Although the Bible is a perfectly harmonies easy to understand book, it does have some difficult passages. There are sometimes differences among Bible passages, but a difference is not the same thing as a contradiction. The Greek philosopher Aristotle defined contradiction: that the same thing should at the same time both be and not be for the same person and in the same respect is impossible. Therefore, a difference would not be a contradiction if the same person was not under consideration, or if the same time period was not used for both, or if the language was not employed in the same sense.
The apparent scriptural differences are because the Bible:
- was written by approximately 40 different authors
- over a period of around 1500 years,
- in different languages,
- with different styles,
- from different perspectives,
- to different audiences,
- and for different purposes.
So, Bible discrepancies are simply due to issues of translation and context. There are phrases that have been taken out of context, poetic passages taken hyper-literally, sweeping generalizations or figures of speech not taken as such. And Some alleged contradictions are nothing more than a translational or manuscript issue where the original text contains no such contradiction.
While God is a perfect God (Matthew 5:48), He had to employ imperfect humans with imperfect languages to give His messages to the world. Therefore, in dealing with so-called “contradictions” in the Bible, let these principles carefully be remembered:
- No contradiction exists between verses that refer to different persons or things.
- No contradiction exists between passages that involve different time elements.
- No contradiction exists between verses that employ phraseology in different senses.
- Supplementation is not the same as contradiction.
- One need show only the possibility of harmonization between two passage that appear to conflict in order to negate the force of an alleged discrepancy.
- The differences in various Bible accounts of the same events actually demonstrate the independence of the divine writers and prove that they were not in collusion!
“God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33). So, if you come across a difficult passage, take some time to prayerfully research the passage to find the answers. And the Lord has promised that He will lead the seekers to all the truth (John 16:13).
In His service,
This post is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)