Overview of the book of Genesis

1. The Title of Genesis

2. The Author of Genesis

3. The Date of Genesis

4. The Theme of Genesis

5. The Purpose of Genesis

6. The Structural Outline of Genesis

7. The Contents of Genesis

8. Genesis and the Heresies

9. Genesis and Systematic Theology

10. Jesus Christ in the book of Genesis


I. The Title of Genesis


The name of the first book of the Old Testament in Hebrew Bible is בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית, means “In the Beginning.” When the Old Testament was translated into Greek, which is called Septuagint (LXX), they chose the book title “Genesis,” which means “Origin.”1

It is often translated as “the generation of …”


According to this arrangement, the book of Genesis can be divided into the following parts:2


1. Creation: (Gen 1:1-2:3)

2. The generation of the heavens and the earth (Gen 2:4-4:26)

3. The generation of Adam (Gen 5:1-6:8)

4. The generation of Noah (Gen 6:9-9:29)

5. The generation of Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen 10:1-11:9)

6. The generation of Shem (Gen 11:10-26)

7. The generation of Terah (Gen11:27-25:11)

8. The generation of Ishmael (Gen 25:12-18)

9. The generation of Isaac (Gen 25:19-35:29)

10. The generation of Esau (Gen 36:1-8)

11. The generation of Esau, the father of Edomites (Gen 36:9-37:1)

12. The generation of Jacob (Gen 37:2-50:26)


The title Genesis is appropriate since it summarizes the origins almost for all things, including the origin of the universe, mankind, sin, death, the cultures, the nations, and the beginning of salvation. It also gives the account of the first man, the first woman, the first marriage, the first murder, etc.


“Genesis is written with the presupposition that God exists and that He has revealed Himself in word and deed to Israel’s ancestors. The book does not argue for the existence of God, it simply asserts that everything exists because of God.”2


II. Author


“The first five books of the Bible---Genesis, Exodus, Levites, Numbers and Deuteronomy---are known as Torah, the Law, or Pentateuch. The Torah has long been ascribed to Moses.” 1 Therefore, it is widely accepted that Moses penned the book of Genesis.


1. “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” (Acts 7:22)

2. The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, Exod 33:1

3. Internal evidence of the Pentateuch, Exod 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num 33:1-2; Deut 31:9.

4. Internal evidence of other OT books, Josh 1:7-8; Judges 3:4; 1 Kings 2: 3; 2 Kings 14: 6.

5. Affirmation of Lord Jesus in the NT, Matt 5:17-18; 19:3-8; Mark 7:10; John 5:46-47.

6. Paul’s quotation in NT, Acts 28:23.


“Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.” (Exod 24:4)


“Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."” (Exod 34:27)


“So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests.” (Deut 31:9)


“Observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses.” (1 Kings 2:3)


“Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” (Matt 19:8)


“If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.” (John 5:46)

"This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." (Luke 24:44)


III. Date


~1420 B.C.


Genesis was written after the Exodus (1446 B.C.) and before the death of Moses (1406 B.C.)


IV. Theme


The origin of the universe and the nation Israel is recorded to disclose the grand program of God’s plan of salvation for the mankind after its fall.


V. Purpose


Provide the historical background of Israel as God's chosen people and declare the historical position of the nation of Israel in God's plan of salvation.


Genesis is the foundation of the Pentateuch and all the rest of the Bible. “Genesis gives Israel the theological and historical basis for her existence as God’s chosen people. The contents of Genesis would assure the Israelites that God had promised them such a future. (Genesis presents) God as the sovereign Lord over the universe who will move the heavens and the earth to establish His will.”


