Is there a gap between the first and second verse in the first chapter of Genesis?
Advocates of the Gap Theory claim that the first verse in Genesis is the first statement of God’s creative act of our universe. They claim the first verse refers to God’s initial creation or first creation and what follows in the rest of the chapter is another creation – a second one. Those who claim that there is a gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 do so in order to accommodate the modern theory of evolution and find a place in the Bible for a geological age of millions or billions of years. Consequently, they envision that millions and even billions of years occurred between the two verses. Their view is called the Gap Theory.
Bible Never States That God Created Twice
However, to conclude that there is a gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 assumes things that the Bible does not say. The Bible never tells us that God created twice. The Bible does not tell us that there was a gap of time between the two verses. Therefore, those who dogmatically say that a gap exists make assumptions that the Bible does not state.
The first argument against the Gap Theory of creation is the silence of scripture. The Gap Theory is never mentioned anywhere in the pages of scripture. Those who believe that a gap does exist in the biblical record between verses one and two advocate that either 1) an earlier race or pre-Adamic race existed before Adam and Eve or 2) that Satan and his angels fell from heaven to earth and a cataclysm occurred (Isaiah 14:12-15). The later is the more common theory. But scripture never states that this occurred. The gap theorists are pushing a very weak and flawed theory. There is absolutely no sold biblical support for this view.
Gap Theory Argues The Verse Says, “Became Waste”
The second problem with the Gap Theory is that theorists argue that both Isaiah 45:18 and Genesis 1:2a reveal the first creation was destroyed in the white space between verse 1 and 2, and verse 2 reports the aftermath that the heavens and earth “became formless and void.” They reach this conclusion by claiming that the Hebrew word tohu in Genesis 1:2 should be translated as “waste.”
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (NASB) Genesis 1:2
They reach this conclusion since tohu is translated as “waste” in Isaiah 45:18.
For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the LORD, and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:18 (NASB)
But it is important to note that tohu occurs 20 times in the Old Testament; and in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) it is translated as “waste, chaos and desolation” only 5 times. Otherwise, it is translated as “confusion, emptiness, futile, meaningless and nothing 15 times. This is true of most major Bible translations. The Hebrew word literally means “nothingness and empty space.” Therefore, it is an error to change the translation of Genesis 1:2.
Gap theorists argue that the word “was” in Genesis 1:2 means “became.” But the Hebrew word translated as “was” is hayah. It normally has the sense of “existed.” The Hebrew word occurs 4,900 times in the Old Testament and 98% of the time it is translated as “was.” Therefore, the gap theorists make an error in changing the translations for three reasons: 1) they assume a rare translation of the word hayah, 2) they reason from silence that events occurred in the white spaces between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, and 3) they ignore Romans 5:12, 14.
Gap Theory Requires Sin To Have Occurred Before Adam
One common explanation for the supposed “first creation” being destroyed is that Satan and the angels fell from heaven when Satan sinned (Isaiah 14:12). They landed on the earth which was created in Genesis 1:1 and a great cataclysm occurred. Then according to gap theorists this was the cause of the first creation becoming a waste.
The Gap Theory must be rejected due to the most serious problem with their theory. How did death, decay, disorder and consequently fossilization occur before Genesis 3? Since sin did not enter the universe until Adam sinned, how did death, decay and disorder occur before the fall of man in Genesis 3 (Romans 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 15:22)?
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: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. Romans 5:12, 14 (NASB)
This is a serious blow to the Gap Theory since the theory requires sin to exist in order for fossilization to occur between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. The context for Romans 8:21-22 tells us that the whole creation groans due to bondage of corruption of sin. The theory supposedly explains how the Bible and the theory of evolution fit together but it cannot be supported by scripture. If we believe that the biblical account is true, and we do, then the formation of oil and fossils from dead animals and plants in the evolutionary record could not have occurred before Genesis 3.
If the theorists want to claim that sin did exist in the first creation and Genesis 3 only records when sin occurred in the second creation, where is the proof in scripture? Also, for those who postulate a pre-Adamic race in the first creation, did God provide them with a Savior? Or, did God just send all of them to hell? In short, the theory has serious flaws and lacks biblical evidence.
If there was a gap between the first two verses of Genesis 1, why didn’t God tell us? A plain sense reading of Genesis 1 would not leave anyone with the conclusion proposed by gap theorists. Further, since the Bible does not tell us that there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, we conclude that there is no gap between those two verses.
1. James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
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