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Is Genesis Real?


The book of Genesis describes God’s creation of the universe, its corruption and destruction, amongst many other things. Now that we’ve made it through 2 Peter, these blogs are going to address specific issues and criticisms of the Genesis account of creation. While this may seem like a trivial subject, the reality is it cuts to the core of what we believe as Christians. If we accept millions/billions of years and evolution as the truth then we have completely missed the Creator’s first hand account of His work AND completely undermined the gospel. (If death and suffering occurred before Adam then sin and death didn’t actually enter the world through Adam…so what was the point of that whole Jesus thing again?)

Today I want to look at the first few verses of the Bible:

Genesis 1:1-5

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.

God called the light day, and the darkness He called night And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

What do these verses plainly say? Out of nothing, God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was formless and void (e.g. a blank canvas). The rest of the chapter then proceeds to outline how God took this “blank canvas” and turned it into a vast universe and a paradise on earth.

I used to believe there was a “gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. This gap theory requires one to read the verses above as follows:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

[Rev 12:7-9: And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.]

The earth [became] formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

If you read it this way, then God created the heavens and the earth twice…the first creation isn’t described and is destroyed by the war (and presumably a flood) in Revelation 12. The second creation is then described in detail. So…the gap theory is a convenient garbage can in which one can throw millions of years, fossils, and all kinds of issues that scientific theories may not be easily explained by Genesis 1. However, I think this is a serious twisting of scripture:

  • The context of Rev 12 doesn’t even refer to creation.
  • If in day six, everything is very good, then how could a rebellious Satan be present before day 1?
  • If (as the gap theory requires) “Lucifer’s flood” destroyed the first earth, then we have to handle Noah’s flood in another way. (2 Peter 3:3-7 only describes one flood…)

Some further reading if you are interested:

Theistic evolution: what difference does it make

Gap theory information

Gap theory criticisms

Note: If you come across any criticisms or apparent contradictions in the Genesis account, please email them to me (or add them as comments to this blog) and we’ll look into them in future columns.

67 Responses to “Is Genesis Real?”

  1. on 19 Apr 2007 at 6:24 amJoyce

    Thanks Matt. I read the suggested readings and found them logical and simple to understand. While the Gap Theory may seem to explain, it actually leads down a dangerous road of watering down the Word of God and eventually unbelief.

  2. on 20 Apr 2007 at 12:10 amWolfgang

    Dear Matt,

    a further querstion arises to your rhetorical question above:
    “If in day six, everything is very good, then how could a rebellious Satan be present before day 1?”

    Where did “rebellious Satan” come from and when did he enter the world? Do the Scriptures tell anything about this ? Does Isa 45:7 have anything to do with this (“Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”)?

    In Gen 2, in God’s directions given to Adam before man had been tempted and before man committed sin, God mentions “a tree of the knowledge of good and evil” in the garden … so apparently both “good” and “evil” were in existence then, seeing that it was available at that time to gain a kowledge of both good and evil ?


  3. on 20 Apr 2007 at 5:25 amPatty

    This is a difficult area for me to understand but I would like to. I can although be content to accept that God id always just and good. I hope I would not make the same mistakes as Jobs miserable comforters did. I do beleive that God does want us to have some understanding of these things.. The concept of evil was present perhaps the opposite of good, but it was not present in the sense of any active use of evil thats why God could say it was good. There was the possibility for evil and that was ok just as long as it was not acted on. Isnt that also true when we consider our own lives, The choice was present in that sense it was present.

  4. on 20 Apr 2007 at 8:48 amMatt

    That is an excellent question Wolfgang…and I don’t really have a good answer for it presently. If you have any thoughts on the matter I’d be interested in hearing them…and while it may be a departure from the aim of the blog (i.e. science and the Bible can and do agree) I’ll probably discuss this next time.

  5. on 20 Apr 2007 at 9:21 amSean

    Evil does not exist independently; it is a corruption of what is good.

    Perhaps the tree was not evil but contained the knoweldge of good and evil. Thus, evil need not exist until the good was corrupted. The first evil is the temptation by the serpent and then the second is the disobedience of our primordial parents.

  6. on 20 Apr 2007 at 9:29 amJohn Paul

    I personally always thought that there was nothing mystical or what have you within the fruit of the tree itself that was evil. It was that fact that they disobeyed God that brought them to a knowledge of evil. The fruit it self was just a vice or a tool to bring them to that.

  7. on 20 Apr 2007 at 9:40 amJohnO

    I agree with John Paul, to describe the tree as “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” is misleading to us. The Bible almost never speaks ontologically. That is a ten-dollar word for “defining what something is inherently, or a thing’s nature/essence”. We, because of our time and culture understand that sentence to say: “This tree contains the knowledge of good and evil”, or “within this tree is good and evil”. From the writers perspective (Moses) he can say “this is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” because (like JP said) this is how the knowledge of evil entered the world – by disobeying God and thus falling.

    We have a serious problem in biblical reading when we try and call a “literal” understanding an “ontological” understanding. Rather we should say a “literal” understanding is a “literary” understanding. When we are reading poetry (Psalms, proverbs, even some of Ecclesiastes), there are conventions to understand it, and phrases and constructions the authors use when they write poetry. When you read Kings (historical remembrance) it is written very differently (no surprise).

  8. on 20 Apr 2007 at 12:13 pmPatty

    Matt Once the choice was made to listen to the serpent and not to God , everything was down hill from there. Basically do you think that the root of any evil can be boiled down to this incident in Genesis—- Disobedience to God rather simple yet man misses it. It is not in man to direct his own way.

