Genesis 1:28
And God blessed them, and God said to 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 moves on the earth.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 1:28. Be fruitful, and replenish the earth — A large estate is given them, and they are to fill it with inhabitants, to cultivate it, and enjoy the fruits it produces. But these words rather contain a benediction and a promise, than a command, as appears from Genesis 1:22, where the same words are applied to the brute creatures, which are not capable of understanding or obeying a command.1:26-28 Man was made last of all the creatures: this was both an honour and a favour to him. Yet man was made the same day that the beasts were; his body was made of the same earth with theirs; and while he is in the body, he inhabits the same earth with them. God forbid that by indulging the body, and the desires of it, we should make ourselves like the beasts that perish! Man was to be a creature different from all that had been hitherto made. Flesh and spirit, heaven and earth, must be put together in him. God said, Let us make man. Man, when he was made, was to glorify the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Into that great name we are baptized, for to that great name we owe our being. It is the soul of man that especially bears God's image. Man was made upright, Ec 7:29. His understanding saw Divine things clearly and truly; there were no errors or mistakes in his knowledge; his will consented at once, and in all things, to the will of God. His affections were all regular, and he had no bad appetites or passions. His thoughts were easily brought and fixed to the best subjects. Thus holy, thus happy, were our first parents in having the image of God upon them. But how is this image of God upon man defaced! May the Lord renew it upon our souls by his grace!The divine blessing is now pronounced upon man. It differs from that of the lower animals chiefly in the element of supremacy. Power is presumed to belong to man's nature, according to the counsel of the Maker's will Genesis 1:26. But without a special permission he cannot exercise any lawful authority. For the other creatures are as independent of him as he is of them. As creatures he and they are on an equal footing, and have no natural fight either over the other. Hence, it is necessary that he should receive from high heaven a formal charter of right over the things that were made for man. He is therefore authorized, by the word of the Creator, to exercise his power in subduing the earth and ruling over the animal kingdom. This is the meet sequel of his being created in the image of God. Being formed for dominion, the earth and its various products and inhabitants are assigned to him for the display of his powers. The subduing and ruling refer not to the mere supply of his natural needs, for which provision is made in the following verse, but to the accomplishment of his various purposes of science and beneficence, whether towards the inferior animals or his own race. It is the part of intellectual and moral reason to employ power for the ends of general no less than personal good. The sway of man ought to be beneficent.28. Be fruitful, &c.—The human race in every country and age has been the offspring of the first pair. Amid all the varieties found among men, some black, some copper-colored, others white, the researches of modern science lead to a conclusion, fully accordant with the sacred history, that they are all of one species and of one family (Ac 17:26). What power in the word of God! "He spake and it was done. He commanded and all things stood fast" [Ps 33:9]. "Great and manifold are thy works, Lord God Almighty! in wisdom hast thou made them all" [Ps 104:24]. We admire that wisdom, not only in the regular progress of creation, but in its perfect adaptation to the end. God is represented as pausing at every stage to look at His work. No wonder He contemplated it with complacency. Every object was in its right place, every vegetable process going on in season, every animal in its structure and instincts suited to its mode of life and its use in the economy of the world. He saw everything that He had made answering the plan which His eternal wisdom had conceived; and, "Behold it was very good" [Ge 1:31]. Having blessed them with excellent natures, and heavenly gifts and graces, he further blesseth them with a special and temporal blessing expressed in the following words.

Replenish the earth, with inhabitants to be begotten by you.

Question. Whether this be a command obliging all men to marriage and procreation? So the Hebrew doctors think. It may be thus resolved:

1. It is a command obliging all men so far as not to suffer the extinction of mankind: thus it did absolutely bind Adam and Eve, as also Noah, and his sons and their wives, after the Flood.

2. It doth not oblige every particular person to marry, as appears both from the example of the Lord Jesus, who lived and died in an unmarried state, and from his commendation of those who made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God, Matthew 19:12; and from St. Paul’s approbation of virginity, 1 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Corinthians 7:8, 1 Corinthians 7:26-27, 1 Corinthians 7:32, &c.

