Did the serpent have more knowledge than man?

Did the serpent have more knowledge than man?

serpent2 on Women in Ministry blog by Cheryl Schatz

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has published a book called Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and on page 73, John Piper and Wayne Grudem write that Adam was ordained as the one responsible for the life of the garden.  The reference is in response to a quote from 1 Timothy 2:14 where Adam is said to have not been deceived. Some take this as a proof that women are more gullible than men and easier to deceive, but Grudem and Piper say that this is not so.  Instead, CBMW brings a new meaning to “not deceived”.  They say “not deceived” means that Adam was not approached by the deceiver.  They write:

If this is the proper understanding, then what Paul meant in 1 Timothy 2:14 was this:  “Adam was not deceived (that is, Adam was not approached by the deceiver and did not carry on direct dealings with the deceiver), but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor (that is, she was the one who took up dealings with the deceiver and was led through her direct interaction with him into deception and transgression).”

Since when does “not deceived” mean that you must have a direct interaction with the deceiver?  There are many false teachers on “Christian” television today, but can we honestly say that since these false teachers are not directly speaking to an individual listener that this means the one who falls hook. line and sinker into their deception is “not deceived” when they believe everything the false teacher says?  That wouldn’t make any sense at all.  Someone can be just as deceived by merely listening the same as the one who is directly targeted.  When scripture says that Adam was “not deceived” it means just that.  Adam was not deceived by the lies spoken by the serpent even though he was with Eve while she was being influenced to believe the lie.

One wonders what is the reason for redefining what “not deceived” actually means?  The reason becomes quite clear as one connects together John Piper’s and Wayne Grudem’s assertions about satan’s knowledge concerning an unrevealed “order” of importance that makes only the male God’s official spokesman and defender thus causing Piper and Grudem to see more in the account of the fall than is revealed in the pages of the bible.

…the point is that when God’s order of leadership is repudiated it brings damage and ruin.  Men and women are both more vulnerable to error and sin when they forsake the order that God has intended.

What is “God’s order of leadership” and how is it “repudiated”?  Apparently satan had a hidden knowledge that caused him to know that Adam was to be approached as he was ordained to be the representative of humanity and ordained as the defender of God.

Satan’s subtlety is that he knew the created order God had ordained for the good of the family, and he deliberately defied it by ignoring the man and taking up his dealings with the woman.  Satan put her in the position of spokesman, leader and defender.

Let’s stop here a minute and ask some questions:

1.  How do we know that satan knew there was a “created order” that God had ordained?  God didn’t make Adam the president-ruler and Eve the vice-president ruler of the earth.  God told them both to rule the earth and subdue it and there is no biblical evidence of an “order” of their rule.  How could satan have known more than God revealed to Adam and his wife?  How come satan knows more about God’s purpose for man than God revealed in the scriptures?

2.  How could satan know about a “created order” for the family when God never made Adam a ruler over Eve?  God did tell Adam that he was to be a watchman over the garden before Eve was created, but he didn’t tell Adam that he was to rule over his wife nor did God tell Adam he was to be her spokesman.  Did God give more information to satan about Adam’s rulership than he gave to man?  Also how could Adam’s command to guard the garden be taken to mean that only Adam was to speak for God?  If God meant that only Adam could be his spokesman, wouldn’t God have said that?

3.  If satan “deliberately defied” God’s ordained spokesman (the man) and instead he spoke directly to Eve in order to trick her into defying her husband’s ordained role of spokesman for the family, how come God never blamed the serpent for his failure to first address the man?  How come Adam did not accuse the serpent of sin for “bypassing” him?  Lastly why did Eve not admit to having been deceived into becoming a “spokesman” for Adam or for God?  Why did she only admit to being deceived into eating the fruit?

The answers to these questions are important especially since Piper and Grudem make such an issue of Adam being the designated leader that they make going past the designated leader to be the initial cause of ruin in the garden.  They also make the bypassing of Adam so important, it becomes an excuse for Adam’s sin.

