Re: Summary: Something from Nothing

From: David Moore (
Date: Mon Feb 19 1996 - 11:43:31 EST

On Mon, 12 Feb 1996, Will Wagers wrote:

> >Is it Christian thought that Jesus created the world from nothing ? (Jn 1:1)
> The references kindly provided me by the list were 2 Mc 7:28, Rm 4:17, Hb 11:3.
> As I understand them, these passages refer more to things which occur during
> ordinary, natural changes, e.g. embryonic development, or to things which are
> predicted by faith, but still occur through apparently natural mechanisms, e.g.
> floods.

        Will's statement, "As I understand them...," may betray a flaw in
his methodology in considering what Scripture says on this point. If we
are to understand the meaning of passages like Rom. 4:17 and Heb. 11:3, it
is important that we not force their meaning into a late 20th-Century
mindset, but that we seek to understand how a 1st-Century believer - and
in Paul's case a witness to the resurrected Christ - would understand
these statements.

>Making the dead live in Rm 4:17 refers to God's ability to animate with
> the spark of life, rather than to creating from non-existent material. In other
> words, "things not seen" seems to refer to things not *fore*seen, to things not
> observed during development, and/or to things being formed of other materials,
> e.g. man from dust. So, "things" seem to refer to formed, temporal objects and
> not to the materials (matter) from which they are made, e.g. no one suggests
> that floods are not made from water nor babies from food. It is God's presumed
> role in commonplace, but little-understood, natural events which is alluded to.
> It is the spiritual process, rather than the material element, which is of
> concern.

        I would suggest that what Paul was saying in Rom. 4:17 is a
statement that is true in more than one sense. God gives life to the dead
both in the sense that He animates with spiritual life those who are
spiritually dead and also as He gave Abraham a legitimate heir when he was
as good as dead in that respect (cf. v. 19). Also, the resurrection of
Christ from the dead cannot be absent from Paul's thoughts in saying that
God gives life to the dead.

        In the statment about God's calling into existence things that did
not exist, a similar dynamic is at work. God promised Abraham an heir
when he had none and had no natural hope of having one. Although the heir
did not exist, God, miraculously brought Isaac into existence by making
his conception possible. But Paul sees this as characteristic of a God
who, at the beginning called into being things that did not exist. Our
understanding of the Creation should not be dictated here by the details
of the conception of Isaac. Paul is simply saying that God is not limited
to natural means in accomplishing His will.
> No one commented on the creation in Jn 1:1 which refers to the logos as an
> essential ingredient, but not as the only one.

        It appears that Carl is right that some discussion of Jn. 1:1
seems to be a monthly requirement on b-greek. I would point out that
most exegetes would disagree with Will in his maintaining that Jn.1:1 is
referring to the Logos as an ingredient of the creation (Cf. Col. 1:15-19).

David L. Moore Southeastern Spanish District
Miami, Florida of the Assemblies of God Department of Education

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