Many churches these days are working diligently to argue against the “gap theory” by declaring it “anti-Scriptural” or a “heresy.” Some are even putting anti-gap declarations into church constitutions and by-laws. As someone who believes the gap is true, I am put into an awkward place by many church leaders. I am told that my view is against the Bible. I have been called, by proxy, a heretic by my pastors. This is my public declaration and defense of what I will call The Gap, because I do not believe it is a theory.
There are multiple debates over phenomena in the Bible. Is it a literal or figurative book? Are the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 fallen angels or sons of Seth? Were the Earth and universe created in six literal days or is there a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?
These debates rage on, and I do admit my enjoyment in studying and trying to understand the mysteries of the Scriptures. I would never go so far as to call others “heretics” for arguing over topics that are not entirely clear. After all Luke 8:10 says, “And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”
In other words, not all of us have knowledge or understanding of God’s mysteries. It is okay that we disagree on some subjects. It does not make us heretics to debate the sons of Gods or The Gap. It helps us have a greater understanding of God and his creation to study these topics. That being said, here are my arguments on The Gap. You will notice that I will use logic, reason, and Scripture. My view is not a heresy, but is entirely consistent with God’s word.
What is The Gap? The Gap posits that God created the heavens and Earth “in the beginning” as stated in Genesis 1:1. However, the Earth that was created at that time was judged and destroyed by a flood. The creation of the Earth as we now know it began with Genesis 1:2 some unknown time later.
Without Form and Void
The Bible says in Genesis 1:2, “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.”
Jeremiah 4:23 states, “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.” This passage in Jeremiah discusses that there was “no man” (v. 25), and “all the cities thereof were broken down” (v. 26). This is a passage about the Tribulation, but it is a “type” of Genesis 1:2. It uses the same phrasing, “without form and void,” to describe a great judgment where God destroyed an entire civilization out of his “fierce anger” (v. 26).
There was a created Earth (Genesis 1:1; Jeremiah 4:23a) that then BECAME “without form, and void” (Genesis 1:2a; Jeremiah 4:23b) and featured deep cosmic darkness (Genesis 1:2b; Jeremiah 4:23c).
If we understand Jeremiah is referring to the Earth as we know it being so utterly destroyed that it no longer has a form, why can we not believe that the same logic applies to The Gap?
When applied to The Gap, there could have been another civilization (likely not human) who angered God and ended up being “desolate” like the one in Jeremiah 4 (v. 27).
If you read Jeremiah 4 from the perspective of an exact telling of what happened during The Gap, I think you will appreciate the awesome spectacle that might have taken place.
Perhaps this civilization was Atlantis? Just consider it for fun, but remember that it is a prophetic passage.
The Two Floods
2 Peter 3:5-7 tells us, “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: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 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.”
Verse 5 says the heavens and earth OF OLD. Verse 7 says the heavens and earth WHICH ARE NOW. This is a destruction of both heavens – notice the plural, meaning more than just the atmosphere (the “first” heaven), but also the universe (the second heaven) – and the Earth. Noah’s flood only destroyed the Earth, not the heavens, and that is the flood depicted in verse 6.
Verse 5 backs up The Gap as the destruction of the universe and earth OF OLD, which were remade in the rest of Genesis 1:2. This includes the heavens “which are now” and earth which was destroyed a second time in verse 6. This helps explain why “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” in verse 2. The waters surrounding the earth were a result of this great flood that occurred during The Gap. The creation story as we know it is a SECOND creation, as God destroyed his first creation some time after Genesis 1:1 before it was restored.
Let There Be Light
When God said “let there be light” in Genesis 1:3, what was its source? He had yet to create the sun and stars. The answer is that HE was the light source. God’s glory filled the heavens. Therefore, there had to be a change made to the earth at some point. He removed the ice/water that was covering the earth, which would explain how his light became unblocked. Dry land “appeared” in verse 9. The plants were “brought forth” by the Earth (like they were already there, not placed there at this time) in verse 12. It was not until verse 14 that the sun and stars were finally created.
So, God’s eternal light was not shining until verse 3. Darkness was upon “the face of the deep” (v. 2). What deep? The deep waters covering the Earth. God removed the waters allowing light, the appearance of land, and plants springing up from the ground all before the sun and stars were put in the second heaven. The Gap explains the mystery of “without form and void” quite well. And speaking of the second heaven, notice that light was “good” (v. 4), dividing the Earth and seas was “good” (v. 10), grass and plants were “good” (v. 12), stars and sun were “good” (v. 18), etc. At the end of each day during the creation, God thought his works were “good” – with one exception; the day he divided the firmament.
