The History of the Genesis Gap Interpretation
 and its Basis in Bible Doctrine

"For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
 
(2 Pet 3:5-7 KJV)

"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
(Genesis 1:2 KJV)

On this site's index page we stated that 2 Peter 3:5-7 is NOT a reference to Noah's flood. There are only two (2) places in the entire Bible where the Earth is flooded by water. One is at the time of Noah's flood (Genesis 7). The other is at Genesis 1:2 where it speaks about the condition of the Earth at the time just before God said, "Let there be light." Now, if 2 Peter 3:5-7 is not a cross-reference to Noah's flood, then it MUST be a cross-reference to Genesis 1:2 (there is no other alternative - simple logic). And if 2 Peter 3:5-7 is a cross-reference to Genesis 1:2, then the Holy Spirit is calling your attention to something very significant that millions of Neo-Creationists are blindly overlooking. Specifically, that a glorious ancient world that God created in the distant past (Genesis 1:1), had long since been utterly destroyed; plunged into deep darkness and overflowed by a raging flood of great waters on a universal scale at the time of Genesis 1:2. The seven-days of Genesis that follow chronicle God's methodology of restoring the heavens and Earth and repopulating the world with living creatures, including modern man who is made in His image.

There is a time-gap between the first two verses of the Old Testament. And this is not the only time-gap in the Old Testament; there are two (2) others. There is the "gap" between the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and His second coming. It is commonly called the "Church Age" or the "Age of Grace." The other is the 1,000 year Millennial reign of the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, here on the Earth between His second coming and the final great Judgment Day, followed by the creation of the New Heaven and Earth. The late Clarence Larkin referred to these Old Testament gaps as "Valleys" between the peaks of prophecy. His illustration is a schematic of his line of reasoning:

All three of these Scriptural Old Testament "gaps" or "valleys" have one thing in common: They are impossible to discern without the witness of the New Testament. These are things that are spiritually discerned through the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and all the prophesies about Him - the source of all true wisdom. (See Revelation 19:10). The Spirit of Prophecy certainly looks forward into the future, but it also can look backward into the past and you will be able to see this in the Holy Bible. Keep in mind that what transpired in the past directly sets the course for what will happen in the future. This is why it is essential to understand why there is a gap between the first two verses of the Bible and what happened during that time.        

The time-gap in Genesis is obscurely declared but not detailed in the book of Genesis. It is the very first 'mystery' found in the Holy Bible. Knowing that there is a time-gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, and WHY there is a time-gap, will open a more perfect understanding of what the Creation narrative is actually saying. When you understand this truth, it cuts a clear path through the confusion of conflicting theories and interpretations that have occupied the ongoing Creation vs. Science debate. The essence of that debate will be discussed in a following chapter. For now, it is very important that we show you the Biblical clues that tell us why 2 Peter 3:5-7 is not a reference to Noah's flood.

Clue #1 - Compare the phrase: "the heavens and earth, which are now" to the phrase the "heavens were of old":

What does this mean? Ask yourself this question: When Noah's flood happened did it change anything in the upper heavens? Would a flood on the Earth's surface have any effect on the sun, moon, or stars high above? The obvious answer is NO. The heavens of Noah's days were the same heavens as in Adam's day; same sun, same moon, same stars, same planet Mars. FACT: Noah's flood had no effect on the upper heavens. All of Noah's flood's effects were confined to the Earth's surface and its atmosphere. And although the Bible speaks about the "windows of heaven" being opened and water coming down (Genesis 7:11), the context of that reference is the First Heaven, which is the Earth's atmosphere. That is where the rain comes from. Keep in mind that the Bible says there are three (3) heavens. (See 2 Corinthians 12:2). This will be explained in greater detail shortly. Again, note the contrasting comparison between the phrases the "heavens were of old" (before the waters of 2 Peter 3:5-7) and the "heavens and earth which are now" (after the waters of 2 Peter 3:5-7). If the effects of Noah's flood were confined to the Earth's surface and atmosphere, then Noah's flood did not affect or alter anything in the upper heavens, so logic demands that this verse must be speaking about an event other than Noah's flood. And Genesis 1:2 is our only other Biblical candidate.

Clue #2 - Notice also in the passage that the earth is said to be
"standing out" of the water and "in" the water. In our English language these descriptive terms suggest that these particular waters were not confined to the surface of the planet; they overflowed the entire planetary system. The Bible says that part of the planet was "standing out" from these waters. That is to say, the sphere of the planet was partially "overflowed" and the location of the bulk of the waters was external to the Earth itself. The Bible says the planet was "in the water" of this particular flood (think of a round fishing floater bobbing in a lake). In other words, part of the Earth is protruding from the waters and not simply just covered by waters on the surface. The literal English wording of this passage does not describe a flood event confined to the Earth's surface. This passage describes a deluge that raged across the solar system, and beyond. Our solar system and outer space are the Second Heaven of the Bible's three heavens.

Try to draw this mental picture: Think of a dark and ruined solar system with water strewn throughout it like one big messy galactic spill. That is what Genesis 1:2 is speaking about. And imagine the planet Earth drifting awash in this roaring and rolling, formless mess. Where would such waters have come from? Well, it is an established scientific observation that aging stars create and give off lots of water.  Certainly there must have been lots and lots of stars in the heavens that were "of old" and, if something had caused the entire cosmos to had gone dark, and the stars died, then there would be excessive water everywhere throughout space. If that was indeed the case, then all those extinguished stars would need to be reignited to be seen in our present heavens. Although many "Gap Theory" advocates believe that the sun, moon and stars we not affected, and were only being obscured by deep cloud cover until the fourth of the seven days, that interpretation does not hold up under closer scrutiny of the Scriptures. Why it does not will become clear as we examine the Genesis narrative by "precept upon precept" and "line upon line" (Isaiah 28:10).

Let's review:

"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
 
(Genesis 1:2 KJV)

At Genesis 1:2 the heaven and the Earth are in darkness and great waters are upon the deep. If we interpret the deep to include everything in the physical universe (as opposed to God's heavenly realm far above (see John 8:23), then the situation becomes clear. Before any reconstruction of the heavens and Earth could begin, God had to do something with all that water scattered across space. That is why the Bible says that God "divided the waters" (Genesis 1:6-7). It was the first order of business after the Lord God turned on the work lights (Genesis 1:3) and began to clear up the mess. And this verse does not say that this division was between the waters on the Earth's surface and the clouds up in the sky, or describe the construction of some imagined "water canopy" above the Earth that later was the water source for Noah's flood. That is NOT what the Bible is saying:

"And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so."
(Genesis 1:7 KJV)

The Bible is saying that God established a three-heaven structure between the Earth and the heavenly abode of the Ancient of Days. The firmament is the abode of the sun, moon and stars, and the galaxies. In other words, it is speaking of the entire physical universe. And the Bible says that God placed waters above that firmament. In doing so He placed a "Sea" between the footstool of His heavenly throne and the less than pure physical universe down below. Prayerfully consider the schematic diagram above because this is what the division was all about. Also make note that in Genesis 1:8 the Lord God says nothing about this being good. Although God says, "it was good" concerning days 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 He does not say that about the work of the second day. Ever wondered about that? The answer is very simple. Although this division was not good, it was necessary to protect the creation from the flaming glory of God's Holiness. Nothing impure can stand in His presence, and even the presence of a regenerated heavens and earth was not completely pure before God (see Job 25:5). There is a whole sermon that could be preached about the significance of this division, but I digress. These things will be discussed in detail later in this study.

