What Happened on the First Day of Creation? A Study of Genesis 1:1-1:2

The First Day of Creation

The glory of the Bible is that, unlike the writings of other ancient nations which demonstrated a belief that water was the primal material before the existence of any gods, it claims that God was in the beginning and that He created all that is.  Both the Gap theory and a relatively new theory, which posits that the six-day-creation-clock didn’t really start ticking until God uttered the words “Let there be light” in verse three, suggest that the first day didn’t start in verse one but in either verse two or verse three, respectively.  Let us simply analyze, biblically and linguistically, the full range of the key Hebrew words in Genesis 1:1–2 and see what they mean and if they support the idea that a time gap exists in those verses.  (English words for which the Hebrew equivalent is given are italicized.)

 

In the beginning God created (ברא bara) the heavens and the earth (את השׁמים ואת הארץ et hashayim ve’et ha’aretz).  The earth was without form, and void (ובהו תהו tohu vavohu); and darkness was on the face of the deep (תהום tehom). And the Spirit of God was hovering (מרחפת merachefet) over the face of the waters (המים על־פני al pnei hamayim).

 

Bara and Asa

 

The first key word isברא  created (bara) which is used a total of 53 times in the Old Testament.  The basic and majority times used form of the word, which is used in Genesis 1, has the general meaning of create, shape or form.  It has been suggested that the word bara used here in Genesis is a different type of action than the word עשׂה (asa – do, make, fashion or produce) used in Exodus 20:11 where God says that he made the heavens and earth in six days.

 

 Bara and asa are for the most part synonymous with one important distinction between them: bara is used only of God’s actions and never of man’s.  There are countless examples of where man can asa (do or make); however, only God can bara.  There is by implication creation ex nihilo, but the major thrust of the word bara lies in its use by God only and on the initiation of something new.  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) notes concerning asa and its distinction from bara:

 

The word [asa] occurs with great frequency in the Genesis account of creation, which is the first great act of God in history. The significant interchange between the words bara’ “create” and ‘asa is of great interest. The word bara’ carries the thought of the initiation of the object involved. It always connotes what only God can do and frequently emphasizes the absolute newness of the object created. The word ‘asa is much broader in scope, connoting primarily the fashioning of the object with little concern for special nuances.

 

The use of bara’ in the opening statement of the account of creation seems to carry the implication that the physical phenomena came into existence at that time and had no previous existence in the form in which they were created by divine fiat. The use of ‘asa may simply connote the act of fashioning the objects involved in the whole creative process. (TWOT: 1708 asa)

 

As the TWOT notes, the use of asa is a broader term than bara, but we see from the context in which the words are used that they can be used interchangeably to a large extent.  Perhaps the best example is Isaiah 45:18 where God is disparaging those who put their trust in idols rather than in Him, the true God and Creator of all.  Notice that the three words that are used, create, form and make all describe the same event – the creation of the heavens and earth.

 

For thus says the LORD,

Who created (bore בורא) the heavens,

Who is God,

Who formed (yotzer יוצר) the earth and made (oseh עושׂה) it,

Who has established it,

Who did not create (braha בראה) it in vain,

Who formed (yatzarah יצרה) it to be inhabited:

“I am the LORD, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:18)

 

This verse is incredibly specific, especially in regards to the creation of the earth.  First of all, God declares that He is the one who created (bore בורא) the heavens – which could also be translated as Creator of the heavens.  Next He says that He is the former (yotzer יוצר) and the maker (asah עושׂה) of the  earth, a seeming confirmation of the supposed distinction of bara and asa.  However, God continues by saying that He created it, where the word it, is the third person singular feminine possessive suffix.  Put simply, it means that the word it is attached to the word created.  The word it must refer to earth because the earth is a singular feminine noun and heavens is a dual masculine noun.  Clearly and unmistakably God declares that He created, formed, and made the earth.  Thus, to suggest that Exodus 20:11 (“For in six days the LORD made [asa] the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them…”) is not parallel in thought to Genesis 1 is to ignore the evidence in favor of one’s own theory.

 

The Heavens and Earth

 

Thus far verse one has told us the when of creation – in the beginning, and then the how – God created something completely new (bara), which only God can do.  Now we are up to the what, which is of course: the heavens and the earth.  The question before us is understanding what precisely that means since immediately in verse two we are told that the earth was formless and void (תהו ובהו tohu vavohu); the earth must have not been fully complete.  Thus, just what did He create?  What are we to understand by the heavens and the earth?  Did He create them complete or could that term be understood as the material that He would later form, as if He first created the clay and then worked it into a suitable form?

 

The answer to this enigma lies in the fact that there is no single word for universe in Hebrew, which is confirmed by the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “The Hebrews had no proper word for ‘world’ in its wide sense of ‘universe.’ The nearest approach to such a meaning is in the phrase ‘the heavens and the earth.’”[i]  Thus, stating that God created the heavens and the earth is equivalent in our day to saying that He created the universe; it encompasses all that is.[ii]  Bible commentators Keil and Delitzsch note the significance of the first creative act found in the Bible:

 

[…] there is nothing belonging to the composition of the universe, either in material or form, which had an existence out of God prior to this divine act in the beginning (Keil & Delitzsch Genesis 1:2).

 

That is to say, God essentially created the building blocks before beginning construction.  The term the heavens and the earth here might be thought of as the raw material, the elements that God created out of nothing that He would form and fashion later to His liking.  Consider that before God created anything, there was only God.  There was no universe, no vacuum of space, nothing whatsoever.  There was only God.  Thus as part of His creative act, He had to create a dimension that was apart from Him – in which He could further manipulate and form the basic elements according to His will.  Keil & Delitzsch again comment:

 

This is also shown in the connection between our verse and the one which follows: “and the earth was without form and void,” not before, but when, or after God created it. From this it is evident that the void and formless state of the earth was not uncreated, or without beginning. At the same time it is obvious from the creative acts which follow (vv. 3-18), that the heaven and earth, as God created them in the beginning, were not the well-ordered universe, but the world in its elementary form; (Keil & Delitzsch 1866: Genesis 1:1)

 

Tohu Vavohu

 

“The earth was without form, and void (תהו ובהו tohu vavohu)” (Genesis 1:2a)

 

Verse two tells us that the matter God created was still in no particular shape or form.  There was no planet earth as we know it today, but the raw material that God had created, (according to Genesis 1:2b) was still in no special shape.  It was still unformed and unorganized.  These words do not in any way suggest that there had been an earlier creation, as proposed by the Gap Theory.  They do not suggest that the earth was a wasteland waiting to be recreated.  The word tohu in Genesis 1:2, according to the TWOT,

 

refers not to the result of a supposed catastrophe (for which there is no clear biblical evidence) but to the formlessness of the earth before God’s creative hand began the majestic acts described in the following verses. As Jeremiah 4:23 indicates, the earth always has the potential of returning to tohu wabohu if God decides to judge it. (TWOT Tohu)

Furthermore, the text says that the earth “was without form, and void” and not “became without form, and void” as the Gap Theorists argue.[iii]  The Hebrew והארץ היתה vehaaretz hayta is what is known grammatically as a copulative clause.[iv]  The Hebrew letter vav (or waw) attached to the noun (the earth) acts as a type of parenthetical[v] statement that is to suggest a reading: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  (Now the earth was without form, and void.)”  Thus the earth was desolate and void (tohu vavohu) at the very beginning of God’s creation and did not become as a result of God recreating it.

