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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 1

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-2


Genesis is written around 1450 BC by Moses, in the Sinai wilderness.

In Hebrew this book is called ‘Bereshith’, which means ‘in the beginning’, after the first words with which this book begins. In Greek it is called Genesis, which means ‘birth’, or ‘origin, or ‘becoming’.

It is rightly the book of the beginning. We find the origin of all things in it. This book tells us, among other things, about the origins of heaven and earth, the institution of marriage and family, the first sin and, as a result, the death, the first sacrifice, the judgment, the origins of nations, of the Hebrew race, of the covenant and circumcision, of the heavenly priesthood.

We will search in vain for the origin of God. God has no beginning. He is the eternal God Who was “in the beginning” (John 1:1; Psalms 90:2).

All truths that appear in the following books of the Bible are already indicated in this book. A truth can be communicated directly, a truth can also be presented in pictures. Some examples of the first: creation, man and his fall into sin, the power of satan. Some examples of the second: salvation – God clothed man after his fall in sin with the skin of an animal, which refers to the substitute death of the Lord Jesus; the resurrection – in the history of Abraham and Isaac; the reign of a rejected Lord on the throne of the world – in the history of Joseph.

Strikingly beautiful is the way in which God personally makes Himself known to man in this book. Thus He comes to Adam in the cool of the evening (Genesis 3:8), announces to Noah His intention about the flood (Genesis 6:13) and visits Abraham and speaks with him (Genesis 18:1; Genesis 18:10-2 Chronicles :). He does not use prophets or priests here, but He Himself comes into the confidentiality with which a man treats his friend. In this book we experience the living, tangible proximity of God to His creature.

Division of the book

Genesis can be divided into seven parts, according to the seven patriarchs that appear in it (other divisions are also possible):
1. Genesis 1-4 Adam
2. Genesis 5(:21) Enoch
3. Genesis 6-11 Noah
4. Genesis 12-23 Abraham
5. Genesis 24-26 Isaac
6. Genesis 27-36 Jacob
7. Genesis 37-50 Joseph

The Creator of Heaven and Earth

God created everything (Isaiah 45:12; Zechariah 12:1; Ephesians 3:9). When people make something, they need material. God not. He does not need anything outside of Himself. He is not part of His creation. He creates from His own omnipotence (Romans 4:17). Through creation we know that God is there: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Romans 1:20; Psalms 19:1).

God is the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not the Father does the work of creation, but the Son (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2). No one was present at the creation of heaven and earth (Job 38:4). After all, there was nothing yet. What we read in this chapter can therefore only be understood by faith: “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

Some commentators assume that a certain time has elapsed between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. In the meantime, the fall of satan would have taken place. For others, there is no time between the two verses, but the story of creation continues. To see the acts of creation as an ongoing story has been a problem for me for some time because of the word “formless”. In my opinion it could not be that God had created the earth “formless and void” (Isaiah 45:18). A plausible explanation for me was therefore, that there had to be some time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 with as event the fall of satan, which would have caused this formlessness and void.

As a result of the input in a Bible study, I started thinking about it again. God can create something that is ‘formless and void’ and continue to work with it. In this connection a verse from Psalm 139 came to me, which says: “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained [for me], When as yet there was not one of them” (Psalms 139:16). There is an “unformed substance” of the life that God gives in the womb and allows to grow further. This has solved this problem for me.

It is sometimes formulated in this way: ‘God first tells us in Genesis 1:1 what He does, to tell us from Genesis 1:2 how He does it.’ That seems to me to be a good reflection of what Genesis 1 is all about.

Then we see that God continues to work. His Spirit “moving over the surface of the waters”. This ‘moving’ has the meaning of ‘breeding’ and then we think of new life that will appear later. As said, the Lord Jesus, God the Son, is the Creator. There is “one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things” (1 Corinthians 8:6). And He does everything through the Holy Spirit.

Verses 3-5

The First Day

In the middle of the darkness a powerful voice is heard. God speaks. His first word is: “Let there be light!” The result is immediate: “And there was light” (cf. Psalms 33:6; Psalms 33:9). When God speaks, His might and power are revealed.

God looks at His work and concludes that it is good. This announcement shows God’s commitment to His work. He does not look at it to see if there is any unevenness. He is perfect and everything He does is perfect. The project is not only good in itself, but also serves a good goal.

God gives everything a name. In that name He expresses the character, the nature of it. This is how we can recognize things. Man is wise to call the things as God calls them (cf. Isaiah 5:20). The first day is bordered by evening and morning. Because of this we know that the days of creation are ordinary days of twenty-four hours, as we still know them.

