Bible Notes Online - Genesis 1 - ESV

v1-2: Without Him nothing was made that was made; the Bible opens by declaring that God is the Creator of all things, through His powerful word (Psalm 33:6,9). All things were created by God, and all things are subject to Him. These opening two verses summarise what follows.

"Formless and empty" - (see Isaiah 34.11, Jeramiah 4.23), perhaps indicating a previous judgment, a casting of the devil out of Heaven.

These verses also challenge human thinking

  • Atheism says there is no god - the Bible opens by stating "God..."
  • Polytheism says there are many gods, the Bible "God..." (singular);
  • Fatalism says that chance determines events, the Bible insists that "God created..."
  • Evolutionary theory also states that the earth came into being through a series of chance events, but we read "God created"
  • Materialism says that matter is eternal, and pantheism says creation should be worshipped as god; but we read that God created the heavens and the earth.

Whilst this is not a detailed exposé of such thinking, it is striking that the Bible recognises and answers wrong human thinking.

The Days of Creation

v3-5 - Day 1: light and dark divided. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world" here is the holiness and utter perfection of God manifest in Jesus Christ (1 John 1:4-9). There is only darkness unless the light of God shines; 2 Cor 4.6.

We see too that day follows day, evening and morning, bringing order into the creation that was formless and empty.

v6-8 - Day 2: waters and waters divided; Heaven and earth separated, spiritual and natural. Heaven is God's throne, earth the domain of man. Only in Christ can man become a citizen of Heaven; for even Adam was not a heavenly man (1 Corinthians 15:45-46). This is a common pattern in scripture – Saul, then David; Israel, then the Church; Law, then Grace.

v9-13 - Day 3: The waters gathered together, separating earth and sea. In the New Testament, wheat and tares, once separated, are gathered (Matthew 13:24-30). The dry land brings forth grass and other fruit (Isaiah 53:2) - the barren becomes fruitful.

All seed reproduces after its kind, whether good or bad (Luke 6:45, James 3:12). Once we are separated from the world, and gathered together in Christ, we are expected to bear fruit.

v14-19 - Day 4: to fill the environment of day 1, lights in the sky, dividing day and night. The earth is set apart from other lights, other "heavenly bodies" for God made the earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18).

Christ is the greater light (John 5:35-36). Our part, as the lesser lights, is to reflect His glory. The light rules, for it has dominion.

v20-23 - Day 5: filling the environment of day 2; and abundance of life (Roman 8:32 - "all things"), for God is liberal and generous. God commands the living creatures to be fruitful and multiply; to those who have more will be given.

v24-28 - Day 6: filling the environment of day 3; man and animals separated; they are different. Man is not just a clever ape, another branch of evolutionary development. The animals are brought forth from the land, rather than created; the word used also implies an abundance ("teem").

Man is made in the image of God, but not identical to God, to have dominion over the other animals. Man is also given the command to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth. Although man and animals are made on day 6, the creation of man is different from that of animals. Man has intelligence, an ability to think, to discern, to invent. And man has a soul, a will, a conscience, and understanding. He is thus set apart from the animals, and made like God Himself. To mankind is given the blessing of work; he is to be fruitful, and v31 implies that this is very good. Thus, we may say, fruitlessness and poverty and idleness are consequences of sin in the world.

The Lugbara tribe describe the first men as 'Gborogboro' which means ' the person coming from the sky,' and 'Meme' which means 'the person who came alone.' They thus reflect the reality that mankind is made in the image of God.

Notice also the statement, "Let us make..." the first reference to the plurality of the Godhead, although the word translated "God" is also plural (Elohim) in this chapter. This is not the doctrine of the trinity, but it is the first indication that God is, as scripture later teaches, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Thomas Watson refers to ‘a solemn council of the sacred persons in the Trinity.’

v29-30: - Plants, trees, and animals, all given to man; at this stage, it seems, all animals are plant-eaters, and man does not eat meat; Genesis 9:2-3 gives man permission to eat meat.

v31: God's perfect creation; the work completed, it is "very good".

Adam is the first 'type' of Jesus Christ:

  • he heard the voice of God - prophetic;
  • he can speak to God - priestly;
  • he has authority over creation - kingly.

In the same way Jesus Christ is prophet, priest, and king.