Archives August 2011

What Did Adam Know On His First Day?

Naming the Animals

One of the tasks Adam was given on the first day of his creation was to name the animals, an act that demonstrated his

Adam names animals

dominion over them as God had prescribed (Genesis 1:26, 28).  Yet, therein lies a supposed problem that the day-age theory would presumably solve: if those days were not day-ages and death had not entered until Adam sinned, then why would Adam give names to animals that denote their carnivorous nature (such as bird of prey)?  The proponents of Progressive Creationism have suggested that Adam was familiar with death, even before the creation of Eve, which would explain why he would give the animals names that fit their ferocious nature.  Progressive Creationist Richard Deem explains:

When Adam was first put into the garden, God said that he could eat from any tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-17). God threatened that Adam would “surely die” if he broke this command. This threat makes no sense unless Adam had already seen the death of animals. There is no recorded reply of Adam asking what death was. If he had never seen death this would have been an obvious question. This is strong biblical evidence that Adam had already seen the death of animals even before Eve was created. In addition, Adam’s choice of names for the animals indicated that he had seen them kill other animals. For example, the Hebrew name for lion is derived from the Hebrew root that means “in the sense of violence.” In addition, Adam named some of the predatory birds using a Hebrew word with the meaning “bird of prey.” In naming the eagle, Adam used the Hebrew word whose root means to lacerate. So, scripture suggests that there was animal death before the fall of Adam and Eve.  (Deem 2006a)

Suggesting that Adam must have known what death was first hand in order to understand God’s directive is nothing more than speculation and not necessary since any child can understand the idea of death without having a family member die.  To suggest that Adam knew what death was based on the names of the animals is not logical.  Furthermore, Deem has assumed that Adam spoke Hebrew.  While it is possible that Hebrew was the original language, there is no way to be sure that Adam and Eve didn’t speak a completely different language.  The above author is putting words into Adam’s mouth that are not in the text.  Because the Bible is God’s Word, we want to be careful not to add or subtract from it, but just understand what is given.

 

Did Adam really include in the name lion the meaning of “in a sense of violence”?  We agree that when we look up the Hebrew word אריה aryeh in the popular Strong’s Dictionary, the definition does in fact say “in a sense of violence.”  But this does not in any way imply that Adam while in the Garden of Eden was thinking to himself, “Gee, what should I call this animal?  Hmm, well, it has big teeth and I have seen it kill and eat other animals!  I need to call it something that is characteristic of its violent nature.  I know!  I will call it aryeh (or in English violence).”

 

The reality is that Strong’s Dictionary and other lexicons sometimes make an educated guess.  When compiling a lexicon (dictionary) of ancient languages, the authors study the available writings and begin to formulate their ideas from there.  There is no master copy of original meanings that they can consult.  Some words are much easier than others due to their high frequency.  The meaning of others,  which are used only once in the entire Bible, known as hapax legomenon, and must be deduced from the surrounding vocabulary.  An example of such an occurrence is found in Isaiah:

 

The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the jackals, and the wild goat shall bleat to its companion; also the night creature (לילית lilit) shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.  (Isaiah 34:14)

 

The term night creature is the Hebrew word lilit which occurs only here in the entire Bible.  Even if it were to have been uttered by Adam, this would not tell us what it means.  Thus, the translation night creature is only an educated guess on the part of the translator due to its similarity to the Hebrew word לילה layla meaning night.

 

Parallelisms

Another tool the translator can use to help clarify a text is parallelisms.  Parallelisms are times when the biblical author followed the word in question with a synonym in close proximity.  We see this style of parallelism often in the Proverbs where an idea is expressed two (or more) different words.  Consider the following example from Proverbs 2:10-11:

 

When wisdom enters your heart,

And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,

Discretion will preserve you;

Understanding will keep you.

 

There are several clues that would help us understand if one or two of these words were difficult since each verse is a pair of words meaning approximately the same thing:

 

  • wisdom –  knowledge
  • heartsoul
  • discretionunderstanding
  • preservekeep

 

The words in this passage are fairly easy, but we can see how if we didn’t know one, we could make an educated guess based on the context and meaning of the other.  This is how many words are ascribed their meaning in the Bible – not from looking at a lexicon or dictionary, but from studying the context in which the word is used; so too with the word lion.  The various authors of Hebrew lexicons such as Strong’s, Brown Driver Briggs (BDB), and others do not know the original meaning of the word.  However, they have observed the animal lion and how it is generally portrayed in Scripture as “in a sense of violence.”  But we must recognize that “in a sense of violence” is not the true meaning of the word lion, which is the translation of the Hebrew aryeh.  The same is true of the birds of prey.  Adam, didn’t look at them and say to himself, “Hmm… I think that I will name you ‘bird of prey’ (Hebrew ayit עיט).”  Again, modern scholars don’t know what the etymology of עיט (ayit) is so they gave it a general term “bird of prey” for that is what it is.  Let’s consider an example in English that is similar.

 

Etymologies

When we say God we are referring to the Supreme Being who is the Sovereign of the universe. Looking in Collins’ English Dictionary we see that the definition of God is “a supernatural being, who is worshipped as the controller of some part of the universe or some aspect of life in the world or is the personification of some force.”  But what is the origin of the word?  We have seen the definition of the word, but where did it come from?  Does the origin stem from supreme being, or powerful one?  Is it related to the word good?

 

To answer these questions we must consult an etymological dictionary which gives a history of origin of words.  According to the Online Etymological Dictionary, god (or God) in old English did mean supreme being.  That, however, is not the end of the story.  In Proto-Indo-European, the predecessor to English, it was spelled ghut which meant that which is invoked.  Although some trace it to an alternate Proto-Indo-European root ghu-to meaning poured, from the root *gheu meaning to pour, pour a libation.  The etymological dictionary also notes that it is not related to the word good.  So, we see in a word we use every day that it had an origin that probably none of us knew before.  We might have thought that it was related to good since God is good and if not that, then at least it came from supreme being.

 

However, the original meaning is neither supreme being nor good but is rather that which is invoked or poured.  This is informative since it demonstrates that a definition and origin (etymology) are not necessarily the same.  Thus to suggest that Adam was familiar with death before the fall and therefore called the lion violent and eagles and vultures birds of prey is anachronistic.  We simply don’t know what Adam meant by the names that he gave.  All that we know is that in the Bible, the Hebrew words aryeh lion and ayit birds of prey are the meanings of those words as derived by scholars according to how the words are used, not according to their original meaning.

 Replenish the Earth and the Gap Theory

In Genesis 1:28 we read “…and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” (KJV)  The King James Version’s use of the word replenish has been seen by Gap Theorists as proof that the earth is old, since supposedly Adam and Eve are commanded to fill again.  In fact, the idea that God commanded Adam and Eve not merely to fill the earth but to fill the earth again, stems from the Gap Theory.[i]  The proponents of the Gap Theory believe that the billions of years of the age of the heavens and earth, as touted by evolutionistic thinking, is found between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  Thus, did God command Adam and Eve to fill the earth for the very first time or to fill the earth again?  Did they actually understand that they were to fill the earth again because the world prior to their creation had been destroyed?

 

Replenish/Malu

It is true, that in today’s English, when we say replenish we mean filling up something that is depleted, something that was once full and is now empty.  However, just less than 200 years ago, Webster’s Dictionary (1828) defines the word as, “To fill; to stock with numbers or abundance.”  We can see that the word has changed from meaning fill to fill again today.  Of course, the answer ultimately lies not in English but in Hebrew.

 

The Hebrew word מלאו (malu) does not mean to refill, but simply to fill.  It in no way connotes or implies to fill again.  It just means fill.  God gave the same command to fill in Genesis 9:1 to Noah after the flood as He did to Adam and Eve.  There is no question that Noah was to fill the earth again, but that is not intrinsically implied by the word; God simply said to fill the earth.  Likewise, to suggest that God commanded Adam and Eve to repopulate a world that had been recreated is poor exegesis and is not even remotely supported from the text.  We can, therefore, absolutely conclude that Adam and Eve simply understood God to be telling them to fill the earth for the first time and not to refill the world.  They would absolutely not infer from God’s command that there had been a world gone bad prior to theirs.  In fact, there are no words or verses that support such a claim.[ii]



[i] Weston W. Fields in his book Unformed and Unfilled (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1978) provides a thorough discussion of the Gap Theory and its fatal flaws.  See also

answersingenesis.org/creation/v3/i3/gap_theory.asp

[ii] For a discussion on the Gap Theory, see: Russell Grigg From The Beginning Of The Creation

answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i2/beginning.asp

 

Creation Days According to the Church Fathers

 We assert that Moses spoke in the literal sense, not allegorically or figuratively, i.e., that the world, with all its creatures, was created within six days, as the words read.  (Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis)

 

The Early Church Fathers

The early Church Fathers were men who believed in Jesus as their Savior and Lord and were the leaders of the church after the time of the original twelve apostles.  They defended and proclaimed the death and resurrection of Jesus and the Bible as a whole.  Their writings show us that they spent great amounts of time attempting to disprove false teachings that arose.  The issue of creation was certainly one of those.

 

The Church Fathers wrote against the Greek teaching that there was not a beginning, that the universe was infinite.  They also wrote against spontaneous generation, which taught that life merely sprang up all by itself without a creator – which has similarities to the ideas of Charles Darwin known today as abiogenesis.  We need to keep in mind, as stated earlier, that just because the Church Fathers have a particular interpretation of a passage, it does not automatically mean that we have to agree with them.  They were men who could make mistakes and their writings are not considered inspired like the Bible.  However, they are indicative of what the early church believed Scripture was teaching.  Because of the sheer number of their writings, we will only look at the most salient of writers; just the ante-Nicene Fathers (the writings of the Fathers from approximately the second until the fourth century A.D.) who wrote thousands of pages – enough to occupy a lifetime of study.

 

Twisting the Words of the Early Fathers

The Church Fathers, like the ancient Jewish writers, have been appealed to by those who believe in an old earth to establish that the Bible truly teaches that the heavens and earth are very old.  As we noted earlier, Dr. Ross has claimed that many of the Church Fathers believed in an old earth rather than in a young earth.

 

It is twisting the facts, however, to say that “many of the early Church Fathers […] interpret the creation days […] as long periods of time.” (Ross 1991: 141)  We have already demonstrated that Josephus, whom he includes in his list, thought just the opposite and dates the age of the world to about 5800 years.  In a similar fashion, the vast majority of early Church Fathers believed that Genesis 1-2 spoke of literal days, not long periods of time.

 

Ross’s poor scholarship has unfortunately led many to believe that the Church Fathers believed in day-ages when in fact they did not.  Dr. Joshua Zorn discusses how he used to believe in a young earth and was very zealous until he learned more about science and in particular, read that the ancient Jewish and Christian interpreters believed in long days of creation.

 

For me it was surprising to find out that very few of the early Jewish interpreters or Church Fathers held to the six consecutive twenty-four-hour day interpretation of Genesis 1. In Creation and Time, Ross has documented that Philo, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandra, Origin, Augustine, Basil, and others all held to other interpretations.  (Zorn 1997: 3)

 

Contrary to what Hugh Ross claims, practically none of the Church Fathers believed in long days of creation, which explains Zorn’s surprise.  Again, we note that the Church Fathers are not the standard by which we measure Scripture; they were fallible.  They do, however, provide a window into how ancient believers understood and interpreted Scripture.  If nearly every ancient interpreter understood the days of Genesis to be literal, then there exists no historical basis to believe in anything but six, literal days of creation.

