Before you read any of the following, it is helpful if you read Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 3:24. Due to space concerns, I will not quote the entirety of the passage here (you can read it in the ESV, which is the version I shall be using, by clicking here).
To set the stage, we begin with the creation of the universe. It culminates in the creation of a man, Adam, and his wife, Eve. Of the nature of man, we read:
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (Genesis 1:26).There has been much debate over what is meant by being created in the image of God. However, I think it is safe to conclude that at least part of what is meant is given by the rest of the context. Man gains dominion over the animals on the earth. Just as God has dominion over all created beings, man (in the image of God) has dominion over animals.
To exercise his dominion, Adam names all the animals on Earth (Genesis 2:19). In the ANE culture, naming was a way of showing dominion. God named Adam to show God had dominion over man, but He allowed man to name all the animals because God had given Adam dominion over them.
Additionally, Adam named Eve (Genesis 2:23). It is important to note a few things about this. First, Eve was created after God had already demonstrated that none of the animals on Earth were a suitable helper for man. In other words, while pagan cultures always devalued women, the Jewish culture was shown that women were, indeed, to be treated better than any animal on Earth. Women are just as much in the image of God as men are (Genesis 1:27), yet God chose that men would hold a position of dominion. This is a dominance of position, not of worth (in the same way that a governor holds dominion over his subjects, yet holds no greater human rights than his subjects). Naturally, once sin entered the equation this relationship has always been strained; yet it remains a fact that God established this relationship, and it further remains that He worked to ensure that men would know women were of more value than any animal. Sadly, most cultures throughout history have forgotten this.
The form of dominion that Adam had was one that can best be represented in terms of Federal Headship. We see this by the fact that Adam, and not Eve, was specifically given a command to obey:
"You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17).This command came before God created Eve. Adam had responsibility to obey it, and because of his Federal Headship, his obedience and disobedience would be meted out to all of those who came from him (including Eve, who came from one of Adam’s ribs).
Indeed, we see from the Fall in Genesis 3 that Eve’s eyes were not opened until after Adam had eaten of the fruit too:
So 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 to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked (Genesis 3:6-7, emphasis mine).Because God’s command had come specifically to Adam, the consequences for sin were not meted out until Adam fell. Since both Adam and Eve fell, we do not know what would have happened to Eve had she eaten and Adam refrained. Quite possibly, given the structure of dominion that God had put in place, God may have simply given Adam the responsibility to mete out punishment since Eve was given the command via Adam and not directly from God. But this is speculation since it did not occur. What we do know from the text is that once Adam sinned, the eyes of both Adam and Eve were open and they knew they were naked.
After the Fall, God punished men and women for their sinfulness. But even while punishing, He offered a promise. To the serpent, He said:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).This passage, commonly referred to as the protoevangelium, gives us the first explicit information about who Christ would be. However, much is also inferred from the events that occurred before this. Let us now examine both, starting with the clear statements from Genesis 3:15, and then looking at the inferences from the rest of Genesis 1-3.
1) We know that Christ will be human. The serpent is told it will be one of Eve’s offspring.
2) We know that Christ will be wounded in the exchange. “You shall bruise his heel.”
3) We know that the serpent will be destroyed by this. “He shall bruise your head” (other translations use the word “crush” instead of “bruise”).
In addition to this explicit information, we can infer much from what has gone on before, and it deals specifically with what is called Original Sin.
When Adam sinned, all of his descendents were judged sinners with him. This causes most of us to immediately proclaim: “That’s not fair!” After all, we did not have a choice in the matter. We did not sin, so why should we be included in the judgment? That the judgment does extent to all mankind is immediately seen from the punishments meted out to Adam and Eve—the cursing of the ground indeed occurs to this day, as does increased pain in childbirth. And, returning to the theme of dominance, it is certainly the case for woman that “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). These punishments occur to this day; so too does the punishment of all of us knowing we are “naked” before God.
This happens, again, because Adam was the Federal Head of all who came from him. He was the Federal Head of the entire human race, and as such when he fell all mankind fell with him. But had this not happened—had God not put Adam in that Federal Headship role—it would have been impossible for Christ to save all mankind by His actions.
For we know from later Scripture that Christ is the second Adam. Christ fulfilled the laws that Adam could not, and as a result all those who are under the Federal Headship of Christ transfer their status from being under the judgment of God to being under the blessing of God. In order to fix the problem of evil, Christ had to be under the same situation as Adam. If we balk at all men under Adam being condemned in Adam, we must balk at all those under Christ being redeemed by Christ.
Thus, it becomes vitally important to look at the role Adam had before and after the Fall. As Paul tells us, Adam was the “type of the one who was to come” (Romans 5:14). As a result, when we learn about Adam we learn about Christ.
The opening of Genesis gives us a great deal of information about Christ, information that was given in a type and shadow format. God gave the shadow before the reality so that, when we see the reality, we would have something to relate it to. We can understand Christ's representation of us before God because we already see Adam's representation of us before God. Since we live with the effects of Original Sin, we have something with which we can grasp His imputation.