Genesis 1:2 Commentary

In Genesis 1:1, we were introduced to God, who in the beginning created His Heaven, space, and Earth. We found out that God exists and that various worldviews are contradicted outright by the very first words of Scripture. Continuing on to verse 2, the next complete thought (sentence) of Scripture, we find out more about both God and the world He created.

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2, NKJV

A great deal could be said about this verse, so I am going to be careful to stick to the verse and let it say what it was intended to say, explaining it with as much clarity as possible.

Remember in verse 1 that God created heavens and Earth. Nothing has been said about ordering the earth or populating the expanse today known as “space.” All of that is still to come!

The earth… From the Hebrew word ‘erets is “earth” translated here. It means “to be firm”:”(Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, a module for e-Sword.)”: in the sense of land, and so by earth we should understand it to mean the solids which make up our planet–the rock, minerals, dirt, and so on.

…earth was without form… Take a look at the earth as it is today. Land masses stand out from the seas, various types of rock are layered within the crust… As your parents used to say about your room, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Our world has form today, but it has not always been so. Here, in its primeval form, the earth was without any form. Unassembled LEGO It could aptly be called a ginormous blob. All of its components were present, but they had yet to be arranged in any way.

The word “form” comes from the Hebrew toÌ‚huÌ‚, a rather colorful word which carries with it the idea of desolation or worthlessness.:”(Ibid.)”: The world at this state was unfinished and in its present state, it was worthless. It would only become of worth as God continued and finished His creative work.:”(Proponents of what is known as the “Divine Judgment” interpretation of Genesis 1:1,2 claim that the between the two verses God judged the world He had created in verse 1, making it “without form and void” as seen in verse 2. Isaiah 45:18 is used to corroborate this idea: “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited” [NKJV]. It is said that because God did not create the earth in vain but made it to be inhabited, then the formless, void world of Genesis 1:2 could not have been the world as God originally made it. Something must have happened to bring the earth into such a state. However, such an interpretation is not correct. The Lord certain did not create the world “in vain.” The creation process lasted six days, and at the end of the sixth day, the earth was very clearly “formed…to be inhabited.” There is no need to insert a divine judgment into Genesis 1:1,2. Such an interpretation very closely borders on adding to the words of the Bible.)”:

…and void… Not only was the earth formless, it was also void, empty of anything more than itself. There was no life on this earth. There were no remains of life. There were no structures, no plants. One could imagine a vast desert wasteland, but such an image would be inadequate, for even a desert has form, which this earth did not yet possess.

Earth at this point was raw materials, created in an instant solely to be formed into something more. I may be violating sola Scriptura a bit with this connection, but there is a remarkable parallel between Earth and man at this point. Mankind from birth is under the curse of sin, dead in it and devoid of God. The Lord created the earth, and it was “without form and void,” but He chose not to leave it that way. God creates us, and we are lost in sin. He chose not to leave me in that condition, stepping in and working in my life as He did the earth. What about you? Believe in Jesus Christ, and let Him perform a marvelous creative act within you!

…and darkness… In this short phrase, we have summed up for us the universe up until this point. We saw already that God created both Earth and the space which it occupies. This is the universe occupied by only one body: our planet.

Light nor any source thereof had yet to be created. There was darkness, and that darkness encompassed the planet, stretching without bounds in all directions.

…was upon the face of the deep. Here we first learn that not only did Earth possess its constituent solids (rocks, metals…), but it also included its supply of waters.

But the earth was without form. There were no defined land masses, no lakes, no rivers, no seas. The water and the earth were mixed together, allowing for heavier elements to sink to the center of the mass while the lighter elements remained closer to the surface. As God viewed this planet, it may have appeared to Him as a ball of moist clay, waiting to be crafted.

And the Spirit of God… This should not be understood, as some claim or translate, as a “wind” of God; air does not appear until later, when the heaven which is Earth’s atmosphere is made. Rather, this is the Spirit, one person of that Trinity which is Elohim. Here He is, present from the earliest stages of Earth’s history, and it is through His power and ability that the earth is created and formed.

This is the Spirit’s introduction to humanity, and as we will come to learn about the Spirit, it is no surprise that His introduction could seem like a passing thought. The Spirit of God was responsible for guiding the writing of the Bible, yet He is also immeasurably humble. He does not seek to draw attention to Himself but rather points humanity to the third of the Trinity: Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And so here it is, the Spirit’s introduction, but He chooses to virtually ignore Himself. What an exemplar of humility!

…was hovering over the face of the waters. The Spirit was occupying an area of space above the watery, murky, chaotic earth. He was in a position to observe, to guide, to act. Were we able to witness the event, what would the Spirit have appeared? Would He have been visible? Would He have appeared much like a human? Or would He appeared in a more abstract form, perhaps something similar to the Northern Lights?

It is impossible to tell. What is important is that God not only created the heavens and the earth, but He is fully capable of entering in upon that which He created. He is not an aloof deity who prefers the presence of mighty angels or other gods. God created all that there is, and He takes an interest in it, interacting with it as He desires.

It is uncertain what the Spirit was exactly doing as He hovered. Perhaps He was giving motion to the watery abyss below Him, stirring it up in preparation for structure and life. Perhaps He was enjoying the progress made thus far.

I am not certain. But what a glorious sight that would have been! Imagine — to be able to look up and see the Spirit of God hovering up over your neighborhood! Imagine the reaction! For such a spectacle, though, it comes as no surprise that, again, the Spirit is here acting at a time when no human existed to see the event. And because of that, all glory and honor and praise is free to go to God as a whole, rather than giving an unbalanced amount of devotion to the Holy Spirit.

And there you have it. This is a very deep verse and I could go on, but I feel as though I have covered the important bits well enough to be enjoyed by all. As always, your feedback is welcome.

In the next study, we’ll look at one of the most often used quotations from all of Scripture: “Let there be light!” Stay tuned!

Original post. I’m going to start migrating some of my old stuff over to here because I disabled comments on the archive site.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

the Rick Beckman archive
Scroll to Top