3. It is here rather a promise or benediction than a command, as appears both from Genesis 2:22, where the same words are applied to the brute beasts, who are not subject to a command; and because if this were a command, it would equally oblige every man to exercise dominion over fishes and fowls, &c., which is absurd. It is therefore a permission rather than a command, though it be expressed in the form of a command, as other permissions frequently are, as Genesis 2:16 Deu 14:4. And God blessed them,.... The man and the woman he had made, with all the blessings of nature and Providence; with all the good things of life; with his presence, and with communion with himself in a natural way, through the creatures; and particularly with a power of procreating their species, as follows,

and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth: if this is not an express command, as the Jews understand it, for marriage and procreation of children, it seems to be more than a bare permission; at least it is a direction and an advice to what was proper and convenient for the increase of mankind, and for the filling of the earth with inhabitants, which was the end of its being made, Isaiah 45:18. This shows that marriage is an ordinance of God, instituted in paradise, and is honourable; and that procreation is a natural action, and might have been, and may be performed without sin,

and subdue it; the earth; not that it was in the hands of others, who had no right to it, and to be conquered and taken out of their hands; but is to be understood of their taking possession, and making use of it; of their tilling the land, and making it subservient to their use:

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 face of the earth; which was giving them an universal and unlimited dominion over all the creatures; of which see an enumeration in Psalm 8:6.

And God {u} 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.

(u) The propagation.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. The Blessing and the Command

28. replenish] The word is the same as that used in Genesis 1:22 of the fishes, “be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters.”

and subdue it] A strong word, denoting subjugation to power. Man’s authority over the creatures of the earth confers upon him responsibility for the exercise of his powers. Supremacy over the fishes, the birds, and the beasts, will require courage, forethought, skill, observation, and judgement. The blessing, therefore, of “fruitfulness” is incomplete, until reinforced by the commission so to exercise the faculties as to ensure intellectual growth. In this connexion, compare Ray Lankester (“Rede Lecture, 1905”), “What we call the will or volition of Man … has become a power in nature, an imperium in imperio, which has profoundly modified not only Man’s own history, but that of the whole living world, and the face of the planet on which he lives.”Verse 28. - And God blessed them. Not him, as LXX. As on the introduction of animal life the Divine Creator conferred on the creatures his blessing, so when the first pair of human beings are formed they are likewise enriched by their Creator's benediction. And God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply. As in the case of the lower creatures the Divine blessing had respect in the first instance to the propagation and perpetuation of the species, "which blessing," says Calvin, "may be regarded as the source from which the human race has flowed," a thought in full accord with Scripture teaching generally (cf. Psalm 127:3); yet by making one man and one woman an important distinction was drawn between men and beasts as regards the development of their races and the multiplication of their kind (Malachi 2:7). "Carte fraenum viris et mulieribus non laxavit, at in vagus libidines ruerent, absque delectu et pudore; seda sancto castoque conjugio incipiens, descendit ad generationem" (Calvin). And replenish the earth. The new-created race was intended to occupy the earth. How far during the first age of the world this Divine purpose was realized continues matter of debate (Genesis 10.). After the Flood the confusion of tongues effected a dispersion of the nations over the three great continents of the old world. At the present day man has wandered to the ends of the earth. Yet vast realms lie unexplored, waiting his arrival. This clause may be described as the colonist's charter. And subdue it. The commission thus received was to utilize for his necessities the vast resources of the earth, by agricultural and mining operations, by geographical research, scientific discovery, and mechanical invention. And have dominion over the fish of the sea, &c. i.e. over the inhabitants of all the elements. The Divine intention with regard to his creation was thus minutely fulfilled by his investiture with supremacy over all the other works of the Divine hand. Psalm 8. is the "lyric echo" of this original sovereignty bestowed on man. The Sixth Day. - Sea and air are filled with living creatures; and the word of God now goes forth to the earth, to produce living beings after their kind. These are divided into three classes. בּהמה, cattle, from בהם, mutum, brutum esse, generally denotes the larger domesticated quadrupeds (e.g., Genesis 47:18; Exodus 13:12, etc.), but occasionally the larger land animals as a whole. רמשׂ (the creeping) embraces the smaller land animals, which move either without feet, or with feet that are scarcely perceptible, viz., reptiles, insects, and worms. In Genesis 1:25 they are distinguished from the race of water reptiles by the term האדמה ארץ חיתו (the old form of the construct state, for הארץ חיּת), the beast of the earth, i.e., the freely roving wild animals.

