What does Genesis 1:28 mean?
ESV: 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.”
NIV: 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.'
NASB: 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.'
CSB: 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."
NLT: 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.'
KJV: 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.
After creating humans as male and female in the previous verse, God pronounces His blessing on these first people who are made in His image. Built into the blessing is the capacity to reproduce new generations of human beings—and the command to do so.
God gives four instructions: Be fruitful (or "bear fruit," have babies). Multiply (as each new generation has more kids and they have more kids). Fill the earth (populate). Have dominion (or authority and management) over all the other creatures.
These commands frame many important aspects of a Christian worldview. One crucial point to note is that the commands to reproduce and multiply came prior to the fall of man in Genesis chapter 3. In blunt terms, this means that God created mankind with the capacity for sex, and sexual reproduction, and intended us to utilize those abilities. Sex, therefore, is not sinful in and of itself. Of course, like all good things, sex has a proper context: marriage. And yet, this simple point—that God created us as intentionally sexual creatures—speaks against the recurring myth that the Bible considers sex itself to be morally wrong.
As explained in Genesis chapter 2, God would directly create only two humans. The rest of us would come from them, one generation after the next. Humankind's first responsibilities would be to fill up the earth with people and to care for the earth as God's representatives.
Genesis 1:26–31 describes the origin of human beings, the most unique of all God's creations. As with other aspects of the creation account, very few details are given. The information we are given, however, is unmistakable. Man is uniquely created ''in the image'' of God, invested with authority over the earth, and commanded to reproduce. These points each establish critical aspects of the Christian worldview, and the proper attitude towards humanity. As with other portions of this chapter, debates over certain details do not override the central truth: man is the purposeful creation of the One True God, and represents something special in this universe as a result.
Genesis 1 is nothing less than a bare-bones claim that God created the universe. Setting all of the debates on models and interpretations aside, the chapter undeniably insists on one thing: God means to be known as the Creator of all things. Written in the original Hebrew language according to a rigid, poetic structure, the chapter unfolds in a series of patterns and revelations. For those who believe these words, our response should be nothing less than to worship our Maker.
Genesis 1 is the first chapter of what came to be known as the Pentateuch: the first five books of the Bible. Likely written by Moses, Genesis 1 begins the story of God and His relationship with His people Israel. The role of God as Creator is not only important for setting up His work in later chapters, but also in His supremacy and authority for all of the other words of the Scriptures. God intends first to be known to all peoples as the Creator of all things—from sun, moon, and stars, to human life itself. And as the Creator, He is owed worship by all He has made, including and especially human beings
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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