The Hexaemeron or Creation-Week (8): The Creation of Man (1): How he was created

Scriptural references

The direct and detailed references in holy writ to the creation of man we find, of course, in the account of creation in the book of Genesis. In Genesis 1:26-28 we read: “And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” In Genesis 2:7-8 we read: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed.” And in the same chapter, verses 18-25 we are told the following: “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And 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; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

Other Scriptural references to the divine creation of man (of course, all of Scripture establishes the Divine origin of man) are passages such as Matt. 19:4 and Acts 17:26: “And he answered and said unto them, Dave ye not read, that He Which made them at the beginning made them male and female . . . And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.”

Confessional reference

Our Confessions, of course, also refer to this amazing work of the almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth. Art. XIV of our Confession of Faith reads in part as follows: “We believe that God created man out of the dust of the earth, and made and formed him after His own image and likeness, good, righteous, and holy, capable in all things to will, agreeably to the will of God. But being in honor, he understood it not, neither knew his excellency, but willfully subjected himself to sin, and consequently to death, and the curse, giving ear to the words of the devil. For the commandment of life, which he had received, he transgressed; and by sin separated himself from God, Who was his true life, having corrupted his whole nature; whereby he made himself liable to corporal and spiritual death. And being thus become wicked, perverse, and corrupt in all his ways, he hath lost air his excellent gifts, which he had received from God, and only retained a few remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all the light which is in us is changed in darkness, as the Scriptures teach us, saying: The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not: where St. John calleth men darkness.”—end of quote. Of note, in connection with this article, is the fact that here the truth is expressed that man was created by God in such a way that he was able in all things to will agreeably to the will of God. Man was created perfect; he lacked nothing. It is therefore not true, as the Roman Catholic Church would have us believe, that something was added to man after his creation. We will have occasion to call attention to this later.

The same truth is held before us in the Canons of Dordrecht, Art. 1 of the third and; fourth heads, where we read: “Man was originally formed after the image of God. His understanding was adorned with a true and saving knowledge of his Creator, and of spiritual things; his heart and will were upright; all his affections pure; and the whole man was holy; but revolting from God by the instigation of the devil, and abusing the freedom of his own will, he forfeited these excellent gifts; and on the contrary entailed on himself blindness of mind, horrible darkness, vanity and perverseness of judgment, became wicked, rebellious, and obdurate in heart and will, and impure in his affections.”

And in the Heidelberg Catechism we read in Lord’s Day o, answer 6: “By no means; but God created man good, and after His own image, in true righteousness and holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him and live with Him in eternal happiness to glorify and praise Him.”

In distinction from the animal world”

The reader will notice that the expression: animal world, occurs in quotation marks. We need not be surprised if and when modern science tells us that man is the highest animal. It is simply a fact that the holy Scriptures, already in the infallible account of creation, uses the same term with respect to man and the rest of the animal world. Both are called in holy writ “living souls.” This also appears from the Holland translations of Gen. 1:20 and Gen. 2:7, and we quote: “En God zeide: Dat de wateren overvloediglijk voortbrengen een gewemel van levende zielen; en het. gevogelte vliege boven de aarde, in het uitspansel des hernels . . . En de Heere God had den mensch geformeerd uit het stof der aarde, en in zijne neusgaten geblazen den adem des levens; alzoo werd de mensch tot eene levende ziel.” The reader will notice that the expression: levende zielen, occurs in both passages. The expression: “living creature,” in Gen. 1:20 and: “living soul,” in Gen. 2:7 are in the original identical: living soul.

Now we read in connection with the creation of the animals in Gen. 1:20-25 as follows: “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

It is evident from these several Scriptural passages that the distinction between the creation of man and that of the animal is twofold. On the one hand, the animals were created in such a way that the earth brought them forth upon the creative word of the living God, whereas man was formed out of the dust of the earth. And on the other hand, God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and man was created in the image of the Lord.

In passing we may also remark that both, man and the animals, have in common that they are created out of the dust of the earth.

As such

First, we would make the observation that there is no essential difference between the accounts in Gen. 1:26-27 and Gen. 2:7-8. It is quite evident that in Gen. 1:26-27 we have a more general account of God’s creation of man. In Genesis 1 the creation of man appears at the end of the Scriptural account of the creation of the heavens and the earth, and more particularly of the latter inasmuch as the viewpoint of this work of the Lord in Genesis 1 is earthly, is regarded from the viewpoint of the earthly. And therefore in Genesis 1 the creation of man also appears as the climax of this work of God. But in the second chapter of Genesis we have the same creative act of God but then as set forth in greater detail. This greater detail appears, first of all, from Scripture’s account of the creation of Adam. We are told that the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and that man thus became a living soul. And, secondly, this appears from the fact that we also have a detailed setting forth of the creation of Eve. Concerning this latter work of the Divine Creator we read in the verses 21-22, and are told that the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and then proceeded to take one of his ribs, closing up the flesh instead thereof, and made of that rib a woman and brought her to the man. This clearly confirms our assertion that the account in Genesis 2 is a more detailed account than that recorded in the first chapter.

