Examining Supposed Creation Passages in Matthew to 2 Corinthians

Listed from A Matter of Days by Hugh Ross, Part 6

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Introduction

In a series of articles,1 I have examined the list of creation passages from the Bible (apart from the creation account of Genesis 1–2) compiled by Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe (RTB). Ross argues that inclusion of these texts along with the creation account of Genesis 1–2 leads to the conclusion that the world is billions of years old. In the first article, I gave an overview of Ross’ argument, identified six types of errors Ross committed in assembling his list, and began a review of the passages on his list coming from the Old Testament. I completed that survey of the Old Testament in the subsequent four articles preceding this.2 In this sixth article, I turn my attention to New Testament passages, working through 2 Corinthians.

Matthew 2:1–16

Matthew 2:1–16 is the well-known account of the magi. There is no reason for claiming this as a creation passage. Apparently, according to Ross, the mere mention of an astronomical body, a star, qualifies this as a creation passage. The only other possibility is that the mention of a new star suggests to Ross that God is still in the process of creating long after the six days of the creation week. However, it is unclear what that would mean. The same could be said regarding any and all of Christ’s creative miracles in the Gospels. This passage thus has no bearing on the age of the earth; it has no connection to Genesis 1–2.

Matthew 5:18

In Matthew 5:18, Jesus stated that until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle will pass from the Law until all is fulfilled. Once again, the mere mention of heaven and earth seems to qualify this as a creation passage in Ross’ estimation. This clearly is not a passage about creation, and it cannot reveal more information about the creation event. The only thing that it does tell us about the created universe concerns its end, not its beginning.

Matthew 19:4–6

Jesus used the doctrine of creation to refute what the Pharisees were teaching.

These verses are part of Jesus’ response to some Pharisees’ question about divorce. This passage includes direct quotes from Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24, and in that sense refers to creation. Therefore, it is a creation passage. However, Jesus used the doctrine of creation to refute what the Pharisees were teaching. Matthew 19:4–6 sheds no new light on the creation. If anything, Christ’s use of the phrase “from the beginning” argues against Ross’ position. In Ross’ estimation, creation had been around roughly 13.8 billion years before Adam came on the scene. In what sense then, was marriage, “from the beginning”? This passage thus strongly implies a recent creation and not billions of years as Ross maintains.

Matthew 22:23–32

In similar manner to the preceding passage, in Matthew 22:23–32 Jesus used the Pentateuch to refute what the Sadducees taught about the resurrection. However, this time Jesus quoted from Exodus 3:6. There is no reference to creation here, so there is no reason to have included this passage on the RTB list.3

Matthew 24:35

In Matthew 24:35, Jesus said that heaven and earth will pass away, but his words will not pass away. The passing away of heaven and earth to make way for the new heaven and new earth (2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1 and 7) is yet future. Hence, this verse is not about the creation. Once again, the mere mention of heaven and earth appear to qualify a biblical passage as a creation passage in Ross’ view.

Matthew 25:41 and 46

These two verses describe the eternal punishment of the lost. It is a mystery why they are included on the RTB list of creation passages.

Mark 10:6

Mark 10:2–9 is a parallel account of Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ question about divorce previously discussed (cf. Matthew 19:4–6; see above).

Mark 12:25–27

Mark 12:18–27 is a parallel account of Jesus’ response to the Sadducees on their question concerning the resurrection (cf. Matthew 22:23–32; see above).

Luke 3:35–37

We presume here that Ross is referring to the addition of the “extra” Cainan to the pre-Abrahamic genealogy of Christ, which he and others have used to claim that there are gaps in the Genesis genealogies. It should be noted that no shortage of sources can be mustered which argue that the additional mention of Cainan in Luke 3:36 is a copyist’s error that has been inadvertently preserved (note that the second Cainan does not appear in the 1 Chronicles 1 record), which militates against any suspicion about the integrity of the genealogical record.4 In any case, even granting that Ross was correct on this point, he would gain only hundreds or (at most) thousands of years, not the billions his view of origins requires. That said, this passage certainly does nothing to cause us to redefine the Genesis 1–2 creation account.

Luke 13:1–4

Luke 13:1–5 is the account of people informing Jesus of Pilate having some Galileans killed while offering their sacrifices in Jerusalem. This must be a typographical error, for this does not appear to have anything to do with creation.

