Did Adam die the same day he ate of the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:17) or continue to live to the age of 930 years (Gen. 5:5)?
Both! The Bible uses the word death in 4 ways: physical death, spiritual death, eternal death, and figure of speech death. So, Adam died spiritually in Gen. 2:17, and later he died physically in Gen. 5:5.
So, how are each of these deaths defined or described?
Physical death is the biological end of life, the end of human physical existence, the end of human life on this earth, as exemplified in Deut. 21:22-23; Gen. 25:8 ( 20 p. 408; 25 OT, p. 90; 12 p. 26). It’s the separation of the soul and/or spirit from the material body, as exemplified in Acts 7:59-60; Lk. 23:46; Gen. 35:18 (5 p. 72; 25 NT, p. 268).
Spiritual death is the separation of man from (an intimate relationship with) God caused by sin, as seen in Eph. 2:1; 1 Tim. 5:6; Rom. 6:23; 5:12; 1 Pet. 2:24 & 2 Cor. 5:21 with Matt. 27:46 (5 pp. 72, 73; 7 vol. 1, p. 128; 20 p. 409; 25 NT, p. 268).
Eternal death (sometimes called the second death) is the eternal separation of men from (an intimate relation with) God, which includes eternal punishment in the lake of fire/hell, and is caused by never-dealt-with sin. See Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14; 21:8; 14:10-11; Matt. 13:41-42; 23:29-33; 25:41, 46; 2 Thes. 1:6, 9 (5 p. 73; 20 p. 409; 22 p. 302).
Figure of speech death has various meanings. For example, in Lk. 15:24, dead means lost and separated. In Gal. 2:19, died means set free from bondage and obligation to. In Col. 2:20, died means figuratively died by way of identification with Christ for those who believe in Him. In Rom. 6:2, died to sin means separated from sin’s power.
So, Adam died spiritually in Gen. 2:17, as seen by his trying to hide from God in Gen. 3:8, and by his being expelled from the Garden of Eden in Gen. 3:23-24. Then Adam died physically in Gen. 5:5 at the age of 930.
Did God decide that the life-span of humans would be limited to 120 years (Gen. 6:3) or longer (Gen. 11:12-16)?
First, Gen. 6:3 does not state that the life-span of humans would be 120 years. It says, “Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless, his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’” The meaning is that God’s Spirit won’t always judge (Heb. yadhon) or aim to correct and check or work to reprove and restrain man’s strong propensity toward evil because mankind had sunk to the level of “flesh” (Heb. baser), meaning morally weak and sinful stock, abandoned to a life of sin, or morally degenerated extremely, incurably corrupt. So, God’s Spirit won’t continue to strive with degenerated mankind to restrain them from their evil ways. And the time limit before the Spirit would cease to strive with mankind, which included Noah preaching righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5), would be 120 years. Then the Flood would come as a judgment. The extent of man’s degeneration is seen in Gen. 6:5-7.
Secondly, the context would support this interpretation. It says that God had been patient with mankind’s evil being and doings for some time (Gen. 6:2-7) and that He would continue to be patient with them (1 Pet. 3:20) for another 120 years (Gen. 6:3) until the judgment by the Flood. So, Gen. 6:3 has nothing to do with the length of man’s life-span. (3 p. 22; 4 vol. 1, pp. 30, 31; 7 pp. 254-256; 8 pp. 134-136; 33 p. 30; 12 p. 26).
Does God change His mind (Gen. 6:7; Ex. 32:14; 1 Sam. 15:10-11, 35) or not (1 Sam. 15:29)?
Not really! First, the Hebrew word niham is a word that has several meanings, such as: grieve, regret, change of mind, relent, console, comfort, etc. Second, God is all-knowing (e.g., Isa. 46:9-10; Psa. 147:5; 139:2-4). Since nothing takes God by surprise, He already knew that king Saul would disobey and rebel. Third, God had made it clear through Jacob’s deathbed prophecy, hundreds of years earlier (Gen. 49:8-10), that the tribe of Judah was to supply the permanent royal line for the nation of Israel. And Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin, not Judah, while David was from the tribe of Judah. So, God already knew what He was going to do both to Saul and to David. And fourth, God, through human writers, uses anthropomorphic language in the Bible at times (that is, human characteristics are attributed to God because of how it appears to man, or to try to better understand God, when in reality, they aren’t literally true).
So, in 1 Sam. 15:10-11, 35, the meaning of the Hebrew word niham is grieve or regret rather than changes His mind, while in 1 Sam. 15:29, the meaning is change His mind. Context is what determines the meaning of a word that has multiple meanings.
As for Gen. 6:7, the meaning of niham is sorry. Sorry and regret express grief and pain tinged with emotion, which is quite different than changing His mind.
As for Ex. 32:14, the expression changed His mind is definitely an anthropomorphic usage and not a real change of mind, for the reasons stated above. Instead, it has the meaning of relented (to embark on another course of action; it suggests relief or comfort from a planned, undesirable course of action). It’s an alteration in the course and method of God’s procedure. A change in the character and conduct of those with whom God is dealing leads to a corresponding change in His actions toward them, though God had already known this would happen due to His omniscience. So, it’s viewed as a change of mind though God knew all along it would happen. (1 OT, pp. 37, 156, 447; 2 pp. 82, 285; 3 pp. 22, 79; 4 vol. 1, pp. 31, 725; 5 pp. 80, 173, 174; 7 p. 261; 8 pp. 140, 225; 12 pp. 29, 30).
Did God tell Noah to take 2 pairs of all living creatures (Gen. 6:19-20) or 7 pairs (Gen. 7:2) of clean animals into the Ark?
This is not a contradiction but rather a misleading question to begin with. God told Noah to take 7 pairs of clean animals and 2 pairs of unclean animals (7:2). So, the general instruction to Noah was to take 2 pairs of all living creatures (6:19, 20), and then this instruction was amplified to include 7 pairs of the clean animals (7:2). Also, Gen. 7:8-9 does not say that only 2 pairs of clean animals went into the Ark, but that the animals went into the Ark by twos, two by two or by pairs. The reason more clean animals were needed was because they were used for sacrifice (8:20) and would have gone extinct if more clean animals were not taken on the Ark. (5 pp. 81, 82; 7 pp. 276, 289, 294).
Was the father of Shelah, Cainan (Lk. 3:35-36) or Arphaxad (Gen. 11:12)?
The genealogy in the Massoretic (Hebrew) text of Genesis telescopes the generations (i.e., mentions some and omits others) as does Matthew in his list in Matt. 1. But in the Septuagint (the LXX or the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament in the 3rd century BC – The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 897), the name Cainan is included as the father of Shelah. Luke, writing in Greek to Hellenistic Jews, would have used the Septuagint as his authority. So, there’s no contradiction. Cainan was the real father of Shelah while Arphaxad was an ancestor/father of Shelah. The term father can and does have the meaning of ancestor, and is so used in the Bible quite often – e.g., Jn. 8:39, 53, 56 ( 4 vol. 3, 356; 12 p. 11; 25 p. 412).
Did the Midianites sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites (Gen. 37:28) or to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh (Gen. 37:36)?
The Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar. The traveling merchants were comprised of Ishmaelite and Midianite merchants. The words Ishmaelite and Midianite are used interchangeably (see 37:25, 27-28, 36; Judg. 8:22, 24), as the term Ishmaelite became a general designation for desert tribes. So, Midianites were also known as Ishmaelites. Ishmaelites were descendants of Abraham by Hagar (16:15), while Midianites were descendants of Abraham by his concubine Keturah (25:2). (1 OT, p. 88; 7 p. 970).
Did the Ishmaelites (Gen. 37:28), or the Midianites (Gen. 37:36), or Joseph’s brothers (Gen. 45:4) bring Joseph to Egypt?
Since the term Ishmaelite became a general designation for desert tribes, Midianites were also known as Ishmaelites. Both Ishmaelites (Gen. 16:15) and Midianites (Gen. 25:2) were descendants of Abraham. So, the two terms are used interchangeably, as seen in Judges 8:22, 24; Gen. 37:25, 27, 28, 36. Therefore, it was the Midianite/Ishmaelites who physically and literally brought Joseph to Egypt. Joseph’s brothers only brought Joseph to Egypt in a figurative sense, that is, by selling him to the Midianite/Ishmaelites, who actually brought Joseph to Egypt. Gen. 45:4 doesn’t even use the word brought, but sold. So, there’s no contradiction. (1 OT, p. 88; 7 p. 970).
Did 70 members of the house of Jacob come to Egypt (Gen. 46:27) or was it 75 members (Acts 7:14)?
Both, depending upon what angle one looks at it from (2 p. 1136). The Hebrew text of Gen. 46:27 includes Jacob, Joseph, and Joseph’s 2 sons (Ephraim and Manasseh) for a total of 70 people. But the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew text done in the 3rd century BC) omits Jacob and Joseph, but includes Joseph’s 7 grandchildren (mentioned in 1 Chron. 7:14-15, 20-25). This is supported by the Hebrew in Gen. 46:8-26, which enumerates 66 names, omitting Jacob, Joseph, and Joseph’s 2 sons. And Stephen (Acts 7) followed the Septuagint version for his information when he mentions 75 people in Acts 7:14 (1 NT, p. 370).
Or, the extra 5 persons of Acts 7:14 are composed of the 5 children and grandchildren of Joseph’s 2 sons (listed in Num. 26:28-37 and found in the Septuagint version of Gen. 46:20 from which Stephen quotes). (3 p. 1088; 12 p. 20; 23 p. 83).
How could the Egyptian magicians convert water into blood (Ex. 7:22) if all the available water had been already converted by Moses and Aaron (Ex. 7:20-21)?
Moses and Aaron did not convert all the available water into blood. There was other water available (7:24), such as natural springs or water filtered through the soil, or even a pot or bowl of water acquired from such sources, which the magicians used as a sample to also demonstrate their powers (1 OT, p. 121; 8 p. 480; 12 p. 30).
Did 24,000 Israelites die in the plague in Shittim (Num. 25:1, 9), or was it only 23,000 Israelites (1 Cor. 10:8)?
It could be either or it could be both. The real number of those who died may have been between 23,000 and 24,000, say 23,500. And when writing generally where exact figures are not needed, one writer might give one rounded figure, while the other writer gives the other rounded figure. This is not uncommon in general writing or speaking when exact figures are irrelevant to the point of the story (3 p. 1208; 29 p. 141; 30 p. 104).
Or, the real number could be both. It’s 23,000 if Paul is talking about those who died in just one day (1 Cor. 10:8), and 24,000 if Moses is including those who died because of the plague on more than just that day, such as the next day as well because of the plagues effects (2 p. 1246; 3 p. 1208).
Joshua and the Israelites did (Josh. 10:23, 40) or did not (Josh. 15:63) capture Jerusalem?
