Dealing With Alleged Bible Contradictions 

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Several of the atheists, agnostics, and pagans that I have studied with have informed me that one reason why they reject the Bible is because of alleged Bible contradictions. It is claimed that the Bible has numerous contradictions, which show that it cannot be the Word of God.  

In this article, I would like to share with you several ways to adequately deal with ALLEGED Bible contradictions.  

The truth is, there have been no contradictions found within the Bible, and when we consider the sheer magnitude of the breadth and width of Scripture, this highlights even more forcefully the fact that the Bible is the Word of God.

Indeed, I would argue that the supernatural unity of the Bible is one of the strongest evidences that the Bible is truly the inspired complete and final revelation of God to mankind (as it claims-2 Timothy 3:16-17).  

Putting The Matter In Context 
When I study with skeptics of the Bible, I approach them with a simple argument that goes like this:

 If the Bible constrains traits which may only be explained by Divine inspiration, then the Bible is the Word of God.  

The Bible does contain traits which may only be explained by Divine inspiration.  

Therefore, it is the case that the Bible is the Word of God.  

There are, of course, several evidences which may be adduced to prove the truthfulness of this argument (scientific foreknowledge of the Bible writers, prophecy and fulfillment, archaeological confirmation, miraculous attestation, etc.).

In this article, I want to suggest that one of the strongest evidences that the Bible is God’s Word is found in its’ incredible unity.  

The Bible is a Book of 66 Books, written by at least forty different writers over a period of time spanning some 1600 years. These men lived during times, and wrote in three different languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic). Some lived in times of peace, and some in times of war. Some lived during times of terrible famine, some in times of great abundance. Some were married, some were single; some had children, some were childless. Their occupations spanned that of author, prophet, priest, apostle, king, shepherd, cupbearer, scholar, scribe, and prince. 

Despite all of these incredibly diverse circumstances, these writers wrote with a singleness of thought and unity that such may only be explained by Divine inspiration. 

“The same person, Jesus Christ, is the central theme of the Bible: it is about Him. It builds to His coming, describes it, and interprets what it means. The golden thread is the redemption of sinful man by the grace of God through faith in the shed blood of the Redeemer. Keep in mind that no human publisher commissioned the writing of such a book. No editor set forth a plan; no editorial committee oversaw its development; no one distributed an outline to the different authors. Despite these facts, there is every sort of literature in the Bible, including prose and poetry; history and law; biography and travel; genealogies, theologies, and philosophies. And somehow, all of these elements combine to provide an incredible unity from Genesis to Revelation.1 Suppose that forty different artists were to paint a picture without having any idea what the others might be doing—or that others were doing anything at all. Imagine someone collecting these pieces and arranging them all upon a huge wall, and the result was a perfect picture that displayed all the features of Jesus Christ. Or suppose that forty different sculptors, without any knowledge of what the others were doing, each decided to create a piece of sculpture. And when the pieces were brought together, they formed an exquisite statue of Christ. These outcomes are incomprehensible, yet the Bible is a greater accomplishment by far. No other book in all the world has ever been made in this way. Having written a number of books, I know what publishers and editors and editorial committees do. None of this process was involved in writing the Bible. But we see in this book an incredible unity that testifies that the hand that made this book is divine. Writer James C. Hefley says, “The sixty-six books are a perfect whole, a purposeful revelation, a progressive proof that the Bible is more than the work of fallible men.”2 (D. James Kennedy & Jerry Newcombe, What If The Bible Had Never Been Written? 181-194 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers)

One of my instructors from West Virginia School of Preaching (and my childhood preacher) quoted another author, who provided this illustration:

“If a forty piece orchestra should suddenly begin to play-in perfect timing, melody, and harmony-it would be evidence of direction by a single mind. If forty archers, in forty different places, widely separated by time, should shoot their arrows and all hit the same target “dead-center” it would be evidence of (proof of) direction by a single mind. If forty men-widely separated in geography, with varied backgrounds, and living over a period of sixteen hundred years-should each write down a few lines, and these lines when brought together constituted a beautiful poem, it would be evidence of direction by a single mind. Because of its marvelous and otherwise inexplicable unity, we believe that the Bible came from God—that it is miraculously inspired and is divine authority.” (Roy Denver, Roy Deaver, quoted by Charles Pugh III, Why I am a Christian (New Martinsville, WV), 42). 

The supernatural unity of the Bible is one of the strongest evidences that the Bible is the Word of God.  