 

Let’s survey what some of the Church Fathers thought about Genesis 1 and 2 and whether they indeed support the position that the universe and the earth are billions of years old.

Barnabas

The Epistle of Barnabas[i] was probably written between 70 A.D. and 135 A.D. possibly by an Alexandrian Jew, though authorship is not clear.  “The Epistle of Barnabas is, like I Clement, really anonymous…” (Lake 1912: 337-339).  While we are not so concerned with proving who indeed actually wrote it, we are interested in mining the interpretation of an ancient Christian regarding the creation.  From Chapter 15 on, covering the topic of the false and the true Sabbath, we read:

Further, also, it is written concerning the Sabbath in the Decalogue which [the Lord] spoke, face to face, to Moses on Mount Sinai, “And sanctify ye the Sabbath of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart”… The Sabbath is mentioned at the beginning of the creation [thus]: “And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it.” Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. (emphasis mine)

 

Contrary to believing in an old earth and universe, this author believed that the total span of earth’s history would last 7000 years and then God would “make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world.”  How much more clarity in a creation time line could one ask for?  This author was by far not the only one to hold to the belief that the six, literal days of creation multiplied by 1000, was equal the total time in years which the earth would exist.  It would also be wrong to conclude that the author somehow thought that the days in Genesis were not actual days.  It is precisely because those days were real, literal days that the formula worked in his mind.  Because the days of creation were real and definite units of time, so too would be the duration of earth’s history – a grand total of 7000 years.

 

Irenaeus

Irenaeus, an early church father of the second century in the area of modern day France, in his work, Against Heresies reiterates the formula the author of the Epistle of Barnabas so plainly put forth.  Irenaeus says:

 

For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: “Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works.” (Genesis 2:2) This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; (2 Peter 3:8) and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year. (Irenaeus Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 28 emphasis mine)

 

Irenaeus is discussing the end of the age, but plainly believed the days of creation to be literal.  “For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded.”  Irenaeus believed that the world would end after six thousand years precisely because the creation was finished after six days.  If we reverse the formula where one day equals one thousand years, then there is no other conclusion that may be drawn concerning how long he believed those first days of creation to be.  If God will rest after 6000 years, and if the formula is that 1000 years equals a day, then the days of creation must be nothing other than 24-hour days.  If the number of years until the end of the world is believed to be definite and concrete by Irenaeus, then he must have believed that the days of creation were literal as well.

 

Theophilus of Antioch

 

Theophilus of Antioch, born around 115 A.D. and died about 185 A.D., was a prolific writer of the early church.  Theophilus was an apologist especially concerned with refuting the false teachers of his day.  Theophilus, writing to “Autolycus an Idolater and Scorner of Christians”, states concerning the six days of creation that,

Of this six days’ work no man can give a worthy explanation and description of all its parts…on account of the exceeding greatness and riches of the wisdom of God which there is in the six days’ work above narrated. (Theophilus: Book 1, Chapter 1)

He later says, “But the power of God is shown in this, that, first of all, He creates out of nothing, according to His will, the things that are made” (Chapter 8).  He thus establishes that, contrary to Greek thought, there was nothing before God began His work of creation.  Interestingly, in light of the evolution plus God theories, Theophilus writes concerning the creation of the luminaries and how God created them later so as to confound the vain philosophers.

On the fourth day the luminaries were made; because God, Who possesses foreknowledge, knew the follies of the vain philosophers, that they were going to say, that the things which grow on the earth are produced from the heavenly bodies, so as to exclude God. In order, therefore, that the truth might be obvious, the plants and seeds were produced prior to the heavenly bodies, for what is posterior cannot produce that which is prior.  (Book 2, Chapter 15 emphasis mine)

 

God Finished in Six Days

The current evolutionary (abiogenesis) model teaches that life spontaneously generated in the primordial soup of the earth.  A necessary condition for the generation of life was the presence of the sun to provide the light, warmth, and energy for that life to miraculously begin.  Theophilus, who obviously knew nothing of the paradigm of biological evolution, seems to have preempted the idea.  The thought of spontaneous generation did not begin with Darwin; it was a belief held by the ancient Greeks.  Theophilus was specifically attacking the belief that the sun was necessary for the generation of plant life.  It is also significant that those holding both evolutionary timescale and the Bible as being true (Progressive Creation and Theistic Evolution) have to reinterpret the text of Genesis 1 to make it fit their preconceptions.  Theophilus, however, wrote extensively to disprove such theories that contradicted the Scriptures as he understood them.  He then gives a summary statement of all that God had done, “God, having thus completed the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that are in them, on the sixth day, rested on the seventh day from all His works which He made” (Chapter XIX).  Later in chapter 23 he states again:

 

Man, therefore, God made on the sixth day, and made known this creation after the seventh day, when also He made Paradise, that he might be in a better and distinctly superior place. And that this is true, the fact itself proves. For how can one miss seeing that the pains which women suffer in childbed, and the oblivion of their labours which they afterwards enjoy, are sent in order that the word of God may be fulfilled, and that the race of men may increase and multiply? And do we not see also the judgment of the serpent, — how hatefully he crawls on his belly and eats the dust, — that we may have this, too, for a proof of the things which were said aforetime? (Book 2, Chapter 23)

 

According to his logic, the facts that we see the pains associated with childbirth and that snakes do indeed crawl on their bellies proves that God created just as Genesis declared.  Whether or not we agree with his logic is irrelevant.  What is important for our study is to see that another church father understood the events of Genesis 1 – 3 as very real and literal events.  They were historical events.  The days were literal days.  To further confirm those facts, Theophilus establishes that the fall of man and the deception of the woman were at the beginning.  This makes perfect sense if the days of creation were only six, real days, but not if creation lasted billions of years as Theistic Evolution and Progressive Creationism purport.  “This Eve, on account of her having been in the beginning deceived by the serpent […]” (Chapter 28 emphasis mine).

 

Theophilus’ Simple Arithmetic

Many old earth advocates suggest that belief in a young earth of about 6000 years is a fairly recent one.  Theophilus apparently wasn’t aware that he was supposed to believe in an old earth as we have already demonstrated.  But just to let us know what he really thought, he left us yet another clear proof that he thought that creation had taken place only several thousand years before his own time.  In book 3 chapter 23 he endeavored to demonstrate that the prophets of the Old Testament were more ancient than the Greek writers.  He states:

 

And that we may give a more accurate exhibition of eras and dates, we will, God helping us, now give an account not only of the dates after the deluge, but also of those before it, so as to reckon the whole number of all the years, as far as possible; tracing up to the very beginning of the creation of the world, which Moses the servant of God recorded through the Holy Spirit. For having first spoken of what concerned the creation and genesis of the world, and of the first man, and all that happened after in the order of events, he signified also the years that elapsed before the deluge.  (emphasis mine)

 

Theophilus immediately begins chapter 24 with a very literal totaling of the years of Adam and his descendants and arrives at a number fairly close to what young earth advocates propose:

 

Adam lived till he begat a son, 230 years. And his son Seth, 205 […] And his son Enoch, 165 […] And Lamech’s son was Noah, of whom we have spoken above, who begat Shem when 500 years old. During Noah’s life, in his 600th year, the flood came. The total number of years, therefore, till the flood, was 2242.  (emphasis mine)

 

Theophilus has done nothing extraordinary here.  He has merely added up the lifetimes from Adam until Noah and arrived at a number of years of 2242; that is Adam was created 2242 years before the flood (an event which he considered literal and real.).  He then continues:

 

And immediately after the flood, Shem, who was 100 years old, begat Arphaxad. […] And his son Eber, when 134. And from him the Hebrews name their race […] And his son Nahor, when 75. And his son Terah, when 70. And his son Abraham, our patriarch, begat Isaac when he was 100 years old. Until Abraham, therefore, there are 3278 years.  (emphasis mine)

 

Thus from the Creation (including Adam) to Abraham, according to Theophilus, there were 3278 years.  Therefore if we add up Theophilus’ calculations until the present we get: Adam to Abraham 3278 years (Abraham lived somewhere about 2000 B.C.) plus 2000 years approximately from Abraham until Christ and then another 2000 from Christ until the present to equal 7278 years from the beginning until now.  Where is the belief in long, indefinite ages in the distant past that Theophilus was supposed to believe in?  Theophilus reiterates his point (and I submit here, at the risk of being redundant, merely to stress that this writer is not being taken out of context, nor am I leaving out important elements of his treatise) because he fully desired to prove as clearly as possible that the world was only thousands of years old:

 

And from the foundation of the world the whole time is thus traced, so far as its main epochs are concerned. From the creation of the world to the deluge were 2242 years. And from the deluge to the time when Abraham our forefather begat a son, 1036 years. And from Isaac, Abraham’s son, to the time when the people dwelt with Moses in the desert, 660 years. And from the death of Moses and the rule of Joshua the son of Nun, to the death of the patriarch David, 498 years. And from the death of David and the reign of Solomon to the sojourning of the people in the land of Babylon, 518 years 6 months 10 days. And from the government of Cyrus to the death of the Emperor Aurelius Verus, 744 years. All the years from the creation of the world amount to a total of 5698 years, and the odd months and days.  (Book 3, Chapter 28, emphasis mine)

 

To Theophilus, The Earth Is Young

For fear that his reader might get lost in all of these numbers and hence forget the reason for their listing, he plainly states that he is writing to show as nonsense the positions of the writers that suggest that the world is extremely old:

 

For my purpose is not to furnish mere matter of much talk, but to throw light upon the number of years from the foundation of the world, and to condemn the empty labour and trifling of these authors, because there have neither been twenty thousand times ten thousand years [200,000,000] from the flood to the present time, as Plato said, affirming that there had been so many years; nor yet 15 times 10,375 years [155,625], as we have already mentioned Apollonius the Egyptian gave out; nor is the world uncreated, nor is there a spontaneous production of all things [abiogensis], as Pythagoras and the rest dreamed; but, being indeed created, it is also governed by the providence of God, who made all things; and the whole course of time and the years are made plain to those who wish to obey the truth. (Book 3, Chapter 26, emphasis mine)

 

For Theophilus, believing that the world is two hundred million years old is complete nonsense invented by those who are not seeking the truth.  He is humble enough to concede that his calculations might be off by a little bit.

 

For if even a chronological error has been committed by us, of, e.g., 50 or 100, or even 200 years, yet 121 not of thousands and tens of thousands, as Plato and Apollonius and other mendacious authors have hitherto written”(Chapter 29).

 

He is not dogmatic about his calculation being the only correct number.  However, he is suggesting that to speculate that the earth is over one hundred thousand years old as Plato suggests or is two hundred million years is complete nonsense.  Theophilus wrote to “condemn the empty labor and trifling of these authors.”  While his opinion doesn’t prove that Genesis teaches a young earth, it does prove that a young earth was considered orthodox and the only acceptable, Biblical perspective.  In light of all the other ancient commentators hereto examined, we are gaining a picture that to believe in an old earth of hundreds of thousands, or millions, let alone billions of years would have been considered extremely aberrant and outrageous.

