Man's Help Meet
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Genesis, chapter 2, as we resume our study of this first book of the Bible. We began a discussion of what we referred to as the first division of the book, and we reminded you that the book is divided into about 13 different sections, each beginning with a phrase similar to that which you find in verse 4 of chapter 2:

Genesis 2:

4These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

We have discussed in this section thus far the creation of man in the image of God. You will remember that in verse 7 of chapter 2 we read:

Genesis 2:

7And 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.

We want now to take up the additional portion of this first division as it is still related to man and God's provision for him. We read from Genesis, chapter 2, verse 8:

Genesis 2:

8And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
11The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
15And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
18And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19And 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.
20And 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.
21And 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;
22And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23And 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.
24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
25And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

We will stop our reading there because that brings us to the end of what might be called the introduction of our forefathers, our forebearers…the beginning of the human race. Some portions of this passage of Scripture will not need a great deal of comment, because there is not a great deal that can be said. But in view of the errors that are being taught in relation to the book of Genesis…and sad to say, in many instances they are accepted as fact…I would like to point out to you a few facts which may become more clear when I call them to your attention.

We do not believe that the book of Genesis is a myth, nor do we believe it is an allegory, nor do we believe it is merely figurative, suggesting moral truths. We believe that it is the literal Word of God, and that it describes events which actually occurred and situations and locations which were real.

The Garden of Eden

The first thing we would like to call to your attention is what God had to say about the Garden of Eden. Will you notice in verse 8 that the Garden of Eden took its name from the place where it was located. It was located eastward in Eden, which means that it was located in the eastern portion of Eden. The whole territory was called Eden, and God was pleased to plant a garden there. That is what He did. He planted an enclosed garden, and He planted that garden eastward in Eden, and He put man into that garden.

The question very naturally arises in our minds, “What is the location of the Garden of Eden?” Where is it, or where was it? I want to say to begin with that the exact location of the Garden of Eden cannot be determined at the present time. That does not mean that it did not exist. It simply means that the thousands of years that have elapsed since the Garden of Eden was actually built have so changed the terrain that no one can say with absolute accuracy where it was located.

We know approximately where it was located because of two rivers which are still in existence today. They are mentioned in the portion of the Word at which we were looking just a moment ago:

Genesis 2:

14And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

Hiddekel is another name for the Tigris River, with which most of you are familiar. The Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers and the geography of the surrounding land cause us to think that the Garden of Eden could have been located at the tip of the Persian Gulf.

The reason we say we do not know exactly where it was located is that the beds of these rivers have changed through the years. They are not flowing in the actual course they were when these events occurred or even when this portion of the Word was written. You do remember that the record was written long after the events actually happened.

Man's Tendency Toward Idolatry

It does not matter a great deal whether we can locate the Garden of Eden geographically or not. The important thing for us to remember is that there was actually a place called the Garden of Eden. It was a literal place. In the providence of God it is good, at least in my humble opinion, that we cannot locate the Garden of Eden. I believe we are so prone to idolatry that if we could locate the Garden of Eden, there would be some kind of shrine there, and people would be making pilgrimages and wasting their time, their money, and their effort in the worship of a place. I think that is one of the reasons God, in His mercy and His grace, has not permitted us to know a number of things. There is claimed to be in the world enough of the wood that made up the original Cross of Christ that it could make something like 5,000 crosses the same size.

God, in His mercy, does not permit us to know where the Cross of Christ actually is because we are prone to idolatry. We would be prone, I am sure, to have some kind of concession at the site of the Garden of Eden if we had any idea at all where it is.

Kind of Territory Found in Eden

One thing that I would like for you to keep in mind to make you realize that the Garden of Eden was a literal garden is the mention of the kind of territory in which it was found. If you will look at verse 12:

Genesis 2:

12And the gold of that land is good…

There is no significance to that. That is a simple statement that there was gold in them thar hills .

Genesis 2:

12…there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

Bdellium is a sort of gum material that comes from certain sap-producing trees, and also there is an onyx stone with which you are familiar.