Men and women are both more vulnerable to error and sin when they forsake the order that God has intended. (My emphasis)

Let’s see if we can re-phrase Piper and Grudem’s argument.

Adam was deceived by the lies of the serpent just as Eve was, but he was considered “not deceived” because his special role as spokesman for mankind, designated leader and defender of God was deliberately bypassed by satan.  Satan’s first temptation was not a lie about God or a temptation to eat the fruit, but it was a temptation for Eve to illegally speak for God when she had never been ordained as a defender of God.  Eve also had never been ordained to make a decision for herself.  When she decided to take the fruit and eat it, she sinned against Adam bringing great “damage and ruin” by forsaking her designated decision-making leader.

Any thoughts?

25 thoughts on “Did the serpent have more knowledge than man?

  1. “not deceived” means “not approached by the deceiver”?

    I do not think these 2 were approached by the deceiver but I think they are deceiving themselves.

    We KNOW from other Scripture that Adam dealt treacherously with the covenant, this is a deliberate act.

  2. My first question is, “What happened to the “plain reading” hermeneutic? Can we use this extrapolation approach with 1 Timothy 2?

    My second question is, “Regardless of who the serpent approached and why (scripture never says why), what excuse can they concoct for Adam’s standing there silently while the whole beguiling went down? If he was a leader, he was as useless as an umbrella made of cheesecloth. He showed the spine of a jellyfish. He was a wuss. Did I mention Adam dropped the ball?

  3. Don,

    Yes, I too believe that Piper and Grudem are deceiving themselves by reinventing a mean of “not deceived” that is foreign to scripture.  If Adam’s act had not been by a one who knew the truth but defied God anyway, God would not have called his act a treacherous act.

    Paula,

    Your question about the “plain reading” of scripture is a good one.  i was thinking as I was reading their explanation that they were plain old messing with my head.  Others called this textual gymnastics.  It amounts to the same thing.  Your comment amount the “umbrella made of cheesecloth” made me laugh out loud.

  4. I’ve been lurking your blog for awhile, but just wanted to say thank you for a clear headed and logical response to this. 

    Thank you!

  5. John Piper and Wayne Grudem cause serious confusion when they write on the gender topic such as 1 Tim 2 is plain they say to understand and that the plain meaning should be accepted, yet they turn around and offer a reading that is the opposite of their ‘plain’ claim. The plain reading of both Gen 3 and 1 Tim 2, are in opposition to their interpretations. I say if one wants plain, let ’em have it! lol!

  6. Paula,

    Ah, a magical umbrella!  That explains it all!

    pinklight,

    I agree there is a lot of confusion coming from people who claim they agree with the “plain reading” of the bible.

  7. “he was considered “not deceived” because his special role as spokesman for mankind, designated leader and defender of God was deliberately bypassed by satan.”

    Adam must not have been much of a defender if his territory was so easily invaded.
     If this is indeed the case, wouldn’t this “inability” to properly take leadership logically disqualify him from further authority? I mean, in the business world, if someone abuses their authority and essentially ruins the company (Enron), you’re not going to give them more authority. 
    So why would God see that Eve had been deceived and Adam had knowingly chosen wrong, but then place Adam with all the authority? Why would he place either in authority?

  8. Nicole, I’ve posed that same question in my articles:

    “To turn completely around and curse her with servitude to the man who had blamed her and God for his sin and failed to step in while she was being tempted, would be to say God rewards poor leadership and passing blame, even to the point of blaming God. Adam had proven himself disqualified to lead and unworthy of God’s blessing with rulership over the one he failed to lead and protect.”

    I strongly believe that the reason God showed Adam the animals before creating Eve was to emphasize Eve’s superiority to them. When Adam exclaimed about Eve that she was “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”, he was saying that she was his equal, not inferior like the animals.

  9. “the point is that when God’s order of leadership is repudiated it brings damage and ruin.  

