Bible Class – Genesis 3-5 – Notes and Discussion questions
Main passage of study: Gen 3:1 – 5:32
Related passages For:
Ch.3: Isa 14:13-14, Eze 28:11-15, Jn 8:44, Rev 12:9, 20:2, 2Co 11:3, 1Ti 2:14-15, Ro 5:12,19, 1Co 15:22, Ro 8:20-22, Rev 22:2
Ch.4: He 11:4, 12:24, Ju 11
Ch.5: Ge 1:26, He 11:5, Ju 14-15
Outline & Notes
- Genesis of the curse & the disobedience of one man – Gen 3
- Deception & disobedience – Genesis 3:1-7
- Discourse & defence – Genesis 3:8-13
- Discipline & decree – Genesis 3:14-19
- Death & displacement – Genesis 3:20-24
- Growth of the curse & the death of one man – Gen 4
- Acceptance & anger -Genesis 4:1-7
- Accusation & admonition – Genesis 4:8-15
- Advancement & arrogance -Genesis 4:16-24
- Appointment & appeal – Genesis 4:25-26
- Genealogical curse & the departure of one man – Gen 5
- The first father: Adam – Genesis 5:1-5
- The following fathers: Seth to Jared – Genesis 5:6-17
- The favoured father: Enoch – Genesis 5:8-24
- The final fathers (before the flood): Methuselah to Noah – Genesis 5:25-32
These chapters narrate the tragic plunging into sin of the human race and its sad ramifications throughout the first few generations of human history. Chapter 3, in particular, is an important chapter from a doctrinal perspective as we have important lessons to learn about the nature and consequences of sin, the wiles of the devil, and God’s plan of redemption. Outside of a couple notable exceptions, chapters 4 and 5 recount a downward spiral of defiance and death marching toward the worldwide judgement of the flood.
Notes on context
● We don’t know how much time elapsed between Genesis 2 and 3 but we do have some parameters to go by as Gen 5:3 tells us that Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old and he was born after Abel’s death, it would seem as a mature man. And Cain and Abel are not born until after the events of chapter 3.
● The serpent of Gen 3 is not called Satan here but we can assume he either took the form of a serpent or embodied one from other Scriptures (Rev 12:9, 20:2)
● We can assume that since God declared all that He had made to be “very good” at the end of Gen 1, that the fall of Satan must have occurred sometime between then and Gen 3:1.
● We can also assume a significant population growth by the events of Gen 4 as when Cain’s punishment is pronounced, he is concerned about being killed as a wanderer by those who might find him.
Notes on doctrine
● A simple definition of sin is disobedience to God and we see that clearly in Gen 3. We also see some immediate results of sin including shame, fear, hiding, human effort and the shifting of blame.
● Satan’s strategy is to cast doubt on God’s word and on God’s intentions.
● There are clear violations of headship in Gen 3 as Eve listens to Satan instead of her husband and Adam listens to his wife instead of God.
● Gen 3:15 is the first messianic prophecy in the Bible as the “seed of the woman” who will bruise the serpent’s head is promised.
● It’s interesting that Gen 4 demonstrates for us the acceptable way to approach God after Adam & Eve are cast out of the garden at the end of Gen 3. Abel’s sacrifice is accepted but Cain’s is not for at least 3 reasons: 1) it is without blood, 2) it is the fruit of his own hands, 3) it comes from the ground which is cursed
● In Cain, we have displayed another very human reaction to being confronted with sin. With Adam & Eve, it was to seek to hide and then make excuses; with Cain, it was resentful anger and an indignant attitude (“Am I my brother’s keeper?”).
● It is noteworthy to compare the 7th from Adam through Cain (Lamech) and the 7th from Adam through Seth (Enoch). We are told the most details about these two in each genealogy and from the details of Lamech and his family, we read of earthly pursuits and worldly ambitions. But of Enoch, we are told of his spiritual focus and that “he walked with God”.
● There is an unmistakable refrain throughout the genealogy of Gen 5 – “and he died” – which drives home the truth that “sin when it is finished, brings forth death”.
1. Compare the ways in which both the serpent (Satan) and Eve reference God’s commandment from Gen 2:16-17. What do you notice?
2. How does Satan lead Eve to the point where she decides to partake of the fruit? Take particular note of the triplet in Genesis 3:6 and compare it with 1Jn 2:16 and Lu 4:1-13, where we read of Satan’s temptation of the Lord Jesus.
3. There is clearly a change in Adam & Eve from Genesis 3:7. Which details in the ensuing verses describe their new reality and how can we relate each one to our own experience with sin?
4. Note the consequences pronounced by God on the serpent (both the natural beast and Satan), on the woman and on the man in Genesis 3:14-19. How is each appropriate?
5. What elements of the grace of God do we see in this chapter (Gen 3)?
6. Recall the principle of first mention: that the first mention of a subject carries with it a meaning that will be carried all through the Word of God. Consider the following first mentions in our chapters and suggest each one’s importance:
a) subtil, cunning, crafty (Genesis 3:1) f) sword (Genesis 3:24)
b) curse, cursed (Genesis 3:14) g) offering (Genesis 4:3)
c) sorrow, pain (Genesis 3:16) h) angry, anger (Genesis 4:5)
d) bread (Genesis 3:19) i) blood (Genesis 4:10)
e) garments (Genesis 3:21) j) city (Genesis 4:17)
7. Gen 4:7 has been a difficult verse for commentators to interpret. But one important principle of hermeneutics that may help here is the context principle : that the context of a verse or verses can shed light on its meaning. Read Gen 4:7 again with the verses immediately before and after and then see if you can propose a reasonable interpretation for the verse.
8. Consider Cain’s punishment given in Genesis 4:11-12. How is it appropriate to his sin?
9. Another important principle of hermeneutics to understand is the dispensational principle: that God deals in a particular way with man with respect to man’s responsibility to God according to different dispensations of time, each of which has certain identifiable features as outlined in the table below. Now in Gen 3-5, we have the first two dispensations represented: that of innocence (from the creation of man to the fall) and that of conscience (from the fall of man to the flood). Try to fill in as much of the chart as possible based on the Gen 3-5.
|Failure of man:|
10. The birth of Seth, whose name means “appointed”, is described in Genesis 4:25 and so the last two verses of chapter 4 provide a ray of light in a rather dark chapter. How do these verses serve as a link between chapters 3-5?
11. Note the way that Gen 5 opens: “This is the book of the generations of Adam” . Compare this verse with Gen 2:4, 6:9, 10:1 and 11:10. What do you notice? Now compare Gen 5:1 with Matt 1:1. What do you notice? Suggest a reason for this.
12. We are told very little about Enoch in Gen 5 but what we are told is significant: that he “walked with God” and that “God took him”. It is important to look at every mention of a character or a subject in Scripture. Where else do we read about Enoch and how does the additional information help us to understand this character better?