A Survey of the Scriptures: Lesson 2 Genesis

A Survey of the Scriptures: Lesson 2 Genesis

Genesis is a book about origins. It gives the account of the origins of mankind and his world, of the origin of sin and its curse, and the beginnings of God’s plan to redeem man through His chosen people, Israel.

Genesis is not merely history. It is not intended to be a chronicle of events, a history for history’s sake, or even a complete biography of the nation. It is a theological interpretation of selected records of the ancestors of Israel. Genesis explains the causes behind the results. The book records God-planned and God-directed history. 1

Genesis describes FOUR MAJOR EVENTS:

1. creation 2. The fall of man

3. the flood 4. The Tower of Babel

Genesis describes FOUR IMPORTANT PEOPLE:

1. Abraham 2. Isaac

3. Jacob 4. Joseph

Note: Genesis records the history of actual people. It is not religious myth or legend.

[Why would some people suppose/believe that Genesis is a myth or legend? Because much modern science/philosophy disagree with it. We have to determine if we are going to believe what people say or what God says.]

Why is the book of Genesis so important?

1. It describes the origin of man. Cf. Gen 1:27

The fact that God created man gives him a purpose and meaning for life. Man’s ultimate purpose is to honor and obey God. Evolution is random and meaningless. Attempts to integrate the biblical record with evolution are bound to fail because the two systems are basically contradictory.

[What are some ways that the Genesis account and evolutionary theory are contradictory? The existence of God; the age of the earth; the origin of species; the purpose/meaning of life. These are basic, essential contradictions.]

It’s important that we retain a commitment to Genesis as an accurate account of what really happened. Genesis doesn’t record events in scientific terms, but it is an accurate account. If it’s not true, the Bible is not trustworthy.

2. Jesus believed that Genesis was true. Cf. Matt 24:37; John 8:58

[What if Jesus was wrong? He’s no savior. Maybe he was just accommodating the ignorance of the people who surrounded him. Again, this calls into question his claim to be the savior and the Son of God.]

3. Other books draw on the contents of Genesis. Cf. Matt 1:2f

Genesis is quoted about 60 times in the NT in 17 different books. The other biblical writers act as if Genesis was actually, literally true. If Genesis is wrong, then the other writers were either ignorant or wrong, and in any case not to be trusted. The whole Bible stands or falls with Genesis. The book is foundational to all that follows it.

The Theme of Genesis

Genesis gives Israel the theological and historical basis for her existence as God’s Chosen People. 2 The theme of Genesis is God’s providential care for His people. He created and sustained Adam, chose Abraham to be the patriarch of His people, and cared for this family from one generation to the next.

Genesis not only means ‘be­ginning’, but it is the book of beginnings. The book of Genesis gives us our historical point of reference, from which all subsequent revela­tion proceeds. In the book of Genesis all the major themes of the Bible have their origin. It is a book of many beginnings: in it we see the beginning of the universe, of man and woman, of human sin and the fall of the race, the begin­ning of God’s promises of salvation, and the beginning of the nation Israel as the chosen people of God because of God’s special purpose for them as the channel for the Messiah. In Genesis we learn about Adam and Eve, about Satan the tempter, about Noah, the flood, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph and his brothers. But here we also have the beginning of marriage, family, work, sin, murder, capitol punishment, sacrifice, races, languages, civilization and the Sabbath. The Bible is, through and through, a historical revelation. It is the account of God’s activity in history. 3

An Outline of Genesis:

1. God’s providential care of mankind in general (1-11)

a. The Creation (1-2)

b. The Fall of Man (3-5)

c. The Flood (6-9)

d. The Nations (10-11)

2. God’s providential care for the Nation of Israel (15-50)

a. Abraham (12-23)

b. Isaac (24-26)

c. Jacob (27-36)

d. Joseph (37-50)

Other Important Facts from Genesis:

1. The name Genesis is taken from the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament. “Genesis” is from a Greek word meaning “beginning” or “origin.”

2. Key words:

ü Beginning. The Hebrew title is “in the beginning.”

