Even before leaving the first verse, a serious student of the Bible is confronted with a difficulty - unless he is willing to believe what the Bible consistently shows from the beginning to the end. The fourth word in the Bible is "God," Elohim in Hebrew. But that takes some explaining. Elohim is God - plural. "In the beginning Gods created the heaven and the earth." For an English-speaking person, this is confirmed in Genesis 1:26, where the translators finally used plural pronouns to conform to the plural noun antecedent, Elohim.
The translators recognized in verse 26 that Elohim - "God" - was speaking to somebody, and He was speaking to someone who was just like Him, which is why the word Us is used. They were forced into using a plural pronoun. "Let Us make man in Our image." In fact, Elohim is used 66 times in a row at the beginning of the Bible before any other Hebrew word is translated into the English "God." That occurs in Genesis 6:5 when finally another word is used for God.
Someone reading this beginning in Hebrew would have to be impressed that the author of this book was trying to get something across to the reader that "Gods" (plural) did everything - not an individual but a least two. Elohim is used in the Old Testament 2,570 times, and every usage is plural - "Gods."
As shown by this plurality, the God Family clearly consists of more than one Being, or more than one Person or Personality.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Nature of God: Elohim
The true God is the Author of the Bible, and He used His sovereign authority to determine the revelations it contains and the sequence in which they are given. Since Adam and Eve, believing in the existence of the true God and His Word has been the principal challenge affecting the quality of life mankind thinks it must have for happiness and prosperity. These beliefs have eluded human understanding—not because God has hidden Himself, but because men refuse to accept the clear evidence He provides in the creation.
Imagine that the Creator God sat us down in a room by ourselves and presented a short film summarizing the Bible's first ten chapters. What would we see? What would it teach us about His character, purpose, and plan?
Authors and filmmakers are creators in their own way. They prepare an outline, a story flow, they wish to follow either to entertain or to educate their readers or viewers. Have we ever wondered why God began the Bible as He did? Consider this simple overview as a factor of utmost importance to our well-being in relation to life's purposes.
Have we ever consciously noted that the Bible begins in Genesis 1 with God creating order from what appears to be the result of either a destruction of a previous system or an array of disparate parts, fashioning them into a form appropriate for His next step? Either way, as the story unfolds, the role He plays emerges. The primary point is virtually impossible to miss: Supreme order and direction in what He will reveal originates in and from Him. Though normally invisible to humanity, He is clearly in control, initiating what will happen and also continuing to completion what He began.
The orderly progression of time and activity continues as God arranges, piece by piece, the environment in which later events will take place. Created elements appear in a natural progression. First, there must be light. From this point on, everything coming into view is made new and in sparkling, showroom condition.
Last of all, the two humans are designed in the image of God Himself. They, Adam and Eve—who will set in motion the human side of the action—are created, given life, and presented gifts, which are examples of His grace: earth and all it contains for their use within the boundaries He set. They immediately begin to use what God freely gave them as gifts.
What has God chosen to show us thus far? First, He is the Author of all that is. Second, He brings order out of lifeless chaos. Third, perhaps our Lord's flesh-and-blood brother sums it up best in James 1:17-18:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
What has God revealed of Himself to this point without saying a word except for what He commanded to bring into existence? It is purposefully instructive.
Genesis 1 shows that He is a God of order and that He has a distinct purpose for each step He takes. He is a God of awesome powers, moving mountains, seas, rivers, valleys, and vast oceans of atmosphere into place. Greenery and animal life appear. Nothing happens randomly. Every step proceeds as He directs. He is in control as He purposefully establishes His sovereignty over everything He has brought into existence.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Leadership and Covenants (Part Ten)
God originally created the earth with such perfection and beauty that the angels shouted with joy! Our Creator does all things in an organized manner and completes all His works in exquisite splendor. But the earth had somehow become formless and chaotic so that God had to refashion it before man could be created.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Basic Doctrines: Satan's Origin and Destiny
In these ten words, he simply states that God created all that exists. At this point the four-dimensional space/time continuum (length, height, depth, and time), in which we all exist, was created. This was literally the very beginning of time and the beginning of matter, energy, atoms, molecules, light, heat, stars, galaxies, planets, the sun and moon as well as the terrestrial globe we call the earth. All the basic building blocks that needed to be created to prepare a planet upon which life could exist were made at this time.
What God does not tell us here is very important. He does not tell us when this creation took place. Nor does He tell us how He created these things. He does not tell us how long it took for Him to create everything included in Genesis 1:1. Because God does not answer any of these questions, we can only examine the physical evidence from geology and astronomy, and come to our own conclusions on these matters.
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Genesis 1: Fact or Fiction?
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Genesis 1:1: