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THEOLOGY > God > Work of Creation > By His Word


God’s creative and omnipotent word brought matter, as well as space and time, into existence. In Genesis the text repeatedly affirms that “God said”—He spoke and it was done. “Creation by the word” (from the Latin: creatio per verbum) was the means by which God brought everything into existence. God’s voice is an omnipotent voice:

The voice of Yahweh is over the waters;
The God of glory thunders . . .
The voice of Yahweh is powerful;
The voice of Yahweh is full of majesty.
The voice of Yahweh breaks the cedars,
Yes, Yahweh splinters the cedars of Lebanon . . .
The voice of Yahweh divides the flames of fire.
The voice of Yahweh shakes the wilderness . . .
The voice of Yahweh makes the deer give birth (Ps. 29:3-9).

 It is this voice that spoke at Creation. To hear God’s Word is to respond with worship and to ascribe glory to Him who is glorious. The psalmist adds: “And in His temple everyone says, ‘Glory!’” (Ps. 29:9).

Creation was a declarative act, accomplished by an almighty fiat. Before God spoke there was nothing, only the Triune God (see: Before Creation). And because of God’s command where there was nothing something came to be, spoken into existence by God, who, when He spoke, became the Creator.

In connection with Creation two words, as mentioned above, that speak of command are repeated seven times in Genesis 1: “God said.” God’s voice revealed authority and capability; “The voice of the Lord is powerful” (Ps. 29:4). His voice must be obeyed. He does not command and it does not come to pass; He does not speak in vain. God spoke and:

* there was light (v. 3);

* there was an expanse (v. 6);

* continents and oceans appeared (v. 9);

* vegetation began (v. 11);

* lights in the expanse separated the day and night (v. 14);

* fish appeared in the seas and birds appeared in the sky (v. 20);

* and animals began to roam the earth (v. 24).

By His verbal commands God accomplished all of the various aspects of His creative work; He spoke and it was done, for His word is an all-powerful word with engendering force. His will was revealed in His word and His word was His deed. When God finished speaking, creation was complete.

Both major divisions of Scripture corroborate the relationship of God’s word to His work of Creation. The Old Testament states:

By the word of Yahweh the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. . . . For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Ps. 33:6, 9);

Let them praise the name of Yahweh, for He commanded and they were created (Ps. 148:5);

God assets through the prophet: “I have made the earth, and created man on it. I—My hands—stretched Out the heavens, and all their host I have commanded” (Isa. 45:12).

The New Testament is in agreement:

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God (Heb. 11:3);

For this they willfully forget that by the word of God the heavens were of old and the earth standing out of water and in the water (II Pet. 3:5).

Throughout Scripture there is united testimony to God’s creative speaking. “Without strain or fatigue He calls the whole world into existence by His word alone” (Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith, 132).

From Scripture we learn Who created, and we learn How He created; we know both the source of Creation (God) and the means of Creation (His Word).

“God said” denotes Mind. Mind speaks of intelligence, of plan, of purpose, of order; it indicates a living Reality, a living Being, a personal Being. Creation cannot be attributed to the impersonal, but finds its reality originating from and in the Personal; the cosmos did not appear because of some impersonal something, but came into being because of Someone. Someone spoke: “God said.” Before matter, there was Mind.

If Mind is not responsible for matter, then the inconceivable occurred: mind came from matter. But complexity is never established by simplicity. How can an animated mind be derived from inanimate matter? How can thinking be developed from non-thinking? How can self-consciousness and the ability for logical reasoning be attributed to lifeless matter? To predicate matter as the basis for mind is unreasonable; the very idea collapses when subjected to normal reflection, and upon profound reflection the concept becomes unimaginable. It must be that Mind is the explanation for matter. Irrationality cannot justify nor explicate rationality.

If Mind is responsible for matter, then one would expect to find in the created order reflections of Someone, the Mind, the God who created matter. And this is exactly what the Scriptures affirm: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1). Creation is a manifestation of the personal God who is responsible for its being; Creation affirms Mind by its very existence, displaying order, beauty, and symmetry—the glory of God.