 

Clement of Alexandria

Clement of Alexandria, who lived from 153 to 217 A.D., is considered one of the most influential of the early Church Fathers.  He was a prolific writer who so eloquently articulated many matters of faith in his generation.  He wrote briefly but succinctly concerning the time frame of the creation:

 

For the creation of the world was concluded in six days. For the motion of the sun from solstice to solstice is completed in six months – in the course of which, at one time the leaves fall, and at another plants bud and seeds come to maturity. And they say that the embryo is perfected exactly in the sixth month, that is, in one hundred and eighty days in addition to the two and a half, as Polybus the physician relates in his book On the Eighth Month, and Aristotle the philosopher in his book On Nature. Hence the Pythagoreans, as I think, reckon six the perfect number, from the creation of the world (The Stromata Book 6, Chapter 16)

 

We know that he believed in a literal six days by the examples that he gives (e.g. the motion of the sun, the time the leaves fall, the budding of plants, and the time of perfecting of an embryo at six months).  From the fact that his examples, which all have to do with a unit of six, are nonetheless real and finite units of time, we can conclude that his understanding of the first days of time were no different.

 

Hippolytus

Hippolytus was a bishop of Rome who lived from 170 to 236 A.D. and was a student of Irenaeus.  In his book, The Refutation of All Heresies (book 4, chapter 48), he says, “For in six days the world was made, and (the Creator) rested on the seventh.”  What does he mean by six days, though?  Could it be that he is referring to six ages – ages in which millions and billions of years might have elapsed?  How can we know precisely what he meant by six days?

 

Fortunately, Hippolytus continues in a very direct and exact manner.  He would not have his ancient audience, or us for that matter, be in the dark regarding what he firmly believed the Scriptures to be teaching:

 

But that we may not leave our subject at this point undemonstrated, we are obliged to discuss the matter of the times, of which a man should not speak hastily, because they are a light to him. For as the times are noted from the foundation of the world, and reckoned from Adam, they set clearly before us the matter with which our inquiry deals. For the first appearance of our Lord in the flesh took place in Bethlehem, under Augustus, in the year 5500; and He suffered in the thirty-third year. And 6,000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day “on which God rested from all His works.” (The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus, Part 1.3.4)

 

Here he unambiguously declares the earth to be young.  According to his calculations, Jesus came in the flesh 5500 years after the foundation of the world.  He then states that the entirety of human history would last only six thousand years, a theme that we have seen several times earlier in our study of the other ancient commentators.[ii]  There exists no doubt in the mind of Hippolytus that God created all that there is a mere 5500 years before Jesus and that the entire span of history would last no longer than six thousand years.

 

Origen and Methodius

 

At this point we need to consider Origen and Methodius, both of whom were on Hugh Ross’s list of Church Fathers who supposedly believed in non-literal days of creation and hence an old earth.  We need to consider them in tandem since they are better understood together rather than separately regarding creation.  Origen lived in Alexandria from 185 to 254 A.D.  He was a follower of Jesus Christ, who, unfortunately, began interpreting the Scriptures in a manner that was considered heretical by the Christian community of his day and for centuries after.

 

Origen’s Disturbing Doctrines

Of all the Church Fathers that we have examined so far, Origen is the only one that truly did reject the literal interpretation of the text of Genesis in favor of an allegorical approach in order to resolve some of the seeming difficulties of the text.  While Origen’s love for God is not in question, his method of interpretation is.  For in caring more about the hidden meaning of the text than the literal and plain meaning, mixed with the NeoPlatonistic thinking of Alexandria, Origen wrote some most disturbing things concerning doctrines which are essential to orthodox Christianity, and if one merely follows the plain meaning of Scripture, cannot be missed.  Though Origen was perhaps the first to systematize a doctrine of the Trinity, his conclusions are not derived from the plain reading of Scripture, but from mixing Greek philosophy, allegory and Scripture together.  Below is an excerpt from Origen on the Trinity:

 

The God and Father, who holds the universe together, is superior to every being that exists, for he imparts to each one from his own existence that which each one is; the Son, being less than the Father, is superior to rational creatures alone (for he is second to the Father); the Holy Spirit is still less, and dwells within the saints alone. So that in this way the power of the Father is greater than that of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and that of the Son is more than that of the Holy Spirit, and in turn the power of the Holy Spirit exceeds that of every other holy being. (Moore 2006)

 

Origen obviously holds to a completely unorthodox position of the relation of the three persons of the Trinity to such an extent that it sounds much like the modern day cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses who hold that Jesus is the first of all of God’s creations but is not equal to God.  Obviously someone holding to such a position is unstable in their interpretation of the Bible and should not be looked to for guidance on interpreting the creation account of Genesis.  We might be tempted to give Origen the benefit of the doubt concerning his heretical view of the Trinity.  However, it is not only this issue but many others that call into question his teachings.

 

Another example which is nowhere to be found in the pages of Scripture, but purely from his own imagination is the creation of souls.  This teaching held that not only were there many beings created prior to the act of creation which originally fell away from their creator, but that the soul of Christ was among that number.

 

Where do we see this idea even remotely intimated in Scripture?  Obviously, the answer is absolutely nowhere!  Isn’t the plain teaching of Scripture easy for all to see?  Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) and the Jews obviously understood what He was saying since they wanted to stone Him!  In Revelation 1:17 Jesus said that He is the first and the last – a term that is used only for God and stands in direct contradiction to Origen’s teaching.

 

Methodius Opposed to Origen’s Teaching

We now turn our attention to Methodius who was born shortly after Origen and became bishop over Olympus and Patara in Lycia and then later died as a martyr around 312  A.D. in Greece.  He was chiefly known as an ardent opponent of the teachings of Origen and devoted numerous pages to refuting his heretical teachings.  In a fragment of his writings[iii], he says concerning Origen, whom he then quotes:

 

Origen, after having fabled many things concerning the eternity of the universe, adds this also:

 

Nor yet from Adam, as some say, did man, previously not existing, first take his existence and come into the world. Nor again did the world begin to be made six days before the creation of Adam. But if any one should prefer to differ in these points, let him first say, whether a period of time be not easily reckoned from the creation of the world, according to the Book of Moses, to those who so receive it, the voice of prophecy here proclaiming: “Thou art God from everlasting, and world without end […] For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday: seeing that is past as a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:2, Psalm 90:4) For when a thousand years are reckoned as one day in the sight of God, and from the creation of the world to His rest is six days, so also to our time, six days are defined, as those say who are clever arithmeticians. Therefore, they say that an age of six thousand years extends from Adam to our time. For they say that the judgment will come on the seventh day, that is in the seventh thousand years. Therefore, all the days from our time to that which was in the beginning, in which God created the heaven and the earth, are computed to be thirteen days; before which God, because he had as yet created nothing according to their folly, is stripped of His name of Father and Almighty. But if there are thirteen days in the sight of God from the creation of the world, how can Wisdom say, in the Book of the Son of Sirach: “Who can number the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of eternity?” (Ecclus. 1:2)

 

This is what Origen says seriously, and mark how he trifles.  (Methodius Extracts from the Work on Things Created, emphasis mine)

 

The last line of the above quote contains the final remarks of Methodius.  Notice that where Origen denied the literal creation in six days, Methodius just dismisses his words as “trifles”.  Thus, we can truly admit that there was at least one who thought that the creation of the heavens and earth exceeded six literal days.  However, the idea is considered to be foolish and is rejected out of hand and Origen is the only known exception to the rule.  It must also be kept in mind that Origen’s denial of such teachings of the creation was a result of his allegorical and NeoPlatonistic method of interpreting the Scriptures – the same method that led him to teach that the Holy Spirit is inferior in essence to the Son and the Son is inferior in essence to the Father.  He thought, in fact, both the Son and the Holy Spirit were created beings.  This same method also led him to teach the preexistence of souls and the soul of Christ – a doctrine that resounds with the teachings of the Mormon cult started by Joseph Smith.

 

Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries

In 312 A.D. Constantine the Great conquered the city of Rome, the center of the oppressive government which for nearly three centuries had afflicted Christians with all manners of torture and martyrdom.

 

A vision had assured him that he should conquer in the sign of the Christ, and his warriors carried Christ’s monogram on their shields, though the majority of them were pagans… Of his gratitude to the God of the Christians the victor immediately gave convincing proof; the Christian worship was henceforth tolerated throughout the empire (Edict of Milan, early in 313). (Catholic Encyclopedia 2006 emphasis mine)

 

Constantine’s victory marked the beginning of a new age for the church where almost overnight the belief in Jesus as Lord went from being threatened with a miserable death to being accepted as the official state religion.

 

Victorinus

Victorinus, a church father who flourished around 270 A.D. and was martyred around 303 A.D., wrote many works, most having been lost, unfortunately.  Nevertheless, one that was preserved titled “On The Creation Of The World” contains some candid reflections upon what he understood those six days to mean.

To me, as I meditate and consider in my mind concerning the creation of this world in which we are kept enclosed, even such is the rapidity of that creation; as is contained in the book of Moses, which he wrote about its creation, and which is called Genesis. God produced that entire mass for the adornment of His majesty in six days; on the seventh to which He consecrated it […] In the beginning God made the light, and divided it in the exact measure of twelve hours by day and by night, for this reason […] (Victorinus, emphasis mine)

Note that Victorinus specifically states that God created in a matter of six days and rested on the seventh.  He then further defines for us what he means by a day by saying that God divided the day and the night into twelve-hour segments and hence a twenty-four hour day.  Could we ask for a more specific explanation from an ancient source as to what they understood a day to be?

 

Basil the Great

Victorinus is hardly alone in his understanding of the creation days consisting of 24 hours.  Basil “The Great” (ca. 330 to 379 A.D.) corroborates Victorinus’ teaching one hundred years later with his statement:

 

’And there was evening and morning, one day.’ Why did he say ‘one’ and not ‘first’?  He said ‘one’ because he was defining

the measure of day and night […] since twenty-four hours fill up the interval of one day (The Six Days Work 1:1-2, emphasis mine)

 

Lactantius

Lactantius (260 to 330 AD), who suffered under the last of the persecutions of Rome, in his latter years had the unique fortune of being the tutor of Constantine’s son Crispus.  Working in such close proximity to the emperor, he was given the opportunity to become “the instrument of Providence in bearing the testimony of Jesus, ‘even before kings.’” (Fathers Volume 7 Introduction Lactantius) Lactantius thus becomes an important voice concerning our question of how the Church Fathers interpreted Genesis.  His perspective is especially noteworthy since he had tasted the bitterness of suffering for Christ and then later witnessed introduction of Christianity as the official state religion, which ultimately led to his working in the home of the emperor himself.  We can surmise, therefore, that he would have desired to be bold in his declaration of Christ and to teach the Scriptures as faithfully as possible.

