Aimee Byrd

Inside the word. Outside the box.

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My upcoming book is dedicated to Anna Anderson, as we have done so much thinking, studying, and discussing in awe and wonder over the typology of man and woman that unfolds throughout Scripture. Rather than a natural theology from below, we have come to embrace an anthropology of man and woman that is anchored in eschatology. Anna is currently working on how Revelation 12 helps inform our reading of Genesis 3:16. I asked if she would write out her insights to share for my readers. Here is her guest post:

I am not the only one who has been stumped by Genesis 3:16b, “your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” If you open the commentaries, you will find all of the following opinions on the subject of the woman’s desire and the man’s rule. If you charted them, it would look something like this: 

Woman’s Desire Good Woman’s Desire Bad
Man’s Rule Good Desire Good, Rule Good  (Church fathers)1 Desire Bad, Rule Good (Foh, Ortlund )2
Man’s Rule Bad Desire Good, Rule Bad (Trible,  Powell)3 Desire Bad, Rule Bad (Wenham, Ross, Waltke, Motyer, Knight)4

The church fathers were unanimous in their opinion that both the woman’s desire and man’s rule over her were good. The woman turns to her husband, and he rules over her, for her good.5 Like Aristotle, they judged that the woman by nature was incapable of ruling herself and required the man’s governance. Aristotle’s reasons were biological, not theological. He considered the female a poor outcome for the active male seed.6 Thus woman was regarded as sub-ideal and thus situated between man and the animals on the scale of nature, with the ethical implication that she should be ruled. Aristotle’s view was institutionalized in the church for many reasons. One is that a superficial reading of Genesis 2 seems somewhat compatible with Aristotle’s view. The woman was from the man (Aristotle’s male seed) and second (secondary). Like animals, she is man’s helper — you might say, created “to affirm, receive, and nurture” male strength specifically.7 These ideas have changed very little in church history, whether we care to admit that or not.

Aristotle (4th century BCE)Augustine (c. 400) Aquinas (1265) Gouge (1622)Piper (2006), Wilson (2006)
By nature, woman cannot rule herself; her virtues are obedience and silence.8The woman, inferior by nature, has the virtues of subordination and silence.9See Aristotle.10 The woman, inferior by nature, has the virtues of subordination and silence unless she is responding to her husband’s wisdom.11 Femininity is  submission, obedience,  and gratitude, and responsiveness.12

The starting point for Aristotle was himself, not the self-contained triune God of Scripture. In Genesis 1:26-31, the woman is seen first and foremost as God’s complement, from him and through him and for union and communion with him, confirmed by her nature as a personal image-bearer. We stay on track if we keep Genesis 1 in mind when we come to Genesis 2. Like the man, the woman bears the image of God, and by nature is formed for unmediated personal communion with him before, in, and beyond the shadow and type of marriage (cf. 1 Cor. 7:29-34; Matt. 22:30).13 God blesses and speaks to them in Genesis 1:26-31. The prevailing plurals of the passage show that the one mankind is a plurality—both the man and the woman hear his voice and receive his blessing. Like the man, she is “very good,” made in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over “every living thing that lives on the earth.” 

In 1974, a student at Westminster Theological Seminary wrote a journal article on the woman’s desire in Genesis 3:16b that caused a seismic shift in how the woman is perceived. Her article, “What is the Woman’s Desire?” is the basis for a prevailing view of woman’s “desire” today.14 Unlike the church fathers who spoke of her inferiority by nature (Gen. 1-2), this article surmised her inferiority by her new fallen nature in Genesis 3. God cursed her with a desire to overthrow the man in Genesis 3, in a way analogous to sin’s desire to destroy Cain in Genesis 4. Her view, though novel in the 1960s, has been incorporated into the most recent versions of the NLT, “And you will desire to control your husband,” and the ESV, “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband.” Her article threw biblical weight to a long-ripened idea that what the woman wants most is to overcome her position as second and her “role” as helper.15 This has resulted in heavy-handedness in the church. The passions warring within us, that lead to power struggles among us, are thought to be especially the woman’s lot (cf. James 4:1-12). Believed to be ethically cursed at the core of her being in Genesis 3:16b, many think that the woman requires preemptive and expeditious rule from the men in authority over her. So whether it is the biology of Aristotle (natural law), the anthropology of the church based on Genesis 2 (natural theology),16 or the recent understanding of woman based on Genesis 3:16b (the new natural theology), woman continues to be understood according to what she supposedly lacks naturally and ethically. 

I suggest that our anthropology, our understanding of who we are as male and female, has never taken flight. I would like to offer a new angle, a Christological and redemptive-historical reading of Genesis 3:15-20, in the light of Revelation 12. Perhaps the reason we have not been able to come to a consensus on Genesis 3:16b is that we cling to the dust and do not set our minds on things above, on God and the Lamb enthroned in Sabbath rest in the heavens.17 

Anyone familiar with Aimee’s writing knows that she aims at the heart of what woman is. She sees woman as a type of Zion, both the heavenly mother realm and the bridal people destined for it. Time moves toward a consummation inaugurated in Genesis 1:1 with the creation of the heavenly throne room and earthly footstool (Is 66:1; Neh 9:6).18 From Genesis 1-2 until the full light of Revelation 21-22, God’s people await the day when he will make his dwelling among them and he will be their God and they will be his people. On that day, the realm of Zion will come forth as a bride with her people dressed in white. In the middle of the unfolding testimony of Scripture stands the Song of Songs, a bird’s-eye view of desire for this. In the misty otherworldliness of its verse, we find the shepherd-king with his beloved, a bride in the wilderness. Their desire for one another (Song 7:10) carries them forward toward a time when their temporal bond (8:8) promises to give way to consummate mutual delight on mountains of spice (8:10-14). 