"After its kind:" this refers to all three classes of living creatures, each of which had its peculiar species; consequently in Genesis 1:25, where the word of God is fulfilled, it is repeated with every class. This act of creation, too, like all that precede it, is shown by the divine word "good" to be in accordance with the will of God. But the blessing pronounced is omitted, the author hastening to the account of the creation of man, in which the work of creation culminated. The creation of man does not take place through a word addressed by God to the earth, but as the result of the divine decree, "We will make man in Our image, after our likeness," which proclaims at the very outset the distinction and pre-eminence of man above all the other creatures of the earth. The plural "We" was regarded by the fathers and earlier theologians almost unanimously as indicative of the Trinity: modern commentators, on the contrary, regard it either as pluralis majestatis; or as an address by God to Himself, the subject and object being identical; or as communicative, an address to the spirits or angels who stand around the Deity and constitute His council. The last is Philo's explanation: διαλέγεται ὁ τῶν ὁ͂λων πατὴρ ταῖς ἑαυτο͂υ δυνάεσιν (δυνάμεις equals angels). But although such passages as 1 Kings 22:19., Psalm 89:8, and Daniel 10, show that God, as King and Judge of the world, is surrounded by heavenly hosts, who stand around His throne and execute His commands, the last interpretation founders upon this rock: either it assumes without sufficient scriptural authority, and in fact in opposition to such distinct passages as Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:22; Isaiah 40:13 seq., Genesis 44:24, that the spirits took part in the creation of man; or it reduces the plural to an empty phrase, inasmuch as God is made to summon the angels to cooperate in the creation of man, and then, instead of employing them, is represented as carrying out the work alone. Moreover, this view is irreconcilable with the words "in our image, after our likeness;" since man was created in the image of God alone (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 5:1), and not in the image of either the angels, or God and the angels. A likeness to the angels cannot be inferred from Hebrews 2:7, or from Luke 20:36. Just as little ground is there for regarding the plural here and in other passages (Genesis 3:22; Genesis 11:7; Isaiah 6:8; Isaiah 41:22) as reflective, an appeal to self; since the singular is employed in such cases as these, even where God Himself is preparing for any particular work (cf. Genesis 2:18; Psalm 12:5; Isaiah 33:10). No other explanation is left, therefore, than to regard it as pluralis majestatis, - an interpretation which comprehends in its deepest and most intensive form (God speaking of Himself and with Himself in the plural number, not reverentiae causa, but with reference to the fullness of the divine powers and essences which He possesses) the truth that lies at the foundation of the trinitarian view, viz., that the potencies concentrated in the absolute Divine Being are something more than powers and attributes of God; that they are hypostases, which in the further course of the revelation of God in His kingdom appeared with more and more distinctness as persons of the Divine Being. On the words "in our image, after our likeness" modern commentators have correctly observed, that there is no foundation for the distinction drawn by the Greek, and after them by many of the Latin Fathers, between εἰκών (imago) and ὁμοίωσις (similitudo), the former of which they supposed to represent the physical aspect of the likeness to God, the latter the ethical; but that, on the contrary, the older Lutheran theologians were correct in stating that the two words are synonymous, and are merely combined to add intensity to the thought: "an image which is like Us" (Luther); since it is no more possible to discover a sharp or well-defined distinction in the ordinary use of the words between צלם and דּמוּת, than between בּ and כּ. צלם, from צל, lit., a shadow, hence sketch, outline, differs no more from דּמוּת, likeness, portrait, copy, than the German words Umriss or Abriss (outline or sketch) from Bild or Abbild (likeness, copy). בּ and כּ are also equally interchangeable, as we may see from a comparison of this verse with Genesis 5:1 and Genesis 5:3. (Compare also Leviticus 6:4 with Leviticus 27:12, and for the use of בּ to denote a norm, or sample, Exodus 25:40; Exodus 30:32, Exodus 30:37, etc.) There is more difficulty in deciding in what the likeness to God consisted. Certainly not in the bodily form, the upright position, or commanding aspect of the man, since God has no bodily form, and the man's body was formed from the dust of the ground; nor in the dominion of man over nature, for this is unquestionably ascribed to man simply as the consequence or effluence of his likeness to God. Man is the image of God by virtue of his spiritual nature. of the breath of God by which the being, formed from the dust of the earth, became a living soul.

