Sunday, May 28th, 2023
Dr. Constable's Expository Notes Constable's Expository Notes
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Genesis 1". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ dcc/ genesis-1.html. 2012.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Genesis 1". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
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1. An initial statement of creation 1:1
There are three major views concerning the relationship of Genesis 1:1 to the rest of the creation account.
1. Genesis 1:1 describes an original creation of the universe. God began fashioning the earth as we know it in Genesis 1:2 or Genesis 1:3. This view may or may not involve a gap in time between Genesis 1:1-2. [Note: Advocates of this view include Kidner; C. F. Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament: Pentateuch, vol. 1; G. H. Pember, Earth’s Earliest Ages and Their Connection with Modern Spiritualism and Theosophy; Thomas Chalmers, Posthumous Works of the Rev. Thomas Chalmers, vol. 1; Arthur Custance, Without Form and Void; et al.] Some advocates of this view believe that the original creation became chaotic as a result of divine judgment. More information on this theory follows in my comments on Genesis 1:2.
2. Genesis 1:1 describes part of what God did on the first day of creation (Genesis 1:1-5). It is a general statement followed by specific details. [Note: Martin Luther, Commentary on Genesis; Wenham; John Davis, From Paradise to Prison; et al.]
3. Genesis 1:1 describes what God did on all six days of creation (Genesis 1:2-31). It is a topic sentence that introduces the whole creation account that follows. [Note: George Bush, Notes on Genesis; Edward J. Young, Studies in Genesis One; Bruce K. Waltke, Creation and Chaos; idem, Genesis; Ross; Hamilton; et al.] I prefer this view.
The "beginning" is the beginning of the creation of the cosmos, not the beginning of all things (cf. Mark 1:1; John 1:1). This appears to be clear from the context. Genesis has been called "the book of beginnings" because it records the beginning of so many things. Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe it as a book of foundations.
The Hebrew word translated "God" (’elohim) is a plural noun. The plurality simply adds intensification to the name El, as does the personal pronoun "us" in Genesis 1:26. Hebrew is the only ancient Semitic language that intensifies nouns and pronouns by making them plurals. The writers of Scripture used ’elohim as a title of honor. Though it is a plural in form, it is singular in meaning when referring to the true God. This name represents the Creator’s transcendent relationship to His creation.
"The Hebrew word translated ’God’ (’elohim) may be used as a plural noun and be translated ’gods.’ But when this word is used of true God, then it is not a plural but is an intensified noun, exhausting the meaning of the underlying root (’alah) which means ’to be powerful.’ He ’us.’ When used of God, this is not really a plural (despite the common translation); it is a similar intensification of the pronoun which describes God." [Note: E-mail from Ronald B. Allen, August 31, 2006.]
The "heavens and earth" refer to the universe as we know it (i.e., the sky above with all that is in it and the earth below). There is no one word in Hebrew for "universe." This is a figure of speech (merism) for totality; God created everything. The translators often rendered the Hebrew word ’eres (earth) as "land." By translating it this way here we can see that Moses wanted his readers to realize that God created and therefore owned all land (cf. Genesis 12:7 and all subsequent references to the Promised Land; Psalms 24:1). [Note: Sailhamer, "Genesis," p. 19.]
This verse is important because it contradicts six popular philosophies:
1. Atheism-God does exist.
2. Pantheism-God is distinct from His creation.
3. Polytheism-"Created" is singular in the text. An obvious difference between the biblical account of creation and those of other ancient Near Eastern cultures is that the biblical account is monotheistic.
4. Radical materialism (matter is eternal)-Matter had a supernatural origin (emphasis on origin).
5. Naturalism (evolutionism)-Creation took place when someone outside nature intervened (emphasis on process).
6. Fatalism-A personal God freely chose to create.
God created the universe from nothing (Latin ex nihilo). While the text does not state this fact per se, the reader can deduce it from the following evidence. The phrase "in the beginning" implies it, as do the Hebrew word for "create" (bara) and the expression "formless and void." New Testament passages also support this conclusion (e.g., John 1:3; Romans 4:17; and Hebrews 11:3). [Note: See Jack Cottrell, "The Doctrine of Creation from Nothing," The Seminary Review 29:4 (December 1983):157-75.]
The emphasis in this verse is on the origin of the universe. God created it. [Note: Walter C. Kaiser Jr.’s article, "The Literary Form of Genesis 1-11," in New Perspectives on the Old Testament, pp. 48-65, is of great value in understanding and responding to the major critical attacks on Genesis 1-11.] He alone is eternal, and everything else owes its origin and existence to Him. [Note: Sailhamer, "Genesis," p. 20.]
A. The story of creation 1:1-2:3
God created the entire universe and then formed and filled it in six days. He brought order and fullness for humankind to enjoy and to rule over. He then blessed and set apart the seventh day as a memorial of His creative work. [Note: Ross, Creation and Blessing, has influenced this and subsequent introductory and concluding summaries of the major sections of the text, though I have not always footnoted his views, as I have done here.] The God of Israel, the deliverer of His people, is the creator of all that exists.
". . . Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4 a is clearly recognizable as a unit of historical narrative. It has an introduction (Genesis 1:1), a body (Genesis 1:2 to Genesis 2:3) and a conclusion (Genesis 2:4 a)." [Note: John H. Sailhamer, "Exegetical Notes: Genesis 1:1-2:4a," Trinity Journal 5 NS (Spring 1984):74. This article outlines some principles to use in finding the writer’s intent and purpose in selecting the events he chose to record in historical narratives. It provides an excellent introduction to the interpretation of historical narrative. ]
Historical narrative is one of several biblical types of literature (French genre). Other genre include genealogy, poetry, epistolary, and apocalyptic. [Note: See Steven D. Mathewson, "Guidelines for Understanding and Proclaiming Old Testament Narratives," Bibliotheca Sacra 154:616 (October-December 1997):410-35, for help in preaching narrative portions of the Old Testament.]
"Genre is of crucial importance, since the reader’s identification of a text’s genre directs his or her reading strategy . . ." [Note: Longman and Dillard, p. 29. See ibid., pp. 29-31, for clarification of genre.]
"For the most part, its [the Old Testament’s] contents may be described under two rubrics: stories and poems." [Note: Ibid., p. 25.]
"The creation account is theocentric, not creature centered. Its purpose is to glorify the Creator by magnifying him through the majesty of the created order. The passage is doxological as well as didactic, hymnic as well as history. ’God’ is the grammatical subject of the first sentence (Genesis 1:1) and continues as the thematic subject throughout the account." [Note: Mathews, p. 113.]
