Genesis 1 - Outline of Genesis (Book Notes menu page)
The title 'Genesis' means 'beginnings.'
1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
in the beginning God...- ie., first in order, prior to all things, God is.
God created - The statement is made as an indisputable fact.
Will we argue the point, or accept His Word by faith? Job 38:4; Heb 11:1-3
God uses just one verse to tell us that He created the universe, and just one chapter to tell how He made the earth habitable for mankind. He uses the remainder of the Bible, to tell us of His love for us, and of our need for Him.
  • Apparently, we do not need to know the details of creation so much as we need to know Him (ie., to be in right relationship with Him, cp. Heb 11:6).
  • We should be cautious about becoming overly dogmatic on the details of creation, remembering that none of us witnessed these events (Job 38:4). Our knowledge is limited by what God has revealed in His Word, what we observe in the natural world, and our ability to interpret these things. Among Christians, there is a broad range of understanding concerning the creation account-- from six literal days perhaps 10,000 years ago, to an extended process over millions of years.
    - - Obviously, the truth of the matter is not so broad. The plain reading of the text suggests the ''young earth'' model. However, many believers struggle with that concept, due to the influences of secular education. As a believer matures in the faith, his understanding of creation will also mature. Over the years, the editor himself has gradually embraced the view that ''the six literal days of creation'' best fits the teaching of the scriptures. However, earlier in his experience, he found another view helpful in reconciling his understanding of science and the biblical account. (That view sees a 'gap', between v.1 and v.2, accommodating the passage of an unspecified length of time, perhaps millions of years.) The discussion below touches on both of these views. However, it is beyond the scope and purpose of our study to thoroughly evaluate or compare the various views regarding the how of creation. We will be more concerned with the why and what of creation (ie., that which God is telling us through his work of creation).
         For further study on the arguments and evidences for ''biblical creation,'' check out the resources produced by these organizations:
In ch. 1, we are shown the relationship between God and His universe -
  1. God is independent of the material universe (as to both space and time, cp. v.1; 2:4).
    (eg., The builder of an aircraft is not made of aluminum and rivets.)
  2. He alone is the active agent of creation.
    (eg., An aircraft builder may assemble parts obtained from many sources. But God did everything by Himself.) cp. the implications of Isa 45:20-23; Joh 1:1-3; Heb 1:1-3
  3. He alone is competent to plan and complete such a project, and to evaluate it morally and aesthetically.
    (eg., An aircraft is subject to the inspection of higher authorities, but in this case, there is no authority higher than the Creator.) cp. Job 38:4-6
  4. He remains actively involved in His creation, even though He is distinct from it.
    (eg., An aircraft builder may crawl into his creation and pilot it to some destination, but he does not become part of it, and he retains control of it.)
    God's creation exists for His glory and for His purposes. cp. Col 1:16,17; Rev 4:11
created- HB=bara, to create something out of nothing. cp. Heb 11:3
It is important to see that this word occurs only 3x in ch.1-
  1. v.1 - the creation of the universe. (God bridged the gap from nothing to something.)
  2. v.21 - the creation of animal life. (God bridged the gap from something to life.)
  3. v.27 - the creation of man. (God bridged the gap from life to humanity.)
    Note that it is precisely at these three gaps, that the theory of evolution stumbles.
the heaven and the earth- ie., the universe which includes the planet which concerns us.
