How Many Persons Created the Heavens and the Earth?
It is commonly believed that the One who speaks as the Creator of all things in Isaiah chapters 44 and 45 is the triune God consisting of three Persons. The language of Isaiah 44:24 cannot possibly be reconciled with the popular idea: “Thus says the Lord (Yahweh) your Redeemer who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the Lord who made all things, who stretched out the heavens alone, who spread out the earth. Who was with me?’” (RV)
The implied answer is, of course, that no one was present with the one Lord in the act of creation. Yahweh stretched out the heavens alone. The Hebrew word rendered “alone” means “in a state of separation, by one’s self” (Brown, Driver and Briggs, Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 94). No one assisted God, the Father at the creation. Moreover, the Creator is one Person, not three: “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10). Nowhere does the Old Testament speak of a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead.
Elsewhere in the Old Testament it is said: “You, God, even You alone, You have made the heaven...the earth and all things” (2 Kings 19:15). “You are the Lord, even You alone; You have made the heaven, the earth and all things” (Neh. 9:6). The Lord God is always distinguished from the promised Messiah. They are never said to be members of one Godhead.
This simple information should prevent us from ever believing that Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, was present with the Father when the latter created the heavens and the earth. The idea that Jesus actually created the heavens and earth of Genesis 1:1 has been promoted by the Worldwide Church of God. Their teaching was that there are two members in the one “God-family.” Isaiah 44:24 (cited above) clearly states that ONE person alone created the heavens and the earth. Language has no way of expressing this more distinctly.
Trinitarians hold that the second member of the triune God was instrumental in the creation of Genesis 1:1. This, however, contradicts the statement that the one Creator was the Father (Malachi 2:10, cited above).
When Jesus came into being at his birth he enjoyed a unique communion with his Father. Thus he says, “I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (John 16:32). Jesus always speaks as a person distinct from his Father, exactly as every son is an individual separate from his father. The personal “I” of the New Testament never refers to the Father and Son together. So also in the Old Testament the personal “I” refers to one Person, not three.
Jesus prays that the disciples may be “one even as we [the Father and I] are one” (John 17:11). This is a unity of purpose and will. Jesus prays also: “May they [the disciples] all be one as You, Father, are in me and I in You, so that they may also be in us” (John 17:21).
It is obvious from these texts that the Father and Son use the ordinary personal pronouns to distinguish themselves as any father and son would. It is thus beyond question that Jesus was not with the Father when the latter described His act of creation: “Thus says the Lord [Yahweh], your Redeemer...I am the Lord who made all things, who stretched out the heavens by myself...Who was with me?” (Isa. 44:24).
Jesus did not exist as a person when the Lord God created all things. God, the Father, was alone responsible for the creation of the universe. (The “us” of Gen. 1:26, in connection with the creation of man, probably refers to attendant angels, cp. Job 38:7.) Most believers in the Trinity no longer use Genesis 1:26 as a proof of the triune God.
Jesus came into being as the Son of God when Mary conceived him supernaturally. Luke is careful to tell us that it was because of the miraculous conception in Mary’s womb, not because of any so-called “eternal generation,” that Jesus was the Son of God: “Holy Spirit will come upon you [Mary] and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and for that reason the child conceived will be holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
If God, the Father (the Lord, Yahweh of the Old Testament) was alone the author of the creation, why does the belief that Jesus was an active agent in the creation persist?
The answer is that two creations have become confused in the minds of Bible readers. Jesus is indeed the mediator of the New Creation (Col. 1:15-18). But he is not the creator of the universe. That creation is the work of the One God, the Father who acted alone when He stretched forth the heavens and the earth (Isa. 44:24).
Unfortunately, one or two verses in the New Testament have been translated to give the impression that all things were made “by” Jesus. In fact the original states that all things were made “through” Jesus (see Col. 1:16; NIV, NLT, RSV, and NAS margin note have “in him” or “through him,” not “by him”).
Jesus was indeed the reason for God’s creation. The Father “foreknew” him from the beginning (1 Pet. 1:20). In God’s great purpose Jesus was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). But he came into existence as the Son of God at his conception (Luke 1:35). There is no biblical text to support the idea that the Son of God was alive before his conception (though a few verses in John’s gospel have been used to support the idea).
When Jesus prayed to receive the glory which he had with the Father before the foundation of the world, he was asking for the glory which had been reserved for him and which he would receive after his resurrection (John 17:5). Peter speaks of an inheritance which is “reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4). That inheritance is, of course, the earth which Jesus has promised to the meek (Matt. 5:5) and which he will give them when he returns to establish the Kingdom of God. The same glory which was planned for Jesus from the beginning had also been given already (John 17:22) to the disciples, even those not yet born! (John 17:20). This glory is a glory which all disciples “have” even though they have not yet received it. Similarly Jesus “had” glory laid up for him with the Father long before his birth. In John 17 he prays to receive it.
Isaiah 44:24 should settle forever the question about who created the universe, and Hebrews 1:10 should be read with careful attention to the fact that the writer says he is speaking there of the inhabited earth to come (i.e., of the future): “God did not subject to angels the world to come of which we are speaking” (Heb. 2:5).
There is no contradiction between the two Testaments on this issue. Jesus will indeed be instrumental in laying the foundations of the coming new heavens and earth (Isa. 51:16). But the original creation is the work of the One God, the Father, alone (Isa. 44:24).
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