"The prose narratives of the Old Testament are multifunctional. Most intend to impart historically accurate information while leading the reader to a deeper theological understanding of the nature of God and his relationship with his people." [Note: Longman and Dillard, p. 34.]
I. PRIMEVAL EVENTS 1:1-11:26
Chapters 1-11 provide an introduction to the Book of Genesis, the Pentateuch, and the whole Bible.
"What we find in chaps. 1-11 is the divine initiation of blessing, which is compromised by human sin followed by gracious preservation of the promise: blessing-sin-grace." [Note: Mathews, p. 60.]
"His [Moses’] theological perspective can be summarized in two points. First, the author intends to draw a line connecting the God of the Fathers and the God of the Sinai covenant with the God who created the world. Second, the author intends to show that the call of the patriarchs and the Sinai covenant have as their ultimate goal the reestablishment of God’s original purpose in Creation." [Note: Sailhamer, p. 19. Cf. Mathews, p. 77.]
"Evidently an interest in the way in which the world and humankind came into existence and in the history of the earliest times was characteristic of the ancient civilized world. At any rate, various ’origin stories’ or ’creation myths’ about the activities of a variety of creator-gods are still extant in what remains of the literatures of ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia. But the combination of such accounts with narratives about more recent times testifies to an additional motivation. The aim of such works was to give their readers-or to strengthen-a sense of national or ethnic identity, particularly at a time when there was for some reason a degree of uncertainty or hesitation about this. . . .
"The placing of Genesis 1-11 as a prologue to the main body of the work also afforded the opportunity to express certain distinctively Israelite articles of faith which it would have been more difficult to introduce into the later narratives, particularly with regard to the doctrine of God." [Note: Whybray, pp. 36-37. See Gordon H. Johnston, "Genesis 1 and Ancient Egyptian Creation Myths," Bibliotheca Sacra 165:658 (April-June 2008):178-94.]
"Genesis 1-11 as we read it is a commentary, often highly critical, on ideas current in the ancient world about the natural and supernatural world. Both individual stories as well as the final completed work seem to be a polemic against many of the commonly received notions about the gods and man. But the clear polemical thrust of Genesis 1-11 must not obscure the fact that at certain points biblical and extrabiblical thought are in clear agreement. Indeed Genesis and the ancient Near East probably have more in common with each other than either has with modern secular thought." [Note: Wenham, p. xlvii.]
2. Conditions at the time of creation 1:2
Genesis 1:2 probably describes what we now call the earth before God created it. Here "earth" refers to the whole planet, though the same English word also refers to the earth and the heavens (when combined with "heaven," Genesis 1:1), and to dry land (Genesis 1:10).
". . . no clear biblical text testifies to the origins of chaos or of the Serpent, nor to the reason for their existence." [Note: Bruce K. Waltke, An Old Testament Theology, p. 181.]
"Deep" (tahom) describes the world. In the Old Testament tahom refers to the ocean, which the ancient world regarded as symbolic of chaos and evil that needed overcoming and which Yahweh overcame. However its use in the Pentateuch helps us understand the writer’s intent in using this term here.
". . . he calls the global ocean (the ’deep’) in Genesis 1:2 a ’desert.’ This is not apparent in the English translation ’formless,’ but the NASB notes it in the margin as a ’wasteland.’ . . . Moses uses this term (Deuteronomy 32:10) to describe the desert wasteland where Israel wandered for forty years. Why call an ocean a desert? What better way to teach the people that the God who will lead them out of the wilderness and give them the promised land is the same God who once prepared the land for them by dividing the waters and producing the ’dry land’? The God of the Pentateuch is One who leads his people from the wasteland to the promised land." [Note: Sailhamer, "Exegetical Notes . . .," pp. 80-81.]
Some scholars believe that references to the Spirit of God in the Old Testament indicate the power or influence of God, not the third person of the Trinity. Some conservative scholars believe that, though the Spirit was really the third person of the Trinity, people living during the Old Testament period did not associate the Spirit with God Himself. They thought of the Spirit as a power or influence of God. However there are several indications in the Old Testament that informed Israelites identified the Spirit as God (cf. Genesis 1:2; 2 Kings 2:9; Psalms 104:30; Ezekiel 3:12-14; Ezekiel 11:1; Zechariah 4:6). [Note: See Leon J. Wood, The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, and idem, The Prophets of Israel, pp. 85-87.]
"Waters" is also capable of being interpreted the same way as "deep." It probably refers to what covered the earth, but it also suggests chaos.
Here we learn that the earth was "formless and empty" (a hendiadys meaning unorganized, unproductive, and uninhabited) before God graciously prepared it for human habitation (cf. Jeremiah 4:23-27). A hendiadys is a figure of speech in which the writer expresses a single complex idea by joining two substantives with "and" rather than by using an adjective and a substantive.
Moses pictured the Spirit as a wind-the words are identical in Hebrew-moving over the unorganized creation. As God did His work of creating by means of His Spirit, so believers are to do our work by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6; Romans 8; Ephesians 5:18).
"Hitherto all is static, lifeless, immobile. Motion, which is the essential element in change, originates with God’s dynamic presence." [Note: Nahum Sarna, Understanding Genesis, p. 7.]
Genesis 1:2 seems to me to describe conditions that existed before God created the earth. Whereas Genesis 1:1 explains the creation of the universe, Genesis 1:2 pictures its pre-creation condition. Genesis 1:3-31 explain the process of creation by which God formed what was formless and filled what was void.
There are two basic theories of the creation process that have grown out of interpretations of Genesis 1:2.
Statement: The classic statement of this theory contains the following ideas, though there have been many variations on this theory.
1. There is an indefinite time gap (hence the name of the theory) between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
2. Genesis 1:1 reveals the creation of a perfect heaven and earth very different from what we see around us now.
3. A preadamic race of humans inhabited this original creation.
4. Lucifer (unfallen Satan), whose "headquarters" was in the Garden of Eden, ruled over this race of people.
5. When Lucifer rebelled-many advocates see this in Isaiah 14 and or Ezekiel 28 -sin entered the world.
6. Part of God’s judgment of this rebellion was the destruction of the earth with a flood (in Noah’s day) followed by a global ice age, which accounts for the fossils. [Note: For a creationist explanation of the ice ages, see Ken Ham, Andrew Snelling, and Carl Wieland, The Answers Book, pp. 12-13, 77-87.]
