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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 1

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-31

Analysis and Annotations


The manner in which the book of Genesis begins leaves no doubt that it is the revelation of God. The creation account is historical truth. The question is how was it given? An answer to this question claims that the Jews obtained the account from the records of other nations concerning the origin of the universe and that they altered it according to their own religious ideas. This is an impossibility. The ancient heathen nations considered God and the universe one and had absolutely no knowledge of the existence of God independent of the universe, nor did they know anything of a creation of the world. Here is something wholly different from all the theories, mythologies and other inventions of the human race. How then was it given? By revelation of God is the only answer.

No human being knew anything about the origin of the heavens and the earth. Man cannot by searching find out God, nor can man discover how the earth was created and all things came into existence. How ridiculous the statements and opinions on the creation of men called great thinkers, not to speak of the equally foolish beliefs of the nations of the past. But here is what God makes known, how He called all things into existence. He makes known that the universe is not eternal but that He created it. The whole account is of wonderful grandeur and yet of the greatest simplicity; so simple that a child can read it and understand the truth, but so profound that the greatest men have bowed before it.

It is not the purpose of this Bible study course to enter into details or we would write at length on the evolution theory with its invented “protoplasm.” There are many questions which the evolutionists cannot answer and many difficulties which they cannot explain. Their scientific assertions and speculations require one to believe what is against reason, while God never expects us to believe what is contrary to reason. It is far more simple to accept God’s revelation. “By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the Word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear” (Hebrews 11:3 ). This disposes of evolution and the other theories of unbelieving men, who reject God’s Word.

The statement which one hears so often from sneering lips that the creation account is unscientific has no foundation. That it is non-scientific is an entirely different matter. Galileo, the astronomer, truthfully said, “The Scriptures were given, not to tell us how the heavens go, but to teach us how to go to heaven.” Yet, as already mentioned in our introduction, science had to acknowledge over and over again the correctness of the creation account and withdraw the objections and assaults which had been made.


A ruined creation and the brooding spirit (1:2)

The Restoration of the Earth

1. The first day--light (Genesis 1:3-5 )

2. The second day--The dividing of the waters (Genesis 1:6-8 )

3. The third day--The earth out of the waters and vegetable life appears (1:9-13)

4. The fourth day--The lights in the heavens (Genesis 1:14-19 )

5. The fifth day--Living creatures in the waters and in the air (Genesis 1:20-23 )

6. The sixth day--Living creatures made and man created in God’s image (Genesis 1:24-31 )

7. The seventh day--God’s rest (Genesis 2:1-3 )

The first verse of the book of Genesis and of the whole Bible stands alone in majestic greatness. Like some mountain peak rising from the valley in solitary grandeur with its snow-capped summit, it inspires awe. In the Hebrew the verse is composed of seven words. When that beginning was in which God created the heavens and the earth is not revealed. It must have been many millions of years ago; God only knows it and science can never discover it. It is incorrect to say that it was 6,000 years ago. God does not speak of Himself; no statement concerning His existence or His eternity is given. How different from the myths and speculations of pagan nations. God’s Name mentioned for the first time in the Bible is “Elohim.” It is in the plural indicating God’s great dignity and power as well as the fact that God is triune. (See the “Let us make man,” in Genesis 1:26 .) Elohim is God’s name as Creator. This verse answers all the different “isms” about God and His creation, while its depths cannot be sounded. Here atheism is answered; polytheism (the many gods of the heathen) is exposed to be false. The verse disproves materialism as well as pantheism, that God and the universe are one.

It is of the greatest importance to understand that the condition in which the earth (not the heavens) is described in the second verse is not how God created it in the beginning. Scripture itself tells us this. Read Isaiah 45:18 . The Hebrew word for “without form” is _tohu, which means waste. “The earth was waste and void.” But in the passage of Isaiah we read, “He created it not a waste.” The original earth passed through a great upheaval. A judgment swept over it, which in all probability must have occurred on account of the fall of that mighty creature, Lucifer, who fell by pride and became the devil. The original earth, no doubt, was his habitation and he had authority over it which he still claims as the prince of this world. Luke 4:5-6 shows us this. The earth had become waste and void; chaos and darkness reigned. What that original earth was we do not know, but we know that animal and vegetable life was in existence long before God began to restore the earth. The immense fossil beds prove this. But they likewise prove that man was not then on the earth. Between the first and second verses of the Bible there is that unknown period of millions of years of which geology gets a glimpse in studying the crust of the earth. God waited His own time in majestic calmness when He would begin to carry out His plans He had made before the foundation of the world.

When that time arrived God began to bring order into the chaos and restored His creation so that the earth which is now and the heavens above came forth. The Spirit moving (brooding) upon the waters and His Word were the agents through which it was accomplished. Read John 1:1-3 ; Colossians 1:15-16 ; Hebrews 1:2-3 . We do not follow the historical account and the six days’ work, but call attention to the correspondency between the first three days and the last three. The seventh day stands by itself.

