The early chapters of Genesis: how should they be understood?

If the idea of Creation is foundational to the Biblical world view, and if we derive our understanding of Creation and early earth history from the first twelve chapters of Genesis, how then should we understand these chapters?

For a number of reasons, there’s no consensus in the Christian community on this and the lack of agreement guts our ability to take the claims of Christ to the surrounding secular culture in a holistic, comprehensive and unified way.

The debate over how we should understand Genesis, boils down in the final analysis to who we’re going to believe – to where we are going to put our trust.

This is because we’re faced in this area with competing claims to authority.

Genesis taken in a straight forward way provides us a history. It claims to tell us about the origin of all things and the early history of those things. Specifically it tells us about:

  • the origin of the universe,
  • the origin of life – and the diversity of life –
  • the origin of human beings.
  • the nature of human beings and early events, which if true, have had, and still have, a major influence on the psychological and sociological well-being of human beings.
  • the origin and development of some very diverse human technology and culture, and the origins of national groups.
  • events on earth that if they happened as described would have had a major effect on the geology of the earth and the life forms on it.

So Genesis makes a lot of claims about the origin and nature of things, and the history of those things.

This record understood in an orthodox way, has behind it the authority of the God who is claimed to have made everything, and set everything on its way – and who holds everything together moment by moment as it goes on its way.

In contrast to this record, we have today the evolutionary scheme of things, which also provides a history. But this history challenges virtually every claim made by Genesis. Evolution, or Naturalism as it is sometimes called, says that nature is all there is, thus there is no God who is outside of and above nature, who made nature. Evolution/Naturalism also claims to tell us about:

  • the origin and early history of the universe
  • the origin of life – and it’s diversity –
  • the origin of human beings.
  • the nature of human beings and the origin and development of human technology and culture,
  • the geologic history of the earth and the way life forms have been affected by this.

In other words it addresses exactly the same things that Genesis does.

The way this history is normally presented gives the impression that behind it stands the authority of objective human scientific research.

So here we’re faced with two utterly different and mutually exclusive, thus incompatible histories which make claims about the same things. Who are we going to believe? By choosing one we exclude the other. For many Christians over the past 150 years the choice has not been easy because they have found themselves on the horns of a dilemma.

If we choose to believe the Bible, we’ll appear to have put ourselves in opposition to science, and we’ll be vilified and marginalised in many and varied ways, not least of which is being excluded from academia – that is, unless we keep our heads down and tell no one what we really believe, or work in an area were the points of contention are not seen to be so great.

However, if we call ourselves a Christian and claim to follow Jesus and accept the Bible, but at the same time follow the evolutionary scheme, then we have undercut the authority of Christianity’s crucial source document through undercutting the foundational book in it, the book in which all the major doctrines of the Bible are grounded.

The pressure has been and is intense, but a choice has to be made. We can’t evade it unless we want to bury our heads in the sand, or sit on a fence – which unfortunately many try to do. But if we go either of these ways, we don’t actually evade the choice. We make a choice but a choice to fudge. Fence sitters are not heroes and don’t lead except into compromise. Fence sitting generally is not a morally commendable position. It could be described as the position of the gutless.

The authority that controls the culture today is the authority of ‘science’ so-called. At least, science controls what can be called ‘public knowledge’ – what is widely accepted as a public fact as opposed to private opinion. The word ‘science’ today however includes a variety of non-scientific things. Under the label goes not only hard empirical experimentation and research, but also philosophy (which underlies the hard science), and naturalistic religion, the insistence that nature is all there is.

The conflict those who take the Bible in a straight forward manner have, is not with experimental science, or what some have called ‘operation science’, but with the naturalistic religious/philosophical view that today piggy backs illegitimately on the back of the justified renown and esteem of operation science, and which largely determines;

  • the definition of science;
  • who gets research grants;
  • who gets positions in the establishment –
  • and…who is excluded or expelled.

The authority that Christians at least theoretically bow to is the authority of God and the authority of his word the Bible. However when the authority of naturalistic religion disguised in scientific drag conflicts with the Bible, Christians have a choice to make. To which authority will they submit?

