“Speaking Where The Bible Speaks...” by Allan Turner


“Speaking Where The Bible Speaks...”
by Allan Turner
(Ronnie Milliner, a gospel preacher, published a book in which he identified preachers among conservative churches of Christ who he thought were going liberal. In his book, he quoted a line from this article and presented it in a way that indicated I did not believe in trying to speak where the Bible speaks. Milliner, his friend, John Welch, and the Faith & Facts bunch have made a career of taking brethren out of context, all the while, protesting vociferously that they are the ones really being misrepresented. Although this article was written years ago, it still speaks to current problems among churches of Christ.)
When we make our plea for the restoration of New Testament Christianity, if we are not careful, we may easily develop an attitude of arrogance and intolerance which could backfire on us. Our plea for a return to the Book is perceived by some as a plea for a return to a time when only the pure gospel was preached and there were no doctrinal problems in the churches. But when was that? From the very beginning, the church of Christ has been plagued by strife (Philippians 1:15,16), false teachers (II Peter 2:1-3), perverse and destructive leaders (Acts 20:29f.; Jude 4), the preaching of a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), divisiveness (III John 9,10), and servants of Satan (II Corinthians 11:13-15). The churches at Pergamos and Thyatira were condemned for tolerating false teaching (Revelation 2:12-29). The Christians at Sardis gave the appearance of being alive, but were really dead (Revelation 3:1-6). Although such a state was certainly not ideal, a reading of I Timothy 4:1-5 and II Timothy 3:1-5 make it clear that such would be a continuing problem in the churches.
Furthermore, one cannot read Matthew 13:24-30 without understanding that Satan has been—and continues to be—quite active in the Lord's church or kingdom. The true and the false, the child of God and the child of Satan, the righteous and the unrighteous can all be found among those who identify themselves as Christians. This, of course, causes serious problems even today. People in search of New Testament Christianity are looking for the perfect church, and being unable to find one, they are giving up their search. This is terribly unfortunate. Ironically, many are eventually going to be eternally lost because they are unable to find a congregation of perfect people perfectly practicing perfect New Testament Christianity—a group, incidentally, that would immediately become imperfect the moment they added themselves to it.
The Word, Not Perfection, Is The Key
What these individuals ought to be looking for is a group of people who are teaching the doctrine taught in the New Testament, even though they may not be doing everything perfectly. Now please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I believe it is important to be a doer of the Word. In fact, it is the Word of God and one's obedience to it that allows one to be free from sin (John 8:32), and not one's finding of a perfect group of Christians to which he may join himself. No one has ever been saved by his perfect doing, nor will one ever be. One is saved, and thereby made perfect, in Christ, not by perfect doing, but by the grace of God bestowed upon all who will willingly render obedience to Jesus Christ (Hebrews 5:9; Colossians 2:10). One is saved by exercising faith, trust, and reliance in Christ (Romans 5:1), not a group of people.
Churches of Christ should certainly manifest the teaching of the New Testament and ought to be trying to do everything they understand the Bible to be teaching, but anyone who thinks churches must be perfect before they can wear the name of their Lord are very much mistaken. When one is looking for New Testament Christianity, one must learn to put the emphasis where it belongs; namely, Jesus and His Word and not the imperfections in the lives of Christians.
Christians Are Affected Too
Unfortunately, some Christians are as confused about the significance of imperfection as are those who think New Testament Christianity no longer exists because they are unable to find a perfect church. Some, worshipping in local congregations where there may be glaring imperfections in some of the members, have become discouraged and have quit the church and become totally disillusioned with Christianity as well. In other words, because some are less than ideal—and aren't we all?—these people quit trusting in the One who has proven Himself to be absolutely perfect. It's a shame that some will quit the Lord for that which in others is but a reflection of themselves. Quite frankly, this is the ultimate hypocrisy.
Seduced By A Slogan, Some Claim Perfection
Then there are those who wrongly think themselves to be absolutely perfect. These mouth slogans such as: “We speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent.” Several generations have now been taught this haughty and arrogant philosophy and instead of remaining “Christians only,” they have evolved into the “only Christians.” [This is the quote Milliner used.] In other words, according to these people, unless one is taught by one of their preachers and baptized in one of their pools, then he could not possibly be a member of the church belonging to Christ. People like this are no longer interested in the need for a continued emphasis on the restoration of New Testament Christianity. They are absolutely and totally correct in every facet of their work and worship together. After all, they speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent. Consequently, how could they possibly be wrong? Such thinking has caused these people to become narrow and bigoted, steeped in traditions and practices which, in turn, have become the acid tests of orthodoxy. The man-made slogan, “We speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent,” has progressed to the inevitable, “You must do it the way we do it or you are wrong” syndrome. When this attitude becomes prominent in a people, the only objective standard for determining orthodoxy (i.e., God's Word) becomes secondary to group consensus and is, therefore, quite irrelevant. Among such people, what the church teaches and practices is much more important than what the Bible says or doesn't say.
A case in point is the battle over institutionalism that raged in the fifties and sixties. A minority of God's people began to question the scripturalness of the churches' support of orphan homes, old folks homes, etc. Asking for the book, chapter and verse that authorized such practices, the answer in many cases was, “This is the way we have done it for years,” “This is the way our fathers did it,” “This is the way we've always done it,” etc.
Brethren, have we so soon forgotten that group consensus is not the objective standard for what is right or wrong? Are we now willing to involve ourselves in that which we criticized others for doing? Will we make our practices the test for orthodoxy or will we continue to subject our practices to the objective standard of God's Word?
Arrogance Breeds Complacency
How much good has been subverted by a thoughtlessly arrogant man-made slogan? It is a well-known fact that arrogance breeds complacency. Among many churches of Christ today there is a complacency that has produced doctrinally sick and spiritually dead churches. Would it not have been healthier if those before us would have read “If a man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11), and said: “Lord, we will try with all our heart. We will try to speak where the Bible speaks, and we will try to be silent where the Bible is silent, but in doing so we will not forget that we are totally dependent upon the grace You have so bountifully bestowed upon us” (cf. Ephesians 2:8,9).
Humility Destroys Arrogance
Such humbleness and contriteness  will cause us to constantly examine ourselves so as to determine whether or not we are in the faith (II Corinthians 13:5). Furthermore, the inculcation of pure doctrine into pure hearts leaves no room for arrogance and bigotry; it leaves no room for an erroneous concept of justification by perfect law-keeping. Instead, it produces an attitude which is manifested by the statement: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended for Christ Jesus. Brethren I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). Brethren, it is this attitude that will keep us awake in Bible study and alive spiritually. This attitude coupled with God's grace produces a “living unto God” (Romans 6:10,11) that will allow a man to say at the end of his life without any arrogance at all: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (II Timothy 4:7,8).
May we ever do all within our power to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent, and may we teach and live in such a way that, in spite of our imperfections, our Heavenly Father will be glorified and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be honored.
1 Peter 4:11

"THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS" Chapter One by Mark Copeland

                    "THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS"

                              Chapter One


1) To appreciate why the Philippians were a source of great joy to Paul

2) To learn from Paul's attitude concerning persecution, death, and the
   purpose of life


Paul begins his epistle with his customary salutation followed by an
expression of thanksgiving and prayer.  The church at Philippi had been
a source of great joy to Paul by virtue of their fellowship with him in
the proclamation of the gospel.  Confident that God will complete the 
work He began in them, Paul prays that their spiritual growth will 
continue (1-11).