  9. on 20 Apr 2007 at 12:15 pmDustin

    I guess another question that can be thrown out there would be… who created demons?

    I would also like to know the clear text that says that Satan “fell”

    Im not saying that Satan isint real or isint bad, but I think we have brought a lot of assumptions to this thread already that need to be ironed out.


  10. on 20 Apr 2007 at 12:19 pmPatty

    I thought that demons were fallen angels and didnt God do all the creating?

  11. on 20 Apr 2007 at 2:26 pmDustin

    It seem to be the only logical conclusion, although the Bible does not say either way. There is a lot of speculation in the noncannonical books.


  12. on 20 Apr 2007 at 3:29 pmJohn Paul

    Would that be the Book of Enoch Dustin?…

  13. on 20 Apr 2007 at 3:38 pmSean

    Yes that would be any books that are not in the Bible. The cannon is the list of approved books in the Bible (66). Noncannonical are all those which are not considered to be inspired.

    The book of Enoch theorizes that the angels (sons of God) in Genesis 6 who had relations with the women (daughters of men) produced giants (the nephilim) which when they died in the flood resulted in disembodied parasitic spirits (what we call demons).

  14. on 20 Apr 2007 at 7:14 pmDustin

    There are a lot of books that are noncannonical that talk about angels and demons. I can count about 10 off the top of my head. Most are in a work called Old Testament Pseudopigrapha (2 vols by James Charlesworth). Kinda expencive at $50 each, but good background.


  15. on 20 Apr 2007 at 7:25 pmJohnO

    As far as “the fall” of Satan, I find that in Eze 28.15

    You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you.

    Reading the context, this is truly about the King of Tyre, but I understand Ezekiel to be making a reference to Satan here, comparing the King of Tyre to him.

    Any thoughts?

  16. on 20 Apr 2007 at 9:18 pmDustin

    I kindly dont think that passage (nor the Isa. 14 passage) is referring to Satan. See the following:



  17. on 20 Apr 2007 at 10:15 pmSean

    Agreed, Ezekiel 18 is talking about the prince of Tyre, using metaphorical language to empasize the point and Isaiah 14 is talking about the king of Babylon (an unfortunate translation of the KJV leaves the latin word Lucifer as a proper name which is completely wrong).

  18. on 20 Apr 2007 at 10:37 pmSteve

    John Sailhamer (The Pentateuch as Narrative) has some very interesting comments about the importance of “the Land” in Genesis 1 and he suggests that rather than reading ha-aretz as “the planet earth” we should read it as “the Land [promised to the Patriarchs]”.

    His main premise is that we should read the Pentateuch as one book, not five (and in the Synagogue it has always been one scroll). Reading Genesis 1-2 as an introduction to the broader themes of the Pentateuch, especially as Israel was on the verge of entering the Land, we discover a number of interesting things about the creation. The Creation story is in three parts:

    Gen 1:1 – the creation “in the beginning” of the “heavens and earth”. Interestingly, in the Hebrew this verse has 7 words, and the rest of the story is full of ‘sevens’ – not just seven days, but in the Hebrew the number seven occurs again and again with some words appearing seven times, some grammatical structures based on ‘seven’, and so on. It seems that this seven-word verse sets the scene for a poetically complex piece of literature. The poetic structure alone should caution us not to interpret this too literally.

    Gen 1:2-2:3 The Preparation of the Land – almost everything in this section is about the Land (e.g. separation of the Land from water, the Land brings forth fruit, etc) and ties in with other statements in the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets about Israel in the Land.

    Gen 2:4-24 – Occupying (and then losing) the Land. This sets the ‘tone’ for the chapters at the end of Deuteronomy (Gen 1-2 and Deut 30-34 are like bookends for the Pentateuch) about Israel occupying the Land and the potential to lose it. God set before them “life and good, death and evil” (30:15) – corresponding to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the choice in Eden of life or death. If they obey, God will bless them “in the Land you are to possess”, but disobedience will bring expulsion from the Promised Land, just as it did from the Garden.

    Here are a couple of things from Genesis 1 which I think are fascinating.

    Gen 1:2 – “ha-aretz was without form and void” – the Hebrew for “formless and empty” is tohu v’bohu. The word tohu really means “empty”, not “formless” (the KJV “without form” follows the LXX which undoubtedly was based on a Hellenistic cosmology). The same expression (tohu v’bohu) occurs in Jer 4:23-26 in a prophecy about the desolation of the Land of Israel – “the whole land shall be desolate”. The Land after the captivity is described as tohu = empty or uninhabited. Tohu has this meaning “uninhabited” in Isa 45:18 – “He did not create it [the land] to be empty [tohu], He created it to be inhabited”, where “empty” and “inhabited” stand in opposition. Tohu has the same meaning in Deut 32:10 where tohu parallels “desert”, an uninhabitable wasteland. So Gen 1:2 describes the Land as not yet habitable, and then goes on to describe how God prepared it for habitation. This explains, for example, why Gen 1:11 says God created seed-bearing and fruit-yielding plants but says nothing about the multitude of other plants. In other words, the Land brings forth plants which are of use to mankind (and at the end of Deuteronomy Moses emphasises the point by describing to Israel the fruitfulness of the Land they are about to enter).

    Later Biblical writers apparently understood ha-aretz to primarily mean the Land promised to the Patriarchs (e.g. Jer 27:5). Also later in Genesis it has this meaning e.g. in Gen 11 “the whole land” had one language and it was from this “land” that they traveled eastwards and came to the “land of Shinar” (vv 1-2). It rarely has the meaning “earth” in the sense of “the planet earth”.

