The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Genesis 1

Gen 1:1

BEGINNING: The Heb (reshith) sig a period of unlimited duration -- ie not at a single point approx 6,000 years ago! That is, of Adam's era. "Which existed ages before!" Were there previous creations?

GOD: Elohim. "Out of whom" (ie God) was all: Rom 11:36; 1Co 8:6. Direct creation: Isa 52:5; 45:18; Psa 148:5.

CREATED: Bara. Singular verb, but plural subject. Psa 51:12: All things created by God's spirit. Psa 104:30: "Thou renewest the face of the earth." "Bara" = to rearrange, remold, sig from some material (ie created man out of dust). The earth was created out of God's basic energy (Phan 46,47). In future again, God will be "all in all" (1Co 15:28). See Elp 10-12; Trial 58-71. Adam was told to "be fruitful... replenish (refill) the earth" (Gen 1:28), same as told to Noah (Gen 9:1). Exact meaning to be determined by context and usage.

THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH: A parable of the new spiritual "creation", in Christ: Isa 65; Rev 21.

Gen 1:2

WAS: Or "became".

FORMLESS AND EMPTY: Heb "tohu-bohu". "Without form and void" (AV). Used together in Isa 34:11; Jer 4:23. "Without hope (formless) and without God (empty)": Eph 2:12. (Yet God did not create it with this in mind; He created it to be inhabited: Isa 45:7,8 -- ie, eternally: to bring forth "salvation"!)

WAS: Not in orig.

DEEP: Called "the abyss" in Job 35:9. The Heb is "tehom": a cognate with Akkadian Tiamat, the name of the chaos monster supposedly overcome by Marduk in connection with the creation: See Lesson, Leviathan (the "Creation").

SPIRIT OF GOD: Heb "ruach Elohim": "The spirit strength of the Mighty Ones". "Spirit" = the "wisdom" of Pro 8:22-26.

WAS HOVERING: "Moved" (AV). Like a mother bird brooding over her young: Deu 32:11 (cp Exo 19:4). The words portray the energy-giving presence of God -- wrapping, protecting, and caressing the chaos of the unfinished earth as He prepared to complete His creation.

"What a blessing to know that our Heavenly Father can take total chaos and create out of it, a functional, dynamic, God-glorifying creation.

Your personal life might, at this point in time, resemble the state of things that existed right here at the beginning of time on this planet... dark, turbulent, sad, dysfunctional and 'lifeless'.

But the powerful creative words of our Loving Heavenly Father can change all that, even as they changed the face of this globe in just six days, 6,000 years ago.

The God of the Bible can transform your life into a dynamic, vibrant, fully functional creation that will give HIM glory for ever and ever.


By opening your heart to HIS gracious message in HIS wonderful book, the Bible.

Is it hard, I hear you ask? No. The simplest of folk can understand this wonderful book, and the most intellectual will never exhaust its wonder and beauty.

Why not begin this New Year with a resolution to let the light of this Word into your life every day for the year?" (CY).

Gen 1:3

Vv 3-31: Six days of Creation: themes: (1,2,3) Light, water, earth; (4,5,6) Light, water, earth again.

GOD: Elohim.

Gen 1:4

GOD: Elohim.

WAS: Not in orig.

SEPARATED (DIVIDED) THE LIGHT FROM THE DARKNESS: Alt rend Heb "between the light and between the darkness": v 18. "What fellowship between?" (2Co 6:14). No sooner is there a good thing in the world, than a division is necessary. Light and darkness have no communion; God has divided them, let us not confound them. Sons of light must not have fellowship with doctrines or deeds of darkness. The children of the day must be sober, honest, and bold in their Lord's work, leaving the works of darkness to those who shall dwell in it for ever. Our ecclesias should by discipline divide the light from the darkness, and we should by our distinct separation from the world do the same. In judgment, in action, in hearing, in teaching, in association, we must discern between the precious and the vile, and maintain the great distinction which the Lord made upon the world's first day.

