Yesterday my family and I considered the eternity of God in our after breakfast Bible reading time. I understand God’s eternity as His being everlasting or without beginning and end. However the book that my family and I are using in our family reading, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Zondervan, 1994), understands its to include His being timeless or without succession of time as well as His being everlasting. Here I’ll share why Grudem views God as being timeless and then explain why I disagree with that view.
That God is everlasting or without beginning or end is affirmed or suggested in the Bible by such passages as:
– “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are good” (Psalm 90:2, ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV).
– “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8; Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet).
Grudem claims that according to physics matter, time, and space must all occur together and thus that time didn’t begin until God created the universe. He goes on to assert that God’s being everlasting and time’s not beginning until God created the universe means that God has no succession of time. Thus God stands above time and is able to see past, present, and future simultaneously. In other words, God is timeless.
However the Bible shows God’s acting within time and acting differently at different points in time in such passages as these:
– “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
– “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
Thus the Bible pictures God as being everlasting and acting within time rather than as being everlasting and timeless. For a fuller explanation of how God is eternal, see my February 23 post, “From Everlasting to Everlasting, Thou Art God.”