     They are basically teaching that sinful women need to be under the authority of another depraved sinner all their life? That is where the damage and ruin come from. Not to mention women spending all their time trying to play their ‘role’ well instead of Abiding in Christ.

  10. ‘To turn completely around and curse her with servitude to the man who had blamed her and God for his sin and failed to step in while she was being tempted, would be to say God rewards poor leadership and passing blame, even to the point of blaming God. Adam had proven himself disqualified to lead and unworthy of God’s blessing with rulership over the one he failed to lead and protect.”’

    Paula, why don’t cha just say how it is?? lol! LOL! If you wanna cut to the chase, just read Paula…

  11. Paula #’2 & 4,

    After reading about (written by I decline to say whom) how Esther could only operate as she did by the “covering” afforded by Mordecai, I really did guffaw and darn near spit some of my coffee onto the keyboard to boot!  Cheese Cloth Umbrella! ……. still laughing!…

  12. Pink: Yeah, you know me… always beating around the bush. 😉

    Greg: Sorry about the keyboard, bro. One should always read my ravings with caution (or from behind the safety of a plastic sheet, which works a lot better than cheesecloth). (But if you need tech assistance, I’m typing on a keyboard I once spilled a strawberry milkshake on… such a waste of a perfectly good milkshake! But I got most of the keys to work, albeit a little sticky.)

  13. You… all are… tempting me… must resist… must not create an internet storefront where you can buy all sorts of magical coverings…

    (uh-oh! the security word is “toast”!)

  14. OHG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Eve also had never been ordained to make a decision for herself

    Your pretty far gone in my book if you believe the above line. Talk about making the bible say something it doesn’t and they are suppose to be teachers. There both false teachers in my book. I’m glad we called them out. Doesn’t scripture say in the new testament and to all believers that:

    1 Peter 3:15
    But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

    I like to ask piper and the other guy, Can/could Eve (The Woman) make a decision to go to the bathroom by herself? ROTFL

  15. By Lin

    “the point is that when God’s order of leadership is repudiated it brings damage and ruin.

    They are basically teaching that sinful women need to be under the authority of another depraved sinner all their life? That is where the damage and ruin come from. Not to mention women spending all their time trying to play their ‘role’ well instead of Abiding in Christ.

    GREAT POINT, JUST AMAZING HOW GOD HAS GIVEN YOU THE WISDOM AND LEADERSHIP TO SUM THIS ALL UP IN A NUT SHELL!

  16. Michael,

    The thought about all of Eve’s requests to Adam (including could she take a potty break) make the whole issue of having Adam to be consulted for her decisions, to be incredibly silly. Instead of a helper, she would see to be a whole lot of work for him. That just isn’t scriptural. Eve was a person who could make decisions on her own and nothing in the scriptures refutes that.

  17. ” Instead of a helper, she would see to be a whole lot of work for him. ”

    It would be like Adam being presented with a child instead of Flesh of my Flesh for a One Flesh Union. I know the comps don’t think of it like that. They think of Eve as more of a junior associate who never learns the job or gets promoted. :o)

  18. Lin,

    This is the exact thing that it seems to me as well. The way that the opposition presents the woman needing someone to make decisions, makes her to be very childlike.

  19. Let’s see if we can re-phrase Piper and Grudem’s argument.

    Adam was deceived by the lies of the serpent just as Eve was, but he was considered “not deceived” because his special role as spokesman for mankind, designated leader and defender of God was deliberately bypassed by satan. Satan’s first temptation was not a lie about God or a temptation to eat the fruit, but it was a temptation for Eve to illegally speak for God when she had never been ordained as a defender of God. Eve also had never been ordained to make a decision for herself. When she decided to take the fruit and eat it, she sinned against Adam bringing great “damage and ruin” by forsaking her designated decision-making leader.

    Any thoughts?

    Do we have humanbeings or robots here LOL? This is so far for the text there in Hell!