Secondly, when we deal with Scripture’s account of the creation of man we must be careful. This applies particularly, we understand, to what we read in Genesis 2:7-8, and we quote once more: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed.” At present we are merely interested in this creative act as such. We will have opportunity later in this series of articles to focus attention a little more closely upon man’s being and essence according to holy writ. It is clear from Gen. 2:7-8 that God’s creation of man is described as a work of the Lord with a twofold aspect. First, we are informed that God formed him out of the dust of the ground. This cannot mean, we should understand, that that which the Lord formed out of the dust of the ground was a sort of clay image, a well formed but lifeless clay image (a clay image inasmuch as it was a product of the dust of the ground but lifeless), and that the Lord, when He later breathed into its nostrils the breath of life, thereby caused that clay image to live. This explanation of the text is surely quite impossible. First, it is impossible because we read that God formed man out of the dust of the ground. We do not read that God formed his body out of the dust of the ground, but man. And it is surely beyond all doubt that the expression “man” refers to something more than merely the body. Secondly, this explanation is impossible in the light of its comparison with the creation of the animal world. God did not merely cause the earth to bring forth lifeless, soulless animals, but animals, living souls. The expression: lifeless, soulless animals, is a contradiction in itself, inasmuch as the word “animal” means literally: living soul. Hence, Gen. 2:7-8 must also then be interpreted as signifying that God formed many the complete man, out of the dust of the ground. However, we have stated that the Divine creation of man was a twofold work of God. The Lord not only formed him out of the dust of the ground, but we are also informed that God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. This does not mean, obviously, that we have here two separate, successive works of God, the one following closely upon the other. In the first act, then, God created the body, and in the second part He formed the soul. We have already called attention to the fact that that which was formed by God out of the dust of the ground was not merely the body, but man. Hence, we do not have here two successive works of the Lord but one work of God with two sides as it were, both occurring simultaneously. Besides, this account in Gen. 2:6-7 would not inform us that God first created a living being which was in some respects an inferior being, that He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and thereby elevated it to a higher plane or level. This would smack of Roman Catholicism. We have here one work of God, described from the viewpoint of its twofold aspect. The first aspect describes man from his earthly aspect, as he is earthly, and this we must understand as referring to both, body and soul. And the second part or aspect describes the same man from his spiritual heavenly aspect as he was marvelously adapted unto the living God, and this, of course, in distinction from every other earthly living creature.

The creation of Eve

It is at this time, before we continue with the creation of man, that we would devote a little space to Scripture’s account of the creation of Eve.

Various Scriptural passages refer to this marvelous work of the Lord. In Gen. 2:18, 21-24 we read:

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And 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; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” In Eph. 5:22-33 this beautiful passage occurs: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For 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. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” In 1 Cor. 11:8-9 we read this: “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” And the last passage which we wish to quote is I Tim. 2:12-13: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

Modern Criticism has also directed its attack upon the Scriptural account of the creation of Eve. If it be true, they declare, that the woman was formed out of the man, then it follows that man originally must have been a double being, masculine-feminine. Or, if it be true, so they continue, that the Lord formed Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs, then the man today must be minus one rib. What reasoning! How vain and ridiculous to dispute or cast doubt upon this marvelous work of God! The simple fact is that the Lord caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and while Adam slept the Lord God took one of his ribs and made a woman of it. Did Adam have one less rib after the creation of Eve than before? What of it? The important question is not: How did the Lord do this, and then proceed to speculate and philosophize. Of much greater importance is the question: why did the Lord thus make Eve? Why did Jehovah not make the woman as He made the man? Why did He not form her out of the dust of the ground and breathe into her nostrils the breath of life?

Scripture’s answer to this question is twofold. First holy writ would emphasize the truth that even as the woman is out of the man and man was therefore formed first, therefore she must serve him and be subject unto him. This is surely the clear teaching of holy writ. This we read, e.g., in Gen. 2:18: “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” An help meet is an help meet, proper for Adam. The idea is that the man is the responsible party, the one who must not only rule in the home, but also be of the party of the Lord in the midst of the world. And the woman has been created to help him, stand at his side, be his support in the midst of the struggle in the midst of this world. As such she must also be subject unto him. This does not mean that he must “lord” it over her, and the relation between a man and his wife must not resemble that of a master and his slave. The wife is not merely his “squaw.” The fact remains that she must be an help meet for him, help him, also with counsel and advice. Nevertheless, man is the ruling party and the woman is subservient to him. How little this is understood in our present day is known only too well! Yet, man is the ruling party, and to ignore and ridicule this created ordinance of the living God (as is so often done today) simply means that we court and invite disaster. However, we remarked at the beginning of this paragraph that the answer of the Word of God to this question is twofold. But, the second part of this Scriptural answer must wait until our following article.