Is the “helper” in Genesis 2:18 Christ or the Holy Spirit?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture 

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... the place where I discuss the thinking that went into this article.)

Question: Does the 'helper' referred to in Genesis 2:18 prophecy of Christ and his Holy Spirit, the Comforter?

Answer: I’m not sure if you are asking if the woman (Eve) — as the “helper” in Genesis 2:18 — is a type of either Christ or of the Holy Spirit — or whether she is actually those people, as in a theophany. So, I will attempt to cover both contingencies and define a few terms in the process.

A “type” is a specialized biblical symbol that connects Old Testament types to their New Testament anti-types. (These correspond to the “vehicle” and the “tenor” in everyday symbolism.) For example, the tabernacle in the Old Testament is a “type” of Christ in the New Testament, and we have some Scripture to tell us that this is so (Exodus 25:9; Hebrews 9:8-9). (See https://www.gotquestions.org/typology-Biblical.html).

Now, it is true that the word “helper” refers to both Eve and to the Holy Spirit (John 14:16), but this is not a sufficient relationship for typology. The terms are related incidentally — and indeed, many words in the Bible are! But they are not related purposefully. If they were, the New Testament would have connected them for us... and likely, in the book of Hebrews.

Have you seen the movie A Beautiful Mind? It was about the late John Nash. He was a mathematician, a Nobel prize laureate — and a bona fide genius! But he also suffered from schizophrenia. One of the manifestations of his genius (and his disease) was that he saw himself as a code-breaker tasked with finding secret messages in the eclectic data gleaned from selected periodicals. Nash found many connections in the data that he said were purposeful... and he claimed to have broken the code.

Now, these connections did indeed exist. Nash saw them... and he even drew lines between them! But the only place they were purposeful was in the mind of this tortured genius. You see, there were correlations in the data — that is, there was perceived information. But there was no causation. That is, there were no coded messages in Nash’s dataset.

I bring this up because we are all like John Nash at least a little. God made us so that we can see relationships. The challenge for us will always be to separate the incidental from the purposeful — and the Bible is simply full of incidental relationships between words and concepts! So, although it’s a fact that “helper” exists in both the Old and the New Testaments, this relationship is incidental. As such, the relationship does not communicate anything “extra” ... like a typological code.

That being said, literature does encourage us to see things as foreshadowing or echoing other things… but I don’t see these appearances of the word “helper” as rising to even one of these softer relationships.

Bible commentator, Marg Mowczko, has looked pretty closely at this issue in Genesis 2:18. The introduction to her article (which I’ve pasted-in below) tells us that she did not find the relationship you are asking about. Since I do not want to just regurgitate her findings, I’ll encourage you to read her article.

I’ve often seen it pointed out that the first woman is described as a “helper” in Genesis 2:18 and 20 and that the Holy Spirit is described as a “helper” in John 14:16, 26, 15:26 and 16:7. At first glance, this looks like an interesting similarity. In the original languages of the Bible, however, “helper” in Genesis 2 and “helper” in John’s Gospel are unrelated words with a different range of meanings.

https://margmowczko.com/holy-spirit-eve-helpers/

I’d also encourage you to read Got Questions Ministries commentary on this section of Genesis at its bibleref.com site. Here is that link: https://www.bibleref.com/Genesis/2/Genesis-2-18.html.

I mentioned that Genesis 2:18 could be seen as a theophany (or a Christophany) by someone disposed to relating this manifestation of a “helper” to Christ. A theophany is a manifestation of God in the Bible that is tangible to the human senses. One famous example of this is God appearing to Moses as a burning bush (Exodus 3:2).

The problem here is that theophanies — and in particular, Christophanies (where Christ, in particular, is said to show up before his incarnation) — are often highly interpretive. As such, if you claimed that the helper in Genesis 2:18 was really Jesus or the Holy Spirit showing up for a minute to make a theological point, you’d be standing with a relatively small group of Bible interpreters.

In my opinion, the helper in Genesis 2:18 is not related to either Jesus or the Holy Spirit... except that they also created the universe (Job 33:4; Colossians 1:16 ) ... and she was part of their creation.

That’s all I have for you on this. I pray this helped. God bless you.

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20191209 Does the word "helper" in Genesis 2:18 refer to Christ or the Holy Spirit?).

(For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)