"A believer has two principles at work within him. In his natural estate he was subject to one principle only, which was darkness; now light has entered, and the two principles disagree. Mark the apostle Paul's words... 'I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members' [Rom 7:21-23]. How is this state of things occasioned? 'The Lord divided the light from the darkness.' Darkness, by itself, is quiet and undisturbed, but when the Lord sends in light, there is a conflict, for the one is in opposition to the other: a conflict which will never cease till the believer is altogether light in the Lord. If there be a division within the individual Christian, there is certain to be a division without. So soon as the Lord gives to any man light, he proceeds to separate himself from the darkness around; he secedes from a merely worldly religion of outward ceremonial, for nothing short of the gospel of Christ will now satisfy him, and he withdraws himself from worldly society and frivolous amusements, and seeks the company of the saints, for 'We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren' [1Jo 3:14]. The light gathers to itself, and the darkness to itself. What God has divided, let us never try to unite, but as Christ went without the camp, bearing His reproach [Heb 13:13], so let us come out from the ungodly, and be a peculiar people. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners [Heb 7:26]; and, as he was, so we are to be nonconformists to the world, dissenting from all sin, and distinguished from the rest of mankind by our likeness to our Master" (CHS).

Gen 1:5

Alt rend: "And the evening was, and the morning was, etc." A traditional Heb expression: lit 24-hour day: Exo 20:9-11. The natural order of the day: from dark (first) to light. Spiritual lessons!

"The evening was 'darkness' and the morning was 'light,' and yet the two together are called by the name that is given to the light alone! This is somewhat remarkable, but it has an exact analogy in spiritual experience. In every believer there is darkness and light, and yet he is not to be named a sinner because there is sin in him, but he is to be named a saint because he possesses some degree of holiness. This will be a most comforting thought to those who are mourning their infirmities, and who ask, 'Can I be a child of God while there is so much darkness in me?' Yes; for you, like the day, take not your name from the evening, but from the morning; and you are spoken of in the word of God as if you were even now perfectly holy as you will be soon. You are called the child of light, though there is darkness in you still. You are named after what is the predominating quality in the sight of God, which will one day be the only principle remaining. Observe that the evening comes first. Naturally we are darkness first in order of time, and the gloom is often first in our mournful apprehension, driving us to cry out in deep humiliation, 'God be merciful to me, a sinner.' The place of the morning is second, it dawns when grace overcomes nature" (CHS).

Gen 1:6

Nothing "good" created on 2nd day, but only the rearrangement of waters.

GOD: Elohim.

EXPANSE: "Firmament" (AV). Heb "expansion" (AV mg). To spread, or stretch, as Job 37:18.

Gen 1:7

Day Two: the only day in which God did not pronounce "Good".

GOD: Elohim.

UNDER... ABOVE: Once, a vapor cover encircled the earth to a great altitude: cp Psa 29:10; 148:9. This caused an even, warm climate -- a greenhouse, or tropical effect; and protection from radiation (the reason for very long lives in the beginning?). Spiritual lesson: clouds, mists = the righteous (Rev 1:7n); oceans, lakes = the wicked (Rev 17:15; Isa 57:20).

Gen 1:8

GOD: Elohim.

SKY: "Heaven" (AV). Heb "shameh": sig "lofty" (singular, not as plural in v 1).

Gen 1:9

GOD: Elohim.

LET DRY GROUND (LAND) APPEAR: Being "born" out of the water = baptism! On the 3rd "day" of 1,000 years, Israel appears as the "earth" among the other nations ("waters"). As in Hag 2:6; Act 17:26, God sets "bounds" on both lit and fig "seas".

Gen 1:11

GOD: Elohim.

VEGETATION: "Grass" (AV). AV mg: Heb "tender grass", from rt "to sprout forth", as the "flesh" in Isa 40:6-8.

SEED-BEARING PLANTS: "Herb yielding seed" (AV). The higher forms, edible (cp Gen 1:29).

ACCORDING TO THEIR KINDS: This phrase, 10 times in Gen 1.

SEED: The seed = God's continuing creation: In men, to bring forth fruit (Gal 5:22). In 3rd 1,000-year period, the promise to Abraham and his "seed" Christ (Gen 13:15).

Gen 1:14

On the 4th day (of 1,000 years), a more distinct light -- ie, Christ -- appears!

GOD: Elohim.

LIGHTS: Heb "meoroth", not as in vv 1-5. Here, "luminaries" or "lamps", as in tabernacle: Exo 25:6; Lev 24:2; Num 4:9,16.

