In the beginning (Genesis 1:1)

The book of Genesis is placed as the first book of the Bible. It is the beginning of the Gospel. It is the first chapter in God’s redemptive story. Having an understanding of the book of Genesis is paramount in understanding the Bible as a whole. The word genesis comes by way of Latin from Greek. In the Hebrew text the book is named from its first word which means ‘in the beginning.’ The word genesis means origin. This is a perfect title for this book for it describes to us the origins of human history. The book of Genesis is the first book in a series of Biblical texts we call the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Bible which all had Moses as their human author.

Our focus in this study begins with Genesis 1:1. The New American Commentary says, “The Bible’s first words announce how Israel’s God can be known. He reveals himself in terms of the “when’s” and “where’s” of human life and history. Conceptually, this is how people orient themselves to their world. We locate ourselves in time in terms of our beginnings and endings. Our personal stories are also contoured by space. Thus as we see and identify ourselves by our finitude, so the Infinite One condescends by announcing his presence in the same terms—time and space. God is not merely an idea. He is Eternal Being whom we can know and experience personally. At the commencement of Scripture he invites us to learn of him. Yet the full manifestation of the Unknown One awaited the Incarnate Word, who as Son is the ‘exact representation of his being’ (Heb 1:3).”[1]

In the beginning. This phrase has to do with inauguration or the beginning of something. It does not just start, but it starts and ends. When Moses penned these words he did so with a view of the end. This is just the beginning of human history and just as there is a beginning of an historical account there is always an end. There is a lesson to be learned here. There is a purpose for life. There is a reason for life. It did not begin by some random accident. The beginning of time was planned and purposed in eternity past. Here in Genesis 1:1 we see that plan initiated and executed. Just as in any plan, there is a purpose, there is an end. The beginning is a means to an end. Since there is a plan and purpose we can be encouraged by the fact that God will finish what He has started. God is working in you and He will finish that work. He will see it through. Whatever you go through, whatever you face in life, you can be comforted by the fact that there is a purpose, there is an end.

In the beginning God. When ‘God’ is added to the phrase ‘in the beginning’ it does not mean that the beginning came before God. Rather, it simply states that God was already there in the beginning. He already existed. Before time began, God was. Warren Wiesbre writes, “What was happening before God spoke the universe into existence? That may seem like an impractical hypothetical question, like ‘How many angels can stand on the point of a pin?’ but it isn’t. After all, God doesn’t act arbitrarily; and the fact that He created something suggests that He must have had some magnificent purposes in mind. What, then, was the situation before Genesis 1:1, and what does it teach us about God and ourselves?”[2] Before the beginning there was God. He is eternal. He transcends space and time. He does not have a beginning and He does not have an end. “God has a voluntary relation to everything He has made,” wrote A.W. Tozer, “but He has no necessary relation to anything outside of Himself.”[3] God does not need anything. Think about it for a moment. This is simply mind boggling. The idea of an eternal God is beyond our comprehension. “As creatures of time, you and I can easily focus on the transient things around us; but it’s difficult if not impossible to conceive of that which is eternal. Contemplating the nature and character of the Triune God who always was, always is, and always will be, and who never changes, is a task that overwhelms us. In the beginning God.”[4]

It is interesting to note that the Bible does not set out to prove God’s existence. It assumes God’s existence as if it is a given. When Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words, the thought that God did not exist did not even enter his mind. It was a given. There is no argument. There is no question as to the existence of God. Psalm 90:2 says, “before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Only a fool denies the existence of God and arguing with a fool over God’s existence is a futile and foolish thing to do. It is equivalent to arguing with someone over the existence of wind or of air.

In the beginning God created. What God did before the beginning in eternity past is unknown to man and may never be known. However, we do know what God did in the beginning. He created. God is the greatest artist of all time and eternity. He is the greatest inventor. He is the greatest engineer. There is no comparison. Nothing or no one can even come close to the magnificence of God’s creative power. Why God chose to create is beyond us. It is a question that we may meditate on but can never tackle. Based on the character and nature of God, we can only assume that love had something to do with His choice to create. Did God create before the beginning? Perhaps. It is hard to fathom that He was all alone. Perhaps He created angelic or spiritual beings before the beginning. We do not really know the answer to such a question. All we know is that before the beginning God was and in the beginning God created.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. God created the heaven and the earth ex nihilo or ‘out of nothing.’ He created the heaven. Is this heaven, as in the abode of God or is it heaven, as in space? I personally feel that the heaven created in the beginning was the universe. The statement ‘God created the heaven and the earth’ has to do with the totality of the universe. He created all that is known to man and all that may never be known to man.

Our minds will never be able to fully comprehend God and His creative power. However, the beautiful thing is that God has made a way for us to know Him and to have a personal relationship with Him. Let this sink in. The God who has always existed. The God who created all that we know and all that we do not know. This God, loves you and loves me. And one day, if you have believed on His Son, you will be in His presence for eternity!

[1] Mathews, K. A. (1996). Genesis 1-11:26 (Vol. 1A, p. 126). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1998). Be basic (pp. 10–11). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1998). Be basic (p. 12). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

[4] Wiersbe, W. W. (1998). Be basic (p. 12). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

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3 thoughts on “In the beginning (Genesis 1:1)

  1. Could you please send me your comments about: “Why God created human?”. It is the main “unaswered question” of all monotheistical religions as far as I know. I know my religion’s answer but I want to learn about the answers of other religions to think about the fact behind it…
    Could you please share your comments to understand from the point of view of your religion? I do not know how to send private message here so I write it as comment. Thank you for your understanding…

    • It is difficult to understand the reason for anything that God does. However, I believe two things are most probable as to why God created. The first is the obvious: it was for His glory. All that God does has at its end His glory. God does what He does that He may be glorified. The second reason has to do with the character of God. God created humans because of love. The love of God is beyond our comprehension. It was by His love that He created man in His image and gave man a free will. It was by His love that he tested man in the garden with the forbidden fruit. It was by His love that He provided a way for sin to be atone for. It was by His love that Jesus came as the sacrificial lamb to pay the price of sin for all mankind. It was by His love that He rose again, giving eternal life to all who believe on Him. So, to answer your question, I really believe the love of God is the reason for the creation of man and the purpose of man is to bring Him glory.

      • Thank you for the answer.
        Angels were there before human and they were better in serving, glorifying and reflecting love as they do not have free-will (as far as I can understand from our book). Free-will causes choices which might be positive and negative. Result could be conflict with glory too. So, what could be the reason for the creation of human, after angels?
        In our book this question exists as the question of Angels during creation of human and afterwards, conflict of Satan cames. However; our book does not give any exact answer for that question and says the answer is with God. Does your religion has any answer for that question?

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