What Does the Bible Really Teach About the Earth Being Flat?

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9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 140 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Answers from the Bible

A more entertaining post. Sadly, this subject has become more commonly accepted that one might think, so here are some ready responses. Simply saying the earth is circular or a sphere will no longer be satisfactory. The world is full of skeptics. Yes, Peter says we are to always being prepared to make a defense (Gr. apologia) to anyone who asks, even to silly questions. Thus, we do not take silly questions by responding in a mockery tone, as Peter we said we do so with gentleness and respect.

1 Peter 3:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (Gr. apologia) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

The Bible in no way teaches that the earth is flat but we will look at verses that are often misconstrued. While it is of stated that the Bible is not a science textbook when it touches on science, there are no contradictions and it is accurate. The Bible is completely reliable and trustworthy.

The Bible refers to God as the “he who sits above the circle (חוּג chug) of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:22) Edwin Yamauchi writes, “Some have held that Isa 40:22 implies the sphericity of the earth. It may, but it may refer only to the Lord enthroned above the earth with its obviously circular horizon. Note the remarkable concept given in Job 26:7.”[1] Many scholars do not support this contention that the word in Isaiah 40:22 rendered “circle” could mean a sphere, and the Bible in no wat supports the flat earth theory.

How to Interpret the Bible-1 INTERPRETING THE BIBLE how-to-study-your-bible1

Intended Meaning of Writer

First, the Bible student needs to understand the level that the Bible intends to be exact in what is written. If Jim told a friend that 650 graduated with him from high school in 1984, it is not challenged, because it is all too clear that he is using rounded numbers and is not meaning to be exactly precise. This is how God’s Word operates as well. Sometimes it means to be exact, at other times, it is simply rounding numbers, in other cases, the intention of the writer is a general reference, to give readers of that time and succeeding generations some perspective. Did Samuel, the author of judges, intend to author a book on the chronology of Judges, or was his focus on the falling away, oppression, and the rescue by a judge, repeatedly. Now, it would seem that Jeremiah, the author of 1 Kings was more interested in giving his readers an exact number of years.

Acts 2:41 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

As you can see here, numbers within the Bible are often used with approximations. This is a frequent practice even today, in both written works and verbal conversations.

Acts 7:2-3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
And Stephen said:
“Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’

If you were to check the Hebrew Scriptures at Genesis 12:1, you would find that what is claimed to have been said by God to Abraham is not quoted word-for-word; it is simply a paraphrase. This is a normal practice within Scripture and in writing in general.

Numbers 34:15 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 The two and a half tribes have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan opposite Jericho, eastward toward the sunrising.”

Just as you would read in today’s local newspaper, the Bible writer has written from the human standpoint, how it appeared to him. The Bible also speaks of “to the end of the earth” (Psalm 46:9), “from the four corners of the earth” (Isa 11:12), and “the four winds of the earth” (Revelation 7:1). These phrases are still used today.

Unexplained Does Not mean Unexplainable

Considering that there are 31,173 verses in the Bible, encompassing 66 books written by about 40 writers, ranging from shepherds to kings, an army general, fishermen, tax collector, a physician, and on and on, and being penned over a 1,600 year period, one does find a few hundred Bible difficulties (about one percent). However, 99 percent of those are explainable. Yet no one wants to be so arrogant to say that he can explain them all. It has nothing to do with the inadequacy of God’s Word but is based on human understanding. In many cases, science or archaeology and the field of custom and culture of ancient peoples have helped explain difficulties in hundreds of passages. Therefore, there may be less than one percent left to be answered, yet our knowledge of God’s Word continues to grow.

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE

 What did the Bible author mean by “the four corners of the earth”?

Speaking of such things as the sun rising, the four corners of the earth or the rounding off of number approximations are all from a human perspective. The idioms “the four corners of the earth” and “the ends of the earth” should not be taken literally, as though the earth was flat or had ends. (Isaiah 11:12; Job 37:3) Rather, these obviously idioms, that is, they are figures of speech, which are referring to the entire surface of the earth. Luke, the physician, used the four points of the compass similarly.​ (Luke 13:29) As was stated above, we use these same kinds of expressions today from a human perspective when we talk about the earth.

The Hebrew term translated “corners” or “ends” seems to be an idiom based on the word for “wings.” According to The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “The ‘corners’ or ‘ends’ of the earth are its ‘wings’ (Heb. kanep̱ôṯ hāʾārneṣ), i.e., its borders or extremities. Because the wing of a bird is used as a covering for its young, Heb. kānāp̱ acquires the meaning of the extremity of anything stretched out. In Isa. 11:12; Job 37:3 the term means the coasts, boundaries, or extremities of the land surface of the earth. In Ezk. 7:2 the ‘four-corners’ are the extremities of the land in the four cardinal directions. The concept of ‘extremities’ also occurs in Rev. 7:1; 20:8 (Gk. gonía).”[2]

The Holy Spirit_02 THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

How are we to understand the Devil’s temptation of Jesus?

