The Bible begins with a simple but profound declaration of faith—in the beginning there was only God, nothing else. Everything else that comes to be comes as the result of the activity of God.
The name used in Genesis 1:1 is Elohim. In its context, it is a declaration that God alone is eternal. We can thus declare that nature is not eternal. It did not exist until God declared that it would exist. The evangelical church has long proclaimed its conviction that God created out of nothing ("ex nihilo") everything that is. This critical and fundamental premise of Scripture stands in sharp contrast to a humanistic evolutionary model, which ultimately ends up claiming that matter or the universe is infinitely old. In a humanistic system, the universe becomes godlike, creating life out of lifeless matter through some mindless, random system. In affirming that God alone is eternal and is the creator of all that exists, we find that Scripture gives ultimate dignity and meaning to human life and existence. We can know that life has meaning and purpose. If we are to discover that purpose, we must know the one who alone is eternal, our Creator. Further, it lays open the possibility that we can have eternal life. Mankind has always sought to find the secret to life after death, to eternal life. But it's no secret! Eternal life can only be found in relationship to God, who is eternal.
The name used for God in Genesis 1:1 is from the Hebrew Elohim. Elohim is the plural form of the simpler name El or Eloah (the root is debated by scholars). It is the name most frequently used for God in the Old Testament. The name El, probably means "first" as in "Lord," and indicates that God is the strong and mighty one. The singular name El is not often used alone in the Old Testament. El is most frequently found in compound names such as El Shaddai, or El Elyon.
There is some debate among scholars as to the significance in the use of the plural Elohim. Look, for example, at Genesis 1:26, where Elohim is used with the plural pronouns us and our: "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness …'"
Some Bible teachers argue that the use of the plural Elohim points to the triune nature of God. From the very beginning, God, who is eternal in His nature, has always been three in one. There's only one true God, but He manifests Himself in His plurality as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
We refer to this as the doctrine of the Trinity. The concept is found throughout Scripture. For example, we find Paul ending the second Corinthian letter with this benediction: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." In the glorious prayer that begins the Letter to the Ephesians (1:3-14) we find all three persons of the Godhead as they are related to our experience of salvation.
Although the concept of the triune nature of God is clearly taught throughout the Scriptures, the plural use of Elohim does not in and of itself confirm the existence of the Trinity. We can assert, however, that the plural Elohim allows for subsequent trinitarian revelation.
Other Bible teachers argue that the plural Elohim may have simply had an intensifying sense, indicating God's majesty in the fullness of His power. Thus, when Israel confessed the name Elohim, they were acknowledging that God contained within Himself all the divine attributes. It was a solemn confession that He alone is the one supreme and true God and that He is personally knowable. While it may be difficult to assert with full confidence that the plural was intended to point to the triune nature of God, we can be assured that both of these truths are taught within Scripture. Our God, the God of creation, is the one true God who contains within Himself all of divinity. To provide for our salvation, He has revealed Himself as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.