Genesis 2:7 states the warning given to Adam that if he disobeyed God’s command, he would surely die. Since God spoke with him after he sinned, obviously his body didn’t die. I’m looking for clarity.

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    1 Corinthians ch2 v11 implies that any man always has a spirit. I believe (as you say) that Paul sees it as our point of contact with the Spirit of God. But the contact itself may not be "live" (or at least not conscious). Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 15:54
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    This question needs to be scoped to a particular sub-set of 'Christianity', otherwise there will be multiple responses from a vast number of viewpoints. Please see the Tour and the Help (below, bottom, left) as to the purpose and the functioning of the site. (Being born again is a matter of the indwelling Holy Spirit being in union with one's own spirit : a renewal and a re-birth. Your theory contradicts scripture.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 16:35
  • To avoid having your question closed as "opinion-based" or downvoted as theologically incorrect, I suggest recrafting it along the lines of "What are the arguments in favor of the proposition that it was man's spirit that died in the Garden of Eden?" Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 19:17
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    You have asked two completely different questions here, the one in the Title and the one in the Body. They are potentially good questions, but they should be asked separately. I'd suggest changing the Body of this to expand on the Title question, and then create a new item for the other question. Commented Feb 9, 2023 at 20:31
  • Well, that's what @dmingo gets for taking my advice. I really think experienced participants can afford to be more generous to new contributors. So I'm going to go ahead and answer his question, rather than challenging its implied theological position. Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 1:32

3 Answers 3


The OP points out that Adam did not in fact die in the day that he ate of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Traditional explanations for this usually point out either that he began the process of death in that day, or that "day" is not to be taken in the sense humans usually think of the term, because "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (2 Peter 3:8)

However, there are indeed biblical and other arguments in support of the idea that the "death" referred to in Gen. 2 does not refer to the death of the physical body but to the death of the spirit, caused by sin.

  • In Luke 9:60 Jesus said to a disciple who asked permission to attend his father's burial: “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Here, Jesus teaches the true meaning of "death" is spiritual not physical. A true disciple should seek God's kingdom, while his even his living relatives relatives are "dead" from God's viewpoint.

  • Also 1 John 3:14 says "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death." Once again, "death" has nothing to do with the physical body. Those who abide in God's love and show it to others are alive. Those who do not are dead.

  • Jesus said "Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die." (John 11:26) Yet millions of people who believed in Jesus have died physically. Once again, Jesus taught that it is the spirit that lives eternally, not the physical body.

  • Finally, in terms of biology, no physical body is designed to live forever. The fossil record shows that animals lived and died for eons prior to creation or evolution of human beings. Thus both animals and human were destined to die physically.

The above arguments support the proposition that when the Bible speaks of Adam and Eve "dying" on the day the disobeyed God's commandment, it refers to spiritual death not physical death.

  • Good points +1. Besides which, there is, of course, the well-known "you must be born-again". Not physically, but spiritually.
    – SLM
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 20:01

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ 1 Thessalonians 5:23 NIV).

Which of the following expression trips more easily off your tongue?

  • "Body, soul, and spirit," or

  • "Spirit, soul, and body"

I have a feeling it's the former. Save for radical behaviorists who would reduce human behavior to physical and biological processes and such things as tacts and mands, most people, especially religious people in general and Christians in particular, believe that the spiritual component of humanity is more important than soul and body.

You are correct that something radical happened to our first parents that left them scarred for life. Their spirits, however, did not die but were badly injured. Could our first parents still talk to God and communicate with God? Of course. If that were not so, why would scripture encourage sinners to repent if there were not some sort of connection to God prior to repentance and after repentance?

God made eminently clear to our first parents that their disobedience, shame, and rationalization required forgiveness that only the shedding of blood could make possible. God clothed their naked bodies with animal skins as an object lesson, and their son Abel "brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock" (Genesis 4:4 NIV), which of course required the shedding of blood.

As for expressions in the scripture that seem to say that an unconverted person has a "dead spirit," here is what the apostle Paul says,

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins . . .. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus . . . (Ephesians 2:1-6, in part).

So to what extent and in what way are the unconverted dead? Is there such a thing as the death of a spirit, or is there, rather, a spiritual death? Going back to God's words in Genesis Chapter 2:

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” (vss. 6-7 NIV).

We know, of course, that God did not mean that the moment our first parents partook of the forbidden fruit they would fall down dead. No, that kind of death came later, sometimes hundreds of years after their fall from grace. What they both lost immediately after their disobedience was their fellowship and communion with God. The evidence of their disaffection was their hiding from God. The fellowship, communion, and intimacy they experienced with God as He joined them in the cool of the day (Hebrew, “wind [rûah] of the day”) occurred prior to their fall from grace, and likely toward evening, when their work in the garden was done for the day, perhaps at dusk.

After their fall from grace, that kind of fellowship, communion, and intimacy with God ceased. With repentance, however, their relationship with God could be re-established, but their eventual demise inevitable.

In conclusion, spiritual death does not mean death of a human being's spirit. It does, however, mean that the human spirit will not and cannot experience the kind of life God intends for it until there is reconciliation with God.

[I]f anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ . . . (2 Corinthians 5:17-18, excerpts, NIV).

  • I really appreciate your answer and agree. Further, I believe that the soul, while it did not die in the Garden, now needs to be restored (brought into subjection to the Spirit) with the goal of maturing into the image of Christ. Thanks for your insights.
    – dmingo
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 4:23

Several statements from the Bible give context to God's statement regarding the "day" that Adam would die. God, being eternal and knowing the end from the beginning, does not see things from the same perspective we do.

Hebrew "י֛וֹם/yowm"

The Hebrew word "yowm", translated as "day" in Genesis 2:17, is also sometimes translated as "year" or as "time" (more like "era" or "age" or "epoch"). Its meaning is broader than the narrow window "day" in English gives it. This is a requisite understanding to comprehend the application of the Biblical reckoning outlined in the following texts.

A Day represents a Millennium

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:4, KJV)

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8, KJV)

The Bible teaches that God sees a thousand years as if they were a day. In fact, we have further evidence of this in the Psalms.

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psalm 2:7, KJV)

These words represent the joyful announcement from God, who appears eager to declare that the time is at hand, that God's Son was to be begotten in that "day." Again, this is the Hebrew word "yowm." And those who make careful study and correct some of the popular errors on the typical chronology charts will discover, in amazement, that this announcement occurs almost exactly 1000 years before Jesus' birth in 4 BC. The "day" was 1000-years long.


While some may argue (correctly, I believe) that Adam died spiritually on the literal day he ate the forbidden fruit, it is well within the Biblical hermeneutic to regard God's announcement as applicable to a 1000-year period of time. As Adam died at the age of 930, the prophecy was fulfilled according to God's word.

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