How to Read and Understand Genesis

bible study genesis how to read and understand Dec 20, 2019

One of my very first memories of reading the book of Genesis was in 6th grade at an upward basketball game, hiding behind a stack of chairs. My friend Rebecca had told me that she read the book of Genesis the night before, and not to be outdone, I obviously had to read the whole book too. I remember wondering why Enoch was “taken” instead of dying like all the rest of the old guys and I can pinpoint my fascination with the story of Joseph to that read through. That fascination led me to check out books about Joseph regularly from our church library. 

Fast forward a few years and my plans to read the Bible all the way through were constantly stunted about the time I finished Genesis, so it is probably one of my most-read books of the Bible. 

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Genesis is the first book of the Bible and the beginning story of all creation. The word genesis literally translates to “origins.” This book tells the story of how God created humanity, how humanity messed it all up and then begins the story of how God plans to redeem us anyway. It begins the theme that carries throughout the entire Biblical narrative, that despite our inability to remain faithful to God, He still remains faithful to us. This display of love can be seen from the promise of someone to defeat the serpent in chapter 3, to God’s provision for Abraham’s descendants. As you read through Genesis, make sure to look for these unconventional ways that God provides and displays His love for His people. 

The book of Genesis is attributed to Moses, although it is not officially known who was the author. It is believed that Moses wrote the book in the desert as the Israelites were wandering before making it to the promised land (which you can read more about in Exodus). This would have been around 1400 BC. The author wrote this book to tell the origin story of the people of Israel, and the redeeming love that God has for them. This book perfectly sets up the relationship that God has with the Israelites throughout the New Testament. This reminder of where the Israelites came from would have helped them to see their need for the law that is to come in the next few books. 


  • God’s promises to His people

  • God’s choice of the underdog (weaker, younger, etc) 

  • God working despite human failure

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