 

In his work The Divine Institutes, which he entitled, “Of the First and Last Times of the World,” he states that God made the heavens and earth in six days.  He also straightforwardly states:

 

Plato and many others of the philosophers, since they were ignorant of the origin of all things, and of that primal period at which the world was made, said that many thousands of ages had passed since this beautiful arrangement of the world was completed; foolishly saythat they possess comprised in their memorials four hundred and seventy thousand years; in which matter […] they believed that they were at liberty to speak falsely. But we, whom the Holy Scriptures instruct to the knowledge of the truth, know the beginning and the end of the world […] Therefore let the philosophers, who enumerate thousands of ages from the beginning of the world, know that the six thousandth year is not yet completed, and that when this number is completed the consummation must take place, and the condition of human affairs be remodeled for the better, the proof of which must first be related, that the matter itself may be plain. God completed the world and this admirable work of nature in the space of six days, as is contained in the secrets of Holy Scripture, and consecrated the seventh day, on which He had rested from His works.  (The Divine Institutes, Chapter 16, emphasis mine)

 

Lactantius states this as clearly and plainly as one could possibly expect.  He unambiguously declares that it is the philosophers who are both ignorant and foolish in declaring that the origin of all things took place over hundreds of thousands of years earlier.  Lactantius even denounces an exact amount of 475,000 years and if it was considered foolish to think that the world was so old in his day, why should we be persuaded that the earth is 4.56 billion years old and the universe is about 14 billion years old?  We have seen again and again that the ancient interpreters believed that Scripture taught a young earth.

 

Augustine

Augustine

Of all the Church Fathers (besides Origen), the person we would expect to hold to a view of an old earth and a creation week that took place over vast ages, would be Augustine.  He lived from 354 to 430 A.D. and was the bishop of Hippo in North Africa.  He is considered to be the foremost theologian of the Catholic Church and is also held in high esteem by many Protestants.  A typical method of interpretation for him was allegorical and typological.  He often sought a deeper and spiritual truth underlying a given text.  Thus, to discover that he did not believe that the creation week happened over long periods of time, as Dr. Ross has stated, is surprising.  Ironically, Augustine held to a view that God created everything in an instant rather than in six literal days.  However, as to when this occurred, he, like so many Church Fathers before him, believed the creation to have occurred less than six thousand years before his own time.

 

Creation Was Less than Six Thousand Years Ago

In his monumental work, City of God book 12, chapter 10, Augustine lucidly comments on certain people that just don’t have their facts straight concerning the age of the earth:

 

They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed. (City of God book 12, chapter 10 emphasis mine)

 

He then reiterates this in chapter 12.

 

As to those who are always asking why man was not created during these countless ages of the infinitely extended past, and came into being so lately that, according to Scripture, less than 6000 years have elapsed since He began to be, I would reply to them regarding the creation of man, just as I replied regarding the origin of the world to those who will not believe that it is not eternal, but had a beginning, which even Plato himself most plainly declares […] If it offends them that the time that has elapsed since the creation of man is so short, and his years so few according to our authorities […] (City of God book 12, chapter 12 emphasis mine)

 

Even Augustine, the one person in addition to Origen that we might have expected to see an earth of billions of years or hundreds of thousands at the very least, held to a young earth.  One, therefore, cannot argue that he was advocating any type of day-age theory.  Nor did he envision any gap between the verses 1, 2 or 3.  However, we may not conclude that he believed in a literal six-day creation either.

 

Augustine’s “Literal” Interpretation

Augustine’s denial of six actual days is trumpeted by Davis Young, of the geology department of Calvin College Grand Rapids, MI, who notes that Augustine’s “literal” interpretation of Genesis does not resemble the modern literal six days creation week or young earth positions.

He [Augustine] later came to reject that [allegorical] method and in this more mature work, written in his late fifties just before The City of God, he is concerned ‘to discuss Sacred Scriptures according to the plain meaning of the historical facts, not according to future events which they foreshadow’. Given his strong commitment to literal interpretation, it is fascinating to recognize that the outcome bears absolutely no resemblance to modern literal interpretations. For example, he concludes that in Genesis I the terms “light,” “day,” and “morning” bear a spiritual, rather than physical, meaning. Yet for Augustine, spiritual light is just as literal as physical light, and the creation of spiritual light is just as much a historical event or fact as the creation of physical light. What is literal for one person may not be literal for others. (Young 1988 emphasis mine)

According to Young, Augustine stresses that his new work is literal and not metaphorical or allegorical.  He then goes on to state that since Augustine was such a great theologian we ought to listen to his testimony.  Young writes,

From his general approach to this text, it would appear that Augustine, the great theologian, a man saturated in Holy Scripture, actually encourages the church not to cling dogmatically to specific renderings of the text but to rethink its interpretations in the light of genuine extra-biblical knowledge. Perhaps we should pay him serious attention. Augustine is obviously interested in the science of his own day and interacts with it. He takes extra-biblical knowledge seriously. (Young 1988 emphasis mine)

Notice that Young urges us to follow Augustine’s example to shift our interpretation of Genesis “in the light of genuine extra-biblical knowledge.”  It would seem that Young is suggesting that we are to allow modern humanistic thought to act as a standard by which we interpret Scripture.  Consider that he says, “Augustine shows respect for scientific activity, and does not want to put Scripture in a situation of conflict with it”  (Young 1988).  Certainly Young is correct that none of us ought to disregard scientific activity nor pit the Bible against science.  However, when the scientific activity of which he speaks, contradicts the historical-grammatical reading of the Bible, then there will be conflict.

 

Spontaneous Generation a Fact for Augustine

It would seem that Young is so eager to demonstrate that we should emulate Augustine by not holding to the belief that God created the heavens and earth in six (real, literal) days that he advocates believing man’s shifting thoughts over the Bible.  Consider how his next statement and following example encourage believing in (faulty and secular) science rather than merely trusting the Bible, even when it disagrees with man’s findings.

 

For example, it is clear that he [Augustine] accepts spontaneous generation of organisms and the four elements of Greek thought. He expends considerable effort in relating Genesis I to the four elements and to the Greek theory of natural places: “One must surely not think that in this passage of Holy Scripture there has been an omission of any one of the four elements that are generally supposed to make up the world just because there seems to be no mention of air in the account of sky, water, and earth.”  (Young 1988)

 

Are we therefore to allow mainstream thought about the origins of the universe, which, as we have seen, is built on a paradigm that all matter and all life arose by chance, merely because Augustine held a belief that was sympathetic to the science of his day?  Exactly what point Young wished to make regarding Augustine’s belief in spontaneous generation is unclear.  There exist two possibilities as I see it: either Young believes that that confirms the teaching of evolution and its teaching of abiogenesis or that just as Augustine permitted current thought to influence his interpretation of Scripture, so too should we.  In either case, our response is a resounding “no” since neither could be further from what our response should be.

 

If Young meant to demonstrate that Augustine was in fact, rather progressive for his day to believe in spontaneous generation, then it only serves to prove why Scripture alone should be our standard.  Wikipedia.com rightly describes the history of Spontaneous Generation:

Classical notions of abiogenesis, now more precisely known as spontaneous generation, held that complex, living organisms are generated by decaying organic substances, e.g. that mice spontaneously appear in stored grain or maggots spontaneously appear in meat.

Yet it was not until 1862 that Louis Pasteur performed a series of careful experiments which conclusively proved that a truly sterile medium would remain sterile.

Three years earlier, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (published in 1859), had presented an argument that modern organisms had evolved, over immense periods of time, from simpler ancestral forms, that species changed over time. Darwin himself declined to speculate on some implications of his theory – that at some point there may have existed an un-organism with no prior ancestor and that such an organism may have come into existence, formed from non-living molecules.

Pasteur had demonstrated that Spontaneous Generation was wrong, and he also seemed to have demonstrated that any concept involving the generation of living matter from non-living matter was also wrong.  (Wikipedia.com: Abiogenesis emphasis mine)

Spontaneous generation is a theory that has been scientifically proven to be false and worthless.  Thus to assert that it was in any way good that Augustine paid heed to the scientific activity of his day rather than merely believe the, albeit unpopular, teaching of the Bible, is not only fallacious but inexcusable.  It is unfortunate that Augustine held to such a position that has now without a doubt been proven bogus and incorrect.  Augustine’s endorsement of “the four elements” does not need to even be mentioned.

 

I would argue that rather than trying to absorb Augustine’s views, we hold fast to the easy teaching of Scripture and where Augustine or anyone for that matter agrees with it, then we embrace their views and when they differ we part ways.  Augustine was wrong about interpreting Scripture in light of what Young described as “genuine extra-biblical knowledge”.  Spontaneous generation and only four elements were the prevailing thought back then.  Using them to interpret the Bible led to false conclusions in his day and interpreting the Bible through the lens of evolutionary thought today will lead to faulty conclusions about God and the world in our day.

 

Augustine certainly made important contributions to the Church and those should not be discounted.  However, the real and lasting contributions were those that were firmly based on Scripture and not on the changing science of men.  Thus, we ought to learn from Augustine as Young suggested; we should learn from his mistake of trying to appeal to current scientific thought where it disagrees with the Bible.  Sooner or later man’s science will change but the Bible remains.

 

The Fathers Believed in a Young Earth

Having looked at the classic ancient interpreters of the Bible, both Jewish and Christian, we can now ask ourselves what the ancient perspective was.  Did they actually believe in an old earth as some purport or did they hold to a literal point of view?  As we have seen, in every instance (except for Origen and partly Augustine), both Jewish and Christian perspectives held that the heavens and the earth were created in six, literal days and many of the commentators defined what a day is by stating that it meant 24 hours.  Not one of them (except Origen) even remotely intimated that those six days of creation should be understood as long ages or that day meant anything other than a period of 24 hours.  Time and again, they believed that God made all that is in a span of six, 24-hour days and they all thought that it occurred less than 6000 years before their own lives.  Even Augustine wrote that the creation had occurred less than 6000 years before his own day.  The real exception to the overwhelming and prevailing belief that God created in a span of six days less than 6000 years earlier was Origen and as we saw, so many of his teachings were considered heretical that his opinion on the creation of the world bears little weight.  This view of a literal, six-day creation would remain as the only acceptable belief until the enlightenment and the advent of the geology of Charles Lyell and Darwin’s  evolutionary hypothesis.

Thomas Aquinas of the 13th century, considered to be one of the foremost theologians of the Catholic Church, stated: “’God called the light day’ (since the word ‘day’ is also used to denote a space of twenty-four hours). Other instances of a similar use occur, as pointed out by Rabbi Moses.”  (Thomas  Aquinas, The Summa Theologica)

Martin Luther, the great protestant reformer of the 16th century, believed in a young earth as well.

We know from Moses that the world was not in existence before 6,000 years ago […] He [Moses] calls ‘a spade a spade,’

Luther

_i.e., he employs the terms ‘day’ and ‘evening’ without allegory, just as we customarily do […] we assert that Moses spoke in the literal sense, not allegorically or figuratively, i.e., that the world, with all its creatures, was created within six days, as the words read. If we do not comprehend the reason for this, let us remain pupils and leave the job of teacher to the Holy Spirit.  (Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis)

This view is shared by John Calvin, who also lived in the 16th century, that the earth is less than 6000 years old, which implies that the days of creation were literal six days of 24-hours.  In speaking of those that reject some of his teachings, he strongly declares:

A rebellious spirit will display itself no less insolently when it hears that there are three persons in the divine essence, than when it hears that God when he created man foresaw every thing that was to happen to him. Nor will they abstain from their jeers when told that little more than five thousand years have elapsed since the creation of the world. (John Calvin)

Thus what shall we conclude?  Is it safe to venture that the early church believed that God created the universe in six, literal days roughly six thousand years prior to their time?  There exists no historical reason to believe in any other conclusion.  We have also seen that there exists no philological, semantic or syntactical reason in the Bible.  The Bible never suggests that the Genesis days should be considered longer.  The only reason that exists to believe that those days were long periods of time is because one has accepted as established fact and truth the evolutionary model, and hence, feels the need to fit those billions of years into the Bible.  The amazing irony, however, is that evolution was devised to try to explain how we got here without the aid of a creator.

