Exegetical and Hermeneutical Commentary of Genesis 1:2

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

2. And the earth, &c.] Notice, in the present verse, (1) that “darkness” exists which God is not said to have made: (2) that “waters” exist before the formation of the seas: (3) that “the spirit of God” is mentioned, without explanation of its nature or origin, as “brooding upon the face of the waters.” The whole picture is vague and obscure, because the touches, by which it is conveyed, are left unexplained. The old monstrous and grotesque figures with which primitive Semitic, and possibly primitive Hebrew, imagination sought to fill up the void of the unimaginable past, have been left out. The gap which they filled is not wholly supplied. The description is brief and condensed. But, even making allowance for the brevity of the narrative, we are conscious of the presence of features in it, which represent the dim and cancelled outlines of an earlier mythological story. The thought of the Israelite reader is elevated to a higher religious plane in this simple and stately account.

the earth ] i.e. the materials out of which the universe is formed. We are not told what the origin of these materials was, or whether God had created them. God is not here spoken of as creating the universe out of nothing, but rather as creating it out of a watery chaos: cf. Wis 11:18 . That which is affirmed in Heb 11:3, i.e. that God did not make “that which is seen out of things which do appear,” is not asserted in this verse, though it is implied in the general representation of God’s omnipotence and His solitary personal action.

was ] The simplest description of what “existed” before the first day of Creation. To translate “became,” or “came into being,” in order to import into the verse an allusion to the nebular hypothesis for the origin of the solar system, is an expedient not to be entertained by any scholarly interpreter. It has, however, found favour in some quarters. Apologists have been known to appeal to this verse as demonstrating that the Bible contains anticipations of the latest discoveries in Natural Science, as if the Hebrew auxiliary denoted the process of gradual evolution out of nebulous gas.

The theory, however, would never have been thought of except for the well-meaning, but mistaken, purpose of defending the honour of Holy Scripture on the supposition that it must contain perfection of instruction upon all matters of scientific knowledge.

It is sufficient to remind the reader that the ancients were entirely ignorant of the Copernican theory of the solar system; and, ex hypothesi, could not have comprehended Laplace’s nebular theory.

It violates every canon of interpretation to assume that simple words, like “earth,” “darkness,” “water,” &c., were intended to convey to the Israelite reader not the meanings which the Hebrew equivalents everywhere else conveyed, but those which could only be understood after the scientific discoveries of the nineteenth century had transformed men’s conception of the universe.

Equally arbitrary is the explanation of this verse, that it is intended to summarize the period, or periods, of catastrophe which, according to some writers, preceded the present geological condition of our planet. Geology is a modern science. The view which regarded the geological history of the globe as a succession of gigantic catastrophes is now very generally abandoned. The theory, that the earth has reached its present condition through gradual changes which have taken place during an enormous span of time (the uniformitarian theory), has now received the general adherence of geologists. (Cf. Sir Arch. Geikie, Art. “Geology,” Encyc. Brit.)

On the other hand, the Hebrew conception of the Creation in this chapter is in agreement with a fundamental principle of scientific thought. It recognizes in Nature an orderly progress from the simple into the complex, from the lower into the higher. Evolution, in the modern acceptance of the word, would have been unintelligible. But the ideas of order and progress, which it endorses and illustrates, are dominant in the present description. See Special Note, pp. 45 f.

waste and void ] A.V. “without form and void.” The Heb. th va-bhh is untranslateable. The LXX, , “invisible and unformed,” fails to give the meaning. The Latin, inanis et vacua, is closer to the original. The alliteration of the Heb. words cannot be reproduced in English: “void and vacancy” would partially represent the sense and the sound.

th in Isa 45:18, where there is a reference to the Creation Narrative, seems to denote “waste” or “vacancy”; while bh = “emptiness,” “void,” occurs elsewhere only in Isa 34:11, Jer 4:23, with a reference to the present passage. Conceivably, the words may contain some similarity to primitive names, which had become obsolete, but which had been used to personify the conditions of chaos out of which the universe was formed. We may, at least, in connexion with this suggestion, compare the Phoenician = Night, the Mother of Chaos, and the Gnostic technical terms and , designating primaeval matter.

darkness ] The existence of “darkness” is here assumed. It is not said to have been created. “Light,” not “darkness,” has its origin in the creative act of God.

For another conception, cf. Isa 45:7, “I form the light, and create darkness.”

the deep ] Heb. t’hm, LXX , Lat. abyssi. This word is generally used in the O.T. for the “Ocean,” which, according to Hebrew ideas, both encircled the world, and occupied the vast hollows beneath the earth: cf. Gen 49:25. It is used like a proper name, without the article; and is very probably Babylonian in origin. In the present verse it denotes the chaotic watery waste destined on the Second Day to be confined within certain definite limits. It is conceivable that in primitive Hebrew mythology this t’hm, or “abyss,” fulfilled the same part as the somewhat similar Babylonian Tiamtu, or Tiamath, “the Goddess of the Great Deep,” with a dragon’s body, whose destruction preceded the creative deeds of the Babylonian Supreme God, Marduk, or Merodach. Marduk slew the dragon, clave its body in two parts, and made the heaven of one portion, and the earth of the other. See Appendix A.

The Hebrew notion that, before the Creation, the universe was enveloped in the waters of the great deep is possibly referred to in Psa 104:6, “Thou coveredst it [the earth] with the deep as with a vesture,” cf. Psa 33:7.

the spirit of God ] Nothing could more effectually distinguish the Hebrew Narrative of the Creation from the representations of primitive mythology than the use of this simple and lofty expression for the mysterious, unseen, and irresistible presence and operation of the Divine Being. It is the “breath” of God which alone imparts light to darkness and the principle of life to inert matter.

The student should be warned against identifying this expression with the Holy Spirit in the Christian doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. We must not look for the distinctive teaching of the Christian Revelation in the pages of the O.T.

The word for “wind,” Heb. rua, Gr. , Lat. spiritus, was accepted as the most suitable term to express the invisible agency of God. In consequence, it is sometimes difficult to decide whether the word is used literally in its meaning of “wind” or “breath,” or metaphorically in its meaning of “spirit” as the symbol of the invisible operation and influence of the Almighty. An instance of this ambiguity occurs in our Lord’s words in Joh 3:8, “The wind ( ) bloweth (marg. ‘The Spirit breatheth’) where it listeth, &c. so is every one that is born of the Spirit ( ).” Similarly, whereas the Targum of Onkelos probably rendered our clause by “wind from the Lord blew upon the face of the waters,” the Targum of Palestine renders “the Spirit of mercies from the Lord breathed upon the face of the waters.”

moved upon the face of the waters ] The rendering of the margin, was brooding upon, furnishes the picture of a bird spreading its wings over its nest; it also reproduces the meaning of the participle of the Hebrew verb, which implies continuousness in the action. For the use of the same unusual Hebrew word, cf. Deu 32:11. “As an eagle that stirreth up her nest, That fluttereth over her young, He spread abroad his wings, He took them, He bare them on his pinions.”

By the selection of this word the writer conveys the thought that the continuous, fostering care of the Almighty was given to the welter of primaeval chaos no less than to the orderly successive phenomena of the universe.

Milton employs this metaphor in two well-known passages.

Thou from the first

Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread,

Dove-like sat’st brooding on the vast Abyss,

And mad’st it pregnant

Par. Lost, i. 19.

Matter unformed and void. Darkness profound

Covered the Abyss; but on the watery calm

His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread,

And vital virtue infused, and vital warmth,

Throughout the fluid mass.

vii. 234.

It may, indeed, be questioned whether, if the word is intended to denote the action of a bird, it should not be rendered “was fluttering,” or “was hovering,” rather than “was brooding.” Motion seems to be implied: and the simile is not so much that of a bird sitting upon its nest as that of a bird hovering with outstretched wings over the young ones in the nest. The choice of the word, with its allusion to bird life, has been thought to contain an intentional reference to primitive mythologies, e.g. Phoenician, Egyptian, according to which the universe was hatched by a female deity out of the primaeval egg of Chaos.

Fuente: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

– II. The Land

hayah, be. It is to be noted, however, that the word has three meanings, two of which now scarcely belong to our English be.

1. Be, as an event, start into being, begin to be, come to pass. This may be understood of a thing beginning to be, yehiy ‘or, be light Gen 1:3; or of an event taking place, vayehy mqets yamym, and it came to pass from the end of days.

2. Be, as a change of state, become. This is applied to what had a previous existence, but undergoes some change in its properties or relations; as vatehy netsyb melach, and she became a pillar of salt Gen 19:26.

3. Be, as a state. This is the ultimate meaning to which the verb tends in all languages. In all its meanings, especially in the first and second, the Hebrew speaker presumes an onlooker, to whom the object in question appears coming into being, becoming or being, as the case may be. Hence, it means to be manifestly, so that eye-witnesses may observe the signs of existence.

tohu vabohu, a waste and a void. The two terms denote kindred ideas, and their combination marks emphasis. Besides the present passage bohu occurs in only two others Isa 34:11; Jer 4:23, and always in conjunction with tohu. If we may distinguish the two words, bohu refers to the matter, and tohu refers to the form, and therefore the phrase combining the two denotes a state of utter confusion and desolation, an absence of all that can furnish or people the land.

choshek, darkness, the absence of light.

panym, face, surface. panah, face, look, turn toward.

tehom, roaring deep, billow. hum, hum, roar, fret.

ruach, breath, wind, soul, spirit.

rachaph, be soft, tremble. Piel, brood, flutter.

veha’arets, and the earth. Here the conjunction attaches the noun, and not the verb, to the preceding statement. This is therefore a connection of objects in space, and not of events in time. The present sentence, accordingly, may not stand closely conjoined in point of time with the preceding one. To intimate sequence in time the conjunction would have been prefixed to the verb in the form vatehy, then was.

‘erets means not only earth, but country, land, a portion of the earths surface defined by natural, national, or civil boundaries; as, the land of Egypt, thy land Exo 23:9-10.

Before proceeding to translate this verse, it is to be observed that the state of an event may be described either definitely or indefinitely. It is described definitely by the three states of the Hebrew verb – the perfect, the current, and the imperfect. The latter two may be designated in common the imperfect state. A completed event is expressed by the former of the two states, or, as they are commonly called, tenses of the Hebrew verb; a current event, by the imperfect participle; an incipient event, by the second state or tense. An event is described indefinitely when there is neither verb nor participle in the sentence to determine its state. The first sentence of this verse is an example of the perfect state of an event, the second of the indefinite, and the third of the imperfect or continuous state.

After the undefined lapse of time from the first grand act of creation, the present verse describes the state of things on the land immediately antecedent to the creation of a new system of vegetable and animal life, and, in particular, of man, the intelligent inhabitant, for whom this fair scene was now to be prepared and replenished.

Here the earth is put first in the order of words, and therefore, according to the genius of the Hebrew language, set forth prominently as the subject of the sentence; whence we conclude that the subsequent narrative refers to the land – the skies from this time forward coming in only incidentally, as they bear upon its history. The disorder and desolation, we are to remember, are limited in their range to the land, and do not extend to the skies; and the scene of the creation now remaining to be described is confined to the land, and its superincumbent matter in point of space, and to its present geological condition in point of time.

We have further to bear in mind that the land among the antediluvians, and down far below the time of Moses, meant so much of the surface of our globe as was known by observation, along with an unknown and undetermined region beyond; and observation was not then so extensive as to enable people to ascertain its spherical form or even the curvature of its surface. To their eye it presented merely an irregular surface bounded by the horizon. Hence, it appears that, so far as the current significance of this leading term is concerned, the scene of the six days creation cannot be affirmed on scriptural authority alone to have extended beyond the surface known to man. Nothing can be inferred from the mere words of Scripture concerning America, Australia, the islands of the Pacific, or even the remote parts of Asia, Africa, or Europe, that were yet unexplored by the race of man. We are going beyond the warrant of the sacred narrative, on a flight of imagination, whenever we advance a single step beyond the sober limits of the usage of the day in which it was written.

Along with the sky and its conspicuous objects the land then known to the primeval man formed the sum total of the observable universe. It was as competent to him with his limited information, as it is to us with our more extensive but still limited knowledge, to express the all by a periphrasis consisting of two terms that have not even yet arrived at their full complement of meaning: and it was not the object or the effect of divine revelation to anticipate science on these points.

Passing now from the subject to the verb in this sentence, we observe it is in the perfect state, and therefore denotes that the condition of confusion and emptiness was not in progress, but had run its course and become a settled thing, at least at the time of the next recorded event. If the verb had been absent in Hebrew, the sentence would have been still complete, and the meaning as follows: And the land was waste and void. With the verb present, therefore, it must denote something more. The verb hayah be has here, we conceive, the meaning become; and the import of the sentence is this: And the land had become waste and void. This affords the presumption that the part at least of the surface of our globe which fell within the cognizance of primeval man, and first received the name of land, may not have been always a scene of desolation or a sea of turbid waters, but may have met with some catastrophe by which its order and fruitfulness had been marred or prevented.

This sentence, therefore, does not necessarily describe the state of the land when first created, but merely intimates a change that may have taken place since it was called into existence. What its previous condition was, or what interval of time elapsed, between the absolute creation and the present state of things, is not revealed. How many transformations it may have undergone, and what purpose it may have heretofore served, are questions that did not essentially concern the moral well-being of man, and are therefore to be asked of some other interpreter of nature than the written word.

This state of things is finished in reference to the event about to be narrated. Hence, the settled condition of the land, expressed by the predicates a waste and a void, is in studied contrast with the order and fullness which are about to be introduced. The present verse is therefore to be regarded as a statement of the needs that have to be supplied in order to render the land a region of beauty and life.

The second clause of the verse points out another striking characteristic of the scene. And darkness was upon the face of the deep: Here again the conjunction is connected with the noun. The time is the indefinite past, and the circumstance recorded is merely appended to that contained in the previous clause. The darkness, therefore, is connected with the disorder and solitude which then prevailed on the land. It forms a part of the physical derangement which had taken place on this part at least of the surface of our globe.

It is further to be noted that the darkness is described to be on the face of the deep. Nothing is said about any other region throughout the bounds of existing things. The presumption is, so far as this clause determines, that it is a local darkness confined to the face of the deep. And the clause itself stands between two others which refer to the land, and not to any other part of occupied space. It cannot therefore be intended to describe anything beyond this definite region.

The deep, the roaring abyss, is another feature in the pre-Adamic scene. It is not now a region of land and water, but a chaotic mass of turbid waters, floating over, it may be, and partly laden with, the ruins of a past order of things; at all events not at present possessing the order of vegetable and animal life.

The last clause introduces a new and unexpected clement into scene of desolation. The sentence is, as heretofore, coupled to preceding one by the noun or subject. This indicates still a conjunction of things, and not a series of events. The phrase ruach ‘elohym means the spirit of God, as it is elsewhere uniformly applied to spirit, and as rchep, brooded, does not describe the action of wind. The verbal form employed is the imperfect participle, and therefore denotes a work in the actual process of accomplishment. The brooding of the spirit of God is evidently the originating cause of the reorganization of things on the land, by the creative work which is successively described in the following passage.

It is here intimated that God is a spirit. For the spirit of God is equivalent to God who is a spirit. This is that essential characteristic of the Everlasting which makes creation possible. Many philosophers, ancient and modern, have felt the difficulty of proceeding from the one to the many; in other words, of evolving the actual multiplicity of things out of the absolutely one. And no wonder. For the absolutely one, the pure monad that has no internal relation, no complexity of quality or faculty, is barren, and must remain alone. It is, in fact, nothing; not merely no thing, but absolutely naught. The simplest possible existent must have being, and text to which this being belongs, and, moreover, some specific or definite character by which it is what it is. This character seldom consists of one quality; usually, if not universally, of more than one. Hence, in the Eternal One may and must be that character which is the concentration of all the causative antecedents of a universe of things. The first of these is will. Without free choice there can be no beginning of things. Hence, matter cannot be a creator. But will needs, cannot be without, wisdom to plan and power to execute what is to be willed. These are the three essential attributes of spirit. The manifold wisdom of the Eternal Spirit, combined with His equally manifold power, is adequate to the creation of a manifold system of things. Let the free behest be given, and the universe starts into being.

It would be rash and out of place to speculate on the nature of the brooding here mentioned further than it is explained by the event. We could not see any use of a mere wind blowing over the water, as it would be productive of none of the subsequent effects. At the same time, we may conceive the spirit of God to manifest its energy in some outward effect, which may bear a fair analogy to the natural figure by which it is represented. Chemical forces, as the prime agents, are not to be thought of here, as they are totally inadequate to the production of the results in question. Nothing but a creative or absolutely initiative power could give rise to a change so great and fundamental as the construction of an Adamic abode out of the luminous, aerial, aqueous, and terrene materials of the preexistent earth, and the production of the new vegetable and animal species with which it was now to be replenished.

Such is the intimation that we gather from the text, when it declares that the spirit of God was brooding upon the face of the waters. It means something more than the ordinary power put forth by the Great Being for the natural sustenance and development of the universe which he has called into existence. It indicates a new and special display of omnipotence for the present exigencies of this part of the realm of creation. Such an occasional, and, for ought we know, ordinary though supernatural interposition, is quite in harmony with the perfect freedom of the Most High in the changing conditions of a particular region, while the absolute impossibility of its occurrence would be totally at variance with this essential attribute of a spiritual nature.

In addition to this, we cannot see how a universe of moral beings can be governed on any other principle; while, on the other hand, the principle itself is perfectly compatible with the administration of the whole according to a predetermined plan, and does not involve any vacillation of purpose on the part of the Great Designer.

We observe, also, that this creative power is put forth on the face of the waters, and is therefore confined to the land mentioned in the previous part of the verse and its superincumbent atmosphere.

Thus, this primeval document proceeds, in an orderly way, to portray to us in a single verse the state of the land antecedent to its being prepared anew as a meet dwelling-place for man.

Fuente: Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Gen 1:2

And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep

Genesis of order



1. The primeval chaos.

(1) Origin of chaos. The direct issue of the Creative Will. God created the atoms of the universe, starting with them in a chaotic state.

(2) Picture of chaos. All the elements which now exist were doubtless there; but all were out of relation.

(3) Confirmation of science. If the magnificent nebular hypothesis of the astronomers–first propounded by Swedenborg, adopted by Kant, elaborated by Laplace and Herschel, and maintained with modifications by such scientists as Cuvier, Humboldt, Arago, Dana, and Guyot–be true, there has been a time when the earth, and indeed the whole universe, was in a state of nebula, or chaotic gaseous fluid. As such, the earth was indeed without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep. Being in a gaseous state, it was without form and void; being as yet in an inactive state, it was dark; being in a state of indefinite expansion, it was a deep.

2. The organizing energy.

(1) The breath of God.

(2) Moved over the face of the fluids.

And now let us attend to THE MORAL MEANING OF THE STORY.

1. And, first: all life begins chaotically. It is true of physical life. Look at this bioplast; the most powerful microscope fails to detect in it much sign of system, or structure: the most that it detects is a tiny grouping of seemingly unarranged, chaotic material; in fact, so structureless does it seem, that the microscope declines to prophesy whether it will unfold into a cedar, an elephant, or a man. Again, it is true of intellectual life. Look at this newborn infant: how nebulous and chaotic its conceptions! Your little one may grow into a Shakespeare; but at present, and intellectually surveyed–forgive me, fond mother, for saying it–your little one is scarcely more than a little animal. Do we not apply indiscriminately to infants and animals the impersonal pronoun it? Once more: it is true of moral life. That is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural: then that which is spiritual. Look at humanity as a whole, and through the ages, ancient, mediaeval, modern, How vast but abortive its endeavours! How besmeared its history with idolatries, barbarisms, wars, butcheries, oppressions, crimes, blasphemies! Verily, humanity, compared with its latent, transcendent possibilities, is indeed a chaos, without form, and void, and darkness is over its deep. And what is so sadly true of humanity as a whole, is as sadly true of each member of humanity, at least in his natural, or rather unnatural, denatured state. For each man is a microcosm, a miniature world of his own. And each man, compared with what is conceivable concerning him, is a chaos.

2. Is there any hope here? Thank God, there is. That same breath of God which moved over the face of those ancient fluids, is moving today over the soul of humanity. Ah, this is the blessed energy by which the chaos of our moral nature is being organized into order and beauty. Observe: as, in shaping the material earth out of the old chaos, the Spirit of God added no new elements, but simply fashioned into order the old; so, in organizing the spiritual chaos, He adds no new faculties, but simply quickens and organizes the old. What man needs is not creation, but re-creation; not generation, but regeneration. And this it is which the Holy Ghost is achieving. Brooding, incubating as Gods Holy Dove over the chaos of humanity, He is quickening its latent forces, arranging its elements, assorting its capacities, organizing its functions, apportioning its gifts, perfecting its potentialities: in short, completing, fulfilling consummating man in the sphere of Jesus Christ. (G. D. Boardman.)

An emblem of unrenewed man

EMPTINESS OF GOOD. Chaos was absolutely unproductive. Not a single tree, bush, or flower. Not even the seeds of any useful herbs. So is man as a spiritual being till Gods Spirit begins to work on his fallen nature. In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.

DARKNESS. A meet covering for such an unsightly spectacle. The wicked man is said to walk in darkness (1Jn 1:6); darkness blindeth his eyes (1Jn 2:11); his understanding is darkened Eph 4:18); his foolish heart is darkened (Rom 1:21); he loves darkness rather than light (1Jn 3:21); he knows not nor understands, but walks on in darkness (Psa 82:5); and if he repent not he shall be cast into outer darkness (Mat 25:30). The children of God were at one time darkness, but now are light in the Lord; they walk as children of light (Eph 5:8); they are called out of darkness into marvellous light (1Pe 2:9); they are delivered from the power of darkness (Col 1:13); they cast off the works of darkness, and walk honestly as in the day (Rom 13:12-13).

