A Question I Was Asked:

Is It True that Certain Verses in Revelation Don't Describe the Earth as a Sphere, or Ball?

I know that the whole flat earth thing is again emerging and I don't really wish to get drawn into it, but is it not interesting that while the Bible refers to the earth as a 'circle,' it does not say it is a 'ball,' or 'sphere.' Would you look at Revelation 20:8-9 and tell me what you think in the references to the shape of the earth in these verses?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, let us briefly look at this:

7. When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8. and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth - Gog and Magog - and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (Revelation 20:7-9).

Okay. Looking at 'four corners' in verse 8, 'corners' there is from the Greek 'gonia,' which is word G1137 in Strongs. It means 'corner,' or 'quarter.' You are correct, it probably does not suggest a ball-shaped earth at all, otherwise 'upala' (ball) would possibly have been used.

Then in verse 9 there is a reference to the 'breadth' of the earth. 'Breadth' is from the Greek 'platos,' our modern anglo-French word 'plateau' is derived from this. It means, 'broad plain,' 'breadth,' or 'width.' G4114 is its Strongs number. So really you are correct; although modern science has insisted that we live on a spherical-shaped earth (mainly due to the teaching of Copernicus), I have to say that the Bible references don't necessarily go along with this.

But it could be wrong to read too much into this. When John was writing the Book of Revelation, I think the shape of our earth was certainly not at the front of his mind, his focus was on other matters. In his day nobody doubted that the earth was a flat, or plateau shaped disc; Copernicus and Galileo were still hundreds of years away into the future. For John - and others of his day - the earth was a stationary and fixed body, and the sun, moon and starts revolved around it. This is the geocentric view of cosmology, the helocentric view - on the other hand - later came to teach that it is the sun which is at the centre of our universe and the earth is actually flying through space at over 1,000 miles per hour. The latter view has been accepted lock,stock and barrel by modern science and it seems to be literally only in the last few years that some aspects of this are starting to be challenged.

So whilst I don't take any particular view on this, I have noted that 'flat-earthism' is making a comeback, a laughing stock for a very long time, some of these people are now producing quite compelling arguments. They teach that the true earth shape is closer to a flattish circle than to the spherical shape which is the way it is always presented to us. It is also intriguing that after many years of NASA photographs, there are still only about eight in existence which claim to show the earth from outer space but all of them have been extensively 'photoshopped' and it is admitted that they are not a precise rendition. If the ISS (international space station) is a reality one wonders why hundreds of pictures of the earth have not been taken.

Robin A. Brace. April 6th, 2017.