Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. (2 Peter 3:3-6, emphasis added)


In the prior article, we discussed the meaning of the passage cited from the controversial 2 epistle of Peter.  We continue that discussion here, connecting the overarching topic of the Apocalypse with the specific teaching of Peter on biblical creation.  My interpretation of Peter’s teaching is known as The Gap Theory of Creation.

The Earth that Then Was
The Earth that Then Was

The Gap Theory of Creation does not necessarily conflict with intelligent design, today’s most popular and biblical response to Darwinism. Principles exist within the universe, which testify that creation was designed with ‘life on earth (and maybe elsewhere!) in mind.’ Proponents call it the anthropic principle.

Young Earth Creationism as well as the so-called Gap Theory both assume this principle to be true. Even the hybrid theory labeled theistic evolution would see much in the anthropic principle to applaud. Also known as directed evolution some evangelicals and most liberal Jewish and Christian theologians espouse this perspective.[i] Implicit within the anthropic principle are scores of purely scientific data arguing God created the universe to sustain life. Without His creating the world based upon these principles, life as we know it could never have happened.

However, we must recognize that so-called Young Earth Creationism (YEC) conflicts with ‘Gap Creationism.’ This former creationism held by William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes Monkey Trial (who faced Clarence Darrow) asserts that the world and the universe are no older than Adam. Creationists assert that the earth was created with an appearance of age; and it is only 6,000 years old (or perhaps as old as 10,000 years, assuming that the chronologies of the Old Testament are not meant to be fully inclusive of every generation). Creationists contend scientific dating methods like ‘Carbon-14’ (and about 40 others) are not reliable. Consequently, YEC cannot accept the earth’s actual age to be billions of years as science postulates.   If Creationism is your view, I do not wish to fuss about whether you are right or wrong. However, I side with the ‘Gap theorists’ because I believe it better fits ‘the facts’ of what we find buried within the earth and yet, still allows upholding the infallibility and authority of the Bible. The issue remains succinctly, what does the Bible teach? In my opinion Genesis 1:2 is better translated in accordance with Gap Theory.

Some protest that Gap Theory comprises an accommodation to modernity and science (although we find it in many writings of Christian scholars throughout the last 2,000 year period—not just since the time of Darwin). Those who promote a rigid or strict Creationism maintain adhering to a ‘young earth’ amounts to a test of orthodoxy. I disagree: the Bible can be interpreted either way; it most certainly does not constitute a test of orthodoxy. There simply is insufficient detail in what the Bible tells us about the timing of our origins to be dogmatic.[ii]


Another interpretative mistake that is generally made about the passage in 2 Peter: misunderstanding Peter’s meaning regarding the “waters.” We assume the overflowing of water discussed in 2 Peter relates to the flood of Noah. But this does not follow from the context of his argument. Instead, what Peter reveals is that God created the heavens and earth, but then (without explanation) the world was overflowed with water and life subsequently perished. The world became a chaotic wasteland. Like the title of the famous but failed Kevin Costner movie, it became a ‘water world.’ God had to recreate (restore) the world to make it capable of sustaining life once again. This suggests that there have been two global floods. That is, thousands of years before the Flood of Noah, another flood encompassed the earth. The flood of Noah constitutes a much more recent catastrophe.

Recall that evangelical scholars (who rely upon Bishop Ussher’s calculations from the genealogy of Genesis), establish the date of Noah’s flood at 2348 BC. The prior flood was at least 2,000 years before that time, and logically would have been even further back in the ‘annals of time.’ There are some suggestions that the earlier flood occurred about 12,000 years before present (YBP). This would place the flood of the supposed destruction of Atlantis.

Chart of the Gap Theory by Clarence Larkin
Chart of the Gap Theory by Clarence Larkin

What caused the first flood? Authors like Pember and Dake concluded it was the rebellion of Lucifer aka Satan. Dake discusses a passage from Isaiah and the part that ‘the son of the morning’ played in the destruction of the prior ‘aeon’ (properly translated as age and not world):

Turning the pages of Isaiah, we find a prophecy concerning the king of Babylon in the fourteenth chapter. At first, the text is referred to as a “proverb against the king of Babylon” (Isa. 14:4). As we study this passage, however, we find several statements which cannot possibly be made of an earthly king. These verses are generally accepted as referring to the fall of Lucifer:

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isa. 14:12-14)[iii]

Dake provides this commentary:

Through Isaiah’s eyes we can peer down the corridor of time and see fragments of history that took place before Adam was formed. Angels walked the earth in the purity of holiness as each did the will of his Creator. Lucifer, an angel created by God, was given widespread authority and power. His position and influence were such that the archangels themselves were hesitant to confront Lucifer under their own authority.[iv]