CONFUSION. The chaos was a hideous mixture of all discordant materials–earth and water; mud and rock; vegetable and mineral; mire, slime, lees, scum, clay, marl, crag, and pool. This is but a faint image of the turmoil, struggle, and strife that go on continually in the heart of a man who is under the dominion of lusts and passions that war against the soul. Was there a visible form? If so it may have been some white cloud like the Shechinah. But if cloud there were, there was no vitality in that; it was only a symbol made use of by the vitalizing Agent to intimate that He was present. This power was–

1. Silent in its operation.

2. Efficacious.

3. Instantaneous.

In one word, the chaotic state of mans soul before God can only be restored to light, warmth, order, beauty, and life by the working of the Divine Spirit, through applying the truth as it is in Christ Jesus as the means. This work is done silently and gently. Zaccheus was thus awakened Luk 19:5-8); Nathanael (Joh 1:47-49); the woman of Samaria Joh 4:9-29).

The teaching of chaos


1. This may be true of the world of matter.

2. This may be true of the world of mind. Desolate. Not peopled with great thoughts. Not animated by great and noble convictions.

3. This may be true of the world of the soul. The soul life of many lacks architecture.


1. This is true of the material world. The earth was without form and void; but now it is everywhere resplendent with all that is esteemed useful and beautiful. It manifests a fertility most welcome to the husbandman. Whence this transition? It was the gift of God. It was the result of the Spirits hovering over the darkness of Nature. The world is under a Divine ministry.

2. This is true of the world of mind. The chaos of the human mind is turned into order, light, and intellectual completion, by the agency of the Divine Spirit.

3. This is true of the world of soul. The chaos of the soul of man can only be restored by the creative ministry of the Holy Spirit. He will cause all the nobler faculties of the soul to shine out with their intended splendour. He will make the soul a fit world for the habitation of all that is heavenly. (J. S.Exell, M. A.)

Without form and void

1. A type of many souls.

2. A type of many lives.

3. A type of many books.

4. A type of many sermons.

5. A type of many societies. (J. S. Exell, M. A.)

On looking back to original condition

The best way to judge of things aright is to consider them in their first original.

1. To bring down our pride.

2. To quicken our endeavours.

3. To fill our mouths with praises to Him that made us what we are, and might have continued, without His free and infinite mercy. (J. White.)

The chaos

The text is easily divided into two parts: first, the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep: second, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

The first subject then for our consideration is THE STATE OF THE WORLD IN THE BEGINNING OF TIME. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: that is, the earth lay a hideous, barren, and desolate heap; as a waste, howling wilderness, earth and sea mingled together. How short and wretched must have been the existence of creatures, if God had doomed any to dwell in such a state!–how utterly impossible would it have been for them to fix a comfortable habitation, or to remedy one even of the existing evils! Where should we have made our pleasant homes and warm firesides? Could we have commanded the morning, and caused the day spring to know its place? Could we have driven away the darkness, or have shut up the sea with doors?

1. Here, then, we are led to reflect, first, upon the wisdom and goodness of God manifested in His gracious design in the creation. God had no design to form creatures for misery, but for happiness, as the apostle declares when speaking of the Christian dispensation: God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain mercy by Jesus Christ. So here He had determined to make man; but to make him, not a child of sorrow, but a comfortable and happy creature: He therefore first begins, with infinite goodness, to prepare him a pleasant and goodly dwelling place. But which among the angels would have supposed that He would form it from this gloomy chaos, this miserable and barren spot we have been considering? They had no such power themselves, not the mightiest of them; and it is probable they did not yet know the almighty power of God, or, at least, that they had not seen it so marvellously displayed. When, therefore, He fixed the foundation of the earth, and formed the world, He tells Job that then the morning stars sung together, and all the sons of god shouted for joy: they sung of the mighty power and glory of God: they shouted for joy at the goodness and wisdom of their everlasting Father, here displayed so gloriously. Thus, when we consider the works of the Holy Spirit, how lovely does He himself appear to us!–how worthy of our highest adoration and gratitude! But, further, the word here translated moved, literally means settled or brooded, and it is understood by some to express that act of the Holy Spirit by which He imparted life and activity. This is the peculiar office of the Holy Spirit, it is the Spirit that quickeneth, saith our Saviour: the Spirit giveth life, says St. Paul: it was the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead: it is the Spirit that shall breathe upon our dry bones, that they may live; for in like manner it was the Spirit of God that entered Adam, and man became a living soul. To this Holy Spirit of God then we are indebted, not only for our own life and preservation from day to day and from year to year, but for all those living creatures which increase and multiply to supply us with food and clothing, and many other comforts. As often, therefore, as we use them, should not our hearts be grateful to Him who is the author of them, and take heed not to abuse them? Now, we have considered the state of this world before the Word of God and the Spirit of God began their operations upon it. You have seen its disorder and confusion, its barren, empty, and useless condition, and the utter darkness in which it was buried. You have seen, then, an exact representation of the fallen state of man, and what the Word and Spirit of God, and these only, can do for him. The whole soul and body of man without these is without form, and void: his heart is a misshapen, hideous, and disordered mass of empty, unprofitable, and good-for-nothing matter; and, when the Holy Spirit of God enters it, He finds it lifeless, dark, and barren, and, like the unrestrained and troubled waters, all ruinous and in wild disorder, as in chaos. This is the state of man, and therefore he is fit for nothing else but destruction, except he is rendered fit for a habitation of God through the Spirit. There is, as in chaos, a continued strife of elements within us, a continual war and confusion among our lusts, which war in our members: we are full of uncleanness, ungodliness, intemperance, and sin: while the ungoverned waters struggle for a vent, and rage and swell, the earth is rent and torn asunder, and at last overwhelmed; and thus, while one desire, one lust, one inclination in our frame rages, and is indulged, another part of us is convulsed and disordered, and at last perhaps sudden destruction comes upon us. Here, then, we see the free mercy of God towards us, in His willingness to rescue us from this chaotic state. It is plain, then, that a change must be wrought in us if we would be saved: for think not that God will pollute His heavens with such creatures: think not that He will suffer the holiness and harmony of heaven to be interrupted by unsubdued, deformed man. This change, then, from darkness to light, from barrenness to fruitfulness, from confusion to peace, from sin to holiness and loveliness, and happiness, in short from the power of Satan unto God, this change is needed in all, and none can be saved without it; and it is the work of the Word and Spirit of God: none other can do it; none other has any part in it. I say it is the work of the Word and Spirit: not the Word alone, nor the Spirit alone; but it is the work of the two conjointly. (J. Matthews, M. A.)

The inability of chaos apart from God to evolve order

It would be unphilosophical to hold that chaos evolved from herself the order that everywhere appears. Can I believe that the pile of rubbish that marks the site of Babylon will ever produce a city so beautiful and magnificent as that which witnessed nightly the revels of the Chaldean Monarchs? Shall I see, as if by magic, street after street arise, square after square occupy its ancient position, temple after temple point its glittering canopy to heaven; shall I see the city enclosed by walls, filled with a busy, trading, pleasure-seeking population, and be told that all this order, and magnificence, and life, has come of the pile of ruins? (G. Wight.)

The chaos of the earth illustrated by the chaotic condition of the moon

Of such a condition of the earth, a definite idea may be formed by an examination of the moons surface–a very chaos of explosive action. Thousands of small pits are there, and, as certainly, immense chasms, whose flattened interiors rival a congeries of English counties, while stupendous ridges and peaks encompass them, standing out like the Apennines and Pyrenees, and sometimes transcending the loftiest eminences of the Alps. He who has traversed the Great Schiedegg and the Wengun Alp, beneath the shadow of the almost vertical steeps of the Wetterhorn and the Eiger, has been awe-struck by summits so towering, and descents so profound; and yet feeble is their image of the heights and depths of the moons Himalayas. What evidences are these of volcanic agency, while other elevations, due possibly to the same mighty power, astound him who steadily contemplates them, by their rectilinear extent.
Yet, amidst these cindery plains, no river makes a path, no stream meanders; down those precipices neither silver thread of water winds its way, nor is there the gushing, the tumbling, and foaming of some huge cascade; and hence the great desert of Africa resembles the naked and arid wastes, where no life springs forth to relieve, much less to cheer, this immense scene of unmitigated desolation. As, then, the moon is, so was this earth of ours, when Moses described not its contents, of which he knew nothing, but its surface, as without form and void. (C. Williams.)

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters:

The work of the Holy Spirit

It is a significant, suggestive fact, that the work of the Holy Spirit is historically coeval with the work of creation. The Divine Being who inspired the Bible appears upon its first page, a mystic centre of light and beauty in the midst of an universe of darkness. And St. Paul tells us that God the Holy Spirit, who first illumined the dark world of matter, still illuminates the dark world of mind. All is midnight in the heart, mind, and soul of a sinner, until He, the Light of Life, saith, Let there be light.

The work of the Spirit in the NATURAL man. The force of Pauls allusion to the creation in Genesis implies that mans original earth, in its perennial darkness, waste, and submersion, is a type of mans heart, as nature moulds it, and sin corrupts it. The earth was without form and void; and the heart is without grace, or capacity of spiritual discernment, till the Spirit of God moves in His creative, enlightening energy, upon both the one and the other. This is equally true of every man, for who maketh thee to differ? and what hast thou, O man, that thou didst not receive? It is our part to preach Christ, but it is the Spirits office to convince of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The Spirit Himself is the foundation of all spirituality. It is the Spirit that quickeneth, and the Spirit giveth life: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, because He spake in the Spirit, lived in the Spirit, and commanded His disciples to wait for the Spirit, before they commenced their ministry, that they might be endued with power from on high. That is the only power still to convert souls. The most powerful ministry is simply that which is the most spiritual, which most prays in the Spirit, preaches in the Spirit, lives in the Spirit, and most constantly insists upon congregations seeking the Spirit, and resting on His gifts and graces as their only source and secret of edification.

The work of the Spirit in the REGENERATE man. The path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day, for He who gives the first convicting and converting impulse, giveth more grace. As the original motion of the Spirit of life and light was followed by the creation of the sun, the moon, and the stars, each in their appointed orbits, fulfilling their Creators munificent purposes of love and goodness; so the work of the quickening Spirit in individual regeneration is succeeded by ampler revelations of Christ as the Sun of Righteousness, the centre of His redeeming system; of the Church, as His satellite, fair as the moon, borrowing all her light and influence upon many waters from the Lord, whose fainter image she is, a light shining in dark places: and of Christs ministers and sacraments, as stars in His right hand, by whose lesser lights He deigns to carry on His gracious offices of mercy to a world lying in darkness, and in the power of the wicked. But it is the Spirit which gives the weight and efficacy to all these means of grace, and channels of edification, by which the child of God is built up in his most holy faith, and rendered more and more conformed to the image of Gods dear Son. At every step there is the scriptural impress of the Spirit, from first to last. (J. B. Owen, M. A.)

The Spirit of God considered as the chief agent in the work of the new creation

In fulfilment of this process of new creation, the Spirit of God descends upon the benighted surface of the human soul.

1. In order to dissipate the darkness in which it is naturally involved. The mind of man, as disordered, corrupted, and clouded by sin, may well be compared to that confused and rayless obscurity which rested over the face of the abyss. It is enveloped in a thick, impenetrable mantle of ignorance, prejudice, and unconcern. And it is only when the Spirit of God begins to move upon the stagnant waters of his cold and damp indifference, that light breaks in upon his mind.

2. Another function equally necessary and important, which the Spirit of God performs in the new creation of the soul, is that of purification. The mind of each one of us, by nature, is full of all impurity and pollution. In this condition we are utterly unfit for the service of God here, and the presence of God hereafter–unfit for communion with God by prayer and devout meditation–unfit for the suitable and acceptable discharge of any one of the duties of Gods worship–unfit for life–unfit for death. Under these circumstances it becomes a question of supreme and paramount importance, whether a renovating process has been commenced upon us–whether, under the influence of the salutary motions of the Spirit of God, we have made it our endeavour to cleanse ourselves from all impurity of flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of God–whether the various streams of thought, feeling, and conduct, are gradually purifying from their drossy and turbid aspect, and whether our whole character from day to day becomes more thoroughly assimilated to the Divine image, and assumes more of the complexion and the hue of heaven.

3. In connection with the effects already specified, the human soul requires to be reduced to order, and to be harmonized in its various principles and habits. By the fatal shock which it received in Eden, the whole system has been disorganized. In relation to the character and attributes of Jehovah–to His revealed will and the whole range of His service–to the objects and pursuits connected with a spiritual and eternal world, it is altogether out of joint. By the original apostasy from God, in fact, the whole nature of man went to wreck. The various elements of his being forsook their proper combination and position in the system, and entered into new and most destructive relations. The wild and tumultuous anarchy of his affections is like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. The scene of chaos, in which heaven and earth, fire and water, were commingled together into one vast ocean of jarring elements, was not more replete with confusion than is the mind, when let loose unto itself, and freed from the soothing restraints, and the controlling and regulating impulses, of that Spirit which moved upon the face of the waters. It is this Spirit alone, who can rectify the deep disorders of our nature. It is He alone who can separate, direct, soothe, and harmonize the warring elements of our carnal and unsubdued mind, and reduce every faculty and affection into the cheerful and meek obedience of the faith. It is He alone who can restrain the aberrations of the judgment–who can check the wanderings of the imagination–who can curb the impetuosity of the passions, and attemper the whole soul and spirit into one harmonious and well-balanced scheme of Christian character and conduct. Other means may be used, indeed, and ought to be used. The Bible should be read–the ordinances of religion should be attended–the duties of prayer, and devout meditation and reflection, should be solemnly and uninterruptedly discharged; but other means, without the accompanying and moving energies of the Spirit, will be found ineffectual.

4. Nor is the Spirit merely the author of light, purity, and order, in the formation of the new creature, but life itself: that which is essential to the exercise and enjoyment of all other endowments in His special gift. While He moved upon the face of the waters, the command went forth, and they were at once seen to teem with animated existence. Impregnated with His vital energies, the great deep became instinct with life and motion. The various forms of vegetable and organized existence–the tenants of the ]and, and those that wing their flight through the regions of air, were seen to burst forth from its capacious bosom, until every quarter of the universe became peopled with its appropriate inhabitants. The great Spirit, who was thus the primary agent in kindling material nature into life, is also the author of that higher life which pervades the new creation. (J. Davies, B. D.)

The creation

THE SPIRIT OF GOD BROUGHT ORDER AND DEVELOPMENT TO THE MATERIAL WORLD. How did that shapeless mass become such a world as this? What account of the transition does science give? It says, Change succeeded to change, in strict accordance with physical law, very slowly but surely, with no sudden transitions, till, step by step, the one condition passed into the other. Those regular changes were all that appeared; and they are all which appear now, though the same changes are still going on. We cannot see the intelligence, the mind, which directs the works of nature; but it is equally true that we cannot see them in the works of man. Yet the mind of man is at work, though invisible, animating his body; and it is truer to speak of his mind as planning the house he builds, and the steam engine he sets to work, than to say that the materials came together into their right places, though that is all that we see. And so it is truer to say that the Invisible Mind, the unseen Spirit of God, moved upon the formless earth, and brought it to its present ordered form, than to say it happened so. Science mentions only what appeared; but Genesis tells the deeper truth, that the informing mind accomplished all–Genesis, which was written centuries before science was born. There is special fitness in the words employed, The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. It indicates the quiet untiring ways in which God works in the heavens and the earth.

THE SPIRIT OF GOD MUST BRING ORDER AND DEVELOPMENT TO THE SPIRITUAL WORLD. The moral and spiritual nature of man forms quite another world from the material universe, and yet how closely the two are linked in the human body and soul! Look at the moral and spiritual nature of men. How high they can rise! so high that there is fitness in speaking of Gods image in them as a real kinship of nature with God. What noble examples there have been among men, of righteousness, faithfulness, and love–the very attributes of God–yet we feel man has not realized the greatness and goodness that he may. But how low men can sink! to what extremes of wrong, and treachery, and selfishness, and cruelty! We cannot picture it all; to do so would be to have present to the mind what human society has been and is–the crimes, the woes, the degradation, and shame, of generations of human lives and hearts. To picture human society as it is–I mean especially its evils–would be more, not only than imagery could realize, but more than any feeling heart could bear. The material chaos is but a faint image of this deeper spiritual chaos; but taking it as such, we may ask, Does God leave the world in this chaos of degradation and woe? Turn to another Bible picture: I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes (emblems of purity), and palms in their hands (emblems of victory). (T. M. Herbert, M. A.)

Fuente: Biblical Illustrator Edited by Joseph S. Exell

Verse 2. The earth was without form and void] The original term tohu and bohu, which we translate without form and void, are of uncertain etymology; but in this place, and wherever else they are used, they convey the idea of confusion and disorder. From these terms it is probable that the ancient Syrians and Egyptians borrowed their gods, Theuth and Bau, and the Greeks their Chaos. God seems at first to have created the elementary principles of all things; and this formed the grand mass of matter, which in this state must be without arrangement, or any distinction of parts: a vast collection of indescribably confused materials, of nameless entities strangely mixed; and wonderfully well expressed by an ancient heathen poet: –

Ante mare et terras, et, quod tegit omnia, caelum,

Unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe,

Quem dixere Chaos; rudis indigestaque moles,

Nec quicquam nisi pondus iners; congestaque eodem

Non bene junctarum discordia semina rerum.


Before the seas and this terrestrial ball,

And heaven’s high canopy that covers all,

One was the face of nature, if a face;

Rather, a rude and indigested mass;

A lifeless lump, unfashion’d and unframed,

Of jarring seeds, and justly Chaos named.


The most ancient of the Greeks have spoken nearly in the same way of this crude, indigested state of the primitive chaotic mass.

When this congeries of elementary principles was brought together, God was pleased to spend six days in assimilating, assorting, and arranging the materials, out of which he built up, not only the earth, but the whole of the solar system.

The spirit of God] This has been variously and strangely understood. Some think a violent wind is meant, because , ruach often signifies wind, as well as spirit, as , does in Greek; and the term God is connected with it merely, as they think, to express the superlative degree. Others understand by it an elementary fire. Others, the sun, penetrating and drying up the earth with his rays. Others, the angels, who were supposed to have been employed as agents in creation. Others, a certain occult principle, termed the anima mundi or soul of the world. Others, a magnetic attraction, by which all things were caused to gravitate to a common centre. But it is sufficiently evident from the use of the word in other places, that the Holy Spirit of God is intended; which our blessed Lord represents under the notion of wind, Joh 3:8; and which, as a mighty rushing wind on the day of pentecost, filled the house where the disciples were sitting, Ac 2:2, which was immediately followed by their speaking with other tongues, because they were filled with the Holy Ghost, Ac 2:4. These scriptures sufficiently ascertain the sense in which the word is used by Moses.

Moved] merachepheth, was brooding over; for the word expresses that tremulous motion made by the hen while either hatching her eggs or fostering her young. It here probably signifies the communicating a vital or prolific principle to the waters. As the idea of incubation, or hatching an egg, is implied in the original word, hence probably the notion, which prevailed among the ancients, that the world was generated from an egg.

Fuente: Adam Clarke’s Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

The same confused mass or heap is here called both

earth, from its most solid and substantial part; and the

deep, from its vast bulk and depth; and waters, from its outward face and covering. See Psa 104:6; 2Pe 3:5.

Without form and void; without order and beauty, and without furniture and use.

Upon the face, the surface or uppermost part of it, upon which the light afterward shone. Thus not the earth only, but also the heaven above it, was without light, as is manifest from the following verses.

The Spirit of God; not the wind, which was not yet created, as is manifest, because the air, the matter or subject of it, was not yet produced; but the Third Person of the glorious Trinity, called the Holy Ghost, to whom the work of creation is attributed, Job 26:13, as it is ascribed to the Second Person, the Son, Joh 1:3; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:3, and to the First Person, the Father, every where.

Upon the face of the waters, i.e. upon the waters, to cherish, quicken, and dispose them to the production of the things after mentioned. It is a metaphor from birds hovering and fluttering over, and sitting upon their eggs and young ones, to cherish, warm, and quicken them.

Fuente: English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

2. the earth was without form andvoidor in “confusion and emptiness,” as the wordsare rendered in Isa 34:11.This globe, at some undescribed period, having been convulsed andbroken up, was a dark and watery waste for ages perhaps, till out ofthis chaotic state, the present fabric of the world was made toarise.

the Spirit of Godmovedliterally, continued brooding over it, as a fowl does,when hatching eggs. The immediate agency of the Spirit, by working onthe dead and discordant elements, combined, arranged, and ripenedthem into a state adapted for being the scene of a new creation. Theaccount of this new creation properly begins at the end of thissecond verse; and the details of the process are described in thenatural way an onlooker would have done, who beheld the changes thatsuccessively took place.


