How and Why Did People in the Bible Live So Long?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Why were life spans of people living in biblical times so much long then than they are today?  What has changed?  Why did people in the Old Testament live for hundreds of years before the flood drop dramatically after the flood?  Why do people living today live much shorter life spans than in the days in which the Bible was written?

Long Lives in the Ancient Days

The first few humans recorded in the Bible, in particular the Old Testament, lived an exceedingly long number of years.  Adam lived to the age of 930 years, his son Seth lived 912, his son Lamech lived 777 years, Lamech’s son Noah lived to 950 years, his son Shem lived 600 years.  There is a pattern that shows up.  Progressively, each generation lived shorter and shorter lives.  Adam was the first human created and must have been nearly perfect.  They were more perfect in health, size, and stature.  Perhaps the first generations of humans lived such long lives because they were so close to the man that God created and what God creates was perfect from the beginning.  That is until sin entered the human race.  Sin is destructive and the continuing sin through the generations had a cumulative effect.  By the time Abraham was born, the life spans had shrunk considerably.

Even though Abraham lived to 175 years, Moses lived only 120 years.  The effects of the fall of man, which happened in the Garden of Eden, had an effect. The creation had fallen with the fall of man.  God cursed the land after Adam and Eve sinned.  No longer would the environment be perfect.  Even nature itself would be feeling the effects of sin.

God Curses the Ground

After the fall of man, God said to Adam in Genesis 3:17-18, “To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat froAdam&Evem it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.”  So here is part of the reason.  The ground became difficult to work.  Thorns and thistles were found in the earth and man had to work hard to produce food.  The fall also may have produced disease and sickness since the ground was now cursed.

By the time the Psalms were being written, the lifespan of mankind had shrunk closer to what they are today, as testified in Psalm 90:10, “The length of our days is seventy years–or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”

Sin Destroys

Sin has always been a corrupter.  It corrupts humans, it corrupts even the creation as noted in Romans 8:22, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.“  Sin is seen as a disease and it separates man from God.  And when there is a separation from the Life Giver, then life ebbs.  Since the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), this could extend to the creation itself.  Rebellion against God always incurs a cost.

Sin Shortens Life

It is no surprise that today there are more drug and alcohol addictions and abuse than ever before.  These sins are known to shorten a person’s life.  We know that drinking in excess and drug abuse (being illegal) destroy brain cells, the liver, and other muscular and neurological systems.  These sins cause a person’s life to be take away in a more rapid sense that the average.

Life Span Statistics

Today the average life span of a man is nearing 70 and is close to 75 for women.  It is less in less developed nations but longer in other nations that are, paradoxically, less developed.  Diet, access to alcohol, drugs, and environmental factors are the greatest contributors to human’s life spans.  The correlation is sin shortens life…and the sins of man, e.g., in industrial waste, fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, hasten the end of a person’s life.

How to Lengthen Life

The way to lengthen life is to eat a balanced diet, don’t smoke, don’t drink excessive amounts of alcohol, avoid drugs, particularly illicit drugs, and to exercise at least three times a week.  A proper day of rest is also of supreme importance.   Most people in Western Civilizations have at least one day of rest.  For most of Western society it is Sunday.  God commanded a Sabbath-rest in the Old Testament and there still remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God today (Heb. 4:9).  God created us. He knows our bodies better than we do.  He knows we need to rest and this is part of the reason He commanded the Sabbath day to rest.  Most Christians rest on Sunday.  In fact, as a former manager, I understood that most people can get more done on six days than in seven.  This is because of the simple fact that a rest worker is a more productive and capable worker than if they work seven days a week, week after week.

How to Have the Longest Life There is only one true way to have the longest life span of all. That is to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He gives to those who believe in Him eternal life (John 3:16). This means that a person will live forever. They will never tire, have no need to sleep, and will be healthy and happy for eternity. The best part is that this grace from God is free. You simply have to believe that Jesus Christ is the One and Only way to the Father in Heaven (Acts 4:12). If you believe in the Son of God, you will never, ever die again. And that is the longest life possible. I pray you will accept this eternal life today.

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Looking for more Christian Answers?

You might also find some of these other good articles helpful:

Do Animals Go To Heaven? We all love our pets. Take a look at this article to see how Pastor Jack uses the Bible to examine this very popular question

What Does The Bible Say About Church Membership? There are so many churches, read this article to learn how the Bible views membership

Does The Bible say What the Devil Looks Like? All red with horns carrying a pitch fork — is that what the devil looks like? Read about it here


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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt Temple July 18, 2016 at 3:13 am

I believe I’m about four years late here..but, I must disagree with Mr McCarthy… I see nothing hit or miss about the universe…. And the more we study nature, the less hit n miss it seems. The bible is no book of magic, although it has accounts of the awesome power of God. My own life has those accounts. But Jesus said that only a spiritual mind ( a mind and heart given to Him) could understand all of this, and that education or the lack thereof would play no part in it.


