Is Genesis 3:15 the Best Verse in the Bible?
A few weeks ago I was talking to another pastor and he said he was preaching on the best verse in the Bible. Having just finished teaching a class in Uganda on Genesis I asked if it was Genesis 3:15. That’s not what he had in mind but said that it was a good one. Ranking Bible verses would prove a tricky task. However, if one did rank them I would submit Genesis 3:15 for consideration for the best.
Why do I think so highly of this verse? On the first reading it is cryptic and to be glossed over. That’s how I treated it until I was taught better. Gen 3:15 is a great verse because 1) the context brings great hope, 2) it is programmatic of the rest of the Bible, & 3) God makes a promise that we know has been fulfilled.
In Genesis 1 & 2 God has created the world very good. He has made Adam and Eve, male and female in His image. He has given them food to eat and a garden to live in. He has given them the noble task of spreading the blessings of Eden to the rest of the world. He dwells among them. Life is good.
Yet Adam and Eve quickly throw it all away in order to be like God. It is in just chapter 3 where we read about their sin. They were aware of God’s command not to eat of that fruit. They were aware that on the day they ate of the fruit they would surely die. Yet they were deceived by the serpent and ate anyways.
When God visits them in the garden He confronts their rebellion against Him. He begins with the serpent and gives him a curse. Then God moves on and tells Adam and Eve what curses are to come because of their sin. It is important to note that God doesn’t curse them directly but rather labor and the ground are cursed.
See we have already skipped over Gen 3:15. It is here, in the midst of the curses, while cursing the serpent that we read: “I (God) will put enmity between you (the serpent) and the woman (Eve), and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Here God promises that he will start a war between the offspring of the woman and the serpent. God is promising to deal with the sin Adam and Eve has just brought into the world. It will be the battle, at the injury of the offspring, that will eliminate the serpent and his work. It is hope in the midst of great trouble. Here, in the middle of the curse, is the promise to make right what has gone wrong. This is what we call grace.
It was hope for Adam and Eve and it is hope for us. Though we sin and take for granted all God has given us, we know that there stands one who has dealt with our sin on the cross. It is a message of grace for us. Just like Adam and Eve, we need faith on the promised one, Jesus Christ.
If you have ever wondered what the Bible is all about, let Genesis 3:15 be the guide. Humanity has sinned and God will deal with that sin through a chosen offspring. The Old Testament (OT) looks forward to the work of the promised offspring. The New Testament (NT) looks backward to the work of the promised offspring.
The search for the promised offspring begins in Genesis 4:1 when Eve has Cain and says, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” The text is making it plain that she is looking for this promised one. It continues in Genesis 5:29 when Noah is born and his father, Lamech, says of him, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”
Neither one was the promised offspring. But the search has begun. Listen to Lamech’s words and how they point to the fact that the promised one will end the curse brought on by sin. Jesus is that promised offspring. But the whole OT looks forward to His coming. Jesus says as much in Luke 24:27.
The NT looking backward to this promise and talk of Jesus’ work in these terms. Romans 16:20 and Hebrews 2:14-15 provide talk of Jesus defeating the serpent. Revelation 20:1-3, 10 also discuss the final fate of the serpent – that is Satan. He is defeated by Jesus.
Thus the program of the whole Bible is that one will come to deal with sin and the curse. The OT looks forward to it and the NT looks back to it. Today we look back to Jesus’ work and trust it alone as the hope for our sin and to deal with the problems brought on by the first sin as well as our own.
We see by God’s promise, and its subsequent fulfilment, that nothing can stop God from bringing this about. In the OT there are bad people, kings, and deeds. There are world powers who oppress Israel. There is unfaithful Israel who is exiled. There is the destruction of the temple. Even the good guys do some terrible things – like David and Bathsheba for example. In the NT the religious leaders work against Jesus. Even the disciples try to stop Jesus from accomplishing His mission. Nothing stops God from delivering on His promise. Nothing.
At the end of chapter 3 of Genesis we have a beautiful scene of God showing grace and mercy to Adam and Eve. These are first fruits of the work to come. They were naked and had no shame but because of their sin they realized their nakedness and were ashamed. We might expect God to say they should deal with the mess they have made. Yet he doesn’t do that. Instead he fashions a loin cloth of animal skin to cover the nakedness and shame brought on by their own sin.
God is beginning to point to the work of Christ from the very beginning. He is showing a tender love that meets people where they are. He is dealing with sin and its effects in a real way but not in a permanent way. God knows that loin cloths don’t save people. They do cover nakedness and shame and point to Jesus who will remove shame permanently.
In Matthew 1:21 we learn why Jesus’ name is Jesus. It is because He will save His people from their sins. He came to deal with sin and its effects. When Adam and Eve sin, the first promise God makes is to deal with that sin through an offspring. Sin is the fundamental problem in our world today. Thus Jesus is the fundamental solution to that problem. We won’t know the full and final effects of that until Jesus returns. Now we have a wonderful foretaste.
That is why we endure in this life. We know that the serpent is still around deceiving people. But we know his ultimate fate is defeat – Rev 20:1-3, 10. But even now Jesus provides the forgiveness for sin and the power to overcome sin. We look to him as the saints of old did and rest in Him for deliverance in this life and the next– Hebrews 12:1-3.
Genesis 3:15 is a theologically packed verse. Its context, sin, provides the backdrop to the redemption Christ brings. Its message helps read the Bible in the right light. Its promise is fulfilled and gives hope to endure. Is it the best verse in the Bible? I don’t know. But it sure is a great one.
-Steven Edging MTW Missionary in Uganda