Dake continues to make his perspective perfectly plain:

It seems clear that Lucifer must have held a position of rulership second only to God Himself. In this passage Isaiah portrays Lucifer’s exalted status prior to his fall through rebellion. Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah records that Lucifer had a throne, obviously signifying rulership or kingship. Likewise, rulership implies subjects to rule. Furthermore, since Lucifer was charged with weakening the nations, there must have been nations in existence for him to weaken. In the sense of a visible, personal rule on earth, Lucifer had no kingdom at the time of Adam’s creation and hasn’t had one since; he has only ruled through others since Adam’s day. Therefore, Isaiah’s prophecy must refer to a time before Adam. Isaiah declares that Lucifer’s kingdom was on earth. “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,” Lucifer boasts in verse fourteen. How could he have attempted to ascend above the clouds and stars and into heaven itself if he already lived in heaven? Why would this kind of language be used, if not to emphasize Lucifer’s earthly position prior to his rebellion against God? [Emphasis added][v]


Peter’s commentary (in my interpretation and those of the authors I have cited) reinforces the ‘Gap’ concept and, as stated above, employs this understanding as an analogy to undercut the arguments of scoffers who claim the promise of the Second Coming is preposterous.

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. (2 Peter 3:3-6, emphasis added)

Note the context of Peter’s argument. Scoffers say all things are the same as they have been since the beginning of the creation—not since the deluge that destroyed life (aka Noah’s flood). We can make this point because it is highly likely that the memory of the global flood was ubiquitous—everyone assumed that this had occurred. But a flood that took place prior? A ‘water world’ from which God had to restore the earth to make it habitable? That was something that many schooled in the Scripture would believe, while the unlearned would not necessarily acknowledge.

In essence, Peter says to his readers, “Why pay attention to scoffers who base their point of view on a fallacious understanding of the creation. Because they do not understand how we got here, why should we care if they scoff about our where we are going? They base their understanding upon what they see. As such, they are without insight from God’s revelation. Since they do not understand the past, how can they predict the future?”   Peter’s argument emphasizes God intervenes in space-time. Unlike the Gnostic notion that matter is too evil for God to handle directly, God ‘touches’ the material world. He directly alters the world we see.[vi]

The issue we must consider, and in my opinion what the Bible teaches, is that the aeon (epoch or age) of humankind may be only a small, yet paramount parenthetical time period in an otherwise vast period of earth history.

Might the earth be 4.5 billion years old? Yes it might, just as secular science says. But the context of the creation account in Genesis may only be referring to the past 10,000 to 15,000 years (or less, perhaps only 6,000 years) of that immense timespan. If we accept that the Bible’s interest consists of only this final epoch (from the moment of the ‘re-creation’ of our world to the time Christ returns and restores the earth to a redeemed state), Peter asserts it makes the promise of His coming even more certain.   God has intervened supernaturally twice before in a global and dramatic way to change the course of life on this planet. He can and will do so again. That is what Peter is expressly saying.

Therefore, to comprehend the end of this age, we must correctly ‘reckon’ its beginning. Understanding the surprising if not astounding origin of life on this earth makes our incredible destiny of a new heaven and new earth all the more plausible.

* * * * * * *

This article is drawn from Doug Woodward’s book, BLOOD MOON: BIBLICAL SIGNS OF THE COMING APOCALYPSE. Click here for more information or to purchase the book on Amazon—Kindle and printed versions are available. The book is on sale through this Sunday June 15, 2014, for $14.95, (ONLY) at the S DOUGLAS WOODWARD STORE at the Amazon Marketplace. Buy two or more items from the S DOUGLAS WOODWARD STORE and your package will be priority mailed to you.


[i] This view suggests that God worked through evolution; there is continuity from ancient times to the present.   Most evangelicals would object for a variety of reasons, believing science as well as biblical teaching are at odds with this notion.

[ii] Even if we treat the account of Genesis as a ‘mythical’ story which affirms only that humankind is a special creation of God, I could still base my faith on that position. But the emphasis must be on (1) ‘special creation of God’ and that (2) humankind possesses the image of God in a unique way unlike any other creature that the LORD God made. The story tells us that humankind held a unique place in the world and communicates with God unlike any other creature in the Garden. There is a very special ‘connection’ between Adam and God. Needless to say, however, I do not treat it mythically.

[iii] Dake, Finis (2011-01-06). Another Time…Another Place…Another Man (Kindle Locations 420-426). Dake Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[iv] Ibid., Kindle Locations 435-438.

[v] Ibid., Kindle Locations 441-449.

[vi] Of course, this is also why Gnostics could never accept a true incarnation (God becoming flesh), because flesh, being matter, is evil.

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