God and His Creation (Genesis 1:1–2:3 Sermon Audio and Transcript)

In this post: Prologue; The opening declaration; Elohim; Fiat lux; It was good; Let Us make man in Our image; In the image of God He created him; The blight of sin; The Gospel; The seventh day

This is the audio and approximate transcript of a sermon preached on the morning of 25 October 2015. It is a prequel to He Gave Them New Clothes (Genesis 2:4–3:24) and Two Religions (Genesis 4:1–16).

Genesis 1:1–2:3

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, 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 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

2 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Prologue

In the distant past, the Holy Spirit moved a man – traditionally identified as Moses – to write a history of creation. As with all the God-breathed Holy Scriptures, this writing had a twofold purpose: to make us ‘wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus’, and that ‘the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work’ (2 Tim. 3:15–17). And so, some 3,500 years after they were written, we find ourselves engaged with the opening words of the Book of Genesis.

Moses, writing in Hebrew, begins his exquisitely crafted literary account with seven words. Seven words to introduce history’s first seven days. And the seven words are these:

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ׃

In our translation, ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.’

We receive these words and believe them to be true by faith, as Hebrews 11 verse 3 affirms:

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

We believe the entire Genesis account because our faith rests upon the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who is Truth. We trust Him, because He proved His extraordinary claim to be the Son of God in human flesh, by raising Himself from the dead (cf. John 2:9; 10:17–18).

Quoting from Genesis 1 and 2, Jesus says (Matt. 19:4–6):

“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Jesus accepts the Genesis creation history to be true; His conclusion demands that interpretation.

Because Jesus Himself was present and active in the creation, there can be no better attestation to the truth of Genesis than His.

Colossians 1:16–17:

For by Him [that is, Jesus] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

All things were created by Jesus.

Hebrews 1 verses 1 and 2:

God … has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds [αἰῶνας];

God the Father has made the worlds – or ages – through His Son, Jesus.

As well as the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit also participates in creation. From today’s text, Genesis 1 verse 2:

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

The Holy Spirit is actively present at the creation, hovering over the waters as a brooding bird flutters over its nest (cf. Deut. 32:11).

Jesus affirms that it ‘is the Spirit who gives life’ (John 6:63), as does Paul (Rom. 8:2, 10–11).

The uniform testimony of the Scriptures is thus that all three members of the Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – are active in creation: three Divine Persons acting in perfect harmony, one eternal God.

With this understanding, let us now examine our text. Genesis 1, verse 1.

The opening declaration

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

From this brief but profound statement, we see four things.

There was a beginning

First, we see that there was a beginning.

The Church has always understood this text to be teaching that time itself is included in God’s creation (cf. Heb 1:2, αἰῶνας). Ambrose, fourth century bishop of Milan, wrote: ‘In the beginning of time God made heaven and earth; for time began simultaneously with, not prior to, the world.’[5]

Neither time nor space are eternal; the universe had a beginning.

God is eternal

Second, we see that at the beginning of time and before all creation, God already was: ‘In the beginning, God created’. At the beginning of all things, God is already there.

The opening of John’s Gospel makes this point explicitly:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

God, the creator of time, is eternal. He Himself had no beginning, and He will have no end. He existed in eternity past, before even time itself. He exists now. He will always exist.

What is true of God in general is also true of the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 1 verse 8:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

The eternality of God helps us understand why He responds, ‘I AM WHO I AM’, when Moses asks for God’s name. God continues His response to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’

God is the one who Is. He is the one who Exists, dependent upon nothing and no-one else. Only the One true eternally self-existent God can rightfully claim the title ‘I AM’.

Jesus claims this Divine Name. John 8 verse 58:

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM [ἐγὼ εἰμί].”

The Jews understood that Jesus was claiming to be the God of the Old Testament. ‘They took up stones to throw at Him’, writes John.

God’s existence is self-evident

There was a beginning of time and space.

