Genesis: Introduction

August 1st, 2014| Topic: aBeLOG, Genesis | 5

Genesis: Introduction

This is the first in a series of posts on each pericope of Genesis. This will essentially be a distillation of what is in my commentary (Genesis: A Theological Commentary for Preachers; more on the book, and a free chapter download, here). Of course, the book contains far more detail than can be reproduced here in a blogpost of 500–600 words. So—shameless plug!—you may want to get yourself a copy of the commentary, if what shows up on the aBeLOG whets your appetite.

Well, here we go, with a general introduction to the book.

The book of Genesis, commencing the Scriptures of God’s people, appropriately focuses on divine blessing. Blessing is always divine in origin, for God alone is the source of all that is good, and he alone is the perfect Giver. And besides, God’s intention has been, and always is, to bless.

God created man in His own image,
in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.
And God blessed them.
Genesis 1:27–28

The concept of blessing need not be limited to things in eternity and Christological promises. God’s blessing for God’s people happens throughout life in a variety of ways, circumstantial and providential, direct and miraculous. Indeed, “every good thing given” may rightly be considered divine blessing.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights.
James 1:17

Genesis may be broadly conceived of as the inauguration of God’s work to bring about blessing to mankind. The four major sections of the book, then, deal with different facets of divine blessing.

1:1–11:26 Primeval History Creating for Blessing
11:27–25:18 The Abraham Cycle Moving towards Blessing
25:19–36:43 The Jacob Cycle Experiencing the Blessing
37:1–50:26 The Joseph Cycle Becoming a Blessing


The Primeval History (1:1–11:26) depicts God Creating for Blessing. His creation would be blessed by his presence in the cosmic sanctuary (see next installment of the aBeLOG), and everything was geared for mankind to experience this blessing. Humans were intended to follow divine guidance in order that they may live in the sphere of God’s blessing. That the first pair proceeded to reject “every good thing given” in favor of their own choices is the sad story of humanity, repeated in every generation. God, however, was not one to give up so easily. He proceeded to choose one individual through whose seed he would bless all of mankind.

The Abraham Cycle (11:27–25:18) describes this patriarch’s Moving towards Blessing, in fits and starts, faltering and stumbling. His story teaches God’s people what it means to take God by faith—to have the “fear of Yahweh.” The subsequent Cycles continue the family history that began with Abraham.

His grandson’s story, the Jacob Cycle (25:19–36:43), tells us how one goes about Experiencing the Blessing; this narrative depicts one who is constantly chasing blessing in all the wrong places, in all the wrong ways, until he comes to the realization that only God can bless—that God alone is the true source of blessing.

The Joseph Cycle (37:1–50:26) extends the story of Jacob, prominently figuring one of his sons, Joseph: this section is all about Becoming a Blessing, i.e., being used of God to extend his blessing to those within one’s own circle: family, tribe, society—as well as to those without: associates, fellow-citizens, nations, and the world at large.

In sum, Genesis describes the benevolent intentions of the Creator, and directs his creation on how to enjoy divine blessing and be agents of its disbursement to others—a fitting start for Scripture.

[For more details see the Introduction of Genesis: A Theological Commentary for Preachers.]


  1. Sara Kaufman August 13, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    This made me enlarge my thinking. When I taught on a topic from within the Old Testament, my one word soundbite for Genesis, so to speak, was “covenant”. I still think “covenant” is right for Genesis, itself, and really for the Old Testament, but I think “blessing” is the better word for the Bible as a whole. I often use the analogy of a camera when I speak for work. You zoom in to cover specific topics and then zoom out to see the big picture, and you can keep zooming out until you come to the mission of an organization. So, now I see the Bible as about “blessing” and “covenant” as a form of “blessing”, so if I were using Venn diagrams I would draw a circle and write “covenant” within it and then draw a bigger circle around the 1st circle and write “blessing” within it because all Biblical covenants are blessings but not all blessings are covenants. For example, God’s covenant with Abraham is only confirmed with his son Isaac. However, God also promises to bless Ishmael and make him into a great nation. See Gen 17:19-22. Growing up at Grace Presbyterian in Peoria, Illinois, under Dr. Bruce Dunn, we aways sang a song at the end of every service. I tried to find it awhile back on the internet, but couldn’t do so. The words were as follows:

    Go with God in your heart and be a blessing;
    Let the gift of his love shine through;
    Tell everyone you see, how Jesus sets men free
    Go with God in your heart, and be a blessing!

    Becoming a blessing, indeed!

  2. rodney August 4, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I loved the Mark blogs and I am excited to see the Genesis series begin! :))

  3. luc ladry August 2, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    I have started to preach off this book. I just made the first sermon and used its abundant information. I can’t tell how much I recommend it! I teach it in French, my mother tongue, here in French Canada. I immediately ordered the one on Mark.

    May it be used abundantly and fittingly for God’s glory. For me it came as an answer to prayer, exactly a book that could help my preaching so I am less at a loss in the very many details of the text.

    Wonderful job, Abe! I hope you won’t take 125 years to complete the series. Hire some people to do the work which you could edit …

    Luc Ladry
    ThM from DTS 20 years ago!

    which you edit…

    • Abe Kuruvilla August 2, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Luc.

      About other books … I wish!

      You can pray for more to join the band-wagon.



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