What, then, shall we make of the contention that the Bible is riddled through with contradictions?

Before we look at some general principles which may used to discredit alleged contradictions in the Bible text, we need to first understand what a contradiction actually is.

As strange as this may sound, one of the reasons so many believe that the Bible contains contradictions is because they do not actually understand what a contradiction is.  

Ham has provided this excellent working definition of contradictions:

“But what constitutes a contradiction? Most alleged biblical contradictions are not even “apparent” contradictions because there is no necessary conflict between the two propositions….A contradiction is a proposition and its negation (symbolically written, “A and not A”) at the same time and in the same relationship. The law of non-contradiction states that a contradiction cannot be true: “It is impossible to have A and not A at the same time and in the same relationship.” The last part of this definition is crucially important.” (Ken Ham, Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Volume One-Exploring Forty Alleged Contradictions, 13 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books). 

As such, the Bible apologist needs only to show that the passages which form the alleged contradiction may actually be harmonized. When that is accomplished, the alleged contradiction vanishes.  

“Again, the apologist does not have to know the exact solution to an alleged contradiction; he need only show one or more possibilities of harmonization. We act by this principle in the courtroom, in our treatment of various historical books, as well as in everyday life situations. It is only fair, then, that we show the Bible the same courtesy by exhausting the search for possible harmony between passages before pronouncing one or both accounts false.” (Eric Lyons, The Anvil Rings: Answers To Alleged Bible Discrepancies: Volume 1, 11; Montgomery, Alabama; Apologetics Press)

Let’s notice several principles which are important in dealing with alleged Bible contradictions.  

First: Look At The Language Of A Passage

One of the most common examples of alleged contradictions in the Bible is found in the fact that people often do not consider the original languages of the Scriptures. Why is this important?  

In explaining why he uses so many different translations of the Bible in his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren has pointed out:

“First, no matter how wonderful a translation is, it has limitations. The Bible was originally written using 11,280 Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words, but the typical English translation uses only around 6,000 words. Obviously, nuances and shades of meaning can be missed, so it is always helpful to compare translations.”. (Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? 4710 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

The fact is, the Bible languages are incredibly rich and are full of shades of meaning that we can often ignore or overlook in our studies of the Word of God. This is a huge mistake, and the fact is, many alleged contradictions may be cleared up by studying the original languages of the Bible. Notice several examples.  

Wine Or No Wine? 

Many claim that the Bible contradicts itself because it teaches that Christians should abstain from alcohol and other intoxicating substances (Proverbs 23:29-35; Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 5:18).

Yet we are also told that Jesus Himself made wine from water at the wedding feast (John 2:1-11)!

How could Jesus make alcoholic wine when the Bible clearly indicated that such was condemned by God?  

The answer, of course, lies in realizing that the word “wine” in the Bible often had reference to simple grape-juice and not fermented drink. For example:

Isaiah 16:10-Gladness is taken away, And joy from the plentiful field; In the vineyards there will be no singing, Nor will there be shouting; No treaders will tread out wine in the presses; I have made their shouting cease.

Isaiah 65:8-Thus says the LORD: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, For a blessing is in it,’ So will I do for My servants’ sake, That I may not destroy them all.

Jeremiah 40:10-As for me, I will indeed dwell at Mizpah and serve the Chaldeans who come to us. But you, gather wine and summer fruit and oil, put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken.”

Jeremiah 48:33-Joy and gladness are taken From the plentiful field And from the land of Moab; I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses; No one will tread with joyous shouting—Not joyous shouting!

Even more revealing is the fact that there were several words in the Hebrew and Greek which are translated by our English word “wine.”

These words can have reference to either fermented or unfermented wine, depending on the context in which the word is found. One scholar has well pointed out:

