The first verse in Genesis is foundational to this foundational chapter. Chapter one is also foundational to Genesis 1-11, which in turn is foundational to the rest of the Bible. I’m not trying to throw you a tongue twister. But . . . .
How one interprets this beginning statement/verse will affect one’s belief (or disbelief) in God. For if God created all things, He can also do all things.
Henry M. Morris breaks down each word in this foundational verse. The following is a summary from his book, The Genesis Record.
The Hebrew name Elohim—which is used throughout the first chapter—stresses God’s majesty and omnipotence. Elohim is a plural name, but used with a singular meaning here, a “uni-plural” noun, suggesting the uni-plurality of the Godhead (Trinity). God is one, yet more than one.
Bara means: only the work of God. Only an eternal, transcendent God can call into existence that which had no existence; the work of creation is God’s unique work (Rom. 4:17, Heb. 11:3). The only other alternative is to believe in eternal matter. But this violates the scientific law of cause and effect, since random particles of matter can’t—by themselves—form an orderly, complex, intelligible universe.
This word in Hebrew is shamayim. Like Elohim, it is a plural noun, and can be used either as “heaven” or “heavens”. It doesn’t mean the stars of heaven (Gen. 1:16), which were made on the fourth day of Creation Week and make up the “host” of heaven rather than heaven itself (Gen. 2:1) . . . . In context, this word most likely refers to our modern term space: a component of space in our space-mass-time universe (“outer space”, “inner space”, “atmospheric space”).
Originally the earth was formless (Gen. 1:2). The Hebrew word erets means “ground” or “land”. This also refers to the basic elements of matter, which would be organized into the structured earth and later into other material bodies (planets, stars, etc.). It can refer to either a portion of earth, or the earth material in general (e.g., “Let the earth bring forth grass” -Gen 1:11).
“In the beginning”
This notes the beginning of time. Morris paraphrases Gen. 1:1 as the following: “The transcendent, omnipotent Godhead called into existence the space-mass-time universe.” These three components— space, mass, time—work together in our space continuum. Morris makes an interesting analogy: “God’s creative activity resulting in a tri-universe strongly suggests the Trinity of the Godhead. Elohim – God is one, but more than one: a continuum in which each component is itself coexistent and coterminous with the whole. That is, the universe is not part space, part time, and part matter, but rather all space, all time, all matter, and so is a true tri-unity/Trinity.” (Also see John 1:1: Jesus, “the Word” transcends the universe and was active in the creation process.)
Our world is not a product of random chance, but the result of a purposeful, powerful, loving, orderly Creator: God (Elohim).
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1.