    So right from the beginning of the Bible we see the centrality of the Land promised to the Patriarchs and why it’s important to understand the Abrahamic faith.

  19. on 20 Apr 2007 at 11:05 pmPatty

    Someone comment on Rev 12:9

  20. on 20 Apr 2007 at 11:11 pmPatty

    If there are types for Jesus are there types for Satan. If there are couldnt we be able to learn much from this?

  21. on 20 Apr 2007 at 11:53 pmWolfgang

    I don’t have a good answer yet either … further thoughts are at this time only what I already mentioned, recognizing that already in paradise “good and evil” are spoken when God mentions that it was apparently available to have “a knowledge of good and evil” …

    I did not say that the tree or the fruit of the tree was “evil” … while thinking about the original post, it came to mind that God mentions “the knowledge of good and evil” … and one cannot gain or have a knowledge of something that doesn’t exist in some way …
    You wrote: “The first evil is the temptation by the serpent and then the second is the disobedience of our primordial parents.” If the serpent is “rebellious Satan”, then evil was present already in paradise … even though it was after day 6 and God’s statement about God looking on all he had made and declaring that it was good.

  22. on 21 Apr 2007 at 12:20 amWolfgang

    you mention that there is no record of the “fall of Satan” …

    I have also noticed this fact over the years of reading the Bible, and I wonder if that idea of “Satan” as a “title / sort of proper name” for “the top FALLEN angel” is really true. Could it be that this thought, as it is mentioned in the so-called apocrypha, is not truth but an idea that was introduced from those writings?
    There are other wide-spread ideas about “the Devil” and “Satan” floating around to various degrees in the “main-stream” Christian churches that have their origin most likely in some middle ages mystics’ and artists’ heads rather than in revealed truth in the Bible ….
    I also think that neither Ez 28 nor Isa 14 are speaking of “Satan” / “the Devil” (“the top fallen angel” as often understood), but are speaking about those human persons that are mentioned (“king of Babylon”, “prince of Tyre”)

    You also asked another question “who created demons?” This makes me think that one would need to take this one level further and ask: “What are demons?”
    Since the Bible does not speak about a “fall of Satan” (as the top fallen angel), I would think one should not then assume that demons are “fallen angels” but instead check to see if there are biblical indications that demons are “fallen angels” (=> created beings) before asking who created them?

    On the other hand, IF (please note the IF … ! ) Satan and demons are created beings, but no mention is made about them having “fallen”, would Isa 45:7 — which I already mentioned above — be a reference to God creating evil angels?

    Hmn … writing the above, a question comes to mind: Does Isa 45:7 with its words about the LORD Himself claiming “I create evil” show that the ideas about God only doing “good” and that “evil is a corruption of good” are actually false?

    Just wondering … and contiuiing pondering

  23. on 21 Apr 2007 at 6:37 amJoyce

    Pr 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil

    This is a verse I remembered in light of God creating evil. Then there is the verse Wolfgang mentioned,

    Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

    A section in Romans talks of God forming some vessels for honor and some for dishonor,

    Romans 9:20-22 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
    Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
    What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

    Also in Jeremiah 18 God is referred to as a potter whose hand forms vessels “as seemed good to the potter to make it.”

    I know these verses are mostly about men, but can’t they pertain to all of God’s creation?

  24. on 21 Apr 2007 at 7:35 amSean


    again, i must assert that evil is the corruption of good so evil did not need to have been present before the temptation of the serpent (especially if that is when the corruption began in him)

  25. on 21 Apr 2007 at 9:40 amWolfgang

    why “must” you again assert that evi is the corruption of good?

    What specifically do you mean with “especially if that (the temptation of Eve by the serpent) is when the corruption began in him”? Doesn’t the record indicate that the serpent apparently had already “a wrong mindset” before opening its mouth to tempt Eve?

  26. on 21 Apr 2007 at 10:12 amPatty

    We are human and think as a human, we can never truly understand the mind of God. Our concept of evil is only right if we follow what God tells us is evil. Evil for us then can be different then what it is for God. God has allowed us to understand somethings by using figures of speech and examples that we can relate to. In what sense can God say that he creates evil and in what sense does he say there is no darkness in him. ? It has been the error of man to think or desire that he can attain to Gods understanding. Surely we will be just chasing after what is unattainable, the knowledge of good and evil, which we were not suppose to be involved with in the first place. It is a powerful temptation, but for what profit? The lesson to Job are we still struggling with this Job 37:16 Dost thou know the balancing of the clouds the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge.The exhortation is to be as a child and trust obey . Maybe we are not ready yet to receive some of the answers we seek after.

  27. on 21 Apr 2007 at 1:53 pmJohnO


    As far as Gen 1.1 you would rather the translation be:

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the land of Palestine

    From what I do understand, the word is obviously used of land in general, and here in Genesis of *all* the land on the earth. The records you bring backward from the rest of the Torah are all talking specifically about the land of Palestine, therefore the writer can merely say “land” and we all know what we’re talking about it. But the context of Gen 1 doesn’t lend itself, in my opinion, to what is your ultimate conclusion:

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the land of Palestine

    I agree that the stress of the section is not a cosmological creation ex nihlo. As you said, tohu v’bohu does not mean lack of existence. I, however, do feel that ex nihlo creation is a logical conclusion upon reflection of Gen 1, and of nature in general. Even Einstein couldn’t surmise matter existing eternally.

  28. on 21 Apr 2007 at 2:07 pmWolfgang


    A short note on what you mentioned above: “Surely we will be just chasing after what is unattainable, the knowledge of good and evil, …. ”

    I would say that in Gen 3, God Himself declares that man has attained to the knowledge of good and evil … cp. Gen 3:22 “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: ….”