He did not, and Josh. 10:23, 40 does not say that he/they did. In Joshua 10, it is the king of Jerusalem that is killed and not the city that is captured (vv. 16-18, 22-26). The 5 Amorite kings and their armies left their cities to attack Gibeon. Joshua and the Israelites routed them, and the 5 kings fled to a cave at Makkedah, from which Joshua’s soldiers brought them to Joshua, who then killed them all. In verse 20, it states that “the few who left (Amorite soldiers) reached their fortified cities”, which clearly indicates that the cities were not captured. In Josh. 10:28-42, it states that several cities were captured and destroyed, these being: Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir. All of these cities are southwest of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is, therefore, not mentioned as being captured in Joshua 10, which completely agrees with 15:63 that the Jebusites could not be dislodged from Jerusalem (1 pp. 351, 352; 2 pp. 218, 219).
Did David (1 Sam. 17:23, 50) or Elhanan (2 Sam. 21:19) kill Goliath?
David did because of 1 Sam. 17:23, 50, and also because 1 Chron. 20:5 shows that 2 Sam. 21:19 is a copyist’s mistake. 1 Chron. 20:5 states that Elhanan killed Goliath’s brother, Lahmi. The 2 Sam. 21:19 passage is a perfectly traceable copyist mistake of what was in the original wording, which has been preserved in 1 Chron. 20:5.
The Hebrew manuscript from which the 2 Samuel copyist was reading must have been blurred or damaged at this particular verse. What happened apparently was the following: The sign of the direct object, which in Chronicles comes just before “Lahmi”, was ‘t ; the copyist mistook it for b-t or b-y-t (Beth) and thus got Bethal-Lahmi (the Bethlehemite) out of it. Then the copyist misread the Hebrew word for brother (‘-h) as the sign of the direct object (‘-t) right before “g-l-y-t” (Goliath). Thus he made Goliath the object of killed (Heb. wayyak), instead of the brother of Goliath (as 1 Chron. 20:5 does). Also, the copyist misplaced the word for weavers (Heb. ‘-r-g-ym) so as to put it right after Elhanan (ben Y-’-r-y’-r-g-ym or ben ya’ erey ‘ore-gim – “the son of the forests of weavers” – a most unlikely name for anyone’s father). In 1 Chron. 20:5, the ’oregim (weavers) comes right after menōr (a beam of) – thus making perfectly good sense (5 pp. 178, 179; 12 p. 30).
Was the high priest Abiathar (Mk. 2:26) or Ahimelech (1 Sam. 21:1; 22:20) when David went into the house of God and ate the consecrated bread?
Ahimelech was the high priest at the exact moment when the bread was given to and eaten by David. But Ahimelech’s son, Abiathar was there also when this event took place (1 Sam. 22:20) and probably assisted in giving the bread out, as they functioned as a family, and so the family was, therefore, killed by king Saul because of it (22:15). Because Ahimelech was killed, Abiathar, who escaped, functioned as the high priest (30:7).
So, when Mark records Jesus’ words, the bread eating event did take place in the time of Abiathar, who did become high priest shortly after the incident. And it is not at all unusual to designate a place or person by a name which did not belong to it or him until later. A biblical example of this is found in Gen. 12:8, where Bethel is mentioned, when in actuality, the city was called Luz (Gen. 28:19) at the time of Abraham, in Gen. 12:8. Also, since Abiathar was more prominent than Ahimelech, and they both were alive and involved during the time of this bread-eating incident, and Abiathar did become high priest shortly thereafter, the use of Abiathar’s name in place of Ahimelech’s is a customary way of speaking of past events (4 vol. 3, p. 266; 5 p. 362; 21 pp. 107, 108; 34 p. 81).
Did Saul take his own sword and fall upon it (1 Sam. 31:4-6), or did an Amalekite kill Saul (2 Sam. 1:1-16)?
Saul took his own life as 1 Sam. 31 states. The writer of 1st & 2nd Samuel does not place any value on the Amalekite’s story of taking credit for the killing of Saul. The writer simply records what the Amalekite said. The Amalekite’s story seems fabricated because he says that he just happened to be on Mount Gilboa (2 Sam. 1:6) where Saul was, and that Saul was leaning on his spear unattended by Israelite soldiers, as the Philistine chariots charged him.
It is most likely that the Amalekite found Saul’s dead body, took the crown and bracelet, and told David a made-up story in order to get a reward. But even David saw through this story, as he had the Amalekite, who thought he was bringing good news to David, killed (2 Sam. 1:15, 16; 4:10). (1 OT, p. 457; 2 p. 293; 3 pp. 228, 229; 4 vol. 1, p. 776; 12 p. 31).
Did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem after (2 Sam. 5 & 6) or before (1 Chron. 13 & 14) defeating the Philistines?
David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem after defeating the Philistines (2 Sam. 5:25 with 2 Sam. 6:2, 10-12; 1 Chron. 14:16 with 1 Chron. 15:25, 29). 1 Chron. 13 & 14 do not say that the ark was brought to Jerusalem before defeating the Philistines. Rather, it was moved to the home of Obed-edom, which is not in Jerusalem, before defeating the Philistines, and then after defeating the Philistines, it was moved to Jerusalem from Obed-edom’s house. So, the ark was moved twice, but only once to Jerusalem.
Did David capture 1,700 (2 Sam. 8:4) or 7,000 (1 Chron. 18:4) of the king of Zorbah’s horsemen?
A scribal or copyist error exists here. And since 1st Chronicles is the better preserved text, 7,000 would be the correct number. The original biblical manuscript autographs are without error, as they are the inspired words of God, but as the autographs were copied by hand and recopied down through the centuries, a few copying errors of non-doctrinal issues were made. And this is one of them. So it’s not really a contradiction, but a recognized copy error. (1 p. 465; 5 p. 184).
Did the chief of the mighty men of David lift up his spear and kill 800 men (2 Sam. 23:8) or 300 men (1 Chron. 11:11)?
A scribal or copyist error probably exists here because the Hebrew numerical symbols 300 and 800 look a lot alike (1 OT, p. 604). Or, one author may have only mentioned in part what the other author mentioned in full (6 p. 187).
Does God incite David to conduct the census of his people (2 Sam. 24:1), or does Satan (1 Chron. 21:1)?
Both, God indirectly and Satan directly. In 2 Sam. 24, it says that God’s anger incited David against Israel so as to take the census. But God Himself does not directly incite David to do so (as James 1:13 says that God does not tempt anyone to do evil), but rather, God uses or allows Satan to move David to carry out this wrong action. This concept is not uncommon in Scripture, as seen in 1 Kings 22:19-23; Judges 9:23-24, 56-57; 1 Sam. 16:14; 18:10; 19:9; 26:19; Job 1:11-12 with Job 2:3-7 and 19:21; 1 Pet. 4:9 with 1 Pet. 5:8; Acts 2:2-23 with Acts 4:2-28 and Jn. 13:2, 27. (1 OT, pp. 481,610; 2 pp. 304,384; 3 p. 246; 4 vol. 1, pp. 847, 1031).
Does Israel have 800,000 fighting men (2 Sam. 24:9) or 1,100,000 (1 Chron. 21:5)?
Both, depending upon what perspective it’s viewed from. The difference in numbers can easily be reconciled if the 2 Samuel account did not include the standing army of 12 units of 24,000 men each who served the king (288,000 total, as seen in 1 Chron. 27:1-15) plus the 12,000 men especially attached to Jerusalem and the chariot cities (2 Chron. 1:14). When these additional 300,000 standing army men are added to the 800,000 fighting men recorded in 2 Sam. 24, the grand total of fighting men available is then given in 1 Chron. 21 as 1,100,000. These 300,000 were probably not included in 2 Sam. 24 because they were already in the actual service of the king as a regular militia, while 1 Chron. 21 joins them to the rest (the 800,000) by saying “all those of Israel were 1,100,000”. Whereas, 2 Sam. 24 doesn’t use the term “all”, but only, “there were in Israel”. So, no contradiction (1 OT, pp. 482, 610; 3 pp. 246, 305).
Does Judah have 500,000 fighting men (2 Sam. 24:9) or 470,000 (1 Chron. 21:5)?
First, it should be noted that the author or one of the authors of 1st & 2nd Samuel lived in the post-Solomonic era, after the division of the kingdom between Israel and Judah (931 BC), as indicated by the phrase in 1 Sam. 27:6, “Ziklag … has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day” and by references to Israel and Judah in 1 Sam. 11:8; 17:52; 18:16; 2 Sam. 5:5; 11:11; 12:8; 19:42-43; 24:1, 9.
Now, the differences in numbers can be explained in one of at least two ways. Either the extra 30,000 men that 2 Sam. 24 records, and which 1 Chron. 21 doesn’t record, is the standing army of Judah (2 Sam. 6:1); or 2 Sam. 24 includes the fighting men from the tribe of Benjamin, which 1 Chron. 21:5-6 and 27:24 does not include in its census (1 OT, pp. 482, 610; 3 pp. 246, 305; 4 vol. 1, p. 1031; 5 p. 189).
Did God send His prophet to threaten David with 7 years of famine (2 Sam. 24:13) or 3 years (1 Chron. 21:12)?
The Hebrew text that we have in existence today of 2 Sam. 24:13 has “7” years, but the Septuagint (the earliest translation of the OT into Greek, dating in the 3rd century BC, – 35 p. 897) has/records 2 Sam. 24:13 as saying “3” years. So, the original Hebrew text apparently had “3” years, but a scribe somewhere along the way made a copy error of the original Hebrew text after the Septuagint was written that has been carried on into today’s existing copies, while the 1 Chron. 21 passage of “3” years has been preserved accurately. Also, logically, “3” years makes more sense in light of the other two alternative punishments mentioned that use the word “three” (i.e., three months and three days – 2 Sam. 24:13). (1 OT, p. 482; 2 p. 384).
Did Solomon have 40,000 (1 Kings 4:26) or 4,000 (2 Chron. 9:25) stalls for his horses?
This is probably a copyist error in transcribing the text, which actually read 4,000 as 2 Chronicles states (1 OT, p. 497; 3 p. 317).
Did Solomon appoint 3,600 (2 Chron. 2:2) or 3,300 (1 Kings 5:16) overseers for the work of building the temple?
Actually both, and then some for a grand total of 3,850. In 1 Kings 5:16, it’s 3,300 plus another 550 in 1 Kings 9:23, for a total of 3,850 overseers. While in 2 Chron. 2:2, it’s 3,600 plus another 250 in 2 Chron. 8:10 for the same total of 3,850 overseers. So, there’s no contradiction, but only partial descriptions in each passage (1 OT, p. 499).
Did Solomon build a facility containing 2,000 baths (1 Kings 7:26) or 3,000 baths (2 Chron. 4:5)?
It could very well be that the sea had a capacity of 3,000 baths, but actually contained only 2,000 baths (1 OT, pp. 502, 623; 4 vol. 1, p. 1052).
Or, another explanation is that the 2 Chron. 4:5 passage (as recorded in the KJV) includes not merely the quantity of water held in the basin, but also that which was necessary to work it, to keep it flowing as a fountain; that which was required to fill both the basin and its accompaniments, as two verbs are used in the 2 Chron. 4:5 (KJV) verse, “received” and “held”, while only one verb is used in the 1 Kings 7:6 verse, “held”. There is a difference between “receiving and holding” (2 Chron. 4:5, KJV) as opposed to just “holding” (1 Kings 7:6). (3 p. 313).
Or, another explanation is that this is a copyist error, as the number in Hebrew lettering for 2,000 was confounded by the scribe with a similar alphabetical number for the number 3,000 (2 p. 394).
