Alleged Bible Contradictions 
and Answers

Should we kill?
Should we tell lies?
Should we steal?
Shall we keep the sabbath?
Shall we make graven images?
Are we saved through works?
Should good works be seen?
Should we own slaves?
Does God change his mind?
Are we punished for our parents' sins?
Is God good or evil?
Does God tempt people?
Is God peaceable?
Was Jesus peaceable?
Was Jesus trustworthy?
Shall we call people names?
Has anyone seen God?
How many Gods are there?
Are we all sinners?
How old was Ahaziah?
Should we swear an oath?
When was Jesus crucified?
Shall we obey the (civil) law?
How many animals on the ark?
Were women and men created equal?
Were trees created before humans?
Did Michal have children?
How many stalls did Solomon have?
Did Paul's men hear a voice?
Is God omnipotent?
Does God live in light?
Does God accept human sacrifice?
Who was Joseph's father?


Should we kill?

vs. The Bible makes the same distinction as we do in the society between murder, capital punishment, and other forms of killing. The first set is referring to murder. The second set is referring to capital punishment.

Should we tell lies?

vs. God doesn't lie. Nor does he want us to lie. But he has allowed Satan to decieve the unbelievers. But it's their own fault that they are decieved. If they followed the Lord they wouldn't be deceived. The second set of cases deal with those who have decided to harden their hearts against the Lord. Romans chapter 1 elaborates on this process. For example it speaks of "God gave them over in the sinful desires" because of their own choice. And "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts." speaking of homosexuality. And "Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." But notice in these cases God's action is like that of a dam holding back the flood. If we keep rebelling, then he lets the dam go and let's us experience the consequences of our sinfulness. The situation described in 1Kings 22 is similar to that of Job and no doubt represents a similiar situation in 2Thess 2. God allows Satan to propagate lies. Those who follow the Lord are not deceived. But those who reject the Lord are subject to deception because they have corrupted their spirit which affects their conscience and intuition such that they cannot discern the truth. But God himself never lied. However, as in the case of Rahab, God's people are imperfect and at times will try to carry out God's will in an inappropriate manner. Rahab should not have lied, but then again she was probably unfamiliar with the 10 commandments.

Should we steal?

vs. Exodus 12:35,36
"The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing.  The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians." I don't think that's considered stealing.

As for the situation with the Lord, the Lord owns everything, including me and you. The question should really be have you asked the Lord's permission to do the things you are doing.


Shall we keep the sabbath?

vs. That's just a dispensational difference between the old and new covenants. Though Christians infer applications from the Law, the commands given to the Jews under the Mosaic Law were specific to them. Paul's writings in Romans and Galatians clarify some of these distinctions. The Old Testament is like a shadow of the New. And there are differences between shadows and reality. But such differences are not considered contradictions.

Shall we make graven images?

vs. The spirit of the Law is not to make graven images for the purpose of worshipping them. A statue or picture is not the same as an idol. A good example of this distinction is in Numbers 21 when God told Moses to  make a bronze serpent on a rod (which today is even a  medical symbol on the back of ambulances). Jesus alluded to that event when he talked with a Jewish teacher in John 3. The people of Israel were complaining against God so God sent venemous snakes to kill them. But they repented and so God had Moses erect the bronze snake. He promise that whoever had been bitten and looked upon the bronze snake would live. Jesus used that as an allegory for his death on the cross, which would become the object of faith for eternal salvation. But then we read in 2Kings 18:4 that many years later the people of Israel began to worship the bronze snake and so the king appropriately had it destroyed. So also with religious symbols. They should be removed if they become objects of faith.

Are we saved through works?

vs. The common defense here is that "we are saved by faith and works." But Paul said "not of works."

The correct formula is that we are saved by a faith that works. It is an application oriented faith which saves. But a faith in works does not save. Paul was objecting to the legalism of those who put faith in works. And while James was objecting to those who have a non-application oriented faith, he went too far in making works a condition for justification. (See James Intro) These are not contradictory. They are dealing with different aspects of saving faith.