    I do agree that we may have difficulty to determine biblically the meaning of “evil” and not take our own ideas of “evil” when we come to such passages as those that have already been mentioned. I believe that God is true and not “self-contradictory”, “a liar” or “untrue”; and therefore the problem of understanding “create evil” and yet “in Him is no darkness”, etc. can’t be within God and His doings but rather the difficulty must be in my lack of a correct understanding of these terms and concepts.

  29. on 21 Apr 2007 at 2:47 pmPatty

    Wolfgang Of course we know good and evil to say other wise would be silly. But to have Gods understanding and to fully comprehend it, I dont think we do. Adam and Eve had no idea what diobedience would do. They did find out but there are different degrees of knowing. Dont you think so? We naturally try to protect our children from evil as they grow they gradually increase their awareness and understanding. Do you think we will attain in this life Gods comprehension of good and evil? We lean on what he tells us . We accept his guidance.

  30. on 21 Apr 2007 at 3:17 pmPatty

    I am begining to see even though I said it before that evil is possiblly defined as anything that opposes Gods will and desire. So if Satan was good , given free will, and then decided to oppose God , at that incident first thought then that is when evil began. You could say that his goodness became corrupted, but it was corrupted because Gods ultimate goal is for goodness not to be corrupted yet we maintain our freedom of will. Jesus was not corrupted and yet he maintained his freedom to choose.He did Gods will smart move. I dont think you can sy evil always existed unless in the sense of potential. I could have potential to become a great painter . but unless I paint great works of art I cant say I exist as a great painter.

  31. on 21 Apr 2007 at 3:24 pmPatty

    I am begining to see even though I said it before that evil is possiblly defined as anything that opposes Gods will and desire. So if Satan was good , given free will, and then decided to oppose God , at that incident first thought then that is when evil began. You could say that his goodness became corrupted, but it was corrupted because Gods ultimate goal is for goodness not to be corrupted yet we maintain our freedom of will. Jesus was not corrupted and yet he maintained his freedom to choose.He did Gods will smart move. I dont think you can say evil always existed unless in the sense of potential. I could have potential to become a great painter . but unless I paint great works of art I cant say I exist as a great painter.

  32. on 21 Apr 2007 at 10:26 pmSteve

    JohnO, another way of translating ha-shammayim v’ha-aretz in Gen 1:1 would be “the sky and the land”. The Creation story is not so much about “the planet earth” as it is about “land”. Hence the focus on land in relation to other things: the land is separated from water, the land brings forth fruit, man is created out of the land, etc. I think Sailhamer’s point is that the Creation story is placed here as a background to Israel’s entry into and occupation of the Land promised to the Patriarchs and we should read it in that context and not as a science textbook.

    The phrase “the heavens and the earth” or “the sky and the land” in Gen 1:1 is a Biblical expression for the totality of the present world order. It has this meaning in Isa 44:24 where God is the One “Who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself” (also Psalm 103:19; Jer 10:16). I think Gen 1:1 is emphasizing that there is One God Who made everything and substantiates the commandment (soon to come in the Pentateuch) not to worship other gods. There is no specific mention of what may have happened in any “gap” between “the beginning” and “God said …” simply because it would have been beside the point.

    Interestingly, in Joel 3:15-16 the “sun, moon and stars” are identified with “the heavens”. So the sun, moon and stars were created “in the beginning” when God made “the heavens” (otherwise, without sun, moon or stars, what did God “create” when He created “the heavens”?) and not on the fourth day. That explains how “light” could appear on the first day, and how there could be “evening and morning” (caused by the earth rotating in relation to the sun) from the beginning. On the fourth day the sun, moon and stars were not “created” (Heb bara), they were given a purpose – i.e. to serve as signs and seasons. Sailhamer points to a technicality of Hebrew syntax which suggests the meaning “given a purpose” in v 14 which I can explain if you’re interested, although it’s a bit off the point.

  33. on 21 Apr 2007 at 10:36 pmSteve

    Wolfgang, have you come across Henry Ansgar Kelly’s “Satan: a biography” (Cambridge University Press)? He analyses every reference to the devil and Satan in the Bible and comes to the conclusion that Satan is an angel who exercises the functions of prosecutor (as in Job), accuser (especially of the faithful), obstructor and disciplinarian. He acts with God’s permission and even at times as God’s agent.

    I think you may enjoy it. I’m inclining to his way of thinking and it certainly makes sense (for me) of the puzzling facts that the Bible says nothing really of Satan’s origins and that the only references to his “fall” are either future or after the resurrection of Jesus at the earliest. If you’d like I could post a summary of some of his conclusions, or email them to you.

  34. on 22 Apr 2007 at 1:47 amJohnO


    I think Sailhamer’s point is that the Creation story is placed here as a background to Israel’s entry into and occupation of the Land promised to the Patriarchs and we should read it in that context and not as a science textbook.

    I agree.

  35. on 22 Apr 2007 at 2:39 amWolfgang


    thank you for the info about the book on “Satan: a biography”, until now I had not heard of it. I have read some studies by other people on “Satan / “Devil” where authors have used various scripture references and in their interpretation arrive at the conclusion that Satan is the top fallen angel …. of course, this conclusion is nothing new but the very doctrine that is taught in just about every Christian church any time there is a mention made to Satan or the Devil.