(Note: "The breath of God became the soul of man; the soul of man therefore is nothing but the breath of God. The rest of the world exists through the word of God; man through His own peculiar breath. This breath is the seal and pledge of our relation to God, of our godlike dignity; whereas the breath breathed into the animals is nothing but the common breath, the life-wind of nature, which is moving everywhere, and only appears in the animal fixed and bound into a certain independence and individuality, so that the animal soul is nothing but a nature-soul individualized into certain, though still material spirituality." - Ziegler.)

The image of God consists, therefore, in the spiritual personality of man, though not merely in unity of self-consciousness and self-determination, or in the fact that man was created a consciously free Ego; for personality is merely the basis and form of the divine likeness, not its real essence. This consists rather in the fact, that the man endowed with free self-conscious personality possesses, in his spiritual as well as corporeal nature, a creaturely copy of the holiness and blessedness of the divine life. This concrete essence of the divine likeness was shattered by sin; and it is only through Christ, the brightness of the glory of God and the expression of His essence (Hebrews 1:3), that our nature is transformed into the image of God again (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24).

"And they (אדם, a generic term for men) shall have dominion over the fish," etc. There is something striking in the introduction of the expression "and over all the earth," after the different races of animals have been mentioned, especially as the list of races appears to be proceeded with afterwards. If this appearance were actually the fact, it would be impossible to escape the conclusion that the text is faulty, and that חיּת has fallen out; so that the reading should be, "and over all the wild beasts of the earth," as the Syriac has it. But as the identity of "every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth" (הארץ) with "every thing that creepeth upon the ground" (האדמה) in Genesis 1:25 is not absolutely certain; on the contrary, the change in expression indicates a difference of meaning; and as the Masoretic text is supported by the oldest critical authorities (lxx, Sam., Onk.), the Syriac rendering must be dismissed as nothing more than a conjecture, and the Masoretic text be understood in the following manner. The author passes on from the cattle to the entire earth, and embraces all the animal creation in the expression, "every moving thing (כל־הרמשׂ) that moveth upon the earth," just as in Genesis 1:28, "every living thing הרמשׂת upon the earth." According to this, God determined to give to the man about to be created in His likeness the supremacy, not only over the animal world, but over the earth itself; and this agrees with the blessing in Genesis 1:28, where the newly created man is exhorted to replenish the earth and subdue it; whereas, according to the conjecture of the Syriac, the subjugation of the earth by man would be omitted from the divine decree. - Genesis 1:27. In the account of the accomplishment of the divine purpose the words swell into a jubilant song, so that we meet here for the first time with a parallelismus membrorum, the creation of man being celebrated in three parallel clauses. The distinction drawn between אתו (in the image of God created He him) and אתם (as man and woman created He them) must not be overlooked. The word אתם, which indicates that God created the man and woman as two human beings, completely overthrows the idea that man was at first androgynous (cf. Genesis 2:18.). By the blessing in Genesis 1:28, God not only confers upon man the power to multiply and fill the earth, as upon the beasts in Genesis 1:22, but also gives him dominion over the earth and every beast. In conclusion, the food of both man and beast is pointed out in Genesis 1:29, Genesis 1:30, exclusively from the vegetable kingdom. Man is to eat of "every seed-bearing herb on the face of all the earth, and every tree on which there are fruits containing seed," consequently of the productions of both field and tree, in other words, of corn and fruit; the animals are to eat of "every green herb," i.e., of vegetables or green plants, and grass.

