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In the Beginning, Paul

How the Apostle Applies Genesis 1–2

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ABSTRACT: Learning to read Genesis 1–2 through Paul’s eyes cuts through the stalemate of contemporary debates about the age of the earth and mode of its creation, for Paul turns readers’ attention instead to the glory of the triune Creator and the given goodness of what he has made. Paul applies creation theology to practical church issues, the nature of sin, the doctrine of bodily resurrection, and the glory of the created order as he calls Christians to worship their Creator in wonder, joy, and hope.

Creation. “In the beginning.” Genesis 1. Such words stimulate surprising passion in some who crave debating about “days” and “literal” and “science” with people they long to humble. Some good can come from these debates. Meanwhile, avoidance stirs in others, perhaps because of experiences with some from the former group.

For me, however, joy and hope emerge. Joy surges as I deeply engage the lovely Creator and his creation as expressed in Genesis 1–2. And hope rises mainly because I explore the beginning from an unusual angle — through someone else’s eyes.

Creation Through Paul’s Eyes

Picture a church infested with sexual sin. To help, the pastor brings up Genesis 1–2. The same church is tearing itself apart over disagreements about food and conscience. The pastor brings up Genesis 1–2 again. The members disagree about how men and women should act during gatherings. Genesis 1–2 again. Some demean others based on their “gifts.” Genesis 1–2. Some smirk with seeming sophistication at the idea of bodily resurrection. The pastor gives them a long talk about — yes, Genesis 1–2. Meet the Corinthian church and the pastoral apostle Paul.

Whenever I mention that I explore how Paul interprets and applies Genesis 1–2, I am immediately asked — almost without exception — “What did Paul believe about the ‘days’?” Paul doesn’t tell us. Rather than bogging us down in endless debates, looking at Genesis 1–2 through Paul’s eyes helps us form a more robust understanding of creation and its application to Christians in practical life struggles.

In this essay, we will focus narrowly on God’s creation of the world through Paul’s eyes. The apostle comments at least as often on God’s creation of humanity — image, dominion, male and female, dust, and more — but we will save those for elsewhere.1 God’s creation of everything is the context to understand humanity, so we will begin there — in the beginning. We will then focus on the phrases “let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), “and it was so” (first in used 1:7), “according to their kinds” (first used in 1:11), and finally “very good” (1:31). Why those phrases? Because as he pastored struggling Christians, Paul locked onto those phrases regarding God’s creation of the world.

‘In the Beginning’

“God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Is this a record of God’s first act of creation (with light his second),2 with “the heavens and the earth” referring to elemental matter or the bare structures of the two realms? Or is 1:1 a summary of all God does in 1:2–31, like a title with its mirrored conclusion in 2:1?3 This question is debated, but Paul does not help us answer the question.4 What Paul does reveal is a profound and applicable interpretation of God’s creation of “all things.”

From, Through, For

While writing 1 Corinthians (perhaps in early AD 55),5 Paul engages the believers’ disagreement about eating idol meat, challenging them about their interactions with saints whose consciences clash (chapters 8–10).6 Twice he introduces creation.

In 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6, Paul inserts the gist of Genesis 1 by packing prepositional phrases with a powerful metaphysical punch:

As to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” . . . For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Some Corinthians were using monotheism to justify eating food sacrificed to idols (8:4). Paul agrees with their underlying monotheism, of course. In fact, toward the end of this complex argument, Paul outright states in 1 Corinthians 10:25–26 (quoting Psalm 24:1),

Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”

In Psalm 24, the earth and everything in it belongs to the Lord (24:1) because he created it (24:2). For Paul, because the Creator owns everything, it is truly — as an abstract idea — not wrong to eat what is sold in the market, regardless of its past associations. But for Paul, abstract theological truth is not all that the church needs, and he plants this seed at the beginning of his argument.