When tempting Jesus, “the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” (Matthew 4:8) This text is used by the flat earthers to argue that the Bible teaches that the entire planet earth is visible from any single spot on a flat earth. Leon Morris writes, “The fact that there is no mountain from which all the world may be seen literally favors the view that the tempter brings all this before the mind of Jesus.”[3] Donald A. Hagner agrees that it isn’t to be taken literally, but should be taken as a metaphor and not a physical location. “εἰς ὄρος ὑψηλὸν λίαν, ‘to a very high mountain,’ is probably not to be taken literally, as can be seen from the following clause. (For evidence concerning a mythical mountain with similar panoramas, cf. Rev 21:10; 2 Apoc. Bar. 76:3. See Foerster, TDNT 5:486.) The reference, however, does have literal associations. Moses was commanded to go to the top of Pisgah (Mount Nebo) and from there not only to survey the promised land (Deut 34:1–4) but to look in every direction (Deut 3:27)—which the rabbis took symbolically to mean to survey the whole world (references in Gerhardsson, Testing, 63).”[4]

The above interpretations are reasonable because, 

  • Leon Morris is correct in that the highest literal mountain on earth would not enable anyone to view all the kingdoms of the world.
  • Note that Satan not only showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world but also “their glory.” Taken literally, this would be impossible to not only see all of the kingdoms but even the detailed glory. Therefore, it is likely that the Devil used a vision to show these kingdoms and their glory to Jesus. We can Google all of these images today with our electronic devices, which would be similar to the experience that Jesus had.

When we turn to the parallel account at Luke 4:5, it says that the devil took him [Jesus] up and showed him “all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,” giving us extra details that we do not get in Matthew. This take literally is not even possible with normal human eyesight, perfect divine human, or not. This means that the Devil carried out this temptation to Jesus by way of some other means than his literal human sight.

The Hubble Telescope Images of the Solar System

Members of the Flat Earth Society and other flat-Earthers claim that NASA and other government agencies conspire to delude the public into believing the Earth is spherical. According to the most widely spread version of current flat-Earth theory, NASA is guarding the Antarctic ice wall that surrounds Earth. Flat-Earthers argue that NASA photoshops its satellite images, based on observations that the color of the oceans changes from image to image and that continents seem to be in different places. The publicly perpetuated image is kept up through a large-scale practice of “compartmentalization”, according to which only a select number of individuals have knowledge about the truth. – Wikipedia.

We know from the telescopes that we have that all planets in our solar system are circular. This would mean that only earth just so happened to be flat. Moreover, the planets that w can see in other solar systems are circular as well. Of course, to the flat earther, this is all conjecture and more photoshopped images by NASA. You cannot reason with the unreasonable, you cannot be rational with the irrational. Flat earthers are trying to impose on the Bible authors what they never intended to convey. In other words, they are reading their beliefs into the Scriptures (eisegesis); instead, of taking the author’s intended meaning out of the Scriptures (exegesis).

A sequential view of the lunar eclipse that occurred on April 15, 2014. You can see Earth's shadow crossing the face of the Moon, and the shadow's shape is curved because Earth is spherical.Javier Sánchez

A sequential view of the lunar eclipse that occurred on April 15, 2014. You can see Earth’s shadow crossing the face of the Moon, and the shadow’s shape is curved because Earth is spherical. – Javier Sánchez

What you would see if you watched an ant crawling toward you over a curved surface. – Moriel Schottlender. If you are standing before an ocean and you see a huge ship coming, it does not all of sudden appear out of nowhere, it appears a little at a time, as it is coming over the horizon.

Stargazing on a round Earth. – Moriel Schottlender. There are different stars on different sies of the earth that would not be seen on a flat ear.

Stargazing on a flat Earth. – Moriel Schottlender

With two sticks in the ground some distance apart on a flat earth, the shadow lines would be the same length.

With two sticks in the ground some distance apart on a round earth, the shadow lines would not be the same length.

The horizon of the earth from a plane.

THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1 Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

NOTE: Some insights and images come from Popular Science.

[1] Edwin Yamauchi, “615 חוּג,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 267.

[2] R. K. Harrison, “Earth, Corners of the,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 4.

[3] Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 77.

[4] Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 1–13, vol. 33A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1993), 68.

  1. Natalie Wolchover, Live Science Staff (30 May 2017). “Are Flat-Earthers Being Serious?”Live Science. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  2. ^ Moshakis, Alex (2018-05-27). “Is the Earth flat? Meet the people questioning science”The ObserverISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 2020-09-10.

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2 thoughts on “What Does the Bible Really Teach About the Earth Being Flat?

Add yours

  1. Just a couple questions:
    1. Does the Bible describe earth as speeding through space at thousands of miles per hour, or as unmovable?
    2. Genesis clearly states that the Sun was created on day 4 of the creation week. What was earth orbiting around during days 1 through 3 of creation? How are we to reconcile that fact with the current scientific models which clearly state that earth came billions of years after the sun?

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