From this it follows, that, according to the creative will of God, men were not to slaughter animals for food, nor were animals to prey upon one another; consequently, that the fact which now prevails universally in nature and the order of the world, the violent and often painful destruction of life, is not a primary law of nature, nor a divine institution founded in the creation itself, but entered the world along with death at the fall of man, and became a necessity of nature through the curse of sin. It was not till after the flood, that men received authority from God to employ the flesh of animals as well as the green herb as food (Genesis 9:3); and the fact that, according to the biblical view, no carnivorous animals existed at the first, may be inferred from the prophetic announcements in Isaiah 11:6-8; Isaiah 65:25, where the cessation of sin and the complete transformation of the world into the kingdom of God are described as being accompanied by the cessation of slaughter and the eating of flesh, even in the case of the animal kingdom. With this the legends of the heathen world respecting the golden age of the past, and its return at the end of time, also correspond (cf. Gesenius on Isaiah 11:6-8). It is true that objections have been raised by natural historians to this testimony of Scripture, but without scientific ground. For although at the present time man is fitted by his teeth and alimentary canal for the combination of vegetable and animal food; and although the law of mutual destruction so thoroughly pervades the whole animal kingdom, that not only is the life of one sustained by the death of another, but "as the graminivorous animals check the overgrowth of the vegetable kingdom, so the excessive increase of the former is restricted by the beasts of prey, and of these again by the destructive implements of man;" and although, again, not only beasts of prey, but evident symptoms of disease are met with among the fossil remains of the aboriginal animals: all these facts furnish no proof that the human and animal races were originally constituted for death and destruction, or that disease and slaughter are older than the fall. For, to reply to the last objection first, geology has offered no conclusive evidence of its doctrine, that the fossil remains of beasts of prey and bones with marks of disease belong to a pre-Adamite period, but has merely inferred it from the hypothesis already mentioned of successive periods of creation. Again, as even in the present order of nature the excessive increase of the vegetable kingdom is restrained, not merely by the graminivorous animals, but also by the death of the plants themselves through the exhaustion of their vital powers; so the wisdom of the Creator could easily have set bounds to the excessive increase of the animal world, without requiring the help of huntsmen and beasts of prey, since many animals even now lose their lives by natural means, without being slain by men or eaten by beasts of prey. The teaching of Scripture, that death entered the world through sin, merely proves that the human race was created for eternal life, but by no means necessitates the assumption that the animals were also created for endless existence. As the earth produced them at the creative word of God, the different individuals and generations would also have passed away and returned to the bosom of the earth, without violent destruction by the claws of animals or the hand of man, as soon as they had fulfilled the purpose of their existence. The decay of animals is a law of nature established in the creation itself, and not a consequence of sin, or an effect of the death brought into the world by the sin of man. At the same time, it was so far involved in the effects of the fall, that the natural decay of the different animals was changed into a painful death or violent end. Although in the animal kingdom, as it at present exists, many varieties are so organized that they live exclusively upon the flesh of other animals, which they kill and devour; this by no means necessitates the conclusion, that the carnivorous beasts of prey were created after the fall, or the assumption that they were originally intended to feed upon flesh, and organized accordingly. If, in consequence of the curse pronounced upon the earth after the sin of man, who was appointed head and lord of nature, the whole creation was subjected to vanity and the bondage of corruption (Romans 8:20.); this subjection might have been accompanied by a change in the organization of the animals, though natural science, which is based upon the observation and combination of things empirically discovered, could neither demonstrate the fact nor explain the process. And if natural science cannot boast that in any one of its many branches it has discovered all the phenomena connected with the animal and human organism of the existing world, how could it pretend to determine or limit the changes through which this organism may have passed in the course of thousands of years?

The creation of man and his installation as ruler on the earth brought the creation of all earthly beings to a close (Genesis 1:31). God saw His work, and behold it was all very good; i.e., everything perfect in its kind, so that every creature might reach the goal appointed by the Creator, and accomplish the purpose of its existence. By the application of the term "good" to everything that God made, and the repetition of the word with the emphasis "very" at the close of the whole creation, the existence of anything evil in the creation of God is absolutely denied, and the hypothesis entirely refuted, that the six days' work merely subdued and fettered an ungodly, evil principle, which had already forced its way into it. The sixth day, as being the last, is distinguished above all the rest by the article - השּׁשּׁי יום "a day, the sixth" (Gesenius, 111, 2a).

Links
Genesis 1:28 Interlinear
Genesis 1:28 Parallel Texts


Genesis 1:28 NIV
Genesis 1:28 NLT
Genesis 1:28 ESV
Genesis 1:28 NASB
Genesis 1:28 KJV

Genesis 1:28 Bible Apps
Genesis 1:28 Parallel
Genesis 1:28 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 1:28 Chinese Bible
Genesis 1:28 French Bible
Genesis 1:28 German Bible

Bible Hub
Genesis 1:27
Top of Page
Top of Page