While woman represents heaven, both mother city and bridal people, man represents the earth in its press heavenward through covenantal obedience. God identifies man (adam) with the earth (adamah) from the beginning. He is formed “to work the ground” (2:5). He is “from the ground,” (7), tasked with keeping the plants that have sprung up “from the ground” (9), and he names every beast of the field and the birds of heaven that God formed “out of the ground” (19). He is given the command, “you shall not eat,” under threat of the penalty, that he will die, returning into the ground from which he came. His fall leads to the cursing of the ground in 3:17-19. He is representative of the earth specifically in its press toward consummation implied in the commands “work and keep” and “do not eat,” seen in the light of the promise held out in the tree of life.19 Thus the union and communion of the man and the woman in Genesis 2:24-25 could be seen to anticipate a future union and communion of earth and heaven and their inhabitants, men and angels, when heaven and earth will become bone of each other’s bone and flesh of each other’s flesh, to the knowledge and glory of the triune God in exhaustive union and communion within himself. 

With this, we turn to Genesis 3:15-20. A wooden translation of these verses without regard to typology is a problem for many reasons:

  1. Gen. 3:16-20 follows that great announcement of the gospel spoken of figuratively in 3:15, that the Seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head
  2. The two curses are diverted from the woman and man to the serpent (3:14) and the ground (3:17), so seeing 3:16-20 as merely punitive for the man and woman is unlikely
  3. The Hebrew word “childbearing” (3:16a) is more comprehensive than childbirth, and its pain would belong to both Adam and Eve in losing their first two sons to death and exile in 4:1-12
  4. Some women are exempted from the supposed “curse” of childbearing (3:16); similarly, some men are exempted from working by the sweat of their face (3:19), while all over the world, many women sweat to feed their families and men toil to rear their children
  5. Only the man is told that the ground will bring forth thorns and thistles and that he will return to the dust, and yet the woman also experiences the obstinacy of the earth and returns to dust (3:19)
  6. The word for the man’s “rule” in 3:16b is used in 1:18 for the sun ruling the day, and the moon ruling the night, meaning to hold supreme control under God for good or as an omen of evil (cf. Joshua 10; Luke 23:45). yet the man is never explicitly commanded in Scripture to rule over the woman; and when he is presented as holding absolute sway, it never bodes well beginning immediately in Gen. 4:19-24 (cf. 6:1-4; 12:10-15; 19:8; 20:1-3; 26:6-11; 34:1-29; 38:24-30; etc. )
  7. A much missed emphasis in Genesis 3:15 is that the Seed belongs to the woman specifically, which does not fit well with the readings stressing her natural or ethical inferiority. In the unfolding revelation, Christ is first the woman’s seed, before he is revealed as the seed of Abraham (12:7) and David (2 Sam 7:12).20 

The enigma of Genesis 3:15-20 may be answered in Revelation 12, a reading which does not lead to our self-exaltation in its many forms today.21 What lines up? 

Genesis 3:15-20Revelation 12
woman “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (12:1)
pain in bearing the Seed “She was pregnant and crying out in the pains and the agony of giving birth . . .. . . “ (2)
serpent “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon . . . that ancient serpent.” ( 3, 9)
enmity “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.” (4)
woman’s seed “She gave birth to a male child. . . “ (5a)
rule “. . . one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” (5b)
(Despite thorns and thistles) . . you shall eat“And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.” (6)
Seed will bruise the serpent’s head “. . . but he (the dragon) was defeated . .. . he knows that his time is short.” (8-9)
serpent “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.” (9)
Ruler“Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come down.” (10)
Woman   “But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent . . .” (14a)
(Despite thorns and thistles) . . . you shall eat“ . . .into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.” (14b)
Man as Earth“The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.” (15-16)
Woman as Zion, mother of the “all living”“Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (17)

In Revelation, we see the mother of the male child who is born to rule the nations. The woman is crowned and clothed with honor from on high. Mother Zion above, often mentioned in prophetic Scripture, gives birth to the Seed amidst heavenly warfare with the dragon, while facing his malice and wrath against her after being thrown down.22 Not only does she birth the male child, but other offspring, the “all-living” born from above, who “keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” The man as Earth comes to the help of the woman as Zion, relentlessly pursued by the serpent in the wilderness. He swallows the flood of venomous accusations from the serpent that threatens to sweep away the woman. Thus the male child who ascended in Rev 12:1-6, is the slain Lamb of vv. 7-12, is the Earth, the man Jesus, in vv. 13-17. The woman and her offspring will prevail, holding to the testimony of Jesus, who causes her to overcome in death and be brought to the end for which she is destined, consummate union and communion with the triune God. The ascended Lord brings heaven and earth together (Eph 1:10), thus he alone is worthy “to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” He sovereignly rules over the woman bringing the fruition of her desire in Revelation 21-22. At the end, Zion is no longer the mother in labor but the bride at rest. Thus the woman’s desire is realized. Heaven and earth, the bride and the Groom, embrace, and he will rule over her as the substance and pledge of her everlasting blessedness.

Anna Anderson has a MA in Religion from Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington and is pursuing her ThM at Union School of Theology in Wales.

1 Ancient Christian Commentary of Scriptures I, ed. Andrew Louth, 92-94.

2 Susan T. Foh (Schindler), Women and the Word of God, 69; Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., “Male-Female Equality and Male Headship, Genesis 1-3,” Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 109. 

3 Phyllis Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, 126; Sam Powell, Genesis 3:16 

4 Gordon Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 1: Genesis 1-15, ; Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing, 146-147; J. A. Motyer, The Message of Genesis 1-11, 93-94, George W. Knight III, “The Family and the Church,” Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 346; Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis, 94. The commentators who fit in this category tend to agree that the man’s rule can be prone to harshness. 

