The Creation Happened Instantly

St. Basil (329-379)

“Let the earth,” the Creator adds, “bring forth the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself.”

At this command every copse was thickly planted; all the trees, fir, cedar, cypress, pine, rose to their greatest height, the shrubs were straightway clothed with thick foliage. The plants called crown-plants, roses, myrtles, laurels, did not exist; in one moment they came into being, each one with its distinctive peculiarities. Most marked differences separated them from other plants, and each one was distinguished by a character of its own. (Homily 5:6)

“Let the earth bring forth the fruit tree yielding fruit.” Immediately the tops of the mountains were covered with foliage: paradises were artfully laid out, and an infinitude of plants embellished the banks of the rivers. Some were for the adornment of man’s table; some to nourish animals with their fruits and their leaves; some to provide medicinal help by giving us their sap, their juice, their chips, their bark or their fruit. (Homily 5:9)

“Let the earth bring forth.” This short command was in a moment a vast nature, an elaborate system. Swifter than thought it produced the countless qualities of plants. (Homily 5:10)

The command was given, and immediately the rivers and lakes becoming fruitful brought forth their natural broods; the sea travailed with all kinds of swimming creatures; not even in mud and marshes did the water remain idle; it took its part in creation. Everywhere from its ebullition frogs, gnats and flies came forth. For that which we see to-day is the sign of the past. Thus everywhere the water hastened to obey the Creator’s command. Who could count the species which the great and ineffable power of God caused to be suddenly seen living and moving, when this command had empowered the waters to bring forth life? Let the waters bring forth moving creatures that have life. Then for the first time is made a being with life and feeling. (Homily 7:1)

St. John Chrysostom (347-407)

Homilies on Genesis
Just as He said of the earth only: “Let it bring forth,” and there appeared a great variety of flowers, herbs, and seeds, and all occurred by His word alone, so here also He said: “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens” – and instantly there were so many kinds of crawling things, such a variety of birds, that one cannot number them in words. (Homily 7:8)

St. Ambrose (340-397)

And God also said: “Let the waters abound with life and above the earth let winged creatures fly below the firmament of the heavens.”

At this command the waters immediately poured forth their offspring. The rivers were in labor. The lakes produced their quota of life. The sea itself began to bear all manner of reptiles and to send forth according to its kind whatever was there created. (Homily 7:2)

But we are unable to record the multiplicity of the names of all those species which by divine command were brought to life in a moment of time. At the same instant substantial form and the principle of life were brought into existence; associated was a sort of vital vigor and power. The earth was replete with plants. The sea was filled with living things. (Homily 7:3)

St. Ephraim (306-373)

Commentary on Genesis
The herbs, at the time of their creation, were the productions of a single instant, but in appearance they appeared the productions of months. Likewise the trees, at the time of their creation, were the productions of a single day, but in their perfection and fruits, which weighed down the branches, they appeared the productions of years. (Section 1:22)

Vegetation was Created Before the Sun

St. Basil

“Let the earth bring forth green grass.” Let the earth bring forth by itself without having any need of help from without. Some consider the sun as the source of all productiveness on the earth. It is, they say, the action of the sun’s heat which attracts the vital force from the center of the earth to the surface. The reason why the adornment of the earth was before the sun is the following; that those who worship the sun, as the source of life, may renounce their error. If they be well persuaded that the earth was adorned before the genesis of the sun, they will retract their unbounded admiration for it, because they see grass and plants vegetate before it rose. (Homily 5:1)

St. John Chrysostom

Homilies on Genesis
So then, foreseeing the inclination of slothful people to error, Sacred Scripture teaches us that the creation of this heavenly body (sun) took place three days later, after the growth of all the pants from the earth, after the earth’s taking its own form, so that afterwards no one could say that without this force these things would not have been brought forth from the earth. Hence it shows you everything completed before the creation of this body lest you attribute the production of the crops to it instead of to the creator of all things, the one who said from the beginning, “Let the earth bring forth a crop of vegetation.” (Homily 6:12)

St. Ambrose

Before the light of the sun shall appear, let the green herb be born, let its light be prior to that of the sun. Let the earth germinate before it receives the fostering care of the sun, lest there be an occasion for human error to grow. Let everyone be informed that the sun is not the author of vegetation. How can the sun give the faculty of life to growing plants, when these have already been brought forth by the life-giving creative power of God before the sun entered into such a life as this? The sun is younger than the green shoot, younger than the green plant! (Homily 5:27)