God is eternal.

The third thing we notice from the opening verse of our text is that it does not attempt to prove God’s existence – and neither does the rest of the Bible. Rather, the existence and glory of God is taken as evident from creation. Psalm 19:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
2 Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.

‘The heavens declare the glory of God’ – this is their purpose. Creation exists to manifest God’s glory and eternal power.

Building on this idea, Paul asserts in Romans chapter 1 that every single human being knows, within himself or herself, that there is a powerful, eternal God, but that we, in our fallen wicked state, suppress this truth. Romans 1, verses 18 and 19:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

Paul argues that, since knowledge of God’s ‘eternal power and Godhead’ is plainly revealed by creation, those who fail to glorify Him are without excuse. Verses 20 and 21:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

God alone is the Creator

There was a beginning of time and space; God is eternal; God’s existence, glory and power are self-evident in creation.

Fourthly, Genesis 1 verse 1 also reveals that God alone is the Creator. ‘In the beginning, God created’, it says.

And what does He create? The Hebrew says:

אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ׃

‘the heavens and the earth’. This phrase combines two contrasting parts to encompass the totality of all things. The idea conveyed is that God is the Creator of absolutely everything – the entire cosmos or universe.

If God is the Creator of all, it follows that there can be no other creator besides Him. Other scriptures, such as Isaiah 44 verse 24 confirm this (cf. Hebrews 3:4):

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer,
And He who formed you from the womb:
“I am the LORD, who makes all things,
Who stretches out the heavens all alone,
Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;

Elohim

Before we move on, there is one more thing to note about Genesis 1 that doesn’t come out in our English translations. In the Hebrew, the word for God is ʾĕlōhîm, the generic plural for ‘gods’. The verb ‘created’, though, is in the singular. Verse 1 is essentially saying, ‘In the beginning, Gods, He created the heavens and the earth.’ The plural ʾělōhîm is used throughout our Genesis text.

One explanation for this is that the word ʾělōhîm could be a plural of majesty, rather like the royal ‘we’. Or, it could be a Hebrew literary device calling attention to the depth and fullness of the attributes of God.

Perhaps, though, this very first verse of the Bible is hinting at the doctrine of the Trinity – one God in three Persons of one essence, power and eternity. Luther thought so,[1] though Calvin did not.[2]

Fiat lux

Let’s continue. 1 John 1 verse 5:

… God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

God creates according to His character, to reveal His glory. And the first thing that He creates is light.

God creates by His command, Genesis 1 verse 3:

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

The Hebrew is more direct and forceful:

יְהִי אוֹר וַיְהִי אוֹר׃

‘Light be! And light was.’

God speaks, and His creative Word is powerful and effective, accomplishing what is purposed. Light is summoned into being.

Ten times in this chapter we have the phrase ‘God said’. And ten times is His word accomplished.

The Lord declares through the prophet Isaiah, chapter 55 verse 11:

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

The account of creation reveals a fundamental distinction between the Creator and His creatures. God speaks, and His Word calls into existence that which is not. We, however, can merely work with what already is.

The Hebrew verb ברא – translated ‘created’ in our Genesis text – occurs 48 times in the Old Testament. It is significant that not even once is it used of anyone other than God Himself.

Unlike preachers of the false health-and-wealth gospel, then, and unlike the scripture-twisting teachers of the so-called New Apostolic Reformation, Christians do not attempt to ‘decree and declare’ into existence the vain imaginings of their hearts. Rather, Jesus teaches us to petition our loving Heavenly Father for our needs, as His true children (Matthew 6:11–12):

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.

The Scriptural identification between God’s Word and the Second Person of the Trinity is so strong that we rightly understand each Divine utterance in Genesis 1 – each ‘And God said’ – as including the working of God the Son. This chapter is drenched with the presence of the Lord Jesus.

The beginning of John’s Gospel makes this plain. Verses 1 to 5, written of Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.