Fuente: Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

And the earth was without form, and void,…. It was not in the form it now is, otherwise it must have a form, as all matter has; it was a fluid matter, the watery parts were not separated from the earthy ones; it was not put into the form of a terraqueous globe it is now, the sea apart, and the earth by itself, but were mixed and blended together; it was, as both the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase it, a waste and desert, empty and destitute of both men and beasts; and it may be added, of fishes and fowls, and also of trees, herbs, and plants. It was, as Ovid k calls it, a chaos and an indigested mass of matter; and Hesiod l makes a chaos first to exist, and then the wide extended earth, and so Orpheus m, and others; and this is agreeably to the notion of various nations. The Chinese make a chaos to be the beginning of all things, out of which the immaterial being (God) made all things that consist of matter, which they distinguish into parts they call Yin and Yang, the one signifying hidden or imperfect, the other open or perfect n: and so the Egyptians, according to Diodorus Siculus o, whose opinion he is supposed to give, thought the system of the universe had but one form; the heaven and earth, and the nature of them, being mixed and blended together, until by degrees they separated and obtained the form they now have: and the Phoenicians, as Sanchoniatho p relates, supposed the principle of the universe to be a dark and windy air, or the blast of a dark air, and a turbid chaos surrounded with darkness, as follows;

and darkness was upon the face of the deep: the whole fluid mass of earth and water mixed together. This abyss is explained by waters in the next clause, which seem to be uppermost; and this was all a dark turbid chaos, as before expressed, without any light or motion, till an agitation was made by the Spirit, as is next observed:

and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, which covered the earth, Ps 104:6 the earthy particles being heaviest sunk lower, and the waters being lighter rose up above the others: hence Thales q the philosopher makes water to be the beginning of all things, as do the Indian Brahmans r: and Aristotle s himself owns that this was the most ancient opinion concerning the origin of the universe, and observes, that it was not only the opinion of Thales, but of those that were the most remote from the then present generation in which he lived, and of those that first wrote on divine things; and it is frequent in Hesiod and Homer to make Oceanus, or the ocean, with Tethys, to be the parents of generation: and so the Scriptures represent the original earth as standing out of the water, and consisting of it, 2Pe 3:5 and upon the surface of these waters, before they were drained off the earth, “the Spirit of God moved”; which is to be understood not of a wind, as Onkelos, Aben Ezra, and many Jewish writers, as well as Christians, interpret it; since the air, which the wind is a motion of, was not made until the second day. The Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem call it the spirit of mercies; and by it is meant the Spirit of the Messiah, as many Jewish writers t call him; that is, the third Person in the blessed Trinity, who was concerned in the creation of all things, as in the garnishing of the heavens, so in bringing the confused matter of the earth and water into form and order; see Job 26:13. This same Spirit “moved” or brooded u upon the face of the waters, to impregnate them, as an hen upon eggs to hatch them, so he to separate the parts which were mixed together, and give them a quickening virtue to produce living creatures in them. This sense and idea of the word are finely expressed by our poet w. Some traces of this appear in the

or mind of Anaxagoras, which when all things were mixed together came and set them in order x; and the “mens” of Thales he calls God, which formed all things out of water y; and the “spiritus intus alit”, c. of Virgil and with this agrees what Hermes says, that there was an infinite darkness in the abyss or deep, and water, and a small intelligent spirit, endued with a divine power, were in the chaos z: and perhaps from hence is the mundane egg, or egg of Orpheus a: or the firstborn or first laid egg, out of which all things were formed; and which he borrowed from the Egyptians and Phoenicians, and they perhaps from the Jews, and which was reckoned by them a resemblance of the world. The Egyptians had a deity they called Cneph, out of whose mouth went forth an egg, which they interpreted of the world b: and the Zophasemin of the Phoenicians, which were heavenly birds, were, according to Sanchoniatho c, of the form of an egg; and in the rites of Bacchus they worshipped an egg, as being an image of the world, as Macrobius d says; and therefore he thought the question, whether an hen or an egg was oldest, was of some moment, and deserved consideration: and the Chinese say e, that the first man was produced out of the chaos as from an egg, the shell of which formed the heavens, the white the air, and the yolk the earth; and to this incubation of the spirit, or wind, as some would have it, is owing the windy egg of Aristophanes f.

(Thomas Chamlers (1780-1847) in 1814 was the first to purpose that there is a gap between verse 1 and 2. Into this gap he places a pre-Adamic age, about which the scriptures say nothing. Some great catastrophe took place, which left the earth “without form and void” or ruined, in which state it remained for as many years as the geologist required. g This speculation has been popularised by the 1917 Scofield Reference Bible. However, the numerous rock layers that are the supposed proof for these ages, were mainly laid down by Noah’s flood. In Ex 20:11 we read of a literal six day creation. No gaps, not even for one minute, otherwise these would not be six normal days. Also, in Ro 5:12 we read that death is the result of Adam’s sin. Because the rock layers display death on a grand scale, they could not have existed before the fall of Adam. There is no direct evidence that the earth is much older than six thousand years. However, we have the direct eyewitness report of God himself that he made everything in six days. Tracing back through the biblical genealogies we can determine the age of the universe to be about six thousand years with an error of not more than two per cent. See Topic 8756. Editor.)

k “Quem dixere chaos, rudis indigestaque moles”, Ovid Metamorph. l. 1. Fab. 1. l &c. Hesiodi Theogonia. m Orphei Argonautica, ver. 12. n Martin. Sinic. Hist. l. 1. p. 5. o Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 7. p Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 2. c. 10. p. 33. q Laert. in Vita Thaletis, p. 18. Cicero do Natura Deorum, l. 1. r Strabo. Geograph. l. 15. p. 491. s Metaphysic. l. 1. c. 3. t Zohar in Gen. fol. 107. 3. and fol. 128. 3. Bereshit Rabba, fol. 2. 4. and 6. 3. Vajikra Rabba, sect. 14. fol. 156. 4. Baal Hatturim in loc. Caphtor Uperah, fol. 113. 2. u “incubabat”, Junius, Tremellius, Piscator, “as a dove on her young”, T. Bab. Chagigah, fol. 15. 1. w —-and, with mighty wings outspread, Dovelike satst brooding on the vast abyss, And mad’st it pregnant.—- Milton’s Paradise Lost, B. 1. l. 20, 21, 22. The same sentiment is in B. 7. l. 234, 235. x Laert. in Vita Anaxagor. p. 91. Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 10. c. 14. p. 504. y Cicero de Nat. Deorum, l. 1. Lactant, de falsa Relig. l. 1. c. 5. z Apud Drusium in loc. a Hymn. , ver. 1, 2. b Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 3. c. 11. p. 115. c Apud Ib. l. 2. c. 10. p. 33. d Saturnal. l. 7. c. 16. e Martin. Sinic. Hist. l. 1. p. 3, 4. f In Avibus. g Ian Taylor, p. 363, 364, “In the Minds of Men”, 1984, TEF Publishing, P.O. Box 5015, Stn. F, Toronto, Canada.

Fuente: John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

The First Day. – Though treating of the creation of the heaven and the earth, the writer, both here and in what follows, describes with minuteness the original condition and progressive formation of the earth alone, and says nothing more respecting the heaven than is actually requisite in order to show its connection with the earth. He is writing for inhabitants of the earth, and for religious ends; not to gratify curiosity, but to strengthen faith in God, the Creator of the universe. What is said in Gen 1:2 of the chaotic condition of the earth, is equally applicable to the heaven, “for the heaven proceeds from the same chaos as the earth.”

And the earth was (not became) waste and void.” The alliterative nouns tohu vabohu , the etymology of which is lost, signify waste and empty (barren), but not laying waste and desolating. Whenever they are used together in other places (Isa 34:11; Jer 4:23), they are taken from this passage; but tohu alone is frequently employed as synonymous with , non-existence, and , nothingness (Isa 40:17, Isa 40:23; Isa 49:4). The coming earth was at first waste and desolate, a formless, lifeless mass, rudis indigestaque moles , (Wis. 11:17) or .

And darkness was upon the face of the deep.” , from , to roar, to rage, denotes the raging waters, the roaring waves (Psa 42:7) or flood (Exo 15:5; Deu 8:7); and hence the depths of the sea (Job 28:14; Job 38:16), and even the abyss of the earth (Psa 71:20). As an old traditional word, it is construed like a proper name without an article ( Ewald, Gramm.). The chaotic mass in which the earth and the firmament were still undistinguished, unformed, and as it were unborn, was a heaving deep, an abyss of waters ( , lxx), and this deep was wrapped in darkness. But it was in process of formation, for the Spirit of God moved upon the waters, (breath) denotes wind and spirit, like from . Ruach Elohim is not a breath of wind caused by God ( Theodoret, etc.), for the verb does not suit this meaning, but the creative Spirit of God, the principle of all life (Psa 33:6; Psa 104:30), which worked upon the formless, lifeless mass, separating, quickening, and preparing the living forms, which were called into being by the creative words that followed. in the Piel is applied to the hovering and brooding of a bird over its young, to warm them, and develop their vital powers (Deu 32:11). In such a way as this the Spirit of God moved upon the deep, which had received at its creation the germs of all life, to fill them with vital energy by His breath of life. The three statements in our verse are parallel; the substantive and participial construction of the second and third clauses rests upon the of the first. All three describe the condition of the earth immediately after the creation of the universe. This suffices to prove that the theosophic speculation of those who “make a gap between the first two verses, and fill it with a wild horde of evil spirits and their demoniacal works, is an arbitrary interpolation” ( Ziegler).

Gen 1:3

The word of God then went forth to the primary material of the world, now filled with creative powers of vitality, to call into being, out of the germs of organization and life which it contained, and in the order pre-ordained by His wisdom, those creatures of the world, which proclaim, as they live and move, the glory of their Creator (Psa 8:1-9). The work of creation commences with the words, “ and God said.” The words which God speaks are existing things. “He speaks, and it is done; He commands, and it stands fast.” These words are deeds of the essential Word, the , by which “all things were made.” Speaking is the revelation of thought; the creation, the realization of the thoughts of God, a freely accomplished act of the absolute Spirit, and not an emanation of creatures from the divine essence. The first thing created by the divine Word was “ light,” the elementary light, or light-material, in distinction from the “ lights,” or light-bearers, bodies of light, as the sun, moon, and stars, created on the fourth day, are called. It is now a generally accepted truth of natural science, that the light does not spring from the sun and stars, but that the sun itself is a dark body, and the light proceeds from an atmosphere which surrounds it. Light was the first thing called forth, and separated from the dark chaos by the creative mandate, “ Let there be,” – the first radiation of the life breathed into it by the Spirit of God, inasmuch as it is the fundamental condition of all organic life in the world, and without light and the warmth which flows from it no plant or animal could thrive.

Gen 1:4

The expression in Gen 1:4, “ God saw the light that it was good,” for “God saw that the light was good,” according to a frequently recurring antiptosis (cf. Gen 6:2; Gen 12:14; Gen 13:10), is not an anthropomorphism at variance with enlightened thoughts of God; for man’s seeing has its type in God’s, and God’s seeing is not a mere expression of the delight of the eye or of pleasure in His work, but is of the deepest significance to every created thing, being the seal of the perfection which God has impressed upon it, and by which its continuance before God and through God is determined. The creation of light, however, was no annihilation of darkness, no transformation of the dark material of the world into pure light, but a separation of the light from the primary matter, a separation which established and determined that interchange of light and darkness, which produces the distinction between day and night.

Gen 1:5

Hence it is said in Gen 1:5, “ God called the light Day, and the darkness Night;” for, as Augustine observes, “all light is not day, nor all darkness night; but light and darkness alternating in a regular order constitute day and night.” None but superficial thinkers can take offence at the idea of created things receiving names from God. The name of a thing is the expression of its nature. If the name be given by man, it fixes in a word the impression which it makes upon the human mind; but when given by God, it expresses the reality, what the thing is in God’s creation, and the place assigned it there by the side of other things.

Thus evening was and morning was one day.” (one), like and unus , is used at the commencement of a numerical series for the ordinal primus (cf. Gen 2:11; Gen 4:19; Gen 8:5, Gen 8:15). Like the numbers of the days which follow, it is without the article, to show that the different days arose from the constant recurrence of evening and morning. It is not till the sixth and last day that the article is employed (Gen 1:31), to indicate the termination of the work of creation upon that day. It is to be observed, that the days of creation are bounded by the coming of evening and morning. The first day did not consist of the primeval darkness and the origination of light, but was formed after the creation of the light by the first interchange of evening and morning. The first evening was not the gloom, which possibly preceded the full burst of light as it came forth from the primary darkness, and intervened between the darkness and full, broad daylight. It was not till after the light had been created, and the separation of the light from the darkness had taken place, that evening came, and after the evening the morning; and this coming of evening (lit., the obscure) and morning (the breaking) formed one, or the first day. It follows from this, that the days of creation are not reckoned from evening to evening, but from morning to morning. The first day does not fully terminate till the light returns after the darkness of night; it is not till the break of the new morning that the first interchange of light and darkness is completed, and a has passed. The rendering, “out of evening and morning there came one day,” is at variance with grammar, as well as with the actual fact. With grammar, because such a thought would require ‘echaad ; and with fact, because the time from evening to morning does not constitute a day, but the close of a day. The first day commenced at the moment when God caused the light to break forth from the darkness; but this light did not become a day, until the evening had come, and the darkness which set in with the evening had given place the next morning to the break of day. Again, neither the words , nor the expression , evening-morning (= day), in Dan 8:14, corresponds to the Greek , for morning is not equivalent to day, nor evening to night. The reckoning of days from evening to evening in the Mosaic law (Lev 23:32), and by many ancient tribes (the pre-Mohammedan Arabs, the Athenians, Gauls, and Germans), arose not from the days of creation, but from the custom of regulating seasons by the changes of the moon. But if the days of creation are regulated by the recurring interchange of light and darkness, they must be regarded not as periods of time of incalculable duration, of years or thousands of years, but as simple earthly days. It is true the morning and evening of the first three days were not produced by the rising and setting of the sun, since the sun was not yet created; but the constantly recurring interchange of light and darkness, which produced day and night upon the earth, cannot for a moment be understood as denoting that the light called forth from the darkness of chaos returned to that darkness again, and thus periodically burst forth and disappeared. The only way in which we can represent it to ourselves, is by supposing that the light called forth by the creative mandate, “Let there be,” was separated from the dark mass of the earth, and concentrated outside or above the globe, so that the interchange of light and darkness took place as soon as the dark chaotic mass began to rotate, and to assume in the process of creation the form of a spherical body. The time occupied in the first rotations of the earth upon its axis cannot, indeed, be measured by our hour-glass; but even if they were slower at first, and did not attain their present velocity till the completion of our solar system, this would make no essential difference between the first three days and the last three, which were regulated by the rising and setting of the sun.

(Note: Exegesis must insist upon this, and not allow itself to alter the plain sense of the words of the Bible, from irrelevant and untimely regard to the so-called certain inductions of natural science. Irrelevant we call such considerations, as make interpretation dependent upon natural science, because the creation lies outside the limits of empirical and speculative research, and, as an act of the omnipotent God, belongs rather to the sphere of miracles and mysteries, which can only be received by faith (Heb 11:3); and untimely, because natural science has supplied no certain conclusions as to the origin of the earth, and geology especially, even at the present time, is in a chaotic state of fermentation, the issue of which it is impossible to foresee.)

Fuente: Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

2. And the earth was without form and void. I shall not be very solicitous about the exposition of these two epithets, תוהו, ( tohu,) and בוהו, ( bohu.) The Hebrews use them when they designate anything empty and confused, or vain, and nothing worth. Undoubtedly Moses placed them both in opposition to all those created objects which pertain to the form, the ornament and the perfection of the world. Were we now to take away, I say, from the earth all that God added after the time here alluded to, then we should have this rude and unpolished, or rather shapeless chaos. (44) Therefore I regard what he immediately subjoins that “darkness was upon the face of the abyss,” (45) as a part of that confused emptiness: because the light began to give some external appearance to the world. For the same reason he calls it the abyss and waters, since in that mass of matter nothing was solid or stable, nothing distinct.

And the Spirit of God Interpreters have wrested this passage in various ways. The opinion of some that it means the wind, is too frigid to require refutation. They who understand by it the Eternal Spirit of God, do rightly; yet all do not attain the meaning of Moses in the connection of his discourse; hence arise the various interpretations of the participle מרחפת, ( merachepeth.) I will, in the first place, state what (in my judgment) Moses intended. We have already heard that before God had perfected the world it was an undigested mass; he now teaches that the power of the Spirit was necessary in order to sustain it. For this doubt might occur to the mind, how such a disorderly heap could stand; seeing that we now behold the world preserved by government, or order. (46) He therefore asserts that this mass, however confused it might be, was rendered stable, for the time, by the secret efficacy of the Spirit. Now there are two significations of the Hebrew word which suit the present place; either that the spirit moved and agitated itself over the waters, for the sake of putting forth vigor; or that He brooded over them to cherish them. (47) Inasmuch as it makes little difference in the result, whichever of these explanations is preferred, let the reader’s judgment be left free. But if that chaos required the secret inspiration of God to prevent its speedy dissolution; how could this order, so fair and distinct, subsist by itself, unless it derived strength elsewhere? Therefore, that Scripture must be fulfilled,

Send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and thou shalt renew the face of the earth,’ (Psa 104:30😉

so, on the other hand, as soon as the Lord takes away his Spirit, all things return to their dust and vanish away, (Psa 104:29.)

(44) The words תהו ובהו are rendered in Calvin’s text informis et inanis, “shapeless and empty.” They are, however, substantives, and are translated in Isa 34:11, “confusion” and “emptiness.” The two words standing in connection, were used by the Hebrews to describe anything that was most dreary, waste, and desolate. The Septuagint has κὰι ἀκατασκευάστος, invisible and unfurnished. — Ed

(45) It is to be remarked, that Calvin does not in his comment always adhere to his own translation. For instance, his version here is, “ in superficiem voraginis;” but in his Commentary he has it, “ super faciem abyssi,” from the Latin Vulgate. — Ed.

(46) “ Temperamento servari.” Perhaps we should say, “preserved by the laws of nature.” — Ed.

(47) The participle of the verb רהף is here used instead of the regular tense. “The Spirit was moving,” instead of “the Spirit moved.” The word occurs in Deu 32:11, where the eagle is represented as fluttering over her young. Vatablus, whom Calvin here probably follows, says, the Holy Spirit cherished the earth “by his secret virtue, that it might remain stable for the time.” — See Poole’s Synopsis. The word, however, is supposed further to imply a vivifying power; as that of birds brooding over and hatching their young. Gesenius says that Moses here speaks, “ Von der shaffenden und belebenden Kraft Gottes die uber der chaotischen wasserbedeckten Erde schwebt gleichsam bruetet ” — “of the creative and quickening power of God, which hovered over the chaotic and water — covered earth, as if brooding.” The same view is given by P. Martyr on Genesis; others, however, are opposed to this interpretation. Vide Johannes Clericus in loco. — Ed

Fuente: Calvin’s Complete Commentary

Day One: Energy-Matter, Motion, Light (Gen. 1:2-5)

And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

1. The writer singles out the earth for special emphasis. This is consistent, of course, in that it points up the fact immediately that the entire Cosmogony is to be written from the viewpoint of an inhabitant of earth. However, as Lange points out (CDHCG, 163), the description given here of the genesis of the earth may well serve, by way of analogy, for the generation of the universe.
2. The earth was waste and void. (1) This description takes us back to the first stages in the Creative Process subsequent to the first putting forth of energy from the being of God; the Spirit, literally, was brooding; that is, the process was actually going on when the account opens; as yet the primal energy (was it psychical or physical?) had not transmuted itself into gross matter (which present-day physicists describe as frozen or congealed energy). There was only formlessness and voidness: literally, the earth was formless and empty. Again quoting Lange (CDHCG, 163): It is through the conception of voidness, nothingness, that Thohu and Bohu are connected . . . The desert is waste, that is, a confused mass without order; the waste is desert, that is, void, without distinction of object. The first word denotes rather the lack of form, the second the lack of content, in the earliest condition of the earth. It might therefore be translated form-less, matter-less.

(2) There are some who hold that the phrase thohu vabohu supports the notion of a previous overthrow, a cosmic upheaval. For corroboration they refer us especially to Isa. 34:11, where the same terms are rendered, respectively, confusion and emptiness (cf. also Jer. 4:23), Whitelaw (PCG, 41) rejects this view: the phrase, he contends, does not suggest the ruin of a previous cosmos, because Elohim never intended anything to be thus formless and empty, hence utterly functionless (that is, not good for anything); rather, He created the earth to be inhabited, and to be inhabited by man as the crown of Creation. Obviously, the Genesis Cosmogony gives us the clear picture of an organized cosmos, the ultimate end for which the Divine activity was first set in operation. Our God is purposeful: He sees (plans) the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:9-11).

(3) I suggest that form (in formless) here does not connote shape or configuration essentially, but, rather, the ancient concept of form as the principle of specification, that is, of the identity of particulars in any given class. For example, one who looks at a mustard seed and a poppy seed can hardly distinguish between them. But one thing is sure: one cannot plant a poppy seed and get a mustard plant, for the obvious reason that all poppies have the form of poppy-ness, whereas all mustard plants have the form of mustard-ness. Or, just as a mind or soul informs the human body, so man is specified (set apart as a species) by his thought processes. Hence, we have in this verse of Genesis a picture of the earth when it had not yet assumed the form of a planet, but was still only a part of a huge, shapeless, objectless, motionless, and tenantless mass of world stuff (the hydrogen fog of Hoyle? or Gamows ylem? or Whipples dust cloud?), perhaps little more than a potential field of elemental forces, out of which the earth and all other planets and suns, and perhaps all other universes, were eventually to emerge as a result of the brooding of the Ruach Elohim. It was that state in which all electronic, gaseous, liquid, and solid elements were commingled (present only potentially), but as yet lacking any trace of differentiation. Moreover, this primal world-stuff was shrouded in the thick folds of Cimmerian gloom, giving not the slightest promise of that fair world of light, orders, and life into which it was about to be transformed.

