Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

8 Jun 2012

What about the Framework Interpretation? (Part 3)

Posted By

With this post I finish my critique of the framework interpretation of the creation week. As I stated in the first post, three major theses support the framework view. Having looked at the first and second arguments, I will focus on the final one in this post.

The Unending Nature of the Seventh Day — The third argument supporting the framework position says that the seventh “day” of the creation “week” is an unending period. Two items are alleged to support the unending nature of Day 7. First, while each of the six days of the creation week are concluded by the evening-morning formula, the description of Day 7 in Genesis 2:1–3 omits the evening-morning formula, implying that it is an ongoing period. Second, Hebrews 4 is said to confirm this understanding of Day 7 with the motif of an eternal Sabbath rest.

In response to this argument, it is necessary to observe how “evening” and “morning” are used in the creation account. The clauses “there was evening” and “there was morning” have a function in the creation narrative of marking a transition from one day of creation to the next. This is to say, an “evening” denotes the conclusion of a period of light when God suspends his creative activity of one day, and the “morning” marks the renewal of light when God resumes his work. Just as the fiat and fulfillment expressions used on each day of creation are not needed on Day 7 because God’s creative activities are finished, so there is no need to use the evening-morning conclusion because God’s work of creation is concluded. Thus, the omission of the evening-morning formula on Day 7 neither proves nor implies that this day was unending. In addition, Hebrews 4 provides no substantive evidence indicating that Day 7 is an eternal day. The eternal rest presented in Hebrews 4 is based on an analogy with God’s creative rest in Genesis 2:1–3. Based upon the Mosaic omission of the evening-morning conclusion, the author of Hebrews is able to use the first Sabbath as a type patterned after God’s eternal rest. We should further note that the actual kind of rest in Genesis 2:2–3 is completely different than the rest in Hebrews 4:3–11. The rest of Genesis 2:2–3 is a cessation from divine creative activity. Only the Creator can cease from that activity. It is absolutely impossible for the creature to experience that cessation. However, the Sabbath-rest of Hebrews 4:3–11 is a rest that the people of God actually experience. Therefore, the “rest” in both contexts cannot be identical. The framework position assumes that the “rest” of Genesis 2 is identical with Hebrews 4. However, instead of assuming that the “rest” of Genesis 2 and Hebrews 4 are identical, framework advocates need to demonstrate this identity.

In conclusion, the framework view poses more exegetical and theological difficulties than it solves, and it does not provide any solid evidence to abandon the traditional, literal reading of Genesis 1–2, which provides the most consistent interpretation of the exegetical and theological details in both chapters.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you for your helpful posts on the FH. In addition to Hebrews 4, C. John Collins appeals to John 5:17, “But Jesus answered them, My Father is working until now, and I am working.” He claims this response makes sense only if God is still enjoying the Sabbath rest he began then. Thus, he concludes, the seventh day is not an ordinary day.

    I’d be interested in your response to his line of reasoning.

    1. Bob McCabe


      John 5:17 in its overall context in John 5 indicates that Jews were prepared to persecute Jesus for healing a man on the sabbath. So Jesus responds in v. 17, as you noted, that He and His Father had been working until now. Based on this verse as well as Hebrews 4:3–11, which draws from Psalm 95:7–11 and Genesis 2:2, suggests that God’s “rest” began when God ceased from his creative activity and still continues until the present. If you would like to read more, see pp. 112-18 of my journal article: “A Defense of Literal Days in the Creation Week.”