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Cyrus Ingerson Scofield, whose Reference Bible (Oxford University Press, 1909) helped to popularized the erroneous ‘gap theory’ compromise. PD-old-70

How Genesis 13 undermines the ‘gap theory’

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Cyrus Ingerson Scofield, whose Reference Bible (Oxford University Press, 1909) helped to popularized the erroneous ‘gap theory’ compromise. PD-old-70

Cyrus Ingerson Scofield, whose Reference Bible (Oxford University Press, 1909) helped to popularized the erroneous ‘gap theory’ compromise. PD-old-70

The gap theory has come in different forms since its conception in the early 1800s. It was a response to the long geological ages that were coming to the forefront, from a naturalistic worldview of the earth’s geological history, in the late 1700s. However the gap theory is like a theological monkey swinging along on ever shortening ropes with every biblical objection put to it, until there is no rope short enough to swing from and the monkey falls down. The truth is that Genesis is the book of beginnings, with God the originator of all things. So we should not pander to a wholly materialistic explanation of things by trying to fit it into the Bible and coming up with ideas like the gap theory. For more detailed accounts of what the gap theory entails, and the many good biblical objections to it, see the related articles (listed at the end of this one) and recommended resources.

However, although biblical objections to the Gap theory have long been known, surprisingly, the view is still widely held. After creation talks with open question times, I and other CMI speakers still encounter people asking if there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, or between 1:2 and 1:3. In my experience, most people don’t really understand why there would be a gap there, and all the particular nuances of it. Rather, it is something that they have heard about, which they then use it as an excuse not to take the Genesis timescale at face value. They believe instead that the purported billions of years can be fit into this alleged gap.

I would like to look at Genesis 1:1–3 from a different angle, from a non-technical angle, by comparing Scripture with Scripture. That is by examining the structure of the narrative (how the story unfolds), as it is often easier to see things clearly when the pattern is repeated elsewhere.

Genesis 1:1–3 is a historical narrative and comparisons can be made to other biblical passages written in the same style which can help us understand what is going on, in this instance with Genesis 13:1-3. Specifically, there are grammatical terms, called the waw consecutive and waw disjunctive, used in both of these passages.1 Since most readers can’t read Hebrew and distinguish them, I will explain using English translations of the verses in the table below, showing the structure of the narrative….

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  • John Samuel Wilson

    There is a problem with this “explanation”…. In Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created…” Created in the Hebrew is “bara” which means created from NOTHING. In Verse 2, there IS something, but it is formless and void, dark and there was water (deep) — i.e. IMPERFECTION. Now we KNOW God doesn’t “bara” imperfect, formless and void things…. So, what happened between the time that God “bara” the Heaven and the Earth as perfect and now we see imperfect? Ergo…there is a “gap” which is NOT specifically explained (except in other areas in the Bible which refer t the angelic conflict).
    Could it be that someone else was charged with overseeing the Earth and corrupted the perfect bara of God (Jude 6)? Is Genesis 1:2 a “reset” or a “reformatting of the hard drive” to prepare for a second overseer — man? Why was satan hanging around if he was not — perhaps — somehow associated with the earth at a different time?

    • ttasker

      you are making an assumption that process equals imperfection. There weren’t animals on the earth on day 1 either, does that mean that God created it imperfect? Further when Jesus healed the blind man in the gospel of Mark and he didn’t immediately see, does that imply a “gap of time” or that Jesus failed in His power?

      • John Samuel Wilson

        I make no such assumption, the Scriptures are clear… God is perfectly perfect. Everything HE creates begins perfect. The PROCESSES HE uses are perfect. Therefore, if ANYTHING is found imperfect — HE may perfect it (e.g. Genesis 1:2, et al) — it did not START that way if HE created/formed it. Therefore, something occurs between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 which infuses imperfection.

        I refer you to Genesis 1:26-27… Again, “bara” is used to denote creation of man out of nothing…first Him (that is Yashua) and then Male and Female, them. Man was perfect. There was no imperfection.

        Later in Genesis 2:7, God FORMS Adam from existing material (material that did not exist prior to Genesis 1:1). Now, was Adam PERFECT at this point? Yes, his spirit and his body were both perfect. He knew no sin. The same later, when the woman was formed. No where in this “process” is there any imperfection.

        At what point did chaos enter the Garden? And from where/whom did the chaos (Hebrew “RA”) come from? Was this part of God’s process? If so, then God is to blame for current chaos and suffering…but this is not Biblical. Certainly God is able to turn chaos into perfection (e.g. Genesis 1:2, et al). But HE does not START with imperfection and imperfection is not part of HIS “process.”

        If you are claiming imperfection in God’s process, then you are contradicting the Word. I refer you to Deuteronomy 32:4, 2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18:30.

