Major Objections to the Gap Theory

Content Author: 
Reagan, David

My first objective in this study is to establish the possibility of a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  In order to do this, I will answer the objections to the gap that I am familiar with.  We will look at these objections one at a time. 

Objection One:  No Direct Biblical Statement Teaches the Gap

I agree that no simple scriptural statement can be found that declares the gap—at least not any that I have found.  However, this is true of several doctrines.  Where do you find the single verse that teaches the age of accountability or the pre-tribulation rapture?  God teaches us to study the scripture by laying precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little (Isaiah 28:10).  Many doctrines must be established by comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13).  This objection holds no water. 

Objection Two:  Scripture Limits Creation to Six Days

I count this as the strongest objection to the possibility of an original creation and destruction.  Two verses especially stand out:

  • “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” – Exodus 20:11
  • “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” – Exodus 31:17

I realize the strength of these verses.  However, they often seem so strong to those who oppose the gap because they assume certain things about those who believe in it.  I, for one, do not believe that the stars presently in the sky existed before the gap.  For reasons I cannot go into now, I believe the original universe was much smaller than the one we see today.  I also believe that the destruction to the original world was so great that everything had to be entirely remade.  The world as we know it today began with the six-day creation but that does not preclude an earlier world.

Notice also the distinction between the words created and made.  The above verses declare that the heaven, the earth, the sea and all that is in them were made, not created, in six days.  However, in the beginning (Genesis 1:1) God created the heaven and the earth.  A careful study of scripture will show that these differences should not lightly be dismissed.

The Bible has three common words for making something: create, make and form.  These words are similar and their meanings often overlap.  God created the world (Genesis 1:1); He made the world (Genesis 2:2); He formed the world (Psalm 90:2).  You might assume that this makes the three words identical in meaning.  However, this is not the case.  They are distinct words having distinct shades of meaning.  Consider the following: 

Both create and make (made) are used in reference to general creation (Genesis 2:3-4; 5:1; 6:6-7). All three words (create, make, form) are used to describe the creation of man (Genesis 1:27; 2:7; 5:1). The common thought in all three words is to bring something to a finished or completed state of being.  But there are important distinctions between the words as well. 

  • To create means to bring into being; to cause to come into existence.  This word emphasizes origin and the originator (Creator).  Its use is exemplified in Genesis 1:1, 21, 27; Psalm 89:12; Isaiah 42:5; Ephesians 2:10; Revelation 4:11; Revelation 10:6.
  • To make means to put together; to produce an end result by putting parts or ingredients together. It emphasizes process.  See Genesis 1:7, 16, 25, 31; Genesis 2:2, 22; Genesis 3:1.
  • To form means to give shape; to bring to its final form.  This word emphasizes a finished product.  See Genesis 2:7, 8, 19; Job 26:13; Psalm 90:2; Psalm 94:9; Psalm 95:5.

Pay close attention to how these words are used in scripture.  They can all be applied to the same item but they emphasize different aspects of the act.  In some cases, the difference may be minor.  In other cases, the distinction is very important.  A man can make a chair because he can put the pieces together.  However, he cannot create a tree.  Always notice what God is saying.  Therefore, to say that God made the heaven and earth in six days does not necessarily mean that He originally brought them into existence at that time. 

It might help to look at the other end of time—when God destroys the present earth and creates a new one.  Consider the following verses:

  •  “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” – Ecclesiastes 1:4
  • “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 Peter 3:7
  • “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” – 2 Peter 3:13

As is clearly taught in 2 Peter and in other passages (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1-5), the heaven and earth of today will be utterly destroyed and a new heaven and earth will replace them.  These new heavens and earth are even said to be created.  Yet, God must see a continuance in His creation of some sort because He says in Ecclesiastes 1:4 that “the earth abideth for ever.” 

Although the old earth is destroyed and a new one is created, what He creates is still called earth and the earth, as such, abides forever.  Now that is a Bible-believing view of Ecclesiastes 1:4.  However, I challenge you to check with your favorite Bible teacher on this verse.  More than likely, he will tell you that “for ever” in this verse simply means a long, long time.  If he is anti-gap, he probably believes that forever means about 6,000 years.  The biblical use of forever does create some puzzles, but I am convinced that we are too quick to minimize its meaning for our own purposes.

