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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Genesis

- Genesis

by Editor - William Robertson Nicoll

Introduction to Genesis

In the British Museum Library there is a folio Latin Bible, published in 1546, which contains marginal notes by various Reformers. In the narrow space above the heading of Genesis two and a half lines have been inserted. The Latin sentence tells us that 'the whole Book of Genesis excels in sweetness all other books and histories'. The German reads: 'There is no more beautiful and more lovable little book'. At the end of the inscription are the initials in Greek letters: 'Ph. M.,' i.e. Philip Melanchthon.

The Book of Genesis

It was on the book of Genesis that Luther delivered his last lectures in the Autumn of 1545. At the conclusion of his lecture on 17 November he said: 'This is the beloved Genesis; God grant that after me it may be better done. I can do no more I am weak. Pray God that He may grant me a good and happy end.' He began no new lectures.

Genesis The Book of Beginnings

The book of Genesis is the book of origins. There is nothing final in this book. The Divine plan of redemption is not fully unfolded, but the first movements in history towards its outworking are clearly revealed. There are three divisions.

I. Generations. In this division there are two sections.

( a ) We have the Bible declaration of the origin of the material universe, and it is one in which faith finds reasonable foundation. The evolutionary process has never been able to discover a link between the highest form of animal life and man; that link is supplied in the affirmation 'God created man in His own image'.

( b ) The relation of man to God and nature was conditioned by a simple and yet perfectly clear command, which indicated the limits of liberty. Man was completed by the bringing to him of one who was of himself, and in whom he found the true complement of his own nature.

II. Degeneration. Everything commences with the individual. Spiritual evil took material form to reach spiritual man through the material side of his being. Moving swiftly upon the degradation of the individual came that of the family. The race moved on, but the shadow of the issue of sin was on the whole of them. This ended in a Divine interference of swift and overwhelming judgment. Out of the devastation a remnant was saved, and human history started forward upon a new basis, as there emerged a new idea of social relationship, that of the nation. The book chronicles the story of the failure of this national idea. Finally, the time of continuity from Shem to Abram is declared.

III. Regeneration. The regeneration of the individual gives us the account of the dealings of God with three men: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In this study of the beginnings of the regeneration of the individual the truth is revealed that the one principle through which God is able to operate is that of faith in Himself. Through the sons of Jacob the circle widens, and we see the movement toward the regeneration of the family. Through years God purged the family and society, and in the final verses of the book of Genesis the national idea is seen for a moment as a prophecy and a hope.

G. Campbell Morgan, The Analysed Bible, p. 8.