 


[i] All of the early Church Fathers are cited from The Early Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volumes 1 – 9 (1867), Edinburgh, using the electronic version of The Word Bible Software unless otherwise stated.

[ii] The belief of the ancient commentators that the entirety of human history would last 6000 years is not specifically stated in the Bible.  Nevertheless, the belief clearly shows that they believed the earth to be young and not millions or billions of years old.

 [iii] This was actually recorded by another ancient writer, Photius.

 

Creation Days According to Ancient Jewish Commentators

Accordingly Moses says, That in just six days the world, and all that is therein, was made.  (Josephus Antiquities Book 1, Chapter 1)

 

What the ancient Bible commentators understood those six days to mean when they opened up to Genesis 1 and 2?  Did they see extremely long indefinite periods of time?  Or did they see regular, twenty-four-hour days?  Would they come to the same conclusion that we have reached?  Or would they be inclined to look for a deeper, hidden meaning in the text?  Even if it can be demonstrated that all or nearly all of the ancient interpreters thought that the Bible and Genesis 1 in particular should be interpreted as six literal days, that does not prove that that is in fact the reality of the Bible.  However, if the overwhelming majority understood the creation account to be referring to a week of six literal days, then it would greatly support our previous conclusion and that the normal method of interpretation or hermeneutic of Scripture was to take it at face value.

 

We will see that when we examine the ancient Jewish and Christian commentators on what they believed concerning the beginning of the world, they almost always talk about the end of it as well.  They claim that the age of the earth is less than six thousand years old.  This becomes an important control for us in that by claiming that the earth was created less than six thousand years previous to their day, they are stating their belief in a young earth, and hence, the six, literal 24-hour days of creation.

 

The Use of Ancient Interpreters

The point of view of ancient interpreters and commentators is very relevant to us because we know that they were in no way influenced by the teachings of Darwinian evolution, which requires billions of years to occur.  The ancient perspective has already been exploited by those seeking to establish that Scripture actually teaches that the earth and the universe are incredibly old.  Perhaps the most prominent of the Progressive Creation perspective is Dr. Hugh Ross.  While we do not wish to question his sincerity nor his belief in the God of the Bible, his interpretation of these ancient commentators is in need of serious review.  Ross states in his book The Fingerprint of God:

Many of the early Church Fathers and other biblical scholars interpret the creation days of Genesis 1 as long periods of time. The list includes the Jewish historian Josephus (1st century); Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, apologist and martyr (2nd century); Origen, who rebutted heathen attacks on Christian doctrine (3rd century); Basil (4th century); Augustine (5th century); and, later, Aquinas (13th century), to name a few. The significance of this list lies not only in the prominence of these individuals as biblical scholars, defenders of the faith, and pillars of the early church (except Josephus), but also in that their scriptural views cannot be said to have been shaped to accommodate secular opinion. Astronomical, paleontological, and geological evidences for the antiquity of the universe, of the earth, and of life did not come forth until the nineteenth century.  (Ross 1991: 141)

Ross’s list of ancient biblical scholars is at first impressive.  But when we begin to study his sources in depth, we find that, at the very least, Ross has not been diligent in his investigation.  Reality is simply not as he states it.  The claim that many of these ancient interpreters believed the creation days to be longer than 24 hours is later parroted by an advocate of Progressive Creation who states:

Dr. Hugh Ross documents in detail what first century Jewish scholars and the early Christian Church Fathers said regarding their interpretation of creation chronology (see Chapter 2, pages 16-24). Many early Church Fathers expressed no opinion on the subject of creation days, since it is a peripheral issue in Christianity. However, Jewish scholars who discussed creation chronology include Philo and Josephus, while Christian fathers include Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus (through writings of Ambrose), Clement, Origen, Lactantius, Victorinus, Methodius, Augustine, Eusebius, Basil, and Ambrose. Among this group, all but one believed that the creation days were longer than 24 hours. The evidence presented in Creation and Time is both overwhelming and well documented (all references are given). (Deem 2006a)

Again, we are not questioning whether Dr. Ross and others of the Progressive Creation position are sincere and hold the God of the Bible in high esteem.  It is their scholarship that is in question.  The truth is that many, if not almost all, of the early Church Fathers (ante-Nicene) definitively thought that the universe was made in six, literal days.  Additionally, most ancient Jewish commentators shared the same point of view – namely, that the heavens and earth were created in six, literal days.  Let’s examine the evidence to see what those interpreters thought about the time frame of creation.  Did they hold to a literal, straightforward, six-day creation as we claim that the Bible teaches?  Or did they believe that allegorizing the text was the proper method of interpretation?

Targumim

A very important source to consider when addressing the issue of how ancient interpreters understood the Bible are the Targumim.  Targumim (Targum is singular) are the Aramaic translations of the Old Testament Scriptures.  They were for the most part written both in and outside of Israel a few centuries after the time of Jesus.  They were written either for those Jews who had lost Hebrew as their mother tongue because of living outside of Israel for so long or for those living in Israel after the time of the Second Jewish Revolt (135 AD) when Hebrew truly started to die out.[i]  Those Jews were no longer comfortable reading the Scriptures solely in Hebrew, but needed the help of a translation as they read along in the original Hebrew.  However, the Targumim were much more than merely word for word translations.  They were running commentaries on the Scriptures filled with typical Jewish interpretations.  The Hebrew text of the Bible was always considered sacred by the Jews, and therefore, it was to be approached with great care.  The text was never to be touched.  Because the Targumim were in Aramaic and not Hebrew, there was no risk that the commentaries might be mistaken for the actual words of the Bible itself.

 

Targum Onkelos

Targum Onkelos, translates Genesis 1:1 very literally: “In the first times the Lord created the heavens and the earth.  And the earth was waste and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the abyss.”  In fact, the entire chapter of Targum Onkelos of Genesis 1 shows no indication whatsoever that the translator/commentator was persuaded that the six days of Genesis were to be taken in any way but literally.  Conversely, the translator actually places a comment in chapter 3 regarding the curse put on the serpent and the promised savior.

 

And I will put enmity between thee and between the woman, and between thy son and her son.  He will remember thee, what thou didst to him (at) from the beginning, and thou shalt be observant unto him at the end. (Emphasis mine)

 

Notice that here the targumist defines when the time of this occurred – “from the beginning.”  Although this doesn’t prove that the six days in Genesis were truly literal, it does demonstrate that an ancient interpreter understood them as being literal since the time of the fall happened in the beginning, not some millions or billions of years after the initial act of creation.

 

Targumim Jonathan

Targum Jonathan[ii] in translating Genesis 2:3 (which is really the end of chapter 1 and is an unfortunate and mistaken chapter break) adds a reason which goes beyond the original text by adding the words “the days of the week.”

 

And the creatures of the heavens and earth, and all the hosts of them, were completed. And the Lord had finished by the Seventh Day the work which He had wrought, […] And the Lord blessed the Seventh Day more than all the days of the week, and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His works which the Lord had created and had willed to make. (Emphasis mine)

 

The words “the days of the week” demonstrate that the Targumist also understood the first through sixth days in Genesis 1 to be “the days of the week” and the seventh to be the final day of that week.  What did he have in mind when he added that comment that is not found in the Hebrew Scriptures?  Did his belief that the seventh was blessed more than all the other days of the week actually mean that the last age or era of time was better than the rest?  Or did he think that days of the week meant Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc. (or as it would be in Hebrew First Day, Second Day, Third Day etc.)?  If we consider what God declared to Moses via the Targumim as we did in the Hebrew Bible, then the conclusion of six, literal days becomes very difficult to circumvent.

 

For in six days the Lord created the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and whatever is therein, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Lord hath blessed the day of Shabbatha and sanctified it. (Targum Jonathan, Exodus 20:11)

This is again reiterated in the same Targum in Exodus 31:15 and 17:

 

Six days ye shall do work; but the seventh day is Sabbath, the holy Sabbath before the Lord […] For in six days the Lord created and perfected the heavens and the earth; and in the seventh day He rested and refreshed.  (Emphasis mine)

 

The Targum of Onkelos confirms again that the commonly accepted time frame for the creation of the heavens and the earth was but a mere six, literal days.  There is no intimation that those days somehow really meant long, indefinite ages of perhaps billions of years.

 

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the day of Shabbatha, and sanctified it. (Targum Onkelos, Exodus 20:11 emphasis mine)

Six days shalt thou do work, and the seventh day is Sabbath, the Holy Sabbath before the Lord […] for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth; and in the seventh day rested and was refreshed.  (Targum Onkelos Exodus 31: 15, 17 emphasis mine)

 

These passages are some of the clearest passages in the Bible regarding the time God took to create everything and yet there isn’t even a minor hint that those time frames mean anything other than what we can take at face value.  Although the Targumim are not listed among the ancient Jewish writers cited by Dr. Ross and others, they are certainly an important source, and one of the primary sources when wanting to know about common Jewish thought just before and after the time of Christ.

Josephus

Josephus

An indispensable voice of Jewish history and thought in first century Israel is that of Josephus, who appears on the list of supposed ancient supporters of an old earth.  Josephus is considered the most important source historians have regarding the events of the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  Josephus single-handedly wrote the history of the debacle of the Jewish state at the hands of their Roman enemies.  Born in 37 A.D., Josephus was raised a Jew in Israel and fought alongside his Jewish countrymen before being taken a hostage by the Romans, who granted him the opportunity to write not only the story of the Wars of the Jews, but also later a work entitled The Antiquities of the Jews.  Josephus’ mother tongue was Hebrew.  His expertise in Hebrew and the fact that he was also well acquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures were essential in writing Antiquities of the Jews.  While not everything that Josephus wrote is considered to always be accurate or without bias, recent discoveries in the past 100 years have proven that Josephus’s account of Jewish history was extremely accurate.[iii]

 

From The Creation

Josephus opens his monumental work Antiquities of the Jews with a rather significant chapter title: “Containing The Interval Of Three Thousand Eight Hundred And Thirty-Three Years.  From the Creation to the Death of Isaac.”  Just from the chapter title one already begins to see that Josephus understood the time from the creation until the death of Isaac as a relatively short period – 3833 years.  Adding that to the time from Isaac (approximately 1950 B.C.) to the time of Josephus (about 80 AD) we get a number of 5863 years – hardly millions of years.  There is absolutely no suggestion from him that “the creation” happened indefinite ages ago; rather it was but a relatively short time ago.  It is interesting that Josephus’ date corresponds very closely with that of young earth creationists’ calculations based on the genealogies of the Bible.  The point is that Josephus in no way thought that the days of creation were long periods of millions or billions of years.  He then begins with the same words as found directly in the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” He goes on:

 

God commanded that there should be light: and when that was made, he considered the whole mass, and separated the light and the darkness; and the name he gave to one was Night, and the other he called Day: and he named the beginning of light, and the time of rest, The Evening and The Morning, and this was indeed the first day. But Moses said it was one day Accordingly Moses says, That in just six days the world, and all that is therein, was made. And that the seventh day was a rest, and a release from the labor of such operations; whence it is that we celebrate a rest from our labors on that day, and call it the Sabbath, which word denotes rest in the Hebrew tongue.  (Josephus Antiquities Book 1, Chapter 1, emphasis mine)

 

Notice that Josephus is careful to note that there was evening and there was morning, which he says was the first day, but then he adds “But Moses said it was one day”. By doing this, he not only demonstrates his understanding of Hebrew, but also points out that the Hebrew shows that all of these events happened in one day.  He also states his opinion since it is not directly in the text of Genesis 1, though, it is more than likely that he was merely parroting the commonly accepted belief.

