I just began reading the Bible.

In Genesis 2, it says

And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Why did they, ultimately, not die? Instead, God punishes them in some other way.

  • right, kind-a sounds like they got away with murder, per say. I'm glad they didnt Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 7:08
  • @Omega Does this answer your question? Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 9:11
  • If you've just started reading the Bible, may I suggest you begin with the New Testament (Matthew)? It contains less long lists / obscure prophecies that are best left until you have a clear understanding of the Gospel message. Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 9:15
  • A similar question to this one: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/1589/…
    – hookenz
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 22:31

5 Answers 5


Adam and Eve Suffered Spiritual Death

The death of which God spoke, "on the day that thou eatest thereof," was the spiritual death of Adam and Eve. (Physical) Death entered the world by that act, too (Romans 5:12). Before they had rebelled against God, there was no death, in any form. But to make sense of God's command, it makes more sense (to me) for him to be speaking of spiritual death.

Perhaps one could say that this is not the death of which God appears to be speaking, but which death is more serious, the death of the body or the second death (Revelation 20:14)?

If we assume that the Scripture is true and consistent, then it is not unreasonable to conclude that God was not speaking of their immediate physical death, since death clearly entered the world on that day, and both Adam and Eve earned spiritual death (Romans 3:23).


Why did they, ultimately, not die?

They surely died ultimately, just that it didn't happen on the same day that they ate the fruit.

Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died. (Genesis 5:5, NIV)

Why not on the same day?

That depends on how you translate it. NIV doesn't have any indication that they will die on the same day.

Genesis 2:16-17 (NIV)

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

  • It seems like the meaning is the nearly the same. "When you eat from it" sounds like the consequences would happen pretty soon, not 900+ years later.
    – mojo
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 3:37
  • 1
    @mojo For God there isn't much difference between 1 day and 1000 years. (2 Peter 3:8)
    – Mawia
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 5:11
  • the statement was made to finite humans, though, and so it certainly had a meaning (and significance) to them. God wasn't speaking just to hear himself. He was conveying information to people.
    – mojo
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 5:18
  • @mojo Adam was also eternal when God said those words. I think even Adam was not bounded by time before the fall, thus a day and a thousand years won't make much difference to him. Only after the fall that Adam became mortal, his life span cut short and now even a day means a lot to him.
    – Mawia
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 5:28
  • And yet, God's warning did need to have some sort of meaning to him. Adam was still a finite being (not possessing all knowledge, power, etc.). It's conceivable that the amount of time was not the emphasis of God's warning, although swift consequences certainly seem (to me) to be the more straightforward reading.
    – mojo
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 5:33

First consider this passage.

Hebrews 9:22

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Then go back to the fall of man.

Genesis 3:21

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

There was shedding of blood the same day of the fall of man.

  • 3
    God said, "you will surely die," not "blood will be shed (by something)."
    – mojo
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 4:21
  • Regarding the Hebrews reference, there is no mention of remission (forgiveness) of sins in Genesis 3.
    – mojo
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 4:23
  • God did not say "you will die a spiritual death" either. Because it was written in Hebrews does not make it less true then. Did they not sin? They did sin so their had to be shedding of blood.
    – Jason
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 4:41
  • The result of their sin was death that same day, so a solution had to be made that same day.
    – Jason
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 4:54
  • Forgiveness of sin requires the shedding of blood. This is what the Hebrew writer is saying. There is no statement in the text concerning atonement being made for Adam and Eve's sin. It just seems that the death of the animals is unrelated to God saying "you will surely die."
    – mojo
    Commented Jan 9, 2014 at 5:47

You have asked a very intriguing question, in order to try to derive what God meant when he said;

Genesis 2:16 and 17 KJV

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

First of all note that in verse 16 God tells man that he may eat freely from every tree.

but in verse 17 he warns him that if he eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in that day you shalt surely die.

First of all we need to know what God meant by the word die, and to ascertain that we must first know what life is; so lets take a look at man's creation.

Genesis 2:7 KJV

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Please notice that it says that man became a living Soul, and that has to do with the eternal part of man and not the Physical man, and how do we know that ?

Genesis 6:17, 7:15 and 7:22

6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

7:15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.

7:22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.

Of all of the creatures God created only man became a living soul.

So when God told man that he should surely die he must have been referencing the soul, since he deemed man a living soul and not a living being.

That not only separates man from the animals, but also the Angels.

So let's take a longer look at Genesis 2:17.

God did not say in the day you eat of it you will die, instead he said you shall surely die. So what is the difference between the two?

The original Hebrew was:


muwth (mooth) v.

  1. (literally or figuratively) to die

  2. (causatively) to kill

KJV: X at all, X crying, (be) dead (body, man, one), (put to, worthy of) death, destroy(-er), (cause to, be like to, must) die, kill, necro(-mancer), X must needs, slay, X surely, X very suddenly, X in (no) wise.






you will die

The difference here is in the words surely you will die and the word for kill which is:


nakah (naw-kaw') v.

  1. to strike (lightly or severely, literally or figuratively)

KJV: beat, cast forth, clap, give (wounds), X go forward, X indeed, kill, make (slaughter), murderer, punish, slaughter, slay(-er, -ing), smite(-r, -ing), strike, be stricken, (give) stripes, X surely, wound.

notice that in the Hebrew it says surely you will die, not you will surely die.

God was not telling man that he would be killed but that his soul would die, which is quite different in that what God was saying was in effect that man would loose his immortality.


by the words

"... for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

it didn't mean that they would die instantly. when they were in the garden of Eden, they were immortal, they were sinless because they knew not "good and evil" so they didn't need to die to "be purged"

when they ate of the fruit, they gained the knowledge of "good and evil" and that is the point that sin entered.

in Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

that is why they didn't die the instant they ate of the fruit. Death is a product of Sin

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