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Understanding the Bible

2 Timothy 3:16 — All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:


  • A Paradox is not "2 things you put in the water so you can into your boat."

DEFINTION: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.

People Lie

Be patient and allow the Bible to speak for itself. People have agendas and bias that influence their conclusions about the Bible.

Tools of Writing

  • Figures of Speech (Be sure to compare Like forms of speech.)

Ecclesiastes 1:4 — One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

Matthew 24:35 — Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.


a combination of statements, ideas, or features of a situation that are opposed to one another.

There are Contradictions Mentioned in the Bible

  1. Loving God, but hating your brother.

1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

There are no explanations. The variations in comparing original Biblical texts are mostly in the spelling of proper names and in numbers.

A. King Jehoiachin (What age was Jehoiachin when he began his reign?)

2 Chronicles 36:9 — Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. [KJV]

2 Kings 24:8 — Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. [KJV]

  • A copyist’s error? [ O.T. scholar Gleason Archer] In ancient Hebrew, the numbers 8 and 18 would have been differentiated by a very small mark.

    1. hnmv sh@moneh orshmowneh {shem-o-neh'}; feminine shmonah {shem-o-naw'}; or shmownah {shem-o-naw'}; apparently from 8082 through the idea of plumpness; a cardinal number, eight (as if a surplus above the "perfect" seven); also (as ordinal) eighth:--eight((-een, -eenth)), eighth.
    • Shamoneh is found in at least 105 verses. [Sometimes combined with "hundred"]
    • "8" Genesis 5:4; Exodus 26:25; Judges 3:8 [shem-o-neh' = n && sometimes ||| ||| ||] ( vertical strokes in groups of 3)
    • "18" Judges 3:14; 1Ch 26:9; [shamoneh combined with asar][shem-o-neh' + aw-sawr' = n' && sometimes ||| ||| ||'(the mark written above the vertical strokes)]
    • Note:, due to the sheer number of biblical manuscripts, it is usually easy to determine which reading is correct in the instances of apparent copyist’s errors.
    • Some translations correct these two passages. The ESV translates 2 Chronicles 36:9 with “eighteen,” with a footnote.
    • If this is indeed a copyist’s error, the presence of such an error does not invalidate the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. God’s Word is infallible even when well-intentioned but flawed scribes make mistakes. The original giving of God's word was WITHOUT ERROR and over 1000's of years God has preserved His Word that is necessary to the saving of souls though quite impossibly.
    • This 'explanation' does not explain but erase the contradiction.
  • co regents? (The difficult reading is preferable.) 2 Chronicles could be recording Jehoiachin’s age when he was appointed co-regent with his father, and 2 Kings could be recording Jehoiachin’s age when, after his father’s death, he became king in his own right. Nehusta's influence perhaps with multiple sons of the king but Jechoniah was Nehushta's oldest son.

  • How do we process this?

    • How old was Jehoichan when he became king?
    • Do we know the answer?
    • What does it matter? Not doctrinal in any way. WHERE IT IS DOES MATTER.
    • There are PLAUSIBLE Biblical explanations. Just because we do not know for sure WHICH explanation is actually true, does not mean we can conclude this is a contradiction.

B. God sent Gad, to threaten David with how many years of famine?

  • 2 Samuel 24:13 SEVEN years of famine.

2 Samuel 24:13 — So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him,

  • Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or
  • wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or
  • that there be three days' pestilence in thy land?

now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.

  • 1 Chron.: 21:12 THREE years of famine.

1Ch 21:11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee 12 Either

  • three years' famine; or
  • three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else
  • three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel.

Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.

  • Septuagint (The First translation of the Bible, into Greek, maybe 100-300 years before Christ.) has 3 in both cases.
  • COPYISTS ERROR The letter z zain, SEVEN, being mistaken for g gimel? A mistake of this kind might be easily made from the similarity of the letters.


  • Perhaps the prophet Gad actually confronted David on two occasions and not just one. 2 Samuel 24:13 is voiced as a QUESTION and 1 Chronicles 21:11 is voiced as a COMMAND. (First occassion offering the ultimatum and in the second now demanding his decision in which God has responded with some mercy due to David's prayer in the mean time.)

