Genesis 1 and the Storyline of Scripture

by Todd Chipman October 22, 2020

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Scripture Storyline: An Invitation to Biblical Theology by MBTS professor and pastor of Masters Community Church, Dr. Todd Chipman. Scripture Storyline was written to help “pastors, teachers in the church, and students explore intertextual links between the Old and New Testaments as stitching that unifies the Bible.” The volume is available now from Fontes Press.

Genesis 1 (Psalms 33, 136, 148)

The opening chapter of the Old Testament establishes a framework for understanding all of Scripture. In Genesis 1, God demonstrated His power through His word. Using no pre-existent physical matter, God spoke and created the universe (Heb 11:3). But the emphasis of Genesis 1—as well as Psalms 33, 136, 148, and others—is upon the excellence of God’s creative word.

Throughout Genesis 1, the author of Genesis repeated God’s statements of self-commendation. In Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, God recognized His own creative acts as “good.” In a summary statement in Gen 1:31, God called His work “very good.” Genesis 1 provides an account of the created order and God’s self-evaluation. In God’s view, everything went according to plan. It is no wonder then that in Psalm 148, the Psalmist called even the sun, moon, and stars to praise their Creator.

In the storyline of Scripture, the natural world is the framework within which the drama of redemption unfolds. Psalm 136:1-9 accentuates God’s wisdom and power in creation and the balance of the Psalm recounts the exodus—all with the refrain: “His love is eternal.” God’s redemptive purpose in creation is also portrayed in Psalm 33, where the Creator is confessed as the source of national protection for Israel (Ps 33:12-22).

The authors of the New Testament described creation and redemption as activities that both God and Jesus accomplished together.

(1) John began his Gospel by describing Jesus as the Word, God’s agent in the cre- ative acts of Genesis 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created” (John 1:1-3). John went on to explicate Jesus’ role in redemption, writing, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

(2) In his letter to the Colossians, Paul described Jesus as God’s agent in creation, writing, “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation; because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together” (Col 1:15-17). Paul turned immediately to the roles God and Jesus fulfill in re- demption: “He (Jesus) is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross—whether things on earth or things in heaven” (Col 1:15-20).

(3) At the outset of his Epistle, the author of Hebrews coordinated the work of the Father and Son in creation and redemption, noting that God accomplished both by His word. In Heb 1:1-3, the author stated that in former times God spoke by the prophets of Israel but in the last days spoke through His Son. The Father appointed the Son as heir of all things and through the Son created the universe. The Son, by His word, sustains the created order. He is able to sustain the universe because after the Son atoned for sins, He sat down of the right hand of the Father, the majestic and exalted One.

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