How old is God? A few years ago, The Guardian newspaper asked that question, getting different answers from various people.[i]
A humanistic answer was that God is a figment of our imaginations, and thus he (or she) is as old as the evolution of philosophical thought. One person answered that Jahveh (Yahweh), the Israelite God, originated in the 9th century BC, but he’s dead now. Another person speculated that there was no god before the end of the Neolithic Age. The closest answer to truth in the article was the first:
“If God is conceived to be in any way outside time, the answer must surely be ‘timeless.’ God cannot be God, some will argue, unless God is older than everything else in the universe (or universes), maybe even including time itself.”
What age is God?
We cannot assign an age to God. God is infinite. He always existed and always will. God transcends time. No other being is timeless, like God is timeless. Only God.
- “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8)
- “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)
- “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:15-16)
- “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalm 90:2)
God never ages
As humans, it’s hard for us to conceive of never aging. We’re used to experiencing hair turning grey, skin wrinkling, energy diminishing, eyesight fading, memory slipping, and joints aching. We’re accustomed to seeing things age around us: our cars, houses, and pets.
But God never ages. Time does not affect God as it affects us. Renaissance paintings depicting God as an old man with a long white beard and wrinkly skin are inaccurate. He’s not the grandpa sitting on the sidelines with His cane. He is dynamic, forceful, and vigorous. Revelation describes flashes of lightning and peals of thunder coming from God’s throne (Rev. 4:5). The One sitting on the throne was like jasper and carnelian stone with a rainbow around Him (Rev. 4:3)
God never ages! Check out the special blessing promised in Isaiah 40 to those who wait on God!
- “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are works of Your hands. They will perish but You remain; and all will grow old like a garment; and like a robe You will roll them up, and like a garment they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will never end.” (Hebrews 1:10-12)
- “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives strength to the weary, and to the one who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired; they will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)
God is eternal
The concept of eternity is almost incomprehensible to us mortals. But this essential characteristic of God is repeated over and over in Scripture. When we say God is eternal, it means He extends backward through time and before time began. He extends into the future beyond anything we can imagine with our finite minds. God never began, and He will never end. Just as God is infinite with regard to time, He is infinite in space. He is omnipresent: everywhere at once. God’s qualities are also eternal. He loves us unendingly and infinitely. His mercies never end. His truth is forever.
- “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God’” (Isaiah 44:6).
- “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).
- “For He is the living God, and He endures forever; His kingdom will never be destroyed, and His dominion will never end.” (Daniel 6:26)
Why aren’t humans immortal?
If you ask this question of non-Christians, you might get answers like, “Nanotech could make humans immortal by 2040” or “Jellyfish hold the secret to immortality.” Ummm, really?
Let’s get back to the book of Genesis to find out why humans aren’t immortal. There were two unique trees in the Garden of Eden. One was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which they weren’t supposed to eat from. The other was the Tree of Life (Genesis 1:9).
After Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the forbidden tree, God banished them from the Garden of Eden. Why? So they would not become immortal: “the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out with his hand, and take fruit also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22).
Immortality depended on eating from the Tree of Life. But here’s the good news. That Tree of Life is going to show up again! We get another chance for immortality!
- “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who overcomes, I will grant the right to eat from the tree of life in the Paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7)
- “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by its gates.” (Revelation 22:14)
Here are some more promises of immortality for those who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior:
- “To those who by perseverance in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life.” (Romans 2:7)
- “For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come to pass: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’” (1 Corinthians 15:52-54)
- “And now He has revealed this grace through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).
What is the nature of God?
In addition to being eternal, immortal, and infinite, as previously mentioned, God is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving, all-good, and all-holy. God cannot sin, and He doesn’t tempt people to sin. He is self-existent, the uncreated Creator, and He transcends time and space.
He is one God existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. His Holy Spirit indwells believers, purifying, teaching, and empowering them. God is merciful, sovereign, patient, gracious, forgiving, faithful, and just and fair in how He relates to us.
What is God’s relationship to time?
God existed before time existed. What we consider time – years, months, and days – are marked by the sun, moon, and stars, which, of course, God created.