History of the "Gap Theory" Interpretation

The Ruin-Reconstruction or Gap Theory interpretation of the Genesis narrative is this: The seven days of Genesis were indeed seven literal 24 hour days, but they are not a description of the original creation of all things (Genesis 1:1). Rather, they are a Divine special regeneration of the cosmos made from what already was here before the present world of Man. In other words, there are two (2) creation events in Genesis. The first is described in a one-sentence statement at Genesis 1:1 and occurred billions of years ago. The second occurred relatively recently and was accomplished in 7 days, and very detailed, beginning at Genesis 1:3. This is why the Bible at Genesis 2:4 says:

"These are the generations [plural] of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,"
(Genesis 2:4 KJV)

This Ruin-Reconstruction interpretation of Genesis was the bread and butter Creation doctrine of the Protestant Fundamentalist movement in the early part of the 20th century. The interpretation has mainly been credited to the Scottish theologian, Thomas Chalmers, who began to preach it back in the early 19th century. However, there were theologians who also held this view long before Chalmers' days. Contrary to Young Earth Creationist allegations, Chalmers did not invent the Gap Theory as a compromise of the Word of God to accommodate science and the theory of evolution. That gap has always been in the Scriptures since the day Moses penned the book of Genesis. However, only in post-New Testament times and only after man's knowledge about Earth's natural history increased greatly, has the Spirit opened people's eyes to its existence. And only by rightly-dividing and gaining true knowledge through the Lord Jesus Christ can the reader start to comprehend the doctrinal significance.

Keep in mind that from the days of the Apostles up through the Dark Ages, and until just a few centuries ago, a 6,000 year age for the heavens and Earth was accepted dogma in the institutions of both the Church and Academia. Up until then, the real age of the Earth was not a burning issue. However, after the Bible was published for the masses, and as the scientific evidence for an old Earth grew, so did the breech between the establishment Church and establishment science.

Thomas Chalmers, to his credit, refused to accept that the Scriptures had been broken by the growing body of geological observations of his time. He did not lose his faith in the accuracy of the Holy Bible, nor did he go into denial of the forensic geologic facts. As a Protestant theologian honest enough to realize the truth of those emerging observations, while remaining steadfast, faithful and committed to defending the Scriptures, Chalmers (and others) were inspired to observe the time "Gap" between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 in the Creation narrative. And he did so many years before Darwin had published his On the Origin of Species. In other words, an Old Age for the Earth had already became an accepted fact long before Darwin and his theory came on the scene. Therefore, the argument that acceptance of an Old Earth is a compromise to Evolutionary Theory is simply not true and has no foundation in historical fact.

What we have in the case of Thomas Chalmers and the post Reformation times is an example of Progressive Revelation from the Holy Scriptures. That is, when the proper time came, the Word of God had once again proved itself timely and relevant to the level of scientific and Spiritual understanding of the day. That Bible is still just as timely and relevant today, and can still provide true and faithful answers to scientific discoveries that appear to challenge the fundamentals of the Christian Faith. The problem today is that people have, for the most part, abandoned faith in the infallibility of the Holy Scriptures.

As the world moved into the Industrial Revolution, and since about the middle of the 20th Century, there have been copious publications of new English Bible translations, each claiming to be an improvement on the one before it and each claiming to be better than the common King James Bible. This is the Bible that Chalmers and the main body of Protestant Fundamentalism used over the years to bring so many people to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Although an in-depth study of this phenomenon is beyond the immediate scope of this study, it is important to point out that this departure from the old Authorized text has had a profound effect on the spirituality of the Fundamental Church. Since that time the Ruin-Reconstruction (Gap Theory) interpretation of Genesis has also been systematically relegated to the "Fundamental Doghouse" and displaced on the center stage of Creationism by the Neo-Creationists - the Young Earth Advocates.

Objectively looking at the Fundamental Church in historical retrospect, it is observed that as the juggernaut of Evolutionary Theory became a growing mainstay in academia across the latter half of the 20th Century, the Fundamental Church has increasingly retreated into a shell of denial and self-preservation. Having thrown aside their best source of Scriptural Authority and defense (the King James Bible), and with declining numbers who were scientifically educated and intellectually honest enough to deal with the geological arguments, the Fundamental Church has consequently lost the ability to effectively address the overwhelming body of evidence for an Old Earth from a true Biblical perspective. And, as a consequence, has also lost the ability to effectively minister the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the educated masses of today when it comes to the accuracy of the book of Genesis.

