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“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim.3v16).  This is one of our most fundamental beliefs, but we live in a world where the inspiration of the Scriptures is either denied or regarded as irrelevant.  A recent newspaper article posed the following question: Why is it that when a film is made which is critical of Mohammed there is outrage in the Muslim world – but when a fragment of papyrus is alleged to teach that Jesus was married no one in Christendom seems to be concerned?[1]  The answer, given by the author of the article, was that Muslims regard the Koran and its writer as inspired, whereas ‘Christians’ no longer believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God.  In view of such prevailing attitudes in the world around us, this article asks the question: “How did Jesus and his apostles regard the Old Testament Scriptures – particularly the book of Genesis?”

 

THE ACCOUNT OF THE CREATION

The first point to notice about the way that Jesus and his apostles quote Genesis is that there is a disproportionate emphasis on the early chapters.  Out of 110 quotations / allusions in the New Testament to Genesis almost a third refer to the first three chapters of Genesis, but only 2 of them (Rev.5v5 & 7v14) link to the last three chapters.  Almost two thirds of the quotations / allusions are to the first eleven chapters of Genesis!  It is as if God is going out of His way to confirm the truth of those parts of his Word which have been the most derided by modern man!

The entire work of the creation described in Genesis 1 is referred to at least eight times in the New Testament – e.g. “…the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein” (Acts 14v15); “…the angel…sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein” (Rev.10v5-6).  The everlasting gospel, which will be preached at the beginning of the Millennium, begins with an endorsement of creation: “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Rev.14v7) [2].  While the New Testament does not specifically endorse the creation as having taken place in six days, it does quote Gen.2v2 “For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works” (Heb.4v4).  These very precise references to the work of creation leave absolutely no room at all for the concept of “Theistic Evolution” – that God in some way started things off and then left the various diverse life forms to ‘develop / evolve’ over a very long period of time.  Everything in the heavens, the earth and the sea were specifically “made” by God – who then rested on the seventh day.

 

THE PRINCIPLE CHARACTERS IN THE BOOK OF GENESIS

Again, it is a significant fact that Jesus and the apostles speak / write about almost every important character mentioned in the Genesis record:  Adam (9 times), Eve, the serpent, Cain, Abel (4 times), Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah (8 times), Shem, Terah, Abraham (74 times), Sarah, Isaac (20 times), Jacob (27 times), Judah, Tamar, Pharez & Joseph are all spoken of and many of the incidents which occurred in their lives are referred to.  It is clear that Jesus and his apostles accepted the Genesis record as a factual, literal, historical account of real events in the lives of real people.

 

THE GARDEN OF EDEN

Jesus, in Mt.19v4 & Mk.10v6 specifically quotes Gen.1v27 concerning the creation of male and female by God, including in his quotation the word “beginning” from Gen.1v1, thus showing that, to him, “the beginning” encompassed all the work of the six days as described in Gen.1, culminating in the creation of the first man and the first woman.  The man was created from the earth (1 Cor.15v47), and made a living soul (1 Cor.15v45).  He was created before the woman (1 Tim.2v13-14), the woman was created from him (1 Cor.11v8) and for him (1 Cor.11v9).  Also, God instructed them concerning their relationship (Mt.19v5, Mk.10v7-8, 1 Cor.6v16 & Eph.5v31).  Rev.2v7 speaks of “the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God” – a clear allusion to the Garden of Eden as a type of conditions in the kingdom.  The serpent, who was subtil, beguiled Eve (2 Cor.11v3) and, as a result of Adam’s sin, death came into the world (Rom.5v12-21 & 1 Cor.15v21-22).

 

THE TIME BEFORE ABRAHAM

There are seven references in the New Testament to the events recorded in Genesis 4[3].  The genealogies of Jesus in Mt.1 & Lk.3 confirm the genealogical records in Gen.5, Gen.10 and the details of the family of the patriarchs down to Judah, Tamar & Pharez.

The building of the ark by Noah (and the purpose of it) are confirmed in Heb.11v7, the worldliness of his times in Lk.17v26-27, Noah’s entering into the ark in Mt.24v38, the salvation of eight in the ark in 1 Pet.3v20 and the flood in 2 Pet.3v5-6.

 

THE PATRIARCHS AND THE PROMISES

The apostle Paul in Gal.3v8 not only confirms the giving to Abram of the first promise (Gen.12v1-3) but adds the information that Abram had these promises as a written scripture in his own lifetime!  Similarly Paul in Rom.4v22-23 and James in Jas.2v23 confirm that Abram also had Gen.15v6 as a written scripture – and fulfilled it when he offered Isaac!  The priesthood of Melchizedek and his encounter with Abraham are extensively confirmed in Hebrews 5 to 7.  God’s covenant of circumcision was spoken of by Jesus (Jn.7v22) and alluded to by Paul in Phil.3v5.  There are ten references in the New Testament to Sodom, Lot, his wife and the fiery destruction of the cities of the plain[4].

Stephen in Acts 7 not only endorses the history of the patriarchs from Abraham to Joseph but adds (by the Spirit) a number of details that are not found in the Genesis record.  Similarly, the apostle in writing of the faithful in Hebrews 11 confirms many of the details of the historical account in Genesis.

 

THE PURPOSE OF THE QUOTATIONS

These quotations and allusions in the New Testament are not just passing & incidental references, they are used by Jesus and his apostles as the basis of and the authority for fundamental teachings.  Thus in the passages referred to above, the work of creation is cited to demonstrate that there is only one true and living God and all men should obey him.  The characters in the book of Genesis are set before us in the New Testament as examples of faith and works which were pleasing to God – or as warnings against evil behaviour which we should avoid – e.g. Esau in Heb.12v16-17.  The doctrines of sin & death, the atonement, faith towards God, baptism, the imputation of righteousness, the relationship between the male and the female, resurrection, judgment, the future blessings of the kingdom – all of these are expounded in the New Testament on the basis of principles which were taught, events which happened and the lives of people who existed in the time period covered by the book of Genesis.  Take Genesis away, or cast doubt upon its literal accuracy and the facts of its history and much of the teaching of Jesus and his apostles ceases to have any real meaning.  Uphold Genesis as the inspired word of the living creator God and the rest of the Bible coheres together upon its sure foundation.

 

Bernard Burt

[1] “When a ‘sacred’ text is not so much the word of God as the word of man”  The Independent 21/09/12.

[2] The eight passages are: Mk.13v19, Acts 14v15, 17v24, Rom.1v19-20, Eph.3v9, Heb.11v3, Rev.10v6 & 14v7.

[3] Mt.23v35, Lk.3v38, Lk.11v51, Heb.11v4, Heb.12v24, 1 Jn.3v11-12 & Jude v.11,

[4] Mt.10v15, 11v23, 11v24, Mk.6v11, Lk.10v12, 17v28-28, 17v32, 2 Pet.2v6-8, Jude v.7 & Rev.11v8.

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