 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

It was good

God creates according to His character, to declare His glory. And, because God is good (3 John 11), everything He creates is good. Genesis 1 verse 4:

And God saw the light, that it was good

Verse 10, of the earth and the seas: ‘And God saw that it was good.’

Verse 12, the grass, herb and trees: ‘good’.

Verse 18, the sun, moon and stars: ‘good’.

Verse 21, sea creatures and birds: ‘good’.

Verse 25, beasts of the earth, cattle, and every thing that creeps on the earth: ‘good’.

Finally, on day six, God surveys all His creation. Verse 31:

Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Let Us make man in Our image

Verse 26.

Rather than the outwardly directed commands of the earlier portion of the account – ‘Let there be’, ‘Let the earth bring forth’, and so on – we now have ‘Let us make’. This change in creation formula emphasizes the particular, intimate engagement of God in what is about to take place:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

If the plural ʾělōhîm of our text is readily explained, the problems caused for non-Trinitarians by verse 26 are profound:

Then God [plural ʾělōhîm] said, “Let Us [plural] make man in Our [plural] image, according to Our [plural] likeness;

We have a plural God, plural pronouns, and even a grammatically plural verb, ‘make’! Based on the Hebrew grammar, it seems as if this verse identifies more than one Person as God, though they share only a single ‘image’ and ‘likeness’. How does this fit with Bible’s clear teaching elsewhere that there is only one God?

Various explanations have been proposed, and most are unsatisfactory to some degree. Certainly, though, the grammar is entirely compatible with the traditional Christian understanding that this verse directly alludes to the Trinity: the Persons of the one Trinue God agree among themselves to create man according to their singular likeness.

Verse 27 is less contentious, returning as it does to singular verbs and pronouns:

God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

In the image of God He created him

Having solved one problem, we are left with another. The text doesn’t explain what it means by man’s being created in the image of God, though dominion over the earth is perhaps a consequence.

Whenever the meaning of a text appears uncertain, speculation is unwise. Instead, we look to see whether other, clearer passages of Scripture speak to the matter.

Paul’s epistles to the Colossians and to the Ephesians contain the only two Scriptures that directly address the substance of what it means for man to be made according to the image of God.

Colossians 3:8–10:

 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him

The new man – the regenerate nature – is ‘renewed in knowledge according to the image’ of God. Being renewed in this true, spiritual, saving knowledge of God is contrasted with the old man and his evil deeds. The image of God is opposed to the old fallen human nature.

Ephesians 4:22–24:

put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

To be created according to the [image of] God is to posesses ‘true righteousness and holiness’. Again, this is contrasted with the conduct of the corrupt old man with his deceitful lusts. And again, we learn that the image of God is opposed to – and distinct from – our fallen human nature.

At the least, then, to be made in the image and likeness of God is to be made posessesing a knowledge of God and having a true righteousness and holiness. To bear the image of God is to be in a right relationship with Him and living a holy life.

Christ, Paul tells us, is ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Col. 1:15). To possess the image of God is thus to be conformed by Him to the image of Christ. In this life, this work of God is ongoing in every believer (cf. Rom. 8:28–30), and we have a promise that ‘He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Phil. 1:6).

The blight of sin

Before we conclude by looking at the final two verses of our passage, let us briefly consider the blight of sin, and its cure.

Genesis chapters 1 and 2 portray a perfect creation.

Chapter 3 recounts the deception of Eve by the serpent, and the wilful rebellion of Adam against his Creator. Through this great and terrible Fall, sin enters the world through Adam, and death through sin (Rom. 5:12).

We struggle even to begin to comprehend the magnitude of Adam’s sin.

God had given him a wife and placed them both in an earthly paradise that would meet all their needs. God had given them dominion over the earth. Adam had been abundantly blessed. He had lacked for nothing.

Adam repays his Creator’s kindness with treachery.

