Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

Was it Adam’s responsibility to relay God’s command to Eve?

In Genesis 2:16-17, God commanded the first human not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Along with the command was a warning of death for the transgressor. This command and warning was given to the first man before the first woman was made.

Did Adam have an added responsibility towards Eve?

Was it Adam's responsibility to relay God's command to Eve?Some Christians believe that the first man was given the responsibility of telling the woman about God’s command and warning. This assumption, however, has no biblical basis. The Bible simply does not state or imply that the man was given the responsibility of passing on God’s command once the woman was on the scene.

Implicit in this contrived notion of the man’s responsibility is the idea that God must not have spoken directly to the woman, but only spoke to her indirectly, through her husband. Genesis 3:13 and 16, however, show us that God did speak directly to the woman, at least occasionally.

The Bible includes several narratives where God, or his angel, spoke directly to a woman. So it should not be a stretch to think that God spoke to the first woman on several occasions just as he did with the first man, and indeed, that he mostly spoke to them as a couple. From Genesis 3:8 we may infer that it was not uncommon for God to walk with the couple in the garden and that he conversed with them both.

It is apparent that the first woman did know God’s command, even if her words to the serpent in Genesis 3:2-3 are a little different compared with the original command as recorded in Genesis 2:16-17. Eve’s statement to the serpent contain an added clause, as well as plural, rather than singular, second person pronouns. (The added clause may, or may not, be significant. The significance of plural pronouns is discussed here.)

The text tells us that the woman quoted God. It does not say that she quoted her husband. That is, she does not say, “My husband told me…” Rather, she says, “God said . . .” (Gen. 3:3). There is no indication that the woman got her information about God’s command second hand.

Considering what the biblical text actually says, there is more credence in suggesting that God told the woman the command and warning, than there is to suggest that the man was given the responsibility of teaching the woman. Nevertheless, we are just not told either way.

Did Adam have an extra authority over Eve?

Even though there is no biblical basis whatsoever for the idea that the man was authorized to pass on what God had said, this idea is still brought up all too frequently by Christians who believe that men have been given a spiritual authority that comes directly from God, and that women are to be under the spiritual authority of men.

There is nothing in Genesis chapters one or two which suggests that the first man had authority over the first woman, or that men have authority over women in general. In Genesis 1:26-28, we see that men and women had the same status: they are made in the image of God. And we see that they are given the same authority: to rule and have dominion over the animals. It was not just the first man who had authority over the animals (as it might seem from Genesis 2:19-20).

It is important to note that at creation, and before the fall, there is simply no indication that men are to rule or lead women, or that men are the sole arbiters of God’s authority and instructions. Rather, both women and men were spoken to directly by God and both were told to rule and have dominion over animals, not people (Gen. 1:26-28).

Despite knowing God’s command and warning, both the man and the woman ate the forbidden fruit. Each is confronted and individually questioned by God about their disobedience (Gen. 3:7-13, 16-19). Both were equally guilty, were punished, and had to live with the consequences of sin. From then on, women have had to suffer the injustices of patriarchy–the dominance and rule of men. Patriarchy is a consequence of sin.

Our Identical Authority in Jesus

When Jesus walked on earth as a human being two thousand years ago, he continually taught and demonstrated to his followers how to live as kingdom people. Jesus did not just teach and show a better, more benevolent way of living, he taught about a social and cultural revolution. Jesus taught against hierarchies and he warned about dangers of power, prestige, and primacy among his followers.

Jesus taught that in his kingdom, the humble are exalted, the lowly are the greatest, and the last are first.

Jesus wants to restore the equality and harmony among people that were present at creation. He has dealt with the sin problem with his redemptive death on the cross, and he has sent his Spirit to renew us and enable us to live as new creation people with kingdom ideals.

Men and women had an identical status and authority at creation; this was part of God’s “very good” creation (Gen. 1:31). In the new creation, men and women also have an identical status and authority as children of God. We are already part of the new creation, but it will be even better and “very good,” when the new creation comes in its fullness (2 Cor. 7:14-15). In the meantime, we need to deconstruct unhealthy, hierarchical relationship models and remember that every man and woman who is in Christ has the same God-given rights, authority, freedom, and privileges (John 1:12; Gal. 3:26-28; Rom. 8:14-17).

Image: ‘Creation’ by March Chagall


This article was first published on the 18th of December, 2014, by Christians for Biblical Equality (International) in their free weekly newsletter, Arise.  You can read the article on CBE’s website here.  You can subscribe to Arise in a field on this page.  Look for the Arise button.

arise_button


Related Articles

What Eve’s Statement to the Serpent tells us
5 Questions about Adam’s Role in Genesis 2-3

Blaming Eve Alone

Human (Ha’adam) Man (Ish) and Woman (Ishshah) in Genesis 2
The Complementarian Concept of “The Created Order”
Is Complementarianism a Traditional Belief of the Church?
Kenegdo: Is the woman in Genesis 2 subordinate, similar or similar to the man?
A Suitable Helper
A Suitable Helper in the Septuagint
Every verse in the Septuagint that contains boēthos
Gender in Genesis 1
Mary Consoles Eve

Posted December 19th, 2014 . Categories/Tags: Gender in Genesis 1-3, , , ,

Unkind, judgemental, bizarre, and off-topic comments will be deleted.

8 comments on “Was it Adam’s responsibility to relay God’s command to Eve?

  1. Bev Murrill says:

    Excellent article, thanks for this Marg. I am reposting to Kyria in January.

  2. […] It is important to note that when Eve quotes the command to the serpent, the Bible tells us that she quoted God; it does not say that she quoted Adam (Gen. 3:2-3).  She does not say, “Adam told me . . . ”  She says, “God said . . .” (Gen. 3:3). [I’ve written more about question 4 here.] […]

  3. […] Was it Adam’s responsibility to relay God’s command to Eve? […]

  4. Christopher Dittemore says:

    Actually,

    God commanded the man:

    Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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 will surely die.”

    Eve ate of the “forbidden fruit” first.

    Yet it was Adam who was told the following:

    Genesis 3:17And to Adam he said,

    “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
    and have eaten of the tree
    of which I commanded you,
    ‘You shall not eat of it,’
    cursed is the ground because of you;
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

    The one who was wrong was indeed Adam. And he was wrong for listening to the voice of his wife, not the serpent.

    Eve was wrong for listening to the serpent we see that here:

    Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;

    It is the woman and the serpent who is separated.

    This doesn’t mean I hold to the view that women can’t teach, but your article didn’t contain these important points.

    Chris

    • Marg says:

      Hi Christopher,

      Thanks for your comment.

      My opening statement is “In Genesis 2:16-17, God commanded the first human not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” So I certainly didn’t overlook this point. In fact, this point is an important part of my discussion.

      The other points you mention are not especially relevant to the specific topic of this post which is “Was it Adam’s responsibility to relay the command to Eve?”.

  5. […] Was it Adam’s responsibility to relay God’s command to Eve? […]

  6. […] Was it Adam’s responsibility to relay God’s command to Eve? […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2009–2016   Margaret Mowczko | Powered by WordPress

More in Gender in Genesis 1-3
5 questions about Adam’s role in Genesis 2 and 3

In this post I have a go at answering these 5 questions about Adam's prominence in chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis: 1....

Close