Hebrews 11:3 instructs us that through faith we can understand that the worlds were created by the word of God. The basic concept is not new to Scripture, but an in depth word study reveals that the language prefigures a knowledge of relativity and quantum mechanics with precision. Furthermore, the description given in verse 3 implies that faith plays an essential role in these processes.
This article will strive to accomplish two things. It will first show that Hebrews 11:3 gives a description of reality that prefigures both quantum mechanics and relativity and grounds these in the utterances of a self-existent, infinite-personal God. It will then show how this truth grounds faith as essential to the Christian life. Below is the verse as it normally reads in English
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. - Hebrews 11:3 KJV
This analysis will involve an analysis of the words in the original Greek by which this verse was composed1. Below is the same passage with Strong's numbering
Through faithG4102 we understandG3539 that theG3588 worldsG165 were framedG2675 by the wordG4487 of God,G2316 so that things which are seenG991 were notG3361 madeG1096 ofG1537 things which do appear.G5316- Hebrews 11:3 KJV
The word translated 'worlds' is (G165 αἰών aio¯n ahee-ohn) This word generally has three meanings. One is eternity, which is used in most of the passages that deal with promises of eternal life. It can also refer to an (usually long) interval of time. It is translated 'world' in numerous passages in the KJV.
In the passages where it is rendered eternal or an interval of time, time is the major relevant attribute. When we are promised eternal life, for example, the main point is that this life has no end
In these passages where it is translated ‘world,’ there was a time component to world and a space component to time. The following passages should illustrate that ‘aion’ is often used in ways that includes space or objects that require the context of space to exist.
And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. - Mark 4:19 KJV
The cares of this world does not merely mean cares about time, but cares about things that exist and move within this time interval. These things necessarily exist in space.
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life......Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.- Mark 10:30; Luke18:30 KJV
There are three time referents are used in these parallel passages. The phrase “in this time” is translated from (g2540 | καιρός | kairos). This word is used when one wishes to refer to time as a mere chronological measurement. The word “eternal”is translated from a form of aion - ‘aionios.’This word is used as a description of the time attribute of the life that will be lived in the “world to come,”which is translated as ‘aion.’ This aion has an extended meaning, referring not just to a future time period, but also implying that it is a place where people will live an endless life.
And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.- Luke 16:8 KJV
Time, in and of itself, has no children. This phraseology refers to those who are influenced by the ethos of a given historical period or time interval. The phrase “children of the 60’s,”for example, refers to those influenced by the predominant cultural forces at work in the 1960’s. These forces are at work in people who necessarily occupy space while they live.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. - Romans 12:2 KJV
Being conformed to this ‘aion’ implies that ‘aion’ has more than chronological attributes. The ‘aion’ has cultural, ideological, and political attributes
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?......Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory......Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.- 1 Corinthians 1:20 ; 2:6-8; 3:18 KJV
Wisdom is not a property or method of time, but of individuals, groups, and civilizations that exist in time.
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:......For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. - Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 6:12 KJV
Darkness would not be a property directly of a time-period, but implies that this time interval contains objects that might contain darkness or rulers of darkness.
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; - Titus 2:12 KJV
We are to live godly lives in this ‘aion’ - inside of time. In our lives inside of time, we must occupy space.
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;......Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.- Hebrews 1:2; 11:3 KJV
Both Hebrews 1:2 and 11:3 speak of the entirety of space-time. The difference between the passages where (G165 αἰών aio¯n ahee-ohn) is used to designate an epoch of time or eternity and those where it is translated ‘world’ require an extended meaning. According to Trench,
“In classical Greek, aion often refers to the duration of a human life. But the essential meaning of aion is time as the condition for all created things and as the measure of their existence. Thus Theodoret wrote: ’Ho aion is not any substance, but it is an irresistible thing, accompanying those who have a mortal nature; for the interval from the constituting of the world [kosmou] to its consummation is called aionaion then is the interval yoked to created nature. Aion came to mean all that exists in the world under conditions of time: "The totality of what is discernible in the passage of time, the world inasmuch as it is active in time." ’ ......”the use of aiones in Hebrews 11:3 is decisive. In both passages aiones can only mean ‘the world,’ not ‘the ages...’...Etymologically our English world more nearly represents aion than does the Greek kosmos. The old Weralt (in modern German Welt) is composed of two words, Wer (man) and Alt (age or generation). Thus the basic meaning of Weralt is "generation of men." The notion of space unfolds from this expression of time, as aion passed into the meaning of kosmos ”2
What this means is that ‘aion’ implies not only time but space in these passages. The ancients knew nothing of relativity theory - particularly the concept of space-time as a unified substance - and would likely have understood these to have the same meaning that we attach to the idea of historical dispensations today. The term ‘aion’ would be used to refer to an interval of time that contained a common arrangement of physical and cultural dynamics, all of which necessarily occur inside space. In most of these passages this is sufficient.