History: This is a very old theory that certain early Jewish writers and some church fathers held. Thomas Chalmers promoted it in 1814. [Note: See his Daily Scripture Readings, 1:1.] Chalmers’ purpose was to harmonize Scripture with Scripture, not Scripture with science. [Note: Waltke, Creation and . . ., p. 20.] Darwin’s Origin of Species first appeared in 1859, but Chalmers published his theory in 1814. Franz Delitzsch supported it in 1899. [Note: Franz Delitzsch, A System of Biblical Psychology, p. 74-76.] G. H. Pember’s book Earth’s Ancient Ages (1907) gave further impetus to this view. Many Christian geologists favored the view because they saw in it "an easy explanation for the fossil strata." [Note: John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, The Genesis Flood, p. 92.] Harry Rimmer supported it [Note: Modern Science and the Genesis Record, 1941.] as did Arthur W. Pink. [Note: Gleanings in Genesis, 1922 ] L. S. Chafer held it [Note: Systematic Theology, 1947-48, 6:67.] but did not emphasize it. Arthur Custance is one writer who has defended it fairly recently. [Note: Without Form and Void, 1970.]
Arguments and Responses:
1. The first word in Genesis 1:2 (Heb. waw, "and") is a conjunction that indicates consecutive occurrences. (This verbal form, by the way, is the basic characteristic of narrative in the Hebrew Bible. [Note: Longman and Dillard, p. 54.] ) It introduces something that happened after what precedes. Response. The verb tense and word order in this sentence do not permit this use of this conjunction (Genesis 1:1-2). Rather here, as is normal, the conjunction indicates a break in the consecutive order of events and introduces a circumstantial (independent) clause (Genesis 1:2) that describes something in a preceding clause (Genesis 1:1). This is a waw disjunctive, not a waw consecutive. A better translation of the waw would be "now." In short, the Hebrew grammar does not support a chronological gap between Genesis 1:1-2.
2. The verb (hayata, "was") can and should read "became." The translators have rendered it this way in many other places in the Old Testament. Response. This is a legitimate translation, but "became" is not always the best translation (cf. Jonah 3:3; Zechariah 3:3). Here the translation should be "was."
3. The chaos (tohu wa bohu, "waste and void," perhaps another hendiadys) describes an evil condition (cf. Isaiah 24:1; Isaiah 45:18; Jeremiah 4:23). Response. This is usually the case, but not always (cf. Deuteronomy 32:10; Job 6:18; Job 12:24; Job 26:7; Psalms 107:40). It is not so here.
4. "Darkness" is a symbol of evil in Scripture (cf. 1 John 1:5). This supports the badness of the condition that resulted from Satan’s rebellion. Response. This is true in some cases, but not always (cf. Psalms 104:19-24). Furthermore evening was part of the days God declared good.
5. The two primary words for "create" (bara and asah used respectively in Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:25) refer to two different kinds of creativity. Bara usually refers to primary creative activity. Since Moses used bara in Genesis 1:1 this was the original creation and not just a general description of the process that follows (in Genesis 1:3-5 or Genesis 1:3-31). If Genesis 1:1 was a general description he would have used asah since some of what God created in the six days He formed out of previously existing material (e.g., man and woman). Response. These two words are not so distinct. For example, Moses used bara of the creation of man out of previously existing material (Genesis 1:27), and he used asah of the whole creation as the primary creative activity of God (Exodus 20:11). Furthermore, he used bara of the creation of some animals (Genesis 1:21) and asah of the creation of other animals (Genesis 1:25). The real difference between these two words is that Moses used bara only of divine activity, and he used asah of both divine and human activities. [Note: See Thomas J. Finley, "Dimensions of the Hebrew Word for ’Create’ (bara)," Bibliotheca Sacra 148:592 (October-December 1991):409-23.] Thus, bara and asah are very close together in meaning. We should not distinguish them on the basis of bara describing primary creative activity and asah referring to the reforming of previously existing material.
6. Adam was to "replenish" the earth (Genesis 1:28, AV) implying a previous race. Response. The Hebrew word used means "fill," not "refill." Many modern English translations so render it.
Summary: Though many evangelicals still hold the gap theory, few Hebrew scholars do because the Hebrew grammar does not favor a chronologically sequential reading of Genesis 1:1-2. Rather, Genesis 1:2 in some way clarifies Genesis 1:1. [Note: For a good explanation of the gap theory, as well as the atheistic evolution, theistic evolution, progressive creation, and fiat creation views, see James M. Boice, Genesis , 1:37-68. See also Henry M. Morris, "The Gap Theory," Creation Ex Nihilo 10:1 (December 1987-February 1988):35-37; and Ham, et al., pp. 16, 157-75.]
The crux of the Genesis 1:2 interpretive problem lies in the identification of the chaos (tohu wa bohu, "formless and void") mentioned. There have been three primary views concerning the chaos referred to in this verse.
1. The chaos was a condition that resulted after God judged the earth that He had originally created good. [Note: Chalmers, Keil and Delitzsch, Pember, Scofield, Custance, et al., favored this interpretation.]
Explanation: Genesis 1:1 refers to God’s original creation of the universe. Genesis 1:2 is a reference to the form He gave it thereafter. Genesis 1:3 refers to the beginning of the process of reforming the judged earth into the form in which we know it.
Vocabulary: We should translate the first word in the verse (waw) "and" or "then" (not preferable grammatically) and the verb (hayeta) "became" (possible but not preferable). We should interpret the chaos (tohu wa bohu) as an evil condition (not necessarily so).
Sequence: This interpretation permits, but does not require, a gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
2. The chaos was the condition that characterized the earth when God created it good. [Note: Luther; Young; Davis; Ross; J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come, p. 29; Mark F. Rooker, "Genesis 1:1-3: Creation or Re-Creation?" Bibliotheca Sacra 149:595 (July-September 1992):316-23; and 596 (October-December 1992):411-27; Targum Neofiti; et al.; favored this view. See Gary Anderson, "The Interpretation of Genesis l:1 in the Targums," Catholic Biblical Quarterly 52:1 (January 1990):23. The Targums are expanded translations of the Old Testament made during the Babylonian captivity in the Aramaic language.]
Explanation: Genesis 1:1 states the creation of the universe as we know it, and it is a general statement of some kind. Genesis 1:2 describes the earth at the time of its creation. Genesis 1:3 describes God bringing order out of chaos, which continued through the six creative days.
