What Is the Gap Theory?

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 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. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Genesis 1:1-3

Gap Theory

The gap theory teaches that an indefinite period of time exists between Gen. 1:1 and Gen. 1:2. This time span [million of years] is believed to include the “geological ages,” and fall of Satan. A cataclysmic judgment was pronounced upon the earth as a result of the fall of Satan. Beginning in v. 2 we have the re-creation by God delivering the earth from this chaotic state. The gap theory can be traced by to the early 19th century by a man named George Pember, pastor of a church in New York. The gap theory is an attempt to reconcile a great age for the earth.

Arguments for the Gap Theory

1. The word “was” in Gen. 1:2 should be translated “became.”

The original creation became without form and void. It is true that the word used here can mean either “was” or “became.” The context dictates the use of the word. Passages such as Gen. 3:22; 19:26; 21:20 and Exodus 7:19; 8:17; 9:10 demonstrate “became properly used in context. A parallel of Gen. 1:2 is Jonah 3:3.

Gen. 1:2 can be best believed as the earth “was,” from the creation event of v. 1, in a condition described as “without form and void.” There is nothing in the passage to lead us to use the word “became” in the place of the word “was.”

The word “and” connects v.1 with v. 2. God created and he began to fill what he formed.

2. The words “without form and void” speaks of some kind of judgment.

The Hebrew words speak of empty and lifeless. Usually the word means a place not suitable for habitation such as a desert. To find a context of judgment is difficult. It is true that there were certain things that needed to be created for man’s existence, but it does not mean ruin, chaos, or judgment.

3. Isaiah 45:18

These verse says that the earth was not created in “vain.” As we read the entire verse the context becomes clear. He formed the earth to be inhabited. The word for vain in its context can be rendered as uninhabited. We don’t have a condition here, but a purpose. It was not God’s purpose to create the earth to be uninhabited, and the remainder of Gen. 1 tells how God fulfilled his purpose by filling what he formed.

4. Darkness describes evil or ungodly condition.

v. 5 tells us that the darkness is called night. There is no indication in the text that physical darkness has any evil connotation [see Ps. 104:20, 24]. Spiritual darkness is not even mentioned in the context.

5. The word replenish in Gen. 1:28 supports the gap theory.

They say this is the second go-around for life on earth. The problem is that the word means “fill,” and not “refill.” In Gen. 9:1 the word is rendered “refill.”

6. The gap theory provides a place to put the fall of Satan and the geological ages.

They use Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 to prove this. We find no words speaking of judgments. The only judgment we find is the flood in Gen 7.

Luke 10:17-18 Jesus says the demons were subject to the disciples because their leader fell from heaven. We see a rapid descent in his fall, no mention of a cataclysmic judgment.


The main problem with putting Satan’s fall here and him destroying the creation is this- It’s not mentioned.

I don’t believe you can separate the creation of heaven and earth from the six days of creation by million of years. The Scriptures clearly include creation of heaven and earth within the six creation days [Gen. 2:1-4; Ex. 20:11; 31:17]. Day one really began with Gen. 1:1 and there is no gap. This being the case, God in Gen. 1:31, says His creation was “very good.” It wouldn’t be very good if you have a gap theory.

We can’t have judgment before man’s sin. See Romans 14:12, judgment came to us because of Adam’s sin, not Satan’s. Why would God destroy an Pre-Adamic race because of Satan’s sin [Gen. 1:28]?

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