    The problem is that all those studies in their conclusions to not really consider the questions that have been mentioned here by some of us … because there is NO record or reference to Satan’s or the Devil’s “fall” found in Scripture, there is no reference found in Scripture that Satan or the Devil even is “an angelic being” as we normally understand the term “angel” as being a “spirit being” / “spirit person”, etc …

    In this topic here, scriptures have been brought up which mention that God creates both good and evil … which would not really coincide with the idea proposed that “evil comes from good being corrupted”. Other scriptures have been mentioned about “the serpent” being already in paradise and proposing evil before man fell and sin entered the world … In light of these, a question arose about whether or not Satan even is a fallen angel (that is, was originally good and then was somehow corrupted and became evil) or if that idea perhaps is a wrong assumption?

  36. on 22 Apr 2007 at 2:44 amWolfgang

    @Steve and John O.,

    IF Gen 1 and its “heaven and earth” is not in a literal meaning referring to heaven and planet earth, etc., why then would folks interpret “new heaven and earth” as a reference to the whole universe and planet earth being restored and Jesus reigning in a worldwide (encompassing all nations and peoples on planet earth) kingdom?

    IF “heavens and earth” are not meant literally but are a figure of speech … which figure of speech would you suggest is being employed here? To what does the expression “heavens and earth” refer when it is used in this context and in the other contexts like “former world”, “world which is now” and “new heaven and earth”; etc like we read in 2Pe 3?

  37. on 22 Apr 2007 at 3:01 amJohnO


    Steve has merely suggested that the force of the passage isn’t about cosmology – how the universe was created. I would tend to agree with him. I think Steve would also agree that the Scripture has in mind the entirety of creation. As I suggested before, I don’t think he would render the verse:

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the land of Palestine

    Would you Steve?

  38. on 22 Apr 2007 at 3:29 amSteve


    I think there is some evidence that Satan is an angel, or at least has access to heaven, although the evidence is not overwhelming. In the Job account we have Satan appearing among the “Sons of God” and seeing these sons of God were also present at creation it’s reasonable to speculate that they were angels. In a remarkably similar incident recorded in Luke 22:31-32 we find Satan asking God (or perhaps Jesus) for permission to test the Twelve, and the implication is that his request had been granted. This suggests that Satan still has access to heaven, as he did in the Job story, and that his task is to test the faithful.

    Having said that, the evidence that Satan is a “fallen” angel is even less convincing. If Satan is “the Accuser” of Rev 12:10 then his being “cast down” is still future.

  39. on 22 Apr 2007 at 3:34 amSteve

    JohnO and Wolfgang,

    I personally think Gen 1:1 is about the whole cosmos, not just Palestine (although the Creation story then goes on to focus more and more on what would become the Land promised to the Patriarchs).

    We get a clue in Rev 21:4 as to what “new heavens and new earth” means when it says “the old order of things has passed away”. In this context we should understand “new heavens and new earth” as a new order of things.

  40. on 22 Apr 2007 at 4:32 amWolfgang

    Hi Steve,

    as you indicate, there is little “the evidence” about Satan being an angel, especially about him being “a (the top) good angel” who then “fell” and became “the top evil angel”.

    In light of that, and in light of someone else mentioning here about the unfortunate situation that a certain term has been mainly used as a proper name (I forget which term it was, perhaps “Satan”? or was it something else in another thread?), I am wondering if perhaps the difficulty here is that nowadays the term “Satan”, “Devil” are (wrongly) understood as proper names or titles for the top evil angel? The word “satan” also has a normal meaning (I don’t have a dictionary handy, it may be “enemy”?) just as the word “devil” has a regular meaning (“accuser”?). It seems to me that there are some clear passages in Scripture where obviously the terms “satan” / “devil” are not referring to an angelic being but are used when people were addressed or spoken of (Peter => “Get thee behind me, Satan” .. if Jesus was still talking to Peter; women in 1Ti 3,11 are not to be “devils”, etc … ) In addition, the word “angel” also does not have to refer to a “spirit being / spirit person”, but is used in its normal meaning “messenger” when referring to human persons who are messengers.

    Do others have further insights into these aspects? how would the above have effect on other passages when the terms are not understood as proper names for “the top fallen angel” but are understood as “enemy”, “slanderer”, etc and perhaps refer to fellow humans who act as enemies and slanderers?


    PS: these are just some ideas coming to mind for further study …. I have now and for the time being put my understanding “in neutral” and am trying to consider and re-consider all possibilities in order to perhaps arrive at a more accurate and satisfying understanding and belief than the one I have held thus far with the various unanswered questions 🙂

  41. on 22 Apr 2007 at 4:44 amWolfgang


    early on in this thread, the questions were asked about “who created demons” and “what are demons?” … does anyone have further insights which may perhaps also help answer some of the questions about “Satan” /”Devil”?

    I am wondering about the “demons” = “fallen angels” (“fallen spirit beings”) doctrine …. NT records speak about people being “having unclean spirits” or the synonymous expression “demonized / possessed by demons”. Can this even mean what is commonly taught, namely “fallen angels” being or living inside a person? If that were true, I would think that on the positive side, “having holy spirit” would then mean to have “a good angel” living inside a person … but we all quickly discard that as wrong. Why do we not discard the idea of “fallen angels” living inside a person? How can one living being / “person” (=> an angel, fallen angel) even live inside another living being (a human person)? is such an idea not already in itself assuming an impossibility? Can we learn something about what a “demons / “unclean spirit” is by comparing to the contrasting side of what “holy spirit” is? Are “demons” perhaps NOT “fallen angels” or “living spirit beings”?