Does everyone sin (1 Kings 8:46; 2 Chron. 6:36; Prov. 20:9; Eccles. 7:20; 1 Jn. 1:8-10), or do some people not sin (1 Jn. 3:1, 8-9; 4:7; 5:1)?
Yes, every purely and only human being sins. However, the possibility of not sinning any more exists for some people, that is, for those born of God or Christians. That is, if those who are born of God abide in (Gk. menon, meaning, remain in close fellowship with and dependence upon or obeys or lives by vital union the life of – 2 p. 1468; Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek NT, “1 John”, p. 116; 3 p. 1504) Him/Christ (1 Jn. 3:6), then they won’t sin. But those who are born of God (Christians) don’t always abide in Christ, and therefore, they sin. The person who is born of God has God’s seed/nature abiding or remaining in him (3:9). And if the born of God person lives/functions from that divine seed/nature of God’s that is abiding/remaining in him (2 Pet. 1:4; 1 Jn. 3:6, 9), then he won’t and can’t sin because God’s divine nature can’t sin. We see this struggle in the life of Paul (Rom. 7:14-25), who was born of God. A battle between living from his sin nature, which we’re all physically born with (e.g., Psa. 51:5; 58:3), and his new or divine nature, which he received upon believing in Jesus Christ as his Savior (e.g., Jn. 1:12-13; 1 Jn. 5:1; 2 Pet. 1:4). So, every purely and only human being sins, but those who are born of God, and who choose to abide in Christ (live from their new/divine nature, Rom. 13:14; Eph. 4:24) won’t and can’t sin as long as they stay/abide in fellowship with Christ. But if they don’t abide in Christ, then they will sin. And no one who is born of God lives from his new/divine nature all the time. So there’s no contradiction (1 NT, pp. 894, 895).
Did Baasha, king of Israel, die in the 26th year of Asa, king of Judah (1 Kings 15:33 – 16:8) or sometime during or after the 36th year of Asa, as Baasha was still alive in Asa’s 36th year (2 Chron. 16:1)?
This is probably a copyist error of misreading the Hebrew figure of 16th for 36th in 2 Chron. 16:1. Up through the 7th century BC, the letter yod (=10) greatly resembled the letter lamed (=30), except for two tiny strokes attached to the left of the main vertical stroke (yod was and lamed was ). It required only a smudge from excessive wear on the scroll-column to result in making the yod look like a lamed, with a resultant error of twenty years. Therefore, Baasha did die in the 26th year of Asa (1 Kings 15), but was alive in the 16th, not 36th, year of Asa (2 Chron. 16). (1 OT, p. 632; 5 p. 226; 8 Chronicles, pp. 366, 377).
Was Ahaziah 22 years old (2 Kings 8:26) or 42 (2 Chron. 22:2) when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
Copyists were prone to making two types of scribal errors, one dealing with proper names and the other with numbers. Ideally, we might have wished that the Holy Spirit had restrained all copyists of Scripture over the centuries from making mistakes of any kind, but this is not the way it worked out. Yet, we may be sure that the original manuscript of each book of the Bible, being directly inspired by God, was free from all errors. It is also true that no well-attested variation in the manuscript copies that have come down to us alter any doctrine of the Bible.
The discrepancy in age, here, has to do with the decade part of the number. Fortunately, there is enough additional information in the biblical text to show that the correct number is 22. In 2 Kings 8:17, it states that Ahaziah’s father Joram died at the age of 40. Therefore, Ahaziah couldn’t have been 42 at the time of his father’s death at age 40.
It is instructive to observe that the number notations used by the Jewish settlers in the 5th century Elephantine Papyri, during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (from which this passage comes) evidences an early form of numerical notation (and there is a large file of documents in papyrus from this source). This notation consisted of a horizontal stroke ending in a downward hook at its right end to represent the numbers in tens (two such strokes would represent 20, etc.). Vertical strokes were used to represent anything less than ten. Thus, 22 would be and 42 would be .
If, then, the manuscript being copied was blurred or smudged, one or more of the decade notations could be missed by the copyist. However, the Septuagint manuscript, Syriac, and one Hebrew manuscript contain the correct numerical age of 22 for Ahaziah in 2 Chron. 22:2 (1 OT, p. 636; 2 p. 407; 4 vol. 1, p. 1082; 5 pp. 206, 207).
Was Jehoiachin 18 years old (2 Kings 24:8) or 8 (2 Chron. 36:9) when he became king of Jerusalem?
There has been a copyist error in one of the two passages. This type of error occurs now and then because of blurring or surface damage in the earlier manuscript from which the copy is made. A numerical system generally in use during the 5th century BC (when 2nd Chronicles was probably written) features a horizontal stroke ending in a hook at its right end, as the sign for “ten”. Two of them would make the number “twenty”. The digits under ten would be indicated by rows of little vertical strokes. Thus, would be 18 and would be 8. Probably the decade hook mark was smudged out making the number look like 8. Other reasons to assume that the 2 Chron. 36 passage is the incorrect one is because 8 years of age is unusually young to assume governmental leadership and because (having ruled for only 3 months at the time of his surrender to the king of Babylon) for him to be only 8 years old and yet have several wives already (2 Kings 24:15) is highly unlikely, and because other manuscripts record 2 Chron. 36:9 as stating that he was 18 years old rather than 8 years old (1 OT, p. 648; 2 p. 420; 4 vol. 1, p. 1111; 5 p. 215).
Did king Jehoiachin rule over Jerusalem for 3 months (2 Ki. 24:8) or for 3 months and 10 days (2 Chron. 36:9)?
It is common both in speech and in writing to approximate and/or round off numbers when exact or specific numbers are not essential/necessary or important to the issue being addressed by the speaker or author. This is both a worldwide as well as a centuries old practice. The 2nd Chronicles passage gives the exact time while the 2 Kings passage rounds off the number to include just the months. Common sense would tell people that this is not a contradiction, but a general way of communicating certain facts or issues that don’t necessitate exact figures (12 p. 7).
Was king Abijah’s mother Michaiah, daughter of Uriel of Gibeah (2 Chron. 13:2) or was she Maachah, daughter of Absalom (2 Chron. 11:20), though Absalom had only one daughter whose name was Tamar (2 Sam. 14:27)?
Both! The word daughter can and does at times have the meaning of female descendant other than of the first generation (36 p. 257; 37 p. 242). So, 2 Chron. 13:2 is literally correct. But 2 Chron. 11:20-21 is also correct when one realizes that Maachah is a variant reading for Michaiah and that Maachah is Absalom’s grand-daughter literally, but daughter in the sense of a female descendant (Uriel being her father and Tamar being her mother, Absalom’s daughter). This was to indicate Maachah/Michaiah’s royal lineage (2 p. 400; 3 pp. 318, 319; 4 vol. 1, p. 1065).
Are the numbers of Israelites freed from Babylon captivity correct in Ezra 2:6,8,12,15,19,28 or in Neh. 7:11,13,17,20,22,32?
In Ezra 2:3-35 and Neh. 7:8-38, there are about 33 family units that appear in both lists. Of these 33, there are 14 that differ and 19 that are identical in the two lists. Regardless of the date when Nehemiah recorded his list (ca. 445 BC), his expressed purpose was to give the exact number of those who actually arrived at Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Jeshua back in 536 BC (Neh. 7:7). Nehemiah’s list in chapter 7 reproduces the tally of those who actually arrived in Judea, which was taken from a genealogical list he found in Jerusalem (7:7). Ezra, however, who made up his register in Babylon in the 450’s BC, recorded the returnees numbers (Ezra 2:1, 2) from an earlier list, apparently, of those who had originally announced their intention to join the caravan of returning colonists to Judea from Babylon. Death, sickness, business, or other reasons could have prevented some from returning who had originally signed up to go back to Judea under Zerubbabel. In other cases, some last-minute recruits probably joined the company of excited returnees after the official tally had been taken, and were later counted in Nehemiah’s final list of those who actually returned. At any rate, the differences in totals between the two tallies should occasion no surprise. The same sort of addition and/or attrition has featured every large migration in human history.
Another difference between the two lists is the difference in names for/from the same family units. But remembering that according to Jewish custom, some people are called by different names explains many of the differences of names between the two genealogical lists. Examples of this are: Hariph (Neh. 7:24) is the same as Jorah (Ezra 2:18); Sia (Neh. 7:47) is the same as Siaha (Ezra 2:44); Seraiah, Reelaiah, and Rehum (Ezra 2:2) are the same as Azariah, Raamiah, and Nehum respectively (Neh. 7:7). (1 OT, p. 656; 3 p. 349).
And, of course, there is also the possibility of some copyist errors due to worn or smudged copies that make similar Hebrew numbers look alike, or it can be due to other human mistakes, which are common in the copying of ancient historical records (1 OT, pp. 656-658, 687; 3 pp. 338, 349; 4 vol. 1, p. 1116; 5 pp. 229, 230).
These possible scribal/copyist errors of differing numbers don’t affect either the reliability of the historical events or any doctrine of the Judeo-Christian faiths.
Though both Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66 agree that the total number of returnees from the Babylon captivity back to Judea is 42,360, the individual lists from each book when added up differ. In Ezra 2, it totals up to only 29,818 and in Nehemiah 7 it totals up to only 31,089. So, which total of returnees is right: 29,818 or 31,089 or 42,360?
The larger number of 42,360 may include women and children, which are not included in the smaller totals of just men only (1 OT, p. 658). It may also include Jews from the 10 Northern tribes who might have joined the remnant of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (1 OT, p. 658; 3 p. 339; 4 vol. 1, p. 1117).
Or, it may be the result of copyist errors. However, we understand the original biblical autographs were perfect, with no contradictions or errors, and that any human errors in copying these texts over the centuries have not changed or nullified any historical event or altered any doctrine/teaching of the Judeo-Christian faiths (1 OT, p. 687; 2 p. 425).
Did 200 singers (Ezra 2:65) or 245 singers (Neh. 7:67) accompany the returning Jews from the Babylonian captivity?
This is probably a copyist error. A scribe, in copying Neh. 7:67, may have inadvertently picked up the number 245 from the next verse in Neh. 7:68, which was in reference to mules and then inserted that number for the 200 singers (1 OT, pp. 658, 687).
Who is a ransom for whom? How can the ransom which Christ, who is good, gives (Mk. 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:5-6) be the same as the ransom of the wicked (Prov. 21:18)?
They are not the same, as they are two different types of ransoms. Jesus, who is God in human form, and therefore sinless (Col. 2:9; 1 Jn. 5:20; 3:5; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22), is the only perfect sacrifice and substitute who can ransom/pay for mankind’s sins (Heb. 10:8-12), a spiritual redemption.
Prov. 21:18, on the other hand, is talking about a physical redemption or release. The wicked are sometimes made a ransom or sacrificed/killed/caused to suffer in order for righteous/godly people to be set free from the suffering they endured at the hands of the wicked. This is seen in Isaiah 43:3, where Egypt is given as a ransom/sacrifice or made to suffer so that God’s people, the Israelites could be set free or delivered to go into the Promised Land (Ex. 11:1, 4-5; 12:33; 14:30; Deut. 7:8). (1 OT, p. 951; 2 p. 574; 3 p. 469; 12 p. 21).
