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What does the Bible mean by “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27)?

male and female He created them
Question: "What does the Bible mean by ‘male and female He created them’ (Genesis 1:27)?"

In Genesis 1:26 recounts God’s stated intention to create humanity. In Genesis 1:27, He accomplishes it and tells the reader that He made man (Hebrew, adam) in His own image and likeness, but the narrative adds that He also created man as male and female. This makes evident the subtle nuance that humanity—called “man” (adam)—was more than the individual human named Adam. While the creation account in Genesis 1 tells us God created man (humanity), the specifics of how He distinguished male and female are found in the next chapter. Genesis 2:7 recounts the creation of Adam. God formed him from the dust of the earth and gave him the breath of life, and Adam became a living being.

After God created Adam, He stated that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone—God had designed humanity to be male and female, and the job wasn’t yet finished. So He showed Adam how other creatures had their opposite-gender counterparts (Genesis 2:19–20) and how none of those were suitable for Adam. Once the need was demonstrated, God put Adam to sleep, removed one of Adam’s ribs (Genesis 2:21), and from that rib fashioned Adam’s female counterpart (Genesis 2:22). When God brought her to Adam, Adam acknowledged that she was of the same nature—recognizing her equality—and yet distinct (Genesis 2:23). That equality, complementarity, and distinctiveness are acknowledged throughout the Bible. For example, Peter would later refer to women as fellow heirs of grace (1 Peter 3:7)

The creation account in Genesis provides the background and basis for gender distinctions, sexuality, and even marriage (see Genesis 2:24). This is particularly timely in an age when there is a great deal of gender confusion and in which gender identity is regularly viewed by many to be optional. God created humanity with two complementary counterparts—male and female—and the binarity of that creative work provides the framework for human relations. Yet the further away from the Designer a society gets, the further away the culture seeks to move from the design.

Many today are struggling to understand who they are and who they are designed to be. For those who are wrestling with uncertainty, we can be encouraged knowing that our Creator has designed us and cares for us even when we lose our way. Where better to look for our definition and our design than the One who defined and designed us? Paul reminds us that we are designed to be His workmanship, born anew in Jesus, and made so that we can fulfill His design for our lives (Ephesians 2:10).

Recommended Resource: Created in God’s Image by Anthony Hoekema

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Related Topics:

Why are there two different Creation accounts in Genesis chapters 1-2?

What happened on each of the days of Creation?

Why did God rest on the seventh day of creation (Genesis 2:2)?

Why did God make man out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7)?

What does it mean when God said, “Let Us make man in Our image” (Genesis 1:26)?

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What does the Bible mean by “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27)?

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