By Andrew Tong, Michael J. Bumbulis, MaryAnna White, Russ Smith, and othersIntroduction
- Me — Michael J. Bumbulis
- MaryAnna White
- Russ Smith
I will list each claim of contradiction as found in the original list, and then offer the reply. The replies are referenced to the contributor. MaryAnna’s replies are followed by “—MAW”, and Russ Smith’s replies are followed by “—RS”. If no initials follow a reply, they are mine (Michael’s). In addition, Phil Porvaznik will be —PP, andApolonio Latar will be —AL.
What follows is a reply to a list of 143 purported Bible contradictions, along with a suggestion for more contradictions not found in this list. You will find below the index to the contradictions but first I want to discuss some possible objections as to how the contradictions are being resolved.
I feel the considerations in this document are important not only because they attempt to refute claims that the Bible is contradictory (a cause I have not been convinced is of utmost importance), but also because they are intrinsically an interpretation of the teachings of the Bible. In fact, many central components of Christianity are discussed with thought and insight. Although there are trivial contradictions (67 and 68 for example) many of the contradictions explore, say, Biblical teachings about the nature or attributes of God, practical guidelines for Christian living, among other things.
In short, the attempts at resolutions of these contradictions cloak an effort to “mine” truth from the Bible, an effort to interpret Biblical verses correctly. My hope is that this article will not only help you to make conclusions about the Bible’s inerrancy, but also encourage you to discover what you consider to be valid and invalid Biblical interpretations.However, before we launch into the actual reply, there are several points worth mentioning.
First, it would be prudent to speak of the burden of proof. It’s a general rule in philosophy that she who proposes must explain and defend. If someone says that “X exists,” the burden is on her to provide a case for the existence of X. The burden is not on the one who denies that X exists. For how can one prove a negative?In this case, it is the critic who proposes. He claims that the Bible is “full of contradictions,” and often proposes a lengthy list such as the one we are about to respond to below. Now, as Christians, we cannot prove that something is NOT a contradiction (i.e., one cannot prove that X [contradictions] do not exist). Instead, all that is required of us is to come up with plausible or reasonable, even possible explanations so that what is purported to be a contradiction is not necessarily a contradiction. Whether or not our explanation is the “true one” is not all that relevant in such contexts.
This is important. What is really relevant is whether our explanations show that the point of contention is not necessarily a contradiction. If we succeed, then the critic’s assertion that “X and Y are contradictory” is no longer an obvious truth, instead it becomes merely a belief that someone holds.
At this point the critic might cry “foul” and note that it is the Christian who proposes. She is the one who claims the Bible is inerrant, thus she should demonstrate this. But how? How does one demonstrate a document is without error? At this point, the Christian need only learn from the methodology of modern atheism. Many atheists do not argue that God does not exist, because they realize that one cannot demonstrate the nonexistence of something. Instead, they take a more agnostic position, and argue there is no proof for God’s existence, thus they don’t possess God-belief. In the same way, the believer in inerrancy cannot demonstrate the nonexistence of contradictions in the Bible.
After all, the Bible contains 31,173 verses (even more when the OT deuterocanonicals are included). If we were to compare only couplets, where any one verse is juxtaposed against any other, one could write 971,750,000 couplets. Thus, by considering only couplets, there are almost one billion potential Bible contradictions! Surely, it is not reasonable to demand that a believer in inerrancy plod through one billion potential contradictions to prove negatives in every case. Instead, the believer in inerrancy can argue there is no proof for the existence of contradictions in the Bible, thus they don’t believe in Biblical errancy (thus they believe in inerrancy — being without error).
For papal encyclicals on the official Catholic teaching of Biblical inerrancy and approach to interpretation seeLeo XIII (Nov 18, 1893) Providentissimus Deus (The Most Provident God) Benedict XV (Sept 15, 1920) Spiritus Paraclitus (The Paraclete Spirit) Pius XII (Sept 30, 1943) Divino Afflante Spiritu (Under the Inspiration of the Divine Spirit) --PP
At this point, the critic’s list comes in. It proposes to demonstrate that the Bible is full of contradictions, and the list of 143 purported contradictions was one such demonstration. And at this point, our response comes in.
I have noticed several things about the list we are about to respond to and the nature of the purported contradictions.
Such lists are quite common and have been around for decades. I have also encountered them on various BBSs throughout the years. My first impression is to scan such lists, noticing claims which are obviously bogus, and others which are quite challenging. Because the lists are so long I tend to rationalize that any list which would include obviously bogus “contradictions” is suspect and that the more challenging ones could probably be resolved with some effort.
The list has a psychological power in that it intimidates simply because of it’s length and multitude of claims. Your average reader simply does not have the time to respond to 143 claims of contradictions! Thus, such lists often go largely unanswered, leaving the critic to believe that no one can answer it. I think a critic would do better in making a much shorter list (10 or 20) which contains what he considers to be the best examples of Bible contradictions.
The ContradictionsI have noticed that the supposed 143 contradictions can in essence be classified according to the erroneous assumptions or methodologies that they employ.
A popular mistake is to take things out of context. It is easy to “create contradictions” when there are none by violating the context of the passage(s) in question.
More significant, though less mentioned, is violating the context of belief. Christian understanding is a synthesis of many beliefs, and Biblical teachings are often interpreted through this background belief which has been synthesized. Such a synthesis may include other facts, not directly related to the contradiction in question, but nevertheless, relevant. When the critic proposes a contradiction, he ought to do so within the context of this background belief. By failing to do this, he merely imposes alien concepts into the text as if they belong. This error is common when the critic tries to cite contradictions related to doctrine or beliefs about the nature of God. For example, orthodox Christians believe in the Trinity. One could argue about this concept elsewhere, but trying to impose contradictions by ignoring Trinitarian belief violates the context provided by the Christian’s background belief.
Or consider a mundane example. Say that Joe is recorded as saying that Sam is not his son. But elsewhere, he is recorded as saying that Sam is his son. An obvious contradiction, right? But what if one’s background belief about Joe and Sam includes the belief that Sam is Joe’s adopted son? By ignoring the context this belief provides, one perceives contradictions where there are none.The critic sometimes assumes that the Biblical accounts are exhaustive in all details and intended to be precise. This is rarely the case. As such, the critic builds on a faulty assumption and perceives contradictions where none exist.
Also related to the context problem: Let’s say that the only
records of Joe speaking about Sam are the two cases where he
affirms and denies that Sam is his son. Certainly Joe said many
other things in his life, but they were not recorded — including the
fact that he adopted a boy and named him Sam.
Another real-life case concerns a newspaper report which lists the
time of birth of twin babies. The first was born at 1:40 AM, and
second was born at 1:10 AM. If this account did not have the added
detail that the birth occurred the during the night in which Daylight
Savings ended, it would appear to be a real contradiction/error. You have to know the whole
story, or at least have a plausible explanation.
Since the accounts in the Bible are rarely intended as exhaustive and
precise descriptions, it would be prudent to see if differing
accounts complement, rather than contradict one another.
The critic seems to assume that the Bible is written in one genre: a literal and descriptive account. While the Bible does indeed contain literal and descriptive accounts (which, of course, are not exhaustive in details), it also contains many other styles of composition: the Proverbs list “rules of thumb,” the Psalms communicate through poetry, many teachings/prophecies are in the form of hyperbole and metaphor, parables contain deeper messages, etc. Since the Bible is actually many books of different genres by several different authors, the critic’s assumption leads her astray if it is used to create contradictions.
Another point is related to the one above, namely, the alleged contradictions are often a function of a particular interpretation. This is clear when one reads how the author of the list presents the biblical teachings in contrast to the actual verses he/she cites. Thus, the "contradiction" exists only if the correct interpretation is applied by the author, and this is often not the case (or at least, it is often not clear if this is the case).
For example, in many situations, the critic uses particular incidents
or rules of thumb and interprets these as absolute principles. Sometimes the critic equivocates. He/she uses the same sense of a
word in two sets of verses, when sometimes it is the case that the
word has two meanings. For example, peace could mean lack of war
or it can mean an internal sense of tranquility.
The critic sometimes reads contradictions into the accounts. This is often a function of all of the points listed above, but
it could be due to plain ignorance. In other cases, it is due to the fact that
aspects of Hebrew idiom are not always captured in English
The critic assumes that the believer in Biblical inerrancy also believes that copyists could make no mistake. I have found not many believers in inerrancy to hold to this position. It is their belief that the original documents were without error, and were copied as faithfully as humanly possible. Thus, copyist errors are of little concern (and are unlikely to result in significant changes).
Finally, the critic engages in black and white either/or thinking when a both/and approach seems to be called for. This can be tricky, so let me set up my case by using one of the supposed contradictions cited:
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him
yourself.” [Pr 26:4]
“Answer of fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own
eyes.” [Pr 26:5]
The first thing to note is that these seemingly contradictory
teachings are right next to each other. Could the writer of Proverbs
be so stupid as to not notice this? I hardly think so. In fact, I think
it is very illuminating that these teachings are closely tied. They
highlight the fact that Biblical admonitions need not fall under the
“either/or” criteria, but can be more properly understood in terms of
“both/and.” In fact, I have often found these two teachings from
Proverbs quite useful.
In debating various non-Christians, I often encounter foolish responses and name-calling. I can either choose not to respond or ignore the foolishness and get to the point of contention. At such times, I follow Proverbs 26:4. In other instances, I mirror the foolishness of my antagonist in the hopes that he/she can perceive the folly of their approach when I employ it. At such times, I follow Proverbs 26:5. The key is knowing when to use which approach, and in such instances, I try to allow the Spirit to guide me.
I encourage the reader to keep these points in mind as we go through
the purported contradictions. I have also taken the luxury of periodically referring to and drawing
from the following book:
Haley, John W., Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Keep in mind that we are not biblical scholars, and our replies are
not intended as the “final word” in these matters. Instead, they are
offered as possible, even plausible, ways to resolve the apparent
contradictions. If they succeed at doing merely this, the
contradictions have not been established and the critic has not
adequately shouldered his/her burden. Enjoy.
1. God is satisfied/unsatisfied with his works
2. God dwells/dwells not in chosen temples
32. Anger approved/disapproved
37. Public prayer sanctioned/disapproved
42. Sabbath instituted because God rested/because God brought Israelites out of Egypt
47. Marriage approved/disapproved
52. Hatred to kindred enjoined/condemned
56. Obedience to masters/obedience only to God 59. Seed time and harvest never ceased/ceased for seven years 64. John the Baptist was/was not Elias 69. Infant Christ was/was not taken to Egypt
59. Seed time and harvest never ceased/ceased for seven years
64. John the Baptist was/was not Elias
69. Infant Christ was/was not taken to Egypt
100. Michal had five children/one child 103. David sinned in numbering Israel/David never sinned except in the matter of Uriah 108. Christ is equal/is not equal with God 113. Christ’s witness of himself is true/untrue 118. It is impossible/possible to fall from grace 123. Earth is/is never to be destroyed 128. Fruit of God’s spirit is love and 133. Laughter commended/condemned 138. Man’s life 120/70 years
103. David sinned in numbering Israel/David never sinned except in the matter of Uriah
108. Christ is equal/is not equal with God
113. Christ’s witness of himself is true/untrue
118. It is impossible/possible to fall from grace
123. Earth is/is never to be destroyed
128. Fruit of God’s spirit is love and
133. Laughter commended/condemned
138. Man’s life 120/70 years
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 1-10
1. God is satisfied with his works
“God saw all that he made, and it was very good.” [Gen
God is dissatisfied with his works.
This is an obvious case of both/and, for something occurred after
Gen 1:31 and before Gen 6:6, namely, the Fall. Evil entered creation
as a result of man’s volition. One can argue the theological
implications elsewhere, as the only relevant point is that this is not
an obvious contradiction. When God created, all was good. After
man rebelled, God grieved.
“The Lord was grieved that he had made man on earth, and his heart
was filled with pain.” [Gen
2. God dwells in chosen temples
“the LORD appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your
prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple of
sacrifices…..I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my
Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be
there.” [2 Chr
God dwells not in temples
I fail to see the contradiction here. The claim that “my eyes and
heart will always be there” appears to mean nothing more to me than
the fact that the LORD would pay special attention to the temple and
have a special affinity for it; the LORD would reveal Himself to His
people through the temple. Stephen’s speech in Acts merely
highlights the transcendence of God. Put simply, if you put these
together you arrive at the following truth – God is transcendent, yet
He reveals Himself where He will.
“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men.” [Acts
3. God dwells in light“who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light whom no one has seen or can see.” [1 Tim 6:16]
God dwells in darkness
“Then spake Solomon. The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick
darkness” [1 Kings
“He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him
were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.” [Ps
“Clouds and darkness are round about him.” [Ps 97:2] The first thing I would point out is these are likely to be metaphors and it would seem unwise to take such language too literally when describing God. But what could such seemingly contradictory metaphors convey? Note that in both cases there is the theme of the unsearchableness of God. That is, the light is unapproachable and the darkness is thick and covers a secret place. Thus, these verses could actually be teaching the same thing – simply that God is unapproachable.
One could also note that Paul’s account is quite optimistic following from a consideration of Christ. Prior to the Incarnation, there was indeed a certain darkness associated with the hidden God. But the eyes of the blind have been opened!
Or it could be said that the verses in 1 Kings and Psalms need be nothing more than a description of God perceived through the memory of His interation with His people described in Exodus19:9.
Ex 33:11 / Gen 3:9,10 / Gen 32:30 / Is 6:1 / Ex 24:9-11]
These “contradictions” are easily resolved if one accepts the Trinitarian view of God. Allow me to repost a reply which addressed a similar point, and in doing so, resolves this contradiction….
In a previous post, someone attempts to discredit the deity of Christ by appealing to John 1:18:
“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (KJV)
“If no man has seen God, then logically Jesus was not God, since
there is no secular record of an outbreak of sightlessness in
Judea in Jesus’ time”.
How shall the Christian respond? Well, let’s consider the statement
that “No man hath seen God." Consider the following verses from the
Old Testament (OT):
Sarai says “You are the God who sees me," for she said,
“I have now seen the One
who sees me” (Gen 16:13)
“So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God
face to face, and yet my life was spared." (Gen 32:30)
“Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel
went up and saw the God of Israel." (Ex 24: 9-10)
“they saw God” (Ex 24:11)
“We have seen God!” (Judges 13:22) Now while this person’s logic seems to rule out that Jesus was God, it also means that the Bible contains a very significant contradiction. If no one has seen God, how is it that Sarai, Jacob, Moses et al, and Monoah and his wife are said to have seen God?
Actually, this is a problem only for those who deny the deity of Christ while claiming to follow the teachings of the Bible. Let’s look again at John 1:18:
I think it is clear that John is speaking of the Father as the one who
has not been seen. To paraphrase it, “No one has ever seen God, but
the Son, who is at His side, has made Him known”. This
interpretation not only seems to follow naturally from this verse,
but is also quite consistent with the Logos doctrine taught in John 1.
Recall, it is the Logos who mediates between God and man, and who
reveals God to man. Jesus would later say, “Anyone who has seen me
has seen the Father.” Prior to the Incarnation of the Son, no one had
seen the Father, for it is through the Son that the Father is revealed.
“No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only (or Only
Begotten), who is at the Father’s side, has made him known."
So for the Trinitarian, there is no Bible contradiction. No one
ever saw God the Father, and what Sarai, Jacob, Moses, etc saw was
God the Son.
This can be seen from many perspectives, but let’s simply consider
one from Isaiah 6.
Isaiah “saw the Lord” (v 1). Seraphs were praising the “Lord
Almighty” (v 3). Isaiah is overwhelmed and responds, “Woe to me, I
am ruined. For I am a man of unclean lips [this rules him out as the
servant in Isaiah 53], and I live among a people of unclean lips, and
my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (v 5).
Later, we read:
Again, the plurality of God is implied.
Isaiah asks God to send him, and then God gave him a message to
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And
who will go for us?” (vs. 8).