    Just wondering,

  42. on 22 Apr 2007 at 7:13 amPatty

    One thing is for certain demons are cast out and identified. How and what actually is going on internally is not obvious., To make a possible contrast to holy spirit, Gods spirit in someone and unclean spirits in someone cannot mean that the actual process is the same. Does Satan have the ability to give his “spirit” or just direct other negative beings to influence and possess humans? There may be some similarities but as in all counterfeits there are too many differences/

  43. on 22 Apr 2007 at 8:11 amSean


    Good point, we are not being consistent when we say “unclean spirit” is a fallen angel and that “holy spirit” is not an unfallen angel. The problem is that the Bible does not go into detail describing where demons came from. It does seem that they are more like parasites than angels. For example the Legion asked Jesus to allow them to go into the pigs, and they other place where the demon goes through waterless places and then returns to its host. So two conclusions are possible. (1) when the angel fell it mutated (i.e. punished by God) so that it no longer has independence (2) demons are not fallen angels, rather they are a separate class of semi-independent beings (what for sure is that they have their own will)

  44. on 22 Apr 2007 at 12:17 pmPatty

    are you saying Sean and Wolfgang that our holy spirit is an angel? I dont really see the great importance of knowing that demons are fallen or not, they are unclean arenT they?

  45. on 22 Apr 2007 at 12:41 pmPatty

    Are you saying that demons are something other than spirit, and is the word spirit synonmus with angel now because unclean spiirt has been understood in the past with demon which could be “fallen angel”? God calls his gift holy spirit there may be other entities that are spirit angels or not, Is all spirit one thing , God is a spirit but not all spirit is God. Your logic is hard to understand because I must be missing something or it is wrong.

  46. on 22 Apr 2007 at 1:49 pmPatty

    1co 15 34-40, 44 may help us understand that spirit can be in different ways manifested. The spirit of angels the spirit of demons the spirit that God says is Holy, the spiritual man Christ Jesus in his resurected body, Just because a demon could be described as a unclean spirit or as a fallen angel {right or wrong} doesnt necessarily follow that Holy Spirit is a unfallen angel. What is Spirit?

  47. on 22 Apr 2007 at 2:31 pmWolfgang


    I am not saying that holy spirit is an angel … BUT I was thinking about the possibility that perhaps demons aren’t angels (fallen angels) either …

  48. on 22 Apr 2007 at 2:42 pmWolfgang


    I am saying that Scripture uses the terms “spirit” (in expressions such as “has an unclean spirit”) seemingly as synonymous with “demon” (when the same situation is described as “demonized / possessed by a demon”) … and that possibly the understanding of “spirit” referring here to a “fallen angel” is incorrect in light of various points mentioned in this thread.

    I agree that the word “spirit” seems to be used in different contexts with different meanings (it describes “power”, it describes “spirit beings / angels”, it refers to God as “the Spirit”, etc) When we read about “demons” which are also described as “unclean spirits”, to what does the term refer? What exactly does it mean when Scripture speaks of a person “having an unclean spirit” or “is possed by a demon”? Does Scripture mean that a fallen angel is living inside a human person? Does Scripture mean that a person has “an unclean state of mind” (“spirit” being like a synonym for “mind”) ? Does Scripture mean something else with this expression?


  49. on 22 Apr 2007 at 3:01 pmPatty

    Thanks for clarifing if they were not fallen angels then where would you go with your thinking?

  50. on 22 Apr 2007 at 6:31 pmSteve


    It’s important to note that sometimes the Hebrew ‘satan’ occurs with the definite article ‘ha’ and sometimes without it. Likewise with the Greek ‘diabolos” – it can appear with or without the definite article. I suspect this makes a difference as to whether we are reading about AN adversary or accuser, or whether it’s an adversary/accuser in particular, THE Adversary.

    Satan in Job, for example, is ha-satan – THE adversary. That actually looks to me more like a title or job description than a name, and thereafter in the Scriptures we find ha-satan – The Adversary – acting like a prosecutor. But he also doesn’t act alone. Matt 25:41 refers to “the devil and his angels” and so does Rev 12:9. Paul says his “thorn in the flesh” was a “messenger [angel] of Satan” (2 Cor 12:7).

    Demons are never called angels in the Scriptures, and they are rarely associated with Satan. In one of the two places I can think of where demons and Satan are mentioned in the same context (Matt 12:26) Satan is described as having “a kingdom” and Jesus’ casting out of demons is mentioned in connection with it: “If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out?” The next verse says “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (v. 28) which suggests the kind of dualism which Dustin referred to on another thread (btw Dustin, did you see the question I asked you over there?)

    The other place is in Luke 10:17-18 – “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’.” Even in these two examples demons are not called ‘angels’ (although we know from Scripture that Satan has angels), although demons and Satan are linked together. The question is, what conclusions (if any) can we draw from this? Perhaps Satan uses or controls demons (whatever they are) as part of his function of testing the faithful (similar to the way he afflicted Job with diseases).

    I suspect Sean is right when he says that demons are more like ‘parasites’ than angels.

  51. on 22 Apr 2007 at 8:57 pmSteve

    I know this is getting away from the original subject (perhaps we should discuss the devil and demons on a separate thread), but I’d just like to make a couple of observations about demons and “unclean spirits”

    The term “unclean spirit” (KJV) or “evil spirit” (NIV) occurs 12 times in the Gospels. The word ‘demon’ occurs in the Gospels 32 times, and 14 times in the NIV in the hyphenated form “demon-possessed”.

