This article was originally presented to readers for ‘careful consideration’. Whilst not doubting the sincerity of the author, the views expressed, commonly known as ‘The Gap Theory’, are not shared by the current trustees of Precious Seed. The Apostle Paul clearly states regarding the first Adam, ‘Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;’ Rom. 5. 12. Those who are ‘in Christ’ (the last Adam) ‘shall all be made alive’, 1 Cor. 15. 22. This excludes any notion of death having been in the world prior to Adam’s sin as recorded in Genesis chapter 3. The article has been included only because it forms part of the archive of Precious Seed.
The above phrase found ten times in the New Testament is generally understood to refer to the primeval creation, Gen. 1. 1. A careful study of the word rendered “foundation” in these passages reveals, however, that this cannot be so. Two distinct words are translated “foundation” in both the Authorized Version and the Revised Version. They are themelios and katabolee. The former bears the common significance as in Luke 6. 48-49. The latter has a special use in Heb. 4. 3 where its basic meaning can still be traced. This noun is formed from kata a prefix meaning down and the verb ballein to cast or throw. The whole word signifies — a casting down, an overthrow, some form of violent action being implied. Ballein occurs in the New Testament over 120 times, its first mention being Matthew 3. 10. Kata appears as a prefix in many English words, e.g. cataract (waterfall), catastrophe, catalyst, cataclysm. Indeed, the whole word katabolee has passed over into our language as (k)catabolism, a chemical term meaning the breaking down of complex organic compounds into simpler compounds. Katabolee hardly seems a suitable word to indicate the orderly laying down of a foundation for a solid and safe structure.
Now we are ready to look more closely at the language of Genesis 1. Verse 1 undoubtedly refers to the primeval creation of the universe, but verse 2 presents a scene of desolation. God is the God of order, and all His work is perfect as all nature testifies. The verb “was” is quite frequently translated “came to be, came to pass”; see, e.g., Gen. 4. 3; 19. 26. So here the earth came to be without form and void (Heb., tohu va bohu). Now Isaiah 45. 18 plainly states that God did not create it so (tohu va bohu). The very same words are also used to describe the state of Judah after the desolations wrought by the Chaldean invaders as judgment upon the people for their apostasy; Jer. 4. 23 and context. Genesis 1. 2 then must surely describe a scene of ruin due to divine judgment. The reason for this desolation can be gathered only from other scriptures, sometimes little more than a hint; 2 Peter 3. 5-7 helps us here. This too is a passage often misunderstood. A more literal translation following J.N.D’s version is here given: By the word of God there were of old heavens and an earth standing together (subsisting) “out of water and in water … through which (waters) the then world, deluged with water, perished”. The word “deluged” (overflowed, A.V.) is the verb from which our word cataclysm is derived. Note that the then heavens and earth are contrasted with the present heavens and the earth, lit. “the now heavens, etc.”, v. 7, which are to be destroyed by fire; compare v. 10. This deluge then cannot refer to the later Noahic flood as commonly supposed. It must have happened before what we know as “time” began. In further support for this view of a long gap between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1, a period that may have lasted thousands even millions of years, are the findings of science which tell of the formation of geological strata, many containing fossils of long extinct creatures and plants. Such animals, reptiles and birds did not exist in Noah’s day else their descendants would be with us today. See 6. 19-22; 7. 2-3; 7-8 and 14-16, noting the recurring word “every”. From Genesis 1.3 we find God beginning to prepare the scene as a home for Adam, the first man and progenitor of the whole human race; compare Heb. 4. 3.
It is surely logical to assume that, during the age or ages of the great interval, the fall of Satan took place. In his revolt against his Creator he headed a host of rebellious angels. We have no space to go into his subsequent history but see Gen. 3; Luke 10. 18; John 12. 31; 14. 30; Eph. 2. 2; 6. 12. He is seen as “the power behind the throne” of the kingdom of Tyre, Ezek. 28. 11-17, and Babylon, Isa. 14. 12-14, and having subordinate “princes”, Dan. 10. 13, 20; Matt. 4. 8-9. For his future story, see Rev. 12. 7-10; 20. 1-3; Gen. 3. 14-15; Rom. 16. 20.
For the study of katabolee, with the preposition “before” see, John 17. 24; Eph. 1.4; 1 Pet. 1.20. With the preposition “from” see, Heb. 4. 3; 9. 25-26; Rev. 13. 8; 17. 8; Matt. 13. 35; 25. 34; Luke 11.50.