The contradiction in the Bible every Christian should know
Christians are missing a huge contradiction in the Bible, and it’s vitally important to understand it. I’m saying this as a believer in Christ, so please…stick with me through this. The contradiction doesn’t have to be there, but you must understand that it exists because of the way most Christians view God’s word. The way most Christians study the Bible—if they study at all—is a piecemeal approach. When we do this, it’s easy to take verses and ideas out of context. At best, some Christians see and refer to such things as “scriptural tension.” If you’re willing, answer some questions with me and see if you can spot it.
Note: please understand if/when I use Jesus’ Aramaic name, Yeshua. I sometimes use them interchangeably. I’m referring to the same person either way: God’s only begotten son and our risen savior.
Do you believe the whole Bible is true?
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Do we all agree that the whole Bible is inspired by God? Can we agree with Paul that it’s “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness?” If “all scripture” is given so that “the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” doesn’t that indicate its importance…its validity?
If you’re a Christian, you probably already accept the New Testament as truth. That’s generally not an issue. But let’s not forget what “all scripture” meant to Paul and Timothy. Best estimates place the writing of Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy near the end of Paul’s life. That places 2 Timothy roughly around 63 A.D. This was likely before even the first of the four Gospels were written. Another two centuries would pass before anything resembling our New Testament would appear together. It’s clear that the scripture Paul regards so highly is the only scripture he would have had…what we today call the Old Testament.
If Paul—a man hand-picked by our risen savior and someone that nearly all of Christendom holds in the highest esteem—regards the Old Testament scripture so highly, shouldn’t we also? Do you find any reason to doubt that the Old Testament is truth given to mankind by God? If we can agree that the whole Bible is true, let’s go further.
Do you believe Yeshua (Jesus) is God’s promised Messiah?
As we get past more questions, some that follow will be even easier for us to agree on. If we believe the whole Bible is true, you can trust Yeshua’s own words.
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 16:15-17
There are many more verses that prove this out. Just for reference, also see Matthew 17:4-5, John 20:30-31, 1 John 2:22-23 and Colossians 2:8-9. If you want prophecy that points to him, see Micah 5:1-3, Proverbs 30:4, Psalm 2:11-12, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6-7, and Isaiah 53.
Are we in agreement that Yeshua is the Son of God? I certainly hope so. If not, we’re not discussing the same religion. If you agree, let’s move on.
Since Yeshua is the Messiah, God’s own son, do you believe what he said as recorded in the Bible?
If you’re a believer, it’s easy to say yes to this. Given the questions we’ve covered so far, this should be a slam dunk. But consider that verbal and mental assent to something doesn’t always play out in action. If we say one thing, but act in a contrary way, we’re not being honest. To be blunt, that’s hypocrisy. So I’ll ask again…do you believe what Yeshua said in the Bible? Try this on:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20
Luke’s gospel also records this:
And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail. Luke 16:17
Yeshua (Jesus) says nothing will be removed from the law until all is fulfilled. Notice that in both accounts he mentions “heaven and earth” passing away. Look at where that phrase shows up again:
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live Deuteronomy 30:19
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:1-2
The law states that determining a matter requires two witnesses. God declares heaven and earth as witnesses to the Mosaic covenant Israel entered into. Then we see that our current heaven and earth do have an ending…at the end, when “all is fulfilled.” At that time, when the witnesses no longer exist, we might consider that something about God’s law went away. Until then, He seems pretty clear on the issue.
I know from experience that some will quibble about what Yeshua (Jesus) meant by the word “fulfill”…“I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” They generally get into trouble when they try to insert their definition of that back into Yeshua’s statement. All explanations I’ve heard can generally be summed up as the law being nullified, put to an end, nailed to the cross. In other words, they mean something equivalent to destroying them…exactly what Yeshua (Jesus) said he wasn’t doing.
Let’s look more closely at that word “fulfill.” The Greek word here is πληρόω (plēroō). Its meaning here is to make something complete, to fill to the full. What Yeshua (Jesus) is saying is that he’s giving us the full meaning of the law. How can we know this? If we just keep reading past those verses in Matthew, we’ll see he does exactly that.
