Bible Contradictions from www.Atheist.org
a Response from Pastor Jeremiah Holcombe
What follows are fifteen responses to fifteen contradictions in the Bible as presented by the atheist website, atheist.org. The original resource page is, https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/biblical-contradictions/.
My desire in this response to accurately respond to the presented contradictions in a concise, clear, and biblical way. If you have questions, please email me at email@example.com, or give me a call at 928-916-9571, or simply talk with me. I pray that you will be blessed through this.
On a side note, I have tried my best to correct my spelling and grammar, but I’m sure there were things that slipped by me. I have not on the other hand tried to correct the grammar or the spelling of the atheist website and instead opted to copy and paste it directly form the site. I have structured this paper with the title of the proposed contradiction, the copied atheist information and then my response.
1) The Sabbath Day
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” — Exodus 20:8
“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” — Romans 14:5
The implication of putting these two verse next to each other is to say, how can God make the Sabbath more important, when Paul is saying that no day is more important than the other.
This is a common practice of not only non-Christians, but of Christians too. We try proof texting the Bible, instead of reading the context of the passage. In Romans 14:5, Paul is dealing with people who are judging each other in Christian practice. The Jewish Christians were saying that people had to worship on Saturday the seventh day of the week, whereas the Gentile Christians began worshiping on Sunday the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Paul is actually referring back to a teaching of Jesus in Mark chapter 2 verse 23 to chapter 3 verse 6, where Jesus tells us what the Sabbath is. The Sabbath is not a specific day to be tied to, but rather a time God set aside for people to worship him and be refreshed.
In Exodus 20:8 were not told that Saturday is the Sabbath, but rather it says in context of the very next verse, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.”
Did you catch that, you work six days, then the seventh day is the Sabbath. So if you work Monday through Saturday, Sunday is an acceptable day. If you work Sunday through Friday, Saturday is an acceptable Sabbath day. Paul is not saying that we should have a Sabbath and therefore not elevate it above any other day, but rather, not to elevate any other day above one thinking that you can only have a Sabbath on a particular day.
Context is king when we’re trying to understand seemingly contradictory passages in the Bible, and as we saw here, when we look at the context of each passage, we can see their in harmony, and not contradictory.
2) The Permanence of Earth
“… the earth abideth for ever.” — Ecclesiastes 1:4
“… the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” — 2Peter 3:10
To begin, Ecclesiastes is one of those books, where if you try to pick out individual verses and make a theological frame work around said verses, you’re most likely going to miss the point. Case in point, by only quoting the last five words of the Ecclesiastes 1:4, we miss the context in what the earth is being compared to. The full verse reads, “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” By reading the verse in it’s entirety we can see that it is talking about the cycle of humanity and death, whereas the earth remains.
Second, at the beginning of the book of Ecclesiastes, the writers literally says, “2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” or as a more modern translation puts it, “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’” In other words, the man writing is wiring in lament, meaning he is looking at the world around him as if he has been defeated. In philosophical terms, he is showing more of a nihilistic worldview, than a biblical worldview.
Finally, the Hebrew word, “olam” (o-lawn) doesn’t literally mean infinte. Rather, what it means is a long duration of time. In the modern vernacular, we use this same idea when teenagers say, “It’s been like, forever.” (Did you just read that in a valley girl voice?) The teenager doesn’t literally mean forever, but rather it’s been a long time.
Therefore when Peter in his second letter says, that the earth shall be burned up, he is not contradicting Ecclesiastes 1:4, because there is nothing to contradict.
3) Seeing God
“… I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” — Genesis 32:30
“No man hath seen God at any time…”– John 1:18
John’s words in the opening of his Gospel of Jesus’ life, are very pointed in communicating that Jesus isn’t just some other man, but in fact God himself. The whole verse of John 1:18 reads, “ No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” John believes, and wants to believe that Jesus is no mere man, but God himself.
But if no one has ever seen God, except God the Son, how then can Jacob in Genesis 32:30 write that he saw him face to face? And not only Jacob, but Moses had several mentions of seeing God face to face (Exodus 33:4; Numbers 12:8 & 14:14; Deuteronomy 34:10), and the same goes with Gideon (Judges 6:22).
