The first age of the earth, according to the theory’s proponents, was a time period prior to Genesis 1:2, when human beings existed as pre-incarnate souls. Proponents of a first earth age also point to Genesis 1:1, Jeremiah 4:18, and 2 Peter 3 to support their claims. According to the first earth age concept, God initially created the earth many thousands or millions of years ago, but that world was corrupted by the fall of Satan. In the first earth age view, those who chose to remain loyal to God during that time became the “elect” mentioned in the New Testament and were promised eternal life. In many ways, the first earth age theory is similar to the Mormon teaching of spirit babies. Belief in a first earth age is a subset of the more general gap theory.
While the gap theory generally supposes that there is a long time period covered by Genesis 1:1, belief in the first earth age goes much further by presupposing the existence of human souls prior to the creation of man. Belief in a first earth age does not seem to be very prevalent, and most references to it connect it with Shepherd’s Chapel, led by Arnold Murray. The belief is likewise connected to the false serpent seed doctrine and various levels of anti-Semitic belief. Such associations don’t determine whether it’s true or false, of course, but they do suggest that the first earth age theory be approached with caution and serious scrutiny.
The concept of a first earth age is not biblically sound for several reasons. First, it is not directly supported by the biblical text. Proponents of the first earth age theory refer to various definitions of Greek and Hebrew words that they claim support the idea that there was a “first earth” laid waste prior to the flood. These claims require a heavy dose of bias and do not come naturally from the text or from the definitions of the words in question. Second, and more importantly, the idea of a first earth age is contradicted by passages such as 1 Corinthians 15:46–47, which says that the physical comes prior to the spiritual; this is the opposite of the first earth age model.