Notes on Genesis 1

Last night we covered one aspect of Genesis that is critical—not only for that book, but the rest of the Bible.

In the progress of creation in Genesis 1, we note that there is a significant difference between days 5 and 6 in the numbering. Note how that shows in this table

Days of creation

So the pattern of creation is to start with “one day” (cardinal number, then days 2-5, it is “a second, a third, a fourth, a fifth” (of the same kind as day 1). But with day 6, the designation changes from another in the pattern, to a specific day, “the sixth day.” Day seven likewise is a specific day, “the seventh day.”

In both cases, something special is highlighted. For the sixth day, it is the creation of humans, specifically in the image of God. For the seventh day, the completion of creation leads to the blessing and making holy. God’s creation is complete (“very good” 1:31), which signifies not only wholeness, but also complete harmony between God and His creation.

We read Genesis 1:26–27:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

This diagram may help to realize the significance of what is involved in the creation of humans.

Image of God

The image of God for humans changes our understanding of God’s view of humans, even humans’ views of humans. Rather than humans being “just another step in the scale upward,” humans are in fact separated from the rest of creation in two ways: “image of God” and “rule over creation.”

Genesis 3 presents the upheaval of sin, that affects four relationships: 1) between God and humans, 2) within the human (conscience), 3) between humans, 4) humans and the rest of creation. And those four elements are also distorted now by sin relative to the image of God and the rule over creation. The history of the world since that time verifies the sad truth of that. Sin changed the image, too. In Genesis 1, God created male and female in the image of God; after the fall into sin in Genesis 3, we find in Genesis 5:3 the change: When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, no longer in the image of God, but in the image of sinful Adam.

But when Jesus comes, he brings more than forgiveness of sin, although he does that. Rather, Jesus comes to defeat the devil (Satan) (1 John 3:8 The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.). Further he addresses the four areas noted above:

1) He reconciled God to humans 

2 Corinthians 5:19 God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, bnot counting their trespasses against them

2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2) Within humans (conscience)

1 Peter 3:21Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you — not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience — through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…

3) Between humans

Ephesians 2:13-14 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have cbeen brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,

Ephesians 4:1-3 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

4) Humans and creation

Romans 8:20-22 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 

Image of God

Jesus Christ’s complete work of salvation also changes the marred image of God. As Paul writes:

Ephesians 4:24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Colossians 3:9-10 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him

Notice how this affects how we see ourselves, as renewed in the image of God. This has significant implications about our views of sin, forgiveness, guilt, fear, shame (another post). The renewed image also changes how we view one another. Do we look at a fellow Christian from the marred image of sin? Or from the renewed image in Christ? How does that change our attitudes and words toward the person? Are we living as the“new creation of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17)?


About exegete77

disciple of Jesus Christ, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, teacher, and theologian
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3 Responses to Notes on Genesis 1

  1. John Malchow says:

    Pr Rich. Does this mean that before the fall, that Adam, made perfect in the “image of God”, therefore was righteous, Holy and had knowledge as Gods knowledge? This would seem to say that being made in Gods image he was a perfect reflection of God. If so, did he have perfect knowledge of the coming redemption through Christ, and etc., as God himself does. (I postulate his knowledge was not perfect or he would not have messed with the tree). And, being made in the image of God, should he be considered to have been divine before the fall? John M.

    • exegete77 says:

      No, not divine. The knowledge was not complete, because they did not know good and evil, which God did, but did not affect his holiness and righteousness. So there is an aspect of the divine that is involved, but not the totality of God. Notice how Peter writes about this:

      “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)

      Knowledge pertains to life and godliness, not everything. Before the fall, Adam had perfect knowledge of what life in the Garden was like in relationship to God. However, since he did not yet know good and evil, he could not have the knowledge of God’s plan for salvation from the evil that would be coming. His knowledge of a Savior comes in Genesis 3:15, as he overhears God’s judgment of Satan.

      Also, while in the salvation granted to us, we become partakers of the divine nature; However, it is not our essence that is divine, nor is it complete.

      Hope this helps.

  2. John Malchow says:

    Pr. Rich, thanks for the come-back, better than I could have said it. It is interesting your e-mail subject came shortly after the breakfast club I belong to was discussing the same thing. Don’t know if I ever told you about this group, it is 6 or 7 ‘Nam vets get together once or twice a month (or whenever one of us needs company) for breakfast, prayer and solving the worlds problems. We have a Catholic, mad at his church; a confused Church of Christ charismatic; an Episcopalian (I think); a man truly seeking; a lapsed Baptist, and myself, a lone Lutheran. Also, when he is around, a fellow who claims to be a Christian Buddhist(?) and occasionally others of unknown parentage. The core of the group are three guys who are part of Pointman Ministries, a group that helps Vets and supports and participates in missionary trips to ‘Nam and used to work in prison ministries here in MI. Anyway, thanks for the enlightening. May God continue to bless you and yours and keep his strong healing hand on you. John M.

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