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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Genesis 1

Verses 1-2

"Genesis" means "beginnings." The Book of Genesis is the "seed-bed of truth." A partial list of the "beginnings" found in this remarkable Book includes the beginning of: earth, heavens, seas, plant life, aquatic life, terrestrial life, man, woman, family, sin, conviction, judgment, worship, redemption, murder, metallurgy, music, polygamy, civil government - and many others.

The Book of Genesis covers an undetermined length of time. It begins with the creation of the heavens and the earth, and closes with the death and burial of Joseph Since it is impossible to fix accurately the date of the creation, it is impossible to determine the time-span of Genesis.

Verses 1, 2:

"In the beginning..." at a point undetermined in time, "God," Elohim, (three) powerful ones. The "im" ending denotes plural; three or more. This designation of God implies the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, see Matthew 28:19-20; Matthew 3:16-17; John 14:16; John 15:26; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 4:4-6.

"Created," bara, cut, form, fashion. This word never means to make something out of nothing. It is an axiom that "from nothing comes nothing." God formed creation from something that already existed: His eternal power (dunamis), Romans 1:20. Einstein’s equation, E=MC2 confirms that all matter is basically composed of energy. The creation of the heavens and the earth was sudden, as by the spoken word of God, Isa 48:3. The creation did not occur over a long period of time, spanning millions of years.

God is without flaw. For Him to do anything imperfect would be to mar His own perfection. Thus, the creation as it came from His power was perfect; it was not "in vain," as verse 2 describes (Isaiah 45:18). Something occurred in the interval between verse 1 and verse 2 that caused the earth to be in the condition described in verse 2.

"Was," literally "became," or came to be. "Without form and void" is tohu wa vohu, a condition of emptiness, waste, and desolation. The earth was not created in this form: it became thus, due to some catastrophic event. The following Scriptures describe what took place to make the earth to become a waste and desolation: Ezekiel 28:12-17; Isaiah 14:12-14; Luke 10:18; Jeremiah 4:21-26. A powerful arch-angel whom God had created rebelled against God, refusing to acknowledge the Second Person of the Trinity as Lord, Heb 1:6. Because of Lucifer’s great wisdom and beauty, his heart was exalted in pride. He considered himself worthy of worship by Heaven’s other created beings, on an equality with God Himself.

Because of this pride, God cast Lucifer out of Heaven, and stripped him of his dominion over His material creation. Lucifer fell to Planet Earth, destroying it and rendering it an emptiness, waste, and desolation, in the same way that lightning devastates what it strikes. Lucifer became Satan, the adversary, the Devil, the destroyer, the arch-enemy of God and His entire plan for all creation.

How long the earth lay in this condition of waste and desolation, only God Himself knows. It was long enough to account for every geological age which science has determined.

"The Spirit of God moved," literally, "the Spirit of God brooded," upon the "face of the deep." The Spirit hovered over the chaotic, desolate earth, to bring about order from chaos.

Verses 3-5

Verses 3-5:

The "light" with which God dispelled the darkness which shrouded Planet Earth was possibly the Shekinah glory of His presence. This light appears to have illuminated Earth independent of the sun, moon, and stars, which were not installed as luminaries until Day Four. There are various theories regarding the nature of this primeval light. There appears to be no way to know for certain the exact nature of this light. Light is necessary for life on earth. Thus, on the first day of Earth’s reconstruction God decreed, "Let light be; and light was."

"And the evening and the morning were the first day." This appears to be the beginning of time as we know it. Time is measured segments of eternity. This first reference to a "day" suggests that until this point, time, as we know it, did not exist. Time measures existence in terms of years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds. The text implies that time had its beginning at this point. There is no way to calculate the prior span of creation’s existence, since our calculations must be made in the sphere and frame of time.

"Day" is yom, and is universally recognized as a period of twenty-four hours. There appears to be no valid reason to interpret the "days" of Genesis 1 as eras made up of hundreds or thousands of years.

Verses 6-8

Verses 6-8:

"Firmament" is hashamayim, "uplifted waters." This evidently refers to the atmosphere surrounding Earth, and it shows how the atmosphere was formed. In its chaotic state (verse 2), waters completely covered Earth. On Day Two God separated these waters, moving a portion of them into space above Earth and leaving a portion to cover the surface. Between these masses of water was the "firmament," the visible heavens in which the clouds form and the birds fly. This sketch illustrates how this could have happened. GRAPHIC HERE IN HARDBOUND COMMENTARY.