Luke 20:34–38

These verses are contained within Luke 20:27–40, which is a parallel account of Jesus answering the Sadducee’s question about the resurrection (cf. Matthew 22:23–32; see above).

John 1:1–2

John 1:3 ought to be included with these two verses. These verses do concern creation, because they identify Jesus as the Creator. However, this is the only new information provided here, and this certainly does not lead to the conclusion of billions of years or the big bang.

John 1:10

As with John 1:1–3, this verse identifies Jesus as the Creator. However, no other new information not found in the Genesis creation account is provided.

John 2:6–10

It is not clear why this would be considered a creation passage, other than the fact that it demonstrates that, as Creator, Jesus had control over the world.

John 2:1–11 is the account of Jesus’ first miracle, changing the water into wine at the marriage feast in Cana. The miracle is described in verses 6–10. It is not clear why this would be considered a creation passage, other than the fact that it demonstrates that, as Creator, Jesus had control over the world. This is not a creation passage and hence sheds no new light on the Genesis creation account.

John 14:2–4

John 14:2–4 is the famous passage wherein Jesus told his disciples that his Father’s house has many dwelling places, and that if Jesus were to go there and prepare places for them, he would return again to take them there. This is not a creation passage.

John 16:7–11

In John 16:7–11, Jesus promised his disciples that when he left, he would send the Holy Spirit. Again, this is not a creation passage.

Acts 4:24

Upon the release of John and Peter (Acts 4:1–23), they reported to the Christians what the chief priests and elders had told them. Acts 4:24–31 gives the response of the fellow believers. It begins in verse 24 with the acknowledgment that God made the heaven and earth and all that is in them. This is a direct quote of Exodus 20:11, and a near quote of Nehemiah 9:6 and Psalm 146:6. It is a reiteration of an important truth concerning the creation event, but it is hardly an expansion on what the Scriptures have already said.

Acts 14:17

This may be a typographical error. The setting includes the men of Lystra who mistook Paul and Barnabas for gods and intended to offer sacrifices to them (Acts 14:8–18). Since Paul and Barnabas were not gods and hence incapable of creation, they based their response on what the Scriptures teach about creation. As in Acts 4:24, they quoted Exodus 20:11 in acknowledging God as the Creator of the heavens, earth, and all that is in them (Acts 14:15). This may be the intended verse, because verse 17 is much weaker in its connection to creation. Verse 17 states that while God allowed all nations to go their own way (verse 16), God did not leave them entirely without a witness. Rather, God provided rain and fruitful seasons, which, according to Romans 1:19–20, was sufficient to provide evidence of God’s existence.

This is one of the passages Ross cites as positive evidence for nature being the “67th book of the Bible”.5 However, Ross greatly overstates the purpose of general revelation and uses his flawed interpretation of the natural world’s history to override the plain meaning of propositional statements contained in special revelation. In contradistinction to Ross’ method, it is necessary to recognize the limits of general revelation and interpret it in the light of Scripture.6 As such, there is nothing here that would indicate the need to reinterpret the creation account of Genesis 1–2.

Acts 17:24–28

This passage comes from Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22–34). Paul began his sermon by saying that God made the world and everything in it and that he is Lord over heaven and earth (verse 24). In verse 26, Paul stated that all men came from one man (Adam). These acknowledgments qualify these verses as a creation passage, but no new information is provided by these verses, and so one cannot use this passage to reinterpret the rather clear Genesis creation account.

Romans 1:18–23

This is a key passage to those who promote the dual revelation theory7 to the extent that they assert that human interpretation of natural revelation may be used to reinterpret the account of Genesis in terms of what they think that science indicates. Verse 20 mentions creation in that it states that “from the creation of the world” God’s invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, have been known so that men are without excuse. These verses set the stage for the rest of the book of Romans, which teaches that men are wicked sinners in need of redemption. Thus, while these verses mention creation, the subject is not creation. Rather, creation is the foundation of what follows. Since creation is mentioned, this qualifies as a creation passage according to Ross’ criterion, although no new information about the creation event is provided beyond what Genesis has already revealed.

