Questions From Readers
● Genesis 3:22 suggests that others in heaven besides Jehovah possessed some special knowledge of good and bad. Is that so?
It appears that, not only Jehovah, but also his only-begotten Son had knowledge of good and bad in the sense meant in Genesis.
After Adam and Eve had sinned Jehovah passed judgment on them. Then God said: “Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad, and now in order that he may not put his hand out and actually take fruit also from the tree of life and eat and live to time indefinite,—”—Gen. 3:22.
The first human pair were not devoid of knowledge of good and bad. God had told them that it would be wrong or bad to eat of the fruit of one designated tree; conversely, to obey God was good. (Gen. 2:16, 17) So the particular “knowledge” indicated by the “tree of the knowledge of good and bad” involved a self-determining of what is good and bad. On this, Professor T. J. Conant wrote: “By disregarding the divine will, and deciding and acting on his own, man chose to know for himself what is good and evil.” Yes, Adam and Eve rejected God’s determination and chose to set up their own standard of what was good and what was bad.
Yet what about God’s statement, “The man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad”?
Some have thought that God was here using the plural of majesty, as a human king might say “We are not pleased” when referring just to himself. There is, though, another possibility that appears to have strong Scriptural support.
In Genesis 1:26 Jehovah said: “Let us make man in our image.” The Scriptures point to the conclusion that God was here speaking to his only-begotten Son, who later came to earth as Jesus. This one, the Word, was God’s master worker through whom all other things were made. (John 1:1, 3; Col. 1:15, 16; Prov. 8:22-31) The similarity of expression in Genesis 3:22 suggests that Jehovah was again speaking to the one closest to him, his only-begotten Son.
If this is so, it would indicate that the Word already had “knowledge of good and bad.” From his long and intimate experience with Jehovah, the Son certainly learned well his Father’s thinking, principles and standards. Convinced of his Son’s acquaintance with and loyalty to these, Jehovah may have granted him some latitude, also, in handling matters without direct consultation with the Father in each instance. So the Son would to this extent be able and authorized to determine what was good and bad. However, he would not be setting up a standard that conflicted with Jehovah’s.
With Adam and Eve, their coming to know good and bad involved breaking Jehovah’s command and rejecting his standards. For this they deserved to die and were so sentenced.
In the New World Translation and some other versions, Genesis 3:22 ends with a dash. This indicates that God did not put in the record a statement of what should be done. Instead, his words stop and the next Ge 3 verse 23 describes the action itself; he drove Adam and Eve out of the garden. So their independent standard of good and bad was not like that of Jehovah and his Son. Rather, it was one that led them to misery.—Jer. 10:23.