Special authority to Adam – was it given by God?

Special authority to Adam – was it given by God?

This is part two of the response to an article by Matt Slick of CARM called “Genesis 2, Adam and Eve, and Authority” found here.

Since Matt Slick has claimed that he has refuted my arguments on women in ministry, it is only fair for me to provide information that will show how his arguments are invalid and his “refutation” needs a whole lot more work. 😆

In Matt’s article he states that Adam expressed dominance over Eve. Matt writes:

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.

There are several questions that must be asked here and the answers to these questions will be very eye opening. The first question is, who gave Adam authority over Eve? The second question is, for what reason did God bring Eve to Adam? If I could take liberties to answer these questions for Matt, I think his answer would be that Adam’s authority over Eve was not explicitly given by God but implicitly given because of Adam’s actions. I also believe his answer to the second question would be that God brought Eve to Adam just as he brought the animals to Adam, for Adam to name her.

Let’s examine each of these questions and look at the text itself for the answers. Let’s also ask a question that goes back even further. Who gave Adam authority over the animals and did Eve also have equal authority over the animals? The answer will be found in Genesis chapter 1.

Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God explicitly said to them (plural) that they were to subdue the earth and rule over the fish, the birds and over every living thing that moves on the earth. The command is not for the earth to be in subjection to Adam and Eve, but for Adam and Eve to subject the earth to their rule. The Hebrew word for “rule” used here according to The Complete WordStudy Dictionary by Zhodiates means to exercise domain over those who are powerless or otherwise under one’s control.

While God gave both Adam and Eve control over the animals, did God give Adam special authority and control over Eve? Did God give Adam the authority to exercise domain over Eve just as he had given them the command to exercise domain over the animals? Wouldn’t it appear odd that God would give explicit authority to exercise domain over the animals but only implicit authority for the man to exercise domain over the woman? Wouldn’t this be a failure of God’s to explicitly delegate authority so that we have to guess this is what he intended? It is my contention that God said what he meant and meant what he said. He explicitly delegated authority to both Adam and Eve and there is no explicit delegation of authority to only one of them. The naming of the animals was not a special act of authority to Adam. It was merely the acting out of the command to exercise domain over the animals. Eve, of course could not act out her domain over the animals at the time since she had not yet been created.

So now, let’s have a look at the creation of Eve. There is no doubt that Adam was aware that there would be a mate created for him since God said:

Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

So while God said “I will make…” he then went on to make or form the animals from the ground and bring them to Adam. Adam was able to verify the nature of each animal by naming it and he was also able to verify that each animal created was unsuitable for him. God had said that Adam’s “helper” (one who gives aid or assistance) would be one “in front of him” or “facing him”. None of the animals qualified as one who would give Adam aid “facing him”.

Genesis 2:19 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.

We can see from Genesis 2:18 that God had said that he would “make” a “helper” for Adam. In verse 19 he “formed” the animals and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. It is explicitly said that God brought the animals to see what Adam would name them and it is implied from verse 18 that God was allowing Adam to check out God’s creation to see if any of the animals was worthy of being “in front of” Adam as one who “aids” Adam.

Now we come to verse 21 where God brings the solution:

Genesis 2:21 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.
Genesis 2:22 The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

It is interesting here to note that God fashioned into an “issah” (woman) the rib (inner chamber, board, side) which he had taken from the man. God called her an “issah” or woman before he even brought her to the man. Why? It is because she was taken from the inner chamber or side of the man.

Genesis 2:23 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.”

The Hebrew literally reads “And saying is the human, This was once bone of my bones and flesh from my flesh. This shall be called woman, for from her man is this taken.”

The question we need to ask is this – does Adam’s identifying her as “woman” mean that he is taking dominion over her? Or does identifying her as “woman” mean that he is identifying her nature as equal to his – flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone? There is nothing in the text that says that God gave Adam authority over her. There is nothing in the text that says that Adam was taking his domain over her. The very next verse explains the significance of Adam’s identification of her nature. Genesis 2:24 says:

Genesis 2:24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

It says “For this reason…” For what reason? Eve’s identification by Adam as “woman” because she is flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone is for the reason of joining together the two to become one flesh.

