Were the days of creation 24 hours long?

Were they really 6 literal days?


The days of creation were ordinary 24-hour days. Some people have suggested that the “days” of Creation Week were probably long periods of time, maybe millions or billions of years. The reasoning behind this is usually to harmonize the six days of creation in the Book of Genesis with the theory of evolution.

But the Bible has its own amazing way of showing that the “long ages” idea is wrong. We believe the days were real, ordinary, literal days of around 24 hours each. Not billions, millions, or even thousands of years.

Here is why:

Reasons why the days were 24 hours

Note: Some critics have said that Psalm 90:6 is an example of morning and evening being used in a general sense, and that this means Genesis days are not literal 24-hour days.

In the morning it [the grass] flourishes, and grows up; in the evening it is cut down, and withers.

Critics say this refers to the life cycle of grass, growing up in the morning and dying weeks or months later, not the same day.

But note that this reference is nothing like Genesis 1, which says, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” The word day is not even used in Psalm 90:6, and neither is the phrase “evening and morning”, or first, second, third, etc. So it is either naive or deceptive to imply that this is an exception to the rule.

If God and the Bible writers had wanted to tell us that the six days were something other than six literal days, there are many other words they could have used.

Days that are long

There are instances of the word day being used in a longer sense than 24 hours. Just as we might say, “The Flood happened in Noah's day”, meaning in Noah's lifetime, so some versions of the Bible refer to “the day of the Lord” and other phrases meaning a longer period of time than 24 hours.

But none of these other instances have the specifiers that Genesis 1 has in “And the evening and the morning were the first day”, (e.g. first, second, third, fourth, etc., or “evening and morning”).

Sometimes opponents of 24-hour creation days bring up the verse in Hebrews 4 that says “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”, noting that the seventh day isn't mentioned as finishing, therefore it could be thousands of years long. This is often used by Jehovah's Witnesses.

But note that it says God rested on the seventh day, not God is resting. The creative acts of the six days had finished, so we are simply told that God rested from that work.

Does a day equal a thousand years?

Some people think that a day may mean a thousand years, because the Apostle Peter said that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).

But Peter did not say a day is a thousand years. He said it is as a thousand years. He is saying that God is not bound by time; that a thousand years are no more significant than a day in God's eternal scheme of things.

A similar thought appears in Psalm 90:4 — “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

People who say Peter meant that a day is a thousand years are ignoring the second part of Peter's statement, which says a thousand years are as one day. How could we count how many days are in a thousand years if a day means a thousand years? It becomes silly when you try to force a meaning that wasn't intended.

Not an indefinite period either

The passage about a day being as a thousand years has also been said to mean that a day is simply a long period of time. But that makes nonsense of Peter's statement. It would mean that Peter was saying that “a long period of time is a thousand years.” See how ridiculous things get when you stray from the straight meaning of Scripture?

Eroding the Gospel

An important point that Christians need to remember is that if the days of creation were long ages, then there are inconsistencies with the Gospel that don't exist if the days were literal, 24-hour days.

For instance:

Rather than believing the evolutionists' idea that fossils took long ages to form, it is wiser for Christians to question whether fossils really need millions of years to form. They don't!

From all this, we believe the clear meaning of the days of creation in the Bible is the obvious one: They were literal, ordinary, 24-hour days. Nothing more and nothing less.

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