 

Tehom, the Deep

 

The rest of verse 2 seems to indicate that the creation of the heavens and the earth was water.  That is to say, that all of the matter of the universe was comprised of water and that water was formless.

 

…and darkness was on the face of the deep (תהוםtehom). And the Spirit of God was hovering (מרחפת merachefet) over the face of the waters (על־פני המים al panei hamayim). (Genesis 1:2b)

 

The apostle Peter comments on the creation of the world from water, “…that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water” (2 Peter 3:5)

 

It is also interesting to note that several ancient creation myths (cosmologies) had water as the original and eternal substance from which gods subsequently emerged.[vi]  The Bible, of course, demonstrates the superiority of God over His creation since He is the one who made the waters, and not the one emerging from the waters.  These ancient myths, I believe, are a distorted memory of the true creation account in which water was the first substance God created.

 

Tehom accurately describes well the water that was there in the beginning.  It is best translated as deep, depths, or abyss.  According to A. S. Yahuda, a word similar to tehom appears in the ancient language of Akkadian, which has a very similar meaning, thus helping us to better understand its use in the Bible:

 

[…] [tamtu] is conceived in its primordial condition as […] the primeval water as a sea, an ocean, before the earth was created by the heaping up of mud on the shore of this tamtu. (Yahuda 1933: 128)

Physicist Dr. Russel Humphreys, in his book, Starlight and Time, describes his theory based on the observations of this verse, how water might have then been transformed into the other known elements, “…this verse suggested to me that the original material God created, the deep, was pure water, which He then transformed into other materials”[vii] (Humphreys 2004: 72).

 

Merachefet, God’s Energizing of His Creation

 

The last word to analyze is מרחפת (merachefet): “And the Spirit of God was hovering (מרחפת merachefetover the face of the waters (על־פני המים al panei hamayim).” (Genesis 1:2b) The word is also found also in Deuteronomy 32:11[viii] and denotes the fluttering, hovering, or brooding motion of a bird over its nest.

 

As an eagle stirs up its nest,

Hovers (מרחפת merachefet) over its young,

Spreading out its wings, taking them up,

Carrying them on its wings, (Deuteronomy 32:11)


The purpose of the act of brooding by a bird over its nest is to provide warmth and nurturing to its young.  The movement is that of the bird gently shaking and moving its body in fairly small motions.  It also contains the idea of the bird covering its young with its wings, enveloping them in order to bring them to maturity.[ix]

 

It seems that at this point God began to energize the raw material that He made in verse 1.  The oscillation on the face (or surface) of the deep, which is really what the hovering could be compared to, created the movement of the inert elements.  It is interesting that all matter and energy at their core are simply wavelengths; “matter acts as both a particle and as a wave” (Koehler 1996).

 

We saw above that the Hebrew letter vav attached to the front of the word hayta (was) created a type of parenthetical statement.   The fact that מרחפת (merachefet) is a transitive participle substantiates that verse 2 is not a new thought or even the first act of God but a clarification of what came before it in verse 1.

 

God Speaks

 

The sequence of events is that the first thing that God did was to create the heavens (space) and the earth (material) – that is, He created a place or dimension outside of Himself and then the matter to work with, which we are told was without form and empty.  Then God, hovering over the face of the deep, decreed light to exist.  These are the first recorded words of God, but in fact, the third creative act.

 

This view can be strongly defended from the Hebrew grammar.  The typical sequence of a narrative is to start with a verb in the simple past tense[x] (Genesis 1:1 begins with bara – created in the simple past tense) thereby signifying something new or dramatic to the story.   Verse 2 we saw is a parenthetical statement explaining what is meant exactly by the creation of the “earth”.  The action picks up again in verse 3 with the use of a sequential past tense[xi].  The use of a different kind of Hebrew verb marks quite clearly that the writer understood the actions of verse 3 to be a continuation of the previous two verses.  Hebrew expert Dr. Buth notes that this is the normal storytelling construction in biblical Hebrew.

 

The sequential past tense is used to present the next event in the story or the next event in a sentence.  If the writer wants to mark a break in the flow of the story for any reason, then they do not use the sequential past tense.  For a past event they would need to put something other than the verb at the beginning of the sentence and then use a simple past tense (Buth 2005: 52).

 

Not only is verse 3 a continuation of verse 1, but the entire creation account of Genesis 1 uses the sequential past tense.  Consequently, according to the grammar, there is no break between verse 1 and the rest of the chapter.

 

Thus, there is no reason to try to place millions of years between any of the first three verses since they are all part of that first day.  Light was created on the first day, along with the very building blocks necessary for even the light to shine, which was energized by the movement of the Holy Spirit over the face of the deep.  There exists, therefore, no reason to believe that the length of the first day was any different than that of any other, nor was there a previous world that fell only to be recreated, nor was there even a geologic creation some billions of years earlier.  The first three verses of Genesis 1, the first day, all occurred within 24 hours just like the rest of the days as we shall see.


[i] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia “World”

[ii] This is not to overlook the speculation that there may be parallel universes.  However, by definition the word universe should encompass all that exists in the dimension of time and space.

[iii] For further discussion see: Weston W. Fields, (1976) Unformed and Unfilled p. 58.

[iv] For a further discussion on the copulative clause see: Kautzsch and Cowley, Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, p. 484, section 154a, footnote 1.

[v] Joüon, P., & T. Muraoka, (2003; 2005: electronic version, Logos Software) note the use of the copulative clause (also known as the vav explicativum):

On the other hand, a nominal or verbal clause with Waw forms a sort of parenthesis and precedes the main clause as in Gn 13.2 ואברהם כָּבֵד מאד now Abraham was very rich … ; 24.16 now the young girl was very beautiful…; Jon 3.3 now Nineveh was an enormous city; Gn 48.10 וְעֵינֵי ישׂראל כָּֽבְדוּ מִ ֫זֹּקֶן now the eyes of Israel were heavy because of old age; Josh 4.10 “whilst the priests … stood (עֹמְדִים) in the middle of the Jordan … the people hurriedly crossed over (וַיְמַהֲרוּ וַיַּעֲבֹ֫רוּ).” This same type of clause is also found used in an independent fashion: 1Kg 1.1 (at the very beginning of a narrative) now King David was old, advanced in age; Gn 37.3 now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons.