For many it’s that of ‘science’ so-called. Maybe they’re genuinely confused. Maybe they’re innocently unaware of the philosophical/religious viewpoint that entices them. However, maybe they submit because they are intimidated by a numbers game…the weight of academia that stacks up behind this view. Or maybe they like the acceptance and praise of human beings above the acceptance and praise of God. Perhaps they like to think of themselves as enlightened, superior to other Christians, and somewhat risqué by aligning themselves with the dominant view. Maybe they just don’t like the idea of being targets of ridicule and abuse for bucking the establishment.

Alternatively we can discern the naturalism that calls us so seductively, and reject it come what may.

In the light of these pressures, a question can be raised as to whether we’re required to understand the early chapters of Genesis in a particular way, if we’re to be honest when we say we believe the Bible.

If we line our thinking up with naturalism, then there’s no way we can take Genesis as a straightforward history. Take the time question for example. The Bible, read in a straightforward way portrays life the universe and everything as young. Young that is relative to the evolutionary claims for a vast age for the earth and universe etc. The 6000 or so years indicated by the Bible for the age of the earth etc, is actually very old! Interestingly, if you go to various museums throughout Europe…for example, The Louvre in Paris, and the British Museum in London… which are stuffed full of artifacts from ancient civilisations, they don’t have anything that goes back beyond about 2500bc, and mostly from the Middle East. They often have time-lines, with heaps and heaps of stuff back to about then…and then…effectively nothing. Yes, they do put some bits at 8000bc or 12000bc, but its single isolated artifacts they claim for this sort of age for, not the plethora of items beginning at about 2500bc. The time-lines at this point look like they move from solid, verifiable history, to theory rather than fact. This surfeit of artifacts back to 2500bc argues for a recent origin for civilisation…in the Middle East, after the Flood, as the Biblical history lays out in Genesis.

I don’t think there’s any controversy about the fact the Bible presents a recent origin to life the universe and everything. The controversy is about whether it should be read this way. So…here we have the Bible saying things are young…but if we follow naturalism we must say things are old. Very, very, old.

The question then arises as to what you do with the Bible. Well, if we follow naturalism, the Bible has to bend. As I’ve said, at a minimum we can no longer take it in its straightforward sense.

Regarding time you can go a number of ways. Either:

  • you find a hole in the text down which you shove all the time naturalism requires. A view that does this is called the ‘Gap Theory’ and was very popular up until about 40 years ago among evangelicals but is not so widely held today.
  • Or you change the meaning of words in the text to accommodate the time required. Does the word ‘day’ in Genesis 1 mean a normal 24 hour day? Perhaps it means a long period of time – and there’s no question that sometimes the word ‘day’ has the meaning. Perhaps that’s what it means in Genesis so allowing the time frame to be stretched.
  • Or you change the nature of the text so that you aren’t bound by anything it says regarding time. This is the Liberal way, which simply sees the whole record as a mythological story totally unconnected to real history.

We have to change other things as well depending on what else of the evolutionary/naturalistic story we accept. If we accept the geological parts, then we can’t accept the record in Genesis about the Flood in the days of Noah. If we accept biological evolution (or any compromises with it), and human evolution as a subset of that, the Bible must give way where it speaks to things claimed by these concepts.

Of course, if this is done, various justifications for doing so will be given. But at the end of the day, all of these justifications involve accepting the statements of what is claimed to be ‘science’ – the limited, changing thinking of limited, fallible human beings, over what the Bible, the word of the Creator, says. The Bible read straight forward says everything is young. But ‘naturalistic science’ tells us it’s old – that radio metric dating methods for example, have proved absolutely that the earth is at least 4.5 billion years old, and Big Bang cosmology has proved the universe is – at least currently – about 13 billion. Prior to the Big Bang idea becoming dominant it was thought to be eternal. If we accept an old earth, we must develop some scheme to enable us to find not just more time in Genesis, but vast amounts of it – billions of years of it – to accommodate the time ‘naturalism’ requires. This of course presupposes we continue to feel obligated to keep Genesis and not just ditch it as many have done.

I felt this conflict very intensely when I was at high school. I was intimidated by the claimed old age of the earth and universe, and as a consequence deferred to ‘science’ as I thought of it, and bent the Bible. That was until I came to understand on one hand that many of what I thought of as ‘established facts of science’, were simply one interpretation of data which could be understood another way, and on the other, that as a Christian I should trust the Bible.

