Why would anyone ask such a silly question? Of course, Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden, it’s written right there in Genesis…um…ah…is it 3? I know it’s there somewhere, isn’t it?
Based on the sheer number of people who have claimed this, it must be found somewhere in the Bible, right? I’ve heard pastors, speakers, authors, and many other Christians confidently state that Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden of Eden.
The problem with this claim is that you’ll never find a Bible verse that teaches it. You read that correctly, the Bible never states that Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden. You may be reaching for your Bible right now to prove me wrong. Please do look it up, and if you find it, let me know, so I can apologize and correct this post.
Where Does This Idea Come From?
Since the Bible doesn’t make this claim, it’s impossible to know for sure where people get the idea from. In all likelihood, it comes from a misunderstanding of or making an inference from Genesis 3:8: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” (NKJV).
It seems likely that many people have just remembered some of the wording in this verse and assumed that it says Adam and Eve walked with God. But that’s not at all what is going on here. This verse appears immediately after our first parents rebelled against the Creator. They are not taking a leisurely stroll with God, they are hiding from Him as He comes to announce His judgment. Here is the verse in its entirety.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)
Even if this translation is accurate, which is debatable, it does not say that they walked with God.
Some people have inferred from this statement that they must have known what it sounded like to hear God walk in the Garden so they must have walked with Him before. But what did they actually hear that made them afraid? Adam said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10, ESV). Adam was ashamed to stand before God as he was now a sinner who was about to face his righteous God.
So what did they hear in the Garden? Was it God walking or was it something different? The ESV accurately captures Adam’s response in verse 10. It was the “sound of God” that Adam heard. Some scholars, such as J.J. Niehaus, have argued that the phrase translated as “the cool of the day” is better understood as referring a strong wind. If this is how the phrase should be translated, then God was not simply walking through the Garden. Instead, He manifested as a violent wind, perhaps not too different than how He spoke to Job out of the whirlwind (Job 38:1). Psalm 29 also uses strong imagery to show how the sound of the Lord acts upon nature like a powerful storm, breaking and bending trees and stripping off their leaves (Psalm 29:5–9, NET). Remember that the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost with a “rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2).
So if the strong wind idea is actually being conveyed by the Hebrew, then there is no textual basis for claiming that Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden in the cool of the day.
Another potential source for this idea is found in the statements made about those who did walk with God. For example, “Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:22, 24) and “Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). But even these passages do not necessarily imply that Enoch and Noah physically took walks with God. Yes, they could have done this if God made a physical appearance (called a theophany), as He did in other places (e.g., Genesis 12:7; 18:1). However, the “walk” in these passages should probably be understood in a figurative sense. That is, Enoch and Noah lived faithful lives.
In a similar way, we are told in the New Testament to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). This walking refers to living a life that pleases God. If used in this sense, Adam and Eve did “walk” with God prior to sin because there was no fracture in their relationship with God. Perhaps some people may have this figurative sense in mind when they speak of our first parents walking with God. However, most people inevitably mention them walking in the cool of the day, so they aren’t thinking of it in the figurative sense.
Finally, there are many who use the idea of Adam and Eve actually walking with God to stress the theological point of man’s closeness to God prior to sin in order to contrast that with man’s lost condition after sin. But there is no need to make the text say something it doesn’t. From this view, Adam and Eve were with God in the Garden for a while and they had the privilege of regularly hanging out with Him.
The problem with this scenario is that Adam and Eve were almost certainly not in the Garden very long. God had told them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). They were created with perfect bodies and were husband and wife on the day they were created. So it would not have taken long for Eve to conceive, yet Cain was not conceived until they were banished from the Garden.
Could Adam and Eve have actually taken walks with God in the Garden? Of course, since God is capable of making physical appearances, but we need to be careful not to assert that the Bible directly teaches this. We also should not assume that God was at their beck and call so that He would come around for a stroll whenever they wanted Him there. Maybe He was physically there throughout the short time that they were in the Garden, but I have my doubts.