For centuries there has been debate as to what Gen 1:1 is actually referring to. Today there are basically three positions,
Of course, the Gapists hold to the first position. They demand that an entire and complete universe was created in Gen 1:1. They insist there was a fully functioning pre-Adamic earth with a civilization containing "cities," "birds," "kings," "nations," "mountains," etc. (Isa 14; Jer 4) in that one verse. One of the many problems with their contention is the very first word of the next verse—"And." Of course, "and" is a conjunction and a conjunction joins related passages together expressing continuity. However, the Gapists cannot have continuity between Gen 1:1 and 1:2 since they contend the verses refer to completely separate time periods and events.
The Gap Theorists try to use various "literary techniques" to get around the continuity expressed by "And." One is a figure of speech called a polysyndeton. A polysyndeton is "the deliberate insertion of conjunctions into a sentence for the purpose of slowing up the rhythm of the prose so as to produce an impressively solemn note." Or in other words it is the adding of conjunctions for effect. These are found in the Bible with Joshua 7:24 being a prime example,
And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. Jos 7:24
All the occurrences of "and" are there for emphasis. However, even if a passage is marked by polysyndetons (as Genesis 1 may well be), that does not mean there is still not close continuity as Jos 7:24 obviously testifies! Polysyndetons and continuity are not mutually exclusive as the Gapists insinuate. They try to cloud the issue by claiming this figure of speech, but the figure of speech does not verify their claims.
The above second point that states Gen 1:1 refers to the beginning of the present and only creation is one that today is widely held. It does not require any wild theories or conjecture. It just basically states the Lord began creating the basic elements of the universe in Gen 1:1, made a comment about the current formlessness in 1:2, and then formed these elements into the specific items mentioned in the remainder of the chapter. This is a reasonable explanation.
The third above point contends Gen 1:1 is a summary or actually one of the bookends of the creation account along with Gen 2:4. Here it is in outline form,
A. God created (Gen. 1:1a)
B. God (Gen. 1:1b)
C. heavens and earth (Gen. 1:1b)
D. Creating, Forming, and Filling the Earth (Gen. 1:2-31)
C.' heavens and earth (Gen.2:1)
B.' God (Gen. 2:2-3)
A.' God created (Gen. 2:4)
In both Gen 1:1 and 2:4, it says that God "created." Between these two bookends is when all actually was "created" by God (Gen. 1:2-2:3). Thus, these texts are grammatically connected and could viewed as one unit.
Furthermore, Gen 2:4 refers to the creation account as the "generations of the heavens and of the earth," and other generation accounts in the Scriptures lead off with a summary (Gen 5:1, 6:9; 10:1; 11:10).
Obviously, your author rejects point #1. It is based on assumption, conjecture and completely severs Gen 1:1 from the rest of the chapter. Either of the remaining two points are plausible and do not violate the Bible text. Your author leans towards point #3 because of the definitions of "heaven" in 1:8 and "earth" in 1:10, however, point #2 also has merit. Nevertheless, for this study it doesn't really matter, either one fits the "one beginning" viewpoint without issue.
Some may ask here, "What about earth as found in Gen 1:1? According to your point #2 the earth would not have existed then." The word "earth" there is part of the phrase, "the heaven and the earth" which the Jewish Encyclopedia states is the Hebrew way of referring to the universe,
In Hebrew, "heaven and earth" together constitute the universe. The earth has foundations and pillars (I Sam. 2:8; Ps. 75:4, civ. 5; Job 9:6, 38:6); it rests on the ocean, out of which it rises (Ps. 24:2, 136:6); it is suspended in space (Job 26:7)...Like most peoples of antiquity, the Hebrews conceived of the earth as a disk (Prov. 8:27; Job 26:10; Isa. 40:22); and they spoke, therefore, of peoples like the Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, and Medes as living at the ends of the earth (see Gesenius, Commentary on Isaiah, i. 247).
Another source agrees and says the phrase is a "merism" and "the words cannot be understood separately but must be taken as a unity." So primarily when "earth" is joined with "heaven" it speaks of the whole universal environment of existence (land, air, sea, heavens) as being part of the universe (Gen 2:1; Jer 32:7, 51:48; Joe, 3:16; 2Pe 3:7, etc.). As we have repeatedly shown, when used by itself "earth" essentially means land or soil.
Those who adhere to point #2 say the basic elements of the earth were created in Gen 1:1 but not formed into what we know as earth until later in the creation week. Many who follow point #3 say since it is a summary, there was no earth until Gen 1:9-10 where "earth" is specifically formed and defined. As we mentioned, the" earth" of 1:2 is spoken of like one would speak of a cake that has not yet been baked. It is like one saying, "I am ready to eat my birthday cake," when there actually is no cake, only unformed cake batter in a bowl.
One component of the physical world is present in Gen 1:2 without its creation being specifically mentioned, that is "water." One can hear the Gapists saying now, "You say the earth did not show up until Gen 1:9-10, but there is water in vs 2. Where did the water come from and what is it resting on? God must have created it earlier and destroyed the previous earth with it." They do have an imagination, don't they? The answer is simple, the Lord didn't mention His act of creating water just like He didn't mention a whole bunch of other things He already created, like the very building-blocks of physical reality—the matter/space/time continuum if you will!
When the Bible speaks of God creating or making something it usually emphasizes the end result. In Genesis 1 it says he created (after water) heaven, earth, plants, sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, land animals, and finally man. (Notice in vs 20 that the first life mentioned come from water. Water "bring[s] forth" the life of fish and fowl. Interesting.) These are all the end result of creation. However, all these physical objects and creatures are made from smaller and smaller physical matter that God silently created first.