I can think of two reasons the Spirit would be pleased to record those facts. One of them is to remind us that this was a very literal place, and also perhaps it is some indication of the exact location of the Garden of Eden. The territory which I mentioned around the Persian Gulf abounds with the materials which are suggested in this portion of the Word of God.

Abundance of Trees in Eden

Another reason we know that this was a literal place is that there were trees and rivers there, and God planted the trees. We are prone to be so involved with the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that we forget that the garden abounded with trees, but it actually did:

Genesis 2:

9And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food…

This phraseology is not as accurate a translation of the original language as it might be. It would be correct to say: “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow a superabundance of every kind of tree; trees that were pleasant to the sight, and trees also that were good for food.” This was a very literal blessing.

Rivers in Eden

Also to indicate the literalness of the Garden of Eden is the fact recorded in verse 10 that a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and after it left the territory of Eden, it broke up into the four rivers we have mentioned in our reading of the Scriptures. In verse 11:

Genesis 2:

11The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
13And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
14And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

As I mentioned to you, we do not know which rivers the first two were. We do not know what course they ran, but that does not mean that they did not exist, because certainly we are aware of the fact that many changes have occurred in our earth and in our land down through the years.

Actual Trees-Not Just Symbols

Having established in our thinking the fact that the Garden of Eden was a very literal place, I would like for us to notice the two trees to which the Spirit of God draws our attention especially, and to remind you that they, too, were literal. It is very, very important for us to remember that. The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil were not symbolical. They were two literal trees.

You will notice in verse 9, “The tree of life also in the midst of the garden.” Right in the middle of the garden was the Tree of life. What was this Tree of Life?”

If you are asking me what kind of fruit the Tree of Life bore, I cannot tell you. I do not know,and neither does anyone else. If you want to say that it was plums, apples, or something else, I suppose you have as much liberty to say that as I have to say that it was not, because nobody knows. But there was a literal Tree of Life. That it was a literal tree becomes evident if you will look at chapter 3, verse 22:

Genesis 3:

22And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Purpose for Tree of Life

The Tree of Life was meant for the health of Adam and Eve. It would have provided unending physical life for Adam and Eve had they stayed in the garden. You will notice what I said: It was meant for the health of Adam and Eve.

I want you to realize that, because I do not want you to think that it was some sort of magical potion which you could take, and which would perform some sort of strange magical miracle. I believe that it was a very literal provision on the part of God…an eatable fruit, the eating of which would guarantee health.

The reason I say that is that God will make possible this same tree once again when He creates the new earth. You will remember that this earth on which we live is going to pass out of existence some day at the hand of God. It is going to pass out of existence one of these days, and God is going to create a completely new heaven and a completely new earth. He is going to begin all over again.

Tree of Life in the Future

We will not be human beings then, of course. We will be glorified beings, and we will have the privilege of living in the new Jerusalem which God in His mercy will create. We will have the privilege of overseeing, so to speak, this new heaven and this new earth. But that is a study in itself, and we will not go into detail except to ask you to turn to Revelation, chapter 22, and notice what is presented to John as he views the new heaven and the new earth:

Revelation 22:

1And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations [the word healing should be health . It was not that they were sick and needed healing. It was for their continued health].
3And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:

In case there is a question in your minds as to why, if we have our glorified bodies, would we need health-giving fruit, we won't. When God creates the new earth, He is going to begin again what He began in the Garden of Eden. But this time it will not be ruined by the handiwork of the Devil.

As we go back to the book of Genesis, carry with you the thought that the Tree of Life is very definitely a tree, and that it had definite fruit which made possible the health of the people who lived in the Garden of Eden. Though I may seem to be repetitious, I want to emphasize that to you so you will not fall into the error into which a number of good people have fallen, in assuming that the book of Genesis is but an allegory and has no material significance.

Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

In Genesis, chapter 2, will you notice in verse 9 the mention of another tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Once again, I would like to emphasize to you that this is a literal tree. I want you to listen very carefully to what I am going to say.

