The Agora
The Serpent and the Woman's Seed (Gen 3:15)

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The Letters (Part 2)

Ephesians 2:14-16

"For he (Christ) is our peace... having abolished, in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain (ie, Jew and Gentile) one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby."
When Paul wrote this letter, the middle wall of partition was still standing in the Temple, and the veil between the Holy and Host Holy was still hanging. The one signified the separation of Gentiles from fullness of worship, but the other signified -- just as vividly for those with humility to see -- the separation of even the Jews from the greatest possible fellowship with God. Paul is telling the Ephesian believers, both Jew and Gentile, that the same perfect sacrifice which opened the way into the Most Holy -- both literally (Mat 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45) and figuratively (Eph 1:3,9; 2:6) -- had also removed any barrier, real or imagined, between the two bodies of believers. Now they were, or should be, "one body in Christ" (Eph 2:16; 4:4)!

For each class -- Jews no less than Gentiles -- Jesus had, on the cross, slain the enmity between the serpent and the woman's seed (Gen 3:15). He had become the "serpent" lifted up (Num 21:9; John 3:14,15), rendered incapable of "bruising" again. He had also "blotted out the handwriting of ordinances" that was against the Jew (Col 2:14). In his death sin was vanquished, the righteousness of God honored, and the flesh "of sin" destroyed -- the perfect sacrifice; Even the pious Jew, who devoted his life to the keeping of the Law of Moses, could never "slay the enmity", since even one lapse invalidated all his efforts. So the "righteous" Jew as well as the "alien" Gentile (Eph 2:12) stood on the same ground: lost, without Christ!

Ephesians 4:14,15,22-27

While much exhortation might be derived from this passage, we pass it by with only a glance at the obvious links with the early Genesis record. The "sleight" and "cunning craftiness" of men who "lie in wait to deceive" (v 14) calls to remembrance the serpent in the garden. By contrast, those who are faithful "speak the truth in love" (v 15) -- even when that truth has a negative tone, as for example, "Thou shalt not eat of it" (Gen 2:17). We need to remember that negative restrictions are just as necessary as positive commandments; both are the result of God's love for His children. It was in forgetting this that Eve was led astray.

This "Genesis thread" provides the basis for Paul's "serious call to a devout and holy life" (to borrow a fine phrase from an old writer):

"Put off... the old man (Adam!) which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts" (Eph 4:22) --
See how concisely Paul describes the fall in Eden! -- "And be renewed (a second creation!) in the spirit of your mind" (v 23).

There is where the first sin originated! Control the mind, and you will control the body! Create a new mind, and you will one day receive a new body to go with it!

"For the devil, that "old serpent", is still active in the "garden" of human nature! He just changes his disguises from time to time. Wherever or however he might appear, do not listen to him!

Philippians 2:5-8

The RSV is by far superior to the AV in this passage:

"Have this mind among yourselves, which you have in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant ('slave' in margin), being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross."
Verse 6 is often "wrested" to "prove" that Jesus before his birth (!) possessed the essential nature of God. The Greek "morphe", however, is most readily translated as "status" or "rank" -- not "essential nature". The same Greek word occurs in v 7: "the form ('morphe') of a servant". Since, obviously, "rank" or "standing" is the idea in v 7, it should logically apply in v 6 also.

The allusion to the serpent and Eve in the garden is found in v 6, where we are told that Jesus "did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped". Jesus succeeded where Eve in a similar trial had failed. She had succumbed to the subtle reasoning of the serpent that, if she grasped and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge, she would be "as the Elohim" (Gen 3:5).

Eve was lifted up in pride. Jesus, instead, cast himself down in humility, as a servant bound to keep the law of his master:

"By his knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many: for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isa 53:11,12).
What a lesson it is for us! Let this mind be in us, as it was in Christ: a humble, teachable mind, pliable to the Divine direction. A mind free from selfishness and conceit. A mind given over in joy and praise to the will of our Heavenly Father.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-11

The parallels between the "Man of Sin" and the Serpent of Eden are many and obvious. How could it be otherwise when the "Man of Sin" is scripturally defined as the "Seed of the Serpent"? "Like father, like son", certainly!

2 Thessalonians 2
Genesis 3
1. deceives believers (v 3); lying (v 9); deceit (v 10); strong delusion (v 11).
1. "The serpent beguiled me" (v 13).
2. The son of perdition -- or destruction (v 3).
2. "Thou art cursed" (v 14).
3. Opposes God (v 4).
3. "Hath God said...?" (v 1).
4. Exalts himself above God (v 4), as a "Satan" -- or adversary (v 9).
4. "For God doth know..." (v 5)... presuming to speak for God.
5. Sits in the temple of God (v 4).
5. Antitype of serpent, sitting in Eden -- the place of God's sanctuary (v 24).
6. Manifested "in them that perish" (v 10) because...
6. "Unto dust shalt thou return" (v 19) because...
7. "...they received not the love of the truth" (v 10).
7. Adam and Eve, given a command, disobeyed it.
8. "A lie" -- or "THE lie" (v 11).
8. The foundation lie of all apostasy: "Ye shall NOT surely die!" (v 4).

