Man’s Life Span


I am new to reading the Bible and am confused about a piece in Genesis where God shortens the lifespan of people to 120 years. At first I see that people were living 800-900+ years for several generations after Adam and Eve. Then in Genesis 6:3 it seems like He shortens the life of man saying:

“And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” (KJV)

Then I realized, well Noah (mentioned only sentences later) lived hundreds of years longer than the 120 years mentioned in Gen 6:3, so I must have misinterpreted the meaning of the verse. To whom does that verse apply since it’s not applicable today? Thanks for your input.


As you’ve correctly noted, many people down through the ages have exceeded the 120 year standard. It turns out that God wasn’t talking about man’s lifetime in Genesis 6:3. He was giving them a 120 year warning that a judgment was coming.

At the end of Chapter 5 Noah was 500 years old and the Great Flood came in the Year Noah turned 600 (Genesis 7:11) so the warning must have come earlier, when he was 480 years old. Chapter 6 implies that the warning came about the time fallen angels began marrying human women and bearing hybrid children the Bible calls Nephilim.

Psalm 90:10 says that an average man would live 70-80 years. This is consistent with world averages today with some living longer while others die much younger