Now it’s time to jump to John
John claims that the
peoples failure to believe in Jesus was a fulfillment of these
teachings Isaiah received from the Lord in Isaiah 6. Then note verse 41.
Here is a clear example where John equates Jesus with the Lord
Almighty seen by Isaiah! This all fits together beautifully. Isaiah
sees the Lord Almighty, yet he sees Jesus’ glory. Jesus speaks as a
plural being (who will go for US). It is the Son who is seen, not the
“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him”.
Thus, John 1:18 does not mean that Jesus was not God, it only means
He is not the Father. This verse presents no problems for the
Trinitarian, and in fact, when studied, serves as a great launching
point for finding Christ in the OT. Prior to the Logos dwelling
amongst us and revealing the Father to us, no one had seen the
Father. But because of the Incarnation, we can now cry, “Abba,
Father” (Romans 8:15) and “Our Father who art in heaven”! Those who
see the Son can see the Father.
5. God is tired and rests
"In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he
rested, and was refreshed." [Ex 31:17]
God is never tired and never rests
"The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth,
fainteth not, neither is weary." [Is
God is not everywhere present, neither sees nor knows all things
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God
as he was walking in the garden in the cool of day, and they hid from
the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” [Gen
“But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that men were building.” [Gen 11:5]
“The the LORD said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so
great and their sins so grievous that I will go down and see if what
they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I
will know.” [Gen
I accept the teaching that God is everywhere present and sees and
knows all things. So let’s consider the instances in Genesis that are
Let’s also add the next verse to strengthen the critics case: “But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Gen 3:8 – “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God
as he was walking in the garden in the cool of day, and they hid from
the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”
How could one hide from God? Why does God need to ask this
First, what Adam and Eve could have hid from is merely the visible
and special manifestation of the Lord. As for God’s seeming
ignorance, anyone with children can recognize the utility of such
questions. If a child is known to have broken a lamp, it is better to
question the child than to simply accuse her. The former approach
enables the child to take an active role in her wrong-doing, and
allows for her to apologize. Note that God asked several questions:
“Where are you?….Who told you that you were naked?….Have you eaten
of the fruit of the tree?”
Note the response. Instead of begging for mercy and confessing their
sins, both the man and woman justified themselves and sought to put
the blame on another. So typically human! By asking these
questions, God enabled the man and woman to either freely repent or
to firmly establish their sinfulness. Thus, while the critic thinks
these are questions demonstrating ignorance, such an interpretation
can be easily dismissed in light of the above considerations. What of the others?
“But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that men
were building.” [Gen
“The the LORD said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sins so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” [Gen 18:20-21] These look like common human notions of someone coming down to check out what is going on. And perhaps, that’s how the writer of these accounts understood God. But perhaps there is also another layer to the account. Obviously, it teaches God’s transcendence. But it also demonstrates God’s interest. He is not an aloof sky-god. And he doesn’t watch from afar. He gets right down into human history.
But there is more. Maimonides once noted that just as the
word ‘ascend’, when applied to the mind, implies noble and elevated
objects, the word ‘descend’ implies turning one’s mind to things of
lowly and unworthy character. Thus, God is not “coming down” in a
physical sense, but in a “mental” sense, where he turns his attention
to the sinful activity of men and invokes judgment. Of course, it is
hard to describe God in human language, but I think the above account
is not unreasonable.
Since these supposed contradictions depend on a particular
interpretation which is (or at the very least may be) in error, no
contradiction has been established.
God tries men to find out what is in their heart
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God.” [Gen
“Remember how the LORD your God lead you all the way in the desert
these forty years, to humble you and test you in order to know what
was in your hearts.” [Deut
“The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him
with all your heart and with all your soul.” [Deut
Could it be that these three instances simply serve to reveal and
verify to man that which is already known by God? Anyone who has
ever had a college chemistry course can probably relate to the
following. A chemistry professor comes into class, and says, “I will
now add acetic acid to this compound to see what happens.” The
professor already knows what will happen! After the experiment, he
might even add, “I now know that such and such results will occur
after adding the acid.” Here he is simply putting himself in the place
of the class, and speaking for them.
What the three verses could be showing is that once again, God is not
some aloof sky-god who merely dictates. Instead, he relates.
By asking questions, by claiming to have found something, he relates
and allows man to play an active, not passive, role in the
relationship. For example, Abraham now knew that God knew his
heart. And he also knew God’s knowledge was true in light of the
‘test’ that he just went through.
In this supposed contradiction, along with the one immediately
prior, the critic perceives ignorance on the part of God because of a
belief that an omniscient God ought to dictate. Why can’t an
omniscient God refrain from dictating, and simply relate in a way
which intimately involves humanity?
God is not all powerful
"The LORD was with the men of Judah. They took possession of the
hill country, but they were unable to drive the people from the
plains, because they had iron chariots.” [Judg
This is obviously not a contradiction.John Baskette notes that the critic is “reading the verse as saying that the LORD … he … could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley.” He adds: “This is an egregiously bad misreading of the text. The ‘he’ is Judah! not the LORD. That should be obvious to even the most obtuse objector.”
9. God is unchangeable[James 1:17 / Mal 3:6 / Ezek 24:14 / Num 23:19]
God is changeableEx 33:1,3,17,14]
Once again, these purported contradictions all presuppose some platonic-type sky god. Christianity has always believed that God is a God who relates and who is personal. And whenever there is a personal relationship, there is a dynamic. And dynamics can involve both immutability and change. Whenever you have a personal dynamic, when one person changes, the other responds in a way which reflects this change. But all is not relative. If God’s essence is immutable, then He is the standard by which such change is understood.
For example, imagine you are in a field standing next to a tree. As
you walk around the tree, you may end up north of the tree (and the
tree is south of you). If you continue walking, such a relative
relationship changes, so that you might find yourself south of the
tree (and the tree is north of you). In the same way, our behavior
towards God is like walking around the tree. Depending upon what
we do, God is in a different relationship with us.
Let’s consider a better analogy. A man and a wife are in a happy
marriage. The man commits adultery, and the wife becomes unhappy.
Has the wife changed in a significant manner? Not really. Her
change is a function of what her husband did, and reflects the immutability of her belief that infidelity is wrong.
In the purported contradictions, we have a set of Scriptures which speak of God’s essence – it is unchangeable. The other set deal with God’s relationships with men (they don’t abstractly speak of God’s essence). Thus, as the above analogies show, there need be no contradiction.
10. God is just and impartial
“To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock and there is no unrighteousness in him.” [Ps 92:15]
“Far be it from Thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with
the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike.
Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal
justly?” [Gen 18:25]
“The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” [Deut 32:4]
“Yet you say, “The way of the LORD is not right.” Here now, O house
of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not
right?” [Ezek 18:25]
“For there is no partiality with God.” [Rom
God is unjust and partial
“So he said, Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brothers.” [Gen 9:25]
“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God,
am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers in the children,
on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.” [Ex
“for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything
good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice
might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, it
was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is
written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” [Rom
“For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have in abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken from him.” [Mt 13:12] The first set is as follows:
“To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock and there is no unrighteousness in him.” [Ps 92:15] = Basic Teaching (BT) — God is righteous
“Far be it from Thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with
the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal
justly?” [Gen 18:25]
= (BT) — God does not condemn the righteous with
“The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; a God of
faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” [Deut
32:4] = (BT) — God is righteous
“Yet you say, “The way of the LORD is not right.” Here now, O house
of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not
right?” [Ezek 18:25]
= (BT) — God’s ways are right, the ways of Israel,
when the prophet spoke, were not.
“For there is no partiality with God.” [Rom 2:11] = (BT) — God is impartial. However, it seems clear from the context that we are talking about God being impartial when it comes salvation being offered to both Jew and Gentile. Thus, the verses cited below could only be contradictory if they teach that Christ’s atonement was only for the Jews or Gentiles. Since they don’t, we need only consider if God is unrighteous in any of them.
The second set is as follows:
“So he said, Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to
his brothers.” [Gen
9:25] Here, one must read a contradiction into the
teachings as it is unclear whether Noah’s curse would make God
“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers in the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.” [Ex 20:5] The following verse notes that loving-kindness extends to thousands of generations of those who love God. This leads me to believe this verse is hyperbolic and thus difficult to make into a contradiction. For example, is God really unrighteous for bestowing blessings for a thousand generations, yet visiting iniquity for ONLY three or four generations? The thrust seems to run in the other direction. Whether or not one views this as “unrighteous” is a function of their ethics, and thus the “contradiction” is read into the scripture. (BTW, I would note, however, that sinful behavior is often transmitted in families. For example, the son of an alcoholic is often an alcoholic himself.)
MaryAnna responds to another related “contradiction” which is also
Are children punished for the sins of the
Exo. 20:5 tells us that God is to be feared, as He
has the ability to visit the sins of the fathers on
Ezek. 18:20 tells us this will not happen if the children
repent and turn away from the ways of their fathers.
Not a contradiction.
“for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” [Rom 9:11-13] Again, I view that “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” as a hyperbole which indicates that God simply favored Esau. This is not a clear case of unrighteousness.
“For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have in abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken from him.” [Mt 13:12] I view this as a proverbial way of saying that he who improves upon the gifts that he receives will receive more, but he who does not improve upon them (i.e., neglects or takes them for granted) shall have them removed. I find this the very opposite of unrighteousness.
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 11-20
11. God is the author of evil
“Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” [Lam 3:38]
“Now therefore say to the people of Judah that those living in
Jerusalem, ‘This is what the LORD says: Look! I am preparing a
disaster for you and devising a plan for against you. So turn from
your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and actions.” [Jer 18:11]
“I form light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create
disaster; I the LORD, do all these things.” [Is
“I also gave them over to statues that were not good and laws they
could not live by.” [Ez
“When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it? [Amos 3:6]
Josh 11:20 /
Now, in Deut 32:4, we read that God is just. None of the above
verses teach that God is unjust. Paul is speaking about God in the
context of Church gatherings – that in such gatherings, God is a God
of peace, not confusion. None of the above verses speak of such
Church gatherings. James teaches that God does not tempt anyone
with evil. None of the above verses teach that God tempts with evil.
(I think Ez 20:25 is best understood in light of Romans 1). Thus, no
obvious contradictions in this set.
Joshua 11:20 says nothing about some asking, and God refusing to give. Is 63:17 says nothing about someone asking, and God refusing to give. John 12:40 says nothing about someone asking, and God refusing to give. In these three verses, it is mentioned that God “hardened the hearts” of someone. If someone never asked, and will never truly ask, it is not a contradiction to harden one’s heart, yet give to those who DO ask.
God is not to be found by those who seek him [Prov 1:28]
“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me.” [Pr 1:28]
Here, the context has been ignored. First of all, it is wisdom which
is speaking. Those who laugh, scoff, and refuse wisdom are not
going to magically find it when calamity strikes. If one wishes to
identify wisdom with God, the same principle holds – those who
scoff, reject, and laugh at God are not going to find God when
calamity strikes. After all, if they look, they look through the
filters of selfishness (i.e., “save my butt”). Instead of calling on God
or looking for God, they should be repenting. But those who live a
life of scorning God are not those who repent when disaster strikes.
Thus, no contradiction.
“The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.” [Ex
(Is 51:15 has nothing to do with war)
“The God of peace be with you all. Amen” [Rom
“For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.” [1 Cor 14:33]
It seems clear that God reveals Himself as a God of Battles in much
of the OT. So what of these NT teachings? This “contradiction” is
premised on equivocation, where the NT references to peace are
interpreted to be the antonym of war, when this is obviously not
the case. In Romans, Paul seems to be speaking of peace in a
subjective, existential sense — a relationship with God brings a
sense of peace. In Corinthians, Paul is speaking about the activity
of Church congregations — they should be orderly and peaceful, not
full of confusion and contention. No obvious contradiction here.
The first set of scriptures say nothing about God being cruel (this is
a subjective call). They deal simply and bluntly with God’s
judgment. Thus, we have a both/and situation here. Yes, God is
merciful and full of compassion. Yet, those who reject his mercy
and compassion will find that His judgment in unrelenting and
ferocious — that is His nature.
The verse in Numbers and Jeremiah do not teach some general truth
that "God’s anger is fierce and endures long.” This is the critic’s
personal interpretation. In Jeremiah, in RESPONSE to
Judah’s great sin, God’s anger is kindled (which itself, implies that
it is slow to occur) and will “burn forever.” I view this as a
hyperbole (like “walking a thousand miles”). Put simply, God’s anger
against Judah would endure long. In Num 32, God’s anger burned
against Israel because of their sin and he made them wander in the
desert 40 years. In Num 25, we read that God had Moses slay those
who sought to contaminate the Jews with pagan ideals in order that
his fierce anger may turn away from Israel. Since there is no
contradiction between a fierce anger, and an anger slow to rise, this
is an irrelevant verse.
So let’s focus on duration. Above, we saw that God’s anger lasted
long (in human terms) in SPECIFIC cases as the RESULT of sinful
behavior. What of the Psalms? First, let’s keep in mind that we
have now entered the territory of another genre – poetry. As such,
it’s going to be hard to make an unequivocal contradiction. Anyway,
in Ps 103, we simply note that God is slow to anger. Nothing in Jer
or Num contradicts this. In Ps 30:5, it appears as if David is
speaking from his personal experience with God in saying that God’s
anger lasts only a moment. And what is a ‘moment’ in poetical terms
anyway? And could this teaching be yet one more proverbial way of
saying that God is far more gracious than angry? That is, when all
is said and done, what is revealed is a God who is slow to anger,
quick to forgive, yet who can indeed demonstrate a fierce anger
when provoked by great or ubiquitous sin. I see no obvious
The first set of Scriptures explains where God institutes sacrifices, etc., among Israel. Nothing in the second set contradicts this. In Jer 7:22, we read, “I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices,” The author of this supposed contradiction conveniently left out the next verse: “ but I gave them this command: “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people.” This is obviously not a disapproval of burnt offerings, but a disapproval on emphasizing such offerings to the exclusion of obedience in all areas. Jer 6:20 speaks of the incense in Sheba, hardly contradicting the first set. The verse in Psalms is lifted out of context, as the LORD clearly says, “I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices.” (Ps 50:8). The verses in Isaiah are also lifted out of context. God rebukes the people for the sacrifices because they represent religious hypocrisy. Is 1:15-17 clearly demonstrate this.
God forbids human sacrifice [Deut 12:30,31]
The account in Gen 22:2 has been the subject of a great wealth of
religious speculation, but the fact remains that Isaac was not
sacrificed. The account in 2 Sam is misnamed as a “human
sacrifice.” It looks far more like an execution carried out by the
Gibeonites because Saul had previously persecuted them. The verses
in Judges do not obviously indicate that Jephthah offered his
daughter as a “human sacrifice” and if He did, there is no indication
that God “accepted it.” No contradictions here.
God tempts no man [James 1:13]
Gen 22 refers to testing; 2 Sam says nothing about God tempting;
In Jer 20, the prophet Jeremiah is simply complaining. Just because
in a moment of desperation, he accuses God of deceiving him, does
not mean that God DID deceive him. Mt 6:13 is part of the Lord’s
prayer, “lead us not into temptation.” The prayer simply inquires of
God that helps us keep our distance from temptation (hardly an
example of God tempting men!). The only possible hope of a contradiction in this set is to equate testing with temptation. But is
testing identical to tempting? For example, let’s say God wants to
test someone’s honesty and puts them in a room with a lost wallet.
Is this tempting? I think not. To truly tempt, God would have to whisper, “Pick it up, keep it, no one will know, etc.” No clear
In this case, we need not even consider the scriptures. As “sending forth lying spirits” is not the same as actually lying yourself.
But, MaryAnna White notes:
1 Kings 22:21-22 Lying spirit –
Here, of course, God does not lie directly nor approve of nor
sanction man’s lying. One could argue that all that happens on
earth is permitted by God – He could stop it if He saw fit.
