Bible Question: Are there not a number of contradictions in the Bible? And if the Bible is not in harmony with itself; how can we say that it is inspired?

Answer:—There are seemingly many contradictory statements contained in the Bible, and these are due to several causes. One of which are the errors of translation from the original languages in which the Scriptures were written, into the various modern tongues. It is claimed that the Authorized and Douay Versions of the Bible are amenable to twenty thousand amendments! The Revised Versions, both English and American have corrected many of these errors but not all. No one would claim that the translators were inspired. Another fruitful cause for seeming contradictions is, that many Scriptures texts have been taken from their proper connections by Bible expositors and interpreted to mean just opposite to what they do signify. In this way the Bible can be made to support any theory. For instance: in one place it says Judas "went out and hanged himself," and then in another place "go thou and do likewise!" To those who "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15) there is not a single contradiction in all the sacred writings.

Bible Question: How shall we harmonize the apparently contradictory expressions found in the following Scriptural quotations—"Thus have ye made the commandments of God of none effect through your TRADITIONS"? (Mat. 15;6; Mark 7:13.) "And profited in the Jew's religion above many my equals in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the TRADITIONS of my fathers"? (Gal. 1:14.) "There fore, brethren, stand fast and hold the TRADITIONS which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle" (2 Thess. 2:15)?

Answer:—The Savior's words addressed to the Scribes and Pharisees, the religious leaders of His day, have reference to the theories and opinions that had been formed and handed down from the past that were not based upon the inspired testimony of the Prophets and the faithful servants of the Lord. Many of these teachings were in direct opposition to the instructions contained in the Holy Scriptures, and because they were being set forth by those who had been appointed to teach the people the true understanding of the message of the Lord, they were received as being true. In this way the commandment of the Lord had been made void. The Apostle's words had reference to the teachings of the Scriptures and also to his own instructions, which he had presented to those that he was addressing. In other words, there are true traditions and false traditions. All of those which are in harmony with the teachings of the Divine Word are true, and all those which are not in harmony are false and not to be accepted. We cannot be particular in our efforts to get the truth.

Bible Question: Is it possible for Christians to handle deadly serpents and to drink poisons without suffering injury in any form as stated in Mark 16:18?

Answer:—Since God invites man to reason on His Word (Isa. 1:18), we must know that His Word is reasonable. The quotation in the question is unreasonable. But is it a part of God's Word? We answer, No. St. Mark's Gospel originally ended with verse nine, chapter sixteen; the additional verses (10-20 inclusive), which includes the above quotation, are not found in the old manuscripts of the Bible. All scholars are agreed that the addition was made about six hundred years after St. Mark's Gospel was written, and hence the quoted words are no part of the Gospel, and we know them to be untrue. To sanction them, now that we know about them, would be to join with those who wrote them in adding to the Word of God (Rev. 22:18,19). Human experience shows that not even the best of Christians can, with impunity, "Take up serpents and drink deadly poison."

Bible Question: Why did God give us a Bible so difficult to understand? Why wasn't the Bible written in such a way that it could be as easily understood as the daily paper?

Answer:—The Bible is generally conceded to be one of the most difficult books in all the earth to understand. The brightest minds of the world for centuries have differed as to its teachings. Whole libraries of books have been written by authors whose views have conflicted woefully with one another. The entire Christian world today is divided up into more than six hundred factions whose ideas as to the teachings of the Bible are at variance with each other. Yes; the Bible is hard to understand, and few there are who do understand it. It is plainly evident that its Great Author did not wish it to be understood by all, and the Bible itself testifies in harmony with this thought. The disciples came to the Master on one occasion and asked Him, practically the same question that we are now considering. They said "Why speakest thou unto them (the people) in parables (dark sayings?)" In other words: Why Lord, do you not teach the people in clear, plain, and simple language, so that all can understand? "He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you (my followers) to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given." (Mat. 13:10,11). The "mysteries of the Kingdom," the Divine plan of the Ages revealed in the Scriptures, the knowledge of which, is only for those who come into harmony with the Divine will of the Almighty God, the Sovereign Lord of all creation. The Bible is a sealed book to all others, no matter how intellectual they may be. See 1 Cor. 2:7-14.

