We looked yesterday at Paul’s instructions that the women were not to teach or have authority over the men when the Christians were gathered in the church setting.
I pointed out that I don’t think these were church or culture-specific instructions and gave some of my reasons why.
But what reason did Paul himself give for these instructions?
For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (13-14)
Many interpretations of Paul’s meaning have been given for this passage. One is that Paul is looking to the idea of firstborn in the Old Testament. That the firstborn had preeminence in the family. Note that this preeminence has nothing to do with superiority of nature. All in the family were equally human. Nevertheless, the firstborn was given a higher position, and the others were to look to him as their leader in the family when the father died.
And in I Corinthians 11:3, Paul talks about how man is meant to be the head of woman, pointing to the order of creation as the reason in verses 8-9.
But there’s another implication that comes from Adam being created first besides being the head of Eve. He was meant from the very beginning to be her teacher, particularly when it came to God’s instructions.
Note in Genesis 2 that when God told Adam about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Eve had not yet been created. So Adam had to teach her what God said.
Could not God have told Eve this directly later? Possibly. But everything in the Genesis account points against it.
First, think about why Satan approached Eve instead of Adam. It’s much easier to make someone doubt what God has said if they hear it secondhand as Eve did. It’s much more difficult if they hear God’s words firsthand. More on this later.
Second, the words Eve used were different from what God had said. She said, “We may not touch the fruit.” God had never said that. In my opinion, this was probably something Adam added to further protect Eve from the possibility of disobeying God.
Third, why did God call Adam to account first? If Eve was equally responsible for the words God spoke, as she would have been had she heard God directly, would not have God addressed her first, or at the least addressed her and Adam both at the same time? But he didn’t. He called Adam.
With all this in mind then, that Adam had to teach Eve what God had said because she didn’t hear from God directly, it explains much of the story of the fall and what Paul is trying to say to Timothy.
Think about what Satan said to Eve. He starts by saying, “Did God really say…?”
Many interpreters take this to mean that Satan was questioning God’s truthfulness. And certainly Satan did twist God’s words.
But has it ever occurred to you that he might have also been trying to get her to question Adam as her teacher?
Certainly he wanted Eve to question God. But it was much easier to get her to question Adam.
And so what I think Satan was really saying was, “Eve, did God really say that you can’t eat from any of the trees in the garden? Maybe Adam got it wrong. Oh, I see, Adam told you that God permits you to eat from every tree except the one in the middle. But would God really say that? I don’t think so. You won’t die if you eat that fruit. Actually, I think God wants you to eat it, because if you do, God knows you’ll be as wise as him. Adam just got things mixed up.”
This is, I will admit, an unorthodox view of what Satan was trying to say. But consider these two points.
First, God never rebukes Eve for disobeying his command. Did you notice that? God specifically rebukes Adam for breaking His command, but not Eve, although both are punished. Why? Perhaps because in her mind she wasn’t rebelling against God. She was simply deceived into thinking Adam was wrong.
Don’t get me wrong. She still sinned. She still broke the command. She still had to be punished. But she sinned first and foremost because she didn’t trust her husband and his teaching. And because she didn’t, she was deceived.
Adam, on the other hand was not deceived. He knew full well what God had said. And he willfully disobeyed.
Second, it explains a very puzzling thing. Why, if Eve sinned first, is Adam held responsible for sin coming into the world? (Romans 5:12, 15). Many interpreters say it’s because he was the leader in the family. And that’s true.
But I think there’s another reason. I think it’s because Adam was the one who truly broke the relationship with God by willfully not trusting and obeying him. I don’t believe Eve thought she was doing this. She was deceived into thinking that Adam got God’s command wrong. Adam, however, had no such excuse.
My point? Paul was telling Timothy, “Look how things were in the beginning. From the beginning, man was to be the teacher and leader in his dealings with woman. And Eve didn’t fall because Adam was deceived. Rather she broke God’s command because she didn’t trust and listen to her teacher Adam. And by not listening to Adam, she was deceived and came to great harm.
Therefore, Timothy, women in the church are not to follow Eve’s example. By doing so, they leave themselves open to deception as Eve did. Rather, they are to follow and trust the men God has placed in leadership in the church.”
This is getting long, so we’ll wrap this up tomorrow.