 

In Just Six Days

Josephus in no way thought that the days of creation were long periods of time in which the slow process of evolution happened!  He says that “in just six days the world and all that is therein” was made.  He then discusses that the origin of the Jews resting on the seventh day came from God resting on the seventh day.  Keep in mind that Josephus has to explain the history of his people to Romans who would probably have known next to nothing about the religion of one of the people in their vast empire.  The most that they might have known was that his people foolishly rebelled against them and consequently paid the price for their rebellion.  So Josephus has to explain the small details in order for them to truly appreciate the splendor of the Jewish sacred book.

 

Here too, we find that one of the most prominent ancient commentators thought nothing but of a literal, six-day creation.  The thought of a day of the creation week equaling millions or billions of years or even some super long duration just never crossed his mind.  Conversely, he clearly states that in just six days God made all that is.

 

Rabbinic interpretation

We next turn to rabbinic interpretation in hopes of discovering what they thought about the six days of creation.  Did they too interpret the days of Genesis 1 to be literal days of 24-hours like those that we have already seen or, as it has been suggested, did they allegorize those as days of incredibly long duration?  We should note that Rabbinic interpretation of the Scriptures is such that it generally seeks to find a deeper meaning to the text.  They quite often would take what would seem to us to be two rather dissimilar passages and, through a few keys words, tie them together in such a way as to teach a deeper truth.

 

For example, let’s look at tractate Sabbath 17, Chapter 7 which, as the title suggests, deals with the Sabbath and the regulations necessary to properly keep it.  The Rabbis are discussing what to do if someone who is traveling misses the Sabbath due to not knowing which day it is.

R. Huna said: One who has been traveling in a desert and does not know what day is Sabbath, must count six days from the day (on which he realizes) that he has missed the Sabbath, and observe the seventh. Hyya b. Rabh said: He must observe that very day and then continue his counting from that day. And what is the point of their differing? The former holds that one must act in accordance with the creation (which commenced six days before the Sabbath), while the latter holds that one must be guided by Adam’s creation (on the eve of Sabbath). (Emphasis mine)

The Rabbis immediately turn to the week of creation as a real week whereby they might demonstrate how one must count the days before the Sabbath.  They then look back at the creation week from the point of view that Adam was made on the eve of the Sabbath, which was the literal sixth day of time.  Thus, the days of a workweek plus the Sabbath are equal to the days of the creation week.

 

The Talmud Comments on the Mishna

The Talmud comments on the discussion in the Mishna[iv] concerning one who might ask “what was before creation?” and tries to draw out further applications and to answer any questions unresolved.

 

Lest one assume that a man can ask, What was before the creation? therefore it is written: “Since the day that God created man from the earth“; but lest one assume, a man must not ask even what was done in the six days of creation?  (Book 3 Tract Hagigah 4 chapter 2)

 

Notice that they make reference to the six days of creation and very matter-of-factly state “what was done in the six days of creation.”  The implication is that those days were real days, not long drawn out indefinite ages.

Rashi

Rashi

From another portion of the Talmud we read:

 

Four thousand two hundred and thirty-one years after the creation of the world, if any one offers thee for one single denarius a field worth a thousand denarii, do not buy it. (Avodah Zarah, fol. 9, col. 2.)

 

According to this passage the creation of the world happened 4231 years previous to the statement.  The famed medieval Jewish commentator Rashi (below) was noted to have given an explanation on the passage that helps us understand what ancient Jews believed concerning the time that elapsed from creation until their time.

 

Rashi gives this as the reason of the prohibition: For then the restoration of the Jews to their own land will take place, so that the denarius paid for a field in a foreign land would be money thrown awayFour thousand two hundred and ninety-one years after the creation of the world the wars of the dragons and the wars of Gog and Magog will cease, and the rest of the time will be the days of the Messiah; and the Holy One – blessed be He! – will not renew His world till after seven thousand years…Rabbi Jonathan said, “May the bones of those who compute the latter days (when the Messiah shall appear) be blown; for some say, ‘Because the time (of Messiah) has come and Himself has not, therefore He will never come!’ But wait thou for Him, as it is said (Hab. ii. 3), ‘Though He tarry, wait for Him.’” (Sanhedrin, fol. 97, col. 2, emphasis mine)

 

Rashi evidently separated human history, from the time of creation until the end, into seven thousand years.  Notice that Rashi understood these years as real periods of time that began in the beginning with the creation of the world.  This fact is further established by Rabbi Jonathan by noting it is not good to compute the time of the Messiah, which, according to some Jews, had already come.  For a Christian, this is a very significant statement, but to pursue it would derail us from our current discussion that key, ancient Rabbis understood the earth to be young – less than six thousand years.

 

Other Rabbis

A few other examples only serve to confirm what we have seen so far – namely, that ancient Rabbis considered the creation week to be nothing less than real days and not day-ages as is often suggested.  The Rabba commentaries (Harris, Translator 1901) on the Bible yield several important perspectives on the literalness of the six-day creation.  The first chapter of Genesis Rabba asserts “Even the new heavens and earth, spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah (65:17), were created in the six days of creation.”  Another discussion from the Talmud regarding the importance of the Hebrew month Tishri states it this way, “Rabbi Eleazer said […] On the first of Tishri Adam was created; from his existence we count our years, that is the sixth day of the creation” (Talmud Part 5, Holy Days, emphasis mine).  Exodus Rabba 23 associates the formation of Adam with the event of creation itself,

 

The song of praise that Israel offered on the Red Sea was pleasing to God as an outburst of real gratitude.  There had indeed been no such praise offered to God since creation. Adam, formed out of dust and put above all creation, omitted to praise the Creator for the dignity conferred on him.  (Exodus Rabba 23)

 

Leviticus Rabba 14 succinctly places man along with the creation, “Man is the last in creation and the first in responsibility.”  If God started making the universe some 15 billion years earlier, it would be hard to link man with creation due to the enormous time gap between them.  Midrash Esther 1 offers a similar scenario,

 

As early as the time of creation it was decreed that the following should have precedence, each in his own sphere. Adam was first of man, Cain of murderers, and Abel of the murdered.  Noah the first to escape from peril.  (Harris, Translator 1901)

 

And finally, another rabbinic source, Tanchum Bereshith unequivocally states that God created in six days,

 

As one who finishes the building of his house proclaims that day a holiday, and consecrates the building, so God, having finished creation in the six days, proclaimed the seventh day a holy day and sanctified it.  (Electronic Text, The Word Bible Software)

 

Where is the slightest hint in any of the aforementioned sources that they believed in an old earth and universe?  Where does one get the impression that the ancient Rabbis truly believed that God didn’t actually create in six, literal days but in six day-ages each lasting some billions of years?  Those day-ages are conspicuously missing.  They only show up if one’s theory depends on such interpretations.  Even Philo, the very allegorical Jewish philosopher of first century Alexandria, Egypt, thought that the days of creation as recorded in Genesis were referring to six literal days.

 

Philo

If there were someone that we should expect to back up the old-earth theory, it would be Philo.  Philo was an Alexandrian Jew who was born approximately 20 years before Jesus.  Philo knew the Hebrew Scriptures very well and was very fond of them.  However, he also was open to the ideas of Greek philosophy and tried to marry the two to accommodate both worldviews.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states concerning Philo:

Philo of Alexandria

He addressed himself to two tasks, difficult to weld into a flawless unity. On the one hand, he wrote for educated men in Greek-Roman society, attempting to explain, often to justify, his racial religion before them […] On the other hand, he had to confront his orthodox coreligionists, with their separatist traditions and their contempt for paganism in all its works. He tried to persuade them that, after all, Greek thought was not inimical to their cherished doctrines, but, on the contrary, involved similar, almost identical, principles.  (ISBE: Philo, point 3)

 

The ISBE continues by saying that Philo represented a position which tried to blend the philosophy of Hellenism with the “historical and dogmatic deductions of the Jewish Scriptures” (ISBE: Philo point 3), which resulted in rather strange interpretations.  Furthermore the ISBE states:

 

He taught that the Scriptures contain two meanings: a “lower” meaning, obvious in the literal statements of the text; and a “higher,” or hidden meaning, perceptible to the “initiate” alone. In this way he found it possible to reconcile Greek intellectualism with Jewish belief. Greek thought exhibits the “hidden” meaning; it turns out to be the elucidation of the “allegory” which runs through the Old Testament like a vein of gold. (ISBE: Philo, point 3)

 

Thus, even if we were to find an allegorical meaning associated with the creation of the world in his writings, we would understand that the allegorical side was Philo’s attempt to reconcile the historical text of the Bible with the philosophy of Greek thought.  Therefore such an allegory would not be indicative of the true meaning of the biblical text.  What we actually see Philo say regarding the creation, both from a literal and allegorical point of view, is astonishing.

 

Philo’s Paraphrase

Philo begins his treatise with the creation of the world as given by Moses.  That is to say, Philo is loosely paraphrasing the Genesis account in his own words.  This is extremely important to note since here we have a writer that is very much in favor of interpreting Scripture from an allegorical approach and yet he lets us know what he thought Moses was truly communicating before moving on to his allegorical method.

 

And he says that the world was made in six days, not because the Creator stood in need of a length of time (for it is natural that God should do everything at once, not merely by uttering a command, but by even thinking of it); but because the things created required arrangement; and number is akin to arrangement; and, of all numbers, six is, by the laws of nature, the most productive… (Philo, On The Creation – Part 1 III. 13)

 

Philo is actually saying here that the world was made in six days which was actually much more time than God required.  He says that God took his time “because the things created required arrangement.”  According to Philo, God slowed himself down not for His own sake since merely by thinking He could have made all, but so that there would be order.  The old-earth position is right in suggesting that God could have taken billions of years to create the world.  But they miss the mark when affirming that God actually did.  According to Scripture and all of the testimony we have seen up until now, God did go at an incredibly slow pace – that is if you are God!  The passing of a mere thought versus creating at a tremendously slow speed of six (24-hour) days are radically different.  Rather than confirming the old-earth position as Dr. Ross has suggested, Philo defends the belief that the biblical creation occurred in just a six-day week.

 

Philo’s Allegorical Treatise

After providing his paraphrase of Genesis 1, Philo next begins his allegorical treatise to pull out the deeper truths and thereby make the Bible more palatable to his Greco-Roman audience:

 

“And the heaven and the earth and all their world was completed.”  [Genesis 2:1] Having previously related the creation of the mind and of sense, Moses now proceeds to describe the perfection which was brought about by them both. And he says that neither the indivisible mind nor the particular sensations received perfection, but only ideas, one the idea of the mind, the other of sensation. And, speaking symbolically, he calls the mind heaven, since the natures which can only be comprehended by the intellect are in heaven. And sensation he calls earth, because it is sensation which has obtained a corporeal and some what earthy constitution. (Philo, Allegorical Interpretation, I – Part 1)

 

It is obvious that Philo is now speaking in a very allegorical fashion.  However, if we read carefully the above paragraph, we see that in his allegorizing of Genesis 1 he is rejecting altogether that Moses is referring to any type of numerical value of the creation regardless of how long that might have taken.  He is advocating, allegorically speaking, neither a literal six day creation nor a six day-age theory.  The amount of time required is absolutely inconsequential to him.  Notice below in his statement that time is not the issue.

