When I was preparing to preach on the virgin birth of Christ during Advent last month, I returned to reflect on Genesis 3:15, the text known as the protoeuangelion or “first gospel” in the Scriptures. It is the second of two verses in which the Lord pronounces His curse upon the serpent:
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
Over the years, I have taught on and from this verse more times than I can count. But, as I considered it last month in light of the virgin birth, one particular aspect of it suddenly jumped off the page at me, something about the promise that I hadn’t seen until I had looked at it through the lens of the virgin birth: its exclusive focus on the woman, or mother of the promised offspring (lit. ‘seed’).
God promises a Redeemer who will be the woman’s (“her”) offspring, but He makes no mention of Adam or any other man as the father of that offspring, does He? This omission of any reference either to Adam or any father in the promise is unexpected. Adam was standing right there with Eve when the Lord pronounced this curse. So, why would the promise of the serpent’s overthrow be couched in exclusively matrilineal terms like this, especially in light of the consistent Old Testament patrilineal preference?
I can think of only one explanation for this: the same God who made the promise of Genesis 3:15 had already determined that this promised conquering seed would enter the field of His conflict through a virgin birth. Not until the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary in Nazareth (Luke 1:26—38), can we fully understand the Reason for the surprising omission in Genesis 3:15.
As I considered this last month, I was once again deeply encouraged by the coherence and consistency of Scripture. I’ve been studying the Bible for 30 years now, and the more I do, the more I am able to see its coherence, and this greatly strengthens my confidence that it is in fact the Word of God. SDG