He even permitted Satan to cause Job to suffer – a much
more interesting case. But that does not mean that He is the
source of all such things. They just afford Him opportunities,
as here, to accomplish what He is after. As they are useful
to Him, He permits them to continue for a season. Like Judas.
Eventually, those instruments no longer useful, all such
spirits and men will be judged by being cast into the eternal
lake of fire. That is neither approval nor sanction, but
merely proof of God’s sovereignty. —MAW
The basic point is that by allowing the spirit to lie, God is not Himself
lying. After all, God allows us all to lie, but He is not a liar for
allowing us to lie.
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 21-30
Because of man’s wickedness God will not destroy him [Gen 8:21]
This is only a contradiction because the critic interprets it as
so. Does Genesis 8:21 say that God will not destroy man because
he is wicked? Not really. For God says that he will never again
curse the ground, even though man’s heart is evil (NIV). Furthermore,
cursing the ground does not necessarily mean the same thing as
destroying man, now does it?
Romans 1:20 simply notes that Creation points to the Creator – a
divine being of great power. Job 11:7 points out that we can never
fully grasp the divine, it does NOT say that God cannot be inferred
from nature. Is 40:28 notes that we can never hope to fully
scrutinize the understanding of God. None of this is contradictory.
This, of course, would lead us to a discussion of the Trinity,
something that is beyond the scope of this article. Trinitarian
theology is a classic example of “both/and” thinking. Besides, what
of Deut 6:4?
Deut. 6:4 reads, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
Now it is important to note that the Hebrew word used for ‘one’ is
NOT yahid, which denotes absolute singularity elsewhere in the OT.
Instead, Moses chose the Hebrew word ehad, which signifies unity
and oneness in plurality. This word is used in Gen 2:24 where Adam
and Eve are instructed to become “one flesh”. It’s also found in
where the Hebrew spies returned with a “single
cluster” of grapes. So Deut 6:4 actually supports the concept of the
Trinity, by noting that God is “oneness in plurality" (composite unity). The same word
which describes the oneness of a marriage relationship is also used
to describe God’s essence!
It’s not at all obvious that you can refer to the instances in Ex 3, 12 as “robbery.” When African-Americans demand recompensation for their history of slavery, are they demanding to rob white people? Thus, these are not obvious examples of God commanding robbery. Besides, in Ex. 3 and 12, the Israelites asked the Egyptians for goods.
Rev speaks of all liars being cast into the lake of fire. Since the first set of scriptures do not say otherwise, we can dismiss this one. Proverbs speaks of lying as an abomination. Since the first set of scriptures do not say lying is not an abomination, we can dismiss this one. The verse in Ex is one of the Ten Commandments.
It’s not obvious to me that lying is approved of in the above situations. Concerning Rahab (Josh 2:4-6), James says, “the harlot was justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way” (James 2:25). Her act of saving the lives of these men is what is approved of. The same goes for Ex 1, where the midwives refuse to kill the male infants which were birthed. As for 1 King 22:21-22, once again it is unclear if lying is truly approved of. According to one Bible scholar:
“The whole declaration of Micaiah…is a figurative and poetical description of a vision that he had seen. Putting aside its rhetorical drapery, the gist of the whole passage is that God for judicial purposes suffered Ahab to be fatally deceived.”
Another scholar says:
“Because Ahab had abandoned the Lord his God and hardened his own heart, God allowed his ruin by the very instrument Ahab had sought to prostitute for his own purposes, namely, prophecy. God used the false declarations of the false prophets that Ahab was so enamored with as his instruments of judgment.”
Since it is unclear that God truly approves of lying in this case, the
contradiction is not established.
Hatred to the Edomite forbidden [Deut 23:7]
The account in Deut indeed forbids hatred against the Edomite.
Does the account in 2 Kings sanction it? Not at all. It merely
mentions that Amaziah slew many Edomites. And while hatred can
be part of warfare, it need not be. And since the account in 2 Kings
doesn’t even mention hatred of the Edomites, this is obviously a
Killing forbidden [Ex 20:13]
Ex 20:13 reads, “You shall not murder.” Not all killing is murder.
The blood-shedder must not die [Gen 4:15]
Gen 4:15 makes no such generalization. It is specific to Cain. This
is an example where the critic takes an incident and transforms it
into an absolute principle. Besides, the covenant in Gen 9 was made
with Noah, who existed much later than did Cain.
The making of images commanded [Ex 25:18,20]
Ex 20:4 states than one should not make idols and bow down and
worship them. The cherubims in Ex 25 are not idols, nor were they worshipped.
Slavery and oppression (two different things in the Bible)
Gen. 9:25 Canaan is punished, sentenced to be a bondsman. (slave) This is a punishment by God upon Ham through the mouth of his father Noah for his rebellious insubordination and disregard for God’s authority on earth at that time – his father. He could have been killed for this, but instead he was merely told that some of his descendents would be slaves. This is not a condoning of oppression, but a prophecy that such a judgment would indeed be carried out. (Ones who died for rebellion include Korah and Absalom; Miriam was judged with a case of leprosy for a few days.) This verse says nothing to those who would be the slave owners as to whether their action is condoned or not.
Lev. 25:45 It’s ok to buy a stranger for a bondsman/woman if someone sells him/her to you, as long as it’s not a fellow Israelite.
Joel 3:8 God punishes Tyre (?) by selling the people to the Israelites as slaves and then selling them to the Sabeans.
Still no mention of condoning oppression.
Isa. 58:6 mentions a particular fast to Jehovah as a breaking of every yoke. Surely that cannot refer to (include) the yoke on the oxen, so there is some limitation to which yokes are broken. Some yokes are forbidden – i.e. yoking a fellow Israelite- and are undoubtedly included. The case of a foreign slave could be argued either way and hence this verse is not a clear contradiction of any of the above.
Exod. 22:21 Not permitted to vex or oppress strangers. Does not say, not permitted to buy them.
Exod. 21:16 Not permitted to steal and sell people. Does not say, not permitted to buy and sell them.
Matt. 23:10 is irrelevant. It says, “Neither be called instructors, because One is your Instructor, the Christ.” (RV). Footnote: “Or, guides, teachers, directors.” This section is talking about how we address fellow believers. It earlier says to call no one “father.” Obviously it is talking here about differentiating among believers by bestowing titles of honor. These titles should be reserved for God alone, not bestowed on men. But our physical father is still our father, our school teachers are still our teachers, and our masters, if we are slaves, are still our masters and are to be called such if they so demand. The President is still the President, etc. We are admonished in the Bible to show honor to those in authority over us in our families, in the government, etc. —MAW
Gen 9:25 has Noah stating that Canaan will be the servant of Japheth. This does not necessarily read as the ordination of “slavery and oppression” by God. The verses in Lev refer to a mild form of servitude. Joel simply threatens captivity as a punishment for sin. None of these verses unequivocally ordain “slavery and oppression.”
On the other hand, the verses in Isaiah and Exodus do forbid truly
oppressive behavior. The verse in Mt. is irrelevant to this subject.
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 31-40
Luke 6:30,35 / Luke 12:3]
I believe that this is a case of both/and, as neither extreme is good. These teachings serve to balance each other.
Matt. 6:28, 31, 34
— these verses tell us not to be anxious.
They don’t tell us not to work for our living.
Luke 6:31-35 tell us to give to those that ask, and to lend without expecting any return. This again is not telling us not to provide for our own needs. If we didn’t have it in the first place we wouldn’t be able to give or lend it. And it doesn’t say that the borrowers or askers are approved by God. The reward mentioned here goes to the givers, not to the takers. This is made obvious by verse 29, which says to turn the cheek to those who smite it. Clearly the Bible is not meaning that we are supposed to go around slapping people in the face.
Luke 12:3 says “Therefore what you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in the private rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” What this has to do with improvidence, I have no idea, unless it is meant as an example of condoning of eavesdropping and gossip. That would be a really strange inter- pretation of this verse, looking at the context.
1 Tim. 5:8 says we must provide for our own. (Doesn’t say we need to be full of anxiety, just do it.)
Proverbs 13:22 – a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…. Yup. —MAW
32. Anger approved
“In your anger do not sin: do not let the sun go down while you are
still angry.” [Eph 4:26]
I do not view Paul’s admonitions as being approving of anger. In fact, the advice about not allowing the day to end while you are angry is anything but an approval of anger. Phil Porvaznik adds: the context of Eph 4:31 says explicitly to "let all….anger…be put away from you…" Also there is a difference between the KJV and NIV in Matthew 5:22.
The KJV reads "whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause
shall be in danger of the judgment." (Matt 5:22)
The NIV (NU-text) is missing the phrase "without a cause." So when
the NIV says Christ was "angry" (Mark 3:5) some (e.g. KJV only folks)
say Christ would be sinning.
Let’s see if this makes sense. Please read the rest of Matthew 5:22 in the KJV — "whosoever shall say, Thou FOOL, shall be in danger of hell fire." Notice the phrase "without a cause" is missing here. IOW, it doesn’t say "whosoever shall say, Thou fool, without a cause…." it simply reads "thou FOOL." Next we look at what Christ said to the Pharisees — "Ye FOOLS…." (Matt 23:17,19 KJV). Does this mean Christ is sinning and in danger of hell fire? Of course not.
The answer to the "anger" passage is simple. There are different types of anger — righteous and unrighteous — just as there are different senses to the use of "FOOL" (atheists are called "fools" for denying God by the Psalmist 14:1). The apostle Paul quotes the Psalmist who says "be ye angry, and sin not" (Eph 4:26 KJV). There is "anger" that is not necessarily sinful.
Jesus, who is said to be "without sin" throughout the Bible (2 Cor
5:21; Heb 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pet 1:19; 1 John 3:5) was "angry" in the sense
of "righteous anger" — He was "grieved" (Gr sunlupeo)
because of the hardness of the hearts of those who criticised His healing on the
Sabbath day (see the context Mark 3:1-6). Jesus also was "angry" at
the death of Lazarus — he "groaned in the spirit" (John 11:33,38) and
saw death as the "last enemy" (1 Cor 15:26). Since I’m a Catholic,
I’ll quote from our universal Catechism of the Catholic Church —
2302. Anger is a desire for revenge. "To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit," but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution "to correct vices and maintain justice" [quoting St. Thomas Aquinas]. If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, "Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment" [Matt 5:22].
It is this kind of "anger" that is forbidden. As Paul writes — "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you" (Eph 4:31-32 KJV). —PPMatt 6:1]
Here is a case where context matters. In Mt 5, Jesus is speaking in the context of being the salt of the earth. It is by allowing Christ to work through us that people will be drawn to Him. That is, one does good works to glorify God. In Mt 6, Jesus is talking about doing good works in a self-righteous sense, where one draws attention to self. Consider a very practical example — a Christian who serves by feeding the poor ought to do so humbly and quietly. They will eventually be noticed, if only by those they serve. The same Christian shouldn’t be bragging about his work among acquaintances, where a “holier-than-thou” sense is evident. The former approach draws people to God, the latter repels them.1 Cor 6:2-4 / 1 Cor 5:12]
This is a commonly employed ‘contradiction’ which also ignores context. Mt 7 is not dealing with judging in of itself, rather, it speaks of hypocrisy — judging others by standards that one does not live by.Luke 22:36 / John 2:15]
Since using a scourge to drive out the animals and overturn the tables is not as case of “physical resistance,” the verse in John is irrelevant. In Luke, it appears as if Jesus is teaching the disciples that in their changed circumstances, self-defense and self-provision might be necessary. The very fact that two swords was “enough” indicates a restrained theme to this teaching. Mt 5 is where Jesus teaches that one ought to “turn the other cheek.” This is a hyperbole used to teach a moral lesson – do not set yourself against those who have injured you (does anyone really think that Jesus would have us expose our chests and invite the mugger the shoot us?). In Mt 26, someone with Jesus struck out at the legal authorities. Here the context is different from that of Lk 22. I read this as saying that those who raise the sword against the legal authorities can expect to die by the sword (and of course, this in of itself is not necessarily a moral principle). Then again, in light of vs 53,54, one cannot establish that this teaching goes beyond the immediate circumstances. That is, if the disciples had fought, they would have been killed, and Jesus had better things in mind. That’s why he told them He could summon supernatural aid if need be.John 7:1]
Luke 12 is a generalized teaching which states that one ought to fear God more so than men (read vs. 5). John 7:1 says nothing about Jesus being afraid that the Jews would kill him. It simply mentions that He avoided them since they wanted to kill Him. It wasn’t His time to die yet.
9:3] Public prayer disapproved [Matt 5:5,6]
Mt 6 (not 5) does not as much focus on public prayer as it does on hyocritical prayer — “And when you pray, you are not to pray as hypocrites.” Jesus condemns the prayers designed to gather favor in the eyes of men. Nothing contradictory here.Matt 6:7,8]
The vain repetitions (“as the heathen do”) Jesus speaks of in Mt hardly seem to me to be the fervant supplications that Luke relays. Put simply, there’s a difference between fervant, real prayer and repetitive chanting or mouthing words over and over in order to twist God’s arm (so to speak).
Num 6:5] The wearing of long hair by men condemned [1 Cor 11:14]
Judg. 13:5 the Nazarite is not permitted to cut his hair. Num. 6:5 teaches the same thing. 1 Cor. 11:14 teaches that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him.
Yes, true. The Nazarites kept long hair even though it
was a dishonor to them. 1 Cor. 11:10 tells us that long hair
is a sign of submission. So the Nazarites submitted to God
even though it meant suffering some shame, for the duration
of their vow. They also stayed away from dead things and
any product of the grape, I think. —MAW
One could also note that national customs furnish an explanation here. 1 Cor was addressed to a Greek audience, where long hair on men often indicated effeminacy and indulgences in unnatural vices.
Circumcision condemned [Gal 5:2]
Gen. 17:10 God institutes circumcision to set His people apart. This is in the Old Testament where God would use a special people through which His Messiah could be brought forth.
Gal. 5:2 Spoken to ones who already believe in Christ but were
not circumcised – if they go to be circumcised, they are going
back to the law. This means they are denying the effectiveness
of Christ’s death… so they lose out on the benefits of being
This is not the only such verse. Paul says elsewhere that we
should beware those of the circumcision, also calling them the
concision and even dogs. This is referring to the Judaizers who
were trying to get the believers to be circumcised as a condition
of their salvation.. among other things. They were trying to
bring the believers under the law, even though these believers
had been previously Gentiles and not Jews.
Paul tells us – it is not that all who have been circumcised
are condemned, but rather that circumcision is no longer necessary
in the New Testament because it has been replaced by the cross of
Indeed, here is another case (like #1) where the critic ignores the
intervening events between the Scriptures cited. He/she may as
well argue that the existence of a OLD and NEW covenant is a
contradiction. And that exercise would be futile.
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 41-50
The Sabbath is a topic a lot of Christians disagree on (e.g. Seventh-day
Exo. 20:8 teaches that the Sabbath was instituted. But it was also
practiced by God Himself even as early as day seven.
Isaiah 1:13 God says the wicked people are displeasing to God,
and He no longer delights in anything they do, including keeping
the Sabbath and making offerings to Him. No surprise there.
Romans 14:5 and Col. 2:16 are New Testament verses.
Romans 14:5 neither supports the Sabbath nor repudiates it, though.
It just says some keep and some don’t and both are to be accepted
as genuine believers. No problem there. (See verse 10).
Colossians 2:16 is the same story. “Let no one judge you with
regards to the Sabbath” sounds like a far cry from “You are forbidden
to keep the Sabbath” or “The Sabbath is bunk.”
This matter would really do better dealt with on the larger scale of “Should New Testament believers be required to keep the entire Old Testament law?” Then one could bring in Eph. 2:15 and so on to show that on the one hand the moral aspects of the law are uplifted in the New Testament (Matt. 5-7), yet on the other hand the rituals are abolished (Sabbath, circumcision, feasts) and the offerings are replaced by Christ as the one unique Sacrifice. The middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles has been torn down by Christ on the cross and there is no longer any difference (among Christians). See discussion with James in Acts regarding this matter. —MAW
The teaching in Isaiah does not repudiate the Sabbath. If we read
further, the LORD says:
“Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take
your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!”