God’s sense of time is totally unlike ours. He transcends it. He doesn’t operate in our time.
- “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or like a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:4)
- “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” (2 Peter 3:8)
How old is heaven?
God is infinite, but heaven is not. Heaven has not always existed; God created it.
- “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
- “In the beginning, O Lord, You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands” (Hebrews 1:10).
The Bible uses “heaven” to refer to three things: the earth’s atmosphere, the universe, and the place where God sits on His throne surrounded by angels. The same Hebrew word (shamayim) and Greek word (Ouranos) are used for all three. However, when speaking of where God dwells with the angels, the terms “highest heaven” or “heaven of heavens” or “third heaven” are often used. For instance, Psalm 115:16: “The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth He has given to mankind.”
But even the “highest heavens” and the angels were created at some point:
Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His heavenly armies! Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all stars of light! Praise Him, highest heavens, and the waters that are above the heavens! They are to praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded, and they were created.” (Psalm 148:1-5)
“You alone are the LORD. You created the heavens, the highest heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all things, and the host of heaven worships You” (Nehemiah 9:6)
When was the “highest heaven” created? How old are heaven and the angels? We don’t know. The Bible doesn’t make that clear. The angels were apparently in existence before the earth’s creation. God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? . . . When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4,7)
The “sons of God” (and probably the “morning stars) refer to the angels (Job 1:6, 2:1).
When was Jesus born?
We can estimate the date that Jesus, in His incarnate form, was born to His earthly mother, Mary, based on who Scripture says was ruling at the time. Herod the Great was ruling Judea (Matthew 2:1, Luke 1:5). Matthew 2:19-23 tells us that Herod died after Jesus’ birth, and his son Archelaus reigned in Judea in his place. Caesar Augustus was ruling the Roman Empire (Luke 2:1). Luke 2:1-2 mentions a census that took Joseph back to Bethlehem with Mary when Quirinius was commanding Syria.
- Herod the Great ruled from 37 BC to the uncertain date of his death. His kingdom was divided between three of his sons (all named Herod), and records of his death and the time that each of his sons began ruling are in conflict. One or more of the sons may have started ruling as regents prior to his death. His death is recorded as sometime between 5 BC to AD 1.
- Caesar Augustus ruled from 27 BC to AD 14.
- Quirinius ruled Syria two times: from 3 to 2 BC (as military commander) and from AD 6-12 (as governor).[ii] Joseph traveled to Bethlehem “to be registered” for a census. Luke 2 says this was the first census (implying a second). The Jewish historian Josephus records that Quirinius took a census in AD 6, so that was likely the second census.
Jesus was likely born between 3 and 2 BC, which fits with the times when Herod, Augustus, and Quirinius ruled.
However, Jesus’s existence did not begin when He was born in Bethlehem. As part of the Triune Godhead, Jesus existed with God from infinity, and Jesus created everything that was created.
- “He (Jesus) was with God in the beginning. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:2-3).
- “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him” (John 1:10).
- “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17).
How old was Jesus when He died?
Ageless! Remember, He existed as part of the Triune Godhead from infinity. However, His earthly body was around thirty-three years old.
- Jesus was about thirty when He began His ministry (Luke 3:23).
- His cousin, John the Baptist, began his ministry in AD 26, the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1). Jesus began His own ministry shortly after. If Jesus were born around 3 BC, He would have been 29 when John started his ministry. So, if Jesus started teaching at age 30, that would have been the following year.
- Jesus attended at least three Passover feasts after beginning His ministry (John 2:13; 6:4; 11:55-57).
Jesus’ physical body was around thirty-three when He died, yet He was and is ageless. He existed from infinity and continues to exist into infinity.
None of us preexisted before we were born, but how would you like to exist into infinity with Jesus? Would you like to be immortal? When Jesus returns, God will give the gift of immortality to all who have placed their faith in Jesus. We can all experience life without aging. Death will be swallowed up in victory. This is our gift from our eternal, everlasting, immortal God! (1 Corinthians 15:53-54)