5 Anna Anderson, “The Church Fathers on Genesis 3:16cd,”

6 Aristotle, Generation of Animals, I, 728a. See Prudence Allen, Concept of Woman: The Aristotelian Revolution, 223. 

7 See Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 46. 

8 Aristotle, Politics 1.1260a.

9 Literal Commentary on Genesis, IX, 5; Confessions Book IX, 9. 

10 Aquinas, Summa Theologiae (1a, q. 92, a.1, Obj.1). 

11 William Gouge, Building a Godly Home: A Holy Vision for a Happy Marriage, 103-105, 114, 118, 168. 12 John Piper, Recovering, 46; Douglas Wilson, For Glory and a Covering, 44. 

13 For an understanding of image as a natural communion bond, see Lane Tipton, Foundations of Covenant Theology, 67-74, 136. 

14 Susan T. Foh (Schindler), “What is the Woman’s Desire?”, Click to access foh-womansdesire-wtj.pdf

15 George Knight wrote extensively on “role,” which seemingly rescues the woman from being understood as ontologically inferior, and yet fails to root her “role” biblically-theologically. See “The New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Male and Female with Special Reference to the Teaching/Ruling Functions in the Church.” See also his book Role Relationships of Men and Women: New Testament Teaching

16 Steve Wedgeworth, “Male-Only Ordination is Natural: Why the Church is a Model of Reality,” Tipton, Foundations, 9.

17 Tipton, Foundations, 9.

18 Ibid., 33-41. 

19 Ibid, 93. 

20 For more on the connection between the mother and ruler, see Anna Anderson, “The Church Manifest in New Jerusalem as Woman With Special Emphasis Given to the Gevirah Figure,” sis_Given_to_the_Gevirah_Figure20200718_37792_u7i74y.

21 I find this quote by Lane Tipton especially helpful, “The central concern of Scripture is the glory of the self-contained triune God—-not man, not the earth, not angels, not Satan, but God himself,” Foundations, 23. 

22 Meredith Kline, God, Heaven, and Harmageddon, 173.

29 thoughts on “A New Reading of Desire and Rule

  1. Cynthia W. says:

    That was really interesting. Nice charts!


  2. Shelly says:

    As always, Aimee aims to look to scripture for the answers. It is refreshing to see this is the case with Anna as well. Extremely thought provoking and worth the strain on my brain cells to think deeply about it.


  3. Carol Noren Patterson says:

    Transgenderism is such a huge topic now. I am not for it, but that is my “opinion”.


  4. I was just preaching on Hebrews 11:1-3 and was listing some things we can “count on stand on ” (sub-stantial faith ) and I spent a couple minutes in Rev 22 where we will “reign” its a “for sure thing” but I pointed out that while we may be “ruling” 1) there are no enemies and 2) everyone else is doing it too. We don’t think of either of those things very often when we think of “ruling” I suggested that having power over other people maynit be such a big part of God’s calling in your life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cynthia W. says:

      That is very insighful.


  5. Sam Powell says:

    Fascinating insights. Some of these things I have been thinking through myself, but this is very well articulated.
    I have mulled on the connection between Revelation 12 and Genesis 2 and 3 before but this is very well-reasoned. Thank you for sharing it.


    1. annaandbrent says:

      Thanks, Sam, for your comment. I really appreciate your article on Gen. 3:16 and it was foundational in setting me on a new path of thinking. One thing that I did not include in the article is the exegetical evidence for the woman as Zion/sacred space at the beginning of Genesis. Here it is in case it is helpful: In Genesis 2 and 3, the woman is never associated with the dust of the ground, either by creation or dissolution. Her creation is immediate and supernatural, like Adam’s, and yet not earthy. She is from his side, צֵלָע, a word reserved almost exclusively for the walls of the sacred objects and structures made according to the heavenly archetype, whether the ark of the covenant (Ex 25:12, 14; 37:3, 5, 27), the tabernacle (Ex 26:20, 26; 36:25, 31, 32), the bronze altar (Ex 26:27, 35; 27:7), the altar of incense (30:4), the altar of of ascension (Ex 38:7), Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:5, 8, 15, 16; 6:16, 35), the Holy of Holies (1 Kings 6:16); the doors of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:35), or Ezekiel’s eschatological temple (Eze 41:5, 6, 7 , 9, 11, 26). Of the other times that צֵלָע is used to indicate “side” outside of sacred space, it is used once to indicate the “side” of Jerusalem, a hill of Mt. Olivet (2 Sam 16:13) and once for the walls of Solomon’s palace (1 Kings 7:3). The translation of צֵלָע as “rib” is unprecedented in the Hebrew Scriptures, and yet sacred space personified as mother, daughter, and above all, bride, pervades Scripture, from Genesis forward. Indeed, the descent of the bridal city is the final word concerning the consummation of the first order, the embrace of heaven and earth at the consummation of time.


      1. Sam Powell says:

        I’d have to mull that one through. I see the point, but decades of Reformed hermeneutics makes me leery of too much allegorizing –
        I truly appreciate your work and it opens up a lot of thoughts – so, mulling. mulling…
        Thanks for your kind words, also….


