How are we to understand when death came into existence? For instance, before the Fall was their growth - Adam&Eve, animals and plants.
When God told Adam of death (Gen 2:15-17), did Adam understood what 'surely die' meant since he had not experienced any form of death at that point?
Excellent question and one which I have occasionally pondered too.
1. I believe that "death" was non-existent until Adam was cursed for his disobedience. (cf. Gen 3:17; Rom 8:18-21)
2. Experiencially, Adam was not familiar with "death" because there was no death in the animal kingdom and of course with man. Therefore, what I'm left with is merely speculation. It is possible that intuitively
through the Spirit Adam had some form of knowledge of death, else the threat of it would have been meaningless to him. OR... as it is the case in all of Scripture, the recorded accounts are not complete, i.e., ALL that God spoke to Adam was not written and thus it is possible that God explained to Adam what death was.
This is one of those questions which we must be satisfied with not knowing.
There are some, of course, who begin with an erroneous presupposition and use the lack of biblical information to support a view also not taught in Scripture. For example, there are those who believe that there were humans on earth long before Adam and thus since "death" must have made sense to him, death among animals and humans pre-dated Adam, etc., etc., ad nauseam. Arthur Custance was one such persons who held to a Gap Theory
of creation and there have been others who held to a similar view.