[vi] “In almost all primitive creation stories in Egypt, the eternal substance that existed in the beginning and whose origin is not explained is water, the primeval ocean, Nun.”  (Redford 1992: 398)

[vii] See Humphreys 2000: Appendix C, section 15 for a detailed, mathematical explanation of the physics involved.

He also notes that he based “a theory about the origin of the planetary magnetic fields on the possibility that the earth and other bodies in the solar system were originally created as pure water” (Humphreys 2004: 73).  He remarks that his theory has been extremely successful in predicting measurements of the magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune.

[viii] The word is in the Pa’al form in Jeremiah 23:9.

[ix]Keil and Delitzsch confirm this “The creative Spirit of God, the principle of all life (Psalm 33:6; Psalm 104:30), which worked upon the formless, lifeless mass, separating, quickening, and preparing the living forms, which were called into being by the creative words that followed. רחף in the Piel is applied to the hovering and brooding of a bird over its young, to warm them, and develop their vital powers (Deuteronomy 32:11). In such a way as this the Spirit of God moved upon the deep, which had received at its creation the germs of all life, to fill them with vital energy by His breath of life.” (K&D 1866 Genesis 1:2)

[x] Dr. Randall Buth notes “in telling stories, the past tense is used with a special word order to grammatically signal events as a break in the flow of the story.  It marks a discontinuity.  That is, something is put in front of the verb […]  This is done when the author wants to break the time flow of the story, or when the author wants to mark a boundary of unity […]”  (Buth 2005:52).   There could be no better way to indicate that Genesis 1:1 is an absolutely new and dramatic event than by using the simple past tense (also commonly referred to as the perfect or qatal tense).

[xi] This is commonly known in Hebrew grammar as the vayyiqtol tense.

 

Is Man a Two-Part or Three-Part Being or Both?

Is man a two-part (dichotomous) or three-part (trichotomous) being? Could he in fact be both? Is it possible that God made Adam to be a three-part being but at the fall he became a two part being?

Genesis chapter one gives us the overview of creation, all the way from the creation of space until the pinnacle of God’s creation: Adam. The other creatures, fish, birds, or land animals, the creeping things; all the creatures that God made are lumped together in a few verses. However, the text spends much more time on Adam and in fact, we are told that God said:

Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds God Created Man In His Imageof the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 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).

Genesis chapter two then focuses solely on the creation of Adam and the privileges and responsibilities that God gave him. Concerning his creation, the text elaborates and states that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground. However, that was not all that God did. The text says:

And 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, (Genesis 2:7).

This verse demonstrates that Adam was made (physically, earthly) from the dust (he and we are carbon-based life forms). However, God also breathed into Adam. What we must not miss is that the animals (see Genesis 7:15) also have breath in their lungs but God did not breathe into them. There is something special about the breath that Adam received directly from God. Adam receiving the breath of God is unique and thus he is also spiritual. To put it another way, Adam had a material (physical, earthly) part, that is to say his body, and he also possessed an immaterial (soulish, spiritual, heavenly) side, that is to say his soul or spirit.

Man’s Non-material Makeup

Over the centuries scholars of the Bible have debated whether or not man consists of two parts (dichotomous – “cut in two”) just body and soul/spirit or in three parts (trichotomous – “cut in three”), body, soul and spirit. A. H. Strong in his book, Systematic Theology, articulates the essence of the essential elements of human nature:

Man has a twofold nature,—on the one hand material, on the other hand immaterial. He consists of body, and of spirit, or soul. […]Man is as conscious that his immaterial part is a unity, as that his body is a unity. He knows two, and only two, parts of his being—body and soul.

Strong notes that I Thessalonians 5:23 (“may your whole spirit and soul and body”), which is the principle passage relied upon as supporting the trichotomous view, may be better explained in that “soul and spirit are not two distinct substances or parts, but that they designate the immaterial principle from different points of view.”[i] After all, there are many verses where soul and spirit are used interchangeably. If we are to divide the immaterial make up of man into soul and spirit, then what are we to do with the heart, mind, and conscience? They are also immaterial parts of man that Scripture repeatedly makes reference to. Lastly, there are verses that speak of only two parts of a man, as though it constitutes the whole of his being. The following list demonstrates how soul and spirit are used interchangeably.

  • his spirit was troubled, (Genesis 41:8)
  • my soul is cast down within me, (Psalm 42:6)
  • now is my soul troubled, (John 12:27)
  • he was troubled in the spirit, (John 13:21)
  • give his life [soul – psuekhen ψυχὴν] as a ransom for many, (Matthew 20:28)
  • yielded up his spirit, (Matthew 27:50)
  • And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 emphasis mine)
  • spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12: 23)
  • I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, (Revelation 6:9)

The Place of the Holy Spirit

What we are observing is that man was created as a three part being. God created Adam to be a three part being; the material (body) and immaterial (soul/spirit) were uniquely his and the third part was the “compartment” for the Holy Spirit. At the time of Adam’s creation, God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, actually indwelt Adam. However, when Adam disobeyed God through sin, he lost the Spirit of God that had up until that point indwelt him. Thus he truly began to die physically; corruption (data loss) of his genetic code (on a physical level) began and the spiritual connection that he shared with God was immediately broken. Thus, the Holy Spirit that was to that point dwelling in Adam departed, leaving him spiritually empty and dead; therefore man was left as a two-part being with a “God-shaped hole in his heart” (cf. Pascal). The Holy Spirit is the one who comes and dwells in us when we turn from darkness to light and receive the Lord Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins. Let’s go back to our text and understand how that could be possible.

When God Breathed the First Time

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed [vayipakh וַיִּפַּ֥ח] into his nostrils the breath of life [nishmat khayim חַיִּ֑ים נִשְׁמַ֣ת]; and man became a living soul [l’nephesh khaya לְנֶ֥פֶש חַיָּֽה] (Genesis 2:7).

The obvious feature to note is that God Himself did the breathing. What beautiful imagery: After having created the universe with the stars, sun, moon, animals, vegetation etc., God bent over Adam’s body which he had just formed, (like a potter molds the clay), and breathed into Adam’s nostrils. Both the Hebrew word yatzar (יצר) and the Greek word plasso (πλάσσω) carry the idea of forming or fashioning wax or clay.[ii] This may have taken God but a moment – however, if we consider the fact that God could have created the world and all therein in less than a microsecond but decided to go slowly and create in six whole days, then when it came to the creation of man He would have given the greatest care! In fact, we could envision the Word of God[iii], Jesus the Son, in His preincarnate state[iv], carefully taking the dust (carbon atoms and such) of the earth in His hands, pushing, shaping, and molding Adam as a potter would do. Once Adam looked like God, that is to say he resembled the image (shadow) of God; He then gently leaned over this beautiful but still lifeless formation. Opening His mouth, God breathed deep into the nostrils of Adam and then Adam opened his eyes to see the tender but glorious face of the One who had just made him!