Romans 2:12–16

It is not clear why Ross considers this a creation passage. Perhaps it is the statement that the Law is written in the hearts of men. As with the preceding passage, these verses have something to say about natural revelation, but they do not insinuate that it may be interpreted in such a manner as to overrule God’s special (verbal) revelation. In fact, the broader context indicates the superiority of God’s verbal revelation in Scripture (Romans 3:2). In any case, there is nothing in this passage to indicate that Genesis 1–2 must be understood in light of old-earth and big bang models.

Romans 5:12–17

The only connection that this passage has with creation is the comparison of Jesus Christ with Adam. It speaks of death reigning from Adam until Moses and goes on to contrast the transgression of one (Adam), bringing death to all—with the single act of righteousness of one (Christ), resulting in justification for all. This is an important Christian doctrine and underlines the importance of an historical Adam. However, there is no information about creation that Genesis didn’t already reveal.

Romans 8:18–25

Which meaning for creation is correct for the four times that it appears in Romans 8:18–25?

Many recent creationists think that Romans 8:18–25 describes the second law of thermodynamics.8 Interestingly, Ross thinks that Romans 8:18–25 is about the second law of thermodynamics too.9 The difference is that recent creationists who believe this also think that the second law came into operation at the time of the fall, while Ross believes that the second law of thermodynamics was present from the creation. How can these two camps reach similar but very different conclusions? Part of the problem stems from at least two different meanings that the word creation can have. Creation often refers to the acts over six days that brought the world into existence in Genesis 1–2. However, creation also can refer to the state of the natural world today, that is, how the things that God originally created exist now. Which meaning for creation is correct for the four times that it appears in Romans 8:18–25? Several clues help us to determine the answer to this question.

First, notice that we, as believers, are treated separately from the creation. Verse 22 likens the groaning and suffering that the whole universe undergoes to those of childbirth. Verse 23 then states that we, having the first fruits of the spirit, also groan within ourselves while eagerly awaiting the adoption of sons and the redemption of our body. Second, the creation was subjected to futility (verse 20), but the creation will be set free from its bondage to corruption (verse 21). Ross argues that this groaning and bondage to corruption is to be equated with the second law of thermodynamics, which was put in place at creation. Many recent creationists also see this as the second law of thermodynamics, but they insist that this was a direct result of man’s fall. There is a clear link here between our redemption and the redemption of the creation. This link makes no sense if the two do not share in the consequences of the fall. Furthermore, verse 20 states that the creation was subjected to futility (vanity in the KJV). The meaning of futility refers to the inability to achieve a goal or purpose. However, the original creation was described by God as “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Anderson (2013) has argued that “very good” refers to completeness or purpose. The futility of creation in Romans 8:20 is incompatible with this. Hence, the creation described in Romans 8:18–25 must refer to the creation as it now exists, not as it existed originally. That is, drastic changes in the world came about at the time of the fall. However, we respectfully disagree with many of our fellow recent creationists that the second law of thermodynamics was invoked at the fall. As Faulkner has pointed out,10 there are compelling reasons to believe that the second law of thermodynamics existed from the beginning of creation, and hence the results of the fall refer to other aspects of the world rather than entropy.

We conclude that Romans 8:18–25 is about creation as it now exists and does not shed light upon the original creation.

Romans 8:28–30

This is the famous passage that assures us that all things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. We are at a loss to understand how this is a creation passage. The only thing that is of relevance to our discussion is that God’s foreknowledge spoken of in this passage extends back before the creation event, but this does nothing to warrant any sort of a reinterpretation of Genesis 1–2.

Romans 8:37–39

It is not clear why Romans 8:37–39 qualifies as a creation passage. Perhaps it is the inclusion of the phrase “any created thing” in the list of things that will not separate us from the love of God. This hardly gives new information about creation.

Romans 14:5–8

The inclusion of Romans 14:5–8 on the RTB list of creation passages is a mystery. The context is Paul’s description of Christian liberty in relation to the observance of particular days (such as the Sabbath). The only tenuous connection that we could see is the mention of days, which in Genesis 1 is a point of disagreement between recent creationists and creationists who believe in billions of years. If that were the intent, the days discussed in Romans 14:5–8 clearly are normal days, not periods of time. So the mystery remains.

