Article written March 2004.

The Gap Theory

What is the Gap Theory?

Some Christian scholars theorize that there may be a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

Genesis 1:1 (KJV)In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Genesis 1:2 (KJV)And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

There are a number of Biblical references offered in support of the idea that there is a significant period of time between the two verses, a period that may have been thousands of years. If there was such a gap in time, the theory goes, there may have been another creation on the "earth" of Genesis 1:1, which preceded the present-day creation of Genesis 1:2. Several Bible passages are said to support the idea of a creation prior to Adam and Eve - sometimes referred to as a pre-Adamic creation. Some of them follow; they are not mentioned in any particular order:

(1) Created Not in Vain; Formed to be Inhabited.
Isaiah 45:18 (KJV) (emphasis added)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.

According to the Companion Bible Commentary, the original text translated "in vain" is "tohu." This same word, tohu, is used in Genesis 1:2 and translated "without form." Thus, when the Lord created the earth in Genesis 1:1, it was not created in vain, i.e., it was not without form. Therefore, it became without form as a result of something that happened between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 where the earth is described: "without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep."

The Companion Bible Commentary posits that 2 Peter 3:5-7 supports the likelihood of a gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

2 Peter 3:5-7 (KJV)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 Peter 3:13 (KJV)Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Genesis 1:1 is "the world that then was" of 2 Peter 3:6, and in Genesis 1:2 the ruin of the world that then was is declared. The commentator of the Companion Bible notes that the Bible does not indicate the who, what, when, why, or how long of the world that then was. Thus, once geologists settle how many years passed, they may be placed between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1." The commentary continued that both the gap creation and the Adamic creation are distinct from the coming creation, i.e., the "new heavens and the new earth" foretold in 2 Peter 3:13.

Another commentator suggests that no one of that day and audience would have been "willingly ignorant of" the flood of Noah;s day; it was a well-known and accepted fact in that society. Thus, the phrase may refer to being willingly ignorant of "the world that then was," i.e., one before the present one.

The language in Isaiah 45:18 makes it clear that when God first made the planet, when He formed it, He made it to be inhabited. Thus, if there was a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, it is most likely that the earth was inhabited by some world existing prior to our own.

(2) Directive to Replenish the Earth.
Genesis 1:28 (KJV)And God blessed them [Adam and Eve], and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth ...
Genesis 9:1 (KVJ)And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

The same Hebrew word, male, is used for "replenish" in both instances. Arguably, both commands from God were delivered to these people -- Adam and Eve on the one hand and Noah and his sons on the other -- after a similar cataclysmic event, i.e., the face of the Earth had been covered by water that destroyed all life remaining on its surface at the time of the flood.

Clearly, the command to replenish the Earth made to Noah meant that life should be repopulated upon the surface of a planet upon which it no longer existed. Logically and grammatically, that same word should be interpreted to carry that same meaning in regard to the command to Adam and Eve. The only difference there being that instead of saving a remnant of the prior creation as He did with Noah, God chose to make a new one; thus, He made Adam and Eve, as well as the plants, animals, fish, fowl and insects. These creations, i.e., present-day man, plants, animals, fish, fowl and insects may, or may not, resemble those of the earlier creation.

(3) More than One World.
Hebrews 1:1-2 (KJV)God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds[.]

Most Biblical scholars appear to agree that "worlds" used here refers to ages or the existence of specific conditions upon the face of the Earth over a period of time; "worlds" includes time and space as viewed from the Earth. It is translated from the Greek eon. Arguably, "worlds" here does not refer to other planets, but to ages or specific conditions in time upon this one. If so, Hebrews 1:1-2 indicates that there may well have been worlds or ages before this present one. Certainly, there will be a future one.

Mark 10:30 (KJV)But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time ...; and in the world to come eternal life.

Another example of a differentiation between "world" and "earth" is found in Isaiah:

Isaiah 23:17 (KJV)And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth.

It appears that the "world" is distinct from the "earth." Thus, when the Bible said that Jesus "made the worlds," it seems that could refer to a world-order or creation upon this planet prior to that described in detail beginning with Genesis 1:3 (KJV).

(4) Weakened Nations.
Isaiah 14:12-14 (KJV)How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the most High.
Luke 10:18 (KJV)And he [Jesus] said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
Revelation 12:3-4 (KJV)And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon . . . [a]nd his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth ...

These passages reveal the fall of Satan a/k/a Lucifer and his angels. He led a rebellion into heaven in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow God and usurp His authority. He "which didst weaken the nations" was "cut down to the ground" and "fallen from heaven." What nations didst he weaken? Although some commentators claim this phrase is prophetic and refers to what Satan will do in the end times, it seems illogical to place it in the midst of passages clearly referring to time and actions occurring well before then if that view is accurate. Thus, other commentators posit that there may have been a creation, i.e., "the nations" on the earth prior to the present one. Satan, while still Lucifer -- the anointed cherub of God -- weakened them, likely as a result of and/or as part of his plan to overthrow God.

Clearly, there is much debate between the evolutionists, the Gap-theorists, and the Young Earth Creationists regarding the creation of the planet on which our world exists. Albert Einstein astutely observed: "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." An account of creation that takes the realities of both into consideration in such a manner as to harmonize them seems to make the most sense. After all, God created it all, and therefore, both science and religion do reach a consistent conclusion if applied properly. Applications that result in inconsistency lack credibility.

As previously stated, JM Hawks does not advocate the efficacy of the theology of a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Moreover, although certain commentaries are referenced, their mention is not intended to be an endorsement of the entirety of the commentary or the ideas presented.

The Gap Before Time is an entirely fictional work that presents the possibility of a prior creation by our great God and Lord Jesus Christ, who is "the same yesterday and to day, and for ever." Hebrews 13:8. We know that he has "today" made and placed a creation upon this Earth (us); and that "tomorrow" He will make a new heaven and earth and will place another world upon it to be ruled by His saints. Thus, it is submitted that we cannot be certain that He has not "yesterday" made such a creation and placed it upon this earth.

The Gap Before Time; novels present sound Christian principles and encourage the development of a close, personal relationship with the Creator. They present the essential truth that all, but Satan and the angels who fell with him, may have a personal, eternal relationship with their Creator by their free will choice to accept the gift of unconditional love extended by Him to His creation(s). While those of The Gap Before Time; fictional world did not have the atoning blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross of Calvary to provide their way to salvation, Jesus Christ is the only Way to eternal life with God, and so, should such a creation have existed, or exist in the future, He will be the Way for them as well, though that provision may not include the horrible sacrifice He so lovingly and willingly made for us on the cross.