Genesis 1-5, Matthew 1-5
By CJ Davis
Happy New Year, Harvest! So excited for those of you who are following along in our Reading Plan – these next two years, by God’s grace, are really going to be a blessing and even on day five, I’m already experiencing that!
I wanted to share some reflections on these opening chapters of Genesis and Matthew as we begin our journey together. Instead of focusing on one interesting thing in one particular chapter, I’d like to try and highlight how all of Scripture is in communication with itself. The New Testament writers were steeped in the Hebrew Scriptures and it really shows! So let’s look at a couple of the ways that Matthew’s Gospel parallels the opening chapters of Genesis.
For starters, Matthew’s genealogy begins with the word “genesis” twice! Once in verse 1, “the genesis of the genealogy of Jesus…” and again in verse 18, “Now the genesis of Jesus Christ was as follows…”. There are six sets of seven generations, culminating in the life of Jesus and his people, just like there are six days of creation culminating in a seventh day where God dwells with his creation. Genealogies are peppered all throughout Genesis and Matthew roots his presentation of Jesus in a genesis, a beginning – but this time it is a new beginning in Jesus!
There are similarities as well as differences in these chapters too. Take Genesis 2 and Matthew 2 for example. One is a picture of pristine abundance, safety, security, and the presence of God with his children. Matthew 2 however, seems like the world of Genesis 2 is a distant memory – a faraway dream. Fear, deceit, anger, fleeing a homeland, and the murder of children dominate the narrative. Matthew 2 is the world of Genesis 2 gone wrong – but the promise is still protected!
Genesis 3 promises that the descendants of the serpent would war with the descendants of the woman and in Matthew 3, John calls the religious leaders the descendants of serpents! The great irony here is that the leaders of God’s chosen people have themselves become the seed of the serpent instead of the image-bearers they were called to be.
Genesis 4 is the first story told outside the protection of the garden where sin and the serpent can run wild. This wilderness is the same place Jesus is led out to in Matthew 4 and confronts the one who tempted the first humans – but this time the New Adam does what the first didn’t – he trusts totally in God’s provision. Cain and Abel are two brothers offering sacrifices and one becomes a killer of man, but in Matthew 4 Jesus calls two sets of brothers to be sacrifices and become fishers of man!
Lastly, the Sermon on the Mount maps on to the beginning chapters of Genesis: Jesus references the light of the world, salt of the earth, fulfilling commandments, what it looks like to be an image-bearer, and what it looks like to be fruitful and multiply. It’s no surprise then that after a description of what the blessed person looks like, we get a story about brothers in the context of offering sacrifices and the command to not murder in 5:21-26. Lamech in Genesis 5 brags to his two wives about avenging his enemies, and the rest of Matthew 5 is focused on adultery, swearing vows, forgiving, and loving enemies.
These are just a few examples of the ways in which the texts of Scripture “talk to each other”! As you read through the Bible these next two years, think and reflect on how the entire Old Testament is a story that culminates in Jesus and how the New Testament writers try to show us this! Let the journey genesis (begin).