Vocabulary: We should translate waw "now" (better) and hayeta "was" (also better). We should also take tohu wa bohu to mean either unformed or evil.
Sequence: This interpretation involves no gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
3. The chaos existed before God began creating the earth good. [Note: Bush; Waltke, Creation and . . .; idem, Genesis; Ross; Sailhamer, "Genesis;" et al.; advocated this view.]
Explanation: We should take Genesis 1:1 the same as in view 2. Genesis 1:2 describes conditions as they existed before creation. We should also take Genesis 1:3 the same as in view 2.
Vocabulary: Advocates translate and interpret the key Hebrew words the same as in view 2.
Sequence: This interpretation involves no gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
". . . the disjuncture at Genesis 1:2 is employed by the author to focus his creation account upon the land." [Note: Sailhamer, "Exegetical Notes . . .," p. 77.]
The more popular theory among evangelicals now is the no-gap theory in either one of the last two forms described above. Let me restate these last two views.
1. View 2 above: God created the earth in a formless and void state. He then proceeded to give it form and to fill it. [Note: Young, et al.]
"We would affirm that the first verse serves as a broad comprehensive statement of the fact of creation. Verse two describes the earth as it came from the hands of the Creator and as it existed at the time when God commanded the light to shine forth. The first recorded step in the process of fashioning the earth into the form in which it now appears was God’s remarkable utterance, ’Let there be light’ [Genesis 1:3]." [Note: Ibid., p. 14.]
Problem: It seems unusual that God would create the earth formless and then form it. It seems more likely and consistent with His activity in Genesis 1:3-31 that He would create it fully formed. [Note: Brevard S. Childs, Myth and Reality in the Old Testament, p. 30.]
Answer: The whole process of creation in Genesis 1:3-31 is a movement from a more primitive to a more advanced stage of existence. I prefer this view.
2. View 3 above: Before God created the earth there was nothing where it now exists, and Genesis 1:2 describes that nothingness. [Note: Waltke, et al.]
Problem: Some terms in Genesis 1:2 (darkness, surface, deep, waters) imply that something existed at this time, suggesting some creative activity before Genesis 1:3.
Answers: Genesis 1:1 may be part of the first day of creation. Moses may have used these terms to describe, in terms that we can begin to understand (i.e., figurative terms), a condition that is entirely foreign and incomprehensible to us.
The world came into being by God’s word (cf. Psalms 33:9; Hebrews 11:3). Each of the six creative days began with God speaking. God’s ten pronouncements in this chapter anticipate His ten commandments at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20:2-17). All but one of Jesus Christ’s miracles occurred immediately after He spoke. The exception occurs in Luke 8:25 when He laid His hands on a blind man. Jesus Christ, the Word of God, was the Creator (John 1:3). The theme of God’s word (spoken, written, or incarnate) continues through the Bible. His word is consistently powerful, as here. Fiat (the Latin word for "Let there be") creation means creation that came into being by God’s word.
"The idea of creation by the word preserves first of all the most radical essential distinction between Creator and creature. Creation cannot be even remotely considered an emanation from God . . . but is rather a product of his personal will." [Note: Gerhard von Rad, Genesis, pp. 51-52.]
The "light" might not have been sunlight (cf. Genesis 1:14). Perhaps it came from a source fixed at a distance from the earth such as the shekinah, the light that manifests God’s glory (cf. Revelation 22:5). [Note: Hamilton, p. 121.] Perhaps God created the sun on the first day, but it became visible on the fourth day. [Note: Sailhamer, "Genesis," p. 26.] A third view is that God created the sun, moon, and stars on the first day and assigned them their specific functions on the fourth day (cf. Genesis 1:14-18). [Note: Ibid., pp. 33-34.]
The first day 1:3-5
3. The six days of creation 1:3-31
Cosmic order consists of clearly demarcating the various elements of the universe. God divided light and darkness, waters and dry land, the world above from the world below. Likewise people should maintain the other divisions in the universe. [Note: See Mathews, p. 124.] In three "days" God made the uninhabitable earth productive, and in three more "days" He filled the uninhabited earth with life. The process of creation, as Moses described it, typically follows this pattern for each day of creation: announcement, commandment, separation, report, naming, evaluation, and chronological framework. [Note: Waltke, Genesis, p. 56.]
One writer sought to retain six literal days of creation and to harmonize them with an old age earth model, allowing a long period of time (possibly billions of years) between Genesis 1:2-3. [Note: Gorman Gray, The Age of the Universe: What Are the Biblical Limits?] However, this explanation does violence to the Hebrew text. [Note: For a critique of this book, see Douglas C. Bozzung, "An Evaluation of the Biosphere Model of Genesis 1," Bibliotheca Sacra 162:648 (October-December 2005):406-23.]
Darkness was not a creation like light but the absence of light (cf. Genesis 1:2). Darkness (Heb. hosek) in Scripture often connotes evil (cf. Exodus 10:21-23; 1 Samuel 2:9; Job 3:4-5; Psalms 35:6; Joel 2:2).
Moses presented God as knowing what was good for man (wise) and as providing that for him (loving). This not only reveals aspects of the Creator’s character, but it also prepares the reader for the tragedy of the Fall (ch. 3).
God named things as well as creating them. Having a name equals having existence, in biblical thought, and the act of giving a name meant the exercise of a sovereign right (cf. Genesis 41:45; 2 Kings 24:17; Daniel 1:7). In this chapter naming or blessing follows some act of creation seven times. The Hebrews regarded the number seven as connoting a complete, divine act, as will become clear later.
The terms day, night, evening, and morning imply the beginning of the earth’s rotation on the first day. [Note: See my further comments on 2:3.] The use of the Hebrew word ’ehad ("one" day, cf. "second day," "third day," etc.) as an ordinal number also supports this view. [Note: See Andrew E. Steinmann, "’ehad as an Ordinal Number and the Meaning of Genesis 1:5," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45:4 (December 2002):577-84. Ordinal numbers express order (e.g., first, second, third, etc.) whereas cardinal numbers are used in counting (e.g., one, two, three, etc.).] The Jews reckoned the beginning of a day with the evening rather than the morning.
"A few years ago in England some Christians became excited about the Big Bang theory, thinking that it favored Christianity. But they really missed the point-either the point of Scripture or the Big Bang theory or both. The simple fact is that what is given in Genesis 1:1 has no relationship to the Big Bang theory-because from the scriptural viewpoint, the primal creation goes back beyond the basic material or energy. We have a new thing created by God out of nothing [Lat. ex nihilo] by fiat, and this is the distinction." [Note: Frances Schaeffer, Genesis in Time and Space, pp. 28-29.]