This was not an apple tree, in spite of what Milton says. There is no indication of what kind of fruit this tree bore. The fruit which it bore was not even known as the fruit good or the fruit evil. It was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, not because of the fruit which it bore…notice carefully what I am saying…but because of the restriction which God placed about it. That is the reason it had the name. It had the name of the Tree of knowledge of Good amd Evil, not because if you ate of that tree you would suddenly see visions of evil, but rather because if Adam ate of that tree, he would be conscious of evil, in that he had disobeyed God.

Get the picture: The law was, “Thou shalt not eat of the tree.” That was God's law. The very moment Adam ate of that tree, he became conscious of evil as well as good. How did that come to pass? Turn with me, if you will, to Romans, chapter 7, and notice what the Apostle Paul had to say, not about the Tree of Knbowledge of Good and Evil, but about the thing in relation to himself. The Apostle Paul was speaking about his consciousness of sin. He was a moral man. He was a good man. But suddenly he became very conscious of his sin. What made him conscious of that sin? Look at verse 7:

Romans 7:

7What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
8But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
9For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
10And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
11For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by [notice] the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

Listen carefully to what I am saying. There was a difference in Adam's state and in Paul's state. There is no parallel, but the illustration is the same. Paul said, “I would never have known sin if God had not made a law, ‘Thou shalt not covet.' But as soon as I coveted, I stood convicted of the law as a sinner. I would never have known, would never have been conscious of evil,” Paul said, “if the law had not said that evil was thus and so.”

In the Garden of Eden, when Adam ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he did not eat a piece of fruit that gave him enlarged vision and caused him to look at evil things. Rather, he disobeyed God. He became conscious of evil as well as good. Because he became conscious of evil as well as of good, he was expelled from the Garden of Eden, as you know. We will have more to say about that when we talk about the actual fall of man.

The thing that I want you to see now is that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a very literal tree which got its name, not from the fruit that it bore, but from the result that disobedience to the command of God had in the life of Adam.

A Help Meet for Adam

In the remaining portion of this first section…if you will go back with me to chapter 2 of the book of Genesis…I would like for us to notice God's provision for Adam in creating for him what is referred to as a help meet . Let us look at the paragraph which presents this matter, beginning with verse 18.

We need to read very carefully here, because if we read carelessly, we might jump to the erroneous conclusion which some people have that God was trying to find a help meet for Adam among the animal kingdom. Nothing could be farther from the truth than that. If you will look at verse 18:

Genesis 2:

18And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19And 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.

People read that verse hurriedly, and they read it carelessly, and they think that God began to create things out of the dust as if He could not find something that would meet the need of Adam. But keep in mind that the verse actually says that God “had formed”…He had already done this. These creatures were already created before He discussed the matter of a help meet for Adam. In the interim after God made the statement that Adam needed an help meet, He put Adam to work naming all the creatures, animal and fowl, that He had created. As Adam named them, male and female, he became very conscious of the fact that the animals were better off than he. He had no help meet for him. Look at verse 20:

Genesis 2:

20And 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.

If you could read this in the intensity of the original language, you would hear almost a sigh in that last statement. Everything had its counterpart but Adam. God was going to do something about it, and He did.

I would like for you to look at the word help meet , twice mentioned in this passage of Scripture. I suggest to you that it comes from the Hebrew word which literally means counterpart . I like that much better. Remember that it says counterpart.

Adam-Incomplete Without A Counterpart

It was not that God created somebody to help Adam with the work. It was not that God created somebody to make Adam's work a little bit easier in the job that he had to do. It was that Adam…and this is what I want you to get…was not a complete creation until God created his counterpart. There was something lacking.

Adam was created an intelligent being. Do you think that an ape could have named all those animals? Remember, he did not guess what their names were. He coined the names and gave them to them. He was an intelligent being, but with all of his intelligence created in the image of God, there was still something lacking. It was a counterpart. As words are to music, so was Eve to Adam. Music, no words; Adam, no counterpart. God created a counterpart for Adam. You will notice how He did it in verse 21:

Genesis 2:

21And 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;
22And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
23And 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.