 

“And on the sixth day God finished his work which he had made.” It would be a sign of great simplicity to think that the world was created in six days, or indeed at all in time. […] Therefore it would be correctly said that the world was not created in time, but that time had its existence in consequence of the world. For it is the motion of the heaven that has displayed the nature of time. (Philo, Allegorical Interpretation, II – Part 2 emphasis mine)

 

For Philo, six days is not what one is to understand from the Genesis account but rather, the number six and all of its amazing mathematical properties is what is to be appreciated.  His concept of time is that it is in itself a created thing.  On that point most scientists would agree, evolutionists and creationists alike, that time was created along with space and that space and time cannot be separated.[v]  Because Philo does not see time beginning until the creation of the sun, what can we conclude regarding how long the first four days were?  Obviously, if they came into being outside of time, as he suggests, then it is impossible to discuss their duration since that would be an oxymoron by definition.  Consequently, the assertion that Philo in any way held to the belief in a universe that was billions of years old, as the Progressive Creation position suggests, is simply unfounded.  Conversely, we see from Philo’s paraphrase of Genesis 1 (in which he stated that according to Moses the world was created in six, literal days) what he thinks the deeper meaning of six days actually is:

 

When, therefore, Moses says, “God completed his works on the sixth day,” we must understand that he is speaking not of a number of days, but that he takes six as a perfect number. Since it is the first number which is equal in its parts, in the half, and the third and sixth parts, and since it is produced by the multiplication of two unequal factors, two and three. (Philo Allegorical Interpretation, II  – Part 3 emphasis mine)

 

Philo and the Number Six

Philo is not arguing about how long a day was.  He was not saying that they were long indefinite ages in which God did His handiwork.  In no way is his statement grounds for proving that he, as an ancient interpreter, believed that those days were indefinite and therefore allowed for enough time for evolution to occur.  Rather he was saying that it wasn’t six days, but really just about the number six which he continues to describe as a “perfect number.”  For Philo, the argument isn’t about the days, but about the incredible features of the number of six.  Philo has not even considered how long the days were, but thought that a deeper truth to be mined from the Scriptures was the profoundness of the mathematical qualities of six as a number.

 

We may not be able to pin Philo down on exactly how long he thought the creation took.  If we simply accept at face value what he said in the beginning of his treatise, then we could just conclude that according to Moses, God took six literal days though looking at his allegory, we see a different picture.  However, it can hardly be denied that his consideration of the six days has nothing to do with time but everything to do with the number six as a mathematical entity worthy of contemplation.  Thus, we leave Philo fairly convinced that on the literal plain, he believed that Genesis 1 did indeed refer to the creation of heaven and earth in six, literal, 24-hour days and from an allegorical point of view believed the six to be included because it was a perfect number.


 [i] For a detailed explanation of the language of Israel in the first century, see Hamp (2005) Discovering the Language of Jesus Calvary Publishing, Santa Ana.

[ii] Also known as Pseudo Jonathan.

[iii] Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the sect known as the Essenes, which Josephus describes in detail in Wars of the Jews book 2, chapter 8, there was no record of it ever existing.  Josephus’ account has since been corroborated by much of the material finds at the Qumran compound near the Dead Sea as well as by the Scrolls themselves.

[iv] The Mishna deals with the Mosaic Law and applies it to every conceivable area of life.

[v] This is signified by the term “space-time continuum.” Dr. Sholar notes: “The space-time continuum however, was a mathematical assumption of Einstein leading to relativity…which has predicted outcomes of certain experiments with some degree of accuracy.  However, there are many today who believe that time and space are not so intertwined that they must be cojoined as a continuum the way Einstein postulated.  There are other theories that consider space and time quite distinctly separate, yet predict the same results as does relativity.  Since most scientists are not expert in relativity, it is easier for them to accept the establishment’s entrenchment of a theory into textbooks and academia, than swim upstream against the more popular theory, with an alternative that gives similar answers, though void philosophical problems like paradoxes.  The almost certain fact that space and time were each created anew does not depend upon whether or not they are connected as Einstein postulates, or are completely disparate and separate entities.”  (Dr. Stan Sholar, personal communication, September 21, 2006)

 

Freemasons, the Third Temple, and the Antichrist

 

Why will Satan give the Beast (Antichrist) all of his power and authority and why will the world follow this person as their savior, worship him, and take his mark? While we cannot know him by name, we can draw a composite with the biblical elements of what this person will be like just like the witness to a crime can, with the help of an artist, reconstruct the face of the defendant. He will come geographically from the former Roman Empire (Daniel 9:26), which surrounded the entire Mediterranean Sea (Daniel 7:2; Revelation 13:1); he (and or his empire) will possess the qualities (and perhaps geographic locations) of the former beasts (Revelation 13:2); he will rise up to be among the ten horns of the last beast (empire); he will have all the power and authority of Satan (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:2, 4); he will sit in the temple, show his powers as god and erect an image (Daniel 8:11, 9:27, 11:31, 12:12; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:4, Revelation 13:15); he will be the genetic son of Satan  (Genesis 3:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3? Daniel 2:43). Now let’s consider in detail all of these qualities.

From the former Roman Empire

The former Roman Empire was an area that stretched from west North Africa to parts of the Middle East. He may be European

Roman Empire in NT Times

but he could also be from North Africa, Turkey or from the Middle East. He could be from a Muslim country or from a historically Christian country, though he himself will not truly be a believer in either (Daniel 1:37). Nevertheless, he will most likely be nominally religious for appearances.

Rises up out of the Great Sea

The Great Sea (Daniel 7:2; Revelation 13:1), as spoken of by Daniel is simply the Hebrew way of saying the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, the general area that the beast will come out of is the countries surrounding the Mediterranean, confirmation that he will rise out of the previous Roman Empire.

Possible Candidates

There are a number of groups such as the Theosophists, Yale’s Skull and Bones Society, Illuminati and the Masons that fit extremely well the description of the coming Antichrist (see the table below). There are many similarities between these groups and very generally speaking they are working toward the same goals. However, for simplicity, we will focus on the Masons since they comprehensively cover the beliefs and practices of the secret societies in general. As a note, the goal is not to give a complete exposé of the Masons as that would require several tomes[i] but to see why one of their own best fits the description of the coming Antichrist. What we see is that the keys points of the coming Antichrist are in fact the key beliefs of the Masons (and others).

Comparison of the Antichrist with

the beliefs and plans of the Masons

Bible (Antichrist) Masons (and others) beliefs/doctrines plans
Serves Lucifer/Satan Serves Lucifer/Satan
Opposed to God Believe Adonai (God) is bad
Focused on the temple Temple of Solomon of central importance
Rebuild temple (in order to be able to sit in it) Awaiting right man with vision to rebuild
Will rule over the entire earth Will establish New World Order
Understands sinister schemes Use deception and symbols to keep secrets even from lower level initiates

 

Serves Lucifer

Only at the highest levels of his craft does the Mason discover who is the “Great Architect of the Universe” that they so often refer to. Whereas many lower level Masons are led to believe that he must be the Judeo-Christian God, the truth is that they are worshipping Lucifer. Albert Pike, one of the great Masonic historians reveals that the name of the being that the Masons are worshiping is in fact Lucifer. He says:

Lucifer, the Light Bearer! Strange and mysterious name to give to the Spirit of Darkness! Lucifer, the Son of the Morning! Is it he who bears the Light and with its splendors intolerable blinds feeble, sensual or selfish Souls?[ii]

However, perhaps the most revealing as to what Pike truly believed he stated on July 14, 1889 in Instructions to the 23 Supreme Councils of the World:

The masonic religion should be, by all of us initiates of the high degrees, maintained in the purity of the Luciferian doctrine […] Yes, Lucifer is God, and unfortunately Adonay also is God […] and the true and philosophical religion is the belief in Lucifer, the equal of Adonay; but Lucifer, God of light and God of good, is struggling against Adonay, the God of darkness and evil. [iii]

Pike was not alone in his understanding that the Masons (and other esoteric societies) were worshipping Lucifer. Manly P. Hall, eulogized by the Scottish Rite Journal after his death in 1990 as the “greatest of all Masonic philosophers”, divulged one of Masonry’s darkest secrets:

When the Mason learns that the key to the warrior on the block is the proper application of the dynamo of living power, he has learned the mystery of his Craft. The seething energies of Lucifer are in his hands and before he may step onward and upward, he must prove his ability to properly handle energy, (emphasis mine). [iv]

It is the “seething energies of Lucifer” that the man that would be the Antichrist will endeavor to have – that “dynamo of living power”. Even though this person has presumably everything that a person could potentially desire (power, money, etc.) it is the lust for ever greater power that will cause the person to combine himself with the dark Lord that he serves.

He Will Rebuild the Temple

Many people have assumed that the Antichrist will necessarily be Jewish because of his intense drive to rebuild the temple. While it is true that there are many Jews that desire the rebuilding of the temple, the Masons (and other esoteric societies) are perhaps just as passionate about seeing the temple of Solomon rebuilt. In fact, the temple is of central importance and without the focus on the temple they would cease to exist. John Wesley Kelchner writes in the foreword to The Holy Bible: The Great Light in Masonry, King James Version, Temple Illustrated Edition: “The Temple of Solomon is the spiritual home of every Mason.”[v] He also declares the following:

The traditions and romance of King Solomon’s Temple […] are of transcendent importance to Masons. The Temple is the outstanding symbol in Masonry, and the legendary story of the building of the Temple is the fundamental basis of the Masonic rule and guide for conduct in life, (emphasis mine). [vi]

In the Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, Albert Mackey, MD, 33rd and Charles T. McClenachan, 33rd affirm that the temple is the most important object of Masonry:

Of all the objects which constitute the Masonic science of symbolism, the most important, the most cherished, by the Mason, and by far the most significant, is the Temple of Jerusalem. The spiritualizing of the Temple is the first, the most prominent and the most pervading, of all symbols of Freemasonry […] Take from Freemasonry its dependence on the Temple; leave out of its ritual all references to that sacred edifice, and to the legends and traditions connected with it, and the system itself would at once decay and die, (emphasis mine).[vii]

The Man to Rebuild

Not only is the temple of central importance but there is also a need to “build up” the temple for truth:

The great body of the Masonic Craft, looking only to this first Temple erected by the wisdom of King Solomon, make it the symbol of life; and as the great object of Masonry is the search after truth, they are directed to build up this temple as a fitting receptacle for truth.[viii]

John Wesley Kelchner in the Temple Illustrated Version (KJV) takes the “building up” a step further by indicating that there are so many minute details associated with the Temple that all that is needed is for someone with vision to come along and rebuild the temple.

