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  • The Bible, composed of two testaments, the Old Testament and the New Testament, is the complete written divine revelation of God to man. The major revelation in the entire Bible is the unique divine economy of the unique Triune God (Eph. 1:10; 3:9; 1 Tim. 1:4). The centrality and universality of this divine economy is the all-inclusive and unsearchably rich Christ as the embodiment and expression of the Triune God (Col. 2:9; 1:15-19; John 1:18). The goal of the divine economy is the church as the Body, the fullness, the expression, of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; 3:8-11), which will consummate in the New Jerusalem as the union, mingling, and incorporation of the processed and consummated Triune God and His redeemed, regenerated, transformed, and glorified tripartite people. The accomplishing of the divine economy is revealed in the Bible progressively in many steps, beginning with God’s creation in Gen. 1, Gen. 2 and consummating with the New Jerusalem in Rev. 21, Rev. 22. In the Old Testament the contents of God’s economy are revealed mainly in types, figures, and shadows, whereas in the New Testament all the types, figures, and shadows are fulfilled and realized. Thus, the Old Testament is a figurative portrait of God’s eternal economy, and the New Testament is the practical fulfillment.

    Genesis, adopted by the Septuagint as the title of this book, is a Latin word meaning giving of birth, origin. As the first book in the Bible, Genesis gives birth to and is the origin of the divine truths in the holy Word. Thus, the seeds of the divine truths are sown in this book. These seeds grow and develop in the succeeding books, especially in the New Testament, and are finally harvested in the last book, the book of Revelation.

    The book of Genesis is a miniature of the complete revelation of the entire Bible. It begins with a man created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26) and ends with a man called Israel (Gen. 32:28; 48:2), a transformed person, a man not only outwardly in the image of God but a man in whom God has wrought Himself, making him His expression. The transformed Israel is a seed, a miniature, of the New Jerusalem.

    Apparently, chs. 1—2 of Genesis are merely a record of creation; actually, nearly every item in the record of these two chapters is a revelation of Christ, who is life to God’s people (John 1:1, 4; 11:25; 14:6) for the producing and building up of the church. Chapters 3—50 present biographies of eight great persons in two groups of four, representing two races of men: Adam, Abel, Enoch, and Noah, representing the created race, and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, representing the called race. What is recorded is not primarily the works of these men but mainly their life, their living, and their way with God. In Genesis God uses both the record of creation and the biographies of eight persons to reveal the life that fulfills His purpose.

  • Referring to the beginning of time (cf. John 1:1). Time began at the creation of the universe and continues until the final judgment at the great white throne (Rev. 20:11-15). Time is for the accomplishing of God’s eternal purpose, which God made in eternity past (Eph. 3:11) for eternity future.

  • Heb. Elohim, meaning the Mighty One. The Hebrew name here is plural, but the verb created is singular. Furthermore, in v. 26 the plural pronouns Us and Our are used in reference to God, whereas in v. 27 the pronouns He and His are used. These are seeds of the Trinity. God is one (Isa. 45:5; 1 Cor. 8:4; 1 Tim. 2:5), but He is also three — the Father, the Son, and the Spirit (Matt. 28:19). He is the Triune God. It was the Triune God who created. See note 2 Cor. 13:141a, par. 3.

    Genesis is divided into three sections, each beginning with a name. The first section (1:1—2:25), beginning with the name God, concerns God’s creation; the second (3:1—11:32), beginning with the serpent, covers the serpent’s corrupting of mankind; and the third (12:1—50:26), beginning with the name Jehovah, concerns Jehovah’s calling of fallen man.

  • Created here, denoting to bring something into existence out of nothing, differs from made in Gen. 2:4 and formed in Gen. 2:7, the latter two denoting to take something that already exists and use it to produce something else.

    The motive of God’s creation was to fulfill God’s desire and to satisfy His good pleasure (Eph. 1:5, 9). The purpose of God’s creation is to glorify the Son of God (Col. 1:15-19) and to manifest God Himself (Psa. 19:1-2; Rom. 1:20 and note Rom. 1:201 and note Rom. 1:202a), especially in man (1 Tim. 3:16) through His Son, Christ, who is the embodiment of God and the image, the expression, of God (Col. 2:9; 1:15). The basis of God’s creation is God’s will and plan (Eph. 1:10 and note Eph. 1:101a; Rev. 4:11 and note Rev. 4:112d). The means of God’s creation were the Son of God (Col. 1:15-16; Heb. 1:2b) and the Word of God (Heb. 11:3; John 1:1-3), both of whom are Christ (John 1:1, 18; Rev. 19:13).