        What occurs in Genesis 1:2 et al is a “reformatting of the hard drive” to undo the corruption — if you will pardon the poor analogy. This is not a new creation, but a reformation of material that existed AFTER the initial Creation — which was perfect. And how can I know this? Because God repeats the process in Genesis 6 – 7, et al.

        • edc

          You are assuming that “void” and “darkness” are not perfect creations of God. He is the creator of ALL things. The fall of Satan and man is what made “void” and “darkness” negatives.

          • John Samuel Wilson

            You are mistaken and without understanding, for it is written: “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”
            Furthermore, it is also written: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host.” And “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
            it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
            You are ascribing qualities to God that do not exist in God.

          • edc

            Because God is Light does not mean that he can not create “darkness”. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and VOID, and DARKNESS was upon the face of the deep.” Not “became” void and dark, but, “was”. Then the “Spirit Of God(Light) moved”.

          • John Samuel Wilson

            What part of “In Him there is not darkness” do you not understand?

          • edc

            The definition of “darkness” is “the absence of light”. According to Gen.1:3-4, God created light and then divided the light from darkness and called the light “beneficial”(good). There was no sin at this time, so why would darkness be “evil”? Darkness is still not evil, it represents evil and is loved by those that want to commit sin.(Jn3:19 -21)

          • John Samuel Wilson

            If it “was” void and dark, it did not become thus because of God and it certainly could not have been created thus by God… it HAD to be a result of an opposing force corrupting what “was” perfect. So, at that point in time at Genesis 1:2 the statement “was” is a condition in operation at that time. Therefore, something happened between verse 1 and 2.

          • pray at sunrise

            My point exactly. If they’ll do more Hebrew homework they’d find this reference (Gen 1:2) is a transitive verb in the pluperfect form and therefore, actually reads, “But, the earth had become without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of G_D brooded over the face of the waters”
            G_D never does anything “without form and void”. To do so would imply He can lie or act without perfect love or flawless benevolence. All He does is life and with purpose to sustain.

          • pray at sunrise

            Satan and the angels were created before the earth and it’s host during the 6 days, according to Job 38. They sang and rejoiced at the creation, so clearly they were pre-existent at the formation of the earth

          • pray at sunrise

            If you’ll do more Hebrew homework you’ll find this reference (Gen 1:2) is a transitive verb in the pluperfect form and therefore, actually reads, “But, the earth had become without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of G_D brooded over the face of the waters”
            G_D never does anything “without form and void”. To do so would imply He can lie or act without perfect love or flawless benevolence. All He does is life and with purpose to sustain.
            Please forgive my interuption and presumption.

        • Pray at sunrise

          I very much appreciate your point of view, and while some of Mr. Harris’ writings bear strong and valid points, I offer this bit of theory, and some scriptural truth.

          The unfortunate and inaccurate rendering of Gen 1:2 has caused much confusion. A far more accurate rendering reads “But the earth had become without form and void” (Weismandel and others agree, as do I, myself a Hebrew scholar for over 25 years).
          A gap is implied, and subsequently misunderstood and misapplied by those seeking to add “millions of years” hoping to support theistic evolution and a host of other heretical theories.
          The problem results by trying to imply time in the gap as opposed to assuming time was the solution applied to the gap, in a manner of speaking.

          The 6 days and the seventh (the shabbat) cannot be understood from ‘within’ time, as the “gap” and it’s effects happened in the perfect space of eternity. The six days of creation are the beginning of time itself (as we understand it) as G_D created a fracture in eternity to store us in, mercifully, to give all of mankind a space-time in which to be redeemed, so that Satan’s usurpation could indeed play itself out. I site John 8:44 where Jesus (the LORD) states that Satan was a murderer “from the beginning” and a liar and the father thereof. I submit that there is sufficient evidence here to show that Satan’s fall happened in other than the 4 dimensions we know and inhabit. (Theoretical physics assert that Jesus must have enjoyed at least 11 dimensions, and we can mathematically prove at least 10)

          Further we know that Jesus is the “logos”, the word of creation if you will, and that He also is the “raima” which gives life to the scripture or “logos” and therefore it is reasonable to assert that the word or logos that G_D spoke on the first through sixth days was in fact “Jehovah is salvation” or more aptly “Joshua”, while He was calling creation back out of darkness, out of “without form and void”, indeed enacting salvation from the darkness created when Satan acted out in eternity. So, we can see that possibly, the six days of creation took place in more than one set of dimensional realities and that is why it is so hard to interpret and why G_D framed the creation picture the way He did.

