Apologetics – the question of contradictions
When the objection regarding biblical contradiction is raised, its important to find out if it’s an honest question or a smokescreeen.
Ask the question: “if I can show that this is not a contradiction, will that decrease doubt or change your mind about God or the bible?”
First determine if this is a productive effort, or just pointlessly arguing.
Next, ask what “ contradiction “ did they have in mind. This will help you get to the heart of what the issue is OR you may find they are speaking generally or maybe repeating what they’ve heard without checking into it further.
ISNT THE BIBLE FULL OF CONTRADICTIONS?
What constitutes a contradiction?
The law of non-contradiction, which is the basis of all logical thinking, states that a thing cannot be both a and non-a at the same time. In other words, it cannot be both raining and not raining at the same time.
If one can demonstrate a violation of this principle from Scripture, then and only then can he prove a contradiction. For example, if the Bible said—which it does not—that Jesus died by crucifixion both at Jerusalem and at Nazareth at the same time, this would be a provable error.
When facing possible contradictions, it is of the highest importance to remember that two statements may differ from each other without being contradictory. Some fail to make a distinction between contradiction and difference.
For example, the case of the blind men at Jericho. Matthew relates how two blind men met Jesus, while both Mark and Luke mention only one. However, neither of these statement denies the other, but rather they are complementary.
Suppose you were talking to the mayor of your city and the chief of police at city hall. Later, you see your friend, Jim, and tell him you talked to the mayor today. An hour later, you see your friend, John, and tell him you talked to both the mayor and the chief of police.
When your friends compare notes, there is a seeming contradiction. But there is no contradiction. If you had told Jim that you talked only to the mayor, you would have contradicted that statement by what you told John.
Bible Contradiction: When was Jesus Crucified?
EXAMPLE #1 – AT WHAT TIME WAS JESUS CRUCIFIED?
14 Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the [h]sixth hour.
and Mark 15:25.
25 It was the [i]third hour [j]when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge against Him [k]read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Mark records that Jesus was crucified in the third hour of the day, but John writes that “it was about the sixth hour” when Pilate presented Jesus to the Jews and said “Behold your King!”
Simple solution – understanding
So, what is the solution which makes sense of all of this? It is simply that John’s sixth hour was the hour which the Roman government would have recorded as the time of Jesus’ sentencing while Mark’s third hour was the time that the Jews would have noted as the time that they saw Jesus on the cross. In other words, John was using the Roman method of counting time while Mark was using the Jewish method.
EXAMPLE # 2 – TWO DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS OF CREATION?
The claim goes that there are two creation accounts: Genesis 1and 2 give different accounts.
In chapter 1, man and woman are created at the same time after the creation of the animals.
In chapter 2, the animals are created after people.
Genesis 1:1–2:3 provides us with a chronological account of what God did on each of the days during Creation Week.
Genesis 2:4–25 zooms in on Day Six and shows some of the events of that day.1 Let’s take a look at what happened on Day Six, according to Genesis 2, and we’ll see there is no discrepancy here.
Adam is created (Genesis 2:7)
Garden of Eden created (Genesis 2:8–9)
Description of river system in Eden (Genesis 2:10–14)
Adam put in Garden and given instructions (Genesis 2:15–17)
Adam names some of the kinds of animals (Genesis 2:18–20)
God creates Eve (Genesis 2:21–22)
Description of Adam, Eve, and marriage (Genesis 2:23–25)
The particular issue that people have with Genesis 2 is that the order of the creation of man, animals, and trees seems to be contrary to the order stated in Genesis 1.
The NIV suggests a different way of viewing the first two chapters of Genesis. Genesis 2 does not suggest a chronology. That is why the NIV suggests using the style “the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the fields.” Therefore, the animals being brought to Adam had already been made and were not being brought to him immediately after their creation. Interestingly, Tyndale agrees with the NIV—and Tyndale’s translation predates the KJV.
The Lord God had made of the earth all manner of beasts of the field and all manner fowls of the air.
Tyndale and the NIV are correct on this verse because the verb in the sentence can be translated as pluperfect rather than perfect. The pluperfect tense can be considered as the past of the past—that is to say, in a narration set in the past, the event to which the narration refers is already further in the past. Once the pluperfect is taken into account, the perceived contradiction completely disappears.
At first glance this seems to be a contradiction because Genesis 1 has the animals and trees created prior to the creation of man; however, both issues can be resolved by an understanding of the original language and the translation process.2 The Hebrew word for formed in both passages is yatsar.
The New King James Version … translates the verb in its perfect form.
However, this Hebrew word may also be translated in its pluperfect form.
In this case, it would read that God “had formed” these creatures, as some other translations have it (e.g. ESV, NIV, etc.) For example, Genesis 2:19 in the NIV states:
Now the 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 to see what he would name them. (emphasis mine)
This rendering eliminates any problem with the chronology because it refers to what God had already done earlier in Creation Week. This would mean that the plants (Genesis 2:9) and the animals (Genesis 2:19) had already been formed by God earlier in Creation Week. William Tyndale was the first to translate an English Bible directly from the original languages,3 and He also translated the verb in its pluperfect form.
