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

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 1:  Sunday & Monday

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
Romans 1:16–17

In 2011 as I began reading through the Bible, I also started posting through the Bible writing down my thoughts and reflections on what I read. As the year went on there were some gaps in my posting. I’ve since filled in some of them. Because Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan begins with the Epistles on a Sunday, and New Year’s Day this year is also on a Sunday, I’ve decided to take those old posts, edit them as needed to add new thoughts and work toward finishing posts on the entire Bible during 2023. We are in the midst of looking for a new place to live, so I’m not sure how this will go, but it’s long been on my mind to finish this project so I’ll work and write as I am able. Sometimes my posts will be more devotional and reflective in nature, and sometimes I’ll include quotes and teaching from godly pastors and writers.

As I used Michael Coley’s plan in 2011, I found I loved 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 liked the change from one book to another, and I was intrigued to learn more of how Scripture itself gave insight from one section to another.

I also liked the idea of beginning with Romans because it’s my favorite book in the Bible. I’ve again printed out Foley’s chart to keep in my Bible. 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. There are no dates, so I think that helps take off some of the pressure of keeping up. If you miss a reading, you can go on to the next day of the week and catch up with the other reading later.

I used the Literal Word phone app to read from Romans, and my Legacy Standard Bible to read from Genesis. I also used the Bible Tracker app to check off readings. Use whatever is helpful to you wherever you are.

I prayed before I read and as I read, asking God to teach me. I’ve been through 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.

Week 1 begins with Romans 1–2 on Sunday, and Genesis 1–3 on Monday. You can immediately see what I mean about one section of Scripture explaining another section. That’s always our starting point when we want to understand Scripture: we look to the rest of Scripture to teach us.

This principle was hammered out during the Reformation. R. C. Sproul writes:

The primary rule of hermeneutics [the science of interpretation] was called “the analogy of faith.” The analogy of faith is the rule that Scripture is to interpret Scripture: Sacra Scriptura sui ipsius interpres: (Sacred Scripture is its own interpreter). This means quite simply, that no part of Scripture can be interpreted in such a way to render it in conflict with what is clearly taught elsewhere in Scripture.

My pastor Mike Braun used to compare it to an inverted triangle: a verse or passage at the tip of the point, with all the rest of Scripture above it, bringing understanding to that verse or passage.

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 character took to bring them to that opening moment.

Codex Boernarianus with text of Romans 1:15:
So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel
to you also who are in Rome.

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. In Romans Paul looks around at the current landscape of the world we live in. In Genesis we learn about the Creator Paul refers to in Romans 1, and we learn why the world is the way it is.

One thing I noticed in Romans 2:8 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.” This Greek word for selfish ambition is also found in 2 Corinthians 12:20 (disputes); Galatians 5:20 (disputes); Philippians 1:17, 2:3; and James 3: 14, 16. For years I’ve thought 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 the consequences of the Fall. (See also Francis Schaeffer’s discussion of Romans 7 and coveting). Here Paul is saying the same thing about those who don’t obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness: they are selfishly ambitious. 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 they understood that quite easily. We are each selfishly ambitious to rule our world, in other words, to be like God.

When I turned to Genesis 1–3, I read again of God’s creation of the universe—a universe that in Romans 1 Paul explains gives evidence to man of who God is, leaving man without excuse. 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 quotes 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.”3

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.

What did you learn from Romans and Genesis that is a lamp to your feet and a light to the path you will walk today?


Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Fragment of Codex Boernarianus with text of Romans 1:15: Public Domain.
1R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1977) 46. I highly recommend this book. It will really help you with your Bible study. It’s short, readable, and easy to understand.
2“The Proto-Evangelium,” Ligonier Devotionals, Copyright by Ligonier Ministries. See also at Ligonier, “The Significance of Genesis 3:15,” by Derek Thomas.
3John 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 ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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