His circumstances at Rome have actually been for the furtherance of the
gospel, despite imprisonment and opposition by false brethren.  He is 
confident that everything will turn out alright, and that he will even 
come to them again.  It is not without mixed feelings, however, for he 
is torn between a desire to be with Christ and a realization that to 
remain in the flesh is more needful for them (12-26).

At the moment, his desire is that whether absent or present he may hear
they are conducting themselves worthy of the gospel, by standing fast 
in one spirit and one mind for the gospel and not disturbed by any 
adversaries.  They should take comfort in knowing that, like Paul, they
have been granted the honor not only to believe in Christ, but also to 
suffer for His sake (27-30).



   A. SALUTATION (1-2)
      1. From Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ (1a)
      2. To the saints in Christ Jesus who in Philippi, with the 
         bishops and deacons (1b)
      3. Grace and peace from God and Jesus Christ (2)

      1. His thanksgiving for them (3-8)
         a. That every thought, every request in their behalf, is one
            of joy (3-4)
         b. For their fellowship in the gospel from the very first day
         c. He is confident that God will complete the work begun in
            them, for they have shared with him in his chains and the
            proclamation of the gospel (6-7)
         d. God is his witness to how much he longs for them with the
            love of Jesus (8)
      2. His prayer for them (9-11)
         a. That their love abound in knowledge and all discernment (9)
         b. That they approve the things that are excellent (10a)
         c. That they be sincere and without offense till Christ 
            returns (10b)
         d. That they be filled with the fruits of righteousness (11)
            1) Made possible by Jesus Christ (11a)
            2) To the glory and praise of God (11b)


      1. Imprisonment has actually created opportunities to spread the
         gospel (12-14)
         a. Things have turned out to the furtherance of the gospel, 
            for even among the palace guard it is evident his chains
            are in Christ (12-13)
         b. His example has emboldened others to speak without fear
      2. Even opposition has provided opportunity for Christ to be
         preached (15-18)
         a. While some preach Christ out of love and good will, others
            do so with envy and strife, hoping to make things harder
            for Paul (15-17)
         b. Yet Paul rejoices that in every way Christ is preached (18)

      1. He knows all will turn out well for his salvation (19-20)
         a. Through their prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit (19)
         b. He is confident that no matter what happens, Christ will be
            magnified (20)
      2. Whether he lives or dies, it will be a blessing (21-23)
         a. To live is Christ, to die is gain (21)
         b. To live will mean fruitful labor, but to depart and be with
            Christ will be far better for him personally (22-23)
      3. Knowing their need of him at the present, he is confident of
         coming to them once again (24-26)


      1. He pleads that their conduct be worthy of the gospel (27a)
      2. So that whether present or absent, he may hear that they are
         standing fast in one spirit, united in their efforts for the
         faith of the gospel (27b)

      1. For such confidence is not a sign of perdition, but of 
         salvation from God (28)
      2. They have been granted not only to believe in Jesus, but also
         to suffer for Him even as he does (29-30)


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Introduction (1-11)
   - The situation in Rome (12-26)
   - Exhortation to stand fast (27-30)

2) Who joins Paul in addressing this epistle?  To whom is it sent? (1)
   - Timothy
   - The saints in Christ Jesus in Philippi, with the bishops and 

3) For what is Paul thankful concerning the Philippians? (5)
   - For their fellowship in the gospel

4) What is Paul confident of concerning the Philippians? (6)
   - That God will complete the work begun in them until the day of
     Jesus Christ

5) Upon what basis did Paul have this confidence concerning the
   Philippians? (7)
   - Their participiation with Paul in both his chains and in the 
     proclamation of the gospel

6) What four things did Paul pray for in behalf of the Philippians?
   - That their love might abound in knowledge and discernment
   - That they might approve the things that are excellent
   - That they might be sincere and without offense till the day of
   - That they might be filled with the fruits of righteousness which
     are by Jesus Christ

7) What was the effect of Paul's imprisonment? (12)
   - It actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel

8) What was Paul's attitude about those preaching Christ out of envy 
   and strife, trying to do him  harm? (15-18)
   - Christ was still being preached, and in that Paul rejoiced

9) What was Paul's earnest desire and expectation that he could do with
   all boldness? (20)
   - To magnify Christ in his body, whether by life or by death

10) What was Paul's attitude toward life and death? (21)
   - To live is Christ, and to die is gain

11) Between what two things was Paul hard pressed? (23-24)
   - A desire to depart and be with Christ
   - A realization that to remain in the flesh was more needful for

12) What sort of conduct did Paul consider worthy of the gospel of
    Christ? (27)
   - Standing fast in one spirit, with one mind stringing together for
     the faith of the gospel

13) What had been granted to the Philippians on behalf of Christ? (29)
   - Not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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"THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS" Introduction by Mark Copeland

                    "THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS"


AUTHOR:  The apostle Paul (1:1), joined in his salutation by Timothy.
Personal references by the author (1:12-14; 2:19-24; 3:4-7; 4:15-16)
are certainly consistent with what we know of Paul from other New
Testament sources.  Paul's authorship of this letter is also supported
by the testimony of early "church fathers" such as Polycarp and

THE CITY OF PHILIPPI:  Named after Philip of Macedonia, the father of
Alexander the Great, it was a major city of Macedonia on the road from
Rome to Asia known as the Egnatian Way.  It was the site of a famous
battle in 42 B.C. in which Antony and Octavius defeated Brutus and
Cassius.  In 30 B.C., Octavian made the town a Roman colony where
retired soldiers could live and enjoy the full privileges of Roman
citizenship (to which Paul may have alluded in 3:20).

THE CHURCH AT PHILIPPI:  During his second missionary journey (49-52
A.D.), Paul and his traveling companions (Timothy and Silas) were 
making their way across Asia Minor (Turkey) when Paul received a vision
at Troas.  In the vision, a man of Macedonia pleaded, "Come over to 
Macedonia and help us."  Perceiving that the Lord was calling them to 
go to Macedonia, they sailed from Troas (Luke having joined them) and 
eventually arrived at Philippi (Ac 16:6-12).

With the conversion of Lydia (Ac 16:13-15) and the Philippian jailor
(Ac 16:25-34), the church was established at Philippi.  The lack of a 
synagogue seems to indicate that Jews were not prevalent and so the 
church may have consisted primarily of Gentiles.  From the conversion 
of Lydia and references in the epistle itself (4:2-3), it is evident 
that a number of women played a role in the growth of the church.

When it became necessary for Paul to leave, Luke seems to have stayed
at Philippi (based upon careful observations of personal pronouns; 
e.g., "we, they", cf. Ac 16:12; 17:1).  As Paul left Macedonia, the 
church at Philippi became a significant source of support (4:15-16; 2
Col 11:9).

Paul visited the church at Philippi again on his third missionary
journey (Ac 20:3,6).

TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING:  Philippians is one of Paul's four "prison
epistles" (1:7,13,17; cf. Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon).  The 
general consensus is that these epistles were written during Paul's 
imprisonment at Rome (cf. Ac 28:16,30-31).  If such is truly the case, 
then Paul wrote Philippians around 61-63 A.D. from Rome.

PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE:  The church at Philippi had sent a gift to Paul
in Rome by the hand of Epaphroditus (4:10,18).  Paul uses this occasion
not only to thank them, but to comfort them concerning his situation as
a prisoner for Jesus Christ (1:12-14).  He also writes of his plans to 
send Timothy soon (2:19-24), and why he considered it necessary to send
Epaphroditus back to them (2:25-30).  There may have also been a
problem at Philippi involving two women, for Paul has a few words to 
say concerning them (4:2-3).

THEME OF THE EPISTLE:  Throughout this short and rather personal
epistle, one keynote resounds again and again.  That keynote is joy.  
Five times the word "joy" (Grk., chara) is found (1:4,25; 2:2,29; 4:1),
and the verb "to rejoice" (Grk., chairein) occurs eleven times (twice 
in 1:18; 2:17,18; 4:4; once in 2:28; 3:1; 4:10).  For this reason, the 
epistle to the Philippians has often been called Paul's "hymn of joy" 
in which the theme is:  "Rejoice in the Lord!"

KEY VERSE:  Philippians 4:4

       "Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!"


   1. Salutation (1-2)
   2. Thanksgiving and prayer (3-11)


      1. Imprisonment has actually created opportunities to spread the
         gospel (1:12-14)
      2. Even opposition has provided opportunity for Christ to be 
         preached (1:15-18)

      1. By their prayers and the provision of the Holy Spirit, he 
         knows all will turn out well for his salvation (1:19-20)
      2. Whether he lives or dies, it will be a blessing (1:21-23)
      3. Knowing their need of him at the present, he is confident of
         coming to them once again (1:24-26)


      1. Strive together for the faith of the gospel (1:27)
      2. Do not be terrified by your adversaries (1:28-30)

      1. Make Paul's joy complete by being like-minded, having the same
         love (2:1-2)
      2. In humility, look out for the interests of others (2:3-4)
      3. Follow the example of Christ's humility (2:5-11)

      1. By working out their own salvation, for it is God who is at 
         work in them (2:12-13)
      2. As children of God, blameless and harmless (2:14-16)
      3. Consider Paul's imprisonment as a reason to rejoice (2:17-18)


   A. TO SEND TIMOTHY SOON (2:19-24)
      1. Paul plans to send him shortly (2:19)
      2. Commendation of Timothy (2:20-22)
      3. Timothy to come soon, hopefully followed by Paul himself 

      1. Why Paul felt it necessary to send Epaphroditus (2:25-28)
      2. Receive him in the Lord with all gladness (2:29-30)


   A. AGAINST JUDAISM (3:1-11)
      1. Rejoice in the Lord, bewaring of those who place confidence in
         the flesh (3:1-3)
      2. If anyone had reason to boast in the flesh, it would have been
         Paul (3:4-6)
      3. But he gave it all up, that he might know Christ and the power
         of His resurrection (3:7-11)

      1. Paul's attitude of pressing on to perfection (3:12-14)
      2. An exhortation for them to have the same mind (3:15-17)
      3. A warning against those who serve their own desires (3:18-19)
      4. A reminder of our true citizenship, and the hope it entails


      1. Prefaced with an exhortation to stand fast in the Lord (4:1)
      2. A plea for them to be of one mind, assisted by others (4:2-3)

      1. Rejoice in the Lord always, and be gentle to all (4:4-5)
      2. Through prayer, let the peace of God guard your hearts from
         anxiety (4:6-7)
      3. Meditate upon things worthy of virtue and praise, and follow
         Paul's example (4:8-9)


      1. Paul rejoiced when they were able to care for him again (4:10)
      2. Not that he really had need, for he had learned contentment
      3. But they have done well to share in his distress (4:14)

      1. A brief history of their giving to Paul (4:15-16)
      2. Their giving abounds to their own account, viewed as an 
         acceptable sacrifice to God, who will supply all their need

CONCLUSION (4:20-23)
   1. Praise to God (4:20)
   2. Greetings from those with Paul, even those of Caesar's household
   3. Final benediction (4:23)


1) On which missionary journey was the church at Philippi established?
   - Paul's second missionary journey

2) Where can we read about the beginning of the church at Philippi?
   - Ac 16:11-40

3) Who seems to have stayed at Philippi after Paul left? (cf. "we, 
   they", Ac 16:12; 17:1)
   - Luke

4) From where and when did Paul write Philippians?
   - From Rome, sometime around 61-63 A.D.

5) What three other epistles were written about this time?  What are
   the four epistles sometimes called?
   - Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon
   - The "prison epistles"

6) What prompted the writing of Philippians? (cf. Php 4:10,18)
   - A gift from the church at Philippi by the hands of Epaphroditus

7) From Acts 16 and Philippians 4, who were some of the members of the
   church at Philippi?
   - Lydia, the jailor, Euodia, Syntyche, Clement, Epaphroditus

8) What is the theme running throughout this epistle?  Which verse
   stands out as the key verse?
   - Rejoice in the Lord!
   - Php 4:4

9) List the six main sections of this epistle as given in the above
   - The situation in Rome
   - Exhortation to behavior worthy of the gospel
   - Plans involving Timothy and Epaphroditus
   - Warnings against Judaism and antinomianism
   - Exhortations to unity, joy, and peace
   - Thanksgiving for their generosity

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Hell and the Quran by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Hell and the Quran