Now in our modern world, we have things like FaceTime, which is an Apple program where two people can communicate with each other through video chat. The idea of a face to face meeting means that both of you are able to see each other. The problem with interpreting passages of the Bible, is that we tend to interpret them through the lens of our own world, instead of allowing the world in which it was written in to clarify it’s meaning.
The simple answer here is, phrase face to face, did not mean physical sight, but rather a personal relationship. In her article on this very subject, Mary Fairchild writes, “In this verse (speaking of Exodus 33:4), ‘face to face’ is a figure of speech, a descriptive phrase that is not to be taken literally. It cannot be, for God does not have a face. Instead, it means that God and Moses shared a deep friendship. (https://www.learnreligions.com/face-of-god-bible-4169506)”
When we are allow the context of the world that the Bible was written in interpret the passages first, then we can better understand and implement the words of Scripture into our own lives.
4) Human Sacrifice
“… Thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God…” — Leviticus 18:21
[In Judges, though, the tale of Jephthah, who led the Israelites against the Ammonoites, is being told. Being fearful of defeat, this good religious man sought to guarantee victory by getting god firmly on his side. So he prayed to god] “… If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering” — Judges 11:30-31
[The terms were acceptable to god — remember, he is supposed to be omniscient and know the future — so he gave victory to Jephthah, and the first whatsoever that greeted him upon his glorious return was his daughter, as god surely knew would happen, if god is god. True to his vow, the general made a human sacrifice of his only child to god!] — Judges 11:29-34
The first passage from Leviticus 18:21 deals with God’s desire that the Israelite people not sacrifice their children as the Canaanite people were doing. It was a horrible practice where a large statue of a human boar hybrid with a furnace in it’s belly would be lit. Then on the outstretched arms of the statue, children would be placed and burned alive. God didn’t want child sacrifice.
The second passage from Joshua 11:30-31, seems to go against this idea of no child sacrifice, because Jephthah ends up sacrificing his daughter to win a battle.
Here’s the problem with the passage, the language of the passage in Judges is unclear. With some putting forth that he didn’t sacrifice her, but because of the emphasis on her being a virgin later on in the passage, that what actually happen was that he dedicated her to the service of the Lord where she would be unable to marry.
But let’s say, that Jephthah did kill his daughter and sacrificed her to God after the battle was won. There are problems with that too, first the Spirit of God descending on Jephthah at the beginning of the passage in verse 29 is contrasted with his vow in verse 30 & 31. We know of Jephthah’s backstory, that he had non-Jewish roots. A vow like this is more pagan than Jewish. And nowhere in the passage do we a confirmation that it was because of the vow that the victory was won.
Instead, the passage seems to indicate that God had already secured the victory because he had given Jephthah his Spirit. But Jephthah wanted to secure it himself and offered a sacrifice. But this was him speaking hastily and out of ignorance. Therefore Jephthah’s joy in winning the battle, is broken with his sorrow at his own hasty vow.
This passage makes Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 really cut deep, “33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (33-37)”
Jephthah’s vow was evil, because he was trying to win the victory on his own terms and it cost him his daughter.
5) The Power of God
“… with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:26
“…The LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” — Judges 1:19
When Jesus spoke the words, “with God all things are possible,” the context we are given is dealing with a person’s eternal destination. Jesus was responding to the disciples question, “Who then can be saved?(v.25)” This question came because Jesus told the disciples, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (v.24)” In other words, it is possible for God to bring even a rich person into his kingdom.
By comparing this discussion about eternal life, with that of a physical battle we see context of both passages ripped away. In the case for Judges 1:19, the context tells us that the tribe of Judah, one of the twelve of Israel, was battling all over their region. Victory after victory was won. When we come to verse 19, we’re told that again Judah was able to achieve overall victory. But there were some of Judah’s enemies who remained, this is because they had more advanced weapons.
Does this point to God not being powerful enough? No, God gave the people of Judah the victory, and they had conquered the land. Yet in other places in Scripture, like in the very next chapter (2:20-21), the people of Israel were breaking the commands and covenant with God.
God is powerful, yet he works with us to bring about victory, and will not be a participating force in something that is not in his will.
6) Personal Injury
“…thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. ” — Exodus 21:23-25
“…ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” — Matthew 5:39
When comparing the Old Testament to the New Testament one of the most common missteps in interpretation is taking each out of it’s context. The whole of the Bible is written as a pathway. Creation to Fall, Fall to Plan, Plan to Israel, Israel to Messiah, Messiah to Return. The path from the opening pages of Genesis culminates in Jesus’ arrival, death and resurrection and then finally his return at the end.