    • Steve Harris

      The problem with placing “the angelic conflict” in the alleged “gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is simply that ALL THINGs in heaven and on earth, including the host of heaven were pronounced VERY GOOD at the end of the 6th day, (see Genesis 1:30-2:4). Therefore, the angelic conflict that resulted in the being we call Satan had to be AFTER the SIXTH day and BEFORE Genesis 3:1 (where the Serpent appears, interpreted to be Satan in Revelation 21:2).
      In addition, the problem with ANY gap theory or day-age theory or any other theory that has physical death on earth before Adam sins is the gospel itself: Christ DIED for our sins. I Corinthians 15 all chapter shows that Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection were physical, historical events and Jesus is the 2nd Adam and the last Adam. Physical death entered the world as a result of Adam’s sin, (Romans 5:10-14).
      So, very simply, NO DEATH PRIOR TO ADAM’s SIN. If you want “creative days” to be long or short matters very little, because there can be NO DEATH before the end of the 6th day.

      • John Samuel Wilson

        For what purpose was the creation of man (an the habitat for man) other than to fellowship with God? It was this…Man was made to settle the Angelic Conflict. God is just and cannot condemn satan without first allowing him his “day in court.” Man was placed here to either chose God or chose satan. So long as one man choses God’s way, then satan loses. We are here to bear witness against satan. Therefore, how can you place the Angelic Conflict AFTER the creation of man?
        Further, you do not explain the source of void and darkness which are not characteristics of God.

        • Steve Harris

          Your response is loaded with unbiblical assumptions. First, please provide the verse that states that “man was made to settle the Angelic Conflict.” If you believe that, of course you have to have Satan’s fall before man was created. However, Genesis 1:31 says EVERYTHING God had made (including “Satan”) was “VERY GOOD.” Genesis 2:1 says “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them were finished.” So, unless you believe Satan (whatever that creature was before rebelling against God) existed outside of the heavens and the earth, unless you believe Satan was not part of the “host” of “the heavens and the earth”, unless you believe Satan was not included in “EVERYTHING that He had made” which was all “very good,” THEN you must believe that Satan’s FALL / rebellion occurred AFTER that pronouncement by God. Satan was “very good” AT THAT POINT. Genesis 3:1 starts with the serpent, and Revelations 21:2 interprets that old serpent was the devil (or Satan). So, the fall of Satan had to occur AFTER Genesis 1:31-2:1 and before 3:1, which places it AFTER God’s creation of Adam and before the temptation of Eve and Adam in the garden of Eden.

          With that kind of Scriptural evidence against your position how can you place the Angelic Conflict anywhere else?

          Rather than take what the Scripture plainly says, and follow that where it leads, it appears to me you have a theory of the “Angelic Conflict” which you are imposing upon the Scriptural evidence so that you cannot see what it clearly is stating.

          As for your “darkness” comment:
          As the article explained, Genesis 1:2 is not a chronologically subsequent event, but merely a description of the status of things from Genesis 1:1. To paraphrase Henry Morris’ commentary on Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the space time matter continuum, and that matter was formless and empty (void)”. As the book title by a different author says “Unformed and Unfilled.” The rest of Genesis 1:1 tells how God created form/structure then inhabitants for those structures from the space time matter he had originally created in Genesis 1:1. The darkness need not have been a moral darkness, but simply a physical darkness before God created light in the space/time/matter he had formerly created. Some have pointed out how the first 3 days are form/structure and the last 3 days are inhabitants of those first 3. There seems some vague & imperfect parallels between days 1&4, 2&5, 3&6, but I would not make too much of it. It is just interesting to observe. The point is that the original created matter was apparently in darkness, without form and uninhabited/empty (void), and God subsequently created light, form, and inhabitants in the rest of the 6 days of creation.

          At the END of those 6 days
          EVERYTHING God had created was VERY GOOD, including ALL the HOST of the heavens, as well as the earth.
          Therefore, no beings were fallen at the point of God’s resting on the 7th day.

          • John Samuel Wilson

            Mr. Harris, Your assumptions beg the question. You must allow the Bible to interpret the Bible and not get stuck in religious paradigms.
            Was satan a physical being or a spirit being? The answer is simple. In the Old Testament Hebrew refers to all angels (including Lucifer BEFORE his rebellion) as “bin Elohim” this denotes them as spirit beings. The initial creation of man in Genesis 1 was the creation of the spirit-man. The spirit-man was placed into a physical “tent”(and one day will occupy a physical mansion). The angelic hosts, too, are spirit beings…including satan and his demonic acolytes.
            Indeed, when a man is “born again,” he is not physically reborn…is he? No, the rebirth is a SPIRITUAL rebirth. We are IN this world…but we are not OF this world.