“Most modern English dictionaries define the word “wine” as the fermented juice of grapes. For example, the seventh edition of the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “wine” as follows: “fermented grape juice containing varying percentages of alcohol.” No mention at all is made in this current definition of unfermented grape juice as one of the possible meanings of “wine.” Classical dual meaning. This restrictive meaning of “wine” represents, however, a departure from the more classical dual meaning of the word as a designation for both fermented and unfermented grape juice. To verify this fact one needs only to consult some older dictionaries. For example, the 1955 Funk & Wagnalls New “Standard” Dictionary of the English Language defines “wine” as follows: “1. The fermented juice of the grape: in loose language the juice of the grape whether fermented or not.” This definition shows that forty years ago the loose usage of “wine” referred to “the juice of the grape whether fermented or not.” The dual meaning of “wine” is clearly given in older English dictionaries. For example, the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “must” as “new wine—wine pressed from the grape, but not fermented.” 1 Benjamin Marin’s Lingua Britannica Reformata or A New English Dictionary, published in 1748, defines “wine” as follows: “1. the juice of the grape. 2. a liquor extracted from other fruits besides the grape. 3. the vapours of wine, as wine disturbs his reason.” 2 It is noteworthy that here the first meaning of “wine” is “the juice of the grape,” without any reference to fermentation. The past dual meanings of wine suggest that when the King James Version of the Bible was produced (1604-1611) its translators must have understood “wine” to refer to both fermented and unfermented wine. In view of this fact, the King James Version’s uniform translation of the Hebrew yayin and Greek onios as “wine” was an acceptable translation at that time, since in those days the term could mean either fermented or unfermented wine, just as the words it translates (yayin or oinos) can mean either….Examples of the dual usage of oinos abound in secular Greek. A clear example is provided by Aristotle (384-322 B.C.). In his book Meteorologica, he clearly refers to “grape juice” or “must” (gleukos), as one of the kinds of wine: “For some kinds of wine [oinos], for example must [gleukos], solidify when boiled.” 6 In another passage of the same book, Aristotle refers to a sweet grape beverage (glukus) which “though called wine [oinos], it has not the effect of wine, for it does taste like wine and does not intoxicate like ordinary wine.” 7 In this text Aristotle explicitly informs us that unfermented grape juice was called “oinos—wine,” though it did not have the taste or the intoxicating effect of ordinary wine. Athenaeus, the Grammarian (about A.D. 200), explains in his Banquet that “the Mityleneans have a sweet wine [glukon oinon], what they called prodromos, and others call it protropos.” 8 Later on in the same book, he recommends this sweet, unfermented wine (protropos) for the dyspeptic: “Let him take sweet wine, either mixed with water or warmed, especially that kind called protropos, the sweet Lesbian glukus, as being good for the stomach; for sweet wine [oinos] does not make the head heavy.” 9 Here the unfermented sweet wine is called “lesbian” because its alcoholic potency had been removed. The methods by which this was done will be discussed later….As in Greek so in Hebrew the term for “wine” (yayin) was used to refer to either fermented or unfermented wine. The Jewish Encyclopedia explains that “Fresh wine before fermenting was called ‘yayin mi-gat’ (wine of the vat; Sanh 70a).” 14 The Halakot Gedalot, which is the earliest Jewish compen-dium of the Talmud, says: “One may press out a cluster of grapes and pronounce the Kiddush over the juice, since the juice of the grape is considered wine [yayin] in connection with the laws of the Nazirite.”…The above survey indicates that the four related words—wine in English, vinum in Latin, oinos in Greek and yayin in Hebrews have been used historically to refer to the juice of the grape, whether fermented or unfermented. This conclusion will become clearer in the next chapter, where we shall examine some of the reasons that the Bible disapproves of fermented wine but approves of unfermented grape juice.” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, Wine In The Bible: A Biblical Study On The Use Of Alcoholic Beverages, 124-225 (Kindle Edition); Biblical Perspectives)

Saved By Works Or Not?

Consider another example of how studying the original languages of the Bible can clear up alleged contradictions, regarding the subject of faith and works.  

Repeatedly we are told in the Bible that we are not saved by faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:3-8; Romans 4:1-4), yet a host of other Scripture make it clear that we are saved by faith and by works (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; Acts 10:34-35; Romans 1:5; 2:3-12; James 2:14-26; Hebrews 5:8-9).  

So, which is it? Are we saved by faith, or by works?  

Is there a contradiction here?  

Not at all!  