In God’s dealing with Israel, they were to be a special people separated for God’s work (Exodus 19:6). A par to this separation was a theocratic government that was to be set up. In the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, we are given that governmental structure. One of these laws was that of Exodus 21:23-25. In ancient times and in vernal human nature, when someone was wronged, they not only received what was stolen, they also received compensation. We see this in places like Arabia, where a thief lost their hand in compensation for their crime. Yet, God called his people to not compound punishment, but rather have the punishment equal to the crime.
When the work of God moves to Messiah, Jesus speaks the words of Matthew 5:39, calling the people, not into a government system, but rather into individual responses. On an individual level, we are to overcome evil with good, so personal injury needs to take a back seat to seeking goodness.
As we see God moving the Israelite people away from seeking vengeance in their judicial law, we see God move his people away from vengeance even further through Jesus.
“This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.” — Genesis 17:10
“…if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” — Galatians 5:2
Many people miss what a covenant is. If we skip over what a covenant, then we miss the intention of what follows. A covenant is a legal agreement between two parties. In the case of the covenant between Abraham and God, and then later God and Israel, a sign of this legal agreement was the physical act of circumcision. Even though the physical act of circumcision was used, the covenant between God and Abraham was different than that of the covenant of God and Israel.
The Abrahamic covenant had as it’s goal the building of a nation, through both many descendants and with land. This covenant is fulfilled by God in the time of Joshua.
The Sinai covenant had as it’s goal the people of Israel being a separate people group who conducted their nation by the leading of God.
When we come to the New Testament we actually see a God make a new covenant. This covenant is not made to be physical, with descendants or nations, but with the individual. The physical sign is not a mark on the body, but rather a mark on the life.
So when Paul speaks in Galatians 5:2, he is saying that a physical circumcision does you no good, but rather it is the inward circumcision of the heart and the life application of such.
“Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of this mother…” — Deuteronomy 27:22
“And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter…it is a wicked thing….” — Leviticus 20:17
[But what was god’s reaction to Abraham, who married his sister — his father’s daughter?] See Genesis 20:11-12
“And God said unto Abraham, As for Sara thy wife…I bless her, and give thee a son also of her…” — Genesis 17:15-16
In the Mosaic Law, the Bible is very clear on who not to have intercourse with. The terms used form the above passages are “lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.” That’s very specific. In modern language we would say, a biological sibling. Because this is so clear we do not need to go any further.
But the question is, is this the same relationship that Abraham had with his wife Sara? The answer is yes, Sara is Abraham’s half-sister. So doesn’t this mean that incest is okay with God?
Here’s the problem, Abraham and Sara are married before God called Abraham to follow him (Genesis 12). God did not resolve this marriage, why? Could it be that they made a marriage covenant and covenants are important? Just because Abraham did something outside of God’s design, does that mean he can no longer use Abraham?
In the passage referenced, Genesis 20:11-12, Abraham also lies, does this mean that God approves, even though in Exodus 20:16, God tells the people that shall not lie?
Here’s the reality, God uses us in our sinful ways, Abraham did a lot wrong, that God had to move him beyond. When giving his law for the people to follow, 400+ years later, God sets forth what he expects form his people. When God made a covenant with Abraham, he agreed to be his God even with all the baggage that came with it.
This is an encouragement to us that even with all the sin we’ve committed, God will work with us to bring us to him.
9) Trusting God
“A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD…” — Proverbs 12:2
Now consider the case of Job. After commissioning Satan to ruin Job financially and to slaughter his shepherds and children to win a petty bet with Satan. God asked Satan: “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” — Job 2:3
Comparing these two passages misses the point of the book of Job. In the opening pages of Job we learn of a meeting between God and Satan. (There’s not enough time to go into the theological ramifications of this part). In this meeting Satan has roamed the world, and God brings up “my servant Job.” Satan responds that he only follows God because God gives him everything, to which God says, “all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.”
So all of Job’s family and finances are taken away, yet Job continues to follow God. Then we are told in the second chapter that again Satan arrives and God references Job. This time Satan responds with, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” Making the argument that people only follow until their own lives are on the line.
