Theological Insights from a Modern Perspective

Afterlife – Adam and Eve

expulsion_from_edenEverything mankind has to deal with started with, and because of, Adam and Eve. According to Genesis (1:26) man was made “in our image (εἰκών), after our likeness (ὁμοίωσις)”. Image and likeness are the two words used to describe the original condition of man at the time of their creation.

Image refers to a physical resemblence, real or imagined, an example of the latter are the graven images the Hebrews made in the desert when Moses was on the holy mountain. Here it is being said that Adam and Eve were made to resemble their image.

Likeness, however, appears only three times in Sacred Scripture: in Genesis as stated above, in Psalm 57:4 (58:4) where the speech of the wicked is said to be of venom like the venom of a snake. This is not a physical comparison, but one of similarities in essence. The third occurrence is in Daniel 7:5 where Daniel is comparing the second beast in his dream, saying that it acted like a bear; again this is not a physical description, but a comparison as to how it acted. Drawing from these two uses we come to the understanding that when it is said that Adam and Eve were made in the likeness of God that they were made with their essence. Of most importance here is that Adam and Eve were given the imortality of the heavenly beings, a physical life without death. We know that because it was the curse God would lay upon them for their disobedience: “(Gen 2:17) but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” Their dying was not in the original plan which God had for man.

The Eastern church, from the 4th Century, has taught that after they sinned God removed His essence (likeness) from Adam and Eve, and through them from all of mankind. This is the result of that first sin, that man no long contains the divine essence, but retains His image. This is the summation of the Eastern church’s belief on orignal sin, that Adam and Eve committed the first sin, and that because of that man lost the likeness of God for all time. Jesus came and restored to man the likeness, but only after we pass from this life. This, then, is the beginning of man’s journey to the afterlife, more to come in part 2.


As always, please feel free to ask questions.


Comments on: "Afterlife – Adam and Eve" (5)

  1. Original sin is something I ponder. How, despite all this talk of love and grace, the whole system needs sin. Because without sin the rest – to my way of thinking – deflates. It’s almost as though we have made a God who needs Original Sin because we need a reason for God – and that isn’t the God I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Original Sin, Purgatory, and Limbo are three dogmas with which I have a real problem. I understand the RCC eliminated Limbo, but from what I read about those condemned to Limbo all the church says is that they don’t know what happens to those for whom the dogma was created. In the Eastern church there is nothing called Original Sin, we refer to it simply as the first sin, what occurred from it is simply the consequences God warned about.

      Everything God does is motivated by love, the first sin showed that we were not ready to house His “likeness”, corrective action was taken and teaching was given to prepare us to, once again, receive the gift. Jesus came when it was determined that man was ready for that restoration, but each person must go through the “teaching” here on earth so that we are better prepared to accept the gift when we return home.

      It is no different than a parent here on earth. When a child is old enough you give them permission to do something, such as cross the street on their own. If they show that they are not ready (ex: don’t look both ways first) then you pull back the permission and teach them again for the next time when you allow them to try. You don’t take it away permanently, but you realize more teaching is necessary.

      Liked by 1 person

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