The evolutionary view of time, deep time, geologic time, would be the major issue that pressurizes Christians to not accept the straightforward reading of Genesis, although intimidation by biological evolutionary ideas would have to be pretty close to it and are interwoven with it. Maybe you’re being pressurised at present. Maybe you’ve already bent the Bible because of issues such as these. While I appreciate where you’re at, I’m convinced that Scripture, taken at face value does not conflict with genuine science. What it absolutely does conflict with however, is the opposing religion of naturalism which drives the “scientific” and cultural establishments today and undergirds them. It is this religions historical framework.


My case for taking Genesis at face value…in a straightforward way, is that not only is this the natural way to read it, but that the Bible is internally consistent on this matter. All the Biblical authors who refer to Genesis, without exception, read it this way. If we claim to believe the Bible, shouldn’t the way the Biblical authors understood Genesis – and pre-eminently how the Lord Jesus understood it – be the way we do? If they all understood the events recorded in the early chapters of Genesis as real history, an accurate record describing real people doing real things and real events which affected the earth in real tangible ways, then shouldn’t we also? If what is described conflicts with the story naturalism tells, so be it. As a believer in the Bible, I follow the Bible, not naturalism.

But if we find the naturalistic story regarding origins persuasive and follow it, at least in part, doesn’t honesty require us to admit we no longer believe the Bible at those parts where we think naturalism trumps it?

So…my claim is that all the Biblical authors and characters who refer to Genesis took it in a straightforward way, including:

  • God himself as he personally spoke and wrote the Ten Commandments – which includes the six days of creation.
  • the writer of the family trees we find in 1 Chronicles,
  • Luke, who utilised these same family trees,
  • Paul, as he argued the solidarity of the human race in sin in Romans 5, etc.
  • Jesus, in referring to the creation, the Flood, and those at the beginning of the human family.

All these and others, accepted without argument or defence for doing so, that the people and events they mentioned were real historical people and events.

This being the case, the whole of the Bible is tied together on this question. If we pull this thread, we find that the whole of the fabric distorts and unravels, even though we may not have intended such a thing.

It has happened times without number to individuals, churches, educational, and theological establishments. The end of the road is full blown liberalism, but on the way to that, people will lack confidence in Scripture as being true and defendable and speaking to the whole of life, the gospel will be truncated, and mission undercut. The liberal division between faith and reason most likely will develop, as will no doubt the naive and false division which says that Genesis tells us ‘why’ God created and science tells us ‘how’ he created.

This idea, called the ‘complementary view’, is naive and false because it simply flies in the face of the evidence.

Contrary to the claim, Genesis tells us nothing about ‘why’ – in the big sense – God created, and science can tell us nothing about ‘how’ he did! It’s simply a trite cliché.

What advocates of this view are saying is that they’ve accepted as scientifically true, the evolutionary/naturalistic story that tells of the universe and life developing through evolutionary processes, but that they get ‘meaning’ from the Bible.

‘Science’ and the Bible, supposedly each have their own sealed spheres of authority, which are not opposed to each other, nor interfere with each other, but rather complement each other. It’s claimed they deal with different aspects of reality.


Now rather than just assert the claim I have – that all Biblical authors and characters take Genesis in a straightforward way, let’s look at some of the passages I’m referring to make sure you see my claim has substance. I’ve observed that those Christians who have compromised with naturalism in terms of the issue of origins are quite willing to speak freely in general terms of God being the Creator but seldom come to grips with the specific texts of Scripture that deal with creation and which refute their position. So let’s look at specific texts.

Let’s start with the question of the six days of creation, but first let’s briefly clarify a critical point from Genesis 1 itself in relation to this.

The word ‘day’ in Hebrew is the word ‘Yom’. While there’s no question that this word has a variety of meanings, or a semantic range as it’s called, the meaning in any particular passage is determined by the context and surrounding words. In Genesis 1 when referring to the days of creation, it’s hedged about with several significant ideas and words, which mean that it can only, in this context, be referring to a normal 24-hour day.