1:2 And the earth was {or, became} without form, and void;
and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
without form {HB=tohu, a ruin, unformed} and void {HB=bohu, empty, uninhabited}-
Since we are told that God did not create the earth in this state (Isa 45:18, ''vain'' = tohu), and since the only other occurrence, of the phrase "without form and void," refers to judgment (Jer 4:23, cp. Isa 24:1), the language here could indicate that a cataclysmic event brought the earth to this state... perhaps at the time of Lucifer's rebellion against God (Isa 14:12-14). Some think that prior to this time of ruin, the earth was covered with lush vegetation and (perhaps) populated by creatures now extinct (eg., the era of the dinosaurs). Others, noting that death ''entered into the world'' after the fall of Adam (Rom 5:12), see no place for an extinct population of creatures prior to the six days of creation. (The fossil record of extinct creatures may be explained by Noah's flood.)
the Spirit of God moved {ie., hovered, brooded, fluttered (cp. Deu 32:11,12)} upon...-
If "without form and void" describes the destruction caused by Satan's rebellion, then verse 2 also reveals the beginning of the Holy Spirit's work of re-creation. He is able to bring good out of the ruin that results from evil (Psa 104:29,30).
     He is still in the business of re-creation, today. cp. Joh 3:3; 2Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15
Re-creation could be the right word for much of what occurred during the ''six days of creation'' (the remainder of ch.1). As noted before, the word meaning ''created out of nothing'' occurs only 3x. Other more frequently used terms describe making something out of that which was already present (ie., that which God had previously created). Examples-
  • ''Let there be...''- might be paraphrased ''Let it appear.'' or ''Let it be so arranged.'' v.3,6,14
  • ''God made...''- HB= 'asah, to fashion, to construct (ie., from existing materials) v.7,16,25,26
1:3 And God said, {cp. Psa 33:6,9}
Let there be light: and there was light.
1:4 And God saw the light, that [it was] good:
and God divided the light from the darkness.
1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Day #1 of earth's creation (and/or 're-creation') -
Light broke through the darkness (cp. v.2).
The sun, moon and stars were created in v.1. Apparently, an obscuration prevented their light from reaching the earth, until God spoke. Light is symbolic of the glory and presence of God (cp. Psa 104:2; Isa 45:7; 60:19), where He enters, light is separated from darkness (cp. Joh 3:19; 1Joh 1:5,6)
God saw that it was good- 'saw' {HB=raah} occurs 7x in ch.1
Every aspect of His creation passed His inspection.
But God did more than inspect. He 'saw to it' that it was good.
(cp. This word is translated as ''provide'' in 22:8, and has that meaning in 22:14.)
the first day - In Scripture, the word 'day' may refer to:
  1. The 24 hour day, or the portion of this period that is light. cp. v.14; Joh 11:9
  2. Such a day set apart for a special purpose (eg., the Day of Atonement, Lev 23:27; or, the Day of Judgment, Mat 10:15).
  3. A period of time, long or short, during which certain purposes of God are to be accomplished (eg., ''the Day of the Lord'', 2Pet 3:10). cp. Gen 2:4 where 'day' refers to the whole period of creation. [above points adapted from ScofRB]
     In that the 6 days of creation are each bracketed by 'the evening and the morning,' they appear to be 24 hour days. However, since the sun and moon are not mentioned as time references until v.14 (day 4), the reference for the preceding days may be debated. On the other hand, since 24 hour days are essential to the context of Exodus 20:11 and 31:17, these passages seem to argue (A) that all six days were of that type, and (B) that the first day included all events in Gen 1:1-5 (thus precluding a lengthy gap between v.1 and 2).
     Noting that both of these passages, in Exodus, use the word 'made' {HB= 'asah, to fashion, to construct} rather than 'created' {HB= bara, to create something out of nothing}, some argue that the 'six days of creation' apply to the 're-creation' after a period of undetermined length (the 'gap' between v.1,2). However, this chapter (Gen ch.1), specifically says that God 'created' living creatures and 'created' human beings during those six days, in which He also 'made' several other things. The more general term ('made') was chosen, in the verses in Exodus, to accommodate both things 'made' and things 'created' during that period. Therefore, the use of the more general term (in Exodus), does not exclude the possibility that the original creation (v.1) is included in those six days.
1:6 And God said,
Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters,
and let it divide the waters from the waters.
1:7 And God made the firmament,
and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament
from the waters which [were] above the firmament: and it was so.
1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven.