3. And darkness was upon the face of the deep. (1) Is this a reflection of the Babylonian cosmology in which the earth was thought of as resting upon a subterranean ocean? Such a view is based, of course, on the presupposition that the Babylonian traditions of the Creation and the Deluge were the originals from which the Biblical accounts were deriveda view which ignores altogether the possibility of Divine revelation as the source of the Genesis Cosmogony (or the account of Noahs Flood). In opposition to this derivation-theory, it will be noted that the preceding affirmation (in Gen. 1:2) that the earth was formless and empty, indicates clearly that as yet the earth as such did not even exist, that in fact the whole heavens and earth were as yet unformed, at this stage of the Creative activity. It is granted, of course, that the deep is a term used frequently in the Hebrew Scriptures to designate the sea (cf. Psa. 42:7, Job. 38:30, Isa. 44:27). But again there is no evidence that a sea or ocean existed at this point in the Creation. The writer is not picturing here the ultimate state of the cosmos; rather, he is describing its state prior even to the beginning of its arrangement into a cosmos, prior to the genesis of physical force, motion, and ultimately gross matter, through the continuous activity of the Spirit of God. In view of these considerations, I suggest that the deep, in this particular connection, could well refer to the deep of limitless Space. (This could be the import of the term as used in Gen. 8:2 also.) Under this view, then, we have here a picture of limitless Space filled with, and shrouded in, thick darkness, with the world-stuff beginning to emerge at Gods command, through the Spirits activity of stirring, energizing, that is, actualizing forms of energy which had not before that moment operated, and which were capable of transmutation into the kinds of matter known to us today. (It is impossible for the human mind to conceive of the transition from Eternity to Time (which necessarily involved the beginnings of what we call the physical aspects of the Plan of the Ages) as having occurred in any other way. Basically, to be sure, this transition must always remain a mystery to human intelligence because it embodies the ineffable, and must, in the final analysis, be largely a matter of faith.) In its first state, of course, the very first world-stuff was motionless and objectless (that is, wholly undifferentiated); as a matter of fact, had there been anything at this point desirable to be seen, there was no light by which to see it, for thick darkness was upon the face of the deep. This interpretation is supported by the language of the very next sentence, And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, the term waters suggesting an even more advanced stage in the Creative Process, probably the stage at which matter had begun to assume, incipiently at least, a gaseous (atmospheric waters), or perhaps even the beginning of a fluidic, state.

(2) It is significant, I think, that the tradition of such a primordial Chaos, the chief characteristics of which were formlessness, emptiness, and darkness, was widespread among ancient peoples. The Greek word, Chaos, for instance, meant primarily, empty, immeasurable space, and only secondarily, the rude, unformed mass of something out of which the universe was created. Thus Hesiod, the Greek poet of the 8th century B.C., wrote as follows: Verily at the first Chaos came to be, but next wide-bosomed Earth, the ever-sure foundation of all the deathless ones who hold the peaks of snowy Olympus, and dim Tartarus in the depth of the wide-pathed Earth, and Eros (Love), fairest among the deathless gods, who unnerves the limbs and overcomes the mind and wise counsels of all gods and all men within them. From Chaos came forth Erebus and black Night; but of Night were born Aether and Day, whom she conceived and bare from union in love with Erebus. And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods (Theogony, HHH, LCL). Of course, these are all personifications, but their import is obvious. Chaos (Space), says Hesiod, was first of all; of him was born Erebus (Darkness) and black Night; and by the union of Darkness and black Night came Aether (the upper air) and Day. And Plato, some four centuries after Hesiod, writing in an imaginative vein, in his well-known likely story (mythos) of the Timaeus, described the Creation of the cosmos, by the Demioergos (Master Craftsman), out of the Receptacle of Becoming (Space) according to the patterns supplied by the Eternal Forms or Ideas that go to make up the World of Being. Plato seems to imply that these Eternal Forms (principles of specificity, e.g., the cow-ness of a cow, horse-ness of a horse, etc.) exist in the Divine Reason, although I have never been able to find any passages in which he affirmed this explicitly. The Receptacle, he describes as having no qualities of its own; it is not, according to the Platonic picture, that out of which things of our World of Becoming are made, but that in which the qualities that make up this physical or corporeal world (in the form of the Opposites which are said to be continuously passing, the one into the other and back again, cyclically) appear as in a mirror (See F. M. Cornford, PC). Lange, on Gen. 1:2 (CDHCG, 163): Chaos denotes the void space (as in a similar manner the old Northern Ginnumgagap, gaping of yawnings, the gaping abyss, which also implies present existing material), and in the next place the rude unorganized mass of the world-material. (Incidentally, one principle that must always be kept in mind in the study of the Old Testament is that mythological (and traditional) distortions of ancient beliefs and practices all point necessarily to a genuine original.) Certainly it is worth noting well, in this connection, that one of the concepts which has gained widespread credence among physicists of our own time is that Space may have been the very first stuff of which the physical universe had its beginning. For example, Mr. Walter Russell, one-time President of the Society of Arts and Sciences, was quoted in the metropolitan press several years ago, as follows: The question arises, Is there any line of demarcation between a spiritual and a physical universe? And have we been calling the invisible universe spiritual just because we could not see it? We have begun to see something tangible and inspiring beyond place, mass and dimension. There must be a limitless source of static energy somewhere back of all this dynamic expression. With reference to the ultimate particles or forces of which matter is composed, continued Mr. Russell, which seem to constitute light, and which carry energy, scientists find them all acting suspiciously like some of the processes of human thought. He added: Tomorrow physics will undoubtedly divorce energy from matter and give it to space . . . What we call the spiritual universe may prove to be the static source in space of electric energy. If Einsteins prophecy is fulfilled it would cause a far greater upheaval in science than Copernicus caused in the concept of Ptolemy. Basic conclusions of today would be either reversed or discarded entirely, for if energy belongs to space as the new cosmogony suggests, light would belong to space, as Jesus inferred. When energy is found to belong to space, light will be understood to be an emergence from space, and God will be found to be what Jesus said He wasLight. As we study Jesus teaching from the point of view of science, we become convinced that He understood light, energy, motion, and space, and knew what filled space. Jesus taught that life is eternal, that there is no death. Science may prove this to be literally true, and that the body, like all other material phenomena, merely registers the intensity of the thinking of a Supreme Intelligence. If science proves this, it will give meaning to the words of Sir James Jeans that matter may eventually be proved to be pure thought. (Recall Pascals vivid line: The eternal silence of infinite space is terrifying. Cf. Psa. 139:7-10.) We might well ask: Can any real line of demarcation be drawn between psychical (mental, spiritual) light (illumination) and physical light (illumination)? (See again the comments by Fred Hoyle on continuous creation, as quoted on preceding pages.) (Of course, we must always avoid dogmatizing in our attempts to correctly apprehend the sublime truths that are incorporated in the Genesis Cosmogony.)

(3) The Bible teaches throughout that our physical cosmos is an embodiment of Divine Thought as expressed by the Divine Word (Logos), and as actualized by the Divine Spirit. The Will of God is the constitution of the totality of being, both visible and invisible (Psa. 148:1-6; Psa. 33:6; Psa. 33:9; Heb. 11:3). These are fundamental truths to which the physical science of our time is gradually groping its way back, despite its tendency to cling tenaciously to pantheistic assumptions,

(4) As in the physical realm, so it is in the spiritual. M. Henry (CWB, 2): This chaos represents the state of an unregenerate graceless soul: there is disorder, confusion, and every evil work; it is empty of all good, for it is without God; it is dark till almighty grace effects a blessed change. (This change is wrought, of course, through our hearing, accepting, and obeying the Gospel of Christ.)

4. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (1) Literally, the Spirit of God (Ruach Elohim) was brooding. Not a wind of God, for the obvious reason that the air did not exist at this particular stage in the development of the cosmos. Skinner (ICCG, 1718): Not, as has sometimes been supposed, a wind sent from God to dry up the waters, but the divine Spirit, figured as a bird brooding over its nest, and perhaps symbolizing an immanent principle of life and order in the as yet undeveloped chaos. In accordance with Biblical usage generally, writes Whitelaw (PCG, 4), this term, Spirit of God, must be regarded as a designation, not simply of the divine power, which, like the wind and the breath cannot be perceived, (Gesenius), but of the Holy Spirit, who is uniformly represented as the source or formative cause of all life and order in the world, whether physical, intellectual, or spiritual . . . As it were, the mention of the Ruach Elohim is the first out-blossoming of the latent fulness of the Divine personality, the initial movement in that sublime revelation of the nature of the Godhead, which, advancing slowly, and at the best but indistinctly, throughout Old Testament times, culminated in the clear and ample disclosures of the gospel. (Cf. Job. 26:13; Job. 27:3; Job. 33:4; Job. 32:8; Psa. 33:6; Psa. 104:29-30; Act. 17:25).

(2) The Spirit of God was brooding. The Hebrew word used here has a double meaning. In the first place, it conveys the idea of a stirring, a fluttering, as of an eagle stirring up her nest and teaching her young to fly. (The word has this import also in the Song of Moses, Deu. 32:11.) Thus the entrance of the Spirit into the primordial Chaosformless, objectless, immeasurable Spacewas signalized by a stirring therein, an energizing, a setting in motion. In the second place, the word merachepheth (from rachaph, to be tremulous, as with love) signifies a brooding, an incubation. The complete picture is that of a mother-bird brooding over her nest, hatching her eggs, and nurturing her young. In Miltons stately elegiac verse, the Spirit

. . . from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread,
Dove-like, satst brooding on the vast abyss,
And madst it pregnant . . .

Rotherham (EB, 3, n.): The beautiful word brooding, an exact rendering of the Hebrew, is most suggestive, since it vividly describes the cherishing of incipient life, as a preparation for its outburst. The participial form of such a word clearly denotes a process, more or less lengthened, rather than an instantaneous act. John Owen, (HSGP, 56): The word moved (merachepheth) signifies a gentle motion, like that of a dove over its nest, to communicate vital heat to its eggs, or to cherish its young. Without him, all was a dead sea, a rude unformed chaos, a confused heap covered with darkness; but by the moving of the Spirit of God upon it, he communicated a quickening prolific virtue . . . This is a better account of the origin of all things than is given us by any of the philosophers, ancient or modern. Moreover, does not this verb suggest clearly that the Creation was an act or outpouring of Divine Love as well as of Divine Powerof Divine Love seeking perhaps the fellowship of kindred holy spirits, that is, the spirits of the redeemed of mankind? And may we not reasonably conclude that this activity of the cherishing Spirit was the origin of the myth of Eros, and of the mythological world-egg, whether regarded as Persian or Greek?

The breath of man, writes Lange (CDHCG, 164), the wind of the earth, and the spirit, especially the spirit of God, are symbolical analogies. The breath is the life-unity, the life-motion of the physical creature, the wind is the unity and life-motion of the earth, the spirit is the unity and life-motion of the life proper to which it belongs; the spirit of God is the unity and life-motion of the creative divine activity. It is not a wind of God to which the language here primarily relates . . . From this place onward, and throughout the whole Scripture, the spirit of God is the single formative principle evermore presenting itself with personal attributes in all the divine creative constitutions, whether of the earth, of nature, of the theocracy, of the Tabernacle, of the church, of the new life, or of the new man. The Grecian analogue is that of Eros (or Love) in its reciprocal action with the Chaos, and to this purpose have the later Targums explained it: the spirit of love. M. Dods (EBG): This, then, is the first lesson of the Bible: that at the root and origin of all this vast material universe, before whose laws we are crushed as the moth, there abides a living, conscious Spirit, who wills and knows and fashions all things. (Cf. Joh. 4:24; Psa. 104:29-30; Job. 26:13; Job. 27:3; Job. 33:4; Act. 17:25; Gen. 2:7, Psa. 33:6the breath of his mouth; Exo. 31:1-11; Exo. 35:30-35; Num. 11:16-17; Deu. 34:9; 2Sa. 23:12; 1Ch. 28:11-12; Joh. 14:26; Joh. 16:7-14; Joh. 20:22-23; Act. 1:1-5; Act. 2:1-4; Eph. 2:19-22; Joh. 3:1-7; Rom. 5:5; Act. 2:38; 2Co. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Rom. 8:11.) Robinson (CEHS, p. 5): The Bible is the Book of the Spirit. On its first page there is painted the impressive picture of chaos, when darkness was upon the face of the deep; but the Spirit of God was brooding, like a mother-bird, upon the face of the waters. From the last page there rings out the evangelical challenge of the Church to the world, The Spirit and the bride say, Come. Between them there is the story of a divine evolution, which is from Gods side, revelation, and from mans side, discovery.

(3) As the first brooding of the Spirit over the primordial deep was the beginning of the actualization of the physical creation, so the overshadowing of the Virgin by the same Holy Spirit, effecting the conception, hence the incarnation, of Gods Only Begotten Son, was the beginning of the actualization of the spiritual creation, the Regeneration (1Co. 15:45-49). The divine creation of the physical nature of Marys Son, the incarnate Logos, constituted His body the perfect offering as the Atonement (Covering) for the sin of the world (Joh. 1:29), and also constituted it a body over which death had no power. Thus it will be seen that the Incarnation by the Virgin Birth, the Atonement, and the Resurrection are all necessary to the framework of Christianity; not one of these doctrines can be rejected without vitiating the entire Christian System. It would be well for the unitarians and the cultists to keep this in mind. (I am reminded here of the man who said he had flirted with Unitarianism for a long time, but simply could not bring himself to address his prayers, To whom it may concern.) (Luk. 1:35; Joh. 1:14; Luk. 24:45-49; Act. 2:30-33; Act. 4:10-12; Rom. 8:11; Heb. 4:14-15; Heb. 7:26-28; Heb. 9:23-28; 1Pe. 2:21-25; 1Pe. 3:21-22; Rev. 1:17-18).

(4) Note here also the correlations of various Scriptures which identify the Spirit of God of the Old Testament with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord, of the New Testament. Correlate Luk. 4:18-19, Isa. 61:1-2, Act. 10:38; Mat. 22:43, Psa. 110:1; Act. 4:25, Psa. 2:1-2; Act. 1:16, Psa. 69:25; Psa. 109:8; Heb. 3:7-11, Psa. 95:7-11; all these with 1Sa. 16:13, 2Sa. 23:2; Act. 2:17-21; Act. 2:4; Act. 2:32-33; Act. 28:25-28, Isa. 6:9-10; Isa. 61:1-3, Luk. 4:18-19; Joh. 3:34, Mat. 12:28; Luk. 11:20; Exo. 8:19; Exo. 31:18; Exo. 32:16; Exo. 34:1; Exo. 34:27-28; Deu. 9:10, Psa. 8:3 (the finger of God in Scripture is a metaphor of Gods Spirit-power): 2Pe. 1:21, 1Pe. 1:1-11. Note where identifications occur in the same passage: Act. 16:6-7; Act. 5:3; Act. 5:9; 2Co. 3:17-18; Rom. 8:9. The Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit (Neh. 9:20, Mat. 28:19, Act. 2:38, Joh. 1:33), the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Lordall these are terms designating the one and the same Spirit (1Co. 12:11, Heb. 9:14). (Cf. also Isa. 63:10-11; Isa. 11:2; Isa. 42:1; Isa. 48:16; Isa. 61:1; Mat. 3:16, Joh. 1:32, etc.)

(5) The transmutation of psychical energy into physical energy and action occurs all the time in man: it occurs when any human being makes up his mind to walk, run, climb, jump, sit down, lie down, or to use his mind or body in any way. There is no more mysterious power in our human experience than this power of thought and will to direct the activity of mind (as in cases of voluntary recollection) and that of the body (a notable example being that of the pitcher who throws the baseball if and when and where he makes up his mind to throw it.) Yet this is so commonplace in our lives that we never give any thought to the unfathomable mystery involved. May we not reasonably conclude, then, that in the possession of such powers man but reflects the spark of the Infinite which was breathed into him originally by the Spirit of God (Gen. 2:7; Gen. 1:26-27)? And if psychical energy in man is capable of self-transmutation into physical energy, who can gainsay the fact that psychical energy in God (who is Spirit, Joh. 4:24) is capable of an absolute creation of physical energy? We hold, therefore, that primal energy is Pure Thought, the activity of pure Spirit. (We recall that Aristotle defined God as Pure-Thought-Thinking-Itself.) This primal energy is the source of every other form of energy in the cosmos. Spirit-power, Willpower, Thought-power, Word-power (which is Thought-power willed and expressed) in God are one and the same in activities and in effects. Our cosmos is the product of Universal Intelligence and Will, the construct of Pure Thought. This is precisely what the Bible teachesthat God the absolute Spirit, by the instrumentality of His Word and the agency of His Spirit, is the eternal (unoriginated) First Cause of all things that exist. Moreover, the Creation itself was essentially that act of Pure Thought which embraces the entire Space-Time Process (Continuum) in a single Idea; hence, with God it is always the eternal NOW (Exo. 3:14). As Augustine writes, referring to the Creator (Conf., 262, 260): Thy years are one day; and Thy day is not daily, but To-day, seeing Thy To-day gives not place unto to-morrow, for neither doth it replace yesterday. Thy To-day is Eternity; therefore didst Thou beget the Co-eternal, to whom thou hast said, This day have I begotten Thee (Psa. 2:7. This divine begetting referred to in the Psalm was in the Eternal Purpose of God: it became concretely actualized in the Incarnate Logos.) Again: In the Eternal nothing passeth, but the whole is present.

(6) The beginning of the brooding of the Spirit over the thick darkness of the deep marked the first transmutation from the psychical to the physical. The introduction of physical energy was the creation of motion: the natural transitions followed, from motion to heat, to light, etc. It is important to note, however, the distinction between energy, which is primary, and the propagation and application of energy in terms of force, which is secondary. It is obvious, moreover, that the application of energy in terms of force presupposes a directing Will. Without the guiding Intelligence and Will to direct the expenditure of energy along definite and well-prescribed lines, and for specific and respective ends depending on the kinds of energy put forth, the result would surely be disorder and catastrophe, It seems evident that all natural law, which is but descriptive of the operations of natural forces (in terms of specific formulas), is of necessity predicated upon the guiding Intelligence and Will which is superior to that which it directs and governs: speaking by way of analogy, law, of whatever kind, presupposes a lawgiver. Science, in its use of the word law which it borrowed from jurisprudence, wittingly or unwittingly, pays tribute to the cosmic Lawgiver. The guiding Intelligence and Will which directs the expenditure of energy in terms of force presupposes, in turn, the Divine Personality. It is unreasonable to presuppose an impersonal energy, or source of energy, as the First Cause. This definition of force as applied and directed energy is fundamental to any proper understanding of the cosmic processes. Moreover, wherever there is divine Will, there is divine Personality; and wherever there is divine Intelligence and Will, there is the Eternal Spirit. In a word, apart from the Eternal Spirit there is no rational explanation either of energy or of force; however, with the acceptance of the activity of the Eternal Spirit, no other explanation is needed, either of energy or of force, or of the Creation and Preservation of the Cosmos. Where the Eternal Spirit is, there is law, light, life, love, order, peace. (Cf. again Joh. 4:24, Heb. 9:14.) Where the Spirit is not, there is license, darkness, death, hate, disorder, strife: in short, evil in every diabolical form. Or, as someone else has put it: It is indeed significant that the two characteristics of the primordial Chaos which occur in all the ancient traditions are those of emptiness and darkness. That is to say, where God is not, there is always emptiness, darkness, non-being. Where God is, there is, by way of vivid contrast, life, light, being. And the ontological difference between non-being and being consists in the activity of the Divine Spirit. We shall now follow the account, as given in the remaining verses of the Genesis Cosmogony, of the progressive development, step by step (day by day), of the primal undifferentiated world-energy, under the continuous brooding of the Spirit of God, into the organized cosmos that is the object of mans scientific quest throughout the ages.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

1. Literally, And God said, Light, Be! and light was. According to: Scripture, God as Father plans, God as the Word (Logos) executes (decrees), and God as the Spirit actualizes that which is decreed (Psa. 148:6; Isa. 45:22-23; Isa. 46:9-11; Eph. 3:9-12). In the first verse of Genesis, Elohim, the Absolute, the Father of spirits (Heb. 12:9), is introduced to us as the originating First Cause; in Gen. 1:2 the Spirit of God is introduced to us as the actualizing First Cause; in Gen. 1:3, the Word of God is introduced to us as the executive First Cause, of the initial phase of the Creative Process. From this point on, throughout the entire Cosmogony, the formula, And God said, introduces the account of each successive advance in the physical (natural) Creation. That is to say, whatever God willed and decreed at the beginning of each day, was done (actualized) on that day, in that particular stage of the total Process. Just how it was done seems to have been a matter of little or no concern to the inspired writer, or, therefore, to the Spirit who inspired him to write; the purpose was to emphasize only the religious fact of the Creation, namely, that it was God who did the creating, through the executive agency of the Logos and the realizing agency of the Spirit. The problem of the how of the Process was left for human science to spell out slowly and laboriously throughout the centuries. Hence, under the energizing activity of the Spirit, the Word, we are told, the Logos, interposed His executive authority, ten times in succession, in the form of Divine ordinances or decrees, to give intelligent direction and order to the Process as a whole. We must not forget that our Godthe living and true Goddeclares the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). The end result was the organized cosmos, the cosmic order which makes human science possible. As a matter of fact, it is this order which makes human life possible; man simply could not live in an unpredictable world.