[Is 1:15-17] Obviously, God is condemning the religious hypocrisy in
Nevertheless, even if we take the above claims as truth, namely,
that God instituted the Sabbath in Exodus, and repealed it through
Paul (and we need not debate if this is the true interpretation), as it
stands, this is not contradictory. It is not contradictory to institute
X and then repeal it much later.
The Sabbath instituted because God brought the Israelites out of Egypt [Deut 5:15]
In this case, I see no reason why both explanations cannot be true.
As such, the Sabbath could have been rooted in the order of things and in the historical intervention of the Creator.
Why was the Sabbath instituted?
Exod 22:11 tells us the Israelites should rest
because God rested on the seventh day.
Deut 5:15 tells the Israelites that God commanded them to keep the Sabbath because of their deliverance from Egypt.
The wording is different between the two statements. Deut.
tells us the reason for the commandment to keep the Sabbath. Exo
does not, but merely tells us a good reason why they should keep it.
Anyway, it is not uncommon to do something for
more than one reason. Especially good reasons. —MAW
First of all, Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, not subject of the Sabbath. As for his disciples, they were charged with breaking the Sabbath because they picked some heads of grain and ate them. Jesus corrected the Jewish leaders on their legalism (read the entire discussion in Mt 12). Jesus did not condone working on the Sabbath, he just pointed out the folly of taking this law to the extreme were people could not eat or help others on the Sabbath.
No work could be done on Sabbath but Jesus worked on Sabbath
and justified His disciples in doing the same. Yup. In the Old Testament no work could be done on the Sabbath,
although it was ok to pull an ox out of the ditch.
The Lord Jesus in the New Testament is the Lord of the Sabbath
and perfectly free to break it and even abolish it, since He
is the one who set it up in the first place. Also, He is the
reality of the shadows. The Old Testament Sabbath was a rest
for God’s people, but in the New Testament our real Sabbath
is the One who said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and
heavy-ladened, and I will give you rest.” Also, Hebrews tells
us that there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.
This is not talking about an outward ritual of sitting around
all day once a week reading the Torah, but about resting in Christ
as our real inward peace and rest and sanctuary in this age
and in full in the age to come.
Like I said earlier, this can be a pretty controversial issue,
but at least grant me that it’s a possible explanation which
removes the validity of 43 as a contradiction in the Bible.
Others may explain it differently. —MAW
Baptism not commanded [1 Cor 1:17,14]
This is not a contradiction. Paul simply responded to the favoritism which sprang up along the lines of who baptized whom. Furthermore, Paul notes that his particular calling was not as a baptizer, but as a preacher.
1 Cor 10:25 / Rom 14:14] Certain kinds of animals prohibited for food [Deut 14:7,8]
The NT references stem from the New Covenant. The Genesis reference indicates that God sanctioned non-vegetarian diets. The Deut references are particular to the Jews and the Old Covenant that was made with them.Matt 5:34]
Jesus is trying to get beyond human conventions and the frivolous oaths which were common and was calling for simple and pure honesty. Hebrews refers specifically to God and indicates His commitment/covenant.
Does the Bible sanction or forbid oaths? In the Old Testament they are not commanded, but
permitted. Num. 30 explains when they can be annulled.
God Himself made an oath as recorded in Heb. 13:4.
In Matt. 5:34 we New Testament believers are told
not to swear by anything but to just say yes and no.
The explanation given is that we are powerless to
change our hair color. (Natural color.) But surely
God is not similarly powerless, so if He wants
to swear something, He is perfectly able to carry
it out and nothing can come up to stop Him. No
So OT permits swearing (doesn’t command it) and
sets limits on it. The uplifted NT law abolishes
it altogether on the grounds that we are powerless
to guarantee the outcome. But God is not powerless,
so He can swear as He likes. —MAW
Paul is not disapproving marriage! He is simply saying that it is good to be unmarried. Saying it is good to not marry is not saying it is bad to marry. Being unmarried is good in the sense that particular blessings can stem from it (in fact, Paul even describes celibacy as a “gift”). However, another set of blessings can stem from being married.
Does God approve of marriage? Let’s just look at the verses cited as saying that God disapproves of marriage, since obviously He approves.
Verse 26 tells us why Paul says this. It is
because of the present necessity. Well, these three
verses do not tell us that God disapproves of marriage,
but only that there is nothing wrong with staying
single. “Good for them.” A man who is content to
refrain from touching any woman must really be
full of the enjoyment of God, as Paul was. This
is surely a good thing, although most people
are not like that. As verse 7 says, each has
his own gift from God, and for most people it is not
the gift of staying single forever, although Matt. 19:10-12
tells us (not cited) that there is a blessing for those
that are able to keep it. Other verses not quoted tell
us that the married person cares for how to please
his/her mate, whereas the single one is free to
concentrate on pleasing the Lord.
Anyway, none of these verses say that God disapproves
of marriage. To teach others not to marry is to spread
the doctrines of demons. (1 Tim. 4:1-5).
“What God has joined together.” If God disapproved of marriage, He would disapprove of
almost all humans that ever were. He Himself intends
to be married.
In 1 Tim. 5:14 Paul speaks of this matter again and makes it clear that his position is neither disapproval nor forbidding of marriage.
Genesis 2:18 It is not good for the man to be alone. I will
make a help suitable for him. —MAW
Divorce restricted [Matt 5:32]
Yes, Jesus issues a new commandment and even explains the permission 1500 years earlier. He now issues a higher calling.Num 31:18 / Hos 1:2; 2:1-3]
One has to read adultery INTO Num 31:18 — it is not obvious that this
verse is talking about adultery. As for Hosea, OT scholar Walter
Kaiser believes that when God told Hosea to marry Gomer, she was
not yet a harlot. (Besides, the exception doesn’t prove the rule).
Numbers 31:18 doesn’t say that the “yourselves”
were already married. Obviously it doesn’t refer
to the females among the Israelites, and so it
can just as easily also exclude all the married
and under-age males.
Hosea 1:2 God commands Hosea to marry a prostitute.
The very idea of using this as a justification of
adultery is absurd. The point here is to expose
the nation of Israel at that time for her unfaithful
and treacherous treatment of her Husband, God. Israel
was a prostitute in the eyes of God, because she was
going after idols, yet He still would marry her and
even take her back after she ran after idols again.
This is an example of an incredible level of forgiveness,
not of a condoning of the evil that she had done.
Hosea 2:1-3 God commands Hosea to go back and reclaim his unfaithful wife back from the man she was messing around with. (See above.) The point is that this is an extremely difficult thing for a man to do, to take back his wife even from the house of her lover and to have to pay a price to get her back. Yet this is what God did for the children of Israel and also did for us. What an incredible heart He has for us, even though we were spiritually harlots in His eyes; He still loved us enough to pay the price to redeem us. —MAW
Gen 17:16 says nothing about Sarah being Abrams sister. Gen 20:11 ignores Gen 12:11-13. Abraham had people believing that Sarah was his sister out of fear — it was a lie.
Is it ok to marry or cohabit with one’s sister? Well, in the early generations man didn’t have a choice.
Cain for example married someone, and the only gals
around were his siblings. Abraham also lived long before
Moses, who wrote Deuteronomy and Leviticus. After Moses,
nope, not a good idea to marry your sister. —MAW
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 51-60
A man may not marry his brother’s widow [Lev 20:21]This is a clear case of reading a contradiction INTO the Bible — Lev 20:21 says nothing obvious about marrying widows.
52. Hatred to kindred enjoined
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his
wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life —
he cannot be my disciple” [Luke 14:26]
Hatred to kindred condemned [Eph 6:2
/ Eph 5:25,29]
I have seen this verse used numerous times from atheists in an attempt to show that Jesus was not a nice guy. But let’s see if this verse really supports that position. Many atheists interpret this verse literally. To them, it is clear that Jesus was instructing us to hate our families. But is it?
It is a fairly basic rule in hermeneutics that a particular teaching should be interpreted in the light of general teaching, that is, in light of its context. So, does this hate-message fit into the overall context of Jesus’ teaching? Not really.
Elsewhere, Jesus responds to an inquiry about attaining eternal life. He replied, “ honor your mother and father”. [Matt. 19:19]. In fact, on another occasion Jesus censured those theologians who argued that people who had vowed to give God a sum of money which they later discovered could have been used to help their parents in need were not free to divert the money from religious purposes to which it had been vowed. In His characteristic condemnation of human traditions, Jesus observed: “Thus you nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites!” [Matt. 15:6-7]
Now, how can you hate your parents, yet also honor them? These seem to be exclusive sentiments.
On the cross, Jesus tells John to take His mother as his own. Was he telling John to hate her? Then why did John take Mary into his home?
An interesting thing happens if you put together some of these teachings. If we are to hate our family, why must we love our enemies? And by hating our families, they become our enemies, but then we are supposed to love them!
No, I find this literalistic interpretation of Luke 14:26 to be plagued with problems and taken out of context.
So what sense are we to make of this teaching? Perhaps Jesus is simply employing hyperbole to emphasize an important point. Let’s return to the immediate context of this verse. In Luke 14:27, He notes that a disciple must be willing to carry his cross. In verses 28-29, he teaches from the example of building a tower and that one should count the costs before beginning. In verses 31-32, he uses an example of a king going to war to illustrate the same point. Then in verse 33, he explains that we must be willing to give up everything to be His disciple. In verses he alludes to salt that loses its saltiness, which is thrown out. And finally, he sums it all up by saying “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” [vs. 35].
Now throughout this whole preaching, Jesus uses symbolic parables and hyperbole to drive His points home. And what is the point? I think it is rather clear, that commitment to Jesus is primary and always comes first. Thus, if you are willing to put others before Christ and unwilling to follow through with your commitment, you may as well never commit in the first place.
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me”.
In this case Jesus is speaking to his disciples, while in Luke He was addressing the crowds. But the same theme is present in both and His teaching to the disciples clearly explains the hyperbole in Luke.
I should also go back to that idiom. In the OT, the love-hate antithesis was used to distinguish between the intensity of one’s love, and not meant as a polarization of concepts. Perhaps the clearest example is in Gen. 29:30-31:
“So Jacob went to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban another seven years. When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb”.
Thus, Leah’s being hated or not loved really meant that she was loved less. In fact, in the poetry of the ancient Near East numerous terms were paired together. In such instances the meaning of these terms is far more dependent upon their idiomatic usage rather than their literal meaning in isolation.
Given that Jesus often teaches using symbolic parables and hyperbole, given the context of Luke’s passage, along with the context of other teachings of Jesus which certainly contradict a literal reading of Luke’s verse, and the use of the love-hate comparison in Hebrew idiom, all added to Matthews account of the same theme, a consistent picture comes out that Jesus was teaching that we should love our families less than He. His use of hyperbole is an effective way of getting attention and emphasizing his point at the same time. Commitment to Jesus comes first. By the way, this is another subtle implicit expression of Jesus as God, as elsewhere, he reminds us that we are to love “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” [Matt. 22:37].
Anyway, if Bob was to tell Sue that he loved her so much that “he’d walk a thousand miles without food and water just to be with her”, must Bob fulfill the literal sense of his statement for Sue to understand the depth of his love? If we insisted that hyperbole be taken literally, a very effective and deep method of communicating would be lost!
Is it ok to drink alcoholic beverages? Yup, but not in excess. And it’s not required.
(All things are lawful for me but I will not be brought under the power of any. All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. 1 Cor. 6:12 and 10:23).
Prov. 20:1 says abusers of wine are not wise.
The Lord was accused of being a drinker; it can be inferred that He did not entirely abstain from wine – just from drunkenness. However, anyone who is weak in this matter would do well not to touch the stuff. (IMHO)
A great verse not quoted is Eph. 4:18 (Compare with Acts 2:13-18). The point of wine in the Bible is a picture of our enjoyment of the Spirit. Well, atheists can’t be expected to understand that. Anyway, we should be crazy before God and sober before man. —MAW
It is not our duty to obey rulers, who sometimes punish the good and receive unto themselves damnation therefore [Ex 1:17,20 / Dan 3:16,18 / Dan 6:9,7,10 / Acts 4:26,27 / Mark 12:38,39,40 / Luke 23:11,24,33,35]
Should we obey our rulers? Are they God’s ministers? Do they punish only evildoers? Do they sometimes punish the good as well? Will they receive damnation for their injustices?
This question has to be answered in parts.
(1) Should we obey our rulers?
Romans 13:1-3, 6
says we should be subject to,
and not resist, the authorities over us.
Note: it doesn’t say obey. We should obey if
at all possible, unless such obedience is contrary
to God, as in the extreme cases below.
Exo. 1:17, 20 tells us that the midwives did not follow the pharoah’s command to kill the male babies of the Israelites and that God approved.
Dan. 3:16 18 tell us that Daniel’s three friends
disobeyed the king’s command to bow to the image.
It also tells us that they were willing to submit to
the consequences and that their attitude was not one
of defiance but of respectful disobedience. Same as
Daniel 6:7, 9, 10 tells us Daniel was the same.
He was submissive to the king and honored him, but was
unable to obey this one particular command because
it conflicted with His faithful worship of God. He also
submitted to the penalty. All three are special cases
where the authorities require something contrary to God.
All three are not obedient but are still subject and do
Acts 4:26-27 does not deal with this question.
Mark 12:38-40 “Beware the scribes” is not a command not
to respect them or do as they say. In another verse the
Lord makes this more clear, telling us to do as they say
but not as they do. The Lord had good reason to warn His
disciples to beware the scribes, as they were part of the
group that was plotting to kill Him. Anyway, that is not
the point here.
Luke 23:11, 24, 33, 35 Here the Lord submitted to the cruel treatment of the earthly government. He was a good example for us all.
(2) Are they God’s ministers?
Romans tells us that they are. No verse tells us that they
are not, although they do sometimes abuse their office after
they have received it from God. That makes them not much
different from King Saul or the sons of Eli. David and Samuel
(respectively) were still subject to them and respected them
as established by God.
(3) Do they punish only evildoers?
Romans 13:3 “For the rulers are not a terror to the
good work, but to the evil. Do you want to have no fear of
the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise
This is a general principle, explaining that if we rob a bank or kill someone or dodge our taxes (the example in the context), we will have something to fear from the authorities, whereas if we don’t we won’t. If they oppress us unjustly, that is a matter not being dealt with in this verse.
(4) Do they get punished by God for their injustices?
Yes. God is not a regarder of persons. Every individual,
regardless of status, will eventually face the judgment
Does the Bible affirm or deny women’s rights? (Hot topic.)
Gen. 3:16 the curse on the woman (man got one too).
The husband rules over the wife.
1 Tim. 2:12 Woman not permitted to teach or exercise
authority over a man, but to be in quietness.
1 Cor. 14:34 Silent. Not permitted to speak in the assemblies but to be subject. Next verse explains: it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church.
1 Pet. 3:6 As Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, so women
should be subject to their own husbands.
Judg. 4:4, 14-15 Deborah, a female, judged Israel. But note:
The Bible purposely mentions her husband’s name. She does not
choose to lead the people of Israel to battle but is told
to do so. She goes obediently when told, but tells Barak that
he will be shamed in that a woman will kill his enemy Sisera.
(It is a shame for a woman to defeat the enemy.) It is also
a shame to Barak that he cannot go to battle without a woman.
As a prophetess, she speaks, but she purposely keeps herself
in her proper position as a female by maintaining the safeguards
of her husband’s headship and obedience to the authority of
Barak. It is also a shame to Israel that there were no men
who could judge them and so God was forced to use a female.
(This does happen sometimes.)
Judg. 5:7 Confirms the fact that there was no male to rule
Israel properly and so God was forced to raise up Deborah.
Acts 2:18 Both men and women prophesy. Females prophesying is different from females teaching and exerting authority over men. Females can of course prophesy with their heads covered, signifying submission and acceptance of God’s ordination. Just as Deborah did.
