These introductions to various books of the Bible are produced in conjunction with the Rooted in the Word Journal for Harrisburg Baptist Church. As you read through the Bible each book is introduced in a way that helps you to understand the context of the book and how it relates to the gospel and Jesus Christ.
The book of Genesis is very long, but this introduction is short for a couple of reasons:
- The intent is to be brief and get the ball rolling. For more in-depth conversations about Genesis, follow along with our Rooted Podcast.
- I want you to read the book of Genesis, and if we walk through all of the details in the introduction, you may feel like you “get it” and miss the blessing of God’s Word.
The book of Genesis doesn’t have a named author, but Moses wrote it according to the New Testament. (References in John and Acts to Moses giving the people instructions about circumcision & the law through the book of Genesis.)
Based on the timing of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, the book of Genesis can be reasonably dated to the 15th Century (1400’s BC).
Genesis is a part of the first five books of the Bible called the Pentateuch, which is a combination of history and law explaining the origin of the laws they were to follow.
When it comes to the central theme of Genesis, you might want to say that it’s a book about creation. When I ask the question, most people initially say the theme is creation. But, consider that there are 50 chapters in Genesis and creation only takes up two chapters when you realize that you begin to see that there is so much more to this first book in the Bible. The focus of the book of Genesis is on the God of creation and covenants, the one who is Faithful and True.
Genesis begins with creation, tells the story of the fall, and promises redemption. Next, genesis outlines the story of the world, the redemptive work of God through the lines of Seth and Shem, and the covenants God makes with Noah and Abraham.
Context is essential to understanding. Knowing who said it, why it was said, and who it was told to provides the necessary information for understanding the passage.
The people of God had spent hundreds of years in captivity in Egypt. They lived for generations surrounded by the Egyptians’ false religion and religious practices. As they make their way from Egypt to the promised land, Moses records the mighty works of God for the benefit and strengthening of the people of God. Through the book of Genesis, God reveals who He is, how the world came to be, and the promises that He has made to those who belong to Him.
Genesis means beginning; this great book of Scripture records so much more than the work of creation. The book of Genesis records for us the history of redemption. Genesis reveals to a faithful and true God. By the time Moses writes, Genesis God has made promises to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Moses writes to those experiencing the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in their freedom and the journey they are making to the land that was promised to the descendants of Abraham.
As you read through the book of Genesis, keep in mind that everything lost in the Garden of Eden is gained in Christ. The rest promised to Abraham and Moses in the promised land is truly gained in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Genesis is the beginning, Genesis teaches us that paradise was lost through the first Adam, but in Genesis 3, God whispers the promise of a coming redeemer that would overcome the enemy and give back what was lost. Genesis teaches us that paradise was lost, but the rest of the Bible reveals that what was lost by the first Adam is restored by the last Adam- Jesus Christ.
Resources for article:
K. A. Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26, vol. 1A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996).
- David S. Dockery, ed., Holman Concise Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998).
- Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: Genesis (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009).
- James Montgomery Boice, Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 13.