      2. annaandbrent says:

        Thanks, Sam. I feel like I am most dependent on Vos for redemptive-historical exegesis. The principles I am using in applying typico-symbolism to anthropology come from Vos, Van Til (representational principle), and Kline (replication principle), in line with Old Princeton and Westminster. Greg Beale’s work “The Temple and the Church’s Mission,” shows the unfolding revelation of sacred space, a history of heaven. I feel as if I have wandered not too far in applying that principle to anthropology. As Van Til wrote, “It was impossible for God to create except upon the representational plan” (Survey of Christian Epistemology, 97). That God would teach us about himself (and all He has in store for those that love Him), through forming us, might not be as innovative as it first sounds.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Sam Powell says:

        Very good. I think I am beginning to see it. I’m a bit slow.
        You make a lot of valid points. My sticking point is applying “dust” only to the male of the species – if I am hearing you correctly. It seems to me that would make the woman another thing entirely. My understanding is that the woman was taken from man, and therefore everything that is essential to mankind is essential to male and to female.
        So I guess it would depend on whether being “from the dust of the ground” and filled with the “breath of God” is essential to humanity (I am using the term philosophically, not colloquially). Since Adam is of dust, and Eve is from Adam, it seems to imply that she is also of dust. This seems to be verified in the hard fact that the woman also returns to dust in death.
        I love the stream of thought that you are going down, and I think there is some validity there – so, more mulling.
        Thanks so much for the response. I am truly enjoying this discussion.


      4. annaandbrent says:

        Thanks so much for being willing to go back and forth a bit. It is helping me think through again how I have come to see things, which I hope is a faithful representation of the way things are. So we have two accounts of the creation of man: (1) what some call the synchronic reading of Genesis 1; (2) the diachronic unfolding of Genesis 2. I believe that what Genesis 1 emphasizes is one mankind, male and female, bearing his image. As Lane Tipton has emphasized, the image is a natural, personal, bond of religious fellowship which sets apart each member of mankind as from him, through him, and to him. “Dust of earth” and
        “side” are not mentioned in Genesis 1. When we come to Genesis 2, we see an unfolding— first man, then woman, with significant differences highlighting the progression/ascent of God himself from the work of creation to enthronement in the heavens in Sabbath rest in 2:4 (Neh 9:6). Mankind unfolds likewise. Adam represents the principle of Earth striving to enter Sabbath rest (Heb. 4:4) whereas Eve represents the goal, the Sabbath city promised as the reward for obedience. She eventually will be named the mother of the “all-living” (in line with the tree, the river, and breath of life, all of which hold out eschatological hope). Other notable differences in Gen. 2: Adam is “molded” from the dust; Eve is “built” from his side. Embedded in our very beings, both our ontology as image bearers (Gen. 1) and typology revealed in Gen. 2, is the promise of the covenant: I will walk among them and be their God and they will be my people.


      5. annaandbrent says:

        If the woman as both personal image-bearer and typico-symbol of Zion are not in place, our anthropology devolves and becomes less than theological and does not serve the end of glorifying and enjoying him. Douglas Wilson put out two videos on YouTube this month, one on the woman’s natural subordination and one of the “natural use of the woman” (babies and sandwiches). He said: “Man was made for the garden and woman was made for man.” He has missed it altogether. By being made in the image of God, man and woman are first and foremost made for the divine Gardner (Genesis 1). But Genesis 2 is equally important because it gives the natural use of the woman. She is to help the first Adam reach the eschatological goal by what (1) she represents and (2) what she does — she symbolizes to him the goal of his obedience AND she beckons him heavenward as his bride, saying, “Come” (SoS 7:11; Rev. 22:17, cf. John 4:29; 20:18). This is her commission (and substance of her failure). Neither children nor food preparation are in view in the garden of Genesis 2, and yet “helping” Adam continue in the command, “You shall not eat,” saturates its atmosphere. I believe Adam is given the identity of sanctuary priest and representative head of humanity, and yet Eve is commissioned by God with an equally glorious task, as representative and herald of the goal of his federal obedience. If we see the woman only in relation to Adam’s temporal needs, maybe there is some substance to Wilson’s horizontal approach. But I believe that from Genesis 2 – Rev. 22, the woman stands to represent Zion, the glory realm and people of God, veiled from our sight, but received by faith as the perfection of beauty out of which God shines forth (Ps. 50:2; cf. 48:1-3).


      6. Sam Powell says:

        I totally agree with you here.


  6. Chris Cradock says:

    Not at all sure this maps as closely as you think to Rev. 12. But even if it did, how does it fundamentally change the views on Genesis 3 that you disagree with? At best, it elevates the context ultimately but it doesn’t seem to change the more pragmatic reading of the text, especially when put alongside other passages, most notably from the Epistles. Do passages in Revelation explain them away too?


    1. Kirk D Anderson says:

      Explained away? What is there to explain away? Perhaps what you seek here is context. Gen 3:14-19 is a curse not a proclamation of law. It is the description of the fall. It’s a contrast of what was, what was intended, and from that moment forward what would be. As an example, retranslate the word serpent to reptile. The bones of that particular ‘what was’ litter mountainsides and museums around the world. Christ came to redeem, and Revelation describes the end of the curse. The curse is what we are redeemed from, and Christ’s example; “he emptied himself taking the form of a servant” is what we are called to.


  7. Kirk D Anderson says:

    Thank you so much for this! Gen 3 has been on my heart and mind lately. The connection you explore with Rev 12 sets me brain buzzing! I thank God for you!


  8. John says:

    I have not thought deeply in this area, so I can’t offer any substantive comment. Though, I happened to be perusing the topics at the Biblical Theology group of the upcoming Tyndale Fellowship in June 2022: Looks like some folks want to challenge aspects of Beale’s approach. Would love to make it to Cambridge – anybody want to fund my trip?


  9. thewyrdsmth says:

    Also, not sure if my other comment made it through, but does that mean men and women are different types of humans in relation to God? Men have his direct breath of life but women bear his image and breath only by proxy, through men?


