A Woman Called Eve

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mrs. Eve. At least, that is how I am known, and have been known for a very long time. But I am going to tell you something that may well surprise you, for my name was not Mrs. Eve when I was first created: my name was Mrs. Adam. The reason I can say this is because we can read in Genesis 5:2 that God created us male and female, and I was the female, and He blessed us, and called us “man” or “Adam.” So God named both of us “Adam”. You could say we were “Mr. and Mrs. Adam.”

I believe there are a lot of misconceptions about the man and me, and no wonder, for we were created a long time ago, and many things have happened since that time.

So I thought I would take you back to the time of my creation, to help you have a clearer understanding of who God made, and how He designed us to function in this world.

You can find the first words about us in Genesis 1:26-28.  You could call these words God’s blueprint for us and, as part of His design, He gave us the task of ruling over creation.  And He was very specific what we were to rule over, for He told us we were to rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves on the ground.  But we were not told to rule over each other.  Instead, we were to work together as a team on an equal basis in perfect harmony.

Having spoken these words, God then went to work by creating the man and placing him in a most beautiful Garden. I know, for I have lived in that Garden.

God then brought all the animals to the man for him to name them.  That was quite a task as you can imagine.  Now, I was not yet on the scene.  At least not as a separate human being.  After the man had named all the animals, God noticed that something was not good, for something, or rather someone, was missing from the man’s life. And God decided to do something about it, by providing the man with an “ezer.  This term has been translated as “helper”, as you can read in Genesis 2:18.  Interestingly, this same term “ezer” has often been used for God, as well as for armies and, in all these cases, these so-called “ezers” or “helpers”  have been the stronger, or superior party, who have come to help a weaker, or inferior party. 

Does that mean that God intended for me as the man’s “ezer” or “helper” to be the stronger or superior party?  No, for that would go against His design for myself and the man. For God did not create me to be superior to the man.  But neither did God create me to be inferior to the man. Therefore, in our case, God made me an “ezer kenegdo” or a “suitable, matching, fitting helper” or “strengthener”, since a better translation for the term “ezer” is “strengthener.”

The question is, how exactly did God make me?  First of all, He put the man to sleep. And, after the man had been put to sleep, God took a part of the man to form me.  Very likely, you will have read in Genesis 2:21-22 that I was made from the man’s “rib.” That is partly true, for the man recognised that I was “bone of his bones”.  But, at the same time, he recognised that I was “flesh of his flesh”, as you can read in Genesis 2:23.  And I am sure that every husband is very happy that we are not just bones but have some flesh on us as well.  So I am here to tell you that God made me not just from the man’s “rib” but from the man’s “side”, as we know from the original term “tselah”, which means “side” rather than “rib.”  And after God had removed the part that formed me, He finished creating the man as well.

We then worked together in the Garden as a team, on an equal basis, in perfect harmony. Every day, God would come to us and we would tell Him about our day.

But then one day things happened that changed everything.  For, on that day, we had a visitor in the Garden who spoke to me.  And because of his words, both the man and I disobeyed God, by eating from a tree we had been told not to eat from. Consequently, we became afraid of God and hid from Him. Thankfully, He still came to see us.  But He did have to let us know the consequences of our disobedience.

God told the man that it would be difficult to work the soil because of the curse that had been placed on it, as we know from Genesis 3:17. And He told me that as well, because I was working alongside the man and needed to know too. Furthermore, God told me that I would still have children, but giving birth to children would be more challenging because of sin. He then forewarned me that because of my now sinful nature, I would turn away from Him, and turn towards the man to have my needs met. And He also forewarned me that, because of his now sinful nature, the man would want to rule over me. You can read all of that in a correct translation of Genesis 3:16, which is as follows: 
I will multiply your toil and I will multiply your conception.
With effort you will bring forth children.
You will turn to your husband.
And he will rule over you.

And the man did begin to rule over me, by giving me a different name, as you can read in Genesis 3:20, for that is when he named me “Eve.”  But, as you have learned already, I was named “Adam” by God, together with the man, as a sign of our oneness, and God had never given the man the task of naming me.  He had only given him the task of naming the animals. Nevertheless, the man did go ahead and gave me a different name, and that is why I am now named “Eve.”

As you can imagine, that was truly a very sad day.  But yet, there was hope, for God had spoken to the serpent about “My Offspring”, or rather “My Seed”, as you can read in Genesis 3:15.  The truth is, I did have children but I was not the one to give birth to that promised “Seed.”  That promised “Seed” came through a descendant of ours, a young woman named Mary.

And when that “Seed” came, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, He restored what had been lost; our relationship with God and our relationship with each other, as equal partners, so we can once again live according to God’s Perfect Design, as given to us in Genesis 1:26-28. And, in the early Church I saw men and women serving alongside one another, in accordance with their spiritual gifts and abilities.  That is why we had a female Apostle named Junia, female Overseers or Pastors, such as Nympha and Chloe, as well as the two female overseers mentioned in the Second Letter of John, a female Teacher named Priscilla , a female Deacon named Phoebe, female Co-Workers of Paul, such as Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis.  And  female Prophets such as the daughters of Philip.

