Why did God make Eve from Adam’s rib? After all, if God had so desired, He could easily have formed Eve from the dust of the ground. In fact, He made Adam this way, (Genesis 2:7), as well as “every beast of the field” and “every bird of the heavens” (Genesis 2:19). So why did God make Eve differently? Perhaps He wanted to instruct us not only about the roles of Adam and Eve, but also concerning that of “the last Adam”, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:45).
The first “not good” statement
Before God created Eve, He said: “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). In the creation narrative, the reader should be jarred by this statement, because up until now, every time that God has surveyed His creation, He has pronounced it “good”, as we would expect it to have been before the Fall. Man’s being alone is the first “not good” thing that required a solution.
So God created Eve as “a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18b). The term ‘helper’ (Hebrew ezer) does not indicate a lesser role or status, but rather function. She was to be his counterpart, his complement. Indeed, the term is used of God when He helps us, as in Psalm 33:20; 121:1–2. In fact, this is the basis for the biblical name Azaria(h) = God helped. Adam’s words on being presented with Eve were: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”1 (Genesis 2:23)
The significance of ‘one flesh’
But was it really necessary for Eve to be made out of Adam’s rib? Calvin commented that “if the two sexes had proceeded from different sources, there would have been occasion either of mutual contempt, or envy, or contentions.”2 And he went on to say that “something was taken from Adam, in order that he might embrace with greater benevolence, a part of himself. He lost, therefore, one of his ribs;3 but, instead of it, a far richer reward was granted him, since he obtained a faithful associate of life; for he now saw himself, who had before been imperfect, rendered complete in his wife.” 2
Eve also needed to be related to Adam—if she had been created out of the earth, she would be a completely independent creation. But in a unique way, Eve was descended from Adam, because she was made from a part of him.
Eve’s descent from Adam is also crucial to the possibility of her salvation. The prophet Isaiah wrote of the coming Messiah as being the “Kinsman-Redeemer”4 (Isaiah 59:20), i.e. one who is related by blood to those he redeems. Hebrews 2:11–18 explains how Jesus took on Himself the nature of a man to save mankind, but not angels (nor hypothetical aliens for that matter). Jesus entered Adam’s line to literally become our relative, to be a part of this one human family (Luke 3:23–38).5 If all people are not descended from Adam, this vital kinsman-redeemer concept is undermined. Or conversely, if there are people around today who are not descended from Adam and hence not related to Christ through Adam, they are not able to be saved. Both situations are biblically unviable.6
Adam, being the first human created, was and is the federal (or responsible) head of the human race. He was thus the one whose attitude towards God determined the course of human history. Eve, being made chronologically after Adam, as well as from Adam, is not assigned this responsibility in the Bible, even though she ate the forbidden fruit a few moments before Adam did (Genesis 3:6).
It was Adam to whom God had given the command not to eat (Genesis 2:16–17), and Adam was with Eve when she ate the fruit (Genesis 3:6). However, apparently he did not restrain her other than to pass on the warning (Genesis 3:1–3).7 Sin is basically the desire to live independently of and in rebellion against God.8 The New Testament affirms not only that Eve was deceived (by the serpent), but also that Adam was not so deceived (1 Timothy 2:14). It therefore appears that Adam made a deliberate choice to disobey God, i.e., the overt act expressed the sin that had already been committed within the heart (cf. Matthew 15:19).
The New Testament states that Adam was responsible for the coming of death into the world, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:21–22, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”9 This reminds us that, just as Adam was the head of the human race, the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of redeemed humanity (Romans 5:12–21,10 Ephesians 1:22–23; 5:23).
Roles of husband and wife in a Christ-centred marriage
One reason that marriage was set up by God is so that we would have a picture of what Christ’s love for the Church looks like. Monogamous marriage between one man and one woman serves this purpose in a way that a ‘marriage’ between two men, or two women, or any other arrangement cannot.11 Indeed, when Jesus taught about marriage (Matthew 19:3–6, Mark 10:5–9), He cited the Creation account as real history (Genesis 1:27, 2:24).12
Furthermore the Bible sets specific roles for a husband and a wife within marriage. The longest passage on this is Ephesians 5:22–33. Husbands are told to “love their wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (vv. 25–27), “as their own bodies” (vv. 28–30), and ahead of all other commitments (vv. 31–33). Wives are told to “submit to their own husbands, as to the Lord” (v. 22). This does not contradict Paul’s assertion in Galatians 3:28 that “male and female … are all one in Christ Jesus.”13
Upon marriage, we are meant to leave our parents as if we had none (metaphorically speaking), because Adam and Eve (literally and historically) really did have none.