In 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul points out that the one Lord God of the Shema — “the Lord [Yahweh or Kyrios in the Greek translation] our God [Theos], the Lord [Kyrios] is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4) — is the Father and Jesus.7 (And, of course, the Spirit too, though this context is not about the Spirit.) Paul writes that we have “one God [Theos], the Father . . . and one Lord [Kyrios], Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

What is more, this one Lord-God created everything: all things are “from” the Theos (God the Father) and “through” the Kyrios (Jesus). Even we exist “for” this one Theos (Father) and “through” this one Kyrios (Jesus). This mysterious creational monotheism deeply affects our relational practices. For the Lord through whom everything (even we) exists is the same Lord who died — the Kyrios-Creator willingly died — for those with poor theology and thus weak consciences (1 Corinthians 8:11). Truly knowing the Lord God of creation — who includes the Lord who died for all believers — must affect how we treat others, even those who disagree with us,8 as well as how we formulate our theological opinions.

Creation Reflects His Glory

About a year after Paul wrote his meaty moral letter of 1 Corinthians, he wrote a massive missional letter to the Roman Christians (perhaps in AD 56). He sought to knit back together their ethnically torn communal fabric so that they could function as a sound and God-honoring trampoline to launch his mission further west.

With this aim, Paul quickly draws their eyes to the Creator in Romans 1:19–25:

What can be known about God is plain to [humans], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him. . . . [They] exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. . . . They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!

When Paul looks at creation and thinks about the Creator of everything,9 he does not debate the age of the earth. Rather, looking through Paul’s eyes, we immediately see the Creator’s own nature and value. In the beginning, God. God said. God made. God called. Paul’s eyes fix on the Creator’s eternal power, deity, imperishability, eternal blessedness, as well as how he alone deserves to be honored, thanked, venerated, and worshiped as he truly is. What is more, Paul considers that all humans, simply by looking at the things God has made, are morally culpable — “without excuse” — for not glorifying, thanking, venerating, and serving this God, and only this God, as he clearly deserves.10

Imagine a synagogue attendant handing Paul the scroll of Genesis to preach from chapter 1. Oh, the majesty of God that would be on high display, and the human moral humility demanded! And there is more.11 Don’t forget Jesus — Paul certainly doesn’t.

The Exalted Image

Half a decade later (possibly in AD 61), Paul was in prison writing to the Colossians. They needed their eyes firmly readjusted. So, in Colossians 1:16, Paul mentions the creation of everything and its relationship to Jesus — the King, the beloved Son.

Virtually every phrase leading to Paul’s confession of creation in 1:16 highlights the royal supremacy of God’s beloved Son — the resurrected and enthroned King Jesus — and the saints’ inheritance in him (1:12–14). Continuing in the vein of Jesus’s reign, Paul writes, “He is the image of the invisible God” (1:15). Paul’s listeners might naturally think of Adam, the visible image of God who was to have dominion over God’s kingdom (Genesis 1:26–28).12 Adam even ruled as God’s son (see Genesis 5:1–3; Luke 3:38).13

Paul then calls the enthroned Jesus “the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15) — the chief inheritor with rights of authority.14 Though this would be another fitting title for Adam, God actually used a phrase like it for King David and his anointed descendant-kings: “I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:27). This “firstborn” would even rule God’s kingdom as God’s son (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:7).

Depictions of King Jesus as the new Adam and Davidic king are glorious, but not surprising. The surprise comes in Paul’s next statement. King Jesus is these because

by him [en autō]15 all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him [di’ autou] and for him [eis auton]. (Colossians 1:16)

At this point, while listening to Paul’s letter, a Colossian believer might think, “Wow — ‘like’ Adam and David in some ways, but infinitely better!” Another might respond, “Everything created by, through, and even for Jesus? That sounds fitting only for the one Lord God of Genesis 1!” Still another might add, “And of Isaiah 45:5–7!”

This human-King-divine-Creator, Jesus, is enthroned where our hope is laid up (Colossians 1:5). Surely nothing in Colossae or in all creation can hamper his blood-bought peace. It is worth pausing and worshiping Jesus, our King and Creator. But don’t pause indefinitely, for Paul has more light to shed on life under this Creator.