Let's stop for a moment and think about what we have read here. In the marriage ceremonies which I conduct, I always make mention of the fact that when God created Adam's counterpart, He did not take something from his head that might be ruler over him, nor something from his feet that he might trample underneath, but something from his side that she might be nearest and dearest to his heart.

Notice that Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” The thing that I want you to realize, that I want to get across to you, is that woman is the inseparable counterpart of man. God emphasizes this in a number of different ways…primarily in the way in which He brought Adam's counterpart into being by taking something from the side, a very part of Adam, by fashioning woman out of Adam's rib.

There is no room for foolishness. This is one of the most sacred things that God's Word reveals. If we would correctly understand it and give it its place as God gives it, we would not have many of the problems that we have today.

God's Institution of Marriage

Will you notice verse 24:

Genesis 2:

24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

That is God's institution of marriage. Some people are foolish enough to say, because they read history and not the Word of God, that the marriage of one man and one woman is a comparatively recent thing, that there was a time when a plurality of wives was the natural thing. God never started marriage that way. God started it with one man and one woman.

That will become evident if you will turn with me to the Gospel of Mattthew, chapter 19. With this passage of Scripture I would like for us to begin a little journey through the Word of God to let the Scripture comment on what we actually mean when we say that God found that Adam did not have a counterpart, that there was something lacking in Adam, and that God made up for it by the creation of woman.

Marriage To Be A Permament Arrangement

Notice Matthew, chapter 19, verse 3:

Matthew 19:

3The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

Their question actually was “Lord, is it all right for a man to divorce his wife any time it strikes him, any time he has the idea?”

Matthew 19:

4And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

Jesus said that is God's institution. That is the first establishment of the order.

Matthew 19:

6Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

You notice that statement: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.” There is no room for a fifty-fifty proposition in marriage. We are not being facetious. There is no room for towels His and Hers in the bathroom. The twain are one flesh. It is not a question of their being two separate individuals, giving and taking and trying to get along. That is the world's conception of marriage.

Marriages that are instituted by God are such that the two are become one. If all marriages were so instituted, there would be no room for divorce. There would be no room for broken homes. It would be an utter impossibility. If my marriage were instituted by God, it would be just as impossible for my marriage to be broken up as it would be for me to cut off my head and still be able to live, or to cut myself in two and still exist. The twain have become one in Christ. Wherefore, what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. There are no ifs and ands about that.

Why Moses Permitted Divorce

Matthew 19:

7They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

What does that mean? They say, “Well, you do not know so much. Moses said that it was all right to divorce.” Jesus said, “Moses did not.” “Well, Moses said that it was all right to go to the courts and get a dicorce.” “Yes,” said Jesus, “he did. But he did that not because he approved of divorce but to correct an evil that was existing in that day.” For in that day, a man could face his wife at the breakfast table and say three times, “I want to divorce you, I divorce you. I divorce you,” and that was all there was to it.

In that day there was not the economic situation there is today, and divorce worked a real hardship on the woman. Some women in this day and time are better off financially after a divorce than they were before, but that was not true then. So in order to correct the evil, Moses insisted that instead of making it a breakfast table thing, it should be got out in the open before the elders. That served to curb a tendency to carelessness on the part of those who were so inclined. But you will notice that the Lord Jesus Christ said, “From the beginning this was not so.” And the Lord Jesus Christ said:

Matthew 19:

9And I say unto you…

“It does not matter what Moses said to you in this particular instance.”

Matthew 19:

9[But] I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

God, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, said, “When God makes a woman the counterpart of man, you cannot go around breaking it up. The twain have become one flesh.”

I did not read this passage of Scripture to emphasize the question of divorce, so that is all we are going to say about it. I read this passage of Scripture to emphasize that the Lord Jesus Christ recognized the fact that marriage is two people becoming one, not five or six people being tied to one man, but two people becoming one, and the twain becoming one flesh.