    In the story of Legion (Mark 8:1-20) the demon is also called an unclean spirit. Otherwise, the terms do not commonly occur together except in Luke. It seems Mark prefers the term “evil/unclean spirit” (7 times) over “demon-possessed” (3 times). Matthew uses the term “evil/unclean spirit” only once (12:43) in a saying about a spirit looking for a place to rest. He uses “demon” 10 times. While he has the story of Legion he does not use the term “evil/unclean spirit” in the story as Mark and Luke do. Luke uses the term “evil/unclean spirit” 4 times and “demon-possessed” twice. In one incident he refers to “a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit” (4:33), and on another he says “the demon threw him to the ground … but Jesus rebuked the evil spirit” (9:37). As with Matthew, he uses both terms when telling the story of Legion. John uses the term “demon-possessed” only as an insult on the lips of people who were insulting Jesus (3 times). Matthew and Luke record its use as an insult once each.

    I’m only providing this as information and not necessarily drawing any conclusions from it at this stage. It’s possible that “demon” and “unclean spirit” are interchangeable, and it seems that Luke in particular used it this way (3 times). It’s curious that John does not refer to demon-possession at all, except as an insult.

  52. on 23 Apr 2007 at 6:56 amWolfgang


    I am currently not going anywhere with my thinking . 🙂 .. my thinking is currently stuck at the questions I have which I have asked above …

    As I have cotinued to think about this, it seems to me that the garden / paradise in Gen was not necessarily an “utopia” without any challenges and work for man (some folks have the idea — especially when they express what they would like the future paradise to be like — as if everything in the original paradise was just bliss and man couldn’t do anything wrong because there was no evil to challenge him, etc …

    However, Gen does record that the serpent (as an evil being?) was present in the garden, and man was put in the garden to work it, etc … no utopia there! Sure, apparently, things weren’t cursed and things were not as “screwed up”, but there was no “utopia” … or?

  53. on 23 Apr 2007 at 7:34 amSean


    I’m curious as to why you assume that if work is present that this means “no utopia?” Work is enjoyable and fulfilling, it is a gift from God to be able to work. The word “Eden” means pleasure and the Garden of Eden was certainly a garden of pleasure. Furthermore, the serpent was “more crafty than the other beasts of the field,” this also does not imply evil. It was when the serpent used his craftiness to tempt Eve that the first evil occurrs. The Bible wants us to think of the eternal state like the begining. Compare Genesis 1-2 to Revelation 21-22. The number of parallels are striking. Even so, it is clear according to Revelation 20, that Satan (that old serpent) is destroyed in the end.

  54. on 23 Apr 2007 at 10:15 amWolfgang


    I was simply comparing to what I have perceived when people speak of the future paradise as an “utopia”, and they seem to think that there will be no work, etc.

    As for comparing Gen 1-2 to Rev 21-22, I see that in Rev 21-22 – even after the creation of the new heavens and earth and the coming down of the new Jerusalem, there are evil folks present who are mentioned as not being allowed to enter into the gates of the citry (cp. Rev 21:25-27), which seems to indicate that the “new heavens and new earth” age that is spoken of there does not refer to some “utopia” without any evil either.

    I’ve always been of the opinion that “the new heavens and earth” age would be free of evil doers, etc. … yet, folks from the nations are entering the new Jerusalem while abominators, etc. are not allowed to enter the gates, which would mean that there are still some alive who do these things … This makes me wonder about the parallelism between Gen 1-2 and “the new heavens and new earth” in Rev 21-22 …

    Perhaps someone else has some insights on this particular point?

  55. on 23 Apr 2007 at 10:39 amSean

    As I undertsand it, the description of the new heavens and earth ends in Rev 22.5. The remainder is John’s interaction with the angel (6-10) and exhortations to John, as well as all Christians in light of the book of Revelation as a whole. I take verse 15 “outside are the dogs and scorcers…” as a statement of warning that those who are wicked are excluded from God’s paradise (in general). Consider these two texts:

    2 Peter 3:10-13 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

    Matthew 13:41-43 41 “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 “Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

    Revelation 20:11 – 21:1 11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.

    at the end of the millenium all wickedness is annihilated and the righteous shine forth like the sun in a perfect utopia (in which righteousness dwells).

  56. on 23 Apr 2007 at 6:52 pmSteve


    On the question of “work” in the Garden of Eden there are two interesting possibilities I have come across:

    1. In the parable of the ‘talents’ in Matthew 25:14-30 we find the line “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” In the similar parable of the ‘ten minas’ in Luke 19:11-27 there is the line “Well done, my good servant!’ Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.” William Barclay commented on this: “The reward of work well done is even more work to do!” Work is not a curse. Some of us actually enjoy working. After Adam and Eve failed their test in the garden the ground was ‘cursed’ so that their work would no longer be pleasurable. However, I believe Jesus has removed the curse under the New Covenant so that now when we work “we work for the Lord” (Col 3:23).

    2. Another possibility is that the Hebrew in Gen 2:15 translated in the NIV as “to work it and take care of it” should be translated “to worship and obey”. The English translations generally follow the LXX which changes the pronoun “it” from the Hebrew feminine to the masculine, to match the masculine word for “garden”. (See “Genesis” Expositors Bible Commentary 2:45, 47-48).

  57. on 23 Apr 2007 at 10:07 pmmike

    i dono, maybe this is a dumb question, but what if genisis is a creation myth/poem written not to give a scientific explanation for creation but to begin the story so to speak?

    i guess i am missing it some how but i don’t see how evolution undermines the gospel. yes i read the part about sin and death entering the world and all that.

    but what if the gen account was given because at the time god knew that the people could not understand or comprehend millions of years or evolution.

    couldn’t the “death” that entered in be a spiritual death? and natural death be just that – natural?

    i am sure i will get all kinds of comments telling me to “read this post” or “read this link” but why not just answer the question here?

    i personally believe in evolution and it hasn’t undermined my beilief in the gospel.