‘Let There Be Light’

Light often describes God in Scripture.16 It portrays “the glory of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:1; Ezekiel 1:26–28), specially seen in God’s face (Numbers 6:25) — the seat of relational knowledge. As the Lord talked with Moses face to face like a friend (Exodus 33:11), even Moses’s face mirrored God’s glory by shining visibly for a time (34:29–35).

“Even though Paul has a robust doctrine of the fall, he still sees creational glory everywhere.”

For Paul, Moses was the greatest figure in Israel’s fallen history. But he was not the goal. Even before the ages, God had wisely predestined Jesus for our glory (1 Corinthians 2:7). Moses’s glory, like Adam’s in the beginning,17 was a true glory (2 Corinthians 3:7–11); it was perfect (flawless) for what God intended Moses to be and do. But God never intended Moses’s glory to be the perfected (full and final) glory (3:7–4:6). Like Adam’s glory, Moses’s glory could even be considered “no glory” when compared to the surpassing face, mirror, and image of the preordained, resurrected King Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:10–11).

So, Paul shades Moses’s fading face from the Corinthians’ view and turns their attention to God’s brightness in the resurrected, Spirit-giving Jesus, the fullest and final “image of God” (3:12–4:5). And in 2 Corinthians 4:6, Paul lights a cosmic fuse: “The God who said, ‘Out of darkness light will shine’ shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (author’s translation).

For Paul, God’s two creations (original and new) are in some ways similar.18 It is the same God planning and doing both, after all. Genesis 1:2–3 says, “Darkness was over the face of the deep . . . and God said . . .” Paul writes, “The God who said, ‘Out of darkness . . .’” Genesis 1:3 says, “‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Paul writes, “Light will shine,” and “[he has] shone . . . light.”

Paul is far from the first to use light and darkness to challenge or encourage God’s people. The prophets often portrayed God’s judgment as his de-creation of light, removing the sun and moon of Genesis 1:14–19 and the light of Genesis 1:3,19 and his salvation as God’s re-creation of light, reinserting light and life into darkness and death (Isaiah 9:1–3). Indeed, in the very end we will be “enlightened” not by sun or moon but by “the light” that is “the glory of God,” for the Lord himself will be our “everlasting light” by his Spirit (Revelation 21:22–25; Isaiah 60:19–20).

As Paul calls the Corinthians back to the Speaker of light, he speaks of the light of God’s glory with an Isaianic accent,20 which adds a note of profound hope in God’s display of glory. For even “the god of this world,” who blinds unbelievers’ minds (2 Corinthians 4:4), cannot prevent the Creator from illuminating our hearts with Christ’s face (4:6).

‘And It Was So’

What God says, he does. The first divine words in the Bible are elegant in simplicity and powerful in effect (Genesis 1:3). God said, “Let there be light,” and light came about. After that first occurrence, Moses rhythmically impresses upon his listeners even the feeling of perfection with another six occurrences of “and it was so” — or, clearer, “and it came about in this manner” — making a perfect seven.

The Corinthian church needed a large dose of order and humility. Paul brings this perfectly (sevenfold) rhythmic aspect of the Creator’s character to bear on them in force in 1 Corinthians 15.

Some in the church doubted the bodily resurrection, and Paul promptly dispels that foolishness (15:12–34). He then focuses on two narrower questions. Here is Paul’s logic in 15:35–49 (with the places he mentions creation in bold):

  • In 15:35, Paul raises their further questions: “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”
  • In 15:36–43, Paul gives a preface, saying (in effect), “How? Consider the Creator — don’t you know him? — how he has always structured fleshes, bodies, and glories exactly as he wanted in Genesis 1.”
  • In 15:44a, Paul gives his direct answer: “[In what body?] It is sown a soulish [psychikon] body;21 it is raised a Spiritual [pneumatikon] body” (author’s translation).22
  • In 15:44b–49, Paul gives his explanation, saying (again in effect),

Look at Adam’s body in Genesis 2:7. It was created “a living soul” (psyche), so Adam’s physical (created) body was a psychikon body. And look at how Adam’s created bodily “image” was passed to those in him (due to the creative principle in Genesis 5:3).

