I’m Dave Johnson. Welcome to A Ten-Minute Introduction to Genesis.
Author: God wrote Genesis as a Love-Letter to you. He chose to write it through a human author, and He chose to allow that human author’s style and personality to be displayed in the book along with His own. And God did this in such a way that each and every word in the book is the word He chose: His word to you.
Genesis does not directly name its human author, but it is traditionally attributed to Moses. Jesus, Himself, referred specifically to Moses when He quoted or alluded to the first five books of the Bible; see Matthew 8:4; 19:8; Mark 1:44; 7:10; 10:3; 12:26; Luke 5:14; 16:29-31; 24:44; John 3:14; 5:45-46; 6:32; 7:19-23.
So also did Luke in the Book of Acts, Paul in his epistles, the human author of Hebrews, and John in Revelation 15:3.
Date Written: Ryrie (66) mentions that many liberal theologians used to date the entire Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) to about 850 to 621 B.C., but Ryrie goes on to say, “this theory has been rejected even in scholarly liberal circles.”
Conservative theologians, including Easley (14), Kretzman (volume 1, page 1), MacArthur (6-7), Richards (23), Sproul (5), and Water (4), date it to the time of the Exodus from Egypt in the fifteenth century; perhaps about 1450 B.C.
Original Audience: Most likely the Jews who were wandering in the desert for forty years following their refusal to try to enter the Promised Land.
Period Covered: From the “Beginning”, the creation of the world; to the death of Joseph in Egypt. Exodus 12:40-41 tells us that the Children of Israel lived in Egypt 430 years. Joseph was 30 when they first arrived, and he was 110 when he died, so the end of Genesis can be placed at about 1800 B.C.
Setting: From Mesopotamia on the east to Egypt on the west.
Key People: Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob, and Joseph.
Key Events: The Creation; The Temptation offered by Satan; The Fall into Sin; The Promise of Christ’s Victory over Sin; The Flood; The Origin of Different Languages; The Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and the Life of Joseph.
Jesus Christ In This Book: John 1:1-3 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” And Colossians 1:16 further affirms, “For by him were all things created”.
Genesis 3:15 also tells us that the day is coming when Satan’s head will be crushed beneath the foot of the promised descendant of Eve (that is, Jesus).
Intriguing Issues: Should we read Genesis as a true history, or should we discount it as just a story because it so clearly conflicts with the pronouncements of modern Science. According to the Bible, the universe would seem to be about 6,000 years old. But, according to cosmology, the universe is about 13.8 billion years old. Is there any way to reconcile the two?
I haven’t found any satisfactory reconciliation. And so, in the face of all the conflicting evidence, I’ve chosen to believe God. And, yes, I do continue to struggle with this issue.
Looking at the Book itself:
Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” He doesn’t attempt to explain or justify Himself; He just states what happened.
God created everything, including Adam and Eve. He decreed: Don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Deceived by Satan (the serpent) they ate of the tree and were banned from the Garden. God promised a future deliverer.
Genesis 4: Cain murders Abel.
God gave Adam and Eve a third son: Seth. Noah was Seth’s descendant.
God decreed a flood to destroy evil mankind. Noah received God’s grace and was told to build the Ark.
Noah, his family, and all the animals entered the Ark. It rained for forty days and nights.
Genesis 8: At the end of the flood, they came out of the Ark and Noah built an altar.
God set the rainbow as the sign that He would never flood the entire Earth again.
Nimrod started building the Tower of Babel. God confused their language and dispersed them.
Genesis 12: God told Noah’s descendant Abram to leave his home and go to the land that God would show him.
Abram’s nephew Lot chose to live in Sodom.
Lot was taken captive. Abram rescued Lot. The priest Melchizidek blessed Abram.
God promised Abram and his wife Sarai would have many descendants. Abram believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.
Abram and Sarai’s maid Hagar had a son: Ishmael.
God changed Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah. God established the rite of circumcision.
Genesis 18: The Lord told Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son the following year. God said he intended to destroy Sodom. Abram pleaded for Sodom.
Sodom was destroyed. Lot was saved alive.
Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah.
God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham prepared to obey. God supplied a ram as a substitute.
Sarah died and Abraham buried her in a cave he purchased.
Genesis 24: Isaac married Rebekah.
Abraham died. Isaac and Rebekah had twins: Esau and Jacob.
Jacob and Rebekah trick Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing Isaac intended for Esau. Jacob runs from Esau’s wrath.
Jacob works seven years for his uncle Laban in exchange for Laban’s daughter Rachel. Laban tricks Jacob into marrying her sister Leah instead. Jacob worked seven more years for Rachel.
God told Jacob to return home.
On the way home, Jacob met and reconciled with Esau.
Shechem raped Jacob’s daughter Dinah, and Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi killed Shechem and all his people.
God renamed Jacob as Israel. Rachel died.
Genesis 37: Israel showed partiality to Joseph, Rachel’s son. Leah’s sons were jealous and sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt.
Joseph’s master, Potiphar threw Joseph in prison when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of rape.
Pharaoh put his cupbearer and baker in prison. Joseph interpreted their dreams.
Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream about the coming years of plenty and famine. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt.
Genesis 42: Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. They didn’t recognize Joseph.
Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy more grain. They brought Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother with them.
Joseph hid his cup in Benjamin’s sack then sent his steward to arrest Benjamin. Judah offered himself to be Benjamin’s substitute.
Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers and sent them bring his father Israel back to Egypt with them.
Israel and his entire family moved to Egypt and settled in the Land of Goshen.
Jacob blessed each of his sons and then he died. His sons took his body back to Abraham and Sarah’s cave for burial.
Genesis 50: Joseph died, promising a future return to God’s Promised Land.
And Looking Forward:
In blessing his twelve sons, Genesis 49:8-12 tells us that Israel passed-over his three eldest to give the best blessing to Judah. Kaiser (51) notes, “Judah was promised: (1) the praise of his brothers, (2) the pre-eminence in Israel, (3) victories over his enemies, (4) the obedience of the nations, and (5) unusual prosperity in his fields and herds.”
For a parallel brief introduction to each chapter of Genesis, I suggest Juby. And for a more detailed introduction, I recommend MacArthur.
If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I pray that He will strengthen you and raise you up to glorify His name in all that you say and do.
If you do not yet know Jesus, I urge you to repent, turn around, and flee to Him right now! Tomorrow may never come.
Easley, K. H. (2002). Holman QuickSource guide to understanding the Bible. Holman Bible Publishers.
Juby, C.. (2022). Bible Summary. https://biblesummary.info .
Kaiser, W. (The Messiah in the Old Testament. Zondervan.
Knight, T. F. (2007). God’s Wonderful Word: Introducing Each Book of the Bible.
Kretzmann, P. E. (1923–1924). The Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament. Concordia.
MacArthur, J. (2003). The MacArthur Bible handbook. Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed.). Victor Books.
Ryrie, C. C. (1983). Ryrie’s Concise guide to the Bible. Here’s Life Publishers.
Sproul, R. C., ed. (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition). Reformation Trust.
Water, M. (2001). The Books of the Bible made easy. John Hunt Publishing.
Bible Quotations are generally from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.