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Are There Contradictions in the Bible? Part III of a Series on Resolving Discrepancies in Scripture
This is the third and final part of a series of articles responding to allegations of Bible discrepancies and contradictions. This month we are providing the solution to a variety of commonly-alleged textual conflicts. A related comment follows.
In Matthew 22:42 (NASB) Jesus says, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is He?” But in the Luke 20:41 account Jesus is quoted as asking, “How is it that they say the Christ is David’s son?” Which of the two is it? If you’re going to insist on taking the Bible literally, you’ll have to agree that Jesus must have said one or the other.
Not necessarily. Why couldn’t He have said both as part of a larger conversation? Harold Lindsell once postulated that the conversation may have gone something like this: “Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, ‘What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?’ They said to him, ‘The son of David'” (Matthew 22:41-42). “And He said to them, ‘How is it that they say that the Christ is David’s son?'” (Luke 20:41). Thus, the two passages are neatly, credibly, harmonized-with no contradiction at all.
Jacob, in Genesis 32:30, says that he has “seen God face to face.” But in Exodus 33:20, God Himself categorically states to Moses: “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” This sure sounds like a glaring contradiction to me.
In Genesis 32, what Jacob saw face to face was a theophany-that is, a pre-incarnate manifestation of Almighty God in human, or angelic, form. Of course, Jesus Christ was fully God “cloaked” in human form, and many could, and did, see Him. Very possibly Jacob had wrestled with Christ. But what Moses had asked to see in Exodus 33:20 was the unmasked presence of God in all of His Divine, unmitigated glory. Such was impossible. I Timothy 6:16 also states that God dwells in unapproachable light, and no man has seen or can see Him.
You evangelical Christians are always claiming that the entire Bible is inspired by God. You cite texts like
What Paul is saying in I Corinthians 7:12 is that the Lord (Jesus), when He was on earth, had never directly addressed the matter he (Paul) is now prepared to address. He is simply stating that (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) he will now be first to tackle it. He does not suggest that his words are any less inspired. As a matter of fact, on the contrary, near the beginning of his letter (I Cor. 2:13), later in this chapter (I Cor. 7:40), and near the end of his epistle (I Cor. 14:37)-three separate times-he reiterates that what he is writing really is Spirit-inspired.
A concluding comment.
For three consecutive issues we have examined a wide range of alleged Bible contradictions. Some have been more of a challenge to unravel than others, but all alleged Bible contradictions really have at least one thing in common-they have already been solved. That is, since the Bible has been around for so long, no really new allegations ever surface anymore. Someone, somewhere, has in some way already discovered and provided a credible response to every alleged Bible contradiction.
“All Bible contradictions have already been solved. There are no new surprises.”
In my library are a number of books dedicated exclusively to the task of providing reasonable solutions to every conceivable charge of Bible contradiction. Following are three fairly recent and especially valuable resources:
Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, ©1982 Zondervan (Archer)