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The classic Christian doctrine of hell receives a most interesting treatment in the Quran, providing a number of fanciful particulars and whimsical embellishments. On the Day of Judgment, unbelievers will be “dragged into the Fire upon their faces” (Surah 54:48) “by their scalps” (Surah 70:16, Dawood, Sale, and Rodwell translations). Their faces will be “blackened” (Surah 39:60). They will have manacles, chains, and yokes placed upon them (Surah 34:33; 40:71; 76:4). One surah even declares that the wife of Abu Lahab (one of Muhammad’s bitter opponents) “will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre” (Surah 111:5)—apparently fireproof palm fiber.
According to the Quran, hell is a place of raging, fiercely blazing fire (Surah 73:12; 92:14; 101:11) with leaping, piercing, burning flames (Surah 4:10; 17:97; 25:11; 37:10; 48:13; 77:30-31; 85:10; 104:6-7), in which people “neither die nor live” (Surah 87:12-13). In addition to flames, hell also contains scorching winds, black smoke (Surah 56:42-43), and boiling hot water through which the disbelievers will be dragged (Surah 40:71-72; 55:44). In fact, unbelievers will both drink and bedrenched with boiling water:
Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloseth them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burneth the faces.Calamitous the drink and ill the resting-place! (Surah 18:30, emp. added).
These twain (the believers and the disbelievers) are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads. Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning (Surah 22:19-22, emp. added; cf. 6:70; 10:5; 37:67; 44:48; 56:54,93)
The ingested boiling water will cut and tear the bowels (Surah 47:15). Yet the drinking of boiling water apparently will be accompanied by an occasional cold drink: “Hell, where they will burn, an evil resting place. Here is a boiling and an ice-cold draught, so let them taste it, and other (torment) of the kind in pairs (the two extremes)!” (Surah 38:57-59, emp. added; cf. 78:24-25). Ali renders the phrase: “a boiling fluid, and a fluid dark, murky, intensely cold!”
In addition to liquid, the diet of the unbeliever will include some solid food: “On that day (many) faces will be downcast, toiling, weary, scorched by burning fire, drinking from a boiling spring, no food for them save bitter thorn-fruit which doth not nourish nor release from hunger” (Surah88:2-7, emp. added). The Quran alleges the existence of a specific tree from which hell’s occupants will eat:
Is this better as a welcome, or the tree of Zaqqum? Lo! We have appointed it a torment for wrong-doers. Lo! it is a tree that springeth in the heart of hell. Its crop is as it were the heads of devils. And lo! they verily must eat thereof, and fill (their) bellies therewith. And afterward, lo! thereupon they have a drink of boiling water (Surah 37:62-67).
All will certainly be gathered together for the meeting appointed for a Day well-known. Then will you truly—O you that go wrong, and treat (Truth) as Falsehood!—you will surely taste of the Tree of Zaqqum. Then will you fill your insides therewith, and drink Boiling Water on top of it: Indeed you shall drink like diseased camels raging with thirst! Such will be their entertainment on the Day of Requital! (Surah 56:50-56, Ali’s translation).
Lo! the tree of Zaqqum, the food of the sinner! Like molten brass, it seetheth in their bellies as the seething of boiling water (Surah 44:43-46).
Uninspired Jewish folklore postulated the same tree (cf. Sukkah 32).
The Quran also claims that hell possesses “keepers” or “guardians” (Surah 40:49; 96:18). Malic is the primary angel in charge of hell who presides over the torments inflicted on unbelievers: “The sinners will be in the punishment of Hell, to dwell therein (forever)…. They will cry: ‘O Malik! Would that your Lord put an end to us!’ He will say, ‘Nay, but you shall abide!’ ” (Surah43:74,77). Of course, the Bible says nothing of any so-called guardians of hell. In fact, the Bible teaches that even Satan is not presently in hell. Rather, “our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8; cf. Job 1:7; 2:2). The Bible appears to indicate that some angels are being confined in a waiting place prior to the Day of Judgment: “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6). But Satan and his angels will be thrown into the lake of fire at the end of time (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).
Additional allusions in the Quran to unbiblical (and outlandish) concepts regarding hell (also borrowed from uninspired ancient rabbinical literature) include: (1) a veil between hell and Paradise (Surah 7:46), drawn from the legend recorded in the Midrash on Ecclesiastes 7:14 (cf. Tisdall, 1905, p. 124), as well as a place between the two that enables a “crier” to communicate with both sides (Surah 7:44); and (2) the report of angels who eavesdrop on God (Surah 15:18; 37:8; 67:5; cf. Hagigah 6.1).
Even giving the Quran’s allowance for the difficulty of representing a nonphysical, eternal realm in language that enables humans to derive a sufficient understanding of the horror of hell, the Quran makes the mistake of depicting hell as a place for physical bodies. It offers an abundance of detail that removes the impression of hell being a spiritual realm. It shows no understanding or awareness of eternity involving a spiritual, nonmaterial realm where human spirits will be clothed with new, spiritual bodies. The Bible, on the other hand, provides clarification on just such matters, giving just enough information for the honest, objective reader to grasp this very point—i.e., that it will be a nonphysical realm, but will entail unending pain and suffering for the spiritual body (Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 12:4-5; John 5:28; 1 Corinthians 15:35-55). The Bible is sufficiently generic to be credible. The Quran suffers from the embellishment that one would expect from an uninspired, human author. Its myriad of detail on this subject cannot be dismissed as merely figurative.
Next to the doctrine of monotheism, the doctrine of hell and punishment receives more attention than any other doctrine in the Quran—maybe even more than monotheism. In fact, to the unbiased reader, the Quran is positively top-heavy—completely unbalanced—in its almost constant emphasis on fire, torment, and eternal punishment. Keeping in mind there are 114 surahs in the Quran, observe that the word “hell” occurs 102 times in Pickthall’s translation (95 in Ali’s) in 54 surahs. “Fire” occurs 161 times (203 in Ali) in 65 surahs. “Punish/punishment” occurs 115 times (169 in Ali) in 43 surahs. “Doom” occurs 215 times in Pickthall in 62 surahs. This means that the Quran refers to hell, fire, doom, and punishment in 92 of its 114 surahs—which is 80 percent of the Quran! In sharp contrast, the New Testament—which approximates the Quran in length—uses the word “hell” (gehennaonly 12 times (Matthew 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6). While the Bible certainly emphasizes the certainty and inevitability of eternal punishment, it places the subject in proper perspective and provides a divinely balanced treatment. The Quran, on the other hand, is thoroughly preoccupied with incessant threats of punishment ad infinitum. Its inordinate fixation on hell, fire, torment, and punishment is another proof of its human origin.


Ali, Abdullah Yusuf (1934), The Qur’an (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Quran), ninth edition.
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
Rodwell, J.M., trans. (1950 reprint), The Koran (London: J.M. Dent and Sons).
Dawood, N.J., trans. (1976 reprint), The Koran (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin).
Sale, George, trans. (no date), The Koran (New York: Hurst).
Tisdall, W. St. Clair (1905), The Original Sources of the Quran (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge).

The Myth of "Factual" Bible Contradictions by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Myth of "Factual" Bible Contradictions

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

His preacher described the young man as a “solid Christian.” He was a devout follower of Christ who was enthusiastic about living for Jesus. From the time he was a young boy, his grandmother had taken him to worship God on the first day of every week. After becoming a Christian, he had, according to his preacher, “attended every service of the church.” He grew in the faith, and began taking part in leading the congregation in prayer. Later, he personally taught the congregation by occasionally standing before the church and reading the Bible to them aloud, at times even delivering short talks. Before departing for the university (about an hour away from his hometown), the young 18-year-old from West Virginia was considered by those who knew him best as a dedicated Christian with impressive potential—one whose shield of faith would stand strong when worldliness attacked, and whose foundation would remain firm when shaken by the devil’s doctrines.
Sadly, only a short time passed before this young man lost his faith. He went to college as a believer in the God of the Bible, and came home an “enlightened” skeptic. One of the first classes he took at the university was an elective course on world religions. Initially, he thought he could handle whatever questions came his way about Christianity. He had memorized numerous verses in the Bible. He knew all about the uniqueness of the church. He even could tell people what to do in order to have their sins forgiven. It took, however, little time for one teacher in one class inone university to turn this “solid Christian” into an unbeliever.
What led to the demise of this young man’s belief in God, and the Bible as His Word? Why did this young Christian’s faith crumble so easily? It all began with his inability to handle the “factual discrepancies” that his newly found friends had convinced him were in the Bible. When asked to explain to his teacher and fellow classmates how hundreds of “Bible contradictions” are not contradictions at all, but simply misunderstandings on man’s part, he would not...because he could not. After being bombarded with hundreds of questions that he was incapable of answering, eventually he began denying the truths he once believed. Not long after this young man’s “transformation,” he gave one of his childhood mentors (the preacher of the church where he was reared) a document titled “Factual Discrepancies.” That document (of which I have a copy) contains nearly seventy alleged “factual” contradictions that supposedly are found within the Bible. Because this frustrated young man from West Virginia (who had been taught the Bible his whole life) was unable to answer these allegations, he gave up on the God of the Bible. His faith in the inerrant, inspired Word of God was replaced with the vacuousness of a skeptic’s uncertainty—all because he was unable to defend the Truth against the vicious, frequent attacks leveled against it by infidelity.
I wonder how many times this true story could be rehearsed by mothers and fathers all over the world? How many grandmothers (like the one mentioned above) have seen their “work” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15) destroyed at the hands of infidels? How many young college students leave home as “solid” Christians, and return four years later as “enlightened” skeptics?
This issue of Reason & Revelation is dedicated to answering six of the list of seventy alleged “factual” Bible contradictions the young West Virginian was presented at the university. It is my hope that you will see how easily these allegations can be answered—logically and truthfully. [The numbers of each “contradiction” match those on the list given to the young man. Our responses to most of the others can be found on the “Alleged Discrepancies” section of the Apologetics Press Web site.]


