Genesis Chapter 1 Bible Study Commentary
Genesis 1: In the Beginning... was the Word
by I Gordon
In the beginning... JESUS!
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Let's start with a quiz to get going. Here are some questions for you -
1. What does Genesis mean?
2. Who wrote the book of Genesis?
3. Which book in the New Testament has the exact same first three words as Genesis?
4. Who created Heaven and Earth?
5. Who was it created for?
6. What was it made out of?
Please have a think before carrying on. Right, ready? Ok, let's have a look at some of the answers. Firstly, Genesis means 'beginning' and as such it outlines the beginning of many things. It describes the beginning of heaven and earth obviously. It also outlines the beginning of mankind, sin, and redemption. Ok, so you're 1 for 1. Well, the questions don't get much harder just yet for I'm sure you know that it was Moses who wrote the book. The third question may have got you thinking a little more. The New Testament book with the same first three words is the book of John for it starts 'In the beginning was the Word.' The fourth question may be a little bit of a trick question. You are probably thinking generally that it was God who created the heaven and Earth... and of course, I can't argue with that! But more specifically, we'll see that it was Jesus that created all that there is. In like manner, when you think of who heaven and earth were created for, you might be thinking 'Mmm, probably mankind'. If so, have a look at the following verse:
'For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.' ( Col 1:16 )
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
So we see that all things were created by Jesus and for Jesus. And that includes you. He created you... for Himself. Finally, out of what did Jesus create this world? Well, that would be... nothing! The writer of Hebrews wrote it this way:
Heb 11:3 'By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.'
So we see that God made something out of nothing. Always remember that. Lots of people believe they have nothing to offer God. Fair enough. But just remember that He is a God who creates something out of nothing. He is the God who can take your nothing, presented to Him, and create something. We accept by faith that he did it at creation and we walk in this same faith that He will do it in our lives. Without any help or resources from us, He can create something out of nothing and a somebody out of a nobody. He has been doing it right from the days of Genesis 1:1 . It's in the book!
Let there be light... in your life
Genesis 1:2-4 'Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.'
It is interesting that this planet was initially covered with water. For more information on this, have a look at Psalm 104:5-9 . But we will concern ourselves with a different picture presented to us in these verses. We see that the earth was barren and empty but there is hope for the Spirit hovers nearby. With a word God declares that there shall be light... and there was. The light, which is good, is then separated from the darkness. It happened at creation and it happens again in the lives of all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, the apostle Paul tells us in a single verse in 2 Cor 4:6 that this is a picture of salvation. Here is what he says:
'For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.'
Before knowing the Lord we were barren, empty and destitute of the light of God... just like the earth in its initial stages. But thank God that He doesn't leave us and His Holy Spirit hovers over us, drawing us to the Father. At the point of salvation, God's command is 'let there be light' in our lives as the presence of God through the Holy Spirit is restored back into humanity. From that point on, there is a clear separation that takes place for we are taken from the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light! (See Acts 26:18 )
We will leave the creation of seeds and fruit for chapter 2 of our study, but for now I want to draw your attention to a fantastic picture of Jesus from verse 14 of Genesis 1.
The greater and the lesser light
Genesis 1:14-19 And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.' And it was so. 16 God made two great lights - the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning - the fourth day.
There is another wonderful picture presented to us in these verses concerning the greater and lesser lights that God created on the fourth day. It is a picture that God reminds you of every day and every night. The sun God created to govern the day, and the moon He created to rule the night. Now, it is important to remember as you romantically gaze at the beauty of the moon that it has no light of it's own. It receives its light from the sun and the amount of the moon we see lit up is a reflection of how much of it has been exposed to the sun. I'm sure you know where this is going! The sun is a type of the Son! He is the true light of the world. The moon, that dark dusty old thing that only looks any good when the sun shines on it is the church (you and me!)
We also need to remember that two things get in the way of the moon being able to shine in all the sun's glory... The earth can get between the sun and the moon so that no light shines on the moon. This is the effect of worldliness that gets between the believer and Jesus Christ. Or the moon can get between the sun and the earth blocking out the light of the sun. This is when the church preaches herself and not Jesus as the answer. Again, this is a most wonderful picture that God has placed as a perpetual reminder of Jesus' importance and place in your life!
As John 1:4 states 'In Him (Jesus) was life and that life was the light of men.' The light we have depends upon His life living through us just as the moon is totally reliant upon the sun to look at all attractive!
Made in the image of God
Genesis 1:26-28 Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'
You will notice that in reference to the creation of mankind, the Bible reveals God saying 'Let US make man in our image.' God is a trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit and from some of the verses quoted already in this study we can see all three at work in creation. It should also be noted that the word for God used in Gen 1:1 is Elohim which is itself plural and lends support for the latter revelation that God exists in the three persons of the trinity.
So God created mankind (male and female) in His own image. What does this mean? Is it a reference to our physical image? No, for God is spirit ( John 4:24 ) To quote the Bible Knowledge Commentary:
"Human life was created in (lit., 'as,' meaning 'in essence as') the image of God (v. 27). This image was imparted only to humans (2:7). 'Image' is used figuratively here, for God does not have a human form. Being in God's image means that humans share, though imperfectly and finitely, in God's nature, that is, in His communicable attributes (life, personality, truth, wisdom, love, holiness, justice), and so have the capacity for spiritual fellowship with Him."
This image then was lost to a large degree with the fall and man's separation from his creator. But we do know what that image was intended to look like because in the person of Jesus Christ we have "the image of the invisible God." ( Col 1:15 ) In EVERYTHING that Jesus said and did, He revealed the character, attributes and personality of the invisible God. 100% all the time. And Christians now have an opportunity to have that image restored in their own lives. This occurs on a daily basis as we behold Him who was the true image of God (again - just as the moon requires the sun to shine) as it says in 2 Cor 3:18
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
And though we may only reflect His image and glory poorly at the moment, the day will come, when He appears, when the image will be complete and fully restored:
"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." ( 1 John 3:2 )