The Four Elements

June 8, 2014

Summary

The ancient philosopher Plato was deeply impressed with the order and beauty he observed in the universe.  In his work Timaeus, Plato presents an elaborately wrought account of the formation of the universe.  Plato understood the universe to be the handiwork of a divine Craftsman who imposes mathematical order on a pre-existent chaos to generate the ordered universe (kosmos).  According to Plato, the primary building blocks of this divine Craftsman are fire, water, air and earth, and “the construction of the world used up the whole of each of these four elements.  For the creator constructed it of all the fire, and water and air and earth available.”

Genesis 1 mentions all four elements, but says that before the creation there was no earth and no fire; there was only air and water.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters (v. 1-2).  Earth and fire are missing; but God’s Spirit (wind) is moving over the waters, bringing into being earth and fire.

Bible References

  • Genesis 1:1 - 2
  • Genesis 2:6 - 7
  • Acts 2:1 - 8
  • Acts 2:12 - 21
  • Acts 2:37 - 42