Additionally, man’s mind is a reflection of the Mind that fashioned it, endowing it with intelligence and reasoning ability. Man comes from God, mind from Mind. The Scriptures do teach that man is made in the image of God (see: Image of God); therefore, man did not arise accidently from some primitive mixture that became the starting point for the impersonal process of evolution. Rather, the creature came from the Creator (see: Created by God and Creature).

“God said” denotes Will. Will speaks of freedom, of determination, of activity. An impersonal something cannot act, but Someone can act; Someone can will to act. Creation is a reflection of the Will that could act, that was free to act, and had the power to effect what the Will determined to be. “God said” is the indication of and manifestation of Will, the perfect and unchanging will of God. Because God wills, Creation is. Creation is what it is because of God’s will. No other explanation is really needed.

God did not speak only once; He spoke repeatedly. Creation was not a single event but a series of events lasting six days; Creation continued, intensified, and developed as God continued to speak. Seven times in Chapter One of Genesis it states: “God said.” The initial act is in verse one where matter was brought into existence; later speaking by God created light, the atmosphere, land and seas, vegetation, heavenly lights, fish, birds, animals, and finally man. Before the fish, God created the seas; and before the animals, God created vegetation. Though each act of Creation was a completed act, each act prepared for the next act. And all the acts constitute the week of Creation. At each stage in the Creation event, God said: “Let,” a word of command and an announcement of what instantly came to be.

Each act of Creation was a complete act, not a process, a Creation not an evolution. Though some have sought to interpret and translate Genesis 1:1 as a process (“When God began creating” or “In the beginning when God created”), the text will not allow such treatment. Keil and Delitzsch commented that the clause could not be treated as subordinate because such a translation would be opposed “to the grammar of the language” and “to the simplicity of style which pervades the whole chapter” (Commentary, vol. I, 46). They add that “this construction is invented for the simple purpose of getting rid of the doctrine of a creatio ex nihilo.”

The account in Genesis speaks of a completed event—this is not a possible interpretation; it is what verse one teaches. Genesis does not teach an evolution but an origination, an origination accomplished by an omnipotent word.

The Psalmist states: “For He spoke, and it was done” (Ps. 33:9). Note that the word, “done” is in italics, which means that it was not in the original Hebrew. The text should read” “For He spoke, and it was,” thus indicating the immediate completion of what God commanded.

In New Testament the statement, “All things were made through Him” (Jo. 1:3), the verb “made” is in the aorist tense, which denotes completed action. Thus, the New Testament confirms the Old Testament.

In response to “God said” the Bible reports: “and it was so” (Gen. 1:7, 9, 11, 15, 24, 30). Within these four words are several thoughts:

One, these words speak of accomplishment; what the mind of God willed to be came to be. His Word accomplished His Will, and in the deed His Word made visible His Mind. “It was so” reports God’s achievement; the words indicate the omnipotence of the One speaking. It is impossible for the Will of God not to come to pass.

Two, the phrase also indicates beginning, the beginning of everything. There was when the cosmos was not; God spoke; and “it was so,” simple words that mark the beginning of the created order, the commencing of the cosmos, also the commencement of time and space. Only God is without beginning (see: God is Eternal and In the Beginning).

Three, “and it was so” specifies finality. That which God determined to be came to be, and it came to be in the precise manner God willed it to be. There is a decisiveness and a definiteness about creation. He spoke and it was done. Within the command is the fulfillment of the command. Within the command is conclusion.

Where there was nothing there came to be something when God spoke.

To affirm that Creation was by His Word is to understand that ultimately Scripture is affirming the work of the Word in Creation. John teaches that “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made (1:3). John identifies the “Him” of verse three in verse one: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is the Word that “became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14). “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him” (1:10). In Colossians Paul refers to Him as “the image of the invisible God” and asserts that “by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible . . . . All things were created through Him” (1:15-16).

To affirm that Creation was by His Word is to affirm that Creation was a Trinitarian work. It was the work of the Godhead. It was the work of the Word. “His word of command which calls into being things that had no prior existence is the Word who was with God and is God (John 1:1 ff.)” (McKim, EDT, 281).

By the word of Yahweh the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Ps. 33:6-9).

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