Of the Same Substance as Adam

The wonderfully deep Bible passage, Genesis 2:18, 21-23, proclaims some profound points about who we are.

Consider these simple verses, explaining how woman made in the image of God came about:

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”…  So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

We tend to think of this as a nice Sunday School story, or maybe there to give us a lesson in how to be married, but that God was being somewhat arbitrary in doing it this way, with the taking a rib and all that flesh-of-my-flesh stuff.

God is never arbitrary.

A previous statement a few verses back tells us what God was doing. He said, “Let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness” (1:26). God uses a plural about Himself, the meaning of which scholars have argued about ever since. But He would explain it Himself in the passage above. What does it mean to be made in God’s plural image?

Our first clue is how Eve is conceived as an ‘ezer’ (עֵזֶר) for Adam, that is usually translated as “helper.” But psalm readers know that this is no ordinary helper, but a Helper with a capital ‘H.’ For it is several times used of God as the Supreme Helper, the One with the power to help when no one else can. Eve is presented as the bringer of this Divine help to the operations of humanity. She is reflecting God.

But there is more to this story that fulfills God’s promise to make this new thing “in Our likeness,” and it is this: Eve comes forth from the same substance as Adam. In terms of substance, there is an ‘of-ness’ to Eve. This very thing theologian Michael Reeves, in his book on the Trinity, notes: “There is something about the relationship and difference between the man and the woman …that images the being of God…Eve is a person quite distinct from Adam, and yet she has all her life and being from Adam.”

That is, the second comes from the side of the first, is bone of his bones and is one with him in the flesh. If you’ll allow me, we could even say that Eve was homo-ousios (ὁμοούσιος) with Adam. It took us until the first council of Nica in 325AD to fully understand that this was true of God Himself. The Father and the Son were of the same substance, though the Son is eternally begotten of the Father.

That is why Eve experienced generation from Adam in her origin. In substance, equal, yet in origin, distinct. God is never arbitrary.

Of course, the members of God’s singular Trinity are different in Themself from us, ad intra as they say, but He wanted to give us a visual analogy of Who He is. And what a visual! All of this underscores how important gender is to the Image of God. You are reflecting the glory of the Great and Holy Triune Almighty.

Do you realize what a gift you are in being made as a woman or a man?

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