Did Jesus descend from Solomon (Matt. 1:6) or from Nathan (Lk. 3:31), both of whom are sons of David?
Both! Jesus physically descended from Nathan, who is part of Mary’s genealogical ancestry through her father Heli (Lk. 3:23). But Jesus is legally descended from Solomon, who is part of Joseph’s genealogical ancestry (Matt. 1:16), and Joseph is Jesus’ legal father by marriage to Mary (3 p. 996; 4 vol. 3, p. 356; 5 p. 316; 9 pp. 223-225; 10 pp. 151, 152).
Was Joram (Matt. 1:8) or Amaziah (2 Chron. 26:1) the father of Uzziah?
Amaziah is the direct biological father of Uzziah, while Joram is Uzziah’s great-great-grandfather. The line goes: Joram/Jehoram, then Ahaziah (2 Kings 8:25; 2 Chron. 22:1), then Joash (2 Kings 11:21; 2 Chron. 24:1), then Amaziah (2 Kings 14:1; 2 Chron. 25:1), then Uzziah/Azariah (2 Kings 15:1-2 Chron. 26:1).
The term son in Matt. 1:8 is used in the sense of great-great-grandson or descendant, which son can and does have as a definition/meaning (20 p. 572; 36 p. 951). Another example of this type of meaning is in Matt. 1:1, where it says that Jesus Christ is the son of David, the son of Abraham. Son, here, is understood to mean descendant.
Matthew is telescoping Joseph’s genealogy, as his purpose is simply to show the route of descent of the promised Messiah and coming king (4 vol. 3, p. 3). Matthew comments in 1:17 that there are 3 sets of 14 generations. This links in directly with the designation of Jesus as the son of David. In the Hebrew language, each letter is given a value. The total value of the name David is 14 and is probably the reason why Matthew, a Jew writing from a Hebrew perspective, only records 14 generations in each section, to underline Jesus’ position as the son of David (12 p. 11; 13 pp. 116-119).
Was Josiah (Matt. 1:11) or Jehoiakim (1 Chron. 3:16) the father of Jechoniah/Jeconiah?
Jehoiakim (1 Chron. 3:16) is Jeconiah’s father, and Josiah is Jehoiakim’s father (1 Chron. 3:15) and Jeconiah’s grandfather. Again, it’s important to remember that Matthew is telescoping the Davidic genealogy of Jesus’ legal father Joseph, and that the word son can mean descendant or grandson, as it does in Matt. 1:11 (12 p. 12; 13 p. 124).
Would (Lk. 1:32) or wouldn’t (Matt. 1:11; 1 Chron. 3:16; Jer. 36:30) Jesus inherit David’s throne?
Since Matthew’s genealogy is that of Joseph’s (Matt. 1:16), it is obvious from Jer. 36:30 that none of Joseph’s physical descendants were qualified to sit on David’s throne as he himself was descended from Jeconiah. However, as Matthew makes clear, Jesus was not a physical descendant of Joseph. After having listed Joseph’s genealogy with the problem of his descendence from Jeconiah, Matthew narrates the story of the virgin birth. Thus, Matthew proves how Jesus avoids the Jeconiah problem and remains able to sit on David’s throne. Luke, on the other hand, shows that Jesus’ true physical descendence was from David apart from Jeconiah, thus fully qualifying Him to inherit the throne of His father David. The announcement of the angel in Lk. 1:32 completes the picture: “the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David”. (12 pp. 12, 13; 17 p. 12).
Was Jechoniah (Matt. 1:12) or Neri (Lk. 3:27) the father of Shealtiel?
It is understood that two different genealogies are given from David to Jesus, that of Joseph’s in Matt. 1 and that of Mary’s in Lk. 3 (3 p. 996; 4 vol. 3, p. 356; 5 p. 316; 9 pp. 223-226; 10 pp. 151-154; 11 p. 46). Therefore, we realize that there are two different men by the name of Shealtiel, which was a common Hebrew name. And therefore, they have different fathers. So, both Matt. 1 and Lk. 3 are correct (1 NT, p. 18; 12 p. 11).
Which son of Zerubbabel was ancestor of Jesus Christ, Abiud (Matt. 1:13) or Rhesa (Lk. 3:27)?
Since the Shealtiels in Matt. 1:12 and Lk. 3:27 are two different Shealtiels, due to two different genealogies, (Joseph’s in Matt. 1 and Mary’s in Lk. 3), therefore, the Zerubbabels in Matt. 1 and Lk. 3 are two different Zerubbabels also. So, Abiud was Jesus’ ancestor on Joseph’s, His legal father’s, side, and Rhesa was Jesus’ physical ancestor on Mary’s, His physical mother’s, side of the family.
Just as there are two “Joseph son of Jacob” relationships mentioned in the Bible (Gen. 37:2 and Matt. 1:16), so there are two “Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel” relationships also (Matt. 1:12 and Lk. 3:27). So, Abiud, son of the Zerubbabel on Joseph’s side of the family, is Jesus’ ancestor through His legal father, Joseph. And Rhesa, son of the Zerubbabel on Mary’s side of the family, is Jesus’ ancestor through His mother, Mary.
The Zerubbabel in 1 Chron. 3:19, 20 could easily be a third Zerubbabel. This Zerubbabel would then be a cousin of the one mentioned in Matt. 1:12, 13 (1 NT, p. 18; 12 p. 11).
Were there 14 (Matt. 1:17) or 13 (Matt. 1:12-16) generations from the Babylonian exile until Christ?
There were 14 generations listed from the Babylonian exile until Christ. Jeconiah is counted as the first name in the third set of 14 generations (Matt. 1:12-16). Josiah is the last name in the second set of 14 generations. David is counted twice, once as the last name in the first set of 14 generations, and then again as the first name in the second set of 14 generations. Even verse 17 lists David twice (2 p. 931; 3 p. 882; 14 p. 4).
The reason for the 14 names in each of the 3 periods of national history listed (though there are actually more ancestors in the genealogy than those listed in Matt. 1:2-16) is because in the Hebrew language, each letter is given a value, and the total value of the name David is 14, to underline Jesus’ position as a descendant of David in line to be king of the Jews, through His legal father, Joseph (1 NT, p. 18; 12 p. 11).
Was Jacob (Matt. 1:16) or Heli (Lk. 3:23) the father of Joseph, Mary’s husband?
Jacob is the father of Joseph, as Matt. 1:16 records, while Heli is the father of Mary, Joseph’s wife.
Matthew gives the genealogy of Joseph, while Luke gives the genealogy of Mary. Luke follows strict Hebrew tradition in mentioning only males (3 p. 996; 4 vol. 3, p. 356). So, Mary is designated by her husband’s name (a metonymy). This is supported by the fact that every name in the Greek text of Luke’s genealogy, except for Joseph’s, is preceded by the definite article e.g., the Heli, the Matthat). Although not obvious in English translations, this would strike anyone reading the Greek, who would realize that it was tracing the line of Joseph’s wife, even though his name was used. Other places in the Bible where metonymies are used are: David is substituted for Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12:16 with 12:12, 17; king/Solomon is substituted for Huram-abi and his skilled men in 2 Chron. 4:17-22 with 4:16 and 2:13, 14; Jesus is substituted for His disciples in Jn. 4:1 with 4:2.
That Heli is Mary’s father is also supported by the Jerusalem Talmud, a Jewish source, which recognizes the genealogy to be that of Mary, daughter of Heli, as found in Haghigha 2:4 (17 pp. 10-13), or Haghigha 77:4 (9 pp. 223-225).
Or, if the phrase “as was supposed of Joseph” in Lk. 3:23 is taken as a parenthesis, then Jesus is called the son of Heli. The term son, here, then would be used in the sense of grandson or descendant, which son has as a meaning (20 p. 572; 36 p. 951). The omission of the definite article in Greek before Joseph’s name would show that his name is separated from the genealogical chain and accorded a place of its own, as a parenthesis. So, Jesus would be the grandson of Heli, who is Mary’s father (9 pp. 223-226; 10 pp. 151-154; 11p. 46; 5 p. 316; 19 p. 226).
Baby Jesus’ life was threatened in Jerusalem (Matt. 2:13-23) or it wasn’t (Lk. 2:21-40).
Jesus’ life was not initially threatened in Jerusalem or Bethlehem (Lk. 2:21-38), at least not for the first 40 days of His life (through His circumcision and time of Mary’s burnt offering for her purification, as prescribed in Lev. 12:1-8). Jesus is no longer living in a manger (Lk. 2:7, 16) but in a house (Matt. 2:11) by the time the magi arrive. It is at this point that Joseph is warned by an angel to flee to Egypt (Matt. 2:11-14). How long a time elapsed between the initial safety of Jesus and His life being threatened must have been fairly long because king Herod kills the baby boys around Bethlehem that were 2 years old and under (Matt. 2:16), thereby showing that a considerable amount of time had taken place between the magis’ visit to the king and Herod’s endangering of the life of Jesus by killing babies up to 2 years of age. After Herod dies, an angel tells Joseph to return to Israel (Matt. 2:19-21). Upon returning, Joseph is then warned by God in a dream about Herod’s son, who was ruling over Judea. So, Joseph and family depart for Galilee (Matt. 2:22, 23). It is at this point that Luke picks up the history in the last part of Luke 2:39. Luke simply omitted the flight to Egypt because it was not necessary for the purposes of his Gospel. So, all the Jerusalem temple activities took place in peace before they had to flee (1NT, p. 209; 4vol. 3, p. 349; 9 p. 177; 10 p. 121; 18 pp. 10-13; 19 pp. 11-14).
Did (Matt. 3:13-14) or didn’t (Jn. 1:32-33) John the Baptist recognize Jesus before His baptism?
John the Baptist knew things about Jesus (apparently by Divine revelation similar to Jn. 1:33), and who He’d be when He showed up to be baptized. John the Baptist knew that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29) and that Jesus existed before him/John (Jn. 1:30), even though John the Baptist was conceived 6 months before Jesus (Lk. 1:26-36); therefore, recognizing Jesus’ deity. What John did not know/recognize from personal observation (Gk. oida, meaning to perceive/know from observation – 25 p. 628) was that Jesus was God’s Son who would baptize in the Holy Spirit (Jn. 1:33-34; Matt. 3:17). This was confirmed, however, by observing God’s involvement (with the dove’s/Holy Spirit’s descent as God predicted and hearing God’s voice from heaven) after Jesus’ baptism (4 vol. 3, p. 498).
Did Jesus first meet Peter and Andrew by the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 4:18-22) or on the banks of the river Jordan (Jn. 1:42-43)?
Jesus first met Peter and Andrew by the Jordan River (Jn. 1:28, 40-42). They then followed Him to Galilee (Jn. 1:43) the next day, and then to Cana, in that region, a couple days later (Jn. 2:1-2). They then went to Capernaum (Jn. 2:12) for a few days, which is where these brothers lived (Matt. 4:12-18). The brothers apparently went back to their house to fish at this time. And this is where Matthew picks up the story. Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to be His permanent disciples (Matt. 4:18-20), not just temporary traveling observers, as they had been up to this point. Matt. 4:18-22 does not say that Jesus first met the brothers at this time. So, there’s no contradiction, only a continuation of a deeper commitment/relationship (12 pp. 13,14; 18 pp. 23-33; 19 pp. 21-32).