The division of. waters and forming of the atmosphere enveloping Earth are the extent of God’s restoration activity on Day Two.

Verses 9-13

Verses 9-13:

GRAPHIC IN HARDBOUND COMMENTARY

On Day Three, following the division of waters on Earth and formation of the visible heavens, God re-arranged the waters remaining on Earth into "one place," forming the seas and the dry land. It is suggested that the dry land was all in one mass, as were the the waters, forming only one continent and one sea or ocean (Proverbs 8:27-29). If so, the various continents and islands were formed later, due to some catastrophe of nature. The flood of Noah’s day could have been this event (Genesis 6, 7, 8).

"Bring forth ... after his kind." This is the "law of the harvest," which decrees, "Like produces like." This law applies to all areas of life: physical, emotional, and spiritual, Ga 6:7, 8. One does not plant corn and reap beans. Neither does one plant the seeds of rebellion and reap a harvest of peace and joy.

"Upon the earth" implies that the seeds which sprouted were already in the ground, lying dormant until proper conditions of growth could prevail. This supports the belief of the perfect creation, which Lucifer wrecked following his sin and expulsion from Heaven.

In the pattern of reconstruction, God established the chain of life on this planet. The basic life-forms, plants, are for the life-support of animal life. God placed these basic forms first on Earth, to be here for the sustenance of the life He would place here later. This was the scope of His activity on Day Three.

Verses 14-19

Verses 14-19:

"Lights" denote "luminaries," here used in the sense or light carriers, as lamps The sun, moon, and stars were not created on the fourth day, as the sources of light. God brought light to the darkness and desolation of Earth on Day Two. The sun, moon, and stars were already in existence. On Day Two, God designated them to be the centers of radiated light. Their function: to "rule" (regulate) the day and night. This was to be a continuing arrangement, for the duration of time. The heavenly luminaries were designated as agents to "divide" or separate between light and darkness, day and night.

"Signs" othoth, a mark or anything engraved (Genesis 4:15; 2 Kings 20:8), used to designate a warning or instruction (Sep. semeion). This could refer to the use of the stars by mariners and other navigators, as well as to the use of the moon by farmers to indicate ideal planting and harvest conditions. These "signs" have nothing to do with the practice of astrology, an activity God strongly condemns (Isaiah 47:13-14; Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Leviticus 19:26).

"Seasons" moradhim, set times; used to define the annual returning periods of nature. "Days and years" refers to the calculation of time. God chose the sun, the "greater light" to judge or rule (mashal) the day, and the moon, the "lesser light" to rule the night. The concept of the ancients was geocentric. They thought of the earth as the center of the universe. To them the sun and moon appeared much larger than the stars. The sacred record emphasizes that sun, moon, stars, and earth alike are the handiwork of God, not the product of evolution.

God did not create the sun and moon and stars on Day Four. He decreed on the fourth day that they would be the regulators of light and darkness, day and night, seasons, and chronological time.

Verses 20-23

Verses 20-23:

"And God said." This phrase affirms that all creatures of sea and air came into being by the direct command of God. They did not begin as protoplasm and slowly evolve from one species to another to form the multitude of complex organisms in Nature today.

"Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature." Literally, "Let the waters swarm with swarmers." This literal rendering does two things: (1) it affirms that living creatures (as opposed to plants) appeared first in the waters; and (2) it affirms that they were the result of Divine creation, not of evolution from primitive cells in the water.

"That hath life," nephesh chayyah, a living breath or a breath of life. This distinguishes the sea-creatures from prior creations, particularly vegetation. The life-principle of the animal creation differs from that of the vegetable kingdom. The protoplasmic cells of plants may appear similar to those of animals, but the two are generically different. One never produces the other. Creatures of the animal kingdom have respiratory organs, while plants do not. "Fowl that may fly" is literally, "let winged creatures fly." This refers to all creatures with wings, capable of raising themselves into the air in the expanse above the earth. One may get the idea from the English translation that these fowl originated in the waters, but this is not true, as Genesis 2:19 indicates.

"Great whales," tanninim, a word used of serpents (Exodus 7:9; the crocodile, Ezekiel 29:3), describing huge creatures of the sea in general, both aquatic and amphibian. This describes the first class of the creatures of verse 20. The second is "every living creature which moveth." The verb "moveth" ramas is "creepeth" and describes all kinds of creeping, wriggling creatures, large or small.

