We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Friday, June 16, 2017

Bible “Contradictions” Rebutted, #6

With this episode, I begin looking at claims of contradictions in the New Testament.

Contradiction claim #42, Who is the father of Joseph?

Matt. 1:16  And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
Luke 3:23 And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli.
The modern hoops theologians go through to fix an apparent contradiction in the genealogies overlook the real case that Eusebius explained 1700 years ago!  Heli and Jacob, who are both called Joseph’s father, were half brothers with the same mother, Estha. 
Matthan (descended from Solomon and named in Matthew’s list) was Estha’s first husband and they had Jacob.  Melchi (descended from Nathan, and named in Luke’s list) was her second husband and they had Heli.
According to the information Eusebius found in his research, Heli died childless and, under the Levirate marriage laws, Jacob took Heli’s wife and had Joseph. Ergo, Joseph was the biological son of Jacob, but the legal son of Heli.  
Notice that Matthew uses the term “begot” for Joseph’s physical descent. Luke doesn’t use that term, rather he just says “the son of.”
Eusebius cited historical information for these details.

Contradiction claim #43, Human vs. ghostly impregnation.

Matt. 1:18  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
Mary gave birth “according to the flesh” and she was a descendent of David.  Jesus was the fruit of her “loins” and Mary was the fruit of her parents’ loins.  Acts did not say she was impregnated “according to the flesh,” only that Jesus would be a descendant of David (the literal term “fruit of his loins according to the flesh merely means that he will be a descendant).  

Contradiction claim #44, Jesus' first sermon on a plain or mount?

Matt. 5:1,2: "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying...."
Luke  6:17,20: 
"And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people...came to hear him.. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples and said..."
Where does it say these are the same sermon?  His teachings were the same no matter where he taught.  There is no contradiction even apparent.

Contradiction claim #45, How many beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount?

Matt. 5:3-11  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Luke 6:20-23   And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.  Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.  Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
If these were the same sermon, which isn’t necessarily the case, all it demonstrates is that one gospel recorded a more complete account.  However, Matthew says Christ stood on a mountain, while Luke is recording a teaching taking place “in the plain.”  Where is the contradiction?

Contradiction claim #46, Do we display our good deeds?

Matt 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (NIV)
Matt 6:3-4  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (NIV)
The first passage is discussing how the Christian is to behave, while the second passage - in context - is rebuking the idea of giving offerings with the show of broadcasting how much you give.

Contradiction claim #47,  How long was Jesus in the tomb?

Depends where you look; Matthew 12:40 gives Jesus prophesying that he will spend "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth," and Mark 10:34 has "after three days (meta treis emeras) he will rise again." As far as I can see from a quick look, the prophecies have "after three days," but the post-Resurrection narratives have "on the third day."
Well, commentators disagree on what day Christ was crucified, with most holding to the traditional Friday, which leads to some convoluted explanations about how part of a day equals a whole day, and so forth.  But it still doesn't give us three nights if He was buried Friday and rose Sunday AM.  However, John tells us it was a special Sabbath (John 18:28) and not the weekly Sabbath. There have been computations as for the Passover Sabbath beginning at sundown Wednesday.  So, if Christ was placed in the grave on Wednesday, he spent Wednesday night, Thursday night and Friday night in the tomb, but arose Saturday evening, which began the first day of the week.  It was early morning Sunday, before dawn, when the women first went to the tomb and He was already gone, not having spent Saturday night in the tomb.  As for the days, He spent all day Thursday, all day Friday and all day Saturday, rising before sunset began the new day.  So Saturday made 3-days in the tomb and it was also the 3rd day since Wednesday.  If, as other commentators suggest, Christ was crucified on Thursday and rose Sunday morning, then one would count the partial Thursday, all day Friday and all day Saturday as the days, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights as the three nights. Then rising on Sunday would be the 3rd day since Thursday.

Contradiction claim #48, What was Jesus' prediction regarding Peter's denial?

Matt. 26:34  Before the cock crow
Mark 14:30  Before the cock crow twice
Matthew didn’t say how many times the cock would crow so he is not contradicting Mark who said it would be twice.  Matthew just says the cock will crow.

Contradiction claim #49, Who prophesied the potter's field?

Matthew 27:9-10 mentions “Jeremy” but no such verse in Jeremiah, but it is in Zechariah 11:12-13
This one is indeed difficult.  Gleason Archer gives the following explanation in his book, “Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties”:  There are significant differences between the Zechariah passage and the quotation in Matthew, which has the prophet paying out - or at least giving - the purchase money, and has him turning over the money for a field rather than giving it to the potter personally. Yet the whole point of the quotation in Matthew is directed toward the purchase of the field. The Zechariah passage says nothing at all about purchasing a field; indeed, it does not even mention a field at all.  But as we turn to Jeremiah 32:6-9, we find the prophet purchasing a field in Anathoth for a certain number of shekels.  Jeremiah 18:2 describes the prophet as watching a potter fashioning earthenware vessels in his house.  Jeremiah 19:2 indicates that there was a potter near the temple, having his workshop in the Valley of Hinnom.  Jeremiah 19:11 reads: “Thus says Yahweh of hosts: ‘Even so I will break this people and this city as one breaks a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet.’”  It would seem, therefore, that Zechariah’s casting of his purchase money back to the potter dated back to the symbolic actions of Jeremiah.  Yet is it only Jeremiah that mentions the “field” of the potter - which is the principal point of Matthew’s quotation.  Matthew is therefore combining and summarizing elements of prophetic symbolism both from Zechariah and from Jeremiah.  But since Jeremiah is the more prominent of the two prophets, he mentions Jeremiah’s name by preference to that of the minor prophet.  A similar procedure is followed by Mark 1:2-3, which attributes only to Isaiah a combined quotation from Malachi  3:1 and Isaiah 40:3.  In that case also, only the more famous of the two prophets is mentioned by name.  Since that was the normal literary practice of the first century A.D., when the Gospels were written, the authors cannot be faulted for not following the modern practice of precise identification and footnoting.

Contradiction claim #50, Who bought the potter’s field and how did Judas die?

Matt. 27:5-7:  And he [Judas] cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests...bought with them the potter's field.
Acts 1:18: Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
Judas cast the coins in the temple, with which the priests bought the field. It was Judas’ money and therefore he did indeed buy the field, as Peter ironically stated.  I can send one of my family members to buy something for me and yet tell someone later that I bought it.  As for how he died, he did indeed hang himself, and the place of his hanging in a tree was most likely over some sort of precipice into which the body fell. How long he was hanging prior to the fall is not stated, but it could have been until Christ was crucified, during which time the conditions which caused the temple curtain to tear and the earthquakes to open the ground could have broken the branch on which Judas hung, dropping the body to the ground and causing it to burst.

Contradiction claim #51, How many apostles were in office between the resurrection and ascension?

Matt. 27:3-5 (minus one from 12)
Matt. 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
Acts 1:9-26 (Mathias not elected until after resurrection)
1 Corinthians 15:5 (12)
Matthew 27:3-5 tells of the death of Judas, which means 11 were left.  Matthew 28:16 spells out that there were 11 men.  And Acts 1:9-26 tells of the replacement.  So what does 1Corinthians 15:5 mean when Paul says “the Twelve”?  It is not contradictory, rather Paul is using a title of the group: even if some are missing they will always be known as “the Twelve”.

No comments: