Genesis 1:1 Commentary - Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsGen 1:1. In the beginning — That is, of this material, visible, and temporal world, (which was not without beginning, as many of the ancient heathen philosophers supposed,) and of time with relation to all visible beings. The creation of the spiritual, invisible, and eternal world, whether inhabited by the holy or fallen angels, is not here included or noticed. God — The Hebrew word אלהיםElohim, here and elsewhere translated God, has been considered by many learned men as signifying God in covenant, being derived from the word אלהAlah, he sware, or bound himself by an oath. It is in the plural number, and must often, of necessity, be understood as having a plural meaning in the Holy Scriptures, being a name sometimes given to the false gods of the heathen, who were many, and to angels and magistrates, who are also occasionally called elohim, gods. When intended, as here, of the one living and true God, which it generally is, it has, with great reason, been thought by most Christian divines to imply a plurality of persons or subsistences in the Godhead, and the rather, as many other parts of the inspired writings attest that there is such a plurality, comprehending the Father, the Word, or Son, and the Holy Spirit, and that all these divine persons equally concurred in the creation of the world. Of these things we shall meet with abundant proof in going through this sacred volume Created — That is, brought into being, gave existence to what had no existence before, either as to matter or form; both making the substance of which the different parts of the universe were formed, and giving them the particular forms which they at present bear. How astonishing is the power that could produce such a world out of nothing! What an object for adoration and praise; and what a foundation for confidence and hope have we in this wonderful Being, who thus calls things that are not as though they were! The heaven and the earth — Here named by way of anticipation, and spoken of more particularly afterward.
The aerial and starry heavens can only be included here. For what is termed by St. Paul the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 12., the place where the pure in heart shall see God, and which is the peculiar residence of the blessed angels, was evidently formed before, (see Job 38:6-7,) but how long before, who can say?
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Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Joseph Benson was one of the most eminent and influential Methodist ministers in England after the death of John Wesley. The Methodist Conference requested that he write a commentary and after nearly a decade of work, the commentary was complete. The Methodist Conference officially endorsed the work. The commentary is mostly expositional with some exegetical comments with Hebrew/Greek analysis.
Joseph Benson (1749–1821) was an English Methodist minister and theologian, and an early leader in the Methodist movement. He was appointed classical master at Kingswood School in Bristol in 1766 and head of Trevecca College.