Does Genesis 1:1 say there was nothing except God before the beginning?


Here's another question and it may seem silly but all I want is you to answer it in the best way you can. Genesis 1:1 "in the beginning there was nothing except God." or "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (different versions of the Bible) and I am confused about this and I think I may have asked you this before. I am confused because I cannot figure out, no matter how hard I think about it, if it was the beginning of everything and there was absolutely nothing but God than how was God there?! I don't know if I am explaining this well, but I just want an answer!


"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

This is the correct translation of the Hebrew. I don't know of any translation that says "In the beginning there was nothing except God." If such exists, it would be a interpretation or a paraphrase, but not what the Bible actually says.

Genesis 1:1 uses a special Hebrew word for "created." It is a word that is only used in connection with God. The word bara means to make something from nothing, to create something that never existed before. It is used sparingly through the Bible. In Genesis 1:1 is used to state that God created time ("in the beginning"), space ("the heavens"), and matter ("the earth"). These things did not exist prior to the beginning. In the making of light it says that God separated the light from the dark. Since light was made from existing material, the word bara was not used. The word bara is not used again until Genesis 1:21 when God created fish and birds. This was a new creation because life did not exist prior to this. In biblical terms, plants are not living as moving creatures are living. Yet when God made the land animals, bara was not used as this wasn't something new. Life was created the day before. Land creatures were a continuation of the previous day's creation. However, bara was used again Genesis 1:27 in the creation of man. In particular, the verse is discussing that man was created in the image of God. Again this is something brand new, without prior existence.

The word "heavens" means "expanse" and the Bible uses it to refer to three different expanses:

  1. It can refer to the region where birds fly, which we call the sky or the atmosphere (Jeremiah 4:24).
  2. It can refer to the region occupied by the planets and stars, which we call outer space (Isaiah 13:10).
  3. And it can refer to the region where God dwells and has His throne (Hebrews 9:24). That is why you find Paul mentioning a man caught up into the third heaven (II Corinthians 12:2), he is referring to going to where God dwells.

If we understand that God created the heavens refers to the first two realms, the sky and outer space, then we see that God also created the concept of space (or dimensions) at this point. He also created the earth, but the next verse mentions it was without form, so we know that "earth" isn't referring to the planet. It is suggested that it is referring to matter in general before God formed it into various things. So in this first verse God has created times, space, and matter -- the foundational building blocks of our universe.

There is nothing implied in this verse that God necessarily created His own home (the third heaven) at the same time. The physical realm that we occupy was created by God, but nothing is said about the spiritual realm in this verse.