Nevertheless, though it is not the same, "The Big Bang theory sounds very much like the story that the Old Testament has been telling a long time." [Note: Lance Morrow, Time (Feb. 5, 1979), p. 149.]
From the beginning God made divisions. He later divided the clean from the unclean, the holy from the profane, the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, and Israel from the nations. This shows His sovereignty (i.e., ultimate authority).
The "expanse" refers to the heavenly vault above the earth. Moses called it the "firmament" (AV) or "sky" (NIV). God placed the sun, moon, and stars in it (Genesis 1:16-17). The ancients grouped the stars and planets together referring to the former as fixed stars and the latter as wandering stars (cf. Judges 1:13).
The second day 1:6-8
God separated the waters so some of them remained on the earth and some were above the earth in the atmosphere. Before He made this division there may have been a dense fog over the whole surface of the earth. [Note: See my comments on the "canopy theory" at 2:4-6.]
"Heaven" is the same as the "expanse." Moses used it here as a general term to describe everything above the earth from man’s viewpoint (Genesis 1:8).
"Seas" (Heb. yammim) probably refers broadly to all bodies of water, not just oceans.
The third day 1:9-13
"Good" indicates beauty as well as purpose and order. [Note: See von Rad, p. 50.] It was only when the land was ready for man that God called it good. This shows God’s loving concern for human beings. It was good for people. A good God provided a good land for good people.
The separation of water from the land so that man could enjoy the land prepares us for the stories of the Flood (chs. 6-9) and the Red Sea crossing (Exodus 14-15). God later used the waters as His instrument to judge those who opposed His will. The waters were an obstacle to man’s enjoying the land, so God removed them from the land.
Since God created plants with seeds in them, the original creation evidently had the appearance of age. He created trees with rings and Adam an adult. [Note: See Whitcomb and Morris, pp. 232-39.] Why did Moses mention only shrubs and trees that bear seeds and fruits? Perhaps he did so because these are the ones that provide food for man. He created others, of course, but Moses was stressing God’s care for humans.
Some feminists have restricted the use of "man" to males, but this is not the primary meaning of the English word. Its primary meaning is "human being" or "human race," according to the standard Oxford dictionaries. Likewise "mankind" normally means "the human race" or "humanity" unless it is in contrast to "womankind." The Hebrew word adam also has a broad range of meaning, from "the human race" to "Adam." Consequently I have used these English words trusting that the reader will interpret them in harmony with their customary meanings.
"Kind" (Heb. min) is not a biologically exact term. It indicates that God created several different families of plants as separate acts of creation (cf. Genesis 1:21; Genesis 1:24-25; Genesis 6:20; Genesis 7:14; Leviticus 11:14-29; Deuteronomy 14:13-18). All plants, therefore, did not evolve from one. Creationists generally affirm microevolution (the development of different varieties of plants and animals through crossbreeding) but deny macroevolution (the development of all plants from one plant, animals from plants, and humans from animals).
"With the conclusion of the third day yet another color is added to God’s cosmos. To the basic white and black of day and night has been added the blue of sky and sea. Now the canvas is adorned with green. The golden-yellow sun and the reddish human being will complete this rainbow of colors." [Note: Hamilton, p. 126.]
Note that on the first and second days God did one work each day. He created light and the firmament. On the third day He did two works. He created the land and vegetation. Similarly, on the fourth and fifth days God did one work. He created the lights’ functions on the fourth day and the birds and fish on the fifth day. Then on the sixth day He again did two works. He created the land animals and man. [Note: Ibid., p. 125.] On the first three days He gave form to what was formless, and on the last three days He filled what was void.
"Both vegetation and humanity, symbolizing the fertility of life, were considered pinnacles of creation in the ancient Near East. The first triad [of days] ends climactically with the creation of vegetation; the second, the creation of humanity." [Note: Waltke, Genesis, p. 36.]
The fourth day 1:14-19
The luminaries served four purposes.
1. They distinguished day from night.
2. They provided signs.
3. They distinguished the seasons.
4. They illuminated the earth.
"The narrative stresses their function as servants, subordinate to the interests of the earth. . . . This differs significantly from the superstitious belief within pagan religion that the earth’s destiny is dictated by the course of the stars." [Note: Mathews, p. 154.]
"Here is a stern warning for our times for any who would seek the stars in charting their lives." [Note: Ibid., p. 155.]
"The term ’signs’ has been given special attention by the author elsewhere in the Pentateuch. For example, the so-called ’plagues’ of Egypt are, in fact, called ’signs’ by the author of the Pentateuch (e.g., Deuteronomy 29:2-3). The meaning given this term in the Exod account . . . is that the acts of God in the bringing of disorder upon the Egyptians were ’signs’ that God was more powerful and majestic than the Egyptians’ gods. This sense of the term ’signs’ fits well in Genesis 1:14. The author says that not only are the sun and moon to give light upon the land but they are to be visual reminders of the power and majesty of God. They are ’signs’ of who the God of the covenant is. The [sic] are ’telling of the glory of God,’ as the psalmist puts it (Psalms 19:1). Not only does the term ’signs’ serve as a reminder of the greatness and glory of God for the author of the Pentateuch, ’signs’ are also a frequent reminder in the Pentateuch of his grace and mercy (Genesis 4, 9, 17)." [Note: Sailhamer, "Exegetical Notes . . .," p. 79.]
Moses did not mean that they were the signs of the zodiac or astrological signs. Why did Moses use the terms greater and lesser lights to describe the sun and moon (Genesis 1:16)? He probably did so because these Hebrew words, which are very similar in other Semitic languages, are also the names of pagan gods. [Note: Hamilton, p.127. See G. Hasel, "The Polemical Nature of the Genesis Cosmology," Evangelical Quarterly 46 (1974):81-102.] He wanted the Israelites to appreciate the fact that their God had created the entities their pagan neighbors worshipped as gods.
"This, the fourth day, is the only day on which no divine word subsequent to the fulfillment is added. On days 1-3 this divine word names the created objects (Genesis 1:5; Genesis 1:8; Genesis 1:10); on days 5-6 the creatures are blessed (Genesis 1:22; Genesis 1:28). The omission may be just elegant stylistic variation, or it may be a deliberate attempt to avoid naming ’sun’ and ’moon’ with their connotations of deity." [Note: Wenham, p. 23.]