Animals or Man Created First?

After reading the first two chapters of the Bible, some skeptics, in an attempt to disprove the Bible’s inerrancy, have accused the writer of Genesis of erring in regard to the record of events occurring on day six of creation. While Genesis 1:24-27 plainly indicates that man was createdafter the animals, critics claim that Genesis 2:18-19 teaches that man was created beforeanimals. Skeptics assert that such language by the author of Genesis proves that the Bible is not divinely inspired.
Some Bible students resolve this alleged contradiction by explaining that the Hebrew verb translated “formed” could have been translated “had formed.” In his Exposition of Genesis, H.C. Leupold wrote:
Without any emphasis on the sequence of acts, the account here records the making of the various creatures and the bringing of them to man. That in reality they had been made prior to the creation of man is so entirely apparent from chapter one as not to require explanation. But the reminder that God had “molded” them makes obvious His power to bring them to man and so is quite appropriately mentioned here. It would not, in our estimation, be wrong to translate yatsar as a pluperfect in this instance: “He had molded.” The insistence of the critics upon a plain past is partly the result of the attempt to make chapters one and two clash at as many points as possible (1942, p. 130, emp. added).
Hebrew scholar Victor Hamilton agreed with Leupold’s assessment of Genesis 2:19, as he also recognized that “it is possible to translate formed as ‘had formed’ ” (1990, p. 176). Keil and Delitzsch stated in the first volume of their Old Testament commentary that “our modern style for expressing the same thought [which the Holy Spirit via Moses intended to communicate—EL] would be simply this: ‘God brought to Adam the beasts which He had formed’ ” (1996, emp. added). Adding even more credence to this interpretation is the fact that the New International Version renders the verb in verse 19, not as simple past tense, but rather as a pluperfect: “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air” (emp. added). Although Genesis chapters 1 and 2 agree even when yatsar is translated simply “formed,” it is important to note that the four Hebrew scholars mentioned above, and the translators of the NIV, all believe that it could (or should) be rendered “had formed.” And, as Leupold acknowledged, those who deny this possibility do so (at least partly) because of their insistence on making the two chapters disagree.
The main reason that skeptics do not see harmony in the events recorded in the first two chapters of the Bible (especially regarding the order of God’s creation—whether vegetation, birds, land animals, man, etc.) is because they fail to realize the fact that Genesis 1 and 2 serve different purposes. Chapter one (including 2:1-4) focuses on the order of the creation events; chapter two (actually 2:5-25) simply provides more detailed information about some of the events mentioned in chapter one. Chapter two never was meant to be a regurgitation of chapter one, but instead serves its own unique purpose—to develop in detail the more important features of the creation account, especially the creation of man and his surroundings. As Kenneth Kitchen noted in his book, Ancient Orient and Old Testament:
Genesis 1 mentions the creation of man as the last of a series, and without any details, whereas in Genesis 2 man is the center of interest and more specific details are given about him and his setting. Failure to recognize the complementary nature of the subject-distinction between a skeleton outline of all creation on the one hand, and the concentration in detail on man and his immediate environment on the other, borders on obscurantism (1966, p. 117).
Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe summarized some of the differences in Genesis 1-2 in the following chart (1992, p. 35).
Genesis 1Genesis 2
Chronological orderTopical order
Creating animalsNaming animals
The fact is,
Genesis 2 does not present a creation account at all but presupposes the completion of God’s work of creation as set forth in chapter 1.... Chapter 2 is built on the foundation of chapter 1 and represents no different tradition than the first chapter or discrepant account of the order of creation (Archer, 1982, pp. 68-69).
In short, Genesis chapters 1 and 2 are harmonious in every way. What may seem as a contradiction at first glance is essentially a more detailed account. The text of Genesis 2:19 says nothing about the relative origins of man and beast in terms of chronology, but merely suggests that the animals were formed before being brought to man in order to be named.
CreationIf one still rejects both the possibility of yatsar being translated “had formed,” and the explanation of the two chapters being worded differently because of the purposes they serve, a final response to the skeptic’s allegations is that the text never says that there were no animals created on the sixth day of creation afterAdam. Although in my judgment it is very unlikely that God created a special group of animals to be named by Adam (after creating all others before the creation of man—Genesis 1:20-27), some commentators do hold this view. After his comments concerning the translation of yatsar, Victor Hamilton indicated that the creatures mentioned in 2:19 refer “to the creation of a special group of animals brought before Adam for naming” (1990, p. 176, emp. added). Hamilton believes that most all the animals on the Earth were created before Adam; however, those mentioned in 2:19 were created on day six after Adam, for the purpose of being named. In U. Cassuto’s comments on Genesis 2 regarding the time Adam named the animals, he stated: “Of all the species of beasts and flying creatures that had been created and had spread over the face of the earth and the firmament of the heavens, the Lord God nowformed particular specimens for the purpose of presenting them all before man in the midst of the Garden” (1961, p. 129, emp. added). Both of these long-time Bible students recognize that the text never says there were no animals created after Adam, but that all animals were created either on day five or day six (before and possibly even after Adam’s creation). However unorthodox (or unlikely) this particular position might be, it does serve as another reason why skeptics have no foundation upon which to stand when they assert that a contradiction exists between Genesis 1:24-27 and 2:19.


A Slip of the Mind?