We are meant in marriage, at least ideally, to be as close to one another as if we were ‘one flesh’ (metaphorically speaking) because Eve really was (literally and historically) taken from Adam’s flesh.
A bride produced by a wound
When God made Eve from Adam’s side, Genesis 2:21–23 tells us that God put Adam into a deep sleep. So Eve, the bride-to-be of Adam was (literally and historically) born from the wound in his side.
When Jesus, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), died on the cross, His side was pierced by a spear thrust, in fulfillment of prophecy (John 19:34, 36–37; Zechariah 12:10). This was just after His death—a death made necessary by the sin of the first Adam. Flowing from that wound in the side of God’s Lamb (John 1:29), sacrificed for sin, was the precious blood (1 Peter 1:19) by which believers are cleansed from sin.14 These believers will constitute Christ’s bride, the church. So, metaphorically speaking, the church, Christ’s bride to be, was ‘born’ as it were from the spear wound in His side.
The heavenly Bride and Groom united
The Book of Revelation speaks of the ‘wedding feast of the Lamb’ at Christ’s return after the final defeat of death and evil (Revelation 19:6–9). The Good News is that although all of us have sinned ‘in Adam’, the first husband, we can all be redeemed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the ‘last Adam’ and the Bridegroom of the Church, and through Him we can receive “the forgiveness of sins”, “the free gift of righteousness”, and pass “from death to life” (Colossians 1:14; Romans 5:17; 1 John 3:14).
References and notes
KJV. Some versions incorrectly regard happa’am as having a time-suggestive meaning, so they include the words “at last”. But the word pa’am with the definite article ha means “this time”, or Gideon asking God “once more” for a test (Judges 6:39) or Abraham asking God about Sodom’s destruction “this once” (Genesis 18:32). Return to text.
Calvin, J. Genesis, Translated and edited by John King, p. 133, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965. Return to text.
A correspondent has asked if either Adam or Eve lied about not touching the tree; however, a better explanation is that Adam passed on the warning not to eat the fruit to Eve, and then possibly added something like, “So don’t you even touch it, do you hear now!”, which Eve interpreted as coming from God. See Wieland, C., Did Eve lie before the Fall?creation.com/eve-lie, 17 March 2007. Return to text.
The water which also flowed might be viewed as a picture of the life-giving Holy Spirit, just as the water flowed from the smitten rock in the wilderness at Horeb. 1 Corinthians 10:4 identifies that “spiritual rock” as Christ, who also promised to give “living water” (John 4:10). Return to text.
KJV. Some versions incorrectly regard happa’am as having a time-suggestive meaning, so they include the words “at last”. But the word pa’am with the definite article ha means “this time”, or Gideon asking God “once more” for a test (Judges 6:39) or Abraham asking God about Sodom’s destruction “this once” (Genesis 18:32).
Calvin, J. Genesis, Translated and edited by John King, p. 133, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965.
Note, however, that Adam’s loss of a rib may well have been only temporary, since ribs routinely regenerate after surgical removal, as long as the outer membrane (periosteum) is left intact. See Wieland, C.,
Hebrew goel, the same word used of Boaz in the book of Ruth, one of Jesus’ ancestors (Matthew 1:5).
This section adapted from Wieland, C.,
A correspondent has asked if either Adam or Eve lied about not touching the tree; however, a better explanation is that Adam passed on the warning not to eat the fruit to Eve, and then possibly added something like, “So don’t you even touch it, do you hear now!”, which Eve interpreted as coming from God. See Wieland, C.,
See Grigg, R.,
While debating the detailed issues surrounding gender roles is outside the scope of this ministry, see Cosner, L.,
The water which also flowed might be viewed as a picture of the life-giving Holy Spirit, just as the water flowed from the smitten rock in the wilderness at Horeb. 1 Corinthians 10:4 identifies that “spiritual rock” as Christ, who also promised to give “living water” (John 4:10).
Bless the Lord for this article, and Russell Grigg's effort in compiling it. It includes several compelling insights into Scripture.
Somehow, I had always envisioned Eve alone with the serpent when she tasted the forbidden fruit, I had missed the 'with' in Genesis 3:6, 'and gave also to her husband with her' which startles me. Was he watching to see what would happen to her perhaps?
That is my conjecture, obviously, but Grigg's point is Biblical: Adam had already made a deliberate choice to disobey God before he ate, and that choice of rebellion was the sin of the Fall.