            Why is this Biblically-supported distinction important? Because satan was not the serpent an the serpent was not satan… satan POSSESSED the serpent (demonic possession of a beast of the field — recall Legion cast into the herd of pigs?). satan required a physical vehicle to act in the physical realm and used the serpent. Other angels that would chose to join satan’s rebellion would follow this example in Gensis 6. Since then, the serpent has been an allegorical symbol of satan. When the woman abdicated her dominion OVER the serpent and then Adam abdicated his leadership role to the woman, then we no longer possessed dominion (Psalm 49:20, et al)…it is why satan had authority to come in the presence of God in Job…because Adam abdicated this position to him.

            Now…IF the Angelic Conflict occurs IN THE GARDEN, why then does not Genesis refer to LUCIFER (the name of satan, the serpent, BEFORE the fall.)? The implication is that Lucifer’s rebellion occurs BEFORE the garden…which is supported by the gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

            Our physical world is not reality… it is rather a simulation to solve spiritual matters. You and I are not our physical bodies. God is Spirit and must be worshipped in Spirit and in Truth. This is a critical fact that materialists miss. The Bible supports this time and again. As for the Bible, it is largely silent as to what was and what occurred before even Genesis 1:1, but we know that God existed before then. We know the angels existed before then. What ELSE existed before Genesis 1:2-31, et al? God has left that out as largely irrelevant to the primary theme and focus of the Bible…. Was there another simulation running on this planet before God decided to establish this TEMPORAL habitat to support mankind? This simulation, too, will one day melt away (also supported by the Bible).

            Do not get caught in religious paradigms… God is Sovereign and His handling of this plant does not fit neatly in the manmade box many theologians have crafted. This simulation is intended to run for about 7000 years, and then He will reformat the hard drive (as promised in the Bible). What will He do with it afterwards…if anything? If this is so (an it is) then what did he do BEFORE? Are you so vane as to believe that this is the first time He has ever done such a thing? By limiting your vision of God, you are guilty of the same church theology which held that the sun revolved around the earth and denied the existence of stars not visible to our naked eye — because we held a human-centric view of God.

          • Steve Harris

            Mr. Wilson, it is truly your assumptions that beg the question. So, rather than trade complex responses based on my “religious paradigm” vs your “religious paradigm”, permit me to list a few points for which you need to provide SPECIFIC VERSES that STATE those points. Please do not clutter the response with a lengthy series of assumptions by merely restating your “religious paradigm”.
            The following are not necessarily in order of importance, but they are numbered for ease of reference:

            (1) First, please provide the verse that states that “man was made to settle the Angelic Conflict.”

            (2) Please provide a verse that somehow exempts “Satan” from being included in Genesis 1:31-2:1: Genesis 1:31 says EVERYTHING God had made (including “Satan”) was “VERY GOOD.” Genesis 2:1 says “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them were finished.” Without such a verse, you cannot escape my conclusion: Therefore, no beings were fallen at the point of God’s resting on the 7th day.

            (3) You claim to “know” that the angels existed before Genesis 1:1. [ “As for the Bible, it is largely silent as to what was and what occurred before even Genesis 1:1, but we know that God existed before then. We know the angels existed before then. What ELSE existed before Genesis 1:2-31, et al? God has left that out as largely irrelevant to the primary theme and focus of the Bible….” ] Please supply the verse that STATES that ANGELS were created/existed BEFORE Genesis 1:1.

            (4) Please supply clear biblical statement that the angels fell into sin (rebelled against God) before the end of the sixth creative day.

            (5) Again in the following quote, you beg the question, assuming the very point in question: “The implication is that Lucifer’s rebellion occurs BEFORE the garden…which is supported by the gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.” The point of the article is that there is NO GAP between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, and that this understanding is further supported by the similar structure in Genesis 13:1-3 compared to Genesis 1:1-3. Aside from your misinterpretation of Genesis 1:1 & 1:2, you have NO BIBLICAL VERSES that state clearly that such a gap exists. We are reading 1:2 as describing what WAS the state of things in 1:1, AT THE SAME TIME. You are reading 1:2 as describing what BECAME (subsequently) the state of things (formerly) created in 1:1. Aside from your assertion of the “gap,” do you have any verse(s) in the Bible that CLEARLY STATE that such a gap in time exists between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 ?

            Thank you in advance for responding with specific STATEMENTS from the BIBLE, rather than with your “religious paradigm” which ASSUMES the points in question. Please note that point #2 above is my clear and plain biblical statement that there were no fallen beings before the end of the 6th creative day.

  • John_Eidsmoe

    A basic principle of hermeneutics (Biblical interpretation) is to interpret Scripture the way the immediate audience would interpret it.
    Moses’s immediate audience was the Hebrew community of about 1400 BC. As they read Genesis 1, they certainly would not assume there was an unstated gap of thousands or millions of years in Genesis 1:2. Such a reading is unnatural and assumes unstated premises not found in the text. The immediate audience would understand the six days of Genesis as beginning with 1:1, and that is the sense in which we should understand it today.

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