Margaret August 6, 2016 at 11:00 am

Spiritually empowering information suitable for every christian.


Henry Kimani August 6, 2016 at 11:45 am

Hello man of God. I like your teach because it’s the truth. I love Jesus. My name is Henry Kimani from Kenya. [email protected]


Melinda August 6, 2016 at 11:54 am

One thing I noticed was the fact that diet was left out of this article. The writer didn’t mention that people lived longer BEFORE the flood, and age dropped off dramatically AFTER the flood. Why? Because man began eating meat. There was no vegetation to eat! Before the flood, man ate NO meat. After the flood, man began eating meat and never stopped. This DOES have a dramatic effect on aging.


Tabitha September 1, 2016 at 5:55 am

There are many reasons why people used to live a long time, especially before the Flood.
Many are listed here:
Eating meat could be a reason, but it is certainly not the only factor. Meat in small amounts is beneficial for the health.


David Smith September 27, 2016 at 10:06 am

I’d just like to ask a question involving the first paragraph title “Long lives in the ancient days”. If I accept your point about people become less perfect as time went on, therefore living for a shorter period of time- why has the average age increased since earlier times again, and what is to say that medical advances cannot increase lives further as time goes on? Also, about eating meat as others have commented here, why do we continue to live far longer than many vegetarian animals?


Jack Wellman September 27, 2016 at 10:55 am

Thank you Mr. Smith. Animals and humans cannot be compared with one another. History shows that our lifespans are decreasing up until the time of the advancement of medicines. Do you believe that sin is the cause? Animals have never lived longer than mankind has. That’s God’s choice.


David Smith September 28, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Okay, and how were people able to avoid diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, dementia etc? I can imagine an answer along the lines of “they were purer and had no sinful nature and so were healthy” like you mentioned in your article, but why, then, without saying that it is all part of the big plan, do people who have done nothing sinful in their lives develop such horrible diseases due to age? Why was Noah allowed to live so long without these terrible diseases whereas my Auntie Nora was not spared?


Lucas February 21, 2017 at 11:12 am

Reading now about the length of life during Old testament and todays life taught me something. My thought was that in the Old testament they lived longer years because the years were different from today and time was moving to fast that they reached those years quickly. But now I know its because of sin that the years were shortened.


Conception Ordunez August 25, 2017 at 2:27 pm

I believe that those People who lived long lives, I Think those people were Right With GOD and were Close with Jesus. If you live a life teaching of God, You live a long prosperous life.


Daniel Coleman October 8, 2017 at 6:22 pm

the decrease in age after the flood was due to the change in the atmosphere and air. Remember that the air provided essentials that don’t exist in it now. The moisture and etc. mixture in the air helped sustain larger animals, perhaps the dinosaurs died in the flood. The proof is in the rainbow, the atmosphere was different, it prevented rainbows and filtered harmful radiation, etc, etc…


Jack Wellman October 8, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Hello Mr. Coleman. Thank you for your comment, but the rainbow was sign of God’s promise to never again destroy the earth with a flood, so that’s what the Bible says and so looking for a scientific reason might be good, but I think it was because of what God said rather than a change in the environment, in the lower biosphere. As for the shortening of life, I believe it is the increase of sin’s effect over time but God also set the limits of man’s existence after the flood (in Genesis).


syrena March 31, 2018 at 8:01 pm

Sexual sin….makes hpv, which spreads…..hpv is sexually transmitted the high risk strain is the cancerous kind…Hep b is spread through saliva…stds also are killing..not to mention a big one aids..which shows solid scientific evidence…


Keith April 25, 2018 at 5:19 am

I disagree with the idea of the ‘legality’/illicitness of drugs being a factor.
Laws (not all of them, obviously laws are required), time and time again, have shown to be born of corruption and greed.
Drugs, especially naturally occurring ones (psychedelics/mushrooms/opiates/animal excitements (not poo)/cannabis, etc) can be highly beneficial if used ‘responsibly’ and even more so beneficial if you have Jesus in your heart and mind.
Our bodies have natural receptors for these substances.
God made everything, right? Everything happens for a reason…

By the same logic of drugs being ‘illegal’ because of risk of abuse,
cars, kitchen utensils, ropes, etc, should also be illegal…?

In the same way we go to church on Sundays to dedicate time to God and our close spiritual communities in order to learn how to be, and spread more good to the wider community, there is also much benefit we can gain from ‘drug’ use in a similar way (though, perhaps not as often as weekly).