1 Corinthians 2:9–11

This passage contains a quotation of Isaiah 64:4. When we discussed Isaiah 64:4, we speculated that that verse was listed as a creation passage because of the use of the phrase “from days of old.” However, Paul’s quotation here does not include those words. Perhaps the new heavens and new earth (cf. Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1) implied by those things that “God has prepared” for us is what Ross had in mind when preparing this list of creation passages. However, they are not explicitly mentioned, and since the future heavens and earth are not described here, this passage cannot shed light on the future creation, much less the original creation.

1 Corinthians 3:12–15

First Corinthians 3:12–15 contrasts building on the foundation of Jesus Christ either with gold, silver, and precious stones, or with wood, hay, and straw. In the Day of Judgment, a man’s works will be tested by fire, and he will be rewarded accordingly. How this relates to creation is unclear. Is it because of the mention of day? Or is it because it refers to a future event and hence might be construed as part of the new heaven and new earth? Without clear direction, it is not at all clear what this might teach about the original creation.

1 Corinthians 4:9

In 1 Corinthians 4:9, Paul describes the apostles as men condemned to death because they have become a spectacle to the world. How this relates to the creation event is unknown. Is it because it mentions the world?

1 Corinthians 6:3

In admonishing believers not to sue fellow Christians, Paul asked, first, if the readers did not know that they will one day judge angels and, second, if they understood how much more they were qualified to judge matters of this life? The only possible connection that we can see is that the act of judging is future, relegated to the eschaton. However, at best this is implied, and this passage says nothing of the creation event.

1 Corinthians 6:13

In addressing sexual immorality, the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:13 wrote that food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Perhaps the implied connection once again is to the future state. It seems more likely that this is a typographical error in the RTB list, in that 1 Corinthians 6:16 quotes from Genesis 2:24 that two engaged in a sexual relationship are “one flesh.” This would be a direct connection to the creation account, though it is questionable if any information not found in Genesis is revealed here. In any case, 1 Corinthians 6:13 is not a creation passage.

1 Corinthians 8:4–6

In discussing eating foods sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 8), the Apostle Paul pointed out that there is only one true God (verse 4). Verse 6 acknowledges both God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as Creator of all things but especially of humanity. Thus, this qualifies as a creation account by Ross’ definition. However, the only new information here that the Genesis creation account does not provide is the fact that Jesus is specifically stated to be the Creator (cf. John 1:1–10). This does not constitute grounds for reinterpretation of the Genesis creation account as Ross implies with his list.

1 Corinthians 11:8–12

In 1 Corinthians 11:2–16, the apostle Paul discussed head coverings for women. Man was created first (verse 8), and woman was created for man (verse 9; cf. Genesis 2:18). This is a direct appeal to the creation account, so it technically qualifies as a creation account under Ross’ criterion. However, the issue that the passage addresses is not creation. As with so many passages on the RTB list, no new information about the creation event is provided here, so there is no basis for reinterpreting the Genesis creation account because of this passage.

1 Corinthians 15:20–28

Paul makes a direct link between the introduction of death through Adam and the resurrection through Christ.

First Corinthians 15 is a critically important passage, the focus of which is the centrality of Christ’s resurrection to the Christian faith (verses 12–19). In verses 20–28, Paul makes a direct link between the introduction of death through Adam and the resurrection through Christ. This relies upon the truth of Adam’s fall in Genesis 3, which is directly connected to the creation narrative. Everyone agrees that the resurrection referred to here is both spiritual and physical; but some, such as Ross, argue that the death referred to here is entirely spiritual, not both physical and spiritual.11 Consequently, Ross’ interpretation destroys the validity of Paul’s argument. Why would there be need of a physical resurrection to validate Christ’s power over spiritual death only? That said, while 1 Corinthians 15:20–28 refers back to Genesis 3, it reveals no additional information about the creation or the fall. It does not lead us to question the clear reading of Genesis that there was no death prior to the fall; instead, it bolsters the traditional reading of the Genesis account.

