The Young Earth Positions of Jesus and Paul
June 12, 2012 § Leave a comment
In the debate between good-intentioned Christians over the age of the earth, there are two statements in Scripture that seem to very clearly support a relatively young earth (6,000 – 10,000 years ago) that are often overlooked in the discussion. These are two New Testament statements, the first made by Jesus in two different Gospels, and the second by the apostle Paul.
“And [Jesus] answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,’” (Matthew 19:4, NASB)
“But from the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female.'” (Mark 10:6, NASB)
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20, NASB)
In Matthew 19 and Mark 10, Jesus refers to the existence of humans as occurring “from the beginning” (NASB, ESV, NLT, NET), “at the beginning” (CEB, KJV, NKJV, NIV), or “in the beginning” (CEV, NCV, HCSB, GNT). The context is a discussion about divorce whereby Jesus outlines God’s intent for marriage. This statement has been used to support the validity of heterosexual marriage, but the point in this discussion is that Jesus quite clearly places the creation of man and woman at the beginning of the creation of the world. This statement only makes sense in light of a relatively young earth since Jesus, describing an event that occurred on day 6 of creation, is speaking of it several thousand years later. An occurrence in the first week out of 208,000 weeks (52 weeks x 4,000 years) would certainly be considered in/at/from the beginning of those days by anyone’s reckoning. If Jesus knew there were billions of years preceding Adam and Eve, He would actually be talking about relatively recent history. In that case, He certainly wouldn’t have used “beginning” as a reference point.
We should consider if there is any other possible meaning of “at the beginning” here. Some might say that “beginning” refers to the beginning of human history. While Adam and Eve’s creation was of course the beginning of human history (they were the first humans, after all), there is simply no justification to say that ‘beginning’ here doesn’t refer to the same ‘beginning’ in Genesis 1:1.
The second argument from Romans is most often used to show that God can be inferred from nature (“General Revelation”). But we can’t ignore that Paul seems to take for granted that “since the creation of the world”, humans have been around to see the evidence in nature. It’s important to note that the Greek word for ‘since’ can mean multiple things, just as it can in English. The preposition ἀπό where we get ‘since’ (NASB, NIV, NKJV, ESV) or ‘from’ (HCSB, GW, KJV, NLT) in this verse (Strong’s #575) can also mean ‘by’ or ‘because of’ (i.e. “since it’s raining, I’ll stay inside.”) just as reasonably as a designation of elapsed time since or away from something (i.e. “since Tuesday, I’ve been sick”).
Let’s consider that “since the creation of the world” really means “because of the creation of the world”. If that is the case in this clause, Paul makes an awkwardly redundant statement when we consider the rest of Paul’s sentence includes the fact that we can know God from nature: “…being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” It’s much more economical to read “since” as a reference to time that has gone by ever since creation.
Also, if this is a reference to cause rather than elapsed time, the most logical term to use would be “by”. According to the Blue Letter Bible Lexicon, the word ἀπό appears 671 in the Authorized Version, and is translated as “since” 393 times. Only 9 times did translators choose “by”. This makes sense in passages such as Matthew 7:16, “You will know them by their fruits”, (according to; in conformity with), or 2 Cor. 7:13, “his spirit was refreshed by you” (from the hand, mind, invention, or creativity of).
To say that Jesus “understood” that the earth is relatively young doesn’t seem sufficient. Jesus was speaking as the Creator Himself, so He understood what He was saying from first-hand knowledge. Paul’s statement, as inspired by God, cannot be any more easily discounted. Both the Gospels and Romans 1:20 seem to very clearly put the creation of mankind in the immediate timeframe of the creation of the world.
More on Jesus and YEC
The following are other statements of Christ that seem to suggest a young earth as they assume man’s activities in close proximity to creation.
“For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never.” (Mark 13:19, NASB)
In speaking of end times, Jesus references suffering initiated in Genesis 3 with the sin of Adam and Eve, presumed to be near “the beginning of creation.”
“For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’” (Luke 11:49-51, NASB)
In His charge against the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus recounts their history of violence against God’s messengers, stretching all the way back to the murder of Adam’s son Abel. Human blood has been shed “since the foundation of the world,” which also refutes the possibility of a long earth history without man.