"And God blessed them," or wished them well, signifying prosperity and abundance. This refers primarily to their propagation and proliferation. This benediction still applies today. It is evident in the short gestation period and the remarkable abundance of offspring of these various creatures.

The science of geology agrees with the Scripture account by confirming that marine animals and fowls preceded land creatures in the origin of life on Earth. Just as God designed, life continues in unbroken succession since He first introduced it on this planet. True science agrees with Scripture regarding God’s creative activities on Day Five.

Verses 24-25

Verses 24, 25

Day Six, like Day Five, witnessed the production of two created kinds of life: land animals, and man. "Living creature," nephesh chayyak, animated beings having breath. "Cattle," behemah, a dumb animal; grass-eating quadrupeds. "Creeping thing," remes; a moving animal, smaller life-forms that move, such as worms, insects, reptiles, land-creepers. "Beast" of the earth, chayyah of the earth; the wild, carnivorous creatures. These three orders of created beings received the command to multiply and fill the earth with their offspring, each after his own kind. This is evidence of Divine, instantaneous creation, as opposed to evolution. Each species reproduces after its own kind; none develops as the result of evolving from one form to another. Science (so-called) continues to look in vain for the "missing link" they think which would prove progression by evolution from a lower to a higher form of life.

Verses 26-31

Verses 26-31:

God created man as a separate act, a creature different from any He had ever made. This refutes the theory of the evolution of man from some other form of animal life. Man came into being as the only creation of God made in His own image, and after His own likeness. "Image" includes the idea of likeness, but adds to it the concept of outward manifestation and representation. "Likeness" denotes similarity, conformity to its object. The two terms are not identical, but they are related in meaning. They picture man as having both the outward appearance and the inward characteristics of his Creator. No other creature has this distinction. God is a triune (threefold) Being; man, made in His image (outward appearance) and likeness (inner characteristics) is a triune (threefold) being.

Figure A illustrates the nature and being of animal life. Figure B illustrates the Triune God. Figure C shows man’s image and likeness of God. FIGURES “A-C” IN HARDBOUND COMMENTARY.

God’s immediate purpose for man was two-fold: (1) to have dominion over Planet Earth and all creatures in it; and (2) to “multiply and replenish" or to multiply and fill Earth with his offspring. The English word "replenish" or to multiply and fill Earth with his offspring. The English word "replenish" may be, misleading. It could be interpreted to imply a race of human beings before Adam. This misleading interpretation is cleared up with proper understanding of the literal meaning of the original term, which is "fill." There was no human being prior to Adam’s creation, either on Earth or anywhere else in all God’s creation, 1 Corinthians 15:45. God’s instructions to the first human pair were limited by specific bounds. First, man is to have authority over Earth and everything in it, see Psalm 8. This does not give him license to exploit Earth and it’s resources for his own selfish ends. It entails certain responsibilities and requires accountability. Inherent this commission is protection. Man is Earth’s caretaker, to see after its welfare and to account to God for this. God has never repealed this directive. Men today are still responsible and accountable for their dominion over Earth.

By direct creation, God made the first human pair. He is perfect, and can only produce perfection. Thus, Adam and Eve were flawless, in every aspect of life: physical, mental, and spiritual. This refutes the theories of origins that pictures primitive man as some coarse, jut-jawed, ignorant creature incapable of rational thought and behavior. After their creation, God set in motion the laws of human reproduction, by which other human beings would come into the world.

Verse 29 implies that the first human beings were vegetarians. God provided their "meat," or food, from the herbs and plants and trees which grew on Earth. This provision contained every nutrient necessary for man’s physical well-being. This indicates that as man cared for the earth, so would the earth provide for his needs. God set in order the delicate balance of nature, which evidences His wisdom and the perfection of His design. When God completed His creative work with the crowning achievement of His power, man, He surveyed all He had done. He pronounced it (literally), "Lo, good very!" Not merely good, but exceedingly good. This benediction applies to the entire scope of God’s creative work, and not to mankind alone. It is God’s own expression of admiration toward the work of His hands - the entire scope of creation, and not of man alone. This benediction refutes the idea of evolution. If the universe and all in it came into being as the result of development from chaos to order, then God could not have said it was "very good!" For chaos and disorder are bad. If the universe developed from chaos to order, then God would have found it necessary to say, "It is improving," but never, "It is very good!"

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-1.html. 1985.