My daughter is a jabbering, vivacious toddler, but she’s not too young to be introduced to her great, great, great … grandma Eve. In the evenings, she gets excited about “Bible time” with Daddy and Mommy, and she looks at Bible pictures as we read her Scripture. During brief moments of reflection between diaper changes or cleaning out her highchair, I’m gripped by my responsibility to show her what it means to be a “woman who fears the Lord” (Proverbs 31:30)—something she certainly won’t pick up from the culture that surrounds her. As she grows, I have so much to teach her to affirm and articulate about Genesis as it relates to biblical womanhood.

Creation: Eve was created with equal value yet a unique role

God created male and female in His image (Genesis 1:27). We are not descendants of an ape-like ancestor but all descended from Eve, “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). Men and women have equal value, both created in the likeness of God to have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26–28). Commenting on Genesis 2:23, Pastor John MacArthur wrote about Eve, “She was of exactly the same essence as Adam. She was in no way an inferior character, but she was his spiritual counterpart, his intellectual coequal, and in every sense his perfect mate and companion.”1

While Eve was equal in value to Adam, God created her with a unique role. It was not good for man to be alone, so God created Eve from Adam’s side as a helper suitable for him (Genesis 2:18, 21–24). God ordained marriage as a one-flesh union between one man and one woman for life (Matthew 19:3–6). Marriage is a picture of the union between Christ and the church, according to Ephesians 5:22–33. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so the wife is called to willingly place herself under the headship of her husband. Just as Christ loved the church and sacrificed Himself for her, so the husband should cherish and care for his wife.

By God’s grace, may I model to my daughter God’s design for a wife by how I love, esteem, help, and defer to my husband (Ephesians 5:33; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:4). I want to teach her that true and lasting beauty, as defined by the Bible and “very precious in the sight of God,” is a “gentle and quiet spirit” like women in the Bible who “trusted in God” and modeled submission (1 Peter 3:1–6). Of course, as Pastor John MacArthur writes, this submission “precludes any coercion to sin, disobedience to God’s Word, or imposition of physical harm.”2

One of God’s original mandates is fruitfulness, as He blesses with children (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 127:3–5; 1 Timothy 5:14). God may also bless with spiritual children as we make disciples (1 Timothy 1:2). Only women can bear children, and mothers, because of their distinct role in the family, have a special bond with children. Even if the father is indifferent, absent, or an unbeliever, a godly mother may have a huge impact on leading little ones through the Scripture to Christ. For example, although Timothy’s father was evidently not a believer (Acts 16:1–3), Paul pointed out how Timothy’s faith first dwelt in his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5). Paul reminded Timothy that “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

Of course, only the Holy Spirit can change a heart, converting a sinner, but how special for mothers to be used to share the gospel with their children, which was the case for C.H. Spurgeon, as he wrote in his autobiography:

Yet I cannot tell how much I owe to the solemn words of my good mother. It was the custom, on Sunday evenings, while we were yet little children, for her to stay at home with us, and then we sat round the table, and read verse by verse, and she explained the Scripture to us. After that was done, then came the time of pleading; there was a little piece of Alleine’s Alarm, or of Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted, and this was read with pointed observations made to each of us as we sat round the table; and the question was asked, how long it would be before we would think about our state, how long before we would seek the Lord.

Then came a mother’s prayer, and some of the words of that prayer we shall never forget, even when our hair is grey. I remember, on one occasion, her praying thus: “Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.” That thought of a mother’s bearing swift witness against me, pierced my conscience, and stirred my heart. …

How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come? I thought her lips right eloquent; others might not think so, but they certainly were eloquent to me. How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, “Oh, that my son might live before Thee!” Nor can her frown be effaced from my memory,—that solemn, loving frown, when she rebuked my budding iniquities; and her smiles have never faded from my recollection,—the beaming of her countenance when she rejoiced to see some good things in me towards the Lord God of Israel.3

Will I show my daughter what a wonderful privilege motherhood is by how I delight in her and take seriously my responsibility of training her in the ways of the Lord (Titus 2:4; Deuteronomy 6:4–7; cf. Ephesians 6:4)? Will I encourage my daughter to nurture, even during her playtime with dolls? Will I cultivate her homemaking skills by letting her join me as I prepare dinner or conquer the laundry (Titus 2:5)?

