Romans 1–2 & Genesis 1–3: A Narrative & Its Backstory

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 1:  Sunday & Monday

I’ve decided to use Michael Coley’s plan in 2011, because I’m intrigued by the way he divided Bible readings into Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels—one category for each day of the week. I also like the idea of beginning with Romans because it’s my favorite book in the Bible. I’ve printed his chart to keep in my Bible. It doesn’t have dates, but just days of the week; I don’t know about you, but not having a date in front of me takes off some of the pressure of feeling that reading the Bible is one more thing to do, and that’s something I really want to avoid. Having the chart on a piece of paper I can keep with me will also help me know what to read next if I’m not at home. I have a small three-ring notebook that holds 8½  x 5½ paper, and I can take a page or two of that with me when I go somewhere and have it handy to jot down my thoughts as I read.

Week 1 begins with Romans 1–2 on Sunday, and Genesis 1–3 on Monday.  I prayed before I read and as I read, asking God to teach me. I’ve read Paul’s letter to the Romans I don’t know how many times, because God used Romans 5 to give me understanding of the Gospel. I’ve also read Genesis numerous times, however; I always continue to learn because the Bible is God’s Word; it is living and active, and God, Himself, is there to teach you.

Starting with Romans and then going back to Genesis is like watching a movie that begins with a tense, dramatic scene and then flashes back to tell the story of the paths each characters took in their life to bring them to that opening moment. Romans leads off with Paul’s declaration of the power of the gospel, and then he goes right into the wrath of God revealed against ungodly and unrighteous men. Genesis 1–3 tells you how things came to be that way.

One thing I noticed in Romans 2:8 that stood out in a new way to me are the words Paul uses to describe those who will received God’s wrath and indignation; they are “selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness.” I’ve thought for a long time that James 3:13-18 is a great commentary on Genesis 3, because the selfish ambition mentioned by James that brings “disorder and every evil thing,” echoes Eve’s desire to be like God, and here Paul is saying the same thing about those who don’t obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness.

We don’t usually think of selfish ambition as that big of a sin on a scale of one to ten, but this description strikes to the heart of who we are. When my kids were little, I used to tell them that sin means being your own boss, and that they understood quite easily. C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, has a chapter titled, “The Great Sin.” The chapter is about pride—another name for selfish ambition.

When I turned to Genesis 1–3, I read again of God’s creation of the universe—a universe that Paul explains in Romans 1, gives evidence to man of who God is. As I was reading Genesis 1, when God states he would let man rule over creation, I thought even ruling over creation wasn’t good enough for our selfish ambition. In Eve’s conversation with Satan, I realized how only one command—just one—not to eat of one tree, was enough to reveal Eve’s and Adam’s heart of selfish ambition. Commands cut across our will and reveal our heart. (As an aside, I think it’s one reason why it’s so important to teach your children to obey you as a parent; they learn that they don’t have the final word. If their will and selfish ambition are not curbed, they will later bring ruin to others and to themselves).

As I came to Genesis 3:15, I came full circle back to Romans 1.

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
Genesis 3:15

“Verse 15 is known as the proto-evangelium, the first Gospel,”1 because in this verse we see the first reference to a Redeemer who would bruise the serpent on the head and triumph over him; a Redeemer of whom Paul would write about thousands of years later:

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 1:1–4

John MacArthur has this quote from Martin Luther on Genesis 3:15:

“This text embraces and comprehends within itself everything noble and glorious that is to be found anywhere in the Scriptures.”2

God is good, and in the midst of our ruin and the death and despair of sin, He offers the hope of the Gospel. That’s the message I learned from Romans 1–2, and Genesis 1–3.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications. (Site has been deleted since posting).
1The Proto-Evangelium,” Ligonier Devotionals, Copyright by Ligonier Ministries. See also at Ligonier, “The Significance of Genesis 3:15,” by Derek Thomas.
2John MacArthur, Copyright 2000, Grace to You. All rights reserved.  Used by permission. This Grace to You sermon, “The Curse on the Serpent, Part 2,” originally appeared here

Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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