What Does the Book of Genesis Say About Jesus?

Moody Bible Commentary
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For the Christian who affirms the inspiration of Scripture and its divine authorship there can be no question that Genesis—as every part of the Hebrew Bible—has much to say about the Messiah. This was affirmed by Jesus Himself, who, when appearing unrecognized to those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” beginning “with Moses and with all the prophets” (Lk 24:27). Christ may have begun with Genesis, the first book of “Moses” (here intended as a metonymy for the Pentateuch).

The Christology of Genesis accordingly may be divided into two general categories: direct Christology and indirect Christology. Direct Christology comprises those passages in which direct verbal reference (i.e., a predictive utterance) is made to the person and work of the Messiah, such as Gn 3:15 on the Messiah’s victory over Satan. Also belonging to this category is the culminating Abrahamic promise in 12:3 of blessing for “all the families of the earth” (this “blessing” being salvation in Abraham’s seed, Christ), as well as Jacob’s statement in 49:10, in which he referred to a future ruler to come from Judah, to whom “shall be the obedience of the peoples.”

To the category of indirect Christology belong those symbolic portents of the person and work of Christ otherwise described in the NT by the term “type” (typos) or “shadow” (skia) (both terms are applied to the temple and its sacrificial ritual in Heb 8:5). Among those indirect representations of Christ and His work in Genesis are Adam, “a type of Him who was to come” (Rm 5:14), and Isaac, whom Abraham “received . . . back as a type” (Heb 11:19).

A third category is by far the most extensive, though it does not pertain to Christology proper. “Christology,” whether direct or indirect, concerns the person and work of Christ, which began with His incarnation by conception in Mary. In Genesis, however, as throughout the OT, the Son of God appears (usually in the form of a man) in various situations that are not connected to his future role as Christ. These preincarnational appearances of the Son, otherwise termed “theophanies” (meaning “appearances of God”), or more precisely “Christophanies” (i.e., “appearances of the Christ”), are of great significance. That the many appearances of God throughout the OT are indeed always appearances of the Son is made clear by John’s pointed statement at the beginning of his gospel (Jn 1:18), that “no one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” John’s point is that the triune God is made known to man— whether in the past, present, or future—always and only by the manifestation of the Son.

For Further Reading:

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