“Every word of the God-breathed character of Scripture is meaningless if Holy Scripture is not understood as the witness concerning Christ.”
~ G.C. Berkower
All Scripture finds its organic center and unity in Jesus.
For this reason, the biblical narrative has its beginning in the creation of the universe through Christ, its middle in the earthly life and ministry of Christ, and its end in the reconciliation of all things in Christ.
There’s an overarching unity to both Testaments. And Christ is the unifying agent.
Part of that statement is not entirely accurate. While Genesis begins the scriptural narrative at the point of creation, the Second Testament tells us that the narrative actually begins somewhere else.
The Jesus story doesn’t begin in Bethlehem, Nazareth, or even Israel. According to the Second Testament (that is, the New Testament), it begins long before them. It begins in the dateless past, before angels or atoms.
In chapter 1 of my new book with Leonard Sweet, Jesus: A Theography, we narrate the Jesus story as it happened before creation and get a breathtaking glimpse of the preincarnate Christ—the eternal Son, the preexistent Word, Jesus before time, Christ before creation.
The Second Testament contains numerous texts that give us insight into Christ before time. And the First Testament (that is, the Old Testament) supports those texts.
Considering Jesus before the world began is mind-boggling. We feel we are fumbling in the dark, groping for words to express the inexpressible.
It’s impossible to find adequate language for what happened before creation. Taken literally, before creation is unintelligible because there is no such thing as a “before” or an “after” until there is a creation. According to Einstein’s physics, time doesn’t exist without mass and matter.
Time, therefore, begins with creation.
So on a literal basis, phrases like time before time or before creation are nonsensical. They only make sense when we see them as intuitively graspable metaphors. When we talk about what God was doing before creation, it’s impossible to avoid language that sounds as though we are talking about a time before time.
Nonetheless, we will use these metaphors because Scripture uses them. The phrases “before the foundation of the world” and “before the world began” are used frequently in the Second Testament.
Both First and Second Testaments speak much about God’s eternality.
It has been said that a student once asked Martin Luther, “What was God doing before He created the world?” Luther responded, “He went into the woods and cut rods with which to punish good-for-nothing questioners!”
John Calvin reportedly responded to the same question: “God was not idle but was creating hell for curious questioners!”
While we respect Luther and Calvin, we don’t agree with those sentiments toward this question. What happened before God created the world is critical. And it is for that reason that the Scriptures are not silent on the matter.
As Paul put it: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
What God was doing before creation belongs to the unseen and eternal. And Paul exhorted the Corinthians to fix their eyes on those eternal intangibles.
In that connection, let’s explore what Jesus Christ was doing before the foundation of the world. You will be pleased to discover that it has a great deal of application for your life today . . .
This is an excerpt from, Jesus: A Theography, Chapter 1, which releases today – October 2, 2012. The endnotes, which are quite detailed, are not included in this excerpt. Jesus: A Theography tells the story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation, beginning in eternity when “in the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).