The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 1


IV. Satan Himself the Undercover Tempter in Eden

It is difficult to conceive of Eve’s holding converse with a groveling snake, as we know it today, or giving heed to it. But we can understand her fascination with a radiant creature, appearing like an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14)—and apparently possessing supernatural knowledge, along with its disconcerting questions. Tradition has come to portray a slithering snake and a shining apple in connection with the Fall—the former based on a misconception; the latter a pure fabrication. Thus this tragic episode is made the butt of the jeers and jokes of the infidel and the target of the critic’s attacks. But let us turn from all such trivia, as we reverently seek the truth. CFF1 48.4

The scene of this artful and crafty temptation in Eden was laid amid the glories of the significant trees of the Garden. And the undercover tempter was none other than Satan himself, working through the medium of an enchanting “serpent” (Hebrews nachash)—the name implying fascination or enchantment 1—evidently on the order of a saraph. 2 The enchanting serpent of Eden was clearly not the writhing snake of today, now slithering along on its belly. It was then a creature of glorious beauty, more “subtil” (Hebrews ‘aram, wise) than any other creature in Eden, possessing powers and capacities no longer enjoyed. CFF1 49.1

So this most attractive and intelligent of all creatures, then doubtless having wings, like the saraph, was the dazzling medium that attracted the attention of Eve and to which she paid such deference. But back of it was none other than the old “serpent” (2 Corinthians 11:3), here operating under a guise. After its cruel achievement, Satan’s tool was cursed by God and then made to glide and spiral along on its belly (Genesis 3:14), and has ever since been a loathsome, writhing reptile. That was one of the secondary results of the Fall. 3 CFF1 49.2