The Firmament Was Not “Good”
The firmament is the atmosphere, the sky, or in this case, the second heaven. On day two of creation, God remade the firmament (remember, it was destroyed according to 2 Peter), but did not declare it “good” like the rest of creation. Why?
There is no mention of when the fall of Satan occurred. We know it happened. We know that Satan was on Earth when Adam and Eve were there. However, when during the creation story did this occur? If God created the heaven and earth and every creature in 6 literal days, when was the fall? I posit that this occurred during the gap between Gen 1:1 and 1:2. This would explain 1) why God did not find the creation of the heavens and dividing of the firmament “good” in vs. 6-8, because Satan and his angels were not in heaven nor earth. He and his angels were in the “second heaven” aka the firmament; and 2) why God may have destroyed the first heaven and earth.
Have you ever considered where devils and familiar spirits come from? They are not angels. They are not THE devil or antichrist. There is zero evidence of angels possessing anyone, especially in numbers expressed by Legion in Mark 5. They are something else. Perhaps they are remnants of what was on that first iteration of Earth. As a bonus, there is no evidence of dinosaurs existing during Biblical times. When did they live? We know they did because we have discovered their bones. The often misunderstood passages of Leviathan and Behemoth in Job are references to Satan and Antichrist, not dinosaurs.
Replenishing the Earth
In Genesis 1:28, God tells Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” Notice that it says RE-plenish, not plenish. This means that the Earth was likely populated at one point, and needed to be replenished. The same command was given to Noah in Genesis 9:1 after humanity was destroyed by the flood. Arguers against The Gap usually attempt to go back to the Hebrew and convince us that “replenish” means “refill,” but anyone who studies language knows that there are often multiple possible definitions can be applied when translating a word.
This is where the “law of first mention” becomes important. This law states that a word used throughout the Bible has the same meaning as when it is first mentioned, unless context changes. This can be used in reverse as well. So, if we use Gen. 9:1 and understand that the world was just destroyed and civilization needs “replenished”, then by proxy we can go back to Gen. 1:28 and apply this same meaning.
This occurs first in Genesis 5. We know that Cain and Abel lived, and that Cain was still alive after murdering his brother, but neither are mentioned in the Adamic genealogy in Genesis 5. In other words, God destroyed the legacy of Cain just like the earth of Gen 1:1. He then “remade” Adam’s lineage through the line of Seth. There is a gap.
An even more prominent gap exists in Scripture that is rarely discussed when debating The Gap. It is conveniently forgotten when detractors attack The Gap for being a heresy. They seem to hold a strange “if it is not directly mentioned, it did not happen” mentality. The largest gap in Scripture is the one between two testaments. We can all agree that there is a 400 year period between the Old and New Testaments, but many Christians refuse to acknowledge that there can be a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
Consistent With Science (or Science is Consistent with The Gap)
This, for some reason, has been an attack against it. One of the primary attacks is that The Gap can be used in tandem with carbon dating as a Christian explanation for science that “contradicts” the Biblical account of creation that occurred 6,000 years ago. While I agree that carbon dating is sketchy and it is difficult to date something to 6,000,000,000 years ago, The Gap was originated almost twenty years before Darwin’s Origin of the Species and long before carbon dating was a tool.
While I understand that carbon dating might be off, it makes sense that the rocks and fossils can be absolutely ancient. We know that dinosaurs existed, but there is no Biblical evidence that they lived on THIS earth after Adam. If Noah was to take at least two of every living creature, were there dinosaurs on the ark? Probably not.
The Gap and science are entirely consistent with the idea of an ice age that destroyed the earth about 10,000 years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs (more fun on math based on human population here). The age of the planet prior to that event is unknown, but it was likely a pretty long period of time. Just because The Gap and science align, does not disprove the Bible or The Gap by using science. Both things can be true, and often are.
I am a dispensationalist – someone who believes that there are certain temporal ages or dispensations that help us rightly divide the Bible (2 Tim. 2:15). The best book on the subject is Dispensational Truth by Clarence Larkin.
According to Larkin, there are eight dispensations.
- Innocence – Garden of Eden
- Conscience – from The Fall to The Flood
- Human Government – Flood to Abraham
- The Family – Abraham to Moses
- Law – Moses to Christ
- Grace (the Church Age) – from Christ to the Tribulation
- Judgment – The Tribulation to the end of the Millennium
- Regeneration – The restoration of the Earth for all eternity
The number eight is significant because it represents renewal or rebirth. It makes sense that the Age of Regeneration is the eighth dispensation.
Furthermore, Larkin presents “phases of the Earth” from creation to regeneration. These are:
- The Original Earth – Genesis 1:1
- The Chaotic Earth – The Gap
- The Edenic Earth – Genesis 1:2
- The Antediluvian Earth – After the Fall before the Flood
- The Present Earth – The Flood through the Second Coming
- The Millennial Earth – 1,000 years of peace after the Second Coming
- The New Earth – The regeneration
Notice that there are seven phases when you include the Chaotic Earth from The Gap. Seven, of course, is the number of perfection – the number of completeness.