1 Cor. 11:3 shows us that the point here is to
keep the proper order (v. 40) in the churches: God is the Head
of Christ. He, Christ, was fully in submission to the
Father in all things, even unto death. Likewise, men should
be headed up by Christ and women by men, especially their
own husbands. While on that topic:
Eph. 5:25-31 “Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also
loved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might
sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the
word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious,
not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she
should be holy and without blemish. In the same way the
husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own
bodies; he who loves his own wife loves himself. For no
one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes
it, even as Christ also the church, because we are members
of His Body. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother
and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.”
1 Peter 3:7 says that the wives are weaker and are to be treasured as vessels unto honor by their husbands.
1 Cor. 12:22-24 But much rather the members of the body which
seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body
which we consider to be less honorable, these we clothe
with more abundant honor; and our uncomely members come to have
more abundant comeliness, but our comely members have no need.
But God has blended the body together, giving more abundant
honor to the member that lacked.
2 Cor. 12:9-10 And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient
for you, for My power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly
therefore I will rather boast in my weaknesses that the
power of Christ might tabernacle over me. Therefore I
am well pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities,
in persecutions and distresses, on behalf of Christ; for
when I am weak, then I am powerful.
The brothers saw the vision on the mount of transfiguration,
were appointed as disciples and later as apostles, and in
the churches took on the responsibilities of being elders,
deacons, teachers, and so on. But it was a group of
sisters who supplied the funds for Jesus and His
disciples to live for those three and a half years.
It was a sister who willingly and without a second
thought offered herself to be used by God to bring forth
the Messiah, it was a sister who anointed the Lord Jesus
with the costly nard which may have been her entire life
savings and wiped His feet with her tears, sisters
who first learned of His resurrection, and a sister
who lingered at the tomb and was first to see Him in
resurrection. The Lord does not discriminate against us
sisters; rather, He is full of compassion for us in our
weakness. Let us love and seek Him with our whole heart. —MAW
Should masters be obeyed? Matthew 4:10 is referring to the service of worship, as the context makes clear. We are to worship only God. It is quoted from Deut. 6:13-14 which is also in the context of being forbidden to worship idols.
1 Cor. 7:20-24 tells slaves to remain as slaves even if the
opportunity arises to be liberated. Then verse 22 says
that a slave is the Lord’s freedman and a freeman is
the Lord’s slave. This is telling us that outwardly we
may be a slave or free but in the Lord we are His slave
and we are also free in Him. So although we are slaves
to men outwardly, the one we hold in our heart as our
true Master is the Lord. This is not a sanction of being
rebellious to our masters but a reference to our heart.
The context makes it clear that it is not saying that
slaves should seek to be free or to rebel against
Matt. 23:10. This verse was previously dealt with in question #30.
It is not referring to whether or not we have earthly masters,
but whether or not we address some believers as if they were
superior with titles of honor like Father and Teacher (Uh,
and Reverend and Pastor and Deacon). All believers are
brothers. Context: verses 6-11. Yes, there are apostles,
prophets, evangelists, etc. But we just don’t need to
address them honorifically. And mustn’t. —MAW
57. There is an unpardonable sin
“But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
has no forgiveness forever, but is guilty of an everlasting
sin.” [Mark 3:29]
There is not unpardonable sin
“And from all the things from which you
were not able to be justified by the law of Moses, in this
One everyone who believes is justified.”
Note that the critic is relying on a particular interpretation of Acts 13, as it doesn’t clearly say there is no unpardonable sin. It merely says that those who believe are justified. Now, Jesus’ teaching may be descriptive in essense – those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit are those who never believe. That is, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit may be a symptom of a heart which is in such rebellion that it never yeilds to the call of the Holy Spirit.
It is also possible that blaspheming the Spirit may simply be rejecting His call. Or at the very least, those who blaspheme the Spirit are ones who rebel against Him. Recall that the Spirit is sent to bring us into the Truth and convict us of sin. Those who would blaspheme the Spirit obviously rebel against Him, thus reject salvation. Thus, how could they be saved?
Man was created before the other animals [Gen 2:18,19]
The first chapter of Genesis is a synopsis of creation. The second is more detailed and focuses on the creation of man (and was unlikely intended to be a separate creation account). The NIV translates Gen 2:19 as follows:
“Now that LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man…”
Simply put, the Garden could have initially been without animal life, and God simply brought the animals he had already created to Adam.
Did seed time and harvest ever cease?
Gen. 8:22 “shall never cease.”
Gen. 41:54-56, 45:6 There was a famine over the whole earth for seven years. The seasons didn’t cease, just the fruitful yield thereof.
Seed time and harvest are another way of saying Spring and Fall, especially in the context of Genesis 8 which is speaking of the seasons. They were forced to cease during the flood, which was marked by heavy rainfall and not much variety. This was not what happpened in Egypt and the other countries during the famine in Genesis 41-45. —MAW
Pharaoh hardened his own heart [Ex 8:15]
Who hardened Pharoah’s heart? Exod. 4:21 and 9:12 God did. Exod. 8:15 Pharoah did.
MaryAnna notes that they both did. I agree, as much has been written on this topic. But I would note that people often react very differently to God’s actions. For example, let’s imagine that God invoked some calimity on people as a judgment for their sin. Some people would respond and repent. Many would simply harden their heart and blame God. Thus, by bringing about this calamity, some might be saved, but God could be said that have indirectly hardened the hearts of others. Of course, sometimes you don’t need calamity. I’m sure many Christian’s can testify of varying evangelistic experiences. After months of witnessing, some become saved. But sometimes, those who come awful close to being saved back away and become more rebellious than ever, their hearts being more hardened that ever after being touched by the convicting hand of the Holy Spirit.
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 61-70
All the horses of Egypt did not die [Ex 14:9]
The account in Ex 9:3 refers to the livestock in the field. If not all the Egyptian horses were in the fields, they wouldn’t all die, now would they?
Moses did not fear Pharaoh [Heb 11:27]
Hebrews says “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger.”
The accounts in Ex 2 and 4 describe events long before Moses led his people out of Egypt (besides, Ex 4 says nothing about Moses fearing Pharoah). This is obviously another contradiction which is read INTO the Bible.
There died of the plague but twenty-three thousand [1 Cor 10:8]
According to Paul, 23,000 fell “in one day.” The account in Numbers simply states that 24,000 died of the plague. It is not contradictory that 23,000 should die in a day, and another 1000 die before or after.
64. John the Baptist was Elias
“And if you are willing to receive
it, he is Elijah, who is to come.” [Matt 11:14]
John the Baptist was not Elias [John 1:21]
First, it should be pointed out some use this to show that John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah, or at least the idea of reincarnation was held by some (also John 9:1 ff) —PP. For a refutation see The Reincarnation Sensation
Note, in Matt. 11:14, not “He is” but “If you are willing to receive it, he is.” This indicates not a literal identity but a fulfillment of prophecy. This is referring to the prophecy in Mal. 4:5-6 “Behold, I will send unto you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of Jehovah. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
This prophecy has two fulfillments. First, before the Lord’s first coming, John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths. Luke 1:17. “And it is he who will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the prudence of the righteous, to prepare for the Lord a people made ready.”
The second fulfillment of this prophecy is before the second coming of the Lord. This has yet to happen, and at that time it will be Elijah, not one in the spirit and power of Elijah, who will actually come. This is confirmed by the Lord’s word in:
Matt. 17:10-13 “And the disciples asked Him, saying, Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first? And He answered and said, Elijah indeed is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah has already come; and they did not recognize him, but did with him the things they wished. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer by them. Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them concerning John the Baptist.”
Again the Lord is careful to point out that the literal Elijah has yet to come, but then to say “but I say to you.” This indicates that although Elijah is coming, it can also be said that he has come — referring to John the Baptist.
Elijah’s coming is also mentioned in Rev. 11:3-4. He will be one of the two witnesses.
John 1:21 John B. said that he was not Elijah. That’s right. He wasn’t the actual person of Elijah. That would happen much much later….
So in a sense he was Elijah, and yet he wasn’t. Not a contradiction. —MAW
The father of Mary’s husband was Heli [Luke 3:23]
It is distinctly possible that Luke’s account traces Jesus’ lineage through Mary, and not Joseph. Some of the circumstantial evidence to support this is as follows:
(1) Luke’s birth narrative is through the eyes of Mary, while Matthew’s is through the eyes of Joseph. Thus, Luke could have received his material through Mary (or someone close), thus it is quite possible that he received her genealogy.
(2) Luke 3:23 reads, “Jesus…being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, etc.” Luke certainly draws attention to the fact that Jesus was not truly Joseph’s son, so why would he then go to all the trouble in listing Joseph’s genealogy?
(3) After considering the Greek of Luke 3:23, Robert Gromacki believes it should be translated as follows:
“being the son (as was supposed of Joseph) of Heli, of Matthat, etc.”
Gromaki states: “Since women did not appear in direct genealogical listings, Joseph stood in Mary’s place, but Luke was careful to note that there was no physical connection between Joseph and either Jesus or Heli.”
(4) Luke’s genealogy also lists Adam as “the son of God.” This would indicate that one would have no grounds for insisting that the term “son” meant only the direct, biological offspring. Thus, one could think of Jesus as the “son of Heli.”
(5) The writings of Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 100 AD) indicate that the early
church thought that Mary was a Davidic descent. For example, he
"Under the Divine dispensation, Jesus Christ our God was conceived by Mary of the seed of David and of the spirit of God; He was born, and He submitted to baptism, so that by His Passion He might sanctify water.” — Ignatius to the Ephesians
“Christ was of David’s line. He was the son of Mary; He was verily and indeed born..” — Ignatius to the Trallians
Since Ignatius believed in the virgin birth, it clearly follows that he would believe that she was “of the seed of David.” Other apocryphal gospels and Justin Martyr (ca. 150 AD) also believed Mary to have been a descendent of David.
Objections to these claims are basically of two types:
A. The Jews did not typically trace genealogies through women.
Reply: This is true, but a virgin birth is not a typical birth. Thus standard practices would not be expected to hold.
B. There is no explicit mention that the genealogy is Mary’s.
Reply: This is true again, but the reason for this is probably due to point A. The genealogy would lose all appeal if it was explicitly cited as Mary’s. However, it does seem to be implied. Thus, one could discern this truth after they had converted and studied the text. This would account for the early church’s belief about Mary’s Davidic descent.
Whatever one makes of such reasoning, it is certainly possible that the above explanation might be true, thus a contradiction has not been proved.
The father of Salah was Cainan [Luke 3:35,36]
To me, this looks like a legitimate contradiction, although I suppose it is possible that this is the same person known by different names. After all, it is not uncommon for Biblical personages to have more than one name.
There were but thirteen generations from Abraham to David [Matt 1:2-6]68. There were fourteen generations from the Babylonian captivity to Christ [Matt 1:17]
There were but thirteen generations from the Babylonian captivity to Christ [Matt 1:12-16]
I list these together and allow MaryAnna to reply….
I looked this up in my study Bible (Recovery Version) and found
the following explanation:
(Matt. 1:17) “This genealogy is divided into three ages: (1) from Abraham until David, fourteen generations, the age before the establishing of the kingdom; (2) from David until the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations, the age of the kingdom; (3) from the deportation to Babylon until the Christ, again fourteen generations, the age after the fall of the kingdom. According to history, there were actually forty-five generations. By deducting from these generations the three cursed generations [Matt. 1:8; 1 Chron. 3:11-12; 2 Kings 15:1, 13; 2 Chron. 21:5-6; 22:1-4; Exo. 20:5] and the one improper generation [Matt. 1:11; 1 Chron. 3:15-16; 2 Kings 23:34-35], and then adding one by making David two generations (one, the age before the establishing of the kingdom, and the other, the age of the kingdom), the generations total forty-two, being divided into three ages of fourteen generations each.” —MAW
It’s simply a matter of how you count. In other words, you can count
it as fourteen generations first by extending from Abraham to David;
secondly, by extending from David to the deportation; and thirdly, by
extending from Jechonias to Christ, inclusive in each case.
The infant Christ was not taken into Egypt [Luke 2:22, 39]
Luke does not say that the infant was not taken into Egypt as neither account is exhaustive (those who look for contradictions often overlook the fact that Biblical accounts are rarely exhaustive in their scope). We can easily harmonize the accounts as follows:
Journey of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem; birth of the
child; presentation in the Temple; return to Bethlehem; visit of the
Magi; flight into Egypt; return to settle in Nazareth.
70. Christ was tempted in the wilderness [Mark 1:12,13]
Christ was not tempted in the wilderness [John 2:1,2]
Mark 1:12, 13 Jesus was tempted in the wilderness immediately after His baptism.
John 2:1, 2 The third day after John testifies for Jesus
for the first time in the book of John, (not the first ever)
Jesus is in Cana of Galilee turning water into wine. There
is no mention of how much earlier Jesus was baptized. He
was tempted in the wilderness before 1:29. Then He went
back to see John, at which time John proclaims that Jesus
is the Lamb of God, based on previously having seen the
Spirit descend on Him in the form of a dove. (verses 32
to 34). —MAW
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 71-80
71. Christ preached his first sermon on the mount [Matt 5:1,2]
Christ preached his first sermon on the plain [Luke 6:17,20]
Neither account says anything about this being his “first sermon.”
As MaryAnna notes: Probably two different sermons with similar content.
Matt. doesn’t say the sermon on the mount was His first
sermon. Matt. doesn’t seem too concerned about the sequence
of events. Matt. 4:23 seems to indicate that before this
the Lord already had done a lot of speaking. The one in
Luke 6:17 was to the crowds, whereas the one in Matt. 5
Indeed. It is not at all uncommon for a preacher to preach similar sermons at different times and with different audiences,
now is it?
72. John was in prison when Jesus went into Galilee [Mark 1:14]
The account in Mark does not indicate that this was the first time Jesus went into Galilee. It is quite possible that Jesus did earlier visit Galilee to baptize and mingle, and Mark alludes to a subsequent visit (after John’s imprisonment) when He began to preach the nearness of the kingdom.
73. Christ’s disciples were commanded to go forth with a staff and sandals [Mark 6:8,9]
Christ’s disciples were commanded to go forth with neither staves not sandals [Matt 10:9,10]I view these as complementary accounts which get us closer to the full instructions of Jesus. In Mark, He tells his disciples to take nothing for their journey except a staff and sandals to wear. In Matthew, He instructs them not to acquire many things (including more sandals and staffs). In short, he is instructing them to take little, and not to accept the gifts of men in return for the healing and message that they bring with them.
74. A woman of Canaan besought Jesus [Matt 15:22]
It was a Greek woman who besought Him [Mark 7:26]The nationality of the woman who besought Jesus.
Matt. 15:22 She was a Canaanite woman.
Mark 7:26 She was a Greek, Syro-phoenician by race.
The Phoenicians were descendants of the Canaanites.
So she was Greek in some way other than race. It could
have been by religion, marriage, or something else.
Anyway, these verses don’t contradict each other.
The point is she was not an Israelite. —MAW
Also, “Greek” may have simply meant “Gentile”. According to Haley, she lived in a part of Canaan called "Syro-Phoenicia."
75. Two blind men besought Jesus [Matt 20:30]
Only one blind man besought Him [Luke 18:35,38]
How many blind men were there?
Matt. 20:30 mentions two. Luke 18:35, 38 only mentions one. A certain one. Luke probably was acquainted with him and so mentions him specifically. He may have continued to follow the Lord and even been among the 120 later, whereas the other may not have. At any rate Luke doesn’t say that the blind man was alone, just that he was there and received his sight. — MAW I should point out that critic’s don’t like the type of replies that MaryAnna suggests, although I think her explanation is quite plausible. So allow to me reply to their complaints at this point. In another context, one critic decried a similar type of approach as described it as follows
Critic: "There was more there than….” This is used when one
verse says “there was a” and another says “there was b”, so they
decide there was “a” AND “b” — which is said nowhere.
