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THEOLOGY > God > Work of Creation > Out of Nothing 


God’s declarative act exhibited the omnipotence of God, an omnipotence that brought something “out of nothing,” a “creation from nothing” (from the Latin: creatio ex nihilo). Nothing is “the absence of reality” (Erickson, CT, 396), a state of non-existence, for matter did not exist prior to Genesis 1:1. Matter was merely a thought in the mind of God, eternally in the mind of God; and God brought into existence that which was consistent with His Will and that which did not exist prior to His Word (see: By His Word).

Creation did not involve preexisting matter or material; God did not work in Genesis 1:1 with something that was already in existence, something that existed independently of Him. Nothing is nothing; it is not a something that was used by God. “You created all things” is the affirmation of Revelation 4:11; “all” simply means “all.” Where there was nothing there came to be something (matter) when God spoke (see: By His Word). God “brought forth from nothing this entire mass of our world” (Tertullian, Apologeticus, 17). God is the one who “calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Rom. 4:17; NASV: “calls into being that which does not exist”); and “the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3).

Creatio ex nihilo
is supported by the following considerations:

* The statements of Scripture (Ps. 33:9; Rom. 4:17; Heb. 11:3);

* There is no reference to, nor implication of, any preexisting matter that was used by God at the time of Creation;

* If there was a “something” that already existed and had eternally existed, then the denial of dualism by the Christian faith is improper;

* The natural reading assumes this to be the beginning of matter, which began when the heavens and the earth were created;

* The condition of the earth in verse 2 (“without form and void”) implies that matter had just been created;

* The creation of light (v. 3) implies that absolutely nothing had existed prior to 1:1;

* God is called Creator—He did not work with matter that previously existed but He created matter.

Creatio ex nihilo by God has several implications:

One, it establishes God as the Originator of all that is. There was a “time/point” when all that is did not exist: no time, no space, and no matter. But all of these things are now in existence, and they exist because they have been made to exist—called into existence or commanded into existence by God. All that exists has been made by Him (see: Possibilities Regarding Matter).

And all that is is independent of Him (outside of Him) and is not from Him, for God cannot be divided. He has no equal; no one or anything has eternally existed alongside God. So all that exists is over against him and is not to be identified with Him to any degree. Thus, dualism (belief in the eternal existence of mind/spirit/form/idea and matter) and pantheism (belief that spirit is immanent in matter) are denied, as well as the ancient idea that matter is an emanation of spirit or of the Supreme Being.

Two, because God originated all that is, all that is is dependent upon Him. All of Creation is contingent. Creation exists because God brought it into existence, and it continues to exist because God keeps it in existence (Heb. 1:3). He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 13) and “in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).

God alone is independent. He is dependent on no one and no thing. He only is necessary; He cannot not be, but Creation can cease to be. The only reason for the existence of anything is the good pleasure of God; He willed it to be. All that is was originally in His mind and came to be because of His purpose. He is Sovereign (see: God is Sovereign).

Three, all of Creation, and especially man, who is made in God’s image, have the significance and worth ascreibed to them by God who also gives to matter and man their existence. Would God create and His Creation have no purpose, no meaning? Would God create that which has no importance, no value? The worth of Creation resides in Who it is that created it (see: The Purpose of Creation), and the fact that it serves or fulfills the purpose of its Creator.

Four, there is a limitation that characterizes Creation. It will always be Creation and never be the Creator. Creation is fundamentally different from the Creator, and no creature can ever be equal to God, who is far above all Creation, separate from Creation and sovereign over Creation; He is truly transcendent.

Because of this inherent limitation on the part of Creation, it is unacceptable to recognize or worship any part of Creation (animate or inanimate) as God. All of Creation is less than God, and no part of Creation should be viewed as God or as a god.

Return to Work of Creation; Next Article: Possibilities Regarding Matter 

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