Species Reproduce According to Their Kind

St. Basil

“Let the earth bring forth the living creature.” Behold the word of God pervading creation, beginning even then the efficacy which is seen displayed to-day, and will be displayed to the end of the world! As a ball, which one pushes, if it meet a declivity, descends, carried by its form and the nature of the ground and does not stop until it has reached a level surface; so nature, once put in motion by the Divine command, traverses creation with an equal step, through birth and death, and keeps up the succession of kinds through resemblance, to the last. Nature always makes a horse succeed to a horse, a lion to a lion, an eagle to an eagle, and preserving each animal by these uninterrupted successions she transmits it to the end of all things. Animals do not see their peculiarities destroyed or effaced by any length of time; their nature, as though it had been just constituted, follows the course of ages, for ever young. “Let the earth bring forth the living creature.” This command has continued and earth does not cease to obey the Creator. (Homily 9:2)

St. Ambrose

Hence, as God had ordained, all kinds of living creatures were quickly produced from the earth. In compliance with a fixed law they all succeed each other from age to age according to their aspect and kind. The lion generates a lion; the tiger, a tiger; the ox, an ox; the swan, a swan; and the eagle, an eagle. What was once enjoined became in nature a habit for all time. Hence the earth has not ceased to offer the homage of her service. The original species of living creatures is reproduced for future ages by successive generations of its kind. (Homily 9:9)

St. Gregory of Nyssa (386)

On the Soul and the Resurrection
For, whereas we learn from Scripture in the account of the first Creation, that first the earth brought forth “the green herb” (as the narrative says), and that then from this plant seed was yielded, from which, when it was shed on the ground, the same form of the original plant again sprang up, the Apostle, it is to be observed, declares that this very same thing happens in the resurrection also; and so we learn from him the fact, not only that our humanity will be then changed into something nobler, but also that what we have therein to expect is nothing else than that which was at the beginning. In the beginning, we see, it was not an ear rising from a grain, but a grain coming from an ear, and, after that, the ear grows round the grain: and so the order indicated in this similitude clearly shows that all that blessed state which arises for us by means of the resurrection is only a return to our pristine state of grace. (p. 467)

Death Entered When Adam Sinned

St. Basil

The Hexaemeron
“Let the earth bring forth grass.” In a moment earth began by germination to obey the laws of he Creator, completed every stage of growth, and brought germs to perfection. The meadows were covered with deep grass, the fertile plains quivered with harvests, and the movement of the corn was like the waving of the sea. Every plant, every herb, the smallest shrub, the least vegetable, arose from the earth in all its luxuriance. There was no failure in the first vegetation: no husbandman’s inexperience, no inclemency of the weather, nothing could injure it; then the sentence of condemnation was not fettering the earth’s fertility. All this was before the sin which condemned us to eat our bread by the sweat of our brow. (Homily 5:5)

St. John Chrysostom

Homilies on Romans
“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same.” What is the meaning of, “the creation was made subject to vanity?” Why that it became corruptible. For what cause, and on what account? On account of thee, O man. For since thou hast taken a body mortal and liable to suffering, the earth too hath received a curse, and brought forth thorns and thistles. (Homily 14:19-20)

“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift and (so Field with most Mss.) of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” What he says, amounts to this nearly. What armed death against the world? The one man’s eating from the tree only. (Homily 10:17)

St. Symeon The New Theologian (949-1042)

The First Created Man
Adam was made with a body that was incorrupt, although material and not yet spiritual, and was placed by the Creator God as an immortal king over an incorrupt world, not only over Paradise, but also over the whole of creation which was under the heavens. (Homily 45:1)

And God did not curse Paradise, since it was the image of the future unending life of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. If it were not for this reason, it would have been fitting to curse it most of all, since within it was performed the transgression of Adam. But God did not do this, but cursed only the whole rest of the earth, which also was incorrupt and brought forth everything by itself; and this was in order that Adam might not have any longer a life free from exhausting labors and sweat. (Homily 45:2)

Do you see that this whole creation in the beginning was incorrupt and was created by God in the manner of Paradise? But later it was subjected by God to corruption, and submitted to the vanity of men. (Homily 45:4)