If we read Genesis 1 without prejudice, we can only conclude that God created heaven and earth in six literal days (Exodus 20:11). There is spoken about day and night and about “and there was evening and there was morning”. The Hebrew word for day, yom, as a separate word, is in all cases ‘day’ in the ordinary sense of the word (Genesis 8:22; Genesis 29:7, as opposed to ‘night’). Knowing the truth exposes the lie. Every theory of origin that deviates from the account in Genesis 1, we can send to the realm of fables.

Genesis 1:3 is applied by Paul to the work of God in the darkened heart of a sinner: “For the God who said, “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). From this we learn that what happened literally and historically also contains a spiritual application. In this way, during the days of creation, we discover a process that takes place in someone who comes to repentance.

This process begins in the sinner who is in darkness: “For you were formerly darkness” (Ephesians 5:8). The Spirit begins to work at the heart of such a person, to ‘breed’. Then comes the moment when the sinner discovers that he is in darkness and needs light. Then God lets His light shine in the heart. This makes all anger and dirt public. By repentance and conversion new life comes.

Verses 6-8

The Second Day

In the light that is created, the prevailing disorder or formlessness is seen. In the disorderly mass of water of Genesis 1:2, God, by means of a separation, brings order. He speaks for the second time His commanding “let there be”. By His command the atmosphere is created with the observation “and it was so”. As a result, there is water below and there is water above the expanse. It is striking that it does not say: “And God saw that it was good.” On the other days it says so. Although, at the end of all creation days, so including this second day, it says: “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

This second day also has its significance in the spiritual development of someone who has been converted. When someone is converted, he gets a new nature. From that moment on he has an old and a new nature. That old nature someone only loses when the Lord comes or when he dies.

Through Bible teaching, especially the letter to the Romans, the converted man learns to live according to his new nature. There he also learns what God has done with the old nature. He learns by this that there is a separation between the two natures. In the practice of faith life, this learning process can give rise to many conflicts (Romans 7:15-Psalms :; Romans 7:24). But it is not God’s ultimate goal with the believer’s life that he continues to wrestle and worry with the ancient nature. This is evident from the following days.

Verses 9-13

The Third Day

Again God causes a separation. He lets the dry land appear from the water. Again He gives the names to His work: He calls the dry “earth” and the gathered waters He calls “seas”. By this He also borders the waters (Proverbs 8:29; Jeremiah 5:22).

That is not the end of the third day. God speaks twice on this day. He wants fruit to appear on earth. Man will be allowed to enjoy that. In the fruit itself He puts seed, through which new fruit comes. The fruit will multiply. God is a God of multiplication, of abundance.

The third day in the life of the believer is characterized by fruit bearing. He has accepted God’s teaching about the old and the new nature. The conflict of the second day is over. He stands on solid ground, on dry land. The third day in the Bible speaks of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Whoever sees that the Lord Jesus not only died and was buried for his sins, but was also raised up on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-Numbers :), has peace with God: “Those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, [He] who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 4:24-Lamentations :; Romans 5:1). There comes peace in his heart. He knows Himself secure in the Lord Jesus and accepted by God. The new life will bear fruit (John 15:5), fruit which is to the glory of God (John 15:8).

Verses 14-19

The Fourth Day

The fourth day we can connect with the first day. On the first day the light is created; on the fourth day God makes the celestial bodies or light bearers. In that the sun not only provides light, but also warmth. The celestial bodies are subject to God and are known by name by Him (Isaiah 40:26). They should never be worshipped (Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3).

Here again there is a separation that God makes. The lights are also signs of God’s greatness. He proposes them to determine the timeframe in days and years and regularly recurring periods in nature and the cycle of feasts in Israel.

In the spiritual development of the converted the fourth day is the stage of light bearing in the world. The sun represents the Lord Jesus (Malachi 4:2). He is “the Light of the world” (John 8:12). The believer is “Light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8) and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). The moon shines in the night. He gets his light from the sun. So it is with the believer. It is night in the world. In this the believer may pass on the light of the sun, the Lord Jesus. Stars also shine at night. God’s children shine like light bearers in the world, “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:15).

Do people see in us the difference between day and night, and can they perceive in us something of God’s greatness and how He reigns things in the world events?

Verses 20-23

The Fifth Day

The fifth day we can connect with the second day. By God’s command, life comes into the water and into the air. Fish and what can fly are created. God creates in a great diversity, both in size and in kind. The first form of animated life originates. The first four days give the conditions for life; on the fifth and sixth day life itself comes.

A second command from God is that life will multiply. Fish and birds must have many offspring. Water animals must fill the waters, birds must become numerous on earth.

With the fifth day we have reached the next aspect in spiritual development. Waters are a symbol for the trials in the life of faith. The waters of the second day symbolize inner struggle and doubt, despair sometimes. It is so to speak the waters within us. The inner struggle comes to an end as soon as the Lord Jesus is seen in faith. The waters of the fifth day symbolize outside battle (1 Peter 1:6). It is, so to speak, the waters around us, the circumstances in which we find ourselves. There may be peace within, but then the trials come from outside (Romans 5:3-Numbers :). The enemy will do everything in his power to shake faith.

The result that God wants to achieve with this is a life of faith that is ‘teeming’ with activities of faith. These faith activities in turn generate new works of faith, in the person himself or in others who see this and are encouraged by it.

We see this for example with Paul. His captivity encourages the Philippians: “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in [the cause of] Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (Philippians 1:12-2 Chronicles :).

Verses 24-25

The Sixth Day – the Animals

Just like on the third day it is about the earth on the sixth day. On the final day of God’s work, land animals and finally man are created. With the making of the animals all the preparatory work for the introduction of man has been done. In His creative work He works towards that. He creates an area in which man – man and woman – can feel optimally ‘at home’. For them He does all that.

Verses 26-28

The Sixth Day – Man

Also on the sixth day God speaks twice. The creation of man is introduced in a special way and explained in a special way. We hear the special introduction in the words “let Us make man”. It means that there has been consultation in God. The word “Us” indicates that God is triune.

The special explanation is that God creates man “in Our image, according to Our likeness”. We see the image of God in the position that man occupies as the head of creation: he is God’s representative in it. The likeness of God is expressed in man’s actions: he acts with insight into creation. Because of this high place of man we are called to honor all men (1 Peter 2:17; James 3:9), even though man has fallen into such decay by sin and is sometimes compared to an unreasoning animal (Jude 1:10; 2 Peter 2:12).

God creates man “male and female”. There is, so to speak, a male and a female variant of man. God has created one man, where that man is, as it were, a two-unity. Modern man makes frantic efforts to erase the distinction, but that is downright folly.

For the difference between man and woman, the attack on them and their rebuttal by means of the Word of God, see the booklet ‘Sexuality, a gift from God. Part 1’ on https://www.oudesporen.nl/Download/OS1021.pdf.]

“God blessed them” by saying to man that he may fill the earth and subdue it. This blessing is more than giving the strength to be fertile and to become numerous, as has been said of sea animals and birds (Genesis 1:22). It is also the power over the earth and all animals.

Verses 29-30

The Sixth Day – Food

After God has finished His deeds on the sixth day, He tells man what his food and that of the animals will be. For humans, this food is everything that carries seed from the crop and that carries fruit from the tree. This means that man feeds himself with what in himself has the power of life. That is for the body. The food for the soul is the Word of God (Matthew 4:4), which is also compared to seed, but then imperishable seed (1 Peter 1:23). The animals and birds get the green plants to eat.

The food of man does not originally include the meat of animals, nor do the animals eat each other. Violent killing of animals is not an issue. This will only happen when the fall into sin and the flood have occurred (Genesis 9:3). That there are originally no carnivorous and tearing animals is also proven by the state of the kingdom of peace.

When God’s kingdom is established and sin can no longer do its devastating work, the killing in the realm of the animals will stop: “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den” (Isaiah 11:6-Ruth :).

Verse 31

The Sixth day – Everything Was Very Good

After each day of creation, God said of the result: “It was good.” The sixth day is a unique day. If God sees the result of all His work on this day, He can record as a conclusion of all His work of creation: “And behold, it was very good.” This means that everything is perfect, so that every creature serves the purpose for which God created it.

In all of God’s actions in this chapter we see a picture of His plan with the world we live in now. God gave the earth to Adam and Eve to rule over it. Thus, soon He will be giving to Christ, “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45), together with the church of which Eve is a picture (2 Corinthians 11:2-Leviticus :), the government over all things in heaven and on earth, “the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth” (Ephesians 1:10). And so, “as Head over all things”, God “gave Him … to the church” (Ephesians 1:22).

Christ will then be the center of the universe. Everything shall be put under His feet (Psalms 8:4-1 Samuel :) and honor Him: “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, [be] blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever”” (Revelation 5:13).

In the spiritual development of the believer this is also the goal God works towards. He wants Christ to take form in every believer (Galatians 4:19), that he shows Christ in his deeds (2 Corinthians 3:3). If one’s life is only about Christ, in spiritual growth the ‘father’-stage is reached (1 John 2:13-2 Chronicles :).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 1". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/genesis-1.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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