did they see apart from their nakedness, which caused them disquiet?
10. From all of this should we conclude that the intellect and the emotions are bad or should we be aware that these should find a happy balance and should not dominate or guide our lives?
11. God breathed his own life in us (Gen. 2:7). As Christians the Holy Spirit of God lives in us, in the deepest part of our being, in our spirit, deeper than the level of consciousness. Do you think that it is by living on this level, by "walking in the Spirit", in the presence of God, that we can find inner healing in our spirit and from there to the whole of our being physical, emotional, intellectual?
12. Who should guide our lives if we are to regain fullness of life and realise our full potential? (Romans 8).

Verse 8

1. While before they were conversing with God and in harmony with him, what do they now do when they hear God approaching?
2. Left to their own devices, abandoned by their evil companion and afraid of God how do they now feel? Was man created for this?
3. Is this nakedness, emptiness, fear, lack of direction and self-confidence also characteristic of modern man? From the abundance of life has man now become an inner wasteland?
4. Man now hides from that which constituted his well being, his very survival, that which gave his life meaning. Does he still do this today?
5. How does man try to hide from God? How does he still listen to the serpent? Why does he do this rather than return to the state of happiness?
6. God, walks in the garden of plenty, in the refreshing, warm evening breeze. What kind of atmosphere is this? What kind of experience would the meeting between God and the couple have been in this idyllic scene? Where there is the presence of God their is abundance of life, peace and joy. Why do you think modern man, like the first couple, separates himself from God and hides from him?

Verse 9

1. In response to man's hiding what does God do? Is it man or God that takes the initiative?
2. Do you feel that God is calling out to you while you are hiding from him?
3. Are you listening? Do you continue to hide or are you about to return to him and say 'here I am'?
4. What impression does it make on you to witness God, again called 'Lord', Lord of all creation and Lord of you and I going in search of the first couple and also in search of you? Are we going to respond or are we still obstinate in refusing the fullness of life in his presence?

Verse 10

1. What negative emotion was it that prevented man from facing God? Are you afraid of facing God because of what you are?
2. Do phobias and fear play a role in your life? When did fear begin to play a role in the lives of the first couple?
3. Did the first couple experience fear while in harmony with God's will for them?
4. What lessons can we learn from this?
5. Do you feel troubled and become agitated when hearing the call of God or when you hear people talk of God? What do you think this is a sign of?
4. What reason did the man give for hiding from God?
5. In what ways can we try to 'hide' from God?
6. Can you recall any moments in your life when God called out to you?

Verse 11

1. Could the first couple ever have been able to know that they were naked if they had not eaten from the tree?
2. Was it just a question of being aware of nakedness or is the issue very different?
3. What inner condition does this awareness of a lack of clothing bring with it compared to being aware of it before eating?
4. Why does God ask this question? Does he already know the answer?

Verse 12

1. What does the man say in reply to God's question? Is it relevant?
2. Does the man accept full responsibility for his action?
3. Who does he put the blame on? Does he only blame the woman?

Verse 13

1. Does the man accept full responsibility for his action?
2. Who does the woman blame?
3. Why was the serpent able to trick the woman? Was she in any way predisposed to being tricked? Did she contribute in any way to the actions of the serpent?
4. Is the couple's non-acceptance of responsibility typical of our behaviour?
5. Think of a specific situation in which you have not accepted responsibility for your actions? How did you feel? Were you at peace with God when this happened?
6. In some Christian churches there is the sacrament of reconciliation (confession). Do you think that this practice helps us to be sincere with ourselves, accept responsibility, contribute to peaceful relations with others and with God?

Verse 14-22

1. Here we have the triple curse. All those participating in the first act of disobedience are involved in the curse. Who are these?
2. In verse 15 who does 'your offspring' and 'hers' stand for?
3. What are the consequences of the fall for womankind?
4. What are the consequences of the fall for man?
5. What else is subject to the curse according to v. 17?
6. According to v. 19 what other consequence was there of the fall?
7. In spite of everything that had happened what does God reveal about his relationship with man in v. 20?
8. Why was it necessary for man to be excluded from the garden of Eden? (v. 22)

Robert Walsh


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