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.