So why did God bring Eve to Adam? God did not bring Eve to Adam for him to take dominion over her. God brought Eve to Adam so that Adam could join himself with her as a one-flesh union. God brought the woman, but the man is the one who is to leave and join himself to her. “Join” means sticking to or clinging to. Adam shows that he is joining with her by identifying her as the one whom he was looking for. She is “the one” whom God said he would “make” that is the one who will provide him with the help that he needs and the one who will be “facing him” as an equal being. God brought Adam his own DNA mate and Adam joined himself to her. Adam did not take authority over her but joined himself to her.

While people like Matt Slick would like to see this beautiful event as merely a hierarchical reign of the man taking his authority over the woman, in reality it is a man identifying what God has already identified as his equal and joining himself together with her accepting her as one with him.

Do you see what has happened here? Those who are hierarchists like Matt Slick are wanting to see rule and authority and reign and subordination in the text. Yet none of these things is either explicit or implicit in the inspired test. What is explicit is the reason given in verse 24. “For this reason….” God says, man will join himself with the woman to become one flesh. Did God bring the woman to the man for him to take authority over her? Or did God bring the woman to the man for him to join himself with her? The real question should be – what does the text say? The text is silent about the man’s authority over the woman. The text is explicit about the man’s joining himself together with the one whom he has agreed with God that she is identified as his corresponding equal – the only one who measures up to being worthy of a one-flesh union with him.

While Matt Slick may think that he has refuted me and proven that the man was given rule over the woman before the fall happened, he is dead wrong and his work is faulty and incomplete. It is time that we get back to the text actually says instead of placing our own presuppositions into the scriptures. Let’s let God be true though every man be found a liar:

Romans 3:4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.”

We have only just started the refutation of Matt Slick’s article so much more to come later.


9 thoughts on “Special authority to Adam – was it given by God?

  1. Hi Cheryl,

    I have a thought.

    ‘The naming of the animals was not a special act of authority to Adam. It was merely the acting out of the command to exercise domain over the animals. Eve, of course could not act out her domain over the animals at the time since she had not yet been created.’

    I disagree one something here. I disagree that Adam’s naming of the animals was an acting out of the command to exercise domain over them. I say this because, Adam was not given a command to exercise dominion over the animals intel after the woman was created, Gen 1:28. When God gave that command regarding the animals it was only to the both of them after they both were created. But, God did intend to give them both dominion over the animals before both of them were created, 1:26. Therefore Adam’s naming of the animals was an acting out of God’s original intention (vs. a command) that they, made in his image, have dominion over the animals.

  2. The reason why I think that was important to point that out is because nothing during the process of Adam naming the animals and then the woman’s creation was outside of God’s original intention for them being, Gen 1:26. So God did exactly what he intended. He created them and gave them dominion over the animals. There is no mention of divine intention that one of them would rule, have dominion or authority over the other. God’s forfilled his divine intention for their creation, just as he said he would do.

  3. Hi Watcher,

    You have a point to a certain extent, but God also told them both what they could eat in chapter one but Adam alone in chapter two.  It would be understandable for Adam to have been told that he was to rule the animals before Eve was created and God told them both what they could eat and that they were to rule over the animals.  Repetition does seem to be something that God is good at doing 🙂

    So whether Adam’s naming the animals was “ruling” them or not, I think we still can agree that it wouldn’t have been something that would have been held back from Eve had she been there.  Their mandate was the same.

  4. For many reasons in the text, I do not try to make a synchronous way of trying to understand the 3 origins stories in Gen 1-5.  That is, I do not try to combine all 3 stories into a timeline, rather I see general principles being given in each of the 3 stories.

    And others can see it differently, but that is how I see it.

  5. Don,

    My opinion is that if the accounts given of the creation can be looked at as different focuses of the one creative time period and they can be put together in one time line without contradiction, then the historical account given in Genesis and referred to by Jesus is indeed a real historical account and should be looked on as history first and then what we can learn from that history, second.  I believe there is no contradictions at all in the time lines set up by Genesis 1 & 2.  I also believe that there have been apparent contradictions only because we have changed the inspired grammar of Genesis 2 and this change that some felt was necessary to “resolve” a contradiction didn’t actually resolve the contradiction at all but took away from our understanding of Paul in 1 Timothy 2.  While I can appreciate those who do not see Genesis as history, my view is that the foundation is eroded and contradictions and misunderstanding created when we don’t take the account at face value.  Unless I am forced to see that Genesis isn’t what it says it is (it is written as history), I will continue to believe that God inspired it to say what me meant and not for us to take it as a parable and put into the account a meaning that would be different for all of us.  I believe that the foundation of our faith from the foundation of creation is solid.