Compare the last Adam’s (Jesus’s) body in his resurrection. It was resurrected by “the Spirit” (pneuma), so Jesus’s physical (resurrected) body is a pneumatikon body. And the last Adam’s resurrected bodily “image” will be passed to those in him (due to the same creative principle).

In 1 Corinthians 15:36–38, Paul plants a seed that prefaces his answer to their questions about the mechanics of the resurrection:

Foolish person! . . . What you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.

Even though Jesus was raised, what about those loved ones who die in Christ and have rotted away — unlike Jesus himself? “How” and “in what body” can they be raised? Well, have you considered the God of Genesis 1?23 Everything God did perfectly came about in the manner God wanted. As Paul words it, “God gives it a body as he has chosen” (15:38). So too in the resurrection (15:42).

‘According to Their Kinds’

Genesis 1:11 describes “plants yielding seed . . . each according to its kind,” a notion Moses rhythmically repeats a complete ten times. The Creator is completely wise in his organization. Paul writes that God gives “to each kind of seed its own body,” whether “of wheat or of some other grain” (15:37–38). Paul is not done with creation yet.

In 15:39–40a, Paul lets God’s sovereign wisdom with seeds and plants explain the whole cosmos:

Not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies.

If we look around with Paul’s eyes, wearing the same Genesis 1 lenses, we see all bodies “in heaven” and “on earth” as distinguished, each according to its own kind, each sovereignly given by God, each just as God wisely desired.24 And all this matters when we contemplate beloved Christians whose bodies are no more.25 What’s more, because of Genesis 1, Paul sees “glory” everywhere.

‘It Was Very Good’

We have already seen a few examples of how Genesis 1:1–2:3 uses rhythmic repetition to create not just the knowledge of God’s complete perfection but even its feeling:

  • “And God said” — ten times.
  • “And it was so” (or “and it happened in this manner”) — seven times.
  • “According to . . . kind” — ten times.
  • “Day” — fourteen times (two sevens).
  • “God” — thirty-five times (five sevens).26

God is thoroughly sovereign and wise in creation. Is he also good? Far too many people experience rulers with extreme power (sovereignty) and even extreme cleverness (a type of wisdom), but who are evil — and this is terrifying. This is not our Creator.

Six times, Moses records God’s evaluation of his own creative works: “it was good.” But Moses is not one to leave any repeated important phrase of Genesis 1:1–2:3 hanging incomplete,27 so he concludes God’s entire workweek with the seventh as a climax: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Paul picks up on this goodness, and it is glorious.

Glory Everywhere

Even though Paul has a robust doctrine of the fall, he sees creational glory everywhere. By the time Paul gets to the issue of resurrection bodies in 1 Corinthians 15, he has already used the term “glory” with reference to creation in Genesis 1–2: a man “is the image and glory of God” and a “woman is the glory of man” (1 Corinthians 11:7–9). In 15:39–41, Paul cosmically extends such creational glory:

Not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

I used to think Paul’s reference to “heavenly bodies” referred to angelic beings. And it is easy for us to assume that “earthly bodies” refer to something like purple mountains’ majesty. But Paul clarifies what he means by “heavenly bodies”: sun, moon, and stars. And Paul has just described the types of “earthly bodies” he has in mind: humans, animals, birds, and fish. These all have “glory.” Of course sun, moon, and stars have glory. But Paul also sees glory in animals, birds, fish — and, yes, even contemporary (and fallen) humans.

According to Paul, the physical things — bodies, fleshes — were created by God so exceedingly well and to be so exceedingly good that they (we) remain with “glory . . . glory . . . glory . . . glory . . . glory,” even despite all the groaning of creation under our wretched sin and mortality (Romans 8:19–23). How can our groaning and glory both be true? Our sin is awful. But because God gave us our bodies, fleshes, and glories just as he chose, even our personal and global sin and corruption cannot eradicate this beauty and value — this glory, this goodness.

