Finding the Trinity in Genesis 1

One of the core concepts in Lutheran and Reformed theology is the christocentricity of Scripture. When we say that the Bible is “christocentric,” we are stating that the entirety of Scripture, whether explicitly or through typology, points to Christ and His saving work. Jesus Himself said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” (John 5:39). We see images of Christ all throughout the Old Testament, with many of them occurring in the Pentateuch, or “Books of Moses.”

For example, Abraham’s offering of Isaac as a sacrifice to God (Genesis 22) is overflowing with imagery that points to the atonement of Christ. We also see a foreshadowing of Christ when Moses was instructed by God to set a bronze snake on a pole, so that the Israelites who looked upon it would not die (Numbers 21). These are some of the most apparent parallels to Christ found in the Old Testament. Just as the snake was lifted up on a pole, so was Jesus lifted up on the cross. All who looked to the bronze snake were spared their lives. All who look to Jesus as Savior will not perish, but have eternal life.

On the other hand, some of these undertones of christocentricity are harder to spot, buried deeper in the text, sometimes only apparent in the original Hebrew or the minor details. I think it’s worthwhile to take a look at the first few verses of the Bible, found in the first chapter of Genesis.
As a short introduction, let’s examine the Gospel of John 1:1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

In his gospel account, John refers to Jesus as the Word and the Light, among other names. John makes it clear that Jesus is the Word of the Father, existing from eternity. Now, take a look at John 1:3:

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John is stating that God the Father Almighty created all things through Jesus, a fact that we confess in the Nicene Creed. But what exactly does that mean? This becomes readily apparent when we examine Genesis 1:3:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

God spoke the universe into existence with His Word. Jesus is the Word of God. When God speaks, His words have supreme authority, having the power to create worlds and convert hearts. That same Word of God was manifest in the flesh as Jesus Christ, who delivered the gospel of God to the world. When God created, He did so through Jesus.
We shouldn’t forget the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Next we look at Genesis 1:2:

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, was present at creation as well. Even in the first chapter of the Bible, written long before the Trinity was even fully revealed to the world, we see the Triune God at work. We, of course, know that there is only one God. When the Hebrew word of Elohim (God) is used during the account of creation, and even throughout the Old Testament, the word used is a plural noun. There is one God speaking, but referring to Himself as us. All three persons of the Trinity were actively involved at the creation of the universe. We shouldn’t spend too much time trying to understand how the Trinity is possible. Even our best analogies and metaphors used to comprehend this doctrine end up bordering on heresy. Rather, we receive the Word of God in humble reverence, joyful that He has revealed this great mystery to us. And the Trinity is even found in the first verses of the Bible!
The Word of God, through which the world was created, is the same Word that now saves us.

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” —John 6:63