The other day I was reading my Greek Old Testament (LXX) and I noticed an a similarity that I had never seen before. As we shall see in a moment, the way that the LXX describes the creation of the world in Genesis is strikingly similar to the way that Luke describes Jesus’ ministry in Acts.
Now perhaps I am making a mountain out of a mole-hill; perhaps I am finding too much significance in what is actually only coincidence. But, 2 Corinthians 5:17 does say that when we are saved we become a new creation; the word for “creation” that the Bible uses here, κτισις (ktisis), usually refers to God’s creation of the world (Mk10:6, 13:9, Rom1:20, 2Pet3:4, Rev3:14). So it seems to me that there is a natural connection between old/original creation and the new creation that is accomplished in Christ. Because of this, it seems perfectly natural to me that Jesus’ ministry would be described in similar terms to God’s first creation. Notice the parallel
Genesis 2:3—ἀπο παντων των ἐργων αυτου ὡν ἠρξατο ὁ θεος ποιησαι
Acts 1:1—περι παντων ὡν ἠρξατο ὁ Ἰησους ποιειν τε και διδασκειν
Genesis 2:3—from all his works that God began to do
Acts 1:1—about all that Jesus began to do and teach
For ease of comparison, I have highlighted the parallels in the English translation. The similarities are readily apparent, but I want to spend a little bit of time focussing on the differences (or apparent differences).
Firstly, notice that God is the subject of the main verb in Genesis, but Jesus is the subject of the main verb in Acts. There are those who would say that God and Jesus are different, that Jesus is not God. But when we consider this parallel in light of the whole Bible, we begin to see that Jesus and God are actually one and the same.
God did create the world; and yet scripture tells us that all things were made by Jesus (Jn1:3,10, Col1:16-17, Heb1:10-12). Jesus did do miracles and teach; and yet scripture says about Jesus, “they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matt1:23). Jesus is God; God is Jesus; “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2Cor5:19). When we come to Jesus for salvation, we are letting the one who made us in the first place remake us into something new.
Secondly, notice that the passage from Genesis mentions works, but the passage from Acts does not. Perhaps I am making much ado about nothing, but Ephesians 2:9 tells us that salvation in Christ is “not of works, lest any man should boast.” We can never ever work hard enough to earn our salvation. All our righteousnesses will always be filthy rags, apart from the grace of God.
The verse in Acts does not contain works, but that is not to say that there is no doing. Genesis 2:3 and Acts 1:1 both talk about what God/Jesus began to do. We as new creation, just like the cosmos as old creation, are a result of God’s work. We do not save ourselves, any more than the universe created itself. It is all the work of Christ. But notice that these verses talk about all that God began to do—this means that God starts things, but there is a continuation to the creation. If you have once believed on the Lord, you need to let him finish the work; after all, Jesus is not only the author of our faith, but the finisher of our faith as well.
Lastly, notice that Acts 2:3 does not stop with what Jesus began to do, but also includes what Jesus began to teach. This is a critical addition. When Jesus sent his disciples out to “into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature/κτισις/ktisis” (Mk16:15) Jesus told them to “teach all nations…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt28:19-20).
When God created the old creation, he gave Adam and Eve commands—commands that they ultimately disobeyed, plunging humanity and old creation into sin. But now God has began to do a new thing by saving us from sin; God not only commands us what to do, but he teaches us how to do them through the power of his Spirit (Jh14:26).
Jesus demonstrated matchless power whenever he made the original creation. But Jesus displayed just as much power a second time whenever he redeemed original creation by making repentant men and women into a new creation!