Teaching the Next Generation

Six to ten years after writing that letter to the Corinthians, and after much suffering, Paul still saw God’s creation as good. In fact, Paul counsels his protégé Timothy that this high esteem of God’s creation has practical import for training others in Ephesus. Paul writes,

The Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1–5)

Teach about our Creator, Timothy. Teach about his good creation and what it implies for life.

God’s activity in Genesis 1 forces Paul to reject any teaching in the church that would diminish, whether in theory or practice, the goodness of what God did in creation. Yes, sin, corruption, suffering, and death have entered our world since God created all things exceedingly good — don’t forget that. But the fact that everything God created is good should still affect our actions and teaching now. That is who our good Creator is — be thankful and enjoy.

Applying Creation with Paul

Joy and hope come from reading Genesis 1 through Paul’s eyes and seeing how he applies it to struggling churches. And we have only scratched the surface.

There is a from-the-Father-ness of creation and a by-and-through-Christ-ness that should increase our corporate (and individual) glorifying, thanking, venerating, and serving of this one Lord-God as he deserves. There is even a direction to everything in creation: a for-the-Father-ness and a for-Christ-ness. And this should affect our treatment of fellow Christians, even those with whom we disagree.

We must embrace how damaging and evil and awful and ugly and violent and corrosive humanity’s sin is — including ours — and all the consequences of sin. But there is a type of wisdom and goodness built into the very fabric of creation — even into our own flesh and bodies — that God has sovereignly given that has not and cannot be eradicated. And this profoundly matters practically and relationally.

I pray that as you view the creation of the world through Paul’s eyes, such treasures as joy, humility, glory, and hope rise up in you and overflow to others.

  1. For technical arguments about creation (including humanity) in 1–2 Corinthians and Romans, see Jonathan Worthington, Creation in Paul and Philo: The Beginning and Before, WUNT 2.317 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2011) and “Gendered Exegesis of Creation in Philo (De opificio mundi) and Paul (1 Corinthians),” in Paul and the Greco-Roman Philosophical Tradition, ed. Joseph Dodson and Andrew Pitts, LNTS Monograph Series (London: T&T Clark, 2017), 119–219. 

  2. E.g., Derek Kidner, Genesis, TOTC (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), 44; John Sailhamer, The Pentateuch as Narrative: A Biblical-Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 82n2. 

  3. E.g., Hans Delitzsch, A New Commentary on Genesis, trans. S. Taylor (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1894), 72–81; Claus Westermann, Genesis 1–11: A Continental Commentary (Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1984), 95. 

  4. Some ancient Jews do reveal how they think Genesis 1:1 relates to 1:2–31: e.g., Jubilees 2:2; 4 Ezra 6:38; Josephus’s Antiquities 1:27; and Philo. Paul may or may not have agreed. 

  5. For possible dates of Paul’s letters, see D.A. Carson and Doug Moo, Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005). 

  6. Andy Naselli charts the many interpretive issues of 1 Corinthians 8–10 in “Was It Always Idolatrous for Corinthian Christians to Eat εἰδωλόθυτα in an Idol’s Temple? (1 Cor 8–10),” Southeastern Theological Review 9, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 23–45. 

  7. See Gordon Fee, Pauline Christology (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007), 17, 92; Anthony Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 636; N.T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 136. 

  8. Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31–33. 

  9. See Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 105–9. 

  10. See David Garland, Romans, TNTC (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2021), 74; Thomas Schreiner, Romans, 2nd ed., BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2018), 94. 

  11. Some may wonder why I do not explore Romans 4:17. It is probably the most cited “creation” passage in Paul, but it’s not about creation. See Jonathan Worthington, “Creatio ex Nihilo and Romans 4:17 in Context,” NTS 62, no. 1 (January 2016): 49–59. 