The first is that for each of the days of Creation, a number is associated with the word ‘day’. That is, the first day, the second day etc. In every other place in the OT that a number is used with the word day…around 410 times…it refers to a normal 24-hour day.

One apparent exception some point to is found in Hosea 6v2, but in this case it’s in a poetic allusion referring to the swiftness of God’s action in restoration, and the days in the allusion must be straightforward days to be able to that carry idea.

Here are four verses which illustration how the word day with a number clearly refers to a normal day.


Ge 30:36  Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks.

Ex 12:16  On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat—that is all you may do.

Le 23:5-6  The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.

Ezr 10:9  Within the three days, all the men of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people were sitting in the square before the house of God, greatly distressed by the occasion and because of the rain.

The second significant thing is that each of the creation days are said to have an ‘evening and morning’. Outside of Genesis 1, these words are universally associated with normal days.

The question is: Why should Genesis 1 be the exception to the rule in the use of these words, when it’s not at all obvious from the context that it should be an exception?

Further, if the intention of the author was to speak of long periods of time, there are, I am told, perfectly good words to use for such an idea, and yet he doesn’t use them.


Reference to the six days of creation is not limited to Genesis 1. Exodus 20 contains the Ten Commandments and must be one of the most important passages in the Old Testament. In Exodus 20v11 the six days appear again.

Exodus 20

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

9 Six days you shall labour and do all your work,

10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.


Verse 11 is an all inclusive statement regarding the creation and is a direct reference to Genesis 1. It includes the ‘heavens and the earth’ which shows that Genesis 1v1 – ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ – is not a heading for that chapter as some maintain, and nor is there a gap between v1 and 2 of Genesis 1 as the Gap Theory maintains.

Both of these approaches are ways of trying to find time in the text. By slicing the first verse off from the rest of the chapter and turning it into a heading, supposedly you can now say that the creation of the heavens and the earth is not even mentioned in the passage and was at an unspecified time in the past. We simply start with the earth in existence. Exodus 20v11 however includes the heavens and the earth in the things that were made within the six days, indicating clearly that v1 is included within the six days, not before them.

The Gap theory – or ‘ruin /reconstruction’ – theory finds time by saying that God originally created a perfect world at an indeterminate time in the past. That world with its plants and animals, many indistinguishable from those in the present world, was then ruined as the result of Satan’s rebellion. Subsequently God recreated in six normal days all the animals and man etc. The fossils it’s claimed are remains of this former creation, plants and animals destroyed in what some have called “Lucifers Flood”. With no gap between the first two verses of Genesis 1, the Gap Theory is dead.

This view also requires an inconsequential Flood in the days of Noah, one that didn’t leave any remains behind in the earth as fossils, even though its purpose was said to be to destroy all air-breathing life. So this view says on one hand that we have three chapters in Genesis describing a world and life destroying Flood which left no evidence, and on the other we have Lucifers Flood which left various remains worldwide, but for which we have no record. Odd to say the least.

Two other ideas are also put to rest by Exodus 20:11.

Firstly, the Creation acts are emphatically spoken of in the past tense, something that would not be true if evolution was being described in Genesis. This simply reinforces Genesis 2vv.1-3:

‘Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he ceased from all the work of creating that he had done.’

God’s creative activity was confined to six days and ended. The Creation is finished. I’m not sure it could be said much more clearly.

Second, God’s rest, or cessation of creative work at the end of day six, is also spoken of in the past tense. The seventh day has finished and gone. We are not now living in the seventh day as some would have us believe…so they can remove the straightforward nature of the seventh day and thus of the other six days also.


The Sabbath command I think gives the reason God did not create the universe and everything instantaneously all at once – although the sheer irreducible complexity of biological things at least, require them to have been made instantaneously. By spreading his instantaneous creative acts over a six day period, he established the pattern for human work and rest by himself booting up the creation in six days and then ceasing from work on the seventh. If the days of creation are not normal days, then the basis for human work and rest in the example of God’s work and rest as given in this command, dissolves.

This straight forward view of Genesis of course flies straight in the face of naturalism. Naturalism understands man as an incidental/accidental product of a universe without ultimate meaning, living on an insignificant pale blue dot in a vast sea of galaxies. The Biblical view says the world was made for man and that even the duration of the creation period was as long at it was because it was to set a pattern for this incredibly significant creature called man.