Rightful Place of the Woman

It is the woman's (this is what I want you to get) being a counterpart of man: not the woman's playing second fiddle, not the woman's being the slave, not the woman's being the helper, but the woman's being a counterpart of man. Only as this is recognized can there be the kind of marriage that God intended.

Turn, please, as we pursue this subject a little further, to I Corinthians, chapter 11. Here is presented to us the matter of whether or not women should wear head coverings in public meetings. We are not discussing this passage from that standpoint, though I will say in passing that I do not believe you can conscientiously read this Scripture and come to any but one conclusion. We are discussing it because the head covering is but an illustration of the truth that has its roots in the book of Genesis, and that is what we are interested in.

You understand that if we should attempt to explore all the side issues that come up when we discuss any one passage of Scripture, we would not get very far in the particular passage that we feel should be emphasized. Will you notice with me I Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 3:

I Corinthians 11:

3But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
4Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
5But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
6For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
7For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman [notice]is the glory of the man.

Let that sink in. The woman is not the slave to be trampled on. The woman is not an inferior creature to be lorded over. The woman is the glory of man. If this means what it says, it means that man without woman has no glory.

I Corinthians 11:

8For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
9Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
10For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
11Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

Stop and think about that. “Nevertheless,” as far as God is concerned, “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord.” Do you know what that means? Just what I have been trying to emphasize. The twain have become one in the institution of marriage.

I Corinthians 11:

12For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
13Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered [that is, with her head uncovered]?
14Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
16But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

He closes that paragraph by saying, “If you want to argue about it, you are going to have to argue with the facts, because there is no such custom taught in the Word of God. Neither do the churches have any other custom.”

Once again, we read this passage of Scripture to emphasize the vital facts concerning the relationship of the woman to the man. The woman is the glory of the man. The woman and the man in the sight of God are inseparable.

The Head of the Family

Will you turn to I Peter, chapter 3. Once again we have presented to us in this portion of the Word the relationship of the husband and wife in the manner in which we have been thinking.

I Peter 3:

1Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands…

Let us stop for a moment and recognize what we are thinking about. We are not thinking about a man's sitting on a pedestal and saying to his slave, “Do it!”, and her running and doing it because she is scared not to. We are thinking about a woman's being counterpart of man as God intends her to be. That is what we are thinking about. And what is that? God said that the man is the head and the woman the counterpart. Anybody that has two heads is a monstrosity, and any marriage that has two heads is a monstrosity. The husband is the head. The wife is the counterpart.

I Peter 3:

1Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

The word conversation here is not yakkety-yak. It is the godly manner of living that the wife presents before her husband. This simply means that if her husband cannot be won in any other way, he can be won because a woman takes the place that God intended her to have in the marriage relationship.

I Peter 3:

2While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
3Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
5For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
6Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Honoring the Wife

This is the portion we wanted to get to:

I Peter 3:

7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Let those words sink in, will you? What do they say?

I Peter 3:

7Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them [your wives]according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife…

This word honor does not mean to buy them a pearl necklace every birthday. It might not hurt you to do that, but that is not what it is talking about. It is talking about giving them honor. It is talking about giving them the same value that God gives them. That is the meaning of that phrase, “giving them honour”…giving them the same value that God gives them as a weaker vessel, and there is not room for levity here about how some women weigh more than men and all that foolishness.

You know the Bible makes a distinction between joking and jesting. It condemns jesting. There is nothing wrong with joking or with jokes that are not obscene. Humor is all right. But you are jesting when you take a passage of Scripture and make a joke out of it. When you make light of a Scripture, that is jesting, and God is very severe about that. He condemns that, so we need to watch it as Christians. I think sometimes we slip into that sort of thing unconsciously.

There is no room here for foolish talk about women being stronger than men, so why call them a weaker vessel? The word weaker here is not a reference to lack of strength. It is a reference to a delicate mechanism, a delicate instrument. Here you have a piece of machinery, and right in the midst of it is a very delicate mechanism. How carefully you treat it! You do not talk about its being bigger or smaller, weaker or stronger. You talk about its being a very delicate instrument. You treat it carefully, for if you do not, that great big piece of machinery may not be able to operate. That is what he is talking about here…giving value unto the wife as unto the delicate vessel and being heirs together.