Bible Question: Why is the Bible so hard to understand? Why cannot EVERY ONE capable of reading the printed page comprehend God's Word?

Answer:—The Bible was not written for the unbelieving, nor was it written in such a manner that the world could understand its teachings. In order to understand the Bible we must come into the attitude of pupils of Christ and must be taught of him. The Bible is like a telescope; it is not sufficient that you see the outside of it, its pedestal and joints. It is not even sufficient that we even look through the telescope. Many have looked down a telescope merely along its shining barrel without seeing out at the other end at all. Even when we look through the telescope properly and out at the other end, still we must have it properly adjusted so that we may obtain the best results and discern objects accurately. So it is with the Bible; as we draw nigh to God, he draws nigh to us; and thus we are enabled to appreciate more and more the deep things of his Word. But only the saintly Bible student is able to understand and appreciate the "breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ" (Eph. 3:18) which passeth knowledge, but which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures. St. Paul gives us the key to the proper understanding, saying, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." But God hath revealed them unto us (the Church, the consecrated) by his spirit. (1 Cor. 2:14,10.) Even the deep things of God are made known by our acquiring more of the spirit of God, the spirit of Truth, the spirit of the Word.

Bible Question: Why is there so much confusion existing in the world today as to the true teachings of the Scriptures?

Answer:—The study of the Scriptures, as with all other lines of investigation, must be conducted systematically, else confusion results. The Apostle Paul counsels us along this line saying, "Study to show thyself approved unto God (not unto men), rightly dividing the word of truth." Many have erred in failing to follow this rule. For instance, in reading Rev. 19:20, some have insisted that the lake of fire and literal brimstone is a real lake filled with brimstone and fire. A mere novice should recognize the passage as highly figurative, especially in view of the fact that it states that a beast and a false prophet are to be cast into it. No thoughtful person would conclude that a real beast and false prophet are meant. Many Bible students have entirely overlooked the importance of "rightly dividing the Word." The Apostle shows that the Divine arrangement, as thus far revealed, is divided into three great dispensations or ages, referred to in our Bibles as "Worlds" (See 2 Peter 3). The major portion of the prophecies relate to the world or age to come, and when we strive to make them fit present evil conditions, confusion results. To illustrate: If we apply the prophecy of Isa. 35:8-10, to the past or present, it is meaningless, whereas it is in exact harmony with the glorious reign of the Messiah, which we all know to be future. As corroborative of this manner of dividing the Word, we see that our Lord (Matt.7:13,14) speaks of the present evil world as "a broad way leading to destruction" and the way to life through Christ as "a strait and narrow way," while in his great prophecy in Matt. 25:31-46, He confirms the prophetic statement of Isaiah.

Bible Question: Please explain 2 Pet. 3:16, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction."

Answer:—From the reading of this chapter, it is evident that "these things," referred to by the Apostle, are the things relating to the three worlds and the three heavens of which he was writing. In 2 Cor. 12:1-4, the Apostle Paul relates how that special visions and revelations had been given him by the Lord, and among these was a view of the "third heaven," and of "paradise." This was a glimpse of "the new heavens and the new earth" mentioned in the 13th verse of this chapter. St. Paul was not permitted to give the details of what had been revealed to him, nevertheless, these revelations influenced all of his writings and caused him to give such expressions as were hard to be understood, but which, in the light of subsequent events, are now being clearly revealed to the sincere and earnest student of the Scriptures. It is now seen that the "unlearned and unstable" have wrested many of the Apostle's statements from their true connection and significance, Scriptures that apply to "the new heavens and the new earth" have been variously warped and twisted from their true application and forcibly assigned to "the heavens that are now" and "this present evil world." As an illustration of this: the Apostle explains that "God has appointed a day (a thousand-year day—2 Pet. 3:8) in the which He will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31), yet many have misapplied this statement and have declared that the world is on trial (being judged) at present.

