Q&A: Replenish the Earth

Replenish the Earth

Question

In Genesis 1:28 God told Adam to replenish the earth. Was the earth full of other people before Adam?

Answer

Genesis 1:28 (KJV) 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."
While the Hebrew term male' may mean "refill" or "fill," the context of the verse determines its meaning, In Genesis 1:28 it means "fill." The NIV translates the word better:
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

In the case of the Noah, it means "refill" (Gen. 9:1; cf. Gen. 8:17; 9:7).

Adam was the first created human being (1 Cor. 15:45), and then Eve, who became the "mother of all living" (Gen. 3:20). From one blood God created all humanity (Acts 17:26). They were commanded to "fill" the earth with God's image (God's church, God's people, God's elect, etc.). Ultimately, they will be the only ones who will inhabit it (Rev. 21).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).