“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). This has been called “Protoevangelium,” which is the Latin meaning “first gospel.” This is the first foretelling of Satan’s defeat in the Bible. Though in embryonic form, it is the first prophecy concerning the Messiah.
Satan tempted Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). Eve was deceived (Genesis 3:13; 1 Timothy 2:14). Adam was not (1 Timothy 2:14). Yet, he heeded the voice of his wife [(Genesis 3:17) perhaps, to keep peace at home?] The results: (1) Innocence was lost (Genesis 3:9-11); (2) The earth became a much more difficult place on which to dwell (Genesis 3:16-19); (3) Man lost the paradise of Eden (Genesis 3:22-24); (4) Man lost access to the tree of life, and thus death entered the world (Genesis 3:22-24; 1 Corinthians 15:20-21); (5) Man became more distanced from God (cf. Genesis 3:8; Isaiah 59:1-2).
However, this passage looks to the defeat of Satan. Let’s notice…
1. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.”
The term “enmity” refers to a state of hostility. A state of hostility would exist between: (a) you and the woman. The “you” is Satan. “The woman” is Eve, who is likely being used as a representative of the human race (cf. Genesis 3:20). (b) your seed and her seed. “Your seed” refers to those who follow Satan (cf. John 8:44). “Her seed” refers to righteous descendants of Eve. This enmity is pictured in the immediate offspring of Eve, Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-ff; cf. 1 John 3:10-12). “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:10-12).
Watch the fact that it says, “I will put enmity.” The “I” is God. Those who follow God are different from those who follow Satan. This creates enmity. The first recorded murder was over religious differences (Genesis 4:1-ff). The Christian is instructed “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). This is a source of enmity. Jesus told His disciples, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). Jesus prayed to the Father concerning the disciples, “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14; cf. 17:16).
2. “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel”.
This considers the victory man will ultimately have over the adversary. Though enmity exists, victory is certain.
Notice that the pronoun “He” is singular. The term “seed” is likewise singular. These terms could refer to the collective righteous offspring of Eve. However, I would suggest that there is a specific one that is in view, and that one is the Messiah. Jesus was born of woman (Galatians 4:4), through a lineage that goes back to Eve (Luke 3:23-38; cf. Genesis 3:20).
It is possible that Eve, herself, may have anticipated this Messiah. She may have thought that she herself would give birth to this Messiah. When Cain was born, she said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord” (Genesis 4:1). The literal reading is “I have acquired a man the Lord.” Does this mean “by the help of the Lord”? Or, does this mean, “as the Lord has promised”? Some think that Eve thought that this was the one, the head bruiser. James Burton Coffman has commented “Eve’s mention here of her tragically mistaken view that Cain would be the deliverer not only confirms the fact of the deliverer having been promised, but also the fact of Eve’s having believed it” (Genesis, p. 74 cf. The Mystery of Redemption, p. 33). If this was what she thought, she surely must have been disappointed when it became apparent that this was not the deliverer.
The contrast is between a bruised “head” and a bruised “heel”. Obviously, the first is more serious than the second is. James Burton Coffman has written, “If the awful suffering of Calvary was only the bruising of a heel, by comparison, the final overthrow and judgment of the devil must be absolutely incomprehensible. If the tragic awesome deeds at Golgotha were, in the relative sense, only the bruising of our Lord’s heel, how utterly awful must be the fate awaiting Satan and his followers”? [(The Mystery of Redemption, p. 18) on Satan’s followers being included see Matthew 25:41]. Dub McClish has written, “When Christ arose from the dead, He struck a deadly blow to Satan’s head, from which he can never recover. When the Lord returns to claim His own, He will forever seal the devil’s doom by casting him and all of his servants into the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 20:10; 21:8). Dim though it may be, God’s statement to Satan in Genesis 3:15 is distinct enough for us to see in it the glorious promise of hope…” (35th Annual Memphis School of Preaching Lectureship, p. 103).
The words of this prophecy are referenced one time in the New Covenant. Paul writing to the brethren in Rome encourages them by saying, “the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). What does this mean: (1) some think it has in view the final victory. J.W. McGarvey has written, “Life’s battle is brief, and the Christian soldier who is steadfast soon gains victory and is honorably discharged” (Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, p. 551). (2) Some think that the words are being used in context of congregational victory over troublemakers (Satan’s agents cf. 2 Corinthians 11:12-15). This does seem to be the context (read Romans 16:17-18). J.W. Shepherd commented saying, “If you do as directed in avoiding those who cause division, and will avoid those skilled in evil, be wise and skilled in good, then God will speedily bruise Satan under your feet” (Romans, p. 277). Franklin Camp wrote, “In Romans 16:20, Paul foresees the fall of Judaism and pictures it as the defeat of Satan” (The Work of the Holy Spirit in Redemption, p. 50).
Let us remember that we’re on the winning side. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).