In this second entry of a mini-series, we continue to review, examine, and reconcile alleged contradictions, discrepancies, or errors found within the Bible. As noted within the text of the previous entry, it is the position of this ministry - and ought to be for all Christians - that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, given to mankind via God the Spirit working through forty different authors over a span of around 1600 years, across three different continents, all with one centralized message: God's plan for the redemption of mankind. In the past, The Truth Ministries has answered objections concerning the authenticity of the Bible we have to day, illustrating the careful and meticulous preservation of the manuscripts, along with the predictive prophecy and archaeological credence. But does the Bible contain contradictions? (Photo credit: Hope Now Bible Church)
If the Bible contained contradictions, it would considerably throw into question not only the preservation and accuracy of Scripture, it would throw into question its divine inspiration, and render the Bible unreliable as God's Word. The contradictions discussed and examined within this entry have been taken from the Skeptics Annotated Bible website. One such contradiction is as follows: Who created heaven and earth? Genesis 1:1 and Isaiah 44:24 say that God did - yet John 1:6-10 and 1st Corinthians 8:6 state that both Jesus and God did. But is there really a contradiction?
No, the skeptic merely has a theological misunderstanding. Jesus is God, the Bible attests to this on numerous occasions. The book of John is filled with references to the divine nature of Christ (John 1, 8:58 cf. Exodus 3, 10:18, 10:30, 13:13, 13:19, 14:6-11, 17:21, 20:28, etc.), as are the other Gospels. The name that Jesus used often of Himself is the "Son of Man." It has been alleged that he was claiming to be man, yet a examination of the historical context, in regard to the Jewish mindset of the time reveals otherwise. The Jews of this time were expecting the Messiah, and knew the prophecy of Daniel 7:13-14. It reads:
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed" (emphasis added). The Jews understood that this could not be a reference to a mortal king, but a claim to deity. In fact, it was when Jesus claimed to be the "Son of Man," clearly claiming deity, that Caiaphas tore his robe and wanted Jesus eliminated (see Matthew 26:63-68).
|Credit: Hope Now Bible Church|
Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons, along with demonstrating a control over nature and creatures. While prophets of the Old Testament accomplished similar feats, Jesus did something they did not: He claimed to forgive sins. Jews understood that only God could forgive sins, yet Jesus forgave sins as if it were His right to. Colossians 1, Philippians 2, Hebrews 1, and 1st John 1 also identify Jesus as God. Romans 10:9 identifies Jesus as Lord, (Theos) as does Dr. Luke when calling Christ the "Lord of the Sabbath" (Luke 6:5). Paul identifies Jesus as God in Ephesians 4:4-6, as well as Titus 2:13, "while we wait for the blessed hope - the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (emphasis added). There is no such contradiction, as Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. (For more information, see entry: "Is Jesus Really God?")
Another alleged contradiction involves Jonah. Jonah was a prophet from Gath Hepher, who had restored the "boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoke [to Jonah]." (2nd Kings 14:25) In the book of Jonah, we read more about this prophet. The skeptic claims that a contradiction exists: "Was Jonah swallowed by a fish or a whale?" The skeptic quotes Jonah 1:17, "Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." Matthew 12:40 is then quoted, and the text which is quoted is as follows, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly." The reader may be curious as to what the issue is.
The issue is simply this: although whales bear the appearance of fish, according to experts, whales are not fish. Whales breath with lungs and not gills, hence the reason they must surface regularly for air, whales do not lay eggs but rather give birth to - and nurse - their young, and whales have hair, not scales as fish do. The word ketos is used to describe the creature which swallowed Jonah up. It has been noted in older entries that there are different translations, but most translations identify ketos with "a great [or huge] fish," not a whale. That Jonah was swallowed by a whale is found within children's storybook depictions, but regardless, it is possible that both Jonah and Jesus actually said a whale, not a fish. It is our translation of the word ketos that is central. Therefore, we can conclude that there is no contradiction here - just a misuse of different translations.
