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Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17 (NASB)

The Bible is a big, complex and deeply misunderstood book.

Written over 1,500 years

40 authors

3 languages

Add to that many different translations over the last thousand years that have in some cases resulted in certain Scriptures receiving poor and confused translations. What is our position? We confidently proclaim the Bible is the inspired and harmonious word of God! Using eleven principles, we seek to answer various “problems” that may confuse both believers and skeptics about seemingly contradictory scriptures and concepts.

Want to listen to our full series where we address more contradictions? Listen here:

Are there apparent biblical contradictions you would like addressed in a future podcast episode?


Contradictions can occur due to human error.

Human errors in the translation process are usually small things. Fortunately, we have context and repetition to help us find the answer, which is how we can understand the answer to the question:

Did David or Elhanan kill Goliath?

Listen at 5:33 for the answer.

Compare 1 Samuel 17:50 and 2 Samuel 21:18-19

Different Scriptures often reveal different parts of a story.

It is important to observe how the harmony of various details actually fit together.

When two Scriptures seem to say something happened differently, we need to look for the connecting clues. Here is an example of how to connect those clues together:

How did Judas die?

Listen at 16:51 for the answer.

Compare Matthew 27:3-5 and Acts 1:15-20

Clarity of context

An understanding of words within that context are absolutely necessary to be able to determine what is meant in Scripture.

In the English language, a word can have vastly different meanings which can only be determined by its context. The Bible is no different. This can help us to understand how you might answer a question such as:

Does God promote or accept human sacrifice?

Listen at 5:43 for the answer.

Compare Jeremiah 7:30-31 and Genesis 22:1-2

The Bible is to be understood in the context of ages and dispensations.

All Scripture does not apply to all people at all times.

It is important to know when a Scripture is applicable because God dealt with humanity differently at different points in time. With this in mind, we can understand the following question:

Is the Sabbath to be kept or not?

Listen at 44:57 for the answer.

Compare Exodus 16:22-23 and Galatians 3:24-27

Deduce when a flashback is being used as a literary device.

In literature, a flashback is an occurrence in which a character remembers an earlier event that happened before the current point of the story. It fills in some details so we understand how they got where they are. This method helps us understand how to correctly place events in order to see God’s true and unfailing character in a question such as:

Is God a God of order or confusion?

Listen at 10:46 for the answer.

Compare 1 Corinthians 114:33 and Genesis 11:1-4

God uses various tools to accomplish His plan.

At times, it can seem as though God is “encouraging” His people to make sinful choices; however, based on our understanding of God’s character we know that is not possible. Instead, we must look more deeply to see how God uses people and choices of His people to serve His plan. This can be seen in answering a question such as:

Does God prohibit graven images, or does He only allow certain ones that He likes?

Listen at 38:07 for the answer.

Compare Exodus 20:3-6 and Deuteronomy 12:3

Distinguish between temporary emotion and eternal purpose.

We have to look at the larger, eternal purpose of God’s entire plan and not just what is happening to ME (or a particular person) right now. This can be seen in a question such as:

Does God forsake (abandon) His children?

Listen at 1:11:00 for the answer.

Compare Psalms 145:7-10 and Matthew 27:45-46

Always seek the larger context beyond any single account.

Remember various perspectives enhance true understanding.

The more eyewitnesses to an account, the better picture we will get when we put the accounts together. This allows us to see the bigger picture. This happens frequently when looking at the various gospel accounts and is shown in the answer to this question:

Who were the first visitors to Jesus’ tomb?

Listen at 8:27 for the answer.

Compare Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:10 and John 20:1

Do NOT read what is NOT there. DO read what IS there.

Multiple witnesses give us multiple perspectives. By observing the language used in any event, we can more easily find true meaning. This helps us to answer a question such as:

On which day did God create the sun?

Listen at 7:53 for the answer.

Compare Genesis 1:3-4 and Genesis 1:14

When two related accounts seem contradictory, find the connections, details and differences that reveal the harmony.

This requires digging deeply and reviewing evidence from an appropriate viewpoint. If we are committed to truth we will look for it without an agenda. This perspective helps us answer a challenging question such as:

Was Adam created before or after the birds, animals, trees and plants?

Listen at 32:03 for the answer.

Compare Genesis 1:11,27 and Genesis 2:5,7-9

Allow ancient words to have various shades of meaning the way we allow such variety in our word usage.

Much like language today, the meaning of a word can change depending on its context. Because we are dealing with ancient languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, we must look carefully at the context to find out what is intended. This principle can be seen in the answer to this question:

Why was Jesus named “Jesus” instead of “Immanuel”?

Listen at 7:47 for the answer.

Compare Isaiah 7:13-14 and Matthew 1:21-23