How does God relate to time? Many different theories have been set forward: time is co-eternal with God so that God experiences time the same way we do, God is omnitemporal or everywhere present in time, or God is atemporal or without time or above all categories of time. Does God’s eternal nature only mean that he has always existed and will always exist or does it connote elements of atemporality or timelessness? The only way to have certainty in this matter is to consult the Word of God which is the only safe guide because in it alone has God fully revealed himself. Attempting to use fallen human reason to discern truth and error in matters of Christian theology is destined to fail because we are sinners who are blinded by our tradition. We must take off our tradition glasses if we ever want to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. God has created us to be receivers of knowledge, not creators of it. We must believe whatever the Word of God says, even if we do not understand it. I will argue here that God is the creator of time and therefore he is atemporal or without time, existing above time and before time.
A key text for this discussion is 2 Peter 3:8: “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” If the text had just said, “a thousand years as one day,” as Psalm 90:4 does, then we might conclude that God experiences time as we do, but since he has always existed, a thousand years means nothing to him since he has always been around – just like how people experience time faster the older they get. But the text also says “one day is as a thousand years.” How can both of these things be true at the same time? The text is a paradox whose meaning is that God does not experience time as creatures do. To apply categories of progression and change to God is invalid since God is transcendent, omniscient, and immutable. God is perfect in knowledge and does not experience any change at all with or without respect to time. To say that God experiences time would be to say that God is mutable since he is progressing along with the created order and subject to time which is outside of his control making him less than sovereign. But Peter’s time paradox busts the doors off of any attempt to fit God within our creaturely existence as those within time. Rather, God is above all categories of time. This applies to God now, not just in eternity past.
God must be the creator of time because God is the creator of “all things” (Col 1:16). If time is a thing, then God created it. To say that time is not created would be to say that time is co-eternal with God. Time would be another deity who is also eternal; competing with God for glory and worship. Hebrews 11:3 is further evidence that time is created: “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” That which is “seen” is created. We observe the progression of time with our eyes, therefore it is created. If angels who we do not see are created, how much more so that which is seen? Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 both affirm that God was already in existence in “the beginning.” When the beginning began, God already was. Jude 1:25 uses the phrase “before all time” which only makes sense if God existed before time. If there was something before time, then time came into existence. If time is created, then God’s nature must be timeless because he is uncreated and unchangeable. Since time only applies to the created order, God must be timeless since he is not part of the created order. Another text is Isaiah 57:15 which says that God “inhabits eternity.” Eternity itself is God’s dwelling place. This view of God’s eternality is consistent with Ignatius who wrote in his letter to Polycarp that God is achronos which can be translated as “timeless” or “above all time” (3:2).