TO SEPARATE (DIVIDE) THE DAY FROM THE NIGHT: AV mg: Heb "between the light and between the darkness".

The study of the heavens: Job 9:9; 38:31,32; Amo 5:8; Isa 40:26. The heavenly bodies can teach God's purpose: Psa 89:36,37; Mal 4:1,2; Dan 12:3; Psa 8:1,2; 19:1 ("The heavens declare the glory of God").

The lights in the sky and the seasons they pattern are regarded thereafter as signs of Gods gracious, sovereign ordering of all of life. Out of nothing came not randomness or chaos but a divinely ordered progression of time, through segments called seasons, which in themselves show the pattern of life and death and life again.

SIGNS: Heb "othoth", from rt "to come", ie prophecies (Jer 10:2).

SEASONS: "Appointed", ie cycles of time -- used 3 times in ref to promised "seed": Gen 17:21; 18:14; 21:2.

Gen 1:15

Poss the light of the first day of creation was the Shekinah Glory of God. Now, on Day 4, that function of giving light to the earth is taken over by created lights. Cp Isa 60:19,20. Two different words for light(s) are used in Gen 1:3,4 and Gen 1:14-16.

Gen 1:16

GOD: Elohim.

MADE: Heb "asah" = "appoint" (Psa 104:19). Notice: this is NOT the "creation" of the sun, etc. These were created earlier (v 3), but now -- for the first time -- they appear, and are visible from the earth, and are "appointed" by God as the lights that we now know.

LIGHTS: Cp v. 14n.

LIGHT: "Meowr", the sing. of word in v 14.

THE GREATER LIGHT: The sun = Christ (Mal 4:2; Joh 8:12; 2Sa 23:4). The absence of Christ = "night" (Joh 9:4,5). The sun in Scripture (perh) = Christ. (Psa 19:4-6; 2Sa 23:4; Mal 4:1-3). The setting and rising of the sun = Christ's death and resurrection. Sun, moon, and stars often = Israel. In Joseph's dream (Gen 37:9-10) the sun (Jacob), moon (Jacob's wife), and 11 stars (his brothers) bow down to him; basis for Israel being repr quite often by sun, moon, and stars. See also Jer 31:35,36; Gen 22:17; Dan 8:10 (cp v 24); Amos 8:9; Isa 30:26.

TO GOVERN (RULE): Mg: "for the rule of".

THE LESSER LIGHT: This will one day rival the sun: Isa 30:26. The moon = (?) the ecclesia: reflective and inconstant, but also a light (Phi 2:15,16; Mat 5:14; Song 6:10).

HE MADE: Italics! Not in orig. Thus, "God made the lesser light (ie the moon) to rule over the night AND the stars."

STARS: Individual saints, in ct to the collective "Bride", the moon: Dan 12:3; 1Co 15:40; Psa 147:4.

Gen 1:17

GOD: Elohim.

TO GIVE LIGHT ON THE EARTH: The essential function of the heavenly bodies is to "shine"! Spiritual lessons!

Gen 1:18

TO SEPARATE (DIVIDE) THE LIGHT FROM THE DARKNESS: Essential moral lesson: "What communion hath light with darkness? Or what concord hath Christ with Belial?" (2Co 6:14). Christ, the "light", is separate from sinners (Heb 7:26).

Gen 1:20

GOD: Elohim.

WATERS: That is, the waters above the firmament: Gen 1:7.

TEEM: AV: "Bring forth abundantly": "Swarm", RV mg. Note that Life comes out of the water (Rom 6)!

LIVING: AV: "Moving". "Creeping" (AV mg.).

CREATURES: Heb "soul" (mg). See Gen 1:21n; Lesson: Nephesh.

Gen 1:21

GOD: Elohim.

CREATED: "Bara", as in Gen 1:1.

GREAT CREATURES OF THE SEA: "Whales" (AV). "Tanninim" = "long ones". "Sea monsters" (RV). Prob includes all sorts of whales, crocodiles, etc.