C. When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?

  • 2 Samuel: 8:4 David took ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED horsemen


  • 1 Chron.: 18:4 David took SEVEN THOUSAND horsemen

D. How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?

  • I Kings 4:26: FORTY THOUSAND
  • 2 Chron: 9:25 FOUR THOUSAND

E. The Temple contained how many baths?

  • 1 Kings 7:26 – TWO THOUSAND baths.
  • 2 Chron. 4:5 – THREE THOUSAND baths

The Best Translation (Knowing mistranslations exist, what is the Best Translation? Is there a perfect one?)

  • All we have are COPIES. (actually copies of copies of ...)

More Info & Lists

List of Paradoxes

Paradox #1 "Worthless Servants" and "His Workmanship"

Lu 17:1 ¶ Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! 2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, **forgive him"*. 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. 5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. 6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. 7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? 8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? 9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. 10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

  • Both statements are true — that people are both worthless and a workmanship? How should Christians think about themselves in relation to God? What is a Christian’s worth tied to?

Paradox #2: Longingly satisfied

“Blessed are those who hunger.” (Matthew 5:6)

“No one who comes to me will ever be hungry.” (John 6:35)

  • Application questions: As believers await Christ’s return, how are they to process their current state? In what ways are Christians to hunger and thirst in the present? In what ways are they to be satisfied and rest in God’s provision?

Paradox #3: To yoke or not to yoke?

“Take up my yoke and learn from me.” (Matthew 11:29)

“Don’t submit again to a yoke.” (Galatians 5:1)

  • Application questions: How does Christ’s yoke differ from the yoke of the law? How do Christians practically live under the tension of being free from certain aspects of the ceremonial law while imitating Christ who perfectly obeyed the law?

Paradox #4: The role of works

“A person is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)

“A person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24)

  • Application questions: What false gospels are each of the above verses warning against? What’s the relationship between faith and works in the life of someone who has been justified?

Paradox #5: The Christian life—easy or hard?

“My yoke is easy.” (Matthew 11:30)

“How difficult the road that leads to life.” (Matthew 7:14)

  • Application questions: What should believers expect out of the Christian life—is it easy or difficult? How should a proper understanding this paradox affect the way Christians process the realities of everyday life?

Paradox #6: Who’s the judge?

“The Father judges impartially according to each one’s work.” (1 Peter 1:17)

“The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22)

  • Application questions: What do these passages reveal about Christ as high priest and king?

Paradox #7: Optimist, pessimist, or realist?

“Everything is futile.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

Everything is meaningful—“Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

  • Application questions: What is the meaning of life found in? How does the current state of the universe reflect the realities of both the curse and the Kingdom of God that’s breaking into the world?

Paradox #8: Going public with good works

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works.” (Matthew 5:16)

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.” (Matthew 6:1)

Application questions: How should Christians go about doing good works? Is it OK to post on social media when you’re having devotions or going on a mission trip?

Paradox #9: Give up your tunic; withhold your pearls

“Give to the one who asks you.” (Matthew 5:40-41)

“Don’t toss your pearls before pigs.” (Matthew 7:6)

  • Application questions: How are Christians to steward God’s resources? What differentiates a steward from a philanthropist or a hoarder? Under what circumstances could it be right to not give to someone who asks?

Paradox #10: Testing God

“Test me in this way.” (Malachi 3:10)

“Do not test the Lord your God.” (Luke 4:12)

  • Application questions: What does it mean to test God? How are these commands motivated by faith?

Paradox #11: Is Christ a peacemaker?

“He will be named…Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

“Don’t assume that I came to bring peace.” (Matthew 10:34)

  • Application questions: How does the gospel bring peace but also divisiveness? What peace did Christ bring at this first coming? What peace will Christ bring at His second coming?

Paradox #12: Judging the rightness of judging

“Do not judge.” (Matthew 7:1)

“Judge according to righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

  • Application questions: In what context and frame of mind is it appropriate to judge? When is it wrong? Is “judge not” a trump card that can be pulled out anytime a person is challenged by someone?

Paradox #13: Wise dealings with fools

“Answer a fool.” (Proverbs 26:5)

“Don’t answer a fool.” (Proverbs 26:4)

  • Application questions: How and when should Christian engage foolish talk and actions? How should these verses guide social media interactions?

Paradox #14: The reason for Christ’s coming

“I did not come to judge the world.” (John 12:47)

“I came into this world for judgment.” (John 9:39)

  • Application questions: What was the purpose of Christ’s first coming compared to His second coming? How does an understanding of the gospel narrative reveal both of Christ’s statements are true?