    1. annaandbrent says:

      I think that we will not get Genesis 2 right unless Genesis 1 has firmly settled with us. The woman is the immediate creation of God (from him). Each woman and each man is endowed with the image, a natural bond of religious communion with God. The relation of God to man is Person (Creator) to person (human creature), thus murder is a capital offense in Genesis 9:6. Yes, the picture of the woman’s creation in Genesis 2 does not show her receiving the breath of life given to Adam. Instead, Adam is immoblized in a death-like state while Eve is “built” and animated from his side and brought to him. I believe the reason she is not shown to receive the first breath, is because she represents the “second breath.” Adam represents the state of innocence in its press from work to Sabbth rest; Eve represents to him the confirmed state of glory, an escalation of both image and breath. She does not signify the breath of life, but “life-givingness,” (1 Cor. 15:45) as Zion, the mother of the “all-living.” It is not that she ontologically different from Adam as mankind, but she represents the final state of God’s people as confirmed in glory. Thus she is the glory of man. The man of Genesis 2 represents the first breath and the woman of Genesis 2 represents the second breath in the apostle Paul’s two-breath theology. See Gaffin here: and a good discussion here:


      1. Thank you for this response. I only asked becase I’ve been struggling with ideas taught to me that there is greater intimacy between men and God which is why he aligns himself and the entire Trinity with maleness while women only ever represent humanity.


  10. annaandbrent says:

    That is truly a baffling proposition, that there is greater intimacy between God’s male image-bearers and God, than between His female image-bearers and God. Baffling, wrong, and desecrating. It seems to me that’s an exegetical problem with Genesis 1. Our maleness and femaleness are ultimately instructive of God himself — Father, Son, and Spirit, both processions and indwelling one another. If we do not allow ourselves to point to what we were made to point to, but somehow make it about ourselves (who is superior or who is better suited to communion with God), I think we have wandered far off-track.


    1. Chris Cradock says:

      As fallen human beings (which is not an exegetical problem with Genesis 2, I hope we’re all agreed?), it would appear that’s quite hard to do!
      For women as well as men.


      1. annaandbrent says:

        Chris, I am sorry but I don’t understand. Could you tell me what “that” refers to in your comment? (point to God himself or “make it about ourselves”)? Thanks.


      2. Chris Cradock says:

        “If we do not allow ourselves to point to what we were made to point to, but somehow make it about ourselves (who is superior or who is better suited to communion with God), I think we have wandered far off-track.”


      3. annaandbrent says:

        Yes, it is so difficult, but the Spirit is willing. We are called to thinking that is both Christocentric and Christotelic, Christ the center and goal of our theological reflections on anthropology and its outworking in ethics..


    2. It was just an idea heavily infused in many Christian circles. It breaks my heart how much “natural law” and the historical subjugation of women has bled into Christianity. I’m looking forward to reading more about this subject as it does sort of put things into greater perspective. I think I just need to try to uncouple my mind from a worldview that has traditionally linked difference with hierarchy and superiority when it comes to the topic of gender and God.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. annaandbrent says:

        Yes, the disregard shows how difficult it is for us in our fallen state to live out Phillipians 2:1-8. It shows the human tendancy to classify our neighbor as “other,” and then “other” as less than. It is sadly endemic among us. I believe eschatology helps us, a vision of the mountain of the Lord where we prism the beauty of our triune God in our unity and diversity. His transhistorical male and female image bearers reflect His light, resounding not only to His glory but to our eternal delight. As Aimee often mentions, when we reject our neighbor who is other as a gift, it shows we have not yet come to worship Him rightly.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Bill Everson says:

    This invoked a lot of thinking for me. I love the statement Anna makes that ‘context is important’; and so I went back to consider carefully what she wrote; and realized there is a lot more context, relevant to understanding the verses in chapter 3, where there is much controversy. It seemed that, if we take the time to build the full context, stone by stone, then these verse teach us things that are very helpful, in the same direction as Anna’s analysis, and the helpful scholarly dialogue in the comments above.

    Anna captures the foundational context for the middle verse of Genesis 3, form Genesis 1:26; the full passage is helpful and gives this more breadth:

    Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
    Gen 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
    Gen 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
    Gen 1:29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
    Gen 1:30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, {I have given} every green plant for food”; and it was so.
    Gen 1:31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
    All scriptures herein taken from:
    QuickBible NASB. version 1.0.0 (“SOFTWARE”)
    Copyright (c) 2000 by The Lockman Foundation
    All rights reserved.

    As Anna lays out as a foundational truth, we see a definitive statement in verse 26–Let us make man in Our Image, according to Our likeness, and let THEM rule over…

    We see in the creation itself, first, a mandate given to men and women. and this is repeated–in vv. 27 and 28, with the plain phrasing–‘God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, make and female He created them, and God blessed THEM; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it; and RULE OVER–the fish, the birds, and every living thing.

    Genesis 2 goes into more detail, and offers us a few more foundational truths that build on the statement in Genesis 1:26. God first creates Adam-and gives ADAM, direct mandates, before Eve is created. That adds some relevant foundation stones, too.

    Note first, that God speaks to ADAM ALONE, when He gives the solemn warning NOT TO EAT of the tree of knowledge. EVE is not yet created.

    The wording in scripture is often PRECISE. It’s helpful to consider carefully, the wording in God’s warning to Adam, Eve’s use of language during the dialogue with the Serpent-when she is ‘being deceived’ by the most ‘crafty’ of all the beasts, and then the language God and Adam use, as well as Eve, in the dialogue in focus in Anna’s commentary on the passage.

    As we saw in chapter 1, Men and woman are meant to work together in ruling over God’s Creation; we see God speaking to Adam, and giving Him the mandate, before Eve was created.

    This tells us something more.

    Then God says ‘it is not good for man to be ALONE; I will make a helper suitable for him.