  • In the process of God’s creation, the heavens and the angels therein were created first, and the earth, probably with some living creatures, was created second (Job 38:4-7 and note Job 38:71)

  • God created the earth in a good order (Job 38:4-7; Isa. 45:18). But here and became later in this verse indicate that something happened to cause God’s creation to become “waste and emptiness.” This cataclysmic event was God’s judgment on the preadamic universe following Satan’s rebellion. This judgment was executed on Satan, on the angels and the preadamic creatures living on the earth who joined Satan in his rebellion, and on the heavens and the earth themselves. See Isa. 14:12-15 and notes; Ezek. 28:12-19 and notes.

  • Whenever the words waste and emptiness are used together in the Old Testament, they denote a result of God’s judgment (cf. Jer. 4:23; Isa. 24:1; 34:11). The darkness on the surface of the deep also is a sign of God’s judgment (cf. Exo. 10:21-22; Rev. 16:10).

  • I.e., the deep water. In the Bible water symbolizes either life (John 4:10, 14; 7:38; Rev. 22:1) or death (Gen. 7:17-24; Exo. 14:21-30; John 3:5; Rom. 6:3). The water here signifies death. As a result of God’s judgment on the preadamic universe, the entire earth was covered with deep water, signifying that the earth was filled with death and was under death. See note Mark 1:231, note 1 Tim. 4:16e, and note Rev. 21:13.

  • Verse 1 is a record of God’s original creation. Verse 2 refers to God’s judgment on the preadamic universe. The entire section from Gen. 1:2-21; 2:1-3 refers not to God’s original creation but to God’s restoration of the damaged universe, plus His further creation, in six days.

  • Heb. ruach, variously translated spirit, wind, breath. This is the first mentioning of the Spirit in the Bible. The Spirit of God, as the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), came to brood over the waters of death in order to generate life, especially man (v. 26), for God’s purpose. In spiritual experience, the Spirit’s coming is the first requirement for generating life (John 6:63).

  • After the Spirit’s brooding (v. 2), the word of God came to bring in the light (cf. Psa. 119:105, 130). In spiritual experience, the coming of the word is the second requirement for generating life (John 5:24; 6:63), and the coming of the light is the third requirement (Matt. 4:13-16; John 1:1-13).

    The Spirit, the word, and the light were the instruments used by God to generate life for the fulfillment of His purpose. The Spirit, the word, and the light are all of life (Rom. 8:2; Phil. 2:16; John 8:12). Christ as the Spirit is the reality of God (Rom. 8:9-10; 2 Cor. 3:17; John 16:13-15); Christ as the Word is the speaking of God (John 1:1; Heb. 1:2); and Christ as the light is the shining of God (John 8:12; 9:5).

  • The separation of the light from the darkness for the purpose of discerning day from night (v. 5; cf. 2 Cor. 6:14) is the fourth requirement for generating life.

  • The atmosphere, the air surrounding the earth.

  • The separating of the waters by producing an expanse between them, signifying, spiritually, the dividing of the heavenly things from the earthly things through the work of the cross (Col. 3:1-3; Heb. 4:12), was the fifth requirement for generating life.

  • At the end of the second day there is no record that God said that the expanse (the air) and the waters were good (cf. vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). This is because in the air there are fallen angels (Eph. 2:2; 6:12), and the water is the dwelling place of the demons (Matt. 12:43 and note Matt. 12:431).

  • The appearing of the dry land is the sixth requirement for generating life. This took place on the third day, corresponding to the day of resurrection (1 Cor. 15:4). In the Bible the sea represents death and the land represents Christ (see note 71 in Deut. 8) as the generating source of life. After the land appeared, every kind of life — the plant life, the animal life, and even the human life — was produced out of the land (vv. 11-12, 24-27; 2:7). This typifies that the divine life with all its riches comes out of Christ. On the third day Christ came out of death in resurrection to generate life (John 12:24; 1 Pet. 1:3) for the constituting of the church.

  • Dividing the land from the waters signifies separating life from death. From the second day (vv. 6-7) God began to work to confine and limit the waters of death that covered the earth (cf. Jer. 5:22). Eventually, when God’s work is completed, in the new heaven and new earth there will be no more sea (Rev. 21:1 and note Rev. 21:13). Furthermore, in the New Jerusalem there will be no more night (Rev. 21:25 and note Rev. 21:25:2b). This means that both death and darkness will be eliminated.

  • The plant life is the lowest form of life, a life without consciousness, corresponding to the earliest stage of the divine life in a newly-regenerated believer (cf. 1 Cor. 3:6). The countless varieties of the plant life typify the rich expression of the unsearchable riches of the life of Christ in their beauty for man’s sight (Gen. 2:9), in their fragrance (S.S. 1:12-13), and in their nourishing man and animals (Gen. 1:29-30). The trees (Gen. 2:9; Exo. 15:23-25; S.S. 2:3; 5:15; Isa. 11:1; John 15:1; Rev. 22:2), the flowers (S.S. 1:14), and the grains as food for man (John 6:9, 13) and as offerings to God (Lev. 2:1-3, 14) are all types of Christ.

