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Question and Answer

Who Spoke in the Garden?

Question:

Who spoke in the garden in the beginning? Was it Jesus, since he is defined as the Word, or was it God?

Answer:

This is an excellent question, and I hope this answer is helpful.

When we look at the whole of the Bible, we see that God’s revelation is progressive. Not everything is revealed all at once. Rather, we see in the Old Testament “shadows” of things to come, which are more fully revealed in the New Testament (Col. 2:17; Heb. 10:1).

The doctrine of the trinity is a good example of this. There are allusions to the trinity in the Old Testament (I’ll reference a couple of these in Genesis below). However, we don’t see the fullness of this doctrine until the New Testament and Jesus is introduced. After the coming of Christ, the New Testament authors often look back into the Old Testament and see Christ active as God before his incarnation.

Understanding how the New Testament works in this way, we can begin to answer your question as to whether or not Jesus is speaking in the beginning of Genesis. In both John 1 and Colossians 1, Jesus is spoken of as participating in God’s work of creation. John 1:3 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” Colossians 1:16 says, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” These two passages affirm the deity of Christ and his participation in God’s work of creation. When we look back at Genesis 1, we see allusions to the work of creation as being a work of the triune God. Specifically, there are references to the plurality of God (Gen. 1:26) and the presence of the Spirit (Gen. 1:2). All of this taken together enables us to say that God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was active in the creation of the world.

However, this is still a step short of answering the question of was it Jesus in particular whose voice was speaking in creation or to Adam and Eve in the garden. At this point there are going to be differences of opinion, and there is room for differences here. The Scriptures are not sufficiently clear for us to be able to answer this dogmatically. Some will fall on one side or the other of this question as they consider the whole testimony of the Bible. For myself, I hesitate to ascribe the voice of God in the Old Testament to just Jesus. We know God the Father speaks in the Gospels at both Jesus’ baptism and the transfiguration (Matt. 3:17, 17:5). It could be that the one speaking in the Old Testament is God the Father. Others, though, think the description of Jesus as the Word and as the revelation of God are good reasons for interpreting Jesus as the one speaking in the beginning of Genesis. My current view is that the voice is the united Godhead speaking. I definitely think the other views are possible, but the Bible isn’t clear enough for me to say with certainty that a particular Person of the trinity was speaking in the garden.

I hope this helps answer your question! Please feel free to follow-up on anything I said here.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

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