VI. Structural Outline of Genesis


Four Events, Four Peoples:


A. Primeval History (chapters 1-11)


1. Creation (ch. 1-2)

2. Fall (ch. 3-5)

3. Flood (ch. 6-9)

4. Tower of Babel (ch. 10-11)


B. Patriarchal History (ch. 12-50)


1. Abraham (ch. 12-23)

2. Isaac (ch. 24-26)

3. Jacob (ch. 27-36)

4. Joseph (ch. 37-50)


VII. The Contents of Genesis


A. Primeval History (chapters 1-11)


1. Creation (ch. 1-2)


1) "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

2) God is eternal: (Gen 1:1; Rev. 1:8)

3) The world has its beginning and ending: (Isa 46:10; 2 Pet 3:10)

4) God creates the universe and everything in it: (Ps 33:9; Heb 11:3, John 1:1-3; Col 1:16)

5) The perfection of God's creation: (Ps 89:11)

6) God manifests Himself through creation: Order; authority, power, glory, wisdom, love.


2. Fall (ch. 3-5)


1) The origin of sin (Gen 3:1-6; 1 John 2:16; Matt 4:1-11)

2) The consequences of sin (Gen 3:7-13): Shame, cover up, Escape, Fear, Excuse, Alienation.

3) The Judgment of Sin (3:14-19)


a. The judgment on the snake (Gen 3:14)

b. The judgment of Satan (Gen 3:15)

c. The judgment of women (Gen 3:16)

d. The judgment of men (Gen 3:17; 19)

e. The Judgment of all mankind (Gen 3:17; 19)

f. The Judgment of the entire creation (Gen 3:17-18; Rom 8:22)


4) The Redemption of sin (Gen 3:15;20-24)


3. Flood (ch. 6-9)


Noah’s Ark (Gen 6-9; cf. 1 Pet 3:20; 2 Pet 2:5; Matt 24:37-39; 2 Pet 3:7-10)


4. Tower of Babel (ch. 10-11)


1) National History (Gen 10)

2) Tower of Babel incident (Gen 11:1-9)

3) Genealogy from Shem to Abram (Gen 11:10-32)


B. Patriarchal History (ch. 12-50)


1. Abraham (ch. 12-23)


1) Abraham’s calling (Gen 12:1-9)

The Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-7; 18-21; 17:1-8)

2) Abraham went to Egypt (Gen 12:10-20)

3) Abraham and Lot separated (13)

4) Abraham rescued Lot (14)

5) Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 15): Unconditional

6) Abraham Married Hagar (Gen 16)

7) God confirmed the covenant with Abraham (Gen 17)

8) The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18-19)

9) Abraham's weakness (Gen 20)

10) Isaac was born (Gen 21)

11) Abraham’s offering of Isaac (Gen 22)

12) The death of Abraham (Gen 25)


2. Isaac (ch. 24-26)


1) Isaac married with Rebekah (Gen 24)

2) The death of Abraham (Gen 25)

3) Jacob and Esau (Gen 25)

4) Isaac’s weakness (Gen 26)


3. Jacob (ch. 27-36)


1) Jacob defrauded the blessing (Gen 27)

2) Jacob Escaped from Esau (Gen 28): Jacob's dream

3) Jacob and Laban (Gen 29-30): Jacob's children

4) Jacob returned to Canaan (Gen 31-33): Jacob wrestled with God

5) Jacob in Canaan (Gen 34-35)

6. Esau’s Genealogy (Gen 36)


4. Joseph (ch. 37-50)


1) Joseph was sold to Egypt (Gen 37)

2) Judas and Tamar (Gen 38)

3) Joseph in the house in Potiphar (Gen 39)

4) Joseph interpreted dreams for the cupbearer and baker (Gen 40)

5) Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh (Gen 41)

6) Joseph and his brothers (Gen 42-45)

7) Jacob’s family went Egypt (Gen 46-47)

8) Joseph’s sons of Manasseh and Ephraim (Gen 48)

9) Jacob pronounced prophetic blessings upon his twelve sons (Gen 49)

10) Joseph's death (Gen 50)


VIII. Genesis refutes all kinds of heresy


“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1)


This is the most important and most difficult verse in the Bible. If you can believe that God creates the heavens and earth, then no other Bible verse should be a problem to understand, you will easily accept the facts that God raises the dead to life and causes the virgin to conceive, and therefore the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ will no longer be a question.