This breath of God animated Adam’s body in a manner similar to the animals in that they also have breath (neshama[v] נשׁמה) in their nostrils. But it was also so much more, for we know that God did not breathe directly into the animals. Thus the breath that God breathed into Adam must have been so much more than the mere animation of the body (spark of life). It was also the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.[vi]

When God Breathed Again

To see evidence of this picture we must fast forward approximately four thousand years to just after the resurrection of Jesus. We find the disciples after the crucifixion behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leadership. Jesus makes a sudden appearance and walks through a wall in his resurrected body. “And when he had said this, he breathed (literally “inbreathed”) [enephusesen ενεφυσησεν] on[vii] them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’” (John 20:22).

The Greek word enephusesen (stem: emphusao εμφυσάωused in the passage above is the same exact word and form of the word that the Greek Septuagint in Genesis 2:7 uses to translate the Hebrew word (vayipakh וַיִּפַּח root naphakh נפח)This correlation is noted in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

This word used only once by the LXX translators in Gen 2:7 where God breathed on Adam and he became a living soul. Just as the original creation was completed by an act of God, so too the new creation, was completed by an act from the Head of the new creation, (Thayer’s εμφυσάω entry).

The same root (emphusao εμφυσάω), though slightly modified, also shows up in Ezekiel 37:9 (37:8 in Greek) and is the same exact Hebrew word as in Genesis 2:7.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath [ruakh הָרוּחַ]; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe [naphakh נפח, Greek εμφυσάω emphusaw] on these slain, that they may live,” (Ezekiel 37:9).

It would truly seem that when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples, He was in fact doing the same thing that He had done to Adam those many thousands of years ago, (the text in Ezekiel 37 will ultimately be fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead – to be discussed in my next book.) Thus, while Adam consisted inherently of two parts, material and immaterial, Jesus Himself breathed not only the life force but also the Holy Spirit; the point at which Adam sinned is when the Spirit departed leaving him all alone. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, appears to document that as well: “Concerning the formation of man, says thus: […] God took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit and a soul. This man was called Adam,” (Josephus Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 1:2, emphasis mine). The notes from the NET Bible also give a hint at this:

The Hebrew word נְשָׁמָה (n’shamah, “breath”) is used for God and for the life imparted to humans, not animals (see T. C. Mitchell, “The Old Testament Usage of N’shama,” VT 11 [1961]: 177-87). Its usage in the Bible conveys more than a breathing living organism (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה, nefesh khayyah). Whatever is given this breath of life becomes animated with the life from God, has spiritual understanding (Job 32:8), and has a functioning conscience (Proverbs 20:27), (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine).

The Targum of Onkelos (Genesis 2:7) also hints at the idea that the Spirit indwelt him: “And the Lord God created Adam from dust of the ground, and breathed upon his face the breath of lives, and it [“the breath of life”] became in Adam a Discoursing Spirit.”

John in his Gospel makes an interesting observation “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified,” (John 7:39). Thus, because Jesus had not yet been crucified and raised from the dead (glorified), no one as of then had received the Holy Spirit. We have seen already that Jesus showed up and inbreathed the Holy Spirit (in) the disciples.

When the Spirit Comes On and Not In

However, just before Jesus ascends to the Father, He tells them “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (επί) you,” (Acts 1:8). We know that the Spirit came upon men of the Old Testament for specific times and purposes. The Spirit came upon Jephthah for a time in order for him to route the Ammonites (Judges 11:29). He came upon Samson (Judges 14:6, 19) to defeat the Philistines but left due to Samson’s sinful life (Judges 16:20). The Spirit also came upon David (1 Samuel 16:13) and others. However, the imparting of the Spirit before Jesus’ death and resurrection was a temporary and transient experience. The Spirit was not actually in the ancient men. He came upon them but not in them; the Lord came upon them for a specific job, but not to indwell.[viii]

Adam a Son of God

Remember that Adam was the only person who was created directly as a son of God. John stated that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, but those who would believe would receive Him. By believing in the name of Jesus one can become a son of God (John 7:39 and 1:12). Thus sons of God today are marked by those who have the Spirit:

  • For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, (Galatians 3:26).
  • You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:15-16).
  • Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, (1 Corinthians 2:12).
  • And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
  • Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, (Romans 8:11).

Paul says that we have become a new creation in Christ. As new creations we are adopted by God becoming sons of God. The down payment of the Holy Spirit is evidence that we are new creations and are now waiting for the “full package” when we get to heaven. Therefore we conclude that the Holy Spirit must have indwelt Adam prior to his fall because he was classified as a Son of God. We are sons of God because we are direct creations of God “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation,” (Galatians 6:15). We share that feature with the angels, whom we shall be like in heaven. However, God did not form them from the earth, nor did He breathe into the angels and so we possess something that sets us apart from them as far as being sons of God is concerned. The work of the cross was the correction of what had been lost 4000 years before. The Spirit was breathed into Adam, the first (earthly) son of God, he lost it, and now the Spirit dwells in the sons of God who we have become by believing in Jesus’ name. The Spirit is the guarantee or down payment of what is coming.


[i] Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology, 1893, 243.

[ii] πλάσσω Thayer’s Greek Lexicon of the New Testament.

[iii] According to the Targumim, one called the Memra [word], who was in the beginning with God creating with Him. According to the Jerusalem Targum the Word created man. “And the Word [Memra] of the Lord created man in His likeness, in the likeness of the presence of the Lord He created him, the male and his yoke-fellow He created them,” (Targum Jerusalem, Genesis 1:27).

[iv] “For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son?” (Theophilus, To Autolycus. Book 2, ch 13-30 Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2).

[v] “Human life is described here as consisting of a body (made from soil from the ground) and breath (given by God). Both animals and humans are called “a living being” (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה) but humankind became that in a different and more significant way. The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “being”) is often translated “soul,” but the word usually refers to the whole person. The phraseנֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה  (nefesh khayyah, “living being”) is used of both animals and human beings (see 1:20, 24, 30; 2:19),” (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7).

[vi] See also: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men,” (John 1:4); “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will,” (John 5:21); “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,” (John 5:26); “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit,” (1 Corinthians 15:45); “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life,” (1 John 5:12).

[vii] In the Greek text enephusesen (ενεφυσησεν) is followed by the dative which is complementary to the word en εν which follows the Hebrew in Genesis 2:7 extremely well.

[viii] Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again, (Numbers 11:25, emphasis mine). But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon (Judges 6:34 emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, (Judges 11:29 emphasis mine). And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart (Judges 14:6 Emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, (Judges 14:19 emphasis mine).

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed […] and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David, (1 Samuel 16:13 emphasis mine). See also: Judges 3:10; 15:14; 2 Chronicles 20:14; 24:20.

Is Man a Two-Part or Three-Part Being or Both?

Genesis chapter one gives us the overview of creation, all the way from the creation of space until the pinnacle of God’s creation: Adam. The other creatures, fish, birds, or land animals, the creeping things; all the creatures that God made are lumped together in a few verses. However, the text spends much more time on Adam and in fact, we are told that God said:

Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds God Created Man In His Imageof the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 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).