  • According to the revelation of the whole Bible, light is for life; light and life always go together (Psa. 36:9; Matt. 4:16; John 1:4; 8:12; 1 John 1:1-7). The higher the light, the higher the life. The indefinite light of the first day (v. 3) was sufficient for generating the lowest forms of life; the more solid and more definite light from the light-bearers — the sun, the moon, and the stars (v. 16; Psa. 136:7-9) — on the fourth day was necessary for producing the higher forms of life, including the human life. This signifies that for our spiritual rebirth, the light of the “first day” is sufficient; but for the growth in the divine life unto maturity, more and stronger light, the light of the “fourth day,” is needed.

  • cf. Matt. 2:2, 9

    All the signs, seasons, days, and years are shadows of Christ (Col. 2:16-17).

  • Although the sun, the moon, and the stars had been created earlier (cf. Job 38:7), God stopped their functions when He judged the heavens and the earth following Satan’s rebellion (see note Job 9:51a). On the fourth day their functions were recovered for the producing of the higher forms of life.

  • The sun (Psa. 136:8), signifying Christ (Mal. 4:2; Luke 1:78-79; Matt. 4:16; Eph. 5:14). The overcoming saints were also likened to the sun by the Lord Jesus (Matt. 13:43).

  • The moon (Psa. 136:9). In Joseph’s dream his father was likened to the sun, his mother, to the moon, and his brothers, to the stars (Gen. 37:9). The moon can be considered a figure of the church, the wife of Christ (cf. S.S. 6:10). The moon has no light of its own but shines in the night by reflecting the light of the sun. Likewise, the church shines in the dark night of the church age by reflecting the divine light of Christ (cf. Phil. 2:15).

  • The stars first signify Christ (Num. 24:17; 2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 22:16). Although Christ is the real sun, He does not appear as the sun during the present age of night. Rather, He shines as the bright morning star (Rev. 22:16 and note 4). The stars also signify the overcoming saints (Dan. 12:3; cf. Rev. 1:20). The light from the stars is needed particularly when the moon wanes; likewise, the shining of the overcoming saints as the heavenly stars is needed particularly in the time of the church’s degradation (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 20-21).

  • The ruling of the fourth-day lights also strengthened the separating of the light from the darkness in v. 4. Both are requirements for the growth in life.

  • This is the animal life with the lowest consciousness, corresponding to the first step in the believers’ growth in life (cf. 1 John 2:13). The animal life in the sea typifies the riches of the life of Christ in the power that overcomes death (signified by the salt water) in His living. Just as fish can live in salt water without becoming salty, Christ and His believers, who have the divine life, can live in the satanic world without being “salted” by the world’s corruption (cf. John 14:30; 17:15-16). The animal life in the sea also shows the riches of Christ’s life in feeding man with His riches (John 6:9; 21:9).

  • The bird life is higher than the fish life. Fish can live in the death waters, but birds can transcend the death waters. By growing further in the divine life, the believers are able to transcend all the frustrations of the earth (cf. Isa. 40:31). The bird life typifies the riches of the life of Christ as seen in His being the eagle for carrying God’s redeemed to His destination (Exo. 19:4; Deut. 32:11-12; Rev. 12:14) and in His being the turtledoves or pigeons for offering to God for the sins of God’s people (Lev. 1:14; 5:7).

  • The cattle and the animals on the earth are a higher life with a higher consciousness than that of the fish and the birds, a life that can accomplish something on the earth. The animals and the cattle on the land typify the riches of the life of Christ as seen in Christ as the conquering lion (Rev. 5:5) to fight for God’s economy, as seen in Christ as the sheep and oxen for offering to God for the fulfillment of God’s full redemption (Lev. 1:2-3, 10; 3:1, 6, 12; 4:3; 5:6; John 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:6-9), and as seen in Christ as the ox to bear the responsibility and to labor faithfully for the accomplishing of God’s will (Matt. 20:28; John 6:38). Through further growth in the divine life the believers in Christ are able to live on the earth a life that is useful for the fulfilling of God’s will (cf. 1 Cor. 3:2; Gal. 6:2; 1 Cor. 15:58).

  • See note 26*6.

  • Let Us… reveals that a council was held among the three of the Godhead regarding the creation of man. The decision to create man had been made by the Triune God in eternity past, indicating that the creation of man was for the eternal purpose of the Triune God (Eph. 3:9-11). God’s intention in creating man was to carry out His divine economy for the dispensing of Himself into man (1 Tim. 1:4 and note 1 Tim. 1:43d, par. 1). This is fully unveiled in the following books of the Bible.

