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Intro: Begin in Gen. 2:21-24. This is a familiar passage. You may have heard it used in a marriage ceremony, or studied it in a class on marriage.
- It is intriguing to note that v. 24 is quoted 4 times in the New Testament:
- In 2 gospel accounts in connection with marriage – 19:3-6; Mk. 10:6-9;
- Paul uses it in his discussion of sexual immorality is reference to a person’s connection to a prostitute – 1 Cor. 6:15-17
- Paul utilizes it again as he teaches on the relationship between Christ and His church – Eph. 5:28-32
- How can this text be used to cut across such a variety of discussions and teachings?
- What does it mean? What is its significance?
- We will consider the meaning of Adam’s statement, “bone of my bones; flesh of my flesh” & Moses’ commentary they shall become “one flesh”.
- Splitting of Adam: I listened recently to a lesson by Wayne Galloway (Ft. Logan church in Stanford, KY) in which he described this event in Gen. 2:21-22 as the “splitting of Adam”. God opened up Adam and took his rib. From this rib he made woman.
- It is easy to view this as just a physical description of physical procedure. But I am convinced that it is more than just the taking of a rib.
- Man is split from one person into two. The two people are unique; different from any of the animals. They are unique in their relationship to each other.
- We might ask, “What was man like before God ‘split’ him?” We cannot know.
- But notice that Moses said, “God took her from the man.” (v. 23) So it would seem that the man is split.
- Adam’s Observation: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”
- Does this mean that she is his physical complement? Yes, but the comment by Moses and the quotations of this text in the N.T. indicate that there is more to it than this physical element.
- Moses said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” We tend to view this in physical terms… [a man leaves his parents home and begins living with his new wife. They have sexual relations (become one flesh)]
- But this probably does not capture the full meaning here. Consider Gen. 4:1– the text says, “The man had relations with his wife Eve and she conceived and gave birth to Cain.” It does not say, “They became one flesh.” Sex and becoming one flesh are not identical.
- What does it mean “to become one flesh?” The answer may be found in the man’s observation, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”
- Observe this statement is made to God, not to Eve. So Adam is not simply telling Eve that she is just what he was looking for – “I am attracted to you.“ He is not just expressing exuberance over what God has done, but recognizing that God has created a special relationship.
- But Moses narrows it even further. There is a special relationship between all men and all women. But Moses narrows the focus to one man and one woman. All men do not become one flesh with all women. One man and one woman become one flesh.
- Notice other instances where “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” is used.
- Gen. 29:14—Jacob had fled from his father, Isaac’s, household and had gone to his mother’s brother, Laban. Laban observed, “You are my bone and my flesh.” Meaning? they were relatives (12, 15). This meant that Laban would treat Jacob as part of his family and he would have the special privileges associated with being family. It had economic implications for Jacob. Cf. also Abraham and Lot—economic and protection (Gen. 13-14).
- Judges 9:2 – Jerubbaal (Gideon) had 70 sons. One of his sons was the child of his concubine in Shechem, named Abimelech. When Jerubbaal died Abimelech petitioned the men of Shechem to be king over them instead of any of the other 69 sons. He made his appeal by saying, “I am your bone and your flesh.” They favored Abimelech because, “He is our brother (relative)”. So Jerubbaal called for allegiance on the basis of being “your bone and your flesh.” Be loyal to me because we are on the same team – We are family.
- 2 Sam. 5:1-3; 1 Chron. 11:1—After the death of Absalom; David returns to be King. Israel identified themselves as belonging to David. Not everyone in Israel was a personal relative of David or his family. (different tribes) But they were saying, “We are in a special relationship with you. We are together. We are on the same team.”
1) Note that David made a covenant with them. “Before the Lord.” God is called on as a witness to the covenant and violating the covenant called for God’s judgment against the violator. Cf. Heb 13:4 –Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
- 2 Sam. 19:13ff—King David identifies the elders of Judah as “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” and calls them “brothers.” – connected terms They joined forces “as one man.”
- Again the idea is present of family, being on the same side, and being on the same team.
III. This give us insight into Gen. 2:24: Moses says… “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and the shall become one flesh.” For what reason? The statement by Adam… Because “this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
- The Marriage covenant involves a change in primary allegiance. Before they were loyal to their parents, now they are shifting their primary allegiance from father and mother to spouse. Even though it is spoke from a male perspective it applies in both directions.
- The wife and the husband give primary allegiance to each other. They are joined together. They enjoy the special privileges associated with loyalty, economic mingling, protection, and sexual mingling. Just as Abraham took on the responsibility to protect his nephew, Lot, with his own people… because they are family. They are bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.
- There is a focus on belonging to the other. Thus they seek what benefits the other. It is not just about me. It is not about you and me as in a negotiated truce. Tit for tat. “I’ll do this, if you do that.” It is about us. – a single entity – acting as one.
- Eph 5:21-28 – submitting to one another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
- 1 Cor. 7:4 – “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does”.
- Notice the Ephesian 5 text – the level allegiance reaches to the statement – They are one body, one flesh (Eph. 5:28f). – 2. No one ever hated his own flesh. If you destroy her you destroy yourself. If you destroy him you destroy yourself. You do not destroy the people on your team you encourage them.
- So what is wrong with fornication and adultery? “It is just a physical thing”. Heb 13:4 – Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. It is a violation of allegiance. It is a violation of loyalty. A violation of a covenant. Thus God will judge the violator.
- In government it is called treason – It is an aggressive act against one’s own people.
- Perfidy is a form of deception in which one side promises to act in good faith with the intention of breaking the good faith promise. Raising the white flag and then slaughtering the person.
- In spiritual terms it is faithlessness. Mal 2:14 refers to “treacherously” putting away wives.
- It is not just physical sex. God is witness to the covenant and judges those who abandon it (cf. Matt. 19:4-6).
- Consider now the implications regarding our relationship with God.
- Prostitution is a violation (1 Cor. 6:13b-20). We are “bone of Christ’s bone and flesh of Christ’s flesh.” We are his clan, his family (Eph. 2:19). We are loyal to one another. Our allegiance belongs to each other. We are on the same team. To take the body that belongs to Christ and join it with a prostitute is wrong in the worst way.
- Idolatry/adultery is a violation – a violation of an exclusive relationship
- James 4:4 – Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
- Matt 6:24 – 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
- Understand why God prohibited intermarriage between His people and the unbelievers. Why would one want to promise allegiance to one who served some other god? Consider 2 Cor. 6:14ff.
- Becoming one flesh is not just about physical sex. It is about allegiance. It is about loyalty. It is about family. It is about who you are, not just about what you do. Physical sex may be a sign of being one flesh in marriage, but that is not all it is.
Are you in the body of Christ? Are you one flesh with Him?