Genesis 2, Adam and Eve, and Authority

by Matt Slick

Genesis 2 sometimes comes up when examining the issue of women pastors and elders.  This is because the 1 Tim. 2:12-13 says,

  • "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve." The issue of authority is tied to Adam being created first; therefore, it is not merely a culturally related teaching.  In support of their position, the egalitarians (those who say that women can be pastors and elders) deny that Adam had any authority over Eve at all.  They deny this because if he did, then it would work against their position that males and females in the church are completely equal in roles since Paul relates the authority issue to Adam.  Is their claim correct that Adam was not over Eve?  Let's take a look at the text in question.
  • "Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die. 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man, 23 And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” (Gen. 2:15-23).

We know from Genesis 2 that Adam was made before Eve.  We also know that it was Adam who was told to keep The Garden and cultivate it.  Part of God's command to Adam to keep the Garden was to name the animals.  This was not Eve's role.  She was later made to be a helpmate to Adam and assist him in the calling God had given him--not the other way around.  "For indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake." (1 Cor. 11:9).

Naming Animals is an act of Dominion

Adam named the animals.  Eve did not.  Naming them was his first act of dominion, and it is a sign of authority; and it was God who brought the animals to Adam so that Adam could accomplish what God had commanded.

If the egalitarians are correct then, there should be no expression of authority of Adam over Eve in any way--at least not before the Fall.  But, since we see Adam expressing his dominance over the animals by naming them and we see that Adam names Eve, we can then conclude that Adam's expressed dominance over Eve by his calling her 'woman' before the Fall and 'Eve' after it. Remember, as God brought the animals to Adam, he also brought Eve to Adam. "And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. 23 And the man said, 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.  She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of Man.'” (Gen. 2:22-23). Also, "Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living." (Gen. 3:20). As God called the light day and the darkness night, so Adam called Eve woman.

Let's take a look at verses that deal with assigning names.

  1. Gen. 1:5, "And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night."
  2. Gen. 1:8, "And God called the expanse heaven."
  3. Gen. 1:10, "And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas."
  4. Gen. 4:26, "And to Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh."
  5. Gen. 17:5, “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham.  For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations."
  6. Gen. 17:15, "Then God said to Abraham, 'As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.'"
  7. Gen. 41:45, "Then Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, as his wife. And Joseph went forth over the land of Egypt."
  8. 2 Kings 23:34, "And Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim . . . "
  9. 2 Kings 24:17, "Then the king of Babylon made his uncle Mattaniah, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah."
  10. Dan. 1:7, "Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach, and to Azariah Abed-nego."
  11. Isaiah 62:2, "And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will designate."
  12. John 1:42, "He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter)."

So, does assigning names in the biblical context imply some sort of authority?  It sure seems to be the case.  We see God naming his creation.  Then we see Adam, made in the image of God, also naming creation.  He named the animals expressing his dominion over them just as God expressed his dominion over creation by naming the day, night, heaven, earth, and seas.  We see Adam calling his helpmate Woman and then naming her Eve.

Also, in the verses above we see God exercising his authority and changing Abram's name to Abraham and Sarai to Sara.  We see Pharaoh named Joseph as Zaphenath-paneah.  Pharoah changed Eliakim to Hehoiakim after making him a king (he has the authority over him so as to make him king).  The king of Babylon changed Mattaniah's name to Zedekiah after he made him King.  The Commander of the officials changed the names of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  Jesus changed Cephas' name to Peter (obviously Jesus had authority over Peter).

So, does naming and changing someone's name designate a measure of authority?  Absolutely, which is why Adam was giving that authority and he exercised it in assigning names.

  • "animals and birds are paraded before the man by the divine Zookeeper for the man to name them, thereby exercising his authority over them."1
  • "In ancient times, to name something or someone implied having dominion or ownership (see 17:5,15; 41:45; 2Ki 23:34; 24:17; Da 1:7)."2
  • "It is an act of authority to impose names (Dan. 1:7), and of subjection to receive them."3
  • "First, animals were created as the man’s companions. They were under human authority (the man named them in v 20), but it was intended that they should not be exploited (cf. on 1:24–31).4

Egalitarians object, yet there is 1 Tim. 2:12-14

Still, the egalitarians will object and say that an absolute and total equality in all things exists between men and women in the church and the created order, and Adam's naming animals and naming Eve has nothing to do with it.  But, is that what is implied in Paul's words in 1 Tim. 2:12-14? "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression." Notice that Paul says he does not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man because Adam was created first, then Eve.  Obviously, in the mind of Paul the issue of authority is tied to the created order.  This is not merely a cultural phenomenon.

Paul goes on to tie authority in with the created order in 1 Cor. 11:7-10, "For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels." This is what Paul says.  Authority is a huge issue with him.  Notice that Paul says a woman is to have a symbol of authority upon her.  Why?  Because Adam was created first.  Primacy in origin is related to authority.

What do others have to say about this?