Genesis chapter two then focuses solely on the creation of Adam and the privileges and responsibilities that God gave him. Concerning his creation, the text elaborates and states that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground. However, that was not all that God did. The text says:

And 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, (Genesis 2:7).

This verse demonstrates that Adam was made (physically, earthly) from the dust (he and we are carbon-based life forms). However, God also breathed into Adam. What we must not miss is that the animals (see Genesis 7:15) also have breath in their lungs but God did not breathe into them. There is something special about the breath that Adam received directly from God. Adam receiving the breath of God is unique and thus he is also spiritual. To put it another way, Adam had a material (physical, earthly) part, that is to say his body, and he also possessed an immaterial (soulish, spiritual, heavenly) side, that is to say his soul or spirit.

Man’s Non-material Makeup

Over the centuries scholars of the Bible have debated whether or not man consists of two parts (dichotomous – “cut in two”) just body and soul/spirit or in three parts (trichotomous – “cut in three”), body, soul and spirit. A. H. Strong in his book, Systematic Theology, articulates the essence of the essential elements of human nature:

Man has a twofold nature,—on the one hand material, on the other hand immaterial. He consists of body, and of spirit, or soul. […]Man is as conscious that his immaterial part is a unity, as that his body is a unity. He knows two, and only two, parts of his being—body and soul.

Strong notes that I Thessalonians 5:23 (“may your whole spirit and soul and body”), which is the principle passage relied upon as supporting the trichotomous view, may be better explained in that “soul and spirit are not two distinct substances or parts, but that they designate the immaterial principle from different points of view.”[i] After all, there are many verses where soul and spirit are used interchangeably. If we are to divide the immaterial make up of man into soul and spirit, then what are we to do with the heart, mind, and conscience? They are also immaterial parts of man that Scripture repeatedly makes reference to. Lastly, there are verses that speak of only two parts of a man, as though it constitutes the whole of his being. The following list demonstrates how soul and spirit are used interchangeably.

  • his spirit was troubled, (Genesis 41:8)
  • my soul is cast down within me, (Psalm 42:6)
  • now is my soul troubled, (John 12:27)
  • he was troubled in the spirit, (John 13:21)
  • give his life [soulpsuekhen ψυχὴν] as a ransom for many, (Matthew 20:28)
  • yielded up his spirit, (Matthew 27:50)
  • And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 emphasis mine)
  • spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12: 23)
  • I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, (Revelation 6:9)

The Place of the Holy Spirit

What we are observing is that man was created as a three part being. God created Adam to be a three part being; the material (body) and immaterial (soul/spirit) were uniquely his and the third part was the “compartment” for the Holy Spirit. At the time of Adam’s creation, God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, actually indwelt Adam. However, when Adam disobeyed God through sin, he lost the Spirit of God that had up until that point indwelt him. Thus he truly began to die physically; corruption (data loss) of his genetic code (on a physical level) began and the spiritual connection that he shared with God was immediately broken. Thus, the Holy Spirit that was to that point dwelling in Adam departed, leaving him spiritually empty and dead; therefore man was left as a two-part being with a “God-shaped hole in his heart” (cf. Pascal). The Holy Spirit is the one who comes and dwells in us when we turn from darkness to light and receive the Lord Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins. Let’s go back to our text and understand how that could be possible.

When God Breathed the First Time

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed [vayipakh וַיִּפַּ֥ח] into his nostrils the breath of life [nishmat khayim חַיִּ֑ים נִשְׁמַ֣ת]; and man became a living soul [l’nephesh khaya לְנֶ֥פֶש חַיָּֽה] (Genesis 2:7).

The obvious feature to note is that God Himself did the breathing. What beautiful imagery: After having created the universe with the stars, sun, moon, animals, vegetation etc., God bent over Adam’s body which he had just formed, (like a potter molds the clay), and breathed into Adam’s nostrils. Both the Hebrew word yatzar (יצר) and the Greek word plasso (πλάσσω) carry the idea of forming or fashioning wax or clay.[ii] This may have taken God but a moment – however, if we consider the fact that God could have created the world and all therein in less than a microsecond but decided to go slowly and create in six whole days, then when it came to the creation of man He would have given the greatest care! In fact, we could envision the Word of God[iii], Jesus the Son, in His preincarnate state[iv], carefully taking the dust (carbon atoms and such) of the earth in His hands, pushing, shaping, and molding Adam as a potter would do. Once Adam looked like God, that is to say he resembled the image (shadow) of God; He then gently leaned over this beautiful but still lifeless formation. Opening His mouth, God breathed deep into the nostrils of Adam and then Adam opened his eyes to see the tender but glorious face of the One who had just made him!

This breath of God animated Adam’s body in a manner similar to the animals in that they also have breath (neshama[v] נשׁמה) in their nostrils. But it was also so much more, for we know that God did not breathe directly into the animals. Thus the breath that God breathed into Adam must have been so much more than the mere animation of the body (spark of life). It was also the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.[vi]

When God Breathed Again

To see evidence of this picture we must fast forward approximately four thousand years to just after the resurrection of Jesus. We find the disciples after the crucifixion behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leadership. Jesus makes a sudden appearance and walks through a wall in his resurrected body. “And when he had said this, he breathed (literally “inbreathed”) [enephusesen ενεφυσησεν] on[vii] them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’” (John 20:22).

The Greek word enephusesen (stem: emphusao εμφυσάω) used in the passage above is the same exact word and form of the word that the Greek Septuagint in Genesis 2:7 uses to translate the Hebrew word (vayipakh וַיִּפַּח root naphakh נפח). This correlation is noted in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:

This word used only once by the LXX translators in Gen 2:7 where God breathed on Adam and he became a living soul. Just as the original creation was completed by an act of God, so too the new creation, was completed by an act from the Head of the new creation, (Thayer’s εμφυσάω entry).

The same root (emphusao εμφυσάω), though slightly modified, also shows up in Ezekiel 37:9 (37:8 in Greek) and is the same exact Hebrew word as in Genesis 2:7.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath [ruakh הָרוּחַ]; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe [naphakh נפח, Greek εμφυσάω emphusaw] on these slain, that they may live,” (Ezekiel 37:9).

It would truly seem that when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples, He was in fact doing the same thing that He had done to Adam those many thousands of years ago, (the text in Ezekiel 37 will ultimately be fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead – to be discussed in my next book.) Thus, while Adam consisted inherently of two parts, material and immaterial, Jesus Himself breathed not only the life force but also the Holy Spirit; the point at which Adam sinned is when the Spirit departed leaving him all alone. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, appears to document that as well: “Concerning the formation of man, says thus: […] God took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit and a soul. This man was called Adam,” (Josephus Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 1:2, emphasis mine). The notes from the NET Bible also give a hint at this:

The Hebrew word נְשָׁמָה (n’shamah, “breath”) is used for God and for the life imparted to humans, not animals (see T. C. Mitchell, “The Old Testament Usage of N’shama,” VT 11 [1961]: 177-87). Its usage in the Bible conveys more than a breathing living organism (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה, nefesh khayyah). Whatever is given this breath of life becomes animated with the life from God, has spiritual understanding (Job 32:8), and has a functioning conscience (Proverbs 20:27), (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine).

