Letters from our Readers:
Q & A with Chuck Missler
by Chuck Missler
Q: What is the "Gap Theory" and is it
A: The so-called "Gap Theory" is a conjecture about a possible interval
between the first two verses in Genesis 1. Among other things, it attempts
to deal with the creation of the angels, the fall of Lucifer, and related
topics. The angels apparently witnessed the creation of the earth;
1 but when were they created? Satan's rebellion is also
portrayed in Scripture;2 but when did he fall?
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. - Genesis 1:1
Beresheet Bara Elohim et ha-Shamayim et ha-Eretz.
Seven Hebrew words; 4 x 7 letters. Volumes have been written on this
verse alone. This opening declaration in verse 1 stands alone; it says it
If you understand this verse you will have no trouble with any other verse in
The first word is
Beresheeth, "In Beginning," which yields the name
of the book of Genesis in Hebrew.
The second word is bara, to create out of
nothing. This is in contrast to similar words in the Hebrew: Asa,
to make, fashion, or fabricate; and Yatsa
to form or shape. (Isaiah 43:7 uses all three.) Most of what we see in the
remainder of Genesis 1 are forms of "made."
The third word, Elohim , the name of God, seems to be a grammatical "error":
it is a plural noun, used as a singular. It is recognized by many scholars
as the first hint of the Trinity.3
It is the second verse that raises some questions.
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. -Genesis
The words, "without form and void, tohu
w'bohu , seem to
be contradicted by a passage in Isaiah:
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 [Whto tohu], he formed it to be inhabited: I am the
LORD; and there is none else.-Isaiah 45:18
And also in Jeremiah:
I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form,
and void [tohu w'bohu]; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the
mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld,
and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld,
and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were
broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger.
When were "all the cities thereof broken down"?
Furthermore, the verb hayah , "was" in Genesis 1:2, is a transitive
verb; it is the same word used when "Lot's wife became a pillar of salt."
4 It implies an active transition.
Also, the waw , "and," in Genesis 1:2 usually implies a time delay.
5 Here it can be construed as an adversative
conjunction, implying a reversal as well as a delay.
(In the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate it is rendered as "but.")
Putting all this together, some scholars suggest that it should be
"But the earth became without form and void
("ruined and uninhabitable"); and darkness was on the face of the deep
(LXX: abousso). And the Spirit of God hovered
(Talmud: like a dove?) over the face of the waters
The Cosmic Interval
The conjecture is that between the first two verses of the Bible, after the
original creation which included the angels and Lucifer, there was a rebellion
and a judgment of his principal domain, the Earth. We thus find Satan
already fallen in Genesis 3.
According to this view, the record following is simply a reconstruction and
the subsequent unfolding of God's plan of redemption.6
These ideas were published by Thomas Chalmers in 1814; George Pember, in
1907; Arthur C. Custance in 1970, and Donald Gray Barnhouse, among others, in
more recent years.7 This is all, of course,
highly speculative, and there are those who have published refutations against
In any case, attempting to employ the "Gap Theory" in an attempt to reconcile
the Genesis record with geologic or paleanthological theories is inappropriate
and futile. Fossils are dead: they occurred after Adam. Clearly, the
Biblical record attributes plants and animals to the post-Adamic world, and its
subsequent "bondage of decay" to the fall in Genesis 3.9
The ambiguities of language, and its subsequent translations,
often leave room for creative speculations. Conjectures such as the Gap
Theory are provocative and challenge us to search "the whole counsel of God" for
consistency and integrity with known, established doctrines.
Speculations such as these can stimulate fruitful discussions but should, of
course, be maintained with a light touch at best.
Yet, the possibility of such an interval would seem to reconcile many of the
passages regarding Satan and his background. His aspirations to "ascend
into heaven," and the suggestive portrayal in what appears to be a
pre-Adamic Eden,10 with the earth as his principal
domain, would seem to harmonize with this view.
As the "prince of this world,"
11 Satan's offer to Jesus Christ in the famed temptations
was valid, or else it wouldn't have been a temptation.12
By God's allowing the cosmic drama to play itself out, Satan will
inadvertently glorify God by demonstrating that there can be only one will in
the universe and all other paths lead to chaos and destruction.
God will use the weakness of man, and his redemption
through faith in His Son, to redeem not only fallen man, but "a new heavens and
a new earth."13
* * *
For more on this subject, see our Expositional
Commentary on the Book of Genesis
- Job 38:4-7.
- Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-19.
- Cf. Psalm 2. See also our briefing package,
- Genesis 19:26.
- Exodus 2:1-2, an eight-year period; Deuteronomy 10:5-6, a 38-year period; 1 Chron-icles 10:14; 11:1, a
seven-year period; Ezekiel 6:22, 7:1, a 58-year period.
- 1 John 3:8.
- George H. Pember, Earth's Earliest Ages,
Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1907; Arthur C. Custance, Without Form and
Void, Brockville, Ontario, Canada, 1970; Donald Gray Barnhouse, The
, Zondervan Publishing
Co., Grand Rapids MI, 1965.
- For a refutation of the Gap Theory, see Weston W.
Fields, Unformed and Unfilled
, Burgener Enterprises, Collinsville IL,
- Romans 8:21.
- Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-19.
- John 14:30; Luke 11:17-18.
- Luke 4:5-8.
- Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1.
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