The Hebrew word translated "seasons" appears elsewhere in the Pentateuch. It means "appointments," but the translators have also rendered it "feasts" in Leviticus.
"They [the sun and moon] were not mere lights or reminders of God’s glory, they were, as well, calendars for the celebration of the covenant. The world is made for the [Mosaic] covenant. Already at creation, the land was being prepared for the covenant." [Note: Sailhamer, "Exegetical Notes . . .," p. 80.]
The writer’s perspective throughout is geocentric rather than heliocentric. He used phenomenological language (of appearance) that is very common in the Old Testament. Even modern scientific textbooks use such language without fear of being criticized as unscientific when they refer to sunrise, sunset, etc. Perhaps God created light on the first day (Genesis 1:3), but then on the fourth day the sun, moon, and stars appeared distinctly for the first time. [Note: Idem, The Pentateuch as Narrative, p. 93.]
Creationists have proposed several solutions to the problem of how light from stars that are millions of light years away could get to Adam if the universe was only days old. These explanations are too involved to discuss here, but I have included some sources for further study in the following footnote. [Note: D. Russell Humphreys, Starlight and Time, discussed five creationist models. See also Ham, et al., pp. 18, 187-95; "’Distant Starlight’ Not a Problem for a Young Universe" DVD featuring Dr. Jason Lisle.] I think the best explanation is the appearance of age. As God created humans, plants, and animals fully formed, so He created the light from distant stars already visible on the earth.
The fifth day 1:20-23
"Great sea monsters" (Heb. tauninim, Genesis 1:21) were large fish, whales, squid, and all large creatures living in the water. The pagans worshipped these, but they are under God’s authority. The Old Testament writers adopted pagan imagery, but not pagan theology.
Note that Moses wrote that God created both marine animals and birds on the same "day". Evolution claims that birds evolved from reptiles and that this process took millions of years.
"The blessing of God is one of the great unifying themes of Genesis. God blesses animals (Genesis 1:22), mankind (Genesis 1:28), the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3), Adam (Genesis 5:2), Noah (Genesis 9:1), and frequently the patriarchs (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 17:16; Genesis 17:20, etc.). God’s blessing is most obviously visible in the gift of children, as this is often coupled with ’being fruitful and multiplying.’ But all aspects of life can express this blessing: crops, family, and nation (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). Where modern man talks of success, OT man talked of blessing." [Note: Wenham, p. 24.]
Birds and fish rule their respective realms by multiplying. [Note: Waltke, Genesis, p. 63.]
"Creature" translates the Hebrew word nephesh, which is usually translated "soul" (e.g., Genesis 2:7). This Hebrew word and the English "soul" imply conscious life, in contrast to plants that have unconscious life. So in the sense of having conscious life, animals as well as people have souls.
"Cattle" refers to domesticated animals (that man could tame) and "beasts" to wild animals.
What happened to the dinosaurs? Conservative Bible interpreters generally believe they existed but became extinct before the Flood or after it.
"Before the Flood, dinosaurs and man lived together on our planet. Extinction of the great marine reptiles, along with the majority of all other types of sea creature, would have been caused by the violent upheavals of the Flood, many being buried and preserved as fossils." [Note: Ham, et al., p. 10. See also pp. 21-39.]
The sixth day 1:24-31
"Us" is probably a plural of intensification (see my comment on Genesis 1:1 above), though some regard it as a plural of self-deliberation (cf. Genesis 11:7; Psalms 2:3). [Note: E.g., Claus Westermann, Genesis 1-11 : A Commentary, p. 145.] Others believe that God was addressing His heavenly court (cf. Isaiah 6:8). [Note: The NET Bible note on 1:26.] This word involves "in germ" the doctrine of the Trinity. However, we should not use it as a formal proof of the Trinity since this reference by itself does not prove that one God exists in three persons. [Note: See Ross, Creation and . . ., p. 112; Wenham, pp. 27-27; Oswald Allis, God Spake by Moses, p. 13.]
"Although the Christian Trinity cannot be derived solely from the use of the plural, a plurality within the unity of the Godhead may be derived from the passage." [Note: Mathews, p. 163.]
The theological controversy in Moses’ day was not between trinitarianism and unitarianism but between one self-existent, sovereign, good God and many limited, capricious, often wicked gods. [Note: Hamilton, p. 133.]
"First, God’s deliberation shows that he has decided to create man differently from any of the other creatures-in his image and likeness. God and man share a likeness that is not shared by other creatures. This apparently means that a relationship of close fellowship can exist between God and man that is unlike the relationship of God with the rest of his creation. What more important fact about God and man would be necessary if the covenant at Sinai were, in fact, to be a real relationship? Remove this and the covenant is unthinkable.
"Secondly, in Genesis 1, man, the image bearer, is the object of God’s blessing. According to the account of creation in Genesis 1, the chief purpose of God in creating man is to bless him. The impact of this point on the remainder of the Pentateuch and the author’s view of Sinai is clear: through Abraham, Israel and the covenant this blessing is to be restored to all mankind." [Note: Sailhamer, "Exegetical Notes . . .," p. 80.]
"Man" refers to mankind, not Adam individually (Genesis 1:27). "Them" indicates this generic significance. God created (cf. Genesis 1:1-2) mankind male and female; they did not evolve from a lower form of life (cf. Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6). Adam was not androgynous (i.e., two individuals joined physically like Siamese twins) or bisexual (i.e., one individual possessing both male and female sexual organs). There is no basis for these bizarre ideas in the text. God formed Eve from Adam’s rib, not from half of his body or from his genitals.
"The image is found in the type of relationship that was designed to exist between male and female human beings, a relationship where the characteristics of each sex are valued and used to form a oneness in their identity and purpose. When God created human beings as male and female he formed them to exhibit a oneness in their relationship that would resemble the relationship of God and his heavenly court.
"By ruling as one, male and female fulfill the purpose of God for which they were created. United as one humanity, male and female are one with God and his heavenly court. And it is this unity between male and female, and between humanity and God, that is destroyed in the Fall described in Genesis 3." [Note: Henry F. Lazenby, "The Image of God: Masculine, Feminine, or Neuter?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 30:1 (March 1987):67, 66.]
As a husband and wife demonstrate oneness in their marriage they reflect the unity of the Godhead. Oneness involves being in agreement with God’s will and purposes. Oneness is essential for an orchestra, an athletic team, and a construction crew, as well as a family, to achieve a common purpose. Oneness in marriage is essential if husband and wife are to fulfill God’s purposes for humankind. (Generally speaking, women feel a marriage is working if they talk about it, but men feel it is working if they do not talk about it.)
