Did The Genesis Flood Cover The Whole World?

by David Dann

September 28, 2000

     As he began to instruct Noah concerning the building of the ark, God said, "And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die" (Gen. 6:17).

     The story of Noah and the flood is perhaps one of the most well known stories in the Bible. However, it is also one of the most frequently attacked stories in Scripture. It comes as no surprise that atheists have for many years attempted to disprove the validity of the Bible by claiming that a global flood could not possibly have taken place. Those who reject the possibility of such a worldwide catastrophe do so based upon current evolutionary theories. These theories assert that the past several thousand years of earth's history have proceeded in a uniform manner, uninterrupted by any catastrophic event of global proportions. While we may expect this sort of behavior from an atheist who upholds the ever-changing theories of evolution as his standard, it is very disturbing to see Christians, who claim to follow the never-changing standard of God's word, reject the possibility of a worldwide flood. Many are saying that the flood of Noah's day was simply a local flood that was limited to a certain region. They claim that references in Genesis to the destruction of the world only point to the portion of the world inhabited by man, which they affirm to have been a relatively small portion in those days. What shall we say to these things? If the Scriptures do not teach that the flood was global in extent, then those who reject the possibility of such a flood are to be commended for their clear perception of the facts in this case. What does the Bible say about the flood? Was it regional, or was it global? Let's consider:

The Genesis Record

     1. Plain statements in Genesis speak of a global flood. God told Noah, "The end of all flesh is come before me" (Gen. 6:13). He also said, "I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die" (Gen. 6:17). These statements are too inclusive to limit the destruction of the flood to a local area. Once the flood came upon the earth we are told that, "the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered" (Gen. 7:19). In the very next verse the record says, "the mountains were covered" (Gen. 7:20). What kind of flood can cover the mountains? Only a flood that covers the entire earth. The results of the flood also describe a worldwide catastrophe. "And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark" (Gen. 7:23). The plain statements of Genesis make it clear that the destruction of the flood was indeed global in extent.

     2. The rainbow covenant indicates a global flood. After the flood God made a covenant with Noah and his descendants, signified by the rainbow. God said, "And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth" (Gen. 9:11). God promised to never again allow a flood of water to bring about the type of destruction described in Genesis. Now, if the Genesis flood was merely a local flood, then God has broken his covenant numerous times. Thousands of local floods have brought destruction upon the inhabitants of the world since the days of Noah. Therefore, the Genesis flood could not have been a local flood, since God is he "who cannot lie" (Titus 1:2).

     3. The need for an ark indicates a global flood. God commanded Noah to build a huge ark in order to preserve his life and the life of his family (Gen. 6:14-15). Would this ark have been necessary had the flood only covered a certain regional area? Certainly not. In the case of a local flood, God could have simply commanded Noah to travel a safe distance away from the affected area. Furthermore, God commanded Noah to take every kind of animal and bird into the ark in order to "keep them alive" (Gen. 6:20). Why would this be necessary in the case of a local flood? The birds, in particular, could have easily migrated to safety. The local flood theory turns the commands of God concerning the ark into nonsense.

The Testimony Of Jesus

     In Luke 17 Jesus speaks of the global destruction of the Genesis flood. Concerning the days of Noah, he says, "They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all" (Lk. 17:27). In the same context Jesus says, "the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all" (Lk. 17:29). The Lord uses these two instances to speak of total destruction. Every single person who remained in the city of Sodom was destroyed, just as every single person in the world who remained outside the ark was destroyed in the flood.

The Testimony Of Peter

     In 2 Peter 3, the apostle compares the destruction of the world that is to take place at the second coming of Christ with the destruction of the world that took place in the Genesis flood. Concerning the globally catastrophic nature of the flood, Peter says, "the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" (2 Pet. 3:6). The flood's destruction is compared with the day in which "the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Pet. 3:10). If the flood was limited to a local area, then the destruction at Christ's return will be local as well.


     The Scriptures are very clear in affirming the Genesis flood to have been a worldwide catastrophic event. Those who teach that the flood was limited to a certain region of the world are not doing so based upon what the Scriptures teach. Instead, they have succumbed to the pressures of current evolutionary thought concerning our planet's geologic history. Let us be on guard against such "science falsely so called" (1 Tim. 1:20).

David Dann
2 Wesley Street #5
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M8Y 2W3
Office: (416) 255-8998
Home: (416) 503-0566

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