If we were to remove the Gap, we would have six phases. Six is the number of man or of sin. Worse yet, if we begin with the Edenic Earth, we are left with five – the number of death.
The Gap brings us completeness. Without it, we have sin or death.
I know which one I choose to believe.
**ADDITIONAL ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE GAP
I recently had a conversation with some men at church who looked at me like my face was melting off when I told them that I believed The Gap. They threw some additional questions at me that I did not address here, so I wanted to tackle some of them.
1. Romans 5:12 says, “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:” There was no death before Adam so there could not have been death on the first Earth, therefore, The Gap is not true.
I believe this is a misreading of this passage. This verse is a clear reference to human beings. Death is “passed upon all men” – not animals or other things. Furthermore, “for that all have sinned” cannot possibly apply to animals who cannot sin.
There is a compelling argument that Adam and Eve were vegetarians, and may not have eaten meat. However, we know that Adam at the very least ate fruit (Genesis 1:29; 2:16). Did the fruit not “die” once plucked, consumed, and digested?
John 12:24 says, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
1 Corinthians 15:36-38 expands on this, Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die 37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain 38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body
Plants are given bodies (like people) that die, and reproduce in their death.
Furthermore, there is the problem of the Genesis account itself. Genesis 2:17 says, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Adam did not physically die in the day that he ate. He did, however, spiritually die. It is not a stretch to view “death” in Romans 5 with the same context.
If physical did not exist, then Adam and Eve were immortal. If they were immortal before the fall, then what was the purpose of the “tree of life.”
Its purpose is indicated in Genesis 3:22 and 24.
Verse 22 says, And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
This shows that eating from the tree of life granted life “for ever.”
Verse 24 says, So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
One of the reasons why Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden was because they needed to be removed from the tree of life. It appears that after the fall, immortality was still possible if the fruit was consumed.
Death was in the world prior to the fall of Adam. Romans 5 is not a reference to all death, but man’s death – likely spiritual death. This does not contradict The Gap.
2. Satan walked the garden in his angelic form (Ezekiel 28:13), so he had not fallen before Genesis 1:2.
This is an interesting argument, because it makes the assumption that Satan no longer looks like his cherub form. I see evidence that The Devil can take many forms (a serpent and a dragon), but no evidence that he is no longer capable of his original form.
It is entirely possible that he fell during The Gap, walked around the garden of Eden as a beautiful cherub, and took on his serpent form to tempt Eve.
This does not contradict The Gap.
3. Belief in The Gap is extra-Biblical, so we must throw it out when in doubt.
As a Bible believer, this is one of the arguments that hits home and makes me waver a little. However, I regain my steely resolve when I remember some of my arguments above. Just because the Book does not say, “THERE WAS A GAP BETWEEN TWO CREATIONS OF THE WORLD” does not mean that it is extra-Biblical.
Recall the two floods in II Peter 3. Remember that Adam and Eve were to “RE-plenish.” Do not forget that the Tribulation will once again make the earth “without form, and void” according to Jeremiah 4.
There is evidence in Scripture, though it is not explicit. Those who doubt The Gap apply the same logic to other passages that they will not allow us to use here.
Does the Bible explicitly say animals and plants could not die before the Fall, or is it implied? Are there verses that explicitly say Satan could not look like a cherub after his fall, or is it implied?
Are the “sons of God” explicitly referred to as something other than angels (like sons of Seth) or is it implied? What verses tell us that there were dinosaurs on Earth at any time while Adam was caring for the beasts? Is that explicit, or implied?
This is why we must compare Scripture with Scripture (sola Scriptura), and there is more evidence of Scripture supporting The Gap than refuting it.
I have no doubt, so I will not throw it out.
There you have it. My Biblically based arguments to support The Gap. I am sure that some who read this will absolutely disagree. My goal is not to convert to you a supporter, but to show that belief in The Gap is not entirely without merit and has a Biblical basis. It is not a heresy. It is not a “false doctrine.” It is a reasonable means of answering some of the questions and mysteries presented in the Bible.
I can believe in The Gap. You can believe in a “young Earth” and universe that are only 6,000 years old, where God created “adult” trees and rocks that are able to be dated tens of thousands or millions of years old, but were created that way, rather than aged for that period of time. I do not believe it a heresy to disagree with me. There are some merits to other arguments. I just ask that you understand and respect why we disagree.
If you have more questions, feel free to contact me. You can find me on Facebook, and I thank you for reading (if you’ve made it this far).