This falling away has precipitated the rise to power within Fundamental Christianity of today's Neo-Creationist power brokers. These are the militant Young Earth "Creation Scientists" like Hovind, Brown, Ham and Gish et al, who have beguiled the flock through emotional appeals to archaic traditionalism, presented in the new and improved wrapper of "Creation Science." The faithful are exhorted to put logic and reason aside and stand firm in the proscribed Party Line of Young Earth Creationism, all in the name of Jesus and 'Defending the Faith' against the "Evil Evolutionists" and the "Scientific Conspirators."

While their motivations and intentions are, without doubt, completely honorable and worthy in their own minds, they have embraced a fanaticism and collective group-think that has degenerated into a less than intellectually honest religious and political juggernaut in its own right. Full of pride and arrogance, and stopping their ears to any justification for an Old Age of the Earth (even Biblical), they proudly claim to be defenders of the Bible. But when confronted with rightly-divided Scripture on this matter, they will not hesitate for a moment to criticize the old King James Bible, or any variant of Greek and Hebrew Scriptures for that matter that contradicts their dogmatic paradigm of reasoning. This is unfortunate, but true.

Consequently, most "Christians" of today, regardless of denominational persuasion, can only agree on what the first verse of the Genesis states:

"¶ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
(Genesis 1:1 KJV)

And even then they quibble about whether the word heaven in the first verse should be singular or plural (BTW, it's singular in the King James Bible). And beyond that first verse all agreement quickly disintegrates and the battle for hearts, minds, and souls (and money) begins. (see 1 Timothy 6:10)

But criticism of the accuracy of the King James Version of the Bible is not restricted to the Young Earth Creationists. Even some traditional Gap Theorists claim that the second verse of Genesis was also badly translated in the KJV and would argue it should have been translated thusly:

"And the earth was (had become) without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
 (Genesis 1:2 KJV)

This is unnecessary and unwise in either case, as doing so can lead to a slippery slope (consider Revelations 22:7-19).

Neither is it wise to dismiss the literal wording of Genesis in attempts to reconcile it to Evolutionary Theory. The school of Creationists known as Theistic Evolutionists generally hold that the Earth is very old and that life evolved as it was "Intelligently Designed" to do by the Creator. Their position on the interpretation of the seven days of Genesis is that each "day" represents an indeterminate period of geologic time that closely matches the progression of the Earth's theoretical evolutionary development over the millennia. But a literal interpretation of the Holy Bible's wording does not support this notion.

The key crux of correctly interpreting the Genesis narrative requires the reconciliation of these apparent contradictions:

 1). How can the Earth be only 6,000 years old (according to the Bible chronology) when the forensic evidence of Geology and the fossil record reveals that the Earth is very ancient?

 2). How could DEATH have only started with the fall of man about 6,000 years ago (according to the Bible) when evidence for death is found throughout the geologic ages?

 3). How can Man have been on the Earth for only about 6,000 years (according to the Bible), when there is evidence of man-like creatures inhabiting the Earth for hundreds of thousands of years?

Any interpretation of the Genesis narrative, that cannot answer all these three key questions, is wanting.

 

Rightly-Dividing the Word of God

Let's begin by a thoughtful, logical and critical examination of the most hotly debated passage in the book of Genesis:

"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
(Genesis 1:2 KJV)

Most people gloss over this verse almost like it is not even there. Ask a random sampling of people on the street the question, "What was the first thing that God created?" and over 90% of the time the answer will be, "Light!"

"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."
(Genesis 1:3-5 KJV)

And those 90% who answered "Light" are dead wrong, according to the Bible itself. Here is why. Let's apply some English grammar, common sense and basic science to the issue. Look at verse Genesis 1:2 and read it again. On the very first of the Genesis days, before God says, "let there be light," several things already exist. Specifically, 1.) the Earth, 2.) waters, 3.) the "deep," and 4.) darkness.