For example, possessing a Bible in some parts of the world would get you imprisoned. Because of what? because of the Corruption and fear (weakness), and Greed of those in ‘Power’.

If we all truly, honestly, believed and trusted in Jesus, many of the ‘Laws’ (statutes) enforced today, would not be necessary.

It is the ‘Law’ that often makes these things much more dangerous than they actually are.

Jesus himself, spent time with the abusers of ‘laws’ and substances, not for the reason of rebellion but also not in a ‘shake-your-finger and don’t do that’ kind of way, but as love, accepting, understanding they had more ‘spirit’ than any of those who were ‘successful’ through greed and hatred.

I’d love to hear another perspective though.


Jack Wellman April 25, 2018 at 9:21 am

My friend, other things occur naturally in nature too like poison ivy, anthrax and other things, so just because it appears naturally in nature doesn’t mean its good. Besides, we are commanded to keep the law and not break it. The word “scocery” is related to pharmecuticals so having an altered state of mind is clearly sin. Where did Jesus spend time with “abusers of substances?” I can’t find that in the Bible. If Jesus did, He’d tell them to repent.


Brent Madison October 1, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Great article! However I have one disagreement. You’re quote of John 3:16 in saying that Faith is all that is needed for salvation is sorely misused. You are deceiving many with this and this leading others to he’ll. Allow me to explain.
Faith without deeds is dead ( New International Version 1984 James 2:18-19 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”) and is void of love for God because love for God is obedience to his word.
Acts 2:38 States that Baptism (Baptism in Greek mean full immersion into water) is necaserry for the forgiveness of sins because at that point we are participating in the death burial and resurrection of Christ and thus crucifing or circumsizing our sin. Romans 6
I hope this helps. Contact me for any questions.


Jack Wellman October 1, 2018 at 3:37 pm

Thank you Mr. Madison. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes or trusts in Him, will be saved (John 3:16). That truth is reiterated by Paul in Galatians 3 and Ephesians 2:8-9, and since we are saved by grace and not works, doesn’t mean we won’t have works. God has planned these works for us to walk in (Eph 2:10) but you are reversing salvation. We are saved without works but saved to do works. Never are we saved by any works that God calls filthy rags. faith without works is dead, but faith is not earned by works. A faith that is earned by works is dead! Please read Galatians 2 & 3 and Ephesians 2 my brother. And to add the necessity for water (baptism) to salvation is to add works. You are saying water + baptism = salvation and that is not the gospel!


Brent Madison October 1, 2018 at 5:18 pm

So Acts 2:38 isn’t in the Bible? Seriously? So your just going to ignore this scripture and John and many others that state that Baptism is necessary for salvation. And its not a work my firend its a simple participation in the death burial and resurrection (Romans 6)


Jack Wellman October 1, 2018 at 5:50 pm

This will be my last comment on this sir, but what you are saying is “repent and be water baptized in order to be saved!” (Acts 2:28) This is NOT what the Bible is teaching here. We know from the plainest teachings of the Scripture that salvation comes solely by faith in Jesus Christ. Man is incapable of keeping God’s commandments as given to Moses in the Old Testament, written in stone. God gave us His law in stone, which cannot be bent without breaking them. You either keep or break God’s word, but they cannot be bent.

The Greek word for the word “for” in Acts 2:38 is “EIS” and means “in lieu of.” Thus, the Bible is saying to be water baptized in lieu of the fact that your sins have already been forgiven when you repented and placed your faith in Christ.

Please note that repentance and faith are NOT two separate events in time. They are two separate parts of ONE STEP. Salvation is NOT a process. Repentance and faith are not the same thing, but they happen simultaneously (at the same time). Repentance cannot exist without faith, nor can faith exist without repentance.

A good illustration is electricity. To have electricity you MUST have BOTH voltage and current. Voltage is electrical pressure, much like the water pressure in a garden hose. Current is the flow of electricity, similar to the flow of water in a garden hose. Electricity must have both voltage and current, and they work together at the same time.

Another illustration is a Bible-preaching evangelist who boards a plane to travel from Michigan to Hawaii for a speaking engagement. He doesn’t first leave Michigan, and then secondarily head toward Hawaii; but rather, he is moving toward his destination in Hawaii AT THE SAME TIME he is moving away from his origin in Michigan. Likewise, repentance and faith are part of one deal, happening together at the same time. As we turn toward Christ by faith, we have at the same time turned our back against the awfulness of sin.

