Origin of Gender

From Issue: R&R – July 2021

Considerable discussion has occurred in secular society in the last 50 years concerning gender—from the Feminist Movement of the 1960s to the more recent attention to transgenderism. The Bible speaks very precisely and definitively on the matter of gender. The phenomenon of gender is the result of God’s own divine determination when He created the first human beings on the sixth day of Creation week: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

When God created gender, He clearly intended to set the stage for all of human history. He sought to convey for all time the interrelationship between men and women. In the New Testament, this interrelationship is discussed in considerable detail in 1 Timothy 2 where Paul explains gender roles as they relate to worship. However, Paul also discussed gender in one of his letters to the church at Corinth. His pronouncements on gender are clearly tied to how men and women in the church are to interact with each other. The respective roles of male and female in the church are affected and informed by gender.

Paul’s remarks demonstrate that gender, as it relates to role function in the church, is a matter of Creation—not culture (as some have alleged). He explains the origin of gender as it was instigated by God at Creation:

For man is not from woman, but woman from man…. Nevertheless, neither is man independent of the woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord.  For as the woman was from the man, even so the man also is through the woman; but all things are from God (1 Corinthians 11:8,11-12).

The bolded words represent prepositions in the original language. The term rendered “from” is the Greek preposition ek which means “out of.” The man was not “out of” the woman, but rather, the woman was “out of” the man. He is referring very specifically—and literally—to the origin of the first woman on Earth. Her body was constructed from a portion of the man’s body. Her physical origin was literally dependent on having been taken “out of” the man’s body. No wonder Adam declared: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Genesis 2:23). In Hebrew, the word for man is “ish.” Adam employed a play on words by building on the word for man to indicate a woman: “ish-ah.”

Three verses later, Paul further clarifies gender by stating that though the woman was “from/out of” man, nevertheless, the man is also “through” the woman. Here the Greek preposition is dia meaning “by/through.” Once again, Paul is speaking very literally. All men throughout human history (except for Adam) have come into this world through a woman. Women are the designated child bearers. Men have no reason to consider themselves—or their role—to be superior to women. God intends for the male to fulfill very precise responsibilities in and out of the church, and He likewise has created the female to do the same. Their respective roles are, indeed, rooted in the creation of gender by God at the very beginning of time.1


1 For a discussion of gender roles in the church, see Dave Miller (2014), “Male and Female Roles: Gender in the Bible,” Apologetics Press, /APContent.aspx?category=7&article=5007&topic=389; Dave Miller (2019), Female Leadership in the Church (Montgomery, AL: King Solomon Publications).


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