From a scientific standpoint, two of the four things mentioned are physical matter. The Earth is already in the form of a planet and there are waters upon its surface. Whether the water is in a solid or liquid phase, its presence implies there is also an atmosphere on the planet. Since matter requires time and space (the deep) to exist, then the fundamental constants of physics (E=MC2) are established, which means the darkness only indicates an absence of light. Since these things appear to be so, we can also surmise that the Earth's lithology is already fully differentiated into the divisions of a crust, mantle and core structure. And, as confirmed by the phrase, "And the evening and the morning were the first day." The planet is a gravity well in space rotating on its axis at the rate of about 24 hours a day. All of that is in place BEFORE God says, "let there be light."

In response to this line of reasoning, Young Earth Creationists will then argue that God created the Earth "without form and void," (and we must assume also the waters and the space called the deep, and the concept of time) at the very beginning of the first day. But the Holy Spirit has a counter-argument to that objection:

For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
(Isaiah 45:18 KJV)

"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
(Genesis 1:2 KJV)

Isaiah 45:18 tells us that the Lord God did NOT originally create the Earth in such a desolate condition. The word "vain" in Isaiah 45:18 and the term "without form" in Genesis 1:2 are from the very same Hebrew word (tohuw). These verses by themselves, when rightly-divided in either language, destroy the core premise of Young Earth Creationism. Genesis 1:2 compared with Isaiah 45:18 rules out God initially making the Earth as a formless mud ball, then turning on the work lights and starting the decorating process.

As the verse clearly says, the Earth was already there. Although it is "without form and void" on the surface of the planet and covered in waters, it is most certainly already the formed planet Earth. It even has a name...it's called THE EARTH. Since nowhere else in the Genesis narrative does the Spirit tell us about God establishing the Earth's geologic structure, we can safely assume that the planet's geology is already fully established, as well. Further, there is already nuclear decay in the mantle producing the heat that drives the Earth's tectonic and volcanic processes. And the dynamo at the Earth's core is already generating the magnetic field which protects the Earth's surface from lethal radiation.

And after seeing that all these things are already present, can we realistically be expected to accept the Young Earth Creationist's argument? Are we to believe that God went "poof" and made the planet Earth and its complex geology, the vast expanse of outer space, time, and lots of water, all at the very beginning of the very first day without a single sentence outlining this complex work? Especially since God then only says, "let there be light" and calls it a day? That seems somewhat out of character in light of the fact that God then spends another five full working days afterward on just the surface features with the Bible fully documenting the work in great detail. Did Moses sleep through that part of the lecture? I don't think so.

The only common sense, logical, and truly Biblical conclusion that these things collectively tell us is that the seven days of Genesis were a reconstruction from the ruins of what was already there. It was a new "generation" of all things. The Word makes a statement of fact on the Earth's ruined condition and then proceeds to tell us how God regenerated all things. That is the simplicity and truth of the narrative. Man has been guilty of reading his own understanding into the meaning of Genesis, instead of just taking God at His word.

The Earth's geological history (which, by the way, God also preserved), tells us that this planet is very old. Therefore, there MUST be a Biblical explanation that confirms this observation and provides a Biblical reason why these things are so. And the Ruin-Reconstruction interpretation does exactly that. The Bible gives no specific time when God first created the heaven and the Earth (Genesis 1:1), but it does give the time when the Earth is found in this desolate condition and for the start of the seven, literal, 24 hour days. That time was, indeed, geologically very recently. In this respect only is the Young Earth Creationist fully correct. This is the context for the "gap" on which Ruin-Reconstruction doctrine is based. Exactly how long that time gap represents nobody can say for sure, but it most certainly could accommodate hundreds of millions of years, but a gap is most certainly there.