God then allows Satan to do whatever he wants just shy of killing Job. We then spend the next forty chapters hearing Job and his friends go back and forth of why bad things have occurred to Job. Job don’t understand because as far as he’s concerned he’s done nothing wrong; whereas his friends say there must be something he did.
We as the audience know that it’s not Job’s fault.
Why would God do this? Is it so we would trust him, or could it be that the whole book of Job is to attack the ancient idea that if you have wealth and prosperity then you are blessed by God, and if you don’t that means you have sinned? The reality is, Job’s story is to relay several theological points: First, bad things happen that are out of control, and yes we need to trust God. Second, we can question our circumstances and bring our griefs to God. Third, God is not checked out in the process and knows exactly what’s going on. Fourth, There is a reason behind everything, we just might not know it. Fifth, just because you are wealthy or poor is not a reflection on your situation with God. Finally, God isn’t going to give us more than we can endure.
God’s interaction with Satan and Job isn’t petty, but rather given to us so that when we enter into the harsh times of life, we can trust that there is a God who is in control.
10) The Holy Lifestyle
“Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart…” — Ecclesiastes 9:7
“…they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not…” — 1 Corinthians 7:30
To tell you the truth, with just two out of context verses, it’s hard to understand what is actually being said here. So what follows is my interpretation of what point the website is trying to make.
In Ecclesiastes 9 the writer, the writer is musing about death and how it awaits us all. To him, the end result for the righteous and the wicked is the same, the grave. So the writer tells us that we need to go and enjoy this life. The rest of verse 7 that is left off says, “for God now accepteth thy works.”
If we simply leave the book in chapter 9, we might walk away from it with the understanding that we should embrace this life and as verse 9 says, “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.”
But the book doesn’t end in chapter 9 and it’s conclusions, but rather in chapter 12:13-14, “13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
At the end of Ecclesiastes, the writer calls us to following God, because there will be a judgment at the end. This fits perfectly with what is said in the New Testament book Hebrews, where in chapter 9 verse 27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”
Now as for 1st Corinthians 7:30, it actually calls us to the same idea. Is it saying that we shouldn’t rejoice? No, because then in chapter 12 verse 26, the call to rejoice would be inconstant. Rather the point of the passage begins with marriage, and whether a person should get married. Paul’s stance is the ministry is more important than marriage, but he doesn’t condemn it either. Rather, when we get to verse 30, the book ends of verse 29 and the end of verse 31 are important. Verse 29 reads, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short…” Whereas verse 31 reads, “And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”
Paul’s whole emphasis is that we would be working for the kingdom and not concern ourselves with the pleasure of the world.
Now why would this atheist website use these verses when talking about a holy lifestyle? I couldn’t tell you. Ecclesiastes is ultimately calling us to that lifestyle, and so is 1st Corinthians.
What I believe the point in using these two verses is the focus on “rejoice”. In the Ecclesiastes verse it says to merriment, while in the 1st Corinthians verse it says “rejoiced not”. I do not believe that this was thought through when it was put together.
The Bible is perfectly consistent in calling followers of God to a Holy lifestyle, and these two passages do nothing to contradict that.
11) Punishing Crime
“The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father…” — Ezekiel 18:20
“I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation…” — Exodus 20:5
When trying to understand the Bible, it is best to read it in the order of it’s revelation. First and foremost, Exodus come before Ezekiel, and so, when we seek to interpret the passages we need to read them in order. Not, as we see from the atheist website, where the more recent revelation is given first.
Why is this important? Because of the following: God speaks and says, “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation…” The emphasis that the website is putting on here is where is God visits iniquity of the fathers on the children three and four generations away.
And this is true, but the question arises, if the father sinned and the children do not, will they still be judged for the father’s sin?
Fast forward several hundred years to the time of Ezekiel and we get that very theological answer. God is responding specifically to a proverb that is going around Israel. 18:1-2, “The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying, 2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?”
The meaning of the proverb is an attack on the justice of God. The Israelites were saying that God is not fulfilling his side of his covenant and justice isn’t being served.
God responds by saying that, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.(v.4)” For the next chapter, God speaks in detail about the righteous father and the wicked son, and the wicked father and righteous son.
God lets us know that if the father is wicked, yet the son sees that and decides not to follow his fathers footsteps, and instead chooses righteousness, then the sins of the father will not be on the son (v.14ff).