God created man male and female as an expression of His own plurality: "Let us make man . . ." God’s plurality anticipated man’s plurality. The human relationship between man and woman thus reflects God’s own relationship with Himself. [Note: Sailhamer, "Genesis," p. 38.]
"Image" and "likeness" are essentially synonymous terms. Both indicate personality, moral, and spiritual qualities that God and man share (i.e., self-consciousness, God-consciousness, freedom, responsibility, speech, moral discernment, etc.) These distinguish humans from the animals, which have no God-consciousness even though they have conscious life (cf. Genesis 1:24). Some writers have called the image of God man’s "spiritual personality." [Note: E.g., Keil and Delitzsch, 1:63. See Wenham, pp. 27-28; Charles Feinberg, "The Image of God," Bibliotheca Sacra 129:515 (July-September 1972):235-246, esp. p. 237; Boice, 1:77-79; Mathews, pp. 164-72.] In another sense man is the image of God (e.g., he rules and creates [procreates] as God does, thus reflecting God). [Note: See James Jordan, "Rebellion, Tyranny, and Dominion in the Book of Genesis," Christianity and Civilization 3 (Summer 1983):38-80. See also Merrill, pp. 14-16.] The Fall obscured but did not obliterate the image of God in man. [Note: See John F. Kilner, "Humanity in God’s Image: Is the Image Really Damaged?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 53:3 (September 2010):601-17.]
Does the image of God in man include his body?
"Most theologians have recognized that that [sic] we cannot interpret it [i.e., the phrase ’the image of God’] literally-that is, that man’s physical being is in the image of God. Such an interpretation should be rejected for at least four reasons. In the first place, we are told elsewhere that God is a spirit (John 4:24; Isaiah 31:3) and that he is ubiquitous (1 Kings 8:27). In the second place, a literal interpretation would leave us with all sorts of bizarre questions. If man’s physical being is in the image of God we would immediately wonder what, if any organs, God possesses. Does he have sexual organs, and if so, which? Does he have the form of a man, or of a woman, or both? The very absurdity that God is a sexual being renders this interpretation highly unlikely. Thirdly, it seems unlikely that man’s dignity above the rest of the animals (Genesis 9:5 f.; James 3:7-9) is due to his slight physiological differences from them. Is it credible that animals may be killed but that man may not be killed because his stature is slightly different? Finally, a literal interpretation seems not only contradictory to the rest of Scripture, and unlikely, but also inappropriate, Gardener aptly observed: ’But our anatomy and physiology is demanded by our terrestrial habitat, and quite inappropriate to the one who inhabits eternity.’ For these reasons, theologians have concluded that the statement in Genesis 1:26-28 must be metaphorical of man’s spiritual or immaterial nature." [Note: Bruce K. Waltke, "Reflections from the Old Testament on Abortion," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 19:1 (Winter 1976):8. His quotation is from R. F. R. Gardener, Abortion: The Personal Dilemma. See also Waltke’s helpful discussion of image and likeness in Genesis, p. 65-66. For the view that the image of God includes the body, see Jonathan F. Henry, "Man in God’s Image: What Does it Mean?" Journal of Dispensational Theology 12:37 (December 2008):5-24.]
Genesis 1:27 may be the first poem in the Bible. If so, the shift to poetry may emphasize human beings as God’s image bearers. There is some disagreement among Old Testament scholars regarding what distinguishes biblical poetry from biblical prose. [Note: See Tremper Longman III, Song of Songs, pp. 9-54, for a discussion of the subject.]
Note that God’s blessing of man finds expression in terms of posterity that connotes the ideas of seed and life, two prominent themes as Genesis and the whole Bible unfold. [Note: Sailhamer, "Genesis," p. 38.] God’s blessing enables humanity to fulfill its twofold destiny: to procreate in spite of death and to rule in spite of enemies. "Blessing" denotes all that fosters human fertility and asists in achieving dominion. [Note: Waltke, Genesis, p. 67.]
Interpreters have generally recognized the commands to "be fruitful and multiply" as commands to Adam and Eve (and later to Noah, Genesis 9:1) as the heads of the human race, not simply as individuals. That is, God has not charged every human being with begetting children. This seems clear from the fact that God has made many men and women incapable of reproducing. [Note: For a good book on childlessness, see Vicky Love, Childless Is Not Less.] Consequently one should not appeal to this command as a support for the theory that God wants all people to bear as many children as they possibly can. This verse is a "cultural mandate," not an individual mandate. It was to Adam and Eve as heads of the human race that God gave this command.
"This command, like others in Scripture, carries with it an implicit promise that God will enable man to fulfill it." [Note: Wenham, p. 33.]
Sexual union is God’s ordained method of implementing His command to multiply descendants. Consequently sex is essentially good. When God gave this command Adam and Eve were in an unfallen condition. Therefore the descendants they would produce would be godly. It is particularly a godly seed that God has charged the human race to raise up. Likewise He commanded Noah and his wife, who were both righteous, to be fruitful (Genesis 9:1).
God did not make men or women emotionally, spiritually, or physically capable of raising children without a marriage partner. Consequently single parents struggle. As children observe both godly parents modeling a harmonious marriage they learn to appreciate their own sexual identity, the roles of husband and wife, and unconditional love. Unconditional love is necessary for a harmonious marriage.
"Subdue" and "rule," the second aspect of this mandate, imply a degree of sovereignty and control that God delegated to man over nature. [Note: See Eric Sauer, King of the Earth. Cf. Hebrews 2:8-9.] This constitutes God’s "Magna Charta" for all true scientific and material progress. God commanded Adam and Eve to acquire knowledge so they could master their material environment, to bring all its elements into the service of the human race.
"The dominion which man enjoyed in the Garden of Eden was a direct consequence of the image of God in him." [Note: Davis, p. 81.]
For a married couple oneness in marriage is necessary to manage God’s creation effectively.
"Our Christian proclamation of hope has antecedents in the theological soil of three divine programmatic expectations first heard in Genesis: (1) God will bless the human family with procreation and dominion (Genesis 1:26-28); (2) he will achieve victory over mankind’s enemy (Genesis 3:15); and (3) he will bring about both through the offspring of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3)-namely, the one man Jesus Christ." [Note: Mathews, p. 22.]
