Question #398

Why were there two different creations?

I would like to ask were there two different creations? Many say that there is one creation recorded in Gen. 1:1 and a second one in Gen. chapter 2. I would appreciate any help on the subject.

I really enjoy coming to this site. As a member of the church of Christ it is a welcome sight to witness and to be able to read "what thus saith the Lord". I feel you brothers/sisters are doing a wonderful job in directing sinners both alien and saved!

The Answer:

Some suggest that Genesis 2 is not a creation account but presupposes the completion of God's creation recorded in chapter 1. The first three verses of chapter 2 carry chapter 1's account to its final conclusion. It uses the same vocabulary and style found in chapter 1. Verse 4 then sums up the entire sequence of events just concluded by saying, "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, . . ."

Beginning in 2:5 Moses the proceeds to detail one important feature in chapter one – the creation of man. In Genesis 1 man was the last of God's creation. In chapter 2 man is the center of interest and more details are given concerning the setting in which man was placed. The opening phrase, "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth" is everywhere else in Genesis a heading to a cycle of narratives (e.g., 6:9; 11:27; 37:2) or to a genealogy (e.g., 5:1; 25:12). The only difference is that in the other instances "X" is always a name – Adam, Noah, Ishmael – whereas here "X" is "the heavens and the earth." Because of this some argue that 2:4 is a postscript to what precedes it in Gen. 1:1-2:3. This understanding, however, requires a use of 2:4's language different from its usual. Taking 2:4 as an introduction to or heading for that which follows, 2:4a-5:1, gives full weight to the structure of the verse (chaiastic) and the usual meaning of its language.

Some find a difficulty in the order of certain creation events between chapter one and chapter two. Gen. 1 states that the animals were created before man. Gen. 1:19 states, "And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof." They argue that chapter one has the animals created before man and chapter 2 has the animals created after man. There is no contradiction. Gen. 1 gives the order of creation; Gen. 2 merely provides additional information about the events in chapter 1. The focus in chapter 2 is on naming the animals; the focus in chapter one is on creating the animals. Gen. 1 provides the outline of events; chapter 2 gives details.

The idea of two differing creation accounts is a common misinterpretation of these two passages that, in fact, describe the same creation event. They do not disagree as to the order in which things were created and do not contradict one another. Genesis 1 describes the "six days of creation" (and a seventh day of rest), Genesis 2 covers only one day of that creation week—the sixth day—and there is no contradiction.

In Genesis 2, the author steps back in the temporal sequence to the sixth day, when God made man. In the first chapter, the author of Genesis presents the creation of man on the sixth day as the culmination or high point of creation. Then, in the second chapter, the author gives greater detail regarding the creation of man.

There are two primary claims of contradictions between Genesis chapters 1–2. The first is in regard to plant life. Genesis 1:11 records God creating vegetation on the third day. Genesis 2:5 states that prior to the creation of man "no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground." So, which is it? Did God create vegetation on the third day before He created man (Genesis 1), or after He created man (Genesis 2)? The Hebrew words for "vegetation" are different in the two passages. Genesis 1:11 uses a term that refers to vegetation in general. Genesis 2:5 uses a more specific term that refers to vegetation that requires agriculture, i.e., a person to tend it, a gardener. The passages do not contradict. Genesis 1:11 speaks of God creating vegetation, and Genesis 2:5 speaks of God not causing "farmable" vegetation to grow until after He created man.

The second claimed contradiction is in regard to animal life. Genesis 1:24–25 records God creating animal life on the sixth day, before He created man. Genesis 2:19, in some translations, seems to record God creating the animals after He had created man. However, a good and plausible translation of Genesis 2:19–20 reads, "Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them, and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field." The text does not say that God created man, then created the animals, and then brought the animals to the man. Rather, the text says, "Now the LORD God had [already] created all the animals." There is no contradiction. On the sixth day, God created the animals, then created man, and then brought the animals to the man, allowing the man to name the animals.

By considering the two creation accounts individually and then reconciling them, we see that God describes the sequence of creation in Genesis 1, then clarifies its most important details, especially of the sixth day, in Genesis 2. There is no contradiction here, merely a common literary device describing an event from the general to the specific.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)