    God gives a mandate-then says-man needs a HELPER to accomplish this…

    Thank you, Anna, for the helpful exegesis of the Hebrew word and its use in scripture, for ‘side’; I found that illuminating, and CONSISTENT with the PREVIOUS and PRESENT context that God created man AND woman in His (or rather ‘OUR’) image (Gen 1:26) .

    So HE creates out of Adam’s SIDE–a woman. We know that within the woman, God creates a sacred space (thank you, Aimee, for helping me see how significant this ‘sacred space’ is-in several places you have written about it). Within this SACRED SPACE-unique to the woman-the womb-distinct from her sexual organs, the womb is the site where a new human being, where NEW LIFE will be NURTURED, but that’s not the focus of the text-though it does come at the end of this chapter-where v 25 mentions that ‘the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed’.

    Next we see the result: .. WO-MAN–bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh-a COMPANION to LOVE and be LOVED BY-to CARRY OUT GOD”S MANDATE WITH!

    WOW… the PRECEDENT FOR ALL HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS. And a picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church!


    WOW, a GLORIOUS, WONDROUS STORY OF GOD”S CREATION-of the ULTIMATE Creature-MAN, made in His IMAGE, able to, TOGETHER create NEW LIFE that is NURTURED within the sacred space where GOD FORMS US–as the Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 139. We are formed BY GOD within this sacred space UNIQUE TO THE WOMAN.

    I have to sidetrack for a moment as we look at God’s FIRST act of creation of human beings made in His image. Is there ANY WORK GOD DOES more GLORIOUS tnan the CREATION OF A NEW LIFE-a NEW PERSON MADE IN HIS IMAGE-than the process of FORMING A CHILD inside this SACRED SPACE–so YES–taken from the SIDE_a word RICH WITH MEANING in reference to HOLY VESSELS–thank you anna.

    (yes there is one-the creation of a New Life in JESUS-when someone is ‘born again’).

    WHAT A GLORIOUS PICTURE OF GOD”S CREATION OF US–a MAN to whom HE GIVES the mandate to multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and reign over it, and the creation of WO-MAN, made from the side; called ALONG SIDE the man as a HELPER in the MANDATE–and with whom the man can CREATE other HUMAN BEINGS-who are NURTURED in this HOLY SPACE within her…where GOD FORMS a NEW creation!

    Chapter 2 is also foundational when we come to the verses in chapter 3.

    3 begins with the deceiver-who sets out to RUIN what God has made.

    The serpent is A CRAFTY beast-the serpent-more crafty than any other beast…

    the language is carefully chosen as the Spirit prompts Moses writing.

    briefly-look back at the wording of the warning God gave to ADAM before Eve was created-then consider the wording of the serpent-as He seeks to deceive Eve; he uses SELECTIVE langage-and falsehood, as his weapons; as Satan who we are later told, worked through this serpent to deceive Eve-also sought to manipulate God’s Word in similar ways, in tempting Jesus–we are SHOWN this deceit that we might understand it, and be wary of it! So let’s carefully examine it. .

    The enemy of God distorts His Words-we have them from chapter 2.

    The woman responds, with words that lack the precision of the words God spoke to Adam-compare them, there’s something to think about-Eve doesn’t name the tree, and then the serpent in his deceit-tells her something she didn’t know-that this fruit would make her wise… which is part of the way he deceives her… telling her something God said that she didn’t know–verse 3 shows her ‘being deceived’ as she thinks through what the serpent has said-“when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was DESIRABLE to make wise–she too from it and ate; and she gave also to her husband WITH HER [standing in apparent SILENCE, not correcting, not waring, not ‘protecting’ her].

    She is DECEIVED, adam eats KNOWINGLY and WILLFULLY-disobeying the command HE was given.

    and the CONSEQUENCE is IMMEDIATE–their eyes are opened and now they see they are NAKED; and they are ashamed and take fig leaves to cover their loins.

    The serpent DECEIVES Eve, then ADAM willfully disobeys, and a CHANGE takes place-a CONSEQUENCE of eating is IMMEDIATE.

    A change that we will see INVOLVES THIS SACRED SPACE in the woman….

    Now we have the FULL foundation laid.

    so let’s consider the initial conversation between God and Adam, and then God’s question to Eve and her response; and then God’s words to the Serpent, Eve, and Adam, respectively, with care.

    God appears-Adam and Eve HIDE. ..

    God calls out to Adam; and Adam responds- ‘I was afraid because I was naked.

    God AFFIRMS that the nakedness is directly related to eating the fruit ‘of which I commanded YOU not to eat’.

    GOD commanded ADAM not to eat-directly, in Genesis 2: 17. Adam knowingly ate. There is a consequence, already.

    God asks Adam what he has done; Adam answers by shifting blame to BOTH GOD AND EVE.


    I’m so PROUD TO BE A MAN as I consider this SUPERIOR CONDUCT OF ADAM compared to Eve… (I do use satire at times, for a purpose).

    but it gets WORSE…

    Next, God speaks to Eve…-‘what is this you have done? Eve responds plainly and honestly: the serpent deceived me, and I ate.

    That fits what the Word of God calls a ‘confession’-truth spoken in the presence of God.

    Adam deflects and shifts the blame-Eve speaks plainly and truthfully-‘ I was deceived. I ate…’.

    NOW we have the FULL CONTEXT for considering God’s Words to the serpent, Eve and Adam.

    God first speks and CURSES the serpent. The serpent is strongly rebuked; “Because you have done this..” and then comes a CURSE on the serpent, detailed, and a consequence-but with a promise of future deliverance by the Messiah-hidden in it…

    Then God speaks to Eve- VERY DIFFERENTLY…

    This is where it’s helpful, to consider the question-WHY do we have THREE TIMES, comments about Adam and Eve being NAKED in this passage?

