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Don Stewart :: What Does Genesis 3:15 Mean?

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Don Stewart
In the third chapter of Genesis we find one of the most important verses in Scripture.

And 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).

According to this verse, there will be enmity between the individual woman (Eve) and the serpent who deceived her. The word enmity indicates a blood feud. There will also be enmity between his seed and her seed. God promised that eventually the serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. However, the seed of the woman would also bruise (or crush) the head of the serpent. This will be a fatal blow. Who is the seed of the woman and who is the seed of the serpent? What do these predictions mean?

Seed Of The Woman

In Genesis 3, there is no explanation of the phrase the seed of the woman. The seed is to be understood as either one individual or a group of people whose appearance would be some time in the future. It was a promise of someone or some people to come.

1.Redeemed Humanity

Many commentators understand it to refer initially to redeemed humanity and then ultimately to Jesus Christ. Therefore the seed of the woman began with Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve. Cain, the first son, would not qualify because he was a murderer. The comment of Eve, upon the birth of the third son mentioned, Seth, seems to show that she understood Abel as part of the fulfillment of the promised seed.

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth, For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed (Genesis 4:25).

The ultimate seed of the woman would be Jesus Himself. Therefore, we have in Genesis 3:15, the first promise of a Redeemer. It is the beginning of a long line of prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. The Promised One would be from the woman's seed an indication of the eventual virgin birth of Christ.

2.Humanity In General

Some Bible students see that seed of the woman as referring to humanity in general. They believe that Cain was the beginning of the fulfillment of this prophecy that was eventually culminated in Christ.

3.Not Virgin Mary

The Latin Vulgate version of the Old Testament has an unfortunate translation in Genesis 3:15. It changes the pronoun from the masculine his to the feminine. This unfortunate translation gave wrongful support for the claims concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary. The idea that Mary was the seed of the woman has no basis in fact in the Scripture.

Bruised Heel

The seed of the serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. On the cross Satan bruised the heel of Christ, causing His death. Bruising suggests something that was not ultimate or final. Christ died on our behalf being made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He bore our judgment upon Calvary's cross and, in doing so, bruised His heel. Though wounded, the damage done to Jesus was not final, for He came back from the dead three days later.

Seed Of The Serpent

The phrase seed of the serpent also has various explanations. It does not mean the physical descendants of the Devil but rather those who are his spiritual descendants. There is no indication that Satan ever had any physical offspring.

Unredeemed Humanity

Some feel seed of the serpent speaks of unredeemed humanity beginning with Adam and Eve's first son Cain and continuing on to all those who oppose God. Jesus called the religious leaders of his day the children of the Devil (John 8:44).

Fallen Creatures

There is also the view that the seed of the serpent refers to the creatures who have fallen like Satan. These include demons and fallen angels.

Crushed Head

The seed of the woman will crush the serpent's head indicating Satan's ultimate defeat. This has different aspects.

1.At The Cross

The first stage of the Devil's defeat was at the cross. It was there where Satan was initially defeated. Jesus said:

Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out (John 12:31).

2.Second Coming

When Christ eventually returns to the earth, He will bind Satan and place him in the pit (Revelation 20:1-4).

3.Lake Of Fire

Eventually Satan will be cast into the lake of fire along with those who followed him (Revelation 20:7-10). Scripture looks forward to the day when the serpent's head will be crushed.

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly (Romans 16:20).


From an examination of Genesis 3:15 we can make the following conclusions.

1.The seed of the woman refers either to humanity in general or more specifically to redeemed humanity beginning with Abel. Most agree it has its ultimate fulfillment in Christ.

2.The bruised heel of the seed of the woman refers to the crucifixion of Christ.

The bruised head of the serpent speaks to the final judgment of Satan.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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