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Did God create everything in six 24-hour days?

Meaning of 'evening' and 'morning'

Meaning of the repetitive phrase

'And there was evening and there was morning – the [number] day' is the concluding phrase for each of the Genesis six days of creation (Genesis 1:5, 1:8, 1:13, 1:19, 1:23, 1:31).

Evening and morning in God's six day creations

When that phrase is interpreted in its most strict and literal sense, it often doesn't make sense when applied in context. For example:

Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds. And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the third day'. (Genesis 1:11-13).

God said 'Let the land produce,' so a strictly literal reading of evening-and-morning into that passage would lead us to believe that the seeds from all the different kinds of plants and trees produced abundant vegetation between evening and morning of one particular day. Obviously, this is not a sensible interpretation because we know that seeds do not germinate, grow and produce abundant vegetation overnight.

'Evening' meant started, 'morning' meant finished

In the modern world, a full 24-hour day is understood to be from sunrise to sunrise, but in ancient Israel, it was from sunset to sunset. We say morning to evening. They said evening to morning.

The repeated phrase 'And there was evening' was a Hebrew way of saying that something new was started. When used together with the phrase 'and there was morning' it was a Hebrew way of saying that something was started and it was finished. The full phrase marked time from the beginning of something to the end of something, which may or may not have been 24-hours, depending on the context.

It's like when we say, 'With young people leaving in vast numbers, it's a new day for the church ...' or 'At end of the day, the investigation will show who was right ...' or 'That day is gone ...' We know from the context that these statements obviously mean a time longer than 24 hours.

No calendar days until Day 4

Furthermore, the repeated phrase was used for Days 1, 2, and 3, even though 24-hour time as we know it did not even exist until Day 4, the time when celestial orbits stabilized and earth's dense cloud cover dissipated so the sun was visible.

The Bible says that light was created on Day 1, so there was already light before Day 4, but it was shrouded in cloud cover. From the earth's perspective, the sources of light (sun, moon, and stars) became visible on Day 4.

The Bible gives the reason why God made the sources of light visible from the earth:

'And God said, Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to make seasons and days and years ... And there was evening, and there was morning – the fourth day' (Genesis 1:14).

This started distinct growing seasons, bird migrations, and human time measurement and navigation.

Time, as we measure it, started on Day 4, so our calendar days didn't even exist in Days 1, 2, and 3. Therefore, the phrase 'and there was morning and there was evening' – used in all six days of creation – does not refer to our calendar days.

No evening-and-morning for 'day' seven

'By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done' (Genesis 2:2-3).

In 'days' one through six, the biblical account of God's creative acts in each period concluded with this phrase: 'And there was evening and there was morning – the [number] day.' But that phrase is missing for 'day' seven.


Because 'day' seven has not yet ended. God is still resting [pausing new creations]. We can confirm this just by looking around at our world. The Bible says that God will resume His creative acts by making a new heaven and a new earth, but for now, changes are only by procreation, evolution (within categories), and physical alterations caused by weather, gravity, and movement of tectonic plates.

Therefore, if 'day' seven is longer than 24 hours, there's no need to constrain any of the other 'days' to 24 hours.

Adam did not die the 'day' he ate the forbidden fruit

'The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, you are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when [bə·yō·wm, in the day when] you eat from it you will certainly die' (Genesis 2:16-17).

NOTE: The NIV Bible tries to avoid the problem by simply saying 'when,' but the correct translation is 'in the day when,' as stated in the Hebrew manuscripts and properly stated in most English translations.

Adam did not die in the 'day' he ate the forbidden fruit, so obviously 'day' means more than 24 hours.

Some Christians dodge the clear meaning by saying that Adam died spiritually on that day. Even so, that just means the start of a long time of separation from God, a separation lasting more than 24 hours. Furthermore, how could Adam experience spiritual death if he never had spiritual life? See Bible study on 'spiritual death.'

By any honest interpretation, it's clear that a 'day' (yō·wm) means more than 24 hours.

To God, a day is like a thousand years

'But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day' (2 Peter 3:8).

The Bible teaches that God's timing is not on the same scale as our timing. It is much larger! We should not try to squeeze God's majestic unfolding creation over the ages into our puny time frame.


Thinkers Bible Studies / Topic 1.2


Did God create everything in six 24-hour days?

for an informed answer
Insight 1: Bible credibility

Why timing matters

The real issue here is whether or not the Bible is a credible book of truth. People conclude that if the Bible is wrong about our origin, it's probably wrong about our destiny too. This is a big barrier to faith.
Insight 2: yō·wm is Hebrew word for Bible creation day

'Day' (Hebrew yō·wm) is an 'age'

From the original Hebrew manuscripts, the word 'yō·wm' has been translated as 'day' in English. This is a correct translation but it can mean either a 24-hour period or a long indefinite time, depending upon the context. See how a careful reading of the creation account in Genesis 1 shows that 'day' is a long period of time.
Insight 3: What God created in each 'day'

What God created in each 'day'

See what God made in each stage of His master design plan. The sequential order is not intuitive, but now confirmed by modern science. The ancient writer of Genesis could not have known God's method and sequence more than three thousand years ago without special knowledge direct from the Creator.

Meaning of 'evening' and 'morning'

The Bible uses a repetitive phrase at the conclusion of each stage of creation, but that doesn't necessarily mean a 24-hour period. In fact, time as we know it didn't even exist until visibility of the sun in Day 4.

Evolution is only within walled categories

There is abundant evidence of evolution within each major category of life, but a life form in one category never morphs into a life form in another category. Humans are not evolved but are a special creation in God's own image. The attributes that most define humans – intellect, laughter, music, art, mathematics, language, worship, etc. – are not evolutionary.

Real age, not 'apparent age'

The apparent age theory says that the earth is not actually old but just looks old. This theory is not biblical, requires a world of fakes, and is incompatible with God's character. God is not deceptive.  

Bible gives eight reasons for long 'day'

See eight passages of scripture which show, right from the Bible, that creation 'day' is longer than a 24-hour calendar day. These verses are usually overlooked in a casual reading of the first three chapters of Genesis.

Tradition vs. Bible

Common Christian belief about the days of creation comes more from tradition than from the Bible. Theologians have debated it for centuries. Prominent theologians have concluded that the Bible does not compel a 24-hour meaning for each 'day.' See reasons why this topic is usually buried in silence.

Here's where we combine the eight Insights to get an informed biblical answer: Did God create everything in six 24-hour days?

The insights here are like pieces of a puzzle. Put the pieces together and see the big picture! Now you'll be prepared to engage intelligently and coherently with anyone on the subject of God's creation days. Also see reader comments.
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Helping Christians engage in intelligent and coherent conversations with doubters and unbelievers