Acacia John Bunyan

An Exposition on the
First Ten Chapters
G E N E S I S,
And Part of the Eleventh

By J O H N.B U N Y A N.

First published in 1691, by Charles Doe.

An unfinished commentary on the Bible, found among John
Bunyan's papers after his death, in his own handwriting.


Ver. 3. "And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."

The seventh day did signify two things:

First, Christ Jesus, who is as well the rest of the justice of God, as a rest for sinful man.

Secondly, It was also a type of that glorious rest that saints shall have when the six days of this world are fully ended.

For the first, the apostle makes the sabbath a shadow of Jesus Christ, "a shadow of things to come; but the body [or substance] is of Christ" (Col 2:17). And hence it is that he is so often said to be "a rest" to the Gentiles, a glorious rest, and that he promiseth rest to such as cast their burthen upon him (Matt 11:29).

The second also the apostle asserteth in that fourth chapter to the Hebrews, "There remaineth therefore a rest," or the keeping of a sabbath, "to the people of God" (v 9 read also vv 4-11). Which sabbath, as I conceive, will be the seventh thousand of years, which are to follow immediately after the world hath stood six thousand first: for as God was six days in the works of creation, and rested the seventh; so in six thousand years he will perfect his works and providences that concern this world. As also he will finish the toil and travel of his saints, with the burthen of the beasts, and the curse of the ground; and bring all into rest for a thousand years. A day with the Lord, is as a thousand years: wherefore this blessed and desirable time is also called "a day," "a great day," "that great and notable day of the Lord" (Acts 2:20), which shall end in the eternal judgment of the world. God hath held forth this by several other shadows, as the sabbath of weeks, the sabbath of years, and the great jubilee, which is to be the year after forty-nine years are expired (Lev 25:1-13). Of all which, more in their place, if God permit.

Ver. 4. "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens."

Moses seems by these words, "In the day," to insist principally upon them in their first and primitive state, before there was sin or curse in the world; for in the day that they were created, there was a far more glorious lustre and beauty than now can be seen; the heaven, for sin, is, as it were, turned into brass; and the rain into powder and dust, in comparison of what it was as it came from the fingers of God. The earth hath also from that time a curse upon it; yea, the whole creation, by sin, is even "made subject to vanity," is in travail, and groans under the burthen that sin hath brought upon it (Rom 8:19-23).

Ver. 5. "And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew."

Thus it was in the first creation; they therefore became neither herbs nor trees, by the course of nature, but by the creation of God. And even so it is in the new creation, men spring not up by nature to be saints: No, not in the church of God, but first they are created in Christ Jesus, and made meet to be partakers of the benefit, and then planted in the church of God; "planted," I say, as plants before prepared. Indeed hypocrites, and formal professors, may spring up in the church, by virtue of her forms, and outward services, as thorns and thistles spring up in the earth, by virtue of her moisture and heartiness. But these are but the fruits of the curse, and are determined to be burned at last in the fire: "Every plant [saith Christ] which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up" (Matt 15:13; Heb 6:8).

"For the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth." This is the reason that they came not up by nature first, but were first created, then planted, then made to grow. So the reason why men by nature grow not in the church, is, because the Lord doth not cause it to rain upon them, they still abiding and doing according to the course of this world; but he plants them in his house by the mighty power of his word and Spirit, by which they are created saints, and then they afterwards grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. "And there was not a man to till the ground." It seems by this there was a kind of necessity why God should make man, yea, a multitude of men; for otherwise he had made what before he made in vain; that is, his end in making so glorious a creature as this world, which was to shew forth his glory by, had been void, and without effect; for although it was glorious, as it came out of the hand of God; yet it was not of power so to preserve itself, but would, without men to look after and dress it, be turned into a wilderness.

Thus it is with the world of men, if there was not the second Adam to plough them and sow them, they could none of them become saints; No, not the elect themselves; because the means are determined, as well as the end.

By this we may likewise see what a woeful condition that people is in, that have no ministers of the word of the gospel: "My people perish, [are destroyed] for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6): And again, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Pro 29:18). Pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he would send out his ploughers to plough, and his labourers into his harvest.

Ver. 6. "But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground."

Although as yet there was no ploughman nor rain, yet a mist arose from the earth; so where there is not the word of the gospel, there is yet sufficiency of light, to teach men how to govern themselves in civil and natural society. But this is only "a mist," men cannot gospelly grow by this; therefore, as in the next verse, of necessity man must be formed.

But again, I have sometimes thought by this mist, might be held forth that nourishment men had by the doctrine of faith, before the gospel was divulged by Moses, the prophets, or Christ, &c. for before these, that nourishment the church received, was but slender and short, even as short as the nourishing of the mist is to sober and moderate showers of rain; to which both the law and the gospel is compared.

