The word Genesis is a Greek word meaning “beginnings.” It is certainly a fitting name for the book written to introduce salvation history and to provide the beginning history of the nation God chose to bring forth the promised Savior. Genesis provides the details of God’s creation of a perfect world and mankind’s subsequent fall into sin, resulting in God’s intervention to send a Savior from sin. From Adam and Eve to Noah to Abraham and his descendants we see the beginning of God’s activity to save the world from the sin that has infected it.
The rest of Scripture unquestionably attributes Genesis and the four books that follow it to Moses, the prophet we first meet in the book of Exodus. This is expressly supported by Jesus himself (see Mt 8:4; Mk 7:10, 12:26; Lk 16:29-31, 24:44; Jn 5:46-47), the gospel writers (e.g., Lk 2:22), the apostle Peter (see Ac 3:22-23), the apostle Paul (see Ac 13:38-39, 26:22) and others (see Mt 22:24; Ac 7:37; Heb 3:5). This is also stated throughout the Old Testament (see Jos 1:7, 8:31-35, 9:24, 11:12-15,20, 14:5-10, 20:2, 21:2,8, 22:5,9; Jdg 3:4; 1 Ki 8:53-56; 2 Ki 18:6,12, 21:8; 1 Chr 6:49, 15:15, 22:13; 2 Chr 8:13, 33:8, 34:14, 35:12; Ezra 3:2, 6:18, 7:6; Neh 1:7-8, 8:1,14, 9:14, 10:29, 13:1; Ps 103:7; Dan 9:11-13; Mal 4:4).
Purpose for writing
As stated above, this book gives us the beginning not only of the world, but of God’s saving activity from the fall into sin to the beginning history of the nation God chose to bring forth the Savior from sin. It also gives us many examples of God’s grace, his preservation of the promise of a Savior, men and women of faith to follow, and evidences of the depravity of mankind after the fall into sin.
Date of writing
There is much debate that surrounds the dating of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The traditional dating that is supported by biblical references is roughly 1446 BC. This date is arrived at by counting backward from the 4th year of King Solomon’s reign, dated at 967 or 966 BC by the majority of historians (through archaeological discoveries, particularly a list of Assyrian officials), 480 years (1 Kings 6:1) to 1446 BC. Following the biblical text itself, it seems Moses must have written the first five books of the Bible between the time of the Exodus (when God called him to be a prophet) and the arrival of the Israelites at the edge of the Promised Land 40 years later (when he died), and therefore the date of writing is believed to be between roughly 1446 BC and 1406 BC.
Place of writing
Since Moses must have written the first five books of the Bible between the time of the Exodus and the arrival of the Israelites at the edge of the Promised Land 40 years later, it is believed that he wrote them as the Israelites wandered in the desert between the two lands.
Jesus is the reason Moses wrote Genesis. God could have destroyed the world as punishment for Adam and Eve’s sin. But instead, God promised to send Jesus to undo Satan’s evil work. God said to Satan that Jesus “will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:15). Later, God chose the man Abram and his family to be the genealogical line of the coming Savior (Gen 12:3). Genesis is therefore the story of how God guided early history to fulfill his loving promise.
- Genesis 1:1
- Genesis 2:21-24
- Genesis 3:15
- Genesis 5:1-3
- Genesis 12:1-3
- Genesis 15:1
- Genesis 15:6
- Genesis 49:10
- Introduction to Salvation History: The Creation Account (Gen 1-2)
- The Fall into Sin and the Result (Gen 3-11)
- The Account of Abraham (Gen 12-23)
- The Account of Isaac (Gen 24-26)
- The Account of Jacob (Gen 27-36)
- The Account of Joseph (Gen 37-50)