The Genealogy of Good News
How would you present the gospel in a brief sentence?
Perhaps something like,
"We are all born sinners, doomed to death, but God Himself took human form, took the punishment for our sin, so that we could live forever with Him in heaven."
Or perhaps an essential verse of Scripture:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life; for God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)
A comprehensive, yet concise, presentation of the gospel can be derived from just the names of the first man, Adam, and his nine descendents. The original meanings of each of these ten names can become part of a single sentence that communicates the Good News of redemption and regeneration in Christ.
Note: This study was inspired and based upon a much more comprehensive article by Chuck Missler: Meanings Of The Names In Genesis 5. Although my definitions differ slightly from those presented in Chuck's study, the substantial meanings remain the same.
First, look at the fifth chapter of the Book of Genesis:
This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh. Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died. When Enosh had lived 90 years, he fathered Kenan. Enosh lived after he fathered Kenan 815 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died. When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered Mahalalel. Kenan lived after he fathered Mahalalel 840 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died. When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he fathered Jared. Mahalalel lived after he fathered Jared 830 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died. When Jared had lived 162 years he fathered Enoch. Jared lived after he fathered Enoch 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died. When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech. Methuselah lived after he fathered Lamech 782 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died. When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, 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. (Genesis 5:1-29)
Now, use a Hebrew concordance and dictionary to sketch out the meanings of each of these ten names. I used Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionary (http://www.bible-explorer.com/)
Adam: ruddy (fresh, healthy red color, from ME rudi, OE rudig), a human being, mankind
Seth: put, substituted, placed
Enos: a mortal man, subject to death
Kenan: fixed, a nest or chamber, a dwelling, to erect, build, or occupy
Mahalalel: praise of God
Jared: to go downwards, fall
Enoch: initiated or discipline, to narrow
Methuselah: man of a dart, extending a missile, or spear, a shoot or a branch, sending away
Lamech: guilty or despairing
Strong's indicates this Hebrew word is an unused root of uncertain meaning. A good way to understand what this word may have implied is to look at several instances where it's used in the Bible. I found one verse that describes Lamech as someone very aware of his guilt, almost to the point of despairing of any remedy:
Lamech said to his wives: Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say: I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain's revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech's is seventy-sevenfold. (Genesis 4:23-24)
Noah: rest or quiet
Read through the list of ten names in the order given, replacing each name with its definition or meaning. There seems to be a definite sequence or message that can be drawn from these names.
Using poetic license, rewording each definition slightly, but still remaining faithful to the meanings given by the dictionary, it's possible to derive a coherent sentence that communicates the gospel:
Man is appointed to dwell on earth as a mortal, subject to death; The blessed God shall come down, teaching that his death shall bring to the guilty, comfort.
I recognize that there is quite a bit of subjectivity in selecting and modifying the definitions given in the dictionary, making other messages quite likely. The point of this exercise is to see the strong correlation between the names of these ten men and the message of redemption in Christ.
As early as the fifth chapter of Genesis, we can see a comprehensive, coherent message that sinful man will be offered redemption, forgiveness, and new life based upon the birth, life, death, and resurrection of God Himself, Jesus Christ.