7 Frameworks to See Christ in Genesis

the-gospel-in-genesis-1360x277As we begin to study the Gospel in Genesis, it is important to approach the Bible’s first book appropriately. It is easy to run into several dangers when studying through this book. We must realize the Old Testament, while Jewish literature, is a part of the Christian Bible. Right interpretation (hermeneutics) takes the entire Old Testament in light of the other, as we know we miss major theological and redemptive understandings when we isolate the New Testament from the Old. We must also treat Genesis as a Hero story, not hero stories. While Abraham has tremendous faith and Joseph vigilantly honors God before the Pharaoh, the subject of Genesis is God. God is the center of Genesis, and Genesis attests throughout the different stories of the Patriarchs that God is the Good News in each account. As I preach, and I pray as you study Genesis, we will use these 7 frameworks to see Christ from the beginning.

  1. Redemptive-Historical Progression. God’s redeeming work of mankind is all throughout the Bible. All of redemptive history centers on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is currently reigning from heaven until He comes again. The Bible begins with God creating the world. From there, the Bible documents God’s redemptive acts in Israel. The New Testament Gospel accounts answer the redemptive longing of the Old Testament prophets: Christ came to redeem. From the ascension of Christ until His return we see God’s redemptive acts in church and world history. We long for Christ’s return as that will bring about the New Creation. Understanding this storyline enhances our view of Genesis, as from the beginning it faces the Christian reader towards Christ.
  2. Promise-Fulfillment. When Genesis contains a promise of the coming Messiah (Genesis has many!), our minds ought to race to the New Testament to show the ultimate fulfillment of that promise in Jesus Christ. It is important hear to not isolate verses from context. An example of properly identifying this would be Genesis 3:15. When the Lord God says to the serpent his head will be crushed, we look to the cross. Christ’s heel was bruised (think poetically) while Satan’s head was crushed by the power of the ultimate sacrifice.
  3. Typology. A third road from an Old Testament text to Christ is typology. Typology is distinct from prophecy in that prophetic announcements are just that: announcements or words from the Lord. Typology points us to The great Antitype, the person and/or work of Jesus Christ, just the same as prophecy, but through Old Testament redemptive events, persons, or institutions can function as types which foreshadow the great Antitype, the person and/or work of Jesus Christ. Finding the type in the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac is seeing the Lord provide the ram. The type is not necessarily that Isaac bore the wood for the sacrifice on the way in a similar manner that Christ bore the cross to Golgotha.

  4. Analogy. Using analogy exposes parallels between what God taught Israel and what Christ teaches the church; what God promised Israel and what Christ promises the church; what God promised Israel and what Christ promises the church; what God demanded of Israel (the law) and what Christ demands of his church. Examples of Genesis analogies are God telling Abram to leave his country and family to where He would lead. This sort of obedience–following God where He leads–is expected of all followers of Christ. We read God “will show [Abram]” where to go. We then draw the connection to God’s promise to His commissioned followers: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

  5. Longitudinal Themes. While this way will often overlap with first, redemptive-historical progression, it is distinct in focusing on the development of theological ideas rather than development in redemptive history. This is a technical term in the discipline of Biblical Theology. For examples, we connect themes such as God’s coming kingdom, God’s covenant, and God’s grace from the beginnings of Genesis to teachings and realizations from Jesus’ life.

  6. New Testament References. Sometimes the New Testament alludes to or quotes specific texts and links it to Christ. If your Bible contains cross references (which is a great feature to look for in your next Bible purchase) this way might be the easiest for a first-time reader or Bible Scholar to connect a Genesis passage to Christ or to connect a passage in the New Testament to Genesis. Based on the intentional use of “In the beginning” in John 1:1, we use the surrounding text to take us to Genesis 1:1.These references are found throughout the Epistles and even Revelation.

  7. Contrast. A final road from the Old Testament to Christ is the way of contrast. Because of the coming of Christ the text’s message for the contemporary church may be quite different from the original message for Israel. Let’s be careful to know the distinction in contrast (showing differences) and contradict (showing opposition). To see this, let’s consider circumcision and baptism. Circumcision is the outward, physical sign of being God’s people for the Israelites. When Christ came, He set a new precedent in which the early church fervently followed: baptism. The way the church shows outward, physical belonging to Christ is baptism.

Among these 7 ways of seeing Christ in Genesis is why we will cross reference passages throughout the Old and New Testaments in Growth Group material and supporting sermon texts. I pray, through this series, you would come to see more and more of the cohesive story of redemption and the unity of God’s Word. We need not look further than Genesis 1 to see the power of God’s words, but we praise Him because He has given us His Word of truth. May we see and faithfully proclaim the Gospel in Genesis.


*The 7 frameworks were published by Sidney Greidanus in his work Preaching Christ From Genesis (2007).

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