Reason Requiring Unity in Marriage

Here we have that unity again…being heirs together in the grace of life. It is not a question of one's being better than the other, or a question of each having his own right, but it is a question of their being heirs together in the grace of life.

Notice that last statement, which is a sermon in itself, and we will just mention it in passing: “that your prayers be not hindered.” I am firmly convinced that this last statement has an awful lot to do with why God does not answer our prayers in relation to our children. It has an awful lot to do with why God does not answer our prayers in relation to our needs, in relation to so many things. God said, “If this relationship is not right, your prayer life will be hindered by it.” That becomes a very serious thing, doesn't it?

One last thought I would leave with you, from I Thessalonians, chapter 4. As far as I know, these are the passages of Scripture which deal with this Genesis passage. I do not know whether or not you have followed me all the way through in your thinking, but the reason we have looked at these passages of Scripture is that they are all related to what we read in the book of Genesis.

I Thessalonians 4:

1Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
2For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
3For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
4That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
5Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
6That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.

You will keep in mind that Paul ws writing to a Christian church which had just been born out of idolatry, and many of the habits of the old way of living were hanging on to these Christians. Missionaries tell us today that they have a problem we do not have so much in this country. When converts are saved, many times they carry with them the old habits of lying and stealing, because their very religion taught them that it is all right to lie and to steal. It takes a while for the Spirit of God to work off the rough edges and to help them see the error in that. In the city of Thessalonica, women had no place at all. But wherever Christianity went, women were lifted to the pedestal upon which God had placed them. That is the reason it has always been a mystery to me why women deny the Word of God and make light of Christianity. If they had an ounce of brains, they would know that the only reason even unsaved women have the position they have is because the light of Christianity has touched the localities where they are.

Notice what Paul said, “All around men are treating their wives terribly, but I do not want you to do that.” Paul said, “I want you to abstain from fornication,” and in verse 4, “I want every one of you to know how to possess his vessel.” His vessel here is his wife…possess his vessel in sanctification and in honor. Vessel is the same word that we read in I Peter, chapter 3, verse 7: “giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel.”

It is the same word for vessel. The idea is, “I want you to put the same value on your wife that God puts on her. I do not want you to treat her like a cow or sheep or goat. That is the way the heathen do, but I want you to put the same value on your wife that God puts on her.

What is the value? That value is that your wife is your counterpart. You are like music without words unless you have the wife God intended you to have.

Go back with me to Matthew, chapter 19, for one last word, and notice the closing words which the Lord Jesus Christ uttered:

Matthew 19:

10His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

What did they mean? “Well, Jesus, you are just putting too many complications on the thing. How is a man going to know what to do?”

Jesus had said, “For every man, there is a counterpart.” And then He said, “That is a general statement, and there are exceptions to every rule.” And so, you will notice verse 11:

Matthew 19:

11…All men cannot receive this saying, save they [but only those] to whom it is given.
12For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Speaking very broadly, of course, the Scripture speaks only in terms of men as it always does, but it includes the women in any place where they are supposed to be. What is Jesus saying here? He is saying that some people are born into the world without God's intention for them to marry, and that would involve a lengthy discussion.

There may be any number of reasons why God did not intend for them to marry. There are born eunuchs. And He said that there are some that are made eunuchs by men. That is, certain human circumstances make it impossible for people to marry. There are economic circumstances that make it impossible for people to marry, certain things related to human living that make it impossible for people to marry. Now understand there is nothing wrong with that. These are God's exceptions to the rule.

The third thing He said was that some people are eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven's sake. The suggestion is that because they feel that they can do a more effective work for God without the responsibilities of marriage, (Paul very plainly discusses that in I Corinthians), some people become eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven's sake. They willingly forgo the privileges of the marriage relationship that they may carry on their work for God. But God said that those are the exceptions. For all others, God has created man, and he has created a help meet for him.


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