    First-in Genesis 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed

    Next, in Gen 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

    Then the third time, twice in God’s initial questioning of Adam…

    So the IMPACT of the transgression by Eve, and the willful disobedience by Adam, is plainly in focus here.

    So God responds to Eve, the same way God responds throughout His Word, when men and women speak PLAINLY and TRUTHFULLY to Him..

    I mentioned the sacred space in woman–the womb-which is already in view–and comes fully into view NOW and at the end of this section, as well…

    Now God speaks about the IMPACT of sin on the SACRED SPACE; a change has already taken place-the loins-are covered; CHANGE in their BODIES has already happened.

    is spoke ABOUT–the CHANGE HAS ALREADY COME and been mentioned when God first spoke to Adam in response to his first statement–three times, now, we’ve seen a change-they were NAKED–and ashamed, then Adam was NAKED AND AFRAID, and God linked the NAKEDNESS as a CONSEQUENCE of eating the fruit.

    God’s word to EVE-who CONFESSED HER TRANSGRESSION PLAINLY AND Honestly-the serpent deceived me-for which the SERPENT WAS JUST CURSED–the woman ATE–disobeying the command-that God spoke to Adam.

    So God SPEAKS TO THE CHANGE IN THE SACRED SPACE–NOW–“pain will be multiplied in childbearing…”

    the consequence has ALREADY HAPPENED to their BODIES-and it IMPACTS the sacred space-the woman’s womb-so PAIN will be multiplied in childbirth.

    when we see people ANSWER GOD HONESTLY-God SPEAKS PLAINLY TO THEM-all throughout the Word…

    Here-we see this, too. EVE answered DIRECTLY AND HONESTLY-GOD SPEAKS PLAINLY TO HER.

    But He speaks AGAIN, offering HOPE. ET–your DESIRE will REMAIN as it was intended-so that YOU MAY RULE WITH YOUR HUSBAND OVER THE CREATION-in the SAME ORDER THAT EXISTS in chapters 1 and 2–as a HELPER…

    BEFORE the fall, God CREATES Adam, and GIVES HIM MANDATES-and speaks to ADAM words that ADAM THEN CONVEYED TO EVE_not quite with the same fullness, perhaps; but enough that she transgressed.

    The CREATION MANDATE-to multiply, fill the earth-where Eve’s SACRED SPACE is centrally involved-to subdue the earth and rule over it-lovingly, under God’s direction, is spoken to with HOPE.

    The CURSE has come DIRECTLY AS A CONSEQUENCE, God speaks to this PLAINLY, and yet OFFERS THE HOPE OF THE GOSPEL–yet RESTORATION is spoken…

    Yet your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you-is the PROMISE OF RESTORATION..

    not Adam will rule over ALL WOMEN, but YOUR HUSBAND will REMAIN in the CREATION ORDER, where TOGETHER, side by SIDE, you can fulfill the MANDATE I GAVE TO HIM…

    This ISN”T A CURSE ON EVE; the CONSEQUENCE was a CHANGE in her sacred space-where New LIFE is nurtured-and brought into this world at childbirth-which NOW will have PAIN.

    But the GOSPEL brings us the HOPE of RESTORATION even there: Look forward to 2 Timothy 2: 14 and 15, -the only other passage d, where Eve being DECEIVED is referenced-where the HOPE HERE is expanded:

    1 Tim 2:14 And {it was} not Adam {who} was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
    1 Tim 2:15 But {women} will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

    Compare verse 15, with the second half of God’s words to Eve in Genesis 3: 16:

    Gen 3:16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”

    Threre is MUCH distortion today in our culture of what it means to RULE WELL…

    but that’s a LONG discourse if we look at what God’s Word says ( a good starting point is Matthew 20–particularly vv If we understand what it means to RULE WELL-as we are ALL CALLED TO DO TOGETHER-as those who LOVE GOD and are called to LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR AS OURSELF, and walk WITH GOD as HE REIGNS over ALL of Creation-then being LOVINGLY CARED FOR-as God instructs HUSBANDS TO DO, is not a curse…

    Any more than being a CHILD who is NURTURED AND CARED FOR is a curse. or being under the RULE OF JESUS is a curse…

    if we RULE LIKE THE WORLD DOES, then we have a problem… but Jesus spoke to THAT, directly, too-read Matt 20: 25-7, in context, too-since these verses start with a connecting word: Matt 20:25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and {their} great men exercise authority over them. Matt 20:26 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, Matt 20:27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; Matt 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

    in the context, once again, the disciples were WRANGLE OVER WHO IS FIRST repeatedly…. that passage is for another time. Exegeting this passage and many others, is for another time.

    To finish–we have to also read God’s Words to Adam, who WILLFULLY AND KNOWINGLY SINNED-and when CONFRONTED BY GOD-chose to SHIFT THE BLAME to both God AND Eve…

    These are painful to read for any man, and CERTAINLY no cause for boasting over some purported ‘superiority’ over women…

    God says plainly, in language PARALLEL to His words to the Serpent and IN CONTRAST to His Words to Eve–‘because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have EATEN from the tree which I COMMANDED YOU, saying, “you shall not eat from it’-CURSED is the ground because of YOU, in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life; both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you, and you will eat the plants of the field’ byt the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

    Again-CONSISTENT with the mandate given-this consequence then IMPACTS both Adam and Eve and all men and women-as ADAM’S SIN brought DEATH to ALL MEN.. and a consequence to the whole of creation.

    YET the MANDATE GIVEN to MANKIND through Adam, a mandate to both men and women, to RULE-over God’s Creation-remains…

    As a man, I take SOLEMN WARNING from this passage, but also strong HOPE in the wonder of God’s creation of us-as men and women, given a mandate TOGETHER that is NOW even more glorious, in the new Covenant.

