Lessons From Genesis Five
James A. Gunn

Copyright © 1974 James A. Gunn
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Published by permission of the author.
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All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Tim. 3:16-17

Genesis Chapter Five is one of those parts of the Bible that is usually passed over rather than prayed over. When we come to “begats,” somehow we lose some interest, forgetting that all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable, etc. The dullness is ours, not the Scripture’s.

On one occasion, in order to learn about the lineage of Christ, I made a chart of all the genealogies in the Old Testament. Now most any good commentary will tell you which men were in the line from Adam to Jesus of Nazareth. But after making the chart, it was striking to see that each branch that did not form the lineage came to a dead end. Now, just reading the genealogies is not very interesting. But when a purpose is pursued, they can become profitable.

The chart that prompted this paper was the result of a similar inquiry. While preparing a lesson about how Noah’s ark typified salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ, a question came to mind concerning the faith of Noah and the reliability of the information about God to which Noah had access. I had never doubted after I was saved that the ages given of the patriarchs were accurate. However, I had never considered who were the patriarch’s contemporaries. Being somewhat technically inclined, I started to graph the ancestors of Noah. The chart below is the result. What follows is an attempt to share some of the doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness that came from this exercise.

Chapter Five of Genesis is called the book of the generations of Adam. God calls our attention to a phase in the history of man. God created Adam and Eve in His own image. That is, He created full grown, intelligent, rational beings. Contrary to all the compromise of men with their so-called theistic evolution (a theory which says God “created” through evolutionary process), the Bible declares without apology that Adam and Eve were created ready to face responsibility for their yet unborn generations. When Adam was created on the sixth day, he was innocent. I see no reason to believe that any more time had passed than five days of the same duration that you and I now experience. My opinion is that the so-called gap theory between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is an attempt to square the biblical record of the age of the earth with the millions, even billions of years that are necessary to support theories of evolution.

Sometime after Adam’s fall, Cain and Abel were born. Cain killed Abel, was driven away, and is not in the lineage of Christ. Later, when Adam was 130 years old, he begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth. Adam had been created after the image of God: sinless. Seth was begotten after the likeness and image of Adam: sinful. This helps me to understand how our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, is very God. The Son of God was not created by God. A created thing can only be similar to something. But a thing begotten is that very thing that begot it. Therefore, the Son of God is begotten from all eternity and is indeed God. Seth was begotten in time and was in the same image as his father: sinful.

Adam lived another 800 years, and fathered many other children. He died when he was 930 years old. But before he died, he saw the birth of his great, great, great, great, great, great grandson Lamech, who was Noah’s father. For fifty-six years of Lamech’s life, until Adam died, all nine of the patriarchs before Noah were living at the same time! The Bible does not say, but there is no reason to doubt that they communicated with each other. The confusion of tongues and the scattering abroad does not come until Chapter 11.

Imagine what Adam could tell his grandchildren about the beauty of the Garden and talking with the LORD God before he plunged his race into shame. Imagine his testimony of the mercy of God in exchanging his apron of self-righteousness for the blood-bought skins of animals. Imagine how he could describe the subtleness of the serpent, and his own wickedness.

So you can see from the chart that Noah could have talked to six patriarchs. Some skeptics have tried to dilute the truth of the Bible by saying that the story of Adam, etc. was changed by being retold from generation to generation. But you see in the chart that it was the same story, and that the generations were all living together for a long, long time.

Another trick that Satan invented was to get people to believe that the ages of the patriarchs were not the same as the years that we know. For example, a year (they say) was not 365 days, or fifty-two weeks, or twelve months, but probably a month or some other relatively short period of time. The chart reveals that at age ninety, seventy or sixty-five; these patriarchs had sons, who are listed in the genealogy, who lived to be 905, 910, or 895 years old. If a year in Genesis Five equaled one month, then Adam was really less than eleven “years” old when Seth was born. “But,” you may say, “God created him full grown.” Well then, Seth would be less than nine “years” old when Enos was born. We can get ridiculous when we try to “explain” away God’s Word.

