, 1611) says in Genesis 1:28 that God told Adam and Eve to ...be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.... The same wording is used again in Genesis 9:1 after the Flood. Since Adam and Eve were told to replenish the Earth, does this not clearly indicate that the Earth had inhabitants before Adam and Eve?
There are a number of false theories relating to the Genesis account of creation. Among those is the currently popular Gap Theory. This idea, first proposed in 1814 by Scottish theologian Thomas Chalmers, suggests that a vast gap of time should be inserted between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, and that during this indeterminable amount of time there lived and died an entire pre-Adamic world, complete with plants, animals, and even pre-Adamic races of people. The popularity of the theory is due, of course, to its supposedly valiant attempt to squeeze the geological ages of time necessary for an ancient Earth into the biblical record. The Gap Theory is based on several fallacious arguments, among which is the argument suggested by the question above. Some (though not all) proponents of the Gap Theory have attempted to establish the existence of a pre-Adamic race of people during the alleged gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. One of the arguments often used has to do with the command given by God to Adam and Eve to replenish the earth. The argument goes something like this: since Adam and Eve were told to replenish the Earth, and since replenish means to fill again, then it is obvious that the Earth was full to begin with. Thus, there must have been people in existence before Adams creation.
George H. Pember spoke of a preadamite race and of preadamite man, which he believed belonged to that primeval world with its own sin-stained history (1975, pp. 35,67-73). In later years the renowned commentator, J. Sidlow Baxter, became a defender of the Gap Theory, and even went so far as to speak of a pre-Adamite rebellion and judgment of Lucifer and associated angel-beings (1960, pp. 189-190). Others likewise have suggested pre-Adamic populations in relation to the Gap Theory.
The truth of the matter, however, is that defenders of the Gap Theory could have saved themselves much time, effort, and endlessly wild speculation if they simply had examined more carefully the correct meaning of replenish in Genesis 1:28. I readily admit that our English word replenish derives from the Latin re (again) and plenus (full), and thus can mean to fill again. I also readily admit that even Websters Dictionary quotes this verse under its definition of replenish as to repeople. But theological issues are not determined by appeals to Websters Dictionary or modern-day usage. Such issues are determined by appeals to the original languages, however. And in this case, such an appeal immediately clears up any questions on the topic. The Hebrew word, which unfortunately is translated replenish in the King James Version of 1611, does not mean to replenish. That word is male, and means simply to fill (Davidson, 1863, p. 488; cf., Brown, Driver, and Briggs, 1962, p. 22; see also, Harris, Archer, and Waltke, 1980, 1:505-506). Interesting is the fact that this very same word is used in Genesis 1:22 where the command is given by God to fill the waters of the seas. Later versions of the Bible (ASV, RSV, NASB, NIV, et al.) have rendered the verb properly as merely fill.
Also of interest in this regard is the fact that not even the Scofield Reference Bible (which so adamantly defends the Gap Theory in its Notes) makes an argument for a pre-Adamic race on the basis of Genesis 1:28, and has changed its KJV text at this point (and in Genesis 9:1) by substituting fill for replenish. I also might note that the Gap Theorys leading spokesman (until his death), Arthur C. Custance, acknowledged that the Hebrew male means only to fill (1976, p. 314). Neither does male mean to refill or repopulate in Genesis 9:1. Rather, its meaning is to bring forth abundantly (Workman, 1982, p. 185-204). Of the more than 300 times the KJVuses the word male, it is translated by the word replenish only seven times, and even those seven could be rendered correctly as fill (Morris, 1976, p. 76).
I might add as a concluding remark that the whole idea of pre-Adamic beings living on the Earth prior to the creation week of Genesis 1 is incorrect. Paul, through inspiration, plainly stated that Adam was the first man (1 Corinthians 15:45), and that through Adams sin death entered the world (Romans 5:12; 8:20-22; 1 Corinthians 15:21). Certain supporters of the Gap Theory, albeit perhaps inadvertently, have set forth a theory that causes Scripture to contradict itself. If Adam was the first, none existed before him. If death to the race came through his sin (and Paul plainly affirmed that it did), then no one could have died before that sin/death. In providing answers to Bible questions, whatever else we do, we must be careful not to suggest answers that pit the Bible against itself. The Gap Theory does just that, and therefore must be rejected.
Baxter, J. Sidlow, (1960), Studies in Problem Texts (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles Briggs (1962), A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford, England: Clarendon Press).
Custance, Arthur C. (1970), Without Form and Void (Ontario, Canada: Privately published by author).
Custance, Arthur C. (1976), Hidden Things of Gods Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Davidson, B. (1863), The Analytical and Hebrew Chaldee Lexicon (New York: Harper & Brothers).
Harris, R.L. , G.L. Archer, and B.K. Waltke (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Morris, Henry M. (1976), The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Pember, George H. (1975 reprint), Earths Earliest Ages (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications), originally published by Revell, New York, 1876.
Workman, Gary (1982), Difficult Texts from Genesis, Difficult Texts of the Old Testament Explained, ed. Wendell Winkler (Hurst, TX: Winkler Publications), pp. 185-204.
Originally published in Reason and Revelation, April 1987, 7:13-14.
Copyright © 1987 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
We are happy to grant permission for items in the "Scripturally Speaking" section to be reproduced in their entirety, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) the authors name must remain attached to the materials; (4) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (5) alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, quotations, etc. must be reproduced exactly as they appear in the original); (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken.
For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
Phone (334) 272-8558