In 1 Corinthians 10:7-10, the apostle Paul gave four “examples” of how God’s chosen people in the Old Testament had sinned by lusting “after evil things.” At one time or another, the Israelites had been guilty of worshipping false gods (v. 7), committing sexual immorality (v. 8), as well as tempting God and complaining against the Almighty (vss. 9-10). It is the second example Paul gives in this list (involving the Israelites’ sexual immorality) that has been the brunt of much criticism. Allegedly, this verse is in direct opposition with what Moses recorded in the Pentateuch. Whereas Paul stated, “[I]n one day twenty-three thousand [Israelites—EL] fell” as a result of their sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 10:8), Moses recorded that “those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand” (Numbers 25:9).
Some apologists (Archer, 1982, p. 401; Geisler and Howe, 1992, pp. 458-459) have attempted to resolve this infamous case of “the missing thousand” by claiming that the Old Testament event to which Paul alluded was the plague Jehovah sent upon the people after they made a golden calf (Exodus 32:35), and not the plague recorded in Numbers 25:9. The problem with this explanation is that Exodus 32 focuses on idolatry, not sexual immorality. Although idolatry sometimes included sexual immorality, most likely Paul was not referring to the events that took place after Moses’ descent from Mount Sinai (Exodus 32).
So how can we explain Paul’s statement in light of the information given in Numbers 25:9 (the probable “sister” passage to 1 Corinthians 10:8)? The answer lies in the fact that Paul stated that 23,000 fell “in one day,” while in Numbers 25 Moses wrote that the total number of those who died in the plague was 24,000. Moses never indicated how long it took for the 24,000 to die, but only stated that this was the number “who died in the plague.” Thus, the record in 1 Corinthians simply supplies us with more knowledge about what occurred in Numbers 25—23,000 of the 24,000 who died in the plague died “in one day.”
It is troubling to see how one particular apologist attempts to explain this alleged contradiction. In the popular book, Hard Sayings of the Bible, Peter Davids made the following comments regarding “the missing thousand” in 1 Corinthians 10:8:
It is possible that Paul, citing the Old Testament from memory as he wrote to the Corinthians, referred to the incident in Numbers 25:9, but his mind slipped a chapter later in picking up the number.... We cannot rule out the possibility that there was some reference to 23 or 23,000 in his local environment as he was writing and that caused a slip in his mind.
Paul was not attempting to instruct people on Old Testament history and certainly not on the details of Old Testament history.
Thus here we have a case in which Paul apparently makes a slip of the mind for some reason (unless he has special revelation he does not inform us about), but the mental error does not affect the teaching. How often have we heard preachers with written Bibles before them make similar errors of details that in no way affected their message? If we notice it (and few usually do), we (hopefully) simply smile and focus on the real point being made. As noted above, Paul probably did not have a written Bible to check (although at times he apparently had access to scrolls of the Old Testament), but in the full swing of dictation he cited an example from memory and got a detail wrong (pp. 598-599, parenthetical comments in orig., emp. added).
Supposedly, Paul just made a mistake. He messed up, just like when a preacher today mistakenly misquotes a passage of Scripture. According to the repetitious testimony of Davids, Paul merely had “a slip of the mind” (thereby experiencing what some today might call a “senior moment”), and our reaction (as well as the skeptics’) should be to “simply smile and focus on the real point being made.”
Unbelievable! Walter Kaiser, Peter Davids, Manfred Brauch, and F.F. Bruce pen an 800-page book in an attempt to answer numerous alleged Bible contradictions and to defend the integrity of the Bible, and yet Davids has the audacity to say that the apostle Paul “cited an example from memory and got a detail wrong.” Why in the world did Davids spend so much time (and space) answering various questions that skeptics frequently raise, and then conclude that the man who penned almost half of the New Testament books made mistakes in his writings?! He has concluded exactly what the infidels teach—Bible writers made mistakes. Furthermore, if Paul made one mistake in his writings, he easily could have blundered elsewhere. And if Paul made mistakes in other writings, how can we say that Peter, John, Isaiah, and others did not “slip up” occasionally? The fact is, if Paul, or any of these men, made mistakes in their writings, then they were not inspired by God (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21), because God does not make mistakes (cf. Titus 1:2; Psalm 139:1-6). And if the Scriptures were not “given by inspiration of God,” then the Bible is not from God. And if the Bible is not from God, then the skeptic is right. But as we noted above, the skeptic is not right! First Corinthians 10:8 can be explained logically without assuming Paul’s writings are inaccurate.
Sadly, Davids totally dismisses the numerous places where Paul claims his writings are from God. When Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia, he told them that his teachings came to him “through revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:12). In his first letter to the Thessalonian Christians, he claimed the words he wrote were “by the word of the Lord” (4:15). To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote that God’s message was “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (3:5). In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter put Paul’s letters on a par with the Old Testament Scriptures when he compared them to “the rest of the Scriptures.” And in the same epistle where Davids claims that Paul “made a slip of the mind,” Paul said, “the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37).
Paul did not “invent” facts about Old Testament stories. Neither did he have to rely on his own cognizance to remember particular numbers or names. The Holy Spirit revealed the Truth to him—all of it (cf. John 14:26; John 16:13). Just like the writers of the Old Testament, Paul was fully inspired by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Samuel 23:2; Acts 1:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 3:15-16; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).


A Coin Called “Daric”

Before Solomon began building the “holy house” of God, his father David challenged the Israelites to consecrate themselves by bringing an offering to the Lord that would be used in the Temple’s construction (1 Chronicles 29:3-5). The text indicates that “the leaders of the fathers’ houses, leaders of the tribes of Israel, the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the officers over the king’s work, offered willingly” (29:6). They gave 5,000 talents of gold, 10,000 talents of silver, 18,000 talents of bronze, and 100,000 talents of iron. First Chronicles 29:7 also indicates that these Israelites gave 10,000 darics of gold.
The use of currency known as darics in a narrative that predated the invention of the currency by 500 years has led some to believe the author of Chronicles lacked divine guidance. These critics correctly assert that the daric was a coin of the Persian Empire (probably derived from Darius the Mede). Furthermore, it is true that even though the chronicler used the daric to evaluate a Temple offering that took place around 970 B.C., this coinage was unknown to David (Wycliffe, 1962). It was not minted before 515 B.C. (Dillard and Longman, 1994, p. 171), and probably was not known in Palestine until the fifth century B.C. (when the book of Chronicles likely was written). So why does this not invalidate the inerrancy of the Scriptures? After all, a narrative that has things (like money) in it that obviously did not exist when the narrative took place is nothing but a fairy tale, right?
Actually, the use of the term “daric” by the writer of Chronicles in the fifth century B.C. does not mean that he believed (or wanted his readers to believe) that the Israelites in David’s time possessed darics. The chronicler merely expressed—in language that would be intelligible to his readers—the sum of the gold donated by the Israelites, without intending to assume that there were darics in use in the time of David (Keil and Delitzsch, 1996). He simply used a term that was popular in his own day to help his readers better understand the sacrifice of those who gave the gold (cf. Ezra 2:69; 8:27; Nehemiah 7:70-72).
Darics courtesy of ancient-coin-forum.com
The chronicler used a figure of speech known as “prolepsis” (the assignment of something, such as an event or name, to a time that precedes it). People often use prolepsis for the sake of convenience, or so that the reader or audience can better understand what is being communicated. For example, I might say, “My wife and I dated two years before we got married,” when actually she was not my wife when we were dating, but a very dear friend. We may see a special on television about when President Ronald Reagan was a boy, but the fact is, Ronald Reagan was not president of the United States when he was a boy. From time to time, even the Bible uses this kind of accommodative language. In John 11, the Bible speaks of a woman named Mary who “anointed the Lord with ointment” (11:1-2), yet this anointing actually did not occur for about three months. John merely spoke about it as having already happened because when he wrote his gospel account, this event generally was known. Another example of prolepsis is found in Genesis 13:3 where we read that Abraham “went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel.” This area actually did not wear the name Bethel until years later when Jacob gave it that name (Genesis 28:19). However, when Moses wrote of this name hundreds of years later, he was free to use it even when writing about a time before the name actually was given. Likewise, the chronicler used accommodative language when explaining the free-will offerings given to help in constructing the Temple of God.
Admittedly, the writer of Chronicles used measures of his period familiar to modern readers even when writing about events that took place 500 years beforehand. However, converting measures does not destroy the inerrancy of Scripture!