It is known to every reader of the Bible and student of Solomon’s days, that an amazingly detailed description of the Temple and its associated structures has been carried down from the mists of antiquity by the Scriptures. Lineal measurements, materials employed, and ornamental detail are so graphically presented that restoration of the Temple, at any time within a score of centuries past, awaited only the coming of a man with the vision to recognize its historic value, and the imagination to undertake the task.[ix]

Edward Waite writing in A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and of Cognate Instituted Mysteries: The Rites, Literature and History, declares: “in the High Grades [of Masonry] we hear of a secret intention to build yet another temple at Jerusalem.”[x] We therefore see that there are plans to rebuild the temple and they are waiting for a man with vision to undertake the task.

The Balfour Declaration November 2, 1917

Of course, no one could even consider the reconstruction of the Temple if the people of the temple are not actually in the land. Hence, it was necessary that the Jewish people be back in the land. One of the foundational movements toward that reality was

Balfour Declaration

the Balfour Declaration which was a letter sent by Arthur James Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild. The letter “represents the first political recognition of Zionist aims by a Great Power.”[xi]

What is significant about this correspondence is that according to researcher Dr. Stanley Monteith, Balfour was a high ranking Mason (we note, however, that God often allows and uses the wicked to bring about His own purposes i.e. He used the Assyrians to punish the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. see also 2 Kings 21:14). In fact, we will see that the Masons were centrally responsible for Israel’s reestablishment. Dr. Monteith has summarized what Freemason Cecil Rhodes wrote in his “Confession of Faith”: “Lord Milner was a 33rd degree Mason, William T. Stead was a spiritualist and a Theosophist, and Arthur Balfour was a spiritualist, a Mason, and a member of the Society for Psychical Research.” Dr. Monteith rightly notes: “What most researchers have missed is the fact that most of the men who joined Cecil Rhodes’ secret society were involved in the occult.”[xii] Dr. Monteith again quotes from Cecil Rhodes “Confessions of Faith” wherein he states that he has become a Mason and then states the goal of bringing the world under British control.

In the present day I become a member of the Masonic Order. […] Why should we not form a secret society with but one object, the furtherance of the British Empire, for the bringing of the whole uncivilized world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, for the making the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire, (emphasis mine).

Professor Quigley notes that there were “two power blocs that controlled Great Britain during the early decades of the twentieth century. One was led by Lord Cecil, the other by Lord Milner.” Quigley writes:

One of the enduring creations of the Cecil Bloc is the Society for Psychical Research, which holds a position in the history of the Cecil Bloc similar to that held by the Royal Institute of International Affairs in the Milner Group. The Society was founded in 1882 by the Balfour family and their in-laws, (emphasis mine).[xiii]

Israeli author and reporter Barry Chamish states the Masonic administration over the establishment of Israel in no uncertain terms:

Without British Freemasonry there would be no modern state of Israel. In the 1860s, the British-Israelite movement was initiated from within Freemasonry. Its goal was to establish a Jewish-Masonic state in the Turkish province of Palestine. Of course, that would mean dealing with the Turks at some point down the line, but first the country would have to be repopulated with Jews. And the idea wasn’t to bring in more of the same religious Jews who already were the majority in Jerusalem and elsewhere, but the kind of Jews who would eventually accept the Masonic view of history.

Initially, British Jewish Masonic families like the Rothschilds and Montefiores provided the capital to build the infrastructure for the anticipated wave of immigration. However, luring the Jews to Israel was proving difficult. They, simply, liked European life too much to abandon it. So Europe was to be turned into a nightmare for the Jews. This led to the rise of pogroms and Zionism. […] Then things began moving quickly. British Masons like Arthur Balfour and Herbert Samuel led the campaign for official British recognition of a Jewish homeland during World War One. At the same time, a million British troops, badly needed in the trenches of Europe, were sent marching to Palestine to oust the Ottomans.

When the war ended, the campaign for a Jewish state went into full speed at Versailles. In 1919, The Royal Institute of International Affairs was founded in London and two years later, the Council on Foreign Relations began its nefarious activities in New York. Their agendas called for a world governmental takeover and a global religion based in Jerusalem, (emphasis mine).[xiv]

The above evidence strongly affirms that the Masons were behind the establishment of the modern state of Israel.[xv] Given their intense interest in the Temple and their desire to rebuild it, such testimony becomes strong circumstantial evidence that the Masons were behind the reestablishment of Israel because they desire to rebuild the temple which is central to their entire dogma. We can only guess they desire the temple rebuilt because their dark lord, Lucifer desires to have his savior to the world, the Antichrist, go in and declare himself to be god.

Sinister Schemes

To tie it all together, we need to ask what the connection is that the Masons have with the demons posing as “aliens”. We recall that the (demon) “aliens” have been telling contactees and abductees that some terrible things will come upon the earth but they will raise up a leader to help us. David Lewis, in his book, UFO: End Time Delusion discusses the “aliens’” plan to set up a human and give him superhuman powers.

Aliens […] are preparing to intervene again in world history, to lead mankind to a higher level of consciousness. They will select a human person and endow him with superhuman powers and knowledge. This man will lead us to world government and world peace, (emphasis mine).[xvi]

This leader will come from regular “human stock” apparently and then be endowed with super powers; he will become the counterfeit Christ. New England Director of the House of Theosophy, Bill Lambert made an important statement concerning the relationship between the “aliens” and the New World Order, which is primarily controlled by the high level Masons. Mr. Lambert states:

UFOs and Aliens are part of the New World Order. They are benevolent beings which will aid mankind in attaining the goal of becoming one humanity. They will appear at the proper time to enable mankind to make that Quantum Leap of Collective Consciousness – when the Anti-Christ appears, (emphasis mine). [xvii]

The writer from the Cutting Edge website[xviii] noted that Bill Lambert ended with this revelation linking the coming of the great leader of the Masons (called the “Christ” or “Matreiya”).

Finally, a sound will be heard world-wide which will herald the coming of Maitreya the Christ. Prompted by this sound, people will be aware of his coming on three distinct levels: Spiritual, physical, and emotional.[xix]

The similarities between the last trump that is mentioned in I Thessalonians 4, the classic passage which describes in detail the event of the rapture and the description of the coming of the Maitreya are uncanny. It would appear that what is suggested here is that the sound of the trumpet will indeed be something that the entire world will hear and in an attempt to distort its meaning it will be ascribed to the coming of the false Christ rather than the rapture of the true believers.

The Masonic secrets we have learned are purposefully hidden from the lower levels until they are deemed worthy to receive the truth as stated by Sovereign Grand Commander Albert Pike in his massive book of over 900 pages Morals and Dogma.

Masonry, like all the Religions, all the Mysteries, Hermeticism and Alchemy, conceals its secrets from all except the Adepts and Sages, or the Elect, and uses false explanations and misinterpretations of its symbols to mislead those who deserve only to be misled; to conceal the Truth, which it calls Light, from them, and to draw them away from it. Truth is not for those who are unworthy or unable to receive it, or would pervert it. […] The truth must be kept secret, and the masses need a teaching proportioned to their imperfect reason.[xx]

The deliberate false explanations and plethora of hidden symbols appears to be a confirmation of what was revealed to the Prophet Daniel when the angel interpreted the vision by saying that the little horn will understand sinister schemes. The Hebrew word khidot (חִידוֹת) means “riddle, difficult question, parable, enigmatic saying or question, perplexing saying or question,”[xxi] that is a very good description of what they themselves have revealed – the secrets must be kept from all but the Adepts and Sages. Albert Pike even advocated the creation of a secret society within a secret society – certainly an organization of sinister schemes and enigmatic sayings!

We must create a super rite, which will remain unknown, to which we will call those Masons of high degree of whom we shall select. With regard to our brothers in Masonry, these men must be pledges to the strictest secrecy. Through this supreme rite, we will govern all Freemasonry which will become the one international center, the more powerful because its direction will be unknown.[xxii]

What emerges from all that we have seen is a picture of a man who will have risen up through the ranks of an organization that at its core is committed to serving Lucifer, is taking grand steps to rebuilding the temple, has a sinister scheme to establish a New World Order which it acknowledges is related to the “alien” agenda. By connecting the dots we see a picture emerge that all of the efforts of the Masons in the reestablishment of Israel have been to rebuild the temple so that their leader, who will be “raised up” by the “aliens” may go into the temple and declare himself to be god. He will declare himself to be god because he will be mingled with Satan. He will be the seed of the Serpent who God spoke of in the Garden those many years ago.[xxiii]



[i] The reader is encouraged to visit douglashamp.com where resources are recommended for further study.

[ii] Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, p. 321, 19th Degree of Grand Pontiff. See also: http://www.cuttingedge.org/free11.html.

[iii] From “Instructions to the 23 Supreme Councils of the World” on July 14, 1889 – Albert Pike.

[iv] Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry, p. 124.

[v] Masonic Holy Bible, Temple Illustrated Edition, A.J. Holman Co., 1968, p. 11-14.

[vi] The Holy Bible: The Great Light In Masonry, King James Version, Temple Illustrated Edition, A.J. Holman Company, 1968, Foreward entitled, “The Bible and King Solomon’s Temple in Masonry”, by John Wesley Kelchner.

[vii] Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, by Albert Mackey, MD, 33rd and Charles T. McClenachan, 33rd Revised Edition, by Edward L. Hawkins, 30th and William J. Hughan, 32nd, Volume II, M-Z, published by The Masonic History Company, Chicago, New York, London, 1873, A.G. Mackey, 1927, by the Masonic History Company.

[viii] Ibid. p. 774.

[ix] Foreword, The Bible and King Solomon’s Temple in Masonry”, by John Wesley Kelchner, 1968, A. J. Holman Company.

[x] Edward Waite, p. 486-7, “A New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and of Cognate Instituted Mysteries: The Rites, Literature and History”, Volume II, reprinted in 1970 by Weathervane Books.

[xi] http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/The+Balfour+Declaration.htm.

[xii] http://www.modernhistoryproject.org/mhp/ArticleDisplay.php?Article=BrotherDark03.

[xiii] Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, Books in Focus, 1981, pp. 31-32.

[xiv] Retrieved December 13, 2010 from: http://www.rense.com/general28/brit.htm.

[xv] A point of clarification is necessary here: while nefarious forces are indeed at work to bring about the one world government, God is nevertheless on His throne. Satan and his forces are acting in the world for their own selfish desires, and yet God has a plan that He will accomplish –oftentimes through the ill intent of his enemies. Just as He allowed various nations to discipline His people in the past, it would appear that He is now allowing the Masons (and other secret societies) to work toward the fulfillment of their evil plans but all the while God’s greater plan is sovereignly over them.

[xvi] David Lewis, UFO: End Time Delusion, p. 46.

[xx] Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, p. 321, 19th Degree of Grand Pontiff. See also: http://www.cuttingedge.org/free11.html.

[xxi] According to BDB.

[xxii] Retrieved November 8, 2010 from: http://www.michaeljournal.org/nwo1.htm.

[xxiii] The above considerations are not exhaustive but serve as a stepping stone into further research. The reader is greatly encouraged to consult the following resources to gain a deeper understanding of how the Masons and similar groups are indeed planning a Bible-apocalypse-type of takeover of the world: Apollyon Rising by Tom Horn; Secret Mysteries of America’s Beginnings, Volume I, II, III Produced by Antiquities Research Films, Written & Directed by Chris Pinto; Save Israel and Shabathai Tzvi, Labor Zionism and the Holocaust by Barry Chamish.