My reply: Simply because it is “said nowhere” doesn’t mean it is not
the case. That follows only if you assume exhaustively detailed and
verbatim reports. In fact, we can induce that it was probably the
case by putting the pieces together. This is a perfectly valid
approach. Anyone who lives in this world ought to know that. If I go
for a ride with my buddies Bob and Steve, and come home to tell my
wife I was out with Bob (perhaps because I talked to him more, ie,
he was on my mind) and later mention that Steve said something
about getting a new job, have I contradicted myself? The
contradiction exists ONLY if I said that ONLY Bob and I went for a
drive. And it would certainly be reasonable for my wife to conclude
that I must have went for a ride with both Bob and Steve.
In attempting to pooh-pooh this type of explanation which is
commonly experienced, the critic is fallaciously engaged in black and white thinking. It’s like saying, “Hey, either you went for a ride
with Bob or Steve, which is it?”. But why in the world can’t it be
Critic: This makes them happy, since it doesn’t say there WASN’T "a + b".
My reply: I don’t know about happy, but this sounds like the crying of
a spoiled child. If you are out to demonstrate a CONTRADICTION, this
is exactly the type of thing you have to uncover. Just because the
critic fails to shoulder HIS/HER burden is no reason for me to take
their point seriously.
76. Christ was crucified at the third hour [Mark 15:25]
Christ was not crucified until the sixth hour [John 19:14,15]
At what hour was Jesus crucified?
Mark 15:25 says it was in the third hour, 9:00 a.m.
John 19:14-15 says that in the sixth hour (different clock).
He was still not crucified yet but was being judged before
Pilate. This was at about 6 a.m.
So three hours later He had carried the cross up to Golgotha
(with some help) and was crucified.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts use Hebrew time for their
reckoning. John uses Roman time. Another example of this is
in John 18:28 — early morning refers to the fourth Roman
watch, which was 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. —MAW
77. The two thieves reviled Christ [Matt 27:44 / Mark 15:32]
Only one of the thieves reviled Christ [Luke 23:39,40]
Did both or only one of the thieves revile Jesus?
Matt. 27:44 and Mark 15:32 say they both did.
Luke 23:39-40 says that the one rebuked the other for his blasphemy.
Probably at first they both did and then one of them repented, and, while the other was still reviling, rebuked him and asked the Lord to remember him. So he was saved. Luke doesn’t say that the rebuking one had not at first been also reviling. It merely records a segment of the conversation. —MAW
(Once again, we see another “contradiction” which presumes exhaustive accounts —MB)
78. Satan entered into Judas while at supper [John 13:27]
Satan entered into him before the supper [Luke 22:3,4,7]
When did Satan enter Judas? John 13:27 Right after eating the morsel offered to him by Jesus. Luke 22:3,4,7 Satan also entered Judas before that. It could be he kept entering Judas. Just like the evil spirit that kept coming upon King Saul. —MAW
(Indeed, are we to believe that once Satan enters someone, he remains there for the rest of the natural life of a person??? —MB)
Judas did not hang himself, but died another way [Acts 1:18]
Matt 27:5 states that Judas “threw the pieces of silver….and he went away and hanged himself.”
Acts 1:18 states, “and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.”
It’s rather easy to reconcile these:
1. First, Judas tried to kill himself by hanging himself. And this is not always a successful way. Maybe he tried, and failed (as have many others who have tried to commit suicide by hanging). Then after some time, he threw himself off a cliff and fell upon some jagged rocks. Keep in mind that it is not uncommon for people who commit suicide to have tried it before.
2. Judas could have tied a rope to a tree branch that extended over a cliff (after all, you have to get some space between your feet and the ground to hang yourself). In this situation, the rope/branch could have broke before or after death, and Judas plummeted to the ground and landed on some jagged rocks.
Certainly, these explanations are plausible, thus a contradiction has not been established. More from Frank Decenso below.
One of my favorites. My explanation for atheists and critics…
MAT 27:5-8 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and
departed, and went and hanged himself. But the chief priests took the silver
pieces and said, "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because
they are the price of blood." And they consulted together and bought with
them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been
called the Field of Blood to this day.
First of all, notice that the text does not say that Judas died as a result
of hanging. All it says is that he "went and hanged himself." Luke
however, in Acts, tells us that "and falling headlong, he burst open in the
middle and all his entrails gushed out." This is a pretty clear indication
(along with the other details given in Acts – Peter’s speech, the need to pick a
new apostle, etc.) that at least after Judas’ fall, he was dead. So the whole
concept that Matthew and Luke both recount Judas’ death is highly probable, but
not clear cut. Therefore, if I were to take a radical exegetical approach here,
I could invalidate your alleged contradiction that there are two different
accounts of how Judas died.
Notice verse 5."Then he…went and hanged himself." Matthew does
not say Judas died, does it? Should we assume he died as a result of the
What does Acts say? ACT 1:18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages
of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his
entrails gushed out.
ACT 1:20 "For it is written in the book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling
place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his
Here we may have a graphic explanation of Judas’ death. Of course, maybe
someone can find some medical source somewhere that discusses the possibility of
one having their entrails gush out after being burst open in the middle, and
still survive. :)
So, my line of reasoning to dispel the contradiction myth re: the
"two" accounts of Judas’ death is this. Matthew doesn’t necessarily
explain how Judas died; he does say Judas "hanged himself", but he
didn’t specifically say Judas died in the hanging incident. However, Acts seems
to show us his graphic demise. Therefore, there is no contradiction between
Matthew and Acts re: Judas’ death.
We do know from Matthew that he did hang himself and Acts probably records
his death. It is possible and plausible that he fell from the hanging and hit
some rocks, thereby bursting open. However, Matthew did not say Judas died as a
result of the hanging, did he? Most scholars believe he probably did, but….
One atheist I debated along these lines said… the Greek word "apagchw"
(ie: hang oneself) is translated as a successful hanging. I replied, No you
can’t only conclude this, although…this was a highly probable outcome. But
Matthew does not state death as being a result. The Greek word is APAGCHO.
Matthew 27:5 is it’s only occurrence in the New Testament. In the LXX (the Greek
translation of the OT used at the time of Jesus), it’s only used in 2 Samuel
17:23 : "Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he
saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put
his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his
father’s tomb." Notice that not only is it stated that Ahithophel
"hanged himself" [Gr. LXX, APAGCHO], but it explicitly adds, "and
died". Here we have no doubt of the result. In Matthew, we are not
explicitly told Judas died. Also, there is nothing in the Greek to suggest
success or failure. It simply means "hang oneself". —Frank
The potter’s field was purchased by the Chief Priests [Matt 27:6,7]
Perhaps here, the following maxim holds — “He who does a thing by another, does it himself.” That is, yes it was the chief priests who actually bought the field, but Judas had furnished the occasion for its purchase. Thus, the verse in Acts could be employing a figure of speech where we attribute to the man himself any act which he has directly or indirectly procured to be done. After all, we attribute the “Clinton health care plan” to Bill Clinton, when in reality, it is a plan devised by others associated with Bill Clinton.
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 81-90
81. There was but one woman who came to the sepulchre “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” [John 20:1]
There were two women who came to the sepulchre
“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary
Magdalene and the other Mary went to the other tomb.” [Matt 28:1]
“So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him!” [Jn 20:2]
If Mary was alone, then who is WE? Clearly more than one person went with Mary. John just doesn’t mention them.
82. There were three women who came to the sepulchre [Mark 16:1]
There were more than three women who came to the sepulchre [Luke 24:10]
Again, the same reasoning applies. See my previous story about going for a ride in the car. :)
83. It was at sunrise when they came to the sepulchre
“Very early on the first day of the week, just after
sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb." [Mark 16:2]
It was some time before sunrise when they came
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was
still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb.”
I see no contradiction. Mary could have left a little earlier than the
others. Or they could have left while it was still dark and the sun
began to rise while they were on their way. I’ve worked my share of
nightshifts to know that one can leave the job while it is still dark, and get home after the sun has risen!
84. There were two angels seen by the women at the sepulchre, and they were standing up[Luke 24:4]
There was but one angel seen, and he was sitting down [Matt 28:2,5]
It is quite possible that much of the confusion about these trivial facts stems from the fact that many women went to the tomb that morning (Luke 24:10). It’s possible, at the very least, that a group of women came to the tomb, and saw that the stone had been rolled away. Some women went inside, but the more timid remained outside. Those inside saw the vision of the two angels, while those outside saw the angel on the stone.
Also, in response to the manner in which this supposed contradiction
is presented, I would point out that a.) Matthew does not say there
was “but one angel,” he simply focuses on the angel who moved the
stone; b.) the Greek word in Luke rendered “stood near” also means,
“to come near, to appear to.” In Luke 2:9 and Acts 12:7 it is
translated as “came upon.” Thus, Luke may simply have said that
angels suddenly appeared to them without reference to posture.
Strictly speaking, one would be hard pressed to establish a
contradiction in terms of numbers or posture even without my
There was but one angel seen within the sepulchre [Mark 16:5]
These are not the same incidents. John’s account is particular to
Mary after she followed Peter and John back to the tomb, which was
later than the account cited in Mark.
Now, I myself once stumbled upon a “better” contradiction. When
Mary runs back, she is scared and thinks that the body has been
stolen. Then she returns to the tomb and weeps. Now isn’t this odd
given that she supposedly heard the angels say that “He is risen”? Why so much despair after that miraculous experience? It doesn’t
seem to add up. Of course it is possible that she had not fully
comprehended what occurred, as one has to be careful in expecting
people to respond coherently. But I think the answer is more clear if
we consider John’s account.
John notes that she went to the tomb
and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. “So she
came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus
loved and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we
don’t know where they put him”. (John 20:1-2). Then Peter and John
ran to the tomb only to find the empty burial wrappings. Mary must
then have followed them, but when she got there, they had gone, so
she stood there crying, worried that the body of Jesus had been
stolen. Then two angels appeared to her, and then the risen Jesus
did. In short, the reason she was in despair is probably because she
didn’t go into the tomb with the other women. As they approached
the tomb, they saw it open, and probably began to worry amongst
themselves that grave robbers came and stole the body before they
could anoint it. At this realization, Mary probably left the group and
bolted back to tell the others.
86. Christ was to be three days and three nights in the grave [Matt 12:40]
According to Haley, Orientals reckon any part of a day as a whole day. Thus, one whole and two parts of a day, along with two nights, would be popularly styled as “three days and three nights.” Such usage is seen elsewhere in Scripture.
For more detail see Day of Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord
87. Holy Spirit bestowed at Pentecost[Acts 1:8,5]
Holy Spirit bestowed before Pentecost [John 20:22]
Two aspects of the Spirit. In John 20:22 He was breathed into the disciples. In Acts 1:5,8 He was poured out upon them.
That’s like in 1 Cor. 12:13, which says that we
were baptized in one Spirit and also given to
drink one Spirit. One is inward and the other
is upon us outwardly. —MAW
I agree. It’s certainly possible that in John, the disciples became
indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and in Acts they became empowered
by the Holy Spirit.
88. The disciples were commanded immediately after the resurrection to go into Galilee [Matt 28:10]
The disciples were commanded immediately after the resurrection to go tarry at Jerusalem [Luke 24:49]
According to Haley:
“The command tarry ye in Jerusalem,” etc., means simply, “Make
Jerusalem your head-quarters. Do not leave it to begin your work,
until ye be endued,” etc. This injunction would not preclude a brief
excursion to Galilee. Besides, the command may not have been given
until after the visit to Galilee.”
Indeed, keep in mind that Jesus appeared to the disciples several
times over a period of many days. The Gospel’s simple give us
“snapshots” of some of these events and certainly Matthew’s account
is a brief synopsis.
89. Jesus first appeared to the eleven disciples in a room at Jerusalem [Luke 24:33,36,37/ John 20:19]
Jesus first appeared to the eleven on a mountain in Galilee [Matt 28:16,17]
Matthew’s account does not say that this was Jesus’ first appearance. It is certainly possible that Matthew simply passes over the earlier appearances and focuses on the call to go into Galilee. In fact, notice how Matthew’s account is not exhaustive. In 28:16, he mentions that Jesus had indicated what mountain in Galilee the disciples were to go to, yet he does not mention this when he quotes Jesus in verse 10.
Christ ascended from Bethany [Luke 24:50,51]
You know one is grasping when they cite the same author writing
about the same thing as a contradiction. :) Bethany is on the eastern
slope of Mount Olivet. Anyone coming back from there and returning
to Jerusalem would have to pass over the mountain, and thus return
from Mount Olivet. You would think that someone who proposes a
geographical contradiction would look at a map.
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 91-100
91. Paul’s attendants heard the miraculous voice, and stood speechless [Acts 9:7]
Paul’s attendants heard not the voice and were prostrate [Acts 26:14]
Acts 26:14 And when they had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me…
Acts 9:7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they
heard the sound but did not see anyone.
While we are at it, let’s add the other account…
Acts 22:9 My companions saw the light, but they did not
understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
Obviously, according to the NIV translation, there is no
contradiction, as you can hear a sound, but not the recognize it as
the voice of one speaking. So is this translation justified? Sure.
The original Greek makes a distinction between hearing a sound as a
noise and hearing a voice as a thought-conveying message. Haley
notes “The Greek “akouo”, like our word “hear”, has two distinct
meanings, to perceive sound, and to understand”. This distinction
makes sense also in light of the context. Recall the differing levels
of perception. While the men heard an unintelligible sound and saw a
light, Paul heard the voice and saw the person speaking. In fact, this
type of distinction occurs in another place:
“Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify
it again”. The crowd that was there and heard it said it had
thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him” [John 12:28-29].
Here is a clear-cut example where a voice speaks, but is heard by
some as an unintelligible sound.
As for the stance of Paul’s companions, Haley notes “the word
rendered ‘stood’ also means to be fixed, to be rooted to the spot.
Hense, the sense may be, not that they stood erect, but that they
were rendered motionless, or fixed to the spot, by overpowering
fear”. It is also entirely plausible that when they first saw the
great light, they “hit the dirt”, then they could have got up off the
ground and stood there motionless.
The problem with the skeptic’s approach is that it assumes these
accounts are exhaustive, step by step, accounts where each detail is
conveyed. They are not. It’s not as if the author of Acts is saying
“this is how it happened” three separate times. The author does this
once, and the other two times he relays Paul speaking about it in
two different contexts. Now given that the author wasn’t on the
road to Damascus, and given that Paul was speaking from memory,
and given that none of these are meant to be some exhaustive,
detailed, point by point description, it is indeed wise to fit them all
together. Furthermore, the account in Acts 26 relays a speech that
Paul gave to King Agrippa which was only a synopsis. Acts 26
simply relays the manner in which Paul chose to convey his
92. Abraham departed to go into Canaan [Gen 12:5]
Abraham went not knowing where [Heb 11:8]
In Gen 12:1 God simply says to leave “your country…to the land I will show you.” The teaching in Hebrews could simply mean that Abraham did not know where he was going in the sense of not knowing where this promised land was. Thus, he set out for Canaan. And it was once he was in Canaan that God showed him that this was the promised land (Gen 12:7).
Look at it this way. God appears to Bob and tells him to leave his
home because He has a mission for Bob. So Bob packs up, and not
knowing where/what the mission is, and stops at an old friends
house for a few days. Then God appears to Bob and instructs him of a
mission which involves his friend. Thus, in one sense Bob sets out
to partake of a mission with his friend, but in another sense, he sets
out to his friends house not knowing what/where the mission is.
93. Abraham had two sons [Gal 4:22]
Abraham had but one son [Heb 11:17]
Abram had one genuine son of his wife Sarah who could
be the fulfillment of God’s promise regarding his seed.