2. From this verse onward we must not forget that we are thinking in terms of the writers point of view, that is, in terms of earth, and of the solar system of which the earth is a planet, in short, of the viewpoint of a person on earth. Of course, the development described here, apparently, of what occurred in the formation and development of our solar system, may be regarded as paralleling what was occurring in other celestial systems (galaxies, or island universes).
3. How long a time elapsed between the first stirring of the Spirit of God in the primeval deep, and the issuance of the first Divine decree, Let there be light, we do not know and obviously cannot know. Both the Bible and science indicate, however, that the stretch of time was very, very long: the various heating and cooling processes hypothesized by science, and the activity of brooding attributed in Scripture to the Divine Spirit, all imply an indefinitely long period.
4. The Logos. (1) In the Old Testament, we meet God, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God: in the full light of the New Testament revelation, these become Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mat. 28:19, 2Co. 13:14, 1Pe. 1:2). Why was not this triune personality of the God of the Bible clearly revealed to Gods ancient people, the children of Israel? We cannot say definitely. It is obvious, of course, that God did not fully reveal Himself in Old Testament times. Perhaps if He had disclosed His triune personality to the Hebrew people, they would have drifted into tritheism, that is, into the worship of three Gods instead of the one living and true God. Hence, under the Old Covenant, it is the uniqueness of God which was given special emphasis, in the oft-repeated creed, Deu. 6:4, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, that is, the only Jehovah (Yahweh). (Deu. 4:35; Deu. 4:39; Isa. 45:18; Isa. 46:9; Act. 17:23-29.) It seems that the revelation of the tri-unity of God was withheld from the Israelites of old, lest they drift into polytheism and idolatry, the besetting sins of the ancient pagan world. However, although the doctrine is not fully disclosed in the Old Testament writings, there are many clear intimations of it, as we shall see later.

(2) We are especially concerned here with the significance of the name Logos as it occurs and its meaning is fully revealed in the Bible as a whole: Let us not forget the principle of interpretation which is followed throughout this textbook, namely, that any Bible doctrine must be studied and interpreted in the light of the teaching of the Bible as a whole, in order that its full meaning may be brought to light. Hence, with reference to the Logos, we find that Scripture unequivocally, from beginning to end, identifies the One whom we know historically as Jesus of Nazareth, and whom we confess as the Christ, the Son of the living God, as the true Biblical Logos. In proof of this statement, note the following catenae of Scripture passages: (a) Those which affirm generally His pre-existence, His co-eternity with the Father, and His pre-existence, moreover, as a personal Being (Php. 2:5-7; Heb. 2:14; Joh. 1:18, Joh. 10:17-18; Joh. 17:5; Joh. 17:24; Col. 1:17; Joh. 8:58; Rev. 1:17-18; Rev. 21:6; Isa. 9:6; Mic. 5:2; Joh. 6:38; Joh. 6:62; Joh. 7:33-34; Gal. 4:4); (b) those which present Him as the executive Agent of the Creation and Preservation of the world (Col. 1:16-17; 1Co. 8:6; Joh. 1:1-3; Heb. 1:3; Heb. 1:10); (c) those which declare either explicitly or implicitly, His deity (Joh. 8:58, here He assumes :for Himself the great and incommunicable Divine Name, Exo. 3:14), Joh. 1:18; Rev. 1:17-18; Rev. 21:6; Joh. 1:1-3 (and the Logos was God), Joh. 20:28 (here Jesus accepts forms of address due to Deity alone); Mat. 1:23 (God with us); Joh. 10:30, Rom. 9:5, Col. 2:19, 1Ti. 3:16, Heb. 1:3, 1Jn. 1:2); (d) those Old Testament passages which intimate pre-incarnate appearances of the eternal Logos. These include the passages referring to the activity of the Angel of Yahweh (Gen. 3:2-4; Gen. 16:7; Gen. 16:9; Gen. 16:13; Gen. 18:1-2; Gen. 18:13; Gen. 18:17; Gen. 18:20; Gen. 18:23; Gen. 22:11-19; Gen. 31:11-13; Gen. 32:30; Exo. 3:2-4; Exo. 14:19 (here the Angels presence is indicated by the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, symbols, respectively, of the Spirit and the Word, who go together, Isa. 59:21); Exo. 13:21-22 (cf. 1Co. 10:1-4, Heb. 11:26-27), Jdg. 13:20-22, Jos. 5:13-15, Dan. 3:25; Dan. 3:28, Mic. 5:2); those passages in which Wisdom is represented as existing eternally with God, though distinct from Him (Job. 28:20-23, Pro. 8:1-6; Pro. 7:21 (cf. 1Co. 1:22-24; 1Co. 1:30); Jer. 10:10-12); those passages in which the Word, as distinguished, from God, is presented as the executor of Gods will from eternity (Psa. 33:6; Psa. 33:9; Psa. 148:5-6; Psa. 119:89; Psa. 147:15-18; Psa. 107:20; Heb. 11:3, 2Pe. 3:5).

As Epiphanius, one of the Church Fathers, wrote, in substance: the Divine unity was first proclaimed by Moses (Deu. 6:4); the Divine duality, that is, the distinction between the Father and the Son, Messiah, by the prophets (Isa. 9:6; Isa. 11:1-2; Mic. 5:2); but the Divine tripersonality was first clearly shown forth in the teaching of Christ and the Apostles (Mat. 28:19, 2Co. 13:14, 1Pe. 1:2).

The term Logos was in rather common use at the time of our Lords ministry in the flesh. Hence, John wrote his Prologue (Gen. 1:1-18) to set forth the true doctrine of the Logos, in Latin Verbum, in English, Word. The Logos, he declared, is not the Platonic World Soul, not the Gnostic inferior intermediary between God and the world, not just the Philonian Divine Thought (Word) or its manifestation in the world (Wisdom), not the Stoic World Fire, but the Person who became flesh and dwelt among us as Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God. (1Ti. 2:5, Mat. 16:16). Lebreton (HDT, I, 187): The Messianic belief is as foreign as belief in the Incarnation to the Philohian theory of the Logos, and is equally characteristic of Christianity. As the Messiah, prepared for by the whole past of Israel, awaited and predicted by the prophets, came upon earth to inaugurate the Kingdom of God and redeem the elect, and due, later on, to return to judge the whole world, Jesus fills the whole of history. The Philonian Logos is foreign to history; he may be the object of the speculation of philosophers, he has no contact with the life of men. Again (ibid, 414): Human speculation flattered itself in vain that it could sound the depths of the life of God, its proud efforts resulted in nothing but barren and deceptive dreams; it is in the humility of the Incarnation that the mystery of God has been revealed: for the Jews a scandal, a folly to the Greeks, the strength and wisdom of God for the elect.

A. Campbell has written on the doctrine of the Logos (Joh. 1:1-3), in the Christian Baptist, May 7, 1927, as follows: The names Jesus, Christ, or Messiah, Only Begotten Son; Son of God, etc., belong to the Founder of the Christian religion, and to none else. They express not a relation existing before the Christian era, but relations which commenced at that time . . . To understand the relation betwixt the Savior and His Father, which existed before time, and that relation which began in time, is impossible on either of these [i.e., the Arian or Calvinistic] theories. There was no Jesus, no Messiah, no Christ, no Son of God, no Only Begotten, before the reign of Augustus. The relation that was before the Christian era was not that of a son and father, terms which always imply disparity; but it was that expressed by John in the sentence under consideration. The relation was that of God and the Word of God. This phraseology unfolds a relation quite different from that of a father and a sona relation perfectly intimate, equal and glorious. This naturally leads me to the first sentence of John. And here I must state a few postulata. 1. No relation amongst human beings can perfectly exhibit the relation which the Savior held to the God and Father of all, anterior to His birth. The reason is: that relation is not homogenial, or of the same kind with relations originating from creation, All relations we know anything of, are created, such as that of father and son. (Note: where there is father and son, the father must of necessity antedate the son.) Now I object as much to a created relation as I do to a creature in reference to the original relation of God and the Word of God. This relation is an uncreated and unoriginated relation. 2. When in the fulness of time, it became necessary in the wisdom of God to exhibit a Savior, it became expedient to give some view of the original and eternal dignity of this wonderful visitant of the human race. And as this view must be given in human language, inadequate as it was, the whole vocabulary of human speech must be examined for suitable terms, 3. Of the terms expressive of relations, the most suitable must be, and most unquestionably was, selected. And as the relation was spiritual and not carnal, such terms only were eligible which had respect to mental and spiritual relations. Of this sort there is but one in all the archives of human knowledge, and that is the one selected. 4. The Holy Spirit selected the name, WORD, and therefore we may safely assert that this is the best, if not the only term, in the whole vocabulary of human speech at all adapted to express that relation which existed in the beginning, or before time, between our Savior and His God. What are the implications of this name? At this point I paraphrase Mr. Campbells answer to this question thus: (1) A word is commonly defined as the sign or symbol of an idea. It is the idea expressed in written or spoken form, (When I speak of a chair, for instance, there immediately flashes into your mind an image of the thing of which I have the same image in my own mind; and the image represents an idea. The word is therefore the sign or symbol of the idea.) (2) the human intellect thinks, i.e., it formulates and relates ideas by means of words, and the result is language. Men cannot express their ideas without words of some sort. (3) It follows that the word, and the idea which it represents, must have their origin at the same time, and are therefore of like antiquityor, as we say, co-etaneous. And though the word may not be the same in different languages, the same idea is expressed. (4) The idea and the word are distinct, of course; that is, they are two. (5) Yet the relationship between the two is the most intimate of which we have any knowledge, and is a relationship of the mind or spirit. An idea cannot exist without a word, nor a word without an idea. (6) To be acquainted with the word is to be acquainted with the idea, for the idea is in the word, and the word stands for the idea.

We continue Mr. Campbells exegesis verbatim from this point, as follows: Now let it be most attentively observed and remembered that these remarks are solely intended to exhibit the relation which exists between a word and an idea, and that this relation is of a mental nature, and more akin to the spiritual system than any relation created, of which we know anything. It is a relation of the most sublime order; and no doubt the reason why the name, Word, is adopted by the Apostle in this sentence, was because of its superior ability to represent to us the divine relation existing between God and the Savior prior to His becoming the Son of God. By putting together the above remarks on the term Word, we have a full view of what John intended to communicate: (1) As a word is an exact image of an idea, so is The Word an exact image of the invisible God. (2) As a word cannot exist without an idea, nor an idea without a word, so God was never without The Word, nor The Word without God. Or, as a word is of equal age, or co-etaneous with its idea, so The Word and God are co-eternal. (3) And as an idea did not create its word, nor a word its idea, so God did not create The Word, nor The Word God. Such a view does the language used by John suggest. And to this do all the Scriptures agree. For The Word was made flesh, and in consequence of becoming incarnate, He is styled the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father. As from eternity God was manifest in and by The Word, so now God is manifest in the flesh. As God was always with The Word, so when The Word becomes flesh, He is Immanuel, God with us. As God was never manifest but by The Word, so the heavens and the earth and all things were created by The Word. And as The Word ever was the effulgence or representation of the invisible God, so He will ever be known and adored as The Word of God. So much for the divine and eternal relation between the Savior and God. You will easily perceive that I carry these views no farther than to explain the nature of that relationship uncreated and unoriginated, which the inspired language inculcates.

Mr. Campbell concludes as follows: These views place us on a lofty eminence whence we look down upon the Calvinistic ideas of eternal filiation, eternal generation, eternal Son, as midway between us and Arianism. From this sublime and lofty eminence we see the Socinian movement upon a hillock, the Arian upon a hill, and the Calvinist upon a mountain; all of which lose their disproportion to each other because of the immense height above them to which this view elevates us. The first sentence of John, I paraphrase thus: From eternity was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was, I say, from eternity with God. By Him all things were made, and He became flesh and dwelt among us. He is become a child born and a son of man. As such He is called Immanuel, Jesus, Messiah, Son of God, Only Begotten of the Father.
Again, in the Millenial Harbinger, 1846, pp. 634636, Mr. Campbell wrote the following on the same subject, the Person of Christ, the Savior: Our attention is first called to his person. Right conceptions of his person are, indeed, essential to right conceptions of His office. Our guide to both are the oracles of God. What, then, say the Holy Scriptures? They represent the person called Jesus the Messiah as having been born of a Virgin in the reign of Herod the Great, and in the thirtieth year of Caesar Augustus. But while they thus represent his nativity as having been at that particular time, they also intimate that his birth was only an incarnation of one who previously existed, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. . . . Jesus is the name of an incarnation, but it is not the name of that which became incarnate. It was not Jesus, but the Word that was made flesh. The person called THE WORD became flesh and dwelt among us. . . . Evident, then, it is that Jesus of Nazareth had in some other nature a pre-existence. His human existence commenced at a fixed date, and in a certain place; but in some other nature, and in some other place, he pre-existed. What that nature was, and where that abode, must be learned from that Spirit which searches all thingseven the deep things of God. Finally, We have, then, GOD, the WORD of God, and the SPIRIT of God; and these three are not three Gods, but one Goddenominated in the remedial system as the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT, relations of a truly mysterious and sublime character. We can, indeed, apprehend, though we may not comprehend them. They are intelligible, though not comprehensible. (I consider Mr. Campbells explanation of the doctrine of the Logos the clearest I have been able to find anywhere. Hence I have taken sufficient space here to reproduce it in its entirety.)

Logos has a twofold meaning in the Greek: (1) reason or intelligence, as it exists inwardly in the mind, and (2) reason or intelligence as it is expressed outwardly in speech; hence, an account, a tale, a study, a revelation. Both of these meanings are implicit in the use of this word as the eternal name of our Savior. Jesus is inwardly the Word of God in the sense that He exists from everlasting to everlasting in the bosom of the Father (Joh. 1:18), and, as nothing is as close to a person as his own thought, so there is no one as close to the Father as His Only Begotten Son. Jesus is the Logos outwardly in that He reveals to us the good and acceptable and perfect will of God both in life and in teaching (Rom. 12:1-2; Joh. 14:9-12; Joh. 16:13-15). He was with God before the world was called into being, before even time began; He is with God now, seated at Gods right hand, the Acting Sovereign of the universe and the Absolute Monarch of the Kingdom of Heaven (Mat. 28:18; Act. 2:36; 1Co. 15:20-28; Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:13-20; Php. 2:5-11; Heb. 1:1-4; 1Pe. 3:20-22; Rev. 1:17-18). He is God in the sense that He is one Person of the Divine Tri-unity, of which He is the executive Agency (Joh. 1:1-3). The manger of Bethlehem was not the place of Christs beginning: on the contrary, He is the Logos personally and timelessly, the Logos unbegun and unending; His goings forth have been from everlasting (Mic. 5:2; Joh. 17:5; Joh. 17:24; Joh. 8:58; 1Ti. 3:16). What really happened at Bethlehem was that the pre-existent Logos took upon Himself a new order of being: in the Apostles language, the Logos became flesh, and dwelt among us (Joh. 1:14). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, left eternal glory (Joh. 3:16; Joh. 17:5; Gal. 4:4) and took upon Himself the nature of the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2:14-18; Php. 2:5-11), to purchase redemption for sinful man (Joh. 1:29; 1Co. 6:19-20; Act. 20:28; 1Pe. 1:18-20; Heb. 9:12; Rev. 5:9-10). That is to say, the non-material passed over into the material. This happens every day when man causes his own thoughts to transmute themselves into corporeal activities of many different kinds. Conversely, man transmutes the material into the non-material (or at most, the quasi-material) in the application of the ultimate forms of energy and the relations existing among these, which are apprehensible only in terms of mathematical formulas. Those who discount or reject the Virgin Birth are called upon to explain away the doctrine of the Saviors pre-existence, one of the explicit and most prominent doctrines of the Bible.

To summarize: Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, is known to us historically as Jesus (Jesus of Nazareth); His eternal name, however, is Logos, Word; his temporal name (that which existed only in Gods Eternal Purpose until it was given actuality in our world, at Bethlehem, in the reign of Caesar Augustus) is Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father (Psa. 2:7; Col. 1:13-18; Luk. 1:30-35; Joh. 1:14); His official title is Messiah, Christos, Christ, meaning The Anointed One. These names are all meaningful, and must not be wrested out of their respective Scriptural contexts.

5. Let there be light: and there was light. (1) Note well the manner in which these decrees were expressed, the formula which occurs throughout the whole Cosmogony: Let there be, etc., etc. (Gen. 1:3; Gen. 1:6; Gen. 1:9; Gen. 1:14; Gen. 1:20; Gen. 1:24). Does not this intimate that the Divine Will was operating through the media of what we speak of as secondary causes, that is, the laws of nature? Note the significant change in Gen. 1:26 : it is no longer, let there be, it is now let us, that is, Elohim communicating within His own being, a Divine Consilium of the Father, the Word, and the Spirit.

(2) What kind of light is indicated here? Do we have here the idea of light without a sun? Simpson (IBG, 469): Light was therefore created before even the sunone of the features of the story which renders impossible all attempts to bring it into line with modern scientific knowledge. This statement is dogmatic, to say the least, Of course, this is to be expected of exegetes who find the source-material of these Scriptures in various aspects of the Babylonian myths. True it is, that in the early pagan accounts of Creation, we find a sun-god, that is, a personification of the sun, presented as creator; and that we also find in these accounts the antithesis of darkness and light portrayed under the guise of a deadly conflict between this sun-god and some kind of a chaos-monster. But the idea of light as the first created being is not to be found in any of these pagan traditions (which, by way of contrast with the Hebrew account, are myths in the proper sense of that term). It is agreed, of course, that it was not the intention of the writer of Genesis to give us a scientific account of the Creation (indeed the entire book was written in pre-scientific times). It was his intention, rather, to give us the religious (spiritual) truth about the origin and development of the Creative Process. But who has any legitimate ground or right to assume that the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of Truth (Joh. 15:26), could not have put this account in language that would be found to be in accord with human science as the latter advanced in its understanding of the mysteries of the physical world? Indeed the broad general terms in which this narrative is communicated to man has made it adaptable even throughout the changes which have occurred from time to time in scientific theory.

(3) What kind of light was this first light, as decreed in Gen. 1:3? In opposition to the dogmatism of the mythologizing interpreters, it should be noted that among physicists of our time it is a commonplace that the primal form of energythe ultimate, the irreducibleto be called into being was some form of radiant energy. But there are many kinds of radiant energy, in addition to those few reflected by a surface and then refracted by the retina of the human eye to give man his sense of colors, those embraced within the limits of the visible spectrum. There are many other forms of radiant energy operating both above and below these limits, such as radio waves, for example. Cosmic rays which bombard us constantly from outer space are perhaps the most mysterious of all these primal forms of energy. Or, again, was this first light some form of molecular light? light resulting, let us say, from heat produced by the motion induced (by the Divine Energy) into the now gradually shaping cosmic mass, which by this time was probably molten? There is no certain answer to these questions, of course. We know, however, that luminosity is the result of incandescence. Any solid body can be rendered luminous (incandescent) by being heated to some 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Any liquid that can absorb as great a quantity of heat likewise emits light. To be incandescent is to be white, glowing, or luminous with intense heat. Strong (ST, 395): The beginning of activity in matter would manifest itself by the production of light, since light is the resultant of molecular activity. This corresponds to the statement in Gen. 1:3. As the result of condensation, the nebula becomes luminous, and this process from darkness to light is described as follows: there was evening and there was morning, one day. Here we have a day without a suna feature in the narrative quite consistent with two facts of science first, that the nebula would naturally be self-luminous, and, secondly, that the earth proper, which reached its present form before the sun, would, when it was first thrown off, itself be a self-luminous and molten mass. The day was therefore continuousday without flight. Someone has rightly remarked that men called Moses a fool for putting light previous to the sun, and Laplace a scientist for doing the same thing.

(4) In a famous essay, On Light (De Luce), Robert Grosseteste, made the first Chancellor of Oxford in 1221, apparently anticipated some of the concepts of present-day physics, in his treatment of lux (light in its source) and lumen (reflected or radiated light). His theory came to be known as the light metaphysics, and was elaborated by two of his contemporaries, Roger Bacon and the Italian mystic, Bonaventura. According to this theory, along with the Creation ex nihilo of unformed matter, God brought into existence the first form, lux spiritualis. This lux, conceived as an extraordinarily rarefied form of corporeal light, something, in fact, that approximated spirit, originated space; and as the form of corporeity in primordial matter, was the primary source and cause of all created things. As McKeon writes (SMP, I, 261): The characteristic of all light is to engender itself perpetually, and diffuse itself spherically about a point in an instantaneous manner. Originally, the luminous form and matter were equally unextended, but the first form created by God in the first matter, multiplies itself infinitely, and spreads equally in all directions, distending thus the matter to which it is united and constituting thus the mass of the universe. Moreover, according to this theory, just as light is the power by which the purest Spirit produces the corporeal world, so too it is the instrument by which the soul comes in contact with the body and the things of sense; hence, viewed in this aspect, the lux becomes lumen. Commenting on Grossetestes theory, Miss Sharp has this to say (FPOTC, 23): It appears that Grosseteste experienced the same difficulties as modern physicists. The functions he assigns to light . . . show that he regards it as an energy; but his desire to speak of it as resembling body is strikingly like the present-day application of such terms as wave lengths and rays to the ether, which in itself is admitted to be imperceptible to the senses and is thought of only as the subject of activity or as that which is conserved throughout change. As a principle of unity in the universe, this light is comparable to the modern ether, which fills all space from the most distant star to the interspaces of the atom. Again, Grossetestes theory is not unlike the modern hypothesis of the convertibility of matter and energy. Lastly, we find something resembling the modern ethereal attributes of electricity, magnetism, and chemical activities, in his view of lux as the source of all movement and life and as the basis of sound. (Modern physics, to be sure, has abandoned the notion of ether; however, this does not affect the foregoing argument, as space itself seems to have taken over the role once assigned to the ether.) Two other pertinent facts should be pointed out in this connection: first, that Grossetestes theory of lux and its creative function is strikingly parallel to the tendency of present-day physicists to regard radiant energy as the ultimate irreducible of matter; and second, that this light metaphysics is strikingly adaptable to the Biblical doctrine of the ultimate glorification of the bodies of the redeemed (Dan. 12:3, Rom. 8:11; Rom. 8:30; 1Co. 15:35-49; Act. 9:1-9; 2Co. 5:1-5, etc.) and it was used by its advocates, by Bonaventura especially, to elaborate that doctrine.

(5) That the light decreed in the third verse of Genesis was not the light of our sun seems obvious. Solar light did not penetrate the vapors which enveloped the earth until the fourth day. Moreover, it seems that our entire solar system was in process of being formed, but only in process of being formed at this stage of the Creation: as part of an organized cosmos, it did not yet exist as a solar system. Lange (CDHCG, 165): The light denotes all that is simply illuminating in its efficacy, all the luminous element; the darkness denotes all that is untransparent, dark and shadow-casting; both together denote the polarity of the created world as it exists between the light-formations and the night-formations, the constitution of the day and night. However, whatever may have been the nature of the light described in this meaningful passage, the religious truth remains the same, namely, that the entrance of the Divine Word always brings light, whether that entrance be into the impenetrable darkness of the primordial Chaos or into the dark recesses of the human soul. Where the Spirit of God operates through the Word, the darkness flees before the light; so in the Creation, there was at first darkness, non-being, but when the Spirit began to energize there was light and being. On Day One, then, occurred the beginning of matter-in-motion in the primal forms of energy and light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

1. The light was called good. In Scripture anything is called good that is doing what the Creator designed it to do in the total scheme of things. Hence we may rightly say that the Creation was the field in which Gods perfections were manifested. Note also that only the light is called good, not the darkness, nor even the co-existence of light and darkness.

2. God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. (1) Because God is all-powerful, all that He creates is good for some purpose or end. Did God Himself bring the darkness into existence? Whatever the darkness implies here, whether it be an absolute void or a motionless, objectless, amorphous world-stuff, man does not have and cannot even claim to have the certain answer to this question. It may well be that the darkness existed by Gods sufferance; hence, whatever may be implied by the term, this darkness when reduced to order by Divine decree, became a good: the whole Creation was later Divinely pronounced good, and after the creation of man, very good (Gen. 1:25; Gen. 1:31). Thus has God always been bringing forth being out of non-being, perfection out of imperfection. (2) Titus Burckhardt writes (Cosmology and Modern Science, in Tomorrow, Vol. 12, No. 3): Modern science will never reach that matter which is at the basis of this world. But between the qualitatively differentiated world and the undifferentiated matter there lies something like an intermediate zone: this is chaos. The sinister dangers attendant on atomic fission are but a pointer indicating the frontier of chaos and of dissolution. (3) By thus separating the darkness and the light, as specificyet relationalforms, God imposed order on the darkness and gave meanings to both darkness and light, meanings both physical and spiritual. (4) At the same time that He gave meaning to both darkness and lights, as Lord of both, He gave them their appropriate names, Night and Day, respectively, and thus set in motion the ordered alternation of night and day generally.

3. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Literally, Day One.) (1) Simpson (IBG, 471); rejects the aeonic-day theory. While this view, he says, might have made the account of creation less irreconcilable with modern science, it would have involved a lessening of Gods greatness, one sign of which was His power to do so much in one day. Is not this a begging of the question? How is Gods greatness lessened by the view that this first day was one of indefinite length? Did it not take the same measure of power to actualize the Creation regardless of the length of time that God may have taken to do it? (2) We certainly do not take the position here that God could not have created the cosmos in six days of twenty-four hours each: God can do whatever He may will to do that is consistent with His Being and Character. M. Henry (CWB, 2): The Creator could have made his work perfect at first, but by this gradual proceeding he would show what is, ordinarily, the method of his providence and grace. (Cf. 2Pe. 3:8). Whitelaw (PCG, 12): Of course the length of Day One practically determines the length of all six. If it was a solar day, then they must be considered such. But as the present sidereal arrangements for the measurement of time were not then established, it is clearly gratuitous to proceed on the assumption that it was. M. Henry again (ibid., 2): This was not only the first day of the world, but the first day of the week. I observe it to the honour of that day, because the new world began on the first day of the week likewise, in the resurrection of Christ, as the light of the world, early in the morning. In him the dayspring from on high visited the world. (Luk. 1:78, Mat. 28:1, Mar. 16:1-2, Luk. 24:1, Joh. 20:1-10, Act. 20:7, 1Co. 16:2, Rev. 1:10). (3) How long was the darkness that preceded the light of this Day One? This question could be answered only if we knew precisely what the darkness was. This, however, we do not know. That the darkness was of indefinite duration seems obvious from the reading of the text. It has been asserted that this sequence of darkness and light, night and day, evening and morning, was determined by the Hebrew custom of reckoning time from sunset to sunset. Is it not more reasonable to think that, on the contrary, the Hebrew custom was derived from the Hebrew Cosmogony as handed down from the remote past in the Torah?

Fuente: College Press Bible Study Textbook Series


Gen. 1:2-19

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The verb bara, translated create, writes Skinner (ICC, 15) is used exclusively in Scripture of Divine activity, a restriction to which perhaps no parallel can be found in other languages; expresses the idea of novelty, extraordinariness; expresses the idea of effortless production (such as befits the Almighty) by word or volition (as another puts it, the verb emphasizes the unconditioned Creatorship of God; cf. Psa. 33:6; Psa. 33:9; Psa. 148:1-6; Rom. 4:17). With this introduction which, apparently, is a caption to the Cosmogony that follows, or, it may be, a designation of the activity by which the first form of undifferentiated energy-matter was called into being by the Divine Will and Word, the writer proceeds to the description of the successive steps by which this first form of energy-matter was arranged into an organized cosmos.



What is the import of the word bara in the first chapter of Genesis?


What Was done on Day One of the Creation?


State the probable meaning of the phrase, formless and empty, as descriptive of the original state of the earth.


What is suggested by the first syllable, form, in the word formless, as used in Gen. 1:2?


What is the probable meaning of the term, the deep?


What is the meaning of the word chaos in Greek?


How does the picture of the primeval chaos suggest the state of the unregenerate soul?


What does the word brooding suggest, as descriptive of the work of the Spirit of God in the Creation?


Point out the correlation between the Spirits brooding at the beginning of the physical Creation and His brooding at the beginning of the spiritual Creation.


List some of the Scriptures which identify the Spirit of God of the Old Testament with the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of Christ, of the New Testament.


Cite some examples from everyday life of the transmutation of psychical energy into physical energy.


What light does this throw on the origin of the first form of physical energy?


What is presupposed in the application of energy in terms of force?


What probably was the kind of light indicated in the third verse of Genesis?


What reasons have we for concluding that this was not solar light?


With what formula is the description of each epoch of Creation introduced in the Genesis narrative?


In the light of the entire Bible what is the significance of this formula?


Point out some of the Scriptures which identify Jesus of Nazareth as the Eternal Logos.


What is the twofold meaning of the term Logos in Greek, and how does Jesus fulfill this twofold aspect?


State the historical, eternal, and temporal names of our Savior. What is His official title and what is its import?


What is the significance of the repeated formula, Let there be, etc.?


What reasons have we for thinking that the first form of light was an elementary kind of radiant energy rather than solar energy?


What does the word good imply, as God is represented as using it, in the Genesis account?


What was done on Day Two of the Creation?


Explain what is meant by the law of accommodation.


List the contrasts between the Babylonian and the Mosaic Cosmogonies.


Why do we reject the theory that the Genesis account was borrowed from Babylonian sources?


What are the grounds on which we accept the Genesis account as divinely inspired?


What does the word firmament mean, as used in Gen. 1:6-7?


What is probably meant here by the separation of the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament?


State the monoparental and biparental hypotheses of the origin of the earth.


What is the import of the word Heaven as used in Gen. 1:8?


What was done on Day Three of the Creation?


By what processes were lands and seas probably differentiated?


Explain what is meant by secondary causation.


What do we mean by saying that God probably operated through secondary causes throughout most of the Creation? By what formula is this method indicated?


What is the import of the phrase each after its kind?


What was done on Day Four of the Creation?


Why. do we reject the view that sun, moon and stars were created at this stage?


Correlate Gen. 1:17 with Gen. 9:8-17 and with 1Co. 11:23-33.


State some of the aspects in which the primordial darkness was a metaphor of the unconverted soul.


State the aspects in which light is a metaphor of the Gospel.


What do we learn from the first chapter of Genesis concerning the Word-Power of God?


Where is this Word-Power to be found today?

Fuente: College Press Bible Study Textbook Series

(2) And the earth.The conjunction and negatives the well-meant attempt to harmonise geology and Scripture by taking Gen. 1:1 as a mere heading; the two verses go together, and form a general summary of creation, which is afterwards divided into its several stages.

Was is not the copula, but the substantive verb existed, and expresses duration of time. After creation, the earth existed as a shapeless and empty waste.

Without form, and void.Literally, tohu and bohu, which words are both substantives, and signify wasteness and emptiness. The similarity of their forms, joined with the harshness of their sound, made them pass almost into a proverb for everything that was dreary and desolate (Isa. 34:11; Jer. 4:23). It expresses here the state of primval matter immediately after creation, when as yet there was no cohesion between the separate particles.

Darkness.As light is the result either of the condensation of matter or of vibrations caused by chemical action, this exactly agrees with the previous representation of the chaos out of which the earth was to be shaped. It existed at present only as an incoherent waste of emptiness.

The deep.Thm. This word, from a root signifying confusion or disturbance, is poetically applied to the ocean, as in Psa. 42:7, from the restless motion of its waves, but is used here to describe the chaos as a surging mass of shapeless matter. In the Babylonian legend, Timat, the Hebrew thm, is represented as overcome by Merodach, who out of the primval anarchy brings order and beauty (Sayce, Chaldean Genesis, pp. 59, 109, 113).

The Spirit of God.Heb., a wind of God, i.e., a mighty wind, as rendered by the Targum and most Jewish interpreters. (See Note on Gen. 23:6.) So the wind of Jehovah makes the grass wither (Isa. 40:7); and so God makes the winds His messengers (Psa. 104:4). The argument that no wind at present existed because the atmosphere had not been created is baseless, for if water existed, so did air. But this unseen material force, wind (Joh. 3:8), has ever suggested to the human mind the thought of the Divine agency, which, equally unseen, is even mightier in its working. When, then, creation is ascribed to the wind (Job. 26:13; Psa. 104:30), we justly see, not the mere instrumental force employed, but rather that Divine operative energy which resides especially in the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. But we must be upon our guard against the common error of commentators, who read into the text of these most ancient documents perfect doctrines which were not revealed in their fulness until the Gospel was given. It is a marvellous fact that Genesis does contain the germ of well-nigh every evangelical truth, but it contains it in a suggestive and not a completed form. So here this mighty energising wind suggests to us the thought of the Holy Ghost, and is far more eloquent in its original simplicity than when we read into it a doctrine not made known until revelation was perfected in Christ (Joh. 7:39).

Moved.Heb., fluttered lovingly. (See Deu. 32:11.) This word also would lead the mind up to the thought of the agency of a Person. In Syriac the verb is a very common one for the incubation of birds; and, in allusion to this place, it is metaphorically employed, both of the waving of the hand of the priest over the cup in consecrating the wine for the Eucharist, and of that of the patriarch over the head of a bishop at his consecration. Two points must here be noticed: the first, that the motion was not self-originated, but was external to the chaos; the second, that it was a gentle and loving energy, which tenderly and gradually, with fostering care, called forth the latent possibilities of a nascent world.

Fuente: Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

2. And the earth was without form and void Having stated in the first verse the great fact of the creation, the writer now proceeds to unfold the manner and order of that creation . Here we must differ from those critics who understand Gen 1:1 of the primordial matter of the universe, and the following verses of a subsequent series of growths . The analogy of the entire Book of Genesis confirms the view of those who regard Gen 1:1 as a heading or general statement of the substance of the whole following section, which the succeeding verses go on to elaborate in detail . So Gen 2:4; Gen 5:1; Gen 10:1; Gen 11:10; Gen 11:27, etc . , are respectively the headings of so many sections of this ancient Book of the Beginning and Generations of human history. In every instance, after first positing a general statement of his subject, the writer proceeds to narrate the details which his statement involves. The words used in the first verse needed an explanation, which the rest of the chapter at once supplies. The statement, so often made, that the conjunction and ( ) at the beginning of Gen 1:2 forbids the supposition that Gen 1:1 is a summary of the whole chapter, is seen to be futile by a comparison of the immediate sequence of other headings of sections named above. The words are rendered by Onkelos waste and empty; by Aquila, emptiness and nothing; by Vulgate, empty and void; and by the Sept . , invisible and unformed . The words appear in the same form again in Jer 4:23. They here describe the land as waste and empty, and the context shows that it was as yet covered with waters, so as to form a part and condition of the deep, over the surface or face of which there was darkness. Whether light had ever beamed upon that deep, or how the land and the waters came to be so intermixed, are questions on which the writer utters no sentiment .

The Spirit of God moved ( , brooding, comp . Deu 32:11) upon the face of the waters The Divine Spirit hovered down upon the deep, as the mighty Agent by whose power the darkness will be made to vanish, and beauty and order arise out of desolation and emptiness . Observe, here is no broad statement that darkness prevailed through the entire universe of God; nor is the deep or the waters to be identified with the entire surface of the globe. FIRST DAY LIGHT, 3-5.

Fuente: Whedon’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

‘And the earth was without form and empty. And darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.’

“And the earth” – the connecting ‘’ (‘ waw ’) really excludes the suggestion of a gap between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2. The writer could not have made the connection any closer (there are no verse divisions in the original) – ‘ ha aretz we ha aretz ’ – ‘—the heavens and the earth, and the earth was —’. Having spoken of the creation of heavens and earth he is now turning his attention directly to the earth’s condition as created. It should be noted that what is now immediately described is therefore limited to ‘the earth’. The remainder of the universe is not in mind.

It was ‘ tohu wa bohu ’ – ‘without form and devoid of anything positive’. Try pronouncing the Hebrew quickly and deeply (pronouncing toe – hoo wah boe -hoo). Like many Hebrew words it conveys its meaning by its sound as well as by its interpretation. This is the condition in which God created the earth. He had made it formless that He may give it form, He had made it empty that He might fill it. He had made it covered with water that from that He might produce what is, as altered by His hand. There is no thought that it had ‘become’ this way, or was naturally so. Nor that forces of chaos were at work against which God had to fight. It was as He had determined it to be. God had created the earth covered in water and now He began His work upon it. No conflict is involved.

Tohu is used in both Hebrew and Arabic to indicate a waste place. The meaning of ‘ bohu ’ is uncertain, but in Arabic it means ‘to be empty’. In the Old Testament it is only used in connection with ‘tohu’ (three times). Thus the idea here is of an uninhabitable, lifeless and empty, water-covered earth.

“And darkness was on the face of the deep.” The point is that without God’s word there is no light. Darkness is seen as negative. It is God’s positive action that brings light. Unless God acts the universe such as it is will remain forever dark. So the primeval world is seen as formless, empty and dark, as without shape or evident light. It is covered with water. Note that all that was outside of God and was visible was described as ‘the deep’, and that everything that happens is seen from the point of view of earth. But the fact that he speaks of ‘the face of the deep’ demonstrates that it is apart from God. This dark, unshaped, mass is not God, it is not everything that is. It has a surface, and over that surface God waits and is about to act.

But why ‘the deep’. ‘The deep’ – ‘ tehom ’ (in Ugaritic ‘ thm ’) means ‘the deeps’, thus usually referring to the oceans and seas. To the Israelite the deep itself was a mystery. It was dark, impenetrable, shapeless and for ever fluid. It formed nothing solid or specific. Thus it indicated that which was impenetrable, and beyond man’s sphere, that which was shapeless, dark and fluid. It had no form or shape, was ever changing and temporary, and was suitable as a description of ultimate formlessness and barrenness. Here in the beginning it was dark and unformed because light and shape and form and all significance had yet to come from God, and He had not yet acted. There is no suggestion of a struggle. It is impersonal. We may speak of ‘chaos’ as long as we do not read in ideas that are not there. It is chaos in the sense of being unshaped and unformed and not controlled, utterly waste and shapeless and void. As being ‘empty’.

“And the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.” This could also be translated ‘wind of God’. Either way the idea is of God hovering over earth ready for action. In view of this, ‘Spirit’ is the most likely meaning. It is the creative energy of God waiting to act. He Who is light is ready to act on darkness. He Who is all that is significant would bring significance to this shapeless mass. (The translation ‘mighty wind’ is extremely doubtful. The word ‘God’ appears too many times in this narrative for its appearance here to be just adjectival, and there is no suggestion in the later narrative of the activity of a mighty wind. Creation takes place through His word, not through a wind).

In the Old Testament when God’s direct action is seen in the world it is often described in terms of the ‘Spirit of God’. To the Old Testament the Spirit of God is God extending Himself to act positively, locally and visibly in the world. Basically the writer is saying here that God is now hovering over His world about to reveal Himself in action. It should be noted that this description already assumes a kind of ‘heaven’ where the Spirit is hovering, but not our heaven. Our earth and heaven is seen as not all that there is. It is probable therefore that he intends us to see the Spirit in action in the following verses, acting through God’s word.

“Hovered”. Compare its use in Deu 32:11 of a bird hovering over its young. The same root in Ugaritic means ‘hover, soar’. The word as used here suggests intimate concern.

“The face of the waters.” As light was positive and darkness was absence of light, so ‘land’ was positive and ‘waters’ or ‘deeps’ represented absence of land, in other words here there was the absence of the means of creaturely existence and absence of shape and form. The deeps were fluid, unshaped, dark and mysterious. They had no form. There was no atmosphere. They were therefore to the writer a perfect symbol of unformed existence.

But while ‘the deep’ was formless and shapeless and fluid, the sphere of hovering was outside of this emptiness, outside the beginnings of creation as we know it. God was not a part of the stuff of creation. He was there ready to act upon it. This deep was the incomprehensibly mysterious described in terms of what was indescribable, that which was formless and shapeless and waiting for God to give it shape, and form, and significance. And God is pictured as by His Spirit waiting apart from it to act on it from the outside.

Fuente: Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Gen 1:2. And the earth was without form, and void In its first state the earth, or the whole of the terraqueous globe, was a mere confused chaos, without any regular form, or without any of its present furniture, plants, trees, animals, &c.

Darkness on the face of the deep Every thing was yet in a stagnant, black, and unformed state; and the whole face of the deep, or vast abyss of primordial matter, was inveloped in total darkness: there was an absolute privation of all light.

And the Spirit of God ruach, i.e.. The Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity; or, as some of the ancient Jews called him, the Spirit of the Messiah, who was the first mover in this creative operation: which explains the Evangelist St. John, who, in the beginning of his Gospel, says, that all things were made by the eternal , or Word of God, (the same with the , or mind of the ancient philosophers,) whose Almighty Spirit agitated the vast confused mass of matter, and put it into form.

Moved The word rechep, whence mera-chepeth, seems properly to signify to make a tremulous or fluttering motion, such as that of an eagle fluttering over her nest; in which sense it is used, Deu 32:11 fluttereth over her young.

Face of the waters The same with the face of the deep, the abyss just mentioned, the terraqueous unformed mass: which perhaps may the rather be called waters, as the earthy particles, being the heaviest, would naturally sink to the center; and the watery, in consequence, would occupy the superficies of the mass. It may be worth while to observe here, how much the heathens have borrowed of their theogony from the account given by Moses: Chaos and darkness, according to them, were in the beginning:

Love, or a plastic spirit, brooded over this chaos, as over an egg: and from water, many of their greatest philosophers derived the beginning of all things.

REFLECTIONS.Such as appeared the material world before the Spirit of God quickened the lifeless lump; such is now the spiritual world, till the same Divine Power interposes. 1. The soul of man by sin, is become a heap of confusion: as dead to God, and incapable of producing any fruits of holiness, as the unformed chaos to produce trees or flowers. 2. Darkness covers it: we have neither the faculty of vision to descry, nor light to illuminate spiritual objects. We know nothing of ourselves, our God, our Saviour, our proper work, our happiness, as we ought to know. 3. The whole world, which now lieth in wickedness, presents to the enlightened mind a lively image of this original confusion and emptiness. Darkness surrounds it, no beauty appears, God is forgotten; the jarring elements of corrupt nature breed wild uproar; and universal desolation seems diffused around. The heart that hath been taught its true rest, daily cries after that new heaven and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 4. As incapable as this chaos was, of forming itself into order; as impossible as it was for this darkness to produce the light, or kindle up the sun; so impossible is it for man, by any powers or ability of his own, to restore his fallen soul to the image of God, or to produce one beam of heavenly light, or spark of spiritual life. 5. It is the office of the Spirit of God alone to produce light and order in the dark and chaotic soul. 6. Be our mortal bodies however dissolved in earth, fire, water, air, He who first moved upon the face of the waters, can by the same energy recall the scattered particles of our dust, and from the dissipated and disjointed atoms raise up a glorious body, bright as the sun when it shineth in its strength.

Fuente: Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

Mark! what a resemblance there is between the empty void of nature, before the lights of heaven were introduced into the creation, and that of the human soul before the light of grace hath passed upon it. No expression can more strikingly point out the state of an unawakened, unregenerated soul, than that of darkness covering it. Isa 60:2 .

Fuente: Hawker’s Poor Man’s Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Ver. 2. And the earth was without form and void, ] that is, as yet it had neither essential nor accidental perfection. The Lord afterward did form it into light, the firmament, the water, and the earth; so beginning above, and building downwards (in the new creature he doth otherwise); and in three days laying the parts of the world, and in other three days adorning them. The Rabbins tell us that Tohu and Bohu do properly import Materia prima and privatio; a and others of Tohu , derive Chaos , whence the ancient Latins called the world Chobus , and borrowed their word Inchoo ( ), &c.

