You are on page 1of 5


They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie (2 Thessalonians 2:10,11)

Table of Contents

Introduction In Bible Times How to Interpret the Bible Pretend Contradictions

Click Here
Not all people will understand the bible. Find out who did not understand the bible. Principles in interpreting laws and contracts apply to bible Eight samples are discussed

How Will You View Matters

People often say things that are contradictory, yet could easily be explained or understood.

Introduction This article is for people who have a healthy respect for the Biblethat is those who would use reason to determine whether there are real or pretend contradictions of the Bible. This is not for those who have made up their minds that the book is full of contradictions. The Bible says that God wants all sorts of men to be saved and come to true knowledge. (1Timothy 2:4) However, the Bible also acknowledged that some would never understand Gods word. Some of these are: 1. Those who consider themselves wise. (Matthew 11:25) 2. Those who have replaced Gods words with traditions, or philosophies of men. (Mark 7:13; Colossians 2:8) 3. Those who have become victims of Satans deceit and deluded to believe in his lies. (2Thessalonians 2:10,11; 2 Corinthians 4:4) 4. Those whose minds are centered on fleshly or worldly things rather than spiritual things. (1Corinthians 2:14)

In Bible Times There are biblical accounts of those who did not understand the Scriptures. Among these are: 1. Those whose with hardened hearts. (Isaiah 6:9,10) 1. Satan. (Matthew 4:6,7) 2. The SadduceesJewish priestly class. (Matthew 22:23-29) 3. Those who are ignorant and unstable. (2Peter 3:16) How To Interpret the Bible Lawyers and judges use certain objective principles to interpret laws and contracts. The Bible is like a contract. It also contains Gods laws and judicial decisions. (compare Deuteronomy 5:1-20) To correctly interpret contracts, and lawshence to correctly interpret Biblethere are some guidelines to follow: Principle #1 Ordinary words are given ordinary meaning unless it will result in absurd interpretation. To literally interpret Jesus command to cutoff ones hands or eyes if these cause you to sin is absurd. (Mark 9:43-47) What Jesus meant was to control their fleshly desires. (compare with Colossians 3:5) Principle #2 Know the intention of the author/ writer. Jesus showed the ignorance of the religious leaders for not knowing Gods intention about the Sabbath. (Mark 2:23-27) Again, he exposed their ignorance of the intent /purpose of some of Gods laws . (Matthew 23:23) Principle #3 Look for harmony instead of contradictions in the Bible. In Mark 7:7,8 Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for invalidating Gods words because of their traditions. In 1Corinthians 11:2 Paul exhorted his fellow believers to hold fast to traditions he taught them. This is not a contradiction. It simply means that a true Christian could follow traditions if they do not contravene Gods laws. Principle #4 Let the Bible shape your beliefs not the other way around. The religious leaders would not accept Jesus as the Mesiah because they have a different belief. They believe that the Messiah would free them from their political rulersthe Romans. ( John 5:39-47; Compare with Luke 24:19-27) Principle #5 Pray for Gods help to understand difficult passages just like you would ask a lawyer, or a judge, to interpret difficult provisions of a contract. (Genesis 40:8; 1Corinthians 2:10-13) We will use the above principlesused to interpret laws and contracts--to interpret, or point out errors, of some of the so called contradictions (pretend contradictions). Pretend Contradictions The list below is not exhaustive; but a few samples that will show how to correctly interpret the bible, or show errors of what appears to be contradictions.

A. Should the creative days in Genesis chapter 1 be literal? A literal interpretation would be in violation of Principle #1. The Hebrew word Yohm (?) (day) can mean an indefinitely long time as in Psalms 90:4 or 2Peter 3:8. To interpret the creative days as literal 24 hour period would result in absurdity since the earth is millions and millions of years old. Literally interpreting day in Genesis, chapter 1, would be akin to literally interpreting Jesus words to cut-off ones arms if they make you sin. B. 2 Samuel 24:9 gives the total population for Israel as 800,000, whereas 1 Chronicles 21:5 says it was 1,100,000. Contradiction in numbers? An author1 explains: There are a number of ways to understand not only this problem but the next challenge as well, since they both refer to the same passages and to the same census. It is possible that the differences between the two accounts are related to the unofficial and incomplete nature of the census or that the book of Samuel presents rounded numbers, particularly for Judah. The more likely answer, however, is that one census includes categories of men that the other excludes. It is quite conceivable that the 1 Chronicles 21:5 figure included all the available men of fighting age, whether battle-seasoned or not, whereas the 2 Samuel 24:9 account is speaking only of those who were ready for battle. Joab's report in 2 Samuel 24 uses the word 'is hayil, which is translated as "mighty men", or battle-seasoned troops, and refers to them numbering 800,000 veterans. It is reasonable that there were an additional 300,000 men of military age kept in the reserves, but not yet involved in field combat. The two groups would therefore make up the 1,100,000 men in the 1 Chronicles 21 account which does not employ the Hebrew term 'is hayil to describe them. In short, apply principle #2 (Writers intention), or apply principle #3 (harmonize) to solve the pretend contradiction. C2. Where did Cain get his wife? (Genesis 4:17)? Principle #3look for harmony instead of contradictionwould apply in this case. One might think that after the murder of Abel, only his guilty brother Cain and their parents, Adam and Eve, were left on the earth. However, Adam and Eve had a large family. According to Genesis 5:3, 4, Adam had a son named Seth. The account adds: The days of Adam after his fathering Seth came to be eight hundred years. Meanwhile he became father to sons and daughters. So Cain married his sister or perhaps one of his nieces. Since mankind was then so close to human perfection, such a marriage evidently did not pose the health risks that may imperil the offspring of such a union today.

