God built authority into creation from the beginning, and Satan’s strategy—his plan for maximizing the humiliation he wanted to inflict on God—was to tear down those good and beautiful structures of authority. Do you realize the importance of this? It’s nothing short of profound: to tear down good, God-ordained authority is to join Satan in his rebellion against God; it’s to do serpent-like work.
How God Set It Up
Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. (Gen. 2:19–20)
Have you ever thought about why this odd little story is included in Scripture? Obviously, it shows Adam beyond any doubt that none of the other creatures God created would make a good wife for him. You can imagine Adam’s dismay as the last animal walked by and Adam said, “Zebra. Yeah, that’s not going to work either, but I do admire your creativity, Lord!”
But there’s another reason Moses records Adam naming the animals. By doing so, Adam exercised the authority God had given him over all creatures (1:28). Even in modern culture, we recognize that naming something is an act of authority. When parents name their children, they’re showing their authority over them. When some people name their cars—my wife once named hers “Jellybean”—that’s an act of authority, in that case derived from ownership. Anyway, you get the point. When Adam named the animals, he acted as their king. He carried out the authority and dominion God had given him over the cosmos and its inhabitants.
But look at what happens next:
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.” (Gen. 2:21–23)
Adam names Eve. Of course, that doesn’t put Eve on the same level as animals. Genesis 1:26–27 says at least four times that she, just like Adam, was made in the image and likeness of God. What’s more, the phrase “have dominion” in Genesis 1:28 is in the plural, applied to both the man and the woman. Yet even as Adam and Eve both rule over the cosmos as king and queen, God still institutes even within their marriage relationship a structure of authority. Adam is given the responsibility of holding loving authority over his wife, Eve.
In this booklet, Greg Gilbert explains why God reserved the office of pastor and elder exclusively for men by examining the structures of authority God established from the very beginning. Part of the Church Questions series.
Do you see what God did in these early chapters of Genesis? He designed a beautiful framework of royal authority throughout his cosmos. Adam and Eve exercise godly dominion over the animals, while within their relationship Adam reflects God’s divine character as he holds authority over his wife. Ruling over it all is the High King of the cosmos, God Himself.
Authority often strikes people as an inherently negative, abusive, or tyrannical concept. That’s understandable, given how sinful human beings have abused it throughout history.