The Bible’s answer
No, the entire Bible is harmonious. While some passages might seem to show the Bible contradicting itself, they can usually be understood correctly by applying one or more of the following principles:
Consider the context. Any author can appear to contradict himself if his words are taken out of context.
Consider the writer’s viewpoint. Eyewitnesses might describe an event accurately but not use the exact same wording or include the same details.
Take into account historical facts and customs.
Distinguish between the figurative and the literal uses of a word.
Recognize that an action may be attributed to someone—even if he did not personally carry it out. *
Use an accurate Bible translation.
Avoid trying to reconcile what the Bible says with mistaken religious ideas or dogma.
The following examples show how these principles can explain some seeming inconsistencies in the Bible.
Principle 1: Context
If God rested on the seventh day, how has he continued working? The context of the Genesis creation account shows that the statement that God “began to rest on the seventh day from all his work that he had been doing” refers specifically to his work of physical creation respecting the earth. (Genesis 2:
Principles 2 and 3: Viewpoint and history
Where did Jesus heal the blind man? The book of Luke says that Jesus healed a blind man as Jesus “was getting near to Jericho,” while the parallel account in Matthew mentions two blind men and says that the incident occurred when Jesus was “going out of Jericho.” (Luke 18:35-
Principle 4: Figurative and literal terms
Will the earth be destroyed? At Ecclesiastes 1:4, the Bible says that “the earth remains forever,” which to some apparently conflicts with its statement that “the elements will be destroyed by heat
Principle 5: Attribution
In Capernaum, who brought the centurion’s request to Jesus? Matthew 8:
Principle 6: Accurate translation
Do we all sin? The Bible teaches that we all inherit sin from the first man, Adam. (Romans 5:
Principle 7: The Bible, not dogma
Is Jesus equal to God or lesser than God? Jesus once said: “I and the Father are one,” which seems to contradict his statement that “the Father is greater than I am.” (John 10:30; 14:28) To understand those verses correctly, we must examine what the Bible really says about Jehovah and Jesus rather than try to harmonize the verses with the Trinity dogma, which is not based on the Bible. The Bible shows that Jehovah is not only Jesus’ Father but also Jesus’ God, the One whom even Jesus worships. (Matthew 4:
The context of Jesus’ statement “I and the Father are one” shows that he was talking about the oneness of purpose that he shared with his Father, Jehovah God. Jesus later said: “The Father is in union with me and I am in union with the Father.” (John 10:38) Jesus shared this unity of purpose with his followers as well, for he prayed to God about them: “I have given them the glory that you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one. I in union with them and you in union with me.”
^ par. 8 For example, in its article on the Taj Mahal, the Encyclopædia Britannica says that “it was built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahān.” Yet he did not personally build it, for the article adds that “more than 20,000 workers were employed” in its construction.
BIBLE QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Regardless of your background, it is possible to understand God’s message in the Holy Scriptures.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Did you know that some creationist ideas actually conflict with the Bible?