And after that the Lord God had made of the earth all manner beasts of the field, and all manner fowls of the air, he brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them. And as Adam called all manner living beasts: even so are their names. (Tyndale, Genesis 2:19)
EXAMPLE #3 – RESURRECTION ACCOUNTS WITH DIFFERENT NUMBERS OF WOMEN?
When did the women go to the tomb, and how many went?
The Gospels refer to different times and name different women who arrived at the tomb.
Matthew states that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” came to the tomb as it “began to dawn” (Matthew 28:1).
Mark adds Salome to the group and claims that they came “very early in the morning” (Mark 16:1–2).
Luke agrees that it was “very early in the morning” and names “Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women” as those who came to the tomb (Luke 24:1, 24:10).
John wrote that “Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark” (John 20:1).
WHEN WE PUT ALL THE PIECES TOGETHER, THE WONDER OF THE RESURRECTION SHINES OUT IN EVEN GREATER GLORY.
Regarding the timing of the women’s trip, the sticky point is John’s claim that they went to the tomb “while it was still dark” (John 20:1). Was it very early in the morning at dawn, or was it still dark? One plausible solution is that the phrases used in the Gospels all refer to the same general time. Much of the sky is still dark when the day begins to dawn very early in the morning.
Perhaps a better solution is that John may have described when the women initially left for the tomb, while the other Gospels described when the women arrived. If they lodged in Bethany, as they had done earlier in the week, then the women would need to travel about two miles to reach the burial site (John 11:18), plenty of time for the sun to rise.
Resolving the differences in the number of women listed is straightforward. At least five women went to the tomb, since Luke names three of them and then says “other women” went too (at least two). Notice that Matthew does not say that only two women were there. Mark does not say only three women were there. They simply focus on the women they name. Although John names only Mary Magdalene, he is clearly aware that she was not alone. Reporting to Peter and John, she said, ““They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him”” (John 20:2, italics added).
Luke declared that after Jesus suffered and died on the Cross, He showed Himself alive “by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3). Skeptics will surely continue to question Scripture and neglect reasonable solutions to the dilemmas they propose. It’s hard for them to be open-minded about sensible answers because Christ’s Resurrection, if true, is a miracle that demonstrates Jesus is Lord—a truth contrary to their secular worldview, which rejects miracles and the supernatural. No matter how many objections unbelievers raise, Christians can be confident there are no contradictions in the Word of God.
Example #4 – SAULS CONVERSION – WHO HEARD WHAT?
( https://www.josh.org/resources/apologetics/answering-skeptics-detail/?id=864&mot=J79GNF&gclid=Cj0KCQjw37fZBRD3ARIsAJihSr2AEbhe9NczA0yzATu1HEqosqwRvEliwKqZi0erJi9f7Hm8udrhc6EaAgp3EALw_wcB )
A classic example concerns the accounts of Paul’s conversion as recorded in the Book of Acts.
Acts 9:7 (KJV) states, “The men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.”
Acts 22:9 (KJV) reads, “And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.”
These statements seem contradictory, with one saying that Paul’s companions heard a voice, while the other account says that no voice was heard. However, a knowledge of Greek solves this difficulty. As the Greek scholar, W. F. Arndt, explains:
“The construction of the verb ‘to hear’ (akouo) is not the same in both accounts. In Acts 9:7 it is used with the genitive,
in Acts 22:9 with the accusative.
The construction with the genitive simply expresses that something is being heard or that certain sounds reach the ear; nothing is indicated as to whether a person understands what he hears or not.
“The construction with the accusative, however, describes a hearing which includes mental apprehension of the message spoken. From this it becomes evident that the two passages are not contradictory.
“Acts 22:9 does not deny that the associates of Paul heard certain sounds; it simply declares that they did not hear in such a way as to understand what was being said. Our English idiom in this case simply is not so expressive as the Greek” (Does the Bible Contradict Itself, pp. 13–14.)
EXAMPLE #5 – PAUL VS. JAMES / FAITH VS. WORKS?
– clearly teaches that we are justified by faith and not by works (Rom. 1:17).
He declared, “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).
It is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5).
For “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8–9).
– You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. ( James 2 )
SOLUTION: James and Paul would be contradictory if they were speaking about the same thing, but there are many indications in the text that they are not. Paul is speaking about justification before God, while James is talking about justification before humans.
This is indicated by the fact that James stressed that we should “show” (2:18) our faith. It must be something that can be seen by others in “works” (2:18–20). Further, James acknowledged that Abraham was justified before God by faith, not works, when he said, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (2:23). When he adds that Abraham was “justified by works” (v. 21), he is speaking of what Abraham did that could be seen by people, namely, offer his son Isaac on the altar (2:21–22).
Further, while Paul and is stressing the root of justification (faith), James is stressing the fruit of justification (works). But each man acknowledges both. Immediately after affirming that we are “saved by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8–9), Paul quickly adds, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Likewise, right after declaring that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5–7), Paul urges that “those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works” (Eph. 2:8).