Motives Matter

In roughly 841 B.C., the commander of Israel’s army, Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, was anointed king over the northern kingdom and was commanded by the Lord to “strike down the house of Ahab” and “cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel, both bond and free” (2 Kings 9:6-10). After receiving this command from the Lord via one of “the sons of the prophets,” Jehu began his assassination of Ahab’s family. He started by slaying Ahab’s son, Joram (also known as Jehoram), who was ruling Israel at the time Jehu was anointed king. He then proceeded to kill Ahaziah (the king of Judah and grandson of Jezebel—9:27-29) and forty-two of Ahaziah’s brothers (10:12-14). Later, he slew (or had others slay) Jezebel (the mother of Joram and former wife of the deceased Ahab—9:30-37), all seventy sons of Ahab who were living in Samaria and “all who remained to Ahab in Samaria” (10:1-10,17), and “all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel,” including “all his great men and his close acquaintances, and his priests” (10:11). Jehu’s final stop was at the temple of Baal where, upon gathering all the Baal-worshipping leaders of Israel into the temple, he locked them up and had them massacred (10:18-27).
After Jehu had carried out his orders to obliterate all males from the house of Ahab, the Lord said to him:
Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation (10:30).
Jehu had taken the most thorough means of suppressing the idolatry in Israel, and thus was granted protection on his throne, along with his sons after him, unto “the fourth generation.” The following chapters of 2 Kings indicate that the Lord was true to His word (as always; cf. Titus 1:2). Although the reigns of Jehu’s sons were described as kings who “did evil in the sight of Yahweh,” the Lord allowed them to reign to the fourth generation in order to fulfill His promise to Jehu.
Several years after the above events took place, the prophet Hosea expressed words that many skeptics have claimed are in opposition to what is stated in 2 Kings 9-10. When Gomer, Hosea’s wife, bore a son, Hosea declared that the Lord said, “Call his name Jezreel, for in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, and bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel” (1:4). Those trying to discredit the Bible’s integrity argue that Hosea put himself into obvious disagreement with the inspired writer of 2 Kings, who thought that Jehu had done “all” that was in God’s heart. Skeptics claim that the author of 2 Kings heaped praise on Jehu for the Jezreel massacre, but Hosea contradicted him when he said that the Lord would avenge the blood of Jezreel, and bring to an end the reign of the house of Jehu in Israel. What can be said about this “obvious disagreement”? Are these two passages harmonious, or is this a legitimate contradiction that should cause Bible believers like the young man from West Virginia to reject the book that has been tried and tested for hundreds of years?
First, we cannot be 100% certain that Hosea 1:4 is referring to the events recorded in 2 Kings 9-10. Although nearly all skeptics (and Bible commentators) link the two passages together, it must be understood that just because 2 Kings 9-10 is the only place in the Old Testament that describes suitable events located at Jezreel, it does not mean that Hosea must have been referring to those events. The honest student of God’s Word has to admit that Hosea could have been referring to Jehu’s sons who reigned after him. Perhaps his sons performed serious atrocities in Jezreel that are not recorded in 2 Kings. One cannot be certain that Hosea was indeed referring to the events recorded in 2 Kings 10. Having made such a disclaimer, it is my position that these two passages should be linked, and thus the alleged contradiction raised by skeptics deserves an adequate explanation: How could God tell Jehu to destroy the house of Ahab, and then later condemn him (his house) via the words of Hosea for having done so?
The answer really is quite simple. As Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe observed: “God praised Jehu for obeying Him in destroying the house of Ahab, but condemned Jehu for his sinful motive in shedding their blood” (1992, p. 194). Skeptics are fond of citing 2 Kings 10:30 to support their position, but they often conveniently overlook verses 29 and 31, which state:
Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan.... Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin.
Jehu obeyed God’s command to “strike down the house of Ahab” and utterly exterminate his descendants (2 Kings 9:7-8; 10:30), but he did not obey God in all that he did (cf. Genesis 6:22). The passage in 2 Kings 10:29-31 indicates that even though Jehu had done what God commanded, “he did so out of a carnal zeal that was tainted with protective self-interest” (Archer, 1982, p. 208). It seems obvious that since Jehu followed in the footsteps of Israel’s first wicked king by worshipping false gods and not walking according to God’s law, he did not destroy Ahab’s descendants out of any devotion to the Lord. Furthermore, in commenting on Jehu’s actions, biblical scholar Gleason Archer noted:
The important principle set forth in Hosea 1:4 was that when blood is shed, even in the service of God and in obedience to His command, blood-guiltiness attaches to God’s agent himself if his motive was tainted with carnal self-interest rather than by a sincere concern for the purity of the faith and the preservation of God’s truth (such as, for example, animated Elijah when he had the 450 prophets of Baal put to death after the contest with them on Mount Carmel) [1982, p. 209, parenthetical item in orig.].
Considering Jehu’s actions by examining the motives behind those actions solves the alleged contradiction. Jehu’s failure to obey God’s commands and depart from the sins of Jeroboam revealed that he would have equally disobeyed the other commands as well, had it been contrary to his own desires. The story of Jehu’s conquest teaches a great lesson, which Albert Barnes acknowledged in his commentary on Hosea: “[I]f we do what is the will of God for any end of our own, for anything except God, we do, in fact, our own will, not God’s” (1997). Indeed, just as the apostle Paul taught in his discourse on love—motives matter (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)!


In What Order Did Satan Tempt Jesus?

If you have ever compared Matthew’s account of Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness with Luke’s account, you likely noticed that there was a difference in the sequence of the recorded events (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). Both Matthew and Luke agree that Satan first tested Jesus by challenging Him to turn stones to bread. However, while the two disciples of Jesus agree on the content of the next two tests, the second and third temptations recorded by Matthew are “flip-flopped” in Luke’s account. Matthew recorded that Satan’s second temptation involved him trying to persuade Jesus to throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple. The third temptation listed by Matthew was Satan’s attempt to get Jesus to worship him. Even though Luke wrote about the same two events, he listed them in reverse order—Satan first desired adoration from Jesus, and then challenged Him to throw Himself down off the pinnacle of the Temple. Based upon this difference, skeptics claim we have a clear-cut “factual discrepancy.”
The problem with this allegation is that it is based upon an assumption. Those who claim that the “disorder” of temptations is a contradiction, presuppose that history always is written (or spoken) chronologically. However, common sense tells us otherwise. Open almost any world history textbook, and you will notice that even though most events are recorded chronologically, some are arranged topically. For example, in one chapter you may read about the European civilization in the late Middle Ages (A.D. 1000-1300). Yet, in the very next chapter you might learn about Medieval India (150 B.C.-A.D. 1400). Authors arrange textbooks thematically in order to reduce the confusion that would arise if every major event in those textbooks were arranged chronologically. Even when we rehearse life experiences to friends and family, oftentimes we speak climactically rather than chronologically. A teenager may return home from an amusement park, and tell his father about all of the roller coasters he rode at Six Flags. Likely, rather than mentioning all of them in the order he rode them, he will start with the most exciting ones, and end with the boring ones (if there is indeed such a thing as a “boring” roller coaster).
Had Matthew and Luke claimed to arrange the temptations of Jesus chronologically, then the skeptics would have a legitimate case. But, the fact of the matter is, neither Matthew nor Luke ever made any such claim. Either one of the two gospel writers recorded these events in the exact order in which they occurred, or both of them wrote topically. Most biblical scholars believe that it is very likely that Matthew was concerned more with the order of events in this story because of his use of words like “then” (4:5, Greek tote) and “again” (4:8, Greek palin). These two specific adverbs seem to indicate a more sequential order of the temptations. Luke simply links the events by using the Greek words kai and de (4:2,5-6, translated “and”). [The NKJV’s translation ofkai as “then” in Luke 4:5 is incorrect. It should be translated simply “and” (cf. ASV, KJV,NASV, and RSV).] Similar to the English word “and” not having specific chronological implications, neither do the Greek words kai and de (Richards, 1993, p. 230). In short, Luke’s account of the temptations of Jesus is arranged topically (or possibly climactically), whereas Matthew’s account seems to be arranged chronologically.