Deception: Eve was deceived and fell into transgression4

All relationships originally existed in harmony in God’s created order.5 God gave Adam and Eve just one prohibition—not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Concerning this tree, Dan Phillips wrote in his book The World-Tilting Gospel, “this tree held out a knowledge premised on rejection of God’s lordship, and specifically based on rejection of His word.”6 Although the tree had no mystical power, the serpent used it as part of his deception. Deceived by the serpent, Eve violated God’s word (1 Timothy 2:14), and Adam willfully ate. According to Dan Phillips, “The brilliant mind crafted to think God’s thoughts was turned into a ceaseless laboratory of deception.”7

When I was a girl, I was disappointed by Eve’s gullibility and its disastrous effects for even me. (Of course, note that Scripture identifies Adam, not Eve, as the one responsible for sin and death entering the world, according to Romans 5:12–21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21.) If I were Eve, I thought, surely I would have heeded God’s simple command, “you shall not eat” (Genesis 2:17), and would have saved the human race. We’d still be living in paradise, right?

Of course, the whole idea is hypothetical, and I really don’t know how I would have responded, since I don’t know what it’s like to live without my sinful flesh. But what made me think I would have fared any better than Eve? While scorning how easily Eve was deceived, I failed to recognize my own deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9). I was not only corrupt by nature as a descendent of Adam, but in practice I’d often doubted and disobeyed God’s Word (Romans 5:12–21).

So when telling of Eve’s tragic bite, I want to turn to my daughter and say, “What about you? Are you like Eve?” I can ask, “Have you ever doubted or disobeyed God?” Even breaking one of God’s commands, such as through lying or disobeying parents, condemns us, just as it did Adam and Eve (James 2:10; Romans 6:23).

I pray she sees the futility of trying to get to heaven by being a “good” girl, going to church, or doing the right thing. In fact, we are so helpless to save ourselves that, prior to our salvation, the Bible describes us as sick (Mark 2:17), blind (John 9:39), and dead (Ephesians 2:1–3).

Redemption: Eve received hope of salvation

Even in receiving the Curse, Adam and Eve were shown a ray of hope, often referred to as the protevangelium or “first gospel”:

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel. (Genesis 3:15)

What a promise! According to Dan Phillips, “The woman, who was deceived and subsequently transgressed God’s command, is graciously made the vehicle for her race’s salvation.”8 The Seed of the woman (a phrase that suggests the Virgin Birth) is Jesus Christ, who came to conquer the serpent at God’s appointed time. “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4–5). Christ fulfilled all the prophecies foretold of His first coming. He died as the perfect sacrifice for sinners, and He rose in victory over sin and death.

Yes, my daughter is a daughter of Eve. But by God’s grace through repentance and faith in Christ, she may receive adoption into God’s family (John 1:12). As a child of God, my daughter would eagerly grow in the applications of biblical womanhood because the gospel produces good fruit.

Even as a godly woman, she would still face the danger of being deceived like Grandmother Eve. “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). May we redeemed daughters of Eve consistently root out the deceptive influences within and without, trusting and obeying God’s perfect Word and teaching it to the next generation.

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Footnotes

  1. MacArthur, John, The Extraordinary Mother (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 11. Back
  2. MacArthur, John, The MacArthur Study Bible, note on 1 Peter 3:6 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 1913. Back
  3. Spurgeon, C.H., Autobiography, “Early Religious Impressions,” The Spurgeon Archive, accessed February 6, 2013, http://www.spurgeon.org/earlyimp.htm. Back
  4. 1 Timothy 2:14 Back
  5. The original harmony was disrupted in the spiritual realm by Satan’s rebellion, but the harmony of the physical creation (and in man’s relationship with his Creator) was wrecked by man’s sin. Back
  6. Phillips, Dan, The World-Tilting Gospel (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2011), 44. Back
  7. Ibid., 51. Back
  8. Ibid., 101. Back