Did the Capernaum centurion come personally to ask Jesus to heal his slave (Matt. 8:5), or did he send elders of the Jews and his friends (Lk. 7:3, 6)?
The centurion sent elders and friends on his behalf, as if it was he himself who went (1 NT, p. 222; 4 vol. 3, p. 373; 9 p. 375; 13 p. 395; 14 p. 65; 38 p. 89).
Notice in Lk. 7:6 that the centurion himself is represented in his friends when they speak, as if it was the centurion himself speaking (11 p. 98).
To say that one person or thing did something when it was actually another closely associated person, people, or thing who/that did it is called a metonymy, a figure of speech. We find other biblical examples of this: Jesus is said to be baptizing (Jn. 4:1) when it was actually His disciples who were the ones baptizing (Jn. 4:2). Pilate is said to have scourged Jesus (Jn. 19:1) when it was his soldier(s) who did it (Mk. 15:15, 16). King Solomon is said to have made/cast the furnishings for the temple (2 Chron. 4:1-2, 17-22) when it was actually Huram-abi who did it for Solomon (2 Chron. 2:13; 4:16). Israel is said to have rebuffed David (1 Kings 12:16) when they actually rebuffed his grandson Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:12-18). Ahab is said to be destroyed (2 Kings 10:17) when in actuality, it was Ahab’s relatives (10:7, 11, 17).
Was the man who Jesus saw sitting at the tax collector’s office whom He called to be His disciple named Matthew (Matt. 9:9) or Levi (Mk. 2:14; Lk. 5:27)?
Both! It was not unusual for people of this time to use more than one name. For example, Simon/Cephas was called Peter (Mk. 3:16). Saul was called Paul (Acts 13:9). Joseph is called Barnabas (Acts 4:36). Another Joseph was called both Barsabbas and Justus (Acts 1:23). And Thomas was called Didymus (Jn. 11:16).
Also, Luke calls Levi a publican/tax-gatherer in Lk. 5:27, while Matt. 10:3 calls Matthew the publican/tax man, thus giving added support that they are one in the same. Also, Mark calls this follower/disciple of Jesus, Levi in 2:14, by the name of Matthew in 3:18, as being one of Jesus’ disciples. And Luke calls this disciple of Jesus, Matthew in Lk. 6:15 and Acts 1:13, but Levi in Lk. 5:27 (1 NT, p. 113; 2 pp. 944, 992; 3 p. 914; 4 vol. 3, p. 67; 12 p. 23; 13 p. 422; 14 p. 72).
When Jesus met Jairus, had his daughter just died (Matt. 9:18), or was she at the point of death (Mk. 5:23)?
These two accounts along with Luke’s in 8:41-42, 49, give a more complete picture of what happened. Matthew’s account is merely a synopsis (a condensed statement presenting a combined view or summary of something – The Oxford English Dictionary and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language); whereas, Mark and Luke’s accounts give a fuller picture. So, initially Jairus’ daughter was at the point of death when Jairus first met Jesus, but then Jairus was informed by messengers from home of his daughter’s death (Mk. 5:35; Lk. 8:49) and it was so communicated to Jesus then (1 NT, p. 40; 2 p. 944; 3 p. 959).
Was the tenth disciple of Jesus in the list of twelve Thaddaeus (Matt. 10:1-4; Mk. 3:13-19) or Judas, son of James (Lk. 6:12-16)?
Both! It was not unusual for people of this time to use more than one name. For example, Simon/Cephas was called Peter (Mk. 3:16). Saul was called Paul (Acts 13:9). Joseph was called Barnabas (Acts 4:36). Another Joseph was called both Barsabbas and Justus (Acts 1:23). And Thomas was called Didymus (Jn. 11:16). So, for this point to be a contradiction, it would have to be proven that Thaddaeus was not Judas, son of James (2 p. 945; 3 p. 916; 12 p. 23; 13 p. 454; 14 p. 78; 26 p. 322).
Did Jesus allow (Mk. 6:8) or not allow (Matt. 10:9; Lk. 9:3) Hs disciples to keep a staff on their journey?
The Greek word used in Mk. 6:8 is airosen meaning take, while the Greek word used in Matt. 10:9 is ktesesthe meaning procure or acquire. So, what Mark is saying is that the disciples could take any staffs they already had, while Matthew is saying that they couldn’t procure/acquire by purchase or otherwise (Robinson, Lexicon of the New Testament) any extra items they didn’t already have (1 NT, p. 42; 2 p. 946; 3 p. 917; 12 p. 14; 13 p. 458; 14 p. 79).
Did (Jn. 1:32-34) or didn’t (Matt. 11:2-3) John the Baptist recognize Jesus after His baptism?
John the Baptist did recognize Jesus, as Jn. 1:29-36 makes abundantly clear. John did know that Jesus was God’s Son and the Redeemer. But like many Jews who were expecting the soon overthrow of the Roman government if and when the promised Messiah-king and judge came to set up His kingdom and judge wickedness and sin (e.g., Matt. 3:11-12; Jn. 1:49), John the Baptist began having doubts that Jesus was that One when these expectations didn’t yet happen, and he was now already in prison (Matt. 11:2-3). So, John did recognize Jesus, but circumstances and expectations caused him to lapse into some doubt, at least temporarily (1 NT, p. 43; 12 p. 15; 13 p. 483).
Was (Matt. 11:14; 17:10-13) or wasn’t (Jn. 1:19-21) John the Baptist the Elijah to come?
John the Baptist was Elijah the prophet to come, but only in spirit and power (Lk. 1:17), not literally or physically. The literal, physical Elijah is yet to come. But both (John the Baptist and the prophet Elijah) were preachers of repentance. Both were sudden in their appearance, the simplicity of their lives, the incisiveness of their messages, and had Spirit-filled lives (1 NT, pp. 60, 274; 2 pp. 960, 1074; 4 vol. 3, p. 496; 13 pp. 490, 491; 15 p. 94; 16 p. 20).
Did Jesus say everything openly (Jn. 18:20) or did He speak secretly to His disciples (Mk. 4:34; Matt. 13:10-11)?
It’s important to understand both the context as well as the gist of what Jesus is saying in these passages. First, in Jn. 18:19, the high priest is trying to determine whether Jesus is part of an insurrection or a secret cult/organization. Jesus responded by saying that He taught in public or openly for all to hear Him speak, and that He wasn’t teaching anything different (“nothing” is an ellipsis, meaning “nothing different”) in secret/private (like plots against the authorities). The text does not state that Jesus said “everything” openly, but that He “spoke openly”. So, there’s no contradiction (1 NT, p. 336; 2 p. 1115; 3 p. 1068; 4 vol. 3, p. 682).
Secondly, Mk. 4:1-34 shows that Jesus was speaking/teaching publicly to the crowds, but He privately explained His teachings to His disciples. So, there’s no contradiction. Rather, the problem is in the incorrect phrasing of the original question asked.
Did (Matt. 14:2; Mk. 6:16) or didn’t (Lk. 9:9) Herod think that Jesus was John the Baptist?
First, Herod did not say in Lk. 9:9 that he didn’t think that Jesus was John the Baptist. Rather, Herod simply asked a question. Then Herod answers his own question in Matt. 14 and/or Mk. 6 by saying that Jesus is John the Baptist raised from the dead ( 9 p. 475; 12 p. 14). So, there’s no contradiction.
Did (Matt. 14:5) or didn’t (Mk. 6:20) Herod want to kill John the Baptist?
Yes, Herod wanted to kill John the Baptist, as Matt. 14:5 states, but for a while he did not because he feared the multitude (Matt. 14:5) and because he was afraid of John (Mk. 6:20). Also, Mk. 6:20 does not state that Herod didn’t want John the Baptist killed. So, there’s no contradiction (4 vol. 3, p. 113).
When Jesus walked on water, did His disciples then worship Him (Matt. 14:33), or were they utterly astounded due to their hardened hearts (Mk. 6:51-52)?
Both! The disciples were initially frightened in both Gospel accounts (Matt. 14:26; Mk. 6:50). Then, after Jesus encourages them, gets into the boat, and the wind stops, His disciples are greatly astonished because their hearts were hardened (their minds were insensible/made dull/closed). But after this initial astonishment, their minds must have been opened to realize who Jesus was (as in Lk. 24:31), and so they worshipped Him (12 p. 32).
Did Simon Peter find out that Jesus was the Christ by a revelation from heaven (Matt. 16:17) or by his brother Andrew (Jn. 1:41)?
First, the Greek word apokalupto translated uncover or reveal is used in both a subjective and objective sense. Used subjectively, it means something is presented to the mind directly, as in Matt. 11:25, 27; 16:7; whereas, when used objectively, it means something is presented to the senses, such as sight or hearing, as in Gal. 3:23; Lk. 17:30 (25 p. 964). So, Peter had heard from his brother Andrew that Jesus was the Christ, but Peter understood this personally when God the Father made this information clear and convincing to Peter. So, there’s no contradiction. There’s a difference between finding out information and personally understanding that information through spiritual insight given by God. Just as a person can know about God through observing His creation (Rom. 1:19, 20) because God revealed Himself through this means, so a person can only really know God personally if Jesus reveals God the Father to that person (Matt. 11:27). (1 NT, p. 57; 2 p. 959; 12 p. 13; 14 p. 131).
Did Jesus ride into Jerusalem on one colt (Mk. 11:7; Lk. 19:35) or on a colt and adult donkey (Matt. 21:7)?
Mark, Luke, and John (12:14, 15) all agree that Jesus sat on the colt. So why does Matthew mention two animals? Even by looking at Matthew in isolation, we can see from the text that Jesus did not ride on 2 animals, but only on the colt. In 21:5, Matthew quotes two prophecies from Isa. 62:11 and Zech. 9:9 in which is found the phrase, “mounted upon a donkey, even upon a colt, the foal of a beast of burden. ” So, Jesus was mounted upon the colt, the foal of a donkey. It does not say, “upon a donkey and colt”, but “upon a donkey, even upon a colt”. Then in 21:7, it says, “and laid on them their garments, on which He sat”. The phrase “on which He sat” refers to the garments, not the donkey and colt. So, Jesus sat on the garments which were on the colt.
So why does Matthew say the colt and its mother were brought? Matthew, an eyewitness, emphasizes the immaturity of the colt, too young to be separated from its mother. As the colt had never been ridden, the probability was that it was still dependent on its mother. It would have made the entry into Jerusalem easier if the mother donkey were led along down the road, as the foal would naturally follow her, even though it had never before carried a rider and had not yet been trained to follow a roadway. So, there’s no contradiction (1 NT, p. 57; 2 p. 959; 4 vol. 3, p. 132; 12 p. 13; 14 p. 131).
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, did He cleanse the temple the same day (Matt. 21:12) or the next day (Mk. 11:1-17)?