First day: Light Second day: Dividing of waters Third day: The earth out of the waters and vegetable life Fourth day: Solar system and lights Fifth day: Life in the waters Sixth day: Life on the earth and man created Seventh day: God rests

The word “create” is used only three times. In the first verse it applies to the original creation, when God called everything into existence out of nothing. Then we find it in verse 21 (Genesis 1:21 ) in connection with the calling forth of living creatures (nephesh--soul) and in Genesis 1:27 in connection with man. The other word used is the word “made.” This necessitates the existence of material which is shaped into something; the word “create” does not require existence of matter. The light which came forth on the first day was light before the sun, a fact well known to science.

The creation of man is the crowning act of the Creator and precedes His rest. “Let us make man” is the counsel of the Godhead. God then created man in His own image. In the second chapter we read that He formed him out of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils and man became a living soul.

The deeper Lessons of the Creation. The Creation account has a most interesting typical and dispensational meaning. In dealing with the individual in redemption and dealing with ruined creation by the fall of man, God follows the order of the six days work. (F.W. Grant’s Genesis in the Light of the New Testament develops this fully.) We give a few hints. The ruined creation wasted and void, covered with the dark waters and in darkness is the picture of fallen man. The two agents God used in the restoration of the ruined creation, the Spirit and the Word are the agents of the new birth. “Born of the Spirit” and of the “incorruptible seed of the Word of God.” In redemption God uses the word “create” not the word “made,” because what we receive by faith in His Son is not a mending of an old nature, but we are a new creation; created in Christ Jesus. David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart.” The work of the first day is touched upon in 2 Corinthians 4:6 . “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts.” When that light shines upon us it reveals the ruin of ourselves. The second day brings before us the separation, which follows the manifestation of the light. The third day stands for resurrection, for the earth came out of the waters and brings forth grass, herbs and trees, yielding fruit. Throughout the entire Bible this meaning of the third day may be traced. (It is the day of resurrection and restoration. Genesis 22:4 ; Genesis 40:20-22 ; Genesis 42:18 ; Exodus 15:22 ; Exodus 19:11 ; Numbers 7:24 ; Joshua 2:16 ; 2 Kings 20:5 ; Esther 5:1 ; Esther 9:18 ; Hosea 6:2 , John 2:1 ; Luke 13:33 .) The spiritual truth here is that if the Light has shone in and we believe we are “risen with Christ” and the fruit bearing, which is the result of this.

The fourth day directs our attention heavenward; there we are seated together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. The fifth day brings before us again the restless waters and the life manifested there. Out of the midst of these waters life comes. Even so in Christian experience down here. The sixth day points to the time of the completion of the new creation, while the seventh day reveals the eternal rest.

Dispensationally the lessons from the first chapter in Genesis are still more interesting.

The first day: The age before the flood: The light shines in.

The second day: The age of Noah.

The third day: The age of Abraham and his seed.

The fourth day: The present age: Christ the Sun; the moon typical of the church. Individual believers represented by stars.

The fifth day: The restless waters: The times of the Gentiles ending; “the sea and the waves roaring.” The great tribulation.

The sixth day: The kingdom rule established over the earth in the second coming of Christ.

The seventh day: The eternal ages: God is all in all.

It is equally interesting to see that the same dispensational truths gather around the names of seven of the prominent actors of the book of Genesis. These are: Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. We quote from another:

Adam gives us the beginning, when, with the entrance of God’s Word, light comes into the soul of a sinner, and God meets him as such with the provision of His grace (chapter 3).

Then (4-5), we have the history of the two “seeds,” and their antagonisms story which has its counterpart in the history of the world at large, but also in every individual soul where God has wrought, and where the “flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other.”

Next, Noah’s passage through the judgment of the old world into a new scene, accepted of God in the sweet savor of sacrifice, is the type of where salvation puts us--”in Christ, a new creation: old things passed away, and all things become new” (Gen. 6-11:9).

Abraham’s Canaan-life--pilgrim and stranger, but a worshiper, gives us the fruit and consequence of this--a “walk in Him” whom we have received (Genesis 11:10-21 ).

Then, Isaac, our type as “sons” (Galatians 4:28 ), speaks to us of a self-surrender into a Father’s hands, the door into a life of quiet and enjoyment, as it surely is (22-24:33).

Jacob speaks of the discipline of sons, by which the crooked and deceitful man becomes Israel, a prince with God--a chastening of love, dealing with the fruits of the old nature in us (Genesis 26:34 ; Genesis 37:1 ).

While Joseph, the fullest image of Christ, suffers, not for sin, but for righteousness’ sake, and obtains supremacy over the world and fulness of blessing from the Almighty One, his strength (Genesis in the Light of the New Testament).

How marvellous all this is! And yet we touch only upon the surface. The highest evidence for the Word of God is the Word itself. No man or human genius could have ever produced such a document as the first chapter of Genesis, which contains in embryo all the subsequent revelations of God. It is God’s revelation.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Genesis 1". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/genesis-1.html. 1913-1922.
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