Where does the Bible actually begin? In terms of time order, John 1:1, and not Genesis 1:1 as many assume. Here is an explanation from the late Herbert W. Armstrong:
If one should ask, where do you find the actual beginning of events in the Bible, most who possess even a slight knowledge of the world’s “best seller” would say, “Why in Genesis chapter one verse one, of course.” WRONG!
The real beginning, in order of time sequence, is found in the New Testament, in the first chapter of John, verse one. The events portrayed in Genesis occurred later – possibly even millions of years later. But the event recorded in John 1:1 reveals an existence perhaps long prior to the time God created the earth and the material universe. Note it: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” It continues, “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” The term “all things” is translated in Hebrews 1:3, in the Moffatt translation, as “the UNIVERSE.” The entire UNIVERSE was made by Him!
The fourteenth verse of John 1 says: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” The Personage called the Word was the one who ultimately-yet more than 1900 years ago-was born Jesus Christ. The name, “the Word,” is translated from the original Greek text, and means, literally, just what is translated into English -”Spokesman.” But He was not the Son of God “in the beginning.” Yet the Scriptures reveal that He has always existed, and always will – “from eternity to eternity.” He was “without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life . . .” (Heb. 7:3).
So think on this, if you will! Originally there existed only these two Spirit Personages, self-existent. They had creative powers – they had perfect supreme minds – they possessed perfect, holy and righteous CHARACTER.
But THERE WAS NONE ELSE – NOTHING ELSE! There was no matter – no material universe – YET! No other living being or thing. Only these two, equal in mind and powers, except that God was supreme in authority, and the Word in perfect harmony under that authority. They were of one mind, in absolute agreement.
But ALL THINGS – the universe and everything existing in it – was made by the Personage called the Word. Yet, as we read in Ephesians 3:9: “God. . . created ALL THINGS by Jesus Christ.” And prior to becoming Jesus Christ, He was “the Word!” Also, in His human life Jesus said He spoke only as the Father directed. Yes. THINK!
In the eternity even prior to “prehistory” there were these two Supreme Beings. Alone! In the emptiness of space! No other life forms – no other living beings! Nothing else!…
The Perfect Creation
The original Hebrew words (the words originally written by Moses) imply a perfect creation. God reveals Himself as Creator of perfection, light, and beauty. Every reference in the Bible describes the condition of any completed phase of God’s creation as “very good” – perfect. This first verse of the Bible actually speaks of the original PHYSICAL creation in its entirety – the universe – including the earth, perhaps millions of years ago – as a perfect creation, beautiful and perfect as far as its creation was a finished, completed work. God is a perfectionist!In Job 38:4,7, God is speaking specifically of the creation of this earth. He said all the angels (created “sons of God”) shouted for joy at the creation of the earth. This reveals that angels were created before the creation of the earth – and probably before the material universe.
The suns, planets, and astral bodies are material substance. Angels are individually created Spirit beings, composed solely of Spirit. It will come as a surprise to many to learn that angels inhabited this earth BEFORE the creation of man. This passage from Job implies it.
Angels on Earth Sinned
Other passages place angels on earth prior to man. Notice II Peter 2:4-6. First in time order were “angels that sinned.” Next in time sequence, the antediluvian world beginning with Adam, carrying through to the Flood. After that, Sodom and Gomorrah.This Book of books, containing the revealed knowledge of the Creator God, tells us that God created angels as composed of Spirit. But can you imagine angels becoming sinning angels? Angels were created with power of thought, of decision and of choice, else they have no individuality or character. Since sin is the transgression of God’s law, these angels rebelled against God’s law, the basis of God’s government.Notice carefully what is revealed in II Peter 2:4-5:
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.
These verses show that universal sin brings universal destruction to the physical earth. The antediluvian sin, culminating with the flood, was worldwide, universal sin. Notice: “…the earth was filled with violence …. for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth …. for the earth is filled with violence.” (Gen.6:1 1-13). “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the [Eternal]…. Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (verses 8-9). All flesh had sinned – over the whole earth. But only Noah “walked with God.” So, the Flood destroyed the whole earth – all but Noah and his family.The homosexual and other sins of Sodom and Gomorrah spread over the territory of those two cities. And physical destruction came to their entire area. The sin of the angels was worldwide; the destruction of the physical earth was worldwide. The verses quoted above place the sinning of the angels prior to the antediluvian sins that started with Adam, prior to the creation of man. And that should be a surprise revealing of one phase of the missing dimension in knowledge! Angels inhabited this earth before the creation of man. And the government of God was administered on earth until the rebellion of the sinning angels.
