What was the “breath of life” that Adam and Eve received?

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

In Genesis 1:27 the Hebrew word for “created” is bara’.  Bara’ is only used three times in Genesis chapter 1.  An act of bara’ creation is supernatural, it occurs when God creates something out of nothing, something brand new, something that has never existed before.

Making the physical bodies of Adam and Eve was an act of asah creation; He made their bodies with pre-existing materials:  the matter, the elements, He had bara’ created in verse 1.

So, what was the act of bara’creation in verse 27?  Genesis 2 sheds some light on the matter.

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

God bara’ created Adam and Eve to contain the breath of life.  And what does the original Hebrew language reveal about the breath of life?  Well, I am no Hebrew scholar, but my pastor is, and he has carefully studied the book of Genesis in its original language.

When God created Adam and Eve, He created them in His image, but He created them to be spiritually alive.  He breathed within them the breath of life, and they became a living being.  The construction for those words “the breath of life” is the Nishmat chaim; which is a specific construction for the very Holy Spirit of God. (Aaron Budjen; November 16, 2008; By Grace Fellowship)

Apparently, this is a controversial issue.  Perhaps it is because many Christians have not been introduced to the concept.  The quote above is by Aaron Budjen, and I am writing this blog to introduce you to him, a fellow brother, a friend of my family, and our pastor.

Aaron is a well-known expert in Hebrew grammar throughout Orthodox Jewish Synagogues from CA to NY, he was a teacher of Hebrew for seven years, and a consultant to professors of Biblical Hebrew.  Aaron got saved while studying to become a Rabbi, and is the pastor of By Grace Fellowship in Denver, CO.  Aaron is also the founder of the radio broadcast ministry, Living God Ministries, and can be heard on AM radio across the USA.

Again, I don’t want you to take my word for it; so please listen to Aaron.  In the following portion of a message he gave at By Grace Fellowship (transcribed from an audio recording), Aaron explains the correct meaning of the “breath of life.”

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Aaron Budjen/ November 16, 2008 / Colossians 1:18-22 / Published by Restoration Bible Fellowship

Colossians chapter 1 verse 18, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

The Lord Jesus is the firstborn from the dead. The people in this world are the dead. All right? He is the firstborn from among the dead.

When a person is born into this world they are born spiritually dead; that’s the important thing to understand.  When a person is born in the flesh – they are born of their mother and out of their mother’s womb – they are born dead; they are not born alive.

When you look at them you think, “Gosh, there seems to be a lot of life in them.  They’re crying; they need their diapers changed; they need a bottle, stuff like that,” and you think, “Well, gosh, they seem to be perfectly alive to me?” And in that sense, they certainly are; they are very much physically alive, but they are spiritually dead. And what that means is that they do not have life. 

A basic definition of death is the absence of life.  When somebody dies you don’t check to see if you have the presence of death, you check to see if you have the absence of life.  If there is no indication that a person is alive, then they’re dead, and you pronounce them to be so.

So likewise, when we are born into this world we are born without life, and the life that we do not have is the very life of our God.  We do not have Him indwelling within us; His Spirit indwelling within us which is the very life of God.  In other words, we were created for the sole purpose of having the presence of our Creator indwelling within us, and that was expressed as having the life of God indwelling within you.  That’s how we were created.

When God created Adam and Eve, He created them in His image, but He created them to be spiritually alive.  He breathed within them the breath of life, and they became a living being.  The construction for those words “the breath of life” is the Nishmat chaim*; which is a specific construction for the very Holy Spirit of God.

When you keep reading there is a similar passage that talks about the breath of life that was breathed within animals, but it is a different construction, it’s just ever so subtle, but it’s different enough to be able to distinguish between the pneumatic life, from a Greek point of view – that which gives a person the ability to walk and talk and breath – from the spiritual life which is the very life of the indwelling Creator.  When He gave the commandment that in the day that you eat from the wrong tree you will die, He was referring to the life that He had breathed within them that they would lose.

Now, if you don’t understand this, you might as well just pack up and go.  It’s just over.  It really is.  You may believe that there is a God somewhere out there.  Fine.  You may have a new way of living.  That’s ok. But in terms of knowing your God, if you don’t understand the nature of the problem, then when the solution is presented it is not going to have any meaning at all.  And in terms of growth, and your life in Christ, it’s not going to mean anything because you’re still going to be dead.  Okay?

So understand that the original creation was such that God had breathed within Adam and Eve the breath of life, which was His very Spirit within them.  And then in accordance with the law of sin and death, when they violated the law and ate from the wrong tree, that life was withdrawn from within them and they became spiritually dead.  They were once spiritually alive, and then they became spiritually dead.  And all of those who had been born in Adam and Eve subsequently from that point were born spiritually dead in the image of Adam, not in the image of God.  That’s the bad news.

And it’s important to understand the bad news. It’s like mathematics, if you don’t understand that the question is 2+2 it’s not going to make much of a difference if you hear the word “four.”   I can go walking around saying “Four! Four!”  People are wondering, “What does that mean?  I don’t know that it’s the answer to 2+2.” Well, it’s the same thing when we go around saying, “Jesus is the answer!  Jesus is the answer!”  And people are wondering, “What’s the question?  The answer to what?”  And we say, “To everything!”  Well, that doesn’t mean anything.  These things have to be clearly defined, otherwise there’s going to be this gap that kind of exists, and people are just kind of floating around wondering what’s missing.

What is generally missing is just the fundamentals of the gospel.  Just to understand that we are born into this world spiritually dead.  The Lord Jesus forgave all of our sins, so that there is no sin being held against us.  That deals with the issue that caused death to begin with; it was sin that caused death:  the wages of sin is death.  He dealt with that.  But that doesn’t solve the problem.  I mean, that was an important problem, but the real problem was that we were spiritually dead.  We did not have His life indwelling within us.  So He rose from the dead so that He could offer to us the life that had been lost in Adam.  And that is the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of God is now being offered as a free gift, defined as “the life of God,” the free gift of life.  (end of quotation.)

* Note: I asked Aaron for the correct spelling of  “the breath of life” from Genesis 2:7; I had come up with Nĕshamah chay from blueletterbible.com.  Aaron replied,  “The best transliteration I can think of is, nishmat chaim.  What you found is a transliteration of the root words, not the derivations that you would read in the text.” (email, 10/29/15)

 

The sin of unbelief

The writer of the book of Hebrews explains that there are two ways to commit the sin of unbelief.  The first way is to reject the mercy of the living God. The second way is for a believer to reject the promise of rest.

Writing to his Hebrew brothers and sisters, the anonymous author pleads with them to believe in Jesus as their Messiah.

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12

The author illustrates this with the story of the Hebrews who refused to enter the Promised Land.  Their sin of unbelief prevented them from entering into the land of Israel, and instead they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

 “So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:19

God promised them the land of Israel, and they did not believe that He could deliver on His promise.  That’s a hefty sin!  The author of Hebrews explains that their unbelief was an act of disobedience.

 “And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?  So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.” Hebrews 3:18-19

The unbelief of the Israelites was a foreshadowing, and the reality is the sin of rejecting the gospel.  To reject the free gift of salvation that is being offered to you today is essentially to tell God, “I don’t believe you.  You are not trustworthy.”  Again, a very hefty sin. 

We need to believe in the gospel and be saved because we all have sin and we all are spiritually dead (whether Jew or Gentile).  Believing in the gospel message allows us to enter the true promised rest. We rest from our works of self-righteousness, and we trust that God has done all of the work Himself.

And that is where the second “sin of unbelief” comes in.  In chapter four, the author of Hebrews switches his audience and begins to talk to believers.  Hebrews 4 is often titled, “The Believer’s Rest.”

“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any of you may seem to have come short of it.”  Hebrews 4:1

As a born-again believer, if we fail to enter His rest, we have failed to believe in the complete forgiveness of sins.  In other words, we are still trying to do work that will make us holy and righteous and good.

Hebrews chapter four explains this in detail.

“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:10-11

The land of Israel was a land of rest because all of the homes were already built, the vineyards were planted, the roads were cleared and the wells were dug.  The land of the New Covenant is a land of rest for us today because all of the work has already been done.  Obedience has been accomplished:  God Himself came to earth and obeyed the Law of Moses.  Forgiveness has been given:  God died on our behalf, so the debt has been paid in full.   Salvation is being offered:  He redeemed and justified us through His complete forgiveness of sins, and He now offers the gift of life — His Holy Spirit — through His work of resurrecting from the dead.

The great Bob George used to emphasize that the gospel is defined in 1 Corinthians 15, and that it is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We can add nothing to the gospel, and if we do we will be led astray into false doctrines.

If you are an unbeliever, we plead with you to believe in the gospel.

If you are a believer, we plead with you to give up trying to “work for God,” trying to “serve God,” and simply to REST.

We must believe completely that the only thing we can trust in today, tomorrow and next week is his death, burial and resurrection.

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Click here for an excellent verse-by-verse Bible Study on the book of Hebrews.  Aaron Budjen, a Hebrew himself, has made all of his messages available for free at his website, http://www.LivingGodMinistries.net