Sadly, I have seen a great change happening in the Church today, in that many women are told they cannot function in these roles, because of the so-called “headship” of the man. This term is very likely taken from I Corinthians 11:3
The head of every man is Christ. The head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

In the English language, the word “head” can mean “authority” or “power”.  In the Greek language, the word “head” could mean “authority” or “power” depending on the Greek term the author had chosen.  In the case of I Corinthians 11:3 Paul used a term “kephale” which means “source,” or “source of life.”  But it does not mean “authority” or “power.”

Here, Paul was not establishing an hierarchical order, an order of authority, but a chronological order, since Christ was the Source of life for the first man at Creation, from whom every human being has descended.  The first man was the source of life for the first woman at Creation. And God was the Source of life for Christ in His Incarnation.

Paul wrote this to defend the Creation account for, according to pagan belief, the woman had been made of a substance different from, and inferior to, the man, and Paul was correcting this error, but here he was not establishing authority of men over women.

Another example of the man as “head of the woman”, this time in the context of marriage, is in Ephesians 5:23
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the Church, of which He is the Saviour.

Here too, Paul used the term “kephale” which, as you have learned already, does not mean “authority” or “power”. Moreover, he told  husbands they are to follow Christ’s example as Head of the Church, and he connects Christ’s function as Head of the Church specifically to His function as Saviour, which is a sacrificial function and not a rulership function.  The husband’s function as “head of his wife” is, therefore, a loving, serving, ministering, nourishing, self-giving, sacrificial function, without even a hint of rulership or authority attached to it.

As for the woman’s function in marriage, we read in Ephesians 5:21-22
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

The Greek word for “submission” is “hupotasso” and means “aligning oneself with another”, “giving allegiance to another”, “tending to the needs of another”, “be supportive of another”, “be responsive to another”, “complying with the wishes of another”, or “responsible behaviour towards another”.

This submission is a voluntary action done by the wife, and is written in the context of submitting to one another in the Body of Christ.

The reason Paul wrote these words is because, in those days, even though married, women were still under their parental authority, and were required to worship the gods of their parental households. Paul encouraged these women, as believers, to separate themselves from their parental households, to align themselves with their husbands, and so to form new households under the Lordship of Christ.

I would like to mention I Timothy 14:34-35 as well, where we read that women are to be silent in the churches…. But must be in submission, as “the Law” says.

The reason we have such difficulty understanding these verses is because we may not realise that these words are not Paul’s own words, but a quotation from a letter he had received from the church leaders in Corinth.  His answer follows in I Corinthians 14:363-7, and begins with an expression which has been left out by most translators, but can best be translated as “Utter rubbish” or “Utter nonsense.” In the King James Version, that expression has been translated as “What!”

Paul, thereby, declared that the viewpoint of these people, who had been influenced by Rabbinical Traditions called “the Law”, was invalid.

Finally, let me touch on I Timothy 2:11-15, where we read that a woman is not to teach or to have authority over a man.

When looking at these verses we need to take into account the people to whom Paul was writing to Timothy about, and their particular problems. Paul began this passage by instructing Timothy, who was pastoring the church in Ephesus, that a woman, or some women, should learn.  The reason they had to learn is because they did not know correct doctrine.

As for them not being allowed to teach, the Greek grammar indicates that they could not teach at that moment.  The word “silent” here is “hesuchia” which simply means  “restful quietness”, so they could learn before being allowed to teach.

As for the sentence that they were not to have “authority over men,” the word for “authority” is the Greek term “authentein” ,which is a very unusual term, not used anywhere else in the New Testament, and has always carried a negative meaning, including “domineering.”  It does not mean, therefore, that women can never have rightful spiritual authority over men.

The sentences, “Adam came first then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived.”,help us know why Paul was so insistent that these women had to learn first.  For, with these sentences, he corrected false teachings the women were bringing, that the woman had been created first and that the eating of the fruit had been a good thing because, through it, they had supposedly received special knowledge about God.

Moreover, Paul dealt with further false teaching these women taught, such as marriage and motherhood were not good things.  So, when he wrote that women will be saved through child bearing, he meant that marriage and motherhood were not obstacles at all to a close walk with God, but were part of God’s plan for them, as their Creator.

Therefore, this passage clearly deals with issues in the Church in Ephesus, and does not deal with the role of women in the Church in general.

Let us remember that these difficult passages need to be read in the light of the wider context of Scripture, in which all of us, male and female alike, are told to love each other, to serve each other, to respect each other, to prefer the other, whether that is in the family or in the church family.

We see then in Scripture that God never told women to be silent, but called them to function as Evangelists, Teachers, Prophets, Apostles, Deacons, Elders or Overseers, alongside men. May we all be obedient to God’s Design for Men and Women for the sake of His Glory and for the sake of His Kingdom.