Comparing the Book of John and Genesis
Similarities between Genesis 1 and John 1 are that they both function as creation stories in the sense that they refer to the origin of life on earth. This similarity is explicitly highlighted since both accounts begin with the words “In the beginning….” (Gen 1:1, John 1:1). Both mention God as creator of life and light. As that creator, he separates those from the preexisting death and darkness (Gen 1: 1-5, Jn 1:4-5). The two stories also reference the idea of God’s Word being the force of creation. God speaks in Genesis, and life comes into being (Gen 1:11-13). In John, he speaks through the power of his Word (Jesus) to baptize (that is, make men into children of God) (Jn 1:9-14). Finally, God calls man to “witness to the light”, that is, participate in his work of creation. He commands Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” in Genesis, but in John, John the Baptist is speaking of God’s saving grace that draws people to the light and glory of the Trinity’s communion-love (Gen 1:28, Jn 1:6-8, 14-18).
The major difference between these two chapters, though, is that Genesis 1 comes from the Old Testament and John 1 belongs to the New. Therefore, the Genesis account speaks of God’s original creation, while John is writing about how God redeemed it. Nothing is wrong is the original creation, with God seeing that “it was very good” (Gen 1:31). However, God needs to save his fallen creation in John by manifesting himself in a new creation because his creation is so perverted to the point where it cannot recognize it as their creator (Jn 1: 9-13). Therefore, despite their similarities involving vocabulary, images, and symbols, Genesis ends up describing the original, perfect work of creation, while John describes God’s new, redeemed, glorified creation.
Ultimately, these differences and similarities reveal that the theological message of Genesis speaks of God’s power to create man for the purpose of perpetuating his work of creation. In John, that underlying message references God’s power to create anew in man when he failed to live up to his divine calling. Even after the Fall, God sent his Son to redeem and glorify man. Thanks to Christ, man no longer has just the purpose of being a coworker-slave of God; man’s vocation is to create with God and live in his love as adopted son. Being “born of God” now, man now can be in “closest relationship with the Father” as Christ is (Jn 1:13, 18).
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