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Genesis 1:1 is

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

But there's no mention of God creating angels. What are the main arguments that angels were or were not already created at Genesis 1:1?

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  • can you clarify denomination?
    – depperm
    Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 17:12
  • @depperm Thanks for this - modified to 'what are the main arguments for'. Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 17:18
  • @depperm Are you aware of any denominations or prominent thinkers who hold they didn't already exist at Gen 1:1? Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 18:29
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    Who says they already existed at that point? Biblical Basis questions need to identify clearly who teaches the idea in question.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 22:25
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    @OneGodtheFather You need to demonstrate that some denomination or prominent individual teaches it in order to ask the question. I would expect that most denominations either say angels weren't created before Genesis 1:1, or say that Genesis 1:1 is ahistorical/mythical so the question doesn't make sense.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 10, 2022 at 22:37

2 Answers 2

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Did angels already exist at Genesis 1:1?

Scriptures do not specifically say when God created the angels, it seems that it was sometime before the world was created. Whether this was the day before, or a thousand years before, we can not say with any certitude.

We do know that God created the angels before He created the physical universe. The book of Job describes the angels worshiping God as He was creating the world: "Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" ( Job 38:4-7).

If we consider the function of angels, we might conclude that God created the angels just prior to the creation of mankind because one of their duties is to be "ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). We also know they existed prior to the garden of Eden, because Satan, who was formerly the angel Lucifer, was already present in the garden in his fallen state. However, because another function of angels is to worship God around His throne (Revelation 5:11-14), they may have been in existence millions of years—as we reckon time—before God created the world, worshiping Him and serving Him.

When did God create the angels?

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Psalm 148:1-5 seems to indicate that angels were created:

Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.

Job 38:4-7 seems to indicate that the angels were already around when the foundations of the earth were laid (assuming "sons of God" refers to angels):

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 

Exodus 20:11 seems to indicate that not only the heavens and earth but all that is in them were created in the 6 Genesis days:

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Of course it is possible that Exodus refers to the physical heavens, thus denoting stars, sun, moon, birds, etc, as "all that is in them". If this is the case then Genesis 1:1 might be referring to the physical heavens as well and if that is the case, then angelic beings are already in existence at Genesis 1:1 but have no heaven to populate. This would place angels as inhabiting eternity (more on that later).

There are those who infer an intermediary and indeterminate time period, called the Gap Theory, during or prior to verse 2 of Genesis 1 wherein the earth was "formless and void" prior to it's "foundations being laid" beginning somewhere between verses 3 and 9. Angels may have been created during this period, according to this theory. This has varying amounts of traction theologically but it requires at least some of the first verses of Genesis to fall outside of the "6 days of creation" which elsewhere in Scripture seems to encompass the whole of everything.

Evidence is scanty but seems to point to angelic beings having been created at some point prior to the "foundations of the earth being laid". Whether this is prior to, during, or after Genesis 1:1, when the heavens were created, is not overtly stated.

I think the most natural reading, in the face of what few direct Scriptures we have concerning the creation of angels, is that the Genesis 1:1 includes the physical and metaphysical heavens and that angelic beings are also included within that creation.

"In the beginning God created the heaven (lofty things) and the earth (firm things)"

In other words, God created heaven and the angels and the earth all in what is called "day 1" with Psalms and Job showing that angels were before the foundation of earth by some unspecified time. Regardless of whether Day 1 is taken as 24 hours or something more, prior to Genesis 1:1 (whatever that means) there were no angels.

As much as Scripture places God's throne in heaven he is actually said to inhabit eternity which should be understood as outside of creation and Genesis 1:1 (hence "in the beginning God"):

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. - Isaiah 57:15

No angel (that I have seen) is ever said to inhabit eternity, relegating them to the realm of the created.

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    In the beginning God created the heavens (plural) and the earth (see Young's Literal, for example). Thus 'heavens' would include the invisible principalities and powers, and also the visible heavens which, physically, represent that unseen element of God's wondrous creation : thus the first and second heavens, the third being the dwelling of God himself, above all. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 19:26

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