Hebrews 1:2 and Hebrews 11:3, however, concern the beginning of all creation. The idea of historical dispensation is much too small to fully capture the full meaning of ‘aion.’ These passages are addressing the creation of everything that is not self-existent. Aion as space-time would, in these passages, include all of space-time or space-times. This meaning of ‘aion’ which God intended but would have been unknown to the ancient mind prefigures relativity. Through faith we can understand that God created space-times.
The creation of space-time
How did God create this space-time. We are instructed that is is through the word of God. The word used here is (G4487 | Ῥῆμα | Rhēma hray'-mah). The meaning of this word is utterance. This type of word is a particular word of God rather than the word of God as the full counsel of God or the mind of God. The term for the Word of God that represents the Mind of God and possesses the ontology or essence of God is (G3056 | λόγος | logos | log'-os). The Logos is the Mind of God and the source of all of the prescriptive information and fine-tuning for the creation. The Logos is the ground and constructor of every rhema word. The rhema, because of its particularity as a free will expression of the Logos, has a relativity and contingency that sets it apart from the Logos. The Logos necessarily shares in the divine essence. The rhema, however, while grounded in that essence attains a distinct ontology by virtue of being a particular and freely given word from God. Once the rhema is defined, it has its own distinct essence, dynamics, and constraints.
While not being the essence of God as the Logos is, the Rhema word is defined by prescriptive information in the Logos. This sets the constraints (natural laws and cosmological constants) and initial conditions of the rhema. In the Septuagint, which is the first translation of the Old Testament from the Hebrew to Greek that was finished about 200BC, Isaiah 55:11 uses rhema to mean word. The rhema of God, while going FROM God and having a distinct essence from God, WILL accomplish His divine purposes.
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
What is the purpose of the rhema word in creation in Hebrews 11:3. It was the rhema that would ‘frame’ the space-times. The Greek here is (G2675 | καταρτίζω | katartizo | kat-ar-tid'-zo). It means to complete throughly and is translated variously as frame, fit, and prepare. The rhema word frames, or builds, these space-times and sets their properties and methods.
The use of rhema to define building blocks of the universe implies that the space-time universe is composed of information. This has huge implication concerning the nature of material reality. Hebrews 11:3 uses a connective to establish this relation. The, “worlds are framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” There are two key words which define the nature of physical reality which is created: G991 | βλέπω | blepo ̄| blep'-o) and G5316 | φαίνω | phainō| fah'ee-no).
The word ‘blepo’ simply refer to that which is observed or the act of observation. The word ‘phaino’ refers to that which reveals or manifests itself. The use of Phaino implies that an object that already exists comes into view, whereas Blepo refers to the observation. What Hebrews 11:3 is saying that because the rhema word is the building blocks of space-time, the observation of reality is NOT based on objectively existing objects revealing themselves. It is based on information. When we make an observation, we are are observing information and constructing discrete, material objects from the observation. This idea prefigures quantum mechanics, whose experimental findings suggest that material reality acts like a wave when it is not being observed but like particles when they are observed. One of the implications of quantum mechanics is that particles are constructs that materialize only when observed3. If the universe is really made up of information, then there would be protocols that would govern how that information to be used to construct objects upon reading the input or output stream in much the same way that a browser constructs Windows, graphics, multimedia, and text upon reading the information stream published by the Web server. When we observe the physical reality, our minds construct concrete objects from an information stream according to rules God has ordained.
Hebrews 11:3 was not written solely to speak about the Bible teaches about science. In context, it is not even primarily about science. This verse was written to provide a meta-physical foundation for understanding how faith works. Because the space-time universe is composed of prescriptive information, God can modify how the universe operates by embedding additional prescriptive information in faith. This faith is revealed to us so that we can access the things God has provided for us.
This faith is grounded in the facts that the universe is made up of information that can be programmatically modified. Think of our physical universe as a virtual reality simulation that God has programmed but runs in an ontologically distinct manner from the Divine essence. The revelation of the rhema word of faith is a way that God continues to embed input into the simulation. Our receipt of that word of faith is how we can access God. As we believe His promises and receive His promises, He will do exceedingly above all we can imagine. In the next installment I will write about the methodology of faith and how it translates the invisible realities ordained of God into the physical universe.
1 Strong numbers are used to map English words found in translations to the original languages. This can be verified by consulting Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. It can also be verified using Bible study software like E-sword or Web sites like http://www.blueletterbible.org
2 Trench’s New Testament Synonyms
3 For a quick introduction to quantum mechanics, here is a playlist from Inspiring Philosophy. It is mostly a very excellent treatment of the subject, although Quantum mechanics, in my view, implies dualism rather than “weak pantheism.”