However in the Matthew 19 passage Jesus is not speaking of salvation through faith. He's dealing with a person who lacks conviction of sin. For such people he challenges them with a righteousness which is of the Law. (If you don't do anything wrong, then God certainly can't condemn you). That is another way to obtain righteousness. Paul speaks of that righteous in the first three chapters of Romans, but concludes:

"Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.  But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Rom 3:19-24
The problem with the righteousness which is of the Law is that it is unattainable. But this is not to say that it has no use. For Paul uses it in Romans 2 and 3 and Jesus uses it in Matthew 19 for the same purpose - to bring conviction of sin which can lead one to the righteousness which is of faith.

Should good works be seen?

vs. Just as with the idolatry issues mentioned previously, the issue here is one of motivation. We should not parade around our good works so as to vainly get glory for ourselves. And because of the innate sinful nature it's best to keep a lid on it. However what the first passages are referring to is that our lifestyle should be so filled with good works that it is inevitable they will be revealed to others. The emphasis is on glorifying God. 1st Peter speaks of the return of Christ. For even if our works are not revealed now, they will be revealed in the future on judgement day.

Should we own slaves?

vs. (Pro-slavery bible verses were cited by many churches in the South during the Civil War, and were used by some theologians in the Dutch Reformed Church to justify apartheid in South Africa. There are more pro-slavery verses than cited here.)

But there are many different kinds of slaves. For example Paul writes, "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-- whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." Rom 6:16-18 And Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin." John 8:34 So everyone's a slave to something. But in another sense today you could even call employees slaves. It's just a matter of the degree of personal rights and freedoms. For example I recently heard from a guy that feels like he's a slave simply because he's not allowed to run around naked in the streets! The Bible speaks of servants. A servant is a person who serves. For example those in the military serve their country, and thus they are servants. In Matt 23 Jesus is speaking by way of hyperbole is referring to the Par Excellence figure of speech. He also says  "and do not call anyone on earth 'father'"but there are plenty of places where Jesus makes reference to earthly fathers. What he is objecting to is, for example, the catholic practice of calling priests "father" or the like in an absolute sense. And though earthly authorities can carry a title, yet it must also be acknowledged that they are all under God. As for a Christian perspective on slavery I would recommend the book of Philemon in which Paul advises a Christian runaway  slave to return to his Christian master. But he also writes the Christian master to reckon the slave as a son and not a slave. And he also writes in 1Cor 7 "Were you a slave when you were called?  Don't let it trouble you-- although if you can gain your freedom, do so.For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men."


Does God change his mind?

vs. See also II Kings 20:1-7, Numbers 16:20-35, Numbers 16:44-50.
See Genesis 18:23-33, where Abraham gets God to change his mind about the minimum number of righteous people in Sodom required to avoid destruction, bargaining down from fifty to ten. (An omniscient God must have known that he was playing with Abraham's hopes for mercy--he destroyed the city anyway.)

In respect to his essence, his attributes, his moral character, and his inflexible determination to punish sin and reward virtue, God is without variableness or shadow of turning. Many of his judgement are conditional so as to be consistent with these unchangeable attributes of God.  When he told Jonah to declare judgement against Ninevah, even the Ninevites realize this and repented and were saved. For it is inherent in his character to forgive the contrite of heart. Thus for example when you read his judgments these are to be understood in the sense "if you continue on this this way - then such and such will happen". This is somewhat clarified in Jeremiah 18:7-10 "If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted,  and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it."

As for his discussion with Abraham, he was simply allowing Abraham to interceed, as Moses had on Israel's behalf. And this is another unchanging principle of God. He listens to the intercessory prayers  of the godly.


Are we punished for our parents' sins?

vs. What is implied in the first set is that the statement is conditioned upon children behaving as their parents, which is quite common. Exodus 20:6 says, "but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." Thus he is clearly contrasting individual behavior. As for Adam, all die in Adam when they follow his example by sinning. Thus the responsibility is reckoned individually but can be described corporally.

