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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris

Mother of All Living

And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. (Genesis 3:20, New King James Version)

I love to read the first 11 chapters of Genesis. They remind us of God’s perfect original design for our world

and explain when, where, and how things went wrong. Even though I’ve read them many times, my Heavenly Father continues to graciously reveal new things about them to me. Recently, the Lord drew my eyes to Genesis 3:20, which I have always read through without much thought. However, I now see it differently, and I want to share with you what the Lord has shown me about this verse.

First, you should know that this was not the first name that Adam had given Eve. At the moment he first laid eyes on her, Genesis 2:23 records Adam as saying, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” If you read it very carefully, the passive voice reveals Adam’s focus on flesh instead of spirit. Yes, she was taken out of him, but Who did the taking? There is no record of Adam praising or thanking God for this gift. If Adam crowned creation, Eve was the precious crown jewel, the final touch in God’s creative masterpiece. Eve’s creation was unique in that God did not merely speak her into existence, but sculpted her beauty with His own hands. She was not made from the dust of the earth, but from a man who had been created in the image of God and ruled over the earth.

When He made Eve, God really outdid Himself. However, rather than acknowledging the Creator’s brilliance, or even the creation herself, Adam chose to focus on himself. Why was Eve valuable to Adam? Because she was from his bones and his flesh. The name he gave her, Woman, was a constant reminder that she was of, from, and for Man. Adam did not mention how it was “not good” when he was alone. He did not notice God’s masterful craftsmanship. Instead, Adam focused on his own flesh, the raw material for God’s culmination of His creative work. When Adam decided to begin calling the woman Eve in Genesis 3:20, it demonstrated his newfound humility, a significant departure from the self-centered man of Genesis 2:23.

What was the reason for Adam’s change of heart? In short, he was humiliated by his sin. But there’s a lot more going on here. To understand the meaning of the verse, we must recognize its setting. When and where does this name change take place? It actually happens in the Garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned against God, but before they were evicted from paradise. Let’s pick the story up there.

When Adam and Eve consumed the forbidden fruit, they brought sin and death into the world. It was just the two of them, and now that they had sinned, they would surely die. Eve was humiliated by her sin, shamed and afraid in her nakedness, and had just heard God pronounce judgment on her. Scripture doesn’t say it explicitly, but I think that is probably the first time a person cried. When I picture them in the garden at that moment, in shock at God’s righteous judgment, and still in their fig leaves awaiting animal skins, it is hard to imagine anything other than Eve falling to the earth, sobbing uncontrollably as the gravity of her decision becomes apparent. But it is in that moment that Adam changes her name to “Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.”

Name changes in the Bible aren’t unheard of. Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, and Ben-Oni became Benjamin. But when Adam changed the woman’s name to Eve, it represented more than just some husbandly encouragement after a difficult day. Of course, biologically speaking, Eve would be the mother of all humanity. But this would not have been encouraging to her. Remember, God had told her in Genesis 3:16, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children.” While hearing “the mother of all the living” may have consoled a barren woman, this was not likely the case with Eve.

I don’t think Eve’s name change was about biological reproduction. God had already commanded them to be fruitful and multiply. He had already prophesied that she would have a Seed. God’s message was clear, despite their sin, Eve would still bear children.

I think when Adam called the woman Eve, he was speaking prophetically and foretelling the gospel. God said in Genesis 3:15 that He would “put enmity between [the serpent] and the woman, and between [the serpent’s] seed and her Seed; He shall bruise [the serpent’s] head, and [the serpent] shall bruise His heel.” It was this ultimate Seed, Jesus, who came to give humanity “life and life more abundantly” (John 10:10). When Adam and Eve brought death into the world, Adam looked ahead through Eve to her Seed who would bring life. Thus, while Eve was biologically the mother of all the dying, she was spiritually the mother of all the living, because she contained the seed of the Messiah. In declaring this truth, Adam became the first prophet. Adam’s prophecy remains an encouragement today. Although things may seem hopeless at times, we can be encouraged that God, who knows the end of a thing from the beginning, is working all things together for the good of those who love Him. While we live in a fallen world, Jesus, the Seed of the woman, has come to give us life and life more abundantly, restoring us to the fellowship with our Heavenly Father, and preparing us for eternal life in paradise with Him!


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