The Targum of Onkelos (Genesis 2:7) also hints at the idea that the Spirit indwelt him: “And the Lord God created Adam from dust of the ground, and breathed upon his face the breath of lives, and it [“the breath of life”] became in Adam a Discoursing Spirit.”

John in his Gospel makes an interesting observation “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified,” (John 7:39). Thus, because Jesus had not yet been crucified and raised from the dead (glorified), no one as of then had received the Holy Spirit. We have seen already that Jesus showed up and inbreathed the Holy Spirit (in) the disciples.

When the Spirit Comes On and Not In

However, just before Jesus ascends to the Father, He tells them “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (επί) you,” (Acts 1:8). We know that the Spirit came upon men of the Old Testament for specific times and purposes. The Spirit came upon Jephthah for a time in order for him to route the Ammonites (Judges 11:29). He came upon Samson (Judges 14:6, 19) to defeat the Philistines but left due to Samson’s sinful life (Judges 16:20). The Spirit also came upon David (1 Samuel 16:13) and others. However, the imparting of the Spirit before Jesus’ death and resurrection was a temporary and transient experience. The Spirit was not actually in the ancient men. He came upon them but not in them; the Lord came upon them for a specific job, but not to indwell.[viii]

Adam a Son of God

Remember that Adam was the only person who was created directly as a son of God. John stated that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, but those who would believe would receive Him. By believing in the name of Jesus one can become a son of God (John 7:39 and 1:12). Thus sons of God today are marked by those who have the Spirit:

  • For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, (Galatians 3:26).
  • You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:15-16).
  • Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, (1 Corinthians 2:12).
  • And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
  • Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, (Romans 8:11).

Paul says that we have become a new creation in Christ. As new creations we are adopted by God becoming sons of God. The down payment of the Holy Spirit is evidence that we are new creations and are now waiting for the “full package” when we get to heaven. Therefore we conclude that the Holy Spirit must have indwelt Adam prior to his fall because he was classified as a Son of God. We are sons of God because we are direct creations of God “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation,” (Galatians 6:15). We share that feature with the angels, whom we shall be like in heaven. However, God did not form them from the earth, nor did He breathe into the angels and so we possess something that sets us apart from them as far as being sons of God is concerned. The work of the cross was the correction of what had been lost 4000 years before. The Spirit was breathed into Adam, the first (earthly) son of God, he lost it, and now the Spirit dwells in the sons of God who we have become by believing in Jesus’ name. The Spirit is the guarantee or down payment of what is coming.


[i] Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology, 1893, 243.

[ii] πλάσσω Thayer’s Greek Lexicon of the New Testament.

[iii] According to the Targumim, one called the Memra [word], who was in the beginning with God creating with Him. According to the Jerusalem Targum the Word created man. “And the Word [Memra] of the Lord created man in His likeness, in the likeness of the presence of the Lord He created him, the male and his yoke-fellow He created them,” (Targum Jerusalem, Genesis 1:27).

[iv] “For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice. But what else is this voice but the Word of God, who is also His Son?” (Theophilus, To Autolycus. Book 2, ch 13-30 Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2).

[v] “Human life is described here as consisting of a body (made from soil from the ground) and breath (given by God). Both animals and humans are called “a living being” (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה) but humankind became that in a different and more significant way. The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “being”) is often translated “soul,” but the word usually refers to the whole person. The phraseנֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה  (nefesh khayyah, “living being”) is used of both animals and human beings (see 1:20, 24, 30; 2:19),” (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7).

[vi] See also: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men,” (John 1:4); “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will,” (John 5:21); “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself,” (John 5:26); “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit,” (1 Corinthians 15:45); “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life,” (1 John 5:12).

[vii] In the Greek text enephusesen (ενεφυσησεν) is followed by the dative which is complementary to the word en εν which follows the Hebrew in Genesis 2:7 extremely well.

[viii] Then the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and placed the same upon the seventy elders; and it happened, when the Spirit rested upon them, that they prophesied, although they never did so again, (Numbers 11:25, emphasis mine). But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon (Judges 6:34 emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, (Judges 11:29 emphasis mine). And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart (Judges 14:6 Emphasis mine). Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, (Judges 14:19 emphasis mine).

Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed […] and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David, (1 Samuel 16:13 emphasis mine). See also: Judges 3:10; 15:14; 2 Chronicles 20:14; 24:20.

The Spirit of God in Adam

(Appendix to Corrupting the Image. Footnotes in final edition of the book)

Genesis chapter one gives us the overview of creation, all the way from the creation of space until the pinnacle of God’s creation: Adam. The other creatures, fish, birds, or land animals, the creeping things; all the creatures that God made are lumped together in a few verses. However, the text spends much more time on Adam and in fact, we are told that God said:

“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 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).

Genesis chapter two then focuses solely on the creation of Adam and the privileges and responsibilities that God gave him. Concerning his creation, the text elaborates and states that God formed Adam from the dust of the ground. However, that was not all that God did. The text says:

And 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, (Genesis 2:7).

This verse demonstrates that Adam was made (physically, earthly) from the dust (he and we are carbon-based life forms). However, God also breathed into Adam. What we must not miss is that the animals (see Genesis 7:15) also have breath in their lungs but God did not breathe into them. There is something special about the breath that Adam received directly from God. Adam receiving the breath of God is unique and thus he is also spiritual. To put it another way, Adam had a material (physical, earthly) part, that is to say his body, and he also possessed an immaterial (soulish, spiritual, heavenly) side, that is to say his soul or spirit.

Man’s Non-material Makeup

Over the centuries scholars of the Bible have debated whether or not man consists of two parts (dichotomous – “cut in two”) just body and soul/spirit or in three parts (trichotomous – “cut in three”), body, soul and spirit. A. H. Strong in his book, Systematic Theology, articulates the essence of the essential elements of human nature:

Man has a twofold nature,—on the one hand material, on the other hand immaterial. He consists of body, and of spirit, or soul. […]Man is as conscious that his immaterial part is a unity, as that his body is a unity. He knows two, and only two, parts of his being—body and soul.

Strong notes that I Thessalonians 5:23 (“may your whole spirit and soul and body”), which is the principle passage relied upon as supporting the trichotomous view, may be better explained in that “soul and spirit are not two distinct substances or parts, but that they designate the immaterial principle from different points of view.” [i] After all, there are many verses where soul and spirit are used interchangeably. If we are to divide the immaterial make up of man into soul and spirit, then what are we to do with the heart, mind and conscience? They are also immaterial parts of man that Scripture repeatedly makes reference to. Lastly, there are verses that speak of only two parts of a man, as though it constitutes the whole of his being. The following list demonstrates how soul and spirit are used interchangeably.