  12. Some have argued that the preposition “in” or “according to” is crucial for Paul, that Paul considers only Jesus to be God’s image, never Adam. For a few recent examples, see Catherine McDowell, “Image of God,” in Dictionary of the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2023), 350; Jason Maston, “Christ or Adam: The Ground for Understanding Humanity,” JTI 11, no. 2 (2017): 277–93; David Pao, Colossians & Philemon (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 94. While that exegetical “insight” is truly how Philo reasoned about Genesis 1:26 and the difference between the material human (not the image but only according to the image) and God’s Word (the image itself) in Who is Heir of Divine Things (§231), which is his commentary on Genesis 15:2–18, Paul does not make such an argument. Indeed, Paul explicitly states that “man is God’s image and glory” and references Genesis 1–2 (1 Corinthians 11:7–9). The Barthian and other anthropology that is then built onto the supposed differences between being God’s image (preincarnate Christ) and being according to God’s image (Adam) simply do not have evidence in Paul’s pattern of thinking about God’s image at creation. 

  13. Image and sonship are linked in Genesis 1 and 5. See McDowell, “Image of God,” 347–51; Carmen Joy Imes, Being God’s Image: Why Creation Still Matters (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2023), 4–6, 30–32. 

  14. Primogeniture (where an inheritance belongs to the firstborn son) was not normally practiced among Roman society, but it was in Jewish subcultures and among Greeks with reference to “royal succession.” See Kyu Seop Kim, The Firstborn Son in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity: A Study of Primogeniture and Christology (Leiden: Brill, 2019). 

  15. Paul’s phrase en autō could be translated “in him” or “by him.” I take my cue about “by” from other texts about creation such as Proverbs 3:19–20. 

  16. E.g., 2 Samuel 23:4; Psalms 36:9; 104:2; Job 37:3, 11, 21–22; Isaiah 2:5; 51:4; 60:1–3, 19–20; Daniel 2:22; Hosea 6:5; Habakkuk 3:4, 11. Intertestamental Jews picked up on this: Ben Sira 50:29; Baruch 5:9. Compare also James 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:16; and 1 John 1:5. 

  17. For Adam’s glory in Paul, see his logic in 1 Corinthians 11:7–9. For comparison between Adam and Moses in Paul’s glory theology, see Jonathan Worthington, “Philo (4): Thematic Parallels to the NT,” in Dictionary of the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament, 620–25. 

  18. Paul Minear, Christians and New Creation: Genesis Motifs in the New Testament (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 74. Cf. Peter Balla, “2 Corinthians,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, eds. G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 753–83, esp. 762–64. 

  19. See Jeremiah 4:23; 13:16; Ezekiel 32:7–8; cf. Mark 13:24–25. 

  20. So Jason Meyer, The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009), 108. 

  21. Paul is making a play on words here: Adam’s body with the breath of life in it was called a living “soul” (psyche), so Paul calls our Adam-like bodies “soulish” (psychikon). Translators tend to render this “natural,” since “soulish” is not an English word, but that misses Paul’s textually rooted play on words. 

  22. Paul always uses “spiritual” to refer to the Spirit’s activity (except maybe once). I thus like to render it “Spiritual.” 

  23. See Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, rev. ed., NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), 779–80; David Garland, 1 Corinthians, BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 727. 

  24. See commentaries on 1 Corinthians such as Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians, PNTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 803–4; Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1265; Roy A. Harrisville, 1 Corinthians, ACNT (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1987), 275; Leon Morris, 1 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary, TNTC (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2008), 220. 

  25. Jonathan Worthington, “When Decaying Bodies Meet a Creator God,” The Gospel Coalition, February 13, 2022, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/decaying-bodies-resurrecting-god/. 

  26. For the significance of multiples of seven, see Matthew’s use of fourteen in Matthew 1 (Worthington, “Philo (3): Comparison with the NT Use of the OT,” in Dictionary of the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament, 613–20). 

  27. Moses did leave out the seventh “evening and morning,” however, leaving us with an awkward six. He could have presented a perfectly (seventh) concluded day, but perhaps Moses meant to leave listeners with a feeling of incompleteness, even open-endedness, in God’s day of rest (probably noticed in Hebrews 4:1–7).