And darkness was upon the face of the deep, ] that is, not of hell, as Origen expounds it, but of the deep waters ( , see the like, Luk 8:31 ), which “as a garment covered the earth, and stood above the mountains.” Psa 104:6 This darkness God created not, for it was but the want of light. And to say that God dwelt in darkness till he had created light, was a devilish sarcasm of the Manichees, as if God were not light itself, 1Jn 1:5 and “the Father of lights”; Jam 1:17 or, as if God had not ever been a heaven to Himself, “Ere ever he had formed the earth and the heavens.” Psa 90:2 What he did, or how he employed himself before the creation, is a sea over which no ship hath sailed, a mine into which no spade hath delved, an abyss into which no bucket hath dived. Our sight is too tender to behold this sun. A thousand years, saith a great divine, b are to God but as one day, &c. And who knoweth what the Lord hath done? Indeed, he made but one world to our knowledge; but who knoweth what he did before, and what he will do after? Thus he. As for St Augustine:

“The bishop Lybicus was shaping the underworld according to these verses, he said these ideas which he helps to be examined by means of such a mind.” c

Excellently another, d who wanted not wit: As in the element of fire, saith he, there is a faculty of heating and enlightening; whence proceedeth heat and light unto the external near bodies; and besides this faculty, there is also in it a natural power to go upward; which, when it cometh into act, is received into no other subject, but the fire itself: so that if fire could, by abstractive imagination, be conceived of as wanting those two transient operations, yet could we not justly say it had no action, forasmuch as it might move upward, which is an immanent and inward action. So, and much more so, though we grant that there was no external work of the Godhead, until the making of the world, yet can there be no necessary illation [inference] of idleness, seeing it might have (as indeed it had) actions immanent, included in the circle of the Trinity. This is an answer to such as ask, What God did before he made the world? God, saith Plotinus the Platonist, e not working at all, but resting in himself, doeth and performeth very great things.

And the Spirit of God moved, &c. ] Or hovered over, f and hatched out the creature, as the hen doth her chickens; or as the eagle fluttereth over her young, to provoke them to flight. Deu 32:11 Or as by a like operation, this same Holy Spirit formed the child Jesus in the Virgin’s womb, in that wonderful “overshadowing” Luk 1:35 . The Chaldee here hath it, “The Spirit breathed”; and David saith the same. Psa 33:6 He became, to that rude dead mass, a quickening, comforting Spirit. He kept it together, which else would have shattered. And so he doth still, or else all would soon fall asunder, Heb 1:3 Psa 104:29 were not his conserving mercy still over, or upon, all his works. Psa 145:9

a Ahlsted., Lexic. Theol ., p. 111.

b Dr. Preston, Of God’s Attributes , p. 34. [Rather, 2Pe 3:8 – ED.]

c Praesul ad haec Lybicus, fabricabat Tartara, dixit, His, quos scrutari talia mente iuvat.

Sabin, Poet.

d Cuff’s Differ. of Ages , p. 22.

e Ferebatur super aquas non pervagatione, sed potestate, non per spatium locorum, ut sol super terram, sed pepotentiam sublimitatis suae. – Eucherius

f Dei Dicere est Efficere , “of God, to say is to accomplish”

Fuente: John Trapp’s Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

And. Note the Figure of speech Polysyndeton (App-6), by which, in the 34 verses of this Introduction, each one of 102 separate acts are emphasized; and the important word “God” in Gen 1:1 is carried like a lamp through the whole of this Introduction (Gen 1:1 Gen 2:3).

the earth. Figure of speech Anadiplosis. See App-6.

was = became. See Gen 2:7; Gen 4:3; Gen 9:15; Gen 19:26. Exo 32:1. Deu 27:9. 2Sa 7:24, &c. Also rendered came to pass Gen 4:14; Gen 22:1; Gen 23:1; Gen 27:1. Jos 4:1; Jos 5:1. 1Ki 13:32. Isa 14:24, &c. Also rendered be (in the sense of become) Gen 1:3, &c, and where the verb “to be” is not in italic type. Hence, Exo 3:1, kept = became keeper, quit = become men, &c. See App-7.

without form = waste. Hebrew. tohu va bohu. Figure of speech Paronomasia. App-6. Not created tohu (Isa 45:18), but became tohu (Gen 1:2. 2Pe 3:5, 2Pe 3:6). ” An enemy hath done this” (Mat 13:25, Mat 13:28, Mat 13:39. Compare 1Co 14:33.) See App-8.

was. This is in italic type, because no verb “to be” in Hebrew. (App-7). In like manner man became a ruin (Genesis 3; Psa 14:1-3; Psa 51:5; Psa 53:1-3. Ecc 7:20. Rom 7:18).

face. Figure of speech Pleonasm. App-6.

the Spirit of God moved (see App-9) = The beginning of “the heavens and earth which are now” (2Pe 3:7). It is even so in the New Creation. The Spirit moves (Joh 3:3-8. Rom 8:5, Rom 8:9, Rom 8:14. Gal 1:4, Gal 1:29. 2Co 5:17, 2Co 5:18).

deep; waters = Job 38:29-30

Fuente: Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

without form and void

Jer 4:23-27; Isa 24:1; Isa 45:18 clearly indicate that the earth had undergone a cataclysmic change as the result of divine judgment. The face of the earth bears everywhere the marks of such a catastrophe. There are not wanting imitations which connect it with a previous testing and fall of angels.

See Eze 28:12-15; Isa 14:9-14 which certainly go beyond the kings of Tyre and Babylon.

Fuente: Scofield Reference Bible Notes

Let There Be Light

And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the spirit of God moved (R.V. m. was brooding) upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.Gen 1:2-3.

This is the second stage in the history of the Creation. After the first verse, it is of the earth, and of the earth only, that the narrative speaks. The earth did now exist, but in the form of chaos. This expression does not mean a state of disorder and confusion, but that state of primitive matter in which no creature had as yet a distinctive existence, and no one element stood out in distinction from others, but all the forces and properties of matter existed, as it were, undivided. The materials were indeed all there, but not as suchthey were only latent. However, the creative spirit, the principle of order and life, brooded over this matter, which, like a rich organic cell, comprehended in itself the conditions, and up to a certain point the elementary principles, of all future forms of existence. This Spirit was the efficient cause, not of matter itself, but of its Organization, which was then to begin. He was the executant of each of those Divine commands, which from this time were to succeed each other, stroke after stroke, till this chaos should be transformed into a world of wonders.

We cannot tell how the Spirit of God brooded over that vast watery mass. It is a mystery, but it is also a fact, and it is here revealed as having happened at the very commencement of the Creation, even before God had said, Let there be light. The first Divine act in fitting up this planet for the habitation of man was for the Spirit of God to move upon the face of the waters. Till that time, all was formless, empty, out of order, and in confusion. In a word, it was chaos; and to make it into that thing of beauty which the world is at the present moment, even though it is a fallen world, it was needful that the movement of the Spirit of God should take place upon it. How the Spirit works upon matter, we do not know; but we do know that God, who is a Spirit, created matter, and fashioned matter, and sustained matter, and that He will yet deliver matter from the stain of sin which is upon it. We shall see new heavens and a new earth in which materialism itself shall be lifted up from its present state of ruin, and shall glorify God; but without the Spirit of God the materialism of this world must have remained for ever in chaos. Only as the Spirit came did the work of creation begin.1 [Note: C. H. Spurgeon.]

We have first chaos, then order (or cosmos); we have also first darkness, then light. It is the Spirit of God that out of chaos brings cosmos; it is the Word of God that out of darkness brings light. Accordingly, the text is easily divided in this way

I.Cosmos out of Chaos.


ii.The Spirit of God.


II.Light out of Darkness.


ii.Gods Word.



Cosmos out of Chaos

i. Chaos

The earth was without form (R.V. waste) and void. The Hebrew (th w-bh) is an alliterative description of a chaos, in which nothing can be distinguished or defined. Th is a word which it is difficult to express consistently in English; but it denotes mostly something unsubstantial, or (figuratively) unreal; cf. Isa 45:18 (of the earth), He created it not a th, he fashioned it to be inhabited, Gen 1:19, I said not, Seek ye me as a th (i.e. in vain). Bh, as Arabic shows, is rightly rendered empty or void. Compare the same combination of words to suggest the idea of a return to primeval chaos in Jer 4:23 and Isa 34:11 (the line of th and the plummet of bh).

Who seeketh finds: what shall be his relief

Who hath no power to seek, no heart to pray,

No sense of God, but bears as best he may,

A lonely incommunicable grief?

What shall he do? One only thing he knows,

That his life flits a frail uneasy spark

In the great vast of universal dark,

And that the grave may not be all repose.

Be still, sad soul! lift thou no passionate cry,

But spread the desert of thy being bare

To the full searching of the All-seeing Eye:

Waitand through dark misgiving, blank despair,

God will come down in pity, and fill the dry

Dead place with light, and life, and vernal air.1 [Note: J. C. Shairp.]

ii. The Spirit of God

1. In the Old Testament the spirit of man is the principle of life, viewed especially as the seat of the stronger and more active energies of life; and the spirit of God is analogously the Divine force or agency, to the operation of which are attributed various extraordinary powers and activities of men, as well as supernatural gifts. In the later books of the Old Testament, it appears also as the power which creates and sustains life. It is in the last-named capacity that it is mentioned here. The chaos of Gen 1:2 was not left in hopeless gloom and death; already, even before God spake, the Spirit of God, with its life-giving energy, was brooding over the waters, like a bird upon its nest, and (so it seems to be implied) fitting them in some way to generate and maintain life, when the Divine fiat should be pronounced.

This, then, is the first lesson of the Bible; that at the root and origin of all this vast material universe, before whose laws we are crushed as the moth, there abides a living conscious Spirit, who wills and knows and fashions all things. The belief of this changes for us the whole face of nature, and instead of a chill, impersonal world of forces to which no appeal can be made, and in which matter is supreme, gives us the home of a Father.

In speaking of Divine perfection, we mean to say that God is just and true and lovingthe Author of order and not of disorder, of good and not of evil. Or rather, that He is justice, that He is truth, that He is love, that He is order; and that wherever these qualities are present, whether in the human soul or in the order of nature, there is God. We might still see Him everywhere if we had not been mistakenly seeking Him apart from us, instead of in us; away from the laws of nature, instead of in them. And we become united to Him not by mystical absorption, but by partaking, whether consciously or unconsciously of that truth and justice and love which He Himself is.1 [Note: Benjamin Jowett.]

I have learned

To look on nature, not as in the hour

Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes

The still, sad music of humanity,

Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power

To chasten and subdue. And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still

A lover of the meadows and the woods,

And mountains.2 [Note: Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey.]

2. The doctrine of the all-pervading action of the Spirit of God, and the living Power underlying all the energies of Nature, occupies a wider space in the pages of Divine revelation than it holds in popular Christian theology, or in the hymns, the teaching, and the daily thoughts of modern Christendom. In these the doctrine of the Spirit of God is, if we judge by Scripture, too much restricted to His work in Redemption and Salvation, to His wonder-working and inspiring energy in the early Church, and to His secret regenerating and sanctifying energy in the renewal of souls for life everlasting. And in this work of redemption He is spoken of by the special appellation of the Holy Ghost, even by the revisers of the Authorized Version; although there seems to be not the slightest reason for the retention of that equivocal old English word, full of unfortunate associations, more than there would be in so translating the same word as it occurs in our Lords discourse at the well of JacobGod is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truthwhere the insertion of this ancient Saxon word for spirit would create a painful shock by its irreverence. All these redeeming and sanctifying operations of the Spirit of God in the soul of man have been treated with great fulness in our own language, in scores of valuable writings, from the days of John Owen, the Puritan Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, down to the present time, when Bishop Moule has given us his excellent work entitled Veni Creator, a most delightful exposition of Scripture doctrine on the Holy Spirit in His dealings with the souls of men. In few of these works, however, appears any representation of the Scripture doctrine of the Spirit of God, as working in Nature, as the direct agent of the Eternal Will in the creation and everlasting government of the physical and intellectual universe.

It has been the fault of religious teachers, and it is also the fault of much of what prevails in the tone of the religious worldto draw an unwarrantably harsh contrast between the natural and the spiritual. A violent schism has thereby been created between the sacred and the secular, and, consequently, many disasters have ensued. Good people have done infinite mischief by placing the sacred in opposition to the secular. They have thus denied Gods presence and Gods glory in things where His presence should have been gladly acknowledged, and have thereby cast a certain dishonour on matters which should have been recognized as religious in the truest sense. The result has been that others, carefully studying the things thus handed over to godlessness, and discovering therein rich mines of truth, and beauty, and goodness, have too frequently accepted the false position assigned to them, and have preached, in the name of Agnosticism or Atheism, a gospel of natural law, in opposition to the exclusive and narrow gospel of the religionists I have described.1 [Note: Donald Macleod, Christ and Society, 243.]

3. It is an ennobling thought that all this fair world we see, all those healthful and strong laws in ceaseless operation around us, all that long history of change and progress which we have been taught to trace, can be linked on to what we behold at Pentecost. It is the same Spirit who filled St. Peter and St. John with the life and power and love of Christ, who also dwells in the light of setting suns, in the round ocean, and the living air. There is no opposition. All are diverse operations of the same Spirit, who baptized St. Paul with his glowing power, and St. John with his heavenly love, and who once moved over the face of the waters, and evoked order out of chaos. The Bible calls nothing secular, all things are sacred, and only sin and wickedness are excluded from the domain which is claimed for God. But if we believe that He has never left Himself without a witness, and that the very rain and sunshine and fruitful seasons are the gifts of Him whose Spirit once moved over the waters and brought order out of confusion, then are we entitled to go further and to say that in the love of parent and child, in the heroic self-sacrifice of patriots, in the thoughts of wisdom and truth uttered by wise men, by Sakyamuni or Confucius, Socrates or Seneca, we must see nothing less than the strivings of that same Divine Spirit who spake by the prophets, and was shed forth in fulness upon the Church at Pentecost.

In the Life of Sir E. Burne-Jones, there is an account by his wife of the effect first made upon her by coming into contact with him and his artist friends, Morris and Rossetti. She says, I wish it were possible to explain the Impression made upon me as a young girl, whose experience so far had been quite remote from art, by sudden and close intercourse with those to whom it was the breath of life. The only approach I can make to describing it is by saying that I felt in the presence of a new religion. Their love of beauty did not seem to me unbalanced, but as if it included the whole world and raised the point from which they regarded everything. Human beauty especially was in a way sacred to them, I thought; and a young lady who was much with them, and sat for them as a model, said to me, It was being in a new world to be with them. I sat to them and I was there with them. And I was a holy thing to themI was a holy thing to them.

Wherever through the ages rise

The altars of self-sacrifice,

Where love its arms has opened wide,

Or man for man has calmly died,

I see the same white wings outspread,

That hovered oer the Masters head!

Up from undated time they come,

The martyr souls of heathendom;

And to His cross and passion bring

Their fellowship of suffering.

So welcome I from every source

The tokens of that primal Force,

Older than heaven itself, yet new

As the young heart it reaches to,

Beneath whose steady impulse rolls

The tidal wave of human souls;

Guide, comforter, and inward word,

The eternal spirit of the Lord!1 [Note: Whittier.]

iii. Cosmos

1. The Spirit of God was brooding upon the face of the waters. The word rendered brooded (or was brooding, R.V.m.) occurs elsewhere only in Deu 32:11, where it is used of an eagle (properly, a griffon-vulture) hovering over its young. It is used similarly in Syriac. It is possible that its use here may be a survival, or echo, of the old belief, found among the Phnicians, as well as elsewhere, of a world-egg, out of which, as it split, the earth, sky, and heavenly bodies emerged; the crude, material representation appearing here transformed into a beautiful and suggestive figure.

2. The hope of the chaotic world, and the hope of the sinning soul, is all in the brooding Spirit of God seeking to bring order out of chaos, to bring life out of death, light out of darkness, and beauty out of barrenness and ruin. It was Gods Spirit brooding over the formless world that put the sun in the heavens, that filled the world with warmth and light, that made the earth green with herbage, that caused forests to grow upon the hillsides, with birds to sing in them, and planted flowers to exhale their perfume in the Valleys. So Gods Spirit broods over the heart of man that has fallen into darkness and chaos through sin.

(1) As the movement of the Holy Spirit upon the waters was the first act in the six days work, so the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul is the first work of grace in that soul. It is a very humbling truth, but it is a truth notwithstanding its humiliating form, that the best man that mere morality ever produced is still waste and void if the Spirit of God has not come upon him. All the efforts of men which they make by nature, when stirred up by the example of others or by godly precepts, produce nothing but chaos in another shape; some of the mountains may have been levelled, but valleys have been elevated into other mountains; some vices have been discarded, but only to be replaced by other vices that are, perhaps, even worse; or certain transgressions have been forsaken for a while, only to be followed by a return to the selfsame sins, so that it has happened unto them, According to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire (2Pe 2:22). Unless the Spirit of God has been at work within him, the man is still, in the sight of God, without form and void as to everything which God can look upon with pleasure.

(2) To this work nothing whatever is contributed by the man himself. The earth was waste and void, so it could not do anything to help the Spirit. Darkness was upon the face of the deep. The Spirit found no light there; it had to be created. The heart of man promises help, but the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. The will has great influence over the man, but the will is itself depraved, so it tries to play the tyrant over all the other powers of the man, and it refuses to become the servant of the eternal Spirit of truth.

(3) Not only was there nothing whatever that could help the Holy Spirit, but there seemed nothing at all congruous to the Spirit. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of order, but there was disorder. He is the Spirit of light, but there was darkness. Does it not seem a strange thing that the Spirit of God should have come there at all? Adored in His excellent glory in the heaven where all is order and all is light, why should He come to brood over that watery deep, and to begin the great work of bringing order out of chaos? Why should the Spirit of God ever have come into our hearts? What was there in us to induce the Spirit of God to begin a work of grace in us? We admire the condescension of Jesus in leaving Heaven to dwell upon earth; but do we equally admire the condescension of the Holy Spirit in coming to dwell in such poor hearts as ours? Jesus dwelt with sinners, but the Holy Ghost dwells in us.

(4) Where the Spirit came, the work was carried on to completion. The work of creation did not end with the first day, but went on till it was finished on the sixth day. God did not say, I have made the light, and now I will leave the earth as it is; and when He had begun to divide the waters, and to separate the land from the sea, He did not say, Now I will have no more to do with the world. He did not take the newly fashioned earth in His hands, and fling it back into chaos; but He went on with His work until, on the seventh day, when it was completed, He rested from all His work. He will not leave unfinished the work which He has commenced in our souls. Where the Spirit of God has begun to move, He continues to move until the work is done; and He will not fail or turn aside until all is accomplished.1 [Note: C. H. Spurgeon.]

Burning our hearts out with longing

The daylight passed:

Millions and millions together,

The stars at last!

Purple the woods where the dewdrops,

Pearly and grey,

Wash in the cool from our faces

The flame of day.

Glory and shadow grow one in

The hazel wood:

Laughter and peace in the stillness

Together brood.

Hopes all unearthly are thronging

In hearts of earth:

Tongues of the starlight are calling

Our souls to birth.

Down from the heaven its secrets

Drop one by one;

Where time is for ever beginning

And time is done.

There light eternal is over

Chaos and night:

Singing with dawn lips for ever,

Let there be light!

There too for ever in twilight

Time slips away,

Closing in darkness and rapture

Its awful day.1 [Note: A. E., The Divine Vision, 20.]


Light out of Darkness

i. Darkness

Darkness was upon the face of the deep. The deep (Heb. tehm) is not here what the deep would denote to us, i.e. the sea, but the primitive undivided waters, the huge watery mass which the writer conceived as enveloping the chaotic earth. Milton (Paradise Lost, vii. 276 ff.) gives an excellent paraphrase

The Earth was formed, but, in the womb as yet

Of waters, embryon, immature, involved,

Appeared not; over all the face of Earth

Main ocean flowed.

The darkness which was upon the face of the deep is a type of the natural darkness of the fallen intellect that is ignorant of God, and has not the light of faith. Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people. Very often in Holy Scripture darkness is the symbol of sin, and the state of those who are separated from God. Satan is the prince of the power of darkness, while in God there is no darkness at all.

The intermixture in our life of the material and the spiritual has no more striking illustration than in the influence upon us of darkness. The power of darkness is a real power, and that apart from any theological considerations. The revolution of this planet on its axis, which for a certain number of hours out of the twenty-four shuts from us the light of day, has had in every age the profoundest effect on mans inner states. It has told enormously on his religion. It has created a vocabularya very sinister one. It lies at the origin of fear. It binds the reason and sets loose the Imagination. We are not the same at midnight as at midday. The child mind, and the savage mind, which is so closely akin to it, are reawakened in us. I do not believe in ghosts, said Fontenelle, but I am afraid of them. We can all feel with him there.1 [Note: J. Brierley, Life and the Ideal, 248.]

ii. Gods Word

1. And God said.This gives the keynote to the narrative, the burden ten times repeated, of this magnificent poem. To say is both to think and to will. In this speaking of God there is both the legislative power of His intelligence, and the executive power of His will; this one word dispels all notion of blind matter, and of brute fatalism; it reveals an enlightened Power, an intelligent and benevolent Thought, underlying all that is.

Says Carlyle: Man is properly an incarnated word; the word that he speaks is the man himself. In like manner, and with still more truth, might it be said of God that His Word is Himself; only Johns assertion is not that the Word is God, but that it was God, implying is of course.2 [Note: J. W., Letters of Yesterday, 48.]