How long these angels inhabited the earth before the creation of man is not revealed. It might have been millions – or even billions – of years. More on that later. But these angels sinned. Sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). And God’s law is the basis of God’s government. So we know these angels, apparently a third of all the angels (Rev. 12:4), sinned – rebelled against the government of God. And sin carries penalties. The penalty for the sin of the angels is not death, as it is for man. Angels are Immortal Spirit beings and cannot die. These Spirit beings had been given dominion over the PHYSICAL EARTH as a possession and an abode. The universal, worldwide sin of the angels resulted in the physical destruction of the face of the earth…
Now back to Genesis 1: 1-2. Verse 1, as stated above, implies a perfect creation. God is the author of life, of beauty, of perfection. Satan has brought only darkness, ugliness, imperfection, violence. Verse 1 shows the creation of a perfect earth, glorious and beautiful. Verse 2 reveals the result of the sin of the angels.
“And the earth was [became] without form, and void.” The words “without form and void” are translated from the Hebrew tohu and bohu. A better translation is “waste and empty” or chaotic and in confusion.” The word “was” is elsewhere in Genesis translated “became,” as in Genesis 19:26. In other words, the earth, originally created perfect and beautiful, had now become chaotic, waste, and empty, like our moon, except its surface was covered with water.
David was inspired to reveal how God renewed the face of the earth: “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth” (Ps. 104:30).
Now another surprise for most readers. Here is another bit of the missing dimension in knowledge, actually revealed in the Bible, but unrecognized by religion, by science, and by higher education. From verse 2 of Genesis 1 on, the remainder of this first chapter of the Bible is not describing the original creation of the earth. But it is describing a renewing of the face of the earth, after it had become waste and empty as a result of the sin of the angels.
What is described from verse 2 on, in the supposed “Creation chapter” of the Bible, did occur, according to the Bible, approximately 6,000 years ago. But that could have been millions or trillions of years after the actual creation of the earth described in verse 1! I will comment later on the length of time it might have taken before all earth’s angels turned to rebellion.
The earth had become waste and empty. God did not create it waste and empty, or in confusion. God is not the author of confusion (I Cor.14:33). This same Hebrew word – tohu – meaning waste and empty, was inspired in Isaiah 45:18, where it is translated “in vain.” Using the original Hebrew word, as originally inspired, it reads: “For thus saith the [Eternal] that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain [tohu], he formed it to be inhabited.”
Continue now with the remainder of verse 2 (Gen. 1) (the earth had become chaotic, waste, and empty): “And darkness was upon the face of the deep [the ocean or fluid surface of the earth]. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness” (verses 2-4).
Satan is the author of darkness. The rebellion of the angels had caused the darkness. God is the author of light and truth. Light displays and enhances beauty, and also exposes evil. Darkness hides both. The verses which follow in this first chapter of the Bible describe the renewing of the face of the earth, yielding beautiful lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetation – then the creation of fish and fowl, animal life, and finally man. (Armstrong HW. Incredible Human Potential, 1978)
So, yes God and the Word existed from the beginning and before anything else was made (John 1:1).
And while there was a creation in Genesis 1:1, there was a gap between that and the recreation that was needed in Genesis 1:2. Thus, this explanation (which, in my view, is the one that bests agrees with the records, despite flaws, of science) is commonly referred to as the gap theory. And yes, I hold to it (see How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation? ).
Some articles of possibly related interest may include:
Is God’s Existence Logical? Some say it is not logical to believe in God. Is that true?
Is Evolution Probable or Impossible or Is God’s Existence Logical? Part II This short article clearly answers what ‘pseudo-scientists’ refuse to acknowledge.
How Old is the Earth and How Long Were the Days of Creation? Does the Bible allow for the creation of the universe and earth billions of years ago? Why do some believe they are no older than 6,000 years old? What is the gap theory? Where the days of creation in Genesis 1:3 through 2:3 24 hours long?
Where Did God Come From? Any ideas? And how has God been able to exist? Who is God?
How is God Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient? Here is a biblical article which answers what many really wonder about it.
Has time been lost? It Saturday the seventh day of the week?
What is the Meaning of Life? Who does God say is happy? What is your ultimate destiny? Do you really know? Does God actually have a plan for YOU personally?