And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Day #2 -
a firmament {HB= raqia, an expanse, ie., an air space}
The water laying on earth's surface was separated from the water vapor (clouds) suspended in the atmosphere. Note again that the elements involved were created out of nothing in v.1. Here, God 'made' (ie., ordered, arranged) the elements according to His plan.
heaven- In Scripture, the word 'heaven' may refer to -
  1. earth's atmosphere, the realm of birds and clouds (the first heaven), cp. Jer 4:25; 1Kin 18:45
  2. outer space, the realm of the stars (the second heaven), cp. Gen 15:5
  3. a spiritual place, the realm of God (the third heaven), cp. 2Cor 12:2,4; Psa 14:2
1:9 And God said,
Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place,
and let the dry [land] appear: and it was so.
1:10 And God called the dry [land] Earth;
and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas:
{cp. Psa 95:5; Prov 8:25-30}
and God saw that [it was] good.
1:11 And God said,
Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed,
[and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed [is] in itself, upon the earth:
and it was so.
1:12 And the earth brought forth grass, [and] herb yielding seed after his kind,
and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed [was] in itself, after his kind:
and God saw that [it was] good.
1:13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Day #3 -
dry land- was separated from the surface water-
the earth brought forth {seed bearing vegetation} -
The wording allows (but does not require) the possibility that seed from vegetation, which grew prior to the cataclysm of v.2, remained dormant in the soil, until suitable conditions prevailed again upon the earth. cp. 2:5
- - God's purpose was to prepare a habitable place for man. Man requires dry land and food.
1:14 And God said,
Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night;
and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
1:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth:
and it was so.
1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day,
and the lesser light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also.
1:17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
1:18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness:
and God saw that [it was] good.
1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Day #4 -
the sun, moon and stars appear- These celestial bodies had been created in v.1.
But now 'the expanse of the heaven' (cp. v.6-8) is so arranged that they can be clearly seen from earth. The cloud cover over earth became broken or thinned.
signs {ie., markers distinguishing}... seasons... days... years-
We still mark time by the solar clock and the lunar calendar.
But their significance extends beyond simple time keeping, to declare...
1:20 And God said,
Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life,
and fowl [that] may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth,
which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind,
and every winged fowl after his kind:
and God saw that [it was] good.
1:22 And God blessed them, saying,
Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
1:23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
Day #5 -
God created... living creatures - sea creatures and birds
The word 'created' is HB=bara, to create something out of nothing (see note at v.1).
As discussed earlier, in all probability the earth had never hosted animal life before. However, if animal life had existed previously, it would have perished in the cataclysm of v.2. Unlike vegetation, animal life could neither lie dormant, nor spring forth spontaneously from seed in the ground.
In either case, God created animal life where there was no animal life.
God created... after their kind {ie., species, cp. v.11,12, 24,25; 6:20} -
God established the procreation (reproduction) of the species.-
Within any species, changes occur. The original pair of horses have developed into hundreds of varieties of horses. However, such changes do not cross between species. Horses cannot breed with oxen. Horses never produce moose.
1:24 And God said,
Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing,
and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind,
and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind:
and God saw that [it was] good.
Day #6 (part 'A') -
God made the beast(s) of the earth- ie., land animals.
  • In v. 21, where the focus is sea creatures, we read that ''God created... every living creature.'' Here, He continues His work (of creating animal life) to make the land animals, each 'after its kind.'
  • The term 'living creature' ('moving creature' in v.20) is HB=nephesh, soul, living being. Animal life possesses (in varying degrees) a sense of awareness or self-consciousness not given to plant life.
Note that the biblical account of creation -
  • is consistent with the order observed by science
    (ie., first plant life, then sea life, then land animal life, then man).
  • differs with evolutionary theory as to the means of accomplishment.
    Evolution is inconsistent with the gaps which only God could close (see note at v.1), and with the boundaries which God has established between the species. (Evolutionists observe, but cannot adequately explain these phenomena.)
1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:
and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air,
and over the cattle, and over all the earth,
and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him;
male and female created he them.
Day #6 (part 'B') -
let us make man in our our likeness... so, God created man in his own image...-
The plurality and singularity of God suggest the NT teaching that God is Triune -
  1. The word for 'God' in HB= Elohim (a plural form of 'el', the generic word for god).
  2. The plural pronouns (us, our), and the apparent conversation (in v.26) suggest inter-personal interaction within the Godhead.
  3. Yet, God is One.
    There is no conflict between the Persons, who, in perfect unity, initiated the creation of man (v.26).
    The unity is so complete, that when action is taken, it is ''He'' (singular pronoun) who does it (v.27).
    (For more, see Understanding the Bible - Lesson 3-Bible Themes: God - One God/Triune God)
God created man- this is emphasized by the triple use of the word create {HB=bara} in v.27.
He made (or, formed) man from elements previously created, as His final act of creating living creatures after their kinds (cp. v.21,25,26; 2:7a).
Then, He created spiritual life within this creature. cp. 2:7b
in the image {HB=tselem, resemblance} and likeness {HB=demuth, similarity} of God-
  1. Man resembles God in that -
    • he is triune (has three inseparable parts). cp. 1The 5:23
      Like the animals, man has a body and soul (self-consciousness, v.24). But unlike the animals, man also has a spirit, which makes possible a personal relationship between man and God (cp. Gen 2:7; Joh 4:24). By means of his spirit, man has a consciousness of God and a conscience (ie., 'knowledge with' God) concerning moral matters.
    • he is meant for interpersonal relationships.
      The fact that man was created 'male and female' is related to his being made in God's image (v.27). By design, the man and his wife were to live in harmonious communion with each other and with God (cp. 2:24; Mal 2:14-16; Mark 10:6-9). This loving fellowship would model the nature of God to a watching world. cp. Joh 13:34,35; Eph 5:28-33
  2. Man is similar to God in that he has free will, creativity, and moral responsibility.
    Man was created to display the character of the invisible God to a watching world.
After the Fall, the image of God, which man retains, has become corrupted and distorted.
     cp. Gen 9:6; Jam 3:9; Rom 1:21-25
Since Adam lost it, only one Man fully displayed God's image and likeness.
     cp. Col 1:15; Heb 1:1-3
Through Him, men can be restored to bear God's image.
     cp. Rom 8:29; Col 2:10; 3:10; 2Cor 3:18; 1Cor 15:49,50; 1Joh 3:2
Ch.2 provides further detail regarding man's creation. Ch.3 describes man's Fall into sin.
1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them,
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it:
and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air,
and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
1:29 And God said,
Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed,
which [is] upon the face of all the earth,
and every tree, in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed;
to you it shall be for meat.
1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air,
and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein [there is] life,
[I have given] every green herb for meat: and it was so.
1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good.
And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
be fruitful, and multiply- Psa 127:3; 128:3,4
...replenish the earth-
At first glance, this phrase may suggest that the earth had been de-populated by the cataclysm of v.2 (as it was by the flood in Noah's day, Gen 9:1).
However, the word translated 'replenish' frequently means ''to fill completely'' (cp. Ex 1:7, trans. ''filled''). This meaning is preferable here.
subdue {the earth} - ie., take mastery over it, bring it into servitude to your needs.
...have dominion over {every living creature on earth} -
Here is the basis for exploration, utilization and conservation of natural resources.
While mankind continues to mine and farm the earth,
there are aspects of his dominion which were lost due to Adam's fall. 3:17-19
We may understand some of what the first Adam lost, by observing the dominion which the second Adam exercised (eg. Mark 4:39,41) and regained for believers (cp. Heb 2:6-11; Rom 8:17-21).
God saw every thing... was very good- cp. Psa 104:24; Jam 1:17
God's creation would remain perfect, until polluted by man's fall.

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