In conclusion, all the things mentioned in Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17 as having been made in six days could easily have been made during that time without denying a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.  The original world was destroyed almost to the extent that this world will be destroyed.  Even the word creation would fit it in most cases. 

Objection Three:  The Gap is an Accommodation to Godless Geology

I admit that many of the early proponents of the gap compromised with modern science in their beliefs and teachings.  They used the gap to explain the geological ages, the fossil record and the existence of dinosaur skeletons.  Obviously, this was wrong. 

There is no reason to bow to modern science in any of these areas.  Creation with apparent age (meaning things looked mature at the time of creation just as Adam was created as a mature adult and not as a baby) and Noah’s flood could easily explain the geological structures as we have them.  However, a weak argument in favor of a position is no reason to reject it.  The gap I am talking about is not a scientific accommodation but a biblical doctrine.

Objection Four:  The Grammar of Genesis Rejects the Gap

This argument takes various forms but usually centers on the opening of Genesis 1:2 – “And the earth was without form, and void.”  This argument states that the “And” which begins the verse and the “was” that describes the earth immediately connects the statement in Genesis 1:1 with the description in Genesis 1:2.  In other words, the grammar of the verse does away with any possibility of a gap.  The earth is being described as without form and void at the point of its creation by God.

The simplest answer to this objection is a comparison of the structure of this passage with one found in Genesis 4:2, which states: “And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.”  Notice how these two passages line up in their basic form.

  Genesis 1:1-2 Genesis 4:2
Noun followed by period the heaven and the earth. bare his brother Abel.
New sentence begins with… And And
Original noun repeated the earth Abel
Followed by “was” was without form, and void was a keeper of sheep

In practically every way, the grammatical structure of Genesis 4:2 is the same as that of Genesis 1:1-2.  But consider this.  If this wording requires the earth to be without form and void at the very moment of creation, then it also requires Abel to be a keeper of sheep at the very moment of his birth.  We naturally assume a period of time between Abel’s birth and the taking up of his life occupation.  Certainly, the grammar of Genesis 1:2 allows for a period of time between the original creation of the earth and its description.

Objection Five: Adam Must Be the First Man

The objection states that Adam is clearly called the first man. 

  • 1 Corinthians 15:45 – “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”
  • 1 Corinthains 15:47 – “The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.”

The answer is simple. Obviously, the original inhabitants of the earth were not men.  Perhaps they were angels or some other God-created being.  But they were definitely not men. 

Objection Six: The Origin of Death and Sin in the World

Adam is responsible for bringing sin and death into the world: 

Romans 5:12 – “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” –see also 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

Therefore, the argument goes, there could have been no earlier destruction of the world since this would require sin and death before Adam.

Clearly, Adam’s fall brought sin and death into this present evil world (Galatians 1:4).  However, Christ is declared to be the maker of the “worlds” (Hebrews 1:2).  There must be more than one world and the scripture bears this out.  The following worlds are found in scripture:

  1. The “world that then was” in 2 Peter 3:6 – “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”
  2. The “old world” in 2 Peter 2:5 – “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;”
  3. This “present evil world” in Galatians 1:4 – “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:”
  4. The “world to come” in Hebrews 2:5 – “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.” (also Hebrews 6:5)

No doubt the sin and death in this present world traces back to the sin of Adam in the garden.  However, this does not mean that Adam brought sin into existence.  The serpent was already in rebellion when he tempted Eve.  Neither does it mean that there could not have been an earlier world which had sin introduced into it and was totally destroyed.

We have looked at the major objections to an original world.  They all come short of disproving the possibility of this world when considered scripturally.  However, the original earth and its subsequent destruction have not been proven.  We will now look at three sources of evidence for the early history of the earth: 

  1. Evidence from the scriptural account of creation
  2. Evidence from the description of the earth
  3. Evidence from the doctrine of the devil
David Reagan

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