In Gen 1:1, all other false religions are rejected: 1


Atheism: there is no God.


Agnosticism: not know whether God exists.


Dualism: Good and evil are eternally co-existent.


Evolutionism: all species---which are originated from inorganic matters---are related and gradually change over time (e.g. Ape gradually became man over a long period of time.)


Humanism: Man is the measure of all things.


Materialism: Matter is the only reality.


Open Theism: God is finite.


Pantheism: all is god, god and creation are the same things.


Skepticism: Doubt of the truth of all things, especially about the truth of God.


Unitarianism: God is an absolute unity.


Evolutionism is false:


“The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds…. So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.” (Gen 1:12; 21)

God created all things “according to their kinds.”


Kerkut (An Evolutionist): “The general theory of evolution (GTE) is defined as the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form.”


Therefore, Evolutionism is wrong, it is a ridiculous hypothesis, and ultimately it is a lie.

LGBTQ is wrong:


“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen 1:27)


God created only male and female, therefore, LGBTQ is wrong.


Homosexual is wrong:


“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24)


So marriage is a union of a man and a woman, thus homosexual and same sex marriage is wrong, it is sin and rebellious against God.


By the way, it was recorded in the book of Genesis that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed due to the sin of homosexual. (Gen 19:1-16; see: Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:18-32; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10)


IX. Genesis and Systematic Theology


Genesis is the foundation of the Christianity, almost all the Christian doctrine can be traced back to this first book of the Bible---Genesis. 1


1. Bibliology: Doctrine of the Scripture


“Genesis sets the scene for the big picture of the Bible---Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration.”


God created the universe and mankind, when Adam fell, God promised a Redeemer (Gen 3:15) and continues to work out His plan of salvation by making covenant with Noah and Abraham, the ancestors of the coming Redeemer.


2. Theology Proper: Doctrine of God


God is revealed as Creator (Gen 1:1);

God as Lawgiver (Gen 2:17; 9:4-6);

God as Judge (Gen 3:14-19; Gen 6-8; 11;18-19);

God as Savior (Gen 3:15);

God’s various Names in the book of Genesis.


3. Christology: Doctrine of Christ.


Messianic Prophecy: Gen 3:15; 22:18; 49:10.


“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen 3:15, NKJV)


The Messiah was called woman’s Seed, thus the virgin birth of Christ was foretold in this verse.


"In your Seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." (Gen 22:18)


“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.” (Gal 3:16, NKJV)


“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” (Gen 49:10)


The Angel of the Lord---The Preincarnate Christ, which is called Theophany or Christophany.


4. Pneumatology: Doctrine of the Holy Spirit


The Holy Spirit was active in creation: (Gen 1:2)

The Holy Spirit strives against sin (Gen 6:3)

Trinity: Doctrine of Triune God.

Genesis contains the implicit hint of the Trinity: Gen 1:1-2; 1:26; 11:7; 19:24; The Angel of the Lord (Gen 22:11).


5. Angelology: Doctrine of Angels


Satan: Gen 3:1-15, Rev 12:9;

Angels: Gen 3:24.


6. Anthropology: Doctrine of Man.


1) God created male and female in His image (Gen 1:26);

2) Adam has his body and spirit aspect (Gen 2:7);

3) Mankind’s sinless original state (Gen 1:28; 2:15; 2:24)

4) Man fell into sin (Gen 3:1-8); work becomes toil (3:17-18); male-female relationship marred (3:16)

5) Death is the ultimate punishment of sin (Gen 3:19; Gen 5)

6) Origin of nations (Gen 10)

7) Origin of languages (Gen 11)

8) Origin of Israel (Gen 10-50)


Genesis starts with perfect creation and the beginning of life, but ends with a coffin of Joseph, a sad story, which points to the need of redeemer---Jesus Christ.