When we go back and study the original languages of the Bible, we quickly learn that the entire concept of “belief” and “faith” in Scripture carried the idea of obedience. For example:

“Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament gives this definition of pisteuo when used of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus: “A conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah-the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, CONJOINED WITH OBEDIENCE to Christ.”… James M. Whiton abridged Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon, and under pisteuo gives these possible meanings: “To believe, trust in, put faith in, confide in, rely on a person or thing.-2. To believe, COMPLY, OBEY.” Bultmann has the article on pisteuo in Kittel’s Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament. After giving a history of the use of the word in the Old Testament, he outlines its use in the New Testament. “II. General Usage: 1. The Continuation of the Old Testament and Jewish Tradition: a. pisteuo as to Believe; b. as to OBEY; C. as to Trust; d. as to Hope; e. as Faithfulness.”… The Lexicons reflect the idea advanced earlier in this study that any of the elements of pisteuo (knowledge, assent, confidence, obedience) may be emphasized, and that the context or the construction (certain prepositional phrases) in which it appears will often determine the exact meaning.” (Gareth Reese, Acts: New Testament History, 600-601 (emphasis added, M.T.); Joplin, Missouri; College Press)&nbsp
The famous Bible scholar and linguist, William Barclay, pointed out:

“But belief goes even further than that. We believe that God is Father and that God is love, because we believe that Jesus, being the Son of God, has told us the truth about God—and then we act on the belief. We live life in the certainty that we can do nothing other than render a perfect trust and a perfect obedience to God.” (William Barclay, New Testament Words, 545 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)

We are saved by works of faith, but not by works of merit. Studying the original languages of the Bible helps us to understand this.  

Did They Hear Or Not?

Finally, consider one final example of how studying the original languages of the Bible can help to dismantle supposed Bible contradictions, i.e., in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.  

In one account of his conversion, we are told:

Acts 9:7-And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.

Yet later we are told:

Acts 22:9-9 “And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.

How can the people who were with Saul have “heard” and yet “not heard” the voice that spoke to him?  

The answer lies in studying the original languages of the Bible:

“In the original Greek, however, there is no real contradiction between these two statements. Greek makes a distinction between hearing a sound as a noise (in which case the verb “to hear” takes the genitive case) and hearing a voice as a thought-conveying message (in which case it takes the accusative). Therefore, as we put the two statements together, we find that Paul’s companions heard the Voice as a sound (somewhat like the crowd who heard the sound of the Father talking to the Son in John 12: 28, but perceived it only as thunder); but they did not (like Paul) hear the message that it articulated. Paul alone heard it intelligibly (Acts 9: 4 says Paul ēkousen phōnēn —accusative case); though he, of course, perceived it also as a startling sound at first (Acts 22: 7: “I fell to the ground and heard a voice [ēkousa phōnēs] saying to me,” NASB). But in neither account is it stated that his companions ever heard that Voice in the accusative case.” (Gleason Archer, The New International Encyclopedia Of Bible Difficulties, 10056-10068 (Kindle Edition): Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

Second: Look At The Timeframe Of A Passage

Another important key in studying alleged Bible contradictions is in keeping the timeframes of different passages in mind.

Staff Or No Staff?

For example, one alleged contradiction that is often hinted at is found in Jesus’ instructions to His disciples regarding the Limited Commission. In Mark 6:8, we are told that Jesus tells His disciples to take nothing for their journey, except for a staff; yet in the parallel account in Matthew 10:9-10, we see Jesus telling His disciples not to “provide” a staff for themselves.  

Is there a contradiction?  

Not at all.  

Jesus’ meaning is very simply that the disciples are to take a staff if they have one with them; but that they are not to procure another one in the future. Instead, they are to trust completely in God to provide for their needs. The text is speaking of events from two different time-frames.  

Another good example in this regard comes from the fact that when Cain was banished from his home after slaying his brother Abel, we are told that he went to the land of Nod and married a woman (Genesis 4:16).

Many claim that this must be a contradiction, since the Bible records that the only people present were Adam, Eve, and Cain and Abel.  

However, the Bible tells us quite differently, and answers this alleged contradiction:

Genesis 4:3-And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD.

Notice that phrase “in the process of time.”

Moses is honing in on the fact that there has been a great deal of time to elapse between the Fall in the Garden and the time of these events. As a result, there were no doubt many people living in the world by the time that Cain went to Nod!  

Remembering the timeframe of passages is an important key in overcoming alleged Bible contradictions. 

Third: Remember The Cultural Context Of The Passage

We are told in Mark 15:25 that Christ was crucified in the third hour of the day, yet in John 19:14 it is said to be the sixth hour.

How does this harmonize?  

