The Creation of Woman
Joel R. Beeke
Genesis 2:18â€“24 graphically describes Godâ€™s creation of the first woman. It begins
with the LORD Godâ€™s remarkable statement, â€śIt is not good that man should be
alone.â€ť The negative, â€śnot good,â€ť is emphatic. Until now, God has done
everything good; He has pronounced His benediction upon all of His creation.
Here, for the first time, we find that something is lacking. Without female
companionship and a partner in reproduction, man could not fully realize his
humanity. Out of this need comes the creation of the woman who will be Adamâ€™s
wife and companion.
The creation of woman in Genesis 2 has far-reaching consequences. It sets
the foundation for:
1. the relationship of a husband and a wife within marriage,
2. the relationship of Jesus Christ, the Husband of His church, and the church as
3. the function of a man and a woman within the church.
This article addresses primarily on the first of these.
The woman made for man
Godâ€™s creation of Eve is set within the context of the creation story. The first part
of that story is the preparation of the man for the womanâ€™s arrival. Adam had
been made in Godâ€™s image. He was filled with Godâ€™s pristine glory. And yet,
God showed Adam that in all the created order, with all its variety, there was no
creature suited to be his companion.
God chose a fascinating way to teach Adam this lesson. God had stood
side by side with Adam while a great variety of animals passed before Adam. As
they passed byâ€”from the ant to the zebraâ€”Adam studied each animal, then
named it. That was no arbitrary naming. Adam noted each animalâ€™s nature and
relationship. In the back of his mind, he must have wondered if one might be
suitable as his companion. Yet there was none. As Genesis 2:20 says, â€śFor Adam
there was not found an help meet for him.â€ť
After he named all the animals, Adam realized that not one had been
created in the image of God. Each had a body, and even, in a sense, a personality.
But none had a soul. Adam could not commune with any on a spiritual level. No
matter how good Adamâ€™s relationship was with an animal, something was
missing. Let me illustrate.
Perhaps you have an excellent relationship with your dog. You have great
fellowship with that animal. You share many enjoyable hours with him. You
play games with him; you show affection. But all your fellowship must be on a
dogâ€™s level because a dog can only communicate on that level. Adam no doubt
realized that if he was to have a companion, the companion would have to be
specially created by God in His image, just as Adam himself had been.
So Adam was prepared for a woman, and the woman was now to be
prepared for him. She was to be created as his ideal counterpart in the world.
Man and woman were made differently, and yet, by Godâ€™s creating act, they
were to be more alike than anything else in creation.
Eve was created as a perfect woman. What a striking woman she must
have been! When commenting on the creation of man, Luther said that Adam
must have been an extraordinary specimen. He thought that Adam must have
excelled the animals even in those points in which they excelled; heâ€™d have
power greater than a lionâ€™s, and eyesight sharper than an eagleâ€™s. But if that was
true of Adam, what are we to say of Eve? Luther thought Eve would have been
as strong, fast, clear-sighted, and brilliant as Adam. In addition, Luther said, she
must have had a beauty and grace that excelled him. This much we can say for
sure: Eve, too, was created in pristine glory.
In spite of Eveâ€™s physical, mental, and moral excellence, verse 18 says she
was made â€śforâ€ť the man, â€śan help meet [or suitable] for him.â€ť In this perfect pre-
fall condition, every woman has a clue to her unique, God-given position in
marriage. She is to be a â€śhelp meetâ€ť for her husband.
Genesis 2:18 greatly angers radical feminists and is sometimes a cause for
concern, if not anxiety, for other women as well. To speak of woman being made
for man, or of her need to be obedient to the man in marriage, is anathema. Many
womenâ€”and even menâ€”think such ideas outdated, unjust, and prejudiced
Our fallen human nature never likes to surrender its desired
independence. Man doesnâ€™t want to be subject to God, and woman doesnâ€™t want
to be subject to man. Rev. J. Fraanje once wrote that â€śIndependencyâ€ťâ€”today, we
would perhaps say â€śautonomyâ€ťâ€”is the word written on the inside of the gate
that led out of Paradise.