Is God good or evil?

vs. These are simply using different connotations of the same word. Here are a few connotations of "evil" from the dictionary
1. Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant.
2. Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful: the evil effects of a poor diet.
3. Characterized by or indicating future misfortune; ominous: evil omens.
A given context may be referring to one of these connotations while not referring to another. Thus the Lord does not create morally bad things, but he does create misfortune, ruin and pain at times.

Does God tempt people?

vs. Again these are different connotations of the same word. In old English the word "tempt" often means simply to test. Gen 22:1 in modern English is "Some time later God tested Abraham." (NIV) Today we tend to distinguish between "tempt" and "test" (or "prove"). These are different concepts.

Is God peaceable?

vs. There is peace inside of God's kingdom. And he desires his enemies to be reconciled with him. But if they won't, then they are subject to his judgment. The Joel passage is referring to the judgement day. Notice verse 12 "Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side." But Isaiah is referring to the Millenial Kingdom. (And believing that there is both a Heaven and a Hell is no contradiction)

Was Jesus peaceable?

vs. Jesus brought peace between God and those who put their faith in him. But this also resulted in such believers being persecuted by the unbelievers. Even Jesus himself was put to death. Thus he brought both war and peace.

Was Jesus trustworthy?

vs. "Record" and "witness" in the above verses are the same Greek word (martyria).

In John 5 he is simply stating the law that you are not supposed to rely in a legal sense on the witness of one person alone And he goes on to speak of other witnesses for him. But in John 8 he is saying that his testimony alone is valid, not in a human legal sense, but in an absolute sense. For example, if you conclude that Jesus is in fact the Son of God, then you need not question his teachings, since they have such an authoritative basis.


Shall we call people names?

vs. The term used in Matt 5:22 is "moros" and is much more severe than the corresponding terms in the other places. While reckoning fools as fools, we are forbidden to do so in the spirit of malevolent contempt.

Has anyone seen God?

vs. The Old Testament verses are simply using figures of speech.  "Face to face" there is simply referring to friendship as Exodus 33:11 indicates. The Isaiah passage is referring to a vision, not seeing God literally. And Job also didn't literally see God but was confronted by God directly.

How many Gods are there?

vs. These are resolved in the concept of the Trinity. (See Understanding the Trinity)

Are we all sinners?

vs. The first are speaking in an absolute sense. The second are speaking in a sense relative to the society.

How old was Ahaziah?

vs. The simplest  explanation was made by Genenius who pointed out that it may be a simply transliteration error in 2Chron. For the Hebrew letter for 20 and 40 are quite similar.

Should we swear an oath?

vs. In the first set a number of those verses have to do simply with swearing unto the Lord. The issue the second set deals with is the issue of swearing by something. It is vain to swear by something you have no control over. The only legitimate application would be to swear by our own integrity. But that is already implied when we swear an oath. God swears by Himself because he has control over Himself. But to swear on our mother's grave or such is simply vain. It's doesn't mean anything, and such a person would be falsely implying that they have control over such things, which is where the sin comes into play.

When was Jesus crucified?

vs. There are a couple of leading explanations of this case.
1. That that the two evangelists give the extreme limits of time, - Mark referring to the beginning of the preparations, and John pointing to the completion of the dreadful tragedy. The words of the former, "It was the third hour," may denote indefinitely that the third hour was past; while the phraseology in John "about the sixth hour", may meaning simply that it was approaching the sixth hour.
2. John, writing in Asia Minor, may have used the Roman official mode of computation, reckoning from midnight, so that the "sixth hour" would be 6 A.M. to 9 AM (the "third hour," according to Jewish reckoning) was occupied by the preliminaries, and by the passage of the procession forth to Golgotha.

Shall we obey the law?

vs. Both of these are consistent with the idea of obeying legitimate human authority to the degree that are acting within their legitimate God-given realm of authority

How many animals on the ark?

vs. Gen 6:19 was the general command given 120 years before building the ark. The Gen 7:8+ is more specific. Concerning the clean animals Noah was commanded to take 7 pairs. They entered the ark in pairs - male and female.