Again, I have also sometimes thought, that by this mist might be typified those excellent proverbs and holy sayings of the men of old, before there was a written word; for it cannot be but the godly did contain in proverbs, and certain sayings, the doctrine of salvation hereafter, and of good living here [see Romans 2:14]; of which we have a touch in Genesis, but more at large by that blessed book of Job; which book, in my opinion, is a holy collection of those proverbs and sayings of the ancients, occasioned by the temptation of that good man. But whatever this mist did signify (in other men's judgment) certain it is, it was for present necessity, till a man should be made to till the ground, and the fruits thereof watered with "the bottles of heaven": Which, so far as I see yet, most aptly presents us with some of all these.

Ver. 7. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground," &c. In the creation of man, God began with his outside; but in the work of regeneration, he first begins within, at the heart. He made him; that is, his body, of the dust of the ground; but he abides a lifeless lump, till the Lord puts forth a second act. "And [he] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Now he lives, now he acts: so it is in the kingdom of Christ, no man can be a living soul in that kingdom by his first creation, he must have life "breathed" into him, life and spirit from Jesus Christ (John 20:22).

Now therefore is Adam a type, yet but an earthly one, of things more high and heavenly; "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (1 Cor 15:49).

Ver. 8. "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there he put the man whom he had formed."

"And the Lord God planted a garden." Thus the Holy Ghost speaks clearer and clearer; for now he presents the church to us under the similitude of a garden, which is taken out of the wide and open field, and inclosed; "A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse"; a garden inclosed, "a spring shut up, a fountain sealed" (Cant 4:12); and there he put the man whom he had formed. An excellent type of the presence of Christ with his church (Rev 1:12,13).

Ver. 9. "And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight," &c.

These trees, and their pleasurableness, do shew us the beauty of the truly godly, whom the Lord hath beautified with salvation. And hence it is said, the glory of Lebanon, of Sharon, and of Carmel, is given to the church: that is, she is more beautified with gifts and graces than can by types and shadows be expressed. "The tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil."

This "tree of life," was another type of Christ, as the bread and healing medicine of the church, that stands "in the midst of the paradise of God" (Rev 2:7; 22:2).

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was a type of the law, or covenant of works, as the sequel of the story clearly manifesteth; for had not Adam eaten thereof, he had enjoyed for ever his first blessedness. As Moses saith, "It shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us" (Deu 6:25). But both Adam and we have touched, that is, broken the boughs and fruit of this tree, and therefore now for ever, by the law, no man can stand just before God (Gal 2:16).

Ver. 10. "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads."

This river while it abided in Eden, in the garden, it was the river of God; that is, serviceable to the trees and fruit of the garden, and was herein a type of those watering ministers that water the plants of the Lord. But observe, when it had passed the garden, had gotten without the bound of the garden, from thence it was parted, and became into four heads; from thence it was transformed, or turned into another manner of thing: it now became into four heads; a type of the four great monarchies of the world, of which Babylon, though the first in order of being, yet the last in a gospel or mysterious sense. The fourth is the river Euphrates, that which was the face of the kingdom of Babel of old. Hence note, That how eminent and serviceable soever men are while they abide in the garden of Eden, THE CHURCH; yet when they come out from thence, they evilly seek the great things of the world: one is for compassing the whole land of Havilah, where is gold; another is for compassing this, a third that, and a fourth another thing, according as you see these four heads did. Observe again, That while men abide in the church of God, there is not by them a seeking after the monarchies of this world; but when they depart from thence, then they seek and strive to be heads; as that cursed monster the pope, forsaking the garden of God, became in a manner the prince of all the earth: Of whom Tyrus mentioned by Ezekiel, was a very lively type, "Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious-stone, [that is, doctrine,] was thy covering; as the sardius, topaz, diamond," &c., "till iniquity was found in thee" (Eze 28:13-18); till thou leftest thy station, and place appointed of God, and then thou wast cast as profane out of the mountain of God, yea, though a covering cherub. See it again in Cain, who while he continued in the church, he was a busy sacrificer, as busy as Abel his brother; but when he left off to fear the Lord, and had bloodily butchered his holy brother, then he seeks to be a head, or monarch; then he goeth and buildeth a city to preserve his name and posterity for ever (Gen 4:17).

Ver. 15. "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it."

In this also Adam was a figure of our Lord Jesus Christ, as pastor and chief bishop of his church. "I the Lord, [saith Christ,] do keep it; I will water it every moment, I will keep it night and day" (Isa 27:3).

"And the Lord God took the man." No man taketh this honour upon him, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. Blessed is he also that can say as the prophet Amos; "And the Lord took me [said he] as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel" (Amos 7:15).

"To dress it and to keep it." He that is not dressed, is not kept: That is a sad judgment, That which dieth, let it die; That which is diseased, let it not be dressed, let it die of that disease. By dressing therefore I understand, pruning, manuring and the like, which the dresser of the vineyard was commanded to do, without which all is overrun with briers and nettles, and is fit for nothing but cursing, and to be burned (Luke 13:6-9; Pro 24:30-34; Heb 6:7,8).

"And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat" (v 16).

It is God's word that giveth us power to eat, to drink, and do other our works, and without the word we may do nothing. The command gave Adam leave: "Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God [by the command of the word, and by receiving of it according to the limits thereof,] and prayer" (1 Tim 4:4,5).