It is not my purpose to expound Genesis Five. Therefore I will not comment on Enoch’s translation in verse 24, although it is very rich in meaning. Refer to Hebrews 11:5 and to Enoch’s sermon in Jude 14-15.

The faith of Noah is evidenced when you consider that he was 500 years old when he begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Genesis 7:6 tells us he was 600 years old when the flood came. If we can assume that the statement in Genesis 6:3 regarding the 120 years of the longsuffering of God while Noah preached righteousness, was revealed to Noah, then we may assume that Noah began to build an ark with compartments for his wife, his three sons and their wives before he had these sons. He would have been 480 years old at that time.

Another lesson about Noah’s faith derives from the fact that he was building a boat to escape a thing that he had never seen: rain. Hebrews 11:7 says, by faith Noah, being warned of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, preparing an ark to the saving of his house. That thing not yet seen is spoken of in Genesis 2:5, for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, etc. It had never rained on Noah, but he believed God could make it rain so much that he would need a boat to escape it. No doubt Adam’s testimony through his father and grandfathers was used to help him to believe that God would always keep His word.

But while Noah believed God, there is reason to think that his grandfather Methuselah did not. By plotting the ages of the patriarchs to scale, we see that the flood came when the earth was 1656 years old. Methuselah died in that same year. We are not told that he perished in the flood, but it does present some reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness if he did. Methuselah lived longer than any other man: 969 years. By natural standards, he would have been the wisest man, being the oldest with the most experience. He would have known Adam directly. (See I Cor.1:19, 20 and 2:19.) The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. What a lesson if this old man did not believe God after all that he had seen.

Note: James Gunn lived in Franklin, Tennessee when this article was published in the “Baptist Reformation Review”, Spring 1974 – volume 3, Number 1.

The following note was appended to the article by the editor, Norbert Ward.

“James Gunn was born in 1935 in Mobile, Alabama. He grew up and was educated in that state. He has been an employee of South Central Bell Telephone Company for 20 years and is now working in the area of computer mechanization of procedures. Mr. Gunn came to know Christ in 1968. He teaches the Bible class for adults at Reformed Baptist Church, Franklin, Tennessee.”
130----------  ----------  Adam 130: Seth Born

235----------  ----------  ----------  Seth 105: Enos Born

325----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  Enos 90:Cainan Born

395----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------- Cainan70: Mahalaleel Born

460----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------- ----------  Mahalaleel 65: Jared Born

622----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------- ----------  ----------  Jared 162: Enoch Born

687----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------- ----------  ----------  ----------  Enoch 65: Methuselah Born

874----------  ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------- ----------  ----------  ----------  ----------Methuselah 187: Lamech Born*

930 Adam Dies
        at 930
987---------------------------------------- Enoch Translated at 365-------------

1042 Seth Dies at 912--

1056 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Lemech 182: Noah Born

1140 -------Enos dies at 905-------

1235------------Cainan dies at 910------------

1290---------------Mahalaleel dies at 895----------------

1422----------------------------Jared dies at 962---------------------

1536---------Flood foretold: Noah is 480 and began to build the ark before his sons are born?-----------

1556----------Noah is 500 when his sons are born. Noah build ark before it had ever rained--------------

1651---------------------------------Lamech dies at 777-----------------------------------------------

1656---------- Year of the flood: Noah is 600 years old------------------------------------
                 (Methuselah dies at 969. Was he killed in the flood?)

2006--------------------------------------------------Noah dies at 950-------------------------------------------

Lamech, Noah's father, was 56 years old when Adam died. He therefore had the opportunity to have direct communication with nine patriarchs who were alive at the same time.

YEARS from Creation [Adam and Eve created on the 6th Day, Cain and Abel are born; age of Adam is not known]
Enoch Translated at 365