For the water to exist in vs 1:2 God had to create what we know as material or physical reality. Since He is a spirit and dwells in that realm, there was no such thing as space, matter or the laws that govern them until He created the entire concept of physical existence. He created atoms, molecules, energy, matter, space, elements, and a whole host of other physical things man yet knows nothing about. The Lord developed this physical reality with all its intricate balances and laws before He made the first drop of water. Water is made of hydrogen and oxygen. The Lord had to develop those elements and then put them together to form the water. He may have done all this preliminary creating in a instant, we don't know, but common reasoning of our linear way of thinking demands that He must create the principles of reality before the actual reality, even if it is just a millisecond earlier.
Furthermore, if Gen 1:1 is the act of creation of the basic elements of the universe as some hold, then water could have been created then. If 1:1 is a summary, then the basic elements plus water still would have been created before Gen 1:2, only silently.
Thus, according to Genesis chapter 1, the first "end result" physical substance the Lord created was water. The creation of the whole material reality that is required for water to exist is therefore implied. So, as we mentioned, that the time of the specific creation of water is not mentioned in no way implies or even suggests it was created for an earlier Pre-Adamic creation.
The order of creation is the physical reality, then water, light (from which night and day arise), a firmament called "Heaven" (to divide the waters), then the gathering of waters to "let" land appear. The conventional thought is the land was already there from vs 1 and only revealed in vs 9. Sounds nice, but can you prove it? Psalms 95:5 indicates otherwise,
The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.
Take note of the order again, first the sea was made and His very hands formed the "dry land" afterwards! This is the creation of "earth." For another example see Jonah 1:9,
I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
Again, the sea (of water) first and earth or land second.
Genesis chapter 1 and these two verses make three witnesses that fully establish the fact that water was created first and then the "dry land" called "Earth." This fact alone throws a monkey wrench the size of the earth into the Genesis Gap theory.
Notice in vs 9 how the Lord said "let the dry land appear." This matches "Let there be light..." (vs 3), "Let there be a firmament..." (vs 6), Let the earth bring forth grass..." (vs 11), etc. Even if the land was not created as it emerged and the elements it was formed from were earlier under or in the water, there it still no "dry land" or "Earth" until it emerged out of the water in vs 9. "Land" under the water (like a sea bed) is not "dry land" and cannot be considered "earth" by the Bible definition.
Again, some may still try to claim "the earth" in vs 1 speaks of earth as a planet of "earth" flooded with water, but as we said, the Bible knows nothing about "the earth" being a planet. Again, the Scriptures are clear "the earth" refers to "dry land." Look at Gen 1:11-12 for another example,
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass...upon the earth: and it was so....And the earth brought forth grass,
Grass grows on "land." "The earth" in 1:11 speaks only of the "dry land." Still not convinced? Why are you being so incorrigible? In Psa 65:5 David makes a clear distinction between "the earth" and "the sea,"
By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea:
Surely you notice that "all the ends of the earth," which refers to the whole earth, does not include those "upon the sea." "All the ends" includes the whole earth or landmass, but earth does not include anything but "dry land." They are kept distinctly separate.
Even Psalms 24:1-2 shows this distinction,
Here also the earth is said to be founded or established upon the seas. Many quote verse 1 as if it refers to a "planet earth." Verse 2 makes it clear it doesn't.
1, The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2, For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
Are you still dragging your feet? Alright, let's nail it to the wall right here and now in Genesis 1. Look at 1:26,
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Gen 1:28 actually applies the decree,
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
If the earth is the whole "planet" of land, sea and sky, why does God have to even mention the sea and air? He is not being redundant because "the earth" ONLY refers to "dry land" throughout the entire chapter! If all these many scriptural witnesses do not convince you, nothing will. There are three parts to physical reality in the Bible, earth, sea, and sky (which includes the heavens). They are not the same and neither does one encompass or include the other.
Note: Brethren, why is it that your Genesis Gap buddies didn't show you these things? Could it possibly be that they swallowed the Genesis Gap claims without studying it out and adhere to it mainly because of their admiration of someone else? Every last one of them when they talk of "the earth" in Gen 1:1 they are talking about a planet of solid earth (more or less) covered with water. Why did they not show you how earth really means "dry land," that water was created first, the second heaven created next, and no "earth" appears in the Bible until Gen 1:9! These facts don't leave any room for a Genesis Gap do they. Unless...maybe...Lucifer was in the navy!
The phrase "the earth" is found 849 times in the Bible, "earth" is found 987 times. Since the precedent has been set by the Lord Himself that earth is primarily defined as "dry land," there must be significant contextual reasons to treat the words otherwise. Most of the times these words are found they can be understand as "land" or the whole landmass, but in a few instances "the earth" must refer to land, sea and even sky (see Luke 12:56 where "earth" and "sky" are separated). Look at Luke 23:44 where it says,
Obviously, this darkness would have not have just blanketed the land masses but the sea and sky as well, but the emphasis is on the land. These instances are quite few but sometimes earth can represent more than just the landmass even though it never itself includes more than a landmass.
And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
Much of what was said about the earth can be said about "heaven." The "heaven" of vs 1 is not manifested until vs 7-8 where the firmament is called "Heaven." Which heaven is this of the final three heavens? It would have to be the second heaven where the sun and moon reside. This very well could be the "heaven" vs 1 refers to. The first heaven, known to us as the "sky," is created in vs 20. It is called the "open firmament of heaven."
Furthermore, don't neglect the order of creation in vs 1: "the heaven and the earth." This is exactly what happens in the next few verses. In vs 8 He made "Heaven," and in verses 9-10 "Earth." How much clearer do you want?
Notice, now that two heavens have been made Gen 2:1 can truly say,
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
God made the two physical heavens, the dry earth, and everything in them all in the order mentioned in vs 1.