    As God EXPANDS on what it means to know Him because of what Jesus did, in the New Covenant, to redeem us, so that we might follow Him as He modelled life in service to God and us, with the call to even REIGN WITH JESUS–male and female, Wow…

    there is no cause for BOASTING in my manhood, in God’s solemn reminder of hope to Eve, and strong warning to Adam for his willful sin; but a SOLEMN REMINDER HERE, for me, of ADAM’s SIN that was passed on in MY NATURE–too… to guard against, and war against as I walk in union with Jesus.

    How FOOLISH to BOAST as though WILLFUL SIN is somehow a cause of being ‘superior’…

    Thank you, Anna, for the reminder that ‘context is important’ and the central call of God to men and women to fulfill His mandate, together; thank you Aimee, for waking me up from some fog-by your writings about both friendship and sacred spaces; thank you Sam for the delightful and uplfting scholarly exchange in the comments…

    God calls us to work TOGETHER to speak the good news that the promised Messiah-God Himself in human flesh, has come, to redeem us, and make us again, into HIs Image-TOGETHER, as the ‘BRIDE’ of Christ-a clearly feminine term used to describe the culmination of the work of Jesus–as well as the ‘Body’ of Christ, comprised of many members, male and female, with a wide range of gifting’s and abilities.

    Why seek to create division when we are called, as Anna reminds us to a very plain Philippians 2 focused unity of mind, heart, Spirit and purpose?

    I hope this edifies those who read it, as Anna’s words (new to me), Aimee’s many words, and Sam’s words on My Only Comfort-have been often real blessings to me…


  12. Bill Everson says:

    I left off a final thought from the passage; and a few more thoughts are worth adding as well.

    the immediate next verse after God’s Words of rebuke to Adam, are the following, which brings us back to Eve and her ‘sacred space’:

    Left out a final reference to the ‘sacred space’ immediately after God’s words to Adam:

    Gen 3:20 ¶ Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all {the} living.

    If we rightly exegete what God says about men and women here, in the passage as a whole, there is NO POSSIBLE WAY to MISS the reality that God created wo-man from the side of Adam, as a companion who is WONDROUSLY MADE; at the center of her being, God placed a ‘sacred space’ wherein HE fashions NEW LIFE as we are formed in the womb… what a WONDROUS PROCESS THAT IS…

    And WOMAN is given a place of HIGH HONOR in God’s Creation, made so that the mandate God gives can actually HAPPEN; FIRST, Adam and Eve MUST multiply, which HAPPENS as new life forms IN THIS SACRED SPACE-that enables them to fulfill TOGETHER-the OTHER mandates God has given to humanity, to subdue the earth and rule over it, as those created to bring HIM GLORY (as other scriptures tell us).

    HOW we can take a phrase totally OUT OF CONTEXT, TWIST IT and make it say something CONTRADICTING THE WHOLE PASSAGE, is just astounding…

    Let’s not DO that.

    Let’s look at the creation of Woman as a creature made by GOD with HONOR for purposes that are WONDERFUL in God’s Kingdom!

    At the MOST BASIC LEVEL, God relegated EVE a place of HONOR, UNIQUE TO HER. the HONOR of carrying new life to the point where a new person made in the image of God, can survive outside her womb…

    OBVIOUSLY, the woman cannot bear children on her own; and in the FIRST mandate-‘multiply’-a man and woman work TOGETHER… which tells us something, this sets the direction for every other work God has given to man to undertake. .

    Adam has specific uniqueness, too. He was created FIRST. God SPOKE to Him, giving Him both mandates and commands-‘putting him in the garden to ‘cultivate and keep it’, giving him the command NOT to eat of one tree-BEFORE eve was created. Obviously, Adam was given a clear role to COMMUNICATE these to Eve-and we see he did that-by Eve’s response to the serpent. She KNEW not to eat of the tree, but did so anyway, being deceived into transgression. We see this precedent, of Adam being first created, as the reason for male leadership in the church. But leadership in the Kingdom of God is radically different than ANY OF OUR PERVADING INSIDIOUS CULTURAL MODELS…

    God calls those who follow Him, whom HE calls and sets apart, to be FOOT WASHING SERVANTS….


    THAT is a LONGER subject-but not at all a hidden on in scripture, either.

    What makes a GODLY MAN-is worth it’s own consideration. But this is about Eve, and ‘woman’. And the relationship between men and women in the Body of Christ.

    The context of the first three chapters is plain, and it makes our interpretation of the curse of the serpent, the plain statement and hope to Eve, and the rebuke and added consequence to Adam, clear.

    One final thought to the men reading this. ADAM tells us that MEN can be PARTICUARLY STUBBORN EVEN WHEN WRONG…

    AFTER willfully disobeying-Adam CONTINES in his sinful attitude, in his words TO GOD; He is NOT responding with plain speaking and honesty-not ‘confessing’ not even speaking TRUTH, but SHIFTING BLAME, and THAT BROUGHT A FURTHER CONSEQUENCE WE ALL STILL ARE UNDER…

    So to MEN-there is a PLAIN WARNING about OUR TENDENCY to be STUBBORN when we are WRONG…

    Eve could be deceived; so let us HONOR women in that regard; but let us PAY HEED TO OUR OWN WEAKNESS TOO-the ability to be STUBBORNLY WRONG…


    Iron sharpens iron; to a man who is stubborn-I tend to be ‘iron’ too. that is visible in some of my remarks. and intentional.

    but a gentle answer turns away wrath.

    How do we overcome our tendency to be stubborn? but ‘submitting ourselves to God’ and that happens when we submit to HIS WORD-and seek to STUDY IT AND EXEGETE IT RIGHTLY…

    So let us do that, with care, and with consideration of the contexts, including the context of the whole of Scripture.


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