Genesis 1:1-2 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does Genesis 1:1 (printed below) say about the world? What is the significance of this?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

The very first words of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” teach the absolute beginning of all things (space, time, energy, matter). At a particular point in eternity, the immortal God brought everything into existence out of nothing (Creation and Change, Hugh Ross, p.57). Albert Einstein’s equation of general relativity revealed that the universe is simultaneously expanding and decelerating. This aspect of his theory implied that the universe began this expansion at a specific time in the distant past. Edwin Hubble, the astronomer who was the first to accurately measure the distance and velocity, relative to us, of a large number of galaxies, showed that they were, indeed, moving away from us and the further you looked the faster those distant galaxies were receding. This evidence proved that Einstein’s original equations were correct. Based on this theory of relativity, which is now extremely well proven, Steven Hawking and Roger Penrose developed the space-time theorem of general relativity. This theorem establishes that not only were matter, energy, and space created, but time was created as well ((REASONS TO BELIEVE, Staying Connected; June, 2005; pp.1-2).

2. According to Genesis 1:1, who is the Cause or Creator of the world? How does He describe Himself in Job 38:1-7 (portions of which are printed below?)

Then Jehovah answered Job out of the tempest. He said,… (4) Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? … (5) Who marked off its dimensions… ? Who stretched a measuring line across it? (6)… or who laid its cornerstone—(7) while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God sang for joy? (Job 38:1-7)

Genesis 1:1 reveals to us that the Person who is the Creator of the world and the cause of its existence is none other that God (Elohim). This Hebrew name (Elohim) is derived from a root word meaning “to fear,” or “to reverence” (Exposition of Genesis, Leupold, p.40). By His very name as well as by His works, the Creator reveals Himself to be the One who should elicit man’s most profound reverence and worship. Furthermore, this divine name (Elohim) especially conveys the Creator’s omnipotent power (Commentaries on the Old Testament, The Pentateuch, Vol 1, Keil & Delitzsch, Vol 1, p.119). The works recorded in Genesis one in a very outstanding way set forth the Creator’s mighty acts of power and majesty. When the Lord reveals Himself to Job, He describes Himself as the Master Workman who “constructed” the universe much like a carpenter constructs an earthly building. (More accurately, the carpenter’s work is patterned after that of the Master Workman.) Thus Genesis one reveals God, the Master Workman, carrying out His awesome work of creation in the course of a six-day workweek that culminates in a Sabbath rest on the seventh day.

3. How did God create the world? See Psalm 33:6, 8-9 printed below.

By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made, and the starry host by the breath of his mouth…(8) Let all the earth fear Jehovah; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him; (9) for he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. (Psalm 33:6,8-9)

The Psalmist emphasizes that the means of God’s creative activity was the power of His authoritative command. “By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made…he spoke, and it came to be.” The Psalmist is referring to the account of creation given in Genesis 1:3-31 where it is recorded that God uttered His authoritative command and what He willed was brought into existence. For example, “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (1:3). Furthermore, the form of the Hebrew verb (“to create”) that occurs in Genesis 1:1 is only used with reference to a divine creation, the production of something that had no prior existence (Keil & Delitzsch, Vol.1, p.47).

4. According to Genesis 1:1, what did God make? See also Colossians 1:16 printed below.

For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

The statement, “God created the heavens and the earth,” also includes the creation of all the spiritual beings as well as the entire physical realm. In Colossians 1:16 the apostle Paul declares, “by him (Christ) were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth.” He goes on to define the things of the earth as “things that are visible,” and the things in the heavens as “things that are invisible.” Among the “things that are invisible” Paul lists “thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.” He concludes by stating, “all things have been created through him (Christ), and for him.”

5. Describe the initial condition of the earth at the time God created it. See Genesis 1:2 (printed below).

And the earth was formless and empty; and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved upon the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)

In Genesis 1:2 the initial condition of the earth is described as being “formless and empty.” Both terms together indicate two directions in regard to which the newly created world will undergo further changes. First, it must be shaped and formed into definite molds; secondly, it must be peopled (or populated) with all kinds of inhabitants or beings (Leupold, pp. 46-47). Furthermore, the darkness must be penetrated by the light and the raging deep must be consigned to its appointed place causing the dry land to appear.