He had another son by the maidservant Hagar and several
others later by a second wife, but in his heart Isaac
was his only son. This is also why he cut off all the
others from inheritance. Notice the wording of Heb. 11:17
indicates that even though he had other sons, yet to
him it was as if he were offering up his only begotten
to whom the promise was made. —MAW
Besides, does anyone really believe that the writer of Hebrews was
unaware of some well-known teachings about Abraham or had not
read Genesis? Also, the writer of Hebrews is obviously screening
out stuff to focus on topics related to faith. Hagar’s son was not the
product of faith, and thus not worthy of mention in this context.
94. Keturah was Abraham’s wife [Gen 25:1]
Keturah was Abraham’s concubine [1 Chron 1:32]
MaryAnna suggests that Keturah could have been Abraham’s
concubine who at some point became his wife. The point behind both
verses is not about Keturah, but about her children. The author of
Genesis may have been less exact and referred to these children as
those of Abraham’s wife (if Bob had a child with Jill before being
married, then got married to Jill, we would refer to the child as
being of Bob’s wife), while the author of 1 Chron (who is busy being
exact in documenting genealogies) may have been more exact and
noted that such children were born while Keturah was still the
concubine of Abraham.
Abraham begat six children more after he was a hundred years old without any interposition of providence [Gen 25:1,2]
The problem was not with Abraham’s infertility
but with Sarah’s inability to conceive. This was remedied
only once by divine intervention. Abraham had one son before
and several after, not with Sarah, all without divine
I’d also add that there is no certain reason for believing the births
described in Gen 25:1,2 came after the birth of Isaac. Abraham
could have had these children with Keturah much earlier. Verses 1,2
could simply be saying that Keturah has reunited with Abraham after
Sarah’s death, and they became married. Then it lists the children
that they had had earlier on (perhaps while living in Ur).
96. Jacob bought a sepulchre from Hamor[Josh 24:32]
Abraham bought it of Hamor [Acts 7:16]
One possible explanation is that Abraham bought the
whereas Jacob went back and specifically bought the tomb.
Compare with Gen. 33:19 and Gen. 23:10-20. Josh. 24:32 and
Acts 7:16 were based on those verses. —MAW
97. God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed forever [Gen 13:14,15,17; 17:8]
Here is a partial answer. God gave the land to Abraham and his seed. We do see that the land was eventually possessed by the children of Israel (Abraham’s grandson). Yet, in Acts, God did not give Abraham (personally) an inheritance on the land. True. But Abraham died in faith, even though he had not obtained the title deed to the property to pass on to his children. But eventually his descendents did get the land.
To answer this even further (not for the benefit
of any skeptics but just because I can’t resist
pointing out that this point is much deeper than
just who occupies the land) — we have to look at
Galatians 3:14 which tells us what the real blessing
of Abraham is. Then the seed of Abraham is identified
in verse 16. Then compare with Hebrews 11:39-40 and
12:1-2. This is what Hebrews means when it says
they did not receive the promises, according to
Yes, of course the land was the literal land and
the seed was the literal descendents of Abraham
and yes they did get their inheritance and now
they are also on it again (part of it). At the
same time, Galatians and Hebrews are also true. —MAW
98. Goliath was slain by Elhanan [2 Sam 21:19] note: was changed in translation to be correct — original manuscript was incorrect.
The brother of Goliath was slain by Elhanan [1 Chron 20:5]
As conceded, the verse in 2 Sam was probably due to a copyist’s
99. Ahaziah began to reign in the twelfth year of Joram [2 Kings 8:25]
Ahaziah began to reign in the eleventh year of Joram [2 Kings 9:29]
Note that Ahaziah is the son of Joram. It’s possible that on account
of Joram’s sickness [2 Chron 21:18,19] that Ahaziah became
associated with him in the eleventh year of Joram’s rule, but then
began to rule alone by the twelth year.
100. Michal had no child [2 Sam 6:23]
Michal had five children [2 Sam 21:8]
In this case, I’ll quote John Baskette’s reply previously posted.
What does 2 Sam. 21:8-9 say?
“But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite: And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell [all] seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first [days], in the beginning of barley harvest.”
This would appear to be a real contradiction except for the phrase
“whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai.”
The phrasing tells you that these sons are not Michal’s in the normal
sense of the term because she did not “bear” these children. I.E.
these sons are adopted children.”
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 101-110
101. David was tempted by the Lord to number Israel[2 Sam 24:1]
David was tempted by Satan to number the people [1 Chron 21:1]
There are three possible responses here:
(1) Biblical writers often dismissed secondary causes and attributed
all things that happened to God, since He is over all things.
Thus, God is did not tempt David, He allowed Satan to influence him.
(2) Arthur Hervey believes 2 Sam 24:1 is better translated as, “For
one moved David against them.” In this case, the numbering of the
people was the cause of God’s anger, not the result. After all,
without this interpretation, it is not clear why God was angry with
(3) The verse in 1 Chron translated as “satan” could also be
translated as “adversary.” Strictly speaking, in this situation, God
was Israel’s adversary.
102. The number of fighting men of Isreal was 800,000; and of Judah 500,000 [2 Sam 24:9]
The number of fighting men of Isreal was 1,100,000; and of Judah 470,000 [1 Chron 21:5]
The account in 1 Chron twice speaks of “all the people” and “all Israel.” The account in 2 Sam does not. Thus, it is possible that the account in 1 Chron is more inclusive, while 2 Sam only deals with the standing army.
103. David sinned in numbering the people [2 Sam 24:10]
David never sinned, except in the matter of Uriah [1 Kings 15:5]
In 1 Kings, it is important to note that David is being compared to Abijah. Thus, comparatively speaking, David did not fail to keep God’s commands (yet, a comparative approach could not hide the sins associated with Uriah). Also note, that 1 Kings did not say that David “never sinned.” It said that he did what was right in the eyes of God and had not failed to keep any of God’s commands. If God commanded David to number the people, there is no contradiction, now is there? Or, one could say that given David’s repentent heart, from God’s perspective, he did not sin (see Psalm 51:2).
104. One of the penalties of David’s sin was seven years of famine [2 Sam 24:13]
It was not seven years, but three years of famine [1 Chron 21:11,12]
This could definitely be a copyist’s error.
105. David took seven hundred horsemen [2 Sam 8:4]
David took seven thousand horsemen [1 Chron 18:4]
This could be another copyist’s error.
106. David bought a threshing floor for fifty sheckels of silver [2 Sam 24:24]
David bought the threshing floor for six hundred shekels of gold [1 Chron 21:25]
“So David paid Araunah six hundred shekels for the site.” — 1 Chron
“So David bought the threshing floor and oxen for 50 shekels.” — 2 Sam
It could be that David paid 50 shekels for the oxen, and the amount paid for the threshing floor is not indicated in 2 Sam. This is not implausible given that the account in 1 Chron speaks of the oxen, wood, and wheat, yet only mentions David paying for “the site.”
107. David’s throne was to endure forever [Ps 89:35-37]
David’s throne was cast down [Ps 89:44]
The throne of the seed of David (referring to Christ) will indeed endure forever. Psalms 89:44 is poetry saying that David’s throne was cast down.. indeed it never was, although it was threatened for a time by David’s son Absalom. Poetry cannot always be taken literally; also, the promise in 2 Sam. 7 regarding the eternal throne is not referring to David. —MAW
This is a poem, and as such, it is dangerous to take it too literally. The writer of the psalm is lamenting what he perceives as a time when God has abandoned His people (after spending most of the psalm recounting all of God’s promises and great works). Did God truly abandon His people? No. But from this writer’s perspective, he appeared to. Thus, this psalm captures and communicates the angst that is humanity’s lot.
I think it silly to use a poem to establish a contradiction. For example, in Ps 139:13, David says he is knit in his mother’s womb. Two verses later, he says he’s woven together in the depths of the earth. Is David so stupid that he contradicts himself in a span of two sentences? Or is the critic so “stupid” that he/she insists on precise and very literal meanings of words used in poetry?
108. Christ is equal with God[John 10:30 / Phil 2:5]
A few of the “contradictions” are based on a lack of understanding of the Trinity. This is one of them. In His person, Christ is equal with God essentially. Economically, for the accomplishment of His plan, Christ took on humanity, forsaking His equality with God temporarily in order to set a good pattern of submission and to pass through death for the redemption of man and the destruction of the devil and to bring His life to all men. Now He has been seated at the right hand of the majesty on high, with all things subjected under His feet. —MAW
I agree. These teachings involve a discussion of both the Trinity and the Incarnation (which is beyond the scope of this reply). Suffice it to say that it is quite possible that such doctrines could be true, thus these verses would be a case of both/and, rather than a contradiction.
109. Jesus was all-powerful [Matt 28:18 / John 3:35]
Jesus was not all-powerful [Mark 6:5]
Matt. 28:18 is after the resurrection, after all power was given to Him by the Father. John 3:35 says that the Father has given all into His hand.. could be referring to all the believers, as in other verses in John…
Mark 6:5 shows us that Jesus was limited by man’s unbelief.
This is a recurring theme in the Bible, that although God is all-powerful, He chooses to limit Himself to man; that is, He chooses to wait for man’s co-operation. This explains why the Bible calls His believers His fellow workers. God doesn’t need man to work together with Him, yet this is His chosen means of operation. If this is how He chooses to work, this explains how He is all-powerful and yet “could not do many works of power there because of their unbelief.” —MAW
The law was not superseded by the Christian dispensation [Matt 5:17-19]
Luke 16:16 tells us that the law and the prophets were until John. This is referring to the Old Testament, which indeed lasted until John.
Ephesians 2:15 tells us that Christ in His flesh on the cross abolished the law of the commandments in ordinances. This is not referring to the moral law, but the dietary regulations, the Sabbath, the feast days, and other practices which set the Jews apart from the Gentiles.
Rom. 7:6 says we have been delivered from the law. This is talking about the slavery to the law, i.e. trying to keep the law in our flesh rather than allowing the inner divine life to spontaneously be expressed in a daily walk that is much higher than that mandated by the law.
Matt. 5:17-19 shows us that Christ did not destroy the moral law, but rather fulfilled it. He fulfilled it three ways:
(1) He kept the law Himself.
(2) He fulfilled the requirement of the death penalty for us.
(3) He uplifted the law by instituting the higher law
(meant to be kept not by human effort but by His life in
the believers.) —MAW
To this I would also add Paul’s teaching in Galatians. That is,
the law is a tutor which brings us to Christ. When a person comes to
Christ, the purpose of the law has been fulfilled.
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 111-120
111. Christ’s mission was peace [Luke 2:13,14]
Christ’s mission was not peace [Matt 10:34]
Luke 2:14 says, “peace among men with whom he is pleased.”
Mt. 10:34 says, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
The first verse could very well mean that peace exists among those with whom God is pleased, i.e., the fellowship of believers. Yet such believers are like a light among the darkness, and men prefer the darkness. Thus, the fellowship of believers, while full of peace, incurs the wrath of the nonbelievers.
One only need consider that in some nations Christians peacefully gather, yet are persecuted, to see how easy this “contradiction” is resolved.
112. Christ received not testimony from man [John 5:33,34]
Christ did receive testimony from man [John 15:27]
I see it as follows: In John 5:34, Jesus claims that the witness he receives comes not from men. If we read Luke 1:76, we see that John is to be a prophet, one who speaks for God. Thus, John’s witness, as a prophet, is really God’s witness. In other words, Jesus is not rejecting John’s witness; he is clarifying it. (Also, this verse is particular to the witness for Jesus early in his ministry.) These verse do not necessarily teach that Jesus does not receive witness from men.
The verse in John 15 speaks of a different situation. This is after Jesus’ crucifixion and the indwelling of the Spirit.
Christ’s witness of himself is not true [John 5:31]
This is a bogus “contradiction.” Jesus is not saying His witness of Himself is untrue. He is pointing out that if He alone bore witness of Himself, it would be untrue. Since Jesus did not bear witness of Himself alone, His witness of Himself is not untrue.
MaryAnna adds: Was Christ’s witness of Himself true?
John 8:18 and 14 is talking about the legal stipulation
in the Old Testament that a person giving testimony for
himself was not to believe unless he had at least one
John 5:31 is talking about the verity of Christ
as a witness. Of course, in the sense of verity, Christ’s
witness is indeed true. —MAW
114. Christ laid down his life for his friends[John 15:13 / John 10:11]
Christ laid down his life for his enemies [Rom 5:10]
Did Christ lay down His life for His friends or His enemies?
Both. The friends mentioned in John 15:13 and John 10:11
are His disciples. The enemies mentioned in Rom. 5:10
were all of us. He could easily die for both His
enemies and His friends. This could be answered more
completely, but even this simple answer shows that
these two verses are not contradictory. —MAW
115. It was lawful for the Jews to put Christ to death [John 19:7]
It was not lawful for the Jews to put Christ to death [John 18:31]
Was it lawful for the Jews to put Jesus to death?
By Jewish law, as stated in the Old Testament, yes.
(John 19:7). But by the law of the occupying Romans
at the time of Jesus’ walk on earth, it was expressly
forbidden for the Jews to put anyone to death on
their own without going through the proper Roman
legal channels and using the Roman means of execution
(John 18:31). —MAW
116. Children are punished for the sins of the parents [Ex 20:5]
Children are not punished for the sins of the parents [Ezek 18:20]
Are children punished for the sins of the parents?
Exod. 20:5 tells us that God is to be feared, as He
has the ability to visit the sins of the fathers on
Ezek. 18:20 tells us this will not happen if the children
repent and turn away from the ways of their fathers.
Not a contradiction. —MAW
Romans 3:20 man is justified by faith, and not works
of law. Gal. 2:16 same. (cf. Gal. 3:11, 12; Rom. 3:28ff).
If we want to be justified, we have to receive the
divine life (2 Peter 1:4; Romans 5:5; chapter 8). Otherwise, no matter how many good
works we do, we can never be justified in the sight
However, after we receive the divine life of God, this will issue in a kind of living which will manifest our justification (James 2:21, 24; Rom. 2:6-13).
James is making the point that faith without works
is dead. Certainly it is a dead faith if it has no
effect on our living. The living is the evidence
that our faith is effective and that we have indeed
Romans is talking about the law and says that the
doers of the law shall be justified. In the context
he is making the point that no one can be justified
by works without faith because it is impossible to
keep the law. —MAW
I agree. It’s not that works are necessary additions to faith.
Instead, it’s that a living faith gives rise to good works.
Thus, we have another both/and situation. It’s interesting that the Bible portrays our relationship to God
as a marriage. A loving marriage is one in which both faith and
acts converge toward the same end (Ephesian 5:22ff).
118. It is impossible to fall from grace[John 10:28 / Rom 8:38,39]
John 10:28 says the believers,
assuming they remain believers, shall by no means perish
Romans 8:38, 39 says nothing can separate us from the
love of God.
So these two verses tell us we don’t have to worry
about our eternal destiny, assuming we peservere by God’s grace.
Ezek. 18:24 is an Old Testament verse. Simply says a righteous man can turn to unrighteousness and become unfaithful, and the soul [person or life] who sins shall die (cf. Romans 6:23; Ezek 18:4).
Hebrews 6:4-6 — tells us salvation is once for all
and cannot be renewed. And if we fall away, we have
only to repent and turn back to the Lord. Also,
the Jewish sacrifices of the Old Testament are no
longer valid and are actually an insult to the
Lord who died for us. (Some Christians indeed interpret Hebrews 6 to say that if you are saved
you can lose your salvation — so there is dispute among Protestants on the
2 Pet. 2:20-21 — The last state is worse than the first.
Some believers “fall away from grace” in this
age and suffer for it. This doesn’t mean that
their eternal destiny changes. They will still
be with the Lord for eternity, but they will
suffer first and be more miserable than before
they believed in the Lord. This suffering is
only temporary. —MAW
MaryAnna’s explanations might provoke disagreement among
some Christians, but recall that in the context of
this reply, it need only be possible that she is correct. If she is,
the contradictions are easily resolved.
119. No man is without sin[1 Kings 8:46 / Prov 20:9 / Eccl 7:20 / Rom 3:10]
Christians are sinless [1 John 3: 9,6,8]
Of course no man is without sin, in himself.