  • his spirit was troubled, (Genesis 41:8)
  • my soul is cast down within me, (Psalm 42:6)
  • now is my soul troubled, (John 12:27)
  • he was troubled in the spirit, (John 13:21)
  • give his life [soulpsuekhen ψυχὴν] as a ransom for many, (Matthew 20:28)
  • yielded up his spirit, (Matthew 27:50)
  • And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 emphasis mine)
  • spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12: 23)
  • I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, (Revelation 6:9)

The Place of the Holy Spirit

What we are observing is that man was created as a three part being. God created Adam to be a three part being; the material (body) and immaterial (soul/spirit) were uniquely his and the third part was the “compartment” for the Holy Spirit. At the time of Adam’s creation, God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, actually indwelt Adam. However, when Adam disobeyed God through sin, he lost the Spirit of God that had up until that point indwelt him. Thus he truly began to die physically; corruption (data loss) of his genetic code (on a physical level) began and the spiritual connection that he shared with God was immediately broken. Thus, the Holy Spirit that was to that point dwelling in Adam departed, leaving him spiritually empty and dead; therefore man was left as a two-part being with a “God-shaped hole in his heart” (cf. Pascal). The Holy Spirit is the one who comes and dwells in us when we turn from darkness to light and receive the Lord Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins. Let’s go back to our text and understand how that could be possible.

When God Breathed the First Time

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed [vayipakh וַיִּפַּ֥ח] into his nostrils the breath of life [nishmat khayim חַיִּ֑ים נִשְׁמַ֣ת]; and man became a living soul [l’nephesh khaya לְנֶ֥פֶש חַיָּֽה] (Genesis 2:7).

The obvious feature to note is that God Himself did the breathing. What beautiful imagery: After having created the universe with the stars, sun, moon, animals, vegetation etc., God bent over Adam’s body which he had just formed, (like a potter molds the clay), and breathed into Adam’s nostrils. Both the Hebrew word yatzar (יצר) and the Greek word plasso (πλάσσω) carry the idea of forming or fashioning wax or clay. [ii] This may have taken God but a moment – however, if we consider the fact that God could have created the world and all therein in less than a microsecond but decided to go slowly and create in six whole days, then when it came to the creation of man He would have given the greatest care! In fact, we could envision the Word of God [iii], Jesus the Son, in His preincarnate state [iv], carefully taking the dust (carbon atoms and such) of the earth in His hands, pushing, shaping and molding Adam as a potter would do. Once Adam looked like God, that is to say he resembled the image (shadow) of God, He then gently leaned over this beautiful but still lifeless formation. Opening His mouth, God breathed deep into the nostrils of Adam and then Adam opened his eyes to see the tender but glorious face of the One who had just made him!

This breath of God animated Adam’s body in a manner similar to the animals in that they also have breath (neshama [v] נשׁמה) in their nostrils. But it was also so much more, for we know that God did not breathe directly into the animals. Thus the breath that God breathed into Adam must have been so much more than the mere animation of the body (spark of life). It was also the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. [vi]

When God Breathed Again

To see evidence of this picture we must fast forward approximately four thousand years to just after the resurrection of Jesus. We find the disciples after the crucifixion behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leadership. Jesus makes a sudden appearance and walks through a wall in his resurrected body. “And when he had said this, he breathed (literally “inbreathed”) [enephusesen ενεφυσησεν] on [vii] them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit,’” (John 20:22).

The Greek word enephusesen (stem: emphusao ἐμφυσάω) used in the passage above is the same exact word and form of the word that the Greek Septuagint in Genesis 2:7 uses to translate the Hebrew word (vayipakh וַיִּפַּח root naphakh נפח). This correlation is noted in Thayers Greek Lexicon:

This word used only once by the LXX translators in Gen 2:7 where God breathed on Adam and he became a living soul. Just as the original creation was completed by an act of God, so too the new creation was completed by an act from the Head of the new creation, (Thayer’s ἐμφυσάω entry).

The same root (emphusao ἐμφυσάω), though slightly modified, also shows up in Ezekiel 37:9 (37:8 in Greek) and is the same exact Hebrew word as in Genesis 2:7.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath [ruakh הָרוּחַ]; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe [naphakh נפח, Greek ἐμφυσάω emphusaw] on these slain, that they may live,” (Ezekiel 37:9).

It would truly seem that when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the disciples, He was in fact doing the same thing that He had done to Adam those many thousands of years ago, (the text in Ezekiel 37 will ultimately be fulfilled in the resurrection of the dead – to be discussed in my next book.) Thus, while Adam consisted inherently of two parts, material and immaterial, Jesus Himself breathed not only the life force but also the Holy Spirit; the point at which Adam sinned is when the Spirit departed leaving him all alone. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, appears to document that as well: “Concerning the formation of man, says thus: […] God took dust from the ground, and formed man, and inserted in him a spirit and a soul. This man was called Adam,” (Josephus Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 1:2, emphasis mine). The notes from the NET Bible also give a hint at this:

The Hebrew word נְשָׁמָה (n’shamah, “breath”) is used for God and for the life imparted to humans, not animals (see T. C. Mitchell, “The Old Testament Usage of N’shama,” VT 11 [1961]: 177-87). Its usage in the Bible conveys more than a breathing living organism (נֶפֶשׁ חַיַּה, nefesh khayyah). Whatever is given this breath of life becomes animated with the life from God, has spiritual understanding (Job 32:8), and has a functioning conscience (Proverbs 20:27), (NET Bible Notes Genesis 2:7, emphasis mine).

The Targum of Onkelos (Genesis 2:7) also hints at the idea that the Spirit indwelt him: “And the Lord God created Adam from dust of the ground, and breathed upon his face the breath of lives, and it [“the breath of life”] became in Adam a Discoursing Spirit.”

John in his Gospel makes an interesting observation “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified,” (John 7:39). Thus, because Jesus had not yet been crucified and risen from the dead (glorified), no one as of then had received the Holy Spirit. We have seen already that Jesus showed up and inbreathed the Holy Spirit (in) the disciples.

When the Spirit Comes On and Not In

However, just before Jesus ascends to the Father, He tells them “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon (ἐπί) you,” (Acts 1:8). We know that the Spirit came upon men of the Tanakh (Old Testament) for specific times and purposes. The Spirit came upon Jephthah for a time in order for him to route the Ammonites (Judges 11:29). He came upon Samson (Judges 14:6, 19) to defeat the Philistines but left due to Samson’s sinful life (Judges 16:20). The Spirit also came upon David (1 Samuel 16:13) and others. However, the imparting of the Spirit before Jesus’ death and resurrection was a temporary and transient experience. The Spirit was not actually in the ancient men. He came upon them but not in them; the Lord came upon them for a specific job, but not to indwell. [viii]

Adam a Son of God

Remember that Adam was the only person who was created directly as a son of God. John stated that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, but those who would believe would receive Him. By believing in the name of Jesus one can become a son of God (John 7:39 and 1:12). Thus sons of God today are marked by those who have the Spirit:

  • For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, (Galatians 3:26).
  • You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (Romans 8:15-16).
  • Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, (1 Corinthians 2:12).
  • And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6).
  • Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you, (Romans 8:11).

Paul says that we have become a new creation in Christ. As new creations we are adopted by God becoming sons of God. The down payment of the Holy Spirit is evidence that we are new creations and are now waiting for the “full package” when we get to heaven. Therefore we conclude that the Holy Spirit must have indwelt Adam prior to his fall because he was classified as a Son of God. We are sons of God because we are direct creations of God “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” (2 Corinthians 5:17). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation,” (Galatians 6:15). We share that feature with the angels, whom we shall be like in heaven. However, God did not form them from the earth, nor did He breathe into the angels and so we possess something that sets us apart from them as far as being sons of God is concerned.

The work of the cross was the correction of what had been lost 4000 years before. The Spirit was breathed into Adam, the first (earthly) son of God, he lost it and now the Spirit dwells in the sons of God who we have become by believing in Jesus’ name. The Spirit is the guarantee or down payment of what is coming. The other thing that Adam apparently lost and we shall gain is a covering of light.


A Narrative of Adam’s Creation and Fall

Author’s Note: The following vignette is the essence of part one of Corrupting the Image in a narrative form at, (all points of the narrative are proven in the chapters of Corrupting the Image!)

“Adam, where are you?” Adam could hear the voice of the one who not long ago created him and his wife Eve. Adam found himself out of breath and a strange sense of terror flooded his body at hearing that voice – the voice that once had only brought him tremendous delight.

Adam could remember well that first moment when he opened his eyes and beheld the very one who had taken the dust of the ground and with His own hands had formed him and then breathed His Spirit into him. The beauty of God’s face was indescribable. The glorious light radiated off of His face onto the visage of the newly formed man. His eyes seemed to go on forever and spoke of the depth of love that God had for him. Even though Adam had just taken the first few breaths of his life, he understood the tender care that his Father had for him. Adam could see that God’s eyes gleamed for him, his son.

That sixth day of creation – the day when God created Adam in His own image and His likeness – the day when Adam first gazed at his Creator – oh how sweet and wonderful it was! God had provided everything for him: trees, shade, delicious food and a beautiful garden. God brought the animals to Adam, which He had created hours before making Adam who then named them. However, there was none like him and then his Father did something most wonderful. He caused him to fall into a deep, deep sleep, removed one of his ribs and then with the marrow of the bone took the building blocks, the base of who Adam was to the core, and formed one like Adam, but different – a complement to who Adam was. She was perfectly suited for Adam and Adam loved her.

His heart was racing and his hands were shaking as he tried to sew the vine through the leaves to make coverings for Eve and himself. With just a few more knots his new covering would be ready. The fig leaves were nothing like what they had had but they would at least provide something to cover them. The moment that they had eaten the fruit the light which had until then emitted out of their bodies was suddenly gone. The serpent said they wouldn’t die but that eating from the tree would simply make them like God. The words made sense at first. After all, God created everything and said that it was good. That tree was part of the creation which God had made. It was even in the middle of the Garden. The knowledge of good and evil was clearly something that God desired man to have, yet if they ate from the tree God said they would surely die. The fruit had appeared so luscious and by eating it they would gain the knowledge of good and evil and be like God.

Adam hurriedly placed the makeshift coverings of fig leaves on himself and Eve. What had happened? Where was the light that once clothed them? What would God say once He saw them? How would he explain? Their eyes certainly were opened and now he realized that they had been deceived. The serpent promised them to become like God when they already were! They had been clothed in light like God. They had been filled with the Spirit of God. Now those things were lost. Could they be regained? Adam now understood the point of the tree was simply a choice; to choose either to follow God, which was good, or to disobey and choose the evil. Either of those two options would make them like God more fully. He could have just resisted the tempting of the serpent and become like God as well and have retained what God had given him: the light and His Spirit. Choosing to obey God would have opened his eyes as well and made him like God without the guilt because he would have made a choice, but for the good. Adam now understood what it was to choose the good and follow God’s commandment – that was what had been required of him – but now it was too late – oh it was too late! He had made the wrong choice! He considered that he had indeed gained the knowledge of good and evil. Oh had he chosen to obey and been proven and remained alive forever. But now – death! He wiped the moisture away from his forehead. Already he could feel his body in ways that he had never felt before. Was this death?

God was walking his way as he did every day. Adam could see Him getting closer and would soon no longer be able to hide. In a frightened tone Adam called out in response to God’s question: “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” God’s gentle voice became inquisitive as if He were probing. “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Adam thought quickly of what to say. What could he say to the one who loved him? How could Adam explain this betrayal, this unfaithfulness?

His eyes quickly glanced at the woman as she too stood motionless and pale. “The woman whom you gave to be with me,” he said sensing that he was betraying her as well, “she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” It worked, or so it seemed, for the Lord God, now standing in front of them, turned his face to the woman and asked with what sounded like a broken heart, “What is this that you have done?” Adam looked at his frightened wife whom he had exposed who pointed her finger to the serpent who was still present in the Garden and said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Adam then noted a definitive change in God’s countenance. In fact, he had never seen this side of God. Until today Adam had only known God to be loving and tender. But now with a voice of judgment, He declared to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

” God’s words were good and brought a measure of comfort. There might be hope for Adam and his wife after all. Adam mused on the words even though he didn’t fully understand all that they entailed.

Shortly after this time of judgment, God did something much unexpected. He took one of the animals, which Adam had named, and then killed it! Oh, how immediate death was and dreadful. Why did that animal, which had done nothing wrong need to die? After all, Adam thought, he was the one that had disobeyed God, not the animal. God then removed the skin from it, cleaned it of the blood and then placed it on him and his wife Eve. The skin of the animal would be instead of the raiment of light which they lost. How pathetic it was in comparison to what they had! Adam longed for the day when the promised one, the Seed of the Woman would come and destroy the serpent that had beguiled them and restore what they had lost; God’s spirit, and the glorious light that flowed from them. Adam sighed, and thought of the day when this state called death, which now ensnared them, would be removed. How would the Promised One remove the corruption that touched every fiber of their being? How would He be from the woman’s seed and yet have the power to restore them? To be free of that was his heart’s desire. Oh for the day when the promised One would come!

Upon hearing the sentence Satan began to plot his scheme to overcome the prophecy. Satan too would provide a savior for mankind but in his own image and not God’s and perhaps if he could destroy the image of God, in the process his own destruction would be averted.

Click here to read The Master Image (chapter one of the upcoming book)