At this juncture the diehard Young Earth Creationist, still refusing to consider the Scriptural facts just presented, brushes reason aside and pontificates that the doctrine of this gap is nothing more than a compromise of the Scriptures to accommodate the long periods of time required by the Evolutionary model. This is their answer to anything, Biblical or Scientific, that allows for an old age for the Earth. Is this a valid argument? Not really!

The Earth is "without form and void" at Genesis 1:2 and in darkness. There is no indication of anything being alive on the surface of the Earth at this time, and that time is roughly about 6,000 years ago. Now, common sense and logic tells you that, if nothing was alive on the Earth at that point of time, then there could be nothing from which this world's life forms could have evolved. The literal wording of Genesis 1:2 rules out the possibility that anything (or anyone) living today evolved from anything that existed before the seven days. Every living thing today was made/created during the days of Genesis. This is why the specific phrasing of "after his kind" or "after their kind" is used by the Spirit in describing the Lord's regenerative work. There is no room for continuing Evolution. The implication is that what creatures live on the Earth today were modeled after the same pattern of living things that were alive on the Earth in the world before this one. There was a clean break in the genetic lines of descent. And, since there is not an unbroken genetic line of ancestry, there is no Evolution from the previous world to this one.

Again, remember the fact that when Thomas Chalmers began to preach about the Gap in Genesis (in the early 19th Century) it was well before Charles Darwin even published. So Chalmers' motivation never was to accommodate the Theory of Evolution because it had not even been proposed at that time. (Gee, I wonder why YECs don't bring up that fact.)

But that answer has not fully addressed the question. If the "Gap Theory" is not a compromise to evolutionary theory, as our Young Earth Creationist friends fraudulently claim, then what is the Biblical purpose in allowing for an old age for the Earth and an old world order before the seven days of Genesis? The truth is that it points the way to understanding what happened in the Earth's ancient history shortly after "the beginning" (Genesis 1:1) of all things and reveals the origins and background about Mankind's mortal spiritual adversary, Satan. He has been around for a long, long time and the Earth's geological and fossil record of catastrophes and mass extinctions are the legacy of his original fall in the distant past.  And this knowledge leads directly to the core of understanding who we are, why we were placed here afterwards, and why we need salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a sobering body of Biblical information that the "god of this world" (see: 2 Corinthians 4:4) fights hard to suppress.

Have you never wondered why is there darkness present at Genesis 1:2 when the Scriptures say that God is light and in Him there is no darkness (1 John 1:5)? Where did Satan come from, and when did he turn against God? He was in the Garden of Eden, already an enemy of God, before Adam and Eve transgressed. So why is there no mention of that creature's creation or fall anywhere in the Genesis narrative? When were the Angels created? If man was made "a little lower than the angels" (see Psalms 8:5) then what are they and when were they made? What are the devils in the Gospels and where did they come from? These are the mysteries that the Gap interpretation of Genesis unlocks through prayerfully considered verses found throughout the Bible and the observation of many clues in the geologic record. This is all covered in greater detail later in the study.

The reader should keep firmly in mind that the state-of-the-art of scientific knowledge is constantly changing and completely disregards any input from the Holy Bible. To assume that the scientific theories of today are the end of all true knowledge is foolishness. Conversely, to shun and deny sound scientific evidence under the banner of "Defending the Faith" against “Evil Evolutionists” is equally unwise and foolish - a discredit to the Faith that claims to be the fountain of all truth.

As Christians dedicated to finding and defending the truth, we should make every effort to understand what the literal Biblical text is actually saying, by its own Scripturally-defined terms, before attempting to harmonize it with our current scientific understanding or traditional belief system.

God is the Divine Author of both the Scriptures and the Earth’s Geologic record. Both are from His hand. Both witness to historical and spiritual Truth. He established the principles and physics by which we can search out the answers to things preserved within the Earth’s geology. His Scriptures provide us with a definitive source of Authority and a faithful guide to verify the validity of those answers. Therefore, it is our firm belief that there cannot possibly be any real contradiction in facts between Geology and Genesis. Any such contradictions only arise within the flawed paradigm of our understanding, be it scientific or scriptural.