1 2

Archer, Gleason, L., Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, 1994 Revised Edition, 1982, Most of the explanations for items C to H were taken from a Watch Tower Magazine

D. Who sold Joseph into EgyptIsmaelites or Midianites? Principle #3 also applies. Genesis 37:27 says that Josephs brothers decided to sell him to some Ishmaelites. But the next verse states: Now men, Midianite merchants, went passing by. Hence they [Josephs brothers] drew and lifted up Joseph out of the water pit and then sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty silver pieces. Eventually these brought Joseph into Egypt. Was Joseph sold to Ishmaelites or to Midianites? Well, the Midianites may also have been called Ishmaelites, to whom they were related through their forefather Abraham. Or Midianite merchants may have been traveling with an Ishmaelite caravan. At any rate, Josephs brothers did the selling, and later he could tell them: I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.Genesis 45:4. E. How many Israelites died for having immoral relations with Moabite women and for engaging in the worship of the Baal of Peor? Again, principle #3 applies. Numbers 25:9 states: Those who died from the scourge [from God for their wicked conduct] amounted to twenty-four thousand. However, the apostle Paul said: Neither let us practice fornication, as some of them [Israelites in the wilderness] committed fornication, only to fall, twentythree thousand of them in one day. (1 Corinthians 10:8) Perhaps the number slain was between 23,000 and 24,000, so that either figure would be satisfactory. Yet, the book of Numbers especially indicates that all the head ones of the people involved in this sin were killed by judges. (Numbers 25:4, 5) There may have been 1,000 of these guilty head ones, making a total of 24,000 when added to the 23,000 mentioned by Paul. Whereas apparently 23,000 were direct victims of the scourge from God, all 24,000 experienced Jehovahs scourge because every one of them died under his decree of adverse judgment. Deuteronomy 4:3 F. From how many men did Jesus Christ expel the demons who took possession of a large herd of swine? The Gospel writer Matthew mentions two men, but Mark and Luke refer to just one. (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:2; Luke 8:27) There were two men cured by Jesus. The intention of Mark and Lukeprinciple #2was to draw attention to only one demon-possessed man because Jesus spoke to him and his case was more outstanding. Possibly, that man was more violent or had suffered under demon control for a longer time. On the other hand, Matthews intentionPrinciple #2 was to highlight the fact that Jesus cured two. G. What color was the garment Jesus wore on the day of his death? According to Mark (15:17) and John (19:2), the soldiers put a purple garment on Jesus. But Matthew (27:28) called it a scarlet cloak, emphasizing its redness. Since purple is any color having components of both red and blue, Mark and John agree that the cloak had a red hue.

Either Principle # 2 (writers intention) or Principle # 3 ( look for harmony) would apply in this case. Light reflection and background could have given different casts to the garment, and the Gospel writers mentioned the color that was strongest to them or to those from whom they got their information. The minor variation shows the individuality of the writers and proves that there was no collusion. H. How did Judas Iscariot die? Matthew 27:5 states that Judas hanged himself, whereas Acts 1:18 says that pitching head foremost he noisily burst in his midst and all his intestines were poured out. (NWT) The intentions of Matthew and Luke, the writer of Acts were differenthence Principle #2 applies. While Matthew seems to deal with the mode of the attempted suicide, Acts describes the results. Judas apparently tied a rope to the branch of a tree, put a noose around his neck, and tried to hang himself by jumping off a cliff. It seems that either the rope or the tree limb broke so that he plunged downward and burst open on the rocks below. The topography around Jerusalem makes such a conclusion reasonable. How Will You View Matters? If we encounter seeming discrepanciespretend contradictions-- in the Bible, it is good to realize that people often say things that appear contradictory but are easily explained or understood. For instance, a businessman may correspond with someone by dictating a letter to his secretary. If questioned, he would say that he sent the letter. But since his secretary typed and mailed the letter, she could say that she sent it. Similarly, it was not contradictory for Matthew (8:5) to say that an army officer came to ask Jesus a favor, whereas Luke (7:2, 3) said that the man sent representatives. The foregoing examples show that Bible difficulties can be resolved. Hence, there is good reason to have a positive attitude toward the Scriptures.