Pauls Lessons from Creation and the Fall

This article was sent just prior to the home call of our beloved brother and exemplifies the thoughtful and lucid manner of his writing.

Most readers of the Bible have read its opening chapters where an account of creation and of the fall of man is recorded, but not all have seen in these the lessons that Paul found in them. The purpose of this paper is to point out the extensive use he made of the three chapters which deal with this important part of the past. In doing this, the importance of these lessons could be reemphasized in the minds of the saints.

The first reference to these chapters is in Acts 17. When speaking to the worshipers of the unknown God, Paul declares, the “God that made the world and all things therein,” an obvious allusion to Genesis 1. This is an approach often used by missionaries to this present day when they are speaking to people unfamiliar with the revelation of Scripture and the facts of the gospel.

When noting the wonderful change that salvation brings, he writes, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (or creation)” (2 Cor 5:17). Doubtless he has in mind that through death with Christ, all in Him are severed from the old creation, so that all their associations with it have now passed away. The new creation is the position of all believers, and with it comes an entirely new relationship with God. They are no longer viewed as related to Adam in the flesh, but in the new family and bound together with spiritual ties. Paul could see that the power of God that wrought at creation, could accomplish even a greater wonder by putting those once linked with this old world into an entirely new position. Paul is the only writer in the N.T. who used “creation” for the present work of God in His people.

Paul compares the light which shined in the first day (Gen 1:3 ) to the light that begins the Christian experience (2 Cor 4:6). All were in the confused, empty, and dark state that the earth was in when God said “Let there be light,” except that in the Genesis passage it was material; but this illustrated to Paul the wondrous change that conversion brings to man. All who are saved remember the time when they were in this sad state, wondering if ever the light would shine into their hearts. Likewise, the memory of that blessed moment remains vivid – when the simplicity of the gospel dawned and salvation took place. It was the first day for us just as it was the first day of creation.

As soon as light was created, it was divided from the darkness, so those who are in the light are no longer linked with those in the dark. When teaching separation to these Corinthians, Paul asks, “What communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14). He may not have been thinking of creations day, but the principle remains unchanged.

When dealing with the great subject of the resurrection of the bodies of the saints (1Cor 15), Paul shows that just as mankind shared the natural body because of our link by nature with Adam, so those linked with Christ have the assurance that we will have a spiritual body. The former body was of the earth and fitted men for the earth, the latter is from heaven and will be suited to that blessed abode. The changed body will share something of the glory of Christs present body which is called “the body of His glory” (Phil 3:21). The same hand that formed Adams body out of the dust will be no less able to form the bodies of the saints to the design He has purposed. In making the stars He did not give each the same glory. He is a God of variety. Likewise, He will have no difficulty in raising the saints in their changed bodies. It is interesting to note that the word “earthly” (choikos, v 47), is literally “made of dust,” an obvious link with the words spoken to Adam, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen 3:19).

When instructing husbands and wives in their relationship with each other (Eph 5:22-33), Paul again refers back to creation where it is stated the two “shall be one flesh” (Gen 2:24). The first pair in the garden were the pattern for future generations and were a type of Christ and His church. In these days when there is so much moral laxity in the world, the believer should remember that the divine standard has not changed. Some may tell him that his views on marriage are antiquated, but to their suggestions he must turn a deaf ear. There is a closer relationship between a man and his wife than there is between a child and his parents. This is why he can part from them and be joined to his wife. Had the example set by Adam and Eve been maintained, then much of the grief and distress caused by broken homes seen all around, would have been averted.

When dealing with the subject of “headship” (1 Cor 11), Paul again goes back to the creation story. If the woman is to be subject to the man, it is because she was second in creation, for Eve was made for Adam. Her subjection to man is symbolized in her head-covering. The man uncovers his head and thus demonstrates that he is the image and glory of God. It would be a shame for him to cover his head and it would also be a shame for a woman to uncover her head. Paul takes for granted that no woman would part with her long hair which is her glory.

Closely linked with this teaching regarding headship is the relationship between husband and wife. While in 1 Cor 11 it is man and woman, in Eph 5:22-33 it is husband and wife; yet in both cases man is said to be the “Head.” The reference to Genesis 2 is clear for there the man and woman were declared to be one flesh. So Paul teaches that the man leaves his parents and becomes one flesh with his wife.

When the question arises of the part man and woman have to play in the assembly (1 Tim 2), Paul again goes back to the creation story. Women are designed to be silent in the assembly and in subjection to the man. The reason given is that Eve was made for Adam. He was first in creation and she was deceived by Satan and thus revealed her weakness. The story of creation and the Fall was the basis of his argument for settling the question of the distinct part man and woman play in the assembly.

In Rom 5:12-21, Paul goes back to the disaster in Eden and extensively develops the contrast between Adam and Christ. The human race has been ruined by the one act of Adam, so that all related to him are condemned sinners. In contrast to this, all in Christ are justified on the basis of one act – His death on the cross. Sin, death, and condemnation are all the outcome of Adams fall; grace, justification, and eternal life are the outcome of the work of Christ.

A major problem at Corinth was the penetration into the assembly of false teachers. Paul views their methods as being similar to the workings of Satan in the garden (2 Cor 11:3). Just as the enemy beguiled Eve, so these impostors were beguiling the Corinthians, and turning them away from sincere devotion to Christ to Whom they had been espoused.

The motive behind these false men was to win to themselves the hearts of the saints, so that they would become their honored admirers. The obstacle to their ambition was the apostle. In order to minimize their esteem for him, these false apostles slandered him and made high claims for themselves that they were not only apostles, but were superior to the original apostles. Eve thought by listening to the serpent that she would be the beneficiary, and some at Corinth were beginning to think that they should listen to these false teachers and turn a deaf ear to Pauls instructions.

There may also be a veiled reference to Genesis 3 in the final chapter of Romans. There the apostle warns the believers to beware of those who “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” It is not difficult to detect a hint of the craft of the serpent, especially as almost immediately after this, the apostle assures the believers that “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom 16:20), a clear reference to the great promise of Genesis 3:15.