1 John 3:6-9 does not say that Christians are
without sin. It says that everything that has
been begotten of God does not practice sin.
The word “practice sin” refers to a habitual
life of sin. It does not mean that Christians
never do anything sinful. A believer who truly
has an inner knowing of the Lord will not have
the practice of habitual sin in his living. —MAW
120. There is to be a resurrection of the deadLuke 20:37 / 1 Cor 15:16]
In this life we have nothing to fear from the dead; they will not come back to resume their former lives as if they had not died. They will stay resting in their graves, silent and unable to do anything further to affect their eternal destiny. They have no power to rise again. 1 Cor. 15:52; Rev. 20:12-13; Luke 20:37; 1 Cor. 15:16
Of course, at the Lord’s return there will be a
resurrection of all the dead to judgment. Then
some of them will pass on to eternal fire and
others will receive a reward (John 5:28-29). This is not to
resume their former lives. Hence this is not
a contradiction. —MAW
Another way of saying it is as follows: The verses in Isaiah may be teaching that the dead do not normally
rise. That is, they don’t rise in of themselves, but they will be
raised at a later date. Also, there is a definite comparative theme –
where the dead are forgotten, God is never forgotten. The verses in
Eccl and Job also have a temporal/worldly perspective. That is,
while the living experience rewards, know things about each other,
and are remembered by each other, this is not the case with the
dead. One could also resolve these by claiming as a possibility that the
dead “sleep” until they are raised.
For more detail see Examination
of Conditional Immortality, Soul Sleep and Annihilationism
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 121-130
121. Reward and punishment to be bestowed in this world [Prov 11:31]
There’s a simple
explanation here. Rewards and punishments
are bestowed both here and in the hereafter.
122. Annihilation is the portion of all mankind[Job 3: 11,13-17,19-22 / Eccl 9:5,10 / Eccl 3:19,20]
Endless misery is the portion of someRev 14:11 / Dan 12:2]
Is mankind annihilated or eternally miserable?
Job 3:11-22, Eccl. 9:5,10; 3:19-20
These verses refer to the rest before judgment.
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us all is vanity because
just as animals die men die too. Job 3 tells us
he wishes he were dead so he wouldn’t feel pain.
Ecclesiastes 9 says do what you can in this life
because you won’t be able to do much when you are
in the grave. None of this is talking about
Matt. 25:46; Rev. 20:10,15; 14:11;
all these verses tell us that of course after
a period of waiting in the grave there will be
a judgment and some will go to the lake of fire
for eternity. Daniel 12:2 ties the whole thing together. —MAW
For more detail see Examination of Conditional
Immortality, Soul Sleep and Annihilationism
123. The Earth is to be destroyed[2 Pet 3:10 / Heb 1:11 / Rev 20:11]
The Earth is never to be destroyed
Will the earth be destroyed?
In a sense, yes. Everything on the earth will be
destroyed. 2 Pet. 3:10; Heb. 1:11; Rev. 20:11 all
confirm this. On the other hand, the earth with its foundations
will remain to the age. Keep in mind also that Psalm 104:5 and Eccl. 1:4 are
both poetry. Ecclesiastes in context is telling
us of the temporal life of man more than making
a statement about the permanence of the earth.
Not contradictory, since one is talking about the
surface of the earth and the other is talking about
its foundations. —MAW
124. No evil shall happen to the godly[Prov 12:21 / 1 Pet 3:13]
The teachings in Prov and 1 Pet could very well mean that no
permanent or ultimate evil will befall the godly. Jesus’ teaching
about fearing those who can harm the soul rather than the body come
Also, one could view these teachings as general rules. Prov 26:4,5
taught us that a particular proverb might not always apply in every
situation. As such, it is indeed true that the righteous are generally
more immune to harm than the unrighteous. They are less likely to
die while driving drunk, less likely to die of a fatal disease which is
sexually transmitted, less likely to die of drug overdoses, less
likely to be murdered in a crack house or beaten by a pimp, etc.
And Peter points out that it’s unlikely your will be harmed by being
good to someone (verse 14 clearly implies verse 13 is a general
125. Worldly good and prosperity are the lot of the godly[Prov 12:21 / Ps 37:28,32,33,37 / Ps 1:1,3 / Gen 39:2 / Job 42:12]
Here the critic is concocting contradictions. None of the latter four
verses teach that “worldly misery and destitution is the lot of the
godly.” Let’s look at them:
Heb 11 — these verses speak only of the experiences of Israel’s prophets, not of all the godly. They are not intended as a general principle.
Rev 7 — this verse is specific to the events surrounding the great
2 Tim — here Paul teaches that those in Christ Jesus can expect
persecution. Obviously, this cannot be compared to OT teachings
since Jesus did not yet come.
Luke 21 – Jesus uses hyperbole to make the same point that Paul
Strictly speaking, these verses do no say what the critic purports,
thus no contradiction.
Personally, however, I think the principle of Prov 26:4,5 applies.
That is, worldly prosperity and good are the lot of some of the godly,
while persecuction is the lot of others. The former Christians are
the “silent witness,” as they enable the Church to feed the hungry,
clothe the naked, give shelter to the homeless, etc. The latter
Christians are more like the prophets in that they serve as a social
conscience, and thus get persecuted.
126. Worldly prosperity a reward of righteousness and a blessing[Mark 10:29,30 / Ps 37:25 / Ps 112:1,3 / Job 22:23,24 / Prov 15:6]
Job 22 does not teach that riches are a blessing! It is Eliphaz’s teaching that Job ought to cast away his desire for riches to find God. Eliphaz was under the impression that Job wanted to reacquire prosperity, but this was probably not true
Psalm 37:5 could be a poetical expression praising God for feeding
and caring for His people. It has nothing to do with properity (unless
one thinks that one is prosperous if they don’t have to beg for food).
Psalm 112 is a poetical expression and Prov 15 is a rule of thumb
which do indeed seem to teach that wealth is a blessing bestowed
upon the righteous.
Mark 10 says nothing about worldly prosperity. It is a hyperbole in
line with the teaching that one must lose their life to gain it.
That is, whatever you give up, you will regain more of , once in the
fellowship of the Lord.
The verses in Luke 6 are hyperbolic teachings which convey a sense
of righting wrongs and comforting. It would be irrational to take
them too literally, as it would mean that all Americans (including
Christians) would hunger in the age to come and that anyone of good
humor would be crying in the age to come. Instead, it is quite
possible (in light of all of Jesus’ teachings) that Jesus is not
condemning riches, full bellies, and laughter per se. He is instead
providing balance. He offers comfort to those who are lacking, and
warns those who are not (so that they don’t trust in what they have
rather than trusting in the Lord).
Whenever one cites a teaching of Jesus, they are obligated to
consider it’s meaning in the context of ALL of Jesus’ teaching.
And Jesus is not interested in outward expressions (eating, riches,
an environment where good humor is possible) as much as he cares
about the person’s perceptions and reactions to there state of being.
Mat 6 seems to help us here. Jesus does not condemn riches, He
condemns riches which are perceived as “treasures.” There is
a difference between one who is rich, yet willingly uses those
riches to help others and serve the Kingdom, and one who is rich yet
who hoards his money.
Matthew 19 further supports this distinction as the rich man was
unwilling to part with his money. For him, his riches were his
treasure. This verse is simply a hyperbole pointing out that it is
more difficult for one who is rich to become a Christian (this is
probably a function of the fact that riches enable one to be more
The teachings in Luke 16 are a parable conveying the same teaching as in Luke 6. Here is a rich man who did not place his riches under the Lordship of Christ.
There are no true contradictions here. Put simply, one’s riches must
be under the Lordship of Christ. If they are, they are indeed a
blessing. Not only to the person in question, but to the community
she belongs to. If the riches are not under the Lordship of Christ,
they are a curse, in that they tend to keep one from crying out to
Or one could cite Paul to clear up all these teachings, and note that
it is not money which is the problem, it is the love of money which
is the problem.
127. The Christian yoke is easy [Matt 11:28,29,30]
It is not the Lord who causes difficulties for his children! The Lord
does not make difficult serving him, but certainly (as stated later)
the unbelieving world often causes us physical hardship. The last
verse refers to chastening of God, which the Christian does not
consider the uneasy yoke; God is the loving chastener, not the hating
These are different situations and times. God made great warriors
do great deeds for Israel’s sake in days of hardness; the coming of
Jesus heralded a time where God’s new chosen would be called
towards a temperance that still came from God. —RS
I’d also note that while Gal does teach that the fruit of the Spirit
includes love and gentleness in men, the OT teachings says nothing
about the FRUIT of the Spirit. In Judges, the Spirit empowered
Samson to carry out judgment. In 1 Sam, we are not even dealing
with God’s spirit. Instead, it’s an evil spirit which God allowed to
come upon Saul. (Don’t these critics read the verses they use to purport contradictions?)
129. Longetivity enjoyed by the wicked[Job 21:7,8 / Ps 17:14 / Eccl 8:12 / Is 65:20]
In Job 21, Job is replying to the generalizations brought up by Zophar. However, he considers these as exceptions, as is evident from Job 21:17-18. Thus, Job 21 teaches there are exceptions to the general observation. Ps 17:14 says nothing about longevity. Eccl 8 is a hypothetical situation used to assert that things go better for God fearing men. Is 65 speaks of a future age and is not applicable in this setting of verses.
None of these verses teach, as a general rule, that the wicked enjoy
longevity. For that matter, the latter set really don’t teach that
longevity is “denied” to the wicked. They simply note that the
wicked often die young. No contradictions here.
Neither poverty nor riches a blessing
Most of these are answered in reply to 125. In fact, Proverbs
30:8,9 nicely sums up my reply to 125, in that it shows both the
blessings and curses associated with riches.
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 131-140
131. Wisdom a source of enjoyment [Prov 3:13,17]
Wisdom a source of vexation, grief and sorrow [Eccl 1:17,18]
My understanding of these apparent opposites is that both are true, and indeed, they can be. Wisdom brings the benefits of deeper understanding, but the burden of such an understanding can be terrible at times, too. —RS
Indeed, this could easily be a both/and situation. For example,
wisdom causes me to rejoice in the plan of God. But it also causes
me sorrow in knowing that not all will partake of that plan.
A good name is a curse [Luke 6:26]
Naturally, it’s obvious that Luke 6:26 says no such thing. It does, however, warn against the complacency of popularity and vanity. Wise words. —RS
When the world speaks well of Christians, it is probably because
those Christians do not disturb the world, and in fact, may be
because they have worldly values. In this case, such Christians
would do well to heed Jesus’ warning. Luke 6 says nothing about
a “good name.” Furthermore, since the OT verses do not deal with the
added dimension of the Church being in the world, they simply cannot
133. Laughter commendedEccl 8:15]
Luke 6 is answered in 126. As for the rest, Eccl 3:4 resolves the
whole thing – "there is….a time to weep and a time to laugh.”
Laughing at one’s suffering is not a time to laugh, thus would be
condemned. Laughing during a time of celebration would obviously
not be condemned.
There is no remedy for foolishness
The former regards children who don’t know better by their nature
until instructed and diverted from foolishness. The latter refers to
someone who has grown up into the permanent foolishness. Context
is all. —RS
A fool should not be answered according to his folly
The first thing to note is that these seemingly contradictory
teachings are right next to each other. Could the writer of Proverbs
be so stupid as to not notice this?! I hardly think so. In fact, I think
it is very illuminating that these teachings are closely tied. They
highlight the fact that Biblical admonitions need not fall under the
“either/or” criteria, but can be more properly understood in term of
In fact, I have often found these two teachings from
Proverbs quite useful. In debating various non-Christians, I often
encounter foolish responses and name-calling. I can either choose
not to respond or ignore the foolishness and get to the point of
contention. At such times, I follow Proverbs 26:4. In other
instances, I mirror the foolishness of my antagonist in the hopes
that he/she can perceive the folly of their approach when I employ
it. At such times, I follow Proverbs 26:5. The key is knowing when
to use which approach, and in such instances, I try to allow the
Spirit to guide me.
Temptation not to be desired
Twisted wording, mostly. Jesus tells us to pray that the Lord move usto resist temptation. James says that once you know to let the Lord help you resist temptation, rejoice that your faith is honed by the experiences of his divine aid. —RS
I’d also add that James 1:2 does not say that temptations are to be desired. It says that we should rejoice that in our trials because they help to mature our faith.
Consider this strained analogy. Anyone who works out at the gym
knows that a good workout results in pain. But one does not seek out
the pain. One does not ask for it. In fact, one could ask to be led
away from pain, in general. Yet, when one works out physically
or spiritually, pain/trials follow. Yet the pain/trials shoud not
discourage you. In fact, they are a sign that you are growing.
Prophecy is not sure [Jer 18:7-10]
Apples and oranges. Peter wrote about prophecy that had already
been fulfilled. Jeremiah’s verse is about prophecy of things yet to
be done. That is, it is a conditional prophecy designed to induce
Man’s life is but seventy years [Ps 90:10]
In Gen 6:3, God prescribes a 120 year lifespan just prior to the Flood.
Psalm 90:10 does not say the lifespan is 120. It’s a poetical
reference to us living 70 years, 80 if we are strong. (According to
the NIV notes, Hebrew poetic convention called for 80 to follow 70
in parallel construction). Genesis 6 could be setting an upper limit,
or given the context, it could be just one way of saying that man is
mortal. Psalm 90 is an observation fitted into a poetical account of
our fleeting existence.
The fear of man is not upon the lion [Prov 30:30]
Prov 30:30 — “The lion which is mighty among beasts and does not
retreat before any” could mean “any other beast.”
This is a very confusing claim of contradictions. Taking the latter
set of verses one by one: The first involves the Pharoah’s magicians
doing a trick which Aaron, acting for the Lord, totally defeated.
These verses say nothing about miracles not being a proof of divine
mission, instead, the true miracle (from God) swallowed up the
tricks of the magicians. The second is a commandment against
abandoning God for other gods because of such tricks – something
Jesus and Moses certainly never called for. The third verse is
apparently taken out of context; in it, Jesus says that it makes no
sense to claim he casts out demons in the devil’s name. None of this
can be construed as contradictory to the purpose of God’s miracles.
Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 141-143
141. Moses was a very meek man [Num 12:3]
Moses was a very cruel man
The latter of these is a judgment call, but at any rate, taking the
point, it obviously involves assuming that to be noncontradictory,
Moses, and everyone else, would have to be exactly the same from
early to late in their lives and experiences. Such assumptions are
142. Elijah went up to heaven [2 Kings 2:11]
None but Christ ever ascended into heaven
Here one has to read John 3:13 in context.
“If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things? And no one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man.”
Haley notes: Jesus, setting forth his own superior authority, says,
substantially, “No human being can speak from personal knowledge,
as I do, who came from heaven. No man hath ascended up to heaven
to bring back tidings.” So we, speaking of the secrets of the future
world, should very naturally say: “No man has been there to tell us
about them.” In saying this, we do not deny that any one has actually
entered the eternal world, but merely that any one has gone thither,
and returned to unfold its mystery.
Haley’s interpretation of the whole point is entirely possible.
This is a case of over-interpretation. Paul does not say that what he
writes is not inspired by God; merely that the Lord has not
commanded what Paul says. Paul was almost certainly inspired by
God in each word he spoke (preached) following his conversion (cf. 1 Cor
2:4,7,13; 1 Thess 2:13). —RS
I’d also note that in 1 Cor 7:10, Paul could be citing an actual tradition from Jesus’ earthly ministry, while in verse 12 he is not. Thus, he is not saying the teaching is not inspired from God, only that it didn’t stem from the teachings of Jesus when He was on earth. 2 Cor could merely mean that Paul was not speaking as Jesus would when He was on earth. But this doesn’t mean that the Spirit is not speaking through him.
Originally By: Andrew Tong, Michael J. Bumbulis,MaryAnna White, Russ Smith, and others (1994-1995)