The Two Seeds
In Genesis 3, we have the story of the Fall. Mankind breaks God’s command, thus breaking their relationship with him. In Genesis 3:14–19, we have the fallout from this sin. God pronounces judgment and warnings to each of the offending parties:The man, woman, and serpent—the creature who placed doubt into the woman’s mind.
In verse 15 we read that there will be hostility between the seed (or offspring) of the the serpent and the seed (or offspring) of the woman. Because of sin and evil entering the world, there will be a struggle between the two respected descendants. This struggle will bring pain to both parties, but the serpent’s head will be crushed—a fatal blow. Sometimes called the protoevangelium, this verse describes the consequences of sin on humanity, while also setting up the victory found in Jesus Christ.
The rest of the biblical text seems to flesh out the struggle between these two seeds. Sometimes the seed is a person, a family, or a nation. At times the serpent’s seed will win, and other times the woman’s seed will win. But throughout it all, the promise of Genesis 3:15 remains, and that victory will be with the seed of the woman.
Early in the Old Testament, this struggle is manifested between individuals. Cain represents the seed of the serpent when he kills Abel, his brother who represents the seed of the woman.
Noah and his family are chosen as the new seed of the woman, as the rest of the world has chosen to go down the path of the serpent. Later, Abraham’s family is chosen to carry on the seed of the woman.
When Abraham’s descendants are in Egypt, they multiply to the size of a nation. And in the Exodus, the battle between the seeds is raised to a national level. Israel is shown to be the seed of the woman, while Egypt—the oppressors and enslavers of Israel—represent the seed of the serpent.
The battle between David and Goliath does a great job highlighting the battle between the two seeds. Goliath, dressed in scales like a serpent, curses David and Yahweh on behalf of his god Dagon. David, recognized as the seed of the woman, knocks the serpent-man down and removes his head.
Over time, the nation of Israel—her kings and her people—behave less like the seed of the woman and more like the seed of the serpent. So when the nation is led into exile, the biblical text focuses on individuals who are behaving like the seed of the woman. People like Jeremiah, Daniel, and Nehemiah show how the seed of the woman can be faithful in the heart of the kingdom of the serpent.
This faithfulness would lead to the return from exile. The remnant would rebuild Jerusalem and restore the seed of the woman into a nation. Unfortunately, these people were still under the rule of the empires—Babylon, Persian, and Roman.
In the New Testament, the seed of the woman is Jesus Christ. He is born of a woman, and is the promised Messiah who will crush the head of the serpent. And in his ministry, he shows the power over the seed of the serpent, casting out demons several times.
When Jesus is arrested, beaten, and hung up on the cross, it seems as though the seed of the serpent will win. Jesus is executed at the hand of the Roman Empire and by the charges leveled against him by the Jewish leaders—both of whom are portrayed as seeds of the serpent in this story. But at his resurrection, Jesus shows that the serpent’s best bite could not keep him down.
The followers of Jesus continue this battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. As Paul describes in Ephesians 6:12, the battle against the seed of the serpent is spiritual in nature:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
The battle between the two seeds continues in the book of Revelation, but it is there that the final victory is described. The agents of evil are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20) and the seed of the woman is gathered in the New Creation (Revelation 21).
Throughout the Bible, the seed of the woman has struggled against the advances of the seed of the serpent. But the promise found in Genesis 3:15 remained. The victory of Jesus—the seed of the woman—over the seed of the serpent was promised in Genesis, occurred on the cross, and will be consummated in the Day of the Lord.Tweet