It was the next day, as Mk. 11 records. But this is not a contradiction to Matt. 21 because Matthew often writes in a thematic or topical order and in a synoptic style rather than a strictly chronological order, which is more often characteristic of Mark and Luke. An example of Matthew’s thematic style is seen in chapter 13 with the 8 parables on the kingdom of heaven, and an example of his synoptic style is seen in his account of the death of Jairus’ daughter in 9:18, where Matthew condenses the event, leaving out some details. So, in his topical approach, Matthew includes the cleansing of the temple as if it was on the same day that Jesus entered Jerusalem, whereas, Mark followed strict chronological order (2 p. 966; 5 pp. 334, 335; 13 pp. 768, 773).
Did the fig tree that Jesus cursed wither at once (Matt. 21:19) or overnight (Mk. 11:20)?
As Mk. 11:20 states, it was the following morning after Jesus cleansed the temple that the disciples noticed that the tree, Jesus had cursed the previous morning, was withered. As stated before, Matthew tends to arrange his narrative in a topical order and/or synoptic style rather than a strictly chronological order that is more characteristic of Mark and Luke. Also, the word “immediately” can have a broader meaning to include the next day (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1981, p. 567). So, there is no contradiction.
Did Jesus move away from His disciples to pray 3 times (Matt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42) or just once (Lk. 22:39-46) while in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives?
Three times. Just because Luke does not mention the other 2 times does not mean that they didn’t happen. Luke does not state that Jesus didn’t pray 3 times. Luke includes in his account what was relevant to his purpose for writing. So, there’s no contradiction (12 p. 24).
When Jesus went away to pray while in the Garden of Gethsemane, were the words in His 2 prayers the same (Mk. 14:39) or different (Matt. 26:39, 42)?
In Mk. 14:39, the term “words” is the Greek word “logon” (which is in the singular form) from the word “logos”, and is translated as “message” nine times and as “speech” ten times in the NASB New Testament (New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, pp. 1449, 1664). Dr. L. Richards’ Expository Dictionary of Bible Words on page 634 states that the Greek term “logos” has many meanings, some of which are: speech, discourse, and subject matter. Drs. Vine, Unger, & White’s An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words on page 1241 states that the Greek word “logos” can mean “sayings”, “message”, “discourse”, or “speech”. And this is how the term “logon” is used in Mk. 14:39. Jesus said/prayed the same “word” or “discourse/message/speech/subject matter”, as Matt. 26:39, 42 rightly shows. The petition, gist, content, or subject matter is the same (1 NT, p. 180; 4 vol. 3, p. 319; 21p. 590). So, there’s no contradiction.
Did Jesus pray (Matt. 26:39; Mk. 14:36; Lk. 22:42) or not pray (Jn. 12:27) to the Father to prevent the crucifixion?
Jesus’ prayer in Matthew, Mark, and Luke takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane after the last supper, Passover meal, on early Friday (Matt. 26:20-39; Mk. 14:12-36; Lk. 22:1-42); whereas, Jesus’ prayer in John takes place way before the Passover supper (Jn. 12:12-27; 13:1, 2). So, there’s no contradiction since these are two different situations. And even in the 3 Gospel accounts, Jesus actually prays for God the Father’s will, even if it meant not preventing the crucifixion, which fits in with Jn. 12:27 anyway (12 p. 24). So, Jesus prayed both, in that sense.
Did (Matt. 26:48-50) or didn’t, because Judas couldn’t get close enough, (Jn. 18:3-12) Judas kiss Jesus?
Yes, Judas kissed Jesus (Matt. 26:49; Mk. 14:45). John does not either state or imply that Judas did not kiss Jesus or that he wasn’t able to get close enough to do so. Merely omitting a detail in a story that another writer includes does not mean the detail didn’t happen. That is common even among today’s reporters (12 p. 16).
Did Jesus appear to 12 disciples after His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:5) or was it to 11 (Matt. 27:3-5; 28:16; Mk. 16:14; Lk. 24:9, 33; Acts 1:9-26)?
Jesus appeared to “the twelve” disciples as that term/designation is used of His disciples. “The twelve” was their ordinary appellation (technical name – Lk. 22:3; Jn. 6:70; 20:24) even when their number was not full. Literally, however, Jesus only appeared to eleven of them. So, there’s no contradiction (3 p. 1221; 4 vol. 3, p. 1061; 29 p. 202; 30 p. 176; 39 p. 188).
Did Judas buy a field (Acts 1:18) with his blood-money for betraying Jesus, or did he throw it into the temple (Matt. 27:5)?
Though Judas himself did not personally buy a field, he did so “indirectly” through the priests who used Judas’ betrayal money in order to buy the field (Matt. 27:6, 7), apparently in Judas’ name. So, Judas bought it via the Jewish priests. This type of figure of speech is called a metonymy (where one person or thing closely associated with another is used in its place). Examples of this are seen in: Jn. 4:1, 2 where Jesus is spoken of in place of His disciples, or in 1 Kings 12:16, where David is spoken of in place of Rehoboam (12:12-17). Judas himself did, however, throw the money into the temple. So, there’s no contradiction (1 NT, p. 356; 2 p. 1126; 4 vol. 3, p. 723; 12 p. 20; 23 p. 16).
Did Judas die by hanging himself (Matt. 27:5) or by falling headlong and bursting open with all his bowels gushing out (Acts 1:18)?
Neither passage states how he technically died. They just state what happened to him, and both were true. Judas could very well have hung himself over a cliff, and either the rope or the tree branch broke so that he fell headlong to the rocks below and burst open. So there’s no contradiction (1 NT, p. 356; 12 p. 20; 23 p. 16; 26 p. 349).
Is the field called the “field of blood” because the priest bought it with blood money (Matt. 27:8) or because of Judas’ bloody death (Acts 1:19)?
It’s definitely because the field was bought with blood money, to which even Acts 1:18 agrees. Acts 1:19 does not clearly state that the field was so named because of Judas’ bloody death (4 vol. 3, p. 724; 12 p. 21).
Or, the field is so named by some for both reasons rather than for only the second reason (23 p. 17; 24 p. 45).
What was the exact wording on the cross: “This is Jesus the king of the Jews” (Matt. 27:37), or “The king of the Jews” (Mk. 15:26), or “This is the king of the Jews” (Lk. 23:38), or “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews” (Jn. 19:19)?
First, Jn. 19:19 tells us that Pilate (whose native language was Latin, but who also knew Greek, as the language he conversed in with all non-Italians in Palestine, but would scarcely have been able to write in either Hebrew or Aramaic) wrote the inscription. Second, Jn. 19:20 states that the sign was written in Hebrew/Aramaic, Latin, and Greek So, the variations of inscriptions could be from what each inscription said in the 3 different languages used, and/or from a synopsis or brachylogy (summary or shortened form) of what was written in any or all of the languages rather than an exact translation of any one of them (1 NT, pp. 89, 188; 2 p. 983; 5 p. 346; 15 p. 427).
Did Jesus say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” in Hebrew (Matt. 27:46) or in Aramaic (Mk. 15:34)?
Jesus most probably spoke the words in Aramaic (i.e., “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabakthani?”) because Aramaic was His mother tongue (as exemplified in: Mk. 5:41 “Talitha kum”; Jn. 1:42 “Cephas”; Mk. 3:17 “Boanerges”; Mk. 7:34 “Ephphtha” ; Mk. 14:36 “Abba”), because the word “sabakthani” is Aramaic (found in both Matt. & Mark’s accounts), and because one of the earliest Greek manuscripts of Matthew (Codex B or Vatican Codex) has Matt. 27:46 as saying “Eloi, Eloi” (Aramaic). Galileans, of whom Jesus was, were bilingual, speaking Aramaic and Greek (which was the “lingua franca” of the Greco-Roman world). And Aramaic was the common language of the Ancient Near East (1 NT, pp. 89, 126; 2 p. 1024; 14 p. 234; 40 p. 242).
So, the original autograph of Matthew probably had the Aramaic (“Eloi”). But if “Eli” (Hebrew) was in the original autograph of Matthew, then Matthew may have simply used this closely related Semitic language of Hebrew for the Aramaic (“Eloi”) for the sake of his Hebrew readers, as Jesus was basically quoting Psa. 22:1, which has “Eli, Eli”.
Or, a later scribe could have changed or copied incorrectly Matt. 27:46 so as to correlate it with the Hebrew word used in Psa. 22:1. In any case, the meaning is exactly the same, so there’s no contradiction.
Did Jesus die before (Matt. 27:50, 51; Mk. 15:37, 38) or after (Lk. 23:45, 46) the curtain of the temple was torn?
Actually, the curtain of the temple was torn at the same time as (simultaneously with) the death of Jesus (Matt. 27:50, 51; Mk. 15:37, 38). And just because Luke mentions Jesus’ death after he mentions the tearing of the curtain, it does not mean that Jesus died after the curtain was torn. The point Luke makes is that Jesus’ death was at the same time as the curtain’s tearing (1 NT, p. 90; 3 p. 947; 4 vol. 3, p. 247; 12 p. 17; 13 p. 974). This makes sense in light of Heb. 10:19, 20 and 9:3 because Jesus’ death blood opens the way of access to God, whose presence was in the Holy of Holies (for those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior). So, there’s no contradiction (2 p. 983; 3 p. 947; 4 p. 248; 14 p. 236).
Did the women visit the tomb “toward the dawn” (Matt. 28:1) or “when the sun had risen” (Mk. 16:2)?
Both! The women were on their way to the tomb toward the dawn (Matt. 28:1), and they actually arrived at the tomb when the sun had risen (Mk. 16:2). No contradiction (1 NT, p. 192; 2 p. 1025; 5 p. 347; 12 p. 27; 14 p. 399; 21 p. 678).
Did the women go to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices (Mk. 16:1; Lk. 23:55 – 24:1), or to see the tomb (Matt. 28:1), or for no reason (Jn. 20:1)?
This is a rather ridiculous “supposed contradiction”. The women obviously went to anoint Jesus’ body with spices, as Mark and Luke state. Just because John doesn’t specifically state a reason does not mean there was none. And the fact that Matthew states that the women went to look at the grave does not mean that they didn’t go to anoint Jesus’ body. If all four Gospels mentioned every detail exactly the same, then there would be no need to have four Gospels, one would suffice. Rather, each writer includes those details that are necessary to communicate what God wanted him to convey in terms of the purpose for each Gospel.
When the women arrived at the tomb, was the stone “rolled back” (Mk. 16:4), “rolled away” (Lk. 24:2), “taken away” (Jn. 20:1), or did they see an angel roll it away (Matt. 28:1-6)?
First of all, Matthew does not record that the women saw an angel roll away the stone. Rather, it was already rolled away before the women arrived, as John, Mark, and Luke all state. And the various expressions in John, Mark, and Luke regarding the stone all mean the same thing. The stone was taken away from the opening of the tomb by an angel rolling it back/away (12 p. 28). So, there’s no contradiction in the least.
In Matt. 28:2, 7; Mk. 16:5, 6; and Lk. 24:4, 5, 23, the women were told by either one or two angels that Jesus had risen from the dead, while in Jn. 20:2, Mary was not told.
First, it’s important to know that none of the Gospels give all the details of the resurrection period events. Some of the Gospels condense and/or eliminate various events, while others expand on an event. Second, a more complete picture is obtained by combining and harmonizing all four Gospels rather than seeing them as contradictions, which they aren’t. So, what happened? Well, the stone was rolled away by the angel who then sat on it while the guards shook for fear, became like dead men, but then the angel disappears and the guards leave to go back to Jerusalem (Matt. 28:1-4, 11). Then Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome come to the tomb and see the stone rolled away. They then look inside the tomb, but don’t see Jesus’ body (Mk. 16:1-4; Matt. 28:1; Lk. 24:1-3; Jn. 20:1). At this point, Mary Magdalene runs to tell Peter and the other disciples that somebody took Jesus’ body away and that they (these three women) didn’t know where Jesus’ body was laid (Jn. 20:2). Meanwhile, the other two women go into the tomb and see a young man/angel sitting there, who tells them that Jesus was risen and that they should go tell His disciples and Peter, and so they leave (Mk. 16:5-8). This took some time, and on their way, they meet Jesus (Matt. 28:5-9). After the two women leave, apparently Joanna and some other women arrive at the tomb, and two men/angels talk to them and tell these women to go and report Jesus’ resurrection to the eleven apostles and others (Lk. 24:4-10). Soon after, Peter and John come to the tomb and see it empty, and then go home (Jn. 20:3-10). Meanwhile, Magdalene returns, looks inside the tomb and sees two angels sitting where Jesus’ body once was. They talk to her, and then Jesus appears and talks to her and tells her to go make an announcement to His brethren, to which she does (Jn. 20:11-18; Mk. 16:9, 10). (19 pp. 204-207; 41 p. 484).
Did Mary Magdalene first meet the resurrected Jesus during her first visit (Matt. 28:9) or on her second visit (Jn. 20:11-17)? And how did she react?
First, it is important to know that none of the 4 Gospels give all the details of the resurrection period events. Some of the Gospels condense and/or eliminate various details or events, while others expand on them. So, a plausible explanation will be given to show that no contradiction needs to exist.
Matt. 28:9 does not say that Magdalene is included in this encounter. More than likely, it was just Mary the mother of James and Salome because Magdalene had already left the other two women in order to tell Peter about the empty tomb (Jn. 20:1-2) so that she did not meet the resurrected Jesus during her first visit to the tomb. Rather, it’s when Magdalene returns to the tomb (following Peter and John’s visit to the empty tomb) that she meets Jesus (Jn. 20:3-17). And Magdalene’s second visit to the empty tomb precedes Jesus’ appearance to Mary the mother of James and Salome in Matt. 28:9 based on Mk. 16:9, where it states that Jesus first appeared to Magdalene. Since Jesus did not appear to Magdalene in her first visit to the empty tomb, the second question, regarding her reaction, becomes moot (12 p. 28; John Wenham, Easter Enigma, Paternoster Press, 1996).
Did Jesus instruct His disciples to wait for Him in Galilee (Matt. 28:10) or that He was ascending to His Father and God (Jn. 20:17)?
Both! The two passages mentioned above occur at two different points of time during that resurrection Sunday. The Matt. 28 passage was to the women, Mary the mother of James and Salome, who were on their way to talk to Jesus’ disciples, while the Jn. 20 passage was to just Mary, who was by herself by the empty tomb. Also, Jesus does not mention when His ascension to His Father would be. So, Jesus instructs both, which are not contradictory.
Upon Jesus’ instructions, did the disciples return to Galilee immediately (Matt. 28:16) or after at least 40 days (Lk. 24:33, 49; Acts 1:3-4)?
Neither! According to Lk. 24:10-13, 15, 29, 33, the disciples were still in Jerusalem (because of their unbelief) the day after Jesus’ instructions, via the women (Matt. 28:7; Mk. 16:7), to go to Galilee were given to them (Matt. 28:10; Mk. 16:9-14; Lk. 24:6-11; Jn. 20:19). And the disciples are still in Jerusalem eight days later (Jn. 20:24-26). It is some time after this (whether a day or a couple of weeks), because they are now convinced of Jesus’ resurrection due to His appearances to them, that they go to Galilee (Matt. 28:16; Jn. 21:1-2, 21). Some time shortly after this, they return to Jerusalem, where Jesus tells them to not leave Jerusalem until they receive the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 1:3-4; Lk. 24:50-52). So, there’s no contradiction (5 pp. 354, 355).
Did Jesus go immediately to the desert after His baptism (Mk. 1:12-13), or did He first go to Galilee, see disciples, and attend a wedding (Jn. 1:35, 43; 2:1-11)?
Jesus went immediately into the desert after His baptism, as Mark 1 describes. The passages in John’s Gospel are not the immediate chronology of what happened after Jesus’ baptism. Rather, this section in the apostle John’s Gospel about Jesus’ baptism (Jn. 1:29-34) is really part of John the Baptist’s answer/testimony as to who he (the Baptist) was, as seen in 1:19. John the Baptist is referring to the event of the baptism in the “past”. Look at the past tense verbs used by John the Baptist when he sees Jesus coming toward him in verses 29, 30, 32. While watching Jesus, John the Baptist relates (to those who were listening) the event of the baptism and its significance. There is no reason to believe that the baptism was actually taking place at the time that John the Baptist was speaking, and therefore, no reason to imply that this passage contradicts that of Mark’s Gospel (4 vol. 3, pp. 497-499; 12 p. 32; 15 pp. 98-100; 16 pp. 22-24; 18 20-23; 19 pp. 19-21).
Was Jesus crucified on the daytime after the Passover meal (Mk. 14:12-17) or the daytime before the Passover meal (Jn. 13:1, 30, 29; 18:28; 19:14)?
Jesus was crucified on the daytime after the Passover meal (Mk. 14:12-17; Matt. 26:17, 21; 27:50; Lk. 22:7, 15; 23:46). The first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, is referring to Thursday (Josephus, Antiquities II. 15:1 and 37 p. 354) beginning on the day of the Passover, Nisan 14. The Passover lambs would have been killed in the late afternoon, Thursday (Ex. 12:6) and the Passover meal eaten between sundown and midnight at the beginning of Nisan 15, or Thursday evening modern/Roman time, which is the beginning of Friday Jewish time. A new day starts at sunset by Jewish time-keeping; whereas, midnight starts a new day by Roman or modern time. The chronology of events in the Gospels is complicated partly because these two systems of reckoning time were in use (1 NT, p. 174; 2 p. 1019; 4 vol. 3, p. 315; 10 pp. 551, 656, 659; 14 p. 381; 31 p. 566).
In Jn. 13:1, 2, “the supper” referred to is the Passover supper (on Thursday night modern or Roman time, or the beginning of Friday, Jewish time – 4 vol. 3, p. 629; 10 p. 659; 15 p. 225), and the Passover supper is already taking place, 13:2, 4. In Jn. 13:29, “the feast” refers to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which begins after the Passover meal and lasts for a week – Lev. 23:5-8; Num. 28:16, 17; Deut. 16:1-8 (16 p. 245). The Old Testament calls the Passover a feast of 7 days (Ezek. 45:21), and Lk. 22:1 applies the name Passover to the entire 7 day feast of unleavened bread. So, “the feast” is the feast of Passover, the entire 7 day celebration, e.g., Jn. 2:23; 4:45; 6:4; 7:37; 11:56; 12:12 (15 pp. 226, 227, 248). The Feast of Unleavened Bread, which followed immediately the Passover meal/supper, lasted 7 days and is also called the Passover or the Feast of the Passover (37 pp. 352-356). Jesus dies, is crucified, on Friday, the “preparation day” (Mk. 15:42; Lk. 23:54; Jn. 19:14, 31, 42). “Preparation Day” has long been the regular term for “Friday” in the Greek language (10 p. 660; 15 p. 225).
In Jn. 18:28, “the Passover” refers to the 7 days’ feast of the unleavened loaves and especially to the sacrificial meals eaten during the feast (Ezek. 45:21; 2 Chron. 30:21, 22). The feast as a whole was at that time currently designated by the people as “the feast of the Passover” or merely “the Passover” (e.g., Lk. 22:1). The “Passover” in this verse does not refer to the Passover meal/supper, as it does in 13:2 (4 vol. 3, p. 684; 10 pp. 661-663; 15 p. 402; 16 p. 291; 42 pp. 565-568). In Jn. 19:14, the phrase “day of preparation for the Passover” refers to Friday of Passover Week, and the day before the Sabbath/Saturday of Passover Week (see also vv. 31, 42; Mk. 15:42; Lk. 23:54 for the same use of the Greek word “paraskeue” for “Friday”). When the apostle John wrote this Gospel, the Greek term was already the technical term used to indicate “Friday”. It is the name for “Friday” today in Greece. So, the “Passover” in this verse is not referring to the Passover supper/meal, but the Passover Week of feasts or the Passover Sabbath. The “sixth hour” is Roman time for 6 AM by our modern time (1 NT, p. 339; 3 p. 1071; 4 vol. 3, p. 691; 5 pp. 375, 376; 10 p. 664; 15 p. 420; 16 p. 299).
Did Peter deny Christ three times before the cock crowed (Jn. 13:38) or three times before the cock crowed twice (Mk. 14:30, 72)?
If Peter denied Christ three times before the cock crowed (and he did, Jn. 13:38; Matt. 26:74; Lk. 22:60), then he obviously did it before the cock crowed twice. Mark simply adds an extra detail (about crowing twice) that the other writers didn’t include, but that does not make it a contradiction (5 p. 339). As for “the cock crowing” in Mk. 14:68 in the King James translation, that incident is not found/recorded in many of the early manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark, and is, therefore, not found in the New American Standard Bible translation (2 p. 1022; 14 p. 389). The phrase about “a cock crowing” in 14:68 was probably added erroneously by a later scribe (12 p. 17; 14 p. 389).
But even if 14:68 did contain the words “and a cock crowed” in the original autograph of Mark, it still wouldn’t be a contradiction, if one realizes that the word “cockcrow” was a proverbial expression for “early morning before sunrise”, 3 AM, the end of the third watch of the night, Jn. 13:35 (1 NT, p. 179; 2 p. 1018; 14 p. 383; 21 pp. 580, 619). And Peter’s three denials would have happened before sunrise even if a cock had crowed once before his 3rd denial and a second time after Peter’s 3rd denial. So, Peter’s three denials would happen before sunrise, and the “cockcrowing” would be taken figuratively in one sense (meaning “predawn”) and literally in another sense (meaning “before the second crowing”). (1 NT, p. 184; 2 p. 1020; 21 pp. 618, 619).
Did (Mk. 15:32) or didn’t (Lk. 23:39-42) the two thieves crucified with Jesus mock Him?
This seeming contradiction can be explained away in one of two ways. First, the word “those” in Mk. 15:32 is a synecdoche referring to just “one” thief. A synecdoche is a figure of speech, where a more comprehensive or inclusive term is used for a less comprehensive or inclusive term – The Oxford English Dictionary. An example of this is found in Matt. 22:19-21, where the word “things” (plural) refers to “one” coin (singular) with Caesar’s inscription on “it” (4 vol. 3, pp. 325, 478). Or, secondly, both of the thieves initially mocked Jesus, but then one of them had a change of heart/mind and repented, as evidenced by: his defending Jesus, admission of his own sin, and then Jesus’ comment about this thief being with Him in Paradise, Lk. 23:41-43 (1 NT, p. 189; 3 p. 1022; 4 vol. 3, p. 478; 9 p. 1031; 11 p. 286; 12 p. 18).
