1:2 The earth . . . deep. The primordial earth is lightless and landless. Neither the origins of darkness and the abyss nor the origin of Satan (3:1–6) is explained in Genesis. Their beginnings are a mystery, but only God is eternal (Ps. 90:2; Prov. 8:22–31). In the new heaven and new earth there will be no sea or darkness (Rev. 21:1, 25).
earth was without form and void. This description signifies the as yet unordered or unfilled creation. Some view it as a negative threat of chaos that is overcome by God’s creative power.
Some suggest that vv. 1 and 2 refer to two separate creative acts separated by a span of time. They argue that the initial creation fell into a desolate condition (perhaps because of the fall of Satan), and that the Hebrew word here translated “was” should be rendered “became.” This view is very doubtful, however, because the proposed translation “became” is unlikely in this context, and because the description “without form and void” refers more naturally to a creation yet to be formed and filled, rather than to one that had fallen into disrepair.
Spirit of God. God’s Spirit gives life to all; when He withdraws His Spirit, life ceases. He continues to give life and to withdraw life (Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30; Eccl. 12:7; Luke 23:46). The Spirit also builds “temples”: the cosmos (Ps. 104:1–4); the tabernacle (Ex. 28:3; 35:31); Christ (Luke 1:35; cf. John 2:19); the church (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:22). See “The Holy Spirit”at John 14:26.
hovering over the . . . waters. Hovering eagle-like over the primordial abyss, the almighty Spirit makes the earth into a habitation for human beings.