We may need reminding that according to the Bible, Moses did not originate the Ten Commandments. God himself spoke them to all Israel so the people all heard with their own ears. We don’t have any explicit statement as to who the author of Genesis 1 through 2v4 was, though for a variety of reasons I suspect it was God himself. However, we do have explicit statements that tell us God was the author of the Ten Commandments.


Deuteronomy 4v10-12

10 Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”

11 You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens, with black clouds and deep darkness.

12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice.

13 He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets.

So God spoke them and wrote them, and that last point is stressed again in Exodus 31 and Exodus 32. In Exodus 31, the Sabbath commandment is repeated .


Exodus 31v12, 17-18

12   Then the LORD said to Moses…


16  The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant.

17  It will be a sign between me and the Israelites for ever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’”

18 When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.


Exodus 32v15-16

15 Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back.

16 The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.


That’s plain enough…and we either accept it or we don’t. Did God write them or did he not? To believe he did, is the evangelical position. To deny it puts you in the liberal camp.


The point is, God himself wrote that he had made the whole creation in six days.


So I ask, ‘Given the God of the Bible is for real and that this statement is correct – as at least evangelicals all throughout church history have maintained – is God aware of what he says and writes? Is he correct when he says in speech and in writing that he made the universe and everything in six days, or is he not? As he’s the Maker of the universe, it’s a stranglehold on the obvious to say that he knows how he did it.

If he’s correct…and we could ask, ‘Is he ever wrong?’…then why are so many evangelicals today reluctant to say so, or so unwilling to accept that fact? But if we’ve taken on board an evolutionary view at least as far as the time frame goes, why are we not prepared to come out baldly and say that God got it wrong? And if he got it wrong, that perhaps he also got it wrong when he said, ‘You shall not commit adultery, or theft, or murder?’

Of course liberals say that the God of the Bible is not for real and what’s claimed for him in these verses is in essence a con job by the leaders of Israel of around 400 to 500BC. Who knowingly takes a con job seriously? Why liberals continue to bother at all with the Bible, struggling continuously against it as they do, and instead not go fishing, is beyond me. Of course many have gone fishing, and that’s why we live at present in a secular culture that treats the Bible as irrelevant. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that if the Liberals are correct, the Bible has no authority to bind us.

Following this view, no wonder churches that go this track, think it is OK to have homosexual ministers. The Biblical laws against homosexual behaviour are just a variation of the ‘you shall not commit adultery’ law which we shouldn’t take any more seriously than God saying he made the whole show in six days!

But evangelicals don’t accept that, so those of them who fudge on Genesis need to face up to the slippery slope they are on. Fudging on the six days of creation is no light matter, as though it’s immaterial what you believe about them. The very trustworthiness of God is tied up with them. The skids are put under everything when they are denied. Those who go this way may soon be saying Jesus was a man of his time and got things wrong as well – or their children will.

A case in point is Charles Templeton, Billy Graham’s fellow evangelist, who was recognised as equal to Graham as an evangelist. However he came to doubt among other things, the six days of creation and the Flood as global, and then rejected biblical Christianity altogether. You can find out about Templeton at or in Lee Strobel’s DVD, the ‘Case for Faith’.


The start of 1st Chronicles reads:

1 Chronicles 1v1-7

  1. Adam, Seth, Enosh,
  2. Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared,
  3. Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah.
  4. The sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
  5. The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras.
  6. The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.
  7. The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittim and the Rodanim.etc, etc, etc.

1st Chronicles has eight or so chapters of genealogy like this, more or less finishing around the time of Kings Saul and David of Israel. The genealogical table starts with Adam, and basically repeats the genealogical table found in Genesis chapter 5. It then picks up the genealogical table in Genesis 10 which is known as the Table of Nations. Genesis 10 gives the descendants of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth down to about 6 generations – at least in Shem’s line.

1 Chronicles from there picks up the genealogy in Genesis 11 which gives the family line from Shem to Abraham – then the descendants of Abraham’s second wife, Keturah and the descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael. Both of these lists are found in Genesis 25. Next come the sons of Abraham’s sons Jacob and Esau, Esau’s genealogy being basically a re-run of Genesis 36.