2. And at the same time that this word, And God said, appears to us as the veritable truth of things, it also reveals to us their true value and legitimate use. Beautiful and beneficent as the work may be, its real worth is not in itself; it is in the thought and in the heart of the Author to whom it owes its existence. Whenever we stop short in the work itself, our enjoyment of it can only be superficial, and we are, through our ingratitude, on the road to an idolatry more or less gross. Our enjoyment is pure and perfect only when it results from the contact of our soul with the Author Himself. To form this bond is the true aim of Nature, as well as the proper destination of the life of man.

We read, God created; God made; God saw; God divided; God called; God set; God blessed; God formed; God planted; God took; God commanded; but the most frequent word here is God said. As elsewhere, He spake and it was done; He commanded the light to shine out of darkness; the worlds were framed by the Word of God; upholding all things by the word of His power. Gods word is then the one medium or link between Him and creation. The frequency with which it is repeated shows what stress God lays on it. Between the nothing and the somethingnon-existence and creationthere intervenes only the wordit needed only the word, no more; but after that many other agencies come insecond causes, natural laws and processesall evolving the great original fiat. When the Son of God was here it was thus He acted. He spake: Lazarus, come forth; Young man, arise; Damsel, arise; Be opened, and it was done. The Word was still the medium. It is so now. He speaks to us (1) in Creation, (2) in the Word, (3) in Providence, (4) by His Sabbaths.1 [Note: Horatius Bonar.]

3. This word, And God said, further reveals the personality of God. Behind this veil of the visible universe which dazzles me, behind these blind forces of which the play at times terror-strikes me, behind this regularity of seasons and this fixedness of laws, which almost compel me to recognize in all things only the march of a fixed Fate, this word, And God said, unveils to me an Arm of might, an Eye which sees, a Heart full of benevolence which is seeking me, a Person who loves me. This ray of light which, as it strikes upon my retina, paints there with perfect accuracy, upon a surface of the size of a centime, a landscape of many miles in extentHe it is who commanded it to shine.

Be kind to our darkness, O Fashioner, dwelling in light,

And feeding the lamps of the sky;

Look down upon this one, and let it be sweet in Thy sight

I pray Thee, to-night.

O watch whom Thou madest to dwell on its soil, Thou Most High!

For this is a world full of sorrow (there may be but one);

Keep watch oer its dust, else Thy children for aye are undone,

For this is a world where we die.2 [Note: Jean Ingelow.]

iii. Light

1. Let there be light.The mention of this Divine command is sufficient to make the reader understand that this element, which was an object of worship to so many Oriental nations, is neither an eternal principle nor the product of blind force, but the work of a free and intelligent will. It is this same thought that is expressed in the division of the work of Creation into six days and six nights. The Creation is thus represented under the image of a week of work, during which an active and intelligent workman pursues his task, through a series of phases, graduated with skill and calculated with certainty, in view of an end definitely conceived from the first.

Let there be light. This is at once the motto and the condition of all progress that is worthy of the name. From chaos into order, from slumber into wakefulness, from torpor into the glow of lifeyes, and from strength to strength; it has been a condition of progress that there should be light. God saw the light, that it was good.

2. The Bible is not a handbook of science, and it matters little to us whether its narrative concerning the origin of the world meets the approval of the learned or not. The truths which it enfolds are such as science can neither displace nor disprove, and which, despite the strides which we have made, are yet as important to mankind as on the day when first they were proclaimed. Over the portal that leads to the sanctuary of Israels faith is written, in characters that cannot be effaced, the truth which has been the hope and stay of the human race, the source of all its bliss and inspiration, the fountain light of all our day, the master light of all our seeing; it is the truth that there is a central light in the universe, a power that in the past has wrought with wisdom and purposive intelligence the order and harmony of this world of matter, and has shed abroad in the human heart the creative spark which shall some day make aglow this mundane sphere with the warmth and radiance of justice, truth, and loving-kindness. Let there be light: and there was light.

Let me recall to your remembrance the solemnity and magnificence with which the power of God in the creation of the universe is depicted; and here I cannot possibly overlook that passage of the sacred historian, which has been so frequently commended, in which the importance of the circumstance and the greatness of the idea (the human mind cannot, indeed, well conceive a greater) are no less remarkable than the expressive brevity and simplicity of the language:And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. The more words you would accumulate upon this thought, the more you would detract from the sublimity of it; for the understanding quickly comprehends the Divine Power from the effect, and perhaps most completely when it is not attempted to be explained; the perception in that case is the more vivid, inasmuch as it seems to proceed from the proper action and energy of the mind itself. The prophets have also depicted the same conception in poetical language, and with no less force and magnificence of expression. The whole creation is summoned forth to celebrate the praise of the Almighty

Let them praise the name of Jehovah;

For He commanded, and they were created.

And in another place

For He spoke, and it was;

He commanded, and it stood fast.1 [Note: R. Lowth, Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, 176.]

3. In creation it was the drawing near of God, and the utterance of His word, that dispersed the darkness. In the Incarnation, the Eternal Word, without whom was not anything made that was made, drew nigh to the fallen world darkened by sin. He came as the Light of the world, and His coming dispersed the darkness. On the first Christmas night this effect of the Incarnation was symbolized when to the shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. The message to the shepherds was a call to them and to the world, Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Thirty years ago last December I went to a place where they practised cannibalism, and before I left those people to go to New Guinea, and start a mission there, so completely were idolatry and cannibalism swept away that a gentleman who tried to get an idol to bring as a curiosity to this country could not find one; they had all been burnt, or disposed of to other travellers. I saw these people myself leaving their cannibalism and their idolatry, and building themselves tolerably good houses. We had our institutions among them, and I had the honour of training a number of young men as native pastors and pioneer teachers. What is the use of talking to me of failure? I have myself baptized more than five thousand of these young peopledoes that look like failure? In thirteen or fourteen years these men were building houses and churches for themselves, and attending schools, and, if you have read the mission reports, you will know that some of them have gone forth as teachers to New Guinea, and across New Caledonia, and some of the islands of the New Hebrides. The people, too, have been contributing handsomely to the support of the London Missionary Society, for the purpose of sending the Gospel, as they say, to the people beyond. They have seen what a blessing it has been, and their grand idea is to hand it on to those who are still in heathen darkness.1 [Note: S. McFarlane.]

Meet is the gift we offer here to Thee,

Father of all, as falls the dewy night;

Thine own most precious gift we bringthe light

Whereby mankind Thy other bounties see.

Thou art the Light indeed; on our dull eyes

And on our inmost souls Thy rays are poured;

To Thee we light our lamps: receive them, Lord,

Filled with the oil of peace and sacrifice.2 [Note: Prudentius, translated by R. Martin Pope.]


Banks (L. A.), The Worlds Childhood, 13, 25.

Bellew (J. C. M.), Sermons, iii. 241.

Burrell (D. J.), The Golden Passional, 110.

Cohen (O. J.), in Sermons by American Rabbis, 158.

Evans (R. W.), Parochial Sermons, 237.

Fuller (M.), The Lords Day, 1.

Hutton (R. E.), The Crown of Christ, i. 445.

John (Griffith), A Voice from China, 123.

Jowett (B.), Sermons on Faith and Doctrine, 282.

Kemble (C.), Memorials of a Closed Ministry, i. 1.

MCheyne (R. M.), Additional Remains, 88.

Macleod (D.), Christ and Society, 243.

Matheson (G.), Leaves for Quiet Hours, 159.

Matheson (G.), Voices of the Spirit, 1.

Sale (S.), in Sermons by American Rabbis, 114.

Spurgeon (C. H.), Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, lv. No. 3134.

Stanley (A. P.), Church Sermons, i. 171.

Thomas (J.), Sermons (Myrtle Street Pulpit), ii. 293.

Thorne (H.), Notable Sayings of the Great Teacher, 246.

Vaughan (J.), Sermons (Brighton Pulpit), xix. (1881) No. 1166.

Christian World Pulpit, xxxviii. 331 (White); lxv. 145 (Davidson)

Church Pulpit Year Book, vi. (1909) 42.

Fuente: The Great Texts of the Bible

without: Job 26:7, Isa 45:18, Jer 4:23, Nah 2:10

Spirit: Job 26:14, Psa 33:6, Psa 104:30, Isa 40:12-14

Reciprocal: Job 12:24 – in a wilderness Job 26:13 – his spirit Job 38:9 – thick Job 41:32 – deep Psa 104:6 – General Psa 148:5 – for he Jam 1:17 – from the

Fuente: The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Gen 1:2. The earth When first called into existence, was without form and void: confusion and emptiness, as the same original words are rendered, Isa 34:11. It was without order, beauty, or even use, in its present state, and was surrounded on all sides with thick darkness, through the gloom of which there was not one ray of light to penetrate not even so much as to render the darkness visible.

The Spirit of God moved, &c. To cherish, quicken, and dispose them to the production of the things afterward mentioned. The Hebrew word here rendered moved, is used, Deu 32:11, of the eagle fluttering over her young, and of fowls brooding over their eggs and young ones, to warm and cherish them: but, we must remember, that the expression, as here used, is purely metaphorical, and must not be considered as conveying any ideas that are unworthy of the infinite and spiritual nature of the Holy Ghost.

Fuente: Joseph Bensons Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1:2 And the earth was {b} without form, and void; and {c} darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God {d} moved upon the face of the waters.

(b) As an unformed lump and without any creature in it: for the waters covered everything.

(c) Darkness covered the deep waters, for the waters covered everything.

(d) He maintained this disordered mass by his secret power.

Fuente: Geneva Bible Notes

2. Conditions at the time of creation 1:2

Gen 1:2 probably describes what we now call the earth before God created it. Here "earth" refers to the whole planet, though the same English word also refers to the earth and the heavens (when combined with "heaven," Gen 1:1), and to dry land (Gen 1:10).

". . . no clear biblical text testifies to the origins of chaos or of the Serpent, nor to the reason for their existence." [Note: Bruce K. Waltke, An Old Testament Theology, p. 181.]

"Deep" (tahom) describes the world. In the Old Testament tahom refers to the ocean, which the ancient world regarded as symbolic of chaos and evil that needed overcoming and which Yahweh overcame. However its use in the Pentateuch helps us understand the writer’s intent in using this term here.

". . . he calls the global ocean (the ’deep’) in Gen 1:2 a ’desert.’ This is not apparent in the English translation ’formless,’ but the NASB notes it in the margin as a ’wasteland.’ . . . Moses uses this term (Deu 32:10) to describe the desert wasteland where Israel wandered for forty years. Why call an ocean a desert? What better way to teach the people that the God who will lead them out of the wilderness and give them the promised land is the same God who once prepared the land for them by dividing the waters and producing the ’dry land’? The God of the Pentateuch is One who leads his people from the wasteland to the promised land." [Note: Sailhamer, "Exegetical Notes . . .," pp. 80-81.]

Some scholars believe that references to the Spirit of God in the Old Testament indicate the power or influence of God, not the third person of the Trinity. Some conservative scholars believe that, though the Spirit was really the third person of the Trinity, people living during the Old Testament period did not associate the Spirit with God Himself. They thought of the Spirit as a power or influence of God. However there are several indications in the Old Testament that informed Israelites identified the Spirit as God (cf. Gen 1:2; 2Ki 2:9; Psa 104:30; Eze 3:12-14; Eze 11:1; Zec 4:6). [Note: See Leon J. Wood, The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, and idem, The Prophets of Israel, pp. 85-87.]

"Waters" is also capable of being interpreted the same way as "deep." It probably refers to what covered the earth, but it also suggests chaos.

Here we learn that the earth was "formless and empty" (a hendiadys meaning unorganized, unproductive, and uninhabited) before God graciously prepared it for human habitation (cf. Jer 4:23-27). A hendiadys is a figure of speech in which the writer expresses a single complex idea by joining two substantives with "and" rather than by using an adjective and a substantive.

Moses pictured the Spirit as a wind-the words are identical in Hebrew-moving over the unorganized creation. As God did His work of creating by means of His Spirit, so believers are to do our work by His Spirit (Zec 4:6; Romans 8; Eph 5:18).

"Hitherto all is static, lifeless, immobile. Motion, which is the essential element in change, originates with God’s dynamic presence." [Note: Nahum Sarna, Understanding Genesis, p. 7.]

Gen 1:2 seems to me to describe conditions that existed before God created the earth. Whereas Gen 1:1 explains the creation of the universe, Gen 1:2 pictures its pre-creation condition. Gen 1:3-31 explain the process of creation by which God formed what was formless and filled what was void.

There are two basic theories of the creation process that have grown out of interpretations of Gen 1:2.

The gap theory

Statement: The classic statement of this theory contains the following ideas, though there have been many variations on this theory.

1.    There is an indefinite time gap (hence the name of the theory) between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2.

2.    Gen 1:1 reveals the creation of a perfect heaven and earth very different from what we see around us now.

3.    A preadamic race of humans inhabited this original creation.

4.    Lucifer (unfallen Satan), whose "headquarters" was in the Garden of Eden, ruled over this race of people.

5.    When Lucifer rebelled-many advocates see this in Isaiah 14 and or Ezekiel 28 -sin entered the world.

6.    Part of God’s judgment of this rebellion was the destruction of the earth with a flood (in Noah’s day) followed by a global ice age, which accounts for the fossils. [Note: For a creationist explanation of the ice ages, see Ken Ham, Andrew Snelling, and Carl Wieland, The Answers Book, pp. 12-13, 77-87.]

History: This is a very old theory that certain early Jewish writers and some church fathers held. Thomas Chalmers promoted it in 1814. [Note: See his Daily Scripture Readings, 1:1.] Chalmers’ purpose was to harmonize Scripture with Scripture, not Scripture with science. [Note: Waltke, Creation and . . ., p. 20.] Darwin’s Origin of Species first appeared in 1859, but Chalmers published his theory in 1814. Franz Delitzsch supported it in 1899. [Note: Franz Delitzsch, A System of Biblical Psychology, p. 74-76.] G. H. Pember’s book Earth’s Ancient Ages (1907) gave further impetus to this view. Many Christian geologists favored the view because they saw in it "an easy explanation for the fossil strata." [Note: John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, The Genesis Flood, p. 92.] Harry Rimmer supported it [Note: Modern Science and the Genesis Record, 1941.] as did Arthur W. Pink. [Note: Gleanings in Genesis, 1922 ] L. S. Chafer held it [Note: Systematic Theology, 1947-48, 6:67.] but did not emphasize it. Arthur Custance is one writer who has defended it fairly recently. [Note: Without Form and Void, 1970.]

Arguments and Responses:

1.    The first word in Gen 1:2 (Heb. waw, "and") is a conjunction that indicates consecutive occurrences. (This verbal form, by the way, is the basic characteristic of narrative in the Hebrew Bible. [Note: Longman and Dillard, p. 54.] ) It introduces something that happened after what precedes. Response. The verb tense and word order in this sentence do not permit this use of this conjunction (Gen 1:1-2). Rather here, as is normal, the conjunction indicates a break in the consecutive order of events and introduces a circumstantial (independent) clause (Gen 1:2) that describes something in a preceding clause (Gen 1:1). This is a waw disjunctive, not a waw consecutive. A better translation of the waw would be "now." In short, the Hebrew grammar does not support a chronological gap between Gen 1:1-2.


2.    The verb (hayata, "was") can and should read "became." The translators have rendered it this way in many other places in the Old Testament. Response. This is a legitimate translation, but "became" is not always the best translation (cf. Jon 3:3; Zec 3:3). Here the translation should be "was."


3.    The chaos (tohu wa bohu, "waste and void," perhaps another hendiadys) describes an evil condition (cf. Isa 24:1; Isa 45:18; Jer 4:23). Response. This is usually the case, but not always (cf. Deu 32:10; Job 6:18; Job 12:24; Job 26:7; Psa 107:40). It is not so here.


4.    "Darkness" is a symbol of evil in Scripture (cf. 1Jn 1:5). This supports the badness of the condition that resulted from Satan’s rebellion. Response. This is true in some cases, but not always (cf. Psa 104:19-24). Furthermore evening was part of the days God declared good.


5.    The two primary words for "create" (bara and asah used respectively in Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:25) refer to two different kinds of creativity. Bara usually refers to primary creative activity. Since Moses used bara in Gen 1:1 this was the original creation and not just a general description of the process that follows (in Gen 1:3-5 or Gen 1:3-31). If Gen 1:1 was a general description he would have used asah since some of what God created in the six days He formed out of previously existing material (e.g., man and woman). Response. These two words are not so distinct. For example, Moses used bara of the creation of man out of previously existing material (Gen 1:27), and he used asah of the whole creation as the primary creative activity of God (Exo 20:11). Furthermore, he used bara of the creation of some animals (Gen 1:21) and asah of the creation of other animals (Gen 1:25). The real difference between these two words is that Moses used bara only of divine activity, and he used asah of both divine and human activities. [Note: See Thomas J. Finley, "Dimensions of the Hebrew Word for ’Create’ (bara)," Bibliotheca Sacra 148:592 (October-December 1991):409-23.] Thus, bara and asah are very close together in meaning. We should not distinguish them on the basis of bara describing primary creative activity and asah referring to the reforming of previously existing material.


6.    Adam was to "replenish" the earth (Gen 1:28, AV) implying a previous race. Response. The Hebrew word used means "fill," not "refill." Many modern English translations so render it.

Summary: Though many evangelicals still hold the gap theory, few Hebrew scholars do because the Hebrew grammar does not favor a chronologically sequential reading of Gen 1:1-2. Rather, Gen 1:2 in some way clarifies Gen 1:1. [Note: For a good explanation of the gap theory, as well as the atheistic evolution, theistic evolution, progressive creation, and fiat creation views, see James M. Boice, Genesis , 1:37-68. See also Henry M. Morris, "The Gap Theory," Creation Ex Nihilo 10:1 (December 1987-February 1988):35-37; and Ham, et al., pp. 16, 157-75.]

The no-gap theory

The crux of the Gen 1:2 interpretive problem lies in the identification of the chaos (tohu wa bohu, "formless and void") mentioned. There have been three primary views concerning the chaos referred to in this verse.

1. The chaos was a condition that resulted after God judged the earth that He had originally created good. [Note: Chalmers, Keil and Delitzsch, Pember, Scofield, Custance, et al., favored this interpretation.]

Explanation: Gen 1:1 refers to God’s original creation of the universe. Gen 1:2 is a reference to the form He gave it thereafter. Gen 1:3 refers to the beginning of the process of reforming the judged earth into the form in which we know it.

Vocabulary: We should translate the first word in the verse (waw) "and" or "then" (not preferable grammatically) and the verb (hayeta) "became" (possible but not preferable). We should interpret the chaos (tohu wa bohu) as an evil condition (not necessarily so).

Sequence: This interpretation permits, but does not require, a gap in time between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2.

2. The chaos was the condition that characterized the earth when God created it good. [Note: Luther; Young; Davis; Ross; J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come, p. 29; Mark F. Rooker, "Genesis 1:1-3: Creation or Re-Creation?" Bibliotheca Sacra 149:595 (July-September 1992):316-23; and 596 (October-December 1992):411-27; Targum Neofiti; et al.; favored this view. See Gary Anderson, "The Interpretation of Genesis l:1 in the Targums," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 52:1 (January 1990):23. The Targums are expanded translations of the Old Testament made during the Babylonian captivity in the Aramaic language.]

Explanation: Gen 1:1 states the creation of the universe as we know it, and it is a general statement of some kind. Gen 1:2 describes the earth at the time of its creation. Gen 1:3 describes God bringing order out of chaos, which continued through the six creative days.

Vocabulary: We should translate waw "now" (better) and hayeta "was" (also better). We should also take tohu wa bohu to mean either unformed or evil.

Sequence: This interpretation involves no gap in time between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2.

3. The chaos existed before God began creating the earth good. [Note: Bush; Waltke, Creation and . . .; idem, Genesis; Ross; Sailhamer, "Genesis;" et al.; advocated this view.]

Explanation: We should take Gen 1:1 the same as in view 2. Gen 1:2 describes conditions as they existed before creation. We should also take Gen 1:3 the same as in view 2.

Vocabulary: Advocates translate and interpret the key Hebrew words the same as in view 2.

Sequence: This interpretation involves no gap in time between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2.

". . . the disjuncture at Gen 1:2 is employed by the author to focus his creation account upon the land." [Note: Sailhamer, "Exegetical Notes . . .," p. 77.]

The more popular theory among evangelicals now is the no-gap theory in either one of the last two forms described above. Let me restate these last two views.

1. View 2 above: God created the earth in a formless and void state. He then proceeded to give it form and to fill it. [Note: Young, et al.]

"We would affirm that the first verse serves as a broad comprehensive statement of the fact of creation. Verse two describes the earth as it came from the hands of the Creator and as it existed at the time when God commanded the light to shine forth. The first recorded step in the process of fashioning the earth into the form in which it now appears was God’s remarkable utterance, ’Let there be light’ [Gen 1:3]." [Note: Ibid., p. 14.]

Problem: It seems unusual that God would create the earth formless and then form it. It seems more likely and consistent with His activity in Gen 1:3-31 that He would create it fully formed. [Note: Brevard S. Childs, Myth and Reality in the Old Testament, p. 30.]

Answer: The whole process of creation in Gen 1:3-31 is a movement from a more primitive to a more advanced stage of existence. I prefer this view.

2. View 3 above: Before God created the earth there was nothing where it now exists, and Gen 1:2 describes that nothingness. [Note: Waltke, et al.]

Problem: Some terms in Gen 1:2 (darkness, surface, deep, waters) imply that something existed at this time, suggesting some creative activity before Gen 1:3.

Answers: Gen 1:1 may be part of the first day of creation. Moses may have used these terms to describe, in terms that we can begin to understand (i.e., figurative terms), a condition that is entirely foreign and incomprehensible to us.

Fuente: Expository Notes of Dr. Constable (Old and New Testaments)