7. Hamartiology: Doctrine of sin.


“It is impossible to understand sin without Genesis.”1

Adam’s fell: Gen 3:1-19; Rom 5:12-21; and the Redeemer is promised after Adam’s fell.

The first murder: Gen 4:1-8.

Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction of sexual sin. Gen 19:1-26.

The root of sin is the rebellious against God.


8. Soteriology: Doctrine of Salvation.


Salvation is by grace through faith (Gen 6:8; 15:6; Gen 17; see Eph 2:8-9)

Substitutional atonement: (Gen 3:21; 4:4; 4:10; Heb 9:22; Isa 53)

The Substitutionary sacrifice is seen in Gen 22 when Abraham is directed to offer a ram as a burnt offering instead of his son Isaac.

The ultimate Substitute must be fully human (Heb 2:11-18) and divine (Isa 53:10), Genesis teaches this dual nature of the Messiah (Gen 3:15; 4:1; see 1 Tim 2:5)


9. Ecclesiology: Doctrine of the Church.


The Church, comprising both Jews and Gentiles in the Messianic Seed (Gen 12:3), share the spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant through the Seed.

The Church is the Bride of Christ, which refers to Gen 2:24 (Eph 5:31-32).


10. Eschatology: Doctrine of Last Things.


The last things include the second coming of Christ, future resurrection of the dead, judgment of all mankind, the eternal state, etc.


“It is impossible to understand the end times at all without the understanding how God set this plan in motion in Genesis. …in one sense, the end of the Bible comes full circle around the beginning, but with the improvement that man will no longer be able to sin.”1 (Gen 1-3 vs Ren 20-22)


X. Jesus Christ in the book of Genesis


In addition to the Messianic prophecies in Genesis (Gen 3:15; 22:18; 49:10), there are also a lot of events and figures in Genesis point to Jesus Christ, i.e. the typology of Christ.


1. Events in Genesis as Typology of Christ:


1) Noah’s Ark (Gen 6-8)

2) Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22)

3) Jacob’s ladder in a dream (Gen 28)

“He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."” (John 1:51)


2. Figures in Genesis as Typology of Christ:


1) Adam (Gen 2:7; Rom 5:14; 1 Cor 15:22; 45)

2) Malchizedek (Gen 14; Heb 7)

3) Isaac (Gen 22)

4) Joseph (Gen 42-50)


The Parallels between Joseph and Jesus Christ:3

1) A holy life,

2) Dearly loved by father,

3) shepherd of father’s sheep,

4) hatred by brothers,

5) obedience to Father,

6) sent by father to his brothers,

7) betrayed by brothers,

8) tempted but not sin,

9) taken to Egypt,

10) sold for the price of a slave,

11) falsely accused,

12) bound in chains,

13) wronged and not spoke a word,

14) saved the nation and keens-men,

15) exalted to the highest after suffering,

16) suffering in body, soul, and spirit,

17) placed with two prisoners, one saved and one lost,

18) Appear to the brothers,

19) forgive and accept brothers,

20) wept for the loved ones,

21) love for brothers,

22) tenacity and fortitude,

23) humble to glory,

24) intelligent and wisdom,

25) pleased with God and man,

26) worshiped by all,

27) trust in God's promise,

28) 30 years old at the beginning of public recognition,

29) Others’ obedience,

30) filled with the Holy Spirit,

31) change people's lives,

32) perfect character,

33) what men did evil to them, God turned to good.


Praise the Lord!


1. Jonathan D. Sarfati, The Genesis account, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, Georgia 2015)

2. Allen P. Ross, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1985 ChariotVictor Publishing, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80919)

3. John MacArthur, John MacArthur Bible Commentary, Thomas Nelson, 1982)

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