Ver. 17. "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it." I said before, What God's word prohibits, we must take care to shun.

This "tree of knowledge," as I said before, was a type of the covenant of works, the which had not Adam touched, (for by touching it he broke that covenant,) he then had lived ever, but touching it he dies (Gen 3:3).

Adam going into the garden under these conditions and penalties, was therein a type of the humiliation of Christ; who at his coming into the world, was made under the law, under its command and penalty, even as other men, but without sin (Gal 4:4,5).

"For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

"For in the day." Adam lived to God no longer than while he kept himself from eating forbidden fruit; in that very day he died; first a spiritual death in his soul; his body also was then made capable of mortality, and all diseases, which two great impediments in time brought him down to dust again.

Ver. 18. "And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."

By these words, Adam's state, even in innocency, seems to crave for help; wherefore it is manifest that that state is short of that we attain by the resurrection from the dead; yea, for as much as his need required earthly help, it is apparent his condition was not heavenly; "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven" (1 Cor 15:47). Adam in his first estate was not spiritual: "That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterwards that which is spiritual" (v 46). Wherefore those that think it enough to attain to the state of Adam in innocency, think it sufficient to be mere naturalists; think themselves well, without being made spiritual: yea, let me add, they think it safe standing by a covenant of works; they think themselves happy, though not concerned in a covenant of grace; they think they know enough, though ignorant of a mediator, and count they have no need of the intercession of Christ.

Adam stood by a covenant of works: Adam's kingdom was an earthly paradise; Adam's excellency was, that he had not need of a Saviour; and Adam's knowledge was ignorance of Jesus Christ: Adam in his greatest glory, wanted earthly comforts; Adam in his innocency, was a mere natural man.

Ver. 19. "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air."

This proveth further what I said at first, That in the first chaos was contained all that was made upon the earth.

"And brought them unto Adam, to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof."

In this Adam was a lively type of the Lord Christ's sovereign and glorious power over all flesh: "Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him" (John 17:2).

"And brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them."

So Christ nameth the world; whom he will he calleth saints; and whom he will he calleth the world, "ungodly," "serpents," "vipers," and the like. "I pray for them, I pray not for the world" (John 17:9).

"And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof." Even as Christ passes sentence, so shall their judgment be.

Ver. 20. "And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field." So Christ judgeth of angels, devils, and men.

"But for Adam, there was not found an help meet for him." All the glory of this world, had not Adam had a wife, could not have completed this man's blessedness; he would yet have been wanting: so all the glory of heaven, considering Christ as mediator, could not, without his church, have made him up complete. The church, I say, "which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."

Ver. 21, 22. "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man."

In these words we find an help provided for Adam; also whence it came. The help was a wife; she came out of his side; she was taken thence while Adam slept. A blessed figure of a further mystery. Adam's wife was a type of the church of Christ; for that she was taken out of his side, it signifies we are flesh of Christ's flesh, and bone of Christ's bone (Eph 5:30). And in that she was taken thence while Adam slept, it signifies, the church is Christ's, by virtue of his death and blood: "Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with is own blood" (Acts 20:28).

"And he brought her to the man." That is, And God brought her to the man. By which he clearly intimates, That as the church is the workmanship of God, and the purchase of the blood of Christ; so yet she cannot come to Christ, unless brought to him of God: "No man can come to me [saith Christ] except the Father which hath sent me, draw him" (John 6:44).

Ver. 23. "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."

In that Adam doth thus acknowledge his wife to be bone and flesh of his substance, it shews us, that Christ will acknowledge those that are his: "He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee" (Heb 2:11,12).

And observe it, He said, "She is bone of my bone," &c. before that God, that brought her to him; intimating, that Christ both owns us now at his Father's right hand, and will not be ashamed of us, even in the day of judgment (Matt 10:33; Luke 12:8).

Ver. 24. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."

This ought to be truly performed in our married estate in this world. But here endeth not the mystery.

"Therefore shall a man leave his father." Thus did Christ when he came into the world to save sinners: He came forth from the Father; "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world" (John 16:28).

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother." The Jewish church may, in a mystical sense, be called the mother of Christ; for she was indeed God's wife, and of her came his Son Jesus Christ: yet his mother he left and forsook, to be joined to his Gentile spouse, which is now his only wife.

Ver. 25. "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."

No sin, no shame: Let men stand where God hath set them, and there is no cause of shame, though they be exposed in outward appearance to never so much contempt.

"And they were both naked." Apparel is the fruits of sin; wherefore let such as pride themselves therein, remember, that they cover one shame with another. But let them that are truly godly have their apparel modest and sober, and with shamefacedness put them on, remembering always the first cause of our covering our nakedness, was the sin and shame of our first parents (1 Peter 3:3).

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[5] In what pointed language are these solemn warnings put. Reader, in the sight of God, let the heart-searching inquiry of the apostle's be yours; Lord, is it I?

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[6] Bunyan beautifully illustrates this view of divine truth in his controversy with Edward Fowler, Bishop of Gloucester. See "The Defence of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith in Jesus Christ."—Ed.