When we realize that Mark and John are referencing two different cultural ways of reckoning time, the difficulty is cleared up:

“Both Gospel writers are correct in their assertions. The difficulty is answered when we realize that each Gospel writer used a different time system. John follows the Roman time system while Mark follows the Jewish time system. According to Roman time, the day ran from midnight to midnight… The Jewish 24 hour period began in the evening at 6 p.m. and the morning of that day began at 6:00 a.m. Therefore, when Mark asserts that at the third hour Christ was crucified, this was about 9 a.m. John stated that Christ’s trial was about the sixth hour. This would place the trial before the crucifixion and this would not negate any testimony of the Gospel writers.” (Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, The Big Book Of Bible Difficulties: Clear And Concise Answers From Genesis To Revelation, 4368-4371 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books) 

Consider another example.

Many people proclaim that Christian women are obligated by God to wear veils in the church assembly, based on what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16.

Yet studying the language of this passage, and the cultural background of it, we see that Paul was dealing with a local phenomenon involving the church at Corinth:

“Notice how Paul’s reasons for the head covering for women and its absence for men are loaded with the language of culture. (1) Honor or shame (disgrace) for the man— “any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head” (1 Corinthians 11:4- 5). (2) Shame (disgrace) to the woman— “It is one and the same thing as having her head shaved…. If it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil” (1 Corinthians 11:5- 6). (3) What is accepted as a sign of authority “For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head” (1 Corinthians 11:10). (Angels are perhaps invoked as witnesses to the order of creation.) (4) What is regarded by human beings as natural (that is, what is customarily done)— “Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?” (1 Corinthians 11:13- 15). (5) The practice of the churches “We have no such custom, nor do the churches of God” (1 Corinthians 11:16). Honor and shame were major considerations in determining conduct in the societies of the ancient Mediterranean world…Since a culture tends to regard its customs as the “natural” way to do things, as the established order of things, “nature” ( physis ) had as one of its derived meanings “[accepted] custom.” 14 Observe that all of the considerations urged by Paul, with the possible exception of the fifth, refer to conditions or circumstances established by culture— having to do with honor, shame or disgrace, a sign or symbol, the natural or customary, and the customs of others. Where something is not considered a matter of honor or shame, has no symbolic significance, is not regarded as natural, then the specific expression has no force.” (Everett Ferguson, Women In The Church: Biblical And Historical Perspectives, 386-405 (Kindle Edition): Abilene, Tx; Desert Willow Publishing)  

The cultural situation in Corinth was such that the women in the church needed to wear their veils, lest they be identified in that city as the temple prostitutes (who advertised their sexual services by removing their veils):

“There is firm evidence that Corinthian women were connected to the cult of Demeter which we know operated in Roman Corinth in Paul’s day in the temple on the slopes of the Acrocorinth overlooking the city.59 Curse inscriptions written by women have been discovered there…It can be concluded, therefore, that those wives who undertook religious functions would have covered their heads with the marriage veil, given that all respectable married women would wear their veil outside the home, as Roman law and custom prescribed. This raises the possibility that those who sent messengers to spy out the activities of Christian gatherings could have reported to the men elected to officially supervise women’s dress codes in Corinth that some Christian married women were inappropriately attired while engaging in a religious activity…Their deliberate removing of their veils while praying and prophesying would have sent a signal that they were identifying themselves in this religious gathering with the new women who behaved loosely at banquets which were often held in private homes.” (Winter Bruce, Roman Wives; Roman Widows-The Appearance Of New Women And The Pauline Communities, 1063-1098 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)  

Understanding the cultural context of a passage can certainly help in establishing the overall unity of Scripture.  

Fourth: Remember Whether Or Not A Passage Is Using Figurative Or Literal Language 

A vast majority of Bible contradictions are suggested based on the failure of some to remember that the Bible uses both figurative and literal language.  