  • Or, mankind; Heb. adam. So also in the next verse. The human life is the highest created life, the life that can express God in His image and likeness and can exercise dominion for God. Adam, the first man, typifies Christ (Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:45, 47; Psa. 8:4-8; Heb. 2:6-9) as the center of God’s creation (Col. 1:16-17), as the Head of all creation (Col. 1:15) and of all men (1 Cor. 11:3), as God’s expression in God’s image and likeness (Heb. 1:3; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15), and as God’s representative to rule over all things created by God (Psa. 8:6-8; Matt. 28:18).

  • God’s image, referring to God’s inner being, is the expression of the inward essence of God’s attributes, the most prominent of which are love (1 John 4:8), light (1 John 1:5), holiness (Rev. 4:8), and righteousness (Jer. 23:6). God’s likeness, referring to God’s form (Phil. 2:6), is the expression of the essence and nature of God’s person. Thus, God’s image and God’s likeness should not be considered as two separate things. Man’s inward virtues, created in man’s spirit, are copies of God’s attributes and are the means for man to express God’s attributes. Man’s outward form, created as man’s body, is a copy of God’s form. Thus, God created man to be a duplication of Himself that man may have the capacity to contain God and express Him. All the other living things were created “according to their kind” (vv. 11-12, 21, 24-25), but man was created according to God’s kind (cf. Acts 17:28-29). Since God and man are of the same kind, it is possible for man to be joined to God and to live together with Him in an organic union (John 15:5; Rom. 6:5; 11:17-24; 1 Cor. 6:17).

    Christ the Son, as God’s embodiment (Col. 2:9), is the image of the invisible God, the expression of the essence of God’s attributes (Col. 1:15; 2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 1:3). Man was created according to Christ with the intention that Christ would enter into man and be expressed through man (Col. 1:27; Phil. 1:20-21). Created man is a living vessel, a container, to contain Christ (Rom. 9:21, 23; 2 Cor. 4:7). Eventually, in His incarnation Christ put on human nature and became in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:6-8) so that through His death and resurrection man may obtain God’s eternal, divine life (1 Pet. 1:3; 1 John 5:11-12) and by that life be transformed and conformed to the image of Christ inwardly (2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 8:29) and transfigured into the likeness of Christ’s glorious body outwardly (Phil. 3:21) that he may be the same as Christ (1 John 3:2) and may express God with Him to the universe (Eph. 3:21).

    Created man was a duplication of God in God’s image and likeness, but he did not have the reality of God or the life of God. Thus, he still needed to receive God as his life by eating of the tree of life so that he might have the reality of God to express Him (Gen. 2:9 and note Gen. 2:92a).

  • The pronouns them here and in vv. 27-28 and their in Gen. 5:2 indicate that Adam was a corporate man, a collective man, including all mankind. God did not create many men; He created mankind collectively in one person, Adam. God created such a corporate man in His image and according to His likeness so that mankind might express God corporately.

  • God created a corporate man not only to express Himself with His image but also to represent Him by exercising His dominion over all things. God’s intention in giving man dominion is:
    1) to subdue God’s enemy, Satan, who rebelled against God;
    2) to recover the earth, which was usurped by Satan;
    3) to exercise God’s authority over the earth in order that the kingdom of God may come to the earth, the will of God may be done on the earth, and the glory of God may be manifested on the earth (Matt. 6:10, 13).

    God’s intention that man would express God in His image and represent God with His dominion is fulfilled not in Adam as the first man (1 Cor. 15:45), the old man (Rom. 6:6), but in Christ as the second man (1 Cor. 15:47 and note 1 Cor. 15:472), the new man (Eph. 2:15 and note Eph. 2:158), comprising Christ Himself as the Head and the church as His Body (Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Cor. 12:12 and note 1 Cor. 12:122; Col. 3:10-11 and note Col. 3:119d). It is fully fulfilled in the overcoming believers, who live Christ for His corporate expression (Phil. 1:19-26) and will have authority over the nations and reign as co-kings with Christ in the millennium (Rev. 2:26-27; 20:4, 6). It will ultimately be fulfilled in the New Jerusalem, which will express God’s image, having His glory and bearing His appearance (Rev. 4:3; 21:11, 18), and also exercise God’s divine authority to maintain God’s dominion over the entire universe for eternity (Rev. 21:24; 22:5).

  • Typifying Satan, the serpent (Gen. 3:1, 14; Rev. 12:9), and his angels (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:4, 7), as well as the demons who follow Satan (cf. Luke 10:19). See note Rev. 4:62c, par. 1.

  • Subdue here implies that a war is raging on earth between God and His enemy, Satan. Whoever gains the earth will have the victory. Man was created by God to subdue, to conquer, the earth and recover it for God.

  • Lit., on which is the fruit of a tree seeding seed.

  • Previously God had said “good” (vv. 4, 10, 12, 21, 25), but here He said “very good” because Adam had God’s image and had been given God’s dominion.

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