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   [27 Sep 2013 | Friday]

The God of Genesis 1

In my book God, the Mosquito, and Man one of the main characters is called Great friend of God. She has been not only a mentor in the Lord but also a friend. She sent me this that was written by Russell Grigg and I thought I would share it with you.

 Who really is the God of Genesis?

by Russell Grigg

The God of Genesis is not someone whom Christians share with Islam, modern-day non-Messianic Judaism,1 Hinduism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Unitarians, or any other belief system which rejects the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Rather, unlike those systems, Genesis portrays the God of Christianity (the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) to be the God who is not only one, but is also more than one.

The very first verse of the Bible reads: ‘In the beginning God (plural) created (singular) the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1). Moses, the author of Genesis under the direction of the Holy Spirit, chose to use the Hebrew plural term elohim for God,2 rather than the singular el3 or the singular poetic form eloah. But he does use the singular form of the verb ‘created’!

Besides elohim, Moses also used other plural forms with reference to God in Genesis. Genesis 1:26 reads, ‘Then God said, “Let us make [plural] man in our [plural] image.”’4 Here Moses uses the singular verb ‘said’, but quotes God as using a plural verb and a plural pronoun with reference to Himself. See also Genesis 11:7, where God says, ‘Let us go down and confuse their language.’

Why did Moses use these plural forms?

Some have suggested that this plurality is merely a plural of majesty, like the ‘royal we’ grandly used by kings, queens and others today. However, the kings of Israel and Judah were all addressed in the singular in the Bible accounts. Linguist Dr Charles Taylor says:

Genesis portrays the God of Christianity (the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) to be the God who is not only one, but is also more than one.

‘Nobody is in a position to show that in Moses’ day or earlier, people were in the habit of addressing kings and princes in the plural. In fact, there is no evidence at all from the Bible itself, and the Bible is one of the oldest books there is.’5

Others have gone further and said that elohim shows that God includes within Himself plurality of powers, attributes and personhood. With this we agree. Elohim is a plural noun with a singular meaning. The Old Testament writers used it over 2,500 times, usually with singular verbs and adjectives (as in Genesis 1:1), implying that God is one, yet more than one—what some commentators have referred to as the ‘uniplurality’ of the Godhead.6 So does this ‘uniplurality’ or ‘plurality of personhood’ refer to the Trinity?

Second Person: the Word of God

The doctrine of the Trinity was not, and could not be, fully formulated or understood until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, in the New Testament (see box). After Jesus came, one of His titles was revealed in John 1:1–14 to be ‘the Word’ (Greek logos), and note that ‘the Word was God’ (John 1:1, emphasis added). If we reread Genesis chapter 1 with this in mind, we find that everything that God created on each of the six days of Creation Week was by His word. The formula God used on each day was ‘And God said …’, and it was so.

We should note that although this activity of the Son of God is not defined at this stage in Genesis, it is clearly confirmed in the New Testament, which explicitly states that God created everything through Jesus. For example, Colossians 1:16 reads: ‘For by Him [the Son of God (v. 15)] all things were created.’7 Thus, the heavens and the earth and all things in them came into being, not through self-causation or evolutionary natural processes, but by the divinely powerful, intelligent will of God, operating through the Son of God. Furthermore, the same Son is ‘upholding all things by the word of His power’ (Hebrews 1:3; cf. Colossians 1:17).

Third Person: the Spirit of God

Genesis 1:2 reads, ‘… and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters’. The Hebrew word ruach used by Moses can mean ‘spirit’, ‘wind’ or ‘breath’, with the choice being determined by the context. So did Moses mean to say that a wind was fanning the waters, or that the Spirit of God8 was participating in the creation event, particularly with regard to making the unfinished earth habitable?

Answer: The participle ‘hovering’ does not adequately describe the blowing of a wind. And if the text merely says that at the start of all the momentous events of Creation Week a wind was blowing, we might reasonably ask, ‘So what?’ We conclude that it was Moses’ intention to tell us that ‘despite the fact the earth was not then habitable, all was under the control of God’s Spirit’.9


We should be wary of using as proof texts any verses of the Bible which the author did not originally write with that purpose in mind. So it is probably better not to say that Genesis 1 explicitly teaches the Trinity.

The terms Moses used by divine inspiration in writing Genesis are completely in harmony with the Bible’s later and fuller revelation in the New Testament about all three Persons of the Trinity.

Having said this, we need to emphasize that we should expect that the wording of Genesis would not contradict later biblical teaching about the Son of God or about the Holy Spirit. In fact, we find that the terms Moses used by divine inspiration in writing Genesis are completely in harmony with the Bible’s later and fuller revelation in the New Testament about all three Persons of the Trinity (see box).

Genesis affirms, from the very first verse of the Bible, that the Creator God is truly one God. This is taught in the famous Shema (Hebrew for ‘hear’) from Deuteronomy 6:4: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.’ But even here, the word for ‘one’ is echad, which is often used for plurality within the oneness. E.g. in Genesis 2:24 (which Jesus cited in Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:8) the husband and wife (two people) shall become one (echad) flesh.10

The rest of the Bible reveals this one God to be Father, Son and Holy Spirit—three personal distinctions within the one eternal divine nature or essence. Thus, the Trinity can indeed be found in Genesis 1. And it is clear that only the God of Christianity—unique and triune—is the God of Genesis, who is not only Creator, but also Lawgiver, Saviour and Judge.

References and notes

  1. Taylor, C.V., The First Hundred Words, The Good Book Co., Gosford, NSW, Australia, p. 3, 1996.
  2. As well as of God’s covenant relationship with His people

More to follow later. Thank you Russell Grigg and Sis. Nita (Great friend of God)

As always feel free to comment and share.

In Him, Mike

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