  58. on 23 Apr 2007 at 10:32 pmSean

    mike, you bring up a common view denoted as theistic evolution. the problem is that this stands the adam christology present in romans and corinthians on its head.

    Romans 5:12-21
    12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned– 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    i’m not sure that “spiritualizing” death will work here. the strength of the argument is that sin caused death which is why jesus had to literally (not just spiritually) die. besides evolution is not nearly as cohesive as it has been commonly presented at museums, media, and textbooks.

  59. on 24 Apr 2007 at 9:57 pmmike

    hmm. you say that evolution is not nearly as cohesive as it has been presented at museums, media, and textbooks. it seemed pretty solid when i was working on my minor in anthropology. but no doubt there are issues with it.

    as far as the romans passage goes. if the creation story in genisis is not intended to be a literal retelling of exactly how everything bagan then wouldn’t it follow that paul’s use of it is equally metaphorical? that doesn’t seem to change the gospel. the figurative adam in the myth brought sin into the world and that is an explanation as to why we are all cursed. christ who is a type of adam only he keeps the covenant perfectly and has replaced the old adam as our federal head takes away that curse.

    so i don’t see how it is changed at all.

  60. on 24 Apr 2007 at 11:14 pmMatt


    Thanks for the questions. I think Sean answered your question about possibly spiritualizing death and making room for evolution.

    […]what if genisis is a creation myth/poem written not to give a scientific explanation for creation but to begin the story so to speak?

    I believe Genesis is the beginning of the story…and God provided us with a simple explanation of how He started our universe. Allowing a compromise in the first two chapters of the Bible to allow the theory of evolution as a possibility forces us to “revise”, “spiritualize”, and “twist” many other plain scriptures and ultimately undermine the integrity of the scriptures. Here are three examples:

    1. Noah’s flood…

    Evolutionary theory cannot support a world-wide, cataclysmic flood. Yet the scriptures describe a world wide flood that wipes out all mankind, all birds, all land animals, and all “swarming things” except Noah and those with him in the arc.

    Gen 7:17-23
    Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth.
    The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.
    The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.
    The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.
    All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.

    2 Pet 3:5-6
    But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

    2. Jesus believed in the Genesis account:

    He accepted historicity of creation record (Matt. 19:6 “in beginning God made male and female)

    He believed in creation of man and woman at beginning of creation, not 16 billion years after Big Bang (“From the beginning of the creation made them male and female” Mark 10:6)

    He believed cosmos actually had a beginning, not “eternal potential” (“since beginning of world [Greek kosmos] to this time” Matt. 24:21)

    He believed it was God who created, not natural processes (“From the beginning of the creation which God created” Mark 13:19)

    (Excerpt from http://www.creationevidence.org/God_exist/who_is_Jesus/jesus_creation.html)

    3. There really isn’t any wiggle room in the understanding of what the Hebrew word translated “day” means to allow for thousands or millions of years. The meaning of the word has to be compromised.

    but what if the gen account was given because at the time god knew that the people could not understand or comprehend millions of years or evolution.

    Can you comprehend how God could have created the universe in six days? (I can’t, but a man named Russell Humphreys has an excellent theory that has withstood many criticisms and actually explains the observed phenomena better than the big bang. Check out the book: Starlight and Time: Solving the Puzzle of Distant Starlight in a Young Universe)

    The Genesis account is written very clearly, and while it is not a scientific manual by any means, the scriptures must give us the framework from which we interpret the “facts” that surround us. None of us were there in the beginning, so all we really have to go on is what we see around us and what our God has said in His scriptures.

    Again, thanks for the questions. I hope these answers are helpful. If you have any other questions please ask.

  61. on 25 Apr 2007 at 8:45 amSean

    Matt, will you be talking about evolution at all in future posts (from a scientific point of view)?

  62. on 25 Apr 2007 at 10:40 amMatt


  63. on 28 Apr 2007 at 9:05 amKen

    I am going to briefly get back to earlier statements that demons, evil spirits, etc. are not called angels (according to some speculations.)
    Matthew 25: 41
    “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels …”
    Is this not a reference to unclean spirits or demons?

  64. on 28 Apr 2007 at 7:01 pmPatty

    Ken just saw this post, almost missed it. Thanks sounds like a reference to demons and unclean spirits to me, why should we complicate it.

  65. on 29 Apr 2007 at 1:21 amWolfgang

    Hi Ken,

    “the devil and his angels” reminded me of “messenger of Satan” in connection with Paul’s thorn in the flesh ….
    Was that “messenger” an “angelic spirit being”? was it what is termed demon” in other places? was Paul harrassed by human beings, who were a “messenger (angel) of Satan (the Devil)?

  66. on 29 Apr 2007 at 6:51 amPatty

    Maybe there are different types of angels. Maybe they are beings that are created to perform a job of bringing a message of one type or another and in different ways. When we think of angels we think of the angels that God sends, they take on a human apperance or a magestic apperance, the angels that Satan sends are disgusting and seem at least with the demons to be not as in charge dependent on a host, this is their nature and job as prescibed perhaps by Satan. They all may be angels. The incidentt with Paul with the thorn in the flesh might of used messenger as a figure of speech or maybe the people that were bothering him were doing so because they were being evilly effected by demons, and that is how Satan expresses his message. I dont think Matt 25:41` is using devil or angels as a figure. I think its clear and doesnt need a figure to communicate what is being said any clearer.

  67. on 30 Apr 2007 at 1:30 ammike

    hmm. the real question is how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. 😉


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