We need clear thinking today on this issue. We need to understand, first
of all, that the word help is not a derogatory term. God created us to serve Him
and to help our neighbor. It is an honor for a woman to help her husband, for
help is a word frequently used in reference to God Himself in the Psalms (10:14;
22:11; 28:7; 46:1; 54:4; 72:12; 86:17; 119:173, 175; 121:1â€“2). If God is not ashamed to
be the help of fallen sinners, why should we look askance on Eve being the
â€śhelpâ€ť of her unfallen husband? Being a help meet is not a degrading position.
The verb form of this word basically means to aid or supply that which an
individual cannot provide for himself. The Septuagint translates it with a word
that the New Testament uses in the sense of â€śphysicianâ€ť (Matt. 15:25). It conveys
the idea of aiding someone in need, such as the oppressed. Certainly a godly wife
delights to meet the needs of her husband.
Meet comes from the Hebrew word meaning â€śopposite.â€ť Literally it is
â€śaccording to the opposite of him,â€ť meaning that a woman will complement and
correspond to her husband. She is to be equal to and be adequate for the man.
In what way is she to be equal? We need to grapple with this word
equality, which we hear so much about today. Are men and women truly equal?
Yes and no. There are important ways in which men and women are
equal. (1) They were both equally created in the image of God. That is what
made them fit companions for each other. It explains why animals are not fit
companions for us. (2) They were both placed under the moral command of God
and thus were given moral responsibility. (3) They were both guilty of
disobeying the command of God and were therefore judged by God for their
disobedience. (4) Paul tells us in Galatians 3:28 that both men and women are
equally objects of Godâ€™s gracious redemption in Jesus Christ. (5) As husband and
wife, a man and a woman are equally called to leave father and mother, to cleave
to each other, and to love each other as one flesh.
In another sense, however, man and woman were not created equal.
Because the woman was created for the man, they were not created equal in
authority. God has a different structure of authority laid out for husbands than
He does for wives. The inequality of that authority structure doesnâ€™t mean that a
husband has the advantage over his wife or that one position is better than
another, however. Nor does it mean that one position is higher than another. We
have to purge our minds of that way of thinking, which is all too common in the
business world of our day. The higher we are on the corporate business ladder,
many think, the better off they are.
Thatâ€™s not what God has in mind with man and woman. In the God-given
structure of authority, a husband and wife mutually submit to Christ (Eph. 5:20),
then, under Christ, to each other, fulfilling each otherâ€™s needs. Already in
paradise, there is glory and humility in both the man and the woman. The manâ€™s
glory is that he is the head; his humility is that he is not complete without the
woman. The womanâ€™s glory is that only she can give the man fulfillment; her
humility is that she is made of man.
Post-fall, these complementary roles come out even stronger, especially
for husbands and wives who desire to model their marriages in Christ according
to Godâ€™s directions. Paul enlightens us on these roles in Ephesians 5. The
husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the churchâ€”absolutely (He gave
Himself, v. 25b), realistically (Christ realized that the church, in herself, needed
cleansing, v. 26), purposely (i.e., to make the church holy and blemish-free, v. 27),
and sacrificially (i.e., to care for the bride as one cares for his own body, vv. 28â€“
In turn, the wife is to show her husband reverence and submission, Paul
says (vv. 22, 33). Elsewhere, Paul gives us four reasons why: because the woman
is made from man (1 Cor. 11:3, 8), because the woman is made for man (1 Cor.
11:9), because the man was created first (1 Tim. 2:12-13), and because sin entered
the world by the woman (1 Tim. 2:14). As the man is to show loving headship, so
the woman is to show loving submission.
Submission is not degrading. It is found even within the persons of the
Godhead; in fact, marriage parallels the divine Trinity in this regard. Theologians
speak of the essential Trinity, which the Westminster Confession defines as â€śthree
persons in the Godhead, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.â€ť They
also speak of the economic Trinity, in which various members of the Godhead
deliberately and willingly submit themselves to one another in the work of
redemption. The Son submits to the Father as Mediator and Servant. The Holy
Spirit submits to the Father and the Son in His salvific work. Paul points to the
parallelism between such submissions and marital submission, when he says,
â€śThe head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the
head of Christ is Godâ€ť (1 Cor. 11:3; see also Eph. 5:22-24).
â€śBiblicalâ€ť feminists respond to such texts by arguing that submission is
part of the curse, now abrogated by Christâ€™s atonement. Their arguments,
however, donâ€™t reckon with submission among the divine persons, nor with the
fact that the subordinate relationship of wife to husband is found first in Genesis
2, before the fall and the curse.