There is really so much here- the need and value of woman, her inseparable connection to man, as well as the essential and remarkable role of monogamous marriage.
Further, the article explains clearly how the dynamics of the first Adam point precisely to the dynamics of the Last Adam.
Once again, we see how a literal reading of Genesis is foundational for a true, solid, wise and living Christian faith. Many self-claimed Christians will be offended by that statement, my only defense is that it comes from experience.
Bless the Lord and the CMI ministry.
In fellowship, Peter W., another brother.
Dolores T., United States, 8 December 2014
Eve fell for the lie, and was now under the penalty of death. She was a lost sinner, and must die. The perfect bond between Adam and his bride was now a universe-wide chasm. Adam surely was heart broken and searching for a way to reconcile his beloved bride to himself. What could be done to pay for her sin? Could a man pay for her sin? If Adam were to be a sacrifice for her, she would then be without a man to procreate with, alone with no hope. Adam knew what it was like to be alone. What a predicament.
So ... did Adam lower himself to her level in order to bring forth the seed of the woman who would redeem them both? Did Adam assume the responsibility of protecting Eve by putting himself under the penalty of death to save his bride. If so, what love he had for her, and what great faith and confidence he had in his Creator’s love and mercy.
1 Tim 2:12-15 ... Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, ..."Saved in childbearing" is also translated "through the bearing of a child"
We sin because we are sinners, but did Adam choose to sin, perhaps in an attempt to save his beloved?
Yeshua’s bride was deceived and separated from Him. He came to her level and assumed the responsibility of saving his beloved - not by sinning, but by taking her sin upon Himself. 2 Cor 5:21
What wondrous love! I can’t wrap my brain around that thought. Is this the great mystery in Eph 5: 31-32 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Messiah and the body of believers.
1 Cor 15:45-47, Gen 2:21-24, Eph 5:30-32
Excerpt:"What about Marriage" 2004 Dolores Testerman
David M., Australia, 9 December 2014
Thanks again for a great read and thought provoking article. On a quick look back over I noticed that you expect us to be “jarred” by the unexpected “not good” proclamation by God, prior to the fall. I am not sure I read anything specific in the article (or after a quick search on the phrase “not good” on the CMI site) that would harmonize or soothe that particular discord. Surely I have missed something and you did not mean to leave me in that condition?
Don Batten responds
You raise an interesting ancillary question. Thinking about the "not good", I have always taken it to mean 'not good if Adam continued to remain alone'. I think this is implied in the context. It was 'good' that Adam realized he was incomplete, having seen the animals with their mates, and then the arrival of Eve was greatly appreciated, which was "very good"!
Erik O., Sweden, 9 December 2014
I love your article Russel, filled with insight. It has the right tone, focus on submittance and love on both parts in relationship and not ruling. Thanks CMI, your work is incredibly important.
Gennaro C., Australia, 9 December 2014
A very good article and thought provoking for a society that completely lost the meaning of the marriage. Very well done Russel Grigg.
Differing from any other creature called to life by the 'voice' of God, Adam and Eve experienced a personal 'hands on' by God himself. The value of Eve drawn out from Adam's body sounds to me like un 'irreducible complexity unit' revealing to us the Oneness of our Great Triune God; and their 'become one flesh' (Gen.2:24), the expression of God's desire to be united with us; 'The wedding of the Lamb' (Rev.19:6-8). Equal and complementing each other (a suitable helper) Adam and Eve were meant to be a living parable of God's love for us and the expression of spouses collaboration. How far alas our society is gone in the opposite direction.
Thank you CMI.
P. T., Australia, 19 December 2014
Awesome explanations. Thank you CMI for promoting a true understanding of God, His Word, who we are, what marriage is about, how we men and women are created to rightly relate to each other. How much this teaching is needed today. Can't wait to share it with inquiring friends etc.
Thanks very much, and may our Lord be pleased to see your dedication to His truth, and to bless you for it - and to bless others through it.
P. T., Australia, 19 December 2014
Just another thought on the "not good" of Adam's being alone....Looking at Gen 1 and that God saw that what He made was GOOD, I understand that "goodness" to imply that the created thing suited the purpose for which God made it - it was appropriate and suitable.
Could it be that God saw that Adam was alone - and it was NOT GOOD simply because Adam was not yet complete in meeting the purpose for which God created him - that is, Adam's creation was to become good, appropriate and suitable to God's purpose in creating him, when he gained a wife of his own kind?
I feel that this removes the stigma of BADNESS being present (before The Fall) in the creation story, and moves the emphasis onto the creation in it's entirely being made to perfectly fulfill God's purposes.