Protoevangelium — the Gospel in Genesis 1-11

For other entries in this series, click here.

The fascinating Church Father, Augustine of Hippo, wrote the 13 books of his autobiography–Confessions–around 400 A.D. Interestingly enough, the narrative proper concludes in Book 10. This had led scholars to reflect long and hard on the purpose of the final three books, which focus heavily on Genesis 1. To keep this discussion short, Augustine uses Genesis 1 to scripturally depict the re-creation of a human being in Christ. Or, in the words of Jared Ortiz:

Augustine’s interpretation of Genesis in the last three books demonstrates an “ecclesial hermeneutic,” and . . . Book 13, especially its concluding meditation on the Sabbath, shows that the church is the goal of creation.

Jared Ortiz, “Creation and the Church,” in You Made Us For Yourself: Creation in St. Augustine’s Confessions (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2016), 151.

The creation narrative in Genesis 1 is so much more than an argument against evolution.

Genesis is likely the oldest book of the Bible. It was assuredly penned by Moses, though it admittedly went through some minor editing as the years went on (cf. Genesis 14:14’s reference to Dan, who wasn’t born yet in the chronological story timeline, and wouldn’t have had a town in Canaan by the time Moses died). When it comes to Moses himself as the author of Genesis through Deuteronomy, I was forever convinced of this view as a result of my 2022 Bible-reading plan–the heavy intertextuality between these five books was nowhere near as heavy throughout the rest of the Bible.

The book of Genesis tells a complete story (sort of), from Genesis 1-50, though for the purposes of this blog, I want to split Genesis into two posts: Genesis 1-11 and Genesis 12-50.

The book can be broken down into the following outline (the bold is the focus of this post):

  • Creation (1-2)
  • The Fall into Sin and Death (3-5)
  • Re-creation, part 1 (6-9)
  • Spread of Mankind (10-11)
  • Re-creation, part 2 (12-50)
    • Abraham (12-25)
    • Isaac (26)
    • Jacob (27-36)
    • Joseph (37-50)

The thesis statement of Genesis 1-11 can be found in Genesis 3:15, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Or, in my own words:

God Himself will undo the sin problem humanity brought on itself.

This theme can be traced through each section of the narrative. God is the subject of the first verse of Genesis, which means He is ultimately in control of everything that happens. Just as God created the world, so also will He re-create it. We see this first in the flood story (compare 1:2 with 8:1-2 in Hebrew). In this context, it is also worth noting what was stated alongside Noah’s birth: “This one will bring us relief from the agonizing labor of our hands, caused by the ground the Lord has cursed” (Genesis 5:29). This is a direct reference back to God’s curse on the ground as a result of man’s fall: “The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field” (Genesis 3:17-18).

We see this again in the narrative from Genesis 12-50, but more immediately we see a fulfillment of God’s command to mankind in Genesis 1:28 when God disperses humanity across the earth from the Tower of Babel. This narrative is critical for the further fulfillment we will see in Genesis 12-50.

With the narrative of Genesis 1-11 in mind, it is easy to connect all of this to Christ and the Gospel. Jesus is the seed of the woman mentioned in Genesis 3:15. He is the one who came to earth to re-create what we destroyed by our sin. He is more truly “the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27) than any of us, and He was present with Yahweh at the creation of the world (cf. Proverbs 8:22-31; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-18). Due to Jesus’ mediatorial work, Noah’s family was spared in the flood (cf. 1 Peter 3:20-21) and God didn’t act in wrath at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) to destroy humanity’s self-importance; rather, He graciously allowed them to spread out over the earth–inadvertently obeying God’s command: “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28).

Granted, Jesus wouldn’t be Mediator officially until AD 33, but it was the guarantee of His arrival that allows for the narratives of Genesis (through Malachi) to be anything but fiery destruction (cf. Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8).

Genesis 1-11 is hugely Christ-centered, though more of Him is concealed than explicitly revealed in these chapters. I pray that it might be somewhat unveiled to you as a result of this brief blog post.

More than that, I pray that Christ has re-created you (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17). Your doom is as sure as those who perished in the flood if you refuse to repent and believe the first gospel (Genesis 3:15–“I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel”) before you die.

Jesus is God. He created you. He died on the cross to destroy the power of sin and Satan. He rose again to prove that death doesn’t have the last word. You have zero reasons to fail to place your faith in Him. In fact, you have every reason to place your faith in Him. I beg you to do it today!

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus
Sola Scriptura

Thanks for reading.

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