The remainder of Matthew 5 shows Yeshua (Jesus) expounding on the full meaning of several commands of the law. He shows us that we’re already guilty of murder if we hold hatred in our hearts for someone. He then explains that lust and adultery are one and the same.
Yeshua (Jesus) also covers some things thought of as law by the Pharisees, but that do not exist in God’s law. You will not find “love your neighbor and hate your enemy” in the Mosaic law, but rather the rabbinic traditions. We’ll look at that in detail in another post.
So…do you still believe everything Yeshua (Jesus) said? Or do you find yourself saying something like, “but…but Paul says…” Do you believe he was—and still is—the Son of God, the perfect Lamb of God? If you do, you know that there is no deceit in him. Will you believe him?
Do you see any discrepancies between what Yeshua said and what you believe Paul to have said?
Do you have some of those common “but Paul said” statements whirling in your mind? I’ll provide a few of the most popular.
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Romans 10:4
having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Colossians 2:14
Paul seems to say you are not under the law, that Christ is the end of the law, that the law is “contrary to us” and Yeshua has nailed it to the cross. So…how does that fit with what we previously agreed to earlier? How do we harmonize that with what Yeshua said? If you’re honest with yourself, you know they can’t both be true. If you don’t yet see the contradiction, I’ll take it a step further…how do you harmonize what Paul said against…what Paul said?
But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. Acts 24:14
while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.” Acts 25:8
Paul made these statements just before sailing to Rome and to his death. This happened many years after he met the Messiah on the road to Damascus. Surely such an accomplished Apostle and teacher wouldn’t make such a mistake, would he? Would he possibly lie to protect his own skin at this point in his life, after suffering so much already for the truth? Let’s look at some text from his letters.
for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; Romans 2:13
Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. Romans 3:31
Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Romans 7:12
Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 1 Timothy 1:5-8
Do these statements sound like someone who considers the law “done away with?” Can you see the discrepancies created in the way we interpret Paul’s letters? Do you see the very basic, very blatant discrepancy between our interpretation of Paul and what Yeshua (Jesus) said?
If you still don’t see it, please…go back over the quoted verses again. Let go of any preconceived notions about what they mean and just read them for what they say. Then go further and read these passages from the context that surrounds them. Reading Bible passages outside of its intended context creates huge problems. I have pulled selected verses to prove a point, but I don’t expect anyone to just take my word for it.
Paul warns to “test everything” and only hold to what is true. That includes Paul’s own words. And, more importantly, your understanding of his words. You should test your own understanding: your doctrine. Your doctrine most likely mirrors what your particular church explains to you. But if your doctrines and beliefs about the Bible don’t hold up to scrutiny, are they really worth holding? As you study the scriptures, ask God to show you His truth, no matter where it leads. Isn’t that what we should all want?
Do you see the contradiction?
If you see the contradiction in the Bible that this creates, please know that the problem lies in the understanding of scripture passed down to us through the centuries. This can be a trying time for a true believer. I know. When I saw it, I wanted to throw out all of Paul’s letters. But that’s really not necessary. Read this warning from Peter:
“…just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 2 Peter 3:15-17
Peter, a contemporary and fellow apostle, found Paul’s letter “hard to understand.” Should we think ourselves incapable of misunderstanding, being nearly 2000 years removed? Peter warns that in misunderstanding Paul, we could be “carried away with the error of lawless people.” Perhaps the institutional church has fallen into this trap from its beginnings. And maybe that’s what we have inherited in our own doctrines. Please prayerfully consider Peter’s warning.
Don’t lose hope or faith, because there is a harmony across all of God’s scripture. We must let the Bible speak for itself rather than depending on our own wisdom. I’ll be putting together more posts that address specific issues brought up here. Until then, study your Bible and continue asking God to show you his truth.
If you don’t see any contradiction…
If you don’t see the contradiction as I’ve laid it before you, please comment below on how to harmonize these verses. And please cite scriptures as your defense. I really can’t see any way around it, but I’m always open to discussion. Shouldn’t we all be open to discussion and correction if we’re wrong? Have you considered this as well? Are you open to correction?