Let's be honest. Creationism will never find fair and equal standing and acceptance with the non-believing world’s accepted paradigm of origins. The truth of the Bible must be accepted by faith as the Word of God. The world has placed its “faith” in the Theory of Evolution and carnal reasoning. The supernatural intervention or acts of an invisible Divine Sovereign can neither be proved nor disproved by the scientific method. Regrettably, a large segment of Fundamental Christianity has placed its faith in an interpretation of Genesis which denies not only the historical facts contained within the Earth itself but, in some cases, the concise wording of the Holy Bible as well. A rightly-divided exegesis of the Genesis account, however, reveals the full truth when the geologic evidence is examined in the light of a truly literal Scriptural context.

Without the original Hebrew and Greek Bible manuscripts, (The originals no longer exist - only variants of copies.) one must either put his trust in the opinions of modern scholars or in a reliable Bible translation he can trust as a final authority in all matters. Without apology, we have taken a stand for the King James Authorized Version of the Bible as that Scriptural authority in the English language. This translation (and it is a translation) once command wide respect within the Fundamental Church. It still does in some faithful congregations.

 

Can the King James Bible translation be Trusted?

This is a hot-button question that raises even more heated controversy than the Creationism vs. Evolution debate. It is a question that has caused many church-splits and brings out the nastier side of Christian behavior and attitudes (all in the name of the Lord, you understand). And, these days, those that trust the Authority of the translation are callously branded and maligned as being King James Only believers by the majority of the flock of the church of the Laodiceans. (See: Revelations 3:14) Since this a subject matter that would require volumes to completely document, we will confine our discussion to where it deals with the book of Genesis.

In the course of their work, the translators of the Authorized King James Bible (first published in 1611) were led to leave two subtle textual indicators within their final English translation of the book of Genesis to call the readers' attention to the doctrine of a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Keep in mind that this was done over 400 years ago, long before Darwin or the founding of the modern geological sciences. These indicators are not found in more recent English translations, because contemporary scholars say they were "mistranslations" of the Hebrew words. But were they really?

The first of these two "mistranslations" involves these two verses:

"¶ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
(Genesis 1:1 KJV) 

"¶ Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them."
(Genesis 2:1 KJV) 

The word "heaven" (singular) in Genesis 1:1 and the word "heavens" (plural) at Genesis 2:1 are both from the same Hebrew word (shâmayim).  Modern scholars insist that the word "heaven" in Genesis 1:1 should also be rendered plural; thus all new English versions say "heavens" in Genesis 1:1. Technically, that is not quite correct. The tense in the Hebrew is the dual.  It is easily confused with the plural, inasmuch as Hebrew words take on an im" ending when made plural.  Ha'shamayim looks like a plural word. However, the ayim ending is a special case called the dual.  It always describes exactly two (unlike the strict plural), but the two are considered as one. We have a similar expression in English. For example, when we speak of a "pair of pants" or a "pair of glasses," we never think of these items as more than one despite the "s" ending on the nouns (normally a plural indicator). The AV1611 translators obviously knew this. As you study the materials on this site you will begin to understand their choices for certain English renderings.

In respect to Gap Theory doctrine, the implication is that there was a structural difference in the "heavens" of the old world (when the heaven and Earth were originally created) as compared to the three-heavens structure God established in the new world after the seven-days regeneration. That is discussed in greater detail later and will give you insight into the ambiguous phrase "no more sea" found at Revelation 21:1 after the Final Judgment. You will learn that it cross-references back to the dividing of the waters spoken of in Genesis 1:7 on the second creative day.

