In the seventh chapter of Common Grace, Kuyper comes to:

And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning:

from every beast I will require it

and from man.

From his fellow man I will require a reckoning

for the life of man.

Genesis 9:5 (ESV)

First, the verse concerns God’s “reckoning”; not human reckoning (that comes in verse 6).

Second, God will judge the killing of a human being.

This judgment is apart from capital punishment and human government, which dealt with in verse 6.

He lists three ways in which God will deal with the human murderer: (1) conscience; (2) providential punishment (the way in which the murderer’s life will play out will provide a punishment); (3) eternal punishment.

A temporal punishment, such as conscience and providence which leads to repentance would be a grace. To not be lead to repentance but rather suffer eternal punishment is a far greater act of justice and retribution than any temporal response.

Third, God will require a reckoning from both predatory animals and from human beings.

Fourth, he notes a distinction made between the acts of animals and humans. In the first sentence, God notes especially the shedding of blood. This applies to both animals and humans. But in the parallel verse, which pertains only to human beings, God speaks of taking the “life”, the nephesh, which also means the soul of a human being.

The reason for this distinction lies in the fact that a human being does not kill for “blood” (eating) in the way an animal does. A human kills to take a life. God will require blood from the animal, but a life from the human.

Fifth, on question as to the extent of the flood, he offers this explanation. The “whole world” is used in various senses and must be read in context. Thus, “The whole world has gone after him” (John 12:19) does not mean every human being in the world, but only those who have come into contact with him.


The contextual use of the phrase “the whole world” in the Flood Narrative is difficult to determine. It unquestionably means a flood sufficient to kill all human beings: that is apparent from the direct purpose of the narrative. Whether the narrative demands that portions of the earth uninhabited by human beings was also flooded is more difficult to establish. It could mean that the entire globe was awash. But there is room for debate on the interpretation.