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Genesis chapter 1

New International Version

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light 'day,' and the darkness he called 'night.' And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day.
6 And God said, 'Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.' 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault 'sky.' And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day.
9 And God said, 'Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.' And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground 'land,' and the gathered waters he called 'seas.' And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.' And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day.
14 And God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.' And it was so. 16 God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day.
20 And God said, 'Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.' 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.' 23 And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day.
24 And God said, 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.' And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'
27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'
29 Then God said, 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food.' And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day.
English Standard Version

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
King James Version

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
New American Standard Bible

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light 'day,' and the darkness He called 'night.' And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
6 Then God said, 'Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.' 7 God made the expanse, and separated the waters that were below the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse; and it was so. 8 God called the expanse 'heaven.' And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
9 Then God said, 'Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear'; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land 'earth,' and the gathering of the waters He called 'seas'; and God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, 'Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit according to their kind with seed in them'; and it was so. 12 The earth produced vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, according to their kind; and God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
14 Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and they shall serve as signs and for seasons, and for days and years; 15 and they shall serve as lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth'; and it was so. 16 God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. 17 God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
20 Then God said, 'Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.' 21 And God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind; and God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.' 23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
24 Then God said, 'Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kind: livestock and crawling things and animals of the earth according to their kind'; and it was so. 25 God made the animals of the earth according to their kind, and the livestock according to their kind, and everything that crawls on the ground according to its kind; and God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, 'Let Us make mankind in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the livestock and over all the earth, and over every crawling thing that crawls on the earth.' 27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.' 29 Then God said, 'Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every animal of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to everything that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food'; and it was so. 31 And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
New Living Translation

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.
3 Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light 'day' and the darkness 'night.' And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.
6 Then God said, 'Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.' 7 And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens.
8 God called the space 'sky.' And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day.
9 Then God said, 'Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.' And that is what happened. 10 God called the dry ground 'land' and the waters 'seas.' And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, 'Let the land sprout with vegetation--every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.' And that is what happened. 12 The land produced vegetation--all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
13 And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day.
14 Then God said, 'Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. 15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.' And that is what happened. 16 God made two great lights--the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, 18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day.
20 Then God said, 'Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.' 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird--each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 Then God blessed them, saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.'
23 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.
24 Then God said, 'Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind--livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.' And that is what happened. 25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, 'Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.'
27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
28 Then God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.'
29 Then God said, 'Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground--everything that has life.' And that is what happened.
31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.
Christian Standard Bible

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." There was an evening, and there was a morning: one day.
6 Then God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters, separating water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above the expanse. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." Evening came and then morning: the second day.
9 Then God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry land "earth," and the gathering of the water he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, "Let the earth produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds." And it was so. 12 The earth produced vegetation: seed-bearing plants according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 Evening came and then morning: the third day.
14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for seasons and for days and years. 15 They will be lights in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule over the day and the lesser light to rule over the night--as well as the stars. 17 God placed them in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth, 18 to rule the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 Evening came and then morning: the fourth day.
20 Then God said, "Let the water swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the large sea-creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged creature according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them: "Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the waters of the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth." 23 Evening came and then morning: the fifth day.
24 Then God said, "Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so. 25 So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth."
27 So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.
28 God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth." 29 God also said, "Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This will be food for you, 30 for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth--everything having the breath of life in it--I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.

What does Genesis chapter 1 mean?

The first chapter of Genesis describes the most extraordinary event in the history of the universe: its creation. Given what this moment represents, and what we know of science and nature, this is often referred to as the greatest of all possible miracles. The opening verses of the book of Genesis are nothing less than an account of how God, with full purpose and intention, made everything that exists.

What this account of creation tells us about God, and His role in our origins, is certainly interesting. What's equally fascinating about these opening verses is what details they do not provide. This, of course, is the reason for the controversy often surrounding Genesis 1. While other events in the Bible may be given many thousands of words, and minute details, the entire subject of creation is handled only briefly in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. Even among those who hold the Bible to be authoritative, inspired, and inerrant, this leaves ample room for disagreement about how these verses are to be read in the present day.

Questions inspired by this chapter have become long-running debates. Was the universe created in six literal 24-hour days, or some longer period of time? Is the text meant to explain a literal process, or symbolically represent the work of God? Is this the account of the absolute beginning moments of earth's existence or had God created something earlier, with events occurring between verses 1 and 2?

All of those questions have various answers; those answers have varied levels of support, and their own unique implications. And yet, despite what some well-meaning believers (and non-believers) might think, most of those varied options don't conflict with the key theological truths of Scripture. As a result, we won't spend a large amount of time or space discussing those specifics in this particular commentary. The bottom line, meeting the purpose of this ministry, is that Genesis chapters 1 and 2 explicitly state several key ideas which are—for those who take the Bible to be the word of God—simply beyond debate. While Bible-believing scholars may disagree on how God created and when God created, one thing is undeniable: Genesis chapter 1 chapter insists that God created.

In other words, no person who claims to believe the Bible is truth can also reject a belief in God as the Creator. If the Scriptures are God's Word—and they are—then God intends to be known as the Creator of all things.

More than likely, this text was originally written by Moses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Moses, thanks to his upbringing (Exodus 2:1–10), was very familiar with pagan religious views. During the time in which Genesis was written, many cultures engaged in the worship of sun, moon, stars, seas, sea creatures, and other natural wonders. Genesis 1 counters that culture, as well as the naturalism of our modern day, by claiming that none of those things are gods. Rather, they are merely things created by the one, true God. He alone is worthy of worship because He alone is the Maker. In the following chapters, we will come to know Him as the God of Israel.

Genesis chapter 1 unfolds a story using repetition and rhythm. This passage was originally composed in the Hebrew language, under an often-rigid structure. These verses describe God's decrees of creation through the context of six individual days.

Many patterns are built into the text of this opening chapter. For example, one recurrence is God preparing the world to sustain something, such as life, before creating that very thing in the same general order. So, on day one, God creates light; on day four, He creates the sun, moon, and stars to distribute that light. On day two, God separates the waters, creating the oceans; on day five, He populates the oceans with sea creatures of every kind. On day three, He creates dry land and fills it with vegetation; on day 6, He creates animal and human life ready to consume the fruit and plants that existed.

Genesis 1 is a rich, detailed chapter. This text is only the beginning of a fascinating, essential book for all who would know and understand God. Readers are strongly encouraged to take their time in reading and understanding these words, and to enjoy the time spent gaining insight into the handiwork of God (Psalm 19:1).