The second "mistranslation" concerns these two verses:

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."
(Genesis 1:28 KJV) 

"¶ And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth."
(Genesis 9:1 KJV) 

The fur really flies over the KJV Bible translators' choice of English words in these two verses, but especially so in Genesis 1:28 of the creation narrative. Modern scholars (and most Young Earth Creationists) insist that the Hebrew word (male) should be translated as "fill," which certainly is one meaning of the Hebrew word, and it is rendered as "fill" instead of "replenish" in most newer translations. But in the case of Genesis 9:1 where Noah and his family are instructed to RE-populate an earth that has been wiped out by the flood, the word "replenish" as translated in the old KJV Bible renders a more accurate English meaning than does the word "fill."  Because the KJV translators used the word "replenish" in both Genesis 9:1 and Genesis 1:28, on the surface this seems to indicate that the translators were pointing to a similarity in circumstances between Adam and Noah in their respective Divine commissions. If the word "replenish" stands in Genesis 1:28, then both Adam and Noah are told to repopulate a desolate earth after a major destructive event, specifically, a flood:

"And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters."
(Genesis 1:2 KJV)

Since the flood of Noah's time was a judgment upon the world of that time, then a flood before Adam's creation would imply a previous judgment upon an old world order before the seven days of the creation narrative.

To insist that the word "fill" is the best rendering implies that the King James Bible translators did not understand the true meaning of the Hebrew word and "mistranslated" male in both those verses.  But did they really?  Just five verses before rendering male as "replenish" in Genesis 1:28, the same translators rendered male as "fill" in Genesis 1:22:

"And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."
(Genesis 1:22 KJV)

This fact shows that those translators most certainly knew the subtle differences in meanings of the Hebrew word male and were well aware of the interpretive implications of using the English word "replenish" in Genesis 1:28 and 9:1 in the King James translation.

Now, if these were the only places in the Scriptures that gave support to the "Gap Theory" interpretation that would be very skimpy evidence indeed upon which to base sound doctrine. But, as we have already pointed out, there are other literal wording considerations within the Holy Bible that raise valid interpretative issues. For example, there is the issue of the Biblical word "Generations":

Like mankind, the Bible says that the Earth and the heavens also have "generations" in their histories:

"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,"
(Genesis 2:4 KJV)

"This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;"
(Genesis 5:1 KJV)

"These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."
(Genesis 6:9 KJV)

In all three of the verses above the word "generations" is defined as a line of descent, a family history from one generation to the next. The Hebrew word for generations is plural in all cases. If God only made the heavens and Earth once, as Young Earth Creationists would have you believe, then the term "generations" should have been in the singular, which it is NOT in either Hebrew or the KJV English translation.

The Holy Scriptures are clearly saying that the seven days' work was a new generation of the heavens and the Earth when God made the world of Man following the desolation found at the time of Genesis 1:2. Something similar will be done in the future. The Bible says there will be yet another generation of the heavens and Earth at the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ:

"And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
(Matthew 19:28 KJV)

"Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
(2 Peter 3:13 KJV)

"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind."
(Isaiah 65:17 KJV)

The geologic and fossil records are the surviving evidence that God preserved for us to testify to the truth that the Earth is very old and was inhabited for a long period before the seven days of Genesis chapter one. Those records, written in stone, also provide evidence of a long reign of Death upon the old Earth and the end of the old world order by a universal destructive event.

Clearly, if we believe the literal wording of the Bible, there was indeed a universal creative event during the seven days of Genesis, about 6,000 literal years ago. But the literal wording of the Bible and the Earth's geology reveals that there is more to the story - it was not the original creation of all things. Understanding the time gap in Genesis opens a vast knowledge gap. You just can't rely on your own understanding or the traditions of man to obtain this knowledge. You have to TRUST THE BOOK.

"For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
(Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV)

Previously on this page we stressed that in order to understand what the literal Biblical text is actually saying, it must be interpreted by its own Scripturally-defined terms. On the page that immediately follows we will discuss two very important Scripturally-defined terms, and the differences in conceptual meanings they convey. It is essential that students of God's Word comprehend these terms and differences in order to discern truth from traditional assumptions. These words are "Earth" and "World" and they are not same.

 

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