1 Corinthians 15:35–58

First Corinthians 15:35–58 continues Paul’s discussion of the resurrection. Paul likened the resurrection to the growth of a plant from a seed (verses 35–38). In contrasting the differences between the perishable and the imperishable bodies, Paul compared different kinds of animal and celestial bodies (verses 39–49). In verse 45, Paul quoted Genesis 2:5 and went on to contrast the first Adam and the last Adam. Paul concluded the chapter with the promise that our bodies will be changed from perishable to imperishable and from mortal to immortal. He quoted Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 in his statements about the conquering of death. The only allusion to creation in 1 Corinthians 15:35–58 is the mention of Adam. Thus, these verses could be considered a creation passage with Ross’ definition. However, as with the earlier portion of this chapter, there is no new information about the creation event provided here, and so it does not alter our understanding of the Genesis creation account.

2 Corinthians 3:7–11

Put bluntly, we are at a loss to grasp the intended relationship of this passage to the creation event.

2 Corinthians 4:10–12

The intended connection of this passage to the creation event is unclear. Perhaps it is mention of death, which relates to the fall in Genesis 3. However, that does not provide us with any new information that would warrant the reinterpretation of Genesis 1–2.

2 Corinthians 4:16–18

Second Corinthians 4:16 contrasts the decay of our physical bodies with the daily renewal of our inner man. The following two verses emphasize the eternal gain to come. The intended allusion to creation probably is the comment on the current physical decay of our bodies, though the future new heaven and new earth might be intended. Either way, this does not amount to a creation passage under Ross’ definition.

2 Corinthians 5:1–4

Building upon the previous passage, Paul compared our current bodies to an earthly home. In this state, we groan for a heavenly home built by God. Again, the intended allusion to creation is either the current decay that we experience or the promise of a new heaven and new earth, along with new, incorruptible bodies. As before, this is not a creation passage.

2 Corinthians 5:14

This single verse encapsulates the gospel—one (Jesus) died for all; therefore, all died. The all who died refers to believers dying with Christ to sin (Romans 6:8–11). We do not see how this is a creation passage.

Conclusion

In this sixth article of a series, I began the examination of New Testament passages from the RTB list of creation passages in the Bible. As with the Old Testament passages on the list (the subject of the first five articles in the series), the New Testament passages do not overturn the clear text of the Genesis 1–2 creation account that the world was created in six normal days. In the seventh and concluding article of this series, I will finish discussion of the remaining New Testament passages on the RTB list.

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Footnotes

  1. See the articles on Genesis, Exodus Through Job, Psalms, Proverbs Through Isaiah, and Jeremiah to Zechariah.
  2. See the articles on Exodus Through Job, Psalms, Proverbs Through Isaiah, and Jeremiah to Zechariah.
  3. Perhaps Ross is attempting to show that life in the new creation does not correspond to life in the original creation prior to the fall (i.e., there was marriage before the fall in the original creation, but there is not marriage in the new creation). However, this only illustrates one distinction. It does not, therefore, serve to overturn the arguments that young earth creationists have made about the state of the original creation (i.e., that there was no death or suffering prior to the fall) by appealing to passages that refer to Eden-like conditions in the new creation (e.g., Revelation 21:1–4; 22:3).
  4. Since Luke compiled his account from written documents and eyewitness testimony (cf. Luke 1:1–3), it seems highly likely that he would have been working off the genealogies in Genesis and Chronicles to begin with; so only a later copyist’s mistake can explain the anomaly in Luke 3:36.
  5. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994), 57.
  6. Cf. Psalm 19; Richard Mayhue, “Is Nature the 67th Book of the Bible?” (in Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth, eds. Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Ury, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2008), 119.
  7. In critiquing the “dual revelation theory,” we are by no means denying two sources of revelation—natural and special. Rather, we are denying that the two forms of revelation are equivalent in their ability to communicate specific truths (namely as it relates, in this case, to matters of earth’s history). We are likewise denying that man’s fallible interpretation of non-verbal natural revelation may properly be used to overturn the clear sense of the verbal revelation of infallible Scripture. See Richard Mayhue, “Is Nature the 67th Book of the Bible?,” 105–129.
  8. See the discussion and references in D. R. Faulkner, “The Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Curse,” Answers Research Journal 6 (2013): 399–407, https://answersingenesis.org/physics/the-second-law-of-thermodynamics-and-the-curse/.
  9. Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1998), 95–97; Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress 2004), 105–107.
  10. Faulkner, “The Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Curse.”
  11. Ross, Creation and Time, 61.

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