The Differences of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2

The Bible is showing that Genesis 1 is the spiritual creation of Earth. While Genesis 2 is showing the natural formation of Earth.

Over the years we’ve been taught that there are no differences between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. We have been taught that Genesis 2 focuses in on the 6th day of creation, which is in Genesis 1 at the 27th verse (see here). Some scholars and readers noticed that there are some contradictions with this understanding because of how God created the plants and animals before He created “Man”, in Genesis 1. But in Genesis 2, we see God forming Man first and then causing plants to grow and forming animals after Man is formed. So, if chapter 2 is indeed following the order of the creation days, why are there these noticeable, head scratching differences? Not only that but why does Genesis 1 say “God” and Genesis 2 says “the Lord God”? Why the name change?

Let’s look at these two chapters to understand the differences and see the similarities. To understand what the Bible is trying to teach us.

In Genesis 1, we have the author giving us an idea of what the Earth looked like, in the beginning when God created it.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep” Genesis 1:1-2

The rest of verse two then tells us that, “the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters”. Again, it says, “the Spirit of God was moving”. This verse is explaining to us that the Spirit of God puts forth the action of the command that will be spoken.

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” Genesis 1:3

Now in verse three, we have God speaking His first command. And because verse two told us that “the Spirit of God was moving”, we know after God spoke the command the Spirit of God put forth the action, and thus it says, “and there was light”. So, we can see the Trinity at work in Genesis 1. We have the Mind of God thinking, then the Word of God speaking, and lastly the Spirit of God moving. Though we don’t see it in verse, the Mind of God thinking, we know that one must think before they speak.

Now that we have a better visual of God in Genesis 1, we can read the rest of the chapter with this understanding. So, as we jump down to verse eleven it says:

Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them’; and it was so” Genesis 1:11

This was God creating the vegetation in a spiritual state. The two Hebrew words used for ‘vegetation’ in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are different from each other as the website Got Questions explains. “The Hebrew words for 'vegetation' are different in the two passages. Genesis 1:11 uses a term that refers to vegetation in general. Genesis 2:5 uses a more specific term that refers to vegetation that requires agriculture, i.e., a person to tend it, a gardener. […] Genesis 1:11 speaks of God creating vegetation, and Genesis 2:5 speaks of God not causing ‘farmable’ vegetation to grow until after He created man”. Therefore, the vegetation of Genesis 1 had to be in a spiritual state in the day that God created it.

Jumping down a couple of verses to the twentieth verse, it reads:

Then God said, ‘Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens’” Genesis 1:20
“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind’; and it was so” Genesis 1:24

When we read the words, “living creatures”, in the Hebrew the words are “chay nephesh”, which means “living soul”. So, Genesis 1 is in fact telling and showing us that God was making the soul of life. God was making life in its spiritual state because that is life.

With understanding that God was making life in its spiritual state, when we get to His next statement, which is Him creating man we can begin to understand.

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” Genesis 1:26-27

Because Genesis 1 is showing us that God made everything in a spiritual state, when it says, “male and female He created them” God was talking about the soul of man. Man is a soul and the soul is male and female. Though the understanding of the soul being male and female is not written in the Bible to bring about full understanding, that doesn't mean that the Bible is not teaching that in Genesis 1. Here is an understanding of the male and female soul:

“Each soul has a certain percentage of male energy and female energy, regardless of the gender of the physical body” (Shepard Hoodwin)
“Male energy is directed, focused, goal-oriented, productive, and outward-thrusting or positive-charged (as in a magnet). It corresponds with linear, left-brained thinking, and with doing. Its positive pole (as I channeled it) is exertion and penetration; its negative pole is intrusion. Female energy is creative, process-oriented, unstructured, and inward-drawing or negative-charged. It corresponds with circular, right-brained thinking, and with being. Its positive pole is expansion and generation; its negative pole is chaotic destruction” (Shepard Hoodwin).

If you would like to study more about the male and the female soul I recommend here.

Going back to Genesis 1, after God created man, He blesses them. It reads:

“God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so. Genesis 1:28-30

Understanding that Genesis 1 is showing how God created the Earth spiritually, when He blesses man, He commands them to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it”. God commanded the soul of Adam, which is also the soul of Eve (learn about how Adam and Eve are spiritually 'one' here and here), to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it”. And because in verse thirty it says, “and it was so”, that means Adam and Eve multiplied their soul, thus creating the souls of you and me, and everyone else that will be.

God also told them that “I have given every green plant for food”. He says “green plant”. We live in a world that is full of color. We should expect nothing less in the spiritual. Genesis 1 is also declaring that our soul eats. And our soul eats “green plants”.

Now that we understand Genesis 1, we can see what Genesis 2 is saying. Genesis 2 begins with the seventh day:

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” Genesis 2:1-3

We now have God resting from all the work that He did in the prior six days in Genesis 1. Going down a verse we notice a name change:

“This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven” Genesis 2:4

Genesis 2:4 says, “the Lord God”. This name change was on purpose and by design. Remember what God looks like in Genesis 1. We have God thinking, speaking, and moving, which represents the Trinity. Well the Trinity is at rest; Genesis 2 tells us. Now we have the Lord God. The Lord God is God the Father. God has been with man in His three persons throughout our existence. God the Father in Genesis 2-3, Jesus Christ in the New Testament, and the Holy Spirit now. So, the name change is on purpose because the Bible is declaring that God is resting. The Trinity is now working separately in His three persons.

Let’s continue:

“Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground” Genesis 2:5

The Lord God had not sent rain, which means there were no plants as the verse declares. Physical plants need rain in order to grow. Genesis 2 is now telling us that there is no physical man to cultivate the physical plants that would spout when the Lord God provides rain for the Earth.

“But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” Genesis 2:6-7

There is a reason why Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 use different terms to show what God is doing. In Genesis 1, it says that God "created man". Now in Genesis 2 it says the Lord God "formed man". So, what we see happening here is the Lord God forming man whom He had already created. He is forming man by giving flesh “from the dust of the ground”. And when the Lord God breathed in to Adam; His breath became Adam's spirit. Our spirit is how we are able to animate the body. Without God’s breath our soul that was formed in the body cannot operate the body. God’s breath gives our soul power in the physical body to animate it. This is what Paul was trying to help us understand when speaking of the 1st and Last Adam in 1 Corinthians 15:45 (study the 1st and Last Adam here).


“The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” Genesis 2:8-9

Now we can see what the role of the Lord God is in Genesis 2. The Lord God is making everything that God made spiritually, physical. He is causing plants to grow and giving all life flesh.

Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name” Genesis 2:19

The Lord God formed the 'living souls" that God in Genesis 1 already created on the fifth and sixth day. Now the Lord God is bringing the formed animal souls to the man to see what he will call them.

The last thing recorded that God formed was woman. And the Lord God made woman in a quite unique way (learn why here).

“The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man” Genesis 2:22

Now being at the end of Genesis 2, we can look at both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 and notice the similarities and the differences. Genesis 2 is not a focus on what God does on the sixth day in Genesis 1. But Genesis 1 and 2 are two different ways that God created the Earth and it inhabitants; Genesis 1 is the spiritual and Genesis 2 is the natural. Our physical world is basically a container that holds all spiritual life. Again, this is what Paul is trying to tell us in 1 Corinthians 15 (study it here).

Anyone can read these two chapters and notice the differences and begin to scratch their head when studying the teaching that Theology has taught for centuries.


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