Submission within marriage has parallels also within the church, which is
the family of God. Though women may and should exercise numerous roles of
caring ministries in the church, Paul makes clear that the headship principle
prevents them from bearing office in the church. Moreover, this submission in
marriage and in the church is to be voluntary. In short, if a woman cannot be a
loving, submissive helper to the man who proposes to her, she should not marry
him any more than a man should propose marriage to a woman to whom he
does not intend to show loving, self-denying leadership.
The woman made by God
The woman is not only made for man; she is also made by God as a special act of
creation. Both the man and woman were special creations of God. They were
created in equal dignity. Genesis 2:21â€“22 says, â€śAnd the LORD God caused a deep
sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up
the flesh instead thereof.â€ť
God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam as an initial step in the creation
of woman. This â€śdeep sleepâ€ť must have been something like anesthesia today,
and the operation that God performed much like medical surgery. God took
away one of manâ€™s ribs and filled the empty place with flesh, closing up the
From the rib, God then â€śmadeâ€ťâ€”literally, in Hebrew, â€śbuiltâ€ť or
â€śconstructedâ€ť a woman. God miraculously, meticulously, beautifully,
laboriously, formed woman with His own hands, making her every bit as special
as the man he had created before her.
There is something particularly beautiful, even poetic, about this creation.
The woman is made for the man and might therefore be thought of as manâ€™s
servant. But Genesis says nothing of this. Instead, as Matthew Henry put it: â€śThe
woman was not made out of the manâ€™s head to rule over him, nor out of his feet
to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his
arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.â€ť
Then the loving Father presented the bride that His own hands had
carefully formed to the man. He â€śbrought her unto the manâ€ť (v. 22b), which is a
special phrase in Hebrew that means â€śpresented or conducted her to the man.â€ť
The word also implies the formal, solemn giving of the woman within the bonds
of the marriage covenant, which Proverbs 2:17 calls â€śthe covenant of God.â€ť God,
as the womanâ€™s Creator and Father, brought her to the man, as the Puritans used
to say, â€śas his second self, to be a help meet for him.â€ť
In bringing the woman to the man, God established marriage as the first,
most basic of all human institutions. Before there were governments or churches
or schools or any other social structures, God established a household based on
the mutual respect and love of a husband and wife. All other human institutions
derived from that. From the authority of the father came the patriarchal systems
of human government, which would eventually give rise to monarchies and
democracies. From the responsibility of parents to educate their children came
the more formal systems of education that we call schools and colleges. From the
need to care for the familyâ€™s health came physicians and hospitals. From the
obligation of parents to train their children in the knowledge of God came
temples, synagogues, and churches. All human organizations can be traced back
to the home, the family, and ultimately to marriage.
Adam, whom God then awakened, immediately recognized Eve as his
companionâ€”the perfect fit for the longing that had been awakened in him. In
response, he broke into a kind of wedding song, celebrating his similarity and
union with the woman by naming her.
The woman named by man
Adam said, â€śThis is nowâ€ť (v. 23a)â€”i.e., â€śthis timeâ€ťâ€”now, at long last, Adam
finds that which corresponds to him. The close association is emphasized by
their names, since she is called â€śwomanâ€ť [ishah] because she was taken out of
man [ish]. The Hebrew word for â€śwomanâ€ť is formed simply by adding the
feminine ending of â€śâ€“ahâ€ť to the word for â€śman.â€ť A parallel difference would be
between lion and lioness, or tiger and tigress. So Adam, by divine revelation,
realized the woman was taken out of him. His act of naming his wife reinforced
his leadership and authority over her, but her name also indicated that he
understood her equality with him as his partner.
The divine miracle that Adam witnessed filled him with inexpressible joy,
inspiring him to cry out in beautiful poetry, â€śThis is now bone of my bones, and
flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Manâ€ť
Adam and Eve then entered into a sinless marriage. â€śMarriage is
honorable,â€ť wrote Matthew Henry, â€śbut this surely was the most honorable
marriage that ever was, in which God Himself had all along an immediate
To Adamâ€™s wedding song, God appends in verse 24 a beautiful, sacred
blueprint for marriage, which involves a leaving, a joining, and a oneness:
â€śTherefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his
wife: and they shall be one flesh.â€ť These are probably the words of Moses, the
inspired author of Genesis, who provides us with this sacred precept that Jesus
repeats in Matthew 19 and Paul repeats in Ephesians 5:31â€“32, saying, â€śFor 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
Christ and the church.â€ť These three essential traitsâ€”leaving, cleaving [or
joining], and onenessâ€”still exist post-fall, in Christ, in a good marriage.
