This English Bible begins with four simple words: In the beginning, God. God was before Creation. He is the Creator. The verse continues:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (All verses are in ESV unless otherwise noted)
The God of Genesis 1:1 is Elohim. Charles Spurgeon said of this verse,
“God, the living God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, sets forth his own name and title, that there may be no mistake as to who he is.”
Most Bible scholars agree that “Elohim” is derived from “El” meaning “mighty (one), strong (strength).” The Hebrew ending “im” added to “El” indicates plurality, reminding us that the Godhead is in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Dr. Matt Carter, pastor of Sagemont Church in Houston, said Elohim reveals God’s transcendence. Being transcendent means God is holy, powerful, and beyond our comprehension. We may have limited understanding of a specific aspect of His character or nature, but the whole of Who He is beyond our understanding.
The Trinity is one of the aspects of God’s nature that is beyond our understanding. Scripture makes it clear that all three persons of the Godhead were involved with Creation. But the specific “jobs” of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit aren’t clear. What follows is how I see the parts of all members of the Godhead in Creation.
God the Father is the author, planner, and designer of Creation. Or in modern builder’s terms, He is the architect. Some believe He spoke the words of Creation, giving Christ the instructions on how to perform the work. This may or may not be exactly what happened, but various verses in Genesis 1 repeat the phrase “and God said.” One example is God’s ultimate creation, mankind, made is His image, after His likeness.
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.” Genesis 1:26
The Son, Jesus Christ, in pre-incarnate form, is the agent of Creation. All things were made by and through Him.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1-3
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17
The part the Holy Spirit played in Creation is a little more difficult to explain. Genesis 1:2 makes it clear that He was present at Creation. In Genesis 1:2, we see the earth without form, void and covered with darkness. And the Spirit of God, the rûaḥ ĕlōhîm, the breath of Elohim, moved or hovered over the formless, void and dark earth. Some scholars believe the Spirit made order out of chaos, but Scripture doesn’t specifically say this.
“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:2
Elohim is one of the most frequently used names of God in the Old Testament. I want to close with a few verses that use this name. I encourage you to meditate on these verses, to see what God will reveal to you about His nature. The transcendent, unknowable God delights to reveal Himself to those who seek Him in His Word. Elohim is the Hebrew word for God in each of these verses.
“To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.” Deuteronomy 4:35
“Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39 NASB
“O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.” Isaiah 37:16
“For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:18
“And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” Nehemiah 8:6