Perhaps the most famous alleged Bible contradiction centers on Peter’s triple denial of Jesus and the crowing of a rooster. For years, skeptics have charged that Mark’s account of this event blatantly contradicts the other gospel accounts, thus supposedly “proving” the imperfection of the Scriptures. Even Bible believers have questioned the differences surrounding this event, yet relatively few have taken the time to understand them. Whenever people ask us about Peter’s denials and the differences within the gospel accounts, we often fail to give an adequate answer to their questions (see 1 Peter 3:15). This lack of understanding, and poor defense of God’s Word, has led skeptics to become more confident in their position (i.e., that the Bible is not God’s Word), and has caused some Bible believers (like the young West Virginia man I mentioned earlier) to abandon their position on the infallibility of the Scriptures.
The passages in question are found in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 13. Matthew, Luke, and John all quoted Jesus as saying that Peter would deny Him three times before therooster crowed.
Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (Matthew 26:34).
Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me” (Luke 22:34).
Jesus answered him...“Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times” (John 13:38).
After the third denial actually took place, these three writers recorded that Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled exactly the way He said it would be.
And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (Matthew 26:74b-75).
Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (Luke 22:60-61).
Peter then denied again [for the third time—EL]; and immediately a rooster crowed (John 18:27).
Matthew, Luke, and John all indicated that Peter denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. Mark’s account, however, says otherwise. He recorded Jesus’ prophecy as follows: “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times” (Mark 14:30, emp. added). Following Peter’s first denial of Jesus, we learn that he “went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed” (Mark 14:68). After Peter’s third denial of Jesus, the rooster crowed “a second time.... Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times’ ” (Mark 14:72).
Mark differs from the other writers, in that he specified the rooster crowed once after Peter’s first denial, and again after his third denial. But, do these differences represent a legitimate contradiction? Absolutely not!
Consider the following illustration. A family of three went to a high school football game together for the first time. The father and son had been to several games prior to this one, but the mother never had been fortunate enough to attend a high school game until now. After entering the stadium, Ricky tells his 16-year-old son, Cary, that they will meet him right outside Gate 12 afterthe buzzer sounds. Having filed away the instructions, Cary races to the stands to ensure that he sees the opening kickoff. Ricky’s wife, Vickie, who did not hear the instructions he gave Cary, then asks him when they were going to see Cary again. He responds, “We are going to meet him right outside the gate we just entered after the fourth buzzer.” After the fourth buzzer? But he told Cary after the buzzer sounded they would meet him. Did Ricky contradict himself? No. At this particular stadium, the time keepers normally sound a buzzer after each quarter. But, when we say “at the buzzer,” or when we speak of “a buzzer beater” (such as in basketball), usually we are referring to the final buzzer. Cary was familiar with sports lingo, and thus Ricky told him they would see him “after the buzzer sounds.” Vickie, on the other hand, having never attended a football game in her life, was given different instructions. In a more precise way, Ricky instructed her that Cary would meet them, not after the first, second, or third buzzer, but after the fourth and final buzzer that marks the end of regulation play. Ricky knew that if he told Vickie, “Cary will meet us after the buzzer sounds,” she would have expected to meet him after the first buzzer sounded. Thus, Ricky simply informed Vickie in a more detailed manner. Surely, no one would claim that Ricky had contradicted himself.
In a similar way, no one should assume that because three of the gospel writers mentioned onecrowing, while Mark mentioned two crowings, that a contradiction exists. Realistically, there were two “rooster crowings.” However, it was the second one (the only one Matthew, Luke, and John mentioned) that was the “main” crowing (like the fourth buzzer was the “main” buzzer at the football game). In the first century, roosters were accustomed to crowing at least twiceduring the night. The first crowing (which only Mark mentioned—14:68) usually occurred between twelve and one o’clock. Relatively few individuals ever heard or acknowledged this crowing (see “cock,” Fausset’s Bible Dictionary, 1998). It is likely that Peter never heard it; else surely his slumbering conscience would have awakened.
The second crowing took place not long before daybreak. It was this latter crowing that commonly was called “the cockcrowing.” Why? Because it was at this time of night (just before daybreak) that roosters crowed the loudest, and their “shrill clarion” was useful in summoning laborers to work (see “cock-crowing,” McClintock and Strong, 1968, 2:398). This crowing of the roosters served as an alarm clock to those in the ancient worldMark recorded earlier in his gospel account that Jesus spoke of this “main” crowing when He said: “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning” (Mark 13:35, emp. added). Interestingly, even when workers were called to their labors via artificial devices (e.g., bugles), this time of the night still was designated by the proverbial phrase, “the cockcrowing” (see “cock-crowing” in McClintock and Strong, 2:398). If you lived in the first century, and your boss said to be ready to work when “the rooster crows,” you would know he meant that work begins just before daybreak. If he said that work begins at the second crowing of the rooster, likewise, you would know he meant the same thing—work begins just before daylight. These are not contradictory statements, but rather two ways of saying the same thing.
When Jesus said, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (Matthew 26:34), it is obvious that He was using the phrase “the rooster crows” in the more conventional way. Mark, on the other hand, specified that there were two crowings. In the same way that the husband gives his wife more detailed instructions concerning a football game, Mark used greater precision in recording this event. It may be that Mark quoted the exact words of Jesus, while the other writers (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit) saw fit to employ the less definite style to indicate the same time of night (McGarvey, 1875, p. 355). Or, perhaps Jesus made both statements. After Peter declared that he never would deny the Lord, Jesus could have repeated His first comment and added another detail, saying: “[E]ven this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times” (Mark 14:30, emp. added). We cannot be certain why Mark’s account is worded differently than the other writers, but by understanding that “the rooster crowing” commonly was used to indicate a time just before daybreak, we can be assured that absolutely no contradiction exists among the gospel writers.


In just over six thousand words, six of the seventy “factual” Bible contradictions given to the young West Virginian who abandoned his faith in the inspired, inerrant Word of God have been radically downgraded from “factual” to “fictitious.” If space permitted, each one of the “factual” contradictions could be refuted rather easily with the proper use of both “reason” and “revelation.”
What would have happened if the young man from West Virginia had taken the time to investigate these matters? Where would he be today, had someone been able to show him how all these “factual” Bible contradictions are anything but factual? Surely, by now you realize that the blows of the critic’s axe need not shake the Christian’s faith. Indeed, after almost 2,000 years of “skeptics’ blows,” God’s forest of inspiration still stands unmarred.


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Barnes, Albert (1997), Barnes’ Notes (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
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