The Gospel Preached to the Serpent

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.  

Genesis 3:15

Theologians call it the “protoevangelium”– the first gospel sermon ever preached.  After Adam and Eve sinned, when God heard the facts in the case, this was His immediate response.  God made a glorious promise, and our Christmas celebrations mark the opening act in fulfilling that promise.  As we rejoice in Christ over this Christmas celebration, we might find some bonus delights in this earliest gospel promise.  Here are a handful of points to consider.

The gospel was first announced as a curse.

When God asked Adam what he had done, Adam pointed at his wife and his wife pointed at the serpent.  Then, the Lord pronounced judgment on the serpent.

Photo by Anil Sharma on

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.  

Genesis 3:14-15

The serpent’s curse brought Adam and Eve hope.

Imagine them standing before God, trembling and ashamed for their sin, waiting for God to announce His judgment against them.  They knew God’s law:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.  

Genesis 2:16-17

The criminals stood in dread, waiting for God to pronounce the death sentence.  God sentenced the serpent first, and the curse on the serpent brought hope to the other criminals.  Because the judgment on the serpent gave the first hint of a Savior for mankind.[1]  How could there be enmity between the serpent and the woman if the death sentence was immediately executed?  And how could there be a “seed” of the woman if the woman was put to death?  And how could the woman’s seed bruise the serpent’s head if the law was carried out against her?  This curse on the snake must have given Adam and Eve their first hint that God had prepared grace for them.

Here was the dawning of the gospel day.  No sooner was the wound given than the remedy was provided and revealed.[2]

God cursed Satan with the promise of a Savior.

What a glorious curse!  For Satan hoped to draw humanity into his rebellion against God, to recruit an ally in the war against God.  And Satan’s opening move seemed to work well.  Adam and Eve sinned.  They hid from God.  Surely, God would judge them severely, and they, too, would become hostile to God.  But God had other plans.  Rather than destroy mankind or leave him to wallow in rebellion, God promised redemption.  But there’s a surprise here.  God didn’t make the promise of redemption to Adam and Eve.  Instead, he made the promise to Satan.  God promised Satan that He would redeem our fallen race and made this promise in the presence of Adam and Eve.  What a glorious gospel sermon was preached on that day

with Jehovah himself for the preacher, and the whole human race and the prince of darkness for the audience.[3]

The curse meant that Satan would always face opposition in the world.

That is the point of Satan’s gospel curse.  We tend to think that we are the ones who have been cursed by the opposition we face in the world from unbelievers.  But in reality, God cursed Satan with a seed that would oppose him.  The serpent and his seed will never overcome their opposition in our world. 

Thus, the “generation of vipers” who dominated the minds of the people in the day of Christ could never gain absolute authority over the consciences of men.  And when Jesus came, they watched their grip on the minds of the people so erode that a “sect” arose they could not stop.  Furthermore, God announced as part of Satan’s curse that his powers in this world would be limited to bruising the heel of the woman’s seed, while the woman’s seed would bruise Satan’s head. 

Consider then: Satan would never have a free hand in our world, would never wholly recruit the human race against God, would always face stiff opposition, and would eventually go down in defeat to the champion of the woman’s seed.  The curse on Satan, then, is the curse of frustrated purposes.  The gospel is Satan’s curse.

Satan faced a champion he could only wound

God raised up a spiritual seed to bruise the serpent’s head.  The history of the Old Testament is the history of God establishing the seed that would bring deliverance.

Photo by Anil Sharma on

And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.  

Genesis 21:12

Jesus is the promised seed.  He didn’t trample Satan as an individual but as head and representative of a new race of men – the seed of the woman.  Thus Galatians 3:16,

Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

And Satan’s only power against this seed is heel-bruising.  Thus, our Lord Jesus was wounded but not defeated.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

Isaiah 53:5 and I Peter 3:18

But even in this heel bruising, the serpent only does the work God bound him to do.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

Satan was the tool God used for bruising His Son.  Satan did an admirable job.  He called up every form of torture he could use and enlisted every bad actor he could recruit.  But in the end, he could only bruise the heel of our Savior.

The gospel curses Satan to thousands of years of failure and frustration, followed by total defeat.

The LORD God announced this curse to Satan at the dawn of time, then made Satan suffer through 4,000 years of futility.  For all those years, Satan bruised many heels but never overcame them.  God promised Satan that he would receive a mortal head wound after thousands of years of perpetual futility.  And to add to the insult, the Savior’s heel that the serpent wounds will be the heel to crush the serpent’s head.  How glorious is that!  And so, Satan is cursed by the gospel.

The gospel curse gives hope to believers.

Satan is not the seed of the serpent.  He is the serpent, and he has a seed. 

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.  

John 8:44

This seed of the serpent showed up almost immediately after the Fall.

Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother.  And wherefore slew he him?  Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.  

I John 3:12

And Jesus taught that these two seeds are mixed together in our world.

The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.  

Matthew 13:38-39

When Jesus struck that mortal wound to the serpent’s head, He assured us of two truths: judgment had finally come to the serpent, and the whole generation of vipers would ultimately be destroyed.  Neither the serpent nor his seed will prevail against us.

The conflict between the two seeds is genuine and dangerous.  We see it played out internally as the flesh wars against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.  And we see it played out externally in the continual warfare between the wicked and the godly in this world.  As Jesus taught us,

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.  Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord.  If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.  But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

John 15:18-21

But Jesus has the last word on this:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.  

John 16:33

And so, the promise of Genesis 3:15 assures us that we will triumph over the seed of the serpent.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.  

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  

I John 5:4 and Romans 8:35-39

[1] Gordon J. Wenham, “Genesis,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 63.

[2] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 14.

[3] C. H. Spurgeon, “Christ the Conqueror of Satan,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 22 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1876), 661.

One thought on “The Gospel Preached to the Serpent

  1. Kent Brandenburg

    I didn’t see the opportunity to post a comment on the recent posts, but I liked them all. I agree with you on fundamentalism. I don’t mind being called a fundamentalist. I know what they think it means. I generally defend fundamentalists. I liked your letter to your neighbors. I enjoyed your take on LDS defense of “Respect for Marriage,” and this one on Christmas. Thanks!


Comments are closed.