CREATURES: "Nephesh". Heb "nephesh" (soul) applied to animals: Gen 2:19; 9:10,15,16; Num 31:28; Lev 11:46. And to men: Gen 2:7 (cp 1Co 15:40,45); 12:5; Pro 19:10; Act 2:41; Rom 13:1. See Lesson: "Nephesh", soul. "Immortal" and "soul" never appear together (note 2Ti 1:10).

ACCORDING TO THEIR KINDS: Distinct species cannot reproduce across species lines. Generally contrary to evolutionary theory.

Gen 1:25

LIVESTOCK: "Cattle" (AV). "Behema", from rt "dumb". The domestic animals, in ct to the wild ("chai") animals in Gen 1:24.

Gen 1:26

GOD... US: Elohim. Plural: "sons of God", ie angels (Job 38:7; Gen 3:22; Psa 8:5; cp Num 12:8; Act 7:38; Gen 32:30 with Hos 12:3,4; 1Ki 22:19). The plural prob relates to angels, although the verb here is singular. So God prob entered into consultation with His surrounding hosts and conferred with them on the creation of man in their joint image. Angels involved in creation: Job 38:4-7; Psa 148:2 (describing creative acts of Gen 1); Psa 104:4,5 -- again in a creative context.

IMAGE: "Tselem". Form, appearance, shadow -- as Jam 3:9. Typ God's creation in Christ: "in his image" (Col 1:15; Heb 1:1-3). God Himself and Elohim have a form and body. We are a copy of that (Ber 65:2,3; Elp 37-41). See Lesson, Gen 1:26, "Us".

LIKENESS: "Damuth". Capacity, authority, status -- as Eze 1:5; Isa 40:18,25; 46:5. See Article, Image and likeness of God.

LET THEM RULE OVER: A purpose for man, beyond all the rest of God's creation. "Last Adam" and his "bride" to have dominion over all God's creatures: Psa 8:4,6; Heb 2:6-8.

Gen 1:27

IN HIS OWN IMAGE: But after the Fall, Adam made a son in HIS (not God's) image (Gen 5:1-3)!

MALE AND FEMALE: "Bridegroom" and "bride" together (Gen 2)!

Gen 1:28

FRUITFUL: Christ brings forth fruit: Joh 15:8; Isa 53:8,10.

FILL: Or "replenish" (AV). Cp Gen 1:2. Also in Noah's day (Gen 9:1,7), and beyond (Gen 17:2; 35:9,11; Exo 1:7,12... and the growth of the ecclesia in Acts).

SUBDUE: "To tread down; to bring under control". Implies that the one being subdued is hostile and there is need for correction: sw Jos 18:1, Jer 34:11,16, Num 32:22,29, Est 7:8.

RULE OVER: "Have dominion" (AV). Cp Psa 8:4-6. But Adam lost this dominion in curse: cp Heb 2:8,9. Ct here with Noah's time (Gen 9:2-5) and Exo 21:28. Christ will have dominion: Psa 2:8; 72:8. See also Phi 2:5-10; 3:20,21; Joh 16:33; 17:1,2; Mat 28:18; 1Co 15:27; Col 1:15-23; 1Pe 3:22.

FISH... BIRDS...: Ct Gen 9:2: not dominion, but fear and dread!

MOVES: "Creeps" (cp AV mg).

Gen 1:30

GREEN PLANT FOR FOOD (GREEN HERB FOR MEAT): Animals were apparently herbivorous. This condition will be resumed in the Kingdom: Isa 11:6-8; 65:25.

Gen 1:31

SAW: In ct with Gen 6:5.

GOOD: "Tob". LM 104. Never after this is man so described, but rather: Gen 8:21; Ecc 7:29; Jer 10:23; Mar 7:21-23; Mat 10:18; Rom 7:23. At this time, sin and death had not yet entered the world (cp Gen 2:25). Everything will be made "tob" -- good, beautiful -- in God's own time (Ecc 3:11). "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:4-7).

VERY GOOD: As used of the Creation, this phrase appears only here, in v 31. Now, for the first time, all God saw was "VERY good" -- because the Creation was finished? or because Man was the culminating expression of God's creative force?

"Total peace and joy for man are found only in total service to God. That is man's original and 'natural' condition. That must be gained. All life must be given to the effort. All else is degeneration and perversion without promise or hope" (GVG). Ct with Gen 6:12: "God saw... and the earth was... corrupt."

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