I beg you, child, look at the sky and the earth; see all that is in them and realize that God did not make them out of existing things [ouk ex onton epoiesen auta], and that man comes into being in the same way. (7:28)
This passage appears to expressly rule out the notion of God forming creatures out of a preexisting reality of some sort, such as may be presupposed in the Genesis account of the beginning of all things. After all, the passage loses its point (regarding God's power to raise the righteous dead) and certainly its punch if changed to read:
I beg you, child, look at the sky and the earth; see all that is in them and realize that God formed them out of some preexisting primordial chaotic matter and that man comes into being in the same way.
The idea of one God who truly creates, as opposed to gods who shaped and formed a preexisting reality, signaled the death of myth and polytheism as theoretically viable explanations of reality, since only one god can be creative in this absolute sense. However, this ideological victory of Yahweh had other consequences, which Second Temple Judaism struggled with and which Rabbinic Judaism has never been fully at ease with. For the idea of a universally creative god leads inexorably to the idea of a universal human nature and casts doubt on the credibility of national gods. Late Israelite thinkers wrestled with these ideas in various writings (Genesis, Jonah, some of the late prophets and Wisdom literature), but Judaism has ultimately had difficulty in coming to terms with these implications of monotheism.
Nor is this view unique to John, for Paul, in his letter to the Colossians (1:15-17), makes precisely the same point in strikingly similar terms regarding the Son. The difference, however, is that Paul uses the more technical word “create,” repeatedly:
the first of His works of old.
from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
when there were no fountains abounding with water.
before the hills was I brought forth;
nor the fields, nor the beginning of the dust of the world.
when He set a circle upon the face of the deep,
when the fountains of the deep showed their might,
that the waters should not transgress His commandment,
when He appointed the foundations of the earth;
and I was daily all delight, playing always before Him,
and my delights are with the sons of men. (JPS)
to receive glory and honor and power,
because you created “all things”
and through your will they were [ησαν] and were created. (4:11)
God who made [ὁ ποιησας] the cosmos and all things that are in it, he is the Lord of heaven and earth and he doesn't dwell in temples made by human hands... (17:24)
therefore what is knowable about God is evident to [the Greeks]; for God has made it evident. For those things concerning God that are unseen but knowable--that is, his eternal power and deity--are understood from the creation of the cosmos through the things that God made... (1:19-20)
they exchanged God's truth for falsehood and worshipped and performed service to creation [creatures] instead of to the Creator... (1:25)
In all this we must bear in mind that the major concern of all the authors is to distinguish the true God from false pagan gods and the "elements"--we are not dealing here with investigation into the nature and existence of finite beings per se. God not only exercises dominion over the "elements"--the thrones and dominations--but he created them. God is before all things and brings all things into existence. While the writings of the New Testament may not be philosophical treatises in a theoretical sense, there is no doubt that they are dealing with philosophical issues and that Christianity is and has been from its inception a "philosophical" faith. This will become quite explicit as we move beyond the Apostolic age.