ü Generations or account. A key word or phrase is “these are the generations of” or “this is the account of.” It is used some eleven times to introduce the reader to the next section which gives the narrative about what happened in connection with the key events and persons of the book from the creation of the heavens and the earth to all the patriarchs of Israel.

3. Key chapter: 12 – the Abrahamic covenant. God’s agreement with Abraham and God’s dealings with Abraham’s family are the central emphasis of the book.

[By way of contrast, creation takes up only 2 chapters, and man’s early history prior to Abe takes up only 9 more chapters. The other 39 chapters deal with Abe and his family.]

4. Key passage: 12:1-3, the Abrahamic Covenant.

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

God promised to bless Abraham personally, to bless his descendants, and to bless the entire world through Abraham’s family. This covenant was eternal and unconditional. The rest of Genesis (and the rest of the Bible) shows how God did exactly what He promised to do.

5. Author: Moses. Both Scripture and tradition attribute the Pentateuch to Moses.

[Briefly explain the documentary hypothesis–JEDP]

6. Time of writing: most likely after the Exodus and before Israel entered the promised land, probably during the forty years in the wilderness, around 1425 BC

Genesis is a highly organized, structured book. After the prologues, Genesis is divided into ten parts marked out by the formula: “This is the genealogy [or history] of ….” This heading is followed by a genealogy of the person named or by stories involving his notable descendants. 4

Genuine Gems from Genesis

1. There is only one God, the creator and sustainer of all things.

  • Beginning with the opening lines of the book, the reader is faced with the Creator God, the One who made all things from nothing with the power of His will. This is the only one and true God. The first line of the book overturns all false views of God (e.g., atheism, polytheism, pantheism).
  • The world and the universe are dependent upon God. He created them and sustains them. They exist for God’s pleasure and are under His control. God rules over all creation.
  • God has revealed Himself in word and deed to man. His particular dealings are with the Jews. Genesis gives Israel the theological and historical basis for her existence as God’s chosen people.

2. God desires to enter into a relationship of loving sovereignty with people.

  • The majority of Genesis deals with a single family, that of Abraham and Sarah. The book records how God chose Abram and cared from his family. It is through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that the nation of Israel comes into existence.
  • God promised Abraham’s family an eternal seed, land and a kingdom. Genesis gives the background for the fulfillment of these promises.
  • God requires that men trust and obey Him. Like Abraham, those who trust God are counted as righteous. God blesses those who follow him and curses those who don’t.
  • Part of God’s requirement for maintaining a positive relationship with Him is substitutionary sacrifice for sin. From the very beginning, God required the shedding of blood to pay for sin. This foreshadows the final and ultimate sacrifice for sin when Jesus died on the cross.

3. God sovereignly controls all things, including the affairs of men.

  • God displays His sovereignty throughout the entire book. He wills the universe into existence, creates the first people, destroys the earth with a flood, confuses the languages, and chooses Abram’s family to be His people. God’s hand of guidance is clearly seen again and again. Nothing happens randomly. God is firmly in control of all things. What God promises He is able to fulfill.
  • A very prominent theme in Genesis is God’s unconditional choice of the Israelite nation through Abraham, which is described in the Abrahamic covenant (12:1-3; 15:1-21).


Much of what is begun in Genesis is fulfilled in Christ. He is the seed who will destroy Satan. He is the ultimate offspring promised to Abraham. Because of their union with Christ, believers participate in many of the blessings God promised to Abraham. The paradise lost by the first Adam is restored by the last Adam, Jesus Christ. Genesis explains the origins of God’s dealings with man and sets the stage for the rest of the Bible. If you don’t understand this book, the remaining 65 books will be closed to you.


1. Summarize the book of Genesis. Creation, fall, flood, Babel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph.

2. What is the major theme of Genesis? God’s providential care for His people.

3. Who is the main character in the book? Other than God, Abraham.

4. Why is Genesis such an important book? Because it gives the origins of everything and sets the stage for the rest of the Bible. All the other biblical books are based on Genesis.

  1. Allen P. Ross, Genesis, in the Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 21.
  2. Ross, p. 26.
  3. Keathley.
  4. New Geneva Study Bible, Intro to Genesis

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