Yet another supposed contradiction involves the location where Moses received the Ten Commandments and the Old Covenant. Several verses in Exodus, along with Leviticus 26:46, 27:34 and Nehemiah 9:13 state that it was at Mount Sinai, whereas 1st Kings 8:9, 2nd Chronicles 5:10 and Malachi 4:4 state that it was at Mount Horeb. According to the Wikipedia article, "though there is a small body of opinion that Sinai and Horeb were different locations, they are generally considered to have been different names for the same place." The Encyclopedia Britannica will take you to the Mount Sinai entry if you search for Mount Horeb. For centuries, the two mountains have been regarded as the same Mountain. There is no contradiction.
A claim of an alleged contradiction concerning Paul and Jesus has also been leveled. It asks, "Did Paul see Jesus on the road to Damascus?" In support of "yes," the skeptic cites 1st Corinthians 9:1, "...Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?" (note that, in reference to the earlier point regarding Jesus, Paul here calls Him Lord). In support of "no," the skeptic cites Acts 9:8, "Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by hand into Damascus." Verse 9 continues, "For three days he was blind..." The skeptic also cites 1st Corinthians 15:8, "And last of all He appeared to me..." But do these verses present an actual contradiction? Not at all.
If anything, the skeptic could have reworded 1st Corinthians 9:1 in support of "no," but aside from this, nowhere does Paul state that He had not seen Jesus. Acts 9:8, "Saul got up...he could see nothing" takes place directly after Paul has seen Jesus. Acts 9:4-8 records, "He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' Saul asked. 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' He replied. 'Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.' The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing..." The quote was taken out of context. Paul evidently heard and saw the risen Lord - but his companions only heard him. He notes several times that he saw a light and heard Christ in the book of Acts, all within chapters of the event's occurrence.
But what about 1st Corinthians 15? In his book, The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel interviews several experts - archaeologists, historians, scholars, etc., who make a case for 1st Corinthians 15:3-7 actually having been a creed passed on to Paul around 35 AD when he was in Jerusalem (see Galatians 1:17-21). Paul, having seen Christ, adds that "and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." The skeptic excludes Paul's "also," inferring that He had seen Jesus. In its entirety, 1st Corinthians 15:3-8 (including Paul's addition to the creed concerning himself) reads:
"For what I received [the creed] I passed on to you as first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas [Peter], and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. [have died] Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." Taken in context, Paul is clearly stating in his letter to the church at Corinth (written ca.55 AD) that he had seen Jesus as well. There is no contradiction, but a clear misquoting and misapplication of Scripture. Even if Paul had not been referring to the incident on the road to Damascus, Dr. Luke records that Jesus visited Paul on more than one occasion throughout the book of Acts - in physical form.
Concerning Paul's visitation of the disciples, the Skeptics Annotated Bible claims a contradiction. Acts 9:26-28 is quoted as, "And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem" Following this, Galatians 1:18-19 is quoted, "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." The contradiction is alleged as follows: Did Paul visit all of the disciples when he went to Jerusalem after his conversion?
Note that in Acts 9:26-28, nowhere does it state that Paul visited all of the disciples (or apostles), it says, "he assayed to join himself to the disciples... brought him to the apostles..." The does does that state that all of the disciples/apostles met with Paul, just "the disciples/the apostles." It does not necessitate nor should we assume that this means all of them, Paul clears this up when he conveys in Galatians that he only visited Peter and James, brother of Jesus. There is no contradiction, merely a misunderstanding of the text on the part of the skeptic leveling the claim. Another supposed contradiction concerns Enoch, who lived in the time before the Global Flood.