Proceeding through history with Bible in hand, we recognize that the "Man of Sin" apostasy has so many Scripturally-attested descriptions that we can scarcely fail to identify it. But perhaps the preeminent mark of the apostasy -- in all its faces -- is the great lie: "Ye shall not surely die"! Virtually every church of "Christendom" repeats, in one form or another, this original deception of its "father" the serpent.

The doctrine of the immortality of the "soul" -- borrowed from deluded paganism -- has become the cornerstone of apostasy. This doctrine alone effectively prevents its holders from perceiving the simple and reasonable truth of the gospel. This one doctrine, when given its logical (or illogical!) force, distorts almost every first principle. It is surely the great "delusion"!

1 Timothy 2:11-15

Paul counsels that, in the ecclesia, the woman is to "learn in silence with all subjection" (v 11). A similar command is found in 1Co 14:34,35. She is not to teach, nor to usurp (grasp! -- cp Gen 3:6; Phi 2:6, RSV) authority over the man, but to be in silence (1Ti 2:12).

Paul gives two reasons for these restrictions -- both drawn from the early chapters of Genesis:

1. Eve was formed after Adam, and out of Adam (v 13; Gen 2:7,18,21,22). She was created to be his assistant, his helper -- but not his head! "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman (is) of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman (was created) for the man" (1Co 11:8,9).

We note in passing that Paul thus puts his apostolic seal of authority on the early Genesis record (as also does our Lord -- Mat 19:4,5). These first chapters of the Bible are not myth, nor legend, nor symbolic, spiritualized concepts with no factual basis. They are facts!

2. Adam was not deceived, but Eve was deceived (1Ti 2:14). This agrees with 2Co 11:3: "The serpent beguiled Eve." Eve allowed herself to be thoroughly deceived, to be swayed by her emotions. She was led away by "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1Jo 2:16), set in such a pleasing form by the subtle, immoral reasoning of the serpent.

Adam was enticed by Eve. This did not pardon him, for he was in knowledge, but the woman was first in the transgression. It is probable that Adam was further influenced by the fact that Eve seemed to be none the worse from her experience; she had certainly not died.

On this matter John Thomas has the following to say;

"A man should never permit the words of a woman to intervene between him and the laws of God. This is a rock upon which myriads have made shipwreck of the faith. Adam sinned in consequence of listening to Eve's silvery discourse. No temptation has proved more irresistible to the flesh than the enticing words of woman's lips. 'They drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but her end is bitter as wormwood, and sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; and her steps take hold on hell' (Pro 5:3-5). Adam was a striking illustration of this truth..." (Elp 123).
To conclude this section of his letter to Timothy, Paul holds out a great hope to the woman -- to all women:

"Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness and sobriety" (1Ti 2:15).
A correct understanding of one little word opens up the depth of this phrase. The word "in" is the Greek "dia", which means more precisely "through". This phrase is very similar to 1Co 3:15, where we are told that we are saved by ("dia" = through) fire (ie, trials -- 1Pe 1:7). Also, Acts 14:22: "We must through ('dia') much tribulation enter the kingdom of God." It may be seen from these two verses and many others that trials and hardships are the paths we must all travel; this is the refining vat through which we must each pass, so that our faith may be purified. God does not enjoy seeing us suffer; but by His chastening, He helps and teaches us to walk in the right way, and He molds our characters.

Thus we see childbearing for what it is; a necessary trial for God's daughters. It was first a punishment placed on the woman for her part in the first sin: the woman was to have sorrow in childbirth, and her husband was to rule over her (Gen 3:16). But it is God's mercy and foresight that the very childbearing which serves to remind women of the part Eve played in the original transgression, may be one of the trials which pave their way into the glorious kingdom.

Let us now view this phrase in a slightly different way: In another sense, God made possible the reward of eternal life through that role of woman which was a punishment. In this verse the word "childbearing" is preceded by the definite Greek article: Paul is speaking about a single, very special birth: "THE childbearing". At the same time that Eve was receiving the punishment for her sin, she received the promise of a special man to be born, called "the seed of the woman", through whom the serpent or sin-power would be fatally wounded (Gen 3:15).

This same promise is mentioned by Isaiah -- that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, who will be called "God with us" (Isa 7:14). This promise was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, who was conceived not by the will of man, but by the Spirit of the Most High overshadowing Mary (Mat 1:21-25). This same Jesus, throughout his life, resisted sin in all ways, and died a sacrificial death so that the way to life might be opened to all men and women. Thus the sisters can take courage to serve God in quietness and self-restraint now, comforted with the hope offered by the "seed of the woman".

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