What is the Gap Theory?

by Helen Fryman

Question: Please explain the "gap" theory Of Genesis 1:1 and 1:2

Response: The gap theory postulates that between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2 there was an entirely different creation which, some claim, was wiped out by a "Satan's Flood," and after which the earth was re-formed and the six days of Genesis creation commenced. The gap is said to have involved great eons of time. This gap theory was formed in response to the uniformitarian idea of long ages first applied by geologists in the nineteenth century. The gap theory is contradicted by the Bible itself on a number of counts.

  1. Genesis 1:2 gives us a list of three qualities: the earth was formless and empty; darkness covered it; and the Holy Spirit was hovering, or vibrating (same word in the Hebrew) over the waters. No Hebrew historical narrative starts with a list of qualities. The explanation ALWAYS follows the general statement of where the history starts or is headed. Thus, Genesis 1:2 would be rightly seen as an explanation of the earliest moments following the creation of the time/space/mass continuum in Genesis 1:1.
  2. 2 Pet. 3:5 states clearly that the earth was formed out of water and by water. No reference is made to land preceding that, which is what the gap theory proposes.
  3. Ezekiel 28:12-17 is generally considered a "double" passage, containing a parenthetic pertaining to Satan as well as an address to the king of Tyre. In it, the being referred to was in Eden as a blameless guardian cherub. If you cross reference this passage to the passage that is clearly regarding Satan in Isaiah 14:12-15, you will see a parallel structure which really cannot be denied. There are a series of "I will's" in Isaiah, answered by the corresponding actions of the Lord in return in Ezekiel. This being the case, Satan, or Lucifer as he was originally, could not have been in rebellion before Eden was formed and therefore there was no "Satan's Flood' which could have destroyed a world he had corrupted in some sort of gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
  4. In the Fourth Commandment, Exodus 20:11, it is clearly stated that the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that is in them were created in six days.

So the gap theory does not hold where the rest of the Bible is concerned. Geologically and archaeologically this would not be valid, either, for the world destroyed in the "Satan's Flood" would NOT be the fossilized world the gap theorists often postulate. The fossil strata we know would have been utterly destroyed by NOAH's flood had they been from an earlier time.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.