The writer of 1 Chronicles in the time of David, clearly understood Genesis to be a straightforward history. There is not the slightest inkling of any change from myth or non-history, to history, in the genealogies in 1 Chronicles. It reads simply as a sober list of ancestors’ right back to the first man, Adam. Adam is important because he is right there named in Genesis 2.

Now if we jump over to Luke’s Gospel in the New Testament, we find at the end of Luke chapter 3, the genealogy of the Lord Jesus. Again it is just a list of ancestors – right back to Adam.

Luke’s list doesn’t worry about all the various branches of the family, which Chronicles gives but cuts straight through them all to give the direct ancestry of Christ. It summarizes Genesis 5, parts of Genesis 10, then chapter 11 and the remaining 3 or 4 generations that appear in Genesis – and so on right down to the Lord. Clearly Luke took Genesis as a straightforward history. The genealogy finishes at Adam by saying,

Luke 3v37

‘…the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.’

…a reference to Adam’s direct creation by God.

Did the author of 1Chronicles get it wrong? Did Luke get it wrong? If we say Genesis is not accurate history, then that’s what we’re saying. The evangelical position is well and truly down the drain if this is so.


What about theological questions that swing on Adam.

In Romans 5, Paul’s whole argument regarding the connection of death to sin, and how it came into the world through one man…then the comparison with all that to the one man who brought life, swings on the historical reality of Adam and the fall…that is, the persons and events recorded in Genesis 1, 2, and 3. If those things are not real the whole thing falls to the ground, and down with it goes orthodox, evangelical Christianity.

I think evangelicals who do even the bare minimum of thinking about it, would concede that Paul’s argument here is really quite important for Christianity. Thus if they have questions about the reality of Adam and the fall into sin, then I’m sure they will feel the tension thrown up by this sort of passage – or at least they should.

Another thing that comes from this passage, apart from the important theology that hangs on it, is that obviously Paul took Genesis in a straightforward way. There is not the slightest hint that he was prepared to build theology on Adam while not actually believing Adam had a real objective existence and did the things Genesis records him as doing.

Liberals will say that’s obvious. Of course Paul thought Adam was historical. But Paul was wrong. He thought Adam was real and so built theology on him, but we now know – in the light of modern scientific and textual studies – that Paul was wrong. I can understand a liberal saying that sort of thing. What I can’t understand is if any person who calls themselves an orthodox evangelical Christian says it.

Paul builds a theological case on Adam and Genesis 2 and 3 in several other places as well. In 1Corinthians 11, talking about the roles and interdependence of man and woman he says in v 7.


1Corinthians 11v7

7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man;

9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

10 For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.

12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.


What Paul is meaning in this passage may be debated. However it’s obvious that he took the Creation narratives, on which he bases his comments, in a straightforward way. This is an accurate, though brief, summary of how Genesis says man and woman came to be.


In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul discusses the Resurrection of Christ and the nature of the resurrection body. Evangelicals take this passage very seriously because it’s Paul’s defence of the Resurrection of Christ, on which rests our hope of resurrection. Adam and the fall appear here also.


1 Corinthians 15v20-22, 45


20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.


45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; {Gen. 2:7} the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.


Writing to Timothy, Paul says:


1 Timothy 2v12-14

12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

Clearly Paul takes the historical accuracy of Genesis as a given, lifting the order of the creation of Adam and Eve and the fall straight out of Genesis 2 and 3.


Jude does the same.

Jude v14

14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones.

How did Jude get that Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam? Well of course he counted them up in the genealogy in Genesis 5, which gives some of the descendants of Adam.

So Jude took the historical accuracy of Genesis as a given also.


So did the writer of Hebrews. In Hebrews 11 we have a catalogue of some of those who have been faithful to God. They are held up as models for us and it says of them they:


Hebrews 11v39: 12v1

‘…were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised…Therefore since we are surrounded by such great cloud of witnesses…’ etc, let us follow their example.


Who were some of these commended for their faith – and whom we should emulate?


