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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{ 12 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.


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).


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