For most of human history, thinking people believed that the universe was eternal. That it had always existed. Aristotle believed this, and even into the early 20th century the eternal existence of the cosmos had been assumed. However, between the work of various scientists, including Albert Einstein, the astonishing, even revolutionary idea, of the universe having once not existed and then coming into existence took hold and has never let go. In other words, science finally caught up with Scripture, which taught that God created everything. (See Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3).
Though, of course, speculation exists as to exactly how the creation of the universe took place, the present hypothesis is called The Big Bang Theory, which implies as the name suggests, some kind of cosmic explosion. According to the science, at least for now, this explosion occurred some 13 billion years ago.
Now what’s fascinating about it is that, according to this theory, at the Big Bang, matter, energy, space—and time (yes, time) began. That is, it is believed that way in the past, time did not exist.
All of which is interesting in light of two New Testament texts, both written by Paul. In the first, he said that Jesus “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9). In Titus he wrote, “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2).
Twice he says, “before time began.” Though Paul certainly wasn’t thinking Big Bang cosmogony, it’s an interesting phrase that, nevertheless, presents the idea of something so far back that it was before time, even? Whenever it was, it was, yes, a long time ago.
Which means what? That the plan of salvation was no afterthought. Something conjured up after humans fell. Rather, knowing the end from the beginning, and knowing that humanity would fall, “before time began” God put in place the plan of salvation, in which we all have been offered the “hope of eternal life,” a hope that becomes real when we surrender to Jesus and give our lives to Him.