The woman made to be one with the man
The three parts of Godâ€™s blueprint for marriage are important marks of a good
(1) Leaving. Leaving father and mother is a tremendous adjustment. The
closeness of family unity must yield to a new family unit with a new head. This
new unity takes priority over the parent-child relationship. Thereâ€™s a chain of
reasoned thought here: One must leave in order to cleave, and two must cleave
to become one flesh.
(2) Cleaving. A newly married couple must join together. The original
Greek word can be translated â€ścemented together.â€ť The bridegroom and bride
form a new relationship inseparable from each other. The woman becomes part
of the man, and vice versa. They become more than each otherâ€™s intimate
companion, best friend, and faithful partner.
(3) Oneness. The expression one flesh is the strongest Hebrew construction
to indicate a change of state. This is implied already in Eveâ€™s being formed out of
Adam. The goal of marriage, however, is not just to become one physically, as
important and fulfilling as that may be, but in every aspect of the relationship:
one in heart, one in love, one in trust, one in purpose, one in thinking, and, above
all, one in Christ. A oneness that is no deeper than physical will soon dissipate
and most likely end in an unhappy marriage or in a divorce court. But a marriage
that has an overall oneness in heart, mind, and action will have special physical
oneness as well! Physical oneness does not produce a great marriage; but a great
marriage, in Christ, produces great physical oneness as well as a great
intellectual, emotional, and spiritual oneness.
Oneness is the great goal of marriageâ€”to be one with God through Christ,
then, out of that oneness, to be one with another. But how can a sinner, who has
separated from God, become one with God? Only through the Savior, Jesus
Christ, who Himself engaged in a leaving, a joining, and a oneness in wooing
and winning His bride. Paul puts it this way, â€śThis is a great mystery, but I speak
concerning Christ and the churchâ€ť (Eph. 5:32). Here is how He did that:
(1) Christ left His Father willingly. He left the crown and throne and
courts of glory to come into this world, to seek out His bride. He endured heart-
wrenching separation from His Father on the cross. He thus paid the dowry price
for His bride so that she might become part of His body, His flesh, and His
(2) On Calvaryâ€™s cross, Christ joined Himself to His bride. As He was
dying, she was mystically formed out of Him as the Second Adam, just as Eve
was formed out of the first Adam when in a deep sleep. As the woman came
from Adamâ€™s side to symbolize their being joined together, so from the
wounded, bleeding, dying side of our Savior, the church of God was taken out,
as it were, to be born, to live, and to be joined with her Savior. This is a great
(3) The greatest part of this mystery, however, is: â€śThey shall become one
flesh.â€ť The church of God, says Paul, makes up the total fullness of Christ as
Mediator. He is the Head; the church is the body. â€śAnd gave Him to be the Head
over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth
all-in-allâ€ť (Eph. 1:22â€“23). This mystical union will be perfected one day in
heavenâ€™s ideal, unbreakable union.
When we are born again through the regenerating power of the Holy
Spirit, we become personally united with Jesus Christ. We become one â€śin
Christ.â€ť That is why Paul never tired of describing a Christian in this way. In his
epistles, Paul uses this phrase or a similar phraseâ€”in Christ, in Christ Jesus, or in
Himâ€”at least 164 times. That is Paulâ€™s favorite way of describing a Christian.
For example, Paul writes, â€śIf any man be in Christ, he is a new creature,â€ť
or, as the original has it, â€śa new creationâ€ť (2 Cor. 5:17). By being united with
Christ, a person becomes a new creation. He is one in Christ; he is united with
Christ. Likewise, in Ephesians 1:3, Paul says, â€śBlessed be the God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in
heavenly places in Christ.â€ť
The believerâ€™s union with Christ is profoundly intimate. When Paul
speaks of union with Christ, he uses a special prefix in Greek, best translated as
â€śco-,â€ť meaning that tie is indissoluble. Literally, he says in Galatians 2:20, â€śI am
co-crucified with Christ.â€ť That is, when He died, in a sense I also died. In
Romans 6:4, Paul speaks of being buried with Christ, in Ephesians 2 of being
raised with Christ and of sitting with Him in heavenly places, and in Romans 8
of being glorified together with Christ. Paul is saying that the intimacy of the
believerâ€™s union with Christ is so great that there is a sense in which, when He
was crucified, the believer was also crucified; when He died, the believer also
died; when He was buried, the believer was also buried; when He was raised
from the dead, the believer was also raised; when He ascended, the believer also
ascended. Who can comprehend this mystical union? One poet said:
One in the tomb, one when He arose,
One when He triumphed oâ€™er His foes,
One when in heaven He took His seat,
While seraphs sang all hellâ€™s defeat.
