Genesis 1 Tov (Good)

Forest Hill Church | It Was Very Good

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Tov (Good)

Peter Kapsner preached a series at Church of the Open Door over the summer.  It tells the grand narrative of the Bible, but he particularly hones in on ‘good’ and ‘evil’.  Our word for good does not really communicate the full meaning of the word that it translates.  In fact in different passages of scripture the word for good is translated differently.  The Hebrew word is tov.  We hear it from Jewish friends when they drink and say mazel tov – literally good luck/fortune.  However, the Hebrew, which can also be transliterated tobh, has many meanings depending on the context (  Kapsner argues that the repetition of the word good in Genesis 1 brings us to a dynamic fullness.  Things are as they should be, but they are also flourishing.  They are moving toward a God-ordained reproduction and growth.  God himself lies behind the goodness that infuses creation because he is good.  He is flourishing and dynamic, life-giving and in harmony.

If we apply the full range of tov to man and woman it reveals God’s intentions more fully.  God gives his life to men and women and lives with them.  He is the source of their life and nourishes their souls.  His life flows through them as they work together to bring nurture, care and flourishing to the plants and animals in the Garden of Eden.  As God communes with them, so they carry his image and become majestic in their bearing.  They are not clothed in fine robes and wearing crowns made of gold, they are naked and they feel no shame.  There is nothing that shields them from each other or from their God.  They are open to each other and open to Him.  This is good.  The connected relationships as a means to flourishing is life-giving.  With the fall the nature of the relationship with God, others and self is broken.  Life ebbs away.  Kapsner says in his subsequent sermon, “In dying people die.”  In being disconnected from the Creator, people find that their ability to nourish themselves is diminished.  The light begins to dim.  The flame flickers for a while longer before each brief candle is extinguished.

Listen to Peter Kapsner’s sermon here:


God, what you have meant for good we have turned to evil.  We have cut ourselves off and hidden ourselves from the wellspring of life.  May we become open and healed.  May we regain the tree of life by seeking your heart and your reconciliation.  In our relationships may we be open and courageous to rediscover the truth.


  1. How does God describe the entirety of his creation?
  2. What is the meaning of the Hebrew word ‘tov’?
  3. How does knowing the Hebrew enhance the reading of the English?
  4. How have 21st century humans cut themselves off from the source of good?
  5. How can you be an instrument in restoring the flow of good from a gracious God to his estranged creation?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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17 Responses to Genesis 1 Tov (Good)

  1. Jung Kim says:

    Prayer: Dear God, thank you for giving us your Word today to know more about who YOU are. You are indeed a good God. You are indeed the most honest God and Person of all mankind. Mold us and change us to open our hearts and minds to be open and courageous. Give us boldness today like our ancestors have had in the past. We thank you for listening to our prayer. In Christ’s name, amen.

  2. Molly says:

    How can you be an instrument in restoring the flow of good from a gracious God to his estranged creation? Imagine if all the world knew and understood that they were image bearers. How would that change their perception of themselves? I think it would have a deep impact in how people care for themselves (in a holistic manner) and for others. I pray that I can be an instrument in the kingdom to remind people of this precious truth.

  3. 1. He said that it was “good”.
    2. It means “good” but in a fuller sense than how we usually use the word. Not only is it as it should be, but it is a more vibrant, growing, and flourishing good.
    3. It changes our static use of the word “good”. Good in the way God says or intends goodness is far richer because it is a good oriented correctly towards and thriving in Him.
    4. We have defined “good” in a way that is more complacent and is the bare minimum for what someone ought to be. We have done this so we can attempt to step away from God’s definition of goodness.
    5. We need to expose people to the original kind of goodness for which they were created for and their worth in the Image of God.

  4. It’s amazing to me the depth of a word so simple as “good”can mean in scripture. Everyone says “good” all the time and we have used it so often that it tends to not means what it should mean, God is the ones who is “good”, not us- when someone asks how our days is going and we have to lie because we are so down we feel like crawling up in a ball-we say “good”. What does it mean? It means good has no meaning to us. Good was the mark God placed upon us on creation! We are GOOD. Think about it, when a company manufacturers something they are called, “goods”. We are made in God’s image-and we are good! I know I’m repeating myself a lot, but I can’t get over this new found sense of the word, “good”. Ha.

  5. Kimberly W. says:

    The phrase “There is nothing that shields them from each other or from their God” stands out to me. I have many masks I wear and many walls I hide behind. Most of that I do out of fear and shame. I try to hide even from God at times. When I think of Eden, the pure relationships between man and woman and between humanity and God strikes me. I long for that to be restored in my life.

  6. Maria T. says:

    How can you be an instrument in restoring the flow of good from a gracious God to his estranged creation?
    I think that because God’s pronouncement of goodness over creation was verbal, using words to bring about the restoration of the flow of God’s gracious goodness toward creation is the best means He has given us to act as His instruments of grace.

  7. Michael McCardle says:

    Restore us from the brokenness of our fallen nature. We have polluted the world you created and we have marred your image. Everything around us has the potential to become an idol. We worship created things all day long we worship ourselves.
    Oh Lord my God put back together what has wrongfully been separated; and sever what we have wrongfully put together.

    You are a holy God and we are unworthy to be called yours. But you have saved us, you have brought us back to you from the separation of sin and darkness. You are a good good Father and you are mighty to save.

    Redeem your creation, redeem your people Lord.


  8. Emmy R says:

    Oh to have the privilege that Adam and Eve had in the Garden, to walk and talk with God just like any other friend. I look forward to the day when our “goodness” is restored, when are relationship with God is like it was intended, and we spend the rest of our days worshiping Him. May the Lord use me as His vessel until then.

  9. Maelynn says:

    4. Well, they don’t believe there is a God. They believe that truth can be found within themselves and that all religions lead to heaven. They have no desire to submit to or be accountable to Jesus Christ.
    5. By living out what the Bible says. By “walking out the talk.” Hopefully, people will ask me the reason for the hope that I have, that they might come to Christ as well.

  10. Olyn says:

    I am sorry for how I have taken what You made good and used it for evil. Thank you for your salvation and redemption, because I know that I am unworthy. Lord, you are so good! Please use me to show other people how good you are.

  11. Andrew Moore says:

    Although I know that a perfect and pure relationship with the Lord can never be achieved until we are fully delivered from sin, I long for the Lord to make his creation new and perfect once again.

  12. Megumi says:

    1. God describes his creation as good.
    2. Tov is the Hebrew word for good.
    3. It seems the Hebrew can be used in a number of ways the same as the English word good can be used in a number of ways.
    4. By severing connectedness with God and others
    5. By abiding in God as my source of spiritual nourishment and producing fruit that evidences his influence in my life

  13. Christina W. says:

    How have 21st century humans cut themselves off from the source of good?
    We have cut ourselves off from the source of good by turning from God and choosing to find things “good” that are not truly good. In our culture today, I feel like we have totally lost the sense of what the word good even means or entails.

  14. 1. God describes the entirety of His creation as GOOD.
    2. The Hebrew word “tov” means good.
    3. Our word for good does not really communicate the full meaning of the word that it translates.
    4. We have tainted God’s creation and turned it into something that is self-serving, rather than something that serves and glorifies God.
    5. I need to keep in mind that God’s creation was made for me to enjoy and to bring God glory, not the other way around. His creation is a gift to us, but ultimately it is intended to make Him glorified.

  15. Thanks for the beautiful comments on this series of sermons

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