Was Jesus on the cross (Mk. 15:33) or in Pilate’s court (Jn. 19:14) at the sixth hour on the day of the crucifixion?
Both! Jesus was on the cross at the sixth hour by the Hebrew system of time (which is noon by modern or Roman time), and He was in Pilate’s court at the sixth hour by the Roman/modern system of time (which is 6 AM by our modern or Roman time system).
Matthew, Mark, and Luke used a different system of numbering the hours of the day (which was the traditional Hebrew system, where the hours were numbered from sunrise, approximately 6 AM in modern time, or their first hour, thus making the crucifixion to begin at about 9 AM modern time or the 3rd hour Hebrew time) than John used. John used the Roman civil day system of time, where the day is from midnight to midnight, as we do today. Pliny the Elder describes the Roman civil day as such (Natural History 2.77) as does Macrobius (Saturnalia 1.3). So, by John’s Roman civil time, Jesus’ trial was in its end stages by the sixth hour (6 AM), which is the same as the first hour, Hebrew time, as used by Mark. John’s reason for using Roman time is because he wrote his Gospel from Ephesus, the capital of the Roman province of Asia, in around AD 90, which was several years after the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written. By living in Ephesus, John would have been used to using Roman time. Further evidence of John using Roman time is found in 20:19, where he records, “When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week,…” This was Sunday evening, the day of Jesus’ resurrection. In Hebrew time, it was already Monday, as the Hebrew day ends at sunset and the next day immediately begins (37 p. 1098). So, the “evening on that first day” in Jn. 20:19 would have to be talking about Roman civil time, not Hebrew time (1 NT, pp. 188, 189, 339; 2 p. 1023; 4 vol. 3, p. 691; 5 p. 364; 12 p. 18; 15 p. 421; 16 p. 299).
When Jesus dies, did the centurion say that Jesus was innocent (Lk. 23:47), or that He was the Son of God (Mk. 15:39)?
Both! These passages are not contradictory, but complementary. Nowhere in any of the Gospel narratives do the writers state that what the centurion said was the only thing that he said and nothing else. So, the centurion apparently said both things, and Luke records one of them and Mark records the other (5 pp. 346, 347; 9 p. 1037).
Was Jesus’ body wrapped in spices before burial in accordance with Jewish burial customs (Jn. 19:39-40), or did the women come and administer the spices later (Mk. 16:1)?
Both! Jesus’ body was wrapped in spices before burial in accordance with Jewish burial customs, and the women added extra spices to those that were already there, as a final act of devotion. Since Jesus died around the ninth hour (Mk. 15:34-37), there was plenty of time for Joseph and Nicodemus to perform the burial process quickly before the Sabbath began. The women, on the other hand, performed the extra/added anointing, not done by Joseph and Nicodemus. So, there’s no contradiction, only two different aspects of the whole, continued event (1 NT, p. 263; 3 p. 1075; 4 vol. 3, p. 327; 5 p. 347; 12 p. 27; 14 p. 399; 21 p. 678).
Did the women buy the spices after (Mk. 16:1) or before (Lk. 23:55 – 24:1) the Sabbath?
Both! The women prepared what spices and perfume they had before the Sabbath (it doesn’t say when they bought these, Lk. 23:56), and then Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought (apparently still more needed) spices after the Sabbath (Mk. 16:1) for the purpose of anointing Jesus’ body on Sunday (9 p. 1048; 10 p. 619; 11 p. 290; 14 p. 399; 32 p. 362).
Did Jesus ascend to Paradise the same day of the crucifixion (Lk. 23:43) or two days later (Jn. 20:17)?
First, Jesus ascended to Paradise in spirit the same day He died (Lk. 23:46), and then a few days later, He said that He was ascending to the Father (Jn. 20:17, obviously in Paradise/heaven), but this time Jesus would ascend in His resurrection body, as He did in Acts 1:9-11. So, there’s no contradiction (12 p. 19).
Were the last words that Jesus spoke before He died, “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit” (Lk. 23:46), or “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30)?
John’s Gospel doesn’t say that Jesus immediately died upon making this “It is finished!” statement or that these were Jesus’ last words; whereas, Lk. 23:46 does imply both. So, Luke’s account would contain Jesus’ final words. Neither Gospel contains all the details, but are rather complementary, not contradictory. Apparently, Jesus said, “It is finished” followed soon or immediately thereafter with, “Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit” (1 NT, p. 340; 3 p. 1074; 15 p. 435; 16 p. 304).
Apart from Jesus, was there no one else (Jn. 3:13), or were there others (2 Kings 2:11) who ascended to heaven?
Jesus does not mean that no one has ever literally ascended to heaven. The context of verses 11 and 12 show what Jesus means here. Jesus is saying that no one has ever ascended into heaven to see and know first hand the heavenly things that Jesus was bearing witness to and then come back to speak about them. This sentence construction is called an ellipsis, where a thought is cut short in writing because its meaning is understood from the context. Both the Bible as well as our everyday conversations are filled with such elliptical expressions (1 NT, p. 281; 3 p. 1031;4 vol. 3, p. 512; 12 p. 27; 15 p. 137; 16 p. 49).
Is Jesus’ testimony not true (Jn. 5:31) or true (Jn. 8:14) when He bears witness to Himself?
This is not a contradiction, but two angles of responses that deal with a similar situation. In Jn. 5:31, Jesus is saying that if He bore witness to Himself, His witness alone would not be accepted/admissible as legal proof by the Jewish authorities (e.g., Matt. 18:16; Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Jn. 8:17). It would not be true in the minds of doubting, skeptical judges. In Jn. 8:14, however, Jesus is saying that though these Pharisees don’t believe His witness/testimony as true; nonetheless, it is correct or factual whether or not they believe it. Jesus is trying to explain two different points by His answers (1 NT, p. 291; 4 vol. 3, p. 538; 15 p. 206; 16 p. 88).
Did the voice tell Paul what he was to do on the spot (Acts 26:16-18), or was he commanded to go to Damascus to be told what to do (Acts 9:6; 22:10)?
Paul was commanded to go to Damascus to be told what to do (Acts 9:6; 22:10). Acts 26:16-18 does not say that Paul was told what to do on the spot. In Acts 26, the context is different. In this chapter, Paul doesn’t worry about the chronological order or geographical order of events because he is talking to someone (king Agrippa) who was already familiar with his story (26:26). And Paul doesn’t need to refer to Ananias as he did in Acts 22:14 because there Paul was appealing to orthodox Jews. Here in Acts 26, Paul eliminates the human agency (Ananias) and attributes his instructions directly to the Lord. This is a common form of story-telling known as synopsis (a condensed version of a more detailed event). So, there’s no contradiction (2 p. 1172; 4 vol. 3, pp. 907, 908; 12 p. 19; 24 p. 466).
When Paul was on the road to Damascus, he saw a light and heard a voice. Did those who were with him hear the voice (Acts 9:7) or not (Acts 22:9)?
In the original Greek, there is no contradiction. Greek makes a distinction between hearing a sound as a noise (akouontes men tes phones – in which case the verb “to hear” takes the genitive case – Acts 9:7) and hearing a voice as a thought-conveying message (ten de phonen ouk ekousan – in which case it takes the accusative case – Acts 22:9). So, Paul’s companions heard the voice as a sound, but they did not hear the message that it articulated; they did not understand the voice (1 NT, p. 376; 2 p. 1140; 3 p. 1093; 4 vol. 3, p. 780; 5 p. 382; 23 p. 118; 24 p. 185; 25 p. 534; 26 p. 359).
When Paul saw the light and fell to the ground, did his traveling companions fall (Acts 26:14) or not fall (Acts 9:7) to the ground?
Acts 26:14 states that the initial falling to the ground occurred when the light flashed around, before the voice was heard. Acts 9:7 says the men “stood speechless” after the voice had spoken. There would be ample time for the men to stand up while the voice was speaking to Saul, especially as it had no significance or meaning to them. Saul, on the other hand, understood the voice and its convicting message, and evidently kept him on the ground (24 p. 185; 26 p. 359). Or, the Greek word “histemi” (Acts 9:7) can also mean “fixed”, besides “stood”, as it does in Acts 17:31, and so the men who fell were “fixed “ to the ground speechless. They didn’t have to be upright on their feet (26 p. 359; 27 p. 211; 28 p. 1657).
Are we to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), or are we to bear only our own burdens (Gal. 6:5)?
Both the context as well as the Greek words used in both verses for the English word “burden” show that we are to do both and that there’s no contradiction. First, the Greek word in 6:2 is “barē”, meaning “heavy, crushing, oppressive burdens”, and in context, it refers to temptations, trials, and spiritual failures. And secondly, the Greek word in 6:5 is “phortion”, meaning a “backpack” or “load”, and in context, it refers to personal responsibilities or life work. So, we are to help other Christians with their heavy, oppressive trials and afflictions, while being diligent to carry out our own personal responsibilities that we are quite capable of doing (1 NT, pp. 609, 610; 4 vol. 3, p. 1116; 31 pp. 232-235).
Is the law of Moses useful (2 Tim. 3:16) or not (Heb. 7:18)?
First, 2 Tim. 3:16 was written for Christians (like Timothy), and therefore, all Scripture is profitable for teaching so that the Christian/man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. Second, the law of Moses was specifically given/written for the Israelites to keep/obey (Ex. 19:1-6; 20:2, 22; 21:1; 24:3; Lev. 26:13-16; 19:1-5; Deut. 5:1-3; 2 Kings 21:8; Neh. 8:1; Mal. 4:4) and not necessarily for everyone in the world (e.g., Deut. 14:21) to have to follow. Third, the law of Moses was meant to be temporary and was to end with the death of Jesus Christ (Jer. 31:31-32; Heb. 8:6-13; 10:1-9; 7:11-20; Lk. 16:16; Eph. 2:13-16; Gal. 3:16-19; Rom. 10:4; 7:4, 6). Therefore, Christians can learn from the Old Testament and the law of Moses various lessons to profit by (e.g., 1 Cor. 10:1-11), including the fact that the law of Moses could never redeem/save anyone spiritually or give them eternal life in heaven (Heb. 7:18-19; 10:10-14; Rom. 8:1-4). The Law, which included the regulations for the Levitical priesthood, stated that all Jewish priests had to be descendants of Levi. But the Levitical priesthood was imperfect and useless to make perfect (Heb. 7:11-19). Only Jesus Christ could do that, and did, and He wasn’t a descendant of Aaron, but from Judah. So, the law of Moses is useful to teach lessons, but it is useless to make perfect, to spiritually save/redeem/give eternal life in heaven to anyone in and of itself. Only faith in Jesus Christ as Savior can grant those benefits (Jn. 14:6; 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; Acts 4:12). (1 NT, p. 798; 3 p. 1416; 4 vol. 3, p. 1258; 12 pp. 21, 22; 43 p. 136).
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- J. Smith, A. Chowdhry, T. Jepson, & J. Schaeffer, “101 ‘Clear’ Contradictions Cleared Up”.
- Dr. W. Hendriksen, NTC – The Gospel of Matthew.
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- Dr. L. Morris, Tyndale NT. Commentary Series – Luke.
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