Considering that God told Adam and Eve before the Fall to be fruitful and multiply, is it possible that they had children before Cain and Abel?
This is a great question, reaching all the way through the Old and New Testaments, with tremendous bearing on the Plan of Salvation.
The verse in question is found in Genesis 1:28:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
This command was given to Adam and Eve on the very day they were created (Gen. 1:31), yet Cain and Abel were both conceived after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden (Gen. 4:1-2). So the question is, did Adam and Eve conceive children not recorded in Scripture prior to their disobedience in the Garden?
Our first clue is found in Genesis chapter three. Following their disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit, God says to Eve:
Gen. 3:16 …I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children…
The implication is that Eve had not yet had any children, although the phrase, “greatly increase your pains,” could suggest a comparison between children to be born with childbearing already experienced.
However, after God gives Adam and Eve the punishments and repercussions of their sin (Gen. 3:16-19), Adam names his wife. He had already named the animals, and he had named Eve insofar as what kind of creature she was (Gen. 2:28); but now he gives her a personal name. This tells us that all the events of the Fall in chapter three took place very soon after Eve’s entrance into the world. Knowing each other’s names would almost certainly precede a deeper intimacy.
Not only so, but the name Adam gives his God-given wife reflects the role she would play in the near future but had not yet experienced. He names her “Eve,” meaning, “mother of all living,” because “she would become the mother of all the living” [Heb.: perfect tense] (Gen. 3:20). The perfect tense indicates the results to come of a previous action. That one verse alone tells us that the experience of motherhood still lay in her future.
The New Testament confirms this. The apostle Paul writes:
1 Cor. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Paul’s point is that all mankind, as descendants of Adam and Eve, has inherited sin and death. That would not be the case if some children were born to Adam and Eve before the Fall. The descendants of those children would not have inherited the sin nature, would not die, and would not be in need of a Savior—Jesus Christ. But the reality is:
Rom. 3:10 …“There is no one righteous, not even one…”.
We are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, through whom we have inherited sin and death.
1 Cor. 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!