The Creation (Genesis 1:1-3)


Verse 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. By the heavens some would say the third heaven, the heaven of heavens, the habitation of God, of the holy angels this being made perfect at once, no mention after is made of it, as of the earth; and it is supposed that the angels were at this time created, since they were present at the laying of the foundation of the earth, Job 38:6 but rather the lower and visible heavens are meant, the first heaven the blue sky, the second heaven the black space, that is, the substance of them; as yet being imperfect and unadorned; the expanse not yet made, or the ether and air not yet stretched out nor any light placed in them or adorned with the sun, moon, stars: the earth is to be understood, not of that properly so called, as separated from the waters, the dry land afterwards made to appear but the whole earth and water before their separation and when in their unformed and unadorned state described in the next verse these words represent the visible heavens and earth, first brought into being by almighty power.

Verse 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. It was not in the form it now is, otherwise it must have a form; it was a fluid matter, the watery parts were not separated from the earthy ones; it was not put into the form of a terraqueous globe it is now, the sea apart, and the earth by itself, but were mixed and blended together; it was, as both the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase it, a waste and desert, empty and destitute of both men and beasts; and it may be added, of fishes and fowls, and also of trees, herbs, and plants. It was a chaos and an indigested mass of matter; and makes a chaos first to exist, and then the wide extended earth; and this is agreeably to the notion of various nations. Some make a chaos to be the beginning of all things, out of which the immaterial being God made all things that consist of matter. Others, had an opinion that thought the system of the universe had but one form; the heaven and earth, and the nature of them, being mixed and blended.

Verse 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. This phrase is used, nine times in this account of the creation; it is admired by Longinus the Heathen in his treatise of the Sublime, as a noble instance of it; and it is most beautifully paraphrased and explained in Psalm 33:6 as expressive of the will, power, authority, efficacy of the divine Being; whose word is clothed with power and who can do and does whatever he will; his orders are always obeyed. Perhaps the divine Person speaking here is Logos or Word of God, which was in the beginning with God, and was God, and who himself is the light that lightens every creature. The words spoke were let there be light and there was light: it at once appeared; God commanded light to shine out of darkness; the apostle says, 2 Corinthians 4:6 this was the first thing made out of the dark chaos; as in the new creation, or work of grace in the heart, light is the first thing produced there: what this light was is not easy to say. Some of the Jews and also some Christians, think the angels are designed by it.

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