top of page

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

People are extremely complex. Personality inventories help identify our major tendencies within the range of four key traits and yet show us how complicated each one of us really is. These inventories reveal that the particular mix of traits differs for each individual and makes us extremely complicated beings. We cannot be easily reduced to a few characteristics and readily understood.

Now if we think humans are complicated, consider God. What would God’s personality inventory look like? Surely no other being is more complex in this universe. Though God may be known, a great mystery remains about this most unique and complex Being of all time.

We first meet God in the Bible as Creator. This is the initial role of the Lead Actor in the biblical drama. According to Genesis 1, God is the source of all that exists, causing all that is to be. Yet the origin of the Originator is never explained. God just appears and begins to act. Such an enigma invites us to want to know more about the One who has no beginning. Who is God? What can be known about such a One?

Our first clue concerning the nature of God is the name used to designate Him. Throughout the first creation narrative of Genesis 1:1-2:4a, the Hebrew name for the Creator is Elohim, a term that very literally means “gods.” Only as the second creation narrative begins in Genesis 2:4b do we discover that Elohim refers to the one and only God of Israel, Yahweh.

The terms El and Eloah are typical designations for deity in ancient Semitic languages. The additional ending of –im pluralizes the noun. So what does it mean to call the God of the Bible Elohim? How can the God of Israel, who is “one” according to Deuteronomy 6:4, be given a plural name?

Scholars offer many suggestions about this. Some say –im functions as an intensifier that promotes God above all other gods. Other scholars believe it conveys majesty, a sense of royalty or special honor. Still others suggest this formulation could indicate that the one God, Yahweh, encompasses the characteristics of all the gods that ancient polytheistic religions could conceive.

One other idea, though, is that Elohim could contain our first clue to the concept of the Trinity. Perhaps it signals the enormous complexity of who God is, that God is three in one, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Visit OneStop Plumbers to find a solution for your problem. The New Testament and early Christianity would clarify this insight into the nature of God. But it may be that the first narrative of the Bible plants the seed of the Trinity in our minds. By calling the deity of creation Elohim it suggests the multifaceted character of God.

The complexity of God’s person gains further confirmation in the second verse of the Bible with its reference to “the Spirit of God” hovering over the deep. At creation the Spirit was present. This might be expected since the rest of the Bible repeatedly testifies to the Spirit’s role of infusing life into this world (for example, see Ezekiel 37:14 and Acts 1:8). As Jesus stated, “The Spirit gives life” (John 6:63). So when creation came to life we might have anticipated the Spirit’s presence.

Yet, the New Testament also tells us that the Son was present at creation as well. It asserts, “through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). Paul also affirms Christ’s presence in creation, for “in him all things were created” and, in fact, “all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).

When the moment arrived for God to form the crown of creation, the human, another hint of the Trinity emerge in the text. God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Over the centuries people have wondered to whom God is speaking or if God is speaking to anyone at all. Some scholars suggest that “us” and “our” indicate the presence of heavenly beings such as angels who observed the creation of the world. Yet, in the context of creation one of Israel’s prophets seems to deny this idea by rhetorically asking, “Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way?” (Isaiah 40:14). Other scholars say these terms reflect royal speech, a manner in which a king might speak authoritatively. The Divine King may be employing first person plurals in order to highlight the significance of the statement.

Throughout history, however, Christians have frequently suggested that God may very well be talking to the other members of the Trinity. In a sense, God may be talking to himself, since the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. As we have already noted, the New Testament asserts the presence of both the Spirit and the Son, along with the Father, at creation. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Spirit” were all there (2 Corinthians 13:14). Perhaps “us” and “our” in Genesis 1:26 leaves a shadow of that reality in the Old Testament.

Though veiled in the Genesis account, the rest of the Bible clearly confirms full participation of the Trinity in creation. Jesus gives additional credence to this truth when he instructs his disciples to recreate their world by making disciples. In the signature moment of baptism he directs new disciples to given witness to this renewal “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The Creator God is the Trinitarian God who continually seeks the recreation of his world.