What Is Enmity? - Biblical Meaning and Importance

God put enmity between the serpent and the woman in the Garden of Eden, between its offspring and hers. Learn the biblical meaning and importance of enmity, and what it means for us today.
Christianity.com Editorial Staff
What Is Enmity? - Biblical Meaning and Importance

So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” - Genesis 3:14-15 NIV

 

Enmity Definition

Enmity can be essentially described as perpetual opposition or enemies, inherently at odds.

As defined in Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Enmity: deep-rooted hatred. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed" (Genesis 3:15). The friendship of the world is "enmity with God" (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15,16). The "carnal mind" is "enmity against God" (Romans 8:7). By the abrogation of the Mosaic institutes, the "enmity" between Jew and Gentile is removed. They are reconciled, are "made one" (Ephesians 2:15,16).

According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,

"Enmity" (hate) occurs as the translation of 'ebhah in Genesis 3:15, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed," and in Numbers 35:21,22, where the absence of enmity on the part of the man-slayer modifies the judgment to be passed on him.

In the New Testament "enmity" is the translation of echthra: Luke 23:12; Romans 8:7, "The mind of the flesh is enmity against God." James 4:4, "The friendship of the world is enmity with God" (because "the world" is preferred to God); in Ephesians 2:15,16, Christ is said to have "abolished in his flesh the enmity," by His cross to have "slain the enmity," that is, the opposition between Jew and Gentile, creating in Himself "one new man, (so) making peace."

 

Biblical Meaning of Enmity

The Bible talks of enmity in various situations. In the Garden of Eden, as God declares His condemnation upon the serpent, He says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers”. To the modern day, most women have an intuitive fear and aversion of snakes. The Bible says that women’s hatred of snakes has a spiritual cause and is a representation of the nature of enmity that endures between Satan and the human population.

James 4:4 states that “friendship with the world means enmity against God” (also reference 1 John 2:15-16). The corrupt practices of the earth are in defiance to the holiness of God. “Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God”. A similar warning is presented in Romans 8:7, which states that “the mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God.”

 

Importance of Enmity

The unfortunate state of humanity is that we live in a situation of enmity against God. As man adheres to his sin, he goes against his own benefit, denying himself and protesting against the almighty One attempting to save him (2 Timothy 2:25).

By recognizing the natural aversion between the flesh and righteousness of God, we can better avoid the self-deception of rationalizing earthly desires and impulses. Though we may fall into the enmity between sin and God, we are always given a chance of reconciliation through the sacrifice and salvation of His son, Jesus Christ.

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation" (Colossians 1:21-22).

 

Bible Verses about Enmity

  • So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  -Genesis 3:14-15 NIV
     
  • You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. -James 4:4 NIV
     
  • Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. -1 John 2:15-16 NIV
     
  • If anyone with malice aforethought shoves another or throws something at them intentionally so that they die or if out of enmity one person hits another with their fist so that the other dies, that person is to be put to death; that person is a murderer. The avenger of blood shall put the murderer to death when they meet. “ ‘But if without enmity someone suddenly pushes another or throws something at them unintentionally or, without seeing them, drops on them a stone heavy enough to kill them, and they die, then since that other person was not an enemy and no harm was intended. -Numbers 35:20-23 NIV
     
  • For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. -Ephesians 2:14-16 NIV

 


Originally published June 11, 2019.