So, Scripture interprets Scripture. God will judge those generations that continue in the sins of the father (Exodus 20:5), but for the generation that sees the wickedness and turns from it, God will not continue the judgement (Ezekiel 18:20). Reading the Bible as a whole, and not cherry picking passages is what we need to fully understand what is being talked about within it’s pages.
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” — James 1:13
“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham…” — Genesis 22:1
These are obviously contradictory, because in the Genesis passage it clearly states that God tempted Abraham, but in the James passage, it says God cannot tempt.
But here’s the thing, the website is purposefully using the King James Version of the Bible. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, and I’m not going to condemn anyone that uses that version of the Bible. In fact if you want to memorize the Bible, the King James is probably the best one to memorize, because it is so poetic. But the problem with the King James is that is was translated just over 400 years ago. The English language has changed, and so a more modern English translation for our vernacular should be used when discussing contradictions.
Case in point, if you take the top four English translations, New International, New American Standard, English Standard, and even the New King James version, every single one of the them translates Genesis 22:1 not as tempted Abraham, but rather tested him.
But what if they’re lying to try and cover up a contradiction? Well, what does the Hebrew say? Well the Hebrew word is “nasah” (nawsaw), which means to get or try someone. In other words, the modern translations correctly translate the word tested, because back when the King James version was translated, they understood the difference, but since language changes over time, we need more precise words to help us understand the meanings of words.
But what’s the difference between a testing of God and a temptation? Simply, God tests us to build us up in the faith, whereas the enemies of God tempt us to break relationship with him. Can we be tested and tempted at the same time? Yes, Joshua himself said of his brothers selling him into slavery said in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” And the reverse is true as well.
13) Family Relationships
“Honor thy father and thy mother…”– Exodus 20:12
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. ” — Luke 14:26
The Exodus passage is pretty straight forward in it’s emphasis, respect for parents. In fact the whole of the verse emphasizes that to have a good life, a person must honor their parents. But one of the things that is missed when quoting this verse out of context and comparing it to a verse like Luke 14:26, is the fact that this verse follows: a command on having no other gods before the God of Israel, no idols, honoring God’s name, and setting aside a day for communion with God.
Five commands about following God and putting him before everything else come before honoring parents. So with that understanding we can now see that Jesus’ words in Luke 14:26 make sense. Especially when we understand that the Greek word “miseó” (mis-eh’-o), that we translate as hate, has the additional meaning of “love less” or “esteem less”. Just as the command to honor our parents comes after a greater emphasis on honoring God, so to must our devotion to everything in this world come after our devotion to God.
This is a consistent teaching from Exodus 20 all the way to Luke 14.
14) Resurrection of the Dead
“…he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. ” — Job 7:9
“…the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth….” — John 5:28-29
When reading the book of Job, we must first understand that Job’s words are from a distressed and grieving man. He is struggling with his world that has crashed all around him and he is using what he can observation about the world to help him cope. When we come to chapter 7, Job begins to speak about life, saying things like, “My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope. (v.6)”, and “O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good.”
And later in the chapter, Job admits that what he is saying is in anguish, “Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
So we have to watch how we interpret this grieving and distressed man’s words. In verse 9, Job is looking at death as the end, there is no hope afterward.
This is why Jesus’ words of John 5 are so important. Job sees death and it’s the end, like so many people today, but to God death is nothing. In fact, on one occasion Jesus called death sleep (Mark 5:41).
Job is a reflection of us when we are down with no hope, but what Job did right, was he continued to go back to God and when God speaks in the end, Job says, “Then Job answered the Lord, and said, 2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.”
In the end, Job trusts God, because on in him is there hope. Not just for this life, but for the life to come.
15) The End of the World
“Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. ” — Matthew 16:28
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. ” — Luke 21:32-33
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” — Romans 13:11-12
“Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” — James 5:8
“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” — 1 John 2:18
“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” — 1 Peter 4:7
These words were written between 1800 and 1900 years ago and were meant to warn and prepare the first Christians for the immediate end of the world. Some words are those supposedly straight out of the mouth of the “Son of God.” The world did not end 1800 or 1900 years ago. All that generation passed away without any of the things foretold coming to pass. No amount of prayer brought it about; nor ever so much patience and belief and sober living. The world went on, as usual, indifferent to the spoutings of yet another batch of doomsday prophets with visions of messiahs dancing in their deluded brains. The world, by surviving, makes the above passages contradictions.
