Bible Study: Genesis – Summary of the Book

Book of Genesis Summary

Genesis is the first book of the Bible and is also the first of the five books of the Law. These five books together are often called the Pentateuch. While the book of Job is believed to be the first Bible book written, the book of Genesis covers the earliest period in history.

Author

Authorship is historically accepted as Moses even though the book never claims Moses as the author. Both the Old and New Testaments ascribe authorship to Moses. There is no reason or proof given as to why it should not have been Moses.

Here are some Old Testament references to Moses as the author of the Law: Joshua 1:7, 8; I Kings 2:3; II Chronicles 34:14; Nehemiah 8:1, 14; Nehemiah 13:1. In these passages there are phrases like, “as it is written in the law of Moses,” “a book of the law of the LORD given by Moses,” and “the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses.” The Old Testament clearly refers to the Law as having been written by Moses.

The writers of the New Testament also considered Moses to be the author. Luke 24:27, 44; John 1:45; John 5:45-47 and Acts 28:23 each talk about Moses as the author of the Law. Jesus refers to the Law when he uses Moses’ name in Luke 24:27. Acts 28:23 says Paul preached “out of the law of Moses.”

Date Written

Circa 1440 to 1400 B.C. If it was indeed written first (before the exodus) then it was written around 1440 B.C. The exodus took place around 1440 B.C., however Genesis may have been written at a later date.

Purpose of Genesis

To provide a history of the beginning of all things and to show the origin of God’s people, the children of Israel. God had promised that the Redeemer would come from the people of Israel. Most of the major doctrines (teachings) in the Bible have their roots in the book of Genesis. While the doctrine may not be explained in the book, God provided information in the book of Genesis to introduce the foundation of the doctrines covered.

Theme

Beginnings, or Origins

Key Verses

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God presented as the Creator.

Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” God’s promise of a Redeemer or Savior.

Genesis 12:1-3 “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” This is the Abrahamic Covenant where God promised to grow a nation through Abraham which would be the family of the promised Redeemer from Genesis 3:15.

Main Characters

Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph

Main Stories

The story of creation. The fall and punishment of Adam and Eve. Noah and the Ark; the story where God saved Noah and his family from a worldwide flood. God promised Abraham would be the father of a great nation, yet he had no son until he was over 100 years old. Isaac became that son and had two children of his own, one of whom was Jacob, later called Israel. Israel (Jacob) had 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel. Almost 1/2 the book is the story of the 12 sons and how God preserved their family.

Outline of Genesis

Genesis can be divided in at least two ways. The first is through a historical division and another is through the main characters.

The first is dividing the book by historical periods:

  1. Ancient History (chapters 1-11)
  2. History of Israel (chapters 12-50)

A second outline division is through main characters:

  1. Adam and Eve (chapters 1-5)
  2. Noah (chapters 6-11)
  3. Abraham (chapters 12-23)
  4. Isaac (chapters 24-27)
  5. Jacob (chapters 28-36)
  6. Joseph (chapters 37-50)

Summary of Genesis

God created a perfect universe which was free from sin. He then created humanity for the purpose of having a personal relationship with Him. However, sin entered this perfect world through Adam and Eve. Eventually sin and corruption reigned until God destroyed humanity through a flood, saving only eight people (Noah and his family) in an ark. Because of God’s promise to Adam and Eve for a Redeemer in chapter 3 verse 15, He choose to build a nation through Abraham from which this Redeemer, or Messiah, would come. The promise of the Redeemer went through Abraham to Isaac, then Isaac to Jacob. Jocob’s 12 sons became the ancestors of the 12 tribes of Israel. One of the sons, Joseph, was used to preserve the family of Israel during a time of intense famine in the region. The book closes with Joseph having great power in the nation of Egypt. One quarter of the book is about Joseph and his brothers.

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9 thoughts on “Bible Study: Genesis – Summary of the Book”

  1. Thank you very much for your work in preparing this outline, it has been very helpful! I wondered if you might be able to shed some insight on two issues I was struggling with:

    1. On day 1 of creation, God created light and there was light and darkness. How did he create it again on day 4 when he created the seasons etc?

    2. The end of chapter 1 leaves off with God having fully created the world, plus men and women that he hold to multiply and be fruitful. Chapter 2 starts with undeveloped vegetation and just 1 single man. What happened?!

    I would appreciate any light you could shed on this!

    Thanks,

    Darryl

    1. Darryl, thank you for your comment.

      God created light and darkness on day one, but the sun, moon and stars came on day four. Those were created to define the light and darkness. One of the ways to remember the days of creation is to think of days 1-3 as the canvas on which God painted the details in days 4-6. 1 and 4 go together, 2 and 5, then 3 and 6.

      1=darkness/light
      4=sun, moon and stars

      2=sky and water
      5=birds and fish

      3=land, seas and plants
      6=animals and man

      7=God rested

      Chapter 2 goes back and fills in more detail of what happened in day 6. Everything that happens is chapter 2 happened on day 6 of creation. Adam and Even were both created on the 6th day.

      I trust that helps your understanding of Genesis chapter 1 and 2.

      1. Thanks that clears that up for me! I had more questions, but I don’t want to plague you continually! Do you know of a good book or website commentary on the book? I’m trying to gain a thorough understanding of the meanings and chronology

        1. Here is a basic Bible chronology. It is not real detailed, but it may help you.

          I took classes in college on Bible chronology, but the best thing that helped me finally understand it was when I had an opportunity to teach through the Bible to other people. I studied the stories and started to see how the Bible fit together.

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