Bible Question: Jeremiah 8:8 the pen of the scribes is in vain. does this mean the bible was tampered with by the scribes and they could have added some of their interpretation in to the bible?

Answer: The Bible is inspired by God. "All scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" 2 Tim 3:16 The few errors that have crept into the original texts have been identified by scholars. The trouble is not the translations, but that popular religious leaders have interpreted Scripture using man's philosophies . It happened during the Jewish age as Jeremiah recorded. It happened at our Lord's first advent. And it happened again during the "Christian Age".
Jere 8:7-9 "The stork in the heavens knows her seasons, and the turtledove and the swallow and the thrush observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgment of Jehovah. How do you say, We are wise, and the law of Jehovah is with us? Behold, the lying pen of the scribes has certainly worked deceit. The wise are ashamed; they are terrified and are captured. Behold, they have rejected the word of Jehovah, and what wisdom is theirs?" LIT
It helps to look at the context of verse 8, to understand the discussion. Verse seven says that the unfaithful Jewish teachers were showing less discernment than the migratory fowls. They did not discern or understand the times and seasons of God's plan. Verse nine confirms that these "wise" (false) scribes (teachers) had rejected the instruction of God. The verse is rhetorical: how could they be wise if they have rejected God's wisdom as given through His prophets? The point being made is that when God's Truth is ignored, one will not be able to recognize God's "due time".
As recorded in Luke 19:41-44, Jesus made a similar observation of the Jewish religious leaders and the nation during his day. "...because (they) did not know the time of (their) visitation..." they rejected their Messiah. The Word of the Lord by his prophets was made void and tampered with; set aside without attention. It was "due time" for the "new and living way" to be opened up and only a remnant of Israel realized their favor and opportunity and "entered in". Heb 10:20 The same has happened during the Christian age. The prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the New Testament have been ignored. Instead, many favor the traditions and philosophies of men. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Col 2:8
"In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matt 15:9 But God has promised that His true Word can be discerned by the faithful and humble. Find out why the Christian can rely on the Bible for Divine instruction and become wise about the times and the seasons that God has ordained at : htdbv5/indexa.htm "The Bible as a Divine Revelation as Viewed in the Light of Reason" and "The Epochs and Dispensations Marked in the Development of the Divine Plan" are two studies in a Bible study aid book entitled The Divine Plan of the Ages.

Bible Question: How did we get the Bible? Is the Bible inspired? Why do not all translators agree? Which prophets to trust?