“Over the course of my teaching career one of the biggest misconceptions I’ve encountered about Bible interpretation is the idea that interpreting what the Bible says symbolically or metaphorically equates to concluding that what you’re reading isn’t real. This is deeply flawed thinking. But it’s nevertheless understandable. Bible teachers and preachers are fond of saying that the Bible needs to be interpreted literally for it to be taken seriously. Taking something “literally” means you’re ruling out any type of figurative language. That only makes sense if the biblical authors wanted to be taken that way. Sometimes they didn’t (see Day 20). Since they were human, much of what they wrote could have meaning on more than one level. Insisting only on literalism stifles communication. We use words every day in ways that would be comical or offensive if taken literally—and yet we never expect what we say to be denigrated or considered false or phony. When you say on a hot day, “I was roasting out there today”—were you? When you say you’re madly in love with your wife, should I presume you’re insane for being attracted to her? If your boss is hard-hearted have you just diagnosed arteriosclerosis? When you tell your neighbor his new car is a sweet ride will he ask you not to lick it again? We can laugh at these absurdities, but all of these statements are meant to be taken seriously—they all have meaning that corresponds to reality. Biblical writers didn’t live in an alternate universe where people never used figurative language, metaphors, or symbolic references. All of those things are stock elements of the way language works—and our day-to-day reality itself. Pitting “literalism” and “figurative” against each other in some sort of semantic death match demonstrates poor thinking. The reason we can instantly parse when to take a given statement like those above figuratively or literally is because the world we’ve experienced informs how to interpret them. In other words, the cumulative effect of our upbringing, our cultural setting, our experiences, and our worldview wires us in such a way that we intuitively know what is meant. To reject figurative interpretation in the Bible is to deny the biblical writers their humanity. Instead of letting them be the authority for understanding what they wrote, we assume we know better.” (Michael S. Heiser, The 60 Second Scholar: 100 Insights That Illumine The Bible, 2543-2556 (Kindle Edition))

Do People See God?

Some have suggested that the Bible contradicts itself in regards to whether or not people can actually see God. For example, we are told that man absolutely cannot see God (Exodus 33:20; John 1:18), and yet we are assured that Jacob saw God “face to face” (Genesis 32:30), and that Moses saw the Lord on Mount Sinai (Exodus 3), and that he and the Lord spoke “face to face,” even as good friends do (Exodus 33:11).  

Carefully studying the passages will demonstrate that while man cannot literally see God, he can see Him figuratively.  

For example, in the story of Jacob wrestling with God, we are assured that figurative language is in play, for the text identifies “God” as a “man” (Genesis 32:24).

Further, the Prophet Hosea identifies this as being an encounter with an ‘angel’ of the Lord (Hosea 12:3-5).  

In the same way, did Moses actually “see” God in Exodus 3?

The text itself shows that he did not LITERALLY see God, but instead saw a burning bush (Exodus 3:2). This was an example of a theophany-God appearing in another form to His people.  

What of the fact that Moses spoke to God face to face, as friends speak?

The text itself shows that this was not Moses and God LITERALLY speaking face to face, for observe:

Exodus 33:20-But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”

The very text that tells us of God and Moses speaking ‘face to face’ makes it clear that this was not a literal speaking together!

What then did the phrase mean?

“It is possible for a blind person to speak face to face with someone without seeing their face. The phrase “face to face” means personally, directly, or intimately. Moses had this kind of unmediated relationship with God. But he, like all other mortals, never saw the “face” (essence) of God directly.” (Norman Geisel & Thomas Howe, When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook Of Bible Difficulties, 830 (Kindle Edition); Victor Books)


By these simple principles, the vast majority of alleged Bible contradictions may be readily harmonized.  

This leaves us with the evidence of the original premise: the supernatural unity of the Bible demonstrates that this Book is, indeed, the complete and final revelation of God to mankind! 

“To what can one attribute this unity running through the whole Bible: unity of vision, structure, message and doctrine-in spite of the long centuries and the many individuals used as instruments for its’ completion? To this question there can be only one answer: in reality, Scripture has but one Author, the Holy Spirit. To Him, it is but one revelation, since he speaks throughout of the only true and proper Object of worship. There is just one salvation: announced, then effected and consummated by one only Saviour. Human nature is the same through all the ages: its needs, weaknesses and potential will always require this same divine communication. For the ever-living, omniscient God, time is as one instant; in other words, eternity means an eternal present, from the first page of Scripture to the last. Finally, truth itself is “one” and could never be contradictory.” (Rene Pasche, The Inspiration And Authority Of Scripture, transcribed by Helen I. Needham, 117; Chicago: Moody Press) 

The Bible centers around the work that God has accomplished in sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for the sins of mankind and thus be the perfect Savior (1 John 2;1-2). Jesus died for the sins of humanity, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day after His death (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Those who believe in His Word (John 6:44-45; 8:12; Romans 10:17) and are willing to repent of their sin, confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God, be baptized into Him, and live faithfully to Him will receive the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life (Acts 2:37-47; 8:35-38; Revelation 2:10; 1 John 2:25).

When we sin as Christians (1 John 1:8), Christ is there to pardon us when we repent and pray to Him, confessing our sins to Him (1 John 1:9; Hebrews 4:15-16).  

Why not come to Him today?

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

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