With Him our Head we stand or fall,
Our life, our surety, our all.
Oh, what dignity exists in all thisâ€”dignity in Eveâ€™s creation as a woman,
one with her husband, sharing that dignity with him! And now, through faith,
dignity in the recreation of Christâ€™s bride, to be made one with the Bridegroomâ€”
to share in His dignity and glory, to be loved by God with some of that very
same love with which God loves His own Son! Truly, there is no dignity like the
dignity of recreationâ€”of being made the very bride of Jesus Christ.
What about your marriageâ€”does it reflect oneness in Christ? When it is not what
you expect it to be, do you ask: How can I (not my partner) make a more
profound oneness? Do you work toward cultivating greater intimacy in your
Today, marriage is under attack. Hedonism is rampant. Adultery is
gaining widespread acceptance. Unbiblical divorces can now be granted via the
The basic structure of society is falling apart. Too often believers fare little
better. We need desperately to understand the value of marriage and to work
hard at achieving excellence in marriage through the Lord Jesus. We must strive
for oneness so that our marriages may be open epistles of Godâ€™s grace in an
We must not surrender to the love of self that is fostered by our culture.
The only way to have a truly successful marriage is to put Christ first, your
spouse second, and yourself third. Love of self must be broken at the foot of the
cross of Christ. Only when we see ourselves as sinners in rebellion against God
and bow before Him for forgiveness and help in pursuing holiness, will love fill
our marriages and spill over into all our other relationships. Then we will truly
understand that a marriage does not exist for self but for usâ€”for the children
and society, and ultimately for the glory of God.
Are we daily seeking Godâ€™s glory in our marriage? Husbands, are you
striving to be a loving head in your marriage? Wives, are you striving to show
loving submission to your husband? There is no room in a biblical marriage for
bossesâ€”only for loving headship and loving submission as one man and one
woman seek to live out, by Godâ€™s grace, the Christ-church relationship on earth.
Finally, a word to young people: The oneness that God intends marriage
to be in Christ means that you must not marry an unbeliever. If you marry
someone who has a personal agenda for marriage rather than Godâ€™s agenda, you
will most likely be setting yourself up for years of heartbreak and sorrow. Second
Cor. 6:14 says, â€śBe not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what
fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion hath
light with darkness?â€ť
Look for a marriage partner given to you in Godâ€™s favor and out of His
hand. And if you want to be a good marriage partner yourself, wrote Thomas
Manton, â€śClear up your right and title by Christâ€ť (Works 2:164). Make your own
calling and election sure. If you and your partner are God-fearing, your marriage
will greatly benefit because you will have someone to help you strive to live to
Godâ€™s glory, to live a holy life, to bear the crosses God will send your way, and to
confidently approach God through Christ in prayer and worship.
Pray for Godâ€™s direction and counsel and blessing as you wait on Him to
lead you to a God-fearing partner suitable for you. Ask Him for one who is a
help meet for you.
Dear friend, are you married to Jesus Christ? Adam and Eve were not
ashamed because they were clothed with God-given, original righteousness. Are
you, too, not ashamed because you are clothed with the God-given righteousness
of Jesus Christ? Remember, this blessed Savior demands your faithfulness. He is
jealous for your wedded love. You must not stray from Him.
What do you think of this perfect Bridegroom? Are you married to
another lordâ€”to the prince of this world? Satanâ€™s promises are lies. His dowry is
anguish. His embrace is death. His chamber is darkness. His bed is in flames of
Whatever our case may be, let us flee with all our shortcomings in our
natural married life and in our spiritual marriage to the perfect Bridegroom,
Jesus Christ. Let us leave the godlessness of this world and cleave to Christ, to be
one with Himâ€”now and forever.