The apostle Paul said that the law made his sins exceedingly sinful (Romans 7:13). Romans 3:19 teaches that the PURPOSE of God’s law is to silence our boasting of any self-righteousness, and show us that we are GUILTY sinners in need of a Savior. Hence, repentance is a “change of mind”—a change of mind about how YOU want to get to Heaven to what GOD says we’ve got to do to get to Heaven! God tells us to REST in Christ, because of what He has done to pay the price for our sins by His literal blood which He shed upon the cross, which is sprinkled on the Mercy Seat in Heaven (Hebrews 9:12,24;12:24).

Christ died upon the cross for our sins, and was buried, and was resurrected from the dead three days later. This is the gospel (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). We receive eternal life by completely RESTING in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, Who is our Sabbath today (Hebrews 4:1-11). YOU ARE A SINNER! Unless you accept Christ’s payment for your sins, you will be forever separated from God. Adding “water” or works is adding to the gospel, and that renders it no gospel at all. I pray you are not teaching such error, for your judgment will be stricter than any one else’s (James 3). That is a warning from God my brother, not me. By making baptism a necessityto complete our salvation is like telling Jesus, “nice try Jesus, but I will finish the work in water.” Friend, that’s serious stuff. All who trust in CHrist should be baptized. Jesus commands it, but He doesn’t command it do complete what He did on the cross. That’s heresy. I hate to be so harsh, but that’s what it is if you make it Jesus + Baptism = Eternal life. You need to exegite this verse sir!


Jack Wellman October 1, 2018 at 5:51 pm

Anyone who teaches that a person MUST be water baptized to get to Heaven is preaching a false gospel of works. Likewise, anyone who requires a person to stop sinning, forsake the world, have intent to reform, start a relationship with Jesus, invite Jesus into your heart, keep sacraments, turn from sin, or make full surrender to Christ to be saved is propagating a false plan of salvation that absolutely cannot produce the new birth in Christ Jesus. Contrary to what C.S. Lewis taught, there are no formulas to salvation


Kimberly S Ramay June 9, 2019 at 4:44 am

I don’t believe they was year’s I honestly think they was mons. Take the years that the Bible says they lived and divide it by 12 when you do it will come up to the same life span as we know . I also want to say this as life has developed people who become in charge or discover things it changes so maybe back in Bible times they consider 1 month as a year until somebody smart discovered that we have seasons and realized that our seasons cycle is actually a whole year my thoughts and it does make sense as to be living 975 years


Jack Wellman June 9, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Hello Kimberly. It’s not what “we believe” but what God’s Word has said, and I believe God’s Word, no matte what my own eyes see… I trust God’s Word (the Bible) as being the truth, always, no matter what humans think, so the Bible means what is says and says what it means…not what we “believe” it means. “Back in Bible times” is still Bible times today since God changes not, nor does His Word.


Jay Faulk September 25, 2019 at 5:47 am

It has been taught to me that man can spiritualized almost anything yet if we look at the power of God from His physical attributes we see a possibility of a blanket of cloud cover over the earth protecting people from the radiation of the sun which causes man to age quicker which in turn until the flood man lived in cloudy type weather till it demolished withe the rains of the flood and you see life span begin to lower from that point.


Jack Wellman September 25, 2019 at 10:23 am

Thank you Mr. Faulk.


Godwin kwao February 29, 2020 at 6:10 pm

I believed we should follow the Bible and obey


Jack Wellman February 29, 2020 at 6:44 pm

I agree Godwin.


Cynthia R Brandt September 11, 2020 at 3:31 pm

there is no way to lengthen your life. from the time you were conceived God knew the number of days you would live. You can however, change the quality of your life by making Godly choices and decisions, and following the Lord, and reading the word.


Jack Wellman September 11, 2020 at 3:39 pm

Very well said Cynthia. Thank you. You are encouraging and spot on with your godly wisdom about the Word.


Jamaica Padohilao December 9, 2020 at 7:48 pm

Sabbath day is not Sunday. Please study more


Jack Wellman December 10, 2020 at 8:58 am

You must be Jewish Jamaica for this command was written to and for Israel and not to Gentiles. Please stop trying to earn your way into heaven or convert to an orthodox Jew, but you are very mistaken. A good study Bible is recommended for you.


Jane Wilson August 17, 2021 at 1:48 pm

UMM.. did nobody else realise that they skipped a bunch of people between Seth and Lamech? Cause that’s kinda weird if you ask me. I’m gonna go find a different article.


Jack Wellman August 17, 2021 at 3:56 pm

Hello Jane. You must have done a quick read and missed the fact that indeed, we did mention Seth and we did mention Lamech but there are far too many to mention in one article. May I suggest you find a good study Bible instead of finding another “different article.” The Bible tells us to “study to show theyself approved by God” and not have others do the studying for you as in finding other “articles.”


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