The latest discoveries in quantum physics and astrophysics provide remarkable evidence of God's ongoing involvement in the creation of time, space, and matter. The latest insights of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity reveal that time itself is a created physical property as one of four dimensions of our universe.
In 2 Timothy 1:9, the Apostle Paul makes a remarkable statement that God's grace "was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time."
A study of the Greek phrase "pro chronon aionion," translated "before the beginning of time," shows the independent existence of God's grace in Christ outside of our time domain. Consider the following observations:
First, The Greek preposition "pro" corresponds closely to our own English preposition "before," which can connote either position or chronological order.
For example, we can speak "before someone" in the sense of giving a speech to them, or we can speak "before someone" in the sense of talking prior to their getting a chance to do so. Both meanings are included within the preposition "before." The Greek preposition "pro" can mean the same thing.
Second, the Greek word chronos means durations of measurable time such as seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, decades, centuries, millennia, epochs, and so on. (The quantization of time into units, as is now recognized in quantum physics, is thus implied!)
Third, the Greek word "aionion" used in 2 Timothy 1:9 means time in the sense of the dimension of time itself. The word appears to be derived from two Greek words which, taken together, mean "time which is not self-existent"; i.e., time which starts with a point but which continues toward some unknown destination.
This origin for the Greek word aionion ("time") is provocatively similar to the definition that most modern physicists use to define "time"; i.e., a one-way physical dimension in which cause-and-effect phenomena take place but in which travel can go forward but not backward.
Putting all three observations together, it is grammatically possible that the Apostle Paul is telling Timothy that God's gift of grace was given to us both spatially in front of, as well as antecedent to the creation of, measurable time.
It was given to us outside of our time domain of cause-and- effect phenomena and before there were cause-and-effect phenomena.
God's grace eternally existed for us literally "before time existed." (That's why the NIV translates the verse by saying that God's grace was given to us "before time began.")
His grace exists outside of cause-and-effect phenomena, that is why it's grace! It's independent of human actions, thoughts, words, choices, or attitudes.
Think about this the next time you're worried about how many of your sins were covered by Christ's grace or what part you can play in receiving the gift. His grace was given to you and displayed in the presence of, antecedent to, and independent of all of your sins and choices.
Since Christ's grace existed for you in His own timeless eternity, not one human act or choice as been excluded from grace. But it still needs to be received, or accepted.
Perhaps another fundamental lesson that all of the theologians among us can learn from is that a basic understanding of general relativity can go a long way toward reconciling the apparent paradoxes of grace and works, faith and sight, and free choice and predestination.
When did God first begin dealing with you?
"He hath chosen us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world...", Ephesians 1:4
These observations were excerpted from a fax from William P. Welty, Professor in the School of Christian Apologetics at the Simon Greenleaf University in Anaheim, California. Bill's specialty is New Testament Greek.