The basic creation story is found in Genesis 1 and 2, with the account of what happened in the Garden of Eden in chapter 3. Genesis 1 begins before the existence of anything except God Himself. God’s revelation of Himself and His will for mankind is the beginning of the creation story. In this beginning, God created everything in the universe (Genesis 1:1). This includes all the heavenly bodies (including every star and planet), as well as everything on the earth. While the triune nature of God is not explicit in the Genesis account, God does reveal an “us” within the Godhead (Genesis 1:26). The Spirit is active in creation (Genesis 1:2) as is Christ (John 1:1–3; Colossians 1:15–17).
In the six days of creation, God formed light, the universe, and the earth (day 1); the sky and the atmosphere (day 2); dry land and all plant life (day 3); the stars and heavenly bodies, including the sun and moon (day 4); birds and water creatures (day 5); and all the land animals and man (day 6). Mankind is special above all other creatures because he bears the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and has the responsibility to steward and subdue the earth (verse 28). All of creation was completed in six days in all its vast array and wondrous beauty. God announced that His creation was “very good” (verse 31). Genesis 2 sees the ending of God’s creative work and gives a more detailed account of the creation of man.
The seventh day is marked by God’s resting. The rest does not suggest that God was tired; rather, His “rest” was simply a cessation of work. God was done, and the universe was just as He wanted it to be. God’s six days of work, followed by a day of no work, establishes a pattern of taking one day in seven for rest and sets the number of days in the week still in use today. The keeping of the Sabbath later became a distinguishing mark of God’s chosen people (Exodus 20:8–11.)
Genesis 2 takes a closer look at the creation of man. This passage is not a second creation account, nor is it contradictory to Genesis 1. Genesis 2 simply takes a step away from a linear report to refocus the reader on God’s unique work concerning man. God formed man from the dust of the earth He had previously created. After forming man’s body, God breathed life—a soul—into him. The fact that God chose to form man this way shows His great care in this process. God next placed the first man, Adam, in a special place, the Garden of Eden. Eden was beautiful and bountiful. Adam had almost everything he needed, including food and productive work. However, God was not done with man.
God helped Adam to see his need for a mate by having him review all the other creatures and naming them (Genesis 2:19–20). At the end of the naming process, Adam understood what he lacked. God caused Adam to sleep and then formed Eve with as much care as He had formed Adam (verses 21–22). Eve was made from Adam’s rib. When God brought Eve to Adam, the man immediately understood that she was special. She was his counterpart, his complement, and flesh of his flesh (verse 23).
God made both Adam and Eve in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). The Bible’s creation account establishes the family as the basic building block of society (Genesis 1:24; cf. Matthew 19:5–6). As a God-ordained institution, marriage is to be only between one man and one woman.
Adam and Eve were created in a state of innocence (Genesis 1:25) and had not committed any sin. They enjoyed communion with God in Eden and the freedom to eat of whatever trees of the garden they wished, except for one (Genesis 2:16–17). Part of their relationship with God was the inclusion of one simple rule: Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).
At some point Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat from the forbidden tree, which she did. Adam also ate and joined his wife in disobedience (Genesis 3:1–6). When Adam and Eve sinned against God, they lost their innocence and their nature was corrupted (Genesis 3:7–12). Sin brought consequences. The process of death began immediately. God cursed the serpent to crawl forever on the ground and be hated by men (verses 14–15). God punished Eve to pain in childbirth and conflict with her husband (verse 16), and He punished Adam with toil and hardship in his labors (verses 17–19). And Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden and denied access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22–24).
In His great mercy, God also covered Adam and Eve’s shame (Genesis 3:21) and gave them a message of hope in the promise of a Redeemer. The Bible’s first mention of the coming Messiah is found in Genesis 3:15, often called the protoevangelium. The Seed of the woman would come to crush the head of the Serpent, at the cost of being bruised Himself. So, an integral part of the creation story is a prediction of Jesus’ death on the cross and His triumph over Satan and the curse.