Out of all of the topics presented so far, this is the most detailed. Whereas the ones before it simply gave verses and perhaps a brief commentary, this final one is where the it seems the author wants to be the most vocal. Except this is not a supposed contradiction within the Bible as were the previous topics.
No, this has to do with fulfilled prophecy, and when dealing with prophecy, we have to take a step back and analyze the word usage given. But before we get into that, I want to emphasize that this is not a biblical contradiction in the same vein as the rest of the discussion thus far. So in reality, we have been given fourteen topics on supposed contradictions and one topic on fulfilled/unfulfilled prophecy.
With that understanding out of the way, let us begin to analyze and understand the verses given.
The first two verses given are both from Jesus, which I appreciate, because the verses following would his disciples’ interpretation of his words.
In Matthew 16 four things happen: first, Jesus is asked to give a miraculous sign, which he says will be the sign of Jonah. This references Jonah’s three days in the belly of the fish and then spit up on shore, which parallels Jesus’ three days in the grave and resurrection. Second, Jesus tells his disciples to not be like those who desired miraculous signs over Jesus himself. Third, Peter confesses that Jesus is the awaited Messiah of Israel and Jesus says that on that understanding the Church will be built. And finally, Jesus predicts his death, to which Peter rebukes him, and Jesus tells him that for people to gain life, Jesus must die and be resurrected.
It is in this context that Jesus says starting in verse 27, “ For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
There are three interpretations here, the one the atheist website is putting forth, one that links what happens follows this, and the one that I will put forth.
The first one is simply that Jesus is talking about when he returns in his second coming. I do not believe this interpretation is true because of Jesus’ talk about those standing there seeing Jesus in his kingdom.
The second is Jesus is talking about the transfiguration that happens right after this. I do not believe this to be the case, because Jesus’ talk about angels.
I believe that a third interpretation covers both objects that I have raised with the previous two. Jesus is speaking of his resurrection. This incorporates Jesus’ words about how some of the disciples would be seeing it (we know Judas did not). This also incorporates the angles, who are seen at both his gravesite (Matt. 28:5) and when he is taken into heaven (Acts 1:10-11). This would also be in keeping with Jesus’ words about his kingdom not being of this world, but of the spirit (John 18:36). Instead, Jesus’ kingdom begins with the Church and has it’s fulfillment in his second coming.
Moving on to Luke 21:32-33, we find a parallel passage in Matthew 24. In both passages, Jesus is asked when will the temple be destroyed and the end will come. In both passages, Jesus gives a list of events that will happen. In verse 21-24, were told that Jerusalem will be surrounded and trampled upon. This happened in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. Then we are told at the end of verse 24 that Gentiles will continue to trample on it until the time has been fulfilled.
With that, everything afterward comes after AD 70. That is when we are told that at some future date, all sorts of things will begin to happen and then the end will come. When we arrive at verse 32, and the words, “…this generation…”, Jesus is not talking abbot the generation of the first disciples, but of those who have seen all that he has just said that occurs after AD 70. Which, we are still in the time of the Gentiles from verse 24.
The verses from Romans 13:11-12, James 5:8, 1 John 2:18, and 1 Peter 4:7 would all be keeping with Jesus’ final words in Luke 21:34-36, “34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
Jesus’ disciples did not know when any of this would come. Would the time of the Gentiles be a tomorrow and then be there for a year, or would it be a hundred years from now? They didn’t know, so they were prepared as Jesus told them they should be for it to happen at any moment. And we should be too. We could go further into the times that have happened and if you would like to do just that, a link to my blog where I delve a little deeper in this issues.
Each of us needs to be prepared for the day of Jesus’ return. True is has not yet occurred, but what we are seeing in our world today, points to us moving closer to the day when the Savior of the world will come, and on that day there will be both great rejoicing and great sorrow.
In my own conclusion, if you struggle with contradictions in the Bible, I would implore you to begin by simply reading it in it’s context. The majority of what we’ve covered today is simple context reading. To both Christians and non-Christian, do not base what you believe on one verse, but rather the whole of the Word of God together. I have found that it is more cohesive and deeper than anything else. I pray that this has blessed you, with both information, and a greater understanding of the harmony of the Bible.