Does the Bible say the Earth is flat?


As of late many people have begun believing and thinking the Earth is flat and not a sphere.  Even celebrities and sports stars like Kyrie Irving, Sammy Watkins, Draymond Green, Wilson Chandler, Shaq, B.o.B., Tila Tequila have made comments or jokes about the Earth being flat. So that brings me to my question, does the Bible say the Earth is flat?  I will prove through my research that the Bible does not say the Earth is flat.

There are a lot of passages in the Bible that might indicate that the Earth is flat, but most likely they do not.   You also have to remember that when the Old Testament of the Bible was written by man, stories passed down from generation to generation before being written down, this was before anyone was thinking if the Earth was round or around the same time for the latest books.  They estimate that it was around 500 B.C. when the ancient Greeks starting saying that the Earth is a sphere.  Even up until Christopher Columbus, a lot of people thought the Earth was flat and he was going to fall off the side of the Earth will sailing across the Atlantic Ocean.  This was well after the Bible was completely written.

It is fairly common knowledge that everyone understands that a sphere does not have an edge.  We can travel indefinitely around a sphere and never reach a boundary or edge. On the other hand, if the earth is flat, it must have an edge somewhere, unless the earth is an infinite plane. Bible skeptics are fond of pointing out that the phrase “four corners of the earth” appears three times in the Bible. Surely, the skeptics claim, this must refer to a flat, square earth—thus proving that the Bible teaches a flat earth. At the very least, they reason, this shows that the Bible writers believed one of the flat earth cosmologies of the ancient world, thus proving that the Bible is not inspired, but that the people who wrote the Bible merely reflected the worldview of their times. If a square flat earth were the cosmology of the Bible, then it would have been at odds with every other ancient flat earth cosmology. Therefore, this attempt by the skeptics to claim that the Bible teaches a flat earth does not square (pun intended) with the facts of history.

If the verses that mention the earth’s four corners do not refer to a flat earth, then to what do they refer?

If the verses that mention the earth’s four corners do not refer to a flat earth, then to what do they refer? Let me begin with Revelation 7:1, which speaks of four angels standing on the four corners of the earth and restraining the four winds of the earth.

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. – Revelation 7:1 (ESV)


The book of Revelation uses a lot of imagery to describe events. This extends to the many occasions where numbers appear in the book of Revelation. In this one verse, the number four appears three times. In each usage, the things mentioned are intimately tied together, so there is a one-to-one correspondence between each of the three groups of four.

The four winds refer to the four directions from which winds can come: north, south, east, and west. The repetition of the number four (“four angels, four corners, four winds”) ties each angel and each corner with one of the four compass directions. Therefore, there is no warrant to interpret these four corners literally, particularly when it does not match any cosmology.  Heck, the compass was invented, estimated, around 200 B.C.
The phrase “four corners of the earth” probably was a saying in the Apostle John’s time referring to every distant location on the earth. This is the meaning from the context of Revelation 20:7–8, the other occurrence of the phrase “four corners of the earth” in the book of Revelation (the King James Version has the word quarter here rather than corner).

 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. – Revelation 20:7-8 (ESV)

The third mention of four corners of the Earth in the Bible is in Isaiah 11:12.

He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judas from the four corners of the earth. - Isaiah 11:12 (ESV)

Bible skeptics frequently use these three verses to argue that Scripture teaches that the earth is flat. While some promoters of the flat earth use these three verses, many times out of context, and some do not. Why? They probably realize that a square earth with corners does not agree with their model of a round, flat earth. How would Christians who believe in a flat earth because they earnestly believe that is what the Bible teaches handle these three verses? They likely would interpret them much as I have and many other scholars that I used as research.

Some people believe that Matthew 4:8 teaches of a flat Earth.  Here is what the whole section, Matthew 4:1-11 reads about the temptation of Jesus.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
-          Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV)


The temptation began in the wilderness, after Jesus had fasted for 40 days and nights. Satan first tempted Jesus to change stones into bread to satisfy Jesus’ hunger (Matthew 4:3). Presumably, this was while still in the wilderness. Next, the devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem and suggested that Jesus jump off the top of the temple (Matthew 4:5). Note that there was considerable distance between the wilderness and the Temple (at least 50 miles). Did Satan transport Jesus from the wilderness to Jerusalen or was it a vision?  Who knows, I was not there. Matthew 4:8 records the third temptation:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. (ESV)

Those who wish to argue for a biblical flat earth point out that all the kingdoms of the earth would be visible from a tall mountain only if the earth is flat. However, if this mountain of Matthew 4:8 with its view of the entire earth is literal, then where is it? Those who pursue this line of reasoning have never determined the location of this hypothetical mountain. If this mountain is hypothetical even on a flat earth, then this verse hardly constitutes proof that the Bible teaches the earth is flat. But does this verse truly imply the visibility of the entire earth from the peak of this mountain?  One thing that I can argue is, if the Earth is flat, then I should be able to stand on the beach in Ocean City, MD (as an example), get a high powered telescope, look straight across and see the countries of Portugal/Spain or Morocco.

Today as well as many centuries ago, many Christians have been lead to believe the Earth is flat, misled into believing that the Bible teaches the earth is flat and that, until five centuries ago, the church likewise taught that the earth is flat. These are two false assumptions: that the church historically taught that the earth is flat and that this changed 500 years ago.

As the medieval scholar Geoffrey Burton Russell ably demonstrated, contrary to common misconception, the medieval church did not teach that the earth was flat. Thomas Aquinas introduced Aristotelian thought into medieval church teaching. Writing in the fourth century BC, Aristotle clearly taught that the earth was spherical. In the early second century BC, Eratosthenes accurately measured the circumference of the spherical earth. Claudius Ptolemy’s Almagest, from the early second century AD, provided a useful model for calculating the positions of heavenly bodies. While this model was geocentric, it did not promote a flat earth, but instead was based upon a spherical earth. The works of Aristotle, Eratosthenes, and Ptolemy were all widely available and discussed in the late medieval period, and continued to be through the transition to the Renaissance. Given the clear record of history, why is it so commonly believed today that most people, and especially the church, thought that the earth was flat? (Ref from AnswersinGenesis.org).

In conclusion, the Bible does not teach that it is flat.   Most of the time, people are taking the Bible out of context when referring to the Earth being flat. Like everything in the Bible, you need to read the whole passage and not just pick and choose the verses you want to read.  If you are a Christian who believes the Earth is flat, I will probably laugh at you and make fun of you for it, then repent later for gossiping.

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