Discontent with his creaturely dominion, Adam joins his wife in her hubristic desire to become ‘like God’. At the instigation of the serpent, the created man seeks to usurp God, his Creator.

With Adam’s high treason, the perfection of God’s creation is shattered, and the image of God in man is ‘utterly defaced’.[4] Adam is cut off from a saving spiritual knowledge of God as he casts aside the ‘true righteousness and holiness’ (Eph. 4:24) that were previously His by God’s creative act. Forsaking the image of God, Adam instead takes to himself rebellion and pride; he fashions himself after the image of the serpent, who is the Devil and Satan (Rev. 12:9; 20:2).

No earthly king tolerates treason. The due penalty is death. And the just penalty for high treason against the infinite, perfect, holy, righteous Eternal I AM must itself be infinite. Jesus says (Matt. 25:46), ‘these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life’ (cf. 2 Thess. 1:9).

We are offspring of Adam. We were born according to his fallen image, dead in our trespasses and sins, by nature children of God’s wrath (Eph. 2:1, 3). And because we are sinners, we sin daily, by thought, word and deed.

With each sin, we follow after Adam in our rebellion against the divine Majesty of our Creator God and His perfect Law. We provoke His just wrath and righteous indignation against us. We deserve death and everlasting punishment.

Even our best good works condemn us. In so far ‘as they are wrought by us’, our Confession of Faith says, ‘they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s punishment’.[3]

The Gospel

And yet, the infinite Eternal God, perfect in holiness and justice, also abounds in mercy and grace. And so, in the eternal counsel and decree of God (Acts 2:23), the Lamb of God is ‘slain from the foundation of the world’ (Rev. 13:8).

At the crux of history, the wrath of God the Father against sinners is poured out – not upon us – but upon His own dear Son. The holy justice of God and His loving mercy are perfectly united and displayed in a single, momentous, propitiatory sacrifice.

Romans 5:8–11:

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Christ, the ‘brightness of God’s glory’ and ‘the express image of His person’ has ‘purged our sins’ (Heb. 1:3). As ‘we have borne the image of the man of dust’ we, through the finished work of Christ, ‘shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man’ (1 Cor. 15:49).

The seventh day

Finally, let us return to our text. Genesis 2 verses 2 and 3:

2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Why did God take six days to create the earth? Why did He not create it in an instant? Why did He cease from His labours on the seventh?

Surely not for His own sake, for God ‘neither faints nor is weary’ (Isaiah 40:28).

God blesses this seventh day and declares it Holy, not for His benefit, but for ours. ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath’, says Jesus (Mark 2:27).

God does not tire, but we do. We become weighed-down by the cares and concerns of this life, by our daily work, and especially by our sin. We begin to turn our eyes away from our Creator and our Redeemer.

And so, as a cap-stone upon creation, God fashions a seventh day for us.

He sanctifies it, setting aside not a holy place, but a holy time.

We have been given one day in seven as a gracious gift:

– one day in seven on which we can hold sacred God’s Holy word, and gladly hear and learn it;

– a day on which God’s kindness leads us to repentance through the proclamation of His holy Law;

– a day on which the Word of Christ that summoned worlds into being now summons, strengthens and sustains faith in our frail hearts as we hear the proclamation of His Gospel, ‘the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes’;

– a day on which we eagerly receive the Gospel made visible – a Gospel that we touch and taste: the bread of which Jesus says ‘This is My body which is given for you’; and the cup that He declares to be ‘the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you’.

And so we treasure this day; we delight in God’s Law through repentance, and we delight in the mercy of Christ by receiving the forgiveness of our sins. This is our worship, this is the work of God in us: to believe in the One whom the Father sent (John 6:29).

Amen.