  • "They [women] must be silent, submissive, and subject, and not usurp authority. The reason given is because Adam was first formed, then Eve out of him, to denote her subordination to him and dependence upon him; and that she was made for him, to be a help-meet for him.  And as she was last in the creation, which is one reason for her subjection, so she was first in the transgression, and that is another reason."5
  • "Using the biblical history of creation from Gen 2, Paul argued that Adam was chronologically prior to Eve. The fact of the chronological priority of Adam was established before the fall of humankind and the subsequent entrance of sin. The fall of humankind would not alter Adam’s chronological priority. The chronological priority of Adam becomes the support of Paul’s command that the women were to show a spirit of attentiveness to learning and were to avoid an attempt at domineering men. In 1 Cor 11:8 Paul had inferred the dependence of Eve from the chronological priority of Adam. Paul apparently felt that the spiritual privileges of men and women in Christ (Gal 3:28) do not negate differences due to creation. The designation of Adam as “formed first” reflects the Jewish practice of primogeniture, where the firstborn male inherited a double portion of the inheritance and the responsibility of leadership in the home and in worship (Deut 21:15–17). Paul’s point was that Adam’s status as the oldest carried with it the leadership role suitable for the firstborn son. Paul transferred this quality of leadership role in the congregation to the male."6
  • The prohibition of women teaching men seems to belong to the same context, although Paul here appeals more to what is appropriate and cites the Genesis story of creation. Two facts are brought out—Adam’s priority and Eve’s weakness in being deceived. The first points to God’s creative act in forming man before woman, although Paul does not here refer to the fact that Eve was intended as man’s helper and in no way inferior to him.7
  • Paul, therefore, says, “I do not permit a woman to be a teacher.” The context here has to do with church order, and the position of the man and woman in the church worship and work. The kind of teacher Paul has in mind is spoken of in Acts 13:1, I Corinthians 12:28, 29, and Ephesians 4:11, God-called, and God-equipped teachers, recognized by the Church as those having authority in the Church in matters of doctrine and interpretation. This prohibition of a woman to be a teacher, does not include the teaching of classes of women, girls, or children in a Sunday School, for instance, but does prohibit the woman from being a pastor, or a doctrine teacher in a school . . . The reason for the above position of the man in the Church and that of the woman, Paul says, is found in the original order of creation, and in the circumstances of the fall of man.8

Can this be any clearer?  I don't see how it could be.  Nevertheless, this position is not a popular one.

We must ask ourselves whether or not we want to submit to the authority of God's Word or submit God's Word to our wants, to our desires, and the political correctness that surrounds us.  Let's stick to God's word.

Objections Answered

  1. In Matt. 1:21, the Angel Gabriel names Jesus: "And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” Does this mean that Gabriel had dominion over Jesus?
    1. This argument fails to acknowledge that the Angel Gabriel is carrying out the commands of God.  Furthermore, two verses later it says, "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” This is a quote from Isaiah 7:14 in which says, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."
    2. Therefore, the Angel was not naming Jesus but declaring what God had already proclaimed.
  2. What about men who abuse their authority?
    1. Men who abuse their authority are in sin.  The Bible clearly teaches that men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  It is not the patriarchal teaching that promotes male abuse but the failure of men to live all of Scripture in that of selecting only parts of it to justify their sin.
  3. Nothing in Genesis shows authority before the fall.
    1. This is simply not true.  We clearly see God has demonstrated authority over his creation in bringing it into existence--naming it and its subsequent parts (light, darkness, land, seas, etc.,) and telling Adam to naming creations, cultivate the garden and keep it.  This is God's exercising authority over creation in naming it and over Adam in telling him what to do.  God gave instructions to Adam, and Adam gave God's instructions to Eve.  We know this because in Genesis 3 we see where Satan tempts Eve, and Eve repeats the instructions God gave to Adam in Gen. 2:16.  This means that Adam transmitted the instructions of God to Eve, and Eve repeated them to Satan.  Adam served as God's authoritative representative to Eve.
  4. If being created first means authority, then the animals had authority over Adam since they came first.
    1. The issue of primacy and authority never deals with animals.  How does an animal exercise authority?   It can't.  Authority can only rest with persons.


____________________

  1. Mathews, K. A., The New American Commentary, vol. 1a, Genesis 1-11:26, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, p. 215.
  2. Compton's Interactive Bible NIV, SoftKey Multimedia Inc., 1996.
  3. Henry, M., Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, Ge 2:18, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996.
  4. Carson, D. A., New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, rev. ed. of The New Bible Commentary, 3rd ed., edited by D. Guthrie and J.A. Motyer, 1970, 4th ed., Ge 2:18, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994.
  5. Henry, M., 1 Ti 2:9, 1996.
  6. Lea, T. D., and H.P. Griffin, The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Timothy, and Titus, vol. 34, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, p. 100.
  7. Carson, D. A., 1 Ti 2:9, 1994.
  8. Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, 1 Ti 2:11, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.
  • 1. Mathews, K. A., The New American Commentary, vol. 1a, Genesis 1-11:26, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, p. 215.
  • 2. Compton's Interactive Bible NIV, SoftKey Multimedia Inc., 1996.
  • 3. Henry, M., Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, Ge 2:18, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996.
  • 4. Carson, D. A., New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, rev. ed. of The New Bible Commentary, 3rd ed., edited by D. Guthrie and J.A. Motyer, 1970, 4th ed., Ge 2:18, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994.
  • 5. Henry, M., 1 Ti 2:9, 1996.
  • 6. Lea, T. D., and H.P. Griffin, The New American Commentary: 1, 2 Timothy, and Titus, vol. 34, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, p. 100.
  • 7. Carson, D. A., 1 Ti 2:9, 1994.
  • 8. Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, 1 Ti 2:11, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.

 

 

 

 
 
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