God and The Spirit of God

Lesson on Genesis 1:2

Early in the Bible, we are introduced to the Spirit of God (Genesis 1:2). We are told that God created the heavens and the earth, and then we are told that the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Clearly, God and the Spirit of God are related, but they are not the same. We can make a distinction between one and the other.

What is the Spirit of God doing in Genesis 1? It is unlikely that the Spirit of God is casually hovering over the waters without any purpose. The presence of the Spirit of God in Genesis 1 makes the Spirit of God immediately relevant to the account of creation. It would even seem as if the Spirit of God is waiting for God’s next act.

God then commands that there be light, and light is immediately formed (verse 3). But why does God speak? Is there any relevance to God speaking? Could not God bring light into existence by simply thinking about it? The role of God’s word during creation is an important topic in the rest of Bible (Psalm 33:6; John 1:1-3).

Interestingly, Psalm 33:6 not only indicates that God made the heavens by His word, but also by means of His breath. This word, breath, is the same word translated Spirit in Gneesis 1:2. Could it be that Psalm 33:6 is telling us that the Spirit of God was participating in creation?

As I read Genesis 1 and wonder what the Spirit of God is doing, it seems to me that the most logical conclusion is that the Spirit of God is present to follow God’s directives. God is directing the Spirit of God on what to do, and the Spirit of God is responding by doing what God directs Him to do.

If this is so, verse 6 and verse 7 introduce an interesting possibility. In verse 6, God directs the Spirit of God to make a firmament; and in verse 7, God creates the firmament. If the Spirit of God is following God’s directives, why then does God Himself make the firmament? I think it is because verse 7 is calling the Spirit of God God.

The Spirit of God, though distinguished from God, is related to God: He proceeds from God as breath proceeds from a man. Moreover, the Spirit of God can move: He can hover like a dove. The Spirit of God can also be directed by God through His word, and the Spirit of God responds to God’s instructions. Consequently, the Spirit of God appears to be a person who is a part of God Himself.  It is not surprising, therefore, that verse 7 would call Him God.

Thus, the Spirit of God is not only God’s power; He is not only God’s breath. The Spirit of God is a person who is a part of God Himself and who is therefore rightly called God.

Questions for Reflection

Do you agree that the Spirit of God can be distinguished from God Himself?

If the word for spirit and the word for breath are the same in Hebrew, could Genesis 1:2 simply be talking about the breath of God? Why or why not?

Why would the Bible tell us that the Spirit (or breath) of God was hovering over the surface of the waters? What is the Bible trying to say about the Spirit of God?

Do you think it makes sense that the Spirit of God is responding to God’s directives in Genesis 1? If He is not responding to God’s directives, what do you think He is doing?

Sample Prayer

Lord God, you are great and wonderful! Human beings cannot comprehend everything about you; your greatness exceeds our understanding. However, I can trust in your word; I can trust in what you say about yourself. Before you I bow and worship, Lord; I recognize that the Holy Spirit proceeds from you and is a part of you. Amen.


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©2018, Marcelo E. Carcach. All rights reserved.

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