Genesis 2:17—Why didn’t Adam die the day he ate the forbidden fruit, as God said he would?

Problem: God said to Adam, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). But Adam lived to be 930 years old after he sinned (Gen. 5:5).

Solution: The word “day” (yom) does not always mean a 24-hour day. For “one day (yom) is as a thousand years” (Ps. 90:4; cf. 2 Peter 3:8). Adam did die within a “day” in this sense. Further, Adam began to die physically the very moment he sinned (Rom. 5:12), and he also died spiritually the exact instant he sinned (Eph. 2:1). So Adam died in several ways, any one of which would fulfill the pronouncement of God (in Gen. 2:17).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.