  6. Cheryl,
    As you and others have shown convincingly, a gender-based hierarchy cannot be conclusively established from Gen 1 & 2. Even with no knowledge of Greek (septuagint) or Hebrew (masoretic text), it is simply not there. So the question remains, why does Paul reach back into the Genesis account from his vantage point in 1 Tim. 2:9-15 ? There are two options here: 1) Paul is legislating anew, but instead of the Moses model to the children of Israel, it is to the church universal from the 1st cent. onward; with the epistles forming a new body of law for observance. 2) Paul is simply refuting a set of false teachings spread about by specific individuals at Ephesus.

    Let’s look at option one: In order for it to hold true, the components of male headship have to be “choppered in” to the Genesis account and constructed on site. The problem with this approach is that it leads to other components having to be “ferried in” to other sites. It is a problem of systematic reconciliation and rationalization of Biblical texts which appear to be at odds with the concept of a pre-fall gender-based hierarchy. In the OT there is the problem of Deborah. Dr. Wayne Grudem in his book Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth , makes the claim that God only used Deborah in a limited figurehead capacity, because there were no good men available at the time, and that she did not really exercise governing authority over Israel (p131-136). The Biblical text says no such thing. Either Deborah was a judge over Israel, or she was not.

    The New Testament book of Acts poses a similar difficulty for a divinely mandated gender-based hierarchy. In chap. 15 we see that there are only four things enumerated in verses 19 & 20, and then repeated in verses 28 & 29; that the church is to observe. Not a hint of a gender-based hierarchy is to be found anywhere in the chapter.

    Option two is a simpler solution. It requires no on-site construction and lets both texts (1 Tim. & Genesis) speak for themselves on the basis of historical and grammatical perspective. This option also allows 1 Tim. to be seen in its common sense form. When a Godly woman teaches the Bible in a corporate setting, where does the “authority” reside, in her, or in God’s word? And if the over-arching context in 1 Tim. is false teaching, how can orthodox Christian teaching to men be off limits to women?

  7. This is one thing that gender hierarchicalists do not seem to see, that there might be OTHER ways of faithfully understanding a verse than the way they do.  I have not seen the 2nd option being discussed by them, to them it seems “obvious” what Paul meant and not agreeing with them is quibbling with the Bible.  This is simply not true and egals need to stand firm and say that it is NOT clear what some verses mean and, as you point out, there is a good reason to think they mean something other than the non-egals claim.

  8. FWIIW, I see Gen 1-11 as narrative with poetic elements or poetry with narrative elements.  Then the question is how much is poetry and how much is narrative and different people can think differently.  For example, my sis is a believer and she sees more narrative and less poetry in Gen 1-11 than I do. 
    I see this as similar to the end times, there are various ways of understanding the end times and similarly, there are various ways of understand the beginning times.  It is exactly because I take it at face value that I think it does not tell us all we might wish to know.  But this is a tangent, so I will stop.

  9. “Wouldn’t this be a failure of God’s to explicitly delegate authority so that we have to guess this is what he intended? It is my contention that God said what he meant and meant what he said”

    Exactly. So much has to be read into it and assumed. They are speaking for God when they say that creation ‘order’ implies authority. But God tells us exactly why He waited when He brings the animals to Adam to name. If I use their interpretation tactics, I could make a good case that being created last means Eve is more important! (Not to mention that animals were created before Eve…wonder how they justify that one…is she lower than a cow to them?)

    There are so many things they read into the account: Ezer means subordinate…when it doesn’t because God is an ‘ezer’ all over the OT.

    The bottom line is this…If Adam was in charge of Eve then why wasn’t he held responsible for HER actions in Gen 3?

    BTW: Cheryl, something I keep hearing from the CBMW crowd is that we must allow church history to teach us when we do not understand or agree upon scripture. If most theologians over time agree then it must be correct. This sounds so good but it really does lead us down a dangerous path. Studying church history and what theologians agreed upon for a thousand years leads us to infant baptism, sacraments, magistrates, state church, slavery, burning heretics, etc. They use this same argument on the issue of subordination of women. It really is dangerous and leads us away from sola scriptura.

    I think of all the resources we have for free now at our fingertips to study scripture in depth..Greek, Hebrew….it really is changing things and they do not like it.

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