1) INSPIRATION — How do we know the accuracy of every word of the Bible and that it is inspired by God?
MEANING OF INSPIRATION. "Inspiration" means "God-breathed" in the Greek. 2 Tim 3:16-17 "All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." Biblical inspiration may be defined as God's superintending of the human authors so that, using their own individual personalities (and even their writing styles), they composed and recorded without error His revelation to man in the words of the original autographs. Inspiration means that "the Holy Spirit of God superintended the human writers in the production of Scripture so that what they wrote was precisely what God wanted written.
ITS WRITERS, ITS AUTHOR. The word Bible means book. The Bible is not one book, however, but a library of sixty-six books, the compilation of which extended over almost 1600 years. Its various writers (for God was the real Author), were drawn from every class of society. Kings, statesmen, priests, laymen, scholars, shepherds, fishermen and others co-operated in its production. One man wrote one part in Syria, another man wrote in Arabia; a third man wrote in Italy, a fourth man wrote in Babylon, others wrote in Israel. And yet, though these writers were divided by time, class and distance so that there was no possibility of any collusion, there is a wonderful harmony manifest in all that they wrote that is quite unlike any other composite work in the realm of literature.
BIBLE HARMONIOUS. That is due only to the fact that God was the moving influence in its production. It was He Who caused the various authors to write as they did, so that each one, in his own individual manner, expressed that which Inspiration caused him to write. Thus all sixty-six books agree perfectly in teaching. Each one harmonizes with the rest, supplementing or expounding upon what has gone before, so that by "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Cor. 2:13), the reader is brought to a complete understanding of the Divine will and purpose and plan.
2) TRUE PROPHETS — In Deut. 18:22 it says that a true prophet is known when his prophecies are fulfilled. How can anyone then know before prophecies are fulfilled that the prophet is true?
PROPHECIES FULFILLED GIVE CREDENCE TO FUTURE PROPHECIES NOT YET FULFILLED. Yes, the Judaeo-Christian Bible is unique with its prophetic descriptions about future events. Some prophecies have a ready occurred; others have not. But it might be observed that prophets who prophesied are verified by some of their prophecies already fulfilled so that we can have confidence that the others will be fulfilled also. Many prophets of the Old Testament speak of events for both the first and second advents of Christ. There were more than 300 prophecies concerning Jesus Christ's first coming 2,000 years ago. There is no doubt that these are prophecies from God because of manuscripts and scrolls dated before the birth of Christ. These were not written after the fact. They were written beforehand. Because they were fulfilled, we can understand that the second advent prophecies will also be fulfilled. For example,
SOME OF JEREMIAH'S PROPHECIES FULFILLED, SOME FUTURE. Jeremiah prophesied that a certain man would die and he did within a year (Jer. 28:10-17). This gives credence to Jeremiah's prophecies, for example, about the time when all on earth will know the Lord. Jer 31:33-34 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ' Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares This time has not come, but we can have confidence in it because of earlier prophecies of Jeremiah fulfilled already. Another prophecy of Jeremiah already fulfilled was his prediction of the fall of the temple in Jerusalem (Jer. 7:12-14). Nobody believed him at the time, but it actually occurred So we can have confidence that there will come a time when everyone will "know the LORD."
DANIEL'S PROPHECIES OF FIRST ADVENT AND END TIME. Another example is the prophet Daniel. He spoke of 2300 prophetic "days" when the "sanctuary" would be cleansed. Daniel, who knew these were actually 2300 prophetic years, groaned knowing the time would be long. But then he is told that 70 "weeks" would be cut off from that period of time which would bring Israel to its Messiah Prince. That prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus presented himself at the Jordan River at the beginning of the 70th prophetic week (69 x 7 years = 383 years) in A.D. 29. (For a complete study of this subject, please check, THE TIME IS AT HAND, "The fulfillment of Time prophecy at the First advent of Christ. Dan. 9:23-27.) So then students of prophecy could have confidence in Daniel as a reliable prophet. Isaiah spoke of many First Advent prophecies which were already fulfilled (such as Isaiah 53)-so we can have confidence in his end-time prophecies.
3) FORMATION OF BIBLE — In OT times there were many prophets, how do we know which ones God inspired to write? How may we conclude which disciples of Jesus wrote books that were inspired by God?
FORMATION OF OLD TESTAMENT CANON. The formation of the Old Testament canon was gradual, and was composed of the writings which spread over many centuries. Moses commanded that the books of the law be placed in the ark. This—with the addition of the book of Joshua—was done, and the sacred books were kept there during the wilderness journey, and also were in the ark during its permanent residence in Jerusalem. (Deuteronomy 31:9,26, cf. 2 Kings 22:8; Joshua 24:26; 1 Samuel 10:25.) Then were gathered and placed in the temple the historical and prophetical books from Joshua to David's time. On the construction of the temple Solomon deposited in it the earlier books (2 Kings 22:8, Isaiah 34:16), and enriched the collection with inspired writings from his own pen, and also some prophetic writings. So we find Daniel (9:2, R.V.) referring to "the books," Isaiah to "the book of the Lord" (29:18, 34:16).
