The book of Genesis is crucial in understanding all the other
books of the Bible. Chapters 1-2 deal with the creation of life in
general and man in particular. Many have speculated about our
origin. Certain religions have provided almost humorous accounts
of our creation. Evolution has tried and failed for over 140 years
to establish an alternative to the Bible. But no other explanation,
religious or "scientific," has yet been able to match the majestic
but simple truth: "In the beginning God created the heavens and
the earth" (Gen. 1:1).
When God created man and woman on the sixth day, He had already
created and prepared the world for them; the animals and the
vegetation were already there ahead of them (and full-grown). The
sun, the moon, and the stars were in place.
Then 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. Then God blessed them, and God said to
them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have
dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over
every living thing that moves on the earth (Gen. 1:26-28).
Think of all the implications of these verses; in the very first
chapter of the Bible, evolution, pantheism, and monism are all denied.
Man is not equal to the creation; he is over the creation. The most
important fact, however, is that we are above animals with respect to
being created in God's image. We are moral beings, capable of
reasoning and logic. We inhabit a fleshly body, but we are not
God expects man to be obedient to Him; He gave Adam a commandment:
"Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of
the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that
you eat of it you shall surely die" (Gen. 2:16-17). The fact that
God gave Adam and Eve a commandment (she gives evidence of knowing
about it in 3:2-3) shows that:
1. Mankind possesses free will (the ability to choose right or
2. Mankind has the ability to obey God (it is the will he
3. There is a punishment for doing wrong.
4. Man and woman were not so depraved that they could not help
5. God blessed man with several types of fruit that would not
One other thing is noteworthy during this creation week. Before
sin entered into the world God instituted marriage (Gen. 2:18-24).
God made one man for one woman for life; Jesus appealed to this
passage in Matthew 19:3-9.
Already we have learned quite a bit about both God and man. God
possesses great power to have created the vast universe; He has the
right to command. He also loves the creatures that He made and
provided them great blessings. Genesis 3:1-6 records the way in
which mankind sinned. Eve could have refused the temptation (lust
of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride-1 John 2:16), and Adam could
have refused to follow ,his wife's lead. The punishments for both
man and woman are recorded in Genesis 3:16-19.
Prior to stating the ways in which the first man and woman would
be punished, God promised a remedy for sin: "And 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" (Gen. 3:15).
The remainder of the Bible concerns itself with this eventuality-how
it came about and what it means.
1. The Creation (1-2)
2. Sin enters the world and abounds (3-11)
a. The Fall (3)
b. The Departure (4-6)
c. The Flood (7-9)
d. The Second Departure (10-11)
3. The Patriarchs (12-50)
a. Abraham (12-25:18)
b. Isaac (25:19-27)
c. Jacob (28-36)
d. Joseph (37-50)
The book of Genesis was written a few years prior to 1400 B.C.
Its purpose was to explain the origin of all things to the Israelites,
including their own origin and purpose. The beginning of this world
was some time prior to 4,000 B.C. God created a perfect world for
man (1-2), but sin entered into it, bringing with it physical death
and other penalties, such as an uncooperative earth for men to till,
pain in child-bearing for women (also being in subjection to her
husband), and worst of all, the loss of fellowship with God (3).
During the next 1,656 years mankind departed from God in such
numbers and to such a degree that God determined to destroy the world
(4-6). One man, Noah, found grace in the eyes of the Lord; God
commanded him to build an ark, and the earth was destroyed by water
(7-8). It was upon a cleansed earth that Noah and his family emerged
from the ark (9). But as men began to multiply, they again became
rebellious against God (10-11). It is probably of this time period
that Paul writes in Romans 1:18-32.
In Genesis 3:15 God had promised a Redeemer. Now He chooses a
man (Abraham) to be the father of a nation through whom the Savior
will come. He promises him a land, a nation, and a descendant through
whom all the nations of the world will be blessed (12:1-3, 7; 22:18).
God renews this promise to Abraham's son Isaac (26:2-4) and grandson
Jacob (28:13-14). The lives of these three men are included in
Genesis. Jacob produces twelve sons; his name is changed to Israel
(by God), and his twelve sons become twelve tribes of peoples. Genesis
37-50 focuses attention on Jacob's favorite son, Joseph. It also
furnishes an explanation of the reason for Israel's coming to dwell
KEY VERSES AND PASSAGES
1:26-28 Man is created "in the image of God."
2:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother
and be joined to his wife...."
3:1-6 The first sin.
3:15 The Seed Promise.
3:14-19 Punishments for Sin.
4:7 Free will after "the fall."
5:24 Enoch walked with God.
6:5 "...every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only
6:8 "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord."
6:22 "Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him,
so he did."
9:3-4 "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you"-but
not its blood.
9:5-6 "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be
15:13 Abraham's descendants would be afflicted "four hundred
years" before being delivered.
15:16 Then God would give them the land "for the iniquity of the
Amorites is not yet complete."
19:4-5 The sin of Sodom-"Bring them out to us that we may know
35:22-26 A summary of sons.
39:9 "...How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against
49 Prophecies of the sons of Jacob.
*Send comments or questions concerning this survey to Gary Summers.[Old Testament Survey Index]