Footnotes

1. Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 1: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5 (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 1; Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 11–12:

It is more worthwhile to note that Moses does not say: “In the beginning אֲדוֹנִי created heaven and earth” but makes use of a term in the plural number, אֱלֹהִים, a name which Moses and others use to designate the angels as well as judges and magistrates, as in Ps. 82:6: “I have said, ‘You are gods.’ ” Here, however, it is certain that it designates the one true God, by whom all things were created. Why, then, does he make use of the plural number?

The Jews apply their sophistry to Moses in various ways, but to us it is plain that he wants to hint at the Trinity or the plurality of Persons in one single divine nature. Because he is speaking of the work of creation, it follows clearly that he is excluding the angels. There remains, therefore, this contradiction: God is one, and nevertheless that most perfect unity is also the truest plurality. Why else should it be of importance that Moses makes use of the plural number?

Therefore the feeble sophistry of the Jews is unacceptable, that the plural number is made use of for the sake of respect. What room is there here for respect? Especially since our German custom to use the plural number out of respect when we speak of only one person is not common to all languages.

In the second place, even though they loudly claim that this expression is applied also to the angels and men, nevertheless in this passage it is a plural and cannot be understood except of the one true God, because the context deals with the creation. There were many other terms in the singular number of which Moses could have made use if it had not been his definite purpose to indicate to those who are spiritual that in the divine nature, apart from the creation, there is a plurality of Persons. Of course, he does not say in so many words that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the one true God; this was to be reserved for the teaching of the Gospel. It was adequate for him to indicate this plurality of Persons by means of the plural term, which later on is applied also to human beings. [↩]

2. John Calvin and John King, Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis (vol. 1; Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 70–72:

God. Moses has it Elohim, a noun of the plural number. Whence the inference is drawn, that the three Persons of the Godhead are here noted; but since, as a proof of so great a matter, it appears to me to have little solidity, I will not insist upon the word; but rather caution readers to beware of violent glosses of this kind. They think that they have testimony against the Arians to prove the Deity of the Son and of the Spirit, but in the meantime they involve themselves in the error of Sabellius: because Moses afterwards subjoins that the Elohim had spoken, and that the Spirit of the Elohim rested upon the waters. If we suppose three persons to be here denoted, there will be no distinction between them. For it will follow, both that the Son is begotten by himself, and that the Spirit is not of the Father, but of himself. For me it is sufficient that the plural number expresses those powers which God exercised in creating the world. Moreover, I acknowledge that the Scripture, although it recites many powers of the Godhead, yet always recalls us to the Father, and his Word, and Spirit, as we shall shortly see. But those absurdities, to which I have alluded, forbid us with subtlety to distort what Moses simply declares concerning God himself, by applying it to the separate Persons of the Godhead. This, however, I regard as beyond controversy, that, from the peculiar circumstance of the passage itself, a title is here ascribed to God, expressive of that power, which was previously in some way included in his eternal essence. [↩]

3. Joseph Pohle and Arthur Preuss, God: The Author of Nature and the Supernatural (Dogmatic Theology; St. Louis, MO: B. Herder, 1916), 51–52:

St. Basil, born in 329 or 330 A.D., says “Because many believed that the world was eternal, like God, Moses purposely chose these words: In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” St. Ambrose insists that the world began simultaneously with time. “In principio temporis,” he says, “Deus coelum et terram fecit; tempus enim ab hoc mundo, non ante mundum—In the beginning of time God made heaven and earth; for time began simultaneously with, not prior to, the world.” In other words, time began with Creation. Before the Creation of the world there was no real, but only imaginary time. Quite appositely, therefore, does St. Augustine observe: “Procul dubio non est factus mundus in tempore, sed cum tempore—The world was doubtless not made in time, but with time.” And he brushes aside the ludicrous question: “What did God do during the time that preceded the Creation?” with the remark: “Non enim erat tunc, ubi non erat tempus—There was no then, because there was no time.”. [↩]

4. 1560 Scottish Confession of Faith, ch. 3. [↩]

5. 1677/89 Baptist Confession of Faith, ch. 16 ¶ 5. [↩]

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