PROPHETS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. After Solomon's day a succession of prophets arose, Jonah, Amos, Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, and Habakkuk. These all flourished before the destruction of the temple, and enlarged the collection of existing sacred books by valuable additions. After the Babylonian capture, when the temple was rebuilt and worship re-established, then doubtless were added the writings of Haggai and Zechariah. About fifty years after the temple was rebuilt Ezra made a collection of the sacred writings (Neh. 8:2,3,14). To this collection were added the writings of Nehemiah, Malachi, and Ezra. It is a fact of history that Nehemiah gathered the "Acts of the Kings and the Prophets, and those of David," when founding a library for the second temple, 432 B.C. (See 2 Maccabees 2:13).
CANON OF OLD TESTAMENT CONCLUDED. The canon of the Old Testament in the form we now have it, was the work of Ezra and the Great Synagogue. This fact is borne witness to in the most ancient Jewish writings. The Great Synagogue was composed of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. There is no doubt but that such a collection of books existed in the time of our Lord and the apostles (Luke 24:27,44)
THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON. The New Testament canon was gradually added to that of the Old Testament. But it was some considerable time after our Lord's ascension before any of the books contained in it were actually written. The first and most important work of the apostles was to deliver a personal testimony to the chief facts of the Gospel history (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:21,22). Their teaching was at first oral, and it was no part of their intention to create a permanent literature. A cycle of selected representative facts sufficed to form the groundwork of their oral Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-10).
GOSPEL ACCOUNTS. But in the course of time many endeavored to commit to writing this oral Gospel (Luke 1:1-4). So long as the apostles were still living, the necessity for written records of the words and actions of our Lord was not so pressing. But when the time came for their removal from this world, it became extremely important the authoritative records should be put forth. Thus the Gospels came into existence, two by apostles themselves, and two by friends and close companions of the apostles.
EPISTLES TO THE CHURCH. But already had arisen another kind of composition. Founders of churches, often unable to visit them personally, desired to communicate with their converts for purposes of counsel, reproof, and instruction. Thus arose the Epistles, which were put forth from time to time to meet special needs and emergencies.
PERSECUTION AND GENUINE CANON. The persecution of Diocletian (302 A.D.) brought to the front the question of the sacred literature of the church. The persecutors demanded that the Scriptures should be given up. This the Christians refused to do. Hence the question became urgent-What books are apostolic? The answer lies in our New Testament. There were at that time many false and spurious gospels and epistles. Careful, prayerful, and deliberate examination, however, proved which were genuine and which were false. The genuine were received by the church as the inspired writings of the apostles and others whose names the books bear. Thus arose the New Testament canon.
4) At the present time, there are writers who claim inspiration. How can we determine which ones might be added to the Bible?
APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. These books derive their name from a Greek word, apokruphos, which means "hidden." They are so called because they are,- (1) hidden; (2) of unknown authority; (3) spurious. They were not recognized as inspired books by the Jews, who regarded them, however as having high authority, and held them in high esteem as being a valuable history of their nation. Although they were carefully distinguished from the canonical Scriptures, their use was not only allowed, but many of them are quoted in Talmudical writings. The Apocrypha contains fourteen books. They were given a place by themselves in the sacred volume, but with the distinct statement that they were not to be regarded as of equal authority with the books of the canon, their position being between the Old and New Testaments. We find them in some Bibles to-day—especially in Roman Catholic Bibles, since they are regarded by the roman church as inspired books. Internal evidence, moreover, is against their inspiration. Divine authority is claimed by none of the writers, and by some it is virtually disowned (2 Mac. 2:23; 15:38). The books contain statements at variance with history (Baruch 1:2, compared with Jer. 43:6,7), self-contradictory, and opposed to the doctrines and precepts of Scripture."
CONCLUSION ON CANONOSITY OF BIBLE. These facts sufficiently indicate the course of the argument by which the canonicity of the sacred Scriptures is proved. Let it be proven that these books were written by the men whose names they bear, and that these men wrote under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, and the canonicity of the Bible is a settled fact. We have, therefore, a right to believe that we have in our Bible a rule of faith and life-yes, the supreme and ultimate rule-by which we may govern our lives in order that they may be in accordance with the revealed will of God!
Solomon, hope these thoughts have been helpful. Much more could be said, of course! We would encourage you to check out our excellent study helps of Studies in the Scriptures. Vol. 1 of the series deals with "The Bible as a Divine Revelation Viewed in the Light of Reason." htdbv5/htdb0070.htm