According to skeptic, the genealogies in Genesis 5:3-18, 1st Chronicles 1:2, and Luke 3:37-38 state that Enoch is the sixth from Adam, however, Jude 14 records, "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam...". Could this be a contradiction in the Biblical record? Genesis 5:3-18 records, "Adam... had a son... Seth... [who] became the father of Enosh... [who] became the father of Kenan... [who] became the father of Mahalalel... [who] became the father of Jared... [who] became the father of Enoch." 1st Chronicles 1:1-2 records, "Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch...", and Luke 3:37-38 records, "...the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God." If Adam is not counted, Enoch would be the sixth from Adam, however, if Adam is included, Enoch is the seventh from Adam.
Genesis, 1st Chronicles and Luke all agree on the lineage in the genealogy. Jude 14 did not convey that there was an additional person in the lineage nor did it exclude any of those in the lineage, if it had, on that basis it would have been a contradiction. Yet Jude 14 merely states, "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: 'See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones..." By excluding Adam from one the seven, the skeptic is basing his claim on a non-existent contradiction. From Adam to Enoch seven generations exist, the text of Jude specifies this, and the text found in Genesis, 1st Chronicles and Luke provides for this. There is no contradiction, merely a misapplication and an unfounded assumption by the skeptic.
In the final contradiction we will review in this entry of the mini-series, the "Skeptic's Annotated Bible" asks, "Did Adam die on the day he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?" Genesis 2:17 is cited as, "But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," along with Genesis 3:6, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food ... she took of the fruit therof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat," and Genesis 5:5, "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died." If God had told Adam that he would die if he ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and not only die but die the day of - would this not be considered a contradiction?
No, and there are two reasons why. The first, just as God had said, it happened. Adam did not die a physical death, nor had God specified it would be - Adam died a spiritual death, although the gradual process which would culminate 930 years later in his physical death began that day as well. Romans 3:23, Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 2:13, 1st Timothy 5:6 and James 1:15 all specify that death is a result of sin. Isaiah 59:1-2 and 2nd Thessalonians 1:8-9 tell us that spiritual death is separation from God, and the day upon which Adam disobeyed a direct command of the Creator and ate of the tree, he died spiritually. The second reason is simply this: Genesis 3:21 records, "The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." Many biblical scholars agree that this was likely the first offering, and as such, may have been a lamb - to atone for the sins of Adam and Eve so that they would not die that day, and to clothe them. (Ultimately, Jesus became the final "lamb.")
On the basis of the second reason, some have argued that this negates the fact that God's word was true. If God helped - or showed - Adam and Eve how to sacrifice, as He must have at some point as evidenced by the sacrifices of their children, Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:3-7), none of this negates the veracity of the word given to Adam by God - because Adam still died a spiritual death, therefore validating God's words to Adam. There is no contradiction here, but yet another misunderstanding of God's Word. While some contradictions may be difficult to answer or reconcile, as Christians we ought to believe that there is an answer, perhaps we simply have not found it yet. The veracity of God's Word ought not be determined based on whether or not a minor detail appears contradictory when in reality it is actually supplementary and easily explained.
Romans 10:9 conveys, "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and if you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Ephesians 2:8-9 reveals that we cannot attain salvation by good works or good deeds, though we are encouraged to do good deeds because we ought to, but only salvation by faith in Christ. Christianity is not without merit, it is supported by archaeology, historical evidence, astronomical and scientific evidence, internal textual consistency, the preservation and accuracy of the Biblical narrative, and the fulfilled predictive prophecies found within - but most of all, it is validated by the resurrection of Jesus, which cannot be explained by any other theory (For answers regarding the different theories on the resurrection, see the entries of the month of April 2011).
The Truth Ministries would like to thank you for taking the time to read this entry of "The Truth." This is the second entry in a mini-series on answering alleged contradictions within the Bible. We understand that not all readers will agree with our conclusions or beliefs, but it is our mission to educate, inform, and if possible, lead to Christ, though only the Holy Spirit can guide you the full length, not us. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or The Truth Ministries team at email@example.com, but please remain civil in your email, and we will get back to you when we can. Be sure to also visit our facebook page or our ministry website. Take care, and God bless you. Troy Hillman