4   By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.

5  By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

6  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

7  By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.


Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Sarah, and Joseph, all people we read about in Genesis – (Cain and Esau are referred to as well but not as examples for us). The first four of them come from chapter’s liberals consign to the category of myth. If we follow the liberals and move away from the straightforward reading of these chapters, then we must also deny these names have any real people behind them.


The Lord Jesus also took Genesis in a straightforward way. Surely how Jesus understood the Bible must be the way we understand the Bible – if we’re going to legitimately claim to be orthodox evangelical Christians. The assumption behind such a position is of course that Jesus is the Ultimate Authority by merit of him being the Builder and Architect of the universe incarnated/embodied. If Jesus made mistakes Christians have real problems.

There are three places where Jesus refers directly to Genesis – actually 5, but four of them are duplicates. In Matthew 19 he addresses the creation of Adam and Eve and obviously accepts them as historical.


Matthew 19v3

  1. Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
  2. “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’
  3. and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?
  4. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

Jesus quotes here from both Genesis 1 and 2, clearly taking both chapters as a straightforward description of what happened. There are those who say chapters 1 and 2 give two different and contradictory accounts of creation. I agree we have two different records here, but not in the same way liberals think of them. Rather chapter 1 being authored by God, and chapter 2 by Adam. Regarding any supposed contradiction between them, Jesus gives no indication he thought there was any.


In the other duplicated record Jesus referred to Noah and the flood account as found in Genesis 6, 7 and 8, and clearly took it in a straightforward way.


Matthew 24v37-39

37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;

39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.


If there was no Noah and no ark and no flood as a judgement from God, perhaps the coming of the Son of Man in the judgement spoken of here wouldn’t happen either. As an aside, some people use this passage to refer to what is called the rapture, when it’s said believers will be taken to be with Christ leaving the wicked for judgment. But note here it was the wicked who were taken and the righteous left, the exact opposite of what is said to occur at the rapture.


The independent appeal Jesus made to Genesis was in one of his most forthright, unambiguous statements. Generally, apart from doing so intentionally in some of his parables, Jesus was not given to veiled speaking. In Matthew 23 he was anything but veiled. Rather he was as blunt as he was at any time as he attacked head-on the Scribes and Pharisees. As he was coming to the end of his fiery, unambiguous charges against them, he said:

Matthew 23v32-36


32  Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!

33  “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

34  Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.

35  And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barakiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

  • I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.

Who did Jesus refer to? Abel, one of Adam and Eve’s sons, apparently the first human being to die – who was murdered because of his faith in God. Jesus was not just doing some fancy footwork, extravagant theologising here. He was in full flight, fulfilling consummately, the role of the Biblical prophet. Taking Abel as having a real historic existence as Jesus obviously did, is the same as saying Adam was just as real, because Abel was Adam’s son.

By alluding to Abel as he did here, and to Adam and Eve – though not by name, and the Flood also, he clearly took Genesis at face value, no ifs and buts.

Did Jesus get it wrong?

Now if we accept the evolutionary scheme of things, it’s very hard to fit Adam and Eve and Abel into it. Emphatically it excludes the six days of creation, and the Flood as a global cataclysm.

To be frank, I would far prefer to side with Jesus than with naturalism. I can understand a liberal going with naturalism, after all liberals have basically bought the whole naturalistic scheme. That’s why they’re liberals! What I can’t understand is when evangelicals go with it and not only still claim to be Bible believers and evangelicals, but berate, belittle, and exclude those who accept Genesis in a straightforward way.

The Gospel swings on this stuff, as does the health and welfare of the community of believers.

Fudge on it and you undercut the Gospel. Why did Jesus die on the cross? To take the penalty for human rebellion. Where did this rebellion begin in the human family? In the Garden of Eden, with our first parents. Where do we find out about that? In Genesis 2 and 3. If we can’t take Genesis in a straightforward way, the very reason for the death of Christ evaporates.

Fudge on it and you take away from the church the possibility of it possessing a holistic, coherent, comprehensive message to take and apply into every area of life. The secular culture has put us into a box and nailed shut the lid. Are you prepared to accept that? I’m not. But if I’m to challenge the secular culture and its claims to tell us the truth about the history of world the universe and everything, then I need a comprehensive alternative message that can challenge those claims at every level. I have such a message, but only if I take Genesis in a straightforward way as the true history of the world.