We have in this verse the three essential elements of a dispensation (stewardship, household rule): a divine revelation of God’s will for human conduct, consequent human responsibility, and a period of time during which God tests people as to their obedience to this responsibility. A dispensation is a period of time during which God tests man in relation to his obedience to a specific revelation of God’s will. The dispensations constitute a progressive, connected revelation of God’s dealings with humankind. God gave them to the whole human race or to a part of it (e.g., Israel). They are not separate ways of salvation; in each dispensation man is saved by God’s grace because of the work of Jesus Christ. Before the Cross, people were saved in prospect of Christ’s sacrifice, as on credit so to speak, by believing a revelation given to them by God. After the Cross, people are saved in retrospect of Christ’s sacrifice, by believing the revelation that He satisfied God’s just demands against sinners (1 John 2:2). Whereas specific human responsibilities change as divine revelation unfolds and dispensation succeeds dispensation, people have a continuing responsibility to live in the light of previous revelation. For example, even though the dispensation of the Mosaic Law has ended, Christians are helped to discharge our responsibilities to God by being aware of what God required of the Israelites under the Law (cf. Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The purpose of each dispensation has been to place people under a specific rule of conduct, not as a condition for salvation but to demonstrate that people always fail to live up to God’s standards and so need to accept salvation that God extends to them as a gift. I believe that seven dispensations are distinguishable in Scripture. These are Innocence (Genesis 1:28), Conscience (Genesis 3:7), Human Government (Genesis 8:15), Promise (Genesis 12:1), Law (Exodus 19:1), Church (Acts 2:1), and Kingdom (Revelation 20:4).
This verse marks the first dispensation: Innocence. God created man innocent, placed him in a perfect environment, subjected him to a simple test, and warned him of the consequences of disobedience. Adam did not have to sin but chose to do so. The serpent deceived Eve (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:3), but Adam sinned deliberately (cf. 1 Timothy 2:14). This dispensation ended when God judged Adam and Eve guilty and expelled them from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24).
God gave man authority and responsibility to regulate nature and to advance civilization. Nature was to serve man, not vice versa. This does not give man the right to abuse nature, however. [Note: See Gina Hens-Piazza, "A Theology of Ecology: God’s Image and the Natural World," Biblical Theology Bulletin 13:4 (October 1983):107-110.] Neither does it justify giving animals and plants the "rights" of human beings.
"Man is the climax of creation, and instead of man providing the gods with food, God provided the plants as food for man (Genesis 1:29)." [Note: Wenham, p. xlix.]
Genesis 1:29 suggests that man was originally a vegetarian. After the Flood, God told man that he could eat animals (Genesis 9:3). The animals may also have been herbivorous at first (Genesis 1:30). [Note: See Ham, et al., pp. 29-30.]
Genesis 1:27-31 are a general account of human creation. The more detailed account of the creation of Adam and Eve follows in Genesis 2:4-25. These two accounts do not necessarily reflect a two-document composition of the creation story, but they illustrate the writer’s purpose. In chapter 1 He wanted to emphasize the creation of humankind in the larger context of the cosmic creation.
There are three major viewpoints regarding the origin of man as recorded in Genesis 1:26-31; Genesis 2:7; and Genesis 2:21-25.
1. "Evolution" (both Darwinian and neo-Darwinian) asserts that all living organisms arose from a single, simple cell through a process that took millions of years. This first cell resulted from the accumulation of chemical and protein elements that came together because of unknown change factors over a long time period. This view contradicts Scripture, and it is not scientifically demonstrable. [Note: See John C. Hutchison, "Darwin’s Evolutionary Theory and 19th-Century Natural Theology," Bibliotheca Sacra 152:607 (July-September 1995):334-54.]
2. "Theistic evolution" attempts to blend Scripture and scientific theories. It holds that God ordered and directed the evolutionary process. This view fails to explain specific statements in the text of Scripture adequately; it accommodates the text to scientific theory. The major problem with this view is that it is not completely true to either science or Scripture but is inconsistent. [Note: Representative evangelicals who hold this view include Kidner; Waltke, An Old . . ., p. 202; and Edward J. Carnell, An Introduction to Christian Apologetics. See David H. Lane, "Special Creation or Evolution: No Middle Ground," Bibliotheca Sacra 151:601 (January-March 1994):11-31; and idem, "Theological Problems with Theistic Evolution," Bibliotheca Sacra 151:602 (April-June 1994):155-74, for refutations of this view.]
3. "Special creation" asserts that God produced the world and all life forms through a series of supernatural acts. Some special creationists believe He did this in a relatively brief period of time. Others, such as progressive creationists, believe the creation process took thousands of years. This view gives primacy to the text of Scripture and interprets it more literally, historically, and grammatically. [Note: Representatives include Bush, Davis, Schaeffer, Young, et al. See Warren H. Johns, "Strategies for Origins," Ministry (May 1981), pp. 26-28, for good brief explanations of the evolutionary theories and eight creationist theories of origins. David L. Willis, "Creation and/or Evolution," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 29:2 (June 1977):68-72, set forth criticisms of both creationism and evolutionism. Every Christian who accepts evolution should read Charles C. Ryrie, "The Bible and Evolution," Bibliotheca Sacra 124:493 (January-March 1967):66-78; and Kenneth A. Ham, The Lie: Evolution. See also idem, Genesis and the Decay of the Nations, for an explanation of the effects of evolutionary teaching on humanity. Jobe Martin, The Evolution of a Creationist, is also helpful.]
"Progressive creationism" teaches that God created the universe in several acts of creation that time periods of indefinite duration separated. The process of evolution was at work within these eras and accounts for the development of phyla, species, etc. [Note: See Hugh N. Ross, Creation and Time: A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy. For a critique of the claims in this book, see Mark Van Bebber and Paul S. Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross.] The following quotation distinguishes theistic evolution from progressive creationism.
"I do not believe in theistic evolution. Theistic evolution means simply that God guided the evolutionary process so that it is not to be explained on a purely naturalistic basis. It assumes that all living things, including man, are biologically descended from a common ancestor. By contrast with theistic evolution, Scripture indicates that God made different basic kinds of beings and that all existing plants and animals are not descended from a common ancestor." [Note: Russell L. Mixter, "A Letter to President Edman, March 26, 1962," Bulletin of Wheaton College (May 1962), p. 5. See also Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture; Pattle P. I. Pun, "A Theology of Progressive Creationism," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 39:1 (March 1987):9-19); and W. I. LaSor, "Biblical Creationism," Asbury Theological Journal 42:2 (1987):7-20.]
I do not believe that Scripture supports progressive creationism, as these notes will explain.