Are Adam and Eve in Heaven or Hell?


Adam and Eve are the first humans God created and they are the first people mentioned in the Bible. Readers know the pair as the first man and woman, and as the first to rebel against God, which they did in the Garden of Eden. Did Adam and Eve go to hell for their offense, or did God extend them grace and allow them to go to heaven when they died?

The Bible doesn’t clearly say if Adam and Eve went to heaven or hell. Most scholars plead ignorance when asked the question, but a few believe they went to heaven. In the latter perspective, Adam and Eve’s rebellion was willful, horrendous, and tragic, but God’s mercy and grace were more powerful.

What are the common arguments people make for why Adam and Eve went to heaven when they died? What are some examples of people who believe they went to heaven? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.

Adam and Eve statue
Why do some believe Adam and Eve went to heaven? See below

Reasons some people believe Adam and Eve went to heaven

People who believe Adam and Eve went to heaven don’t all reference the same Bible passage or verses because there aren’t any that clearly state that they did. Instead, some believe that certain biblical descriptions make allusions to Adam and Eve’s eternal destiny.

Others argue that such interpretations are inferring too much from what is stated. Below are four common reasons why some believe Adam and Eve went to heaven when they died.

  • Abel made an acceptable sacrifice to God. Genesis 4:4 reads, “and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering.” (ESV, emphasis added) Some people who believe Adam and Eve went to hell ask the question, how did Abel know how to make an acceptable sacrifice to God? Their answer is that he must have learned it from his parents, Adam and Eve. If this is true, then Adam and Eve worshiped God after they were expelled from Eden, and it’s likely that they are now in heaven.
  • God extended grace to Adam and Eve. After Adam and Eve sinned, and God announced punishments for them, and the serpent, Genesis 3:21 reads, “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” (ESV, emphasis added) Genesis teaches that Adam and Eve’s shame over their nakedness was a result of their rebellion against God. When God made coverings for their bodies, he was in effect covering the shame from their sin, and extending mercy and grace to them, which makes it likely that they are now in heaven.
  • God announced the first gospel to Adam and Eve: In Genesis 3:15 God said to 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.” (ESV, emphasis added) This verse is commonly referred to as the “proto-evangelion,” i.e., “the first gospel.” The gospel, meaning “good news,” is that the serpent would not ultimately be victorious, but God would be. Some who believe that Adam and Eve are in heaven argue that the pair didn’t just hear the first gospel, but God personally applied it to them. Others respond that God is announcing judgment on the serpent (cf. 3:14) and not directly speaking to Adam and Eve.
  • Christ preached the gospel to Adam and Eve after he died. This is the most controversial argument because there is significant disagreement about how to interpret the passage in question. Most of those who believe Adam and Eve are in heaven don’t cite this verse, but a few do. 1 Peter 3:18-19 read,

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimedd to the spirits in prison.” (ESV, emphasis added)

Why is 1 Peter 3:18-19 controversial? As stated above, some believe that this verse teaches that Christ proclaimed the gospel to people in hell after he died, which gave them chance to repent of their sin and put their faith in him for salvation. As the argument goes, Adam and Eve, realizing the errors of their ways, likely converted and are now in heaven.

However, many scholars believe that Christ is announcing judgment upon those in hell, not giving them another chance at conversion. Hebrews 9:27 teaches that people face judgment after death and don’t receive another chance after that: “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (ESV) Moreover, even if the text is describing a gospel proclamation, it makes no indication of who responded to it.

Adam and Eve expelled from Eden
Who believes Adam and Eve went to heaven? See below

What are some examples of people who believe Adam and Eve went to heaven?

Scottish theologian, Thomas Boston (1676-1732) said in a sermon:

“But in the general assembly of the firstborn in heaven, none of the saints who ever were or will be on the earth shall be missing. They will be all of them together in one place, all posses one kingdom, and all sit down together to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

There we shall see Adam and Eve in the heavenly paradise, freely eating of the tree of life; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the holy patriarchs, no more wandering from land to land, but come to their everlasting rest; all the prophets feasting their eyes on the glory of Him of whose coming they prophesied; the twelve apostles of the Lamb, sitting on their twelve thrones; all the holy martyrs in their long white robes, with their crowns on their heads; the godly kings advanced to a kingdom which cannot be moved; and those that turn many to righteousness, shining as the stars forever and ever.” [1]

Modern-day author and theologian, Randy Alcorn, in his highly-acclaimed book, Heaven, assume Adam and Eve will be in heaven:

“Understanding and anticipating the physical nature of the New Earth corrects a multitude of errors. It frees us to love the world that God has made, without guilt, while saying no to the world corrupted by our sin. It reminds us that God himself gave us the earth, gave us a love for the earth, and will delight to give us the New Earth.”

“Think for a moment what this will mean for Adam and Eve. When the New Earth comes down from Heaven, the rest of us will be going home, but Adam and Eve will be coming home. Only they will have lived on three Earths–one unfallen, one fallen, and one redeemed. Only they will have experienced, at least to a degree, the treasure of an original, magnificent Earth that was lost and is now regained.” [2]

References:
[1] As quoted in The Glory of Heaven by John F. MacArthur. p. 211.
[2] Heaven by Randy Alcorn. p. 154.
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