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Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
All Commentaries on Genesis 1:1 Go To Genesis 1

Thomas Aquinas

AD 1274
1) "Of time." Things are said to be created in the beginning of time, not as if the beginning of time were a measure of creation, but because together with time heaven and earth were created. 2) In the Son." In the Son by reason of wisdom, in order that, as it is said (Psalm 103:24), "Thou hast made all things in wisdom," it may be understood that God made all things in the beginning--that is, in the Son; according to the word of the Apostle (Colossians 1:16), "In Him"--the Son--"were created all things. 3) Before all things--Nothing is made except as it exists. But nothing exists of time except "now." Hence time cannot be made except according to some "now"; not because in the first "now" is time, but because from it time begins. God: That is to say the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Hebrew original has "Elohim," which may be rendered "Gods" or "Judges": Various languages have diverse modes of expression. So as by reason of the plurality of "supposita" the Greeks said "three hypostases," so also in Hebrew "Elohim" is in the plural. We, however, do not apply the plural either to "God" or to "substance," Though the name "God" signifies a being having Godhead, nevertheless the mode of signification is different. For the name "God" is used substantively; whereas "having Godhead" is used adjectively. Consequently, although there are "three having Godhead," it does not follow that there are three Gods. Created: To be created is, in a manner, to be made. Creation is not change, but is understood as first not existing at all, and afterwards as existing. The gloss has, "To create is to make something from nothing." To create belongs to God according to His being, that is, His essence, which is common to the three Persons of the whole Trinity. The angels were created at the same time as corporeal creatures. For the angels are part of the universe: they do not constitute a universe of themselves; but both they and corporeal natures unite in constituting one universe. At the same time the contrary is not to be deemed erroneous; especially on account of the opinion of Gregory Nazianzen. For Jerome says (In Ep. ad ***. i, 2): "Six thousand years of our time have not yet elapsed; yet how shall we measure the time, how shall we count the ages, in which the Angels, Thrones, Dominations, and the other orders served God?" Damascene also says (De Fide Orth. ii): "Some say that the angels were begotten before all creation; as Gregory the Theologian declares, He first of all devised the angelic and heavenly powers, and the devising was the making thereof." Heaven: According to Chrysostom (Hom. iii in Genes.), Moses prefaces his record by speaking of the works of God collectively, in the words, "In the beginning God created heaven and earth," and then proceeds to explain them part by part; in somewhat the same way as one might say: "This house was constructed by that builder," and then add: "First, he laid the foundations, then built the walls, and thirdly, put on the roof." In accepting this explanation we are, therefore, not bound to hold that a different heaven is spoken of in the words: "In the beginning God created heaven and earth," and when we read that the firmament was made on the second day. We may also say that the heaven recorded as created in the beginning is not the same as that made on the second day; and there are several senses in which this may be understood. Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. i, 9) that the heaven recorded as made on the first day is the formless spiritual nature, and that the heaven of the second day is the corporeal heaven. According to Bede (Hexaem. i) and Strabus, the heaven made on the first day is the eternal one, and the firmament made on the second day, the starry heaven. According to Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii) that of the first day was spherical in form and without stars, the same, in fact, that the philosophers speak of, calling it the ninth sphere, and the primary movable body that moves with diurnal movement: while by the firmament made on the second day he understands the starry heaven. According to another theory, touched upon by Augustine [Gen. ad lit. ii, 1] the heaven made on the first day was the starry heaven, and the firmament made on the second day was that region of the air where the clouds are collected, which is also called heaven, but equivocally. And to show that the word is here used in an equivocal sense, it is expressly said that "God called the firmament heaven"; just as in a preceding verse it said that "God called the light day" (since the word "day" is also used to denote a space of twenty-four hours). Other instances of a similar use occur, as pointed out by Rabbi Moses. Earth: The earth stands in relation to the heaven as the centre of a circle to its perimeter. But as one center may have many perimeters, so, though there is but one earth, there may be many heavens.
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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