Were women and men created equal?

vs. I assume by "equal" you mean "in the same manner". Genesis 1:27 just records the fact of creation without reference to how He went about it. But more relevant to this general question is 1Cor 11:7-9"A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man;  neither was man created for woman, but woman for man." The difference of equality here is one of role but not of substance or value. But such "inequalities" are true of many other role relationships such as between parents and children, government and citizen, employer and employee, etc.

Were trees created before humans?

vs. Genesis 2:5 is referring to the garden of Eden in particular. The word "earth" simply means "land", which also resolves alot of other paradoxical issues in Genesis. (See Genesis Interpretation)

Did Michal have children?

vs. The King James of 2Sam 6:23 has a transliteration error. Saul had two daughters, Michal and Merab, which names are quite similar in Hebrew. The modern translations  read correctly saying: "But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah's daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul's daughter Merab, whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite." IISamuel 21:8 (NIV) Thus it was referring to Merab, the older daughter, and not Michal, the younger. Notice the her husband was "Adriel" not David. It was Merab who was married to Adriel. "So when the time came for Merab, Saul's daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah." 1Sa 18:19 (Even the King James says that) Michal was married to David.

How many stalls did Solomon have?

vs. Just a transliteration error as the two words look quite similar in Hebrew. And there are a number of these kinds of errors because of the subtleties of the written Hebrew.

Did Paul's men hear a voice?

vs. They heard something but they could make out what it was. Similarly in John 12:28,29 "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.

Is God omnipotent?

vs. The "he" in Judges 1:19 is not referring to the Lord but to Joshua. The Lord allowed him limited success. The Lord says in Exodus "I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee." Ex 23:29

Does God live in light?

vs. The first set is referring to God being the source of truth. The second set is referring to God's secretive nature in that much of God's truth is hidden. But much is revealed in the New Testament through Jesus Christ. 1Cor 2:7 "We speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began." Rom 11:33 "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!"

Does God accept human sacrifice?

vs. Genesis 22:2 Isaac was not sacrificed. God was simply testing the limits of Abraham's obedience. God did not seek the slaying of Isaac in facto, but only the implicit surrender of the lad in mind and heart.
Exodus 22:29 is not referring to human sacrifice but to dedication.
Judges 11:30-39 Jephthah made a stupid sinful vow and was wrong. Some however view the vow simply to referring to his daughter's virginity and not to her physical life. "After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin. From this comes the Israelite custom" Judges 11:39
2Sam 21 is referring not to sacrifice but to capital punishment.
Heb 10 and 1Cor is very significantly referring to the death of our Lord as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. But this does not apply to the Genesis passage for the ones killing the Lord were not doing so out of a sense of human sacrifice to God but were simply applying capital punishment in an unjust manner. And the sacrifice God made of his son may be likened more to sending one's son on a suicide mission to save others, which is quite different than God himself killing his son directly. Notice in Acts 7:52 that the one's crucifying Christ were reckoned not priests carrying out a legitimate sacrifice, but murderers. Thus though God foreknew what would happen, he did not control these murderers in puppetlike fashion to force them to crucify his Son. In view of who he was, the value of Christ's selfless act was enough to pay the penalty of all human sin. But such is not the case for anyone else. The Old Testament animal sacrifices were allegorical of Christ's atoning work on the cross. But in fulfilling the allegory, Christ was not literally sacrificed in the same sense. The book of Hebrews elaborates on the allegorical connection between the two but views Christ as both the high priest doing the sacrifice and the sacrifice itself.


Who was Joseph's father?

vs. Both. But Heli was more literally Joseph's father in law. (The talmudic writers - unbelieving Jews - clarify that Heli was Mary's father). But if Mary had no brothers then according to Jewish law Joseph would be reckoned his son.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources
Jul 29,2015