  20. HI, Cheryl,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I want to say that I enjoy it a lot. I agree with what you say on a lot of things concerning Adam and Eve’s relationship and the fall. However, I’ve noticed some things about Genesis that are either ignored or overlooked in many christian discussions. In Genesis 2:17, God clearly tells Adam he is not to eat from “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” under penalty of death. In Genesis 3:3, Eve refers to this same tree as the “tree in the midst of the garden”. Why is that? It’s as if Eve didn’t know all the facts concerning the tree that Adam was given in the original prohibition. OTOH, Eve was given (along with Adam) an extra prohibition not to touch said tree. Unlike other people, I take Eve’s words as fact about what God said to her and Adam. I do not believe that God didn’t speak to her personally, or that Eve lied, misunderstood, or added words to what was said to her. I think the reason why Eve was deceived and Adam was not was because Adam knew that the tree symbolized a knowledge that God did not intend for him to have at that point. Eve, OTOH, did not exactly know what this tree symbolized. She was caught off guard by the serpent when he told her she would “be like God knowing good and evil”. It was as if the serpent was implying that God was holding out of her concerning information about the tree. She probably did not know that Adam had full knowledge of what the tree symbolized so she did not turn to him for help, and his silence didn’t do anything to convince her otherwise. I think this is the real reason behind the statement that Eve was deceived and Adam was not. My question is: why didn’t God inform Eve that the tree symbolized the knowledge of good and evil? I think the answer is in the roles Adam and Eve were created to fill. For the record; I do not believe that Adam had any authority over Eve or anything like that. I believe genesis 1:26-28 clearly shows that men and women are to rule the earth equally. However, I agree with the jewish interpretation of the ezer kenegdo as someone who will support the man when he is righteous and oppose him when he is not. Charis, one of your other commentators, says that the Paul says the woman is suppose to be the guardian or watchman of the family. I think this is true because proverbs 31:27 says:

    “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”

    The hebrew word for “looketh well” is tsaphah. It means to keep watch, or to look ahead. The noun form is the word used for the watchman of a city who warns of danger or an approaching enemy. The hebrew word for ways is haliykah. It can mean a procession, march, or paths. Clearly, this is more than just domestic concerns. I take this to mean that women are to look out for their family’s spiritual well being. Adam was to guard the garden, but Eve was to guard her relationship with Adam. In genesis 2:22, God is said to “build” Eve. The hebrew word is banah, and it has the same root word as binah (insight, understanding, discernment). The jewish sages took this to mean that God gave Eve and extra dose of spiritual insight. Well, I wouldn’t go that far, I think this is the reason why women are so relationship oriented toward their husbands, children, female friends, and other people. We were deliberately built this way for a spiritual purpose. Skip Moen is a blogger who seeks to understand the scriptures from a hebrew world view. He has some very insightful things to say about the role of the ezer kenegdo on his blog. He thinks the ezer kenegdo was created to act as an advocate or a boundary setter in the relationship. He looks at the hebrew word zakar which means male. It has a homophone that means to remember and in the hebrew worldview, to remember God’s laws is to act on it. The hebrew word for female is n?qebah, and it has a homophone in hebrew that means a setting for gemstones. For example; a bezel setting is the most ancient method for setting gemstones in jewelry. It consists of a band of metal that wraps around the circumference or boundary of the gemstone to protect and secure it in place. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jeremiah 31:22 states that a woman will compass a male. The word for woman is not the ordinary hebrew word for woman.
    It is the word n?qebah (female), and the n?qebah will compass (hebrew word cabab meaning to surround or encircle or in other words form a boundary) the male (not zakar, but the hebrew word gebar which means a mighty warrior man). The female will surround and protect the strong male. Of course, what does this have to do with Eve’s deception? I think that Adam was told that the tree symbolized knowledge of good and evil because he was suppose to know the facts, remember what God told him to do, and ACT ON IT in order to protect the garden. Eve, OTOH, was given the prohibition not to eat from the tree, but she did not know what the tree symbolized. Instead, she was given an extra prohibition not to touch the tree. In other words, God established an extra boundary and Eve was suppose to KEEP THE BOUNDARIES and encourage Adam to do the same. Once God created Adam and Eve in their respective roles and co-rule of the earth, he had to give them an opportunity to sin in order to test their faith in him. I believe this is why Eve was not told what the tree symbolized. If she was built with extra binah, she needed to learn to discern a truth from a lie. That didn’t make her infallible though because Eve lacked spiritual maturity.. Adam had more experience in his relationship with God. He saw him plant a garden, was given instructions on how to care for the garden, given specific facts about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and he named the animals. Eve was a latecomer on the scene, and she didn’t have this experience. Eve needed spiritual maturity and growth to exercise her discernment abilities. In Heb 5:14, it says:

    “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

    If Eve had doubts, she should have had enough faith in God to ignore the serpent, encourage Adam to do the same, and inquire of the Lord concerning the matter (like Rebecca did concerning her twins). In other words, if she had maintained the boundaries established by God until she took up the matter with Him, she wouldn’t have fallen into sin. That said, Adam was not deceived, had all the facts, and he failed to inform his wife when he saw she was in danger of being deceived. Adam was suppose to remember what he was created for and act on it. Eve was the ezer kenegdo, but because of her spiritual immaturity, Adam should’ve acted as a safeguard for his wife. In other words, a man and woman were created to watch each other’s backs and act in tandem to protect and rule the garden in their perspective roles. I think the main reason Eve sinned in her spiritual immaturity is due to her desire to fill her role as ezer kenegdo to benefit her relationship with her husband. In genesis 3:6, Eve thought the tree would give her a special wisdom (sakal). She confused a knowledge of good and evil with the wisdom known as sakal. In hebrew, sakal is about being prudent, or to discern and understand what the lord would want us to do. In proverbs 19:14, it says:

    “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent (sakal) wife is from the LORD.”

    Obviously, sakal in a wife is a desirable quality to fill the role of the ezer kenegdo. Unfortunately, Eve bought the serpent’s lies and thought she could get sakal the fast track way without inquiring with the Lord. In her spiritual immaturity, she forgot to maintain the boundaries established by the lord. Adam knew what he was doing, and he deliberately chose to stay silent and let Eve take the blame for him. He knew there was extending circumstances for her sin and none for his. Anyway, this is my take on the fall.

  21. I also wanted to say that I think there are more ways to interpret how the ezer kenegdo is suppose to be defined. I notice that people always talk about the word ezer (meaning strong help, rescuer) is always applied to God in most respects. Yet, kenegdo is almost ignored. I do accept the jewish definition of ezer kenegdo as strong helper against him, but I also think taking a closer look at the root word neged is in order. Ezer kenegdo can mean strong help before him, but what ways is the woman before the man as a strong ally. I thought if ezer can be applied to God to define ezer as applied to the woman, why can’t neged be as well? Of course, neged applied to God isn’t as numerous in the bible as compared to ezer. However, I noticed Psalms 16:8:

    “I have set the lord continually before (neged) me; because he is at my right hand; I will not be shaken.”

    King David wrote Psalm 16 asking God to keep him safe and give him refuge. Can the wife be before her husband as a strong ally to keep him safe and give him refuge? I also notice that words such as forsake and cleave are used to describe the covenant between God and Israel. Forsake and cleave is clearly marriage covenant language in Genesis 2:24 where the man forsakes his parents to cleave to his wife. When David was hiding out in the desert from Saul in he says to God in Psalms 63:8:

    “I cleave to you; your strong right hand holds me securely”.

    The word cleave is the same one describing the husband cleaving to
    his wife in Genesis 2:24. In both Psalms; David describes the lord as his helper, rescuer, guide, protector, strong right hand, etc. The Psalms clearly speak of a covenant with David and God as well as God and Israel. Could it be that the wife is a strong ally before him so that he can cleave to her-his strong right hand? I think this is a valid interpretation.

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