The first genuinely eschatological statement in Scripture occurs very early in the biblical record of God’s revelation: in Genesis 3:15. In keeping with the progressively unfolding nature of revelation, this eschatologically-significant statement lacks the specificity of later revelation. At this stage in God’s unfolding revelation the coming Redeemer is not sharply exhibited.; Later revelation will gradually fill out the picture, a picture not perfectly full until Christ actually comes at his first advent. Yet the broad outlines drawn by this original eschatological statement are clear enough, particularly in light of the fuller New Testament revelation.
Orthodox Christians recognize that “the seed of the woman” in Genesis 3:15 refers to Christ. Here Scripture promises that he will crush his great enemy — undoubtedly Satan, “the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan” (Rev 12:9; 20:2), who heads up his evil kingdom which opposes God and his righteous kingdom. This verse portrays in one sentence a mighty struggle between the woman’s seed (Christ and his kingdom) and the serpent’s seed (Satan and his kingdom). Although there must be a specific reference to Christ as the Seed (the Hebrew suffix on “heel” is masculine singular), clearly here we have reference to a collective seed, as well. Eve is called the “mother of all living” (Ge 3:20). Cf. Mt 25:40, 45; Lk 10:18; Jn 8:44; 15:1–7; Ac 13:10; Ro 16:20; 1Co 12:12–27; 1 Jn 3:10; Rev 12:7–9. Furthermore, we must see the conflict between Adam and Satan, Abel and Cain, the Sethites and Cainites, Noah and Nimrod, Abraham and the Chaldeans, Israelites and Canaanites, Christians and pagans.
In his book Interpreting Prophecy (p. 11), Philip Hughes comments: “This first gospel promise, therefore, despite the terse and figurative language in which it is expressed, provides a true perspective of the whole sweep of human history.” In this verse we witness God establishing the covenant of grace in history. Later New Testament revelation records this prophecy’s fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Christ; it is not still awaiting some distant fulfillment (1Jn 3:8; Heb 2:14; Col 2:14,15).
In this verse we see history’s underlying struggle as Satan resists God’s creational and redemptive purposes. Anthony Hoekema cites Genesis 3:15 over against postmillennialism, asserting that “the expectation of a future golden age before Christ’s return does not do justice to the continuing tension in the history of the world between the kingdom of God and the forces of evil” (Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 180). But he only considers one aspect of this biblical statement, for despite the fact of historical struggle, this poetic datum points to a victorious issue by the woman’s seed. After all, later revelation develops the nature of the struggle and its outcome in history. In addition, the verse seems clearly to relate Satan’s death blow to Christ’s heel-wound, his crucifixion, which occurs at his first coming. Why then may we not refer this victory to Christ’s first coming and his kingdom’s establishment (cf. Col 2:15; Ro 16:20)?
Thus, here we have at prophecy’s very inception the certain hope of victory. Just as Adam’s fall has a world-wide negative effect, so does God’s salvation: because of the work of the Last Adam in arising from the dead (Ro 5:15ff; 1Co 15:22, 45). Satan’s crushing does not await Christ’s consummational victory over Satan. The superior strength and glory of Almighty God the Creator through Jesus Christ will progressively overwhelm Satan the Destroyer, his nefarious kingdom, and its evil effects.